Bolthole Halloween Special

Halloween Wallpaper.

Happy Halloween from the Bolthole!

 

It’s almost that time of year again. To celebrate, we’ve reached out to members of the Bolthole and asked for their take on great scary fiction, be it games, movies or stories. We’ve emphasized shorter material, but here’s some reading music.

He2etic, here from space to scare the living hell out of you.

He2etic, here from space to scare the living hell out of you.

He2etic: If you’re looking for a great horror movie to check out, it’s got to be Stephen King’s The Mist. The story involves a number of survivors trapped in a grocery store, their town covered by a thick fog that hides predator monsters. But only half the hero’s problems come from outside, as fear gives a zealot antagonist undeserving power.

The film deserves high marks in every aspect. The special effects and variety of monsters are intriguing to admire. The actors and actresses fill their roles with rewarding efforts.

The plot explores its themes well and moves at the right pace, giving the characters time to reflect and react. Perhaps best of all, even King admired the changed ending. As King said, “The ending is such a jolt—wham! It’s frightening. But people who go to see a horror movie don’t necessarily want to be sent out with a Pollyanna ending.”

The Mist isn’t just a good horror movie, it’s a good movie in its own right. However, if you’re looking for something more traditional with monsters, check out Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.

LordLucan, tentacled terror tormenting tale tellers totally!

LordLucan, tentacled terror tormenting tale tellers totally!

LordLucan: For classic haunted house kinds of horror stories, I found The Others, starring Nicole Kidman, and The Woman in Black to be quite well accomplished movies, that are great atmospheric films that build the tension and sense of bleak desolation and isolation of their characters well, and they don’t make the cardinal sin of overusing their ghouls.

Wolf Creek is another good Australian horror movie, which is very reminiscent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the slow build up is the most effective part.

I feel the best horror stories are actually unnerving and work best when a reader or viewer does not realise until later than something is terribly wrong. Too many lazy horror movies recently rely upon either excessive gore, or on the jump scare chord. Such films aren’t scary, they are startling, which is very different.

On youtube, there is a series called Marble Hornets, which I recommend folks check out if they haven’t all ready. Sometimes it falls back on the jump scare, but I find this series is scariest in the videos you have to re-watch. Then you start noticing somethig going on in the background. Something the characters in the videos don’t seem to realise is there… (gotta love the Slender Man, the greatest of the creepy internet memes)

The most horrifying film I’ve seen though, I would say, is Threads. However, don’t go into that film expecting to be entertained. Harrowing, relentlessly bleak and it gave me restless nights when I first saw it, I can tell you.

While I don’t recommend it for its actual quality of the story itself, folks should read Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, as it is one of the earliest examples of a Gothic Horror story, the ancestor to later horror staples like Dracula, Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde*, and Frankenstein.

*(Incidentally, it bums me out that Doctor Jekyll and mister Hyde’s has been permanently and culturally spoiled for every single person in the world. When I read this book, it didn’t really work for me, but in the day, when nobody actually knew who Hyde was, it would have made for a brilliant mystery story, with the mother of all twists.)

Vivia, because the Robot Devil says HELL...o.

Vivia, because the Robot Devil says HELL…o.

Vivia: Great finds on iTunes: The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas app! It has the well-known opening sequence and actors of all kinds. It looks awesome and what is not to like about radio dramas? Not cheap though.

The H.P Lovecraft’ Collection for 22 SEK!  As usual the Swedish rating is totally bonkers: 4+. Yeah, I’m sure of that, because  children of that age can read and want to read horror stories.

The Year Walk, a game based on Swedish folklore in the 19th century, the worst type of century. I’m so tempted to buy it, the graphics look nice and I read all about the beings in the game (Scandinavian type of faeries). But reading from the reviews it’s a horror game with supernatural elements and better played with ear phones. Snow, red cottages and things, I know all about and it frightens me. It’s a unique game play experience, art mixed with story. The indie game The Path comes to mind, another creep game I recommend.

House on Haunted Hill, with the wonderful Vincent Price. He is a must-see on film and TV. Watching his films were big entertainment during Friday evenings when we were children (not entirely healthy for small kids I admit). His films are on YT so go there to take a look.

He is also on ITunes. Classic BBC Radio Horror: The Price Of Fear among many.

