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Old 07-20-2016, 08:50 AM   #11
Phil Masters
 
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Default Re: GURPS as a convention game

I seem to get reasonably positive results running Discworld games. But I seem to get reasonably positive results with a lot of settings. I have been doing this a while.

An Action-y game might work if you keep the combats quick and simple, actually, and that gives you an excuse to use wildcard skills, which can shorten the skills list. Horror isn't a bad option, either; you could have low-power accidental heroes who should be actively avoiding combat if they're sensible.

Oh, and the fourth edition Personnel Files books are all, whisper it, sets of demo characters from convention demo games.
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Old 07-20-2016, 09:08 AM   #12
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Default Re: GURPS as a convention game

Quote:
Originally Posted by thastygliax View Post
Stick strictly to basic rules. If it can't be built or resolved using GURPS Lite, it's probably more complicated than you want to include in a short con game meant to introduce new players to the system.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frost View Post
Consider this somewhat seconded, simplicity is going to be your friend taking lite as your starting point is probably essential. I think that you can get away with adding one or two additional elements providing you choose carefully magic for urban fantasy or pressure and gravity rules for a space scenario but pick one (or two closely related) complication and leave it at that.
I personally wouldn't stick just to lite, but I would agree that if you don't want to 'feature' it and it isn't in lite you don't need it. That said, I personally wouldn't call it much of gurps without a few things to 'feature'.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Masters View Post
Oh, and the fourth edition Personnel Files books are all, whisper it, sets of demo characters from convention demo games.
Wait, what? I've never heard of these books.
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Old 07-20-2016, 09:30 AM   #13
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Default Re: GURPS as a convention game

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Originally Posted by lachimba View Post
As an effort to do something that I can do to make GURPS more popular as opposed to something that SJ Games should do, I've decided I want to try running GURPS at a convention.

The recent big two gaming convention in Sydney had a ton of D&D, but not much else in the way of RPGs.

What do those with experience think would work best as a convention game?

I'd like to have the whole game done in less than five hours. Ideally about three would be great. So I'd ideally have characters made and take some short cuts.


Any other advice would be appreciated.
I've been doing this for a while (it's why I got into the MIB programme in fact).

Absolutely, have pre-gens. These days I tend to add a "cheat sheet" to the back explaining what each advantage and disadvantage does. Oddly, having a character photo can be surprisingly helpful in getting a handle on a character. Image search is your friend.

I take about five minutes to explain the system, pointing at things on the character sheet as examples ("I'll ask you to roll against a skill, as it might be Stealth; you roll 3d6, the lower the better, and tell me how much lower or higher you got"). I don't usually mention special combat rules until it's time to do it ("do you want to shoot now, or take a second to aim").

Combat generally isn't a big part of my games - convention or other. When they do happen, they're usually over in a few seconds, not the drawn-out slugfests of D&D and its spiritual kin.

Subject matter: I've been running a lot of historical/modern cosmic horror lately, since I've been writing scenarios for YSDC Games Days, but really anything that seems like fun and isn't done to death by other games ought to work. Let's see… for YSDC, WWII horror, modern deep sea horror, working on Falklands horror. I've also done investigative urban fantasy, interstellar murder mystery, steampunk airship action, 1960s psionics, 1600s pirates… my more successful games tend to be in real-world settings with a bit of a hidden-powers twist.
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Old 07-20-2016, 09:55 AM   #14
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Default Re: GURPS as a convention game

I'll say it again, as a system gurps is fantastic and I believe it is much more balanced than DnD though admittedly, I'm only familiar with 1st 2nd and 3rd edition.

But to brand new players, who've presumably played DnD since they are nerdy enough to be at a table top convention lol. They're gonna sit at a table and play a strange, less stream lined version of DnD that only uses
3D6. They won't have the time to appreciate GURPS awesomeness.

And unfortunately that's all they are gonna see, if your goal is to spread the popularity of this system. I'd stick with combat lite, to get the game going. But while you have them playing, emphasize the true strength of gurps.

What this system trades off in stream lined action it makes up for in super balanced and completely custom characters that can be truly unique. As well as completely custom and unique settings.

This could work if you had a way of contacting and pre-signing players up to meet you at the convention. Than the fun would be before hand as I would explain the campaign and ask each person to imagine a character and I translate that to gurps.

That's what I do to new players to get them excited, I say imagine a person, why are they on an adventure, what skills can they bring to a group, what is their method of combat etc etc
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Old 07-20-2016, 11:28 AM   #15
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Default Re: GURPS as a convention game

I haven't run GURPS at a convention, but I do have experience introducing new players to the system in short, con-game length sessions (including folks entirely new to RPGs).

