Pheno 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Could probably do something Molotovian with these…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The phrase ‘Good Morning Menzoberranzan: The Freeform!”

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

“And then ORCHEMIAN RHAPSODY begins”

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

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

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

“I grate some rat jerky over the top.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Don’t kinkshame the chicken!”

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

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

“Suns out, wangs out.”

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

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

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

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

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

Amen. *air guitar solo*

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Punching Nazis makes *everything* better

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

oconnells

Long time readers will know how dangerous this can be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Biscuit?”

END AND ROLL CREDITS.

doctorbiscuit

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

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

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

Keanu Reeves murders (almost) everyone.

JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3: PARRABELLUM, AKA KEANU REEVES WEARS A SHARP SUIT AND KILLS AN ABSOLUTE FUCKTON OF PEOPLE. I MEAN, SERIOUSLY, IF THEY MAKE ANY MORE OF THESE HE’S GOING TO MURDER A SMALL COUNTRY’S WORTH OF PEOPLE I’M NOT KIDDING.

Look, it doesn’t fit anywhere near as well on a poster, but it’s a far more representative picture of the film.

There’s a small clutch of films that whenever I watch them I have the urge to drop a solid chunk of money on a quality suit, neaten my hair and beard and then, well, walk around I guess? I’ve never gotten that far in the planning stage. Mostly it’s the Bond films, but I think I have to add the Wick saga to that. In RPG terms, It’s not quite Feng Shui: The Movie (That title will forever and always belong to the frankly unbeatable brilliance of Big Trouble in Little China), but if you aren’t using that system to represent this world, you’re doing this wrong. Weapons are shown in almost fetishistic detail, perfect for that game, and there’s some incredible skill on display in their use – while there’s the odd quick cut, for the most part it’s long takes of people messing each other up in increasingly brutal, and occasionally ridiculous ways and the stunt work is frequently jaw dropping in it’s skill and execution.

Keanu Reeves stars as 'John Wick' in JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM.
Told you. That’s damn sharp.

Keanu Reeves returns in the title role as the former hit-man dragged back into the life, and he certainly wears a suit well. I’m not sure I’ve seen one worn with such style since Chow Yun-Fat in The Killer, one of the few films able to match this one for sheer scope of  carnage. Halle Berry isn’t in it as much as you’d expect given her prominence in publicity and Laurence Fishburne appears to be having more fun than you at all times. He has some competition on that front from Mark Dacascos who seems to be enjoying himself so much I wouldn’t be at all shocked if he’d taken the part for free. (A harsher critic could say that being in a big budget film that’s actually seen in cinemas might also be a factor, but I’m not that person.)

There’s the odd burst of ‘Hey, it’s that guy!” with Brooklyn 9-9’s Detective Pimento and Bronn from Game of Thrones appearing. At least I thought it was Bronn, the accent he was using made it difficult to tell without a mid film visit to IMBD and my phone remained firmly turned off during the film. I’m a sucker for a good arming montage (My favorite still being the frankly hilarious one in Schwarzenegger’s Commando) and this one has a doozy, complete with a cheerful nod to Reeve’s past work that I won’t spoil. It’s not quite the equal of John Wick Chapter 2’s, but what’s the point in exactly repeating things?

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Holy shit, I’m on a horse!

We start with Reeves in serious trouble, and the amount he’s in only increases as the film goes on. Points to the writers for upping the scale of things, as the film moves around sharply, with Wick busily proceeding to chop, stab, shoot and punch his way through an awful lot of New York, with one early kill aided by a copy of Dante’s Inferno. I can picture the writers room high as kites on sugar, “So we’ve just had Wick have a gunfight in a stable, so what if he gets into a gunfight while riding a horse, against people on motorbikes? Oh, and later can he ride a motorbike and get into a sword-fight against a bunch of other people on motorbikes?” I can practically hear the high-fives as I type this.

