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About this blog

A blog dedicated to sharing experience and advice among Narrative Event Organizers in general and the Coalescence global narrative event on 10 June 2017 in particular.

Entries in this blog

How to NEO

If you're signed up to run your own Coalescence event on June 10th then you should have seen the first part of the event pack arrive in your inbox. The last page of that document included a graphic with some open space ready to be filled with details concerning the location, start and end times, and how to register for your own local Coalescence event!

Coalescence.jpg.777c38e3369bb373b93bcabc2bb1b90b.jpgOpening the graphic in an editing program and adding some text can provide a great flyer personalized to your particular local event. @Bostian created one for the event he's running at his local public library to share on social media pages to promote and get players planning to attend.

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How to NEO

HobbyHammer has been a significant part of developing and bringing the Coalescence event to the wider community, and we would like to share a recent blog post he published that explains narrative gaming in Age of Sigmar.

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A topic close to my heart, Narrative gaming has of course always been there, through previous editions it has been lost in the aether but has made a huge come back in Age of Sigmar. Games Workshop have really given us an infinite possibility of playing narrative games, campaigns and events and although the priority lately has been on Matched Play, I can really see the more open side of the game making a return...

 

What is Narrative gaming?


In a nutshell, narrative gaming is playing a game that unfolds to tell a story. How this done is completely down to the 2 people playing. From the beginning Games Workshop made it clear that Narrative and Open play was something they wanted to reintroduce, they made a huge leap of faith and released the game with no point values, changed the basing to either not matter, or to base on rounds. This opened Warhammer up to something people had probably not experienced unless they came from a Roleplaying background, or are old enough to remember 2nd edition.
 

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With the release of Age of Sigmar also came the campaign books. Huge (but pricey) books filled with Battleplans (not a new thing, but something that would become prevalent), Battalions - these are ways in building forces to fit a certain criteria and for doing so gave you extra bonuses to your armies, and also overflowing with progressing background. This was, in my opinion a genius idea. Some, well a lot, of people did not like this new direction but for me it freed me. Now, a small disclaimer, I was not a tournament goer, I was very much garage gamer and played previous editions mostly against my brother. We were both very casual and rarely played with points in 8th or before.
 

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With Age of Sigmar, we were free to field what we want with a core of rules that were simply and most of the time brutal on the battlefield. I was so pumped, I started this blog to get my thoughts and logs down for my armies and warbands I was pumping out.
 

The NEO.


A NEO is a narrative event organiser, similar to a TO but more focused on creating Events rather than tournaments. It was a term I jokingly put out on Twitter around 6 months ago when I was preparing for Realm Hoppers as I did not want to call myself a TO. It was adopted by the community rapidly and now is a stuck term, which is awesome. The first, in the UK, independent NEO team were the organisers of Realms at War, this along with its counterpart in America Holy Wars took an approach to gather like minded gamers to play a weekend of story building and campaigns for Age of Sigmar, Ming had also done this at the end of 8th at his Mingvitationals. More and more events are popping up now with a narrative feel and a lot of the 'proper tournaments' are also having some narrative feel overlaid on them.
 

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At the beginning of April 2017, a group of 6 of us in the UK were lucky enough to be invited up by Games Workshop to the Headquarters in Nottingham for 2 days to talk all things narrative and try new things for the future. It really opened our eyes to how Games Workshop want to promote the game. Although Matched Play is currently and probably always will be the default for AoS, narrative is slowly gaining speed, it is things like what Ming is doing for SCGT that could be the first step in more narrative play. The Narrative Hijack is a score sheet/ tick sheet where if you achieve certain objectives in your games, you tick a box. This is as simple as having your General achieving a certain feat or asking your opponent how his story has progressed.
 

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How to Play Narrative.


This is so open. If you want to start playing narrative, then begin by just naming you General and recording his feats in your games. Then move on to coming up with a backstory for the army and the game you are about to play.
 

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Use some of the resources in the Generals Handbook or Campaign Books to add layers onto you games, this could be adding a battalion into your army, or playing a more flexible, story based battleplan. This could be adding some Times of War rules to the games or using some Path to Glory tables to choose a warband. Maybe group some battle plans together with a mate and play a small campaign.
 

