Prepping for a Convention Game, Pt 1

Given that I’m only a few days out from GenCon, and I recently got some experience with prepping convention games (see KantCon Actual Play Sessions). I figured that on the eve of the eve of my departure for Indianapolis, I’d take some time and give some insights on how I went about prepping my games for KantCon, and how I’m going about prepping my one game for GenCon.

When the time came to sign up to run games for KantCon, I kind of went a little nuts with it. I decided first to run Savaged Fallout and The Tomb of Horrors. Savage Mojo then offered to sponsor the convention, and I volunteered to run the Savage Suzerain version of Dr. Ballard, I Presume. Finally, my madness peaked, and I decided to run Sugar Rush, an adventure I had run for my group at Halloween. And that was it, I was done. Or so I thought.

I then got a message from the venerable owner of this fine website, our own Ben, asking is I would be up for running the public debut of The World of Aruneus via the adventure The Haunted Mines. I thought about it for all of fifteen minutes, and then I said yes. And that brought my total number of games to five. Five four-hour games with anywhere from 5-8 players per session. (There actually ended up being far more than five players in The Haunted Mines, but that’s another story).

So how did I get all of these games ready to go? The answer depends on the game session. All of these games came to me in various forms of completeness, and the prep varied based on the game. Let me break them down.

The Easiest

The two games that were the easiest for me to prep were The Tomb of Horrors, and Sugar Rush. Tomb was the easiest of the two, simply because all of the work was done for me, aside from character creation. WotC did a good job with this module, and all I needed to do was read through it, tweak a few things to run it under Pathfinder, and that was that. Sugar Rush was similarly easy to get ready, but that was because I had done almost all of the necessary legwork last Halloween. I did have to update the monsters to Pathfinder, and I went back and changed up what the various, colored rooms did when entered, but all in all, that was about as much work as getting Tomb ready.

The Ones That Needed Some Work

The two that fall into this category are Dr. Ballard, I Presume and The Haunted Mines, but both for different reasons. Dr. Ballard was a full adventure, with characters provided in the Savage Suzerain, Play Now PDF. The problem with the module was that it was really poorly written. In my playtest with my home group, I was continually flipping through the pages of the module (which was only 9 pages long) to try and find what I was looking for. The fact that it took me so much flipping to find what I needed out of 9 pages is a sign of bad design in my book. As well, the original module was slated to run in about two hours, and I had to fill four. So, at the suggestion of one of the Savage Mojo guys, I added some content to the front of the adventure. Still, it took me longer than I would have liked to get this module into working shape.

The Haunted Mines was of medium difficulty for a different reason. The adventure that Ben sent me was near-complete, and had a lot of good stuff in it. The NPCs were fully statted out, and everything seemed good to go. My problem with this module was the world in which it was set. I kept feeling like I didn’t know enough about the world to do it justice as I was running it. I really wanted to make sure that the public premiere of Aruneus would kick as much ass as possible because I really believe in what Ben is doing with it. So, with all of that rolled together, I kept feeling like I was going to be missing something key about the world. I chalk this one up to my own propensity to worry too much. Ben has put out a lot of good information about Aruneus, and I think I was just worried about getting it right to the point that it was affecting my preparations for the game.

The Hardest One

Savaged Fallout was the game that I had the most trouble prepping for, and that was for a variety of reasons. First was that I was creating the module myself, and deciding where everything went, as well as what should happen. I did the same thing for Sugar Rush, as I said, but I did that work months and months ago, so it didn’t affect my preparations for KantCon. As well, much like the Aruneus session, there is an entire world that already exists for Fallout, and I felt that my number one goal was to recreate the feel of that world as much as possible. As well, there is a lot of equipment in Fallout that doesn’t exist in Savage Worlds, and since I was using Hero Lab to make my characters, I had a lot of custom content to add.

All of those thing combined to make Savaged Fallout the game that required the most prep work.

To Be Continued

When I started writing this article, I had intended to put down all of my thoughts in one shot. However, as I started typing, I realized that while I had covered what was difficult about the games that I ran for KantCon, I didn’t go into my game prep for my Deadlands GenCon game, nor did I give any real tips for how to effectively prepare for a convention game. So, you can expect the second part of this article to hit TC tomorrow. Until then, get out there and roll some dice!

[tags]rpg, rpgs, role playing games, preparation, GenCon, KantCon, Aruneus[/tags]

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