The universe is an occasionally cruel place, but it does like to keep things interesting, in both the dictionary and Chinese curse definitions of the word.
Case in point tonight. To explain: there’s that time when your body tells you you need to visit a toilet. Fair, albeit irritating. I get that. That it does so when the shuffle on my playlist brings up the Mission Impossible theme*? That’s something else. It does continue to amaze me how that theme tune can make even the most mundane of tasks a nail biting adventure. I must add it to my ‘cleaning the kitchen’ playlist to see what happens…
So, what’s been happening since last time I wrote? Well, my happy pill dosage has gone up another 15 milligrams. I’m still adjusting, though it seems to be knocking me out of a night quicker, which as someone who’s always had trouble dropping off to sleep, well, that’s a good thing. My parents have another cat, which is a thing of great joy. There’s even been some recovery solitude, which has been MUCH NEEDED. Eardrums wise I’ve been binge listening to the Flight Through Entirety and Bondfinger podcasts, and adding to my Espionage music playlist. Board gaming wise, we’ve begun playing Pandemic: Legacy Season 0 and we’ve played through the prologue game. We… did not do well. Mercifully, it’s possible to have multiple goes at it before starting the campaign properly, which we’ll need. There’s some interesting changes to the rules which we’re still getting used to. I’ll keep you posted on how things go, with appropriate spoiler warnings.
Staying with 1960’s espionage, the PDF for The Troubleshooters arrived recently, and from my brief glance through, it’s as delightful as I’d hoped. I’ve not had the time to have a really good look yet, I’m already in love with the “How did you all meet?” mechanic, which while a good Session 0 should deal with, seems to provide a wonderful starting point to build from. However, it’s getting in the way of the events I should be writing, namely Bombshells and Babylon 5. The last Bombshells session ended mid heist (The PC’s were stopping the heist, to be clear) and I’m deep in Babylon 5 research. It was surprisingly difficult to find out when the Minbari made first contact with the Vorlons. (Those are the sorts of things that keep me up at night.) So yes, as enthusiastic as I am about the Troubleshooters, I’m going to try to put it aside till oh, Christmas. Though I will be putting the Steed and Peel Avengers series on my Christmas list, if anyone wants a hint as to what I’m planning.
I find in that situation it helps to pretend to be a wizard.”
I bloody love Tripod. It’s been an exhausting last few days, with my anniversary, a medieval event that I was demoing at and God-Daughters first birthday party and after all that, I am knackered, in myriad ways. Physically, I’ve slept badly and still sore from taking broadsword strikes. Shocking I know, but getting hit with swords hurts. I’m equal parts I should have moved faster and should buy a heavier set of gloves/jacket. Though it was lovely to see two other club members in purple jackets! Mentally, I’m over peopled and haven’t had much time to recover. I’m dealing better than in the past, but I find large scale contact with people very draining and the lack of recovery solitude of late (Thanks COVID!) hasn’t helped my temper and general mental state. If I’ve taken my time responding, or I’ve been short with you, I can only apologize. The brain is a harsh thing.
Therefore, I’ve found myself diving back into gaming. The Cold War idea has mostly been set to the back burner (I did make a playlist, but in my defense the Hymn to Red October slaps, as I believe the kids say?) and I’m slowly getting back into gear on the Babylon 5 game, which is good, as my pitch got accepted for Pheno! I picked up the 3 issue In Valen’s Name comic run recently and between that and the novel To Dream in the City of Sorrows, I’m getting more of a handle on Minbari politics and history. It’s both frustrating and freeing however, looking up historical details and there being nothing, so there’s likely to be a fair whack of ‘Well, here’s my headcanon, so OK?” I’d like to have some details ironed out (First Contact with the Vorlons was when?) for consistency if nothing else. I get that I’ve likely been spoiled by the vast amounts of data on Memory Alpha and Wookiepedia, but at the same time, I’m far less worried about conflicting with things so yay? The Babylon 5 wiki is comprehensive as is the encyclopedia, but there’s still vast areas of the B5 universe left undefined. In any case, I’m trying to write my PC’s, but keep getting distracted with looking up historical details and trying to write “Here’s what you know” documents. The struggle continues.
Turning back to LARP, I’ve been bashing round ideas for a character to play at Midgard, a new LARP that started recently. So, the initial impression was I wanted to play something magical, maybe Druid-esque, something different. At least, different to my usual character type of well meaning idiot nobles. Now, upon the glance over their world details revealed there’s a large desert area which is the homeland of the Dragonkin empire and an idea popped into my head. However, there’s an important question at this point, and I haven’t been able to answer it yet. The question?
Is this a functional character idea, or do I just want to cosplay as Ardeth Bey?
Don’t get me wrong, in no way am I saying that cosplaying as Ardeth Bey is a bad thing. Far from it. Oded Fehr is a treasure, and I will fight any who dispute otherwise. I just want to have a reason for being there, to not fall into my old trap of basing a character around one thing and then being bored when it actually makes it into play. and I want to dress flashy, to avoid mostly red and black garb and to dress in bright fabrics. I’d link to the Brass Coast section from Empire LARP as they’ve been a great source of initial garb ideas, but as their website seems to be down, but here’s the Google Image Search. It’s bright, shiny and distinctive and that’s where my head is at at the moment. Hell, I’ve even spent some time looking at Dragon masks and prosthetics, but I’m being sensible and not purchasing before decisions are made.
