Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Mass destruction

Its one thing to lose a character but entirely another to lose a whole army. I don't mean as in "I put it down somewhere and cant find it" I mean the sort of entrenched fight to the death, the last order, the pre posthumous promotion to Field Marshal.
To be fair these are the trials of war and often or not a commanding general is left with no option but to defend with his honour after the bullets run out. Nevertheless spare a thought for the following chap.

34-YEAR-OLD Norman Steele has been left traumatised after his army of space marines was wiped out during a tabletop wargame.

Unemployed Steele could only look on in horror as his miniature battalion of spacesuit-clad Imperium troops was pinned against a fortress wall by six-limbed aliens.

He said: “They were using venom cannons and spore mine launchers. Not real weapons obviously, but scale models vividly painted to look very realistic.

“Anyway we were hugely outnumbered and there was nothing I could do. Everywhere you looked space marines were getting wiped out.

“Since the battle I’ve been unable to look at a picture of any futuristic alien or monster without experiencing flashbacks.

“Worse still I cannot go near a table of any kind without hearing the ominous clatter of dice and the gloating voice of a middle-aged man in a Sepultura t-shirt.

“I just want some professional help to get back to being the quiet, shy man who I used to be.”

We do have a Warhammer Fantasy running as  a home game at the moment so should the worst come to the worst I do hope that GM's are forewarned and have counselling to hand for traumatised players.
This Thursday the Dogs in the Vineyard continues with GM Rob. The party have a new town to repress after concluding our last issue by sending the protagonist away for 're-education' and ensuring that he will never see his son again.
GM Jon will continue his Achtung Cthulu and all the slime and monsters that entails. I cant go into further details as your mental health could be seriously compromised.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Staying Alive

Having recently been goading the current GMs to let me know who kills the first character it does occur to me that I may actually be tempting the fates by encouraging our professional and most honourable game masters to off my comrades before their time. I'm not sure of the Buddhist principal at work here; whether dead roleplaying characters are reborn in another game elsewhere or not, but I would doubt that would appease. Actually, if that was the case and  said character was reanimated in its original game, what would happen to its reincarnation ? I would suppose Karma would hold the universe in balance and take a souls from elsewhere..
Nevertheless, I digress. I do have a lot of respect for Buddhism especially when roleplaying it but in order to balance my previous post I had a quick whip round for the best tips on staying alive. So you definitely have no excuse to blame me when you do something monumentally stupid.
Here are some top pointers form our most learned contemporaries:

1. Don't spilt the Party -Adrian
2. Don't argue with the GM -Adrian
3. Never summon anything bigger than your head -Jon
4. Don't open the box -Jon
5. Don't attack the blind, crippled beggar... -Jon
6. Don't say, "this should be easy " - Julian
7. If the GM asks "Are you sure?" then you should be afraid -Mike
8. Never make assumptions. The obvious usually conceals the devious. - Jo
9. Never call your character 'Hugo', or you'll be taking all the risks -Chrish
10. Once a d20 has rolled 1, it should be removed from play -Chrish
11. Always pass saving throws -Rob
12. Seduce the GM. -Rob
13. Melt dice that failed you down in front of your other dice. -Rob

I sense that they are talking from bitter experience in previous lives.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Not dead yet

OK, The Achtung Cthulu game was full last week and despite this I hear that GM Jon was still unable to kill any of the characters. Here's hoping for some headlines next week but in his very own words his game report read:
"Anyone die last week Jon?"
'Fraid not! They searched a murder victim's lodgings (and noticed some of his books were missing), disturbed (and recruited) his neighbour and fellow historian, then consulted a dodgy bookseller. Having been passed a message containing an equation for entropy they somehow realised that Boltzmann's tomb would be significant. They visited the cemetery, determined that something had been recently buried near the tomb and were planning to return after dark.
Meanwhile, the British spies received a message from HQ directing them to Rome and we discovered a disturbing element of MI6 tradecraft, when Professor Fischer got hold of some of their cover cafe's "special" brownies...
There could be bloodshed this week though! Jon"
I should really be taking bets on this.
And in another world completely GM Rob's Dogs in the Vineyard is tightening its grip around family values with the party trying to convince a young man that rushing off to university is in fact borderline blasphemous and he really should consider staying at home doing his chores for the rest of his life. Honestly, you cant tell kids anything these days.
Which game will claim its first character...? Tune in next week folks..

