Old School Role Playing, and Pathfinder by the Pound: Gary Con 2018 Report, Part I

Monday, March 12th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Gary Con 2018 Black Gate report-small

My favorite gaming convention is Gary Con, founded in Gary Gygax’s home town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, in 2009, the year after he passed away. I attended many of the early Gary Cons, but regrettably have missed the last few years. I’d heard the convention had outgrown the lodge outside of town and was now being held in a much larger venue a few minutes outside town, the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, and I was very curious to see just how big it has become. So I packed up my car on Saturday morning and made the 90-minute drive north from St. Charles, Illinois, to Lake Geneva.

How much has it grown? A lot. Just a few years ago Gary Con was a few hundred gamers who gathered to remember Gary and celebrate all that he brought to gaming. But on Saturday morning I walked into a sprawling modern gaming convention, with thousands of folks happily throwing down dice in multiple buildings and numerous gaming rooms. I’m delighted to report that, while it had gotten much grander, Gary Con has lost none of its friendly atmosphere — or its focus on the kind of old-school role playing pioneered by Gygax.

The highlight of the con for me is always the Exhibit Hall, which has always felt more like an intimate gathering of friends than just a place to hawk wares. In past years I’ve met many some of the most creative minds in the OSR (“Old School Revival”) community there, including Jeffrey Talanian, author of the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea RPG, Daniel Proctor, creator of Labyrinth Lord, Stephen Chenault, creator of Castle & Crusades, and Jon Hershberger, co-founder of Black Blade Publishing (OSRIC). Every year I also take the opportunity to meet up with friends such as Dave Kenzer and Jolly Blackburn of KenzerCo.

The tiny Exhibit Hall has grown enormously since I’d last attended, however. In fact, there were over 50 exhibitors spread across two halls, including Frog God Games, Goodman Games, Kobold Press, Northwind Adventures, Troll Lord Games, Hammered Game Tables, Inner City Games Designs, Pacesetter Games, Total Party Kill Games, and many more. Truly an old-school role player’s paradise!

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Boskone 55: Con Report

Sunday, March 4th, 2018 | Posted by C.S.E. Cooney

They set off together with a blithe sense of wrongdoing

This year, Boskone 55 was our third Boskone ever, and we had a frikkin MARVELOUS time.

No, I’m not using the Royal We — although  that is still a (perhaps unfortunate) habit of mine. At present, I am talking about myself and writer Carlos Hernandez (AKA “Doctor Husbandpants”), in whose august company I now traipse to most conventions. Kind of like our fridge magnet says (above).

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Wordsmiths: Black Gate Interviews Jim Butcher at ConFusion 2018

Friday, February 23rd, 2018 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

If you talk to Jim Butcher, he might tell you that he’s a “crazy hermit shut-in” and scoff at being referred to as the Jim Butcher — showing that even one of the greatest fantasy writers around might be as uncomfortable with accolades as the rest of us mere mortals. How do I know this? Because I got the chance to sit down with Jim at ConFusion last month, for an hour-long chat about his published work, his craft, and what makes him tick.

I’ve been a huge fan of Jim’s ever since a friend shoved Storm Front at me and insisted I read it, and I sincerely hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed taking part in it. There is a lot that can be learned from Jim Butcher, and I’m really happy with what we were able to get into here.

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Goth Chick News: Spending an Interesting Day at Days of the Dead

Thursday, November 30th, 2017 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Ripley and Newt

As another “season” winds down here in the Windy City, Black Gate photog Chris Z and I once again find ourselves at one of the most interesting, yet largely unheralded shows of the year which has never failed to turn up some notable tales to tell.

Days of the Dead is touted as a “by the fans, for the fans” convention which had its inaugural show in 2011, and which currently tours through Atlanta, Charlotte, Indy and Louisville, wrapping up the year here in Chicago in November. According to their site, the con’s primary goal is to bring back the idea of the genre convention being a welcoming communal gathering of like-minded friends and fans. Each event is tailored to the local audience with an active after-hours scene of horror themed parties, along with a robust guest list of celebrities, artists, and up and coming independent film makers.

