The 10 Shows challenge

So, a friend challenged me to the latest Facebook fad, ‘Name 10 TV shows that have influenced you.’ I can’t resist the chance to talk about things I love, so here I go.

Doctor Who
“I reversed the polarity of the neutron flow.”
How can I not love the show? As Craig Ferguson put it, the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism. Action, adventure and the most terrifying theme tune that 9 year old me had ever heard, at least before Chocky. I don’t remember a bit about that show, other than I raced to change the channel when it began. I still remember my first encounters with the good Doctor, the end of Ep 2 of The Sontaran Experiment and Ep 1 of The Deadly Assassin, which stuck with me for years, as did my crush on Sophie (Ace) Aldred.

I still prefer the classic series to the new, the cliffhanger format and nostalgia stick with me more. There’s something I adore about crap special effects and the mad ambition to try to do things they clearly didn’t have the time and budget for. That BBC low budget charm has even snuck into how I run RPG’s, as I now have trouble stopping myself from making jokes about crap special effects and reusing extras. I adore it when it’s great and when it’s rubbish, sometimes especially when it’s rubbish.

The Late Show (ABC)
“At Pissweak World, where every week, is Pissweak!”
Ah, Champagne comedy. I adored this show as a teen, and felt like the only one in my age group who knew of it during the first season.There’s moments that have stuck with me for decades – Pete Smith singing Dude Looks Like a Lady, Shitscared, the re-voicing of classic shows Rush and Bluey (The police drama, not the cartoon dog) and the reveal that Shirty, the Slightly Aggressive Bear was being played by Hando from Romper Stomper. My father and I bonded over westerns as a young’un, and my mother and I bonded over watching this. You could say I went from “Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!” to “My orders simple, a shitload of dim sims.”

Yes, some of it has confusing references and parts have aged horribly (There’s a couple of pieces of blackface that even as a kid I thought was ill-advised), but the Play School gag in The Olden Days kills me every time.

The Prisoner
“We want information, information, information.”
This was one of these shows I’d heard about for years, but never seen, a bit like The Aunty Jack Show. Iron Maiden wrote songs about it, it’s been referenced in The Simpsons an it was seen as a landmark event. Upon watching it, it’s even stranger than described, with a finale that allegedly caused the TV channel’s switchboard to melt down from angry viewers calling to ask what the hell they’d just watched.

A secret agent resigns, is drugged and wakes up in a mysterious Village, where everyone is known only by numbers. And he is Number 6…And then shit gets weird. Multiple escape attempts, psychological warfare, super computers and a security system that has a massive balloon that swallows people. It’s an experience and then some.

Danger Mouse
“He’s amazing, he’s fantastic, he’s the greatest secret agent in the world!”
The Thames TV ident that played before this is seared into my brain. The mix of comedy, references to other shows, shattering the Fourth wall and the occasional blizzard of puns, it just makes me so happy. It’s also my wife and I’s longest running dispute, owing to her clearly wrong preference for Roger Ramjet.

I choose to believe this is where my love of spy films came from and going back to the show as a adult led me to get more of the jokes. The new version is well worth watching as well, with Stephen Fry making a wonderful Colonel K.

The Goodies

“Goodies, goodie goodie yum yum…”
Looking back on the show as an adult, I’m surprised we were allowed to watch it, but with the innocence of youth (And some aid from ABC censors) we managed it. There was a couple of years of my childhood where weekday afternoons were this, Monkey and Doctor Who, with Danger Mouse and Banana Man to fill in the gaps. Those were wonderful days.

A reminder: this show once killed a man from laughter.

Babylon 5
“It was the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind…”
I came to the show somewhat out of order, a friend introducing me to season 1, just as season 5 began to air here. I was trying to suppress questions about what had happened to that character while frantically collecting tapes to fill in the gaps. It was the first show I’d seen with a long running arc, a five year plan of series creator J Michael Straczynski,
who wrote every episode of seasons 3 and 4 and all but one from season 5, a feat to my knowledge no other writer has achieved. Oh, and Neil Gaiman wrote the missing season 5 episode.

