RuneQuest Con 2
San Francisco - January 1995
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Here's my RQCon2 report. Apologies for any errors, omissions or opinions it may contain. Stuff revelations: this is truly memorable stuff. Others, please supplement this! (Next year's RQCon organisers, why not pay Sam's way to the Con: duty free aside, he's worth it as a roving reporter for the RQ Daily!)
Chaosium's buffet meal
Loads of cheese, dips and melon chunks. Far more palatable than any Geo's I've attended. Co-conspirators Paul and Finula stole away with many leftovers to stock their suite for the rest of the weekend: a Good Thing. There was a brief, informal introduction round by the Con organisers (practically their only public appearance in this role), before people started asking where their HtWwO and BC character packets were...
Hosted by Peter Corless with Michael Trout. Certainly the best-organised panel I've sat on; Peter ran with a well-designed set of OHP transparencies illustrating his theme of how an adventure can grow from an eye-catching incident mentioned in one Arthurian source. I only intervened when the seminar was in dire danger of degenerating into a map fetishist's paradise or a role-player's nightmare. Loads of fun; congrats to all involved.
Long Ago & Far Away
Alas, I wasn't able to be on this freeform (clashing events), but sounds like it was good clean fun. The Castellan sends his regards to Whiskers the Cat.
Our audience was the usual mix of obsessive technophiles who want Tales published only in some electronic multimedia wax cylinder format, and shy audience members who don't want to say what they want to see next. Public debuts of the New Lolon Gospel (Harald Smith on Imther), Codex #3 and the Best of RQ Adventures. Fun all round, I hope, except for the wax cylinder enthusiasts.
From his ancient Pelorian mythology: the Men of the Log, Brightface, Naveria, and other examples of Things Men Got Wrong. As the person most responsible for this selection (v. similar to the Convulsion reading), I hope the audience enjoyed this pre-Lunar extravaganza.
The Hotel "Pub" (recte Bar)
Overpriced, understocked, and over there. Loads of useless American beers, few decent imports. But great company!
I think this traditional event happened on Friday night: it may have been Saturday instead. MOB performed his (Late Elvis) Moonson impression to the normal critical acclaim, while I manfully resisted the most tempting pronunciation of "Faugh!". The Selerics seemed to go down well, though without RQCon1's essentially cyclical rendition.
After breakfast, many of my fellow Dara Happans got together for an inspiring rehearsal of court protocol (led by MOB), together with a rousing chorus of "Deipolis". This aberrant behaviour was repeated on a couple of subsequent, unplanned occasions. Before HtWwO, I ran through a few Lunar patriotic songs with the Imperial contingent, and was similarly uplifted by their fervent praise of the Goddess. (And Artaphaestos' medal was a beautiful thing to behold! Thanks, Peter.)
I ought to mention that we were sharing the venue with the American Red Cross disaster relief people, and some sinister group in what looked like oversized cub scout uniforms. Anyone find out who they were? (Some people mentioned the "Kindergarten Teachers of America", but I find that hard to believe). Anyway, it made for some interesting culture-clashes in the lobbies, lifts, etc., especially in my full imperial drag.
How the West was One
Arrrrrgh! Never again! (as we freeform refs always say, after the event). Refereeing this one was a never-ending chore and delight: plots that had lain fallow throughout the Convulsion run bloomed in all their intended splendour. Particularly noteworthy in this regard were the great (and very lucrative) Watchdog Council Tapping coverup and the "Two (no, Three!) Arkats" plot. "Tea & Sympathy" for Dalai Dan, the Carmanian Pope, was a personal high spot: also, the perfect diplomacy between the Imperial Ambassador and the recalcitrant Arrolian Lunars (which culminated when Varnaro of Riverjoin [Anne Merritt], recently anathematised, signed her name to a blank treaty and left Artaphaestos to fill in the details). An excellent and inspiring display of hats, despite the poor publicity given to this essential ingredient of the game.
Another black-clad swathe of Rokari Inquisitors, this time led by Roderick Robertson with an uncannily terrifying executioner's mask. I was twice prevailed upon to rescue distressed damsels from their clutches: trashing their torture chamber as the fanatical Ramalian Soldiers of the Faith to spring Tarltemona, the Hidden Bishop, and hurling them back against the walls of the subcommittee room as Varnaro's invisible bodyguard. Funny how these things recur... was it Dan McDonald playing the principal victim (Sir Leperon) both times?
Mike McGloin beat even Jon Quaife as the sleaziest Vadeli trader imaginable. I have come to believe that a properly doddery and mystical Gaiseron is against human nature, having witnessed power corrupting two separate incarnations. The Rokari walk-out at the end was a joy to behold after Convulsion's wimpy collapse. David Hall believes that the Hrestoli win because their ideology is basicially 20th-century (albeit composed of fascism, militarism, isolationism, and the hypocrisy of "upward mobility for all" -- Siglat's Dream), while the Rokari lose because they are stuck in an essentially mediaeval paradigm. Me, I'd rather live in Arrolia...
Remember, kiddies: writing and running freeforms is Hard Work. Don't try it on your own.