Thursday, 12 February 2015


OK, I have completed all of the quests, killed all the dragons and stolen all of the Hobbits and am now back from my adventures in Skyrim and am very happy to share all of my photos with you. As fascinating as I know you will find it, I will distil them down to one gem of a shop in the Gamla Stan for those who may venture that way.

As a hark back to the days of the Forbidden Plant and Virgin Megastore I found myself cast into the past and surrounded by real physical books and no virtual shopping cart. I wasn't sure what to do at first but as I understand it one can wander around the establishment, pick up the items of choice, flick through them as necessary and actually take them along to a human being who will exchange them for your money and put them in a bag. You can then leave if you are still a little confused.

By way of a competition with absolutely no reward at all, see how many systems you can identify behind the particularly handsome chap on the left.

It is heartening to know that Roleplaying is a truly international passion and I didn't get a chance to play alongside our resident Swede whilst he was in the country, sorry Nils, but you come from a beautiful computer game and hopefully you too are acquainted with the real shops in your capital city. I did procure some more dice and am relieved to say that D10s do have the same number of sides abroad as they do in this country.

I tried to get an autograph from Han Solo but there was a queue and he wasn't being very responsive.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Ready, Steady, Roleplay

Last week saw the 5e game go on pause now as the party returned to Neverwinter to assess their situation and count some recently acquired loot from a Dragon, though I wouldn't be surprised if it would be wanting it back at some point. There are some other choices to be made but that is for another time.

GM Johnathan will begin preliminaries for the Achtun Cthulu with the aim of starting the week after so grab a character if you are about; I'm in for that one.

And last week GM Rob did some Dogs in the Vineyard prep - I suspect there will be a little more to do as players settle in for the first time but basically it is under starters orders for a good Bible bashing.

And finally I myself am formally on pause for a week as I have booked some annual leave to see Santa in Skyrim, in other words I am going camping in Lapland. In Winter. Where it is very cold. If I come across any Zombie Nazis I'll let you know. Or not, depending on what happens, but if they find my camera then my last photos of chomping undead will probably get posted here.

Next post in 2 weeks...

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Achtung Dogs!


New games are afoot , though I think there may be a final 5e session before the Achtung Cthulu kicks in. GM Rob will be doing the prep and character generation for the Indy game Dogs in the Vineyard.

If you fancy an opportunity to tell people you are right at the point of a shotgun then Dogs in the Vinyard is for you. If you have ever been one of those knockers of the faith and put up with the usual 99.9 of door slamming, this is a great opportunity to let off steam and realise a world where you are subsequently allowed to kick in aforementioned door.

 From Wikipedia: The game is set in "a West that never quite was"—loosely based on the Mormon State of Deseret in pre­statehood Utah, Players are "God's Watchdogs" (Dogs), who travel from town to town delivering mail, helping out the community and enforcing the judgements of the True Faith of the King of Life. This may involve anything from delivering new interpretations to the town's Steward to executing heretics. Dogs have absolute authority within the Faith, but not within the laws of the Territorial Authority, and so their actions can lead to conflict with the government in the East.
"Sometimes it’s better for one to die than for many to suffer."
"Sometimes, Dog, sometimes you have to cut off the arm to save the life."

On another plane of existence GM Johnathan will be summoning a game of Achtung! Cthulu beginning February. ­A fusion of Call of Cthulu and Savage Worlds where the heroes find themselves in the secret B movie occult subculture of World War II. Think Raiders of the lost ark on a much lower budget. From the publisher: Achtung! Cthulhu brings you a two­fisted wartime roleplaying game setting packed full of fiendish Nazi scientists, terrifying ancient mysteries, legendary German war machines, desperate partisans, gun­toting paratroopers, determined investigators, and enough writhing tentacles to pack ten Reichstags. Discover the secret history of World War Two ­ stories of the amazing heroism which struggled to overthrow a nightmare alliance of science and the occult, of frightening inhuman conspiracies from the depths of time, and the unbelievable war machines which were the product of Nazi scientific genius ­ and how close we all came to a slithering end!
Zombie Nazis, insanity, no hope of rescue and humanity's inevitable and terrifying end..­ count me and my trusty, soon to be eaten alive npc sidekick, in!