There was a reading from the show at my wedding, having made my now-wife watch it while we were dating. The finale hits me with so much emotion I’ve only managed to watch it 3 times. For perfect endings it’s up there with Blake’s 7 and Angel for me. The show is also where I got my love of mandarin collar shirts, which continues to this day.  And I’d put Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsulas against any actors on TV, then or now.

The Daily Show

“Finally, a guy who says what people who aren’t thinking are thinking.”
A comedy news show that left it’s viewers better informed than some news channels, it also introduced me to the likes of (Former co-host of The Bugle podcast) John Oliver, Stephen Colbert (Who’s speech at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner has to be seen to believed) and Samantha Bee (Who’s current show Full Frontal is just as glorious).

This made the list for many, many reasons, not just for the time that they got a gospel choir to tell a Fox News higher up to go fuck himself. *chef kiss*

The Young Ones/Bottom

“This calls for a very special blend of psychology and extreme violence.”
The Young Ones
introduced me to Motorhead, and for that reason alone means I have  a lot of love for it. It was filthy, anarchic and frequently shattered both the Fourth Wall and any and all sitcom logic.

It ties with Bottom, which was Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson basically playing fouler versions of Rik and Vyv. It doesn’t rate as quite highly for me, but for the live shows where actors spent seemingly half the show trying to make the other corpse make me giggle far more than they should.

“Mike Moore has this network’s support right up until the day we sack him.”
From the team behind The Late Show, this was a ferocious satire of current affairs TV shows that hit screens just as my left wing awakening began. It was filmed and broadcast on a short deadline and was frequently ripped from the headlines.

The team have continued with films like The Castle and The Dish, and shows such as Utopia, but the less said about Funky Squad the better.

Red Dwarf
“It’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere.”
The show that made Patrick Stewart think of suing, till he laughed. It’s also responsible for me yelling “Smeg!” at several jobs, with varying levels of confusion and/or horror at what I’ve just yelled. I came into the show in it’s golden years, seasons 3 to 6. It continues to this day, though I’m not up to date with the current run.

3 million years into the future, the last human left alive is a curry and beer swilling slob, a creature who evolved from his cat and a hologram of his dead bunkmate. Equal parts love letter to and parody of sci fi TV, moments from that immediately latched into my skull on first viewing and haven’t left.

So yeah, that’s my 10 shows. Honorable mentions include Leverage, Stargate SG-1, Banana Man, Get Smart, Life on Mars, The Colbert Report and Media Watch. I refuse to challenge any others, but if you want to, go for it.

Be seeing you…

Triggers, and how to deal with them?

“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”
HL Mencken

As quotes go, that’s one that’s stuck with me for a long time*. Sounds kinda badass doesn’t it? It’s been back in the head the last couple of days. I get that based on that I don’t sound too well, but I’m doing better than my last update. The brain is more high than low, even with today’s “Oh hey, that event you were going to pre-Covid would have started today” reminder. As useful a tool as Facebook can be, sometimes I really want to punch it.

I’m also prepping a playlist for my house’s Christmas party, which is to be apocalypse themed. Yes, it’s bold to assume we’ll be able to host one, and not in the greatest of taste, but we were preparing for it pre-Covid and we’re going through with it! My theming, at the time of writing, is pick your own apocalypse. Was it Biblical, did the robots rise up or kaiju emerge from beneath the waves? Have the Daleks invaded, was the bomb dropped, or were the Stars just Right?  It’s far from complete, and needs more Ragnarok for one thing, but it’s been keeping my brain occupied and that’s been welcome.

Anyhow, I’ve been musing and yes, there is a point to this. I have a few triggers. Make that a lot of triggers. Most of these are inconsequential, such as things reminding me of a song, or a TV show. The board game Operation reminds me of Tripod’s The Hot Dog Man**, while the Phantom of the Opera takes me back to a Wharf Revue skit. Normal stuff, at least relatively normal. But as we’ve seen with recent posts, some of those triggers are more potent than others. The things that will take me from a good day to a miserable one in seconds. The things that shatter my self esteem or leave me near burning with rage.