So, I’ve things to wrestle with. Good night all. Be seeing you.
So, remember that wand shoulder holster I mentioned a while back? Thanks to a generous birthday gift, I have one coming to me. And outside of wearing it at an upcoming wedding (I have the bride and grooms approval) and wearing it around the house, I don’t have another use for it, and I find myself looking for one. Regular readers will know my brain can be dangerous at moments like this.
The closest thing to an idea I have is ‘Cold War espionage, but with magic’. I don’t know quite why the idea has gripped me so much, but here we are. I’ve read the first Laundry Files book and enjoyed it, find the Bond films superior to the novels (Whenever I read any of the Fleming novels I wonder how they became so successful, but I’m not in 1950’s England), and utterly adore the Rivers of London series. The BPRD from Hellboy seems a good source of inspiration and I’ve heard good things about the series The Magicians, but haven’t seen it yet. And before anyone says anything, yes I have thought about adding Cthulhu, but I’ll leave the Mythos to it’s own corner for the time being.
This idea, or skeleton of it, doesn’t really fit with any of them. That’s also likely why it’ll end up in my ‘Ideas I love, but can’t get to work’ folder. Still, let’s continue on the creative exercise shall we?
So, let’s brainstorm out the basics and ask a few questions. We’re saying an alternate universe 60’s. The Atomic Age is replaced by the Magical Age, with the superpowers rushing to harness arcane power to combat and/or guard against their rivals. Not a bad start. Factions and/or nationalities. If we’re looking at Cold War, then East vs West. So, Russia and it’s satellite states against the Americans and English. What sort of magic is there? Wand based, point and shoot, something vaguely Latin, or a more time consuming ceremonial sort of dealie? For that matter, where does it come from? Has it always been there, or did someone open a door they shouldn’t have? I like the idea of a recent reawakening, leaving the higher ups scrambling to harness this new weapon. How much does the general public know? Is there a masquerade, or is copping a Magic Missile in the street an occupational hazard? What does magic actually do? Offense, defense, can you hook a wizard up to a treadmill and power a city block? Is the magic system freeform, based on Jack Vance, or should I go back through the LARP rules for Mage: the Ascension?
Lastly, what will the PC’s actually do? What’s the point of the whole thing, what story would I be I hoping to tell? It’s an important set of questions and one that a lot of my past campaign ideas have ignored, to their detriment. It’s a mistake I’m trying not to repeat again, and while it seems to be working in the case of Bombshells, I’m under no illusions that I couldn’t make that mistake again.
Above all, what’s the mood of the thing? Bleak and dangerous, with betrayal and danger at every turn? Something like the Bond films, high action and flashy action? Let’s be realistic here – I can try for as much Le Carre as I want, but with my GM’ing style and sensibilities, it’s more likely to be Gandalf, Agent 86. I mean, a few small rewrites and I can see the following scene with two wizards divesting themselves of their magical items. (And as an aside, the suicide wedding ring joke is *chef kiss*)
Outside of that, I’m not great. I mean yes, things are improving. The Iron Maidens have rebooked for Feb next year, Blacktown Medieval Fair is next month and I continue to enjoy rapier. I’ve resubmitted my Babylon 5 freeform to Pheno (Rewatching the show for research will likely produce a flood of emotions) and Cyberpunk 2077 is surprisingly good. I’m not joking – I continue to be surprised at how much I’m enjoying it, and it’s moments of genuine emotional heft. Plus, you know, having Keanu Reeves in your head. I’ve had much the same feelings with the series Transformers: War for Cybertron, which despite not having any of the original voice cast, is still pretty damn good. It’s a grim contrast with the original series, turning what was basically a 23 minute toy commercial into an epic tragedy.
But at the same time, my brain is still far from fine. My temper is closer to the surface than it’s ever been, I’m not sleeping well (I’m on a new medication for that, but it’s still early days) and I’ve fallen of the diet in recent weeks. I find myself missing solitude more, but at the same time I’m wary of too much of it. I’m planning to ask my psych for an boost in my dose or a new set of pills. Therapy on Wednesday. Therapy is good and needed.
So, I’m now 41. The birthday party was wonderful – a friend letting me win at Munchkin as a present and once again hiring a projector for the backyard. The night’s films were the 1973 The Three Musketeers and, what is rapidly becoming tradition for my household, The Mummy, with Brendan Fraser’s commentary track. I consider spreading the gospel of that adaption of the Musketeers something of a mission in my life and hearing it be received with such warmth, even by my sister, who, warmed my heart to a degree I hadn’t thought possible in the week leading up to the event. It’s a film that’s very much my happy place and I’ve long since lost count of the number of times I’ve watched it.
True, my brain before and after the event was kind of falling to pieces, but for that day I was happy, and I’ll take that as a win.
This week in need of a pick me up I was faced with something of a quandry. I’d made up my mind to purchase something from Big Finish Productions, makers of fine audio content. But given their vast back catalogue, what do I buy? Do I pre-order the Ninth Doctor Adventures, get some more Torchwood stories or to dip my toe into the new series UNIT stories?
