Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Entmoot


As avidly reported in the last post, this last Monday saw an Entmoot of the Brighton Roleplaying Meetups group at the Craft Beer Co, North St. Last time I went along in late November, I turned up on time and the room was absolutely packed- all I could do is stick my head around the door like a disembodied character from a Dickensian ghost story. Duly noted for this time I turned up early and typically was the only one there. Still it was nice to hold court with my pint for a few minutes and meditate upon the burger and chips smell wafting through the building.


Nevertheless I was joined by Simon Appleton and thereafter a couple of the other regulars and it was nice to catch  up with what was going on and of course roleplaying anecdotes started rolling over each other which reminded me that we are in fact all one big community. Props have to go to Mark and Garry who also came along promoting interest in the Shadowrun and Farie Wood and also Jo popped in later as she was GMing a D&D. Simon takes on a lot at this pub as his primary club meet is the Board Gaming society on a different day but role playing interest has spilled over into another meetup but he also GMs so his interests are invested. The moot is designed a bit like a country fair where GMs set up shop and they may or may not get interest, though of course this is supported by online rsvping; it seems to work after a fashion as the club is clearly maintained, though I did hear on the grapevine that one GM had mysteriously disappeared since the last moot so I am unsure of what became of his adventurers.


Logistics are always a challenge for small interest groups in big cities and whilst Simon will get rooms that are available, they will be turfed out for special paid for events, which, to be fair, is core income for any bar - we are no different at the Railway Club. What is interesting is that of course being in central Brighton they can just pop down to the next pub along the road, in this case the Windmill, and with another couple of hundred dotted around town there are options. After the moot - about 20 people this time round, regular games due on the night started up and whilst the tables are deceptively small upstairs, two GMs set up in the shared space upstairs and Simon took his game downstairs which sort of works quite well on a quiet Monday evening.

All in all it was nice to catch up with everyone and I am sorely tempted to sit down in a game - only issue is, as this is technically speaking an internet group, it could be anywhere in the world.





Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Shadowrun and the Sixth World


We have a few games on going at the moment - given the intermittent nature of the current D&D and elongated Paramount dominated administrative labyrinth that is Starfleet command we have been running a Chill alongside the advertised games and a nod must go to GM Mark as he generously stepped in to run an emergency Shadowrun a couple of weeks ago and this will be the primary backup game as we move forward. So whilst we have many games to offer its a bit a drive through roulette experience at the moment. Having said that, it does mean that there is an opportunity to get involved in lots of stuff.


Whilst I neglected to asked the players about the plot of the Shadowrun I did get an overall positive response. For myself, it is a system that falls into the category of having loads of mates that have played it over the years but not actually one I have played myself. So I have sort of got to know it like a cousin once removed who one always hears about.

The system is quite a mish mash that reminds me of aspects of Warhammer - although it is set in the future as a SciFi game with a strong cyberpunk presence it also overlaps into mutations or 'goblinizations' of newborns into trolls and orks. This merges traditional fantasy races into a technological age known as the Sixth World. This also includes Elves, Dwarves and other creatures. Magic is also prevalent as in Native American spirit control ceremonies and rituals that can influence geopolitics and the entire world is an alternative future of our current world, so the backdrop is of the USA and the rest of the world as we sort of know it with the influence of mega corporations and a virtually enhanced internet.. 


I get the impression that if you take every roleplaying system you have, put them in a bucket, add water, mash them up and leave them to dry for 24 hours, you get something like Shadowrun,. Nevertheless respect where respect is due and the game deos have a lineage through 6 editions going back to 1989 with the latest in its fifth in 2013. We'll see how it goes at the club.


On another note, it is the Entmoot of the Roleplaying Meetup group this coming Monday at the Craft Beer Co in North St and I shall pop along as I did last time to say hello to a few people and as I am a little more familiar with how they work mechanically now, I will let everyone know that there is our installation openly available at the Railway club, including a Jukebox.