For setting, I would say run what you're comfortable with, even if that's generic medieval ish fantasy. If you decide to run generic fanatasy, maybe try to show what GURPS can do that D&D doesn't, like maybe some stuff with status, allies, enemies, etc.

When I introduce new players, I emphasize two things: GURPS can do anything, and playing is straightforward (roll 3d6). I try to hide the fiddly bits. I hide most environmental skill modifiers, except for things super obvious in a scene. So, I might give a penalty for darkness, but not for attacking someone standing on a table. I don't explain anything about character points except that things that make you better cost character points, and things that make you worse give you character points.

For example, when I introduce new players to GURPS with fantasy, I always use verb/noun flexible magic from Thaumatology, especially with totally new players. It highlights flexibility, it's intuitive, and it's really different from D&D or video games. Sometimes I even totally ignore spell energy costs (if everyone plays a magic user).
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Old 07-20-2016, 01:41 PM   #16
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Default Re: GURPS as a convention game

Quote:
Originally Posted by lachimba
As an effort to do something that I can do to make GURPS more popular as opposed to something that SJ Games should do, I've decided I want to try running GURPS at a convention.

The recent big two gaming convention in Sydney had a ton of D&D, but not much else in the way of RPGs.

What do those with experience think would work best as a convention game?

I'd like to have the whole game done in less than five hours. Ideally about three would be great. So I'd ideally have characters made and take some short cuts.


Any other advice would be appreciated.
I’ve played in more convention games than I’ve run and I’ve never run GURPS at a convention as a GM. That said, a couple of annual regional game convention used to have healthy GURPS contingents, so I’ve seen things that have worked and others that didn’t.

At various times, people have run GURPS Supers, Space, Psionics, Special Ops, Martial Arts, Cliffhangers, Old West, Swashbucklers and Fantasy. One unlisted type of game that GURPS or a combination of GURPS/Toon would handle very well is the Free for All where teams of two characters try to get the McGuffin on a last character standing basis. Teams have included: Dr. Smith and Will Robinson [Lost in Space]; James Bond and Modesty Blaise {separate British espionage series]; Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock [Star Trek]; Sherlock Holmes and Tarzan; and Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

The first suggestion is don’t list your game as, for example, GURPS Swashbuckler. By all means, have it listed under GURPS, or even GURPS Swashbuckler, but give the game a title of its own. Something that will catch the attention of your prospects. If your convention prints a program, make sure you get your game submitted in time to be listed. Do a one paragraph write-up about your game (not about GURPS) that answers the following questions your prospects are likely to have: what is the initial premise of the game; what kind of characters will they be playing (broadly speaking), what sorts of things will they be doing/facing that makes your game a better choice for them than another game in your time slot(s) (and you’d better be able to deliver on any implicitly promised interactions)?

Do not ‘bait and switch’ the players, not even in the name of surprise. One convention GM advertised his game as Special Ops (the players) vs. Star Wars. Star Wars turned out to be Star Trek. I wasn’t particularly bothered but a number of players at the table were outraged. They had signed up for the game specifically because it was supposed to be Star Wars.

Before you start thinking about anything else, decide who your prospects are going to be. An adventure for boys age 9-12 is going to have different requirements than a game for girls 13-15 and they’re both going to be different from a game of mixed twenty-somethings. A game for people who have barely heard of role-playing games is going to have different considerations from a game for role-players who haven’t tried GURPS and that’s different still from a game for experienced GURPS players.

A couple of points bear mentioning because it has come up conventions, though rarely. If you have any inclination to run X- or R-rated material in your game, post the game as for mature gamers (and do remember that you’re playing in public, with both other gamers and non-gamers at least listening, if not watching). While conventions may allow mature games, they’re usually more comfortable with G-, possibly PG-, rated, material.

Before you start pre-generating characters: decide on your genre, lay out the bare bones of your plot, decide on the NPCs (animals included) that the PCs will meet, decide on the settings that your plot requires and think about your plot beats (an idea borrowed from Talsorian’s Dream Park RPG), i.e. alternate action scenes with scenes that advance the plot. You’ll usually hear advice to keep it simple. That doesn’t mean you can’t have complex, convoluted, complicated plots but your complex, convoluted, complex plot does have to: be easy to understand and readily followed by the players and it does ultimately have to make sense (at least within the conventions of the genre).

For NPCs, at the least, have a NPC Record Card for each of them. If they're important, have a full-blown character sheet.

