Whether you will be running games, or playing games at a con, I think there are some things to look for in a convention game, assuming the game is designed for newcomers to the game and system.
- Make the PCs competent.
- Allow each PC to have a niche.
- Design your game for the minimum and maximum number of players. I have some great ideas, sometimes they require X number of players to really be successful. I end up scrapping these ideas. I design games that can handle 2-X+1 number of players. I usually always welcome players to my table, even if it is “full” (assuming I have a character ready for them. I have run a superhero game with 14 players, a Monsterhearts game with 18 and about 10 spectators.
- Design a scenario that allows the setting and system to chine, without having to rely too much on prior knowledge, or long moments of exposition.
- Give the players a taste of the core mechanics of the game early on, so they get comfortable. In most games, this means starting out with a combat. Make this opening be consequence-free.
- Help the players. Give them a hand with the game mechanics. they all want to kick-ass and take names. Assuming you designed characters that can do this, help them with gentle suggestions of what might be a cool thing to try.
- Don’t kill anyone. It sucks to pay for or at least sign up for a game and be out before the game is over.
- Manage time. This is an area I consider a strength. I keep my watch visible as a clock and work to always have the game end on time and in a satisfying fashion. You don’t need to rush things, know your system, and plan accordingly.
- Don’t be offended if someone leaves. It sucks. Maybe the game wasn’t for them. maybe they are meeting someone. Maybe con-fatigue has set in. Thank them for coming, assure them it’s all good. Everyone at the table is there to have fun, including you. If it is not fun, it is best if we all move on. No hurt feelings.
- Let players keep their character sheets. Not everyone wants to, but some people definitively do. If i have to hand my character sheet back, I feel ripped off.