Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Splitting the party.

Ah, the old ones are the best. Not a Cthulhu reference but last week in the 13th Age we tried to take the p*** a bit and deliberately split the party in the search for various plot leads just to see what would happen. Quite rightly GMJack suitably chastised us and when I say chastised I mean flayed us within a inch of our lives. Poor little Tiefling, She had, for reasons that escape me (though reason seems like the only party member that is capable of escaping anything at the moment),  wandered down an alley and got herself mugged by 17 people. Now GMJack is making a point here I feel as its not often than 17 muggers crawl out of the brickwork - I mean there has to be an economic issue with regard to cost effectiveness of splitting loot 17 ways let alone the general HR paperwork and CPD. To be fair it would appear that the majority of them were on an apprentice or job sharing scheme as they only had 5 hit points each but even still we barely got there in enough time to save our little schizophrenic diabolist.
For anyone who has not come across it here is the jingle:
Meanwhile GMWarren's report from D&D5e reads as follows:

"After the brief and fatal (for the scout / investigator) diversion in some Goblin caves the party left with a rescued captive leaving the goblin tribe severly reduced in numbers but happily with a new leader (though Godlin politics being what it is might not be for long). The party head to their destination of Phandalin, a frontiers town built on the ruins of a previous settlement built hundreds of years before (mainly for humans, dwarves and halflings).
That evening after meeting up with their contacts and gaining a bit of well earned gold the party explored the town meeting the people. It would seem most from to the West side of town are friendly sort whilst those on the east side of town near the haunted manor are brigands, ruffians and downright hooligans. It would seem the town has a gang problem.
There were various conversations with townsfolk - the local priestess, the townsmaster plus a few farmers but the main focus was the gand on the east side of town. The druid wanted to test out her new ability of changing into another form and promptly went for a mastiff where she tried to get into the inn at the east side of town (a local gang haunt) . In managing to run into the Inn she tried to ingratiate herself with the members. She did manage but suddenly realised that the gang members needed another animal for their 'pit fights'.
Pick up and dumped in front of three cages holding rats. Luckily the rats were normal rats and the druid mastiff made quick work of them. After that she had to swiftly leave as her transformative powers were running out.
So we left it with the druid, now disguised as a cat, having left the inn was making her way towards the haunted manor alone whilst the rest of the group were contemplating a search for a druid, tracking down a tribe (well 15) of orcs with a potential side trip of a banshee visit or dealing with this gang that may be behind he disappearance of a man and his family "
PS Welcome to Paul who joined us last week, hope to see you again.
PPS and massive street cred to Dave for bringing a Birthday cake for GMJack last week. Cake should be made compulsory when roleplaying.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Hostage situations.

Having watched more than my fair share of movie hostage situations I would consider myself well versed in assessing incidents from an armchair/take away perspective. When a hostage is being grappled and has a gun pointed held at their temple then clearly a dramatic headshot by Bruce Willis is prescribed. Where negotiations are concerned, then you simply call in Kevin Spacey and have him talk them down. Where you can't communicate with captors then you clearly need an SAS response. For pirate boarding, Tom Hanks should be immediately promoted to Captain and passive, non cooperative resistance tactics should be adopted. When your favorite nuclear battleship is captured then an immediate Steven Segal intervention is required.
For the ardent roleplayer it goes on... Alien abductions often need a long term concerted effort from a fringe anti-establishment wild card and sidekick pragmatist such as Mully and Sculder (good name for cats btw). In your average, run of the mill possession cases a visit or two from Max Von Sydow should suffice albeit worth getting home insurance on that one. Your average encased-in-carbonite rescue does require thermal grenades and optional Princesses but is eminently doable.  And finally for your common or garden human sacrifice hostage....err...

Here in lies last weeks quandary. Personally I can only recall Big Trouble in little China, though that was a critical dagger throw by the hero I believe...and as a Paladin I rather look down on stabbing people in the back even if they are about to do the same. No, I made the right choice and charged in madly waving my sword. OK I rolled a 1, critical failure, and blamed everyone else. Completely ignoring my intended target I decided to engage a completely different foe. Perhaps for a Paladin there are no better of two evils but that is little consolation as the hostage not only lost his life but also his soul it seems as his body became a conduit for a thoroughly antisocial demon that came pre packaged with another set of critical failures to hand out.

