Better Than Any Man: Going to Goblin Hill

Warning: BTAM spoilers ahead!

On an overcast, rain sodden October morning the Black Dogs march out of Thungen, cross a bridge over the Wern and strike out North East towards the heavily wooded hills, the supposed location of Goblin Hill. The ground is slick with the wet first fallen leaves of autumn and the unseasonal carpet of insects crawling over them.


Gunther Mohl, the captured bandit leader strikes a fair pace and the morning easily passes, however at one point Esmerelda notices figures flitting through the shadows off to the side – for now she keeps it to herself. Close to midday the party spot a lone figure sitting against a tree, and a closer investigation shows its is just a small boy of no more than 7 or 8 summers; grubby from living outdoors, thin from lack of food, yet still with a mischievous glint in his eyes. Hemming’s natural distrust of just about anyone has started to rub of on Miklos as the pair of them fully expect some trap or trickery; Balock is more trusting and of the group comes across as the least likely to cause trouble. None of the new Black Dogs, Ingrid, Esmerelda and Genevieve have any particular interest in the child.

Questioning the boy, they learn his name – Berwic – and that he is in the woods with his sister and a gang of other abandoned children, all looking to survive under the leadership of the oldest boy Wilfried. Eventually the conversation leads to questions about Goblin Hill and what these children might know. Berwic offers to take one of the PC’s to meet Wilfried, but they must be unarmed; the boy points to Balock who he seems to trust the most. While the rest of the Black Dogs wait in the cold and damp, Berwic leads Balock off into the woods; doubling back to hide the trail and make sure he’s not being followed.

At last they come to a small clearing where an older boy, introducing himself as Wilfried, awaits with a couple of other children. Berwic explains that Balock is after information about Goblin Hill – the children call this Insect Hill because of all the bugs there. In exchange for all of his rations and a fine dagger (which Balock had concealed) Wilfried tells the rogue about the north entrance to the hill. He followed a gang of men wearing hoods who led a chained gang of people to the northern doors where they knocked and handed them over. Trying to confirm the nature of the masked villains, Balock pulls a hood out of his pack – Wilfried misunderstands and the kids flee.  Balock realising he doesn’t know quite where he is tries to follow the trail back to the rest of the party, but becomes lost and it is some hours before he finds his way back. With just a few hours of daylight remaining the adventurers travel a little further before setting up camp.


With no fire, little moonlight and drizzling rain it is a miserable night. However as Miklos and Esmerelda take the last watch they see a glowing figure rushing towards them, moving with an unnatural celerity. Before they can react both are frozen; as the ghostly figure approaches it’s grotesque distorted face halts just inches from Miklos’ and it looks intently at him – the cleric has the feeling it is looking past his physical presence, perhaps into his soul. After just a moment the spectre does the same to the rest of the party; oblivious to it’s presence they sleep through. Then it returns to Miklos and it’s face changes into a warmer, friendlier visage before moving through the whole party and then disappearing.While the characters are not quite sure what has just happened, it’s a pleasure to give the players some good news – between now and the end of the game each character can change the result of any one dice roll.

Rested and fed the party continue their journey to Goblin Hill, fully expecting to reach the dreaded haunt of The Mother and her Insect Cult before the end of the day. A reflective mood comes over the adventurers as they feel themselves moving towards a conclusion; how Hemming’s lack of empathy for his fellow man has only intensified, how Miklos has become far more cynical, less ready to trust, more willing to take life, and how Balock of the three original Black Dogs has held onto his humanity with both hands and still shows a compassionate, caring side.  They are shaken from their reverie by a sad scene – a woman hanging from a tree, dead only a day or two. Hoofprints can still be seen with no evidence of human footprints. How did this poor woman meet her end? Was her life taken by force, or did she bring it about herself, perhaps lost to the despair and suffering this terrible war has brought.

