In the previous post, I began to share about the games that I played in at Origins. This is the second part detailing the rest of the games I played and how they went.
Friday began with another great game run by Matinee Adventures: “Avatar: Cliffs of the Western Sky” using the Ubiquity system (the core system of Hollow Earth Expedition). This was based on Avatar: The Last Airbender, not the James Cameron movie, and took place about 100 years before the show. Each of us played a bender (and we had all four types in our group with me playing an Earthbender). The scenario was that we were warning the Western Air Temple that the Fire Nation had declared war on them. Of course, they followed us at the speed of plot and began their siege soon after we arrived. The elders of the temple charged us with safeguarding one of the children (which I’m sure will turn out to be Aang) and we were able to escape to safety.
The GM did a great job with this game and was willing to play it fast and loose. Element Bending was divided into three general skills: Bending-Offensive, Bending-Defensive, and Bending-Manipulative. We declared what crazy stunts we wanted to do, the GM set a target number, and we rolled it. Personally, I really like this style over the myriad list of spells and special abilities many systems have and in the end I thought it worked really well. The GM plans to continue next year with more scenarios being built off the events of this year’s, but being standalone so new players can jump in. I had a good time with this and I may join in on one of them next year.
In the evening I played in “Scooby Cthulhu” run by Amorphous Blob (who haven’t updated their website in ages) using the Savage Worlds system and the setting rules from Realms of Cthulhu. The game started out on a great note, with the GM passing out Scooby Snacks to everyone and all of us getting right into character (I got to play Scooby!). The gang was teamed up with Adam West and Burt Ward (one character) as Batman and Robin. We started at the First Annual Coolsdale Automotive Car Show (which also had the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile there) and eventually investigated a series of strange events.
The players were great (especially the one playing Adam West and Burt Reynolds) and the scenario was decent, but I have to say that the GM ruined the game for me because he didn’t have a clue how to run Savage Worlds. Sure, he got the basics down like rolling the dice, but he was having Fighting rolls directly dealing damage (rather than being to-hit), all the bad guys were mysteriously rolling “dodge checks” when we attacked them, and the GM was spending bennies to make players reroll. Definitely not Savage Worlds.
I know that Amorphous Blob prides themselves in “roles, not rules,” but this was ridiculous. The first few times he slipped up, I let it go and didn’t let it ruin my fun. About the time he declared “I really hate this system” I was frustrated and the game was ruined for me. If he didn’t like Savage Worlds, he shouldn’t have chosen it! My experience was further soured when we ran an hour over our alloted time and didn’t really have a satisfactory ending. It’s a pity too because Amorophous Blob has a reputation for running really good games (and for that reason I’m still willing to give them another chance). I’ve sent an e-mail to them explaining my dissatisfaction and I hope I’ll have a better time next year.
Saturday started with a GIANT Settlers of Catan game. It was the second win of Catan I have ever had in my life. I was thrilled!
In the evening I took part in “Savage Saturday Night,” an informal running of Savage Worlds games hosted by Pinnacle Entertainment. Being the Savage Worlds poster boy that I am, I was excited to go. And I was fortunate enough to play in a Deadlands game run by Shane Hensley himself! Shane is the man who created both Savage Worlds and Deadlands, so it was really a privilege to get to play in his game.
We were working with the Collegium to defend a portion of Slaughter Gulch from Hellstrome’s automatons. I personally had a lot of fun with that playing a Shadowstepping Huckster. When Shane asked me to name him, the first name that popped into my head was “Biff,” so we had Biff the Huckster. Biff fought alongside another Huckster, a Texas Ranger, a Mad Scientist, a Buffalo Gal, an Agent, a Martial Artist, and a few others. Unfortunately my Huckster made the mistake of trying to shadowstep into the church (completely forgetting that dealing with the devil to get into holy ground was a really bad idea). With a nasty roll on the backlash table, he wound up getting really paranoid and Shane told me that Biff was convinced that the Texas Ranger in our group was leading the assault. A missed Soul Blast attack on him meant the Texas Ranger had a chance to put me down. But before he pulled the trigger to put Biff out of his misery, the Ranger quipped, “Typical of a Huckster to bring a card to a gunfight.”
I got to finish up the session bringing the padre into the fight who was surprisingly effective at whacking automatons with his smited hickory stick. In the end, we were all able to work together to save our portion of Slaughter Gulch. Everyone seemed to have a great time at the game and I’m already looking forward to next year’s Savage Saturday Night.
