Running games @ AlbaCon
Being a GM at an online convention is very much like being a GM at an in-person convention, however there are a few things that are unique to the online setting.
This guide will hopefully give you a few tips on how to GM effectively at AlbaCon.
Communicate in advance of the session
AlbaCon has a dedicated Discord server. If you are running a game at AlbaCon we will email a link to you ahead of event registration.
When you join the AlbaCon Discord make yourself known to one of the event staff (usernames are in yellow) by contacting us. We will then give you the GM Role so you can access all the areas of the server that you need access to.
Within that server you will find a breakdown of all of the events with channel link information per slot. There will be a text and voice channel for each game you are running.
We’re not mandating that you use Discord for voice, however if you aren’t using our Discord for voice then it’s critical that you use the text channel for the game in question to communicate with your players and let them know what alternative tools you are using along with a link and instructions on how to access it for the event.
It is important that you communicate to the players at your earliest convenience so that they can be confident as to what they are doing at game time. Advising them early of any software needed gives them time to install and familiarise themselves with it.
Have a backup plan
There may be technical difficulties with voice and video communication.
Make sure you advise your players where to convene if the technology fails. We suggest routing everyone back to the AlbaCon Discord channel for your game to discuss next steps.
If you’d prefer to use a different alternative then make sure you specify that in the Discord chat channel for your game.
Provide Pre-generated Characters
Creating characters during the session can be time consuming so we advise providing pre-generated characters for your game. If you wish to allow players to bring their own characters to the game then this is fine but we’d recommend working on the assumption that players will need you to provide them with characters and character sheets.
You can add files and links to the text channels for each of your games, so if you have pre-generated characters in PDF format you can add them there.
If your game is part of an Organised Play programme please ensure you’re up to date with how each of those programme work with pre-generated characters and other information.
Players in your games will not necessarily be familiar with the game system you are running therefore providing pre-generated characters can be extremely useful.
Find a good location to GM from
We probably do not need to say this, but we are saying it anyway. Try and GM from a room where there is a good internet connection and no external distractions.
We have all played in that online game where one of the players is in the same room as someone watching the TV with the volume set to 11. It is distracting and difficult to play in that environment. Find a quiet and comfortable space to GM from.
Know your running time
AlbaCon time slots are set at 4 hours. That should be long enough for most convention games, however it is a good idea to know the length of your session.
Convention games can be slightly slower than games with a regular group. Often players are presented with a pre-generated character which they unfamiliar with and that can result in things taking a little bit longer.
We have factored in a 1-hour gap between sessions, please try to avoid overrunning into that as players and GMs will need a break between games.
Give everyone time to shine
Online games can often be dominated by more confident and vocal players. This can lead to the other players feeling a bit left out. When players are left out of an online game, often they revert to distractions such as surfing the internet or even disconnect.
Try and keep everyone engaged and make sure to specifically ask each player what their character is doing.
Know that we are grateful for your participation
AlbaCon cannot exist without people like you agreeing to run games for us. We are incredibly grateful that you have given up your time to host a game at our convention.
Furthermore, AlbaCon is a charity convention. Every game you run helps us raise more money for our fantastic partner charity, which this year is “Penumbra” who provide fantastic mental health support across a variety of areas.
Your support of AlbaCon directly allows Penumbra to provide suicide prevention support for teenagers and young adults throughout Scotland. Once again, we thank you for your help to fund raise for this charity.