How I deal with them has been an evolving process. I have a long history of trying to ignore them, or distracting myself with something else unhelpful and thus feeling worse later. If crushing my resentments so deep down they become a tiny diamond was a sport I’d be Olympic level. This had me musing about my snapping point. What could it take for me to break? What’ll be my one bad day, the event that’ll make me go full Howard Beale or William Foster? Do I even have one? Probably not, let’s be honest. I’m not a confrontational man by nature, far more comfortable out of the limelight. I’ve a long list of “20 minutes after” lines, things I wish I’d said stacked away in the back of my brain, from missed opportunities, good jokes, or in one case, possibly crossing swords in the parking lot***.

As I’ve said, I’m not a violent man. I’ve had people jokingly bet about the body count when/if I snap, but the older I get the less funny I find that. There’s been times in the last few years when I’ve come closer to giving in to the impulse and lashing out, mostly verbally. Thankfully, things have gotten in the way, sometimes fear or politeness, or just having nothing to say at the time. There’s plenty of internet flame wars I’ve been tempted to join, but the realization that nothing I add to this will help generally holds me back, no matter how eloquent or impassioned my words may be. Whether it’s joining in on a torches and pitchforks mob, or sticking my nose into a heated discussion, I know that staying out, not inflaming things, is the smarter thing to do. But damn, there’s times when I want to roll in, keyboard blazing and vent my rage upon the irritant with righteous fury. Usually I swallow that and go clean the kitchen. Other times it’s gardening, or murdering racists in Red Dead Redemption 2. I’m sure there’s healthier coping mechanisms, but these work for me.

Whatever the task, I find I need that sense of accomplishment to distract myself, to turn to the closest person nearby and say “I did a thing, please notice this!” I told that to my therapist and she responded that her husband does the same thing. It’s always nice to know you aren’t the only one who does something. I’m debating whether or not to move up my next appointment, but for the moment I’m hanging on. I’ll certainly have something to talk about, that’s for certain.

As always, thank you for continuing to read these. It means a hell of a lot to know I’m not just screaming into the void. I didn’t start these to help people, but if just one person knows they aren’t alone, it’s been worth it. Take care of yourselves, and each other. It’s gonna get worse before it gets better, so please, look out for others. Kindness is punk as fuck.

Be seeing you.

* Don’t judge me. The line “I struggle to understand people who say they’d kill for a religion, but then I remember if Optimus Prime asked me to kill someone they’re a dead man” has been stuck in there for longer.
*** The line I wanted to use was “I’d prefer to settle this peacefully and without any bitterness but if you have an alternative method you prefer, such as crossing swords in the parking lot, then I accept the challenge.” I’d still like to use the line someday.

What goes up…

I should have known. Things go well, I talk about it, and the universe corrects that course. I’d been doing well of late, though I’ve probably slept more in the last few days than I should have. There was some not great news, combined with seeing some relics from high school/my early 20’s and well…


That period of my life, I don’t know why it has such a hold over me. It was over 20 years ago, another fact that scares me, but no matter how much I try to put those feelings aside, to tell myself that I’m a better person, that I’ve evolved since then, at the slightest provocation all those feelings race back in with a speed not thought possible. All that angst, fear and rage, it has done a number on me today. I can’t sleep, so here I am. I’m sure what was rattling around in my head was better than what I’m about to write, but here goes anyway.

The past is a hell of a thing. It’s not that I want things to have changed, I can’t pick a sliding doors moment. There’s things that I would have liked to have noticed, or done differently, but who doesn’t have those? I’m trying to admit some of them to myself, but having them, let alone at the strength they seem to be, doesn’t feel right. I wouldn’t be where I am today without those mistakes. Hell, I might not be here at all. That’s mostly hyperbole, given my abject cowardice and fear of what effect it would have on those I leave behind, but the point stands. Why does this plague me so much? I’m sure most of what rolls around my head has long been forgotten by others, so why the hell am I stuck with this?

Looking back I’ve always been depressed, or some shade of it. Finally getting treatment and finding brain doctors I like is one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I strongly urge everyone to give it a shot. No matter how sane and adjusted you think you are, I believe you could benefit from some therapy. Just talking with a neutral third party who only wants to help is wonderful. I have it easy compared to plenty, I’m the first to admit, but today hasn’t been a good one brain wise. Admitting that was terrifying at first, but gets easier the more I do. Don’t be afraid to talk – I’m willing to listen if you need someone to talk to.