This was held on Saturday night at eleven p.m: I understand the (handful of) people who attended found several remarkable bargains. "Weird," as we say in California. I took some time consoling Dan Barker for the knockdown prices his original artworks had fetched. Still, nice for the buyers (less so for the next Con's funds).
Was it this morning the Broken Council characters were finally available? I think so, though memory is blurred. Players had had a day or so to read the densely-printed rules and background book; most of my associates had better things to do, and so we went into the game fresh.
Due to oversleeping and an American breakfast, I missed various cultural seminars that were on offer this morning: Malkionism, Imther, maybe more. Anyone able to summarise what happened?
Origins of RuneQuest
A very enjoyable session of revealing remnisciences from the Dawn Age of gaming. Where the Jack-o'Bears came from, why battle magic happened, and "no regrets" about the Strike Rank system...
The Broken Council
Hours of fun! The Dara Happans quickly realised that this was a Live Action Trading Card Game, and delegated all our cards to James Polk, the man most interested in playing this: we then got on with the seriously frivolous business of enforcing court protocol, making all our visitors grovel while MOB, my Imperial sandal planted firmly atop his unworthy head, made apologies for their unbecoming appearance.
Halfway through the game, Trollish atrocities caused the death of myself
Pleasant digressions in the latter half of the game: MOB and I managed to chat with Peter Michaels before his untimely departure, and swilled deeply of the bar's best bevvies while alone in the throne room, only interrupted by the visit of "Harold from the Council" (he said).
Best ankles of the Con undoubtedly belonged to my wife, Penemara, seductively played by Jim Ausman. Best underpants-outside-trousers were worn by Palangio, my Iron Vrok Lord, ably played by Dennis Hoover. Best shaved-head-with-too-many-legs were attached to Cragspider the Firewitch, creepily played by Anne Merritt (Sandy Petersen was a runner-up in this category, having disappointingly few limbs). There were far too many staggeringly good costumes to mention individually: why do you think I want photos? (BTW, what is it about freeforms that makes otherwise sane people shave their heads to participate? Beats me...)
Australian Rules Trollball
Excellently compered/refereed by MOB; played at roughly 5 frames per second. The game was slightly distorted by the presence of fast foam-rubber missile weapons, Danny Bourne's darksense blindfold (half the time he was on the wrong team!), and Dan Barker's performance as a live trollkin! The sport will never be the same again...
MOB, David Hall, myself and others on the peculiar ways of the Red Army,
and secrets from MOB's forthcoming pack, "Soldiers of the Red Moon".
A sterling performance by David Cheng, doggedly trying to convince powergamers to bite off and eat their own testicles (albeit with mechanical assistance). Two kinds of timelessness: Brithini commute, while Vadeli surf. Mysteries of the Grotaron revealed (or perhaps not). Loosen up, folks: who cares what Greg thinks?! Yet another plug for the RuneQuest Con Compendium, to save my failing voice. Mike Dawson on the wholesomeness (or otherwise) of Loskalmi imperialism, with a great set of Glamourshades. Sundry other interventions, inventions and miscellanea. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did: there may be a transcript, one of these days...
Mad Prax - Beyond Sun Dome
MOB refereed a scenario he had co-authored, ably adding in a sixth (unwritten) player character at the last minute. All good Sun Domer fun and games, perhaps most noteable for the unusual rules we played under: loosely modelled on Prince Valiant, but with beer bottle tops in place of coins. The result was that we had as much fun as we'd have had under RQ rules, but did so in half as much time...
I greatly enjoyed playing Promidius, the Count's "dirty little pillow-biter" (of Garhound fame); what with that performance, my "wife" Jim, and Khorzanelm's "Bugger Underling" card, it's no surprise those Yelmoes have such an odd reputation. Seeing the PCs' names from our run of Gaumata's Vision (aka "Massacre at Black Rock") recycled by those thrifty Californian/Australians was also a thrill.
Strangely, there were no closing ceremonies, presentations, etc. Shannon and Eric disappeared some time after noon (perchance to sleep?), leaving the rest of us to linger on and amuse ourselves as best we could.
I'd love to read any player's recollections of this freeform. A Lunar diplomatic victory is hard to credit, after the two bloodthirsty runs I've participated in. Any offers?
After the last-night meal on Thai shrimps, prawns and similar allergenic
foodstuffs, extreme measures became necessary. The Lunar Jihad seized
We eventually stopped after realising that American police carry guns
and shoot foreigners without overmuch compunction. Another Con-goer nobly
saved me from the ignominy of habitual last-night drunkenness by consuming
the bulk of the Goldschlager before it reached me, in a heroic performance
worthy of Seithenin ap Seithin Saidi with the Wine of Noah. Over other
events of the last night (Mike & Danny...), I shall draw a discreet
veil, lifting it only to report Mary Evelyn Medway's comment:
"I was pretending to be horrified, so people wouldn't notice that I was horrified!"
So: Big Thanks to the organisers, the players, the audiences, the other guests, and especially to the Canadian contingent (for bathtubs of beer and a great attitude). Wonderful meeting you all again (or for the first time); I can't wait for future RuneQuest Conventions, whether they're in Berlin, Melbourne, Chicago, Victoria, or anywhere else. But, a word to the wise: too many Cons dilute the broth...
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