This months blog carnival is presented at our good friend Chgowiz’s website, and the topic of August is Conventions & Renaissance Fairs! Now I must admit that I have never been to a RPG Convention, I live out here in the Heartland of America, born and bred in the proud state of Iowa! While it is a great place to live, big-time geek events are far and in between, factor that in with a respectable job and a great family to support, this doesn’t leave me with much time for globe-tracking, however it is a dream of mine to make it to Atlanta’s Dragon Con, as I’ve got lots of friends that go there every year and it would be killer to meet up with those guys again, but alas, in this economy nobody is made of money.
There was recently a CON in Omaha, Nebraska that I had planned on going to, but again, we had zero money for such things, and thus made other plans. I have no idea as to what actually takes place at them things. The OsFest was a Sci-Fi Con, but folks like Ryan of Save vs. Poison fame, ended up playing a good old fashion 1e game that I would had liked to play in, but like I said before, I just couldn’t make it this year.
Being a huge geek out here in the Midwest isn’t the easiest prospect in the world, the only geekfest that I ever attend is the Ren Fairs. Now, my city hosted a great one at the collage . . . well, it was great, until people started showing up. Ren Fairs were suppose to be rude, crude, and a little bit raunchy, it wasn’t ever outright lewd, but they contain a lot of innuendos which the average person found to be offensive, and instead of just walking out and failing to go back, like good human beings are suppose to do when presented with something that they don’t want to expose their children too, these people threw a fit and complained and eventually they sucked all of the fun right out of it.
Weapons were forbidden, the ladies of the night were forbidden, no slave traders, no “Bring out your Dead Guy”, no Troll cracking his whip while threatening to eat little children, no drunken pirates singing salty sea shanties, no gay blades fascinating the crowds, no fire-breathers, no ladies running around telling people how rude they are, no sexuality, no mention of drinking, no fighting, no smoking, and no fun of any kind. The only thing that was left was unhappy people, princesses, annoying fluffy music, and turkey legs.
Needless to say, I was offended and upset. This wasn’t a Ren fair, I mean, imagine, a politically correct history lesson about the middle ages?!? What is the point of that? Well, there isn’t one. Ren Fairs are more then just getting dressed in silly costumes and munching on Funnel Cakes (authentic no, awesomely good YES) but the point is to immerse yourself in a culture different from your own, that for me is the fun of the whole thing.
I don’t do the local one anymore, instead I try to make it to the great big one in Des Moines, we went a couple of years ago and my youngest was a bit too young and prone to random fits, I remember just wanting to watch the pirate show, a couple of spooky fire twirlers and eaters, the kid threw a fit during the first show, and we had to leave, and went again to catch the second show. One of those pirates, without saying anything, just took him by the hand and took him back stage, he came out a few minutes later loaded with pirate loot, about 50 bucks worth of toys which kept him happy long enough for us to watch the show which was great! Those guys were lewd and crude too, but that was just the act, deep down everybody involved are wonderful people.
What can one gleam from attending a Ren Fair? TONS!!!! As a writer, much like an artist, I strive to experience as much as possible. I don’t look at things the way that normal people do, I focus on how things make me feel, and try my best to be observant as possible. Much can be learned, the folks often attempt to show you average life in an entertaining way. Blacksmiths, glass-blowers, displays of armor and arms. Often the SCA is present, and have lots of booths and are more then happy to answer questions for hours. Looking at the SCA costumes are looking at authentic cloths of the period, which typically covers a much broader scope then simply the Renaissance.
Probably the highlight of everyone’s trip to Ye Ole Ren Faire is the Jousting Tournament, which many times the knights can be visited prior to the show, and they keep their camp historically accurate as possible.
This gives a game color, it isn’t practical or possible to provide a true picture, but it is better then just reading about it, and it is a great way to meet up with fellow geeks.
The true wealth of D&D knowledge is studying the characters themselves, for these are NPC’s. Mouthy knights, cowardly pirates, graceful nymphs, the actors playing each part put a lot of thought into their characters and they are just ripe for the picking, from the nastiest prince demanding that you show him respect, to the guy pumping the Root Beer, each character and personality is unique.
I always look forward to a GOOD Ren Fair, I enjoy the smells, the sounds, the colorful people, and, especially the Funnel Cakes.
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