Thursday, 26 April 2018

Taking in-game conflict personally

Fine Crosshairs by GDJPlayers shouldn’t take in-character events so personally. I think, however, that this can’t be avoided, especially when it’s player-versus-player. If a random GM NPC gets the better of a player character then the player generally accepts that as failure against an element of the game (unless of course, the GM is playing a Mary/Gary Sue GMPC, but that’s a different matter entirely). But if another player gets the better of them then things can get pretty colourful.

I was running a Star Wars game many moons ago in which a player created a character working against the other players, an Imperial spy feeding information back to his superiors. He had to make rolls to make sure he sent this information out without being discovered but I did not tell him if he failed or not. In fact, I was rolling secretly for the other players and once they beat his roll I let them know, secretly, what he was up to. It was up to them to decide whether to confront him or feed him false information. In short order they set him up, confronted him and then, after a failed escape attempt on his part, they dealt with him. One dead traitor PC and two very satisfied PCs.

The player in question wasn’t happy about being found out and killed so quickly – even though it was him that wanted to create a PC to work against the players and make himself an enemy – and it made it even worse in the fact that he had been found out and stopped not by an NPC but the other players. He quickly created a new character. In the very next game, the first chance he got, he dropped the other players into trouble and tried to kill them. For no reason. At all. There was nothing about the character that would justify such an action, and he put all his dice into combat skills to make him incredibly tough to beat. He simply created a combat-heavy PC so that he could kill the other PCs for stopping his previous character from doing his nefarious deeds.

I can understand players being upset with other players if they obstruct, kill, loot and otherwise annoy their PC simply to be annoying. God knows I’ve seen enough of that at the gaming table. But some people take it too far, take it very personally even if the events and actions in the game are justified based on decisions and actions, and they let it colour their perception of the game for a long time. In fact, the games with this player broke down very quickly after his assassination attempt because no matter what characters they played or what game they played in they simply couldn’t trust him not to make an attempt on their lives at some point. Their in-game decisions weren’t based on the characters they were playing but on what kind of mood this particular player was in. That’s not a game, that’s a joke.

Keeping the feelings of the player separate from the player character is a definite in my book. You can get emotionally involved with the PC, that’s for sure, but when the game is over then the game is over, and harbouring resentment against other players isn’t the way to go. If the player is being a total dick and is simply out to get you then that’s a justified complaint but it should still be dealt with outside the game. ‘Hey, mate, I’m not really enjoying that and it’s kind of ruining the game for me. Can you not?’ It’s as simple as that. But getting revenge for some imagined slight by plotting and scheming and trying to kill a PC that another player may have spent months investing their time in, and in turn derailing the game to pursue personal vendettas – that’s not great.

Just remember, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary it’s not personal, it’s roleplaying. And if you set yourself up as the bad guy, working against the rest of the group, don’t be surprised if they stick a targeting signal transmitter in your backpack and then bomb you from orbit.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Interview - Scott Wainwright and the Brutality Skirmish Wargame

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Say hello to Scott Wainwright, the creator of the popular skirmish wargame 'Brutality, an excellent tabletop skirmish game and, better yet, it's completely free!

'So What Is Brutality?

- Use any scale models from any game
- Create your own stats
- Play with points, or not!
- Alternating activation
- Skirmish Wargame with RPG-lite aspects
- Campaign System
- A setting that allows you to bring your favorite characters together
- A model’s facing matters and different assault tactics get different bonuses!
- Free rules and no models to buy! What could be easier?'

I caught up with Scott and asked him a few questions about the game and the history behind it.

Welcome to Farsight Blogger! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into the tabletop hobby.

Hi Jon! I am a weekly 40k author over at BoLS who goes by the name Pimpcron. I was looking to find a new hobby about ten years ago and stumbled across the 5th edition Warhammer 40,000 starter and it caught my eye. I got talking to the store owner and learned that they had a weekly group that met and I ended up joining that. My first army was purple and gold Necrons, which my friends called "The Pimpcrons" which I  adopted as a pen name.

