A Short Guide to Being a Great Game Master
If you are here, then you are interested in running one or more games at the Draconis festival. We thank you for this! This guide describes what you should prepare, the submission and registration process, and how the game will unfold at the festival.
To submit a game to the festival, you will need to prepare a scenario. We recommend pre-generating characters to make everything easier and maximize the game time. You should also be able to provide everything necessary to play depending on the edition of the festival you are thinking of participating; in person or online. This includes, for example, dice, pens, paper, a virtual tabletop, illustrations and maps.
For the Draconis festival, a good scenario needs to last between 2 and 4 hours maximum. Also, it should be a self-contained story.
When preparing your scenario, remember that the players may not know your system and may not even have much experience with role playing games in general. (Imagine having the privilege of introducing someone to the hobby!) Therefore, the story shouldn’t be too complex or require special knowledge, unless you indicate so in the description
Also, please refrain from controversial subject matters such as any form of abuse, torture, sadism, explicit sexuality, etc. Remember that you will be playing with strangers, not personal friends, and such subjects may make your game uncomfortable for some. Also, the festival is a family event, so even if your game is listed as 18+, we cannot prevent younger people signing up when the festival is online and when the festival is in person, children may wander by your table at any time.
If you absolutely must broach a sensitive subject in your story, say so explicitly in your description. For an in-person edition of the festival, we encourage you to request a private room. Ultimately, we reserve the right to refuse any scenario we feel is inappropriate for the event.
For more information on how to create a scenario for a convention, you can check out this podcast episode (in french).
When the game submission period starts, we will share a link to a form on our social media, website and Discord server.
The form will ask to include an image along with a description of your scenario. This material is what will draw players to your game, so make sure it is as eye-catching and exciting as possible.
When the festival occurs in person, and your scenario requires a certain ambiance (isolation, silence, darkness, etc.), you may request a private room via the form. We have a limited number of these rooms, however, so please justify such a request.
When the festival occurs online, and your scenario requires the use of a virtual tabletop, we ask you to provide the corresponding link in the form.
Unless your scenario is judged unacceptable, it will be offered at least once during the festival. If you wish to offer more than one game session with the same scenario, please mention it in the form.
To create a balanced schedule for the in-person edition of the festival, we reserve the right to schedule your game in the time slot of our choosing. Please let us know when you will be present during the festival in the form. However, the fewer constraints we have in scheduling, the greater variety of games we can offer to players at all times during the event.
When the festival occurs online, we want to emphasize our panel programming. That’s why we are trying a new way to submit games based on “first come, first serve”. You will be able to choose the date and time of your game among a limited number of time slots.
Game registration is done on the Warhorn platform; an event management website for gamers. When the game registration period starts, we will share a link to the Warhorn event on our social media, website and Discord server.
As a GM, you must create an account on Warhorn (if you have not already done so), register to the next festival’s event, and sign-up as GM for each of your games.
Please don’t panic if your game doesn’t fill up in the first week. Lots of people will discover the festival throughout the game registration period. Ultimately, if you don’t have enough players for your game, we encourage you and your group to join up with other incomplete tables.
When the festival occurs in person, players can register to games on-site at the festival. We have observed that around 30% of registration occurs on-site by unregistered players, so an empty table can quickly fill up at the last minute.
During the festival
Each game session will be assigned to a table number. We ask that you arrive at your table 10 minutes prior to the start of the game.
When the festival occurs in person, the table number represents a physical table at the site of the festival. If your table isn’t full, you will be provided with an object to signal to uncommitted players that you have space available.
When the festival occurs online, the table number represents a voice channel with the same name on our Discord server. You must use that voice channel for audio. For the rest, you can use the text channel of the same name; it is possible to roll dice over there using Discord bots. If you mentioned a virtual tabletop in the form, you can use that instead of the text channel.
At the beginning of your game
Before starting to play, make sure to discuss with your players about any sensitive subject to avoid. Present all safety tools players can use so they can be at ease. Draconis provides an X-Card for all game tables, but you can also use any other tool you like.
In person, the provided X-Card is a physical card marked by an X, placed on the table, and that anyone can touch with their hand.
Online, the provided X-Card is a sound effect that can be played by writing the following command in the text channel of the table.
Ultimately, this shouldn’t be an issue if you avoid the controversial subject matter as described earlier, or at least make it explicit in your game description. Remember that you’re playing with strangers, all with different expectations and experiences.
During the game
Be enthusiastic and keep encouraging your players! Your energy will be contagious and will help them get into your story.
After the game, don’t hesitate to ask for feedback. This will help you improve the scenario next time you run it, as well as improve your game mastering all together.
On that note, thank you again for your part in making the Draconis festival a success, and we hope you have a great time!