Saturday, July 21, 2018

Anniversaries - The Weekly Update - July 21, 2018

The White Horse; or Epona, if you will

Some benchmarks here at the Workbench, this weekend. This little confection of a blog is about a decade old; this particular edition is about half that, the first time around having fallen by the wayside due to external issues. We're still here, though, and planning on being so for a while yet if there's interest.

It's also the 28th anniversary of The Missus and I getting married; we'd been 'an item' since 1988, so it's - by our reckoning, anyway - thirty years we've been together. We've gone through a lot in that time, and literally saved each other's lives on a few occasions. We've seen lots of changes in the world go by, some of them good, some of them bad. We've managed to weather them all, despite her declining health, and we're still here in the same little house on the same quiet street that we set up our lives in all those years ago.

We've had to let go of a lot of our dreams, and adapt to the realities of what Fate has dealt us, but by and large I think we're pretty satisfied with how it all turned out. We never expected to become parents, for example, and certainly not for five pretty amazing young ladies; the hair is a little grayer, but it was - if you asked us point-blank - something worth doing.

The past five years has seen a lot of turmoil and change in our lives, but that's now smoothing out; we're withdrawing from the various Internet forums that we used to be active on, as the content-to-drama ratio has gotten pretty skewed away from the former towards the latter. The recent fracas that saw me getting chewed on by Rob Kuntz over something Gary Gygax told me back in the day was pretty much the last nail in that particular coffin. I like having less stress and more time to write, as I steam away on "To Serve The Petal Throne".

The game room is also coming back into service, with the players in my 'Free RPG Day" game asking if they could continue their adventures in Phil's creation; I've sent out a 'campaign prospectus', setting out what they can expect from me and what I'd like to be able to expect from them. That seems to have gone over very well, and I will try to keep you all posted on the adventures that happen around here.

I don't have a lot else to say, tonight. It's been a nice quiet day, with a nice day out in the offing for tomorrow, and next weekend I'm flying off to a speaking engagement and a 'personal appearance'. Mayhem will ensue, I expect... :)


Sunday, July 15, 2018

"Release The Kraken!!!" - "Oops." - The Sunken City Adventure Continues - July 15, 2018 - Two

Luckily, the FLGS had a Kraken in stock.

Unfortunately, the Kraken also brought a Maelstrom along...

... and most of the players got sucked right in...

... so, as seems to be usual, they blew it up.

The guards having become a trifle suspicious, they summoned the Kraken to help them out, and things got more then a little out of hand (tentacle?) as the Kraken had thoughtfully brought a Maelstrom along with it, occasioned by the use of a little too much sorcery near to the Mysterious Glowing Orb that the party had managed to find and 'aquire'.

Things did not go well; the GM was rolling really hot, and the party really poorly. Things turned into such a confused mess of a melee that the poker chips that indicated depth went to the players, as it was assumed that everyone in the maelstrom was swirling about; the GM then went around the table by depth / poker chip color, and things became very manageable.

Not that this helped the players; there were several rounds where people were reduced to zero or negative HP, and the party's healer had her hands full keeping everybody alive in the mess. The Kraken didn't help matters by grabbing players as they swirled by and trying to dip them in shrimp cocktail sauce;  the party's best magic-user put a damper on this by hitting the Kraken on the noggin with a fireball, which seemed to dampen  any appetite for player-character appetizers.

The party ran out of time, due to schedule issues, so this game will be back on the table in three weeks after people get back from Comic Con in San Diego and other events. Nothing like a cliff-hanger, I always say, so tune in again for the next installment of the Saga of the Shieldmaidens as the attempt to stay off the menu...

Back To The Sunken City, With The Shieldmaidens - July 15, 2018 - One

Not five minutes in, and this happens.

A passing Bronze Dragon stops by.

What was supposed to be the climactic game of this particular adventure turned into a 'mid-game' session, with the party ending this game on a pretty dire cliff-hanger.

