Convention Report – Tentacles 2004

Convention Report: Tentacles 2004By Darran Sims

Castle Stahleck, Germany 28th – 31st May 2004

What can I say about this con? Words do not come easy as this con is so good, the atmosphere is so friendly and the location is fantastic. I cannot do it justice.

First of all I need to thank the organiser Fabian Kuechler and the rest of his crew for such a well arranged and planned event. It was through their efforts that the event had such a great ambience. The attitude was laid back and friendly, none of the shouting or rushing around that is so pertinent at other gaming conventions. Instead of a tight, rigid timetabled event, Tentacles is more like a perfect family gathering where you are free to play games if you want or just have a drink a chat with the other attendees.

The convention is held in an old but beautiful castle perched above the Rhine river valley. The exterior is craggy stonewalls, grey slate roofs and fantastic woodwork; the interior however has been newly renovated with a modern flourish. The rooms have bunk beds and are clean; the bathrooms are tiled and are functional with shower cubicles, separate WCs and plenty of washbasins.

The guests at Tentacles were also of a high calibre. Unfortunately Greg Stafford was unable to attend this year but the other guests certainly made up for it.

Sandy Petersen brought his whole family along [which was an on-going theme of the con] and ran an excellent Freeform ‘Evil High Priest’. He was also present doing some Call of Cthulhu games. There was even a ‘Horror Lottery’ for players to go through a masterclass game with Sandy as the Keeper.

John Hughes and Michael O’Brien [MOB], two fine Antipodeans brought great humour along with them especially when running their ‘Bad Boon Rising/Beak No Evil’ game. I played in this and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Playing Ducks is fun!

Both also played in the Freeform ‘Harem Nights’: MOB was the eevil and powerful Astamanyx and John played the high priest ‘Holy Moley’ until his character was killed. After that he played an incredible zombie admiral seeking to destroy the Red Ravaal played by Ingo. Ingo wanted to parley and question the zombie admiral but unfortunately zombies do not parley! MOB looked like the King of United Arab Emirates, which is where he is now living.

John also delivered some excellent seminars with M$ PowerPoint presentations on screen about the Far Point and more stuff about WhiteWall from the new Yahoo group of the same name.

John also lead the Heortling poetry event with many a cattle boast and Orlanthi skalds coming out of the woodwork.

Lawrence Whitaker, fellow Continuum conspirator, held his ‘Loz Reads’ event where he reads from his collected works. He also ran another segment of the Hawkmoon ‘Straw Dogs’ campaign. Loz also played in ‘Harem Nights’. His little blue dog [a Doogle slipper] was a constant sight during the game.

Simon Bray, fellow Steve Jackson Games ‘Man in Black’ demonstrator and RHQN member, ran the Tentacles Munchkin Tournament along with me. A successful tournament with 17 international players in all. Several players were new to Munchkin but it didn’t take us long to get them stabbing their fellow players in the back! [Figurative speaking of course!]. It was gratifying to see the players buying the game at the Pegasus game store at the castle afterwards.

Simon also ran a RHQN HeroQuest game, his Char-Un homeland game. He had six old RuneQuest Grognards players and he got them to generate their own characters. Most of them chose to play Entertainers instead of the usual Warriors or Nomads. The game got very noisy with throat singing and one player constantly calling the fierce Char-Un ‘Karen’ instead. I wouldn’t have mind so much but I was trying to run my ‘Dark Heart of the Dragon Lands’ game in the same room!

‘Harem Nights’ was Simon’s Freeform game played on Sunday afternoon. There was a fantastic turn out of players, most in Costume, as Simon had to write in some more characters hours before the actual game. I had a marvellous character to play: ‘Creotus- the Jewel Chained’, the richest man of all Fonrit. I paraded around in my golden costume trying to kill the Red Ravaal by any means necessary, assassins, killer slaves, sending allies against him, and even sending my own fleet after him but he managed to evade me at every turn. I did like my character especially the gathering gold bit. I even had the immortal lines delivered to me: ‘Can I have my penis back?’

David Dunham, creator of the computer game ‘King of Dragon Pass’, brought along some of the original artwork from the game. David ran some HeroQuest games but unfortunately due to event clashes I was unable to attend any.

Steffen Schuette and Wolfgang Schiemichen were the guests for the German attendees. As my German is atrocious I do not know what they did but no doubt it was some good stuff.

I had great fun at this convention and seemed to be doing more gaming as well. It was good to catch up with people I had seen at other conventions and chat to them about almost anything, though I do blame the German ‘Alt’ Beer for that,

My RHQN game on Saturday night went very well even though I had only two players. This wasn’t a problem though as the players, Philip Hibbs and Robin Mitra had an excellent time and made me enjoy the game as well. My only regret was not being able to run my second RHQN game on the Sunday due to time constraints.

Other notables that need mentioning are:

Carl Pates for stepping into the role of ‘His Holy Munificence Archidomides the Heartless and Openhanded, The Great Tond’ a character that was original intended for Nick Brooke. He did a fantastic job with such a complex character.

Nick Brooke was unable to attend due to some unseen family predicaments. We wish him and his family all the best.

Rick Meints did another excellent job as the auctioneer and his presence in the games during the weekend added that much needed little bit of class. Especially noted was his stint as GM in Harem Nights.

Colin ‘slave’ Driver did an outstanding job as GM in Harem Nights and did some canny bidding during the auction to win an embroidered Tentacles polo shirt.

Baz Hoftiljzer for GM’ing ‘Harem Nights’ and having to deal with all those little bits of paper and all the cards in the ‘temple’ at the base of the tower [of almost certain Doom].

Ingo Tschinke as Red Ravaal in Harem Nights and donating the prizes for the con from Tradetalk.

André Jarosch for manning the Tradetalk stand for what appeared the whole of the con.

Lewis Jardine did plenty of chewing scenery in the Harem Nights Freeform as Jelly-Belly. And his Gold Helmet he wore in the Mostali Freeform was … urmm … very fetching?

David Scott for calling the Char-Un ‘Karen’ and bringing an element of fun to all the games he was in.

Dan Barker for his throat singing and just for being a great mate.

Sean Varney made us laugh with his one-man ping-pong game.

Thanks goes to Issaries and the UnspokenWord for the prizes they donated.

So in conclusion thanks again to Fabian and his crew in the ‘Infoshrine’ so such a wonderful convention. Long may it last for I will definitely be going again next year.

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