Wednesday, 24 April 2019


This last weekend saw GM Warren fire up a Sunday role playing session at the Dice Saloon. We do get satellite games occasionally as an interest group but more specifically for GM Warren, his vampire hunting doesn't let him come to the club nights on a regular enough basis to host a continuous game. Of course he is not the only frustrated artist out there as life and work are constantly an issue to those just trying to live day to day in a fantasy world but whilst the club is quite flexible in some part time and drop in play, the more aggressive day/night work commitments do pose an issue. Its also the case that we have regular members who subsequently move out of town but the occasional event means we can often grab them for a day, have some fun and catch up.

Last Sunday saw us book a table for a five  hour session which was quite satisfying as we barely get 2 hours at the club and reminds me what a normal game should feel like. In this instance we began a TORG adventure which is a system I have been aware of since its release in 1990 of but not actually playerd It falls into the post apocalyptic genre but is enjoying a reboot from the 2017 TORG Eternity release.

Its success comes from a quite imaginative narrative which provides distinct role playing biomes across an Earth as a result of suddenly crashing dimensions with another plane. Various continental areas have now transformed into settings for prehistoric, magical, cyberpunk, ancient Egyptian and Gothic horror realms. Whilst this is a novel attempt to be a massively broad one size fits all system the interesting feature is that if characters move between biomes then they can mentally be absorbed into that world such that reverting to a primitive biome means you can forget your technological level and suddenly be unaware of how to use a a gun. Conversely you can promote your capabilities if you move to a more advanced biome, but either way if you successfully hold onto your culture you can use it to influence the world you find yourself within.

All in all whilst its difficult to feel positive about having your character stripped of knowledge and abilities it does create some interesting game play and we shall see where the next session takes us.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

The Big Picture

There is an occasionally had conversation at the club between GMs about various approaches to writing an adventure and devising an overall plot. We were chatting about this again recently and sharing our various perspectives and experiences on both sides of the GM screen.

For those new to running a game there is the default road of starting with a published module which is definitely the way to go when facing a new career and not yet having built up a game management instinct. This ticks a lot of boxes straight away regarding npc detailing and overall environment but the GM has to be very clear on the details and adhere to the script tightly as the adventure will have plot threads dependent on the cause and effect of actions within the module context. This all entails reading over a source book several times. The disadvantage, particularly so for a club, is managing the time span of a fixed adventure - the club rotates games on quite a fierce basis given that there are only a couple of hours role playing in a week, games really should end every six months. Typically campaigns can be sliced into chapters somewhat like a Game of Thrones series which is a very good way to keep players hanging in suspense and not letting fatigue set in. Having said this, I have seen several games advertised in Meetups using the exact same campaign which can be a bit frustrating if you've already done it.

So there also has to be an option of bringing a game to a climax at short notice and this can be easy or hard depending on the plot. In this respect the other way to go is to heavily modify an existing campaign of create one from scratch. For my part I prefer to build a game from the ground up and generate several sub plots with the option that not all of them have to be completed to result in an overall success - this works quite well for me as it never ceases to amaze me how long a party can take to complete one small task or how quickly they can drive though another. In addition I can manage off roading easily when I have built something myself but it can take a while for the players to build up enough knowledge and stake in a game not to feel they are just part of some GM centric ego project.

In the final analysis, its often the case that if a player is getting unhappy then you can just pay them off.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Second Sight

Having balls in a game can be a double edged sword. I would imagine one could be prone to back ache staring at them all day but on the other hand they could tell you many things about yourself you may not know, whether you like it or not.  This may be a case of  professional ethics for a hard working Seer, or perhaps knowing too much about ones own future would be enough to drive one insane. I could see how there may be an addiction issues for some content but one could permissibly have a polish over an occasional glimpse.

But dropping balls into a fantasy game is an excellent way of funnelling clues to players and whilst one can scry into the future, there is no reason that a device couldn't be a useful communication tool, particularly for realms that lack industrial transport or technologically advanced teleportation, a sort of bronze age broadband. By the same token, one can see into the past if there are important messages hidden in the history of a world, or perhaps portents from those long and mostly departed.

Clues, cues and influence have to be just right though. Too little or enigmatic information is just frustrating and equally having a demi-god at the end of the line can also be somewhat overwhelming both with regard to reverse charges as well as not being able to hang up. For my part I prefer to add a physical reference to any scrying session, items and locations, which provide a definite anchor to any speculation and a well defined jigsaw piece for a larger puzzle. And just to make sure party members don't walk around with a plot device all the time it's important to make balls nice and large.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Hammers of War

So as the sword of Article 13 hangs over Europe we have some time before individual states implement censorship controls, so there will be plenty of time for a final whinge if/when there is a clamp down. Funnily enough we were chatting about extension to Brexit last week and theorizing that in thousands of years time the UK will still be popping into the Adeptus Administratum of the Galactic Empire and asking for just a few more weeks to sort things out.

On which rather clever note reminds me that our Railway club will start to host a Warhammer 40k event over the summer. Whilst its not in any way connected to us as an RPG club we do have a fair number of budding Generals and Field Marshalls who do still have a hand in fighting such engagements on other days of the week. Role Playing can be a very cheap hobby in principal - particularly if you aren't a GM - basic tools are dice and a pencil and you can even borrow those for a session. Although a set of source books can set you back a bit, they are usually a permanent resource over the course of a lifetime so strictly speaking have a very low cost of ownership. 

Warhammer tools however suffer a rather more official cycle of obsolescence as figurines and associated terrains require upgrading to stay within the latest rule sets which is essential for competitions and events, but this will come as no surprise to long suffering GamesWorkshop customers and begrudingly they take on a standing commitment. So for myself, as much as I enjoy the atmosphere of a war room, the pastime is a little to expensive for a long term commitment but I do enjoy listening to the stories

Either way, we will see if the Warhammer table top events become a permanent fixture as I am getting the sense that our venue is vaguely becoming known for its gaming.