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Dragonmeet 2012

I thought this year’s Dragonmeet might be a bit of an austerity one but in fact the convention seemed to be in good health. There were good stalls from Chronicle City (Angus Abranson’s new venture), Cubicle 7 and Pelegrane Press. Only Mongoose seemed quite muted with nothing really of interest on offer. For the small press, Graham Walmsley was running the indie stall, Arion Games and Wizard Books represented Fighting Fantasy and gamebooks in general and James Raggi had his new Lamentations of the Flame Princess stuff.

The Indie games on demand tables seemed to do a roaring trade, partly from people who wanted to give various indie games a go (a number of people seemed to own the games but had been unable to persuade their groups or friends to give them a try) but also because it was the one place where you could drop in an get a few hours of gaming on a game of your choice. In the more mainstream demos I wanted to give One Ring a go but managed to miss both game signups. Since it is a game that seems to require a larger group and benefits from campaign play I was disappointed as I don’t think I’ll play it in the normal course of events.

Apart from the publishers and the gaming tables the big thing at Dragonmeet were the seminars. This year they were held in the dramatic location of the Westminster debating chamber and were even recorded so expect a video somewhere at some point.

The two seminars I attended were the Glorantha Q&A around their Kickstarter and one about the history and future of British roleplaying. I also managed to catch Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson giving a genteel Q&A at the end of their talk.

The two seminars were a real contrast. I’ve seen the Glorantha people talk before last year and really enjoyed and this year their enthusiasm and pleasure in what they do once again carried me along. Mostly they were talking about the Guide to Glorantha but they used the large projector to show a lot of pieces of art from the Guide and used them to frame their discussion of what they have been doing. When someone can show a picture of a vase from the fictional mythology of a fictional world and then wax lyrical for three minutes about its importance you either love it or think this guys are nuts. I love it and the whole talk did get me fired up about Glorantha and the Moon Design projects again.

The final talk of the day really was the opposite, a dismal review of British roleplaying publishers sales numbers with some hand-wringing about the youth of today, lightened only by Indiemeet Pier’s anecdote about playing a maid dressed in Gothic Lolita and his final rallying cry to the audience to create games they want to play.

I’m not sure what the point of the panel was I was expecting something about the nature of British roleplaying but actually the Fighting Fantasy talk did a better job of talking about the history and character of British fantasy roleplaying.

In terms of the future I think that currently we are in a kind of Golden Age of gaming where I get to play amazing games with people who are really open to trying new things. If the commercial aspect of full-colour book publishing doesn’t reflect that then I think that perhaps it is the nature of gaming changing while the publishing model is still stuck on 1983.

Perhaps the most insightful statement on the future of roleplaying was from Simon Rogers when he said that the best way to grow the roleplaying audience was to create games that 12 year olds want to play with their friends. What teenagers really want to game with adults anyway?