Pre-generated characters are an absolute requirement for convention play. Make sure each character is reasonably balanced. No matter what the scene is no character should be useless (and hence, no player should be bored because he has nothing to do in this scene). That doesn’t mean that a character can’t shine more brightly than the others in that scene but if you do that remember that there need to be scenes in this game where each of the other characters get to shine just as brightly. (This is important because you can’t say, if I miss someone this session, I’ll make it up to them next session. There is no next session.) Make sure all the really essential skills are covered (and it’s a good idea to have at least one character with a really good level in an essential skill and another with an adequate level in the skill as back-up, in case accidents happen to the characters).

It’s not a bad idea to provide a brief personal history for each player character. Cover the essentials: Where and when was he born (how old is he), does he have living members of his family, how does he get on with them, how handy are they if he needs their help, how did he come to have the particular skills he does. What does he do for a living? Is he currently employed? Who’s his boss? If he’s between jobs, why and who did he last work for and was the parting amiable? If not was he fired or did he quit? Is there a romantic sub-plot, with an NPC or another PC?

You can use photographs (one GM used portraits of well-know western actors, I got to play Paladin) or drawings for hard to locate characters,( I played Neon Kid in that Supers game) and either will make an impression on the player (I played both of those characters exactly once more than two decades ago.) Failing that, write out a physical description: how tall is he? How much does he weigh? What does he look like? How does he dress (maybe even give him two or three clothing descriptions: formal, everyday, sleepwear)? What’s in his personal room? Is it neat or a strewn mess?

One trick I use in my games at home is personal knowledge cards for the characters. A character starts out with some cards at the beginning of play. For example, the scout in my Autoduel campaign started off one session with a couple of relevant knowledge cards: one saying Blood Pass was the only likely route for the convoy employing him but it was likely, based on previous experience to snow in to impassability within a week, maybe two. The Pierced Nose bike gang have their headquarters there because it has a working oil well that pumps out a barrel or two a day. Blood Pass is called that because all the Pierced Noses leave of trespassers through the pass is their blood. Another card told him that he knew the Pierced Nose gang’s leader, Iron Helmet, and was a friend with a personal safe conduct pass. Without a safe conduct pass from the gang, any traveller is by definition a trespasser. [The adventure was lifted wholesale from the Trailsman series of novels.] Finally, I hand out cards with the name and physical description of each NPC they meet to each player. I’ve found that players like not having to ask the GM for certain information and then relaying it, in character, to the other players, who’d just heard what the GM had to say for themselves.

Some GM’s like to give their players some choices about their characters. Some were better options than others. Having players select quirks for their characters (especially a full five) is time consuming and awkward if you’re going to give points for role-playing them at the end. Pick the quirks yourself and make sure you provide opportunities for them to come up in your game, if you absolutely have to go that way. Having the player make a meaningful choice of weapons and equipment is slightly better but can burn a lot of playtime in dithering, too. Give two maybe three choices of one or two combinations. For example, a cheaper, lower damage weapon with more ammunition or a more expensive, higher damage with less ammo. A cheap backpack and an expensive sleeping bag, an expensive backpack and a cheap sleeping bag or an average backpack and an average sleeping bag.

Providing characters with speech quirks/flavour quotes can help players make their character distinct from the others.

Don’t be afraid to pull a fast one on a character. It can be fun to let the practical joker character sit on the edge of his upper bunk and watch as the tenderfoot PC hops into his bunk and comes crashing down into the burly, short-tempered PC below because he removed all the bedsprings. It can defuse things when the practical joker rolls out onto his bunk to land on the character below him, because there’s a NPC practical joker who pulled the same trick on him.

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Old 07-20-2016, 01:50 PM   #17
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Default Re: GURPS as a convention game

If you put notes on the back of the character sheets, for heaven’s sake, tell your players, “There are notes about… on the back of your sheets!” Don’t assume that everybody will turn over their sheets and go, “Oh.” I had a GM for Toon at one convention who put each character's Beliefs and Goals on the back of the character sheets. Not only did he not tell the players that they were going to be judged on how well they fulfilled their character’s Beliefs and Goals, and not only did he not mention that they were on the back of the sheet, he forgot to mention that Toon characters even have Beliefs and Goals!

You should have a tactical map and Cardboard Heroes/miniatures for combat. Some GM’s have a plastic hex grid overlay and a roll of paper that they can draw the layout on as the characters explore the area.

