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.

15 Jul

Delian Tomb works again

There is an introductory D&D scenario that has been adopted and *adapted* many times. Matt Colville in his excellent “How to DM” videos describes writing an adventure which he call the “Delian Tomb“.

In his version the Blacksmith’s daughter is kidnapped by Goblins and the players rescue her from a tomb. He did publish notes and so on, but I scribbled and drew as he talked, so my version is variant. I mean, in mine it’s Pete who was kidnapped, his Mum a Lancashire housewife. I have a different cast at the Gorgon’s Grog Tavern and so on.

I ran it today at Travelling Man Newcastle at the LGBTQI RPG day.

So it was time to mix it up again. Whilst Mum thinks Peate has been kidnapped, in fact they have gone off with their goblin pals from the Dreamcatcher tribe to hide them from the rival Magpie tribe.

Trapped in the tomb between a giant toad and undead, Peate was teetering on the cusp of their wild chaos magic emerging and becoming a 1m90cm electric generating afro haired gender fluid sorcerer.

Let’s say it went very well. Thanks to Wulf, Matt and Thomas for their great roleplaying of Raethis, Dendran and Loxley. Your trust and laughter made it. If I have mispelt names I apologize.

I want to play Peate now.. the players unanimously advised him to follow his path with the goblins.

… Kobolds next time…

14 Jul

UCU success, Lords of Waterdeep is great fun, had a good BBQ

UCU wins right to strike for migrant workers

After months of campaigning by UCU, including most recently the threat of legal action, the home secretary Sajid Javid has announced that he will be changing the immigration rules to ensure that migrant workers will now be able to play a full part in legal strike action without fearing the impact on their immigration status.
This is a big win for all trade unionists, not just those in UCU and it has come about as a direct result of our campaigning work. Thanks to everyone who wrote to MPs and in particular to members from overseas who took strike action despite these concerns.

Lords of Waterdeep is great fun

Paul, Andrew, Nigel, Alex and I had great fun playing Lords of Waterdeep on Friday night. It was really nice to boardgame, which is such a prep-free form of gaming opposed to rpgs. The game has just enough bells and whistles and ins and outs to be intriguing but with an essentially simple core engine.  I wanted to play it after I was rather delighted to hear that the new D&D adventure is Waterdeep:Dragon Heista guide to Waterdeep and a city heist adventure creation engine. I love city gaming, so it got me all fired up to explore Waterdeep in boardgame form.

A boardgame and a can of beer

Gaming and Lager

a boardgame

Lords of Waterdeep

BBQ

We had Conor, Kate, their sons Eugene and Tristan with Emmanuel, Catherine and their daughter Farai round for a BBQ. It was a very very hot and sunny day and the BBQ went well and Farai had a dip in the tub, and the boys really enjoyed Super Mario Smash Bros on the Wii. I got a bit faint and dizzy a few times, I need to keep an eye on that.

 

12 Jun

The Fall of Peace and Unity

I have for over 2 years now look forward to running a mashup science fiction role-playing campaign. in early June 2018 I managed to start and it’s set in the Andromeda galaxy and has the working title of the Fall of Peace and Unity. It’s setting a dark time for salvation space as humanity is threatened on all sides in the Andromeda Galaxy.

In truth it’s best read about further on the Tavern, my RPG BBS

https://www.gamingtavern.eu/tavern/index.php?threads/the-fall-of-peace-and-unity.795/

04 May

21 Again! My Lovely Birthday Weekend

I had a lovely birthday weekend.

My birthday fell on the Friday, and so I rose early and went into the University, picked up my thesis from the printers, and handed in my PhD! Hooray!! This is the first submission, so it now goes to 2 external examiners for them to read, and then I have to defend it at a viva.

Tom going to hand in his thesis

Tom going to hand in his thesis

Tom submitting thesis

Tom submitting thesis

I have to say, I had no idea how much pressure would come off me when I submitted. It reminded me of the last day of finals for my first degree. I actually felt 10kg lighter! I went and was quite dizzy with some colleagues and distributed jam donuts, and then find a new generation MoBike and rode home. These newer bikes have 3 gears, bigger frames and wheels and are definitely my kind of stationless hire bike.

