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Throwing Dice and Laughing a Lot: Continuum 2012 26 July 2012

Posted by Dr Moose in Faith, Life, Role-Playing Games.

Long-term readers of this blog (so that’s about a dozen of you!) will know something about the “Role-Playing Games” bit in the title. Many, it would appear, do not. This is one of those posts, as I’ve just returned from Continuum 2012 at John Foster Hall of the University of Leicester, which by a quirk of fate is in Oadby, the place I lived for 3 years or so while doing my curacy. It fits vaguely within the definition of a Convention, although quite whom the “Delegates” represent would be an interesting question…

I’ve posted quite a few things about it via Facebook and Twitter, which will help me by serving as an aide memoire, but more importantly as a starting point. One old house-mate from Lancaster started it all off, “Where and what is Continuum?”she asked, in response to one of my posts.  As I was far too busy having fun my Good Lady Wife came up with an answer, and a pretty good one at that, “you don’t want to know, he throws dice, laughs a lot, flies around space in spaceships, runs around dressed as a bandit and drinks too much beer.”

While these observations are not quite true, they definitely have the ring of authenticity. The thumb-nail portrait didn’t include some important features. Then again the GLW is not a gamer and other than very briefly popping in at a Con in Dugby Hall many years ago (Battlemasters, I think) has no personal experience, which makes the omissions forgiveable.

For I did throw dice, running a Sci-Fi themed game that could charitably be said to use the HeroQuest2 rules (or a very few of them) and a very silly game of Toon (a cartoon role-playing game from the 1980s). In the first, set in a universe bearing a considerable resemblance to that of the Aliens and Predator franchises, the hapless players confronted a horror that seemed to break the rules of science and sanity, and in the latter green paint flowed by the bucket-load as the cartoon characters sent more time fighting each other than seeking to achieve their goal. And it was good. And there was indeed much laughter.

I got more than I bargained for in the “flying around space in spaceships” department in the Saturday night freeform “Last Night on the Titanic”. One space-going ad two sea-going vessels to be precise. And before you ask, freeforming might best be summarised as improvisational theatre performed solely for the benefit of the cast, infinitely malleable, enormous fun and often totally exhausting. Exhausting was probably the keyword as after a long , hot and busy day I seemed to spend most of my time running between rooms and up and down stairs, announcing my presence each time with a loud shout of “flash! bang!” and causing consternation and mayhem in my wake.

I did not, however, run around dressed as a bandit, although as the GLW had made a mask for me that would be equally appropriate for Robin, the classic side-kick of Batman, the SWAG-wielding house-breaker or the Dandy Highwayman her point is well made. You cannot have a masked ball in a freeform without a mask, after all, can you? The rivalries of Venice, Milan, Florence and the like, not to mention the high conspiracy of choosing the next pope, accompanied by the practical genius of Leonardo da Vinci’s clockwork revolution, made mark Galeotti’s “The Art of War” an awesomely wonderful, and slightly surreal, experience! (I, in my alter ego as Paolo Marroti, artisan and household servant to the Duke of Milan,  am also pleased to take credit for clockwork silver-polishing machine, and more importantly the clockwork repeating crossbows that Milanese forces carried into battle…)

Beer there was also, or more to the point, Real Ale, although sadly the good stuff ran out far too fast, which was a bit of a downer, but might have just saved my liver from the even greater possible excesses. Then again, perhaps I did drink too much beer, which would explain the swift demise of the London Pride and the Landlord… but I think there were more than I. However, there was also coffee, with the welcome innovation of the coffee machines being left on all through Con, rather than just at mealtimes. Even the food was better than last outing. Sadly this came at a price, best summed up as the Ryan Air School of Catering – vegetables cost extra (and quite possibly the hire of the eating irons…)

There was, of course, much much more. It wouldn’t be the same without the  mainly-male communal singing that is the Glorantha Singalong, as popular songs are re-written to tell the stories of one of the classic created worlds of fiction and gaming. Then again, I’m not always sure that “singing” is the best description for the shouting, chanting and musical noises we produce when tired and somewhat drunk (there is mp3 evidence out there somewhere!)

This year too saw the fourth outing for Dr Moose’s seminar exploring Spirituality and Role-Playing (in the stereotypical Sunday 10am slot!) Resonating with the convention tag-line, “The Year it all ends” (itself inspired by Mayan End of the World rantings) I tried to steer the discussion along the lines of Death and the apocalytic in RPGs, and how we approach it. As long as sufficient people still come and find the  encouragement of spiritual engagement useful, I’ll offer to provide it, and I’m always surprised by the uptake, and the apologies of those who cannot make it.

In fact the whole seminar programme was very rich fare and I would liked to have got to more. The richness is all the more interesting in the absence of some of the big names (and personalities) such as Greg Stafford and Sandy Peterson. There are others who were missed, Loz Whitaker for one, but we are all so busy that we would have to have stayed a week to catch up!

I’m not going to be able to do credit to the Con, and I’m going have to wrap up. Suffice to say that it really couldn’t have been much better, that I didn’t speak to many folks I wished, that I would have loved to actually play some table-top RPG. I must extend my thanks to the whole Committee for not just their efforts, but for their achievement of a splendid Con, well delivered.

My thanks to to all those sought the impromptu and impartial ghostly counsel (as befits Dr Moose in the informal role of Chaplain to the Con) and to every single person there who biennially and without fail create a a sense of fellowship in our shared passion that knocks the spots of what most churches ever achieve!



1. Jane Williams - 26 July 2012

We did get VIrtual Loz – I even spoke to him!

2. Mark Threlfall - 26 July 2012

I had never attended Continuum before. And had not attended a Convention for many years. I went alone, but never felt alone once there. As you said in your sterotypical Sunday timeslot, I discovered a community found companions and came home knowing I had made new friends.

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