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As reported by: Dr. Awkward

This summer, I hosted two role-playing events for young people at the Origins International Game Expo. Below is my report on the results of these expeditions.

The Origins International Game Expo is held in Columbus, Ohio during midsummer - usually the last weekend of June or first weekend of July. Each year it draws between 10,000 and 15,000 game enthusiasts from around the nation. Tabletop and live-action role-playing events are only part of the fun - Origins also features a large variety of board and card games, wargames, and even video games. You can find out more about the Origins International Game Expo at

I had a great group of young people and parents for both events. Very few of the younger players were familiar with the concept of roleplaying games, even though their parents seemed to understand - but all of them were playing like seasoned experts within moments.

On Saturday at 1:00, I ran a TOON game that was taken up by five boys and a mom. The adventure was set at ChaosCon 2007, a gaming convention in Walla Walla, Washington, and the characters were Persephone (a rat who has been living in the convention hall for some time, only to find a gang of geeks taking over the place one day), Jim (a security guard for the center who is trying to maintain law and order), Vlad LeStratocaster (a goth LARPer trying to out-cool everyone), MechaCyberRobo (a robot made as a promotion for an RPG, that has somehow achieved sentience), Melvin (a gamer geek on his way to his next game) and Theg (an actual, real ogre that everyone seems to think is really a person dressed as an ogre).

In the ensuing chaos:
- Persephone collected a lot of shiny things (including dice, WarHamster figures, and some of Vlad's goth CD collection).
- Jim managed to enforce absolutely no law and order whatsoever.
- Vlad managed to impress some other goths with his aloof coolness.
- Melvin summoned Azathoth (who then attempted to sell him some cut-rate term life insurance, and gave him lots of Sanity points).
- MechaCyberRobo fired his pie gun at anything he thought was a kaiju, got hacked, and even accidentally activated his soul switcher at one point, when one player leaned over the table for some dice and knocked over his and Melvin's name cards, then switched them by accident while replacing them and I ruled that the two players now had to swap character sheets.
- Theg smashed lots of things with his club, and when he was bored with his club, with Melvin and MechaCyberRobo as improvised clubs.

The culprits responsible for the destruction of ChaosCon 2007

The game went about as smoothly as a chaotic free-for-all could possibly go, with one small snag - an overtired fellow who felt like he was getting picked on a little too much. I took a moment to explain that he would be able to get his come-uppance on his tormentors just as soon as his turn came around. This seemed to help somewhat, as he was back in good spirits by the time I was calling his name to hear his next action.

The chaos culminated with Jim handcuffing MechaCyberRobo to the only load-bearing column on the floor of the convention center where their brawl was taking place, and MCR lasering the column in two with his Laser Death Vision, leveling the entire convention center and earning him 10,967 Plot Points (the precise attendance number of ChaosCon 2007, minus himself, of course).

I ran Faery's Tale on Sunday at 10:00 am. I had a group of three girls, plus a mom (of one of them) and a dad (of the other two) - a perfect mix of kids and grown-ups.

A group of intrepid fairies were sent by King Cecil to investigate the disappearance of several woodland animals in the mortal world. When they set out, they discovered two nasty river trolls bagging their catch from a snare they had set in the forest - then watched as the trolls took their prize to the nearest faery ring and walked through to Brightwood. Once there, the trolls joined others with similar sacks, carrying them into the Dark Wood to the kingdom of King Slug, where goblin guards at the gate were taking them and issuing boons to all of the trolls on behalf of the king.

I should take this moment to mention that one of my players was a shy little waif named Lauryn who had the biggest blue eyes ever, and when I would tell her about the trolls or the goblins or the poor little trapped woodland creatures, they would grow even wider. I got worried that she was getting a little spooked, so I made sure to point out that the animals weren't being hurt at all, only forced to do something that they really didn't want to do.

The heroic little fairies managed to sneak inside to discover the plans of the nasty goblins. The pixie and sprites flew to the roof of the rusty stronghold while the two pooka changed into rabbits to allow themselves to be caught and taken inside by the trolls, an exchange which went something like this:

Me: Boy, with all of these trolls walking around grabbing all of the furry little creatures that they can, I think you pooka should be glad that you changed into birds and not bunnies or something like that! (nudge nudge)

Girl #1: Yeah, you're right! (Then, a sudden look of wide-eyed realization, the proverbial "light bulb" look.) Wait! We could get inside by changing into bunnies and letting the trolls catch us!


All three girls: (giggles)

In the end, they discovered that the goblins were using the creatures to carry siege machines through Brightwood - carts that spilled oil and ignited it, fired poison darts as they rolled, and so on - which would spread chaos and disorder as the frightened animals ran about, trying to free themselves. They managed to stop one of the oil-spreading wagons sent out as a test run and free the rabbit attached to it before the oil could ignite, then one of the sprites (played by the dad) snapped the flint-striker off of the cart and lit the trail of oil just as the angry goblins were approaching - which, naturally, scattered them in every possible direction in a very dramatic manner.

While the goblins were disctracted by their failed test run, the infiltrating pooka were able to free the rest of the animals, with the help of the pixie who used her pixie dust to enchant a rusty pair of scissors to fly around and cut all of their bonds. As the mad rush of woodland creatures left the stronghold, their captors were knocked aside or trampled underfoot, and the day was saved.

At both games, the parents told me that they were very happy to see any sort of event for kids, and that they wished that they could see more.

Their wish is my command. I'll be running much more than two events at Origins 2008, for certain. Hope to see you there!


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