Of Corby and Cows

Of Corby and Cows

concrete-cowsI spent the weekend away, Friday/Saturday in Milton Keynes, and Sunday in Corby, Northants. I managed to combine both a visit to family with some fun time away with friends and playing games – which is rather nice!

Of the latter, I had Mother Day and my dad’s birthday to attend to. We visited them with flowers, cards, and the warming gift of single malt whiskey. We departed after too short a visit, having had a delightful meal of potatoes and stew, with raspberry roulade for dessert.

The oddest thing about Corby is the strong Scottish contingent that makes up the populace. This town lies deep in the English Midlands, far from the border.

Originally nothing more than a quaint village, it became a New Town in 1950. The firm Stewarts & Lloyds established an ironstone and steel works there in the mid-1930s, generating an population explosion with a considerable influx of Scottish and Irish labour. While the steel industry has long since expired, the Celtic presence remains strong. Many residents may never have set foot north of the border and yet have a Scottish accent.

My mum has a Scottish accent that, having been away from home for a good while, comes across quite noticeably. The ‘native’ Northamptonshire accent has a strangely rural/agricultural twang about it. Oddly, I seem to have side-stepped both.

In Milton Keynes, I attended the Concrete Cow game day, a bi-annual event run by the Milton Keynes RPG Club.

I attended both as a gamemaster and stall-holder for All Rolled Up, though the former took up far more time than the latter. A smallish affair with about 60 – 70 gamers, it straddles the line between a gathering of a gamers and a gaming event. Two traders attend, which makes it slightly more than just a group of friends with an interest in playing games together. However, it doesn’t quite have the full blown organisational feeling of a convention.

I personally enjoy the feel of the event, welcoming without overwhelming. I play two reasonably successful games of The Dee Sanction (that’s my assessment), from which I garnered plenty of feedback – about which I’ll post separately on Complex 214.

As with many events with dozens of gamers, the Cow team sought a way to handle the business of assigning places against available games. The organisers opted for a raffle system to avoid a scrum dash for sign-up sheets and from an outsider perspective it seemed to work. No system will ever feel entirely fair, because probabilities can be fickle and if you choose two random numbers on two occasions, you may discover the same people suffer the worst possible outcome. That isn’t a fault in the system – that’s fortune and fate grimacing in your direction with quiet indifference.

As a stall-holder, All Rolled Up did fairly well. We almost sold out of our new Adventurer series oilskin game rolls – which seemed to suggest that people who like to buy beautiful games and glittering game accessories, also like to carry around their paraphrenalia in eye-catching, well-crafted dice rolls.

We had a great weekend – and we really enjoyed our stay with friends (and their brilliant canine companion, Harvey). I’m looking forward to next year!

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