selenite0: (jacket)
This was the first time I'd been scheduled to be on a panel. I was drafted as a panelist at LosCon in 1998 or so. I was so brutal with questions to the guy giving a talk on Rockwell's X-33 proposal that when the reusable launch vehicle panel started next he dragged me out of the audience. In fairness I was working for a competitor in the RLV business.

Which is exactly the experience that made a few folks nominate me as Fencon panelist so I could bring that to the commercial space panel. Then the commercial space panel was cancelled. So I was assigned to an eclectic collection of sci/tech panels and had a great time.

The noon Friday panel looked interesting. But I've never made it to a con by noon Friday and this year was no different. Still arrived in plenty of time to sit on the manufacturing panel, which focused more on the impacts of displacing people with new tech than what we could make with it.

Then fascinating science presentations followed by the Soonercon party. I'd been thinking I was 80% likely to go to Soonercon again. Seeing that Toni Weisskopf is doing a writing workshop made that 100%. I chatted with another writer at the room party and we wound up talking each other into buying more writing advice books.

Saturday I was on the "Future of NASA" program. I managed to not massively offend anyone. Made the point that having two Commercial Crew suppliers meant that contractors could be judged on their results instead of their promises. Then more great science presentations. Also a panel on self-publishing which . . . well, when the panelists are trading "Openings I hate seeing in the slush pile" they've lost track of what self-publishing is. The "Technology: Boon or Bane?" panel was a free for all. The family came to see the show. They were entertained.

After more science panels I joined several new players in a Firefly game. My plan was to start slow to go easy on them then do a come-from-behind victory. Actuality: Alliance arrested Zoe, one of my crew was killed on a job, which also got me a Warrant, and when the Reavers came for me I couldn't do a Crazy Ivan because the guy killed was my pilot. But it's still a fun game even when I come in last. The NSS room party had entertaining videos, but the best part of the evening was chatting with friends in the hallway.

Sunday I started off with the "Secret Lair" panel. This drew a much younger crowd than my other panels. Supervillians are starting out early. We concluded hiding in plain sight was the best strategy, and you can get away with all sorts of stuff as an amusement park. My last panel was focused on helping writers get the science right in their stories. I praised Babylon 5 as a show that got a lot of science right, and talked about ESR's "Deep Norms" concept for why we need to get it right.

Other great things at the con: [ profile] telophase gave me a lovely print of the cover art she did for me. I gave away a few ARCs of my book. The kids had a good time. James camped out in the video room much of the con, and Maggie started volunteering. [ profile] celticdragonfly rode a scooter dressed as Princess Peach, and I'm an idiot who didn't get a picture of it. I didn't take any pictures at all this year. Too busy, I guess.

Con Plans

Sep. 4th, 2013 03:11 pm
selenite0: (Future Worth Fighting For3)
Turns out I missed seeing a couple of LJ friends at Worldcon because we didn't realize we were both going to be there. To avoid that happening again, is anyone planning on going to Fencon and/or the Ogre Launch Party?
selenite0: (Firefly logo/ship)
Fencon is this weekend and I'll be there. Haven't scheduled any gaming sessions, but if anyone's interested let me know and we can probably find some time for a game. For folks who haven't run with me before, this would be a Firefly RPG with GURPS Lite rules. I've got pre-generated characters and a bunch of scenarios ready to go.
selenite0: (home is people)
Yes, it's over a week since the con. It was a busy week.

We didn't get to see as much of Fencon as we'd hoped. Having to replace our minivan on short notice knocked a big hole in the budget. So we couldn't have hotel rooms which kept us away from the late night filking. But we made it out every day of the con even if we weren't there for as long as we'd like.

Friday evening we came out with the kids so we could show them off to [ profile] joyeuse13, [ profile] abovenyquist, and Z and vice versa. It was nice seeing our friends again. Z is extremely cute. The kids were also happy to see [ profile] kd5mdk and [ profile] jazz007 who we hadn't seen in months. Our kids were quite well behaved. Naturally they were attracted to the video room since it was showing a Disney production. I wouldn't've expected Willy Ley's Man in Space to hold their attention but Jamie loved it. Possibly he'll grow up wanting to fly rocketships just like his father. But I'll try to convince him to do something he can earn a living at.

When I stuck my head in the gaming room I was immediately asked "Are you running a game?" Nope, not this year, though I did at the previous three Fencons. Didn't want to spend all my time chained to the table this year. Probably will next year though--it's good to be appreciated.

Saturday morning we left the kids with their sitter, the wonderful Lee Ann. After breakfast we dropped off the results of the library purge--nine boxes of books, mostly SF paperbacks. I taped "Homeless Books, Please Help" signs to each of the boxes and put them under the freebie table. Instant feeding frenzy. A polite one, mind you. But the books went away quickly. By Sunday afternoon only a couple of dozen were left which went into the charity donation bin.

