Norwescon 2016 Highlights

So Norwescon 2016 is over, and I’ve taken a break from sleeping it off to share a couple highlights for those who weren’t there, and memories for those who were!

Thursday Afternoon: Mass Effect RPG

Surprising no one, there weren’t many people who signed up to play in my Mass Effect game on Thursday afternoon at 4-6pm, but I was fortunate to have my good friend and editrix Gabrielle Harbowy (playing Mordin), a grizzled veteran of gaming (playing Garrus), and a spritely, energetic 11-year-old girl (playing Liara) who knew nothing about the setting but picked it up like a pro. (And if you ever want to subject your playtest to a thorough test, recruit an 11-year-old!) It went really well and ended with a bang–literally: a mass effect explosion.

Thursday Night: Women in Practical Armor party

This was pretty fun. I showed up fashionably late along with my wife (being a very good sport and putting up with a truly epic travel on public transit to get there). I hung out with a few old friends, reconnected with some young writers with a huge amount of potential, and finally put a few faces to names. To all who supported the anthology, thank you–you’ve done a great thing for the industry. 🙂

Friday: Carol Corps, Represent!

I went to numerous panels on Friday, all of them memorable and fun, but the Carol Corps panel was especially great. (And I’m gonna fanboy for a bit here.) The panel was about the arrival of the CC and what it means for the comics industry, and in the words of Torrey Stenmark (dressed as Ms. Marvel, btw) “it means the industry has a future,” helping to evolve the marketing decisions of the powers that be to understand an audience with a wide range of perspectives. Truer words.

It’s always great to see my friend, G. Willow Wilson, who is extremely talented and classy in how she deals with her well-deserved fame. It was at this panel I floated the question of Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel vs. Billy Batson aka Shazam as Captain Marvel, which would come up the next day (no spoilers, see below). The consensus was that Carol had that fight easy.

Friday Evening: World of Ruin Reading

It’s tradition for me to read late in the evening on either Friday or Saturday, and this year was no exception. I got the 10pm – 10:30pm slot, with no one after me, and that was good because I spent about an hour, first reading from the forthcoming MASK OF THE BLOOD QUEEN (third novel in the series, look for it this winter!), then answering a gaggle of questions about the setting, the magic system, my inspirations, etc. It was great.

Saturday: All the Panels!!

So Saturday was my big working day at the Con. I was on at least six panels and/or critiques, and then I was set to run a game Saturday night 9-11pm. Literally busy from noon until 11.

It all went really well. Interesting, compelling things were said by all. I had the honor to be on a panel about character/plot-driven story techniques with Writing Guest of Honor Tanya Huff (who is fantastic) and moderated a panel on Scene Structure and Variation, which produced some very thoughtful stuff.

My favorite panel of Saturday–and of the con entirely–was the SF/Fantasy Battle Royale panel, moderated by the very funny Matt Youngmark, in which we pitted popular scifi/fantasy characters against each other in a single elimination death match style tournament. I might do a whole post about it to go over the ins and outs, but sample battles included:

  • Han Solo vs. Indiana Jones on an old timey rope bridge.
  • Rey from Force Awakens vs. Rocket Raccoon on the Forest Moon of Endor.
  • Samus from Metroid vs. Lara Croft on that really hard Super Mario Brothers level with the bendy mushroom platforms.
  • The Hulk vs. the Hulk’s Weight in Bees, fought on the Bee Planet in the Bee Nebula where bees have a hivemind and each bee has the strength of 10 normal bees.

Battles like that. I will say I was a major supporter of Rey and (obviously) Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel, who had to vanquish Shazam on the surface of the moon in the qualifier. Shenanigans were had, and it helped to have Captain Marvel IN THE ROOM WITH US, no less. But anyway, the panel deserves its own write-up.

Saturday Evening: Fate or Coincidence?

After some miscommunications and cross-pollution up in the tower at Norwescon, I realized too late that my Mass Effect game was set to be played down near the panels, and when I arrived, twenty minutes late, no one was there to play. So instead of hitting another party, I decided to retire for the evening to get some more sleep. By sheer coincidence (or fate!), I happened to be walking back to my car next to two of the players of the game, who only recognized that I had been the one running it when two entirely unrelated people recognized me and said something loudly about how I was supposed to be running a game. After a brief discussion, we decided to try and play the following afternoon, Sunday.

Sunday: Mass Effect redux!

After I encountered the same people I just mentioned (the Mass Effect folks) in the morning and confirming the game was on, I spent the first part of the day hanging out with friends and doing a couple writing workshop critiques. I love offering feedback and assistance to fellow writers through that program, though I suspect I should limit myself to two manuscripts rather than three, so I can devote more attention to each one. 🙂

After that, I did indeed meet up with a group of hardcore Mass Effect fans (two of whom I’d met that previous night) and ran them through an incursion on a geth-controlled space station. It was Tali commanding Thane, Grunt, and Legion. The tensions were high and the battles were epic. A great time was had by all. Afterward, I told them all kinds of secrets about my ongoing Mass Effect campaign, which is complicated and dramatic and awesome. I should really hold a session of that again sometime soon . . . After I do some more writing, I suppose.

All in all, it was a great Norwescon, and I was very happy to be a part of it.