Tuesday, 28 March 2017

SCRAWL: Starting Equipment

In my last SCRAWL related post, I went the whole hog in terms of recreating the basic classes found in the rulebook, in such a way that the new classes that I am working on can be introduced; without undermining the work and effort that has been put into this great little system.

Whilst I am quite happy with these new classes generally speaking, one area I feel that I need to review on reflection is the starting equipment that I allocated to each of these classes.

I really like the idea of each class having a different load out, based on their background.. But I think I can do better than my initial effort. Much better.

For a start, some classes had no gold; which is a bit of problem. Even if it's only a handful of coins, characters do need some gold to start off with. Especially given that I also neglected to give any of the classes any provisions or torches! At this rate, a character could starve to death before the adventure's even begun. A definite oversight that I need to look into.

The special items I created also seem a little overpowered, but classes having their own unique tools is still really appealing. So whilst I may scale them back, I may also create something comparable for each of the other new classes to balance things out. Maybe a holy symbol for the cleric, something to ease spell casting for the mage.. Stuff that defines the archetype whilst staying true to the classical roleplaying roots of the system.

Other than those few points however, I think these new classes are good to go!

Burning The Candle At Both Ends

I really don't know what's gotten into me lately.

Over the past few years I have become more and more driven to succeed in whatever I set my mind to. More focused on my goals. A mindset which seems to have gone into overdrive the past couple of weeks, where I've been pushing myself hard. Really hard!.. And I'm beginning to feel like I'm burning the candle at both ends.

The odd thing is, this sensation isn't slowing me down any. Finding my limits is only making me want to push against them. To test my own will, and my own resolve; and to see what I'm made of. I'm even finding myself enjoying the whole process.. Even enjoying exercise.

It's truly, well, odd.

Not that I'm complaining. I'm getting a lot of stuff done, making better use of time, and not constantly putting stuff off because sitting on the sofa makes for an easier alternative! So, no complaints.. Just a little surprised, maybe even slightly impressed with myself. So I thought I'd share.

It's also nice to have something positive to post under the Life Stuff tag!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

SCRAWL: Revised Classes

Following on from my recent post, I have been hard at work today on the variant classes required to create a balanced game; ready in anticipation for the new classes that I am also currently working on.

Whilst I initially started by simply weighing up and reallocating the abilities in order to create the variant classes, I soon found myself tempted to alter their starting equipment too. Even going so far as to create a few new pieces of gear, that I feel really help some of these revised classes fulfill their intended remits.

So here they are, the Cleric, Mage, Ranger, Rogue, Troubador, and Warrior.


The cleric has spent most of their formative years in intense religious and academic study; learning the lore and traditions surrounding their faith. This doesn't mean the cleric is a book worm by any stretch of imagination however, being an able combatant with a mace; their holy orders weapon of choice, and symbolic of good smiting evil.


Demon Lore
Priest Magic
Resist Magic
Undead Lore

1-2 Healing Salve / Holy Water


A scholar of the arcane arts, few can match the might of a capable wizard. Magic literally courses through their veins. With more tricks up their sleeve than the average warrior can swing a sword at, only a fool would count a wizard out before their time.. And they are well known to be long lived!


Demon Lore
Magic Lore
Plant Lore
Resist Magic
Wizard Magic


1-2 Potion of Clarity / Potion of Curing


Rangers make their homes in the woods and on the plains, amongst the hills and on the glade. Rangers are the quintessential outdoors men, often only returning to civilisation when they find themselves in the need of things that they cannot forage or forge for themselves from their surroundings. Which is rare!


Animal Lore
Plant Lore


10 Gold Pieces
Bow / Axe
Dagger / Sling
Desert Clothes

Travel Pack - This is a specialist item perfected by generations of rangers who have dedicated their lives to self-sufficiency. By making optimal use space, and distributing weight evenly this item allows the ranger to carry much more equipment. Ideal for those carrying all their worldly possessions where ever they go!

The pack does not add to encumbrance, but allows the wearer to transport six additional points of encumbrance. Cost 15 Gold Pieces (but very few rangers are willing to part with one).


Many are slow to trust rogues.. And is it any wonder with the dazzling array of ways they can find of relieving you of your hard won gold? Not all rogues are bad though. Some are just ambitious, looking for the next big score. The next seemingly impossible heist that will test their skill and cunning. Rogues are daredevils by nature.. So it's a good job they're lucky!


Lock Picking


5 Gold Pieces
Thieves Tools - A length of leather containing all the tools of the trade that a rogue needs to go about their business, which rolls up to the size of a small scroll - for easy concealment.

The tools are designed to be lightweight, so do not add to encumbrance; and allow a free re-roll in  Disarming or Lock Picking ability test. Cost 50 Gold Pieces, and can only be purchased under the counter from less reputable retailers.


Troubadors are the great performers, imortalising the heroic deeds of themselves and others in song and verse.. For a small fee. However, when times are tight troubador will often take to the road, performing for anyone who can spare a few coins.


Magic Lore


5 Gold Pieces
Musical Instrument - What would a troubador be without a musical instrument to aid them in their performance?.. Broke most likely. The musical instrument, and the troubadors ability to play it is key to being able to draw a crowd, and keeping that crowd. Otherwise they'd just be like every other patron of the tavern, singing loudly after a few ales.

A musical instrument allows the troubador a free re-roll on any Inspiration or Performing ability test, costs two points of encumbrance to carry, and costs 50 Gold Pieces to replace.


Mighty and fearless, warriors have carved out a trade in putting boot to ass, for gold and for glory. Warriors take many forms across the land, from the militia member defending their homeland, to the royal guards defending royalty in the best armor money can buy. So when choosing to take up the mantle of the warrior, there really is no end to the possibilities of where that career may take you.


Melee combat
Ranged combat


25 Gold Pieces
Any two weapons
Light Armor / Light Shield

And there we have it. These are only the first drafts, but I don't think they're too bad. Even if I do say so myself. If anyone has any feedback, or ideas for improving on these though, please feel free to drop a comment below. I'm all ears.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Meeple Arcade #2: Infectonator! World Dominator

Infectonator! World DominatorWhen it came to selecting the first game to blog about in the Meeple Arcade series, it wasn't an easy choice.
There are a lot of great games out there that I think you'll enjoy; each with their own merits.

So when choosing the first title to include, I went with my gut. I went with a game that I have played over and over again. Not because I'm trying to unlock some alternate ending, or some crazy achievement; but because it's just that enjoyable. My first choice is, Infectonator! World Dominator.

At its core, Infectonator! World Dominator is a very basic upgrade game. Every day you unleash a virus upon any one of the available cities that you have not yet destroyed; creating a horde of zombies. These zombies create other zombies, and you hoover up the cash left in the aftermath. You then use that money to enhance your virus, creating stronger, tougher, faster zombies. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

Despite the simplicity however, the game is extremely addictive; and really well pulled off. The art style is appealing, and a lot of thought has gone into the presentation of this game in general. Even to the point where the in game text showing you what your victims are crying out as they flee in terror from your creations is region specific.

It's small touches like that which really make this game more than a sum of its parts. Different victim types create different zombie types, there are shout outs to survival horror classics, and many of the specialist zombie types are thematically linked to the place where you acquire them.. There also can't be too many zombie games featuring both Ronald McDonald and Colonel Sanders!


I would highly recommend that you play the game using this link, else some of the site locked content (Greenland) will not be available. You also get a start up bonus for playing the game via this site too as an added incentive.

