A frightfully serious exposition on why we are publishing Camelot – The Court in November 2014, not Camelot – The Tourney as advertised, and other matters, some of which are of little or no importance whatsoever. So we had Camelot – The Tourney scheduled for release in six months, but one morning I woke up knowing that it’s not ready for publication and it’s now too late to sort it in time. This produced a fit of the shakes that lasted halfway through the third bottle of gin. What to do?
I guess other publishers wrestle with the same sort of scheduling problems as we do, but it falls on each of us to solve it on our own in our own way. The weasel word here is ‘solve’. It implies a proactive, even intelligent approach to a perfectly rational situation. What Laurence and I did was chase each other round the office screaming and wailing and bashing each other with rolled up newspapers. A very professional way to do things, in my opinion. Well, Old Farts can’t keep that sort of thing up for very long and within a minute or two the sound of wheezing and coughing brought the mayhem to a stop. That’s when we remembered ‘The Filing Cabinet in The Corner’. This is a relic from Wotan 1. A file and forget destination of last resort for the various projects, designs, briefing notes and related detritus of a lost age. The FCitC might just be our last, slim chance of salvation. We tippy-toed over and there it was. The rusting steel filing cabinet labelled ‘Design Vault. Beware – Toxic Hazard’. I use the words ‘rusting’, ‘steel’ and ‘filing cabinet’ advisedly. ‘Rusting and steel’ imply a process in which not all the steel is turned to brown and flaking scabs and where oxygen might wander over to the cabinet, poke about a bit and say ‘Aha! Steel. Yum. I’ll have some of that for breakfast.’ ‘Filing Cabinet’ implies a degree of order; a feeble stab at halting entropy’s advance, an imposing presence that suggested the holding of chaos at bay. This FCitC was none of these things. The only thing holding this together was habit, dust and a haughty indifference to the ravages of time.
We stared at it in bemused awe. Laurence tried to blow some of the dust away. Big mistake. Saharan sandstorm eat your heart out. This was positively Martian in its intensity. The coughing and wheezing resumed. After we staggered back from the hospital and a somewhat trying course of injections against Bubonic Plague, Pharaoh’s Foot, The Dropsy and a number of other historical diseases we thought we might explore a bit more and a bit more carefully. The drawer scraped open and we stared into the abyss. Was the toxic hazard inside or outside the cabinet? Is this where that intern who mysteriously disappeared in 1993 had ended up? A rank smell of decay oozed out, spotted our noses and wandered languidly over. Yep, that’s the pong of long dead intern. We sucked in the breath somewhat, took life into hands and a number of other precautionary measures then delved down into said abyss.
Amongst the dead flies, empty crisp packets, back issues of White Dwarf (White Dwarf?) and, ahem, assorted bones there were some crumbling folders in water stained and curling brown cardboard. The writing on the covers was faded and almost unreadable but clearly hand written. Hand written? You ask in shocked disbelief. Yes, promise you. In blue fountain pen ink, no less. There was no email address, no URL, no reference whatsoever to pre-Web days. I know, I know. Man, these were old. Like ANCIENT. I reached in and my hand closed round a crumbling file. We took it to the table and carefully opened it. And there it was. A perfectly preserved specimen from the Old Regime blinking in the light and muttering ‘About bloody time too. You try nineteen years in a filing cabinet with a dead intern and see what you smell like. He took weeks to die, by the way. Just thought you’d like to know that.’
We ignored the muttering – games can be peevish at times. Open the cover. Game Board on the finest parchment, hand illuminated in rich golds, reds and lapis lazuli blues. I know these medieval chaps didn’t do perspective, but hell, this was awesome. Rules in Latin, playtest notes from various corners of the empire: some in Saxon, others in recursive Pictish ‘A’. It looked complete, perfect and playable. A faint memory stirred. This was the pre-publication prototype of Down with the King that had crawled out of the filing cabinet. Nice game that. Set in a medieval court. Fast, fun, vicious. Only three rules, thirty minutes to play… yadeyadeya. Just what we needed in fact.
And that explains just about everything. Well, everything if importance. Had to change the name, natch. Did a load more playtesting. Got some clever blokes to do some drawings and some more clever blokes to print it. That sort of thing. Nuff said. November. Start saving now is my advice.