02 July 2019

Back from the Eternal Con 2019

This is my traditional ‘Back from the Eternal Con’ blog post. For those who do not know, there’s been a Chaosium-friendly convention at Burg Stahleck each year during the Whit week-end, in a beautiful castle-turned-youth hostel overlooking the Rhine, for 23 years. The name of the con and its organisers have changed over time; it’s been called The Eternal Con for 10 years now, after having been the Tentacles convention (the original one) between 1996 and 2009. Bacharach (the quaint little town Burg Stahleck overlooks) is in Rhineland-Palatinate, one of the closest German states to the French border, so I always drive there. This year I have been even able to use my fantastic Christmas present... a 12V onboard espresso machine. The pleasure of drinking real coffee on the motorway is indescribable — I reckon even HP Lovecraft would have been at a loss for adjectives.

Anyway, after an uneventful Paris-Bacharach drive (we didn’t even run into any real Staus), my daughter, myself and fellow RQ enthusiast Patrick arrived to sunny Burg Stahleck to be welcomed by the organisers and given our room keys. For the first time, we had electronic keys meaning we didn’t have to rely on roommates to get the key to our room— every conventiongoer had theirs!

with daughter in front of the Schloss

the Schloss and the Rhine

Hobbit-sized beds :-(

In terms of room, we ended up in one in the basement I didn’t even know existed. Given the heat, it was a cracking location; however, the ceiling was pretty low and, even though we are not very tall, the hobbit-sized beds were quite uncomfortable.

The Eternal Con has always been a very family-friendly con, with many families and kids in attendance (see my previous blog posts), this year possibly even more so than the last years. Honestly, I was expecting a hellish week-end with lots of screaming kids but most of them were well-behaved and, except at lunch- and dinner-time, we barely noticed them, thanks to several staff members who kept looking after them.
This being a German con, in a German youth hostel, we had scarcely time to play one or two boardgames when dinner time hit us at six o’clock. Food was better than last year, even though it remains youth hostel fare, but it still remains millions of miles away from the delicate stuff you get at The Kraken.

FRIDAY 7 JUNE, EVENING, Grand Opening Ceremony
As mentioned in my introduction, this was the 10th Eternal Con but also the 23rd con at Stahleck, so much emphasis was put on pictures of the last cons during the opening ceremony. Even though the Eternal Con is supposed to be an international con, the attendance this year was mostly German. Luckily there was a large group of British and Dutch players, plus some from other countries, mostly Bulgaria and Finland.

After the ceremony ended, the game signup board was unveiled and, consistently with what I had noticed from the attendance, most games were in German! Also, having had a difficult and tiring first half of 2019, I hadn’t prepared any RPG session on my part. Luckily my Gloranthan boardgame prototype, Last Faction Hero, was well advanced in terms of development, and I had plenty of players volunteering to play.

Over breakfast, discussed the Bulgarian hobby scene with Antonia Doncheva from Sofia, who is among the organisers of През 9 земи (“over nine lands”), Bulgaria’s No.1 fantasy convention. Antonia is also an artist; you can see her art on p190 of the Glorantha Sourcebook, and she is currently drawing amazing art for the upcoming Gods and Goddesses of Glorantha books.

Even though Chaosium is a US company, many of its creative people live in Europe, and particularly in Germany. This is why German conventions have traditionally hosted Chaosium panels.
On Saturday at 10am, I attended the first panel, devoted to the various Chaosium games.

The speakers were Claudia Loroff, Kalin Kadiev and David Scott. Jeff Richard had been badly bitten by a bug, preventing him from travelling to Bacharach, and he was hence participating via an online video chat platform.

the Chaosium panel in the main room; Jeff is on the screen
Anyway, here are my notes.

Call of CthulhuLynne Hardy is now on board full-time as the Associate Editor for Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu line.
The Berlin - The Wicked City sourcebook/scenario book is out in dead tree format. Jeff emphasises how deeply rooted in the 1920s Berlin art scene the book is.

Cover art for the Berlin book; I love it!
The old out-of-print CoC scenarios are going to be gradually reprinted, but rewritten and with new art. “Rewritten” here doesn’t only mean updated for the 7th edition rules – the way RPG scenarios are written has evolved a lot since CoC was first published, so the rewriting may actually impact the contents of the scenario.

PendragonPendragon is back in the Chaosium fold.
The 5.2 edition, which was out-of-print, has been republished in dead tree format.
Next in the pipe are the Paladin QuickStarter (basically Pendragon set in Continental Europe), followed by Paladin Adventures.
There will be a Pendragon 6.0 edition on par with what has been done for CoC and RQ:G in terms of layout and artwork.
Possibly also a Pendragon Starter Set to lure younger players into the hobby; this will really be aimed at people with zero RPG experience.