Wednesday, 8 March 2017

War

 

This last Saturday saw the reprise of GM Warren's Earthdawn adventure at the Dice Saloon. Although I have dropped into the venue on a few occasions, it was the first time I had been there at peak time and by Jupiter it was busy. Whilst our party had rented their own table there were card game players of various systems dotted around, a very forgiving purveyor of coffee who was quite patient as I changed my order several times and a large contingent of people at war. These would be the Generals and Commanders of the Warhammer armies out manoeuvring each other on wide tabletop battlegrounds.


Whilst Warhammer doesn't appeal to me directly as I prefer the more creative aspects of narrative, I was struck by the heavy atmosphere of such confrontation. Whilst a civilised and orderly progression of battle was mediated by opposing players there was definitely the air of one side wanting to utterly crush the other. Even from a distance the two rows of opposing players gave an impression of no quarter as rules were passed back and forth for scrutiny and ranges were checked and double checked across the field using personal measuring tapes before orders were executed; it was a definitive war room. I  must have been there an hour or so gingerly listening to the Earthdawn but often the presence of the Warhammer would catch my eye as battlefield resolve and determination swayed its own tug of war above the gaming table. Basically, now I can understand the appeal, though I am ultimately much more at home with a cup of tea, biscuits and a familiar.


Neverthless the Earthdawn was a delight to listen into which, ironically, despite its name, is set underground. I joined at the point where a Troll, Elf, Dwarf, Obsidiman and Windling all walked into a bar. More specifically the bar was on fire and hidden in magical darkness. As amusing as it was to watch the obsidiman debate himself whether to turn right or left as traditionally they are a little slower than Ents when making decisions, I got the impression that they were after a bowl of some sort whilst trying to make sure that people were as safe as possible.. its a bit like turning up to a party when everyone else is drunk so I only got the general idea of a plan in motion but it seemed that no one died on this occasion. As to the fate of the bowl, well, I will find out this Thursday.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Case Closed


SAVE archive return 10.03.1995

Entity:High Priest of Tiamat, sub category Poltergeist

Behaviours: Erratic, usually highly aggressive and violently interactive. Invisible, telekinetic sometimes demonstrating extreme strength. Often loud but incoherent. Predominantly bound to a building or area against it's will, either related to ward or unresolved motivations expressed physically. Separate entity; does not possess but can manifest through objects. Case relates to early Babylonian temple accessible by ignition of transfer powder, possibly containing Unknown components. Whilst creation myths vary across religions it is thought the Unknown itself borrows from and/or influences these contexts in human history rather that any particular mythology being accurate.

Cautions: Violent, fast and unpredictable and will always attack though it may take several hours or even days to become aware of human presence. Can be temporarily appeased via human sacrifice or occasionally exposed in a mist, fog or by using smoke.



Entity: Tears of Tiamat, sub category Ectoplasm

Behaviours: Appearing as fluidic, it immolates when exposed. Often contained within an Unknown artefact, in this case sealed Babylonian pottery; breakable but will reform after contents are released. In other cases liquid can manifest of itself or extrude from human extremities - can be airborne. When in contact with living tissue it will burn continuously destroying flesh but imbuing great strength and longevity. When extinguished, properties revert immediately leaving victim dead or severely injured.

Cautions: Should be kept contained at all times. Avoid contact with skin.

Entity: Titan, sub category Guardian

Behaviours: Servitor entity, Golem like, tasked with simple instructions. Not always able to fully manifest, in this case charged with returning the Tears in the event of their removal. One of the beast warriors of the Babylonian gods.

Cautions: Slow and vulnerable to physical attack although it's size and lack of dexterity can make interaction unpredictable. Manifestation can vary depending on age and location - may only partially interact.


Entity: Concretion of Faces. Possible Watcher Entity.

Behaviours: Manifesting as a large mass of conjoined faces encased in organic translucent gel. The faces are fixed in expression but the eyes are animated. No previous contact known  more data is required for assertions.

