This weekend (1st to the 3rd of June) was UKGE, which saw a tremendous turnout of nearly 22,000 geeks and nerds, a dramatic increase on last year and it showed in the density of packed halls of the NEC on the Saturday. Even the Friday was a bustling affair, with space enough to breath and manoeuvre, but every stand was still surrounded and occupied with interested punters, tables filled with gamers.
For me, this year was all about the RPGs. I went in knowing that I wanted to meet up with Will from Inked Adventures, whose gaming accessories I recently reviewed, and whose designs I also incorporated into the design of the Shropshire Dungeon Master business cards. I also had the opportunity to meet up with Creighton Brockhurst from Raging Swan (I may have mentioned I’m a fan) to talk writing and role-playing for half an hour between shopping and seminars.
I also had a stab at Paizo’s new sci-fi role-playing game, Starfinder, with Amanda Hamon Kunz, Managing Developer as the GM. The game was a quick and simple find-and-kill job, but gave a pretty firm grasp of the game rules, I quite like the Resolve Point system which powers a large number of each characters abilities, a broadly applicable resource that grows with your character. By sheer coincidence I was gaming side-by-side with another gamer from Shrewsbury (apologies to the rest of the group, never found out where the rest of you were from) whom I fully intend to drag to every gaming event in town.
Amanda also chaired a panel alongside Eric Mona on how to run Starfinder, which was rather useful for those of us who don’t necessarily work so well in science fiction. I sat in on a seminar with another of the Paizo team, Jason Bulman, who talked the audience through the basics of monster design, and between us we designed a creature with a loose basis in Inuit culture, if anyone sees “Winter Gardener” appear in future Pathfinder Bestiaries, I have credit for the name, and pretty much only the name.
While I’m talking seminars and panels, I also had the pleasure of listening to Sir Ian Livingstone briefly summarise the history of Games Workshop, and the strange way it has woven all the way through gaming culture over the last four decades. Apparently ordering six copies of Dungeons & Dragons gets you an exclusive Europe distribution deal, I wonder if that offer is still going? We learned a lot about regionalisation (check out the Japanese cover of Deathtrap Dungeon), and we also found out that The Warlock of Firetop Mountain will be coming to Switch in the near future.
But without question my favourite panel was on how to be creative, creatively entitled How To Be Creative. Jonathan Lewis and Edward Jowett from Shades of Vengeance were new faces to me, Darren Pearce on the other hand I recognised immediately from last year (and he recognised me, which was a pleasant surprise). Jonathan did a tour of the rather small audience before the talk asking what we wanted to hear, which very nearly turned into an extensive conversation with me at one point. The panel turned into an appointment booking and an extension to previous conversation with audience members, as a few had already been talking with the panellists, and a couple of us were invited back to the Shades of Vengeance stand to continue on certain topics.
I had another crack at the Syrinscape recording booth, although I feel like I didn’t do as good a job as last years efforts (still had fun) but I look forward to hearing the results of the rumourmill soundboard. Even my haul for the weekend was RPG-centric. Three RPGs from the indie-table for £5, another fast-action RPG for £10, a collection of pdf RPs for £20, and a gelatinous cube miniature, I probably should have bought a board game! Actually I probably should have played more board games at a board gaming exhibition, but habits are habits.