Sharpen your pencils and polish your dice… Can-Con the RPG: Level 2 is here!

After the success of last year’s convention turned RPG (role-playing game), it is back and better than ever, thanks to all the feedback and suggestions we received last year.

There are some major changes this year, such as adventurer vs adventurer skill challenges and quests, so buckle on your armour and get ready for adventure.

Your name badge will have space for your main stat bonuses and you’ll be able to track experience points, quest completition and your equipment with a small booklet available by registration that will fit behind your name badge. Our wonderful volunteers at registration are usually busy, so if you need any help or have any questions about how to play, please visit the Training Post in the Cave of Wonders (aka Dealer’s Room).

Bring your own dice if you’ve got them, but there will be dice available as well.

Creating your Character

Starting Stats

You start with 0 and add a plus 1 bonus for the following traits (you in real life):

  • Scientist/Writer: +1 bonus to Intelligence  (INT)
  • Athlete/Martial Artist: +1 bonus to Strength  (STR)
  • Editor: add +1 bonus to Wisdom  (WIS)
  • Paper Airplane Maker/Flyer: +1 bonus to Dexterity  (DEX)
  • Reader (you read a book/story in the past month): +1 bonus to Constitution  (CON)
  • Panelist/Guest: +1 bonus to Charisma (CHA)

Write your stats in the appropriately marked boxes on your name badge.

When using your stats (challenges, quests, etc), you roll a d20 and add the bonus for that stat. You will have the opportunity to increase your stats during the convention with experience and special items.

Your stat bonuses will change as you gain experience and loot, so pencil is advisable.

Choose Your Class (fighting type) and basic weapon.

Select what type of fighter you want to be. Each class gets a +1 bonus to two related Stats and has two types of weapons they can use.

  • Warrior: uses Strength bonus to attack. Add +1 to your Strength and Constitution.
    • Weapons: sword, axe.
  • Ranger or Rogue: uses Dexterity to attack. Add +1 to your Dexterity and Wisdom.
    • Weapons: crossbow/bow, thrown daggers.
  • Wizard: uses Intelligence to attack with spells. Add +1 to your Intelligence and Charisma.
    • Weapons: wand or amulet.
  • Bard: uses Charisma to attack with song and music. Add +1 to your Charisma and Dexterity.
    • Weapons: hand cone, lyre.
  • Monk: uses Wisdom to attack, channeling your chi. Add +1 to your Wisdom and Strength.
    • Weapons: glove, staff.

Basic weapons give you a +1 to your attack. You can only use the weapons listed for your class. You may acquire special weapons with higher bonuses as loot. You cannot combine a new weapon with an old, it replaces your basic weapon.

You can choose to change your class during the convention. If you do, you can only use the weapons of your new class. When changing your class, you must first remove the +1 bonus your old class gave you before adding your new class bonuses. Ex: If you switch from a Warrior to a Bard, you remove 1 from STR and CON and add 1 to your CHA and DEX.


Your Level is equal to the number of years you have attended Can-Con, including this year. If this is your first year, you are at level 1.


Your Defense is equal to your Level plus your Constitution. If your Constitution increases, so does your defense.

Hit Points

Your Total Hit Points is equal to your Level +2. If you are Level 1, you have 3 Hit Points. There are ways to increase your Hit Points. When you are wounded, you temporarily lose Hit Points until you can heal them back by attending panels.

If you go down to 0 Hit Points, you cannot engage in combat, challenges or quests until you have healed back at least 1 Hit Point.

Training Post:

If you’re having trouble creating your character or learning how to play, visit the Training Post at Past the Mirror Publishing’s table in the Cave of Wonders (Dealer’s Room).

Your name badge has boxes to mark your Stat bonuses. You will also receive a booklet to mark your Level, Fighting Class, Armour, Weapon, Special Items, Quest Completion and Experience.

Adventurer vs Adventurer


Roll a d20 and add the appropriate bonuses for your stat and the weapon you are using (ex: if you are a bard with +2 charisma bonus and a basic +1 lyre, and you roll 13, your attack is 16). You need at least one number higher than your opponent’s Defense to hit. They can also counter attack back using their weapon. Whoever’s attack margin (successful hit minus defense) is higher wins the battle (ex: If your total attack is 17 and their defense is 15, your attack margin is 2. If they countered with an attack of 18 and your defense is 15, their attack margin is 3. Your opponent wins).

