Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Legendary Locations: San Francisco's Cisterns

Sometimes the most remarkable things are hidden in plain sight, none more so than the network of 177 cisterns which mark the intersections of the streets of San Francisco.  The site of each cistern is marked by a red brick circle with an outside diameter of 33 feet, the center of which contains a manhole cover marked simply with the letters "SFFD CISTERN". 

3107 Van Ness Avenue - Googlemaps
Largely built in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake and fire which devastated the city, the cisterns are brick or concrete tanks capable of holding between 75,000 and 200,000 gallons of water.  The 23 cisterns which were used during the fire were very effective, and in the decades after, another 100 cisterns were added to the system. 

The San Francisco fire of 1906 which ravaged the city

Broadway and Van Ness - Googlemaps
Alma St. and Cole - Googlemaps
When I first saw them they reminded me of the scene from War of The Worlds, where the tripod lifts a section of the street out like a plug as it emerges.

Unfortunately I couldn't find any pictures of the insides of the cisterns, and I'm sure that they're not as impressive as the Basillica Cistern in Istanbul, Turkey. 
Basillica Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey
But I'll leave the rest up to your imagination, after all, it might not just be water down there...

Thanks go to +VM Brasseur for the the link to Daniel M Russel's article Search Answer: What, Why, and Where are These Stone Circles?

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Moviewatch: looking forward to 2013

Watching movies is one of my great passions and a huge inspiration for my RPG plotlines.  It's rare that a movie is entirely useless from a DM's perspective (except maybe Battleship) and I often find myself tearing a bad film apart just to reuse it's kernel in a plot of my own.  So without further ado, and with January nearly over,  here's my list of movies that I'm looking forward to seeing in 2013.

JANUARY
  •  Storage 24 - Noel Clarke (aka Micky from Doctor Who) co-wrote and stars in this sci-fi horror set in a storage center.  I doubt if it will eclipse the excellent Attack The Block, but it's a great set-up for a modern day RPG so there should be loads of plot hook material ripe for the picking.

  • Hansel & Gretel: Witchhunters - Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton star as the grown up Brothers Grimm characters who have become globetrotting bounty hunters specialising in the supernatural.

  • John Dies at the End - Don Coscarelli directs what can only be described as a slack-stone-horror wherin two college drop outs encounter the mind bending, time traveling drug soy-sauce.  Check out Don's awesome anti-piracy trailer for a taste of what I mean.

FEBRUARY
  • Escape from Planet Earth - Brendan Fraser and Rob Corddry star in this animated interplanetary escape movie.  Fun for the little ones I think.

MARCH
  • OZ: The Great and Powerful - James Franco stars as Kansas con-artist and stage magician Oscar (Oz), transported to the land of the munchkins in this movie derived from the Frank L Baum classic.  Trailer looks sumptuous, and although I do think that The Land of Oz necessarily needs another movie, having a prequel told from a perspective other than that of Dorothy is probably the way to go.  One question remains though; What was the Land of Oz called before the wizard arrived?
     
  • GI Joe: Retaliation - Channing Tatum reprises his role as Duke, accompanied by Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson, Ray Stevenson and a host of others in this oft rescheduled sequel.  I expect to see lost of silly action sequences and ridiculous gadgets as the Joe's face off against their Cobra nemesis, Vartan (Arnold Vosloo).
       
  • The Host - Saorsie Ronan (Hanna) stars as Melanie Stryder who becomes the unwitting host to an alien soul.  Based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer (Twiligiht) this has equal chance of being great or awful, but I expect my 14 year old stepdaughter will demand to see it.  
APRIL
  •  Oblivion - Tom Cruise stars as a Jack Harper, a drone repairman stationed on an Earth devastated by an apocalyptic war with aliens.  Everything he knows about the war is challenged when he discovers the contents of a crashed spaceship.  From what I've seen so far the visual style is a contrast of futuristic white apple product design against a backdrop of bleak desolation, nice...  
MAY
  • Iron Man 3 - More of the same in the third outing for Robert Downey Jr.'s wisecracking billionaire tech genius philanthropist Tony Stark.  Is anyone tired of this yet? thought not...
  • About Time - Richard Curtis (4 Weddings and a Funeral) writes and directs this tale of Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), a young man who can travel through time.  The set up is a bit groundhog day/50 first dates, so one for the ladies,me thinks.  Although my lady prefers movies with a lot of shooting, car crashes and arms and legs flying eveywhere, ah well.

