Psi*Run - X-Men: Days of Future Past!

edited January 2012 in Story Games
I'm running X-Men: Days of Future Past using Psi*Run this Saturday (12pm, 6:30pm) at nerdNYC's RECESS:

- Year… 2020
- Mutants… incarcerated in internment camps
- You… have no idea who you are
- Now… you bear the mark of mutant prisoners. 40 foot tall robots programmed to locate and kill mutants are flying above… “”HALT MUTANT!”"

What do you do?

Who are you?



  • I close my eyes and imagine the title screens of a movie. It starts with...


    But then animates...




    Psychic * amnesiacs * on * the * Run

    There should probably be menacing silhouette running towards the screen in the background behind the text, blur + static effects, and heavy breathing to Daft Punk music.
  • I like it (for obvious reasons).

    In addition, you should be running through the past. :)
  • Dude! This is wonderful.

    Change those asterisk symbols into Xs and it's perfect. :)
  • Posted By: John HarperChange those asterisk symbols into Xs and it's perfect. :)
    Nice! Will do.
  • I have no idea what this game is, but now I desperately want to play it. The whole storyline growing out of Nightares of Futures past was easily my favorite part of the X-Men mythos growing up.
  • This is dead-sexy.

    When I think of this arc, I always think of the poster behind Logan and Kitty.
  • Love that poster and all its variations!
  • edited January 2012
    I am no longer running because I am: teleported to an earlier time before most of the mutants were wiped out

    I reckon a number of the things you have could count as that already.
  • I didn't even think to customize the mechanics! That's a great idea and helps foreshadow possibilities that are thematically appropriate.

    Here's the list of Epilogues:

    Making a discovery
    Turning the tables
    On a quest

    Any ideas for re-skinning?

    Keep in mind that each player must choose a different epilogue.
  • Those seem pretty decent.

    Is it any wonder that Warren Spector would go on after writing the early Marvel RPG modules of Days to do the greatest computer game of all time, Deus Ex?
  • So awesome!

    Have you read Wolverine and the X-Men? It's amazing!


    School name: Jean Grey School for Higher Learning

    - Headmaster: Wolverine
    - Headmistress: Shadowcat
    - Vice Principal: Beast
    - Senior Staff Members: Gambit, Rogue, Rachel Grey, Iceman, Lockheed, Doop
    - Janitor: Toad

    This is the awesome part! Students include:

    - Broo (he's a Brood!)
    - Genesis (a kid version of Apocalypse)
    - Kid Gladiator (a kid version of Gladiator with Warbird as his body guard)
    - Kid Omega (Quentin Quire, anarcho-punk self proclaimed future leader of the X-Men)
    - Bamf (a mob of cute 2-foot versions of night crawler)
    - Krakoa (a living island! the one from Giant Sized X-Men #1)

    The main villains so far have been the Hellfire Club... except it's their 8-12 year old kids who are now in charge after disposing their parents.

  • edited January 2012
    Posted By: JuddWhen I think of this arc, I always think of the poster behind Logan and Kitty.
    I just hung that issue on my office wall:
  • Sheets updated above!

    Added Chaser Sheet.
  • Cool! Any chance of getting PDFs of these? :)
  • John, the use of Marvel: FASERIP adjectives on the Sentinel sheet makes me want to give you a high five!
  • Yes!

    Remind me after this weekend and I'll provide high resolution PDF links.
  • Sweet. Thanks!

    Oh, one more thought: maybe the PSI category on the risk sheet could be MUTANT POWER instead?
  • Definitely!
  • edited January 2012
    And done!

    I randomly grabbed that bar code from the internet. I wonder what it points to!

