Monday, 2 July 2018

Flaming June

In terms of temperature here in our little corner of England, June was definitely quite a warm one.

It was also quite a busy one again, what with Women in Tabletop in Tabletop Gaming Month getting into full swing. Chaosium's contribution was a series of 24 brief interviews with some of the women who have worked with the company over the years in a variety of roles, be that writing, editing, artwork, layout or publishing as a licensee. Links to each interview can be found here.

This was an important project for me as, although women have been in gaming since the beginning, we are constantly having to fight to be included at the table and, it seems, these days more than ever. Gaming needs diverse voices if it is to thrive, and my hope is to try and encourage women and other under represented groups not to self select against getting involved by seeing that you don't have to have qualification X and have been gaming since Y to contribute on a professional level. I also wanted to highlight that there's more to game production that writing and artwork, so if your forte lies elsewhere, there's still no reason you can't get in there.

Of course, such a project comes with the inevitable downside in these days of social media: trolls. I was dreading the potential backlash we were going to get for daring to raise our heads above the parapet, but, apart from one misogynist at the very beginning and one at the end, we seem to have avoided that sort of nonsense. Unless I didn't see them, which is always a possibility. I had to seriously consider whether we should even take part, primarily from the viewpoint of the safety of the other women involved because, as the curator of the project, I have a duty of care towards them. If that doesn't underline the need for Women in Tabletop Gaming Month and other programmes to raise the visibility of minority groups within gaming, I don't know what does. I sincerely hope the day comes when we don't need to go out of our way to say "Hey, look we're here and we deserve to be treated with equality and respect. You know, like we're actual 'normal' people." But, sadly, today is not, apparently, that day.

On a more positive note, though, I learned so much by reading the interviews that came in and was inspired by each of the stories the women involved were generous enough to share with me and you. We had industry stalwarts from back in the day through to young new voices just getting started, and the thing that shone through more than anything (to me) was their passion for their work. Passion can be inspirational, and sharing your love of your industry/hobby will hopefully encourage new blood into it, or old blood that may have drifted away to give it another shot.

Other than Women in Tabletop Gaming Month, it was also Free RPG Day, so I was down at my FLGS running Scritch Scratch, mine and Chaosium's contribution to the gaming swag this year. (If you missed it, it's now available here as a free pdf with links to POD). I'd already run it for them twice over the years, so it was nice to have a trio of folks who hadn't had the delights of playing it before come to keep me company. As it has been round the block with me a few times over the last two years, I keep threatening to stop running it but, like Sean Connery and James Bond, I've come to the conclusion that I should never say never again!

As Scritch Scratch is very much a character piece until the horror kicks in, it's always a fun one for me to run as I can sit back and watch the players bicker and scheme as that group of pregenerated investigators. It's also fascinating to see how people interpret the characters you've written, and what they pick out of the backgrounds to build their portrayal around. It seems to have gone down well on the whole, and it was a great honour to be asked to turn my go-to convention scenario into something more.

What else?

Back to the last two chapters of Children of Fear, that's what! In June, I managed to complete the first draft of Chapter Eight and began the final bits of research for Chapter Nine. So far, there are ten chapters, the last of which contains various appendices, so that one's already largely written. The first six scenarios have all been tested by various groups (the first chapter is the introduction, of course), and the first three scenarios have been fully tweaked and corrected. (I'll correct the rest once the final round of playtesting is complete.)

It's been a long time coming and it's almost three years since I first discussed the campaign with Chaosium at Gen Con. Obviously, little projects like the newly released Masks of Nyarlathotep got in the way a bit, but it's full steam ahead to get this one finished before the summer is through. (It's also almost two years since we started on the somewhat epic task of bringing Masks up to date with the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition rules system. Time does, indeed, fly.)

