I seem to have a reputation…

Been a while. Things continue to be up and down – one sword event happened, the second got cancelled by lock down. It’s the sensible decision, but I still miss it. I really like sword-fighting, and really like talking to people about sword-fighting. It brings me joy – a recent lesson where I had my teacher to myself had him complaining about the speed of my dagger work, in that I was keeping his sword away most of the time. Needless to say, that night did wonders for my ego. The following week didn’t match things in terms of my skills, but what is consistency? Either way, swords are awesome and more people should try it.

So, that wedding where I as going to dress as a wizard at? Well, that’s coming soon and I still haven’t chosen an outfit yet. It’s my usual paralysis of ideas. On that, I’ve also agreed to speak at it, and that’s another thing to write. There’s no small pressure on it (From me, not from the happy couple) , and not just cause I now seem to have a reputation for speaking at weddings. (I told my wife that and she looked around and said “I don’t know what you mean…”) I recently had the groom refer to me as the ‘Security Wizard’ (to help settle any possible disputes about the seating) and I can’t overstate just how happy that made me.

The writing on my Pheno game is continuing, and slowly gaining speed. This is good, as the con is getting ever closer. I’ve been fiddling with the blurb most of the evening, and while I’m mostly happy with it (Thanks to my wife’s advice) I’m not suite 100% happy with it. I mean, I rarely am with blurbs, but that seems to be the way with my games. The closer we get to the con, the more my brain is (finally) starting to kick into writing gear, which is lovely and MUCH NEEDED.

Getting back to LARP, I’m still having ideas for that Cold War game. Again, I’d like it if I could concentrate on the things I should be writing now, but I’ve met my brain and it doesn’t work that way. So, the idea is a faction/national approach to things, which might make sense. Here’s the ideas:
AMERICANS: The US doesn’t have the history of Britain (At least the white people don’t), or the peoples of Russia, but what they do have is money. So, if there’s a problem they have, they are more than willing to throw money at it, whether it’s R&D or encouraging defectors. If there’s a problem facing them, it’s a good bet the US will try to spend their way out of it.
BRITAIN: The English have a proud heritage, stiff upper lip and all that. They see themselves as a proud and unflappable people, and find solace in their rituals (Tea anyone?) and traditions. This means they have something of en existing magical tradition, and have historical knowledge to back it up. True, most modern folks have no idea it’s there, but that’s what PC’s will soon discover.
RUSSIA: The lands of Mother Russia are vast, and her people are many. They are stubborn, and willing to throw themselves into the fight, albeit sometimes with the threat of death from their own commanders. This means, they have numbers on their side, and will clog the battlefield with their dead. So, you think you’ve stopped one KGB combat team? Good news, more will soon be on the way.

As always, hopefully putting this down somewhere will enable me to move on to the things I should be doing. Also, Fun Fact: every time I try to watch the BBC Tinker, Tailor, I just get lost in listening to Alec Guiness.

Turning to other LARPS, I haven’t managed to make it to Midgard yet. I’m mostly set on a character, that being a member of local law enforcement. Also, a wizard. Now, there’s a temptation to go full bounty hunter Man with No Name, but I’m easily able to put that aside. First off, mysterious loners are dull. You may look cool with your cloak and mask, but you’ll spend the event walking around not doing much. LARP is a social activity, so embrace that. I’m mostly fiddling with various character builds (This one more skills than spells, whereas this one I can sneak attack!) and costume. Yes, costume. Some people build their characters around abilities, I build mine around costume. (I have zero shame about this.) I think I’ve found a tunic I like, I’ve got some bracers I can use and I get to wear my wedding boots again. I’m mostly having issues deciding on accessories and layers of clothing. I want some sort of cloak, because why not, but one that I can get the wand out of the holster (Ooo-er!) with minimal fuss. The quest continues…

Anyhow, the sedative on my brain pills has kicked in, so time for bed. Be seeing you…

“Sometimes it’s hard to like yourself…

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.

“Good thinking 99!”

Hello again!

First off, there’s two things I mean to include in the last post. The first will be right here, the second I’ll get to later. As happens whenever I watch anything Transformers related, I’m reminded of a line I saw on RPG.Net many years ago, that was as true then as it is now.

“I struggle to understand people who say they’d kill for a religion, but then I remember that if Optimus Prime asked me to kill someone they’re a dead man.”