If that's a little slow to load however, the game can also be played here, here, and here.

SCRAWL: New & Alternate Character Classes

I like SCRAWL. I like SCRAWL a lot.

This won't come as much of a surprise to anyone whose been following my recent, One Man And His Dice postings; where I have been playing through a short wilderness adventure; crafted on the fly; as a prelude to the first official SCRAWL dungeon - Dungeon of the Orc Boss.

So far it's been a blast, and I really have to give a shout out to Stuart Lloyd, who not only made this enjoyment possible by creating SCRAWL; but who is also a stand up guy.

As well as playing SCRAWL, I've also been chatting with Stuart about my ideas for other things that I'd like to introduce to the system. One of which has been new classes, and he has been very supportive.

Whilst homebrewing for roleplaying games is nothing new to me, I always take the approach that I want to do it right. This means learning the system, and learning what makes it tick. As the way I see it, anyone with an imagination can create something for an RPG. A new class, a new race, a new spell.. But to do it right, you have to consider a few things.

Balance against existing material  is one such thing.

For example, I could create a new spell that instantly kills a monster. But should I?

On the one hand there is nothing like it in the game, so there is a gap in the market so to speak; and it would probably appeal to players. Which is also a plus. However, in terms of balance, it'd be a nightmare! To the point where it might actually damage, even destroy the game. Nobody wants that!

Adding new classes is no difference.I had to ask myself Would adding this class, make another class unplayable? Do other classes render this class moot? Am I going to break the game?

After a lot of thinking I concluded that the best course of action was probably to redesign the existing classes; under new names; so as to absolutely ensure balance with the new classes.. But wouldn't that render the existing classes moot? Haven't I just broken my own rule?

Not at all!

SCRAWL is all about the players choice, and the player can choose to either version of the character class. For example, if you decide that you want to play as one of my new classes, but then in a later adventure you'd like to play say, a Bard. You can.

Whilst I'll be creating a character class based upon the Bard (the Troubadour), the Bard will still exist. The supplement isn't about replacing anything; it's about offering the player more choices they may want.

So, without further ado, here's what I plan to create...

Revised Classes

Cleric - A revised version of the Priest.
Mage - A revision of the Wizard class.
Ranger - The alternative to the Traveller.
Rogue - Based upon the Trickster.
Troubadour - An all singing, all dancing alternative to the Bard.
Warrior - The alternative option for those looking to play a Fighter.

New Classes

Alchemist - A variant on the Wizard, who will be able to concoct a wide variety of potions and prepare other chemical compounds such as poisons and acids.
Barbarian - The archetypal warrior of the wilds, capable of flying into a berserk rage.
Druid - A priest of nature.
Mage-Hunter - A member of a secretive religious order that believes that all problems in the world stem from the misuse of magic. Like Priests, Mage-Hunters have access to a small array of spells which they believe to be tools given to them by their patrons to save humanity from itself.
Martial Artist - Masters of unarmed combat, with incredible discipline.
Necromancer - Priests capable of raising and communing with the dead.
Paladin - Stalwart warriors for their cause, capable of some minor magical feats.
War Dancer - Warriors and performers that blur the line between martial technique and artistic talent.

These are very much all still in the planning stage, and with time the list may grow or shrink as ideas either come to me or, become unworkable.

That's where we're at for now though. Stay tuned for further developments, and more exciting adventures in SCRAWL!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

10 x 10 Challenge #13: 100 Swords - Game #7

Following on from my previous 10 x 10 Challenge posting, it was now the turn of The Glowing Plasmapede's Dungeon Builder Set (DBS) to be combined with The Blue Mammoth's Dungeon. I wasn't too sure what to expect based upon this expansions previous outing, as it didn't really seem to do much of anything in the way of changing gameplay.

This could be for a number of reasons though. It could have been so close to the style of The Red Dragon's Dungeon that it was indistinguishable when combined with that dungeon deck. It could be that whatever it does, just didn't happen; either because of the way the cards fell or because the cards that would have otherwise shone through got buried under the boss. The A.I could have taken the cards that otherwise would have changed the flow of the game.. These and many more possible scenarios besides could account for why the addition of this DBS just didn't seem to add anything to that game.

So when I shuffled this DBS into a deck I had only played once, so little was known about what might happen next that it was as if I had never played a game of 100 Swords before. It's not often you get that out of a game you've been playing on and off for months! In fact, I don't think it has happened since playing Dominion years ago; when we first introduced the Seaside expansion. That's how rare of an event it is!

Without further ado though, let's take a look at how the game went..

Turn 1: The first card revealed was a Ding Beetle, which in turn revealed another card; the Pink Eye. This was both a good and a bad thing, as whilst it gave me a view of the dungeon as a whole; it was a little early to be revealing such a powerful monster, which I had no way of defeating at this point - whatever I drew from my deck.

Turn 2: Not being able to slay the Pink Eye, I rented the Monster Scents Bag so that I could at least pass it and pick up some of the other items in the dungeon to give myself a fighting chance of killing something. I didn't make a lot of progress with this plan, but I did acquire a Torch Sword with which to improve my deck.

Turn 3: I had to rely on the Monster Scents Bag again this turn, and again didn't achieve much as a result; thankfully I was able to steer the Pink Eye into the A.I's path, and the A.I was only more than happy to take it. Normally letting the A.I take a 6 Gold value monster would be a bad thing, but when it's hampering you turn after turn, you just have to let it go and hope that you can claw back the points with the freedom getting rid of it grants you.

Turn 4: Not a lot to report for this turn, other than the A.I taking the Dungeon Yeti as it's trophy for 5 Gold. It's only early days, but two successive turns like this is going to be hard to come back from; and I know it!

Turn 5: This was a really good turn for me. I got hold of a Tempo Sword, which I used to retire my Awkward Sword; optimising my deck, if only slightly. I'd also picked up a couple of other decent swords in previous turns (a Combo Sword, and a Key Sword), whilst the A.I was busy killing stuff.

Now all I needed to do was get the Tempo Sword out a couple of more times, and my deck would start chewing up the dungeon. I could start to close the gap. The A.I taking the Ogre Brute for 5 Gold at the end of the turn however meant the gap I wanted to close was only getting more and more vast with every passing turn.

Turn 6: This turn was pretty standard, with the whole dungeon being revealed. Other than picking up another Tempo Sword, there isn't much more to say about it.

Turn 7: My engine started to churn out trophies this turn, taking out both the Tall Grass and the Siren; helping me close the gap. The A.I did take another good sized trophy also however, in the Space Guardian (worth 4 Gold).

Turn 8: I started this turn by playing a Tempo Sword (which I'm fast becoming a fan of), to retire a Crappy Sword from my deck. I then revealed a Rat Man which in turn revealed a Single-Use Sword. I hadn't seen this card before, and had previously thought that one-shot items where a new thing introduced by The Darkness Dungeon Builder Set.. Guess I was wrong! Although the concept of "bane items" does still seem to have been introduced by that DBS.

Not that I was going to get my hands on this sword just yet either way, as a Boring Door blocked my progress and ended my turn. Before consolidating the dungeon however, the A.I took its prize. A Shiny sword, for another 4 Gold.

Turn 9: Not drawing my Key Sword I rented the General Purpose Key, and dealt with the Boring Door; moving beyond it into the next chamber and claiming the Single-Use Sword. This left only one card unrevealed in the dungeon, which was found to be another Rat Man by the A.I; which it also claimed as its trophy for this turn.

