Norwescon 2012 After Action Report

Over Easter weekend the SeaTac Doubletree enjoyed the presence of the 35th annual Norwescon, the largest science fiction and fantasy convention in the area. Due to a number of factors, I was only able to attend one day. Due to continued recovery from my ACUS con crud, I almost didn’t brave the drive down south and the need to be social for several hours. But I made the trek anyway and was glad that I had. I got to see some friends I don’t often see, plus sit in on some excellent panels. So here are some highlights.

The two panels I enjoys the most were, amusingly, ones other friends gave a pass because they didn’t think it would pan out well. The first was a panel on “Writing the Other,” moderated by Caren Gussoff and featuring Diana Copland, J.A. Pitts and Lorelei Shannon. Given the subject matter of Kensei, this was very relevant to my interests. At least one friend had given this a pass because the same panel last year was very unhelpful for writers interested in the topic. But this year it was very well handled, due in no small part to the awesome panelists. I really felt like I came away from this having learned a lot and I was happy I attended.

The other panel that stood out was one of my few non-writing-oriented panels. It was supposed to be a glimpse into the next edition of D&D, which at least one friend was interested in but passed on because he figured it would just devolve into edition wars. The panel was changed last minute to a discussion about the future of gaming. One of the panelists (I think it was Monte Cook?) hadn’t been able to attend, so I’m guessing he was the one with the inside scoop about the new D&D and they couldn’t do it with out him. Instead there was a mostly new roster of panelists up front: Jonathan Tweet, Wolfgang Baur, Erik Mona, Stan!, and Ryan Fucking Macklin from the Internet. (As an aside, Macklin was the only one without a paper sign with his name. Instead he just had his oversized flask that sayz “Ryan Fucking Mackling from the Internet.”) Topics included indie RPGs, games that people were excited about, projects individual panelists were working on. It was a very fun conversation. I had a few items I jotted down to look into later. The first was 13th Age, a project Jonathan Tweet is involved with. Tweet described it as a streamlined d20 with story-driving elements built into the system. I think it might have been Stan! who mentioned working on a project with Harper Collins for their “Warriors” series. It’s basically a simple (and free) RPG for young girls, which I think can only be a good thing. (There’s no direct link to the game, so you have to navigate through the site some to find it.) When some people asked about SF games, both Ashen Stars (GUMSHOE system) and Bulldogs  (FATE system) were mentioned.

Really, more awesome than I have time for. But I really liked what I heard. I get so down about the tabletop RPG market that it’s nice to see that people are doing cool stuff.

I was delighted to see the table my friend Glynis had set up for the web series she’s involved with. It’s called Causality. I’ve heard her talking about it for a while and didn’t know what to expect. I’ve been to several H.P. Lovecraft Film Festivals, and quality can vary significantly on small self-funded project. I’m please to report that it has some very good production quality. I’m interested to see what their first episode looks like.

Several other authors I respect and admire had news of new books this weekend. Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamour in Glass (sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey), A.M. Dellamonica’s Blue Magic (sequel to Indigo Springs), Stina Leicht’s And Blue Skies from Pain (sequel to Of Blood and Honey), and Matt Youngmark’s Thrusts of Justice (not a sequel, just awesome).

That evening I attended an open book party organized by Bob Boyd. It was a chance for a lot of small local publishers to show of their goods and mingle with writers. Angel Leigh McCoy was on hand to promote her Wily Writer anthologies as well as some Timid Pirate books. Tod McCoy (no relation) represented his company Hydra House publishing with both Danika Dinsmore’s The Ruins of Noe and K.C. Ball’s Snapshots from a Black Hole & Other Oddities. He was also totally rocking a brony shirt. For all the networking opportunities, I mostly hung out with Minerva Zimmerman (no relation) and compared notes about the books we have coming out from Timid Pirate.

After that I spent a bit of time hanging out with some writer friends and learned that there’s a supernatural historical horror game called Colonial Gothic. I’m super delighted that this exists, especially since one of the settings I wanted to develop into an RPG many, many years ago was basically “X-Files in the 1790s.”

On the topic of K.C. Ball, I made it to one of her readings finally. After a few years of failing to make it, I finally got to see her in action as she read a couple pieces from her collection of short stories. They were wonderful stories and clear demonstrations of her mastery of the craft. Following on her heels was an awesome reading by Keffy R.M. Kehrli, which was an excellent way to end the night before starting the drive back home.

All in all, a wonderful (if exhausting) day of fun.

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