This is going to be a slightly awkward convention report. I was there, and I organized a substantial and visible portion of it, but due to the myriad responsibilities weighing me down, I did not actually see all that much of it. Ropecon 2013 ran from July 26th to 28th, and gathered about 3,625 visitors, which is some 200 more than last year. This is a nonprofit venture entirely organized by unpaid volunteers – by the gamers, for the gamers.
This was my first year as a program manager, one of three organizers responsible for the panels, presentations and workshops that ran during the three days of Ropecon 2013, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies, the gala, the disco, the ball, the musical, the costume contest and the art gallery.
In practice, this means we recruited, wrangled, approved and negotiated with the people who actually did all of that. A purely organizational role. However, there were 135 hours of active program slots under our management, and inevitably for something with that many moving parts reliant on human beings, something would threaten to go wrong and we’d have to run and make things right. Someone fell ill, items went missing, technical issues… the usual. However, despite having more program than pretty much ever before, not a single item was cancelled or even critically late (the gala started some fifteen minutes behind schedule, but that was just bound to happen anyway).
In addition, as the Venture-Captain of Finland, I was responsible for the Pathfinder Society offerings at the convention. That went rather well, I think. I originally estimated we’d have 21 slots of games and we ended up with 29, one of which got cancelled due to lack of players. That one, unfortunately, was The Ruins of Bonekeep special scheduled to be run by Mike Brock, the campaign manager. The sign-up sheet went mysteriously missing. However, the Race for the Runecarved Key special that I oversaw ran for a total of six tables and 39 players, and everybody seemed to have fun, despite some tables running out of time.
I think the scenario is a definite improvement over last year’s Blood Under Absalom in that the final winner is actually determined by performance and not blind luck. However, I think the last act runs slightly too long and includes an unnecessarily aggravating encounter.
Thanks to the quite generous product support provided by Paizo, we also gave out 48 copies of Ed Greenwood’s brand new novel Wizard’s Mask. Also, a pile of Inner Sea World Guides.
The only panel I had time to witness in its entirety was the Science Panel, which was roughly conceived as “let’s get these natural science people talking about science and magic, and give them the final late-night slot so they’ll be tired and they can go on as long as they want”. To help things along, we had an unofficial humanities block in the front row, with a couple of historians, a folklorist, and me, as the Venture-Captain who knows how the rules work and how they interact with reality. Every now and then they threw me the catchbox mike and asked me about the specifics of the peasant railgun or divination spells or something, Turns out, most of this stuff violates causality.
Apart from that, I had time to catch about half of two other presentations, and that’s it. I am eternally grateful to our documentation team and Rami Hänninen for recording most of the stuff. It’s now in editing and should be making its way to YouTube once the magic has been worked. It’s a tremendous boon to the busy convention organizer who otherwise will never see what they were part of facilitating.
In honour of this being the 20th Ropecon, we also had a small exhibit about the convention’s history, with collections of old ticket bracelets, the original trophy sword of the boffer tournament that Joonas Kekkonen got to take home after winning it thrice in a row, games released at Ropecon, photos, and classic costumes from years past. It was just awesome.
Speaking of Ropecon releases, this was a good year. Ironspine reprinted Kärpänen (The Fly), Myrrysmiehet came out with the GM guide to Vihan lapset (a work that I contributed to, apparently more substantially than I’d originally realized) and Lännen maat, Nordic’s new game about the Egyptian afterlife. The big event, of course, was Mike Pohjola’s Myrskyn sankarit, sold in a lavish box, with dice and everything. The classic elfgames of yore, Rapier and Elhendi, also got their sequel in Melidian, and the Glorantha Society of Finland, Kalikos, got their HeroQuest translation out just in time for the convention. Lamentations of the Flame Princess was out in force, as is Jim’s style, with kickstarter releases such as guest of honour D. Vincent Baker’s The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions, and the new Ropecon limited edition adventure Fuck for Satan. Smaller releases seen this year were Sami Koponen’s larp leaflet Sodan vangit and Nestori Lehtonen’s dungeon crawler Lohikäärmeliitto.
Fortunately, after the program for the day was done, I at least had time to relax at Cantina with friends. It’s the great thing about Ropecon. I can just sit at an empty table, and friends will spontaneously appear. If no tables are empty, I can always find a friendly table to join. Ropecon is my Cheers.
That said, I’m taking a break. The year has been far too busy and I’m beat. For 2014, I will take no conitea-level positions at any convention and will focus on managing Pathfinder Society with the attention it needs and deserves. I’ve worked Ropecon for five years, and I think I can take a year off.
But just one year. Come 2015, rest assured, I’ll be back in the saddle again. Which saddle, remains to be seen.