The event formerly known as ImpromptuCon18 took place yesterday in Fanboy3 Manchester, just some great gamers getting together to play some cracking RPG’s.

We had two tables between 10am and 5pm (ish), and by all accounts everyone had a great time.

  • AM: Traveller and DCC
  • PM: Tunnels and Trolls and DCC

Can’t wait for the next one!

Traveller was GM Tim’s first time running since the old days. The players said he was fantastic, hope to play this myself sometime.
Morning DCC level 0 funnel. Disappointingly 12 out of 18 peasants survived; they breezed past the first three rooms without a casualty due to some clever play and extreme luck. Didn’t take too long for the bodies to start piling up and the graveyard to fill up after that though.
The afternoon DCC crew in a thoughtful moment. There are lots of tables in DCC but they add so much too the game. Note the Beholder Satellite over the Tunnels and Trolls table.

Better Than Any Man: So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye

Now that we’re back onto the main BTAM plot the usual Spoilers ahead alert applies. This session Balock (played by @Benelio) and Maldron (played by @TonyLayter) were once more at a point of indecision. Where to next? What to do next?

Following last weeks happenings Captain Hermann of the watch suggested they follow up the job of bringing the heads of The Seven to the Prince-Bishop Franz Von Hatzfeld for which there is a substantial reward. They start the day questioning locals about goings on in the area; what do they know about The Seven and Karlstadt and where have all these damned insects come from? While checking out the details on the town noticeboard they see another job about a bandit problem in Thüngen. With the rest of the party unavailable for duty they decide to chase down Adelbert Klepzig at The Iron Pig Tavern.

Wurzburg Thungen Notice 2

Adelbert is an intense fellow, clearly not a man of any significant means. Tempting the adventurers with booze, but not yet cheese (that will be after the job has been agreed), he tells them that the small village of Thüngen has been taken over by vicious bandits led by a ruthless cur going by the name of Dittmar. The bandits are waylaying travellers heading east with the help of the villagers; of course the poor inhabitants are not doing this willingly, Dittmarr and his gang are holding their children hostage with a threat of killing them if they don’t comply.  They have already killed Thoffson the Dane because he raised an arm against them.

Adelbert doesn’t have any family, but is concerned about his business suffering – he offers 50 pieces of silver to rid Thüngen of the bandits and hints that the grateful villagers will likely give a further reward. Unable to bear the thought of these children suffering the battled hardened Black Dogs take up the offer (with a round of cheese to seal the deal), but first decide to visit the Marienburg Fortress to speak to the Prince Bishop about The Seven.


At the foot of the bridge crossing the River Main they meet Captain Hermann again who introduces them to Captain Wilfred Linden, a member of the Prince-Bishops guard. Captain Linden, a cocksure but clearly capable soldier is unconvinced of their credentials and ability to aid Wurzburg and the Prince-Bishop until they reveal their Black Dog tatoos. They are taken into the fortress past other guards, training soldiers and then Von Hatzfeld’s security. Their weapons taken from them they wait a couple of hours for their audience.

wu_marienberg450When they finally meet Franz Von Hatzfeld they discover he is a typical noble, arrogant, self-assured and easily bored. However they learn a little more of the threat in Karlstadt and why The Seven must be killed, their heads mounted on the walls of Wurzburg to show the invading Swedes the good folk of Wurzburg will not tolerate the devils work. They also discover that Von Hatzfeld places no value on the lives of the folk of Thüngen, and that each day a few merchants take goods to the refugees outside Karlstadt. As soon as the Prince-Bishop agrees to hire them for the job, he is disturbed by a servant who whispers in his ear, and as a result quickly concludes his business with the Black Dogs. He asks them to attend him on the field to the south of Wurzburg where the witch trials are being held; their loyalty to the cause of killing creatures of evil will be tested there.

