Bookwyrm 2016 – Games Run

Like I mentioned a couple of week ago in Bookwyrm 2016 – Games Played, Bookwyrm is a Fresno area Role Playing Game convention, hosted by the Fresno County Public Library. Last year, I had a fantastic time running a Fate Accelerated adventure I wrote, called Dr. Disco vs. The Agents of F.U.N.K. This year, I thought I would try and run two games, because it just makes sense that if you have a good time doing one thing that if you do two things, it will be twice as fun, right?

Deadlines Inspire Me

When you sign up to run a game Bookwyrm, you have to submit some basic information about the system you will use and a short summary that will hopefully be enticing to prospective players. What I’ve done for the past two years is to just make up something on the spot while I’m signing up, which forces me to have something ready in time for the convention. Here’s what I submitted last year:

Dr. Disco vs. The Agents of F.U.N.K.

Copies of disco superstar Leit Borov’s new single are selling like hotcakes, but is there more than meets the eye with the new disco demi-god in this FATE Accelerated adventure?

Game system: FATE Accelerated

I had no idea what I was going to do with this. I had no clue what the letters in F.U.N.K. actually represented. It didn’t matter. It ended up being a heck of a lot of fun, and I got so much positive feedback that I continued the adventure this year.

Agents of F.U.N.K.: We Are Big in Japan!

Hot in pursuit of the brilliant but deadly pop artist Freya Funkenstien, the Agents of F.U.N.K. strut their stuff on the deadly dance floors of downtown Tokyo. Will our heroes bring the boogie or will they be brought down by Freya’s fiendish Fembots?

GAME SYSTEM: FATE Accelerated

Once again, I had no idea how this would actually work, but I had a concept and a deadline.

Preparation is (Not) Important

Dice and paper miniaturesI spent a huge amount of time preparing for my other game submission, Saving Prester John, a time travel adventure using the Savage Worlds game system. I did historical research. I reread Phil Vecchione’s great book on game preparation, Never Unprepared, which suggests using templates to streamline session prep. In order to best make those templates, I purchased Scrivener, a software package designed for writers and people who to stay up late at night because they are worried about writing. I printed up special paper miniatures, and experimented with ways to provide essential information without a lot of GM talking. I created maps, handouts, and player characters based on historical figures. I spent many hours getting ready to run Saving Prester John.

I spent very little time getting ready for Agents of F.U.N.K. I did a little research on Japan in the 70’s and I made a few handouts that went along with a basic story outline I had in my head.

Lessons Learned

As expected, Agents of F.U.N.K. was a total blast. I had a great group of players. Some were old friends and some were new, but all of them brought fun with them to the table. Our four hours passed in a laughter filled blur of music and zany roleplaying. It was the highlight of the weekend for me.

Also as you may have anticipated, Saving Prester John was four long hours of me wishing I was at home in bed. Only one of my players who signed up to play actually showed up, and my other player who showed up at them last minute was not particularly enthusiastic. I was happy when it was finally over.

Obviously, spending a lot of time prepping for a game doesn’t guarantee a positive experience for you or your players. I still feel that preparation is important, but some kinds of preparation seemed to have more of an impact than others.

  • Know the setting if it impacts the game. Even the tiny amount of research that I did on 70’s Japan or Ethiopian history made a big difference in my ability to speak to what was happening in my games.
  • Little things make a big difference. I was able to provide players in both games with special chips that had the game logo imprinted on them. I know that sounds silly, but things like that add more to the game than you would expect.
  • Be very familiar with the rules. Nothing slows a game down like needing to look through a book to answer a question about the rules.

Luckily, I was able to play through my Saving Prester John adventure with a group of friends. That was a much better experience.

I will probably go back to running just one game at Bookwyrm 2017. I’m not sure if it will be another Agents of F.U.N.K. adventure, but whatever it is, I will spend just enough time getting ready for it.

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