Wednesday, 27 July 2016

I don't like you either

Despite the hours that roleplayers can spend arguing over an encounter or solving a situation there are equally as many occasions where you have to think on your feet. This is often amusing as it is exciting as when you inject magic users into any given dilemma the possible outcomes can range from the surreal to potentially universe threatening. As from my last post, the Strike game last week revolved around the all time classic bar fight. In fact I would say its almost an unwritten rule now that when a role playing party enters a drinking establishment then someone must end up with at least a broken nose before the party leaves. Its a bit like the fabled Samurai myth that before sheathing a weapon its must have drawn blood, even that of the owner if necessary. So yes, I would go as far to say that it is a matter of honour for the seasoned player.

The bar scenario in the (currently WWII) time travelling Strike eventually boiled over from a room full of drunken spies and bodyguards. The different factions all had their personal guard there ahead of a pivotal meeting but we knew that at least some of them had been infiltrated by time travelling Nazis, or those who backed them. The brawl however escalated quickly out of control as in this particular bar fight, not only was everyone armed, but they also comprised of a mixture of trained special forces and military personnel who have, broadly speaking, no qualms about pulling out weapons over dinner.

Cut to the chase, during the fight at least someone in the fray shouted "it must be Strike" so we at least know we haven't just slaughtered a room full of innocent people, but either way we abruptly had a room full of dead bodies to deal with when, at the same time, we heard the senior officers coming down to see what was happening. Well, being a necromancer and suddenly needing a room full of amicable people pretending to be drunk , all I could do was reanimate all the bodies and quickly sit them at the tables and bar. Keeping them talking we told the officers that everything had calmed down and that we would sort it out - hoping that they wouldn't notice their soldiers starting to gnaw on each other or shuffle around a bit too absently. Whilst I think we have got away with it so far we now have 20 undead minions to look after and a bar bill to pay.

Speaking of bills, thanks to GM Bill for running his stopgap 618 adventure - not a game I know much abuot- but I'll have chat to him next time, though unbelievably he has implied that it too may involve time travel. We have had a few new lovely members recently and are hovering around a possible regular third game if interest holds so plenty of seats to be had in various universes at present, past or future.  GM Rob also continues his Numenura thogh havent had any reports of a bar fight as yet.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Always time for a bar fight

Its a bit of a weird co-incidence. Although weird is a somewhat relative term when it comes to role playing scenarios.....and role players for that matter. It would appear then that the Numenera players are also tinkering in time travel technologies albeit as much over the players heads as it is in the game of Strike. This is going to involve a lot of complicated and confusing pre game chatter as the weeks go by as for my part, I am always interested in what general approach the GMs take to the fundamentals of cause and effect. I always think it likely that there is a universe collapsing paradox laying at the heart of such plots or possible time quakes cascading forward chasing parties into alternate futures. Either way a great deal of care will need to be given to the temporal footprint of adventurers in any given context, or the future wasn't what it was supposed to be.

Words fail me literally as I am reminded of Douglas Adams point..

"The major problem is quite simply one of grammar, and the main work to consult in this matter is Dr Dan Streetmentioner’s Time Traveller’s Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations. It will tell you for instance how to describe something that was about to happen to you in the past before you avoided it by time-jumping forward two days in order to avoid it. "

Personally my character is just along for the ride but I am secretly hoping that in fact both games are set in the same universe, just billions of years apart - it opens the real possibility that the GMs can swap groups for an episode as we go on missions in each other's timezones. However with respect to well laid plans, we should really concentrate on cocking up our own game before moving onto someone else's.

Following on from last weeks Strike episode of time travelling Nazis, we find ourselves in 1943 at a meeting of the great powers, German, Soviet and American. It's a week before a pivotal summit and we are all hanging out at the same hotel bar with the other delegations' security details, trying to pry information out of each other by seeing who can drink the most. All the characters are tired, paranoid and  inebriated. This is only going one way...

