Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The View from RuchtCon II - Part 1

So, one reason I haven't been posting in a while was because I was getting ready for a big event - RuchtCon II! Basically, it's a gaming convention that my friends and I throw out of our own homes.

Staging a Gaming Convention Out of Your Home

I was going to just write a post about our latest local gaming convention. But instead, I thought I might share the love and hopefully inspire others to do the same. Yes, indeed, I'm talking about running a gaming convention right out of your own home.

If you already have a gaming group, then this will work. Because all you need is enough people who can sign up to game with you for the weekend. Yes, it's the whole weekend, but hey - it's only once in a blue moon that this will be happening.

The idea is that you and your friends get together and run a series of one-shots. Just like a regular gaming convention. If you limit each one-shot to four hours, then you can run one session on Friday, two to three on Saturday, and perhaps one on Sunday. (I don't recommend trying to pack in more than one on Sunday.)

That means that, at maximum, you might get to game for a solid twenty hours straight over the weekend, pausing only to eat and swig down some Mountain Dew.

So This Isn't New to You?
If you are already familiar with gaming conventions, then this idea shouldn't seem that foreign to you. Usually, a small gaming convention might have a schedule that looks like the lovely flyer above, or something like I have below:

7:00 pm to 11:00 pm - Session 1
9:00 am to 1:00 pm - Session 2
(Lunch Break)
2:00 pm to 6:00 pm - Session 3
(Dinner Break)
8:00 pm to 12:00 am - Session 4
12:00 pm to 4:00 pm - Session 5

If you are new to this, the way it would work would be on Friday, you would run a four-hour session of a game you want to run. Then, on Saturday morning, you'd run another four-hour session of either the same game or a different game. If someone else wanted to run, they could do that as well. If you have enough GMs and players, multiple sessions can be run parallel to one another, just as you see in the flyer.

Looking at all of this, at maximum you might be able to actually play five different games within the same weekend. Though usually for us, three to four is enough. I love this for being able to experience new game systems, try out crazy ideas, and just have fun.

Another way to look at this is a method of getting in a mini-campaign all in the span of a weekend. Let's say that you used to game with some buddies of yours back in the day, but you all moved away. Well, get together on just one weekend and run a mini-campaign made up of three to five chapters - each session being a chapter.

Getting Real
Now, the small sample schedule I posted above would be for the truly hardcore. The people who really, really want to get the most out of their gaming. The flyer at the top is a far more realistic outline, in my opinion.

A tight schedule does not allow anyone to socialize or just reflect on the different games being run. Two sessions on Saturday with a long lunch break lets people sleep in late and in the interim time, everyone can socialize and even get in a boardgame or two.

I find that four hours is the magic number as far as how long a game should run. Five hours makes it difficult to schedule and still have proper break time between the sessions. With four hours, you figure about half and hour for everyone to get acquainted with the game they are about to play and for the GM to explain the setting to them, if need be. At the back end of the session, there should be about fifteen minutes or so for denouement and reflection on the game.

That gives you a little over three hours of game time to run something that has about three, one-hour acts.

I'll write up how are convention went in my next post!


  1. So...yeah, I haven't checked up on this blog in a while... ...Anyway...

    I completely love this whole idea. It had never occurred to me until the General mentioned wanting to try it a few years ago - and I think my reaction was "That's.....BRILLIANT!". This endeavor works especially well if you have more gaming friends (or *potential* gaming friends) than can reasonably be accommodated within a single group. It's a way you can get together and hang out with all of them and still keep the groups reasonably small and manageable.

    Another reason I personally find this worthwhile is that doing something like this generates a certain amount of energy and excitement about the hobby which can sometimes decline within the structures of a normal schedule that must revolve around the rest of life. Making the effort to dedicate a sizable chunk of time to something you really enjoy can be revitalizing.

    It's also worth considering carefully how you will choose what events will happen and when - which is not necessarily as easy or simple as it sounds. You want to make sure everyone has a voice in the decision-making process (at least parts of it), but there also have to be some concessions and compromise. This is something you'll probably have to develop based on the needs of your participants. I'll let the General elaborate on the process he uses if desired...

    As a final thought, as the General said, when planning the schedule, increased buffer time == good. Since this is most likely a group of friends or acquaintances, socializing is *going* to happen (and it *should* happen) at this thing - you'll do yourself a favor by planning for it.


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  3. hehehe . . . years ago I attended a small gaming con in NJ called HouseCon which was literally run out of someone's house. He set up a gaming table in the kitchen, another in the dining room and one on the enclosed porch then opened his home up to the public for a day of gaming (3 slots, 3 tables per slot). It was actually a lot of fun but required someone to host a house full of strangers.