I honestly can not remember the last time I ran an RPG session in a gaming store, but I’ll bet it was the first couple of sessions of the game that evolved into my “home” gaming group that has been going strong the last nine years. Those game sessions were like first dates: trying to figure out whether you liked this person(s) well enough to have them into your home.
Last Saturday I volunteered to run a gaming session at a store in Missouri as part of a fundraiser for a non-profit I support. I was tasked with doing a one-shot session for about five people who would have little to no experience with D&D and likely not know each other. Challenge accepted.
Because it was a little last-minute, I ran the first adventure I did for my second gaming group, “The Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs” by Raging Swan Press, which is a simple, straightforward micro-sandbox featuring three tombs, each thematically designed around rules mechanics (battled the undead, locating and disarming traps, and tackling a single boss monster). In the roughly three to four hours of playing time, the group of pre-generated PC’s managed to clear two of the three tombs, with each tomb only having two or three encounters in them.
But on a personal note, I had a blast. It was a refreshing change to place to game with new personalities and playing styles. Two of the players were young adults who were suffering through a campaign back home being run by a novice GM who was being bullied by one of his or her players. They had no idea what a group of players there to support each other and the story felt like. Another player had never been a part of an RPG session ever, but on the way out purchased a set of dice to use in future games. The other two players said they wished that the game could continue.
All of which was a huge ego boost, needless to say. I too was sad that I couldn’t continue their adventures, but was glad to give them a great experience (and all for a good cause). I have largely avoided running games in stores for various reasons, but this experience may change my mind on that.
Coming soon: some thoughts on adventure design based on this post.