Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Con Gaming 1001 - The meet and greet

Ed. Note: Since when have we had a 100 level course in college? Honestly.

As a veteran con-goer and attendee of the most of the major Con-circuit (DragonCon, GenCon, etc) I get a lot of opportunities to play/run con games. I'd like to take a little bit of time and just go over some rules that i'd love to see set in place to facilitate convention gaming and help the limited table time run a little bit smoother. As i'm trying to bring a wider landscape of gaming to my local area, I plan on trying to utilize a lot of this information in the upcoming 'demo' games I run.

I'll start with the easier side - The DM side of the Meet and Greet

1. Introduce yourself and the purpose of the game. Ideally, you'd be able to give a 10 second CV in this window. "Hi, I'm X. I've been running/playing con games for Y amount of time and I'm all about my players having fun, but we do need to make sure EVERYONE is having fun. I just want to remind everyone that this is a pulp style, high adventure, fantasy epic where the heroes can pull off some crazy stunts!"
-This allows you to break the nerd ice and establish what you're looking for in a group. In a perfect world, people will read the 5 word blurb about your game in the 1500 page con guide and only people who exactly match what you're running the game for will show up. If you want everyone to remain somber and serious for your Cthulhu game, now is the time to remind them.

2. Lay down any and all ground rules. I don't have a ton of pet peeves when I DM, so I try to be flexible on this point. The things I see coming up most often are:
-the distinction of in/out of character. I can never gauge where GMs stand on this rule at a glance.
-if you have a new player, can they engage the rest of the table for support? I've seen people get very upset when they think 'conversation' is taking place on the other side of the screen. It's frustrating to find out that it's just a sheepish player who doesn't know a rule he's looking for
-any off limit areas. Language is a big one here. Also any content you don't want to come up at your games (PC conflict, heinous acts, etc.) I will generally hit on this point to address opposite gender roleplaying and how if a character thinks that they can trade breast grabs (true story) for ammunition then the gender swapping fairy will visit them quickly.
-roll/roleplay. Nothing saddens the performer gamer like getting to your first diplomacy 'scene' only to discover that your DM doesn't want you to talk, just pick up that dice, roll it to the DC, and move on.

3. Allow the players to introduce themselves and their characters. If the players miss anything (race, class, etc) or skip a bit (brief description, etc), feel free to draw them out but don't push them. I like to allow 30 seconds to a minute per player.

4. Remind everyone that this is a co-op experience. This can never be overstated at a con game. There is no winning the module.

5. If you're playing an organized play module (I'm staring at you Pathfinder Society!) remind everyone that there may be some handwaving and there is a plot they will need to stick to. Player creativity shouldn't be punished, but you've got to understand that module play is designed to be vastly different than freeform gaming...

Anyways, those are just a few pointers from my side of the screen that I'd like to share with any and other con GMs out there. Anyone else have anything they find that works for them?

1 comment:

  1. Really good insight. Not having the Con' experience yet, I think this is valuable for ANY gaming group.