'Brutality' is a great free wargame as it enables players to bring their own miniatures to the table, no matter the scale or genre. What was the genesis of this idea?

Kickstarter. Haha. Over the years, my friends and I had Kickstarted so many miniature wargames and never played them much. I had boxes of unused minis in my closet, and felt really bad about not being able to use them. Given that I have been making board games, card games, and RPGs my entire life, I decided to make a game that would plausibly allow me to bring any characters from any universe I wish. I have made dozens of warbands and some of them are from my childhood such as Star Trek, Thundercats, Ninja Turtles, etc. I made this game for my own use with no intention of releasing it to the public because I am an avid solo gamer. But after having several friends help play test it, they all said that I should release it so that other people could play it as well. And so, two years of play testing and revisions later, we officially released the rule set in the Fall of 2017.

It was 'two years in the making' before release; what was your design process? How did you mold the final product?

At the start, I listed the elements that were most important to me in a game.

The choice to make it a skirmish game was two fold: As much as I like mass-battle games such as Warhammer or Kings of War, I wanted to be able to make an army without painting hundreds of models. Brutality usually uses 5-10 models per side. The other reason was that I have a love for tactics and strategy. I have always felt like skirmish games make every action count more due to the small number of components. If you lose a soldier in a mass-battle game, it's no big deal. But if he makes up 20% of your army, that is a big impact.

I also wanted to add RPG-lite elements to it in order give it another layer of customization and a narrative feel. Campaign games are where this game really shines because your characters slowly lose their mind as they die time and time again and it can lead to some really heart breaking moments. My very favorite character recently went crazy and wandered off in our store campaign. He will be coming back as a wandering monster in the future, confused and angry. Other players have a Knight who have became a pacifist due to PTSD, or a Sniper who has become dead inside and unable to pray at altars anymore. These models aren't useless, but you have to work around their mental issues.

All of our missions are designed around narrative encounters that warbands would stumble into while exploring the Ether Realm. So it makes perfect sense that any two warbands might have to set aside their differences in order to stop a rampaging behemoth. Or in order to gain Ishtar's favor, one warband decides to go on a killing spree in a populated area while the other side wants to stop them.

Another important part for me was adding as much depth to the rules and options as possible, while making the options balanced and generic enough that it could fit any genre. Two players could potentially create identical Support characters, give them the same perks, and the exact same Powers. One is a technomage that harnesses nano-tech to produce barriers of nanites to create cover, while the other is a Woodland Elf who forces the ground to jut up in front of him to stop oncoming fire. But of course with several hundred combinations of character creation, you would have to purposefully try to create two identical characters.

Game design has always been a passion of mine, so creating the initial game rules took only a couple months. The rest of that two years was play testing, play testing, play testing. Balance is paramount to me in a game and countless tweaks and changes have been made over time to make sure both players have an equal chance of claiming victory. I wanted choices (and a bit of luck) to determine winners.

What do you feel makes this game unique from other wargames?

For starters, everything is free. Free rules, free supplements, and you use your own models. I'm not selling anything, I just want people to enjoy the game.

The custom character creation is a big difference from the norm. It is more than just equipment or weapons; you can cross genres and franchises. You aren't narrowed to a certain couple factions, your imagination can go wild. After playing a "big name" game like Warhammer for so long, I have found immense joy in finding all manner of 3rd party miniature sites to make warbands with. I feel like you can really own your army versus being told what they are like. But like everything in Brutality Skirmish Wargame, if choosing an already established faction is your thing, we have over a dozen major factions in the fluff to choose from; each with their own motivations and alliances.

My favorite part of tabletop gaming is when the dice tell a story, which is why I added the Wound Charts. You don't just lose Health when you are injured, there are other effects depending on where you were hit. A Head Injury involves your Willpower being deduced, causing the use of Powers to be more difficult and upping your chances of being Confused. Just got yourself a Leg Wound? Enjoy your diminished movement and running distances until you can get that healed up.