The day moves on and within a few more hours the bulk of Goblin Hill can be seen through the dense trees. Insects now crawl everywhere and the air is thick with mosquitoes and midges. Gunther asks to be set free – he tells the Black Dogs that the back door is not far now. Hemming and Miklos do not trust him and refuse to let him go; he is given one a route to freedom though – take up arms on behalf of the party, lead them into Goblin Hill and when all is done he will be set free. With no alternative the bandit agrees, his hands are untied and he is armed with a spear and dagger.

Moving much closer towards the entrance described by Gunther a roughly carved wooden sign is seen with two words; ‘Welcome!’ in German and ‘Beware!’ in Arabic. Bushes across the secret entrance are pulled aside and reveal a large cave mouth with a tunnel heading down into the darkness beyond. Itching and scratching from the inescapable insect infestation, the party form up, torches and lamps are lit and they advance into the darkness.


The tunnel floor is made of compressed earth, at least what can be seen through the insects crawling all over it. Every couple of feet a stone rod appears to stretch across the tunnel floor; these could be the edges of stairs, the gaps between now filled with ancient soil. Moving slowly, cautiously with weapons ready and eyes alert to danger the party feel the darkness closing in; the air shimmers with all kinds of insects, many attracted to the glow of the lamps and torches and it takes a moment for the mind to adjust as the floor seems to writhe and surge, thick with crawling bugs. All that can be heard is a constant rustle, the creeping of tiny legs of tiny carapaces, millions upon millions of them.

It takes a few minutes of careful, steady progress before the corridor seems to open into a larger cavern – although it is difficult to tell as the range of their light is limited. Referring to the map taken from Gunther, the Black Dogs believe they know where to go, how to proceed. Onwards into the darkness they go…

Better Than Any Man: Chaos in Karlstadt

Warning: BTAM spoilers ahead!

Having gone a Sorcerer too far last week the Black Dogs flee The Defenders house, both physically and spiritually battered and bruised. How did it come to this – with three of The Seven dispatched, how could they be so easily beaten by the genteel and unassuming Griselda Uhrlitz and her creature? Will they be able to kill one more of The Seven before leaving Karlstadt?

The streets of Karlstadt are in chaos; a multitude of fires started by the conspirators under direction of the PC’s illuminate the early morning gloom, spreading warmth and terror across the town; refugees run, cry, panic and generally get in the way as it becomes clear the Swedish Army really has arrived outside the overcrowded refugee camp; cries and screams of despair from the refugee camp carry through the still post dawn air as the refugees come to understand their fate is sealed. And amongst all this Balock, Hemming and Miklos head to the conspirators house, hoping to rest and heal before taking their leave.


Before they get too close to the conspirators house they see a distressing scene unfolding outside. Hugo Beck and the remaining conspirators (including Luise Betz who they rescued from the Burgerfriendensmiliz the day before) stand in a line with their hands bound behind their backs. Surrounded by the Milizionare the conspirators are questioned by Ingeborg Stoltz The Watcher who is overshadowed by her two terrible creates, one a floating mound of diseased winged flesh that constantly shifts in and out of focus and the other a huge eyeball in a giant levitating cube. The Black Dogs observe the conversation but cannot hear; remaining in the shadows they move to the rear of a nearby house, hoping they may get an opportunistic strike at The Watcher.

It seems the sorcerer loses her patience and steps back instructing her creatures to attack. As the PC’s watch the diseased creature touches Hugo Beck and he starts to swell with tumorous growths, his body twisting in agony, his ravaged throat screaming in torment. His fellow conspirators do not get a chance to see his doom as they are electrocuted by lances of electricity which stream from the cubed creature; as their leader’s lifeless body crumples to the floor their own flesh is ruptured from within as they writhe and ultimately collapse, their flesh melted, their hearts ash.