The best part of the con was getting to see friends. We haven't been able to make many ORAC meetings lately with the kids so I got to see that crowd again. Didn't get to chat much, of course, since they were all busy running the con (and doing a great job). I saw [ profile] tyledra again after far too long since the last time. I ran into [ profile] jenna_thorn, possibly for the first time. It was definitely the first time I got to meet [ profile] sappersgt. I'd been reading LJ since his previous deployment without knowing him in person, though I'd gamed with [ profile] soldiergrrrl before. We talked about getting up a game of Ogre but never wound up in the same place again.

Not GMing doesn't mean I wasn't gaming at all. A first time player bailed out of a game of a Railroad Tycoon game halfway through so I took his place. The position was as bad as you'd expect but I improved it enough to enjoy myself, going from 6th to 4th place. After that [ profile] bonafidelis lured me into a Munchkin game.

The filk Guest of Honor was Three Weird Sisters. I'd seen them before at GaFilk and two of their CDs live in my car so this was the big event of the day for me. There was a bit of trouble getting started. I miss the Tyras but I suspect some other people were missing them a lot more right then. It was a great concert. The new song from Mal Reynold's POV gave me goosebumps from scalp to shin. Afterwards I got to introduce myself to [ profile] weirdsister so now she has a face to go with those comments.

[ profile] joyeuse13 and [ profile] abovenyquist hosted a pizza party in their room for their friends. Z was being very cute and enjoying the attention. Lots of fun chatting, but I snuck out to hang with friends in the gaming room again. Didn't stay for the open filking, sigh. Having to drive home means you can't stay up until you're so tired you're falling out of the chair.

Sunday we went to the House MD presentation. Writer Doris Egan did a live commentary on the episode "House vs. God." She had some lovely behind-the-scenes bits, including how she won an argument with one of the medical consultants by finding current research on cancer-attacking viruses. Okay, House may not be science fiction, but SF fans love it. It's the only show out there which shows the scientific method in action--collect data, form a hypothesis, test it, look at the new data.

We had more filk from the GoHs, this time performing separately as Birds of a Feather (Teresa and Mary) and the Suttons (Brenda with her husband Bill). The latter thrilled [ profile] celticdragonfly with "Women With Drums." Maybe Laura should bring her doumbek to next year's con.

While saying goodbye to [ profile] joyeuse13 and [ profile] abovenyquist I got to meet [ profile] arthurthedented, another person I'd only known through LJ. It's good to have the real life connection. Hopefully next year we'll be able to have hotel rooms and see even more of everybody.
selenite0: (Firefly logo/ship)
Not that there's ever been a shortage of Firefly 'verse outfits in the [ profile] fencon Masquerade, but next year we've got an extra reason to dress up all fancy-like. The Austin Browncoats are hosting a Ball October 10-12. You can see their promo video on Youtube.
selenite0: (Firefly logo/ship)
On The Drift Photography has some great pictures of [ profile] fencon up. They include some nice ones of the GURPS Firefly game and me carrying Alanna at the Firefly theme filk.
selenite0: (Been what I chose)
I arrived at Fencon early to check into the room and get our stuff set up, while [ profile] celticdragonfly picked up the sitter and got her settled with Maggie and Jamie.

That gave me enough time to attend the "To Infinity and Beyond: the Future of Commercial Space Travel" panel. The high point was actually in the hallway waiting for Connie Willis to finish up, when Jarrod Davis adored my Project Orion t-shirt. The panel wasn't really up to talking about commercial space. For most of the panelists (and audience) space equaled NASA. I was polite, but had to say "That's not true" when one of the panelists claimed that there was no regulation of the safety of commercial space companies. I finally got frustrated enough to make my Fedex speech:
responding to a comment that the return to the Moon will be delayed because people think space is unsafe

Do any of you know how reliable Fedex's planes are? Or how many drivers they've lost in traffic accidents? No. And you don't care. You give them money because they provide a useful service. That's what will make space sustainable--producing something worth buying. You can't get there holding out a cup begging people to drop in some tax dollars, that's always going to leave you one election away from going poof.
Don't think I changed anyone's mind but hopefully it planted a seed or two. I'll be making a couple of suggestions about next year's space panels to the concom, once they've had some time to catch up on sleep. Afterwards I went out to dinner with Kip McMurray and his wife Claire. We'd dealt with some of the same NewSpace people and gossiped a bit.

While we were looking for a place to eat we spotted a restaurant named "Firefly - modern asian fusion cuisine". Didn't have time to go there this weekend but I think I may organize an expedition to there next year.

My first game session started with only one player, so we did a free form "pilot on shore leave" game. First time I've had to deal with this kind of player. Then a couple more players joined in and we plunged into a Plot. Since they only wanted to play the junior crew members, I let them be the boarding party for the derelict ship and then take control while the captain continued on with his freight run. Smart move by the captain. This could be a short scenario if the PCs decide to escape once they figure out what's going on, but no. These guys were opening all the trap doors. It's a shame they ran out of time. Visualize a guy fishing off the dock, smoking a cigar while sitting on a case of dynamite, and reeling in the giant squid he's hooked. I would've liked to see how it came out, but they didn't make it to Saturday's game.

