Terry Pratchett’s Rules of Life

Today I saw with great sadness that one of my favourite authors, Sir Terry Pratchett, had passed away.

To say that he was a massive influence on my teenage years is something of an understatement. His books kept me sane when I moved from a bustling metropolitan area to a remote corner of England. I eagerly awaited each new volume, from about the publication of Mort onwards I devoured his output, with the assistance of the local library.

I was lucky, when I was 17 he visited my school. He gave a talk at the library, but also did a small session with a number of students keen on writing and his work. He told anecdotes about his time as a local reporter, and how those skills helped him as a writer. He told us about the time, during the great D&D scare of the 80s, he ran a roleplaying game for a group of 70-year old grannies to show them how it was harmless entertainment. He was inspiring, insightful and patient, even when we all wanted 20-odd books signing because we were stupidly obsessive teenage geeks.

He did it all for a reasonable donation to the campaign to save the orang-utans.

Towards the end of the event we mentioned we were producing a newspaper for our year’s graduation and would he write some wise words for us. He did, and what he wrote in my hastily proffered notebook I still have today. A scan of it is shown below, it seems appropriate to share his rules of life with others on this sad occasion:

Rules of life: 1 - never trust a dog with orange eyebrows. 2 - consider you may be wrong. 3 - there is such a thing as too much cheese. 4 - Duck!

He will be missed. My thoughts are with his friends and family.

“A man is not dead while his name is still spoken”

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Nerdinburgh – the convivial convention

Last weekend I went to Edinburgh for the small, but perfectly formed convention, Nerdinburgh. Organised by Per Fisher, the con squeezed a lot of cool gaming, drinking and food into three short days.

The venue was The Old Observatory House, a wonderously decorated victorian pile at the top of one of Edinburgh’s hills. Amazing view, great architecture, surprisingly cheap in mid October… It also has some rooms ideal for gaming (big tables) and no so ideal (really weird acoustics). Plus Edinburgh’s best off license is very near by!

We managed to cram in four big games and a host of smaller ones. Roleplaying wise, I managed to play Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, Mechaton, Remember Tomorrow and ran The Agency. I also played Cambria and some Bang!

The game of The Agency I ran involved a dangerous group of 1960s science clowns and a weaponised giraffe. Much more gonzo than usual, but the game was hysterically funny and the group really grasped the idea that the game is a homage to 1960s TV, dodgy sets and all! Plus it descended in a pun-fest of epic proportions.

Do was fun, our game was light hearted and vaguely steampunk anime, though the non-roleplayingness of it was difficult for people, I think. We had some lovely imagery though, as our young flying pilgrims tried to help people and avoid getting in trouble. The second of our stories felt a lot more coherent than the first. Definitely a game that needs replaying.

Remember Tomorrow was a gritty cyberpunk tale of a flooded London, a broken family and a data courier with the Chief Inspector’s memory. A perfect little system for anything noir.

Mechaton was a game of giant fighty robot lego. What more needs said?

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UK Games Expo : Anatomy of a convention

This last weekend I attended the 5th UK Games Expo in Birmingham (my local convention!) A couple of thousand people playing board games, card games and RPGs. I was joined by Andrew Kenrick, Iain McAllister and Marku and Eero Tuovinen on a booth full of Indie RPGs.

I’ve been going since the convention started and each year has been bigger and better. I though it would be worth nailing down exactly why this convention goes from strength to strength, from my perceptions at least, and what it might be able to improve.

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The Pulp Miniatures List

Where to get figures for Pulp!? That’s a question I get asked. Fortunately there’s a fair few places you can get some pulpy goodness in miniatures from online.

Obviously my favourites are the Copplestone Castings range of High Adventure and Back of Beyond. You’ve got some great armed archaeologists, assorted dinosaurs, explorers and yetis. Plus the Gangsters range give you thugs and guys with tommy guns. Mark’s a nice guy too, so deserves your custom.

Another recent discovery is the Artizan Designs collection of Thrilling Tales minis. There’s a great collection of aviators, police, cultists, nefarious villains and even some suitably nasty looking robots. Personally I particularly like the Sky Pirates.

Some of the RAFM Cthulhu miniatures have a suitably pulpy feel. Some of the sculpts are a bit cartoonish for my liking though.

Pulp figures produce a variety of options too. Again, some dodgy sculpts, but they have some unique options like the US Rocket Corps and Agents of Justice that should tempt you.

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