Origins 2011: The Good Side of the Con #origins2011

I spent this past weekend in Columbus, Ohio at Origins Game Fair. This is my third year attending Origins and may possibly be my last. (That sounded pretty ominous, didn’t it?) But for this post, let’s look at all the great things that happened at Origins 2011.  Always look on the bright side of life, right?

Apocalypse World

Adele's character sheet (plus a teeny sketch I did)

After a very tasty belated birthday dinner (in which we heard a hilarious story involving Tom Cadorette (@cadorette) and some hot peppers), Dave and I headed to Games on Demand where we played Apocalypse World with Will Hindmarch GMing (or MCing, as that system calls it).

I had never played Apocalypse World before. I knew it involved a world and an apocalypse, but that was pretty much it. My only previous post-apocalyptic RPG experience has been Gamma World.

Around the table:

  • Will Hindmarch (GM/MC)
  • Me (Adele the Savvyhead)
  • Dave “The Game” Chalker (Proust the Operator)
  • Cam  (Midnight the Battlebabe)
  • Clark Valentine (Dune the Skinner)

At one point, Midnight drove his motorcycle through a hole to enter a building.

Will:  “Let me ask you a question… are you crazy?”

Cam: “No, I’m efficient.”

Cam’s character was probably the most intriguing and awesome. Though he was a Have-Not, he had perfectly tailored suits that were always immaculately clean, even after what would be for anyone else a dirty job. He was the perfect mix of calm, cool, and totally badass.

Anyhoo, I won’t go into specifics of the game, but it was really, really fun. Will is an amazing GM, so if you ever have a chance to sit at his table, do it!!

Of course, I’m now in that conundrum of:  Do I like the game… or did I like THIS game?  That’s the curse of having a good GM, I think. I definitely want to play more Apocalypse World and see if the system holds up for me with a different MC at the reins.

Will did his own write-up of the game here.

ThinkGeek Freebies

Timmy's Bag o'Freebies

Since becoming the copywriter at ThinkGeek a year and a half ago, I’ve had the super fun job of handing out freebies at conventions I attend.

For Origins, Timmy and I came stocked with a box full of:

Congratulations to all the ThinkGeek fans who found me over the course of the weekend and claimed a freebie. A few highlights of freebie-giving:

  • The adorable almost-2-year-old baby that totally loved the squishy dice
  • The gaggle of teenagers (and their mom that tweeted me later!)
  • Ken Hite tossing (and dropping) his squishy d12 repeatedly at the Origins Awards ceremony

More Gaming

Timmy is a zombie monkey, Fred is doomed

Another fun game we played at Origins was a session of Savage Worlds/Deadlands, GMed by Tracy (@rolling20s). This was a case of “Why Did I Travel to Ohio To Game With People From Home?” since only two people at the table were folks I haven’t gamed with locally.  But it was a fun game nonetheless!

I played a kung fu girl who taught the ladies of the whorehouse self-defense since they were being threatened by a no-good villain.

I’m on the fence about Savage Worlds. On the one hand, I appreciate its simplicity. I appreciate exploding dice. I appreciate weird character quirks and bennies and cards for initiative. But I’ve found in most Savage Worlds games I’ve played – and I’ve played several at different cons over the years – that my characters seem to be one-trick ponies. Perhaps that’s a problem of pre-gen characters? Or maybe me not knowing the system well enough?  Not sure I have that answer.

Fred and the Evil Hat folks were playtesting their new card game, Zeppelin Armada, which after a bit of a learning curve (I’m a slow learner when it comes to games), was pretty fun. In fact, I would have won if it wasn’t for that pesky boyfriend of mine playing a very evil card at the last minute. All in all, a good game which will be better once the cards are designed in full color. (My only complaint was not being able to remember the abilities/resistances of other ships so I could play my cards effectively. Once the real art is on the cards, this shouldn’t be an issue anymore.)

And speaking of playtesting, the final game of the con was a playtest of Jeff Tidball’s prototype, currently named Lasershark. At our table: Jeff Tidball, Ken Hite, Will Hindmarch, Dave “The Game” Chalker, and myself. Sadly, our game did not involve frickin’ sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their frickin’ heads, but with the way gameplay is structured, it would be easy to incorporate sharks and/or lasers if one desired. As it was, we had newly coined racist phrases, a douchebag boyfriend that got waterboarded in his bathtub after saying said racist phrases, and an Iron Man figure full of heroin. Good times. I really liked Lasershark a lot and am looking forward to seeing it in print.

Origins Awards

The Voting Table

I’m super excited to report that lots of things that I like won awards this year:

Best Traditional Card Game: Back to the Future (Looney Labs)

Fans of the movie (or just time travel!) will enjoy this game. You play a future relation of the characters from the movie, and you must try to bend the timeline to suit your needs by going back in time and turning key events.

Best Family, Children’s, or Party Game: Zombie Dice (Steve Jackson Games)

Zombie Dice is a very simple press-your-luck style game. It’s a good filler game, or waiting for the GM game, or waiting on your server to bring your dinner at a restaurant game. Small, quick, fun.

Best Roleplaying Game: The Dresden Files RPG (Evil Hat Productions)
Best Roleplaying Game Supplement: The Dresden Files RPG: Our World (Evil Hat Productions)

I am so proud of the Evil Hat crew for this achievement. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into producing DFRPG, and it totally shows. It’s a fantastic game and I’m hoping to get to play it more often. If you’re a fan of the books, pick up the RPG. If you haven’t read the books yet and enjoy urban fantasy, go read them. Or do what I did and pick up the audiobooks and have James Marsters read them to you. (Hawt!)

Best Board Game: Castle Ravenloft (Wizards of the Coast)

I’ve really enjoyed both Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon, though I will admit they don’t get pulled out as often as some other games in our collection. These rules-light, quick-play versions of D&D are the perfect gateway to RPGs for those who are too intimidated by all the books and papers and math. They’re also fun for those days you want an RPG fix but can’t pull together your regular group or find a DM.

The full list of nominees and winners can be found at Critical-Hits.

Shopping the Exhibits & Art Gallery

The exhibit hall seemed a bit smaller this year (was it just me?), but there were still plenty of pretty things to ogle. Dave picked up some maps for his epic level D&D campaign and our Gamma World campaign.

We got a few cute campaign posters at TShirtBordello’s booth since it appears Cthulhu & Dagon are running against Obama in the 2012 election and they have a pretty sweet logo going on. [Don't leave your political comment below. Political comments will be deleted. This isn't the place. Thanks!]

I was hoping to pick up some more dice earrings, but this year’s offerings seemed to fall into two categories: not interested, or too expensive.  Perhaps GenCon will yield better luck. I was also hoping to pick up Christmas Chibithulhu to complete my collection of Chibithulhus, but to my dismay, he was not to be found anywhere. (I *knew* I should have picked him up at Dragon*Con instead of the 4th of July Chibi…)

I did pick up an adorable print of an elephant and some little dragons from Mike Bocianowski’s booth in the Art Gallery.

If you want to check out Mike’s work, here’s his website.

You’d Think I Had A Great Origins Experience…

And if this post were “all she wrote” then it would be true. Stay tuned for the flip side of the coin.

About e

Since 2008, E. Foley of Geek’s Dream Girl has been helping geeks from around the world find love. She writes amazing online dating profiles for her fellow geeks and guides them through the perilous waters of the dating scene and out the other side. She's totally proud to report that she's even caused a couple geek weddings! She lives in Maryland with DaveTheGame, her adorable cats, Mr. Peanut & Don Juan, and Titania, Queen of the Cocker Spaniels. (Email e, or follow @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.)

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