Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Evil breakfasts

There are a number of aspects to day to day survival which don't always occur to me when thinking of people of note such as the Queen, the Nolan Sisters or Ricky Gervais for example. Fame or infamy notwithstanding there is always the matter of breakfast and whether you get up late or not I suggest you would in most circumstances enjoy a late breakfast rather than an early lunch. Now if pressed, and certainly in an emergency, I could make it to the local deli in my dressing gown and force down a quick pastrami panini with a mocha or two but running in sandals in not becoming when one reaches a certain level and excessive flapping of undergarments whilst traversing at speed often draws unseemly attention.
However, for a suitably refined dining experience I would be prepared to extend some risk in certain areas and recommend an establishment to a friend even if it is in a less cordial location. Nevertheless there are meal times that make me somewhat nervous despite the quality of the food or establishment.
Sitting across a table in a local pub with a Wizard of Thay eating a bowl of gruel is one of those circumstances.
Hiding in plain sight is an old trick and the more colourful and irritating a character then the more likely one is to cast an encounter to the back of the mind, Jesters being an example in kind. But there is sometimes so much wrong with a picture when you first see it that it can simply blind you entirely or cause you to move on blankly. But this has been bothering me. Wizards of Thay are not known for just popping out for breakfast and whilst a stark and featureless bowl of gruel somewhat befits a stark and featureless gaze I am wondering why we came across him or indeed perhaps the opposite is true and he has deliberately happened across us.
Either way its a timely reminder that the subtle things matter just as much as the axe wielding and  we will need to keep an eye out over more than just breakfast.
In other words, beware the Muffins of Destiny.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Face Off

Now, we are supposed to be running three alternative, balanced and thoroughly optional experiences - a fantasy (DND5E), a horror (Achtung!Cthulu) and a SciFi (Eclipse Phase). Something for everyone in fact. It was somewhat of a creepy discovery that by the end of our DND5E game that we had come across people who's faces were being systematically removed.
More specifically the lands bordering Neverwinter are in upheaval with rumors of Dragons and Kobolds to the south, raiders to the East and Pirates to the coast. I haven't asked about North yet but I will probably be told I cant see an exit that way or that I am carrying too much equipment,  or some such fiendishly clever plot twist. Nevertheless I am struggling to look on the positive side of innocent people having their visage mutilated; personally I would be glad of slightly less facial hair management but I can understand why they are somewhat traumatised.
Not really sure what to say on the history of face removal, I don't think it has ever been a cultural practice so I am just reminded of characters such as Hannibal Lecter - a man who can eat his way our of captivity - and Scooby doo  - less malevolent in certain respects but the extent to which we wear our own faces as masks reminds me of gleefully watching the Mystery Team regularly tearing off the faces of unsuspected Librarians and sundry workers employed in various utility companies. We will get to the grisly bottom of our current mystery in due course no doubt.
I did, as a relative newbie to the world of Neverwinter, ask after the city's influence geopolitically but unfortunately it seems to be mostly a cultural and cosmopolitan centre at this point in its history - it has a town guard and I would guess some very dangerous wizards, but nothing along the lines of a foreign policy or army.
Seems that its us pesky kids vs the bad guys for now..

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Stop Press Stop New players Stop New Game Stop DND5E

