Sunday, 28 August 2016

Pengineering - What do you carry things in?

My brother is a man known for finding amazing things, particularly when he knows what you like...

I like pens...

I also like inks...

So on my birthday, when he came to me and gave me a box, I had some idea of what it might contain...

I had no idea it would be this good...

The box is wooden, with a brass lock hinge on the front, and inside was mounted three sets of inserts with a single pen presented upon them.  Pretty enough, but not as functional as it could be, and I'm a pengineer, so I had to tinker with it...

With this in mind, I stripped out the card inserts and used them to line the inner of the box with the same colours, which had the added bonus of increasing the amount of space within the box.  Where once the box had held these...

Now the box holds all of these...

And when you're packing them away, even more still...

So that's Nine different inks, one glass dip pen, two nib holders, eight nibs, and a disposable brush pen for when the Kanji mood takes me...  I still have a pen roll with which to tempt the unsuspecting to the path of the dark ink, and while I'm not quite to the level of

I think I'm probably getting there...

I love this box, carry it most places with me because it's solid, all the inks fit in perfectly without rolling around, and with the lock on the front, I don't have to worry about it opening and spilling everywhere...

What does everyone else use?

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Strategygamecon - Day Two

I should point out that I'm not at Strategy for day 2, I knew I wouldn't be needed there for the other days, so I pulled off site after that.  However, Simon Burley was down there and sent me a few images to show me how things were going.

By all accounts, busier today, the tournaments drew in better numbers, but as with all tournaments, the players only came for them, rather than the show.

The RPG room has been busier, with many of the GMs working together to produce good games for all those concerned, and after talking with Simon earlier today, the possibility of something else that I'll be working through with him and then coming back to you all with.

All in all, communication issues notwithstanding, it seems to have done well for Card games, which given Rob Hooleys background, you would expect it to, but needs to pick up on other aspects of the games industry and provide better information and updates than were available this year.  Not an unforgivable sin, but certainly something that needs to improve if there's to be a year two.

Hopefully more images tomorrow, will post as soon as I have them...

Friday, 26 August 2016

Strategygamecon - Day One

So, some time back I mentioned that there was a new convention coming out that was starting with a very bold four day event and run with 24/7 gaming, this was to be called Strategy Games Con and it was sponsored by MCM expo events.

This last week has seen a few things change in the event, with little to no notice to those attending the event.  The first of which was the loss of the thursdays gaming, a change which only became apparent on tuesday, then yesterday the change of times for the event from an 0900 start to a 1300 start.

Suffice it to say that if I hadn't known the person running the event, I would have been curious to see if the rest of the event was going on as planned, and when I got there, it was apparent a number of other people had had similar thoughts.

But I was already down there as I promised I would be, so I dropped in...

Arrived on site around 11:00 to find the redoubtable Andrew Prowse already on site, as he had been from 09:00, and certainly the best dressed man on site, which given his new kickstarter (Top Hats and Treachery) was entirely suitable.

And so into the hall to make sure the few RPG's I'd managed to arrange were all set up and good to go, I had no fear with Simon Burley leading the charge, but when I've said I'll help, I always turn up to keep my promise.  As it turns out, Simon was already on site, closely followed by Robin Poole, and of course, one of the I love the Corps crew who brought possibly the best badge of office I've seen in recent times.

I've got to get me one of those...
Took a look around the trade hall, which was smaller than had been advertised, but had a few interesting traders there, including KakapopoTCG, a new retailer that dealt with wooden puzzle boxes for dice and play pieces, completed with intricate mini padlocks and other curios, then old favourites like Dicing on the Cake.  With Battlefield Hobbies pulling out last minute, it has left a large hole in the programming, but they're doing what they can to fill that gap.

Caught up with the Esdevium demo team on site, good to catch up with Mick and Kat and see that they were on top of things, but I do feel that the last minute changes in the lineup that didn't get communicated well reduced the number of people coming along on the first day, particularly with it being a new convention and not yet proven.

