19 August 2015

Back from MaricopaCon

I spent last weekend at MaricopaCon. Played 20 hours of games in two days, two board games, and four RPGs (I ran two), including Savage Worlds Lankhmar, Delta Green (about a cat that would not stay dead), Savage Worlds The Fog of War, a horror game set in France towards the end of World War One, and Savage World's The Derelict, a horror adventure on a mysterious space ship (which I reviewed here). I ran the Lankhmar and Derelict adventures. The Derelict turned out to be the best con adventure i have ever run, a tribute to their good writing.

I had a damn good time. It is refreshing to spend that time in a big room with fellow gaming enthusiasts. No drama, just gaming. 

Jason Youngdale keeping us in line.
The event has been put on for the last few years by Jason Youngdale, a gaming enthusiast who has financed the events through Kickstarter. The event tickets are basically pre-sales: either the event funds or it does not happen. It was held at the Mesa Convention Center in Mesa, Arizona. The facilities are basically a large gaming room. Unlike other cons, this one has no private rooms for the RPGs, which makes it a bit noisy for role-playing. You need to have a strong voice to run. It also has to wrap up the first night by midnight, so no all night Werewolf games.

There are other fun events: a cosplay contest, and a raffle. They had a music group this year in the entrance area, but I was too busy trying to find out why this cat would not stay dead to give a listen. To me, gaming is the reason for coming, and I am going to game game game. 

The big downside was our record heat wave here, which the facility's air conditioning could not keep up with. 

Arrow points to my wife.
I have been running con games for a few years, and have developed a philosophy of how to approach it.
  1. I keep the background fairly generic, so I can explain it in a minute or so. If it takes ten minutes to explain the universe, forget it.
  2. Start with action, explain later. The Derelict was perfect for this, as the character's wake up from cryo-sleep into a ongoing ship's disaster. I like the idea of hitting the ground and running.
  3. Have optional encounters if the game is running too short, and know what to cut if it is taking too long.
  4. Use a game system that is easy to teach. Savage Worlds is excellent for this. You might think Fate Core would be good, but it is difficult to get people to grok the concept of tagging and scene resolution.
  5. Have something for the action/combat lovers and something for the thinkers among your players. Since you have random players, you need to try and have something for each.
  6. Make sure you build pre-gen characters to have a niche in their abilities, and that there are opportunities to make each character have moments to shine.
  7. Keep the game moving by keeping the pressure on. You only have four hours to play. Get as much play in as you can.
Up next I may or may not be attending Rincon in Tuscan in October. I sadly will not be attending Gateway in L.A. over Labor Day, but should hit it next year (it is the best con I have ever attended, and crowded). Also, we have GenCon in mind in a few years. So, gaming is in my future!

Photos were stolen from the MaricopaCon Facebook page. 

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