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Gen Con 2018: Awards & Broadcasts


This is my happy face.

I’m at Gen Con 2018, about to run a special celebratory game of French Revolution Call of Cthulhu for my good friends Steven Marsh, Nikki Vrtis & Pedro Ziviani. Not shown, the tiny bottle of Moet & Chandon we just shared (everyone got a good thimble full, we were off the hook). We played “Love Eterne”, a new scenario by myself and Penny.

The celebration was because the night prior, our book Reign of Terror won Gold for Best Supplement award at the 2018 ENnie Awards. Mon dieu!

That was a major thrill for so many reasons: the awards were held at the Union Station Ballroom, a mere severed head’s throw from the Crowne Plaza pullman cars where the original scenario was played in 2013 with superbackers Jason, Tom, Thomas & Travis. I was also so pleased to have co-writer James Coquillat up on stage with me (speaking French, as he does), as the work that he, Penny and Darren Watson put into the book transformed it from being just my gruesome little tale into a fully-fledged supplement for playing French campaigns in the late 18th century. It was also a win for artist Victor Leza, cartographers Stephanie McAlea and Olivier Sanfilippo, editor Mike Mason, the playtesters and all at Chaosium who made the book what it is.

Our game was a blast, and good practice for me: one week later I ran the same scenario live on Saving Throw Show in Los Angeles, with friends Amy Vorpahl, Dom Zook, Jason Caves-Callarman & Tom Lommel. (And, to my left, Tom & Lyndsay’s greyhound Luigi, who plays the part of Lucky, a dog.)

“Why watch people play when you could be playing yourself?” some of my friends often say about streamed games, and that’s a fair statement I guess, but it’s like asking “Why ride an electric bike when you could ride a normal bike?” The answer is the same: it’s an alternative, not a replacement.

Streamed roleplaying game sessions have revolutionised our hobby. It shows everyone how much fun it is, how easy it is to do, and functions as good television in its own right: it’s like improv drama with occasional dice. There’s a massive new audience of people who like to watch, and it is directly inspiring a legion of new players who want to try it. The phenomenon of Actual Play won the Diana Jones award this year at Gen Con, and I think it is well deserved: now when we tell stories with each other, we can share them with the world, and get them to join in.

Saving Throw have a fantastic studio set up with a dedicated table, cameras and mikes. I’d been wanting to try running a streamed game for a long time, and it was even better than I hoped; with such amazing players and wonderful set up, everything was easy.

The whole game is now live on YouTube. It contains no spoilers for Reign of Terror, but it certainly does spoil (drum roll) Reign of Terror 2 – we are working on an all new book of scenarios for release from Chaosium in late 2019, and “Love Eterne” will be included.

I’ve got lots more to say about Gen Con, and everything else Cthulhu that’s been happening this year, but for now: here’s me running a game. What an age we live in that I can share such a thing. Sacre bleu !

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Golden Swords and Golden Goblins

We went to see an  Opera Australia production of Aida last week. I normally attend my operas with a friend as Mark has really only been interested when there’s a lot of blood and thunder involved. However he was so keen in Aida as a result of a certain chapter of the Horror on the Orient Express that I bought him a ticket.

The production didn’t disappoint, although it used far more back projection than would have been possible in the 1920s. Verdi’s music however was unchanged and played to perfection. When Diara Masaiera, as Aida, launched into Ritorna vincitor  “Return a conqueror”, Mark reported chills up and down his spine. We are delighted to report that Diara has studied at the Teatra alla Scala. She has trodden the very boards on which our scenes are set.

Aida, circa 1908, Cleveland [Source: Wikipedia]

We did notice in the critical scene where Radames takes up the sacred arms in the temple of Vulcan he did not don his armor. Instead, he grasped an enormous ‘Final Fantasy 7’ style golden sword that descended from the ceiling, while everyone belted out that great chorus:  Su! del Nilo al sacro lido (“On! Niles the sacred river, guard our shores”).

Speaking of all things gold,  here’s an update on the Golden Goblin Press Kickstarter for Island of Ignorance, by our hard working and fiendishly talented Horror on the Orient Express co-writer, Oscar Rios. The project is already funded, and is now knocking over stretch goals. This will be a great book so step up and support this exciting new Cthulhu publisher.

The Golden Goblin

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