Friday 11 August 2017

Lierre Sauvage Ink Review

The thing about inks, particularly the inks that I like using, is that if there's an element of creativity that's gone into the ink itself, then it inspires me to try and match that creativity.  Small wonder then that I like to write with J Herbin inks.  This one was a present for my recent birthday, and while the label is a little wrapped around to read properly, this one is called Lierre Sauvage.

Wild Ivy...

As with all things Herbin, the presentation is the thing, so even though it's just a container with six cartridges, it's a nice finish, and (if that's your thing) would look nice sitting on the ink shelf.  For myself with a box, it has the lid printed with the colour, so that's just as easy to read.

But enough of the package, what of the product...?

It's a bold green, not light enough to be Lincoln, or dark enough to be British Racing, but a lovely shade nonetheless.  While I've tried it in the thinner nibs, I found myself gravitating towards the Super5 with the 05 nib so that there was evidence of the colour in the line.  I'm not much for green inks in the main, wether due to the association with lunatics writing letters in green or not, it's never been a colour that's appealed to me. 

This may well have changed that...

Convention Report Longcon 2017 and what's going to change for Longcon 2018

This month past, it was my pleasure to host the third Longcon.  On the Sunday, I spoke to a few of the attendees and GMs, and with three years of data on the games behind me, I came to a few conclusions that I’ll be implementing in the years to come.

The first thing I’ve noted is that while there is limited interest in single day games, most people really are in it for the Long game.  The case in point this year was when we had a few single player games up that didn’t get any interest for a few weeks, switched out with the same GM for a two day event and it got three players within a day.  I’ll still be accepting single day games from GM’s, but I’m going to be looking for more two day events than single day, and that brings me to the second point.

Games which had players signed up for some time do better. 

That’s not to say they’re better games, or better GM’s for that matter, but the players are more invested in the games and so it’s easier for them to put effort into them.  Looking at the games that were run at Longcon this year, those that had players signed up long in advance and had time to prepare averaged twenty hours of gaming not counting breaks.  Those that had players that hadn’t had time to prepare averaged fourteen hours not counting breaks.  It’s still a reasonable amount of gaming to be done, but with more organisation on my part, everyone gets time to put things together and have the best game that they can. 

That brings me to point three.

The games that got the most interest in each year have been the ones that had an interesting writeup, some sense of what was going on in the game, what the players would be doing, and what sort of game it was going to be.  The games that have had little to no write up have had little to no interest in them by comparison to those games that promised something epic.  It’ll take a little more when it comes to the editing of the website, but future submissions for games will have those details so people know what they’re signing up for, and more importantly, they’ll be more inclined to sign up early.

And that brings me to the contentious point…

Every time Longcon comes about, the same voices speak about it being Cliquecon, and how only some people get to be in some games and how everyone should have a chance to play in every game.  After three years running Longcon, twenty years of helping with Dragonmeet, two years of running Dragonmeet, and nearly a decade running the RPGs at UK Games Expo, I’ve learned one thing…

Be Organised if you want to get in a game.

If a group of players want to get into a game, they’ll camp on it till it gets made available, they’ll be smart and organised, and they’ll find a way to get into that game.  They can’t be bargained with or reasoned with, they don’t feel pity or remorse, and they absolutely will not stop, ever, till they get the game they want… 

At Expo this year, one GM’s games sold out within six seconds of the bookings going live, at Dragonmeet, those that want to play go straight in to the hall, ignore all the trade, get their games booked, and then think about what to do next. 

Then there’s the matter of the GMs, and the question of whether or not they should be allowed to pick the players they want for the games they’re running.

This is something that’s troubled me since year one, so I’ve kept a close eye on every game that’s run at Longcon, I’ve followed up with the GM’s and the players afterwards, and I’ve given a lot of thought to the quandary.  Most GM’s don’t mind which players they get as long as they get players who are willing to play at the table, not sit around checking their phone waiting for the fight to start. A few GMs only want to run with players they know and have played with before, and when it comes to something like Longcon, it’s more important to have a game you know will run well.  This convention isn’t like any other, in a normal convention with eight game slots, if you have a single bad game, you just wait for the next one and try again.  At Longcon, if you have a single bad game, it’s the whole convention ruined, and quite possibly for everyone else in that game.

Given how many excellent games I’ve seen at Longcon, I’m not willing to take that chance anymore.

From next year, players will put forwards their choices for games to play in.  Each GM will be notified of players that want into their game, and they’ll make the choice of which players to accept for each game.  After three years of hearing people complain that they’ll never get in the game they want to (usually just after the sold out sign has appeared on the game they wanted), I know with certainty that if you only want to play in one game, camp on that button or you’ll miss that game.  Booking for games will be the same as it has been in previous years, you sign up, list the three games you want to play in with an order of preference and I’ll send back word indicating which game you got into, the same way Gencon does it, but on a smaller scale.