Cautions: Unknown

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Hope on a rope


So last week the Chill Envoys entered Unknown territory. SAVE agents are drawn from the community but selected based either on their circumstantial exposure to metaphysical forces or because they have expressed an interest in the supernatural on an armature level. Its is designed to be a slow conversion; to be a curios onlooker that is gradually and inevitably drawn into a deeper and increasingly life threatening situations. Action must replace disquiet, knowledge mysticism and resolve fear. 

To become an Envoy is, effectively to take up arms and draw a line int he ether on behalf of all humanity despite the potential sacrifices. Whilst the current party have played a very cautious hand to date, I am proud to sat that they are slowly becoming committed to their cause; they are crossing the line that cant be uncrossed and facing their demons. Literally.


Last week saw the Envoys enter a lair of sorts, though they are not the first to venture into this area as they discovered. Whilst it is yet unclear what it all means they have just discovered a place that holds Unknown artefacts including a receptacle for the one that has been recently intruding upon their own world. SAVE is predominantly an information gathering organisation and whilst Unknown entities can be influenced, direct contact is often unwise if indeed it can be avoided altogether Whilst the history of SAVE is littered with attempts at containing and researching otherworld items, there has never been a successful outcome in doing so. Something always comes for them.


Nevertheless our intrepid Envoys have banded together in true D&D style and the rallying cry went up last week "Do we have any rope?". The age old RPG debate n the availability, length and weight of rope is a venerable one and was duly had. Despite playing characters based in the USA in the early nineties, that did not stop our heroes dutifully tying themselves together Sherpa style and embarking one after another into the mists, gas lanterns held aloft. Hopefully when they all come out, there wont be any frayed ends..


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Age concern


We routinely get correspondence into our steam powered gnome infested internet engine regarding people who are interested in popping along and having a go. What is interesting is that quite often people seem a little concerned about whether the group is old, young or somewhere in between. More specifically, younger people are concerned about being too young and older people are concerned abut being too old and people in between are often concerned about being neither young nor old or on the other tentacle being too young or too old.


Given this then either you would have to be a newborn or an immortal or both to actually guarantee not being self conscious about the correct role playing age - there would be no one at the club whatsoever if that were the case. Or to put it another way, the only theoretically viable club profile would be made of child snatching people who think that they are elves. I wont speak for anyone else but I would have some concerns playing with people like this as well as the fact that babies can be both smelly and noisy.


Now this is oddly a case of irrelevance being very important. so not only does it does not matter where you are on your particular lifespan , more specifically you will often be role playing someone or something else that has a radically different life expectancy; in the case of some thing like Cthulu, for example that could be very short lived concern indeed. There are tree like entities, such as Ents that converse for so long they start to grow roots or the other end of the scale there are clone bodies that can be utilised like tools, discarded or sacrificed depending on the circumstances. Whilst we all get a feeling of clinging to life after having eaten a dodgy curry or indeed seeing the whole of our lives flash before our eyes when we get an unexpected mobile phone bill, if you don't have any life to begin with or indeed eyes, you have to look at things in a very different way; there are often droids, androids and sentient mechanisms that can be introduced as player characters. Perhaps your character's concerns is more about getting the correct parts so he doesn't wear out rather than where his next meal is coming from. Alternatively perhaps you will be dropped into the shoes of an alien where you would have to consider matters of primal motivations as well as what passes for fashionable footwear in your civilisation. 


The bottom line is that basically there is no concern for age at all. Or to try and get the concept across of such an unusual hobby, if you are a brain in a jar, then you would be very welcome.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Slugging it out


There is an esteemed history to blobs, though I would like to say that they were most prevalent in the atomic age of domestic appliances, they have continued to make an appearance over the decades. I did raise a slightly inebriated eyebrow when GM Jon mentioned that the crew of the USS Lexington had just encountered one, though Dave also remarked on a punishing battle with the bell curve last week as I believe most of their evening was spent making appalling rolls. Personally I can find it a struggle when an entire party repeatedly rolls badly as other than NPCs either doing a tap dance to pass the time whilst the party slap themselves out of their collective hypnosis or allowing my monsters to merrily chomp away at protagonists, I'm never quite sure what to do.