Turn 10: I got to start my turn off using another brand new item, the Launch Boots; which took me straight to the third chamber where I revealed a Laser Obelisk. Something that I had no hopes of beating with my current hand. So I pressed on into the next chamber, revealing a Shadow Door; which hid the Laser Obelisk. Luckily I had drawn my Key Sword this turn, so short work was made of the door and, I even had enough cards left in hand to move into the final chamber; where I encountered a Sticky Man. I slew this without difficulty, and retired a Crappy Sword into the bargain; but in hindsight it was a mistake to do this, as it left the Laser Obelisk as the card to the far right of the Dungeon - which the A.I claimed as its prize. Essentially I handed it 6 Gold. Bugger!

Turn 11: This was another turn I started off by playing a Tempo Sword to thin out my deck a little; in this case retiring a Crappy Sword. Next up I acquired a Sniffer Hound which I used to move to the center of the dungeon, where I encountered a Bat Man. This was easily taken out, before I used the last of my cards to move into the next chamber where I found a Puzzle Sword. It was bat men all around when the A.I took its action and revealed another Bat Man at one extreme of the dungeon, which it took as its prize for this turn.

Turn 12: After shuffling my deck, I found myself drawing my newly acquired Sniffer Hound, which I used to move to the center of the dungeon again, where I revealed a Locked Sword. Another lock and no key, but at least one I could pass. Moving into the next chamber I took the Puzzle Sword which had been revealed the previous turn, and ended this one. The A.I took a Corrosive Slime this turn, which was fine by me; not being either useful to me or valuable to them.

Turn 13: I started this turn by renting out the General Purpose Key, with a goal of snatching the Locked Sword. I did have a Key Sword somewhere in the little that was left of my deck to go through, and means to draw a card; but as there was no guarantee it'd be the card I needed, and seeing how thin the Dungeon Deck was getting I didn't want to take the risk. Key in hand the next thing I did was to play a Tempo Sword to get rid of a Crappy Sword from my deck. Whilst I couldn't be sure of the card I'd draw from my play of the Combo Sword I had in hand, I could at least stack the odds of it being something good in my favor! Moving into the second chamber of the dungeon, I encountered a Horn Warrior; and played my Combo Sword for both strength and the draw.. Which drew the Key Sword. Bugger!

Still, whilst I no longer needed its ability, its strength added to that of the Combo Sword was enough to take out the Horn Warrior; so I at least got a trophy out of it. Next I continued on to the Locked Sword, and took that into my hand by using the General Purpose Key. Lastly I used my newly acquired sword to slay the Tall Grass in the next chamber, leaving very little of the dungeon for the A.I to pick at; who had to settle for a pair of Launch Boots. Another low value trophy.

Turn 14: On the last turn I kicked things off by playing my own pair of Launch Boots to leap straight into the third chamber, where I found another Tempo Sword. Not a lot of use this late in the game. More of a hindrance in fact, but I took it none the less; if only for the Gold. It's ability for me to draw a card also helped, pulling a Decent Sword to my hand. The only problem was at this point that I didn't have much more that I could do with it, and the only card still in my path was the last one in the dungeon; and unless it was a very low value card I didn't have the resources to both get to it, and take it.

So, for no reason other than I could, I used the Torch Sword I had to reveal it.. And found it was the boss.. At the end of the dungeon. With nothing more I could do, I had to accept that the A.I was going to take it, and that would be the end of the game. Had I done enough to catch up?

Win, lose, or draw?

In a word. No. The A.I beat me 54 Gold to 49.. But what a come back! Given how lucky the A.I got so early in the game I think I can say without any hint of being prideful or arrogant that I played a damn good game. One that again was swung by whoever could claim the boss.


This was another tight game, which I feel just goes to show how well balanced this game really is. So far I have been able to combine any dungeon deck, with any DBS and still play a well matched game. One thing I did notice however was that this was a longer than usual game. Maybe that's what this DBS' gimmick is? It would make sense, as The Magic Computer's Dungeon Builder Set seems to speed play up; and there is a certain affinity in the design of the DBS' that I own for mirroring. Light (The Chroma Dragon's Dungeon Builder Set) and Dark (The Darkness Dungeon Builder Set), so why not fast and slow?

10 x 10 Challenge #12: 100 Swords - Game #6

Carrying on with my 10 x 10 Challenge, it was the turn of The Blue Mammoth's Dungeon to be plundered of its loot. A dungeon deck that despite owning as long as The Red Dragon's Dungeon, I had not yet broken out other than to sleeve the cards. Since picking it up I have read a few posts over at Board Game Geek however, which suggested that when comparing the two decks side-by-side; The Blue Mammoth's Dungeon should be considered the advanced deck, which may have been why I steered clear of it initially. Using The Red Dragon's Dungeon to learn the game, before venturing into the more complex aspects of gameplay.

Feeling that I had a solid grasp of the basics now though, it was time to take off the training wheels.

How well did that go?

Well, as far as I can tell there were no errors made during gameplay and, if I'm honest the advanced deck isn't anything I couldn't have handled straight out of the box. There were a few situations where you needed to think a little harder about what you were doing, due to the timing of effects; but nothing major, and certainly nothing to intimidate the novice.

The Game

In brief, the game went a little like this..

Turn 1: Nothing of any real significance happened, but the whole dungeon was revealed due to my trademark play style; making planning for the next turn a lot easier.

Turn 2: Planning is one thing, but when you draw 5 Crappy Swords as your initial hand, you pretty much know that you're not going to be doing much that turn. The A.I however took the Laser Obelisk for 6 Gold; putting me on the back foot, and playing catch up.

Turn 3: I managed to take 2 Tempo Swords in this round, which as the game progressed I found to be incredibly useful for thinning out my deck. Something that I always found the Wither Sword was particularly poor at. The dungeon was also stripped bare in this round, with only one card remaining; which had also been revealed.

Turn 4: Not much to report in this round, other than the dungeon being completely revealed again.

Turn 5: I accidentally retired one of Tempo swords in this round (when a Tempo Sword is played, it retires a card in your deck; and the only card left in my deck was my other Tempo Sword). It wasn't all bad in this turn however, as I acquired a Combo Sword which I used to top-deck a Key Sword that I had previously looted. This was critical as I had just revealed a door, and without my turn would have been over. Instead I found myself with an extra trophy! Score!!

Turn 6: Another turn with nothing worth writing home about, which when compared to the previous turn really stood out as an anti-climax.

Turn 7: Another slow turn, with the only event of note being the revelation of the Pink Eye; which in turn revealed the rest of the dungeon.

Turn 8: I quite literally couldn't do anything this turn due to a poor draw. Having nothing that could deal with the Pink Eye that was now blocking the way, or any of the other threats on the dungeon.. Which I think is actually a first! Usually you can do something, even if you have to use rental items. Not this time though.

Turn 9: This turn I managed to slay the Pink Eye in the dungeon, but that was about all.

Turn 10: This turn I acquired the Bow Sword, which looked to be a very powerful sword. Alas, I did not get to use it as my last reveal unveiled the boss; which the A.I promptly took, ending the game.

Win, lose, or draw?

I took a loss on this one, trailing 30 Gold to the A.I's 36. A difference exactly the value of the boss, so this would appear to be another instance where the player that slays the boss, wins the game. Something that I believe happened in an earlier play through of The Red Dragon's Dungeon.


