Blackpowder ahoy!

So, I’m not going to talk about my brain goblins today! Instead, I’m going to start detailing my prep for Blackpowder and Bloodlines. If you aren’t keen on LARP talk, this may not be for you.

I’ve paid a deposit for the ticket, so I’m in. I’m incredibly excited about the game, and slightly terrified of the standard of player costume, having seen the most recent batch of photos. It’s damned impressive, and I’m nervous as hell about matching it.

Granted, my usual ‘too many ideas, too few games’ problem has started to rear it’s head, but I’ve talked about my current idea so with the folks I’m heading down with, I’m sticking with it. We’re a small group of mostly explorer types who’ve arrived at the game’s location for a variety of reasons

Here’s what I’ve got so far.
CONCEPT: Big Game Hunter.
HISTORY: Most of it is still being written. The first part is that I’ve journeyed to the new world to find a huge beastie, kill it and bring back it’s head to mount on the wall. Also, I’m next in line for the family fortune/title, and those behind me in the queue are getting a mite aggressive about it.
WEAPONS: Bow, arrows, quiver and knife. Got it. I might add a sword, but that depends on how much kit I’m carrying.
COSTUME: Drab, greens and browns, ranger-esque kit. I’m hoping to add some flair to it, in the form of a signet ring and a dark blue sash. True, it clashes with the rest of the outfit and ‘blue and green must never be seen’ is basically the only rule of fashion I know, but it’ll help signify my in-game country of origin. I got my tall boots recently resoled, I’m eyeing off a hood and a jerkin, but the rest of the costume is still in the ether. There will be accessories as well, mostly a variety of animal claws and teeth. That ties in with the next entry…
SCARS: I’m looking to add a few claw marks to my face. Spirit gum and/or collodion here I come.
PERSONALITY: Well meaning idiot noble is one of my standard characters, so I’m hoping to avoid that and go with a more world weary and grizzled type. My innate nice and trusting nature will probably shine through though, as much as I may try.  I’m expecting it to get me killed, but that’s all part of the thrill of things. 🙂

Transport still needs to be organized (I’m planning to train it down, and my group are looking at hiring a vehicle to get us between the city and the event), and last, and certainly not least,  my wife needs to be kept busy. You see, this trip will be just after we get back from our 10th anniversary trip, and she doesn’t take my absence well at the best of times. So, I need her time to be kept jam packed, so she doesn’t have time to miss me. I’m fairly certain that giving her spare time in my absence will not end well.

More to follow. Be seeing you…

Thoughts. I has them.

My therapist today said I’m making good progress. I am pleased with this. I’ll be talking about The Rise of Skywalker, recent Doctor Who and other media things. There be mild spoilers ahead mateys!

Book wise, I finished Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames. It’s set in a world where D&D style adventurers are like rock stars in our world, with bookers, promo and the like. It’s about a group of adventurers who used to be stars, but are now old, fat or drunk. And then all of a sudden, they have to get the band back together. Shenanigans ensure. Hilarious, occasionally heartbreaking and stuffed with fun, I love the running gag about who every bard who joins them dies. I’m planning to grab the sequel next payday. 🙂

Doctor Who has returned! We’re two eps in to the new season at the time of writing,  and it was wonderful*. I’m a little sad Missy didn’t get to meet 13, but that’s what Big Finish is for. Gomez was wonderful in the role, and I liked the attempt at a redemption arc for her in Capaldi’s last season, but I love having a Master who’s a right proper villain back. No ‘trying to stop the Magna Carta being signed’ nonsense, this was villainy with a capital V. Roger Delgado’s Master would be proud. The second episode suffered a little (What actually was the plan? Also, I was watching on my phone on a train, which never helps), but as with part 1 the final few minutes more than made up for any possible shortcomings. I’m still not quite sold on having 3 companions, but i wouldn’t cut any of the current 3.

Master Coat
Also: I WANT THAT COAT.

Moving to The Rise of Skywalker. Yes, I went to a midnight screening. It’s hard for me to talk about and still remain unbiased, but I’ll try. There were moments I loved, that thrilled me with childlike glee and had me punching the air with joy. At the same time, there were moments that had me cocking my head and going ‘Ya fucken what?‘ at the screen. And there was some sadness and tears, as expected and the ache of what could have been. Because well…

This wasn’t the film we would have got had Carrie Fisher still been with us.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought that what they did with the footage they had was wonderfully done. She was a big part of the story (Unlike Rose – NOT HAPPY JJ), but I wanted more – this was supposed to be Fisher’s spotlight film after all. Can we get a Leia training Rey novel, please? (I know about Resistance Reborn, but haven’t had the chance to read it yet.) It’s just I’m greedy and I want to see her more of her – can you blame me? Also, in the entire saga there’s only been three female characters who’ve held lightsabers on screen and had dialogue (Film canon only – I count Leia, Rey and Maz. Yes, I know there’s been other female Jedi but they didn’t speak), and that shit NEEDS TO FUCKING CHANGE.

Leia
I miss you Space Mum. Everytime I take my meds I think of you.

