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
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 @nfbenson if you’d like to join us.
There is a small charge payable to Fanboy3 for the table – £3 per game.
Andromeda and Blegrim find themselves in the court of King Lorkay Longtoes, ruler of the Varks, a race of lesser dwarves who despite being marginally degenerate are still excellent miners with vast underground quarries. Gold seems to be a readily available commodity in the underground city of Varkon.
However, the Varks have a problem. Zinjo the troll has recently invaded their caverns, killing many of their kinfolk and has asked for two gold bars to be delivered each day, otherwise it will go on another rampage. Unlike regular dwarves the Varks are not a warlike people and ask Andromeda and Blegrim to kill the troll; if they succeed they will be given three gold bars and an escort to the above.
Our adventurers agree and after resting are taken to the cavern where the gold offering takes place. Hiding at the back of the cave they watch the troll and see that he appears subdued by a collar. Suspicions already raised after Andromeda recalls that trolls do not value gold, they follow Zinjo and discover that he is controlled by a group of humans; in some way iron collar allows them to overcome the Zinjo’s free will. While deciding how to handle the situation Blegrim charges in, Leroy Jenkins style (again) and soon finds himself in too deep. The leader of the group, a conjurer, casts a Web spell to stop Blegrim moving then blasts him with a series of Magic Missiles. Despite decapitating one of the other humans, he is taken out of action*.
Wisely Andromeda hangs back during this encounter, but before Blegrim is dispatched permanently, approaches the group who she discovers are explorers from the Guardians of Antiquity, an organisation sworn to recover and protect ancient relics, but not averse to acquiring wealth through devious means to fund it’s expeditions. Andromeda tells their tale to the leader, Jens Abram (with small amendments to the truth). Blegrim awakes, it turns out he was only knocked out, and now the leader of the Guardians needs to decide what to do with them.
* The Black Hack rules state if a character is reduced to 0 hit points in combat they are ‘Out of Action’ and not yet dead. After the combat they roll on the Out of Action table with results ranging from ‘Just knocked out’ to ‘Not alive anymore’.
Following last weeks session Clarky had masterfully split the party and between sessions we discussed how it would work out. After the tree came crashing to the ground, and before anyone could react the ground opened up beneath Blegrim and Andromeda who were both on the same side of the tree. Faqual and Hector continued their adventure to get the Dragon’s treasure horde.
They plummeted deep down into the ground and after an indeterminate time plunged into an underground lake in a cavern faintly lit by some kind of fungus. It didn’t take long for them to clamber to the visible shoreline and determine that they were in a vast underground cavern with two passageways heading off in the same direction. Andromeda could faintly hear a very faint repetitive tinking sound far in the distance.
After a brief rest the adventurers picked a passage and moved on, before too long entering another cave, not as big with a fairly narrow chasm across the top end. The discovered a Cavern Crawler, an unpleasant insect like creature, which following a failed backstab attempt by Andromeda resulted in them legging it for the chasm. Andromeda deftly leapt across the gap, but Blegrim failed and was tumbling into the chasm when the thief grabbed his arm and helped him clamber to safety. The Cavern Crawler tried to climb the walls next to the chasm, but Blegrim acted quickly and knocked it into the unknown depths.
Moving on they followed the passageway for some distance before clambering onto a ledge high above the floor of another cavern. Both of them could see at least two dangerous looking lizard creatures with two tails each. While pondering on what to do next, two sets of eyes were spotted in a recess next to the ledge and the adventurers ended up bargaining with to two small goblin like creatures known as Gretches. The Gretches, Danzig and Potrig, offered to help them get past the lizards if they could get the ‘crawlies’ gold for them. Oh, how they love gold!
With a significant drain on their brainpower the adventurous duo realised they needed to go back to the cave of the Cavern Crawler and see if it had any gold in it’s nest. They headed back and found themselves in a desperate fight with two of the creatures, however, they were victorious and returned to the Gretches with the gold and some other nice items, giving Danzig and Potrig half the gold now and promising the other half when they were safely past the lizards.
Good to their word the Gretches showed the adventurers a route past the lizards. By now the tinking sound was much louder; Danzig said this was as far as he would take them and asked for the rest of the gold. However, Blegrim was in a nasty mood and killed the two poor creatures, taking all the gold for himself. Andromeda now started to worry a bit – honesty seems to be a trait Blegrim is lacking, and she is also starting to doubt his loyalty. Would he betray her for gold?
The session ended with the PC’s entering a huge cavern, an underground quarry being mined by small, dwarven creatures. As they approach the cavern floor a squadron of poorly trained lesser dwarven soldiers comes to challenge them… surely these intruders are up to no good.
It’s would be difficult to understate how stupidly excited I was in the last few days leading up to UK Games Expo. Hotels and games were booked well in advance, plans had been made and yet I had that small twinge of anxiety that something may go wrong. No worries though, it was fantastic.
My first point of call was Loughborough, having been invited by Dungeon Crawl Classics afficionado Bruce Cunnington to join in a DCC session with DCC extraordinaire Brendan LeSalle. Had a great evening with the DCC regulars at Weekend Warlords, thanks to all for making me feel so welcome and of course to Bruce for the invitation and Brendan for running a top game.
After parking and queuing at a rather busy Expo on the Friday morning I hit the trade hall with Rick Knott and Steve Ray, top blokes who I regularly game with on Roll20. I was blown away by the scale and variety on offer in the trade halls, and so tried to stay focused on games I had planned to buy. I grabbed some DCC stuff from FSide Games and a couple of Lamentations of the Flame Princess books to fill out my collection and was chuffed to get the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls hardback [this is a closing the circle thing for me as T&T was the first ever RPG I bought back in ’83, quickly traded in for Basic D&D because I couldn’t figure out how to play it. I know I’ll have better luck this time around].
