A busy and enjoyable second day at #nineworlds   , though it began with the now usual annoyance of the Bijou Bar not opening when it says it will. Once inside, though, Open Storytelling kicked into high gear from yesterday as we ran as many pick-up games as we could get tables. 

We then went into our first scheduled gaming slot with River's Absolution, a #firefly   hack by +Stuart Chaplin  of Witch: the Road to Lindisfarne. We had a room with three tables, quickly filled them with players and then went dashing round to find more space. In the end we ran five different games of it, giving credence to the adage from last year 'If it's in the programme, they will come!'

I had my own concerns about running something so freeform with some folk new to story gaming, but I lucked out that the newcomer at my table was an avid Firefly fanfic reader and so launched into the game with gusto, creating an Inarra more badass than even in the movie.

I then hit the 'The justice systems in Westeros' panel, the first Game of Thrones event I've managed to get to. Having gone to a mix of panels, some good, some not-so-good, yesterday, five minutes after this panel started I thought it was shaping up to be a complete train-crash. 'Justice systems' is going to be something of passing interest to fans, of detailed interest to academics, but to a panel of actors? I know that acting is a job. You can take a part and play it without having a wider understanding of the show or even how that story was structured. I find actor commentaries on movies and tv shows are almost always a disappointment because they fundamentally represent the actors' experience - which is mainly trivia from the set or shooting of the scene, without any great insight into why the writers made certain decisions or the DPs shot something or the editors cut something in a particular way to create the story. Actors aren't the characters, they're certainly not the writers, and shouldn't be expected to have that insight.

We didn't get a writer's or academic's perspective from this panel, what we did get though is a fan's perspective. The Game of Throne actors weren't just actors working on the show, they were also fans of the show. With one self-admitted exception, they'd clearly watched the show and they had lots of opinions on stuff that had nothing to do with their particular segment of the story. As frustrating as it is to hear actors speak derisively of a show on which they've worked, by contrast it is tremendously uplifting to hear actors speak with the same enthusiasm as their fans in the audience.

And so, after a halting start of general murmuring of 'like we said at the last panel, there is no justice in Westeros' the panel transformed into a conversation between fans (both those in the audience and those behind the desk). That transformation was achieved by two things: first, some able work by the moderator who had a good list of topics to go down and wasn't afraid, when there wasn't much coming from the panel, to allow comments (not just questions) from the audience (big kudos to the moderator for allowing more active participation); the second thing was +Miltos Yerolemou 

I've never heard Miltos speak before (aside from a brief conversation last year), but from this panel alone I came away from it with the feeling that he's an incredibly good ambassador for the Game of Thrones community. He isn't just a fan; he hasn't just watched the episodes, he's also bringing his training and his critical analysis to them. As a reasonably analytical fan myself, every thought he had I felt "Yes! that's a good thought," when he questioned things, I realised "Yes! I've wondered about that too." 

So, a surprisingly great panel. Finally, I went to the "Working with Artists" panel. First off, kudos to one of the panellists, +Sarah McIntyre  for appearing in costume. Having costumes on both sides of the panellists' table was a tremedous thrill and only helped reinforce the concept of 'yes, some of us are pros and some aren't, but we are all fans and we are all geeks'.

Secondly, it was unmoderated so it began with a Q&A (can I get a Hallelujah?!) I understand the pitfalls of going straight to a Q&A, but too many times I have been part of an audience that has sat in silence for an hour while moderators look to be seen as adding value before finally allowing the 50 strong audience 15 mins at the end to ask their questions (of which the first one will inevitably take the first 10 mins). Did every panellist get a fair shout? No. Was it nevertheless exciting, relevant, bright, insightful and enjoyable? Yes! A great day out and my favourite at Nine Worlds so far.
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