Tuesday, 10 July 2018

D&D Fourth Edition Version 2

Without wanting to eclipse an outstanding role playing system it's perfectly honourable in life to take a path forged by one's own mistakes. This by definition means that we all have skeletons in the closet and, necromancer's wardrobes notwithstanding, we should all judge things on their own merits by and large.

So for all the fanfare of 5e there is it's dark and twisted uncle that never comes down from the Attic; you know he is there and the bowl of blood you leave at the bottom of the stairs each evening is always empty in the morning. Ok, perhaps I'm stretching the analogy a little too far but basically 5e would not have happened if not for the curse of 4.

But this is not a D&D article. When Wizards of the coast changed the licensing for the new version 4, Paizo publishing lost the rights to its D&D periodicals. From that moment, Pathfinder was born. Released in 2008 it has not only curated the D&D tradition but spawned its own avid fan base as a sound system in its own right. But more than this, after a decade public play testing for Version 2 is underway. 

Paizo are aiming to smooth over some of the complexities of v1, speed up the play and clarify some options for higher level magic. Whilst its all understandably fluid at present, they are retaining their graphical heritage having confirmed their original artist Wayne Reynolds will be commissioned for the new graphics. Its should result in a very reassuring investment for fans whilst breaking new ground. Not something that  re-branding projects should just expect to work automatically...

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Sense and Predujice

This week in roleplaying news sees the eagerly awaited Jane Austin kickstarter hits its marks. Period drama is not something that particularly twists my melon and I am not sure how I would identify someone into late 19th century literature other than from heaving bosoms and an unrequited sense of longing. Last thing I longed for was a packet of Doritos and I was suitably sated by provisioning from my local co-operative. To be fair I did really engage with the Song of Ice and Fire with respect to its intrigue plots but whilst this is more medieval fantasy, social rankings are something to be constantly wary of both in terms of improving status and avoiding knives in the back. Faction standings crop up in quite a lot of systems and interestingly for Blades in the Dark, its important that your criminal gang also maintains its respect among competitors.

The producers of "Good Society" promise tales of high intrigue, sly glances and turns in the garden that capture the countenance of Jane Austen.

But intrigues of marriage and the struggles of juggling relationships are a bit too disengaging for me. They say that boys are interested in things and girls are interested in people so perhaps its a gender divide; these are not escapist concepts for me really unless they are on a space station....I would consider subscribing to Jane Austen in Space though provided airlocks were readily available.

I do quite enjoy the prose from Regency and Victorian works bar some of the mega novels such as War and Peace and Dickens can be a bit drab but in the right hands classic narrative can be captivating. Lovecraft springs to mind but in its most recent incarnation, the narrative to Darkest Dungeon is delightful.

"At last, in the salt-soaked crags beneath the lowest foundations, we unearthed that damnable portal of antediluvian evil. Our every step unsettled the ancient earth...but we were in a realm of death and madness! In the end, I alone fled laughing and wailing through those blackened arcades of antiquity...until consciousness failed me"
....and here is someone losing their mind

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

I'm Melting


You cant put a price on art they say. From a Faberge egg to a urinal installation , if something is thought provoking then someone somewhere is going to pay a lot of money for it. Personally I wouldn't buy a Urinal for my lounge in the same way I wouldn't piss on a Faberge, but I digress. On the part of GMs, well, they have stories to tell and whether its folklore or fantasy lore they all have a beginning, a middle and most importantly an ending.

I am a big fan of endings myself which is why I don't particularly gel to the newer Marvel type movies that always seem to leave room for a sequel or reboot somehow but when a legendary character is killed off there is a really satisfying feeling of completion. Everything just gets more authentic when it finishes and a life story is only validated when it ends as there is no more room for doubt at that point; one can only then begin to reflect.

