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


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


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.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Power of 3

As we are being quite popular at the moment and earning a few more gold coins for our Railway Inn, a little clarification for the interweb is needed I think regarding the games that have sort of settled now for this round of play.

Star Trek, the initial play packets from Modiphius have arrived and GM Jon is taking the first players through its metrics boldly going where no roleplayer has gone before. Appropriately a science fiction background to an analytical gaming approach but after the first session the players were positive enough to stand around in freezing cold weather after the club turned out, espousing its virtues. Seems like a positive start and it will develop rapidly I am sure.

Here is some clever copying and pasting

"As the crews of the U.S.S. Venture, U.S.S. Bellerophon, U.S.S. Thunderchild, explore strange anomalies and discover new life while uncovering an ancient civilization and mysterious technologies, those aboard the U.S.S. Lexington will shape historical events for those very ships."

From SciFi we move to fantasy; in the Ravenloft D&D 5e Adventure GM Warren is trying to bait and bite players with a Werewolf at present. As vicious and challenging as these monsters are I would note on behalf of would be adventurers to his realm is that this is where there story begins. What is waiting for you later on is likely to be far less amenable to dog treats.

Finally we have A Horror by the name of Chill. Currently in its 3rd edition, tho  I procured a set of 2nd ed books at a only a few pounds each so we are currently playing classic style. I have always described it as a quick fix Cthulu but to be fair it has its own investigation phase. I will keep it episodic so that the game can close or continue easily depending on numbers but at present our party, consisting of  Envoys as part of an international organisation called SAVE, are on the case of an entity known as the Hangman apparently responsible for the deaths of a number of transients and also a State police officer. Pieces are starting to fall into place for the current case but there have been no arrests as yet..tho our intrepid Envoys are closing in on something..

So the full spectrum is on for would be gamers out there who can pick between the worlds of SciFi, fantasy or horror. So if you're looking for a game outside of those genres then I can only suggest you go and make your own universe and bring it along.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Green Girls

Seems like drama has been surrounding more than one of the new Star Trek universes. GM Jon has completed his pre Star Trek Star Trek and has now had the first missives from Mordiphius as their playtest undocks. In reverse order they are apparently feeding us the Next Generation first and then by a twist of time travel the earlier series comes later. This will of course be very interesting in and of itself but as purveyors of the trade a play test has special interest for us as a club. I expect no less than two hundred opinions on various aspects of the game and hopefully by the end of the run we will have thrashed out the complete compendium of Starfleet Rules and Regulations. 

There is also drarma in the real world of Science Fiction as some of you may be aware that the upcoming series Discovery is also making its media present by way of the first castings but more importantly there has been significant controversy over the new ship.

Aesthetics can be a blurry subject and in futuristic scenarios will often split the audience or indeed crew, but for my part I come heavily down on the lazy bastards side of the argument. Over the generations there have been distinct efforts with regard to Starfleet ship evolution and there are various apologetic videos squeezing the Discovery design into the fleet lineup but basically, bollocks. Someone in the design team got out a compass and set square and had an early lunch. What do you get if you join a circle onto a triangle ? Well you get a circle and a triangle joined together. I do hope that the sheer nafness can enhance the experience in the same way as wobbly bits of soft focus sixties special effect.

As club numbers are up at the moment I had occasion to run an impromptu Chill but as it was originally intended for two sessions of about four players I couldn't quite squeeze it into one evening particularly as I had six players - immediately splitting the party up and shooting the good guys. What could I have possibly expected? Still, a game is afoot for the next occasion and the investigation phase is definitely giving way to the grisly death section.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

A quiet revolution

So this Monday I popped down to the Craft Beer Co pub at the top of North St to see what all the virtual fuss was about on the Prime Internet Plane. Having survived the initial encounter with the bar staff thee is much to report...

Firstly there is the Hero, Simon Appleton, who has been running the Brighton Boardgamers for many years and as people were telling me, the interest in RPGs have grown to the point where he pulled up his socks, girded his loins, dusted off his glasses and spurred off a specific meetup internet group to handle the growing interest. This last Monday saw an Entmoot to welcome new players and coordinate GMs - I suppose a bit like a fast dating event where people can sample each other before exchanging bodily fluids. And speaking of fluids I did pry the bar staff to impress upon me their lightest and finest ale of repute, to which I received my due but at the princely bargain of £2.80 !! This is going to spur a serious debate in and of itself being 30p less that we get in our social club. Nevertheless I digress. 

Deciding to turn up 20 minutes late just to be cool I levitated my pint upstairs and was shocked to find myself jammed in a doorway due to the sheer number of interested parties crammed into the event. I counted at least 25 before I stopped. But it all started to make sense as each GM introduced themselves and offered up what they intended to run. There certainly weren't enough tables upstairs for all the games to be seated but a lot of the GMs were intending to start a game in the new year and not necessarily on the night. I also got the impression that the pub will prioritize other paid events so I can see on occasion the role players having to give way. Simon mentioned to me that space was indeed an issue, specifically in the classical Newtonian sense. After the meeting many left as others were sitting down to play so as interesting as it was to get the lay of the land I shall pop in on a 'normal' evening and see if I can get an impression of how things work during a typical week and also to see how many of the new players actually found a game. Nevertheless what wonderful people. But the bottom line is that our GMs should be posting our games on the meetup site also when we revolve..or whenever they need new players

On this note we have also had an up welling of interest through our doors and for now a few new visitors are staying to sample the universes we have on offer and typically, last week, even despite a couple of regulars missing, 14 people turned up.

This is definitely grounds for a new game at this point and although I have been carrying a Chill around in my back pocket during the games rotation, typically I didn't bring it last week, Nevertheless our Gary rescued the evening with a hearty Talisman.

Oh, and I accidentally bought  DMG over the weekend but more of that in another blog, except to say that the most venerable proprietors at the Dice Saloon also told me that there has been a bit of an upsurge in DnD sales and enquiries at their end. What on earthdawn is going on..?