Another Night on the Town

Flyer for the Wessex Pistols gig on the 29th May
A Grand Night Out

Well, another working week done, with only a small degree of gnashing of teeth and a general desire to kick customers out the door on a regular basis. Last night was a good end to the regular working week, with a return trip to The Plough and the rowdy delights of the Wessex Pistols. We were joined by the ex-Lady M and Charleesi, but sadly not by Lady P who had managed to injure herself earlier in the day and felt that strong painkillers wouldn’t mix well with the anticipated drunken debauchery.

Instead, we were joined by the ex-Lady M’s brother and his partner, who had come to see the band too, along with their head brewer and members of his band, who know the Wessex players. As much as I suddenly felt that I needed a score card to keep track, these newcomers with D+D were also extremely bemused by the introductions around the table: “this is my ex-husband, my daughter, my exes’ new wife, my brother and his girlfriend.” We then apologised for our concubine’s absence, just to watch their eyes grow wider – totally worth it.

It was, as ever, a loud and raucous night, taking in punk, rock and hillbilly shenanigans, and our new companions were more than willing to play up, forming the first mosh pit of the evening and making us dive to protect our drinks. Charleesi’s expression through the course of the evening ranged from amused to bemused and then through to exhausted as the night drew on. By the time we were into the various endings of “Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now” as the final-ish song of the second set we were all pretty much exhausted from a night of high-octane entertainment.

This morning, I felt like I’d been on the booze all night, despite having remained stone cold sober all evening – I was driving, so my choice of diet coke came to a huge and unpleasant surprise for the drummer when he began stealing drinks as part of the act surrounding “Give Us The Gold” – so there’s the memory of his face to warm my heart as my muscles quietly ache…

If Everyone Could Just Stay Healthy For Five Minutes?

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Keep Calm and Use the Konami Code

Wow, perhaps it’s the universe trying to kick me out of worrying about myself, but Ladies M and P have both been quite poorly today, and nothing refocuses you more quickly than people you care about being unwell themselves. Hopefully they’ll both be back on their feet quickly, especially with the weekend nearly on us.

There seem to be a number of low key illnesses going around at the moment in general too. They don’t have big dramatic fevers attached, more a general fatigue and stomach upset that makes them a drain rather than a catastrophe for people’s systems. Pretty much every conversation I’m having with people at the moment is zeroing in on their health. I’m assuming this means a widespread bug rather than large swathes of the population becoming hypochondriacs.

In general, all a bit yuck. At least tomorrow sees another Wessex Pistols gig at The Plough, and we have the Charleesi staying for the weekend, which is always great. All things to look forward to, just keep as well as you can out there, okay?

Drink Spills and Rollercoasters

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Another couple of varied days, with steady work and determined socialisation, and I’m starting to climb out of the pit a little. Working is good for imposing structure on the day, and we had agreed to meet up at The Plough as usual on Tuesday night, so that mandated going out and being people persons. The main reason we were there was to pick up Charleesi for a 24 hour-ish stopover, but we stayed for the song and chatter. Lady M may have accidentally knocked a whole pint of iced diet coke into the ex-Lady M’s lap at one point, but after we got the wet and sticky jokes out the way all was well, much to the landlord’s relief.

This morning saw me off to counselling while Charleesi carried on revising for GCSEs, but then we hit Thorpe Park to get some use out of our renewed Merlin Passes. There was much people watching and quiet amusement about people’s inability to read signs, look at their surroundings, or engage common sense. I basically employed the approach of “I’m going to have fun, damnit, and it might actually happen”

So yeah, keeping on keeping on, and a nice, if brief, appearance this evening by Lady P to round things off. I’ll try and get more game updates done over the next couple of days.

Slow Bank Holiday

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I definitely needed to stop this weekend. My nights have been so unsettled that my body pretty much mandated a shut down this extended weekend. Unfortunately, being so tired has also meant my mood has been very erratic the last couple of days, with today being particularly bad, hence the limited updates.

We did get a couple of good gaming sessions in, though I did have to force myself to participate at first (not great as the person GMing). We also spent a lot of time on Netflix binge-watching Once Upon A Time and catching up on Sky with Blacklist and Penny Dreadful. I even got some writing done.

I can’t help feeling I’ve been a let-down and burden to people this weekend, even though intellectually I know this isn’t a reality. I hate that these mood plummets are back, but I’m focusing on trying to say ‘fuck it’ to break the inward cycles and not retreat back to the duvet. Keeping active and involved is hard work, but it means I stay functional and don’t surrender. Just bear with me.

Additional Maps

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I’ve started uploading selected encounter maps, or at least the basic map outlays, under the Notable Locations page in the Wartorn section. For the most part they don’t include furniture, inhabitants, or special features unless I had access to a suitable resource when drawing them in the pyromancers site.

I’ve started putting them up in part to jog memories for players or to illustrate the stories recounted, but feel free to copy and use anything you need for your own sessions. The maps should load and scale to 70 pixels per square, the default scale in Roll20. They are also generally designed to a scale of one square equalling five foot or so.

Maps and Mapping for Roll20

I’ve been using the pyromancers.com website to handmake the maps I’ve been using in the Wartorn Roll20 campaigns over the last year or so, but it’s not the only resource I’ve been making use of.

