Category Archives: Conventions

Post Dragonmeet Reflections

So Dragonmeet 2016 was my first visit since I last went in 2006 when it was held in the rather dour and downbeat Kensignton Hall. This time out it was nestled in the heart of Hammersmith at the Novotel. I didn’t initially appreciate shinyness of the venue, since we came up with the stock in the goods elevator and were initially focused with getting set up in the trades hall, where I spent 85% of my time.

In kung-fu fighting mode on the stall, photo by Julian Hayley.
In kung-fu fighting mode on the stall, photo by Julian Hayley.

To any of you who swung past the D101 Games stall, tucked away in the corner next to Leisure Games, and said hi thank you. Apologies if you’ve seen me before at Expo and I didn’t recognise you. There were a few lulls but it was full on from its start at 10am until finally we got the signal from the organisers that we could shut up shop at 6pm. There were audible sighs of relief from the traders around me as people realised (we had originally been told 8 was the earliest).

The Mighty Stall
The Mighty Stall

Overall we turned a profit, as we do at Expo as well,  and I’m finally getting real grip on what sells and what doesn’t. I’ve now got a couple of years of hard data from Expo and with the figures I got from Dragonmeet a very definite picture is emerging that I’ll be taking action on next time I’m out with the stall (Airecon in Harrogate 10-12th March).

Front of the Dragonmeet catalogue
Front of the Dragonmeet catalogue
Inside of the games catalogue, crazy, crazy prices never to be repeated :)
Inside of the games catalogue, crazy, crazy prices never to be repeated 🙂

The con was a ton of fun. Perhaps too much fun for one day. Not only were sales good for us, but I got to talk to lots of customers about the games – especially Monkey which I was letting people know that the Kickstarter starts on Sunday 8th January 2017.  I say quietly, well it was until official Monkey #1 fan Lloyd found out and was busy telling people, including at the “What’s happening in Indie and Story games seminar”.  I wondered why sales of Monkey spiked late afternoon 🙂

Monkey's #1 fan, Lloyd
Monkey’s #1 fan, Lloyd

That vague thing called “Networking” with fellow industry types also worked nicely for me. I’m usually not a big fan of putting myself forward, I prefer to let the work speak for itself, but I had some good chats  with various folk that were inspiring and useful.  Not least with Mike from Leisure Games, Ben and Mark from Airecon (which is having its next outing in March in the Harrogate Conference centre and D101 will be involved heavily on the RPG front so watch this space) and I had the pleasure to meet industry veteran artist Tony Hough and leaf through a folder crammed with gorgeous fantasy art.

Surprisingly there was enough time to be sociable either side of the con. Despite arriving late on Friday me and my driver Steve got to go for a cracking Vietnamese at SaigonSaigon not far from Premier Inn where we were staying before getting stuck in a lift in the apartment block were the rest of our friends from the North had their accommodation. Stoically we waited it out for an hour, heads down reading on e-readers, until we were got out. Then a nice bit of booze was provided by our hosts to calm nerves (cheers Lynn and John).

Helps we are stuck in a lift!
Helps we are stuck in a lift!

After the con I bumped into the London Gloranthaphiles (Colin, Tressey, Dan, Gwen and Nick) and went out for another oriental themed tea, where I discovered the clean tasting delights of Lucky Buddha beer ( with its lovely happy buddha shaped green bottles – which I was too polite to take one) . Then back to the hotel bar to meet up with my Northern mates for more beer and spirits, before calling it a night.  Then a clear run back to the North the next day.

Post con tipple: Lucky Buddha Beer
Post con tipple: Lucky Buddha Beer

Would I be back again?  Yes on balance, it was a fun, profitable and inspiring enough for me for me to come back.

 

Emerging from the Black Hole

Been a good day, lots of things came together nicely.

Crypts and Things is in the final stages of print proof so should be out next week 🙂 Its been a long black hole the final stages of putting that one together, but I’m very happy with the book. It’s a big 248 page book with lovely art and a fantastic cover. A great team of people pulled together to get it done. But its been crunch time on it for what seems like for ever, but we are there now.

A spot of proof checking over lunch
A spot of proof checking over lunch

Next thing for C&T is scenario support. Its part of the Kickstarter but I’ve got a plan to land it all in the coming 3-4 months. David M. Wright who did the art for the main rule book and the same team who helped me proof C&T remastered are on fire to kick the adventures into shape. I’ve also plans for dedicated support for conventions/store demos via a program I’m calling the “Graveyard Shift”. Oh and watch out for a special Halloween release 🙂

Project Darklight, my rules light Cyberpunk/Ufology game is now out in both pdf and print, and I plan to get some support drummed up for it. Its had a very low-key release but plans are afoot to raise awareness for it 🙂

I’ve now got a webstore that you can buy stuff directly from me. It was greatly satisfying posting out the first batch of orders today. If you are in the UK post is free 🙂

We’re booked in for Dragonmeet in London in early December, so it will be nice to see folk at this one day trade show.

