Tome of Knowledge

Tome of Knowledge

Pictures from the Expo

UK Expo 2014Posted by Sir Keith Tue, June 03, 2014 20:15:30
As i start to complete my reports from the expo, i have also a number of photos to add...

This was our first time having a table at the show - Steve did a great job showing Every Round Counts and was ably supported by the Squire

Paizo tipped a toe into the event with a supported Pathfinder Society play zone

Also Shadows of Esteren were present and I was able to have a good chat with Nel and the rest of the team!

Monte Cook and Shanna Germain came over from the States to talk about Numenera and RPGs in general (hosted by Paco from GMS Magazine).

Though Chris Barrie's Seminar was a smash hit and to be honest he is a really decent individual...

And here are some other images from the weekend....

Please feel free to use these though I would appreciate the credit....

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Expo top five

UK Expo 2014Posted by Sir Keith Tue, June 03, 2014 19:30:15

So as promised here are my top five from the UK Expo.....

The downs

5. Time just flies. No it really does! There was so much to see and do. I spent so much time trying to do everything I felt that I did nothing! The amount of people to interview and to meet that I felt unable to give many the attention they deserve. I think that video interviews are the best to do but I want to be a blog and support site first.

4. The Hotel still seemed ill-prepared. For the second year the Hilton seemed understaffed in the bar areas and overwhelmed in the restaurants. The seminar rooms were too hot and the waiting time for breakfast and just for a drink were ridiculous. Again they seemed surprised by the numbers and didn't try to correct it when the queues around the hotel threatened to get out of control!

3. Free play area. The amount of space for free play was great. There was plenty of tables though due to the numbers, even these were soon filled. The reason for this to be number three was that the main play area was so far from the bars and the food. Luckily the organisers had arranged a deal with the local pizza company which helped but the food court had a portable bar. Why could this not be placed at the free-play area?

2. The main Bar Area. So the free play area was away from the drinks. What did however seem petty was the ban on games being played in the main bar area. Even late at night when there were many free tables, the ban was enforced with an extremely heavy hand.

1. Bring and Buy Area. I felt really sorry for the organisers in this area. The room was way too small and was totally unable to cope with the numbers. The only real answer was to have a queuing system which meant limited numbers throughout the doors but discouraged people as the queue to buy stretched into the bar!

The ups

5. Podcasters and bloggers. The community continues to grow and I have to say that I for one and very grateful for that. The support given to each other and the work of Chris from UKGMN is a very worthy mention. Thanks to you all.

4. Cos-play. Every year the people in cos-play continues to grow. It is a real boon to the Expo and adds a lot to the actual people who visit. The amount of work involved and the quality of all who attend is truly inspired.

3. Events and organised play. Every year people give up their time to volunteer to run a wide range of events. From running RPGs to large scale tournaments, these are the heart of the Expo. Every year hordes of people try new games, systems or just try their skills at a game they love. National tournaments for games such as Settlers of Catan or play testing new designs for developers. The range and choice is truly staggering.

2. The organisers and yellow shirts. Should these be number one? They are the Expo. The work to organise and the dedication of all the volunteers are fantastic. Yes things could go better but these are people doing it part-time and in evenings. Truly everyone who attends are thankful to them for this event and I for one hope many more years.

1. The crowds grow. The numbers through the doors were again an excellent encouragement as to the health of our hobby. However I have worry for next year. Can the hotel cope next year? Can we ensure that we can give the hobby the room to expand? The Expo organisers have done an amazing job but theirs is a greater responsibility and if the work so far is anything to go by then I think they are up to the challenge.

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First expo review

UK Expo 2014Posted by Sir Keith Tue, June 03, 2014 09:48:12
So finally home and able to collect my thoughts about a really successful UKexpo.

This year was the busiest yet! The crowds on Saturday were extraordinary and the initial reports show over 10k came through the doors over the weekend. This year we came up on the Thursday so we could do some organised roleplaying on the Friday and Steve could set up for his weekend of showing Every Round Counts.

I should have known that this was going to be a mad weekend by the crowds on the Thursday. The bar area was filled with people playing games and the guests for the Eagles gig at the NEC were a little unsure what was happening! The Friday just got busier and busier with all the RPGs filled up and the free play areas packed. The quality of games in the Expo Games Library was very high and busy throughout the weekend.

