I ran my First GenCon event with Jason Ward and Accidental Cyclops. We ran a LARP using Matt McFarland’s Curse the Darkness setting and a light version of Rob Wieland’s Fate rules for the setting. We ended up with 22 players, including at least 3 people who had never LARPed, before. Players said the tension was good and they had a great time. We heard several comments that we adhered to the themes and setting of Curse the Darkness well, despite changing the system and venturing into the unintended territory of LARP.
I really appreciated where GenCon held large LARPs this year (in the big rooms upstairs in Union Station), as they were great rooms with a number of items to alter the space (tables, chairs, curtains). We also had complete control over the lighting, which was critical for the ambiance of the Curse the Darkness setting.
While Jason and I have run a lot of events before, we haven’t run any GenCon events. It is a whole different animal! Here are some of our lessons learned:
Be thorough when submitting events
Try to include everything about your event when you submit it, and use notes if necessary. Events staff at GenCon never replied to any of our questions, nor addressed any of the updates we asked to make to our event. At a bare minimum, we will make sure to include a URL for the event when we submit, so that we can make updates that are external to the system.
Plan for flexibility
Large-group games like this can have great fluctuation in numbers, so be flexible on your character counts & preparation. Leading up to the event, we had 18 registered, which was enough to play. Then, near the start of GenCon (and even during GenCon), we got 7 more registered, with a few more who said they were going to show with generic tickets. While we had prepared a few extra sheets, we had not prepared that many, so I ended up writing several more characters by hand to meet the 25-30 estimate we then had. Our final count of arrivals, as stated, ended up being 22. Turns out, that was the exact number (4 extra) that we had already prepared, so we didn’t need my rushed characters, after all.
Frame your location
This is a lesson we already knew from running numerous LARPs in the past, but frankly, I feel I failed a bit, partially due to miscommunication with my co-ST. While we managed the internal spaces for the game ok, we left open the story and scenario enough that characters wanted to venture offsite too much, which was a bit of a red-herring and detracted from our availability and from the ongoing drama.
We’d love to hear your thoughts
If you played in our LARP this year, we would love to get feedback from you on:
- What you liked
- What could have been better
- What types of settings would be fun for you to try next year
- If game results should persist into the world if we run Curse the Darkness again
- If your character met all your goals, and you want to brag about it and make a character for next time