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"A friend brought in a Fluxx deck to school and my life has never been the same..." -- Martha K of Columbus, OH


Thursday, April 27th, 2006
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PenguinCon 4 was Totally Cool!

This was our first time at a Penguicon, and our opinions were probably influenced by having literally been given the Guest of Honor treatment, but we all thought Penguicon 4.0 was one of the nicest and most enjoyable cons we've ever been to (and we've been to quite a few).

I drew the cartoon shown here for the program book. (They featured it on page 15.) I also thought this cartoon could be used as the design for their T-shirt, but then they came up with that great cartoon of the Linux penguin styled like a Mad Lab Rabbit, which appeared at the top of this page during the last few weeks. Anyway, the point is, Penguicon is an unusual mix of computer programming and sci-fi/gaming cons, featuring a particular emphasis on Linux (hence the penguin theme) and the Open Source movement in general.

The main thing we had to do, as Guests of Honor, was simply to hang out and enjoy the party with the crowd, which of course was very easy when they've got 24-hour open gaming (featuring our games), plenty of caffiene (in unusual forms like water, mints, and gum), and amazing treats like Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream and an intensely cheesy concoction they were making (which Hefty was drooling over) called Chupaquesos.

But we also ran several events. Right after the opening ceremonies, I gave a talk on what future societies might look like after marijuana is legalized, which was well attended and evenly debated. (I thought it went really well, actually, and got good comments about it all throughout the weekend.)

Then on Saturday, we held another rousing round of Andy Vs. Everybody (in which I played 36 games against a crowd of dozens, winning 15 times) along with another Stuffed Animal Tea Party!

This was our 3rd Stuffed Animal Tea Party, even though this was the convention that we invented it for, and it was also the best yet. We had quite a crowd of mostly adults, carrying around an amazing assortment of plush friends and having a grand old time drinking tea and eating cake together. And speaking of the cake, I'd like to again thank the girl with red hair on the far right above, and to congratulate her again as well. For you see, this was no ordinary cake; this was leftover wedding cake! She's Moonbeam, the bride who got married at the convention the night before and they had enough cake left over to share with us. And it was a yummy chocolate cake, too! Yay!

Above are some more scenes from the party. On the left we see Shaun and Clark and the plush felines they were the guests of, in the middle are fellow Guests of Honor Steve Miller and Sharon Lee and their plushies, and on the right is Michael "It's Me!" Brightbill, who created a new stuffed friend to accompany him on the spot (using objects found in his room) named Pillow McCasey!

The final panel we did this time was another new one Alison offered to do, which also was a big success: a short class on Making String Figures! Here you see a scene from the end of the session, when they made a really big version of the Figure they were all learning, using rope.

Below you'll see pictures of the whole class, showing off the pattern in question, known variously as the Apache Door, or the Little Hammock.

With our official tasks thus complete, we got back to the job of enjoying the convention, which meant finally getting to play around with the Chaos Machine. It's basically a big and very elaborate marble racer, and since Alison dreams of building such an installation into a house someday, she got really into adding to the machine, and spent hours doing so. Of course, that's the whole idea... it's an Open Source toy, everyone is encouraged to change it around and add their own stuff at will.

I was once again very pleased with how the re-designed Just Desserts is playtesting, and in particular at how well Treehouse is being received. People love it! As the con drew to a close and the game room started emptying out, this group kept on playing game after game of Treehouse, until they were the last ones there! (They were also playing a really big game, the biggest I'd yet seen played, with 9 players.)

Anyway, we had a really great time at this con and hope to attend again in a future year, as a "Nifty Guest," which we get to do now any year we want, having been GoHs once in the past. Thanks so much to everyone who showed us a such a grand time and who helped make it happen, in particular our Rabbit Coordinator Josh, our con liaison Colleen, all the rabbits who helped run events like Shaun and Clark and Lewis. You guys rock!

AndyThanks for reading, and have a great week! (And if you'll be at Baycon this weekend, we'll see you there! (Actually, we're already in Hamilton... this update was posted from our hotel room!)

Thought Residue
The sessions at Penguicon 4.0 provided a striking example of why we officially discourage playing Are You a Werewolf? with an oversized village. (As Josh put it in his internally-emailed report, it was "an unmitigated disaster.") Instead of creating 2 or 3 Villages, and starting a new one each time you had enough dead people hanging around (like we do at Origins), this group insisted on playing as one gigantic village. And instead of starting something so fun it would continue literally all night, the game fell apart after just one hunt. It really isn't as much fun when you get past about 15 people. Just because you CAN play it with 30 or more doesn't mean you should. Don't make the mistake of thinking the game will be even more fun with even more people: the test results have proven otherwise.

"The hotel wanted us to do the panel somewhere else, but where they wanted us to do the panel was already being used by people playing games, eating lunch, and by a 'stuffed animal tea party,' at which, you guessed it, a bunch of stuffed animals were having a delightful afternoon repast. So there was nowhere for us to have our panel. Writer Dave Klecha suggested that maybe we should change the panel to 'Tea parties in Science Fiction' instead. So we did." -- John Scalzi's Whatever blog, "Penguicon Notes" entry
"Salad isn't food. Salad is what food eats." -- message on a button I was given at Penguicon this year by Colleen (aka Nazgul Bunny)

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