From the 1990s to just a few years ago, roleplaying for me was really just getting together with a bunch of friends and having fun a couple days a week. At first I wasn’t really aware of conventions. Then I was aware of them but couldn’t be bothered to travel to any of them (skiing has pretty much been the only thing motivating enough for me to organize anything involving not staying the fuck home). Then I went to one or two local conventions here in Vancouver, BC (where the gaming scene is rather underfed, what with everybody going outdoors all the time). I floated the idea of going to GenCon back in 2017 but that seemed like too much work for something involving large crowds and meeting many new people, both of which I hate. But when I heard about ChaosiumCon, I knew that would not only be the convention that got me off my ass, but also the convention that got me to run some games.
I’ve been a fan of Chaosium ever since I discovered Call of Cthulhu in the mid-90s, and that was only reinforced when I finally got into Glorantha around 2018. And now I’ve got this thing you’re currently reading and, maybe sometimes, listening to. I wasn’t going to miss ChaosiumCon.
After getting approval from the missus, jumping on tickets as soon as possible, juggling cancelled flights and airline companies bullshit, playtesting two scenarios, stressing about those two scenarios, arranging all the necessary COVID-related precautions and then some, tweaking my two scenarios and stressing again about those tweaks, and going through my usual unpleasant treatment at the US Customs, I was finally there!
The taxi got me to the hotel with just an hour or so to spare before the opening banquet on Thursday evening, just enough to mingle a bit with the few people I knew online from social media and the several online conventions that flourished since the pandemic started. Chaosium has some pictures here, and you might even spot me in a corner, sitting next to the incomparable Doc Cowie, which we interviewed for Episode 8 of the podcast.
I didn’t linger too much after the banquet. First because I’m somewhat introverted and that was enough socialization for one day, and second because I still wanted to tweak one of my adventures some more. I went to sleep pretty happy but still a bit stressed about running those games.
What’s New At Chaosium
The opening seminar was where Chaosium was announcing some of their new products for this year. If you’ve been following things closely on forums and social media, there wasn’t anything new here: Rivers of London, Regency Cthulhu, Pendragon 6th edition’s Starter Set… but what we’re interested in on this blog is the RuneQuest Prosopaedia! The final cover was revealed:
As we already new, the entire book is illustrated by the excellent Katrin Dirim. It contains information (including Runes!) on virtually every deity and major spirit of Glorantha. Sometimes it might be only one paragraph, and sometimes it might be a bit more, but never too much since it’s meant to be a quick high-level reference.
This announcement created a bit of confusion in fan circles, however. It was originally understood that the upcoming Cults of Glorantha slipcase would include two big books plus the Prosopaedia… but now people were wondering if the Prosopaedia would be released separately. It’s not the case: Chaosium is just announcing the different elements of that slipcase one by one, it seems.
If I was going to nitpick something (and it’s my blog so I’m gonna!), I’ll agree with Phil Hibbs’ observation that the subtitle “An Encyclopedia of the Gods of RuneQuest” feels wrong. RuneQuest is a game, not a setting or a place. “Gods of Glorantha” would sound better and more correct to me.
Running Some Games
Next, I had two games to run back to back! Todd and the other organizers did a great job here by booking lots of small rooms with only one or two tables in each. Not only was it safer with regards to the spread of COVID, but it was also nice because there was only at most one other gaming group making noise in the background.
My first game was a RuneQuest adventure called “The Bloody Banquet”. Among the six players, only one of them was new to the game and the setting. Here’s the pitch:
You are Telmori Wolfbrothers, from the fierce tribe of werewolves who live at the edge of Sartar. You have a strained relationship with the other tribes of the Kingdom, but the Dragonrise ushered a time of turmoil that you can use to your advantage. Your tribe wants to take back the hunting lands they lost to both Lunars and Sartarites over the past couple generations, and that requires negotiating with the neighbours. The problem is: you were invited to a banquet and you blacked-out. Now, you’re waking up, covered in blood, surrounded by corpses. What happened? How are you going to fix this? What are you going to do?