I cannot deny that I am impressed with The Blue Mammoth's Dungeon. Whilst it doesn't make any groundbreaking changes to the system, the little things that it does add are done well. Cards like the Tempo Sword for example, which have a one-shot effect when you take them, but then do something else completely different for the rest of the game.

This and other subtle little tweaks combine to create a gaming experience that mirrors the other dungeon deck well, creating a feeling of consistency; whilst not mimicking it so closely as for it to feel like more of the same with a different paint job.

In short, good stuff!

Inappropriate Fairy Tales For Young Girls

Every so often there's a news story that catches your eye, and you feel almost compelled to talk about it. Write about it too in my case. I caught sight of one such story yesterday morning; with regards to a new book of fairy tales that had been successfully crowd funded.

I'm a big fan of fairy tales. They're a fascinating insight into the mindset of our ancestors, even if a little dark in tone. This new book though, I find to be far more insidious than even the grimmest of the tales that precluded it.

The new book is called, "Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls", and features the stories of inspirational women from all around the world told in the style of modern fairy tales. Nothing insidious there you may think, but when you drill down beneath the surface; you soon strike oil. Both dark and clasping.

I was skeptical about the intent of this book immediately upon having it described in the opening of the interview with the authors on BBC News. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for women having an equal status in society. I'm just not convinced that's what the authors want, or what this book is really about. Indeed with what I took away from watching that interview, I feel quite confident in saying that they don't care at all about the plight of women who are disadvantaged, but rather the money that they can make off the back of their suffering; and your guilt about it.

Why such a conclusion?

Well, in the interview the authors were asked if they'd be writing a book for boys. Their response to that? "There are already plenty of books for boys", and "boys should read this book".

Now let's tackle the first statement, "there are already plenty of books of books for boys". Well, they're not wrong; but I would argue that there aren't many books specifically aimed at younger boys with a similar message (which as you can probably guess, I think is a good thing; given how blinkered I find their world view).

Then there's the second statement that came in response to the question, "boys should read this book". Why!? The authors argued that it was so that boys could learn about strong female leadership.. Which would be admirable if that's what this book was about. But it's not. The way I see it, it's a jaded cash cow built on fear!

Fear & Money

In my opinion, that's all this book is about. Feel free to disagree with me, but I think there is some compelling evidence to support this conclusion.

In terms of fear, I believe this book and its authors are playing on the fear of speaking out against something that seems like both a good and politically correct cause. I am after all a male speaking out against two women trying to further the sisterhood aren't I? Which must mean that I'm a bigot, and a chauvinist right?

That's certainly one point of view a person could take from my preceding comments, and if that's what you believe my speaking out amounts to; I'm not going to argue with you. You're entitled to your opinion, no matter how odious or hurtful I may find it. Which is kind of the point.

Believing in equality, I believe you're entitled to say and do as you please, whether I agree with it or not. Telling everyone that they should get on-board with your view is not promoting equality. It's promoting tyranny!

To put it another way, can you imagine if I wrote a similar book on the religious figures in a particular faith? Saints for example. I then go on national TV to plug my book (on a channel that's not supposed to allow advertisements by the way), and I'm asked "will you be writing books about the prominent religious figures in other world religions?"; and give the responses "there are already plenty of books about religious figures from other faiths", and "everyone should read our book about saints".

Can you imagine the uproar, and backlash!?

But because it's feminism, and people feel uncomfortable challenging comparatively extreme views when it comes to gender politics stuff like this is allowed to pass. It's just not right!

What makes it worse is that the target audience for this book is children. Isn't it beyond the pale to feed young girls this propaganda, just so you can make a few quid? Where is the line, because I'm pretty sure they've crossed it!

This brings us to money, which let's face it; based on the evidence at hand is the only reason this book was ever written.

Unfortunately something like this is always going to make money, but what are the authors doing with it? Maybe they're going to build a few wells in villages, so that women in the developing nations have access to a clean water supply; saving them both the risk of infection from contaminated supplies, and the back-breaking labor of carrying heavy containers full water for several hours everyday? Perhaps they're building schools so that women can learn in parts of the world where it is believed that women do not need an education? Potentially even shelters for victims of domestic violence? All good causes.

It appears not. Based upon the information on their kickstarter page, they'll be donating a few copies of their book to a charity; and they'll be flying to Africa for a week, where they'll be leading workshops on female leadership. That's all, from a successful kickstarter campaign that raised over half a million dollars!

Surely I'm not the only one that finds stuff like that hard to swallow!?

End on a positive

This post has been largely negative, but I would like to end on a positive; and to simply say that regardless of gender, in order to find a positive role model, you only need to look around you. Your family, people in your local community, the world is full of people doing good things for the right reasons. You don't need people to sign post great people for you, or to tell you what's a worthwhile accomplishment. You already know!

Just remember, we're all different; but we're all equal.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Where There's A Will, There's A Way

I'm good at solving problems. Give me a problem, no matter how big; and give me enough time, and I'll give you a solution. Effectively needing to be in two places at once though. That's a tricky one, even for me.

That was the problem I found myself facing with my last update however.

In summary of that post, my current temporary job is ass, but being a responsible adult I wasn't going to pull a sickie to attend a job interview; something which seems on a par with starting a long-term relationship with the married person you're having an affair with. However, having only accrued only half a days holiday in the short time I have been there, I wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. Something I wasn't happy about in the slightest.

As the title of the post says though, "where there's a will, there's a way"; and I am nothing if not an extremely strong-willed individual.

The Problem

So the problem is that I needed to find a way of attending an interview, when realistically I didn't have anywhere the time I needed to do so.

The Solution

Initially I had thought that a possible course of action was to only apply for jobs along my route to work. That way, I could plump for an early morning interview without any need for taking time off at all. A solid plan.

Where I work may be out of the way, but I pass through a couple of hubs along the way; either of which would be ideal, both for this plan to work, and to work in long term.

The city center is however where the majority of the jobs are, and it's about 3 hours in the wrong direction from my current workplace. So whilst I had managed to think my way out of a dead-end, I was still far from home and dry. I needed a plan B.

Then it hit me when I was in the bath this morning, getting ready for work. Telephone interviews! Sure, not every employer is going to go for it, but for those that do; I can quite literally be in two places at once! I guess it depends on how impressed they are with my CV, and what the job is; but I feel quietly confident that this could work.

So that's what I'm going to trial. If I can't make it physically, I'll ask if they'd be happy doing it over the phone; explaining my reasons. What's the worst that could happen? They say no. Big woop! If I didn't ask, the answer's already a no by default.

Don't ask. Don't get!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Permission To Say Cock?

Today has been a good news, bad news kind of day. Luckily it has weighed more towards the good, but I hit one hell of a road block this afternoon. It went a little something like this.

Good  news: One of the nine jobs I applied for this morning resulted in a callback before I even made it to work.
Bad  news: They didn't want to put me forward for the job I applied for, but rather a different lower paid job.

Good news: The lower paid job seemed like a sure thing. I had the experience, and I was being offered an interview.
Bad news: Checking with my current agency, I had only accrued half a days holiday.

Good news: I only work part-time; so in my mind half a day is a day.
Bad news: The agency couldn't give me a straight answer on how many hours half a day translated into, and my placement wasn't much more help. To boot, the boss is out of the office until the day after the latest possible interview date.

