Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Santa Pause

Well, its that time of year again. Or specifically it ain't Christmas until Hans Gruber falls off the Nakatomi Plaza. 

Our intelligence services tell me that the Belmont is closed tomorrow due to the Elves so the next formal meet will be on Jan 5th. We are officially on Pause, tho there are rumblings about what may or may not be happening on the 29th- I suspect it may involve ale - if I find out in time I shall drop a quick note here and if I find out too late then I shall write a formal complaint. If I don't find out at all then I will make something up.

Its an interesting juncture in our cycle as the phase of the games have been slightly out of alignment as GM John has been running pre release Star Trek playtest against the manufacturers time scale which has now completed, GM Warren is currently running a popular D&D tho I suspect it hasn't run for enough sessions yet and I was running an extended Chill filler due to the need to juggle both the roleplaying calendar and to absorb additional interest.

So some sort of transition will be in order for the new year I expect. In fact you can call it a resolution - GM Bill is intending to re-open his 13th Age but we have not yet convened about the round table to resolve strategy so in appropriate style we will drift merrily through the fog and high spirited fumes of Christmas and with favour emerge sober for another year of adventures.

Watch this space. 
Particularly if Sci Fi is involved.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Very Special People


Roleplaying is a special hobby. Though it borrows from all the best aspects of a community pastime it also brings together a wide variety of colourful people. Imagination is something that everyone has ordinarily, though fortunately I am unsure regarding psychopaths, and despite this one has an opportunity to express oneself artistically as much as applying oneself deductively to any given scenario. As Mark, one of the Chill players commented, his detective's drawback of impulsiveness is very useful in cutting through a lot of preamble despite the rather adverse consequences; an echo of a distant cousin in chivalry we all know too well.

More specifically one can approach the hobby with a method actor's mindset. A nod to the Larpers here and we do entertain those who like to get out on occasion. Putting aside even the fun of dressing up and sheer effort people can put into costume, a tremendous aspect of live roleplaying draws from historical reference, typified in re-enactments. As much as one can learn about events in school or by watching dramatised histories in motion pictures, there is nothing quite like actualliy smelling the sulphur of gunpowder burning the air or feeling the weight of chain mail on your shoulders whilst breaking camp or indeed gazing hopelessly around a field of dead bodies. It simply can't have been all that different in the past and there are moments when you are there. This is a kind special.

The ability to inject a fair amount of humour into a game also brings people together in special ways. Other than clever plays on words and ironic words in clever plays, jokes are for the most part anecdotal on some level which requires one to imagine a point of view. Abstracting from this in many of the fantastical worlds we inhabit just explodes the farcical possibilities and its not uncommon to forget ones head is on fire during tense negotiations.

And then there are just Very Special People. I shall just attach a couple of photos of our last meet while we played something equivalent to Twister for the inebriated.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Power of 3

As we are being quite popular at the moment and earning a few more gold coins for our Railway Inn, a little clarification for the interweb is needed I think regarding the games that have sort of settled now for this round of play.

Star Trek, the initial play packets from Modiphius have arrived and GM Jon is taking the first players through its metrics boldly going where no roleplayer has gone before. Appropriately a science fiction background to an analytical gaming approach but after the first session the players were positive enough to stand around in freezing cold weather after the club turned out, espousing its virtues. Seems like a positive start and it will develop rapidly I am sure.

Here is some clever copying and pasting

"As the crews of the U.S.S. Venture, U.S.S. Bellerophon, U.S.S. Thunderchild, explore strange anomalies and discover new life while uncovering an ancient civilization and mysterious technologies, those aboard the U.S.S. Lexington will shape historical events for those very ships."

From SciFi we move to fantasy; in the Ravenloft D&D 5e Adventure GM Warren is trying to bait and bite players with a Werewolf at present. As vicious and challenging as these monsters are I would note on behalf of would be adventurers to his realm is that this is where there story begins. What is waiting for you later on is likely to be far less amenable to dog treats.

Finally we have A Horror by the name of Chill. Currently in its 3rd edition, tho  I procured a set of 2nd ed books at a only a few pounds each so we are currently playing classic style. I have always described it as a quick fix Cthulu but to be fair it has its own investigation phase. I will keep it episodic so that the game can close or continue easily depending on numbers but at present our party, consisting of  Envoys as part of an international organisation called SAVE, are on the case of an entity known as the Hangman apparently responsible for the deaths of a number of transients and also a State police officer. Pieces are starting to fall into place for the current case but there have been no arrests as yet..tho our intrepid Envoys are closing in on something..

