It’s an even-numbered year, the weather is boiling… it’s convention time! Specifically, it’s time for Continuum, held every two years in Leicester. Returning to the usual venue at the John Foster Hall within the university, this is the third time I’ve attended Continuum and it remains one of my favourite conventions in the UK. It’s a shame it’s only on every two years, but it just makes me look forward to it even more.
I’d normally try to post the reviews for the convention each individual day, but Continuum is quite a different affair to other conventions. I swear they keep a Fire Vampire or three in the basement of the accommodation on site, as it is perpetually sweltering in those rooms. Even though I have a room this time with enough room to park a car in it (which is an usually rare event, as these are normally very small rooms I end up with!) the heat is still overpowering at times. I got back to my room on Friday and Saturday night and simply passed out thinking I was in a sauna… So not much of a chance to sit down at the computer and type up a review. However, on a slightly cooler Sunday night, having just finishing running my last game for the event, I’m finally catching up on lost time.
Myself, Scott and Paul headed up together to the convention on Friday morning, arriving when the majority seem to arrive, between Noon and 1pm, so that we have a little time to prepare before Slot 1 begins at 2pm. Continuum normally has a fairly heavy Cthulhu presence with the games on offer, so it’s going to be no shock, dear reader, what I offered in all the slots I ran in! However, we opened up with a game of Blake’s 7, ran by Tony Parry, involving the crew of the Liberator heading to the edge of known space to investigate a relay station going dark and how the rebels could potentially exploit this. A nice fun adventure to ease us into the convention, with echoes of The Andromeda Strain, and the appearance of a few zombies (it wouldn’t be a Savage Worlds game without zombies!). Servalan was even a PC, which was surprising – up until the point of the inevitable betrayal. Had to happen 😉
Slot 2 was the first of the five scenarios I’d brought with me to run at the event. I opened with “The Angel of the Abyss” for World War Cthulhu (which has recently gone up on the Cubicle 7 site as a free download ahead of the release of Europe Ablaze, the collection in which it appears). I enjoy running this one a lot as the investigators always find innovative ways to put their feet in it – and this was no exception! The moment of the game for me here was in a split-screen style moment where we had the party split between two locations (always a good start). One group had just uncovered evidence of what they were up against, having considered themselves to have wandered into the middle of the most dangerous zone in the area. Meanwhile, the other half of the group was putting their foot through the face of said monstrous enemy on the other side of town, having been completely surprised to find it on their trip. Wonderful bit of timing.
After a night of feeling like I was roasting to death and wondering why the hell I didn’t remember to bring a fan again this year (I brought everything else! Even teas and coffee to the gaming table in order to continue my tradition of trying to be a good host at games) it was Saturday morning. I’d decided to run in the morning and evening slots (possibly after failing a SAN check sometime – mornings are not my friends) to make it easier to remember when I should be doing stuff. So, Slot 3 took us to Clipperton Island for “Cerulean Halo”. An adventure I hadn’t run for some time, it took a little bit of prep earlier that morning to refresh myself of the details (over much needed coffee). In hindsight, it was probably not a brilliant choice to have put in a morning slot, because those are only 3 hours long. We got through the heart of the adventure, with our pilot giving a wonderfully rousing speech on a couple of occasions. Then he went up to fly around the island to get some shots from on high… and he wasn’t so rousing anymore, instead siding with those who wanted to return to the mainland. Poor investigators – they can’t handle the truth when they see it 😉
My one open slot for the convention, where I had nothing planned, was in Slot 4 on Saturday afternoon. I wandered over to the sign-up boards to see if there was anything there, mostly expecting my experiences with Indiecon and Conception to be repeated, in that by the time I got there, all the games I wanted to play would be full. However, this was thankfully not the case as there were still two slots left in a Delta Green game set in Vietnam in 1968. I bagged one of those, and loved it! A scenario involving four military police units investigating a strange and brutal murder, it was an amazingly detailed scenario with a large amount of research having been done to make it as realistic as possible. That’s something that gets some big marks in my book, so I was very happy. There were a couple of moments where some of the story elements didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the flow, but overall it was a really fun time. The author ran a game in that I played in about four years ago, which I enjoyed a lot then, so was nice to see more Vietnam action.
Slot 5 on Saturday afternoon took us to London in September of 1940 for “Midnight Sunrise”. I’ve run this adventure in a few playtest sessions, but this was the first time running it at a convention. We ran over by an hour (as did Scott with his session on the next-door table), but it was still a lot of fun. With a bit of tweaking, I’m sure I can bring it down to 4 hours and thus be able to run a truncated version for a normal convention slot length. The moment for me in the game had to be the complete luck the investigators had by setting up a distraction to allow others in the team to break into a warehouse. One half hosed the dock-facing doors with high-power water hoses from a Fire Ship, while others explored the strangeness within, only to be in exactly the right place at the right time when the antagonist arrived. The poor antagonist went down in one very lucky hit with a cane and was put out of their misery. Haven’t seen it wrap up that way before!
Another baking evening, after a nice chat with fellow Cthulhu enthusiasts after the game that night, and it’s time for Slot 6 on Sunday morning. Off to 1920s Albany for “The Dreaming Ward”. I’ve run this scenario a lot over the last 7 months, after GenCon I’m probably going to put it away for a while and give some other adventures a chance. It’s still a nice, fun scenario and fits within the 3 hour slot without too much cutting out – although we did spend a lot of time with the initial scenes, which has happened on a couple of times. However, these scenes have a fair amount of interaction between the characters, explaining what is troubling them and why they have sought out the therapy that a certain doctor can offer them, etc. It’s a nice intense period, and I don’t like to cut it short. The moment of the scenario for me was that in all the times I’ve run it, this was the first time that the investigators actually proceeded down the easiest path to escape! Normally they all end up deciding up taking the hardest route. Not this time 🙂
Slot 7 took us into the glorious air-conditioned main hall for Realms of Cthulhu run by Paul Lawrence. I say “air conditioned”, what I really mean is, “had a door open wide enough that it could get a breeze in there”. It was a welcome change from the furness-like rooms in the second building we use. A lot of fun, with a steampunk themed Cthulhu setting, with the characters being Victorian equivilents of well-known modern superheroes. Very tongue in cheek, and a whole lot of fun. It’s also the first time since I played James Mullen’s mini-campaign of “How I saved the world on the path to Enlightenment” that I’ve got to exercise my puzzle-fu on such a complicated array of handouts! I love doing that sort of thing. This one involved a series of telegrams with numerous layers of coded messages that I really enjoyed tackling, and between us we ultimately defeated the code 🙂
Lastly, the evening slot, Slot 8, took us to Central China for “Heaven in a Wild Flower” – an adventure Tiffany knows well from GenCon last year 😉 We managed to get it all in, wrapping up around midnight, and it was fun to run again, especially as I haven’t done so in a little while. The group dynamic was maybe a little over-enthusiastic at times, with half the group being quite active, in and out of character, which was maybe a bit detrimental to conveying some atmosphere at times, but it still seemed to go down well, so no real complaints.
And that brings us to packing up and getting ready to go home. It’s an early start tomorrow (in the word’s of Dr Sam Beckett… “Oh boy”) which I’m not looking forward to. However, most of my gear is packed, I’ve got my memories down in text form, and I’m definitely ready for sleep.
It’s been a fun time, getting to catch up with a lot of people I only get to see at the conventions, making new friends with fellow Cthulhu enthusiasts, etc. and having a lot of fun times. Time to start thinking about what I might run in two years time 😉
Next stop though… GenCon! Watch this space for further updates.