    Maybe when I make the PDFs, I'll replace the barcode with one that links to a download of the PDFs! That way people at a con who want it can just point their smart phones at the character sheet!
  • edited January 2012
    Posted By: komradebobI have no idea what this game is, but now I desperately want to play it. The whole storyline growing out of Nightares of Futures past was easily my favorite part of the X-Men mythos growing up.
    You can check out Psi*Run here:

    It's a great game if you want to run an action packed, very focused, no-prep game that can easily scale from 2hours to 6+ hours of play (by changing the number of questions). The designer, Meg, is also a super sweet, smart, and nice person which is a plus for me as I love supporting awesome people. Hans interviews Meg about Psi*Run here:

    Maybe when I post the PDFs I will add a link to Meg's website so people can easily find Psi*Run.
    Posted By: MarhaultJohn, the use of Marvel: FASERIP adjectives on the Sentinel sheet makes me want to give you a high five!
    Virtual high five returned!
  • The barcode download idea is genius!
  • edited January 2012
    Can't wait for the PDF(s)! And, like Vincent can thank Sage and Adam for my purchase of AW, looks like Meguey will be thanking you for my purchase of Psi*Run. Dammit. :P

    EDIT: Yup. Purchased.
  • These are beautiful, John. I'm looking forward to reading the AP report.
  • Looks like bar codes aren't ideal for embedded URLs. I may need to go with a QR code which doesn't look as post apocalyptic. I'll probably also add "Psi*Run @" with a QR code to the bottom of every page.
  • edited January 2012
    Here's my script for running the game...


    - Anything italic and bold isn't read but done.
    - Read everything else out loud.


    - Introduce yourself.
    - Ask everyone who they are and why they signed up to play this game.
    - Write down everyone's names.
    - Keep track of who is quiet and who is loud.
    - Stand closest to the quiet people, farthest from the loud people.

    - This game is inspired by the comic, X-Men: Days of Future Past.
    - Who's read it?
    - If you have, help me make this game come alive.
    - If you haven't, even better, this is going to be fun!


    - This game is dark and deals with racism.
    - Draw an X on a card and place it on the table.
    - If at any point you don't feel comfortable, lift this card, and we will edit out any uncomfortable content.


    - Think of this as a movie instead of a game.

    - Our movie is set in a post-apocalyptic future, 2020 in NYC, but you don't know how any of this happened because you have amnesia!
    - You play mutants. People with amazing powers. You don't know who you are. You've been a prisoner. For how long, you don't know. But you're about to break free! But something is chasing you and it won't stop. It will never stop!

    - The game uses the Psi*Run rules. We will learn them as we play.


    - See: Nothing. Darkness.
    - Sounds: Rotors spinning above you. Ears popping from air pressure. Buzzing around your neck.
    - Feel: Can't move. Room shaking. Restraints around your neck, hands, feet. Skin, holding each other's hands.
    - Smell: Smoke. Cooked meat. Melting plastic.
    - Taste: Blood. Battery taste. Electrical shocks.
    - See: Statue of Liberty is gone. Replaced by a giant Robot, looks at you!
    - See: Water. The Hudson river. You're in a helicopter. There's a hole. Fire. You're upside down. Spinning. Water.


    - Middle of river. Helicopter sinking. Bodies floating in the water. Giant robots above. Search lights from their eyes. There is a person, with scars on their face, wait… do you know them, crazy, inside a cage crying and screaming. Skeletal hand with a wedding ring touching you.

    - Helicopter sinking. Your restraints break. You're free. You don't remember who you are.
    - What do you do?


    - Write "Crash" on an index card and lay it on the table.
    - Place tokens for the Runners on the Crash card.
    - This is you.
    - Place tokens for the Chasers next to the Crash card.
    - These are the giant robots chasing you!

    Make Runners:

    - In this game, you're called the Runners.
    - Hand everyone Runner Sheets.
    - Keep a very loose idea of who you are. It may change. And other players may get to help define who you are.
    - What powers do you want? Be vague. Focus on effects, not details.
    - Everyone has an "M" carved into their face.
    - When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Write it down.
    - Everyone will write 4 questions.
    - When anyone answers 4 questions, we start the End Game.
    - The more questions you answer, the better ending you get.
    - Write 1 question about your powers.
    - Then 3 questions about anything. Examples are on your Runner Sheet.
    - Don't come up with answers now.
    - Write down everyone's questions.

    Creating Chasers:

    - In this game, the giant robots chasing you are called the Chasers.
    - Lay down the Chaser Sheet.
    - Introduce the Sentinels.
    - On an index card, the Chaser Card, write down:
    --- Time Travel machine in Master Mold / Statue of Liberty.
    --- Sentinels can emulate Mutant Powers if they capture you.
    --- Sentinels can infect people they capture with Sentinel viruses.
    --- Infected people can be turned into mini-Sentinel slaves.
    --- Europe plans to launch nuclear bombs at the USA tomorrow.
    - There are also secrets, that I will hide for now, on this Chaser Card!