If you engage in combat with an opponent and fail the challenge, you are wounded and temporarily lose 1 Hit Point.

Fighting Boss Monsters

You must gain a minimum of 100 experience points to begin challenging Boss Monsters to fight. There are three Boss Monsters (con-comm: Nicole Lavigne, Brandon Crilly & Evan May) and one Final Boss (Can-Con Co-Founder Farrell McGovern). You can challenge each Boss Monster only twice per day. You cannot challenge Boss Monsters during panels or if they are on their way to a panel/event (they’ll let you know and ask you to see them later).

Skill Challenges

You can also challenge other attendees to skill challenges. Use your keen Intellect to create a puzzle for your friend and see if they can solve it, or challenge them to a bardic competition. Select the skill you wish to use to challenge them. Each of you rolls a d20 and adds the appropriate skill bonus to see who has the higher roll. Special items can give you additional bonuses to your skills.

  • Battle of Wits (Intelligence vs Intelligence)
  • Battle of the Bards (Charisma vs Charism)
  • Drinking Contest (Constitution vs Constitution)
  • Arm Wrestling (Strength vs Strength)
  • Archery Contest (Dexterity vs Dexterity)
  • Test of Perceptiveness (Wisdom vs Wisdom)


What’s the point of adventuring if you aren’t going to pick up some sweet loot? There are a few different ways to get loot:

  • Defeat a boss monster
  • Random drops
  • Exploring the Cave of Wonders (Dealer’s Room)
  • Complete all the Quests (visit the Training Post once complete)

Types of Loot include: Experience points, Stat boosting items, Armour, Weapons. If you cannot use a weapon you find with your current class, make a friend and trade loot. You can also change your class (see Creating your Character).


Experience (XP) is gained by doing certain activities (attending panels, etc) during the convention. 100 XP can be traded in for a +1 bonus to a Stat or your Total Hit Points. Mark your experience in your character booklet as you gain it and then cross off 100 XP when you trade it in for your bonus.

You gain experience each time you fully complete one of the following activities:

  • Attend a panel = 15 points
  • Attend a reading = 25 points
  • Get a book signed by author/editor = 20 points
  • Visit the Exhibitor’s Room = 50 points per day, max 150
  • Attend a book launch = 50 points
  • Meet someone new = 10 points
  • Defeat Boss Monster = 100 XP (once per boss monster)
  • Completing Quests = once per quest, XP varies for each quest and how it is completed

(This list is also contained in your character booklet.)


You will find quests dispersed about the convention. Each quest can be attempted in 2 to 3 different ways, using different stats. Choose the stat you wish to use, roll a d20 and add your bonus for that stat. Only open the card to see the target after you roll. You must match the target number for that stat to successfully complete the challenge. If you are successful, you gain the listed XP for that approach. Each quest can be attempted once per morning/afternoon/evening (i.e. max 3 times per day). Some quests will have a side effects if you fail. You cannot change which stat you attempt the challenge with after you roll.

The quests are numbers to help you track them in your character booklet. It does not matter what or you do them in.

Example quest:

You’ve set off from home on your first quest. A kobold jumps out from behind the trees and attacks you!

  • Fight back with your shiny new sword! STR
  • Your legs are longer than his. Run! DEX

(Choose to either attempt the challenge with your STR or DEX, roll and tally your bonuses. Then open the Quest Card.)

  • Fight back: 16 STR. Success = 10 XP
  • Run! 13 DEX. Success = 5 XP

FAIL: Fortunately the kobold’s knife is dull. He scratches you, but you’ll survive.

If you chose to attempt the challenge using your Strength (STR) you need a total roll + bonuses of 16 to succeed and earn 10 experience if successful.


Can-Con the RPG was developed by Nicole Lavigne for Can-Con, with special thanks to ‘Nathan Burgoine, Jennifer Carole Lewis and Brandon Crilly.