Having positioned themselves in a building not far from The Watcher, Hemming aims and releases his remaining Magic Missile – ravenous chomping skulls fly toward her. Attention focussed on the conspirators, Ingeborg Stoltz realises too late that magic has been used against her and in turn screams as the skulls devour her flesh, her bones, her clothes, leaving only a head on the bloody ground. Before any of the militia or the watching crowd can identify them, using previously acquired Burgerfriedensmiliz hoods they head to the Dammen house where they first entered the city (and indeed through foul murder brought an end to Gawinus Dammen).

Taking pity of Magdalyn Dammen and her son Ruben, Balock convinces the cold hearted Hemming and the world weary Miklos to take them through the tunnel and escape the Swedes. As a group the five find the basement tunnel and leave Karlstadt. The codeword prompt “The Owl hoots twice” is asked by a female voice which surprises the PC’s, but is correctly answered with “but never thrice”… and entirely in character Hemming sends Magdalyn and her son up the ladder at the end of the tunnel into the deserted farmhouse first. When they climb the ladder themselves they are confronted by three women who introduce themselves as Ingrid Kalten, Genevieve Kurtz and Esmerelda Drau – and it doesn’t take long for both groups to identify themselves as Black Dogs. The women are accompanied by a rough and ready man who is bound and gagged who they introduce as Gunther Mohl. Ingrid (a new PC) relates their tale; they were tasked by Niklaus Stein to track down the sorcerer know as The Mother who is believed to be leading an Insect God cult in Goblin Hill. Travelling from the north (avoiding the Swedish Army) they came across an abandoned farmhouse which seemed to be haunted, but investigation showed otherwise – it was the hideout of bandits. When attacked Ingrid and her band fought the bandits killing all but their leader Gunther. Gunther is only alive because he knows of a secret entrance into Goblin Hill and has a map which may prove useful. The bandits also had a small girl with them, but when combat broke out she fled into the basement of the house and disappeared.

Esmerelda, Genevieve and Ingrid join the crew

Hemming, Miklos and Balock relate their tale to the newcomers and it seems they have a common goal; to kill The Mother. Gunther agrees to guide all of the Black Dogs to Goblin Hill, and so forces are joined and after some healing the party leaves Karlstadt.

Two wagons that somehow made it across the River Main are spotted fleeing to the east and while the travellers wouldn’t take the Black Dogs with them, they offered to take good care of Magdalyn and Ruben. With a day or more of walking ahead of them the PC’s head to Thungen, a village they left an impression on during their last visit. Deciding to rest before taking on Goblin Hill they spend two nights recuperating from their battles. On the first night Ingrid, while on watch, hears two horses galloping through the village heading from west to east; then the next day a father and son arrive, weary and bedraggled. The father tells that the Swedes were slaughtering the refugees, luckily as a strong swimmer he was able to cross the River Main with his son – now they are going to keep moving east.

Despite the insects the party rest a second night, but can’t help notice the yellow glow coming from Karlstadt many miles to the west. The next morning, well rested, provisioned and geared up they head towards Goblin Hill.


Better Than Any Man: The Tale of shortly lived Shylock

Warning: BTAM spoilers ahead!

Last session we left the Black Dogs mid-combat, scrapping with The Provider and her creature. Accompanied by a handful of conspirators, Balock and Hemming were joined by a new PC, one of Hugo Beck’s conspirator lieutenants, Shylock the Specialist. A long time resident of Karlstadt and a hunter in the area, he has a good knowledge of The Seven and a strong desire to see them deposed.

The flickering flames across town (started by conspirators at the Black Dogs request) cast dancing shadows and mixed with the cries of terror from the refugees outside the town create a strange and eerie setting in the early dawn light. As Shylock joins the desperate melee Jutte Beckman The Provider also joins the fray, hacking at Hemming with her cleaver while the Magic-User tries to smite the tentacled creature with the holy leg bone of St Burchard. Combatants on both sides are injured, but after taking a heavy whack from a club wielded by a conspirator, The Provider flees into her kitchen followed by Hemming, while Balock, Shylock and the remaining conspirators take on the creature.