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Next you could introduce a more immersive map campaign system (see Generals Handbook) or even playing a Tree campaign in which the result of one battle determines the next battleplan.
 

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There are now 2 main independent full on Narrative Events in the UK, Realm at War in Cambridge (End of October) and Rise of Empires in Margate (February), the hope is for more to emerge. If you get the chance to either or both, do it! It is such a buzz of excitement seeing a story unfold over 1 or 2 days.
 

Coalescence.

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One great way to build the narrative in your scene is to join in on 10th June and either find or run a small narrative event in your area. If you have no idea what Coalescence is, see the blog here. In short, it is a global event that many NEO's around the world, new or veterans, will be running games from a single event pack created by a group of us. The scores in the games will effect an overall narrative for the day.

Find out more at The Warhammer Community Page

Games Workshop is also working hard to introduce more and more narrative ways of playing and the future is bright! How do you play narrative?
 

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How to NEO

You have a date and time reserved at a venue for your event. You have decided if you're going to charge entry fees or not and have set up a system for players to register for your event. You're on your way to running an event. But an important part of planning between now and the date of your event is promotion. It's time to get the word out about your event to draw in players!

Promotion is all about getting event details out to potential players. Telling all the players in your local gaming group is good, but consider the possibility of getting some players to drive in from another town for your event which will help expand the network of players and grow your local community.

Some simple things often work without requiring any expensive advertising:

  • Tell non-gaming friends and family about your event. Although they won't be interested in attending, they may know someone else that might want to participate. They might even know someone that used to play Warhammer years ago but doesn't know about Age of Sigmar or hasn't tried it yet. It's great to get an old player with an army to dust off and join an AoS event.
  • Post on your social media networks. Of course, everyone posts on game forums and Facebook groups, but consider posting on your personal page. Again, you might know someone that knows someone else that you don't, and this is a great way to connect with a gamer that might not follow those same gaming groups.
  • Hang flyers! Sure, hanging flyers at your game club or hobby store might seem old fashioned, but it's still a great way of getting the word out to folks that are interested in gaming. Also, check with local community bulletin boards, like in your public library. Remember to have a way for interested players to contact you to register or even just ask questions.
  • Hand out cards. You don't need to have expensive business cards printed, but if you have a flyer then print some out at several sheets to a page and cut them apart to keep in your wallet or notebook so you can hand out to people you meet that might be interested. A flyer or card can be as simple as the date and time and location of the event. Pictures always make it more interesting but isn't required. You can always print out one of the Coalescence flyers and add the details about your specific event.

The most effective (and inexpensive) means of promotion for an event is by word of mouth. Tell others about your event, giving them the basic details about what it is, where and when. People will ask you for more details if they're interested.

How to NEO

Registration for a small event may seem to be more trouble than it’s worth. If you’re only expecting a few of your usual gaming friends to attend then why bother with formal registration? For an event like Coalescence, or any independent event with online promotion, it’s possible some players beyond your gaming group may decide to drive an hour or more to attend. And without any kind of formal registration you may have many more players than you expected.

More players than you had planned for might sound like a good problem to have, but it can lead to problems like not having enough tables, frustrating players with a feeling of disorganization, or, even worse, violating fire code for exceeding the capacity of a venue.

The best way to plan for attendance is with registration. You can manage registration by keeping a simple list of players. It doesn’t matter if they email you, private message, call you on the phone or tell you in person—if a player indicates an intention to attend then add the name to your list and reply directly with a confirmation of registration.

But for players beyond your group that might read about your event online, like on TGA, provide a clear means for them to register for your event.

Consider creating an email account for your club or event. Creating an event on Facebook, for example, might attract some players that click and indicate they are “interested” or “attending” but may not follow through, so having players register by emailing or using an electronic RSVP is more reliable. Use your club or event name in the email address, and then be sure to post on all future promotion (and on FB event pages) that players should email their registration to that email address. Specify if you want them to include an army list with their registration or if just submitting a name is enough. 

Using a dedicated email account keeps all the registered players in one place and won’t lead to the possibility of registration emails getting lost among all the other email messages in your normal inbox. This will make creating and maintaining your list of registered players easier, and it will also be easier to reply to them.

