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In D&D there are certain attributes you start with, just as in life there are certain things you’re born with: Strength, Will, Dexterity, Charisma, Wisdom, Intelligence and Constitution. Whether you do well or not in your class depends on how many skill points you drop into something, and how well you roll. In life, you gain skill points by practicing and trying new things. When you increase your level, you get to increase your stats.

Charisma plays a large part in life, though in D&D it is sometimes seen as a useless skill. While I can’t promise this book will help prevent every faux pas there is, or overcome all social anxieties, it will point out some of the unspoken social rules and provide guidelines for interacting with other convention attendees. There are also tips on how to keep yourself safe; appropriate rules of behavior for a variety of situations; information on how to start conversations; a primer on flirting and how to network; and suggestions on keeping yourself healthy and relatively sane during the course of the convention.

At the time of this writing I have been attending and working at Science Fiction/Fantasy/Comic conventions for about fifteen years (and gaming for longer than that). It’s not how I make my living, but it is something I have always greatly enjoyed. The interactions between fans, guests and the general public are fascinating, as is the interplay between the different fandoms.

Working at conventions is in and of itself a unique experience that, for me, has frequently involved ten to fifteen hour days spent talking with convention goers, setting up booths, keeping track of panel and performance schedules, and selling merchandise. It has also involved learning what items are most useful to have on hand and which behaviors are best suited to the convention (and which are not). This environment helped me change from socially awkward and introverted, to vivacious and able to carry on conversation with total strangers. I hope my experiences can point you in the right direction to a more fulfilling convention weekend.

The past several years have seen an increase in the convention-going population. In response, the blogosphere has been shining a spotlight on some of the inappropriate behaviors that can occur. (Sadly they rarely cover the appropriate ones.) In an ideal world, everyone would already know how to behave in every social situation. Of course then life would be boring and we wouldn’t have conventions that present us with unique social challenges.

I wanted to provide bits of advice on how to navigate through and survive some of the peculiar situations and denizens that you, the hearty adventurer, may encounter. This is a guidebook or cheat-sheet for some of the more common situations that science fiction and fantasy conventions present to attendees, professionals, volunteers and staff.

This is by no means a comprehensive book on social behavior, just a primer on how to make everyone’s convention smoother, easier, safer, more fulfilling, and most of all: fun! You may encounter a few terms that you are unfamiliar with throughout the book. If you do, please consult the glossary!

People from across the spectrum of the convention were consulted on which topics to include. If after reading this book you have additional topics to suggest, questions, or comments please feel free to contact me at

Enjoy this series of tips, suggestions, situations, and rules to help you level up!

Convention Survival List

Okay, pack your bags, you’re setting out for a weekend of fun, frivolity, sales and networking (depending on which category of con-goer you fit into). Here are a few things that you might want to bring, just in case. We will assume (dangerous I know) that you will pack the things you know you need.…like clothing and prescription medications. Here are a few things that you might not think about immediately.

  1. Pepto-Bismol: chewable tablets that travel easily, or their equivalent in liquid form. (Healing potion +1, stomach ailments)
  2. Ibuprofen (General Healing +1)
  3. Cold medication (Healing potion +1, con crud)
  4. Benadryl (+1 to sleep and allergy reduction)
  5. Band-Aids (+1 heal checks)
  6. Hand sanitizer (+1 health-based Constitution rolls)
  7. Actual cold, hard cash—small bills please, the vendors will thank you. (+1 negotiation skills)
  8. Small sewing kit (+1 skill check sewing/costuming)
  9. Power bars or other high-energy, non-perishable, portable snacks (Standard Adventurer kit).
  10. Refillable water bottle (Standard Adventurer kit).
  11. Street clothes—for those times you have to walk through an airport/subway station/gas station and don’t want to be stared at. (+1 disguise)
  12. Comfortable shoes—conventions involve lots of walking and standing. (+1 Constitution)
  13. Self-Adhesive Moleskin Pads—if you didn’t take the advice on comfortable shoes. (+1 heal checks)
  14. Fuzzy slippers—for when you finally collapse in your hotel room and think your feet are actually trying to kill you. (+1 heal checks)
  15. Nail clippers (+1 hygiene)
  16. Extra chargers for your electronics. (+1 street smarts)
  17. A copy of this book (+1 social knowledge checks)


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