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Narrative Control

Jan 15, 2009

Hi and welcome back to a “regular” version of Narrative Control.  This week Justin and I talk about preparing for convention games.  The first two thirds of the show covers creating a strong threat or plot and creating props.  The second portion begs the question, is preparation really necessary?

Hosts: Sean Nittner and Justin Evans

Length: 32:06

Show Notes
[00:27] Intro to the show – Preparing for Convention Games
[00:46] This Modern Death Promo
[01:35] Conventions coming up that we are excited about: DundraCon, Kubla Con and …. GEN CON!
[02:04] To run a good game we have to prepare, or do we?
[02:47] What experience you want to give your players at a convention.
[03:03] Teaching new players the game.  Important?
[03:31] Start with a central threat or plot that will engage all of the players (and their characters)
[04:00] Story shaped by system or system picked to fit a story?
[05:09] Generating characters that will have a common interest.
[06:18] Opening scenes used to introduce the story, the mechanics and excite the players.  Idea from Prime Time Adventures that shows start when something major has just changed.
[07:23] James Bond movies make a great format for con games.  Start with an opening vignette that shows the protagonists full of awesome and lead into the main story.
[08:08] Gnome Spy Games:  Gnome Impossible!, Dr. Gnome and Gnomes Like Us.
[08:45] Many conventions games spoof popular media. Win or Fail?
[09:55] Win! Gathers interest, sets expectations and creates familiarity.
[10:27] Fail. Players might not take the game seriously.
[11:37] Props!  Justin and I both love them.
[11:53] Definitions: Props are anything you physically provide for the players, including dice, character sheets, nourishment, your appearance, etc.
[13:05] Character sheets.  Make them evoke the feel of the game as well as provide easy access to relevant game statistics.
[14:50] Props can eat up a lot of time, hopefully not a lot of money.
[15:38] Examples of cheap props.  Tape cassette character sheets.
[16:58] Call of Cthulu published adventures came with props included.
[17:45] My experience with “One Ring” regarding props.
[18:20] Backfired for Justin, players hording props.
[18:46] Props that can’t be hidden! Daggers, Amulets, etc.
[19:59] Some other cheap and easy props.   Templates in Microsoft Word (faxes, form letters, resumes, etc)
[20:16] Paper props for Fantasy Games.  Making them yourself?
[21:14] Some resources: Gamer the Podcasting and Ronin Arts.
[22:18] Wear your props! Another cheap creation I used for My Life with Joker.
[23:39] Build to your strengths. Make props that are fun for you to create.
[24:00] High Tech: Justin’s pseudo-CDC website for the characters.
[24:40] Is any of this preparation necessary?
[24:58] Some pickup games are really designed to be played on the fly.  Example of Spirit of the Century.
[26:06] Pickup plots guarantee that they are character driven.
[26:27] Different genre’s.  What about pickup horror?
[27:57] In pickup games, it is important to have the players invest in the creation.  Creating characters and feeding ideas to the GM is part of the fun!
[29:16] Setting expectations before the game starts, helps people play to the strengths of that genre.
[30:04] Dogs in the Vineyard.  A game that works well as a pickup, specifically because of the early introduction to the system and setting.

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