*blows dust off* *coughs*

Been a while. I’d like to say I’ve been off doing stuff, having amazing adventures and what not, but I’ve mostly been in a brutal depressive funk. Now, it’s not been all bad. There’s been some delightful stuff in that time – I went to my first live concert in 3 years and holy crap I was feeling out of shape the next day. I wasn’t even going at it that hard. Lawnmower Deth’s Into the Pit has never felt so appropriate.

Speaking of things I’ve badly missed, I spent the long weekend at a LARP, and while there were parts I had issues with (Not in a bad way, more a me being tired and cranky kind of way), spending the Saturday night sitting around a fire and swapping stories while wearing a cloak, I damn near wept. I’d missed that so much. That game has ended now, and will be replaced by a fantasy post apocalypse game. Hmmm. I’m still planning on going, but I’d be lying if I said I was keen on the post-apoc angle. I like escapism in my entertainment, more so in times such as these. I still haven’t found a LARP that’s running near me that will let me buckle my swash to a satisfactory degree, and while I know of two games that are currently running, one’s a battle game and I had a bad first experience at the other that soured me on it. Lest you think I’m warning you off it, I’m told by friends who attend the admin team has almost completely changed, as has the atmosphere, so please don’t let me stop you. I have no interest in stomping on anyone’s fun.

Speaking of rock and roll, some Googling brought about a wonderful blast from the past. I’ve spoken in the past about a Datsun’s gig, where the normally 6 minute Freeze Sucker became a near 15 minute epic. I NOW HAVE VIDEO. Thanks to a kind soul with a YouTube account, 23 year old me is somewhere down at the front, skinny, barely bearded (Yes, it was a long time ago) and flailing around with a grin on his face a mile wide. I kinda lost touch with the Datsuns after that album, as their second one seemed to be writing songs as opposed to a jam session that was recorded, which was my take on their debut. That’s not a bad thing mind you – look at the difference in the Saints from I’m Stranded to Eternally Yours. While Nights in Venice has that full tilt everything’s about to melt down energy, Chris Bailey’s sneer of “It’s all so funny, I can’t laugh” on This Perfect Day is well, perfect and Orstralia deserves to be a national anthem.

Gaming continues to bring joy. Bombshells has added a new player, one of my wife’s work friends, and she’s fitted in seamlessly. Case in point, they were pursuing someone through a crowded park, and she proceeded to grab a picnic basket and hurl it at the fleeing suspect. She then immediately apologised to the couple who’s picnic she interrupted. Her character is Canadian after all. But on the flipside, I have players keen for Troubleshooters, but I keep staring at blank pages. To add to that, my Babylon 5 freeform has been accepted to Pheno in October, and I’m hoping third time’s the charm, both for the convention running and for me actually finishing the damn thing.

Kenobi continues to be wonderful, both to the nostalgia loving parts of my brain (Yes, I do have other parts to my brain, though my wife may disagree with that. To her credit, she continually tries to get me interested in things younger than I am, in the hope I’ll outlive more of them) and the part that is loving watching Ewan McGregor. For all I may mock the overly twirly moments, his lightsaber technique is gorgeous. Also, I hasped with delight at seeing Indira Varma, leading to my wife asking what that was about. At the end of the episode I explained, only to be met with a stern, “Yes, I know who she is, it’s hard not to forget her from Rome“, and while I’m mangling her exact words to remain spoiler free, YOU SHOULD HAVE WATCHED ROME BY NOW. I first met a friend when she was wearing a “What would Titus Pullo do?” shirt. Some of the people who asked were surprised by the sweary response. Can’t please everyone.

That’s enough for tonight. Be seeing you.

I lack self control.

What’s been going on?

I had last week off work, resting and getting stuff done around the house. It’s been, I’ll say, not bad for my brain, and I found a couple of shirts and a tunic I thought I’d lost long ago. Let that be a lesson to me to better organise my wardrobe in future, a lesson I will completely forget by oh, Thursday. Barely sleeping some nights didn’t help things, but I’m willing to accept that my lack of self control and access to Wookiepedia are mostly to blame for that. Looking at pictures from Swordcraft Quest and Weekend Warrior has both made me curse Covid anew and reminded me of how much I miss getting dressed up and trying to thwack someone with a rubber sword. Battle games aren’t my thing, but the longer I go without, the more I want something to get my LARP fix. Sword is back soon, which helps immensely, and we might even be at rapier and cloak this term! I just want to SWASH ALL THE BUCKLES, and yes, I’d be keen to do some sword and bucker at some point. Too many sword styles, and not enough time.