 See you there in one guise or another.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Dragons and Sombreros

The end times are upon us once again.
In the DnD5e the party have, remarkably, managed to chase off a dragon. This surprises me given the large number of scales and teeth they generally have but I take their word for it, though I suspect it may suddenly have realised it had left the gas on at home.. there is some work still to be done by the party as I understand it but the end of this chapter of the game is in sight.
In another reality entirely the 13thAge adventurers almost put down an evil Wizard just in time for tea before a portal to the demon world opened and a Dragon presented itself along with a shuffling possey of undead. Whilst we are chipping at the dragon, I'm a little concerned that the portal is more like a monster generator out of Gauntlet - not sure what the priority is as we are in the middle of combat. Do we chip at the dragon, slay the undead or try and close the portal ? This I think actually will be the life or death decision for us as 'Paladin is about to die'. If only we had a magic potion...or some spare change.
Nevertheless, live or die, we have a couple of new games on the cards and I'll advertise them in more detail next post but one is a Western RPG. Think the characters are in fact all Mormon hard liners but it did get me wondering as to the genre. I'm leaning to ward either playing a Clint Eastwood or possibly a Mexican bandit but I don't think the characters will work in a Mormon party. It also raises the question of how large a sombrero can get before looking ridiculous. The other game on the cards is Achtung Chtulu - basically think Zombie Nazis and you're half way there. An opportunity for plenty of classic B movie action and on balance I think I may sign up for that one.
Either way, if you are thinking of coming along then now is a good time as change is upon us!


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Useless Christmas presents

So its that time of year, 358 days until Christmas. A good month to expend any accrued gift tokens and to return any useless shit so thoughtfully gifted by loved ones. Its the thought that counts, even if those thoughts have been sucked out by malevolent undersea tentacle gods. For my part I attempted to buy some roleplaying friends the most useless dice I could possibly find. At some point I bought some stuff from thediceshoponline.com , some ridiculous prices but I had the money and needed to share my passion for finely crafted pointless things.

Perhaps you would disagree:
The D2 - I would suppose there are actually quite a lot of 50/50 decision to be taken in a typical game but tbh never really needed a dedicated dice for that and I have always been wealthy enough to own a 2 pence piece. The D3 - No idea. The D7 - Thought I was being clever but then realised of course there are 7 days in a week so perhaps let myself down on that one. The D18 - 2 less than a useful 20. The D22 - 2 more than a useful d20. The D24 - 2 more pointless than a d22. And finally the infamous D60.

As for club business, well we will restart the games this Thursday (The 13th Age and Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition) but there are some new games due soon so if you have a new years resolution at all then come back and play with your favourite geeky friends! We miss you and you know who you are, and if you don't have any geeky friends then now is the perfect time to get some.

Happy new Yarballs


Thursday, 25 December 2014

Happy Roleplaying!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A Good 'Ole Book Burning

I get the impression that our 13thAge game is starting its end soon, partially because we are getting beaten up within an inch of our lives but GM Jack is also asking us some tell tale questions. I have enjoyed playing a Paladin enormously and am now just trying to squeeze a few more things onto his bucket list before I have to put him down for a bit. To be honest, despite the fact I think the GM has occasionally felt a little bad about the beatings we have been getting, I have no complaints, particularly as we are still only 1st level characters. Oddly enough it really doesn't seem that way; I have 48 hit points, some magic items as well as some spells. The point is that I try not to get too attached to characters in general and particularly not low level ones; the occasional demise does keep a healthy respect for a game. Anyway, having exposed some undead trafficking in a crypt by an as yet unapprehended cultist, we took a brief break by burning some of his books we found.
The grounds of this particular Cathedral are somewhat of a Hyde Park corner, or religious shop window for recruitment for all of the major religions in town. A veritable extremist shouting match, but nothing raises interest levels more than a good old book burning. The extent to which burning knowledge for the Greater Good is concerned is a fun topic - not sure whether you can call it specifically censorship as opposed to aggressive editing but where there is right there is wrong and is an ignorant lawful citizen better than an educated neutral one ? I feel a Judge Dredd ethics approach coming on... I am a little curious if my character would extend this to burning witches and the like - I wouldn't want any creature to suffer for the sake of it but some heinous characters do need to be made an example of and people need to know where evil will inevitably lead. Sort of fighting fire with fire.
Book burning has a long and esteemed history but I am a little perturbed that the Wikipedia article doesn't cover book burning in a particularly good light so I might try an make a case; more so as there isn't an option to burn web pages.
I suppose we will find out where this will go in due course, but for now we believe our arch villain to be a member of the Lamp Lighters Guild. One of those invisible but ubiquitous professions suited to serial killers and leafleters. The bastards.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Great Dalmuti

