Your Summoned Gamer Ally: Convention Game Mastery, Part 1
There’s something special and exciting about running an adventure at a big gaming convention like PaizoCon and Gen Con! Are you ready for this experience—especially now that convention season is upon us? If this is your first time gamemastering at a convention or even if you’re a veteran convention GM, here are some helpful tips to make your game the best it can be.
Before the Game
A great GM is a ready GM. Prep as much as you can for your game ahead of time, and you’ll have an easier, more enjoyable game when the big day arrives! Well beforehand, re-read your adventure and make whatever edits you need that make the adventure more accessible for convention play. You may need to modify, delete, or add encounters to accommodate a larger group of players. And don’t forget to account for the amount of time allotted for play. The entire session you have scheduled should include some time to get players situated, plus time to wrap up things. Make those decisions now, or you’ll find yourself harried and dithering at game time.
Additionally, print out any handouts, gather props you’ll need, and select any miniatures you might need in advance. Keep everything together in a “go bag” along with snacks and drinks for yourself. If you’ll be using a battlemap for figures, have it drawn out in advance to save game time. Players get bored sitting idle while a GM carefully draws lines for twenty minutes. Then when the time comes, you can lay down your masterpiece with a smile and say, “Roll initiative!”
Publishers spend good money on quality art and maps. Find some good visuals for your game, print them out, and keep them in a handy folder. Plunder old game magazines for cool art. Slice them out, slip them in plastic page protectors, and whip ’em out at encounter time! I like to have a cool visual for as many scenes and monsters as possible. It also gives players something to look at while you read descriptive text or while you’re working with one particular player.
Uh Oh! Player Prep Fail!
There’s always someone who’s not prepared, who made a last-minute game change, or who lost their stuff en route to the con. Be the hero of the day and keep extra pencils, erasers, and dice available for your players. Also, always have plenty of pregenerated characters printed out and ready to use, even if players are supposed to bring their own. If someone had a complete disaster and came totally unprepared, how would you be able to help them? Think of what you’d need in a situation like that, and the list that comes to mind can be the one you create to help in epic prep fail situations.