What Matters? What Works? What's Next?
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Dj Connell
* Discworld Area Head, Sasquan / WorldCon 2015
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* Current Project: The Great Discworld Fan Gathering at Sasquan
* Founder, Discworld Seamstress Guild of North America, Established 2003
* Co-Founder, North American Discworld Dark Clerks.
Established 2011
* Board Chair: North American Discworld Connection

Trouble Made: By Appointment


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These are my opinions and mine alone.

This image of Death is by artist Paul Kidby. Mr Kidby's images are used with his permission. Copyright: Paul Kidby.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

NADWCon 2013 Guidelines

In order to insure a well organized and enjoyable experience for our attendees, the Guild of Chelonavigators (GoC) has established a set of guidelines for the convention committee.  These guidelines were provided to cities interested in bidding to host the next convention and our board of consultants.

As you know, we now have a winning bid. These guidelines (1) will provide the basic framework for the GoC and the Baltimore team as we move forward to plan the next North American Discworld Convention.

NADWCon Guidelines

  • The Guild of Chelonavigators (GoC) will provide a website for the convention to maintain, and a mailing list of email addresses of previous attendees.
  • We would like to be an interactive, personal resource for you, and we will be available for help or advice. We can also provide applicable suggestions from attendees and previous committee members for your review.
  • We’ll provide a list of program items and presenters from previous NADWCons with notes and contact information.
  • We’ll provide a Liaison to help with certain Honored Guests, and will give you a detailed report on the needs and desires of our Honored Guests to the Guest Liaison.  
  • As per the GoC's instuctions from Sir Terry Pratchett: In the event of any outstanding profits (after expenses have been paid) the convention will endow these proceeds to the next convention (as seed money) as well as the two charities supported by NADWCon, these being Alzheimer's Research Fund and the Orangutang Foundation. The percentage of funds going to each will be determined by an agreement between the GoC and the 2013 ConCom.   

Other Recommended Committee Positions -

Committee positions that should be filled at least 12 months prior to the NADWCon:
  • Program Director
  • Guest Liaison(s)
  • Ambience Coordinator
  • Art Show Director
  • Security Coordinator
  • Tech Wrangler
  • PR & Social Media Director
  • Banquet Coordinator
  • Volunteer Coordinator
  • Communications Coordinator
Committee positions that should be filled at least 8 months prior to the NADWCon:
  • Registration Coordinator
  • ConSuite Manager
  • Operations Manager
  • Charity Auction Coordinator
  • Maskerade Director
  • Gaming Coordinator
  • Merchandise Coordinator
  • Publications Coordinator
  • At-Con Newsletter Editor
  • Program Operations Manager
  • Stage Manager(s)
  • Staff Lounge Coordinator
  • Guild Liaison
If a committee member is unable to perform their duties we’d ask that they be replaced by the Chair as quickly as possible. If convention management is unable to perform their duties, please expect the GoC to step in and take whatever steps are necessary for the good of the convention and our attendees. This would only be done to honor our promise to Sir Terry that this convention would be well-organized for the good of the fans. We will not interfere either lightly or casually, and we are committed to working with the 2013 ConCom in order to avoid taking such a radical step.

  • Within easy driving distance of a major, international airport
  • Hotel must have a quantity of affordable restaurants within walking distance
  • Preferably, the hotel would have a large lobby, courtyard or other gathering space for attendees.
  • Hotel should have a good blend of large (seating 1000), medium (200 - 300) and small (seating 50) function rooms; should also have a large suite to serve as ConSuite (where corkage is waived).
  • The benefits of a horizontal hotel vs. a vertical one should be considered.
  • Ideally, you would get a hotel contract quote with sliding scale of function space costs, based on room nights booked (preferably down to free); Catering spending should be preferably kept to $2k or less, over proposed Banquet costs.
  • Ideally, hotel would have experience tending to fan and/or costuming conventions, would offer adequate internet access to convention and guests for free, and would have a large bar area
  • Ideally, there would be a second hotel nearby that could be contracted to serve for overflow needs, if original hotel has insufficient rooms available.
  • The ConCom will have regular meetings, preferably bi-monthly, starting at least 14 months out from the convention, and monthly meetings starting at about eight months out. (We recommend scheduling more frequent staff meetings as the date for the convention approaches).
  • Ideally, a majority of Committee members are present for each Committee meeting (online attendance is encouraged via Skype or similar). If a Committee member misses a large number of meetings to the extent that it interferes with their job or communication with the other staff then the Chair should consider replacing that Committee member.
  • The ConCom should hold at least two web meetings to which the Steering Committee will be invited, at 6 months and 3 months out from the con.
  • Budget - An up-to-date convention budget spreadsheet would ideally be kept online as a Google Doc, giving the Steering Committee viewing privileges. Alternately, an updated copy of the budget can be emailed to the GoC as it changes. This budget is understood to be a working planning document and should be kept up to date. 
  • Progress Reports - Beginning 12 months out, each ConCom member will submit a periodic departmental progress report to the GoC. The Chair would also note overall progress, and note what remains to be done. The GoC will ask questions as needed.
Discworld Con Traditions

Length of Convention - so far, the convention has been a four-day event, starting on Friday, and ending late Monday.

Gala Banquet - held on Sunday evening, it has been highly decorated around a theme, with short speeches and live entertainment.

Charity Auction - held on Sunday afternoon, Discworld-related items are auctioned with proceeds benefiting the Orangutan Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Research Trust. Our British contingent has a lot of experience with this event, and has preferred ways of handling it. We suggest coordinating with them, and we have documentation from them to pass along to you. This event has traditionally been emcee’d by Pat Harkin and Richard Artley.

