The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in March

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Pathfinder by the Pound at the Frog God booth at Gary Con 2018-small

The most popular topic at Black Gate last month was the Gary Con gaming convention in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Gary Gygax’s home town. Part 1 of my convention report, in which I detailed the angry fallout among Pathfinder licensees to Paizo’s announcement of an impending Second Edition — including the “Pathfinder by the POUND!!” liquidation at the Frog God booth — was our most popular post for the month, by a pretty wide margin. Part 2 of my report, a 17-photo pictorial walkaround of the gorgeously well-stocked Goodman Games/Black Blade booth, came in at #3.

Gary Con wasn’t the only topic of interest in March, however. The second most-trafficked article for the month was Rich Horton’s commentary on the Hugo nominations, and our look at Unbound Worlds’ suggestions on where to start with Gothic Space Opera came in at #4. Rounding out the Top Five was Bob Byrne’s recap of his epic adventures with Gabe Dybing, Martin Page and his son Xander, and the new Conan RPG from Modiphius Entertainment.

Thomas Parker got into the spirit of our recent Ace Double reviews with “Doubling Down, or Just How Bad Are Ace Doubles, Anyway?” and that was good enough to win him the #6 slot for March. Joe Bonadonna claimed #7 with his review of Tempus With His Right-Side Companion Niko, by Janet Morris. Sean McLachlan picked up on the vintage paperback theme nicely with “STRANGE! WEIRD! EERIE! The Odd, Unusual, and Uncanny Biography of Lionel Fanthorpe,” placing at #8.

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Goth Chick News: If You Sniffed Dracula, Would You Be Coughin’…? Or, Our Trip to the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo

Thursday, April 19th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

C2E2 2018 cosplay 2

For the last eight Aprils, Chicago has played host to one of the most heavily-attended comic conventions in the US, not to mention the largest and most prestigious cosplay competition in the world. The final numbers for the 2018 Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2 for you cool kids) have not yet been reported, but estimates have the attendance approaching the 100,000 mark, meaning that is indeed quite a lot of spandex all in one place.

And boy, do we love cosplayers.

I mean, press credentials aside, I would probably have payed the organizers, ReedPOP, for the privilege of hanging around McCormick center and people watching all day. Instead, Black Gate photog Chris Z and I got to do it for free (aside from the fireball shots John O still won’t let us expense).

This year’s show boasted 1370 exhibitors ranging from costumes to books, memorabilia to comics and wall-to-wall artists of all kinds. It was truly difficult to figure out where to look first, or how long to look before someone pointed at one of the signs posted throughout the facility declaring “Cosplay Is Not Consent.”

Where, oh where to begin.

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Goth Chick News: Two Shots of Fireball, Some Blankets and a Candle; or Our Road Trip to the 2018 Halloween and Attractions Show

Thursday, March 29th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

2018 Halloween and Attractions Show Goth Chick 1

Normally, our annual road trip to cover the first trade show of the year is not only something we look forward to (for the obvious reasons), but also a chance to get our first whiff of spring.

The TransWorld Halloween and Attractions Show has been the premier, international event for the haunt industry for the last 30 years, boasting over 300 vendors catering to the industry’s professionals. We discovered it 16 years ago when it used to make its home here in Chicago until it relocated to St. Louis. And though the location makes for a long day, we can usually count on St. Louis to be in the 50’s as opposed to Chicago which is usually getting its final blast of winter right around the March showtime.

Except for this year.

Last weekend the weather forecast was calling for an all-day winter storm to cut a 100-mile swath straight across central Illinois and pushing freezing temperatures (and freezing rain) all the way south to our destination – meaning we were facing a thoroughly crappy commute both ways. With Black Gate photog Chris Z at the wheel of his ridiculously huge, military-grade Jeep, my primary worries included a 5-hour one-way trip turning into 7-plus hours or sliding into a ditch in the middle of nowhere and having to wait hours to be rescued (most of central Illinois IS technically the middle of nowhere).

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Con Report: International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts 2018

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 | Posted by James McGlothlin

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE FANTASTIC IN THE ARTS

My day job is being an academic here in Minneapolis, where I mainly teach philosophy and theology. So when I attempt to go to academic conferences I tend to go to cons related to either of those subjects. But a couple of years ago I went out on a limb, academically speaking, and sent a paper proposal to a literary conference.

Why? Well, I had a “literary” idea for a paper. Oh, and the conference was taking place in Orlando in the middle of winter. So my Minnesota-self was quite motivated to get there. Surprisingly I got my “philosophy” paper accepted to this conference and I was excited to attend, so excited that I ended up going again this year.

The con in question is the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, ICFA for short, and it’s been going on now for almost forty years. ICFA is the official conference of, named aptly enough, the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. This organization was started in 1980 by literature professor Robert A. Collins (1929-2009) and like most small beginnings it has grown quite a bit but it still has a laid-back, workshop (though still professional) feel to it.

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The 1001 Treasures of Black Blade Publishing and Goodman Games: Gary Con 2018 Report, Part II

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Tales from the Magicians's Skull in the Goodman Games booth at Gary Con 2018-small

New releases at the Goodman Games table, including the magnificent Tales From the Magician’s Skull

In Part I of my Gary Con 2018 report, posted here yesterday, I talked about one of the great pleasures of walking the Exhibit Hall: meeting the creative masterminds behind the most dynamic companies in old-school RPGs, like Goodman Games, North Wind Adventures, Troll Lord Games, Black Blade Publishing, Frog God, Kobold Games, and many others. Today I want to talk about the other great pleasure of a truly rich Exhibit Hall. Namely, all those marvelous gaming treasures.

I do a pretty good job staying on top of the newest releases in the adventure gaming industry. More than that, I have a staff of top-notch game writers — like Andrew Zimmerman Jones, Bob Byrne, M. Harold Page, Howard Jones, Fletcher Vredenburgh, and Gabe Dybing, just to name a few — who constantly keep me informed. And yet virtually every step through the Exhibit Hall was filled with surprises. Anyone who’s ever visited the Exhibit Hall of a major gaming con or science fiction convention knows what I’m talking about. That sense of having stepped into a virtual Cave of Wonders, packed with a dozen lifetimes worth of magical discoveries.

You can’t recreate something that overwhelming with a simple blog post. But what the hell. I’m going to give it a shot anyway. To do that, I’m going to focus on the experience of walking around a single booth at Gary Con. In this case, the largest and most well-stocked one at the show, the joint Black Blade/Goodman Games tables at the entrance to the Hall. The sixteen photos below attempt to capture a few of my delightful discoveries — as well as give you a taste of the countless tantalizing items I had to hurry past in my efforts to be a gaming journalist. Prepare yourself.

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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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