The Newcomer's ABC
Or, A Guide To Discworld Conventions
Welcome, new friends!
A Discworld convention is like nothing else (well, except maybe other Discworld conventions). It may seem daunting to launch headfirst into a weekend with other avid fans, spending oodles of money with no real knowledge of what you're in for. So we'd like to try and put you at your ease, and make you feel welcome. After all, we've all had at least one first Discworld convention experience...
We have created this guide because we want to make sure that you, as someone new to Discworld conventions, feel welcome. Travelling to your first convention, not knowing anyone else and not knowing what to expect can be scary. We've all been there, and we know it's worth it.
It might be a good idea to read the FAQ as well!
If you have any further questions about anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact us.
What is the Discworld Convention?
At its simplest level, a Discworld convention is a gathering of people who enjoy the writings of Terry Pratchett and anything related to the Discworld.
Each convention might have a theme. Nullus Anxietas IV was "Soul Music", Nullus Anxietas VI was "The Discworld Grand Tour" and Nullus Anxietas 7 was "Going Postal". Unfortunately Nullus Anxietas 7a became known as "The Lost Con" due to a certain world wide pandemic that lead to its cancellation. Nullus Anxietas 9 is themed around the great nation of Uberwald. Some of the convention events may tie in with the main theme, but you can expect anything Discworld-related!
A range of events and activities are offered over the convention weekend, and attending or participating in these is up to you - generally there's more than one thing on at a time, so a) you will hopefully find something you want to see or do, but b) you might have to miss out on something in order to attend something else.
So you've taken the plunge and bought your ticket. Well done! That's a great first step. Read on to find out lots of useful information!
Some advice for your first Discworld Convention
Over on the Nullus Anxietas Facebook Group, we posed this question: "What is the one piece of information or advice you would have wished to know before attending your first Australian Discworld Convention?"
Our community responded with some great advice:
There is a packed programme:
- "Accept that you won't get to see every event that you would like - but have a good look at the program and join in to your comfort level."
- "You will try to see ALL THE THINGS! You will not succeed - but you will have fun trying."
- "Participate as much or as little as you want. Yes it's fun to join in, but people watching is also fun. One of my memories of Nullus Anxietas III was watching Sir Terry talking to someone, surrounded but 30 other people watching him talk to that lucky person, being watch by myself and another new friend having quiet time in the foyer."
- "Stay back after it's all finished for the day, and play Werewolf [the social deduction game] with everyone."
- There will be so many things on the programme - you won't be able to get to them all, but hopefully there's something you'll enjoy at all points in time.
- Also, if you've got a great idea for something you'd like to see or run yourself, please volunteer.
Stay at the venue if you can:
- "Stay at the venue! So much of the fun stuff and meeting people happens in the in-between times. Also easier to dress up if you don't have to travel on the day."
- "Stay at the venue! I commuted for the first one, and it's a much better experience when you're there with everyone, and have a home base to dump things."
- "[Staying at the venue is] so much better in multiple ways. Including if you need a quiet place to rest during the day, or if you want to stay up late socialising and then go straight to bed."
- See the venue page to find out more and to book your room.
And some other general advice:
- "Layers. Bring extra layers to wear under your cosplay. Sometimes it's cold."
- "Eat, shower, rest" Otherwise known as the 5-2-1 rule.
- "You might catch the con lurgy [(that is: get sick from exhaustion)] either on the day after it ends or the day after that. Prepare cold and flu tablets and up your vitamin intake beforehand. Book in a rest day after."
- "Discworld conventions have the best people - you'll never feel like you're there by yourself."
- "Be open to meeting new friends even if you normally find this hard to do. You will find friends for life."
Keep reading the rest of this guide for some more specific advice!
Book accommodation at the convention hotel, or nearby. Staying at the venue is recommended, because it means being able to enjoy evening activities with no late nights driving/taxi-ing/busing home.
Work out how you're getting to the convention. Book flights, work out the best bus to catch or how much a taxi will cost, or think about driving.
If you have any accessibility concerns, please let our Membership Officer know through the contact form on our website.
The Nullus Anxietas website has an accessibility page, so be sure to check that out.
Many attendees - especially those travelling from far away - will show up on the Thursday night before the official start of the convention. It's a chance to relax, get settled, and maybe catch up with friends from previous conventions or people they've met in our Facebook groups. Nothing formal is organised, but you may find lots of people in the hotel who are there for the weekend. Often, they are identifiable by their convention t-shirts from previous years. Feel free to introduce yourself and say hi.
When you arrive at the venue, check in to the hotel or other accommodation you've arranged
On Friday morning, the committee and volunteers are busy with final setup. The convention begins around midday, although some people will only arrive in time for the opening ceremony on Friday evening, or even later.
From mid-morning Friday, there should be clear signs at the venue pointing you to the convention registration area. Tell the people there who you are and you will get your convention bag. This will include several vital items.
Did you know there are several Discworld board games available? Want to learn how to play them or even some other great modern board and card games? Come along to the games area where we'll have a wide selection for you to play, along with a few scheduled sessions, including the social deduction game Werewolf (always a popular one at our conventions!).
Generally, Discworld conventions support a few charities, with money raised through selling various Discworld collectors' items. This is where to go if you want a signed book, a prop from one of the movies or something equally Discworldian.
Some items may be sold in a silent auction (where you write down your bid beforehand, rather than the auctioneer calling out for bids), and you can bid on these items at Ops well in advance of the actual auction event.
Can you bring your children to the convention? Absolutely! We do try to be family friendly, but be aware that the occasional outburst of the Hedgehog song may not be suitable for sensitive young ears. Check out the family ticket in the shop to save that little extra bit of money. However, much as we all love children, you will be required to supervise them throughout the convention. If they were your children when you arrived, they are still your children for the duration of the convention. That is fair isn't it?
The closing ceremony on the Sunday afternoon is the last event on the programme and is a chance for us to say thanks to all the hardworking volunteers - from the gophers all the way up to the executive committee. Please come along to show your appreciation for the work that's gone into making the convention happen.
At Registration, you will receive a Convention Bag which includes a bunch of necessary and cool things.
- Convention badge
This is your identity at the convention. Without it you will not be allowed to attend sessions or events. Wear it at all times.
- Convention Book
This souvenir book contains information about the guests of honour, the committee, the activities planned, plus other interesting articles. You do need to read the Book, and you need to do it as soon as you get your hands on it!
- "Final" Timetable of Events and Activities
This might be the most useful item in the pack. It will be the most up-to-date schedule of the events planned.
(The timetable is in endless flux, even during the convention itself, so 'final' may be a strong word. But it's as final as you'll get printed on a bit of paper.)
We generally rename the convention rooms and areas with Discworldly names, so the map is handy for when you are looking for that event you really do not want to miss! There should also be signs up helping you find your way around, and you can always ask a committee member or other convention attendee for help. If you have any accessibility concerns, please let our Membership Officer know before the convention.
- Klatch Entry Ticket
Fill in this form and return to OPS for your chance to participate in a Klatch - that is, a small-group discussion with one of our special guests!
- Other bits and pieces
There are usually a few extra goodies in your convention bag. There may even be an exciting convention activity! Be sure to look through the bag as soon as you've registered so you don't miss out.
Not only is this book a go-to for information about convention sessions and activities, it also contains interviews, artwork, articles, stories and many other fascinating trivia concerning the Discworld and Terry Pratchett's work. You might want to get an autograph from a VIP, or use one of the articles as a conversation starter when meeting new people! Make sure you read your Convention Book and keep it handy so you can refer back to it later.
To costume or not to costume... that is the question.
Many Discworld fans like to dress up as their favourite Terry Pratchett / Discworld character at the convention. Costumes are totally voluntary - you are very welcome to participate if you feel like it, or fit right in with the many who like to wear jeans and a t-shirt.
If you do want to dress up, we encourage you to do so. Your costume can be a fantastic way to meet people and a great conversation starter. Some costumes are simple (a torn shirt, some makeup and a protest sign: instant Reg Shoe), some are amazing demonstrations of skill and artifice (Mr Shine, him diamond!). Although don't go too simple - We know that barbarian heroes and Nac Mac Feegles don't wear much more than a loincloth or kilt but, for the sake of the hotel staff and other guests, please wear a little bit more.
Some people have a different costume for each day, or some wear the same character every day. Some just wear a costume to the Gala Dinner or to enter in the Maskerade (costume/talent competition). There is also a chance you could win the People's Choice of Best Costume at the Convention, just for wearing your costume, nothing to enter for this one.
Plan your costume and start making it now!
Important: Our little patch of Roundworld does not grant you the right to bear arms. All weapons must be checked in at Ops. If you are in costume and carrying any kind of weapon or weapon-looking item (yep, even that plastic scythe or Granny's hatpin!) you MUST report to Ops immediately. There you will be given a sticker or tag to place on your weapon and a note will be made of it. If we deem the weapon to be offensive (even to trolls) we will ask you to leave it with us at Ops (you may reclaim it later, or take it back to your hotel room if you would prefer). Do not violate this code. It is for everyone's safety and enjoyment. Remember that regular Roundworld denizens (the kind that don't know about The Disc, poor things) will also be in the venue and we don't want to scare them. (Well, not too much, anyway)
Also Important: "Cosplay is not Consent": anyone in a costume is no doubt super-proud of the outfits they've whipped up to wear to the con, but that doesn't mean they want to be plastered all over social media. If you'd like to take a photo of someone in costume, or have a selfie with them, make sure you ask first! However, if you see an outfit that's particularly amazing or clever, the wearer will probably be happy to accept your compliments, and may even share their methods with you.
There is usually a dealers room where you can buy books and other Discworld-related merchandise, or sometimes gifts and curios handmade by other fans. It's not like the big pop culture expos where the dealers take up most of the space - we typically have fewer than six dealers. The Convention Book has information on the dealers, their location and the times they will be open for business. (Note: The Dealer's Room may have a different name connected to the theme.)
The Australian Discworld Convention welcomes people from all over Roundworld. You are welcome here regardless of race, height, worship methods or sleeping arrangements. You will encounter people with diverse likes and interests. Get in there and soak up something new. We show respect to all.
Events and Activities
A Discworld convention has a large volume of events and activities running at all times - usually four or five things at once! And although you won't be able to see everything (unless you're a History Monk) there's so much to experience. The convention normally begins around midday on Friday and finishes early evening on Sunday.
Events vary from serious discussions to the downright silly. There will be panels, video presentations, Q&A sessions, crafting workshops, board games, silly games, music, dancing, trivia - and we know there will be something on the timetable that even we've never heard of before!
Some events are traditional and will almost certainly be included - read your Convention Book to find out more about the events being offered at the convention.
Some key times - keep in mind that these aren't finalised, you'll need to refer to the actual timetable to be sure!
- Friday late morning: Registration desk opens
- Friday around midday: Convention activities begin.
- Friday evening: Opening Ceremony, Special Guest interviews, Quiz, Bedtime Stories. Activities finish up around midnight.
- Saturday 9 or 10am: Convention activities start for the day.
- Saturday afternoon: Maskerade (costume/talent competition)
- Saturday evening: Gala Dinner. For those who don't purchase tickets to the gala dinner, alternate activities will be offered. Activities finish up around midnight.
- Sunday 9 or 10am: Convention activities start for the day.
- Sunday morning: Charity Auction.
- Sunday around 5pm: Closing Ceremony, convention officially ends.
- Sunday evening: Unofficial "Dead Monkey Party" - basically, we congregate in the hotel bar and relax over some drinks.
The convention doesn't supply you with any food, except at the Gala Dinner (ticketed at an extra cost). So remember to eat! There will be some information about nearby food options in your Convention Bag.
There may or may not be space on the schedule around mealtimes, but it is easy to get so caught up in everything that you suddenly find the next big event is starting and you're hungry. Bring snacks with you if you think you might forget.
Also, please remember to raise any dietary requirements when you purchase food - while we will pass on information you supply to the gala dinner organisers, we cannot be responsible for food consumed during the convention.
The bar is always a good place to chat with other Discworld fans, share stories and enjoy a refreshing beverage. You may run into some of the VIP guests, and they may appreciate you offering to buy them a drink! You may also run into some of the convention organisers, who would also really appreciate you offering to buy them a drink.
On the Saturday night, there will be a chance for you to frock up or put on your best suit (or Discworld costume) for a lovely evening of food and entertainment. This catered event does cost extra (tickets are limited, and will be available on the website, and must be purchased in advance).
If you don't come to the Gala Dinner, there will be alternate events so you will still be able to have fun with other convention attendees.
There will be some guests of honour (also known as VIPs) invited to the convention, and it's possible you may have never heard of them. However, rest assured they are people who have worked closely with Terry Pratchett or his work over the years, and they all have wonderful stories to tell. There will be information on the website and in the Convention Book to let you know who these people are and what they have done for the Discworld community.
Unlike at other pop culture conventions, the attending guests will usually spend their time behaving just like us, going to events or participating in activities, wandering around, and lounging in the bar. Do not be afraid to talk to them and introduce yourself.
Of course, please remember to treat our guests with respect. Some of them have travelled a long way to be at the convention, and may wish to enjoy parts of the convention as a fan, just like you.
Given the Interesting Times that we live in, some guests will only be appearing virtually through the magic of the Omniscope (that is, an internet video call). Sessions with virtual guests can be found on the events timetable.
Klatches are small, intimate group chats with guests of honour (attending or virtual). They are listed in the timetable of events but they are limited to a small number of people. Your convention bag contains tickets to the Klatches; you need to submit your ticket to Ops, and you will have a chance to attend them by random draw. The draws will be announced just prior to each Klatch by way of a list posted at the door of the Klatch location.
The Maskerade is a chance for anyone to show off! The event is a combination of a costume parade, a talent show, and a prop-maker's exhibition. Judges will award prizes to the best costume, the best act, and the best prop in various categories. To participate in any of the Maskerade categories, please sign up on the website beforehand, or at Ops by the Friday evening.
Meeting People (Old friends and new)
Some fans are talkative and outgoing, while others prefer quiet and a good book - which can make parts of the convention a little scary for them. There may seem to be cliques (Mostly people who clicked at a previous convention and want to catch up) and in-crowds, but we are generally a friendly bunch ready to welcome Discworld fans into a group. Your Convention Book can be a great icebreaker - there's plenty of conversation starters in there!
Consider buying t-shirts and other convention merchandise on the website. These will be pre-orders that you can pick up at the convention. We may have merchandise to sell at the convention - Go to Ops!
Ops is the hub of operations for the convention. Go to Ops for information on
- Events and activities
- First Aid
- Submitting Klatch tickets
- Submitting raffle forms
- Bidding on the silent auction
- Lost property and lost people (your child/buddy/cow)
- Costume weapon checks
- Questions on just about anything, but let's not get too metaphysical, okay?
Basically, if there's anything you don't know, or a situation where you don't know what to do... Go to Ops.
The opening ceremony takes place on the Friday afternoon/evening and is an entertaining way for the committee to welcome everyone to the convention. Special welcome is given to the guests of honour (and Sir Terry's hat), and you'll be given a briefing about what to expect, safety issues and so on.
Subscribe to the newsletter to get email updates approximately once a month, perhaps more frequently closer to the convention.
There is usually a quiz on the timetable, with Discworld and Roundworld questions. This is a good opportunity to meet new people (by finding a table and saying "can I join you?") while searching your brains for that tiny tidbit of knowledge. Treat it like a trivia night, and just have fun.
Slang (a convention glossary)
Over the years, the Australian Discworld Conventions have developed a bit of our own lingo (some borrowed from the UK Discworld Conventions) and it can be a little confusing to a newcomer. Most are covered in this guide, but here are a few more:
- Blue Dot: This is a scheme which allows people who may have accessibility requirements early entry or a choice of seating for some of our events.
- Con: Short for convention.
- Gopher: A convention volunteer - especially those with no fixed jobs.
- Klatch: A small intimate chat with a special guest.
- Nullus Anxietas: The name chosen for the main Australian Discworld Conventions. Taken from The Last Continent where it's the motto of Bugarup University. It's (fake) Latin for "No Worries!"
The 5-2-1 Rule
This applies to all conventions, not just Discworld ones. It means that every day, you should ensure you get:
- At least 5 hours of sleep
- At least 2 full meals
- At least 1 shower
Some people follow 7-3-1 or other variants, and that's up to you as an individual, but although you might think it's fun to stay up all night or you're too busy to remember meals, for your sake and for the sake of everyone around you, take care of yourself, get some sleep, eat some food, and wash away the sweat and grime of the day.
The conventions are run entirely by volunteers. While all the big jobs (Crivens!) will have been allocated long before you get there, helpers (or gophers) are still needed during the convention itself. The term "gophers" comes from the phrase "can you go for..." and they are highly valued by committee members and convention attendees.
Please volunteer to help out in some capacity. There are many jobs to do before the convention, as well as several during the weekend itself. Volunteer by filling in this form.
"The Watch" refers to the Convention Security (and not to that TV show). These are dedicated volunteers who are assigned to "serve and protect" all attendees of the convention. They are there to make sure Klatches are uninterrupted, to keep queues in order, and generally keep the peace. Although they are very helpful and friendly, they are usually 'on mission', so if you have questions please go to Ops rather than asking any of the Watch staff.
This fun social deduction party game is always a big hit at conventions. Don't worry if you've never played before, the rules are fairly simple and whoever is moderating the game will explain them to new players. In addition to scheduled Werewolf games, it's likely that unofficial games will take place - generally late at night.
Where did everyone go?
There might be times when it can seem like everyone has just disappeared. If this happens, you might be missing a really popular event. Check the timetable or go to Ops. (Possibly, it's 3am and you didn't notice. Time to apply the 5-2-1 Rule!)
Congratulations on making it through the Newcomer's ABC!
- Visiting this website regularly, as more and more information will be added as we edge closer to the convention.
- Subscribing to the newsletter to get updates via email.
- Following us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for more frequent updates.
- Joining the Facebook group to chat with other attendees.
- Finding out more about your local fan club so you can meet other fans before heading to the convention.