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Social Niceties for Everyone

Level 0—The most basic NPC, or Non-Player Character, should be able to master the skills of Vocabulary, Hygiene, Hand Sanitizer, Public Restrooms & mitigation of the Stinking Gas Cloud (farting)


A variety of terms that are commonly heard at conventions can be found in this book (Dealer’s room, Art Show, Con Crud etc.). Most of the terms can be found in the glossary. There is one however that needs explanation immediately. The word “rescue” is used throughout the book. In this context it is a term indicating to help someone remove himself or herself from a situation that they find unpleasant, in as inoffensive manner as possible and without inciting violence. It is important to note this because if an attendee incites violence, even while trying to help someone else, they may be removed from the convention, and that doesn’t benefit anyone.

This rest of this section may seem like common sense to most everyone, and its point isn’t necessarily to teach, but to remind that, particularly during the hubbub of a convention it’s easy to get lost in the frustration of long lines, crowds and wait times. A polite vocabulary helps to grease the wheels of social interaction, makes people feel more at ease, and will serve you well.

Do you remember as a kid someone, a parent or other adult, asking, “Now what’s the magic word?”

In case you never had that experience, the magic word is “Please” and it opens many doors. It should also be followed by “Thank You” when someone does something nice, answers your question, moves out of your way, holds a door open, or engages you in any other pleasant manner. “You’re welcome” is generally the appropriate response to “Thank you.”

“Excuse me” or “Pardon me” are also excellent phrases to add to your vocabulary when interacting, or trying to move through the crowded public spaces at conventions. The cosplayer with the huge Iron Giant costume may not notice you standing behind them, but will be happy to move out of your way if you approach them nicely.

It’s a good idea to remember that you should treat people as you wish to be treated. As a second note, avoiding excessive use of swear words and obscenities among strangers is also a good idea. The use of such language helps to create a hostile atmosphere and does not improve the convention.


A fellow writer gave me the formula that he adopted for conventions, to help keep him sane and relatively healthy. Just remember 6-2-1.

6—At least 6 hours of sleep a night

2—At least two meals during the day

1—One shower every day

I have also seen this as 5-2-1 and 3-2-1 from various other sources. The amount of sleep needed is dependent on your Constitution score.

Please note that every single one of these equations includes ONE SHOWER EVERY DAY.

No matter which gender, the rest of us would greatly appreciate if everyone would take the time every day to shower at least once. In the process of showering and getting ready for the day, please also brush your teeth and put on deodorant. Perfume, Patchouli, Febreze or cologne is not a substitute for a shower and can trigger severe allergy attacks in some people.

“But … but …” the cosplayer cries, “I’m playing an orc (demon, troll, other underworld creature), and it’s more realistic if I don’t shower!”

It’s really cool to get into cosplay and role play; that’s one of the reasons we’re all here. However even the most dedicated cosplayer will not be eating rotted meat, stabbing people, ripping off limbs, or turning to stone in sunlight. Cosplay and role play can only be carried so far, and exuding offensive odors in public spaces is not okay. Plus it’s really hard to talk to people if they pass out as soon as they get within ten feet.

A few years ago at Dragon Con there was a group who dressed up as “Hygiene Fairies” and wandered around the convention handing out soap, deodorant and hand sanitizer to the hygienically challenged. How they financed it is a mystery, but based on my entirely non-scientific approach I would say the stinkiness of the convention decreased by at least thirty percent. Thank you Hygiene Fairies, I hope to see you at many future conventions.

Hand Sanitizer

(+1 to all health-based Constitution rolls)

To quote Obi Wan:

“You will never find a more wretched hive of scum …” [than conventions].

He was of course referring to the germs that one encounters at conventions, and their tendency to be transferred from one convention goer to the next. In order to protect yourself it’s a good idea to carry around and frequently use hand sanitizer.

Every time you touch something on a vendor’s table, shake a celebrity’s hand, hug a friend, or exchange cash with someone, you are exposed to germs. Con crud, that nasty after-convention illness that many of us fall to, takes on numerous forms and they are all unpleasant. Taking an extra moment or two out of your day to keep yourself healthy is well worth the small amount of effort.

If for some reason you are unable to use hand sanitizer (paralyzing fear of lotions, specific allergies etc.) wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water.

Public Restrooms

Interestingly a lot of the complaints about restrooms and conventions come from men not women, but then again, women don’t have to contend with urinals out in the open and are afforded a bit more privacy. There are several things to consider when using the restrooms:

Scenario: (-2 Charisma, -5 professionalism)

Jeremy is an aspiring author. He has published a few short stories on his blog, and just finished the manuscript to his novel. Steve is an editor and bestselling author who just finished a panel on “How to get published.” Steve had to run out after the panel and wasn’t able to stay and chat with attendees.