Sunday was a brief day with demoing the boardgames Zombie Survival and Deadlands: The Battle for Slaughter Gulch, both of which were made by Twilight Creations (the Deadlands game was licensed). Zombie Survival was fun and innovative. I really liked some of the mechanics like how you kill zombies (as shown on the left). The Deadlands game was sort of fun but cumbersome (although fairly innovative). The weirdest thing was that you were one person, but you could be in up to 6 places at once. To gain more people, you recruited townsfolk, but then they suddenly gained all your stats once they joined you. I think I’ll pass on that board game because without the Deadlands name to it, I thought it was an okay game and “Okay doesn’t generate sales.”
So that concludes my long list of games I played at Origins 2011. All in all, I’m happy with it. Most were good, a few were okay, and I was disappointed with only one. As a quick review of my experiences:
- Both games run by Matinee Adventures were awesome and I’ll be looking forward to gaming with them in the future.
- “Okay doesn’t generate sales.”
- It can be a big turn off to the players when you don’t understand the basic mechanics of the system you’re running. You don’t need to know every detail, but make sure you actually know the basic rules.
- Despite my usual poor luck in Settlers of Catan, I actually won!
- If you game with Shane, you’ll have lots of fun, but your character will most likely die a nasty death!
Yesterday I blogged about the games I played at Origins. I enjoy GMing, but really enjoy playing too and it’s something I don’t get to do enough of. A lot of the games I played this time around were with systems I was unfamiliar with, but I’m always willing to try new stuff.
Wednesday of the convention started with a game I knew little about called “Scarlet Pimpernel: The Trap is Set” using the 7th Sea system. The scenario was based on The Scarlet Pimpernel (a novel I was previously unfamiliar with) involving a league of English aristocrats who secretly rescue French aristocrats from their appointments with the guillotine during the early stages of the French Revolution. The 7th Sea system caught my eye because it advertises itself as a “swashbuckling and sorcery” game and still has a pretty strong fan base despite the fact that it has been out of print for 6 years (it’s still available on DriveThruRPG in PDF format though).
The sorcery aspects were almost completely ignored for this scenario, but the GM did a fantastic job of highlighting the swashbuckling nature. We were slicing tapestries and throwing them over our enemies’ heads, shattering second story windows as we leapt to the attackers below, and doing spinning attacks while taunting three foes at once. There was also a great deal of social interaction as we bartered with individuals, found our ways to safe houses, and even attended a royal ball. All in all, the game was really enjoyable and was my first positive experience with the Matinee Adventures group of GMs.
Next was “Paragons: Project Paragon” using the new Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition system. I’d played 2nd and 1st edition once each (and in that order) so I figured I’d give this one a go. The system was more streamlined and largely felt to me like D&D 4e for superheroes, but without the powercards (which is a tad ironic given that these guys actually did have “powers”). In all, I liked the simplicity of the system and would definitely be willing to try it again.
The Paragons setting was a bit like the TV series Heroes in that ordinary people wound up discovering that they had extraordinary abilities. I wound up playing Nathan Blackmoor who was the only one who didn’t look normal: in addition to his panther-like powers, he actually looked like a panther. Starting out at a safe house for supers, we wound up tracking down an organization trying to steal information on Project Paragon, a program to artificially create supers. A certain woman was our primary antagonist, but we soon found out that there were a number of clones of her, all hunting us down. The scenario was alright (didn’t have much of a resolution though) and the GM wasn’t very enthusiastic or engaging, but there wasn’t really anything that I feel hurt the game. Not the best game, but it could have been better.
Thursday was my Savage Worlds day starting with Iron Dynasty: Way of the Ronin, a Savage Worlds setting with the same name. Iron Dynasty is largely a mix of historical Japan with magic and ghost stories come to life. For instance, we fought a Ghost Lantern, which lured travelers to their deaths. This scenario was run by the creator of the setting and we ran an introductory adventure he wrote.
At the end though, I thought it was okay. I didn’t see anything particularly compelling about the setting and the GMing style was decent, but not inspiring. I was given a $5 off coupon to buy Iron Dynasty, but decided against it. As the Platinum Warlock put it, “Okay doesn’t generate sales.” To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever pick it up, what with so many other great Savage Worlds settings out there that I find much more interesting…
…Like Deadlands for instance. Later that day was “Clint’s Rock” using Deadlands Reloaded, which as I’ve previously mentioned is a Savage Worlds setting I greatly enjoy. I got to play a Mad Scientist who, along with the other characters, was hired by Hellstrome Industries to kick Clint off his property, forcefully if necessary, in order to make room for the new railroad. Little did we know that the ol’ coot had learned a bit of magic in his time away from society and we had giant spiked bears and walkin’ dead to contend with. Only after I torched his house with my flamethrower did we discover that the dynamite he was throwing at us was magically appearing in his hands! In the end, though, Clint met his fate and we were able to claim our bounty for completing our job.
I think that’s enough explanation of my games for one day, so I’ll leave you on that and say: “To be continued…”