The basic plot, as regular readers will know from previous posts, is that the party has been hired while on their vacation to find a Mysterious Glowing Orb that's supposed to be hidden in the Sunken City. The previous session to this saw them find the thing, and they managed to talk their way past the guards to grab the thing. Some unplanned sorcery ensued, as they attempted to get away with their prize. The mer-guards and their eight-armed allies got suspicious, and sounded the alarm.

However, one of the players was a little faster on the initiative then the guards were, and summoned a passing Bronze Dragon to get some sage advice and counsel. The dragon was also feeling a bit peckish, so the swarm of sharks that were after the players disappeared in a swash of drawn butter and tartar sauce.

The dragon then dispensed the Sage Counsel and Useful Advice, and vanished back up to the surface with a contented burp. However, the guards were made of stern stuff, and called reinforcements. Which resulted in our cliffhanger of a battle, and the subject of our next post.

As is my function, I set up the table and stood back to watch the mayhem. I had left the game all packed up from the last session, so it was a simple matter of loading the car and getting into the venue. I had been asked for a Bronze Dragon, so the plush 'Asian Lung' that normally graces the game lounge was pressed into service. (Went over very well, I am happy to say.)

The group has really taken off, with this party being of ten, and the other campaign that they run having six today. They did a 'demo game' and a panel last week at Convergence, the huge F/SF convention that happens here in the Twin Cities every summer, and got a lot of interest and media attention from that.

And, if I may modestly say so, the recent series of games using my scenery and terrain seems to have helped. It is showy, I will freely admit, but the attention that is gets the group is certainly worth all the loading and unloading that has to be done to make all this happen. I enjoy doing it, and they say 'Thank you, Chirine!" so I'm a very happy camper.

Right! On to the melee!!!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

An Interlude, and An Excursion - July 7th, 2018 - The Weekly Update

 A product of the For Motor Company that you may not have heard of

And some properly dressed passengers, as well!
The Missus and I went out on a little excursion to Holman Field in St. Paul this afternoon, and took a few photos of a visitor to the Twin Cities and her passengers. Here's a news story about her:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXNs98e2poY

We had a lot of fun, I got to talk to a lot of people, and a very nice couple who were flying as passengers - and who had dressed properly for the occasion, complete with their luggage - let us take their pictures.

As regular readers of this little confection are aware, I love older forms of technology, so today's excursion was a real treat. She'll be here in town today and tomorrow, and is well worth a visit. The food in the terminal building is very good, too! :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Blood In The Water, or, We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat...

The party came prepared and fully equipped...

... ready to face the Giant Octopus...

,,, but the GM had her own laptop ready...

... and mayhem ensued.
Yes, I know it's blurry, but that's because I was laughing so hard.

So, as related in our last installment of the Saga of the Shieldmaidens, they'd gone for a swim to find and 'collect' a Mysterious Object, which was supposedly an Orb of Great Power. Being canny players, they had their Druid shape-change into one of the local sea creatures, and inquiries were made of the denizens of the deep as to the possible whereabouts of any magical objects that might be secreted in the Sunken City.

Their first lead, from a passing Giant Gulper Eel, resulted in some sort of magical object being detected in one of the large stone heads on the north side of the temple plaza. In order to investigate this, the party's Halfling was stuffed up the stone head's nose - it was the largest opening that the Halfling would fit into - and she passed the magical orb that she'd found out to the rest of the party. However, it wasn't the orb that they were looking for, so further searches were made as the players had realized that the temple pyramids were hollow and contained all sorts of useful goodies what their GM had thoughtfully rolled up and left scattered around as diversions away from the main prize; they were, as was pointed out, 'red herrings' - from which comment you might be able to determine the tone of this game session.

After much fooling around and sundry bits of looting, the party finally Got The Hint and looked into the one and only sand-colored temple pyramid guarded by the Giant Octopus. Said guardian objected to the perusal of the temple's contents, whereupon the Rogue in the party whipped up a set of fake IDs for the party to display which claimed that the party was on Official Business and had every right to have a look around the place.

