Sunday, 12 July 2015

ExiliCon trip report

This past weekend I went to ExiliCon, a local gaming / geek stuff convention here in Cambridge. The show is kind of an interesting one -- organised by members of an online forum, it represents their diverse interests, and the end result is that's a sort of ... mashup of geek culture and art stuff. So there were game shops and publishers selling their wares, but also talks about history, film production, literature and what-all.

I was there to promote Isles of Darkness, as I often am, but I got to see some other things as well. Here's what I saw and did:

The first stop for me was the first stand I saw:

This was a joint endeavour by Unusualities and FoxBox -- I picked up some miniatures, a pair of Pac-Man ghost earrings for my wife and some free miscast resin models to go in the ol' bits box. I have to admit I returned to that miscast jar a few times during the day. 

I also swung by the stand of ThunderChild Miniatures, who were showing off an upcoming post-apocalyptic minis game called Wasteman. This had a successful Kickstarter earlier in the year, so we can look forward to seeing the game itself out in the autumn, God willin' and the crick don't rise. 

Now I am a sucker for B-movie stylings and post-apocalyptic models, so it didn't take much to sell me on these: 

The display table. 

Post-apocalyptic pilgrims. 

And some more. 

The monster minis were particularly nice, I thought. 

A pen for "mootants."

Some hazards of the wasteland. 

A quick flip through the rulebook. 

Examples of character cards. 

I even snapped a (blurry) photo of some rulebook art. 
What really impressed me was the extent to which this was a one-man army type of deal: proprietor JL Fairclough wrote the rules, sculpted the figures, did the rulebook art and cast the miniatures. When I opened the scenery I bought I discovered that the foam in blisters was irregular, as if hand-cut, which left me wondering whether he even packed them himself. 

So, yeah, definitely checking the game out come autumn. God knows I've got a lot of post-apocalyptic models already, but that's never stopped me. 

Other people in the exhibition space with us: 

Empire Game Store, from whom I bought some old Harlequin men-at-arms
to use as mooks in D&D as well some extra d8s because there are a lot of damn
d8s in 5th edition; I mean, you thought there were a lot before. 

Mirror State, who run big political one-day games that sound absolutely fascinating.
A lot of people I know have played or are about to, but I haven't yet. 

Some of their props and game aids, although sadly my photo didn't really come out. 

Filmmaker Douglas Morse was promoting his film The Next Great American Game, which looked sort of like Anvil for the Board Game Geek set. There is a screening in Cambridge on Wednesday, although it clashes with my D&D game so I will not be there. 

These guys are the creators of an online radio comedy about the end of the world,
Don't Worry: It's Only the End of the World
Speaking of online shows, I didn't get a photo, but the creators of a fantasy webseries called Ren were also there, giving a talk and promoting their show. 

They weren't the only webseries there -- I also went to a talk by the people behind a series, which is out now on YouTube, called The First Musketeer. It was an interesting look at how to make a historical story with swordfights on a £25,000 budget. 

There were also some people demo-ing games. I didn't get a look at all of them, but I did pick an ashcan of Ultima Forsan, an Italian Savage Worlds setting that is already out in Italian with an English version in the works. People were playing it with every appearance of enjoyment. 

(I have just learned that the title means something like "it's later than you think.")

The quality and quantity of freebies at this show were both pretty amazing. 

I also went to a talk on the history behind The Three Musketeers by novelist and historian Kari Sperring, but unfortunately I had to duck out before the end to help pack up our stall. 

I will do some future posts once I get these minis painted up and photographed, but I did take a picture of my haul from the day: 

Not bad, I thought. 

So what did I think of ExiliCon overall? On balance, I would say "more of this sort of thing, please" and I'm already thinking about what I could do to contribute to next year's thing. I like the idea of highlighting people's creative projects -- there were obviously professional concerns there and then there were also things that were clearly just people's labours of love. As I said at our post-con meal, the exhibitors ranged from "just a hobby" at one end to "the struggle is real" at the other -- and I actually find that inspiring. I like being around people who are on their grind. 

I did think that the show hadn't necessarily been terribly well advertised. I was in Inner Sanctum earlier in the week, and I didn't see a flyer or a sign or anything, which seems like a missed opportunity. Heffers were there, though, although I don't know that they did a roaring trade. Selling stuff at cons when you're a big chain always seems like an odd concept, since by definition people can buy the stuff you're selling in your shop any day of the week. But it was nice of them to turn out. 

So, yeah, promotion could have been more effective, and I think that the con did not do a fantastic job of explain what exactly it was -- which is fair enough, because what it is is a bit of a mish-mash, but at the same time I think people did not what to expect. I certainly didn't, but I wound up having a pretty great time. If you are in the area, I definitely recommend going next year. I will try to contribute more!

In the end, we did promote the society a fair bit. Here are some cards and handouts Bob made for his game: 

Powers in Lost are a pain in the butt, so I think players appreciated those. 

Lastly, the show inspired me to get on my grind a little more about my book. I suck at promotion -- a lot -- at least when it's my own stuff. But I wrote this book and honestly I think it's pretty good. It's a Lovecraftian horror story set in the Viking age, and if you would like to buy it, it's very inexpensive. I mean, it's inexpensive whether you would like to buy it or not. 

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