What can you do eh ? Well it occurred to me far too late that of course I could have gone for the stabbee rather than the stabber. Ok, I would have critically failed but I could have taken the dagger blow for him instead; I could even have hurt or killed the hostage but at least I would have saved his soul and his relatives may even have got a pay out via Paladin Injury Lawyers 4U. There is basically no reason to save a Hero in a Roleplaying game.

I think what I am trying to say here is don't believe everything you see in movies..
Heroes die but are not forgotten.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Agression is the better part of Valour

Seems like everyone is happily killing things at the moment. Not sure whether this is human nature, or in some cases, elven/dwarven/hafling/tiefling nature but conversations are short and swords are long. I wonder if there is a trend in this sort of behaviour. Are we as role players slipping below the surface of our civilized minds as primeval apes and indulging our darker selves or is there really a higher purpose in mind; a just cause and justification for the higher good. Patience is actually my issue both in reality and in my character's, but whilst its always tempting to machete through a scenario the strategy usually has is drawbacks. I suppose fate plays its part at the end of the day and on occasion offers rewards as its own punishments so its always good to learn from mistakes. Provided your not dead.
In the DnD there has been an attempted assault on a goblin cave and whilst a slippery water ward has been circumvented, the party had run into another bunch of Goblins who, being very proud of themselves in their hostage management skills, have blackmailed the party to take out a Bugbear. This was however, meticulously planned and successfully executed so to speak as traversing a high bridge and large tunnel put our party in the ideal spot of slaughtering foes as they came - first a batch of henchmen and then the Bugbear itself followed finally by its wolf. Just like a murder mystery, everyone seems to have had a stab in this one.
In the 13thAge we seem to have walked into our third altercation of the day; zombies, drunken dwarves and evil wizards. We had been following a trail of dead bodies and arrived at a warehouse where we had to invite the occupants onto our swords, including a rather nasty looking two headed donkey (worse than it sounds). Finding nothing of note after the fight we did hear some chanting from a secret opening that has led us into a cave complex replete with wailing mages in some sort of disturbing ceremony. An entirely justifiable slaughter is on going but at present I will stick my neck out and say its looking good for us so far.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

What a Knightmare

For those who remember and even possibly took part, reminisce back to the days when it was perfectly fine to put a waste paper bin on a child's head an humiliate them publically. Find below a link to the Fearsomly Fearsome Lord Fear and click on it if you dare - expect at least 40% more danger !!

He will be in Brighton on the 18th:
Here is his lair..
A hearty welcome to Dave at the 13th age, who rather schizophrenically inherited the Angry West Country Barbarian Dwarf for the evening. Whilst its difficult in principal to share characters, it would not be a bad idea if we introduced an additional fighter actually in this case as we almost died when the Zombies attacked us in the morning and then almost died again in the evening at the hands of drunken dwarves who decided they didn't like our beards. Thankfully a drunken brawl is not considered life threatening in the 13th Age so GM Jack let that one go, but I fear we are not long for this world unless we get more muscle...we shall see...
Nevertheless we got a little further down the trail of our Zombie mystery and naturally anyone creating a zombie gang does need an unhealthy supply of dead bodies. This has taken us to a very Eastenders looking warehouse where we are currently attempting to make an entrance...
The DnD was on a break as GM Warren was on nightwalking duty but I believe GM Jules was taking the initiative and getting Warhammer characters rolled up for some private sessions he is running - there may be spaces left...


Thursday, 18 September 2014


Seems that 5e is keeping players very interested. Whilst we see some volatility occasionally in new members coming and going, so far we seem to have more sticking around than usual. Must be my new deodorant. So GM Jon will be starting a new game in order to split the ridiculously large 8 player group of GM Warren - therefore like any big successful international conglomerate our stock splits two for one!  GM Jo will be running a one off Savage Worlds tonight also so plenty of choice available for new players.
Meanwhile in the 13th Age we are on the tail of some dodgy Wizards it appears. We have started asking around at the Lusty Prawn which is the best name for a pub I have ever heard of, though it seems an appropriate place for our Angry Westcountry Pirate Barbarian to hang around.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Braaaaaaiiiiiinns ?

