Saturday, 29 October 2016

Inspiration and advantage...

Wednesday sees my first foray into DMing D&D for over thirty years. Teaching can be like being a DM for a job and I am sure it will help, weaving a tale together for a group. Dungeons and Dragons was a massive part of my life during the 70's. My good friends were all nerds/geeks before it was trendy to be one. I ran the line between geek and jock without even realising it I suppose. Days belonged to sport but nights belonged to D&D.

It all started when someones dad bought back the original Chainmail and D&D expansion back from the states... We were hooked from the start and I ran the very first adventure, made up basically as we went along - I had a vague story in my head and we played it out. It ended I remember with the very beat up party running away from the dungeon door, I made them plot a line on a map about where they were running and then overlaid my map - yep they ran straight over the pit trap!

This set the scene for years of nightly adventure with a couple of us (out of five regulars) taking it in turns to run adventures. We basically (well my BF Woody anyway) kept Asgard miniatures in business, bi-weekly trips to Nottingham skateboarding at the Malibu Dog Bowl linked with a visit to the Asgard shop. In the end we ended up making all our characters from scratch with milli-put. We were geeks ahead of our time and even used artist acrylics and washes before it was widely accepted - mainly as those were what we could get from the local college art shop.

70's Asgard Dwarf

Mrs. Wood was a heroine in those days, not only did her front room become our exclusive gaming room at least 5 times a week ( I certainly spent more time in that room than at home by FAR) but she provided snacks and milky coffee a couple of times a night without fail.

Asgard Bard

Asgard Wizard
I remember the early days of dungeoneering where we had to map the dungeon as we went on (as the floor tiles disappeared as we left sight of them - so it was easy to actually get lost! My favourite two characters that lasted a fair few adventures each were a barbarian fighter and a Druid who was a pacifist and befriended a 'rust monster' which screwed most armed things we ever came across!

We rolled out of D&D about when the mass army rules (Warhammer prerunner) appeared and we discovered Runequest, Traveller and then Bushido (in Uni holidays). But D&D was always my favourite really.

I tried to get back into it (played a starter set with my daughters at some point I remember as they loved the Hobbit book) but played at our local club in London about 3-4 edition (Jon had melded them in 3.5 lol). BUT the fact a 10 goblin encounter took us all night with the micro management, modifier hell that it came to be... I felt it was a detailed skirmish game at that point, not a RPG, so I WAS OUT.

I came across Critical Role about 6 weeks ago and that was it - this 5th ED was D&D as I remember it... ROLE PLAYING  - I was back in !

I think it is the advantage/disadvantage mechanic coupled with the inspiration mechanic which has bought it back. My next entry will explore these in detail, but now I am off to paint up those adventurers !

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

May I interest you in some literature? The Monk's tale...

Chapter One – A new hope…

Jolting and bobbling along the long neglected road, in the back of a beaten up cart, the passengers had an increasingly tightening knot in each of their stomachs and the feeling that they had been duped. If the malnourished shire horse could have spoken (and let’s face it with the amount of Drow magic still in the air that was a possibility) it would have said something philosophical like, “You suckers…”

As it was, it just passed the occasional bit of wind and looked very forlorn – its brain had hoped it was going to be a one-way journey from the city, not a return. Thundera’s city gates loomed out of the mist as they crested the top of a brier strewn hill and the passengers (all five of them) perked up slightly – about the same as if a moulding piece of meat had just been pushed under the nose of a starving vegetarian druid. Sin’dori (a wood elf ranger) was. at least. being positive, the journey hadn’t been too bad… Well ok he had been read to by the weird orange robed wood elf the ENTIRE journey but, if truth be known, he hadn’t really listened and the occasional nod of the head or grunt had appeared to keep the monk happy. However, any perkiness gleaned from the rise of the gate towers out of the morning mist disappeared quicker than a halfling asked to tidy up after a party as the towers appeared to be half scolded and in ruin and the mist, well, it turned out to be smoke.

