Convention Report Continuum 2006

Convention Report Continuum 2006 By Greg Stafford

As always, this report begins with a lament about jet lag. It is 2:30AM and I have risen from sleep as if it is morning. Which it is, in England. Late morning, in fact-later than I’d ever slept there. So it goes. Biology always wins. It’ll take me a week or more to readjust, and in the meantime, I get to write in the dark, silent night time.

I’ve not been to UK for at least four years, and probably more. I’d be able to tell if I always wrote my convention reports, but my inconsistency makes my reference sources unreliable for completeness. (ain’t that my life story!?) I do know I missed the last UK con, since I was in Mexico trying out a new career.

So I had been looking forward to this one with eagerness. The convention committee proved to be of superior generosity in also paying the way for my wife Suzanne, which always enhances my pleasure and ease. I’d also planned some sideline travels afterwards to visit some English friends that I’d not seen for years.

We arrived at Heathrow at the all reasonable hour of 1:30 PM. We were met by Loz there, and went to his house in Hertford. Which we learned was pronounced Hartford. On Thursday we drove to the convention, accompanied by Loz’s son Harry, who was suitably amped up on a bag of jelly bellies that we gave him, much to the delight of his dentist and despair of his parents. At the con site, in Leicester (where Loz had attended university) we met with many other dignitaries and had the only chance to talk to them, especially to MOB and David Hall, who I’ve not seen in years. MOB, as you may know, is living in Abu Dhabi and reorganizing their educational system along Western lines, hobnobbing with the sheik and puffing on hookas with flavored tobacco. He honored us greatly with an absolutely tacky pink clock, shaped like a mosque, that rings the call to prayer twice a day with the most wonderful cacophonous recording (we removed the batteries). David Hall, demigod of the GTA, has moved to Australia and applied for citizenship there because the gaming is so much better than UK these days. (Just kidding). As usual, though, there wasn’t enough time to talk to everyone.

On Friday we had dinner with Paul Cockburn and his wife Elaine, who are some of our oldest friends in UK. Elaine’s in an educational PhD program because her bosses asked he to, and she intrigued us with tales of touring to exotic places like Cyprus as part of her education. Paul is still writing, and we discussed the old times when GW moved to Nottingham and he had to lay off most of the staff of White Dwarf; and of course, talked about the War of the Roses (England’s 2nd civil war.)

Then it was off to opening meeting The list of Guests of Honor was huge, including Rick Meints, high lord of Moon Design; Michael O’Brien, taking a break from his duties heading a women’s college in Abu Dhabi; Matt Sprange, president of Mongoose; Mark Galeotti, president of Firebird Productions and acquisitions editor for Moon Design; Sandy Petersen (who failed, but didn’t fumble, his roll to catch planes to get to the con); Charlie Krank, President of Chaosium, who didn’t barbecue for a change; Ken Rolston, former RQ czar and computer game designer, now retired to decadence and luxury in beautiful New Jersey and myself.

Additionally there were the official Friends of the Convention, “people who’ve helped the con in the past, have a deep-rooted association with its organization, or who’ve merited the title through their generosity and kindness.” This list included my wife Suzanne; Martin Hawley, David Scott, David Hall, Dave McAlistair, Dan Barker, Nick Brooke, Fabian Kuechler, Pittel, Russell Sims, Pete Nash, Steve Hatherley, Mike Mason, Oliver Dickinson and Jeff Richard.

It was a great site for new Gloranthan releases! Moon Design had Under The Red Moon, Imperial Lunar Handbook 2 for sale, at last!! Mongoose had the new edition of RuneQuest. Firebird Productions had Mythic Russia. I also had on hand copies for sale of The Middle Sea Empire and The Story of Sedenya. (These latter two will be available from Moon Design, shortly). Finally, there was the special auction item of The Durengard Scroll, by Jeff Richard and myself, which is a document of Hendriki history.

That evening I sat in on a panel to talk about 2nd Age Glorantha and the new RuneQuest schedule. Then later, I was the panel for a Pendragon discussion.