(Fake IDs, by the way, also played a major part in the previous game session when the party arrived at the Tiki Bar and went to work. The party's Rogue has, I gather, a special kit for the making of these things; in this case, one of the magic users created an air bubble to house the little printing press while the Rogue worked.)

The Giant Octopus was not particularly convinced of the veracity of the party and their credentials, and trouble loomed.

(At this point, seeing how the current flowed, I went over to the next door fast food joint and got a fish sandwich for lunch; I wanted to beat the school of sharks to the buffet that was about to open, as it were.)

As could have been predicted by just about anyone, the party was attacked by the Giant Octopus and defended themselves. The GM was particularly delighted by this turn of events, as she'd been up all night lovingly crafting said Enormous Cephalopod out of various portions of the Monster Manual. Things looked grim for the party, as they were really kinda out-classed and out-armed by the thing.

I found the melee really fascinating, from a game design standpoint, and really gross, from the cleaning-up-the-mess standpoint. The players just waded in on the creature and - this is the important part to remember - used the three-dimensional nature of their surroundings to 'stack' their attacks, both for doing lots and lots of damage and for mutual support. The Octopus was surrounded by the poker-chip depth markers, indicating that all of the party was attacking on every melee round - the defending octopod was limited to one action per round, while the party could get in six to eight actions.

The party turned into hyper-active sushi chefs, and there was a lot of stuff for the surrounding sharks to snack on by the end of round two. Since the party were all in close contact, they could support each other, and things got very messy very quickly.

(It was at this point that one of the players noticed my lunch, and pointed it out to the rest of the party. there was a chorus of "EEEEeeeeuuuwww!" and they went back to slaughtering the Octopus. I tried to get photos, but I was laughing too hard.)

Eventually, the hapless cephalopod was no more, and the party proceeded to get into the Secret Chamber in the heart of the temple to collect the Orb that they were looking for. All in all, they thought it was quite the successful operation, and I thought that it was a very good game. We're back again next week for a little clean-up and detail looting - the party wants to make sure that they've gotten everything worth getting - and then they'll be back to dry land for more adventures.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sunken City, One Each, For The Use Of Gamers - Sunday, July 1st, 2008 - The Weekly Update

The table, looking north. GM table in the back. Time to set was forty minutes.

The table, looking southwest. The Giant Octopus stands in for the Kraken.

You never have enough sharks. Plastic sharks on GW flight stands.

The GM table, with poker chips, dice, and Giant Sea Life ready to hand..

Before I get into the game report proper, a few comments on the game itself. I got a short 'specification' for the table, which was "A sunken city; giant sea creatures would be nice." So, that's what the GM got. The wonderful Stonehouse pyramids got interior details, which the players figured out pretty quickly and took the time to explore. (And loot.) The Giant Jellyfish went over the proverbial treat, with one player opting to use one of them for her PC figure.

I took a litlte time to drill the plastic - vinyl, really - sharks for fitting with GW clear plastic flight stands, and this seemed to please everybody and be well worth the time. I thought it made for a much better-looking school of sharks, especially when the huge melee got started.

Speaking of which, I was quite fascinated by the way that the players understood the poker-chip depth system, and how they used it to great effect. They 'got' the three-dimensionality of the game instantly, and then used it to 'stack' themselves to get more attacks on their targets when they had melees. Very effective, and I started to feel a bit peckish and went to the fast-food outlet next door for a fish sandwich.

This group plays a very fast game; the pace is very, very quick, and the combat rounds incisive and tight. All of the new players - we had several - were coached and helped by the more experienced ones, and everybody had a very good time.

Next up: blood in the water - we're gonna need a bigger boat...

Saturday, June 30, 2018

"Down Below The Ocean, Down Below The Sea..." - Packed And Ready!

Bought years ago, when toy stores had toys...

Bought weeks ago, and still in stock...


