Reflections on the UK Games Expo

It’s been a few weeks since I was at the UK Games Expo, a yearly gaming convention that takes over the Birmingham Hilton hotel and a signficant amount of the Birmingham NEC, I’ve been a few times and always look forward to seeing a lot of the UK people I game with online “in the flesh,” this was my first year actually GM-ing at the convention though.

I was asked by Lloyd Gyan–Modiphious game advocate, RP Hipster and general great guy–who I game with a fair amount, to help him and a few others run Games on Demand, essentially the idea being that people who haven’t prebooked into a game in advance can rock up, buy a quick ticket for a game from the desk and then stroll down the room where we are and jump into a game. This is a great idea because the pre-booked games sell out pretty fast, perhaps you weren’t sure if you could make it, or perhaps you came for something else but are interested in this roleplaying thing that people have been banging on about, well if that’s the case you can still get in a game on demand. Continue reading

BrigadeCon 2015

 

To those of you who aren’t aware BrigadeCon is an online tabletop RPG convention that was started last year by the Youtube RPG Brigade and has been continued this year by a talented team of organisers. You can find details on the convention by clicking on the link below:

http://brigadecon.org/

Basically the Con is 24 hours of online gaming (normally using Google Hangouts), panels and giveaways; last year was great fun with people from different timezones getting together and gaming.

So what am I doing for Brigade Con 2015?

Well last year I ran a couple of panels for the convention whereas this year I’m going to be running two games, you can find details below:


 

The Thing from the Hillssun-birds-people-cartoon-girl-guns-smoke-west-hat-coat-glow-red-steel-2
(Fate Accelerated, Wild Blue Setting)
“Just a few generations ago, the people of what would be called the Blue Lands came in search of wealth and fleeing religious persecution. When they arrived, they found a land steeped in magic, valuable resources… and the Folk, inhuman and amazing magical beings. Unfortunately a war erupted for the Blue Lands, and the settlers won – pushing the Folk far to the west of this vast continent and establishing a kingdom in the Blue Lands.

The Blue Lands is now wealthy and wondrous, taking full advantage of the miracle mineral Cobalt, and the Skywood trees that grow lighter as they go older… even floating into the sky! But too, now are Powers: men and women born in the generations since arrival with gifts of superhuman talents and abilities unknown, and the numbers keep growing…

In order to negate potential dangers of Power abuse resulted in the creation of the Queen’s Wardens, the law-enforcement organization of Major Powers answering only to Queen Aurora V and no limit to their remit to defend the Blue Lands. With vengeful Folk, sky pirates, bandits, noble intrigues, monsters and more… get ready pardner.”

Word has reached the Wardens that something is killing the calves of Emerson Kleebergers herd in the ranching town of Edge Hill, threatening to stop the precious flow of food to Cobalt City; at his wits end Kleeburger has dispatched a message to the Queen begging her to send someone to investigate.


 

EdwardWaltonWilcox-Circus_in_the_Field-2009_bitumen_on_panel_24x36in.Why so Serious?

(NWOD werewolf using simplified rules system)

“There’s something wrong in your territory, there have been a rash of strange death, each victim dying with a rictus grin etched on their features; the deaths started when Bobos Circus of the Fantastic moved into the area, but strangely none of the mortal authorities seem to have made the connection, leaving it to the supernatural guardians of the small town of Strangehaven to track down and hunt the cause of this laughing plague.”

This game is a NWOD werewolf game where the players will portray members of the Uratha pack who claim the sleepy American town of Strangehaven as their territory; the game is for 3-4 players and uses a simplified version of the NWOD system more suited to one-offs, there will be a selection of pre-genned characters available as the pack finds themselves with a deadly mystery on their hands. Can they determine it’s cause and end the strange plague or will the small town die laughing?

Picture by Edward Walton Wilson, used for non-profit purposes, no challenge intended to any copyrights.

UK Games Expo 2015 is imminent

The UK Games Expo 2015 is imminent (in-fact I’ll be getting aboard a train to take me there tomorrow evening), I’ve not really done much convention gaming in the past TBH (unless you count a Gen Con UK umpteen years ago where I was distracted by my wife falling off a bus the first night there, but that’s another story) so this will be my first real experience of con gaming.

So what made me decide to take the plunge?

Well previously I’ve always been put off a bit by the notion of 24/7 gaming, I need a bit of time to re-charge between games and the idea of just hammering through one game after another without really having time to enjoy them has never really appealed to me; since I started doing RPGs online though I’ve played in a number of very enjoyable one-shot games, and this has made me decide to give the UKGE 2015 a try. Also two of my regular Jadepunk players (Jenny and Mathew) are attending the convention (I think we can let Thashif off given that he lives in New Zealand) so it will be nice to actually meet them in person, I think we’re in a couple of games together and I know Jenny is running a Hollow Earth Expedition game that I’m playing in.