Interestingly the early 'blobs'  typified unfathomable and frightening entities, their physical form directly representing the barrier between the world we know and something completely alien. They also have the advantage of being relatively easy projects as far as special effects are concerned.


In more latter day scenarios there is a nod to the heritage I believe where things like gelatinous cubes are concerned but as Science Fiction matured the genre it has given way to more descriptive creatures and plot devices and to even  more sophisticated, albeit malevolent, entities.


As for best practice, well this is still an open debate. They give nothing away. It difficult to imagine a Player character actually being a blob of some sort but not impossible. In fact Starfleet would be compelled to entertain incorporating a blob species that has made it to the interstellar age and provided they didn't vaporise anything at first contact, I would love a blobby Ensign on the bridge of the USS Discovery in the upcoming series, packed together with all its backstory of awkward struggles through Starfleet Academy. Eventually gaining the respect of his fellow cadets and a confident relationship with a young human aboard its first crew assignment. It would be an inspirational role model to young blobs all over the world who feel marginalised and underrepresented.

Problem is of course, where do you put the badge on a blob ?

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Size Matters


We are sort of approaching the beginning of the end of this cycle of games if the usual time spans are anything to go by. Circumstances have juggled us quite a lot over the last few months and as always Christmas made it presence felt including one storm warning on one particular Thursday this month. Whilst people will, at a push, risk their characters I wouldn't suggest that any role players try to make the games at the cost of their own lives, though that would be impressive dedication for which I would immediately press the Social Club to install a small shrine dedicated to fallen dice throwing mortals. If my bat senses are anything like accurate, we are waiting for Paramount merchandising to authorize the next batch of Modiphious scenarios for which GM Jon had kindly offered to intersperse with some classic Star Trek gaming to keep the rabble from revolting and GM Warren continues to press his players whilst he is daywalking but at some point soon the sun will set upon him once more.


Sniffing my colleagues' brains I am interested in Garry's upcoming Farie Wood, which is a home grown system of 20 yearsish as I understand it that was in fact published for a while. Whilst I am less interested in systems per se as opposed to narratives, I did have one experience in an old DnD game that I wasn't expecting to enjoy. The old home game I used to attend ran an Evermeet setting which for those that don't know is a nod to the Farie genre. The island of Evermeet is now sort of separated from the Prime Material plane and as we played it had a definite glowy cartoony ambiance to the environment. At the time we had a mixture of a giant, fairy, elf and cobold (rescued as a pup and brought up by elves). Despite this peculiar mix of friends and foes the adventure was both challenging and the world itself was interesting with regard to its unique/planar properties.


I suppose its not too unusual for a game to have characters of varying sizes but between a farie at about 3 inches up to a giant of 20 feet, it is exceptionally important to say who is standing on who's shoulders when trying to reach that naughty wizards tome on the top shelf. But large differences can create close friendships and despite the family friendly aspects of playing storybook characters, some of the situations got quite close to the mark. So, the moral of the story is, if  you wish to live happily ever after, take fairies who can cast fireballs seriously and try not to get trodden on by anyone whos shoes are bigger then you are.



Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Mystery


Much occurs to me in casual conversion these days. That is not to dismiss the content of the conversations I have with people of course but the once bright lanterns that illuminated my mind are now more akin to tangled Christmas tree lights with a loose bulb somewhere.

At some point last meet whilst we were all catching up in the bar we had a brief chat about some of the Chill filler games I had been putting on with a nod to plots and back stories. Whilst the first Chill fill case is closed now there was enough interest from those present to have a stab at another small scenario so some brave few took up their badges of office once more as SAVE envoys battling the Unknown.


Now my approach in designing scenarios, at least in terms of plot, for  many of the more typical adventuring genres always seems to result in a go there and do that formula. I then back fill a detailed plot with characters and attempt to make sure there is at least the opportunity for everyone to be involved with something although of course it quickly becomes player led. See some of my previous regarding off road player handling. Now this is fun and generates its own story as well as often creating unexpected outcomes. But where the Chill differs is that I seem to have been caught a little on the back heel with it as its just really a filler game, so much of the detail simply doesn't get done. However, whether this becomes advantageous to a horror or mystery game is an interesting question.

