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Made in us
Napoleonics Obsesser



I live in a rather remote part of the United States with a small population and a lot of empty space between towns. Locally we probably have about 15K people. That said there is a FLGS and a pretty active local RPG community.

My wife and I talked about possibly running a small, local Con. However, neither of us have ever even attended a Con much less run one. As complete noobs I need some help. Here are some things you may need to know:

1. We are experienced small business owners outside of the gaming sphere
2. We can get space for free from our local church
3. We do not intend to make any money, but would like to not go into debt for this
4. We do not want to get guest speakers or vendors
5. The focus is Tabletop gaming (RPGs, Board Games, Wargames)

So, what is your thoughts about running a Con and where are good resources we can look at and research to help us out?

Do you like Free Wargames?
Made in us
Yellin' Yoof on a Scooter

With a free venue, your costs should be minimal for a small event. Table & chair rental if the church doesn't have enough. Food & drinks (if desired) shouldn't be much to start. Or stick to snacks and allow outside food.

As far as resources, try to get in touch with organizers of all sorts of conventions ie minis, boardgame, rpg etc. HMGS has chapters all over the country. Their conventions run the gamut from large extended weekend events in a convention center to a small 1 day event in a local VFW hall.

I've never run a convention, but think about it often. In my outsider opinion, getting good gamemasters seems to be one of the most difficult tasks.

Good luck!
Made in gb
Fixture of Dakka


If you're not having vendors nor guest speakers what kind of experience are you aiming for at the convention? Since for most convention events vendors and guest speakers are almost the central theme of a convention.

It sounds more like you'd be better thinking of organising a tournament or gaming event night rather than a convention. Since from what you've said it sounds like you'd rather just have people turn up and game. If that's the case then I'd focus on 1 product line that is popular in the area and just hold a tournament event for that.

You can use that to see how things go and how active the community is as well as how much marketing you've got to do to get people aware and turning up on the day.

After that you can start to consider if the community can cope with two or three tournaments at the same day for different game systems etc....

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Androgynous Daemon Prince of Slaanesh

Norwalk, Connecticut

Who are you trying to swindle, and what is your getaway plan?

Oh, a convention? Whoops!

Talk to a school or local place that would let you rent the area out for a minimal fee (let them know if it builds, and they keep hosting, it can really bring in money down the line, if they’re willing to gamble on a single event).
Looks like you got that part down. Try just having a variety of stuff there, contact game companies like FFG, CMoN, Wizards and GW, see if they’ll make a contribution to “swag bags” of a sort. Swag brings people in, and word of mouth will bring in more.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/09/24 20:41:42

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Made in us
Napoleonics Obsesser


Just to be clear, there are no other "Gaming related events" within a 4 hour radius (and probably further as I am being conservative)

In the area, the big games are....

1. D&D- RPG
2. Warmachine- Wargame
3. Magic- Board/card games
4. Anime/COSplay fans- Not a game, but potential attendees anyway

The idea is to get fellow nerds together and expose them to their peers and other nerd options. I would like a more Games Day type experience than a ComicCon type experience.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/09/24 22:11:15

Do you like Free Wargames?
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Willing Inquisitorial Excruciator


As mentioned, talking to your local HMGS chapter might help, or looking at the PAX convention set up. PAX is basically a "bring your own game" and they provide tables and such. They don't actually run anything, but charge for the space, etc.

To start, you could chat with a couple people from each of the big games you mentioned, to see if anyone would be willing to run their own "event" - campaign games, mini tourney, or even a handful of 1 on 1's. If you can get some takers, and they can drum up business, it might be fairly easy, other than the logistics. Of course, you'd have to make it somehow different than going to the local FLGS.

Maybe the local FLGS could be the "vendor" for the event and have a small table or similar? Although that's often a lot of work for the FLGS.

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Made in us
Powerful Phoenix Lord

A couple of ideas:

1) Start small. If the space is free and you only set up 2-10 tables for the first Con, that's probably plenty, particularly if you don't have a ton of events/games scheduled. You might need to sacrifice the first one or two (literally expect a dozen people, lol) if you don't have a big groundswell of support. At least do it anyway, take pics, post it on groups/facebook/blogs/forums to establish that it's an actual thing. Even if it just ends up being you and your personal gaming buddies...make it a "thing".

2) Only proceed if you have a handful of friends or people who are serious about running attractive/fully painted/legitimate games. If a lot of the games are pretty "crap" in presentation it'll kill further interest.

3) You'll pretty much need to have a Facebook group, it's one of the easier ways to organize/spread the word, get an idea of who is actually wanting to attend.

