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Origins 2002 Run Out the Guns!
Rigging and Revolution

Reviewed by Lee A. Stewart ©2002

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

Good morning, all! My name is Lee Stewart, and I've been involved with Run Out the Guns! since the ICE playtest at Origins 1997 in Columbus, Ohio. I've been to every Origins since then, along with two of the three ICEBreaker mini-cons in Charlottesville, Virginia back in 1998 or so. With the valiant help of a number of GM's, I ran the game, set in 1666, at Origins 2001 after a few years of playing and GMing.

For 2002, I decided to do something a little different and reset the game for September 1776, beginning at the then-closed Boston Harbor. Instead of Brits and Frenchmen and so forth gunning for Spanish galleons, we were American patriots and French adventurers hunting (and being hunted by) British naval vessels. Little attempt was made to be strictly historically accurate, and we were able to incorporate the Marquis de Lafayette and a number of historical events. Our game was scheduled for up to 32 players, but I think we topped out around 20 or so maximum. We ran 2 events a day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a finale on Sunday. Many players returned from years past, and Andrew Hosken and Steve Hess ably assisted me at the GM position; my lovely wife Debbie took care of the paperwork with the convention. I even got to play in a pair of sessions, one run by the esteemed Jason Hawkins. I'll never forget the look on his face when he realized my Fop had been successfully taunting his privateer captain into a frothing mess.

Anyhow, there wasn't a huge amount of preparation to be done; mostly research. I made a few changes to the character sheets - each main sheet got a one-paragraph 'errata' sheet that detailed what to do to make a 1666 pirate into a 1776 privateer. This was a simple process of moving events and people from the Caribbean onto the American colonial coast. For example, a treasure map found in Cartagena would instead be found in Baltimore, and that plot of land in Jamaica would now be on a small island off the Georgia coast. Any character whose nationality was other than French became either American or British - the French were left alone because one of the few metaplot points was to try to draw the French into the Revolution on the side of the Colonials. I also adjusted languages - whatever language a character had the most ranks in became English and the second-most ranks became French. I also turned the Arawak and Carib into the Croatan of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. No weapons or ships were changed, though I limited the ships to 100 tons or less and avoided the question of the Pennsylvania (later Kentucky) Long Rifle.

Our characters started off running the British blockade of Boston Harbor, and I very quickly got the NPC Captain out of the way by the simple method of leaving him there. Our happy band sailed south to Norfolk, Virginia, where they got their secret mission - go to France and talk to the Marquis de Lafayette about entering the revolution. They ended up bringing the Marquis back to Boston. The single session run by Gov'n'r Hawkins was a privateer mission out of New Orleans into the familiar Caribbean, where a number of player characters (including two Duelists and my Fop - you had to know things would end in blood!) ended up fighting a superior French privateer whose Captain could only say "KILL HIM!" to the Fop on our quarterdeck yelling at him - "Mon Capiton - I am coming to Geeeet you!" He became so enraged that our heroes were able to counterboard his vessel and take it. Oh, and the fop took many wounds, but they just kept missing the target - no really nasty criticals.

The final battle pitted those player characters that came Sunday morning against a British military vessel. Our heroes won, of course, but it wasn't easy.

A common problem I've found with ROtG at Origins is that you can never tell from session to session who's going to be there. The system is set up so that there is no duplication of characters or character types, but that fell apart very quickly as different people returned to different sessions. The Duelist proved to be a very popular character - I believe we had 4 of them over the course of the four day convention. I'm planning to be back at Origins next year, though we'll likely be running only 4 sessions instead of the normal 7 or 10. I'm also planning on going back to 1660's Caribbean - no more errata sheets! My thanks to Jason Hawkins, Steve Hess, Andrew Hosken and Debbie Stewart for all your hard work - and to all my players for bringing such enthusiasm to the table.

One final note. Saturday night, our room was invaded by players of another game - I think it was called Morton's List. They'd gotten a result of "Volunteer" from their list of things to do, and they happened on our rowdy bunch. They volunteered to run for food and sodas for our group, with the caveat that any change would go to charity. There was some worry that the real result from their list was "Commit Larceny", but they soon returned with our food and drinks. In the end, they raised just short of $100 for Toys for Tots - and over a third of that was from the 15 or so players and GMs of Run Out the Guns! I'm very proud that our piratical little game engenders such generosity.

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