Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Prison Break

Finally being able to speak to people without inflicting 1D8 acid damage on them meant I had the pleasure of catching up with everyone at the club last week and it seems like the games have been busily rolling along. 

I had reports from the Warhammer that the entire party had somehow ended up in jail. I didn't particularly push as to why as in my experience criminals are usually full of angry, bitter recriminations and I would probably have to take each of the players aside to make a formal statement in order to piece together the bigger picture. Besides, I wouldn't want anyone to stop talking to each other on my account. Either way without having to avoid an awkward conversation, I was told that they had cleverly broken themselves out but sadly had immediately got themselves re-incarcerated again. This would make for a very short Prison Break series but of course the game is not over yet and will fill in the blog when I know more.

Boldly over to the Star Trek, it seems that Klingons are particularly strict when it comes to data protection policy. From what I understand, one of the Starfleet officers had beamed aboard an enemy ship in order to download data from the ship's log. In accordance with Imperial Data Protection Orders, the diary was in fact tied to the ships self destruct mechanism. Complications being what they are it seems that the bridge section did manage to eject itself before the rest of the hull detonated. Single handedly taking out a Klingon ship would be worth a lot of experience points I would imagine but not sure if it counts unless that was your original objective..

Finally in the Part Time Gods, we are beginning to be pawns in a larger game as it seems that a ruthless killer is pulling strings to get some of us together with other pantheon members presumably in order to kill two birds with one stone. My rat catcher smells a trap as I am alone with another hapless part time god after receiving an anonymous call out to an office block. However there is a very suspicious cleaning lady doing cleaning things so unless its a double buff, she is going to get taken out first along with her super mops if things get dirty...

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Dark Matters

Whilst I am still declaring myself quarantined due to feeling like I have been French kissing Darth Vader for a month, my mind has been freed to wander the cosmos and as a result I can now confirm that we have made significant inroads to solving the Dark Matter issue that has been plaguing physicists for many years. For those who aren't doing VHT Physics (Very Heavy Things), a significant amount of the matter in the Universe is in fact missing, though its effects can be explicitly observed. Apparently the experts have been looking everywhere, including Ebay and the Dark Web, but to no avail.

Drawing inspiration from our current Star Trek game, role players gain a unique insight into such problems of course and it was clear to us in an instant that there is an avenue to the Fermi paradox that would explain both the lack of extraterrestrial communications as well as accounting for suspiciously absent things, namely, Cloaking Devices. If you consider large fleets of warships all pumping out energy, ie mass, to keep their cloaks running then already you can envisage a warlike species mass manufacturing such ships that would be all but invisible except to indirect measurements. And whilst I hear you all trolling that even vast fleets of Klingon ships could never account for most of the missing matter in the Universe, I would direct your attention to the fact that Romulan ships also have cloaking technology and that said ships are in fact powered black holes. QED.

Klingons are real of course, but there are also rules that govern hiding away large amounts of stuff in fantasy games - for example putting a bag of holding into another bag of holding is something that should always be encouraged if you are not actually participating in a game - combining extra dimensional spaces is both fun and rewarding..

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Lich phones

So I was drunk and talking to a role player this week, or possibly I was drunk and I was talking to someone who I thought was a role player.. or I suppose its also possible I was drunk and there was no one there at all. But more importantly there was definitely a conversation involving at least one person with the possibility of additional non-corporeal entities of some kind in attendance on the subject of green wearable technologies. This may not have been a coincidence in so far as there may be a number of individuals who have "crossed over" with a particular interest in the subject.

Like most people, I have been an avid fan of the wind up radio and there are also a number of finely crafted kinetic watches on the market now. The technological age continues to augment our already unbelievably happy lives by also offering us the possibility of devices that operate using nothing less than our own electrically generated current. A bit like a potato light bulb I suppose; certainly in the case of some people I know.

Now, kinetic energy is one thing, and I don't have any problem in principal generating lots of short fast movements whilst making the kettle boil for a cup of tea, though I might struggle to make one for a friend at the same time, I would heartily make the effort. But where exactly is my electricity coming from..? If there is anything in the world like life force, then surely this would be it. Given then that I could be attached to several brand named products happily feeding on my life energy at any one time, what exactly happens when my life force drops below zero ? and by how much ? Are we talking feeling like a zombie for a day ? Or are we in Lich territory here?

