Map-Making Evening

I was just thinking to myself: I’ve not been playing with Inkarnate much – so after sharing a bottle of wine with Lady M over supper, I’ve been making a random map I’ll probably never use. It’s been fun thinking about how I might throw it into a travelling session however.

Anyway, here’s the small and surprisingly rich riverside village of Brookside:

The original map has been published and available to clone at https://inkarnate.com/m/GXvlOw–brookside/ – enjoy!

Don’t Split The Party

We descended on boy s at the new flat today to eat, socialise and play D&D along with Mx W and Lady B who were staying the weekend there too. We were enticed there by the offer of a roast dinner, as if we needed any real excuse to go catch up.

Roast gammon, potatoes, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower, pigs in blankets and Yorkshire puddings all featured – and with boy s finally having induction pots and pans he was able to whip up a grand feast while we nattered in the other room and I toyed with Syrinscape software to cue up a soundboard for the game.

I’ve subscribed to the site so have access to all the sound packs, and still feel like I’m only just scratching the surface of it. I happily recommend it for DMs looking for some extra atmosphere for sessions.

And what a session – heavy on the roleplay as the group attended the university’s winter fair and interacted with various oddballs and situations before finding that a sage was present who could help with their missing memories from their first adventure – if they could find him as he seemed to have disappeared from inside a locked room in the library’s guest house.

Well, one thing led to another, and now they’re trapped inside a mansion in an extradimensional pocket searching for clues for a keyword to unlock the doors and get home. So far they’ve fought a swarm of animated books, been surprised by a cat, and greeted by homonculi housekeepers. They also split up, and are scattered throughout the mansion. Normally this wouldn’t be a too much of a challenge but they were at a social event and so don’t have most of their adventuring equipment or weapons.

As a result, they’re a little jumpy. I’ve not even started playing spooky music. That said four pickled hands just scrambled out of a jar to attack the dwarf at the end of the session so here’s to the next time we all get together…

Clanning Together

The last few nights I’ve been playing Destiny with boy s and Lady B. We’re each one different platforms due to the wonders of cross play. I’m on an XBox, Lady B on a PC, and boy s on a PlayStation. We’re using Discord for voice comms and it’s turning into a nice semi regular end of an evening bit of fun.

We’re using a Clan I set up back in the first Destiny game to help organise our Roster, and it’s another good example of how tech can be tangled in new combinations to bring us all together – albeit this time united in the desire to shoot aliens in the face and dance in the middle of battlefields.

Admittedly it’s now one in the morning but as I had my Moderna booster shot this morning my arm is currently very stiff and sore so I can’t settle anyway. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I spent a fair chunk of this afternoon dozing on the sofa.

So, that’s why I’m blogging a little later today as I try to switch my brain off and curl up with Lady M. Here’s to a quiet day off and a body that continues to more or less behave for a bit

Back to Work

Ah Monday, and the inevitable panic after nearly two weeks of remembering passwords and hoping they haven’t expired. I did, and they hadn’t, so that was nice.

The first words one of my managers (and by this I mean managers working for me) said to me was: “have you lost weight?” – given the amount of time exploding from one end or the other I’d be very surprised if I hadn’t lost a few pounds. Always nice to see the sunny side of these things.

The theme of new tech continued too, with a new work phone – so in between emails and phonecalls I’ve begun the solemn duty of subverting the kit to my requirements. Should keep me busy in downtime for a bit.

I’ve also been digitally painting again, taking advantage of the touchscreen and tablet mode offered by my new laptop – I have no idea what it is, but I’m rather pleased with how it’s going

I think it needs more eyes

New Tech Please

Lady M and I decided that Christmas would come early this year as the home IT setups were frankly ancient. My collection of ancient laptops are practically steam powered, while her desktop PC is a Frankenstein’s Monster of salvaged parts from my old kit and occasional extra bits bolted on over the last ten years. Want to talk about Theseus’ Boat? I have a modern-ish day example propping up a desk in the spare room.

It all rather got pushed to the fore by the cub monopolising the spare room with his PC, and my increasing frustrations with trying to run the gaming sessions through www.dndbeyond.com and www.roll20.net with a side order of www.syrinscape.com for good measure – there may have been regular swearing and frequent use of theatre of the mind to keep people occupied while waiting for things to load. By the same token, Lady M’s podcasts and blog work had been utterly derailed by the presence of our beloved goblin.

And so we went on to Lady M’s employee perks website to see what discounts we could find, set a budget, and smiled sweetly at the credit card. It is some measure of how far we’ve come in the ten years of our marriage that we have the budget to do this and not break down in sweaty tears at the cost and guilt of spending money on ourselves.

So, a little delayed from the initially promised delivery date, we’re busy setting up and engaging with various projects that we’ve had on hold for some time. The cub is serenading us from the other room as he plays Geometry Dash and makes up his own theme tunes, and its a pleasant backdrop as we sit in geeky, nay nerdy, bliss on the sofa.

It’s also a much needed distraction from today’s date and the many firework explosions outside. I’ll need to venture out later to retrieve boy s from his workplace as he’s on a late night covering an event at Thorpe Park – though Lady M has offered to do that as a kindness, depending on how rambunctious the cub is. I may take her up on it given how broken my sleep was last night.

Your friendly neighbourhood dodgy wizard, perhaps..?

Oh, one particular joy with this new piece of kit is that it’s a convertible HP Envy, which means I can fold the screen back and the machine turns into a tablet – it has even come with a stylus pen that I had to charge up earlier.

