Actual Play: OffWorlders - Tales of a Xeno-Archaeologist Dr L. vs the VineMar Leauge [Daddy / Daughter Game]

So I got my Offworlders book today. Gotta say I really dig this game. My daughter [8] has been wanting to do some RP with me, as she likes mice and mystics boardgames and the dungeon boardgame, and she likes to create stories, but not to write them down.

This game was great, so much better than when we try to do Fantasy Games [ which is probably my fault and my hang-ups with every game I run turning into murdo hobos].

We played out a scene, and did some pretty cool world building character creation.

The rules let us get a game going pretty quick, the total time was about 2 hours of character creation and play. But a large part of that is me trying to listen and put all the ideas she has into the game. She really just wants to narrate the story sometimes and the outcomes. So far we haven’t had any bad rolls either, so I don’t know how she will react when that eventual 6- shows up.

I enjoyed it, as it had some cool characters, and has a space-pulpy feel. I basically like the idea of Xeno-Archaeologist which works well with the system.

We ended up at the first session with the following:


Lora - Dr. L - a Xeno-Archaeologist from the “Institute”
A Geek / Outlaw - who has Smuggle and Hijack for abilities, but Athletics and Culture as skills (the Girl takes Rock Climbing classes and thought that she needed to be able to handle herself on alien landscapes).

Sgt Charles Murphy - her bodyguard, basically an NPC/PC type since the Boy isn’t interested to play to round out the group and have someone to boss around and also save her bacon if she needs it. He is an Outlaw/Warrior - a veteran with a mysterious past and a strange scar that glows. He calls her Lassie for some reason and has a handlebar mustache.

The Job

The premise behind the first Job and a lot of world building was me riffing off Indiana Jones vibe. My daughter had some pretty strong ideas that she wanted in the world building. She wanted the planet Kameo to be a winter planet. She made up that there are three alien species that the institute has been looking into, the one she made up the Burbans have 4 arms, two of which end in claws like a lobster, and two legs. I had her roll her culture to see what she knows, and with the reroll got a 12. So I gave her the added bonus that she knows the secret way to open the doors in their complexes. She also insisted that it was very open ended if the aliens are extinct or just haven’t been found. I like that.

I made up the bad guys, basically kid-friendly Space Nazi’s called the VineMar League. We drew a symbol for them. And then we added the Union of Sol, and that the Institute is really interested in the ruins and artifacts. But the Union of Sol doesn’t like them and neither does the VineMar League. The Institute wants the alien artifacts for science, the Space Nazi’s want them for weapons, and the Union of Sol is trying to appease and not go to War, so wants the Institute from stop poking their nose around things that might escalate into War.

Without going into all the details (all though if people want it to know more reply below and I will respond) - a few thoughts about the first game and playing with kids.

When playing with kids its important to go with their ideas even if the game doesn’t have rules for it. Rules light games with Offworlders works well for that. Dr L.'s starting weapon is a bracket that shoots a confusing ball of energy. It doesn’t cause damage, and it just confuses who she hits. She wanted to define exact effects, and I said it will depend on the die roll. That still gives us plenty of great opportunities on 6-, 7-9, and 10+ rolls.

I let her design the ship, and that was fun. We ended with a semi-spherical ship called the Peacock. Which we got to by naming it after the first Women Archaeologist of the Institute (Peabody - taken from the mystery series). My daughter rifted on that, and changed it to Peacock as a code word. So that allies of the Institute get the reference, while others won’t. This also let us add some cool features to the ship like the extensive sensor array (each “feather” is a different kind of sensor, one fo O2, and one for sounds, etc.) that resembles a peacock’s tail. Very cool. It shows that emergent play can happen from playing with Kids.

That’s all for now. I can either post more about the first scene (involving skiing, confusing rays, and my NPC/PC character Murph getting the drop on the bad guys).

She enjoyed it immensely. I like the open ended nature of Off Worlders. It has enough structure to make it not just make-believe, but open enough that it doesn’t turn into Murdo Hobos or fight the bad guys. She likes the idea of getting credits, and there was different problem solving going on.

The one thing we did have a bit of a challenge was she really wanted a lot of story authority (read 100%), and it took a bit of working with her to discover that the emergent play that comes out fo the game’s conversation can be more interesting than her just narrating the story. At the same time, there is nothing wrong when playing with your kids to bend rules and let them run with the narration for a while, calling for a dice roll now and then.

That’s all for now.

Peace, and keep on trucking’

P.S. I really dig off worlders in case you can’t tell. Really fine game. The print copy is really nice a 8x11.5" short simple game when printed. But a lot of potential.

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