UntitledBeckman, now terrified and fleeing for her life runs across the kitchen but before she can escape Hemming, now able to cast a spell sends a magic missile flying after her in the form of a swarm of screaming skulls that tear at the flesh from the feet up… The Providers screams mingle with those of the skulls. After a moment all that remains is the head of the poor woman (the one who tried her best to feed the starving refugees) which Hemming scoops up and stuffs into a sack.

Now armed with the leg bone, Shylock, Balock and the conspirators are able to bring down the creature, and upon it’s death it dissolves into a puddle of black corrosive sludge.  It’s not then long before the voices of more militia can be heard outside and the PC’s run out the back of the house, finding a quiet alley to recuperate and catch their breath.

The Defender is known to live nearby, one of The Seven the group have yet to encounter, and so they set off to her house. Shylock knows The Defender is the only person in the town who has a large house to herself, but it is likely to be guarded by Burgerfriendensmiliz. A quick scout of the area shows a large group of militia stand guard outside the front of the house and a small group of 4 are at the rear. Displaced refugees crowd the streets around the house and watch on with fear, amazement and wonder at the scene that unfolds.

Having arranged for one of the conspirators to draw the four guards at the rear of the house away, Hemming and Balock approach wearing the Burgerfriedensmiliz uniforms they have acquired. When the conspirator throws a rock at the guards, the Black Dogs convince them to chase down the scoundrel while they guard the door. The plan worked as expected, and with the guards temporarily indisposed, it would be an easy job for Balock to pick the lock! Except he couldn’t… after 5 attempts. In the end they smash a window and gain entry through a vestibule to the side of the main corridor.

The DefenderEntering the house they can hear a woman gently singing, her plaintive voice travelling from a large room; they assume the voice comes from Griselda Uhrlitz The Defender, although she is out of sight. A quick check of the ground floor reveals two doors into the room. But the Black Dogs will have to act fast as a large group of milia outside of the building can also be seen – fortunately the front doors are locked, bolted and barred.

A plan is formed. Shylock and a conspirator will wait by one door while Balock and Hemming head for the other, then on cue they will open both doors and throw flasks of oil into the room, then set them alight before closing both doors so The Defender and her creature burn alive. It didn’t go quite as planned, largely because they were unaware of the creatures special power; it drained the best AC, hp, spells, stats and damage from amongst the PC’s for itself and The Defender, leaving the owner of the stolen ability with the lowest, most feeble value. This is what happened.

  • Hemming opened a door, took in the scene and saw Griselda and her horrific creature; a brain suspended in a pod supported by multiple serrated tentacles. Throwing his oil flask he missed by some margin.The Defender's Creature
  • Shylock was more successful and his oil flask splattered across the floor. Then he shut his door but found his movement was slowed.
  • Hemming tried to cast a Magic Missile but found he couldn’t recall the spell, so he shut the door on the advancing monstrosity.
  • The creature moved to attack, ripping the door open. Hemming was surprised as he felt very weak compared to the overpowering strength of the creature.
  • The Burgerfriedensmiliz at the front of the house started trying to bash open the door to save The Defender.
  • Both Hemming and Balock were attacked and badly damaged.
  • Meanwhile Shylock had entered the room and tried to backstab the creature but missed. The conspirator accompanying them fumbled twice, injuring himself and allowing The Defender to escape.
  • As Shylock chased after The Defender, Hemming and Balock, both badly wounded, jumped through a window into the street and joined the remaining conspirators.
  • The conspirators moved in to attack The Defender but were unable to hit her (she had the highest AC from amongst the party!), so Shylock took a further backstab opportunity, missing again.
  • As the Sorcerer fled around the front of the house to find safety amongst the larger group of militia the creature, approaching from behind wrapped it’s tentacles around Shylock and ripped him in two (a series of criticals left him in a bad way). Although he was carrying the leg bone of St Burchard Shylock managed to fling it clear before meeting his grisly end and it was collected by one of the conspirators.