Five minutes prior to doors open
I wasn't needed to help at this, so we pulled off site and headed home, I hope it gets more people tomorrow, there's a few people who are staying over who've said they'll get some photos and post them up.  I can confirm that the gaming will be open 24 hours a day across the weekend contrary to some rumours that went on earlier in the day about the saturday and sunday being reduced to 10:00 to 16:00 (those being the times for one of the events in there.), and that the cafeteria area out front is the open gaming (the signs are on the wrong side of the pillar, don't be fooled), and while I'm not there, I am interested in how they do this weekend, so if there's anyone there, get in touch.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Free Release of SLA Sourcebook Blood and Glass

So I was Line Developer of SLA industries ten years ago, and six weeks back I said I was releasing the sourcebook that I'd been working on at the time when that job finished for free.  Life (three birthdays including Marks 25th), two other writing pieces, and a major convention (with another one tomorrow) got in the way of dragging it all together and so it's only just now that I've done it.

I need to make it clear that this is the work of a fan, not an official piece for SLA, and that the final book ten years back would have had more art and more chapters, but this is all I had ready when I closed it down.

I also wanted to use the artwork that we'd commissioned for the piece, and ideally wanted to get it formatted SLA style to make it look good.  Managed the first one, didn't manage the second one, so it's barebones, and I've given it the once over, but there's bound to be errors, feel free to point them out, I'll correct.

I still believe in SLA, I think as a setting it's one of the best things to ever come out, and I'll never regret a single of the million words that I wrote for it, but it's time for me to let it go and give everyone what I promised them all that time back.

Sorry it took so long everyone

The links are on this page , you can download the file direct, there's a few more sourcebooks besides this one there as well.

And if it had a soundtrack, it would have started with this

One last thing, SLA are currently doing a Kickstarter for a miniatures game based out in the Cannibal Sectors, I've seen the rules on the game and there's a lot of effort going into it and I think it's going to be the first new product in a long line, which pleases me enormously.  Those wanting to check it out should look here

And the facebook group for the new game is here

Please feel free to give feedback on the book, feel free to post the link anywhere you like, but try and link back to this so the other links for the kickstarter and facebook groups are included.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Convention Support Required - Bradford, England, 21-22nd October 2016

Airecon is not one that I've been to before, but it's been running for a while, which is why I'm throwing support behind it now, because I think that it's one of those cons that's nearly at the tipping point, things are going well, but with a little support from the community in general, they'll be going great...

So here it is, full details of the convention behind the cut, but for the purposes of this post, they're looking for volunteers to help out over the weekend,

Rewards package is very substantial, and for those wanting to volunteer, go to

Volunteering is done in 2 hour slots, with the minimum commitment being 2 slots (4-hours), but the more that is done, the more rewards!
The rewards are;
2 slots - Entry to one day and AireCup (gives free refills on hot drinks)
3 slots - Entry to both days, T-shirt and AireCup
4 slots - Entry to both days, Personalised T-shirt, AireCup and 1 meal voucher
5 slots - Entry to both days, Personalised T-shirt, AireCup and 2 meal vouchers
6 slots - Entry to both days, Personalised T-shirt, AireCup and 3 meal vouchers
7+ slots - Entry to both days, Personalised T-shirt, AireCup, 4 meal vouchers and a high five
Meal vouchers can be exchanged for a meal deal at the Panini Bar (which also serves burgers and hot dogs) or for a proper Bradford Curry on Saturday night.

And now the Blurb

AireCon is an open board game event in Yorkshire.

Now in it's second year, AireCon started in Guiseley, Leeds (in the Aire Valley) and has now 

moved to bigger and better premesis in Bradford.______________________

Dates & times 

It's 21-22 October
Friday 11am-midnight
Sat - 10am - 11.30pm
£8.50 for one day
£15 for both

Jubilee Centre, Jermyn St, Bradford BD1 4EJ

Free parking

Disabled access and toilets______________________


Massive Board Game Library - Travelling Man are providing their OPS Board Game library for the event, the games are available to borrow, just leave a £10 returnable deposit and borrow as many games as you like through the weekend.

If you are interested in running an event or a longer game, we may be able to provide a space for that, please contact us on aireconuk@gmail.com______________________

Food and drink

Saturday night curry - Just add the curry ticket on to your purchase to get a curry on 

Saturday night (served 6-8pm), just £8 for a huge portion of veggie/chicken curry with rice, 

naan and a samosa.

Snacks and soft drinks will be available to purchase throughout the event.

There are plenty of food outlets at the nearby Broadway Shopping Centre as well as a 


You can also bring your own food, drink and alcohol.______________________

There are lots of hotels near the venue, here are the closest and cheapest;The Bradford Hotel: Inn: Inn Express: Midland:


If you are interested in voluntering at the event, please contact us with your email and mobile phone number at: aireconuk@gmail.com______________________



FB page:

Event page:

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

So what's going on, several posts a week to almost none for the whole week...?

