Friday, October 29, 2010

Convention RPG Experiences

Since I'll be running a couple of session of Pendragon at Ubercon next weekend (my first time running RPG's at a Con), I was wondering what people's experiences might have been like, on either side of the screen. I've been to several conventions, some of the gaming, but I've only ever played in one RPG during those visits. I had a wonderful time, getting a preview of the "Castle of the Mad Archmage", and having my gaming passion stoked enough to join a regular AD&D game hosted by the same DM. (Yes, Joe, this is all your fault. ;) ) That session also included one of the best uses of Ventriloquism that I've seen in a game, done by the Illusionist to mess with the minds of the party other members by making a giant statue of a head speak to them.

Now, obviously, my plan for the Ubercon sessions will be a little different than Pendragon is typically run. Normally the game includes mechanics for improving skills after each adventure (1 year of game time = 1 adventure, for most cases), but as a one-shot, that won't work. I'm also reasonable sure that most players won't be familiar with the game system, so we'll be doing a little learning as we go. I have created cheat-sheets for the general mechanics, though, to make it as smooth as possible. In order to get the best possible variety out of the game, though, I think I'll artificially force in a variety of cultures & religions into the party, definitely making the characters all Religious (qualifying for different bonuses based on the Religion of the character, see below). That should help to drive home the point that, while all the characters are Knights, the variety of knights that are available to play are wide enough, and customizable enough, to provide to balanced game play. You would not believe the reactions I get when I tell people that they can only play Knights in this game. "That's got to be boring" being the chief one.

So, since I'm still pretty much a N00B at all this, what have your experiences been? Good, bad, weird? I'd love to hear them, even the horror stories.

Oh, and about the religious bonuses in Pendragon, I like how they actually make a difference in the game, just like in the literature. Depending on your religion, you will have different Personality Traits that are promoted, so as to act in the manner of the religion's ideals. If all of these are 16 or over (out of 20), you gain a special bonus from your god(s) for being the epitome of those ideals. For example, if you have a 16+ in all of the Wotanic (aka Norse/Germanic Religion) traits, you gain +1d6 damage. Other religions allow for increased healing rate, of additional Hit Points, etc. It adds flavor to the game, especially if you have a Religious Saxon using an ax. :D


  1. I know we've communicated about this privately, but the ultimate horror story I can relate is having zero people sign up for my first AD&D game in recent years at a convention. It's way too easy for a game, especially a game that's not "current" and in the public eye, to get lost in the hundreds of entries in the convention book.

    The next convention, I was prepared. I posted flyers (with the iconic 1st edition PH image to attract attention) all over the convention, and this time I not only had full sessions but people on the waiting list. By the next convention the word had gotten out and the flyers were superfluous; I had the sessions filled up even before the convention started.

    There's a hunger out there for the older games-- Pendragon included, I'm sure-- if only people know that they are still being played!

    If there are any Pendragon-specific web forums or email lists, I would heartily suggest mentioning your games there as well. Such places usually like to hear about convention appearances of the games they're about.

  2. Well, as of right now, I have 5/6 slots filled for Saturday and 2/6 slots filled for Sunday, so I'm pretty sure I'll be OK for players. Not bad for word-of-mouth advertising. :D

  3. We want details on how the con sessions went!

  4. how did it go? clothing optional dwarves around the world want to know?

  5. Sorry about the delay in posting. That RL can suck sometimes. Everything went GREAT! I had a full 6 players on Saturday (married couple and two sets of teenage brothers) and they all did great. They managed to save the day without anyone, even the sacrificial NPC, dying. Sunday I had 4 old school players, who I warned that we were going to be more Monty Pyton than Excalibur that day, and everyone had a great time.

    I should point out that none of these players had played Pendragon before and I feel really good about making their first game enjoyable. Now I get to add a new player to the monthly group and fight Arthur's first war this weekend. A fun month. ;)

  6. Man, it really sucks that Val and I couldn't attend - I've been wanting (well, okay, VAL AND I have been wanting) to try the game out because it looked so interesting in the brief time we had to glance over the book you brought in.

    It's excellent that the events you ran went well though, congratulations!