Our guide to this world and it’s rules and regulations is Winston (Ian McShane), who has a tone and gravitas in his voice that not only will I buy whatever he’s selling, but I’ll buy immediately and thus get the free set of steak knives. For a criminal organization it’s incredibly well structured, with a complex set of rules and guidelines. The near mystical gold coins as payment, bloody thumbprints in lockets to signify favors owed and adjudicators to ensure the laws are held to. It’s the sort of nonsense that you’d expect to find in a game of Dungeons and Dragons and would seem utterly ludicrous but given how seriously everyone takes it, it works.

Winston-John-Wick-3-Blue-Coat-600x800
Also, a very sharp coat there.

The increasing scope across the three films thus far has been slowly allowed to reveal itself, which is, to me, a far more elegant way to do things than a film 1 info dump. Sure, I do occasionally wonder at the sheer scale of things, or smaller questions such as just how many people in New York belong to this group of assassins and how Wick hasn’t yet murdered them all in the previous films. I’m more than aware of New Yorker’s reputation for giving no fucks whatsoever, but I’m fairly sure that were this many bodies dropping on this regular a basis in public places that someone would be saying something, right?

Expanding the scope and mythology of your universe can be tricky. The Empire Strikes Back did it well, the Matrix sequels less so. In fairness, I’m not sure on that – I saw both the Matrix sequels at midnight premieres back in the day and haven’t gone back since. I left them angry. Not as angry as after the second Hobbit film, but that’s a different story. Mostly when I remember those two films I think back to my early to mid 20’s bullshit and how much of a twat I could be and I’m really not proud of that. It took me a long time to work past that and I still quake with shame at some of my actions. I can’t take them back, but at least I can learn from them and hopefully not repeat them. On the bright side, it’s around that time I finally came clean, and became an open and proud Iron Maiden fan, as opposed to treating them as a long time guilty pleasure. So, that’s something good and up the Irons! Getting back on topic…

If you know what you’re in for, you’ll love this. If you don’t want to see Reeves dressed well and murdering a whole lot of people with some incredible skill, then this might not be the film series for you. A 4th film has already been announced, and if it hadn’t been the films end would have all but confirmed that. In any case, I can’t wait for the next one and I’m sorely tempted to go back and see this one again. Possibly while wearing a suit…

4 and a half fancy shotguns out of five.

What’s the time?

That’s right kiddies, it’s time for another instalment of everyone’s favorite program, “Gav talks about his mental health!”

So, what’s been happening to me? *deep intake of breath* BRUCE DICKINSON OF IRON MAIDEN ANSWERED A QUESTION OF MINE. IT WAS A DUMB QUESTION, BUT IT WAS MINE AND HE ANSWERED IT.  Sorry for the shouting, but as a Maiden fan for more than half my life, that meant a lot to me. To explain: Bruce was out here promoting his book and put on a show about it, followed by a Q&A. Everyone who bought a ticket got a signed copy of the book (I HAVE SOMETHING HE TOUCHED) and a bit of paper you put your name and question on, which got put into a tub. Word has it they got shuffled around and chosen randomly, and mine was one of the ones he answered! So, I’ve heard from the man himself: His stage clothes do not have an online store, they are a gift from God. Words can’t quite capture just how happy that made me, but I’m slightly gutted that my wife wasn’t there to see it. (She likes seeing me happy, surprisingly)

I ran 8 sessions of Flash Gordon at Phenomenon and, I like to think, did pretty damn well at it. 8 tables of happy players, and from what I heard, more than a few people excitedly comparing notes post session. I’m happier with some sessions, which always happens, but overall think they went well. Warms the heart and fires the blood it does, which is needed to push through the tired. I felt, well, appreciated running for them, in a way I’ve not felt for a while now. There was communication from the orgs, support and encouragement both online and off, all very useful things for a GM who’s more than a bit nervous at his first interstate con. Didn’t hurt that everyone who sat down at the table understood the sort of event I was running (A cheap BBC 1970’s serial, complete with jokes about crappy props and wobbly sets) and ran with it full pelt. I’m hoping to stay longer next year, to make the post con drinks and lunch afterwards. Also, to book the week off afterwards to sleep. I’m not as young as I once was and it really takes it out of you.

