Going to a Game Convention this year? Thinking of running a game? (It’s a big leap…)
I did that for 35 years. Here’s some (incomplete) advice.
1. Those who enroll in your event are probably paying to play a 4-hour game (the typical timeslot). Don’t kill them off within half an hour. (What does the player do then, go start a poker game? Bad form.)
Find ways to give them value for the money and commitment, whatever it takes… resurrection potions, do-overs (with a badge of shame?), whatever.
2. Have premade characters ready. Let them pick what they want and die-roll anything in dispute.
I use a tight party of 12 PCs. The ones not involved (after players pick) are adventuring elsewhere (in backstory).
Along with the char sheet, give each player a superbrief outline of knowledge of, attitude toward, and relationship with each other PC (1 page 1 side, preferably less). Given this, your group can act like veterans together right out of the gate — if they’re good enough and use what they’re given.
3. Keep loose notes and a flexible attitude. If the party wants to do something, fine; don’t railroad ’em. Be ready to change the adventure on the fly to avoid problems (TPKs).
4. Wrap it up on time. Players have other commitments, don’t make them late.
If you run out of time and skip the finale, players will be UnHappy, and go away with a bad taste in their mouth. After-Action Reviews (AARs) will be mixed.
For optimal pacing you may have to scrap an earlier planned encounter or two, so you have time for the Finale. Cut by default; you can ALWAYS make things take longer, any time. (You knew that…)
5. Get the group to clean up the gaming area before they depart. Leave it immaculate. Con management will hear about that eventually, and you’ll become Favored.
No, don’t skip this one. Be a good guy.
The adventure itself can be nearly anything. When I wrote & ran major tournaments (RPGA 1980s, several hundred players in tables of 8), I always inserted an early wake-up call, very early in the session (1st encounter, even) — something very active, requiring lots of party coordination.
If you DON’T wake up the group (to force a bunch of strangers to work together asap), they may lolligag the whole game, move and decide slowly, chat a lot and do little. Don’t let the game bog down like that.
I allow all books & materials at the table. But when I ask you a question, ANY delay for rule-referencing means you lose initiative. If you look up weapon or spell details and delay our game thereby, same story (when unprepared, you go last).
I permit digital devices of all sorts. But if you take or make a Text or Voice call, step away from the game. (NOW, I said. Yeah, YOU.)
(reposted from a 1e forum)
*** See post Part 2 for Characters and Part 3 for a generic dungeon!