“Fish have nipples right?”

In the annals of military history, there are legendary units units, tales of whose heroism are told for centuries, even thousands of years after they are gone. The Sacred Band of Thebes, the Varangian Guard, the 101st Airborne, Hogan’s Heroes. Now to add to that noble list of names, *drum roll*  Team Fish Nipples! Yep, that should set the tone for the session, which set a new record for pissing about, distractions and general tomfoolery. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun, but there was a lot of me holding my head in hands either in shame or trying not to laugh. Moving on…

First off,  to recap from last session, they were being briefed about their next mission: the extraction of Raith Herajan, an Imperial supply officer. He’d been acting as an informant, but was concerned that Imperial Intelligence were closing in. I was at first unsure as to whether the discussion if he qualified as a double or triple agent was in character, but was told in no uncertain terms that it was. After all, this bunch have a reputation in the Alliance and it sure ain’t for staying on topic. The the rest of the briefing covered such important information as whether the extraction should be subtle or high profile, any contacts on planet that could help them and whether the Mon Cal has nipples. One of my players Googled “Mon Calamari Nipples?’  It’s moments like those that I both love and hate my players.

New identities were issued to them, and I made the mistake of not having made up names for them, which led to my players choosing font based names – Bridget Helvetica is the only one I can remember. (Mercifully no-one chose a name based around Wing Dings.) That was a far more sensible idea than the earlier option of swapping people’s names around – Twee would be Terpfen etc. While the actual Terpfen was keen for that,  he was the only one. They returned to their ship, which had not been messed with by any of the bases other inhabitants (This time…) and took off. There was a clothing change montage on-board ship, as Elshaandru Picu is a high status planet, which lead to Terpfen finally putting on a shirt (The conversation about fish nipples began again), Savani dressing sexy in place of tatty spacer’s clothes (She was rocking that 11 Charisma) and Twee putting on a hat. A very fine hat.

They passed through customs without any trouble, and proceeded to make their way to the 27th Hour club (it being one of those annoying joke names, given the planet has a 26 hour day) to make contact. It’s part of a massive entertainment complex for those with too much money and nowhere to spend it, which had my PC’s interested as they’d been given 5 grand each from the Bacta sales they made (The rest either having gone to High Command’s budget or recovered by the Empire)

After some issues with the code phrase (Twee asked the wrong bartender), they were told to wait, and after a half hour of food and drink  (The 27th Hour has a policy of ‘If yuou stump our bartenders, you drink free’) a neatly dressed Twi’lek man escorted them upstairs to a well appointed waiting room, complete with up to date magazines! Soon after entered Kina Margath, owner of the complex and Rebel agent. Some conversation followed about the mission and target and a plan was formulated, all the while it became increasingly clear that while the PC’s hadn’t heard of Margath, Margath had heard of them – word spreads quickly in Rebel intelligence.

They decided to find Raith at the gaming tables (A lot quicker than I’d expected), so while Twee was Mind Tricking other gamblers at the table to get them to leave, Vallo draped herself over him and whistled the recognition song, which made him both pleased and incredibly nervous. He proceeded to excuse himself, moving quickly once Vallo dropped hints about going up to his room. The Stormtroopers at the door looked at them very strangely, one of them seeming to comment “I thought he preferred fish.” I’m not proud.

Meanwhile Terpfen and Sivani went to rent an air-speeder, taking out the full insurance package on the vehicle, while Twee and Charlie (Who’s both R2 unit and booster seat). went to wait outside. Vallo established her credentials with the target, and prepared to make their exit, jimmying a window, signalling their ride. and taking precautions. By that of course I mean crafting a grenade from the room’s hi-fi (Thanks to the Bomb-Thrower talent) and bracing it against the door.

We ended with Team Escape making their way into the speeder, as the Stormtroopers started hammering at the door, with about to explode! Yes, I do love ending sessions on cliffhangers. I haven’t watched all that Doctor Who for nothing… The real surprise was they made it through most of the plot I’d written – I hadn’t expect them to make contact quite so soon. Still, we should have an explosive start to next session!

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Zedtown: A Divided City

Neighbours. Arriving home late last night after a long (Of which I’ll speak more of later) I was confronted by an old nemesis: doof. Up the street were having a party, jumping by the number of cheap and tacky costumes people going to their cars were wearing and the number of empties on my front lawn today and there was doof playing. Or possibly untz. I’m not up with that scene – my preferred form of music is live. Hundreds of years of beautiful music, of the likes of Mozart, Mendelssohn or Motorhead, and people listen to doof. *sigh* Anyhow, it was bloody loud and I was cranky.

