The Week Won’t Quit

Last week was a bit of a pain, even if it was generally productive. This week seems determined to continue the trend but I must remind myself that its largely my energy levels that are making things feel a bit more of an effort. Feeling tired this morning was at least partially self-inflicted as I’d made plans to meet up with Lady G to mark her birthday – which was back on Sunday. A couple of hours after work down the pub included some worldbuilding for the DDC campaign and some NPC activity to brighten the players’ days – probably.

It was a bit of a late night, but not stupidly so – so a couple of coffees this morning had me right as rain to take on the next batch of meetings and updates with an eye to keeping some reserves for the Librarian game this evening. That, alas, didn’t quite happen due to life getting in the way but we did have a great natter and lots of laughter happened.

Tomorrow looks to be more meetings and project updates, but they’re mostly checking in and making minor tweaks; or discussing more strategic issues for the staff network with our executive sponsor.

So what do I do as a distraction? If you said make maps and random creatures in HeroForge – you’d be right – here’s some works in progress…

I’ve some vague idea of adding them to my virtual tabletop as a very diverse set of mercenaries, hence the same red, grey, and white checked pattern on their robes and armour. We’ll see. Was fun to make them.

Recharges All Round

I’ve needed a slow day, and as I’m working this weekend I’ve taken today off. It’s allowed for a slow pace. With Lady M not feeling fantastic after a broken night, I did some grocery shopping, gave moral support to a member of staff who was having a bad morning, and was just settling with an audiobook when boy s asked for help with getting out of the flat to do some shopping of his own. Then having done that I had a message from Lady T saying she was on the way round for a coffee, a little unexpectedly as I knew she’d been unwell herself the last couple of days.

Green skinned and brutish figure with tusks, a dark mohawk, big boots and ragged trousers, and large multicoloured moth wings out his back. He is brandishing a green sword in the air against a background of a wooden-framed building

So a quick trip back down the road while boy s recovered from the stress of being out in public while battling agoraphobia, and a quiet afternoon of coffee and nattering with both Ladies M and T, putting the world to rights.

I started the day thinking I might struggle to get much done, and forced myself to the shops in the first place to battle that. It turned into quite a social day.

Having dropped Lady T home, I’ve just been quietly playing around in HeroForge and watching old Time Team episodes on YouTube, leading to this odd fellow appearing that I have labelled “Fairy Nuff”

Sometimes the old jokes are the best – in this case based on memories of stories told and retold in my family based on the Lobey Dosser cartoons by Bud Neill that started in 1949. In the comic strips, Fairy Nuff wore “tackety boots and spoke only in verse” There’s something that has resonated for years and become the focus of shaggy dog stories and jokes – most particularly by my grandparents when I was young. Today was obviously time for Nuff to step forward again…

No Game, Just Preparations

With the ongoing application of common sense that the real world takes precedent over the game, we didn’t have our D&D session today as a couple of people had to unexpectedly pitch in at work. As is my usual tack then, I’ve warned everyone this just gives me more time to come up with strange additions and quirks for the story.

Illustration of a black, yellow, and red banded snake-woman with a white long sleeved top and hood, Curled and ready to strike with two large khopeshes against a sandy background

More maps have been created, more mercenaries and odd NPCs created in HeroForge, and abstract patterns drawn in my notebooks while I ponder the best complications to throw at our plucky adventurers.

Case in point – this amazing lamia which is absolutely nothing to do with the DDC’s adventures. I just got liked the model and wanted to make something a bit different.

One thing I did do before we went our separate online ways was to ask the group what they had in mind to do next in the aftermath of last week’s conflicts.

They said: wedding planning

I mean, sure, they’re in the middle of a siege with ravenous trolls tearing apart the countryside and trying their best to tear the Dwarven lands asunder – and they just survived a pitch battle and stole the gear off the son of one of the troll’s leaders so why not have a light contrast.

I’m sure the trolls won’t be doing much of anything in retaliation. Well, nothing dangerous. Well, nothing that can’t wait. Yeah, the trolls will probably be regrouping or something because they need ages to heal up. I mean the Archfey manipulating the whole thing is a patient entity.


Oh, and then there’s an angry dragon out there too. What’s the worst that could happen?

We’ll find out soon, I’m sure…

Maps and Revisions – Farm Buildings

I’ve spent a good portion of this afternoon doing some map work for tomorrow’s game – largely setting up relatively blank canvases that I can use for set-pieces and for random encounters depending on what direction the group goes. With the massive battle last week, I suspect there may be an attempt to regroup and plan, but I’ve been wrong before.

With that said, I’ve also been quietly revisiting some of my older maps and updating them, especially where new updates have added options to ease the process of filling out the spaces with details. In particular I’ve been playing around with the various options to paint things like undergrowth and natural features rather than manually editing things in so much.

