Origins 2013 Debriefing


So this year was my first Origins, and I really hope it isn’t my last. I had a great time playing 40 hours of games over the course of four days, even if I was averaging only 5-6 hours of sleep a night (or less). I picked up a signed copy of the Shadowrun 5th edition core rulebook, played or ran three different versions of Star Wars, scored some sweet deals in the dealer hall, and got to enjoy the local restaurant scene, to name some of the highlights of my trip.

Unsurprisingly, 18 hour bus rides on Megabus are brutal, but at $35 a ticket from Minneapolis to Columbus, it is by far the cheapest way to go. Luckily I was able to fly back on Sunday morning and still came out ahead compared to driving. Not to mention I got to sleep some on the way there and back.

Games, Games, and more Games

By far the best part of Origins was getting to play in some games and try out new systems. The Game Master for the One Ring had an awesome command of the setting, and was a superb actor to boot, so it was very immersive and really sold me on the system even though I’m a Tolkien noob. The other cool part was that each day’s session was one part in a series, culminating in a grand finale with the Zama Gamers veterans as they played a massive 8 hour Saturday session. It was cool to hear how the characters turned out, and I hope to be able to play with them again someday.

I also got to try out Star Wars WEG 2nd edition for the first time with the Game Force 7 Sparks crew, where I played #6 and #185 with my Togruta force-sensitive, Shi’ari. I don’t often do living games but if I see them again, I may keep on with her and slowly watch her grow. I found myself a little frustrated with the rules at times, since we had to stop the action for a full 15 minutes in order to reference the auto fire rules and calculate the math correctly, but also because some of the other players were using characters they had been rolling for years, so I simply could not keep up with the checks meant to be challenging for them. It was a good experience, though, and I’m glad I went.

Another fun part was being able to network with the Star Wars RPG community. I met a few guys from the d20 Radio scene and pulled some serious shenanigans in their Saga edition game. One of them also got to play in my Saturday night session where I ran Free RPG Day, so it was neat being able to introduce each other to our favorite Star Wars systems.

Finally, I got to create a character and try a short demo of Shadowrun 5th, and the main thing that came to mind was “why haven’t I played this setting before!?” I love the blend of magic, sci-fi, and Asian influences, which is right up my alley. My only feeling would be that if I were to run the system, I would want to do more than just heist-style jobs, so that they were participating in a grand story where the runs play a small part. In NeoTokyo, of course.

Edge of the Empire

Although I felt like I could have done a better job with the first session I ran, it did help me warm up for the next three sessions, which I enjoyed as a GM greatly. I have a good “routine” now for teaching the players the rules, have a sense of pacing down to keep the action flowing, and found that I can, in fact, improv well when need be, though I certainly steal liberally from the players when doing so.

I only had one person who had ever played EotE before, so I got to run Crates of Krayts twice, the Beginner Game once, and Shadows of a Black Sun on Saturday. I’d run the Free RPG Day module several times before during playtesting, not to mention having produced it with writer Jeff Hall, but even I was surprised by how pleased I was with the final result. I hope the Free RPG Day players got to enjoy it as much as I did making it.

Swag Haul

I hit the dealer hall a few different times over the course of the con, and managed to score some sweet (and not so sweet) deals. Lesson to be learned: walk the dealer hall once before you buy! You never know if another booth will be selling the same thing for cheaper. In my case, they were, and I overpaid by a full $12 dollars. Blah.

  • Shadowrun Origins 2013 Special Edition ($50): the 5th edition softcover core rulebook, which the line developer, Jason M. Hardy, signed for me (apparently his sister is also named Katrina, but because I play Shadowrun, “I win”). I also picked up a set of Shadowrun d6’s ($10), as well as a book containing adventures compatible for 5th, Sprawl Wild ($10).
  • Legend of the Burning Sands ($5): 3rd edition hardback of the alternate setting for L5R. I’ve been wanting to take a look at this for a while, especially since the Arabian-themed Marrakesh has long been one of my favorite campaigns to run and I could always use more inspiration.
  • L5R: Fealty and Freedom ($17.50): 3rd edition softcover detailing the minor clans, the Imperial clans, and ronin. I know that Secrets of the Empire is slated to come out sometime around or after Gen Con, but presumably they won’t be reprinting the same material as before. I’m currently writing an L5R fic centered around a Suzume samurai-ko, and love the Imperials to death, I’d just been waiting to find a good deal on it. Unfortunately, I found out after the fact that I could have bought it for $5 instead, but now I know. And at least I own it now.
  • Savage Worlds Customizable GM Screen ($25): I’ve been wanting one of these since I saw my friends using them, and they’re an amazing idea and incredibly versatile. Three 8.5×11″ landscape panels with plastic slipcases allow you to insert anything you want into them for both the GM and players’ reference. I’m handy with InDesign and Publisher, so creating my own custom charts and sheets won’t be a problem at all. It’s also cool that you could use dry erase markers on them, so the players’ side could be maps or scenery or tables, or a combination of both. I see myself getting a great deal of use out of it, and with a $5 coupon from demoing Hell on Earth, I couldn’t resist.

As you can tell, I was super busy but had a blast. Best of all was getting to see my college gaming buddies again, who I may or may not be able to catch some time with during GenCon, which is next on the con schedule because of work!

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