AquelarreAn English-language version of the classic Spanish-language mediaeval role-playing game has been successfully crowdfunded, and Chaosium will distribute it in English-speaking countries once the Kickstarter project is fulfilled.

Social Media PresenceWith the demise of Google+, Chaosium is now focusing on Facebook and BRP Central. It’s too difficult to focus on more than two social networks.

BoardgamesMiskatonic University: The Restricted Collection is out. It plays in 20 to 30 minutes. The next boardgame out will be the Red Thread by Pedro Ziviani, then either Folklore (also by Pedro) or Credo (by Chris Gidlow).

7th Sea
Chaosium also brought in John Wick’s 7th Sea, a swashbuckling RPG with a strong player narrative side.

RuneQuest: Adventures in GloranthaJeff explains that RQ:G has to be viewed as a rule kit rather than a rule set. More than YGWV, you must think YRQWV— the game is yours to house rule.

There a quite a few books in the pipe, written by different people, so it’s not easy to say which one will be out first.

Jason Durall is working on The Smoking Ruins, a scenario book, which is soon going to be in layout. Even though there aren’t any hard ETAs, The Smoking Ruins should be the next book out, and we (the panel audience) are shown its cover, which is truly amazing.
The Smoking Ruins will be followed by The Pegasus Plateau, another book of scenarios, which will mostly be linked to famous locations in the Dragon Pass area.
Next will be the RuneQuest Starter Set, priced at around 20/25 euros.

Jeff Richard is (still) working on the Gods & Goddesses of Glorantha book. If you check my blog post dated 5 March 2019 you will notice that, at the time, Jeff was contemplating approximately 70 cults. The list of cults has now grown to 100! Jeff says the book is turning into the No.1 Glorantha resource after the Guide to Glorantha, and that it will be presented as a set of two books, possibly accompanied by a third book with all the spirit & Rune magic spells. There will also be maps of religions per area, like in an atlas of world religions.
I know I tend to be over-enthusiastic with regards to Gloranthan stuff, but the art of the Gods & Goddesses of Glorantha book we were shown is BEYOND AMAZING – it looked like it was from the art book of a Bronze Age exhibition from a major museum rather than from a role-playing game!

Another book Jeff is working on is the RuneQuest Campaign Book, a season-based, epic campaign set after the Dragonrise in the Dragon Pass area – your heroes get to play in the Hero Wars at last! The book will include rules for large-scale battles, magical artefacts, interactions with ‘super heroes’ (Argrath, Jar-eel…), hero-questing rules + events in the Lunar Empire during the Hero Wars. There will also be mythological maps.

Regarding the current US-China trade war and the foreseeable 25% increase in tariffs, Chaosium is obviously already looking at alternatives so as not to impact the customers, price-wise.

I had lunch with Claudia Loroff and Kalin Kadiev; we had a great chat about Bronze Age food because of a book Claudia is writing about Bronze Age food (and she’s personally testing all the recipes!). Our conversation addressed various subjects: food itself, seasons and weather, agriculture and grain goddesses in Glorantha, the importance of salt, the impact of all of this on how people live, how society is organised, how people preserve food… down to wayfood for player characters! I really think there could be cracking Gloranthan scenarios centred on food, about who owns the salt mine, about stealing all the cereals that have been stored or burning the rival clan’s grain…

More Last Faction Hero playtesting with friends. This provided fantastic feedback to improve the rules and add extra event cards.

Yay! Played a HeroQuest: Glorantha Mostali game set in 1653 refereed by Chaosium’s very own David Scott, mostly with UK players (and hence with lots of tongue-in-cheek humour). We got to manoeuvre Faced Statues* against a Chaos kaiju to save the world machine!
*they were exactly like the Faceless Statue except they had a face

a full-Mostali table

The traditional Trollball tournament took place in the morning (see trollball.eu if you want to take part in next year’s tournament). Last year’s tournament had been quite lacklustre. This year’s was massive: six teams, huge attendance, people with T-shirts of their favourite team... probably the best tournament of the last years. For the record, the Carcosan team won.

Trollball! picture by Heini

Trollball! picture by Heini

My daughter and I skipped lunch for a visit of the old town with Gwen Mott and Dan Barker. We talked over Flammkuchen about the possibility of an upcoming issue (No.21) of Tales of the Reaching Moon that David Hall, David Scott and Peter Erickson would like to publish via crowdfunding. For those of you who are not Glorantha fans (but then why are you reading this blog in the first place?), Tales of the Reaching Moon was an almost professionally-produced Gloranthan fanzine that was published in the UK between 1989 (issue No.1) and 2002 (issue No.20), i.e., during the bleakest days of our hobby. Tales of the Reaching Moon’s role was paramount in keeping the flame of Gloranthan fandom alive in the Great Darkness, so obviously talks about issue No.21 strongly sparked my interest. I hope I can tell you more about this worthwhile endeavour in a future blog post.