The problem with having an active life is that sometimes you wish it were less active...

For example, since the 11th, Jude and I went down to the FFG nationals to help Mike Budd and the team with the organisation of the tournament and the operational running of the main desk.  We stayed down there till the middle of the day on saturday when (to be honest) we weren't needed anymore and the FFG guys could more than handle it.

Sunday spent the entire day working on Dragonmeet, Organised Play for Achtung Cthulhu (coming soon, promise), finishing off Drops of Blood (coming by the end of this week if I don't get anyone saying Ye Gods at the content).

Monday and Tuesday at the day job

And today...

Well, Todays been another day I've spent with mum, and while it's good that I get to spend time with her, the reason that I spend time with her every wednesday isn't so very good.

But Chemotherapy never is...

It's not the first time I've been with her to these sessions, and while we hope for the best, sometimes settling for what we have might be all we have.  In this particular case, what started out as Breast cancer has spread to a number of places.

Incurable but not untreatable is how it's been described...

Of course, hope springs eternal, as it should, and indeed as it must, when you sit in a room of people all having chemotherapy, the thought occurs that even though many may have cancers that aren't curable, they're not there to wait for death, they're there because they're intent on living.

Cancer is a terrible thing, but speak to those who've been through Chemotherapy, I'll wager many will tell you that the cure is as bad as the disease itself, which makes it all the more heartening to see how many of them are upbeat in the face of what's going on.  Some people have loved ones with them, some don't, but no one should have to go though that room by themselves, so between mum and me, we end up talking to most of the people in there, and the day goes faster as a result.  Sometimes it's just mum and me, and these days take between four and eight hours depending on how well results go or how well medication is working, but it's no hardship to sit with someone you love.

So if (as some have found today) I'm not available all that much on Wednesdays, there's a real good reason why I'm not available, and I'll get back to you when I get mum home...

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Unofficial SLA book, content and proof readers needed

Finished the basic edit on the book, but it's a lot of content and a lot of it is darker than I remember, so I'm looking for a few people to have a glance through and see if I've gone off the rails and down the side too much, get in touch if you're interested

Stage two of building the Games community: Places and Playing...

A few weeks back I put out a call for all those interested in building the community and helping out in making RPGs a more accessible thing.

I was expecting a few dozen responses...

Not a few hundred...

But a few hundred is what I got...

So now it's not just a project to slightly increase the number of games being played in the world, it's a project to increase games by a great amount around the world, and We need your help again to get the second part in motion.

This time we need places where games can be played, anything from Local Games Stores to Gaming Clubs, to Gaming Cafe's, and we need them to want to have games played there, because we don't have time to go around all the different places confirming that they're up for this.

So, get in touch with the places where you play games, if they've already got enough games, no problem, no need for our help, but if they're after more games and people to run them, get them to throw me a line.  If you're a games shop or cafe that's after more people playing, get in touch and we'll get the rest of it in motion.

Let us be clear, we're not doing this to increase your customer base, if this works well, the number of people in the shop will likely increase, but it's not why this program is being rolled out.

Something that many people have mentioned about is the need for things to be welcoming to all, all games for all people, and there needs to be a welcome for anyone who turns up, so i'm putting this out now.

Any games that are run under this program will need to be accessible for all.

That means no adult themes, no swearing, no gratuitous violence, they need to be games that encourage people to get into the game and get involved.  If you turn up to the table as a newbie and find out that all you're doing is killing things, the next thought you have might well be "Why don't I just play Diablo", and we've lost that player, so there needs to be equal amounts of character and carnage to show everyone what tabletop has to offer.

We've already had a large number of scenarios that work across a variety of systems, all of them suitable for all ages, genders, and experience levels.  These are the beginner games that will see most time at the new player evenings, and there's nothing to stop players from looking for something darker or more adult when they get into games properly and want to play something more involved.

But to begin with, beginners games for beginners.

That brings us to No grief in gaming, which is the initiative that we're putting together now to show how the table should conduct itself when playing games with new players.  When you're an old crew, you know each other well and you know what you can get away with, but when you're new to things, you need a place where you know you won't get shouted down, you won't get rules-lawyered, and you won't get excluded because you're catching up with things.  These rules are going to be clear and we expect that those running games for newbies follow them, most of you already do, in fact, most of you are the ones suggesting the rules, but we need that to be clear.