Also, I’d had a couple who’d been enthusiastically making out against a car glare angrily at me as I walked past. Don’t know why, but in the brief moment I saw them he did have his hand so far up her skirt he could have brushed her armpits.

Therefor, were I to have access to the following:
A: A time machine.
B: A directional speaker that could focus the sound on one house, or a giant Cone of Silence,
I would have dropped back to around 4AM and put Lou Reed’s ‘Metal Machine Music’ on loop.

Anyhow, enough about petty incidents with neighbours, yesterday was Zedtown, with several hundred people descending on UNSW for a giant game of zombie themed tag. As I was explaining to several onlookers, I grow old, but I refuse to grow up. 🙂 Starting at 9am for setup, with the game set to start at 1, it was a bloody long day, but stupid amounts of fun. Seeing the initial rush of players, all cocky and sure of themselves, and seeing that illusion punctured at the first scream of The Witch, this game dressed as Elsa. Fear is a wonderful thing.

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It was a Cold War themed event, with Red and Blue indulging in all manner of atrocious accents and wacky shenanigans. We were pretty zombie light for a lot of the game, but as far as I know no-one made it to the Evac point at end of game. It’s not uncommon for very few survivors – there was one guy who evacced out of the Mac Uni game, and that was by hiding under the corpses of other players at the final stand (One of which was me).

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It was a playtest for future events, as we had all manner of shiny new toys, such as spawners, upgrade cards and the payload (AKA an iron lung). It wasn’t without issues, mostly owing to the dance festival taking place, the preparations.rehearsals for which took up most of the central clearing near one of the bases, which meant I spent a lot of the game shouting at people not to shoot at/near civilians or for them to move away from the traffic. Yes, you can move through the square calmly, but please don’t race through screaming at the top of your lungs. If anyone has footage of when the Witch first went through there, accompanied by ‘Let It Go’, I’d love to see it – apparently the dancers lost their minds. Also, the parents and grand parents seemed enthralled and really keen about what we were doing – enthusiams wonderful.

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Absurd amounts of fun and I can’t wait for the next one – Melbournes June 24th and the next Sydney game is July 8th, with tickets on sale now! Hopefully I’ll get the chance to play again…

So, I did a thing recently.

So, about a week and a half ago, I ran a LARP event. It went well. I’m very pleased by this.
Sorry, not sure why I’m talking like that. It’s one of those ‘Did I actually do that?’ kind of things. I’d been wanting to do this for about a decade, and to both have it happen and to have people keen for more, well, it’s a hell of a feeling.

There were more than a few nerves on my part and some teething issues (Mostly due to me not reminding people about Fear effects), but it was genuinely heartwarming to see how quickly people got into the spirit of the thing, both in attitudes (Over the top and scenery chewing) and combat (Giant swings that would get you laughed out of any HEMA conference). I’m fine having to explain the details of the setting to people, that I was expecting. But to see players and crew get the atmosphere I was hoping for, well, it made me immensely happy. I was nervous as hell pre-game, but they managed it beautifully.

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Our… heroes. Scoundrels, vagabonds and mercenaries all!

To recap: a group of mercenaries had been hired to recover a lost pay shipment, one that was vitally critical to the Aquilonian settlements along the Pictish Wilderness. There was savage battle, the theft of a dead mans boots (And teeth), glorious overacting and combat worthy of an 80’s sword and sorcery flick. There were moments I’d swear I could hear Manowar playing, and that was just what I wanted.

They seemed to do OK during the first skirmish (From what I heard – I was getting ready to play a captured NPC further down the trail), but the fight near the bridge nearly took them down. It took some very fancy footwork and a skin of wine from Josefina (Wine being part of the healing mechanic) to keep them standing, or stumbling and in the fight. Well, that and a rare moment of mercy from the NPC crew – we needed them alive for the final battle. Slowly making their way through the woods, tense and nervous at the sounds of chanting and drumming, they came across a Shaman in the middle of a ceremony, and battle was joined. The ceremony was interrupted, which meant the giant serpent that slithered up from hell wasn’t exactly under the shaman’s control, which meant the Pictish War Chief soon turned tail and ran. Honestly, good help is hard to find these days.

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Our Pictish Shaman, shortly before she was stabbed.

So, what’s next? We’re planning another one for July 15th, with details of the adventures we’re running to be confirmed soon. Join us, and welcome to the days of high adventure!

So, where were we?

So, it’s been a while since I updated on my Star Wars game. Well, strap in readers, cause it’s about to happen! Apologies to my players for any errors, as my note taking wasn’t as good that session.

