Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Ne'er Cast a Clout...

...'Til May be out, etc., etc., etc.

I know there's some debate as to whether that's May (the month) or may (the blossom), but all I can say about the month is that it was yet another busy one. June is shaping up exactly the same, which is why this blog is a teensy bit late in coming.

First: back on the hieroglyphics. Slightly rusty after a bit of a break, and one of our tutors is still insisting on giving us tests every fortnight, but it's still great fun translating dead people's wishes from ancient monuments. (We're currently only having classes every fortnight rather than every week). We even got the joys of rave Godzilla as one of the hieroglyphs - allegedly it was supposed to be a baboon, but the carving was appalling and looked far more like everyone's favourite kaiju bopping on down.

As I knew I was going to be at UK Games Expo, I even plucked up the courage to ask our more serious tutor what the ancient Egyptian for "Don't read from the book!" would be, just in case anyone asked me to sign a copy of Masks of Nyarlathotep. He was very obliging, even though he didn't entirely understand why I was asking and why one of my classmates got a fit of the giggles when I made the request.

In the end, no one asked me to do any signing that required hieroglyphics, but I can now yell the correct phrase in ancient Egyptian at a mummy, should the need arise. It sounds really cool, too...

A goodly bit of May was spent finishing off my last large scale piece of editing for Blue Rose for the foreseeable future. As my job role at Chaosium changed from 1st June, while I can still do bits of freelancing for other companies (and Chaosium are very happy for me to do so), I no longer have the time available for big projects.

Or, rather, I probably could squeeze them in, but they wouldn't get the time, care and attention I like to give to my work, meaning I'm not prepared to do it. Books are needy creatures and require a lot of editorial input - even the really well written ones - and I'm not going to sell the book, the authors, or myself short when it comes to a large project. We all deserve better than that.

I've thoroughly enjoyed working with Green Ronin, particularly Blue Rose's line managers, as their Benevolent Dictator in Chief: first with Steve Kenson and then Joseph Carriker, both wonderful, generous, creative men who encouraged my nitpicking and endless questions. I hope to be able to work on Blue Rose again sometime soon, albeit in a reduced capacity. It's a game I'm very proud to have my name on.

I was also busy editing a Call of Cthulhu scenario that will be available at an upcoming convention (to be announced shortly), and organising various convention visits. I'll be popping over to Poland (Wroclaw) in Mike Mason's stead for DNI Fantastyki as a guest of the lovely people at Black Monk Games, Chaosium's Polish licencees. I've not been to Wroclaw, but my hubby has, so I know all about the gnomes and plan on spending a day hunting out as many as possible!

I was also interviewed for an upcoming Call of Cthulhu magazine (more details when I know the release date), and spent some time implementing playtesting and proofing comments on Children of Fear before we headed off for our day at UK Games Expo.

I always enjoy booth work, especially at larger conventions, where the sheer number of attendees can be a bit overwhelming. Having been doing it for a while now, I also know a lot of people, if only to say hello to and ask them how their current campaign is going. This year, I saw a very old familiar face: Jared Earle of Nightfall Games.

Those of you who know me know that my gaming history is closely tied to Nightfall and SLA, and they were the first people to give me a paying job in the gaming industry. I even still have a photocopy of the first cheque they sent me! So, it was lovely to see Jared and get to spend time catching up with him in the bar on the Friday evening. It had been over two decades since we'd last spoken, but you would never have guessed. Quite significantly (largely because Jared nagged me to stay up late even though I'd been up since stupid o'clock), as midnight came around and I became a full time employee of the Chaosium, I was sitting between Jared and Mike, neatly book-ending my gaming career to date. 

I know I've said it before, and I will say it again: gaming has been very generous to me and has given me the opportunity to work with some wonderful people and to forge some good, and long-lasting, friendships. While I've lost touch with everyone I was at school with, and virtually everyone I was at university with (unless they're fellow gamers), my gaming frienships - the oldest ones at least - have been going for well over two decades now, which isn't too shabby in the grand scheme of things.

And here's to many more years and many more friends to come!

Friday, 10 May 2019

Where Did April Go?

I knew there was something I had to do this month. Well, last month, but you know how these things go. But, having been ill for a week in April, I spent a lot of that month furiously attempting to play catch-up, and not entirely successfully.

