Spaghetti Conjunction is a fine one day convention in Birmingham, put together by the stalwarts of the local scene Pookie and Simon Burley. I’ve been to most of them, but realised I hadn’t mentioned them here. Since the most recent (2B) was held just this weekend, I thought I’d rectify that situation.
Taking lots of inspiration from the excellent Concrete Cow in Milton Keynes, Spaghetti Conjunction uses a tom-bola ticket based signup that reverses order between morning and aftenoon sessions. This means everybody has a good chance of signing up to the game they want (and newbies to the con get a golden ticket to pick one game in one slot, which is a nice touch).
As a small convention of about thirty to forty people, it features a fine variety of games. From D&D to Dead of Night, so whatever your RPG tastes there’s something for you. I played one of Neil Smith’s Gloranthan Heroquest scenarios in the morning, which was a great little tale of a peace process between two rival tribes that goes wrong and revolves neatly around the conflicting agendas of the characters. In the afternoon I played a small suburban horror scenario Lamp Posts In Bloom, run by Robin Poole, which I later learned was written by Scott Dorward (an excellent scenario writer friend of mine who also happened to edit The Queen’s Men).
One of the nice things about the convention is the raffle, which thanks to the industry folks involved attracts a lot of good prizes. So you’ve a good chance of winning a giant Zweihander hardback. The raffle also raises money for the local charity of Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where any profits over the cost of running the con also go.
So as a convention Spaghetti Conjunction offers a lot in a one day package, and if like me you’re local then attending is an easy yes. It’s not without a few issues though. The venue is Geek Retreat, and as a cafe it does a good line in teas, coffees and sweets, but the food is mostly of the bland burger or nachos variety. Given the many amazing food places in Brum city centre, you might want to decamp for food, but the con only get the venue on the assumption people will buy lots of food and drink, so that puts you in an awkward position. The venue is also beginning to start to strain under the numbers attending the con, which means the upstairs get a bit stuffy around midday. However, too many people is a nice problem for any con to have only a few years in and these are minor quibbles over what is a wonderful little one day convention that you should definitely go to if you are in the West Midlands.
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?
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.
Continue reading “UK Games Expo : Anatomy of a convention”
Next week I’ll be heading stateside to that Mecca of gaming GenCon Indianapolis!
I’ll be feverishly demoing and selling my wares with the Play Collective (booth 2039). The Collective are an enthusiastic group of designers who have a passion for self-publishing, including: Vincent Baker, Joshua A.C. Newman, Robert Bohl , Emily Care Boss , Judd Karlman , Tony Lower-Basch , Elizabeth Shoemaker and Malcolm Craig . These are some of my favourite designers, so it’s really great to be joining them!
The booth is also partnered with the Ashcan Front. Here you’ll find some late-playtest games looking for enthusiastic and constructive feedback.
As ever I’ll have Covenant on sale, grab me if you want a demo or just to chat about the game and where it came from. I’ll also have a limited number of copies of Pulp! which is ready for fast and furious action!
The last weekend in May/first in June is the second outing for UK Games Expo. Birmingham hasn’t had a big con for a while, so last year’s was definitely a welcome arrival. Expo covers all kinds of games from RPGs and miniatures through to board games and cards. It’s notable for the effort the organisers put into outreach, doing lots of work to get kids and families in. Hopefully there’ll be some crossover into the RPG arena there, they seem to have taken onboard last years comments about the RPGs being hidden away in the basement.
I’ll be running two games, which you can sign up for here. A Covenant taster and a Lost Gods preview. Both will be running start games, so expect to turn up with nothing and then do zero to game in 10 minutes. RPG sessions do cost £2 to book, so I’ll be busting a gut to make it worth your pennies. With luck I’ll also have some freebies…
When I’m not running stuff I’ll be found on the Collective Endeavour Stand, where you can also see a range of UK Smallpress games including some new faces. Keep a look out for the Revenge of the B Movie card game from Iain McAllister and Neil Gow’s Napoleonic story game Duty & Honour.
For myself, I’ll have nothing new to sell, but will have an early version of Lost Gods to show off and a near complete version of my miniatures skirmish game Pulp!