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

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Published in: on August 8, 2015 at 8:30 am  Comments (3)  
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RPG Blog Carnival: Weapons of Legend: Ahab’s Crosshairs

The Logo of the RPG Blog Carnival.Hi! I’m Canageek’s girlfriend DialMforMara. I write for the I Like Homestuck Project on Tumblr; this entry in the RPG Blog Carnival is an adaptation of a post that will appear there next Saturday, on the theme of Legendary Weapons. Come check us out if you’re interested in Homestuck, or just want to find out what all the fuss is about. Warning: spoilers abound.

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Ahab’s Crosshairs is a powerful laser rifle from the webcomic Homestuck. It was created by the trolls of Alternia and used by the Orphaner Dualscar, a notorious highblood (noble) pirate. Centuries after the Orphaner’s death, it was found in the wreckage of his ship by his aristocratic descendant Eridan Ampora, who used it to murder countless lowbloods (commoners) and their animal guardians, as was his birthright. When Eridan left Alternia to play the universe-building game SGRUB, he took Ahab’s Crosshairs with him and used it on anything that stood in his way, up to and including the angels that inhabited his base planet, which took at least a minute of sustained fire to kill (possibly because he wasn’t supposed to kill them, as other players point out. [Canageek’s note: Sounds like a player character me me])
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The strength of Ahab’s Crosshairs may vary with its wielder’s belief that it works. The structure of SGRUB (and the human version, SBURB) gives each player powers based on the role the game has assigned them. Eridan is a Prince of Hope, which to make a long story short means that he uses belief in destructive ways–like, maybe, to power his weapons. Other Homestuck characters don’t think Ahab’s Crosshairs is nearly so powerful: SBURB player Jade Harley, who has extensive experience with rifles, takes one look at the gun and calls it a “legendary piece of shit.” She can’t believe it’s as powerful as Eridan claims it is. And maybe, for her, it isn’t.Screenshot 2015-07-25 14.47.44

Adding belief-based weaponry like the Crosshairs to a campaign opens up a couple of interesting mechanics. A DM can track which player characters believe the legends about a weapon, and then make the weapon more powerful for them–or less powerful for those who don’t believe. Dividing up loot becomes much easier if half your players believe some of it is worthless. They open up new narrative possibilities as well: a quest-giving NPC can hype up a belief-based weapon to make it stronger and worth more, or downplay its importance to trick the players into handing it over, or even claim they have a defense against it, to make the players think it won’t work on them. Belief-based legendary weapons give their players exciting new ways to mess with their players.