Castles in the Sky - Manticon '16
A castle perched on a rocky hillside. Morning mist curling past the towers, moving in lazy clouds across the patchwork fields and forest stretched below. A perfect silence, broken only by the breeze, already warming in the sun, and the sharp cry of a sparrow hawk circling above.
Below me, on the terrace, swords were flashing as two gallant warriors drilled their apprentices, practising their forms with agile dancing movements. The crunch of stone. I shifted my gaze to the approaching figure. He was moving with urgency, as if perhaps to announce some news of import – a visit by a royal dignitary perhaps, or maybe even word of an invading force. He fixed me with a steely stare, nodding in greeting. Then his narrow face broke into a wide grin.
‘My friend,’ he said, slapping me on the arm. ‘You want to play some more Zombicide this evening?’
At my castle venue for Manticon 2016, Heppenheim in Germany, it was easy to get carried away by the magnificence of the scenery and picture myself back in some medieval age – perhaps even Valeron itself, and the world of DestinyQuest. But of course, I wasn’t there to be the custodian of a remote castle fortress – I was there to talk DestinyQuest, meet fans, play games and – of course – drink a lot of German beer! Prost!
I was very honoured to have been invited to the four day event by Nic, who runs Mantikore – the publisher of my German translations. As previously mentioned, there was lots of gaming – from table-top board games like Zombicide, to role-playing and card games. I held a short workshop on gamebook writing, sharing my experience of all the things that can go wrong (and occasionally right!) when planning and editing a gamebook – and also held a Q&A session, talking about the DQ books and the game system (which will make it onto YouTube at some point).
It was also an honour to meet German gamebook authors, such as Jens Schumacher and Swen Harder (the latter's latest book, Metal Heroes, is even bigger than DestinyQuest!) and chat to fans about gaming in all its many and varied forms, from World of Warcraft to Fighting Fantasy.
I was made to feel very welcome by the German fans, who had enormous patience for someone who only knew a spattering of German words. I can’t say my German had improved much by the end of the event, but I had certainly made some very good friends.
There was also a brief meeting of some significance, that might bring that much mentioned ‘ray of light’ to the future of DestinyQuest – and books Four, Five and Six. I couldn’t think of a more fitting venue where the fate of DQ might be decided... and hopefully that beautiful vista I was looking out on was perhaps a hint that Valeron was returning.
Keep the faith!