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Kitacon Quest – The Journey Begins

A very short article, as by the time you read this I will already be on-route to Kitacon Quest 2017. I think I’ve undergone more preparation for this convention than any before, and even as a non-cosplayer I’ve undertaken more work than one might call necessary for – what some might call a holiday.

In my hubris I have elected, not only to prepare a one-shot Pokethulu game, but to create a full Pokenomicon filled with horrors of my own creation, featuring alongside a handful of competition entrants from last month’s GeekOut Shrewsbury competition. And because I am the sort to over-do things when I’m organising a game for people whom I’ve either never met or see very infrequently, I had to invest in a better audio recorder to immortalise the game for all to hear, and high quality paper just to really finish the job.

If you’re interested, come find me today (Thursday) and volunteer. I have five places to fill, and once all are claimed and we have a quiet place to sling dice then we shall begin. If asked nicely a second game may be held over the weekend.

Disclaimer – If you join in the Pokethulhu game your voice will be recorded and you are likely to be photographed. Also I stand up while I run games, that’s apparently a thing I have in common with Patrick Rothfuss. You have been warned!

I’m currently finishing a few talking points for the DMing 101 panel. After last year – where I worked through my prepared material in about twenty minutes – I have more plans and more to discuss in order to give my second effort at hosting a panel the semblance of better organisation. We’ll try and keep the panel on topic until we run out of material and questions from you guys, and then I reserve the right to have the whole thing descend into story-swapping, which can be educational in its own right.

Tim and I will be completing the Top 10 for Sunday 27th in person! Based on the results of your vote in our last list, and we will be recording the efforts of compiling the list at the Warwick Art Centre this very weekend, meaning that you will get to hear the bitter arguing, the deliberating, the nitpicking and quibbling. The Top 10 will be based on your second place winner from the last poll.

I will also be coming equipped with Magic decks, Raid passes for Pokemon Go, and a general willingness to talk to anyone.

Time draws near, I will see you soon…


Getting Social – The Kitacon Hype Train

3 Days Remaining

It’s been four years since that fateful Ayacon where Tim and I first met and this bizarre experience, this weird GeekOut journey that has changed me for the “better”. Last year I hosted a panel on how to build confidence at Amecon, and one of the best pieces of advice I had to offer was to simply go to places where like minded people are and introduce yourself, because I can personally attest to the fact that it works. After so many conventions in a fairly short space of time it has become less about meeting new people, and more about catching up with those people who I see nowhere else.

Kita and it’s contemporaries are well aware that they are a social engine, a driving force behind many people’s interpersonal experiences that brings them out of their comfort zone and immerses them in a melting pot of ideas and attitudes on a platform of common ground… they may not have thought it in those words but I’m sure they’d probably say “Yeah, that sounds about right.” They put effort into making sure that people who are nervous have the best experience possible by ensuring a convention that is enjoyable, accessible and most importantly, safe.

Something popped up on the Kitacon Official Social Group (and shortly thereafter the official page) courtesy of chairman Phil Hutchinson that can go some way to help break the ice:

The “I’m new” badge will be available at a meet and greet for new people shortly after the opening ceremony, and the “Dance” badges will be available on the door to the ball. Sadly my request for “Will Talk To Anyone” badges was declined on the assumption that I’d have done that anyway, how very presumptuous! How terribly accurate. Let this be a warning to you, I am liable to engage in excesses of social interaction.

So what advice is best for people new to conventions?

We don’t know you. Really think about it. We don’t have a clue about all the things that are making you nervous, all we see is someone who likes the same things as we do, which means you’re welcome to join us in a conversation or play a game. You can leave your fears behind, and greet us as a fresh start.

Join in. It sounds daft, because you’re already there, but if you’re at a panel that’s asking for volunteers then go for it. If there’s a board game you’re interested in playing, ask. Ask cosplayers for pictures, trust me, they’ll love you for it. Get up and dance if you feel so inclined… I don’t, but that’s who I am.

Strike out alone. You came with friends, that’s a good thing because they’ll look after you when you need it, just make sure you don’t spend the whole weekend trailing after them. If there’s a panel that you want to see but they’re going to something else, do your thing and meet up later. Or if you’re really not into the party but they want to stay, why not come chill in the games rooms?

Come back next year. During the closing ceremonies there’s almost always an announcement for other conventions on the scene, and usually that’ll include the next big summer con. Or get chatting with the regulars, there’s always more conventions because the demand is enormous.

You’ll get back whatever you put into a convention and so much more. No matter how terrified you may be, if you’re new to the game or old hat, come and say hi to us.


Don’t Forget the DMing 101 panel at 20:00 Saturday in Chancellors 2 hosted by yours truly. I’ll be dishing out advice for those who have never been a DM, GM, Story Teller, Keeper or any other form of role-play master, but as always there’ll be something for those who are longer in the tooth, and will doubtless degrade into hilarious anecdote swapping long into the night.