Some friends have floated the idea of going to the next Quest in a convoy, and I’m all for that. Not just cause of the ‘sleeping in campervans rather than tents’ but that certainly helps. I’m not as keen on the Warhammer Fantasy setting as I used to be, and my old Army books are long since sold (Save the 4th Edition Undead book, cause the flavour text in that one is stunning), but there’s enough around that getting back up to speed shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve been bouncing round ideas (Not all of them terrible), and trying to remember what kit I have that I can use. I should probably drag it all out of the cupboard this weekend, if only to help me remember what I’ve got. It feels good to have something to look forward to again.

It’s also taken me back to the stash of game ideas stashed on my Google Drive. My issues with actually finishing things continue to plague me. Ideas, I’m fantastic at. But finishing the bloody things? As frustrating as it is, as as much as I want to try to, I’m coherent enough to know I’m not in the headspace for that right now. It’s also been pointed out my concentration has been dipping of late, and that adds to the frustration. An ADHD test may be in my future, and that’s not a bad thing. At the very least I need to rinse my left ear out with warm water, as the hum in it has been louder than normal the last couple of days and it feels blocked. Tinnitus is no joke kiddies.

There has been other things to look forward to though. Bombshells is still going well and while I’m still shaky as hell on the rules, my players continue to enjoy things, and that, that means a lot. It’s why I run the game, really. Outside that, there’s been jokes about how at my 42nd birthday do I make guests sit through the Hitchhikers TV series? I do have a shiny newly restored copy and since going drinking in a bathrobe and towel (As a dear friend did at his 42nd) isn’t really my thing… On the other hand, The Four Musketeers will be screened, as Three went down so well last year, a fact that still sparks joy. I adore that film beyond all measure, and having a bunch of the people I care about enjoy it as well, it makes me feel all happy inside. If there’s a tie breaker we may just put on The Mummy with Brendan Fraser’s commentary again, which if you’ve not seen, what are you doing with your life? Yes, I talk about that commentary a lot, but only because it’s SO DAMN JOYOUS.

I had planned to write something else, mostly on Australian rock bands you may have not heard of, but again, swinging a sword and my mental woes overtake things. I wanted to talk about how Aloha Steve and Danno changed my life, how Alone With You makes me weep, or how The Supernova That Never Quits is so good a song it almost put me off listening to the rest of the Powder Monkeys discography for fear nothing could be as good. Maybe even my 20 year plus quest to work what the hell Man With Golden Helmet is actually about. I’ll try to make sure that’s my next post. I’ve started making a playlist for it after all!

Be seeing you…

We wear leather! We wear spikes! We rule the night!

Inspiration strikes in strange places. I made an offhand joke about a theme for the Christmas party my house traditionally hosts, then 30 minutes WiFi access later I had 6 and a half hours of music ready to go. At the time of writing It’s been less than a week and that list is over 9 hours now and continues to grow. There’s a lot of power metal in said list and I make zero apologies for that. Obviously, if this became a Christmas party playlist, I’d likely trim some of the heavier, gruntier type material, though I maintain the Finnish singing disco breakdown (Yes, you read that right) in the middle of Ensiferum’s Two of Spades is fucking glorious and I will hear nothing against it and the intro to Grave Digger’s Rebellion, who are a German band singing about Scottish history BTW, makes me want to stand on a mountain in a rainstorm dramatically holding a sword in the air. Yes, there’s a lot of things that make me want to do that – what’s your point?

If the title wasn’t enough, a casual scroll should reveal what the theme is. Was there a reason for this? Not really no. I made a joke, 20 seconds later started compiling songs in my head and the rest was, as they say, history. I just like making playlists. Introducing people to music makes me happy. and I’ve stumbled across a few new bands doing so. My wife has a rule that I’m only allowed to like bands with members younger than I am and that’s trickier than you’d think. Where am I going with this? Well, when compiling this I had an Idea, and dear readers, you should know by now how dangerous those can be. For you amusement/horror (delete as appropriate), I present some early notes on what I’m calling POWER METAL: THE LARP, aka THROUGH THE FIRE AND FLAMES.