Our heroes:
Twee Lek – Jawa, aspiring Force user, accompanied by his R2 unit Charlie, who speaks a mix of Binary and Doge.
Terpfen – Mon Calamari, Commando. Has more weapons than shirts.
Varlo Delste – Human, Saboteur by trade, Alderaanian by birth.
Savani Brewynn – Human, Ace Pilot and Occasional Voice of Reason.

When last we left our heroes, they’d hijacked an Imperial Bacta freighter, murdering most of the crew and running. A few calls to some local hospitals and they were in the Bacta selling trade! Terpfen and Varlo went to meet their last buyer, while Twee and Savani went looking for ‘Wizard Crystals’, which didn’t go well. Still, it went better than the meeting, which backfired somewhat when their last contact brought some friends along: a dozen Stormtroopers. Blaster fire was exchanged, as were grenades. Luckily Twee could sense his friends were in danger, arriving as Terpfen was badly wounded and Varlo unconcious. Twee continued to use his parlour trick of twisting troopers helmets around to surprising effect. Just how do they see in those helmets anyhow?

Their intervention was well timed, as Terpfen was almost killed as well. With the last of the troopers dead and the contact fled, it was decided to run as well, with the party taking shelter in the abandoned Rey’s Occult Books, hoping to find some way out of the mess. We returned, and with the party slighty better healed, they prepared. Terpfen did some tactical thinking, and concluded that making their way to the starport through the sewers (Which had a back entrance in the store was the more sensible option. Sure, there did turn out to be a Dianoga (As if I’m going to miss a chance for that!), but between the Stormtroopers they threw to it and my dice rolling, it wasn’t too much trouble.

Outside the spaceport, it was decided the Jawa would sneak in to the control room and unlock their ship (Doing the John McClane again) while the rest would sneak around to the ship itself. Some technical jiggery pokery (And another gun fight) ensued before the players made their escape, arriving back at base with a mostly undamaged super freighter of Bacta and the faint praise of their Commander. We ended with a brief hint at their next mission – an Imperial official who needs to be kidnapped! Based on the 30 second next time preview,  beautiful woman and some sort of high stakes card game may also involved. One of my players had earlier said he’d keen for a heist adventure, so I moved the idea forward a bit. I’m a kind and generous GM like that. 🙂

It’ll be another 3 weeks till we next play, owing to my wife and I’s 7th anniversary holiday and the Scion game we play in being back on. After the chaos of my fuck up with the Bacta/fuel ship, I’m feeling a lot better about the campaign. I think I know where I’m going, I have some important NPC’s to introduce soon and my players seems to be enjoying themselves more. It’s a good feeling.

You know where you are? You’re in the dungeon baby!

Se, between writing for An Age Undreamed Of (The working title for the Conan game), work, my Star Wars game (Which I’ve been taking notes for and will update you on) and a few vists from the Black Dog, I’ve been a bit pre-occupied. Naturally, when I’m trying to write something, brain will try to write something else.So, having seen the card game Welcome to the Dungeon a few weeks ago, brain immediately thought of the Guns and Rose’s song followed by “That’s a good idea for a con one-shot.” Over the next few hours it evolved into a game show esque concept and I mentally filed the idea away. Bad move. It stuck. So, in order to get it out of my system, here’s a rough edit of the opening credits of Welcome to the Dungeon!

[OPENING ECHO PEDAL GUITAR BIT OF SONG] Camera swoops down through a huge mountain range, taking us to the entrance to DUNGEON STADIUM, a massive pair of bronze and iron doors in the side of the mountain. They open and the camera enters, revealing the stadium, a massive complex filled with traps and monsters flanked by rows of audience members cheering wildly and waving giant foam weapons excitedly.

[VOCALS KICK IN]
Welcome to the dungeon, we got the fun and games
We got everything you want, honey we know the names.
[SHOTS OF OUR HOSTS]
We are the people who can find, whatever you may need
[LOVING SHOTS OF ADVENTURERS GEAR – COILS OF ROPE, GLEAMING WEAPONS, HEALING POTIONS ETC]

