Oh. Oh smeg.

So, that big piece of election related news. Best summed up on the latest Have I Got News For You, “In this news this week, AAAAARRRRGGGGGRGHHHHH!

This has… somewhat impacted on the plans for the post apocalypse event I’ve been working on. It’s kinda hard to write about one when an actual apocalypse seems creepily imminent. After all, when a climate change denying, pollution encouraging, tax cheating, serial sexual harasser has just been elected the most powerful man in the world, it’s not as easy to write about a post-apocalyptic future when the world seems genuinely at risk. It’s also meant I’m not offering Fair and Balanced to an upcoming Canberra con and will hopefully also stop people asking me for a sequel to that game. (I know it’s too much to ask but I can hope right?)

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So, I’ve put it aside for a bit. Not completely, as I’ve put both too much work into it and the idea of Drop Bears in a LARP setting is just too damn funny to me. But every time I’ve tried to write more on it I find up wanting to put my head through the monitor, which combined with the illness that has kept me from sleeping well the last few weeks, has meant it’s been far from a productive environment. My Lovely and Talented Wife (She who makes things better) has suggested it’s the perfect time to keep working on it, as it’s about a frontier group setting out to make things better, to learn from the mistakes of the past and as usual, she’s right. So I’ve not abandoned it completely, just till when it feels a bit less like the actual future. Hopefully just a week or two, but given the news out of America, it might be a while longer.

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So, I’m more working on my D&D campaign (More organisation on that is sorely needed) and a possible Feng Shui game for an upcoming event. Nothing much else to report, but I did find the USB with my most recent notes on it and while that’s not much of a victory, I’ll take any I can get at the moment.

Abruptly switching topics to the first piece of good news I’ve had of late (Outside of a pun run in the latest episode of  The Bugle), I got permission to use the Hyborian Tales rules set from its author. To say I was nervous about both sending and reading the message was an understatement, but I’m really happy about it. That’s a slightly more long term prospect, given it’ll require more work and, in all likelihood, attract a smaller player base. The latter’s not a deal breaker, given it was set for around 20 people max (6 players, the rest crewing). But it’ll allow me to indulge in my love of all things REH and put on an event (hopefully) different enough from the others in my neck of the woods. I can’t promise it’ll happen anytime soon, but it’s been something I’ve been itching to do for years and having it be this close makes me incredibly happy. If you’d like to be involved, whether playing or crewing, then please leave a comment.

“Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars – Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.
The Nemedian Chronicles

Fun Fact: R Cobb is Ron Cobb, who did design work for such films as Aliens, The Last Starfighter and Conan the Barbarian. And according to his website he lives in Sydney, which means I have some stalking to do!

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Team (Almost all) Dual Wield!

So, when we last saw our intrepid band of heroes, their investigations had taken them to the Cliffwatch Inn, when all of a sudden, screams come from the kitchen! What happened next? Well, you’re about to find out!

The Paladin, curious, opened the door, to reveal several Giant Spiders crawling out of the ground and mencaing the staff. The Ranger tried to make friends with them, which didn’t really work, not matter how much she wanted it to. The Paladin bolted to try to find a phone booth to change into his secret identity, while the Rogue and Fighter started whaling on the spiders, with a particuarly impressive Sneak Attack one-shotting one of them. Damage was done both to and by the party, with the Ranger badly wounded and poisoned while the Fighter was consistently only able to hit with one of her two attacks. (Perhaps the universe sending a signal?)

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Weren’t expecting that were you?

The Wizard continued his track record of setting things on fire (Thanks to a well placed and sculpted Burning Hands), then shifted one of the barrels of cooking oil that was eerily close to the flame over to the tunnels the spiders had emerged from. Around that point the Paladin burst through a nearby window flailing his swords wildly and was about as effective as you’d expect doing that. After some more maiming of spiders (And the Ranger almost getting poisoned again), the spiders were murdered. This was to the Ranger’s annoyance, given that she wanted toto tame one so the Wizard could ride it. Needless to say, the Wizard was not on board with that plan.

Feed them? Feed them my axe!

Hessians sacks were doused in water and the flames began to be put out. Naturally, the Watch soon arrived, and Sergeant Gounar began to somewhat berate the PC’s. Turns out, random attacks like this had been citywide, and while the Watch doesn’t think the PC’s are responsible, it’s certainly odd that in a town with this many adventurers, this lot are continually found next to burning and/or dead things. It was politely requested that they accompany the Watch to a chat with their superiors, which the party took to mean secret arrest. Much eye-rolling from the Watch followed the now traditional party sassing session. And yes, the Wizard had scarpered by this point.

“I’m investigating, not persuading!”

The city official and Merchants Guild reps were agitated,but offered the PC’s employment and money if they would stop the threat. This was taken as a veiled threat, but had they walked out, well, I’m not sure what I would have done. (They wouldn’t have been stopped though.) The Fighter commenced investigating, discovering from the merchants several clues and a possible location, while the Ranger inquired about the 50GP of secret herbs and spices she needs to cast Find Animal Companion. (One of the merchants gave her a mysterious note!) There may have been jokes about how investigation is the reason they keep the Fighter around, a more than fair observation, given the Wizard’s tactic is simply screaming questions at people. Off they trotted to the bar they’d been told about, when the Ranger’s sorta boyfriend (The spunky Half-Orc) came flying through the doors. Bare Knuckle Wednesday get’s competitive.

