Convention Report – GenCon UK 2003

Convention Report: GenCon UK 2003By Mich Rowe

London Olympia 2 exhibition centre April 03

Hi folks,

As you know Darran, Newt, and I have spent Easter at Gencon Uk, demoing Heroquest. Four days of drink, sleep deprevation, drink, eating, drink, bargain hunting, drink, oh and a bit demoing as well. It was excellent, and I particularly want to thank Newt and Eurolog for organising everything so all Darran and I had to do was turn up, Darran for continuing to ply me with alcohol when my meagre cash ran out. I’d thank one of the players too, who supplied me with tinnies one evening when I was not playing in any games, unfortunately he supplied so many I’ve forgot his name.

The hotel was good, nice large rooms, colour TV, en suite bathroom, breakfast in bed. A bit of a change from the student digs at Leicester. Its only drawback was Darran’s snoring, I never realised he’d swallowed a bullroarer. It was a twenty minute walk from the hotel to get to Olympia, fortunately it didn’t rain too much so wasn’t a problem.

The event venue was Olympia 2. This is a large conference hall somewhere in London (not exactly sure where, but it was easy to get to on the underground). It consisted of flour floors, the basement and ground levels being taken up by CCG competitions and networked computer gamimg. The 2nd floor held the trade stands, and the 3rd floor held the role playing events.

I spent most of my time on this floor (or in the pub), but we did go on a scouting mission around the trade stands to see what Hero Wars and RQ goodies we could pick up. We saw quite a few of the old boxed sets, but their prices were extortionate, Borderlands was £80, Gateway Bestiary and Foes were £25 each. The one true bargain was the Thieves World boxed set and Companion which was initially £25, but on the last day Darran got it half price, a mere £12 for a very good city supplement.

As to the gaming, each of us were scheduled to run 8 sessions, unfortunately a mix up by the Gen Con organisers meant that a few of the games didn’t take place (because they didnt give out any tickets for the sessions in question). so half the events didn’t happen.

Its a pity because those that did take place were pretty well
attended. Each game had at least 5 players (where the numbers were small Darran and I filled in the spaces to make a full group). The players were mostly made up of people of had bought Hero Wars but not got their heads around the rules, old RQ2/3 players who had heard of Hero Wars and wanted to try it out, or those who were completely new to the system and the game world. We had no active Hero Wars players, but these were never our intended target anyway

I ran ‘A Hanging and Hunting’ and ‘Destors Fort’, episodes from our campaign. I’ve been gamemastering/narrating in glorantha for twenty years plus, but this is the first time I’ve tried demoing gloranthan games to strangers. So I was a bit nervous as to what style of game to play and how Gloranthan to make the games.

To get the gloranthan feel I placed the micro myths on each hero sheet, for the players to use or ignore as they wished. These included cut down versions of those in the yahoo group files section. I didnt tell them they were important, in fact I didnt even mention them I just gave them plenty of time to read the sheet before we began play. Then as they went through the story the events occurred similar to the myths, they could use them as hints. It was incredible that when they got to part of the story where their myth or ritual was useful they all got it. There eyes shone and they were ‘illuminated’, more was going on than I was actually saying and they then used the myth or ritual to develop the story themselves. They even found places to use the myths I hadn’t thought of, which to my mind was brilliant.

AFAIK everyone enjoyed themselves, I certainly did. Importantly, We all made the players comfortable. They laughed, fought, and looked on in horror at the appropriate moments. It was interesting to see how the story changed with different players. In one session of Destors Fort Filbar criticalled his feeling in crack roll and pulled out
Palashee’s Longaxe instead of Jaram’s Staff. They then opened the fort and returned to the village where Hendrakos the king said “That’s my father’s staff, It can only be wielded by the king, give it to me”. Filbar replied “Hold on I’m weilding it, that means I’m the king” and promptly started to regale the onlookers with why they should choose him.

The feedback I got was totally positive. I thought the magic system might be difficult to get across, but after I described what happened when a player cast the first magic spell, they were off and running, each making up effects from those listed for their character. I’ve got to say it was a buzz to see the eyes of players unfamiliar with the system, suddenly light up when they realised how simple and how powerful the system is.

It made my day and I think it made their day too, to paraphrase one of the players. “Wow. I’ve been trying to understand the rules for months, and you’ve made them understandable in two minutes”. This was a bit of an ego trip and bodes well for the release of Heroquest, where the rules are far clearer.

We even had one ardent RQ2er, who regaled the group with the sad story of Glorantha’s fall from grace via RQ3 and Hero Wars, and how crap these later games were. It looked like he was going to be a thorn in the side of a decent game, but by the end of the game he was the most enthusiactic among them. He even came back to join in a second session

All those that spoke to me afterwards said that they like the system and were going buy Heroquest in June. Good news me thinks. Thus my overall feeling is that the hero wars sessions were a great success. Would I do it again? You bet!

Hopefully, by the time of the next major con, and if Newt’s plans come together we’ll have more narrators and more sessions to inspire even more newbies to the ways of Glorantha and Hero Quest.

Cheers,
Mick

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