The Summer Novel Workshop: Crafting Your Novel From Start to Finish in Three Months

summer novel workshopWe’re pleased to announce a new offering from Can-Con: online workshops!  We’ll have more announcements regarding other online workshops leading up to Can-Con this fall (have you bought your ticket yet?), but today marks the day we launch our first online workshop, offered by Can-Con co-chair and multi-published author, Marie Bilodeau!

Marie’s already offered this workshop to great success and demand for more, so we’re thrilled to host her here!*

Space is limited and it starts in just two weeks!   All prices are in Canadian dollars.



Summer is usually considered a time for lazing about and daydreaming.  But what if, over the course of three months, you could turn one of your daydreams into reality? Instead of just passively thinking about all those great stories you’d like to write one day, why not actually write one? With this structured 12-week course, you can do just that.

Here’s what you’ll get:

  • Weekly live webinars led by multi-published author Marie Bilodeau, who will lead you step-by-step through the creative—and practical!—process of drafting a complete novel. (Can’t make the live webinar? No worries! Everything will be made available to you in a private group so you can watch/review at your own convenience. It is summer, after all!)
  • The chance to ask some of those writing/publishing questions you’ve always wanted answers to.
  • A tool box full of ideas that you can use again and again for taking your story from idea to completed first draft—and for polishing it to make it even more awesome.

Who should take this workshop:

  • Anyone who’s always wanted to write a novel but hasn’t known where to start.
  • Anyone who’s tried to write a novel but never quite been able to finish it.
  • Anyone who’s written a novel but took months (or years!) to do so and wants to learn to write faster.
  • Anyone who’s completed a novel but faced multiple rejections and wants to improve their craft.

When?  Where?  What???

  • Workshop will start on June 28 and end on September 13
  • Webinars will take place on Wednesdays from 7-8:30 pm ET.
  • Webinars will be recorded and posted in private group.
  • Exercises will be provided as necessary, but the homework mostly consists of “write your novel.” (Simple and efficient.)
  • This is for all genres! I specialize in speculative fiction, but exercises are applicable to different genres and will be catered according to workshop attendees.
  • Everything is online, so you can take this workshop anywhere!

The Plan

WEEK 0 (Bonus material!)
Preparing to Write

Things you need to have in place to complete a novel in a short period of time. 

Story and Arcs

What’s your story about?  Are you sure you know? Are you writing a caper?  A space exploration journey? An epic fantasy? A character-driven romance? Figuring out what exactly your story is about will help you create a tight novel with clear direction (and lots of planned misdirections for your reader!)

Structure / Outlines

Are you a pantser or a plotter?  Or maybe you’re a bit of both (a plantser). No clue?  We’ll give tips, tricks, and tools for figuring out what approach to storytelling works best for you, and discuss the pros and cons of each.  We’ll also chat about basic story structure such as The Hero’s Journey and the Three Act Structure.


Who’s driving your story, and why? We’ll talk about goal, motivation, and conflict (internal vs. external) for protagonists, antagonists, and secondary characters. Learn what a sack-of-potatoes character is and how to avoid creating one. We’ll also talk about the importance of point of view (POV) and how using the wrong one can leave your reader feeling ‘meh’ about your story.

More Characters

Push the boundaries of character development. Learn how to avoid clichés and get to know your character’s limits. How much can they take before breaking? And how can you keep them believable throughout your story?

Setting and Worldbuilding

Regardless of what type of story you’re writing, the setting can increase tension, heighten the senses, and draw your readers in. Learn how to avoid the dreaded information dump and instead use your setting in subtle ways that will make your novel pop. 

Tension and Pacing

Story hooks, chapter hooks, word choices, sentence structure, breathing space. Learn ways to keep your reader on the edge of their seat and flipping pages long into the night—and at the same time, discover the importance of giving them room to breathe sometimes, too.

More Tension!

Weave tension and conflict like a pro throughout every aspect of your novel by pushing every element a little bit more. Do the unexpected! Challenge your characters! Keep your readers guessing! And above all, avoid that sagging middle!

Writer’s Block / Routines

Butt in chair.  Laptop on. Words not flowing. What do you do when the muse seems to have deserted you? We discuss tips and tricks for getting past the dreaded writer’s block and keeping you engaged in your own story, and for finding and setting a routine that works best for you. (Hint: sheer determination is key here.)

