I have just stumbled home from MisCon 25 in Missoula, MT. Along with my piles of dirty laundry and a hacking cough left over from my pre-con cold, I brought back countless wonderful memories from what I feel was the best con I’ve yet to attend.
MisCon is our home con, and it’s always great to catch up with old friends, make new friends, and finally learn the names of people you’ve seen and interacted with for years so I no longer have to keep thinking of them as Tall Steampunk Guy and The Guy Who Buys All My Dice Bags. This year, being the silver anniversary of the con, was extra special. Despite having the largest attendance of any MisCon to date (just under 800 attendees), it was cozy, homey, and so chock full of games and panels that there wasn’t a single dull moment. Anyone who ended up bored was doing it wrong!
Cons tend to go a little differently for me since I spend the bulk of each one sitting at our table in the merchants’ room. I don’t see much of the guests of honor (this year’s guests were author Carol Berg, artist Tiffany Toland-Scott, and professional costumer Kass McGann). I don’t get to attend all the daytime panels, games, and other events that I would like to. That just means I have to burn the midnight oil and make the most of what free time I have, and put off sleep until I get back home. My evenings and nights are always full, and this year was no exception.
Day 1 (Friday)
The first day of the con started early in the morning for us, as we and all the other merchants (and our minions slaves helpful friends!) were hard at work getting our tables ready to go. The next thing we knew, it was noon, everything was open to the con-goers, and the fun began. One of the great things about being an established dealer is that your friends know exactly where to find you, so Friday afternoon was full of big hugs and warm greetings as everyone trickled in, with promises of more catching up for later in the con.
My scheduled fun for the night after the merchants’ room closed was LARP: the Musical! This was my first LARP, and I nearly skipped out on it due to my lingering cough. But in the end, I couldn’t say no, and it turned out to be so epically awesome that it deserves a post all of its own (watch for that next week!). Afterward, I debated checking out the con dance, but instead I ended up in the Sandbaggers Game Club party room for a few hours until my eyes wouldn’t stay open any longer.
Day 2 (Saturday)
Saturday is always one of the biggest days of excitement at MisCon. Everyone has arrived by this point, so panels and games are at full force. I even managed to sneak away from our table for a few hours to take part in a game (Apocalypse Prevention, Inc.) in which my fellow players and I broke into the circa-1959 Roxy Theater in New York City to stop the movies from turning everyone into zombies. It was great fun, and on one stealth check, all three of us rolled natural 20s. Most awesome.
Once again a lot of the fun for me really got going once the merchants’ room closed. My husband was running a game, so I spent the evening with my friends. Several of us attended the costume contest, which is always a blast, and the little tykes in costume always steal the show. Aside from cute l’il War Machines and pirates, some of the amazing costumes included a stunningly accurate Lulu from Final Fantasy X, several highly detailed steampunk outfits, and a werewolf costume that pushed its wearer to a height of at least seven feet.
After the costume contest was the drag queen show. Yes, I said drag queens. The drag show is in just its second year at the con, and while I’m told this year’s wasn’t quite as exciting as last year’s, it was still a damn good time. A drag queen may or may not have flirted with me.
OK. She did.
After all the shows it was back to the party room again, where we were interrupted by a fire alarm set off by a fog machine. We all bonded in the dark cold night standing in the picnic area while waiting for the “all clear” from the fire department.
Day 3 (Sunday)
Sunday was a very big day for me, as I sat on not just one, but two panels. The first was “World of Yarncraft: Geek Expansion”, where knitters and crocheters gathered to talk about the geeky crafts we’ve made and hope to make. We even had a show-and-tell and got to see some very cool projects, including some gorgeous crocheted gears that one lady had made for her steampunk costume. (Bet you didn’t know steampunk was popular in Montana! One of our writers said, “I’ve never seen so many top hats and goggles in my life!”) We had a small but every excited audience, who were clamoring for more craft panels next year.
My second panel that day was on romance in RPGs, a topic I know just a little bit about. The other panelist spoke more on the aspect of real-life romance influencing a game, where I focused on in-game romance, so we both had something different to bring to the panel, and it made for some interesting discussions.
Once panels were done and I was left to my own devices, I sat in on the Whedonverse trivia contest (and learned that I don’t know nearly as many obscure references as I thought I did), then sat in the hotel lobby talking shop with a number of other pros. After my husband’s Star Wars d6 game was done (and the crowd of spectators he’d drawn finally dispersed!) a group of us went out for breakfast at midnight.
Day 4 (Monday)
Things really started to wind down on Monday, as folks with long drives ahead of them have to take off early. That said, the turnout for my final panel, where author Maggie Bonham and I discussed blogging for a geek audience, was small but lively, and it went much better than I had expected for a panel held during the last few hours of the con.
The last day of a con is always sad, as friends have to pack up and leave for home. We are always among the last of the dealers to pack up our tables, so at least we get to see just about everyone before they go. We had missed the opening ceremonies, but made it to the closing, and got to watch CthulhuBob Lovely (the head of MisCon) cry in joy (repeatedly) as he wrapped up the con and invited us all to come back next year. Afterward, a massive group of us went out to eat at the fabulous Irish restaurant down the street, and then the stragglers stayed up playing Apples to Apples until bedtime.
One of the most incredible things about the con actually happened at the restaurant, and it could have been a tragedy, but instead it speaks to the feeling of family present at MisCon. After four days of not carrying anything I couldn’t put in my pockets or badge holder, I had the brilliant idea to take my purse when we went out to eat. And I promptly left it behind. One of the members of the ConCom found it, and immediately tracked me down at the hotel, getting it (and everything in it) back to me before I even realized it was gone. At a bigger con, I have no doubt that anyone who found a forgotten purse would have turned it in to lost and found, but at this amazing little con, where everyone knows your name, someone will hunt you down and return it to you.
MisCon = Love
While the games, panels, and other scheduled events were tons of fun, the overwhelming majority of my warm fuzzy moments about MisCon 25 are just about the people. The hours spent playing party games and just sitting around talking are always my favorites. Existing friendships were strengthened and new friendships were forged. I desperately wanted to kidnap all my wonderful con friends and bring them home with me, and I miss everyone something awful. Based on the posts I’m reading from everyone on Facebook, we all left feeling the same way.
I’ve heard others say that MisCon is like the family reunion you actually want to attend, and I can’t think of a much better way to put it. As I told CthulhuBob at dinner Monday night, he’s given us a place to come home to every year. And I can’t wait for my next trip back home.
I’m already filled with nervous excitement for MisCon 26, which with guest of honor George R. R. Martin is going to be the biggest yet. I’ve already publicly declared my intentions to both run a game and wear some costumes next year, so I should be in full-blown panic mode any day now when that all truly sinks in. For now, I’m still riding the post-con high, and it just might be a big enough high to get me through the year.
Did you go to MisCon this year?