The incorrigible Corrigan Phoenix!

The incorrigible Corrigan Phoenix!

Corrigan Phoenix: For a game, try Slenderman: The Eight Pages. You can generally get it for free with the right google search, and for scares its perfect.

You are a lone man, deposited over a razor-wire topped wire fence into a compound. Your goal is to find and collect the eight pages that all hold facts on the legendary slenderman. The trick is, as you collect more pages, the man himself begins to follow you – the more pages you collect, the less time you can spend standing still.

The creepy setting coupled with a fantastic score and decent lighting graphics make this my top-scariest game ever. Give it a try, let me know what you thought – even better, film your own reaction whilst playing it and share – give us all a laugh!

Mossy Toes. Because! ... just because.

Mossy Toes. Because! … just because.

Mossy Toes: “Hobo Lobo of Hamelin” is an anthropomorphized animal tale retelling of the Pied Piper tale. It appears to be a work in progress, so it isn’t complete yet, but is an almost wholly new use of the medium of webcomic-ery. Dynamic, shifting page environment, redolent with symbolism and layered imagery; heavy and cynical political allegory/disenchantment; the best use of music in an interactive medium since Bastion; I could go on, but I’ll let you explore it for yourself.

The Passenger, a short animated film about the perils of goldfish, the listening to of music, etc.

The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello, the real coup de resistance. Half an hour of steampunk silhouette joy. With floating islands that have volcanoes on them (don’t ask how it works), floating balloon buoys that stay stationary without being anchored (don’t ask how it works), mad scientists, horrific creatures, virulent plagues, airships… and so on.

Check out the rest here! And be sure to check out Read in a Rush: Haunting for fresh stories!

“The Black Wind’s Whispers” Available in Print!

The Black Wind's Whispers, available now on Amazon.

The Black Wind’s Whispers, available now on Amazon. Just in time for the season…

For the first time ever, the Bolthole’s first anthology The Black Wind’s Whispers, is available in print. With new cover art by the amazing Manuel Mesones. Just in time for the Halloween season comes 9 tales of classic monsters re-twisted into new and horrifying forms. Includes the short stories of…

“Plague of the Krakenmari”, by Simon Howers.
“The Sculptor’s Torment”, by Jonathan Ward.
“Unmarked”, by A.R. Aston.
“An Old Friend”, by Keanu Ross-Cabrera.
“The Birth Howl”, by James Fadeley.
“Guardian”, by Alec McQuay.
“Since This War”, by Robbie MacNiven.
“Burden”, by Jeremy Daw.
“And Entombed in the Dawn”, by special guest C.L. Werner.

Order your copy on Amazon just in time for Halloween. And for the e-reader folks, there’s always the Kindle edition.

Interview with Stoic Studios

On March 19th, 2012, a team of three developers formerly from Bio-Ware put up a new Kickstarter campaign for a small, indie game called The Banner Saga. 20,000 backers and $700,000 later, it was 7 times over its asking amount, and one of the most successful projects ever kickstarted, putting Stoic Studios well on the map. Today, Alex Thomas, the Creative Director of Stoic Studios, found time to speak with about the process.

Alex Thomas, warchief of creativity over at Stoic Studios.

Alex Thomas, warchief of creativity over at Stoic Studios.

He2etic: When people think of making video games, being the creative director is often considered an absolute dream position. What are some of the realities and challenges you face in your position that you didn’t expect to?

Alex: Ah, well I think when you’re in the position you realize what a farce job titles are, especially in a small company. Yeah, I’m the designer, but I’m also the writer and the animator, and the marketing department, and the scripter and QA and producer. On top of that, the art director is also a designer, and the technical director is a designer and the composer is a designer, and so on and so forth.

I’ve definitely noticed that the game gets better the more loosely I hold onto the reins. Basically, you take the good ideas wherever they come from and argue against the bad, especially if they were your bad ideas. Letting go of “ownership” is important.

At the end of the day, nobody cares if your wife’s brother’s uncle came up with the best idea in the game, they just know whether they like the game, and that reflects on you more than anything else.

“Branching content is one of the banes of storytelling. We have over 20 “main” characters and almost all of them can die, leave or take actions on their own that you may not agree with.”

