Thursday, 31 March 2016

Do Griffins lay eggs ?

It seems that Easter got the better of us last week at the club. People were away doing chocolaty things with family or on holiday enjoying themselves so not much to report other then half a dozen drunken role-players collectively failing their "get off their arses role". Nevertheless it was a pleasant enough evening catching up with everyone. So if you cant fight international giant fluffy bunny conspiracies then I say join them so here by way of seasonal reflection are my top three choices for Great Eggs of Notoriety.
Clearly there is everyone's favourite nightmare;
in Spacemaster, no one can her you scream.
There is in fact an Aliens roleplaying game, 1991 by Leading Edge Game, and for some reason I do have a character sheet for this. It must have been a one off many, many moons ago and whilst I am not proud, its one of those things that just happen when you are young and care free. Still definitely one of an evening should a regular game not be happening, though I wouldn't rate anyone's chances - a sort of Cthulu that cuts straight to a grisly death.
Lest I fail to state the obvious we will all be aware of the potential party omelette that is the Dragon Egg, whilst ubiquitous I have never actually seen any stats for one - size, hit points, weight, calories etc.. From my experience, given that their primary skill is to mostly roll around in a slightly unpredictable manner, they are more specifically a plot hatching device. Dragon Eggs are often prized by collectors and more often prized by their mothers. Out of curiosity it has just got me wondering about the lineage of Phoenix eggs. Does a Phoenix actually have a parent or is it simply immortal, reincarnating over and over again. Actually I recall that a phoenix rises from its ashes rather than hatching from an egg so perhaps it is the only member of the avues that does not lay.
Finally, an egg literally after my own heart, and one I spent many teenage hours gleefully giving the run-around, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Burger Time egg
A subtle creature, not fast by any means but quite deadly when it is upon you. It has the demeanour of a gelatinous cube and lumbers inevitably like a zombie but is much more intelligent and will even coordinate with its other evil cohorts, the dredded Saussage and the fearsome Pickle. It is a latter day sunny side up terminator.
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Moreso I think when its trying to kill you.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Flying theives

Its not the fist time I have had a mage go rogue in a game. Its often the case, particularly at mid levels that you pick up enough spells of diversity to accomplish a range of tasks and when given a small goal to accomplish a wizard can quickly piece a plan together that he feels can be executed without aid - power can be dizzying. In the last MERP for example the mage decided to do some scouting inside a formerly abandoned building on behalf of the party and even though Nick is relatively new to roleplaying, he quickly pieced together a solo plan - fly over to the roof, open a skylight, cast a landing spell to jump down safely onto the first floor, and throw up an earth wall to obstruct the corridor so his back was covered and  finally shrink himself to keep out of sight. 

This reminds me of those fiendish garden puzzles constructed for squirrels by people who couldn't get on a proper Phd to see exactly how clever nuts are. Or likewise give a crow or magpie a twig and see if they cant work out how to pick a lock, assemble a small shed or indeed set a trap for the aforementioned squirrel. Either way fortune favoured the special forces magic user and despite the fact the first floor nearly broke under the weight of a ton of earth, the day was won. What exactly they have won remains to be seen however but it can go to show what is possible when the dice roll on the upside and a plan comes together.
There are costs and dangers however - magic users in MERP have a fixed number of power points to spend each day and whilst one can use them to get mops and buckets dancing to tidy the tower, it can be the case that there aren't enough left when the Balrog pops in for tea. Needless to say that mages are also glass cannons and behind enemy lines, glass remains just as fragile as anywhere else.

So I have got the measure of the party now both in axes and staffs but as they are doing the equivalent of bargain hunting in Mordor, interest in their activities may well be in the rise.

It also appears the at 14th Age is on the cards as GM Bill reopens his world of bronze age myths during the Great Fall... I played in this one last time and its a shame I am running as its great fun.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Myth, merp and magic