Which makes it a Goth Chick News perennial favorite.

Forgiving the fact that the suburban hotel where the Chicago event is held, has a bar that doesn’t open until lunchtime – meaning our standard show Fireball shots have to wait until midday, Days of the Dead is smaller and more intimate than the mega-cons like C2E2 and ComicCon. This allows for actual conversation with the attendees without the crush of too many sweaty people in spandex. However, its size doesn’t stop it from attracting some very interesting celebrities. Past years have seen us chatting with the likes of Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects), Sandahl Berman (Conan the Barbarian), William Sanderson (Blade Runner) and Heather Donahue (The Blair Witch Project).

A-listers? No. Interesting? Absolutely.

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The 4th International Science Fiction Conference, Chengdu, China, November 2017

Saturday, November 25th, 2017 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

chengdu-small

I’ve been cataloguing some of my Paddington-the-Bear adventures in 2017. This year was the first time I went to New York (see A Babe in the Woods: Derek’s Literary Adventures, and Questing in New York! NYCC 2017). I had some other secret adventures this fall that I haven’t blogged about, but recently I had a bigger adventure!

For the first time ever, I was invited to a literary conference to be an Author Guest of Honor. It was the 4th International Science Fiction Conference in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. It was sponsored by SFWorld, a Chinese magazine and book publisher, with media and tech giant Tencent as one of the sponsors. I was one of about a dozen foreign authors and editors in attendance. Here’s a shot of some of the billboards outside the event.

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Wordsmiths: Black Gate Interviews Steven Erikson at Can*Con 2017

Friday, November 17th, 2017 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

As I’ve mentioned periodically here, I’m part of the planning committee for Can*Con, Ottawa’s annual conference on science fiction, fantasy and horror writing, and specifically help to develop each year’s program. This year I had the amazing opportunity to sit down for a live interview with Canadian fantasy writer Steven Erikson, author of the Malazan Book of the Fallen and Willful Child series and one of our 2017 Guests of Honor. And we even recorded it!

Above is the entirety of my interview with Steven, discussing his previous work, his writing process, the fantasy genre in general, and what’s coming next from this prolific author. The chance to chat with him was a huge privilege and an absolute blast, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

You can check out Steven’s work at www.steven-erikson.com or his new Facebook author page, and see our previous coverage of his work here at Black Gate.

Also check out Can*Con at can-con.org/cc (@CanConSF on Twitter) and keep an eye out for dates and guests for 2018!

Many thanks to Silver Stag Studios for filming this interview. Scope them out here (@SilverStagStdio on Twitter).


Scintillation Coming To Montréal In 2018

Friday, November 10th, 2017 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Montreal science fiction

Yesterday, multiple-award-winning writer Jo Walton took a Kickstarter campaign live to fund a new science fiction convention in the city of Montréal. The convention, to be called Scintillation, will focus on literary (written) science fiction and run from October 5 to 7, 2018. The campaign was funded after less than nine hours, and is currently looking to reach its stretch goals, which include a reading and workshop track and an extra night of programming.

Jo Walton’s written over a dozen novels, as well as poetry, essays, and role-playing game manuals, and among her many honours are the John W. Campbell Award, the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, the Tiptree Award, the Locus Non Fiction Award, the World Fantasy Award (for her novel Tooth and Claw), the Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the Hugo Award for Best Novel (both for her 2011 book Among Others). She’s also experienced at running a convention, having organised a single-track con, Farthing Party, from 2006 to 2014.

