Meet your U-Con 2020 ConChair: Fred Paffhausen

Tell us a little about yourself:

I’m the only person to have ever beaten the Kobayashi Maru scenario twice using time travel. I’ve made the Kessel Run in less than eight parsecs; it turns out it’s easy if you bend the laws of physics and make two work holes. Under my costumed secret identity (Legacy), I’ve fought super villains in major metropolitan centers, distant planets, and the past. I’ve traveled through time and space in an old, blue police box. Oh, and I lie outrageously in convention bios.

My name’s Fred Paffhausen. I’m the Chair of U-Con 2020. By day, I work on grant financial administration, spending my time ensuring that the researchers I support have the resources they need to do science. In my spare time, I read (science fiction and urban fantasy), I cook, and I game. I own far more books than I have time to read. I have a vast store of random trivial knowledge, which is why I can never remember which pocket I put my keys in….

Why did you run for ConChair?

Someone had to.

No seriously, Why?

As an attendee, I was struck by how smoothly and well-organized everything was at U-Con. I had some free time during my second or third year, so I volunteered. I helped wrangle the Games Library for a few years, then I did some event running. After that, I was invited to join ConCom, and I was asked to schedule RPGs for two successive years. Last year, I oversaw scheduling of all the events.

Initially, I was amazed at how dedicated people were to making this little con go. Then, I became one of them. I became friends with many of the folks who were volunteers then, and working on the Con became a way to hang around with my friends and do things that I wanted to do.

Being Chair means I can give back to U-Con and help make the con better and better. Last year’s con was incredible, but there are always lessons to be learned and things we can do better.

As a policy wonk, that’s one of the things I love about working on cons–you can easily apply the lessons learned over prior years and make things better. What did you like about previous U-Cons?

What did you like about previous U-Cons?

My favorite U-Con memories are sitting around a table with friends or strangers and having a great time playing games. Some of the most unforgettable gaming experiences of my life were at U-Con.

There’s also something deeply satisfying about watching people having a great time at an event that you spent months helping to plan. That makes the hard work worth it.What do you hope to improve with U-Con 2020?

What do you hope to improve with U-Con 2020?

Past chairs have done a fantastic job in making U-Con diverse, tolerant, welcoming, and inclusive. I think we’ve done great work, but we can do more. Figuring out what and how is something I plan to work on as Chair, and I welcome any feedback or ideas on what we can do better. The Contact Us link at the bottom is a great way to send that along.

Do you have any pet projects you’d like to see accomplished at U-Con 2020?

Yes. Past chairs have done a great job in getting the documentation of policies and processes done from an operations standpoint. I’d like to see these documents improved on as we put together this con. That way, we have written down the critically important operations matters at con and the equally important scheduling and logistics tasks that take place before the Con.

What’s your favorite game?

I play a lot of co-operative games. The three most played are some combo of Sentinels of the Multiverse, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, and Mansions of Madness Second Edition. To break the tie, I’ll go with the one I played most recently, Mansions of Madness. It’s a clever spin on the Lovecraft mythos, but the companion app basically runs most of the mechanics (you place things you’re told to place), and the app allows for replay of scenarios because it’s got different paths and endings. That said, it’s a Lovecraft mythos game. Easy, it’s not. But, if you want a challenge, it’s a blast.

Sentinels or Harry Potter are a lot more forgiving because you can decide what villians you’ll fight, so you can ramp up or down the difficulty as needed. Thanks to trial and error, we have some house rules to make HP a bit easier.

At U-Con, I mostly play RPGs because, well, I have a whole lot more opportunities to play board games than I do RPGs, which is a shame because I *love* a good RPG. 

What is your favorite food to make?

Just one? I’m a fairly good, ambitious baker. When I can find the time, bagels or croissants are next on my project list, especially now that I seem to have gotten the hang of macarons. Savory-wise, probably risotto. There’s something deeply satisfying and strangely therapeutic about a recipe where all you can do for 20-25 minutes is stand at the stove and stir, particularly if you can get a good playlist going.

Boxers or Basenjis?

Maine Coons?