I love playing RPGs at conventions.
It’s the whole experience – first looking forward to the event, meeting everyone, making new friends and finally – playing in well prepared and focused games, where everyone is as eager to play and feel as excited as I do.
Playing at a con is nothing like playing with a long standing group where everyone knows everyone very well and everyone has been playing together for ages. Expect the unexpected.
However, in my parts of the country the conventions are few and far between, and going to conventions further away is costly both in time and money.
I was pondering these problems when it struck me – I should host my very own minicon at home, and invite gaming friends, both those from my current groups and those from groups I had played with in the past. And everyone should bring a game they wanted to run. A potluck minicon of sort.
Three potluck minicons later
I have now hosted and arranged three potluck minicons, the first for a mere six participants, the last had 16 players and eleven scheduled events. And it has been a blast, hanging out with friends (and some friends of friends) and lots of that intense gaming I usually only see at conventions. I have run games, played in games, play tested games on new people – everything in the comfort of my own home.
If you think it sounds like a fun project and want to try it yourself, here is some advice on how to do it, or at least how I did it.
Google doc spreadsheet
The Google doc spreadsheet is awesome, I could not have done without it. Just share the document with everyone that has accepted your invitation. Collect the offered events in the spreadsheet. Make a list of the participants in the spreadsheet. Do sign up for games in the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is your friend.
Planning the minicon in a Google doc spreadsheet
Gather lots and lots of events
Let everyone who is coming offer to run a game or two. List the events in the spreadsheet. In the end you might have too many events, but that is better than having too few.
Ask participants who live nearby if they want to host games
I live in a small apartment, and only have one really good space to play, but we have spread out to the homes of other players who live nearby, and that way we got enough places that we could play three different games in parallel at times.
Have everyone sign up for slots first
First make an empty schedule with slots (we used 4 hour slots, but I think 5 hour will be better, so that is what we’ll use next time). Then let everyone mark which slots they’ll be able to attend. Then open sign up for individual games.
Make the schedule
When making the schedule compare the list list of games that people want to play in with the slots that they can make it to, and then do your best to make sure that everyone gets into as many of the games they requested as possible. Doing this manually is certainly feasible for this small scale of things. I’m sure that there is some neat software or clever algorithm for doing this, but I have done it by scheduling the games in order of popularity. While also making sure that everyone gets to play in at least one of their requested games. Since the goal of the whole minicon is to play games I have made it my first priority to schedule everyone into something every slot. By keeping that priority you can get more games going by filling up ‘unpopular’ events with players that already have played in one of their requested games, making even more players happy.
Anders from Nordnordost runs a game of Panty Explosion using his demo kit with pre-gen characters
Now invite your friends and make your own cool events, then tell me about them. I’d love to read about how you did it and what you played.