The point is that with a more loose, irrational set of circumstances, a natural sense of mystery is generated. The motivations of non human entities cant necessarily be derived and characters do not have to know why certain things work or why some things have to be done as a matter of ritual rather than logic. One gets a much more medieval or indeed primitive experience when someone is caught up in events that own them rather than being the other way around -  a sense of helplessness or in the case of horror, a loss of hope.

So whilst players may reflect after an adventure with some unresolved frustration of how things didn't make sense or indeed how they were supposed to work out certain situations, it's the sound of one hand clapping. Sometimes knowledge drains hope. Sometimes some things are too much to bear. And perhaps the world does not belong to us after all.



Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Waterdeep


Winter made its frozen fingers felt this last week with snow storm warnings keeping would be adventurers safe and warm in their hobbit holes and out of trouble. Of course those of us who either braved or fooled the elements met once more to see a Thursday evening out. As we were a rag tag selection of players across all of the games we availed ourselves of another board game, kindly brought along by Jamie, Lords of Waterdeep.


Much like a snooker referee bar the white gloves, Jamie steered us through a few disjointed and unfamiliar rounds of play before the penny began to drop and we started to play properly. Players are given a fixed number of rounds to place tokens in areas that gain them gold or 'adventurers' - basically little squares of different colours. Quest cards can be picked up, intrigue cards can be played affecting actions and property can be purchased to earn future rewards. During play points are awarded during some events but at the end of the game, large point totals are derived from the resources acquired over the rounds and quests completed.


At the end of the day the game doesn't really borrow anything from the D&D genre in which it is set and is more about decision making in a more classical board game sense - it certainly lacks a narrative. but its easy to compare everything to Talisman. Still everyone got involved and happily rolled their faces in gold at the end.

GM Jon has checked in regarding the Next Stat Trek module that is beaming in for the play test and I believe the Ravenloff is also on for this Thursday. I will pack another Chill, just in case.


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Case Closed

SAVE archives return 29.09.1994, Bigfork, Minnesota, USA
Major Incident, Unknown incursion

Entity: Executioner, sub category Hangman


Behaviors: Interactive illusion via psychic attack, probable cause of local spate of apparent suicides by hanging across the county for at least  a 10 year period. Probably bound by remains and/or items of significance or ritual when alive; in this case a personal bell and/or bell from county jail chapel rung before executions whilst legislation carried death penalty. Partially corporeal manifestation, occasionally phasing, violent and aggressive. Unknown Servitor entity - probably wife, manifesting as ghost with similar behaviours albeit less potent. Possible living servitor maintained by ritual/blood sacrifice -ref Spectral Hound. Possibly accompanied with manifestations of victims, not harmful in this case.

Cautions: Psychic attacks, Evil Way. Deception by appearance as living being. Victims self harm unawares by strangulation manifesting as tightening noose around victims neck.

Vulnerabilities: Physical attack, harmed by organic contact or impact from weapons beyond a certain age. Impervious to weapons of newer construction, certainly firearms. Bound by ward - sound of chapel bell ringing. Possibly destroyed by burial ritual involving items of significance.

Additional: It is as yet unclear if executioners become Unknown during their life or after death. Part of this process is binding to items or places prevalent during execution rituals whilst alive. Motivation unclear.

References: 1956 South Africa,Col. Reinhold Hurst, concentration camp commandant shot 1945.  1830 France,  Charles-Henri Sanson Royal executioner died 1806. 1634 Yucatan Mexico, Akotec High Maian Priest died circa 1330.

Entity: Spectral Hound

Behaviours: Servitor entity of low cognition, manifesting as semi corporeal, large dog. 

Cautions: Behaviour in keeping with living attack dog of considerable strength.

Vulnerabilities: Physical attack, harmed by organic contact or impact from weapons beyond a certain age. Impervious to weapons of newer construction, certainly firearms. Unsure if entity can be destroyed or whether it is a servitor bound to master entity.

