Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Roll Your Own Life (16) - There can be only one!

I'm getting a little ahead of myself with bringing up Conspiracy X. Let's rewind a bit to 1999.

We moved to Bournemouth. Wasn't a great idea, but it was one of those "If you don't try it, you'll never know and regret it the rest of your life" decisions. My lovely wife had an excellent job offer doing layout and design for cool video game magazines, and the move to the other side of the country seemed like a good idea.

We met some awesome people who we're still in touch with, and some awesome people we've lost contact with as well... but we just didn't really get on with the city. We knew it was a bad sign when the local council were encouraging people to come to the place by equating it with Ibiza.

Odeon Bournemouth
I got a job at the Odeon, and while it wasn't brilliant pay, the job was fun. I worked in the box office, on the food stand, and ushering in an ancient building that once saw the Beatles perform on stage, before being converted into a six screen cinema with an ominous collection of dark corridors, old dressing rooms and a deserted flat on the top floor that looked like something from The Blair Witch Project.

Initially, I was taken on to work just for the duration of the new Star Wars movie (Episode I: The Phantom Menace) as they knew it was going to be huge. I remember seeing it for the first time at the midnight test that the projectionist was doing to make sure the film worked and coming out at 2.30am feeling like I'd been punched in the gut. This is what they'd done to Star Wars? I loved Star Wars, and this was what they did to it?

The benefit of working at the cinema was getting to watch it many times, and after the eighth or ninth time I grew to love it. It's not a great film, but my favourite out of the prequels. I do find Episodes 2 and 3 almost painful to watch sometimes.

But the cinema also showed me films I would never have normally seen... Fight Club was certainly one of them. I had no interest in Fight Club. The posters just looked like a dull film about bare-knuckle boxing. Not my sort of thing. But ushering meant I got to see the first ten minutes... and I was hooked. I saw it as many times as I could, and read the book, and until Inception came along it was my all-time favourite movie.

However, the town lived up to its publicity, and I remember coming home after the midnight screenings of the Exorcist and Texas Chainsaw Massacre had emptied, in the cabs the Odeon had laid on for the staff. As we turned the corner, there were crowds of drunken revellers pouring out of a nightclub, swarming around a police riot van, rocking it and trying to tip it over like a mass of zombies.

That was one of the defining moments that told us we should move.

But that's not the reason for the post.

All Flesh Must Be Eaten, 1st Edition Core Rulebook
There was a cool comics/roleplaying games shop on one of the roundabouts that we passed every morning and evening on the way to and from our works. Going my Google's street view it doesn't seem to be there any more, which is a shame, but they had some really cool RPGs in there. While I didn't have a game group in Bournemouth, I did pop in every week or so to see if there was anything cool in there.

It was then that something caught my eye. A game book smaller than the others on the shelves, with a rather gross colour scheme that looked a bit like brains. The game was "All Flesh Must Be Eaten", and I picked it up purely out of a strange fascination with the cover more than anything else. Maybe it was the same thing that drove me to buy Kult all those years before...

All Flesh Must Be Eaten was cool. A really good, simple system (Unisystem) where one roll was used for everything. There was none of this "The rule for jumping is this, but you roll different dice for an attack or use a different formula for using magic". Unisystem - one rule for everything. The problem was, I didn't have a gaming group, and I didn't think they wanted to play zombie survival horror.

While AFMBE was cool, I was drawn to the artwork in the back in the adverts. It was CJ Carella's WitchCraft. A gorgeous piece of artwork that meant I had to go back to that game shop and order WitchCraft the following week.
WitchCraft, 2nd Edition cover.

WitchCraft was awesome. Still is, and it wasn't long before I decided Unisystem would be my system of choice now, and promptly started converting those Kult characters (formerly World of Darkness characters) over to WitchCraft.

I'll stop rambling about my time in Bournemouth and continue the history at another time. Meanwhile, you can see just what I was so enthralled about by downloading the WitchCraft core rulebook here, legally, for free! Give it a look if you haven't before. It's rather fab.

Until next time, stay multi-classy!

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