We are off and in the swim again, as the Shieldmaidens visit The Sunken City Of The Mer-People. (It'll always be Atlantis to me, but what do I know?) You have to pay hefty prices in the collectables market for stuff from the movie these days, so I rummaged around in the shelves and pulled out the Giant Lobsters, Giant Octopus, Giant Squid and the Giant Jellyfish that I keep around for games like this. I have yet to find the Giant Squid, so we'll make due with the Large Squids for now. I am debating taking the Ah'ko again, to serve as the Kraken, but as this is a waterline model I think I'll stick with the Giant Octopus. (Plus, it makes noises when squeezed, always a plus in this crowd.)

The Giant Jellyfish can move around the table, but mostly with the current, so they function in the game more as traps and scenery for the players to avoid or hide behind. Bases are my usual laser-cut MDF with holed for the brass tubes that hold the creature up off the bottom. The jellyfish also got holes, as I need to be able to transport this lot to the game tomorrow.

Transport is, these days, in Der Bug, and I have gotten ten handy tubs with lids for the car. These hold four gallons' worth of stuff, and have nice flip tops for lids. Eight of these fit across the back seat, and two more in the trunk, with lots of room left over for the small baggage items. I emptied the pirate town of Tortuga back on to the game room shelves today, and then loaded the tubs back up with The Sunken City and various accessories. Once it cools off, the tubs and gear get loaded, and we're off and running again with our next installment of the Saga Of The Shieldmaidens.

One of the local bix-box stores is having a Fourth of July special on swim mask-and-snorkel sets.

Hmmm. I wonder...

More after the game! :)

Friday, June 29, 2018

"Swimsuits and Sorcery" - The Return Of The Shieldmaidens (3)

And we're off, thanks to various spells and potions...

... for a bit of a swim with the mer-people...

... in their underwater realm...

... but about those sharks...
I've been informed by Serious RPG Gamers over on another bit of the Internet that underwater adventures are not very good and kind of boring. The Shieldmaidens have a differing opinion, and simply dove right in.

I had been tipped off that an underwater adventure was in the offing; so - as the players got their sorcery, bath towels, spells, and swimsuits ready - I set up a sub-table for them to encounter the mer-Queen and get the low-down on what was amiss in the mer-realm.

The multi-colored sticks on the corners of the table are the depth gauges; I use poker chips to indicate where the miniatures are in the water column. This avoids the problems of figures on wires and bumping the table, and seems to work just fine. The top four colors indicate how much light is to be found at these depths, and the bottom two to remind the GM about the dangers of the bends. The nice cased set of chips came from the FLGS hosting us, of course.

The rest of the table is courtesy of the discount / clearance section of the local Big Box pet stores; the plants are based on small clear discs to indicate that a figure is 'concealed' by the plant when the figure is on the base disc. The sharks and other sea life are from a crafts store, which had them in tubes on sale after the holidays. OSHA-required safety divers are from Reaper, in their Chronoscope line (I think).

After much palaver with the sharks an mer-people, we are now off to The Sunken City on Sunday, so I have to go out to th games storage shed and get One Each Sunken City. This will be played by the excellent 'Aztec Temple City' from Stonehouse Miniatures:


I happen to have the largest of their sets, so I anticipate quite the table-full of adventure on Sunday...


"Burning Down The House" - The Return Of The Shieldmaidens (2)

Having 'forgotten' the crew...
... and talking their way past the guard galley...


.and leaving a little 'diversion' behind them...
... they left the ship's owners in a bit of a pickle.
It may not have been the best of all possible wharves, on this the best of all possible game tables (until I do the next one, of course) but I kind of liked it. Until the players got a hold of it, that is.

So, anyway. Having departed from the Tiki Bar with their ill-gotten gains, our intrepid adventurers headed back to the ship that they were going to embark on to get on with the deal that they'd made with the Pirate Captain who's hired them to undertake a Quest. Full of enthusiasm, they cast off the ship's lines and used various 'Mage Hand' and 'Wind' spells to pull away from the dock.  All was set for an epic voyage, with the minor detail of they'd left the ship's crew behind at the dock. Being clever players, they'd opted to set sail when the crew was getting the longboat ready and otherwise distracted. Only the Third Mate was left aboard, and she and the Pirate Captain were reduced to helpless fury as the players hailed a passing towboat and were pulled out into the channel. The rest of the crew were left on the wharf, raising the proverbial 'hue and cry' as their ship was purloined.

