Origins 2022 (June 8-12): [UPDATE] I'll be GMing several games

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Origins 2022 (June 8-12): [UPDATE] I'll be GMing several games

Post by Ares »

So, a question to everyone. This'll be an Ares-length post, so get comfortable and bring snacks.

A lot of you have problem heard me mention that I'm working on my own system to self-publish/crowdfund. Well, this year I've decided to finally playtest it at a bigger game convention, namely Origins in June. It'll be the first time I run a convention game in a while, and the first time at such a big con, so I wanted to get some feed back and thoughts.

One of the big selling points of the system is the freedom to build whatever you want, as well as a fun and engaging game mechanics system. So while I'll be running adventures with pre-made characters, I want them to reflect a wide range of options to get across what you can build.

The convention will be running Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with Wednesday and Sunday being 'half days'. I also figure Sunday is the least important day, since a lot of folks are packing up and leaving on Sunday.

My usual format was to run games based around a single genre each day, and then have one day where I run a multi-genre game where you could play as any of the characters from the previous adventures in one big mega crossover / team-up event. So on previous conventions I'd have run a Fantasy adventure several times one day, a Superhero game several times the next, a Sci-Fi game the next, and then do a big crossover game where you could play as the Fantasy, Superhero or Sci-Fi characters from the previous game in a give mega event.

My current plan is to run 4-hour adventures, running two games on Wednesday and Sunday, three games on Thursday and Friday, and maybe run two longer 6-to-8 hour games on Saturday and make them the crossover/mega-event games. And to maximize the amount of games I can run, I'm thinking of the following schedule.

I'd run one game twice on Wednesday Afternoon/Evening.
I'd run one game twice on Thursday Morning/Afternoon.
I'd run one game twice on Friday Morning/Afternoon.
I'd run one game on Thursday night and then again on Friday night.
I'd run the crossover game twice on Saturday.
I'd run two games on Sunday and just let the players that show up pick what they want me to run.

That's a lot of game running, but I want to maximize my time there and get as much game testing done as possible. But there are two points I'm currently debating:

1) Which genres to run, and how much genre blending should be in each game?
2) Generic Characters meant to represent archetypes vs Established Characters that people know?


- Genre: This point is big because genre emulation is a big thing with the system, and I want to show that it isn't just "a supers" system or "a fantasy" system, it can handle everything. The system itself has six genres that it holds up as primary tent poles and heavily incorporates them, said genres being Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Supernatural (urban fantasy and/or horror), Superheroes, Martial Arts and Lawmen (a catch all for contemporary cops & robbers, spy and military games). Other genres that tend to be different flavors of the above six like Pulp and Anime/Tokusatsu are also mentioned and emulated.

So my question is what genres should I run that would get the most foot traffic, and how much genre blending should I do within those games?

Regarding which genres, games that I've run with a Pulp theme have always been popular. Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Superheroes are pretty big staples. But maybe someone would like to see a Tokusatus-style superhero game? Maybe a full on martial arts game? There's just a lot of possibilities. I will technically be running 8 games not counting the crossover games and the "Sunday whatever" games, so I could dedicate one game to each genre, but that'd be a lot to keep track of, and I want to see how different groups of people play through the same adventure. So I'm going to limit myself to a maximum of four different adventures, not counting the crossover one.

Regarding genre blending, I mean that if I run a game in a Modern setting, should it be a Lawman game, a Superhero game, a Supernatural game, or should it be set in the modern era and you can pick archetypes from any of those genres? Do I want something solid in one genre, like a Dresden Files or Marvel Superheroes game, or do I want something that feels more like a game of Feng Shui?


- Characters: This point becomes a question of what would people want to play more. Do people want to see how a generic Ranger plays, or do they want to play Aragorn or Drizzt? Would they rather play a generic flying strong invulnerable guy meant to emulate the flying paragon archetype, or would they rather play as Superman?

Part of me thinks the name recognition would help get people interested in signing up, especially for the crossover stuff. A game where you could hypothetically see Spider-Man, Superman, Luke Skywalker and Optimus Prime all charging into battle is cool.

At the same time, a lot of people want to play their own characters their own way, and when designing a system you want to show folks how they might build their favorite archetypes for those games. If someone wants to play a paladin, giving them a generic paladin lets them create that character's personality for the game, and shows them what a paladin might look like in my system. As opposed to literally building Turalyon or Uther the Lightbringer.