Tricks to reach “The End”

Finishing a novel is tough.  Life gets in the way. Your characters get in the way. Heck, you get in the way. Let’s have an honest chat about pushing through and getting it done—and why it’s important not to cave to that impulse to go back and start rewriting before you’ve finished.

Substantive Edits

Your novel has to shine, and sometimes we don’t see the flaws until that first draft is complete. Regardless of where you are in the drafting process, these pro tips will help make the dreaded edits go faster and easier.

Language Edits

Your story is solid. Your characters are so real, they practically jump off the page. Your ending is brilliant. Now to make sure your prose is as good as your story! We discuss the nitty-gritty things that can make a world of difference between an okay story and a great one: purple prose, repetition, varying sentence length, and more.

Now What?

You’ve reached The End…or you’re almost there.  What do you do now that your story and words are all nicely polished and ready to be sent out into the world? We’ll talk different publishing routes (indie vs. traditional vs. small press) as well as further learning tools to help you continue to grow and succeed as an author. 

How Much is All of This Writing Goodness?

You have a choice!


Learning and Writing

  • Bonus webinar “Preparing to Write”
  • 12 webinars as described above
  • Access to Private group (to review materials and meet other participants)
  • One completed novel (if you stick with it)
  • $200


Coaching and Guidance

If you want personalized feedback, this is the package for you! Includes everything in the Bronze Level, plus…

  • One half-hour chat (via Skype) and feedback time with me per week
  • Ass-kicking as requested (“Why aren’t you writing? That’s not a good reason. Go write. I’m waiting. Go on.”)
  • $450


Ultimate Writing Package

Includes everything in the Bronze and Silver levels, plus…

  • Full critique of your novel (up to 55,000 words) after the course
  • I will harass you to finish that draft, since this must be claimed within six months of workshop ending (consider it extra motivation)
  • $850


Mix and Match

Choose four webinars of your liking!

  • No access to private group or workshop archives
  • $75

Who the Heck Am I?

I’ve published eight novels through both small and larger press publishers, and I’m also self-published. I’ve written across the gamut of speculative fiction: horror, fantasy, and science-fiction. My writings have been nominated four times for the Aurora Awards, and I won the Bronze Medal in science-fiction in the Foreword Book Awards. I’ve been a bestseller in multiple countries, translated into other languages, and I am a full time working artist.

I love writing and words, lifelong learning, and the challenge of maintaining a career in this crazy, fun business called writing.

You can find out more about me (and check out my wall of tiny book covers) at

*We didn’t give her any choice – it was either we host it, or no more paper airplane competition.

Aurora Nomination

As Co-Chairs of Can*Con, we are overwhelmed to have received our third straight Aurora Award nomination in the category of Best Fan Organizational. Can*Con is a little con that is consistently punching above its weight. Can*Con 2016 was proud to feature four Guests of Honour: Tanya Huff of DAW Books (Author), Sheila Williams of Asimov’s Magazine (Editor), Sam Morgan of the JABberwocky Agency (Agent), and Eric Choi of the Canadian Space Technology Field (Science).

The entire ballot of the 2017 Aurora Award is very strong and we are humbled to be sharing the ballot with so many luminaries. We would like to congratulate past and present Can*Con guests and panelists! Congratulations to Gerald Brandt, Madeline Ashby, A.M. Delamonica, Robert J. Sawyer, Brent Nichols, Ed Willett, Robert Runté, Hayden Trenholm, Amal El-Mohtar, Kari Maaren, Dominik Parisien, Mike Rimar, Claude Lalumière, Mark Shainblum, Susan Forest, Lucas Law, Dan O’Driscoll, S.M. Carrière, Derek Newman-Stille, Chadwick Ginther, Sandra Kasturi, Matt Moore, Nicole Lavigne, Charles de Lint, and Steven Erikson!

There are too many volunteers to list individually, but special thanks to Nicole Lavigne, Brandon Crilly, Evan May, Caycee Price, Morris Rothman, Hayley Halloran, Jaggy Sue, Dario Sciola and many others! You make the conference happen! 🙂

Last year was the first time we’d brought an Agent Guest of Honour (and the second time we’d brought a New York editor!), because we believe that the writing community in Ottawa deserves to meet New York industry professionals. And we brought Tanya Huff and Eric Choi because Ottawa fans ought to be treated to the best and brightest of Canada’s fantastic literature and science communities.

