Convention Game Advice: RPG Blog Carnival

The Logo of the RPG Blog Carnival. My father took me to my first gaming convention when I was just starting Grade 9: a small two day convention in the next town over to introduce people to Living Greyhawk. Since then I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing various convention games; for most of my gaming career I had spent more time playing at conventions than home games, and in 2006 I managed to make it out to Gencon, followed by Origins in 2007. Given the topic of this months blog carnival, I thought I’d dispense some advice I’ve gained through all this time at the convention table.

  1. Stay on target. Convention games are rather different than home games. The main difference is that you typically only have four hours. No “Lets pick this up next time” or “See you next week”. Four hours, sometimes eight, then done, and it really sucks to have to leave a game mid-plot, or to have to choose between lunch and finishing the game. Therefore, you need to stick to the plot. Roleplaying is good; stay in character. That said, try and make sure that your roleplay will move the plot forward, or at least won’t take very long. I’ve seen some amazing in-character discussion at conventions, but I’ve also seen tables annoyed by the one gnome that won’t stop jabbering with every farmer along the road when there is a long adventure ahead of them and not much time to do it in. It is a fine line; try and watch the other players and DM for clues. Also try and keep off-topic chat to a minimum. That is neither good roleplay or constructive to moving the game along.
  2. Conventions are noisy places. Try and keep table talk to a minimum, doubly so if you are right beside the DM. Likewise, when speaking, make sure to speak up; I hate it when I miss things players are trying to do because I can’t hear them, and as a player it sucks when you want to do something cool and the DM can’t hear you. Also, time spent repeating things more loudly is wasted (see point 1).
  3. Focus on your character. Your character might be different then you normally play if your game has pregens. This is a great chance to expand your repertoire and try out a new type of character. Please don’t play your brave, self-sacrificing knight like the self-centred rogues you normally play; it can really mess up the party dynamics for the other players.
  4. Resources are placed in the adventure for that adventure. Now, this doesn’t apply to Living Games such as Living Greyhawk, Pathfinder Adventures and so on, but for other games this is important: Don’t hoard items. They all go away at the end of the adventure, so might as well use them now. Chances are they’ve been put in there by the DM to help you. That said, don’t waste them; They may well have been put in there at the to be used in a specific circumstance. Also, don’t burn through healing potions and whatnot early in the adventure, if you can help it. Remember that retreating and coming back with fresh resources is much less of an option then in home games.
  5. Go for the plothook. This is much the same as point 1, but more specific. If you are bringing characters with you the DM is going to try and tie you all into the adventure quickly so you can get to the fun bits. Watch for the dangling plot-bait and bite down on it. I’ve seen players blatantly ignore the obvious plot hook while the DM and the rest of the players all tried to get out of the tavern and into the adventure. Don’t be that person. Yes, the plot hook is often the most contrived part of the adventure, but if you don’t jump on it, you might as well get up and walk away from the table and save yourself 4 hours.

Final bonus point: Don’t be a dick, and really don’t be a dick for RP purposes. My Dad and I were once at a convention, and someone sits down with a character slightly above the rest of the party. No problem, the Average Party Level system Living Greyhawk used could account for that. However, then he wanted to bring his special dog he got in an earlier adventure with him, despite the fact that it would drag the rest of the party up an APL increment. Well, we weren’t super happy about it, but he insisted it was an essential part of his character and well, it was a pretty badass dog (More HP then any party member, even.) Do you know what he had that dog do all adventure? Sit by his feet and avoid combat, since he was worried about losing it if he sent it into combat. He just wanted to bring it along to show off the crazy powerful dog his character had. Don’t be that person: Don’t put your fun ahead of the party’s.

-Until next time, stay geeky.

—Canageek

Published in: on August 8, 2015 at 8:30 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Things I learned at my last gaming convention: Beware of kids

A few weeks ago I attended a local gaming convention. Now, I’ve been going to this con on and off for about 10 years now, and pretty much every convention I’ve had fun at. This time, sadly, was an exception. I did have fun, but unlike most past cons where I’ve had mostly great games, I only really had 2 great games this year, and 2 OK games. Now, I’d like to specify, this wasn’t the cons fault. The staff were very professional, great about tracking drop outs and getting walkins into games they wanted to play, and had wicked prize support (I got so. much. stuff.). In some cases it wasn’t even the DMs fault; a player was a jerk in one, for example. However, I decided to do a series of blog posts on what I think went wrong with each game, and how they could be improved, as in some cases I don’t think the person that was ruining the game, whether player or DM realized what they were doing. Given that, I have decided to do a series of blog posts detailing the various problems I had at this con.

I’ve decided to start with one of the decent, but not great games. None of the players were painfully bad, the DM was competent, the the adventure was OK, if not great. However, the DM and one of the players showed up with their kids. Both very young, six perhaps? It was obviously prepared ahead of time, as both kids knew each other and one came in costume as “his” character, a halfling ninja known as “Red Ghost”.

Now, I’d played with the adult actually playing Red Ghost before, and he was normally quite good, even if he went off alone and got into trouble more then I prefer in the party’s rogue. However after they brought their kids….the kids were well behaved for the first hour or so, happily rolling the dice and trying to follow what was going on. The second and third hours were less pleasant. The DM had to keep track of his kid, and what 6 players were doing all at the same time. That didn’t go so well. The last bit of the game was more salvageable, but only because the con gave the group a giant foam d20 as prize support, and there was an open area near our table where the kids could run around and throw it at each other without bothering the table.

Yeah. Con advice from Canageek: Until your kids are older and more mature, don’t try bringing them to cons, at least not a 4 hour, serious, game. None of us want to lose a character we’ve spent 8-12 hours (it was only a 1st level adventure) levelling to die because you were too busy keeping track of a kid to pay attention to the map. This goes double for the DM, since you have more work then any of the players, keeping track of all of us AND all your monsters.

Four hour games are just too long for young kids: Get them into gaming at home, when you can take breaks when their attention span is used up. Perhaps find a con with shorter games more suited to kids (Kobolds Ate my Baby comes to mind as an easy one to teach them). But for Gygax’s sake, don’t subject them and us to 4 hours of pathfinder with a child OBVIOUSLY bored out of his head. It isn’t fair to either them or us.

Until next time, Stay Geeky.

–Canageek

Edit: Some people are misunderstanding what I’m saying: I’m not saying kids shouldn’t be gaming. I’m not saying don’t being them to the con at all. I am saying pick appropriate events for them.
For example: The board game room has a lot of games that the kids could have been full participants of, rather then being bored and just rolling the dice then going off to play by themselves or falling asleep.

Alternatively, one of the people was the DM. Why not instead of signing up to run a Pathfinder Society game, sign up to run something that the kids could have been a full part of, with their own characters. Kobold’s Ate My Baby keeps coming to mind, as it is silly and immature. Off the top of my head, Ada used to run a game of RPGKids for her two kids. You know, something they can enjoy, instead of suffering through it.

I think getting kids active and involved in gaming; having them sit there bored isn’t the way to do it. Get them involved with a game they can enjoy.

Published in: on March 26, 2013 at 12:24 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , ,