Sunday, 27 November 2016

30 years ago...

I bought and played Blood Bowl a LOT.
                                                                                                                             

How could I not? In 1986 I was into games and heavily into playing and watching Gridiron (American Football) so it seemed like a match made in heaven. Probably the first non 'realistic' football game of any sort (Troll Ball was never really a proper game - just an offshoot of Runequest - which we played a lot) and was good, good fun. 

Moving to Aussie land and having on tap dry skateparks and surf on the doorstep stopped ALL gaming for many a year. Moving back here eventually saw me trying to play in the local games club league, but alas I was not up with the power creep and tended to get wellied every game no matter what 'help' was put into place. SO I moved on... Dreadball, Kaos Ball, Guild Ball and every other ball inbetween (including a few of my own published rugby and football games). 

But then damned GW specialist games dept wanted to make money and bought it back... And obviously sucked me straight back in...


Only the one game I said, easy to put together and play I said - nothing to obsess about I said... The writing was on the wall of the stadium and wasn't coming off...

Looks pretty though and is all you need to get into it in one hit at a league level (so long as someone buys the 'season book' with the league rules .... Ooops did that too). Orcs and Humans included with pretty plastic rulers and templates this time - certainly the 'shiney' factor is there in force.


So the weekend came and there was an event live from GW HQ live on Twitch... May as well watch a game I said, oooo may as well pick up the free App for the Ipad I said, may as well get the add on rules and season bundle for the App I said. May as well spend most of the weekend giggling away to the games commentary it seems!

I have always liked a slightly chaotic, spur of the moment, high risk taking kind of team, who can hurl the long bomb and do the glitzy runs. Neither the Humans or the Orcs or the Skavens are really suited (maybe the rats who knows) but Wood Elves seemed to be (also a good excuse to have a female called Tauriel surely). BUT wood elves are not to be found unless one parts with 188 quid on a 1998 set of casts - mmmmm maybe not. But the seed was there and about to grow into major oaken obsessions. Only one thing for it - full scale conversions!  Scouring the GW site (as I may as well make sure they are GW in case I ever need to play in a comp) there was not really looking like anything suitable. UNTIL....
Yep Sylvaneth dryads popped up, enough in a starter set for a good converted team I said, quite cheap really I said... Oh how weak !

So I will keep you up to date with the progress of the conversions. I have decided to take my time with these and try and make each player different. Wish me luck, hopefully I will still like the game !


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Onto Phandalin and beyond... D&D part II

Monday night saw our second D&D session take place - for those too lazy to read the previous post the intrepid party consists of:

Stewie (a High Elf Mage) 
Stewie is everything you would expect from a High Elf adept of the arcane arts who :

  • Has never been out of the 'University' campus (since he went there as a youngster) for longer than about 5 minutes at a time and then only in search of a new strain of tea from the Twinningle shop on the corner. 
  • Socialises mainly with, himself and one or two other 'profs' in the Department of Theoretical Magic - apart from when forced to address the wizard apprentices by the threat of having his tea with-held...
  • Sees the outside world, and anyone in it, as either - an embarrassment to Elven kind, an annoyance, a real annoyance, someone to do mundane stuff for him, someone to make tea and usually all of the above at once!
  • Has been sent out to learn more about the world - or as  it is widely believed - to get him out the way for a bit.



K'Gar (a Dwarf Cleric) 
K'Gar is a complex character in a way - in that way that is hard to intertwine his clerical beliefs with a nagging desire to - well how shall we put this... Kill stuff, so long as it is evil that is. However, the problem that people come across is that they do not actually know what the slightly grumpy dwarf thinks of as evil !

Apparently at the moment he wants to meet up with his cousins to check on their well being... or if they have the money he lent them out of the temple restoration fund !


Dobby (a Halfling rogue)
Apparently named after his mother's favourite book character Dobby had a long and hard 60 years childhood. Always being at the end of everyone's jokes took its toll and in adolescent years he fell into various gangs. Alas he didn't find life much easier and eventually even fell foul of the leader of the gang... Humiliation and his attempted murder followed and he fled... Only to plot his return and his revenge.






Ronan (a human sell-sword/fighter)
Few things in life are as important to Ronan as fighting, well, maybe wealth, certainly ale, possibly women and most definitely his sharpening stone. But, I think the reader gets the idea. 