  • Star Trek: Into Darkness - Is it Khan? I don't care, I just want to see Karl Urban, Simon Pegg and Anton Yelchin reprise their roles as Bones, Scotty and Chekov.

  • The Purge - In a dark future USA, prisons are overcrowded and the government instigates a series of 12 hour prosecution free periods in which all illegal activity is made legal.  Lena Headey (Dredd, Game of Thrones) and Ethan Hawke star as parents trying to protect their family from a home invasion.  
JUNE
  • After Earth - M Night Shymalan directs and Will and Jaden Smith star as father and son Cypher and Kitai, whose spaceship crashlands on a hostile future Earth leaving Kitai to try to reach a distress beacon and send for help to save his father.  Will it be any good, probably not but it will do reasonably well at the box office and perhaps there will be a Shymalanian plot twist at the end...
  • Man of Steel - Much hyped attempt to reboot the superman franchise again.  Henry Cavill stars as Superman, Russell Crowe as his father Jor-El and Michael Shannon fresh from his bad-cop role in Premium Rush plays General Zod.
     
  • Monsters University - Twelve years after Disney/Pixar released Monsters Inc, John Goodman and Billy crystal are reunited as the hairy scary odd couple Sully and Mike, in this prequel set during their time at the University of Fear.  Expect laughs, "Mild Peril" and fun for all ages.
     
  • World War Z - Much hyped visualisation of Max Brooks novel starring Brad Pitt as UN employee Gerry Lane as he travels the world trying to prevent the zombie apocalypse.
     
  • Kick Ass 2: Balls to the Wall - Aaron Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz return as lycra clad superteens "Kick-Ass" and "Hit Girl" in the eagerly awaited sequel to John Romita Jr.'s awesome comic book.  Guest stars include Jim Carey as "Colonel Stars and Stripes" and Christopher Mintz-Plasse whose "Red Mist" character has become "The Mother Fucker".  Can't wait till this comes out it should be awesome.
JULY
  • Despicable Me 2 - A sequel to the 2010 hit animation starring Steve Carrell as Gru assisted by the voice talents of Al Pacino, Russell Brand and Steve Coogan to name but a few.  Expect it to be slick and full of laughs for all the family.
  • Pacific Rim - Guillermo Del Toro's eagerly anticipated Kaiju movie starring Charlie Hunnan (Sons of Anarchy) and Idris Elba (Prometheus) as they defend the earth from giant monsters in their equally giant robots.  Awesome trailer and should prove to be at worst an hors d'ouvre for more giant monstrosities in the Godzilla movie slated for 2014. 



  • The Wolverine - Hugh Jackman is back as the eponymous adamantium clawed hero in this rendition of the Silver Samurai storyline.
AUGUST
  • 300: Rise of an Empire - Frank Miller and Kurt Johnstadt reunite for this sequal directed by Noam Murro.  A cast of relative unknowns are all that stand between Xerxes and his ultimate goal conquering ancient Greece.
  • RED 2 - Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and John Malkovitch reunite as the Retired and Extremely Dangerous spies in a new adventure.  Expect ridiculous levels of action and dead pan laughs as the gang try to outwit the badguys out to retire them for good.  I am particularly looking forward to seeing David Thewlis as "The Frog" (Best character name I've heard in ages).

  • Elysium - Matt Damon Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley star in this Neill Blomkamp tale of a dystopian future set on a ravaged Earth populated by the destitute ruled over by a wealthy elite from their orbital spacestation.
  • Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters - Chris Columbus returns to direct a second Percy Jackson adventure based on the mythical childrens novels of Rick Riordan.  I absolutely loved the first movie, it was witty, intelligent, fun and action packed with a smattering of greek mythology to keep the parents happy.  Infinitely preferable to that derivative magical boarding school drivel the english teachers were happy to let kids suck up so greedily during the noughties.
SEPTEMBER
  • Riddick - Vin Diesel returns to the role that made him famous.  Our eponymous anti-hero is left for dead on a killer alien planet only to be beset on all sides by bounty hunters predatory aliens and his old enemy Necromunger Commander Vaako (Karl Urban).

