The geek is a creature of habit – we don’t deal well with change. When I say that this year’s Dragonmeet convention last week, with its different location and the new stewardship of Modiphius Entertainment, pretty much matched my experience of the last three Dragonmeets, that’s definitely intended as a compliment.
As a London resident, Dragonmeet has always been my “home” convention against which all others are judged. And it’s certainly weird, having now attended GenCon, to see how wide the spectrum of RPG conventions can be. Obviously the differences in scale are incomparable, but I still think that Dragonmeet does an excellent job standing up the tripod of seminars, games and trading stalls.
True to form, I spent most of the day in seminars, with two short ones (the Cubicle 7 pitch, and my short stop to see Jamie “son of Gerry” Anderson talk about Thunderbirds), and four meatier ones on Diversity in Games, Pelgrane Press, Paranoia, and Ken & Robin Talk About Stuff Live. The Diversity panel was interesting, and an improvement on the paltry 30 minute slot that was given to “Women in Gaming” last year, but a slightly more practical discussion about how to address the community’s problems would have been welcome. Splitting “Ken and Robin…” off from the Pelgrane marketing hour was a sensible change, the podcast is an Ennie-winning phenonomon in its own right now, and both were comfortably able to fill their time slots with interesting discussion. Attending James Wallis and Paul Dean’s post-Kickstarter update on the new Paranoia gave me a chance to experience one of the con’s brand new features: a second seminar room, running with its own event track. The seminar was great, but the allocated room was poorly suited for it – I’m hoping that if Modiphius run a second seminar track next year, they’ll be able to find somewhere a little more appropriate.
The other main innovation of the convention, the later closing time, was something I failed to experience. Saddled with friends less enthusiastic (or demented) than I, we left after dinner rather than stay until the finish time at midnight. This meant that my intention to run something in the convention’s final gaming slot fell through, and I ended up not getting to play anything all day. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence for me at Dragonmeet – because the seminar schedule is announced so late, I’m relucant to sign up for any games that could clash with anything I really want to see, so end up signing up for nothing. Next time I’ll officially sign up to run something in the evening though. Coming to a gaming convention without leaving time to game seems like a wasted opportunity.
For the rest of the day, I was mostly catching up with friends, and paying a visit to the trading stalls. I managed to pick up an advance copy of Rivendell from Cubicle 7, which was a treat – they sold out very shortly afterwards. I also grabbed a few Christmas presents for friends, a cheap second-hand Vampire: The Reqiuem supplement at the Bring-and-Buy, and bemoaned that I was too slow to pick up the X-Wing miniatures I wanted from Leisure Games. I even made time for a bit of professional networking (ugh), chatting to the Pelgrane Press crew about my recent Drama system submission, and offering James Wallis my services as a playtester of the new Paranoia.
The fact that this year’s convention managed to pull in double last year’s attendance, without me even noticing until informed afterwards, is a credit to the choice of venue and skilled event organisation that kept the crowds at a manageable level. Already Modiphius are talking about expanded to a two-day con next year, a big step and a fundamental change to how the convention has run historically. Based on their handling of this year’s event though, the promise of twice as much Dragonmeet is definitely the kind of change I can get behind.