I also like the fact that there’s still unanswered questions, but the two halves of my nerd soul war against each other – one side likes the mystery** while the other side screams ‘I NEED TO KNOW WHAT THAT SIDE CHARACTER HAD FOR BREAKFAST 2 YEARS AGO, GIVE ME ALL THE INFORMATION!’*** I’m looking forward to more stories in the universe not based around the Skywalkers. Yes, KOTOR: The Movie could be amazing, but given how much we’ve seen about the Jedi, there’s other parts of the universe that could be explored.

On that note, while re-watching Solo recently I was reminded of a few things.
!: I maintain it could be improved by having Beckett killed (As much fun as Woody Harrelson was having) during the opening job and Val being Han’s mentor.
2: I’d have loved the story of the job that got Han in debt to Jabba, rather than an origin story. I’m over them at the moment. To fly off on a slight tangent, I also like the idea that our first glimpse of Doctor Strange in the MCU was in Thor: Ragnarok, rather than his own movie. Earth has wizards now, deal with it. Back to the points i was trying to make.
3: Not getting to see more of Donald Glover’s Lando would be a damn shame. Ehrenrich did justice to young Han (You gotta have adamantium balls to step into those shoes), but Glover was flat out amazing – the man can wear a cape damn well.
3: It could, and should, have done better by it’s female characters.
4: Maul was a continuity reference too far. If you hadn’t seen the relevant Clone Wars/Rebels episodes, you’d have been completely out of the loop.
5: GIVE US AN ENFYS NEsT AND AHSOKA MOVIE YOU COWARDS.

colbert give me
Please?

That slow drip of information was done well, however, in The Mandalorian. A Fistful of Dollars meets Lone Wolf and Cub, but in spaaaaaace. Roll on season 2. That Pedro Pascal was able to convey so much emotion and character with body movements and his voice was wonderful. Hell, just the silence that followed the line ‘of Alderaan’ in the final ep sent shivers down my spine. And the Child. *squees mightily* That was 3/4’s of why I wanted to show it to my wife. I’ve since been informed by her that ‘I have spoken’ will be used against me. I’m hoping to retort with ‘This is the way’ but I’m not expecting to succeed. I haven’t wanted a suit of that armour so much since my teens. Seeing the Armourer’s helmet, reminiscent of the Corinthian Greek helm, had me almost jumping up and down in glee at the design.

We’ve purchased tickets for the Brisbane run of Good Society****, and character details got released today! Choice is… tricky. I’m hoping to swash my buckle, if you know what I mean, and not make as make of a mess of my characters life as I did at Pax Europa. Blackpowder and Bloodlines tickets are soon available as well, and character ideas are percolating. Mostly around my old adage of ‘The next character I play will carry less junk’ and how I never manage to keep that. The idea is a big game hunter, whom others in his family may have issues with – why do you think he’s journeyed so far from home? So, that’s hunting clothes and a fancier wardrobe for parties, bow, arrows and quiver, likely sword and dagger, other misc kit, and storage for said items. Perhaps a facial scar or two and some bling for my hair and/or beard. Oh, and some colonial era white privilege. My tall boots need to be resoled, and I also need to get back into shooting practice. Busy times ahead!

Enough for now. Sleep beckons. Be seeing you…

* Yes, I avoided saying ‘masterful’ on purpose.
**To quote G’Kar again: “They are a mystery. And I am both terrified and reassured to know that there are still wonders in the universe, that we have not yet explained everything.”
*** My wife asked me, quite pointedly, why I was OK with “How’d you get up there?” “Wasn’t easy!” in Big Trouble in Little China, yet wanted more details from this. I’m not exactly sure, but since the SW universe is vastly more detailed, I guess I want to read that.
**** I’m seeing the Iron Maidens the night of the Sydney run, and need to be back for that.

New Year, same old brain goblins

So, it’s 2020. I’d say Happy New Year, but I think more in terms of congrats at surviving another year. Cheerful I know. To quote one of the wisest beings I know, G’Kar of Narn, “You do not make history. You can only hope to survive it.”

Also, been a while. That happens as well. Why am I quiet? Lack of something important to say I guess. When massive chunks of my internet feed are doom and gloom, I don’t much feel like adding to it. What, another person agreeing our government is shit or posting their anger about something horrible? Yes, my anger still burns bright, have no fear of that, but that’s something else I should probably work on. I’m more exhausted by the constant string of horror that I’m latching on to the little things that bring joy, like classic Danger Mouse being on Netflix. The turgid miasma of existence (To steal a Celibate Rifles album title) will still be there when it ends, but it’s vital (at least for me) to focus on something else, even if only for a time. Too much gloom doesn’t end well for me – you need some light to balance out the dark. I’m aware that everyone’s perspective on what that counts as is different though. My wife recently asked was I OK, as she was concerned about the doom and gloom I’d been listening to while doing dishes. it was the Ramones It’s Alive, an album that brings no end of joy to me and is about as perfect as live albums get*.