The month started with me editing the updated edition of Katanas & Trenchcoats. Originally written as a gag and to raise money for a children's hospital, K&T riffs on Highlander and a lot of '80s and '90s over-the-top TV, cinema, music, and games to gloriously silly effect. And the new version may even be playable!

I edited a couple of the supplements for the first version, and they were always highly entertaining, although I did have to be careful with some of them because, never having watched Supernatural, I didn't necessarily get all of the jokes, so always had to check to make sure I wasn't ruining a gag with my cuts and changes. I can also squarely lay the blame for my love of the later Fast & Furious films at the game's door, because I had to watch them for research purposes to edit the car wizards supplement...

Plenty more stuff for Chaosium came sliding across my editorial desk, some of it ongoing sekkrit projects already hinted at on these pages, but also some new bits and bobs that will be out fairly soon as they're small but perfectly formed and can be slipped easily into the production schedule in a way that larger, more complex books can't be. Some of those larger, more complex projects are well on the way, though, so watch this space...

April also saw me in London for a semi-sekkrit meeting about a thing I've wanted to develop for a while. Can't say anything more than that at the moment, obviously, but keep your fingers crossed all the same. All I can say is that it's always very pleasant when someone who's work you enjoy turns out to be a thoroughly lovely person who you could easily spend hours gossiping away with.

The excursion also gave me an excuse to pop up to one of my favourite places in London: the Wellcome Collection - specifically, their Smoke and Mirrors exhibition about the psychology of magic. It being the Easter holidays, it was somewhat packed. There are also a lot of films you need to watch if you're going to get the most out of it, but even bimbling through in a short space of time is well worth it, especially if you run or play mystery RPGs.

Although my hieroglyphics class is currently on hiatus and doesn't return until mid-May, I did get to visit the Barker Research Library at Durham University on Easter Saturday to look at some wonderful 18th and 19th century books on Egypt brought out of storage for the North East Ancient Egypt Society by the wonderful librarians there. As well as some truly beautiful engravings of temples and artefacts, there was a fascinating report by Giovanni Battista Belzoni, former circus strongman turned Egyptologist (the sort of larger-than-life (quite literally, he was 6'7") character made for Call of Cthulhu and pretty much any other historical RPG you can think of), wherein he described crawling through a tomb full of mummies and accidentally crushing them when he had to stop for a rest, then had to stay there for another ten minutes or so to avoid breathing in too much of the mummy dust he'd just created...

I also ran another Call of Cthulhu game at my friendly local games cafe, Meeple Perk. This one was a repurposed scenario originally written for Vampire: the Masquerade some 20 years ago. It only got half-played at the time due to one of the players bringing their friend along to the game; a friend I didn't know who was a total rules-lawyer jerk who wouldn't stop complaining about all the mistakes I was making and how he would've done it much better seeing as he knew everything about V:tM (yes, that guy). I ditched Vampire entirely at that point because I was still too young and inexperienced to tell him where to get off and couldn't face trying to run the rest of my very Gothic, Durham-based (and heavily story-telling-based, as opposed to a "I iz powerful vampire wot can kill everythingz - worship me!" slaughter-fest) campaign with him in the room.

I'm pretty certain this particular scenario may have a slight curse attached to it, though, as things didn't exactly go smoothly to start with on the CoC run either, but by the end it all came together. Several decades of experience and teaching later, I think I can pretty much cope with most things gamers can throw at me, even if it takes a second or two to get my bearings. And there was a lot of laughter, so Breath of Angels is now part of my convention game roster for the next 12 months (at least). I'm not retiring After Dark just yet, but Scritch, Scratch is definitely out to pasture now.

I like to write a new scenario for conventions every year. As I move more into editing, I feel the need to keep my writing skills honed and to create my own thing, rather than purely developing and polishing other people's work. Having that impetus to create a thing for a specific purpose really helps, as well - there's no: "Oh, well, I don't really have time because X, so I won't bother." Because, as happened with this game, it's often more a case of: "Oh, floof, the game's next week? I thought I still had a fortnight to get something prepped! Write, woman! Write like the wind!"

(Which is where having extensive research notes on everything I've ever done also comes in really handy.)

And finally, I started editing a big campaign book for Blue Rose - the last of the big freelance projects still outstanding before I go pretty-much full-time at Chaosium in June. I like working on Blue Rose - the inclusivity and richness of the world is really appealing and the Green Ronin folks are always fun to work with.

So, there we go: another month done and dusted, even if the write-up was a little bit late in coming. Tune in next month (quite probably, knowing me) for what I got up to in May...

