04 Mar

Saturday at the coalface

Got up at 7am, worked on my full 10 page academic CV and then on a paper on railfreight, sorted out an issue on ECTRI SQL database and stopped work at 1500 hours.

Ann made me a great brunch. 

03 Mar

Chapter 3 almost wrestled to the ground

Chapter 3 is Research Framework, Methods and Techniques, and boy it’s a beastie. It’s almost done, 55 pages and almost 16,000 words long. I had already cut away the Research Philosophy and made it Chapter 2, so now I am a little troubled if this beast is overlong, or I have explained too much, or I need to simply cut some stuff out of this thesis. Too early to say, and not a problem I regret having. One last run through tomorrow and then proof reading and onto my supervisor.

a graphical onion

A probablE research design

01 Mar

Much better day

As usual, a good productive day following a day getting my head into the PhD-space. Lots of final stuff on Action Research, and some preliminary work on empirical surveys, Logical Framework Approaches and CANVAS.

A diagram of the probable PhD thesis

Probably the final thesis shape

In other news the two new Virgin V6 boxes arrived and they’re fast and zippy. They don’t do anything that hasn’t been around for a few months, but they do it straight away rather than waiting a week to respond! Playback between boxes also seems smooth which is very cool.


28 Feb

Slow Day

Had to re-read my work, some sub editing, and drew a good Framework graphic, but not many actual words scribed before intellect fled me.

Watched the Team on More 4, ambitious Belgian-Danish-German cop team up show. Seen 2 episodes.

Need to draw a more milestone based project plan for PhD tomorrow and crunch some page count.

26 Feb

February and it’s PhD time

Bloody heck! February is almost over, 1/6th of a way thru 2017 and what have we done? Well.. I have been utterly buried in getting the process of wriiting up my PhD thesis planned and started. Since I am now deep up to my neck in research philosophies, methodologies and techniques, you can be pretty sure I am 1: started and 2: not at the nitty gritty bit. Fortunately the nitty gritty really happened and is well documented by myself and others, so I think by beginning of March I’ll be past the philosophy and into cataloguing actions and outcome which will be good. My self imposed deadline is end May.

I am rising, going straight to my desk, and working until 3-5pm dependent on when my brain or dry eyes give out. Then I am able to read emails, do any minor ICT fiddling, and then retire to the TV to watch zombie slasher SF fantasy action zero thinking TV, or idly daydream about just how great roleplaying will be when this is over. I am not reading novels, but since I can really only do this as a 9-5 job, since it’s a 4 month stretch, other distractions are okay, as long as they are shallow and superficial. Oh, and I don’t go to the University unless absolutely forced to do so, too many monkeys there..

So, the fact that Amy and Mike are expecting their first child and our third grandchild, might derail me a bit. Ann is knitting like a knitting fanatic and turning out lovely jumpers, hats, blankets and the like. I am rather delight she has also knitted me a truly great winter jumper for last Xmas, and is now knitting me a rather lovely spring/autumn blueberry one.

We have had a very mild winter and it continues to be so. I try to ignore the politics, it’d kill brain cells I need for the PhD.


02 Dec

Tom has been travelling

For work I have been to Rome, Hotel Diana in fact, and attending a consortium building meeting, then back to London and we attended Uncle Denis’s interment of ashes at the Lawns cemetery in Great Baddow. Off to London where we attended a lobby event supporting the East Coast Mainline Authorities (ECMA) supporting 3bn extra funding for East Coast Mainline by 2030.




20 Nov

New website

I have changed our pages to a new ICT platform, WordPress, and am testing out the features and so on.
There may be some rogue posting or nonsense, so don’t fret about it for a bit, eh?

17 Jan

Back Under the Glowline

So, time to return to Glorantha I feel. It’s been years, maybe a decade or more, since I’ve gamed under the Red Moon, faced the terrors of Thanatar and charged with my Enlo against Blue Moon Moth Riders. You know what, I kinda bloody miss it, and purged of all the accumulated cruft of the Glorantha nerds and the mismatch between myself and Hero Wars, it’s time to worship the Dark Mother, riddle with Nysalor and embrace the endless history of Darra Happa.

But, and this is lovely, there are so many choices.

Firstly, and I don’t mind saying this, there is HeroQuest with the tailored match between the the recent setting books, all redolent in simple d20 keywords and meshed neatly between culture and game. There is some truly lovely stuff in the sources that meshes with HQ, and yet.. I’ve never really enjoyed a game of HQ, although a lot of that might be from the Hero Wars action point economy that bored me to tears. Also, and although I can enjoy the depth of Glorantha cultural minutia, it has been what turned me off the setting for so long. I am, and always have been, more of a greatsword swinging Zorak Zorani than a Lhankor Mhy, and so I don’t think it’s HQ for me.