The setting is really interesting. How did that come about, and what came first, the setting or the rules?

The idea of an ancient belief-fueled God hatching a secret plan to regain power has been an idea I have toyed with for years. I have always enjoyed reading about mythical characters and enjoyed in how brutal they were. People back then didn't mess around apparently.

Another aspect to this was the idea that I never liked about nearly all other games: Your hero dies, but is somehow back next week to fight again. Well did he die or didn't he? I liked the idea of every in-game death being real and having lasting effects on your character's psyche. Nobody can kill or be murdered over and over again without mental problems. Once I established that I wanted death to be a temporary but horrifying element of this setting, the rest kind of wrote itself. If you witnessed brutal violence, bloody treachery, and a your own murder countless times, what kind of mess would you be psychologically? This is a very fun game but the setting is quite dark.

After figuring this out, I set about making the rules with traumatic stress being a key element.

There is a supplement out for it, 'Lands of the Ether Realm Book 1'. What can players expect in this, and is this the first of many?

I created a huge, intricate map to go along with this game, and I wanted to flesh out the people, animals, plants and factions that live in these different areas. Lands of the Ether Realm Book 1 covers just one region in the Land of Ishtar called The Wastes which is home to four large and distinct biomes. Here you will find backstory to each area, along with campaign events and items you can find by exploring them. On the last page is a special mission that pertains to a particular bloody pastime in a settlement called Redcamp which is a fun diversion from senseless killing.

I have mapped out roughly a dozen different zones that will be made into Realm Books like this one. This supplement is the first of many, and absolutely free.

What other kinds of support will Brutality receive in the future?

I have tons of secret plans for this game! I can't disclose them all, but I would love to have authors make an anthology of short stories outlining the horror of living in the Ether Realm. The supplement Realm Book 2 is almost finished. Eventually we will be having a hardback rulebook printed (but the rules will remain free online). A token and template set is also on the horizon (but not required to play). So, I truly love this game and our community is growing by the day. I have a lot planned for this, and hope people enjoy it.

The rules, supplements, videos, photos, and our community can be found on Facebook or people who don't Facebook can reach me at brutalityskirmishwargame (at) gmail.com for get the rules.

This has been fun Jon, thanks for your time!

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd Edition - 'The Inn of Lost Hope' available now!

I'm happy to announce that my second official adventure for the Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd Edition RPG is now available!

'The old Inn stands derelict and rotting. But within is rumoured to lie a great treasure, stolen from dying adventurers by an unscrupulous landlord. Dare you enter to try and find it?

This new self-contained adventure for Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd Ed describes the Inn and it's terrible denizens and can be dropped into almost any AFF Campaign with ease.'

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG: 'The Inn of Lost Hope'

My second official Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG adventure 'The Inn of Lost Hope' is being finalised and will be available next week!

I love this part - seeing it laid out and tweaked ready for publication is a great feeling, and this one is especially nice because I fully illustrated it, too. I know that I did a couple of drawings for my previous adventure 'The Floating Dungeon of Varrak Aslur' but I've gone the full hog with this one.

Saying that, I'm even more excited for this one than I was for the first one! It's a much more involved story with plenty of action and it has a hint of horror. My next adventure, 'The Crooked King's Cup', is much larger and I'm going to detail a new town for players to use as an ongoing location. That's a long way from completion, and the drawings for that one are going to take me a very long time.

I'm hoping for a Monday release, but we'll see. Should be fun!

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Interview - Kevin Watson of Dark Naga Adventures

Dark Naga Adventures have been giving us entertaining adventures for our RPG needs since 2016 - 'The Lost Temple of Forgotten Evil', 'The Buried Zikurat', 'The City of Talos', 'Confronting Hastur', and soon 'Carcosa'.