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Marching On

You'll probably be unsurprised to hear that March was a busy month here in the writing hovel. As well as moving up to the advanced class in hieroglyphics, the last few weeks have seen a few changes, the biggest of which is that my contract with Chaosium is now on a full-time, permanent basis.

I think I can safely say that, when I sent those early Talislanta scenarios off to Wizards of the Coast, I never envisaged that, 25+ years later, I'd be working for one of the most iconic gaming companies in the field. As I think I said 18 months or so ago when I was first taken on as Assistant Line Editor for Call of Cthulhu, it's a great honour to be able to bring old classics to a new audience and develop new material for such a well-loved, and respected, game. Plus, I get to work with some wonderful people. I still have a lot to learn, but I know Mike (Mason) will steer me in the right direction!

I actually managed to get to one of the North East Ancient Egypt Society meetings this month. (Usually I'm away or already booked for something else.) This one was about the recent findings at Deir el Medina, the craftsmen's village for the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. The most fascinating part of the talk was about the partial mummies they discovered, particularly the torso of a woman with numerous symmetrical tattoos, and the disarticulated woman's thighs with a tattooed lotus flower garter belt. So, as you can imagine, that set the old brain a-whirring...

I've been working on numerous game-related things this month, most of which I can't tell you much about, but it included more development work, sending things out for proofing and compiling things into new collections, along with some more art and map direction. And things are only likely to get even busier as I move into my updated role.

The other highlight of the month was, of course, my trip to Berlin for the company summit, followed by CarcosaCon. It's always fun to be back in Berlin, and this time, we got to release the Berlin: the Wicked City sourcebook PDF while we were there. (Where we were staying for the summit was in the same area the first scenario in the book is set, so we all wandered down to the Elephant Gate at the Zoologischer Garten to take some celebratory photos!)

Held in the wonderful Zamek Czocha, CarcosaCon was the first Call of Cthulhu convention run by the lovely people at Black Monk Games, Chaosium's Polish-language licensees. Funnily enough, my husband, Richard, had already been there three times for various College of Wizardry LARPs over the last two years, so I was aware of what a spectacular venue it was, but it was even better to see it up close and personal, rather than just through photographs.

If you're going to hold a horror game convention in a castle, then it really needs to have secret passageways. Czocha has loads of them, often hidden behind movable bookshelves. It was always lovely to see gamers pop out from a bookcase, dirty great grins plastered across their faces.

You also need dungeons and wine cellars, spiral staircases, a mirror room, lots of portraits of people who are probably definitely not vampires (honest), a tower with a narrow, winding staircase and amazing views, a well in which to drown unfaithful wives, an actual oubliette and a small horde of cats and bats. And a gazebo, which, because of the wonderful sunny weather, you can sit out in and play games. (And yes, there were a couple of Knights of the Dinner Table gazebo jokes - this was a games convention, after all)

As is always the case at these conventions, I was lucky enough to spend time with some old friends and have the opportunity to make new ones in between panels, interviews, running a game and the copious quantities of good, hearty food served up by the castle's catering staff. The Polish Cthulhu players were a wonderful bunch, as were all the other gamers, some of whom had travelled quite a way to be there.

I also got to know Andrew and Sean from the HP Lovecraft Historical Society, who are responsible for the jaw-dropping Masks of Nyarlathotep Gamer Props Set and the wonderful Call of Cthulhu and Whisper in Darkness movies, both of which they showed in the library at the castle over the course of the convention. I also got to hear the opening act of their beautifully produced Masks of Nyarlathotep radio play - it's always a bit odd to hear dramatizations and live-plays of things you've worked on, but I'm thoroughly enjoying listening to the rest of this one now I'm home.

So, April is going to largely be a month of finishing off outstanding projects for other companies, but that's a tale for another day...

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

I very nearly managed to write this blog post on the last day of February, but then I got sidetracked - something which happens all too often when I'm dotting about between projects. And February was definitely a month of dotting about, with a bit of snow thrown in for good measure.

On the work front, I was back on tinkering with Children of Fear. It's gone out for a (hopefully) final round of independent playtesting and two very kind Vajrayana Buddhists I know through Twitter offered to proof read it for me to make sure I hadn't got my wires crossed or written anything heinous and/or insensitive. Their feedback was both fascinating to read and very helpful in tweaking some points and clarifying others. Sadly, due to space considerations, not everything they mentioned made it into the updated version, but I've worked in what I can.

