I organised a small RPG House Con! I say small, but our house was about ready to burst with four games running at the same time. About twenty of our friends, coworkers and RPGgeeks showed up to play.
- Richard ran a game of Nobilis for a full table of six people. They placed concepts like Light and Travel and got to be very creative with their influences.
- Jan ran Apocalypse World. He was very happy with the game and so were his players. It’s not easy to keep AW confined to a four hour slot and still spin a rounded story, and this was his first time no-prep GM’ing! He was super pumped the rest of the day.
- Elina ran a game of Penny for my Thoughts. She went all the way and had transformed the attic into a therapy room, had Orpheus Institute accessories, even sugar pills for them to ingest in the game! It turned out very dark and angsty, but all the players were up for that.
- Sven ran a fully improvised game of modern day Kult for a small group of three players. Sven is one of our regular GM’s so I knew this would be great.
- Tâm ran a game of Daughters of Exile (a gamechef game) about a breeding facility for Stepford Wives. Players were three women and “one brave man”. Many excited stories about this game afterwards!
- Linus ran a game of Game of Thrones (in the Buffy Heroic system, I think) in which Jaime Lannister got trounced! Poor Jaime.
- I ran Monster of the Week in slot I, and Lady Blackbird in slot II – but I’ll talk more about those games in separate posts.
Out of eight games, two were scenario based, the others were narrative/improv games. Only one of those games was run in Dutch (our native language), all the others in English. We had a very international group with German, Finnish, English, Greek and Austrian people in attendance. Living in a university town will do that!
Running a house con
I had some secret goals for this house con:
- Encouraging our insular rpg groups to mix. RPG groups can get very incestuous. Theoretically you only need one group to tell all of your stories but there are tangible positive effects to mixing it up a bit!
- Giving lone gamers a chance to play and find/meet other gamers so they can form new groups, have the occasional one-off, play online, etc.
- Introducing new people to the hobby. Again, the insular rpg scene can make it very hard for new players to get their first rpg experiences
- Introducing ‘traditional gamers’ (for lack of a better term) to story games, because story games are awesome!
All of those made me motivated enough to organise a house con. This is how we set it up:
Game locations: Each game had their own room: the living room, the computer room, even the attic and the garden were used to house groups. The attic worked out especially well: the space allowed for semi-LARP play, the immersive, angsty games had a good home there. The big table in the living room was well suited for more action oriented six player games. The couch in the computer room for smaller parties. The garden was the trickiest with 32° temperatures during the day, and rain in the evening. But thanks to our friends’ party tent we made it work. I was also very happy with our sound insulation: hardly any noise pollution from one game to the other.
The day schedule was fairly easy: one slot from 13 to 17, a food break from 17 tot 19 with pizza delivery, and then a second slot from 19 to 23. Hardly any games ran late, and the two hour break wasn’t overly long. People used the time to get to know the strangers they’d just been gaming with. I’ve never seem such intermingling at any regular party. Playing a game together sure is a great icebreaker. This made it feel like a real con.
Game picking and wrangling: We’d printed out schedules of who played what where, so that people could’ mostly wrangle themselves. Signing up was done simply by just letting people pick the games they would play in, which made for uneven groups. I had to ask two people to switch games to make sure we had full tables. I don’t think they ended up regretting it (but I do think I owe Wim an invitation for Lady Blackbird now). Next time we plan to ask people their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th choice of game so we can populate games ourselves and hopefully make even groups more easily that way.
All GM’s ran one game so they could sit back and play in the other slot. All except me! We had slightly more slots than GM’s so I took the dirty job myself. That, in addition to organizing the whole thing, was not undo-able but I will try to avoid it in future. I also found out late that more people could and would have run games if I had asked them beforehand. So I will do so next time.
There will definitely be a Kessel Run II (named such because we live in a suburb called Kessel-lo). Next time will be somewhere in autumn, so we’ll only be able to offer three tables. This means it’ll be a limited event and people who want to come might not be able to. First signups for the people who couldn’t make it last time seem fair, then.
Everyone had fun. Hopefully the people that are still looking for groups can now get together with the people they met and have some gaming fun together. As for me, I had a lot of fun! But I couldn’t get to sleep afterwards. Organizing events is no great love of mine, and especially a successful event will produce enough adrenaline and stress to keep me up all night. So that’s why I wrote this report at 4 am :)