Gen Con 2016 - GM'ing with ConTessa

I have just done something totally crazy. I have signed up to GM a game at Gen Con. I will be running No Salvation for Witches from Lamentations of the Flame Princess. I think that going through the process of blogging about my experiences from now until after Gen Con will help me to flush out some of my thoughts and ideas and help me to stay focused while I prepare. Also, it will give me an opportunity to share what it is like to GM for the first time, GM at a con, and GM as a female. I think that might be useful to a lot of people.

Like many of us, I have been playing games for many years. I loved the typical board games as a kid, my best friend Emily and I played Monopoly for days straight in the summers. In university I joined the Games Club at school….I hung out with a lot of people who played Magic instead of going to class. I never played Magic myself because I was afraid I would like it, and then I too would be playing Magic instead of going to class. I enjoyed being part of the club though and spent a lot of time hanging out on the comfy couch in our club room with some fantastic people, but I still never thought of myself as a gamer. Then I met Ray. Ray liked gaming but I don’t think he expressed to me how much he liked it…or maybe I just didn’t understand. I asked him to GIVE AWAY all his unpainted Warhammer miniatures in an attempt too purge “stuff” before we moved into our condo. He must have really liked me because he did it! Slowly but surely games started creeping back into our new life together. First we started to go to friends houses on the weekends to play Cranium and Trivial Pursuit, then we started to expand into new and different games like Killer Bunnies and Munchkins, then we bought Ticket to Ride…then Carcassonne…then we bought Arkham Horror! Yup, we were officially collecting games.

As the years went on we collected more and more board games and card games, then we got into miniatures. I love history so my first year at Gen Con I bought myself some tanks for Flames of War (It was at this point I realized how much Ray gave up for me when he gave away all those Warhammer miniatures all those years ago…..miniatures are not cheap!). Our second year of Gen Con Ray subtly roped me into an RPG. He signed us up for a Scooby-Doo game based on World of Darkness. Who doesn’t like the Scooby gang?? I listed that show as the best show of all time when I was in grade 2, how could I not give an RPG based on Scooby-Doo a try?!? Since then I have played a few RPGs but all in all, role playing is still very new to me. I have to admit, I never, ever, ever, thought I would play an RPG…ever. Boardgames? Yes. Card games? Yes. Miniature games? Yes. RPGs? NO. I just felt like I “wasn’t the type”. I had only ever really heard of Dungeons and Dragons and that conjured up an image of greasy, overweight, nerdy guys in a basement somewhere (yes, I admit that I have been guilty of stereotyping). On top of that, I thought that all role playing games was fantasy-based, and when people talk to me about anything related to fantasy it sounds like they are speaking a different language. Lastly, I just thought it was too much work. Who wants to build a character and have to write “stuff” and play for hours on end….don’t they have better things to do??? Over the past 3 years or so I have learned that I was very wrong in my assumptions. My experience playing Velma in the Scooby-Doo game has since led me to try The Strange, Numenera, Savage Worlds, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, Dungeon Crawl Classics and Pathfinder Society (note that Lamentations of the Flame Princess is not listed here…I will get into that in another post).

A couple of weeks ago Ray told me that ConTessa was looking for female-identified GMs to run games on the Thursday night of Gen Con this summer. I think that ConTessa is a great organization that encourages and supports women to become more involved in gaming. Right off the bat I felt like this would be a great environment in which to try GM’ing. In a way it feels like signing up to GM was a crazy, spur of the moment decision but when I really think about it, I think it was a long time in the making. I was just waiting for the right time and the right venue. ConTessa allowed us,the GMs, to select any gaming system that we wanted. I liked that because it gave me the opportunity to choose a game that truly excites me. I don’t feel like I’m boxed into something that I may not like, and I’m not being told what I have to run or how to run it. I also like the fact that the players will be coming into the event knowing that the games will be run by women, and that for many of the women GM’ing will be a new experience. I am looking forward to the supportive and FUN atmosphere. I also want to support ConTessa, and encourage other women to get out and game. Gaming is for everyone!

Now that I have officially signed up to run a game I am truly terrified, but in a good way. This will be such an interesting experience and I think it will only make me stronger in so many ways. I have just under 5 months… where do I begin….