  • I, Frankenstein - Aaron Eckhart plays the monster trapped between two warring clans of supernatural immortals.  Based on the Dark Horse comic book of the same name, this sounds like another go at the Underworld / Blade horror-action subgenre, perhaps Bill Nighy's villain will lift this movie out of obscurity.
  • Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers - A sequel to the highly entertaining kids animation Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. 
OCTOBER
  • Sin City: A Dame to Kill For - Robert Rodriguex is back directing Frank Miller's dark vision of a crime riddled city in it's spectacular "comic noir" style.  Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson and Clive Owen all return, so expect dark, dark things and plenty of graphic blood spattered violence.  BTW has anyone written a Sin City Fiasco playset by any chance?
  • The World's End - Edgar Wright directs Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in the last of the "Cornetto" trilogies.  Five friends reunite after 20 years to relive their epic pub crawl and unwittingly save mankind.  Stellar cast of British actors including Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine should ensure this movies success.
NOVEMBER
  • Ender's Game - Fans of Orson Scott Card's epic Sci-fi series have been patiently waiting for someone to step up to the plate and make the first movie of the saga.  Talentented young actor Asa Butterfield (Hugo) stars as Ender Wiggins, recruited to battle school in  preparation to defend humanity from impending invasion by a vastly superior alien race.  Can he even survive the training?
     
  • Thor: Dark World - Chris Hemsworth returns as the norse superhero battling the forces of the evil dark elves in this post Avengers Assemble sequel.
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Second installment of the Suzzane Collins trilogy where Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are once again forced into the Hunger Games whilst their world descends into revolution and chaos
DECEMBER
NO DATE AS YET
  • Frankensteins' Army - In the last days of World War II, Russian troops stumble upon one of the Nazi's most terrible secret weapon projects... An army of re-animated Frankensoldiers.
  • Snowpiercer - Chris Evans and Jamie Bell star in this post apocalyptic sci-fi movie of survivors aboard a train. 
  • Machete Kills - Danny Trejo returns as Robert Rodriguez's taciturn mexican vigilante in this no-holds barred grindhouse action thriller. This time he's joined by Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen.  Another outing for Machete is also planned with the ludicrously titled Machete Kills Again... In Space!
STILL WAITING FOR...

War of The Worlds: Goliath - Animated steampunk movie sequel to HG Well's War of the Worlds produced in association with Heavy Metal Magazine.  This one has been threatening to come out for a while, hope it doesn't turn into vapourware.

Monday, 21 January 2013

On The Workbench: Ral Partha Oni & Ogre Mage

Doing some tidying up round the house,  I uncovered one of my old painting toolboxes which had some really proper old school minis it it, one of which was this old part painted Ral Partha Oni from their "Bushido" range, (specifically a two mini blister pack 53-908).

Ral Parth Oni (53-908b)
Ral Partha Oni 53-908b
I've always loved the strangeness of oriental mythology and in particular I'm a big fan of the TV series "Monkey", a version of Wu Cheng En's 16th Century novel "Into the West", so I thought I'd have a go at rescuing this one from obscurity.

Oni are evil spirits, typically depicted in traditional Japanese folkart as Demons or Ogres, and share some of the etymology of other buddhist myths such as the Chinese Gaki (Hungry Ghosts) and Indian Rakshasa (evil tiger headed humanoids) and are often depicted wearing a tiger-skin loincloth.  Japanese parents sometimes say "oya ni ninu ko wa oni no ko" which means literally "a child that does not resemble its parents is the child of an oni"

Continuing the oriental theme, I've also dug out a Ral Partha Ogre Mage from their AD&D Monsters collection (specifically blister RP-11-405).

Ral Partha Ogre Mage (RP 11-405)
This is a beautiful sculpt, but struggling to understanding it's complex clothing has prevented me from ever painting it.  So I did a bit of research (see the pinterest board) and have come to the conclusion that, it's actually quite simple.  The base layer (red) is a pair of leather studded Kote arm bracers overwhich is worn a full length sleeveless Haori Kimono (blue).  The confusion arises from the addition of the Hakama trouser skirt (yellow) which has deep vents in the sides allowing the wearer to access the underlying kimono's pockets (or whatever passes for pockets).
Ogre Mage (clothing deciphered)
Before anyone comments, I know I've painted the ogre mage's face red and it should be blue, I'm going for the red oni look on this one.  Incidentally, I've mounted this to a 40mm Battlefield Debris resin base from ebay store Foundations of War.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

On the Workbench: Ral Partha Djinn & Efreet Pt 3

Finally found some time to finish off the Djinn and Efreet miniatures and I'm pretty pleased with the results.  This is by far the best paintjob that these two minis have ever had and I think this will be it for them. 