Once I was done with the game I found [ profile] celticdragonfly and listened to some filk before falling down.

Saturday began with the hotel breakfast buffet (good, if limited selection) and then a serious exploration of the dealers' room. Lots of nifty stuff as usual. I went wild at the filk table. And I snagged a copy of the new Serenity Found collection, because I was sure there weren't enough of them to last to the end of the con.

The Saturday afternoon game started off with three players. Robert had his Jayne hat to set the mood.

A couple more players joined us soon after. I dropped them into my favorite con scenario. Early on the captain asked "We're being paranoid, but are we being paranoid enough?" No, as it turned out. They managed to come up with a different approach to solving the situation than the previous three groups--frontal assault. I think I managed to calibrate the battle perfectly. They won with the four attacking PCs each getting shot once . . . that's about as close as I could possibly hope for. The crew faked their way onto the bad guy's ship by having one play kidnap victim, screaming and hollering until the captain turned off her radio. Player: "I have no voicecomm and I must scream."

Here's the shootout in action.

One player blew his first roll and wound up out of control in freefall, bouncing around the compartment as the bullets whizzed past him. Then he finally got it together and put three bullets into a bad guy with his first chance to shoot. The victors received their laurels, or in this case a generous cash reward. There was much rejoicing once their vacc suits were patched and bleeding stopped.

From left: me, Kate, Adam, Robert, Doc, Becky.

We wrapped up in time for me to see the Tom Smith concert. Great show. I have one of his CDs and picked up two more.

We joined Andy and Jazz for dinner in the hotel restaurant. Not too great. I suspect they don't want the low-end items to be good to get people to order the expensive ones. I left the table early to take a very tired Alanna off for a lie-down. She did nap, but only while I was sitting up. When I laid down for a (very tempting) nap she woke up, and it didn't take her long to get me back to the couch for a vertical cuddle. But not soon enough for me to catch Blake's 7 in the video room (one of the shows I've been curious about for years but never seen). The video room wasn't meant to be for me this year--I wanted to see Star Cops too but the timing was impossible.

We went back downstairs to watch the Fencon Cabaret, but it was just too crowded so we bailed out and went to the House MD room party. That was fun, and even though the folks there were totally caught up on the series they were kind enough to not spoil us (we're still on 2nd season).

Then it was filking time again. I went to the theme filk room--they were doing Firefly filk and it just sucked me right in. [ profile] faxpaladin played the "Blue Sun Blues", which was very close to what my day job is like. Scary. [ profile] apryl_knight gave a beautiful performance of "Mal's Song" with the whole audience joining in on the choruses. Okay, there was less than a dozen of us, but it beat being shoehorned into the open filk room. [ profile] celticdragonfly sang "Alliance Unification" and I think that may have been the first time she did it in public. I have to say [ profile] ziactrice had a Very Fine Hat.

As usual I was the first one to collapse.

Sunday I had to get everything packed up before game time, which ate my chance of any more panels. Everyone else was having the same problem, so my noon game didn't actually start until 1:00. Our Firefly GoH, Jarrod Davis, was in the gaming room and got his first look at MWP's Serenity deckplan. He was impressed. It is a gorgeous piece of art.

This time we started with the violence and then got into the social maneuvering. There's not much the crew won't do to avoid having to lay out real money for ship repairs . . . even go drinking and dancing. Unfortunately we lost players at 3:00 as people came by saying things like "four hour drive" and "really, really tired" so we didn't get to finish.

From left: Doc, Ben, Becca, Becky, Chris, me. Shortly after this Becca had to leave and Kate and Adam joined in again.

I tracked the family down in closing ceremonies and took Alanna out for some cuddle time since she was getting noisy. We headed out for a post-con dinner with [ profile] kd5mdk and [ profile] jazz007. Then home. I hadn't done any singing at the con, but we discovered on the drive that Alanna will stop crying for Daddy's rendition of "Och, Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye." For that [ profile] celticdragonfly will put up with ose.

Overall my take on this Fencon is "nice con, wish I'd seen more of it." I wanted to do a bunch of gaming to support the Lone Star Shindig but with all the set-up time I didn't get to do much else. Plus it's irritating to bust my butt preparing games only to see that the gaming schedule isn't in the program book, only on the website. I noticed gaming seemed to be the only track to not be mentioned during closing ceremonies as well. So next year I'm going to pass on gaming at Fencon.
selenite0: (Firefly logo/ship)
It's official. I'm on the schedule for [ profile] fencon.
Firefly Roleplaying Gritty adventure in the Serenity 'Verse. The crew of a hard-luck Firefly freighter tries to get the job done but things just don't go smooth. Try to avoid the Alliance, and Terraformers, and Reavers . . . you don't really believe in Reavers, do you? This will use GURPS Lite rules. Pre-generated characters will be provided.
Sessions will be Friday 7-11pm, Saturday 1-5pm, and Sunday 12-4pm.
selenite0: (shiny)
Since I know various people going who don't know each other:

[ profile] gryphynkit is looking for one or two people to split a room with during Dragoncon.
selenite0: (Firefly logo/ship)
I day tripped to Lazydragoncon yesterday. It was in McKinney, so I got to do the usual con drive along the 635 and 75, passing the hotels for [ profile] fencon and ConDFW along the way.

