I’m here to tell you why this is my current favorite non-invitational convention and such an important event.
I’ve been to New Mexicon four times. I missed the first year, and I think that was the only year I missed. It has grown and changed and the vibe has continued to shift. The first year I went it was teeny, like 35ish people? And I got to meet some very cool folks. It was the first exposure to a mustering system rather than a preregistration system, and it’s very good for me as a player (so much variety, good read on the GM) and as a facilitator (I deliver a kickass pitch and never have trouble filling a table).
This year I think they had 100 or so folks. The muster was too big last year so half the players in any given slot were peeled away into preregistered events this year. I love this system! I really like the mix, because I think both kinds of event are fun and different. They’re also doing more larp events, which suck up a lot of players at once.
There was some weirdness revolving around a Vietnam Biker Vets group that ran an event next to ours and then invited themselves into our space, which I did not love. Irritating, frequently disrespectful I thought, but whatever. I think the hotel itself could have done a better job cordoning off our spaces and made the boundaries less porous. But not a big deal at all, just a distraction.
The past few years I’ve been doing a road trip from Tempe to Albuquerque, because road trips are awesome bonding experiences. My bestest con roomie MadJay Brown has accompanied me on all of them! We also end up with a car in ABQ and that’s really nice for getting out and about. This year, though, my brain finally turned to mush when it comes to route finding: we ended up way, way off course somewhere in eastern Arizona, a hundred miles off-course from the I-40. Our Thursday was mostly taken up with that. Aggravating and embarrassing.
Jonathan Perrine had the local-knowledge hookup and hosted a road trip Friday morning to Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, about an hour away. There’s a website. Check it out. The actual experience of the place is like a cross between the most terrifying children’s museum imaginable crossed with an escape room. Super interesting, super gameable/gamer-friendly, really put my head in a good place for roleplaying the rest of the time we were there. Declined the opportunity to drink absinthe “poured over a cotton candy cloud.” For reals. I cannot wait for an excuse to get my daughter out there. (For the terrifying children’s museum, not the absinthe.)
I’ve already written about the various events I was in but to recap for posterity:
Friday night was Bluebeard’s Bride, run by Katherine Fackrell. I had no idea that Katherine was running the whole con when she took four hours out to run this event. Good grief! It was super weird and freaky and fucked up and I think my favorite event. Yeah. It’s stuck with me the tightest. So grateful I got into it.
Saturday morning I was blown out from a late dinner and drinking and general too-old-for-this-shit-ness so I listened to Mark Diaz Truman hold court at the con table. It’s not a Magpie con but it’s impossible to avoid them at New Mexicon. Always super interesting to talk with him. Interesting to watch him age into the sullen cynic I always knew he had in him. (He’s neither of those things and fuck if I know how he fights it. (xoxo Mark!))
I kind of regret missing playing that slot but I super enjoyed socializing, having a relaxing lunch, and rolling into my so called Spotlight GM event at the midday slot at full power.
My event was good old Sagas of the Icelanders with an excellent table of players. SotI is the only PbtA I’ll break my “no more than four” rule for. I dragged Jahmal into the table at the last second because he’s awesome and more awesomeness is always better, right? Also had Morgan Ellis there, who I felt like I owed a better table experience than the last one I gave him, and three players whose names escape me now and I’m not sure follow the Indie Game Reading Club. Anyway. It’s an imperfect game but I know how to run it really well. Can’t think of a time I ran it that wasn’t just terrific. Played with the controversial Man 2.0 playsheet, which I’m happy to own despite the controversy. It’s a better book for one-shot play I think.
I think the con owes me a t-shirt for spotlight GMing. I’ll have to check with Nicholas Hopkins or someone about that.
Kit La Touche ran a fun table of Masks, the first time I’ve gotten to play it. Best superhero game I’ve ever played because it completely dispenses with comparative physics wankery. Oh fuck do I hate that. I hate it so so much. With Great Power did a great job swapping powerrrrz for drama, but Masks really nails it in a package that works for me. Had a terrific in-the-weeds technical talk about it with Brendan Conway later that drove home some stuff. Imma run it this year I think.
Sunday night was a very nice, very chill game of Golden Sky Stories run by Nicholas Hopkins. It was a D&D monsters hack of it called Fantasy Friends, where everyone is a dungeon monster doing nice things for each other between assaults by those nasty adventurers and their crime wave of assault, murder, and thievery. It’s a diceless thing so you burn through various economies of points in each scene, which is not my favorite model of play but it’s such a low-stakes game (can we figure out how to get this lonely gelatinous cube a hug?) that I never felt too amped up about managing those economies. It’s also a game with a fanmail-type deal where we’re supposed to be paying each other with tokens that we can use to improve our relationships. Between this and Epyllion I’m feeling kind of down on fanmail-type things where the players aren’t all engaging in good faith. Which, unfortunately, is far too common even among friends. Sometimes it’s just hard to continuously pay attention, and it’s kind of unfair to demand that of players just to make a core game economy work. I’d play it, absolutely yes, it’s just something I’m thinking about.
I stuck around post-con with Jeremiah Frye and Ralph Mazza to play The Expanse board game. Came so very close to pulling out a win but Jeremiah blew us out early with a huge lead. It was super nice to unwind with a different flavor of make-believe.
The roadtrip home was way less eventful. I took Jahmal and Ralph back to Tempe via Flagstaff, which is my very favorite place in Arizona. I wish we could have spent more time there.
A couple more days of gaming here (City of Kings and Star Trek Ascendancy), including my regular Tuesday night game (Coriolis), and I’m super gamed out. But I’m not feeling as sloshy and overfilled as I did after Colorado! Which is weird. Maybe all that driving and downtime.
Anyway: If you’re in the midwest or southwest, I cannot recommend New Mexicon highly enough. It’s still a quirky event but the size just works for me. I’d like to make BigBadCon in October but I’m getting kind of iffy about events that size.