“We are all dedicated to offering game play and community, not just a product for sale.”
Every now and then, we get an email in the Dig box that sticks out to the point that it pokes us.
In this case, the resonating phrase was “Goblin Market.”
We’d never heard of such a soiree before, and so we asked Pandemonium Books & Games Books Manager Kat Pavlovich about what’s coming to their Central Square store on Oct. 29 and 30. All proceeds from the event will go to the Doe Network and We Help the Missing.
Let’s just start with Pandemonium Books. How do you explain what’s going on there to the uninitiated?
Pandemonium Books & Games (don’t forget the games) is a store that brings books, board games, role playing games, and trading card games—like Magic the Gathering—under one roof. We offer in-person games and events, which really gives us an opportunity to foster a community of various types of gamers and offer a space for like minded people to find each other.
On the games front, what kind of selection do you carry and what does the store do for that community of enthusiasts to be more than just a place where they buy stuff?
It’s a wide variety of board games from two-player games to party games and small card games ready for travel and a healthy family game section. We have heavy strategy games, solo games, crowd pleasers … lots of options.
One of our biggest audiences is the Magic the Gathering players. We have Pokemon, Digimon, Vanguard, Yu-Gi-Oh as well. And a growing Flesh and Blood TCG community.
Our books are strictly sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural horror … speculative fiction. It’s niche, but fans of those genres don’t usually get a store devoted to their favorite thing.
We have multiple wargames available; our Monday night event space is devoted to our Warhammer and X-wing players. Our RPG section has so much more than D&D. I, personally, only know how to play D&D 5E, but indie RPGs are a little more than half of our role-playing section.
What do we offer other than product? Almost every department has face-to-face events—so happy to have that option again. Our online calendar is pretty full. The only lack at the moment is a board game night. We still need to find someone to run it. That is definitely in the works. Author signings, book club—a writing workshop is in the works—all kinds of Magic formats, Wednesday D&D … We are definitely all dedicated to offering game play and community, not just a product for sale.
It seems like the popularity of games is really booming, and has been for a few years. Is that your experience with the store? Is the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons movie certain to push things into another realm altogether?
I honestly (I guess I’m out of the loop) didn’t know about the movie. As an avid Critical Role fan, that’s what I end up talking and hearing about the most. Magic is also huge, has been for decades. I mentioned the Flesh and Blood community is growing. Players asked, they collected enough interest in their community to bring it to us; we offered them a spot on our events calendar. It’s gone from one to four tables in about six months. Board games seem to be stepping up too. I do think games and RPGs have been popular. The greater world is just starting to notice more. And things like discords and streaming outlets—those are booming—has illuminated those audiences.
It seems like the Goblin Market is a pretty big endeavor for you, so what kind of events would you say led up to this?
I love Halloween. So does the owner, Tyler, and I think all of my coworkers. I dressed up everyday in October last year and Tyler dubbed me Halloween organizer. The store’s anniversary is also the first week of November; we rolled into one festival.
I’m big on themes because I think it helps with planning. A previous employee created a D&D supplement using Goblin Market. I love the old poem by Christina Rosetti and a young adult novel, Not Good For Maidens, has this amazing, terrifying cover art. The title is a line from the poem. From there, the theme solidified.
What’s the concept for the market beyond the obvious? What will be there and how did you put it all together?
I really wanted the weekend’s events to reflect the myriad Pandemonium offers. Saturday (10/29) offers a market of artisans—obviously a must—and is largely the role playing game day: the morning has kid appropriate D&D, the night is distinctly too creepy, for adults only and free apple cider! Sunday (10/30) is heavily author focused—signings, readings, and a Q&A panel—with evening board games. It should all be a blast. costumes are encouraged.
Even though it’s directly referencing the Goblin Market poem, I am also including the general idea in fae mythology of spiriting away mortals; that’s the ultimate goal of the goblins in the poem. That’s what led me to choose a charity devoted to finding missing persons. I do my best to incorporate a wider community, outreach in hopes of doing good outside of providing space. Tyler has been very supportive of those ideas. All the money from the ticketed games during this event will be donated to We Help the Missing.
What are some of the most popular games at the moment? How about this season? Maybe something that someone can check out at the event?
Our classics are Catan and Wingspan for board games. For more Halloween appropriate games, Betrayal (almost certain to be one of the spooky board games to be played at the event—insert evil laughter), and Mysterium are both great and will be available. Root is back and amazing, both board game and an RPG.
For RPGs, there are a lot of horror options: Call of Cthulhu and Dread are popular. We also have a highly rated, rare solo RPG, Thousand Year Vampire. Warhammer: 40k is the wargame of the moment. As for books, the panel is on writing horror and dark fantasy. We have a great lineup including Paul Tremblay, Sarah Monette, Diane Zahler—a middle-grade author of a new Goblin Market that was beautiful while making my skin crawl. I hate to name a favorite, but coauthors Amanda Foody and C.L. Herman wrote a duology, All of Us Villains. I think it’s my new daily hand-sell.
What’s the learning curve on these games for someone who may be a little bit intimidated to show up? Is there some kind of preparation that a neophyte should do beforehand?
That’s why we offer several levels of games. Not everyone wants to learn how to play an intricate strategy game that may take up to two hours. We are always here to answer questions and the events are run by people we know are willing and interested in teaching newcomers. We do offer a beginner D&D session that includes how to create a character. The Halloween event Game Masters are providing characters to pick from. Yes, there are plenty of people who show up knowing what to do already; they have fun teaching newcomers just like the staff. The most important thing to bring with you is your interest and kindness.