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Kristacon Pitches: Alternate Systems
February 27, 2013

This past weekend, I went to Dreamation 2013 and helped to run Kristacon, a long-form convention gaming experience using the Marvel Heroic System. Brennan Taylor also ran a Bulldogs event as well using the same kind of ideas, so we had like 30+ players across the two events playing in roughly 30 hours of gaming.

It. was. AMAZING. Easily one of the top gaming experiences I’ve ever had. The story was amazing (and the actual play report will be created soon!), and the community was so great that I was always looking forward to the next event. My fellow GMs (Mike O’Sullivan, Tim Rodriguez, and Frank Manna) were just awesome, and I had a blast.

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I had so much fun that I’ve already started brainstorming ideas for the next time we do this kind of thing. And one thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is whether this would work with a different game system. Here are a few ideas:

Apocalypse World:

The Pitch: 8-12 people pick up the AW playbooks to portray the entire community around a single hold, including the Chopper gang that roams the area, the Hocus whose cult lives in the hold, etc.

Pros – Evocative game with a simple system that’s easy for people to pick up (roll+2d6). The Playbooks mean very little needs to be done for character creation (everything is included) and the PvP will be quite likely. Like Marvel, people have a quick sense of play books, and it’s easy to pick up a new one if your character dies.

Cons – Requires high capacity for GMs, hard (but not impossible) to double up on play books (which are much more limited than data files). No preset adventure for the GMs.

Dungeon World:
The Pitch – 12-16 people pick up the DW playbooks to portray a grand adventure against a vast darkness, a Lord of the Rings style event that calls upon the heroes of a fantasy land.

Pros – Just as evocative and simple as AW. Playbooks are quick for people to pick up, and character creation is pretty easy. It’s also a hot game, though, and that could attract a lot of great players. Since it’s a bit easier to double up on playbooks, I think we could host more players.

Cons – PvP is pretty unlikely, and the GMs would have to write a whole adventure before the players showed up, as the sandbox element would need to be a bit more constrained to give it a sense of an arc. In addition, the fantasy genre may not generate the same kind of excitement as superheroes.

Monsterhearts:

The Pitch – 8-12 people pick up the MH playbooks to portray the tortured high school students of a single high school, coping with a dark danger that might overwhelm the city on the Hellmouth.

Pros – Again, AW-systems rock. Easy to pick up playbooks and character creation would make it easy to add new players. Homeroom scenes would be amazing.

Cons – Like AW, fewer playbooks make it tough to host a lot of players. In addition, MH is explicitly about sex and drugs and rock and roll. It might make a few players uncomfortable. Marvel, of course, always has a comics code!

Fate Core / Dresden Files

The Pitch – 12-16 people create Fate or DF characters to play through a custom adventure written by the GMs.

Pros – Easy to host lots of individual characters. We can write the adventure to fit the space and time. Relatively easy system (roll, then deal with aspects), and there is clearly, clearly a fan base for the game. Bulldogs essentially did this during Dreamation 2013.

Cons – Character Creation starts to take up time, and new players are hard to add. It’s also got the same GM burden as the other games (or more) and a more difficult system for new players than AW, but probably on par with Marvel.