Bill Heron: Gaming in Edinburgh and other RPG stuff
  
  
  
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Dragonmeet

Taking a breather!

It’s almost the end of summer here in Edinburgh. The leaves are already coming off the trees, and the Festival is finally ending. After a rotten personal start to the year, things have – by and large – sorted themselves out.

I’ve found it necessary to de-clutter, and got rid of some of my gaming collection earlier in the year. Thankfully, to people who will use them I hope. In a strange twist of fate this led indirectly to me being interviewed for a piece on RPG collecting, which I hope to see soon online.

ORC Edinburgh goes from strength-to-strength, although I find little time to organise things as much as I did. I’ve now lost count of the number of GMs running games. I am sticking to running both the Mutant Chronicles and Achtung! Cthulhu games. I’ve also set up some of the members as Moderators. Games Day was a great success with around 30 gamers turning up to play. We hope to repeat it again at some point but it’s not something I want to organise alone.

I went down to the Games Expo again this year. had a lot of fun working on the Modiphius stand, although I didn’t get to demo any Achtung! Cthulhu. It was far more focused on board games this year, with only a few RPG companies in attendance. I did get the chance to snag a slipcase of 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu there. I could have got it signed but it completely slipped my mind. AUGH!

I’ve pretty much gone off board and wargames for the time being. I don’t have enough space in the flat to store them, or to paint and assemble minis. I’m working longer hours and the freelance work I do eats up a lot of my time (but I love doing it).

I’m largely resigned to the fact that my days of being able to play games during the week are now over. Work has become pretty challenging, so I’m never really bored. Getting my work/life balance sorted has been a bit of a tightrope this year.

Mutant & Heretics

Mutant & Heretics

One of the high points of my year so far is getting my name on this little beauty of a book. Listed as a proof reader on most of the range and have also been logging the errors, writing the captions, doing the stats, and compiling the indexes.

Coming up

I’m working on the final book in the Mutant Chronicles Kickstarter, the “Dark Eden” campaign, which I hope to complete this week (or at least the bit I’m working on!).

I also plan to write up some sample Heretics and the adventure, “A Life in the Day” for the Mutant Chronicles.

Both Achtung! Cthulhu and Mutant Chronicles games will resume (I took some time off from MC). I’m hoping to begin converting Shadows of Atlantis to 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu soon.

I’m hoping to be at Dragonmeet this year too. Better get organised!

A Silent Spring!

It’s been pretty quiet here recently. There’s a number of reasons for this, and I’ll come to them shortly: it’s a mixture of good and bad news. Simply put: I’d had a lot of plans but some are going to have to take a back seat. I’ll be attending the UK Games Expo and Dragonmeet conventions this year, but no other conventions.

Again it’s down to time – and sanity. I’ve pushed myself to the limit over the last six months, for a number of reasons, most of them personal. They’ve no place here, but suffice to say, I’ve had to compartmentalize things and take some steps.

The following is somewhat bullet-pointed, but it helps me get things ordered in my head.

So, gaming-wise…

I’m running two fortnightly campaigns at ORC now: Achtung! Cthulhu’s Shadows of Atlantis, and the Mutant Chronicles Dark Symmetry campaign (the latter of which I helped write in a tiny fashion). I’m enjoying running both. I’ve good players, decent attendance; and as they’re already published, easy to prep for.

I’m doing freelance work for Modiphius Publishing on the Mutant Chronicles line – the indexes and occasional demented captions in most of the supplements are mine (as well as some of the proofing!). I’ve also been helping stat up the Dark Eden Supplement. I’m hoping to pick up more freelance work in the months ahead. I’m finding it very rewarding, as well as giving me a creative challenge.

I didn’t make it to Conpulsion this year, sadly – nor will I make Q-CON owing to a prior commitment. I hope to, next year; if time and finances permit. I will be at the UK Games Expo and Dragonmeet, of course! Looking forward to doing a bit more networking this year at them, plus I enjoy meeting other gamers. Not signed up to run anything this time, so I might get to actually play some games this time around.

My Edinburgh Gaming page still proves incredibly popular, so I’ve been keeping that updated! On the down side, I’d hoped to try to get the disparate gaming communities to talk to each other more, but I just haven’t had the time. I try to do it when I can though, but I step back from the politics now: it’s still very entrenched in old rifts and personal vendettas.

