Happy Easter

It’s been a wonderfully weird weekend, juggling work, a good friend’s birthday, travel and chocolate with more tequila than I’ve drunk in a while; and now I’ve just realised I’ve even got a Bank Holiday Monday to enjoy.

Being diabetic, I can’t go overboard on alcohol or chocolate too often, simply because of the fluctuations in blood sugar levels they cause. Fortunately though there’s no ban in indulging now and then.

So, I can be moderately disreputable this weekend. Woo hoo! I’ll catch you all later, I’ve a book to finish reading, another to continue writing, and somewhere in there possibly some sleep too

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Roll20: The Sewers

Week three brought a more traditional dungeon crawl feel to the campaign; but it was one marked with more than the odd but of laughter.

Investigating the newly unsealed tunnel brought an immediate encounter with a swarm of bats that were as confused and in need of escape as the adventurers were of ingress.

Surprised and battered by the flurry of flying rodents, torches were lit to try and ward them away. The panicked addition of a vial of alchemist’s fire soon filled the air with burning bats, adding a whole new level of terror before they escaped out into the wider sewer complex.

A brief rest in the aftermath allowed a new player to join the group, and then they ventured forth into the deeper tunnels. Knowing that they were venturing into a long abandoned research forge owned by House Cannith, you might have expected a few surprises along the way.

In this instance the surprise came in the form of steam-powered prototype half golem zombies that had been set to guard the final entrance.

It was a hard fight against very tough foes. It probably didn’t help that the party’s cleric completely overlooked the zombie part of the equation and so made no attempt to Turn them.

The gargoyle that had been creeping up behind the party at the same time fortunately made some terrible attack rolls, allowing the raging half orc barbarian to make a devastating critical attack that stopped the threat in it’s tracks.

We ended the session there. If the session did anything, it served to highlight how even the brightest and most clued up players will sometimes just lose the plot. I had expected the cleric to easily Turn the mechazombies, neutralising them but putting the party in a position to make the gargoyle attack the primary set piece of the session. I instead did a little surreptitious rebalancing on the fly to lower the lethality of the encounter.

The players all know that I generally let characters doom themselves rather than setting out to get them, but at the same time I do try to get them involved in telling a story and don’t like making people feel railroaded. That’s why I don’t have any hesitation about giving extra reasonable chances for the group to dig themselves back out of trouble from time to time.

Of course next week they get to the forge itself, so all bets are off ;)

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Roll20: Eberron Week Two

More people made it to the table this week, which was a pleasant ego boost. Even with having GM’d for most of these people for many years, I’m still very aware that it was many years ago and that it was in other game rule sets. As a result, hearing people, both new and old, express enthusiasm and demonstrate engagement both in the game and in the on-line forum and chat channel associated with it tickles me.

Floorplan for the Broken Anvil inn

The Broken Anvil – Home from Home

We picked up where they left off last week, having made their way to the Broken Anvil Inn, a refuge from the rainy streets of Sharn. A bit of narrative handwavium was accepted by all to place the extra players here and to retcon their having met on the road.

Settling in and updating each other on their evening’s adventures, the group was soon approached by a prospective employer, the Lady Elaydren d’Vown of House Cannith. She had been working with the murder victim to retrieve a long-lost portion of a schema of historical interest to her House. Offering gold and the goodwill of her house (of particular interest to Ruin, the Warforged druid), she gave them a partial map and the journal that had been held by the murdered man – an enchanted means to open seals that they would encounter along the way.

Their journey took them down into the lowest levels of Sharn, down where the disenfranchised goblins and shifters make their homes. They sought out the Rat Market, one of the shifting temporary markets serving local residents and scavengers alike, where a goblin merchant called Skakarn was persuaded/intimidated into revealing the route to a particular obscure sewer cluster named in the maps. He fled when intruders arrived to challenge the party, no doubt harbouring resentment for the way these rich upper level adventurers treated him.

Once more, they found people trying to steal away the journal. Another Warforged – this time a thief – led a team of trained Shifter warriors against them. The fight was brief but brutal, punctuated by valves shooting streams of sewage across the already treacherous battlefield, leaving the party battered but victorious and able to approach the hidden seal to open the way into tunnels that have been sealed for a thousand years.

So – we’re gathering speed in this prologue, and starting to get a feel for party dynamics. Tactics and partnerships are starting to evolve, and I’m looking forward to how the group evolves as more of the regular players are able to free themselves from various short term work commitments again.

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Roll20: Eberron

Well that went well… I have to admit I was a little worried about how much of a car crash my first session GMing in Roll20 was going to be. As it turned out, I didn’t have much to worry about.

Four people had to bail at the last minute for work and family reasons, but that still left five of us, with only one person needing to create a character. With the aid of Heroforge, that didn’t take long at all, and we were able to start what I called the prologue.