If you got the money honey, we got your disease
[SHOTS OF ADVENTURERS BEING TURNED TO STONE, CONVULSING ETC. REAL JOHN HURT MOMENT TYPE STUFF]
Welcome to the dungeon, we take it day by day,
If you want it you’re gonna bleed, but that’s the price you pay.
[SHOTS OF COMBAT – BLOOD SPURTING, LIMBS SEVERING, THAT SORT OF THING]
Cause when you’re high you never, ever want to come down, suck down, suck down…
[ADVENTURERS FALLING FROM LEDGES, BEING GRABBED BY MONSTERS, FALLING INTO PIT TRAPS ETC]
[GUITAR SOLO]
[SHOTS OF SWIRLING AND MESSY MELEE COMBATS]
You know where you are? You’re in the dungeon baby, you’re gonna die!
[PAN AROUND SHOT OF BAND OF ADVENTURERS, ADVANCING MONSTERS ON ALL SIDES]
[AS SONG STARTS TO COME TO AN END, CAMERA MOVES BACK THROUGH DUNGEON STADIUM, GETTING FASTER AND FASTER, WITH THE FINAL SHOT OF THE DOORS SLAMMING CLOSED ON “It’s gonna bring you down huh!”

NPC’s:
OUR HOSTS: Let’s call them BOB and DAVE for the moment.
The IN DUNGEON CORRESPONDENT, a Valkyrie who’se constantly unhappy about the skimpy and impractical armour she’s forced to wear for the show.
THE SAGE: Who tells the audience what’s in the room the Adventurers are about to enter and the week’s themed Dungeon Rooms.
THE THIEF: Pops up from time to time to try to steal from the party and exchange terrible dad jokes wih OUR HOSTS.

So, the game itself. It’s currently a rather lethal game show, sort of The Running Man crossed with The Crystal Maze. I should also watch some Takeshi’s Castle and It’s a Knockout while I’m at it I guess. Sure, there’s the needing two GM’s (And I know two people who’d be magnificent at it) and I still can’t decide what GM’s would have to wear between the horrible neon suits you can find at Lowes or wizards robes made of fabric that’s cheaper than dirt.

Lastly, what system do I run it with? Or, for that matter, do I run it as a freeform, or even a LARP? *ponders* I should sleep now. G’night all!

*cue opening theme*

It is a time of hope in the galaxy. The Rebel Alliance has struck a mighty blow with the destruction of the Empires dread new weapon, the DEATH STAR, but even as the Rebels celebrate, the Empire is far from defeated. The spark of rebellion that was close to being extinguished now blazes brightly across the galaxy. In the remote Lesaan system, a brave band of Rebels seek to strike a blow to help end the Empire’s tyranny…

There was an animated discussion over how many fingers Mon Calamari have and how that impacts upon their ability to flip the bird. I should be expecting this sort of thing more from my players and yet…*

So, the game itself? Well, there’s the Mon Cal commando (Who unfortunately didn’t have time to watch the film leading up to the first session), the Jawa Force-User (Who might have read the journal that Obi-Wan left for Luke, but he made sure to put it back), and a pair of human saboteurs (Apologies for the lack of details, but they took their character sheets home with them), all hoping to blow stuff up in the name of the Rebel Alliance.

It started with them looking at an Imperial installation they’d been ordered to investigate, as Intel had word that something was being cooked up there. Blowing it up was the ifrst idea, with dropping a starship on it from orbit an early idea. (That was suggested in one of the player’s other games, though in that game the idea was to drop a capital ship on the base) This got switched to smashing a truck through the wall and hoping that blows up the fuel depot (I’m happy they chose that option, as the widespread ecological devastation that would have resulted was a little dark for the first session), a slightly more sensible plan (Especially as the Mon Cal was somewhat horrified by the idea of going in through the sewers). Team Alien went to steal a truck, while Team Human went to mug some Army Troopers for their uniforms. Both plans went relatively well (Even with the pickup line being incredibly close to “Hey, do you want to go to that alley so you can see my boobs and I can stab you?”), thankfully followed by a pair of stun bolts and a quick cut to party members changing clothes bit. The law was alerted to the theft, but I’ll admit to dropping the ball on that GM wise.

Hotwiring the truck had a bit of a delay, with the Jawa accidentally plugging his R2 unit into the wrong socket (NOTE: That was not a euphemism).  Team Alien then ran for the other side of the Imperial base while Team Human waited (With the fire extinguisher from the truck) for the explosion and planned to ingratiate themselves with the fire-fighting effort. The truck hit the fence, smashed partway through and went kaboom. Team Human raced to join the fire-fighting efforts, while Team Alien tried to sneak inside in the confusion. Some failed sneak rolls and an attempt at telekinesis later, Team Alien were busy getting shot at**. Meanwhile, Team Human had made their way inside and found themselves in R&D, which turned out to be a bio-weapons facility.

