Monday, August 10, 2015

The Endless Dungeon - GENCON

The RPG Blog Carnival has put out the theme this month of GENCON and convention-ing. No Board Enterprises blog post about GENCON can ignore the Endless Dungeon.

When we debuted Legend Quest at GENCON, we wanted to run as many demos as we could, but that doesn’t really work in a single booth. Besides, I got the teaching time on the game down to about 30 minutes, and people in the exhibitor hall rarely want to stay still for that long. (I got it down to 25 by the end of that weekend, but still...) So here was my big idea: The Endless Dungeon. We were going to run a single dungeon style adventure for the 60 hours of the convention. No, we weren’t going to run the demo 15 times, we were going to run one continuous adventure for 60 hours. Play as often as you wanted, but if you left and came back for a later slot, someone else may have killed the character you were playing, or something worse.

Expecting that characters would die, there were a bunch of places along the way where the party would have the opportunity to rescue folks who would join up, so the composition of the party would change as the weekend went on. I had it all figured out. Yeah, except for the toll that game mastering for forty straight hours takes on you. OK, it wasn’t straight. It was 16 hours Thursday (with an hour break for dinner), 16 hours Friday (another one hour dinner break), and after 8 hours on Saturday, they pulled me out. I had eaten while running the game, but when my voice started to hurt, I decided to numb it with screwdrivers. We still argue over whether it was a violation of the MECCA rules to drink in the gaming room. I was discrete.

OK so I did take about a six hour break Saturday afternoon/evening, but I jumped back in to give it a good strong finish Saturday night, and I think I only took an hour on Sunday. (My back up GM was good, but not knowing the whole dungeon the way I did, he couldn’t adapt it to the number of players and time constraints the way I could.) The most memorable player? Yeah - part of the 25 minute tutorial was when I said, “You don’t have to do any math. The character sheets have everything worked out for you.” One of the players needed a calculator to subtract 9 from 14. Yeah - Had to add that one into the sales pitch from then on: “You don’t need a calculator to play this game, unless you are unable to subtract 9 from 14.”

So how bad was it? Not that bad actually. I needed to be in the booth, so that was bad. But I found the perfect person to run the booth when I wasn’t there (and then married her so I knew she’d stick around). Gaming halls are always loud and trying to be heard for a crew of 12-16 players in a hall like that is always tough. I probably should have paced myself better in the beginning (when things were more “normal” or along the lines of how it was written) so that I’d have more energy towards the end when it needed more off the cuff. Still - Board Enterprises published most of the Endless Dungeon as adventure modules. I have to admit that I think the first part - a simple adventurers vs. goblins piece published as Blood in the Slave Pits - is the best adventure mission I’ve ever written.

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