I’m feeling pretty good, despite the usual festive season malaise. There’s some excellent shows I’m looking forward to this year, as well as a pair of interstate LARPS (Blackpowder and Bloodlines and the Brisbane run of Good Society) I’m planning to attend. I’ll be in the pit for Iron Maiden, Skindred’s coming up in Feb and Download looks pretty ace, though I’m still hoping for a Sydney show from The Hu. It’s our 10th wedding anniversary this year, and we’re going back to where we honeymooned**. All stuff to feel good about. Sure the back half of the year, when most of these are over, will be tricky to deal with, but I’ll burn that bridge when I get there. Oh, and the elephant in the room. In a few short months I’m turning 40. I suppose it’s a big event and I’m sure there will be some freaking out, but at this moment it’s another birthday.

40 also means tattoo deadline. I told myself a few years back that I wouldn’t get one before that age, to make sure I’d properly thought about it. The current winner is still the word ‘Polarity’, but reversed. Screaming mad Doctor Who fan, guilty as charged m’lud. Where on me I’d get it, that’s another matter. I’m thinking somewhere I can hide it. My wife joked a while back hadn’t I already had a mid life crisis?, and my response was ‘No, that was just a crisis.’ I’ve heard of worse coping mechanisms, the flashy sports car down the street comes to mind first. Sure, there could be a reason as to why you’d own a flash car I’ve only seen them drive at high speed around the block once, but I can’t think of it. They aren’t all bad though, as they have a lovely cat.

Do I have resolutions? I’ve never made them before, but there’s a few
Do more swords. I’d like to say ‘find a chosen weapon/system and stick with it’, but that’d be night impossible. As much as the lightsaber longsword is my weapon of choice, other weapons are just so much fun. Seriously, how can you only want to study one? Sure, there’s weapons I’m less interested in, but I’d still love to see how they work.
Broadsword was a revelation (not having done any single handed weapon so far), dagger was great fun and quarterstaff made me want to transfer that knowledge to a LARP spear. Also I want to get the face of my fencing mask painted as Eddie, most likely Powerslave era.

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Write the Minbari game for Pheno. It’s very outside my usual MO games wise, but i think it’s time again. Also, Pheno went so damn well last year. I got some lovely feedback and the reactions to this years idea has me enthused.
Feel better about myself. Tough one I know. Doing better brain wise is an ongoing process. Some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug, as the song goes.
Try and arrest the shrinking in my waistline perhaps, if only to stop my wife’s complaints about it. Bit more cardio couldn’t hurt either.
Game more and potentially give GM’ing another shot. It could be the brain, but I’ve been feeling as if I miss it of late and while my last few non convention games haven’t gone as planned, I’m starting to feel like it’s time to try to get back on the horse. I had some work done on a Torchwood Sydney game last year and I’m all but certain interested parties are still keen.

That’s it for the moment. Hopefully more soon. Be seeing you…

*All killer, no filler. Also, very little talking to the audience.
**No, I’m not telling you where. I like to make my stalkers work.

Be seeing you…

DEATH TO FALSE METAL!

Ross the Boss / Night Legion / Carbon Black
The Metro Sydney, Nov 23rd 2019.

Guitarist Ross ‘The Boss’ Friedman first came to my attention through his work with NYC punk group The Dictators, who’s first album ‘Go Girl Crazy’ is both a classic of the genre and among the first punk albums released. But tonight isn’t a night for that – there’s no time for Two Tub Man or sign of Master Race Rock. Tonight we’re here to celebrate his other well known act, the speaker exploding loincloth wearing kings of metal, the one, the only, Manowar!

This was a night for the diehards. A night where battle vests were donned like knights of old donned mail, where mighty warriors came to celebrate the music they love, hair was let down and much air guitar was played. Sure, sections of the crowd looked closer to Cohen than Conan, but that lends further evidence to my theory that there’s going to be some amazing retirement communities in a few years. Anyhow, I feel I should begin by apologizing to the woman in front of me for the volume I was screaming in your left ear at  various points through the show. Sure, you didn’t seem to notice (It was very loud), or were too polite to say anything, but I was raised to be what some folks consider overly polite.

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It was also a night to wear earplugs. I keep meaning to invest in a quality pair. Maybe for Download or Maiden next year. Owing to some fun with trackwork and a post sword nap that was over long, I found myself rushing to get there just as Ross and co was due to hit stage, so there was some relief at their set starting 15 minutes late. My heartfelt apologies to the supports, it ain’t easy, especially when the attendance isn’t great. The Metro seems about half full, and and I’m able to make it to the front with ease. Things fill up a bit more as showtime grows closer, but it’s still only half to 2/3rds full.

While the set starts strong, with Blood of the Kings opening, it’s not till Blood of my Enemies that things really get going. Kill with Power has the crowd roaring along, and Bridge of Death has all the pomp and ceremony/absurdity of the original intact. Battle Hymn fucking DESTROYS and as dodgy as Hail and Kill’s lyrics are (If you don’t know them, then you’ve been warned), it still goes down a treat. And before we know it, it’s all over.

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We got was was promised, the Manowar album Hail to England, played in full (Minus the bass solo Black Arrows, who’s intro I was quite looking forward to) as for the band, they played it beautifully – Ross hasn’t lost any skill with age, the bass player was phenomenal, the vocalist has quite the scream and a fine command of cheesy metal stage patter and their drummer was both fantastic and well, damn… I’m not saying I’d switch sides (He’s not Nathan Fillion circa Firefly), but I certainly noticed him, unlike most drummers.

