Cat Herding for Beginners

We’ve got two people in the DDC with birthdays next week: myr s and Mre B so we’re trying to organise a joint socially distanced gathering to distribute gifts and just have a catch up. We’ve not managed to snag or kidnap absolutely everyone, but we’ll have most of us. Just not quite enough for me to produce dice and books and tell everyone to roll for initiative.

I’m not sure whether scheduling a game or a gathering is more tricky – its feeling about level odds at the moment.

Geeky Television Day

I’ll be back to work later this week, so I’m savouring this last couple of days off with Lady M. We had a nice walk round the block earlier, and now we’re just enjoying finishing up Stargirl on Amazon. There’s a lightness to it that makes a fun contrast with the more po-faced Arrowverse. As a long-time fan of the JSA and comicbooks in general I’m finding it a joy to see a superhero show that absolutely leans into its roots and source material. Even better, even the most mustache-twiddling villain has nuanced and sympathetic writing. Like the best JSA stories of the last decade or two, it’s concerned with family and legacies – and is all the better for it.

It’s all enough to make my geeky heart glow.

Gaming Occurred

So yesterday I was able to escape the curse of the eternal DM and take part in a game of dungeons and dragons as a player for the first time in years. After some initial tech fiddling to run Teams privately on one of my laptops and my phone, and to link Roll20 and DnD Beyond on the other via a chromium browser it all went very smoothly in a five hour session from about 6.30

As a setting, it took place in a slightly tongue-in-cheek Pirates of the Caribbean style environment as I joined a group consisting of many people I’d never met before.

I’d been invited by the Ladies H, and had met our DM once at MCM London last year, but everyone else was an unknown; so my anxious disaster-brain fretted in the hours leading up to getting started. If you’ve ever played with a new group, you’ll know the feeling, and therefore also the relief of a friendly inclusion.

My usual name blindness means I’ve already forgotten most people’s real names, let alone their characters, but I did at least remember to take a few notes:

And I still forgot who everyone is

We shall resume the game sometime around the middle of next month.

This has been a positive thing, and I’ll thank my brain to remember it.

Workspace Shenanigans

I’ve been rearranging my home working space today to take advantage of Lady M getting a second screen from work so that I can reclaim my aging Xerox monitor (17 years and counting). I have daisy-chained screen adapters from digital to vga to hdmi to work with my very cut-down aging laptop, and have grabbed a spare stool in the spare room. I’m using one of the glass-topped desk units that came back from Switzerland with Lady M just tucked inside the room – so the real test will be tomorrow when it’s time for D&D.

Why all this effort? Well my leg is still spasming and generally hurting every time I’m sat for any length of time on our sofa, so I’m hoping that a slightly different seating arrangement will help my leg heal properly. We’ll see. In the meantime I’m carrying on with setting up items on the redbubble site and have finally managed to get Amazon to accept my financial and tax credentials so that I can sell Kindle writings and potentially more merchandise through them

Fingers crossed, and all that.

Cutest Session Ever

The DDC continued their adventures on Sunday night, continuing with a cautious approach verging on paranoia. Every monastic cell in the abandoned temple was empty, but the kitchen/refectory brought a new surprise: the zombified remains of ancient goblins going through the motions of preparing meals, serving them and clearing them away – unheeding of the fact that there was nobody there, and all the supplies and foodstuffs had long spoiled or rotted away.

With many groups you’d be forgiven for expecting urgent battlecries, but instead the group watched for the moment as Caeluma hugged one and helped it set the table. They recorded what runes and artifacts they could see, and then carefully retreated, closing the door behind them.

And then, because they’re not stupid, they barricaded the door and wrote Dead Inside, Don’t Open – or was it Dead Don’t Inside Open?

Then they took a short rest before trying one of the bigger doors that looked like a grand entrance – that instead led to a corridor and the looming shapes of mansized and roughly man-shaped mushrooms lurching towards them with hands outstretched. With lightning reflexes the group downed one of the figures before sprayed spores stunned the ferocious dwarf fighter and one of the creatures pummelled him lightly in retaliation.

And then another set of spores sprayed out and got a voice speaking in their heads, wondering who they were and what had the myconids ever done to them? Some hasty de-escalation later, including some druidcrafted repairs and healing, and hostilities were called off. The myconids had been trapped in the temple space below while investigating what they called a wound in the world on behalf of the Gatekeeper Druidic faction. A group of humans wearing the symbology of The Mockery had invaded the buried temple on their own quest for The Egg, and been driven off by the mushroom men.

Despite the plethora of fungal and mycelial puns and jokes, an alliance was agreed to deal with what they called The Wound, with one of the myconids leading the group back to a room they had previously barricaded due to the red light shining from under it. The rest of the myconids stayed to contain “the wandering flame” – whatever that is…

There was a lot of laughter and soppiness this session – along with calls for Caeluma to put the zombie goblin back down and to knit the mushroom men some scarves. A fun evening.

Oh? Sunshine? Again?

I thought we’d had all the good weather we were going to have now that people have been out and about more. I am pleasantly surprised therefore to have clear blue skies and sunshine all around as I go to pick up my prescription renewals.

Last night’s DDC game was fun for me, if no one else, in that it allowed me no small amount of GM sadism. The group is still investigating the buried remains of an old goblin temple, and had discovered several very old sets of remains from what looked like a pitched battle.