River of Heaven is getting an outing at the upcoming Furnace convention. I get to run a scenario called Starshine, which if all goes right will be the beginning of a short Living Campaign for River of Heaven.  Stay tuned for details on how that one pans out 🙂 Also its crunch time for River of Heaven Companion, along time promised.

Hearts in Glorantha 6 is on its way in. All the content is in, we have a cover. So its time for editorial, proofing and art. Hope to land both this and the River of Heaven Companion by Dragonmeet.

Oh and the ram has touched the wall on Monkey the 2nd Incarnation – first chapter of the new version has just been completed.   I’ll get it proofed and then post it as an early preview 🙂

So all is good. Glad that Crypts and Things Remastered is finally seeing the light of day, because it’s a great thing in itself and it frees me up to get on with a lot of fun releases 🙂

7 Hills 2016

So 7 Hills, the con that snuck up on me.

Everytime I looked down at the clock, I was suddenly much closer to 7 Hills held arround Easter time annually. The fact that Easter was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay early this year and I was focused on other stuff (getting Crypts and Things Remastered the damn deal done and the recent OpenQuest Bundle of Holding) meant that my sense of time was completely off on this one.

So boosch I’m in the car with the esteemed John Ruddy driving me through Manchester commuters rushing to go home for the weekend, the misty tops of the Pennines and then all too soon into the land of 7Hills, Furnace and Sheffield Wednesday Football club, Hillsborough Sheffield.

We arrived early about 5 ish, gassed much to the huddle of other early people and then I ordered the traditional Veggie Burger n chips.  Then talked in to the evening and drank too much as usual (but don’t worry God lets me get away with one night of excess 😉 ). Highlight of the night had to be Declan bequeathing Neil the “Box of stuff” that had been in the attic……(see the pictures below to see why).

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After shaking off any hint of hangover over a fresh and frank breakfast which included much chat about the state of RQ/Chaosium/CoC 7th Ed/OpenQuest I was off to get my stuff together for the first slot of the day.

If the wind changes...
Before Breakfast
After Breakfast
After Breakfast

Which for me was me running the New West, for two players (Malcolm and Tom). This is a game of Cowboys and Indians (and occasionally Dinosaurs) at the centre of the Hollow Earth, using Dr Mitch’s straightforward and streamlined Fate variant Fortune (see Hunters of Alexandria for a published version of this rule set).  We had a great time, the small number of players allowed me to focus on the loud and rawkous action that this game tends to produce.  The stars of this Saturday Morning Cowboy, survived a ride by shooting, an assassination attempt during a ballroom brawl (that’s right they kicked off during tea time in the 1st class restaurant) on the steam boat that they were travelling up river on, narrowly avoided an Undefeated regiment of Confederates armed with maxim guns and cannon by use of Egyptology, before facing off with the ancient guardian of an ancient technology that controls the weather (and more). All good fun 🙂

Lunch was the predictable Cheese and Onion pasties, but I was 80% close to getting a salad (honest), from Morrisons just across the road from the venue. A quick set of stretches to fight off fatigue and then back to the main gaming room….

…to find my afternoon game of OpenQuest: The Last Retreat had received no sign ups. Nada, zero, natch. Which to be honest doesn’t surprise me.  I’ve over twenty years experience  of GMing at conventions and I’ve seen systems I’ve run come and go as player interest waxes and wanes. I suspected that OQ (which to be honest plays on the simple joy of D100 fantasy) had outstayed its welcome and this confirmed it. I’ve run it numerous times and its now got many more sexy looking competitors, so this time even my energy for it (rejuvenated by the recent success of the OQ Bundle of Holding) wasn’t going to magically manifest players.

So I took the afternoon off and perused the many shiny books being sold by Jim of Patriot Games, and had a good natter about the state of the UK RPG Industry.

Myself and the esteemed Guy Milner snuck off to our usual Top Sekret Saturday Evening Tea time retreat to find that it had been significantly leveled up since we had last been there. Nom 🙂

The it was time for my last GMing session of the weekend: Sorcerer Under the Mountain, my OSR tribute to the Fighting Fantasy Dungeons of my youth like the Warlock Of Firetop Mountain.  System wise I choose The Black Hack, a very simple cut down version of D&D that effectively uses the best rulings from a number of its incarnations and cuts out the chaff to give a complete version of the game in about 20 pages. I playtested it at home with a mix of curious & grognard players, and had pretty much the same here. Both times it went down a storm 🙂 At some point soon The Sorcerer Under the Mountain will be on D101’s release schedule, so look out for it if you are interested 😉

The Black Hack rules!
The Black Hack rules!

I wasn’t going to risk God’s wrath so virtually no booze and an early night on Saturday (11pm!) so I can be up bright and early for Sunday’s shenanigans.