I was also finishing up a writing assignment for Call of Cthulhu and the Cthulhu by Gaslight update, as well as continuing development work with the author and playtesters of Sekkrit Project 3. (Sekkrit Projects 1 and 2 are so secret and the last few months have been such a whirl that even I can't remember what they are, so we're all safe - for the moment...)

Having said I can't remember what the Sekkrit Projects are, I may well have been working on one of them for part of February, which basically involved getting everything into the house template document and prepping it for updating and editing. Then there was a bit of a sideways swerve on the last day of the month onto what shall henceforth be known as Sekkrit Project 4 (providing I can remember what that is next time I come to write about it), which is sort of more of the same while also sharing some similarities with SP3...

Needless to say, we have a lot of stuff in the pipeline for Call of Cthulhu, and we're all beavering away to make sure that you're all kept fully stocked with lovely, tentacley goodness. (And Secrets of Berlin is looking amazing, by the way.)

I also got to run some Call of Cthulhu in February as well! Our friendly local board games cafe, Meeple Perk, now runs an RPG night on Tuesdays. While D&D is very popular, they also aim to offer a bit of variation for those who don't want to play it, and I was asked to do a spot of guest GMing last week as part of the alternative game roster. I went with After Dark, my current go-to convention scenario, which is always a lot of fun and highly appropriate given that it's set in February.

I had a great evening, and one of the players was the wife of someone who came along to the launch party in January Her husband had insisted she should come play in my game as he'd had such fun at the previous event, which is always lovely to hear. What's even more wonderful about the launch party is that several of the people who attended (including the gentleman just mentioned) have now got together and run a fortnightly Call of Cthulhu game at Meeple Perk! As I pop in after hieroglyphics class on a Wednesday, I get to go and say hello to them and see how they're doing (usually lots of death and madness, you'll be unsuprised to hear), which makes me very happy indeed!

Speaking of hieroglyphics, I treated myself to a trip to London to visit the Petrie Museum again. I managed something of a flying visit there in December before Dragonmeet, but this time I went properly prepared with my hieroglyphics books and spent a very happy afternoon sitting on the floor translating funerary offerings.

Needless to say, that generated quite a bit of interest from other museum visitors (and staff), so I also got to explain what some of the objects said, especially the one with the spell for conjuring items to take into the afterlife with you. One little boy very solemnly informed me that he would want all the Transformers toys and all the games consoles waiting for him in the afterlife, except for the PS2 (because he already had one of those). His dad looked slightly mortified, but it seemed a pretty reasonable request to me!

As I still had a bit of time on my hands before my train home, I wandered along to the Senate House Library and their Staging Magic exhibition. This tiny but excellent exhibition is nestled between various reading rooms and sections of the fourth-floor library and, even more interesting for someone in my line of work, is composed of books from Harry Price's personal collection on the history of stage magic. There's even a short piece of film of Price performing the goat transforming ritual at Brocken!

February also gave me the opportunity to give two talks: one with my gaming hat on, the other wearing my embroiderer's hat. The first took me to Hexham, where I delivered a talk on the history of Assisi Work to the ladies of the Hexham Embroiderers Guild. They're always a lovely bunch to visit, and, thankfully, the snow had decided to fall the week previous to my visit and had cleared itself away by the time I got there. (One year, we had to abandon the December meeting I was running a workshop at due to the sudden onset of blizzard conditions.) Apparently, one of the reasons I get asked to go up in the winter is because I'm not afraid to venture out that far when there's a danger of dodgy weather! (A lot of the other local speakers won't.)

The other talk was with the students on the Writing and Editing for Gaming course at Taylor University, Indiana, run by my old friend and former colleague at Modiphius, T.R. Knight. This is my second appearance, and I trundle along to chat about writing and editing and being a woman in the gaming industry. As before, it was lovely to talk to the students and answer their questions. I personally believe that part of my role in the industry is to mentor and encourage fresh blood so that there is a new generation ready and able to pick up where us old fogies leave off, so having the opportunity to do something like this is important to me, as well as being a great honour and privilege.

The last thing (pretty much) that I did in February was go to see the touring production of The Mousetrap. I've been meaning to try to get to see this in London for years, just never quite got round to it. So when I found out it was coming to a local theatre, I bought tickets. Those of you who know me know I love my cosy and historical murder mysteries, and Dame Agatha is one of the finest proponents in the field - although it's important to remember that her stories were written as contemporary pieces, something we tend to forget now.

