Monday, 20 August 2018

ConBravo 2017: Day 2 Plus

I was not able to attend ConBravo in 2018 - but I had yet to tidy up my recap files for 2017. So let’s get on that... if Linkara can post his ConBravo2015 AT4WLive in June of this year, I figure I’m good. ^.- Usual disclaimers apply: Quotations may have errors in due to my typing speed, so don’t take them as fact, and ensure you’re getting things in the proper context.

Expect mostly anime and role-play information in this post.

I already covered Day 1 in this previous post, bringing us to Saturday at 11:30pm and “Better Roleplaying Q&A”. The panelists introduced themselves as (apologies for spelling errors) “Flatfooted Fox Erin” and “Jordan”. Both are GMs who have done tabletop and text, Erin probably LARPing (Live Action RolePlaying) more. They had been concerned that no one would come, but there were a number of us.


Erin (left) and Jordan (right)
Jordan: Has been RPing since 7 years old, when a babysitter brought him to a session; didn’t get that babysitter again, but “he was the best, he had me kill monsters”. Didn’t get to do it again until high school, D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) 3.0 came out. “I’ve played a smattering of other systems.” Most familiar with pathfinder. Lots of tips and tricks are universal.

Erin: A late blossom for tabletop games, grew up in a small town and those playing were not welcoming to new people. Had better things to do like steal anime and write fanfic, but got into text RP, then LARPing, then tabletop.

For OCs (Original Characters), Erin has lots of fan art. Showed Bard O’Shea. Jordan has a cleric for a god of revelry, freedom. Uses those as primary goals, wants to drink something, free someone, and be brave. Erin opened the floor to questions before they rambled on personal experiences.

I jumped in and asked about GMing (Game Master/Dungeon Master) tips.

Erin: Something really important is creating and finding NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) that are most useful as attachment characters. Sure “there’s a princess”, but somehow everyone cares about this pickle maker. So that’s who the dragon should kidnap. A lot of Player Character creation and RolePlay tactics as the storyteller is, you can’t have a set railroad tracks. Everyone might hate a person. Jordan had a king...
Jordan: He was meant to be a spry, fun King. First appearance, jumped out from behind a portrait and punched a person in the face. The bard fainted. Then plotted against the King, turned the party against him, turned him into a pig. Players are your best sources of ideas, what your players love is what your game is about. You can fit what they’ve chosen into the game itself.
Erin: Like the pickle maker.
Jordan: I created the King’s lost son, who was going to inherit the kingdom, but only your players can help. Because what your players choose is what to go with. Also, players are a lot more forgiving than you think. The best thing you can do is try it out, do something really simple. There’s plenty of pre-made things to try, to springboard to what you want to do yourself.

Erin: Something really good when creating NPCs, but also characters, a book from early 2000s, like how made in “Knights of Old Republic” then graduating to “Mass Effect”. If you want an NPC to not be memorable, give a single personality trait. “Captain is Brave”. When you start adding traits, “Brave, generous, hotheaded” the NPC gets more fleshed out, someone to be cared about. Good for creating and staying in character. Even if that character falls into a trope, it’s what they’re all about.

Followup audience comment, cast your NPCs (including when writing), like “this is Jason Momoa”. Can then see him in your head, if you’re a visual person.
Jordan: That’s good advice, when’s your panel.
Erin: If you make the character in your head, it’s someone you’re excited to play, and people can tell if you’re not enjoying a character.

Question: Any tips for games that have large amounts of players, like 8 at table?
Erin: With a lot of roleplaying games, even writing fanfiction to LARPing large scale, there’s a certain amount of spotlight on character. When you get to a certain amount of people, you have to play with everyone at the table. You have to look and think, “what’s this person doing”. If someone does something weird at the table, like my bard is a flying fox girl who sings opera, you have to make your own conversations about where you did come up with that. It’s a boring session if you’re twiddling thumbs.
Jordan: Maybe “you three players, you have this to deal with, go talk about it” separate from the table. Could be a puzzle, riddle or talking character backstory. Then they can relate to other players, so it’s not up to you to relate to a whole group.
Erin: Sometimes people get caught in tropes, expectations versus reality. An idea that we’ll have a conversation and be buddies, you end up staging questions. If you’re happy being mysterious and putting a hood over your head, awesome, but if that’s not the character you want to play, you won’t be happy. Need to entertain you, the GM, and other players.