Over the years, I’ve been asked to review products or publicise Kickstarters and game launches. I’m of two minds about these. Often, it’s someone looking for free publicity or product evangelist for products that aren’t even ready. Also, getting time to do a playtest or demo review session can be tricky. On the other hand, it’s pretty good fun to do.

ORC’s Games day at the Kilderkin was a big success. There’s stuff we could do differently, and more effectively, and I/we’ve learnt from it. Not sure when we’ll do the next one, but next year I think! We had a lot of new visitors. The Kilderkin has also hosted the Conpulsion’s after-party and the Board Gamers took over the pub at one point. I like to think that I may have had something to do with that.

I ran a fun game of Conan (mid-Kickstarter) at Tabletop cafe , just up the road from the Kilderkin. I hope to run more demo games there soon, when time permits. Good food and drink, friendly staff, and a great atmosphere. I need to visit there more. As part of the Kickstarter, I’m going to be drawn in as a stat’ed NPC in Conan: Adventures in the Hyborian Age. I’ll also be appearing in art and as an NPC in the Infinity RPG.

The novel has been assigned as a secondary aim, along with any short fiction. I know I’m technically capable of writing them; just not temporally! It’s one of those things that I may revisit in future months, but for now, it’s on the back-burner.

I’m part of the Modiphius Silvershield scheme that allows GMs to get credit from running games – in my case, I ran a lot of games last year, so have built up some considerable credit. I also get points for referring new business. You can get 10% off Modiphius products in their store (both PDF and print) by using this link r.sloyalty.com/r/uc3wlqcchb8R

I’m taking my freelance work seriously enough to register with the Inland Revenue for Self-Assessment. Morally, and practically, it is the right thing to do. I’ve done it before, during my Nova Games era. There’s a chance I may or may not have to pay more tax; but I don’t think I’ll be lucky enough to get any tax rebate. I’m certainly not paying for an accountant to do it.

I’ve managed to ask some members of ORC Edinburgh (the gaming community I help run) to take on Moderator roles for the site, so I can start taking a step back from that side of things. It’s an easy transition to make, thankfully. I’ve lost count of the different groups now, or what games are currently running and/or looking for players. ORC is now so big, it’s become difficult to keep track of things, in that respect.

I’m not doing any war gaming or board gaming now, I’m afraid. I don’t have the time during the week, and need to maintain a “normal” life as it were. Plus, I seem to have trouble dealing with some of the more complex ones – I think it might be a side effect.

I’d hoped to get a chance to play some starter games of Cassus Belli’s Infinity game (the miniatures are absolutely amazing), and Battletech. I’d been thinking of trying to develop some of the Cthulhutech setting into the Battletech rules for some time now. I’ll get around to it at some point, I reckon.

I’m still awaiting the RAFM Cthulhu minis from their Kickstarter, and the Cthulhu FATE book, Into the Shadows. I’ve got doubts I’ll ever see these, as it seems anything Cthulhu-related on Kickstarter is doomed to “eternal lie”… but at least the 7th Edition of Call of Cthulhu shipped (which I should get from my FLGS)!

I’ve tried to do a lot over the last six months and it has caught up with me spectacularly, so I think it’s for the best that I “clear my head” of the extraneous clutter.

In other news…

I’m reducing my time on social media. It can easily consume a huge amount of free time or attention. I’m on Google+ and LinkedIn, but hardly use them. I am still on Twitter and Facebook. It’s easier if you spend 15 minutes on there, rather than getting involved in the minutiae! In moderation… I should probably update my profile on LinkedIn anyway to reflect the changes in my professional circumstances (and the About Me part of the site)!

I’m moving out of the flat (briefly) for renovation work, which could take a week or more. Had another aqueous insurgence (water ingress) in January! I can’t say it’s not a stressful place to be in (in every sense of the word), but things are moving forward. Looking ahead to getting it over with: every stage completed is one step forward. Still, it’s a bit of an “embuggerance”. I’ve got to get quotes for removal and storage and have to make it clear to the loss adjuster I’m NOT going to be staying in the flat while they rip down the plaster-and-lathe ceiling.

