JP On Gaming

Friday, August 12, 2011

Organizing at your local game store

This morning, I was asked how to start a Pathfinder group in a new store. The store, I was told, is a 4e-only shop with owners that do not seem to know that there are other games out there. They referred to Pathfinder as a specialty game, which brought a chuckle to my lips.

I have always been a strong supporter of public games. Playing in public brings immediate recognition to what you are doing.

Let me use war games as an analogy. Why does everyone know that Games Workshop is controlling the market? It’s certainly not because of their customer-friendly marketing or wallet-approved pricing.


It’s because you can see 40k/Fantasy Battles players at almost any shop.

Seeing people play makes it easier to rationalize the expense to collect/ research/ buy/ paint/ play the game. Since others are doing it, it must not be too bad. Plus you get to spend time with fellow geeks and nerds.

Same is true for tabletop RPGs.

If they see it, they will come.


Now many of you are already groaning and arguing with me mentally.

Get together three or four players, so you have the core of a table to play, and recruit people on-site. The reason for this is to ensure that you don’t stand alone in a corner looking for people. I’ve done it before and didn’t like it (though I usually managed to get a game going). Putting up your game material (screen, books, map grid and minis) and having people sitting at your table is a big draw.

Work with your game store. Unless they are complete idiots, they will be happy to work with you in getting an event together. After all public events mean people walking in; which has a good chance of translating into sales. Local stores are generally the best PR you can get as they meet people you don’t know.

Be willing to take a minute or two to talk to walkers-by your goal being to build and set up a group, walk-ins may have missed the start of the game, but taking a minute to talk to them will frequently get them excited about the game and makes them feel like you want them. Nothing worse than a dismissive GM.

It’s a public event I know I have to say it… I know your basement is better: you can play with the light, have mood music, have a collection of minis that could fill most people’s apartment. But this is a public event. You will not be alone. There will be noise. There will be distractions. It won’t be perfect, but it will help you get set up.

Lay it on thick Really. Go all out with your GMing. Don’t hold back. It will make a much bigger impression on people if you really RP well and run the event big. Have fun with it, make a splash.

Be consistent At least for the first few events, make sure YOU show up. Be on-time, ready to go and don’t cancel every week because there is a Twilight Zone marathon on TV or you haven’t seen the SyFy disaster movie playing in 1h. Be there and run the event. There will be times when attendance will be low such as when great movies are out, when it’s nice outside, when school is in/out, when people have vacation. People have a lot reason why they can and can’t attend. That’s part of the cycle. It will pick up. If you do it as a one-off and stop, you will fail.

So there you have it. My own guide to starting your own Pathfinder Society group – though it could be applied to any organized play campaign.

Remember it’s up to YOU to set this up, not someone else.


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