Followup audience comment, some players will naturally move more into the spotlight, so “I find a helpful trick for getting a person in, is have a time out, go individually to players”. Or if there’s a pirate NPC that gets on well with a broody orc, create a murderous buccaneer on board to get along with him.
Erin: Works great with five or less people, but at the six plus mark, combat is tearful, especially running 5 NPCs on top of your players. Can give some plot stuff to go and punch fish, players can help flesh out NPC actions too.

Question: What about when you notice one player has more off-player interactions?
Erin: I think that’s fine. There’s the same game we both run and play in it, trading off GM duty, “Lightbreak”. It evens out to it’s what people want to do.
Jordan: I have very little interest in text roleplaying. But it’s a great time to enhance the story, use that player as a resource. Drop a note, maybe put in exclamation points so they bring it up next game: “Guys, you forgot the prince’s son in the dungeon, with the treasure chest.” If you want to encourage, you could offer 10 XP, but I don’t usually do that.
Erin: If you really want people in on a conversation.
Jordan: That’s a player who is excited about the game after the game, so use that resource.

Question: How do you set stakes in a game, as not everything can be world ending?
Jordan: Nor should it be. We’re going to go back to the pickle maker.
Follow-Up: If players went in, had bad rolls, decided they weren’t ready and to let someone else handle the plot?
Erin: When you start, you do have to have something called a “vision document” - another RP panel at 7pm. If you’re trying to run a campaign of “everyone’s evil”, or “go through a building with traps”, it’s up to them to play it. It’s not your job to make up a new adventure on the fly, that’s super rude. If the players have a new direction, that’s fine.
Jordan: I’d say player failure is also a resource.

Question which was related to one of the old D&D models.
Jordan: Bad guys have won, that fundamentally changes the world. But if you want to continue, if it’s important, make the consequences of what they chose important.
Erin: But don’t send in an NPC to rescue them.
Jordan: Yeah, suddenly the people who gave the quests are orcish slavers. And they won, now slavery is legal.
Erin: So orcish slavers capture them and put them in your original module.
Jordan: Players should always affect what’s going on.
Erin: If they don’t like how this is going, that’s bad.
Jordan: Talk to them, if you want players to be heroes, be clear.
Erin: I keep meticulous DM notes about consequences.
Jordan: Like that kid we stole gold from in the first game is the bad guy now, he’s got a +5 sword!

Question: Suggestions about running evil campaigns?
Jordan: Two part answer. Part one is don’t. Second point is if you have an evil campaign, have that vision document or initial session, what we call session zero, where they talk about how they’re not going to murder *each other*. Because “I’m the Destroyer, I want to destroy reality - including these three guys.”
Erin: Things need to happen in expository after the game has ended. Have to put Player vs Player, boring to watch people roll.
Jordan: It’s up to the defender how interactions go. If evil people need evil allies, might want to kill them eventually, but they’re my useful tools right now.
Erin: Pick a tone for evil games. A small petty crime villain, a crew of bumbling bad guys, evil guys, it’s a bit slapstick. One concept was anti-Paladin who wants to kill people, to send people to heaven. Which wouldn’t fit with everyone being chased around by cats. Put things in a “vision document”, lay out this is what we’re planning to do.
Jordan: We should talk more about what a session zero is. A pre-roleplaying game session, where everyone talks about the campaign, GM talks about what to run, players talk about what characters to have. Can include character creation, interacting, “you’re my cousin”.
Erin: One time a GM was switching to being a player, the group also brought in someone else at that time. A relaxed setting, floating in and out of character, “Remember when we fought this thing”, they established a relationship. Organic conversation.

