10 February 2024

Open Table Procedures - Euro Edition

tl;dr: tempo of booking, prepping and running open table games

Take on Rules wrote My Procedure for Facilitating Open Table Gaming and cast a light on a very different gaming set-up to my own so I thought I would document how things are running here in Vienna.

As per Gorgon Bones best practices - though this allows me to hit the trifecta of Record your hobby experience, Introduce others to your hobby and Participate in a hobby community.


Long-lead (long beforehand)
- program up the slots in the Meetup group with generic 'visit our forum' links
- pull down pre-gens from the Brancalonia site, print them
- block out Friday nights on my calendar
- put up a setting brief on the forum

D-5/7 - forum opens for the next session
- confirm venue - 99% of the time it is our usual, occassionally we skip to somewhere else. This usual is a club-house for wargamers/card gamers that we connected with last year after a few years of cafe gaming. It is a bit out of the way but cheap. Lots of big tables, a fair amount of seats
- watch for the next Friday thread to go up on the forum; jump on and say if I'm going and what I'll be running/playing. we fill quickly these days so getting in early is important
- usually I run, copy/paste my little Brancalonia pitch
- update the Meetup entry for this date with a link to the specific forum thread
- tweak post-session summary from last time to make a new entry on the campaign log

D-2/5 - prep the session
- of an evening I prep for the game - read the content, write my own timeline
- spot any recurring NPCs, factions or the like for Conservation of NPCs
- one of the forum organisers will tot up the attendees, list the DMs, the players who have expressed a preference for a DM and who is left
- check who I have at my table - any repeat players and any hooks to work in

- pack my go-bag off my checklist
- leave work, big coffee in a thermos for at table, small coffee and muffin for on the way
- get to the venue, check my name off and pony up my €3, find a seat and drag it to the table
- help match open seats with stray players once I get there
- change into my Brancalonia t-shirt because I've got one

At table
- help any new folk get characters created
- give a quick setting intro
- get forum IDs, real names of whoever I've got
- quick 'you're in your tavern' set up then get all players to intro characters, what they look like, what people might have noticed about them
- get rolling on the session
- aim to wrap for ~ 2300-000 (4-5hrs)

D+1 - write up on the forum thread
- use forum IDs and character names for a short session recap with treasure, rewards
- cross off the adventure I used from my long-list of stuff in the Brancalonia books

What is working
- Open tables fill themselves, enough that I can take my table to some other venue if necessary and players will come with me - has been done for emergency capacity management
- T1 for first timers - lets me catch folk new to the whole thing
- New folk seem to grok the tone pretty quickly
- Brancalonia brawl rules are great equaliser between lower and higher level players and give big, swashbuckling fights even where the power levels are low
- Running to time has been working pretty well

What to do differently
- no more character building - new folk get a pre-gen if they come without a character. Eats time and has all the other players sitting around waiting while we grind through it. Even though we are fast and practiced at this, it is still 30 mins of people sitting on their thumbs when they came to game
- seats available at the venue are starting to be our hard limit on attendees - more people want to come than we have space for
- session reports more detailed than two paragraphs I write as recap are not happening. There is a 'campaign' thread on our forum but activity is relatively low
- continuous failure to take photos of the events. I blank every time I walk through the door - my focus snaps to getting the games running and I forget to take photos
- make rumour tables matter - I have put them into the campaign log and thus far noone has brought them up at table (or before hand while setting up on the forum thread) so I do not think they are effort well spent for open tables

Dreaming Dragonslayer had Ask the Dragonslayer: Open Table Solutions and I Cast Light! wrote 100 MINUTES OF MEGADUNGEON MAYHEM: My Open-Table Megadungeon Format 2024 Goal with some more tips and thoughts on running open tables.


  1. I definitely am going to echo you on the taking photos point. I keep wanting to photograph and record sessions just for my own sake rather than anything else, and I always get too caught up in the process and forget to do it. And that is, honestly, a bit of a problem - I love seeing photos from the 70s and 80s of gaming groups in the middle of play, and yet I am not helping create such photos for the future.

    1. I managed to remember at last nights session! Because someone else was giving the welcome speech so I had a few moments... let us see if it ever happens again.