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Convention Etiquite and Tips

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lurkeroutthere

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« on: (10:38:11/07-22-11) »
I originally posted this on dumpshock, I'm re-posting it here for widest dissemination because I think I'm a genius.

Alright first the disclaimer: These thoughts are my own, they don't represent anyone else especially not Catalyst, The CGL demo team or anything of that nature. Also this is something I'm just throwing together as I go so it's a smidge rambling.

Having said that I wanted to put out some lessons learned I've gotten as both a convention players and GM. Some of these are just courtesy things that people don't realize, some of these are shameless attempts to make my life easier. Some of them are helpful tips, and some are warnings on crimes against humanity.

Preparation and Cleanup:
1) Your mom doesn't run here, and even if she does she doesn't want to clean up after you. > I'm often on a time crunch and even when i'm not this one gets on my nerves more then most things. When you play at a gaming table please police up your own trash when you leave and if possible any other loose trash you see sitting around. A lot of our slots run back to back to back so the in-courteous people who leave their trash behind are really leaving it right int he next player space.

2) You should know the rules that apply to your character > I'd like to think my Shadowrun rules knowledge is better then most. But even having said that Shadowrun is a game of a host of interlocking sub systems with fiddly bits. So if i make a call from memory and you know it's wriong you have every right to call me on it (politely). Most people are pretty good on this when it works to their benefit but i do ask they also do it when it works to their detriment. What I saw someone do at last years Gencon and have since adapted for my own is making a cheat sheet of all the rules that affect my character on a regular basis including page references. This is especially important if your character tends to do obscure things like grappling, e-sensing. etc etc

3) Speed counts for a lot in combat > Similar to the above I strongly recommend folks pre-calculate their most commonly used action pools including a break out of where the dice bonus come from. This will save you having to hunt and peck on your character sheet.

Table Etiquette:
This is Shadowrun, not monopoly try not to monopolize the GM > Now personally when i GM I try and do a round robin style to make sure everyone's getting a chance to get in actions and such or when it comes to things like leg work I ask everyone to make their rolls and then I come around the table checking what folks got. Though having said that try to contain the need to get involved in every roll or action taking place at the table. I'll give a classic example big table, hacker is scanning and breaking into local wireless devices to pre-seed the area with surveillance . Face and street sam are talking to people for intel on the objective. While their doing that local corpsec starts to talk to them. Hacker wanted to get involved in that scene by sending a drone over/hacking corpsecs comlink etc. Even though the hacker could technically get involved in that encounter I told them to cool it so face and sam could have their moment in the sun. If they'd failed I might have let their teammates come to their rescue but until then it was their play time.

Your character shoots people in the face for money, you can grab my attention if something is bothering you or you need it > The counter to the above question if there is something that your character needs to get involved in or you would have an insight on. Speak up. Part of the reason I go to a round robin is to give everyone a moment. But at bigger tables that moment takes a while to come around. if your one of those people that has a hard time inserting yourself into a conversation if nothing else raise your hand, that gets my attention.

General Etiquette:
If something is making you uncomfortable speak up > I'm going to set all joking aside for a moment. Shadowrun is a game of mature themes. While I strive for a PG rating at the table for con games, just by the nature of the setting, stuff creeps in. Likewise players might raise things to a level your not comfortable with. Speak up, even if you have to ask to talk to me privately, I an presumably most other GM's and players are willing to work with you.

Don't Cheat > Not much needs to be said here, if your life is going so horrible that you need to cheat at a tabletop game for validation I suggest you seek help. As a GM I cheat like crazy and I hate competition.

Show up to your event on time > I understand that events run long and things happen but as much as possible please try and get to events on time. This goes double for those playing with generics as those seats go to folks on a first come first serve basics. Similarly while those who bought tickets do have a guaranteed seat I don't not let someone play because your running behind generally speaking I hold game for 5-10 mins while everyone gets situated and I answer questions, but by that point I start to look around and get generic folks seated.

A word on generics > Traditionally at Gencon and Origins we sell 6 slots to each game, a seventh player can be taken at GM's discretion (most of us do) an eighth player can only be taken if all the pre-registered players are cool with it, which most are. So if you have a group of players you like to play with it really behooves you to preregister. Having said that even if you can't preregister you might try and show up anyway, we as GM's work awful hard not to turn people away.