A question about motivations was cut off when ConBravo staff said the panel was over after half an hour. (Because that’s what the app said. Which was ridiculous, it didn’t match print copy and the room wasn’t being used until 1pm.) But the panelists said they’d be around for the 7pm TableTop RP session.


With that being the case, I went to pick up a commission (the person had messaged my wife on her phone) in the Marketplace. My second wasn’t ready, the third was emailed to me. (See my prior post for what they all looked like.) I then got a fourth commission from the same person I bought a Steins;Gate Makise poster from, and talked to a vendor about them possibly having a Hayate figurine they could bring in later. Also bought a new DVD from Linkara, then went to the hotel to drop stuff off before the VIDEO PRODUCTION 102 panel at 1:30pm.

I saw Steins;Gate cosplayers en route (SEE BELOW). Also, the Video Panel is recapped in a post with the other related panels (101/102/103). I left early to get to “Becoming a Webcomic Artist”. That got rolled together with Webcomic Q&A (because of panel juggling then splitting audience issues) and is also in it’s own post.

When things wrapped up at 4pm, I went to pick up my second commission, then wandered to check on the Nostalgia Critic autograph line; it had started at 3:30pm and was already capped. So to The Works for an early dinner with my wife. (Saw The Dom in the mall after having seen him with Calluna in the Artist area yesterday, was a bit surreal. I got his autograph last year.) Anne-Lise had gone to see the Improv (Channel Awesome vs Team Four Star), by the way.

Statistically unlikely tie, "Blind Gamer Live!"
After securing a table, I ran to the hotel to recharge my computer, and returned, leaving The Works before 5:45pm. (Funny enough, I saw Doug Walker there eating.) Went to the 6pm “Blind Gamer LIVE!”, which was Steve Saylor (who I’d seen last year) doing a live “Let’s Play” of games on the Switch (with no equipment).

Steve started out with some friends at the front that he knew, like Derek the Bard, who were “blindfolded” with towels to level the playing field. They did Quick Draw, and Milking, and Fake Quick Draw (the tie which I photographed). Then Steve had people compete against each other and against him (including the game “Wizard” and “Air guitar”). Finished with shaking the soda as the controller was passed around.

I returned to hotel by 7pm, retrieved my computer, and got in line for D20 live at 9pm. Except it would start a half hour late due to the Masquerade. I started to re-teach myself programming while waiting in line, as Anne-Lise mentioned that during the “Unintentional Comedy” panel, Jughead’s Time Police got a mention. (Likely from Tom “heisanevilgenius”.)

Again, D20 will have it’s own post. I’ll just mention that they’re using the Star Wars RPG system, which is one that I’ve already used. When that wrapped up just after midnight, I had a peek in at DanceBravo (“The Living Tombstone” was still going, I think), then headed off to get some sleep. I also added my Beam commission to the serial post going up on Sunday.

Sunday started with 20 minutes of the “Let’s Talk Anime” panel at 10am. We had Tristan “Arkada” Gallant, Geoff “Mother’s Basement” Thew and Brennan Williams. As Tristan said “The history of this panel is kind of weird. Originally it was Let’s Talk AnimeOnYouTube, with Tristan and Erika Szabo. Then there was another YouTube panel at the same time, so they opened it up [to all anime] and put other people on the panel. We’re in a nice small room, we won’t be teaching a history lesson on anime or anything.”


Arkada: Been talking anime since 2009.
Geoff: Been doing it since 2015, which is kinda crazy, he’s been doing it a lot longer.
Arkada: But you came in at a good time, 2015 was a good year.
Brennan: I was formerly in the CFL, I do not have a YouTube channel. I will be talking about anime on the UpUpDownDown platform in coming months, been an anime fan for as long as I can remember.
Geoff: Back when Brennan was a football player, when fans would come, people would have jerseys - and there’d be a line for him with anime figurines.
Brennan: I’d have to explain that to people. “Why are they having you sign little girls.”