Most of my Expo was spent in the Hilton where RPG’s were played – it’s one of the few posh places I’ve been to with appropriately extortionate prices for the essentials, £3 for a small bottle of water anyone? Still, it is a good setup with room for lots of games and this year was well organised. The games I played were:
I picked this session because I know Matt is a great GM and I’ve read good things about Symbaroum and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Matt did a great job of quickly explaining the rules and key aspects of the setting and we were soon off adventuring. The system was very impressive, simple and evocative, a huge contrast to the other big Scandinavian game Trudvang Chronicles which has (IMHO) overly crunchy rules. I was so impressed that I nearly bought the game the next day (and may still do).
This was a wildcard for me – at the time there was nothing else that appealed on the UKGE schedule for this slot, and FS2 sounds like an interesting game although not usually what I would go for. The session had lots of laughs, was chaotic (in a good way) with an interesting story, but if I’m honest I didn’t like the rules. While they are simple (which appeals to me) my character felt fairly ineffective, bumbling and fumbling along. Glad to have tried it (as someone wiser than me recently said, Cons are a great place to try something different), but I don’t think I’d rush to play it again.
I was lucky to grab a place in this session after I was unable to get onto my first choice of DCC with Bruce Cunnington. I’ve struggled with story/narrative games in the past: Dungeon World is beyond my comprehension and despite really wanting to I just couldn’t understand Monsters & Magic. This was an opportunity to try one out and the Glorantha element chimed with my slowly coming to terms with RuneQuest. This was a great session with lots of colour and detail set in the richly realised southern continent Fonrit, an intriguing murder mystery scenario and a great set of characters.
I’ve run The Greater Share of Honour, my homebrew LotFP adventure a few times now so felt relaxed about running it. Hoping to get a great group of players I was not disappointed and was joined by Steven, Odyssey, Ewan (beer spiller!), Mark, Thelma and Eugene. It’s great to see players really engaging with the adventure and giving it their full attention – I really enjoyed running it.
Another enjoyable element of Expo is catching up with quite a few of the gamers (mostly old Grognards) I have got to know through Twitter and from other cons over the last year or so, as well as be introduced to a few new faces – fantastic stuff. Looking forward to the next one already!
It’s hard to contain my excitement about UK Games Expo, my giddiness levels are nearly as high as in the lead up to Grogmeet. Even more so since my UKGE weekend has been extended to include a Dungeon Crawl Classics game in Loughborough (thanks to Bruce Cunnington) on the Thursday evening; as well as a cracking game session this means I can get to the NEC earlier than if I was travelling down from Liverpool.
There’s little that hasn’t already been said about UKGE that I can add to, other than one piece of advice. Last year I wasn’t too surprised to read post-con that the trade hall was rammed on the Saturday and people were struggling to get near the popular stands. This contrasted to my Friday morning stroll around the trade hall where I was able to browse the goods on offer with ease and talk to game authors and publishers. So my advice is, if your plans allow it, get to the trade hall early on the Friday – I plan to get there when it opens at 09.30.
In addition to the required UKGE lanyard I’ll be wearing one with my Old Scouser Roleplaying symbol on it; if you don’t already know me and you spot it say hello.
Besides picking up some bits in the trade hall I’ve got a few gaming sessions which I’m really looking forward to:
After last sessions debacle excitement the adventurers believed they had the poor leprous old lady Olga on the run. Now joined by a hungover Blegrim after his excessive ale binge and after a quick rest and perhaps overlong assessment of the situation they head through the door Olga escaped through, stepping into the Library. A window is open, curtains fluttering in the wind. Had Olga fled the building, or was there more to be discovered?
Aware of the strong smell of smoke (Romula had set the kitchen on first last session), while Seneca checks the windows for traps, Romula pulls all of the books off the shelves, revealing an odd panel where the library wall meets the staircase. Charged with smashing the door down, Blegrim spectacularly fails, embedding his axe in a wooden support. Hector charges through the door and manages to keep his balance only to be charmed (again!) by Olga who waits in the basement below.
A giant talking frog sitting in a tub of sludge and a scrawny man held prisoner behind bars add to the strangeness of the scene, then as is all too typical, chaos ensues with Andromeda catching her sling on a nail and ripping it, Romula tossing the cheese wheel down the stairs, Seneca trying to hit Olga with an arrow from her bow and Hector trying to resist orders to kill the rest of the party. Olga summons great skeletal demons armed with great blades, but fortunately Romula is able to turn them, and at the same time Hector breaks the charm and the whole party pile in.
Sensing the end is near Olga retreats but ultimately falls under a barrage of chocolate based Magic Missiles cast by Faqual and strong attacks from Blegrim. The post-decapitation calmness which descends on the scene is broken by the croaking voice of the frog which offers to answer three questions about the local area and so the party learn that Mina does not intend to betray them and that a local rancher, Baron Pavel, requires adventurers to deal with a troublesome matter (there was a third question, but memory fails me on this occasion).
Fleeing the burning house and returning to Mina the party are duly rewarded and have little time to rest (and some level up) before heading out of town to see Baron Pavel.
Chatting to the other players, Dave and Sam are both interested in running games, this is perfect and exactly what we wanted Lunchtime Lairs to be. With a bit of luck we’ll get a few more players and could soon have two tables every Wednesday. There’s bags of potential here and lots of scope to expand beyond The Black Hack. I look forward to seeing how it all develops.