I noticed the other day that Mike Shea at Sly Flourish published a survival guide for conventions. It was with some curiosity I read it, as I am eagerly looking forward to spring’s greatest convention, Fastaval, but the advice Mike presented were generally for an entirely different kind of gaming convention, so here is my alternate guide for the Danish roleplaying convention.
Get Water and Drink It
Since you will probably end up spending some time in the bar and/or the cafe, you’ll be drinking quite a bit. Drinking water helps lessen the worst hangovers, and you need to be in shape for more gaming the next day.
So remember to drop by the kiosk and pick up a water bottle once in a while (coffee and tea is free), or find a tap and get refills from there.
Don’t sleep late or you’ll miss the breakfast. The kiosk sells some great sandwiches and the cafe has snacks, so if you’re lazy, you can easily find lunch to a fair price. Unless you game drags out, you can easily make it to dinner.
There are bakeries and fastfoodjoints and restaurants in the area, so it is easy to find food, should you not be satisfied with the convention’s services. Just remember to eat.
Pack like a backpacker
If you’re a player, it is a good idea to bring pens and a notebook. That is about it. If you have found one of the few scenarios, that uses dice you should bring some (I don’t think there are any this year).
If you’re a game master, you need to carry the scenario, notebook, pens and of course any particular elements for the specific scenario (i.e. CD or MP3-player for A Heart of Metal, DVD-player or laptop for The Children of Soccerfield 7, Ikea-catalogue for Ikea etc.). Some GM’s bring extra elements to enhance the mood like music players. Do that, if it is your style.
A good backpack or some such is practical, but not strictly necessary.
Get sleep. It is easy to forget.
Eat proper. There will be drinking, do not forget to eat.
Bathe. Since the showers are usually in constant use during the mornings, some choose to wait till noon before they bathe. There will be no saunas, unfortunately.
Set Goals, not a Schedule
Read the programme carefully. There will at most nine time slots to play in. Do not pick them all, when you fill out your registry. You will be exhausted – and if you discover you have the energy for an extra game, there is always the Extras Line, where you stand in line for a more or less random game. Also if you are unable to participate in a scenario, remember to sign off, so the organizers can find a replacement.
Don’t forget the workshops, and there are always pick-up board games, and sometimes some of the indie-players organize a spontaneous game, but it is not common. Spare time can also be spent in the cafe or in the youth lounge, if you are a teen.
Remember to arrive in good time for your next scenario, preferably 10 minutes before.
Avoid the Herd
Some scenarios are popular, especially when it is one those written by famous authors, or if the potential of the game sounds awesome (like 15 Men on a Dead Man’s Chest). Expect a lot of players to pick the scenario in their registration. Well the trick is to sign up as a GM, as this will give you a GM-priority, so you are guaranteed to play your favorite. Secondly you might even choose to GM your favorite scenario.
And again remember that you can also stand in the Extras Line for a more or less random scenario.
Run a Game Instead of Playing One
If you like GM’ing, do not forget to pick a game or two to GM. I often contact the authors and ask for advance copies before I sign up, so I know if a scenario is my type game or not.
Since running a scenario proper requires some prepping, so expect to spend some time reading (most scenarios are between 20-50 pages, a few a very brief, perhaps 4-5 pages, and a few are 100+). It is always a good idea to a test run at home with your friends, and if you contact the author early in the process, you may even be invited to play test with the authors – which is no bad deal.
Swim with a Buddy
Go with a few friends. It is always nice to have a familiar face to hangout with.
Things to remember
- Earplugs – some people snore, some other people can’t ignore it.
- Quality sleeping gear – we are going to spend a few days at Fastaval, so if you do not arrange for external sleeping quarters, you better bring a good sleeping back, pillows and some sort of Madras (and do remember an electrical pump if you opt for an inflatable madras).
- A proper suit or dress for the party – I’ll bring my tailor-made three-piece suit, but that is a matter of taste, but do be aware, that people dress up for the final party, and it is not a cosplay.
- Naturally always remember the basics for bathing etc. like towels, soap etc.
- Cell Phone and Recharger