We're looking for more scenarios, both for people to run and for people to take away to run in their own groups, We'll take any scenarios for any system, just leave a note when you send them as to what audience they're suitable for, We'll read through them anyway, but it helps if we have a jump start on what's going on in there so we know where to file it.

We've had a number of requests for sessions where younger players and women have their own spaces to attend and play games in a safe environment, and that is something we're taking very seriously.  It's certainly something we are able to provide with the people that we've had offering to help, but any such sessions will need to be agreed with the venues ahead of time and so we're not confirming anything till we have tacit approval to do so.

One last thing

This needs a name...

We've had a few suggestions, but we're interested to hear more.

Spread the word, the snowball is on the top of the hill and we've got it rolling, it's only going to get bigger...

Ink Review - Diamine Imperial Purple

And another ink that came with the birthday was Diamine's imperial purple, I only ask for smaller bottles of ink these days, after I made a mistake and ordered a large bottle of Deep Dark Blue that I'm still trying to get through.

This in turn has led to me having a whole bunch of different inks that make me want to change the colour every few days.

and more on that in a few days.

Imperial Purple is a good ink, the colour does vary depending on how fast you write and with how large a nib, but it tends to dry in a brighter purple than it look when you first put it on the page, liking the colour a lot, but there is a cautionary note in this one.

It's very sticky...

Dries fast, and that's not so much of a problem most of the time, but I've just had to dismantle (completely) the TWSBI that I got given a short while ago, the plunger was so stuck I had to needle it out and regrease, so be careful when you're filling a vacuum pen with this one.

Otherwise though, lovely colour, nice flow, like it a lot.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Ink Review - Diamine Red Dragon

So there's going to be a few posts coming up in the days to come, as it was my birthday, and knowing me as my family do, there were a number of pen related goodies coming out of the birthday box, but because the birthday party was delayed till yesterday, many things arrived then...

One of which was a bottle of Diamine's Red Dragon Ink...

I have, prior to this, been using Deep Dark Red, and it suited my needs for a while, but I've found in recent times that the Deep Dark colours all have a similar shading to them (as might be expected given the range), and that the colours are one step down on the shading to what I'm expecting them to be.  The Deep Dark Blue is very much closer to blue black, the Deep Dark Red much closer to Crimson and Oxblood, and while I like all colours...

Sometimes you want Red, to just be Red...

On the recommendation of my friend Richard Evans, I asked for Red Dragon for my birthday and I have not been disappointed.  Like all Diamine ink that I've tried, it's fast flowing and reasonably fast drying (particularly when writing on good paper), but the colour is everything I look for in a Red, good strong colour without being the shade of dried blood (don't ask how I know that...) when it finally settles, retaining enough colour to be clearly visible whilst still allowing some transparency.

Liking it, it might not be my every day carry (still HOD), but given some of the other presents I got, it will certainly be one of my go to colours when I'm looking for a day of brightness.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Asmodee Buys Z Man - Or why I don't want all Cars to be VW...

I've known it for a while, but it's just been announced that Asmodee are looking at taking on Z Man, and speaking as an independent buyer of games (not with any of my convention heads on), I have to say that this didn't fill me with a great sense of joy.

Why not...?

Because when you're a larger company, you have to ensure that you can pay all the staff that you have, and that in turn means that you have to (to some extent) ensure that every product you put out there is something that will sell, and that, in turn means that some of the more abstract things tend to go by the wayside.

Now understand me in where I'm coming from, Asmodee have an excellent track record for good games with excellent production values, their acquisition of Fantasy Flight did nothing to diminish that, and certainly in going for Z Man, they are continuing to go for quality products, and nothing in that worries me.

What I don't want to happen is the same thing that happened to the entire VW line of cars when they'd bought out everyone else...

You couldn't tell the difference anymore...

There's nothing wrong with VW cars (alright, emissions, I know...) but when you look at the various stables that have been subsumed into the brand, and what they started off looking like, when you look at them now, you get the impression that they're all the same thing with a different badge.

There are other cars to be sure, faster, more efficient, better engines, better electrics, cheaper..., but when you see most cars these days, they'll come from one of the VW stables, and while it'll have a different badge, slightly different trim, it'll be the same thing under the bonnet...

And that's what I fear most...