My second game was a Call of Cthulhu adventure called “Survey on Mount Seton”, set in my neck of the woods:
Mount Seton is located in British Columbia (Canada). It has been largely left to nature by the local First Nation tribes, but BC Hydro, energy provider for British Columbia, has been looking into expanding their presence with a bigger water reservoir and hydro-electric power plant. A survey team was dispatched on the mountain, but contact was lost. Now, a multi-disciplinary team has been hastily assembled to find out what happened to them.
“Survey on Mount Seton” is a modern horror scenario set in the Canadian Rockies’ back-country, and everything you think might happen will definitely happen. And then some.
With only 4 players it was a lot of fun, with a lot of improvisation on my part since I kept tweaking things up until the point when the players were reading their characters’ bio. Yeah, that’s how I roll.
I will try to bring both of those adventures to Chaosium’s community content programs… fingers crossed.
Cake and Questworlds!
At some point during the day, Margaret “Eff/Effy” Gill organized a “Happy Birthday Elmal” celebration with some cake. It was a great culinary opportunity to talk about everybody’s favourite Gloranthan flamewar! “Thirty Years of Confusion” says the cake!
I also played in a nice game of Questworlds with that same Margaret. Ian Cooper, line editor for Questworlds, was our gamemaster, so we know we got the “proper” treatment of the game!
By that time I was already getting tired, but even after the game it was hard to pass on more nerdy talk with random people at the hotel bar until after midnight.
This was another day of gaming for me. In fact, between the games I ran and the games I played in, I didn’t have time to go to any seminar. Oh well.
RuneQuest and Hawkmoon!
My first game of the day was “Jeff Runs Something!” We didn’t really know what to expect besides it using RuneQuest, and Jeff Richard running it. I was happy to see that it turned into a heroquesting adventure, which gave me a first look at the upcoming heroquest rules. They exist, people! I tried them!
You might recognize the same kind of heroquesting sheet that Jeff had already shared on Facebook, only here filled with Yanioth’s stats. Further back are some maps of the God Plane, one of which he also had shared previously:
Then I played in Jason Durall’s Hawkmoon game… knowing virtually nothing about Hawkmoon!
It was fun and quite interesting: Hawkmoon’s BRP rules have a limited skill list with pretty low scores, and dice rolls for your armour protection!
The end of the convention was supposed to feature a Glorantha freeform (my first ever!) but it was sadly and understandably cancelled after a couple people were revealed to be COVID positive among the crowd. As far as I know the virus didn’t spread much (all trace contacts that I know of, including myself, tested negative) but obviously a 60-people LARP could have changed that compared to groups of a handful of people at separate tables. I gave my thanks to John Wick for making that difficult decision, especially since he was feeling down about it.
I missed the Chaosium Auction, which was happening at the same time as Jason’s Hawkmoon game, but I managed to sneak in a few minutes at a time while we were taking small breaks.
There was a whole mix of products, from old classics in perfect condition (including some of them still in shrink wrap) to some truly exclusive items such as original layout boards and uncut cover prints (which are very suitable for framing and putting up on a wall).
I was there when this mint 1st edition Pendragon boxed set went from a couple hundred dollars to $1200 USD in a matter of seconds. There were some very wealthy and motivated collectors in the audience that day.
In fact, as far as I can tell, many items went for higher prices than what you can find on eBay or Noble Knight. Of course, those items were in perfect condition (and, again, some were still shrink-wrapped). Some were even signed. So that’s understandable. But most of us mere mortals just need a readable and usable item, so I can definitely settle on more reasonable prices for a slightly damaged box with “good” or “very good” booklets inside. No regrets there.
At some point during the convention I checked out the market hall, where Chaosium, Petersen Games, and a few others had stands. There’s no way I could buy any of the giant board game boxes from Petersen Games, having only carry-on luggage for the flight back, so averted my eyes from their products and walked over to the reasonably sized books on the other side.
