This is a collection of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to the Seattle-area science fiction and fantasy convention Norwescon, covering its culture, traditions, and idiosyncrasies. Suggestions for edits, corrections, updates, or general comments can be emailed to info@norwescon.org.

Last updated March 14, 2016.

Table of Contents

2. Attending Norwescon
2.1. How do I buy tickets?/What’s a membership?
2.1.1. What if I can’t/don’t want to come for the whole weekend?
2.1.2. What if I can’t afford to pay for a membership at all?
2.2. When do I get my badge?
2.2.1. What’s with all these ribbons I see on people’s badges?
2.2.1.1. Can I bring my own ribbons to trade?
2.2.1.2. Where can I order ribbons?
2.3. What’s a swag bag?
2.4. Do you have an anti-harassment policy?
2.4.1. How do I report a problem or concern?
2.5. Are there activities for kids?
2.5.1. Is there any daycare?
2.6. Are we allowed to take photos?
2.7. What’s the 5/2/1 rule?
2.8. Are room parties allowed?
2.9. That art is gorgeous! Can I buy it?
2.10. Food
2.10.1. What is there to eat at the hotel?
2.10.2. Are there other restaurants nearby?
2.10.3. Does anyone deliver to the hotel?
2.11. The DoubleTree Hotel
2.11.1. How do I get a room in the hotel?
2.11.1.1. What if I know I want a room in the tower?
2.11.1.2. What if I want a suite?
2.11.2. What amenities do the rooms have?
2.11.3. Accessibility
2.11.3.1. Are there ADA accommodations?
2.11.3.2. Will my ADA scooter/wheelchair be okay?
2.11.3.3. What are the easiest paths for low-mobility attendees?
2.11.3.4. I am mobility-impaired or otherwise require a caregiver to assist me. Would there be any way that my caregiver could get in without a membership?
2.11.4. Is parking included?
2.11.4.1. Where can I park if I don’t have a room?
2.11.5. What WiFi/Internet connectivity options does the hotel offer?
2.11.6. Are there quiet areas if I don’t have/can’t get to my room?
2.12. Cosplaying at Norwescon
2.12.1. What’s the weapons policy?
2.12.2. What sort of costumes are allowed?
2.12.3. Is there a costume contest?
2.12.3.1. How can I get into the Masquerade?
2.12.3.2. Can I get photos of the Masquerade costumes?
2.12.3.3. How can I get a Hall Costume Award?

4. Glossary
4.1. Art in Action
4.2. Artist
4.3. Artists’ Alley
4.4. ConCom
4.5. Consuite
4.6. Dead Zones
4.7. Dealer
4.8. FIAWOL
4.9. Fishbowl
4.10. Ghosting
4.11. GM/DM
4.12. GOH
4.13. Green Room
4.14. Hospitality
4.15. Masquerade
4.16. Panelist
4.17. Pro/Attending Professional
4.18. Rotunda
4.19. Shuttle Bay
4.20. Staff
4.21. Volunteer
4.22. Vortex
4.23. Writers’ Row

1. Norwescon (general questions)

1.1. What is Norwescon?

Norwescon is the Pacific Northwest’s premier science fiction and fantasy convention and one of the largest regional science fiction and fantasy conventions in the United States. While maintaining a primarily literary focus, Norwescon is large enough to provide a venue for many of the other aspects of science fiction and fantasy and the interests of its fans such as anime, costuming, art, gaming, and much, much more.

Norwescon features over 500 hours of panel programming, over 200 panelists specializing in fantasy, science fiction, science and more, the Philip K. Dick Awards, a 6,250 square-foot Dealers’ Room, Writers’ Workshops, a full masquerade, an art show, dances, concerts and more!

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1.1.1. How is Norwescon different from ECCC, PAX, etc.?

Norwescon has several key differences from other well-known conventions held in the Seattle area, notably including Emerald City Comicon, PAX Prime, Sakura-Con, and others. Each of these conventions (and the many others held both locally and elsewhere) has a different focus and community. ECCC is primarily a comic and media convention, PAX is primarily a gaming convention, and Sakura-Con is primarily an anime and Japanese culture convention. While each of these cons incorporates other areas of fandom, they each are primarily focused on one particular area.

NWC38-Friday-P.K. Dick Awards 1

The Philip K. Dick Awards at Norwescon 38

Norwescon is more of a generalist, with a literary SF/F convention as its heart. We are proud to have a strong literary focus, with many attending authors, panels on all stages of the writing journey from finding ideas to finding a publisher, and the Philip K. Dick award ceremony recognizing the best original SF paperback publication of the prior year. However, we also feature panels on cutting-edge science, comics, popular culture, costuming and cosplay (including our Saturday night Masquerade costume contest), gaming areas (board, card, role playing, LARP, computer, etc.), and much, much more!

Unlike most comicons, Norwescon’s model focuses on panel programming, shows, and interactive experiences. Our vendor area is a very small part of the overall convention, and with very few exceptions, individual events do not require separate ticketing, as everything is included in the price of the membership. Some workshops have small materials fees, and the Guest of Honor Banquet is a separate ticket.

