Nordcon XXXVI – Fantasy & RPG theme plus the winter sea

I usually close my convention year with Nordcon. It takes place in the beginning of December in the north of Poland. 2023 is no different. I attended Nordcon XXXVI and it was a good closure of the year despite the fact that the con stared in a bit hard way for me.

Difficult Beginnings

Issues started already in Kraków. I woke up at ungodly hour (which some people tend to call “early morning”). I rushed to get the bus to be at the train station on time. After a few stops we started to stand in a traffic and thus my “extra time” began to diminish. Yet in the end I managed to get to the in time station. I stressed about risk of missing the train but I didn’t have to – it was also late. At first by 5 minutes, then 10, 15 and so on. In the end we started the journey with around half an hour of lateness. And when we almost reached our destination – just a few stations away we had to change the train. There was some accident during our brief stop and someone decided it would be easier to move all passengers to another train. At last we managed to reach our last stop, catch a bus and finally reach Primavera hotel in Jastrzębia Góra.

Five people stand in front of the audiende. Four are holding banners and the last one speaks to the microphone.
Opening Ceremony at Nordcon XXXVI.

Then the strange thing happened. Usually at Nordcons I immediately start to feel the con and enjoy myself. This time it was different though. I have no idea why but I felt that something was missing. The feeling accompanied me for the first and the second day and then disappeared. I cannot explain it. It is not the fault of the organizers – at least I haven’t seen the difference in how everything was ran. Registration went smoothly apart from one mistake by the hotel. They gave me a keycard to incorrect room but we managed to correct it before I entered someone’s else apartment. The convention game was quite interesting and I think it was the first time I participated in that. So why was I dissatisfied? The only thing that comes to my mind is the lack of people. It may be a false impression but I think that compared to previous years more members arrived on Friday. Nordcon XXXVI was long – it lasted for 5 days (plus a “zero night”). It is not uncommon for people to come a bit later.

Whatever was the reason for the difficult beginnings since Friday I felt way better and enjoyed the Nordcon XXXVI more. It was good like every year!

The Place

I like when the convention is held every year in the same venue. When I am coming back to such place I feel almost like at home. It also makes it easier to find everything. One glimpse of an eye on the map to check what is held in which room and voila – ready. Primavera is a great venue and the hotel is happy to host us. Starting last year they even decided to adjust the names in the menu and the spa offer to suit “geeky taste”.

A view of sea and the beach as visible from the top of the stairs. Stairs and part of the beach are covered in snow.
Empty, winter beach is such a wonderful place.

Yet there is something on top of that when it comes to the Nordcon venue. It is the sea. My first Nordcon was not such a great experience to me. Not because it was bad – it was me who had to adjust and accommodate to how this relaxacon works. Why did I decide to come again (and I had a blast then!)? Of course I wanted to give the con another chance. I also felt that as the convention is devoted to people who spend a lot of time in fandom it would be good to learn more about it. Probably there were also other reasons. Yet among them there was the Baltic Sea. There is something magical about the Baltic Sea in winter. It is gloomy, cold, windy and yet somehow loveable. Normally when attending the con I am spending almost all the time there. I do try to see the city but only before and/or after the convention. Yet with Nordcon the situation is different. I want to be at the con most of the time but the sea is calling me. Every year I need to have at least one walk on the beach. It may be short or long but it must happen. It is the best in the morning (although I don’t like to wake up early). There are very few people and I can enjoy the atmosphere.

The Game

The theme for Nordcon XXXVI was classical fantasy with a wink towards RPG. It made it easy to have some kind of a costume but I didn’t prepare anything. I keep promising myself that I would do it the next year… Usually there is some kind of a convention game that is exploring the main theme. It was not different this year. Each of the members received a plastic token to pay for joining a guild.

Seven people are standing in front of the audience. Four of them are holding banners.
Guildmasters during the final of the game at Closing Ceremony.

Once a guild member you had some quests to perform and upon finishing it you were earning tokens. One was allowed to accept quests from all the guilds and collect more tokens. What they were used for? Well you had to give them to the guild of your choice. At the closing ceremony the guild which would collect the most tokens was supposed to win. There was also a separate programme item devoted to selecting the Guildmaster. At the ceremony the Guildmaster of the winning guild received a prize. Most quests I got were related to taking a selfie with someone so I have plenty of selfies from the con.

I was a bit disappointed on how the winning guild was chosen at the closing ceremony. It was not exactly how it was supposed to be. I found it unfair towards all of the Guildmasters – especially the winner. I don’t want to go into details though. On the positive side the winner – Tel, did something amazing. Once he was awarded the title he took the microphone. He said that there was one other Guildmaster who should get the award – Andrzej. You see Andrzej joined all four guilds and was running like crazy to have all of the quests performed. Tel decided he did way more in the game and thus should be recognized instead of him.

A selfie of a man in a mask and a big plushy shark.
Me, myself and shark ;).

The Convention

So how was the convention apart from the game? Well it was cool. As I said the first days were strange for me but the remaining three I had a blast. I enjoyed the traditional “lottery” (every coupon wins!). Together with Seji we attended the All-games’ Knowledge Quiz which was quite awesome. I enjoyed it even though some easy question were very difficult and in contrary some hard ones were trivial. Should the organizer of the quiz repeat it I would certainly participate again!

Multiple cards with years are on the floor. Some are in disarray and a few are arranged. Below the ones that are arranged there are other cards with RPG covers printed on them.
Polish RPG publishing timeline during All-games’ Knowledge Quiz.

Nordcon is a relaxacon and I attended very few programme items (including my talk). I spent rest of the times with people. Last year Seji and myself gave Julianna a plushy seal. We asked her to take it with her this year. We came prepared to make a medical – fannish check-up on it. A good thing to do! On top of that I chatted with friends, got a little Christmas gift (thank you Marta!) and enjoyed myself in general.

Seji also prepared a special surprise for me. A stickers with the “Alquohol” and subtitle “100% from the heart of Fandom”. It was such a lovely gesture! As for the reason – there are two. Firstly our common friend Nelek once made a slip of the tongue and mixed my nickname with the word “alcohol”. The other is because since the beginning of pandemic I am taking disinfectant wherever I go.

A sticker with two panels. Firs has big name 'Alquohol' and smaller text below. It is ina  frame with candies pictures. Second panel shows Fandom Rover logo and a short poem in Polish.
Alquohol 100% from the heart of fandom. Dissinfectant for the internal use. Through the whole fandom from the sea up to the Tatra mountains all of the fans know the taste of Alquohol.

A Good Time

Despite the difficult beginnings I had a great time. I am very happy that I attended Nordcon XXXVI. It was also a good training of wearing a mask constantly for five days (need to prepare for Glasgow 2024!). At the closure ceremony we learned the theme for next year. It will be Weird Wild West and I am intrigued how it will go. At this point in time I am not sure whether I’ll manage to attend but I wish to do so. So I hope to see everyone again the next year!

You can find more pictures in my FB gallery.
The next post will appear next year.

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