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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 5:15 pm
  

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I'm the regular GM for my immediate group of friends, however I've never tried to run a game in this kind of setting. However I am really motivated to try this out.

What would be your advice for a mere-mortal who has never ran a "convention" style game?
During your original outings what were your biggest surprises?
What lead to your biggest successes?
What lead to your biggest challenges?
Thoughts on pacing/making your game fit well into a time slot?


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Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:33 am
  

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Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2005 2:09 pm
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I was pretty much in this exact same boat for the last Open House. My biggest piece of advice is to just do it. Submit to run a game or a few. Or plan to run some stuff after-hours (if there ends up being an after-hours place this time). Just dive right in. As a regular GM already you can handle this.

As far as advice for someone who hasn't done a game like this before, probably the best thing you could do is go play in a Palladium convention game somewhere. See what those challenges are like. The Open House will likely be similar. If you don't have that opportunity, don't worry. Ultimately it's not much different than running a one-shot adventure at home. You're just doing it more publicly in a louder environment with strangers.

My biggest surprises were having a full table of people who just really enjoy Palladium and wanted to buy in to the game I was running. My regular gaming group suffers from various levels of Palladium "burnout," so being around a bunch of gamers as excited for Palladium as I was was quite encouraging. Everyone had good buy-in and I didn't have to deal with the negativity towards the Palladium system that's too common among many of my gaming friends.

I think pre-gens and planning led to my biggest success. Setting the clear goals for the characters and having interesting characters who wanted to meet those goals really seemed to enable the players to have a lot of fun, and I found it to be a lot of fun too. The game I'm least proud of had the least amount of planning, vague goals, and the least interesting characters, and it really made the game sort of blah all around.

I think one of my biggest challenges was just the volume levels of the warehouse. It wasn't excessive, but as a home GM I'm used to a quiet setting. At the Open House (and other conventions I've since been to) I have to be able to talk over all the noise around me so the players can hear me. And I have to do it for several hours. It's not insurmountable, but it was my biggest challenge. Another challenge I had, both in running my games and playing in other games, is that everyone house-rules Palladium games differently. I had to quickly come to terms with the fact that rules interpretations I have held and been comfortable with for years weren't "universal," like they seem to be in my mind. Having the ability to quickly adjudicate the inevitable rules clashes is key, because many of the other players also "know" the rules and have their own interpretations. If you're designing an adventure that relies on a quirk of the rules you've always taken for granted in order for the players to succeed, you may be disappointed. Players familiar with later books of a game, or different editions, can also lead to situations you aren't familiar with. Just try your best to adjudicate the situation and move on. Don't get bogged down in the rules minutia - it's a one-shot game. Even if you make the wrong call, it won't have lasting repercussions on a major campaign. Keeping that in mind is very helpful.

To fit your game(s) in a time slot, have pre-gens ready. Don't waste time rolling up characters. I try to have a couple extra pre-gens available so everyone can ultimately have a choice of character. You can use existing NPC's in the books for pregens if you want, too. Just copy their stats/abilities/etc and rename them.

For a four-hour game, I've had good success breaking the game up into 5 major "scenes." The plot drives the characters from scene to scene. Scene 1 is the introduction or start of the adventure, Scenes 2, 3, and 4 are the meat of the adventure (and in my games are generally doable in any order), and Scene 5 is the final battle/conclusion. Depending on how much combat you want to have in your game, you can also have encounters between scenes. I watch the clock, too. If the players spend the first hour of a four hour game in Scene 1, I work to make the other scenes go a bit faster. THeir combats may be easier. I may change some combat challenges into RP challenges to move through them faster. Ultimately, having some variety in the obstacles you wish to throw at the players can help control the flow of real-world time as you go through the adventure. In two hours they're through the first three scenes? Then Scene 4 is now a massive battle instead of just a scripted encounter.

I think clear goals are key. A one-shot adventure can get away with "railroading" in a way a normal campaign rarely can. Each character should have a stake in the overall plot, and a reason to go from the first scene all the way to the last. Reaching a certain destination/location, surviving to a certain time/place, solving a mystery... the characters should have an investment in the plot that moves them through to whatever the final scene is.

Lastly, just relax and have fun. It sounds more daunting than it is.

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Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:54 am
  

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Palladin

Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2005 4:14 pm
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Location: Northwood, ND
Glistam wrote:
I was pretty much in this exact same boat for the last Open House. My biggest piece of advice is to just do it. Submit to run a game or a few. Or plan to run some stuff after-hours (if there ends up being an after-hours place this time). Just dive right in. As a regular GM already you can handle this.