I settled on the UNIT: Assembled box set, because a story where Osgood meets Jo Jones (Nee Grant) was just what I needed, and it’s as delightful as I could have hoped for. The fact we also get the new UNIT crew meeting Mike Yates and Sgt Benton from the classic series was the icing on the cake. The new characters all have their place (Given it’s the 4th box set, I’m certain there’s background characters I’m supposed to know), the legacy characters all get moments to shine and aren’t just being heeled out for a quick cameo – there’s a lot of love for the show, both eras of it. I will be purchasing more.
The title also got me thinking and we know how dangerous that can be. With that, I present the following. Hopefully the creators who’s work I’m butchering in the name of fun will be kind.
The United Kingdom, beset by alien invasions, has fallen back and back til it can retreat no more. The brave men and women of UNIT are making their final stand against the alien hordes that, time and time again, have tried to overwhelm them. They’ve always won the day before, but today does not seem to be UNIT’s day. Against them, stand near every alien who’s ever looked at Earth and thought it easy pickings. Squat Sontarans, laser rifles raised, march into battle. Auton shop window dummies, gold skinned Axons and massive Yeti blast away at humanity’s last stand. Silurians emerge from the Earth, as Sea Devils have risen from the waves. Cybermen march through the chaos and a massive Krynoid overshadows the battlefield, crushing men and hope beneath it’s every tread. Ogrons lumber along, laughing as they kill, and in the center of it all, Daleks. The children of Skaro move across the field, chanting EXTERMINATE over and over, killing at every turn. This is not war, this is massacre.
They’ve made their last stand today, in a place that just happens to look like a rock quarry in Wales. Captain Mike Yates has made his stand on the right flank, blasting away at an encroaching group of Sontarans. On the left flank, the ever faithful Sgt Benton is providing covering fire as a group of UNIT engineers frantically try to get an Auton jamming device working again. And in the center of things, the Brigadier. Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Battered and bleeding, he clubs away an Ogron, falling to the ground in the process. He clambers painfully to his knees, trying to wipe away the blood and mud on his face. Things aren’t going well.
He looks around, encircled by his foes. They seem to be holding back, as if waiting for a signal to strike. He bows his head, grits his teeth. He has served faithfully and with honour, but today is destined to be his last, And then, he hears it. A brief burst of static from his radio and a voice. The Brig strains to hear it, his ears not quite believing it. “Greyhound One come in, Greyhound One, are you receiving?” A signal, but from where?
There’s a flash of purple energy and a platoon of soldiers teleport onto the field, weapons blazing. Their uniforms bear UNIT markings, but nothing like Lethbridge Stewart has ever seen. Personnel carriers rumble from over the hill, disgorging more UNIT troops than have ever been seen on screen before. Explosions thunder amongst the ranks of the enemy as tanks appear, pintle mounted gunners sowing chaos in the enemy ranks. The skies above crack with a boom and the carrier Valiant appears, launching fighters, it’s weapons blasting away.. Arcane runes blaze in the sky as a portal from another dimension opens, and out marches Brigadier Bambera and her Knight Consort Ancelyn, both clad in armour, leading a cohort of knights bearing swords and laser guns.
The aliens fall back slightly, unsure how to respond to this turn of events. For UNIT have answered the call. From across time and space, from the future and the past, from our world and others, they have come. Because Earth needed them, because the Brig needed them. The men and women of UNIT form ranks and stand to attention, as if daring the alien horde they face to come and have a go if they think they’re hard enough.
And Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart stands with all the parade ground poise he can muster, smooths his mustache and hits the call button on his radio. “United Nations Intelligence Taskforce” he says, his voice calm and clear as if Her Majesty was watching. He pauses for a brief moment, and looks at the alien horde. For a second, he almost pities them. “Five rounds rapid!”
Yes, what I’m homaging should be immediately apparent. And they fact I’m torn between laughing and being choked up with emotion as I type this may also be a sign of my mental state. I’m sure there’s parts of it I’d change, or to throw in some jokes about half the monsters looks the same, as if they only have three props, or are blue-screened in. Also, I bloody adore Battlefield and will defend it to the last. I’m hoping that someday Big Finish gives us more Winifred Bambera stories. But I need to hit post and will cope. I next see my therapist in a couple of of weeks and oh boy, I have some things to unpack.
So, I’m charging at speed to 41. And to cope with this, I’m making a playlist. Unlike last year’s, I’m trying to be cheerful! It seemed a sensible thing to do, to wallow in songs that bring me joy. (Yes, I do have some) Not misery, bleakness or rage, but that full tilt Bill and Ted, air guitaring like a mad thing kind of joy. The sort of songs that I tell stories about. Actually, stuff it – you’re getting some now. Strap in.
The Ramones, Iron Maiden and Ronnie James Dio feature prominently. Why? Because the Ramones are the finest rock and roll band known to mankind, a fact once acknowledged by no less than Lemmy Kilmister, who was something of an authority of the subject. Rockaway Beach is a *perfect* pop song and that it didn’t sell millions is a stain on humanity.
For some years now I’ve tried to put into words just what rock and roll feels to me, exactly why it matters. I was reminded by my therapist recently about how people exist on a scale, so X amount of people feel really invested in New York rock circa 1976, compared to Y number of people who care about, I dunno, rugby league or something. I’m butchering it no doubt, but there’s the general gist that people have different levels of intensity. It’s good to be reminded that not everyone feels as intensely about things. There are Doctor Who making of documentaries I’ve watched more than the show for starters. So yes, I’m very into rock and roll and you may not be. And that’s OK. I mean, you’re wrong, but you’re allowed to be, much like it’s allowed that there are people who aren’t in tears at the mere mention of the Tale of Iroh. (I am not one of those people) Anyhow, I think I can answer it, and it’s Rockaway Beach. Just listen, it’s all there.