All of the noise attracted the attention of the guard galley, which the players diverted away from them by whooping and hollering that the municipal wharf was on fire. Which it was, the players thoughtfully having used both sorcery and fireworks (that they'd bought in the Native Village at Ye Olde Fireworks Shoppe) to set the wharf ablaze as they pulled away.

Honestly. Kids, these days. No respect for other people's property.

At some point, the ship's crew set off in pursuit in the aforementioned longboat, and the players stopped them cold when the Third Mate fell overboard / was pushed overboard / jumped overboard under Suspicious Circumstances, and the crew had to stop to pick her up. The local sea life also took a hand in the proceedings, to the amusement of all concerned.

The Pirate Captian had her cabin ransacked by the party, and they used the 'newly aquired' maps and charts to set off to the domain of the mer-people, which was the point of the Quest they'd been hired for. However, being stalwart adventurers with their own ideas about "individual wealth enhancement strategies", they took matters into their own hands...

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

"Discos & Dragons" - The Return Of The Shieldmaidens (1)

Having escaped the fell terrors of the Tourist Trap...

... the intrepid adventurers pressed on to The Tiki Bar,

where the paper parasols and the drinks came out.

As has been related in these pages, I have been summoned forth from my lair to be the set dresser and stagehand for the continuing adventures of The Shieldmaidens. This past Sunday, they were running the second half of their vacation to the pirate town of Tortuga, where they'd been having run-ins with some of the local pirates.

Being determined to get the most value out of their package tour, the party made it through the dreaded Tourist Trap, and came out the other side of this buccaneering version of Wisconsin Dells a lot lighter in the money pouches but richer by far in knick-nacks, carven seashells, tunics that were embroidered "I went to Tortuga and all I got was this tunic", and the other sorts of stuff that gets sold to one at seaside resorts.

All of this fearsome commercial activity called for some refreshment, and so our intrepid party made it through the doors of The Tiki Bar with a rousing battle-cry of "TABLE FOR SIX!!!" This was my cure, in my guise as The Stagehand, to provide all of the members of the party with those little paper parasols one usually finds in the kind of drinks served in these fine establishments. The Assistant GM had barely enough time to comment that it would be fun to have drinks to match, when Yours Truly - who had come prepared for this moment in the game - set out various flavors of drinks for the players.

Well, I ask you; what else could I do, anyway? I had also taken the trouble to wear the 'Crew Team' T-shirt that my dad had gotten me rom a visit to a resort in Cozumel, as it seemed the thing to do for this game.

What I had not allowed for was the effect that all this local color would have on the players. The GM had barely enough time to describe the pirate revelry that was going on in the place - you know the scene, from all those Technicolor pirate movies back in the day - before several of the PCs stormed the stage yelling "DANCE OFF!!!" and took over the place. There was at least one Tiefling and a cat-person involved, and I got to seriously wondering if I was old enough to be listening to this game session. Nothing naughty, you understand, but really really rowdy and raucous. And, this being a group of very clever and intelligent players, while the show was riveting everyone in the place's attention, the party's Rogue was busily relieving the piratical patrons of their ill-gotten gains by lifting their money pouches and wallets.

Eventually, the party departed the establishment a lot less sober and a lot more wealthy, and watched happily as various sodden pirates were carted off in heaps to sober up. Having thus wreaked havoc on the locals, the party departed to board their cruise ship...

Stay tuned for Part the Second, where our adventurers out-pirate the pirates and burn the town down as a parting gift...

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Open Table And The Murderhobo - The Weekly Update - Monday, June 18th, 2018

Yes, you've seen it before, but I couldn't resist.



A question has come up: "What's an 'open table' game?"