Breakfast was pleasant (and filling) but far less controversal than Saturdays.  A quick freshen up and check out of the room (which was as usual very pleasant and homely for my stay) and then it was back to the venue for slot 1.

Which was Neil Smith’s epic rendition of Tenra Bansho ZeroTHE HyperBlast Asian game.  TBZ for those of you who’ve not come across its gentle charms is a Japanese Roleplaying game lovingly translated into two thick graphic novel sized books – one setting introduction and the other the rules. The setting is  mad as a box of frogs – in that its full on Manga Sci-fi meets Samurai Action Flick. The rules straight forward ( a very clever dice pool system ) with a strong framework of play that allows fast character driven action and plot development.  Neil was using the more sedate Ruined Empire setting, that is less maximum metal turned up to 11 than the default Tenra setting but perhaps better suited to the political game of intrigue he had us six players embroiled in from Scene Zero (the opening scene, were each player plays out a quick intro to put their character into context of the adventure to come).  I’m still not convinced it is something that I run as a con game, despite my rather giddy proclamations in the post-game-glow. I’d probably have to run a successful run at home first. But I enjoyed it immensely. Unlike some other games where it’s all about the collective story of the party, I could tell you six stories about each of the characters as a result of that game.

Quick spot of lunch, then the traditional Raffle! What’s in the D101 Magic Bag?  You’ll have to ask Thomas Lock who was first out of the hat and picked it as his prize 😉

The D101 Magic Bag!
The D101 Magic Bag!

Last game of the con was Guy Milner’s 13th Age  tribute to Village of Homlett. I say tribute because Guy played hard and fast following the scenario as written. But hey that’s ok because 13th Age is written to do that, with its narrative cunning and its clever and fast mechanical bits that work to uplift the bits that tend to drag in normal D&D. A very good game, which had all the players engaged and laughing in what can be a difficult slot due to player fatigue.

Maximum thanks to the organisers Paul Mitchener and Graham Spearing. Thanks to every  one who I played or talked to.

Already looking forward to next year’s installment which has the theme of Urban Legends.

The State of D101 Games Address 2016

Gather round Ladies, Gentlemen and Wild Things of all ages!

Here is my annual State of D101 Games at the beginning of 2016, address.

2015 in review

As far as putting out books 2015 was a good year for Releases 🙂

  1. Reunion (River of Heaven, Jan)
  2. Last Witness ( River of Heaven, March)
  3. OpenQuest Adventures (OpenQuest, May )
  4. Hearts in Glorantha Collected (Glorantha, HeroQuest, RQ, May)
  5. Gloranthan Adventures #2 Red Sun Rising (Glorantha,HeroQuest, May)
  6. Hunters of Alexandria (Fate/Fortune, November)
  7. The Company (re-release) (Powered by OpenQuest, December)

Convention wise as well as my local cons, Furnace (which celebrated it’s 10th Year) and Seven Hills, D101 did  UK Games Expo, which is the nearest thing we have to US Gen Con, which was a huge success for us. We came out with a profit and had a great time meeting new people, catching up with old friends and generally bringing D101 to a whole new audience. To top it all River of Heaven came third in the new RPG category of the UK Games Expo Awards, behind the mighty Mutant Year Zero & Mindjammer RPGs from Modiphius Entertainment.

D101 @UK Games Expo 2015, L-R Guy Milner , Me n Kevin Kthulhu, and Graham Spearing (Wordplay Games)
D101 @UK Games Expo 2015, L-R Guy Milner , Me n Kevin Kthulhu, and Graham Spearing (Wordplay Games). The humongous Travelling Man stall was to our left in the photo, hence the TM banner. Photo by Julian Hayley.

Kickstarters, we completed the River of Heaven Kickstarter by March with the release of the pdf of The Last Witness, and in March I launched our most successful crowdfunding project ever for Crypt and Things Remastered.

Things for 2016

Crypts and Things Remastered is going to be our big first release of 2016. Its written and illustrated, and the additional content (never mind the revision of the existing 1st edition) doubles the size of it. Currently I’m at the stage of getting the main rulebook extensively edited and proofed. Once that’s done I’ve got a stream of  adventure modules ( 2 reissues, 1 conversion and 3 New) to release over the coming year. Then we move on to doing supplements for the game and “Oh what sights I have to show you” 🙂

We’ve Companion books and further adventures planed for River of Heaven and OpenQuest (see my earlier post for details) .

Monkey the 2nd Incarnation is coming along nicely. Its in playtest and writing phase, and I hope to make some form of announcement on Monday February the 8th which the start of the Chinese Year of the Monkey about its immediate future 🙂

Monkey by Peter Frain
Monkey by Peter Frain

Despite its low key release Hunters of Alexandria really did well. This is Paul Mitchener’s Monster Hunting in Ancient Alexandria game, using his Fortune rules which is a version of Fate siting somewhere between Fate Accelerated and Fate Core with influences from Jadepunk, which are simple and written straight to the point (the core rules are only 10 pages of A4). So I’m currently planing more Fortune  books for 2016.