As a species we do need to keep on top of all of these methods of extinction and I fear that I have come upon yet another but for now just make sure you wrap yourself in insulation before going to bed to ensure a good nights recharging.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Food for thought

As I have been I'll with the phage over the last couple of weeks I have been left with no other choice but to let my mind wander on the subject of role playing. Never takes long to raise an eyebrow tho, Vulcans not withstanding, as I have come across a new initiative, possibly quite literally.

Seems that munchies at the tabletop are now entering a new dimension as a German pastry cosplayer by the name of Sonja has made an entree into the market by producing a full range of sugar based edible dice. Now I can see some issue there to be fair as we do consume a fair number of Onion Rings of an evening but I admire the business model of allowing customers to eat their tools as it should provide a fairly constant income stream. Not sure if it would be wise to extend the approach to character miniatures, terrain relief or edible paper but a particularly tasty enemy would struggle on the Darwinian scale.

If however you are more of a chocaholic rather than a sugar addict then sadly I have to tell you that the indegogo "Candlyize your game" only manged to hit %2 of its funding goal. Whilst I understand the candy  market is very competitive, I suspect that the market for lovingly crafted chocolate polyhedrons is actually quite a small one, but one has to admire their excellent video.

"For warriors that know the bitter taste of defeat"

Perhaps on a more seasonal note, something along the lines of Bunnies vs Face Huggers is more to your taste. Anyways, Happy Easter.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Mirror Universe

It was my pleasure to pop down and see everyone at the Craft Beer RPG club last Monday. Much as on other occasions its always nice to chat with familiar strangers and swap mutually embarrassing stories. This time round I had a brief catch up with Simon Appleton who continues to support the scene and who was also promoting his Larp event in Pulborough scheduled for the summer. We were also frothing about the latest version of Paranoia (25th Anniversary Edition), though I hadn't realised it went from 2nd edition to 5th edition in honour of its own dysfunctional narrative and I also didn't realise that Microsoft requested the creators to change the name of the ParanoiaXP series. Luckily Microsoft is our friend and we can trust them.

The Meetup was well attended overall with several GMs touting their wares; my favourite being a "Honey Heist" one page rpg one shot where you play one of several bears on a mission to steal the aforementioned honey. There are of course two stats: Bear and Criminal.

There were also a few D&D games getting their share of attention and by the end of the evening everyone had someone to talk to. As a predominantly virtual organisation I never know quite what to make of the club as there is no particular indicator as to the overall number of games or players, but the semi regular meetings do seem to keep topping up interest on the back of lively scene; its a sort of mirror universe to our venue I feel. Nevertheless I represented the Railway Club admirably and made everyone aware that they would always be welcomed with frozen lasagne and a very friendly punch in the face.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018


RIP Stephen Hawking 1942-2364

Games are healthily chugging away in clubland at the moment. When I say healthily this is with respect to the fact that I did see almost the entire Warhammer group rolling up characters a couple of weeks ago; whether this was a result of going a level up or a hit point down I am unsure. Nevertheless I have mastered the habit of nodding encouragingly when I have no idea what people are talking about.

Not sure if there was any free press in the Star Trek universe.. a quick mental riffle through my favorite episodes is not revealing anything but now I think about it, perhaps a press officer could have been a good addition to one of the crew, though I will get an update from GM Jon in due course.

Both the Exalted and Part time Gods are in full swing now and people are starting to get into character. In the Exalted we are after some black petals and in the PT Gods we are sort of trying to solve a murder, as Gods belong to a particular ethnic minority that you cant really ignore - Immortal Lives Matter.

This Monday is also the Entmoot at the Craft Beer Co and I will go down to say hi as usual and catch up with the community and I am on the verge of kicking off a Mondayish D&D as Thursdays are full now but not absolutely sure I can do two days in a week. Think I like the idea of it tho and I suspect I'll make the decision half way through my ramblings on the night.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018


So there has been a subtle and yet critical shift in the Googleverse of late. For a long time as travelling souls wandered into our establishment they would alight on our tables I would cordially ask "So how exactly did you find us ?". Among the numerous, inaudible and occasionally sarcastic comments I would regularly be told "The Blog" and so it has been for millenia.