 

As for the hardest thing about it, it’s definitely restraining yourself. Everybody making a game wants to make the best thing ever. Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. It’s very tempting, especially on a first project, to go completely overboard trying to prove yourself.

That’s not to say you start chopping good design, it’s just that you have to know when the game stops being a tight, well-made package and sprawls into an unwieldy abomination. Sounds easy, but… it’s the hardest part. That, and making something that’s fun. The line between fun and frustrating/boring can be razor thin.

The Banner Saga, by Stoic Studios

The Banner Saga, by Stoic Studios.

He2etic: Where did the idea for a game built around viking mythology originate from?

You’ve mentioned inspiration from Game of Thrones and Glen Cook’s The Black Company. Was there any other fiction that gave you ideas?

Alex: It’s interesting, we get asked a lot “why vikings”, but it really wasn’t something we belabored.

We wanted to make a fantasy game and we didn’t want to rehash orcs, elves and dwarves. Arnie’s family history is Scandinavian and when he suggested vikings we both went “yeah, great!”. That was the extent of it.

As for the inspiration, I did imagine the game to be medieval European at an early stage, because of influences from stories like Game of Thrones and The Black Company, and that deep-seated familiarity with The Lord of the Rings that I think everybody tries to separate themselves from.

I think the viking angle lets us take those inspirations and make them feel new and interesting. I’ve also been hugely inspired by The Wire, which I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying is one of the best TV series ever made, and The NeverEnding Story, oddly enough (not that there’s two “worlds” influencing each other, but the tone of the fantasy parts is pretty great).

“The challenge, but also the pleasure, is in giving the player a little bit a direction and letting them really identify with the characters on their own terms, instead of forcing them to. That’s pretty unique to games.”

 

The biggest takeaway from these things is that I wanted to have a huge cast of characters that come and go in unexpected ways. Not many games can get away with the big cast, but I think it’s what makes these stories so compelling.

You need to see things from multiple perspectives, and have people to hate and cheer for who aren’t static, and have their own motivations and desires. We can afford to have a character leave the party because he doesn’t like what you did. And by “what you did”, I mean a decisions you made, not a linear cutscene.

That’s something that most games could never do, and I think that’s the rabbit we’re chasing with The Banner Saga.

A scene from Banner Saga Factions, available on Steam.

A scene from Banner Saga Factions, available on Steam.

He2etic: Game stories frequently differ from movies, television and the majority of books for their ability to diverge into multiple story paths. What kind of challenges do you face developing a tale that splits into differing possibilities?

Alex: Branching content is one of the banes of storytelling. It’s time consuming, expensive, and inevitably means that one player sees the “optimal” story while others will see the “low content” or “low effort” version.

You can’t have big divergences in the story that are both equally good. Would a version of Star Wars where Solo dies in the cantina be as good? A good story usually builds on itself, and if you’re yanking out the foundation left and right the whole thing falls apart.

In that regard I think we don’t try to write a game that is divergent on every level. The team on The Witcher 2 did crazy amounts of content to ensure that one specific decision played out completely different than another. It was a single major branch that was an enormous amount of effort, and I doubt most players appreciated it at all, or even knew about it. They probably assumed it didn’t matter. Could the game had been better if that effort was put toward a single storyline instead? These are rhetorical of course, I can’t speak for The Witcher.

“We decided to build vertically instead of horizontally… The game is much longer than we originally anticipated, but the lion’s share of funding has gone toward quality.”

 

What we’re doing is similar to The Walking Dead. There is one critical path through the game, but what happens to the people around you is what is important.

At the risk of getting philosophical, isn’t that kinda how life goes? Do you remember what you did or how you felt about what you did? How you feel by the end is what matters for us, and that could be very different from someone else, even though the “main events” didn’t diverge. We have over 20 “main” characters and almost all of them can die, leave or take actions on their own that you may not agree with. Or survive the whole thing and be your favorite character.

Juno, a character set to appear in the game.

Juno, a character set to appear in the game.

Those are two very different outcomes that don’t make our work load impossible. Our biggest challenge has been to make sure the player feels that these events are fair, and the results are not random and unpredictable.