I’m a different person from those days of long ago, but underneath that terrified scrawny kid still lurks. I don’t think I peaked in high school, and I’ve long wanted a reunion so I can respond “Get fucked” to the RSVP, but the scars are there.  Showing my wife my Year 12 yearbook picture* with the career listed as ‘undecided**’ and having her say “You’re still undecided.” I know it was meant well, but still hurt. There were things I’d forgotten about (I had a piece about Nirvana in one of them – it was the mid 90’s after all), but that feeling of “Is this all I am” hit me far harder than I would have liked. The strength of that emotion scares me some days.

it could be worse. The guy in my year we thought would be running the Liberal Party by now has had several stints in rehab for alcoholism. I’d be lying if I said I liked him back then, but I hope he’s doing better. The universe can be cruel. A friend once asked a group of us “Did you all hate high school?” and got a resounding “YES”. I’m sure there’s people out there who did enjoy it, but I sure don’t know them.

I’m going to try to sleep again. Hopefully putting this down will calm the brain. Please don’t be too concerned. I’m not at risk of doing something stupid, just not sleeping much.  I’m still planning on self isolating when all this is over, but I’m looking forward to coming back from it.

Take care of each other. Times are rough and the brain is a fragile thing. Be kind.

Be seeing you…

* No, you don’t get to see it.
**Only cause they wouldn’t let me choose Jedi Knight.

Good news everyone!

good news

Last Thursday (at the time of writing) was my 10th wedding anniversary. I’m very pleased by it. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years, but that’s the progress of time. It’s been wonderful and I’m very much looking forward to the next 10 years. Furthermore, my therapist thinks I’m in a good enough place that we can drop back to bi-monthly sessions. I’m hoping this continues. I know the brain has it’s regular ups and downs, but if I can keeps the ups and the downs aren’t so low, I’ll be happy. In other good news: my Minbari freeform was accepted for Phenomenon! I’m both very happy about this and more than a tad nervous. Shocking I know, but I get nervous about things I care about, and I care deeply about both the Babylon 5 universe* and my convention games. Yes, the idea is something, but I want to see what the players will do with it, how they react. That’s one of the things I love most about cons, seeing where different groups of players go in a session.

Getting confirmation also gives me a deadline (Which I work far better with) and means there’s (hopefully) people who want to decide the destiny of the Minbari people a thousand years before the timeline of the TV show. Well, I hope. B5 isn’t that niche, but it’s far from massively prominent these days. Writing it so people who don’t know the show can still play will be tricky, but the plan is to write-up a background sheet to bring any newbies up to speed beforehand. If I had my way, I’d get them to go out and watch the show, but that’s a bit too much of an ask.

So, now I have to actually write the thing. That’s where a lot of my ideas fall down Bit nervous, but the hamsters are starting to run round the wheel a little faster than before. I spent a good chunk of last night going through the B5 Encyclopedia (A gift from my darling wife that sparked this idea off, so you should thank her really) and while it’s fascinating stuff (As we know, I’m a sucker for background detail), there’s not a lot there. I mean there is, but not compared to say, Wookiepedia. On the bright side, this means I get to make it up and not worry about conflicting with anything. On the bad side, it means I get asked questions like “Did Valen fuck?”**

The brain has also been working on Troubleshooters ideas. That’s a lesser priority, given that it’s not for an upcoming convention, and I’m not even thinking of running it till we can see other people again. Yes, technically we can, but I’m not even thinking of doing that yet. Either way, globe trotting adventure that can be set in a 1970’s BBC studio is bubbling away in the background.

Be seeing you…

*How much you say? There was a reading from it at my wedding. *drops mic*
** Spoilers…

*cues up Mission Impossible theme*

Unsurprisingly, another RPG has caught my eye in the last few days. This one’s called The Troubleshooters, and I’ve already backed the Kickstarter as I type. It’s an action adventure RPG set in an alternate universe 1960’s, which is a damn fine way of getting my attention. Look, I’ll give you their elevator pitch:

“Imagine a fantastic world of the 1960s, divided by the cold war, where evil organizations try to take over the world, and superspies and secret agents try to stop them while fighting each other.

