Saturday 30 June, 2012

Pondering Organized Play


As a convention event coordinator I am always trying  to keep up with current gaming trends.  While having the standard fare of Game Masters scheduled to run board, card, and role playing game events, I am always looking to find what is going to fill tables.  One of the biggest draws always seems to be organized play events.  Over the past four years I have seen the rise and fall of the RPGA (yet again), and the emergence of the new kids on the block “The Pathfinder Society”.  While in a decline in attendance, there is still a special place in my heart for the RPGA.  Started by Frank Mentzer in 1980 the Role Playing Game Association has seen many different iterations of its focus and delivery in the past 22 years.  I still feel they are an amazing organization, but I fondly remember when D&D was not their only game. Living Force (Star Wars), Living Seattle (Shadowrun), and I believe they had a living Deadlands (don’t quote me on this) were all on the menu at one point.  With WotC playing “let’s release a new edition” every 3-4 years people have strayed away from D&D organized play and have given their nat 20s to Pathfinder.  These of course are not the only organized groups in town…

Shadowrun (Catalyst Game Labs) has a really good program called Missions.  While the game is still a bit over complex for my tastes, the Shadowrun Missions team have brought the game to the masses and introduced some really kick ass scenarios (run in seasons) to the public.  I am actually part of the Missions team, what can I say I love the game and it gives me a chance to run it.  The next super mega organized play team is Steve Jackson Games’ Men in Black or (MiB) team.  This may be a bit biased of me (I have been a MiB since 2002), but SJ Games blocks the doors off of all the other groups out there.  The company not only sends an armies of wonderful people to teach you their games, but they also send these demoers with tons of  free swag and free games to give away.  In this day and age of bad economy, old SJ is giving 40.00 + games to people who win tourneys or come to conventions where the MiBs are strutting their stuff.  It only gets better, the MiBs earn free games for the time they spend.  OK, fine other companies do this as well, but being part of four demo teams, SJ Games has been the only company that has giving me tangible rewards.  Yea, yea (other not to be mentioned companies) PDFs are fine, but giving  me a real game that I can show off is where it is at!

There are other great demo teams out there as well.  Pinnacle has the Savage Worlds Explorers, Exile Game Studios has the Hollow Earth Explorers, Atlas Games has their Special Ops, R. Talsorian Chrome Berets, and so on and so forth.  Simply put, if love a game and want to share it on a community or national level see if the supporting company has a demo team and join.  Believe me if anything it will get you into conventions for free and you get to meet new gamers to share stories with.

The last shout out I want to give is to the good folks at the Dead Games Society.  The guys are frakking awesome.  They are a group of dedicated gamers who bring older TSR games out to conventions and run them.  I can only wish there were more OSR based organized play groups out there.  Guys if you need a New England chapter, let me know I am sooooo there.

Anyway organized play… check them out and play a game damn it!



  • Tyler says:

    There are impressive individual efforts out there as well. Mark Edwards and colleagues are currently running a 7th Sea living campaign, Heroes of Altamira.

    One of the things I appreciate in particular about Pathfinder Society is how much more accessible play is. There’s a regular biweekly meeting here in Burlington. It’s not only given people a regular game, but provided entry for newcomers and spun off many other games, Pathfinder and otherwise. About the only downside to the accessibility is people don’t need to go to conventions to play, which I think has a downward effect on conventioneers seeking Pathfinder.

  • James says:

    Mark Edwards is doing a kick ass job with his 7th sea living campaign. I wanted him to come out to Connecticon, but when we spoke back in February he was unsure of what commitments he could make. Pathfinder is rocking the Organized Play world, when you can have a living game that you can run at home… that is some forward thinking. I get to hang out with Mike Brock of Paizo in a few weeks, I am so looking forward to it.

    What I really want to build is an OSR group to bring old school stuff to conventions. I am not too sure where to advertise or get the word out though.

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