Yes, I figured out who the baddy was almost immediately (no, I'm not saying who it was - and they ask you not to tell as they take their curtain call at the end) because I've watched and read far too much Christie not to spot them, but I enjoyed it immensely nevertheless. There was a good deal more humour in it than I was expecting, including Christie poking fun at her own tropes and tricks, and it evoked the 1950s very well. (The play originally opened in 1952 and is the longest running stage production in the world, if I recall correctly.)

But even there, I couldn't get away from the day job, as one of the actresses (Harriett Hare) is also a voiceover artist for Games Workshop's YouTube channel!

Gaming - it gets everywhere...

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Welcome to the New Year

It seems somewhat appropriate that I'm writing January's blog post about the beginning of the new year on what is the Chinese, and Tibetan, New Year.

January did it's usual of disappearing in a bit of a whirlwind. Besides getting a Cthulhu By Gaslight chapter off to Chaosium and submitting some Blue Rose editing to the lovely Joe Carriker, the first weekend of it was the launch party for the Call of Cthulhu Starter Set. Hosted at the lovely Meeple Perk, and with Newcastle FLGS stalwarts, Travelling Man, getting in copies for eager gamers to get their mitts on, the party saw myself and superb local Keeper, Sean, running six short demos for 23 people over the space of the afternoon. I had great fun and, from the feedback, so did everyone else, too. (The only complaint was from Travelling Man, who wished they'd ordered in more copies of the game to sell, so popular was it!)

And then there was the cake, made specially for us by Beat Boutique Bakery. This glorious tentacular monstrosity (the Call of Cakethulhu, or the Cake of Cthulhu?) was actually a really lovely chocolate cake, and it went down very well with all who dared eat it. (We did keep the Elder Sign intact until the very end, though, just in case).

And, three days after the launch party, we jetted off once more to the Pacific Northwest and the sublime delights of OrcaCon!

I was particularly busy this year, but thankfully not suffering from the hideous cold that meant I have very few memories of OrcaCon 2018, apart from a medicinal hot toddy in the hotel bar, a guest appearance as a philosophical night person in a Blue Rose game, and pancakes at the nearby Chace's Pancake Corral.

Things got off to a flying start on Friday afternoon with my first panel appearance (of five). This one, Being a Non-Mainstream Game Professional, was chaired by the marvellous Steve Kenson, who I had the privilege of working with on Blue Rose. I must admit, I did feel a bit odd, seeing as I am pretty mainstream these days, but I am still a freelancer and it's always a pleasure to wiffle on about such things and hopefully point newcomers in the right direction. (People often don't realise that, even though many of us work for "big" games companies, we're not full-time salaried members of staff in the traditional sense. They also don't tend to realise that most "big" games companies are often only half a dozen permanent members of staff, if that.)

After a bit of mooching about, saying "Hi!" to people and making sure I sated my infinity scarf needs with another visit to the wonderful Sew Cherie, I was back on panel duty for the one I was chairing: RPGs: Art, Education, or Entertainment. What followed was a very enlightening discussion with Gabriel de los Angeles and Kiva Maginn about the nature of games and how we like to compartmentalise things. Not knowing either of my panelists beforehand, I was a little nervous, but they were fantastic and I learned a lot from listening to them.

As a result of the panel, I only managed a brief cameo at this year's Blue Rose game, but it was lovely to pop in and see everyone, even if it was just a flying visit. I also messed up a lot of my timings in regards to meals and stuff on the Friday (I blame jet lag and over-excitement), which meant I was put on the watchlist by the convention folks to make sure I was looking after myself properly for the rest of the weekend. (This is one of the reasons I love OrcaCon - they know we're busy and likely to get distracted, and they're careful to make sure we're not running ourselves ragged as guests.)

Saturday was another busy one: two panels and a game, and I even squeezed in an interview with my old friends, the Geeks of Cascadia. The first panel was Better Realism for Better Worlds: We Did the Research For You. As those of you who know me know, I do love getting down into the research and looking beyond white Western history for inspiration. This was a very interesting panel, and Wes (our host), Katherine, and Tanya all had some wonderful historical tidbits to share with the audience, proving that you really don't have to default to Medieval France every single time.

