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GenCon 2018

August 21, 2018
Me launching Capharnaum

Launching the Capharnaum RPG!

Now the jet-lag has gone, I realise I haven’t yet written about GenCon 2018. It was fab. 🙂 My third time, and the best so far, I had such an awesome week in Indy, meeting up with old friends and making new ones. I returned exhausted yet utterly recharged, fired up with projects for the coming year.

This was my “Studio Deadcrows” GenCon. I was there repping Mindjammer Press, but also this time the French RPG company Studio Deadcrows of Montpellier, originators of our new Capharnaum RPG – which we were launching at GenCon! – and also the publishers of the French version of Mindjammer. They’re a dynamic bunch of gamers from the south of France, from a town where there’s a huge gaming community, and over the past 3 years we’ve been working increasingly closely together and having a blast. This year we made a joint expedition to GenCon, a pilgrimage to the source with a whole bunch of awesome meetings lined up.

I was travelling with three of the Deadcrows – Stephan Barat (Chief Crow), François Cedelle (co-author of Capharnaum), and Morgane Munns (translator of Mindjammer) – and we were staying in a house a stone’s throw from the con with arch-graphic artist and games designer Felix Mertikat and his team members Till and Christophe. This made a huge difference from staying in a GenCon hotel – we had a base to hang out in, play games, chat and decompress, and I think it went a long way to making this GenCon much more relaxed than my previous ones. It was nice to have a “home”.

The Full House 004

A full house – Mindjammer Press, Studio Deadcrows, and King Raccoon Games

GenCon itself started full-on on the Wednesday, with wall-to-wall meetings and a fab afternoon planning Chaosium writing projects with Jeff Richards, Jason Durall, Chris Spivey, Dan McCluskey, David Larkins, and Shel Kahn. It was my first time meeting Chris, Dan, David, and Shel, and it was a privilege to be surrounded by such creative force. It was also a special treat when Greg Stafford arrived and I finally got to meet the man who has had such a massive influence on my life – the creator, among so many other things, of the eternally fascinating world of Glorantha. I geeked out in a total fangirl moment as Greg the chief shaman inspired us all further still.

Chaosium Writers Meet

Chaosium Writers’ Meet

I spent a lot of time with Chaosium this convention – a lot of projects to discuss, including the Barbarian Town campaign I’m writing for the new RuneQuest and The Goddess Book project I’m going to be developing, editing, and doing at least some writing on – a scenario book presenting Glorantha as seen through the eyes of my dream-team of women authors. I can’t wait to see what we come up with. We presented both projects during the RuneQuest / Glorantha panel, moderated by Ellie Akers on the Friday morning, alongside a whole host of other projects by Robin Laws, Chris Klug, Jason and Jeff, which have me *so* excited.

RQ Glorantha panel 002

The RuneQuest Glorantha Panel

Hanging out with the Glorantha folks was a great opportunity to catch up with Neil Robinson, Rick Meintz, and MOB, to grab a couple of copies of Khan of Khans, and to get my comp copy of the fantastic new RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha signed by all the present luminaries, including Greg Stafford and Sandy Petersen. It was also a fab chance to catch up with the august Jim Lowder and talk Chaosium fiction, and with MOB about ArcanaCon in Melbourne next January, where I’m very excited to be guest of honour and looking forward to running a whole bunch of games and diving into the Australian RPG scene. Thanks for the great opportunity, MOB!

Describing GenCon is like trying to describe a whole world. So many encounters, so many moments. I spent several happy bouts at the Pelgrane Press booth, chatting with Simon Rogers and Cat Tobin, meeting the toweringly lovely Will Jobst, and of course basking in the incandescent mind-meld of Robin Laws and Ken Hite. I came away with copies of The Fall of Delta Green, Robin Laws’ The Book of Ants – An Investigator’s Guide to the Dreamlands, the Seven Wonders story games anthology, and #Feminism. I try to make a point of only making impulse purchases at conventions, and these were an instant hit with my brain in RPG ferment. I’ve been especially taken with Ken’s dedication in The Fall of Delta Green: “To Sarah – this is the end, my beautiful friend”. I love Ken to bits; I always feel like I’m in the presence of a fountainous guru, I come away laved and purified, yet also with the feeling of having taken part in an awesome ritual of creativity. I’m a Ken groupie, what can I say?

And while we’re on the subject of gurus, I also had the great pleasure of hunkering down for an hour with one of my fiction mentors, Howard Andrew Jones. Way back in the day of Starblazer Adventures and Mindjammer 1st edition, as editor of Black Gate magazine with John O’Neill, Howard was a supporter of my writing efforts, both in fiction and RPG, giving me perspicacious feedback and shrewd encouragement, including introducing me to literary agent Bob Mecoy. Howard is a scholar of the pulps, a specialist in the works of Harold Lamb, a mighty editor, and a fantastic novelist in his own right, and I’m honoured to call him a friend. He’s also editing the fiction periodical Tales from the Magician’s Skull from Goodman Games, for which he invited me to submit a swords & sorcery tale (an offer which of course I enthusiastically accepted!). In Howard’s gravity well I also dropped by at the Goodman Games booth, where I got the chance to finally meet in person Brad McDevitt, illustrator of Monsters & Magic, and was delighted to see reprints of beloved Judges Guild material and the oh-so-dear-to-me Metamorphosis Alpha (including new material!), and of course the extremely impressive range of supplements and scenarios for Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics. Those guys are where the fire of the OSR burns strong and true.