Longcon games are good, I know that because last year I put up an offer that I’ve repeated this year, and will repeat every year going forwards, where any player who doesn’t have a good game, doesn’t pay for the con. After two years of that offer, you know how many players have decided that the game they were playing in was one that they didn’t want to pay for?


And that person turned up on the day, played the game both days, looked to be having a great time, and then didn’t pay.  It doesn’t trouble me, I’m in it for the long haul, and the games that have been running have surpassed my expectations every time. With that in mind, the offer I’ve made for three years will now be permanent, anyone wanting to try the weekend can turn up without paying, and decide if they enjoyed it at the end of the weekend.  Didn’t like it?  Don’t pay for it.

Call it Cliquecon, call it Exclusicon, call it whatever, the problems faced by Longcon are the problems faced by every convention.  The only thing that’s ever stopped a person getting a game at Longcon is themselves, there’s always been something available, and from a damn good GM.  Maybe people only wanted to play in a particular game, maybe they’d heard about something before and wanted in on it this year, and then felt upset when the places were taken instantly when the games went live.  Examples of this are clear, with Neil Gows Watch series and Steve Ellis’ Dracula Dossier being prime examples of people looking at the game write ups and thinking “What I wouldn’t have given to be in that game…”.  What I do know is that when games sell out in the future, I’m taking them off the website, so people don’t get upset they missed something, and it’s clear when the con’s full.

In all, I’m very pleased with how Longcon has progressed these last few years, and I’ll be looking to increase the number of games being played there in the coming years, starting with more organisation on my part.

And that starts now, Longcon next year is provisionally on the first weekend of July, the 7th and the 8th, and there’ll be a precon meetup scheduled for the night before.  We will also have traders there in an official capacity, because while Jim from Patriot doing deliveries was very well received, it’s apparent that there’s always interest for gamers buying more things.  It won’t take up any of the gaming space, but it makes for more of a complete convention.

Dragonmeet volunteers and GM's required

Dragonmeet open call for GM’s and Volunteers

Four Months out from Dragonmeet in London this year and while we’ve had many of the usual suspects already offer games and time to us, we’re still needing more.  This year we’re splitting the halls, with the majority of the trade in the downstairs hall and the games/tournaments being held in the upstairs.  We’re planning on opening the games rooms an hour before the trade hall to allow people to sign up to games well in advance, and we’re amending the slots so that those who come in for the early games can still get a reasonably shot at the trade hall.

But as always, we’re needing help to do it.


The lifeblood of the convention, and historically the very help we’ve been shortest of on the day, volunteers are needed to man the doors, help direct people to the places they want to be, and above all, help us build up and unset the halls before and after the convention.  With us being twice the size we were last year, we’re anticipating needing at least twice the number of volunteers and while we know that everyone wants to go to Dragonmeet, we hope that some will come along to help us make it everything it has been in previous years.  We’re organising volunteers in four hour shifts, 08:00 to 12:00, 12:00 to 16:00, and finally 16:00 to 20:00 by which time we hope to be mostly clear.  If you want to apply as a volunteer, please let us know what times you’re available to work with us.  Anyone who is happy doing lifting and shifting can apply to help us on the very early and very late shifts, but those jobs are going to be almost exclusively moving tables and chairs around.


We need six people for both morning and evening to help us with the running of the Best of Essen area, the games for which will be confirmed shortly.  We’re happy if people want to do both sessions, but we’re happy for any help that we can get.


Always the last to be mentioned, but with Dragonmeet being very heavy on the roleplaying, we always need people to run games.  We’re running three slots as always, and this year we’re going to be changing the slots.  With the trade hall being separate to the main games hall, we’re looking to run 09:00 till 13:00 for the first slot, then a longer break of two hours to allow people to visit the trade hall, and then the 15:00 to 19:00 slot.  The Evening slot will run 20:00 till midnight, but looking at the information we’ve gathered over last few years, we’ve seen that many don’t stay to play till late in the evening.  With this in mind, we’re offering free entrance to any GM offering games within the Morning and Afternoon slots, which is where we need the majority of games to be available. That’s not to say that you can’t offer a game in the evening as well, but the free entrance perk is only for those running within the main part of the convention.  Submissions for games can be made on the portal on the Dragonmeet website or directly to me.


We’re also looking for interesting events, things that don’t fit into the basic categories of Board and RPG events, and we’ve had great success in previous years with the miniature LARPS and freeform events that we’ve run, so we’re looking to continue that and we’re interested to hear any ideas that you might have.  Again, get in touch directly if you have an idea and we’ll see if we can take it forwards.