The thing is, big projects take a lot of time to complete, starting with the research, then on through the writing, editing, commissioning artwork, layout, proofing and printing stages. Other, smaller projects and real life have a habit of mugging you on the way past, meaning what was already going to be a long haul gets even longer. Sometimes, you wonder whether you'll ever get to the end of it. But you do, eventually, although it can be a really weird anti-climactic feeling when you finally hand it off to the next step in the chain. Until you see the finished product, of course - then it all becomes worthwhile!

Monday, 4 June 2018

The Merry Month of May

Blimey, here we are again and, like the rest of this year, May sort of went tearing by in a bit of a blur.

I'm happy to report that the first pass edit on the Aldis City Sourcebook went off to Joe Carriker (Blue Rose's lovely line developer) a little over a week ago and it's full of fun, interesting and useful stuff for your Blue Rose game.

Although I've played the game before (as I mentioned in January's post), I've not actually taken the plunge and narrated it yet. Now, after quite a few requests from gaming friends, I'm about to put that right at this year's Continuum games convention. It can be a bit intimidating sometimes to run something you've worked on, particularly in an editorial capacity, as people can expect you to be an expert on it. Because I hop around systems quite a bit with my job, that isn't always the case - I'm an expert for as long as I need to be for that given project and then I have to go and be an expert on something else. Still, I'm looking forward to seeing what the Continuum crowd make of it, and as long as we tell an entertaining story together, I'll be happy.

It looks as if the second volume of the Miskatonic University short story anthology I submitted a piece to is going to go ahead now, so more information on that when I get it. I'm really pleased the story should see the light of day as I had fun writing it. And there are a lot of other interesting looking stories in there, too!

We were lucky enough to go to a new mini-gaming break at Schloss Neuhausen, Germany, in May as well. The schloss is home to October's Kraken convention, a small but perfectly formed retreat where you get fed and watered to a ludicrous extent in very mellow and beautiful surroundings while gaming, socialising and learning to throw axes (yes, really). There were no axes at the mini version, but there was copious cake and beer, and an opportunity for me to test out my new Call of Cthulhu convention scenario. (As Scritch Scratch is this year's Free RPG Day scenario, I thought I'd better write a new one!)

In glorious sunshine on two consecutive mornings, I ran the players through a strange tale inspired by an actual event I attended at a local museum earlier this year as part of their After Dark programme (not uncoincidentally also the name of the scenario). Both sessions went really well, which was a relief as the scenario itself had been quite stubborn in taking shape, meaning that I was still writing it a few days before the convention started. (I also had to pay a visit to one of our local beaches for props for it as well...)

Often at conventions, I don't get a chance to play anything or be anything other than "on" in a professional capacity. What was really lovely about the mini-Kraken was that I did get to play games and just be sociable. As a result, I got to try three games I've been wanting to have a crack at for ages (Tales from the Loop, Ten Candles, and Blades in the Dark) and got to make some lovely new friends. All of the games were great fun, although sitting huddled under multiple blankets in the schloss' freezing undercroft in the pitch dark while slightly tipsy on G&Ts listening to the mice scrabbling about in the darkness behind you definitely made Ten Candles a particularly memorable experience!

A large proportion of May was dedicated to getting everything ready for Chaosium's contribution to Women in Tabletop Gaming Month. With 18 interviews in total (a 90% response rate!), the series highlights the contributions women have made to Chaosium over its lifetime, from established names to those at the beginning of their gaming industry careers. As well as promoting the stellar work these women are doing, I hope it also encourages other women to get involved as content creators, be that as artists, writers, editors, graphic designers, or in layout and production - all of which are essential roles in getting games out there for people to enjoy. As I'm writing this is June, I know the first two interviews have gone live, and I'm going to cheat and say you can find them over on the Chaosium blog.

And I can finally say that Masks of Nyarlathotep is on its way to the printer gods and should be out in pdf form some time in July. I may have mentioned before how pretty it is and there's a whopping amount of play contained in its two volumes. It'll be good to see it in actual physical print come the autumn. I hope people like what we've done with it, but regardless, it was a tremendous project to work on in terms of experience.