Norwescon also hails from traditional science fiction convention and fandom. We are a community of fans that have come together to celebrate our interests in science, science-fiction, and fantasy. Without volunteers, we would not exist, and every member of our convention can be a volunteer. This is why we have memberships instead of tickets, because everyone who attends is part of our community and should feel empowered to help create the convention.

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1.2. When is Norwescon?

Norwescon is held over four days on Easter weekend of each year. This coming year, Norwescon 41 will be held March 29–April 1, 2018. Norwescon always runs Thursday through Sunday, with load in and load out parties on Wednesday and Monday and a Stuffing Party for registration swag bags the Sunday before. Exact times that departments start and end programming vary some year to year and you should check each departments’ listing for the current year for precise opening and closing times. If you are interested in volunteering for pre or post convention activities email volunteers@norwescon.org or check out the volunteering section of this FAQ.

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1.3. Where is Norwescon?

NWC33 September Concom 11

The DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport

We are located at the DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport hotel, in SeaTac, Washington, just south of Seattle proper.

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1.3.1. How do I get there?

Our host hotel, the DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport, is conveniently located on Pacific Highway South (Highway 99), almost directly across the street from the SeaTac International Airport. Driving or transit directions can be easily found with Google Maps.

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1.4. Who are the Guests of Honor?

Each year, we are proud to host Author and Artist Guests of Honor from the science fiction and fantasy literary and artistic worlds, a Science Guest of Honor, a Spotlight Publisher, and on some years, a Special Guest of Honor.

At Norwescon 41, we will be welcoming Writer Guest of Honor Ken Liu, Artist Guest of Honor Wayne Barlowe, Science Guest of Honor Mathew Wedel, and Spotlight Publisher Green Ronin Publishing.

A full listing of our past Guests of Honor can be found on our history page.

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1.4.1. How are the Guests of Honor chosen?

Norwescon must have a Writer Guest of Honor and an Artist Guest of Honor each year. Norwescon shall have no less than three and no more than five Guests, including Special Guest and Toastmaster, each year. The Exec Team may make an exception for more than five Guest of Honor positions.

  • Writer GOH: To be nominated for this category, a writer must have been published in the Science Fiction/Fantasy field for a minimum of 10 years. They also must have won a major science fiction or fantasy writing award, such as the Hugo, Nebula, or Philip K. Dick Memorial award etc. Consideration may be given to an author who has gained the New York Times best-selling status multiple times.
  • Artist GOH: To be nominated for this category, an artist must be recognized in the world Science Fiction/Fantasy art community, have been published (book covers, posters, game cards, etc.), and have won a significant science fiction or fantasy art award, such as the Chesley.
  • Science GOH: To be nominated for this category, a scientist must be recognized in the scientific community, have been published (scientific papers or doctoral thesis), and have meritorious standing in the scientific/academic community. This usually means they have won awards or been awarded a doctorate. Norwescon does not always have a Science Guest of Honor.
  • Fan GOH: To be nominated for this category, a fan must be recognized as a long-standing contributor to the SF/F world community. This person is usually from an area or community other than the northwest and would be someone who has not usually been able to attend Norwescon in the past. This selection is used to bring well-known fans from other areas of the country to honor them for their contribution to fandom as a whole. Norwescon does not always have a Fan GOH.
  • Spotlighted Publisher: Each year Norwescon may choose to invite a publishing house of science fiction or fantasy to be the Norwescon Spotlighted Publisher. The publisher shall be requested to select an individual to represent the publishing house at the convention. In addition to airfare, room nights, and memberships that the other Guests are offered, the Spotlighted Publisher is also offered one free page of advertising in the program book. Norwescon does not always have a Spotlighted Publisher.
  • Toastmaster: Norwescon may choose to invite an individual known to the science fiction and fantasy community and known as a good speaker to act as Toastmaster. Norwescon does not always have a Toastmaster.
  • Special Guest: The Guest of Honor Selection Committee may choose to invite a Special Guest. The individual should be known within the science fiction and fantasy community for their work in the SF/F field. Norwescon does not always have a Special Guest of Honor. There shall be no more than one Special Guest in any given year. The Exec Team may make an exception for more than one Special Guest position.

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1.4.1.1. Can I suggest someone to be a GOH?

Absolutely! We always accept suggestions to our gohcommittee@norwescon.org email address. Please do understand that we generally have to arrange our GOHs at least a year in advance (and sometimes more), so even if we’re able to confirm a suggestion you make, it’s extremely unlikely that they’ll be at the next convention.

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1.4.1.1.1. Oooh! Can you get Neil Degrasse Tyson (or other particularly high-profile potential guest)?

Dr. Tyson is an oft-suggested potential Science Guest of Honor, and in all honesty, one whom we would dearly love to welcome to Norwescon. Unfortunately, he is in such incredibly high demand that he commands an extremely high speaking fee just to be somewhere for a couple hours. Unless that changes, we’re unlikely to be able to afford to bring him in. Of course, if Dr. Tyson is interested and would like to come visit us for a weekend, we’d be absolutely thrilled!