Oh, there were stories. Many stories, some cracking jokes and some truly harrowing puns. Ask me in person and I’ll recite some. But the one I’ll tell here is involves a team called the Dragon Ladies, 4 11-13 year old girls. I’d volunteered to run for them, as I only had 2 other players in that session, and while I normally run for 5, I had 6 PC’s so why not? I was bloody petrified, as it was my first session at the con, and running for children is something I don’t have much experience with. I didn’t have to worry a bit, as within seconds they got it. I’ll try to describe my favorite moment. To set the scene – the PC’s have boarded the first passenger vessel between Earth and Mongo, and things are getting trippy as they move between Earth and Mongo space.
ME: “The stars start to swirl, as the sky dazzles with kaleidoscopic colours. Eruptions of light and colour float through the skies. A strange blue box flies past you.”
DRAGON LADIES, in unison: “TARDIS?”
ME: Followed by a phone booth…
Seeing the looks on their faces was priceless and I’d happily run for them again. It took no small amount of willpower not to give them trophies right there. Speaking of that, I might have found my new schtick – smallgoods. I’d mentioned on the blurb there’d be prized for Biggest Ham and Largest Cheese, and as such, procured ham and cheese to give away. Prizegiving seemed to find this incredibly amusing, as did the winners of said prizes. (I overheard “Let’s make a sandwich” between them as they walked back to their seats) To all who played my humble event, I salute you and look forward to next year.

Alas, post con comes the post con crash, and this one hit hard. I knew something was really up when watching Tick Fucking Tock the day after the con ended and almost weeping. There’s a part in Episode 1 where Paul Livingstone’s playing The Auld Triangle acoustically and I nearly broke. I cry pretty much at the drop of a hat, as anyone who’s known me for more than 10 minutes can testify to, but this wasn’t the regular sort of thing. Emotion has frequently been a boom or bust thing for me, as much as I may hope to regulate it. The little things pile up and all looks bleak, with only the small rays of sunshine to light the way. Some days you’re the windshield, and somedays you’re the bug. Or, to quote my favorite author, gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth…

There’s been other events that have messed with me, that I’m still coming to terms with. So, I had a dentist appointment that didn’t exactly go to plan, and I’m staring down the barrel of some pretty heavy dentistry. Who knew self medicating for depression and stress, combined with the attendant lack of self care and dental hygeine, for the better part of 4 years would be rubbish for your teeth? Explaining that at Sunday dinner with the in-laws wasn’t part of the plan either, but what’s done is done. As a result of that (And to save money to pay the dentist bill) I’ve cut sugar as much as I can out of my life, and that’s a bastard of a thing. Given that it was something of a mood stabilizer for me, seeing that last Tim Tam on the table, sitting there uneaten, taunting me, has made me want to scream “SOMEBODY FUCKING EAT IT OR I’LL KILL YOU ALL” more than once.

I’ve even found myself comparing ingredients on chips to see which has less sugar, something I never thought I’d do. On the bright side, I’ve lost weight to the point my wedding ring is loose at times, so some good has come from this. There’s also the wanting to go out and do stuff again, like using swords and bows! Alas my regular LARP isn’t running at the moment, as I have a shiny new rapier (that I’m fucking rubbish at using) to play with. I’ve had my fill of trying to play anti-heros or scoundrels, and just want to swash my buckle – is that so bad?

Look, it’s rather late, and I really should be sleeping, so I’ll wind this up. Thank you as always dear readers, for your indulgence. I’m going to leave you with some advice, some of the finest advice I can hope to give. 4 simple words, that will improve your lives no end.

LISTEN TO BLACK SABBATH.

Be seeing you…

ROOOOOOOOTS BLOODY ROOOOOOTS

Max and Iggor Cavalera / Skindred, Sydney Big Top Sep 22 2017.

