Posts Tagged ‘conventions’
Just a heads-up, all you happy people! I will be running a “Penciling 101″ panel on Saturday, April 6, 4:30 p.m. at Fur The ‘More: Time Traveler’s Party in Baltimore, MD. This is the first outing of a brand new furry con! It should be fun.
The panel will cover some basic artistic concepts, including thinking in shapes, the magic grid, and dynamic posing. I’ll also do my best to answer questions and offer specific tips as needed. Hope to see you there!
I don’t know why, but I woke up remembering the worst game session evar this morning, and I’ve decided to record it for posterity.
It was at a convention. It doesn’t matter which convention it was, nor really who the other participants were. I will say that we were at least theoretically supposed to be playing Mongoose’s Conan d20 game. My character was a Bossonian archer; my memory is that the other characters were an Aquilonian soldier (P1) and a Zamoran rogue (P2). Basically, except for the Cimmerian barbarian, we were Ye Olde Hyborian Cliché Party.
That’s okay, RPGs are like that. But little did we know what were were getting into from there…
(Note: This is paraphrased from memory.)
GM: You’re in Nemedia, all headed for a tavern. It’s getting dark. Up ahead the road goes through a narrow gorge. (draws the road on the mat)
Me: Uh-oh, smells like ambush. I’ll hang back.
P2: I’ll hang back too.
P1: Well, I guess I’ll march ahead then.
GM: A bunch of bandits pop up out of the rocks and charge you! Roll for initiative. (we do: P1 gets a 12, P2 gets a 15, I get an 8)
GM: Okay, the bandits go first. These three attack you (P1), these two run towards you (P2), these two run towards you (me). (rolling dice) Two hit you, doing 15 points of damage.
P1: Holy crap! Good thing I’ve got 23 hit points.
P2: Okay, my turn. I’ll move forward and attack this one. (roll) 15?
GM: You miss.
P2: Wow, on a 15. What kind of armor are they wearing?
GM: They’ve got a real high DEX.
P2: Oh. Okay.
P1: (roll dice) 20! Let’s see if I crit. (roll) 16?
GM: Nope, not a crit.
P1: Aww, crap. Okay… (roll dice) 15 points of damage.
GM: (frowning) You kill that one.
P1: Sweet! I’ve got Cleave, so I’ll attack one of the other guys next to me. (roll dice) 18.
P1: Miss? On an 18? Seriously?
Me: (doesn’t roll anything like a 20, so I miss) I waste some arrows.
GM: These two attack you (P1) again. These two see their friend go down and break off from you (P2) to go attack the fighter.
P2: Cool! Attack of opportunity time! (starts to roll dice)
GM: Nope, they have Combat Reflexes.
P2: What does that have to do with it? Combat Reflexes just gives you extra attacks of opportunity.
GM: Not Combat Reflexes. The other one. (looks at his notes) Mobility.
P2: So they get a bonus to their AC. I still get to roll, tho.
GM: No, one of my house rules is that Combat Reflexes mean you just don’t get attacks of opportunity against them. You would have missed anyway, this is faster.
GM: (roll dice) Okay, that one hits you (P1) for only 5 points of damage that time.
P1: Cripes! I only have 3 hit points left.
GM: Suddenly this amazingly gorgeous woman comes around the corner. She’s wearing nothing but these skimpy furs, and some fur boots, and a big fur cape. She’s got this amazing flowing blonde hair and blue eyes, and she’s obviously a barbarian. But she’s like, hot. She has 18 Charisma. She’s carrying a big, blood-spattered axe.
Me: Well there’s something you don’t see every day.
GM: It’s her initiative right after the bandits, so she charges the bandit that just hit you. (roll dice) She kills him! She’s got Great Cleave, so she attacks the other two.
Me: Doesn’t Great Cleave mean you can only keep attacking as long as you kill each target?
GM: (roll dice) Well, she does.
P1, P2, Me: Ooohkay.
P1: Well, uh, I guess I’ll move to this guy and attack. (roll dice) 14.
GM: You miss.
P2: I’ll move into flanking position, with the +2 that gives me (roll dice) 18.
GM: You miss.
Me: Guess I’ll shoot! (roll dice) 17.
GM: 15. You’re -2 for shooting into a melee.
Me: You mean the -4? I’ve got Precise Shot.
GM: That’s one of my house rules. Precise Shot means you only get -2.
Me: (sigh) Doesn’t matter, I would have missed anyway.
(next round: barbarian chick easily wipes out remaining bandits)
GM: She says, “My name is Anima. You’re lucky I happened to be here, this road is dangerous. These bandits were probably searching for the cursed amulet I carry.”
P2: No doubt.