Well the 13th Age games advances and it would appear that we have a zombie mystery on out hands. Seems that a trip to market has turned into an undead massacre of nightmare proportions.. Anyone who has been into Primark on a Saturday will get the idea.
All the players are developing a rather quiet respect for the system as it flows very well, its simple and accessible and the  occasional quagmire of combat logistics simply isn't there. The use of an escalation dice is also an inspired touch which means that the longer rounds try and drag on for then the faster they will actually go. Brilliant.
I do have one bug bear so far and that was to do with a zombie at the back throwing watermelons at us. Fair enough except these melons were doing more damage than the melee weapons. This is one for the MythBusters I think although I appreciate that simulating a watermelon casting Zombie presents it own difficulties. Whilst I am one to whinge I do respect what goes on in a game and managed to charge down said meloner within a whisker of my life. To be honest there will be a lot of charging down where Paladins are concerned.
Suspicions in the party regarding our diabolist continue... it would seem that it was in fact her mother that was the evil one and that our Tamara just taps the gifts given to her for the wider good. Mmmm problem is that I'm thinking more along the lines of mother in Psycho...

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Usual Suspects.

Our new Parties are gathering

We are expecting a couple more players also but so far
For the D&D 5E
Wood Elf Druid Hermit
Human Fighter
Halfling Stout Cleric
Half Elf Wild Magic Sorcerer
Wood Elf Investigator Rogue
Half Orc Folk Hero (Accidental)
For the 13th Age


Now, the more perceptive among you will have noticed that there is a slight issue here. Perhaps, if I were to put it into pictures....

Tamara                                                 Fenrik
Ah to be playing a Paladin again...however it is my understanding that it is both my professional duty as well as my quest in life to cut the heads off evil people. Now Rob the Diabolist (has a nice ring to it don't you think ?) has assured me that in fact the rather introverted background to the character does in fact promote a social justice paradigm. In his own words:
"But Tamara, plot hooks aside, is centrally about creating a fighter for social justice. She's a tiefling which is always going to result in social exclusion and racism, she's gay which is something she always has to hide and she's a woman, a member of the largest oppressed group in human history. She has a lot of reasons to fight social injustices beyond the fact that she's developed a strong conscience despite the odds being against her. Tamara sees wider pictures too: don't just give gold to the beggar child, put gold towards building an orphanage."
Problem is that Paladins eyes tend to glaze over listening to all of this if someone has evil toast for breakfast. So we shall see, although of course I don't expect my character to last long as evil slaying knights who are immune to fear tend to be uninsurable. I need to think about what character I am playing next already.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

All Change.

Well, last weeks Ice and Fire saw slightly less people die from stab in the back syndrome and we left our characters in the after tournament ball, waltzing and plotting away for their next instalment whenever that will turn out to be. GM Bill brought the proceedings to a graceful end on this chapter of House Bequis and we managed to sell the remainder of our horses too! I think we were supposed to add another duck to our homestead base or perhaps another dry stone wall by way of experience. I had thought, when I started playing the Ice and Fire, that it would be an overly administrative affair and full of arguments given the plotty nature of the series and not much action, but it was quite the opposite. All testament to a good GM of course but its been an excellent mix of action on the ground and drama behind the scenes. And I shall miss it for now but it will be back no doubt.

In all the recent talk of the new D&D5E, Player Handbooks are starting to teleport into the hands of club members and people are understandably excited. GM Warren will take up the magic helm and will begin preparation for a 5E this week for a kick off next week. Here is a snippet in his very own words:
"The game will be set in the Forgotten Realms (for those that are familiar with it) and the area will be the Sword Coast (again for those familiar with the area).