Like many Tolkien fans who are also roleplayers its always an extra pleasure to be involved with, let alone run, a Middle Earth Campaign. Whilst I do love  hack and slay in most of its forms and really appreciate the accessibility of something like DnD the sheer scope, detail and depth of Tolkien's world give not just an enormously rich background of content but also in many cases a reminiscence to part of an adolescence buried in his books. I very much suspect I would have got into much more trouble as a kid if it wasn't for keeping my idle hands busy turning the pages of the Middle Earth. But the formality and detailing of the myth can potentially create a rather dry experience for the players, and it is the experience of the players that count. Above all a game must, by definition, be fun. In this respect I will always bend the rules and this is never more evident than in magic. I do note that Vincent brought one of the most recent sourcebooks which seemed to me to deliberately lack a lot of the fantasy side of things whereas I am happy enough wallowing in 2nd ed.
At about about 5th level the spell lists do actually start to get quite powerful with Mages picking up fire and ice bolts as well as levitation. Flying and teleportation are not much later in the lists and the mentalist spells of the Bards as well as the healing of the Animists can out balance against a non magic using Warrior. As such I tend to give a fighter a couple of extra levels in compensation and a magic weapon.
Of course hubris and power can be balanced against a party's enemies easily enough but also against the culture of the world - basically throwing spells around in towns is likely to get you burned at the steak so it good to have an inherent respect for invocation. Magic is also generally portrayed as being ultimately destructive for Middle Earth in that most magical creatures that inhabit the land are, generally speaking, not supposed to be there. This is typified by the wisdom of Gandalf; given his enormous power, it was tempered by his physical form of an elderly man and where his influence is seen it is often subtle and very gentle - with the exception of the Balrog of course where I just think he lost his temper and needed to blow off steam after a few thousand years.
Anyhows the initial gateway drug for the game are the films of course so I hope its accessible enough for anyone who has seen them but for anyone else wanting to scratch the surface, you can get an glimpse of the incredible depth of the world through an amateurish but surprisingly intricate set of six videos in 'The History of Arda'

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Don't meet your maker

One of the fun aspects of our club is the wonderfully long preamble we get as role players sitting around and having a catch up before the games begin. Some of us wander in as early as 7:30 and others a little later but as often is the case in scenarios, our adventures start in the bar, literally. Now for those who are early there is the occasion when one will manage to squeeze in an extra drink to fuel the wonderfully bizarre conversations we tend to have. More in keeping, when a group of imaginative and lightly inebriated role players get together we seem to continually generate ideas for games that are clearly magnificent. Sadly much of our Gnome like ramblings have been lost to the mists of sobriety over the following week but I successfully recall that we concocted the best card game in the world yet again by the name of  "Don't meet your maker".
This is a game where you play an extremely old character in a nursing home and have to contend with the day to day challenges of survival, gaining privileges as you go, such as navigating short corridors, avoiding wheelie trolleys and eating all of your food without spilling it. There are boosters you can use in the way of medication and nurses to help you achieve your goals but of course Doctors, stern administrators and visiting family members, trousers and confusing toys are all foes to contend with. Life span can be given out as a reward as tasks are accomplished and the odd fall may mean you don't make it to the end of the day. Its all about getting to bed safely and on time.
OK, so its only a fuzzy outline like many things on a Thursday but the sheer million dollar ideas we generate should at least get us onto Dragons Den and we do know how to deal with dragons.
Anyhow, this week sees the MERP continuing and I believe GM Rob is forming a Numenera, a sci fi world of possibilities which balances our offering nicely between Fantasy and Sci Fi. Get yourself along!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Brave new Worlds

Time to turn as the Paladin says. The Feng Shui and DnD games closed last week and we are now holding our usual conclave, burning incense and reading as many goat entrails as we can to discover what exciting games to run next.
The club has experimented with various methods of game turn over in the past including running longer campaign type games to alternating pairs of games every other week. There is no perfect solution I think as if there is a long campaign it can be the case that the player base rotates too much for consistency and if someone is not enjoying an adventure it can be a long wait for the next one. Whereas the shorter games don't give the full immersion of a longer adventure, they can nevertheless be run in chapters so we do revisit old favourites like GM Bill's Game of Thrones or GM Warren's Call of Cthulu. The nice thing about the shorter games is that one is never far from a change and an opportunity to experience something new and we do very well running our fair share of weird and wonderful systems that I wouldn't ordinarily come across.
So peering into the crystal fog of our yahoo community group it transpires that we could have a Talislanta from GM Rob, I have put forward a MERP if there is interest but there is also talk of another 13th age also. Seems like the next few months may well be fantasy related but good to get back to ye ole hack'n'slash.
So its a call to arms for anyone thinking of coming back to the club or anyone looking to start a new adventure - strike now and don't fumble.