I threw a few questions at Kevin Watson, the owner of Dark Naga Adventures, to find out more.

Welcome to Farsight Blogger! Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Kevin Watson, the owner of Dark Naga Adventures. I’m 48 and have been gaming since I was 10. I live in Memphis TN, with my wife and a pair of dogs.

What got you into the wonderful world of tabletop gaming?

It was something creative some of my school friends wanted to explore. We ended up in a rotation where every other weekend we were at one of our four houses from the close of school Friday until after lunch Sunday, pretty much playing the whole time.

What made you start Dark Naga Adventures?

It was the intersection of the ideas I had been creating since I started DM’ing at 11, the OGL, an edition I wanted to write for, and the publishing and crowdfunding platforms necessary to execute the
ideas. Publishing in the TSR era was nearly impossible. Mostly due to the lack of resources and distribution. The first editions under the OGL didn’t appeal to me due to more rules complexity than I enjoy. I ran games, but I didn’t want to write for them. When the fifth edition was published, everything converged. Kickstarter and OneBookShelf solved the remaining missing pieces: resources and distribution platform.

You've got four adventures already out there and a fifth,'Carcosa’, due soon. What are your design processes?

I start with an idea, outline the idea, and let the elements percolate in my brain for a while. Then I start filling in the outline and playtest until I have a complete draft. I massage the draft with my content editor until it is clean with respect to the levels of editing that he manages for me. Once that is reached, it is time to start the Kickstarter. Usually, by this point, I have commissioned and received
the maps, and have a vague idea for art. During the Kickstarter funding period, I work with my copy editor to clean up the draft with respect to the levels of editing that he manages, and I commission the art.

It is very important to me that the draft is in really good shape from a creative perspective (content editors help with clarity and logic of a document). This removes a big wild card from the process before backers ever pledge on the project. It seems so many projects spin out of control because they run the Kickstarter before they have a workable draft, and the myriad of things coming at them after the funding period ends distract them from making solid progress. To help manage this risk, I do things in a different order. It makes me more comfortable and that seems to spread to backers as well.

What makes Dark Naga Adventures stand out from the rest?

I try to write the adventures I don’t see in the market today. Personally, I am tired of 'combat, combat, skill challenge, combat, done' linear adventures. I love the open, sandbox adventures from the TSR era of Dungeons and Dragons. I write nonlinear adventures and most conflicts can be solved with or without violence. In most cases, this decision can be made for each encounter/conflict.

You release your adventures for 5e, Pathfinder and OSR games. Do you have any plans for other systems? What is it that attracts you to the D20?

I dropped Pathfinder from the conversions after DNH2 – The Buried Zikurat, the numbers just weren’t there. I suspect the lack of PFS compatibility was a factor. I keep coming back to the d20 games because they feel like home. I don’t find the fifth edition to be a hindrance to an exploration or interaction heavy session. I don’t feel any system prohibits roleplay. I know many do see certain rulesets favor or inhibit roleplay. I just don’t see it. Maybe I’m missing something. I’m open to converting to other systems. I just don’t know where the interest lies.

Are there any plans for adventures in other genres, such as horror or sci-fi?

I have an idea that I plan to develop for Top Secret: New World Order, and an eight-part series for Metamorphosis Alpha. The Top Secret idea is based on something that happened to a school I worked for, mixed with some current trends. The Metamorphosis Alpha idea involves a different generational ship, with a different mishap, and a series of adventures that take place over four generation of party members as the ship becomes more and more troubled from the mishap and the subsequent damage. Each stage of decay will be explored over a pair of adventures. Early successes and failures could impact later generation conflicts.

What else can we expect to see from Dark Naga Adventures in the future?