It’s a toss up between Prime and Luke Skywalker as to who was the defining figure of my childhood, but if either of them asked me to do something heinous, then I’d likely do so without question. I mean, if they’ve asked me to, who am I to refuse?

Moving on, thanks to some lovely encouragement from friends (You know who you are!) I have further thoughts on the Cold War magic game idea. I’d like my brain to be concentrating on Minbari politics for my Babylon 5 game, but I’ve met my brain. I like the title A Colder War, even though that was used for a series of freeforms in Sydney many years back. Either way, it’s a placeholder. So, what’s with the idea, why has it gripped me so? I’m not sure. I mean, I like James Bond films and I like wizards, so why not mash the two together? It’s also a relatively modern era game, which would provide a contrast to the fantasy games running in my area.

I have this image that popped into my head of a spy, stolen documents in his briefcase, being tailed through a city. he tries and fails to dodge them, and is chased into a back alley. Steeling himself, he reaches inside his jacket for a weapon, but instead of a gun he draws a wand. Muttering something in quasi-Latin a dark blue glow emanates from the tip of the wand, and he steps out to face his pursuers.

So yes, that’s kind of what sparked this.

And here’s the second thing I meant to include. So, with a lot of magical conspiracy type games, the Cthulhu Mythos looms very large. And while I like the idea of the Mythos, so to speak, I’m of the view that it’s a level of bleak that I’m not prepared to go to. I bloody love the Cthulhu Live: Delta Green sourcebook (It’s chapters on tradecraft and running interrogations are fantastic, if a little disturbing, but the setting is far too horrific for my taste as a GM. I’ve been racking my brain trying to explain where my comfort zone is, and the best example that comes to mind is Ghostbusters. There’s some scares, some laughs and the monster is defeated with maybe some splatter – it’s a style of game I can see myself running. And more importantly, I think it’ll be something that I’m happy to write and run. I lost a *lot* of my taste for dystopia around November 2016 and I’m in no rush to get it back.

With some brainstorming advice from my wife, I think I have a working draft for a pair of prelude games.

GAME 1: THE EAST: Something has been awoken. Could be an earthquake, could be a nuclear test, but something has cracked open that SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN. It could be related to Baba Yaga, as that’s the only bit of Russian folklore I know. Mythology is weird. Either way, there’s a tiny government department, established by Stalin to find stuff the Nazis wanted to steal, that’s about to get a whole lot of attention. Sure, most people ignore said department, or would close it, but since Stalin ordered it open they’re too terrified to touch it. Just because he’s dead doesn’t mean squat. Either way, magic is coming back and shit’s about to get weird. What do you do?

GAME 2: THE WEST. Reports are sketchy, but something big has happened in Russia. There’s no concrete details, but something strange is most definitely in their neighborhood. There’s a tiny, underfunded and mostly overlooked agency, established during WW2 (That is NOT Delta Green) to look at the odd and unexplained that are about to attract a whole lot of attention. Magic, real freaking magic, has awoken. The United States thought the A-bomb was the biggest weapon they had. Well, not any more.

So yeah, that’s something. What follows is a mix of more questions and brainstorming down with my wife (She who is all wise and makes my games better).

So, something has happened to reawaken magic in the world? My wife’s ideas was a nuclear test has cracked open something, which is a better idea than my thought of *waves in the general direction of an Age of Aquarius sign.* There’s that 60’s nuclear paranoia that runs through a lot of pop culture (Hello, Daleks!) and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought of trying to run something inspired by The Prisoner in this setting. Sure, the idea of taking over a scout camp for a weekend and turning into The Village is a tad too insane, or ambitious, but I love the idea.

The big questions rattling round my head are as follows:
What does magic actually do? The thought occurs that boundaries are not so much required, but having a rough idea of what can be done sets a framework for PC’s to work with.
How is it harnessed? Do practitioners shout something Latin-esque and point, do they have to sacrifice something (Blood, life etc) or a Vancian spells per day system?
Magic is coming back, but what about magical beings? Ghosts, goblins, Elves etc? I mean, I hadn’t thought of going full Goblinization ala Shadowrun, but things lurking in the forests adds some flavour at least, and expands the setting somewhat. That may be something for further on down the line – You’ve bartered peace deals between nuclear armed superpowers, but have you ever dealt with a dragon?
I want heroes on both sides – the idea of the Soviets being all the bad guys is off the table. I’m keen for uneasy alliances and people who could be friends facing off. “The enemy of my enemy is still my enemy” and all that. The idea of a large scale game where both sides must unite or be destroyed is calling to me, but who’s to say when the post victory backstabbing will begin?

