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3/15/2018 10:41 am  #1


Gaming at cons

I have not been to a con. I see a lot of posts saying we played this adventure or that adventure at such and such a con. Most adventures seem like they would be way to big to play in a couple hours. Do you just play till your out of time? or how does that work?


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3/15/2018 10:59 am  #2


Re: Gaming at cons

 I create an adventure that has many decision points for players that can be manipulated for time. I make sparse notes that can change on the fly and often do.  Never runs the same twice. Combats are often areas that can cause big time differences.  Combat avoided speeds things up quite a bit.  TPK speeds things up too, though I try to avoid such a thing....

To answer directly I plan more than I will use and pare back based on player actions.


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

3/15/2018 11:19 am  #3


Re: Gaming at cons

I created an Adventure called Raiders!. For a con, I pair down the number of random encounters, and reduce the size/level of the "required" encounters. I also normally run more of a sandbox game, wherein a Con I railroad the players down the path towards the adventure. Normally in Cons, the games are 4 or so hours, I can squeeze my current module into a 2-hour window provided I don't have any disruptive players that have a tendency to slow things down.


-- 
BlackKnight, AKA Sausage
Been playing Tabletop games for 40+ years...
 

3/15/2018 2:09 pm  #4


Re: Gaming at cons

mabon5127 wrote:

 I create an adventure that has many decision points for players that can be manipulated for time. I make sparse notes that can change on the fly and often do.  Never runs the same twice. Combats are often areas that can cause big time differences.  Combat avoided speeds things up quite a bit.  TPK speeds things up too, though I try to avoid such a thing....

To answer directly I plan more than I will use and pare back based on player actions.

This makes sense so people play slightly different or maybe some people play different at cons. 


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3/15/2018 6:20 pm  #5


Re: Gaming at cons

It depends. I try to plan a scenario that I can run in a four- or six-hour block, because I prefer an adventure with a beginning, middle, and end. For something like a megadungeon, it’s understood that the players just will explore what they can of it for as much time as they have. What disappoints me as a player is sitting down to a game I think has a story arc and learning that we have no chance of completing it in the allotted time.

 

3/15/2018 8:51 pm  #6


Re: Gaming at cons

I will run 2 types of games at a con: one is a straight up dungeon crawl (Tegel Manor, Caverns of Thracia, or Descent into Krimmea - which is sort of a crawl). I will run a crawl for 4 or 6 hours and then call it a day at the end of the time slot or when everyone dies, whichever comes first.
The second type being a 4 hour adventure, which I base around 3 acts (usually), similar to what DMPrata mentioned, and as much player decisions or non combat dice rolling on their part as possible. 

 

3/15/2018 9:45 pm  #7


Re: Gaming at cons

Thrasaric wrote:

mabon5127 wrote:

 I create an adventure that has many decision points for players that can be manipulated for time. I make sparse notes that can change on the fly and often do.  Never runs the same twice. Combats are often areas that can cause big time differences.  Combat avoided speeds things up quite a bit.  TPK speeds things up too, though I try to avoid such a thing....

To answer directly I plan more than I will use and pare back based on player actions.

This makes sense so people play slightly different or maybe some people play different at cons. 

I run a different game at cons as I am trying to reach the end of a story. Session play at home is much more relaxed.
 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

3/16/2018 9:44 am  #8


Re: Gaming at cons

I ran my first game at Gary con this year... a very rewarding experience for me personally. I will say this, if it is a pre-written adventure, I found I felt I had to modify it quite heavily in case someone at the table had already played it before. (That was my thinking going into it)

However, none of the players in my con game of Charnel Crypt of the Sightless Serpent had played in that adventure, so I think that changing it was not really needed, I think if a player who goes to a con has played in an adventure before; they will just NOT sign up for it again. 

One other note, if you are running a pre-written adventure that has a lot of role-play lead-up then you may wish to just throw them a few clues/possible routes, and get them into the "dungeon" as quickly as possible. You could easily eat up a 4 hour con block with lead-up gaming. Giving players a few options in clues allows them to not feel so "Railroaded" into the adventure. Charnel Crypt for me was great because there are two possible enties into that place as written. 

Again deffinately not a pro con gamer here...just some thoughts. Otherwise I defer to the masters who have spoken before me! http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


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3/16/2018 11:30 am  #9


Re: Gaming at cons

I think the responses so far mostly cover things. But because I hate to feel left out:

I'll generally either pick an adventure that I think should fit the time slot or modify one for it. Like last year I ran just the "dungeon" part of "Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes," which is like 18 rooms of exploration with a fair amount of possible combat. "Meal of Oshregaal," which is open-ended but seemed like a good fit for the time. If my players can do it in a six-hour game. I figure con-focused people can do it in four!

