#RPGaDay2019 19th August: ‘Scary’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 19: Scary

I’ve never found it particularly scary to run convention games, which I largely attribute to the extensive presentation training I received while studying for my PhD. I can though, understand why people get nervous when running a game for a group of strangers. There are so many components to balance and keep track of while you’re also worrying about how to ensure everybody has an amazing time. If you do get nervous here are three tips that I’ve learned through experience:

  • Prepare properly – You can spend hours prepping the wrong material. For a convention game focus on the essentials – the basic rules and the framework of the adventure. If you know those then that gives you a core foundation. If your adventure is set on a pirate ship then core rules would include drowning. Set in the middle of a desert? You can probably skip that.
  • Have handouts ready – Always have the player character sheets ready beforehand and include rules summaries for the players and for yourself. If you can include a unique summary for each character that highlights their special abilities and role within the group.
  • Have a strong opening – Avoid the meet where the Queen/Wizard/Mr Johnson tries to convince you to accept the job and dive right in with “You’ve accepted the Queens summons to slay the beast and are on the edge of the village it razed two days ago…” It provides a clear signpost of what characters need to do, avoids the boring negotiations and states for the players that this is a job their characters would buy into. A convention game isn’t a campaign, the setup allows for you to make statements about the characters motivations and drives that the players can latch onto.
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