OK, professional hat on first: expanded Fantasycon schedule now reads:
Friday 8pm — Mass author signing. Please come along to this. Last time I swear there were more authors than readers. Stephen Hunt and I sat there like lemons.
Saturday 29th 10-11am — Too Much Reality panel. 10am is also the launch of the Ancient Wonders anthology containing my story "Bones".
Saturday 29th 10.30pm — Reading slot.
Sunday 11.30 — Launch of Hauntings limited signed editions. (This is a cracking ghost story anthology from Newcon Press including my story "Not a Cat Person"
Right. Professional hat off, personal hat on, specifically (1):
I have written a bit about live role-playing before, and this weekend just gone was the very, very last event of Profound Decisions' "Maelstrom" campaign, that has been running for the past 9 years, and which I've been playing since the very first. This was a four-events-a-year extravaganza with around a thousand players (I think) in total, set in a rich and evolving game world that was a wildly original sort of renaissance colonial setting, complete with mind-boggling complex metaphysics, a sort-of working economy with four currencies (of lovely shiny metal coins), a game where most of what happened evolved from player decisions and player action, and a game that lent itself to some very deep, and often dark themes: bigotry, tyranny, the corruption of virtue, all that jazz.
And over now, and it will be missed. I've hung up the floppy blue hat for the last time. Larping, often maligned by those outside the genre, and indeed some inside it, looked down at by Very Serious Re-enactors and ridiculed for its rubber swords, has been an enriching part of my life for years now. It's a boon as an author, because other gaming experiences simply don't have the same level of living detail as Larp — the fireside conversations, the in-setting jokes, the nervous tension standing in a battle line, these are things that you get in books, but not on the tabletop or online. And whilst there are obvious limits to the fantastical side of Larp, the companies whose games I've played — both Profound Decisions and Curious Pastimes — have pushed that envelope a fair way. Imagination does the rest.
So Maelstrom the game has finally drawn to a close: half the invading colonists have naffed off home, the rest are left embattled, crossing swords with the furious natives as the magic that has flooded the world for the last decade slowly ebbs (the alternative being to tear the world open) taking its wonders, its walking statues and its talking trees, back to the mists of legend. For me, I'm happy having finally achieved my character's humble personal goal of transforming into an immortal angel. It's good to have a dream. It's been a good nine years, and I bring a large number of friends and acquaintances from the game that I'd never have met otherwise. Many of them have also bought, and sometimes even read, my books, so there's a definite overlap with self-interest.
What's next? Well happily Matt Pennington and the many talented hands at Profound Decisions are already well into the design of an unrelated successor game, Empire (no black and gold alas!). This promises to be another living fantasy epic, including the titular Empire with a working senate entirely peopled by players, another mad religion with its own synod and assemblies, ritual magic, large-scale battles and hopefully a slightly simpler fictional economy. If Larp is something you might want to get back into, or try for the first time, you could certainly do a lot worse than having a look at the (still under construction) wiki here.
(1) Thanks to Jo Perridge for the photo.