See you at Kitacon.


Horror And Perspective

The first person view is the easiest way to instil fear in the viewer, the forced perspective makes the experience a lot more personal. The found footage subgenre is great at forcing us into the eyes of the victims and helping us share the experience side-by-side with them, and video games are starting to borrow a few tricks from found footage, such as camera tilting and jolting. Amnesia started those tricks early, having the camera drop to the floor in panic and crawl through a short and boring corridor.

There’s a growing amount of games that bring horror into new perspectives, Limbo, Little Nightmares, and Deadlight are all prime examples of platform horrors that shift the view of the player so that they act as witnesses, rather than active participants, but they employ some rather different methods to inspire dread: (more…)


Pokethulhu – The Kitacon Hypetrain

This coming Kitacon I will be arriving a day early to socialise, get some work done, and to get some gaming in before the convention comes in and cruelly steps on my chances to play, there are still some Magic rematches I owe but I never seem to get the chance because of panels and the like. Damn you Kitacon, getting in the way of me enjoying a perfectly good convention!

Anyway, first item on my docket is a one-shot role play in a system I’ve never run before. It’s an opportunity for me to learn something new, get experimental with something other than Dungeons & Dragons. I chose Pokethulhu because it combines my greatest strength – horror – with an important component of any one-shot where no one is planning on getting emotionally invested with their characters – completely stupid comedy. (more…)


Rick & Morty – Forever And Ever 100 Years

We are officially into the third season of the anomalous Adult Swim property, The Adventures of Rick and Morty. The amount of hype is near-palpable, and the series has undergone huge changes in a very short space of time, from the dramatic conclusion of Season 2 where the Galactic Federation had “incorporated” earth… to the destruction of the Federation, the Council of Ricks, and Beth and Jerry’s marriage. So why does the series keep getting bigger, and where does it go from here? (more…)


Re-Skinning D&D Creatures, Part 2

Last week I took a handful of classic D&D creatures and proposed new uses for their stat-blocks, something to lend a bit of diversity to the current roster with minimal need to create, change or modify. If your campaign has a flavour that the Monster Manual simply doesn’t cater for, there are ways and means of accommodating to your tastes. This week I’ll approach from the other side of the coin, declaring what I need for my campaign and using the tools at hand to make a solution.

Once again I’ll be using D&D 5th edition because it’s what I know best… (more…)


GeekOut Shrewsbury Meet – July ’17

July brings GeekOut Shrewsbury a change in format, no longer divided between two venues, we instead begin at 14:00 at Monty’s Tower and stay there until we’re good and ready to leave… Midnight. Usually slightly earlier. For the determined, the keen, and the early risers, we met up at the Coffeehouse for a fond farewell and a thanks for the memories, and brownies, and for being generally nice people. (more…)


Re-Skinning D&D Creatures

Wizards of the Coast have broken some of their former habits. No longer does their release schedule include Monster Manual after Monster Manual, catalogues and folios, instead they’ve turned their focus to stories, campaigns that spark the imagination and drive creative thought, each coming with a range of monsters, player options, magic items and ideas for Dungeon Masters and players alike. And it seems to be going rather well.

But if you’ve grown tired of recycling the same old classics and staples from the Monster Manual, and even grown sick of the additions from various extra sources like Volo’s Guide and the campaigns, here’s a few ideas on re-skinning a few of those monsters you’ve done to death. (more…)


Game of Thrones – “Shall We Begin”

The culturally dominant phenomenon that has brought a whole new audience to the fantasy genre by implementing human drama, social and political commentary, Game of Thrones is finally coming to an end before the final book is even released. This may be for the best, as rather important chunks of the books have been skipped over or shoehorned in last minute (cough~Euron Greyjoy) and so we may end up with two rather different finales; George R.R. Martin has said that he’s used the television series to toy with new ideas, and what a way to add one final upset.

Loose ends are coming together. We ended the last series with all the major players stepping onto the board, as though every moment before it were only backstory, and every moment of this new season’s premier lists the first moves. Also the wardrobe has gone a shade or three darker than it was before. Here is the Game in action, a Spoiler Warning is in full effect. (more…)


Review – Split

Most of the time when I feel compelled to review a film it’s because it was either brilliant and I feel the need to shout about it, or it was just plain awful, and I feel the need to shout about it. With M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film, a psychological thriller with hints at the supernatural I have to say…

I’m SPLIT!

What a weird combination of good and bad. It’s nice to remember why we liked Unbreakable and the Sixth Sense and that M. Night can be a good director with clever ideas, but what we have on our hands is a film that shines a light on all the problems with those films too. Let’s get into it: (more…)