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..?


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Dooom and Gloom

 The Star Trek has sort of pre started as Modiphius plays with the space time continuum within its own release window. GM Jon has kindly  stepped in with a pre Star Trak, Star Trek. Whilst he sports a couple of early systems he has gone for an original Last Unicorn implementation of the original series. Whilst it was produced by Last Unicorn Games (LUG - now absorbed in WotC) in the 90s it is an extremely nostalgic rendition in the style of a genuine late 60's Haynes Manual, More specifically the iconic artwork of typical 60s and 70s compendiums are faithfully reproduced in terms of it production style which lends itself even more faithfully to the setting of the original series - the only thing that's missing is the soft focus.

Apparently the scenario surrounds a prime directive protected pre warp planet upon which a starship has crashed - accidentally I presume. On further investigation it seems that the crew are missing along with a significant amount of advanced equipment. This has all the hall marks of a great episode and I am wondering whether it will be resolved through time travel, shooting evil aliens or sleeping with an Admiral's daughter. I shall attempt to sit down in this game for an episode depending on what the rest of the club is doing.

The DnD is on hold for another week due to our GMs night shiftyness which is always an excuse to bring out a weird card game or two. True to our constitution someone brought along a 2nd ed 'Gloom'  which is a wonderful and slightly narrative card game where each player starts with an Adams family set of characters and has to ruin their karma so much it actually kills them. Opposing players can use their cards to cheer them up so its a basic tug of war between positive and negative modifiers but if you character dies happy then their positive score counts against you whereas a fatal event for a severely disturbed character with a negative score counts for you. During each play, a story is advanced based on the action of the previous player to compile a wonderful and ridiculous adventure.

It an refreshing and creative change from desperately trying to keep characters alive.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Roleplaying Radar

Over the last week we have been casting out our roleplaying radar into the local community to see what is floating about.

This blog, whilst an ancient and revered tome, is probably not one one would choose when promoting a club, tho as I inherited it, it still tops the Google list for the sheer amount of time it has been around when one searches for roleplaying in Brighton. Despite ones opinions of Blogging we do seem to get wanderers in on a semi regular basis. whether it is shelter from the elements for a cup of tea, or someone specifically interested in something we are doing, its always interesting to meet adventurers passing through our doors and occasionally, they stay.

For our part the club is designed around  more transient, public facing experience with a hour or so of socialising followed by a couple of hours role playing - a gentle and welcoming pace I would say but with just enough time to get a sense of adventure for a newcomer and if you are lucky, a feeling of accomplishment and who knows, good friends of dubious character - or dubious friends of good character - I forget which. The format has been tinkered with but evolution has set us in our current niche. The games are short at about 3 months and synchronized so that players turn over to mix - new stuff is never far away.

Like a good TV show, some games generate spin offs in the form of home games where people can get a more in depth experience and there is also a monthly Earthdawn running for five to six hours at the local Dice Saloon role playing center as yet another opportunity to escape reality, tho there is a small cost  for the table for the day, its a pleasant albeit busy environment. There are also open Pathfinder games for passers by run by the regulars there I believe.

This last week gone some of us have also invited ourselves to a fairly new Mondays meetup event at the Craft Beer Co in upper North Street where we understand that two DnD games are running. The Meetups site is a natural place to look for RPG games and I think the North St GMs are using it as a sort of e-booking system so you have to register with each of them or get on their respective waiting lists. They start at 18:30 to 19:00 so earlier than us but I dont know if it would describe itself as a club in the sense of events being co-ordinated. However there is a specific meeting on the 21st to discuss additional games and some of us will be popping along, so I shall report back, but I can tell you now that we shall not be sheltered from the full force of retail beer costs compared to our spit and sawdust, slightly damp, late 70s, Dr Who episodic, public facing, jukebox dysfunctional, subsidised railway social club.

As 'special interests' go Brighton does seem to have a thriving roleplaying scene; ironically from my home on the 7Dials I can go North, East or South for about 10 minutes either way and hit a public roleplaying event of some sort. 

I wonder what dark forces in the West have done to veil the scene....perhaps it is just for evil parties.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Happy Ravenloft

How fitting and respects to GM Warren as he begins his DnD5e game. I had reported, entirely falsely, that he was reopening his Neverwinter realm but in pointy and fact he has begun a Ravenloft adventure for the Halloween season. Despite entering many of the DnD worlds, I have never played in a Ravenloft and ironically as the opportunity presents itself now, it seems I am poised to warp off to the Star Trek playtest. Though now I come to mention it I don't see why we couldn't have some sort of mash up - have there been any Star Trek episodes with vampires in ? I am struggling to recall all of the 726 episodes but I think it would be a master stroke to have a dead character as part of the new crew for the forthcoming series. When I say dead, I don't mean a specifically farcical lifeless corpse that keeps being put in the right place at the right time to save the day and work its way up to captain, I mean a bona fide entity that needs a corpse to inhabit - just imagine exploring the human condition as it relates to its mortality - you only have to look at the Egyptian obsession with death cults to see how an entire civilisation can be shaped or perhaps the dark Afro American backdrop of the Voodoo culture. 

