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!

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