Writing, life, politics

A Brief (And Late) Dragonmeet Report

I had a really good time at Dragonmeet. The last two years I’ve been stuck behind a stand selling Game Night, and the problem with that is that you basically miss the actual con. This year, I didn’t have a stand, so it was really nice to get out and about.

I went down with Mark Barrowcliffe, author of the D&D memoir the Elfish Gene, who’d expressed an interest in checking out a gaming convention (he’s been out of gaming since about 1983). I think he was just a tad worried that he might get a slightly hostile reception, given that some people were a little bit upset about his book – but actually everyone seemed really nice towards him.

(When two copies of the Elfish Gene were being auctioned off at the charity auction, someone did shout out, “How about you just auction off his home address!” but it was said in a very jokey manner).

We sort of mooched around in the morning, then I did a panel at 12 with Mark and fellow authors Dave Devereux and Stephen Deas (and yes, it is a bit poncy to use the phrase “fellow authors”, but please forgive me – I’m still bouncing around with pride and excitement about being up there on a panel with them, as a peer). The panel was about the ways in which roleplaying may have influenced what we write. It was pretty well attended – must have been at least sixty people there – and I’d like to think I was at least half-way coherent and a bit entertaining.

Danie Ware from Forbidden Planet (@Danacea) took a picture of the four of us, and kindly gave me permission to post it here:

There was a quite funny moment at the start. When I did some panels at the last Eastercon in Bradford, one person was pre-selected to chair the panel and the panelists had to assemble in a “Green Room” area 15 minutes before; the idea being that you all then had a quick chat about what you were going to say.

Dragonmeet does it a bit more casually; you turn up at the actual panel room at the appointed time, a gopher makes sure there’s enough seats and introduces you all… and then leaves.

It was at that point that I suddenly realised that I perhaps ought to have thought about what I was actually going to talk about (I have to confess that up until then, I’d concentrated all my efforts on getting onto a panel, self-publicising author that I am), and looking around at my fellow guests, it looked like they were having similar thoughts. It was just the four of us, staring at each other, with about sixty odd people expectantly waiting for us to entertain them.

Luckily (for me at least), Dave Devereux stepped up to the plate and acted as sort of chairman, getting things going by describing how he got into roleplaying, with each one of us in turn giving our first roleplaying story. I ended up really enjoying the hour; it whizzed past, and it was really good to meet and chat with Dave and Stephen.

Then in the afternoon we (Mark and I) played a game of Hot War, which is by my friend Malcolm Craig, and is the sequel to his game Cold City. That went really well. Mark ended up going a bit “evil god” after putting on an “ultimate power helmet” (and his character was supposed to be a smooth-talking bastard) and we had to kill him, but everyone had a good time. (It was apparently his first roleplaying death since 1982 or something).

Then came the final part of the day, the charity auction, compared as always by my good friend Brian Nisbet (@natural20), and an event in which I managed to avoid a divorce by failing to get the only copy of the still unreleased Doctor Who Roleplaying Game. (I got up to £220, but I think it went for £250). I did end up getting a rather special Star Wars item for the ridiculous price of £35.

This was a prototype that Wizkids made for a “click-out collectable miniature” type game like Pirates of the Spanish Main – but for Star Wars. In the end the game wasn’t produced, so the prototypes were all there was. There were three of them on offer at Dragonmeet, all different, and I ended up getting one of them.

I didn’t actually want it. But I figured it was something that deserved to go for a reasonable amount of money, and since Brian was auctioning them by a method he uses for multiple items where everyone interested puts their hand in the air, he starts shouting ever increasing figures, and when only x number of people still have their hands in the air (where x is the number of items on offer), those x people get one of the items, I figured I’d keep my hand up for a while.

But in this case, loads of people had their hands in the air… and they all seemed to put them down at the point he got to £30. And then I ended up being persuaded to pay an extra £5 in order to have first pick from a selection where I genuinely had no preference on account of not wanting any of them in the first place.

I think I might donate it to the Warpcon charity auction.

And that was Dragonmeet 2009, save for the obligatory post-con trip to a pub, a very long journey, and bed around 1am.


  1. LBH

    The panel was very entertaining Jonny, all 4 of you did very well.

    Hope you sold more copies of Game Night than the one I bought.


    • Jonny Nexus

      Thanks, that’s very cool to hear. And it was good to catch up with you again. And I did sell more copies that than the one I sold you… one other in fact, for a grand total of two!

      Anyhow, thanks!

  2. Neil Ford

    I rather object to being called a gopher but do take your point about panel moderation as one well made. We’re going to improve on that aspect of things.

    Good to hear you had a great day. Once again, thanks for being a guest.

    – Neil.

    • Jonny Nexus

      Hi Neil,

      Firstly sorry if I’ve upset you with the gopher comment. I was using it as (I guess lazy) shorthand for “Dragonmeet guy responsible for the panel” because when me and the other Critical Miss guys gophered for Dragonmeet some years ago, I recalled that some of them were responsible for the panels area. And sorry for not remembering it was you, and referring you to name, but I’ve got a terrible memory for putting faces to names to people I’ve met together.

      (The second time I met my now very good friend Brian Nisbet, I insisted to him that it was the first time we’d ever met).

      I know we did meet and briefly chat later, but I’ve got such a bad memory for faces that I hadn’t mentally joined the dots with also meeting you at the panel.

      And as regards the point about panel moderation, I wasn’t actually trying to make a point – or if I was, it certainly wasn’t one that was aimed at you and the Dragonmeet organisers. I was more trying to poke fun at myself for not actually thinking about what I was going to say until I got there.

      For the record, I think the Dragonmeet “relaxed” style works fine, and I wouldn’t worry about changing it. If guests (like me) experience a momentary feeling of panic at the start because they haven’t thought about it, I think that’s entirely the guests’ problem.

      Anyhow, sorry. It wasn’t my intent to to criticise, and I should have used my language more precisely.

  3. Neil Ford


    No need to apologise. My gopher comment really should have had a smiley after it, as it was most certainly meant in jest.

    As for the panels, you actually made a valid point. Having made comment about such a failing at another event earlier in the year, to do it ourselves was a little embarrassing. It was actually the first time I’d seen the panel set-up at Dragonmeet so was actually as unprepared as the rest of you. Not a good position to be in as one of the organisers.

    I already have some thoughts on how we can manage things better, so you can expect improvements for next year.

    – Neil.

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