Me: I recover whatever arrows I can and say, “Well thank you, Anima. We’re headed for the tavern ahead.”
GM: “I’ll join you, in case more bandits show up and you need my help.”
P1, P2, Me: (exchange dubious glances)
GM: You go to the tavern. Anima orders a huge chunk of meat and just starts eating it right off the bone. Then she guzzles down a whole mug of ale all at once and orders another. She obviously has no idea of what to do in civilization.
Me: Uh huh. Well I’ll go find a seat somewhere and order a meal.
P1: I guess I’ll sit with Anima. I eat about the same way she does!
GM: You spend the meal staring at Anima. She’s hot.
P2: I’m looking around for pockets to pick.
GM: (roll dice) You find about 22 silver pieces from picking pockets.
(fast forward over a painful scene of attempting to do a little RP talking to the innkeeper and such that goes nowhere)
GM: Anima says, “Those bandits were sent by an evil wizard who wants the cursed amulet I’m carrying. We have to go kill him.”
Me: Like, right now? It’s night.
GM: “Yes. We’re going now.” (erases the canyon from the map, then draws almost-identical lines to indicate a road) So after paying your tavern bill, you start heading for the wizard’s tower. You’re walking on a raised road that goes through a swamp. Anima says, “There’s undead in this swamp.”
P1: Bring ‘em on! They need wiping out.
GM: Anima says, “Be careful what you wish for!” (laughs the typical “I’m an evil GM and you’re in for it!” laugh)
Me: I’m not afraid of undead. We’re protected by Mary Sue the Barbarian.
GM: These zombie-things come shambling out of the swamp at you. They all have gemstones in their chest that look like the amulet Anima is carrying. She says, “Oh no, they’re being drawn to the power of the amulet!” Roll initiative. (we do: I get 19, P1 gets 11, P2 get 15) Okay, the zombies go first.
Me: Wow. Before my 19?
GM: Yep, they’re really fast.
Me: Huh. Really fast zombies.
GM: They all shuffle towards Anima. (creepy groaning noises) She snarls and says, “I hate undead!” and attacks.
Me: Because her initiative is higher than 19, too.
GM: (roll dice) She kills that one. And with Great Cleave, she runs over and attacks the next one (rolls dice) but misses.
P1: Uh, I’m pretty sure that Great Cleave doesn’t let you move.
GM: Yes it does. That’s one of my house rules.
P1, Me: (shrug at each other)
GM: Okay, your turn.
Me: (roll dice) 20! I assume I can’t crit these guys.
GM: No, you can’t. Also, you missed.
Me: What??? I rolled a 20!
GM: Yeah, but they’re undead. You need a magic weapon to hit them. Anima can hit them because she’s carrying the amulet that gives them their power.
Shortly thereafter, the session ended due to time. Strange as it may sound, the other players and I did manage to have some fun, but for all the wrong reasons. It was a bit like a cross between a tabletop RPG and living an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
The figures are done! After a few sessions of the Savage World of Ghostbusters using the closest minis I had on hand, I decided I had to have proper GB minis. I took a long look at Carmen’s Fun Painty Time set of Ghostbusters minis, and while I don’t have Carmen’s sculpting chops, I am pretty pleased with the final result. For those interested in the process, I figured I’d write up some details here. You can click through any of the pics to see larger versions.
So this past weekend was the third (already?) InterventionCon. It’s a fun, if smallish, local con put on by an impressively small staff who nonetheless manage to give it a “big con” professional feel. The basic theme of the con is “your online life, offline,” basically giving it a “meta-geekery” vibe similar to Dragon*Con (but on a much smaller scale). There’s a bit of comics, a bit of anime, a bit of cosplay, a bit of technogeekery, even a tiny hint of furry, but no one element really jumps out. This big tent approach is good in that everyone is welcome, but it also has its downside, in that there’s no really strong pull for any group. Despite being open to everybody, InterventionCon is not a “must-go” con for anybody, at least not yet.
Granted, I see most of the con from inside the Dealer Room (or “Artist Alley/Vendor Room” as the con refers to it), which possibly colors my perceptions. On the other hand, the Dealer Room is also usually the main hub of activity. There are several breakout panel rooms which usually have a double-handful of people in them at any given time, a videogaming room, and an open gaming room, and several corridors. Although the Marriott where the con takes place has a huge and impressive restaurant/lounge area (which at a furry con would be overrun with fursuiters and artists), as far as I can tell InterventionCon doesn’t go down there. What crowds there are to find, are in the Dealer Room.