After a nice hike uphill to get back to the castle, we played a Call of Catthulhu adventure set in mediaeval Japan, refereed by Gwen. I played an earnest “twofootologist” (a cat who understands humans and studies their behaviour) while my daughter was playing our party’s ninja cat. It goes without saying that we managed to save humanity— and received a full year’s fish allowance as a reward.

bespoke Call of Catthulhu dice

the game as advertised on the signup board

As usual, the con was too short and before I knew it it was the Closing ceremony already. Also, as usual, it was sad. But fear not, there is a new Eternal Con next year, so let’s all meet between 29 May and 1 June 2020 at Burg Stahleck!

This year’s Eternal Con introduced a brand-new event and concept— the Art Fair. There were a half dozen artists presenting and selling their work, which ranged from traditional RPG art to oil paintings and to fantasy jewellery (my daughter bought a stunning Crimson Bat pendant by Dan Barker). The organisers said this section might grow in the future. I certainly hope it does. And if I may add a suggestion— T-shirts! I would have gladly purchased some of the art on a T-shirt rather than as a print.

The RuneQuest panel was the second panel this year. Since RQ:G had already been addressed during then Chaosium panel (see above), this was more like a Q&A session.

Q: Can you give us a heads-up regarding the Jonstown Compendium?
A: The Jonstown Compendium (a repository of fan-written RQ:G material, similar to what already exists for CoC called the Miskatonic Repository, and available via DriveThruRPG) is within Michael O’Brien’s able hands, and should be online soon.

Q: Can you give us a heads-up regarding the Nochet book?
A: The book is in preparation, being written by 5 different authors.

Q: Can you give us a heads-up regarding Gloranthan boardgames?
A: The Dragon Pass boardgame is in stand-by because Chris Klug is working on a Grazelanders book.

Q: Can you give us a heads-up regarding HeroQuest?
A: HeroQuest is undergoing a major overhaul (via the SRD being written by Ian Cooper, see my blog post dated 3 November 2018). When the SRD is ready, it will be open to anybody who wants to use that engine. Ian is also putting together an HQ superhero book, and another one based on 19th century Victorian literature that will emphasise social interactions.

Q: What about Claudia’s Gloranthan Cookbook?
A: It will actually be more like a Gloranthan travelogue with recipes from the various places the main character visits (see my discussion with Claudia above). The book is 80% written.

Q: What about the new Pavis & Big Rubble book?
A: Robin D Laws is half-way through the first book. The current ETA is a 2021 release for the two books together.

we do look like a cult, don't we?

I missed the traditional singalong because I had to leave early in the morning but I understand it wasn’t that different from last year’s singalong, about which you can read in my 2018 report.


  1. Wow! The news of Aquelarre being under Chaosium's wings caught me by surprise! Are they going to own everything by Nocturnal?

    The crowdfunded new issue of Tales looks promising! Specially since there haven't been any news since the last Wyrms Footprints...

    I'm a bit confused about the RQ Campaign Book, since some of its contents had originally been announced for the RQ GM Book.

    Tell us more about the Mostali scenario!

    I hope I can attend the con next year. But tell me something: didn't they stop running The Tentacles Con because it changed into the Kraken? Or was it just Fabian who decided to run a smaller kind of convention? (I'm such a noob!)

    1. Nocturnal
      I have no idea :-)

      RQ Campaign Book
      Yes, I believe bits and pieces have been moved around amongst the various books, compared to what were told last year.

      Mostali scenario
      I haven't seen the film Pacific Rim but according to some of my fellow players the scenario was really a spoof of that film.

      Tentacles/The Kraken
      I won't delve too deeply into that (it's a sensitive issue!), but Fabian was indeed running the Tentacles con at Stahleck and then moved to a cosier location for The Kraken. Some people who got used to the Whit week-end break at Bacharach then created another con (the Eternal Con) that has nothing to do with Tentacles.

    2. The team and the club that run Tentacles decided to stop and move on to create THE KRAKEN.

  2. I forgot: Thanks a lot for your report! I had been eagerly expecting to read it! ^-^

  3. Thanks for the report. At some point I really should get back to Castle Stahleck. I've only been once and that was Tentacles 2006! Interesting to hear all the RQ news, there's a lot there that isn't filtering through via the forums, so its all fresh to me :)

    "RQ:G has to be viewed as a rule kit rather than a rule set. More than YGWV, you must think YRQWV— the game is yours to house rule." oh dear that's not going to go down well with some RQ fanatics I know :D