I don't doubt I've forgotten something I was going to tell you, but perhaps I'll have remembered by the end of the month! So, until next time...

Friday, 4 May 2018

In Like a Lion

Once again, it's been a busy month here in the writing hovel. As you can see, I didn't quite manage to get two blog posts out in April, largely due to spending the last weekend of it in Prague with my lovely husband, Richard, on a belated 20th wedding anniversary holiday.

Prague was wonderful, and so inspiring. Steeped in myth and legend, the city gave rise to the golem and was home to loads of hidden alchemy laboratories during the reign of Rudolf II. We even got to visit one that was rediscovered during massive flooding in the city in around 2000 - great fun, and pretty spooky!

Along with its history, Prague has some amazing buildings. Not only are many of them painted with fabulous designs or trompe l'oeil, a lot have Art Noveau decorations, or just out-and-out odd things (plaques and statues) mounted on them - like the one we found of a duck-billed snake! The city is also home to two buildings containing beautiful libraries: the Klementinum and the Strahov Monastery. Although they won't let you into the libraries for a good rummage, you can gaze upon their magnificence, and the Klementinum tour also involves climbing several spiral staircases and rickety wooden stairs (almost ladders in some sections) to get to the top of the astronomical tower, where there are fantastic views over the city.

Another absolute gem was hidden in the grounds of the Petrin, Prague's hilltop park, complete with mini Eiffel Tower from the city's 1891 Exposition. Of course, I'm talking about the Magical Cavern, home of artist Reon Argondian's gloriously over-the-top artwork. If you want some seriously psychedelic and mind-bending images to inspire your scenarios (especially Dreamlands-based ones), take a peep at his gallery... As the first tourist attraction we went to in Prague, this place really got our trip off to a flying start!

Apparently, one of the things I said most over the weekend was "Oo, this would make an awesome setting for a scenario!" Perhaps one day...

In work terms, though, April continued to see progress on Masks of Nyarlathotep. It's going to be a whopper, and no mistake. As I mentioned in the last blog post, going through such a luscious book with a fine-tooth comb is a long, slow process and even then, there will be things we miss. As a friend of mine says, books aren't so much released as escape into the wild when you turn your back for a moment. Still, hopefully we've caught most of the big things!

Besides that, I'm back on editing duty for Green Ronin. At the moment, I'm working on the Aldis City Sourcebook, and it's always a pleasure to dive back into the world of Aldea. The book details the city of the Blue Rose and its eclectic inhabitants, as well as providing some interesting new mechanics to support game play in the world (as discussed in Joe's article) and a very sweet scenario by the wonderful Steve Kenson. My official title as editor on the Blue Rose gaming line is "Benevolent Dictator in Chief," a role I take very seriously indeed! The book is shaping up very nicely, and I'll be continuing to work on it through May.

Sadly, the Kickstarter I mentioned in the last blog post didn't fund. It's always disappointing when interesting projects don't come to fruition, but people only have so much time and money to devote to supporting creators, so it's understandable that not everything is going to get made - at least not yet. Which is what makes it even more frustrating when projects do fund, you submit your work, and never hear another thing from the developer, only vague rumours years later that you have to follow up on the campaign's public announcements page (and even then, you still have no idea what's really going on).

This brings me back to something I've mentioned before, and certainly touched on in the #AprilTTRPGMaker thread over on Twitter: communication is key. Yes, things go wrong, and real life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of projects that are often run parallel to people's day jobs, but not talking to people about those problems, pretending they're not happening, or just disappearing altogether, helps no one. On the whole, people are very understanding and forgiving if you keep them informed about what's going on. But not knowing? That just leads to mistrust in the long run, and makes people very wary of supporting you again in the future.

But, on a happier note: the sun is shining and it's time for a cup of tea. May promises to be another busy month as we gear up for the start of the summer convention season and trying to get various projects finished off and back to the publishers. Now all I need to do is get my new convention scenario written...