Secondly there is RuneQuest. We approach a time of possibly the best moderately complex version of RuneQuest that we’ve ever had, one that fixes the old issues about divine magic, montheism in a polytheistic world, makes a bloody good stab at sorcery and delivers a folk magic that actually feels folksy and useful to a carpenter or potter. We don’t have Adventures in Glorantha yet, but Hannu Kokko and the Finns are making a very good stab at it with their proto-cult write ups and the joy that is the RuneQuest Encounter tool online.. a party of Chaos cultists heading out from SnakePipe Hollow, I don’t mind if I do. Only problem, I think RQ6, like earlier RQs, doesn’t scale to Heroic, which is, after all why HeroQuest was first conceived.

Thirdly, and this isn’t as mad as it sounds, is OpenQuest. Combined with the RuneQuest Classics RQ2 reprints from Rich Meints, or a selection of RQ3 adventures, one can run an OQ game in Glorantha with barely a flutter. The spells have the same names, the stat blocks are very similar, and OQ is lighter and involves less rethink that RQ6. I know Simon Bray runs all his Glorantha with OQ these days and if that isn’t a recommendation I don’t know what is. So, possible and do-able, but one also can’t help wondering if maybe a copy of RQ2 or RQ3 might also fit in this camp, they’re easily pickupable in the UK on ebay, if you haven’t already got them all on the shelf, which I have.

Fourthly, and here the ZZ beserker in me wails in joy, 13th Age Glorantha! This riot of a d20 game that won me over to D&D after 34 years just made me think of Orlanth, the Red Goddess, Kyger Litor, Yelmalio, etc. as I turned the pages. This is a game for the Heroic, and by setting it in the Hero Wars when Argrath wages devastation on the Lunar Empire, and the Red Moon wages it back in an apocalyptic frenzy that cracks Glorantha from Choralinthor Bay to Valind’s Glacier, is the time for the power and crazy that is a 13th Age player character. So, and this is a defininte, the d20 will come to my Glorantha table, but it will be rolling high and not low.

But that’s not all.

Oh no.

I have a steadily growing collection of skirmish minis and skirmish rulesets. I know Sandy Petersen is playtesting a Gloranthan Gods War game, and I suspect that like his earlier Cthulhu boardgame, this may lead to a big fat bunch of 28mm Gloranthan minis.

So how to skirmish in Glorantha?

Well the Glory Geeks, that brave band of Gloranthan wargamers, have valiantly field Hordes of the Things Gloranthan armies in the HOTT fields of war, and indeed Rich Crawley’s Goranthan HOTT bands are great to play. Just ask him, or Jane, for army lists and where to get the rules and you too can be playing Gloranthan battles in under an hour a time on your dining room table. I am odd though, I don’t like to base my figures in blocks, since I am a roleplayer first I like them singly based. So, not HOTT for me, although always up for a game.

Rich and I have been enjoying Song of Blades and Heroes from Ganesha Games in recent years. A fast 28mm/15mm/any scale skirmish game free of any tie in with any minis maker, SoBH or SBH is enjoyable, wonderfully generic, quick to learn and play, and leaves your minis free for any other use since it has no basing needs. I know Rich has done Glorantha with it and I was almost there until I saw..

Of Gods and Mortals, or OGAM. Published by Osprey this is in fact a superset of SBH, where gods (40mm+), avatars (28-40mm) and their forces (28mm) battle it out on the field of war. What could be more Gloranthan? Cacodemon and his warband facing down Storm Bull and his? It’s appealing isn’t it, and I think I shall have to lay down the ten quid to get OGAM and see how it’ll work if and when some good Gloranthan minis come out, so come on Sandy!

And that’s not all.. after all, if Sandy P does get the Glorantha boardgame going, is there any chance of resisting that?

Must go, Cragspider is calling..

The Troll

HQ: http://www.glorantha.com/product/heroquest-glorantha/
RQ6: http://www.thedesignmechanism.com/runequest.php
OQ: http://d101games.com/books/openquest/
13th G: http://www.13thageinglorantha.com/

SBH: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3080 … and-heroes
OGAM: http://www.northstarfigures.com/list.php?man=159&page=1

And then this:

05 Oct

Crucible of Dragons review for OpenQuest rpg


What this book contains within 144 pages, black and white interior, colour cover.

A sandbox setting for OpenQuest rpg, which is Greek, Hellenistic, largely fantasy classical but also clockwork tech, with a very Harryhausen clockwork owls jazz happening. The palette is deliberately limited to humans, dracorans, beastmen and dragons. This allows for a focused setting with a wide range of potential conflicts and alliances between and within the various groupings, all lightly detailed so as to allow low level gaming that can escalate to high level. PCs could become kings, liberators, oppressors and heroes, or just stay as dirty murder hoboes for hire.

Gaming in Pherae
This chapter gives players an outline of the setting, and character generation rules for characters from the island. If the player characters are from the island the “What the Trader told me” section is what they know about the setting at start of play.