At this point, badly wounded and one party member dead, Hemming and Balock decided it was best to retreat back to the conspirators house, their minds turning to escaping Karlstadt and tackling The Mother at Goblin Hill.


Grogfight Dredd Vikings Blades

This last week and a bit has given me quite a few great gaming moments; initially I had planned on writing individual articles on each, but as time has been against me I decided to bundle them up into one neat package.


I have been looking forward to Grogmeet for ages – it is the highlight of the gaming calendar (Expo comes a close second IMHO) offering an opportunity to run and play RPG’s with fantastic GM’s and players and catch up over a few pints with the great folk who are part of the community.

Dirk the Dice had asked me to organise something OSR/Old School for the Friday afternoon, so after much brain wracking and ideas backwards and forwards we ended up with Grogfight! A four table, four system, four GM, table hopping bar room brawl with added dungeon to fill the hours of the Friday afternoon. The GM’s were all great (buying into this ludicrous idea) and in the run up we had a few online meetings to tie things down. I had chosen to use the Advanced Fighting Fantasy system, while  was running Tunnels & Trolls, was running Classic Fantasy and himself running The Fantasy Trip. As Grogmeet weekend coincided with Chaosium’s call to play a game and honour Greg Stafford, we decided to put the Stafford Rune in as a puzzle at the end of the dungeon… I believe it was a bit of brain teaser, although my group didn’t quite reach it.

Stafford Puzzle

I thoroughly enjoyed GMing for great players and everyone seemed to enjoy it – as an experimental multi-table thing it worked well and was a good ice breaker. The table hopping element of the game was a bit of a pain as I had to interrupt all the games to swap players around – after a couple of hours I gave up on that and everyone just got stuck into their own tables.

I’ve used Advanced Fighting Fantasy before and it was nice to take it out for another spin. I couldn’t see it being my daily driver but it’s great for one shots – it’s light and fast with some nice options to personalise characters and the Fighting Fantasy angle means it’s generally familiar to most players of a certain age.

The Grogfight GM’s… smiles of relief?

Once Grogfight was finished and following a quick hotel check-in and chippy tea it was time for the evening session. I was lucky enough to get onto the Judge Dredd Savage Worlds table GM’d by @DailyDwarf  and a grand job he did as well. The whole session oozed original Dredd with comic book frames pinned to the wall as the game progressed, a really nice touch. I was one of the MegaCity Judges hosting two Brit-Cit Judges, and from the start we played out the tension between the two factions while trying to complete the missions in front of us. It was great fun! Savage Worlds was a great fit, a simple system that captures the energy of Dredd comics.

We rounded off the Friday evening with a good few beers in a nearby pub; it was great to catch up with gaming friends, particularly because my old gaming mates from a long forgotten time (the 80’s),  and , were there.

Unfortunately my Grogmeet weekend was cut short so I didn’t get to run Carnival of the Damned, but I know everyone thoroughly enjoyed the Saturday events. There are write ups here:


spends most of his time in the sunnier climes on the west coast USA, so while he was back in Blighty we took the opportunity for more face to face gaming. A game was planned at short notice and I offered to run Vikingr, an OpenD6 game also by Arion Games. I’d picked it up in their Kickstarter earlier in the year and it had really caught my imagination; at the time I had cobbled together a few notes for an adventure not knowing when I would run it. This presented an ideal opportunity.


The players all grabbed one of the pregens provided with the game (actually they are templates based on archetypes – the Berserker, Gothi, Warchief etc that are easily converted into pregens), and in no time were off on an adventure in the wilds of Norway. I thoroughly enjoyed running the game and the system held up really well – even though I was quite rusty with it. I’d love to run it again.