All in all, it was a grand night. Heavy metal was played. Horns were thrown, heads were banged and much fun seemed to be had by all. Can’t wait for the next one.

Another update

So, update time.

I have a floor ticket for Iron Maiden’s Sydney show next year. *throws horns* I’m so damn excited about this it’s not funny. I’ve waxed lyrical many a time about my love for that band and will no doubt do so again, and to be in the pit on this tour, possibly the most over the top one they’ve done stage wise, promises to be a night I’ll never forget.

The lineup for Download next year was also announced, and there’s enough bands I dig to get me there. I’m still waiting for the second run of announcements before buying a ticket and hoping for sideshows. I’d love to see The Hu in a smaller venue, as they’re metal as fuck, but not the thrashing kind, whereas seeing Testament a few years back in a tiny venue nearly melted my face off with awesome. Don’t get me wrong, they were fantastic at Soundwave, but being that close as they roared through Dark Roots of Earth was fucking amazing. In other shows, Ross the Boss is this Saturday night and Halestorm hit town in a couple of weeks. The Iron Maidens are also back next year, which should prime the pump nicely for the real thing soon after. I’ve had issues with tribute/cover bands in the past, but seeing how much joy they take in playing those songs, I get swept up in it all. Also, they’re really fucking good at it.

In other good news, Niece, Age 11 is DMing a game of her own. She’s been excitedly talking to me about what’s happening in her game, and about talking D&D near her non-nerd friends and their confused reactions. I’m so freaking proud of her. She only has one set of dice, and I had to laugh and say “Oh my sweet summer child, we’ll fix that.” I’ve tried to pass down what GM wisdom I’ve learned from my years at the table, but I don’t need to say much – the kid has her head on straight to a degree that’s scary. Sure, I’ve still given advice and asked questions about her approach, but there’s been moments where I’ve had to stop her and go ‘Save some awesome for the rest of us alright?’ I’m hoping to get her to a con at some point soon, or run for her one of my old games. The next generation is on the way, and I couldn’t be happier.

Sword continues to be a blast. We’re doing quarterstaff and shaska (Cossack cavalry sabre) this term and I’m really enjoying both. And yes, every time I pick up a quarterstaff I get a certain cartoon in my head… Then there’s a problem in not being able to settle down to study one weapon/historical text, when there’s so many I’d love to learn. I haven’t done any sword and shield/buckler, staff has me wanting to do more spear/polearm and how could I say possibly no to learning the cutlass? Well, it’s less a problem and more an issue with too many weapons and not enough time. Where’s a TARDIS when you need it?

Brain however has been rather wonky. There was a massive crash following Pheno. I’d expected it, but not quite to that degree. Conventions can take it out of you, there’s the lack of sleep, nerves and as much fun as GMing is, it’s a lot of work. There’s the panic and tension leading up to the con, the adrenaline and chaos of when it’s happening, and then it’s over and what the fuck do I do now? I’ve been trying to write more concerning the brain goblins and the general weird in my head, but that’s not ready for public consumption. Therapy continues to unpick things, in addition to what rattles around in my head on a regular basis. I’d love to be able to publicly talk, but I’m not comfortable sharing around some of this yet. Working out how I’m dealing with it seems paramount before going public. On the bright side, I’m already planning for next year’s Pheno – a freeform this time.

Speaking of planning ahead, I’m hoping to attend Blackpowder and Bloodlines, a weekend LARP in Victoria next year.It’s a while since I’ve been to a weekender, let alone so lethal seeming a system. I’m a big fan of perma death in LARP – I don’t want it to be easy, but I like knowing the threat of death is there. There’s tentative plans to group up with a couple of others, without which I may not attend. I’d rather have someone I know there, outside of IC links. Getting to make so many IC connections and backstory at pax Europa spoiled me, and I’d love to try to recreate that sort of thing.

And that’s it for the moment. Be well, and be seeing you

Pheno 2019

It’s my 2nd year running at Phenomenon and both years I’ve played 1 game and won a trophy from it. This year I got murdered in a freeform and refused the offer to return to life so I could have a nap. I’m not proud, but I really needed the nap. As much as I want to play more, I’m kinda hoping to continue that streak in years to come.

I ran 10 sessions of Orcish heavy metalers. I’ve told my wife to please remind me not to attempt anything so absurd again. It’s been a blast. Glorious, hilarious, absurd and more than once I’ve near wept with laughter. I’m also sore (Mostly from the laughter, but also some of the puns), over tired and can’t wait to do it again. The experience of the whole thing is lovely, from orgs checking am I ok, to wildly enthusiastic players – there’s a wonderful atmosphere there. How wonderful were my players you ask? One group wrote a setlist. Another put in character autographs on their sheets and I baiscally had to award the one who was writing songs during the game. They were excellent to each other, to say the least.