In the Numnera in GM Rob's very own words:

"the party seek an ancient and mystical key the time-travelling wizard from centuries in the future identified as a thing called a "fuse" to stop a giant metal being transmitting nightmares to the population of the nearby town. They have found this key in the possession of some goat-like creatures who killed the priests guarding it. Finding their camp at night, the party plans their attack."

OK, so goats, wizards, priests, keys and metal things. Got it. So if anyone out there has has experience with time travelling killer goats then we would appreciate a few pointers.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

World of Romans

I have heard it said  that sometimes too much knowledge is a bad thing. Generally speaking I am a huge fan of not being ignorant and I have a high esteem for those working in the fields of teaching and research. I can see that knowledge under duress can be a difficult situation, i.e. where torture may connect someone with the wrong end of a variety of secrets as well as medical instruments but it is equally the case that  you are not going to escape a grizzly ending whether you divulge classified information or not. It is more the case that the burden of some decisions can leave you wishing that you didn't know what you know but I suspect that this is really about the office you hold at the time, a lesser of two evils or perhaps or having to enact laws that leave little choice in an outcome. The difference between fault and responsibility will often mean that the blameless will shoulder the burden for the people they are responsible for despite what they may know or indeed those that have to sacrifice themselves for the greater good just because they know it to be for the best. Life isn't fair, but we know this already. 

But role playing can take this dilemma into extra dimensions, literally, and not to ramble on too much further without a cause, the scenario set for us in GM Jack's Strike adventure does serve to keep all this in mind. The point is Time Travel. At this point in history the party seem to be on both sides of an ancient battle fought between the Celts and Romans. A foregone conclusion from whatever perspective you may be looking at it from but unfortunately from our perspective it appears that we are also up against some Time Travelling Nazis who have brought tanks to the battle. So a bit like undead steam powered, Nazi zombie robots, the steam punkish scenario is already brimming with B movie action and hilarity.

The fun thing about charging around blowing up tanks and trying to level the odds in an future-historic field of battle is that its all too easy to be caught up in the action and forget that decisions we take now are going to have profound effects in the future. Anyway, we have a secret weapon - a horse, who's secret ability is that it can't talk! ....confused ? a cunning plan ? does it know more than it is letting on ? Can it convince the Romans that we aren't spies ? Unlikely at this stage I feel....

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Kickstarting Games

So some of us are returning from out annual holidays about now and there are some ancient voices whispering on the winds of email foretelling that they may also soon return to claim their rightful seats at the role playing tables. In all respects the forces are gathering and we have two challenges to be met by brave and wise gamers, both actually from kickstarters.

GM Jack is running a STRIKE! A kickstarter that had 418 backers raising 9192 canadian dollars is targeted to deliver fast action combat with exciting twists. Created by Jim McGarva the RPG Drivethru responses are good so far. Here is the spiel to give you a flavour.

What sets Strike! apart?

Every roll is 1d6. This makes it fast and easy to learn, teach, and play.

Setting agnostic. Strike's exciting combat and surprising twists fit smoothly into any setting.

No boring failures. When you don't succeed there's a twist: maybe you get what you want or maybe you don't, but either way something interesting happens that changes the situation.

Non-binary resolution. Despite the simplicity, there are four or five distinct possible results on every roll, not just Success or Failure.

Speed! Because of the simplicity, and helped by other tweaks, the game runs very quickly. Combat only takes 20-30 minutes, even at high levels. The system supports players taking risks and gives characters interesting options without being burdensome and pulling you out of the game to crunch numbers.

Character creation is simple too, and there are no false choices. Now instead of spending time trying to spend points and sorting through endless lists, you can just pick a background to give you basic skills, pick a class and role, do a little bit of customization and get to playing.

Variety without complexity. Combining your choice from ten classes with any of five roles gives you fifty unique options that will each play very differently from one another. Re-skinning guidelines help you create exactly the character you want with ease.

Also Gm Rob is starting his Numenera. Augmented with beautiful artwork it will be interesting to see if the games mechanics are as equally impressive as the backdrop.

Step a billion years into the future—into the Ninth World, where the remnants of previous civilizations’ technologies are indistinguishable from magic. Based on Monte’s Cook’s Cypher System, a new RPG system that focuses on story and ideas over mechanics.