Brought up in the slums of Neverwinter he fought his way out of poverty but is immensely proud of his humble origins - and not very tolerant of those who aren't.











As the astute reader can tell the group are a perfect match for each other - so long as the dating algorithm that came up with this also states Donald and Hillary are a match up made in heaven with a long and happy married life stretching ahead of them!

========================================================================

On their way to Phandalin (to deliver some supplies) the group had already fought a goblin horde (sort of) rescued a man called Sildar who has a secret handshake (or a twitch - they don't know which at this point) and are heading to Phandalin with a certain amount of confidence, and dare one imply, cockiness.    

First off was a stop at Gimore's Glorious Goods where they dropped off their cargo, discovered it's not a good idea to let Stewie talk to people (after he inadvertently appeared to make a date with Victor Gilmore), K'Gar found out some useful information, Ronan sharpened his sword in the corner (whether this is menacing or creepy is something the jury is still out on) and Dobby almost got caught shoplifting and showed his kleptomaniac tendencies. 

The rest of the day seemed to involve information gathering by various means and Dobby almost getting recognised a few times. After discovering their patron (Gundren Rockseeker) had been taken to Cragmar Castle by the goblins and there was  druid living out in some ruins a day's ride north-east would know where it was the group decided to head off to ask him. Not before being roped into promising to  rid the town of the Redbrand gang of thugs (complete with required mysterious leader) and get some information from a local Banshee called Agatha (who was Stewie assured them not going to be a real banshee but more of a hag - the group were pretty sure he was unaware of what either of these actually were). Highlight of the parties first night there were the bar-maid and party trying to explain to the elf how a  'sexual affair' actually worked... he has had a sheltered life!

Agatha did indeed turn out to be a Banshee - one however, who was actually beguiled by the party (apart from Ronan who was champing at the bit to kill it) and gave them the information they needed. They did however not really believe in themselves and made a hasty retreat without searching her cave... Never mind eh chaps?

Next stop was the old ruins and the search for the Druid. Not even the hand written 'Dangerous fiends - keep out' which Stewie argued grammatically meant that only 'dangerous fiends' had to keep out, stopped them. Well actually they sent the Halfling ahead to find out what was in the ruined keep and tower. About thirty seconds later he was hurtling out as fast as his little legs could carry him, followed by a herd of zombies...
Well Ronan and K'Gar don't have to be asked twice, let alone thrice, and it was on! There were rather more than they anticipated and there were a few hairy moments in the combat. But good old bludgeoning and a few spells ensued 

and eventually they were all dispatched. Having done the business the party were sure there must be something of value around and yet again sent the halfing in to have a look in the ruined tower, even if it did half two half eaten giant spiders hanging down the side of it!

Creeping up the overgrown, spiral, stone steps Dobby reached a locked door, silently picking the lock he pushed the door ajar to see a... sleeping, young Green Dragon. 

Dobby (after nearly soiling his breaches - and that was Rhys) slammed the door shut and started to run... Yep that was right dear reader SLAMMED - numerous shouts and kicks at him resounded as he had to make a stealth check to see if the baby waby dragon was awakened. A 1 was rolled - yep it really was a SLAM. Then inspiration hit (literally in this case as the gold choccy inspiration coin was hurled across the table) and a reroll was made, this time an 18. 

SO REWIND.... Dobby saw the sleeping dragon, panic ensued, he shoved the door shut but luckily the dust and grime from a hundred years softened the impact and he set off almost noiselessly - after all the dragon was full of giant spider and needed to catch up on a few days sleep. 

Greed and adrenalin fought a battle with common sense and for once common sense was the victor and the party decided to withdraw and not take on the dragon (how they persuaded Ronan is a matter of privacy - what happens in the dragon's tower stays in the dragon's tower broh).

Hiding in the wood they were contacted by an aging druid who wished to warn them about the dragon and zombies! It appeared Reinorth the druid seemed to have been on a two year search for the perfect herbal crop! So, as they found, talking to him and understanding the answer was a matter which required a lot of patience. In the end they did get to location of Cragmaw Castle out of him and also found out he was hanging around as the dragon had used his 'best crop ever' as nesting material and he was waiting to find a way of getting it back. Now, this 'erb could have just been the stuff the party needed to lace the Redbrand's ale with - but alas we will not find out as they bid him farewell and headed back to Phandalin.