More welcomes to another band of fellow role-players wandering in from their adventures. It was a pleasure to meet Ben, Kim and Mark at the club, all at once no less, and the seemingly unstoppable and frantic demand for roleplaying action energized our resident beer drinker GM Warren to pick up his pint in one hand and rule book in another and stagger to the rescue.
Here then in it pristine glory is a wonderful picture of our party, including me behind the camera and our shiny new peoples. It was the only picture I had without Warren drinking. In fact its probably the only picture of Warren not drinking. Thank you Sir for starting up our third magnificent game, DND5E ! Don't worry about Ben punching Kim, they're married.
In our first session a party of  a Paladin, Cleric, Mage and Thief (sorry, I mean rogue) have started a mystery following the kidnapping of a local aristocrat's son by imposters dressed as local guards. This followed an altercation at a party we were invited to though it was difficult to work out what was going on exactly through all the inebriations. Pursuing the trail to the city walls we happened upon some form of sacrificial ceremony in progress involving wind magic, that while we managed to interrupt the evil doings we, sadly, have several dead people to attend to in the aftermath. We are probably the ones in trouble now but more on that next week.
In the Eclipse Phase, GM Rob's game update reads:
"Chasing leads around the lawless hive of Locus, the players encountered another hacker who assisted Tara Yu. Mason Wang revealed that he created two AIs for Yu named Achilles and Tortoise, the former a shell-controlling program piggybacked by the latter, an advanced hacking program capable of dealing with TITAN-level encryption if need be.

Realising that there are things Wang has hidden from them, the characters went over the files at Tara Yu's safe house and found a communication referencing a corrupted fork of his he's been experimenting exists, one deliberately infected with the Exsurgent virus that has infected the drug dealers and is linked to the petals they push to their customers. The message also revealed that the source of this virus is something called Myrmidon.

Two further links emerged, the ex-White Khanh Sammy Li whom was being pursued for info by Tara Yu before her expedition to the Song Cai Flower and Nia Zheng, a recent arrival to Locus and red tech dealer to the inner system triads. Contact with Zheng proved fruitless as her own mercenaries made it very clear that the characters were not welcome after an abortive attempt to talk to her.

Little do the characters know that eyes have turned to them and from the shadows, interested parties watch their every move.


In the Achtung Cthulu, GM Jon is advancing the plot:

"The A!C team are now working for British Indian Intelligence (not that they had much choice). Escorted by a couple of dozen troops of the Bombay Grenadiers, they raced a local group of all-female freedom fighters to a temple hidden in a cave about 200 miles from Bombay. They were somewhat pleased to find they'd run the race, but then discovered they hadn't - the locals were inside, with some tropical suited Germans and had no idea who they were, where they were or what was going on.

There was a brief debate about whether to shoot, arrest or help them, then they were interrupted by red spirits coming out of the walls. When their guns didn't work (and several soldiers lost their memories), they realised what the cryptic warning from the mad priest the week before meant, and began desperately hunting for the musical pillars for which the temple was noted. Rattling out a tune they got from the same source led to the ghosts disappearing and a secret door at the far end of the temple opening.

After the anti-climax of discovering the artefact they were looking for with no further problems, they've emerged, blinking, into the sunlight and a smartly-dressed Indian (backed about a dozen armed women) has just asked for the artefact...

I'm sure I've seen this somewhere before...


Still waiting for those tentacles Jon... 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

A Jovial mission

Managed a brief chat with GM Jon last week regarding his COC. Apparently the intrepid and only slightly insane party have managed to successfully derail the Nazi transmission tower in the Valley of the Blue Monks. There was some attempt a sneaking around in the middle of the night which is always fun and as I understand it they shot a Monk that was about to raise the alarm on the monastery horn. Despite the fact that gunfire is significantly louder than an old gasping Monk pouting on an even older bronze tube, the party actually managed to explosively demolish the offending aerial and get away. As it happens, the only 'explosives' around to purchase in the mysterious mythos mountains were fireworks used for weddings and the like, thus the resulting military operation ended in a sort of special forces barmitzpha. Well done so far but still waiting to hear about zombies and tentacles...next time perhaps.
On the other side of the universe the Eclipse Phase team have now begun a mission for their new employers, Firewall. There was the option for a memory wipe/roll back should anyone not really feel in a trustworthy frame of mind but curiosity seems to be just ahead of paranoia in the cognitive stakes at present. So without rebooting  we now find ourselves at the Jovian system investigating the disappearance of a Firewall agent - we are sort of in the investigation phase at the moment but are already becoming aware of the various criminal gangs and bosses that run the place. The Jove habitat is founded on inter entity tolerance but with freedom comes criminality and cross cultural rivalries.
I only hope that the local mafia haven't infiltrated the municipal services like they usually do as the stink from rotting refuse in a sealed city would start to give the place a post post post modern medieval feel it. We'll see...

