Each fall, Luke Crane (designer of the "Burning Wheel Fantasy Roleplaying System" and the "Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game") brings RPG players together in New York City for one intense weekend of gaming. The event is called Burning Con, and it is unlike any other RPG convention. In order to attend, players must step up to the challenge of running their own game. What's more, players are limited to running games designed by Crane and his special guests. This year, Vincent Baker ("Apocalypse World") and John Harper ("Danger Patrol") are joining the event, making Burning Con a spectacular celebration of Indie RPG talent.
But one weekend is not long enough to run an extended RPG campaign, and as such, Burning Con attendees will have to run one-shot scenarios. With that in mind, Luke Crane has taken to the Burning Wheel Blog and provided attendees with some sharp advice on crafting RPG scenarios.
Among some of Crane's tips, he recommends "at least one twist—something new that changes the starting dynamic—but not more than three." This is sage advice for a GM who needs the ability to mold his game into a four hour convention slot, giving them the tools to keep the game fresh is players accomplish goals quickly, or push events to a natural conclusion when time is of the essence.
It may not seem like much, but what makes this short list of advice worth sharing is that it's important not just for Burning Con attendees, not just for Burning Wheel players, and not just for GMs running one-shots. It's pertinent information that will help any RPG player, regardless of system, to up their game. Click it, read it, and learn it.
The list of advice goes on, and also includes a brief "what not to do" primer, but perhaps the most important bit is to be confident in your scenario and your skills. "Players are sitting at your table because they’re interested in your vision. Impress them," Crane states.
The RPG hobby is only as healthy as the current crop of confident and capable GMs willing to run games, so here's to hoping that Burning Con's mandatory-GMing turns some talented but reluctant players into better GMs. A beginner's track debuting this year may do just that, as Crane is offering a one-day bootcamp to get new players running their own games by the con's second day.
Crane's knowledge of RPGs extends well beyond his own systems, and if this taste has made you hungry for more, I recommend seeking out a copy of the "Adventure Burner" supplement to "Burning Wheel", which was a tome of universal roleplaying advice published back in 2010. It's out of print now, but well worth the effort to track down.
The third annual Burning Con will be held this weekend in NYC, but unfortunately registration is already closed. On the plus side, you now have plenty of time, and ample guidance, to help work out your scenario for 2013.