Time to hit post and go to sleep. Therapy tomorrow. Good night all, be seeing you…

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Mage…

Rich Man, Poor Man, Spellslinger, Thief?

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.

Good night all. Be seeing you.

“A short life and a merry one says I”

Well, session 2 of Crimson Skies was on Thursday and it went… OK. I had something of an attack of nerves through the session, but managed to keep things relatively on track. Anyhow, my PC’s were entered into an air race by their patron, though he’d neglected to mention that till the morning of the race itself. Some of the other contestants didn’t say much, they made friends with one and an enemy of another, with mockery so delightful it’s ensured his return as a recurring problem. The race itself went well, and Savage Worlds chase mechanic is wonderful, with the 3 PC’s having the podium to themselves. I hadn’t been certain on the PC’s winning, but true to form my dice crippled the opposition. The session ended with them going out for dinner and drinks with Errol Flynn, and there’s nothing that could possibly go wrong there.

I’ve been continuing thoughts on 7th Sea. I’m still short of a definitive character idea, but ideas continue to flow. Less character ideas, and more bits of costume that I could build a character around. Listening again to The Lies of Locke Lamora has certainly turned my ideas to a more rougish bent (As well as being tempted to buy a pair of throwing hatchets to conceal inside a coat), and near as I can tell that’s part of the campaigns themes. I also picked up S4 of Black Sails, and while I’m continuing to enjoy the show, the sense of impending doom grows ever stronger the closer I get to it’s end.

As for ostume, hopefully you can see my problem? There’s a nice coat, or perhaps this? I’m certainly planning on buying a pair of these, as they’re useful for pirate events and The Hobbits Hoedown, should that ever run again. Perhaps a pauldron much like the ones in the recent BBC Musketeers TV show? I am settled on one thing thought – I want a minimum of black and red in my outfit. I can’t think to any reason why, other than wanting some variety. Blues, maybe green, something different than the stereotype. I can certainly kit myself out in black and scarlet from kit I already own, but I’m feeling the need for something different for this game.

Right. It’s late and the sedative on my meds has kcked in. Night all. sleep well, I’ll most likely kill you in the moring

Well, that went well…

Stupid burning hell pit of a country. Summer. *Sweats heavily*

Outside of the heat, things have been, improving. The first session of Crimson Skies went pretty well. By well, I mean I have some homework on the vehicle and chase rules, but we all knew that would happen. 3 out of the 5 PC’s (2 were absent owing to illness) have been introduced to the press and shot down some pirates. Things with the pirates went better than with the press. In any case, they all survived, I only had a couple of “Whoops, let me rewind that” moments and the PC’s captured 3 pirates and their planes. Also, I remembered to make notes about it, even down to the captured pirates names.

Above all, I’m feeling good about it. I have players (bless them) that seem keen and engaged with the approach I’m bringing to things, and I have ideas. And not just ideas, but actual working ideas that I’m putting into future adventures. It seems as if I’m learning from past mistakes and this is… new? Welcome? I’m not claiming victory or anything yet, but I think I might have a shot at this not falling apart like past campaigns I’ve tried. Having my wife advising me is also helping to an immense degree – I can’t give her enough praise for her help. I’m at that delightful stage where I have enough plots to start seeding that I’m having to pick and choose, and there’s a couple of them that it’s almost causing physical pain to keep under my hat. And because I’m a generous GM, I’ll drop a 2 word hint at one: Zeppelin Casino.

Turning back to LARP, the 7th Sea game that’s incoming. I’m still racking my brain to think of seafaring PC’s, and nothings coming. It’s confusing, as seafaring swashbuckling is very much my jam – but there’s this block that I can’t get past. I have an idea, add water and then it stops. Is this some sort of RPG Maturity/mid life crisis, I don’t fuckin’ know. I seem to have hit the stage where it’s not enough to play something, but I need to have goals and plans. That dressing fancy is not enough for me any more. Huh.