The return of Wordplay! First off Project Darklight is currently being tweaked to fit in with Graham Spearing’s new Wordplay 2.0 rules (which will be out shortly via his Wordplay Games ). Then I’ve also got a Wordplay version of The Empire of Gatan (the setting that’s included with OpenQuest Deluxe) and Infinite Loop (an expanded version of Infinite War, which was last seen in Worlds of Wordplay) in the works. Both these titles will have a striped down version of the rules, which I’m dubbing Wordplay lite, and be self contained and pick up and play like Hunters of Alexandria.

Glorantha is Go! Hearts in Glorantha #2 (aka vol2 #1) is being assembled as we speak, Gloranthan Adventures #3 Defenders of the Dark is coming along nicely and I’m even planing a Mega Adventure for Gloranthan Adventures #4.

State of D101 in 2015

Happy Year of the Goat!

I can’t believe its February already, things are moving on so fast. I’m using the fact that it’s the Chinese New Year to do the State of D101 Address today, for reasons that will become clear below.

But first a quick report on the year just gone.

2014 Overall

Last year overall was a year of sticking my head down and getting the last bits of OpenQuest 2 done and pushing River of Heaven out. It also was year of getting D101’s house in order, of pulling up bootstraps and of streamlining my working procedures so that I’m not up to silly o’clock doing layout and other D101 stuff.  I also went back in time and looked at what made D101 exciting and fun in the first couple of years and how the heck I had managed to pump out so much. I realised a lot of it was my attitude and so I had a ‘reset’ of my head to put me back in that zone of excitement again…..wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

River of Heaven Kickstarter

This took up the majority of my time this year. It was more than worth it on both for personal satisfaction and for restoring faith and confidence in D101 as a fun business adventure. It set a nice achievable template for future Kickstarters, which I’ll be using for all D101’s big releases. Releasing the main rulebook just before Christmas was a satisfying way to end the year.

OpenQuest 2 Indiegogo campaign

Being overly generous it has gone on longer than anticipated, but once the additional stretch goals are done in early 2015 it represents a body of work that I’m very happy with. Two new books were released, Crucible of the Dragons, OpenQuest Basics and two old books were expanded and tidied up (Savage North and Life and Death). I’m currently working on the last two stretch goals OpenQuest Adventures and the Online SRD.

Coming in 2015

This year I seriously up the ante. 2015 should go down as our most Mega Gaming Fun year EVER!

Crypts and Things Remastered

MARCH 1st 2015 mark this date in your calendar. This is when I launch the Kickstarter to fund the remastered version of our popular Swords and Sorcery RPG, Crypts and Things. Remastered means that all the art is being replaced, the rules are being tided up and streamlined and if the campaign funds there will be extra content. More rules, monsters, spell and setting information.

Read the previews over at the Sorcerer under Mountain blog.

Empires of Ys

Dr Mitch’s (Crucible of Dragons, Drowned lands, Age of Arthur) take on OSR D&D from a multi-dimensional point of View.

More information on the game’s page.

Infinite War

An expanded version of the Sci-fi setting that first saw light of day in Worlds of Wordplay. This is a game of two rival conspiracies fighting each other, for the fate of the time stream itself. It is inspired by Fritz Liber’s Big Time and Moorcook’s Jerry Cornelius stories.

Lost Fools of Atlantis

April 1st mark this date in your diary. The Grand Ascended Masters demand it! On this day they will transmit information about the game that was previously sighted in the 2000s and is now finally making it’s descend through the ether into manifest reality. A rules lite humorous look at occult conspiracies vying for control of everyday reality.

Both Lost Fools of Atlantis and Infinite War are the first of a line of FATE-Lite game books, which will blend a quick and concise version of the FATE rules (codenamed FORTUNE and written by the esteemed Dr Mitch) with Setting and Adventure(s), in a 6” x 9” Black and White illustrated book, in MGF way 🙂  Dr Mitch’s Drownlands will also make it into this line eventually.

Hearts in Glorantha & Gloranthan Adventures

Hearts in Glorantha will be coming back in a new and improved format later this year and Gloranthan Adventures #2 is in its final stages of layout now (tentative release March/April latest). Life is returning to the lozenge after too many years away.

River of Heaven

Currently working on the next scenario release Last Witness and then onto the River of Heaven Companion, which will be a collection of scenarios, rules and setting material.

OpenQuest

I plan to support OQ with smaller module releases, but the next big thing for this year is the Return to the Savage North, a follow on from our popular Savage North Setting. This 90-120 page supplement will feature more fun adventures and a deeper look at the lands and the personalities from this D100 Swords and Sorcery setting.

Project Darklight

My rules-lite Cyberpunk game recently got to playtest stage, only to go straight back to development. Good news is that I’m already working on new system for the game, so it will be out later this year.

