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Potential KapCon GM Workshop
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Dan



Joined: 11 Mar 2006
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Location: Wellington (now)

PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:03 pm    Post subject: Potential KapCon GM Workshop Reply with quote

I have been thinking about this idea of enticing GMs to run games at Kapcon over the last couple of days as I felt that the mad rush in the last couple of weeks is not the best way to go about it...

Basically, a workshop beforehand I think is a good idea, but I'm not all that sure how well attended it would be. While there are many newbies GMing every year at Kapcon, the numbers of new GMs I would figure only generally falls into the almost 20... (although new games would be alot more)

I would also like to seriously think about what this workshop would be intended to do. If it was to entice GMs to run games at Kapcon, then the workshop wouldn't necessaryily be focused on the quality of the games - but rather to give confidence and motivation for the prospective GMs to put their hand up and get involved.

I'm sure there is a wealth of information from the "Grizzled Vets" out there, but again I want to ask some questions of the whole community before I think too hard on what a workshop should and was able to do for prospective GMs - and more importantly - for the Kapcon organisation.

Here we go -

1. We all plan in different ways, and at different times. But what time during your planning process would you most benefit from advice or direction - to simplify the answers
a) Before you have started thinking about what to run
b) Before you have started "putting on paper" your game
c) Post editing but before the playtest
d) After the playtest

2. What do you think are the barriers for "new" GMs to run games at Kapcon?

3. What do you think are the benefits for a new GM to run a game at Kapcon?

4. What skills do you think a GM needs to have, independent of system knowledge to run a game at Kapcon?

5. What format would you think a workshop would be most beneficial to you?
a) One on one with an experienced GM (mentoring)
b) Round table discussion with a couple of GMs
c) Targetted sessions on a challenge in GMing at Kapcon (ie a session on Blurbs etc)
d) Combinations of the above, or other

6. After the workshop, do you think it would be beneficial to have regular contact with the "Grizzled Vets", and in what form do you think it should take?

7. Would you pay for the workshop?

8. Would you be prepared to share your expertise to newer GMs?

9. Would it be preferable, as a "Grizzled Vet" for the new GMs to come prepared with an idea of what they want to run, and a basic outline of how it should look? or are you okay to go with a clean canvas?

10. Finally, what would you want to take away from attending a workshop on GMing?
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Last edited by Dan on Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mashugenah
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Split because this seems like a new thing. It also seems pretty important to me, so I think it'd be best if it weren't buried in a much longer and diffuse thread.
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Dan



Joined: 11 Mar 2006
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Location: Wellington (now)

PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Mash, I just edited question 9 a little bit to be clearer (and spelt betters) Smile
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Liam



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally I would have three agenda items here. The first would be to run my game for a group of people who know and like the genre and can give me ideas to improve my game. ie the play test. Second is a group of people that I can bounce ideas off for the development of my game ie the mentor, both of which would help me with my interest in getting scenarios published as well. Finally I run so many games at Kapcon now and there are so many good sounding games I would like the chance to playtest other peoples games that I would not normally get the chance to play.
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sophmelc



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Liam wrote:
Personally I would have three agenda items here. The first would be to run my game for a group of people who know and like the genre and can give me ideas to improve my game. ie the play test. Second is a group of people that I can bounce ideas off for the development of my game ie the mentor, both of which would help me with my interest in getting scenarios published as well. Finally I run so many games at Kapcon now and there are so many good sounding games I would like the chance to playtest other peoples games that I would not normally get the chance to play.


I second this, on all counts.
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Dan



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm let me take this in parts.

Firstly
Quote:
The first would be to run my game for a group of people who know and like the genre and can give me ideas to improve my game. ie the play test.

and
Quote:
Finally I run so many games at Kapcon now and there are so many good sounding games I would like the chance to playtest other peoples games that I would not normally get the chance to play.