My day job has recently thrown up a number of challenges. I do a lot of work with virtualised machines (VMware) and field sites. The Chief Executive at my work has personally congratulated me on the work I do supporting the science. I’m becoming far more comfortable with the High Performance Cluster running Scientific Linux at my work. I’ve also manage to remove Flash Player and Quicktime from our PC estate of 1500+ computers. By the way, if you haven’t removed these, you should! Flash in Chrome is “sandboxed”, but not in other browsers like IE or Firefox. Quicktime is longer supported or patched by Apple, and is now insecure.

I need to reorganise this website: make it more simple. There’s too many pages, and this site has evolved, content-wise. It’s gone far beyond what was a simple RPG setting site. In fact, it’s been largely sidelined in recent years, as I’ve become more focussed on Edinburgh’s gaming community, conventions, and freelancing. That’s pretty easy to sort, thankfully. Not sure if I’ll keep using this site theme, though.

I’m also heading down south for the May Bank holiday, to Craster Tower, a 5* accommodation. It’s owned by my other half’s family, so I thought I’d give it a plug! Plus I’ve never really been anywhere 5* 🙂 My girlfriend used to work as an Archaeologist on Ernest Shackleton’s base camps in the Antarctic so we’re heading to London for the Shackleton Centennial service at Westminster Abbey. I’ve been reading up on him, and her experiences there might be very handy when I run Beyond the Mountains of Madness or Assault on the Mountains of Madness (Achtung! Cthulhu).

All in all, feeling I’m in a better place than six months ago!

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..

Dragonmeet 2015: D-3 Days

Sorry, it’s been a bit quiet around here for a while – I’ll come to the reason for that shortly! Dragonmeet is on this weekend, a London convention that I attended last year for the first time. It’s only one day but I enjoyed it last year – plus there’s a pub meet for the following day. It’s also a chance for me to catch up with the Modiphius crew again after the UK Games Expo. They’re a nice bunch.

I’m heading down on the Friday afternoon (4.5 hours on the train), a bit of a long haul, but am quite looking forward to it. I’m running demos of Achtung! Cthulhu, and the Mutant Chronicles. I’ll be running them at the Modiphius stand. You can book a slot to play on the day at Dragonmeet – space is limited to four players though, so you’ll need to be there early!

The Achtung! Cthulhu scenario, “Under the gun,” may be the first time it has been run by anyone else. Written by none other than Graeme Davis – one of the team who designed Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay RPG (WFRP), it should be a lot of fun. I’ll be using Call of Cthulhu for it. The Mutant Chronicles scenario is one I’m doing myself, “A Life in the Day,” which I’d better get writing! A Luna City Police Department game (AKA Luna City Blues), I’m writing it to try and demonstrate the various aspects of the 2d20 system.

I’ve recently started both a Achtung! Cthulhu campaign, alternating with a Mutant Chronicles one. I think I may have sold them too much on the games. Or my players are trying to kill me. Modiphius do some discounts at conventions, so the players are sending me to get the following:

2 x Achtung! Cthulhu Investigators Guides
4 x Mutant Chronicles Rulebook
Mutant Chronicles Players Guide
Achtung! Cthulhu Keeper’s Guide
Achtung! Cthulhu Horrors of the Secret War
2 x Achtung! Cthulhu Shadows of Atlantis Campaign

Oof.

The reason for the silence is that I’ve been asked to write for the 2d20 system (Conan, Infinity, Mutant Chronicles, John Carter on Mars) by Modiphius Publishing. It’s been a busy few weeks. I’ve already prepared indexes for sourcebooks regarding Capitol, The Brotherhood, and Cybertronic. I also helped proofread, contribute to, and index the Dark Symmetry Campaign book, which looks great. I’ve spent the last few days indexing the Dark Soul source book. It’s the one dealing with the bad guys: the Dark Apostles and the Dark Legion. I am also in charge of something I’m calling BRIMSTONE LIBRARY (a universal index to all the Mutant Chronicles material produced by Modiphius). I’ve also been accorded the opportunity to compile the official errata for the MC core book.