All that said, we don’t want to discourage you from sending in your suggestions! This is just a peek into some of the factors that influence whether or not we will be able to invite someone to join us.

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1.4.2. How much do autographs cost?

NWC38-Thursday-GRRM Signing 3

George R.R. Martin signing autographs at Norwescon 38

Absolutely nothing! One of the things we ask of our Guests of Honor is that they make themselves available at specified times for no-fee autographs. In some years, depending on the GOHs in question, we may need to limit the number of people in line or place restrictions on how many items can be signed, but we do not charge for autographs.

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1.4.3. How about photos?

As with autographs, there is no charge for photos. However, we do ask that should you encounter one of our GOHs in the halls or at a panel, you politely ask permission before taking photos of or with them.

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1.5. When is the schedule published?

We aim to publish our full schedule of events for each year roughly a month before the convention. That target date has some variability as we fine-tune things (scheduling hundreds of hours of programming involving over two hundred panelists is tricky business), but that’s what we usually aim for.

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2. Attending Norwescon

2.1. How do I buy tickets?/What’s a membership?

Norwescon does not actually sell tickets to the convention. Rather, we sell memberships: every person who attends Norwescon is a member of our organization. This means that not only does your membership allow you to attend the convention, but you also have the option to directly participate in the future of Norwescon by becoming part of the convention committee, participating in Town Hall meetings, and submitting feedback to our Onions and Roses process. Membership also entitles you to our Pre- and Post-con reports.

Memberships are good for attending the full four days of the convention (for Norwescon 41, that will be March 29–April 1, 2018) and are sold throughout the year through our website until about two weeks before the convention starts. The membership price increases as the year goes on, so we recommend getting your membership early!

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2.1.1. What if I can’t/don’t want to come for the whole weekend?

That’s not a problem! Single-day memberships are sold at the convention itself each year. Day memberships are only sold on the day of attendance (you can’t show up on Thursday to buy a Saturday membership, for example), and may be limited if we are reaching capacity (though this rarely happens). However, if you think you might be interested in attending two days of the convention, it is usually less expensive to pre-register for the entire weekend than to buy two single-day memberships at the door.

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2.1.2. What if I can’t afford to pay for a membership at all?

Most of the convention spaces on the main floor of the hotel, including the Dealers’ Room, Art Show, Club Tables, and Art in Action spaces are open to anyone who comes, regardless of payment.

Norwescon also supports the Con or Bust program. “Con or Bust helps people of color/non-white people attend SF/F conventions. Con or Bust isn’t a scholarship and isn’t limited by geography, type of con-goer, or con; its goal is simply to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves.” Norwescon donates one full four-day membership each year to Con or Bust. Please see the Con or Bust website for more information and instructons on how to apply.

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2.2. When do I get my badge?

Unlike some other conventions, we do not mail badges beforehand. Instead, you will get a receipt emailed to you at the time of purchase and again shortly before the convention. Print out the second receipt and bring it with you, and we’ll print your badge right there at the registration desk (this second receipt has a barcode our registration team uses to easily locate your file). It only takes a few moments! And if you forget to bring your receipt with you, don’t worry about that; you’ll be able to print a new one out at the convention as well.

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2.2.1. What’s with all these ribbons I see on people’s badges?

NWC38-Sunday-Closing Ceremonies 4

Comparing ribbon collections at the Norwescon 38 Closing Ceremonies

Badge ribbons are a tradition among many fandom conventions like Norwescon. Basically, they’re just a fun way to memorialize the convention: the people you met, events you attended, organizations you discovered, or many other possibilities. Many ribbons are available from the various lobby tables, others are given out as prizes (hall costume awards, for example), some are given to volunteers in specific departments, and others are just given out for fun. Many of our regular attendees make a game out of seeing how many they can collect (we’ve even seen people gather enough to make them into a bandolier or sash!). The best way to get ribbons is to have some to trade. The second best way is to ask nicely.

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2.2.1.1. Can I bring my own ribbons to trade?

Absolutely — in fact, trading is often one of the easiest ways to get ribbons from other people! Once you’ve figured out what your ribbons will say (A quote from a book, game, or movie? A clever reference to something else? Just something silly?), have them printed, and bring them along with you to the con!

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2.2.1.2. Where can I order ribbons?

Here are a few online vendors that Norwescon members have used in the past. We do not officially recommend any one vendor over another; vendors below are listed alphabetically. Feel free to shop around! When choosing a size, most ribbons handed out at Norwescon are 4″ × 1 5/8″.

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2.3. What’s a swag bag?

The swag bag is part of the goodies you get as a Norwescon member. It includes each year’s formal program book and pocket guide, flyers and goodies from local organizations, and usually some other fun surprises! Swag bags can be picked up at the information table in the lobby, and we recommend making sure to get yours as soon as possible, as some goodies come to us in limited quantities and may not be in swag bags later in the weekend.

