Today I went to the 2019 Lone Star Game Expo, in Grapevine, Texas. I took the day off (today was a friday), got up at a reasonable hour, printed some stuff out for the Traveller game I was running at 1pm, did some final tweeking to it, but mostly I thought about the game, the different permutations it might experience, and considered that I’d not even scratched the surface of the unpredictable creativity of five good roleplaying gamers. And that was fine. I knew my scenario, I had plenty of good nonplayer characters for them to encounter, and figured if I just keep calm and think about things the game would be OK.
My goal, of course, is for the players to enjoy themselves. This is the second time I’ve run a game at a convention. Not knowing any of your players is a challenge because you have no idea how they will play. Will they play fast? Will they take forever to make decisions. I had four hours to fill, max. I wanted the session to last about 2.5 to 3 hours. Beyond that I start getting tired as gamemaster. It takes a lot of mental energy to run a game. Again, I was ready. I had a flexible adventure, with some encounters to drop in if things were moving too fast.
I had three players who were very experienced with Traveller. Much more experienced both as players and referees than me. That’s actually a relief. The other two players had not played Traveller before, but were experience gamers, so no problem. Traveller is easy to teach.
Turns out the group was really nice. All really great gamers. Much like my normal gaming group, they were very deliberative and played it smart, and thus avoided a lot of conflict. I don’t throw a bunch monsters or enemies at my players just so they lose some blood. I like everything to make sense. A little excitement, a lot of problem solving and roleplaying, and conflict when it makes sense. Oh, and of course I love to present my players with a moral dilemma, and this game was no exception.
The session lasted 2.5 hours. It would have gone a bit longer if they’d not played it smart up front, when they chose to negotiate with a potential adversary and turn him into an ally. They did fight some alien jungle monsters, but again they used their resources and good tactics, realizing that killing the monsters wasn’t part of the mission, and managed to avoid serious injury. Games that don’t reward the PCs for doing unnecessary violence encourage that kind of gaming, which I like.
So thanks to John, James, Jonny, Cindy, and Greg. Y’all are great players, and it was a pleasure to game with you!
Afterward we had a discussion about Traveller and gaming in general, reviewed the game and their choices, talked about their own campaigns, and bid each other farewell for the day. Looking forward to seeing them over the next two days of the con. Then I headed home.
Tomorrow is my “big day”. My friend Jeff, one of the members of SAFCO, is playing in a Dungeon Crawl Classics game with me, to be DMed by Jonny, who was one of my players today. Then later we’re hanging at the con, and going to some seminars, including one at 7pm by Traveller creator Marc Miller.