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Your Summoned Gamer Ally: Convention Game Mastery, Part 2

Your Summoned Gamer Ally: Convention Game Mastery, Part 2

Your Summoned Gamer Ally

It’s Game Day!

So you’re ready to go and you bring all your gear to the right room at the right time. You find your table and meet your players! Before things really get started, take time to introduce yourself and the adventure ahead. Now the gamers coming to your table will most likely have never met you or each other. Ask them to introduce themselves to the group by giving their names and what games they’ve played. Afterward do the same for their characters. This gets everyone oriented and ready to game. It’s also a handy idea to provide stick-on name tags and use character names so they don’t end up calling each other “elf” or “fighter guy” all the time.

Remind everyone how long the game is expected to last. If it’s going to run longer than three hours, make sure you tell them there will be a fifteen-minute intermission about half-way through. This gives smokers and bladders a break and also gives you some time to refresh yourself before you go back into the ring. Any experienced GM knows refereeing a game takes a lot of energy, so meal up beforehand and pace yourself throughout the event. Everyone at the table made a commitment to be there to play and have fun, so remind players to turn off their cell phones or, if they must take a call, to take the call away from the game table. You’ll keep an eye on the player’s character until he or she returns, but don’t stop the game because of one player.

Basic Game Mastery Tips

Remember to keep up the magical mystery of the game. As GM, you are the eyes and ears of the characters. Your job is to whisk them away into a magical world, and that means focusing on what they see, hear, smell, and feel. Watch for boredom, and keep things moving if things get bogged down with mundane tasks such as setting up camp or haggling over the price of a horse (unless, of course, everyone is into it and having fun!). Make it a point to engage with each and every character at least once an hour, and bring out the particular talents that this character brings to the party. Listen to their ideas and plans, and go with the party’s flow of interest. Ask if anyone would like to help out with tracking initiative, spell durations, or monster damage. It makes things flow so much faster and easier if you’re not distracted with these chores and can concentrate on monster options and describing the action!

The End

An unfinished adventure is a disappointment. Pace yourself well. By the break you should be halfway through the adventure. If the party is behind, cut some encounters so the game has a chance to end before your time is up.

If your game is also a playtest for a publisher, have some worksheets ready. At the end of the game, ask your players if they wouldn’t mind taking a few minutes to give some constructive feedback. Both positive and negative feedback is incredibly valuable for making an adventure awesome. Collect the comments and heed them well. Here are some example questions:

Playtester Name:

How did the GM do running the adventure?

What did you like about the adventure?

What could be improved?

Any further comments?

Be sure to thank your players for attending, and don’t forget to hand them some information about the game they just played. “I survived the Incredible Shrinking Island” on a card is a great way to generate buzz about your adventure. You may even have made some great friends you’ll be happy to see again at the next con!

Be Ready, Roll Well, and Happy Gaming!

—Your Summoned Gamer Ally

2 thoughts on “Your Summoned Gamer Ally: Convention Game Mastery, Part 2”

  1. Sigfried Trent

    I tend to treat a con game as a performance. I try to be extra dramatic and animated. For a home game I take a more relaxed and cooperative stance. For a convention I am entertaining guests, for a home game I am playing with friends.

    For me, the key to any game prep is to have a mental image of the adventure to come. If I can picture it in my head I can describe it to the players and handle any contingencies that come up. For a con game, which are usually very short, it takes me about 6 hours to internalize the adventure. I do a first initial read through, then shortly before the con I do another as I make notes and prep materials.

    If an adventure makes little sense to me, or has what I think will be narrative issues, I just change it to suit my tastes. Even if doing a demo, its better that the players have a great time than you present the material exactly as written.

    Another tip is to pay attention to your players. Try to make sure everyone is engaged. There will always be a few that hog the limelight and while others may be shy, we all play to be part of the story so make sure everyone gets choices or has a cool moment.

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