The other thing I’ve noticed about InterventionCon, is that there isn’t much of an art culture. Most people in the Vendor Hall are there as vendors, selling books or crochet ponies or what have you, not doing art at the table– and the attendees don’t seem to be expecting it, either. I was never asked to do a badge or a sketch (my primary profit-makers at most cons), even by people who seemed very taken with my work. Furthermore, those people who were offering sketches at the table, were undercutting themselves badly. One artist wanted to charge me $10 for a fully inked, elaborate sketch; another $15 for an inked and shaded pair of characters. In both cases, I shoved $20 bills at them, just to drive the lesson home.
While sitting around at the con not doing any badges or sketches (le sigh), I decided to noodle around with new persona ideas for myself, including this cute little guy, who combines the whole “dapper lion” thing with my little buddy Keroberos. Only problem is, I still can’t figure out how to get more of the sea green and similar colors I wanted into the design without becoming garish. I’m an autumn, and if the persona is to reflect me, he should totally be dressing in gold and burgundy.
Also, I think way too much about that kind of stuff.
But Enough of That Art’n'Creativity’n'Stuff. Let’s Blow Shit Up
As InterventionCon rolls up its sidewalks at 3:00 on Sunday, that left me with all of last evening to occupy myself. I could have watched that Doctor Who we’ve got on the DVR, but instead I downloaded BorderLands 2 to give it a try. Mrs. Gneech and I are forever on the lookout for brainless shooty games we can play together, and this one is about as brainless and shooty as they come. Gung Ho FPS in a quasi-post-apocalypse SF setting with a soundtrack by Escape From LA, Borderlands 2 is snarky, sarcastic, and winks at you from the other side of the 4th wall to make sure you don’t take all the explosions and bloody head-shots seriously.
Does it work? Eh… sort of. The snarky humor and Wile E. Coyote violence are basically there to punch up pretty cut-and-dried FPS gameplay… go here, kill baddies, pull lever, kill baddies, find boss, kill boss, rinse and repeat. The loot is completely randomized, which does sometimes make for strange and amusing results. I picked up a gun which does something like 70+ points of damage and has a sniper scope (as opposed to the more common ~20 points of damage on the first level), so I spent a lot of time starting a battle from far distant cover and going “Boom! Headshot.” Borderlands 2 also floats around somewhere between FPS and MMO, with quest-givers, side missions, and explorer deeds, and encourages you to hook up with other players (via Steam) and take on missions together. However, your character model is determined by your class (all the women are “sirens,” for instance, and all the sirens are women) and the character models only vary by means of three different heads and palette-swaps. So it won’t be long before every character looks exactly identical to every other character.
Correspondingly, the difficulty seems to be all over the map, too. There’s a giant set-piece battle at the end of the first section of the game where you’re in an open area fighting a giant brute of a guy who is not only on fire, but who keeps setting you on fire as well as opening up giant fire pits all over the level. If you die, you simply respawn around the corner, which is handy, but every time you do, he goes back up to full health again. This led me into a loop for the longest time where I could just get to him, nick him a little, and then run out of ammo and get killed. Over and over. I finally defeated him basically through an exploit– I left the arena all together, which lured him over to one corner that stuck out so he could shoot at me, and he got trapped there by the AI pathing. So all I had to do at that stage was peek around the corner, snipe at him, and duck back until my shield recharged, then do it again. Since he was an otherwise unbeatable boss, I didn’t feel too bad about this– I figured that if the game is gonna cheat, I’m gonna cheat right back.
On the plus side, I do like the animation-esque art style and the western-bluesey soundtrack, which give me (positive) associations with Full Throttle. And I can see how the game would be fun with a full party, although I haven’t had the chance to try it yet. However, I suspect it’s going to be real hard to find a group that isn’t made up of four sirens, just because she’s the most appealing character design. We’ll see!
Yesterday, John Scalzi posted a righteous smackdown upon those who cry “fake geek girl” and demand proof of geek cred whenever someone engages in geeky behavior while also having the nerve to be female. His smackdownery was in response to a specific editorial written by a guy named Peacock, but also sums up well the feelings a lot of us have had over the past months as more geeky gals have stood up and pushed back against the phenomenon.
As someone who is not a gal but is of the general opinion that gals are awesome, I stood and applauded at this. On reflection this morning, however, I remembered that I have myself encountered, and commented upon, exactly the sort of “fake geek gal” Mr. Peacock was describing. She was at Dragon*Con, some years ago now, sitting at a table adjacent to mine, and well… let me just quote from my LiveJournal entry at the time…
Sales were slow on Saturday, so late in the day I crafted a new “BMSIBYF” ["Buy my stuff, I'll be your friend!"-- a running gag of mine at cons] sign out of bristol, tape, and extra cardboard and went back to the campy grin technique. Immediately sales picked up, and by midday Sunday, I’d made lots of new friends.