When the Haunting of Hastur series is completed, I am developing a fifteen-part complete campaign, one that might include some separate setting material. It takes the party members to a previously unknown continent for the bulk of their progression from level 1 to level 20.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Elite: Dangerous Roleplaying Game

Quickstart cover

…where the police shoot on sight, entire systems are overrun with space pirates, and money is the only thing that talks.  Gear up with high tech equipment to overcome heavily armoured combat drones, elite corporate assassins, and over-gunned soldiers of the interstellar powers.'

Er... yeah, okay then.

The new Elite: Dangerous Roleplaying Game has released a whole load of free stuff for you to download and have a play with, to make sure that this system is for you. There's a free adventure with the basics of the rules, some story hooks, ship and character sheets, and some game maps and resources. That's quite a haul, and it gives an excellent idea of what the game is all about.

Just to start me off, I downloaded the quickstart adventure and I like what I see, especially the art style and the layout. I've not played the new Elite: Dangerous yet; the last time I played Elite was on the Spectrum 128+ (with built-in datacorder!) and then on the Amiga 500 (with the 1MB upgrade!) so that's a while ago. I've followed the development of the new Elite but lack the time to give it the attention it deserves, even though I have it here for the PS4 still in it's shrinkwrap. The videos I've seen and the love people have for it convinces me that this is a game for me.

From the quickstart PDF
The layout is great and the artwork is really good. There's a good solid sci-fi adventure feel to it and the system - roll a D10, add a skill score and beat a target number - looks like it'll work pretty well. There are no full character rules in this, but there's plenty to give you a more than decent insight as to how the system works, both with characters and the starships that dominate the computer game.

I've yet to try the adventure but the quickstart tells me it's something for me to seriously consider getting hold of. In the adventure you get the adventure 'The Worst Intentions' with four pre-generated characters including their ships and equipment. You get partial rules for personal combat, spaceship combat and ground combat. However, you don't get character and adventure creation rules, spaceship modification rules, full equipment lists, and the full combat rules.

'The players begin as police detectives for the independent Asellus Primus system.  Each player has a Viper Spaceship, a police interdiction and combat ship used to enforce law in the sector.  Their ships also contain a special vehicle called a Surface Reconnaissance Vehicle (SRV) which is a little like a super advanced moon buggy.  The SRV is designed to be used on any planet, even those without atmosphere.  It is basically the player’s ‘police car’.

Good luck Commanders and enjoy!'

Sounds like fun to me.

From the quickstart PDF

Sunday, 15 April 2018

On January 28th 2012 I ran my own convention - Gamma Con.

It was a really good day and went a whole lot better than I expected. I expected about 40 people through the door and got near 100, and I had local games designers and a gaming store set up and sell and demo games. I even had a little support from Cubicle 7 and we helped raise money for Help for Heroes. Everyone seemed to have fun and the day went by pretty quickly for me.

I learned quite a lot from the experience. First and foremost, organising a convention is a difficult exercise but when things fall into place it can be very rewarding. There are all kinds of levels of stress, don’t get me wrong; when a GM calls you up to let you know that he’s not coming to run his sci-fi game five minutes after the doors have opened to the public, that’s stressful. When you get to the venue and realise that your table plan has been scuppered due to incorrect measurements, that’s stressful. But these moments are fleeting and you’ll be glad when supportive fellow gamers help out. People aren’t going to stand there and let you run around like a headless chicken whilst shaking their heads with disgust as you try and sort out the problem. They’re going to muck in and help shift tables, make suggestions. It all works out and, even though there was some last minute jumping around, the room was ready and the doors opened on time. Everyone was understanding and helpful. It was my first convention, there were bound to be some teething problems.

It was the build-up to the convention that was the hard work. My wife Lisa and I started in earnest in August the previous year and kicked the whole thing off by viewing the local venues and comparing costs. This was a bit of a tricky moment; the closer the venue was to the city centre and areas of public transport the more expensive it was, and the places we found further out were indeed cheaper but much more difficult to get to. As a first convention it’s a difficult choice to make as we could spend hundreds of pounds on a top-notch location and find that hardly anyone attends. We weren’t in this to make profit, but then I didn’t fancy paying for this out of my own pocket.