I'm going to use my next post describing some games I've previously run. After that, I'd appreciate any thoughts you'd like to share.
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Re: Origins 2022 (June 8-12): I plan to GM some games and I'd like your input

Post by Ares »

Like I said, I’ve run games at conventions for several years before COVID hit. Each year I ran a game, it had a particular theme to that year, and each one had a crossover aspect to it. Some of the previous games include:


1) Live Action Superheroes - East vs West: This was a more simple one, but had some heavy crossover elements to it. The idea was that one day I’d run a game where you played as several heroes from different live action superhero universes. So you got plenty of heroes from the MCU, some of the better versions of DCU heroes (like the DCEU Batman, but the CW Superman and Flash), but also non-DCU heroes like Witchblade, Peter Petrelli from Heroes, etc.

The next day I ran a different adventure with heroes from various live action Japanese superhero franchises. This naturally included Tokusatsu shows like Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, but also included live-action adaptations of anime heroes, such as Sailor Moon, Cutey Honey, Goku, the Guyver, etc.

The crossover game then had the characters from both games available for play, a fight between the heroes, and then the rest of the adventure spent trying to find out who the real bad guys were. Which turned out to be the Decepticons from the Michael Bay Transformers movies, along with some bad guys from both American and Japanese franchises. So this was a game where Superman and Goku could simultaneously punch Devastator.

It’s a fun idea, but I wonder if it’d also work with generic characters meant to represent those archetypes, so that the players have a bit more freedom. Play “a magic girl” instead of Sailor Moon, or “a flying brick” instead of Superman.


2) The Crisis on Infinite RPGs: This was meant to showcase the character building potential of my system. The idea was to take various established RPG systems and settings, such as Dungeons and Dragons, Champions, Cyberpunk, WEG’s Star Wars and so on, and have some big multiversal crisis where there were four points of impact: the mythic past, the recent past, the present and the future. You’d play as heroes from those games, but generic ones to showcase what kind of character you could build and give you more RPing potential.

So the Mythic Past game had characters like a Paladin from D&D, a Wizard from Pathfinder, a legacy hero wielding Thor’s hammer from Marvel Superheroes, a new person with the Power of Shazam from DC heroes, a martial artist from Weapons of the Gods, a samurai from Legend of Five Rings, a swashbuckler from 7th Sea, a barbarian from the Conan games, a Scion from White Wolf’s game, etc.

The Recent Past was set in a crazy Pulp/WWII era game, so you had a Call of Cthulhu investigator, characters from Pulp games like Hollow Earth Expedition, Adventure!, Spirit of the Century, as well as games like Weird Wars from Savage Worlds, a few Golden Age Superheroes from various systems, a mech pilot from Gear Kreig, etc.

The Present had characters from various superhero games like Marvel Superheroes, DC Heroes, Champions, but also the Dresden Files, Feng Shui, Spycraft, BESM, etc.

And the Future naturally had characters from Star Wars, Star Trek, ShadowRun, Cyberpunk, Spelljammer, Mekton Zeta and some sci-fi superheroes.

This game was basically a kind of “anything you can make, I can make funner” type situation to show that you could literally play character archetypes from other games just as well in my game.

This was a fun game and might be worth re-using, but at the same time it might be a bit too “thumbing my nose at the competition and turn off some players.


3) The Toybox Wars: Infinite Dimensions: This was kind of a weird one, but a very fun one. This was made shortly after both Disney Infinity and LEGO Dimensions shut down. For those of you who don’t know, both of them were Toys-To-Life video games where you had a little figurine with a computer chip in it and place it on a pad connected to the game system. That character would come with some built in abilities, but also store any changes you made or unlocked with them. So if you had a figure of Luke Skywalker, you’d place it on the pad and you’d get to play Luke Skywalker in the game, and the figure would store all of the data related to your character on it.

The idea was that, after the shutdowns, the figures from both games wound up in the same toy box. This then creates a universe where characters from both games co-exist. So you had a modern Earth where Superman, Spider-Man, Mr. Incredible, Egon Spengler and the A-Team all existed together, but you also had a fantasy realm where Thor, Gandalf, Aladdin, and Elsa all hung out. And there was also a sci-fi setting where Luke Skywalker, the Doctor and Buzz Lightyear hung out.

Well, then the parents decided to put their old toys from the 80s into that same toybox, and all of the bad guys from those old toylines worked together with the bad guys from the new toylines to defeat the 80s heroes, and then started to work together to take over those other worlds. The heroes of the modern games had to work together to stop this Retro Invasion. Adventures included:

The Fall of Asgard – Sauron works together with Skeletor and a few others to take over Asgard. Sauron now inhabits the Destroyer armor, his helmet replacing the Destroyer’s head and the One Ring worn around its neck like a golden collar. The heroes have to infiltrate Asgard, free the prisoners and somehow stop the bad guys. Playable characters included Thor, Hercules (Disney), Mulan, Mauii, Aragorn, Elsa, Harry Potter, the Ghostbusters and more.

