Tweaking Adventures for Conventions

Are you like me and enjoy running RPGs at conventions? Do you run an ongoing campaign?

If so, here is an idea. Take adventures written for your campaign and modify them into one shots. I myself do this quite often and have had great success doing so.

We all have busy lives but at the same time love gaming and storytelling as Game Masters. We spend hours of our free time creating worlds and exciting adventures for other gamers to explore and conquer. If you run a campaign and like to run one-shots for players at game conventions or maybe run them for players that are just getting into RPGs, why not make it easy on yourself and use adventures from your ongoing campaign, modifying them into one shots?

It's easy to do. Just change the reason the PCs are together and/or where they are headed. The bulk of the adventure can stay the same. But you will need to create a new setup and most likely alter the end to give the players a sense of closure.

With one-shots you are limited for time; usually you only have a four hour time slot to get everything in. That includes rules explanation, players picking characters, story set up and the adventure. Four hours may seem like a lot but believe me the time goes by quickly. I suggest not taking too long on character back stories. It may be cliché but there is nothing wrong with starting with, “You are all in the Prancing Pony Tavern”.

I will generally just tell player to “come up with a quick back story; you can all know each other or none of you know each other, whatever you all want to do”. This, to me, is one of the fun parts of running one-shots: watching the players figure out why they are there, which PCs already know each other, and how all the little details fit together.

Running games at conventions for people you do not know at all can be quite different than running for close friends, but I have found it to be very rewarding. It can also be a challenge dealing with unfamiliar personalities and playing styles from new players; however, I believe it will make you a better GM.

A big change I have recently made at conventions is eliminating the use of minis and grid maps altogether. One of the games I run the most is Deadlands: Reloaded (ok so it’s not really an OSR). In the campaign, myself and the players enjoy using miniatures and maps with blast templates and things like that. Bringing all of that to a convention and setting it up can be a hassle. Also, there is too much time spent setting or drawing maps and I’ve noticed players cannot seem to keep their eyes off the miniatures. All that takes away from role playing.

Last convention I decided to leave all the extra stuff behind and just run the game. I could not have been happier with the results. The players had a great time - probably even a better experience without the extras.

One last thing that I already touched on. Make sure you end the game giving the players closure. An adventure I ran in my campaign that I converted to a one-shot had a very different ending. In the adventure, the big bad, Clinton Dutch was basically going to destroy an entire town for his own personal gain. In the campaign, he cast invisibility on himself and was able to escape. This was fine for an ongoing story, as it can just set up future exploits. For a one-shot this would be a terrible ending. Either Clint would have to die or the PCs would have to die trying to get him.

The big exciting finish is the last thing the players will remember. Most likely their feelings on the session will come from the finish. So make it big, bad, and fun. Either the PCs save the world or they blow it and the world is doomed. Give them something they will remember!


Authored by Matthew McHale
Host on Not Just Another Gaming Podcast:


Readers' Rating: