Metatopia was a bit over a month ago, and it only recently occurred to me that I never did a writeup of the con! I'll probably have less to say in this recap that I normally would. For one thing, it's been a month, so things aren't totally fresh in my mind. For another, I made a conscious effort to not over-schedule myself this year, which I think I did with moderate success. It's something I say to myself every year, honestly, but this year, I think I actually made the effort to do something about it. I made sure to leave time to get enough sleep and take decent meal breaks, and I think it did me a lot of good. I had a great time, as always, and didn't suffer much con drop afterward, so thus far, results are encouraging. That said, for the reduced amount I'll have to say, Metatopia being what it is (a playtest-focused con with short slots), there are still plenty of games to talk about. Also I was much better about remember to take pictures this time. Let's get to it!
Per usual with all Metatopia recaps, everything presented here is based on playtest material and not final published versions.
Questlandia 2 by Hannah Shaffer and Evan Rowland/Make Big Things
Presented by Hannah Shaffer
Questlandia 2 is, you might gather, the next edition of Questlandia (from the same designers and publisher). While the first version was explicitly designed for one-shots, Questlandia 2 is being designed to support long-term play, and is a standout in the area of campaign games for being GMless. I won't go too far into the design, largely because if you're interested, you can check out the design for yourself! Questlandia 2 is being designed more or less in public on the podcast Design Doc, so I definitely recommend checking that out!
The game is about exploring a series of doomed worlds by living the lives of inhabitants of those worlds. This playtest focused mostly on the collaborative worldbuilding part of the game which, as you may or may not know, is absolutely my jam. What's fun about Questlandia 2 is that this process is undergone many times over the course of a campaign, which makes this game many times my jam.
The worldbuilding is driven by narrative prompts fueled by a custom "alethiometer" which, for those of you unfamiliar with The Golden Compass or Northern Lights, is like a roulette wheel, except instead of a number you get a symbol or icon to spark ideas—imagine a 36-sided Rory's Story Cube. You fill in a series of narrative blanks and a little map, and you've got a world to explore. It's a lot of fun!
Beyond being fun, the completed world also then informs a kind of mini-design that then lets you make characters particularly suited for that world. These are the second layer of characters in Questlandia 2, similar to how, say, a game about actors in different movies would have you (the player) play an actor (the PC) who is playing a movie character (the...whatever...sub-character?).
The world we created was dominated by a kind of factory-state, as society paid lots of attention to the crafting of jewelry and accessories. The world was facing environmental and safety issues and material scarcity from overmining, and society-at-large had to deal with subversive elements in the form of underground artisans that insisted on creating their own jewelry without government sanction. There was also a fringe population of stargazers who maintained that the stars were trying to warn of impending doom. At this point, I can't remember all the characters; there was a miner who could navigate the dangerous mining chasm, some kind of mechanic-priest, a dilettante underground artist...it definitely all left me wanting to play the game!
I'm very excited about this game. The worlds-within-worlds premise is exciting and strongly supported by the players-playing-characters-playing-characters structure. We didn't explore gameplay beyond the worldbuilding and chargen, but I'm eager to see how the system shakes out, particularly as contrasted to the first Questlandia. If you're interested in this game, be sure to check out Make Big Things, but also I recommend taking advantage of the unique opportunity to track the development of this game via the Design Doc podcast.