Return of the One-Shot

For those who haven’t seen the streamed games, here’s the story so far:

The rural township of Gobblett lies in the shadows of the mountainous borders of Droaam – a nation of monsters that in this small corner consists largely of goblins.

The characters in this standalone adventure are all from the township, having ventured out into the world in search of riches. They have returned for the midwinter feast and a hefty portion of the first session was spent establishing their links with the villagers and some of the notable inhabitants.

Then a lone shepherd appeared on the main green, pursued by elves wearing the insignia of the fanatics known as the Silver Flame. The adventurers leapt to defend the village and drove off the elves. The badly injured shepherd warned of a force of the fanatics approaching with the goal of stealing away the village’s children to raise them within the church’s workhouses.

The players had roughly 36 hours to prepare for the invaders.

That was last week. This week’s session saw the raising of lengths of crude palisades and ambush points prepared. The artillerist assembled an eldritch cannon with a view of the main green, while the village families retreated to the Chief’s rambling mansion and barricaded the doors and windows.

Blue-green skinned goblin with green dreadlocks clutching a rifle. She wears white clothing and steampunk styled accessories

The totally unsporting mercenaries that comprised the main assault arrived by flying boat – two skiffs each containing five warriors accompanied by a berserker, and the mercenary captain in addition in one of the boats. A direct hit by spells forced one of the boats to crash just inside the palisade while the other stayed aloft so that the troops could fire from above.

While the battle raged largely across the green and nearby alleys, there was a sudden screech from above, and a large green winged lizard flew across the rooftops. A figure on the dragon’s back cut cords on sacking, releasing dozens of small packages across the township before the dragon flew off.

The adventurers focused on defeating the mercenaries, and as the session ended noticed that the brightly wrapped presents had been moving slowly toward the mansion and surrounding buildings. Some had already made their ways down chimneys and through windows, and now there were sounds of disturbance.

And to top it all off, the dragon could be heard screaming in the distance…

So, no pressure for next week.

Fiction Fragment: Break In

He’d been dozing lightly when the alarm went off, his phone screen dazzling in the gloom. He grabbed it and hit the icon that shut the noise off, which also darkened the screen again. Quiet returned to the storage room he’d hidden in.

He was surrounded by racks of clothing; each item shrouded in thin plastic dust covers. Between those and the carefully sealed and labelled boxes, the entire wardrobe inventory of the drama department had been his hiding place. With no performances scheduled for months, he’d been reasonably sure no one would have disturbed him.

He checked the time, more out of habit than anything else, and listened for any signs of life. Nothing could be heard, and there was only a very dim light showing under the door. He decided to risk it, and slowly turned the knob of the lock to prise the door open.

The corridor beyond was lit only by moonlight, with no lights from the windows on the opposite side of the lightwell. The hard-wearing carpet tiles made barely a sound as he moved towards the door at the end of the corridor. Beyond that was the bottom of the staircase to the main floor, but more importantly there was also the offices of the IT team.

Since being cut off from his allowance, he’d taken to stealing opportunistically whatever he could so he could keep flashing the cash around. He’d seen the delivery earlier that afternoon of a load of laptops, and figured it was a sign from the universe. Sneaking in to the storeroom for a few hours until everyone had gone was a small price to pay. He could break in, steal a few, then hide back out until the morning so he didn’t trigger any alarms.

Walking round the next corner, just as a couple of balaclava-clad men were already kicking in the IT engineers’ prep room hadn’t been in the plan…

Happy New Year

I’m not going to fall for the expectations trap of saying here’s to a better 2021. Instead, as I recently said to a friend, here’s to new possibilities and shenanigans.

I saw the new year in, mostly because I couldn’t settle, with half a bottle of glayva and falafel. Lady M is deeply unwell with a chest infection so a day of covid tests and a hospital consultation wore her out. We’ve got antibiotics and plenty of supplies so we’ll be fine.

So here’s to humour, flirting, making the best of things, and looking out for each other.

What Do You Mean I’m The Adult?

If there’s one thing I think most of us recognise, it’s that situation where you realise that you’re not the newbie any more, and indeed that people are looking to you to lead – and you look round for a more adult-y person, but there aren’t any so you’re it. Yeah, had one of those today.

To give some context I usually am the one to whom people defer so being “the adult” isn’t exactly new. Whether that’s as a manager, or a leader, or DM, or Dom it’s usually me making a decision or giving approval, or well you get the idea.

Even the opening situation described above isn’t exactly new either. It tends to happen every month or so in one context or another. I blame the silver in my beard I think.

Today’s revolved around a conversation with one of my peers about someone seconded to a position recently. Among other things, we talked about areas that some quiet words may be needed about – to help keep pace with the demands of the job and certain situations.

Halfway through, it dawned on me that I was being agreed with, and was leading the conversation. As the other person has been in post longer than I have there is usually an expectation of leaning in on that experience, but not this time. This time I was the adulty adult being asked for experience and guidance.

What’s the problem? Well, nothing and something. Having my opinion taken as equal weight is a good thing, as is recognition of skills and experiences. What quails is the inner child that doesn’t like having expectations put on him because it reminds me of past pressures and mistakes. It’s that very young place that lacks self confidence even as adult me takes ownership and takes charge – despite, or perhaps because, there’s no one else willing or able to step up.

Perhaps that’s why it felt so important later in the day to acknowledge, congratulate, and thank an apprentice for stepping up, taking ownership, and resolving a situation (with one or two prompts). Seeing them straighten in their chair where they’d been bowed with worry they’d screwed up made my day.

Not Long

I know that there isn’t some magical tickertape explosion due to wipe the woes of 2020 away at the end of the week, but I am looking forward to symbolically saying goodbye to this year. If nothing else there’s a mental shrug to be done, like splitting a big job into smaller slices, with stepping into 2021.