Its on occasion when a GM can't make it for some reason that people pull out various weird and wonderful board and card games. A couple of weeks ago for example we played Zombie Fluxx and Love letter. Zombie Fluxx is a wonderful chaos where there are so many cards in play its madness just trying to work out what is going on and, just when you think you are about to win, they are all collected in and reset. I would suppose panic and chaos are essential ingredients in any Zombies apocalypse. Good fun but I won my first game without even realising it; like a lot of rule sets its a matter of getting to know the cards. Love letter, however, is a much faster paced game of deduction whilst trying to discard all of your cards - much more amenable to a round of drinks.
Nevertheless, my favourite by far is The Great Dalmuti, more so as you can actually roleplay if you have able bodied people who are prepared to be shouted at and scorned for being plebs. Basically its a game of social standing and everyone is arranged in a circle, playing a particular ranking character. We have a Great Dalmuti, a Lesser Dalmuti, various Merchants/middle men, a Greater Peon and, the lowest of the low, the Lesser Peon. The lesser Peon is responsible for collecting in the cards, re-dealing and general tidying up in as miserable a way as possible.
I prefer to add some spice and arrange the room appropriately. The nicest chair, usually a comfortable  office swivel one with arm rests is for the Great Dalmuti, the lesser Dalmuti gets perhaps a fixed chair without armrests, but very comfortable nonetheless, the merchants can have nice big pillows to sit on or optional bean bag if available, the Greater Peon, perhaps a folded bath towel and finally the Lesser Peon, nothing at all - or maybe a flannel if its Christmas. I also like to give the Great Dalmuti a seal of office such as an umbrella and/or hat; something to poke people with is fine.  Just like the Stanford Prison Experiment, given the right tools, its wonderful to watch the game roll.
The game is a bit like gin rummy, and there is a race to lose your cards each round to retain your standing. The first to lose their cards becomes the Great Dalmuti, the second the Lesser Dalmuti and so on. Unfortunately for the Peons, the deck is always a bit stacked against them as the Dalmutis tax them a couple of their best cards at the beginning of each round but there is sometimes the option of Revolution when the kings swap places with the beggars.
During play idle chat is fine, provided it goes through the proper channels. Everyone should be polite and reverential to the Dalmutis, though they should always ask permission from the Lesser Dalmuti before addressing the Greater Dalmuti directly, laugh at their Jokes and generally tell them how wonderful they are. Merchants can generally be agreeable and self affirming whilst people should talk down to the Peons and make sure that they are getting on with things. The Lesser Peon should always go through the Greater Peon before addressing anyone or be beaten/poked with an umbrella.
One for the family at Christmas if you don't mind not talking to them for a week....

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Illustrious history of Poultry

So, people are taking the **** a bit at the moment as I have just started to play Skyrim, hugely rated for its open world scenarios it nevertheless slips occasionally into ye olde artificial intelligence. My first encounter, perhaps like all first impressions, has shaped my destiny it seems. It was dark, snowing and I was trying to find refuge for the night when I stumbled across a small town - I would guess its the one nearest the initial spawn point. New to the game and with a slow computer, I was struggling a little but it was playable, so I staggered through the open gates looking for the Inn. The locals appeared benign enough in an automaton sort of way, when suddenly there was a sound next to me and I was set  upon out of nowhere. Panicking and turning around with my great axe in hand, and I think it was even a misclick, I naturally swiped out at what transpired to be a chicken (presumably on guard duty) deftly slaying it in an instant. It was at this point that every local in the vicinity drew their knives and dived onto me psychotically stabbing and slashing. Still not quite sure of what was going on I defended myself against these screaming fanatics until a small pile of dead bodies had the last word, including unfortunately, someone who I was supposed to talk to. Well, I decided to carry on with the game but have not since returned to the City of Holy Poultry, but honestly, if I accidentally killed someones Chicken in the real world I would not expect a national outcry.