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2.4. Do you have an anti-harassment policy?

Absolutely! Our harassment policy was announced in September of 2013, after a committee spent much of the prior year looking at other policies and creating one that we felt protected our members while also recognizing the particular culture of our convention.

In short, to paraphrase Wil Wheaton, don’t be a…jerk. The formal policy is a little more detailed, but that’s the bottom line.

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2.4.1. How do I report a problem or concern?

If you encounter or witness any behavior that concerns you, you can contact any Norwescon ConCom member (usually identifiable by Norwescon “STAFF” t-shirts, “Norwescon Convention Committee” badge ribbons, and/or radio headsets), or stop by the convention security office (usually located in the Olympic hallway, on the bottom floor of Wing Seven). We take all reports seriously, and handle them confidentially and with discretion.

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2.5. Are there activities for kids?

Norwescon 37 | Saturday | Panels 98

Young congoers build a cardboard city at NWC37 before gleefully knocking it down, Kaiju-style!

There are! We have a number of kid-friendly activities scheduled throughout each weekend for children with their parents. While the exact activities vary from year to year, past events include a Monster Mash (using pieces of stuffed animals to create new one-of-a-kind beasties), Destroy A City Kaiju Style (kids build a city out of cardboard boxes and then go rampaging through like Godzilla), Sunday morning Easter Egg hunts, and the Children’s Masquerade, where young costumers can show off their outfits as part of the Saturday night Masquerade! “Youth Track” programming always has kid friendly activities, and kids are also welcome in the gaming area. Some activities and departments may allow unsupervised teens, please check with the people in charge of the activity about age guidelines.

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2.5.1. Is there any daycare?

Norwescon is unable to provide daycare. Please be sure that your young ones are properly supervised and accounted for at all times. You cannot leave your children unattended in any Norwescon programming. Some programming may allow unsupervised teens, please check with the people in charge of an activity about age guidelines.

The final word on necessary supervision of minors can be found in the city of SeaTac’s curfew and minor laws.

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2.6. Are we allowed to take photos?

Absolutely! Norwescon is a very photo-friendly convention. We have posted photo guidelines, but basically, as long as you’re polite, don’t take photos when people ask you not to, and don’t block the hallways, you’re good to go. There may occasionally be events where no photography or videography is permitted, but you will be informed at the beginning of the event if that is the case.

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2.7. What’s the 5/2/1 rule?

Common among the fandom community, this is a simple reminder that each day, you should get five hours of sleep, two meals, and one shower (or bath) (the hot tub doesn’t count). The individual numbers can be increased to your personal level of comfort, but that’s our recommended minimum for a happy and healthy con for everyone.

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2.8. Are room parties allowed?

Definitely! Norwescon has a fairly lively after-hours party scene. Our hotel liaison works with the party organizers and the DoubleTree hotel to assign rooms in the “party wing” (Wing 5B of the hotel, as it is the furthest out and helps to mitigate potential noise issues) and ensure that all parties abide by hotel regulations and Washington State laws.

However, all parties are run by their own organizations and are separate from Norwescon proper, and so we do not actively promote the parties on our website or social media outlets.

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2.9. That art is gorgeous! Can I buy it?

Norwescon 37 | Saturday | Wandering 23

Browsing the NWC37 Art Show

Possibly so! Much of the art on display in our Art Show is for sale by the artists (and those pieces that are not have “NOT FOR SALE” tags).

Most pieces have a minimum bid price and a direct sale price listed. If you just want to buy it outright, talk to the nice people at the front of the art show, and they’ll sell it to you. If you’re interested in the lower price, you can bid on the artwork. If a piece receives a certain number of bids, it goes to auction on Sunday. If not, it is sold to the highest bidder. Bidding closes on Saturday evening, when the art show closes, and purchased art can be picked up on Sunday morning.

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2.10. Food

2.10.1. What is there to eat at the hotel?

The DoubleTree hotel has two restaurants (the Coffee Garden, just to the right of the main entrance, and Seaports Lounge, a restaurant and bar between the front desk and the lobby) and one coffee bar (in front of Seaports), which also offers light snacks and meals (salads, sandwiches, and similar items). There is also a second bar (Maxi’s Lounge) at the top of the tower with limited food service.

During Norwescon, the hotel runs the Fishbowl Grill. Located in the “fishbowl” (the glassed-in area between the Grand Ballrooms and the Dealers’ Room), this is a convenient spot to grab a fresh grilled burger.

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2.10.2. Are there other restaurants nearby?

Quite a few. Popular choices within walking distance include:

  • Daves Diner
  • Denny’s
  • Jack in the Box
  • L&L Hawai’ian Barbecue
  • Mango Thai Cuisine and Bar
  • Masaes Teriyaki
  • Subway
  • Sharps Roasthouse
  • Taco Bell

Within walking distance if you are willing to walk a little further:

  • 13 Coins Restaurant
  • Aqua Terra
  • Copperleaf Restaurant
  • Gregory’s Bar and Grill
  • Las Palmas Restaurant
  • Spencers for Steaks and Chops (reachable by free Hilton Shuttle most years)
  • Top of the Inn Restaurant

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2.10.3. Does anyone deliver to the hotel?

