Every year, ConFusion, Michigan's main SF/F convention, chooses a theme. This year, the con-com chose My Little Pony. I've fallen out of going to ConFusion over the last few years, mostly because it always lands smack in the middle of final exam season, an awkwardly busy time for me. However, Aran is a big Pony fan, and he wanted to go, so we decided to day-trip the convention on Saturday.
Saturday was part of the Great Michigan Fog, and although ConFusion was just down the road--literally--from our house, it took quite a long time to get there. But we made it safely. Got registered, and set out to explore the hotel a little before the 11:00 AM panel Aran wanted to see.
Here I have to offer some criticism. The theme of the con was supposed to be My Little Pony, but there was almost no Pony programming. I mean, virtually none! There was exactly ONE panel about the show, and the flim room, which should have been showing MLP videos end-to-end, showed 80 minutes of MLP stuff. (The rest of the video programming was, for some strange reason, taken up with Mel Brooks comedies. I have no idea why--only SPACEBALLS had anything to do with SF fandom.)
Aran wandered off by himself, and I went into the gaming room to see what was going on. As it happened, a drop-in D&D game was just getting started. I hadn't played D&D--or any other role-playing game, for that matter--in years, and since I had nothing going for the next few hours, I said, "What the hell?" and sat down.
The game started off rocky. The Game Master had chosen an adventure for first-level characters, which was a mistake. First level characters have very few abilities and are difficult to play well. The whole point of being first level, in fact, is to get the helll OFF first level so you can actually do something interesting. I mean, when one shot from an opponent can kill your character, you have some problems. The GM really should have gone for fourth or fifth. Additionally, none of us knew each other, so it took time for the group to figure out who the heck we all were and how to work together. I was old enough to be the father of everyone at the table, and probably grandfather to the youngest player. (Oi!) It showed in our gaming styles.
But toward the last third of the adventure, the group gelled, and we worked out some good teamwork bits. Thanks to some quick thinking, we even saved our characters from an unexpected flood by slicing the tops off some giant mushrooms and using them as rafts. So on balance, the adventure came out well.
By now it was lunch time. I had discovered that Kris Smith, the president of Book View Cafe
, was attending the convention, and we arranged to meet at mid-day. Since I'm secretary of BVC, we've talked a lot via email, but never in person, so it was nice to meet her face-to-face. We had lunch in the hotel restaurant (stereotypically, I had a hamburger and fries while she had a salmon salad), where we discussed and single-handedly solved all of BVC's problems. :)
I hooked up with Aran, who had attended a couple other events and who wanted me to attend a panel on costuming with him. Aran thought the costuming panel would have demonstrations in it, but it didn't, and Aran seemed to lose interest partway through.
A little while later, Aran announced that he was ready to go home. I think the lack of Pony programming disappointed him, and . . . I was with him. I'm not a Pony afficionado, but the main reason I came was so that Aran could find some Pony time and talk with like-minded fans, but outside one panel, one video, and a few decorations, My Little Pony was conspicuously absent from this Pony-themed convention. I'm sorry to say that if I had known this would be the case, I wouldn't have bought the tickets. It's true that the programming materials were available on-line before the convention, and Aran and I checked them, but way back when I bought the tickets, no programming was available, so I bought the tickets assuming there would be lots of MLP stuff, and was disappointed. The convention itself was nice, and it was a good SF&F convention. It didn't live up to being any kind of My Little Pony anything, which was the only reason Aran attended.
But the DnD game was fun.