Origins 2021 Recap – Part Two

You can find Part One here.

Day 2

We continued on with another quick stop at the Exhibit Hall and then attempted the thing that always seems to get the best of us during these conventions: trying to fit a meal in at a restaurant in the hour between the Hall closing and our next game. Somehow we manage to get into one of the local places leading Lee to have a conversation with the waitress about potentially getting either a Bison Burger or a Chicken Sandwich… both of which they were out of. Funny enough, two year previous they’d been out of both of those foods as well.

Regardless, we managed to make it to the game only a few minutes late. Luckily we got there just before they effectively gave our seats away (to some people with generic tickets).

Kult: Divinity Lost

Kult is one of those games where I might not know anything about it, but I’ve seen the images over the years. The best way to explain it is a horror game along the lines of Call of Cthulu. Horror games feel like they are perfect for conventions as, in my mind at least, they should be dangerous for the adventurers (investigators?). I expect that not all of us may survive any particular encounter we have.

For this particular adventure, our GM was running an adventure of her own design which set the PCs up at Paranormal investigators whose leader has received a call from a longtime friend who is having problems with shadows within his apartment coming to life, noises in the hallway, doors opening, and he’s at his wit’s end. Of course, as we begin to dig into the building, the neighbors, the landlord, etc. things begin to take a more sinister turn with the creatures taking an interest in us as well.

It was definitely an interesting game as the PCs seemed to work really well together. Between the group of us, I feel like we managed to look under every tock and look in every hiding place to get to the truth behind everything. The thing with these types of games is that sometimes you end up not asking the right questions and suddenly you’ve gone in circles instead of advancing against the plot. Luckily, I don’t think that happened. The only “bad” thing is that we really didn’t have any dice rolls to speak of, so I still don’t have a great idea as to the system mechanics, so I’d be interested in getting into another game down the line.

You can find out more about Kult here.

Day 3


Now it comes to the best game I played all weekend and, of course, it would be the game where we ended up playing some kind of Saturday Morning Cartoon Princesses. The system 9th Level Games uses for this game is based on playing with one die for each player. You have your choice of a D4, D6, D8, or D10 which helps define your character. While having a larger dice means that you are likely better at some of the more physical facets of the game, the lower die are perfect for the more intelligent style of rolls.

Oh, and you get your very own Animal Companion. For my Princess (Of Video Games), the animal pet was the Dog from the old Nintendo Duck Hunt game.

The actual game was very much a collaborative story-telling environment where in conjunction with the GM and the dice rolls, we all got our chances to shine throughout the game session. The GM was amazing to be able to think on his feet with so many crazy things the group threw at him. The ease of the system and the other players at our session made it just a fun game with tons of laughs.

More than anything, the Dice System they use is very interesting and makes me wonder how well it translates to more… “serious” games. But if you are looking for a good session, I’d urge you to check out this particular game. You can find more information about the game here.

The Few and Cursed

This left us with our last session on Saturday afternoon and the chance to participate in an actual playtest session of sorts. I knew of the comic the game is based on from a Kickstarter I supported a couple of years back of the same name. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good western style play experience. For this particular game, it uses a D100 system, so you are trying to roll under for all your successes.

Our adventure focused a bit on the harshness of the world, a world in which water is the most precious commodity. In playing the game, I can see how resource management will be of utmost importance as time goes on, with your PCs scrounging for food and supplies wherever they might be able to find them. Some of the other bits and pieces we gleaned were how critical successes ended up not only increasing your damage/skill result, but you would reference a chart where you wouldn’t end up just getting a 1 for damage, but instead tried to make that moment a feel good for the player (which is one of those things we all have experienced, make the great attack and then do very little damage – so I loved they were taking a look at some way to make all that work a little better.

They are looking to have a Kickstarter for the game sometime in late Spring/early Summer, so be on the lookout over at Rock Manor Games.


Day 4

We hit the Exhibit Hall one last time to make those last minute purchase decisions. In previous years at Gen Con, Sunday would be the day I’d end up buying a new game that would seemingly never actually get played. For this year, I opted not to do that (even if there were a few things here and there that certainly spoke to me). Instead, we did our final walkthrough before making our trip back south to Atlanta many hours later.

Due to the pandemic, Origins end up somewhere around 10,000 attendees, which is about 50% of a normal year. So while I got an Origins experience, I was assured that I hadn’t gotten a true experience just yet. At this point, Gen Con is still the one I’d rather do if just for the spectacle of it all, but I wouldn’t mind coming back to Columbus in a couple of years and checking out a more normal Origins!


John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at

Origins 2021 Recap – Part One


The past few years I’ve been able to make the trek northward to Gen Con. With the pandemic, 2020’s Gen Con was postponed, and after various new dates were determined for not only Gen Con but also Origins, our group made the decision to go to Columbus, Ohio instead. Partially because even at half capacity, Gen Con would still be around 35-40k in attendance, whereas Origins in 2019 was around 20k. It felt like the more prudent option of the two. Thankfully Gen Con allowed us to roll over our badges one more year, so hopefully, we’ll be back in Indianapolis in 2022.

Lee and Egg had gone to Origins a couple of times and reported having a good time. I knew that no matter what, this trip probably wouldn’t give me a complete picture of the convention due to a potentially reduced.

Day 1


Thursday began with an afternoon game of CHEW, a roleplaying game based off the comic book of the same name. The concept is that you live in a world where poultry is illegal and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now the uber-powerful agency. While I am familiar with the comic book, I must confess that I have not really read any of the comics.

There were a number of pre-generated characters to choose from, and after we all made our choices we start our adventure getting ready to go on vacation, departing from the Baltimore Airport. However, we are pulled aside for a special assignment to discover why a nearby research island has suddenly lost 30 of their prized chickens. As we proceed on this mission, we learned that not all is as it seems at the facility, and that, perhaps, the chickens are not merely animals.

If you’re thinking that the premise is fairly goofy, I’d say you’re spot on. At the same time, we had a good group at the table who all leaned into the humor (even when it was at their character’s expense). The game is currently in the midst of a recently (launched on Tuesday I believe) Kickstarter. You can find it here.

Shadow of the Demon Lord

I remember seeing this game when it was initially Kickstarted a number of years ago, but this was all of our first time playing the game. It is set in a Grim Dark world, where it would appear that the darker forces have succeeded in turning the world into a darker reflection of itself. And while there are those heroes who will rage against the darkness, it is supposed to feel like an uphill battle. For the rules, they were very similar to Dungeons and Dragons in a lot of ways.

For this adventure, it was a twist on Night of the Living Dead, with a bunch of us stopping at the same Tavern just off the road. After finding a dead man upstairs, the reanimated corpses from all around begin to converge on our spot. It was here that I think I misjudged how well I might be able to help with my Clockwork, and ended up taking enough damage to reduce me to one hit point. And while there were opportunities to potentially heal a little bit in between the waves of the dead, you had to make a choice on healing or fortifications or potentially trying a ritual to help put an end to it. Sadly, as the waves became worse and worse, we began to fall before the hordes until eventually, all but one of us died.

During the year when we roleplay online, Egg is notorious for his horrible rolls. I mean, his rolls defy logic, luck, or probability. However, the universe has decided that when he plays during a convention, his dice treat him much, much better. Yet, that terrible luck had to go somewhere… and this time, I was the sacrificial lamb. At one point during the game the GM asked me if I’d actually hit anything the whole session (this was probably 2 hours in). I had early on, but since then I rolled a series of dice that only served to mock me.

I wonder if this was one of those adventures wherein an attempt to show the players how dangerous the world is, they pushed things to make it extremely difficult to survive? One thing I did really like about the system was the initiative where you could choose to act Fast (1 action) and go before the monsters or Slow (2 actions) and go after the monsters. It streamlined things really well, and I wouldn’t mind trying to incorporate it into other games we play.

You can find out more about the game here.

Day 2

On Friday, we made our way into the Dealers’ Hall to check out the various booths. From what I’ve been told, normally this stretches at least two of the exhibit halls; however, the area with the dealers and companies were confined to about 1/2 of one of the halls. There was still plenty to look at and buy, but I’m sure in a normal year it would have been a whole day to really look at everything, whereas, we probably spent around 5 hours in the Hall all told over three days, and I felt like I’d seen everything (and some things twice).