Crisis in Central Park – The Shredder is working with several villains to turn Central Park into a mutant and dinosaur infested nightmare. Heroes included Batman, Spider-Man, several Ninjago characters, Ethan Hunt from Mission Impossible, Hiro and Baymax and more.

Terror From Beyond – The Decpticons have found the crashed remains of the Deathstar and are trying to attach Unicron’s head to it. Playable heroes included Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan, Buzz Lightyear, Tron, Green Lantern, Iron Man and more.

Doorway to Doom – The final adventure, one where the good guys have to infiltrate a base composed of several of the bad guy playsets from the 80s, such Snake Mountain, Cobra’s Terror Drome, Shredder’s Technodrome, the Tower of Doom, the Fright Zone, etc. There they’d find all of the 80s heroes being used as power sources for the bad guys, and they need to be rescued.

Honestly, this one was a lot of fun, and probably the one I’d consider re-running the most. Though I think if I did it this time around I’d make it a mix of modern franchises and 80s franchises, because I know someone would want to play a Transformer. And I can’t blame them.

The only problem I’d worry about is that the idea of calling the game the “Toybox Wars” and being built around toy properties would turn people off. Make them think it was too kiddy or some such. Maybe it’d be worth updating it to some kind of Cartoon Crossover or Animation Amalgamation, where you have characters from animation across the decades teaming up. That might make the whole thing more appealing, especially if it includes anime characters.

And maybe go with generic heroes instead of named ones. Play a random Autobot created for the game rather than Optimus Prime, for instance.


I won't definitely be re-running any of these games, I just wanted to give examples of what I've run in the past. There's a 50/50 chance I'll just create something wholly new for Origins, but if you guys think any of these are worth updating for Origins, I'll happily consider it.
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Re: Origins 2022 (June 8-12): I plan to GM some games and I'd like your input

Post by Woodclaw »

As far as my experience goes, conventtion games needs to be either flashy or capitalize on a popular theme, hence I think you should really crank all the dials of your game up to 15 and just go nuts.
Although this mightt create some initial "character recognition" problems, it would be big time in the long run, giving you the freedom to play what you like and your players a way to try something really new.
Of course, the risk is branding your system way to heavily.
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Re: Origins 2022 (June 8-12): I plan to GM some games and I'd like your input

Post by Ares »

Woodclaw wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 8:06 pm As far as my experience goes, conventtion games needs to be either flashy or capitalize on a popular theme, hence I think you should really crank all the dials of your game up to 15 and just go nuts.
Although this mightt create some initial "character recognition" problems, it would be big time in the long run, giving you the freedom to play what you like and your players a way to try something really new.
Of course, the risk is branding your system way to heavily.
My plan is definitely some flavor of "Go big or go home". It sounds like you're recommending I NOT use established characters, and use generic stand-ins instead to give the players a bit more freedom, and to give a more broad example than a specific.

Something along those lines I'm considering is the idea of each game being set in a specific genre, but in each game there's a moment where various sub-genres within the larger genre are meeting to establish some stronger union, and some evil force is trying to break them up. Which naturally only results in those forces uniting to defeat its representatives in their world, and then come together for the crossover game to defeat the entity itself.

Like, have one game be a Superhero game, with the idea of it being a good will tournament between heroes from the East and West. So on the western side you'd have a Flying Paragon/Brick who combines elements of Superman and Captain Marvel, a masked crimefighter in the Batman mold, a super patriot that combines elements of Captain America and Wonder Woman, a Spider-Man style insect hero, an Iron Man style power armor hero, etc. And on the eastern side you'd have a Kamen Rider expy, a Sentai expy who can actually summon his teammates for bonuses and attacks, a Sailor Moon style magical girl, a Dragon Ball Z style super-martial artist, etc.

Only when that tournament starts, it turns into an attack from supervillains, the heroes need to fight off the attack, figure out what's going on, etc.

Similarly, in a Fantasy game, there might be some big diplomatic meeting between several kingdoms/nations, each of whom is a type of fantasy. You have the one kingdom that is more Robert E. Howard's Conan, with Barbarians and Thieves, you have a D&D/Tolkien inspired high fantasy with knights, paladins and wizards, you have the kind of wuxia/Chinese fantasy with wuxia inspired heroes, etc. But then some big bad shows up to mess the event up, the heroes unite, etc.