The basic idea was to take all those stupid and over the top heavy metal cliches, and turn it into a LARP. I’ve had worse ideas. I’ve had worse ideas that people still ask me for sequels to. I got as far as writing a blurb for Two Fair, Two Balanced a while back. Some day I might even publish it. So, the general theme is heavy mithril, but with everything turned up to 11. I’m seeing it as a one-shot weekender, as there may be too much stuff for a day game, and I want the final showdown to be at night. It’s more dramatic that way, and we get to have a post game debrief/singalong around a bonfire.

Where are we? Some Tolkien-esque land, where HEROES ARE MIGHTY. Elves live in the woods, Dwarves dig holes and adventurers stumble across ancient tombs full of monsters and treasure every day of the week, because WHY NOT? Wizards lurk MYSTERIOUSLY in the corners of taverns, or cast bizarre spells in NOT AT ALL PHALLIC TOWERS. What sort of person crosses an owl with a bear anyway?

How do things start? Well, the EVIL WIZARD OF DOOM has just beat the shit out of OUR MIGHTY HEROES, and after taking time to explain his evil plan to them, teleports the fuck away to his MOUNTAIN FORTRESS OF DOOM to prepare for the ASTRAL ALINGMENT that’ll give him enough power to CONQUER THE WORLD or something. Wizards, am I right? Our heroes must pick themselves up, go forth on quests to FIND OUT STUFF THEY NEED TO KNOW and it ends with a FINAL SHOWDOWN between our heroes and the WIZARD.

Said information gathering quests could include:
Finding an ancient hermit who has MIGHTY ARCANE POWER and requires a quest to teach that to people. That quest might involve baking something for him, I dunno, maybe he’s just lonely?
Infiltrating a cult ceremony. I’m gonna need a bulk lot of cultist robes and masks, as wearing a mask automatically disguises you, until you break role. If it works in bad movies, it works here. Actually, that rule works for almost every game I’ve ever run.
Fighting some sort of massive monster that guards an ANCIENT WEAPON that can help kill the WIZARD.
Can you make your way through the DARK FOREST OF EVIL to find a magical thing without disturbing the DROPBEARS? (Why Dropbears? I was writing a post apoc game before Brexit/Trump and an actual apocalypse got too close for comfort, but the idea of monster crew in cheap as shit koala onesies stained with blood and gore makes me far happier than it should. Also, angry koala noises are FUCKING TERRIFYING)

Some stylistic choice ideas follow:
Enemies attack you one at a time, just like in the movies! Combat is suitably over the top, with giant swings, grunts of effort and all that stuff that would get you killed in an actual sword fight, but looks awesome on VHS in 1986. Really, that’s the entire aesthetic for this thing.
Armour isn’t based on how much of you it covers, but on how cool it looks. There may well be extra spikes, giant pauldrons and all sorts of silliness. This is not a game for subtlety or historical accuracy or ANY OF THAT REALISM. If at least half the players aren’t wearing foam muscle shirts as part of their costumes something is VERY fucking wrong.
Magical attacks are shouted, with a call sign indicating what sort of spell is being cast. For example, “By the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, I BIND thee!” Another idea would be to generate spell names using Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards cards beforehand. Perhaps playing air guitar powers magical rituals? I don’t know, I’m making this shit up as I go.

Other influences include:
The video game Brutal Legend. The game itself had it’s issues, but as a love letter to heavy metal, there are few things as mighty.
80’s metal, mainly of the power and thrash variety. For those who have no idea what power metal is, read this. Also, what have you been doing with your life?
The band Manowar, especially the video for Gloves of Metal. Look, there’s a lot about them that has aged badly, or was pretty fucking objectionable even back in the day (I’d say listen to the song Pleasure Slave as an example, but just don’t) and ‘It was the 80’s’ is a piss poor excuse, though I never thought I’d see a music video with worse fight choreography that Motley Crue’s Too Young to Fall in Love. But that full bore commitment to something so utterly stupid as ‘Conan the Barbarian, but with guitars’, I can’t not love that.

Will this event actually happen? Who the fuck knows. We all know how I am with the focus and drive to actually finish things. But the creation process, the bouncing ideas around in my head, that’s brought me great joy, and by Crom, I’ve needed that joy. The relentless march of time, the unending drone of Covid time and a recent casual contact scare (I tested negative, thankfully) has been wearing on me more than normal of late. People keep asking me how I am, and I keep answering *shrugs* “Pandemic well?” I’d love to have another answer, possibly a more positive one, and it ain’t coming. Shit has just gotten more dangerous and now fuckwits don’t have to check into stores? Yeah, great fucking move. I am not a confrontational person, but seeing groups in the Sydney CBD a couple of weeks back wearing ‘Thou shalt not vax me’ t-shirts fucken BOILS MY BLOOD. I know relatively little about Jesus, but I’m pretty fucking sure he’d be pro-vax, with that whole ‘help others’ deal he had. Fuckwits.