The benefits of registering players before the event is it helps you keep track of how many players you can expect to attend, so you can plan for how many tables you will need along with terrain. Also, having even a basic registration system provides a sense of professionalism to your event. A player is more likely to drive 100 miles to your event, for example, if that player is confident there is a reserved space; there are few things worse for a player to be told, "Sure, just show up, there will be plenty of room,” and then arriving after a significant drive and a few minutes late to find the event at capacity already and no opportunity to play.

Also, registered players should have priority to play over players that show up at the start of an event. Make sure you accommodate registered players first.

Using registration also makes it easier to communicate with your players about any changes. If something happens an you need to change the venue or start time for some unforeseen emergency (store closing unexpectedly, for example), then you can use your registered player email list to make sure everyone is aware of the changes. Communication is important, and if you keep players connected up to the time of your event then they will feel more confident about attending future events and you will help strengthen your gaming community.

If you reach your attendance limit with registered players then let people know there is a waiting list. Some players may drop out, and with registration they are likely to let you know they can't make it and allow you to contact players on the wait list that places have opened up to allow them to attend.

Main points for how to manage registration:

1. Start a list of registered players. Set up an email account or folder to track players that indicate they plan to attend your event.

2. Be clear in all your promotion about how players can register. Include the email or preferred method for how they can register. Also mention if they should send a copy of an army list to you before the event.

3. Respond! Players want to know that you are expecting them. Sending out a friendly reminder a few days before the event can be helpful and appreciated.

4. Watch your attendance limit! Keep a waiting list if more players try to register. 

Remember, registration is a great way of keeping players informed and excited about your event. It will also help you avoid any headaches involving too many players showing up!

 

 

How to NEO

The NEO team is at work on putting together the final event pack for Coalescence 2017. But, in the meantime, we've asked Jimbo, one of the Narrative Event Organisers behind the Realms at War events and a member of the NEO Network, to share some of his thoughts on creating an Event Pack.

 

Introduction:

 

Whilst it may at first seem that an Event Pack (the ‘pack’) is a load of unnecessary effort that a Narrative Event Organiser (NEO) has to do in order to run an event, it is in fact one of the most vital cogs in the Kharadron mechanisms that make a Narrative Event work.  Having emphasised how important the pack is, I’m going to temper that with another equally important statement; the Event Pack doesn’t have to be long or complicated or even pretty!  The only thing that a pack needs to be is useful.

 

So, what do I mean by this?  Well, if we break down the components of a pack, we can see which bits are crucial, which are helpful and which are, quite frankly, window dressing. But before examining the separate components, it is important to understand the purpose of the pack.  At its core, it is the document that advertises your event and lets potential attendees know what it is.

 

The Essentials:

 

When I’m writing a pack, I always start with The Three Rules of “W’s”; what, where and when.  First of all, I need to tell the players what kind of event I am running.  For example, this could be ‘A One Day three game Warhammer; Age of Sigmar Narrative Event’.  I also need to include the address of the venue where the event will be held, as well as the time and date otherwise I’ll end up alone in an empty room surrounded by unused gaming tables and no one wants that!

 

To be honest, the ‘What, Where and When’ written on a piece of paper or an email is sufficient information to be called a pack!  However, in order to head off the inevitable questions that will arise, I recommend including how much the event will cost (if anything) and contact details in case of further queries.  My personal preference is to provide my twitter handle but an email address is always handy for long winded questions too. 

 

At this stage, we have a fully operational Event Pack!  The players know the ‘What, Where and When’, they know how much it will cost and how to contact me in case they need additional info.  So what more can we include in the pack to flesh it out?

 

The Optionals:

 

In this section, I’m going to discuss, in no particular order, various different optional extras which can be included in a pack.  None of them are essential but they all help to further inform the attendees about the event and also start creating some semblance of the narrative element.

 

The simplest way to start creating a narrative setting is to give your event a name.  Titles such as ‘Battle for the Ur-Gold Cache’ or ‘March of the Gargants’ immediately tell a mini story about your event.  The reader will know that the event will be something along the lines of either searching for Ur-Gold or fighting off Gargants.

