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GeekOut Shrewsbury – February ’18: Sweet Lovecraft

Ia! Ia! Gong hei fat choy!

Merry February everyone, this Thursday passed saw GeekOut Shrewsbury return to form with a whole lot of new faces and new tricks, and I solemnly promise this will be the last Lovecraft themed thing for a while maybe. I’m here to serve everyone’s fandoms, not just to celebrate my own, but dammit if it didn’t turn out to be a good idea to ask for Lovecraft themed Valentines cards. It was also a good idea to drive considering the games I have to carry with me, but I learned some terrible things about trying to park in Frankwell.

Let’s get into the gallery…

The Pour House

So I arrived in the Pour House on Frankwell and was surprised to find more than just Murray sat at a table, easily our busiest pre-meet ever with about seven or eight of us, so it’s definitely time to start warning venues of our arrival. Also, consider this a formal request, if you’re planning to show to the premeet please at least drop a comment on the Facebook poll so that I can be prepared and prepare our venues. While it was a lovely surprise, it’s one that could limit our choices in future if we start showing up and asking for large table at short notice.

Magic, Lovecraft Letter (sans the madness rules for now) and some general D&D based conversation in warm and comfortable surroundings. Thanks to the Pour House, and don’t think I didn’t spot a few of you looking over at the games in progress. You’re welcome to join in too, and we’d love you to.

Monty’s

So it was a rather large crowd that travelled to Montgomery’s Tower, via my car where multiple bags of board games had been left behind during the premeet. I set up the Games Library, we bust open some games, hilarity ensued. There are a lot of pictures of Rhino Hero in this month’s gallery, but what can I say? It’s a very photogenic game.

Arkham Horror was a wonderful nightmare to set up, but dammit if we didn’t eventually slay Yig despite the curses and a wholesale failure to close a single portal, but dammit if we didn’t clear up the streets of Arkham with guns and spells and not even dying slightly (once nearly) and I absolutely need to get some bags to keep those damn tokens separated.

My dear mother arrived with a parcel for me early in the afternoon, fresh from the sorting office. I got a Hydradoodle in the very first pack. I am a happy man indeed. More information on Unstable right here.

Competition

Being the sole arbiter and judge is a heavy burden, and those of you who made use of my craft materials to create your valentines cards on the day made valiant and truly incredible efforts, Keiran’s artwork was both sickening and adorable, Charlotte’s inside message was just so wonderfully written, and kudos to Albert on your pun-work, I have to respect that. However, the winners are below…

Those who planned ahead seized the advantage, and it’s a shame that Julia’s was left at home because her hasty recreation showed promise. I simply could not decide on a third place, so here are joint second places, you earned your Lego Batman minifigures.

 

Harley

But dammit Vinnie, you psychotic mastermind. In he strolls at about half 6 and hands me this madness. I shall forgive Harley misuse of the term “Non-Euclidean” when describing this unending card because it’s as good a description as any. It didn’t end, and not pictured are the illusive pages 5 and 6 which require the artifact to be unwound and remade to be discovered. First prize well earned, another Lego figure and a lucky cat to celebrate the year of the dog.

Next Month

March at the Movies for Thursday 29th which means we have a whopping five week gap! You have this time to swat up on your film knowledge for this month’s terrifying Big Geek Pub Quiz. And on the subject of films, a quick head count; who wants to go see Infinity War after the April GeekOut as part of a big ol’ GeekOut group?


Review – Black Panther

This will be a relatively short review, as from the perspective of a white British man there’s not an awful lot to comment on. This is a Marvel origin story, in the vein of Ant Man and Doctor Strange, it brings to light a character that has seen little screen time and attention in the past, and while we have met T’Challa before and know the basics of the Black Panther (at least from the MCU perspective) he’s still a relative unknown compared to the likes of Spidey and Iron Man.

Still, from someone with little investiture in African and African-American culture there was a lot to enjoy, remark upon and unpack. I am calling a Minor Spoiler warning but*… well I’ll get to that in a little while. (more…)


Dungeon Situational – Non-Combat Challenges

Most commonly Dungeons & Dragons tends to be sequences of role-play, exploration, broken up by combat situations and the occasional shopping trip. There’s variety in the proportions of course, but there are some very rare opportunities for the DM to call for initiative where an actual fight is unlikely because there are more important things to worry about.

I’ll be using rules and skills for D&D 5th edition (5th edition is best edition, all hail 5th edition) but will be left loose enough for you to modify the rules for different systems and editions to suit your campaign. (more…)


GeekOut Shrewsbury This Week (And Onwards)

So, a few things:

This GeekOut Shrewsbury is kind of a big one because this will be the twelfth, one whole year of Shrewsbury meets and there’s a lot of info to be unpacked, and a lot of questions to put back to you guys. Over this and next month’s GeekOut I’ll be putting out polls to get your opinions on the meets so far, on the subjects of the venue, timing, content, and what you’d like to see from the GeekOut West-Midlands branch in the future. That’s not to say I’m without plans of my own of course. (more…)


An Infinity Demo Night

It’s been a while since I had a proper stab at a tabletop wargame, and the last time was a quick skirmish with a starter set of Infinity, Operation Ice Storm which set myself and a friend up with a small force each of factions PanOceania and Nomad, seven models a side and a miniature city-scape in which to square off and experiment with the rules.