I will post back with some of our club's experiences of it after its been running a couple of weeks. Definitely my favourite video tho so come along and let yourself go.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Selling your imagination

As I am technically on holiday and not sure what demons  are being summoned at the club I took a quick browse of Kickstarter for the first time in earnest. Facebook is profiling me as a role player among many other things I am sure and drip feeds me curiosities to the extent that I have actually pressed a couple of extra buttons today and my word there is a lot of stuff going on.

A couple of noteable noteables are either in prototype or have now closed but Fogbound is one that caught my eye. Defaulting to Cthulu as my go to post imperial fix I have also enjoyed Space 1889 as a Victorian romp but Fogbound could turn out to be a winner particularly as its underpinned by 13th Age mechanics. Here is the facebook link to Gareth Clegg's  page, he is looking for artists a present if any of you can put more than pen to paper.

Hunters Books, publishers of Outbreak: Zombie Undead have diversified their portfolio and kickstarted Outbreak: Deep Space. A horror/Sci-Fi RPG, which I think there is a gap in the market for as aside from the Alien series, nothing else immediately springs to mind in the genre. Whilst  Outbreak:Undead did not get a great review on they have said that their deadlines are a little more forgiving on this project and the ratings on drivethru are a lot better. 

Finally, this guy is nuts. If anyone works out what he is on about then let me know...

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Summer recess

Though we are a most wise and lumiable council of role players, games architects and live action artisans, we do talk a lot of bollocks occasionally. Some of the more astute subscribers to this tome may have deduced this already but formal gibbering has now begun regarding the upcoming cycle of new games.  Out of respect to mad geniuses here is a link to a review of Heroquest that must be forceably shown to everyone interested in tabletop sports, even sabbuteo (Do they do subbuteo DnD miniatures ?)

All hail BardicBroadcasts
Sir, you are a Legendary Artefact

GM Bill may have another session to round off his 13th age and there are a couple of us on holiday at the moment so stray role players may just have to cope with wacky board games for a week or two. Last week we thoroughly enjoyed a game of Skulls which is a sort of cross between poker and voodoo. Many of these modern fringy tabletop games are enormous fun and are ideal to pass the time in a bar between adventures.

Upcoming I believe we are gaining traction in bullying GM Rob to open a Numenara game; a kickstarted and uniquely imagined world of SciFi that will appeal to anyone intrigued by unconventional narratives. I hope the gameplay is as stunning as the artwork.

Equially GM Jon has offered a Savage Worlds filler, which if it is anything like his previous games will be great fun. GM Kryzs has put forward a Changing breeds and GM Bill has a bag of Indie options also including a 13 Age. I also poked GM Jack who I think could be blackmailed at a push to run something. So all told lots of options depending on who turns up but just like selecting a new pope, there is a lot of smoke and dagger at first, out of which will arise a new order of gods and demons.

So come along and join a cult of your choosing!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Last chapter

