04 September 2018

Dragoncon 2018

My, how many things have changed.



It's hard to write a blog post almost a year after my last without feeling a little bit wistful. It struck me the other day- literally everything in my life is changing. My friend Alex that I mentioned in my last post- we're dating now, and living together. We're quite happy with this arrangement. And we have a couple of shared secrets, too. ;) More on that later. Right now, I'd like to talk about DragonCon, and labor day weekend.

This year, again, we went to DragonCon together. We had a wonderful time. Neither of us are big parties, so we never experienced the much-vaunted DragonCon nightlife. But we did enjoy the vendor's hall and the artists' gallery and went to a couple of panels.

My advice- if you find yourself at DragonCon and dislike crowds, show up in the morning to early afternoon. The revelers are still asleep. For a lot of people, that's the main draw of the event. Your mileage may vary. For us, it could be a bit much. She's very petite and so can get lost inside of crowds, and I'm on the tallish end of average so our crowd techniques don't always work together. Plus, the main draw of DragonCon (that it's full of nerds, dorks, and geeks) is also its main issue- nerds, dorks, and geeks tend to have poor self-awareness and will often stop in the middle of crowded sidewalks to gawk, ponder, or stare at their phones. Or they'll decide to swing their backpack on in the middle of a packed room, or they'll barge and elbow into people because they have a laser-focus on a space about five inches behind you. Stuff like that. Individually, it's not much, but over the course of five-six-seven hours, it grates. No wonder people drink so much at cons.

Anyways, we both picked up some Chessex dice and saw three panels:





1) Warehouse 13 panel- I don't make it a habit to write ill of people, but one of the male panelist was obnoxious and spent the entire time making weiner jokes and sharing inane anecdotes that were only tangentially related to whatever it is anybody was talking about. The more sedate male panelist and both of the women were wonderful, actually. I've never watched Warhouse 13 but they had some interesting insights into the nature of acting, of civic duty, and a couple other things, besides.

2) Best Dungeon Ever- with Monte Cook and Jason Bulmahn, who apparently is the guy behind Pathfinder. I don't much care for Pathfinder, but he had some interesting ideas about making dungeons, the appeal of dungeons, and game mastery in general. I don't follow anything to do with Pathfinder (got my fill of 3.5e when it was the current hotness, thanks), but both panelists were in point and intelligent. One interesting thing I noticed was the absolute respect both panelists had to everybody- one person had a fairly common new GM issue (and, to their credit, mentioned that they'd only GM'd twice before) and they both gave honestly insightful answers. [1]

3) Some panel with Keith Baker and Eloy Lasanta. I'd never heard of Eloy Lasanta before heading to this panel (and in fact, he wasn't even credited on the DragonCon app for some reason), but I found his thoughts on game design and breadth of knowledge of indie games to be on point. Keith Baker seems to only own one hat and spends most of his time talking about how whatever idea you're talking about relates to one of his games. In this case, it was mostly Pheonix Command, which Mr. Baker seems to have greatly impressed himself with. I believe the subject of the panel was game mastery, and they fielded questions from the audience. Fun stuff. There were brief discussions on Lady Blackbird and Hillfolk and Over the Edge and something else, I can't remember what. Sparked off a couple interesting ideas in my head.

The Chessex dice are very nice. She bought a couple cubes of small d6s, and I bought three sets of dice- some surprisingly affordable full size bronze dice [2], and some black/gold opaque and deep navy blue transparent dice. The navy blue dice look almost black on the table, but in the light they are very clearly blue, and it's a beautiful effect and I had to have a set. Now that I have dice, I'm most of the way towards getting together a group and playing d&d in real life with strangers, something I haven't had much experience with. I'm both rusty at running games in real life and rusty at gathering a group of actual people, so we'll see how it goes. Both Alex and I are introverts but we're interested in meeting people in the area so we'll see how it goes.

I'm working on setting snippets, too. I'll probably post some of them here for posterity's sake, and to try and get into the habit of writing blog posts again. I haven't had that particular habit in a couple of years, but, since my life has been sort of on track again, I've found quite a bit of inspiration to write again. Life advice: If you ever meet somebody that inspires you to resdiscover the things in life you used to love again, keep them around. Keep them close.

[1] The person in question had imprisoned his players but had designed a cave dungeon with a demon final boss at the end and wanted to know how to get his players to go there and do the thing he designed. I turned to Alex and said 'have the demon emerge and wreck the town' and Monte Cook said 'have the demon show up and trap them inside of its mind, which is the dungeon,' which just goes to show you that a) nothing is new under the sun, and b) there are about a hundred thousand variations on any way you choose to run a game.

[2] The quality honestly is a little uneven- the dice are clearly pitted and on my d6, the sealant is too thick on one side, so it's probably going to be a little unbalanced. You can see what I mean in the picture. But they feel great to roll and it was the same cost as those little bitty metal ones you get from like, Norse Foundry or whoever, so I'm pleased with them overall.

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