Imagine a world where you travel the world like Tintin, unmask heinous villains like Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Gang, unravel mysteries like Nancy Drew, do heists like Carmen Sandiego, stop evil masterminds like Spirou and Fantasio, solve crimes like The Saint, and even catch spies like The Man from UNCLE. That’s the world of The Troubleshooters.

Together, you and your band of troubleshooters help people, and fix the kind of problems that only you can fix.”


As pitches go, I’m in. I mean, a game that seems to have a ‘letting a villain monologue before you escape’ mechanic built in to the system is a godsend for me, who’s had many a dramatic monologue interrupted by gunfire from PC’s.  Having that sort of thing built in to the system, and indeed the expectations for the game as a whole, sets the tone nicely. It can be tricky at con games wanting to make sure that everyone knows what sort of game that’s about to happen, but thankfully I seem to have enough of a reputation and/or skill as a GM that give or take 10 minutes into a session most everyone has the vibe down.

I’m delighting in the little touches – the character sheets are based around a passport, and one of the Kickstarter upgrades is a pack of passport stickers, as the sheets have space for that. PC’s are very rarely killed, but most often knocked out and put in a cell that can be escaped from at the opportune moment. Though as much as I’d love to get a portrait of myself in the game, the option is far too expensive for me. Alas.

Back to the game. Exotic travel is a big part of things, there’s an evil organization looking to upset the delicate balance between East and West, and last year a French/Japanese atomic rocket reached the moon. Yeah, it’s our 1965 but not quite. (Head canon: All the early eps of Doctor Who have been preserved) That’s not all though – there’s extra European nations,  dark jungles full of strange temples and bizarre bleeding edge tech torn straight from James Bond films or a mad scientists lab. It’s the sort of stuff I love having access to, or letting my players have, in games. I have fond memories of a spy games I ran a few years ago that prompted the line from one player of “I take off my tuxedo to reveal another tuxedo!”


As for what I’m going to do with it, I’m not sure. I mean, I’ve bought it, so I’ll be running it (That’s my wife’s rule) Campaigns are generally where I fall over in my GM’ing, so there’s some pressure in that aspect. The idea of something heavily inspired by Mission Impossible and/or Leverage is the first thing that’s come to mind. Or, given my GM style and my likely players, Get Smart. I do want players to pick an actor who’s playing their character and stage an intro sequence for the game, as if it’s a TV show. I don’t quite have a handle on the ‘ordinary folks in extraordinary situations’ part of the brief quite yet, which means more research is due. Oh, oh the horror. 🙂 I’m already sorely tempted to run an interlude set in The Village, but can you blame me? I adore a good cliffhanger, so ending a session on “We want information. Information. Information…”  *tingles*

Look, all this is early brainstorming, given the game is only in the Kickstarter at the moment. I figure the physical book won’t arrive before the end of the year, assuming we’re still here then. Me, stressed over Covid 19? Not at all… But time to plan is a good thing that I’ll need. Yes, I should be writing the Minbari game, but I’ve been planning to have another crack at GM’ing a campaign and I reckon this is the game that’ll take me. *starts humming the Mission Impossible theme*

Be seeing you…


7 Album Challenge

So, a friend recently challenged me to the latest Facebook fad, that of challenging people to name albums that have influenced them, no comment or explanations. Of course, asking me about rock and roll and saying not to comment on that? Yeah right. I wrote a little about each album, but my muse punched me in the back of the head today, so you’re getting an expanded version. Also, I’ve had ‘Istanbul, Not Constantinople’ stuck in my head ALL DAMN DAY, so hopefully this will help dislodge it. It’s not that the song is bad per se, but it reminds me of a time in my life I don’t much like to remember, so. It’s not been a pleasant day. I feel I should set the atmosphere with this excerpt from Almost Famous, the scene that made me fall in love with the film.

And he’s correct – it is NEVER too early for Search and Destroy.

Let’s get to it.