Basically, I was screwed. Screwed for playing it straight, when I could just as easily have phoned in sick that day; safe in the knowledge that the odds of it biting me the ass were out there with being struck by a meteorite on the same day that I won the lottery.. A lottery that I don't even play!

Playing it straight has nothing to do with my concerns about being caught though. It's about the principle. People were amazed when I explained to them today that I was both previously a bookie, and an honest one at that. The agency I currently work for was surprised when I phoned them last Friday, as I thought I had been overpaid considerably (turned out it was a tax rebate). Just as much as I'm sure my playing it straight in this situation would surprise the people who know how desperately I want to get my ass out of that hellhole!

Playing it straight IS always the right thing to do though. Honesty IS the best policy. Integrity IS everything.

Sure, playing it straight isn't always easy, but who ever said that doing the right thing was easy?  I'll still find my way out, and I'm not giving up. It's just that no matter how much you want something, it's not worth giving up what you believe in to get it.. At least that's what I believe.

The Early Bird Catches The Worm

Or should that be that be the early bird catches the work, as the original typo for this post read? It'd certainly be apt!

As most of you I am sure know by this point, I am not exactly happy in the job I am currently in for a number of reasons. Namely, the people, the job itself, the distance I have to travel every sodding day just to earn my unimpressive wage. It has bugger all going for it, other than not being unemployment; and I've not been shy about it.

Rather than simply resigning myself to complaining about it however; I've decided to take the initiative and do something about it. Don't get me wrong, I still find the time to complain about it. I just can't help but feel all that complaining is little more than wasted energy.

Complaining, bitching, and whining aside however, when I found myself up with the dawn chorus this morning I was overjoyed. For most people, being awake so early might serve as a bit of an annoyance. Even more so, if as in my case they don't clock on until 11:00.. But no, I see this as a positive. It's something I was even hoping for when I turned in last night!

For me the first plus of waking up so early is the shear pleasantry of being woken by bird song as opposed to two (yes TWO) overbearing alarm clocks. Waking naturally also puts a certain spring in your step. Something you just don't get from being jarred from your slumber by by two screeching electronic harpies.

The second, and the reason I wanted an early start to begin with was so that I could look for work! This is something that I wanted to do yesterday evening, but honestly after a 4 hour round commute, and the company of my colleagues for 5 hours I was too mentally drained to do my best work; and applying for jobs is all about showing perspective employers the best possible you. Something that is hard bordering on the impossible when you're that exhausted.

Which brings us to here, now, and a couple of hours to play with that I wouldn't otherwise have.

Time to get cracking! Time to get job hunting!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Meeple Arcade #1: Something New

When I set out to write this blog, something that I decided was that I wanted to give myself a lot more scope than I had with previous efforts. If it was something that interested me, I wanted to include it; as well as blogging about life in general.

The thing we me though is that a lot of things interest me.

There are the staples that have kept my interest over the many years such as roleplaying and boardgames; but there are the passing interests too where something catches my eye, and I want to know more. Bio-plastics for example.

Something that has recently caught my eye in such a way is in browser gaming.

Now, flash games are nothing new, but my appreciation for them is; as in the past I had largely overlooked them (with the exception of a few absolute gems). In fairness, it was easy to! The web is beyond saturated with flash games, and a lot of them are either poorly developed or just clones of poorly developed games that someone thought was fun, or funny.

As I say though, there are gems; and that's what I want this section to be about. Flash games that I have played, and actually enjoyed. Games that I hope that you too will enjoy.

I have a few in mind already that I have played recently (and a few that have really stuck with me from years back); so watch this space, for some free flash fun.

Dream It, Do It

This isn't the title of a forthcoming self-help novel penned by Brian Griffin, but some genuine advice that I have given myself. Advice I needed with how downtrodden I was feeling this time yesterday. Life can sometimes get on top of you, but the important thing is your ability to get back on top of life.

Dream it. Do it.

All dream it, do it is; is a very basic way of helping you achieve this. Where by you simply set a goal (the dream aspect), and then you do it. You don't make excuses, you don't get distracted; and as a result you see some real results.

So this morning when I woke up, instead of propping myself up in front of the TV with some chocolate biscuits, feeling sorry for myself; I hit the day running. I kicked the day with some exercise, and my vitamins before grabbing a bath to get rid of the funk I'd worked up. It was there that I set to thinking about what I wanted to do with the day, and what I was doing with myself.

Dream it.

I think of my bath as my think tank. It's where I get a lot of my ideas. One of these today was, "stop getting distracted". It's the same every week. I decide that I'm going to spend the weekend gaming, but when the weekend comes round I find I have to do X, Y and Z; and once I've done those, I'm in no mood for gaming. Too much of the day has been lost I tell myself.. It'll keep. There's always next weekend. I'll definitely do it then. It's a vicious cycle.

Not today I thought. Not again. Nope.

Do it.

So instead of laying there pondering away, I decided to get up, and get out (after having washed of course). I came to realise that as much as I value thought (and I really do), and the time to think; too much thinking distracts you from actually doing. It's self-defeating. If you don't act upon your better ideas, you may as well not have had them.

Once out I didn't allow myself the time to get distracted by anything else. I just got dressed and set about my current goal which was getting in a few games towards my 10 x 10 Challenge. Which I did! Only two games in fairness, but it's still more than I would have achieved had I not picked myself up, and dusted myself off.

I also feel like I achieved something. A feeling which is allowing the words to come a lot more easily than they did yesterday. Mood is very important when it comes to writing, so keeping yourself motivated is critical. As is self-belief.

Achieving what you set out to do goes a long way towards boosting both of those (mood and self-belief); and dream it, do it can really help you set obtainable goals.

What do you want to do? Okay, and how are you going to do it?

Saturday, 11 March 2017

A Game Of Moans

You might think that finding yourself living a fantasy epic would be pretty cool. Let me tell, you; it gets old, fast!

When I started up in my most recent role only a few weeks ago I thought to myself, "what a nice bunch of guys". The commute (nearly two hours each way) was crap, and the pay wasn't much better but at least the people I'd be working with were a decent bunch; which from past experience goes a long way towards making a job workable. I was wrong though. So so wrong.

I can't believe I fell for it!

In my defense though, it does stagger  belief to think that so many conflicting personalities and agendas could be crammed into such a small office. At least in Game of Thrones they had a whole continent to work with! Here we're talking little beyond 25 square feet. Still, for its size, it seems to have harnessed quite a collection of volatile personalities.

Each personality with it's own agenda, and more than a fistful of gripes and snipes for all the people in the very same, small and sinking boat

As much as they're all in this for themselves however; their selfishness does not preclude them striking together like a pack of hyenas picking off the weak and wounded in activity that falls nothing short of bullying. The victim of which has now left the company.

As you can well imagine, adjusting to such an environment has been rather a lot to take in, and keeping one eye on your back with the other on your work at all times is exhausting. Not to mention the difficulty in having to deal daily with behavior that I find highly reprehensible.

So what to do?

Well, I could take the official route and direct my concerns towards management. It is however the lack of authority in the little management that we have that has allowed the pack to run wild; as I have no doubt that they too have seen what I have seen. They just can't do anything about it, being both outnumbered and inexperienced.

I could seek to best the pack at their own game. I have no doubt that I could, but what would that really achieve? I'd end up dragging myself through the muck in the gutter, and I'd be no better than they are. So, not really a viable choice.

