How to Successfully Have RPGs at Your Convention

So you’d like people to run some roleplaying games (RPGs) at your convention (con).  We’re assuming for the moment that you’re not running a RPG con itself; this is not a primer for that kind of situation, and if you are running a RPG con then my advice here is simply to go find somebody with experience and have him or her run the whole thing. You can be the assistant taking notes. Lots and lots of notes.

But if you’re running any other sort of science fiction, fantasy, and/or horror con, and you figure that having some RPGs on the program is a good idea… well, yes, it is. But, like anything else, prior preparation produces pleasant [insert word meaning ‘results’ that starts with ‘P’]. Get a few things right at the start and you’ll have a happier time of it.

First off, decide which RPGs are appropriate for your con, and which ones are not.  If you’re running, say, an anime con, it’s perfectly reasonable to require that all games being run have an anime ‘theme’ to them.  Or you might decide that having a live-action roleplaying game (LARP) going on at your con is too disruptive, whether or not somebody is willing to run one. Or you could simply decide that (Hey, watch me commit heresy!) there are going to be enough kids running around that you don’t want to have any game running that’s too visibly in-your-face ‘adult.’ The overarching point is this: it’s nice when people volunteer to do stuff for you, but you’re not actually obligated to accept their help. It really is all right to say “No, thank you.”

Moving on from that bout of acute crippling social awkwardness… put RPGs on your space and time programming budgets from the very start. Don’t shoehorn them in at the last second; that inevitably leads to what the philosopher called ‘confusion and delay.’ If there’s not going to be enough space/time available, then considering reducing or even eliminating your RPG programming. Or, of course, giving RPG programming more space/time, but that’s a fraught decision when it comes to any events with limited budgets.