1: Ramones, Rocket to RussiaR-2573759-1487956469-3937.jpeg

Their first album has a more iconic cover (There are walking tours that’ll go past the spot where it was taken) and It’s Alive is the greatest live album/Greatest Hits of all time, but for my money this album can’t be beat. It’s a perfect summation of the band and the last time the original lineup recorded a studio album. Look, it contains Sheena is a Punk Rocker, what more do I need to say?  It’s been a  dream of mine for seemingly decades now to meet someone with that name so I can ask are they a punk rocker? That that, add the likes of Cretin Hop, I Don’t Care and We’re a Happy Family, and you’ve got perfection. All killer, no filler.

2: Radio Birdman – Radios Appear
This was one of those rare albums without a dud track, a dud solo or even a dud moment. Even the gaps between tracks command the attention, as you desperately try to get your breath back before the next track kicks in. From the crashing waves that signal the start of  Aloha Steve and Danno (a tribute to the band’s favorite cop show) to a final ferocious run through the 13th Floor Elevators classic You’re Gonna Miss Me, this takes no prisoners. When I got a copy of this I listened to virtually nothing but it for weeks. It’s burned into my brain to a degree I thought not possible. I have trouble remembering important things like relatives birthdays, computer passwords and the like, and yet this I can hear this in my head at a moments notice. It’s over 40 years old and is still as vital as the day it was first recorded. Essential.

3: Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast

The first Maiden album I bought was A Real Live One, which to be charitable, is no Live After Death, but the title track to their third album was the first Maiden song I heard, and I was immediately hooked. From the spoken word intro (Recorded by a Vincent Price sound alike after the band couldn’t afford his fee), the atmosphere of the intro (That nearly drove singer Bruce Dickinson mad recording) and then it hit me. That. Big .Scream. I was never the same from that moment on. It’s been near 25 years, and I’m still just as devoted to the band. Yes, about a side of the album is a little sub par*, but the other half more than makes up for it. really, when that half is is comprised of  stone cold classics the likes of the title track, Run to the Hills, The Prisoner and the almighty Hallowed be thy Name, anything will pale in comparison. Up the Irons!

4: Motorhead –  No Remorse
i’d heard stories about the band and their leader, the mythical creature known simply as Lemmy, and his famous boast that ‘If Motorhead moved next door to you your lawn would die.’ And then, Bambi. The Young Ones was a revelation to young me. It was crude, violent, foul and anarchic, all things that I kind of wanted to be but were in reality far too polite and guilt ridden to even think of being. And then with a command of ‘Music!’ from Christopher Ryan, Motorhead appeared.  (I’d like to say my eardrums have never been the same, but that was thanks to the Rollins Band) This was the first album of theirs I purchased, a best of compilation with a few new tracks to show off a new (and short lived) lineup, but as an introduction to the band it worked like a charm.

Much like our next act, they never really changed their sound once they’d found it. Sure, there was the odd deviation (1916 never fails to make me weep), but no matter the year, you hit play on a Motorhead album you know what you’ll get. As Lemmy said to intro shows “We are Motorhead, and we play rock and roll.” Truer words have rarely been spoken.

5: AC/DC – Live
Again, I knew of them beforehand, having heard Who Made Who, but this made me a fan. Sure, the guitar solos during The Jack and Jailbreak are overlong, but it cuts most of the mid 80’s dreck and gives you a solid mix of the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson eras. Yes, the Bon stuff is superior (Would you rate Thunderstruck over Highway to Hell?) and I’ve not met anyone who’ll deny that, but the Brian era has it’s share of gems – I can’t help but get worked up during the cannon fire of For Those About to Rock. It’s meat and potatoes rock and roll, but played with incredible consistency – I’d wager no-one alive has picked up an Acca Dacca record and not known what you’re about to get, and they should be celebrated for that. Live is where music is best experienced after all.

6: Dub War – Pain
There were a few albums around this time that turned my head and opened my ears to sounds anew – Faith No More’s The Real Thing, Sepultura’s Roots and Fear Factory’s Demanufacture among others. But Dub War were like nothing I’d ever heard before – a mix of punk, metal, reggae and electronic all chucked in a blender to mesmerizing effect. That description may sound bonkers, and you’d be right, but the boundaries they laughed at made it all the more joyful. Hell, I even bought their remix album for crying out loud, something I never thought I’d do previously. Underappreciated in their time, like all great artists, their spirit lives on in singer Benji Webbe’s current band Skindred.

