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The Challenge of Events

March 14, 2011

Having run a few big roleplaying events, the challenge is in getting a large number of players interested in playing. That’s hard enough for a regular convention game where you’re trying to get 4 to 6 players a slot – we’re looking for 20 to 40! First you have to know how to write a compelling blurb for the program book. For a large convention with good attendance that might be enough. Often it’s not (or it’s Sunday morning) and you get an empty table for your efforts. So you learn to promote your games through the community, talking them up on forums, mailing list, etc. Sometimes it helps to run games in popular systems (D&D, Cthulhu, Savage Worlds) or to have games themed around things like holidays or popular movies.

For bigger events like Interactives, LARPs, or roleplaying competitions where you hope to have 20 or more people for the event, the challenge increases significantly. When the Star Wars Living Force campaign was at it’s height, we ran an Interactive that was very well attended. Likewise for Living Greyhawk at the start. But we still promoted them and went all out on spectacle. The local roleplaying competitions have been very well attended in some years and nearly impossible to pull of in others – even though they were all D&D games with some of the best GMs in the community running them.

There’s also the matter of finding your community. For the Interactives the community was already there and the event was designed for them and their characters. For roleplaying competitions in the traditional RPG format, we had to build the community and keep it interested. I’ve watched in sympathy as a local gamer tried in vain to recruit for his Vampire LARP from among our table-top-focused Meetup group (if there’s a parlor LARP community in Colorado Springs, it’s hard to find). But then some games come along and discovery that the community is hungry for what they are offering – like Serial Pulp Adventures in Denver a few years ago.

So we’ve got our work cut out for us. Big event required, new system, neither a proper LARP nor a table-top game, not a traditional RPG, and no ready-made community to cater to. A challenge to be sure. The one thing I’m banking on is the thrill of competition. I’m doing my best to bring that out in the writing of the game; really sell the concept right from the start. At first, my mind was on the mechanics and the flow of the game. But thanks to some good feedback, I realized that we need to sell the experience first or no one is going to give it a chance. That was also a major factor in deciding to write this blog on a regular basis while we’re writing the Team Event and beyond. When people want to know more about this game (and hopefully they will) they can come here and read all about it!

But I do think the community for the Team Event event can or will exist when we get the game out there. This game is something very different in its scale, competitive nature, and economy and I’m excited by the challenge.

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