I can still remember clear as day the first time I heard Iron Maidens The Number of the Beast and my exhilaration at that big scream (A product of their singer having spent umpteen hours singing the opening again and again before the producer liked one enough) has not faded one bit in the years since. As for Dio, he specialized in songs that sound like games of Dungeons and Dragons, alternating with songs about the glory of rock and roll. Whether with Rainbow, Black Sabbath or his solo group, that voice is incredible. You should know Holy Diver, but try Kill the King, written when Rainbow realized they needed something fast to open shows with.
The playlist itself. First off, the Damned’s Love Song is *the* greatest love song ever written. The Sunnyboys and the Ramones (Whose I Wanna be your Boyfriend played at my wedding) come damn close, but no cigar. HammerFall’s Hearts on Fire is up there on the list, but I mostly remember the video for it which featured the band up against the Swedish national women’s curling team. Delightful.
The interplay of Johnny Thunders and Sylvain Sylvain’s guitars make the New York Dolls Jet Boy essential listening. Balance that against fellow New Yorkers the Dictators, whose Two Tub Man has a spoken word intro matched only by Manowar’s Black Arrows for sheer hilarity. There are reasons why Handsome Dick Manitoba (AKA the Handsomest Man in Rock and Roll) was listed as secret weapon in the liner notes for their first album. As for unkind accusations about the song Master Race Rock, have they read the lyrics? Besides, half the band are Jewish.
Probot (an early 2000’s project of Dave Grohl) produced Shake Your Blood, which is the greatest Motorhead song not written by Motorhead. As for the Head, I couldn’t not have Ace of Spades and We Are The Road Crew. Lemmy is as close to universally adored as you can be in heavy music circles and despite his continual insistence that Motorhead were a rock and roll band, it’s nigh impossible to go to a metal show and not see at least 1 Motorhead shirt. Books could, and should be written about Overkill, but the last word on that should be about drummer Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor. As Lemmy told it “He hit everything on the kit in about 2 beats and Larry turned to me and said ‘What a horrible little cunt, he’s perfect.”
There’s only the one TV theme here, but it’s Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts Tank. If the next words in your head aren’t “OK everybody, I think it’s time we blow this scene” are you even alive? Only the theme tune to Monkey comes close and I’m willing to accept no small amount of childhood nostalgia is a factor there.
Dub War’s Strike It blew my mind as a teenager – the mix of jazz, reggae, hip hop and metal stunned me. Though they split far too young, their spirit lives on in singer Benji Webbe’s current act Skindred, who are one of the most ridiculously entertaining live bands I’ve seen. There’s not many support acts who’d enter to the Imperial March and leave to a burst of Nobody Does It Better. The bass in the opening of Under Attack hits like a hammer and the chant of ‘Rock and roll, save my soul’ in Machine speaks to me in a way no religion has ever managed to.
You want some brevity? There’s Napalm Deaths You Suffer, which has the distinction of being the shortest song ever recorded, at roughly 1.13 seconds long. They had something to say and they said it. No mess, no fuss, no fucking about.
Yes, Stairwayto Heaven is there, but it’s Dread not Led Zeppelin. What is this you ask? They cover Zeppelin tunes in a reggae style with an Elvis impersonator on vocals. It’s so stupid an idea it works.
You want riffs? I got em by the truckload. Heaven and Hell’s (AKA Dio era Black Sabbath) Mob Rules is a stand out, with Tony Iommi’s guitar ripping out and Ronnie James Dio’s voice soaring overhead in full sword and sorcery mode. It is one of the highlights of my life that I saw that line up live. For a more meat and potatoes rock and roll, there’s AC/DC’s Riff Raff and TNT, coupled with Airborne’s Back in the Game, whose single minded focus on being AC/DC: The Next Generation has to deserve some sort of award. Breadfan by Budgie is bonkers and has an acoustic interlude that would have fit on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, but holy shit that opening riff is amazing. Metallica’s cover is far from bad either and is where I’d wager most of you know it from.
The stomping late 70s glam drum sound of Iron Maidens Running Free and the spiky aggression of Wrathchild stand against the blood and thunder of the Bruce Dickinson era – the opening drumming on Where Eagles Dare is fucking incredible (I’ve heard it described as a drum kit being thrown down the stairs) and the old school gallop of Death or Glory is positively infectious, in a good way. When they performed Flight of Icarus on their recent tour, they let Dickinson wield a pair of flamethrowers on stage, something so absurd and glorious it’s matched only by the mid 80’s Dio tour where he fought a dragon with an electric sword. I told you he wrote songs that sounded like Dungeons and Dragons, but did you believe me?
Turning to Detroit, we have the MC5’s mission statement Kick Out The Jams, one of the finest live albums out there. You can hear the Stooges evolve from the fuzz tone stoner rock of I Wanna be Your Dog to the hallucinogenic freak out that is 1970 and the full tilt everything’s about to explode feel of Search and Destroy. Someday I’ll sing that at a karaoke event. Be afraid, be very afraid, and not just cause I sing like Dave Lister plays guitar.
