09 Aug

Edfringe 2018 day 3

Final day, big sleep in.

Vanishing Man (very weak and confused)

The Greatest Play in the History of the World.. (excellent, Ann should do this!)

Nice haggis, neeps and mash at Makars that led to mad rush to catch train.. two minutes to spare.

24 Jul

Continuum 2018

Intro

I went to Continuum 2018 20-23rd July 2018 at John Foster Hall, Manor Road, Leicester University, Oadby. I have been going to this and the previous version “Convulsion” for about two decades, with probably a 50% attendance rate. It’s a great con for meeting friends I see rarely, for scratching the Glorantha itch, and for many years I often just played in large Gloranthan freeforms written and run by folks such as Simon Bray, David Scott, Nick Brooke and others. In recent years the con has shifted back to more table top gaming, sometimes with some hiccups along the way vis-a-vis game availability. It’s friendly con and time in the bar is time well spent. However this year I continued my recent trend of tabletop gaming right through in a kind of geek Iron Man challenge.

I am not going to name names since I might leave someone out or misname them, my memory isn’t what it was when I was younger.

Night of the Toad: OpenQuest

First I did something I have not done in 4 years, I ran a game at a con. I have always been very anxious about running con games, don’t ask me why, and I had stopped. On the other hand I really love the Crucible of Dragons setting from D101 games, written by Simon Bray and Paul Mitchener. So I ran the “Night of the Toad” adventure from the setting book, and we had a blast. The players contributed much fun and decoded the plots, and we had a great climactic ending.

Pherae, the Crucible setting

Black Ziggurat: 13th Age Glorantha

Then I played in a 13th Age Glorantha game run by Guy Milner. It was the “Black Ziggurat” from D101, and whilst I thought the scenario was a bit ‘meh’, it was delightfully brought to life by Guy and also by the sheer wonderfulness of 13th Age which melds beautifully with Glorantha to make for epic adventuring. Plus, in a short game, a simple scenario is best.

13th Age Glorantha

Uncle Ugly’s Underground: T&T

I have never played Tunnels and Trolls (T&T) on a tabletop. I have played T&T for 38 years using the solo gamebooks. Parse that for a while. At Continuum 2018 I played it for the first time ever at a tabletop, and one of the very first T&T dungeons ever: Uncle Ugly’s Underground. I had always worried that the rather odd T&T combat system would not work well at the table but it works fine! I was very happy, Dave Elrick’s GM-ing was relaxed and competent, the dungeon is 197* bonkers and huge fun. Wow.. so happy.

RuneQuest: Glorantha (RQ:G)

Simon Bray ran a good game of RQ:G for us Saturday afternoon.

Runequest: Glorantha

It was bitter sweet. Runequest has been by preferred gaming engine for decades and I have a deep and abiding love for Glorantha. Runequest 6 (now Mythras) was/is the zenith of d100 sophistication in gaming for me with OQ (see above) as it’s cut down accessible side kick.

Simon tabs ran a great game, the adventure will be wonderful as a campaign adventure. But RQ:G is a monument of over complication, backwards compatible with RQ2 and yet with layers of other sub systems and new approaches. At times there were 4-5 sub systems all of which could have resolved a situation, and all would have generated different outcomes with different probability. Skills, you want skills, RQ:G has reams of them, it took me minutes to find Dodge. No, not for me, and such a shame since it’s so beautiful. Mind you that doesn’t stop me buying stuff and running it with Mythras, OQ, Heroquest or 13th Age!

Tales of the Loop

My old friend Darran Sims ran the Swedish RPG of young kids, adventure and mysterious government installations: Tales of the Loop. It’s based on an art book that preceded Stranger Things but it’s clearly in the same place. The game allows players to mutually recapture their youth, in our case early 80s Britain, and then tangle with government experimental bases. It’s great and Darran is such an excellent GM. I’ll play it again as one off, but whilst the nostalgia is catching, so is the memory of just how angsty being a tweenager was/is.

Tékumel: Béthorm

Nigel C had offered the first game set in the mythical world of Tékumel. Mythical in that, for a certain kind of non mainstream roleplaying geek, this is the world we all were in awe of as too cool for school, and never ever run. Too deep, too complex, too many attempts to codify it into a ruleset.