The MERP has now ended in a style of its own. Whilst I had thought the session would be a 30 minuteish round off, most of the hard work having been done, the party still managed to faff it out for the full two hours. Unbelievable. They had just entered the Ancient Kingdom of Angmar where the Witch King presided over affairs during his reign. As corruption devoured him, he had constructed a Nexus between the planes of the living and  the dead for his work as a necromancer, where the party simply had to turn left and burn the book. However our Tom Cruise Mage, interested on who the book liked the most, decided to simply throw it off the side of a mountain to see where it would teleport back to. Unfortunately, it decided not to teleport anywhere.
Off we go then. Two more Golems were on their tail made their presence felt, although to be clever about it I made them flying bone Golems rather than clunky stone Golems to stop this incessant use of stone to mud. Sadly for me however our mage had sneaked a peek at the book earlier and had picked up some nice evil Flesh Destruction spells on which lists he managed to find Break Bone, literally disarming one of them. Very clever I suppose. However the fight started to turn into a bit of a sit com as the Golems were after the book and not the players so they tried to fly off down the cliff. Panicking, both the mage and animist managed to climb aboard a golem each and a sort of unearthly merry go round/ frogger game ensued as the Golems went flying back and forth with magic users on their backs. Cut a long and bizarre story short, they did eventually dispatch their mounts and get to where they were supposed to.
Sadly they had faffed me out of time so a few surprises didn't happen but I did get the chance to offer them unlimited immortal power and a kingdom of their own, rather then burn any books, but sadly, they did stick to their quest and the peoples of Middle Earth can once again get on with their 4th Age.
A mightly enjoyable adventure I would say more so because of some considerable off roading plotwise but as its a club game I had to draw down the curtain eventually. If it was a home game then I suspect that they would be riding those Golems off into the distance. In fact I suspect they would never have left Minas Tirith in the first place, being duly sidetracked by a particularly interesting piece of cheese. Anyway, here for whoever may find it is a glorious freeze to mark our adventures in Middle Earth etched by our very own Fade.
GM Bill is also putting his Bronze Age Mythological 13th Age game on timely pause so more news on the new GMs later, but if you have been out of the club habit for a while then now is the perfect time to put it back on again so come along and have a drink with your favourite geeks!


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Necromancer Slippers

The game is afoot in the MERP as the players finally  encroach on the lair of the Witch King. As mighty and feared as the Nazgul were, as a GM one has to address a significant amount of detail in order to maintain a certain level of ambience and context. It consequently means that I have had to give some thought as to the layout and décor of the habitat of said undead. Now I get the impression from the Lord of the Ring books that the Nazgul were trapped in the very throes of death yet sustained in unlife, tortured, with no choice but to scream in torment to enact the will of their Dark Lord. But in all of this melodrama would they not have had some respite in the little things? A comfortable throne to sit on or perhaps a nice pair of slippers for the evening. The point is that I have had to determine the living arrangements of a long dead and forgotten King. But of course the clue is in the question as not actually being alive does mean that living arrangements are sort of missing the point somewhat.
So Nazgul habitats exhibit the presence one would expect from former Mage Commanders of  great evil armies and also the regal but wasting décor of long lost palaces; their bodies having long since corrupted away reflects in their now abandoned fortresses and the lands over which they governed.
The party have thus entered the ruins of Minas Ithil and whilst the stone tower and battlements have remained standing, the interiors have all collapsed. Our party worked their way up an immensely long winding stair to the summit of the main watchtower. From here stood four doors; two leading West and South outside to a viewing balustrade, one magical but closed to the East and one open to a glowing corridor to the North extending beyond the physical limits of the tower itself. Our mage did attempt to open the door to the East as he had accidently been reading evil books earlier in the day that he shouldn't have and picked up a very powerful 'undoor' command. But like anyone wielding great power that is suddenly thrust upon them quite late in the evening, mistook undoor for unlock and vaporized the aforementioned gateway and its lintel, the tower roof groaning structurally in reply.
Still, building regs notwithstanding they party have skipped down a magical rabbit hole and are now somewhere else entirely....

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Bathtime is definitely over

OK, so, correct me if I am wrong, but last week I blogged about the curious obsession our Mage had with sailing and other associated water based activities. Obviously he was something like a fish in a previous life, and, depending on the enemies waiting in the rest of the plot, may have that experience again. However this is not Spelljammer.
To be fair despite his passion for sailing, snorkelling and demolitions, last week did see the sinking of a pirate ship. I had hoped that the party would go head to head with the bad guys in swashbuckling style which would have ended in a face off between good and evil mages. However, in the special forces world of underwater wizards, the ship and crew were first deprived of their point guards, then their ship, then their wits, then some of their loot and finally in many cases their lives. Once the pirates had nowhere to float due do to repetitive mystical hull failure then there was no option but to abandon ship, gather what loot they could an bugger off. Alongside other harassments, the bottom line is that once a pirate has no ship then technically he is really just an unshaven thug looking for a panto.
However, as I felt the party were getting away with far too much subterfuge, another couple of Golems turned up to hassle them. It was at this point that our other mage decided that of all things, going sailing was the best idea. Unbelievable. So off we go, other mage jumps on the party boat and launches into his apparently true calling. Five minutes later he is covered in rope and the ship is gently rotating away with the tide, and despite protestation of "Surely I know something about boats" we start random anchoring procedures, almost ripping the bow off. There was a method in the complete madness though as whilst one golem was taken out quickly, the other waded out towards the mage and, as it swam as well as any other brick, couldn't really do much other than position itself directly  below the hull on the river bed. So there was a sort of underwater Mexican standoff. Eventually the boat was brought back into shore, followed by a golem unceremoniously splodging through the silt, at which point the other mage cast mud to stone in true mafia style and left a flailing construct stuck in concrete to watch the ebbing and flowing of the tides for all eternity. Perhaps we should have called this a 'plan' in retrospect but I'm still not clear on whether to award experience or take it away.
Either way, bathtime is now definitely over.


