I keep hearing good things about Nascrag, so I thought I might give it a try this year. Looking at all the events, it seems like I can attend any one of The Never Been Tournament events, then if successful, I advance to the final Saturday night? The tournament deluxe is the same event, just with some perqs? How long does the Awards Party go on? I need my beauty sleep. :-)
Definitely worth a try, it is always a unique experience. Based on previous years, you are correct that you attend any one of the tournament events, then go to the final on Saturday night if successful. And yes, the Deluxe (new for the 40th anniversary I think) is described as the same event with some cool 40th anniversary swag etc. the awards party goes late but is great fun. Hilarious presenters and entertainers in between, sense of community, and swag for the winners! Even my early to bed, early to rise teenager stayed for the whole thing last year!
This would be my first Gencon, and in turn, my first Nascrag. I am led to believe they use pre-generated characters. Are they made public before the game, or is it a situation of not knowing what you are getting into until you are there? I can see that a description of the story is given in the events details, but I am a bit unfamiliar with how it all works.
They usually have info posted ahead of time, because that allows people to really get into character. Some folks go all out, with costumes, etc. That works best when you have a complete party made ahead of time, so you can be sure which character you will play. But I’ve had great fun just showing up and playing, even with complete strangers, and even managed to place in the top 8 or so that way and earn some swag.
The deluxe is new this year, so we don't really know what it offers. But just to play, a regular ticket should be just fine. I'm sure many groups will be a mix of regular and deluxe tickets.
The awards party goes late. I am always falling asleep by the end. And it can drag. There's an accordion player who is fun at first but gets old after a couple of songs. But to be fair, they are trying to keep us entertained while they figure out the winners. Evaluating all of the players and teams isn't a fast process. The organizers do their best and it is much appreciated. I do wish that it were a little more of a 'party', where people could socialize and talk while waiting for the announcements. It's more of an 'awards show' where people sit in chairs and wait/watch.
The characters are posted ahead of time on the website, so you have a chance to read them and figure out how you want to play them.
It can be fun. I have played in a few Nascrag games, but I prefer PFS games much more. I am not saying anything bad about them, just that it was not really my cup of tea. My DM just did not seem engaged and they always said it was more role-playing, but it did not feel like it in the games I played.
Additional question - I haven't done many RPG sessions at cons before and while I've heard good things about NASCRAG the tournament style intimidates me from because:
a) that sounds competitive. Not something I'm looking for with my relatively limited RPG experience
b) that sounds like I'm expected to attend multiple sessions- which also isn't something I'm sure I want to do even if I do well.
Are my concerns valid? Should I stick with alternatives?
If you want to try NASCRAG but don't want the competition, try the charity event. As for multiple sessions, even the tournament is just one qualifying session. If you make the finals (which is one additional session) you don't have to show up. Although you would have fun if you did!
I've done the charity event several times and the tournament once. I'm an extremely casual tabletop roleplayer. I've always had a grear time.