The two most developed PC’s (Yes, one of them was in my last post but I’ve had more thoughts on it since then)

1: Ussuran (Think Dark Ages Rus) – Merchant and former soldier who discovered that commerce is far safer than mercenary work. A bit Herger the Joyous, some BRIAN BLESSED and a pinch of Londo Mollari, cause that’s every accent I do. I have a rough speech pattern in my head for the character, but can’t stick the accent to save my life. This amused my wife no end earlier this evenings a bit more
2: Montaigne (France) or Vodacce (Italy) – Lazy gentleman by day, by night burglar by discreet appointment. Less ‘steal from the rich and give to the poor’ and more ‘You need your wife’s necklace, that you lost in a card game, back from Baron Reinhardt’s vault? Sure, but it’ll cost you.’ (Part of this PC was me remembering I have a set of LARP Thieves Tools I’ve not used in a game yet.)

Perfectly servicable characters yes, but again, I don’t know if they’ll fit the campaign. Must talk with the orgs.

And that’s me for the night. I need a shower and some sleep. Be seeing you…

WITNESS ME

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.

That’s enough for tonight. Be seeing you.

Huh.

Hello there… (“General Kenobi.”)

Life has not… been wonderful of late. OK, it’s not been too bad, all things considered, but there’s certainly been a desire for distractions of late, given the state of the news. My feet continue to ache (planar facitis is a bastard of a thing) and while I’m trying to treat them, most nights I just get home and collapse. Some days they hurt more than others. I did make a long term decision as well! I’ve been recycling cans and bottles from work and the plan is to put that cash towards a rapier. Long term goal but it’s good to have them. Then comes the tricky decision, of what sort do I buy? Most of the training ones I’ve seen are cup hilt, but the swept hilt is my preferred style. Either way, I think I know what I’ll call her – Milady.

I’ve been re-reading The Cardinals Blades series by Pierre Pevel which can be summed up as Renaissance France, but with Dragons. Outside that, I got a bunch of books on Greek myth on the weekend and have been playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, or as I’ve been calling it This. Is. Spaaarrrrta!

That probably works better if you imagine Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa yelling it.

Anyhow, sailing around, murdering Spartans, seducing people and chatting with Herodotus is tremendous fun. It’s reminded me of wanting to LARP in the setting, but I want to LARP in a lot of settings. I mean, I get the same feeling whenever I watch Rome, but can you blame me?

In times of stress, ask yourself, what would Titus Pullo do?

As with many of my ideas, it’s little more than a vague interest, as opposed to actual plans. We all know that’s how I roll. But what I am set on is wanting to play something that’s not set in something resembling medieval Europe. Something resembling Renaissance Europe may not seem like much of a change, but it’s a start. Baby steps. I just want something different than the regular cliches, you know? I want Orcs that aren’t barbarians, cultures that aren’t based on 19th century racism, and overall, something different. I have trouble articulating exactly what I’m after, but I think I know what I don’t want, if that makes sense.

Articles like this and this were a good start, but it’s the rewrite of The Three Musketeers I helped kickstart that really did something to me. An easy way would have been to change a few peoples genders and keep things as is otherwise. Nope. The updates have gone into why the changes have been made and opened my eyes a bit. I’m a white guy from Sydney, Australia, there’s a lot of other perspectives I miss. It’s good to see from other eyes.

I love the old cliches – fur clad barbarians, noble knights etc. I bloody love REH’s work, but I’m also the first to acknowledge that he’s problematic as fuck. I’m not advocating destroying everything and starting anew, I’m not attacking your favorite game or claiming this is the “One True Way” to run games from now on. What you do in your games is between you and your players and I hope you’re all enjoying themselves.

But it’s had me thinking about my past work and potential future work, and how I can make that more inclusive and welcoming. I’ve been trying to write my con games with a 50/50 male female split and that’s had an immediate effect, I like to think a good one. And I want to keep going with that. Sure, virtually everyone I LARP with it a white person, but the more options we include and inclusive we are, surely the better things will be?

There is, however, the potential for a swashbuckling game to happen soon and I am ALL FOR THIS. I need escapism in my games, especially now, and that style of event also plays in to my knack for choosing characters based on costume rather than anything else. I just want to dress up and look fancy, is that a crime?

