Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2009

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion


To the 126th issue of The Guild Companion.

The Constitution Report

Part of my July was spent in Richmond, Virginia, USA, attending a conference to present a couple of papers on microscopy matters. I did not, in the end, have any opportunity to visit Mjolnir/ICE in Charlottesville or further afield to call upon Terry Amthor in person.

I presented my second paper on the Thursday morning (30th July), retrieved my poster at lunchtime and then raced to the airport. Flight delays meant a nervy wait on my plane to Philadelphia and a mad dash to catch my connection to London Gatwick. I arrived in the morning (31st July) of the Constitution convention with no significant sleep achieved on the plane and nothing gained either on the multi-hour coach trip to Cambridge. So after changing, getting something to eat, and giving some invading ants a good spraying with kitchen cleaner, it was off to the actual convention to help run it.

Friday saw a steady stream of attendees arrive. The most useful thing I achieved was to make our gaming guest of honour drink enough water to rehydrate himself - Sean Punch (GURPS Line Editor) was equally shattered after a flight from Montreal, but whereas I was merely exhausted, he was not feeling too well. Several glasses of water, some multivitamins and whatnot later, he's ready for action. I'm still exhausted. We shared a panel on "If We Write It, Will They Come?" where we discussed what is looked for by publishers and what prospective writers should be looking for in publishers. The former was about how to match up with publisher expectations on a project, the value of doing short projects first, and so forth. The latter was about avoiding publishers who have a track record of not paying freelancers or have a track record for messing freelancers around, and that prospective freelancers ought to seek advice if they have any doubts. I spent a portion of the rest of the evening as Duty Committee Member (DCM), ensuring that things went well across the four streams (gaming, sf, filk and Ars Magica Grand Tribunal) though there was little that needed intervention. Steph Swainston (fantasy guest of honour, author of The Year of Our War, etc.) mads a request that I catch her in the bar sometime and talk to her about microscopes. Games are played, filkers filk, and various folk end up in the bar making inroads into the nine firkins (72-pint barrels) of real ale and multiple boxes of cider that we've purchased. I go home and finally get some sleep.

Fortunately I'm not required to be on the 10am panel on "The Importance of Being Systematic" on Saturday, which was just as well because I slept through an hour and a half of my alarm clock. Panels ran like clockwork, people have lots of fun gaming, filking and just hanging out. A couple of chaps who will be publishing a new rpg (Gridlock) later this year turned up and I tried to ensure that they got advice on publishing ins and outs from Sean Punch, Phil Masters, the dice and accessories retailer Reapers Revenge, and even perhaps the odd nugget of wisdom from me. My afternoon was mostly DCM duty, but again, there were no crises. Two hundred plus people continued to have fun and it was all good. I managed to get to the dealer's room and added some Freeport and Thieves' World material to my collection as well as finding a bundle of old Spacemaster adventure modules (which will come in handy for future pdf reprints should we locate their authors) and some novels. Sean Punch had a successful question & answer session and managed not to reveal too many secrets. (And no, I'm not planning on circulating them. You had to be there.) Sean and I have a long and friendly chat about gaming industry issues in the evening. There was the possibility of a beer shortage so arrangements were made to buy in another firkin on Sunday morning.

Sunday, the last day of the convention, duly arrived. I was on a panel on "It's A Kind of Magic" where Sean Punch, Phil Masters and I rambled about magic and shared anecdotes on some of the peculiar emails we've received from people claiming to have special abilities, and then it was the auction. I avoided getting into a bidding war on Marcus Rowland's The Canal Priests of Mars (as the author intended, not as originally published back in the day) but did net a signed copy of GURPS Powers and several very out-of-print 7th Sea books. We had one minor crisis on the Sunday in that an attendee couple had left a box of games out on the "walkway" and these were nowhere to be found on Sunday. We appealed to the assembled members at the closing ceremony, the box was located, and we had two very happy and relieved attendees (and a serene DCM). The convention wound down, we took the four guests of honour out to dinner, and then back to our venue for rest and relaxation in the bar. In return for some book signing, I finally had the opportunity to chat to Steph about microscopes. (Reports from closing time at the bar indicated that there were only three pints of real ale left at half-past midnight.)

A very successful convention. There will be a successor roleplaying convention in 2011, which I'll be attending, though I will not be on the committee. After three tours of duty, I'm getting time off for good behaviour!

Apprentices of the Guild

Back in the 1990s, Old ICE had a demo team of superfans who ran games at conventions. The Crown Guard in tandem with ICE employees of that era made quite a splash with multi-session tournament games at all the major US conventions. They generated a buzz about the games and introduced new fans to the fun that was Rolemaster, MECCG and Silent Death. The Crown Guard vanished with old ICE.

In the modern era, there has been an attempt in the form of "the Order of the Iron Crown" to create a fan-organised demo network for Mjolnir aka New ICE. Unfortunately this has almost wholly stalled.

Yet there is a palpable need to introduce new people to the fun that is still Rolemaster and HARP. The people who are dedicated enough to attend conventions and give a new game a trial are the sort of people who frequently have a play group at home who could also be converted into new fans, if their representative is enthused by a con game. What's to be done?

Now there are scenarios in this venerable magazine's archives and in the three issues of the Guild Adventurer which are ideally suited for convention gaming. We can, however, go beyond that and create special adventures designed specifically for the needs of convention gaming.

The plan is as follows - we at the Guild will recruit a crack team of writers, playtesters and convention GMs to create, test and deliver convention games for HARP(SF) and Rolemaster/Spacemaster. In a secret location, we will build a series of interlinked adventures that can be run singly or as part of a series. These will be statted for HARP(SF) and Rolemaster/Spacemaster - so there'll be no complaints from folk who are only expert in one flavour of ICE game - and there'll be pregenerated characters, player handouts and howto guides, GM cheat sheets, etc. After a full year's cycle of conventions or so, the scenarios will be released as a special issue of the Guild Adventurer, making them available for everyone. Meanwhile those in the crack team (call them Apprentices of the Guild, Order of the Iron Crown, new Crown Guard, or simply superfans) will be on the next cycle of adventures.

So what we need are people to write and/or translate, people to take the scenarios home and give them a thorough playtest with their home groups, and people who are willing to attend at least one convention and actually run the adventures. Are you one of these people? If so, drop me an email at editor @ guildcompanio dot com.

This is an initiative of the New World Order.

Farewell for now ...

Back to those Demons for Something Wicked. Enjoy this month's issue and we'll be back in September with issue 127, but until then ...

Keep gaming and have fun,
Nicholas HM Caldwell
General Editor for The Guild Companion