So the full spectrum is on for would be gamers out there who can pick between the worlds of SciFi, fantasy or horror. So if you're looking for a game outside of those genres then I can only suggest you go and make your own universe and bring it along.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Green Girls

Seems like drama has been surrounding more than one of the new Star Trek universes. GM Jon has completed his pre Star Trek Star Trek and has now had the first missives from Mordiphius as their playtest undocks. In reverse order they are apparently feeding us the Next Generation first and then by a twist of time travel the earlier series comes later. This will of course be very interesting in and of itself but as purveyors of the trade a play test has special interest for us as a club. I expect no less than two hundred opinions on various aspects of the game and hopefully by the end of the run we will have thrashed out the complete compendium of Starfleet Rules and Regulations. 

There is also drarma in the real world of Science Fiction as some of you may be aware that the upcoming series Discovery is also making its media present by way of the first castings but more importantly there has been significant controversy over the new ship.

Aesthetics can be a blurry subject and in futuristic scenarios will often split the audience or indeed crew, but for my part I come heavily down on the lazy bastards side of the argument. Over the generations there have been distinct efforts with regard to Starfleet ship evolution and there are various apologetic videos squeezing the Discovery design into the fleet lineup but basically, bollocks. Someone in the design team got out a compass and set square and had an early lunch. What do you get if you join a circle onto a triangle ? Well you get a circle and a triangle joined together. I do hope that the sheer nafness can enhance the experience in the same way as wobbly bits of soft focus sixties special effect.

As club numbers are up at the moment I had occasion to run an impromptu Chill but as it was originally intended for two sessions of about four players I couldn't quite squeeze it into one evening particularly as I had six players - immediately splitting the party up and shooting the good guys. What could I have possibly expected? Still, a game is afoot for the next occasion and the investigation phase is definitely giving way to the grisly death section.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

A quiet revolution

So this Monday I popped down to the Craft Beer Co pub at the top of North St to see what all the virtual fuss was about on the Prime Internet Plane. Having survived the initial encounter with the bar staff thee is much to report...

Firstly there is the Hero, Simon Appleton, who has been running the Brighton Boardgamers for many years and as people were telling me, the interest in RPGs have grown to the point where he pulled up his socks, girded his loins, dusted off his glasses and spurred off a specific meetup internet group to handle the growing interest. This last Monday saw an Entmoot to welcome new players and coordinate GMs - I suppose a bit like a fast dating event where people can sample each other before exchanging bodily fluids. And speaking of fluids I did pry the bar staff to impress upon me their lightest and finest ale of repute, to which I received my due but at the princely bargain of £2.80 !! This is going to spur a serious debate in and of itself being 30p less that we get in our social club. Nevertheless I digress. 

Deciding to turn up 20 minutes late just to be cool I levitated my pint upstairs and was shocked to find myself jammed in a doorway due to the sheer number of interested parties crammed into the event. I counted at least 25 before I stopped. But it all started to make sense as each GM introduced themselves and offered up what they intended to run. There certainly weren't enough tables upstairs for all the games to be seated but a lot of the GMs were intending to start a game in the new year and not necessarily on the night. I also got the impression that the pub will prioritize other paid events so I can see on occasion the role players having to give way. Simon mentioned to me that space was indeed an issue, specifically in the classical Newtonian sense. After the meeting many left as others were sitting down to play so as interesting as it was to get the lay of the land I shall pop in on a 'normal' evening and see if I can get an impression of how things work during a typical week and also to see how many of the new players actually found a game. Nevertheless what wonderful people. But the bottom line is that our GMs should be posting our games on the meetup site also when we revolve..or whenever they need new players

On this note we have also had an up welling of interest through our doors and for now a few new visitors are staying to sample the universes we have on offer and typically, last week, even despite a couple of regulars missing, 14 people turned up.

This is definitely grounds for a new game at this point and although I have been carrying a Chill around in my back pocket during the games rotation, typically I didn't bring it last week, Nevertheless our Gary rescued the evening with a hearty Talisman.