So, I'm not sure what I learnt but it did bring back happy memories of other Chickens I have crossed on my gaming road. Notably the Dungeon Keeper chickens were some of the most amusing. Not actually a force for good or evil as such, buy you could possess them and immerse yourself in their gestalt- wandering around a dungeon and occasionally pecking at the ground - what better way to while away the hours.

Not really a role playing game at all but I cant resist reminiscing about my favorite teenage arcade game, Joust. Not chickens as such bit magnificent flying ostrich type war creatures with mounted jousting Knights, that when colliding, the player or npc with the lower lance would be dismounted. Survival depended on successfully jousting through each wave. Oh and if you flew too close to the lava at the bottom of the screen a molten hand would rise and try and grab your birds legs, dragging them into the fiery mire. Brilliant.

More on topic I am reminded of the Rolemaster War Turkey. There isn't enough room here to post the stats as its Rolemaster; not that one should be too concerned on the field of battle but I would suggest budding generals not underestimate them when deployed in force.

And finally the Cockatrice, not to be underestimated, whilst you are laughing at a dragon with a chickens head, you are in danger of staying that way as if you fail the petrification, you'll suddenly be made of stone. Not sure what would be worse - the feeling of your bones turning to masonry or the fading sound of clucking laughter as you pass away realizing that you've just won a Darwin award...

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


This last week we got into a bit of a pickle. Continuing on our trail of dead bodies we are currently up to our collective knees (currently even in number) in undead. It would seem that our keen deductive skills have led us to the conclusion that if you are looking for someone who is making Zombies, then perhaps a Crypt would be a good place to start.
Now, to be fair, its clearly an inside job from one of the priests running the place but they don't seem to think so. Evidence is not always something that would convince  a religious nutter but due diligence means we are now forced into a corpse audit. So, as a Paladin, I am of course concerned with what is right and wrong but does this extend to stock taking? Not sure, I would suppose it depends on how I feel about it but how does it work in the real world ? I know for example a library has to have a stock take - it shuts, counts the books, and reopens. But what about a graveyard or an aforementioned Crypt.. In the real world I suppose you wouldn't expect bodies to disappear but how would you actually know ? The whole point is to eliminate expectations altogether and audit properly.
Nevertheless, we started the arduous task of counting the graves and bodies. Didn't take long of course before we came across some loose brickwork and we are now fighting for our lives - in the region of 20 skeletons - worryingly some of which are standing at the back waving their arms and I don't think they are trying to get our attention.
Out of curiosity here is the link to the UKGov document on advice for burial ground managers.
I was just curious if audits were in fact mandatory in the real world or if three was anything else that may help us in our current quest, though I don't suppose that we can effectively fight undead with red tape. I do however note that :
"2.23 Burial authorities may contribute towards the provision or maintenance of burial grounds in which their inhabitants may be buried "
"may be buried" !?..... If there are indeed inhabitants of burial grounds that may not be buried there then who or what are we talking about exactly....

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

You gotta laugh

Despite the dark side of the comic book character genre there is also its rather more satirical side; a sort of caricature of a caricature Whilst I have played quite a few heroes system as such - GURPS supers come to mind as my preferred , hero/villain character generation just cries out for parody; it just seems to come naturally out of the advantage/ disadvantage or power/ vulnerability points systems. My last favourite character in this regard was a superfast explosive expert by the name of Mr Mollotov, who could flash into a scene, assemble complex explosives at superfast speeds and dash out again. Wonderful superskills in principal but balanced by severe DTs, chain smoking, caffeine addiction and insomnia -basically a nervous wreck. I'm sure everyone has their favourite.

 But for those who don't know there are onliners who have taken up this particular cause and created some wonderful comic strips in the meta. Thanks to Mike and Jules for chipping in some of these links.
The first I came across was Goblins: The trial and tribulations of level 1 miscreants and what they have to put up with on a day to day basis. Fumbles is an excellent name for a character by the way.
Webcomics: DM of the Rings. This one is like the Red vs Blue video satire but set in Middle Earth, where everyone is just trying to work out what is going on....
Darths and Droids. My favourite I think - such an easy read with the scene selection its an absolute pleasure to flick through.
Oh, and I note that The Knights of Basassdom is now finally out on demand. Horribly flawed for the casual film buff but enough in it to make it a worthy giggle for the gamer :-) 4 out of 5 stars.