It's a term of art used by some of old timers for the kind of game sessions we'd run at conventions or other events; the game session gets started at a certain time, but anyone who wants to play simply sits down at the table and wades right in. There may be, as I had at Gary Con some years ago,  pre-registrations; I had twelve people pre-registered for that game, and about six actually showed up. The remainder of the 18 people I had in that game were all 'walk-ups'.

So, I did the Free RPG Day event as an open table; the lights on the display attract the eye, the graphics tell them what's going on, and the cake is the bait to get them to sit down and play. Once I get them into the chair, they're hooked. And, I really should note, they do tend to have a pretty good time. There are some disadvantages to this, though; one - and first and formost - you as GM have to take what walks up to the table. Most of the time, it all works out - and Phil's Tekumel is pretty tolerant of things - but on occasion things do take a less-then-optimal turn.

Late in the day, about an hour before we closed up shop for the day, I had a young man come by the table and express an interest in playing. He wanted to play a D&D class, 'The Rogue', and I had no problem with this; what I ran into issues with was the D&D player-character viewpoint of 'The Murderhobo'. This term of art, as I understand it, applies to mist D&D PCs who wander around killing and stealing for the XP (experience points) and have no real connection to the world setting that they live it.

I expected trouble, and I was right.

This very nice young man was quite lost in a game session that had 'open sandbox play', with no 'directed adventure path' that was obvious or being laid out by the GM. He did do a good job of playing a Rogue, but ran into issues with the locals' who kept pointing out that there are consequences for one's actions. He eventually punched out two of the local temple guards, under the PC assumption that since these are 'mooks' and NPCs, they are fair game for the PCs. What he did not take into account was that the guards are part of a larger group, and pretty quickly he was on the run across the rooftops being pursued by the temple guards, the Legion of the All-Consuming Flame's Provost Guards, and the entire rest of the player-character party which had gotten more then a little cranky over his Rogue-ish antics. (Things were getting a little tense, at the table.) The Rogue stole a fishing boat, paddled out to sea, and the player was a little surprised when the rest of the party stopped the pursuit at the shoreline and waved him a fond 'Bon Voyage!"

He could not figure out why they'd stopped chasing him, until the Kzin warrior asked for a time out and then explained to him that if he'd spent a little time asking the other PCs about the local scene, they'd have told him that nobody in there right mind goes for a casual swim in any open body of water on Tekumel. He dismissed all that, as he was an experience gamer equipped with a bionic arm with all sorts of lasers, plasma cutters, and other high-tech stuff. He did not seem to grasp why I'd kept having him roll dice every round, until the first tentacles started arching up over his boat.

When the game session ended, he was standing up on the overturned hull of his boat, finding out why the people of the Nyemesel Isles venerate the creatures they call 'The Children of Mretten". The rest of us Tekumelyani call them "Akho, The Seizer of Ships", and the other PCs in the group called "The Kraken".

Considering the amount of laughter and sheer glee, I think we ended on a high note. Even the Rogue said he'd had a good time, and learned a lot...

And "Release the Kraken!!!" has gotten to be a running joke, thanks to Meredith the Assassin. :)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Free RPG Day at The Source Comics & Games

My signage, the FLGS' signage

0953, right before the doors open

Dear Phil,

Well, I had been invited to run your world at the 'Free RPG Day' event at The Source a while back, and yesterday was The Day. I got everything loaded the night before, and managed to get up there and have everything set up before the doors opened and the crowds rushed the place.

Since this was going to be an 'open table' session, where people could drop in and out all day as they had the time and interest, I took a scenario that you had treated us to a number of times over the years - a posh party at somebody's palace. So, we were off to the restored Kolumelra's Summer Palace in the Nyemesel Isles, where Lady Si N'te was having her name-day party. Yes, Phil, there was cake, and I made sure that there was enough for everyone. Plates, napkins, and forks, too; I try to be thorough.

The gambit was that, as often happened in your campaign, a rift had occurred between the Multiverses and people were getting swept up by all that loose other-planar energy and dropped in the palace gardens; this allowed people to play what they wanted to, and when they could. as you pointed out more then once, all sorts of odd people show up that way, and it does make for interesting adventures.

