Thursday, April 12, 2007

Prepping for Lorecon

Tomorrow is Lorecon's first day. My slot GMing is Saturday morning, but once the con starts, it'll be too late to do any prep for it. I decided not to start the prep until this week, and I've found the adventure needs a bit more prep than I expected, so I'm a little hurried, but not too bad.

First, there's a lot of people and it's hard to keep them straight. The adventure could be better organized with more reference materials; I have to make the same cheat-sheet of NPCs that probably everyone who's ever run it has had to make, so why not include it in the adventure?

Also, its very non-linear plotline makes it hard to time to fit the slot. The trick of running a game at a con successfully is timing. You've got four hours and, of all the factors in your control, the single factor that will make the most impact on whether the players come away satisfied is whether the adventure concludes at 3 hours and 50 minutes in, or not. An adventure that ends too early is all right, but non-optimal; but an adventure that simply runs out of time (very, very common at cons) always comes off a lot worse for it.

To make your adventure fit a slot, use these two tricks.
  1. Figure out where in the adventure's story you should be at the quarter, halfway, and three-quarters points. Figure out what time that will be. When the game is running, if you're running behind, hurry the plot by dropping clues on the characters, or leaving out encounters or complications. If you're running ahead, make things take longer or throw in extra encounters.

  2. Write an adventure with several endings. That is, write it with one ending in mind, then figure out how some twist could make that not quite the ending, and put a few clues in pointing at that, and then write a second ending. Then if you're running behind, the earlier ending can be a satisfying conclusion and the remaining dangling threads will just be forgotten.
This adventure doesn't really lend itself to that. That's what I get for using a prefab, and at someone else's recommendation, but I am sure I can make it work. It'll just take a little more time, for me to work out a few extra complications I can throw in or take out as needed. Which is where I get stuck; I'm not sure if I'll have that time.

Now the good news. Columbia Games, having forgotten about me, decided to make it up to me by sending quite a generous packet. In addition to $5-off coupons and catalogs for everyone, I got two copies of HârnPlayer, second edition, which they're probably trying to get rid of since they have a third edition out now, but they're still great handouts and will be useful at the game. Plus a copy of Kanday, which will not only be useful for me in GMing but will be a nice perk for me. Plus a copy of the adventure, which I plan to also give out at the con. Very likely everyone who isn't already in my group will get a free book for attending, plus the coupon. Pretty nice haul.

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