Monday 9 September 2019

The Halcyon Days of Summer

As we begin the inexorable slide into autumn and the nights are drawing in, I can safely say that August has been another busy month, full of sunshine and rushing about here, there, and almost everywhere.

Things have been all go on the Chaosium front, as I’m sure you’re unsurprised to hear. Lots of art directing for The Children of Fear, for example - artists sending me their works in progress, me commenting on them and asking for corrections, or me sounding out my colleagues to see what they think. (I’m cheating a little by putting this link to the Children of Fear progress report in here because that was released in September, but I hope you’ll forgive a little bit of calendrical shenanigans on my part.)

As well as The Children of Fear, there have been other projects, most of which I can’t talk about - yet. I’m sure there’ll be an announcement at some point fairly soon, but rest assured that the Great Old Ones are keeping me out of mischief.

I also had to turn down a fascinating project because my diary is full to bursting at the moment. It was something outside my current experience for a company I haven’t officially worked with before, and it would have been an amazing challenge, but I knew I wasn’t going to have the time to devote to it that it needed, even though its projected release date is well over 18 months away.

Turning down work is hard, especially when it is something that would allow you to expand your skill base and design experience. But if I’d agreed to it, there was a severe danger that my current work would have suffered, the new project wouldn’t have received the care, love and attention it’s going to need to get it right, and everyone would have ended up pretty unhappy with the situation. The last thing I want to do is let anyone down, or hold anyone up, especially when it’s people I admire and respect (and would like to work with at some point in the future).

So, as sad as I was to have to do it, I decided to pass on this one. I really hope they find someone who can do the project justice, and they already know I’ll be more than happy to playtest it, should it become an actual thing.  Being realistic about time, energy and availability is a hard thing to learn, but not recognising that there are only so many hours in the day and only so much work you can shoulder is only going to make you miserable in the long run. And, seriously, life is too damn short for that sort of nonsense.

But - to cheerier things! August this year was, of course, NecronomiCon Providence time of year, and I was very happy to be heading back there, this time with my lovely husband in tow. He didn’t attend two years ago for a variety of reasons, and then had to listen to me waxing lyrical about what an awesome time I’d had and what wonderful people I’d met. So he was determined he wasn’t going to miss out on it this time around.

Because NecronomiCon is only every two years, it comes with an odd language issue - everyone always refers to “last year,” even though it wasn’t. Regardless, it was good to get back out to Providence and meet up with so many friends and colleagues, and to make new friends and colleagues, too. For a relatively small convention, there is so much going on: a packed gaming stream, a full stream of talks and panels, a movie stream, an art exhibition, and an academic stream, as well as a whole host of dramatic stuff (including our good friends at the HP Lovecraft Historical Society and their Dark Radio Theatre performances).

Perhaps the funniest of these was the night we finally got to see Robert Lloyd Parry and his superb presentation of MR James’ A Warning to the Curious. By funny, I don’t mean “funny, ha ha” but funny in that he regularly performs at a venue local to us, but we’re always away or otherwise engaged when he’s there. So we only had to go several thousand miles to see him! It was well worth it, mind you, and we’re planning on making sure we are about for his next visit to the Lit & Phil.

I also had a very nice chat with Mr Lloyd Parry the next day in the dealers hall, and it turns out he and his brother used to play Call of Cthulhu thirty-odd years ago. His brother was the Keeper, and it was the Games Workshop edition that they owned. A scenario in an old edition of White Dwarf had piqued their interest, as it was set in Suffolk, the site of many of James’ stories (The Watchers of Walberswick by Jon Sutherland).

It was a busy convention for me - three games (one for Extra Life, which raised a lot of money for a superb cause), two panels (both of which seem to have been well received based on the feedback I, and others, were given), and a day on the booth encouraging people to give us their money in return for beautiful things. I like being busy at conventions, although it does mean I don't always get to see much of the rest of the programming. And I largely resisted giving all my money to the other stallholders!

During the convention, I managed to have stuffies again, and finally located Dave's Coffee so I could try coffee milk, another Rhode Island specialty. (It's very good.) And, of course, there was the wonderful Ellie's for breakfast most days, even though they did scare us by moving since last time. The last event we went to was the Dunwich Horror Picture Show. It's still an awful film, and the print they have is in severe danger of either self-immolating or disintegrating into a million pieces, but the live band is great and it's nice to have a definitive end to a convention - so many just sort of fade out, leaving everyone bimbling around and looking a bit lost as people drift away over the course of the day.

It's often sad to leave a convention, and it's especially sad to leave NecronomiCon. The organisers and their minions do a wonderful job of making it a fun, safe gathering and Providence is a comfortable city to wander around. And then there's the people we have to say goodbye to. The podcasting and gaming community at NecronomiCon is a very special one, and I miss those reprobates a great deal now I'm home.

So, see you all again in two years?

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