Convention Report: Beer and Pretzels Gaming Weekend, UK (2004)

Convention Report: Beer and Pretzels Gaming Weekend 2004By Darran Sims

Burton and Trent May 2004

This is a delightful, friendly games weekend organised by Phil from Spirit Games also based in Burton. See: http://www.spiritgames.co.uk

Held in Burton’s Town Hall, which is a two-minute walk from the train station, it is a small convention with a nice relaxing and laid-back attitude; there’s no rushing about and no one shouting for you to get into games which is a welcome change. Although there are several role-playing games going on it caters for mainly card and board games as it has a large library of games that you can help yourself to and play for free during the convention. We had arrived slightly later than we intended and the registration desk told us that we had a few people already waiting to play HeroQuest so we quickly set up a table on the stage and put out our notices and book displays. After grabbing some pints [arrrh, fine Burton ale!] and speaking to follow MiB Eric Ridley briefly about his progress with his games, we got a game together. I decided to run my now infamous ‘Dark Heart of the Dragon Lands’ first as it always goes down well. The players that were waiting to play were: a long-time RuneQuest and Gloranthaphile, his girlfriend who hadn’t played a role-playing game before and was a little nervous, and a twelve-year old boy who was full of enthusiasm. Mick joined in as another player to make up the numbers. They chose their characters well as each seemed to fit with what they wanted to play. The game went well although it took me longer than usual to draw the players out of their shells and get them committed to their characters and the action. They were suitably confused and mystified by the plot but in the end each player was suggesting different possible consequences of their actions in the scenario. It was the first time that the players have actually ran away from the Fort instead of confronting the opposition at the very end and I have ran this scenario eight times before. The game lasted longer as well as it went over five hours so by the end of it I was a little tired so we just chilled in the bar for the rest of the evening catching up with some old acquaintances, playing some board games and then returning home late Saturday evening.

The Sunday went just as well. The three previous players from the Saturday game joined in again as they had enjoyed it and I had two more people wanting to play. One was an earlier acquaintance from other cons and demo games we had run and he had brought along his friend. I also had the opportunity to get my girlfriend to try and participate in the game as she would feel better and less intimidated playing with strangers. I ran ‘Dark Fall’ this time, as it is a good clan game that gets the players involved in sorting out certain circumstances in Orlanthi society. It also allows them to participate in inter-clan raiding and some military manoeuvres with extensive magic use. They also get scared silly when they discover they are trapped in a crypt with a sealed metal coffin at sunset! Everyone seemed to enjoy it and they were more confident in play. This time the game’s pace was a little quicker so it only lasted just over four hours and I did get everyone involved in the scenario. At the end I gave out the prizes, ‘Glorantha Visions’ for everyone who played,‘Glorantha: Introduction to the HeroWars’ to the two newcomers, and ‘Wyrms Footprints’ to the player who contributed most to the game and helped his fellow players.

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