On Conventionality

Today I did a thing that I have not done in something like 8 years. I went to a gaming convention.

My best friend Peter came out from Redlands and we hooked up to head out there. All we really did was go to the dealer room, which is free and we did not wish to spend the entire day or whole weekend trying to figure out what games to play. So we just spent a couple hours going to the various dealers and seeing what was to be seen.

The single strangest thing (for me) was wandering by, of all things, the Flying Buffalo booth. It took me a few moments to realize that was what it was. Geesh, talk about a blast from my gaming past: Tunnels and Trolls was the first RPG I ever played, back in 4th grade. In the booth was Rick Loomis, founder of the company and writer of Buffalo Castle, which may be the first solo dungeon ever written and the progenitor of choose your own adventure books. I didn’t geek out on him, possibly because he didn’t actually write the T&T stuff to whichI have a real emotional attachment, but talk about random. We chitchatted a bit about the old game and as I flipped through one of their publications, I spotted the, ah… "iconic" Rob Carver drawing below, which has probably graced the pages of every T&T edition and which used to be available on t-shirts:

vital
I mention this because when Rick heard me pointing it out to Peter, he offered to tell me the story behind that bit of silliness. It seems that Ken St Andre was running a session of early T&T and Rob’s character got ambushed by a cougar. He managed to loose a crossbow bolt  down its throat as it leapt upon him, but it survived the shot. He complained, and Ken replied that he "must not have hit a vital spot." Hence that drawing appearing shortly thereafter. Hey, I thought it was funny. I’m not really impressed with what Flying Buffalo has done in the past number of years, but they seem to be making ends meet and I’m always happy to see a gaming company survive, especially one that started up in the early seventies.

Anyhow, we also dropped by the Indie Press Revolution booth and I showed Peter some of the interesting indie games out there (the only indie game other than some of my own design he’s played is Capes, as detailed in one of my earlier posts). I got to talking with one of the guys there about my current design project, and he recommended Burning Wheel to me, which someone else also recommended to me in [info]roleplayers.

Now, my response to the prior recommendation was that I’m unlikely to buy a gamebook I’ve never seen or handled personally just for this design project, and I doubted any gaming shop around here would carry it thus allowing me to see and heft without buying first… well, here it was, so see and heft indeed I did, and discussed it at some length with the Indie Press guy, who uses it for one of his own campaigns. So I picked it up. I may end up getting the monster burner and magic burner eventually too, as the magic one looks like it might accomodate my desire for a dynamic magic system without having to build my own from scratch (a definite plus). So I’ll digest it and see what I think, though I already know that I find some of its possibilities intriguing.

Also, in a forsaken and only sporadically manned booth that had a lot of arcane old merchandise, I actually found a copy of Claiming Rites, the first volume of the incomplete grapic novel series Gate of Ivrel, Jane Fancher’s adaptation of the eponymous novel by CJ Cherryh and one of my favorite books. I’d found out these existed some years ago on Cherryh’s own website (linked above) but never seen them in person, so naturally I bought the thing ($4!) as soon as the little goblin of a boothkeeper returned from whatever nether-realm had swallowed him up. Yes, I’ve already read it through. Fancher’s artwork reminds me a bit of Wendy Pini’s, which makes sense given that the Pinis helped her get into the graphic novels business anyhow. Yes, the interior art is better than the cover. ;). I like it. Maybe I’ll break my usual no-fanart rule and draw some Morgaine series pieces in my SAD stuff soon. We’ll see.

I’ll close with a text excerpt that appears near the beginning of the novel, and likewise in the grapic. It’s an old folkrhyme from the Kurshin people of the book, speaking of Morgaine:

"When Thiye ruled in Hjemur,
Came strangers riding there,
And three were dark
And one was gold
And one like frost was fair,
Fair was she and fatal as fair,
And cursed who gave her ear,
Now men are few,
and wolves are more,
And the winter drawing near."

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