Jeremy was thrilled with what he heard on the panel, but since Steve had to run out, Jeremy decides he wants to hit the restroom and then head to the next panel on his list. Lo and behold, when he gets to the restroom he recognizes Steve at one of the urinals. Taking the initiative, Jeremy picks the urinal next to Steve and strikes up a conversation. As they finish up, Jeremy asks Steve to read his manuscript.

Okay—No. Jeremy needs to stop right here. He should NOT do this; it is extremely unprofessional and rude.

Jeremy should not ask for autographs, or photos, or anything else when he runs into someone well known or famous in a restroom. He should give them five minutes of peace while they take care of their personal needs, because sometimes panelists don’t have time to get to the super secret celebrity bathrooms and they decide to use the public ones like the rest of us. Jeremy shouldn’t punish Steve for this decision.

Cell Phones: (-1 Charisma)

Lothar the Barbarian walks into the men’s restroom talking loudly on his cell phone. (Yes it’s anachronistic, but hey, we’re at a convention!) He’s discussing last night’s pillaging and drinking with one of his barbarian buddies as he cozies up to the urinal. Everyone else in the restroom gets to hear about what a brutal fighter he is, and the mayhem his party caused in room 432. One person flees in terror, while another soils his loincloth.

Barbarians love their cell phones and frequently can’t be pried away from them. However, the restroom is not the place to talk on a cell phone or other device. Lothar should tell his friend he’ll call them back, do his business, use the facilities, and spare everyone else the details of last night’s raid. Lothar shouldn’t talk on the phone while he uses the urinals OR the stalls. It’s rude to everyone involved. Brigit the Barbarian should take note of this as well, as the same rules apply to female barbarians.

Hygiene: (-2 Constitution)

As Lothar the Barbarian finishes using the urinal, we hear him say to his friend, “Yah, I’ll pick up grub and meet the party for lunch.” He breezes out of the restroom, passing by the sinks, hand soap and hand sanitizer without a thought. He picks up several pieces of food for his group and joins them in the common room, passing around the communal basket of French fries, turkey legs and chicken strips. Two hours later the entire party fails their Constitution save and dies a horribly painful death that could have been avoided had Lothar washed his hands with soap when he was leaving the restroom.

It’s a good idea to wash your hands several times a day. A good way to figure out how long to wash is to sing your ABC’s, or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Jedi. Avoid touching things (ex. Cell phones, snacks, water bottles) that will be near your face until you have washed up. Con Crud is a real thing and you have a better chance of avoiding it if you wash your hands frequently.

Costuming: (-1 Charisma)

Costuming and restrooms can be a difficult thing. Restrooms in general at conventions can be a difficult thing—if you’re a woman, there never seem to be enough of them.

Jeanette has come to the convention dressed as a steampunk fairy. She has beautiful copper coil wings with a wingspan of nearly six feet. Midway through the day, she wants to re-apply some of her makeup and take a break from her wings, so she heads for the restroom. With assistance, she removes her wings and sets them in the middle of the row of sinks, effectively blocking the sinks off from everyone else. She then takes up the remaining space with her makeup bag, spreading the contents across the counter while she looks for her lipstick and eyeliner. What Jeanette doesn’t realize is that by blocking the sinks she is

  1. Facilitating the spread of con crud.
  2. Seriously annoying everyone else that needs to use the sinks and mirror.

If you are having a costume malfunction, by all means use the space in the restroom to fix it quickly. If it is going to take a while, please take it to a less public space (like your hotel room).

Please don’t take over the handicap stall to don your costume, or take up inordinate space on the countertops to apply your makeup or fix a broken strap. (Unless it’s 8:00 am and there’s absolutely no one around. If that’s the case, you’re crazy. Who gets up at eight a.m. at a convention? OR perhaps you’re still drunk from the night before. If it’s early, then it’s okay and no one will ever know.)

Be courteous in your use of public space. It is public and intended for everyone.

Public Farting (Stinking Cloud—Nauseating vapors, 3 rounds/level, 15 ft. radius)

It happens. You’re at a convention; you’re in a hurry and need something to eat. You opt for the hot dogs with chili, or the burrito because it’s fast, cheap and filling. A half hour later you’re pretty sure your insides are trying to kill you. (This is where the Pepto-Bismol comes in handy, too.)

Then, you feel it building, maybe it’s just a little one you hope, and maybe it will be quiet. It IS quiet, but suddenly everyone in a 15-foot radius has passed out from the noxious fumes coming out of your nether regions. Some of them escaped and you see them fleeing in terror. How do you avoid this?

Yes, we all make bad food choices that on occasion give us gas. If you’re in a panel room, public space, or working behind a booth and you feel one coming on, at a minimum try to put a few feet of distance between you and the people around you. You don’t have to be dramatic about it, just step to the side, or up against a wall (The wall will make the area of effect smaller).

In theory you don’t want to wipe out your allies or innocent bystanders by accident. Vendors are considered allies. Don’t back up to the edge of a vendor booth and let one rip. Vendors don’t have the option of escape. Be kind to your friends and allies and try not to fart in their immediate vicinity.


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