Misspent Youth

You play youths (between ages 12 to 17) who are raging against the machine… whatever that particular machine happens to be. We started out brainstorming ideas for what the big problem with the world actually was. We ended up in a world where organs are harvested from the poor and given to the rich and old who use it as a way to prolong their lives. They wall off their areas to keep themselves away from the riffraff of the rest of the world.

We were EMTs sent out on our first solo harvest, but the patient we were sent to help had already been harvested. We managed to not finish the poor man off by taking his last kidney, but soon uncovered a hospital where people were being harvested against their will (rather than being paid something for their organs).

What was interesting about this system was that you the story is broken into scenes and you roll 2d6 and place a marker on a list of numbers between 2 and 12. You want to seed it with your own numbers, but the GM is doing g the same to trip you up. If you ever roll one of your numbers, then you dictate what happens in the scene, but if you land on the GM’s number, he narrates it. It was another case where I’d never seen a game do something like that, and I’d love to figure out a way to incorporate that type of idea to other systems too.

You can get the game here.


That’s the end of Part 1. Next week I’ll finish up the convention and reveal the best game I played all weekend.


John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at

To Become A Super-Villain

I think the shelter in place has pushed my wife over the edge. Much like many people, it is just the two of us in the house (well, plus the two cats). And while we’re both fortunate to be able to do our jobs from home, one of the aspects of that is the close proximity to each other without any real break. We’re in each other’s heads, either guessing or just preemptively saying things the other is currently thinking.

So maybe it is my fault that she’s gone over the edge.

I immediately commented that this is the way super-villains are created. When they can no longer deal with what’s going on around them, the mind seems to go little by little until only plans for grand schemes might remain. I fear I might not be able to stop her when she turns her attention to world domination. But there may be a solution to all of this, I just need to avoid completing her journey to the Dark Side, as it were.

This moment is merely the catalyst, something temporary, fleeting, but it could be the beginning. I consulted my reference tomes, the ones I’ve read for 30 years, in order to see what I must avoid doing to set her off any further.

1 – Avoid large vats of chemicals.

This one is a sure-fire way to push the person into full-on villainy. Now, the Joker is probably the biggest example of showing that falling into the chemical bath messes up your whole world, but I’d argue he was well on his way down this path before the fall. However, his one-time girl, Harley Quiin is another story. She might have come back from his manipulations, but the dive truly tipped the scales too far.

2 – Her Name Doesn’t Translate to Something that could also be a codename.

The Rainbow Raider’s real name was Roy G. Bivolo (he shoots rainbow powers).

The Riddler’s real name is Edward Nigma (E.Nigma).

The DC villain who builds futuristic devices was named Thomas Oscar Morrow (T.O. Morrow).

Hmm… Courtney McGuire doesn’t immediately bring anything to mind, so maybe that’s safe enough.

3 – Don’t allow her to have a fascination for any particular animal.

There is a huge list of animal-based villains: Killer Moth, Vulture, Beetle, Swarm, Catwoman, Doctor Octopus, Cheetah…

Now she does love animals and we do have a pair of cats. She used to do volunteer work for an animal shelter. One night, while working late on a new database-

Wait! Gotta stop myself before I write her origin story into being. OK. I’ll have to keep an eye on that possibility.

4 – Don’t let her go off on a journey of self-discovery only to find out that she is really harnessing some power from a League of Assassins or monks who provide her with battle armor.

Doctor Doom

Ra’s al Ghul

Since we are sheltered-in-place, I suspect any random travels to very remote portions of the world are off the table.

5 – Don’t let her go around changing the past.

Abra Kadabra, Kang the Conqueror, The Reverse Flash… these people all either come from a future to our time in order to cause havoc or play with us because they know what is going to happen, so they can ensure they reap the most benefit out of that.

Now, while I don’t specifically know that she’s not a time traveller from the future, I don’t specifically know she’s not either. Of all the scenarios, this one seems the most plausible. I’ll have to use some of my downtime to thoroughly search the house for her time platform or cosmic tradmill.


Overall, she’s not checking any of the boxes… yet… so maybe this is just an isolated incident. But I’ll continue to keep the situation monitored. As long as she doesn’t realize she’s being watched, she may trip up yet.


John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at