The hotel was too small for a regular con but worked for a relaxicon. If people are just there to hang out with friends they don't need programming space. Some more rooms for spontaneous gatherings/events could have been useful but everyone seemed to be having a good time as it was.

I got to the gaming room with enough time to set up before my 1pm start. There wasn't any published schedule, but I recruited a few players and we jumped into the game. I've been coming up with new scenarios for the Lone Star Shindig and this was my first chance to playtest them.

It started out well. They didn't twig too quickly to the show references. The tension stayed high with a minimum of violence (one nasty fight, which is about the minimum I'd have for a con game session). By the time most of the secrets were revealed they were running back to their Firefly with the Captain commanding "Set course for not here!"

Then they reenacted one of the scenes from Young Frankenstein. "No matter how cruelly I beg you, no matter how terribly I may scream, do not open this door!" Or rather they reenacted how it would have worked if the Doctor had shoved Igor in there with the Monster as punishment for screwing up the experiment. I wound up laughing so hard I still have some sore muscles today. Made it real hard to keep role-playing a confused, scared 18-year-old girl, I tell you.

Then story went into improv for a while until I could toss another plot hook at them. Lots of fun was had. I'm feeling better about [ profile] fencon now. They weren't able to come back for the second session, so I cancelled it.

I ran into several friends from ORAC and saw [ profile] rixende at the SCA demo. I was tempted to stay for the parties--especially the [ profile] fencon room party--but decided to get home to [ profile] celticdragonfly and the kids.
selenite0: (GURPS everything)
I'll be running GURPS Firefly games at Lazydragoncon (no relation to the hyperactive Dragoncon) this coming Saturday. The sessions are 1-5 pm and 7-11pm. This is the playtest for the new adventures I'll be running at Fencon as part of the Lone Star Shindig, so if you show up at both I may have to ask you to sit out a session.
selenite0: (Firefly logo/ship)
Yesterday the DFW Browncoats had their monthly Shindig. Since there were a bunch of Fort Worth folks interested in attending we had a second gathering there at the Ol South Pancake House at I-30 and University. Attendance got a boost from people who were energized by the Can't Stop the Serenity showing and wanted to do more Firefly stuff.

[ profile] celticdragonfly and I were there with the littles ones. Ruth Ann organized the gathering. I knew her from the old Dallas Browncoats board--she'd been over to our place for a game day and some other shindigs. Unfortunately that group faded away so we're on the Yahoo list now.

The only other person I knew from before was Burke, who I met at CSTS. One of the main organizers of that was Tara, who's now getting sucked into the vortex of all sorts of fannish stuff. She was there with her friend Monet, who'd also worked CSTS. I was sitting next to Renee and Jason. On the other side was [ profile] captnann and her husband Charlie with their boy Alex, who was playing nicely with Maggie and Jamie by the end of the Shindig.

The biggest contingent was from the USS Joshua, a local Star Trek (et al) fan club. Tim was there but I missed the other names, sorry guys. There were five of them so we had a 14 adults and four kids all told.

It started out quietly as we all wrapped ourselves around our pancakes. That's a good restaurant, I'll have to go back sometime. [ profile] celticdragonfly wants to go back when she's not on a no-dairy diet restriction. Ann's husband (wish I could remember his name . . . ) suggested we all go around and introduce ourselves. So we took turns telling who we were, what our fandoms were, and what we did. This got us all talking to each other, and brought out lots of comments about who loves/hates which show and who goes to which con. Lots of people were involved in ren faire or SCA. Battlestar Galactica brought out strong feelings--there's still fans of the original out there who think the new one is heresy. I did my part to urge people to go to [ profile] fencon.

The regular meetup is at Cafe Brazil in Richardson, but I hope we have the FTW Shindig every so often--I can't get up that far normally and it was great seeing browncoats again.

EDIT: Fixed the names I missed on the first pass, thanks Tara and [ profile] captnann.
selenite0: (Firefly logo/ship)
The Dallas Can't Stop the Serenity show was last Saturday. I got there at 6:30 for the Jane Espenson book signing, half an hour late. So I had an "oh, crap, I missed it" moment when I walked in and saw Cedric playing songs for the crowd. As it turned out I hadn't missed Jane. She'd spent over five hours on the ground at LAX before flying out and was late. So Cedric had volunteered to entertain the ravening mob of Browncoats until she showed. The tough part for him was not wanting to duplicate any songs from his pre-movie concert that night.

Jane arrived around 7. The Borders staff were setting up extra rows of chairs and we still had people standing all around. She gave an opening talk, pretty heavy on Battlestar Galactica stuff which (since I've only seen about six eps) went past me. Some intro stuff on what it's like writing for TV and how she started up her website. She mentioned a dramatic change in the "admission test" for screenwriters. When she started new writers were urged to write a script for a show currently in production, something that could be dropped into the current season. Now her agency has passed the word that newbies should demonstrate their skills by writing a pilot episode for a new series.

