Saturday, 7 December 2013

Dragonmeet 2013

I finally made it to Dragonmeet, despite still feeling under the weather. But I was well enough to struggle up to London for the day to visit a convention I have not been to for many a year. I used to be a semi-regular at Dragonmeet when I actually lived in London and had no kids, but these days my presence in Kensington for this event is rare. I think I've been to it only once since I moved to Brighton.

In previous years, I've tended to sign up for games I've not played before, but would like to try out. I've always found this is a good way to get a feel for how a game works. The other great thing about Dragonmeet is the number of creators, designers, authors and artists who are there. This includes not only RPG authors, but also some board games designers.

This year, I really wanted to check out some of the seminars, taking place in the council chambers at Kensington Town Hall, which look more like the venue for a UN summit meeting than any seminar room I've been to (other than the awesome conference chamber in the Centre de Conferences Kirchberg et Hemicycle in Luxembourg, which is more like the Senate chamber in Star Wars).

I attended a very interesting presentation by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson on the early years of Games Workshop, although they did concentrate more on GW in the 1970s and how they used Dungeons and Dragons as the thin end of their wedge into the UK retail market. But there were some very interesting insights into how Citadel Miniatures got off the ground, how the Games Workshop logo was designed, and why they wrote the Fighting Fantasy game books. I didn't realise that they had both sold out of GW entirely by 1992, and in the Q&A session afterwards they admitted that you can't control what your wayward children get up to after they grow up!

The other seminar I attended was the live podcast recording of the latest episode of Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, which you can hear here, and which has become one of my favourite podcasts at the moment. It was great to meet Robin and Ken in the flesh, although they both looked a tad jet lagged to me! It would not surprise me to hear they only got into the UK yesterday. I had a brief chat with them about their new Trail of Cthulhu campaign, Eternal Lies, which they tried to persuade me to buy, even thought I told them Kelvin would be running it using Call of Cthulhu!

Apart from buying some lurid pink dice for my daughter, I also picked up a few other items I've had my eye on, including the latest edition of The Unspeakable Oath (to whom I owe an article, but they sadly have to get in line behind people with deeper pockets), Ashen Stars, the science fiction setting for the Gumshoe rules, and Shotguns v Cthulhu, an anthology of short stories from Robin Laws' Stoneskin Press. I also picked up some Fudge dice for FATE.

I had an impulse buy too - the softback version of Maelstrom - Domesday. Gaming veterans will remember Maelstrom as a fantasy RPG with a Tudor English background which appeared in paperback format in the 1980s, much like Dragon Warriors, and which has since been reprinted. I spoke with Graham Bottley or Arion Games, who has used a successful Kickstarter to re-release the game using a new, Norman England setting (1086 is the default campaign date). It seems like an excellent idea, and Graham himself is a very bright and personable character who I suspect will go far. One of the problems with meeting games designers in person is that they sell you on their idea and you end up buying their game - that's why I have Darkwood and Dark Continent sitting on my shelves, both games I'd love to run at some point, and how Malcolm Craig talked me into buying Cold City.

We also played a few board games which were left conveniently set up for punters to just sit down and play. And it was great to meet up with a few old friends I've not seen in a while, including Paco of GMS Magazine, and Charlie, whom I used to play Exalted and Vampire with back in 2004-06. A great day out, and if I can make the time (a very big 'if' these days), I will try to go again next year.

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