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Last year we reported on the rise of a new Easter RPG convention, Maelstrom and its possible conflict with the long-standing BrisCon. Well, it seems this year, the two have compromised by becoming one entity. Co-organiser Keith Done reports.

Over the 1999 May long weekend (May 1st-3rd) there will be a single gaming convention running in Brisbane, at the Morton TAFE College at Mt.Gravatt. The convention will be administered by Amnesty International as one of its major Australian fund-raising ventures.

The event will be called the Auran Brisbane Maelstrom Convention 1999 and is fully supported by the following clubs and associations:

The Australian Scrabble Players Association (Qld), The Briscon Association (including Brisbane Independent Gamers, Dreamlink, Knights with Enormous Trousers and the Qld University Games Society), The Hit Point, The Logan City Star Trek Club, The Praetorians, The Queensland Chess Association, Queensland Miniature Gamers Inc (Warhounds), The QUT Magic: the Gathering Club, The Rookies Chess Club, The Tanelorn Games Club Inc, The University of the Third Age.

The convention is offering over 40 different competitions:

  1. Boardgames:
    Settlers of Catan
    Manhattan/Under and Over/Down to the Last Pfennig triathalon
    Space Hulk
  2. Classics
    Mah Jong
  3. CCGs
    Babylon 5
    Magic Type 2
    Magic Grand Melee
    Middle Earth
    Star Wars
    Star Trek Open
    Star Trek Sealed
    Star Trek Multi-Player
    L5R Open
    L5R Sealed
  4. Miniatures
    DBM Ancients
    DBR Renaissance
    Napoleon's Battles
    Battletech Open
    Battletech Bloodname
    Warhammer Fantasy
    Warhammer 40K
    Rapid Fire
  5. Role-Playing
    Vampire: Dark Ages
    Babylon 5
    2 Dice and Pray
    Amber LARP
    Vampire LARP
    Star Trek LARP

There will also be a multitude of public participation games and displays, including the Games Workshop Roadshow, the Society for Creative Anachronism, Martial Arts and Ethnic Dancing.

Major sponsor Auran is providing 17 computers to create a network, so that registrants can take time out to play the latest PC games.

Local and Interstate game retailers will be present, along with craft and market stalls, trading in anything from celtic quilts to fantasy pottery.

The convention is made possible by Auran, one of the leading designers of PC games, and, in addition, the tournaments are sponsored by local, national and international companies, allowing us to charge the low registration fee of $14. There are no other 'per session charges' excepting the cost of cards when entering a sealed deck CCG competition.

The whole focus of the convention is one of gaming diversity. Where most other games conventions seem to be splintering into RPG, Miniature or CCG events, the object of the Brisbane event is to showcase a wide variety of the types of games that people play. Don't be surprised if there's a Twister or Risk competition in 2000! Our policy is, if ten people want to play in it - it's an official tournament.

We feel that this approach gives us strength, in that we attract a larger audience and, as game genres go in and out of fashion, the diverse client base we are building means that the convention will not be dependent upon a single game genre in order to survive.

The management committee is conservatively expecting 400+ registrants this year, and as places are limited, we can only stress the importance of early registration.

For more details contact Keith Done (07)38034302 or email Convention booklets and entry forms are available in all Brisbane stores and from our websitee at the end of January.

Sanatic Manson turns his back on Grassroots Devil Worship

"Shock-rocker" and alleged priest of Satan, Marilyn Manson has caused an uproar among the Satanic community by insulting the game Dungeons and Dragons. D&D has enjoyed a long time association with the Satanic culture, but in a biography released this week, Manson, although admitting he played the game as a child, made some very disparaging comments on the game. One particularly scathing remark was his assertion that "if every cigarette takes a year of your life, then every game of Dungeons and Dragons you play delays you losing your virginity by seven days".