After changing into hazmat suits, they proceeded under cover of a surprise inspection, asking for a tour of the lab which the lead scientist was happy to give. He explained that they were developing a substance (Hey, I couldn’t resist trying to add a little enigma to it) that targeted non-humans,  though they hadn’t worked out all the issues yet, namely being that some humans were still affected. Team Human left, informing Team Alien of their discovery, with the party being happy they didn’t just drop a ship on it from orbit. Anyhow, they’re on route to try to bail out Team Alien and hopefully destroy the facility without releasing the substance. They might even rescue the test subjects in the lab while they’re at it! We shall see…

Things I need to do for next session:
Relearn the system, especially the different between the Persuasion and Con skills.Also, possibly fold some skills together.
Have more people shoot at the PC’s. There was an express lack of gunfire and for that I blame only myself.
Not worry so much. I don’t need as much opening flavour text, or detail, and while I thought I wouldn’t have enough plot, I’ve still got a fair bit left. It’ll need expanding for next session, but it’s good to know I’ve got a start.
Also, if I’m going to write an opening monologue (Like the intros to Clone Wars, not the text crawl from the films), then I should remember to deliver the bloody thing.

Lastly, damn it feels good to be running this game again. It’s been a long time, a long time…

*It was decided by the GM they have 5 fingers and can flip the bird.
** There was some fucking awful dice rolling that session. The surprise was it wasn’t just mine!

Changes…

So, Team (Almost All) Dual Wield  won a convincing (albeit slightly strange, even by their standards) victory over the forces of evil (Continuing to mightily sass the Watch as always) and now both laden down with cash and having (sadly inaccurate) street theatre made about their exploits are trying to decide what next. Sadly, that’ll have to wait – owing to a combination of one player’s looming unavailability, the fact we’re at a nice climactic point and my knack for crises of confidence, I’m putting that game on hold for the time being and switching to another. After some consultation with the group, we’re going old school. How old? A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

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That’s right, way back to the late 90’s with West End Games Star Wars RPG, aka ‘Bring a bucket of D6’s.” I spent a lot of time playing it as a kid, and it still gives me that warm glow of nostalgia. First thoughts are how retro the book looks (That now ancient 2 column format combined with the cheesily photoshopped advertisements), but that’s kinda charming these days. The system has it’s quirks and things that are of their time (I have vauge memories of trying to use the Force at higher levels and rolling huge numbers of dice), but I’ve still got a lot of love for it. It was the first RPG I purchased after all, with an almost complete set of books for it sitting on the shelf and those few I don’t have are at the D6 Holocron. I was contemplating messing with the skills slightly (Merging the combat and parry skills mostly), but I think I’ll leave alone for the time being and see how it goes in play.

I’m really looking forward to the game, having gotten the itch to play Star Wars again after Rogue One. Different reaction to Force Awakens, which left me both grieving and with a whole load of questions to be answered (What happened post Jedi? Whats the current political situation? Who are the Knights of Ren?) while Rogue One made me want to pick up the dice (And blow stuff up). Therefore, the campaign is based around Rebel Alliance Special Operations, or as one of my players put it, the A-Team in space. I’m starting to write up details and plan ahead, but really I’m just hoping I can avoid the mistakes that plauged the last game. Mind you, I’d settle for not being in a blind panic writing adventures at the last minute. Granted, some of my best work has resulted from that, but it’s an approach I try not to take too regularly.

So, another game on the way. A band of Rebel misfits, out to steal from, cause chaos for and bring down the Empire, preferably with a lot of explosions. By the Force I’m looking forward to this, even if one player’s character is a Force sensitive Jawa who’s learning from having read the journal Obi-Wan Kenobi left for Luke Skywalker (He didn’t steal it, just read it) and another’s is Arnold Schwazenegger’s character in Commando, but Mon Calamari. My players…

“Let the following commence!”

My players see it as a badge of honour when I stop the game to write down something they’ve said. I am pleased with this.

Monday night saw the return of Team (Almost All) Dual Wield! Sadly it also saw me spend a lot of the game trying not to cough up a lung (Something I’m still doing), so this recap will likely be shorter than normal. If I’ve missed anything, I apologise to my players and ask them to please help me fill in the gaps.