2_the-last-witch-beheaded-in-europeMaking their final preparations to leave the town the troubled duo find that in response to their request for assistance from Franz Von Hatzfeld they have been allocated Captain Hermann who seems happy to accompany them and get away from the confines of the town. Before they can leave they take a reluctant final trip to the witch trials to witness the horror and brutality suffered by the poor women accused of witchcraft. As they approach, one of the victims, Alfrida Turmgever, is brought forward accused of dancing naked in her home and consorting with animals by Petran Longingbruck, a Burhger of the town. Knowing that he has no choice a conflicted Maldron carries out the Prince-Bishop’s order to execute the woman, and he swiftly beheads her, a quicker and more merciful death than she would have suffered at the hands of these more ‘civilised folk’.

Disturbed by the encounter Balock and Maldron, accompanied by Captain Hermann leave Wurzburg, glad to put the place behind them. They are lucky to be travelling by horse, one an old nag provided by Adelbert Klepzig so they can quickly reach Thüngen, the other acquired by Hermann from the watch stables. Anticipating reaching the village of Zellingen before dark they travel for a few hours, the stunning countryside a balm for the misery of Wurzburg. However, there seems to be no escape from the plague of insects that seems to infest the area.

Passing a farm off the road, a field of wheat between themselves and the small farmhouse, Balock notices a hand protruding from wheat and a head that seems to be looking at them strangely. Their curiosity piqued and never shy of getting into trouble, they decide to investigate and discover that to their horror the head and hand are severed and impaled on poles, then they see other body parts of different sizes similarly impaled and blood pooled beneath each. Trails of blood lead to the door of the farmhouse. What the hell is going on here they ask…

b7b7fc9c95649b40898f8d69d571243aThe noise they make searching the barn gives the insane Swedish soldier inside the farmhouse a chance to don his breastplate, grab his sword and load and prime his musket. When they open the door it’s no surprise that Maldron has his arm nearly taken off by a musket ball. A quick retreat and they fall back on the tried and tested method of setting the wooden farmhouse alight, waiting for the maniac to run out where they can more easily deal with him. Their plan works to a point, but the Swede climbs out of one of the boarded windows around the back. A fight ensues and despite the Swede being a brute and a capable fighter they are able to quickly dispatch him. The farmhouse on fire they decide to make a quick withdrawal in case other Swedish soldiers are nearby, and after grabbing the breastplate, sword and musket, head off to the village of Zellingen.

Better Than Any Man: He Slimed Me

Last session saw the Black Dogs descend into the dark, damp and thoroughly unpleasant basement of The Dogs Head tavern, a place they had discovered was used for torture and worse of children. All rooms off the corridor had been explored except the last one behind which could be the hellish monster; a collection of small body parts in various states of decay held together by an acidic slime. We left the group as Maldron was about to pull back the curtain covering the entrance to this room; perhaps it wasn’t too surprising that there was no monster there – only a bed-frame and a hole in the far wall, with traces of slime leading up to it.

The insistent shouting and banging on the tavern door could still be heard. Suddenly Balock and Maldron hear the door to the tavern smashed open and decide to crawl through the hole. A closer inspection reveals that the hole is in a concealed door – perhaps a route used by smugglers or for more nefarious means. With shouts of angry tavern goers behind the adventurers strike on through the tunnel which is dark and cramped.

Before too long the passage opens into a larger room which contains a stack of bones, perhaps other victims of the monster, for they find personal items amongst the skeletal remains; a comb, spoons, a brooch. A large chest is discovered which contains a nice haul; a large bag of silver coins and two gems in a wooden box.

Smugglers EntranceNow all is quiet behind and they do not believe they are being followed the PC’s continue along the tunnel and before too long they can hear rushing water. The tunnel opens in the side of the wharf with the river below; a distance to the left a wooden platform with steps up to the dockside. Balock climbs up onto the dock in time to see the scoundrels from The Dogs Head approaching – three ruffians and the priest from Wurzburg Cathedral. As Maldron and Miklos scramble up onto the dock the ruffians attack, but are quickly dispatched – one skewered by Balocks rapier, another sliced in half by Maldron. The priest flees shouting “Murder, murder!”, trying to get the guards to intervene.

The Black Dogs chase the priest who heads down a dark alleyway, in an attempt to escape. As the PC’s reach the top of the alleyway they can make out the priest, now just a silhouette, stop in his tracks. The light changes in the alley and the priest runs back towards the characters, but seems to be overtaken by an amorphous form, the light subtly twisting as it moves. There is no scream, and the adventurers decide it is time to take this creature head on. Nearby two city watchmen approach the dockside not far away and discover the bodies of the thugs – will they help or hinder the PC’s?

edb1401189428a55e32fb42d139b1257A brief battle follows, our hero’s (such as they are) versus a nightmarish creature borne from the suffering and agony of children; Balock’s bolts do little damage and Maldron seems to be unable to hit the creature. The slime encrusted body parts lash out at Maldron who is injured, and is then infected with the Grim Pox (we’ll find out more about that next week, hehe). Meanwhile Miklos keeps a distance, firing his crossbow when he can and healing the injured Maldron. More crossbow bolts slice small parts from the creature’s mass, then Maldron strikes a lucky blow, slicing the monster in half and Miklos finishes it off with a well aimed bolt.

It is not too long before the watchmen arrive on the scene, Hermann is summoned and the whole matter concluded. Maldron and Balock want to dig deeper, find out who’s really behind the horrific happenings at The Dogs Head, but Hermann reminds them that no one is offering to pay while the Prince-Bishop, Franz Von Haltfeld is offering a significant reward for the heads of The Seven, the Sorcerers of Karlstadt.

The next day Hermann brings the 500 silvers reward to the Sword and Flagon, the Inn which has served as their base. Now the Black Dogs need to decide what to do next…

Better Than Any Man: The Trepidatious Trio

After lasts week’s session being cancelled due to England playing Columbia in the World Cup we pick up this week with Maldron (@TonyLayter) recovering from his drunken stupor and tracking down Balock (@Benelio) and Miklos (@Lintillaz) as they ponder on what the hell to do about the horror in the basement of The Dogs Head tavern, and how they might explain the death of Emil Traschelmann to his mother Lucinda.

There is a lot of discussion and debate. Should they go back in and tackle the creature? Would it be better to wait until after dark and see who enters The Dogs Head? How about setting the tavern (and likely a large part of the town) on Fire? Or just doing a runner…?


That’s a lot of questions that took a fair bit of time to work through. Their discussions took them from the alley to a rather pleasant inn where they paid well over the odds for some ale and cheese. Over lunch one thing was decided – a visit to the local Blacksmith to acquire some new weapons. After much haggling Miklos came away with a second hand but functional scimitar while Balock acquired a brace of balanced throwing dagger. The Blacksmith was certain these weapons would find use once the Swedes arrive…

After checking in on Mathilda, who was now being looked after by the barmaids at the Sword and Flagon, the hapless trio headed back down to Fisherman’s Wharf with a vague idea of how they might continue their investigation. They were passing the watch tower at the east end of the bridge leading to the Marienburg Fortress when they were hailed by Hermann, the guard who had initially put them onto the Traschelmann case. Balock quizzed Hermann about the watchman who had discovered the bodies on the previous four mornings; this resulted in them being lead to Henroth Blassman at his home. Henroth told them all he could of the bodies and his patrol route, but there was little information of any use; there was little flesh left on the skeletal remains of the victims, three of whom were found in crawling positions, the fourth slumped against a wall, and a residue of acidic slime was near all four bodies.

The Mainz WurzburgAs the sun started to set the indecisive gang headed back to Fisherman’s Wharf, still unclear on their plan of action. They chose to keep an eye out from the water side and before too long spotted a hooded figure entering The Dogs Head tavern. At last, direct action was taken and our Black Dogs entered the tavern and were soon questioning the owner, Liphardus Verbogen. Liphardus tried to escape via the side door but a thrown spear from Miklos and a tackle by Balock soon put a stop to that. Clearly this vile man had something to hide.

