Pheno. Great Maker, it’s been far too damn long. My throat is sore, the adrenaline is crashing and I’ll like sleep like the dead now that I’m back at home. I hadn’t realized just how much I’d missed that con. The people, the atmosphere, the spirit, the snacks. The mix of familiar and strange. Friends I hadn’t seen since the before times. If you’ve not tried it, I can’t recommend it enough. They’re a lovely, welcoming bunch of weirdoes and long may they remain so. The appeal of conventions for me is games I wouldn’t get to play in my regular group is a massive part of why I keep coming back. The sheer variety of games on offer, and knowing that I’ll only get to play some, well, it’s the price we pay as GM’s. To say I was a bundle of nerves in the lead up was putting it fucking mildly. I’d had my game idea stuck in my head for what seemed like 5 years, and the brain hasn’t been co-operative at the best of times. Terrified of trying something out of my comfort zone, something in a universe that means so much to me, and terrified in general. A deep delve into obscure lore in a section of a near 30 year old TV show that has next to no existing canon? It’s a risk, right? The game itself was finished the night before (Naughty, I know) and in the lead up I kept telling myself that I’d never do anything this ambitious again.
And you know what happened?
HOLY ZARQUON SINGING FISH, IT WORKED. The game worked, my players enjoyed themselves, I had a bunch of them costume (Including several home made Minbari head bones) and even the people who hadn’t seen B5 seemed to enjoy things. I had a couple of players say they were going to dive into the lore afterwards and there are few higher compliments to me. It wasn’t till halfway through the first session till I realized that it was working, and I damn near wept with joy. The first time I saw people in costume for my game my jaw hit the floor, and I was still reeling from a “Hey, I’ve heard people saying lovely things about your game” from a GM who’s Night Sisters freeform broke me into tiny little pieces several years ago. I still have trouble hearing something Russian and not getting choked up with emotion, but I’m certain that someone 5 miles away could whisper “The Tales of Ba Sing Se” during a thunderstorm and I’d start to cry. Hearing someone say they took a week off work to costume for your event, I’m glad they told me after the game as I may have collapsed in shock beforehand.
It wasn’t all me though, far from it. I can’t thank my helpers enough. To my Co-GM and proof readers/wranglers, you know who you are and an entire fleet of drinks can’t come close to thanking you for the help, improv and encouragement. If it wasn’t for them, the game would still be a half written Google Doc. Since I’m giving thanks, no mention of this event could not mention J Michael Straczynski and the late Mira Furlan, without whom my event would not have happened. It’s felt through a lot of the writing process I’ve had Furlan looking over my shoulder, saying “Don’t fuck this up” and yeah, it’s added a tiny amount to the pressure. It’s not for me to say whether or not I measured up to the show, but my players enjoyed themselves and that’s what’s important.
We also did our part to foster the next generation by taking Niece, Age 14 with us and given she’d only ever played D&D, to her to walk away with 3 trophies was quite the achievement. We’re very proud of the tiny lumberjack. I asked her afterwards if she was coming back next year as a GM and got a firm “HELL NO”, so given that I figure she’ll be running games in oh, 2-3 years. To top it all off, our team wound up winning the Diptych award, which means Squadron 40 will soon be engraved on that mighty trophy. Naturally, we have to return next year to defend our accomplishment!
As for what happened in game? Look, a lot of it’s a blur. The first 3 sessions elected a different Chosen One to lead the Council, while the 4th session decided they didn’t need one. It wasn’t a unanimous vote, but enough got it over the line. 10 minutes into the first session the Warrior Caste sent their entire fleet out to look for the Shadows. The second session was closest to the show, being more quiet and contemplative (The two introverts did wonderfully) and in session 3 one of the Council punched Ranger One in the face. The two Council members in Session 4 who went to talk to the Vorlon about exploring Z’Ha’Dum, and their faces at it’s response of “Ill advised. Have been warned.” My favourite quote is still “Valen said the Shadows would return. He didn’t say the Vorlons would return.” and look, they aren’t wrong. Seeing the ways my players took the sheets and ran with them, frequently in areas I hadn’t considered, was a joy. It’s one of the big reasons why I GM. There were a few people who’d queried their approaches with me, and to them I say “If that’s the approach you have from reading the sheet, then go for it.” Who am I to stifle player creativity?
I’m still buzzing on a high from the whole thing, and yes, I’m already planning for next year. Before the con I was thinking about going back to swashbuckling, but with the confidence boost I’m in the early stages of planning another Babylon 5 freeform, this one set in the Centauri Royal Court. No, this isn’t just to see what people do costume wise, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking of that. I’m unsure as to the time period, but the current idea is the Emperor is dead, and that’s set the power vacuum to 11. Sure, everyone wants the power of being the Emperor, but no-one wants the giant target on their chest that results from sitting in the big chair. I have a strong feeling I should get a hold of a copy of The Prince for flavour while writing and should prep a bunch of spare characters, as I don’t expect everyone to make it out alive.
It has been a glorious weekend and I am spent. Time for sleep. Be seeing you, my good, dear friends…