“You see I’ve learnt this new spell and I’m thinking… fondue.”

A slightly awkward chat-up happened (Along with trying to work out if drunkenly trying to find a zoo counts as a date), with the party heading inside to investigate further. Questions were asked/yelled (I’ll let you decide who did what), as the group identified some of the possible compatriots/instigators. Crash zoom into their faces as they hear their names and roll credits!

“20!” *shocked expression* “No, not a natural 20, but your look of panic made it worth it.”

It was a bit of a mess of a session, as I’ve been sick and lost the most recently updated version of my game notes. That’ll teach not to have multiple versions of  my notes stashed on different USB’s and computers. I’m also new to the whole ‘running a game based on intrigue’ thing but it seems to be working. On the bright side, my players continue to be gloriously silly, which makes it all worthwhile. As for what happens next, spoilers…

So, what’s different?

This is mostly reconstructed from thoughts I was having last night while I was trying to sleep, so it’s likely to be a bit rusty. Hopefully it’s also less inflammatory than I can get at that time of night. Anyhow, in amidst all the trying not to cough up a lung I’m doing at the moment, I have more thoughts on LARP. My main larp, Clans of Elgardt, is currenly on hiatus and I recently went to my first Scy’Kadia event which while I had issues with it, I enjoyed and plan to go back to. I’m leaving off a write up of it till I can get another couple of sessions under my belt.

(If you were expecting me to talk about something else, well I’m sorry. All I’m doing at the moment, apart from coughing and job hunting, is trying not to freak the fuck out over the American election, so I’m afraid you’re going to have to deal with it. )

So, there’s a bunch of fantasy LARP’s around my neck of the woods, along with a smattering of sci/fi and steampunk. As we’ve discussed, I’m in the early stages of writing a post apocalypse game and am helping write another couple of games. I wouldn’t say there’s a glut of fantasy events, but the do seem to be in the majority. So, while I’ve said I’d prefer to be part of something different, as try as I might, I keep coming back to one: Hyborian Tales.

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It was a UK LARP set in the world of Robert E Howard’s Conan tales, a long time love of mine, filled with muscles, bloody combat and dialogue so testosterone fueled that just holding a copy of the stories can put hair on your chest. It’s classic pulp fiction, mostly published in Weird Tales magazine, though the racial elements of a lot of it are hard to ignore. You have to remember Howard was writing in early 1930’s Texas and while slightly enlightened for his time (In his letters he called out HP Lovecraft for his rasicm), there’s some stories I have real trouble getting through. Black Canaan, I’m looking in your direction. Moving on…

Sure, the fitness based parts of the game (Hiking up and down mountains, masses of combat and none of that simulated armour) meant I’d almost certainly collapse half way through, but it would have been worth it. The game itself only ran 3 weekend events, consisting of 3 adventures (Play 1, crew 2) and a communal tavern night. What do I like so much about it? Well, there’s the immersion of the world, a kitchen sink setting of various historical awesomeness (Vikings, frontiersmen, Mongols etc), the sense of ‘you’ve a sword, a few coins and maybe some rusty armour – now go forth and chase your destiny’, something different to the ludicrously over equipped characters you see in other games and, last but not least, the sheer joy of dressing up and running around with a foam sword. What really sucked me in though, was the atmosphere.

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It was purposely designed for sword and sorcery style gaming, with the rules encouraging combat that looked like  an 80’s fantasy movie, with none of that *tap*tap*tap* nonsense. (That might be another reason I loved the idea so much, as I have real trouble stopping myself from Flynning when I’ve a sword in my hand – it’s why I think I’ll be a better archer than swordsman.) Get horribly mangled? Have a drink and catch your breath and you’ll be back in the fight soon enough. NPC’s were briefed to hurl themelves at the enemy screaming their defiance, followed by hurling themselves on their blades. It’s a game whose construction was seemingly built on a foundation of shouting and thews, which basically makes it the LARP equivalent of BRIAN BLESSED.

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What does all this mean? Well, I still have copies of the rules and I’m guessing this means I should put my money where my mouth is and run it. Sure, I’m trying to get several other projects up and running, but what’s yet another fire in the iron? I love the play and crew aspect of how the adventures were run as crewing seems to be looked down upon here. Not seriously, but there’s seems to be a fair few games seem to have few, if any of them. Granted, most games here aren’t large enough to require a constant supply of NPC’s but crewing is stupid amounts of fun. You get to seed plot, lie outrageously, try to kill PC’s and help guide the story – what’s not fun about that?

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Getting back to the topic, and what I think I was meaning to talk about, was the style of game and how to communicate that. I’ve played some where the style of the game was clear and players understood it, and others less so. I feel slightly arrogant in saying it, but I think I’ve hit that point with my table tops and it’s a good feeling. Actually no, I do have a proper point. If you’re going to run a fantasy game, then tell me how it’s different from the other ones out there? What is in your world and system that sets you aside from the rest? What’s the hook? There’s already plenty of would-be Tolkein’s out there, so maybe try for something different? You know, Orcs that aren’t savages,  Elves and Dwarves that don’t hate each other etc? I get that the classics can be comforting (My games are powered by cliches after all), and an easy way to explain things, but at some point don’t you want to break away from that?

REH art by Bill Cavalier. No, not the Dungeon Bastard Bill Cavalier .