Ral Partha DjinnRal Partha Djinn
Previous parts to this series are available at:

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A to Z of UK RPG in the 80s: L is for Large Box Games

The 80s was synonymous with excess, in business, there was large hair, shoulder pads and phones and in the games industry there were large box games.  One of the biggest exponents of this were Games Workshop who suddenly went from publishing bookshelf sized boardgames to making huge boxes full of tons of plastic miniatures.  As you can see in the photo below these things were larger in every dimension and made sure that GW games dominated over their rivals for valuable gamestore shelf space.

Large Box game vs Bookshelf sized game - a storage nightmare
Adeptus Titanicus (1988)

Released in 1988, Adeptus Titanicus, introduced the EPIC 6mm scale to the Warhammer 40K world.  It allowed you to create massive micro-armour legions of Space Marines, Eldar, Orks and Chaos and have them fight it out in traditional miniature wargaming style. 


The big selling point to the game were the ridiculously huge multi-part plastic Titans which dwarfed all the other units on the battlefield.  Each came with a compliment of plastic weapons which you attached to various hardpoints on the miniature allowing a degree of customisation and damage was tracked with a innovation rotating base dial, precursing Heroclix by some years.  Some neat expanded polystyrene apartment block structures were included in attempt to create some line of sight blocking terrain but these were largely redundant.

Like many of the big box games it came badged with the "3D Roleplay" logo, but there were no roleplay elements in it, nor did it have the finessed boardgame play of the vastly superior Battletech.

Dark Future (1988)

I'd always been a fan of the Mad Max movies and Steve Jackson Car Wars game, so when GW announced that their future release Dark Future was an attempt to upscale the action to 1/72nd "matchbox" scale, I snapped it up.


The theory was that in the post apocalyptic "Dark Future", vehicular highway battles between the corporate good guys driving sleek "Interceptors" and the highway outlaws driving makeshift "Renegade" buggies would be a daily occurrence.  The game included 2 cars of each variety which you could customise by adding an array of plastic weapons to the models built in hardpoints, in a similar style to Adeptus Titanicus.  The rest of the game game was essentially a series of cardboard curves, straights, tokens and some bikes. 

My recollections of the game was that it was a bit of a drag, mostly due to the phase system which although shorter than Car Wars, was still ponderous.  This is something I will be reacquainting myself with in the very near future, thanks to ebay, as I try to find the perfect blend of rules for my post apocalyptic road-racing game project.

Bloodbowl 2nd Edition (1988)

A large box was always going to be necessary to contain the huge three part expanded polystyrene "Astrogranite" playfield and clutch of plastic ork and human player miniatures.  This was a vast improvement on the jigsaw style board and cardboard standees of the original bookshelf game published two years earlier.



This for me was the definitive version of Blood Bowl and the enhanced rules, artwork and backstory turned an interresting game into an exciting game.  Simple things like the transparent plastic throwing ruler and the cardboard endzone inserts displaying your team name lifted the The low cost of putting together a team of maybe a dozen or so starplayers in addition to your plastic blockers compared to that of most other miniature games was a pretty attractive selling point for cash strapped gamers like myself.  Just blogging about it makes me want to play it.  I'm sure I have a Dwarven Deathroller miniature around here somewhere...

Advanced Heroquest (1989)

In 1989 Milton Bradley (in collaboration with Games Workshop) released the dungeon crawl boardgame Heroquest.  It was very successful and Games Workshop almost simultaneously released an advanced version. 


This version eschewed the traditional folded board for a modular jigsaw style collection of rooms and corridors which you could connect together in different layouts as you progressed through the various scenarios.  A serviceable set of plastic hero and monster miniatures were included with all the stats necessary to play out your own little dungeon adventure game. 

