Three years ago, Neil of Old Scouser Roleplaying blog fame found himself going to be in Manchester all day with time to kill so he organised a mini-convention of roleplaying games. Since then there have been more iterations, the latest – due to the global pandemic – all run online. This Saturday saw the sixth of these, and the third in which I have participated. I have fond memories of my first, a weekend visiting friends in Manchester and then running a mash-up of Star Wars and Casablanca for a mostly-bewildered group who had never seen the film. Last summer, I offered “sonnetpunk” Shakespearean D&D online. Both times, I also had great fun playing classic RPGs with great GMs.
This event saw me running Modiphius’ Klingon Empire RPGs, with a crew of Klingons hunting a Federation “Flying Dutchman” ghost ship. I felt this game really landed – my fourth convention game as GM, my second run online. Reflecting, I think I have learned a lot from experience over these games. Pacing, structure of session. Not over-preparing or trying to deliver too much. Putting interactive activities in early in the session to engage the participants, rather than later when you may already have lost their attention. All things which have applied to my teaching, in person and online. Once again, those similarities and transferrable skills between teaching and GMing show up.
I had a great crew of Klingon players to work with, They embraced their roles and feedback showed they liked the narrative and felt we had created a story that would not have been out of place in a Star Trek film or show. Matthew, Shane, Neil, David and Ozzy brought glory to the Empire and honour to their houses.
The afternoon game I played in was a delightful return to a game I’d played a lot many years ago, Middle Earth Role Playing (“MERP”). Thanks to Dave who ran it, and another great group of players, we had fun with a system which by contrast with the narrative-led modern Star Trek game showed its age in its rules-heavy simulationist “crunch”, but which was no less entertaining and was in its way a good fit for Tolkien’s detail- and lore-heavy world.
A day which saw some seventy people come together to socialise and enjoy a shared hobby, in a way we would all have loved to experience face-to-face but which worked and brought much joy even online. Perhaps some people were even able to attend a virtual con who wouldn’t have been able to in person. I certainly met one of my longstanding online friends to speak to for the first time in fifteen years when he played in my game.
Thanks again, Neil, on behalf of the players and GMs. You’ve not just organised some events, you’ve built a community.