Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Arms for the poor

I have heard it said that you do what you have to do to survive. There have been tales of ships adrift at sea where starving crews are faced with short straws and records of plane crashes where surviving passengers have had to stomach difficult choices to see themselves through a winter stranded at altitude lost somewhere in the mountains. Antarctic teams will consider compromising their transport if necessary and possibly worse when the situation demands it and for those wandering in the still unexplored New Guinea forests they will be expected for lunch.

However in GM Alessio's post apocalyptic Nameless Land its more a choice of which sauce goes with what buffet really and anyone you can't eat you could probably wear depending on the quality of their skin. 

It was great fun to sit in on the Nameless Land but as always there is a bit of a culture shock when trying to work out how the universe functions in a reclaimed shopping mall, but the system is quite unapologetic and leaves no room for doubt. As I wasn't familiar with the tech, I decided to play a priest as a good dose of fear and religion seems to gel well with primitive societies, and as I managed to get some good critical roles in founding my little gang of zealots for the New Church of Pain, I was very satisfied with my first go.

On the tech side it was confusing at first watching Elena's character go scavenging around in debris fields for metal and then refine and trade it all up. Eventually it transpired she was saving up to have her arms removed and mechanical ones installed. Whilst this is the sort of thing I expect in cyberpunk worlds it did remind me that there is still a lot of fun to be had with leftover tech in devastation scenarios as well. I wouldn't expect more than a 30 day warranty on new arms in such a world tho and customer complaints may well leave you in rapid need of other body parts - I suppose its more like e-bay than Amazon when civilization collapses.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Hive Minded

According to National Geographic there are six types of cities - Global Giants, Anchors, Gateways, Factories, Knowledge Capitals and Middleweights. However I don't think anyone at National Geographic has been playing Warhammer recently - there certainly didn't seem to be any columnists from the Galacticus Geographicum at GM Alex's game last week as I had the pleasure of sitting in the Dark Heresy adventure for the first time. 

I have had my eye on the 40k  universe ever since I have become dimly aware of the scale of its content as there seem to be endless opportunities for exploration and adventure but in GM Alex's incarnation we are a gritty team of contractors investigating some illegal bioengineering or possibly even chaos tainted modifications that have been found in a corpse. It all sounds Heretical to me but the overall portrait of life at the bottom of one of the great Hive Cities in the back waters of thousands of Imperial Worlds sets a scene of vast rat infested slums and a forgotten populous trying to stay one step ahead of starvation.

Hive cities are immense structures stretching from the subterranean squalid underhive warrens up to the airy and elite echelons of the spires, the entire city holding some billions in population. It's curious that any detailed interest that the Imperium suddenly has in such a disposable populous must mean that something important is going on... or perhaps we are all operating off a postit note found underneath someone's desk at the Adeptus Administratum.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019


So last week I accidentally attended GM Dave's The Walking Dead Thing in the high Arctic and whilst I very much enjoyed the first session, I had intended to only really make up the numbers as our three games are somewhat packed out at the moment. Whilst we had six players initially, which I usually consider optimal though opinion varies of course, as we went to play our pilot (or ex-pilot if you consider blowing up a plane a career change) joined us as we were descending to the table making a party of seven. When we started, our psychologist also arrived which suddenly meant we were at eight players.

Now whilst GMs are often accommodating and keen to have a reliable player base there comes a moment when there simply isn't enough time allocated to each person even with the best of intentions. Having said this it was a remarkably workable session but I got the impression that all the players were acutely aware of the size of the group and were all being very well behaved. In fact we got some combat in and resolved it and we are now currently hiding on our Cat vehicle checking ourselves over for zombie bites. Actually, come to think of it, I can appreciate another reason why a GM would start a zombie game with a lot of players..

Anyway, the point is that as players turned up and character sheets were running out, Dave did need to deploy the emergency party member, namely Brian, the base dog and whilst dogs are very intelligent of course, they also have a compulsive need to chase balls, lick testicles and roll in shit. Nevertheless armed with only the one word in my vocabulary "woof" I think I managed to embark on an heroic character arc of rescue, struggle and redemption. I would perhaps have preferred a base parrot for the additional vocabulary but it would be too irresistible to push the game into pirate waters.

Monday, 5 August 2019

RPG Recon

So it seems that we have three full games underway now and it will be up to the fates as to how the plots fair to their winds. When I say fates I am actually referring to the arsing around factor that players inevitably bring to an orderly and well constructed GM plot. I do note that there is no particular adjective or term of reference for this and given that RPGs are mainstream now I strongly believe that this should be corrected. Having an arsefactor seems accurate but inappropriate somehow and also not a youtube channel I would subscribe to. I do like the term Plotpirates but perhaps too reminiscent of a Goonies film so I think I would go with Timebandits which is a more faithful description of players arguing over the shape of small stones as well as a case of fantasy being more accurate than reality..

As we are in our sort of summer recess we are down a few regulars but even then our exiting games are packed so whilst I am on a self enforced spirit guided journey exiled from GMing at present I may well invoke another dungeon bash as the Autumn draws in. Having said this I note that the RPG scene is becoming well organised down at the Dice Saloon now and although there has always been a table of adventurers there of an evening there are a few resident GMs that have set up, some who were regulars at our Railway Club. Notably our own Mark Gossage has opened himself up to the general public with one shot drop in sessions which have on occasion been overrun and I can see him encouraging other GMs to prep games. My instinct is that this is another example of demand outstripping supply - as Roleplaying becomes yet more popular GMs begin to coalesce. Here is a link to the Dice Saloon's roleplaying Club and you can see Mark's write ups amongst the general hiatus. 

As with our GM Warren and his TORG, the Dice saloon fits semi irregular play perfectly and it seems that one shots are the way to go here, particular for those just wanting to try roleplaying. I have not played many one shot myself but the nature of short games and rapid plotdrops may well be the solution to arsefactor.