This coming Saturday marks another Boston Gameday for the EN World gaming community. For those not in the know, EN World is a top site for role-playing game news, started by Russell Morrissey after having been passed the proverbial torch by Eric Noah--the "EN" in EN World--when his own gaming news site had become too much to manage in addition to his other responsibilities. EN World primarily covers "Dungeons & Dragons" and other "d20 system" related news (d20 System has become the core mechanics of D&D and its successors, such as the similarly themed Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the superhero themed Mutants & Masterminds system, amongst others), as well as other various genre games by smaller independent publishers. Over the past decade, this site has served as a nexus for gamers around the world, serving as a location for keeping up-to-date on the latest product news, in addition to a forum to discuss the merit of these various games and build a community of people with similar interests.
At these Gamedays, local members of this community gather to try out different game systems from what they're used to--partially to try out new systems, but also to meet local members of the community and socialize in general. About two months beforehand, a few people volunteer to run games for the others--either games that they have a soft spot for, or that they've just been itching to try out. After determining who's running what, sign-ups begin about a month prior to the game day. Typically, scheduling works out to be for morning games and afternoon games, with four games running during each time slot.
Each GM (Game Master or referee, also sometimes referred to as DM/Dungeon Master in D&D style games) posts a blurb about the game they're running, if there's a specific plot, or any general description. It's the GM's job to act as facilitator and rules arbiter for the game--they make sure the game runs smoothly and manage any plot details related to the game.
This Gameday, I've volunteered to run a scenario using the Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game rules, published by TSR in 1998. Some systems use polyhedral dice (such as the aforementioned d20) to resolve any actions in the game--this one uses a special deck of cards (called a FATE deck), each card bearing a hero or villain from Marvel Comics, in addition to number values and colors relating to certain abilities in the game. Each player maintains a hand of cards with which they attempt actions; a card played that matches abilities allow the player to draw additional cards from the deck to add to the hero's attempt to complete the action. Inexperienced heroes have less cards in their hand to draw on to attempt actions than experienced heroes do. This mechanic draws on the players' desire to have some level of control over the success of their hero's actions--when choosing which card to play, the player determines how important it is to succeed in that action, perhaps hanging on to that really good card for that dire moment where they may need to succeed in the most daunting task. Outside of the cards, the system itself is fairly free form, allowing the players to attempt any action they can imagine, based on the abilities and powers of their hero and the difficulty of the task set before them. Ideally, this should engender a truly improvisational gaming experience--hopefully creating an adventure story fitting of a comic book.
My scenario is loosely based on a graphic novel published by DC Comics in the late '90s. The game is set about twenty years into the future of the DC universe setting, where superheroes have been practically outlawed and as a result have pretty much disappeared. Being tentatively titled "New Warrior Titans of Gotham Serve Some Young Justice," the adventure follows the exploits of up and coming teen heroes as they experience a pretty disastrous college tour: a telekinetic superboy, a reformed homicidal boy wonder, an power-armored boy that looks like a blue beetle, a certain freelance photographer with arachnid-like abilities, a showboat with a cold shoulder (amongst other things), and a girl that can whip up a mean batch of bagged popcorn. All in all, hopefully the makings of a hilarious teen superhero team-up.