Yup! Domino’s Pizza and Pizza Hut do for sure, and other local restaurants might. We hope to flesh this out with a list of possibilities at a later date.

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2.11. The DoubleTree Hotel

2.11.1. How do I get a room in the hotel?

The best way is to use the dedicated hotel registration link posted on our website shortly after the close of each year’s convention. Using our dedicated link ensures that you get our negotiated convention rate for your room, instead of the higher standard rate. We do recommend that you book your room early, especially if you plan on arriving on Wednesday before the convention or staying until Monday following the convention, as rooms can fill quite quickly. If you have any issues reserving a room for your preferred dates, please contact our Hotel Liaison for assistance.

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2.11.1.1. What if I know I want a room in the tower?

Per hotel policy, requests for rooms in specific areas such as the tower or particular wings add a small surcharge to your reservation. This is a year-round hotel policy, and not specific to Norwescon or our weekend.

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2.11.1.2. What if I want a suite?

Suites are available in Wing 5B (the “party wing”) for room parties (which can get noisy), or in the Tower (for quiet gatherings or for extra space during the weekend). All suites during Norwescon weekend are booked through Norwescon, and not directly through the hotel. Guidelines for booking suites are outlined on our Hotel page, and the application process and form is posted in the fall.

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2.11.2. What amenities do the rooms have?

DoubleTree rooms have standard hotel amenities (bed (thank goodness!), desk, chairs, television, bathroom, hot water appliance for brewing hot drinks, ice bucket). Rooms do not include a microwave or refrigerator by default. The hotel does have a limited number of refrigerators available by request, but we ask that you only request one if you have medical or child care needs that require refrigeration so that they are available to those who need them.

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2.11.3. Accessibility

The DoubleTree’s full list of accessibility accommodations and options is available on the hotel’s website. Norwescon also has posted accessibility guidelines that cover hotel and con-specific issues beyond what is listed below.

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2.11.3.1. Are there ADA accommodations?

If you require an ADA room, please contact the local reservations staff directly at (206) 246-8600, rather than using the 1-800 number or the web link, and let them know what your specific needs are. Not all ADA-compliant rooms are identical, and the local staff can help you find a better fit. Be sure to let them know you are reserving for the Norwescon room block to ensure you get our negotiated rate.

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2.11.3.2. Will my ADA scooter/wheelchair be okay?

The majority of the hotel is accessible to wheelchairs and scooters. Some hallways can get crowded, particularly between panel sessions, but we are continually working with our security team to ensure that all panels are accessible to those who wish to attend. Those few areas of the hotel that are inaccessible to scooters or wheelchairs do not have any officially sanctioned Norwescon programming scheduled.

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2.11.3.3. What are the easiest paths for low-mobility attendees?

Some areas of the hotel have less-obvious routes for those with low mobility. If you don’t know where the elevator is to the Evergreen Rooms, for example, please talk to the nice people at the Norwescon Info Table, in the main lobby near the Registration area. They can direct you to the easiest way to access each area of the convention.

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2.11.3.4. I am mobility-impaired or otherwise require a caregiver to assist me. Would there be any way that my caregiver could get in without a membership?

We handle these requests on a case by case basis. Please email the Chair for more information.

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2.11.4. Is parking included?

Guests staying at the DoubleTree hotel can self-park one vehicle in the hotel’s lot as part of their stay. Extra vehicles will be charged a daily rate for parking ($8/day as of April 2015). Valet parking is charged at the hotel’s normal rate.

Note that our parking lot is usually pretty full by Friday morning, and you may need to park elsewhere if you leave the lot or arrive on site after that time.

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2.11.4.1. Where can I park if I don’t have a room?

There are several paid parking lots and facilities within a few blocks of the hotel. The closest lot is the WallyPark just across the street.

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2.11.5. What WiFi/Internet connectivity options does the hotel offer?

Complimentary WiFi is available in the public areas of the hotel (including the lobby and restaurants, but not the conference and panel rooms). High-speed internet access (wired or wireless) is available in each guest room for a fee.

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2.11.6. Are there quiet areas if I don’t have/can’t get to my room?

NWC38-Saturday-Wandering 20

The deck by the pool is also a nice place to rest

There are several out-of-the-way areas of the hotel that many of our guests take advantage of when the crowds get to be a bit much.

The “shuttle bay” is located near the hallway entrance to the Evergreen conference rooms. As this area is not ADA accessible, no convention programming is held here, which often makes it a good quiet spot during the day.

There are chairs located along the hallways that bracket the swimming pool leading to Wings Three, Four, Five, and Six; the second level of these hallways has areas with chairs and couches, as does the third level skybridge leading to the Rotunda.

The far end of the Tower hallways have a small open space. While these don’t have seating, we have seen people use those as a simple out-of-the way quiet spot as well.

