* Image Credits at bottom
I am happy to report that Scrum Con happened, last Saturday, at Davis Hall, College Park, Maryland.
Attendance was sold out a week ahead of the date, and adjusted a little with a couple of last minute cancellations and a couple of walk ins. Davis Hall is a medium sized meeting room in College Park, used by the municipal authorities apparently, and I had never been there prior to this event. It was full up, to be sure, but not too crowded. We provided a lunch at reasonable price to mitigate any mid-day exodus in search of fast food, and that proved to be reasonably popular. We even had vegetarian options! Yeah, that’s right, we’re hip! We also had coffee and bagels for GMs in the morning, which is more than I ever got at any convention.
ScrumCon was conceived as a fair play, equal ground concept for both RPG and tabletop miniature games. It was built that way because, frankly, that’s what the Second Saturday Scrum Club likes to play. So there were equal parts roleplaying and tabletop skirmishing going on all day, in an AM and PM slot. I really enjoy the inclusion of RPGs and Tabletop Games.. I haven’t blogged about it much but I’m definitely getting a jones to try D&D again in my advanced years, and ScrumCon had me contemplating how to scratch that gaming itch.
I was hugely impressed how this came together with what Scrum Club alpha dog Joe Procopio refers to as “the guerilla approach”. I thought it might be tough to get volunteers to run games, that proved to be no sweat whatsoever, just using social media and a few fliers here and there. Neil Carmichael, Buck Surdu, Joey McGuire, Eric Schlegel, Scrummer Steve Braun, Ed Watts, and Kelly Armstrong all stepped up to run miniatures games.. oh yeah, I did too. These GMs are well known in HMGS circles and all have done yeoman duty running games at conventions over the years– I expected these to be well attended, and I wasn’t disappointed. What I didn’t have a scope on was just how popular RPGs would be. Every table, I mean EVERY table that was run (we had one cancellation) appeared full up to me. Scrummer Rich McKee pulled double duty running the STONEHELL dungeon and that was very well received. My son Garrett was in the afternoon session and he had plenty of laughs.
I ran JUNKWAFFEL: THE SOUTHERN CROSS. This is another running of Mad Maximilian 1934, a game I’ll probably keep in the repertoire as I have been having a lot of fun with it. After running the game at Fall IN! in 2018, I noticed a kind of runaway effect that was going on. The cars that were actually treating the game as a race were getting far ahead, while all my other players were concerned with BSU* activities (blowin’ sh*t up). To foster greater interactivity between players, I modified the course from a long staggered O shape to a looping X shape, like an infinity symbol. That was exactly what the doctor ordered. It was a bloodbath pretty much from Turn one.
Racers were divided equally among two starting gates. The players were tasked to turn right or left at the Devils Stones, Cross to the far side of the board, go through the gates there and reverse that course coming back, forming a rough figure 8 as mentioned. Predictably, guns started firing almost as soon as they were out of the gate!
I’ve kind of given up on enforcing a race to be a race. Let anarchy reign! Wheeeeeee!
I had a great time running this, and my players appeared to enjoy themselves. Bonus.
I worked the front desk for the second half of the convention (not that much was happening there), but I did get a chance to mill around and see what was happening in the second shift. RPG games were strong, and a whole lot of people I don’t know were laughing, yucking it up, having a blast. That gives me a small sense of accomplishment.
So how did it play out? I could say, “hey, a lot of people got together, we sold out, the place was full, and we all played some great games and had fun”.. all that is true and not to be discounted. That’s what we wanted to achieve. We did that. We want to put on ScrumCon 2 now. We are encouraged. Me, I was impressed about the 1) relative ease it took to accomplish this event, 2) it didn’t require a huge intricate plan, other than a lot of people willing to pitch in. Technology really helps.
I’m happy to report that life is full of new tricks to teach old dogs. I have put on a few gaming conventions in my life time, starting with NOVAGcons back in the day, and our well intentioned TRIADCON experiment, plus a few dozen HMGS conventions under my belt in almost every capacity you can imagine. All great experience, but it kind of makes you cocky, you know? “A convention? Hah, I can do that!” Well, yeah, maybe at a certain scale, but I was not prepared for how different, and in many ways, how much better and easier it can be to put on (and market) a smaller show in modern times.
First of all, I can’t say enough good things about the website Tabletop Events, which was what we used for top to bottom event management. I don’t know enough about how the mechanics behind the curtain work (yet) but I do have a very painful memory of all the work put in doing registration, events management, ticketing, and reservations for larger scale events, using other, more labor intensive. This is not a slag on HMGS, btw, I am greatly impressed with the current registration system. Still, it took many years of painstaking work to get there. So to start with a system specifically designed for a gaming convention, which can scale upward easily, incorporate a multiple room layout (like GaryCon and 1D4Con) and generate table by table rosters (no tickets!), for as cheap as they made it, well, that’s a huge step forward. HUGE. We also kept track of stuff in Google Docs, which some of us couldn’t access during the day, but it worked at night. So file sharing was relatively straightforward.
Marketing .. we had bigger plans– in particular I wanted to put together a Youtube spot with a low cost voice talent. I didn’t end up doing that because of some things that took priority around the turn of the year. It turns out we didn’t really need it, selling out a week before the event. Getting the word out was not exactly EASY, as it wasn’t a one and done activity.. constantly posting in blogs, Instagram, Twitter, social group (Yahoogroups, etc) and Facebook did most of the job for us. I am impressed by that. We did do flyers, and I dumped a few at the Games Tavern and other places (especially Fall IN) but I’m not sure what the payoff was for those.
In the end, even if I do think we’re a tad grandiloquent, I’m glad I met these guys and we could get together to work on this kind of event. It was a real pleasure.
On to Scrum 2! Hopefully in a larger venue!
See these blogs. Joe’s in particular, has a mega ton of pictures, taken by his mega-talented wife, Ellen Levy
Joe Procopio – Scrum in Miniature: Scrumtacular! A Scrum Con Success Story
John Sears – 1,000 Foot General: Scrum Con 2019 is in the Bag
*Images: Ellen Levy, Joe Procopio, John Sears, Walt O’Hara (thank you for your kind permission)