I’m enjoying the experience, and if I’m honest, it’s always something I’ve want to do – but real life always got in the way. If anyone reading this is at Dragonmeet, come say Hi – I don’t bite, but you may leave with a few books as a result…

Dragonmeet Flyer

Dragonmeet Flyer

Looking back at RPG Convention Season 2015

So I’ve been following the “Grand Tour” of RPG convention season this year. I started off with Dragonmeet 2014 in December, a one-day con in London at Earls Court.

I followed this up with Conpulsion. The review of this here on this blog has apparently lead to some changes, and I’ve been interrogated quite thoroughly about it at an ORC Edinburgh pub meet:).

I took myself down to the UK Games Expo, and managed to miss being in every Modiphius Entertainment pic as detailed by Marc Langworthy at in his Post Expo Debrief over at http://kplangers.com/. I was elsewhere running games in the building for about half the time, including Mutant: Year 0 when it won Best RPG. I also helped flog some stuff on the stall and ran some demo games there.

Most recently I went to Q-CON. It felt less like a RPG Convention this year. I didn’t enjoy it quite as might as I could have thanks to my insomnia, so that’s on me. The accommodation was pretty basic and I didn’t get much sleep thanks to the noise. I also lost my voice on the Saturday night!

Things I’ve learned – although I covered some of this before in my Surviving the UK Games Expo post, it works for any Convention (plus I’ve updated some of the things):

  • If you’re staying in a hotel, find somewhere cheap (the Hilton was brutally expensive), and there’s often cheaper accommodation to be found nearby online. Find somewhere close though.
  • At the Games Expo, get breakfast early! You’ll not be able to enter the main trade/event halls before 9am but at least you won’t be hungry.
  • If you’re planning on buying stuff, make sure you’ve some ready cash – in case the cash machine(s) on site run out.
  • Don’t bank on eating healthily – food trucks are popular now, but some venues will have a pub. Hotel restaurants are often pricey too. Leave yourself some time though. They get busy and are usually not prepared to deal with the numbers! Or find a place to eat nearby. Take business/contact cards with you. I gave them to nearly all my players – and all were happy to take them (bar one). See below!
  • While running a game one of my players was almost constantly playing some game on his phone, and wasn’t paying attention (to me or the players). At the end of it, not only did he discard my card but he said he found the game “confusing”. The rest of the players had enjoyed themselves immensely. Bloody ignorant. He’d done it in another GMs game too. GMs should call a player out on this kind of thing if the rest of the group are becoming exasperated with it.
  • By respectful of other GMs, it’s not a shouting match where the loudest group have the most fun. Unless they’re playing a WH40K Ork game called Waargh Trek.
  • On the other hand, speak up as a GM. Many shared games rooms are loud.
  • Be on time (players and GMs!), and be ready to move to another location if there’s an accessibility problem for players.
  • Have a chillout place available if it gets crowded, and take an hour to “decompress”.
  • If you’re staying in student halls, expect basic facilities and noise. They’re cheap for a reason.
  • Bathe daily. You’ll need to: it gets very warm and everyone sweats.
  • Get a convention T-shirt or two. Not only is it a reminder, but you can use as a standby if you’re short of shirts (see above)!
  • Drink plenty of water, especially if you’re running a game.
  • If you’re planning on collecting Kickstarter rewards or buying games, take a big case or drive (beware of parking costs). Alternatively post your games back separately from a nearby Post Office (cheaper than £20 for an extra Easyjet baggage allowance).
  • Don’t schedule yourself to run games the entire con. Take some time to walk around, play, and network.
  • Be enthusiastic about a demo game, but don’t be offended if someone criticizes it or isn’t interested in it.
  • Venue staff, not just stewards, need to be polite and respectful – you’re still customers.
  • Cosplay is not consent (I’ve never seen harassment but it does exist).
  • Don’t badger gaming personalities in the bar if they’re in there for a quiet drink.
  • If you’re an organiser of a convention, expect and act upon criticism.

I’m not sure how many conventions I’ll get to next year: the accommodation and travel cost does mount up. Plus I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to attend and prepare for them. Still, I may get some time away. I’ve been offered a press pass for Conpulsion, and I’ll be at Dragonmeet this year though. I think I’ve covered everything and everywhere in individual reviews and posts elsewhere under Conventions.

Feel free to make any suggestions for other “Survival Tips”in the Comments!

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