…and last but not least!

MONKEY! The 2nd Incarnation

I’ve started work on an expanded and revised version of our fun game of the Chinese Classic “Journey to the West”. Art duties are very capably being handled by Peter Frain. The game is in development this year, and if things go swiftly I intend to Kickstart it at the end of the year. If you are interested in helping out contact me at newt@d101games.com.

Convention attendance

As well as our local cons of 7 Hills (April 18 – 19 ) & Furnace (17-18 Oct Sheffield ), we’ll be pushing the boat out and attending UK Games Expo (Birmingham 29- 31 May) . Come drop by and see us in the Monarch Suite 🙂

What we won’t be doing in 2015

It’s better to aim high and miss, but sometimes reality sets in and you realise some projects have run their course or really shouldn’t proceed. Here’s a list of stuff I’ve previously announced but won’t be going forward with.

Ending in 2015

The Company, Worlds of WordPlay, and the Book of Glorious Joy (for Glorantha) have all run their course and are being retired at the end of this month. Last chance to buy over at DriveThruRpg.com.

Cthulhu Rising

Me and John came to the realisation that we have both moved on from the idea of doing Cthulhu Rising as a standalone game, since I first announced it. We’ve both got busy schedules and the required excitement to get Cthulhu Rising out the door just isn’t there.

Off to 7 Hills!

Well in roughly three months time I’ll be making the final preparations to go to 7 Hills, the laid back spring sibling to autumn’s Furnace held at the same venue.  If you live nearby I can thoroughly recommend it (see last years report) .

Here’s my offerings :)

Name of the game: Stainless Steel Providers
System: Project Darklight
Game Slot: 1
Number of Players: 6
Game Description:

They call you the Losers 242, since you come straight out of District 242 and to them you are just yet another street gang. A bunch of suicidal cyborg motorcycle gangers out to make mayhem and die in a blaze of glory.

But they don’t know the story. How you and your comrades from the infamous 5th Mechanised Regiment (Imperial Sterling INC) where demobbed to the **** hole of a planet they call New Oldham after the Galactic War. A burnt out, crashed, cesspit of belligerent idiots who claim descent from the clans of Northern England. You only ‘agreed’ since your Corporate Liaison said there would be a great relocation package. They even agreed to move your families to New Oldham. That’s where it all went to hell. The transport carrying your loved ones burned up in atmosphere – the victim of a terrorist attack- on the way to your new home. How you’ve spent the last year howling in grief fighting off constant attacks from racist hooligan locals.
Now a beacon of hope has been lit. A signal from the transport ship has been detected coming from the wilderness beyond the city.

Time to jump on your steel stead and ride off into the dust!

Project Darklight is a rules light cyberpunk game using the WordPlay system, set in the bright Corporate future of the 23rd Century after a mass exodus from Earth.

Tags: Mad Max, Cyberpunk, Cyborgs, Ufology, Steel, MGF.

Name of the game: Wootz!
System: Monkey 2nd Edition
Game Slot: 2
Number of Players: 6

Your great trek to India from China to collect the lost cannons of Buddhist lore is nearly over. Standing in your way is the great foundry where they make the famed Wootz metal. Wootz metal is famed for its sharpness and strength is misused by tyrants and warlords all over the east. In the hope of spreading compassion you and your fellow pilgrims feel compelled to end this factory of suffering and defeat the Demons of Pain that blight this place.

You are wary of the old saying that even the wise man must melt and dissolve to attain new form of enlightenment.

Come play Monkey, in its second incarnation which features a much streamlined and simplified version of the game system, a game of epic light hearted Chinese kung-fu flavoured adventures. You play an Immortal out of favour with Heaven. Help them cultivate their Te (or personal power/virtue) and amass awesome chi-powers in the process. No prior knowledge of the system or Chinese Mythology required.

Name of the game: Old Steel Ruins
System: Crypts and Things
Game Slot: 3
Number of Players: 6
Game Description:

In days of yore hot molten metal poured from the wounded Zarth. Mighty Sorcerers melded it into buildings of glittering Steel. They enslaved the land and the people. Until the Gods themselves were moved by the evil wizards hubris and buried them and their city under hot scolding sky fall ash! So the Steel Empire came to end, its treasures buried for millennia, its location a mystery.
UNTIL NOW! Brave scouts have discovered the City of Steel and have shared its location. Join the expedition to explore the Old Steel Ruins and discover THE SECRET OF STEEL!

An adventure for up to six 5th Level characters, using Crypts and Things a distinctly British Old School game, based upon the classics from the late 70s/early 80s, of Swords and Sorcery Adventure.

Tags: OSR, D&D, Swords & Sorcery, Foul smelly Khaos, Hair caked with the Ash of Ages, Lightly Gritted Sinews.