He2etic: It’s pretty common for creative people to have more ideas than they could fit into the final product. Were there any innovations you regret not having the time, finances or technical expertise to include in Banner Saga?

It would be pretty insane for us to say that we didn’t have the finances or time to do what we wanted with the game. Our Kickstarter raised 700% more funding than we asked for, and as a result we’ve so far gone about 6 months over (the original, admittedly naive) launch date.

We decided to build vertically instead of horizontally, meaning that we dramatically improved the quality of all our content instead of the breadth. The game is much longer than we originally anticipated, but the lion’s share of funding has gone toward quality – better animation, better sound, better music, better story.

If I did have one regret, it would be the lack of voice acting. We knew going in that a game with several dozen important characters would cost far beyond our budget, even with major over-funding. That kind of thing can cost millions. Maybe we’ll be able to shoe it in for a special edition in the future? My hope is the writing is good enough to keep people engaged, even without voice overs.

He2etic: What’s it like developing characters for Banner Saga? Is it a unique challenge to develop characters that are not only entertaining but functional and interactive to the player?

Alex: Character development is pretty much my favorite thing to write, ever, so I’m completely in heaven having such a large cast of personalities all to myself. The incredible thing about games, in my opinion, is that the player can form attachments to things that aren’t scripted. Everything in a book or film has to be fed to the viewer in the hope that they buy into it and go along with your vision. In games, people may become attached to a guy because he has a higher damage output than the rest, or he’s always the last one standing in battle.

Turn based combat akin to that of Final Fantasy Tactics.

Turn based combat akin to that of Final Fantasy Tactics.

The challenge, but also the pleasure, is in giving the player a little bit a direction and letting them really identify with the characters on their own terms, instead of forcing them to. That’s pretty unique to games. Fire Emblem Awakening is an interesting example in which you have a huge cast of characters that can form relationships and even marry each other, which also gives them combat bonuses.

We aren’t going that far (it is the time of Ragnarok, after all), but I think it speaks to the player’s desire to create relationships, or be involved in them.

With a large cast, I also get to make a wide range of personalities and let the player decide who they like. The writer can’t always predict what’s going to click with the audience. Tali from Mass Effect, for example. I just don’t get her appeal, but what kind of author would say that her fans are wrong?

He2etic: As a gamer, are there any games you consider so good or so classic, they should be “mandatory playing”?

Alex: Heh, this is one of those questions where I either look like I’m just lazily reciting the popular choices or I look like a pretentious snob. Maybe I’ll try to do both!

Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way. Shadow of the Colossus was the first game to make me feel like games could elevate themselves above fun time-wasters. I’m not sure how well it would hold up for Kids These Days, it may have no impact at all if you didn’t play it in the right time and place.

Scene from Banner Saga Factions.

Scene from Banner Saga Factions.

I have huge nostalgia for the classic turn-based strategy games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Shining Force. The Walking Dead, more recently, really impressed me with just how tight the storytelling and pacing was, which are massively important to emotionally engage a player. I think it finally nailed interactive storytelling from a cinematic perspective.

And playing through Journey is a good litmus test to see whether you’re dead inside or not. I also liked L.A. Noire more than most, because of the startling realization that about half way through the game your character has a runaway story arc that almost revels in not giving a crap about the player’s silly power fantasies. And that’s wonderful.

Ok, how about some obscure recommendations for that elitist indie cred? I always say Mount & Blade is my favorite game of all time, and this is still true, even though it has no story at all. It’s still the best emergent gameplay and combat that I’ve experienced, even though I understand if it doesn’t click with everyone.

Recently two story-driven games called The Yawhg and Save the Date really impressed me. I tend to consider a game pretty damn good if I keep thinking about it after I’ve finished it. If you’re into storytelling you should play them. One of my favorite developers right now is Blendo Games. Everything he makes is awesome, especially Thirty Flights of Loving, and another one coming out soon called Quadrilateral Cowboy. Short stories in video game format, who knew you could that?

Thanks for the amazing interview Alex! Be sure to check out Banner Saga when it comes out later this year! In the mean time, check out Banner Saga Factions, the multiplayer component available on Steam!

For more, follow the @BLBolthole on Twitter for updates, articles and more. This blog’s art was crafted by Manuel Mesones, and you can check out his portfolio.