I can’t thank everyone involved enough. From the orgs, my playtesters, players and my wife, all of whom conrtributed to making my event as fun as it was. I place a lot of emphasis, potentially too much, on are my players having fun, seeing that as a benchmark for success, and I’m certain I got that this year. I walked away from it feeling loved and appreciated, and given the state of my brain the last couple of years, the vocal show of support means a hell of a lot. It was more than a little emotional at times, much like at Sydney cons past when the team would sit down and go “So, what’s the game about? We saw your name and went ‘Yes’.”

The game was inspired by an idea about a Half-Orc Bard wielding a set of bagpipes in a LARP many years ago and evolved to become a full band. It ran in Sydney a few years ago, and I like to think has only improved since then, both in the writing and my GM’ing. It’s one I’m passionate about, both cause it was a lot of fun, and cause I’m rarely as happy as I am at a live gig. Music means a hell of a lot to me, expecially seeing it played live, and I wanted to try to get that across. I can’t say if I succeeded on that front, buy my players all seemed to walk away happy, and I’m more than OK with that.

Selected highlights and quotes follow, all names have been redacted to protect the guilty. Also, things were blurring together about 4 sessions in and I’m having trouble remembering who said what. I took better who played who notes this year, and am hoping to improve further next year.

The group who, when confronted with an open door, would lock it so they could kick it in.

“We’ve got a empty city, great for looters, speaking of which, moving on…”

“We start to play Lightning Struck, followed by Nefarious Deeds for Little Money.”

On that note, naming the bands (pyro setup) baby pseudo dragons Angus and Malcolm. In my defence, they are Young…

“Cause no heavy metal band has thought to do a ballad.”

“When she talks about hugging, she’s talking about crushing to death.”

“How sober are you?”
“What kind of noodles?”

The van’s engine being fed a sandwich, which prompted me to decide the engine was a Flintstone’s esque monster.

“We meet at Legolas’s restaurant.”
“It’s a themed place that shoots skewers of meat at you, if they shoot you you eat free!”

“We announce a surprise show tonight but don’t tell anyone.”

“We are… I forgot the band name already.”

The group who went full Bill and Ted, by managing to convince Elven Nature they were them from the future, and that the show they were about to play would start the apocalypse.

“If there’s anyone pretty/handsome backstage I want to extend my hand to them and say ‘Come with me if you want to rock’.”

“Could probably do something Molotovian with these…”

“…pants around the knees, junk out.”
“Well, I’ve gotta air it out.”

A combination of staging a massive Orc underground festival in the park down the street from the Colusseum, having nicked some of Elven Nature’s pyro and set the rest on flame. That ended up with an impromptu Battle of the Bands happening when I realized there was still an hour of session to go.

“Windscreens? Where we’re going we don’t need windscreens!”

“Are there any plushies for sale?”
“Band plushies?”
“Shark plushies, so we can jump over them!”
(That was the session that managed to start a plushie Sharknado in the center of the audience.)

Picking up a  large batch of recreational chemicals, then turning the on stage fans to face the audience and feeding said chemicals through them. Closely followed by most of the stadium size crowd tripping balls.

*Drummer turns to the keyboard player he was crushing on*
“There is no one I’d rather be in a drunk tank with”
*Mid set onstage making out followed*

Peoples reactions to hearing the names Elven Nature and the Backwoods Boys. Will, your terrible jokes live on.

“I just want to know what it’s like to have sex with a unicorn!”

“The van has memories”
“The van has fucken herpes as well!”

“You’re happy to commit genocide, but fucking a dragon is too far?”

The phrase ‘Good Morning Menzoberranzan: The Freeform!”

“The guys a huge hipster right, so we can get him to set the audience on fire before it’s cool”

“And then ORCHEMIAN RHAPSODY begins”

One player being the most adorably protective Dragon mother ever. That might have been the session where dragons being like scaly fire breathing kittens became canon.

“Fat Bottomed Elves?
Well, I was thinking Another Elf Bites the Dust.”

“Whosoever pulls the axe from the van is the new frontman.”

“I grate some rat jerky over the top.”

“I was thinking ‘Suck my Cock’, but now I think ‘Come so Hard you Black Out’.”
“And what song will you be playing?”

Getting to use the phrase “The stadium looks like 80,000 shampoo commercials come to life”

“Do you owe them child support?”
“Do you owe them a child?”

“I don’t know how I feel about the title ‘License to Fist'”

“Remember the time I told you about feelings?”
“We all have them”
“My teeth are immaculate!”

A cannon being added to a stadium boom gate, thus becoming the canon cannon.

“I’ve been going over the speed limit, but that doesn’t count as speeding.”

“PREPARE YOURSELF FOR 4D10 SONIC DAMAGE. THERE WILL BE NO SAVING THROW.”

“How do they (A Goblin and Elf) do it?”
“Look, I’m not saying there isn’t a size difference, but the heart wants what the heart wants.”
“A stepladder?”

“Don’t kinkshame the chicken!”

“You’re not allowed to smoke in bed.”
“Just means you aren’t using enough lube.”

The arguments over who’s turn it was to drive. Having it be everyone’s turn to drive and have Drive at D4 is one of my favorite things I’ve ever done in gaming.

“Suns out, wangs out.”

“That bastard, he steals from us and takes our money!”

“What’s the Elf to Dragon ratio?”
“African or European?”