Blades in the Dark

Dirk the Dice was running Blades in the Dark at 24 hour RPG, a charity event that runs this time each year in Southport. Games on offer also included WFRP 4th Ed, WOIN, Numenera and D&D, but I’d selected Blades in the Dark as I knew I’d get a great game with Dirk, had wanted to try the game and the 12 hour slot was more within my current endurance limits…


Even with two players we had a cracking game, in fact I’d suggest there were certain benefits to having just two ambitious sneak thiefs… our plans were quickly formulated and generally uncomplex. Blades in the Dark is a great system, very intuitive with some clever narrative tricks that are perfect for the genre. Dirk kept us on our toes with lots of turns and twists, with NPC’s based on number sequences given by Grognards who had donated to MIND, the charity supported by the event.

The flashbacks mechanism is pure genius; during a scene, particularly when things aren’t going your way you can jump to a flashback. Maybe you planted a dagger under the table earlier in the day, or as we had done blackmailed the bodyguard of another gang leader to plant an item in the gang leaders room. There’s a different rhythm and style of play to most other RPG’s, but once you get into that the game just flows.

Dirk has written a cracking session report on his blog here.

Donations to MIND, the charity supported event, can still be made here:

That’s lots of great gaming behind me, so it’s on with the regular Roll20 games now until the con season kicks off again next year with Convergence in early March. Can’t wait!

Better Than Any Man: The Death of Joy

Warning: BTAM spoilers ahead! Don’t even scroll down if you intend to play this module

Returning to the conspirator’s house following their assault on the church of St Andreas and the assassination of The Defiler, the Black Dogs decide to rest and recover for the night allowing spell-casters to refresh their spells. The noise of the panicked refugees and citizens of Karlstadt persists throughout the night, while the Milizionäre comb the town door to door searching for the assassins.

The PC’s are awakened by muffled screams coming from one of the ground floor rooms in the house; on investigation Hugo Beck (the head of the conspirators) tells them that a group of militiamen came into the house searching for assassins and all but one were killed by the desperate rebels. The surviving militiaman, a young fellow with a beaten face and broken bones, had been tortured for information on The Seven; what are their plans following The Defiler’s death, where are they all now?

329271Schemes are formed as Hemming Kristofferson shows his true chaotic nature and gleefully tortures the poor lad for intelligence to help formulate a strategy [there’s something about Lamentations of the Flame Princess that brings out the dark side of players]. The Black Dogs ask the conspirators to start fires around Karlstadt to distract The Seven, while they target The Joy and The Provider*.

The conspirators split up to make movement around the town easier and avoid Burgerfriendensmiliz patrols while Balock, Hemming and Miklos lead a group of conspirators to the Dammen house where they dumped their gear on first entering Karlstadt. Being properly equipped against The Seven is very important after all. Along the way they encounter a patrol and a gang of conspirators peel off to deal with them while the PC’s proceed to the house. Gawinus and Magdalyn Dammen have the house locked up tight and clearly do not expect, nor want visitors – protecting their only son Ruben is their top priority.

FightHemming formulates another plan (one of many) to trick Gawinus Dammen into opening the back door of the property. Approaching the front of the house he bangs on the door, telling Gawinus that some rogues have been trying to break in to the property around the back. Gawinus buys it and opens the back door to the alley. Balock and Miklos hide out of sight while Hemming tries to convince the unfortunate citizen that said rogues forced their way into his basement. As Gawinus takes a look Hemming tries to knock him out, but by now suspecting treachery he attacks the Magic User. A scrap ensues in which the loving husband and father is killed (oops) and as a result his distraught family have to be coerced into keeping quiet (poor Magdalyn quietly sobbing and Ruben asking for Papa) while the party recover their gear.

Now properly equipped the Black Dogs lead a mob of conspirators to Zum Erleuchteten Hurenbock, the known location of The Joy. As the mob approaches the whorehouse the workers loitering outside panic, run inside and shut the door, but The Joy (the only one of The Seven to have given away her creature) steps outside to challenge them. She is given little opportunity before she is struck down and her head hewn off, to be tied by the hair to Miklos’ belt. The conspirators are even more fired up – taking down The Seven is going to be easy!

