I’m not ashamed to admit it—I’ve played a little D&D in my time. I’ve read H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien and Douglas Adams. I grew up on Star Wars. I had an arsenal of wooden swords. I once tried to build a spacecraft in my backyard.
I’d say it’s a safe assumption that most people enjoy at least a modicum of sci-fi entertainment with some regularity, be it a movie, computer game, demented science project, or whatever. Some folks, on the other hand, eat, breathe and live the stuff like the undead devouring hapless graveyard visitors. For that particular set, there’s MisCon.
MisCon, or the Missoula Science Fiction Convention, is put on annually in May. Currently in its 15th year, it is a veritable summit of area sci-fi geekdom, attracting gamers, dungeon masters, comic collectors, writers, artists, wizards, sci-fi know-it-alls and New Age what-have-yous. Some people will come in costumes that run from feather boas to menacing battleaxes. There will be speakers, gaming, panel discussions, workshops and merchandise for sale, but more than anything, it will be a chance to totally geek out. And if you’re a closet geek, fear not. For you will be among your people, whether you love to argue about how many hit points a minotaur should have regardless of what the book says, or if you just love to pontificate endlessly about what you’d do with a time machine even though you have made a list of 22 critical time travel paradoxes in “Dr. Who.”
According to MisCon’s organizers, this year’s theme is “renewal,” as they re-energize after a couple of slower years. And re-energizing shouldn’t be difficult, as there will be plenty to keep your warp drives running. This year’s guests of honor are Native American writer Bill Yellow Robe, artist Robin Walker, who created this year’s logo, and actor David Allen Brooks of the television series “Crusade” (incidentally, his credits also include a bit in Cast Away and Jack Frost II: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman), who will all make presentations. There will be panel discussions on a variety of fantastic topics (pun intended), a live auction featuring some local art, raffles for all variety of geeky ephemera, a writing workshop for budding Heinleins, readings by various authors and a merchants area where you’ll find everything from four-, six-, eight-, 10-, 12-, 20- and 100-sided dice to books on alternative religions (I’ll be looking for a Hammer of Crushing, 8D10+20).
Then of course, there’s the gaming—D&D, GURPS, Paranoia, White Wolf, Magic. You name it, whatever dog-eared gaming tomes you carry around in your Bag of Holding, you’ll be welcome there. Dungeon Masters and Player Characters alike will have ample opportunity to search for treasure, slay monsters, explore catacombs and roll a lot of dice in Missoula’s premier role-playing event. The gaming will run 24 hours a day this weekend, and I’m told that there are typically 15 or more games going at any given moment. Most of it will be what they call freestyle gaming, an informal arrangement in which a GM (that’s Game Master if you didn’t know—roll against your intelligence: -2) proposes a game, and if role-players are keen, a game begins. There will also be some live action role playing based on the White Wolf gaming system.
Naturally, in this day and age, any sci-fi convention would be lacking some serious cred if computer gaming weren’t involved, but MisCon’s not about to disappoint in that department either. Convention organizers are setting up a LAN (look it up) that will have six to 10 computers for Unreal, Half Life and other such network shoot ’em ups. If you’ve ever been to a LAN gaming event, you know that it’s absolute euphoria for the gamers and a head-crushing migraine factory for anyone stuck in the room who’s not interested in the game. Attendees will also be able to connect their own machine to the LAN, but it would behoove those interested in doing so to contact MisCon for the details (or simply roll against your computer networking skill: -1).
MisCon Chairman Bob Cthulu stresses that MisCon is a family event with activities suitable for all ages, regardless of hit points or armor class. Children’s events will include wizard hat-making, a coloring contest and, on Saturday morning, a children’s story hour which is free and open to the public.
My spaceship never did get off the ground and I’ve since lost all my goofy-shaped dice, but with all of the science fact these days, I’ll be damned if we don’t forget about the science fiction sometimes. MisCon is here to remind us.
MisCon takes place at the Doubletree May 25-27. Tickets are $25 for the weekend or $10 for Friday, $15 for Saturday and $10 for Sunday. Call 721-7537.