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Best Laid Plans

I know I said I was going to be really good and do a blog post every month this year, but March pretty much thundered by in a bit of a haze, with my head well and truly down over my keyboard.

Still, a promise is a promise, so here goes: What did I get up to in March, precisely?

Lots of proofing, for a start. Masks of Nyarlathotep is coming along nicely, but with such a luscious and high profile product, it has to be carefully checked to make sure everything's A-Okay. (And, believe me, that takes time.) Myself, Mike, Scott, Paul, and various other eagle-eyed folk check each chapter as it comes in from our very talented and lovely layout guru, Nick Nacario, then fire off our corrections and suggestions for him to implement. It's all horribly pretty, believe me.

What else? Recruiting women to take part in Chaosium's contribution to Women in Tabletop Gaming Month, coming this June. Chaosium has a long history of employing women to work on its products in every capacity: writing, editing, developing, art, design, layout, and production, and we've already had some very interesting interviews returned to us from some very talented and inspiring women creators, old and new.

And? Still plugging away at Children of Fear, of course! Lots more playtesting and tweaking went on during March, so hopefully there's now even more ways for your investigators to get themselves into no end of trouble while exploring Central Asia and Northern India...

I was also approached to take part in another Kickstarter project (There and Back Again: An Anthology of Travel and Gaming) by Jason Brick, one of my authors back in my line editor days over on Achtung! Cthulhu. As I'm British, of course my contribution will be about how the weather affects travel. I mean, what else was I going to write about, eh?

Other than that, March involved a lot of working out which conventions we'd be going to in the next 12 months. So far, that includes mini-Kraken in late May, UK Games Expo in June, Continuum in July, Kraken in October, and OrcaCon next January. Other distinct possibilities, but not confirmed yet, include Steampunks in Space at the National Space Centre again (always a great deal of fun) along with Dragonmeet. I also have the nagging suspicion I've missed something, but I can always tell you about that in April's official installment (so you get two this month, as long as I remember!)

Sadly, there won't be a return to Gen Con this year, or in the foreseeable future. As a freelancer who has to pay their own way, it's now just far too expensive to attend under my own steam. Many conventions are costly to get to and take part in, particularly as most of the big ones aren't in the UK and transatlantic flights and accommodation ain't cheap. I also find Gen Con (and Essen Spiel) grueling and not always pleasant experiences because of their sheer size (although it's always lovely to see old friends and make new ones).

So, from here on in, I'm concentrating on conventions I really enjoy. I'm saving up for NecronomiCon and OrcaCon next year as my two "biggies," because not only do they take place in cities I'm immensely fond of, but I always have a wonderful time at OrcaCon and my first NecronomiCon was a lovely, welcoming experience and I'd like some more of that, please! (Plus, Richard didn't get to go last time, and I think he'd love it, too.)

Right, best get back to the day job! Ta-ta for now...

Friday, 23 February 2018

All a Bit Hush Hush

Well, I did say I was going to try and be good this year about writing blog posts, so let's get this month's installment committed to electronic paper.

Which might be a little bit difficult, seeing as most of what I've been working on hasn't actually been announced to the public yet.

Ah, well!

So, what can I actually tell you?

First: Playtesting and tweaking is ongoing for the Children of Fear campaign that I've been beavering away on in one form or other now for the last couple of years. For fairly obvious reasons (i.e. Masks of Nyarlathotep), Children of Fear had to take a backseat for almost a year while we updated and refined such an important piece of Call of Cthulhu gaming history.

And while being asked to work on Masks was thrilling, it was also rather daunting, precisely because it is so beloved. Not that you say no to such opportunities - they only come along once in your career, if you're lucky. And hopefully everyone who is waiting for Children of Fear will let me off once they've seen what myself, Mike Mason, Scott Dorward and Paul Fricker helped usher into the world (along with the lovely Nick Nacario and all the insanely talented artists and cartographers who have contributed to the book).

