Open Play events are official rpg events run at a public venue and with attendance open for anyone who wants to drop in and play. This could be at a gaming convention, a gaming club or at a friendly local game store. These events can be either Shadowrun Missions, the official Living Campaign of Shadowrun, but can also be homebrew games.
No matter what kind of event, people can always pop in and try out a game without any future obligations. You can try once, or pop in again later, whichever you’d prefer. Of course I’d obviously prefer to tempt you into playing more often. ^_^ But there’s nobody forcing you to play, we just want to give you a great time and see if you like Shadowrun enough to want to play it more often.
Want to know more, or receive an e-mail whenever a new event is going to take place? Then use the contact form.
As I noted there’s basically two kinds of events.
First, Shadowrun Missions. These are official adventures produced by Catalyst. They follow a specific set of official rules listed in their Chicago Missions FAQ (v1.1a). Missions are designed to be playable within a 4-hour timeblock, and are also made to support varying parties. A player more or less or even the type of party won’t make the game impossible to play.
As Living Campaign, your characters keep their experience between adventures and characters are not tied to a single GM. In the USA this has a big significance due to there being a lot of conventions and different stores with different agents. In the Netherlands there’s far less agents so it won’t easily pop up. However, even if you play a Mission at home, it will be Missions-legal as long as you all follow the Missions rules.
This is, by the way, the main reason for specific official rules: Not all rules flow well if you don’t follow a single gamemaster, and within the restraints of a single session not all qualities would play out well. So a few compromises were made in the form of official houserules. In return, other houserules aren’t allowed: People playing at different tables should have the same opportunities.
Homebrew is basically anything not produced by Catalyst. This can be a normal homecampaign, a simple introduction scenario (though The First Taste counts as a Mission), or something special. They can use houserules, go crazy, far more leeway but you won’t have a shiny character that builds up a lot of official cred and takes part in plots that alter the future of the world (or rather, city-sized parts of it). And this extra freedom also means it’s easier to mess with their length.
So which do I do? Well, both really. I have run both publicly-available Missions and Missions that had been designed for conventions, ever since august 2013. I also ran a few Missions at an online convention once. However, the 4-hour requirement can be a bit restraining. It blocks weekday evenings for a lot of potential players, and in weekends the combination with a public venue can be problematic for dinner time and other plans.
As such, I am also running homebrew campaigns which can be played in smaller time-periods. Starting September there will be more runs again.
My first short campaign was Wild Things, it was designed to both capture the mercenary feel of Missions and the freedom of a homegame. It did this in part by making the runners work as freelancers for the same company. For more information, see the Wild Things info page (NL).
Black Hearts was the spiritual successor of Wild Things, focusing on a black ops team working for the United Canadian and American States (UCAS). For more information, see the Black Hearts info pages (EN, NL).
Words of a Feather was inspired by The Librarian(s). The runners worked for a secret organisation aiming to safekeep magical artefacts and keep them from falling into the wrong hands. (Read: any other than theirs.) For more information, see the Words of a Feather info pages (EN, NL).
Ticket To Ride was three separate sessions working for GridGuide, using Missions-Legal Sample Characters rather than more-optimized ones. In these runs the players took into custody bikes from Ancients and a luxury sportscar from a rich loser, wheel clamped a Spikes’ van, managed to ankle-band a Channeler using Movement, and found and liberated a stolen prototype. For more information, see the Ticket To Ride info pages (EN, NL).