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Advice for New Game Masters

I’m an avid gamer and organize tons of public game events. Trust me when I tell you there is nothing to be nervous about if you want to run your own public game session. Below are a few notes to make the most of the experience:

  • When deciding on a game to run, pick one which is familiar and enjoyable to you. It helps if the game is popular, but that means nothing if it doesn’t match your own interest. Your personal enthusiasm encourages the fun.

  • Know the game rules. It is fine if you need to double-check an obscure rule, but you should know how the game is played.

  • A game with 3-6 players generally works best for an event. Requiring a large minimum number of players increases the odds that not enough players are available for the game session. Additionally, a large number of players requires a large amount of space and space is often at a premium.

  • A game that can roughly be played in one hour or increments of two hours usually fits into event session slots the best. You can run multiple sessions of such games to entirely fill a time slot. Any game session over 4 hours scares away players unless they are already familiar with the game and expect that long for game play. Be prepared to lose 10-20 minutes of time overall for game set-up and tear-down.

  • If you are running a role-playing game (RPG), it is best if you provide pre-generated characters for players instead of using valuable game time creating new characters. Additionally, player hand-outs and adventure props help an adventure come alive.

  • How you describe a game has a definite impact on attracting players so give your game session description some real thought. It needs to sound interesting and fun (especially so if it requires a great deal of time to play). If you are not a writer, consider copying advertisement text from the publisher for your game session description.

  • Tell the organizer of any special player requirements such as game supplies, game experience, and appropriate ages. The stricter these requirements, the fewer number of event attendees that can play, so choose your game carefully.

  • Tell the organizer of any special physical requirements for your game such as table size, table shape, electrical outlets, or Wi-Fi access. Power drops and Wi-Fi often cost extra for convention events so these may be in limited supply or not even available.

  • Don’t be scared to ask the event organizer to recommend a game to run, but don’t simply ask: “What should I run?” Instead, present a handful of games which you own and are comfortable running as options.

  • Consider any themes for the event when deciding on a game to run. For example, spooky horror games are great around Halloween!

  • Rolling luggage or carts are great for maneuvering a large number of games or game components through the crowds at an event.

  • If you enjoy running public games, check whether your favorite game company has an official demo program. Demo team members usually receive game products in exchange for running public game sessions.

  • Finally, do not take it personally if no players show up to play your game. It happens to everyone who runs public game events at some point. Learn what you can to possibly improve interest in the future but don’t lose heart!


Good luck and have fun!


Kerry Jordan

Tabletop Gaming Coordinator

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