Playtesting can be a difficult, if ultimately rewarding, experience. If you're lucky, it all goes smoothly but, more often than not, it highlights something you knew, deep down, wasn't quite working the way you'd hoped or - worse - just isn't working at all. But, with a good, honest bunch of playtesters, you can fix those problems and make things so much better than they were. That doesn't necessarily mean it isn't a somewhat terrifying procedure to put yourself through, especially when you know people are eagerly awaiting the finished product (and that's certainly the impression I got from all the enthusiastic people who came by the Chaosium booth at Necronomicon last year to ask me why I hadn't finished it yet!). All writers need to be able to kill their darlings, but that doesn't always mean it's an easy thing to do.

Having playtesters you trust helps enormously, and I am blessed to have a lovely group in America (run by the wonderful Heidi) and my own bunch of Wednesday night reprobates here. (Hi, folks!) Sometimes they may say things I might not want to hear, but their experience and knowledge makes their input invaluable and much appreciated, because it is very easy to get too close to your work and end up lost in it, particularly big projects you've been working on for a long time.

Second: Um, this is where it needs to get  bit vague. Earlier in the month, with my Assistant Editor's hat on, I finished up something for Call of Cthulhu that I think you'll all be excited by, but I can't actually tell you what it is just yet.

Third: Another vague one. I spruced up a pitch for a scenario for a games company (not Chaosium) and am waiting back to hear on whether or not they want to pick up the final version. It's been a bit of a long haul this one, just on a much smaller scale to Children of Fear (they were both originally mooted at the same Gen Con back in 2015). It had been a year since I'd last done any work on this pitch, and it always takes a bit of time to get back into the swing of things, especially when a different rules set is involved. So, watch this space on that one.

Fourth: More vagueness. Back with my Assistant Editor's hat on again, I've just finished a read through on a book under development, to give my opinion on what we can do to get it finished and out there for all of you to get your teeth stuck into. Again, watch this space!

Fifth: You'll find out about this one pretty soon. It's for Call of Cthulhu, and I'm quite excited about this one. (Not that I'm not excited about pretty much everything I work on, but you'll understand when you see what it is...)

Sixth: Mentoring. I've spent a bit of time this month mentoring a young lady who's entering the gaming profession on the production side, having been a gamer for years. We're into multiple generations of gamers now, and those of us who are working in the industry need to keep an eye out for the people who will, ultimately, replace us, and help them find their feet, be they writers, artists, or graphic designers. Hopefully I'm not telling her a load of old tosh!

Seventh: Embroidery! Yes, as well as writing and editing, I also teach traditional hand embroidery techniques and give talks on them to various groups, such as the Embroiderers Guild. This month is particularly busy, largely because I'm daft enough to take my car out into the wilds of Northumberland in the middle of winter, regardless of the weather. (Not all tutors are quite so adventurous, it seems.) I've already been to Hexham so far this month to give a talk on a traditional Norwegian technique known as Hardanger work (which I'll be repeating on Monday at Ponteland), and tomorrow I'm off to Hartlepool to teach an all-day workshop on a traditional Indian form of quilting, known as kantha.

As for next month: we'll see. I'm expecting in two editing projects from different companies, and there's this small matter of getting Children of Fear finished (although that's going to take a few more months just yet - sorry). There's also Airecon, which we may pop down to for the day. There's undoubtedly something else - there always is! - but, for the moment, I think that will do nicely.

Monday, 22 January 2018

The Best of Intentions

Gosh, it's been a while, hasn't it?

People keep asking me for my blog details, at which point I have to look embarrassed and make noises about not updating it regularly (and I think we can safely say that over two years since the last post definitely counts as "not regularly").

Now, I don't normally do New Year's resolutions, but I'm going to try and update the blog once a month this year so when people ask for my blog details, there's actually something there for them to read. Hopefully.

