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As I have been promoted to co-editor I thought I'd start my reign of terror with a little editorial entitled "Once more, with feeling" by Steve Dempsey. Here we go.

Once more, with feeling

Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition, what do you get? Well, three books with incredibly high production values for $20 a pop. That's a lot of paper with little brown lines for $60 US. That's about 250 pages of things to kill, 250 pages on how to kill them, and 250 pages on the stuff you can loot from their still warm corpses. Oh yeah, there are actually about 40 pages somewhere in the middle of all that on how to run a game. As if we didn't already know.

So what's my beef? Well surprisingly I'm not of the WOTC is Satan camp. Monster bashing in the name of all that is shiny and nice has its place but what about atmosphere? What about something in the game to really care about, apart from your character and how many experience points the pointy-eared critter has? In Pendragon you serve your liege and an ideal, in Vampire you seek the meaning of existence and in Call of Cthulhu you try to save the entire planet, WOTC included, presumably.

When you see 3e, what is there really to get excited about? There are already 4,000 rules sets for killing things on the market so did we really need another? Admittedly there are some fine scenarios coming out, notably from Atlas Games, but 3e doesn't really give us all that much to crow about. These scenarios could have just as well been for Earthdawn, Fantasy Hero or even AD&D. 3e remains a 70s game albeit with 90s production values.

But don't go getting back into those flared pants just yet. If you think the clock's been turned sharply back to 1977 just take a look at a few of the things coming out in the near future:

  • Fly From Evil by the incomparable S. John Ross, a game of hardboiled crime and mystery. You can almost hear the shot in the dark, the screech of tires and smell the cheap perfume of Veronica Lake as she once more invites you to drown in a pool of darkness.

  • Little Fears is freaky. Just take a peak at the website [Link to links page here] if you don't believe me. Remember when you thought that the weird dude at the end of the street was really the bogey man? Well he is. And he's the least of your worries. Can you hold onto your innocence or will you be forever lost? Sleep tight now.

  • I might also mention Dying Earth. A game set in a world redolent of heady perfumes and subtle magics that is slipping into coldness and death. But that would be shameful as I'm a contributor, so I won't.

These games have more atmosphere than Venus and more impact than that thing that wiped the dinosaurs out. Talking of dinosaurs, on the other hand we have 3e, a game so dull they made it into a film. With a Dungeon, and a Dragon (or two). Ah well, at least the fringe is alive and lighting the way.

So rejoice for here are this month's offerings, without a slimy corridor or a 10' room in sight.

  • Agent Sarah Hollings, on detached duty from the Brisbane PD, uncovers some peculiar goings on in Conspiracy-X. She tackles the complexities of the system and shows us why the game is worth a good look.

  • Steve Darlington has been playing Monopoly. Instead of working out sensible statistical things, like the most common square to land upon after Go and Jail (Trafalgar Sq. at 3.19%), he has uncovered the joys of spontaneous roleplaying. An uplifting piece that looks beyond the rules. See what he found.

  • Dr Rotwang or how I learned to stop worrying and love the d20. The incomparable mad Doctor explains why d20 will never conquer the world as long as Phoebe Cates is still alive.

  • Jocelyn Robitaille talks about how to build a realistic female lead society in Matriarchies.

  • Our final piece is another from the prolific Steve Darlington on how a DM saved his life from a broken heart.

Back in the real world, you tell us how it really is on the gaming front lines in your letters and here are some communiqués from a couple of Cons.

I attended this one last year and had a cracking good time. There's even a photo of me on a website somewhere, doing my bit for the players.

London, 2001-02-21


Dragonmeet 2001, the London-based adventure games convention, will be held on Saturday 1st December at Kensington Town Hall. It will be double the size of last year's event. Doors open at 10am and the event closes at 10pm. Ticket prices are UK£5 in advance (UK£3.50 concessions) or UK£6 on the day (UK£4.50 concessions).

The convention will cover all areas of adventure-gaming. Roleplaying, board- and card-games, strategy games, collectible-card games, wargames, miniatures and live-action games will all be represented, with manufacturers taking booths and organising official demonstrations and competitions. There will be a profusion of retailers selling new and out-of print games and accessories, plus talks, panels and workshops, a charity auction and other events still to be announced.

Dragonmeet 2000 was a major success, and got terrific feedback from visitors and traders alike. Response was overwhelmingly positive to everything except the lack of hot food and a bar -- problems which should be fixed this year. Now it's proved there's a demand for games events in central London, Dragonmeet 2001 will make use of the expertise of its committee, who are all professionals in the UK games industry, to create the best gaming experience possible for Londoners -- as well as visitors from further afield.

"Dragonmeet 2000 was a great, great con. I've already made my plans to return," said John Kovalic, the Wisconsin-based creator of 'Dork Tower' who was the special guest at last year's show. Other guests and games- industry figures are expected to attend from the USA: names will be announced as soon as they're confirmed.

"December may seem a way off, but plan ahead," said James Wallis, director of Hogshead Publishing and chair of the organising committee. "The convention date is close to Christmas, so come to Dragonmeet on the Saturday and do all your shopping on Sunday. Or buy all your presents at the show and spend Sunday playing cool new games. Whatever."

Dragonmeet 2001 is organised by Gameforce Ltd, a company set up by members of the UK games industry to run gaming events in this country.

(Dragonmeet 2001: Saturday 1st December 2001, 10am-9pm, Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street London W8 (closest tube South Kensington). Admittance is UK£5 (UK£3.50 concessions) in advance or UK£6 (UK£4.50 concessions) on the door. More information, plus maps, the latest news and regularly updated event listings are at On-line ticket ordering for the 2001 event will be available by the end of February.)

For more information, contact:
Gameforce Ltd, 18-20 Bromell's Road, London SW4 0BG
Tel: 020 7207 5490 Email:
Fax: 020 7207 5491

Conthulhu: A tribute to HP Lovecraft, Horror and Fantasy.

This is not a gaming Con as such but a gathering for Deep Ones, Mi-go, Steve Darlington and other strangeness. It takes place on the 9th - 11th November 9-11, 2001 at the Toronto Airport Days Hotel, 6257 Airport Road, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. You can sign up online at

The confirmed guests so far include the team from Canada's premiere horror magazine Rue Morgue and Robert Charles Wilson, author of Hugo Award finalist DARWINIA and the recent collection THE PERSEIDS AND OTHER STORIES.

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