The Founding Fields and the Independent Book Blogger Awards

Hey guys, Shadowhawk here once again to do some plugging for the book review site that I contribute to, along with Lord of the Night and Bane of Kings.

Run by my friend Commissar Ploss, The Founding Fields is up for the Independent Book Blogger Awards, an awards system that is being hosted via Goodreads. We are entering in the “Adult Fiction” category. If people could take a little time and go vote for us, that’d be great! All you need is a Goodreads account (you can also sign in via Facebook or Twitter).

The link to our entry is:

http://www.goodreads.com/book_blogger_award/entry/64

We’ve had a lot of support from people here over the months and years the site has been live and we are asking for a bit more :-)

Thanks in advance to everybody who votes!

PS: You get 4 votes, 4 for each category that is up for grabs.

Heresy Cake, Batons and Drinking Games – Black Library Live! 2012

What a superb way to spend a weekend. This was my second year at Black Library Live! and if anything, 2012 was even better than 2011.

Arriving in Nottingham at 3PM on Friday, the sun was out so I took a leisurely stroll along the canal to Warhammer World.

The first person I saw was Sarah Cawkwell. Greetings were exchanged, and she showed me her Silver Skulls dreadnought – nicknamed “The Ramminator”. The weekend had officially begun!

The Ramminator!

I got lazy this year and didn’t bring any figures with me for the Friday gaming session and so after catching up with Jon, Frank, George and Ross (Schafer, Xisor, Maugan_Ra and Narrativium) I headed into the bar to grab a drink. And Mr William King came in and sat down next to me. Turns out he is a truly lovely man.

Packing List...

I lose track somewhat from there, but before too much time had passed we were all – and there were a lot of us – crammed into Bugman’s around the always-too-small tables chatting furiously about everything and everything.

Setting up on Friday

Special note at this point to Simon from the Bolthole – who arrived with his better half and a copy of the Horus Heresy card based boardgame from days of yore. Unfortunately we didn’t get time to finish playing it, mainly due to a collective failure to remember the rules, but it still took me straight back to days long forgotten.

All too soon Bugman’s was shutting up for the night and so it was back to the tatty splendour of the Riverside Travelodge – well actually the bar next door for a swift couple of beers – and bed.

Saturday dawned all too soon, and in a flash of inspiration madness we decided to walk to Warhammer World, via the beautiful Kings Lodge nature reserve. It was… soon forgotten as we queued up in the car park waiting for the doors to open. We got there about 8.25 and well, we weren’t the first people there. Nuff said.

Xisor and Schafer in queuing hilarity

At this point, Schafer owned up to being a lamb, and much fun was had at his expense. Then the doors swung opened on greased hinges and we swept into the Warhammer World in much the manner of an invading army. With less discipline.

The Massive Art that was later given away - it was sooo pretty!

However arriving super early did mean that we got the choice of the seminars to attend and got confronted with an amazing selection of books. I was fairly well disciplined, and only bought twice as many as I had intended to! The Black Library folks had gone looking under the sofa, and dug out some original copies of magazines like the Citadel Journal, and also there were a few copies of Inferno knocking around… I could have spent ALOT of money! They also had a massive selection of gorgeous art prints and posters which I was sorely tempted by.

Once I’d finished drooling and given over the hard cash, we got into Bugman’s for breakfast and tea. Mainly tea. And then it was time for the first seminar of the day “Writing for Black Library”

BIG News – the submissions system is being revamped – after last year saw Laurie Goulding literally drowning beneath 1800 submissions (of which only about 12 got accepted). This year will be the last year they accept novel submissions from “new” authors. Mainly because even authors who do get accepted via this route still are required to write short stories first, so they are simply going to cut to the chase and test people’s ability in that arena first.

The short story submissions are now going to be slimmed down to just a writing sample of between 500 and 1000 words. Again this seems to be based on their recent experiences – Laurie admits to always reading the writing sample first – and if that is of the required standard and style, he then looks at the synopsis. Ultimately, it appears they are looking for talent as they can help out with planning but they can’t teach people to write.

Anyway, if my rambling doesn’t help, all that information is going to be up on the Black Library website very soon. The submissions window opens on April 1st and closes on the 31st July, so you have plenty time to polish those ideas!