Sepultura’s album Roots holds a special place in my heart, as what helped expand the visions of what metal could be, sending me down a different path. True, it didn’t eclipse my burgeoning love for all things Iron Maiden, but that passion was both A: in it’s infancy and B: still something of a guilty pleasure for me, a feeling that took me a good few years to openly embrace. Given the nature and ferocity of their split, or rather frontman Max Cavalera’s split from the rest of the band, I’d long figured I’d have had no chance of seeing the songs performed live. True, Max had reunited with Sepultara drummer (and brother) Iggor in 2006 and formed Cavalera Conspiracy, among Max’s numerous other projects, but when it was annouced the two brothers would be touring the Roots album in full, well, I was there. The fact ragga metallers Skindred would be supporting them was less the icing on the cake for me, and more the cake itself. Sure, it did seem a little akward to be keener on the support than the headline, but I figure support bands deserve love all, right?

I trundle my way down to the venue, check in my bag and already curse both the venue’s no steel cap shoe policy and my being raised Lawful Good. *sighs* I make my way to the front early, wanting to be right up there for Skindred, and after an epic wait, the strains of the Imperial March ring out and the band hit stage. Singer Benji Webbe, sunglass clad and impossibly cool, climbs up on the monitors, Under Attack kicks off and my head begins to thrash. They put on an impeccably cheerful set, freely admitting that they’re here to get people warmed up for Max and co, but in no way slacking off because of it. Kill the Power has the audience roaring, Machine (From the then forthcoming new album) howls like a banshee and we end Warning with the now traditional Newport Helicopter. The cheeky gits even leave the stage to a burst of Nobody Does it Better

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Benji Webbe – LORD OF ALL HE SURVEYS.

After putting my shirt back on, I vacate the mosh pit in search of food and drink. And safety – I have what could be charitably called a piss poor tolerance for pain, and I can see the size of the people behind me. Making my way to safety (AKA the upstairs seating), I settle in for the main event. Anticipation builds, the mosh pit grows even more frenzied and the they hit stage. what can I say about Max, other than he looks just like someone who’d give you a quest in a post apolyptic RPG. He grabs the mic, bellows “ARE YOU READY? ROOTS, BLOODY ROOOOOTS” and we’re off. Goddamn, I’d almost forgotten how hard that song hits, and I can barely draw breath. Attitude has the crowd roaring, and Cut Throat is extraordinary, to say nothing of the look of awe on my face at hearing Ratamahatta played live. Things slow down a little mid set , but picks up with a storming Endangered Species and album closer Dictatorshit. I’m lathered in sweat and ragged and 16 year old me can’t believe what he’s just seen. The encore of a medley of early Sepultura goes down a treat, as does covers of Venom’s Black Metal and Motorhead’s Ace of Spades, ending with a reprise of Roots, Bloody Roots.


See, I have proof!

Alas, none of my photos of the headliners turned out OK, and I don’t remember who the rest of the band were, though their moves came straight from the ‘Big Book of Metal Stage Moves’, complete with wide stance and head bob. But I can’t bring myself to mock much, given the faces I’ve pulled while playing Guitar Hero over the years.

As we shamble out into the night, battered, only slightly bleeding (Small cur on the finger, nothing to worry about) and very happy, I once again think just how much I love live music. There’s nothing like it.

Long time.

So yeah, been a while.

Stuff.

What’s happening? Not much. Work, gaming, laundry and sleep. The odd concert or show. I’ve a pile of half written reviews and posts that writer’s block has been getting in the way of. My mental health contines to pinball around, but the highs are relatively high, and the lows aren’t as low, which is pretty bloody lovely. Progress is progress.

My latest con game had it’s first playtest recently, and went well. It was a hell of a thing, as my brain and my GM’ing havent felt as if they’ve been working in unison of late, but more on that later. Anyhow, some stuff to do on that one, a few tweaks and adjustments. I’ll likely playtest it again before Pheno, to see how the changes work and get a bit more XP under the belt. It’s been fun to write, which has been a welcome change of late. Productivity in that area is useful, but still somewhat frustrating, as every time I try to write more stuff for the Conan LARP I ran a couple sessions of last year I want to put my fist through my monitor with frustration. Hello writer’s block, my old nemesis.