So it is with our games and whilst our artists will string things out as for as much quality as they can get, the games are beginning to decay and GMs must let go as their wayward children come of age. More accurately The Strange is a filler game anyway as the Warhammer finished some time ago. Part Time Gods is due for its last session next week, and whilst we finally have our culprit, we may well stretch the GM out a little further if we decide to be awkward. I have heard on the subspace vine that the Star Trek has but a month left to run which may mean that The Exalted can be brought to a comfortable pause as I get the impression GM Andras has more to tell, but the Universe has entropy to collect and we cant wait until the last photon evaporates.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018


Culture is an odd thing. People grasp onto it as among other things it offers a sense of identity and people fight to protect it along national boarders that define who is who.  However, paradoxically no matter how tightly a civilization holds onto its characteristics they will inevitably change. There is a natural law at work I suspect and the same can be said for communities, role players being no exception.

People have their 'ways' of course but I have been wondering if Roleplaying is a cultural phenomena that comes and goes with a civilization or whether it is something deeper akin to the performing arts. Ancient Greece has waxed and waned but their tragedies remain and something similar will be the case for our club. Not to say we are tragic of course but we do have quite a diverse membership. It was Glen who told me that there was a fairly recent BBC article on the resurgence of Roleplaying (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42874044 "The revival of a Geeky Pastime") and we are indeed getting a constant trickle of people at the club it seems. What is interesting is that the summer months are usually a quiet time as players book holidays and crawl out of their cracks in the earth to see the light.

The BBC affords quite an archive of its articles and a cursory search exposes pieces going back to 2004 at which time "In the age of iPods whatever happened to D&D?". Wizards of the Coast paint their picture of course and despite a few wobbly releases they firmly assert that it never really went away and they may have had a point. Either way if civilization collapses you can rest assured that your investment in plastic dice will remain quite secure.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

The Inquisition

Everyone has a breaking point. This is a principal that has driven both sides of the intelligence war for thousands of years from spies to their inquisitors. Latter day politicians continue to sell waterboarding as an interview technique and purgatory on Earth comes in the form of eternal detention where guests somehow never quite qualify for the full and fair trial of civilised society. Don't get me wrong though, this isn't a political tirade nor is it moral ambiguity. Torture works. Indeed it is considered an art by those who you never want to meet and whilst I have a soft spot for psychopaths, we do not sadly have one to hand in the Part Time Gods.

We have been trying to crack a murder case and for better or worse we have captured a suspect along with a sympathiser. When I say suspect I refer to someone manifesting divine powers he shouldn't have whilst trying to kill me in person. This has naturally led to little room for doubt. Sadly my character is not the brightest blue collar worker to grace the sewers of New York so after a couple of weeks of punching people in the face, it's beginning to look like a case of faked identity as our guests really don't seem to know what is going on. Things will not go well but when a killer can appear to be anyone who then can you trust and how can you trust what you see ?

But to be fair, it all comes back to the principals of spycraft; never tell people more than they need to know and if possible, recruit agents without them knowing. Deception is also an art.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

The Stream of many Eyes

A significant shift in tectonics has occurred this week with respect to this years Wizard's of the Coast live twitch "Stream of many eyes" broadcast over the last weekend. Its an important annual event for WotC in terms of engagement and being spread over three days it was also a chance for the designers to sit down in roleplay sessions with some of the internet's more ubiquitous GMs and players from Critical Role.

There is also a sort of implicit keynote during the intimate fireside chats with the brand director Nathan Stewart, as well as some more formal round tables with the D&D architects from the company as a whole but also a healthy dose of cheese as WotC actually built a complete studio in the Waterdeep theme to showcase some of their community initiatives.

The big news though is that "Next month we're going to talk about a couple of different settings that people can start playing as early as this year,". The implication for new world settings is profound in that it could be finally the time we see re-released and updated source books for some of the most loved D&D titles. It may be that only some of the old worlds will be brought back but we are waiting with baited breath for any of the following 5E content: Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Darksun, Dragonlance, Planescape

So keep your many eyes peeled.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Very Strange Indeed

Interdimensional heroes tend to come and go over the years but its worth mentally noting in the background where they actually appear from and where do they disappear off to next ? It's a narrative that underpins all sorts of adventures and characters such as Quantum Leap, The Matrix, Sapphire and Steel, Dr Manhattan, Rick and Morty and Mr Benn to name but a few.

