Category Archives: Dungeons & Dragons

Hangout Games

Taking inspiration from erstwhile D101 Colleague Paul Mitchener who dumped his wish list of games he’d like to play over hangouts soonish the other day, here’s my list. Some of it less navel-gazing, because they are D101 releases that need playtesting, some of it is.

Monkey! I’ve got to figure out a way of adapting/streamlining Monkey to run over hangouts. At the moment the card based mechanic really shines at the table, because you get to see the opposition’s cards laid on the table before you draw yours. This is especially relevant when you are facing down multiple extras (mooks) and their bad ass boss, and you have to decide which cards in your hands are getting played where. BUT once that crease is ironed out I reckon it should shine because its already fine tuned to be a quick action packed fun fest with most adventures lasting a single 3-4 hour game session. I reckon I should be able to pack lots into a 5-8 sessions campaign. I reckon the Ministry of Thunder, a

OpenQuest: Green Hell. I want a weekly/bi-weekly game of OpenQuest like some folk run D&D. Good old classic FRP, but finely tuned to cut out the time wasting. OQ already does it Face to Face (it was my go to when my kids were very small and I only had 3-4 hours dead to run game), no reason why it shouldn’t online. I want to immerse myself in the setting I’m putting together for the adventure book Green Hell, a big bad ass Fantasy Swamp. Aspirant pseudo-Medieval Knights and Wizards vs spiky plant based horrors sounds good to me 🙂

River of Heaven. I’ve run a couple of RoH games at conventions and always had a good time. Now I want to do a short campaign. Either a continuation of the Starshine adventure , which is basically “you are fugitives on the run with your own ship, GO!” or a short focused sand boxy campaign on ‘Red Mars’, with the the characters being on the wrong side of both the Imperial Chinese and the US Military who both have colony’s on the planet.

Crypts and Things: Underdark Spires. This is one of the adventures I’m spitting out as part of the C&T Kickstarter as an addon. I’ve played bits at conventions, and I could easily playtest the remaining bits as standalone, but I want to stress test it as a whole. I want to see characters ground into the dust, driven mad or warped by corruption. Or (more likely) see a clever bunch of players heroically overcome all the weird madness this mini-campaign chucks out at them.

Moving onto games that I don’t publish, to show I’ve got a bit fo depth to me 🙂

Tenra Bansho Zero – run once, played once at conventions. Would love to explore this gem some more. It hits my dials for batshit oriental Gonzo, plus the play framework of startup-scenes-intermission-more scenes + simple d6 system really hits my sweet spot for game design too.

Dungeon World: Megadungeon Ran this as my first series of Hangout games, and for a while, it was my go-to hangouts game. Then suddenly it stopped and I didn’t play via hangouts until my recent game of Beyond Dread Portals a game written by and run by +Paul Mitchener (look out for this one when D101 publishes it later this year). I was running the mega-dungeon I wrote when I was 15-16 from memory and it was working out most excellent, providing great improvisational nuggets under DW where it never really holds water for as an overly complex logical AD&D adventure.

Feng Shui This is more of a wish list game, one I’d possibly like to play, but that lovely 2nd Edition sitting on the shelf gathering dust needs to get some use and be made part of my gaming landscape once more.

HeroQuest Glorantha I’ve been away too long. HQ is a great pick up and play game, quick flavoursome character generation, and is the ideal way of running zero to EPIC hero in about dozen of more adventures. I know HQ Glorantha is quite a niche game, but I may seriously look at this as being my first game to run via hangouts.

7 Hills 2016

So 7 Hills, the con that snuck up on me.

Everytime I looked down at the clock, I was suddenly much closer to 7 Hills held arround Easter time annually. The fact that Easter was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay early this year and I was focused on other stuff (getting Crypts and Things Remastered the damn deal done and the recent OpenQuest Bundle of Holding) meant that my sense of time was completely off on this one.

So boosch I’m in the car with the esteemed John Ruddy driving me through Manchester commuters rushing to go home for the weekend, the misty tops of the Pennines and then all too soon into the land of 7Hills, Furnace and Sheffield Wednesday Football club, Hillsborough Sheffield.

We arrived early about 5 ish, gassed much to the huddle of other early people and then I ordered the traditional Veggie Burger n chips.  Then talked in to the evening and drank too much as usual (but don’t worry God lets me get away with one night of excess 😉 ). Highlight of the night had to be Declan bequeathing Neil the “Box of stuff” that had been in the attic……(see the pictures below to see why).

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After shaking off any hint of hangover over a fresh and frank breakfast which included much chat about the state of RQ/Chaosium/CoC 7th Ed/OpenQuest I was off to get my stuff together for the first slot of the day.