It was a really good seminar to start the day, and as ever, I felt a few ideas creeping in to the back of my brain.

Next was the Warhammer seminar – which I went to almost entirely on the basis that the four authors sitting on it – Bill King, Josh Reynolds, Sarah Cawkwell and Gav Thorpe are all entertaining and knowledgeable. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Bill, Josh, Sarah and Gav talk all things fantasy

After that, I got into the main hall, spied Ray Doherty on the art stand and caught up with what she was up to, and then got abit of signing done with Sarah Cawkwell and Rob Sanders – another genuinely lovely chap.

Rob Sanders - Ace!

The seminar on Xenos was next, but before that Schafer and I grabbed lunch. And by lunch I mean a piece of chocolate cake and a pint of Guinness – we know how to live!

The Xenos seminar was very interesting – I didn’t really know what to expect from it but we figured that would probably make it worthwhile. And it was. Andy Chambers and Rob Sanders had some pretty interesting things to say about the pros and cons of writing from the xenos perspective, which reminds me to get around to reading Path of the Renegade which sounds very, very cool.

From there we went back to the big hall to the Heresy Seminar – there was no big reveal like previous years, but as ever it was good to get the chance to fire off some questions at the authors and Christian Dunn, who did a surprisingly good job of not giving the game away. I did a bit of live tweeting during this seminar – mention of the Heresy cake, and the Heresy baton… you can tell it is an Olympic year! It was a good seminar though – I am only just about to start reading Mechanicum so I am a little bit behind, but it is reassuring to know that they are trying just as hard to keep the Heresy series as special as it was when it started.

After that, the new stuff/Q+A session with Christian, Laurie and Nick Kyme where they showed off some pretty cover art, and told us what was coming along – there are now going to be plenty of audio dramas – with one a month for the next few months at least. There is also a cool sounding novel in the works about a group of Imperial snipers trapped behind Tau lines, which I am pretty keen to read.

Christian and Laurie in the big reveal!

And to start a point I’ll get too later, someone asked how the editors enjoyed doing what they do for the Black Library – although it was slightly nauseating [sic] it was pretty cool to see just how much genuine enthusiasm they have for their job and for the products they are selling.

After that it was just time to have a look at the raffle-winners – BL gave away the massive pieces of gorgeous artwork that they had used to decorate the arena during the day. I didn’t enter, after I realised I had nowhere in my house to fit a seven foot poster of a Space Marine, but it was a nice gesture nevertheless.

I then collapsed into the welcoming softness of a Bugman’s bench, armed myself with a pint and spent the evening in arm-waving discourse with anyone who didn’t get out of the way in time, before propping up the bar in the pub next to the hotel, and then sometime later, collapsing into almost immediate sleep.

As with last year, I came away with a nice selection of books and a reignited enthusiasm for writing, and indeed all things Black Library. A lot of people say a lot of things about the Black Library, often on Facebook, but I’d advise anyone who is a fan to get hold of a ticket for next year’s Black Library Live! A nicer group of more enthusiastic people I have seldom met, and it was really nice to see a good percentage of the authors and editors hanging out in Bugman’s after the event, and really taking the time to just sit and have a beer with the fans and talk about whatever they wanted to talk about.

I had a blast, as you can tell, and whilst others may be able to give you a more thorough run down of the release schedule, and exactly what was said, I’m too busy figuring out how to fit Black Library Live! 2013 into my schedule!

Massive thanks at this point to everyone who came along from the Bolthole, and everyone from the Black Library who made the day so entertaining.

In no particular order, extra special thanks to Rob Sanders, Frank (Xisor), Christian Dunn, Sarah Cawkwell, Jeff and Kay Preston, Simon (Bod) and Serenita (sorry, probly spelt your name wrong), Gav Thorpe, Josh Reynolds, Jon Schafer, Ross O’Brien, Bill King, Raye Doherty, Ragnar Karlson, George (Maugan Ra), Ryan (MajorRawne), George Stirling, Marc Collins, Ben Cawkwell, Andy Chambers and loads more people who my tired brain is failing to remember!

Until next year!!