    - Whenever you do something that can go wrong, trigger a memory, help avoid the Chasers, or show off how awesome you are, we will pull out the Risk Sheet and roll dice to see what happens.
    - Rolling dice is also how we answer questions.
    - The Risk Sheet explains most of the rules. It's easy!
    - When you describe moving to a new location, I will write the location down on an Index card, lay it on the table, and we will move the appropriate tokens.
    - Sometimes you have to roll dice to move to a new location.

    First Scene:

    - You're in the sinking helicopter. A giant robot close by, but not here yet says, MUTANT, STAY WHERE YOU ARE!
    - What do you do?
  • And here's a little bit of prep for inspiration as I'm improving most of the game...


    - Hounds (brainwashed Mutants that act like dogs hunting mutants, especially family)
    - Human gangs. Think The Warriors.
    - Mutant traitor bounty hunters.
    - Evil mutants preying on humans.


    - Mutants with "M" scars and tattoos walking around.
    - Humans with "A" scars, sterilized, for their potential to breed mutants.
    - Former X-Men allies or villains.
    - Canadian military spies.

    Locations - Places:

    - Subways.
    - Empire state building.
    - Grand central terminal.
    - American museum of natural history.
    - Central park.
    - Times square.
    - St. Patrick's Cathedral.
    - Wallstreet.
    - Empire State Building.
    - X-Mansion.

    Locations - Uses:

    - Underground smuggling railroad.
    - Giant nuclear missiles in Sentinel form.
    - Mutant Graveyards.
    - Museum of Mutant history.
    - Mutant camps.
    - Sentinel news network.
    - Mutant sympathizer secret meetings.
    - Sentinel factory.
    - Time Traveling machine.


    - Newspaper: "2011: Mutant child explodes. 1,000 students dead."
    - Newspaper: "Mutant Registration Act Passed."
    - Newspaper: "2012: Presidential candidate, Senator Kelly, murdered!"
    - Newspaper: "Mutants are weapons of mass destruction."
    - Newspaper: "It's 2020, do you know what you children are?"
    - Graffiti: "Vote yes for the Mutant Sterilization Act!"
    - Graffiti: "Mutants are the devil's children."
    - Graffiti: "Mutants are NOT people."
    - Graffiti: "Magneto was right!"
    - Light coming out of Sentinel's eyes act as giant search lights.
    - Floating drones with police lights and speakers.
    - "You are now entering/leaving a controlled zone"
    - "It's 8pm, it is illegal to remain outdoors. 15 minute left to go home."
    - Busses dragged by horses.
    - Europe warns it will launch nuclear weapons at North America.


    - Racism.
    - Sentinels = The System. The Machine.
    - You are bullied because you are different.
    - Power fantasy: But now you can fight back!
  • edited January 2012
    Posted By: jenskotColor:
    Reading this section, I could almost hear Ice-T's Shut Up, Be Happy in the background. "Your neighborhood watch officer will be by to collect urine samples in the morning... All sports broadcasts will proceed as normal..."
  • I can't wait. I need to figure out what to trade to bump my game number and assure a place for us!

    It'd be a shame if I have to start flashing people.... hmmmm, would I get booted from Recess if I flash-mugged people for their tickets?

    - Don
  • Good work, I like the slanty text boxes. Like they are running away!
  • Also sounds like it would be perfect for a PUSH or Jumper themed game.

    I'll be picking this up next payday. :)
  • Okay, John, now I need that prep and play guide in matching PDF format, too! This hack/playset is DOPE!
  • If I forget to do so by Monday, anyone feel free to remind me via email jenskot [AT] gmail [DOT] com on Tuesday. Rock!
  • Posted By: Ross CowmanGood work, I like the slanty text boxes. Like they are running away!
    I would like to take credit but the slanty box idea is all Meg! I used it as inspiration to make even more things slanty but it wasn't my idea originally. The default Psi*Run character sheet are also pretty awesome. They have a cool dice diagram explaining why you roll 4d6 by default and what each die means. Great stuff!
  • Thanks Jon; I like the slanty boxes too. ^_^
  • I'm waiting patiently for the pdf :-)
  • Running Psi*Run went incredibly well!

