Other Games Conpulsion Death (2019) Report


Rune Priest
I'm not sure if Conpulsion is actually a convention. It might actually be a gathering of a broad social circle that just happens once a year.

Let me explain.

I started going to Conpulsion in the mid-90's. I carried on attending through the heydays of my 20's, until giving up in the early 00's when the rug-rats appeared. I went back for 2016, and I've been going ever since. The point? Well, the same generation of gamers who were there in the 90's are still there now, although supplemented by a decent sprinkling of students from the society who are officially running the show.

Why is this relevant? Because "everyone" knows how the con works, so it all flows relatively smoothly. Which is a Good Thing, because it was pretty hard to find out what was going on from the organizers. There was a programme, it's true. It was released on the website on the Friday, 24 hours before the con. And then again, in a more correct version, about 2 hours before the con started on Saturday. And then another correction (to the location of the 7pm auction) was released at 6pm. And some more clarifications about the time the sign-up sheets went up came out at midnight.

There was a noticeboard, with the times/locations of the various seminars and events, and indicating which games were child friendly or adult only. Sadly, the time listed for the seminar I was going to was 30 minutes late. Luckily someone had put up some bits of A4 with felt-tip on around the building, telling us the right time. The game locations were perhaps a bit tricky if you hadn't memorized the programme (you did get a copy, didn't you?). All the RPGs were in the other building, except the child-friendly and the adult-only, which were upstairs. Except for the evening, when all the games were in the bar or the canteen. Once you had found the right location, it wasn't too hard to find your game. Except for the evening, when no-one knew which of the bar or the canteen you'd ended up in. And you couldn't ask at the sign-up desk, because that shut sometime during the tea break.

So, even by Conpulsion's somewhat relaxed standards of late, organization was a bit "last-minute scrappy". Even the normally super-helpful volunteers were giving confused messages and not entirely sure what was going on.

Games-wise, I got to run 4 of the 5 I offered, starting on Saturday morning with anime Manifold, then steampunk Manifold and finishing the day with some Fate. Sunday morning was my Celtic myth Monkey hack. Only one taker for my afternoon game, so I took the opportunity to play a friend's Feng Shui game instead.

How did they go? I struggled with the 3-hour slot length, only hitting the target properly with my first game. The second suffered pacing problems and was rushed at the end, and the evening game was both rushed and ran over time. Sunday morning a combination of dropping the optional encounters and the players finding clever alternatives to fighting meant that I finished a good 20-30 minutes early. I really need to take a good look at these games and give myself more flexibility. Maybe ditch any that can't be fixed and start again.

After playing in the Sunday afternoon game I sloped off home to get some food before going to my regular Sunday evening D&D session, so I guess I missed the excitement of the closing ceremony and the announcement of the winning logo. Although I have been following the minor sh*t-storm that followed on Facebook...but that's a different post.


Rune Priest
As an addendum, I have no idea how many people attended this year. At no point did I ever feel like there was a crowd, but then I didn't go to the auction or the quiz or the closing ceremony.

There were 6-8 games on offer in each slot, and the Saturday afternoon slot was so busy that they had an emergency game running and could have filled a couple more if they'd had them available. Even on the Sunday morning I think every game ran, and on Sunday afternoon I might have had the singular honour of having the only game not to run for the whole convention.

The board games room (off the canteen where the traders normally are) might have been hiding a lot of people, but I never had the time to investigate.
This has forever been my experience of Conpulsion.

If you could navigate the building, handle the insane game sign-up system, find a working timetable, dodge the plethora of homebrew nightmare games and duck being screamed at by some highly-stressed middle class undergraduate because you sat at the wrong table in the canteen at the wrong time for your pick-up game and why oh why couldn't anyone just listen to her .... you were fine. I think the final straw for me was being ID'd into the building at the ripe old age of 42 ... because rules. I know how student unions work, intimately, and well .... hahahaha

There were some great years - then Phil and Gregor ran it - but soon it just reverted to the insular mess it usually is. Which, to be fair, is what some of the new faces at Seven Hills this weekend may have thought about the Garricon set up too.

And hilariously, yes, I too often wondered where all the people were ... I'm sure having been there about seven times, I never found the LARPS or the wargamers, of which there were loads apparently....
I used to love it - even to the point of paying to fly up.

I don't think I'll be copying this post to my blog, if that's OK Martin. But it's very informative. If I have to choose between 7Hills and Conpulsion again next year, this will help me decide.