Sonic’s Rendevous Band’s immortal City Slang is a song unique in that every version I’ve heard has different lyrics. Radio Birdman’s Aloha Steve and Danno has one of the greatest solos ever put to tape and the Lime Spiders Slave Girl has a groove to it that’s rarely matched. Go for the original and not the Goo Goo Dolls cover. The Bellray’s maximum rock and soul was a revelation to me and it’s a gospel I will happily preach.
I could continue, and if you ask me in person I will, but I really should sleep. I’ll leave you with one last note: Yes, the Cantina Song is one there, because WHY NOT?
It’s not that I’ve not been wanting to write, it’s just the times when my brain has been the most fertile is when I’ve been trying to drift off to sleep, so going to the laptop isn’t always the most sensible thing to do. I should know by now that I’ll never remember things, so I should just get up and write them down regardless.
So, let’s look at what’s been going on, in three easily marked segments.
I’m still alive. Look, it’s not that it was a risk, but there’s days it feels good to state. I’m not in danger or having suicidal thoughts or anything of that ilk, but yes, I’m still here.
I managed to make it down to my sisters wedding, and the speech I gave went well. How well? I spent the rest of the night and a lot of the recovery BBQ the day after fending off compliments on it, to the extent I started to want to say ‘Yes, thanks, the compliments are lovely, but I’m not one of the two people you should really be paying attention to at this function.’ Praise is lovely and does wonders for my ego, but there’s a point when it becomes too much. Introvert life and all that. Yes, I’m aware I’m still talking about the thing, but I put a large part of that down to relief at how well the thing went. Weddings are a lot of stress even without Covid and I wanted to be as little stress as possible. Also, we got to see Nephew again, who is a VERY GOOD BOY.
If you’ve seen my wife since then she has shown you the video she took of it, but for those who haven’t I can sum things up thusly: At no point do I swear, yell ‘By Crom, Ymir and Set!’ or threaten people that if they didn’t pay attention I’d drench this wedding in the blood of it’s guests. Also, despite near every part of my brain screaming at me to, I made the toast to the bride and groom, and not ‘And if you would charge your glasses and… RELEASE THE KRAKEN!‘ My sister is the sensible one out of of the two of us, and she would not have appreciated that.
The pulp game I’m running is going well. I’m still having ideas, casting NPC’s and looking forward to sessions. Most importantly of all, my players seem to be enjoying things. Hell, I’m having thoughts about picking up the Torchwood idea I had a while back for one of my other groups. It’s a little thing, but having the creative part of my brain working again brings so much joy.
I bought a cape. It has purple lining. All three of us who study rapier of a Tuesday bought one. It may have been a way of signalling that we want to learn rapier and cloak, but buying something that makes me happy is something I have no shame about. I still haven’t been able to find a pirate/cavalier hat I like enough that’s in my size. The quest continues…
There’s a new Rivers of London novella out now, and it is paining me to have put it on my birthday wish list rather than having it now. Also, I’m really looking forward to introducing Niece, Almost 13 to the series. Speaking of Niece, I recently added The Court Jester to the list of movies we have to show her, as I really want to see her reaction to the ‘vessel with the pestle’ scene. She adored The Mummy which we recently showed her, so we should be able to get her in front of it without too much bribery, which will likely be required for more Babylon 5.
Every time I book time away from my brain doctor my brain falls to pieces. Guess why I’m mentioning that?
Between falling off the no sugar diet and the new happy pills I’ve put back on most of the weight I’d lost. The days have seemed bleaker at times, and that’s when I’ve traditionally reached for sugar, so yeah. I’m trying to minimize the intake when I do fall off the wagon, but I’m still not happy with it.
I’m heading towards 41 at a terrifying speed. 40 didn’t seem much (Outside of the playlist I made), but I seem to be heading towards… something. Whether mid life crisis, plain old crisis, or something else I’ve no idea.
Having an appointment with a new doctor and working out that my Achilles tendons my be somewhat fucked. Ow. Combined with all the other minor aches and the already existing plantar fasciitis and being on my feet all day for work and well, yeah.
Talking to the new doctor about my brain was raw. They’re doctors, it’s part of the job (And for that I will always respect them), but that first “Here’s my brain” moment is always terrifying.She seemed delighted by the idea of RPG’s though.
The latest Classic Doctor Who box set is out nw in the UK, but JBHiFi says my pre-order will arrive in late May.
The Iron Maidens had to delay their gig again. I completely understand why, but I’m really missing gigs. The sweat, the stench of spilt beer, the exhilaration, the sheer joy that live music brings me, I miss it so damn much.
I worked out that a couple of Sundays back is the first time I’ve been alone in my house, in a minimum 6 months, and likely since the start of Covid. Gods, I’d missed it. I didn’t do anything strange with the time, just relaxed in the silence. And ran around Viking era Britain murdering people. Getting to pet cats in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is a delight.
I’m still getting angry quicker than I’d like. There will always be things to work on I guess?
So yeah, that’s what I’ve been up to. I hope you and yours are well and remain so. Be seeing you…
I am once again licensed to drive. You have been warned.
