Thursday, 28 May 2020

Roleplaying Drunk

This last week has seen further revelries on Tabletop Simulator as more of our esteemed members have made it into theie latter half century. Monday saw a marathon session trying to get kicked out of Colditz, then subsequently trying to get kicked out of the Red Dragon Inn and finally, although I had to give up after seven hours and lick my eyeballs, ending  up with a game of Seven Wonders. The more I play TTS the more impressed I am with it as a gaming tool; given the breadth of games and community available I very much suspect that its going to comprise most of my retirement when I eventually get there. Having spent an unforgiving amount of time playing computer games over thirty years, there is definitely the sense that themes and mechanics repeat themselves and pretty much every genre has been done to death from my perspective. But giving board games a lease of life on the internet is a new experience and I had almost forgot the feeling of seeing something original.

Whist our extremely poor rolling made for a slow game of Colditz, my introduction to the Red Dragon Inn was a delight as it's fairly straightforward mechanics of trying not to let your falling fortitude dip below your increasing intoxication whilst retaining enough gold to keep in the Inn is constantly challenging. It seemed like we had all the expansions on the table as there were a huge variety of characters to choose from that both affect ones play style as well as open up lots of tactical avenues of play. In fact its really a role playing drinking game.

In other universes the last details of our Star Trek characters were tweaked and it looks like we are all on for the first session this Saturday. I doubt that this will be a drinking game though I do note that the doctor in the pilot episode used to carry around some drinks in his medicine bag and Romulan Ale notwithstanding, Starfleet did eventually commission a bar on the Enterprise. Perhaps I can see another Red Dragon expansion coming soon - The Ten Forward Inn..

Thursday, 21 May 2020


Having done some prep for the forthcoming Star Trek game it's reminded me of how unwieldy its canon can be. Whilst I am more a fan of the episodic original series, the Trek canon has built up in layers over the years of course but it hasn't been immune to the whims of corporate forces. As we are generating back stories for our characters it's quite easy to go down rabbit holes and pick up loose ends as so much of the Trek context is just dropped randomly into various bits of dialogue across the seasons - it's not particularly a complaint but it has been difficult to reference even some well known entities as much has been incidental and also inferred.

To be fair it's a breeding ground for the imagination and not necessarily a bad thing but unlike Lord of the Rings or Dune for example, the detailing for Star Trek has not been s singular vision. This is why in part I am an original series fan. It's not so much that they were consistently focused on major issues on a purely philosophical level and arc agnostic but because Rodenberry was alive to own it all. Naturally as it's been franchised out over time, it's become a victim of its own successes and failures but I cant help feeling that Warhammer has kept more of its integrity than Trek but perhaps that's because it's purely prose rather then having to follow the Hollywood fashions.

Nevertheless I still watch it all and whilst there is always a feeling that although it has been done to death after hundreds and hundreds of episodes role players can have a special place as curators here as we can keep the vision intact and hand down our own stories that help sew the universe together.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Fame and Fantasy


As our long walk across the RPG desert continues we still are fortunate to happen upon a simulated tabletop or two but already the first brief conversation of when we avengers will assemble again at our usual base has been had. It seems, sadly, that it's far too early to tell if there is any way back to the way things were. At present I would be pleasantly surprised if the Railway Social club will even be viable again given that it's been running on cold quiche and questionable beer for years. I've also been worrying about our local Dice Saloon RPG community as its was just moving to a more stately venue on London Road just before the plague hit. Even when people start venturing back to work, I can't see social spaces recovering any time soon - but people's imaginations are not going anywhere so our time will come again.

Having been sentenced to YouTube for several weeks, I have just started to notice the star lineup we have in our hobby. I did write an article some time ago regarding Vin Deisel's passion for the dice but had no idea that Stephen Colbert was also a long time sleeper agent for Wizards of the Coast. It was in his interview Joe Manganello  on his show that he completely turned the tables and surprised everyone with a passionate ten minute retrospective of his own teenage years dancing with fate. What followed for a red nose day special was Matt Mercer running a one on one session for Colbert's Bard Kapo and his familiar companion Eric, a bee of great renown.

Turns out that the Dare Devil leading lady, Deborah Woll was also a closet gamer until she was hooked up to a group by her manager and now GMs regularly. Mike Myers was part of the Worldwide DnD Game Day back in 2006 and less surprising to me the Rock Dwayne Johnson has the alleged habit though the Jumani movies tend to give this away. There is Wheaton and Whedon of Star Trek and Firefly and not to forget the creator of Rick and Morty, Dan Harmon, whos DnD episode in the series Community is truly legendary.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Monsters and Media

Whist the pandemic lockdown still seems like a surreal drama in a parallel universe it has afforded some deep drift into the digital soup. Clicking round the roleplaying nebula I have discovered that you can now buy professionally made roleplaying soundtracks. I have noted before that some GMs like to bring along some Bluetooth speakers for background music and augment their games with audio context  - whether shopping in a town market to whimsical browsing melodies or chopping in combat to a rousing action theme, I do think its a nice touch. But if you want to enjoy reminiscing the drama in your own time then Midwinter Minis is doing a digital pack "Death by Dice" Vol 1. If you really enjoy getting into the ambience then I suppose you can get dressed up and go Larping in your own lounge too - here is their slightly sarcastic advert:

Also I was initially pleasantly surprised to find a hitherto undiscovered roleplaying series on Amazon no less: "Dungeon Life: A Dungeons and Dragons Documentary". Having said this I do think its a bit of a cheat in that each episode is only about 3 minutes long and I am aware the some of the major streamers are uplifting some of the better youtube content creators. It seems like a lot of webisodes to me but it does feature some notable movers in the scene and a very contemporary assessment of the genre - its a 90 minute documentary chopped into bite size chunks.

As I have also been using Discord a lot as the comms to our Roll 20 game I did discover that one of the other Brighton roleplaying groups also have a discord running - whilst ours is 14 members and overly serves a small group I think, it usefulness is readily apparent when scaling up. The facebook group "Role-Playing games in Brighton" which is Simon Appleton's backend to the Craft Beer Co based meetups have, if you join, an open link to their discord community which is already just over 120 lively members and has a thriving turnover of games. That's a lot of people to argue with as a GM.