Audience Person: In regards to anime platform on UpUpDownDown, wondering about Food Wars?
Brennan: Plan is Asuna(?) bringing in video game people, I’m going to do the same. Unlike football, there’s a lot more wrestlers who like anime. We’ll get into deep darkness soon enough. One idea I pitched is watching weird stuff with people who don’t watch anime. (He brings up an example)

Steins;Gate Cosplayers, ConBravo 2017
Audience Person: Is anime getting more mainstream?
Arkada: It always is, it’s kind of scary sometimes.
Geoff: I was talking about this last night, I think anime is on the cusp of going where superheroes went 10 years ago. There’s always a 10 year lag between the cool stuff nerds like, and the mainstream. I think we’re on the cusp of anime being a huge thing for mainstream viewers. Netflix has that Death Note movie coming out, which people have mixed feelings about.
Arkada: If nothing else, Ryuk(?) will make that film.
Geoff: “Edge of Tomorrow” came out a couple years ago, I think it’s the Blade or X-Men equivalent. They have a sequel coming out now. Cowboy Bebop has been in the works forever.
Arkada: For frigging ever. From “we’ll do this” to “here is the best script, and studio thinking that’s too much, cut it down” to “limbo hell”. At this point I almost don’t want it, they may do it just to get it out the door.
Geoff: Also “Guardians of the Galaxy”.
Brennan: But lack of interest in “Ghost in the Shell”.
Arkada: And Avatar is getting a sequel, WHY?
 (some discussion surrounding that fact)

Geoff: As far as the future of anime in the mainstream goes, ‘One Punch Man’ did better on Hulu than CSI, which is crazy.
Arkada: Now, CSI’s been around for a very long time, with varying levels of polarity for the series, but that’s still a big thing.
Geoff: Anime binge on Netflix is a real thing. As much as we hate them for holding back stuff like “Little Witch”(?), ‘Your Lie in April’ got a 100% spike view.
Arkada: It’s a big platform. You either have Netflix or know someone you mooch off of.
Brennan: I have four Netflix leeches.
Arkada: When you have that big of an audience, when you put anime there, people will be “I’ll look, why not”.
Brennan: We’re getting to a weird nostalgia thing too, people liked DBZ and Sailor Moon, and here’s a thing for that, so I’ll check it out. And popular things hit mainstream, like One Punch Man, Attack on Titan. It’s been a good progression, no year where there hasn’t been something.

Geoff: It’s only a matter of time until one of those gets a movie. And much as I hate to say it, a big thing to punch things into mainstream, the live action TV show of Sword Art Online (SAO) is going to help. As much as we won’t like it.
Brennan: It’s better to remake something that sucked than something that’s good.
Arkada: The popular MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) here [in the West] is WOW (World of Warcraft), so they’ll have to change SAO to be a bit more WOW.
Geoff: SAO is a bad MMORPG.
Arkada: It’s not even an MMORPG, it’s just people trapped in a fantasy land and here’s a menu that doesn’t work because you can’t log out.
Geoff: In the real world, it’s a digital sexting app with swords, because that’s how it would be used. As soon as something has sex simulation, that’s all it will be used for. I don’t think there’s anybody who has more of a hate for SAO than me.
Arkada: I was there when that show was coming out, I just don’t care any more.
Geoff: You’ve been burned out.
Arkada: Yeah. Kind of. I remember seeing the first episode live, and then four eps of filler, followed by everything else, and then I took a couple years off. I didn’t want to watch Season 2, because WHY. And then season 2 was good.
Geoff: It had five good episodes.
Arkada: Five good ones in a pile of crap, yeah.
Geoff: Consider this - UpUpDownDown isn’t an official network(?) channel and it has an anime channel on it.
Brennan: Yeah.

At this point, I left to get to Linkara’s “Atop the Fourth Wall Live” show. DAUGHTER of AT4W Live, with the introduction: “ConBravo isn’t an anime con, but the flavour is there. But there’s only so much I’m interested in there, so maybe it’s time to branch out a bit. To see more classic stuff. Something completely removed. Maybe I should review a manga from Trigun or Gundam or something. Or I could just do “My Hero Academia.””