It is a brave GM that stretches themselves across several universes but providing that the detailing is in order than a party can be afforded some scope to follow their whims. Bearing in mind that some environments are a life's work, Tolkeinesque commitment isn't necessarily required to deliver an immersive experience; just make sure your party are kept busy. But sometimes you can get away with sheer shock value, at least for a while and GM Alexi has initiated his first dimensional jump of The Strange into Tellytubby land. This shocked me and I'm not even playing in it.

The sheer impact of the reality does start to give way to logistics as of course Tubby language is very primitive but I understand from the players that more complex communications can be achieved using ones built in monitor. Given of course that the entire universe consists of a small green hill, I trust their dilamma will be short lived. Where they will jump to next will be anyone's guess, though if I were to guess....

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Slings and Arrows of Outrageous fortune

Not entirely inappropriate for a Star Trek rpg, we are indeed quoting Shakespeare now. However I actually refer to last weeks Exalted antics and it was a relief to have back at it after our GM returned from his holiday to put another chapter of the adventure on the table. The quandary of last session was to devise a plan to steal some rare and magical tree petals from the walled and patrolled garden of an influential town chief.

Planning is usually an excruciating and mostly irrelevant pastime in role playing but whether it was by the alignment of the planets or just that no one felt like arguing the toss we concocted an elaborate plan off the bat which comprised shooting at some branches from the other side of the wall and collecting the shavings downstream from a small brook running through the property. A sort or covert remote tactical topiary siege. All that would be needed for the house guard was a small distraction which I was very happy to provide by way of a conga involving as many bar flies as possible.

Problem is that how do you prune a tree from a hundred feet away. Well oddly enough, swiss army arrows have been around for centuries for all sorts of tasks from fire cage heads to rope cutters and as much as I try not to learn new things it was quite interesting to discover what our ancients did with their bow skills. History aside we did appear to be completely successful but the amount of personal mana I had to use in order to manipulate several guards and a long line of drunk people did mean I finished the session with the glowing head of a powerful deity...oh well, perhaps no one will notice..

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Balance and Bloopers

Actually I sit slightly corrected as the Warhammer did have an extra wind up session last week. Not sure what GM Max does to wind up his players but I would say its fair enough after a few months arguing over whether anyone brought the rope or not. For more modern media it would also be appropriate to have a blooper reel I think or even director's commentary at the end of the show but I am unsure as how you would recap all of your fumbles after a game is over; perhaps rerunning a scene with just a D1. This week should now see the start of The Strange from GM Alexi.

We have had some new blood in briefly and big credit has to go to GM Jon for squeezing in the guest players at the absolute last minute but the Star Trek does afford the opportunity to beam in a redshirt at any given moment. I know that two weeks ago Vic triumphantly sacrificed his security character in true Trek style, and last week I very much suspect Dave had a similar dilemma, tho I haven't yet caught up with the rest of the crew for that particular log entry. I am sure I will hear all about it.

Part Time Gods and the Exalted are somewhat sporadic at the moment due to real life issues; as fun as they are when they can be run, there was always going to be the eternal problem with running games alternatively and as much as we have tried to include GMs who express enjoyment in running certain projects, they have, at the end of the day got to be there. Not for want of trying though, I think we can close on the idea in future really as I think we can say we have thoroughly experimented with sharing GM slots and it doesn't work. We will see what happens this week but as always 'if we run it they will come..'