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2.12. Cosplaying at Norwescon

2.12.1. What’s the weapons policy?

The full Norwescon weapons policy is available. In brief: no real guns (even disabled ones) or functioning projectile weapons; bladed/pointed weapons (whether real or replica) must be kept sheathed, covered, or protected in some way. All weapons, realistic or fantastical must be peacebound by the Security Staff at the Information table in the convention lobby. No weapons of any kind are allowed in Maxi’s Lounge, the Seaport Lounge, the Coffee Garden, or the nightly dances due to Washington State Liquor Code.

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2.12.2. What sort of costumes are allowed?

With very few exceptions, whatever your skills and budget can conceive! A few common-sense guidelines: genitals and women’s nipples must be covered at all times (basically, lack of costume is not a costume), and as we have a lot of families with children of various ages attending, please keep costumes family-friendly during daytime hours. Finally, of course, peanut butter is not a costume.

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2.12.3. Is there a costume contest?

NWC38-Saturday Cosplay 278

Cobra Commander, Carmen Sandiego, Mumm-Ra, and Skeletor, from the NWC38 Masquerade

There is, and it’s always one of the highlights of Saturday evening at Norwescon! Our Saturday night Masquerade highlights some of the best costuming of the convention, and includes costumes created specifically for the Masquerade contest, hall costumes that we’ve invited to come strut their stuff over the course of the day, the Children’s Masquerade (always some of the cutest little cosplayers you’ll see), fun and games at halftime, and the official announcement of our theme and Guests of Honor for the next year!

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2.12.3.1. How can I get into the Masquerade?

Rules and regulations for the Masquerade are posted on the Masquerade webpage each year. Masquerade entrants must attend one of the Masquerade pre-meetings scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

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2.12.3.2. Can I get photos of the Masquerade costumes?

Of course! Starting at around 7 p.m. on Saturday evening, we turn part of our lobby space into a dedicated photo area. We spend much of the evening pulling people wearing hall costumes in for photographs (as long as they’re willing, of course), and all of the Masquerade contestants come out for photo shoots during halftime of the Masquerade before returning for announcement of the awards. Seating for the photo area is limited and first-come-first-serve, but we also have a standing area behind the provided seats.

Within the Masquerade itself, we do forbid flash photography (in a dark room, and with some costumes including headpieces that limit vision, a sudden blinding flash of light can be a Bad Thing, and we’d prefer not to have anyone stumble off the stage).

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2.12.3.3. How can I get a Hall Costume Award?

Wear your fantastic costume and walk around the convention. We generally work with one or more groups of costumers to pass these out, so if you hear someone squealing over your costume while chasing after you, it might be them.

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3. Participating in Norwescon

3.1. Volunteering

3.1.1. Can I volunteer to help out?

Yes — please do, in fact!

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A Norwescon 39 ConCom planning meeting

Norwescon is an all-volunteer organization. Over two hundred and fifty people donate their time and energy throughout the year as part of our ConCom and many more volunteer at the convention itself to make Norwescon work. We are always happy to see new faces getting involved in the behind-the-scenes fun!

At the convention, you can volunteer simply by coming by our volunteer office (usually down the Olympic hallway on the bottom floor of Wing Seven, near the convention office) and asking what you can do to help; there’s almost always something that we could use assistance with! And don’t worry at all if you’re not young and sprightly or have any sort of mobility issues, our crack team of Volunteer Coordinators will be able to find a way to help that aligns with your strengths! (Of course, we do like sending our teen runners off on errands, too….)

The rest of the year, if you’d like to get a little more involved in the nuts-and-bolts of planning the upcoming Norwescon, you’re very welcome to come to one of our ConCom planning meetings, held monthly starting in late summer or early fall and running until the convention itself.

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3.1.2. Can I join the ConCom?

Absolutely, and it’s easy to do! Just show up at one of our ConCom planning meetings and let us know what you’re interested in…or if you don’t have a specific area in mind, let us know that, and see how quickly one department or another tries to coax you into doing their bidding! Before you know it, you’ll be making new friends and joining the Norwescon family, working to make each year’s convention better than the one before.

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3.2. Paneling

3.2.1. Can I be a panelist?

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The “What’s Unique about Writing for Young Adults” panel at Norwescon 37

Possibly so! Norwescon has a new staff every year who field the interest of hundreds of qualified people who want to be panelists. The convention has space for just over 200, so the process can be very competitive. We’re always looking for a good balance of skills and specialties, and therefore might turn down impressively qualified people if their skill set overlaps too much with other people we’ve already invited. We start from scratch every year and actively try to cycle through the large number of highly qualified pros available to allow space for new points of view and to keep our content fresh. Please make sure and include all areas of expertise and note if you have an interest in such additional items as running games, giving a book reading, moderating panels (as opposed to just participating), masquerade judging, or other special ideas aside from simply being on panels.

Norwescon begins reviewing and choosing panelists and presenters in late July and sends invitations out around the end of September. For more information on what we’re looking for and how to toss your name in the hat, please see our Becoming a Panelist page.