A bicycle

Next gen MoBike

Matt was up from down South, and so he and Ann took me for brunch at Stark’s Kitchen and surprised me with a stack of 2000AD comics, a new shiny USB lighter for my candles, and a Fitbit, very happy about the latter.. Ann had me well foxed on that.. especially since she had also got me a new amplifier..

Man holding comics.

Matt got me some 2000AD comix!

Man holding present

FitBit4Tom

Back home Alex and Matt joined me playing Five Tribes which Alex bought me about 2-3 years ago and we have never managed to play yet. It’s really tactical, easy to understand, probably hard to fully master, and full of a lot of replay depth. The takeaway was Lebanese and great..

A boardgame

Five Tribes

2 men eating Lebanese food

Lebanese Takeaway

All in all a cracking birthday..

Roll on 54.. er, I mean 22..

On Saturday we decided to continue to play Five Tribes since we had enjoyed it so much. Duncan Rowlands joined us, and then we ate the 2 curries I had made. I was very pleased with the chana dal since I had never made it before, and the cauliflower and sweet potato curry was also good scran. I was not so happy about burning my hand.

Anyway, after 28 winks, we all went to see Ann’s thespian debut in When We Are Married by J.B.Priestley at the People’s Theatre. Ann played Mrs. Northrop, the insolent charwoman. We all thought she was brillig and all her hard work paid off as she nailed this comic West Yorkshire part.

Mrs Northtop getting fired

Ann Zunder as Mrs Northtop

On Sunday.. we hosted the ‘wrap’ party for the WWAM cast and crew. Our house makes for a great party house, and I had cooked 2 enormous pans of chilli. People brought cakes and veggie lasagne, and garlic bread, and booze and hats and we had a lovely day in the gorgeous hot sun of the Bank Holiday Weekend. I crashed and burned at about 8pm with a poorly stomach, but a core group soldiered on and kept the flame alive until midnight-ish. I met some lovely new people from the cast and crew, and many of which I would love to spend some more time with.

Cast and Crew from WWAM (not all of them obvs)

So, all in all a great weekend and then we wrapped it up on the Monday by cleaning up the house, having a fry up at Cafe 120, and later on celebrating Guernsey Liberation Day at Helen and Duncan’s, with lots of bean jar and gâche.

TTFN

29 Apr

North Star Con 2018

I went to the North Star rpg con at the Garrison in Sheffield: 26th to 29th April 2018.

Here is my con report.

Friday. Got into Sheffield on my Megabus and Supertrammed to Hillsborough.
Met up with Amanda and Massie. Andy Lily of BITS joined us. Then more and more people arrived. I drank quite a lot of cloudy IPA. Hey, what could it hurt? Sent to bed very happy.

Saturday. OUCH! Oh that’s what it could hurt! Still rehydration powders, paracetamol and a Garrison full English with poached eggs and I was fine.. honest.
First game: Dom’s game, Fall of House Atreides, Conspiracy of Shadows. Oops. I read the first book at Uni so there was a lot of rapid assimilation as I tried to absorb the setting and also the fact that I was the traitor and yet the game seemed to be predicated that we were all meta gaming to trigger our room: the fall of the aforementioned house. I think I did it right, and the House *was* pretty effed after all my machinations. Everyone seemed happy but it made me think “this just be like playing one of these pointy elf games for a Muggle”.
Second game. Darran ran a truly great Firefly Cortex+ game. Not only does Darren have all the props, he uses them so very well. I loved the game. It confirmed my growing love of Cortex+. It made me love Darran even more!

Darran Sims as Badger

Darran Sims as Badger

Third game. Stuart ran “Testing Times in Tarsus”, a classic GDW boxed set. Tarsus is in District 268, major export Nobble meat, and is one jump to Collace.