Name of the game: The City of Ironsmash
System: HeroQuest
Game Slot: 4
Number of Players: 6
Game Description:

The long lived Trolls of the Queendom of Halikiv have deep memories.

They remember the Gbjai Wars of the Dawn Age. How the men of light came out of the east over the mountains. How they conspired with Dwarfs and build a Forge-City on the Queendom’s borders, spawning iron armed and armoured warriors. If the Night Queen herself had not sent her son Arkat Kingtroll to lead the Black Legions against the city, how the Queendom would have been exterminated. Instead it was the Trolls who did the extermination and how the city is named after their deeds there. Happy memories of victory in the City of Ironsmash.
Now the storm scum are back in dark Halkiv and a small band of Black Legionaries travel to the city of Blackrock to ask for reinforcements from the Great Hag of the city. For they fear the forges of Ironsmash have been seized and once again good Troll hunting lands are threatened.

This is a big straightforward war story of Troll Warriors getting their Darkness on to trash Human barbarians. It requires no knowledge of the system or Glorantha. All will be gently introduced in an entertaining way over the course of the adventure. A Mega Gloranthan Fun game, so no basket weaving, sheep herding or anthropological discussions, only big fun adventure !

Tags: Glorantha , Trolls, Steel, Mega Gloranthan Fun!

 

Enter the Magic – Furnace 2014

This year’s Furnace was a magical experience for me … exit reality and enter its warm rosy glow for lashings of AWESOME and WIN!

Arrived on time for once due in part of missing the Manchester rush hour. Then on to eattings and a well balanced evening of booze and chat. Good start to the con :)

Saturday

Slot 1: Fate Accelerated : Cowboys and Dinosaurs.
A full table of six players who very quickly got into the excitement of being Cowboys and Cowgirls of various flavours and the mystery of the Town of Nowhere. Lots of fun moments, and this scenario will go into the book when I publish it early next year :) As well as a fun game I had a big insight about Fate, which I’m still coming to grips with, and how the fate point economy really is the ebb and flow of the game and replaces Hit Points and other forms of bean counting in older games as a measure of player success.
Esteemed players: Brian….opps sorry Ryan, Sue, Andrew, Andy, Remi and Paul.

Slot 2: Project Darklight: Neon Knights.
Another full house +1 (we had an extra player in Malcolm who very quickly created a character and got stuck in) and what could have been a very dull “you are a Street Gang defend your Territory” game, was spiced up by the players who quickly groking Wordplay and running it with it. Two waves of attackers then taking it to the villian in his cyber fortress at the end of adventure with style and flair. Playing PD reminded me why WordPlay is one of my favourite games ever :)
Thanks to the players: Malcom, Peter, Harriet, Martin, Barry, Tony and Dom.

Slot 3: Tenra Bansho Zero: Lotus Blosum’s Bridal Path.
Ok this one could have gone really wrong. This was the “see that game you’ve never played before, but really want to? Spend a month or so learning it and then just run it!” game. I was working from a pre-written adventure, quite a straightforward Travel capper, with pre-gens and the basic system is reasonably straightforward ( a dice pool system ), but what I hadn’t groked during my quick run through 300+ world background and a 400+ rules book that the setting is basically Ninjas, Samurai and Sorcerers but each character type is a monster with Awesome Aweful Powers which they are fighting the use of to stay human. Take Keary’s character, on the surface it just another Ninja….but come combat the “worm” that has been implanted in his chracter turns him into Hulk like monster with a laser cannon on his shoulder. So character powers where the bit I hadn’t read and needed a bit of quick referencing/working out during the game. I had a very humble GM moment when I realised how well everyone round the table had pulled together to help me run the game. The best bit was when players asked me to run the game again :)
Many thanks to Barry, Tony, Martin, Neil, Tim and Keary.

Sunday

Slot 4: Mediyfal: Bad King John pt 1. Murder at Theford Priory.
Yet another satifyingly full table of players, playing ex-soliders, christian mystics, pagan beserkers, pole axe wielding witches and the most pious woman in England. A game of two halves with the first being a lot of really good roleplaying as the players found their feet in medieval Thetford and then the second shorter half when they tracked down the murderer and a short but viscous dungeon crawl ensued. I was especially happy that the players groked the 4 page d100 varient I was using, which allowed me to have all the character info on two sides of A4 and that they took to the weird fantasy 13th C England like ducks to water :)
My thanks go to Simon, Helen, Andrew, Richard, Keith and Simon H.