Outside of that, I’m an exhausted and battered feeling wreck. My emotions are on edge and raw, my brain doctor has increased my dosage by half (45 milligrams up from 30) and although I think I’ve stumbled upon a combination of innersoles that make my feet hurt less, they’re in no way fully healed yet. I managed to badly burn my left middle finger about a week and a half ago, and to add insult to injury, it’s kept me from sword. Also, the special manuka honey band aids I’ve been wearing leave an aroma on my finger and have made me worry about whether that smell is honey or rotting flesh more than once.
As for those pesky emotions, in the past two days I’ve been moved to tears twice, the first by a TV show, the second a piece of music (from a TV show). I often wonder about people who aren’t moved by music, and how hollow their lives must be. Then I remember that it’s OK, because I’m sure there’s things they’re moved by, things that I’m not. Well, I hope they have things that do that for them, it’d be a bleak and cheerless life without them.
There’s also been a lot of ‘Looks at thing, thinks thing would be perfect to a #LARP, then remembers it’s 2020.’ Also, finding a cavalier hat I like in my size isn’t easy. So, I’ve got ideas for if/when Blackpowder and Bloodlines returns and a few “Hey, I could build a character around that piece of kit.” *sigh* Yes, I know games are running, but there’s nothing I’m keen on playing, for reasons I’ve discussed in previous entries. Tabletopgames will have to keep me busy and distracted for the time being.
Now, the pieces that have ripped my heart out. The music in question is Wander My Friends, from the 2000’s era Battlestar Galactica. I could attempt to talk about it, to try to explain why it makes me feel the way it does, to try to capture it’s essence, but it’s easier for me to just play it.
Beautiful isn’t it? I don’t understand a word of the Gaelic, but I almost don’t need to. I sometimes wonder if music holds too great a spell over me, but then I remember how much fun listening to Iron Maiden is and move on with my life. Also, if Netflix do go ahead with the Conan the Barbarian TV show they’re planning, I want Bear McCreary to score it.
As for the TV show: Avatar, The Last Airbender. Season 2, Episode 15, The Tales of Ba Sing Se. If you’ve not seen it, all you know is to brace yourself. If you have seen it, you’ll understand. *Cries again*
It’s not been all tears though. Some good news has happened. Niece, Age 12, has agreed to let me GM a game for her and some friends. I’m going back into my catalogue of games, to look for something special to me and that will work (hopefully) for them. It’ll likely be their first non D&D experience, so there’s some pressure there. What game of mine would work best for this? Three words come to mind – All For One…
It’s my first swashbuckler, and the first game I ran that felt like it really worked and that both players aand GM had equal amounts of fun. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a decade since I ran it. I’m old. In any case, I’ll be hoping to take advantage of a lot of experience since then. Other changes include: 1: Making it an even split 50/50 male and female PC’s. My games have improved since making them less of a sausage fest, in both the stories I can tell, and the stories other people tell about them. 2: Also, because female musketeers are, let’s face it, one of the least historically inaccurate things about my games. 3: Trying to make things flow better. A large chunk of the middle of the module was ‘Ride somewhere, find some information, then ride back.’ At the very least, i want to make the ride back more dramatic.
I’m a bit nervous about it, as I want it to go well. Both in terms of helping to foster the next generation, and for wanting them to have fun. You know, typical GM problems.
First off, while I’m starting to get the hang of the new WordPress, the (lack of) speed that it runs on my tiny laptop makes it infuriating to use. About as infuriating as I’m finding Jedi: Fallen Order to be. It’s beautiful to walk around in, but the sheer number of jumping puzzles, instant death encouters and the distance between save points mean a simple hop, skip and a jump can take far longer than I’d hoped for.
Anyhow, to the point of this entry. Headgear has long been a bane of mine, having a large and odd shaped head. Helmets are a nightmare, I continue to be surprised there’s a fencing mask that will fit me and hats are a constant struggle. And then on the weekend, I saw this.
To say I was struck dumb in awe at such a thing is putting it mildly. True, there’s also this, or a gorgeous tricorn or this hat that seems to promise shade for three. But a purple leather cavalier hat is jsut *chef kiss* And here comes the issue, while I have the money, having sold a bunch of old Warhammer gear, I find myself angsting mightily about spending it. It’s been a long time since I felt like I could spend on this sort of thing, and I’ve more than a bit nervous about pulling the trigger. Well, it’s part cost and part “Where will I actually be able to wear this thing?” (Before you say anything, I’m all but certain my sister would murder me for wearing it to her wedding.)
It’s had me thinking again. Sure, the hat is suitable for Blackpowder and Bloodlines, assuming that runs again, but how many other games would be worthy of such a magnificent piece of headgear? And as such, my brain got to working about a Musketeers themed event. As with many of my ideas, this is brainstorming to keep the brain occupied and ticking over and not indication of an event on the way.
At the outset, it’d be very heavily inspired by the RPG’s Honor + Intrigue and All for One: Regime Diabolique, along with the NZ LARP Musketeers. Further ideas may well be mined or inspired by The Cardinals Blades series of novels and various of the cinematic adaptions of The Three Musketeers. I may pinch an idea or two from the Musketeers games I’ve run at cons, mostly the alternate universe parts. For those who didn’t play those games, I mean stuff like when anarchists tried to infect King Louis XIII with lycanthropy, or when the Duke of Buckingham, driven mad by his lust for the Queen, released a Kraken in the Seine river. You know, regular stuff torn directly from the history books.