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Evolved Regression

Firstly a little preamble this week as to the right of this article you will see a link to BURPS, the Brighton Universal Roleplaying Society who celebrated their reunion this last weekend locally at Reunicon. Although the annual get togethers are a celebration of old university friendships and roleplaying memories from the late 80s they are also open to the public and it was a pleasant surprise to see both Hem and Andy there who were two of our very own  recruits from last week. I myself was at Brighton Polytechnic in the day and a regular member of that very roleplaying society - over a hundred members at its peak and the largest society as a whole (apart from the pharmacists who's membership was pretty much default for joining their course). Keeping it real guys and glad to see you are all still alive, albeit in black and white. I should have gone along of course but to be honest it makes me feel like roleplaying died out several decades ago and we re-enact it like an antique flat earth society. I need to look forward and those old gits, particularly the local ones, should come up to us on a Thursday and join in. In truth of course the Brighton Roleplayers scene is very much alive and vibrant as ever and cutting edge in when it comes to alpha releases we have tested like DND6E, Blades in the Dark and Eclipse phase to name just a few.

Eclipse phase last week came to a head in so many ways. We were in the situation where we needed to use 2 escape pods but with 5 of us in the party. Classic. OK, 2 of use are small octopods and I was downloaded into a head anyway so that was one pod sort of agreed on which left our Archaeologist and Enforcer with much to discuss. Well discussion didn't win the day and after a desperate and manic shooting contest in a cramped space it was the Archaeologist, remarkably, that got the comfy seat. How one's gut instinct to survive at all costs still kicks in after cortical implants make it a non issue is very interesting.
I guess people are still people even after you take their brains out.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Talking to yourself.

Firstly a hearty yarr welcome to our new members that joined us last week, Andy, Hem, Grant and Nik. Wonderful to see  you all. As my memory was wiped some years ago I am reconstructing these names from club comms so apologies if I have got them wrong. May I just take this opportunity to say actually how much courage it takes to walk into a pub full of strangers and talk to people although of course I hope we were instantly familiar, we do after all, show strength of character in more ways than usual. Still, very good to see you all.
Having said this one of the new guys came to play in last weeks Eclipse Phase and, given the surge of new players, GM Rob coped admirably by levering the games inherent digitally based backdrop and created a 'copy' of the Muse program I was playing. This, I think was the first time I have actually interacted with a doppelganger. The term may not quite be fair as I think a doppelganger implies a false representation to a degree whereas in this universe a copy is a fully bona fide and independent entity.
Nevertheless, it was a weird experience. Whilst my Muse was quarantined into a primitive head for antivirus reasons, my copy got a new fully interactive, integrated and projected program that, sadly got infected quite quickly. For a while I was trying to convince the other me to put me back into an integrated form rather than leave me body less but I couldn't convince myself that this was a good plan. Most amusing. I also spent a lot of the session agreeing with myself which was also very interesting, I wonder given two identical personalities whether they would always agree. I presume that much opinion comes from life experience but given that both characters experiences begin identically that different points of view would emerge slowly over time, though its interesting that one doesn't necessarily trust the other at present. As I say, weird.
In Achtung Cthulu I hear that the new guys in that game started beating up on the Nazi Blue Monks in short order. Well done everyone.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

No FT ? No Comment.