I’m increasingly of the mind that I should just run one shots every few months and bounce around settings and genres. Given how my ideas range about the shop, trying to stick to one settting after that initial burst of enthusiasm has faded is tricky. I’ve had issues writing sequels to my tabletops in the past, so this might be for the best. Realizing this, oh, a year and a half back might have been fucking useful as well, but better late than never. I enjoyed running Hyborian, it taught me that I can run something, but that I need more help and deadlines. On the bright side, I’m working on something of a freeform nature, of which I won’t reveal large details of (For once) but I’ll say this: I want to run it on a beach and I’ve been browsing Etsy for a tricorn hat. Make of that what you will.

The other big change has been the cancellation of the Star Wars game I’ve been running. Alas Team Fish Nipples is no more. There’s a variety of reasons, but mostly is that’s it’s become something I’m not enjoying. It’s not that it wasn’t fun, and my players certainly seemed to be enjoying things (My main critieria for running games), but I was getting increasingly cranky at them, and they don’t deserve that. I got all inspired by Rogue One, and my players went more in that direction than I was expecting or comfortable with. I don’t blame them at all – it’s my fault for not setting the tone and expectations in the first place, and they deserve no end of thanks from me, as I’ve said previously.  I still want to run for them, as they’re a lot of fun to run for but I don’t know what yet. I’d rather not announce it yet until I have a setting and campaign set up. I certainly have ideas, but I’m experimenting with fully developing them, having a campaign plan, authority figure NPC’s who are happy to see them – shit I haven’t always done before.

So yeah, I’ll try and clear the backlog of pieces, or at least post most often.  Thank you for your patience and indulgence.

 

 

Your Kung Fu’s alright eh? Right mate, carpark!

So, for those of you keeping track of my terrible game ideas, well, I’ve had another one. Prompted in part by an old idea (Wanting to set a Feng Shui game in Australia), reading the blog Ninja’s all the Way Down* and a recent viewing of Hercules Returns (Which none of the cast and crew at the post film Q&A had seen in 25 years), I present you thus:

AUSTRALIAN NINJA: ENTER THE YOBBO.

A 1 session 5 player game that uses the Feng Shui system.

With nothing more than that I’ve already had 4 people I know go “Yep, will play.” I’m not sure what that says about my reputation in local gaming circles, but whatever it is I’m happy about it. Maybe even a little proud.

For those wanting more info, I don’t have any. Well, outside of one character’s equipment list will have ‘Hotted up Ford’ and ‘Complete works of AC/DC’ and I want to stage the final fight on the Harbour Bridge. I’m tempted to add a cliffhanger where a fleet of Kiwi accented pirates sail into Sydney Harbour for no readily apparent reason other than it amused me, but I seem to be on a pointlessly obscure cliffhanger kick at the moment (For example, the cliffhanger/epilogue to my last convention game used Iron Maiden lyrics as flavour text).

Plot? What? I did have an idea of going full Godfrey Ho – take a regular Australian film’s plotline, add ninja’s, and then redub the whole mess. I don’t remember much of Moulin Rogue and I never saw Australia, but I’m fairly certain both could be improved by random ninja attacks, much in the same way there’s no film that couldn’t be improved by having Bill and Ted appear halfway through.**

So yes, that’s another game for the list. I’ll chuck it on the pile and now that it’s out in the public eye and try to get back to the stuff I should be writing first. For example,  I just submitted an idea for Pheno and whilst it’s not been accepted yet, more work on it is a good thing.

Be seeing you…

*Don’t trust me? Read their review of Ninja Terminator.
** There’s films that don’t need to be improved, but that still could be.

Far over the Misty Mountains cold…

Far over, the Misty Mountains cold,
To dungeons deep, and caverns old.
We must away, ere break of day,
To find the pale, enchanted gold.