Before too long there was a banging on the door and a voice shouting from outside, “Open up Liphardus!”. The party, not wanting to hang around pushed Liphardus down the steep steps to the basement; unfortunately (depending on your perspective) he landed awkwardly and broke his arm. Now in pain and shock he is little use to the party. Once more they check out the dark, damp, grim corridor with torture rooms behind the curtains; the content of these rooms is enough to turn even the strongest stomach. As they move down the corridor, expecting to meet the slimy, body part filled mass of horror they had previously encountered, Liphardus moaned in pain and each Black Dog had his weapons drawn, ready for… something.

They reached the final curtain where Maldron pulled back the curtain to reveal…



ImpromptuCon18 is nearly here, taking place on Saturday 28th July at Fanboy3 in Manchester.

But before we go any further, a disclaimer. It’s not a Con and it’s barely impromptu. It came about because my daughter had called upon dad’s taxi service to take her and some friends to the big ComicCon in Manchester Central on that day. I had a choice – after dropping them off I could either drive back home to Liverpool and pick them up later or find something to do for the day in Manchester. Thus an idea was born…

I know there are a few Grognards in the Manchester area so I made the suggestion on Twitter and now we have two tables with 12 seats. The plan for the day is:

  • 10am start 5pm finish
  • Two tables, two 3 hour sessions with an hour for a pie and pint in between
  •  is running Traveller
  •  is running Tunnels & Trolls
  • I’ll run Dungeon Crawl Classics (maybe a two slot depending on other GM’s)

If you are in the Manchester area and are interested in joining us we have a couple of seats left, or if there’s enough interest and enough GM’s could book a third table – just let me know  if you’d like to join us.

There is a small charge payable to Fanboy3 for the table – £3 per game.

Finally thanks to  for booking the tables and offering to run Traveller,  for offering to GM and  for the amazing logo.

Four Against Darkness

Four Against Darkness cover showing four heroes discovering treasure in a dungeonI grabbed this game in PDF a while back and had a little dabble, but it just didn’t click with me. Not so long ago I had a notification from the publisher Ganesha Games that the game had been revised and when I looked again I saw a few changes and a lot more support. With the recent spate of lulu.com vouchers I thought I might give it more of a go if I had it in print, so I bought the core rules and the Caves of the Kobold Slave Master module.

This is a small format softback book with a few pieces of black and white art inside. The colour cover captures the tone of the game – we’re off on a big dungeon crawl! The book has 2 pages of content listing and no index and after a read through I feel could do with some reorganisation. Following the RPG standards of intro, character creation and equipment we jump to How Monsters Attack, then the tables for generating dungeons – but after that a mix of encounters, spells, wandering monsters – it could just have done with a little more structure.

Photo of game materials - rules, character sheets, monster tracker and graph paper
All set to go dungeoneering. Rules, character sheets, monster tracker and graph paper.

Even with a thorough read through this lack of organisation was initially a hindrance during play as it was tricky to find what I was after e.g. elements of combat are spread across the How Monsters Attack and later Encounters section, but after a few encounters it became much easier. There really isn’t too much to it system wise.

Character classes include the four bastions of OSR gaming: Warrior, Cleric, Rogue, Wizard. We have Elf, Dwarf and Halfling as race as class and Barbarian thrown in for good measure. The classes all feel distinct and bring various strengths to the game, but because it is so simple one Warrior feels very much like another.

Photo of rule book and created characters
Grimhault, Talmar, Xavier and Midigya ready to adventure. Character creation is very easy.

