Convention Report Consternation 2005

Convention Report Consternation 2005By Darran Sims

Friday 12th to Sunday 14th August 2005,
New Hall, Cambridge.

I have just got back from Consternation. I will give you my thoughts on this con, as it is the mirror-con of Continuum.

The rooms themselves were clean and modest. On a par with Digby I suppose. Two clean towels and a cleaning kit [shampoo, shower gel,shower cap, soap & shoe shine] were on the bed on arrival and the room was cleaned again Saturday morning but not Sunday morning.

The venue was nice [lots of artwork on the walls] but did have a lack of gaming rooms; most was done in the main corridor. Other rooms for playing were the ‘Real Ale Bar’, the ‘Video Room’, the uni bar,the ‘Fronde Room’ [that was hidden in the bowels of the building],and the ‘Ante Room’. Registration and game sign-up took place in the entrance foyer and many of the rooms [such as the Long Room, AnteRoom and the Council room] are located off the foyer so was a good meeting place.

The Opening/Closing ceremonies and the panels took place in the ‘LongRoom’, laid out with a top table for six and theatre style for 120. The opening ceremony had a total attendance of 23 people includingt he committee, guest of honour and attendees!

Freeforms were held in the large Council Room, there were three freeforms in total though one did run twice. One was a Cthulhu/Paranoia crossover called ‘Will All Elder Gods Report For Termination’ by Graham Walmsley [this ran twice, Friday & Saturday evenings], “After the Triumph” by Maddy Eid [this ran at last years Continuum] and ‘Gamers’ Wives’ by Steve & Paula Dempsey.

Attendance to the con did seem low. I didn’t get the exact numbers but membership as of 10th June was only 58. The Friday evening did seem very quiet though more gamers did sign up on the Saturday and some were paying membership on the door. A lot of them were local so were staying out of the venue.

The Guests of Honour were Allen Varney, writer of Paranoia XP andMarcus L. Rowland writer of Forgotten Futures and Diana: Warrior Princess. Both guests were interesting talkers and have extensive knowledge of role-playing and its history. Their panels were fairly well attended and they held many.

The programme book was a 20-page pamphlet, black and white on blue coloured paper. Had the usual information about the guests, the venue, the programme and the like. Production values were a little old fashioned [circa 1990 photocopy].

The were two dealers in the dealer room, ‘Reapers’ Revenge’,specialising in dice of all sorts and ‘Gamers’ of St. Neots selling new and second-hand games of all kinds.

I was intending to run three HeroQuest games but due to leaving earlier on the Sunday had to cancel one. I had a quiet Friday night,as there wasn’t much going on and hardly anyone about. Saturday morning I helped Gareth Owen with the MiB games. Didn’t do much myself, watched a game of Snits, played a demo game of cats then played a game of Snits. The games I played didn’t even amount to an hour.

Then at 14:00 on Saturday I ran my ‘Into the Trees’ scenario with seven players. Straight away they really got into the characters.The player who had Steffen on finding out his character was in love with a Babeester Gor axe woman and all the other comic moments justran with it. Role-playing it up for all he was worth milking every hilarity and pun available. The rest of the group followed in the same vain. I have never laughed so much. All I had to do was lett hem get deeper and deeper into trouble. I hardly had to do a thing. The fact is that only one player had played HeroQuest before though quite a few had played RuneQuest in the past. Got six converts there as during wrap-up I got them flicking through the HeroQuest book. Total game length was just under five hours.

Saturday night seemed a little quieter as these gamers here for the day left. My game at 20:00 only had four sign-ups and Graham’s Pirate HeroQuest game only had one and he didn’t turn up. As Tom wanted to play in my game Graham agreed to join in to make the numbers up. We played my infamous `Dark Heart of the Dragon Lands’ again. It went well, the characters were completely mystified by the Dragonewts though they did manage to make peace with them in the end. Got some good feedback about the scenario that I will no doubt take into account. The game ran for four hours in total.

Sunday morning at 10:00 I played in Graham’s Conan ‘The Black Stones of Kovag-Re’ game that was fully signed up with six players. How ever he had two additional players turn up so Tom graciously bowed out leaving seven players. As Graham only had six characters written upI made up a suitable character on the fly; I came up with a Zamorianthief of very disreputable temperament and loved every minute of playing him. To set the mood Graham read a section from one of the Robert E. Howard’s stories and had the Conan theme music from the movies playing in the background. Nice touch!Despite having a lot of players Graham expertly gave each player the same amount of attention necessary. He was able to move from one character to another seamlessly without any favouritism. A grea tgame that ran for four hours though did seem longer!

Finished the convention playing ‘Zombies’ with Tom and Graham. The game lasted forever and didn’t seem to end, the game board was just full of the little plastic figures of zombies.

The convention ended with the committee standing down. The next person taking it over will be combining the BRS convention with theuni-cons. The convention in 2007 will be called ‘Re-Con-bination’.

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