    My brain is a blur at the moment (organized 3 days of parties and games for 200 people) so it may take me a bit to remember all the details.


    Ran 2 games, 5 players each, 4 hours per game.

    My goal was to trigger end game after 4 questions were answered but no one got up to 4. Six players had 2 memories each. Four players had 3 memories each. The average player rolled dice 3 times. A few rolled 4 times, one player rolled 5 times.

    Game One had 15 rolls, 6 locations, 2 characters disappeared.

    Game Two had 17 rolls, 9 locations, 2 characters died.


    All players had a good time, most had a great time, and a few wanted to buy the game ASAP!

    Psi*Run is incredibly easy to GM. It feels like a game where everyone is GMing without realizing it or feeling the pressure to GM. It's a very low effort, high return game.

    The fiction Psi*Run's mechanics inspired was incredible. Or at least felt that way in the moment.

    1 player who is normally quiet felt very comfortable contributing where in other games they often stand back and watch. In Psi*Run they went from "quiet player" to "engaged player who is also co-GMing."

    The mechanics ensured there was always drama. You rarely had frequent simple success or constant failure. It was usually in-between. Something interesting always happened, and the game always pushed forward.

    The game scaled easily. Want to play in less time? Write down less questions.

    Players were rarely bored because when it wasn't your turn to roll, you still often had something to do or contribute.

    The "first say" structure is very, very nice!


    It's not my favorite game to GM (yet), partially because it was so easy (I know that sounds weird), but I had fun. I often felt more like a facilitator. I added a lot to the fiction but rarely spoke in character. I didn't love GMing because playing NPCs is one of favorite activities as a GM. But I can't stress enough how easy this game is to run.

    2 players were frustrated that they couldn't help or interfere with rolls. We had ideas on how to add this but didn't want to hack any mechanics while we played or till we played enough times to understand the game out of the box. What if what we changed affected another mechanic we haven't used yet or had unforeseen consequences? We aimed for the rules as wring as much as possible.

    There was some confusion on how to handle 2 PCs directly opposing each other since there are no opposed rolls. I ruled that only 1 person rolls which is either the aggressor, the person who is more likely to trigger a memory, the person who has rolled the least, or the person who was impaired. Then the question became, "If I win, does that mean I stop you from stopping me and I get what I want or do I now have to make a second roll to get what I want without you stopping me." We did what felt right at the moment.

    2 players were frustrated that their questions were answered in the fiction but still had to roll. Fictionally you might think you know the answer but the mechanics could add twists when the memory is triggered to definitely answer the question. In game 1 the fiction seemed to answer the questions a lot but the players pointed out that we unintentionally interlinked many of our questions. This wasn't as much the case in game 2.

    In Game 2 we had once situation where the Goal seemed like it should affect another player mechanically. "I want to distract the chasers so it's easier for you to avoid them." But achieving Goals doesn't affect future rolls directly, "we made a distracting so you gain a +1 to escape" or anything like that. So we ruled that if someone succeeded at a Goal like "I distract the Chasers so it's easier for you to avoid them" that meant the other player automatically moves to a new location, thus making it also mechanically easier to avoid the Chasers without messing with die rolls.

    I made a rules mistake!

    When your Reveal an answer but other players answer your questions for you... who decides which question is answered? We ruled that the person who rolls picks the question or they can let anyone pick the question. This was incorrect. Rules as written, the players pick the question for you! In most cases the players did pick the question so we in effect mostly played correctly but by accident!

    Multiple people seemed upset by the "Chasers move 2 locations ahead" rule when the Chasers were only 1 location away. They wanted to be penalized somehow! I didn't quite understand why.


    Players who left a question blank seemed to enjoy the ability to come up with a question in the middle of play. These new questions seemed more focused.

    In game 1 most of the players passed choosing an Endgame and wanted other players to choose first. This didn't happen in game 2. I don't know why this happened, maybe because in game 1 everyone was so interconnected players wanted to see what others did first as a way to inspire their own endings. But I don't know.