You should have considered and prepared handouts, props, costumes and music beforehand. Handouts can be very simple like a hand-made matchbook that was passed around the player-investigators as a clue at the murder scene. Props can be as simple as water pistols (without the water) for the character’s firearms. Likewise, full blown costumes are unlikely, but a clip-on bowtie, a lab coat or a fedora can help a player get into the mood as his character. It also provides a simple way of transitioning from cross-table chatter to game immersion. One GM made musical cues for scene transitions and character entrances for his Supers game and they worked quite well (and weren’t noisy enough to distract gamers at other tables).

Make time for an introduction to the game. At a minimum, explain upfront about: success rolls; reaction rolls; damage rolls; quick contests; regular contests and the existence of defaults. By all means, if a character doesn’t have a skill and it’s likely to come up in the game, put his default on the sheet rather than waiting for it to come up in play, but make the players aware that they can usually try to do things that don’t appear on their character sheet. Tell the players if you’re going to be subverting the conventions of the genre (that should probably have been in your description for the programme but it doesn’t hurt to repeat it and maybe detail which conventions are being subverted if you’re leaving some of them intact). Likewise give the players some fairly strong notion of what you consider to be handwavy in the game, and what will not be handwaved.

For Super you might consider opening in media res with a ‘danger room’ scenario.

I’d suggest going with one time slot as a game length and running it twice during the convention, rather than one two-slot game as that gets exposure of GURPS to twice as many prospects. Two time slot games should be reserved for tournaments or one trick I saw at one convention. There were four two-Timeslot GURPS games going on in close proximity to each other: Supers, Cliffhangers, Fantasy, and Fantasy. the trick was that a character killed or severely wounded dropped out of the game/table he had been at and directed to go to one of the other three tables taking his character with him, who appeared uninjured in his new location. The final slot brought all four teams together against the four villains and their minions. (I shared a worry to one of the GMs that the four villains might merge, a la Moorcock’s Eternal Champion. The GM said that wasn’t going to happen, but he wished they’d thought of it when setting the game up.) It was seven shades of awesome. It does require multiple GMs though.

If you can commit attending a convention over the long term, you can get more ambitious. The Supers GM with the musical cues ran a seven episode story over seven years at successive conventions. He had the same players at each convention. (Mostly. I got to play in one episode because one of his regulars was out sick that year.)

I haven’t seen him on the fora lately, but you might try searching for LukeBunyip and try to PM him. If memory serves, he’s about two hours out of Melbourne and ran a Gamesday there a few years ago. He’s likely to have some advice for you. You might try searching for that old Gamesday thread as well. I contributed to it and it was as much about the location planning as about the games but it might give you some additional things to consider/watch out for in running a convention game.

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Old 07-20-2016, 02:12 PM   #18
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Default Re: GURPS as a convention game

GURPS works great for conventions, if planned well.

The best written description of planning for running GURPS at a convention that I know of comes from our own Mook, who has written quite a bit on it (and done quite a bit of it):
http://www.themook.net/gamegeekery/c...y/conventions/

I highly recommend reading his "Beware the Boogeyman" posts, which detail his most recent efforts toward creating and running a GURPS convention game. It starts here:
http://www.themook.net/gamegeekery/c...-boogeyman-01/

For those in a hurry, he has some Quick-Play Aventures available:
http://www.themook.net/gamegeekery/s...ay-adventures/

He also has some help with creating Quick-Start Characters:
http://www.themook.net/gamegeekery/m...rt-characters/
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Old 07-20-2016, 06:09 PM   #19
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Default Re: GURPS as a convention game

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Masters View Post
I seem to get reasonably positive results running Discworld games. But I seem to get reasonably positive results with a lot of settings. I have been doing this a while.

An Action-y game might work if you keep the combats quick and simple, actually, and that gives you an excuse to use wildcard skills, which can shorten the skills list. Horror isn't a bad option, either; you could have low-power accidental heroes who should be actively avoiding combat if they're sensible.

Oh, and the fourth edition Personnel Files books are all, whisper it, sets of demo characters from convention demo games.
Yes, and I love THS, but am yet to play a game more than ten years in.


Cthulhu games were the only alternative to D&D among the RPGs the closer I go to Nights Black Agents or that the more I should just use Gumshoe and the Dracula Dossier opening adventure would be fine for a convention with easy in game character generation.


Still leaves many GURPS books for horror though.
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Old 07-23-2016, 04:41 AM   #20
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Default Re: GURPS as a convention game

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Wait, what? I've never heard of these books.
Sorry, that's Transhuman Space: Personnel Files, numbered 1-4. They're all available as PDFs from Warehouse 23. Each has four or five pregen characters (plus, in most cases, their digital Allies), and some scenario outlines in the back which are actually based on the convention games I used these PCs for.
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