No, what I have decided is that the best role in a situation mirroring the Game of Thrones universe, if a role must be played at all, is that of the reader / viewer. That is understanding that just because I can see into this world; I don't have to become a part of it, or allow it to become a part of me.

That is only a band-aid though, and I know it.

Being in this environment for the short time I have has already taken a swipe at my health, and I have to admit I am finding it hard to write and concentrate at the moment. Even stringing together simple sentences is difficult. With getting as far as I have with writing this current post taking well over two hours! That's ridiculous. Ridiculous, and not good!

Nil desperandum

I'm not giving up though. I never give up, and when things get tough; well I just push harder.

So I've hit the job search hard today, and made a pact with myself. One that I feel pretty certain will help me push on when times are hard. The pact is that if I don't have a better job by the time expo (the UK Games Expo) comes round, then I don't get to go.. And I want to go! Also no buying board games until things pick up either. Even post expo.

It might seem unusual to some people to sanction yourself when what you really need is support; but I prefer to think of it as tough love. I need a focus, so I'm giving myself one. Something I can look forward to if I achieve my goal, as opposed to something I have to reflect upon every working day that my goal goes unrealised.

Here's to making expo happen this year!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

One Man And His Dice #4: Wood For The Trees

Following on from my previous post, we re-join our hero at the edge of the woodland where all signs indicate the orcish warband terrorising the local villages have set up shop. He’s close, but Erik will still need to find the den itself.. And the woods are a big place. Full of twists and turns that could easily see a stranger to these parts become lost or worse. No doubt the reason the orcs chose this location.

For this part of the adventure I decided to do something that is again not strictly by the book (oh, the rebel with a dicebag that I am!). I decided that searching such difficult terrain could take days, and in that time any number of things could happen.

To simulate this I gave Erik a fate roll every day that he searched for the den, with an initial target of 6. That target number then dropped by 1 every day, as an expression of the ground covered and the discovery of clues left behind by the orcs. This made certain that the adventure would not consist of endlessly searching through the forest, whilst offering up the strong possibility of some random woodland encounters (one of which would be generated for each day Erik spent searching without locating the orcs hideout).

At this point I also took a couple of more executive decisions with regards to this element of the overland adventure. In addition to the encounter (rolled up randomly with Explore To The Core), I decided that Erik would need to consume a provision for every day he traveled aimlessly. I did also consider having Erik hunt for water, but gave it up as rather pointless notion. The woodland around him was rich and green; so there was evidently no shortage of water in this area; and without a doubt as he trekked through the trees he would come across at least one clean source a day. He also had a waterskin with which to carry away some of whatever he found, which should be more than enough combined to offset any risk of dehydration.

So, day one of our game within our game and I rolled a 1 for the fate roll. Not a promising start, and worlds apart from the 6 I needed.  Time for an encounter. Rolling on the forest encounters table I found that Erik had been greeted by a friendly woodland spirit. Better than an angry one! The spirit accompanied Erik for a while as he searched the immediate area but seeing that he was getting nowhere and somewhat distracted by his puckish companion they both settled down for a rest, Erik planting himself upon the mossy trunk of a fallen tree.

Before they parted at nightfall Erik and the sprite played a simple game of chance. Whilst enjoyable, it was not profitable; losing a small amount of coins (5 GP) to the woodland creature. Erik did wonder what stock such a being placed in the material wealth of man as he lay there under the moonlight that night, but surmised that for this creature the coins where probably no more than a memento of the time they’d shared together.

With a warm feeling inside Erik settled into his uneasy surroundings; somehow feeling safe in the knowledge that such friendly beings inhabited this place.

Day two and Erik is once again up with the dawn chorus. The early bird catches the worm after all. However rolling a 3 for his fate roll today he doesn’t catch any orcs. This entire area of woodland is almost bereft of life friendly or otherwise, with the most interesting living thing being a patch of odd colored mushrooms growing in the shade of one of the mightier trees. Knowing nothing of them, Erik thinks better of eating any of strange fungus. The last thing he needs at this point is to fall ill. Suspecting there may be more to them than meets the eye however he does decide to collect a few, with a plan of learning more about them when he returns to civilisation.

Erik concludes the day by setting up camp and taking in his surroundings. It’s quiet. Too quiet. Could it be that the presence of the orcs has driven away many of the creatures that call this place home?

After a restless nights sleep full of dark dreams Erik awakes on day three. Taking a few minutes to compose himself, Erik takes a firm grip of the haft of his axe and steels himself with a gritty resolve; and soon the woes of the night have slipped into the aether like mist yielding to the sunlight. Unable to recall his dream, but unable to shake the feeling in pit of his stomach Erik presses on into the forest in search of the orcish blight.. And rolling a 4 for today’s fate roll, Erik finds them!

Only an hour or so after waking Erik comes upon a large collection of rocks in a clearing. Rocks the size of small huts, wildly overgrown with trees and shrubbery. Near perfectly concealing a yawning cave mouth worn away by the ages into one of the larger stones. Erik could have easily missed this if it were not for the subtlety of orcs, who wishing to mark their territory have planted a marker at the entrance to their lair; adorned in blood, tribal symbols, and crowned with a humanoid skull. A warning to anyone who would trespass into their domain.

To Erik though, this is far from a warning, It’s an invite!

This is as far as I was able to play through to in my first session due to time constraints, but as you can see I am far from done. There are a few seeds for future adventures down the road that have been planted, and I am just about to enter into my first dungeon; the Dungeon Of The Orc Boss.

Stay tuned to One Man And His Dice as we take the plunge, and delve into the depths of darkness to push back the green tide.

10 x 10 Challenge #11: 100 Swords - Game #5

Following on from my previous post, I got back on the 10 x 10 Challenge this morning; rounding off the last of the 100 Swords games that will include The Red Dragon's Dungeon, whilst breaking out The Darkness Dungeon Builder Set (DBS) for the first time.

In my last post I made a few assumptions and predictions regarding just how I thought the addition of this DBS might affect play. But where they accurate?

How did this Dungeon Builder Set change gameplay?

In short, no. Not even close. Whilst there where indeed a good few cards with the hide effect in this new DBS; none of those cards really seemed to amount to anything in the game that I played. The dungeon was also completely revealed on eight occasions this time! Which was not only completely unexpected but also seemed to throw the theme of this DBS completely out of the window.

In fairness, one of the reveals was as a result of several cards chain reacting; so I can almost let that go. That still leaves me with seven occasions to account for however, which is on par with The Chroma Dragon's Dungeon Builder Set. A set which is geared (or so I assumed it was), to reveal more of the dungeon over the course of a game.

Ultimately this leaves me wondering exactly what these DBS' do. Not to be overly critical of a game that I enjoy but, these two sets played almost identically.. So what's the point in owning both?

I suppose from my point of view there is the completionist aspect of ownership (although as I didn't kickstart this game, I am missing the two cards associated with being a backer); and I also like the idea of owning as many of the available cards as possible for when I build my own custom dungeon decks. If neither of these notions bother you though, I can well imagine you'd be left scratching your head as to what the point in purchasing both was.

So which of the two DBS' would I recomend?

Based upon the two games I played, I would have to hand victory to The Darkness.

Whilst there are no immediate differences (or so it seems) in the gameplay between the two expansions; there are in my opinion more interesting things going on in The Darkness. The Altar of Darkness for example is an obstacle that you almost certainly won't want to clear. There is no real need to! It isn't impassable, so it being in the dungeon isn't going to get in your way; and its ability can be really useful in thinning out your deck.

