Are you in the UK? Are you free on the 18th of March, 2017? I’m going to assume you like role-playing seeing as you’re here, so assuming you meet the previous two points then I’d say you should be considering coming to Concrete Cow 17! Concrete Cow runs every 6 months in Milton Keynes (that place with the roundabouts and the concrete cows), and it is essentially a day of role playing in great company. After my decade hiatus from role playing this was the convention that got me back into it the hobby, and where I first encountered the MK-RPG rabble.
The doors open at 9am at the Old Bath House in Wolverton and shut about 11pm; its a solid day where you can potentially play in 3 games. The games on offer are wide, covering everything from your standard dungeon crawls through to your dice-less tales, and its a great chance to explore some titles outside of your usual stable. The attendance usually sits at around the 45-50 mark (though the building gets significantly quieter in the evening), and a unique sign-up system keeps the game sign-up very balanced.
The Tombola System
In the earlier Concrete Cows, sign-ups were a messy event. The sign up sheets went out, people could have a look, then at 9:30 everyone would surge towards the tables and try get their names on the sheets. This system naturally favoured the larger and/or more aggressive gamer who was willing to barge their way to the table, and a lot of people were left frustrated as they couldn’t even get close to the games they wanted to play and in many cases people were getting physically crushed. Not pleasant.
The alternate solution pioneered by Neil Smith (the previous coordinator for Concrete Cow, recently stepping down and handing the responsibility to Amy Hewitt) works in a more respectable manner. When you buy your ticket (£5 for the whole day), you get a tombola ticket that has a number between 0 and 9 on it. A random sequence is generated with these numbers and called out 20 minutes before the game start time; when your number is called, you get to go up to the tables and put your name down on the game of your choice.
In the afternoon slot, the sequence is reversed (so if you were called last in the morning you get to go first in the afternoon), and for the evening due to the low numbers the normal sign up process is used. It makes for a far more relaxed atmosphere! As an added benefit, theres a thing called the Golden Ticket: if its your first time at Concrete Cow, you’re under 18, or you’re running at least one game that day then you get a Golden Ticket. This allows you to go first in the sign-ups once in the day, beating the crowd. It’s proven a great way to welcome newcomers as well as encourage people to offer games.
What Else Is Going On?
Aside from the day of gaming, there’s several traders in attendance:
- Leisure Games, bringing a wide range of stock.
- All Rolled Up, bringing their delightful ARUs.
- Square Hex, meeting your mapping needs (as well as your Black Hack fix!)
On top of that there is a cake sale and a raffle, with the proceeds going to Alzheimer’s Society (last year they raised £360!). The prizes for the raffle are donated kindly by attendees, traders, and gaming companies so you can expect to see things like game systems, the occasional ARU, gift vouchers etc.
All in all its a cracking day out where you can roleplay with some cool people! Its little wonder that people regularly make an appearance (with some traveling down from as far as Edinburgh, Scotland). I asked Amy why she thought this was:
Geographically we are in a great location. Milton Keynes is pretty central, just off the M1, and has excellent rail links to London, Birmingham, all the way to Glasgow in fact. It is also a bargain at £5 for the day. I think what keeps people returning year after year is the atmosphere. It is one of the friendliest conventions I have been to, and is always welcoming to attendees new and old. We have some excellent GMs who attend to run their games, and a great variety of systems and styles to choose from.
If you wish to learn more about Concrete Cow, or submit a game to run on the day, you can reach Amy through several channels:
- Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
- On UK Roleplayers – Username is Sedahren
- Via the Facebook CC page – https://www.facebook.com/Concrete-Cow-141753609254253/
The actual Facebook event for this day can be found here – we hope to see you there!