If the wind changes...
Before Breakfast
After Breakfast
After Breakfast

Which for me was me running the New West, for two players (Malcolm and Tom). This is a game of Cowboys and Indians (and occasionally Dinosaurs) at the centre of the Hollow Earth, using Dr Mitch’s straightforward and streamlined Fate variant Fortune (see Hunters of Alexandria for a published version of this rule set).  We had a great time, the small number of players allowed me to focus on the loud and rawkous action that this game tends to produce.  The stars of this Saturday Morning Cowboy, survived a ride by shooting, an assassination attempt during a ballroom brawl (that’s right they kicked off during tea time in the 1st class restaurant) on the steam boat that they were travelling up river on, narrowly avoided an Undefeated regiment of Confederates armed with maxim guns and cannon by use of Egyptology, before facing off with the ancient guardian of an ancient technology that controls the weather (and more). All good fun 🙂

Lunch was the predictable Cheese and Onion pasties, but I was 80% close to getting a salad (honest), from Morrisons just across the road from the venue. A quick set of stretches to fight off fatigue and then back to the main gaming room….

…to find my afternoon game of OpenQuest: The Last Retreat had received no sign ups. Nada, zero, natch. Which to be honest doesn’t surprise me.  I’ve over twenty years experience  of GMing at conventions and I’ve seen systems I’ve run come and go as player interest waxes and wanes. I suspected that OQ (which to be honest plays on the simple joy of D100 fantasy) had outstayed its welcome and this confirmed it. I’ve run it numerous times and its now got many more sexy looking competitors, so this time even my energy for it (rejuvenated by the recent success of the OQ Bundle of Holding) wasn’t going to magically manifest players.

So I took the afternoon off and perused the many shiny books being sold by Jim of Patriot Games, and had a good natter about the state of the UK RPG Industry.

Myself and the esteemed Guy Milner snuck off to our usual Top Sekret Saturday Evening Tea time retreat to find that it had been significantly leveled up since we had last been there. Nom 🙂

The it was time for my last GMing session of the weekend: Sorcerer Under the Mountain, my OSR tribute to the Fighting Fantasy Dungeons of my youth like the Warlock Of Firetop Mountain.  System wise I choose The Black Hack, a very simple cut down version of D&D that effectively uses the best rulings from a number of its incarnations and cuts out the chaff to give a complete version of the game in about 20 pages. I playtested it at home with a mix of curious & grognard players, and had pretty much the same here. Both times it went down a storm 🙂 At some point soon The Sorcerer Under the Mountain will be on D101’s release schedule, so look out for it if you are interested 😉

The Black Hack rules!
The Black Hack rules!

I wasn’t going to risk God’s wrath so virtually no booze and an early night on Saturday (11pm!) so I can be up bright and early for Sunday’s shenanigans.

Breakfast was pleasant (and filling) but far less controversal than Saturdays.  A quick freshen up and check out of the room (which was as usual very pleasant and homely for my stay) and then it was back to the venue for slot 1.

Which was Neil Smith’s epic rendition of Tenra Bansho ZeroTHE HyperBlast Asian game.  TBZ for those of you who’ve not come across its gentle charms is a Japanese Roleplaying game lovingly translated into two thick graphic novel sized books – one setting introduction and the other the rules. The setting is  mad as a box of frogs – in that its full on Manga Sci-fi meets Samurai Action Flick. The rules straight forward ( a very clever dice pool system ) with a strong framework of play that allows fast character driven action and plot development.  Neil was using the more sedate Ruined Empire setting, that is less maximum metal turned up to 11 than the default Tenra setting but perhaps better suited to the political game of intrigue he had us six players embroiled in from Scene Zero (the opening scene, were each player plays out a quick intro to put their character into context of the adventure to come).  I’m still not convinced it is something that I run as a con game, despite my rather giddy proclamations in the post-game-glow. I’d probably have to run a successful run at home first. But I enjoyed it immensely. Unlike some other games where it’s all about the collective story of the party, I could tell you six stories about each of the characters as a result of that game.

Quick spot of lunch, then the traditional Raffle! What’s in the D101 Magic Bag?  You’ll have to ask Thomas Lock who was first out of the hat and picked it as his prize 😉

The D101 Magic Bag!
The D101 Magic Bag!

Last game of the con was Guy Milner’s 13th Age  tribute to Village of Homlett. I say tribute because Guy played hard and fast following the scenario as written. But hey that’s ok because 13th Age is written to do that, with its narrative cunning and its clever and fast mechanical bits that work to uplift the bits that tend to drag in normal D&D. A very good game, which had all the players engaged and laughing in what can be a difficult slot due to player fatigue.

Maximum thanks to the organisers Paul Mitchener and Graham Spearing. Thanks to every  one who I played or talked to.

Already looking forward to next year’s installment which has the theme of Urban Legends.