What would I want out of this? A chance to dress up and swash my buckle of course! Something different from the usual Arthurian high fantasy LARP for another thing. to try to find a gap in the market, so to speak. Mostly, I want the chance to feel like I’m in a Musketeers film and the hope that the rest of the players and crew would feel the same. It’d likely be a weekender rather than a monthly game. As for kit, I’d want thrust safe swords if possible (It continues to delight me just how much of Italian rapier fencing can be boiled down to “Here is my sword point, kindly run onto it.”) and band or cap guns to represent firearms. As for costume, flamboyant hats and fancy cloaks are always a good start.
If you’ll excuse the purple prose, here’s a rough blurb of sorts: The year is 1637 and Paris is a city in crisis. The nobility dance and make merry, gorging themselves while the peasantry toil and starve. The Kings Musketeers and the Cardinals Guards brawl in the streets, while underneath those streets is said to lurk a Court where miracles, of a sort, are performed and injuries vanish as quickly as an unguarded purse.
France’s enemies besiege her. Spain and England look enviously at French lands, and plot and scheme to conquer her. But those are far from the only threats. Rumours swirl of darksome cults conducting hideous rites, of fearsome beasts lurking in the sewers and of demons manifesting by the light of the full moon.
France is beset by darkness, but it is always darkest before the dawn. What she needs is heroes, men and women willing to risk their lives for love, honour and country.
All for one…
Look, it’s far from my best work. I’m struggling to get across the intended tone of the game, which is far more high action derring do than grim and gritty. But it’s late and I’m trying to get this to a stage where I can hit post and go to bed. I also have no idea what level of magic I’d use, whether NPC only, Hammer Horror style ceremonies for the PC’s to dramatically interrupt or formal wand and sword duels. I may do some further brain storming on this.
How am I? I’m still in the getting used to things phase with my new brain drugs. Getting into a new routine, is starting to come together. The brain is… fuzzy. I’ve noticed the sedative effect quite a bit, not so much on the knock me out level, but there’s been moments when they’ve kicked in and I’m slightly slurring my words and trying not to collapse. Crom only knows what a full strength dose will do to me. It’s been pointed out that my temper has been a bit more hair trigger than normal and while I’m not happy about that, I’m trying to take things in perspective. I’m hoping that’s part of the adjustment period and will smooth out soon.
Things inside the head… aren’t great, despite what’s going on. Because yes, the petty issues still crop up, the minor frustrations still irritate and the general malaise of 2020 weighs heavily on me. (My brain has an amazing knack for turning molehills into mountains.) But I keep on reminding myself that, despite all those things, there is good in my life that’s the result of my actions. That I can do good things, and that I am cared about and above all else, worthwhile. Some days that’s easier than others, but I keep trying. Yeah, there’s still things I’d like to change about myself – my no sugar diet has slipped more than a few times in recent months and not just binging on the no sugar added stuff. I’m not proud, but as I’ve said previously, I knew there would be slip ups along the way. Gotta keep trying.
But there’s also the well, revelation is putting it a bit too high and mighty, that all this has a darker side. That spending all this time with my head in other places is nothing more than a distraction from reality. And yeah, I’ll own up to that good and quick. Look, reality and I, while we get along, we’re never going to be great friends. If looking out the window daydreaming was a sport, I’d be an Olympic champion at it. And the times when I’ve tried to, the brain hasn’t always enjoyed it. Because yes, reality isn’t always a great place to be, let alone in 20 fucking 20. But damnit, I’ll take all the joy I can get right now. I still have the odd thought about becoming a hermit in the woods, but that’s tempered by knowing how that would affect those I care for, and who care about me.
(I haven’t though of that song in well over 20 years till today.)
I’m in a creative spurt, feeling in a good enough place to want to GM a regular game again and by Crom that feels good. Praise from my sword instructors last session had me quipping ‘Woah, tonight’s been great for my ego’ and I’m not joking. I was knackered, but the good kind. I’m not sure how to put it, but rapier may be my weapon of choice, even over longsword. I always thought longsword would be the one, owing to having the most experience with it (and it being the closest thing to a lightsaber), but it seems there’s facets to me I’m still discovering.
It could be the fact that we’re training with steel, or the lovely people in the class or any number of things, but holding one just feels… right. The first sword fight I saw, well the first one that didn’t involve a lightsaber, was the Duel on the Cliffs (Yes, it gets capitals) in The Princess Bride and it may have made even larger an impression on young me than I thought. Plus, rapier allows me to swash my buckle, if you know what I mean, and I’m ALL FOR THAT.
It’s also got me thinking of the next Blackpowder and Bloodlines, assuming it returns (Please?). So, instead of an idiot noble big game hunter, I’ve been brainstorming a grizzled old soldier (Fuck it, the grey in my beard is natural and it’s time to embrace it) or former bodyguard who, in keeping with the theme of our group, has fled the royal court. Perhaps there was some indiscretion on his part, perhaps someone he failed to save, or shouldn’t have slept with (Oh Pax Europa, I hope you run again). Sure, I’d need a stab safe sword and dagger and while Calimacil’s rapiers are stab safe (To my knowledge, unlike those from Epic Armoury) they’re also not cheap. There’s another bonus to this concept: IT’D BE CLOAK AND FANCY CAVALIER HAT TIME PEOPLE!