And that’s about half of the quotes I have written down. To say there was hilarious shenanigans is putting it mildly. I bloody love my players, and would give them all awards if I could. Prize giving is the hardest part of any con for me, even more annoying than naming my characters. I love you all.

I’ve already tentatively submitted for next years con, an idea I’ve had kicking around for a couple of years. Bit of a departure from my normal work, but the last time I tried that my Fox News game happened, so I think that’s a good thing. And hey, it means I have to rewatch all of Babylon 5, so it’s not exactly a hardship.

I’d like to end this with a reading from the Book of Paul (Stanley). “I know life sometimes can get tough, and I know life sometimes can be a drag. But people, we have been given a gift, we have been given a road, and that road’s name is rock and roll.”

Amen. *air guitar solo*

What could possibly go wrong?

Rock and roll has a long and glorious history of on-stage stupidity and absurd set pieces.

Alice Cooper has been guillotined, electrocuted and otherwise murdered on stage in various methods for over 40 years, while Ronnie James Dio once fought a dragon. (On stage that is. I’m not sure what he did on his days off, but I’m betting dragons were involved. If anyone knows if he played D&D, please get in touch)
Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee has had various flying or upside down drum kits, while Sabaton use a tank as a drum riser.
KISS use enough pyro to supply a small conflict per show, in between Gene Simmons regular bouts of spitting blood, breathing fire and having an ego so large it can be seen from space.
Amon Amarth and Manowar have had long-ships, or parts thereof, as part of their stage sets while GWAR once decapitated a Tony Abbott mannequin, yelling that “he was no Costello.”

Many bands have also done stupid or ill advised things in the name of publicity. One only needs to look at Blackie Lawless’s collection of codpieces (Of the buzz saw and fire breathing variety), or the Norwegian black metal scene’s brief fad for setting churches alight.  The Dwarves once faked the death of a band member (which got them swiftly sacked from their record label) and if half the stories about GG Allin’s onstage activities are true, well, don’t look him up unless you’ve a strong stomach.

But there is one band who can always be relied upon to take that level of madness and stupidity and go one further. From humble beginnings, with a kabuki mask that would spew fake blood over their drummer’s head in a small London pub, to the arena filling juggernaut they are today, they have consistently delivered live, both in terms of songs and spectacle. Their artistic fortunes may have waxed and waned over the years, but they have never had less than 100% commitment to their live show, and I can give no higher compliment than that to a band. I mean, they staged a WW1 era aerial display before a festival gig several years ago, at which their singer was flying a replica of the Red Barons triplane. I’m sure the likes of Beyonce or Taylor Swift put on a hell of a show, but have they ever done that?

I’m sure many bands have planned tours around what themes they can use for their stage sets, or how much pyro can they stack around the stage without immolating half the band. Sure, Rammstein have been known to set themselves on fire a fair bit, and I’d be remiss in not mentioning the time that James Hetfield stood on top of a flash pot during a gig in Montreal. Ooops. Historical note: Guns and Roses delaying their set till the advertised time, then playing for barely half their time-slot caused a riot that night. Turns out there is something that will make Canadians angry enough to riot over…

Fun Fact: The guitar he was playing at the time has the imprint of his hand on it. I’ve seen pictures, it’s impressively creepy.

But there’s only one band to have a meeting about what they’ll do on their next tour and between discussions on the set list, costume changes and the like, someone digs into the suggestion box and goes “I know, why don’t we strap flamethrowers to our singer for a song? What could possibly go wrong with that?”

Please step forward the one, the only, Iron Maiden.

At last, we shall have, peace in our time

Pax Europa was a joy. It was also the messiest and most drama filled larp I’ve played in, and I can’t wait to do it again. Set in an alternate steampunk universe in the late 1800’s, the 4 great powers of Europe (Britain, France, Germany and Russia) had come to Sweden for the Nobel Peace Prize, to be chosen by the Swedish hosts. Shenanigans, chaos, several major incidents and a war ensued. What, you were expecting things to go smoothly? THIS. IS. DIPLOMACY!

First off, my fellow players and orgs were lovely. Fucking wonderful. Welcoming, easy to talk to and happy to roll with my shenanigans. Just the sort of players you want. I jave to give an extra shout out to the ones who checked in afterwards and apologized for ruining my characters life. All good people. I knew going in that it wouldn’t nd well, but hadn’t figured just how badly it would end.

The pre game workshops explaining the basic mechanics worked well, with enough time to absorb everything, but not long enough that it felt like it was cutting into game time. True, perhaps a bit more time to work on relationships beforehand could have been used, but that could be down to nerves on my part. The Facebook groups for the various nations worked a treat though.

