So, how was it for me?
From a game point of view, I have to admit that Furnace was a very mixed bag. I played Dread:The First Book of Pandemonium (GM:Scott Doward) which was a nice visceral way to kick off the convention. Its a game based on demon-hunting, madness, ultra-violence etc. All very graphic, all very gory and definitely very stylised. I felt sometimes the system tried to hard to be cool - when powers are described as vicious lampreys bursting from your stomach to attack the bad guys, it makes it quite hard to feel like a good guy! Also the use of terms like 'Clusterfuck' and 'Cockpunch' as game terms seemed ... gratuitous? Regardless, it was a decent game and produced a number of very memorable moments.
In the evening I played Poison'd (GM:Graham Walmsley). This is a game I have been wanting to try for a while and whilst I was not disappointed by the game itself (I thought it was quite elegant) some of the subject matter around the table just made me sigh inwardly. Lets see ... rape, homosexual rape, child abuse, necrophilia, group sex, group rape... oh what a wonderful advert for the hobby! Now I can see how some people might see these themes, in the context of the game and comment on how the game allows us to explore the range of human depravity in a society without rules or boundaries. I would say its just an excuse for a lot of cock-jokes and rudeness. I'd like to play Poison'd again, but I'd like a little less quite literal butt-fuckery.
On Sunday I played Monkey (GM and Writer: Newt Newport) which I had played last year. I even got to play the same character again which was a lot of fun. He's an administrator from Heaven and well, he has a different way of dealing with things! The power of the manifest, the filing system and the index card! The game itself suffered a little from very low energy around the table and quite a lot of explanation from Newt regarding the game which ate some of the time. It too had a number of memorable moments.
I ran two sessions of Duty & Honour, which officially launched at Furnace. The first (Cadiz or Bust) had four members of the 22nd Lothian chasing a spy from Badajoz to Cadiz. The second (City of Vipers) had the same soldiers rooting out a spy in Cadiz and saving the entire Mediterranean station, as well as getting the girl, dodging debts and (not) saving reputations. From the feedback, the games went well and I am obliged to Mr Walmsley for making a couple of suggestions which I wrapped into the second game to great success. D&H sold like hot cakes all convention - 16 copies sold in total - and gained a lot of praise from people. I was especially pleased because it got props for the layout and design of the book.
Last year Furnace blew me away with the quality of the games. This year, it would have been almost impossible to match it. I suspect that my expectations might have been a little too high as I left feeling a little disappointed. In retrospect, each game had its own highs and lows but the entire event was well worth the money. Roll on next year.