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Lessons from Iron GM?

June 6, 2011

I recently listened to Jennisode #40 about the Iron GM competition. It’s exactly the kind of thing I would’ve loved to compete in or help run when I was GMing D&D 3.5. It’s also the only current, popular, and GROWING roleplaying competition I’m aware of. I need to learn their secrets and apply them to the Team Event! From the episode, it sounds like there’s a lot of fanfare and excitement built up by the folks running it and we definitely want to do that for the Team Event. They had the advantage of starting on the large stage of Gencon and we need to start smaller and local – but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream big and think big!

For the first run of the game, we’re offering a prize of a WotC boxed set for the team to share and a $10 game store gift card for each player of the winning team (thanks to Petrie’s Family Games and WotC’s sponsorship of our local meetup group). I think that’s a pretty good haul for showing up and having fun for four hours – and for our first time. I don’t have any idea how to get sponsored for the kind of big prizes that Iron GM has to offer –  $12,500 at a recent regional convention! I know I can’t lean on my local game stores anywhere near that hard, so that means contacting game companies and asking them to sponsor us to run a game that they aren’t selling. Sounds crazy, but Iron GM is running the 3.5 SRD as their base system which no one is directly profiting from at this point, so it can be done. But I think it best to wait until I have some success (and photo/video evidence of it) with the game before I aim that high.

Right now I think I’m doing all I can to generate excitement before the event, but the Iron GM folks work hard to create an atmosphere at and surrounding the event. It sounds like their event is structured to have certain slow points where they’re waiting for results or for their GMs to finish prep and in those lulls they have quick group games and performances that make a lot of noise and keep people pumped. The Team Event is pretty tightly schedule as it stands now so the sideshows are probably out for us, but we need to keep an eye out for opportunities to interject some more fun and excitement. I think keeping the doors to room we’re playing in open at a convention would be smart (and hopefully the room won’t be out of the way). I’ve got advice in the game text about doing the big finale in a more public venue to attract attention – and you can bet I’m going to take my own advice! But after listening to the Iron GM folks, I’m thinking I need to get a bullhorn…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2011 10:47 am

    I loved that episode, too.

    I don’t know about the sponsorships. The guys who run Iron GM apparently had some experience and connection in that field ahead of time. Contacting game companies probably couldn’t hurt, though. I would definitely talk to Paizo. They’re large enough to be able to afford the marketing expense, and seem to have an attitude that you could work with.

    One thing you might look into is encouraging trash talk and hamming it up from the GMs themselves. Maybe even find some way to reward outrageous displays (like showing up in a luchador costume).

  2. June 10, 2011 9:25 am

    Good ideas! I’ve been trying to spark some rivalries and such online, but I’ll need to bring it to the event and ham it up as you suggest. Once it gets established, I do plan on awarding side-prizes for outrageousness and the like – probably through voting boxes, but maybe also an award the Refs can give out.

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