The Provider's CreatureMoving on to The Providers house they find the front door open and a seemingly empty reception room within.  Appetising smells drift from the back of the house. The party carefully enter with a handful of conspirators and (no surprise!) are surprised by The Providers creature, a tentacled, octopoid nightmare that rips the arm off one conspirator and the face off another. In the grim combat that follows Balock, Hemming and Miklos are all injured, the creature is hard to hit and damage and some power of the creature prevents Hemming from casting spells. With the end of the party in sight, just in time they remember the Leg Bone of St Burchard, a holy item believed to have the power to smite demons, and once used it changes the balance of the encounter somewhat. Just as it looks like they are making headway against the monstrosity The Provider herself steps out from the kitchen and joins the fray…

* For context, The Provider is a convivial, caring, warm woman, rather overfond of food, who feeds the starving refugee populace of Karlstadt every day. And our ‘heroes’ want to kill her…

Better Than Any Man: Always split the party

Warning: BTAM spoilers ahead!

Last session we ended mid combat with Miklos and Balock scrapping two of the Milizionäre in the church of St Andreas while attempting to retrieve the Leg Bone of St Burchard (a supposedly powerful relic) from the crypt. Maldron and Captain Hermann (a long term NPC companion) found themselves swallowed by The Defiler’s Creature and existing in some weird dimensional inner stomach, Hemming arriving on the scene to witness this disturbing chow down before the bipedal nightmare turned it’s attention on him.

“Never split the party” is a common maxim frequently heard amongst roleplayers, particularly adherents of OSR. Perhaps less frequently heard, is “Don’t take a knife to a gunfight”, still very sound advice. Our adventurers in this instance, partially through circumstance and otherwise through choice, decided to split the party while they were very lightly armed (due to the weapon ban), arguably giving short shrift to both these pieces of advice.

fcd0844962f47bb318c07d0e935ff1e8With most of the Milizionäre falling for The Black Dogs ploy of stirring up the populace with rumours of imminent Swedish army arrival, Balock and Miklos, dressed themselves as Burgerfriedensmiliz and fought and killed the two remaining guards. The two doors into the church were quickly barred and rogue and priest started to investigate. Balock discovered stairs leading down… to a crypt!

Meanwhile Hemming appears on the scene having pushed through the panicked crowd of refugees and citizens, arriving just a little late to save Maldron and Captain Hermann. His years spent pouring over dusty arcane tomes in the libraries of Stockholm pay dividends as he understands the nature of The Defiler’s Creature and there may be a chance for Maldron and Captain Hermann to survive. All he has to do is not kill the creature and stay alive himself while it chases him.

Big spoiler: when The Defiler’s Creature successfully hits, it causes 1hp damage and the target is ‘swallowed’, appearing in an area with another copy of the creature. If this creature is killed the victim returns to the previous ‘level’, but if hit again they suffer 2hp of damage and go down another level to face another fresh version of the creature… and so on. Because I thought it would be too much faff for each character to end up in their own version of the stomach, I had all present swallowed on a successful attack by the beast.

In the 1st level of stomach dimension inside the creature Maldron and Hermann fight for their lives, regretting having brought weapons no bigger than a pistol (used as a club) and a shortsword. They develop a tactic – one of them taunts the creature and takes on a defensive stance for +4AC while the other strikes from behind with +2 to hit; this works to a degree, but all it takes is one hit from the creature to send them down a level.  And that happens more than once…

crypt_by_sonofamorticianBack in the church Miklos and Balock head into the crypt, discovering a passage with the traditional sarcophagus’ in alcoves (nothing to worry about there), a small earthen tunnel leading away (perhaps to the graveyard) and behind bars the object of their mission – the leg bone of St Burchard! As they grab the bone and prepare to make their exit they can hear heavy stone shifting on heavy stone, what can it mean?