The mechanism for building the dungeon could’t be simpler – grab some graph paper, roll a D6 and draw the matching dungeon entrance. Select which path to take, then roll for the room that appears. There are 36 room and corridor options in all, rolled with D66 (i.e. like D100 but with D6’s). The room or corridor (which are mechanically a bit different from rooms) can be oriented in any direction and there is guidance on how to handle overlapping rooms and rooms at the edge of the paper. Once the location has been added roll 2d6 on the Room Contents Table; this can give anything from empty rooms to treasure, traps, vermin, minions, weird monsters, boss monsters, special events or special features. Each has it’s own table to determine what happens – maybe an encounter with some goblins, a Medusa or a cursed altar. There’s enough variety here to give some interesting outcomes – bribing monsters, fighting, effects on the party, quests, and magic items, certainly enough to add variety for a few play sessions.

Map of the dungeon half way through
Half way through the dungeon. The rules give handy icons to track progress and know what is in rooms when you reenter them.

Combat and actions are resolved by rolling a D6 (with 6’s exploding) – if you attack a monster roll D6 plus an Attack modifier (Warriors add their level, Clerics add their level vs undead, Rogues add their level if the party outnumbers their opponents). If you roll the monsters level or higher you kill one vermin/minion or one hit point of damage to a boss or weird monster.  Multiples of damage can be caused with lucky rolls – a series of 6’s could kill a boss monster with one attack. When you are attacked you have to roll over the monsters level on D6 adding your Defense modifier for armour, shield or a class bonus. If you fail that character loses 1 health, with some monsters causing other effects such as poison. Actions and Saves are resolved in a similar manner, for example a trap might have a level of 4 which must be rolled on a D6 to avoid.

Combats are quick, however they aren’t the only choice when an encounter occurs.  You do have the option to negotiate with some monsters which can result in them asking for a bribe to let you pass or them fleeing the room. If you negotiate and they choose to attack then they strike first in combat; because of this I didn’t negotiate at all and became the ultimate murder hobo. Once a combat is over you may be able to roll on the Treasure Table which can give anything from a few coins to gems, jewellery, scrolls or magic items.

Wizards and Elves are limited to six spells but include the classics of Fireball and Sleep. A choice of 3 spells is made per dungeon although this can be expanded by collecting scrolls as treasure rewards. Clerics have 3 Blessing spells and 3 uses of Healing per dungeon as well.

Photo of game in progress
Mid session disorganisation – I need a bigger desk.

Besides all this there are wandering monsters, secret doors, clues and hidden treasures. Wandering monsters can appear when exploring an empty room or as a special event. These are nasty as they always get first attack and if you are in a corridor they attack the two party members at the back – often your weakest characters. Secret doors, clues and hidden treasure can be found when searching an empty room. While these all have different game affects clues are the most interesting as when you have three of them you get a nice bit of information such as the location of a magic item.

At some point in the dungeon you will encounter the Final Boss – the chances of this increase as you defeat more bosses and weird monsters and if you explore all of the rooms in the dungeon the Final Boss is in the last room. This boss has one more hit point and attack than the usual bosses, but lots more treasure. After defeating the boss you will want to make your way back through the dungeon to the entrance; it’s likely you will do this but you may well encounter wandering monsters.

As you adventure characters gain experience and can level up. Each time you defeat a boss or weird monster or defeat 10 minion encounters roll over a characters current level to gain a level (two can level with a boss monster). This basic book covers up to level 5 although Four Against the Abyss takes our characters up to level 9.

Photo of characters, monsters and map when game completed
Two World Cup football matches and much dungeon crawling later I defeat the unnamed boss dragon and safely make it out of the dungeon.

The book finishes with some guidance and frequently asked questions and presents optional rules for using FAD as a stand alone RPG, followed by a useful flowchart and quick reference tables.

That’s about it. I really enjoyed playing this game and want to give it another run through while the rules are fresh in my mind – I expect the session to be considerably different. The game has an active community backing it on Facebook which gives an indicator of it’s popularity.


  • Quick to read
  • Simple rules
  • Fast to play
  • Captures Dungeon Crawling Experience
  • Great community


  • Rules could do with reorganisation