Uncovering ancient mythology is never an easy task. Even in the modern world with all its forensics and information systems the fog of history still prevails where monsters and demons lurk. Traditionally Cthulu comes with its intrinsic library research methods and one puts time aside in ones mind for the occasional evening of bookery as its a case of the pen (or) paper being mightier then the sword - a sort of rock, paper, tentacles game.
In the most recent episode  of Achtung Cthulu our investigations were concluding and we are now in the throes of an actual plan. Part of our hit list are a small sect of evil Blue Monks, nothing but an ancient fairy tale to the locals but not wanting to leave any prayer wheel unturned we decided to frequent the usual common or garden library. Not so common or garden in our current Himalayan retreat but nevertheless the local and ancient town had and even more local and ancient library tucked away in its Buddhist monastery. Problem with the Abbot of said monastery is that somehow ancient and local doesn't really go far enough; whilst we enjoyed a welcoming cup of tea with the old chap, he really did push the boundaries of senility.
Perseverance is one of the traits of my character, so not to be put off by a smiling and nodding contender for best donkey award, I defaulted to the monastic librarian. Definitely not donkey material, a long and embattled conversation embarked on how we could lever some information on the Blue Monks. Not taboo as such my questions were nevertheless batted away as childlike concerns over nothing but stories. Failing this, my last option to gain entry to the library was to offer him a gift of significant meaning in kind and something he would respect as a part of his profession. All I had on my equipment list was a copy of the Financial Times from a few days ago and I suggested that this treasured and important post modern artefact, together with its crossword conundrums should be inturned by us into his collection of great works. Remarkably I actually got a few sentences into this conversation before suggesting he should consider having his manuscripts rewritten for the modern era, a sort of Tibetan Times. End of conversation.
At this point the information gathering phase of the adventure was definitely over and we headed out, provisioned with our boy scout, to take on the forgotten Monks and their Nazi transmission tower. They are aiding the German War effort by translating ancient Atlantean manuscripts for a shady SS division. To what end... we do not know...

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


So when do you become you ? Stupid question ? You bet, but I ran into this little dilemma last week.
I picked up a character to play last week that is basically sort of a familiar, always fun, but in this case I was dumped into it unceremoniously. Last episode the muse as it is called had come to the conclusion, or rather calculation that it was not logical to stay on board a compromised station and transmitted itself out of the game. Not as helpful perhaps as the eclipse phase wiki would imply:
"Getting To Know Your Muse
While a muse isn’t as smart as you are, it’s also smarter than you’d think. A muse will always act in your best interests, but that can mean different things at different times. They learn from what you say and what you do. At first, the muse may seem to be a nosy intruder who bugs you about every tiny thing. It will ask how hot you like your soup or why you tease one of your friends more than the others. Many children get frustrated with all of these questions, but try to be patient with your muse. Every question you answer honestly helps the muse understand you. Muses work better when you learn to trust and respect them. After all, they can’t help you if you don’t let them."
Having no idea of what a muse was at the time I gradually became aware of how I should have been playing it by the end of the game, nevertheless in this case it is actually a fully blown ego posing as a muse as far as I can tell, so my confusion was accurate, if that makes sense - an ego being more of a personality/character than an intelligent learning tool.
So, to date, having transmitted off the station, intercepted by 'The Wall' (long story) and sent back, everyone now is very suspicious of me what with viruses flying around. The upshot of which is that just to be on the safe side I have been downloaded into a primitive head with an equally primitive voice box - tried hacking it already before you ask but it came off a shop manakin as far as I can tell.
I am just starting to get the hang of this universe now, so I will try not to die, reboot, rollforward or forkback.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Knowledge is Power

I would not expect a roleplaying game, nor session, to be an educational pursuit. Especially considering that when I received my first roleplaying game in the mail (Vampire: the Masquerade Revised), my dad informed me it's an acceptable alternative to being addicted to drugs. I've since assumed that's what most would think about this hobby we partake in.

However, during our recent session, as we were being described the scuttling noises made by some bots infiltrating our station, we learned that they were not, in fact, attempting to sink us. Moreover, as we progressed from Bill and Prince Marik showcasing their Thesaurus-like skills in finding synonyms for the word, we engaged in banter over what beings may scuttle, why elephants wouldn't and the effects of low gravity on a creature's ability to scuttle.