So, let's get this thing on the road again, eh? It's been a busy month so far. Once again, I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest to OrcaCon, the inclusive games convention that has taken place in the general vicinity of Seattle for the last three years. This year, due to venue issues at the previous location in Everett, the convention moved to the Hilton at Bellevue, which turned out to be a really good choice. No matter where you went in the hotel, there were happy people playing games, and such a wonderful atmosphere.

Now the interesting thing is, I can't honestly remember how I met Donna Prior, the brains behind OrcaCon. She's always been a strong supporter of Cogs, Cakes & Swordsticks, so I'm assuming we bumped into each other on one of the games forums when I was first putting the premise together. We first met face to face at Gen Con, I think in 2013, and the rest is history.

Donna's aim with OrcaCon, which first ran in 2015, was to create a safe, welcoming games convention for people of all ages, genders, and orientations. It's one of my favourite conventions, partly because of the small size (now up to 1200 in its third year), but also because it is full of smashing, enthusiastic people who love their games and want to share that love with others.

This was my third year as a guest, so I was on panel duty as well as running a couple of games. My first panel as moderator was about GMing, and attempting to help people who were thinking about making that first step actually take the plunge. Apparently, this was quite topical, as January is New Game Master Month (although I wasn't aware of this until after the panel!). My second panel was about just what we freelancers get up to during the day, as well as discussing whether No Pants Wednesday is actually a thing. I was supported on both panels by a wonderful array of industry professionals, including Joseph Carriker, Crystal Frasier, Kate Baker, Ari Marmell, Liz Courts, Jenn Sandercock and Erin M. Evans.

As for games, this year I only ran two: Cogs, Cakes & Cthulhu (a Mythos-inspired take on you know what) and Untold: Adventures Await, by the wonderful people at the Creativity Hub. Both sessions were great fun, as always. Apparently, there was quite a queue for the Cogs game, with all sorts of shenanigans threatened by those on the waiting list in their attempts to get into the game! (It's always lovely to be wanted!)

Another reason OrcaCon is a fun one for me is that I actually get to play games. First up was Blue Rose, run by the lovely Joseph Carriker for a group of players that have a Blue Rose game every year at the convention. I was there to help make up the numbers, and it was amusing to play in a scenario I actually edited! I was very good, though, and only reacted to information I was given in character. I had a lovely evening inhabiting the world of Aldis again. I was also lucky enough to play in Steve Kenson's Icons introductory game, where Shadow Dancer and her associates found themselves fighting strange creatures in an intergalactic arena, and stuff my face with Jenn Sandercock's edible games, eventually becoming a member of the Order of the Oven Mitt for my labours!

And I got to have another lovely chat with the gents from the Geeks of Cascadia podcast - at least once Hobbs remembered to plug the microphone in! It's always a pleasure to spend time with Paul, Hobbs, and Co.

But now, sadly, the convention is over and I'm back home again. What's left of this month involves getting the next installment of Children of Fear, my whopping great Chaosium Call of Cthulhu campaign, into shape and submitted, as well as the next assignment in my role as Assistant Editor on Call of Cthulhu. Hopefully more on that next month!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Best Four Days in Sleep Deprivation

Or: In Which We Nearly Made It All The Way Through A Trip To Gen Con Without Losing Our Luggage.

Gen Con has finished for another year and I realise that the last time I updated this blog was two years ago (shocking behaviour - I do apologise). So, without further ado, I shall present this year's Gen Con report minus pictures as, once again, I took my camera and utterly failed to used it...

My first Gen Con was in 1994 when it was still in Milwaukee. That was an exciting and odd experience and for years I wanted to get back and bring my husband, Richard, along with me. We finally managed that in 2013 and have been back every year since, with each year being its own peculiar (and exhausting) beast.

This year, I was lucky enough to have been selected as an Industry Insider Guest of Honour and I got to be on three very enjoyable panels. The first was Women in Gaming, which I will admit I was mildly dreading as part of me wondered if we still needed such a panel in this day and age. But, sadly, after the events of the last eighteen months or so, it appears that yes, we most definitely do.