Simon (squiggle)

Black Library Live 2012

The countdown has begun folks. Starting tomorrow, and in some cases this evening itself, the Bolthole crew will begin to make its way towards Nottingham in ones and twos and threes and even fours and fives for the first official Black Library event of the year: Black Library Live, to be held on 3rd March.

Held annually at the Warhammer World GW mega-store in Nottingham, and currently in its fourth year, Black Library Live is a day-long seminar where fans can meet with their favourite authors and interact with them through Q&A sessions, various panels and book signings. This year is going to be a particularly awesome year since William King, author of the Gotrek & Felix novels for Warhammer Fantasy and the Ragnar novels for Warhammer 40,000 will be attending after a long break from all things Black Library. Additionally, this marks Sarah Cawkwell’s first year of attendance “on the other side” as she put it since she is attending as an author and not just as a fan. Several new authors have also joined Black Library since last year and many of its established authors have a great 2011 so the 2012 edition of the event is going to be big, Big, and BIG.

Authors in attendance:

  • William King
  • Graham McNeill
  • Sarah Cawkwell
  • Rob Sanders
  • Andy Chambers
  • John French
  • Andy Smillie
  • Josh Reynolds
  • Gav Thorpe
  • Nick Kyme
  • Aaron Dembski-Bowden *via the magic of the interwebz*

Artists in attendance:

  • Neil Roberts
  • Karl Richardson

Of course, being a Black Library event, it also means that fans will be able to pick up some of the latest releases as well as some upcoming titles.

  • Legion of the Damned by Rob Sanders
  • Knight of the Blazing Sun by Josh Reynolds
  • Path of the Renegade by Andy Chambers
  • Iron Warriors Omnibus by Graham McNeill
  • Know No Fear by Dan Abnett
  • The Primarchs by Various
  • Dead Winter by C. L. Werner
  • Void Stalker by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Eye of Vengeance by Graham McNeill
  • Gotrek & Felix Anthology by Various
  • Architect of Fate by Various
  • Phalanx by Ben Counter

And maybe more, which I’m really hoping for personally. We shall see on the day of. I’m personally hoping that Sarah Cawkwell’s Valkia the Bloody for Warhammer Fantasy and Chris Wraight’s Wrath of Iron for Warhammer 40,000 is also available. That would be just perfect. Bad for the wallet of course, but that goes with the territory.

As I mentioned, the Bolthole crew will be in full force, arriving as we are from all points of the compass: America, Austria, Scotland, all over England, Ireland, Dubai and so many other places. It is going to be quite an excitement weekend and the excitement is already running high on twitter. You can join in on the fun by using the hashtag #BLLive2012 which is what most of us are using. #BLL2012 is also being used although nowhere near as much. I suggest the former myself.

There will be a big Bolthole pre-event meetup on Friday in Bugman’s Bar, adjoining Warhammer World where there will be geekery and nerding out aplenty. Some of us will be engaging in some gaming as well, and even RPing with Fantasy Flight Games’ excellent RPGs so do come say hi and join in if you’d like. Tentative time: throughout the evening.

On the day itself, quite a few of us will be sporting special Bolthole T-shirts, because that’s just how awesome we all are. Don’t be intimidated if you spot one of the Bolthole packs around the seminar areas or in the signing queues or in the panels or what have you. We don’t bite but there are no guarantees of mischief and harmless fun not happening.

I am reliably told there will be a Bolthole BLL drinking game happening at some point. My sources say the timing is most likely to be after the event, but no hard decision has been made I don’t think.

I am also told that our friends over at The Founding Fields who are attending -Bane of Kings, EJ Daviesm Jeff Preston and myself- may be doing live-tweeting during the event. No confirmation there either I’m afraid but all the same, come over and say hi to them, if you can spot them.

That’s really it. Everyone here is excited and hopefully you are too. See you there!

EDIT: To quote dragon-overlord Tyrant “the drinking game is technically happening throughout the day, the actual drinking will probably be afterwards! “

Copies of the game sheet as below.

The Bolthole and You

We all come to the Bolthole for a variety of different reasons. Some of us come for one or two specific reasons, while others come because of the whole experience. So I thought it would be a great idea to really explore what some of these reasons are. Mind you, this is not an extensive list and is not meant to be, but I just want to highlight some of the key ones that I feel are the most important.

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