MarsCon

Partner, Metamour, and I went to MarsCon last weekend, which is a little literary convention in Williamsburg, VA. I went to a few panels while Partner and Metamour spent most of their time in the board gaming room. It's a fun, chill convention. Since it's smaller (let's be honest, my benchmarks are Dragon*Con and GenCon — anything is going to seem small in comparison) there's less rushing to get across X hotels to go to the next panel which is really nice. The hotel we stayed at was less than a mile from the convention hotel which feels like short enough of a walk that I feel guilty when I drive between them, but gods damn, 10 or 11 at night in the middle of January is cold. So, you know, more driving than let's me pretend to be a decent environmentalist.

Friday

After we picked up our badges (yay pre-reg), we tootled around the dealers' room for a bit. I grabbed all three books in the Ancillary series by Ann Leckie:

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I definitely paid a lot more than if I'd bought them on Amazon or something, since, you know, I paid actual list price. But they were there, I was thinking about it, and I finally just did it rather than continuing to let these books languish on my wishlist. They'll probably languish on my to-read pile now but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

I did reread Ancillary Justice in the evenings before bed at the con. Just have to finish up The Real and The Unreal at home before I let myself start Ancillary Sword. 

After the dealers' room we all went to a panel: What Makes a Good Narrator or DM?  It was fun and interesting. There was some good give-and-take and feedback before the Q&A got semi-hijacked by a kind of socially awkward teenager who didn't know how to ask his questions with telling the panel the whole story of his specific situation. And he wasn't very good at telling the story. I'm glad he could get some advice. I wish the questions could have been kept more general and relevant to more people without everyone having to individually extrapolate out from the specific question.

After the panel was dinner and then board games. For the life of me, I can't tell you what we played — that information apparently never made it into the long-term memory. But any rate, after a board game I went back to the hotel to get some sleep while Partner and Metamour played another and then went to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Which apparently was a bust: technical issues plus incorrect assumptions. They thought it'd be in the tradition of Rocky Horror and have yelling at the screen. Instead it was just a watching party. Not bad, but not a desired activity at midnight.

Saturday

Actually did make it to the 10am panel I was aiming for: Economics of Self Publishing. First of all, I can't seem to sleep in so I was getting up at my usual time of 6am. Second of all, Partner and Metamour do not share this problem. So there I was typing away on my computer when Partner starts waking up. 

"What time is is?" 

Looks at clock. Well... damn. "9am." 

I made it anyway. 

The panel was pretty good. It was my second time at this particular panel (same moderator ran it at MarsCon 2016), so it mostly functioned (for me) as confirmation I'm doing everything the author's on the panel recommend. Best line of the panel of the panel was in response to the opening question of 'what does it cost to self-publish?' Answer: time, emotion, and pain. Second best: as much as you need it to.

After that, Metamour joined me at the panel on Genre Blending which was a lot of fun. Mostly thoughts on what works, why what doesn't doesn't, and talking about what's already out there. Of course, being me, I walked out with a recommendation for a book I do want to read (Vellum by Hal Duncan), a book I am going to read for the new podcast a friend is putting together where we tear apart why a book is bad and will regret reading immensely (Out of the Dark by David Weber), and an aesthetic I want to somehow write now: solar punk which was described as art deco/nouveau ecological sustainability.

If someone would like to draw that or point me at artists who already do, please please let me know in the comments.

After the panel was lunch (hurray ConSuite!) and then a Star Wars:Edge of the Empire game with a friend who found out MarsCon was happening that morning and decided to drive up for the day. Yay living within an hour's drive? Any rate, I'm finding that I like the Star Wars stupid custom dice for the variety in outcomes they could produce (... got a few single success plus two disadvantages rolls) but the Star Wars universe is not one I'm particularly interested in playing in for an RPG. Nice to visit for the length of a movie. But not play in for extended periods. 

Two things from that game:
1) my (male) friend played a female Rodian while I played a male Rodian. Nobody at the table, including the two of us, could get character genders right. argh.
2) the other player at the table had a well timed "Master, shall I attack the darkness?" that was completely in character. Play stopped for a few minutes while Friend poked me to keep breathing, I was laughing so hard. :D

After RPGs was a spin around the art show and more board gaming, where I played Cosmic Encounters for the first time. Lost, not horribly, but man, the ending to that game. A little bit like Munchkin where everyone is trying to throw everything they have at stopping whoever is in the lead until everyone runs out of things to stop other people with and someone grabs the prize. I mean, I'd play again, I think there's strategy and interesting things to do. But that particular game end felt a bit grindy.

Sunday

Sunday had one last panel for me: Indie Publishing: Getting Known. This wasn't all that useful for me. I've got that I should have a blog and twitter and stuff in order to connect with people. But like how do I drive more people like you, dear reader, to the blog or catch people's attention to come check me out? I guess I need a marketing class or guru or something to get that answered. Meanwhile, I'll keep on keeping on with this blog and hope for steady organic growth.

Last thing we (Partner, Metamour, and I) did at the convention was play T.I.M.E. Stories with a friend we only know from and see at MarsCon. So, TIME Stories is, to my mind, an RPG campaign in a box. You're time travelers jumping between bodies in the past to try and figure out how to fix something gone wrong in the time stream. There's a time limit and no way to figure everything out in that time limit. So you jump back and do the loop all over again. And again. Until you figure out where what you need is and can, essentially, do a speed run through the time loop. I felt like each loop could be it's own weekly gaming session, except maybe the last speed run one. I think we played that game for... five hours? and I was mentally fried from taxing my brain at the end of it. Lots of fun! Have to buy new stories/expansions to go with the core game in order to have replay-ability. And yet, I'd like to own it/play it again. 

All in all, a fun MarsCon trip!