Beyond an open archway was a large room with benches along the walls and an enormous carpet that smelled awful. Rather than just take this in as a bit of scene dressing, there then followed real fear as they tried to investigate for traps, or some nefarious purpose to the carpet. At one point they thought the carpet might leap into life and try to eat them.

It was only when someone tried to flip the carpet, and the corner tore off wetly in their hand, that they accepted that their GM had been telling the truth the whole time – that it was just a carpet and there were no traps.

Okay, I may have used the “are you sure?” and “which corner are you reaching for?” approach, but I think I have done my job well in instilling caution in my players. I’m sure the next carpet will be just as innocent.

Would I lie to you?

Making the Most of Things

A colleague told me yesterday to try sitting on a tennis ball to relieve the pain that she believes is sciatica. So that happened. I shall keep an eye out for a spare, I’m sure I’ve seen one knocking around somewhere while cleaning out the library.

It’s fine. Its just pain. As long as I keep active nothing seizes up too badly.

As a morale boost though some Discworld merchandise themed around the Assassins Guild arrived at lunchtime. I used to have a diary at work based around the same organisation, and I do miss it, if only for its sleekness and the bemused expressions of colleagues.

Today had at least a portion of it devoted to arranging risk assessments for next week, so there was some productivity at least. In other news I got a bit bored and started photoshopping more pictures of myself:

At least if I go missing mysteriously there will be plenty of options for alarming photos for the media. Oh well, time for bed I think.

DDC Traps and Tribulations

I was just going back over my notes from the last couple of sessions and admiring how the group has both started to cohere and to realise that they are still learning the ropes, so to speak.

Delving down into damp lower levels was at least a break from the winter snows that had begun to fall in the morning.  The first chamber was marked by a series of statues of ancient deities of sky, earth, and stone and Wall paintings of both Dhakaani (ancient goblin) pastoral scenes and of the passage of their souls to the afterlife of Dolhurr.

There were also four human skeletons in the chamber, each missing their hands in what looked like executions. The heavy doors leading further were sealed with chains and a massive lock. Runes in Abyssal were written on the seal praising the Dragon Below. With little else to go on, a mixture of lock picking and brute force soon saw the way open.

The noise attracted the reanimated skeletons of the goblin guards, but this time the group was able to despatch them quickly with only one minor hiccup. This came when the Dragonborn Kerne chose to breath poison on the skeletons, only to find that they were immune.

The weapons of the guards were made of byeshk metal, a rare ore that made weapons capable of driving off creatures from Xoriat and so these were quickly distributed among the group, just in case. A quiver of magical arrows was also found, and the shafts of bone and obsidian were divided up among the archers in the group.

This just left a strange lever that didn’t seem to have any noticeable effect despite resistance when pulled and some doors that opened up into a wide hallway with more skeletons near the far end against one of the walls.

In their eagerness to investigate, two of the group set off a swinging spiked bar that swept across the hall before resetting. Being hit by it didn’t kill them, but did make them realise what had broken the bodies they found themselves scattered among.

Yikes

There then followed a period of searching for the trigger and how to circumvent setting the trap off again that led to a series of assisted acrobatic and athletic maneuvers to cross the hallway to relative safety, where the group huddled up against the opposite door to catch their breath and mend their wounds.

Things learned: poisoning undead rarely works, the effects of levers aren’t always obvious, and always check for traps in entry corridors.

Who knows what discoveries they’ll make this week?

DDC Shenanigans

Life continues to ebb and flow in its complexities, but the DDC continues to be a creative and entertaining source of comfort, support, and humour in all the oddness around us.

Our latest set of things has been creating quizzes and games to play through shared screens in Discord. Whoever is running the quiz sets up a PowerPoint document with questions and answers revealed in turn, while everyone works together to find the answers. Mre B created the template based on their running similar things with their friends, and myr s has taken up the baton to create rounds tailored to our various strengths and foibles.

Roughly once a week we gather of an evening to play. We start with general levity, and yet despite there not being any competition between players, there’s soon a very serious air as people try to identify TV theme tunes from sight reading music, interpret kinks by their formal clinical names, identify pop culture characters from pets dressed up as those characters, and puns based on shows where one character has been changed – and that was just for starters.

Lateral thinking, chat, and everyone trying to resist googling any answers – a fun combination that is proving as much a draw as the weekly Dungeons and Dragons session.

Oh, and then we used Roll20 to make a Trivial Pursuit board and grabbed four different sets to make a monstrous random hodgepodge of topics from Star Wars, Stranger Things, Harry Potter, and a general family edition. That got very silly, very fast. We’ll have to do that again…

The Unexpected AMA

We did a thing this weekend, quite unexpectedly, when Lady B messaged the polycule to ask if we’d be willing to gather on Discord and be part of an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on her Facebook stream.

As followers and supporters of her series of streams about her experiences of transition, we of course agreed. A couple of hours and some muffled stubbing of toes later, we were gathered round our respective devices for what was intended to be a quick half hour that turned into an hour and a half of us spinning off on tangents and laughing a lot.

I’ll add a link below to the streams recording – but I must add that the first five to ten minutes is completely silent due to a technical hitch known as “flicking the wrong switch” in Lady B’s kit.

Nevertheless, it was fun, and a good chance to talk a bit about who we are and how we relate, and our thoughts on being the oddballs that we are. So, enjoy the stream.