So all in all a good night (or week in their case) was had, lots achieved, some opportunities missed but hey they have some good plans up their sleevies... Until next time, roll well and don't let the goblins bite! 

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Worlds Collide...


Two gamer friends (and sprog) collide with two non gamer friends for a game of Dungeons of Dragons (my first DMing since 1978) ; what could possibly go wrong?

Well, actually nothing... shock horror.

All the pressure was taken off the players (even Shaun and Steve had not played for a long, long time) by using the starter set pre-generated characters. Useful as they have all the info, including background, likes, oddities that they needed to play their characters. Possibly not as much fun as designing a character ground up but is brilliant for the intro to the game and the backgrounds include things that are going to impact in the campaign.

So we had Steve as a stuck up elven wizard who is resentful as he has been sent outside of the 'university' and has to actually have indulge in social interaction which doesn't include, 'Bring me some tea boy' ; Shaun as a dwarf cleric with an attitude, Craig as a human 'royal' who is learning to be a fighter to impress his dad, Rhys who is using a Halfling Rogue with a dark secret and my neighbour Ayer who was Ronan the human commoner who is good with a sword (which he liked to sharpen far, far too much) and a longbow.

Role playing for me is all about the role playing. I get bored easily when the action is, 'it moves over there', 'I hit the monster', 'it takes 4 damage, your go xxx' and especially the 'it dies' ending to the combat. I want voices, conversation and narrative description to the action. Sometimes it takes a while for people to embrace it but I haven't found anyone who hasn't yet. Also the action should flow with as little time looking up stuff and working stuff out as possible, I never have been a rules lawyer and getting flow is far more important to me in a rpg setting. I would like to think that this helps new players as they can concentrate on what the characters are doing and not how the rules are letting them do it.


Taverns (without any brawls disappointingly), roads, wolves and traps latter the party were ready to face their first real challenge - rescuing their benefactor from a lair of goblins, led by a bugbear called Klarg. By now they were pretty cocky having seen off some goblins and wolves pretty easily. In fact it all started well - a kennel full of wolves were dispatched (yes, yes I know - they could have befriended/tamed one etc but hey, they are newbies and getting their head around that in this universe, at least, they can go around killing people who piss them off !) and the dwarf even noticed a secret passage - while the magic user was trying to figure out what time period and by whom the door was made by!

Anyway, the back passage led up to Klargs main chamber (avoiding 98% of the rest of the dungeon) and for once the party tried talking to the bugbear. Might have been a mistake letting a stuck up, verbose, elven magic user try and negotiate a trade BUT hey, live and learn (Steve rolling a 2 probably didn't help). So it was on, bugbear, pet wolf and 4 goblins versus the party! Cockiness and enthusiasm evaporated when suddenly the wolf ripped out a chunk of Dave the fighter's throat, an archer took Stewie the elf down to near death and the others managed to miss and take wounds for the first time in the night!

Cleric heal spell latter and Dave was on his feet and swiping at the wolf - who was now incensed with Dobbi the Halfling who had speared him up the butt ! Swinging an axe near to a friend after just being bought back from near death proved near fatal (apart from a save roll) for Dobbi as he just managed to jump out the way of the wild (rolled a 1) miss !

But, eventually equilibrium in the party force was restored and they managed to pop off the goblin and bugbear. Now, it didn't seem to occur to the party that although they couldn't see around the massive corner next to the underground lake that there might be more gobbos awaiting the chance to get them! So they settled down for a rest and in Ayers case, a sword sharpen (pretty sure it's a euphemism) only to be disturbed by a shrieking voice getting closer "boss, boss, boss... somethings killed the wolves!"

Shock followed by inspiration ensued but let's summarise is thus...


  • Stewie, as a bolt of inspiration hit dead centre, used an illusion to pretend to be the bugbear shouting at the gobbo.
  • A 19 on Stews part and a 1 on the gobbo roll meant that the illusion/deception worked.
  • Stew/Klarg then told the gobbo to take everyone 3 miles north into the mountains and damn well get some more wolves before he ate them all!
Yep, the story line sometimes goes unexpected...

Lair searched, companion of their benefactor found, information gleaned and a bit of treasure resulted in LEVEL 2 all round and a good close to the evening !

Hopefully I did alright, the party were brilliant and Ayer enjoyed the descriptions of his kills immensely - usually having to go off and sharpen his sword afterwards... bring on the next evening.