Thursday, March 25, 2010

Running a Game at a Convention

This "post" was originally written as a response to a call for advice on author/screenwriter/gm Chuck Wendig's website Terrible Minds ( The author's post asked for advice on running a game at a convention. Here's my response...


First, you must determine YOUR goals for the adventure. Running an adventure specifically designed to introduce players to a new system is very different from running a "competitive" scenario; both of these differ significantly from running a mod with a great story or a killer finale battle. Only in knowing exactly what you want to accomplish will you find success.

Second, all of your planning and prep should enhance your goal. if you are introducing a new system, make sure you have good rules summaries / cheat sheets to hand out to folks and spend a bit of time running through the basics. Should you be running a competitive scenario, make sure you understand the scoring and timing rules and that the players are aware of everything they should know up front. Have a great story? Figure out best how to tell it. Make some GM cheat sheets for the major NPCs with descriptions, voices / accents, and whatever else you will want or need. Your adventure have a tremendous climactic fight? Then make sure you allow enough time for that final encounter. Foreshadow the hell out of whatever you can to build the tension and excitement for that showdown.

Third, find as many ways to inject some descriptive RP into the session. Role playing tends to be the first victim of 4-hour con slots and that does NOT need to be the case. Make your attacks descriptive enough to evoke a simple image and expect the same from your players. If they very statically tell you their attack results, quickly ask them for the nature of the attack and give it a description. Make sure when players give you their own description you play that up a bit so folks get the hint.

Fourth, finally, and most important, do whatever you need to do to ensure that you and your players have fun. If everyone has a great time, you done good.

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