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.

Grogmeet

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.

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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:

Vikingr

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.

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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…

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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:  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/24hr-rpg-challenge-2018

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!

Advanced Fighting Fantasy: Hellwinter Keep

The howling wind whipped the snow into flurries but did little to mask the roars of bears beyond the camp, one of a fully grown specimen, the other on the far side a cub. Aethed Elindan and Mithrielye watched and waited as bear paws thumped on the ground, big bear paws… Aethed stacked the fire high hoping to scare the creature away; a plan which may have worked had the party not started arguing about the nature of bears. Mithrielye believed it to be a noble guardian of the forest that would cause them no harm, while Aethed strongly argued a hungry bear was likely to try and eat them. Their conviction clear in their beliefs was inspirational, but the bear just heard noise, the kind of noise food makes.

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Aethed was proven right as the full grown bear came charging into camp. The warrior and Pyram the Priest closed in on the beast while Mithrielye singed it with a fire bolt. Who’d have thought moving to close combat with an 8″ tall bear could be so bad for your health? It took a couple of swipes at Pyram, tearing into his flesh while Aethed tried to lure the creature nearer the fire, hoping it would fall in. Although this tactic failed a combination of force bolts and a coating of lamp oil saw the poor animal enveloped in flames, running a short distance from the camp before collapsing – dead.

A+ for a proper old school ingenuity and bear stakes for breakfast saw their spirits lifted, and after a decent rest and a smattering of healing for Pyram, they set off on the final leg of their journey to Hellwinter Keep.

Hellwinter TowerThe rain now turned to snow, the heroes struggled on towards Hellwinter, climbing ever higher along treacherously steep and narrow mountain paths. Despite taking great care Mithrielye lost her footing and tumbled from the path dropping 20 feet to a ledge below; her luck held as she landed on tough mountain grass, softening the fall. Many hours later the tower of Hellwinter Keep came into view, their journey close to an end.

Aethed nimbly scaled the courtyard wall and opened the gates. Within the desolate area with it’s drifts of snow and unswept paving stones are hints of neglect, not the warm welcome from Sir Gallaharn Kairn they were expecting. A graveyard to one side has many worn gravestones, and of those one with readable engravings stands out – Sir Deckar Kairn, an ancestor of Sir Gallaharn. No attention had been paid to this grave for some time; why has Sir Gallaharn completely neglected his ancestors resting place?

There is little else to explore in the courtyard, a well of no obvious consequence which our heroes chose to ignore and a stable door. Mithrielye ventured into the stable out of the snow, trying to pierce the depth of the shadows when the torn and bloody remains of a warhorse comes charging out. Shreds of flesh cling to bone and part of the poor creatures jaw is missing; there is no life in it’s eyes yet it charges at the adventurers. Blocking the door into the courtyard Aethed and Pyram take mighty swings at the undead nightmare, bringing it to halt in short order. The mystery of this place grows. Where is Sir Gallaharn and why the hell is there an undead horse?

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A broken door leads from the courtyard into the tower itself and the heroes proceed onwards through it with due caution. Beyond is a common room, cold and damp with a large fireplace, engraved with a heraldic device of a Black Dragon belonging to a long forgotten order of knights. A ruined oak table fills the room while cutlery and dishes are scattered about. Two doors lead from this room while a staircase leads up to the next level.

Before the party can decide on their next step we have to call it a night. I wasn’t expecting to run a second session of this adventure just yet, but was pleased to give Advanced Fighting Fantasy an extended trial run. I’m really warming to the system, it’s very simple and does everything you’d need, plus the magic system is interesting – wizards and sorcerers are powerful even as beginning characters.

 

Advanced Fighting Fantasy: Gallows End to Hellwinter

For the past 12 months or so Monday evenings have been split between Flashing Blades and more recently a monthly session of Pulp Cthulhu. This week the regular Monday group was scheduled to start a modern day Call of Cthulhu adventure, however with one of our players out of action that was postponed. We were looking for something else to play and I had been looking for an opportunity to try out Arion Games’ Advanced Fighting Fantasy (AFF) – a game under consideration for Grogfight!

wpbb2109b7_06AFF is the most recent incarnation of the RPG based on the Fighting Fantasy series of game books; I’d eat my hat if you haven’t at least heard of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain; most likely you played it in your youth. The system has no classes or levels and is very simple with three core stats – Skill, Stamina and Luck, and the additional Magic and Magic Points for wizardly types, then special skills which allow characters to do cool stuff, and a few different types of magic. The system uses 2d6 for all actions; roll under stat+skill for unopposed skill tests and add 2d6+stat+skill for combat and opposed skill tests. These two different skill tests caused some confusion and in future I’ll use the optional rule of 2d6+stat+skill vs target number for unopposed skills – then all rolls will use the same mechanism.

The adventure started in Gallows End, a small frontier village on the edge of the Bron forest. Our heroes are tasked by the Baron of Tytern with discovering the fate of Sir Gallaharn Kairn, a knight sent to the frontier fortress of Hellwinter. After a few questions to the local peasants they pick up a couple of rumours: undead are gathering to the north and there are druids in the forest. Winter furs are purchased for the journey ahead the group set off through the forest.

The Gates of Hellwinter Cover

Torrential rain, grey skies and a biting wind make their journey through the forest a thoroughly unpleasant one, made all the worse by a goblin ambush (is there a starter adventure for any fantasy game that doesn’t feature goblins or kobolds?) Daggers flying out from the shadows of the trees injure the wizard and priest and before too long the party are toe to toe scrapping with their scrawny assailants.

This gave me a great opportunity to get a feel for combat, and I liked how it played. Each combatant rolls 2d6+stat+weapon skill and whoever gets the highest damages their opponent – armour can further reduce the damage. We had some spells firing off as well; a starting wizard feels much more powerful than a level 1 D&D/OSR Magic-User and the spells were used to fry some of the goblins.

The fight over and wounds healed the party continued to the foothills of the mountains on which the Tower of Hellwinter was perched, cold, wet and miserable. It seems it’s not going to be a peaceful night as roars from two directions bring them to attention…

The session was fairly short – no more than an hour and half, but the PC’s made decent progress. We may get to complete the adventure at some point, but I’m looking forward to starting Call of Cthulhu and the sessions served it’s purpose of giving me some insights into how the system plays at the table. While I’m still undecided on which system to use for Grogfight, AFF is starting to edge ahead of DCC…