You see all the passengers had come to Thundera (‘the wonder city of the north’) having been promised that it was a newly built city, full of wondrous opportunities – the start of a new life.  As Paulos Welleros (the famed bard of note) was to write after being similarly convinced that the new city was the place to go:
‘Our nice new town where the shutters are drawn
Where hope is started and dreams can be borne
Boys on the corner looking for their supper
Boys 'round the green looking for some slaughter
We used to chase dreams, now we chase the dragon
Mine is the ruin with the flag on
In our paradise lost we'll be finding our sanity
In this paradise found we'll be losing our way
For a brave new day
May I slash my wrists tonight?
This fine chaotic night
I was looking for a job so I came to town
I easily adopt when the chips are down
I read the ad about the private schemes
I liked the idea of Thundera
But now I am about to Chundera’


So after a brief toilet break (against the city’s crumbling wall) and a delay while the monk (Saru was the odd chaps name) handed out some more mini-scrolls to anyone within reach, the motley group was escorted to a local tavern where they were to wait for their host. Scuttling away, mini-scroll in hand, the escort mumbled something about helping oneself to beer (well, the exact words were, ‘swill as much grog as you like, you’ll need it and no one gives a crap’) which again elevated the groups spirits. It may, dear reader, be apparent by now that it didn’t take much to lift this group of misfits spirits. Even when it appeared that the only ‘grog’ left was a few bottles of vinegar (that could, or could not, have been at one time been some sort of wine) and a keg of ale, which worryingly seemed to slop from side to side in a very slow manner, the manner in which only very thick, and often very off, liquid seems to. Not that that slowed the dragon-borne barbarian (Zrayax) or the monk (Saru) down much and it was soon suggested that they look downstairs for some more sustenance.

Two kegs were located by a wood elf magic user (Damakos) and Zrayax. Seeing the ease with which the barbarian lifted the keg onto his shoulder Damakos felt a warm proud feeling emanating in his midriff (although to be fair it could have been the near three solid jugs of ale he had just quaffed) as he too hefted the keg onto his shoulder with ease. Like all good things it came to pass half way up the stairs when the Zrayax, whom we can only presume had been formulating this sentence in his head for the last 10 yards, asked,
“why the drow are you taking an empty keg up?”

A sigh, a curse, a reddening of the cheeks took place as Damakos tossed the keg off his shoulder in disgust – straight onto Zrayax’s shaven noggin, who was of course right behind him. Now, the thump on the head may not have even registered if Zrayax had not – lost his footing, gone bouncing down the steep set of stone cellar steps (cracking a couple as his head thudded off them) landed splayed out at the bottom only to be hit in -the region barbarians seem immensely proud of- by a full keg of ale!

Game wise this was hilarious and it should be written for prosperity that this was the MOST damage the wood elf wizard was going to deal out all night, be it by magic or by weapon.

Eventually the ‘host’ appeared and tried to, not so successfully now they had seen the place, ‘big’ up Thundera but this time adding the new arrivals could be part of this new venture. Indeed, it appeared they were Thundera’s ‘last hope’ as the place was over-run by brigands, ruffians and neer do wells – as well as having a ‘rat’ problem!

What were the newly bonded group to do? Having spent most of their life savings actually getting here they seemed to have little choice but to oblige and help make the town great !

At least, mentioned the monk, there would be lots of depressed people looking for ‘The WAY’ – and he had lots of mini scrolls left!

Chapter 2 Return of the Duchess…

Mundane work was easy to find but things hotted up for our intrepid group (dare we now call them adventurers?) after the local blacksmith contracted them to recover his stolen tools from a group of ruffians holed up in a cave. Getting to the cave, in a poor excuse for a crag, just outside the city walls took about 20 minutes – 2o minutes of bickering between Zrayax and… well everyone really. Apparently it wasn’t the ‘done’ thing to reach up and pet him on the head or try to get him to play ‘fetch’.

To help you, dearest reader, to get on with your life the following encounter can be summarised thus – Saru walked into the cave, “Afternoon men of gentle persuasion can I interest you dick-heads in some literature…” This was in fact a cunning plan to get them to run out into the open as the main muscle of the group (the barbarian) appeared to lack any ability to see in the dark (although it is rumoured he did eat 8 sacks of carrots a while back to try and rectify this – but only ended up getting teased for being from Ess Sics where the locals smear mud on themselves to appear a golden brown colour). 

Needless to say the plan worked, the dwarf and dragon-borne barbarian smashed some heads, the ranger elf split some eye sockets with arrows, the monk handed out some mini scrolls, the wood elf cleric they had inherited from the local goal as a guide had spread some pain about and the elf magic user managed to make a couple of brigands feel slightly tingly and hot, akin to being in a nice bath.

After an uneventful trip back the smithy’s gratitude was somewhat diminished when he saw the dwarf had dropped a crate of tools and broken it, the dwarf swears he wasn’t trying to throw it on the barbarian’s head for a giggle – but only he really knows.

After a peaceful night of slumber at the run down tavern (what goes on in the tavern stays in the tavern – although between you and me the barbarian was claiming coitus with the bar maid… the only problem being the bar maid was a bar man! Must have been the bump on the head) the group headed out to find the ‘Duchess’, whom it appeared needed to be rescued!

