Origins 2011: The Games I Played, Part 2
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!