Oh, and I accidentally bought  DMG over the weekend but more of that in another blog, except to say that the most venerable proprietors at the Dice Saloon also told me that there has been a bit of an upsurge in DnD sales and enquiries at their end. What on earthdawn is going on..?


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Dooom and Gloom

 The Star Trek has sort of pre started as Modiphius plays with the space time continuum within its own release window. GM Jon has kindly  stepped in with a pre Star Trak, Star Trek. Whilst he sports a couple of early systems he has gone for an original Last Unicorn implementation of the original series. Whilst it was produced by Last Unicorn Games (LUG - now absorbed in WotC) in the 90s it is an extremely nostalgic rendition in the style of a genuine late 60's Haynes Manual, More specifically the iconic artwork of typical 60s and 70s compendiums are faithfully reproduced in terms of it production style which lends itself even more faithfully to the setting of the original series - the only thing that's missing is the soft focus.

Apparently the scenario surrounds a prime directive protected pre warp planet upon which a starship has crashed - accidentally I presume. On further investigation it seems that the crew are missing along with a significant amount of advanced equipment. This has all the hall marks of a great episode and I am wondering whether it will be resolved through time travel, shooting evil aliens or sleeping with an Admiral's daughter. I shall attempt to sit down in this game for an episode depending on what the rest of the club is doing.

The DnD is on hold for another week due to our GMs night shiftyness which is always an excuse to bring out a weird card game or two. True to our constitution someone brought along a 2nd ed 'Gloom'  which is a wonderful and slightly narrative card game where each player starts with an Adams family set of characters and has to ruin their karma so much it actually kills them. Opposing players can use their cards to cheer them up so its a basic tug of war between positive and negative modifiers but if you character dies happy then their positive score counts against you whereas a fatal event for a severely disturbed character with a negative score counts for you. During each play, a story is advanced based on the action of the previous player to compile a wonderful and ridiculous adventure.

It an refreshing and creative change from desperately trying to keep characters alive.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Roleplaying Radar

Over the last week we have been casting out our roleplaying radar into the local community to see what is floating about.

This blog, whilst an ancient and revered tome, is probably not one one would choose when promoting a club, tho as I inherited it, it still tops the Google list for the sheer amount of time it has been around when one searches for roleplaying in Brighton. Despite ones opinions of Blogging we do seem to get wanderers in on a semi regular basis. whether it is shelter from the elements for a cup of tea, or someone specifically interested in something we are doing, its always interesting to meet adventurers passing through our doors and occasionally, they stay.

For our part the club is designed around  more transient, public facing experience with a hour or so of socialising followed by a couple of hours role playing - a gentle and welcoming pace I would say but with just enough time to get a sense of adventure for a newcomer and if you are lucky, a feeling of accomplishment and who knows, good friends of dubious character - or dubious friends of good character - I forget which. The format has been tinkered with but evolution has set us in our current niche. The games are short at about 3 months and synchronized so that players turn over to mix - new stuff is never far away.

Like a good TV show, some games generate spin offs in the form of home games where people can get a more in depth experience and there is also a monthly Earthdawn running for five to six hours at the local Dice Saloon role playing center as yet another opportunity to escape reality, tho there is a small cost  for the table for the day, its a pleasant albeit busy environment. There are also open Pathfinder games for passers by run by the regulars there I believe.

This last week gone some of us have also invited ourselves to a fairly new Mondays meetup event at the Craft Beer Co in upper North Street where we understand that two DnD games are running. The Meetups site is a natural place to look for RPG games and I think the North St GMs are using it as a sort of e-booking system so you have to register with each of them or get on their respective waiting lists. They start at 18:30 to 19:00 so earlier than us but I dont know if it would describe itself as a club in the sense of events being co-ordinated. However there is a specific meeting on the 21st to discuss additional games and some of us will be popping along, so I shall report back, but I can tell you now that we shall not be sheltered from the full force of retail beer costs compared to our spit and sawdust, slightly damp, late 70s, Dr Who episodic, public facing, jukebox dysfunctional, subsidised railway social club.

As 'special interests' go Brighton does seem to have a thriving roleplaying scene; ironically from my home on the 7Dials I can go North, East or South for about 10 minutes either way and hit a public roleplaying event of some sort. 

