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  • John Dodd

Convention Ornithology


Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels


A long time ago (we were still in the eighties) I read an article in Dragon magazine about Convention Ornithology. The full text of it is available at https://annarchive.com/files/Drmg144.pdf, (with thanks to https://twitter.com/annarchive for allowing me to link to it) and while I’d never been to a convention at that point, being too young to afford my own tickets and not possessing a car, not to mention not having any cool friends who had cars because (let’s be honest), it was the 80’s, and unlike now, it really wasn’t cool to be a nerd back then, it was likely to get you chased home by bullies who took great delight in ganging up on you and who are now probably raving about Game of Thrones while proclaiming how much of a nerd they really were.


But I digress…


I hadn’t encountered most of the species on the list at the time, but as time has gone by, and using the same magazine I bought all those years ago (I’ve got a lot of magazines that are actually older than my son), I’ve seen all of these at one time or another and then started looking to see if there were any new species out in the wilds. I’ll get an artist to sketch a few of these at the next convention, but some of the new species I’ve seen are:


Chronal Anchor Eagle (Nulla Novo Editio)


The Chronal Anchor Eagle is perfectly happy flying above the waters of the game that it enjoys playing, but if it ever glides into different territories, immediately starts comparing the new waters to the waters that they’re used to. These comparisons will never be favourable for the new waters, and Chronal Anchors have been known to generate random letters from under their wings that they form into words to shower upon those below them. Chronal Anchors that haven’t been beyond their own waters for a long time can generate hundreds, if not thousands of letters every time they find themselves out of their natural habitat. Cheerfully, it is possible to stop a Chronal Anchor from generating more letters by simply guiding it back to the waters it belongs in. There are several different cries that these birds recognise, but most of them respond well to calling a number below the number that they find themselves over.


The Ideas Sloth (Malae cogitatio)


The Ideas Sloth can often be found near successful companies stalls at conventions, extolling the virtues of the latest, greatest thing that they’ve invented. This will usually be something that they saw six months ago, and it’s taken them six months to forget that they saw it somewhere else, and so now it’s THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER. Most companies are familiar with these creatures, and have perfected the method of getting rid of them, which is to ask them to put a proposal together and submit it. Confronted with the possibility of having to do work beyond having the idea of it is enough to put the sloth back into a coma, from which it will return in six months with all the great ideas it found at the last convention it was awake for.


The (Glorious) Remembrance Peacock (Majoris Cristatus Stultus)


Thought to be the eventual evolution of the Ruffle Necked Windsprinter, the Remembrance Peacock (and its older cousin, the Glorious Remembrance Peacock) is always to be found in convention bars where it remains silent until there are enough other creatures in the vicinity, at which point it will latch on to the nearest random conversation about games and gaming and spread its feathers, uttering its warning cry prior to dispensing it’s knowledge. (To those not familiar with these birds, the warning cry often sounds like “I think you’ll find…”) The Remembrance Peacock will speak at length on any subject that it has a passing memory of, and will strive to make its words sound as important as those written on stone tablets in the hotel rockery, the only thing that can interrupt a Remembrance Peacock is its evolved cousin, the Glorious Remembrance Peacock (Usually identifiable as larger and greyer in colouration than normal Remembrance Peacocks), as these birds have a keen sense that being older makes things better. It has no natural predators, but is often found avoiding the company of Wow Sparrows.


The Wow Sparrow (Mitescere et Dormi)


Nocturnal, these creatures are often found running around in the open gaming areas of conventions. Invariably young (at heart or in body), these creatures have no idea of what is going on around them or what to do with anything. What they do know is that they like it, and they want more of it. They can often be found around new game demonstrations and at drop in games, and are for the most part, solitary creatures. Packs have been found in some conventions, usually identified by their distinctive warble of “Wow, look at this.” Wild and unrestrainable, they often remain as they are for at least a year before mutating into another species.


The 2d Turaco (Covidus Nopus)


Only seen in the last two years, but becoming increasingly prevalent as time goes, the 2d is a new species of bird found only predominantly in online conventions. Distinguished by their lack of a third dimension, Turaco’s are every bit as enthusiastic (sometimes moreso) as convention goers who have a third dimension, and unlike 3d's, they can often be found attending multiple conventions at the same time. They make full use of all the parts of the convention that they can get to, but have several known natural predators, foremost amongst which are the BanBear the ZoomRoom, and the Data Constrictor, all of which have no natural predators of their own.


And finally


The Mogdo (Cattus Awesomus)


Mogdo's are not found at conventions, instead being a Familiar to Convention Organisers, they wait at the Convention Organisers nest for them to return after doing what they do. It is only with the Mogdo's assistance that the Convention Organiser rises from the flames of events that have run to burn bright again.


I do find that the species known as Convention Organiser hasn’t changed all that much in the years that have followed, but if anyone else wants to add to the Convention Bestiary, please drop me a line.


Tomorrow: 35 Players, one wall, two tables.

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