Greetings fellow Genconers! I and four close friends attended Gencon for the second time this year. Our first year we came up for just one day, and scheduled no events in advance. As such we spent all of our time doing demos and perusing the vendor hall. This year we came for two days, and scheduled 2 events on each day. We have gone from 1 extreme of not scheduling anything to another of over scheduling ourselves in the day. Moving forward I think we will be a little more judicious in how we schedule our time, but to be frank, we are a little gun shy about how to move forward. The reason for the apprehension is that we had a mixed bag of experiences from the GMs running the games we signed up for. While there as a group we played (not every player participated in every session):
-A Call of Cthulu game the player said was one of the worst RP experiences of his life.
-A Pulp Cthulu game where the GM had never run Pulp before and had admitted to barely skimming the rules. The session played as a regular Cthulu game and was not as advertised.
-A L5R game that was run well, no complaints.
-A Shadowrun game that was well run mechanically, but the collective agreement from the table was that it was boring, anticlimactic and felt as though we were playing a game of "guess what the GM is thinking".
-We participated in NASCRAG where we were impressed with the overall organization and handouts but the game was advertised as Pathfinder 1st edition, and it clearly was not. It was based on Pathfinder. On top of that our GM did a good job of being engaging with the box text and getting us through the adventure, but was dead pan through the rest of it. I personally was OK with our GM, but the other 3 people in our group were not.
-A Star Trek game that ended up being the highlight of the weekend, by far our best gaming experience. However, that is because the GM of the Star Trek game had a friend step in for him to run the game. The guy that was supposed to GM the adventure admitted he had not read the adventure he was supposed to run. He ended up playing in the game with us instead of running it. It became clear within the first 30 minutes he did not understand even the basics of the Star Trek system. I am thankful that he abdicated to his friend who provided us with a great experience, but it illustrated clearly how differently that experience could have gone.
I post this with the hope of getting some guidance on how to better schedule events next year if possible, particularly with finding quality games/GMs. I think we are planning on trying to extend our trip to include Thursday next year. I doubt we will schedule ourselves to do two role playing sessions each day of the event we are there. But one friend in particular is considering not going whatsoever after his experience this year, and if he does go doubts it will be worth it to schedule any games. I know that our experience is just one among many. I am certain there are people out there who came away with several game sessions that were the highlight of their gaming careers, I just want to be able to improve our Gencon experience next year if possible.
Thank you and have a great day.