 

If you want to take this a bit further, think about adding a background for the event.  This should set the scene for the event.  Perhaps a few short paragraphs describing the precursors to the first battle - think about why the armies may be fighting at all, why they may be in this particular location or time or even what significance the object(s) they are fighting over.  You could even set the event as a small part of one of the battles described in the official Games Workshop Age of Sigmar novellas.

 

Some NEO’s like to introduce some extra rules specific for their event.   This can be because they want to try to bring some internal balance to certain warscrolls, to encourage certain styles of play or army selection or even to guide players along a storyline.  These house rules are colloquially known as ’comp’ and if you decide to enforce some additional rules, it's always best to let the players know before the event so they fully understand how you expect them to play and how you will be judging any rules queries

 

Wargaming is hard work and your attendees will need refreshment and sustenance!  How can you plan your next move when you got an empty stomach or a dry mouth? Providing food and drink can be difficult to organise so is not normally expected however it is a good idea to let your attendees know what will or will not be provided and if they are allowed to bring their own.  This is especially important in relation to alcohol - be mindful of any legal restrictions of the provision or consumption of alcoholic beverages.

 

I mentioned letting the players know where the event is located but it's worth remembering that some attendees could be making quite a long journey to come to your awesome event and may not know the local area very well. This is why I always like to include a map showing where the venue is and also, to be extra helpful, where the nearest parking is located.

 

Although the story should always be the winner in a narrative event, it's good to let the attendees know if there will be prizes and what they will be awarded for.  The obvious first, second and third place can encourage a more competitive style of play so how about awarding best army, best sportsmanship, best dressed or Loudest Waaagh for example.  The wording of the award should make it clear what it is for; Best Army usually includes theme, coherency and presentation not necessarily the best painted!

 

The Unnecessary:

 

Keep the pack concise and only include relevant information.

 

Unless it's required to describe your ‘comp’ don’t include things like the main rules or FAQ’s; referencing them is sufficient.

 

Summary:

 

So hopefully I've provided a few pointers on how to put together a pack for your event.  In reality, there are no hard and fast rules on what has to be included or excluded - all it actually needs to do is explain what your event is and make sure there are no unwelcome surprises or your attendees on the day

 

If you have any pack (or non-pack) queries please hit me up on twitter @jimbo9jimbo . Good luck with your event and I look forward to hearing you bringing the stories to life!

 

Jimbo

@jimbo9jimbo

How to NEO
We intended the Coalescence event to be free, and it is not a traditional tournament with prize support awarded to players for their individual achievements. We hope to help you create a day of fun events that build community and draw new players into the hobby. But we understand that some organizers may need to spend money to secure rental for a venue, for example, so charging a registration fee makes sense to cover those event costs.
 
If you have a local store willing to support your event there may be a tradition to charge fees for tournaments and then use those fees to directly support sales in the store, but then that creates the need to include prizes awarded for player achievements at the end of the event. Designating prizes for a narrative event is a bit trickier than at a competitive event, but it can be done. On the other hand, you may attract some new players without charging a fee, and that, in turn, may bring new customers into the store.
 
Our suggestion is to talk about the event with the store owner and find out their expectations. Let them know that the Coalescence event is being promoted on a global scale, and providing the space on June 10 for you to run your own local event may be a good opportunity for them to attract some new local customers that may return again and again to purchase models and hobby products from their store.

If you decide to use entry fees for prizes then we suggest you announce what achievements will earn prizes but not exactly what that prize will be. You can decide the full extent of the prizes once you've collected the entry fees. Most stores in the United States charge something like $15 for each player for a multi-round, single-day event.

But estimate your expected attendance on the lower side so you can cover costs. If your event fills up to maximum capacity and you end up with extra cash after awarding prizes you can always offer to buy pizza for everyone!

How to NEO

Finding a venue is the most central task of planning for your event. The location where you run the games will determine how many players you can allow to register and if you need to charge an entry fee. If you already have a club space or a friendly local gaming store, the venue may be relatively easy, and you just need to reserve the space, confirm the schedule for you event, and then move onto other planning tasks. But here are some tips for finding an event venue.

