Boldly Going Into Iowa's DemiCon 29
  • Boldly Going Into Iowa's DemiCon 29

    Central Iowa gamers, cosplayers and fans took a trip down the rabbit hole last weekend for DemiCon 29. The annual science fiction, fantasy and gaming convention held at a Holiday Inn in Des Moines, Iowa, provided an impressive variety of options for entertainment, from art and music to creator-led panels. I tried to experience as much of the con as possible during my roughly nine hours in attendance, though gaming took precedence as I sorted out my schedule.

    My first event, a session of 5e Dungeons & Dragons, started at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The adventure tied into the convention's theme, which was "Down the Rabbit Hole," with a Wonderland-inspired story. Our party of 7th-level adventurers traveled to the Feywild where we did our best to entertain deranged half-ogres at a tea party before shrinking down to miniscule size to take on a faerie dragon while aristocratic Feywild denizens bet on the outcome of the fight. For anyone with even a passing knowledge of Alice in Wonderland, the adventure provided plenty of laughs and a clever D&D take on Wonderland. Cosplayers of all kinds filtered through the gaming room throughout the day. A crew of Klingons stopped to observe the D&D game for a few minutes, causing me no small amount of anxiety.

    Soon after the conclusion of the D&D game, I ran a session of Star Trek Adventures for a group of players who hadn't yet tried the game. I ran a scenario that I designed to provide a good introductory experience. It plunges the players into a crisis immediately when a shockwave of indeterminate origin collides with their starship in the first scene. They then have to conduct emergency repairs while piecing together what happened. It was my first experience running a game in a convention setting, and I was lucky to draw players who were both courteous and knowledgeable of Star Trek.

    After my game concluded, I took a few hours to roam the rest of the convention. I voted for my favorite works in a sci-fi/fantasy-themed art show and bought some Harry Potter and Batman souvenirs from vendors in the exhibition room to take home for my wife and son. I briefly considered buying some old Star Trek toys from one of the vendors before coming to my senses and realizing I'd have nowhere to display a new Romulan warbird.

    Before leaving, I had a chance to ask a few questions of Samantha Hackett, a resident of the Des Moines area and one of the leading organizers for the convention. Hackett said part of the convention's success lies in its diverse programming while remaining small enough that attendees never feel overwhelmed.

    "DemiCon is like this big group of friends," Hackett said. "It's big enough to have a lot of variety but small enough that you don't feel like you're just kind of lost in a crowd."

    I agree with that assessment wholeheartedly. I can't think of a single instance where I had to wait in line for any of the convention's programming.

    Hackett said this is her fourth year helping to organize the convention, and she said organizers are considering an expansion of smaller events throughout the year that will help drive interest in the convention.

    I hope that happens. DemiCon 29 had a lot to offer, and I'd love to have opportunities for similar experiences without having to wait for DemiCon 30. All in all, a successful trip down the rabbit hole.

    contributed by Fred Love
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