She’s already lined up a strong array of guests for Scintillation, including Ada Palmer, Greer Gilman, and Sherwood Smith — about whom Black Gate editor-overlord John O’Neill said in 2012: “If you’re not reading Sherwood Smith, you’re missing out on one of the most gifted and versatile fantasy authors at work today.” There’ll also be a concert by singing group Sassafrass. Having attended Farthing Party in the past, I can personally attest to Jo’s ability to organise and run a fun-filled and thoughtful convention that boasts deep discussion about fantasy, science fiction, and the history of both. I’m already looking forward to Scintillation. Check it out!


Questing in New York! New York ComicCon 2017

Saturday, October 14th, 2017 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

New York ComicCon-logo-2

You may recall that my first trip to New York *ever* was in April, and I blogged about it in A Babe in the Woods: Derek’s Literary Adventures in New York! Well, the training wheels are off and I went on a full grail quest this time around, at New York Comic Con!

I had two major reasons to go to NYCC. First, I enjoy blogging about comics, and interviewing comic creators. So, as a blogger for Black Gate, there were a lot of people I wanted to meet. Second, my prose writing career (short stories and novels) has been going well, but I’ve also wanted to write comic books since I was 10 years old. I’m working on a comic story for a small press anthology right now, but also I went to see what other opportunities there might be.

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GenCon 2017 Pt. 4 – Catch Up Edition

Thursday, September 14th, 2017 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Company of Iron_TOPI’ve covered a number of new games that I saw at Gen Con, including fantasy deck-building games, science fiction games, and youth games. Some games, though, are hard to classify under a large thematic umbrella, defying the tight boxes of genre. Here I’d like to touch on some of those games.

Privateer Press

One of my favorite miniature war games is Warmachine, created by Privateer Press. In fact, my first article with Black Gate was an essay on their Iron Kingdoms RPG line. At that time, the Iron Kingdoms RPG was built on the D20 system, and it’s now a standalone RPG line … but Privateer Press is really known for their miniature line.

In Warmachine, you create an army commanded by a unique warcaster, and comprised of their large, magical, steaming metal constructs called warjacks, supported by units of troops, solo soldiers, and officers. Their companion game, Hordes, is fully compatible, but the warlocks in Hordes use a slightly different magical mechanic to command their feral, rampaging warbeasts. You assemble an army by picking one of the available factions, and then buying, assembling, and (hopefully) painting your miniatures to represent your completed army. The folks over at Penny Arcade have recently begun broadcasting full games of Warmachine for your viewing pleasure, if you want to see what it’s all about. But Privateer Press has major expansions on the horizon for their game lines.

This summer, Privateer Press released Grymkin: The Wicked Harvest, a dark fey-themed faction for Hordes. These are some truly great miniatures, from the child warlock known just as The Child (complete with her companion and protector, Dolly) to the warlock The Dreamer (along with three solos representing fragments of her dream power) to the grotesque porcine Piggybacks and the darkly amusing Neigh Slayers. Words really can’t do these miniatures justice, so check them out on the website.

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Goth Chick News: Holy Cosplayer Batman! Wizard World Comic Con Lands in Chicago

Thursday, September 7th, 2017 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Wizard World Comic Con Chicago 2017-small

There are enough pop culture fanatics and spandex in the city of Chicago to necessitate multiple comic book conventions along with all the celebrity guests, panels and mountains of merchandise that comes with them. While C2E2 dominates the spring season, the end of the summer is the domain of Wizard World Comic Con, where a dizzying array of cosplayers mingle with thousands of guests at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.

Founded in 1972 as Nostalgia ’72 by local comic dealer / school teach Nancy Warner and housed in a local Chicago hotel banquet room, this year’s con boasted an estimated 110K attendees over the four-day event at the end of August. Wizard World Chicago is now the third largest such event in overall attendance in the US, behind only the New York Comic Con, and Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Originally showcasing comic books and related popular arts, the convention has expanded over the years to include a larger range of pop culture elements, such as professional wrestling, science fiction/fantasy, film/television, horror, animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, and fantasy novels.

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