#bucketlist

Getting back to the Musketeers ideas, The Cardinals Blades has had me pondering campaign/adventure ideas. So, you’ve the traditional rivalry between the Musketeers and the Cardinals Guards. Add to that the tension between France and Spain, along with the threat of the Black Claw, a secret society bent on ensuring the rule of Dragons. That group has it’s own issues though, with tension between the Spanish and French chapters. That’s a solid start for tensions and intrigue.

I mean, with that we’ve got the possibility for intercepting secret letters, discovering friends and lovers are cultists, desperate struggles against impossible odds and dark ceremonies lit only by moonlight and strange black candles, burning with a weird green flame… I mean, what good is cultists having a ceremony if players aren’t there to burst in dramatically?

As to what’s next? I don’t know. I mean, regardless of interest I’m likely to keep writing this stuff. It’s a much needed creative outlet. But if you’d like to join in the fun and potentially turn this into something?

Fire up the What If? Machine!

What if, and hear me out here, the Cardinal wasn’t the villain?

“Richeliu, wasn’t he the bad guy?”
“No, no, no, quite the opposite. Alexandre Dumas has a lot to answer for. Tiresome man, completely ignored the notes I gave him on his first draft.”
Doctor Who: The Church and the Crown.

Whatever you can say about the real Armand Jean du Plessis, Duke of Richeliu (I’ve a biography of him I should finish reading one of these days) the title and name does conjure quite a distinctive image. You only have to look at some of the men who’ve played him over the years to see to that. The list includes such noted thespians as Peter Capaldi, Vincent Price, Tim Curry, Christoph Waltz and Charlton Heston. That’s no small amount of scenery chewed or moustaches twirled there. Heck, Vincent Price’s Richeliu happens to pet a cat, predating Ernst Stavro Blofeld by many a year.

It’s an image known in popular culture, one that far obscures the real man himself. The name conjures an image of a tall figure, frequently clad in yards of elegant red satin, a scowl or a devilish grin on his lips as he schemes and plots. Sometimes foiled, but rarely beaten, he lurks in the shadows, an ever present foe. He rarely gets his hands dirty personally, preferring to work through agents such as the Comte de Rochefort and Milady DeWinter, or the regiment of his guards whose fierce rivalry with the King’s Musketeers is legendary.

“Enemies? I have no enemies but those of France.”

The image of a man who wants the best for France, but has other methods about doing so, has been somewhat eclipsed by the figure of a Machiavellian chess master gleefully manipulating all around him in a mad lust for power and influence. Heck, in the RPG All for One: Regime Diabolique he was host to a demon! It’s all but expected that he’ll be the villain of the piece, but what if things were changed? Furthermore, in most portrayals of Louis XIII he’s varying shades of naive, arrogant and an overly indulged man-child, and it could be said that the Musketeers blind loyalty to him and loathing of the Cardinal is far from what France needs. That blindly indulging Louis’s whims rather than attempting to moderate him and steer him towards a more sensible path does more damage.to France than a thousand of the Cardinal’s plots ever could.

It takes a good man to prevent a catastrophe, Milady, and a great man to make use of one.”

What if the Cardinal is the one who’s actually working for France and someone else is undermining his efforts? It could be the King’s incompetence, perhaps Captain Treville of the Musketeers (That could really twist the knife), or another figure altogether? They could be Spanish or British agents, perhaps the Duke of Buckingham? I did use the Duke as an antagonist in a series of games a few years back, along with the 2011 film version. Of course, there’s a small group of my players that would immediately shout “It’s the Mole Men!”, but that is another story. ..

“All for One. And more for me.”

To add explanation to all this: I haven’t been able to put that Musketeers game to bed yet and this was the latest iteration of that. I’d been bouncing ideas around trying to think of something that would set this potential game apart, outside of the whole ‘monsters and magic exist’ part of things. And the more that I’ve been musing over this today, the more I like it. That’s not to say that the Cardinal would be a hero, far from it. But I’m really liking the idea that in this incarnation he wouldn’t be the source of all villainy as he is frequently portrayed. The characters may think that, as may many of the Musketeers, but that gives us the chance to carve a new legend, to set the players against new foes. I’d like to think that this will be the last I work on this, but as we’ve seen, there’s clearly some more life in this idea…

Be seeing you…

Some more brainstorming

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.

But now, to bed. Be seeing you.