While a highly enjoyable conversation, we still had the problem of our corrupted former selves planning to murder us... or so we assumed. There was only one thing we could do, we split the party! Bill's tiny octopus changed colour, and thus camouflaged, counter-infiltrated the vessel docked to our station. While he was going about the ship, avoiding traps and our originals, and gathering intel, the rest of the group did a similar thing.

As GM Jon's Achtung Cthulhu! game did not have enough players, we were joined by Jack who took on the role of Bill's muse. She hacked into the system, a risky move considering we were warned the whole system was compromised, and found out we were dealing with a Basilisk Hack which could infect through audio (and possibly visual) contact. This put a major dent in our plans to jury rig a devive to send a warning. We had very little time to figure something else out because something was at the door to the chamber we were in. Whatever it was, it was cutting and slashing into it so a fight was inevitable. Armed and ready, we opened the door only to find my own mutated character!

It was described as a mutated person with horrific disfigurments all over its body. All this Corruption made us instantly think of Warhammer 40k so we had to roll against being confused by tropes! No? Just me? Well, I did fine on my roll... despite shamelessly looking through my character sheet on a Windows Phone.

Suffice to say, we killed it. Although in true horror-esque fashion, bits of it fell off, scuttled away and hardened on the walls and floor. Then, our octopus infiltrator came back, told us of how the other more dangerous versions of us were destroying the ship's AI and then everything went momentarily dark...


Said octopus's other body went limp.
It seems the muse inhabiting it had the excellent idea of beaming itself out of the station and harm's way...

Anti Virus

It seems little beyond doubt now that we are dealing with some form of virus in our Eclipse Phase game. In such an existential and biogenically augmented world it's interesting to see what an infection would look like.. When one thinks about it there is an argument to say that the ordinary, or common or gardenening homo sapien is a case in point.; millions of years of viral exposure have altered or enhanced our DNA where I suspect many mutations have been environmentally selected such that we take them for granted or specifically define the species. Have we always had two kidneys or was it the result of an ancestor catching a cold...?
Physically, the complete transcending of our DNA and the extinction of natural selection whilst opening up new transgenic branches to the tree of life, in many ways throws our instincts back further into the past. Gone are the days when a community or even a small group of people can band together under their common humainity. Humans have traditionally established their survival in terms of mutual support and sharing of knowledge, although for most of our past this has been, in part, a pack or mob mentality stemming from defending small communities. As our communities have grown much faster than our DNA has adapted we are left with a contention between empathy in small groups versus friction between larger societies. My point where Eclipse Phase comes in is who can you trust ? Where is your gut instinct (if indeed you have a gut) when it comes to your colleagues let alone your enemies. For now we are united by what is trying to kill us but I dont have a feeling yet as to what binds us together as a party. Still, no point in trying to look too far ahead.
At present we need some sort of anti virus capablity as its apparent that there are multpile comopnents to its infection methods. There is code piggy backing transmissions and even the lighting has been altered to carry subliminal information into the retina. Not sure of any biological infection systems as yet but that will become apparent I am sure. Definitely time to update our virus definitions.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Self destruct equipment returns policy.

Its a rare occasion to have to stop an adventure prematurely albeit with respect for the artistic integrity of the game, though it will of course happen from time to time. There  have been occasions where a party has turned on one another, usually through some mind alteration or perhaps due to an evil or criminally oriented group of characters. Its also been the case that some things can just get out of control and accidents will happen.
The Eclipse Phase universe has many existential aspects to it and presents an additional slant on this. When you have backup bodies exactly how far do you go to preserve your current predicament ? It would be easy to take an extreme example to demonstrate a point, say, constantly destroying oneself violently when in combat either to take out opponents or simply to push ones own body past its designed parameters to achieve tasks. Alternatively a casual engineers job to regularly test equipment, ships or habitats to destruction as part of a design process. Whether a GM would consider it an abuse of a system, it would still be possible - with replication systems on hand fabricating new bodies just becomes a time issue.
What is more important in my mind is where a culture's attitude settles in general on this. There is shifting the goalposts for sure in comparison with the world we know but this is a different game completely - would it be fair to say that life is genuinely cheap and if so does it matter ? Where does a sense of responsibility lie either from an individuals perspective or society's in general ? Does there a become a psychological and counselling issue at any point or does mental health become completely subjective in this world ?
It's an interesting  exploration and we will see where it goes. Our current predicament, as Krzys's last post implies, is that there is a good chance that we are now overrun and the last option is to scuttle our base along with whatever it is that is crawling into it and simply go back to our backup bodies and review the situation.
Perhaps this is actually a good time to split the party...