He concluded that the comic was pretty good, and then did Q&A for the last half hour. I’m shifting that to be with the Q&A of the Internet Reviewers post. In part because when it was over (and Dom and Calluna came in to meet him, making me realize there was a dating thing there... oh, they were going to do an Adaptations panel but changed it to Game of Thrones) I went to a bit of “History of Anime”.

This was again Geoff Thew with Brennan Williams and one other (didn’t take a photo reference, oops), talking about what the best era of anime might be. They seemed to be wrapping up commentary on Detective Conan - it is what it is, a good teenage mystery.

Heading into the 2000s was “a big dip”, with some highs like Azumanga Daioh and Cromartie High School. Out of freaky nowhere comedy. But it was “a lot of people learning to use new tech” as well as “people trying to remake stuff they grew up on”. Like FMA (Full Metal Alchemist), which is still really good. Another amazing one before that was Scrapped Princess.

After FMA was Eureka 7, then things like Soul Eater. (Audience people started shouting stuff in here.) One of the panelists said being in the 2000s they could mention Black Lagoon. Also Elfen Lied. Still, an issue was people trying to capitalize on what was popular in the 1990s, like Evangelion.


I headed back out to the Marketplace before 12:30 to pick up my last commission (she was out of cards, I wrote her Tumblr on my programme). Ran into BigMike in there, and asked about the spelling of the D20 character names; he said I could always post to the D20Live Facebook page. Then at 1pm I went to the third in the video production series, VIDEO 103 - again, all of that video series is it’s own post.

(Commission from pappomut)
That didn’t wrap until 2:30pm, at which point I went to "SCARY FIRST STEPS: CREATING INTERNET CONTENT" featuring MasaeAnela (known for long “Let’s Plays” like “Tales of Symphonia”, also an artist). My typing fingers needed a break though, so I just listened in from 2:35-3pm.

A few things that came up towards the end:
-Nice comments make it worthwhile. But you also need a thick skin for the internet. It’s unpredictable.
-“I started this to improve myself. And I do it because I enjoy it.”
-Both Twitch and YouTube involve talking over playing a game, but for the former you’re saying what you’re doing LIVE, versus the second you can get into editing. Some prefer one over the other. (MasaeAnela likes Twitch, “I don’t have to do anything after I’m done talking”.)
-For building an audience, Twitch might be easier just now? YouTube has gotten difficult to connect with people, it’s completely unpredictable. (Personal aside: A year later, it’s become even more insane with copyright strikes.) Twitch has the social aspect, the chat rooms, it’s easier to build friendships.
-“Touch your own heart with your craft.” It’s easy to get wrapped up in numbers, in comments, in everything. Having fun is the important thing, and everyone is different.

That panel ended at 3:30pm, at which point I got set and in line for the last panel I’d attend, the CRITICS Q&A at 4pm. This was Tom “heisanevilgenius” White, Calluna, The Dom, Rantasmo, Arkada, Leon Thomas, and eventually Nash (who had been double booked in CBs Got Talent until 4:30pm). So that will be it’s own post (along with Linkara from earlier).

When it wrapped up, I took the time to shake Nash’s hand, and wish him the best medically... I’ve been listening to Radio Dead Air’s live show for two years, ever since he delivered the keynote. (Personal aside: Three years now. Thanks. ^.^) And that’s pretty much it, I was back at the car for 5:30 with Anne-Lise, because of the six hour drive back home. The mini-panel posts & links will be up over the rest of the week.

Providing final thoughts at this point feels weird, since the event is now 13 months in the past, but this was a nice revisit, and I’m hopeful that you took something away that can be of use too. A reminder that if I messed up on a spelling or a quote, let me know. Or if you have something to add, leave a comment. And if you want to see the stories featuring the character commissions, you should check out my writing blog. Thanks for reading!

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