Origins 2018 – My First Time Running an Event at Origins

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A behind-the-scenes look at a GM for an RPG event ~

Avery Abernethy, 26 June 2018

Although I’ve run a Cons before going all the way back to 1983, I’ve not run at Origins.  My experience was quite favorable.


Rogue Cthulhu

My event ran under the Rogue Cthulhu group.  Rogue is quite strict on whom and what they allow to be run under their logo.

They must see you as a player before they will let you run an event.  The leaders of the group also review the materials before you run to maintain a certain level of quality control.  Rogue does not run anything that has been published previously, although they will run one or two new, unreleased scenarios by Chaosium every year. 

Like the majority of Rogue events, my scenario was a home brew.  I sent the materials by email to the Rogue leader about six months before Origins.  He reviewed the materials and gave the OK.  An email went out asking for what you were willing to run, a blurb describing the event, the number of people you can take, and when you are willing to run the event.  Rogue runs a lot of things in a darkened environment, so they also asked if you wanted a bright space or not.

I replied to the request and only ran one event.  If you run a bunch of events (3 or 4) you get a Gamemaster badge which comes with a reduced or free admission and some other benefits.  I only ran one event so I got the minimum Rogue bennie of a free item from Chaosium.  The Rogue leader submitted my event along with the other 189 events Rogue ran to the Origins staff.

I helped Rogue set up before Origins officially opened.  They run a very large space of tables (about 10 times the Grogheads area).  My help was grunt work, taping down electrical cords to each table, setting up chairs and the like. There is a lot of background work to set up a large gaming space that must be completed before the events even start.  This must be done by somebody since Origins just provide the rooms, tables and chairs. Everything else is provided by the organizer.

Although my Baltimore Gang War event had no preregistrants, I got six newbies who knew each other, but had never played Call of Cthulhu before.  I had a detailed player sheet for every participant. Because Rogue emphasizes role playing, my initial handouts averaged about four pages in length for every player.  Almost all of the players had information that they were not disclosing to the public (or other players unless they desired to).  Every individual also had special knowledge based on their profession (policeman, social worker, priest, labor organizer).

My event went well. The only thing which slowed down play was my having to look at individual player record sheets to tell them what number they needed to roll under to successfully perform various actions.  Since tChaosium 80s 600x600he group had never played Call of Cthulhu, they did not know where the information was on their character sheet.  This was not a problem because everyone needs to start sometime.  My group had two females and four males.

Unlike most Call of Cthulhu events, none of the player characters went insane or died. They stopped part of the cult, but the leader escaped and some of the captives died in a horrific fire. At Rogue events the players each vote for the individual who was the best role player.  The winner of the secret ballot gets a free item from the Prize Table which are items donated by Chaosium.  Everyone thanked me for running the session and several shook my hand.

Because I ran under a group, I did not have to do most of the paperwork needed for events to run at Origins.  Because I only ran one event at 9:00am on the 2nd day, I was well rested and ready to rock. I wrote the adventure and ran it at two other smaller Cons in the previous 8 months, so I had a couple of significant bugs worked out.  The Rogue leadership was very capable, and they did all of the heavy lifting aside from writing the adventure and running the event.  I had a good group of newbie players and enjoyed running the event.


Avery Abernethy is a Professor of Marketing at Auburn University.  He started playing Role Playing Games and designing adventures in the late 1970s.


Ed note: there’s some other GM advice you can find floating around the web, including this one from Raging Owlbear, about a different experience at Origins 2018.

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