I’ve got a number of threads in the forum associated with our game where I’ve been encouraging my players to roleplaying introductions and talk about why they’ve joined together, so that allowed us to brush past any particular narrative bandwagons to throw them into the action.

In this case, the players have met on the road to the city of Sharn and  enjoyed each others’ company enough to carry on looking for work together. The combination therefore of a Half-Orc  barbarian, a Warforged druid, a Human bard and a Halfling cleric  was not as odd as might have otherwise been expected.

Their adventure began as they made their way through the rainy skybridges to look for lodgings, where they encountered the aftermath of a mugging. A shadowy figure fled into the darkness, only to return with an accomplice when the adventurers stopped to investigate the body before them.

The pair of warforged barbarians attempted to retrieve a satchel from their victim, but were swiftly despatched; with one being grappled and thrown from the bridge by the half-orc, and the other perishing under the blades of the bard and druid.

The arrival of a suspicious Watch patrol was defused with cooperation and witnesses from nearby homes, and the satchel was taken as evidence. Directed to the nearest inn by the Watch sergeant, they observed a nobleman approaching the guards as they left, but continues on their way to get out of the rain. The session ended with the group settling to eat, and negotiating food and board.

Hopefully we’ll have a fuller complement next week, as the inn is a perfect staging point for gathering them all together. I’ve more or less got all the maps prepared, so let’s see what happens.

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Roll20 Roundup

The last two weeks of our adventures in the lands of Croomik went by quickly. They largely became big set piece battles as we caught the last remaining architects of the Orcish invasion.

One battle took place in the docks of a crowded town, and nearly ended the wizard’s career as psionics were pitched against magic. The production of a huge spherical wall of force held a fleeing ship in place, preventing what could have been an extended chase across the oceans.

The second fight was a chase through thick forest, and included  the defeat of an elder black dragon that had been aiding the last of the plotters.

Most of the forest survived, despite hellhounds, dragon breath and spells of every flavour being tossed around.

The heroes had completed their mission, so now what? Well, tomorrow brings my picking up the GM duties for the first time in some fifteen years or so. It’s been so long, I actually can’t remember the last time, aside from a couple of sessions run with Lottie and Lady M a couple of years ago.

So fingers crossed, and all that. Maps have been drawn, tokens selected, and most people have a character rolled up already. We have a couple of new people joining us too, so we’ll be giving the system a good test, with eight people at least around the virtual table.

So, no pressure or anything…

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Is that the time?

I’ve been too distracted to post recently, mainly with work being short-staffed and with what I really hope is the end of the saga of Lady M’s foot, so apologies to my regular readers for the radio silence.

So the clocks went forward today here in the UK, leading to a lot of people looking very tired wherever I looked today. I seem to have become one of those irritating people who barely notices the hour’s difference. Yay, insomnia! With it being Mother’s Day  here too, it’s also meant taking Lottie home early so she could spend time with her mum.

To help her celebrate, we had our first ever attempt at making chocolate truffles.


They seem to have turned out rather well. They’re really quite simple to make.

All you do is melt a large high-cocoa chocolate bar over a water bath with a tub of double cream and a good dollop of butter so that it is smooth and then you put the bowl in the fridge for forty minutes or so. Then bring out the pliable chocolate and roll it in cocoa or flavoured hot chocolate powders, or in chocolate sprinkles or nuts and refrigerate overnight.

Even if it doesn’t work properly the first time, it’s delicious, and Lottie had three boxes to take home with her in the end.

Between that and hugely enjoying the Captain America: Winter Soldier film, it’s been a good weekend.

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Must be the weather

This really has been a strange week, and a busy one at the library. I’ve been running an Online Basics Course for OAPs and people bullied into it by the DWP, ran this month’s Chatterbooks session, and took this week’s Rhymetime with 30-40 preschool toddlers and parents.

All this in the week our assistant manager retired, staff shortages left us running the place on two people, stock checks were needed, roughly 200 new books needed receipting and processing, and another 300 books or so needed pulling from the shelves and either recirculated or withdrawn. So no pressure or anything.

And then there were the customers, who were generally good natured and a joy, except for the one’s who weren’t.

My, there were a lot of those. From the not so passive-aggressive mass photocopying people who nearly came to blows while screeching about how they paid their council tax for some peace and quiet, to the reading group who didn’t see why they should pay for lost books, we had it all.

It’s been a week of normally reasonable people all choosing to have complex, fiddly, or downright bizarre requests, all delivered in bad tempers, grumpiness, or total lack of irony.

We blame the sudden change from winter storms to sunshine with a side order of higher temperatures that seem to have got sinuses inflamed and people suddenly overdressed and overheated.

See, we’re British, we can find something to complain about with any change in the weather.

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