Then she signed books for us . . . "Finding Serenity" was the official book for the event but I brought along my copy of the Firefly Official Companion Vol. 1 and she signed the "Shindig" script for me. One young lady in line wished she'd thought of that, and her friend who'd talked her out of bringing her Vol. 1 to the signing apologized.

[ profile] macgyvergal and Bill were at the signing, but they weren't going to the movie so they left shortly after. I got my movie ticket (and raffle tickets and t-shirt), then started looking for enough Browncoats hanging out to make up a game of Keep Flying. Bad timing--the theatre lobby didn't have any good room for hanging out, so people were getting their tickets and wandering off, and by the time I went back to the Borders the signing crowd was gone. I did get to hang out and chat with another fan, so not a total loss.

After a sandwich I found Cedric in vendor-mode. Got a DVD and CD, and a couple of "I want my Big Damn Trilogy" buttons. Then got in line. The theatre was full of Browncoats, so full they didn't have room to make lines for other movies. There were PA announcements paging people when their movies started. [ profile] tyledra and David showed up at 10 and were so far back I could barely get a glimpse of them. So we said hi to each other by text-msg. It seemed the geeky thing to do.

Naturally, "doors open at 10" became later than ten. At 10:20 one of the event staff came out to make a calming announcement to the front third of the waiting mob. I caught a few words about cleaning, apparently the previous audience had left the room more trashed than expected. When someone behind me asked "Did anyone hear what he said?" I turned around and "It's late! They're working on it!" which I figured was the gist.

The site didn't have any detailed schedule, but I knew Cedric was supposed to be on at 10:15, so I'd worked out an assumed schedule of "Jane Q&A at 10, Cedric 10:15, movie at 10:30, out shortly after midnight." This was to be very, very wrong.

We finally got into the theatre, [ profile] tyledra found me, and we had seats up front. First time I've been to that theatre--nice seats. After some welcoming words from Devin (the organizer) we got to see Cedric play, leading off with "The Man They Call Joss". I've got the CD, so I'd heard all the songs before, but live is better. Then Jane Espenson was up for her Q&A, with most of the questions coming from Devin (which made for a more interesting discussion than many I've been to). She was introduced with clips from several episodes she'd written--but told us that Devin had managed to pick the scenes written by Joss out of her episodes, so the only clip by Jane was the "Captain Tightpants" exchange.

I had the first audience question. At the signing Jane had mentioned that she didn't want to direct. She preferred the words to the visuals and joked that she wished radio was still the main dramatic medium. So I asked if podcasts might lead to audio dramas coming back and if she'd want to work in that. She though audio was dead, except for entertainment while driving, because people today demand a higher level of stimulation than you can get from just listening. But if it did come back she'd love to work on it.

Other stuff was going on between the main events, mostly Devin raffling off the door prizes. The next big one was the auction of the Big Damn Bag, a pile of fascinating loot, which I knew I could never afford. Devin listed some of the contents, quickly got the bidding up to over $500 then revealed the autographed cast pictures of Book and Mal, and repeated the cycle by revealing more items when the bidding stalled. When it was approaching $1000 one of the sponsors announced he was going to add an Ipod Shuffle to the bag . . . and the final was $1100 or $1200. I was holding very still by the end of this.

Devin had more announcements, thanking the organizers and volunteers who'd been helping him out. He had special thanks to his wife of less than a year, who'd put up with planning a wedding and this shindig simultaneously. Devin admitted doing this proved he was insane (she agreed, with gestures) but there was something even more insane . . . actually proposing during a Browncoat event (walking up the aisle now) . . . and we had a man who was that insane . . . hands mike to young guy, who then knelt, produced ring, and proposed. I admire that kind of showmanship. She said yes to cheers and applause.

'Course, you can't be so sure of a guy who'd wear a purple shirt to a Serenity event, but if she has a taste for purplebellies I won't say her nay.

By now it was almost midnight. I wondered whether to give [ profile] celticdragonfly a call to let her know I'd be out later than I'd planned, but realized she might be asleep by then and didn't want to risk waking her or the baby. Bad, bad guess. Alanna was having her first bout of colic and making Momma very unhappy.

The movie started with previews--not regular previews, but a block of Browncoat ones. Adam Baldwin narrated a trailer for Done the Impossible (which I'd just bought). Ron Glass did the ad for the Browncoat Cruise. Then we had Joss's "strong women characters" speech, followed by some thank yous from the leaders of Equality Now. Devin announced we'd raised over $5500 for Equality Now at the event.