However our great mystical stones of knowledge have seemingly passed into lore and now we are now firmly in the great Bronze age of informations as our monolithic tome is now firmly second on the list of roleplaying options in Brighton having been subsumed into the great social bucket that is Meetup.com
This has been reflected in our conversations for about a year as visitors now exclusively say "Meetups" when interrogated for information about their past and events transpiring in the outside world. This is not so bad really as we are just one big community and although the Meetups site has been designed primarily to serve  the social network based around the Craft Beer Co, it servers very well for us too as we have a fairly generic entry advertising our Thursday wares. Moreover I occasionally bump in to some of our members whenever I go down there.

The point of all this is that basically There is another upcoming Entmoot on the 19th of March and whereas I usually let everyone know that there is a Thursday club frothing away merrily, there seems little point in telling everyone that we are full and that no one is welcome. So it's actually decision time, do I take a D&D to a spare day in the week and sow the seeds of another band of bards or do I just pull my trousers down at the next Meetups meetup and stand my ground ?

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Snow Wars

Even fantasy worlds can be hit with bad weather it seems and with our neck of the planet due for Hoth like terrain over the next couple of days it may be a case of board games at the ready for tomorrow evening depending if GMs lose their way in the white biting winds of winter. I imagine it would be the Day After Tomorrow if GM Max can't make it down the steps of his building and across to the club and I have my backup AT-AT if I need support pacing about two hundred meters so to be fair, other GMs may have to be more sensible, but we shall see.

Last week saw the Exalted move into mystery murder territory as our rather marvelous Kabouki theater company had its lead actor poisoned on stage. This did not impress our nobles who had gathered to the event and they subsequently walked out asking for their money back. I suspect in this case we have a weird union issue going on as the owner of the theater hasn't been paying his dues to the local workers party so whilst I am not surprised that there was comeback, we are now involved.

To be fair I would have thought that it would be the epitomy of an actors career to die on stage; what more fitting way than to do an Olly Reed and go out raising hell and raising a glass. Either way we now have a vacancy for a lead in a Japanese style spiritual epic; which I find weird as Exalted is already a sort of Manga environment and the thought of an intensely vibrant almost animated show set inside an already intensely vibrant world makes my eyes squint. Its a case of Art sucking lemons whilst on acid I think. Role playing can be very odd sometimes.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Outer Limits

So more Thursday welcomes to Alex and George who dropped in last week to find out about this Roleplaying thing. We were a bit backed up what with the a Railway meeting downstairs running over time and in fact as our numbers are now in the region of twenty players we have suddenly hit the inner limit of people we can seat at the club. I sort of had the capacity issue at the back of my mind but it unequivocally landed last week. I have been carrying an emergency  D&D Planescape around with me so with a couple of volunteers from the other games we have started a 4th adventure with the new guys and we'll see if we can scare them off.

It's somewhat deceptive as there is a huge amount of space downstairs in the club but we also share the venue with the local darts team as well as the table sports community; pool, snooker and the like. There is a large area for drinking and this would be ideal for us except we have to be sociable and share the space for people who just want to have a pint and listen to some music. Fair enough. Se we have just hit a hurdle and in fact necessarily have to tell people now that we are full !

Or possibly not, we do have some other options and we are not the only pub based role playing venue and the Craft Beer Co. club just sends overflow down to the Windmill and Hamilton bars. Though pub density is not as great on the seven dials, there are possibly options at the Good Companions, The French Horn or even the Crescent. Alternatively we can stretch our outer limits and I am happy to take the fourth game players home for now but it wont be a long term solution if we then hit a 5th game requirement.

There is also the final possibility of expanding the club across a couple of evenings at the same venue which is an idea I am warming to and whilst it would be nice to have everyone in the same place at the same time, its likely not sustainable I think. Its all logistics but as yet I haven't inspected the roof...

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Adopting Rat Catchers

Creating new characters for a role playing game is a bit like a shopping trip. You start off coming back from town with bags of random new stuff all excited. Then sort through what you have bought and find out that some of the things don't quite match the pictures on the boxes and finally your realise its too late to take anything back as personalities don't come with thirty day money back guarantees.

So its more sort of an adoption process really and when you make a commitment to a one legged, ego maniacal, kleptomaniac from a large family of albinos then you sort have have to see it through. Remember that adopting people is not just for Christmas, its for life. Having said this, life can also be mercifully or unmercifully short so perhaps don't get too close to someone destined for a Darwin award. A nod here to GM Max's game as apparently Cameron's character ended up in the stocks last week, which was a brief sojourn to being repetitively stabbed to death. Is that ironic ? I can't tell anymore.

