Origins 2014 Part 2: The Games

I went to Origins to play games, and to ease back into the gaming convention world. I accomplished both these goals, and I had fun to boot.

On the gaming side, I played three different roleplaying games in the Games on Demand area: Urban Shadows, Iron Edda, and Headspace.

Urban Shadows is a game of modern supernatural intrigue where mortal and immortals vie for control in a kind of shadow war. It is very much in the same style as the World of Darkness, and powered by the Apocalypse World game system. I got to play the Vampire (I know, big surprise). It was a fun couple of hours; we got to make shadowy deals with werewolves, dethrone rival vampire factions, fight off subterranean menaces, sling spells, be awesome. I loved the Debt mechanic, the currency that defines how things happen. It really underscores the political maneuvering nature of deals between characters and the world.

Iron Edda: War of Metal and Bone is a game of viking badassery where Ragnarok has arrived, dwarves unleash Destroyers upon the land, and warriors bond themselves with the skeletons of dead giants to fight off the intrusion. I played it with creator Tracy Barnett at the helm and it was the highlight of the con for me. We created characters and setting all at the table, and ended up with a neat holdfast with some conflict brewing, and characters that had reasons to fight for it. I made a Bonebonded warrior bound to the bones of the giant Freya, who also turned out to be the impossible love of the town’s matchmaker priestess. The way the story of Ragnar and Bryn came up organically at the table was simply fantastic, and it made these one-shot characters quite memorable. Tracy made a great game, and I’d love to play this again.

Headspace is a cyberpunk game where a team of operatives bind their minds together to achieve total unity, for better (they share skills and memories), for worse (they share psychological trauma and fears), or forever (if one member is killed, the consciousness remains as part of the linked headspace). The premise is intriguing, but the game was a playtest, and an early-ish one at that, which means the basics were there, the core idea was expressed, but it needed work on truly highlighting that one unique feature. Still, I enjoyed myself, and made the most of playing a flamboyant parkouring wiseass named Nike. I’ll keep an eye out for this game in the future, to see how it has evolved.

Other than RPGs, I demoed the miniature combat games Golem Arcana, and D&D Attack Wing, played random card games, and walked the hall a few times checking out all the neat merchandise.

Click on the link to see my pics: Origins 2014 photo gallery.

[Game Idea] Wizarding Resistance

2 May, 1998. Outskirts of Hogsmeade, Scotland.

The Battle of Hogwarts is over. The school lies in ruins, ancient stones that had seen generations of wizards and witches now lie in rubble, many covered in the blood of giants and spiders, Death Eaters and wizards. When the spellduel begins in the courtyard, everything else stops. When the wands explode in an eldritch fireball, everyone closes their eyes. When dust settles, everyone gasps.

The Dark Lord lives. The Boy Who Lived lives no more.

A hundred sickly-green curses fly, instantly killing every muggle-born wizard and witch visible by the front rank of Death Eaters. They miss one, the one they most wanted dead, Potter’s friend. The attack snaps everyone out of stupor, and the battle is resumed. It lasts only a few minutes, long enough for a some students to escape deep into the ruins of Hogwarts. Everyone else is summarily executed.

The Dark Lord lives. And so begins the New World Order.

Three years later, the battle has moved underground. Once known as Dumbledore’s Army, the members of the new Order of the Phoenix have scattered all across the globe, hiding in wizarding and muggle cities alike, where they organize local resistance cells, train new fighters, and act as beacons of hope to those oppressed by Voldemort’s Death Eaters.

You are one of these new recruits. Grab your wand, and join the fight.

I came across these WWII-style propaganda posters for a Harry Potter alternate universe where Voldemort wins. The creator also made these awesome WANTED posters for the kids as they would be a few years into the resistance. These are all very evocative  images, and as happy as I was with the ending of the Harry Potter series, this is an alternate universe that I think would be awesome to explore. Not being one to wrote a lot of fan fiction, I’d do it via a roleplaying game, one where the players all get to explore the world along with the characters, where we get to make things up as we encounter them and are surprised by them.

The WANTED posters gave me the idea that the players are *not* the members of the Order. They are too high-profile, too known (and in meta terms, too laden with history and expectations). They act great, however, as focal points, mentors that the characters would have met, can look up to, maybe even call on once or twice. The members of the Order are the public face, drawing attention away from those carrying on the day-to-day fight: the new bright-eyed recruits eager to join the resistance and help liberate their world.

As for Potter himself? I prefer to keep the mystery. The NWO Ministry of Magic released this WANTED poster recently, so make of that what you will.

Yes, I realize this is basically a mashup of Harry Potter and Star Wars with a dash of Lord of the Rings thrown in, but I’m perfectly okay with that.

Hacking Changeling To Play In Labyrinth

For years I’ve wanted to run a game set in the world of Labyrinth, because it is awesome and the essence of faerie for this child of the 80s. At first I thought of using Changeling: The Dreaming (CtD) because of the obvious connection with faeries, but I never quite grasped what angle to approach this from.

When Changeling: The Lost (CtL) came out, I got the sense that this would be the right game to handle adventuring in the Labyrinth. The plot of the movie is, in essence, a classic changeling scenario, except that someone goes into faerie for the baby,[ref]We’ll leave the Labyrinth-as-sexual-coming-of-age discussion for another day[/ref] so we could use characters that had been taken to the Labyrinth, escaped and had to go back for whatever reason, or even use a regular human like Sarah.

I’ve never done either of those. CtD simply had a different vibe that was directly tied to the faeries in the mortal world, and CtL, though it was certainly dark enough, had a bit too much going on for my tastes.

CtL, however, has one bit that REALLY got me excited, the idea of Contracts as the source of changeling magic. Now we’re talking. I would strip that game of all the other simulationist stats and get down to a few essential pieces of game mechanics that truly speak to what a changeling is, highlighting the Contracts.

So this is what I would do for my Labyrinth game:

Continue reading Hacking Changeling To Play In Labyrinth

Announcing CONcurrent, the online gaming con parallel to Gen Con

I won’t be able to go to Gen Con this year, which makes me sad. I love the energy of the con, seeing friends I only get to see during the gathering of the tribe in Indy, and gaming. Shows like This Just In… From Gen Con do a great job of bringing me a bit of the con, I wanted to find a way to share in the inherent gaming energy of the best four days in gaming. So I created this:

CONcurrent is an online gaming convention held parallel to Gen Con, from August 15-19, 2012. It is being organized via Google+ and you can reach the page by visiting

The idea is simple: while thousands of gamers are gaming the days and nights away in Indy, we who can’t attend can partake of the best four days in gaming via events held online. Events can be games of any kind, or even seminars or hangouts. What’s more, if you wanna hold an event in a real-world location, it can be part of CONcurrent as well.

Adding events is simple and it’s designed to be self-maintained. Drop by to read the rules.

Be sure to add CONcurrent to your G+ Circles and follow on Twitter at @CONcurrent_con. See you online at CONcurrent!