The King is Dead: Convention Game Planning

For those new to the blog, The King is Dead is my setting of revolution in an 18th century ruled by vampires. In less than two weeks, I’ll be running a series of The King is Dead games at GaMExpo. San Antonio’s new gaming convention. It’s been a few years since I’ve run games for strangers, so I need to psych myself up and figure out what I need to bring.

The single most important element I need to bring is pre-gen characters. I can improvise a hell of a lot, but not character sheets. Thankfully, the work I’ve completed so far on The King is Dead includes a bunch of pre-generated characters, so I really just need to assign Hindrances and think up some names and backgrounds. Right now, I’m debating with myself whether to illustrate the characters with period illustrations and portraits, or to use stills from movies. Given the Hollywood History approach I’ve taken to the setting, I feel that the movie stills might be the best bet.

(I can’t see how there would be anything unethical about that, especially if I include credits for what film the picture comes from.)

Hmm… I realize that I could also use characters from the Assassin’s Creed series. The advantage there would be reusing the pictures to make some custom figure flats, too…

(I don’t want to use the awesomely-appropriate plastic minis from my A Touch of Evil sets because I’d be really mad if I lost any. Perversely, I’m tempted to bring the actual game boards in lieu of a map.)

Hmm… I have pre-gens already built for every secret society, but should I bring pre-gens for every secret society? Some of the mechanics and concepts are more challenging than others…

I’ve got bennies (a bunch of plastic bats) and my awesome Venexiana Dark playing cards.

Even though I prefer “cinema of the mind” combat, I feel like I should use battlemats to get across the full Savage Worlds experience; I’ve got a few, but I wonder if I need to print up some more. I have a large tavern, a brothel with a hidden room, a marsh or moor, a forest, a country inn, a toll booth, and some assorted wilderness stuff. I suppose that I need a proper manor of some sort. I need to check out the printing options for FedEx Office; I wonder if it would be more economical than printing at home.

I can always reskin existing monsters or improvise bad guy stats in Savage Worlds, so I don’t have many worries there. All I need for the plots are outlines; TKiD is intended to foster player agency so I want to encourage the players to concoct their own strategies to take on the bad guys and not straightjacket them with too many plans of my own.

Hmm… I’m not sure that a convention is the best place to demonstrate the secret society mechanics – then again, I work best under pressure, so deciding to use those will probably prompt some great inspiration. I’ll have to think about that.
And I just got off the phone with Robin. She thinks we should do a setting handout – and that we can easily put one together from existing material. That’s actually a really good idea. 
So, priorities are: 
  1. Work up at least 6 pre-gens at four different Ranks.
  2. Prep a setting handout.
  3. Manufacture custom paper minis or make peace with possibly losing some plastic ones.
  4. Have a manor map printed.
Ok, I can do all this in just over a week.


  1. Setting handout is critical if you want them to get the setting experience. Can't play without pre-gens so you're right there. I'd avoid secret society mechanics unless that is something that should come up in any session of your setting. In that case, make sure the pre-gens aren't in instant conflict with each other because of the secret societies... it will either derail everything or be ignored in favor of party unity, especially among strangers at a con. Why different ranks for the pre-gens? Are you unsure what you want to run them at? If there is a chance of players unfamiliar with SW, keep the pre-gens low ranked so there aren't too many edges, etc. to have to look up or get the player familiar with. I generally spell out edges, hindrances, gear/weapons, and powers explicitly on a pre-gen sheet for a con to minimize anyone having to look up anything. Something else I seed by con games with are secrets that a player only gets to see after they've picked their character. it might be a secret possession or secret goal (plays into your secret society thing barring my point above).

    1. The incredibly stupid idea I'm attempting is basically telling a whole campaign in four sessions. The pre-gens will advance from Novice to Heroic (I'm doing all the advancing) as they move from fighting low-level pseudo-vampires to an actual vampire lord. It's very dumb and way too ambitious, but I'm doing it anyway. :)


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