Having just had a group of young nobles pointed out to them by the barman, a conversation was struck up, and it seems as if the Black Star thieves was a small scale smuggling network for a group of rich patrons*. They may have known the missing noble who might have started this, Denius, who seemed changed when they last saw him. They swiftly vanished, which led to the Rogue getting the Wizard and Ranger (now called Team Drunk) to watch the bar and look for anything strange (Having given them some coin), and the Fighter (Now called Team Door) to watch both the door (Which went nowhere but side to side) and Team Drunk  to make sure they (AKA the wizard) didn’t burn the place down. The Rogue  put in a call to find the Paladin’s sister (AKA his secret identity) and Team Sneak were on their way! While they were tracking the nobles (Who’d attempted  to disguise themselves under cloaks), the Wizard and Ranger got roaringly drunk on booze and cheese (Actual cheese, not booze cheese. Though that’s an idea now that I think of it…) Both their players may have been on sugar highs thanks to the pineapple concoctions they were drinking which may have affected things, but I’m sure something strange would have happened regardless.

A drunken request at the bar for some Justice was put in, and shortly after a familiar member of the Watch, Sergeant Gounar, appeared. A by now very drunken wizard (He’s a Gnome and beer comes in pints) may have accidentally started to cast something, only for the Sergeant to pick him up and aim him out of the window at which point Team Sneak felt something of a disturbance in the Force. Team Drunk were gently escorted to the local drunk tank with a surprising minimum of fuss. Handcuffs were broken, though the cell bars weren’t and cheese was thrown at other inhabitants. Mercifully everyone was in seperate cells at that stage. The Fighter collected a claim ticket for them, and will hopefully return in the morning to collect them, giving the Ranger time to throw more cheese in the by now sleeping Wizard’s mouth. Also, the Ranger might have cast the spell to find her Animal Companion. (Actually, that might have happened in the bar, but things are blurry.)

Returning to Team Sneak, they followed the nobles to a warehouse in the Sea Ward of the city, and having failed to fully observe the secret knock, Batman’d it up the side of the building** and observed through a convenient skylight. An argument ensued between the nobles, with some concerned about what they’d gotten into. They were proved right when the one with the most bass in his voice (AKA the leader) proceeded to stab the lead doubter in the throat. At that, confusion reigned, and a discussion about intervening between the Rogue and Paladin led to them being spotted and dramatically bursting through skylights*** into battle! Things went better for the  Rogue, at least at first, with some Flynning from the Paladin. Stabbings ensued, Persuasion rolls were made (With the Rogue failing one so badly that the leader didn’t think they’d kill him – it was that sort of a night) but eventually they prevailed.

More conversation ensued, with it being revealed that the smugglers were infact working for the nobles, bringing in luxuries and small contraband. They’d also heard of the missing noble, saying he was acting strangely. The dance of bargaining for their lives continued, with the leader about to rat them out when all of a sudden – *CLIFFHANGER SCREAM*

A slightly odd set of cliffhangers- conversation, cheese throwing and snoring, but it seemed to go well. I’m still getting used to a city based investigative campaign, but my players make all my nerves worth it. They’re an incredibly fun bunch to run for. Plots are coming to a head, and a confrontation seems soon to take place! *crashing chord* Will they meet the mysterious missing noble? Will they find out who their even more mysterious patron is? Will the wizard have to take another bath? Tune in to find out!

*Names were mixed up and things were slightly rewound, leading to the first Doctor Strange reference of the night.

**Sadly a minor celebrity didn’t poke their head out of a window. Probably a good thing as they would have been rumbled.

*** Yes, there was the faint sound of a Eagle. I’ve been replaying Black Flag recently.

By Crom, Ymir and Set!

So, been quiet for a bit. Unexpected but welcome employment has meant I didn’t run D&D last week. Have no fear, Team (Almost All) Dual Wield will return Monday night! Been tired and sore, but punching the clock at 5’oclock and not having to think about work anymore is a glorious feeling. Also, money. Outside that, there’s been more thinking on Hyborian Tales. What do I hope to achieve with it, why am I doing this?

So I can run an event that allows me to share my love of Robert E Howard’s work, possibly even a type of event that hasn’t been done here before (Or if it has, I haven’t heard about it – I’m not omniscient). I first heard about HT around 2006, and have been reading Howard since the early 2000’s, so I’ve been wanting to take part in an event like this for a long time. Given it last ran in the UK in 2008, playing’s not really an option, which means running it. Getting permission from the original creator went a long way towards that, but now the real work begins. It’s going to be a lot of work, but by Crom, I want to put that work in. Even if it falls down in a heap, I want to run this. I love the stories and the system, and want to share that with people.

He shrugged his shoulders. “I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”
Queen of the Black Coast

The game originally ran as a weekend event, with three short adventures (Play 1, crew 2) and 2 communal tavern nights. The idea is to run day games at first with 1, maybe 2, adventures, but I hope to run weekenders in the future. Crawl before you walk and all. My Lovely and Talented Wife has volunteered to work on logistics (An area of game prep I lack skill in) which has freed my brain up a lot. As before, any offers of help/expressions of interest as welcome.