Cleanliness > This has been beat to death in other places and honestly I haven't seen a problem amongst the Shadowrun crowd but as a guy whose gone to big cons before it deserves a mention. Please shower, use soap, and deodorant liberally and toothpaste and breath mints as necessary. I've gotten to the point where I'm not shy of calling people on this as necessary if I have to take them aside. Save yourself the embarrassment, and if you are incapable of embarrassment on this issue stop coming out in public.
"And if the options are "talk to him like a grown up" versus "LOLOLOL murder him in his face until he doesn't come back," I know which suggestion I'm making." - Critias

No team I'm on has ever had a problem with group think.

nimrod_funk

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« Reply #1 on: (11:42:13/07-22-11) »
Personally the only etiquette I use to use in my con going days was 1. Get really drunk. 2. Hotels are there to torment. Search out things that are unlocked: Fire Extinguishers, Maids closet 3. At the height of you Havoc leave and go down to the local pub for more pints of barley pop goodness.

That was some fifteen or twenty years ago. I still miss those days. Especially the time the Vampire Larp got thrown out of the con......Good memories.

Oh yeah, if you have to cheat you're a looser. Seriously it's a game take it as such.......Steps 1. 2. and 3. are helpful and preferable if your underage. If you get caught remember it's probably a felony so you've been warned.
"Can't stop here it's bat country"

lurkeroutthere

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« Reply #2 on: (15:12:55/07-22-11) »
Oh one item I forgot:

Bring your own character if it's appropriate, or be ready to play the pre-gens. With the caveat that all the (out of the book) pregens are varying states of weird.
"And if the options are "talk to him like a grown up" versus "LOLOLOL murder him in his face until he doesn't come back," I know which suggestion I'm making." - Critias

No team I'm on has ever had a problem with group think.

nimrod_funk

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« Reply #3 on: (16:15:37/07-22-11) »
I think flexibility is important too. I'll often let players have a character they "propogate" from NPC's.....Had a player play a pimp once....One of the best players I ever had in a game.......He now runs and owns http://paintedfigs.com. Great player.
"Can't stop here it's bat country"

lurkeroutthere

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« Reply #4 on: (13:36:33/07-04-12) »
Shedim powers activate! I summon you to serve again!
"And if the options are "talk to him like a grown up" versus "LOLOLOL murder him in his face until he doesn't come back," I know which suggestion I'm making." - Critias

No team I'm on has ever had a problem with group think.

TroubleMaker

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« Reply #5 on: (16:15:54/07-11-12) »
Great advice, got any for GM's?  I've been GMing SR since early 90's, but this is my first time GMing it at a con.  My primary concern is PC deaths.  What if the PCs start doing VERY stupid things, or maybe I have a troublemaker in the group.

I know how I would handle this in a regular game, but in a game where people have paid to play you really want them to get the full 4 hours worth, no matter how ludicrous their actions.  But at the same time, you need to try to keep a balance of things being a real threat. Is it ok if big final bad guys end up killing a character?  Or god forbid the PCs end up in a TPK situation.  Hand of God is always an option for players I guess. 

Giving players an out is easy (a way to escape, have some NPS friendlies bite it as a warning they are over their heads, etc), but if they don't take it, is it acceptable to have PC deaths in a con game?

All4BigGuns

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« Reply #6 on: (16:24:17/07-11-12) »
I'm not actually sure on the con games (never had a real chance to go to one), but when I run I don't consider PC death acceptable AT ALL. Instead, if a PC dies I consider the game a complete and total failure.
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TroubleMaker

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« Reply #7 on: (16:39:17/07-11-12) »
Well, it's not like I consider a PC death as a "win" for the GM, but I'm of the school that the threats should be real and escalating.  If PC's never die, they become immune to fearing it and the game gets boring.  Especially a game as lethal as SR.  I want my PC's to survive by the skin of their teeth.  That's the "best" type of outcome as far as I'm concerned. 

Most PC deaths in my games come PvP, but occasionally a PC is going to get fragged other ways.  And even rarer, a TPK will happen.  Obviously you don't want any of these outcomes to happen at a Con where players have paid for their 4 hours, but some players might be crazy and reckless or have a deathwish, or maybe they are just trying to mess with the game. Then what? First, ask politely if they can alter behavior so everyone can enjoy the game. Sure.  But there may be legitimate circumstances where a PC dies or becomes out of commission.  This is obviously something you try to avoid, but not at the expense of the game being exciting.

Bull

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« Reply #8 on: (16:42:58/07-11-12) »
You running for me, Trouble, or doing some solo games?

Anyway, my suggestion is to try not to kill them.  They paid to be there, after all. 

But...

They're not invincible.  If they're stupid and they ignore any GM advice or warnings?  Make them pay for their stupidity.  And if they are doing blatantly stupid things that will get them killed?  Well, kill them and move on.  Because they aren't likely making the game fun for the rest of the players either, and only bringing trouble down on their heads. 

It's a game, but it's a game with consequences for your actions.  Shadowrun is not cuddly and hand-holdy.  The player is NOT always right.  Since they paid for the game, you don't go out of your way to punish them, but if they can't take a hint?  Meh.  Too stupid to live.