Chaosium had all kinds of products there, including the entire Stafford Library collection, some Glorantha Classics, the Argan Argar Atlas, and the possibly-now-out-of-print Glorantha map sets.
I missed it but apparently Jeff Richard and Claudia Loroff tried Type40’s Vasana outfit!
I saw it later on Claudia’s phone, as she mentioned that Jeff didn’t “fill up the armour” correctly. I replied that he might fill it, just not in the right places… who wore it better?
As already mentioned in our recent interview with him, Rick Meints didn’t have the new Meints Index to Glorantha available for sale at the convention, but he did have a few advance prints for friends and contributors (it’s “at the printer” and will be available for sale later this year). In fact, there were many gifts brought by various people for various other people. It was like an Orlanthi gathering. I was there when a fan (whose name I forgot, apologies to them) gave Jeff this awesome bronze plate etched by Ben La Barge:
The main new thing to buy for Gloranthaphiles was the “Stafford House Campaign”, also known as volume 1 (ominous!) of the “Chaosium Archival Collection”. Rick had, again, teased it during his interview:
It contains a collection of very early articles by Greg Stafford from APAs such as Alarums & Excursions and The Wild Hunt, plus some unpublished ones. These are mostly notes and comments on his RuneQuest campaigns at the time, and even features some of his players’ character sheets. I started reading it on the plane back home and it has some interesting bits in it! As far as I heard, it will be a print-on-demand item, probably like the other Stafford Library books.
Between a few purchases and the Gamemasters’ raffle organized by Chaosium, I came back with quite a few more books than I expected! In fact, after taking this picture, I even got one or two more books for random reasons.
Red Goddess Libations
With the Gloranthan freeform cancelled, there was some food and drinks that would go unconsumed. And in particular, some people had brought this magnificent amphora of wine!
So a few people gathered for some “Libations to the Red Goddess”, some of them in their orginally-intended LARP costume. Claudia gave us some explanations about where each of these foods came from (I think there were Esrolian dates, Praxian cheese, Caladraland wine, and some rare dried Pamaltelan flower, or something). Chatter, laughter, and music went on late into the night as we hung out between Gloranthaphiles, talking about pretty much everything and anything besides Glorantha.
One thing I was a bit sad about was the lack of time to mingle with the Call of Cthulhu crowd. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to stretch between two big fandoms, so I only briefly got to say hi to Bridgett, thank Sandy, nod at Seth, or drink with Mike.
On the plus side, I was floored by how many people knew about the podcast! Thank you to all the people who, after hearing my sexy French accent, exclaimed “oh you’re the guy from that Glorantha podcast!” You made my day over and over again!
I got to chat with JM and Evan from Exploring Glorantha, witnessed Nick excitedly explain Lunar history to Arthur Petersen, saw Margaret’s legendary water bottle, got Doc Cowie to do push-ups, embarrassed Pedro, dived into furries and bronies with Simeon and Herve, discussed the pros and cons of various ski resorts with Jeff, wore some red-tinted glasses while listening to Moonchild by King Crimson, and had other wonderful and fun discussions with Ian, Ben, James, and too many other people to list here (apologies to those lumped in here!)
Special thanks go to Todd and the convention organizers who did an excellent job given the difficult times we’re in, Neil and Rick for their help and support, and Jeff and Ian for their very kind words. Everybody at Chaosium was friendly, accessible, and welcoming.
People say that conventions are all about the people you meet. People say that the Glorantha fandom is like being part of a tribe. Well, it’s a great bunch of people, it’s a wonderful tribe, and judging from the half dozen Facebook friend requests I came home to, I guess I’m part of it too now! I’m definitely looking forward to the next ChaosiumCon. If you’re there and you hear some sexy French accent, there’s a good chance it’s me, so come and say hi!