The rules itself encourage background and I will at least want some sort of personal goal for each character which i would like to fit into whatever I run. Obviously details we can discuss

GM Jack will also start a 13th Age following his taster game a few weeks ago which I really quite enjoyed actually, so there is something for the those who wish to experience something outside the D&D juggernaut. Really not sure which I will prefer.. choices.. choices. From GM Jack:

"For people who don't know the system, One unique things are one thing about your character that is unique, nobody else in the world has that. Uniques can be used to establish setting details or plot points/leads. Backgrounds are the skill system of this game, every character has 8 background points (without feats) that can be put into any background (max of 5pts). Backgrounds are important as when chars make skill/background rolls the roll is 1d20 + level + applicable attribute (Str, Dex etc) + relevant background. Backgrounds can be anything there is not a list of them like there is of skills, they also do not have to match to the classes either, a wizard could have a background of Cat-Thief (Thief known only as...) or Gladiator (Champ of Axis tournements) just as much as a Rogue or Fighter can. 
Incremental advances are basically letting you get parts of your next level early, can be a feat, hit points, the ability to use another magic item, another power or spell, skills (+1 to all skill checks).
Icon relationships; At lv 1 all characters have 3 icon relationship points, the number of points you spend on a relationship is a measure of its overall usefullness since the relationship mechanic lets you roll 1d6 per point invested in a relationship when you are trying to leverage your connection to the icon, 5s and 6s on the rolls net you things. A relationship can be positive, conflicted and hostile. 
Icons; The 13 great legendary figures of the world, the movers and shakers, they are all/ have powerful factions and often enlist various adventurers for various tasks and quests."

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Dungeons and Flagons.

Advertising break this week.

I can heartily recommend The Brighton Beer Dispensary at  38 Dean Street Brighton where I enjoyed a particularly magnificent Pulled Pork Bap for the princely sum of only six pounds. This may seem a somewhat disconnected story for a role playing blog but in the long tradition of plot bending ... here it comes ... on Tuesdays they have a 'Dungeons and Flagons' evening, which I actually think is just board games, although if any locals reading this are at a loose end on a Tuesday then perhaps they can report back.

Apparently they are artisans of real ale and ciders; I can avidly testify to both from an amateur palette. I expect some further feedback on this also, although I appreciate this may be of a more elusive nature.
Oh, and certainly worth mentioning that today is the formal release of WotC's 5E Dungeons and Dragons player's handbook. My God, has it really been 40 years....and they still haven't got the rules right. I hear there's a Warlock now.
For posterity, here is the future from 2012 by the WotC management and D&D designers:
 The Future of D&D
Ask The Dungeon Master  

Monday, 11 August 2014

Dice Shaming.

In the last Ice and Fire we tried, in vein, to make it through the House last man standing event - we would have had a chance except Horse/Lance charges were allowed. Whilst this is in fact an inevitably mutually assured destruction strategy our section opponents decided to opt for it forcing us to do the same.

Now the amusing thing about this is that we had to hire some NPCs to help make up the numbers and after the initial charge into each other it was only the NPCs that remained sat smugly on their horses. To be fair we did manage to insult our opposing team and long standing House adversaries, which was our main aim, but it does bring up the issue of how we all deal with epic dice failure. Too often I feel its just passed off to fate or shrugged off as destiny; players too often resign themselves to a despondent 'It was meant to be'.

Well it appears that there is another way. Why should we have to take such appalling performance from little pieces of plastic ? Why should we sit there and have our egos betrayed by the tools we so lovingly care for, sometimes for decades. No. We should take a stand; don't get down, get angry and get even. Out the treachery for what it is and shame the little bastards for all to see - record it for posterity and remind them whenever you can of their failure!


Monday, 4 August 2014

Sending dead bodies through the post.

