The second part of memoir and ‘zine scrap book. If you can help Nick find some of the ‘zines that he worked on, (Runestone, Iron Orchid and Manic Depressive) then please let me know and I’ll pass on the details. If you have a collection or a story to share then get in touch, we’d love to hear it.
At some point, I either threw out or sold all the games and zines (including copies of my own zines), or had them thrown out for me by my mum.
That was that, until about 2004, by which point I had a career in business journalism and then general management in publishing.
I was ill in bed with some kind of horrible virus and in a kind of comfort food kind of thing, re-read Lord of the Rings over a couple of days. It was a reconnection with the past, and a revelation; the new film had just come out so that may have contributed.
At the same I was in a very bad marriage and my Dad was dying. In retrospect escapism was what I needed!
Over the course of some months, I gradually dug back into the past. I rooted out some stuff in my parents’ garage which had escaped the 80s purge – some White Dwarfs and some games.
I rooted round on the internet and found a blog by someone calling himself hyperbear which was a writeup of a Call of Cthulhu campaign in Delta Green universe. I was amazed how gaming had moved on since I had been away – it was dark and gritty with really good stories. I bought the Delta Green sourcebooks on ebay (really expensive) and read them like books. I started reading yog-sothoth.com (everyone seemed much nicer to each other these days).
Then I went crazy on ebay and basically bought everything I had ever owned and more – all the games from the 70s and 80s, a pretty much complete set of WDs and whatever zines I could get (sadly I wasn’t able to find any of mine – clearly the market had voted on the need to keep them for posterity!). I got the original white box D&D set, the first edition of Call of Cthulhu, obscure things like Metamorphosis Alpha, Land of the Rising Sun, Bunnies and Burrows etc. Just like when I was 14, I bought many more things than I could ever play or even read.
THERE, AND BACK AGAIN
Round about 2006 I started actually playing again. A friend (ex boss in fact) used to play D&D with his brothers decades before and was still into scifi/fantasy/Lovecraft so was open to discussing Delta Green. In fact we did the first session in the bar of the Groucho Club (the show biz private members club in Soho) without dice or paper based on an idea I had been knocking around set in modern Britain and using the Pisces section of the Delta Green campaign. Over the course of the next few years we ran through a sprawling campaign with a session once a month (which I wrote up in a yog-sothoth blog) mashing up DG scenarios, my own stuff, an old WD scenario from Marcus Rowland, bits stolen from different campaigns and then culminating in a present-day version of Beyond the Mountains of Madness. It was pretty messy and I am not the best games master but I was pleased with it overall – I seem to remember one of the characters ended up making the ultimate sacrifice at the end (if you have ever done that BMOM campaign you will know what that entails) which was satisfying. By this time we had a group of five players and since then I have run a number of games: a couple of shorter Delta Green campaign, a Cthulhu-esque thing set in the far future, some rule-light adventures set in Lankmar, and most recently the Eyes of the Stone Thief campaign for 13th Age. I started going to Dragonmeet again (and am going to UK Games Expo for the first time in June).
So now almost 40 years after first opening the red box Basic D&D set, I am happily married with three boys (12, 8 and 3), living in South London and managing about 130 commodities analysts for my job.
Despite all of this responsibility, a part of me will always be 14. I basically like all the things I liked when I was a kid but just have more money to indulge it. And my Christmas lists these days? Last Xmas my mum bought me a Mansions of Madness expansion pack which pleased me greatly.