Sounds like you want another 'con just to play the games you missed this time round. With the objective of a workshop to promote new GMs, this unfortunately misses the point. While the workshop may be a chance to meet (and thus arrange) playtests, I dont think it would be beneficial to new GMs to end up in a workshop which is essentially a second kapcon.

Also, should the workshop facilitate playtests, won't we just have the same problem of new GMs not getting the support they need to feel confident in running a game? as we would all attempt to get into the games we missed - it might just end up being the same old crowd of GMs & players playing games. (I've seen this sort of thing happen).

But
Quote:
Second is a group of people that I can bounce ideas off for the development of my game ie the mentor, both of which would help me with my interest in getting scenarios published as well


Would be more of what the workshop could do to help those also interested in publishing.. I suppose an advanced class with a focus on what to do after Kapcon with your scenarios (also remember the SDC)...
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IdiotSavant



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Potential KapCon GM Workshop Reply with quote

Dan wrote:
1. We all plan in different ways, and at different times. But what time during your planning process would you most benefit from advice or direction - to simplify the answers
a) Before you have started thinking about what to run
b) Before you have started "putting on paper" your game


These two areas. So advice about scenario parameters (3 hours being the most obvious one), ways of meeting them (have a way of ending things if they are dragging on), and expectations (you will need whatever notes you need to run the game, but players will probably need character sheets and any handouts or props).

I find the biggest problem is "what to run". Normally it requires at least one appointment with the Green Fairy to come up with a game idea, after which its a matter of grinding it out. But if people are stuck for ideas, my advice would be: look at what got run last year. Are there any gaps? Anything you like to run which people aren't running? Run that system or setting or genre. If you're stuck for ideas, take the intro adventure out of the back of the book, make up some characters with obvious hooks and potential for "interesting" interactions with the scenario and each other, and hack it to fit in three hours. That's what I'm doing this year. Alternatively, download an adventure from the net (there are plenty of sources) and do the same. Playtest it first to make sure it fits in three hours and that it doesn't suck. Problem solved.

If designing an original scenario, it might be worth thinking about common types - situation game vs tunnel of fun being two obvious ones.

Quote:
2. What do you think are the barriers for "new" GMs to run games at Kapcon?


Nerves. Nerves about running. Nerves about running for strangers. Nerves about running a crap game for your friends. Not much can be done about this, unfortunately, other than reminding people that we all (well, some of us, including me) feel this way, and if you playtest you'll iron out some of the problems and maybe feel a bit more relaxed about it.

There's also the intimidation factor: KapCon games have a reputation for quality, because so many people have good gaming experiences there. But remember, part of that is that the players have all brought their A game. You can rely on them to produce some of the fun.

Quote:
4. What skills do you think a GM needs to have, independent of system knowledge to run a game at Kapcon?


Blurb writing. Your blurb is how you sell your game, and how you attract players to your concept. A good blurb means you have a bunch of people around the table who all want to be there. A bad blurb means you may have people with the wrong idea of what the game is about.

The only advice I have here is be honest (insofar as is possible without giving away spoilers), and read lots of other blurbs to see how its done.

Quote:
7. Would you pay for the workshop?


No. But I believe in the volunteer economy.
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MikeSands



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:17 am    Post subject: Re: Potential KapCon GM Workshop Reply with quote

Dan wrote:
7. Would you pay for the workshop?


This seems to work directly against the goals of the exercise. The point is to encourage people to run games at Kapcon. Being asked for money is not encouraging.
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Liam



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dan wrote:
Hmmm let me take this in parts.

Sounds like you want another 'con just to play the games you missed this time round. With the objective of a workshop to promote new GMs, this unfortunately misses the point. While the workshop may be a chance to meet (and thus arrange) playtests, I dont think it would be beneficial to new GMs to end up in a workshop which is essentially a second kapcon.


That's not what I meant. I was thinking of a formal or informal mechanism, such as a contact list or discussion forum for people preparing for Kapcon to keep contact, get together and play test/discuss their games prior to Kapcon.