The ‘Off game’ mechanics (The call ‘off game, intimacy /violence’ is given, and the players work out what’s going to happen before it does. If one side doesn’t give approval, then things move on immediately) worked well and were easily remembered. I’m sorely tempted to use them if I run anything of this nature in future (Properly credited, of course)

The venue itself was lovely – it could possibly have used another room, or the upstairs area, but then we might have needed a few more players to fill things out. Given the tight corridors and doorways I’m glad I decided not to bring a larp sword as part of my costume, as my knife (in a sheath at my lower back) got caught on enough doorways. My decision to forget to eat throughout the game was dumb of me, as by the time of dinner I was UTTERLY RAVENOUS. Possibly a good thing I decided not to shoot the French general who was sitting opposite me, but unknown to me war had been declared so it might have been OK. In character I was also very, very drunk, as my life had been slightly ruined by that stage, but more on that in a bit. Bloody good scones earlier though, worthy of mighty praise they were.

Who was I? Caleb Burton, British adventurer, racounter and writer. I’d come to the symposium to launch my latest book, a lurid tale of my adventures and explorations of Red Martians culture titled ‘Life on the Red Sands.’ I’d already been warned by the British diplomatic section not to start a war, and I only came slightly close to that. My theory on the Red Martians being ancient humans didn’t meet with as much shouting as I was expecting, but the arrival of the Jeddak of Helium (AKA the Martian High King), who’s son I’d been *ahem* involved with earlier certainly shook things up. Talking to the NPC crew member later he’d said virtually everything I said to him made things worse, and I couldn’t have planned that better if I tried. *beams*

IN SHORT:
Presented my findings on the Red Martians, though sadly that didn’t cause as much of a fuss as I expected. Not to worry on that front though.
Almost caused a major international incident with the Jeddak (High King) of the Martian city of Helium.
Patched things up somewhat with my exes, though I owe 1 a hell of a favour.
Didn’t start a war. Yes, I am proud of that.
Got very, very drunk.
Forgot to do almost every other goal I’d set for myself.

OTHER STUFF I REMEMBER.
The exorcism? I’m not sure entirely what that was about, but being asked “You look like a man keen to restore his honour” and I figured why the fuck not? It seems as if the spirit of Imhotep was excised and channeled into a bottle, but I’d lost track of stuff by that stage. Also, the tentacle. Not sure what happened there, but it was a Russian scientist so who knows. (Who was very kind and didn’t stab me in the back. Long story.)

With the High King extremely angry and wanting my works to be erased from history, I was in a bind, and attempted to solve it by A: trying to apologize (Didn’t work) and then B: getting drunk. There was chemical wackiness with the British journalist (recovering from an arm wound from a lightning cannon that was tested on him – it was only meant to stun), the chemicals in question having been stolen, I believe, from the German delegation. Good stuff that.

Seeing people reading from my book (My wife generously donated some of her old romance novels to be re-covered) and shout horrible things I’d written about them was hilarious. Trying to extricate myself from a mess and hearing “Flat chested blonde haired strumpet!” off to my left was both punch the air and brown trousers time.

Finding my publishers had dumped the excess copies of the book (I DON’T REMEMBER WHO DID IT, BUT SOMEONE OWNED UP TO IT LATER) in the Channel and that they were washing up on French beaches was horrifying, but things started to work when with thanks from an ex (A French adventurer), I got them hidden. Fortunately, thanks to the public censorship, the black market price shooting through the roof and a secret print run for the American market, things were starting to look up again. That was around the point at which I found war had been declared by the British and Germans against France, which led to my ecstatic fist pump and cry of “Not my fault!” confusing some of the Russians.

That’s all I remember at the moment. If you’re reading this and I got stuff wrong, please correct me. In my defense, it was a very long trip. Kicking myself for not getting any photos, but looking forward to the professional ones. And the footage one of te players was taking – I think there’s some of the Jeddak and I’s confrontation…

To sum up: diplomacy, flirting, heavy drinking, a couple of minor errors of judgement, some light recreational chemical abuse and drunken self reflection. It was a good, good night. Can’t wait to do it all again. Already having a pile of ideas for what character I’d play next time and how to costume them (You know, the important stuff).

Thanks all. Peace in our time motherfuckers.

Bit of an update

Hey kids,

Been a while. Things should be exciting, but I’m more fragile at the moment. I should be writing for Pheno and preparing for Pax Europa (along with a couple of other unnamed projects), and I’m trying to, but focus is difficult.

What I am, however, is the following:
Diagnosed with depression.
Seeing a psychologist and therapist.
Started on anti-depressants.

It’s early days, but it’s promising so far. I’m not pretending it’ll all be fixed soon, that would be ridiculous. And yeah, I should have started years back, but better late than never eh?

How serious is it? How the fuck should I know, and why should I care? It’s a mental illness, not a fucking game of Top Trumps. I’m sure there are people dealing with worse, and my heart goes out to them. I’m not trying to rank myself against them, nor should I. I have my brain goblins, and they are mine, the last thing I’d want to do is to get in some sort of who’s more unstable pissing contest. Also, I’d lose and lose badly. I still have enough perspective to know in the grand scheme of things what I’m dealing with is low on the scale of things. That could be my inferiority complex not wanting to make a fuss, but I think that’s a point when I want to listen to it. (My wife will likely disagree with this, but she always disagrees with that complex of mine.) I guess what I’m trying to say I’m not matching my issues, such as they are, against anyone else’s.