Last week we had a break from the Runequest as it was GM Rob's anniversary - well done sir; 4 years and they're still talking to each other as far as I know. This gave me a chance to dive back into GM Bill's Game of Thrones and as it happens, pick up my old character.
Seemed like the usual backstabbery is very much alive, if you will excuse the oxymoron, and it seems that someone is doing a tidying up job on the party. One of our witnesses in our recent trial was found drowned giving us another murder mystery as we don't feel he was a keen swimmer.
First things first, as we did sort of know the chap, our dear leader had to write a sober and conciliatory letter to his Next of Kin. This was of course dispatched with the body itself which led us to the particularly important issue of how best to transport dead bodies given the medieval technology of the time.
I recall plenty of situations when we had to get rid of dead bodies of course - easier when magicks are involved provided you don't forget about the one you had in your bag of holding - no one is short of creativity here, but when it comes to transporting them then that's a whole other barrel of worms.
We opted eventually to have it couriered back by horse aka Peasant Force but given the few days in transit there would probably be issues at the receiving end. What if the customer wasn't there to take delivery ? Well one would presume that it would be held at the local distribution warehouse for 30 days and then returned to us if no one claimed it. Not really a situation we wanted to find ourselves in really so we ticked the option to leave it with a neighbour if there was no reply at the delivery address. Basically out of sight, out of mind. The details of all this have left me wondering though and its a loose end, and loose ends are not a good on a party's equipment list in Ice and Fire - we don't want additional problems of people coming back from the grave in any sense least of all in an administrative one. As always we shall see.
On a brighter note however we did come third in the InterHouse Horse race after an exceptional performance by our Ranger - I think we would have done even better if we hadn't spent a few weeks selling our competitors our own finest stock Dorninsh horses. Oh well.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

All Hail Central Computer.

There was a brief reminiscence, at least for me, last week during a brief discussion of the RPG Paranoia.
I remember the first time I played. It was a one off game and no one was any wiser regarding this game than any other, although the GM was behaving in a bit of an odd way. Our mission was simply to guard a tank bot and ensure that it was protected from communists for the duration of our shift. Simple enough, a job for the boys.
However the penny started to drop when the bot decided it was very bored and began various self tests culminating in its deploying several dozen sheepish proximity mines that wandered around aimlessly by themselves.
Having spent 20 minutes just trying to stay alive, it became apparent that this was simply not a plausible strategy. After the first grenade went off in someone's pocket, replacement clones were rushed into the scenario like chicken wings at lunchtime. It was immense fun and I'm happy to say we learnt absolutely nothing.
Here are a few comments from club comms for anyone curious about the game.
All comments are treasonous and have been emailed to Central Computer.
Remember: happiness is mandatory.

Never run it but I've played it, it's an old classic by West End Games. I think Mongoose are still doing Paranoia since WEG vanished but WEG had a few great games under its belt.
 It's good for short adventures and one-offs and its slapstick comedy is good for more laid-back sessions.
being a mutant always appeals, though in my case it's hardly 'roleplay'.:)
With the right GM, it's a lot of fun.
(I have very clear memories of having to stand in a briefing room because the seats were the wrong colour and making use of a dog vendor near the escalators - "dogs must be carried").
Yes, I have been reading about it and sounds fun. Anyway, it's a suggestion. The good thing is it does not have to last for many sessions.
Read about someone who got a bowl of M&M's to the table and zapped anyone who ate one above their colour clearance.
Its genius. Excellent for a one session filler.
Think 1984 crossed with the marx brothers.
Grenades with a throw distance of 20 feet and an explosion radius of 50 feet.
All hail central computer!
I have been reading Paranoia supplements for years and always wanted to play!
The latest edition of the game I have (Paranoia XP), offers three different modes of play, ranging from the notorious "zap" style where everyone dies before they even get to the briefing room, through to the more longterm "straight" mode which is supposed to play more like Orwell's 1984 than Looney Toons; so it is possible to find the right balance for different players.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The other way.

