Whispers in the Dark 5e Recap from NewGameAPalooza

This last weekend (10/5/2019) I ran a convention game. It’s been years since I’ve run a game at a convention and most of the time I was either running Living Greyhawk (yes, I’m aging myself), Pathfinder Organized Play, or Adventurer League for 5e.

This time I decided to run a homebrew scenario that’s been bouncing around my head for at least ten (10) years. It’s got a Halloween theme and since the convention was in early October I thought I might as well put it together and see if folks like it. It’s not ready for publishing yet but I’m working on it!

Thanks to the outstanding table that attended. We had a brand-new player who seemed to have a great time and the table accommodated her. Again, many thanks, players!

Running Whispers in the Dark session at NewGameapalooza 2019.
Quite the range of players, veterans (Leo – taking the pic), high-schooler and guys from college, and a brand-new player, flanked by mom!

I’ve had the majority of the products I used for the game for quite a few years. The only real issue was finding them in my basement. Some required some printing and pasting but hey, I like my arts and crafts!

Heroic Maps

The Heroic Maps – Foxtail Moor – Ruined Watchtower kicked us off. This was a pretty standard goblin and hobgoblin wizard encounter to get the players used to each other and let them explore their characters.

I had purchased this a while ago with both the PDF and the printed cards. The printed cards were of outstanding quality. I used some matte tape and it folded right up.

Pathfinder Flip-Mat

The Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics – Tavern. Great set-piece for the tavern encounter (something every con’ game should have.

I paired this with a keg golem that got cursed/corrupted by a pair of Gumienniki in service to the big-bad, The Harvest Lord.

Last but not least – Pumpkin Hill and the Harvest Horror figures from 2-Minute Tabletop

2-Minute Tabletop produces some great products. What was fortuitous was that they just released this on October 4th…the night before I was to run my game! I had already made a rough mock-up using my still installed copy of Dundjinni and I just wasn’t feeling it. Lo’ and behold I do a Google search and voila. Instant Halloween mayhem.

I had already put together some variant scarecrow monsters (I’ll post those later this week) so all I did was make this one bigger. Had him throw out some crypt spiders and zombies.

Sidebar: A few pointers about convention games.

  1. As the gamemaster, you have the ultimate control over the creation of the characters so you can ensure that each one has the chance to shine. What I mean is that from a story and tactical/game viewpoint you can make sure that each character’s strengths have the potential to be highlighted.
  2. The number of encounters is controllable based upon how much time you have. These are guidelines but you should be able to get a sense for timing after introductions are made. Back from the RPGA days, the guidance was that a four (4) hour timeslot should contain:
    1. Two (2) smaller combat encounters
    2. One (1) to two (2) roleplaying or skills-based encounters
    3. One (1) larger combat
  3. Everything you’ve planned for must be expected to be made useless after the first five (5) minutes of the game. Preparedness is an illusion. The more games you run, the more you realize this. Be prepared with some stock maps, backup miniatures, a couple of lists of names for NPC’s, towns, inns, and places.
  4. Read the room and adjust. Convention-goers are there for a fun time. Talk to them about real-world things first, i.e. how far did you travel today, did you have fun in any games today and if so what were they like?

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