Talking is good. It’s also terrifying at times, but feels good to get it out to a neutral observer who’s solely there to listen and help. Sure, catch me at the right moment and I’ll unload my troubles to almost anyone (I’m chatty that way), but this is a situation in which that’s expected. Which is nice. Both psych and therapist have been lovely, welcoming and wanting to help. I walked away from them feeling exhausted, but good. A bit lighter, and not in the way my wife complains about*.

The brain is still up and down, like always. I’m not sure I’ll ever be rid of that. And it’s early bloody days. But yeah. If you’re in strife, and trying to deal with something, then reach out to someone. I can’t promise it’ll be easy, or that things will get better overnight, but please try. Shit, drop me a comment here and get in touch. I’ve been told by numerous people who aren’t my wife I’m a good listener. One person has even described me as a calm and reassuring presence, which is one of the nicest things said about me in a long time.

I’d leave you with a song, but the first thing that comes to mind is my realization Sunday night that finding that Niece, Age 11 hadn’t heard Metallica’s Creeping Death meant I shouldn’t play her a live version, because my in-law’s house is not the place to start yelling “DIE, MOTHERFUCKER DIE!” at the top of my lungs. I did, however, tunelessly warble the opening stanza of Rockaway Beach by the Ramones to her, one of the greatest songs ever written and I will fight with (LARP) knives with any who disagree. So I’ll leave you with that.

Love youse all.

* My recent weight loss and slight gain of muscle was certainly not appreciated at first, and is only now grudgingly being accepted.

Punching Nazis makes *everything* better

This is a slightly rewritten version of an idea I had recently. Yes, it still exists on Facebook, but I wanted to change a couple of minor things and archive it a little better. So, here goes… While watching The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor with my wife recently, I had an idea. You see, while the film isn’t great (Though I adore the ‘No, this isn’t Rachel Weisz’ joke), it drops some curious hints at the O’Connell’s service during the war and that got my brain working.

oconnells

Long time readers will know how dangerous this can be.

So, the OSS/SSR/Delta Green have sent the O’Connell’s on a mission, teaming their talents with that of Professor Henry ‘Indiana’ Jones. No-one’s quite sure how the New York playboy Lamont Cranston was assigned to the mission, but he claims to know the area you’re going to quite well, while transport is being provided by noted barnstormer and ace pilot Cliff Secord. Add some Nazis to punch*, and a suitably horrifying threat (The Nazis are testing a nuke? Well, there’s a nuke, but it’ll accidentally raise Cthulhu/the dinosaurs at the center of the Earth/the Royal Family lizard people**), and there’s a pretty solid pulp adventure in there.

indynazi

That got some interest, with folks saying that Peggy Carter should be involved, given her boyfriend is on ice. Fair call that, both in terms of suitable characters and adding more female PC’s. I was trying to keep the MCU out of it, but I’m not completely averse to mentioning them. That did give me a further idea though, and while I told myself I wouldn’t write sequels anymore, within 10 minutes the idea I had a more than workable epilogue. If you’ll indulge me…

INTERIOR, SSR BRIEFING ROOM. THE PC’S ARE BEING ADDRESSED BY PEGGY CARTER.

‘The United States government, and by extension the free world, thanks you for your recent service. As much as we’d like to give you some time off, we have more work for you. A word of warning, you may think you’ve seen everything, know everything, but let me give you a piece of advice: the universe is a far stranger place than you can possibly imagine.”

SHE CHECKS HER WATCH “We’re just waiting on one more person to arrive and we can start the briefing.”

AS IF ON CUE THERE’S A STRANGE WHEEZING GROANING SOUND. A STRONG WIND WHIS UP IN THE UNDERGROUND BUNKER, PEOPLES HAIR IS RUFFLED AND PAPERS ARE BLOWN OFF DESKS, AS THE TARDIS MATERIALIZES IN THE CENTER OF THE ROOM. THE DOOR OPENS AND OUT STEPS THE 13TH DOCTOR.

“Sorry I’m late, but the helmic regulators a bit knackered and was causing some nasty feedback in the dimensional stabilizer.”

SHE SEEMS TO FULLY GRASP THE CONFUSION IN THE ROOM, NOTHING THE LOOKS OF SHOCK.

“Oh, hello. Nice to meet you all, I’m the Doctor.”

SHE REACHES INTO HER COAT, PRODUCING A PACKET OF TIM TAMS, WHICH SHE OFFERS TO THE GROUP.

“Biscuit?”

END AND ROLL CREDITS.

doctorbiscuit

Now all I need is the time to sit down and write the damn thing…

*I’d be tempted to add the BPRD in there as well somehow, but that might be one crossover too many. Though I ran a 60’s spy game a few years ago where the PC’s were from SHIELD, the IMF, UNCLE, Torchwood and UNIT, I’m sure I could work them in somehow. Besides, young John Hurt for the win, as the kids say.  DON’T TELL ME IF THEY’VE STOPPED SAYING IT LET ME BE CURRENT FOR 10 SECONDS PLEASE.

**Note: actual lizard people, not coded anti semetism. I was gutted when I found that out – I’d thought there were people that thought the Royals were part of an empire of snake shapeshifters secretly ruling the world, and no, turns out it’s just people hating the Jews. Damn bigots, ruining everything.