In the end we were very lucky. We found a church hall two minutes’ walk from the city centre and one minute’s walk from both the train station and the bus station, and there was ample car parks right on the doorstep. It was almost perfect. It was a great location and at a decent price, but a little smaller than I wanted.

There was also the problem with clashing with other conventions. I had made sure that I wasn’t clashing with any other small conventions or events in the area but, due to the fact that I could only get the hall on one particular weekend, I couldn’t help but clash with a big convention that was being held in the south of England. What was on my side was the fact that I was catering not only to RPGs but also to wargames, cardgames and boardgames. The convention in the south was primarily RPGs, so as far as I was concerned I was okay.

Then I began to send out the first notifications that I was putting on a convention. Local gaming groups, clubs and stores were informed and I invited gaming stores to come and show their wares. I never expected the stores to be too keen as it was a first convention and it may not have been worth their while. This initial notification was to start a buzz, send the word around the local gaming community. It was at this point that I realised that the gaming community was a hell of a lot larger than I realised! There were plenty of people interested and, even though some of them never turned up on the day, they were very keen and that no doubt helped put the word around.

The intention here was word of mouth, the news that there was a gaming convention on spreading from group to group, club to club. I posted on their message boards, sent messages to the webmasters, made sure they had links to the websites I needed them to look at, primarily the Gamma Con website that Lisa had built and the Facebook event page where they could get updates on the convention. After contacting Dave McAlister at UK Roleplayers I got my own message forum and entry onto the convention calendar. Then, I contacted Andy Hopwood and Kyle Daniel, two guys I had met in my shop days, and invited them to demo their games, which they accepted. Then I contacted the local gaming stores and, surprisingly, was turned down by one (after a long time of indecision), ignored by three others and had my invitation accepted by only one, Spirit Games of Burton-on-Trent. I was a little surprised at this as, with the economy as it is, the first thing I thought shops would need is exposure. For anyone demoing and selling their wares there was a small table hire fee.

Next, I needed to make sure that attendees would have something to play on the day. I managed to secure four GMs to run games (one of which cancelled before the event, the other cancelled on the day) and two local wargaming groups agreed to come on the day and set up tables. Anyone bringing these huge fold-out terrain tables was granted free admission on the proviso that they allowed other gamers and members of the public to game on their table. In this regard my thanks go out to Ed for his huge Warhammer 40K tables, Dragon Art Models for their table and Chase Wargamers for their Flames of War table. I also made sure there were a couple of smaller tables available for spur-of-the-moment games, and that was the hall pretty much set up.

Now that I had an idea of what was going to be there I then decided on a price of entry. I settled on £3.00 as it was low enough to be small change as any higher may have made the attendees feel that they weren’t getting their money’s worth. I just needed enough to cover the hall and event insurance costs, and with the trader’s table hire covering a third of that cost already I just needed a decent turnout to cover the rest. Regardless, I made sure I had enough personal money to cover the costs in the event that something went wrong or the day failed miserably. It would have pained me to pay out of my own pocket, but that’s the risk you take.

With three months to go I began the advertising. A4 posters, A5 flyers, all very cheaply done; I formatted it all on my home PC and printed them out at work and my local library, so paid virtually nothing for it. I posted the flyers and a couple of copies of the posters to local stores, schools, colleges and the library. Then I canvassed the local shops and my poster appeared in the windows of cafes, newsagents, supermarkets and even my local hairdressers. With permission I left small piles of flyers in pubs and coffee shops. I then got in touch with the local paper and, as the event was helping to raise money for the charity Help for Heroes, I got a free write-up. I hassled the primary RPG publishers in the country and got some support from Cubicle 7 in the form of a free adventure for me to run for Starblazer Adventures (which, sadly, the sci-fi GM was going to have a look at but never turned up), and I got a copy of Starblazer Adventures to raffle off for the charity. Jedi News were also on hand to rent a table and push their website and some RPG and collectible goodies and gave us some publicity, and Mark took care of the Help for Heroes requirements.