The Land of Pherae
This chapter details the island, giving an overview of its history and inhabitants. A full gazetteer is included. This is simple, the style is very of the RQ/Glorantha tradition where the social setting is key, and yet here the society is quite low level, and at a turning point, like all good rpg settings this is a time and place where great things have happened, but now something different is coming..

What went before is a world ruled by dracorans who enslaved dragons and overthrew the Elder gods (conflict), which was then overturned by humans who dealt with demons and created the hybrid race beastmen (conflict). Humans then lost control of the demons and their spawn and had to fight to suppress the demonic forces (conflict). Society starts to decline, and a dragon seizes control of the main city whilst the dracorans and beastmen rule the island core. Oh, and there are some dwarfs..

The City of the Dragon
The city of Draxa, its inhabitants, a selection of very important people, districts and notable buildings are detailed in this chapter. I found this chapter a little chaotic, jumping from places to people and back again but quite manageable. It’s worth pursuing since the interplay of the human bureacracy and competing Ministries, set under the dominion of the ruling dragon (who can also shapeshift to a human like dragon lady) is a potentially key driver of missions and intrigue that the PCs can interact with, at first as pawns but later maybe as ‘players’.

Of Gods and Magic
The religions and magic systems used on the island are covered in this chapter, which also includes sixteen new cults and fifteen new magic spells. The gods of this setting may or may not be declining, and the authors are clearly allowing the GM and players to decide that for themselves. If you want a classic d100 cult based game then you have more than enough cults here, and a nice selection of new magic. I liked classic d100 so for me I’d embrace this set wholly, those you want a less ‘theistic’ game may keep this for NPCs or something to slowly reveal in play, perhaps even by the PCs breathing a new evangelical flame into religion on Pherae.

Heroes and Factions
Ten new organisations, which provide access to magic and skills, are detailed with their history and aims alongside a selection of eleven important heroes and villains who can be encountered as the player characters explore the island. This is the meat of the matter, along with the city of Draxa in chapter 3, these are the organisations that will hire the PCs, or the PCs will join either at campaign start or in play. Of particular note to me were the “The Guild of Artificers”, the clockwork mechanics, and “The Sodality of Adventurous Antiquarians (aka The Cache Collectors)” who despite their grand name are a right old bunch of tomb looters under Kholincles, their leader. Each organisation has lore, skills, personalities and even magic, so that they can be used as much as cults as the primary social units for play. Note that some of the groups here are interlinked with the Lands of Pherae section.

Men and Monsters
A “stats digest” of the common inhabitants of the island, both monstrous and human. Which the Games Master can create encounters at the drop of a hat during play or use them as the basis to create fuller non-player characters for their own scenarios. Also includes rules for creating unique and individual demons and full encounter tables for the island by region.

This is a sandbox game but it also provides structured adventures. The first is in fact a very loose structure based around tax collection, in other words: an excellent excuse for some sandbox exploration. None of the adventures assume how the PCs will respond to the physical and moral challenges and choices they are presented with, and almost every group of players will leave each adventure with different tales and sagas to tell.

I like Simon Bray’s artwork, it is a very deliberately primitivist style that I appreciate and enjoy. There are great images of heroes, dwarfs, dragons and beastmen through the book and I like the coherent styling. There are some very nice if idiosyncratically legended maps.

Newt likes a simple layout, with white space and no extra embellishments. It works fine although in Chapter 6 there are some open areas of abandoned space that I think might have been handled better. I found the Draxa Chapter 3 was a little chaotic, jumping from places to people and back again but quite manageable.

Very few, which is good news since d101 can be prone to them. One or two mangled sentences, and one contradiction between Chapter 2 and Chapter 7 where the headman of the Town on Yanos isn’t and then is “Varbos One-Eye”, decide for yourself..

Crucible is a very well crafted setting book. It reminds one of all the best of Griffin Mountain from Glorantha’s RQ past, offering enough of a detailed set of social organisations: cults, the city of Draxa, and the factions to paint a convincing backdrop, but makes none complusory and their relative importance one for the GM and/or players to determine. The history develops all sorts of relationships between a nicely limited set of species and factions, offering a flexible set of conflicts. These can be as nuanced or as black and white as the players/GM wish. There are a lot of good resources for a GM to write top down scenarios, and there is enough of an empty map for the game to be randomly arbitrated in play. There is a good set of stats, spells and ‘game’ stuff to add a localised sparkle to this OQ setting, or to be stolen for your own. It will therefore be enjoyed by modern gamers (loose flexible mutual game development), top down auteur gamers (there are metaplots here that can be exploited) or that terribly nouveau group, the OSR crowd who want a hex map and a randome encounter table. It’s good value, it’s illustrated in a nice primitivist style and it’s a quick read: it has just enough and not too much.

It’s available here.

I have added my affiliate code to links in this post and I may get a few shekels if you click and buy.