Last year I wrote a series of articles on my experiences from Gen Con 2007 and 2008, focusing on my prepping to be a GM. This year was a bit different, as I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to go so I made no GMing plans.
That left me with a lot of time to play, so play I did! While I had a lot of fun, there were a few negatives that stood out from a player’s perspective.
1. If you advertise an event as “Experience required: none” and “Yes, materials are provided” then I don’t expect to need to know the system, bring my own character, or waste everyone else’s time to generate one. Also, spend some time going over the main rule mechanics before play.
2. Building on the above, if I should bring a new character to the event then it should be mentioned in the event description.
3. Just because the latest edition of a game is being released doesn’t mean that you need to update your event with the new rules, especially if you have to do it in your hotel room the night before (and perhaps causing unintended problems). I really don’t mind playing the previous edition.
4. Never let a GM-PC take care of a threat, especially if it looks like it was scripted to happen that way.
5. Don’t be snarky about my “mispronunciation” of a word unless you’re sure that you aren’t the one pronouncing it wrong. Similarly, don’t correct and lecture me on an aspect of the setting unless you’re sure that you are correct, especially if the setting book is sitting at the table.
6. Playtest your adventure before the Con. It’ll save lots of aggravation later, when you discover that a scene doesn’t work or a PC is sidelined through most of the adventure.
7. Make sure that your group size is manageable. Sure, letting 8-9 people play in a 6 person event helps the 2 or 3 extra players, but it may also compromise the flow of the event.
8. Don’t say that the system is in the background and that most of the game is about roleplaying if all you plan to do is read boxed text and adjudicate combats.
9. If your system offers rewards (drama points, action dice, etc) for roleplay, make sure that you hand out those awards when warranted.
Having been there myself, I appreciate the time and effort an event GM puts into it. Still, it’s things like the above that can turn a positive experience into a negative one and, if you’re acting as an ambassador to a system or campaign, you can inadvertantly turn off potential recruits.
All in all, GenCon 2009 was awesome. I look forward to 2010!