Daily Illuminator

February 15, 2004: Charity Goths

Here's a really, really neat report from John Kovalic:


Irish convention-goers are known for their unbelievable generosity. They regularly raise sums of money unheard of at American of English cons. Mostly - I think - this is because the Irish nature is wondrous and giving to a fault. The fact that Irish cons ALSO hold their charity auctions in pubs might have a teeny something to do with this as well. Free-flowing Guinness, Murphy's and Jameson's certainly lubricate the proceedings (and probably ease the pain of some of the truly magnanimous donations).

Warpcon holds its annual charity auction at the Old Pub on the University College of Cork campus.

Last Saturday, something terribly spectacular (and terribly humbling) happened.

The first year I was at Warpcon, I donated three hand-drawn Chez Geek cards ("Irish Cons," "Guinness" and "Murphy's," I seem to recall: each gave the recipient some serious Slack points). These raised a few hundred dollars for children's charities. So this year, I put up three more items for the auction.

I talked with Steve Jackson about doing something special for it: we both agreed that the soon-to-press Chez Goth game would be the perfect vehicle for the donation. The winner of the item would be drawn by me to appear in the full, honest-to-goodness, in-print, sold everywhere around the world, accept-no-substitutes actual Chez Goth production run.

Well, the auction ran long and was (as always) a hoot. I bid early and won a super "Beware of the Dragon" plaque for $30. Then a Squidbob Squarepants T-shirt (the only T-shirt I brought to the con) went for a gob-smacking $312. I was stunned, to say the least.

But that was nothing compared to what was to come.

The competition for an appearance in Dork Tower 28 was incredible. A sea of hands went up, and when only one was remaining, the final bid was 750 Euros - about $1,000 at the current exchange rate (by the way, thank YOU, Washington D.C., for sending the dollar plummeting against pretty much every currency on the planet, including some that I believe are seashell-based).

Of course, $1,000 isn't an unheard-of sum for an Irish charity auction. Two years ago at Warpcon, a date with three student nurses went for 1,000 Euros (beating out the printers' bluelines of "Livin' La Vida Dorka" as the highest auction item). Unfortunately, the chap who bid on on them (rumor has it) slept through the date . . . and then his girlfriend found out about it.

I was always a little jealous of that (since it beat out the "Livin' La Vida Dorka" proofs). Still, truth be told, I would have been happy if the Chez Goth appearance went for 500 Euros, and that's what I had my fingers crossed for.

The Warpcon folks held it as their last item (which left me a tad trepidatious, since that meant that the bar had closed). But the bidding started . . . AT 500 Euros! Yes, someone screamed out "500" the moment the bidding started. And I grabbed a drink.

In a few seconds, it had passed 1,000 Euros ($1,280). Then it passed 1,500 Euros. Then 2,000 Euros . . . and hands were still in the air!

Bidding slowed at 2,700 Euros (over $3,000), with only two people were left in battle. Then one of the auctioneers asked me whether -- if they could hit the 3,000 Euro mark -- I'd do TWO cards (one for each bidder at 1,500 Euros each).

I wasn't in any position to call Steve Jackson to get his OK on this, but (knowing him) I was comfortably sure he'd go for that. So I agreed.

Then a third hand went up.

Quick consultation with the organizers: would I be willing to do a THIRD Chez Goth card for charity? Well, I figured, since there was a full day left of the con (meaning I could draw all of the winners before I flew back to London), and the worst Steve could do was throttle me . . . sure! Why not!

And THAT is how Chez Goth raised 4,500 Euros ($5,720) for Irish children's charities! Throwing in the Dork Tower appearance, nearly $7,000 of the auction's $15,000 total came from people generous (and mad) enough to bid on my little scribblings. Some people even said that the 4,500 Euros Chez Goth brought in was a record for Irish gaming charity auctions!

Blown away? I was absolutely petrified. Fortunately I didn't have to buy a drink all night long (of course, at Warpcon, I seldom do anyway), because I NEEDED some! The next day, all three winners were happy with the sketches I did of them. (They could choose what card they wanted to be on, and also got the original art for that card).

So a MILLION thanks (or at the very minimum, 4,500 thanks) go out to Howard Samuel (who will be on the "Graveyard Shift" card), Aurelie Trombetta (who will be on the "Faint Dramatically" card) and Emma Ryan (who will be on the "Can't Find Your Clothes" card).

A *lot* of kids in Ireland are going to be helped because of their generosity!

-- John Kovalic


Two things to add:

(1) The three winners' names will appear on the Chez Goth rulesheet, with as much of the story as we can fit into the space. (2) John's cover note to me said "Next year, let's see if we have a Munchkin appearance up." I'm good with that . . . hmm, and I even know what Munchkin supplement it will probably be. Cool.
-- Steve Jackson

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