Thanks to the lovely Rachel Ventura of Legendary Games, we'd decided to focus on the positive aspects of being a woman in games, something that was very much appreciated by our audience. Having been to the ConTessa opening ceremony the day before, I'd been reminded of how women have been in gaming from the very beginning and how important their contribution to the worlds we all know and love have been. Sadly, in some quarters, that seems to have been all but forgotten.

It was fascinating to share experiences with Elisa Teague (author of Girls on Games), Nicole Lindroos (Green Ronin), Rachel, and Shoshana Kessock (Phoenix Outlaw Productions) and we really could have done with another hour (at least!) to do the topic justice. Still, there's always next year...

My final two panels weren't until Sunday. The first, hosted by the ever-so-organised Keith Baker, was about designing worlds. We were joined by Elsa S. Henry (Blind Mouse Games), Brannon Boren, and the redoubtable Ken Hite. Although slightly intimidated at first by the illustrious company in which I found myself, this was an excellent panel all round (particularly the startling revelation that, as far as we can tell, Elsa is actually Daredevil, though you didn't hear that from me).

It's always interesting to see how other people approach world building and to discuss how important tone and the type of stories you want to tell are to giving your world its unique feel, and I hope we gave the audience some useful tips and ideas to go away and play with.

My last panel was an absolute hoot. Of all the panelists, Bryan Steele (Ursa's Den) was the only one I didn't know (but, as it turns out, he's thoroughly lovely - hardly a surprise, really, as most people in the gaming industry are). Along with Andy Peregrine, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, and Bill Bodden, we had a highly entertaining chat about the dos and don'ts of becoming a freelancer. As Andy said at the time, let's hope we haven't done too good a job, or we've just put ourselves out of work!

In between panels I got to meet up with old friends, some for the first time in the flesh (including the wonderful John Kahane). I also got to make new friends, indulged in sushi therapy with Monica Valentinelli (man, the sea puff specialty roll at Mikado is amazing, and I speak as a sushi virgin), and had some incredibly instructive business meetings, some of which I hope to be able to talk about in the near future.

I also worked the Modiphius booth on Saturday, shilling my wares (Achtung! Cthulhu and Cogs, Cakes & Swordsticks) under the watchful eye of booth manager and long time proofreader and friend, T.R. Knight. It's always lovely to interact with our customers and to hear how they're playing and, more importantly, enjoying our games. I even got a little sketch of Cutey (our nickname for the squid symbol you'll find throughout the A!C books) by John Kovalic although, in my usual oblivious state, I had no idea it was him until after he'd gone and I'd checked the business card she was drawn on! (Unless, of course, someone else has taken to drawing cartoons on the back of Mr. Kovalic's business cards...)

And, of course, there was the ENnie Awards Ceremony. Having nearly missed the first hour because I was convinced it started at 9pm not 8, I was, thankfully, in place to see Achtung! Cthulhu: Terrors of the Secret War win silver for Best Cover. Ian Schofield did a lovely job on that one for us and I was so pleased to see his work recognised by both the judges and the voters.

By far the biggest surprise of the night, though, was Terrors walking away with the silver for Best Monster/Adversary. I honestly thought they'd put up the wrong screen to start with, especially considering the other amazing and beautiful books in that category. But no, it really was us and I was thrilled to bits for Josh O'Connor, Jesse Hawkins, Reuben Saunders, Dave Blewer, Dim Martin, Ian Schofield, Michal Cross and Chris Birch (oh yes, and me, of course, as chief cook and bottlewasher on the book) that people liked what we'd done. The choice we'd made to go cinematic was risky, but the nomination and the medal (one of which is hanging over my computer as I type) show that it was the right decision.

I love Gen Con and it's wonderful to have seen it grow and evolve over the last twenty-one years. This has to have been my favourite one so far and, fingers crossed, we'll get to do it all again next year!