Considering running FotF at a con in February.

Considering running FotF at a con in February.

Considering running FotF at a con in February.

4 hour slots there.

Should I go all out, and go without a plan and allow the players to create characters and create the world together?

Or should I instead have a scenario in mind?

I will have run a couple of straight DW games at cons by then; any thoughts on special considerations for FotF?

9 thoughts on “Considering running FotF at a con in February.”

  1. Okay Chris Shorb, here are some thoughts:

    1) Make sure everyone knows what they’re getting into. In the convention listing and at the table, just be clear about the random and potentially deadly nature of Freebooters — players have limited control over the kind of character they’re going to play, and they should prepare to play smart or get killed (although in reality the 10+/7-9/6- mechanic makes Freebooters much more forgiving then OD&D). Make sure everyone’s cool with some PCs being evil, in case some PCs turn out evil. If that seems to be an issue, just let people choose alignment.

    2) Absolutely have them roll characters. I think the sense of personal ownership is a really important hook. Even if they’re just rolling dice instead of carefully crafting their characters, they will have the sense that their pathetic scrappers are their pathetic scrappers. I really think this is crucial. And I also really think they should roll dice with their hands, not dice rolling apps or digital character creators. Consider printing out multiple copies of pages 5-9 of the Freebooters rulebook so each player can refer to it, then take them through each step all together so they can be rolling and filling in their playbooks in parallel. If you sense any fence-sitters who balk at the idea of a random character, let them choose class, heritage, and alignment, but don’t budge on the other stuff. Keep the Magic-User spell list Judge-side so the Magic-User (if there is one) rolls dice and you tell her the resulting spell names. I think that’s more fun, and easier for you to parse anyway since you’re more familiar what the structure of that table.

    3) Consider starting them off at level 3, so they get a few more hit dice, 1 point to add to 1 ability score, and 1 advanced move from their playbook. This makes them a bit more durable, and they get an increased sense of ownership by picking that advanced move. If you would rather they start at level 1, have some pre-generated followers on hand, hired hands that will join them on their adventure, ready to Rise to the Occasion if a PC dies. 1 follower per 3 PCs is a good rule of thumb.

    4) Do not let them go shopping. Have them make the gear picks noted in their playbooks, but then just give them a list of gear that you make up ahead of time, and let them divvy it up as they see fit. For extra fun, give it to the character with the highest Charisma, and have them assign it without anyone else’s input.

    5) If you run it tight, you can get through character creation in 30 minutes. In a 4-hour con slot, you could spend the next 30 minutes making the world collaboratively, and have 3 hours to play out the session. This is doable, using procedure described on pages 12-13 (“See the Frontier”) and keeping everyone on task, as long as you have 4 or fewer players. If you have 5 or 6 players, and/or if character creation takes much more than 30 minutes, skip world creation.

    6) If you create the world collaboratively, start them off in the wilderness, halfway between their home settlement and whatever site their chose as their expedition goal. If you’re going to go to the trouble of collaborative world-building, getting a taste of that world is pretty important, and a little wilderness travel is the best way to get that taste. Ask some of them to describe different aspects of the region, then play out the rest of the journey across that region to the dungeon. If they encounter a Danger, play it out, but don’t throw more than 1 Danger at them. If you don’t do world creation, start them off at the entrance to the dungeon.

    7) A copy of Dyson’s Delves I or II ( is great to have on hand for improvising dungeons. If you skip the world-building step and want to go with a pre-made dungeon, I’ve found it pretty easy to run old-school modules to good effect.

    Oh, and you’ve probably already seen it, but John Aegard’s “Dragon-slaying on a Timetable” ( is essential reading for running DW at cons. Freebooters works slightly differently, because the emphasis is on survival and looting over being a bad-ass hero, but a lot of his ideas apply. His index-cards-as-map approach is particularly useful, since it can make adding things to the map easier.

  2. Chris Gardiner, I am biased toward flesh and blood and analog accessories when playing face to face with people, so take my advice with a grain of salt. When creating characters, I think you get more of a sense of ownership and connection rolling a handful of dice vs. tapping a button on an app.

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