Then there is the introduction of a "bane item". A one-shot item that can kill the boss outright.

The Darkness Dungeon Builder Set is the first to introduce this concept in the series, and it's a real point in its favor. Having this option makes the boss stand out amongst its peers, in the same way that The Magic Computer being the first boss to be an item instead of a monster set it apart from those I had previously faced. It's small things like this that keep things interesting.

Win, lose, or draw?

I managed to rack up another victory, beating the A.I 56 to 49 Gold.

What's next?

Honestly, I'm not too sure. On the one-hand I am eager to press on with 100 Swords; with a view to ticking off the first game in my 10 x 10 Challenge. On the other hand however, variety is the spice of life.

Hmmmm, maybe I'll just roll a dice or toss a coin and go with whatever it comes up with; as I'll be quite happy whatever game I wind up playing off my list.

10 x 10 Challenge #10: 100 Swords - Game #4

Realising that I was getting behind on the commitment that I had made to the 10 x 10 Challenge, and just how much ground I still had to cover to achieve what I was setting out to achieve; I set aside a couple of hours yesterday to get some quality gaming in.

Picking up where I left off with 100 Swords, it was the turn of The Chroma Dragon's Dungeon Builder Set (DBS) to be combined with The Red Dragon's Dungeon. As with the previous two games where I had added a DBS to the The Red Dragon's Dungeon, I replaced the boss from the dungeon deck with the boss from the DBS. A dragon for a dragon in this case. 

How did this Dungeon Builder Set change gameplay?

Well it did introduce the vaporise effect, which was new to me; but as the A.I took the only card that carried this ability it had no impact what so ever on the game I played.

One bizarre thing that did keep occurring during this game however was the dungeon being constantly revealed in it's entirety. Seven times during this game by my count, which based on my previous experience of playing 100 Swords is almost unheard of.

The theme of this DBS is however light, so I suspect that it is by design that so much of the dungeon is being revealed with such frequency. Well, that along with a few other environmental factors. For example, there are more cards with reveal effects in the dungeon deck I am using than there are with hide effects; so The Red Dragon's Dungeon is by default weighted towards revealing cards (if only slightly).

Then there is the A.I, which reveals the first and last card in the dungeon every turn (if you haven't already done so); which coupled with my aggressive play style would often see at least half the dungeon being revealed every turn as I push on through it, trying to work out which cards I want to target for drafting in the next turn.

So whilst the Chroma Dragon's DBS cannot be said to be solely responsible for the dungeon being completely revealed almost every turn, I certainly think that there is some correlation between its introduction and the sudden increase in the number of times we're seeing only face up cards in the dungeon, at the end of a turn.

Win, lose, or draw?

It was another player win, scoring 49 Gold to the 39 taken by the A.I.

What's next?

Next up is the final outing for The Red Dragon's Dungeon in the 10 x 10 Challenge, where it will be combined with The Darkness Dungeon Builder Set. Something that I am suspecting will be akin to the yin of the Chroma Dragon's yang. More hiding effects are almost a given, but what else will it yield?

Time to get shuffling and to find out!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

A Thrifty Find!

Not long after posting up the latest in Erik's exploits today, I decided to go for a walk.
There's nothing particularly post worthy in that, as like many adults of my age I have been walking for just over 30 years. It's impressive to start off with, but once you get past the toddler stage you really have to push the envelope to have anything to write home about.

Today's reasons were nothing particularly special either. I was all out of biscuits, and to get the ones I like I needed to travel about a mile.. I'd also be passing a few friends on the way, and the new sweet shop that's opened up (ironically called "The Old Sweet Shop"); so I figured if the friends were about and the shop was open I'd swing by them. Make the journey worthwhile, and maybe pick up some bacon flavored candy into the bargain.

Alas the sweet shop was shut, but as my journey also took me past several charity shops I figured I'd take the opportunity to browse the boardgames that had been donated to them. I wasn't really expecting much, if anything as I had only just done the rounds last week; but life as they say is full of surprises.

Tucked away on a high shelf in the first store I entered was a copy of Zeus On The Loose.. Still in its shrink wrap.. For only £1.59! Sold!

Truth be told, this probably isn't a game that I would have bought at full R.R.P; but at a such a discount, and with the proceeds of the transaction going to a good cause, how could I refuse?

So another game has found a good home, a good cause has raised a little money towards their ends, and a journey for assorted sugary treats resulted in something more than just a recipe for tooth decay.

One Man And His Dice #3: Onward To Glory

Welcome back to the latest posting of the adventures of Erik, saviour of an as of yet unnamed village; and the scourge of the orcish warband in his wake.

We join our hero early in the morning, and refreshed after a fine night of food and tall tales in the elders home, discussing past triumphs with his new found friends. Gathering his kit, Erik assures the elder of the village that he will not return until he has driven the orcs in the north from this land. The elder replying only with a knowing nod and an assuring smile.

The area of land that Erik is traveling into is no less hospitable than that surrounding the village but for a distinct lack of roads or beaten paths, however as it is sparsely populated and infrequently traveled I decide that both a travel roll and encounter roll should be made.

The travel roll indicated that Erik had become lost, and a subsequent pathfinding ability test was missed by 1. I interpreted this as being more disorientated than lost, but the extra effort required to find his way did result in a temporary loss of 1 Will.. Erik should really buy a map! Taking the path less traveled does have some advantages however, as whilst Erik was taking a left when he should have taken a right he happened upon a small camp of scholars and intellectuals.

Curious about their work they explained that they were archaeologists and historians excavating some ruins that had been recently discovered (or at least I decided that is what they were doing based on the description of the encounter). Not being accustomed to some of the more physical requirements of field work, and seeing Erik as being rather impressive in stature they offer him some work laboring for them at a very good rate.

Tempted as he is by the prospect of some easy gold, Erik declines; putting his responsibilities before financial gain. He also takes the time to explain the situation to the scholars, who he notices are without an escort in these dangerous wild lands. They thank Erik for his warning but do not seem phased by the news. Perhaps they’re not as defenseless as they seem Erik ponders.

As an aside, this random event also struck me as a great seed for a future adventure; especially as four of the five dungeons randomly rolled up for this area are set in ruins. The group that offered Erik the work could be uncovering one of these very dungeons. I can’t deny being impressed with how easily and organically this all fell into place, and likewise I can’t deny that the system made this kind of intuitive leap very easy. Good stuff.

At this point I decided that it was time to allow Erik to find the woodland where the orcs had made their base, but not before the dying light so as to add a sense of foreboding to an already precarious situation. I allow Erik time to set up a simple camp on the outskirts of the large wooded area before nightfall; deciding that he would find it preferable to continue his quest after a few hours rest.

This also seems like a good point in the story to wrap this post up. Join me next time when Erik embarks on the next leg of his journey, as he searches the woodland in the hopes of uncovering his goal.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

One Man And His Dice #2: Visions Of Valor

In my previous post we did all the set up required in order to get a game of SCRAWL underway. Although I should say at this point that you don’t need to go as far as creating a land in which to explore if you don’t want to. You can just dive straight into a dungeon as you would with one of the more traditional Fighting Fantasy novels if that’s more your thing, but I decided to do so for a couple of reasons.

One of these was that I wanted to use Explore To The Core, as it turns the journey to your dungeon into an adventure in itself; whilst the random seeds that it sows offer a wealth of inspiration for further off the cuff adventures. The other is a personal desire to work with the random elements in order to weave the narrative. It’s a good cerebral work out as a writer, that tests both your creativity and skill with the written word.

