Thursday 28 June 2012


Had a very dodgy (i.e. non-existant for the most part) internet connection for the last few days.  Forced of necessity to concentrate on stitchery and shows while BT worked their magic, but am now back and plan to flood the net with burble in short order.

Friday 15 June 2012

Secret teashop of gaming

We live in a small, rural, market town.  It boasts little or nothing in the way of gaming amenities.  Until now.  Or so we believe.

About a month ago, rumour reached us that a discreet teashop - of which we have many - was branching out.  They advertised, among the home-made scones and lovingly crafted flapjack, supplies of paint and minis from Games Workshop.

Sufficiently bizarre you may think.  It got better.  On investigation, a small sign appeared in the front door announcing game nights every Friday.  Now, presumably, it is possible to top off that cream tea with a swift purchase of missing Lich Purple and a quick burst of wargaming.  It sounds enchanting.  Note, however, the "presumably" in that previous sentence.

There is a catch.  So far, we have been unable to sample the delights.  Now last week was all Jubilee-tastic, and the bloke who runs the games was on holiday.  This week we advanced with high hopes and found nothing.  Well, not nothing.  The Finklegate Tea Room is still just where it should be.  No gaming though. 

We're hoping bloke is still on holiday because the whole concept tickles me greatly.  Plans are afoot to introduce more than Warhammer, but these cannot happen if the place doesn't open.

Perhaps there's a secret password?

In the meanwhile, I await another week with baited breath.  Do we or do we not have a game night in our midst?  With flapjack.

Monday 11 June 2012


Superheroes have been on my mind lately.  Went to see Avengers Assemble last week and loved it.  Leaving aside my unfeasible adoration of Robert Downey Jr for a moment, it gives a real flavour of old-fashioned comic book love.  Plenty of characters to engage with and enjoy without the overwhelming angsty-iness of some recent offerings in the genre.

While I'm happy to accept that the price of super-powers is high and the way difficult, it's hard to really empathise with someone whimpering for two hours about their burdensome abilities.  Get a grip.  You can fly.  Or create energy fields.  Or move faster than sound.  Or whatever.  Please, just accept your inner awesome and get on with it.

Avengers assembling
To their infinite credit, the Avengers do just that and a thoroughly enjoyable ride it is too.

That may be the mother in me talking.  We're heading into the final week of GCSE hell here to be followed by the official ending of compulsory education.  Taa-daa.  The result is that I'm turning into a kind of superhero myself.  Please meet Supporto-Gal.  She is the inner superhero of every parent everywhere.  Male or female.  Although I suspect she might be more of a female phenomenon. 

Supporto-Gal is the inner you that leaps out and multi-tasks when your brain really isn't up to it.  Personally, I'm always happy when she takes over as confronted with lists, I collapse into an angsty heap.  Not so Supporto-Gal.

She juggles lesson plans, toilet paper fairy duties, cleaning up of catsick, finding of missing books, suggestions for films to watch, provision of items of clothing that need to be washed right now as they need to be worn in ten minutes, making of appointments and all-purpose taxi services with grace and ease.  She remembers to pay for piano lessons, books dental hygenists, unblocks rain-filled drains, mows the lawn, remembers to change bed clothes and hunts down the one working pen in the house with a smile on her face.

Supporto-Gal - accepting her inner awesome at a home near you.

Thursday 7 June 2012


Jubilation is my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

In case anyone missed it, we lucky few, we band of brothers - i.e. Great Britain and the Commonwealth - have been celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.  On balance it's looked a lot jollier than Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.  Judging from the pictures, de rigeur behaviour for that was to stand very quietly in the streets in case a sudden noise brought the celebrations to a quick end.

It's been all go here.  Processions, parties, flotillas of boats on the Thames, beacon lighting and bunting.  Lots of bunting.  I ran across an agitated man attempting to buy some at the end of last week only to be told by a sad shop assistant that he couldn't.  She placated him with England bunting, but you could tell he didn't think it was the same thing really.  