    Players rarely seemed to care about NPCs beyond the beginning of the game. I asked a few of them why and they indicated it was because with 5 players, there were already enough interesting characters to focus on. And because the PCs aren't a team and don't know who they are, they would rather focus time on their own characters and getting to know each other. Interestingly enough most of the questions that were not answered were questions regarding NPCs. This was frustrating for me as a GM because I enjoy playing NPCs.

    1 player pointed out that because when you die or disappear you become a co-GM and because you can choose how to assign your dice, you can purposefully screw your own character if you would rather co-GM.

    I tracked how often everyone rolled dice to manage spotlight but I would like to add this to the Risk Sheet so anyone can track spotlight, not just the GM. Of course this would make the easy GM role even easier!


    Once I process this all, I'll update my "script for running Psi*Run at conventions" and publish it with the custom X-Men sheets in PDF form.
  • I have a pretty crappy old $100 printer but it prints borderless no problem. If I upload PDFs with no borders, will people have ways to print them out?
  • No idea what that means, John. What do borders have to do with my ability to print?
  • Borderless meaning the image bleeds off the edge of the page? Yeah, that's fine.
  • John, people can just hit "fit to page margins" on their printer settings, and it'll be fine. Or they can not, and a bit around the edges will be cut off.
  • Cool! Thanks all.
  • On G+ I was asked, "what's the First Play structure?"

    In my opinion, it builds on the idea of what a roleplaying game is in Apocalypse World...
    "Roleplaying is a conversation. You and the other players go back and forth, talking about these fictional characters in their fictional circumstances doing whatever it is that they do. Like any conversation, you take turns, but it’s not like taking turns, right? Sometimes you talk over each other, interrupt, build on each others’ ideas, monopolize. All fine."
    Strangely, the last part above is one of the few things I don't like about Apocalypse World in play. All of the games I've been in (with a wide assortment of groups and people) have had uneven spotlight where less outspoken players get less of a turn. In Psi*Run, roleplaying is like a conversation except there is an explicit structure to who says what and when.

    When you describe something that might go wrong, is dangerous, or might trigger a memory, you roll dice. You split up your roll among multiple categories but you have a choice of which dice go in which category. Do you put your low dice in the Goal category thus losing your Goal, do you put your high dice in the Reveal category, thus ensuring you remember who you are?

    But it's not all about winning and losing. It's also about who gets to say how you win or lose.

    "First Say" tells us who gets first say in describing or defining how you win or lose in a specific category. The reason it is "First Say" and not "Only Say" is because it's all a conversation and other people can offer details but the rules are explicit on who gets to drive the conversation in that particular topic at that specific time. But it's also a choice, you choose which dice go in which category. So if you want "First Say" allocate your dice according to your hearts desire!
  • Posted By: jenskotRan 2 games, 5 players each, 4 hours per game.
    How many of these players knew of the X-Men and Days of Future Past? (I'm assuming they self-selected, but could be wrong.)
  • In both games it was about half. As part of my script I asked what knowledge they had, and if they had none, "great, you are in for a treat", if they did have knowledge, "great, help me make this awesome."

    I also specified that the main setting details that are important are:

    - Year 2020
    - Location NYC
    - There are people who are born with powers called Mutants
    - Mutants are hated and feared by humans
    - Humans create giant robots called Sentinels to police mutants
    - Most Mutants end up in internment camps
    - Sentinels go crazy and plummet the world into an apocalypse
    - You don't know anything else because you have amnesia!

    Any other X-Men knowledge is not required to play or have fun.
  • So cool to get this update.
    Looking forward to the pdf.
  • Photos from our games:


    And thanks to Emily for taking:

  • Quoting Emily:
    Played a great game of +Meguey Baker's newly released Psi*Run [snip], at Recess. He'd prepared a scenario based on the X-Men dystoptian future storyline where things went terribly wrong and Sentinels had gone amok and mutants were being wiped out. Woke up in a helicopter with +Epidiah Ravachol, Rome, Dan and Aldon's characters and what we soon learned was a mutant hunter hound. Add the threat of nuclear war to the mix and we were on the run like nobody's business.
    [snip] the upshot for us was that the European Union was was about to nuke the US (because of the Sentinels), and we were trying to stop the Sentinels from pre-emptively striking back.
  • Love those pics!
    I'm so getting this on payday.
    I wonder if I can get a game together to play in March.
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