We are very pleased to be welcoming to Can*Con in 2017 our Guests of Honour Steven Erikson (Author), Sheila Gilbert (Editor) and Kim-Mei Kirtland (Agent) over the weekend of 13-15 October, 2017. Please spread the word and bring a friend to the fun!

Derek Künsken                          Marie Bilodeau
Co-Chair (Programming)        Co-Chair (Corporate)

Announcing our 2017 Agent Guest of Honour

Continuing our tradition of bringing New York publishing to meet Ottawa, Can*Con 2017 is delighted to announce that Kim-Mei Kirtland, a new agent at the Howard Morhaim Agency in Brooklyn, will be our Agent Guest of Honour. This is the second year that we’ve flown an Agent Guest of Honour to Ottawa, because we believe it is invaluable for Ottawa writers to meet agents, and to hear directly from them how traditional publishing works.

Ms. Kirtland is looking for clients, and some time will be set aside for her to hear pitches, so we advice those who are interested to sign up for her kaffeeklatch and attend her panels, and then maybe say hi in a more relaxed setting at one of the evening receptions.

And it’s also invaluable to study what Ms. Kirtland represents, so we recommend taking the time to read some of the authors she names (a quick google scan will find you some short fiction by those authors in podcasts). If you like what she likes, that’s a good sign. If not, you can still ask questions about the business.

If you don’t have a novel ready, but you think what you write would be a good fit, you can also ask for her card and submit when your novel has been edited and polished to perfection 🙂

Derek                                                             Marie
Co-Chair (Programming)                          Co-Chair (Corporate)
Can*Con 2017                                              Can*Con 2017

Kim-Mei KirtlandKim-Mei Kirtland joined the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency in 2013. She is a lifelong reader of science fiction and fantasy, particularly hard science fiction in the vein of Greg Egan and Peter Watts, and is actively looking for fiction in those genres. Other areas of interest to her include literary fiction and serious nonfiction, particularly in the areas of history, biography, business, and economics. She lives in New York with a slowly growing collection of houseplants.

Announcing our 2017 Writer Guest of Honour

We are delighted to welcome Steven Erikson, New York Times Bestselling author of the Malazan epic fantasy series as our 2017 Author Guest of Honour. We’ve had a number of science fiction guests over the past few years, and we wanted to make sure we also showed some of the extraordinary work being done in the fantasy field. Mr. Erikson is a key part of that for 2017, and in addition to our normal science expert programming, we’ll be trying to find local history professors to talk about fascinating parts of the past from which so much of the epic fantasy aesthetic is mined 🙂

Be sure to tell your friends that Steven Erikson will be in Ottawa in October for Can*Con!

Derek                                                             Marie
Co-Chair (Programming)                            Co-Chair (Corporate)
Can*Con 2017                                              Can*Con 2017

Steven EriksonSteven Erikson is a Canadian Best-Selling novelist living in Victoria, BC. Steven was trained as an archaeologist and anthropologist, and also graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His best-known work is the ten-volume fantasy series Malazan Book of the Fallen, which by 2012 had sold over 1,000,000 copies worldwide. SF Site has called the series “the most significant work of epic fantasy since Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant,” and Fantasy Book Review described it as “the best fantasy series of recent times.” Fellow author Glen Cook has called the series a masterwork of the imagination that may be the high water mark of the epic fantasy genre, while Stephen R. Donaldson noted the subversion of classical tropes, the complex characterizations, and the social commentary in the Malazan series.

Announcing our 2017 Editor Guest of Honour

Can-Con is very pleased to announce our first Guest of Honour. Sheila Gilbert, Hugo Award winning editor of DAW Books, will be flying in from New York to be our Editor Guest of Honour for 2017. She will be involved in programming on editorial voice, novel acquisition, working with authors and other topics. We’re so delighted that she accepted our invitation. DAW Books has published thousands of fan-favourite fantasy and science fiction novels over the years. And as far as developing Canadian talent, we feel it is tremendously valuable for writers to be able to meet the senior editors of the SFF field. Other Guest of Honour announcements will be happening soon! We hope that everyone takes the opportunity to make it to Can*Con!