A discussion/workshop at some stage or two would also be of benefit where old and new GMs could discuss general techniques, game specifics etc as well as make contact. Maybe a half day or a day in Nov or somewhere like that.

We are not trying to create new GMs, we are trying to encourage a "home team" type GM or a player to become a con GM and giving them the confidence to run a game at Kapcon. In both cases they would likely be experienced role players so there wont be any need to build a GM from the ground up, just give them the skills needed for a Kapcon GM.

Thinking about other cons I have been to, Kapcon, in my opinion, expects quite a high standard in terms of the game experience and also requires a lot more tiime discipline given the very structured game program we have. This could be quite initimidating and generates additional worries about making sure the game experience is a good one and that the game runs to time.

A new Kapcon GM needs to be confident that they can run their game in the 3 hr time slot for a bunch of potential strangers and have the game well received . Those three points should be the aim of anything we do.

Liam
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MikeSands



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Liam wrote:
A new Kapcon GM needs to be confident that they can run their game in the 3 hr time slot for a bunch of potential strangers and have the game well received . Those three points should be the aim of anything we do.


This is me nodding in agreement with Liam.
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sophmelc



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MikeSands wrote:
Liam wrote:
A new Kapcon GM needs to be confident that they can run their game in the 3 hr time slot for a bunch of potential strangers and have the game well received . Those three points should be the aim of anything we do.


This is me nodding in agreement with Liam.


This is me also nodding in agreement with Liam.

Drawing on my own experience, the first year I went to KapCon is also the first year I ran a game. The reason I did it is other, who'd been before said it would be great to have more women GMs. I'd been running a campaign for 2 years at that stage, so I didn't see my self as a new GM. Just new to KapCon. I was also lucky enough to have a supportive game group who helped me play test, and have continued to do so.

But if it was happening again it would have been great to have something to go along to a couple of months before to just hear about what to expect, and get any tips needed. Basically just to know how supportive this community is, but that wasn't something I knew at the time.
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Luke
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:12 am    Post subject: Re: Potential KapCon GM Workshop Reply with quote

IdiotSavant wrote:
Alternatively, download an adventure from the net (there are plenty of sources) and do the same. Playtest it first to make sure it fits in three hours and that it doesn't suck. Problem solved.


I spent my first few years of running at Kapcon using scenarios found elsewhere and still do on occassion (though I hack more heavily these days).

I know Dale also uses published scenarios for great effect, allowing him to focus on running the scenario and modding it rather than creating it from scratch.

I find this approach helps take a lot of the effort out of the experience.
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Mashugenah
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
That's not what I meant. I was thinking of a formal or informal mechanism, such as a contact list or discussion forum for people preparing for Kapcon to keep contact, get together and play test/discuss their games prior to Kapcon.


Luke set up one of these a couple of years ago, focusing on the SDC, but it had almost zero traffic. Contact e-mail lists, in my diverse experience, are just about the least effective way of doing things. (They're great for getting information out into the wilderness, but they're terrible if you want to actually get something done as a result of that information.)
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Liam



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't mind volunteering to build some support stuctures around GMs for the next Kapcon. I'll set up some sort of sign in register for those that are interested at the Kapcon admin desk and go from there if everyone is happy with that?

Liam
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IdiotSavant



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
2. What do you think are the barriers for "new" GMs to run games at Kapcon?


Having re-read my post, I'm worried that the emphasis on playtesting is a barrier - it makes it seem like work, and increase the amount of lead-time to get your game sorted.

You don't have to playtest. Some of the best games I've run haven't been playtested (PX Poker Night?). The worst game I've run - ED-101 - was playtested, and it didn't save it. That said, playtesting does help a lot. Playtesting will find the flaw in your plot, let you get used to the adventure, let you see how it works in play.

So, do it if you have the time. But you can get by without it if you're squeezed.
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