Maskerade - (yes, we spell it that way) held on Saturday evening, and we have a consistent emcee, Pat Harkin, from England. Sir Terry participates as a Judge, as do some of the typical honored guests. The contestants are encouraged to perform skits, and typically need microphone access. There is need of engaging “half-time” entertainment while the judges deliberate. If requested enough in advance, it is possible that Bernard Pearson can provide a trophy or two.

Honored Guests - Sir Terry (health permitting), Rob Wilkins, Bernard Pearson, Colin Smythe, Anne Hoppe, Jennifer Brehl and Esther Freisner have been our Honored Guests at both conventions, thus far. All have indicated a strong desire to join us in 2013. 

Ambience - Discworld fans really appreciate having lots of reminders of “their world” around them during the convention. This has been given a fair amount of attention (and budget) for the two previous conventions.

Guilds - Discworld “Guild” participation is something new in the US, (with the exception of the Seamstress Guild which played a large part in 2009 and 2011). The UK conventions have relied on DW Guilds for years. Many US Guilds formed after 2011’s convention. With care and guidance these new guilds could provide a good number of helpful staff and other resources to add flavor to the convention. They are also being encouraged to consider throwing room parties, which will help add to the nighttime entertainment. The Seamstress Guild is the oldest profession and best established Guild in the US. It’s suggested to use them in, or for, some kind of major party event(s). 

Merchandise - 2009’s convention offered little in the way of merch (t-shirts, tote bags, some jewelry), but 2011’s convention did much more. Selling merchandise is a great way to bring in extra money (the fans will buy it!) but it does come with its own ‘inventory’ headache. If you want to have merchandise at your convention, and we suggest that you do, let’s have some discussions about it 

Programming - While programming may begin in advance of it, the convention officially begins with a fairly elaborate and amusing Opening Ceremonies event.

Kaffeeklatches are offered for small numbers of attendees to spend time with the guests. These are a very popular offering on the DW program, both here and abroad.

The Closing Ceremonies are traditionally held late Monday afternoon. 2011 added a new tradition -- a group reading of Sir Terry’s book “Where’s My Cow?”. This was followed by Bernard Pearson affectionately telling everyone to “Piss Off”. 

In 2011, the convention added an arts & crafts track to programming that was very popular. The con instituted a $5 entry fee for each one to offset the cost of materials.

Additionally, NADWCon has offered a Pub Quiz on Thursday night for early arrivals and both conventions have presented Discworld renditions of game shows.

Gaming Room - There are several Discworld games now, and the Gaming Room has been relatively popular.

Movie Room - (aka “The Cthinema”) Showing the UK Discworld movies was very popular.

Costume Dungeon - This is a room dedicated to at-con sewing & embellishing projects, and it was very popular in 2011. Steamers were also available for attendees to use, since so many wear costumes and have been traveling.

Kid-Friendly Event - Discworld fans have been encouraged to bring their children, so offering kid-friendly events is a very good idea. We have a new DW family-oriented guild that will be helpful in this regard. Please note: It is important to consider ‘school schedules’ when determining dates for the convention. 

These are guidelines are based on what has worked for past NADWCons and what changes we believe will best serve the next convention.  If you have other directions you wish to explore, by all means discuss them with us! We are excited to see the NADWCon tradition continue and evolve.


Excuse me, now. We have a few more ducks to get on to hats. 

Happy New Year! 



(1) Updated 1/5/2012 - djc 


  1. I hope there will be filking again, and that it will not be just one night.

  2. As with any volunteer event, if you want to see something happen, step up and volunteer to make it so!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. My passions in life are costumes and music, therefore I would like to (help me!) volunteer to (someone stop me, please!) be the (really- I'm not well!) director of the maskerade and organize the filking. (Oh no, what I have done!)

    You know me as Nanny Ogg in her apron acting quite indiscreetly with Sir Pterry on stage during the Friday night seamstresses guild party and as Lady Sibyl with my husband as Commander Vimes at the first NADWC in 2009, and as Nanny "ballarina Gytha" Ogg from the book Maskerade at last years convention where I was the workmanship judge. I have been attending cons since 1980, and costuming in them from my very first one. I was also Nanny in the filksing last year, heh heh heh. And if there hadn't been a few under 21 citizens of the Discworld in there, hedgehogs and wizzards staffs WOULD have been mentioned!

    I also live about 2 hours south of Baltimore if the traffic isn't horrendous, and can get to staff meetings easily.

    I have one request- we use a really LARGE room for the Friday night Seamstress guild party, one with good lighting so all the hall costumes can be appreciated. I have been looking at photos taken by others of the suite from last year and never realized how much I had missed- I was there every night, but still missed a lot because of the crowd.

    We need space to accidently organize a congo line, anyway...

  5. If the con committee needs someone to fill any of the following positions, I'd be glad to help:
    -ConSuite Manager
    -Charity Auction Coordinator
    -Program Operations Manager
    -Stage Manager(s)
    -Staff Lounge Coordinator
    -Guild Liaison

    I'm particularly interested in helping with programs that need sign ups and with events that need food. I'd also be interested in helping out with the Arts and Crafts track, if you need someone to help with that. I live on the West Coast, but have a fairly open schedule so I could attend meetings via internet or phone (and perhaps some in person).

    If you don't need another committee member, I'd be glad to be a volunteer wherever help is needed. Also, I could arrive early to help with set up.

    I'm excited to see this document and imagine what the next NADWCon will look like!