Monday, October 02, 2017

Running a Con Game


Photo of another table in action - mine wasn't set up yet.
Well, not exactly a convention, but yesterday I ran my first public game at the special RPG Edition of a boardgames meetup.

I've been GMing for over 30 years, and have recruited complete strangers as players on Meetup, but this would be my first time gaming for strangers in a public location (well, as public as the function room of a community centre is).

I was well-prepared for the session - I had in fact planned to run this game back in July at another convention, but that was cancelled due to a lack of players.

I had gone on an RPG forum and asked for advice on running a convention game, and was pointed to a number of articles with good advice, many which I adopted.

I planned to run the same scenario that I used for our Space Opera campaign, I created pre-generated characters (choice of six for a group of four players), each with non-gender-specific names. Each character sheet contained just the essential information needed for play, and had a short background of the character, with a "choose this character if you..." advice at the end. I also picked a male and female version of prepainted miniatures for each the characters, except for the droid and the wookiee.

Despite all that I was still nervous.

With my "private" campaigns I was upfront about my view on compatibility: if you didn't like my GMing style or me as a person, or if I didn't think you are a fit for my group, neither one of us needed to continue playing together. With a "public" game one was in some ways the face of the hobby, and no GM wanted to be one who turned people off the hobby. With campaigns it was also possible to learn the likes and dislikes of the players and adjust the direction and tone of the game - with a one-shot I had one chance to make sure everyone enjoyed himself or herself.

As it turned out I needn't have worried. Despite the fact that three of the four players were complete newbies to RPGs, they got into their roles soon and were engaged with the storyline and encouraging to each other. Things went smoothly and they actually completed their mission with 30 minutes to spare (after a bar brawl, a shoot-out, and a car chase), so I used the scheduled mid-game break to come up with extra complications for the party. As it turned out that was a good thing, as the game ended on a high note with a daring escape instead of simply a delivery made as it would have.

I enjoyed the experience enough to want to do it again. In fact, I had just ordered some 19 dice, colour-coded by the dice type (as inspired by Dice of Rolling - too bad they didn't ship outside the US) to make things easier for newbies in the future. I hope to run the same set-up again at least a couple more times to get mileage on my prep so far - plus the space opera genre seems to encourage creativity, team-work, and role-playing even for newbies.

Well, that's enough about RPGs for now. In my next post I hope to report on a wargaming project I am revisiting. Stay tuned!

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