One of the big delights of GenCon 2018 was to finally introduce myself in person to the Flying Buffalo guys, publishers of course of Tunnels & Trolls, my first ever RPG, the one which got me into the entire hobby, and one which is still very close to my heart, especially now it’s been reborn in its new 8th edition as Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls. It was a thrill to shake the hands of Rick Loomis and Steve Crompton and thank them for their great work, and to talk about my own modest T&T project, “The Lair of the Leopard Empresses”, and how it might see the light of day (more on that in coming months, I hope!). It was a shame not to meet the legendary Ken St Andre and Liz Danforth, who weren’t at GenCon this year, but that gives me something to look forward to at future cons – I’ll remedy that! I came away with fresh new copies of Uncle Ugly’s Underground, the Agent of Death solo, and the English version of the Japanese magazine T&T Adventures. Lovely to see so much material still appearing for one of the oldest (and still highly innovative) RPGs.

Francois and Capharnaum 001

François Cedelle, co-author of Capharnaum

Most of my time at GenCon this year was spent on Chris Birch’s Modiphius Entertainment stand, where we were of course launching our brand new RPG Capharnaum – The Tales of the Dragon-Marked (originally published in French by the Deadcrows guys). This was a moment of great pride for me – I’d first conceived the project in 2009, we signed the deal several years ago, ran a kickstarter for it last November, and here it was at last in English, in gorgeous full-colour hardback. It was a double honour to have François Cedelle, co-author of the game, on hand for the signings, and we did some excellent sales and garnered some jaw-dropped feedback on what is perhaps the most beautiful book Mindjammer Press has published to date. Capharnaum – The Tales of the Dragon-Marked is already available in PDF from DriveThru, and is on pre-order right now at the Modiphius webstore right through to the 31st August, when hard copies start to ship.

Ennies 002

At the ENnies

The Modiphius booth was a whirl, of course – Thursday morning was a heady rush of sales, with the new Vampire 5th edition and a whole range of fine Modiphius products whistling off the shelves and tables. It was great to finally meet T.R. Knight at the Modiphius booth, and his daughters Emily and Rachel, and to hang out with Sam, Lloyd, Adam, and Josh, as we met head-on with a never-ending stream of enthusiastic gamers. We had a special treat Saturday night at the ENnies, when Chris invited the Deadcrows guys onto the Modiphius table, and we congratulated friends from Modiphius, Chaosium, Darker Hue Studios, and so many other publishers as they received their well-deserved honours.

Ennies 2018

Those ENnies winners

And so many other meetings and encounters. I was so chuffed to meet up with Jerry Grayson of Khepera Publishing again, author of the esteemed Hellas RPG, the new edition of Atlantis (which I’ve loved since the year dot), and now his new up and coming project Orun – Post-apotheosis Space Opera, which looks very exciting. Jerry is a fab guy, with an infectious enthusiasm, an inspiring presence in the RPG world with whom I feel a great Commonality.

Jerry Grayson

With Jerry Grayson

And I finally got the chance to meet John Snead, writer on Mindjammer, Aeon Trinity, and many other projects, and sit down for a productive hour planning future Mindjammer Press projects, and am delighted we’re going to be work together a whole lot more. Also to meet with Chris Helton, whose critical work at the Dorkland blog, Contessa, and elsewhere I respect enormously, and to see him ably ensconced with Sandy Petersen on the Petersen Games booth. And to meet in person Jason Woodburn – I can’t say face-to-face, as we’ve gamed on Skype together so many times, he from Norway, me from Normandy, linked by a tenuous vikingr spirit, finally clasping hands for a hug in Vineland!

Jason Woodburn

Hail and well met, Jason Woodburn!

I’d left my final Sunday at GenCon largely free for final catchups and impulse purchases, and ended up with at copy of the Bluebeard’s Bride RPG, meeting up with publisher Mark Diaz Truman and author Sarah Richardson of Magpie Games, as well as Monster of the Week from Evil Hat.

And suddenly GenCon was over. This time, I’d tried to pace myself; a good bit of exercise before leaving Normandy, and then an attempt to drink mostly water and eat mostly salad during the convention, meant that I’d survived to the end of Sunday in far better shape than I had done before. Returning to Normandy via JFK and Heathrow over the next few days, however, I crashed hard with the con crud over the mid-Atlantic, with the ever-faithful eastbound jet-lag to follow. None of that dimmed however the spectacular experience of the Best Four Days in Gaming, the return to the source of it all. I came home promising myself I’d be back next year. The past five years building Mindjammer Press had put GenCon temporarily out of reach; hopefully from here on that will change.

GenCon Swag 2018

The final GenCon 2018 haul…

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