The remarks have had gaming company representatives up in arms. Gary Arneson, creator of Dungeons & Dragons, has made an official complaint. "For years we have been building up a strong image as a satanic, evil hobby." he reported yesterday. "And now one of the greatest exponents of that same lifestyle wants to tear that all down. Well, we won't stand for it". Arneson went on to say he was considering "pursuing a case for slander".

Head of multinational Clerics of the MidWest, which owns the rights to D&D, along with the affiliated card game Moolah: The Fleecing, Richard Snoopy says his company was responsible for much of Manson's image. "Look at these cards!" he exclaimed, flashing them at the surrounding press at his house in Topeka. "Demonic Consultation. Demonic Torment. Demonic Hordes. Lord of the Pit. We at Clerics have single-handedly revitalised Satanism in America's youth over the last decade. We practically own the Devil."

He concluded by saying "Where the hell would Manson be today if we hadn't paved the way of glamorizing Satan first? He'd be busing tables at fucking Denny's and no mistake. He's turned his back on the very people who made him what he is."

Manson-worshipping teenagers were said to be confused and disheartened by the remark. Michael Penfold, interviewed after Manson's performance at Saturday's "Big Day Out" concert said that "nobody knows what to think any more". He continued "We all thought T&F was rebellious and Satanic and fucking the system, but now Manson says it isn't. We don't know who to trust. We don't know what to mindlessly believe in."

Fellow concert-goer Dwight Durrell was quoted as saying "Yeah, well, it's easy to understand it when he wipes his ass with the bible or burns the American flag - we can copy that. You can even make a T-shirt out of it. But this thing he said has got lots of words in it. I don't get it". Durrell's girlfriend, who called herself Drusilla of the Brujah, commented "Manson has angered all the Kindred. The Prince will have vengeance for this. Man, I'm hot in this cloak."

Manson's lawyers later apologised for the remark, saying that Manson merely made an error of judgement and would soon be taking steps to realign himself with all Satanic-oriented industries. They added "Marilyn is still coming to terms with the fact that he is a role model for all Satanists out there, and thus he has an important responsibility to corrupt and poison young minds. He has expressed his desire to move beyond the incident and get back on stage, where his destructive messages can have the most effect."

But has the damage already been done? Penfold concluded by saying "Manson has betrayed his roots, and betrayed his fans with these conflicting messages. I mean, if you can't turn to rock stars to be told exactly what to do to be a rebel, who can you turn to?".

The Armies Arrive

What will you risk to change the world? That's the question Atlas Games are asking in their brand new RPG "Unknown Armies". If you haven't heard of it, you soon will. Described by Atlas as a game of "transcendental horror and furious action", Unknown Armies looks to epitomise occult gaming and is currently taking the hobby by storm.

It was designed and written by gaming veterans John Tynes and Greg Stolze. Between the two of them, they have worked on some of the more impressive games ever produced, including Call of Cthulhu, its 90's update Delta Green, Everway, Feng Shui, Over the Edge, In Nomine, Legend of the Five Rings and much more. Tynes is most famous for his extensive work on Cthulhu, and his very different PuppetLand which was printed in arcane magazine. Here's what the critics are saying about the game:

"this is the game that will take back the supernatural from White Wolf and makes it new again? in the style of its own mythology, this game is trying to topple the rusty archetypes of the World of Darkness, Nephilim and Kult to place itself on the throne."
"It's the game Mage wanted to be, before the concepts got too big and the system broke down under stress."
"Unknown Armies is the perfect coda to the movement, as well as being one of the best games of 1999"
"[it] evokes real magic: the way magic would feel if it walked into your life, put a choke-hold on you and squeezed your vision into red."

Praise is abounding for the system as well. Inspired by great gaming systems of the past like Feng Shui, Call of Cthulhu and Over the Edge, the rules are touted as being simple, smooth, elegant and almost invisible.

Plus the game is set up to allow three different styles of play to suit any group. From the reports, it seems that Unknown Armies represents a major achievement in game design, and it should clean up at the Origin awards. Whatever the future, Unknown Armies is the game to watch right now.

You can read an interview with John Tynes about the game here.

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