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Dragonmeet 2015 – London ILEC

Dragonmeet 2015 was great fun. It’s safe to say that I had a great time. It’s a busy 1-day convention held in London, at the ILEC Conference Centre, usually on the first Saturday in December. It looks like it has outgrown the venue this year and will relocate to another location next year, though.

There were a lot of industry folk there and I had a great time trying to spot faces, and everyone was friendly – it’s billed as one of the UK’s friendliest conventions, and it is.

I’d decided to head down and help out on the Modiphius stand on the Saturday and help set it up. The night before, it began snowing (it took three buses and two hours to get home!). There was a severe weather warning. And a beer delivery truck crashed on the road leading to the station’s Calton Road entrance. Things did not look good.

I needn’t have worried. I was able to get to the station in plenty of time. I reserved a ticket on the 11:30am train down to King’s Cross, which would get me to London for 15:50. Just as well I reserved a seat – the train was very busy at that time of day. The North of England was covered in water on my journey down – my sympathies to anyone who got flooded. I know how bad it can be, all too well!

I was helping setup the stand at 5pm. The train was on time, and then I experienced what I’d been dreading – the Tube. Rush Hour seems to start at 4pm around Leicester Square and Covent Garden. As I found out on the Piccadilly Line. We were jammed in so tight that I couldn’t actually move my arms or shift position. It’s very claustrophobic, and I realised that I could either get out at Earl’s Court and walk to the hotel – or hop on the District Line to Brompton. I do like the fact that you can use contactless cards on the Tube!

Unfortunately my sense of direction was banjaxed, and I would up on the Eastbound District Line, going back the way I came. 2o minutes later I got to my hotel, which was right next door to the ILEC, the Hotel Lily. It worked out £5 a night cheaper than the IBIS Hotel. I could have actually walked from Earl’s Court – it only took 10 minutes when I did it on the way home!

The hotel was… well, combine Crossroads with Hostel, and you’ve pretty much got the Hotel Lily. Lifts so tiny that I thought I was going into cryo-sleep. Handprints on the walls could have been chocolate, mud, blood, or worse. Black mould on the tile grouting in the bathroom. The shower had little pressure and the water was largely lukewarm. Also the room hadn’t been properly cleaned in a while – the shower curtain hadn’t been cleaned. Breakfast was OK though. The bedding was at least clean, but the mattress was lumpy. There were also four beds in the room. I’ll not be back.

I spent 5 hours on Friday night hauling boxes of books around and getting the stall set up. We finally got things finished, and headed to the pub. Those of you who saw the stand probably don’t appreciate just how heavy some of those boxes are! I was feeling the burn when I returned to the hotel. I was so tired I was straight out like a light. I didn’t even notice the draught from the badly fit double-glazing and noise of the traffic outside.

I headed over to Dragonmeet 2015 for 9am, an hour before the trade hall opened. There was the inevitable snagging, but we were ready. The only issue we found is that we couldn’t find the Achtung! Cthulhu miniatures (which surfaced when we packed away – naturally!). And a half-dozen copies of Achtung! Cthulhu‘s Three Kings were nowhere to be found (again, we found them later). Lots of people were picking up their Thunderbirds board games too.

All in all, I found myself enjoying telling people about the games at Dragonmeet 2015. As resident know-it-all, I guess I kind of surprised myself. I had fun running Achtung! Cthulhu, using the Under the Gun scenario and managed to keep to the two-hour limit! Much fun was had. After that I headed back to the stand and hopefully made a difference – in between searching for Three Kings and the miniatures.

The aisle space at Dragonmeet 2015 had been widened – last year, the space was a real challenge to move around in. It meant less space for traders this year but felt much easier to move around in for the punters. Unless you were on the other side, that is! I had a quick look round the convention – there was a lot going on – rather than heading to the pub for lunch, then sat down to run the Mutant Chronicles. I’d hoped to run it with six players but only had 5 pre-gens so regrettably had to turn some away. We all enjoyed it though – not bad for a scenario written on the train down… Sadly, it looks like a bunch of GMs were no-shows – which is a pretty crappy thing to do. I’m also not sure what happened with the sign-ups – we suddenly got over-subscribed for some games, particularly Conan.

One thing I was particularly keen to do was actually keep my games to a minimum to experience Dragonmeet itself. I KIND of did this – but spent a lot of time working the stand! At the UKGE, I was always running games, and it took a toll. It’s probably just as well – the trade hall closed at 8, but we didn’t have everything packed away until 10pm. It was hard work, but I felt a strong sense of achievement at the end! We were first in, last out. There was even a game of Achtung! Cthulhu going right until the end.

All in all, Dragonmeet 2015 was fun. I came home laden with books (but forgot to pick up one, Terrors of the Secret War, DOH!) on Monday. It takes a couple of days to decompress from these! Now, still thinking about the UKGE in May..