Why volunteer to run something? You’re going to a convention and want there to be good games on that you want to play, but somehow there never seems to be what you want. The solution is to pick up the gauntlet and run it yourself. If you expose other people to your New Favourite Game, the chances are more people will buy it, play it and run it and by extension, there’s more chance it will appear at a convention somewhere near you. If delegates don’t volunteer to run things, its going to be a pretty shoddy convention… but how do you know what to run?
Well the first hard truth is that no matter what you pick, there’s a good chance that you might not get any sign ups. I’ve had this. I lovingly crafted a scenario, had all the characters done, handouts beautiful and laminated, but in the end I was forced to play in a shoddily presented and executed GURPs game, because I didn’t get any sign-ups and the guy running that did. Suck it up. Its nothing personal a lot of the time – or it might be that someone’s running something very similar at the same time, or one of a host of reasons, but don’t be put off completely if your first game doesn’t get to run. Quite often its nothing sinister or fundamentally wrong about you or the game you’ve chosen, so take it on the chin, sometimes these things happen. Much more often you’ll get some people willing to take a punt on your choice.
The next criteria would be run something that you’re comfortable with. Preferably system *and* setting. If you go with something you’ve got down pat, its going to give you one less thing to worry about. Similarly, it helps if you’ve got the scenario well rehearsed as well (unless you’ve taken one of them there hippy games were the story develops as you go along by spending tokens or something). Obviously be aware that the more niche your game is, the less like you’ve got a large base of people that have heard of it and might like to try it. On the plus side, you’re more likely to get open minded players who want to try something different, than if you were running a hardcore 4e published adventure for example.
You can always canvas opinion on bulletin boards, forums or other communication points before the con, but remember that only the most vocal and internet enabled 10% with have a look at this and respond. There’s big pool of players that don’t bother with all that shizzle and turn up on the day to see what’s available, so don’t be disheartened if no-one on the boards starts skipping for joy at the mere mention of your nWoD/Toon crossover. Those sorts of places can be a good starter for ten though, if you’ve got past years to go on. Mine the old topics from the previous year and see what was hot and appreciated and what was less so.
Make your game accessible. Even if you have memorised all 50 Earthdawn books and can name all the Horrors in Barsaive, people new to the game don’t want to know it all in advance. Its easy to get carried away and froth about your favourite game or setting, but the best way of starting a game is making it easily accessible, adding details as you go. This doesn’t mean exclude loads or make the characters über simple necessarily, but just be wary when you’re picking what to run that the premise and buy-in required by new players (or even old hands used to their own game), should be appropriate to a one shot.
First and foremost people want a good game. Sure, they may want a tour of the system, to know more about the game world, to see what’s different, how particular things are handled using these mechanics or whatever, but ultimately they want to have fun and be entertained. Keep that in mind when you pick your game. I’ve tried to be clever several times – sometime its worked, sometimes it hasn’t – but the common denominator in all those sessions is they’ve been harder work for me to organise and/or run. Pick a game you can run smoothly, or look at what mechanics or plot elements you’re going to use and think how much hard work you’re putting yourself in for.
e.g. At Furnace last year I ran Trinity. It was a decent session and we had fun, but trying to juggle five powerz per player and then all the baddies shenanigans, plus all the extra fiddly options, bells and whistles that Trinity uses on top of your common or garden WoD games… ultimately meant I spent a lot of the session juggling plates and number crunching in my head, rather than thinking of cool things the NPCs might say, or adding to description or whatever else. In contrast I also ran some Savage, which essentially (for me) run itself. In that game I didn’t have to think about the rules or the setting at all (as I’d picked Pirates, everyone knows Pirates) – so I had much more fun with it and the session was a lot easier for me.
There’s no harm in trying to stretch yourself, but for starters:
- Pick something you *know*
- If its something niche, think of a really good pitch for it to advertise your game in advance and on the sign up boards
- Work out if you can introduce new people to it quickly, so they’ll get some flavour, without having to suffer loads of waffle or handouts
- Select something you enjoy – you’re going to have fun too, not just provide a service.
- Don’t be put off by a poor showing, there’s lots of reasons players didn’t sign. I’ve heard or seen them all.