Oddly enough I have commented on more than one occasion regarding GM Warren's night shift patterns and can't actually say I have seen him in full sunlight, though during the lighter months we have casually chatted in the shadows. Either way, I am not one to judge but there remains much unspoken in our weekly meetings and he has received the due title of Daywalker.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Modiphius mortality

Whilst Star Trek has always been formative across the generations and a popular diversion from parody to philosophy, there hasn't really been an opportunity to froth about it properly on this blog. There were some brief conversations last week at the club as to how certain things will be handled mechanically together with the overarching backgrounds to the various series. Much can only be learnt when we literally roll out the play test but, understandably, one of the first questions on a role players mind when approaching new systems and creating characters is how easy is it to die ?

These issues are prevalent in the Star Trek universe.

Whilst I can understand that in a horror game this is a more pressing issue, it often comes down to tentacles, teeth or claws. Basically a character may not see a vampire coming but a player would not necessarily be surprised to face a grisly death. But at the frontier of space exploration, alien cultures and creatures one would have no idea whether a small purple cube is in fact an air freshener or weapon of mass destruction or indeed both. Pile on top of this that certain cultures may insist on killing several ambassadors as a mark of respect before establishing trade relations, one can see the importance of a non expendable communications officer.

Further piling on top of this is another layer of sleek, stylish and occasionally reliable Starfleet ships systems - Starships are inherently dangerous places particularly with their notorious exploding consoles, transporter glitches, leaking plasma conduits and eminently bypassable security systems. Its a wonder we ever left the planet, but tracing Starfleet Engineering Core's history back to the days of Cochrain banging on a warp core with a spanner in one hand and beer bottle in the other, things start to make a little more sense.

So in the 24th century it would still seem prudent to cross ones fingers when flushing the turbo toilet.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Winter is still coming

The darkening of days and the chafing bone chiling winds are calling adventurers forth for their next realm as we have completed the rituals required to announce the next set of games..

GM Warren has declared a seasonal DnD 5e and will enter the land of Neverwinter once more. A solid favorite and stalwart system now, the 5e always get enthusiastic players so book your space when you can.

In a boldly contrast, GM John will be running a pre release test of the Modiphius implementation of the Star Trek universe. This does interest me - one of the many nice things about an RPG club is that someone is always looking at something new and opportunities for play testing and community feedback are a real chance to engage. See what I did there? Though I think Jon's environment will be pre Next Gen, though there could be time travel...or space gods...or green women. I have to say there is an overwhelming urge to roll up several redshirt security guards for the adventure and work my way through them but I feel that this would not be helpful even tho an Alpha Red security clearance would definitely be more appropriate in the original series.

The StarTrek play test release is due at the beginning of November according to the planetary database,, this means that we will get a couple of weeks of a something. People bring all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff from the dark and amusing corners of the internet but I will bring along a short Chill to span Halloween if it appeals. Whilst many gamers hold great opinions and passions over their mechanics, I am more of a fan of keeping things simple, which means I am often drawn to the 2nd Ed Star Wars where virtually everything is resolved on one D6 table and also I like percentile systems such as Cthulu, MERP and indeed Chill. Straight percentages are just so easy to map to events in general although Chill does divide them into Low, Medium, High and Colossal depending on how close you roll to the upper and lower bounds of your skill score - so if you have a target roll at 60 and roll a check of 05 (low being good), its a colossal roll as its in the top 10% of the target number. This can generate a few fractions but are basically ignored..

So we shall see where the runes fall for the forthcoming characters in their various games and whether they will make it to Christmas.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Walking Disney

In true faffing style we have managed to stretch out the games for another week which buys us valuable time to carry out our quarterly bloodletting rituals and sacrificial ceremonies with regard to the next set of adventures. 

In a previous Strike post I had documented concern as to  how on earth we were going to take out a Genie. Despite all the experience and intelligence of a small determined group of role players its really took about an hour of arguing before a possible situation presented itself. It would appear that in this timeline of wartime London and entire fantasy realm has been created simply for the amusement of our absconded super villain, Aladdin.