I wonder what dark forces in the West have done to veil the scene....perhaps it is just for evil parties.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Happy Ravenloft

How fitting and respects to GM Warren as he begins his DnD5e game. I had reported, entirely falsely, that he was reopening his Neverwinter realm but in pointy and fact he has begun a Ravenloft adventure for the Halloween season. Despite entering many of the DnD worlds, I have never played in a Ravenloft and ironically as the opportunity presents itself now, it seems I am poised to warp off to the Star Trek playtest. Though now I come to mention it I don't see why we couldn't have some sort of mash up - have there been any Star Trek episodes with vampires in ? I am struggling to recall all of the 726 episodes but I think it would be a master stroke to have a dead character as part of the new crew for the forthcoming series. When I say dead, I don't mean a specifically farcical lifeless corpse that keeps being put in the right place at the right time to save the day and work its way up to captain, I mean a bona fide entity that needs a corpse to inhabit - just imagine exploring the human condition as it relates to its mortality - you only have to look at the Egyptian obsession with death cults to see how an entire civilisation can be shaped or perhaps the dark Afro American backdrop of the Voodoo culture. 

Oddly enough I have commented on more than one occasion regarding GM Warren's night shift patterns and can't actually say I have seen him in full sunlight, though during the lighter months we have casually chatted in the shadows. Either way, I am not one to judge but there remains much unspoken in our weekly meetings and he has received the due title of Daywalker.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Modiphius mortality

Whilst Star Trek has always been formative across the generations and a popular diversion from parody to philosophy, there hasn't really been an opportunity to froth about it properly on this blog. There were some brief conversations last week at the club as to how certain things will be handled mechanically together with the overarching backgrounds to the various series. Much can only be learnt when we literally roll out the play test but, understandably, one of the first questions on a role players mind when approaching new systems and creating characters is how easy is it to die ?

These issues are prevalent in the Star Trek universe.

Whilst I can understand that in a horror game this is a more pressing issue, it often comes down to tentacles, teeth or claws. Basically a character may not see a vampire coming but a player would not necessarily be surprised to face a grisly death. But at the frontier of space exploration, alien cultures and creatures one would have no idea whether a small purple cube is in fact an air freshener or weapon of mass destruction or indeed both. Pile on top of this that certain cultures may insist on killing several ambassadors as a mark of respect before establishing trade relations, one can see the importance of a non expendable communications officer.

Further piling on top of this is another layer of sleek, stylish and occasionally reliable Starfleet ships systems - Starships are inherently dangerous places particularly with their notorious exploding consoles, transporter glitches, leaking plasma conduits and eminently bypassable security systems. Its a wonder we ever left the planet, but tracing Starfleet Engineering Core's history back to the days of Cochrain banging on a warp core with a spanner in one hand and beer bottle in the other, things start to make a little more sense.

So in the 24th century it would still seem prudent to cross ones fingers when flushing the turbo toilet.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Winter is still coming

The darkening of days and the chafing bone chiling winds are calling adventurers forth for their next realm as we have completed the rituals required to announce the next set of games..

GM Warren has declared a seasonal DnD 5e and will enter the land of Neverwinter once more. A solid favorite and stalwart system now, the 5e always get enthusiastic players so book your space when you can.

In a boldly contrast, GM John will be running a pre release test of the Modiphius implementation of the Star Trek universe. This does interest me - one of the many nice things about an RPG club is that someone is always looking at something new and opportunities for play testing and community feedback are a real chance to engage. See what I did there? Though I think Jon's environment will be pre Next Gen, though there could be time travel...or space gods...or green women. I have to say there is an overwhelming urge to roll up several redshirt security guards for the adventure and work my way through them but I feel that this would not be helpful even tho an Alpha Red security clearance would definitely be more appropriate in the original series.

The StarTrek play test release is due at the beginning of November according to the planetary database,, this means that we will get a couple of weeks of a something. People bring all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff from the dark and amusing corners of the internet but I will bring along a short Chill to span Halloween if it appeals. Whilst many gamers hold great opinions and passions over their mechanics, I am more of a fan of keeping things simple, which means I am often drawn to the 2nd Ed Star Wars where virtually everything is resolved on one D6 table and also I like percentile systems such as Cthulu, MERP and indeed Chill. Straight percentages are just so easy to map to events in general although Chill does divide them into Low, Medium, High and Colossal depending on how close you roll to the upper and lower bounds of your skill score - so if you have a target roll at 60 and roll a check of 05 (low being good), its a colossal roll as its in the top 10% of the target number. This can generate a few fractions but are basically ignored..