Then we had an actual movie trailer (Transformers--looks like it would be fun to MST3K) and finally had the main event. Serenity is still a damn good movie. Jane had talked about "breaking" a story so the writer knew what emotional impact each scene should have. What impresses me so much about Joss is how small a scene could be while still having the full impact. The best example is the Operative calmly walking up to Inara. She's waiting with a professionally friendly smile--and then stops smiling. That's all we needed, we can fill in the rest (this man is going to force her to cooperate in his hunt, rather than asking for her usual services) by ourselves. Second best is when Ensign Cat-beller is standing at attention, clearly having been the one to deliver the bad news, as the Operative asks "Define disappeared." The jokes aren't funny-once either, I'm still laughing out loud at them. And the painful parts still hurt, though not as much.

When it was over we all staggered off home--maybe some of the younger crowd had energy to go out to party some more, but I was done. Devin promises this will happen again next year. My next Browncoat event is the Lone Star Shindig at [ profile] fencon, hopefully some of the cosplayers will be there too, there were some good ones.
selenite0: (GURPS everything)
I only daytripped to ConDFW this year--things are a little too tight for me to splurge on a hotel room. I drove out Saturday morning, a little ahead of schedule, which always worries me. If I'm early I must be making some other mistake such as going to the wrong hotel. But when I parked there I was right next to a car with the Nevada license plate "JHEREG". So I was in the right place.

The early start gave me time to meet friends and put up a few flyers for my game. [ profile] theturbonerd was the first guy I ran into. [ profile] macgyvergal and Robyn have lots of sympathy for [ profile] celticdragonfly. Tamisan talked me into browsing the used book sale, so I have a couple more RPG books now. And Jonestein was working to publicize the Lone Star Shindig.

I went to the Mars panel as one of [ profile] tygerr's groupies. Nice discussion, better signal to noise than the average con panel. It was clear pretty fast that there's a lot more worries about political support and funding than the technology required. The dust problem will require some new tech, though . . . and I think in future games I run long-time lunar or martian prospectors will be distinguished by the symptoms of silicosis. This was also my first chance to meet [ profile] lolleeroberts in person.

After that I had time for a quick sandwich before prepping for my first game session. I managed to get through the windstorm without losing my badge, though I did put it in my pocket to be on the safe side. I'd staked out a table in advance with the ship deckplan so there was no trouble finding it, so anyone interested knew where to go.

This time I was running a Traveller game, not Firefly. Doesn't make much difference in the plots--which I recycled unchanged from the prior games--but I had to print a new deckplan and change most of the names. Most of the players had played Traveller before in one version or another.The Interstellar Wars period is different enough from the "standard" Traveller setting to keep them on an even footing with the newbies. One player, John, had also been in my Fencon game. Lucky for me I wasn't planning on running the scenarios I'd used then for the first session.

That's John in the hat.

We opened with a classic bar brawl, with the crew fending off some stevedores who resented competion for the barmaid's attentions. They made a very satisfying thump when they fell. Then we went into the first full adventure, which for the first time out of three times I've run it went the way I'd expected it to. Lots of tense skill roles, almost all the "good luck" chips spent, and a dramatic command decision later, all ended happily. Except for their ship, which needed a few weeks in the body and fender shop.

The passengers were confined to their rooms when things got hairy.

We wrapped up a little early, which gave me some time to visit the Dealers' Room. A bit disappointing, but I did find one book [ profile] celticdragonfly wanted so it wasn't a total loss. I ran into Todd and Charles who I used to play Call of Cthulhu with and caught up a bit. [ profile] lolleeroberts and [ profile] starcat_jewel invited me to dinner. We all had good "insane boss" stories. The food was good, but the service gave me just barely enough time to set up for my next game (sorry to duck out on you, ladies).

John didn't make the second session, and I was damn glad. He's a great player but having him and Lyndon (sp?) in the same game would be a problem. Lyndon was in the Akon game and betweeen the two of them they've seen all the scenarios I had worked out in detail. Sure, I've got a few ideas but that's working without a net. A couple of guys from the first session came back, and Todd and Charles joined in. So there was only one guy (Michael) I hadn't played with before.

Todd, Michael, and Lyndon (The cargo counters are thanks to the CMA CGM Group, who have some nice aerial photos of their shipping containers on the web).

I tossed out a "teaser" encounter to kick things off. Serious role-players can get a full hour out of buying a crate of beef. Then we went into the main adventure, with a lot of detailed planning . . . we actually had the captain going over the star map to pick courses. A bit more detailed than any Firefly game of mine has been. The caper got accomplished without any violence at all (one injury from man vs. nature), and they even talked their way out of the chase scene with some good Fasttalk rolls.

Charles is on the right. The guy standing is Richard, making another proposal for violent action. He finally quit after not being able to hit anything all session. Not a good adventure for mad slashers, I'm afraid. But after all the stuff I've read about RPGs just being an excuse for acting out anti-social behavior it's nice to have a game where the players get through the whole evening without committing any illegal or immoral acts (if you don't count use of excessive force in the bar brawl . . . ).

We wrapped up shortly after the three-hour point. Could've gamed more, but we'd had some major distraction from the local con circuit belly dancer troupe, who'd set up next to us for a late night performance. We, ahem, multitasked. Well, most of us . . .

