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So with paizocon only a couple of days away I thought I would post a topic to discussing some of the ways for GM's to run games in the big room better. I was at paizocon last year so most of my ideas come from that experience but I am hopeful that other people will comment with ideas that they have found at other con's and that as GM’s we can strive to make each experience fun.
~Noise control/GMing in a noisy room~
*if you try to shout over all the tables around you the whole convention your voice will be very stressed before the first day ends and it’s going to affect you the rest of the weekend and not be fun. So tips to cut down on the noise.
*Print the venture office briefing. Give everyone a chance to read it then take it back. At the start of every game you are surrounded by people trying to read block text clearly. If you don't have to fight to be heard all the players will understand the mission and it will make transitioning into the adventure smoother.
*Print the Knowledge check information and let the player who makes the check convey the information to the group. It helps to get the players interacting with each other early on and encourage them to do so in character.
*Look at the person you are speaking to!!!! Try not to get stuck sitting with your head down reading text. Your voice will not carry as well and you will end up having to repeat yourself a lot.
*Keep control of the chatter. If your whole table is talking all the time all at once you’re going to have a hard time hearing and being heard and the tables around you will be negatively affected.
~Auditing players pre game~
*one thing you should not do is spend the first half hour of a game slot pouring through character sheets and chronicles looking for mistakes. You end up losing a lot of game time and it can come across very adversarial. Here are some of my recommendations.
*As players make player introductions look over character sheets/hero labs and their inventory tracking sheet. Ask questions about any ability’s you don’t understand as your reading it and try to get a basic understanding of what the character is and does. You don’t need to know every trick, it’s the players job to understand the character and be able to explain it.
*Have a copy of the additional resources printed and if you have to cross reference something ask a 3rd party player to do it so that you can keep things moving. Make sure that the player is not using something like d20pfsrd or herolabs as the source for abilities and items but don’t make it into a witch hunt. Ideally you should be able to do this as the introductions happen.
*Check to see if they know what they should have for a bonus to hit, damage, concentration check etc. Get a sense of what they do best, if it seems high ask how.
*Ask questions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and one of the best ones would be does this character have aspects that have been subject to table variation and try to sort those out before the game starts. Let the player know where you stand on a rule beforehand and it will save on rules discussion that bring the game to a crawl mid game.
*Chronicles or inventory sheets not filled out properly
*Gun Slingers continuing to double dip in the bonus dex damage.
*Cleric’s that take extra channel more than once.
*Mounts with barding and items but not the feats to wear or use them.
*People in medium or heavy encumbrance but not taking the penalties or even calculating the encumbrance weight they are at.
*Zen Archer trying to use rapid shot & many shot during a flurry of arrows
It can be very easy to lose track of time. Some season 5 games are hard to get done in the time slot. Here are some tips.
*If the player has a mount or companion or summoned creature make sure they have access to the stat block for it and can have it at the ready. If they are taking an excessive amount of time offer a warning but be prepared to take the creature over as GM. You can’t let Fluffy the Wonder Bison take 5 min to resolve a turn.
*When in combat inform players of the order and give advanced warning so that they can plan out their actions ahead of time. Be prepared to put players that are indecisive on delay if needed but give them a fair warning before doing so.
*Ask players to roll all the damage dice at the same time as the too hit.
Fill out the bottom part of the chronicles beforehand to save you some time finishing the end of the game.
*Have Stat block organized so that you can see all the information you need before had. If they have spells or abilities you don’t know try to have those printed so that you don’t need to stop the game to reference them. Printing more than one copy can keep you from flipping back and forth.
Yes that’s right Smile. Enjoy the game you are running interact with the players, be funny give bad guys some dialog during combat, toss an insult out (By Besmaria’s barnacled arse!) expand on the flavor of text. Your sitting with a bunch of people that enjoy the same thing you do, make it fun!
If anyone else has some good ideas please post them.