Additional: note, executioner in question owned attack dogs during his employment - probably correctional enforcement animals

References: Numerous possible - specific instances: West England 1900 Dartmoor. Romania Brasov 1868.

Status: Case Closed


Monday, 2 January 2017

Space Time


Its that time of year again. In fact every time of year is a time of year again, with the exception of the extra second we all received  due to slowing planetary rotation. Whilst that particular second was brand new, history repeats itself in recognisable fashion at the roleplaying club. Contrary to my pre Christmas confusion, more Star Trek is in fact warping in from Modiphius as GM Jon continues to execute his orders from Starfleet command.


I am not sure if a new moon will accompany the new year but I get the impression that every moon is a full moon in Ravenloff and GM Warren's fiends will continue to stalk his players this Thursday in the D&D.

The Chill fill has a session to run before concluding but as the other games are still in full swing it may depend on who has risen fully awake from their Christmas suspended animation before we make any plans on what to do next. But as I understand it, resdolutions scamper about in early Janruary so if you are looking for a thoroughly intriguing lack of exercise then I can heartily recommend coming along and making some new friends in deadly environments.



Basically if you are curious about roleplaying..........

 

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Santa Pause


Well, its that time of year again. Or specifically it ain't Christmas until Hans Gruber falls off the Nakatomi Plaza. 

Our intelligence services tell me that the Belmont is closed tomorrow due to the Elves so the next formal meet will be on Jan 5th. We are officially on Pause, tho there are rumblings about what may or may not be happening on the 29th- I suspect it may involve ale - if I find out in time I shall drop a quick note here and if I find out too late then I shall write a formal complaint. If I don't find out at all then I will make something up.

Its an interesting juncture in our cycle as the phase of the games have been slightly out of alignment as GM John has been running pre release Star Trek playtest against the manufacturers time scale which has now completed, GM Warren is currently running a popular D&D tho I suspect it hasn't run for enough sessions yet and I was running an extended Chill filler due to the need to juggle both the roleplaying calendar and to absorb additional interest.


So some sort of transition will be in order for the new year I expect. In fact you can call it a resolution - GM Bill is intending to re-open his 13th Age but we have not yet convened about the round table to resolve strategy so in appropriate style we will drift merrily through the fog and high spirited fumes of Christmas and with favour emerge sober for another year of adventures.

Watch this space. 
Particularly if Sci Fi is involved.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Very Special People

 

Roleplaying is a special hobby. Though it borrows from all the best aspects of a community pastime it also brings together a wide variety of colourful people. Imagination is something that everyone has ordinarily, though fortunately I am unsure regarding psychopaths, and despite this one has an opportunity to express oneself artistically as much as applying oneself deductively to any given scenario. As Mark, one of the Chill players commented, his detective's drawback of impulsiveness is very useful in cutting through a lot of preamble despite the rather adverse consequences; an echo of a distant cousin in chivalry we all know too well.


More specifically one can approach the hobby with a method actor's mindset. A nod to the Larpers here and we do entertain those who like to get out on occasion. Putting aside even the fun of dressing up and sheer effort people can put into costume, a tremendous aspect of live roleplaying draws from historical reference, typified in re-enactments. As much as one can learn about events in school or by watching dramatised histories in motion pictures, there is nothing quite like actualliy smelling the sulphur of gunpowder burning the air or feeling the weight of chain mail on your shoulders whilst breaking camp or indeed gazing hopelessly around a field of dead bodies. It simply can't have been all that different in the past and there are moments when you are there. This is a kind special.


The ability to inject a fair amount of humour into a game also brings people together in special ways. Other than clever plays on words and ironic words in clever plays, jokes are for the most part anecdotal on some level which requires one to imagine a point of view. Abstracting from this in many of the fantastical worlds we inhabit just explodes the farcical possibilities and its not uncommon to forget ones head is on fire during tense negotiations.

And then there are just Very Special People. I shall just attach a couple of photos of our last meet while we played something equivalent to Twister for the inebriated.