I got to run After Dark in the afternoon, my current Call of Cthulhu convention scenario. I'd not run it outside Europe before, and you never know which cultural touchstones might not translate across the Big Puddle, but it all went very well, and the players managed to do some truly off the wall things that their European counterparts hadn't thought of!

Evening meant another panel, this time Something at Work in the Soul: Horror in Tabletop RPGs, chaired by the lovely Amanda Hamon. If I remember correctly, I first met Amanda on a panel at OrcaCon a few years ago, so it was great to be back on another one with her. As you might expect, this one ranged over favourite horror settings, how to create atmosphere and pretty much came to the conclusion that if you could, you really should run every horror game in the wine cellar of a castle in the middle of winter...

Sunday was the final day of the con, which is always sad as it's always so much fun. For me, there was still another game and panel to go. Cogs, Cakes and Swordsticks went down well with the players and Big Red (the d6 I always use for convention games) picked another victim for whom she would only roll 1s, so it was nice to be able to tell her other OrcaCon "friend" that he was not the only one to suffer her ire.

Big Red got her name at the first OrcaCon and is somewhat legendary there for her capriciousness. The gentleman in question was playing a ship's barber surgeon and never managed to roll anything other than a 1 the entire game, to the point he was crying with laughter every time he picked up the die and failed, and his crew mates were using him as a threat against their adversaries. In honour of their escapades, they got to name her, and she's been known as that ever since (and that poor, lovely, gentleman has been used numerous times as a cautionary teaching example).

The final panel I was on was Charlatanry and Chincanery: Gamemastering on the Fly, again with Amanda as out host. This one was practical tips and tricks for people who either were GMs or were thinking of becoming one. So, again, hopefully we provided some useful, helpful advice to the people in the audience.

And, as all good thing must, the convention came to an end on late Sunday afternoon. It's always such a welcoming, friendly, and engaging convention, with a host of games, activities, and interesting panels to keep you out of mischief for the course of the weekend. Hopefully, the organisers know how much we love and appreciate it, and the hard work they put in to make it so special. I've met so many wonderful people through it, and had so many great experiences there and it remains one of my most favourite events.

After a few days in Seattle to unwind, recharge, and catch up with friends, I was back home and working on the remaining bits of the Cthulhu by Gaslight update assigned to me. It's always fiddly revamping stuff, having to check everything to make sure it's correct, appropriate and useful. Things have changed so much in game design over the last 30 years, but you have to treat things sympathetically if you're going to retain that spark that made it a beloved product in the first place. Fingers crossed, eh?

And then, of course, there was getting back up to speed with the hieroglyphics. It's amazing how much you forget after a month's break!

And so, until next time. Happy New Year!

Saturday, 29 December 2018

The Twelve Months of Blogmas

So, for once, it looks as if I'll actually successfully complete a New Year's Resolution. Yes, I have indeed managed to produce a blog post for every month of the impossibly long year of 2018.

Bearing that it mind, it seemed sensible to do a round up of what I've worked on over the last twelve months. I can't tell you about all of it, but I can drop subtle hints for some of the stuff that I'm not at liberty to mention properly. I used to do an annual summary a few years ago when I worked for Modiphius just to remind myself of the break-neck pace of production on Achtung! Cthulhu, but I haven't done it in a while, so it will be interesting to see if this year was indeed as busy as it felt.

So, Call of Cthulhu and other Chaosium stuff first (in no particular order):

Scritch Scratch (Free RPG Day; published)
Masks of Nyarlathotep (published)
Call of Cthulhu Starter Set (published)
Terror Australis (published)

Children of Fear (in the production queue)
Secrets of Berlin (in the production queue)
Shadows Over Stillwater (in the production queue)
A Cold Fire Within (in the production queue)
Flotsam and Jetsum (the next organised play campaign; in the production queue)

Cthulhu By Gaslight for 7th Ed (we're still beavering away on this one)
Sekkrit Projekt 1 (no, I'm not telling you anything more than that; in development)
Sekkrit Projekt 2 (and I'm not telling you anything else about this one, either; in development)
Sekkrit Projekt 3 (short scenarios taking only 1-2 hours; in development and testing)

Women in Tabletop Gaming Month interviews (on the Chaosium blog)
After Dark convention scenario (which does now have a player-awarded subtitle, but I'm not saying it here as it sort of gives the game away)


Aldis: City of the Blue Rose (Green Ronin; published)
Shadowtide: A Blue Rose novel (game stat editing; Green Ronin; available electronically)
Other Blue Rose editing (nope, nothing to see here... yet!)
Holding On: the Troubled Life of Billy Kerr (playtesting, rules proofing; Hub Games; published)


UK Games Expo
Free RPG Day
Necronomicon Discord Charity Fundraiser
Steampunks in Space

(Funny - I could have sworn we were at more than that...)

