Ropecon, for me, begins on Monday. While the doors of Dipoli do not open until three o’clock, Friday afternoon, the preceding week is full of preparation, promotional events, briefings and running around in a panic. I have a terribly bad habit of immersing myself into a convention—any convention—fully, mind and body, which makes it next to impossible to focus on anything else while this is going on. Ropecon week began hot on the heels of Finncon, which led to an 11-day convention, which was tremendous fun and utterly exhausting.
On Monday and Tuesday, we made badges. Every member of the convention staff gets a personalized badge, from the coat check people and logistics haulers to the game masters and panelists. These badges have to be made, all half a thousand of them. Then there are the badges we sell (at €1, excellent profit), which we also need a few hundred of to supplement what didn’t get sold the preceding years. Every year’s badges need new (bad) jokes, which someone has to come up with. This year’s jokes mostly revolved around Game of Thrones, I think. “We do not shower” and its Finnish equivalent “Me emme kylve” were the funniest, but I am also partial to “Hear me roll”. All this is traditionally accomplished during the Monday and Tuesday evenings before the con.
In addition to badges, this is the time when we also print and laminate new signs. This year, we manufactured signs for the staff dormitories that read “Don’t Screw Here”. This has been a problem in past years. It isn’t that our staff is bumping uglies during the night—they’re mostly young people and such behaviour is not only healthy but inevitable—but that they do it in a place where it’s guaranteed to disturb other people’s sleep in pretty much the most awkward manner possible. In this case, said people need to be well rested and working customer service in the morning. You can get your exhibitionist jollies in the woods. It’s the goddamn Otaniemi, nobody cares.
Of course, the beast with two backs still made an appearance in the staff dorms. We’re thinking of arming the dormitory overseers with cattle prods next year.
On Tuesday, we also had a promotional event at the Sello library in Espoo. I was there to run some tabletop RPGs, but the demographic present turned out to average five years old, far more interested in our other attraction. The logistics and PR had conspired to acquire a stack of 50 child-sized latex swords from Denmark, which were a tremendous hit with the kids. Literally, really. I managed to run one game, mostly featuring library employees, while the rest of the time was spent dueling hyperactive hobbits. I am not sure we got a single paying visitor this way, but at least the kids had fun. Their parents looked very grateful that we provided an outlet for the excess energy of their offspring, too. We had our other guest of honour, Larson Kasper, hanging out with us.
On Wednesday, the other GoH, Peter Adkison, arrived in Finland. There was karaoke. We went to this bar called Swengi. The evening was going nicely, until one of the GoH handlers blurted out that “this evening is going nicely, there hasn’t been a single moron on stage yet”, which was a cue for the universe to rain on our parade. Immediately the table group next to ours became boisterous and noisy, and a guy climbed up on stage and began to bleat out Britney Spears. We beat a hasty retreat after that.
On Thursday, we had the big staff briefing meeting at Dipoli and then the pre-convention sauna event. At this point I had some fairly impressive stress levels going on (Especially since I pretty much never stress about anything. Some would argue this includes things I should stress about.), since I still had a pile of paperwork to get ready for the convention. I finally got everything written up at an ungodly hour on Friday morning, after which I proceeded to Dipoli several hours before the convention opened, and proceeded to use up around a ream of paper at the info desk printer, as well as significantly contribute to the death of its ink cartridge on Saturday.
Anyway, the convention Friday was pretty much a blur for me. I ran around a lot and ended up dehydrated, tired and hungry. Gave Jim Raggi a lift home in the evening. My only game mastering during the convention was also performed on Friday, when Mikko, our venue admin and a Pathfinder Society GM, had urgent business in the middle of his session. I tag-teamed with him and kept the players entertained and the game running while he worked his mojo elsewhere. Good thing I’d run the scenario before and was familiar with it.
I know it’s a bit strange that the Venture-Captain doesn’t run anything at the biggest con of the year, but, being also a member of the organizing committee, I simply didn’t have the time. My Venture-Lieutenant Jussi Leinonen was one of the main organizers. Then, Tracon is coming up next month and I’ll be running games there. Their RPG admin, in turn, was the head GM for Saturday’s big Blood Under Absalom game… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Fortunately, I got all the game masters present and accounted for during Friday and after a night spent sleeping in the back seat of my car in a sleeping bag, Saturday dawned rather more agreeable and I started getting into the spirit of things. But that is a story for the next instalment.