Maximum thanks to Elaine, Graham and Dom for organising and running, and to the rest of the attendees for making it such a lovely weekend :)

Mr Newt does 7 Hills

7 Hills was a laid back, but strangely perky con and everything I wanted out of my first con of the year, banishing the last of the winter blues. Paul and Graham had efficiently organised the con, which ran like clockwork and purred like a satisfied pussy cat 🙂

Friday Night
I arrived straight from work, courtesy of Guy Milner. Despite being stuck behind red lorry and driving through thick fog over the tops we would not be stopped. Quick check-in then food, booze n chat at the social. Perhaps bit too much booze, but ooooooooh the Bombardier was on form [For real ale lovers despite being a hotel the Garrison has a decent selection now]. Note to self: “can no longer drink like its my 20s”. Awesome to see friends old and new, but don’t ask me to remember what we talked about 😉

Saturday
After a typical but satisfactory Garrison full English with concessions to veggies breakfast it was time to game. I was expecting the lack of numbers compared to Furnace to really show, but everyone was up for it so their natural exuberance spilled out all over the place during the very quick opening speech by Dr Mitch.

Then on to game.

Sat Morning: Operation Mudbrick (The Company)
A game of two Johns (Ruddy & Ossoway) who along with the rest of Assault Group Maximum #5 hub nobbed with archaeologists from the British Museum, dug out ancient secrets in the Mesopotamian city of UR, and when confronted with the ‘strangeness’ at the heart of the adventure decided a tactical withdrawal was in order. Classic moment alone in the desert “Where is everyone?”. Great stuff. There was always a chance with this scenario it would turn into a bad Cthlulhu adventure, but the players helped me keep it on track for being a good little Ufology mystery, with the Company’s trademark Military action underpinning it. Which is exactly what I wanted. I’ll stop there since its a contender for a re-run at Furnace. Big thanks to the two Johns.

Sat afternoon: Out of Step (River of Heaven).
This was a “big ideas” type of sci-fi scenario and thanks to the players for running with it and making it work. The adventure is very much an ensemble piece, but I ran out of time to write up characters that I had originally intended to use who were tightly bonded to the adventure. So I used a group of pre-gens from one of John Ossoway’s scenarios, who had a very tight group relationship but no ties to the place were the adventure is set. Which meant part of the player’s entertainment was watching my face as I reacted unconsciously to them taking the adventure in different directions to what I had intended. John was also tickled by who the scenario went, which seeing as he created River of Heaven is a good thing for me.

Saturday evening: Zarth Wars (Crypts and Things).
This was me pulling inspiration from John Carter from Mars, Flash Gordon and even Prometheus (watch it with the attitude that the characters are a typical D&D group and you’ll get where I’m coming from). There’s always a chance with OSR stuff that players won’t take to the setting assumptions or nature of the rules, but Alex, Andrew and Richard took it and ran it out of the ball park. A game that was never in danger of dragging and had some excellent fun Roleplaying. It will definitely get a write up and be published in the near future 🙂

Post gaming there was more chat and booze, and perhaps a bit too late to bed.

Because…..

Sunday
…I was spent, so I had a nice restful morning pawing though my pressies from Patriot Games (who were nice enough to run a stall, even though the number of customers was so small), before gleefully floating back over the hills with John O back to the ample bosom of my family unit.

Definitely up for it again next year. Well done organisers and attendees for such an Awesome con so full of Win!

Furnace 2013 a big box of FUN!

I’ve done 7 out of 8 Furnaces, missed one due to birth of Newtlet #2 did 1-3 as Games Tzar, and its all now so familiar its like a day or two before I turn up a big box of fun with the Furnace logo materialises in the air before me with a big red button on its side marked “Fun”. I press it then I’m pulled into a vortex of last minute printing off, gathering of books, dice and clothes and then off with my designated driver (the sublime Mr Guy Milner) from the wilds of Oldham via the beautiful bleak of the Pennines to the urban hillplex of Hillsborough in Sheffield where the venue The Garrison hotel sits proud on a hill.

Friday
Slot 0. A Game of BEEEEEERs!
Arrived in good time for once and after booking in at the Garrison it was time for an evening of chat after food. A feeeeeeew too many beers, but nothing the Gods of Gaming wouldn’t let me get away with (well until I got home and the adrenaline wore off 😉 ).

Saturday
Mmmmn Breakfast was a bit slow arriving,  We sauntered down at 8:15 to find the breakfast room well packed, and the kitchen was struggling to fulfil orders.  Good chat with AndrewW and the GowBear as we waited.

Slot 1. The Company: Project Camphor
Fast furious and D100 🙂  This was everything I had hoped for. Kinda Call of Duty the RPG. A fast moving thriller, with twists, that thundered noisily (with stealthy bits) to a satisfying ending.
Big thanks to the players: Barry, Martin, Jemma, Michael, Andy and Tony

Then PIE TIME! courtesy of the annual pilgrimage to Morrisons across the parade ground.