Make the Sci-Fi and Pulp games similar, different sub-genres (or in Pulp's case, the larger genres within the Pulp genre), but at the end of each game have a Doctor Who-esque traveler show up to let them know that this isn't the end, and that a larger threat remains. Then the crossover game comes around and you can pick anyone from the above four games to play in some multiversal battle for existence.
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Re: Origins 2022 (June 8-12): I plan to GM some games and I'd like your input

Post by greycrusader »

Honestly, Ares, I think all three are outstanding ideas for Origins games; I think the live-action heroes concept would appeal to many gamers who aren't typically attracted to superhero rpgs, while the other two are are epic enough to command 2-3 sessions of play over the course of the weekend, and would put any universal rpg system to the test. Contrary to some of your previous respondents, I would use known characters from established universes; I honestly found this to be a draw when conventions were a more regular thing for me. Just make it clear to the players that you reserve the right to overrule any wild out of character actions (though another option is allowing players to take on alt-universe versions, giving the scenario an even wilder mix). And I personally think any Pulp/Urban Fantasy/Swords and Sorcery elements are absolutely your baliwick.

All my best.
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Re: Origins 2022 (June 8-12): I plan to GM some games and I'd like your input

Post by Ares »

greycrusader wrote: Mon Jan 31, 2022 3:46 am Honestly, Ares, I think all three are outstanding ideas for Origins games; I think the live-action heroes concept would appeal to many gamers who aren't typically attracted to superhero rpgs, while the other two are are epic enough to command 2-3 sessions of play over the course of the weekend, and would put any universal rpg system to the test. Contrary to some of your previous respondents, I would use known characters from established universes; I honestly found this to be a draw when conventions were a more regular thing for me. Just make it clear to the players that you reserve the right to overrule any wild out of character actions (though another option is allowing players to take on alt-universe versions, giving the scenario an even wilder mix). And I personally think any Pulp/Urban Fantasy/Swords and Sorcery elements are absolutely your baliwick.

All my best.
Thanks for the feedback and for the kind words! I'm glad you like the idea and I definitely do see where established settings would be a big draw.

I think the overall adventure scheme I'll go with will be the one I mentioned in my response to Woodclaw in the post right above yours, but the nice thing about the idea is that it's easy enough to substitute established characters for the more generic stand ins. For the "superheroes East vs West" game for instance, I could just as easily actually use Superman, Batman, Captain America, Spider-Man and so on for the American heroes and use a Kamen Rider, Sailor Moon, Goku/Vegita, etc.

So the adventures I'll use I'm pretty set on, it's just now a matter of established characters vs generic ones.
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Re: Origins 2022 (June 8-12): I plan to GM some games and I'd like your input

Post by Woodclaw »

Ares wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 9:32 pm
Woodclaw wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 8:06 pm As far as my experience goes, conventtion games needs to be either flashy or capitalize on a popular theme, hence I think you should really crank all the dials of your game up to 15 and just go nuts.
Although this mightt create some initial "character recognition" problems, it would be big time in the long run, giving you the freedom to play what you like and your players a way to try something really new.
Of course, the risk is branding your system way to heavily.
My plan is definitely some flavor of "Go big or go home". It sounds like you're recommending I NOT use established characters, and use generic stand-ins instead to give the players a bit more freedom, and to give a more broad example than a specific.

Something along those lines I'm considering is the idea of each game being set in a specific genre, but in each game there's a moment where various sub-genres within the larger genre are meeting to establish some stronger union, and some evil force is trying to break them up. Which naturally only results in those forces uniting to defeat its representatives in their world, and then come together for the crossover game to defeat the entity itself.

Like, have one game be a Superhero game, with the idea of it being a good will tournament between heroes from the East and West. So on the western side you'd have a Flying Paragon/Brick who combines elements of Superman and Captain Marvel, a masked crimefighter in the Batman mold, a super patriot that combines elements of Captain America and Wonder Woman, a Spider-Man style insect hero, an Iron Man style power armor hero, etc. And on the eastern side you'd have a Kamen Rider expy, a Sentai expy who can actually summon his teammates for bonuses and attacks, a Sailor Moon style magical girl, a Dragon Ball Z style super-martial artist, etc.

Only when that tournament starts, it turns into an attack from supervillains, the heroes need to fight off the attack, figure out what's going on, etc.

Similarly, in a Fantasy game, there might be some big diplomatic meeting between several kingdoms/nations, each of whom is a type of fantasy. You have the one kingdom that is more Robert E. Howard's Conan, with Barbarians and Thieves, you have a D&D/Tolkien inspired high fantasy with knights, paladins and wizards, you have the kind of wuxia/Chinese fantasy with wuxia inspired heroes, etc. But then some big bad shows up to mess the event up, the heroes unite, etc.