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Plane Sailing

Yes, forgot about this one until everyone reminded me last week; the road to the negative plane is paved with good intentions they say. More to the point, it is one thing to have a good idea but it is quite another in having the skills or charisma to carry that idea out. Take for example our Tom Cruise/Mage character class player who, not being content for the party to adventure along a river bank with their horses like any other party decided it would be a much better idea if he teleported himself fifty miles back up river to fetch a boat whereupon the party could then presumably take their time, enjoy watching the scenery drift past, perhaps do a bit of fishing and quaff the occasional Riocha. Not really fully absorbing this the rest of the party shrugged their collective shoulders and off he popped.
Now mages are traditionally brought up within stone towers, bent double squirreling over ancient books and straining under dim candlelight for many years- exactly what boat handling and navigation skills they would acquire during this period I am unsure. In fact I would go as far as to say I was a little sceptical. So here is a GM's perspective on the events.
Mage teleports, makes his casting roll and doesn't end up inside a brick wall. Ok so far.
Standing in the docks at Osgiliath. he asks 'OK, so can I see a boat?'
Mmm ok player makes a perception roll and finds an old boat on stocks in a warehouse. GM rolls to see if the boat is seaworthy, smells of prawns or will instantly sink. Made a reasonable roll so it will float but the rigging is not set. However as the Mage is in fact a Mage, he has no idea about this.
'Cool! Teleport the boat into the water !'
OK, makes his teleport roll so the boat doesn't end up on the opposite bank and hey presto boards as its shiny new captain.
'Off we go then!'
Nick rolls his seamanship. This is where the issues begin - not a great roll, which is mostly irrelevant as having spent no time on anything even resembling a boat, the roll is versus a sheer folly modifier. In other words if he randomly plays with stuff is there a quantum chance it all starts working. No is the answer surprisingly.
So Nick makes another roll to see which side of the Osgiliath bridge he is on. Makes it annoyingly enough as we could have been looking at some sort of wonderful docking attempt with a stone bridge, however he is on the right side of the seaway as it happens. Off we drift. And drift is the correct word. Having failed all attempts at rigging, navigation and boat handling, the boat gently moves out into the river and rotates slowly as it meanders down river. A couple of days later he eventually floats past the point where he left everyone, but of course its the middle of the night and he hasn't the faintest idea where he is. The other mage in the party thinks he saw something on the river so wanders down to the bank and whispers "Is anybody there?". A quarter of a mile away, Captain Mage happily journeys onwards counting the stars. Getting towards dawn, the coastal relief start to look very unfamiliar at this point and so remarkably he gets the boat to the shore, secures it and walks his way back upriver to the party, all of whom now decide that its probably a good idea to keep using the horses.