Also, remember there are other players at the table. One person's fun does not trump other peoples fun.  Never let one player ruin a game with idiot behavior, because would you rather have 1 unhappy player, or 5+ unhappy players?

TroubleMaker

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« Reply #9 on: (16:46:35/07-11-12) »
Yeah, I'm running for you (I'm Vincent C.). I was going to pose the question in the GM email thread, but this seemed like a good spot too.

Your advice is pretty much how I run my normal games, so I think I'll be fine.

Critias

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« Reply #10 on: (16:50:16/07-11-12) »
And don't forget, there's always Edge (for Hand of God).  So if someone does something they think is "bold" or "awesome," but you and the dice think is "stupid" or "suicidal," there's still a way for them to not be totally taken out of the game. 

It's a con.  Folks are there to roll great big handfuls of dice, do crazy stuff, and have fun.  They may or may not be brand new to the system, they may or may not have a real handle on the rules, they may or may not be used to any particular playstyle...but they've paid money to be there.  Make it a challenge, sure.  But don't smack 'em down quite the same way you would in a grim and gritty home game.

Bull

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« Reply #11 on: (17:25:39/07-11-12) »
Heya Vincent! 

Another thing to keep in mind as a GM...  Not everyone at the table has a lot of experience playing Shadowrun (We get plenty of newbies...  We have intro games to funnel them to if possible, but...).  And, more importantly, not everyone has experience playing the same type of Shadowrun game. 

So your first recourse should always be to talk to the player.  Communication is important.  Start off in character or as a GM, but if taht doesn't resolve things, step out of game for a minute, maybe take the player aside for a second, and talk to them.  Let them know what's up.  Find out why they're doing what they're doing.

Then, if they still are being disruptive or suicidal?  It's on their head. :)


crowofpyke

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« Reply #12 on: (20:03:56/07-11-12) »
"If something is making you uncomfortable speak up > I'm going to set all joking aside for a moment. Shadowrun is a game of mature themes. While I strive for a PG rating at the table for con games, just by the nature of the setting, stuff creeps in. Likewise players might raise things to a level your not comfortable with. Speak up, even if you have to ask to talk to me privately, I an presumably most other GM's and players are willing to work with you."

This is the only one I have an issue with at all.  It's a ROLEPLAYING game, expect people to play their character.  That said, if your character is an a-hole, expect that other player's characters might just shoot you in the face.  That also said, I am not going to "PG rating" down my character for someone else... its a ROLEPLAYING game.

lurkeroutthere

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« Reply #13 on: (20:53:07/07-11-12) »
Let me be abundantly clear with the disclaimer that this is a theoretical statement this is not taken against you specifically. If anyone is making someone at the game uncomfortable I as a GM will error on the side of making people comfortable. Up to and including asking people to leave the table. I think i have a pretty good edging of the concept of what's reasonable and what's not for behavior but i'll point to prime time TV. You can discuss mature themes and no amount of searing or salty language will perturb me, however acting out something that wouldn't get shown on screen in a cop drama is generally not kosher. I will deal with the situation to resolve it  up to and including pulling a refund out of my own pocket if you feel like your rights to free expression have been violated. But I'm not there to provide you with a captive audience.

In all the years of GMing i've done I've never had to ask someone to leave the table because of their in character behavior. Occasionally i've had to insist on a fade to black or indicate that a line had been crossed but even those instances have only happened once each. In the latter case even the responsible party conceded that was a bit of overshare.

On the other hand I've been perfectly willing to roll out combats where someone was beaten to death with a sex toy, so maybe I'm jaded.
"And if the options are "talk to him like a grown up" versus "LOLOLOL murder him in his face until he doesn't come back," I know which suggestion I'm making." - Critias

No team I'm on has ever had a problem with group think.

Critias

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« Reply #14 on: (21:27:41/07-11-12) »
This is the only one I have an issue with at all.  It's a ROLEPLAYING game, expect people to play their character.  That said, if your character is an a-hole, expect that other player's characters might just shoot you in the face.  That also said, I am not going to "PG rating" down my character for someone else... its a ROLEPLAYING game.
It's important to point out that in-party violence is heavily frowned upon in Missions games.  So being the guy who is an "a-hole" and gets to the point people want to shoot him in the face and can't?  That's kind of a dick move.  It's like being a kid, pulling the "I'm not touching yoooooou!" trick.

Everyone at a convention should have fun.  That's why people are there.  But no one there should be having fun at someone else's expense.  Sometimes you do have to tone a character down, to fit in with a social situation among strangers.  Stuff that'll fly among long-term friends and gamers in a home campaign might not be appropriate or appreciated in a game full of strangers at a convention.