Either way, I have found it useful on many occasions to turn to TV for inspiration and for some reason I seem to have based my Part-Time Gods character on Vasily Fet (no relation to Boba), the rat catcher from the Guielle De Toro series, The Strain. I suppose I appreciate the simplicity of his stalwart Bronks attitude but also with a passion and unswerving dedication for what he does. Being both physically fit and single minded makes him a capable doer and will motivate action in any situation without necessarily adopting the Kamikaze Paladin approach. As always we will see I guess but to be on the safe side I have some other series lined up.

At this point I would usually meander off into the lengthy history and deep lore of the wider catcher profession but with respect to the Pied Piper the only other catcher I can recall is the one from from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie. Is there a D&D Truly Scrumptious expansion or Toot Sweet Kick starter ? Well F*** off if there is.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Time is not enough

Although the Exalted has begun, there is still some work to do on the character sheets, partly as its somewhat like quantum theory but mostly because I am extremely lazy. Thankfully one of our number has returned after a year's worth of insane commuting and can now look forward to a normal life of  fantasy gaming. As he is joining the Exalted and will also have to create a character it does buy me another week under the radar to hide my ineptitude and finish off background narrative and various skills. Whilst I see players tearing at their faces where complex character generation is concerned, reward does come with effort and once completed, it shouldn't have to be repeated.

In the intervening time, I have been perusing more of the DnD lore. I think actually there is now more content than can be absorbed in a single lifetime so I quite like to leave youtube autoplaying from one world to another - its a pleasantly relaxing and meandering journey into the great pool of content and throws up the occasional item of note.

However, one particular piece of the DnD multiverse pretty much knocked me off my seat. I think I suddenly have a new respect for the system and things will never be quite the same again. I know I am a bit late to the game so to speak coming from a Merp and Rolemaster heritage and I am sure this comes as common knowledge to the avid DnD fan but I had no idea. DnD is a fundamentally hopeless struggle. Everyone will always die and all the civilisations and races will always be doomed to sadistic destruction. There is no future in DnD and it wont matter how many times the universe gets reborn. Its people and the beauty of their realms will inevitably be horrifically consumed no matter how hard the struggle.

This is the story of the Ilithids, commonly known as the Mindflayers. They are essentially the Borg of the fantasy world, a psychically linked species that literally feed on the brains of intelligent beings and bent on complete domination of all life. In this they become completely successful and subjugate all races. But of course this is not enough for true conquest. In order to ensure that they survive the end of the universe itself, they created "The Great Cycle", a portal back to the beginning of time where they seed themselves. This ensures an eternal time lock, so no matter how many times the multiverse restarts and whether they are hunted to the edge of extinction or not in any particular version, they will always win because they can only exist as a result of their future apotheosis.

Their ecology is lovingly fleshed out in gory detail in one of  A.J Pickets excellent videos.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Character Creation


So the mysts are clearing and we have a part time plan for our part time GMs and suitably enough one of them will be running the afore mentioned Part Time Gods alongside the Exalted. Last couple of weeks we have been preparing GM Andras's Exalted characters, and whilst this is on the more complex side of character generation it is achievable with a little help and a lot of patience, though I will need another week to read through all the skill definitions just to determine which ones I don't particularly want. It can be quite a barrier to a new players but sophisticated systems are not just completely arbitrary - one can sense the effort of the designers to make skill and attribute definition more lifelike. But at the end of the day I do feel its a bit of a labour of love rather than pragmatics as it all boils down to numbers however role playing does have its fair share of people passionate about such mechanics.

Having said this we did have enough down on paper to start off the adventure and jumped in as part of a travelling band of thespians. I think the professional phrase is an Entertainment Events Management Company. Fortunately we have happened upon an immensely wealthy patron who needs us for his imminent celebrations so we will be quids in for hamming it up as we put on a play and or concert. As much fun as it will be push the amateur dramatics for a session or two I very much suspect we will suddenly be in a murder mystery when someone doesn't actually get up after a stage dive. When you are having too much fun role playing its important to become extremely paranoid as a rendition of Meat Loaf's Bat out of Hell might mean exactly that.

Funnily enough I don't think I have ever played anything like a Bard, tho I have run a game with one in it. Generally speaking I get the impression across systems that they are more of a jack of all trades but in D&D they come with a specific lineage of course where in the 5e they join either the Colleges of Lore and Valour. Whilst they have their own class spells and abilities there is a nod to their heritage with access to a limited set of spells from other classes and bonuses to all their skill checks.