For all their efforts, everyone trading or contributing had free exposure on our website, Facebook event page and were included on message board updates. This meant that their table hire fee also paid for roughly three months of free advertising across the internet. That was a pretty good deal for them.

Over the weeks and months leading up to the convention Lisa and I simply made sure that Gamma Con’s profile was kept up. Message board and Facebook updates, messages to potential attendees, answering queries and concerns quickly and efficiently. Throughout all of this I was still only expecting around 40 attendees.

It was great to see our Gamma Con posters up in shop windows, and see our name crop up on websites. There was some concern about us clashing with the convention in the South, and this was pointed out to me on our UK Roleplayers message board which, to be honest, I felt was a little unfair. The other convention was an established multi-day event that catered for roleplayers and our event was for all kinds of gamers and as a very small and very new convention there was no way we were going to compete or even affect a show on the other side of the country. I didn’t choose the date on purpose, it wasn’t a choice but a lack of options. Regardless, this is something for me to bear in mind in the future if I arrange another one.

On top of all this we bought extras and supplies; an 8 foot by 2 foot GAMMA CON banner to go up outside the building, some sticky paper wristbands for attendees to get in and out, paper, pens and pencils, and bumbags for the money taken on the door.

The closer I got to the date the more I pushed the event, conscious of the fact that I only had a few weeks left to get the advertising in. In the last week I had a lot of messages from potential attendees and people wanting to bring their games and represent their clubs.

During this last week I secured another gaming table from another local wargaming club and a GM offered his services to playtest his own game. I also received a couple of cancellations, which was a worry, and then a few messages of apology and regret for not being able to attend. It was at this point, the last week before the event, that I started to get worried. With a few days to go I made sure the traders were aware of arrival times, setting up and everything else they might need to get them through the day.

The day before Gamma Con I got the keys to the hall from the church, made sure I was fully aware of fire exits, light switches and alarms, and tried to get an early night.

We were up very early the next day. My mate Andy picked me up at 08:00 so that we could transport the gear and we got to the venue nice and early. The first traders turned up at 09:00 and we began to set up and it was then the first problem reared its head. I had measured the tables for the traders and decided on how the tables were to be set up in the hall. Unfortunately, the measurements supplied to me were incorrect so the venue wasn’t as long as it appeared on paper. With some quick changes, some help from the traders and some creative positioning we were set to go.

The doors opened at 10:00 and, five minutes later, the second problem manifested. I received a phone call from the GM who had agreed to run a sci-fi game telling me he couldn’t make it as something had come up. There was no other explanation other than that and there was nothing I could do, so instead of dwelling on it I just let it go and declared the table I had earmarked for him as free to use. This turned out to be a good call and quite a few gamers used the table for a multitude of games.

The attendees arrived. In fact, a lot of attendees. It was a mixture of ages and as the day went on they would casually come and go. Going by takings at the door there were at least 100 people who attended on the day and one of the GMs said that he was sure there were more. In the end we made enough money to cover all our expenses and had some left over to sink into the next convention.

The games went well. The arranged RPGs were enjoyed and then any straggling players set up their own games. The demos were popular, the wargaming tables were always attended. There were a couple of people whose table was sometimes empty but I had to remember that I could point newly arriving attendees to certain tables – I spent most of my time on the door - but couldn’t make them take part in anything. I just had to realise that there were certain things that were out of my control.

Other than that the day went really well. The atmosphere was good, people had fun, the games flowed and the community came together just as I had wanted it to. I chatted with plenty of people and got to know new gamers, I met up with people I’d not seen in a long time, and helped introduce new blood to the hobby. The winner of the Starblazer Adventures book was very pleased with his prize, and on every table there were games, both organised and improvised, and people having fun. It was somewhat sad when the day ended at 17:00, but everyone went away happy and some went to the pub to carry on gaming. By 20:00 I was in the pub myself for an after-show celebratory drink.