Z Man have been one of my favourite publishers for a long time, good production values and interesting ideas, but many of the games that have come out don't have expandable potential, so it's only the base set and that's all you need to play it for ever.  Games that I've had fantastic fun with, like Arabian Nights and Blueprints, that have everything that I want to play in the single box, that don't need expansions, and probably only appeal to a far more limited demographic than games like X wing or Netrunner, but aren't in the cheap and cheerful section like other Asmodee staples such as Dobble...

Time will tell, and I like to think that in wanting to buy out Z Man, Asmodee have recognised the unique way of doing games that makes Z Man special, choosing to buy it to add that distinctiveness to their own (yes, those words were chosen on purpose...) rather than wanting it to remove the element that Z Man bring to the table to lower the number of options that people have to play with.

I could be wrong...

I hope I'm not...

There's space enough in the world for all types of games to be played without competition with each other, and just as there are millions who enjoy the competitive nature of games, so there are those who just enjoy games.  

I fall into the latter category.

I play games because I enjoy the social element of it, I've been in the Magic world championships, I've played Netrunner for years, and while it's still enjoyable, it's not the same game you play against friends around the table, when you'll forgive each other a slight lapse because you're all just enjoying the game.  I have no inclination to go get the latest superships (and having seen all the lists for the recent nationals, I know which ones they are) to play at the top level, and I have no interest in seeing what comes out next to beat the previous combinations.

So it's my hope that Z Man will still be producing the awesome one shots in years to come, whatever name they go by...

But we'll see...

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

And a birthday came around, and with it, the Heart of Darkness...

And so it was my birthday yesterday, and many things did come my way, including a new bottle of Noodlers Heart of Darkness ink, and with it, as seems to be the way with these inks, a new Charlie eyedropper pen...

Cheerful I am...

The ink is one of the best one's I've ever had the joy to work with, fast drying, very black, and bulletproof, so having a spare bottle available means I can now stop rationing my original bottle (bought more than a year back and half empty even when used sparingly), but the interesting thing was the Charlie pen.

As noted earlier in the week, I've had problems with eyedroppers in the past...

No longer it seems

It's a basic pen, light plastic construction with screw top and screw nib (required for this type of pen), the ebonite nib was far more restricted than the previous eyedropper I had from Noodlers (a tinker), and once filled and primed, wrote a lot faster than the previous one.

Broader nib than I'm used to, and with the ink flowing fast, it means that I have to write a lot faster and broader than I normally do to make sure the ink doesn't pool on the page, but it does make for a perfectly good note taker (when I'm not trying to keep things perfect), and I suspect it will continue to be used for some time in just that capacity.

Getting to like using eyedroppers though, any particular recommendations out there that people find effective?  I'm looking for fine nibs (preferably japanese extra fine) and ideally something with a little weight to it.

Monday, 1 August 2016

August call for conventions needing GM's

Decided to start doing this once a month at the beginning of the month, then leave it for the rest of the month, that way the lists don't get spammed with requests for people helping at cons.

In the next few months, the following conventions are needing GMs, I've listed what each is looking for and what each is offering in return in the full description of the con.


Continuum is the weekend of the 12th to 14th of August in Leicester, England, they're looking for all different games from tabletop RPGs to LARP and Freeform, they don't provide complimentary entry, but as noted before, they do provide a drink of whatever you like in return for a game run.  Full details at

Strategycon is running between the 25th and 28th of August this year in Telford, and is primarily CCG and LCG at the moment, but they are looking to increase the number of other games that they're running.  They will provide free entry in return for a single game run, and accommodation in return for five games run over the weekend, full details and submissions forms can be found at

Wyntercon is running on the first and second of October this year in Eastbourne, and is still looking to have more games in the lineup, free entrance for running four hours of games, beginner and child friendly is a must as the crowd there isn't pure RPG and reacts better to shorter games that allow them to play the rest of the con.  Anyone interested should contact to book their games in, Rachael Hodgson is the Games Tzar there and will be happy to advise on suitability of games.

Dragonmeet is the 3rd of December at the Novotel Hammersmith in London, free entry for four hours of games provided, and we're happy to take all different types of games, as well as suggestions for live games and demonstration games.  We're bigger this year than we have been in previous years and we're looking to increase the number of games on offer.  We're also needing more volunteers for working the floor on the convention.  Full details can be found at 

If you need more details on any of these conventions, get in touch and I'll advise where I can.