CLUB SPACE OR LOCAL HOBBY STORE

  • Confirm date and times with the proprietor.  You may have a couple tables in a local game store where you and some regular tabletop gamers gather every Saturday, but don't assume that space will be available for your event. There can be nothing worse than showing up and expecting to play all day only to realize the store is packed with MTG players on the weekend of a big release. Be kind to your local store proprietor and just make sure you schedule the space. Also, by getting the store involved they can help with promotion and you may find a few new players attracted to the event which will, in turn, build the community and create a larger pool of opponents.
  • Confirm maximum limit for attendees. You might only expect the same handful of players you know to show up for your event, but considering wider promotion, especially for a global event like Coalescence, you should prepare to have more players show up, even unregistered players dropping in the day of the event. And nobody wants to risk a fire marshal showing up the day of the event in an overcrowded hall with gaming tables blocking fire exits.
  • Determine rental costs and registration fees for players. Club spaces aren't free, and your club may already charge per head count for anyone using the space. If there is going to be a cost associated with playing in your event be sure you mention that to your players. If the club or store is going to charge you a flat rental fee for the space then divide it by the number of players you expect to participate to determine an entry fee. If you end up with more players paying the day of the event, then you can use the extra cash to order some pizza! Be careful about handing out extra cash to winners as prize money: in some locations this could be against the law. If a game store is hosting for free but wants to charge a fee that will be awarded as store credit to winners then make sure you understand how their procedure works, and even better if they will handle all the cash transactions so you can focus on running the event.
  • Focus on promotion, etc. If you have everything arranged with your club or game store to host your event then you can focus your attention on attracting players and running an awesome event.

COMMUNITY SPACE

  • Keep your mind open and look for options. If you don't have a club or game store, not all is hopeless. Check with community organizations or public spaces which can be reserved, like a public library or even a restaurant. There are community clubs with halls they often rent out for weddings, group reunions, dances, or even gaming events. Rental costs for a space could be expensive, and you should talk with the other gamers in your community how much each of them is willing to pay as an entry fee to cover rental costs. You could also check with your public library: many libraries have meeting rooms which are used by community groups and for special events and are usually free but prohibit an organization charging entry fees. Some restaurants or food service establishments may be open to hosting an event at a nominal or no rental fee, expecting the purchase of food and beverage by gamers during a usually slow afternoon to generate revenue. Talk with the proprietor to set expectations, letting them know tables and terrain will be set up. This could be a good opportunity to establish a relationship between your gaming group and a venue where you can host future events or even a regular gaming night.
  • Confirm maximum limit for attendees. Like the club or game store, every venue has a limit on space and you want to set limits for how many players will attend.
  • Determine rental costs and registration fees for players. Try not to put up your own money to secure a venue, although it may be necessary to sign a contract. Make sure the number of players you expect to attend, each paying an entry fee to play, is enough to cover the costs of the rental cost. If you have cash leftover you can always order pizza for everyone! Be careful about handing out extra cash to winners as prize money: in some locations this could be against the law.
  • Work on a plan for tables and terrain. The trickiest part of running an event in a library or food service establishment or even a community hall is setting up tables and terrain. All of these venues usually have tables, but they aren't likely the dimensions you need. Check with the proprietor about the feasibility of bringing in gaming tabletops to lay across the tables in the space; there may be a concern of scratching or damaging tables in the venue. Try to keep it easy: sometimes putting 2 folding tables next to each other and then spreading a tablecloth across it can make an adequate gaming space and won't require you to spend a great deal of time setting up before and taking down after the event.

Finding and scheduling a venue for your event is one of the most important parts of running a successful gaming event. Give it some thought and some planning before the date so you can focus on running and enjoying the day of the event.

 

How to NEO

Welcome to the Coalescence Event blog which is dedicated to sharing experience and advice among Narrative Event Organizers through a series of periodic articles.

 

Coalescence is a collaborative narrative event for Age of Sigmar with global reach but as individual as each NEO and player in every local event, all taking place on 10 June 2017.

 

The Event Pack will be coming out soon, but many NEOs have already signed up to host events.

 

You can join them by registering here: http://bit.ly/Coalescence2017

 

Look for upcoming articles written by experienced organizers on a variety of topics like charging fees for an event, creating schedules and event packs, collecting and building terrain, and even helping you decide whether or not you should play in the event you’re running.

 

 

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