As can be seen from the box art the now familiar "3D Roleplay" is present and for the first time, GW actually delivered a game with a strong roleplay element to it.  Also featured is the "Solo Play" logo which meant that lone gamers could enjoy the Warhammer Fantasy universe as well.  The rules were also a significant step up from the original and allowed simple character progression and monsters were backwards compatible with the MB Boardgame.

Space Hulk (1989)

Set in the Wharhammer 40K universe, Space Hulk pits space marines in "Terminator" armour against a new enemy, the Genestealers, as they explored massive derelict spaceships.


Essentially a sci-fi version of Heroquest with very well executed and very repurposeable jigsaw floortiles.  The miniatures were made of the same brittle type of plastic used in Adeptus Titanicus and Dark Future rather than the slightly more flexible stuff used for minis in Advanced Heroquest and were adequate sculpts.  The game however was slick, fun and immensely challenging.

I like many of my age, I'm sure, totally raided my copy for sci-fi floorplans and the minis which ended up in other boxes never to be seen again.  Ebay, to the rescue perhaps...

Monday, 7 January 2013

On the Workbench: Ral Partha Djinn & Efreet Pt 2

A while back I posted some photos of a couple of old Ral Partha D&D miniatures that had made their way on to the workbench.  Sadly I managed to break the Efreet's scimitar in half, either because I'm immensely strong/ham-fisted or more likely because tin/lead alloy becomes quite brittle with age.

Well I'm glad to say he's on the mend as I cobbled together a new sword out of an old credit card and some wire from a mousetrap (who would've thunk it).

Efreet with new plastic sword of +5 Elemental Awesomeness
I know the sword is a bit on the ridiculous size, but what the heck if he's an Elemental and so's his sword!!  It also reminds me a lot of Voss's character mini (Magmar Teufel Schlager) in the RPG romcom Unicorn City.  Which incidentally is currently playing on Netflix.

Magmar Teufel Schlager (please correct me if I got this wrong)

Tune in later for an update on the painting of both the Djinn and Efreet miniatures.

Friday, 4 January 2013

2012 Movies

Last year I posted my movie list for 2013 for the first time and I did get round to seeing the majority of them.   

THE HIGHLIGHTS

Underworld Awakening - A welcome update and return to form for the Underworld franchise after a frankly pitiful 3rd film.  I really do like Len Wiseman's dark modern world view of the eternal struggle between the warring clans of Vampires and Werewolves and his missus, Kate Beckinsale, always puts on a good show as the lycra clad Selene.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - Despite the cast this was a nicely put together amalgum of Vernian adventure, far superior in my view than a lot of the turgid TV movies we've had over the last few years.  It reminded me of those happy Sunday afternoons I spent watching Doug McClure battling prehistoric monsters in The Land that Time Forgot and Lionel Jeffries in his bid to become The First Men in the Moon.

John Carter
- An awesome film let down by a terrible PR campaign making it the biggest box office flop of the year (until Battleship).  If you haven't seen this movie, buy the DVD you will not be disappointed.  Andrew Stanton really deserves credit for bringing Edgar Rice Burroughs hero to a new generation in such an epic way.

John Carter fights two Barsoomian white apes
John Carter fights two Barsoomian white apes

Iron Sky - The hype which preceded this Sci-Fi Nazi comedy was too much for the film to live up to in the end, but there were some really great visual and comedic moments.  How many films have ever seen which feature gigantic space zeppelins discourging Nazi UFOs?

Looper - A really enjoyable dystopian sci-fi movie and probably my favourite film of year, not perfect by any means but a neat idea well executed.  The star of the film had to be Pierce Gagnon who played the supercute but scary Cid and totally stole the show from Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt whenever he appeared on screen.  I loved the cobbled together tech vision of the near future in particular the café racer inspired jet engined hover bikes.

THE LOWLIGHTS

Prometheus - Ridley Scott's confused Alien prequel (or is it?) could not live up to expectations and I suspect that he shot an amazing film but it just ended up on the cutting room floor.  It was beautiful in every respect other than story so let's hope Prometheus 2 explains what the hell is going on.