Derek                          Marie
Co-Chair                     Co-Chair
Programming            Corporate

Sheila Gilbert

photo by Ed WIllett

Sheila E. Gilbert began attending science fiction conventions 54 years ago, and still enjoys the opportunity they provide to interact with other fans of the genre. She has worked in publishing since 1970, starting at Ace Books, then moving to NAL in 1972, where she ran the Signet Science Fiction and Fantasy line. She also worked as a free-lancer for Dell, Warner, and Doubleday. In 1985, Sheila joined DAW Books, becoming a partner in the company and co-publisher with Betsy Wollheim. Sheila works closely with her many authors and art directs all her titles. Among her authors are a number of Canadians, including Tanya Huff, Michelle Sagara West, Fiona Patton, Violette Malan, Ed Willett, and Gerald Brandt. Over the years, she has been a guest at a number of regional conventions and writers’ conferences. In 2016, Sheila won the Hugo Award for Best Editor Long Form. Visit DAW’s website:

Mark your calendars!

Ottawa’s twice-Aurora-nominated literary science fiction, fantasy and horror conference will run 13-15 October, 2017 at the Sheraton in downtown Ottawa. The Sheraton is more accessible and has more space for us to grow, and we especially worked hard to get a larger dealer’s room. The Sheraton is 4 blocks from Elgin, 4 blocks from Parliament and the river, 7 blocks from the market, and is right on the bus routes!

We’ll be announcing our Guests of Honour over the coming months, but you may want to book your room now. Our room block last year filled and we had to ask for additional rooms! For information on how to book your hotel room right away, visit our Location page! For American attendees, as of the time of this post, if you take about 25% off all the costs, you get pretty close to the cost in US dollars.

Marie and Derek are sharing the chairship again this year, with Derek as Co-Chair of Programming and Marie as Co-Chair Corporate. We’ll be streamlining more of our processes, so we’ll need people helping on marketing, fan and community outreach, a website team, on-site con-running, drivers, supply-getters, tech support, etc. If you’d like to volunteer, please write to with a listing of why you’d be great for a particular spot!

Stay tuned to this website, the Can*Con Facebook page and the @CanConSF twitter feed. The programming team will be confirming panelists and sending out information on what to get ready for 🙂  We’ll have an Author GOH, an Editor GOH, and a Literary Agent GOH, and we’ll continue to have a strong expert track of university professors and researchers!

Lastly, the Can*Con Co-Chairs, special guests and volunteers will be promoting the conference in a number of places in the coming months, so if you’re at any of the following, come say hi: ChiSeries in Ottawa, Ad Astra in Toronto, Boréal in Québec, the Nebula Conference in Pittsburgh, Limestone Genre Expo in Kingston, and When Worlds Collide in Calgary.

This year is going to be even better than last and we can’t wait to make our announcements!

Can-Con Team

Can-Con – The Campaign!

We decided to try something a little different this year, a sort of in convention game. Can-Con is now not only a convention, but an RPG Game! Your name badges are now character sheets. There will be stations with dice so that you can roll up your character. And even a couple of monsters to fight!  Who will gain the most experience points and find the best loot?

Can-Con 2016 badge preview

Can-Con 2016 name badge character sheet

Can-Con 2016 Adventure Campaign – Rules

Character Creation

Write your name and pronoun of choice.

Write in your class, if not already filled in (based on your registration): Attendee, Panelist, Vendor, Special Guest, Guest of Honour, returning Guest of Honour. You can be a dual class (ex: Vendor & Panelist).

Your Level is equal to the number of years you have attended Can-Con. If this is your first year, you are a level One.

To find your Health Points, add your Constitution Score and your Level.

To find your basic Defence Score, add your Dexterity and your Level

DMs (Co-Chairs) add +10 to their Health Points and Defence. Guests of Honour and returning GoHs add +5 to their Health and Defence.

To find your ability scores, roll a d20 once for each. If you have any of the following traits, add +1 to your roll for that ability. Dice are available at stations around the convention. Please leave the dice there for all to use.

