Con Notes: Groupie Moments

I talked yesterday about hidden benefits of convention-going—the ways that watching the other people there, or even looking introspectively at your own reactions to whatever goes on, can help you learn a lot that can be slipped into characterization, world-building, or player motivation later. But what good is all that without some solid examples?

The first one struck without warning on my first day at Comic-Con. So there I am, in the Epic Literary Adventures panel (world-building in long-term graphic novels, basically). I didn’t really pay much attention to any of the names at first, but the panelist introductions have gotten across to me that these are people who have finished long-term comic projects, and between that and the nifty ideas I’m hearing from them, they’re rapidly making it into my people-to-be-respected-and-admired list. And in the middle of one point, I’m not sure I remember which of the numerous things that ended up in my notebook that point was but it was something I wholeheartedly agreed with, I’m there in the front row, nodding along and grinning like a loon, and Jeff Smith (writer of Bone), sitting center, smiles and says what I’m pretty sure was “Looks like she agrees.”

And I had what can only be called a groupie moment. I’ve seen them before, even stood among them at one concert, the ones that lean over the front railing of the pit and babble excitedly (“I think he made eye contact!”). Taking this one thing that could be evidence of a potential sign of connection and blowing it all out of proportion. (Granted, in most portrayals the people who do that aren’t hoping that the logical next stage is that the one they are detecting this connection with will open a dialogue, but I’m weird and cerebral like that.) Is he wondering what I’m thinking? Is he going to ask? Might I learn something from this? Should I worry about the fact that I was planning on going straight to a panel on the opposite side of the building?

What brings it on? I think just about everybody has some person or people that they look up to, or possibly even consider sort of untouchable (in the beyond reach way, not the below contempt way—the kind with whom contact is going to be almost invariably because they deigned to initiate it) whether they’re technically on the same level or not. For some people, it’s the sexy ones who get this. There are some—I do this a lot—who tend to do it with people who do what they do/want to do, only better. For some it’s people who have qualities and accomplishments they respect but could never hope to achieve—again, I know about this one, as I viewed my first commanding general that way. Or it just comes from a huge difference in rank.

But either way, if they’re seeing a chance that that person they can’t reach toward is making contact with them instead, or if they’re already in contact but that person is showing might-be-approval, in come the starry eyes and the wishful thinking, and that in turn might cause them to take risks that they might otherwise not. Not only can this serve as a motivation for fictional characters, in ways that aren’t just romantic, but if you can establish the same dynamic, it’s not unheard of for people’s RPG characters to do the exact same thing. PC motivation, anyone?

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