I'd been thinking of hitting room parties after the game, but by the time I had everything packed up I was too tired to party, so I headed home.

This game session was the first time I'd run my free trader adventures in the Traveller setting and they worked fine. I also had a chance to test the "simple space chase" rules I developed. Didn't have to check the books except to look up some setting info ("So what are they exporting in this system?" is one of those Tactician-type questions GMs always need to check the book for). I've worked out some other frills to make the games go smoothly--a one page rule reference, equipment cards, Cardboard Heroes for the characters and major NPCs. So I think I've got the routine for GMing at cons down.

Now I just need to come up with some good new adventures before [ profile] fencon.
selenite0: (GURPS everything)
I'll be running an RPG at ConDFW. This will be two sessions of GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars
The year is 2170. Earth's first expeditions into space found we were next to a vast, ancient interstellar empire, which promptly tried to annex us. After surviving three wars a cold peace exists between Terra and the Empire. The players will take a small freighter into Imperial space, trying to turn a profit without getting in too much trouble.
Fans of Firefly and other free trader games will enjoy this. Pre-generated characters will be provided. The game will be Saturday, 2/24, at 1-5 pm and 7-11 pm.

If it doesn't conflict with the games I'll be heckling [ profile] tygerr at his space panel, and afterwards I'll be at the [ profile] fencon room party until pumpkin time.
selenite0: (Couple-FenConII-kiss)
I showed up late Friday because [ profile] celticdragonfly won the toss and I had to pick up the babysitter and get her to our house. Once Lee Ann was settled I was free to zip off into rush hour traffic. With trains. This was about the same time [ profile] celticdragonfly, [ profile] abovenyquist, [ profile] joyeuse13, [ profile] patgund, and [ profile] writegrrl were all settling down for a nice dinner. Ah, well.

Did get there in time for filk concerts. Heather Alexander was doing pirate songs by request, as a tie-in to talk like a pirate day. Bedlam Bards were up next. I got to hear them play "On the Drift" from their Firefly CD. Wonderful, wonderful song.

Then it was time for playing "Are You a Werewolf?" [ profile] celticdragonfly and [ profile] fordprfct had discovered it at Apollocon. I'd played a bunch of times with with the local browncoats, so I organized a game. The gaming coordinator hadn't reserved a spot for us and the gaming area was full of pick-up games. We could grab one table but Werewolf can be noisy enough to not be a good neighbor. But the registration desk had shut down and was just a ring of empty tables . . . a few more chairs and we were set. Only got eight players which is about the absolute minimum. A couple of experienced players showed up and we dragged in Sarah, David, and [ profile] patgund. After a few games we switched from two werewolves to one, and then the villagers actually managed to win one. It's a fun game, we kept going for over an hour. Hopefully we'll get a bigger turnout next year.

From left: [ profile] patgund, me, [ profile] celticdragonfly, and [ profile] fordprfct. Also playing: Sarah, David, Laurie, and Ed.

The open filk had a huge turnout. I took a back-row seat and listened until 2am, then it was time to fall down.

Saturday [ profile] celticdragonfly and I had breakfast with [ profile] patgund. I'm glad we're getting to see him in person, it's been way too long since he's been out this way.

I went to the panel discussion on space elevators. Not the first time I've been more qualified to talk about something at least half the panelists. A good discussion for laymen though. I tossed in a couple of comments, on why off-equator skyhooks are practical and why rotating ones aren't. Great concept, but I figure any technological breakthrough which makes a space elevator affordable will work even better for improving RLVs, so they're going to be a long way off.

Afterwards I had a quick lunch before prepping for the GURPS Firefly game. Between having a bigger crowd than last year, advertising it with some flyers, and importing a ringer from San Antonio, I had a full table. I'm not sure it's the literary SF vs. anime perspectives, or having a higher average age, but this crew was much less violent than the one I had at A-Kon. These guys used a mix of diplomacy, charm, patient hiding, and sneaking to avoid all combat after the opening bar brawl. No dramatic chases, quick draw shoot-outs, or desperate last stands for these guys. They were still cashing in their "I need a miracle" chips, but for maintenance rolls instead of combat actions. Desperate life-or-death maintenance rolls, mind you.

Our crew (clockwise from right) [ profile] soldiergrrrl, Cap'n John, Pixie, David, Sarah (hiding behind David), Charles--who'd never played before (and whose name I've spaced out on *shame*), and then me.

The players were an interesting range. The captain had played Traveller from way back. The mechanic had never played an RPG before and wondered what it would be like. Not much GURPS experience, but "See this number? Roll that or less on 3d6." covered everything we needed. I had some turnover during the game--losing players to concerts, sudden emergencies, etc.--but a few more wandered in and there were always at least three.

One of the bits I was setting up worked perfectly. They landed on a moon and were greeted by a panicked deputy sheriff asking "What's your life support capacity?!" Their expressions made it clear they knew this would be very, very bad. Last year I picked up a copy of Zombies!!! as a BGG.con door prize:

I knew a hundred glow in the dark zombies would be useful someday. In this game I declared them stand-ins for a mob of panicked civilians and dropped the whole pile on the deckplan in front of the main hatch. So our merry crew got to handle the question of "just how many refugees can you fit on a Firefly?"