So, given recent faffing about concerning possible new LARP characters, a decision has been made: I’m going Dwarven. I have the beard, a (LARP safe) hammer and find Elves irritating, so how could I not? This leaves a lot of things to work out and/or find  – the name I’m leaving for a while, as I’ve always had trouble with them. For the moment I’m looking at costume and background. Costume wise, I want a lot. This involves digging through reference material and Google Images, which is, as you can imagine, an ardous task*. I have issues with the Hobbit films, but the art direction and costume work is fantastic. Well, mostly – I was never sold on Bifur having an axe stuck in his forehead or Nori’s hairdo**. Their cultural work is gorgeous – there’s a clear difference between each of the races, rather than simply throwing a costume on an actor and telling them to do an accent.

The basic costume concept is pinched from The Hobbit films, mostly Thorin. I love that fur trimmed open robe thing (Stuffed if I know what the actual term for it is) and the general look of his outfit, but I don’t want to copy the thing directly. Lose the armour, drop the fur from the outer robe (Seriously, what is the thing called?) and add a hood for starters. I’ve got jewellery I’m looking at and I’ve almost decided what adornments my beard will have (No, I’m still not letting you put plastic Christmas baubles in it). Also, there needs to be summer and winter weight versions, or adaptability thereof, switching out an outer robe etc. I’m wanting layers, outer robe thing, tunic, belt, maybe a baldric. Oh, the paralysis of options…

thorin-3
That sleeveless robe thing – what the hell is it called?

As for weaponry, I’ve the hammer and that’ll be it till I can get enough XP to buy shield use. Won’t be the first time I’ve hampered myself combat wise for story purposes, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I’d experiment further with two-weapon fighting, but I’m even more rubbish at that. The Hybrid Dwarven sword that Epic Armoury makes is very pretty though… Armour (at first) will be thanks to magic, which means I don’t have to wear the stuff, which is pleasing in the Australian summer. I do want a few things to bulk out the outfit though -bracers and greaves, with maybe extra padding underneath there (Under the rules of the system you have to take an ability to make armour count, otherwise it’s just decoration). Heavy leather most likely – Darkblade make a decent looking and relatively affordable set of gauntlets. It can’t be soon enough, given the amount of smacks to the hands I take.

LI-442402-3077
See, told you it was pretty didn’t I?

Background wise, he’s a blacksmith, but has the skill to forge magic items. So, wizard abiities, but not the boom spell throwing kind. As for why he’s come to the game area, I’m uncertain, but looking towards wanting to improve his skills, maybe to craft something for the Dragon Throne. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Item creation costs XP so it’ll be a while, but it’s nice to have goals to look forward to. Also, I’ve only got the one weapon proficiency, so it’ll be a few games before can use a shield. I’ve the feeling I’m going to lose more fights than I win, but I’m used to that. The stats I have are wavering between fighter and wizard being the main focus, but wizard seems to be winning. I can’t promise I won’t use a Scots accent (Or what I do that passes for one), but that casts a long shadow over Dwarven kind. (I remember doing a Scots accent when I first played a Dwarf back in high school, way back in the mid 90’s – I blame Games Workshop.) There’s other little things I’ve been comtemplating – fighting style, reactions to other races and even walking. May not sound like much, but a Dwarf’s going to walk differently to an Elf. Heavy boots and a rolling tread.

Which leads us to why he’s come to the game site. I’d like a better excuse than ‘I have a roaving foot’ – the old ‘highborn wanting to marry lowborn’ or vice versa cliche isn’t bad, nor is the ‘exiled for political reasons’ one. I like the idea of being a staunch traditionalist, hectoring any other Dwarves in game to be more Dwarfy. A bit more fussy, more than the steroetypical short Viking/Glasweigan. Enough there to identify as a Dwarf, but more depth than the bottom of a glass, unlike a lot of my previous characters..

Enough for now. More to follow.

*Also, going through YouTube looking for power metal covers of Over the Misty Mountains Cold.
**There’s moments I’m not sure what’s in the water at Weta Workshop. Somethings they do beautifully (Hobbiton), and other things go down like a cup of cold sick (I’m pretty sure that Legolas got more screen time and dialogue than at least three of the Dwarves).

A Questing we shall go! Soonish!