There’s a few more websites that have recently caught my eye, and I’ll probably start dipping in to using them from time to time. A few of the maps that my group have yet to encounter have been made up using graphics from these sites, so I’ve tested them for ease of importing the resulting graphics in to Roll20. So far, each has been useful in different ways.

simple map of connected roomsThe first – ANAMap – is a map generator that allows me to make old-school line drawing maps and export them as PNG graphics, which are fully supported by Roll20.

When you start up, you are presented with a blank sheet of graph paper-style unreal estate and a series of tools on the left hand side that allow you to carve your nascent dungeon with a few simple clicks. Each square on the “graph paper” is cleared as you click on it, and refilled if you click back on it again, making editing and changing your mind a simple task as you go along. The palette is simple, and the icons are rudimentary, but if you’re looking to generate something quickly with a clean set of lines, this is probably what I’d prefer to direct you towards at the moment. As an added bonus, the site does remember where you got up to, and so you will see your most recent edit when you go back.

You can save and reload maps as you need to revisit them, which is a nice touch and making the grid disappear is a matter of clicking on the Draft button. The Dark theme reverses the palette to make a neon dark blue and glowing walls effect, so that might prove useful if you want to do some mirror-world or dreamscape representations of maps.

Randomly Generated series of tiles that create a series of connected rooms and tunnelsThe other site I’ve started using has been more for inspiration or throwing together very quick locations, and I think I’m only really starting to scratch the surface. Dave’s Mapper uses tiled templates to randomly generate areas. It too allows you to export maps as PNG format graphics and these can be resized as required when you import them into Roll20.

There are all sorts of filters available to choose the style and design of the tiles used, and whether the maps are close edged to make a contained location, or open-edged (for generating a location within wider streets or tunnels, for example). By default though, the maps tend to resemble the example here, reminiscent of classic hand-drawn dungeons in original D&D products back in the days of yore. I really like it, and I might use it for generating treasure maps for handouts to players, using them as a template for a map put together with the pyromancers site instead.

Hopefully, one or more of these resources will be helpful to you too, let me know in the comments, or feel free to suggest other map making resources that you treasure.

Productive Day

I seem to have had an unexpectedly productive day today, with writing and game write ups going alongside various household chores and odd jobs for people. After what feels like an extended dry period, I’ve been forging ahead with the novel and short stories today. How peculiar.

I’ve also taken a quick look at the Witcher 3 game, which came out yesterday… on first glance I think this may be a Skyrim-killer, at least in terms of time to be put into it. I shall try to pace myself so that I don’t knock this new lease of writing momentum!

Oh, and I’ve managed to get this week’s Monday game write-up done, so that’s good too… Now to see how exhausted and stressed the Charleesi is as she hits the halfway point in her GCSE exams…

post-script – the browser-based post is still somehow switching to publishing as pages, so I’m suddenly in a less fun mood as I’ve just had to tear my website apart again to correct everything…

One Sentence Stories

I’ve been writing one sentence stories recently as a combination of block breaking, getting random sentences out of my head, processing of memes, and putting story seeds that I might develop later down on paper.

As it’s a quiet afternoon, here’s a few to shake your head at:

One of the positive aspects of falling out with Anya was suddenly not having to put up with her friends either.

There’s few things quite as disconcerting as walking into a suddenly silent Children’s Library to find a replica of Stonehenge constructed out of the furniture.

The only thing standing between Jake and a new career as a colander was the non-ripe banana in his pocket.

Hell’s Kitchen has a new hero, one who just wants you to cook the f*****g chicken! It’s raw!

One Of My Players Made A Thing

I’m all for encouraging people to write, after all I make things up for a living and like to share the misery. One of the players in my Monday night game has started an in-character diary blog, so I said I’d ramp up her anxiety levels and share it with you all here.

Her Blog is called RPG Storytelling – and I’ll add it to the list of links on the right in a bit – the specific bits about her experience in our campaign start here

Have fun!

Creeping Doom

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I’ve been putting extra work in to describe the scenes and events occurring in both D&D games recently and it seems to be lifting people’s expectations and engagement very nicely. This is particularly  important when I’m running material that many in one of the group may feel a familiarity with as it is increasingly allowing me to play with their anxieties as well as their comfort zones.

The Sunday group is playing a reasonably straight conversion of the venerable Temple of Elemental Evil campaign from 1st Edition to 3.5 Edition in the Eberron campaign setting. I’ve adapted, rewritten and mangled the back story to fit the chaos of the Last War and dumped them straight into the action after they took shelter from storms in an old ruin.

The Monday group are playing in the same setting, but roughly twenty years later, and have been sent to meet a contact at an old ruin. On arrival they found hints of another group digging clandestinely, that may be connected with hooded, possibly otherworldly cultists previously encountered. They are playing a much more loosely adapted version of Return To The Temple of Elemental Evil which I am dovetailing with the Mindflayers of Thoon and the political fallout from their previous adventures.

Part of the metagaming fun is that both player groups are aware that the other is playing in a different timezone, and one person plays in both, so the Sunday group have started leaving graffiti for the Monday group. As the later group is having a much more Lovecraft-influenced adventure, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that causality and spacetime may get a little non-Euclidian, in which case interaction with the past may also take place.

With gruesome descriptions, leading phrases and deliberately surreal or unexplained events increasingly occurring around them, I’m noticing a lot more caution in evidence, and as an Evil and Hostile GM, this pleases me. Players are a cowardly and superstitious lot, and both groups are now very afraid of bats…