My Con GMing experience: My First time....

My First Time GMing at a Con

I don’t know if this story will surprise anyone or make me lose some sort of credibility, but I’m going to go ahead and tell it anyway… first time GMing a game at a convention was at the very first ConTessa. Which was also the first convention I’d ever run. I’m like that… I GM’d before I played games, too. Honestly, running ConTessa is what interested me in convention games all together. Prior to that, I was a bit too reserved to want to run a game for a bunch of strangers.

To make it more complex, I also chose to run my game, Precious Dark, before I’d even really written a whole lot down. Apparently, I like to do things the really hard way. I think it makes everything after that seem a lot easier. I had intended to get all the players alpha packets with the games rules in them, and make up some example-and-pregenerated characters for anyone who wanted them.

It took me way longer to take care of all the convention details on my own than I thought, so I ran out of time to do any of that. I ended up spending the first hour of that three-hour session explaining the rules and walking everyone through character generation while simultaneously printing out a random cave map and scribbling some notes on it about interesting things to find.

It went surprisingly well. To be sure, I was anxious the whole time and nervous that I’d made the game dull by not being prepared, but the players more than made up for anything I’d left out. They interacted with the world in ways I hadn’t possibly imagined, and that drove the entire adventure. I had a blast, and learned a lot about my game at the same time. I ended up running that same scenario for the same convention again the very next day, and it went even smoother. Both groups solved the problems laid before them completely differently, and it was exciting to watch people learn.

I highly recommend trying out some convention GMing at some point. Starting out virtually is a pretty good way to get used to the idea of running a game for strangers. That little bit of distance you get with the monitor can go a long way.