What a delightful waste of time.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Disdyakis Triacontahedrons

From time to time I do review the tools of the trade, principally dice of course as there is, to be fair, quite a wide opportunity for creativity in the market and occasionally beautiful sculptures bordering on artwork.
Let me say now that the D120 is not one of these items. What in gods name needs a D120 ? The manufacturers are of course not stupid and are producing to demand but I cant think from my addled memory what mechanic involves 120 in any system I have come across. I do know I roll a ot of dice for things like fireballs, falling damage and scalar multipliers for when a Deathstar shoots a hobbit but nothing consistently in the D120 range. The sales pitch reads:
"The ultimate fair dice allowed by Mother Nature (i.e., mathematics)! The d120 is based on a polyhedron known as the disdyakis triacontahedron. Each face is an elongated triangle. These dice are perfectly numerically balanced, with the same sums for numbers around vertices of the same type. The dice are available in white, black, red, blue, and green.
 The d120 can be used as a dn, where n is any proper factor of 120, including all of the dice in a standard seven-dice polyset."

 Good luck to them I say.
I have also come across the occasional player with metal dice and given the passion I have for gaming I would consider splashing out on something a bit special. Beyond a certain weight of course other factors come into play as I wouldn't want to damage equally expensive roleplaying systems by rolling pointy steel over them. Also it has to be said that I am not getting any younger but there may come a day where I will struggle to lift something made from cast iron. Might be a case of getting nurse to roll for me. There is a kickstarter actually at
What is interesting about this, and their products do look great I think, is that they say that they use processes that date back 5000 years! I do know that Pythagoras must have been a role player in waiting circa 500BC as he was theory crafting his perfect platonic solids well in advance of the D4 as well as being heavily into mysticism, so unknowingly did much to lay the groundwork for the RPG systems of today. Shame he never played Age of Empires. However I am not sure what roleplaying options there were over 5000 years ago, other than to play additional caveman modules but perhaps the foresight of our ancestors caused them to create the dice ahead of their time without knowing what they were for; which came first, the D20 or the RPG ?

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

What's your favourite Golem?

Always an easy filler for someone running a game; when an argument starts to get out of control with a particularly ardent player a GM can have the last word in may ways; my favourite rebuttal is always "Oh, you seem to hear heavy footsteps...". Actually its not often I have come across Golems but they are in post modern terms the 'tank' of an attacking or defending party. The principal idea is an entity made of a single material that is basically a huge hit point sink and often their size and mass leads to an overwhelming attack bonus also. This is all supposed to be balanced against a low or even mechanical level of intelligence and specific vulnerabilities inherent in their construction material. Additionally the basic or the literal commands they are given can cause them to exhibit odd and often amusing behaviour. They are great fun for some party bashing without having to think too much and often party members are in the mind-set of detailed planning and outwitting cunning opponents which can lead to misjudging events where brick shithouses are concerned.
In the last MERP, the party were rudely interrupted by a couple of stone golems attempting to retrieve an item stolen from their overwatch. By deftly jumping around a lot, out manoeuvring them, hitting them repetitively and a mage transmuting them using elemental spells, the party eventually returned them to the dust from whence they came. Touch and go for a bit as the Dwarf suffered a serious blow to his back.
Reminiscing on Golems of note I was originally enchanted as a child by the stop motion action of the 70s as pioneered by the late Ray Harryhausen. Despite the animations clear limitations his clever use of choreography did as comparable a job of immersing a viewer as the special effect itself. Great stuff. More recently, though arguably are the Angels from Dr Who which I have a fondness for and whilst I am worn very thin these days by the constant barrage of people in lycra hitting each other, The Thing could be considered as having a thick skin I think and also the rock monster from Galaxy Quest who just wants to be left alone.
As for best advice ?  Perhaps just stay very still and don't say anything..

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Roleplaying Community

GMing at a public facing club is a very different experience than the traditional home games I am historically used to. We are a very laid back organisation, if indeed I can call it an organisation, which is a good thing really as organisations tend to make opinions which lead to rules which lead to empires which lead to anger which lead to fear which lead to Sith Lords, which is no good unless you are running a Star Wars. I cant remember my point, but given that we can get variable membership as players come and go and also that we roughly try and finish multiple games at the same time for players to mix and get more choice, it does mean that GMs are faced with crowbarring certain things to happen at certain times.
At a home game things can ramble on in a much more natural and open world fashion and its not unusual for  a GM's game plot to be completely re-written on the fly. Clubwise I prefer something a little more linear which has its pros and cons but when players want to go in completely different directions, I cant always spend the time running subplots for them as attention can be split too much in shortish sessions. Like all wizened approaches, its a balance really and still great fun.