Well, this was the year to end all such failures to launch. Tékumel, run using Jeff Dee’s Béthorm rule system is ace! Easy to understand. Flavoursome enough. Enough and not too much background. It may be a book so drily written to turn your little Tsolyaní heart to dust on reading, but at the table it shines.

As for cultural complexity, or setting depth? Have you looked at Glorantha or Forgotten Realms or Warhammer 40k recently? Tékumel is actually quite simple. Great game, great adventure, I even managed to get my priest’s head bitten off.

Béthorm character sheet. Just 3d10 required.

Star Trek Adventures (STA)

Dav ran STA for us. A 2d20 game from Modiphus. Third 2d20 game I have played, usually with a GM who is literally crying with the difficulty of reading the complexity of the system at the table.

They have all been fun, easy to understand, and good systems to model the genre. STA was the same. “The rulebook is a nightmare to decipher..” – GM. “This game models the themes of Star Trek well” – Tom.

So, the lesson might be – let someone else take the pain of decoding the Modiphus rulebooks and just play! Great accessible scenario from Dav which he then gave me to run for Trek friends. What a star!

Star Trek Adventures character sheet

Shadow of the Demon Lord (SoDL)

This was almost the game too far. SoDL is a great game from Kevin Schwalb about the apocalypse. That is, the apocalypse of a fantasy world. The apocalypse is different every campaign, and every campaign is made up of 11 adventures, with character advancement of 1 level per adventure.

It’s a blood stained love letter to Warhammer, with a system that is simpler but similar to 5e D&D. Oddly it can also deliver very varied characters despite being nominally class based.

I have always wanted to play. The prevented characters were awesome, grotesque and wonderful. We had a blast roleplaying.. but we were overpowered by opposition and when my character died at about 23:30 I went to bed.

Shadow of the Demon Lord character sheet

In Summary

Great con, well balanced between table top games, freeforms, boardgames and drinking in the bar. It’s the con where I catch up with people I only see every 2-4 years at Leicester. I love it.

19 Jul

DUSTY, the musical

Now I have a confession. I started to listen to Dusty Springfield when I had listened to death all of Duffy and needed to move on. My love of Soul made Dusty Springfield a great next step and over the last four years I have listened to all and every album she did. But I knew very little of her life.

So when I saw a musical was coming to the Theatre Royal in Newcastle I jumped at the chance.

Dusty

DUSTY

Well.. I was in tears by the end.

This is an excellent musical, if you like soulful music and a witty book written by a writer who’s cut his teeth on Coronation Street, as well as a stunning portrayal by Katherine Kingsley, and good supporting work by Rufus Hound, then go see this.

PS: I have since read up a little on Dusty and the musical applies creative licence as to her  girlfriend, who in the musical is ‘Lois’ but in real life was fellow singer Norma Tanega. [Dusty had several other girlfriends and one tempestuous marriage to an American actress Teda Bracci.] For whatever reason, and perhaps since Norma is still alive, they have applied artistic licence there. Norma seems to be more of a folksinger to my ears, and she’s there on Spotify as well.]

 

 

17 Jul

Heaton!! First Night, a totally impartial review (not)

Opening night! So, so proud of the magical, multimedia extravaganza that is Heaton! Written by Peter Dillon, performed by the People’s Theatre, and inspired by the Great Exhibition of the North, it is truly a-maz-ing! Catch a preview on BBC Look North; those out of region go here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bb2nd1

Book: https://www.peoplestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/heaton

 

The Parsons Family

Votes for Women! Florence Nightingale Harrison-Bell

“The evening was a rollercoaster of film, music, dance and superb acting … a huge round of applause to all those involved” – NE Lifestyle Magazine

M.C. George Stanley, theatrical entrepreneur, in association with Shoe Tree Arts proudly presents Heaton!

Heaton: where Charles Parsons developed the steam turbine, giving the world cheap electricity; where social reformer Florence Nightingale Harrison-Bell campaigned for women’s rights; the birthplace of Ove Arup who built Sydney Opera House; where suffragettes set fire to Heaton Park Bowling Green Pavilion; home of Colin Veitch, Newcastle Utd’s most successful captain, co-founder of the People’s Theatre, and where today the Freeman Hospital is at the cutting edge of medical technology.

Inspired by the Great Exhibition of the North, this feast of drama, music, dance and film celebrates the lives and achievements of these pioneers, all intertwined with the love affair between time-travelling fictional couple Freddie and Catherine.