Experiences with Numenera at GenCon

Published August 13, 2015 by in For Gamemasters


Getting an event at GenCon is fairly simple. Anyone can apply for an event, from a one-shot like I ran this year, tournaments, or a panel. It’s best to apply as soon as possible so your event can be assigned a place. The Indianapolis Convention Center is a huge building that sports as many people as a small city patrolling its floors (#gencon2015 broke to 61,423 unique passes), so the surrounding hotels are all host to events. My Numenera one-shot “Orthys Schism” was assigned to the Hyatt Regency. The official GenCon program book will be your good friend here since it contains maps of ALL the hotels.

CC by-sa Some rights reserved by naz66

CC by-sa Some rights reserved by naz66

Tickets are a concern you’ll need to discern for yourself. Every event will require you to purchase a ticket. Even if you list your event as free, the GenCon website will charge $0.00 to your account and you’ll be able to pick up a ticket at the convention. This is because free events only have so many seats. The Monte Cooke Games panels that I attended were all free but I still had to purchase the ticket and hand it in at the door. If you charge for your event the website will add a surcharge that you’ll have to keep in mind so you can keep prices consistent. I wanted to charge $4 because I thought it was reasonable number. It ended up charging $8 to those who bought tickets to my event.

Due to the ticket system you may come into some awkward situations. As you set up for your event or are waiting for people to show up, you may have people eyeing your table and standing to the side. They are “squatting” your game. If someone doesn’t show up and you have an empty seat they will enthusiastically ask to fill that missing position. It’s up to you to decide what to do in this situation, especially if you charged for your event. Do you wave him/her away? Do you gratefully accept them in? What if someone shows up later, do you wave them away or do you incorporate them anyway? Charging for your one-shot ($2, $4) will give people incentive to attend and you may never have to make an awkward call like this. Thankfully I didn’t, as everyone who bought a ticket showed up enthusiastically.

As the Game Master, it’s your duty not only to tell an awesome story and have fun, but to be courteous to the people that paid money for your one-shot. Being on time and being a happy individual can go a long way towards everyone having a better time. If you’re bringing pregenerated characters make sure you have all of them (plus a few more than you think you’ll need) along with your other prep-materials. Now we get to the fun part: what makes the setting of Numenera great for a one-time session.

Numenera is great because it is simultaneously, incomprehensibly different from the present world and eerily similar. Every single organism players will encounter are foreign descendents of those today yet they will still encounter forests, plains, streams and cliffs like today. People find things strange when they are slightly off (like the Uncanny Valley) so creating vast landscapes that seem similar but have something weird and chaotic beneath the surface is so critical for painting the right picture. That hill is actually an ancient server bank so its geometry is off, that huge tree is a satellite so it bears metal fruit, and so on. Being able to condense sweet details like these into whatever story you tell in the 3-4 hours is crucial to giving people who have never played Numenera a good time and an idea of what you believe Numenera is all about.

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