What did I take away from all this? What did I learn?

- Organising a convention location and date is pretty taxing but the hard work is convincing people that they want to be there.
- You can’t plan for everything and constant improvisation is the norm.
- Working on a convention for the better part of four months takes a lot of time and sometimes you may feel that your life is being dominated by it, but it is worth it.
- No matter what people tell you, organising this kind of thing is a lot of hard work.
- Only plan for what you can foresee.
- Checklists rule!
- There’s no such thing as too much advertising.
- Don’t do it all alone, have someone alongside you to help and advise. In my case I had my wonderful wife Lisa to help me through it all.
- That given enough attention and work, organising and hosting a successful convention can be the most rewarding and fulfilling thing you can do for the gaming community.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Cubicle 7 Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay image

Did I ever tell you just how excited I am about the new version of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay due out soon? I'm not sure I did.

Cubicle 7 have just updated their Facebook header with this:

Click for a higher resolution image
It's a fantastic image and really grabs the craziness of the Old World. If this is the artistic direction they're going in with this then I think we're in for some fantastic atmosphere. The two images they released last  year were excellent and work really well as covers, but it's the overall art choices I can't wait to see.

But what I'm really waiting on are the rules. I really want to see what they've done with the rules!

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

My roleplaying genesis

Netherstowe School, where I
was first corrupted.
This photo was taken while I was accompanying my son to a swimming lesson at the secondary school I used to attend in the 1980s. The set of windows on the ground floor tucked into the corner is Room 1A; well, it was back then, I have no ideas what it is now.

I went to Netherstowe Comprehensive School from 1982 to 1987. It wasn't the greatest time of my life and nor was it the worst as I simply kind of existed there, I never got involved in any of the groups and I pretty much kept myself to myself. School came and went.

I was already into fantasy and science fiction before I came here and it was something that I did on my own. I never had a solid circle of friends and those I did know weren't really into the same things that I was. I met my best friend Mark in 1983 and we soon hit it off with our shared love of Star Wars.

But in 1984 I was invited to Room 1A at the school to take part in 'Dungeons & Dragons' club. And for the first time ever I mixed with like-minded people who wanted to use their imaginations and indulge in the stranger things in life.

And for the first time, I actually felt comfortable. I didn't mind talking about what it was I enjoyed doing and I shared my love of all things strange and fantastical. I never felt awkward and I never felt like I needed to hide my passions. I felt liberated, and a great sense of relief washed over me; I wasn't alone.

It was all thanks to this room. I've not stood here, on the grounds of the school, for more than 3 decades. Seeing the room and remembering what happened in there hit me pretty hard and I started laughing as the memories washed over me.

A couple of people looked at me like I was crazy. But I didn't care.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

The UK Games Expo 2018

From the 1st to the 3rd of June I'll be attending the UK Games Expo, my yearly pilgrimage to the biggest tabletop gaming convention and trade show in the United Kingdom.

Held in the NEC and Hilton Hotels, Birmingham, the show builds year after year and is a major date in the calender of tabletop gamers and firms across Europe and the world. There's an average 20% increase in attendance year by year.

I caught up with Michael Pearson of the UKGE to find out what's in store this year.

'This year on the lake area we have two camps - one is a Viking camp and the other a Tolkien camp - complete with wolves (two of which can be petted!).

There are lots of highlights... we are headed to fill two halls in the NEC this year, with a considerable increase in exhibitors. Everything else gets bigger, partly because people see that their genre of exhibitor is attending, so they come along.

We already have 157 games/products submitted for our awards, well ahead of last year, our Design Track of events is growing - supporting game makers to create their games. We have the Wyverns Lair event again - like Dragon's Den for games.'

It all sounds great, and I'm really looking forward to attending this year. There's always so much to do and see that one day is never enough.