I’m back at work for a few days, providing a click and collect service, so at least I can feel I’m making a positive difference in the lockdown. The biggest difficulty is retraining my brain to wake at a reasonable hour, so I’m setting lots of alarms tonight.

And We’re Back

Merry Christmas everyone, much food and drink has been consumed and a state of pleasant befuddlement has been enjoyed. All this despite the last minute lockdown.

We spaced out presents through the day, and enjoyed spoiling each other rotten in the unexpected quiet.

And then this evening we ran an online version of what I’d been planning as a tabletop one shot – or at least the beginning of one – in what I’ve started calling the one point five shot session.

It is a goblin themed one shot, set in a goblin village. We have:

  • Truxi the Bard played by Lady M
  • Angre the Wizard played by myr s
  • Dranverk the Barbarian played by the cub
  • Morrus the Monk played by Lady W
  • Meekface the Artificer played by Lady B

All the characters are goblins, and this has given license for a certain degree of silly voices in the stream and for some reason 80s and 90s-themed football references to the retired hero, now brewer, called Cann Tonna and his missing rival Red Knapp who disappeared while raiding the New Castle to the North.

If it weren’t for the lockdown we would get out more.

Oh, and a goblin scout was chased into the village and shot down by elves wearing the insignia of the Silver Flame before the goblin heroes could drive them off. In two days a force of these fanatics will raid the village. They will attempt to steal away the goblin children at the height of the Winter Festival.

Christmas Eve

Lady M has been working today, I have not. I’m enjoying the fruits of the decision to take time before Christmas even with everything else going on in the world. By fruits, I mean putting my feet up, reading, playing games, watching YouTube videos, and maybe a couple of quiet drinks between snacks. There’s a definite feeling of overdue indulgence to today that is very welcome right now.

Inspired by a friend’s post on social media, we have given each other a pre-Christmas Funko, and resisted pressing each other to open any more. It’s a nice little thing I may do next year too, in line with our habit of giving little birthday presents in the week leading up to them.

All in all, it has helped keep positivity up, despite everything. It may not be the Christmas we hoped for, but it will be a good day tomorrow for us here. I hope it is for you too.

Christmas Eve Eve

I decided to deliberately have a day of doing very very little today. I managed to break the back of preparations for the one-off yesterday so I’ve given myself the day off. Instead I’ve watched The Muppets Christmas Carole and The Muppets Treasure Island while stretched out on the sofa.

On a not unrelated note we also did a lot of Christmas supplies shopping the last couple of days for basics, fun stuff, and yes alcohol. If we have to be in lockdown we’re going to do so in comfort and ease.

My biggest problems today have been checking in on a colleague (Lady Sz) for reasons, and resisting the urge to start passing presents to Lady M to open early. There are worse problems to have.

Changing Tack

We had planned to have a very poly Christmas this year, having our first Christmas together in the almost three years we’ve been bumbling along. Oh well.

I was going to go pick up myr s, the cub, and Lady W as metamour in chief on the evening of Christmas Day. That way they could enjoy a family meal with myr s’ father and Lady M and I could have a quiet morning to ourselves. A quick dash down to Portsmouth and back in the evening and we could then have a few days cosily in our flat. In line with the then-restrictions we would also be able to welcome Lady B during that period and have a table-top dungeons and dragons extravaganza.

Because that’s how we roll.

Instead, I am now busily making up details for that one-shot game to convert for Roll20 and our usual Sunday Twitch slot. No pressure or anything, I had been planning to largely wing it for the table but now I need to at least draw some maps. I’ve even written a four part structure for the characters to completely derail.

So, there will be other Christmases, and certainly plenty of other opportunities to get us all together again, no matter what coronavirus throws at us. For now, we’ll stay safe and do our bits to keep others safe.

Tales of Lockdown: Games Night

Okay – Tier 4 lockdown just happened, affecting everyone in our polycule and wider social and work circles, so there’s been a lot of angst and anger as we all dropped all our plans. One thing has remained – Games Night – our now-regular Sunday evening D&D sessions streamed through https://www.twitch.tv/princessleah1980 between 7.30pm and 10.30pm (ish). As ever we had fun – and there was more than a little silliness, including this gem: https://clips.twitch.tv/NiceBovineDonkeyKeepo

The whole evening’s show can for now be seen by following this link: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/844296990?t=3h1m41s and we are still working on converting them all for watching on YouTube. The channel is called Well That Happened and for now there’s a couple of introductions on there. Perhaps being in lockdown will give us collectively time to get more material up.

Tim wearing a green tshirt with the caption: Dungeon Master - It's not my job to kill you, it's just one of the perks
Would you trust a DM like this?

So – what happened? Basically the whole episode was set on a travelling Lightning Rail train, with the adventurers travelling home from their previous adventure. With it being a seasonal festival, they became aware that there was much frivolity, eating, drinking, and general carousing taking place in the restaurant cars next door – so they joined in. Then they started to notice that things were a bit off, with people consuming food and drink to excess, staggering off to be ill or use the toilets, and then returning for more. Then they realised that their DM’s exhortations to Eat! Drink! Be Merry! were actually telepathic urgings from somewhere that were affecting them too.

It all ended up with a corrupt train official, cultists of the Dragon Below, and an Otuygh in the waste carriage that frankly was just living its best life until the adventurers came along. Never before have I seen our tiefling go from “awww, I’m going to knit Santa a hat” to “I’m going to kill Santa” quite so quickly. It was great fun, and I think we really needed the laughter.

Next week will be a seasonal one-shot that I need to start working on urgently, featuring Christmas Goblins and Elves. Feel free to drop by and say hello!