Still, when I write what I consider to be an amazing blurb for an eight-person event and get two players to sign up, it makes me wonder what went wrong. I'm not really concerned about coming up short of players at NTRPGCon -- those folk show up to play old-school RPGs, and there's seldom an empty chair. It has happened at other shows, both for RPGs and miniatures. I moved beyond agonized "maybe they just don't like me" self-appraisals years ago, but questions remain.
Sometimes the problem is the convention itself. Here in Seattle, at least, we have a few cons where the event-to-player ratio is out of whack; the Pacific Northwest breeds GMs, apparently. You can see this when the program book is filled with events and every table in the gaming hall is in use, but most of them have only two or three players. This is bad for players, GMs, and shows, because no one is having the convention experience they payed for.
That still leaves me with occasions when I wrote ass-kicking event descriptions (IMHO) and wound up with almost empty dance cards. I've concluded
- Seattle is different. This area is a focal point for creative industry and game design, so the GM-to-player ratio probably is actually higher than the national average. The indie game movement is very active out here -- so active that it has game days of its own. They're some of the better gatherings to attend.
- Despite #1, getting people to step out of their comfort zone can still be hard. Many gamers come to a convention hoping to play something just like what they always play, only with the Barnum & Bailey treatment -- lots of miniatures, showmanship, and a big dealers' hall.
- There's no accounting for taste. That mine is different from many people's comes as no surprise.
Game Title : An Emperor's DoomGame System : D&D Basic/Expert
The oracle of Faunus has foreseen a prophecy of doom for Emperor Andronius of Milenia, and the Emperor is none too pleased. As the most valorous of the empire's warriors, you have been chosen to visit the oracle and persuade her to alter the prophecy or, failing in that, to find a way to forestall the doom. Such a thing has never been done before, but the Emperor commanded you to make it so, and so you shall.
Game Title : The Cold DepthsGame System : The Fantasy Trip
The gem mines of Quchu played out years ago and were abandoned by all except a handful of lonely prospectors. Now a reclusive miner has stumbled out of the hills and into your camp with a tale of terrifying visions, monsters crawling up from the deep caverns ... and a sackful of diamonds, emeralds, and rubies. A fortune is there for the taking, for anyone brave enough to risk those cold depths.
In search of greener pastures, Prof. Monkey (your boss) moved the Radium Powered Lab to the other side of the hill. There he found not just greener grass but an entire Ancients agricultural complex. With a treasure like that under his enlightened domination, Dr. Monkey could seriously tackle the job of rebuilding civilization in his own short, hairy image. The only hitch is the current occupants with their dark, disturbing secret. But that's not Prof. Monkey's problem, it's yours.
Game Title : BlueshiftGame System : Star Frontiers
There's little of value at New Vulcan besides the UPF orbital research station. Now the science crew reports that the station is in grave danger -- its orbit is decaying rapidly for an unknown reason. A UPF response team needs to rescue those scientists, save the station if possible, and figure out who or what is behind this mess.