Things definitely began picking up pace towards the end of the year after I finally managed to finish Children of Fear, although most of this year has been editing, proofing and development work. I am getting to write some new material for Cthulhu by Gaslight, so it's nice to have that change of pace again from persnickety error spotting (which I am pretty good at, by all accounts - probably something to do with reading DNA sequences manually from X-ray films and automated sequencer printouts in a previous life).

There were also a few podcast appearances (The Good Friends of Jackson Elias, Geeks of Cascadia and the Miskatonic University Podcast), as well as a short series of videos Mike and I did for Masks of Nyarlathotep over on Chaosium's YouTube channel. There were a couple of other podcasts who asked if I was available (usually!), but then I never heard anything more. Ah, well.

I also had to turn down involvement in several projects this year. It's not something I like doing - as a freelancer, there's always the fear of famine rather than feast when it comes to work, meaning it's a real struggle to resist over-commitment - but there really are only so many hours in the day, especially as I also delivered four historical embroidery talks and one all-day embroidery workshop, all of which take an inordinate amount of preparation for either an hour's talk or six hours of stitching (writing up requirements lists, producing worked examples and preparing take-home instructions).

So, yes, turns out it *was* something of a busy year after all. And next year is shaping up to be more of the same, starting with a launch party for the Call of Cthulhu Starter Set next weekend, followed closely by our first full convention of the new year in a couple of week's time (OrcaCon), where I'll be running two games and appearing on five panels!

It's also been a very rewarding year in terms of feedback from players and Keepers and the ongoing development of strong working relationships. I've met some wonderful people, run some very entertaining games, played in some very entertaining games, and visited some wonderful places in order to do so. I see no reason why 2019 won't bring more of the same, and I sincerely hope it does.

And with that, dear reader, I wish you a safe and prosperous New Year. Be good or, as my late Great Aunt used to say, if you can't be good, be careful. (To which I add: or just don't get caught!)

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Almost All Done Bar the Shouting

Well, here we are in December, so that means it's time to write November's blog post. But first, I need to remind myself what I wrote in October's ramblings...

Right: sorted. The thing with writing my blog post just after the previous month has finished means I have to remember what I did and didn't say, and what accidentally may have slipped in as a preview. I was pretty well behaved about that last time around, so that's all good.

November, as pretty much every other month this year has been, was another busy one: editing, proofing and art direction for more Call of Cthulhu goodies (including the upcoming Pulp campaign A Cold Fire Within by Christopher Smith Adair), helping out with style guidelines, writing reviews, attending conventions, and - of course - learning more hieroglyphics.

The main convention for November (Dragonmeet just snuck into December again this year) is Steampunks in Space: a marvelous gathering at the National Space Centre in Leicester. Full of all sorts of steampunk shenanigans, it's one of the few non-games cons I get to go to now. (Although saying it's a non-gaming con isn't strictly true, as I do run Cogs, Cakes and Swordsticks there during the weekend.)

As always, we had many highly entertaining demo games, from regulars coming back for another installment in their ongoing adventures, to complete novices just wanting to learn what it's all about. Even more wonderful this year was the three generation family who came along to chat to us about how much fun they'd had with the game when they tried it a couple of years ago, and the gentleman who'd played in a demo game at Ludorati in Nottingham over a year ago who'd tracked us down to get hold of a copy of the book!

Speaking of games cafes, Newcastle now has it's very own one: Meeple Perk. Not that I've had chance to actually play any games there yet, but it's in a very convenient location, meaning that I get to pop in on my way home from hieroglyphics on a Wednesday night for a fortifying cup of coffee. The proprietors - Drew and Rhi - are long-time gamers and lovely people, and the cafe is very cosy and welcoming. Watch this space for more about them next month. (Probably...)

And that's probably all I can really say about work for November - there are some very interesting things bubbling along just below the surface, but apart from turning my hand to some exploratory research for the updated edition of Cthulhu by Gaslight, there really isn't anything else I can tell you for... reasons. (Some because they haven't been announced yet, others because they're really only vaguely formed ideas and hopes at this stage.)

Until next time...