It felt rather rude not to test this and take advantage of the form factor, so I scribbled a little something earlier – the WIP version can be seen in the Instagram feed on this page, but the final version is here in all it’s dubious glory. Cheery old geezer with possibly a wand of some description, and the world’s bushiest eyebrows.

I’ve even updated Scrivener and transferred all my files over and it takes less than an ice age to open the app and documents now – so I’ll restart editing the short stories to get back into the swing of things – again, a good distraction.

I was tempted to have another crack at Nanowrimo this year but launching myself at the intensity of that straight from nothing would be setting myself up to fail – so short stories it is. I really need to get back into the habit of writing longer pieces than these blog posts on a regular basis. Trying that while also battling the black dog wouldn’t be a kindness, so while I don’t have a deadline I can move at a slower pace.

As the saying goes: what’s the worst that could happen?

Missing The Game

One of the casualties of our moving all in together, for now at least, has been our regular Sunday game of D&D. That’s why there haven’t been any updates on that front.

We’ve thought of various ways of accommodating the new arrangements: from being in different rooms and hoping the flat’s bandwidth can keep up; to adopting a tabletop, camera, and mini microphone combination with discord and twitch Heath Robinson invention.

I think what we’re probably going to revert to is a once a month or so meeting in person, at least for now. I’m missing playing and DMing intensely but its further down the priority list than the logistics of blending our households right now.

It does give me time to do some writing for the next phase of the game though, and make some maps and encounters online for reference. There will be a small time leap to give the characters some downtime – which allows them to make some plans, and me to throw in plot devices.

If reading that doesn’t make them clamour to get started sooner so that I have less time to plot, I don’t know what will…

Plotting and Scheming

I had a new Kickstarter reward arrive today while I was out, and I’ve just spent an entertaining hour or so flicking through it and scribbling notes that may come to confuse my players – or delight them, always hard to tell.

The concept of this is that in Dungeons and Dragons a wizard may choose to release their familiar with an empowering spell. This book provides options then to play or place these creatures alongside regular characters or act as foils.

I’m considering running a short series of games to test these rules out as a break from the main story, simply because its such a fun concept.

So far the critters and the rules seem balanced and compatible with mainstream 5th Edition D&D, and there’s a nice feel to the book and pages that’s a tactile reward. The layouts and charts aren’t confusing, and there’s some lovely dry humour running through the whole thing in both the favour text and illustrations.

It definitely feels like something that started as a joke, and then inspired some inventiveness and it has made me smile after an intense couple of days.

Tidying and Writing

It’s a rare day off, so of course I’m not able to sleep in as my back decided it was time to get moving. As a result I’ve been tidying up and cleaning the kitchen to reclaim some workspace real estate

Those who know my kitchen will now be wondering what sorcery this is. Those who know me will be wondering what is out of view either side of the picture. Those who are observant will be chuckling at the deliberately placed mug.

We ended up not having a game yesterday due to general health of various people, so I’ve taken the time to start writing threads and ideas for this next stage of adventures for the DDC. In the real world we’ve been going at this a little over a year – but we haven’t quite caught up to that in the game as I wanted to reflect roughly where we are in the seasons. It’s allowed me to introduce seasonal festivals as a marker of time in the game, and harvest and autumn are upon us.

It also allows me to start dropping in some Winter Is Coming jokes, as well as references to the Unseelie Winter’s Knight that they encountered at the end of the last (unstreamed) session that we had. It was one of those encounters where there was initial giggles at the name, and then the magic users started getting very serious and respectful as they made their arcana checks.

Kerne’s sister, it appears, is a Warlock pledged to the Archfey. That Archfey is the Winter’s Knight. There are dangling plothooks to write.

I was talking around this and related points while we were celebrating boy s’ birthday – about how we’re at a point where I can use character back stories to start introducing more mythic story elements among the day to day missions and calamities that the group involves themselves in. The most intense sessions have come where the players buy in on an emotional level to the storyline and its been wonderful to DM those and see my sparse notes brought to life and embellished upon.

So, that’s got me trying out plot hooks and elements in my little black book

Shift of Plans

We’d originally planned to move boy s and the cub in this weekend but life has thrown a hiccup or two into preparations so we’re aiming to do that next week if all shifts back on course.

Instead, we’ve had a quiet day where Lady M got back in the editing suite for her podcast and I’ve been bibbling around playing Watchdogs Legion, drawing things, and the odd bit of housework.

Yesterday had all manner of excitement (despite being on leave) to sort out some recruitment. I generally don’t dip back in to work when I’m on holiday as a principle, but I had an opportunity to sort out the vacant manager role and boost morale for some people. Rude not to really. As a result, a quiet day has felt a nice reward.

This evening Lady M and I have eaten, drunk, and now retired to different xboxes. A quiet geeky household evening to round everything out.

Back to the DDC

We didn’t stream, but we did play this evening, and ran video through Discord so we could see most of our faces as video and mental states allowed. It was a gentle enough session – rounding things up from the last one as they searched the huts belonging to the Blinded Eye hags.

I dropped some plot hooks in there about Kerne’s sister, introduced them to the Winter Knight who serves Queen Mab and got them swiftly home for well deserved humour, welcome, and a thorough telling off by Tanglefinger.

So, that’s the stage set for what I’m calling Year Two of the DEC’S adventures.