7: The Hu – The Gereg
Mongolian throat singing and heavy metal – two amazing things that sound even more amazing smashed together. Most folk metal (at least that I’ve heard) has a Viking or Celtic bent, but with bands like this and Tengger Cavalry, it’s challenging the white European centric view of metal and that is a damn good thing. (Yes, I’m aware that Tang Dynasty were the first, but work with me here.) Back to the band, they’re metal as fuck but in a chill kind of way. This is made for listening to when walking across ancient mountains, or while writing Dungeons and Dragons games, rather than frenzied moshing. Not that I wouldn’t jump in the pit though, for the KHAAAAAAAN!

The real kicker? Owing to Covid 19 they’re currently (As far as I know) stranded in Australia and can’t play  shows. So close, and yet so far…

Sleep beckons. Be seeing you…

*Still better than the likes of Quest for Fireor Don’t Look to the Eyes of a Stranger mind you. I adore the Maiden, but they’ve a few stinkers in the back catalogue that’s for sure.


What’s been happening since last I wrote? Well, we had a fire in the kitchen at home, which wasn’t fun. To be clear, meat on the grill caught fire. It was put out speedily without any damage, other than to the meal. Made for some unneeded excitement, that’s for certain. Plus, we got pizza instead! Also, I’m set to make my housemates pancakes tomorrow morning as an isolation treat. I am a good housemate.

So, I’ve had a little more time to dig through the John Carter of Mars RPG. I’m nowhere near through the book, but I’m certainly intrigued, in that first flash of interest kind of way. You know, that feeling when you see a new and shiny thing and the brain has trouble thinking about anything but it. This normally only happens to me about a month out from a convention when I’m madly trying to finish the current game, so it’s nice that things have changed up a little.

To quibble, I’m really not thrilled with the landscape format of the book as it makes reading the PDF fiddly on a tablet. It certainly has me tempted to buy the dead tree version at some point in the future, if only to make reading the damn thing easier. In better news, I found the film’s soundtrack on Spotify and it was a delight to see that at least half the track titles were a reference or pun. For example, A Thern for the Worst, Get Carter, and The Second Biggest Apes I’ve Seen This Month, which I can’t help but hear in Maxwell Smart’s voice. Silly song titles are a fine way to get my attention, and it’s quite lovely music.

Right, back to the book. The books layout and art are lovely, with a good touch of Frank Frazetta and that’s never a bad thing to me. There’s a lot of adaptability in the system, with the combining two attributes and roll under mechanic based more around how you’re trying to do something instead of what. On the bright side, a roll low mechanic suits my dice curse just fine. I dig the Momentum and Threat mechanics, and they remind me of the Bennies from Savage Worlds. Sure, record keeping isn’t exactly my forte. and half the time I mangle systems in the name of fun, but isn’t fun the point?

From what I have read, the feel of the thing is right up my alley. It’s hitting that cinematic swashbuckling decayed civilization thing that I dig pretty damn hard. Emotions are heightened, there’s mad dashes into action, frequently against impossible odds, ancient ruins and strange technologies. Duels of honour, savage hordes, giant apes and fancy airships. That’s pretty much my jam right there.

So, there’s only a few things in the way. The ones that come to mind are:
1: Can I avoid the mistakes of previous campaigns?
2: Can I keep track of everything that’s going on, and not screw up too many details?
3: Can I keep it going for longer than my initial burst of enthusiasm?
4: Most importantly, can I put this to one side while I write my Minbari game?


There’s every chance it’ll be added to the pile of partially written ideas I have stashed away, or maybe set it aside for a future convention game. Based on my schedule, it’ll be Pheno 2022 at the earliest, as it’s Minbari this year, and the cinematic pulp heroes fight Nazi Cthulhu cultists next year. That’s the plan at least, based on the reaction to the idea. Yes, there’s other conventions I could run at, but I’m on a bit of a hiatus from them at the moment.

I dunno. Maybe a few more days and it’ll get out of my system, at least temporarily. It’s not that I don’t want to try GM’ing a regular game again, but A: I don’t have a campaign idea for this yet, B: there’s no way I’m GMing this over voice or video chat and C: I need to get across the system first. The usual issues, you know?

More to follow. Be seeing you.