Another successful Phoenix Comicon has come and gone here in the Valley of the Sun. Ben gives everyone an inside look on what it takes to put on a game for the masses.
To tackle a con, it takes a group effort. There were ten of us – each with a special role (writer, designer, art director, terrain maker, play tester, etc). Everybody had a job and we continually pushed each other to stay on task.
Our theme and base storyline kick off the process. We always agree on our setting (woodland, dungeon, city, etc) and premise (rescue, assassination, recovery, etc) first so that other members of the team can begin their pieces. Ark of Souls was dungeon-based.
Once that’s settled, the artistic wizards of the group begin work on the map. It’s real a labor of love. Several of us even hang them in our offices after the con.
Each story purposefully starts out on the lengthy side. Then, for what seems like an eternity, we repeatedly whittle it down until the adventure fits all snug in a 60-minute timeline (excluding the introduction and the ending skill challenge). Writing in an outline format has always served our tag team writing efforts best. As an aside, Ben got a cool story worksheet from Con organizers.
Ben’s personal fav, the game table and terrain, typically draw the biggest ohs and ahs from the crowd. A 3-D game board made primarily of Hirst Arts and Dwarven Forge pieces really entices people to sit down and play. Casting, gluing and painting all the pieces often has a Trail of Tears feel to it but we persevere. And of course, a few unique creations have to be made including a gong, crumbled terrain pile, vine walls, throne, well trap, and ooze-traveled floors.
A batch of simplified, double-sided character sheets are printed and cut. It’s always a nice touch to let the players keep them after the game.
Every Con game needs a winning group so we made another score sheet. This time we went for a more simplified version though.
And finally, there’s all those last-minute little things like packing everything up (plastic wrap is a savior), finding an easel for the map, picking a group meeting point, etc.
Everybody should volunteer to run a game at a Con at least once in your lifetime. It’s an amazing experience and very rewarding…you just need a good plan of attack.
Questions to Ponder: Which role would you play on the team? Have you done both sides of the RPG coin (DM vs. player)? Do you have a great plot for a Con delve?