This caught the roving eye of the booth bunny next door. I have only a passing familiarity with the group who was next to us, but like so many of the people at D*C (and even more at Comic-Con) they are an indy comics shop who are Not Dark Horse and Not Image Comics, if you see what I mean. Demons in spandex and leather-trenchcoat vigilantes, that kind of thing. Their table had fairly brisk traffic, but their only product as far as I could make out was a $20 shirt with their company logo on it– not exactly an item calculated to set the congoing public on fire.
Thus, they had a booth bunny, a latter-day Betty Boop who appeared to be in her early twenties, with abs and eyeliner and auburn-in-a-bottle hair, who would take turns sitting on their table and lying on her stomach on their table, batting her eyelids at the people who walked by. Unfortunately for our neighbors, even having a booth bunny was not enough to make a $20 shirt bearing an indy comics label logo an attractive commodity, and sales were suffering. Meanwhile, 85% of the people who came back to our little corner and spotted me smiling happily and holding up my silly little handmade sign, would at least laugh, and a good 50% would then come over to the table and even if they didn’t so much as buy a button, they’d walk away having heard of NeverNever and The Suburban Jungle and remembering me as the “buy my stuff sign guy.” Several people who’d never heard of my work still wanted pictures of me with my sign.
Well, not knowing the booth bunny I can’t really ascribe motives to her, but I got the distinct vibe that she was jealous. At a lull in the proceedings, she sidled over to our table, batted her eyes at me, and cooed, “Could I borrow your sign for a little while?”
Halfway between annoyed and amused, I responded, “Wellll … I dunnoooo…” In the past, I’ve been approached in exactly that same manner by people who then proceeded to punch me in the face and take my lunch money. But she assured me that she only wanted it for ten minutes, so I acquiesced. And, having learned from bitter experience that discipline is paramount in these situations, made an exact note of the time.
So she took the “Buy my stuff! I’ll be your friend!” sign, hiked up her midriff-tied torn-off t-shirt, and started posing with it and telling people, “GOSH, if you buy our SHIRT, I’ll be your FRIEND! What more could you WANT?” [A business partner at the time], being susceptible to booth bunnies and insufficiently clad females in general, took the opportunity to take several pictures of her.
Not a sale.
After eight minutes of the fanboys not noticing the difference between her with the sign and her without it, their continued insistence on not buying the shirt no matter how much they stood around and ogled her, and my answering queries of “You gave her your sign?” with a casual, “Yup … she’s got six minutes left!” she apparently got disgusted and handed it back to me.
“Here,” she said. “I guess I’m just not as cute as you are.”
Now here’s the thing: I’ve been going to Dragon*Con for over ten years. Of the thousands upon thousands of women I’ve met or seen at Dragon*Con, regardless of whether they were supermodel types or not, this gal is the only one I have ever encountered who seemed to actually hold geeks in contempt and only be there with the purpose of being gawked at. (Technically she was there to sell books, as she was the model the artist had used to base his heroine on; I don’t know if she was getting a cut of book sales or what. The gawking was intended to lead to book selling, not actually the desired goal in and of itself.)
So it’s not like “fake geek girls” are exactly a rampant epidemic.
On top of which, and this is the part that gets me, can you blame the gal? By wearing her ridiculous outfit and posing in her ridiculous poses and doing that duckface, she got crowds of hormonal nerd zombies to line up at her table, staring and making Beavis and Butthead noises. If the table had been stocked with a $10 book instead of a $20 shirt, I have no doubt they would have made a killing that day from all the troglodytes going “Uhhh… hot chick… me give money…”
Meanwhile, a perfectly nice and real, genuine, bona fide geek gal artist of my acquaintance who was across the aisle was being roundly ignored by those same troglodytes, because she wasn’t vamping it up but instead sitting there, drawing and smiling quietly at anyone who walked past. If Mr. Peacock feels insulted that “I am supposed to feel honored that a pretty girl is in my presence,” maybe he should be railing at the troglodytes who create that environment rather than the occasional (and frankly rare) woman who tries to capitalize on it.
Those are the real “pox on our culture,” Mr. Peacock.
Just a heads-up, I am not at SDCC, but some of my buttons are! Moonbase Press, dealer L-02 in the small press section (a.k.a, John Lotshaw, Bill Holbrook, and the ever-awesome Mammallamadevil) are carrying several of my button designs, including the pictured “Fear of Strangers” button, the Ponytastic “Button of Charisma +4,” and the newly-debuting “CONTENTS: Awesome + Win” button. At $2.50, they’re way cheaper than yet another Exclusive Spider-Man Statuette!
While you’re there, say hello to Kerry, Bill, and /JPL for me!