This year I came up with a system I liked for ratcheting up the mission importance of random encounters until they became important enough that the main adventure started. I thought it worked pretty well, but I was also ready to cut to the chase (literally) if it was taking too long. In the other one I ran this year, there were two main adventure areas. I figured it was possible to do both, but only for a group that got lucky or was really focused. And doing one or the other would be fun enough. Worked out as I figured.

I suppose that there's always a chance that you could get someone at your table who is just NOT OK with you saying, "OK, your party has decided to investigate this" and plopping them down at the dungeon door, someone who insists on the purity of the sandbox no matter what -- but I've never heard of it happening at a con. I think the social contract can be relied upon to that extent.

Also, play in Mabon's game. He's a master!

 

3/16/2018 1:22 pm  #10


Re: Gaming at cons

Handy Haversack wrote:

This year I came up with a system I liked for ratcheting up the mission importance of random encounters until they became important enough that the main adventure started. I thought it worked pretty well, but I was also ready to cut to the chase (literally) if it was taking too long.

I'd be interested in hearing about this system...


Handy Haversack wrote:

Also, play in Mabon's game. He's a master!

You are setting people up for disappointment but thanks!
 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

3/16/2018 8:38 pm  #11


Re: Gaming at cons

So I'm debating running a game of ASSH at a con I attend at the end of April. Given real world responsibilities I'm not sure I can develop a scenario before the con much less play test it. My inclination is to run "Rats in the Walls" which should easily fit in a four hour timeframe.

But I was wondering if there were any shared adventures from the forum that I could run instead. Are there any I could peruse?

 

3/17/2018 6:02 pm  #12


Re: Gaming at cons

I concur with all of the above, but allow me to add a further small example:

About 5 years back at Gary Con, DMPrata went beyond what he described above. He ran Palace of the Silver Princess, and each session he ran represented a foray into the environment. Each foray would permanently impact the module for the next foray: chests would be looted, monsters slain or riled, fights left rooms blood-spatterd, etc. Presumably, had I signed up for multiple sessions, I could encounter my own character's handiwork. I immensely enjoyed this concept, and have sought similar con play ever since.

Chainsaw followed suit with Foolsgrave in Hyperborea, but added re-playable PCs to the mix!

I never quite realized that Grodog does something similar to what Prata did, but in his own Greyhawk Castle. It's recognizable only if you're lucky enough to witness repeat sections of this mega-dungeon. It's taken me over 5 years to spot this, and then only at this last Gary Con.

I can only assume this all follows Gygax's own Greyhawk model, but I don't know for certain as I never had the privilege of playing with the man.

The above examples rank among my favorite con games to date, but that's just me, I don't find story arcs as entertaining. I'm more keen on exploration.

Last edited by Josh (3/18/2018 1:51 pm)

 

3/17/2018 6:18 pm  #13


Re: Gaming at cons

Josh wrote:

I concur with all of the above, but allow me to add a further small example:

About 5 years back at Gary Con, DMPrata went beyond what he described above. He ran Palace of the Silver Princess, and each session he ran represented a foray into the environment. Each foray would permanently impact the module for the next foray: chests would be looted, monsters slain or riled, fights left rooms blood-spatterd, etc. Presumably, had I signed up for multiple sessions, I could encounter my own character's handiwork. I immensely enjoyed this concept, and have sought similar con play ever since.

Chainsaw followed suit with Fool's Grave in Hyperborea, but added re-playable PCs to the mix!

I never quite realized that Grodog does something similar to what Prata did, but in his own Greyhawk Castle. It's recognizable only if you're lucky enough to witness repeat sections of this mega-dungeon. It's taken me over 5 years to spot this, and then only at this last Gary Con.

I can only assume this all follows Gygax's own Greyhawk model, but I don't know for certain as I never had the privilege of playing with the man.

The above examples rank among my favorite con games to date, but that's just me, I don't find story arcs as entertaining. I'm more keen on exploration.

That is awesome and I agree that is how it should be if you have multiple groups going into the same environ.


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3/18/2018 7:28 am  #14


Re: Gaming at cons

Thrasaric wrote:

Most adventures seem like they would be way to big to play in a couple hours. Do you just play till your out of time? or how does that work?

I run two types of games, here’s what I do in each.