Where there should be a hardened Capital city during the Blitz, there are mountains, lagoons and flying pirate ships. More accurately it seems that evil Aladdin is a roaring fan of the Peter Pan franchise. Presumably after discovering his own immortilisation by the Disney corporation he has come across all manner of entertainments and the scenario we are presented was a battle between Hook and Pan himself, with Tinkerbell in the mix.

Somewhat taken off guard on how to proceed we waited until the skirmish was over with a view to taking over Hooks ship, giving us at least a distraction if not a solution to defeating the Genie. Of course it is the case that we don't actually need to defeat the Genie as such, we just need to separate it from Aladdin whilst we lever him against us capturing his girlfriend, Princess Jasmine - or constructive, socially aware, eco-friendly kidnapping as I would like to refer to it.

Fortunately, after the battle, Hook took his ship across London to raid for supplies, where we were waiting in a local shop for his minions to appear. Having subdued them and subsumed their identities we returned to Hooks ship with zombie pirates in tow, with the aim of dominating the rest of the crew in turn. Despite however making colossally crap rolls of a 1 and a 2 on my D6, we did worm our way out of being keeled hauled by promising to help Hook capture the Pan (Tho being keel hauled on a flying ship perhaps isn't that bad)! Blinded by his revenge and somewhat shallow incarnation, he has avidly agreed to take us on board so to speak, whereupon we can slowly convert the lovable rogues of the Jolly Roger into the grotesque and murderous brigands of the Flying Dutchmen - Peter Pan meets Pirates of the Caribbean. I for one are looking forward to a tiny undead Tinkerbell.

Unfortunately I cant stop to think about this scenario too much otherwise I will freak out but for now we are committed to cartoon carnage and turning the Disney romp into more of a Minecraft hack and slash. Well at least its a plan.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Off Road

Its always a bitter sweet moment as a game draws to a close and also a slightly paranoid one as well. Both GMs indicate that their games have about a session left, but it is often the case that players can have a very different opinion about this, so do watch this space.

Whether its not wanting to let go of a character that you feel you are just getting to know or just not wanting to leave things undone, there can be a sense of players just not stopping. I wouldn't necessarily say that this is character momentum as it can equally be a result of disorganization, fumbles in game or the sheer obsession of a party's mindset. Basically straying from the path is technically a separate adventure in and of itself and more often in GMing I see the glazed look of a crazy idea solidify across a players face and transform into rational determination and he shoots off into the distance in search of experience points.

Whilst we joke about this sort of thing in the Roleplaying community all the time this would make a good Derren Brown episode. The extent to which someone can convince them self can be enormous bordering even on hypnotic; arguing is one thing but once an internal psychological battle has been won then there is no reserve and beyond this it is only at the stage of being surrounded by dead bodies that one stops to ask 'so how did this happen...'. Its one thing to bring yourself down a peg or two but another to explain that to the local law enforcement. Excepting of course those that thrive on genocide which is always a bit worrying when we catch up on some other peoples gaming news over the past week....

Anyway, despite the club game cycles being relatively short at about 2 to 3 months, longer campaigns can simply be chopped into chapters which is more satisfying I think. We have some long standing campaigns that are still open such as GM Julian's excellent Warhammer Fantasy and Gm Bill's Game of Ice and Fire where we are forever upgrading our Homestead duck by duck to eventually overthrow Kings Landing. I fully expect this to be the Finale of the TV show.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

I remember Talisman....

Given that last week GM Jack was on holiday, our Gary brought in his copy of Talisman. Now it seems that when you ask a lot of role players about Talisman, you often get a distant look in their eyes and the response, '...I remember Talisman', like trying to recall where you left your car keys in 1985.

Its an odd one as tho there have been several versions it just seems to evoke exactly the same heartwarming experience as an old Mr Kipling Apple Pie advert; the board looks to me like it's never changed.

The game comprises several character classes with Strength (attack), craft (magic points) and life (life) tho with a varying alignment. The board comprises 3 realms to negotiate to achieve the Crown of Command in the center of the action. What I really like are the massive stack of items, followers and enemies which become trophies if you kill them. It generates a huge space of possible circumstances for a player and also, as the game goes on, more resources are gained and more stats can be raised - a sort of levelling up. Notwithstanding of course that one can also lose what one gains and if characters land on the same square they do have the option to attack each other.

There are shady and welcoming places on the map which appeal to various character demeanors and also just generally dangerous caves, crags and graveyards where monsters can lurk. Once an adversary is exposed in a place it will stay there until slain and its body claimed as a trophy, so the realm slowly populates with creatures and items as the game progresses.