Monday, 3 August 2015

The Enemy Within

I may have failed to mention that you can legally download a pdf copy of Eclipse Phase, so there's no reason for you not to peruse the game.

With that out of the way, let's return to our attempts at survival in space!

Remember those strange noises we heard as last session came to an end?
It turns out it wasn't anything serious. We only found out after taking a quick trip to the fusion reactor chamber, fixing another opened airlock and going back through the greenhouse (centre of the station) and trying to get into our AI's, Hans, server room. The scurrying sound was caused by some of the worker bots watching us. Eventually, they attacked but not being specifically built to fight, they were quickly destroyed.

Just before the fight broke out, we noticed the very same ship we remembered planning on exploring coming ever so closer to our station. We were unable to reach Hans but we did get his logs and as we looked through them, an ominous message was being received. We decided to risk it, put together a crude two-way receiving device and turn on communication.

On the other side of the transmission... were us!
Finally some existential angst occurred. Were they really us after the backup? Which of our groups is compromised? How can we live with ourselves now? What's the optimal temperature of tea?! With all these questions in mind, one thing was clear!
As much as our original copies tried to sound shocked and sincere, we could sense something sinister in the background... and as they called us (or themselves) on our (their?) empty threats of blowing their (our?!) ship up, they docked.

Moments later, they cut through the barricades we had set up. We felt the air pressure of two atmospheres equalise, as a putrid stench filled the station. Many bots came out crawling to scout out the surroundings... and then, something came out...

Thursday, 30 July 2015

A Mist Opportunity

The Achtung Cthulu has begun in absolutely classic style. Our group of average well to do sub continental jet setters were taking a usual Indian internal flight  from Bombay to Calcutta, where upon the plane was veiled in a strange and yet B movie like mist as our pilots lost their navigation. Instrumentation was curiously malfunctional as well as everyone's watches losing time during the affair. Our adventure had begun and in pre war air cabin luxury.
Through the mists strange red lights were apparent and also seemingly correcting any course deviation, they brought us down eventually into the vast mountain escarpments of the Himalayas.. or that is what we thought. Putting aside our surreal journey we have found ourselves in some sort of even more surreal Buddhist enclave, not just cut of from civilisation but, I suspect, cut off from reality entirely!
By reason of fate or design we have been asked by the Abbot to assist in challenging some less enlightened neighbours of theirs in another valley as it appears that, for reasons unknown, they have managed to acquire a transmission tower...and are in contact with ze NAZIS!!
Its all a bit overwhelming for everyone at the moment and my character is not sure where he is going to get the morning papers from but if the Nazis get a foothold in the Raj then it will be the end of business as we know it...

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

In space, no one can hear you scream

As you may have had already heard; new games started being run last week at our wonderful club.

My use of a semicolon was not unintentional as prior to Eclipse Phase starting, we had a very interesting discussion on the pluralisation of an octopus. Lines were drawn, alliances formed and backstabbing commenced between the camps of octopi, octopuses and octopodes. As no clear victor emerged from the rubble, we went on to roleplaying!

I must say, even though I picked a ready-made character, it still took me quite a while to copy everything onto a blank sheet. Fortunately, GM Rob was kind enough to explain some of the character aspects I wasn't sure about which is always helpful. I'm told that making a character from scratch for Eclipse Phase is highly time consuming.