So, curious and want to know more?

Souce material wise, there’s no better place to start than Howard’s original stories. Collected volumes of the Conan stories can be easily found in bookstores and online. I recommend the following stories to start with:
The Phoenix on the Sword.
Queen of the Black Coast.

Beyond the Black River.
The Hour of the Dragon.
Rogues in the House.
It was hard not to nominate The Tower of the Elephant, The Scarlet Citadel or The People of the Black Circle. but when you have to narrow things down, hard choices have to be made. As for other Howard work, Worms of the Earth, The Shadow of the Vulture (Starring Red Sonya of Rogatino, which inspired Roy Thomas to create the chain mail bikini wearing version) and Red Shadows (The first Solomon Kane story) are well worth reading, especially Worms. If the book has L Sprague De Camp mentioned anywhere as author, then it’s probably been edited by him. Don’t touch them. De Camp both re-edited Howard’s tales to form an extended canon and re-wrote non-Conan work as Conan stories. Points to him for keeping the stories in print, but those points are then lost for keeping the originals out of print for so many years. I’ve not read much of other author’s attempts at Conan work – the only one that comes to mind is Robert Jordan’s novelisation of Conan the Destroyer, and remember it being almost as wretched as the film.

“Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,” the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. “Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.”
Beyond the Black River

As for the films, I adore 1982’s Conan the Barbarian, despite it’s many faults.* It’s Conan is thick-headed, slow witted and lacking the literary version’s pantherish speed and cunning, but the atmosphere and score more than make up for that. It’s nigh impossible for me to hear Anvil of Crom and not want a sword in my hand. As for it’s sequel, Conan the Destroyer, it’s a wretched piece of dumbed down garbage that makes a mockery of the character and the audience, the score being one of it’s few saving graces.** Moving to 2011’s Conan the Barbarian, starring Jason ‘Khal Drogo’ Momoa, it deserved better. Momoa did a fine job with what he had and if they could have cropped the ‘revenge for the death of his family’ subplot that was never in the original stories, it might have been better. I’d hoped he’d get another shot, but with Arnold apparently set to reprise the role, that seems to have been abandoned. Plus, bonus Ron Perlman. As for the TV series Conan the Adventurer, well, I own the box set but haven’t been able bring myself to watch further than the pilot.

“Aye,” he growled, “I am a Pict, a son of those warriors who drove your brutish ancestors before them like chaff before the storm!–who flooded the land with your blood and heaped high your skulls for a sacrifice to the Moon-Woman! You who fled of old before my race, dare ye now snarl at your master? Roll on me like a flood now, if ye dare! Before your viper fangs drink my life I will reap your multitudes like ripened barley–of your severed heads will I build a tower and of your mangled corpses will I rear up a wall! Dogs of the dark, vermin of Hell, worms of the earth, rush in and try my steel! When Death finds me in this dark cavern, your living will howl for the scores of your dead and your Black Stone will be lost to you forever–for only I know where it is hidden and not all the tortures of all the Hells can wring the secret from my lips!”
Worms of the Earth

Turning to gaming, Mongoose’s now out of print D20 game was frequently fantastic despite being D20, though the border art made them uncomfortable to read in public, especially the 2nd edition books. (Ian Sturrock, the original Hyborian Tales author, wrote the rulebook.) I’ve not been able to find copies of either the TSR Conan RPG or the GURPS sourcebook, but I’ve heard decent things. As for upcoming games, the free quickstart for the new Conan RPG seems interesting, but I’m not a fan of the system so much. Given the calibre of the people involved though I’m more than willing to give it a shot.

The clangor of the swords had died away, the shouting of the slaughter was hushed; silence lay on the red-stained snow. The bleak pale sun that glittered so blindingly from the ice-fields and the snow-covered plains struck sheens of silver from rent corselet and broken blade, where the dead lay as they had fallen. The nerveless hand yet gripped the broken hilt; helmeted heads back-drawn in the death-throes, tilted red beards and golden beards grimly upward, as if in last invocation to Ymir the frost-giant, god of a warrior-race.
The Frost Giant’s Daughter

As for other films that capture a Howard-esque atmosphere, the likes of The 13th Warrior The Sword and the Sorcerer, John Carter and Solomon Kane (Based on the Howard character) all have their moments, especially James Purefoy’s performance in Kane, if only to contrast against his scenery chewing in Carter. Then again, you could say I’m not a fair judge, given I own both the first two D&D movies and The Scorpion King 3. It’s an awful film, but has Ron Perlman in a mullet wig. Yes, I’m easily amused. You didn’t already know that? I’m aware given my track record for games that any attempt at something grim and bloody will turn out more like an 80’s B-movies, but I think I’ll be OK with that. As with my tabletops, so slong as the players enjoy themselves, I’m fine.