So what am I planning to do there?

Well I’m going to try and resist the urge to buy a lot more RP books since I have a big stack I need to work my way through and review as it is; I’m attending the event as a tester to see whether I enjoy convention gaming, with a view to possible running something in the future if I do (gotta spread that Fate love somehow ;)). So this event is about relaxing for me and enjoying gaming, I’m not going to be taking any big camera rigs with me to record videos or anything along those lines, that said however, I will have my Dictaphone and my mobile phone so there is a possibility that I’ll produce some bloggable material, as long as it doesn’t interfere too much with the gaming side of things.

Can’t wait to get to the convention now and see what it’s like 🙂

Beer & Pretzels 2015

Every year my FLGS Spirit Games hosts a gaming convention at the local town hall called Beer & Pretzels; I normally have a wander down each year and this year was no exception, after trundling down to the store to buy Age of Rebellion myself and Hannah (my lovely wife) headed back to the town hall and stopped in.

There is normally far more wargaming and boardgaming than RP that goes on at the convention, it’s good fun if you love those things, but as anyone who knows me will tell you, my wargaming years are far behind me and i’ve never really been one for boardgames; the idea of spending hours allocating resources and pushing playing pieces around a board may be some peoples idea of fun (and if you love that stuff, go for it, have fun) but to me it sounds like being trapped in some unfathomable level of hell (that’s right i’m looking at you Settlers of Catan). However today I was feeling decidely chipper with an excellent one-shot of Edge of Empire under my belt, a great number of energy drinks quaffed and the prospect of purchasing a copy of Age of Rebellion in the near future, so my wife persuaded me to give some boardgames a go.

I must say that in the few hours we spent there I actually had a great deal of time, perhaps my previous grumblings about board/card games (except Battlestar Galactica and Family Business, those games are ace) were unfounded, or rather only applied to a few games in particular.

librium 2First of all we played a game called Librium, it’s basically a cool variant on Jenga, where you put cards with slots into a centre card mounted on a magnet (normally stuck on a bottle top or from a pendulum, we bought a set that comes in a can serving as the base – well cool); we actually met the creator there and also spoke to him the previous year, very nice bloke and he gave me a complimentary clear plastic laser-cut keyring which is has now proudly taken it’s place on my big bunch of keys (love a freebie).

 

We then went on to play a game called Trax which is all about building the longest line of your colour out of tiles in an eight-by-eight grid, i’m sad to say that this game looked a lot more fun than it turned out to be; originally it looked like there was a limit on the types of patterns you had on your tiles but it turned out each one was double sided and had the same design. It was an interesting concept but not one I’ll be racing back to revisit.

Myself and Hannah then returned this game to the extensive lending library of games that is provided at Beer & Pretzels (a great feature of the convention that, whilst not possible at larger cons, does make B&P stand out) and pulled out a game called Forbidden Island.

Forbidden Island turned out to be an excellent co-op game where you race as a team (playing randomly dealt character each with a special ability) to collect four mysterious treasures and escape in a helicopter as the island sinks around you. This was a great fun game, simple to understand that we played a number of times, the first we escaped with a sizable time margin, the second we lost because in the first couple of turns Hannah’s character drowned as the part of the island she stood on sank and, if a character goes out of the game then it’s game over. Our friend Guy turned up just as we were about to pack the game away so we had another game, this time missing out by the narrowest of margins, the helipad sinking as we ran towards it; although we’d lost we reversed that turn and did things slightly differently (christening it a ‘directors cut alternate ending’) to see if we could’ve won. Turns out we could have, but I suppose that’s the benefit of hindsight.

Another cool thing was one of my friends from LARP, Andrea turning up and say hello so that was cool; unfortunately Hannah had work to do and I was itching to read some Starwars goodness so we heading home at about 5pm.

Overall a very enjoyable day and, if you’re ever in the Burton area of the UK around this time of year I highly recommend you give Beers & Pretzels a look.

 

[Video-RPG] Talking GM Workshops with Gary Harper from the RP Haven (Dragonmeet 2014)

Gary Harper of the RP Haven was also good enough to spare us some of his time to talk about the work that they have been doing with their GM workshops.

RP Haven website : Http://www.rphaven.co.uk

The MP3 of this interview can be downloaded here: 
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByVpAo4rxDGuSnJEeUR3QTUxLUU/view?usp=sharing

[Video-RPG] RPG Interview with Gary Harper from RP Haven (Dragonmeet 2014)

At Dragonmeet 2014 we also had the opportunity to talk to Gary Harper from RP Haven about the work they are doing within the community to promote roleplay.

