Convention advice

edited September 2006 in Story Games
Okay, everybody. In two weeks from today I'm going to be attending my first con evah. I've signed up to run Ron Edward's In Utero from Sex and Sorcery.

It's a small con organised by one of the local university clubs ( Since this is my first con, I'm seeking advice. What can I expect? Is there anything I should watch out for? Should I slash my wrists if nobody wants to play? Would it be a good idea to take extra games? Anything else?


  • If you can, get a friend or two to seed the sign-up list for you. People will pass over a blank list just because it's blank; if there's already a name or two on it, they will be far more likely to sign up.

    First con evah? Seriously, go with the one game you've got, hang out, and see how things work. Then, next time, you can formulate a plan based on foreknowledge. Right now, don't sweat it too much.
  • I've run Sorcerer at a con before. Here's what I do with con scenarios in general and Sorcerer specifically:

    1) Shake hands and introduce myself to everyone who arrives at the table. Introduce people to one another as latecomers arrive.

    2) Ask how people know Sorcerer and what they know about it. I get a whole lot of:

    a) I hear its a game with a lot of wierd ideas in it.
    b) I hear it is a game that no one plays.
    c) I hear it has alot of gaming theory in it.

    I then tell them that it is just a fun game that I enjoy and that I'm not going to try to change their heads, just trying to play a fun game.

    3) Tell players that I don't know where this game is going to end up, not that I didn't come prepared, I did, but this sucker could and will go where you take it.

    Some players, when they come to a con scenario are really mentally prepared to go on a railroad and they're fine with that. When they realize there's no rails, sometimes they can either get upset or feel like they are somehow betraying the GM and making the GM look bad. I want them to be at ease.

    Then just run a fun game.

    Hope that helps, have fun and post how it goes.
  • Wow, In Utero? Cool!

    I think you probably already know all my usual caveats about playing Sorcerer in a con situation. The nice thing about this one is that you can introduce it very easily in terms of "your character, your character, and here's your character," and they kind of reel in shock at the basic concept. I point out the descriptors, which are pretty well matched to the character concepts if I say so myself, and that usually results in a lot of head-nodding and people saying "that makes sense."

    Then hop right into presenting conflicts. I always started with Stephanie asking Robert about making their relationship a little more official, which usually leads to a roll. I have the two other sorcerers (the wife and the son) roll against one another to see who gets there first (usually the son has his demon use her Cover ability; sometimes she gets inside the condo by stealth).

    So that teaches them basic resolution, and before they really know it, they're playing hard and fast without any system hitches at all. Once in a while I remind them that it's a free-will game, and that their characters can do anything they want them to, even act against the descriptors on the sheet.

    I do a little better with more specific questions, so if you could narrow down your concerns a bit to the system or the scenario itself, I can probably help. I also confess I'm kind of informal about planned slots for play ... I've been known to invite and include people who are just wandering by, or ignoring whatever formalized method the con has put together for signups. So I'm probably a bad role-model and shouldn't answer questions about that stuff.

    You saw the discussion of orthogonal/opposed at the Adept Press forum, right? If not, check it out and practice a bit with the dice.

    Best, Ron
  • Thanks for the replies, fellers. I'm all excited!
    Posted By: Ron EdwardsI do a little better with more specific questions, so if you could narrow down your concerns a bit to the system or the scenario itself, I can probably help.
    You saw the discussion of orthogonal/opposed at the Adept Press forum, right? If not, check it out and practice a bit with the dice.
    Yes, I've read that thread, and I don't think I've got any problems there. Sorcerer resolution doesn't seem to give me any conceptual headaches. I do intend to spend the next couple of weeks reviewing the rules, so if I've got any specific questions I'll post them in the Adept Press forum.

    I do have a couple of questions regarding the scenario.

    1. Both times I've run IU previously, the Banishing of the demon Jennifer has been the climax. Have you ever seen a different outcome?

    2. Related to 1., Have you had any further thoughts on the issues raised by Paul Czege in this thread: ? I'd like if at all possible to obviate the feeling Paul noted in his first post.

    3. Have you found any sort of player handout to be useful?
  • Droog,

    In the realms on general con advice: don't slash your wrists if nobody signs up. There are loads of factors not under your control: other games scheduled at the same time, the fact that (perhaps) Sorcerer isn't as well known.

    Play other people's games and talk enthusiastically about your game. The first time I played Dogs In The Vineyard, I hadn't heard of it, but I liked the GM who was running it and I'd just played another game with him.

    Write the sign-up sheet so that the game sounds interesting. Since Sorceror won't be as well known as, say, D&D, explain a little about what it's about. Mention that you play a character with a demon inside you: that should do it.

  • Don't focus your entire thinking on the game you're running. Find some games to play in. Take some time to hang around the convention and meet people. Your particular slot will run just a few hours, and I'm guessing that the convention is much more than that. Don't miss out. It's bad for your sanity, and it's a bad way to pitch your individual slot. Go out and have fun, and people will want to have fun with you.
  • Hi there,

    Paul's experience was a freak occurrence based on a number of factors. One of which was me interpreting a final set of dice outcomes and narrating as I saw fit, without a consensual check from everyone; another was Paul's trained habits at the time, of accepting whatever a GM said as fiat; another was that it was the first time I'd run the demo and was still seeing whether its parts worked. None of which apply to you. I, uh, have to say that Paul was a pretty disgruntled role-player at the time in general, and the notion that he could have any fun was still strange to him. (Sorry Paul, it was four years ago and you did tend to be a bit of a cranky pill at the table ...)

    I don't think I ended up with the same ending twice. Maybe a couple of family reunions, at most. I even played one in which the player-characters sacrificed Stephanie in order to re-Bind the demons in a new set of arrangements. After that first session, I tried hard to just open up, let the players enrich and interpret the characters, and

    Final point: you cannot guarantee anyone's reaction at the table, to anything. That's why obsessing over "what Paul said" is a waste of time. I can guarantee you that sooner or later, someone is going to hate the game, hate you, hate the scenario, and so on. You can't make someone enjoy something. Most of the time, it'll be a blast, so concentrate on what makes it the most fun for you and communicate that to the others as empathetically as possible.

    Best, Ron
  • Psych yourself up, you're a performer about to put on a performance in front of strangers! It's opening night! The big number!
  • Thanks for all your comments. I hope nobody feels slighted if I thank Ron in particular for his specific advice. It certainly doesn't mean the general advice isn't appreciated.

    My own stake in this is meeting new people to play with (and have some fun doing it). But I also feel I've got a lot to thank this community and the Forge for, so I'm doing what I can do to help promote some games that have given me a lot of pleasure. One step at a time, of course.

    Hutang emas boleh dibayar
    Hutang budi dibawa mati.
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