I had quite a few people explore your creation, over the 10 and a half hours that we played; I had five to six players on average, with peaks of seven to eight at times. I also talked to over twenty people on the side, as I was asked quite a few questions about your world and how you played. I also told a few of our stories, showed off a draft of "To Serve The Petal Throne", and ate a lot of cake. People enjoyed your world, and all the wonders that you gave to us. I was a little perturbed at the person making the sign for the table, as I've always said that it was "Phil Barker's Tekumel", not mine, but I moved the sigh off to the side and used the ones that I'd made up for the event; they seemed to work just fine.

Some people you know showed up and played; Kathy, David, and Doreen from the old days, Bob (Robert the Bald from the old Blackmoor crowd), Heather and Jake from when you were so sick, and also some new folks: Elspeth, Chandra, Tom, Gillian, Alice, Meredith, and Willie from the RPGsite where the thread about you, your world, and 'those thrilling days of yesteryear' has racked up over 250,000 views over some 600+ pages. We had a Kzin, an assassin from Dune, a Sacred Cat of Bast and her frazzled minder, as well as quite a few of The Usual Suspects amongst the guests. The usual dancing, drinking, eating, and attempted assassinations; typical party fare on Tekumel, as usual.

I used your game mechanics, but with 3D6 instead of your preferred 1D% to make the D&D people feel more at home; they got it, and Tekumel, very quickly, putting the lie to the perception that Tekumel is "too weird and inaccessible" for the average gamer to be able to play without "proper interpretation". I dunno; I just ran the thing the way you showed me how, with a little help from your colleagues Dave and Gary. (I told stories about them, too.) People seemed to like your style of gaming, and I frankly enjoyed running it for them; everybody seemed to have a good time, even the guy who got eaten by the Akho out in the harbor. Much laughter, and cake, was had by all.

The palace plans worked out very well in live play, so I think I'll go ahead and start cutting lumber. I'd better move smartly, as there was a lot of discussion at the game table about making this an annual event. I don't know how that will work out with the limited space in the store's gaming area, but we'll work something out; we always managed to, back in the day, and I'll keep trying to do so for you and your creation as long as I'm able to.

I think you'd have enjoyed it all, Phil. I could hear you laughing.

yours, as ever, Chirine

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Let's Go For a Walk In The Woods! What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (2)






So we get to the clearing - another under four minute scene change - where The Big Mystery is supposed to be happening, and we get jumped by undead small tree things and then undead wolves. We get pretty roughly handled, as this party is kind of shallow what with having only four PCs and one NPC, and we pause to get ourselves together.

Just in time to get jumped by undead big trees, and we fight it out to a conclusion with them - they get toasted, and we get pretty badly hurt. Which means we're out in the middle of the accursed woods, at minimal strength, and about to confront the undead druid who's the cause of all this mess.

Next game session, July 22nd; we could use a little help, here. (Hint, hint. See Burl, at The Source.)

The game session went twelve hours. That's right; 12 hours. People were having a whee of a great time, and just didn't want to leave unless we fought this to a conclusion. Luckily, I had plenty of snacks and refreshments to hand, and we eventually ordered dinner from the local take-away.

It was all grand. Simply grand. :)

Let's Take A Walk In The Woods! What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (1)




After lots of shopping for supplies and Potions of Healing - not that we're paranoid, you understand - we pulled up the village map and after less then four minutes - yes, I had them time me - of 'scene change' on our little theater stage we were off down the forest path.

Where, to nobody's surprise, we got jumped. By undead badgers, of all things, and we got pretty badly roughed up. After drinking lots of potions and putting on lots of bandages, we were off again...




Saturday, June 9, 2018

Ready For Mayhem - The 5e Group Is Here, Tomorrow!