And they managed to keep them all alive the whole way to Paquin. Everybody lived tolerably ever after.

We wrapped up in time for me to join the big dinner expedition to Boston Pizza. Lots of tempting stuff on the menu. Too much, actually. I was dithering over various interesting-sounding options and finally said heck with it and had just a pepperoni pizza. It was fun chattering with everyone (too many to list right now).

Then we all went to the Fencon Caberet. Wonderful filkers, amazing costumes, belly dancers, though in the opposite order. [ profile] theturbonerd and Mrs. Turbonerd had a lovely purple-themed formal outfit as a circuit judge in the Firefly 'Verse. Geek that I am my instant reaction was "Hmmm, that'd make a good campaign concept." (Great vest) [ profile] soldiergrrrl looked ready to walk onto the set of Serenity and her speech convinced me she was ready for officer training. There was an unofficial Firefly theme to the night . . . but [ profile] joyeuse13 didn't need to go with the theme. She was the Pro from Dover and proved it. (She also has pictures of everybody)

The filk concert was a duet with Leslie Fish and Heather Alexander. Those names are a guarantee of good music. I did wind up crying once. They played Hope Eyrie. It's a beautiful song. Most of the room knew the chorus. Hearing so many people chime in on this song looking at Apollo as history drove home for me how much time and effort we've wasted since then. I got angry. Hearing "The wave that carried us up the beach" brought back the fear that we might wind up crawling into some virtual reality and never escaping this gravity well before some asteroid comes along.


March of Cambreadth is a good way to cheer up. Heather had us roaring "HOW MANY OF THEM CAN WE MAKE DIE!" loud enough I wondered if the hotel staff was going to start quitting on the spot. Then we went to the open filk. I fell down at 2:30 or so. [ profile] celticdragonfly went to 4:45. The circle didn't shut down until 6:45. Filkers.

We packed up and staggered off to brunch first thing in the a.m. Well, noon. The IHOP didn't quite know how to deal with the mob of us so it was 2pm before we got back to the con. First priority was raiding the dealers' room before it was too late (books and filk CDs). Then I got to introduce [ profile] soldiergrrrl, her cousin-in-law, and a couple of random adventurous types to my Keep Flying card game. Only had time for one game before Leslie Fish's concert, sigh. Afterwards [ profile] celticdragonfly and I took [ profile] patgund to dinner. I really hope it won't be 2.5 years before we see him again this time. And then it was time to go home. The Dead Dog was tempting but we were already starting to fade. We're still tired.

The Fencon staff are amazing. It's an extremely well organized con. I've been to cons with over a decade of experience that don't work as well as it. Okay, I'd like the gaming schedule to be in the con program book, but nothing's perfect.

People I saw or heard of and wanted to hang out with but never had the chance: [ profile] dartpoly, [ profile] macgyvergal, [ profile] taerin, [ profile] balthrop, [ profile] sandy_tyras, [ profile] the_blue_fenix, [ profile] theturbonerd, and [ profile] tmc4242. Sorry, folks.

People we were filking, dining, or otherwise hanging out with that I missed above: [ profile] faxpaladin, [ profile] kd5mdk, [ profile] jazz007, [ profile] joyslin, [ profile] kattelyn, [ profile] meerkat1, and [ profile] tygerr.

People I met in real life for the first time: Sarah and David, [ profile] soldiergrrrl, [ profile] taral, [ profile] bonafidelis, [ profile] ziactrice, and [ profile] the_blue_fenix's baby Elizabeth.

And so to bed.
selenite0: (shiny)
GURPS Firefly at Fencon will be Saturday 2-6pm in the gaming area.
selenite0: (Default)
This is still tenative as the official schedule hasn't been posted, but here's the games I'll be running at [ profile] fencon:
Firefly Roleplaying
Gritty adventure in the Serenity 'Verse. The crew of a hard-luck Firefly freighter sees a chance to get rich quick. You just need to avoid the Alliance, and Terraformers, and Reavers . . . you don't really believe in Reavers, do you? This will use GURPS Lite rules. Pre-generated characters will be provided. In the gaming area, Saturday 2pm-6pm.

Are You a Werewolf?
A werewolf is eating your fellow villagers. Figure out who he is and lynch him! Someone was killed during the night? There's another one! Time for another lynching.
Play the party game of deception and violent death. Friday, 11pm, Room TBD.
I'll post an update when the times are confirmed.


Sep. 9th, 2006 01:16 pm
selenite0: (Advanced Weapons Testing)
[ profile] howardtayler, author of Schlock Mercenary, is coming to a con in Texas next month. Yay!

It's ApacheCon in Austin. A professional conference for Linux programmers. Day pass: $250.00. Boo!

Maybe I'll get to see him at A-Kon next year.


selenite0: (Default)

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