Chicago – and the Adepticon experience within it – doesn’t translate well into a retelling. That’s why I’ve struggled so much to write this update.
People ask me if we went to see the bright lights of the big city, and the answer is no.
People ask me if we took loads of photos, and the answer is no.
People ask me if we brought back loads of souvenirs from the States, and again, the answer is no.
With disbelief straining their faces, people ask if we even left the hotel, and the answer to that is “Yeah, of course, but not that much.”
For me, Adepticon in Chicago was something of a landmark moment, and one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. The con itself eclipsed my preconceptions by a huge degree, with some serious crowds taking up the entire mass of the huge-ass hotel. I can see why so many gamers in the States flock there; it’s a nexus of tabletop carnage over 3 official days (and 1.5 unofficial ones), and the atmosphere was absolutely unrivaled. You’ve got conference room after conference room reserved for different games, packed with tables, and the aura is a clashing mix of laughter, clattering dice and cheap beer. I admit, before I went, I was expecting a humble little boredom storm in the ass end of nowhere, but it was absolutely fucking killer.
If I’m lucky enough to get invited again, I’m taking an army with me, so I can get some late night games in. Gaming at 2am in a decent hotel, beer in hand and sneer in place, is the only stylish way to destroy one’s enemies.
I’d planned to try and hang out with Hank and Bill, the Adepticon overseers, but that didn’t pan out – I spent my time either signing things, drinking things, or talking to people about things. I did get a cracking story from Hank about Graham McNeill getting wasted with them when he came over last time. I could tell it was the truth, because he mentioned the words Graham and Drinking in the same sentence. Only people that know him would make such an intuitive connection, cutting right to the core of his highlandish character.
Let’s break the weekend down into quantifiable parts:
- Uncle Vince
Black Library’s American uberlord is Vince Rospond – a man I was greatly afeared of meeting. Is “afeared” actually a word? I thought it was, and I just used it there to be funny, but the auto spellcheck thing is red-lining it and calling me a retard. No matter. Let’s press on.
Vince wasn’t the slick, pony-tailed badass biker that I was expecting. (Which is good, because I already have Jim Swallow in my life for that. The quota is filled, the threshold is reached.)
In fact, I think in one of the interviews I did, I called him The World’s Nicest Maths Teacher, which sounds like an insult in the glories of hindsight, but wasn’t meant to be. Something that always defies the stereotype in the States is that once you’re past Immigration, everyone is always really, really nice, rather than the impolite Jesus-junkies you expect them to be from watching the news.
Vince exemplified this Transatlantic benevolence. Three minutes into meeting him, I wanted him to adopt me as some kind of hopeless, wayward nephew. In this family-morphing scenario, I’d know him as Uncle Vince, and whenever I was in trouble, I’d go to my Uncle Vince and he’d be nice and American at me, making it all better. I recall vaguely imagining this, while he talked professional for a while.
Over the course of the weekend, he variously put up with me a) needing naps; b) calling people cunts as I signed their books; c) drinking my bodyweight in coffee every hour; and d) asking about my American sales figures every sixteen seconds. (Very good, by the way. Go team.)
He was also one of those guys who has a story for every occasion, and as I’m the avataric embodiment of a socially-stunted hermit loathing everyone else in the world, I found that quite endearing.
Suffice to say, me and Katie left the States actually missing Vince, which was a good sign that his international niceness worked. I remain unadopted on the nephew scale, though. This displeases me immensely.
- Interview Stuff
I did two podcast interviews, one for The Gamer’s Lounge, and one for 40K Radio. Usually, I hate doing these things without any prep time, but I think they went okay. I’ll do linkies to them soon.
The thing I recall most was realising this was the very best time to pimp myself to the masses, and instead focusing on how great I think Dan Abnett is. I don’t regret that; it was time well spent.
The first was with Gamer’s Lounge, and although I only knew Bill and Jay from email, I was fairly confident they were decent enough human beings not to make me look like a tool. It went well, though during my “Jesus, I didn’t get any sleep and I’m totally hungover” nap, the two infidels pounced on Katie in my absence. She did an interview herself, which I’m sure she’ll link to at some point soon. If she doesn’t, I will.
It was around this time that someone (Nathan, I think) managed to get Katie into Blood Bowl. Oh, hell yes.
- Soul Hunter
Although we sold out of Helsreach in the first few hours (Fuck yes), the thing I ended up signing by a ratio of about 5-to-1 was Soul Hunter. And not new copies, either. For the first time, I was confronted by people who’d already read my work, and were bringing me the book to sign. I’ve said before that the reception for the book has bordered on the “unbelievably, insanely positive” and that bore true in real life, rather than simply remaining on the aetheric waves of the internet. It would’ve been more awesome had it not been so surreal.
The sheer number of people saying they’re converting armies based on the novel is humbling and hamster-crushingly rad, too. That’ll be easier with a few more distinct groups, which’ll show up in Blood Reaver.
I even got to cross paths with a few guys I’d talked to on various forums (mostly Bolter & Chainsword – hi Dan’s friend Josh), but the first and foremost has to be David, from Heresy Online. David is 7 feet tall, and has stories about being bayonetted by a friend; shot in the chest at an ATM; and throwing people out of windows into ponds. I was surprised he turned out to be my kind of person, because from that description, he sounds like a right twat.
We discussed the week’s important matters, such as the possibility of making a fitness video for the new century’s lazier breed of man: “For maximum ease with minimum results”. This, I knew, was time invested in the right way. To hell with acting as an ambassador for the Black Library. I had Vince and Katie for that. My focus was on higher, more spiritual matters, like how gay the Rainbow Warrior Space Marines are.
- 40K Radio
We spent a significant portion of the weekend drunk (or hungover) with the guys from 40K Radio. Vince had pre-warned me that I’d be doing an interview with them, and it was probably the thing I was most worried about before we touched down in the States. I’ve been listening to the show for months, so I felt like I kinda knew how it was going to unfold, but I also knew how many thousands of people listened to it… so…
Funnily enough, the one guy from the show I was most confident about meeting, Scott, didn’t make it, because he’s just had a son. But I knew from hearing him talk on the show that he liked Soul Hunter, so I figured I was on pretty solid ground there. I was also dying to take the piss out of his “Tau-riffic” catchphrase. My God, man. Stop saying that, I beg you.
So when he didn’t show up, the word “…fuck” slid around behind my eyes more than a few times.
Spencer and Chipley showed, though. One of the things I knew from the show was that these two are doing the job I wanted to do: they’re paramedics. So that was neat. I stole some ideas off them (and Nathan too, who’s a nurse), regarding resuscitation. If we’re being absolutely honest, Spencer spent all of Saturday in bed, annihilated from Friday night’s 5:30am drink-fest. But he did drink more than most of us, so I went light on the pisstaking the next day.
I enjoyed doing the interview, though it was surreal as hell to be sat in front of them, rather than listening at my desk. Though, a side benefit to actually being a fan of the show meant I recognised Spencer’s voice in the hotel lobby, despite not knowing what he looked like.
I didn’t get to say bye to them – Katie and I spent most of Monday in a state of post-con collapse – which was a shame. But they mentioned maybe heading over to Games Day UK, which would be fucking awesome. Uncle Vince threatened to do it, too.
Which reminds me: I’ll pace myself at the Games Day after-party next time, rather than drink everything in 3 hours and try to keep up with that barbarian McNeill. Some wars cannot be won.
tl;dr — Thanks for letting us come over, Hank. Adepticon was fucking amazing.