Thinking it sounded rather noble and suave to rescue such a woman of immense social standing the group set off to find out more information. Information was gleaned from a peculiar, colour obsessed man (this is at this point in the adventure mere speculation) who was the local tailor. Duchess had a dress ready to collect but had last been seen being carted off by a group of odd looking hairy beasts who were, it appeared, making a bad job of hiding their tails.

Well, what can be said about this little joint into the house to rescue the Duchess?

·      'Duchess' was, it appeared, her ‘working’ name, and she had lots of ‘daughters’ – all of whom appeared to work hard too!
·      She had no idea why the rat like humanoids had kidnapped her and as there were non left no-one is probably ever going to be any the wiser.
·      See the last bit of the point above – reading between the lines will point to the fact the party did quite well!
·      There was a little set-back – the monk’s parkour like somersault over the sewer channel to bounce off the wall and into a frenzy of bo (6’ staff) strikes on a horde of rats didn’t quite happen as planned. Unless the plan (and Saru maintains it was) was to dive head-first into the channel, so deep he was classed as being hidden, only SO he could mount a sneak attack and kill them!
Yep that is my original 70'd d20 !


So, the second day in the city, the new group of ‘heroes’ were already getting a name for themselves with the locals (no, we will not reveal what the name was) and night was drawing in… And, my most dear, reader it is there we leave the tales of our champions: until next time the scribe catches up with them anyways.

May I interest you in some literature? The Monk's tale...

Chapter One – A new hope…

Jolting and bobbling along the long neglected road, in the back of a beaten up cart, the passengers had an increasingly tightening knot in each of their stomachs and the feeling that they had been duped. If the malnourished shire horse could have spoken (and let’s face it with the amount of Drow magic still in the air that was a possibility) it would have said something philosophical like, “You suckers…”

As it was, it just passed the occasional bit of wind and looked very forlorn – its brain had hoped it was going to be a one-way journey from the city, not a return. Thundera’s city gates loomed out of the mist as they crested the top of a brier strewn hill and the passengers (all six of them) perked up slightly – about the same as if a moulding piece of meat had just been pushed under the nose of a starving vegetarian druid. Sin’dori (a wood elf ranger) was. at least. being positive, the journey hadn’t been too bad… Well ok he had been read to by the weird orange robed wood elf the ENTIRE journey but, if truth be known, he hadn’t really listened and the occasional nod of the head or grunt had appeared to keep the monk happy. However, any perkiness gleaned from the rise of the gate towers out of the morning mist disappeared quicker than a halfling asked to tidy up after a party as the towers appeared to be half scolded and in ruin and the mist, well, it turned out to be smoke.

You see all the passengers had come to Thundera (‘the wonder city of the north’) having been promised that it was a newly built city, full of wondrous opportunities – the start of a new life.  As Paulos Welleros (the famed bard of note) was to write after being similarly convinced that the new city was the place to go:
‘Our nice new town where the shutters are drawn
Where hope is started and dreams can be borne
Boys on the corner looking for their supper
Boys 'round the green looking for some slaughter
We used to chase dreams, now we chase the dragon
Mine is the ruin with the flag on
In our paradise lost we'll be finding our sanity
In this paradise found we'll be losing our way
For a brave new day
May I slash my wrists tonight?
This fine chaotic night
I was looking for a job so I came to town
I easily adopt when the chips are down
I read the ad about the private schemes
I liked the idea of Thundera
But now I am about to Chundera’


So after a brief toilet break (against the city’s crumbling wall) and a delay while the monk (Saru was the odd chaps name) handed out some more mini-scrolls to anyone within reach, the motley group was escorted to a local tavern where they were to wait for their host. Scuttling away, mini-scroll in hand, the escort mumbled something about helping oneself to beer (well, the exact words were, ‘swill as much grog as you like, you’ll need it and no one gives a crap’) which again elevated the groups spirits. It may, dear reader, be apparent by now that it didn’t take much to lift this group of misfits spirits. Even when it appeared that the only ‘grog’ left was a few bottles of vinegar (that could, or could not, have been at one time been some sort of wine) and a keg of ale, which worryingly seemed to slop from side to side in a very slow manner, the manner in which only very thick, and often very off, liquid seems to. Not that that slowed the dragon-borne barbarian (Zrayax) or the monk (Saru) down much and it was soon suggested that they look downstairs for some more sustenance.

Two kegs were located by a wood elf (xxxx) and Zrayax. Seeing the ease with which the barbarian lifted the keg onto his shoulder xxxx felt a warm proud feeling emanating in his midriff (although to be fair it could have been the near three solid jugs of ale he had just quaffed) as he too hefted the keg onto his shoulder with ease. Like all good things it came to pass half way up the stairs when the Zrayax, whom we can only presume had been formulating this sentence in his head for the last 10 yards, asked,
“why the drow are you taking an empty keg up?”

