(if you missed it, here’s episode 3.1, or part 1 if you are totally new to this series)
Having designed and run “Mindbane” as an adventure I was delighted when it was published by Chess Sales later that year. I returned to Cancon over the next few years as a player.
In 1989 I ran “Tharlen Manor”, a gothic RPG game, as a tournament at Cancon. This would later be published as “Sanctuary” by Auran.
One of my pet hates when running RPG tournaments at this time was the noise level caused by all gamers being put into one big hall. At Cancon 1989 I brought 12 DMs to run “Tharlen Manor” and petitioned for separate rooms for each group. I was successful and believe that this was the first instance of RPG groups in Australia being run using the one room-one group format.
Here, I must also mention the memorable gaming parties that were run by members of the club in celebration of birthdays and special events. These usually consisted of having a usual party get together until about 11am when everyone would retire to separate parts of the host’s house to settle into playing a DnD game till dawn. In those days it was anything goes and the dungeon designs were wild and woolly.
Nobody cared about the layout, logic, or ecosystems of their dungeon – it was just a place where anything and everything happened. Open a door and you are looking at an ice- field with a dragon sitting there grinning at you!
Make a wrong move and you were cut to ribbons by micro-thin wires (yes, I blundered into that trap). They were over-the-top adventures and I will always remember them with great affection for the shared friendships and laughter spent playing those impossible dungeon crawls.
Between 1983 and 1986 QRP continued to grow but eventually Greg Lane and I left the club within 6 months of each other. Greg had become interested in the emergence of PC games and forging a career in programming. I was finding running the club far too much work and I had some relationship problems at the time. I departed in 1985 but continued to design “Eldoria” and play board games with friends. Anthony McMahon and Greg Lane drifted out of life but new ‘gaming’ friends drifted in – one long-time gamer I shared accommodation with for many years is LXG member Terry Krause. Not only that, the person I ended up marrying in 1988, Michelle (then Dooley), I first met as a player in my DnD group at QRP.
I understand QRP continued on for about another 5 years but it seemed to have run out of steam and the older founding people who began to drift away were never really replaced with people with enough enthusiasm to keep the club going. It went into decline and its members went on to become involved in clubs that were emerging, devoted to board games and miniatures. This was the time of the rise Brisbane Independent Wargamers, Queensland University Gamers and other clubs, often specialising in specific gaming genres.
I eventually was lured back into the club scene as well and founded Club Tanelorn in 1987 with a few key games enthusiasts such as Michael Mulhern, John McDonnel and Robert McCord. The original concept of Tanelorn was to be a fortnightly get together to play games in a ‘club’ environment. This meant alcohol and catering was to be provided at each meeting. The club was conceived as a small group of friends getting together to play games and, to accommodate this, membership fees were high, set at- $100 per year. This format lasted about a year – the club met at QUT and eventually at a night club at the Story Bridge end of Queen Street. Board games I remember playing at Club Tanelorn in the late 80’s included “Talisman”, “Civilization” and “Junta”.
I continued to run DnD tournaments in Brisbane and in interstate conventions such as Cancon, Sydcon and Necromonicon in Melbourne. I established a following at Cancon and had a great time running games there. However, the convention scene seemed to implode by the end of the 80’s. Miniatures gaming was dominated by Ancients and Napoleonics at this time and most miniatures enthusiasts were very conservative by nature.
Role players, on the whole were the complete opposite and the two ‘camps’ began to get involved in politics for control of conventions. This was particularly the case with Cancon, where the rift widened and the role-players ended up going their own way.
I stopped going to Cancon after their committee didn’t accept my tournament submission for the 1990 event. The incredible excuse given was that the tournaments run by Club Tanelorn were too popular and that everyone wanted to play in them. As our games went for an entire day, we were stopping other designers from getting enough players in their events. I parted ways with Cancon and have never been back.
Instead I became involved with Briscon in the late 80’s but I still experienced the same bitter rivalry between gaming groups – miniatures players didn’t want to waste money on individual rooms for role-playing groups and role-players didn’t want to waste money on hiring tabletops for the miniatures players. I’ve always embraced all facets of gaming so it was quite frustrating working with some people who should never have been on convention committees! However, I plodded on and ran two DnD events over successive years “Creatures of the Light” and “Sweet Dreams in Ashfold”. Ancients and Napoleonics remained the dominant tabletop events at this time and board game competitions were unheard of. Warhammer was on the rise though.
As mentioned earlier in this article, I was married to Michelle in 1988 and gaming was taking a back-burner for a little while. But only a little while as Club Tanelorn was about to change its membership format and pricing and explode onto the Brisbane the gaming scene.
Next episode: Free-forms and CCGs (Magic: the Gathering arrives!). Go to part 4.1