On Saturday I started the day with a typical greasy, heavy English cafeteria breakfast. I got to talk to Ken Rolston for some time, always a pleasure of course. I also got a chance to speak to Oliver Dickinson, who is always full of entertaining facts and information. He’s finishing up his next book on the post-palatial and early Iron Age Greece. Of course we all know this is the twelfth to eighth centuries BC,during the well-known “secondary products revolution.” He told me how they’ve dug up Lefkandi, a large and apparently important city of that era, heretofore unknown in literature or architecture. But most important was him telling me what to say if I’m ever sailing in the Aegean and the giant mermaid sister of Alexander the Great surfaces. You have to say it quickly, so remember this! You say, “Zee keh vasilevi!” which mean, “He lives and reigns!” Then she will leave you alone. Otherwise she’ll sink your ship, so don’t you forget!

I got a chance to speak with Sandy over lunch. This is always a real pleasure. Mostly it was chatting about WWII.

In the afternoon I ran a HeroQuest game. As usual I didn’t prepare anything for it, but catered to the desires of the players, all of whom were excellent at their play. They all had characters from one of the minor noble houses in the city of Nochet. They had only one death out of six players, and we finished the adventure with success for the house, which now knows how to grow a new wine grape, as well as their own traditional fizzy grapes.

I didn’t play in any freeform, being scheduled for other events. A couple were run, including one based on Firefly, and Return to Griffin Mountain. Also notable was a larpish pirate-themed drinking game that incapacitated a large number of attendees and provoked one of the humorous incidents. At one point in the evening of this day, though, a helicopter was seen hovering overhead and Loz saw a bobby walking around. He asked if there was a problem, because there was a serious drinking version of a pirate game going on across the street. “Oh, we know about those wankers,” said the cop, “They’re all waving swords at the helicopter.” But they were looking for a car thief/joy rider.

Glory Geeks sponsored an ongoing miniature war game each day that had several people on each side. It was a battle between the Lunars and Sartarites set in Dwarf Run beneath a delightful cliff face made by Gregory Privat. I didn’t play it, though I’ve liked to have done so. The figures were great, and, I understand, the game quick to learn, easy to play, and fun whether one won or lost.

I really enjoyed the panel by Dr. Moose about “RPG and spirituality.” It was a different take than I’d have put on things, and though I’d have liked to discuss this further in the bar afterwards, we listened instead to Mark Galeotti’s outrageous tales of how Soviets get their booze. Like base commanders trying to have a special type of plane on their base that has a nose full of alcohol, often tapped, and which they call the “delicatessen.” Or, more horribly, that they take shoe polish and put it on bread, then toast it. The alcohol soaks into the bread, they scrape the black crust off the top and eat it. Yikes! That’s as hard core as some of those Englishmen, who seem to take the convention opportunity to get shitfaced enough to pass out in the hallways.

On Sunday I again started the day with a typical greasy, heavy English cafeteria breakfast. I had gotten Oliver and Stuart Swift to test play a new boardgame, King of Sartar, that is being developed but didn’t get to oversee it because I was abruptly called to be the panel on upcoming Moon Design products whose scheduling had confused everyone. I wasn’t scheduled to be on the panel at all, and so wasn’t up to date on these facts, but wasn’t a complete idiot thanks to David Scott, who was in the audience and had just spoken to Rick about his plans.

That afternoon I GM’d a game of Pendragon. Again, I just winged it, but this time by skipping around in my copy of the Great Pendragon Campaign and stringing together several scenarios into one longer adventure. Again, the players were first class and a great time was had by all.

In the evening I had a reading from Ten Women Well Loved sponsored by the Friends of Glorantha. One chapter in an hour. About a thousand words, where Harmast at last closes down his initiatory rites and settles down with a wife in the Savage Forest of the Heortling Plateau.

This was followed by a Saurintology session, wherein the participants channeled their former dinosaurs selves. In the competition Oliver Dickinson would have won, except there was a late-coming ringer, Gregory Privat, whose pteranadon self overcame Oliver’s superb Triceratops.

Then was the auction, where the convention sold a special collector’s edition of the Durengard Scroll, another unique special item available only there at the con. Oh yea, another rarity for sale there was a copy of Gorp #3, the infamous RQ fanzine from the dawn of RPG history, full of fabulous articles.

Then the closing ceremony, with many thanks to all involved, and a final bash at the bar to end the convention with as much alcohol and as little consciousness as possible. Fortunately, I am too old to be totally stupid, and so I was almost able to function the next day as we said goodbye to everyone. Thanks to Carl Pates, who gave us a ride to Nottingham where Suzanne and I began the vacation part of our trip.

Related Pages