In other games, the Star Trek is now underway as is the Warhammer so I will be pressing the GMs as to when we will get the first mashup of Orcs on the starboard bow.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Ping Pong Power Play

“It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look farther than you can see.” – Winston Churchill

So we are trying to settle the dust on our new set of games. Warhammer and Star Trek are now running and the third session is now looking like an Exalted, tho GM Andras can only offer this on a part time basis.

There will be some more conversations to be had about how to juggle this but whilst it's not ideal, the club did actually used to run a pattern with four games; each pair of games run every other week. I think this was a result of having too many GMs spread across too few players, but wasn't in theory a problem. We certainly saw a lot of systems but the issue was that if a GM missed a session then the corresponding gap would be potentially four weeks which not only made it difficult to remember what was gong on but it also doubled the duration of the games and made it difficult to roll over to new systems when the time came. But the logistics of running a large group informally entail a lot of compromises and its always nice to give a new GM a go.

Nevertheless, related to this, in geological timescales we are actually a growing club and whilst the Warhammer has packed in seven players, we are still comfortably three games but the first discussion has taken place regarding the logistics of a fourth game. This sounds very organised but basically entailed me leaning over the bar and demanding that the ping pong club surrender their table to us or feel the wrath of the dark side. However, I was shocked that my opening gambit was not perhaps the best approach and whilst I attained my ale I was firmly told that there is an active and fanatical ball sports community and that ping pong was definitely off the table. Seems that the pong enthusiasts are in fact allied to the snooker and pool faction...

This will require some more subtlety and leverage on my part but the road to the iron throne is not an easy one... I will need an undead army. And I don't mean painted miniatures.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Plane Sailing

So, games are ending and we have a very busy and eagerly awaited Warhammer that GM Max has begun. Last week I walked in on some sort of clerical meeting with several people busily scribing character sheets with various large tomes scattered about sprouting post it notes akin to a nest of jostling birds at lunchtime. I though it prudent to take my overflowing beer to another table. This leaves remaining players to choose between GM Jon's Star Trek and GM Krzys's Part-Time Gods. 

Now we are hovering on the awkward three and a half games worth of players but as seven adventurers have climbed aboard Max's game it may just be enough to balance us out across the three in total, depending on the other GM requirements. But if one player sneezes in the Warhammer and flies off their seat and another lost soul should wander in then I have prepared a fourth game which may suddenly be needed.

To keep it interesting for myself I wanted to run a D&D to get some more GM hours under my belt following a few practice sessions I had last year. But which sceanrio ? Well, with a nod to a few pages in the new 5e and an ancient but pristine box set that has been sitting on my shelf for twenty years, I have prepared a Planescape adventure set in the center of the Multiverse encapsulated within the most splendidly impossible of cities, Sigil - The City of Doors. Planescape adventures do need some attention to detail as every opening (doorway, fireplace, chest or cabinet) could be a portal to absolutely anywhere so there can be a tendency to uproot an experience and leave players spinning and never having a feeling of structure or heritage. But I think this is unwarranted - even though Sigil is a city of portals, it is in all respects also just a City, with a guard, blacksmiths, taverns, merchants, builders etc etc. Whist its packed inhabitants are either planar natives or just prime travelers, the wild variety of species that crowd its streets do not have to detract from specific tasks or narratives. Basically if you combine Tokyo with Gatwick at rush hour, you begin to get the idea of day to day life. But people not only survive in such environments but they can also set down roots and thrive.

Sigil itself is a fascinating place, partly because of its toroidal physics but more so because of its quasi Ruler (or perhaps prisoner), the Lady of Pain. Wandering the streets seemingly for all eternity, she will dispatch any force, army or entity that attempts to unbalance or claim her realm. Her very gaze will shred any opponent instantly and as if that wasn't enough, she has the ability to fold dimensions and trap insurgents within an infinite Maze. Not even the Gods can sway any leverage here and they stay well away. I heartily recommend the excellent bite size videos by Jorphdan on all aspects of the D&D universe  and his Sigil and Outlands brief is no exception.

For now the game may not be needed but as always, it can be added to the list and is also sympathetic to one-shots on the occasion a GM is away. I might even run it as a home game if I can find enough players.