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3.2.2. Can I suggest someone else to be a panelist?

Absolutely…though you should probably check with them first to make sure they’re interested. If they are, and you think they fit the guidelines outlined above, just get in touch with us!

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3.2.3. Can I suggest an idea for a panel?

Please do! We want to make sure we continue to provide panels on topics that are of interest to our members, and the best way to be sure we’re doing that is for you to let us know what you’re interested in! You can suggest panels that you’re interested in presenting or topics for panels that you’d be interested in attending by filling out the Panel Suggestion Form. We solicit ideas for panels, presentations, and workshops starting in July.

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3.3. Exhibiting

3.3.1. Artists

3.3.1.1. How do I get into the art show?

The Norwescon Art Show starts accepting artist applications in the fall before the convention. Artists are accepted on a first come, first serve basis, however, art must comply with our genre rules, and we do reserve the right to reject an artist’s application. We accept art from both attending and mail-in artists. The Norwescon Art Show is one of the largest science fiction and fantasy convention art shows in the country. Guidelines and application instructions are usually posted in the fall when applications open.

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3.3.1.2. Can I sell my artwork?

You can! Please contact our Art Show organizers for details.

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3.3.1.3. Can I give demonstrations?

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Art in Action at Norwescon 37

Yes, you can! Art in Action is a unique place for artists and makers. It is a place for Norwescon members to give demonstrations and to talk about the work they love doing. What better way to spread the love you have for your artform then to talk directly to those who are inspired by it? For others it is a chance to see how things are made and to talk to artists, artisans, and makers about what they do. Whether it be a creator they already know or someone they have just discovered, Norwescon’s members will get a chance to really learn about the designer’s perspective.

Art in Action applications open in the fall before the convention.

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3.3.2. Dealers

3.3.2.1. Can I sell stuff in the Dealers’ Room?

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Browsing the Norwescon 37 Dealers’ Room

Quite possibly! Every year we have a number of dealers who would like to join our Dealers’ Room. To provide a variety of products and services of interest to the Norwescon membership and a profitable convention for our dealers, the Norwescon Dealers’ Room is a juried exhibition. Applications open in the early fall before the convention, with confirmation letters sent out in mid-fall.

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3.3.3. Authors

3.3.3.1. Can I promote my book?

Possibly so! Our Writers’ Row is run through our Dealers’ Room; please see the Dealers’ Room information and use the same application form and deadlines.

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3.3.4. Lobby Tables

3.3.4.1. Can my organization get a lobby table?

Norwescon offers lobby table space to clubs, groups, conventions, and organizations that promote science, science fiction, fantasy, costuming, and other fannish pursuits. This table space is an opportunity to share your enthusiasm with Norwescon members who have similar interests. Applications for lobby tables open in the fall before the convention.

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3.4. Gaming

3.4.1. Running Scheduled Games

3.4.1.1. What if I want to run a game at Norwescon? How do I become a GM?

If you are interested in running a game please email gaming@norwescon.org. Game scheduling starts in September; deadlines vary some from year to year but will be published on the gaming page, normally in September. When you contact the gaming department you will be informed of the scheduling process.

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3.4.1.2. What kinds of games can I run? What kinds of tables are available for my game?

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Gaming at Norwescon 38

Basically, any game you can think to run at the convention we can get scheduled. We run board games, card games, role playing games, LARPs, computer games, and anything else people think to bring to us! We generally have some five-foot round tables that can accommodate up to eight people, and some 6’x30” tables that can accommodate six people (eight if you borrow extra chairs and squish a bit). If you want run a LARP or other event that takes up more than one table please let us know in your email to gaming@norwescon.org; your game may need to be scheduled during off peak times since the game room has limited space.

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3.4.1.3. I’m a game developer and I want to demo my game, how do I do that?

There are two options. One is to schedule a few sessions as a GM following the instructions in §3.4.1.1. above (“What if I want to run a game at Norwescon? How do I become a GM?”). The other is to set up a table in our demos and dealers area that you can staff continually during the convention (exact hours of this room vary from year to year but have typically been until 8pm each day). Instructions for this are under §3.4.1.4 below (“I want to promote my game’s kickstarter/indiegogo/etc., how do I do that?”). You may choose to use both of these options if you would like.

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3.4.1.4. I want to promote my game’s Kickstarter/Indiegogo/etc., how do I do that?

Gaming has a demos and dealers space in Maxi’s Salon where Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other fundraising campaigns can be run. It’s a little like an Artists’ Alley or Writers’ Row for games. While direct game sales are not permitted, fundraising for games is allowed. If you are allotted space in this area you are required to demo your game at the table in addition to fundraising. You may also, of course, demo a game without fundraising. Access to electricity in the space is limited.

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3.4.1.5. I want to run a game that requires access to electricity. Can I do that?

Yes…but. We have very limited electrical access so electrical usage is planned carefully. You will need to include your power requirements when you contact gaming about setting up your game. We will do our best to set you up with electrical access but please think about ways to minimize your power usage.