I’ve been trying to end this on a positive note, and I should have been asleep long ago. May you and yours be well and happy, and may the things that bring you joy keep doing so. Times are tough and we need to take joy where we can.

Be seeing you…

How do we play this game again?

My last 3 purchases of note have been a (foam) main gauche, a fancy shirt and a leather pauldron. What else is my tax return for but to make me happy? And yes, I have been watching the BBC Musketeers again, how did you know? That’s not the only version I’ve been watching though – I found the 1989 Return of the Musketeers on YouTube and it’s… not great. On the other hand, there’s a 1966 BBC TV adaption that survives and for how I feel about it, well, brace your eardrums and hit play on the following video.

BRIAN BLESSED makes everything better. There are reasons why Porthos is the most entertaining character in near every adaption I’ve seen.

Lockdown seems to be ending soon, partially, which means people I don’t live with can visit my house! And not just to deliver food and goods! This also means Bombshells (The pulp game I’m running) is back on soon and thus I should look over my notes and re-read the game rules again. We ended on a cliff hanger (There are some traditions I’m not willing to mess with), but a refresher never hurt. It’s been some time, but I’m really looking forward to in-person gaming again. Speaking of gaming, last weekend I got to game with people outside my regular circle for the first time in well, a long time. Before the Dark Times. Before the lockdowns… *Ahem* Anyhow, despite the issues I have with online play, it was still a joy. It also reminded me that I tend to game differently in one-shots. I’m quite a nervous man. In that respect I’m like a German vegetarian, I fear the wurst*. But in one-shots, the atmosphere is different. There’s that limited time frame, little to no need to worry about the future, just waiting for the right time to pull a stunt, or in one case, reveal that I was actually a many tentacled alien. (“What, human legs don’t bend like that? That’s a totally normal thing on this planet, that I am from.”) And it got me thinking.

The majority of the games I’ve played in, both tabletop and LARP, have been planned as long term. Some have ended abruptly, others have come to a natural end. Many have been killed by scheduling or just petered out. All things end. But this is more about me. I find that a longer the game goes on, the more I settle in and sit back, so to speak. Going “Yeah, I could do the thing, but there’s always next session.” When the clock isn’t ticking, I find myself just slowing down. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but it does get in the way of actually achieving anything. Much like trying to write things without a deadline, I need that extra shove to actually get things done. Combine that with me trying to work on just one of my half written projects I have rather than spending that time dithering over which one do I pick, I’ve bashed a few pages of notes and ideas into something possibly workable. it’s a beginning at least, and some much needed solace. Productivity has been wonderful for my mental health, despite the bad crash I had this week.

But I’m going into it with a goal – if it does actually happen, I want it to be a short term thing.

Why do I want to cut something short? Surely I should want games to run as long as possible? Well, no, Some background to this: there was a New Zealand LARP, Teonn I think, a few years back that my wife and I crewed for while on holiday. It was based around various nations making landfall on an as yet uncharted island, and I heard that one of the nations screwed up their arrival so badly that the consequences would be hitting them for nearly half the planned 3 year long campaign. I bloody love that. I can’t explain just why it makes me so happy, but it does.

Going into something knowing the clock is ticking and you only have so much time to make your mark on the world, it basically forces me to actually get involved with events, brings me out of my shell. I take risks in one-shots I’d never take in long running campaigns and I like that. I like contributing to games, being part of things, and sometimes I just have to force myself to do so. It makes for better games for everyone at the table, players and GM. And I want that. So, that’s where my thinking is at.

Anyhow, sleep beckons, and who am I to disagree? Good night. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.

*You can thank/blame Andy Zaltzman for that joke.

Time is fleeting, and lockdown takes it’s toll

So, what have I been up to?

Not much. Bob’s Burgers continues to be a source of much needed joy. I started playing Far Cry 5 again, because blasting away at a facist theocratic cult seemed like a nice escape from the real world and yeah… Given that, I switched over to Saints Row 3. I also got some texts from Craig Kelly and while I deleted them immediately, I was almost pleased to get them, as I was starting to feel left out. Even so, I have been mature, and not gone on Twitter and called Kelly an incompetent fool who’s a member of a climate denying death cult who’s shackled his career to a career con artist. I may have tweeted him a screencap of one of the Iron Sheik’s more abusive tweets though… I’m not a saint. 