The game table, set with the village map, and secrets below
The game room, looking north

The same, looking south


The table is set, the floor has rugs, the chairs positioned, and the drinks are on the chill in the little fridge. The Missus has made iced tea, and is happily slicing away with her new slicing machine on the blocks of cheese. Waffle The Wonder Dog has been catered for, with a brand-new water bowl, a second new bowl for her treats, and a bag of treats for same. I'll set out the rest of the snacks tomorrow, right before people get here.

Gaming, as I have mentioned a few times, is - for me and the Missus, anyway - all about having our friends in for an afternoon and/or evening of fun and good times. I'm hoping that we'll have that, tomorrow, and I'll make sure to get photos as we play.

We - the group, that is - are back in the bustling elven village of Cicatri Down, which has been plagued of late by all sorts of strange happenings and the occasional attack by possessed undead. Our recent encounter with some of these has left us in a bit of hurts, although we did manage to rescue some lost children in the process. I'm personally hoping for a quiet rest, although that's about as likely - given this is D&D and Blackmoor - as my seeing porcine aviators whizzing by the windows any time soon.

The game table is set, by the way, with an enlargement of the color map that appears in the PDF of "The Redwood Scar"; my Missus, who is the smart one in the family, enlarged it so that the map's scale of 1" = 5' matches our figures' 25mm - 28mm scale. I should note that the enlarged map has indeed got some pixellation along the edges of buildings, the pond, and other details, but a little work with a wide-tip black marker pretty much fixed the problem; I did this for the buildings, but left all the scenery 'soft' as it looks better that way. (The map, by the way, is 48" x 62", so we'll unroll is a bit as we move around the village.) A few of trees from the shelves, and a couple of statues, and we're ready. I've placed some of the baggage - we have a cart and some draft horses - and we're ready for the game.

Whether or not we're ready for the usual mayhem, that's a different story...

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Folks Behind The Game

The table, looking east, with GMs and players

Ditto, looking west

The folks that I did this table for are part of The Shieldmaidens' Gaming Group, which meets at The Source Comics and Games on Sundays. They generally have two D&D campaigns running each Sunday, both well-attended and lots of fun. You can follow them on their Facebook page, where they also have some of their adventures posted:


The question has come up that if I'm not part of the group, why did I spend so much time and effort to do this game table for them?

One: I support what they're doing - getting women into gaming. (I believe in putting my money where my mouth is, and so do they; so, they get my support and help when they want it.)

Two: They use the magic words 'Please?' and 'Thank you!' (Which, I'm sorry to have to say, all too many of the people I've been dealing with in gaming seem to have forgotten.)

Thank you all, once again, for stopping by this obscure corner of the Internet; more to come, as the 5e group meets here this Sunday...

The Adventure Continues, Via The Mall Of Bad Taste And The Tiki Bar

More shopping, at Ye Olde Necromancy Shoppe

A very helpful local lady with magical powers

The ultimate goal of the players in this adventure
And there we go. I'll have more photos when the next game session happens, of course. I hope you enjoy the photos - it was a fun game!



A New Deal - The Start Of A Pre-School Adventure

Things get yet more complicated

A conference! A job offer for our adventurers!

And a stalwart ship to go on said adventure!

Ah, wait a minute; Haven't we seen that symbol before?

Continuing our saga, the melee go a little complicated as one of the attacking pirates turned out to be a dragon in disguise. Once this little hurdle had been dealt with, and the looting of the now-defeated pirates done, the party was approached by a local captain with an offer of a job. The party accepted, with the proviso that they anted to finish their vacation first - they had paid up reservations, after all.

But who was that seafaring young woman standing off to the side?

And that ship they'll be sailing on; haven't we seen those people standing on her deck before?

And the complex glyph on her sail? Seems oddly familiar, methinks...

"Mayhem," as I like to say, "Will ensue."

Note: A bit of clarification may be in order, here.

This is not my game, nor is it in any of my campaign settings. This in the D&D campaign of a couple of friends of mine, and so I am not entirely sure of the nefarious plots being brewed. This is now the second of the games I've participated in under my new mode of gaming - "If somebody wants to organize something, I'm in." I'm doing a lot more gaming, and having a lot more fun doing it. So, I think it's working.