So – for comparison here is a map I made when Dungeon Alchemy first launched where I was just trying to work out how all the buildings could be made to work. It’s called Farm Buildings, and had the concept of being a farming community around a pond or small lake:

Overheap map view of a cluster of buildings around a small lake. The lake has a large mound sticking out of it. Scattered trees stand around the buildings and various small hillocks

It’s plain and simple with fields, gardens, various farmsteads and associated features. I think I spent more time trying to work out the rise and fall of the ground so it wasn’t utterly impassable or impractical. There’s no grand design. To be fair, the changes made today haven’t addressed anything like that, but I’ve got a more definite thought about how I’ll likely use it in the near future:

Overhead map view based on the previous image but with far more undergrowth and foliage and natural features as discussed in the main text body.

This feels more like a nestled collection of buildings even though all I’ve done is add rock features, trees, and bushes. Oh, I also exported this with a more 3D presentation than the more plain orthographic settings of the original. Its a bit on the large side compared to most of the maps I use in sessions, but it could work well with some larger or more mobile opponents on it to make better use of the space. All in all it feels a more naturalistic space just with these extra details painted in. It would almost certainly never exist in the real world, but it feels like it could.

I’ve a few more of these, so I’ll sprinkle them from time to time – so there’s that to look forward to

That Was Definitely A Week

I’m really drained today after a week that has seen a lot happen, just not necessarily in the order I’d planned. Most of it has been very positive or has brought great outcomes for people on the work side of things. The biggest relief has been that the boy s has been able to access some mental health support through his GP. Now all we’ve got to do is help him get his housing sorted. Meanwhile Lady M has been storming through all barriers and has multiple nominations for awards in diversity, being an excellent manager, and a host of other wonderful things.

There’s even sunshine – and with the door open I can hear families playing out on the estate. It feels an absolute age since I’ve heard that. I’ve even been able to get in touch with my parents and have a catch-up chat. Beyond a quick dive out first thing to get groceries for the weekend I’ve otherwise been curled up on the sofa – though that’s also because its the weekend before payday so budget constraints have reinforced the idea of staying home. I’m just very aware I need the rest.

In gaming news, I got a bit bored the other day and worked up a redesign of Lady M’s character token for the DDC Sunday game, so I’ve spent a bit of time today uploading that to the virtual tabletop (Roll20) so its ready to go tomorrow.

Who knows, maybe this week Kerne won’t be quite so caught up in life and death struggles. My magic eight-ball isn’t so sure…

Nearly The Weekend

I was enjoying my Friday and then realised it was a Thursday. Its an old joke but I have no shame and used it in a conversation today. It’s been another full day. Thankfully it’s mostly been a positive day, but between negotiations and outreach, with a side sprinkling of mental health first aiding and worrying about the boy s it has drained me.

I’ve been sitting quietly, trying to shed the load off my shoulders, and waiting for the top of my head to stop feeling like it has peeled open. Watching a film and paying Destiny hasn’t done more than briefly distract me, so now it’s time to see if sleep can hurry up and catch me unawares while I meditate.

That would be nice. See you on the other side for Friday Part 2

Run down but not out

I’m fairly sure it’s just the pollen count that’s given me blocked sinuses and killed my sense of smell. I’m feeling pretty tired and run down so no doubt there’s something opportunistic that’s going to try and hijack my poor immune system. Nonetheless, I’m keeping on keeping on.

I’m still buzzing from how well the game went on Sunday – it really does lift my spirits when my players say things like they lost track of time, they wanted to continue, and are busy hatching plans for the next session. I’ve heard variants on those from several people both at the time and in general conversations since and its a wonderful validation of the whole thing.

Work continues to challenge and reward in equal amounts – I’m certainly not going to be bored any time soon, and I’m getting plenty of chances to trumpet the things being set up and run by my team. If I have any anxieties beyond the day to day its around making sure that opportunities get their best chance to flourish

All this is to say that despite my mental health dipping and fluctuating, it’s in the context of good things and good people. Despite desperately wanting to roll over and sleep for a week or three, I have things to do and people to focus on – and even if I’m not great at always being able to reach out to people its not for lack of thinking of them at least.

Here’s to a new week and a fresh run at it

Getting Funko

I’ve been finding it hard to settle today, so I turned my attention to our office/spare bedroom and the towering mountain of Funko boxes piled behind the door. There seems, generally, to be two schools of thought when it comes to keeping and displaying these vinyl figures. The first is that they are bought to be displayed and the boxes are discarded as there is no intention of selling them on. The second is closely tied to the myth of rarity and the collector’s mindset and mandates that the figures should be preserved in pristine form in their boxes and displayed in them.

I am generally of the first persuasion, while Lady M has picked a third option – that of keeping the boxes so that figures can be put back in their boxes if needed. There’s still no intention of selling them, but perhaps there’s half an eye to how often over the years we moved and therefore a thought of transporting them.