Sunday. Graham ran Infinity 2d20. Gosh this was great. Crunchy but rewarding, with a driving back beat, and a melody of momentum and heat. Matrix style action in a near future setting with echoes of Eclipse Phase, Altered Carbon and Cyberpunk2020. If this is the crunchiest 2d20, bring it on! 

Graham, Remi, Pedr

Graham, Remi, Pete

Graham then ran 66Suns with Genesis. 66 Suns is a system agnostic setting. Genesis is the FFG funky dice system. I *loved* 66 Suns. I grokked Genesis. Fun fun.

Summary. I am on my Megabus home. I loved the con. I love there being another great SF con, the other being Travcon. I loved the 30-40 people format. I loved seeing new faces for the Garri-cons. My growing love for Cortex+ was confirmed. I have been shown that 2d20 plays great at the table. I shall print and peruse my copy of 66 Suns. Ill be back next year.

Read more here: http://northstarcon.org.uk

2019 Con announced as 11-12 May.. Read more

19 Feb

The Gaming Tavern Welcomes You

We are proud to announce the return of the Gaming Tavern.

The Gaming Tavern Welcomes You [Again]

Since the late days of the happy times of somewhere before 2004 the Gaming Tavern has been home to roleplayers, wargamers, readers of esoteric fiction, writers of esoteric rulebooks, mildly bedraggled wizards, the grumpy dwarf (and the other 6), half awake halflings and, of course, the troll Guvnor.

Guests are able to dry off next to a blazing fireplace full of elfs, listen to a disturningly wide range of music from the gnomic dukebox and sup a yellow wine or crunch through a bag of kobold bollock scratchings.

You are very welcome to enter the recently refurbished Tavern and join in the polite muttering and chatter about elfgames and polyhedral dice.

Login or Register at http://gamingtavern.eu/tavern/

I’m off to get some more firkins of
Black IPA up from the cellar and feed the dragon..

Tom, the Guvnor


19 Dec

7th Aeon

Now I am not saying I agree with this message. Bits of it do seem somewhat accurate, albeit hardly novel. I am sure we can find Ancient Chinese, Greeks, Romans or Mayans who said the same. However, it’s nicely done in a lovely anime style and would make a great intro video to a dystopian tale or RPG.

7TH AEON // ANIMATED SHORT FILM from Mads Broni on Vimeo.

13 Apr

Kantor Rythmeiger Strides Forth

I just designed and ordered a HeroForge custom mini of one of my earliest characters: Kantor Rythmeiger of the Sea Isles. A C&S character, he was a sea warrior, wore leather and fought with a shield, and has stayed with me as my Yahoo user id, has ported to several other game systems over the years, and is remembered with fond memory. Let’s see how the mini turns out, eh? It cost enough..

Kantor Stands Guard

He can also be viewed in 3D here:

https://www.heroforge.com/load_config=346652

and here

https://www.heroforge.com/load_config%3D346652/

Warrior Worshipping

PRAISE THE LIGHT

08 Apr

Design, Monitoring and Evaluation

I had a headache so I bypassed another day working the data sets in the spreadsheets and picked up a book on design, monitoring and evaluation frameworks I have bought. Very pleased I did, lots of very nice ideas and matrices I can use in Chapter 8, 9 and probably even 7.

In other news I planted out the marigolds, had hot tub, and read a review of the Dark Souls boardgame. I have read the overview, which is not quite the same as a play review in Tabletop Games magazine. The conceit seems the same as DS, in that you collect souls and can eventually trade them in. You fight hollows, and encounter traps. Eventually you meet a mini boss. The mini boss is run by a card based AI, that means that the mini boss has some predictability. So you die. Then you respawn and go in again, and the miniboss is driven by the same card AI. I am not sure but I think it may be that each time you play, as in a full game, the cards the minibosses get are random. SO a miniboss has a repeatability and predictability in each game you play, but not *between* games.. each game is different. That seems clever way to replicate the ‘learn the bosses’ feature but keep the game fresh. Of course eventually you hope to meet the BIG boss.

Weather has been really nice here. Mike and Amy have bought a new house.