As a community people often tend to hook up at the club and, like spores from the mould, float off and start new colonies. Or perhaps the jukebox just winds them up too much, but either way there can be turn over of players within a particular adventure which is not always a bad thing as a characters can immediately be re-delivered with some history if a regular player drops out for any reason.
Interestingly there is a seasonal pattern when people and possibly larpers like to enjoy the good weather and warm evenings and we can often see a surge back again as the nights turn cold. We should run a sub text for our club media of Winter is Coming...

As for the last MERP, well there were a few crap rolls involved so best gloss over it really. As for the 13th Age, it continues to be a mystery out of the game to me as well as in but I shall press the relevant players to divulge bloggable embarassments for next week.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Soul Matters

I almost got him down to less than 10 hit points for a hitherto overly confident slashing machine. The most recent MERP saw the party show down and slow down against four screaming wights. More to the point that the previously mentioned Tom Cruise/Mage (that is in fact a dual character class) went in first levitation style and lowered himself down a burial tunnel into a crypt. Very rapidly he discovered that he was both being clawed at as well as having his power points drained by non corporeal spirits.

Fortunately the Dwarf and then Animist lowered themselves into the fray, narrowly avoiding a situation where the Mage was considering ascending back through the entrance as the others were coming down. Being in a crypt this is as close to a near death experience as I have seen them in yet. With an hour of nail biting combat as well as plenty of healing spells the party have kept their spirits intact and I have to presume they are a little wiser also. It is also worth noting that the location is not yet necessarily done. The other Mage remains outside clutching the Book trying to stay out of harms way. Whether clutching an evil spell book is better or worse than fighting undead spirits in a crypt I have no idea. Guess we'll find out.

How close does death get in MERP ? Well there is a little wiggle room actually. After a character passes zero, they pass out. However they can continue to lose hits if bleeding or on fire etc, until a negative number equal to their constitution. After that, the soul departs over a 6 round period. As the soul begins to wend its way it is an opportunity for it to do other weird and wonderful things, like be captured in an item, held indefinitely by magical means, astral project or potentially be taken to the negative plane as an undead of some description. This is where Animists are worth their weight in herbs as they can preserve the body or soul until suitable animation or healing is applied. Systems vary enormously and some are a mater of fact but I like the more ethereal options in MERP.

With regard to the 13Age update from GM Bill I am informed that his NPCs are more fashionable than mine. Well I say that beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder.


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Tomb Raider

With a somewhat of an undead adventure going on in the MERP its time for a bit of tomb raiding. Our party find themselves inside a peaceful mausoleum within a beautiful clearing in an ancient forest. Dead people were presumably alive once and there's nothing more embarrassing than cracking open the wrong tomb, only to back up apologetically. Still people say that we should all talk more about death and not be so embarrassed. Not sure that means with those concerned though.
A bit like stealing Mars Bars, cracking open burial chambers wouldn't be considered deserving of a maximum security prison sentence but we should all conduct our selves with decorum when it comes to chambers with Do Not Disturb chiselled onto the door. Best practice is an issue here.
Its worth considering whether an adventuring party actually falls into a specific category on professional terms such as a corner, crime technician, priest, archaeologist or historian. By this I mean that ego massaging is often the weapon of choice where dragons are concerned so it could be useful to have an appropriate ID badge should one be challenged by a security conscious or otherwise officious Lich. Basically should you feel bad rummaging through dead bodies and exactly what should you prepare for ? Do you re-consecrate as you go or simply wash your hands thoroughly before tea ?
Necromancers, thieves and Victorian Egyptologists all have their own view on the matter so perhaps its down to negative plane dominion, hard cash and a better quality top hat at the end of the day.
Either way it will be interesting to see what they will do - they are on Gondor business and whilst that doesn't come with a formal warrant to search a coffin, it may help them sleep at night.