Star Wars Celebration. Too much to be confined to one day, and too much to be confined to one blog post.
Before continuing on, though, I wanted to note something about the trip that has nothing to do with the show. California is in the midst of an extended, punishing drought where some smaller communities are literally out of water. The governor went on TV not too long ago to highlight the lack of snowpack that is worsening the low water levels in the reservoirs. He declared that Californians would need to change how they use and conserve what water they have.
Surprisingly, on my trip where I was basically a tourist, you'd never know it. The Hyatt had a shower that blasted like a fire hose (actually more than most hotels I'm in). Restaurants were still watering their lawns. Most surprising was that there was no mention of drought or pleas for water conservation anywhere noticeable. The hotel didn't even use the practices commonly used to limit towel washing. I didn't see any notices in the airport. If I didn't know going in about the drought, I'd never have known it unless I happened to watch the news. It's hard for people to pitch in and help where they can if they don't know they need to.
OK, on with the show. Friday...well, let's just say sometimes things work out even when plans fall through. After the typical morning entry line (though far better than Thursday), and a quick meeting in the hall, I made it late to Bryan Young's Star Wars Journalism panel, featuring bloggers and reporters from starwars.com and news sites. The panel included Bryan Young (Big Shiny Robot), Amy Ratcliffe (nerdist, io9, others), Eric Geller (theforce.net), and Tracy Duncan (club jade). It was a good overview and discussion of how rumors and news get sorted out and discussed with various Lucas or other reps as well as at the various sites.
After that, a significant portion of my afternoon turned out to be live streamed or otherwise recorded. I wandered back into the hall, thinking I'd check in at the forcecast booth about Saturday, and maybe see if I could find John "Dak" Morton, who had picked one of my Beyond the Rim RPG characters as one of his top five resistance fighters in the most recent Star Wars Insider. Forcecast was taking a break, and John was picking up to go somewhere, so I wandered back into the hall and ended up in the 501st and Rebel Legion areas.
I ended up meeting Donna Keeley, who is the current Rebel Legion leader, and was running the Rebel Legion youtube live stream during the show. The backdrop was a small but well done mock-Hoth base set. Before I headed out for the panel, John showed up for an interview. He recognized me right off and was excited to hear the Insider article was out. He talked a bit about picking Brun Brux as his fifth favorite resistance fighter, and the character's tapcaf connection.
You couldn't ask for a better backdrop for a photo with Dak than the Hoth set, so of course we had to do that. He also signed my Insider. Also, it turns out that about half the encounter ended up on the RL livestream - mostly my half. It's hard to hear and not really easy to watch because we weren't playing to the camera. Afterwards, John went on to have his interview while I took off for the FFG panel. Here's the RL link for those interested.
Participating in the Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars Tabletop Games panel was a Celebration first and something I was really looking forwards to. After rushing a bit, I got to the Fan Stage to discover an impressive line stretched around the entry area and down the balcony.
From our point of view, the panel started like this, with a little encouragement. Here's a link to Steve Horvath's twitter video, which refuses to embed in this post like it is supposed to be able to do.
My fellow panelists were Steve Horvath (FFG SVP of Marketing and Communications), Steve Kimball (FFG Board Game Manager), and artist Jake Murray. We covered all of FFG's current Star Wars RPGs, minis, and card games. They announced there will be a Force Awakens game....to be revealed at some later date. They also revealed X-wing Wave 7. They had the new Imperial Raider for X-Wing in the booth, and it looks great.
For more details, it turns out someone recorded much if not all of the panel:
Afterwards, I planned to hit the Continuity panel since that is a big subject these days. Unfortunately, it as held at the same stage, so when we walked out, the line was endless. A few FFG fans and RPG writers new and old waited just to see if some seats would be open, but no. When they cut the line, there were still enough people in line to fill another room. GM Phil of the Order 66 podcast and, as it turns out, Rebel Legion's All Wings Report In podcast, had suggested doing an interview, and it seemed like the perfect time.
And, it turns out, it was.
We went back down to the Rebel Legion to use their setup. When we got there, Chloe Dykstra and starwars.com were doing an interview with Donna. It also was part of the official starwars.com stream/broadcast, but this includes the behind the scenes bits they probably cut. It didn't last long, and we got to say hi to Chloe and Matt Martin.
We set up and....you can see the entire thing below. We had several surprises...including a somewhat unexpected guest (or not, given Chloe's presence....). GM Phil later called it podcasting gold. You can't plan this stuff.... Anyway, the audio on this is ok, but Phil is going to pull this for Order 66 and All Wings Report In and he might be able to clean it up a bit.
After all that fun, I headed to the Star Wars Insider panel, where there were as many writers in the audience as on stage. Afterwards, a few of us headed out and ate at the food trucks. Along the way, I met Micheal Kogge. We have the distinction of being the only two writers to have something published for each of the Star Wars RPG systems - d6, d20, and FFG. We figured out I've covered more editions, but he has gone on to write Star Wars Rebels books and more.
After that, it was off to the 501st party. It didn't disappoint, and was well attended by fans and celebrities. Sam Witwer made an appearance, and I also got the chance to talk a bit with show stage host and voice of Proxy (The Force Unleashed) David Collins. I unfortunately didn't get a chance to see Dave's panel on the Music of the Empire Strikes Back, but his Star Wars Oxygen podcast is a must for Star Wars music lovers. David and Sam spent quite a while on thecomlink podcast broadcasting from the party.
The next morning, I ran a demo of Star Wars Age of Rebellion RPG streamed live on the Forcecast. We were set up right in the middle of the autograph hall, with Star Wars stars of all popularities in booths around the enormous hall. Forcecast host Erik Blythe set everything up, including the players. As it turns out, all of the players turned out to be people who heard about the game and asked me at various times during the show about playing. I'd sent them to seek out Erik. This was great because I had a table of good players who were exited to play. It also meant that they could chime in on the demo side of explaining things as we went. I ran my Rebellion Day adventure, Rescue from Glare Peak, with one additional player.
The Forcecast is now posting the game to their Sabaac Table game podcast, with parts 1 and 2 already up. I'll add the link for part 3 when available.
After the game, I hit the Del Rey panel to catch a bit of news about upcoming books, and the Aaron Alston Tribute panel. Aaron was popular at Celebration as he was at other conventions, and it was nice that they provided a venue to discuss his work and also how a few of his projects were wrapped up. There were a number of loud Hawiian shirts around in honor of the late writer. I now feel it is totally appropriate to make a horrible joke that he was always a late writer, according to his editor. One thing they discovered was that he tended to outline the setup for jokes more than other aspects of his books.
Sunday I had time to fit in a couple of last panels - Novelizing Star Wars and Star Wars Rebels Past, Present and Future. Both were great. Rebels has been highly entertaining, and appears it will only get better.
So, as long as this post was, I likely left out something along the way. I spent a fair amount of time walking around early on with RPG freelancer Keith Kappel. We discovered that one thing more amusing than him receiving comments from FFG regarding his recent manuscript during Celebration was me receiving comments from FFG about my manuscript while I was on stage during the FGG panel. By email - they didn't tell me on stage.
It was a good show and a good time. I look forward to going to a future one, though it won't be London.