Slot 2. Project Darklight: Take me to the Moon.
Project Darklight is my Wordplay powered Cyberpunk game. It works on three levels. First its a straight forward Punks in the Sprawl game (think Cyberpunk 2020). Then it opens up into a Punks in Space game as the players encounter some of the more out there aspects of the setting (23rd Century with officially no FTL or nano-ware, but it gradually opens up that the Corps are a bit more advanced technologically). Finally it all could go a bit over the top gonzo as the deeper secrets of the setting open up. Take me to the Moon is deliberately a Level 3 PD game, since I wanted to test if the game worked at this concept level, and the players really played along with it swimmingly (although there were some great moments of role-playing the utter shock and disbelief that the characters were feeling as they went ‘further down the rabbit hole’).  The ending caught me a bit on the hop. After an hour or so of relentless weirdness I felt a bit like the ending of 2001 where Dave touches the Monolith, but with the players indulgence I managed to pull it back. Thanks to Ravi, Andy, Richard, Keith, Jason and Garry for bringing it all to life so magnificently.

Slot 3. Warriors of the Dragon Empire
This is my ‘hack’ of my own game Monkey: The Journey to the West. When Baz announced that he was going to be running four slots of Dungeon Crawl Classics, I decided to drop my traditional OSR Saturday night game so not to clash. But part of me didn’t want to drop the Dungeon Bashing (I don’t crawl) action and I’ve wanted to use Monkey to power a more straight forward Wuxia Kung Fu heroes game for some time now. So why not combine the two? Hence this ‘hack’. As well as rules for mortal characters Warriors WDE has a more striaghtforward central card mechanic, which I’ll be writting up for Monkey and making avialble for free. Pig Faced demons and Serpent men were fought as the Underworld beneath the 23rd Emperor’s tomb was explored and Bad Monkey was stopped in his nefarious plot to steal forbidden lore.  Thanks to Barry, Tony, Martin, Jules, Steve(?) and Another who’s name I’ve forgotten (bad Newt!), for bringing the Kung Fu action and graciously allowing me to finish the game early as I was beginning to flag.

Sunday
Its official Furnaceers break the Garrison’s breakfast system! Spotted by Elaine on the wall by the kitchen: “Furnace Gamers will all come down all at once 35 at a time!” 😀 Lesson learnt from day before we got the 8 before the rush and delay.

Slot 4. Angry Ducks
I was showing the new lovely OpenQuest 2 full colour hardcover off, so it made sense to run a game of it. I wanted to inject a bit of fun since I know from experience its all getting a bit fuzzy by Sunday Morning. So into the culturally rich milieu of Duck Swamp, with its detailed culture, myths and religions, came the intelligent Ducks of the title (the player characters) pig faced orcs, lost human catapults and other fantastic elements inspired by my four year old son’s obsession with the tablet game Angry Birds. It worked swimmingly. It could have been so badly a crass comedy game (and it did have elements of that), but it also had the grit of old school RQ (streamlined by OQ’s modern approach to that hoary old ruleset) which got me buzzing 🙂

Lunch = MOAR PIE! Thank choo Mr Morrison 🙂

Slot 5 Slack time
After running 4 games back to back time for my traditional lazy Sunday afternoon. Chatted about the state of the industry with Jim from Patriot games, enlightening as usual 😉

Then humped the remaining stock from the D101 Magic stall which popped up on my table between games. The stall had done very well, since I had brought a modest amount of everything (no more than 5 of each item was the rule). Sold about half which is a nice lump sum into the D101 bank account 🙂

Had a fantastic time. Lovely to see all the familiar faces and get to meet some new people 🙂

Big thanks as ever to the committee: Elaine, Graham and Dom.

Here’s to 2014! 🙂

Knuckling under

Conpulsion 2013 was fantastic, and while I was only able to stay one day fully the mad awesome fun I had Friday-Sat means that this going to be my annual “break out of Winter” con. Hats off to Phil Harris and Greggor Hutton for refining last years format and taking it forward. Cast solid gold recommend from me 🙂

One of the highlights of Conpulsion was Friday night when I got to sit down with almost the full membership of the Collective Endeavour. I’ve spent the last year or so in a mental locked box of confusion about where D101 is going, so it was glad to get more than a few things straightened out from these chaps who have a fair weight of publishing experience behind them.

Unfortunately Conpulsion was cut short by issues at home and I’m gutted my planned visit to UK Games Expo (which is on like now) fell victim to this as well. With the house extension done I was hoping for things to return to ‘normal’. I’m now once again rolling with the changes and fitting D101 alongside that, which is a more realistic way of looking at things.

I’m now in a period that I’m firming up D101. First order of the day is working solid on the games that have to go out. OpenQuest 2 is the absolute priority, with River of Heaven coming next. Getting better at business is also a big aim. Getting a web store up and running for direct sales (I’ve still got a pile of stock from last years Continuum!) and making print editions available at Drivethrough for a start.

This and getting my home group back up and going for playtesting and fun are my priorities until I hit the last quarter of the year where I get to be out and about again. Furnace in Sheffield Oct 19-20 is up first (if you haven’t signed up yet, get in now last ten or so places last I looked) , this is more about me kicking back running games. Its followed by Dragonmeet in London on 7th December, where I’ll be in full sales mode with the D101 stall 🙂