Short, sharp and to the point. #TeamSheik

in good news, there’s a new Iron Maiden album! I’ve only listened to it a few times so far, which means it’s far too early to give a proper review. It brings joy, unsurprisingly, even tinged by some fear, given singer Bruce Dickinson’s recent positive Covid test.  Every time I’ve seen them, it feels as if it could be the last time, but I don’t want it to be. I’m not ready for them to end yet, nor do I think I’ll ever be ready. That band is 5 years older than I am and it’s members have a combined age of over 350, so logically the end is closer than I’d like. I expect when they finally call it a day I’ll feel as if the sun won’t rise again. But that is not today…

*air guitar solo*

There’s change coming to the TARDIS as well, with the announcement that Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall are leaving Doctor Who. This also meant I had my about once a year or so look at a certain Twitter account and yes, it was as horrible as I expected. Said person has also been trying to get a Babylon 5 revival started and it makes my skin crawl to share a fandom with them. There’s disturbingly large parts of Who fandom that’s incredibly toxic, and  it’s that why I carefully curate what parts I involve myself with. That said I’ll really miss 13, not just because the pandemic meant we missed out on so much time with her or how angry she makes chunks of Who fandom. Making the right people angry is delightful. I used to be grumpy and rank the Doctors, whereas now I’m grumpy and I just love them all. Besides, the lockdown message that Whittaker put together was both pure joy and much needed advice and if you don’t like it, then you may not have a soul.

It just fill me with hope, and I need that about now,

My house has been keeping itself busy – we watched the 1932 version of The Mummy recently, and while good fun, I mostly found myself wanting to watch Pyramids of Mars again, which is never a bad thing. I introduced my wife to the first John Wick film and she didn’t hate it, which is what I was hoping for, I guess? There was an air of “What, was that it?” To be fair, the world building only really kicks in in part 2, but it seems like she’ll let me subject her to it. We’ve also watched Babylon 5: The Lost Tales, which was…. hmmm. The first tale wasn’t great, the second was mostly carried salvaged by Peter Woodward’s glorious scenery chewing. We’ve also started Crusade tonight, and were about half way through ep 1 before she needed to sleep, I can report her initial thoughts were “Oh hey, it’s Gary Cole!” and that Daniel Dae Kim is very pretty. She’s not wrong.

The greatest DVD extra ever made. Ever.

In good news, I found a place that has a cavalier hat blank A: at an affordable price and B: that actually has my size! Therefore, treat yo self! I figure, yes, I can wear it at events and at LARP’s, but mostly because it’ll make me happy. Unfortunately, they turned out to be out of stock, but gave me a refund. The search continues… I’ve found a couple of massive ones in leather, here and here, that have me tempted, but might be a bit too much for me, style wise. At least, for now….  There was a motivational quote I found recently that said: People will stare. Make it worth their while. I like that and may adopt it. It’s certainly come to mind when I’ve been gathering firewood while out walking on the weekends. Mind you, the other quote that comes to mind is “If no-one comes from the future to stop you from doing it, then how bad can it be?” We all find motivation in different ways. 

And yes, I continue to miss LARP. I’ve been eyeing off a sword or two, also under the treat yo self rule, but I keep coming back to ask myself, will I actually use them? Yes, I did order a main gauche, but it’s mostly reminded me that the most recent Captain Alatriste book was published in 2011 and still hasn’t been translated into English. Also, I’ve not seen the TV adaption, and while the movie version was beautiful, it’s telling small excerpts from the books instead of telling one book is infuriating. Still, Viggo Mortenson as Alatriste was near perfect casting. But I digress… Buying stuff just to make me happy doesn’t work as well as it used to, I need to have a purpose for my stuff. Yes, I could use a pretty sabre or another cloak, but with no games running at the moment, a short term happy “I have a shiny thing” boost will likely be overtaken by “Another thing I’m not using” sadness. Mind you, I have been eyeing off a fencing jacket, wanting one that’s both A: fitted to me and B: not in regulation HEMA black. It seems a more sensible long term investment and the dark purple it comes in is… wait for it…

If you weren’t expecting that, you’ve not been paying attention!

There’s more I could discuss, but sleep beckons. So yeah, take care of yourselves and each other, and I’ll be seeing you.

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