As more than one person has remarked, this does take up a lot of space – and so in recent months I’ve been looking at how stably and neatly I can rearrange these boxes to perhaps have some degree of aesthetic in their stacking as well. I conquered the cupboard containing our boiler, various tools, folding chairs, and a stack of funko pop boxes that now stands some seven foot tall and is braced for stability.

Today therefore, to keep busy, I turned my eyes to the great stack and took the lessons learned from the cupboard. Now there are no mismatched boxes on different alignments unless needed to brace or tuck with boxes from other things – and it all feels far less precarious now. It no longer feels like the door might be keeping the boxes in place.

It’s a rock and roll lifestyle here. Apparently someone in a hat sat on a chair today…

Memories – Dungeons and Dragons

I remember the first time I played Dungeons and Dragons – it was the early eighties and my Dad had a copy of the Basic box set. I must have had sight of it to read before hand and read it through but we didn’t play until one afternoon when my uncle and aunt, and some friends of my parents were round (I think) – and we played through the introductory adventure in the rulebook. It was a simple thing by today’s standards – lights seen in a deserted tower, brave adventurers investigating, bandits (or possibly goblins) lying in wait.

I played as a first level wizard and was killed by a giant spider – which was a bit disappointing as the whole concept of a character that could improve from game to game had me hooked. Barring playing another game where my Dad put on a game for me and some friends for my birthday that was it until I sold my brothers on the idea of playing. It all kind of bubbled along from there.

Going away to boarding school was the time that roleplay games really got their teeth into me – there was a Wargames club that embraced this new phenomenon and suddenly I had a steady roster of fellow misfits to play along with. Dragons were slain, mistakes were made, and a slew of new legends populated our conversations. I may have struggled sometimes to get the hang of economic theory and physics equations, but probablity calculations and mental arithmetic became second nature – and I could recite whole blocks of statistics and rules interpretations.

In retrospect I got a bit fixated on the game systems and the minutiae of the rules and features and how to interpret and present them in a narrative. I also found friends and a camaraderie that insulated me from the wider pressures of not being particularly bothered about sporting activity in a school environment that positively idolised it.

We met to play most days – a few hours here and there as time allowed in the afternoons between rugby, cricket, or cross-country running. The problems of scheduling times to meet didn’t exist because we were at a boarding school – there wasn’t anywhere else to go and this was a form of rebelilon that didn’t require hiding in bushes to avoid teachers, or persuading people to buy things we weren’t old enough to get for ourselves.

As a very closeted baby queer, it also opened my eyes to the concepts of choosing our own selves and values. In the game I could be flamboyant or hidden, a rogue or a paragon – and doing so wasn’t reliant on family or circumstances beyond what we could make for ourselves. It was aspirational and non-judgmental – and most importantly was played by people who banded together against a rigid push to behave in some arbitrary “normal” way that absolutely held no draw for any of us. We were a band of outlaws in our own eyes. We were polite and generally well-mannered rebels who each had our own peculiarities and just wanted to be left alone to get on with things.

There was no stigma to exploring new personas, gender expression, or sexuality – in some ways that felt like just window dressing to the experience of exploring these fantasy worlds and beating the villains. There may be a degree of rose-tinted spectacles over these memories but it is what has stuck and what has informed my journey onward and my expectations of the tables I play at and the people I play with.

An expectation of openness and acceptance for all at the table became part of my expectation of the people in my life – and perhaps there’s a measure of the valiant knight protecting the land that has come forward in how I try my best to champion and support the people around me at work and in my home life.

Today I went to see the new Dungeons and Dragons film – Honour Among Thieves – and was overjoyed at the energy and acceptance, the humour and the heart, the detail and the warmth that permeated the whole thing. Its been a hot minute since I’ve seen a film, got home, and wanted to go straight back out to watch it again. The found family of imperfect losers scheming and trying their hardest to do the right thing through increasingly over-complicated and morally dubious schemes just chimes with the gaming and life experiences of the boy I was, and the very odd man that I’ve grown to be. That’s no small thing for me.

Memory: A Risk Taken

This is inspired by a daily prompt for writing I saw recently that invited people to write about a risky action that turned out well. With my philosophy of “what’s the worst that could happen?” I an spoiled for choice.

I could talk of stolen kisses or jobs applied for; of approvals given or appointments made – but the most life-changing was getting in touch with Lady M after she had moved to Switzerland.

We had been flatmates, and there was no denying a spark at the time. We also had existing partners (and I was also going through a divorce) so it was complicated. She took a job out there and left, and amid my general chaos the relationship I was in also ended.

A while later, we started talking online, and I took up an earlier offer to come visit. Despite the best efforts of airlines, weather, and air traffic control I duly made it out there – and was met by a shocked Lady M who had convinced herself I wasn’t going to be on the plane.

The spark ignited, and has blazed ever since through all the ups and downs of modern life. A risk well worth taking.