So we shall see where the runes fall for the forthcoming characters in their various games and whether they will make it to Christmas.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Walking Disney

In true faffing style we have managed to stretch out the games for another week which buys us valuable time to carry out our quarterly bloodletting rituals and sacrificial ceremonies with regard to the next set of adventures. 

In a previous Strike post I had documented concern as to  how on earth we were going to take out a Genie. Despite all the experience and intelligence of a small determined group of role players its really took about an hour of arguing before a possible situation presented itself. It would appear that in this timeline of wartime London and entire fantasy realm has been created simply for the amusement of our absconded super villain, Aladdin.

Where there should be a hardened Capital city during the Blitz, there are mountains, lagoons and flying pirate ships. More accurately it seems that evil Aladdin is a roaring fan of the Peter Pan franchise. Presumably after discovering his own immortilisation by the Disney corporation he has come across all manner of entertainments and the scenario we are presented was a battle between Hook and Pan himself, with Tinkerbell in the mix.

Somewhat taken off guard on how to proceed we waited until the skirmish was over with a view to taking over Hooks ship, giving us at least a distraction if not a solution to defeating the Genie. Of course it is the case that we don't actually need to defeat the Genie as such, we just need to separate it from Aladdin whilst we lever him against us capturing his girlfriend, Princess Jasmine - or constructive, socially aware, eco-friendly kidnapping as I would like to refer to it.

Fortunately, after the battle, Hook took his ship across London to raid for supplies, where we were waiting in a local shop for his minions to appear. Having subdued them and subsumed their identities we returned to Hooks ship with zombie pirates in tow, with the aim of dominating the rest of the crew in turn. Despite however making colossally crap rolls of a 1 and a 2 on my D6, we did worm our way out of being keeled hauled by promising to help Hook capture the Pan (Tho being keel hauled on a flying ship perhaps isn't that bad)! Blinded by his revenge and somewhat shallow incarnation, he has avidly agreed to take us on board so to speak, whereupon we can slowly convert the lovable rogues of the Jolly Roger into the grotesque and murderous brigands of the Flying Dutchmen - Peter Pan meets Pirates of the Caribbean. I for one are looking forward to a tiny undead Tinkerbell.

Unfortunately I cant stop to think about this scenario too much otherwise I will freak out but for now we are committed to cartoon carnage and turning the Disney romp into more of a Minecraft hack and slash. Well at least its a plan.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Off Road

Its always a bitter sweet moment as a game draws to a close and also a slightly paranoid one as well. Both GMs indicate that their games have about a session left, but it is often the case that players can have a very different opinion about this, so do watch this space.

Whether its not wanting to let go of a character that you feel you are just getting to know or just not wanting to leave things undone, there can be a sense of players just not stopping. I wouldn't necessarily say that this is character momentum as it can equally be a result of disorganization, fumbles in game or the sheer obsession of a party's mindset. Basically straying from the path is technically a separate adventure in and of itself and more often in GMing I see the glazed look of a crazy idea solidify across a players face and transform into rational determination and he shoots off into the distance in search of experience points.

Whilst we joke about this sort of thing in the Roleplaying community all the time this would make a good Derren Brown episode. The extent to which someone can convince them self can be enormous bordering even on hypnotic; arguing is one thing but once an internal psychological battle has been won then there is no reserve and beyond this it is only at the stage of being surrounded by dead bodies that one stops to ask 'so how did this happen...'. Its one thing to bring yourself down a peg or two but another to explain that to the local law enforcement. Excepting of course those that thrive on genocide which is always a bit worrying when we catch up on some other peoples gaming news over the past week....

Anyway, despite the club game cycles being relatively short at about 2 to 3 months, longer campaigns can simply be chopped into chapters which is more satisfying I think. We have some long standing campaigns that are still open such as GM Julian's excellent Warhammer Fantasy and Gm Bill's Game of Ice and Fire where we are forever upgrading our Homestead duck by duck to eventually overthrow Kings Landing. I fully expect this to be the Finale of the TV show.