On the Friday I played a Basic Roleplaying game and an Atomic Age Cthulhu game. I gave my pathfinder ticket to a PFS member who had booked the wrong game. I will be posting game reports from all the games I played so you can see how the sessions worked. This meant I was able to help Steve set up and also touch base with Chris from UKGMN. Chris runs this site to help all UK podcasters and bloggers keep in touch and help each other. He is a top guy and the work he does is extraordinary. Please check out his site.

Saturday dawned and after a queue for breakfast it was time to get to work. I initially met with Chris to see what the schedule for interviews would be but both he and Liz from Nearly Enough Dice had it under control. However Paco and Martin from GMS Magazine were running the seminars so I was able to help them prepare and get the rooms ready. After a quick panic over sound ( luckily Chris came to the rescue) they were set for action.

The Bring and Buy was manic. The trade areas packed and the seminars so popular I ended up doing crowd control, showed how the Expo was growing into something really important. See my next post - top five good and bad from UKExpo.

Saturday and Sunday was a blur. I was able to meet and talk with many publishers, designers, writers and artists that it was an amazing weekend and now I am sitting at home exhausted. I came home on the Monday but want to say thanks to everyone that made the weekend. There are too many to list here but Chris, Paco, Liz, Henry (Grublin Games), Chris Birch (Modiphius), Sarah Newton, Nel (Shadows of Esteren) were all top, top, people who deserve special mention. Finally a thanks to my fellow ThirstyKnights.

Here's to next year!

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News from the expo

UK Expo 2014Posted by Sir Keith Sun, June 01, 2014 07:54:41
Wow. June already. This is the biggest and busiest expo ever. It is great to see the amount of people playing and just enjoying our great hobby. I have spoke with many designers and publishers is watch the site. I have also tried many systems and will write up my game reports. Also done a lot with UKGMN. There are videos of interviews as well as seminars with Monte Cook and Chris Barrie. I will add links to all these and give a summary. Finally I will do a more detailed update so watch this space. Every Round Counts is going well but please check out kickstarter if you haven't already.

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Major D&D Organised play announcement

UK Expo 2014Posted by Sir Keith Wed, May 21, 2014 19:03:27

Here is a major announcement about organised play (see it here)

Coming Soon: D&D Adventurers League!


Starting this August, the face of D&D public play changes with the launch of the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Today, we’d like to share some information about those changes and what you can expect from our future public play programs.

One System, Many Ways to Play

At the core of the new D&D Organized Play experience is the D&D Adventurers League. Essentially, we’ve given the system a name, because we wanted to emphasize the connected nature of our public play programs. For the first time, we’ll have our entire public play taking place in the same ongoing D&D campaign.

As a player, you’ll create a character for the D&D Adventurers League. You’ll be using the same rules to play at a convention, a store, or any sort of public event. There will be a D&D Adventurers League Player’s Guide available to let you know how it all comes together. Through the different programs, the D&D Adventurers League will be inviting to casual D&D players, experienced D&D players, and players looking for ways in which their characters can impact the campaign world. We want players to find the play that best fits them, and enjoy playing for years to come.

As a Dungeon Master, the D&D Adventurers League is a great way to run fun adventures that involve a minimum of prep work. We’ll find ways to reward you for your time and effort through the various programs, and there will be additional support and opportunities to showcase your skills.

As an organizer (either in-store or at conventions), you’ll find that the D&D Adventurers League is a great way to keep your players engaged. There will be fresh content available on a regular basis (mostly monthly), ensuring that there’s always something new around the corner.

Story First

The D&D Adventurers League, and all the programs supporting it, is focused on allowing you and your groups have great adventures through a thematic, cohesive storyline. Our first storyline is Tyranny of Dragons, involving the Cult of the Dragon, Red Wizards of Thay, and Tiamat, Queen of Evil Dragons. What you’ll find through the different programs is a connection to the main storyline, whether it’s direct or a little more subtle. Once we’ve finished with one storyline, we’ll start up a new one. You can then make a choice to continue to play your existing character or create a new one for the next storyline. It’s up to you.

Our D&D storylines are taking place in the Forgotten Realms, our most popular and richest D&D world. Your characters will journey to different areas of Faerûn to find adventure and deal with the threats of the current storyline.

One of the main ways in which we’ll involve adventurers in the story is through our factions. These factions are power groups that have agents throughout the Forgotten Realms. They all have their own motivations, goals, and outlook on the events and threats going on across Faerûn. As a player, you’ll choose a faction for each character you create, and receive benefits as you gain renown for your faction.


