RPG Bachelor Party

A few days ago, I was invited to attend a unique bachelor party idea – an all-day roleplaying game! It was fantastically fun and if you’re looking for a quirky conclave or a gaming get-together for your own nearly-nuptialled nerd, I encourage you to add it to your I-Do To-Do list.

Pre-Nup Prep-Work

There was a tremendous amount of pre-game planning and effort that went into the Fellowship of the Wedding Ring before we even sat down to play. (Lucky for me – I just had to show up.) The DM/Best Man started by finding out exactly what the Groom wanted out of the game. It was to be a superhero-style adventure with overpowered champions going up against Cthulhu and his cult on the risen isle of R’lyeh. A custom adventure for a single session.

We met a month beforehand to say hello and make characters. This session zero was held in a meeting room of a local library, which was free (but your library may require registration, so check ahead). We shared geeky game stories and went over the basics of the game. Best-DM had been playing 3rd. edition D&D for decades, so he found a modified class/feat/power conversion online for that version and we used it to kit-bash some original superheroes. I went with a Sorcerer who happened to be able to manipulate gravity and darkness at will (spoilers: Cthulhu is too heavy to launch into space and isn’t afraid of the dark).

The session zero turned out to be critical to the success of the bachelor party for a number of reasons. I hadn’t played 3.0 in years and some of the crew were more familiar with 5th ed. One player had only played a few times in his life, so it took a good bit of time even for those of us who kind-of knew what to do. Secondly, in between swapping books, we had to figure out the venue, the refreshments (ask if people have food allergies), the needed supplies, and the schedule of events-to-come. Thirdly, most of us didn’t know each other that well, so this was a chance to alleviate some of the social anxiety inherent in gaming with new friends. If you can make a session zero happen, do it – it will make game day much more enjoyable for all.

Bespoke Bash for Brides and Bridegrooms

One thing to consider is that this particular adventuring party… party …is about the guest of honor: the almost-married individual. This is one case where everyone involved can really help make them the star of the show. The Best-DM didn’t give him any extra points to spend at character creation, but we all tacitly worked to make sure he had the best time possible.

The groom selected his character first – a Hulk-esque berserker with little in the way of conversational ability – and the rest of us built our characters around his choice. We had a stealthy scout, a gadget-making healer, my support sorcerer, and Wolverine (who graciously let our star have the spotlight whenever possible, despite his exceptional butt-kicking build).

Once he knew what the central hero was about (smashing and bellowing roars, mostly), the Best-DM tailored the adventure to him. It was a series of monstrous guards that came at us in waves strong enough to present a challenge but not so overwhelming that our buffed-up barbarian would seem weak by comparison. I didn’t see him pull any punches, but I’ve been gaming long enough to know that the really good game masters can make it look legit even if they’re skewing things a bit behind the screen.

The customizable nature of this sort of shindig is what’s really appealing about it – normal game sessions are about appeasing the whole audience, but the bachelor/ette game is about making the coolest game for one and letting everyone else help.

Managing Marathons

Our day of gaming was scheduled for a full twelve hours in the conference room of a small hotel. Their office chairs were comfy, the table was nice and big, and we had a bathroom and sink nearby. Very quiet, very easy to get to. You could tell it was a location that had been researched and chosen with care. Everybody pitched in a little cash to cover the rental fee, and we all brought in donuts, snacks, and drinks to share (we had way more than we needed, but feasts are fun). At lunch time, the scout treated us to delivery pizza and wings, and we were all so stuffed that we didn’t even bother with dinner.

Flexibility was the key element that made it all work. The Best-DM was very aware of taking breaks when people started to get fidgety, and he tweaked the adventure to speed up play as our play time started to dwindle. There wasn’t really enough time to worry about handing out treasure and experience points, so we just agreed that we had enough wealth and materials to custom-build whatever the gadget-master was capable of at his level and then my caster enchanted it up with item creation feats.

We started at level one, but skipped ahead from two to five, five to ten, and ten to twenty-five (epic!) when it came time to face down Cthulhu’s physical incarnation at the heart of the cultist temple. It wasn’t so much about the bookkeeping as it was about feeling like superheroes, which we all did by the end.

The final battle was a tough one, and the scout paid for his pizza generosity by being disintegrated into a little pile of ashes. The support team chucked as many buffs and heals as we could at the Hulk while the twin tanks hammered away. In the end, a series of critical hits sent the Elder Abomination back into a thousand years of cursed slumber, and we shared in a hearty round of well-deserved bro-fists and back-patting. The Best-DM was rewarded for excellent gamesmanship with a car-load of leftover snacks.

  • RPG’s can be easily integrated into other pre-nuptial festivities like bridal showers, cultural or religious traditions, destination weddings, and suit/dress-shopping expeditions. Maybe one game session for each event!
  • Custom miniatures make great groomsmen gifts. Try Heroforge.
  • Players who have extra books, dice, pencils, and other supplies should bring a few spares for the folks who don’t constantly travel fully prepared to play (amateurs).
  • Have a general plan for food before you start – look up what restaurants are close and who delivers.
  • Don’t forget disposable cups and cutlery, paper plates/bowls, paper towels, trash bags, and any other food or drink accessories.
  • Hotel conference rooms can be set up in different configurations.
  • Multi-hour games need regular breaks and/or a change of pace here and there.
  • Spread out the work-load and have some players manage music, lighting effects, and miniature-moving.
  • Out-of-town wedding guests or tight work schedules might make it tough to get everybody in the same room on the same day, so consider remote play, virtual tabletops, and video-calls so more adventurers can join the party (even if only for a battle or two).
  • Theme your game around marriage rites: a magic veil goes missing, the hero’s bride-to-be has been abducted, two rings of power must be brought together, etc.
  • Drink responsibly (or not at all – it makes calculating crits somewhat tricky).
  • If you’re traveling to run a game, pack light – only bring the minis/books/tiles you need – you’ll have to haul it away at the end of the day.
  • Leave enough time for clean-up and do a walk-through of the room to look for stray dice.
Award Winning!

Gold ENnie for Best Website 09'-11'

Silver ENnie for Best Website, Best Podcast 2012-2013
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