Dredd - Although I loved the grim gritty reality of Dredd's interiors, it just failed abysmally to capture the Mega-City I know and love, t was just so flat and 2 dimensional.  Where was the hover  traffic, the suspended train line or the high-level megways which bind the blocks together?  I appreciate that this was most likely a plot device, let's face it you can hardly trap Dredd in a tower block if you have ready access to H-wagons.  It's what results when you rehash the basic premise of the vastly superior Gareth Evans directed martial-arts movie The Raid: Redemption.

Don't get me wrong it's not entirely worthless, it just wasn't as visually rewarding as I expected... damn you expectations!

Total Recall - Although it was a smörgåsbord of cyberpunk visual effects,  the rehashed storyline was a confused mess stemming from the brave but flawed decision to set it on Earth.  For example, if you had the technology to build an advanced security android why would you then bus thousands of migrant workers through the center of the Earth every day as a sweat-shop labor force to assemble them?  Would you not just have machines which made them?  To then ship them back to the other side of the planet as an invasion force, it just didn't make any sense. 

All human history points towards conquest being driven by the avaliability and exploitation of natural resources.  I'm sure if any of the bean counters had gotten wind of Cohaagen's plan they would have just told him to offshore production to the Colony ready for the invasion at a later date. 

Eclipsing the 90's Paul Verhoeven version was always going to be a tall order, and the film contains some excellent and worthwhile homages, but in this version you never got the feeling that you knew which version of reality Quaid/Hauser was experiencing.      

THE SLEEPERS

There were a few movies I caught this year whose PR managed to totally evaded my consciousness but I enjoyed enough to recommend:

Cockneys vs Zombies - An ensemble cast kicking zombie butt in London's East End and perfect inspiration for a game of Fiasco using the cockney London.

Grabbers - An Irish monster movie in the style of Tremors for which I wrote an earlier more in-depth post.

Headhunters - A gritty Norwegian crime thriller originally penned by Jo Nesbo with more twists in it than a pair of iphone headphones.  Like 2009's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo it has some brief nausea inducing moments in it that are not recommended for those with weak stomachs but the cast, including the very talented Aksel Hennie and Game of Thrones star Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, are convincing giving you a real sense of jeopardy throughout.

Aksel Hennie gets trapped in the privy in Headhunters
 

Coming soon... The 2013 Movie List






  



Thursday, 3 January 2013

2012 in Review and Some New Years Resolutions

Happy New Year to one and all. 

It's been a while since my last post here and I'd love to say it's because I've been busy creating new and interesting stuff or that my personal life has been one hectic social engagement after another, but I can't.  So in the spirit of New Year I intend to make some changes round here, but first we need to review 2012.

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In 2012 I wrote a total of 45 posts (which is pitiful really), and half that of 2011.  Some of this I put down to the shift in my viewing/posting habits from blogs to Google+, but to be honest I've just been so distracted.  New Years Resolution #1  is to go back to Writing at least 2 posts a week.

RGP Logo
Roleplay Geek Publishing 

I managed to publish only 1 additional product this year, bringing the catalogue to a total of 8 products.  In order of popularity these are:
Therefore New Years Resolution #2 is to get some of the things I've been working on out of the pending tray and into the catalogue.
 
Google+

Has become one of the most important sources of gamer news for me over the last 12 months and I see this continuing for the forseeable future.  The addition of communities has also seen an explosion of new contacts in the last few months and has resulted my eye being off the blogosphere.  New Years Resolution #3 is therefore to get my digital channels into some sort of order. 

Gaming Highlights

Fiasco
This years Dragonmeet was my only convention, and I've never seen it so busy.  I don't know if this marks a resurgence in interest in RPGs in the UK or as a reaction to the current economic slowdown, but you could barely move in the tradehalls.  It did give me the chance to play Fiasco for the first time and I absolutely loved it, rushing straight down to the trade hall to snap up my copy.  A big thanks to Fiasco's designer Jason Morningstar and the rest of the Google+ Fiasco community for making this my RPG of the year. 

I first saw Fiasco on Wil Wheaton's excellent boardgaming web TV show Tabletop which has become de rigueur viewing over the last 12 months.  If you like boardgames and haven't seen the show, you're missing out.  If there are any Game Publisher's listening, you need to help Wil and the Geek & Sundry Team to get this show renewed for another season.  I know it's responsible for me buying and recommending featured games as a result of watching.