John (zandev) wrote,


A couple of weeks ago, I headed to Derbyshire for ConStellation, which was a gaming con / group holiday organised by leathellin. This coincidentally coincided with my 40th Birthday, which was a great excuse for a party.

We were staying at Haddon Grove Farm Cottages which were comfortable, and a good venue for hosting the large group we had (there were around 30 of us). They also had a surprisingly reasonable pool, which meant I got to go for a swim on five days (I also went for a run on three days, but that was more painful). There was still snow around in drifts, but fortunately not enough to cause actual problems.

I was sharing a cottage with (obviously), and chrisvenus and quisalan, who were excellent cottage-mates.

The first day involved me running my game, which was a non-a-sequel-but-in-the-same-world follow on to my previous Interesting Times game. This was set in the modern world, so added gunplay, hacking and espionage to the previous martial arts and sorcery. As a playtest of additional parts of the system, I got the players to create characters. I had intended to do this at the con, but this plan was scuppered by running on the first day. Thanks to my players for coping with this, and each coming up with a great character. These were secretrebel's literal tiger-style martial artist, davefish's technomage who didn't believe in technology, and chrisvenus's billionaire playboy ninja, ar_boblad's healer believing in the strict sanctity of life, ao_lai's extremely lucky techie, and two_nukes's sorcerer Indiana Jones.

I think it went well, though as it often the case it was a little pushed for time, and the rules need a few more tweaks. Some more simplification so that it doesn't take quite so much table space up may also help. I'll probably run this as a one off again soon (and see later in this post for discussion of a possible campaign).

On the next day, chrestomancy introduced several of us to the impressive Eclipse. This does a remarkable job of capturing most of the parts of computer space strategy games like Master of Orion, in a board game format that was relatively easy to pick up and play. I had a slightly unusual game in that I joined an alliance and until very nearly the end of the game managed not to build any ships, upgrade any designs or even move the starting ship. I had to relent in the penultimate turn though and upgraded my designs as a threat to stop the alliance breaking, and in the very final turn I built a single ship and got involved in a battle.

The third day was my birthday, so glittertigger and I headed off to Chatsworth. We both thought the house was a little too over-the-top, but there were interesting things to see, including the very impressive rock garden (it's a garden with lots of giant rocks) and the farm animals.

The Chatsworth farm shop was pushing the boundaries of what a farm shop can be, with a near supermarket sized car-park, and around five checkout lanes. It did provide some great steaks, and yet more nibbled for:

The party in the evening was great fun, and it turns out snow banks form a great storage area for bottles of champaign. Five different cakes appeared, including hearthfire's amazing dice cake (I'll get around to posting pictures later). Thanks also to ar_gemlad and a_llusive for the other cakes.

Sorry for those not at the party as it was held at the con; I'll have another party in Oxford soon. :)

I then managed to get in some playing of other people's games. I played in hearthfire's great victoriana game. I had been slightly disappointed that the scheduling meant I couldn't play in leathellin's game, but it turned out that the two games' plots were linked in a cunning way, which was an awesome twist.

I then got to play in quetzyl's dark fantasy game, which was set in an earlier period of the same game world as his fantasy campaign that I'm playing in. This was suitably grim. :)

To round out the gaming, I also played some duplicate bridge, which was fun, and glittertigger and I acquitted ourselves suitably.

I enjoyed the week enormously, and thanks to leathellin for the organisation.

On the subject of Interesting Times, I'm putting together some thoughts for a not-quite campaign of it. If a one-off game is a film, and a campaign a tv-series, I may be aiming for a mini-series. Thus I may try to schedule some slightly longer than one-off games for the occasional weekend. This won't be imminent though, as I've got lots of other stuff happening at the moment.
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