Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Salt City Steamfest 2016 – After-Action Report

Posted by Rampant Coyote on August 15, 2016

Steamfest2016We came, we saw, we partied. And sold books.

Steamfest 2016 has come and gone. It seemed like a little bit of a smaller venue this time around (but with MUCH more vendor space…) , but everyone seemed to be having a good time.

As usual, the Xchyler authors came together for our booth. Kelly Olsen was sponsoring it this year … the real estate agent of the geeks… and she actually had a portfolio of older homes in three counties built during the Victorian era-years. We had a total of six authors represented, with an emphasis on our steampunk anthologies and novels, but we pretty much had a bit of everything.

When I wasn’t working the booth or pulling a calf-muscle at the vintage dancing (yes, that did happen, and yes, it’s both painful and embarrassing!), I managed to hit a few panels. The first was the Steampunk versus Weird West panel, which was more of a round-table, and it was fantastic. Jason King was moderating, and we had David West, Paul Genesse, Daniel (can’t remember his last name) of Dungeon Crawlers Radio, and several others. I don’t know if the “versus” thing was ever really resolved, but we did discuss the differences between the two subgenres. As they are both broadening and adopting other styles and ideas, it’s a pretty wide, fuzzy boundary between the two. If it’s got cowboys and zombies in it, it’s probably Weird West. If it has Londoners and airships in it, probably more Steampunk. If it’s got both… well…

Another panel I attended was “Steampunk for Authors” featuring Paul Genesse, Scott Tarbet, Callie Stoker, and Maureen Mills. While I expected it to be geared more for beginning authors, the discussion didn’t confine itself to introductory topics… the panelists were happy delving into some more advanced, detailed stuff. I think everybody got some very useful advice out of that one.

Callie and Maureen continued later with a discussion on how to write dialogue to match your (steampunk) world. This was more on the audience participation side, covered a lot of the basics, but… frankly, I can really use a review of the basics. And it was fun. The big point of the exercises we went through was to take many factors into account when writing each character’s dialogue, so that it is both appropriate for their background and unique to the individual, and that it reflects their purpose and emotion in the scene.

Finally, I attended a panel about creating a Steampunk Role-Playing game, by the father-and-son team who produced the Terah steampunk supplements for Pathfinder (with the 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons version coming soon!). It was mostly a discussion about what they did to pull a steampunk world into a classic D&D-style Swords & Sorcery fantasy rules system.

I also got to hear part of Maureen’s reading from her upcoming Steampunk novel, The Fires of Hell, which releases later this week.

A bunch of us (the Clockwork & Gears Vintage Dancers, and some guests… although due to my calf muscle, I didn’t dance much) hit a restaurant Saturday evening in full Steampunk Gear. Since the restaurant is right across from the theater, some of the staff thought we were actors from a play going on there. It’s always fun descending on the “real world” in full costume. But honestly, this time I was so involved in conversations & stuff I didn’t really think about it.

Since this was the last Salt City Steamfest (unless someone else buys it), it made me consider. So what’s next for Steampunk in general, and for steampunk-related events here in Salt Lake? The first two conventions (the second was by far my favorite) took place before Salt Lake Comic Con and FanX hit the scene, which probably had a pretty big impact overall. Steampunk is more of a niche. But it’s an incredibly fun niche. I personally suspect it’s going to keep broadening its impact… expanding to cover different styles of historical speculative fiction ranging from the 16th through the 20th centuries, through lots of different cultures, as audiences get more used to the idea. With all the little sub-sub genres that might be fun. It’s already there in the core of the Steampunk ethos –¬†in the costumes and crafts. Steampunk’s weird (and yet, cool) in that it’s NOT founded in or driven by media that way. The books and shows just kinda follow along.

I hope something else will fill that particular void.

In the meantime, I’m just gonna keep having fun, making games, writing stories, and finding excuses to wear my Steampunk Han Solo costume.

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