As far as advice for someone who hasn't done a game like this before, probably the best thing you could do is go play in a Palladium convention game somewhere. See what those challenges are like. The Open House will likely be similar. If you don't have that opportunity, don't worry. Ultimately it's not much different than running a one-shot adventure at home. You're just doing it more publicly in a louder environment with strangers.

My biggest surprises were having a full table of people who just really enjoy Palladium and wanted to buy in to the game I was running. My regular gaming group suffers from various levels of Palladium "burnout," so being around a bunch of gamers as excited for Palladium as I was was quite encouraging. Everyone had good buy-in and I didn't have to deal with the negativity towards the Palladium system that's too common among many of my gaming friends.

I think pre-gens and planning led to my biggest success. Setting the clear goals for the characters and having interesting characters who wanted to meet those goals really seemed to enable the players to have a lot of fun, and I found it to be a lot of fun too. The game I'm least proud of had the least amount of planning, vague goals, and the least interesting characters, and it really made the game sort of blah all around.

I think one of my biggest challenges was just the volume levels of the warehouse. It wasn't excessive, but as a home GM I'm used to a quiet setting. At the Open House (and other conventions I've since been to) I have to be able to talk over all the noise around me so the players can hear me. And I have to do it for several hours. It's not insurmountable, but it was my biggest challenge. Another challenge I had, both in running my games and playing in other games, is that everyone house-rules Palladium games differently. I had to quickly come to terms with the fact that rules interpretations I have held and been comfortable with for years weren't "universal," like they seem to be in my mind. Having the ability to quickly adjudicate the inevitable rules clashes is key, because many of the other players also "know" the rules and have their own interpretations. If you're designing an adventure that relies on a quirk of the rules you've always taken for granted in order for the players to succeed, you may be disappointed. Players familiar with later books of a game, or different editions, can also lead to situations you aren't familiar with. Just try your best to adjudicate the situation and move on. Don't get bogged down in the rules minutia - it's a one-shot game. Even if you make the wrong call, it won't have lasting repercussions on a major campaign. Keeping that in mind is very helpful.

To fit your game(s) in a time slot, have pre-gens ready. Don't waste time rolling up characters. I try to have a couple extra pre-gens available so everyone can ultimately have a choice of character. You can use existing NPC's in the books for pregens if you want, too. Just copy their stats/abilities/etc and rename them.

For a four-hour game, I've had good success breaking the game up into 5 major "scenes." The plot drives the characters from scene to scene. Scene 1 is the introduction or start of the adventure, Scenes 2, 3, and 4 are the meat of the adventure (and in my games are generally doable in any order), and Scene 5 is the final battle/conclusion. Depending on how much combat you want to have in your game, you can also have encounters between scenes. I watch the clock, too. If the players spend the first hour of a four hour game in Scene 1, I work to make the other scenes go a bit faster. THeir combats may be easier. I may change some combat challenges into RP challenges to move through them faster. Ultimately, having some variety in the obstacles you wish to throw at the players can help control the flow of real-world time as you go through the adventure. In two hours they're through the first three scenes? Then Scene 4 is now a massive battle instead of just a scripted encounter.

I think clear goals are key. A one-shot adventure can get away with "railroading" in a way a normal campaign rarely can. Each character should have a stake in the overall plot, and a reason to go from the first scene all the way to the last. Reaching a certain destination/location, surviving to a certain time/place, solving a mystery... the characters should have an investment in the plot that moves them through to whatever the final scene is.

Lastly, just relax and have fun. It sounds more daunting than it is.


:ok: Great advice!


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Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:22 pm
  

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Megaversal® Ambassador

Joined: Mon May 15, 2006 5:01 pm
Posts: 2659
I love conventions and I've run hundreds of con events over the years. I've posted about running con game on this forum in the past and I'm happy to answer more specific questions.

What would be your advice for a mere-mortal who has never ran a "convention" style game?

1) All pre-gen characters.

2) Pregens are 2 page max.

3) Have a one-page "cheat sheet" with anything newbs need to know to play.

4) Playtest your event with your home crew for both QUALITY of the adventure and TIME. Time is your biggest issue. You have to have a beginning, middle and end happen during your slot. That can take some practice.

5) Bring water and keep hydrated.


What lead to your biggest successes?

Preparation / Practice / Improv

AKA, I prep the game, I run it once, then I go with the flow of the table to maximize the fun.


What lead to your biggest challenges?

You mean biggest disasters?

Not stomping on bad players before they ruined the fun for the table.
I learned that the hard way a long time ago.


Thoughts on pacing/making your game fit well into a time slot?

Less is more. Its easy to add in an encounter / scene / event, but its harder to subtract on the fly, especially when panicking that you are only halfway through the adventure when you only have 30 minutes left.