Tuesday, 8 May 2018


Last week saw the Dramatic conclusion of GM Max Warhammer adventure and whilst there may well be more chapters to come, everyone left on a high at the end of the evening. When I say high, I got the impression that it was a bit of a bloodthirsty buzz. Before the session began, I did think the players were a little presumptuous as they were beginning to discuss possible rewards at the end of the session; one I think wanted a Griffin for some reason.. perhaps for laying eggs for breakfast.. whilst it never a bad thing to be ambitious it can also be embarrassing to decide who gets the bad guys magic items particularly whilst he is standing in front of you still wearing them. Basically, rule 243, don't count your Griffins before they hatch.

As the games are all slightly out of sync GM Alexi has offered to run something Strange in the meantime. When I say Strange I think I mean Strange. Not a game I know even after having a beard for many years but it sounds fascinating. From what I could tell its set in a number of parallel universes that diverge more and more as you hop from one to the next; the farther you jump from your original universe then the more difficult it gets to find your way back. In this RPG though your narrative changes with you as inter dimensional jumping does mean you begin to take on the aspects of your new world in terms of your environment but you may of course inherit a different past as well. Sounds like a classic case of multidimensional schizophrenia to me.

GM Jon's Star Trek is about half way through at present so perhaps best described as a classic double episode and the Exalted and Part Time Gods have still a ways to go yet in both of their murder mysteries, but we do now have a suspect for the PTG as people who use spreadsheets shouldn't be able to immolate and teleport. Despite my best as a Rat Catcher, it seems our prey is somewhat more devious... fly paper is not what it used to be I can tell you that.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Sea Quest


So we are a Brighton based club and whilst we inhabit many universes its important to keep it real regarding fish and chips and bank holidays by the sea; apologies if that comes across as too alt right but you are always welcome to jump into a portable hole if you need a safe space.

Interestingly I don't ever recall playing an adventure set underwater and it doesn't particularly seem like a popular choice for GMs. For my own part, I also feel that its not something I would be  interested in doing either; I wonder if its something hidden deep in our genetics akin to a fear of spiders and snakes. I suppose there are significantly more logistics involved in things getting wet tho and to while away the hours arguing over damp waybread doesn't make for the most exciting interactions. I don't suppose the latest incarnation of Aquaman helps much either.

It may be that the days of the Victorian lido and bracing undercliff walks are behind us but the great promenades and seafront arches of Brighton still come alive over the warmer months and something is stirring down there.

Seems that there may be another gaming venue opening its doors as I have heard from a friend of a friend who knows someone who went for a coffee who encountered a roleplaying party. I suspect that along the lines of a coffee shop plus experience the ambience does lean towards the board gamer if the shelves in the pictures are anything to go by. 

So welcome to C:\Side Quest

Barely a stone giants throw away from the pier - do pop in if you are out looking for adventure.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Battle Potatoes

I have not yet tried my luck in the great Kickstarter lottery but a bit like a 21st Centuary Bagpuss,  I do gleefully paw over curiosities that fellow club mates acquire on their clicky travels. Of late, Nick has been sporting a range heavier and heavier dice and whilst there is definitely quality in good workmanship I am concerned that eventually he would need a small civilization to help roll his latest D10 finely cut from a small neutron star. Still, role playing is a very sociable pastime I suppose.

Sadly the only Kickstarter that really had me excited has just gone on pause; its not gone though so there is yet hope but clearly the creators want to do a proper job and are biding their time... I therefore am still potentially very excited to present to you, 

Kartoffle Krieg : Potato Wars

"There are two types of potato in this world - those who peel and those who mash"

Along the lines of a tabletop war gaming, each general is given a number of potatoes together with a choice of armaments and ordinance. After constructing what you consider the most fearsome tuber albeit it a maris sniper or slow but deadly King Edward, you engage on your agreed terrain with all the usual stats and mechanics for resolving table top battle.

Basically you have to watch the Video whilst its still available to get the full effect I think, but what I particularly like is that there are also options for the larp crowd as summer approaches; what better way to enjoy the forest and really be one with nature ? 

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Prison Break

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

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

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

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