Well, it appears that we went up when we should have gone down.
Still, we have a new hostage to rescue and a different crew of bandits to hack and slay. I never quite know how much wiggle room a Knight has in negotiations but I decided that 'none at all' was close to the mark and we seem to be most of the way trough our 'dialogue' with just a few scars so far.
At the end of the day everyone deserves a second chance, chaos or not, but if they are determined not to do exactly what I say then they have to be cut up into little pieces and fed to the rats. Just an opinion.
I have also heard that the Ice and Fire Game is approaching its conclusion and it would appear that the characters still have all their collective heads attached to their respective bodies after a life or death trial. As proud and relieved as they all seemed after walking out of their last game I would always advise caution in medieval intrigues. Just saying.
The use of technology in RPGs also continues to interest me - often its a race between the pressing of an button and the rolling of the die. There is a charm both in the materials and a lot left tot he imagination when using the native resources but that's what they said about stone tablets I suppose. I'm a traditionalist myself but Chris, our resident gadget guru, is pictured here with his more up to date tablet.
Obviously when he feels he has mastered the basics he will turn it over and use the correct side.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


Last week saw us proceed deeper into trouble in search of a missing village shaman. The cave complex we are in seems to have given way to architecture; apparently an ancient tower now embedded into a mountain. Normally at this point its a matter of either the left hand rule or the right hand rule, someone expendable on point and look behind you every 3.4 minutes. Given that, traditionally, towers follow an up/down sort of direction, we spent some time looking for the staircase of course. It seems however that traditional tower traversal here is in fact done by drinking from a magical fountain and then disappearing. Well, at least we left the game with the last of us having just dematerialised - it is a slight concern naturally that we may have inadvertently finished the game early but we maintain a high degree of confidence in our unshakable belief that we are not all suddenly dead. Our confidence clearly stems from the clues below, etched into the tower walls:
Now we are also of the presumption that our GM can in fact read and write perfectly well and hasn't just scrawled something akin to severe dyslexia that he thinks is perfectly legible. No, I am going with the cryptic clue interpretation as there is something in the name of the RPG that makes me think these aren't just the scribblings of a madman...

I can also assure everyone that GM Rob's attention to detail is quite authentic as he is pictured here with a particularly sharp pencil.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Broo Beer

Somewhat of a tradition for anyone on the roleplaying scene are the necessary supplies for surviving the game itself. I have been in many discussions regarding the optimum configuration of rations that a character should have but what of the players? Is there a market for Paladin Popcorn, Ranger Rolls or Cleric Crisps ? Either way, more market research needs to be done.
Our Runequest has started in style with us on the track of marauders who have recently departed a small burning village with most of its population; its a good way to get the moral lines drawn early and assess the characters abilities. Seems we are all on side at present but it may depend on how much the slaves are worth...
Here is our hand model Chris stylishly demonstrating the usefulness of his new dice rolling app; in this picture he has just rolled on the region of 2000 that crashed his phone for a while. I think we can agree on exactly how useful this will turn out to be.
The report on the Ice and Fire game from GM Bill read one word: 'Torture'. Think I'll fill in the details after I've had my Kender Kit Kat.


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Game of Thrones Season 2 and ducks.

As I happens I've have only watched the first and second season and to be honest whilst I will watch the other seasons at some point I am inevitably losing sympathy with all of the main characters and clans. They all seem to be either stupid, greedy, petulant, sadistic, juvenile or short. To be fair I wouldn't class short as a character flaw but its an irritating reason to sympathise with someone though I do understand the risks of inbreeding.

Nevertheless the Season two I am most excited about is in fact our own. The Song of Ice and Fire restarts with our own House Bequis fighting and clawing for their rightful place in the World. I don't recall a motto or coat of arms although I'm sure its been discussed; I would vote for "Backstabbing for Honour". There may be better ones.
House Bequis also gets development points for its Homestead by way of experience although its always difficult to decide between a new hedge or pond. If I recall I think we have a pond, with ducks.
Which, in my very clever journalistic style, leads me to the second announcement that we begin a new campaign in Glorantha. For everyone wanting to get into a new game at the start, now is the moment. Welcome to...

GM  Rob has the following prĂ©cis
It'll use a pre-written adventure with a pre-genned group set around the city of Pravis. The players characters will mostly be people from the Rubble, the ruins of the ancient city that surrounds the modern city and contains the various non-human races such as the elves or broo that shelter around the city. The party consists of 4 humans, 1 elf (who are *very* different from Tolkienesque elves, being living trees more akin to the Sylvari in Guild Wars 2) and 1 broo (a reformed member of a race of goat-like creatures twisted by a trinity of dark, chaotic gods into violent raiders and monsters).