The current session started off with us waking up in our spare bodies. If you're unfamiliar with Eclipse Phase, suffice to say it's a sci-fi setting where conciousness is downloadable so changing bodies is everyday business. Last thing we remembered was getting ourselves backed up before venturing out of our space station to check out some ghost space ship that happened to drift by. That was too weeks ago (how ominous!).

The rest of the session was spent on getting around and trying to stop our oxygen from leaking out as something was attempting to open up the station's external hatches. Some of the doors were also welded shut with junk. Ferocious cutting and chopping was had!

We managed to stabilise our situation and started to breathe without fear of running out of air when.. suddenly... a cliffhanger happened!

Something's coming for us...
and it's not existential angst...
that was sorely lacking...


Thursday, 23 July 2015

New Games for Old

After a week of email storms the electronic front is clearing and we have two games emerging for the next several weeks. Achtung Cthulu makes its second instalment of Shadows of Atlantis. GM Jon:
"Shadows of Atlantis is set during the early days of the war as the British intelligence community begins to become aware of the threat.
A pair of British spies embedded in Vienna in August 1939 became embroiled in the investigation of the death of a noted German archaeologist, gathering local allies along the way. An unearthed journal provided clues to the motivation for the murder and the identity of those responsible, along with information about valuable artefacts scattered across the world. It seemed likely this was all related, but the group fled Austria when war broke out.
They headed for Rome, as Italy was still neutral and the spies were hoping to find a pair of local agents who had gone missing. They found them in a slave labour gang working on an underground archaeological dig administered by the same organisation that was responsible for the professor's death. Following clues in the journal, they realised that their enemy was trying to locate one of the artefacts and they staged a raid to beat them to it. Things got very weird as they battled reptilian humanoids in the catacombs beneath the Eternal City, claiming an ornate shield with odd properties as their prize.
Returning with the shield to London, they were inducted into the fledgling Section M and sent to Egypt as part of a multi-pronged mission to seek the remainder of the artefacts. The group chased clues across Cairo, eventually enacting a local prophecy that saw them enter the Egyptian Underworld to battle Apep and recover the second artefact. It could have been a drug-induced dream, but they did come back with another odd object...
Meanwhile, another group of agents and innocent bystanders is en route by air from Calcutta to Delhi..."

In another world or universe entirely, GM Rob is bringing a game new to the club, Eclipse Phase. In his very own words:

Okay folks, if people want something a bit more sci-fi and transhumanist, I have the post-apocalyptic transhumanist horror game Eclipse Phase on offer. From Wikipedia:

"Eclipse Phase is a post-apocalyptic game of conspiracy and horror. The setting takes place after a World War III project to create artificial intelligence went rogue under the influence of an extraterrestrial entity known as the "Exsurgent" (best described as an organic computer virus with the capacity to infect both machines and animals with sapient qualities), resulting in the deaths of over 90% of the inhabitants of Earth.

Earth is subsequently abandoned, and existing colonies throughout the Solar System are expanded to accommodate the refugees. The setting explores a spectrum of socioeconomic systems in each of these colonies:
A capitalist/republican system continues in the Inner System (Mars, the Moon, and Mercury), under the Planetary Consortium, a corporate body which allows the election of representatives but whose shareholders are nominally most powerful.
An Extropian/Propertarian system is established in the Asteroid Belt.
A military oligarchy rules the moons around Jupiter.
An alliance of Scandinavia-style social democracy and Collectivist anarchism are dominant in the Outer System.

From there, the setting explores various scientific advances, extrapolated far into the future. Nanotechnology, terraforming, Zero-G living, upgrading animal sapience, and reputation systemsare all used as plot points and background.

With all of this, the game encourages players to confront existential threats like aliens, weapons of mass destruction, Exsurgent Virus outbreaks, and political unrest."