“Dead!” he muttered.

Slowly he rose, mechanically wiping his hands upon his cloak. A dark scowl had settled on his somber brow. Yet he made no wild, reckless vow, swore no oath by saints or devils.
“Men shall die for this,” he said coldly.
Red Shadows

So yeah. Those stories lit a fire in me like few other things and the chance to base a LARP event around them has me keen. As I’ve said, it’ll be a lot of work, but I want to do this. Finding a venue, writing adventures, props, costume, weaponry, briefings. It’s all stuff that’s new to me (I’ve only written tabletop games before) and it’s pretty damn daunting.  But, no effort, no game. So, it’s gotta be done. Time to do what I’ve been talking about…

“A kiss?” she cried hysterically. “You think of kisses at a time like this?”
His laughter boomed above the snap and thunder of the sails, as he caught her up off her feet in the crook of one mighty arm, and smacked her red lips with resounding relish.
“I think of Life!” he roared. “The dead are dead, and what has passed is done! I have a ship and a fighting crew and a girl with lips like wine, and that’s all I ever asked. Lick your wounds, bullies, and break out a cask of ale. You’re going to work ship as she never was worked before. Dance and sing while you buckle to it, damn you! To the devil with empty seas! We’re bound for waters where the seaports are fat, and the merchant ships are crammed with plunder!”
The Pool of the Black One

Well, for now. Must dash – have to go pretend to be a robot spaceship captain!

*The toast I gave at my wedding was ‘To what is best in life!’ Thinking back on hearing my family repeating that continues to bring me great joy.
**I use it as a motivational tool when cleaning the house – when the house is clean I can turn the movie off.

Oh. Oh smeg.

So, that big piece of election related news. Best summed up on the latest Have I Got News For You, “In this news this week, AAAAARRRRGGGGGRGHHHHH!

This has… somewhat impacted on the plans for the post apocalypse event I’ve been working on. It’s kinda hard to write about one when an actual apocalypse seems creepily imminent. After all, when a climate change denying, pollution encouraging, tax cheating, serial sexual harasser has just been elected the most powerful man in the world, it’s not as easy to write about a post-apocalyptic future when the world seems genuinely at risk. It’s also meant I’m not offering Fair and Balanced to an upcoming Canberra con and will hopefully also stop people asking me for a sequel to that game. (I know it’s too much to ask but I can hope right?)

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So, I’ve put it aside for a bit. Not completely, as I’ve put both too much work into it and the idea of Drop Bears in a LARP setting is just too damn funny to me. But every time I’ve tried to write more on it I find up wanting to put my head through the monitor, which combined with the illness that has kept me from sleeping well the last few weeks, has meant it’s been far from a productive environment. My Lovely and Talented Wife (She who makes things better) has suggested it’s the perfect time to keep working on it, as it’s about a frontier group setting out to make things better, to learn from the mistakes of the past and as usual, she’s right. So I’ve not abandoned it completely, just till when it feels a bit less like the actual future. Hopefully just a week or two, but given the news out of America, it might be a while longer.

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So, I’m more working on my D&D campaign (More organisation on that is sorely needed) and a possible Feng Shui game for an upcoming event. Nothing much else to report, but I did find the USB with my most recent notes on it and while that’s not much of a victory, I’ll take any I can get at the moment.

Abruptly switching topics to the first piece of good news I’ve had of late (Outside of a pun run in the latest episode of  The Bugle), I got permission to use the Hyborian Tales rules set from its author. To say I was nervous about both sending and reading the message was an understatement, but I’m really happy about it. That’s a slightly more long term prospect, given it’ll require more work and, in all likelihood, attract a smaller player base. The latter’s not a deal breaker, given it was set for around 20 people max (6 players, the rest crewing). But it’ll allow me to indulge in my love of all things REH and put on an event (hopefully) different enough from the others in my neck of the woods. I can’t promise it’ll happen anytime soon, but it’s been something I’ve been itching to do for years and having it be this close makes me incredibly happy. If you’d like to be involved, whether playing or crewing, then please leave a comment.

“Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars – Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.
The Nemedian Chronicles

Fun Fact: R Cobb is Ron Cobb, who did design work for such films as Aliens, The Last Starfighter and Conan the Barbarian. And according to his website he lives in Sydney, which means I have some stalking to do!