  • Scientist/Writer: add +1 to Intelligence roll (Int)
  • Martial Artist: add +1 to Strength roll (Str)
  • Editor: add +1 to Wisdom roll (Wis)
  • Paper Airplane Maker/Flyer: add +1 to Dexterity roll (Dex)
  • Reader: add +1 to Constitution roll (Con)
  • Panelist/Guest: add +1 to Charisma roll (Cha)

Growing your character through the convention.

Whenever you make a purchase in the dealer’s room, you will be given a random piece of paper containing:

  • +1 to any Skill (these can be added to any of your skills, such as diplomacy, leadership and knowledge), OR
  • A piece of equipment (armour, sword, shield, etc) that adds a bonus to your Defence or Attack


You gain experience each time you fully complete one of the following activities:

  • Attend a panel = 20 points
  • Attend a reading = 50 points
  • Get a book signed by author/editor = 40 points
  • Visit the Exhibitor’s Room = 50 points per day, max 150
  • Attend a book launch = 75 points
  • Meet someone new = 10 points
  • Defeat Boss Monster = 25 points

You can exchange 100 XP for an additional +1 to one of your existing pieces of equipment (ex: making a +2 plate armour to a +3)


You must gain a minimum of 100 experience points to begin challenging Boss Monsters to fight. There are three Boss Monsters (con-comm: Nicole Lavigne, Brandon Crilly & Evan May) and one Final Boss (Can-Con Co-Founder Farrell McGovern). You can challenge each Boss Monster only once per day. You cannot challenge Boss Monsters during panels or if they are on their way to a panel/event (they’ll let you know and ask you to see them later).

To fight, Boss Monster and Challenger both roll a d20 (Boss Monsters will have dice, or you can visit the character creation station). Add your roll and your total attack bonuses from equipment and compare to your opponent’s total defence (basic defence + equipment). If your total attack is higher than your opponent’s total defence, you hit. If only one person succeeds in their attack, they win. If both attack successfully, subtract your opponent’s total defence from your total attack to find how much you each succeed by. The one who succeeds by a higher value wins the fights. If you tie, you survived the encounter but failed to defeat the Boss Monster. If you lost the battle, attend a panel, reading, book launch or visit the dealer’s room to heal before you challenge a different Boss Monster. If you defeat the Boss Monster you gain 25 XP and will be given one random treasure.

Combat Example: Boss Monster has a basic defence of 15 and +5. You roll an attack of 19 and add +2 (sword) for a total of 21 and succeed by 1. The Boss Monster rolls a 17 with a +5 for an attack of 22, your basic defence is a 15 with a +1 (armour) for a total of 16. The Boss Monster succeeds in attack by 6. The Boss Monster wins.

skills preview

Skills Sheet

Science Workshops – $20 each!

Can*Con is pleased to announce two new science workshops this year! This is part of a programming pattern designed to help Ottawa writers have the tools they need to write great science fiction. Since 2012, we’ve had a strong science track with practicing Canadian scientists and science journalists.

For three out of the last four years, we’ve had Editors Guests of Honour from the science fiction field to expand the networks of aspiring scifi writers: Bundoran Press, Analog Science Fiction and Fact and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.

Those editors are looking for science-grounded science fiction because high-tech and visionary futures sell. Science fiction on other worlds and in strange parts of the universe sells. And you don’t need to have a science background to write great scifi.

This year, we’ve asked Science Guest of Honour Eric Choi, and Gillian Clinton, to talk about the space technology of today. Attendees to this workshop will leave with a good sense of how to portray (and research) space technology.

We’ve also asked water ecologist Nina Munteanu to give a workshop on what a writer would need to think about to realistically portray an underwater civilization in science fiction or fantasy. The literary metaphors and possibilities of including mythic symbolism in underwater worlds are too numerous to count. My own first sale to Asimov’s was a story set on the bottom of an extrasolar ocean and my first novel includes a lots of underwater scenes, because those are some of the safest places around once you leave the Earth. And don’t forget the possibilities of underwater settings in fantasy 🙂

Each of these science workshops are 2 hours long and only $20. Check them out and take advantage of these experts we’re bringing in! Register here!