Players are "egos", pure consciousnesses of either humans, uplifted (non-humans given human-level intelligence) or AIs. Egos can be backed up, installed into new bodies (anything from human to projected light, including robotic bodies of all shapes and sizes, bodies of uplifts, even things like a swarm of centrally controlled insects similar to the future Yithians in Call of Cthulhu). Egos can also be forked, creating 2 sentient beings who are exactly the same up until the point of forking or remixed fork, altering aspects of the fork to create things like a barely sentient AI that mimics the original's behaviour or a combination of several original egos into one person.

It's uses a percentile based system with 00 on the dice actually representing 00 as opposed to 100. Criticals (either success or fail) are caused by rolling doubles (11, 22, 33, etc) on the dice.

The game is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. The publishers encourage players and gamemasters to recreate, alter, and "remix" the material for non-commercial purposes.

Website: http://www.eclipsephase.com/"

Blimey. Well which universe sounds less dangerous then ?


Thursday, 16 July 2015


What happens at the end of the 13th Age ? One could presume that as with some movie franchises that they have a good thing going with, potentially unlimited sequels, but I was surprised that having played last time we didn't start a 14th Age. This may be a facetious point but on the up side it will mean that any 13th Age game will just continue to climax to an even better finale. In this vein our incumbent adventure is approaching its last instalment for the time being and sees the party in another Kobold infested situation. Will we ever find out who killed the Pharaoh ? Who is altering the rivers in Punt ? Who Will the first archaeologist ever find anything old to dig up ? All these questions and more will come to a fruition tonight.

Blades in the Dark is easier to round off at any point as its more of a chess game wilth knives. Whist the protagonists, organisations and entities continue to shift and vie for power in the player generated back plot, it is only occasionally interspersed with first hand player events. It is a game I shall miss as its a well balanced cross between a board and roleplaying game that offers play on two distance levels without ever having to roll a dice. I am not so well steeped in roleplay to know whether it is a unique approach but its an experience definitely worth having.

However, now is a good time to think about re/joining as we are about to rotate and reinvent games and there are plans a bubbling. In our Gnome driven steam and cog powered Yahoo system there are contenders emerging for the next adventurers. We are thinking of reincarnating a D&D5E back to Thursdays. Its generic appeal and profile fit well in a public facing club and often encourage the dedicated, though we also offer it on a Tuesday also. GM Jon has spoken of the continuation of his popular Achtung Cthulu and GM Rob has also been wafting a space adventure around.

We shall cast all our magical ingredients into a hat and see what sort of rabbit we can pull out of it....stay tuned folks..

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Reminiscing Retail Roleplaying

Coming up in club comms this week is the forthcoming opening of another Brighton Games retail experience - Games Saloon. The history of Gaming shops in Brighton is not an illustrious one. There is though the stalwart Games Workshop that has survived as long as I can remember. Not specifically a roleplaying shop, I do remember wandering in there many years ago when they did  used to stock Merp and ICE modules from my Lord of the Rings days but I haven't been inside for a looong while but like a small shrine on a winding road I should really pop in and light a candle.

I do remember Wargames Haven more recently, nice try but closed after 12 months in 2009 sadly - lots of space for table top but floor area in Brighton does come at a high price.

Dave's Comics in the North Lanes is another long serving outlet that has reinvented itself several times over the years. I did have the pleasure of meeting Dave himself on occasion and my other half used to run the shop from time to time when he wanted to pop out for a cup of tea. Sadly no longer with us his shop has gone from selling large bundles of rpg modules that Dave must have bought in wholesale second hand and now aims for the premium boxset market but if you have the money then always worth popping in. I do remember a Magic the Gathering section staffed by an incredibly knowledgeable wizard during its hayday.
Who remembers the Brighton Adventurers Guild store in the North Laines ? It was before the internet.... and before even the Adventurers Guild ?..Well we have to go back as far as the RPG section in the local Virgin Megastore.
So how will Dice Saloon fair ? Well hopefully in the digital age their business intelligence should really have made the decision as to viability but at the end of the day its community that matters so with sharp pencils and an escape for the imagination do pop in for a crumpet.