RP Haven website: Http://www.rphaven.co.uk

The MP3 version of this interview can be downloaded here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByVpAo4rxDGuS3pmUi1qVm5UVjQ/view?usp=sharing

[Video-RPG] RPG Interview with Leo Marshall from Indyhippo (Dragonmeet 2014)

An interview with Leo Marshall from Indyhippo at Dragonmeet 2014 where we talk about indy games, the future of story lead games and the UK RP Design Collective.

UK RP Design Collective website: Http://ukrpdc.wordpress.com/

MP3 version of this interview available here: 
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByVpAo4rxDGubExKN0FWMTlqUXM/view?usp=sharing

[Con-RPG] Dragonmeet 2014

On the 06/12/14 some friends and myself went to Dragonmeet 2014 held in the Ibis Hotel London, having only been to a single face-to-face convention beforehand (back in the dim and misty past when there was a Gen Con UK) I wasn’t really sure what to expect and was a bit nervous if the truth be told, the decision to attend the convention had all been a bit last minute but I was hoping to attend some of the panels and maybe even interview some of the game designers (in addition to promoting the Red Dice Diaries of course).
I had a press pass for the event courtesy of friends from Dark Cleo Productions who myself and my wife would be accompanying down to the convention; it was only a one day affair and I thought that it would be a good introduction to conventions for when I plan to attend the larger UK Games Expo in 2015. It turns out my worries were pretty much unfounded, most people at the convention were very happy to chat about and demonstrate their products and I was able to secure audio interviews with a number of people (I only took a dictaphone to avoid having to carry heavy video recording equipment across London) only one of which unfortunately wasn’t usable due to the background noise.
Highlights of the weekend for me include:

  • Talking to Graham Bottley from Arion Games.
  • Picking up a couple of indy games (Intrepid and Sci-Fi Beta Kappa) from the UK RP Design Collective and talking to Leo.
  • Having a couple of interesting chats with Gary Harper from RP Haven.
  • Getting to talk to some of the people from Modiphius and Pelgrane.
  • Playing a number of games include Stakbots, Sopio, Lords of War and a very entertaining little AFF scenario where the GM recognised me from TheRogueDM’s Broken Jade campaign videos.

I’ll put a few pictures from the weekend below:
All ready to head off to Dragonmeet 2014
Catching the London Underground
Never could resist the opportunity to take snaps of scenery
Just time for a spot of breakfast before hitting the Con
Just grabbing a drink of coffee before the event
Arriving at the venue
Our first seminar of the day – Pelgrane Press
Looking at the excellent new version of Campaign Cartographer, sadly the interview I recorded with the guy demonstrating it didn’t come out.
My purchases from the weekend
Interviewing Graham Bottley from Arion Games
Playing a cool little AFF scenario ran by Stuart Lloyd
The strategic card/wargame ‘Lords of War’ celebrated it’s second birthday and we were lucky enough to get shown how to play it by one of the co-creators
End of a great first day
Ready for the second day social at the Ibis
Playing Stakbots in the Ibis pub, great card game with loads of tactical thinking involved.
Heading back home
Just time for a game of Sopio on the train
We all had a great time at Dragonmeet, was great to meet and talk to so many people with such great enthusiasm for the hobby, we certainly hope to be attending next year’s convention 🙂

[Video-RPG] RPG Interview – Graham Bottley from Arion Games (Dragonmeet 2014)

At the recent Dragonmeet Convention we were lucky enough to be able to grab a few minute’s of Graham Bottley’s time to talk about previous projects from Arion Game including (of course) the re-release of Advance Fighting Fantasy, and also what the future holds for Arion.
Arion games website: http://www.arion-games.com
The MP3 version of the interview is available here: 

[Con-RPG] Heading to Dragonmeet on 06/12/14

Myself, my wife and a friend of ours from Dark Cleo Productions are heading off to Dragonmeet at the end of the week, we were lucky enough to get tickets at the last minute thanks to our friends at Dark Cleo and i’m very much looking forward to going.

I have to admit to being a little apprehensive though, the last convention I went to was when a version of Gen Con was still being held here in the United Kingdom about a million years ago and i’ve not really had the time or the funds necessary to visit a lot of conventions since (although I do go to the small Beer & Pretzels convention held in our local town most years); having really enjoyed my experience at the online convention BrigadeCon 2014 (although I understand conventions online and in person are likely to be very different) i’m really looking forward to going to the convention. If anyone sees me there, feel free to come up and say hello, chat about RPGs, i’ll be taking my dictaphone with me and a video camera so hopefully i’ll be able to get some good footage and maybe even some interviews 🙂

Details for Dragonmeet can be found here: http://www.dragonmeet.co.uk/