4) Hook up with a charity and do a raffle if you can have some loot on hand, or nicely painted models people are willing to donate - or do a little system I've seen where people can buy "re-roll" tickets for $1 a pop...it's called "Cheating for Charity". You keep the token on hand and surrender it during any game to re-roll a single dice. It's fun and benefits charity at the same time.

5) Gotta have some kind of food on hand, though this can be as simple as someone grilling hotdogs and hamburgers just outside one of the doors. Calculate how cheap you can sell them while making a minimal profit $3 burger, or whatever. Stock up on drinks from a Costco, and sell em for $1-2 a pop, etc. Not egregious but a little extra cash to cover expenses.

6) If you get genuine interest, go around to the local hotels and see if you can get even a token discount with a code or some such.

7) Have some custom Chessex dice or t-shirts printed, some simple swag.

8) Offer a discount or free admission to people who are hosting games. As someone who hosts games at conventions it can be a lot of work...and it's nice to get the $10-20 discount by getting a free ticket (after all, as a game host you're the one providing the entertainment...the con is just bringing tables!)

9) Avoid tournaments. Don't bother with that at all...can ruin the atmosphere unless you have a large venue where they can be sectioned off.

Made in us
Napoleonics Obsesser


Good advice everyone. Thank you.

Keep it coming.

Do you like Free Wargames?
Made in gb
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Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. I was involved in several large events and being organised well ahead with clear lines of responsibilty and a pool of willing minions to help out is important. Having enough tables is also key.

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Powerful Phoenix Lord

I suspect you'd already be far ahead of this, but to add one more point: don't over do it.

If you're a small business person you're probably well aware that many start-up events/businesses/kickstarters shoot themselves in the foot by trying to do a million friggin' things on the first go-round. You won't be running Adepticon...and that's fine. Keep everything well within your scope/budget and leave the gimmicks and madness for later.

Made in us
Napoleonics Obsesser


Good points.

I was hoping to have some food available as the church has a licensed kitchen and my wife is a certified food handler. Like you said, some soft drinks, pre-packaged snacks, and maybe some Hot Dogs.

For games we can probably get about 5-10 tables. Maybe two slots of 2-3 hours at each table, so about 10-20 games maximum.

I can probably get:
-2 RPG One-shots (D&D, Pathfinder)
- 1 Warmachine Demo
- 1 Men of Bronze Demo
-1 Board Game sponsored by the FLGS
- 1 table for CCG players

Beyond that and I have no idea, and to be honest it sounds kind of lame!

However, it is a start.

Do you like Free Wargames?
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Yellin' Yoof on a Scooter

As stated above, you don't have to be all things to all people.

You have time to find more events. To start, 5-10 tables seems like plenty.

3 hr sessions gives you a 7 hr game day (assuming 1 hr break) + setup & teardown.

Have you thought about offering a few tables for a flea market of gaming related items?
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Powerful Phoenix Lord

Yep, the flee market is a good idea. While shop vendors are cool and convenient, I have been to cons where I paid $5 for a 3-4 hour of block of having access to a small circular or picnic table to sell my own used stuff. So if you have some fold-out tables that you're not using for games, this is an easy way to get a little more action happening.

You'd definitely want a few more games. Also make sure to include set up and tear-down in those hour blocks. Even if you have five tables, and run two four hour blocks...that's still up to 20-something people gaming at one time. Remember a lot of people will be happy to pay the admission just to get in, play a game and then wander around and talk to friends, hang out, etc.

Made in us
The Last Chancer Who Survived

Norristown, PA

Long time ago (20+ years) I ran a monthly "game day" at a local hotel. It cost something like $300 for the room, probably a lot more now. But basically I would foot the bill, and then ask the people coming to pay like $10 to get in. I always ended up paying at least half, but it started growing and I think if I kept it going it could have been pretty cool, but I got offered a good job on the other end of the country and had to stop it.

Anyway I think approaching it more as a club than a con might be better. Maybe plan to meet up once every quarter or every other month at first. Also plan ahead and know what games you're gonna be playing and be prepared to supply as much as you can, like if you're doing a lot of 40K, you'll need tables and terrain and don't expect people to bring anything but their armies. Or if you want to focus on board games, bring lots of your own copies that people can borrow for the day.

Made in us
Napoleonics Obsesser


Flea Market/Bring and Buy is a good idea.

Also, good call out on the set-up/tear down.

Do you like Free Wargames?
Made in us
Courageous Questing Knight


In terms of terrain, I've previously let local events have "borrowed" terrain since I was able to furnish out 8 tables at one point. You may have local players with multiple gaming table at their home/if they are going to attend anyway you might be able to get all of the materials you need for the price of a case of beer.

I'm really into terrain. There are a lot of gamers that rarely play and have a plethora of models and tables/terrain

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