Make the Sci-Fi and Pulp games similar, different sub-genres (or in Pulp's case, the larger genres within the Pulp genre), but at the end of each game have a Doctor Who-esque traveler show up to let them know that this isn't the end, and that a larger threat remains. Then the crossover game comes around and you can pick anyone from the above four games to play in some multiversal battle for existence.
Yes, that's mostly my idea, a very recognizable power/characterization base with one or two nice twists.
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Re: Origins 2022 (June 8-12): I plan to GM some games and I'd like your input

Post by Jack of Spades »

I think whether or not to use names vs. archetypes depends in part on how much your system mechanically reflects personality. I wouldn't want to try to playlets Smallville with Clark as generic super-person, because so much of that system is about representing his personality and relationships. On the other hand, Champions would go just fine (and possibly better) with generic super-person with vulnerability to green space rocks; you avoid arguments about whether that's really enough Strength for a Kryptonian.

In looking at a catalog of convention games, though, I'm more likely to go for the former than the later. But then, I like seeing personality and especially values play a mechanical role.
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Re: Origins 2022 (June 8-12): [UPDATE] I'll be GMing several games

Post by Ares »

Well, I just found out that my submissions are accepted and I'll be running several games at Origins this year.

So the schedule looks like it'll be:

Wednesday - June 8
- 1pm - In The Shadows of Peace! (4 hours)
- 7pm - In The Shadows of Peace! (4 hours)

Thursday - June 9
- 9am - Space Race to the Rescue! (4 hours)
- 2pm - Space Race to the Rescue! (4 hours)
- 7pm - Terror Beyond Time! (4 hours)

Friday - June 10
- 9am - Superhero Showdown! (4 hours)
- 2pm - Superhero Showdown! (4 hours)
- 7pm - Terror Beyond Time! (4 hours)

Saturday - June 11
- 9pm - Battle at the Heart of Infinity! (6 hours)

Sunday - June 12
- 9am - Battle at the Heart of Infinity! (6 hours)


In the end, I opted to go with homebrew characters rather than established heroes. I actually decided to take it a step further and set the games in my own universe (which admittedly is still a work in progress), and have the available characters either be archetypes from my various settings or characters I plan to include.

For those curious:

In the Shadows of Peace!: Will be set on my Fantasy World. The players will be representatives of three human nations that are meeting in a neutral territory to discuss formalizing a lasting peace between them. But there are forces who not only want these peace talks to fail, but see it as an opportunity to plunge these nations into open war. Players will have to protect their charges and work to uncover who is trying to bring war back to the lands.

Space Race to Adventure!: Will take place in my Space Setting. A distress beacon is detected on a remote planet in neutral territory. Three of the nearby greater galactic empires all wish to respond, but to ensure no funny business, the rescue party will be composed of representatives from each empire. The players will have to work together, find out what caused the spaceship to crash, explore the planet and rescue any survivors.

Terror Beyond Time!: Will be set in Earth's Pulp Era. Adventurer Max Malone has passed away, and asked his close friends and fellow pulp heroes to see to the dividing of his estate. But it's soon apparent that Max's death was no accident, and that enemies from his past seek something the hero had uncovered. Soon fists and lead starts flying as a deadly race against time begins, with failure possibly seeing the end of human existence.

Superhero Showdown!: Will be set in Earth's Modern Era. A clash of East VS West as heroes from America and Japan are called to compete in a tournament to determine who is Earth's greatest hero, and which nation's heroes are overall the best. The tournament will take place on an artificial island where no civilians will be hurt and where the heroes can be tested safely. It will be broadcast live and the hosts of the tournament will donate a ridiculous amount of money to the charity of the winners choice. But is this tournament as simple as it appears, or is there something more sinister at the bottom of things?

Battle at the Heart of Infinity!: A massive crossover event where players will be able to select any of the characters from the previous games, where they will face the force that has been behind the efforts to sow chaos and destruction across time and space. It's the ultimate battle with the fate of the entire universe at stake.


And if anyone is interested, I can go into more detail about the character options for each adventure.
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Re: Origins 2022 (June 8-12): [UPDATE] I'll be GMing several games

Post by Ares »

So just for the heck of it, here's the art I'm using for some of the sample characters I plan to use for my Origins games. These in particular are from the Superhero Showdown adventure.

First up, the American team.

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Next up, the Japanese team.

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And as a bonus, the Go-Rangers Mega-Zord.

Image

I own none of the art, these are all just edits I made of existing art to fit the character concepts.
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