For our session, Gary's character got killed off quite quickly so he went from a Dwarf fighter to an Assassin. My humble Monk made steady progress but whet up to a more dangerous realm before he was ready and died off (though he was weak mainly thanks to Fade attacking me with his Ghoul on several occasions). The Ghoul in question just generally fared badly as Ghouls do but it was Nick's Priestess that was the actual winner who made it as far as the third realm with all his finesse and heavily upgraded character. Though I would credit Fade as the spiritual winner playing his Ghoul in fantastic style just wandering to and from the graveyard - occasionally into the Chapel where he would burn in the light but did so anyway just to scare the nuns. When he wasn't in his graveyard, freaking out the clergy or biting other players he was being ignored in the village.

All told after a couple of hours hilarity it really felt like we had an adventure rather than a game but despite the occasional snakes and ladders issues of getting knocked back randomly it was wonderful to play it again. I daresay I'll pick it up again in another 30 years.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Old Lamps for New

What is the most powerful adversary one can imagine? One could roll out a number of super villains perhaps, or indeed alien lifeforms bent on domination, xenocide or simply an instinct to kill, There are sinister and subtle nemeses in the form of irradiated particles, bacteria of the like that rescued us from 19th century martians or the humble virus; corporate, as engineered by Umbrella, or natural, in the case of the planet simply wanting to wipe the slate clean and start again.

One could be more straightforward such as a natural disaster from great floods to a hail of meteorites, but then again we have Bruce WIllis. We could be set upon by vampires, tough we have  sunlight and in the case of Werewolves we have silver. With regard to aliens we have Captain Picard and in the case of viral dangers we have Milla Jovovich.

There are the inherent flaws such as man's appetite for self destruction, loathing, control and bad hygiene but in order for evil to exist within us there must also be good and where there is body odour there are deodorants.

The point is that the more I think about it the more these are all straw men - each opponent or dilemma comes neatly prepacked with its retrospective antidote. One could even make an argument for cliche in the human struggle.

No, it has struck me that ineptitude should have been the eighth deadly sin. The option that the world would end with a whimper or possibly even an apology. The real dangers are the Homer Simpsons of the world and of course and there is a little Homer Simpson in all of us - he has no adversary, constraint or education and he is thoroughly likable. No one fears him and so he is expediently allowed to press important buttons at random.

I theorize that our game of  Strike could be approaching such a moment - we will soon be up against a Genie; or in other words a voice controlled interface of stupendous and indifferent power. Whether it will be us or someone else wishing for something, I don't think it matters, there is a distinct possibility of wiping out all reality in a fit of bad grammar.

At present we are fighting mutant Gorillas attacking the Great Wall of China in its medieval hay day. More precisely an escaped chemist/shaman is devolving people into a vast hairy army to conquer ancient China and to prove this theory via the proper scientific method our dear Nick has been dipping spiders into Gorilla serum, producing some form of grotesque, godforsaken Spiderape,

Never give a curious player random potions.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Earthdawn Sundays

Whilst the club meets on a Thursday provide a wonderful nexus for RPG cross chat and an excellent chance to try new games, with a relatively speaking high turn over, the evening is basically quite short providing a typical session of between two to two and a half hours of role playing. Added to this that transportation volatility and the general bustle of weekday life can mean further variation in play. Also, despite the weird and wonderful yesteryear environment of a Victorian converted 70s style social club, it can be a somewhat alien experience for newcomers. All things being equal though there is free space for games, cheap beer for those that seek it and a jukebox installed with a Genuine People Personality chip from the Sirius Cybernetics corporation.

So in an almost Zen like counterbalance GM Warren has installed a monthly/ whenever anyone can make it session at the local Dice Saloon RPG centre. The advantage of this is a proper session for a few hours that you can get your teeth into in a dedicated and decorated environment without weekday stress and the need to get pissed. I am very pleased to see that the Dice Saloon is still around given a very difficult market but that the gaming spaces available for rent do potentially give us another home from home with coffee reasonably priced as I understand it. It will be interesting to see how this evolves.

Anyways, at the moment an Earthdawn scenario has begun. I do have an old Earthdawn book kicking around and remember finding the spell system quite complex given the use of matrixes (which I guess is the proper plural form in magical circles), but never actually had a go. The game has begun in an underground citadel, or kaer, during a time of plague that is afflicting some of the Elves as well as a string of inexplicable suicides, Whilst the malady seems to be incurable its origins are mysterious - a previous  kaer expedition looking into this having since failed to return. It seems our party have had more luck if you can call it that by way of coming across some poisonous mutated plants and other vile creatures. Just a matter of connecting the dots whilst not being flayed alive I suspect.

Good luck to the I say and I hope to pop in for a session. In the usual Thursday slots, the Strike continues with a battle at Strike HQ and the Numenera is ongoing with no reported fatalities as yet.