To switch topics, I’ve mentioned the Game of Rassilon podcast before, and I wish to sing it’s praises again. A recent episode had me damn near weeping with laughter, that being the live show from last Gallifrey One, Valentine of the Daleks. In place of their usual characters, there was the 2nd Doctor, and his companions, Ian Chesterton, Tegan Jovanka, Craig Owen and his son Alfie, aka Stormageddon, aka Warmageddon, aka the Oncoming Stormageddon. It’s a level of ridiculous that reminds me of my con games and it brings me so much joy. My highlight from season 1 was Amelia Earheart using percussive maintenance on a small Hadron Collider, but having Stormageddon aged up to a teenager thanks to being near the Doctor regenerating (Albeit with the aid of a lot of story points) was damn close.
I know actual play podcasts aren’t everyone’s thing, but I urge you to give it a shot. (Also, it’s a lot shorter than Critical Role) Secondly, there’s a 2 part arc in the second season where the Doctor and her companions (Along with Staff Sergeant Puppers, a canine member of UNIT and a VERY GOOD BOY) face down a sort of sapient depression and well, it gave me ALL THE FEELS, as the kids say. It was rough to listen to, but handled wonderfully. Were it possible, I would hug them all, but as I can’t I thanked them on Twitter. We do what we can, and thanking people who’s work I love seems a good use for it.
To get serious for a bit, life isn’t easy, nor is admitting you need help. I know I’ve talked about this before, but if you’re going through something, then please, tell someone. Talking may feel like one of the hardest things you can do, but it is worth it. It took me a long time to admit that I had an issue, and longer to start taking steps to deal with it in a worthwhile fashion. Look, I have a lot of regrets. Several lifetimes of them all rattling around the head. But taking that step towards therapy is not one of them. Taking so long to is, but then I remember that I took that step and I don’t feel as bad.
Not sure how to start this, so here goes. My week started with something wonderful, as I saw a kid pretending a stick was a lightsaber, and humming Duel of the Fates to boot. I managed to stop before grabbing a stick for myself and challenging him, as that would have been well, awkward and inappropriate. I was sorely tempted to congratulate him though. I also started my new meds on Friday. The brain hasn’t been messed with too much yet, but I’m getting knocked about (metaphorically speaking) trying to wake up in the mornings. Nothing new there. I knew the pills would knock me out, at least that’s one of the side effects listed, but the adjustment period so far has been… interesting. I’m hoping things settle soon.
I bouted for the first time last week at rapier, and while I was far from great, according to the others I’m parrying really well. I just need to remember to attack as well. Mostly I was distracted by that half second of “Fuck me, that parry worked!” and only then does the brain remind me to shove my sword in my opponents face. My footwork also needs work, but I already knew that. Either way, something in my fencing is working well, and I’m really pleased with that. Showing improvement means a lot to me.
On to gaming news: one of the games I play in will be winding up, so I’m getting ready to pitch ideas to the rest of the group. It’s welcome that I’m in that frame of mind to try to run a regular game again, given the brain goblins about how my last couple of attempts have gone. It’s equally lovely that the rest of the group seem OK with me pitching, that they’re willing to have me as GM again. Means a lot. I’m now back in the position of of ‘I have ideas, I have adventure seeds, but no fucking idea how to convert that into a campaign.’ At the very least, I have a better idea and more planning work done at this point than previously, so that’s something.
I’m also suffering through having two absolutely mind blowing game ideas that I need to keep my trap shut about. I’ve learned from past mistakes, in that in the old times I’d have spilled the beans and either not run them, or had massive demand and then botched them. Keeping in under my hat means I can work on it more, and it’ll hopefully be as good as I imagine it. As for the ideas themselves, one was my wife’s, and ones half mine, half hers I believe. She makes my games better and I can’t thank her enough for that. I’m sure I could set her up as an adventure coach if she wanted.
As for the game’s themselves, I’ll spare you the full scale pitch, but here’s the short versions.
Aliens exists, and it’s your job to hunt them down. Some to capture, some to give a stern talking to. You may be wearing a trench coat or have a knack for posing moodily on a rooftop. The plan to run it is as more alien whackiness (The Corsair comes to town, and demands you take them out for drinks!), with the odd bit of alien horror. To put it this way, I’ve no plans to run Countrycide or Children of Earth.
The year is 1937, America is broken apart into smaller nations and you’re part of the nation of Hollywood’s newest militia squadron. Dramatic derring do, swashbuckling in the skies, and you’re on a highway to the danger zone! (I still haven’t found a big band cover of that song, but I should probably watch the film) Also, Errol Flynn will cameo at some point.
1960’s espionage. It’s our world, but different. How so? Well, last year a joint French and Japanese operation sent a rocket to the moon. The PC’s would be a mix of people, from scoundrels, spies and who knows, who may be working for a mysterious ministry, or for mutual gain. During play, they stumble across a world shattering/conquering conspiracy that they have to thwart! In short, globe trotting action adventure that fits in a BBC studio or parts of England redressed to look foreign.
This will be the one that takes the longest to appear, as the rulebook was only Kickstarted this year and has been Covid delayed.
So, that’s what I’m working on. There’s a common thread, in that I want each of them to be fun. As I’ve stated previously, I like a large element of fun in my events, I don’t really do the grim and intense so much. You know, there’s reasons why I’m not running anything cyberpunk or post apocalyptic…