Overkill by Motorhead is a damn near perfect song. It took me a long time to appreciate it (As a teen my main issue was that it wasn’t Stone Dead Forever), but as I’ve been heavily into their back catalogue owing to the recent death of former guitarist ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke, some critical reappraisal has been due. Philthy’s warp speed double bass drumming, Lemmy’s bass as rhythm guitar and Eddie leaning back into the outro solo, his body almost held up in the air by what’s pouring out of the speakers, it’s enough to bring a tear to the eye.

Anyhow, getting back to LARP related stuff. I’d been toying with the idea of going to Swordcraft Quest (A week long LARP in Victoria) for some time, and having a little extra cash in the pocket from recent convention work, I thought I’d investigate further. A week of gaming, of meeting new people, talking with them in a (possibly) terrible accent, trying to kill them and being killed in return sounds fantastic. Also, camping. Well, there’s a downside to everything. 🙂 Transports tricky though, being in regional Victoria and good incentive for me to get my license. Again. Do I carpool there and train back, or vice versa? Taking the train home does give me the advantage of time to myself, well time with headphones. I’m not a massive fan of crowds, and generally need time to sit in a cave by myself (So to speak), following large events.

The venue the next events at though, Kryal Castle, means there’s both public transport access and dorm room accomodation. Win! Frustration at trying to find more info on the format of the event followed, not helped by their website. I suspect much trawling through Facebook will ensue, or some polite badgering and buying drinks in thanks for friends of mine who’ve gone in previous years. What ensued was my typical mighty enthusiasm followed swiftly by a budget based freakout. What calmed me (Aside from my wife), was the realisation that they run another Quest later in the year, around the school holidays in September. Thankfully, this shouldn’t clash with the Phenomenon convention, which a friend has challenged me to run The Savage Worlds of Flash Gordon at, to which my response was something alone the lines of *twirls mustache* ‘Pathetic Earthlings, who can save you now?’

The September event also gives me more time to plan kit, grow my beard ever mightier, decide what warband to fight with (Or generate a small one of our own, as a housemate is also keen to come play) and prepare. Also time for me to relax, not freak out at the possibilities, and to find out what’s there apart from combat. My wife isn’t a fan of LARP combat (Or as I put it ‘words are her weapons’), while I enjoy a good scrap. Finding an event that indulges both of us, well, that’s the hope.

Now, with the convention further away, I have some cash in my pocket that’s burning hotter than Mustafar. What do I do with it? Armour? Shield? A swooshy cloakBaggy trousers? Whatever I buy, I want to make sure I’m going to use it, and that means actually deciding what character/s I want to take, not coming up with eleventy million terrible ideas, something I’ve long been fantastic at. There is one thing I’m set on though: beard rings*. But which ones? The Mjolnir and Jormangandr ones appeal the most, given my beard is mighty and may well bring about Ragnarok. 🙂 I’m also keen to get a couple of skulls to put in braids in my hair, but that’s more a legacy from my love of Warhammer 40,000.

There’s another more sensible option though – in place of spending large amounts of cash on postage, follow my wife to Spotlight and buy patterns and fabric so she can make it. Saves on postage and I get another chance to brag. “Who made this? My wife did.” A friend has also offered to make me a swooshy purple cloak. I know awesome people.

At the moment though, the main idea is green. Yep, Orcs. That might be owing to seeing this recently, which would (hopefully) help negate the number of crotch shots I take in combat. Yes, I know I should be faster and/or wear a box, but these things still happen. I also need to get my boots resoled, which I’m betting won’t be cheap. Prosthetics and makeup will be involved, but I’ve got time to practise. I’m tempted to go full barbarian in leather and fur, but that orc swashbuckler idea I’ve had kicking around is tempting as well. That would fit more with my less than mighty physique as well. *ponders* Too many ideas and not enough games!

* To those of you who suggest putting plastic baubles in my beard every Christmas, I have a word for you: NO. My beard is not for things bright and cheerful, but shall be adorned only by silver, bronze and the blood of my enemies!**

** Or as my wife knows it, the remnants of my breakfast Milo.