My Con GMing Experience: Boy, was I wrong....
Sarah asked me to write for a piece about GMing at conventions. This is a fantastic topic, and there are almost too many stories that come to mind when I think of the great experiences I've had.
However, one of my most memorable experiences was GMing Vampire the Masquerade (VtM) for a group of drunken fraternity boys who stumbled upon the small con in the city where I live. At the time, the only game being played at the con, aside from mine, was 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). While I was a big fan of D&D, I wanted to do something different and so I thought that it would be a great idea to run VtM.
...Boy was I wrong, no one showed up to my table, except two friends of mine who came to the con to show gaming solidarity.
So, when a group of three guys came up to my table I was overjoyed – I had players! Then I realized how they were standing, one leaning on another, one squinting at me, and the final guy just looking utterly confused. They had the musky smell that can only be attributed to the smoking room of a dive bar and one too many beers. These guys had no idea where they were, besides the fact that they were at a bar (that’s how small the convention was).
I thought to myself, “Oh God, here we go…” I rolled my eyes and told the guys they were in the wrong place. From what I remember the conversation went a little something like:
Frat boys (FB): Isssthissa bar isn’t it?
Me: Yes, but we’ve rented the space we are doing a gaming convention.
FB: I don’t see any, those, um consoles.
Me: (more eye rolling) Table top games. Role play.
FB: (Giggling) What is role play?
Me: You tell stories with your friends and roll dice.
FB: Coooooool! We want to join!
Me: (giving my girlfriends the please help me look) You can’t, you have to sign up.
FB1: Ohhhhh! Thatswaas the table at the front!
FB2: Okay we’ll go do that!
FB3: Beer! You ladies want a drink too?
As they proceeded to pull out their wallets, clumsily throwing money at our treasurer, I was silently slamming my head on the table. What was I going to do with these drunk assholes? I was a new DM, I did not need this shit. They were never going to accept the beautifully crafted, dark narrative I wanted to weave. My art, my words, were going to be drowned out by rowdy songs and burping!
I could not have been more wrong. The frat boys were lovely players- lovely, drunk players. I am sure, to this day, they still do not know how to make a character sheet and my friends and I had to very much help them (like big children) with how many dice they needed to throw etc. However, they got the soul of any rpg - sitting around a table with your friends (and new friends) and having a great time.
Due to their inebriation they were not afraid to role play, in fact they were not afraid to do most anything in the game. I had been horribly wrong and in fact I was being stuck-up in what I believed was my craft. I am so happy that those three lovely guys sat at my table that night and did not let me being unwelcoming stop them.
So, if you ever have someone sit down at your table, someone who you don't think fits your game, I hope you give them a chance. Because everyone deserves a chance to play the best hobby in the world.