1 - When I run the standard gather-info-in-town, travel-to-dungeon and explore-dungeon scenarios that would normally take many sessions of play (The Lost Treasure of Atlantis, Crash at Corpse Creek), I fast forward all of the pre-dungeon elements, provide a few minutes of backstory and start the party at the front door of the dungeon. Furthermore, Atlantis takes place on a small island and has 100+ explorable locations across the island and a five-level dungeon - it’s way more than can be conquered in a convention game. So, in this case, I also hand out written clues (text and map fragments) to the players that point toward mini-quests on the island that can be “won” in four hours or so. People have liked the minor props and, more importantly, it helps them focus and gain a sense of accomplishment.

Of course, it’s worth emphasizing that if you’re running a small dungeon of <20 rooms, the sort that wouldn’t take several sessions of home play, maybe there’s time for all the pre-dungeon stuff depending on your style. The key is taking a step back, thinking about the breadth and depth of the scenario, identifying the most important elements and adapting them to the time constraint where necessary. These adaptations are a conceit of the convention games that most convention regulars understand.

2 - I also run a living megadungeon (Foolsgrave) where stuff stays broken from session to session and players can play multiple times with the same characters (if they live). In this one, they explore and fight for as long as the session’s time allows. Again, we start at the front door after about a minute of introduction. I didn’t provide mini-quest clues here for the first ten runnings or so, but I may begin to do that in the future as the initial areas become over-explored and the players have better maps.

If the game’s a non-standard scenario (like political intrigue), which I would not recommend for inexperienced convention referees, the same fast-forward and hand wave concepts can be probably used, but likely have to be adapted as appropriate.

In all cases, the referee should make it clear in the event summary where the session’s emphasis lies so that people arrive with the appropriate expectations.


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

3/18/2018 8:22 am  #15


Re: Gaming at cons

Chainsaw wrote:

In all cases, the referee should make it clear in the event summary where the session’s emphasis lies so that people arrive with the appropriate expectations.

This is probably something I need to do better. Dungeon crawl, vs Sandbox hexcrawl, vs story arc, managing expectation is important. I have probably disappointed by not doing this. Great suggestion.


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

3/18/2018 8:25 am  #16


Re: Gaming at cons

mabon5127 wrote:

Chainsaw wrote:

In all cases, the referee should make it clear in the event summary where the session’s emphasis lies so that people arrive with the appropriate expectations.

This is probably something I need to do better. Dungeon crawl, vs Sandbox hexcrawl, vs story arc, managing expectation is important. I have probably disappointed by not doing this. Great suggestion.

People *rave* about your games, Morgan! I’m not sure you need to change a thing. 


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

3/18/2018 8:43 am  #17


Re: Gaming at cons

Chainsaw wrote:

mabon5127 wrote:

Chainsaw wrote:

In all cases, the referee should make it clear in the event summary where the session’s emphasis lies so that people arrive with the appropriate expectations.

This is probably something I need to do better. Dungeon crawl, vs Sandbox hexcrawl, vs story arc, managing expectation is important. I have probably disappointed by not doing this. Great suggestion.

People *rave* about your games, Morgan! I’m not sure you need to change a thing. 

Thanks, but I have had a couple folks tell me that; "I was hoping to get a better feel for the system..." after the game. I'm pretty rules lite with a story arc. They might have been better served in another type of game. I feel like I run a decent game but need to let folks know what they are getting into! This is one of the reasons this forum is so good and has made me a better gm.


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

3/18/2018 9:45 am  #18


Re: Gaming at cons

I think Chainsaw hit it on the head.

I've read in some other forums about this topic (con games vs home games) and that post is a really good summation.

In a home game you have cool, interesting elements spread out everywhere. The players may or may not find them and that's ok. In a con, you need to identify those elements and find ways for players to find them faster or easier.

Or you just cut down the scope and let them explore the darn thing and they have a good chance to find a few of the interesting things.

However, that's what I'm looking for in a con game (dying in a glorious and memorable way if I'm going to die), that is a chance to be delighted and entertained.


What? Me worry?
 

3/20/2018 10:03 am  #19


Re: Gaming at cons

Josh wrote:

The above examples rank among my favorite con games to date, but that's just me, I don't find story arcs as entertaining. I'm more keen on exploration.

This is why a good event description is important.  
 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

3/20/2018 10:48 am  #20


Re: Gaming at cons

mabon5127 wrote:

Josh wrote:

The above examples rank among my favorite con games to date, but that's just me, I don't find story arcs as entertaining. I'm more keen on exploration.

This is why a good event description is important.  
 

Agreed...


-- 
BlackKnight, AKA Sausage
Been playing Tabletop games for 40+ years...
 

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