Back to the matter at hand however and our hero, Erik, is standing in a large town ready to embark upon his quest. Before doing so however he decides that it may be prudent to invest in a few additional supplies. Taking an hour or so to peruse the market place and the local merchants, Erik finds a simple but sharp dagger that he decides would be useful should he find himself in a pinch; and a waterskin that should do him well enough for his journey overland.

For a few more coins Erik gathers all the food he can carry before leaving the town, and heading north towards the area of the reported orc raids.

With SCRAWL you only roll for travel and events when moving from hex to hex if you’re playing by the book; but wanting to mix things up and keep things interesting I decided that the relatively short journey (about half a day) from the town to the more remote village was plenty of time for something unexpected to happen.

Rolling for an event I find that part of the roughly beaten track between the two locations has become a boggy mire. Not wishing to take a detour, Erik decides that the best course of action is to push on through the thick mud and sludge. It is hard work, but Erik does make it; if slightly more exhausted for the effort expended (-1 Will).

It’s at this point that I created a quick house rule that every ability roll attempted (the above encounter required two), grants your character 1XP once it has been resolved regardless of the outcome. This is a throwback to my many years of playing Tunnels & Trolls, where whenever you attempt to make a saving roll you earn adventure points. This makes sense to me, as even failing to achieve something teaches you something about the thing you are trying to achieve; and failure can often be a better tutor than success.

The rest of the morning and early afternoon passes without event, and Erik soon arrives at his destination where the villagers are hard at work building primitive wooden barricades and fortifications. This isn’t something that I rolled up, but rather something that I made up on the fly. I figured that being in a remote location, the villagers had probably felt that they were on their own in defending their homes. I then considered that with limited materials available to them, and not being either soldiers or engineers; a few hastily erected wooden blockades is probably all they could have mustered since the raids began.

I also decided that given their current woes the villagers may be a little suspicious of an armed stranger arriving unannounced, so a fate roll would be used to determine their reaction to the arrival of our hero. Weighing up the various factors, I decided that making a medium (difficulty 4+) fate roll would allow Erik entry to the village.

I rolled a 6, which I decided wasn’t just a success but a great success. Again, this wasn’t strictly by the book but it felt right. Working with this idea, I decided that Erik would be met by the village elder who would escort him to their home. There the elder would advise Erik that they had received a vision of his arrival, and of his quest. Whilst the vision did not tell of Erik’s fate or the outcome of his endeavor, it did show the elder a man of great conviction and with a ferocity of spirit. Enough for the elder to believe that Erik could do what he was setting out to do, and free their village from the orcish menace.

The belief of the elder of the village revitalised Erik (restoring the will lost to the boggy ground earlier), which again wasn’t strictly by the book; but I figured if trying circumstances can drain your will, then such a glowing endorsement could replenish it.. And it was only one point. This also seemed like a good time for the character to rest. Erik could have chanced a night in the wilderness, but with the villagers being quite hospitable; it seemed silly to go and sleep out in the cold. In fact, so grateful where the villagers to have a strapping young fighter around, and the security that this brought with it; that they fed and sheltered him for the night at no expense.

Eriks temporary respite also seems like a good stopping point for us too, as this post is getting rather lengthy. Join me next time, where we find out what happens when Erik sets back out into the world in search of orcs, their blood, and most importantly; glory!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

One Man And His Dice #1: SCRAWL Good

Solitaire roleplaying is a subject that sparks a lot of debate amongst gamers. Some even go as far as to say
that it isn’t possible. With this new segment though, “One Man And His Dice”; I aim to prove that it’s not only possible, but also a highly enjoyable pastime.

For my first adventure I will be using SCRAWL, a rules light system specifically designed with the solitaire gamer in mind. I am lucky enough to have all of the current supplements to hand, along with a copy of the latest rulebook, and the DungeonOf The Orc Boss; but for the set up and first session I will only be using Explore To The Core, and the core rules themselves (along with a few of my own, that alter the game-play slightly but don’t break it in anyway).

Set Up

Before I can get underway I need to generate both a character, and the land that they’ll be adventuring in; both of which are accomplished with a minimal amount of dice rolls.

First, my character. Looking over the options I decide that I will play as a Fighter. Whilst they have no specific skills that will be massively useful for the overland adventure that I am planning for my first session; they should come into their own when they reach the Dungeon Of The Orc Boss, which I have decided will be the second session.  Martial classes also tend to be easier to handle, so if you’re starting out new with a system; they’re generally a good place to begin.

Character creation in SCRAWL is extremely easy. There’s no rolling what so ever! No rolling, no calculations; just pick a few options from a few lists, and you’re good to go. Which I have to admit took me by surprise. Not rolling up characteristics is almost unheard of, but it really works here. It lets you play the character you want to play, as opposed to the one that the dice rolls give you.

Fighters are particularly easy to generate. All you need to do is pick a weapon, and decide how many provisions and torches you want to take with you (up to three of each). Initially I did wonder why this was an option. It seemed almost a given that everyone would take the maximum of each. That was until I considered the nature of my adventure.

As I’ll largely be traveling overland, I really don’t need that many torches. If I take them however, they’ll count against my encumbrance; which means I’ll be able to carry less food with me. Something that is significantly more important when I know my adventure will have me spending considerable time away from civilisation. Far better to pass up on the freebies than to overload myself with stuff I have no immediate use for I figure.

Next up I decided to semi-randomly generate the land in which I would be adventuring. I knew for example that in order to run some aspects of the adventure that I wanted to, I would need a land that was largely plains with a wooded area to the north; with some mountains beyond that. Other than that though, I decided to let the dice provide the inspiration.

Rolling on the tables for temperate plains (as that seemed the best fit to the geographical setup I was going for), I rolled up two additional sites and five dungeons. That’s a lot of dungeons! Four of these rolled up dungeons were listed as ruins, but one was listed as caves. This is the one that I decided would be the orcs den, as it fitted best with how I imagined the narrative of the adventure progressing.

The two sites rolled for where a castle, and a wizard’s abode; which suggests to me that this land is in some way quite important (why else would you build a castle). It conjured up ideas of a rich and verdant land, which was largely at peace; but not without its troubles. Maybe the castle was here as a base of operations for a peacekeeping force.. Maybe it was one of the ruins? That’s something I haven’t decided yet, and as it has no direct bearing on the adventure at hand I’m willing to let it slide until it becomes significant.

So now I was all set up, I decided to flesh out my character a little more. I named him Erik, and in my mind I have modeled him after a dark age viking warrior. I decide that his weapon of choice will be a hand axe (with which he’ll receive the Fighters combat bonus), and that his reason for adventuring is to seek glory. He wants people to sing songs of his epic exploits, and to leave his mark on the pages of history. Erik is bold to the point of reckless and believes that his best hopes of becoming immortalised through his deeds is to make them truly great.

Hearing of the troubles to the north, Erik sees the opportunity he’s been waiting for and decides to wade in.. Axe first. From the stories he has heard whispered in the streets, the orcs raiding the border villages must outnumber him at least 20-1; and whilst this would make many lesser men pale with fear, it only serves to increase the thunder of Erik’s heart as it beats with excited anticipation.

That’s unfortunately all we have time for at the moment. Join me for the next One Man And His Dice posting, where Erik begins his journey for gold and glory.