When originally planning our GenCon trip, I thought I wouldn’t sign up to run any official games, and instead just try and organize some pick-up games when I felt like it. However, I saw that Dan Proctor put out a call for folks to run Labyrinth Lord at GenCon, so I signed up to run one officially. Good thing I did, as I never did make it over to the open gaming area. I have no idea how difficult it would have been to run something off the cuff vs. officially signed up.
All 8 tickets sold out right away, and I had 7 of them show up. The one guy who couldn’t make it sent his ticket with his friends in case someone else wanted it. I had one player who said that he knew a couple people that wanted to get into the game if there was open space that he could call, but he didn’t think just one of them would want to come by himself. It was pretty nice to feel so in demand.
The game I ran is called “Come What May”, and is billed as a “sandbox style” game. Basically there are a bunch of threads and it’s up to the players to decide what direction to go. I have some very adaptable bits of background that I can twist and change as needed to try and give the end of the game a decisive feeling ending. The last time I ran this I gave the players cards with elements to work into their characters to try and make them care about some of the many plot hooks. Then I threw them into the tavern where they could uncover info and decide what to follow up on. This worked in some cases, not in others, and ultimately the players floundered a bit at first. So this time instead I started outside of the town and hit them with a combat right off the bat on their way to town, so they could gel as a team before thinking about what leads to follow. I skipped the background cards and just described all the tavern occupants in great detail when the players entered and made sure that all the NPCs were very talkative.
It more or less worked. This group spent a bunch of time in the tavern talking to different people and picking up pretty much every lead possible, then half of them got impatient and they headed out to the area that simply sounded “the most exciting”, namely a mysterious tower that appeared a few weeks ago on a nearby hillside. This got them into some good exploration and combat areas and finally led them to rescuing a missing girl, which is where we ended. It was definitely not as nicely tied up at the end as the first time I ran it, but the players seemed to enjoy it, and at least one even suggested we all reconvene the following night to finish it out.
Interestingly, when I talk to other folks that played this game, the thing they remember is the tower. They also ended their game there, but only after exploring some other avenues first. It is most certainly the strangest and thus probably the most exciting sounding area. While other stuff including bandits and slavers exists, the tower contains the most fantasy elements. I can’t help but feel that perhaps I’m making things too complicated with this module. Perhaps I should have the adventure just start with “a mysterious tower appeared in the area at the same time a girl went missing, and you have entered it to discover if the two are related,” then double the size of the tower, add a lot more stuff to it, and let the party have at it. I think I’ll have to come back to this after I finish all my GenCon blog posts, as there are two other experiences I had that tie into this.
Oh yeah, one other interesting tidbit — of the seven players we had one cleric, one magic-user, and no elves or thieves. So pretty much everyone else was a fighter, halfling, or dwarf, which amounts to a lot of fighters really. For all my griping about thieves, it was really kind of interesting playing without them. Honestly, I’m not sure I noticed the loss. The party made a very straight forward assault on the tower, which suits a group of mostly warriors, and I think it worked just fine for them. So yeah, I think I could probably ditch thieves and not worry too much about it.
Ultimately, I think the game was a success. I will certainly run more of this kind of thing in the future. I’m very interested in honing my convention game writing and DMing skills. I’ll have to start looking into when the next local con where I can run some stuff.