In the best traditions of England, the weather cooperated, dropping a further river all over the Thames, but then cheering up long enough to let everyone mow their lawns.  Then it rained again and hasn't stopped since yesterday morning.

Truthfully, however, I've done very little in the way of actual Jubilee celebrating.  Mostly I've been catching up on sleep and fighting my way through a new set of Renaissance patterns.  Oh, and sorting out my computer.  Conveniently that decided not to work on the day I had set aside for catching up with all my online games.  Dave from Mumbai was his usual helpful self, but in the fault lay, as so often, with the weather.  Or my SLder tendencies.  Or a combination.

At any rate, I am now back after a partially enforced absence and am embarking on a D&DNext playtest via Google+.  As a monkey.  Just because.  He's called Fuyuki.

Ninja Monkey by Loam.  From Deviant Art

Sunday 3 June 2012

Friday 1 June 2012

Maria revived

Even by my standards, it's been a busy few weeks.  Something was bound to slip through the net.  Turns out it was Maria.

This is a tad embarrassing.

We are doing a reprise of Act 2 Scene 5 at Gateshead tomorrow as part of the RSC's Open Stages programme.  That's the scene when Malvolio gets the duplicitous letter from Maria and steadily convinces himself the Olivia is in love with him.  It will, admittedly, be fun to get back into Maria's go-for-it head again.  Wish I'd remembered sooner.  Even more more importantly, wish I'd read the relevant email properly.  There is another stage to this Open Stages malarky.  One of the four groups performing tomorrow will head onwards to another performance in Stratford no less.

We've just done a rough refresher rehearsal but will finalise tomorrow as it is a very different stage.  Will be fun.  I think.  45 minutes rehearsal in the space will be fine.  Tomorrow I need to load up the car with garden furniture and my costume and try to find Gateshead.


Tuesday 29 May 2012

Things to do in Sigil and more on D&DNext

In between bouts of hayfever and lawn strimming, I've been having some fun planning things to do in Sigil for my hapless players.  Not all of these may come to pass, as their route is to some extent dictated by a bossy sentient sword, but the planning is wonderful fun.  At present, the group are newly arrived in a meat market.  As offal of various sorts parades past them, they're about to start their hunt for Vocar the Inexplicable, former exarch of Vecna.

Translation:  Vecna is an exceptional piece of bad news, even for an evil god.  His favourites are endowed with evil hands and/or eyes and use these to hunt down knowledge of all kinds.  Quite what Vecna wants to do with this knowledge is known only to him, but almost certainly involves taking over the pantheon.  Vocar claims to be a former exarch who survived, but might just be a dotty old man.

I have no idea who produced this picture and am thus unable to give them credit.  Which I'd love to do, so if anyone can identify it, please let me know.  It's the Hive Ward in Sigil.

In other gaming related news, I've been looking through the Wizards playtest material for D&DNext. Me and hundreds of other game-interested bloggers.  Voices are being raised all over the interwebs but the general trend seems to be cautious approval.

I think I'm a bit more enthusiastic than that.  The skeleton we've been given looks elegant and easy to manage with a distinct "old-school" vibe to it - which will please many.  I'm seeing the flexibility and simplicity of older editions mingled with the durability of 4e. 

The core mechanic (rolling a d20 and applying modifiers) remains unchanged, but the method has changed from a set of rolls made against specific defences or skills to rolls made against the basic stats of a character.  This makes good sense and streamlines a lot of issues.  I'll be interested to see how this feeds into character creation (those rules aren't out yet). 

With the new playtest material, there is far greater onus on GM and player alike to think creatively, leading to a more story-driven game for some perhaps.  I've always done that to a large extent, but it's interesting to see it made explicit.  For players who came into the game with 4e, it may feel too fuzzy and open-ended.  I'm really intrigued to see how it plays out with our home group - most of whom learned to play with 4e.

It's kept the options open for playing with or without a grid or map and there I'm a little less easy in my mind.  That's a purely personal issue.  I find combat quite hard to run anyway and without the aid of a map, would have no chance, but we'll see. 

So far it looks good, robust and promising.  Can't really ask for more than that at this stage.