Progression and Rewards

After each session of play, you’ll record things like experience, treasure, and renown earned. Your log sheet will be your official record of your character’s growth and development over time. As you gain levels, you’ll unlock the ability to play higher-level adventures with your characters. In general, adventures will support a few levels in order to make them a great play experience for characters suited to the challenges contained within them. Of course, as we begin the first storyline, the adventures available will be low level, but as time goes on, we’ll be adding higher level adventures to the mix.

All D&D Adventurers League play is supported through a certificate system. Some items and rewards are only awarded through certificates, but the main purpose of the certificate is it unlocks the ability for you to trade the item to another character. Magic items are rare and special treasures in D&D Adventurers League play, and we want them to feel as such through representation as a cool certificate.


Community Involvement

The D&D Adventurers League is maintained not only by Wizards of the Coast, but also by a group of representatives we’ve chosen as administrators to help out players, Dungeon Masters, and organizers. We have a community manager who’s talks with the public and gathers feedback, a content manager that develops and edits our adventures, and a resource manager that does a lot of the organization around schedules and provides support to our designers. Each one of these roles serves a very important purpose, and each individual was chosen based on their experience and passion for public play. Soon, we’ll introduce the team!

These three administrators are also looking for high-spirited, eager gamers to help spread the D&D Adventurers League experience to your local communities. When we give the administrating team’s introduction, we’ll have more information on how you can help!


Kickoff Events: D&D Epics

At the beginning of certain storylines we’ll have a special kickoff event taking place at a select major convention to get you really involved in a cool moment in the storyline. Moments like assaulting a wizards’ tower, fighting a mass-scale battle, infiltrating a drow house, or aerial besiegement of a cloud giant’s fortress. Individual characters can have a major impact here, and there are special rewards only available during a D&D Epics adventure.

Our first D&D Epics adventure will take place at Gen Con Indy this year. Entitled Corruption in Kryptgarden, it will be a massive, multi-table event that will shape the Tyranny of Dragons story and bring renown to those that experience it.


Core Story: D&D Encounters

D&D Encounters remains our weekly Wednesday play program, but undergoes a facelift starting with Tyranny of Dragons and the introduction of the D&D Adventurers League. While you’ll still find D&D Encounters emphasizing play for the casual player (starting characters at 1st level) you’ll find it’s become an introduction to the main storyline.

We’ll introduce this storyline by adapting a portion (levels 1-4) of the first adventure, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, for play at D&D Encounters. This adventure adaptation will be available as a complimentary PDF for stores that schedule D&D Encounters, who can then pass it along to their Dungeon Masters. After you’ve finished playing that portion of the adventure, you can continue play by picking up the rest of the adventure from the store or play in D&D Expeditions (described below).

The kits for D&D Encounters have been upgraded as well. Redesigned to immerse you in the story and the factions, each kit includes player (faction) and DM packs. These packs come in a beautiful folio designed with your faction’s colors and symbol. When you arrive for your first session of D&D Encounters, you’ll choose a faction pack with all sorts of goodies contained within – blank character sheets, log sheets, table tents, special certificates, and more. Dungeon Masters will receive a pack themed to the storyline, containing stuff for their use. We’ll be revealing all the contents of the packs soon, so stay tuned!


Advanced Play: D&D Expeditions

If you like a deeper dive into a “convention-style” campaign experience, then D&D Expeditions is for you. Set in the Moonsea region of the Forgotten Realms, you’ll explore the storyline as it affects the denizens of that area of Faerûn. Here, you’ll get to take your character from its humble beginnings to the heights of high level play, and have a chance to really influence your region through your character’s actions and the actions of your faction.

Adventures are delivered digitally as PDFs to stores and conventions requesting them, and debut at selected conventions around North America throughout the storyline. If you play in a debut of an adventure, you’ll have the opportunity to give feedback and shape the ongoing storyline. In addition, these adventures will be supported with kits that contain the certificates for the magic items and other special stuff that characters can earn through play.

We expect that D&D Expeditions will become the public’s D&D campaign, growing and changing as events resolve and new threats emerge. Each storyline visits a different area of the Moonsea, affecting some change there, and all the factions are involved. For Tyranny of Dragons, we’ll be setting adventures in and around the town of Phlan, an old fan-favorite from the days of Pool of Radiance.

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