We failed.

Oh we realised quickly enough that Infinity could be fun, but damn it took us ages to get there, and despite the many similarities in basic rule structure to other wargames of its kind the minutia staggered gameplay to the point where playing was exhausting. “Next time” became the rallying cry, because next time we’d get to grips with it faster, we’d understand more, and we’d bring in other rules that must surely make the game better, more evenly balanced. “Next time” naturally never happened, because life does that. (more…)


Dungeon Situational – Unusual Terrain

If you’re getting sick of fighting on flagstones, or the same old grassy fields every day, there are options aplenty in the great wild world and the myriad worlds beyond it to make your combat, or even just a day’s travel that much more interesting. Today’s Dungeon Situational presents terrain options to create more memorable moments in your campaign.

As usual any rules are written with D&D 5th edition in mind, but all are easily modified with your preferred rules, or adjusted to suit parties of varying levels. (more…)


Superbowl Trailer Rundown

Sports!

Got that out of the way, now onto the interesting stuff. Superbowl season is trailer season, and time for major releases to grab the attention of the biggest TV watching audience left. And while I’m not feeling well you’ll pardon me if I take this opportunity to have a quick gander over this year’s crop of attention grabbers. (more…)


Review – Gotham by Gaslight

As a fan of the Marvel Noir series that recast Marvel heroes as 1930’s noir and pulp adventurers and heroes, I was very excited to see Batman in a Victorian era tale that pitches him against the 19th century’s most infamous killer, Jack the Ripper. The short version is I was not disappointed, the long version will be tough to do without spoilers, I’ll do my best but I’ll save the biggest for last… the identity of Gotham’s own Ripper! (more…)


A Roof For Amecon

So Monday was a bit mad.

For Amecon attendees it was something of a farce, and perhaps we’ve grown accustomed to a slightly easier ride when it comes to the Warwick Art’s Centre, especially when held against the obstinacy and awkwardness of “other” venues when it comes to handling the convention crowd. We may be used to the tense dash for registration, the gone-in-a-flash stock of tickets and the terse F5 mashing, but this year’s Amecon we suffered the same fate when it came to booking rooms, and far worse besides.

The grievances thusfar have been a slow performance from the accommodation site, maddeningly ambiguous emails, slow responses from all parties, and one hell of a scarcity problem. Those few who managed to land the cheaper student rooms were lucky, and even then some were uncertain as to whether or not they’d actually done it, the rooms in the on-site hotel were expensive to say the least, and many panic-booked hotels off site. Some rooms have been released in batches, but by the time they began the social groups were already awash with combined panic and despondency.

A quick note before I go any further, I am in no way attempting to partition blame, in fact I get the feeling that this has been something of a failed experiment; this is the first time I’ve seen accommodation staggered several months from convention registration, and perhaps it allowed the attendees to have sufficient breather, organisationally and financially. I also find myself wandering what kind of allotment of rooms the committee were given, although I feel like it would be foolish of Warwick to short-change them, and us in the process?

Perhaps the scene is victim to its own popularity. Kita and Ame have soaked up the Ayacon crowd like bicarb in vinegar, and the metaphorical bottle may have burst. A paid team of event organisers would struggle to manage the leviathan nature of the conventions they run, the fact that these guys are volunteers makes the end result nothing short of impressive – nay incredible. Since I joined the throngs about five years ago, even I have noticed how much harder it’s become to grab tickets and how fast they can vanish, even amongst smaller cons, or professionally run expos and events around the country.

The Ame committee have been juggling handling our issues on social media and passing on information from Warwick, who have been slow to deal with their besieged website but are answering emails and calling attendees to handle the matter. While I understand some of those people who have openly considered cancelling their tickets for financial reasons, to a lesser extent I think I understand cancelling on the basis of disappointment, but their seems to have been more than necessary, or maybe it’s that those who’d council patience have been generally quiet.

I will be staying in a Premiere Inn twelve minutes down the road, Tim has opted for Scarman – the hotel accommodation, we’ve each made compromises that don’t entirely satisfy, and might sour our experience but the only way to know for sure is to attend, and to enjoy as best we can. Certainly neither one of us could claim to be entirely satisfied, but we’re far from deterred.

See you at Amecon.


Dungeon Situational – Kobold Traps

Ever hear of Tucker’s Kobolds? If you have then you know that a half-dozen hit points does not mean an easy fight. In this week’s Dungeon Situational I’ll pitch a few ideas for the kinds of traps that kobolds may construct given their stature, disposition, and available resources.

As usual I’ll be using D&D 5e rules, but all rules and numbers can be adjusted to suit your campaign in other editions, systems, or for varying levels. (more…)