A sigh, a curse, a reddening of the cheeks took place as xxxx tossed the keg off his shoulder in disgust – straight onto Zrayax’s shaven noggin, who was of course right behind him. Now, the thump on the head may not have even registered if Zrayax had not – lost his footing, gone bouncing down the steep set of stone cellar steps (cracking a couple as his head thudded off them) landed splayed out at the bottom only to be hit in -the region barbarians seem immensely proud of- by a full keg of ale!

Game wise this was hilarious and it should be written for prosperity that this was the MOST damage the wood elf wizard was going to deal out all night, be it by magic or by weapon.

Eventually the ‘host’ appeared and tried to, not so successfully now they had seen the place, ‘big’ up Thundera but this time adding the new arrivals could be part of this new venture. Indeed, it appeared they were Thundera’s ‘last hope’ as the place was over-run by brigands, ruffians and neer do wells – as well as having a ‘rat’ problem!

What were the newly bonded group to do? Having spent most of their life savings actually getting here they seemed to have little choice but to oblige and help make the town great !

At least, mentioned the monk, there would be lots of depressed people looking for ‘The WAY’ – and he had lots of mini scrolls left!

Chapter 2 Return of the Duchess…

Mundane work was easy to find but things hotted up for our intrepid group (dare we now call them adventurers?) after the local blacksmith contracted them to recover his stolen tools from a group of ruffians holed up in a cave. Getting to the cave, in a poor excuse for a crag, just outside the city walls took about 20 minutes – 2o minutes of bickering between Zrayax and… well everyone really. Apparently it wasn’t the ‘done’ thing to reach up and pet him on the head or try to get him to play ‘fetch’.

To help you, dearest reader, to get on with your life the following encounter can be summarised thus – Saru walked into the cave, “Afternoon men of gentle persuasion can I interest you dick-heads in some literature…” This was in fact a cunning plan to get them to run out into the open as the main muscle of the group (the barbarian) appeared to lack any ability to see in the dark (although it is rumoured he did eat 8 sacks of carrots a while back to try and rectify this – but only ended up getting teased for being from Ess Sics where the locals smear mud on themselves to appear a golden brown colour). 

Needless to say the plan worked, the dwarf and dragon-borne barbarian smashed some heads, the ranger elf split some eye sockets with arrows, the monk handed out some mini scrolls, the undefined character they had inherited from the local goal as a guide had spread some pain about and the elf magic user managed to make a couple of brigands feel slightly tingly and hot, akin to being in a nice bath.

After an uneventful trip back the smithy’s gratitude was somewhat diminished when he saw the dwarf had dropped a crate of tools and broken it, the dwarf swears he wasn’t trying to throw it on the barbarian’s head for a giggle – but only he really knows.

After a peaceful night of slumber at the run down tavern (what goes on in the tavern stays in the tavern – although between you and me the barbarian was claiming coitus with the bar maid… the only problem being the bar maid was a bar man! Must have been the bump on the head) the group headed out to find the ‘Duchess’, whom it appeared needed to be rescued!

Thinking it sounded rather noble and suave to rescue such a woman of immense social standing the group set off to find out more information. Information was gleaned from a peculiar, colour obsessed man (this is at this point in the adventure mere speculation) who was the local tailor. Duchess had a dress ready to collect but had last been seen being carted off by a group of odd looking hairy beasts who were, it appeared, making a bad job of hiding their tails.

Well, what can be said about this little joint into the house to rescue the Duchess?

·      'Duchess' was, it appeared, her ‘working’ name, and she had lots of ‘daughters’ – all of whom appeared to work hard too!
·      She had no idea why the rat like humanoids had kidnapped her and as there were non left no-one is probably ever going to be any the wiser.
·      See the last bit of the point above – reading between the lines will point to the fact the party did quite well!
·      There was a little set-back – the monk’s parkour like somersault over the sewer channel to bounce off the wall and into a frenzy of bo (6’ staff) strikes on a horde of rats didn’t quite happen as planned. Unless the plan (and Saru maintains it was) was to dive head-first into the channel, so deep he was classed as being hidden, only SO he could mount a sneak attack and kill them!
Yep that is my original 70'd d20 !


So, the second day in the city, the new group of ‘heroes’ were already getting a name for themselves with the locals (no, we will not reveal what the name was) and night was drawing in… And, my most dear, reader it is there we leave the tales of our champions: until next time the scribe catches up with them anyways.