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3.4.1.6. I want to run a computer game, can I do that?

Yes! (Probably.) Please see §3.4.1.5. above (“I want to run a game that requires access to electricity. Can I do that?”). Contact gaming to ask about setting up your game and be very clear what the power requirements of your LAN are.

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3.4.2. Playing Games

3.4.2.1. I want to play a game. Do I need to sign up?

Yes: unless otherwise noted all games are on a first come first served sign up basis. Sign ups start Thursday of the convention for all games for the entire convention. Most games have a maximum player limit; if you sign up after that limit is reached you will be placed on the waitlist and can play if players who signed up earlier don’t show up.

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3.4.2.2. What if I am only coming for one day, can I sign up ahead of time?

Sign ups are strictly available at the convention, we do not have advance sign ups. You can sign up the day of a game, but some games fill up early. However, if you come early in the day on the day you attend you have the best chance of getting a spot in the game you want.

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3.4.2.3. What if I am mobility-impaired and the game I want is scheduled down a set of stairs?

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Gaming at Norwescon 38

Our gaming staff can move any game to be ADA accessible. Please speak to a staff person at the gaming front desk and ask them to move the game to an accessible table. They WILL do so!

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3.4.2.4. What is Open Gaming? Where is it?

Open Gaming is a space where you can go play games of your choice. It is a set of open tables on both floors of the Rotunda that are open on a first come first served basis. You can bring your own games or ask an existing group if you can join. Some Rotunda tables have games scheduled during the weekend and you may be asked to move if a scheduled game needs to run on a specific table you are occupying. This space is not continuously supervised by the gaming staff, but staff may check that scheduled games are running smoothly. Drop-in games are also welcome in the Maxi’s Ballroom space.

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4. Glossary (both NWC-specific and commonly used fandom terms)

4.1. Art in Action
A space for artists to directly engage with Norwescon members while working on their craft. Formerly known as Artists’ Alley.

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4.2. Artist
A maker, creator, painter, sculptor, musician, or other artist displaying creative work in the Norwescon Art Show or at an Art in Action table.

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4.3. Artists’ Alley
See Art in Action.

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4.4. ConCom
Short for Convention Commmittee; the all-volunteer planning committee that works year-round to plan and produce each year’s convention.

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4.5 Consuite
See Hospitality.

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4.6. Dead Zones
Areas of the DoubleTree hotel where cell phone or radio signals do not reach.

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4.7. Dealer
A business or individual selling wares in the Norwescon Dealers’ Room.

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4.8. FIAWOL
Acronym for Fandom Is A Way Of Life.

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4.9. Fishbowl
The glassed-in courtyard between the Grand Ballrooms and the Dealers’ Room.

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4.10. Ghosting
Informally “attending” the convention without actually purchasing a membership, either by only staying in publicly accessible areas or sneaking into members-only convention space. Unsurprisingly, the latter is strongly discouraged.

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4.11. GM/DM
Acronym for Game Master/Dungeon Master; those members running games in one of our gaming areas.

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4.12. GOH
Acronym for Guest Of Honor.

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4.13. Green Room
A relaxation and gathering space for our attending pros and panelists before, after, and in between panels. Also handles pro/panelist registration. Generally located at the far end of the Cascade hallway, near the majority of the panel rooms.

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4.14. Hospitality
Norwescon’s term for the consuite, a room where attendees can gather for conversation and a light snack.

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4.15. Masquerade
Norwescon’s primary costuming showcase and competition, held on Saturday night.

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4.16. Panelist
Any person invited to speak on one or more panels due to particular knowledge or experience on the subject. Some panelists are members who are on just one or two panels, other panelists are Pros/Attending Professionals.

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4.17. Pro/Attending Professional
A member invited to speak on several panels due to particular knowledge or experience in the subject. Attending professionals contribute a significant number of hours to the convention.

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4.18. Rotunda
The round-ish lobby space at the north end of the hallways that bracket the swimming pool, between wings four and five. Usually the home of the open (unscheduled) gaming area.

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4.19. Shuttle Bay
The second-level space just outside the Evergreen rooms. Because this area is down a few steps and is not wheelchair/scooter accessible, no formal convention programming is scheduled here. It is often used informally as a quieter space away from the crowds of the main lobby.

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4.20. Staff
Those members who volunteer year-round as part of the Norwescon ConCom.

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4.21. Volunteer
Those members who volunteer in any capacity, whether as year-round ConCom staff or by showing up at the Volunteer office during the convention, willing to lend a hand. The backbone of Norwescon, this couldn’t be done without all those wonderful and willing volunteers!

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4.22. Vortex
The lobby/hallway space between SeaPorts and the Registration area, near the lobby restrooms and the entrance to the hallways leading to wings two through seven. A heavily-trafficked area that often becomes a congestion point.

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4.23. Writers’ Row
The row of tables just outside the Dealers’ Room, where authors can set up to promote and sell their work. This area is run as an extension of the Dealers’ Room; interested authors must apply for display space.

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