There was an old RPGA AD&D Tournament concept for writers for 4 hour events. I still use it as a shorthand:

In 4 hours, you have time for:
2 Combats
1 Pure Roleplay (stabby stabby)
1 Trap (either fight out or think out or negotiate out, etc)
1 Trick (roleplay with NPC or maze stuff or misdirection of fake clues, etc)
1 Decision (sends the adventure in different direction)


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Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:07 am
  

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Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2011 2:13 am
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Spinachcat wrote:
I love conventions and I've run hundreds of con events over the years. I've posted about running con game on this forum in the past and I'm happy to answer more specific questions.

What would be your advice for a mere-mortal who has never ran a "convention" style game?

1) All pre-gen characters.

2) Pregens are 2 page max.

3) Have a one-page "cheat sheet" with anything newbs need to know to play.

4) Playtest your event with your home crew for both QUALITY of the adventure and TIME. Time is your biggest issue. You have to have a beginning, middle and end happen during your slot. That can take some practice.

5) Bring water and keep hydrated.


What lead to your biggest successes?

Preparation / Practice / Improv

AKA, I prep the game, I run it once, then I go with the flow of the table to maximize the fun.


What lead to your biggest challenges?

You mean biggest disasters?

Not stomping on bad players before they ruined the fun for the table.
I learned that the hard way a long time ago.


Thoughts on pacing/making your game fit well into a time slot?

Less is more. Its easy to add in an encounter / scene / event, but its harder to subtract on the fly, especially when panicking that you are only halfway through the adventure when you only have 30 minutes left.

There was an old RPGA AD&D Tournament concept for writers for 4 hour events. I still use it as a shorthand:

In 4 hours, you have time for:
2 Combats
1 Pure Roleplay (stabby stabby)
1 Trap (either fight out or think out or negotiate out, etc)
1 Trick (roleplay with NPC or maze stuff or misdirection of fake clues, etc)
1 Decision (sends the adventure in different direction)


Nailed this again.... well done
Some other advice, here

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Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:02 pm
  

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Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 8:04 am
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Location: UK
Comment: "So gentlemen, are you prepared to open your minds and travel to worlds hitherto undreamed of?"
Incriptus wrote:
I'm the regular GM for my immediate group of friends, however I've never tried to run a game in this kind of setting. However I am really motivated to try this out.

Most has been covered but of the top of my head
Incriptus wrote:
What would be your advice for a mere-mortal who has never ran a "convention" style game?

No more than 6 players (make it 4 if its your first time and you run <6 regularly).
Pregens 1 page.
Minimalise the magic/psionic OCCs - too much choice or too much explanation required. The more diverse the abilities the more off shoot the decisions that will lead off your plot.
Low level characters (1-4 max)
Have a plot and an exciting (surprise) ending - too many exhibition games are just a combat scenario (attack this and retrieve/kill this).


Incriptus wrote:
During your original outings what were your biggest surprises?

I write adventures that are way too long!
I allow players to lead things at their pace (not mine) - Im used to campaigns lasting years so we can spend a whole night talking tactics or shopping. That doesnt work for this...

Incriptus wrote:
What lead to your biggest successes?

Pacing
Be obvious with leads and direction - its not railroading its moving the game forward (you cant afford to chat). If theyre not sure what to do next make a skill roll. Then give them a few options of what they may possibly do - that way they just have to pick one but u can be prepared for each but the freedom of choice is theirs.
Having an adventure that has parts that can be removed if necessary or kept in if time allows! - in my Lion, witch, warlock adventue (in my sig) it was a POH adventure. I left out the whole kidnap/hotel battle scenario every time I GM it at an exhibition!

Incriptus wrote:
What lead to your biggest challenges?

Player interaction
Shy players
If you get a player who just ignores the obvious plot (I recall a POH game where a city was being attacked by undead and one player just wanted to fight in the arena whilst the rest of us helped defend the city-jeez...) Dont spend too much time on him. Dont detract from the others fun or your own to be nice to that one - he will soon say "I go join the others" cos hes bored. Harsh but fair.
Keeping everyone involved - come back to the quiet players as others can take over (Im a take over player)

Incriptus wrote:
Thoughts on pacing/making your game fit well into a time slot?

4 hour game
3 combats max
Start of straight into action! Dont start in a tavern hearing rumours or looking at fkin job boards).
Make the group friends already - a well oiled machine briefed already and at the location of the first action or clue or siege etc.
Set your game into chapters and playtest - then set a timeframe for each chapter so you know when to progress the story.
NO INVESTIGATION - if the players spend more than 5 minutes actual time "knocking on doors or searching for clues" they are disheartened and bored and losing interest. Make them roll and give them a clue or two, see what they're discussing and if needs be give them another roll and 2-3 options of what/where to go next.

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