So, I kind of dropped the ball and didn’t tell you all that you could have stalked me at RustyCon this weekend. It was pretty good. On the whole it’s a much smaller convention than NorwesCon, but it definitely had its high points. Watching the world’s tiniest Weeping Angel chase her brother, Eleven around the convention. Seeing some of our oldest and dearest friends for the first time in years. Reconnecting to people I hung out with ages ago, and finding out that we’ve all turned out ok in spite of the beautiful disasters we were in our youth. I met some fantastic people for the first time as well! It really was a magnificent time. I enjoyed the hell out of myself.
Todd McCaffrey was the writer guest of honor, although my scheduling was such that I didn’t get a chance to meet him. But, we did have a great time with the panels.
Friday we started with How not to be a GM D-bag, in which we talked about the different flavors of bad GMs, from The Adversary (“You all live and die on my whim, mwaaa haa haaaa!!”), to the Frustrated Novelist who has a story to tell (“Damn It! Stop getting in the way of my story with your stupid free will!”) The Railroader, who could be a Frustrated Novelist, or they might just be bad at spontaneity, and they NEED you to follow those very large bread crumbs to the right portal in order to find the right clue. We talked about the ways to avoid being these people: be flexible, listen to your players, remember everyone should be having a good time…
Next was Gamemastering: One-shot Adventures -v- Long Campaigns. This panel basically covered how the various GMs on the panel dealt with pacing when running a 3-4 hour con slot, versus trying to sustain something over the long haul, and dealt with the use of side plots and additional threats.
After that we did GameDesign: Writing for Games. This was a little tricky. All of us on the panel are in the middle of writing games, or had written them, but it’s a very personal thing. We mostly talked about editing (hire someone), play-testing (do lots of it), and the importance of knowing which crititque to take seriously, and which to ditch. And that sometimes you have to kill your darlings. As for play-testing, Ogre and I have a system: We run it ourselves a couple of times, we let someone else run it with us in the room for clarification, and then we let people run it without us there and wait for feedback. Preferable people who haven’t played with us running. That seems to work pretty well.
My last Friday panel was Consensual Non-Monogamy, which was pretty well attended. We had several different flavors of non-monogamy represented. It was pretty interesting.
Saturday starting with Gaming and Community, after kibitzing on a couple of Ogre’s panels. We mainly talked about the differences in gaming communities, like the Indie games crowd versus the more traditional role-players. We talked about various conventions, like GoPlayNW and Dragonflight and Gamestorm.
Then we did Dealing with Problem Players, which is always a good panel. I was rather emphatic this year in granting GMs the permission to fire people from their games. Life is too short to play with people who make you unhappy, and I’ve noticed the Five Geek Social Fallacies have been making a comeback. When people behave badly, be it in character in game, or out of character, they need to be called out for it and face repercussions. I’m not saying them fire them immediately, unless the behavior is truly egregious, talk to them and give them a chance to address it. If they don’t, well, then you have a hard choice.
After that we did Female Gamers: Not Unicorns. Where we talked about the fact that yes, there did not used to be a lot of female gamers, but there we’ve always been here. And that more and more women are starting to game, be it RPGs or Videogames. A fun panel.
Sunday’s sole panel was “Fandom.” We talked about the missteps of Fandom like the Dickwolves bullshit, Readercon and a few others, and what we need to do to make the changes in fandom that need to happen for it to be truly inclusive. We talked about calling people out for their bullshit, “Dude, not cool.” We talked about having and enforcing Harassment Policies, as well as training all of your staff on how to enforce them. We talked about the need for broader visibility for author, artists, and other GOH’s of color. And we talked about being the change you want to see.
All in all, a good weekend of panels. Next year they’ve got some awesome guests lined up. Timothy Zahn as Writer GOH. Freeman Dyson as Science GOH, and Toby Froud as Artist GOH.
Maybe think about going next year. I’m hoping they’ll have me back.
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Oh, and Honey Badger’s first two songs are available for download here, for free or pay what you want. We’re also part of a larger compilation to benefit a local venue, with a song written by yours truly. Check it out (we’re track 16). We’ll also be playing at the Kraken on January 24th.