Hemming tries to lead The Defiler’s Creature towards the Milizionäre who are gathered around Emma Gäbges (The Defiler) having heard her scream. The Magic-user’s hope is that the creature will attack the guards, but before the opportunity arises there ensues a game of cat and mouse with Hemming deftly leaping over the cemetery railings and hiding behind gravestones. Realising his ploy isn’t going to work he takes the opportunity to attack The Defiler, sending forth screaming skulls which tear at her flesh, leaving only part of a skeleton and her head in tact, a look of sheer terror on her face as the undead she has feared for so long have come to get her. Taking advantage of the stunned guards Hemming runs away into the darkness while the creature is drawn towards The Defiler’s remains. Knowing some of the other Black Dogs are in the church he tries to gain entrance but is unable to (because Balock and Miklos barred the doors).


The battle to get back to reality continues with Maldron and Captain Hermann going up and down levels, their endurance wearing down as they take more and more damage.  At one point it seems like their tactics might just work, but the hand of fate is against them and as an attempt to taunt the creature fails, it attacks Hermann and devours him – this time Maldron is all alone when he goes down a level. Now with 3hp left and 5 versions of the creature still to fight Maldron resigns himself to his fate and charges at the monster, sword raised high…

Sensing an ominous presence in the crypt of St Andreas, the two tomb robbers decide to run leaving behind a chest that may have contained a load of gold (they didn’t even try to open it!). They run out of the church and into the night, finally catching up with Hemming and returning to the Conspirator’s safe house. No doubt they will wait for many hours to see if Maldron and Captain Hermann turn up, but in time realise that is never going to happen…

BurritoCon2 over and out

Manchester gave us great weather and a fantastic venue for the nano-RPG Con with the food inspired name, just as perfectly formed and tasty as it’s namesake: BurritoCon!


This is the second time we’ve run the event (I feebly scrawled about the first one) and after filling two tables with great gamers first time we wondered – could we fill three tables?  The three table plan was ambitious, perhaps too ambitious (OK definitely too ambitious) but we did have two tables of fantastic players and GM’s. We planned for more time which I thought really helped, two 4 hours sessions with an hour for lunch.


The day panned out like this:

Morning session 10am-2pm

The table of terror hosted The Cthulhu Hack, expertly GM’d by the author himself @boreders . I’ve played in one of Paul’s games before and he does a great job conveying a growing atmosphere of terror and futility, perfect horror stuff. By all accounts this was a great game, enjoyed by all the players.


Those smiles mask the real terror in their souls…

I’ve not played Traveller for decades and so was excited to grab a place at  table. This was a dark future with strong hints of Alien and Bladerunner, a grim future with a dark universe. Tim ran a great game putting together an intriguing mystery and with some dark twists and turns. I was impressed by the Traveller system, it was very tidy and played really well at the table.

Love those 15mm Traveller mini’s, beautifully painted

Afternoon session 3pm-7pm

I don’t have a photo of the group, so this will have to do. We met one of these things… 

By pure coincidence the afternoon session had a post apocalyptic theme, with  running Rifts, a weird science fantasy game from the 80’s and  running Umerican Survival Guide, more or less Gonzo Mad Max on a Dungeon Crawl Classics chassis.

I’ve heard Rifts described as clunky, but I thought it played really well – I know Kris had simplified things for us. It was a classic rescue mission with some nice set pieces and inter-dimensional beings. Great stuff!

The players in USG were full of enthusiasm telling me how they completed the adventure by nuking themselves (accidentally as it turned out). There aren’t many games that can provide such a memorable and epic TPK; I’d hope to play some USG in the future, will just be sure to avoid any big red buttons!

Only these guys and Trump could be so pleased with having hit that big red button…

Star of the Day

Inga was kind enough to grace us with her presence; she charmed both gamers, staff and passersby.


There will be more BurritoCon’s next year, you never know we may get to three tables!

Thanks to everyone who turned up and joined in and to the GM’s Bruce, Kris, Paul and Tim.  Finally a big thanks to the staff at Fanboy 3, they have created a great gaming space and are very welcoming. Look forward to my next visit there (Grogmeet in a couple of weeks!)