BattleTech – Another Solo Game

This time I decided to run a slightly larger game. I thought to have some heavy hitters on both sides and slug it out to see what happens. And so…

Inner Sphere Lance of a Battlemaster, Atlas, Awesome and Commando vs two points of Clan, a Hellbringer and an Executioner. This is an all out, knock out the enemy brawl, last side standing mission.

I randomly selected two maps, ending up with both as desert, one basically flat and empty and the other with some hills and a small lake.

Rolling for initiative, the IS got to deploy first, taking the hilly side. Tactically they thought to send the Commando around the side (this is when I realised it has no jump jets and is kinda slow for a light, ah well), get the Awesome on the other flank and put the two others into the lake as soon as possible. This will give partial cover AND improve their heat management.

There were about 3 rounds there as the Clan charged all the way across the other map, no one able to hit either due to hills or too much forrest.

In this photo, the Clan are about halfway across the map, so must be turn 2. The IS are starting to implement their plan. So far there has not been any shots taken from either side due to range and the IS staying in cover.

After about two rounds of fighting, the Hellbringer has lost its entire left arm after taking an AC20 on that side. The rest of the mechs have a smattering of damage across their armour, with the Commando creeping around the outside, not really engaged so far.

The IS have got themselves where they wanted and currently hold the lake and have flanked the Clan. From their perspective, they have the Clan right where they wanted. However, the Clan are not yet spent and the IS may be about to get a rude shock at the manoeuvrability of the Executioner. We will see.

I’m using the dice again, but forgot to get out my d20s for the heat tracking. I might go pick up a half dozen loose d20s and chuck them in the BattleTech box I’m storing stuff in. As my second run using dice to track, it really does make adding up a lot of the shots so much simpler. Would have been nice way back in 1989 if my friends and I had known this system.

D&D – Witchlight2 – Session 0 & 1

Dirla, the displacer beast, who runs Lost Property at the Witchlight Carnival.

The group gathered a little later than planned, but keen to get into it. A lot of nerves from the brand new player, and also some from me as my first face 2 face DM.

Firstly we ran a little session zero, mostly to give the new player time to get settled. One player had their character already, and the others rolled their’s. We also all linked into my D&D Beyond campaign. While I didn’t plan on using it too much, mostly just to share the resources, all the players are using the Beyond to roll at the moment, so all their rolls are logged.

The party formed.

  • Human Wizard, Cameron
  • Human Fighter, Alistair
  • Human Monk, Snell
  • Tabaxi Rogue, Wis

And we agreed to head down the lost things hook. With a twist, one of the players, concerned about not having a reason to go to the carnival, had invented the idea that they had been escorting their young nieces, who get lost in the carnival. I decided to add that in as well. I think I will have them taken to LoomLurch.

Their lost things are

  • Cameron can’t keep secrets
  • Alistair has no fashion sense
  • Snell can’t smile
  • and no one can read Wis’s handwriting

We went through some admin things, but I will have to discuss “what if a player is not here” because I don’t think I made that clear.

We still had some time, so we got started.

The carnival arrived in town, the adventurers, not yet a party, headed that way. Alistair in pursuit of his nieces who had dashed off the moment they saw the bright caravans in the sky. They happened to arrive at the ticket booth at the same time and the others agreed to help Alistair search for his family.

They paid to come into the carnival and then they started their search. Their first stop was Lost Property, where, after retrieving a young boy they talked to the displacer beast, Dirla, but at this stage he wasn’t much help.

After that, they thought that perhaps getting up high might help them find the nieces, so headed over to the Dragonfly rides. As they arrive, there is some sort of drama and one guest is almost thrown from one. Snell and Wis spot someone in the crowd and set off to chase them. The other two decide to continue with the ride.

Gleam’s Shadow

While writing this entry, I think I want to get the nieces found. Otherwise the party will not want to go and “enjoy” the carnival. So my plan is thus – the party can’t catch Kettlesteam, but as they reunite they receive a message from Darla – the nieces have been found. As they arrive back at Lost Property, the girls’ parents are there and they are reunited. As a thank you for helping, they are given an extra set of tickets so that they can enjoy all of the carnival. Hopefully, the party will remain and explore and then I can weave in all the “things are not quite right here” hints. I have two already now, the chase of Kettlesteam, and I had one character notice an unsettling shadow (Gleam’s Shadow) but they couldn’t figure out what.

So far, the new player seems to be liking it, the others as well. I’m having fun too. Hopefully it works. Minimum stuff needed as they are all using devices, and worst case I need a device, a notepad and maybe some dice (but can I let you in on a secret, I have a set of dice in pretty much any bag I take with me anywhere). But as I have MY OWN CLASS, I am storing some of the stuff (notebook, DM screen, maps, and some other random stuff there). All I need to take on a playing day are my favourite dice and the Witchlight book. Everything else is either on my iPad or online.

D&D – Witchlight – Planning for the return

I’ve revealed that I plan to run a face to face Witchlight adventure. I’ve been reflecting upon the last game to see what I might do to improve things. The feedback from my last group, while positive (actually really positive) was not very specific. Which didn’t really help my reflection (but was really affirming)

One of the things I want to use, mostly so I can show that cool picture is to have Yarnspinner as an encounter. So I’ve written a little piece for him. I’ll put that down the bottom of this post.

Clearly the game is going to run differently simply due to the different party and different level that they are at. But I’m also thinking about connections that I missed the first time around that give a bit more life to the story and involve some of the hags and Zybilna a bit more into the story.

Some of these include

  • Hints of the 3 hags underlings in the carnival
  • Not revealing as much about the hags in the carnival (chiefly the carousel information).
  • more links between the hags, like the argument over the missing unicorn horn or the dead cat. Admittedly, the last group just walked in an went BAM, you’re dead.
  • More hints around Zybilna and Tasha and….
  • If they haven’t yet, I plan to get the Inn to introduce the 3 rules of Prismeer.

At least that’s what I have so far.

However, I have just realised the biggest problem with the game. I’m one of the soccer coaches for our school. One of the other players is the touch football coach. Our school only has 1 playing field so we will be coaching our teams on opposite days! I think he’s going to have to pull out of the game.

Back to recruiting…

But in the meantime, here is my Yarnspinner piece.

As you walk through the forest you start to hear voice up ahead. Well actually, it sounds like several voices. They don't sound alarmed or angry, rather some excitement perhaps (DC 10 Perception). You see that there is a clearing up ahead, but can't make out anything in the clearing yet (you're not really close enough and there are still several trees hiding the whole clearing).

If the party moves closer (sneaky or not). (Passive Perception greater than 15 start to notice a few webs in the trees nearby).

Ahead the forest opens up into a clearing where a couple of large trees have fallen, the space left in the canopy letting the dim light reach the floor of the forest. Gathered across the fallen trunk is a collection of creatures, most sitting down, with a few wandering around. There is a bear, sitting calmly next to a brace of rabbits. Nearby a couple of harengon sit, seemingly sharing something from a basket. A flash of movement catches your eyes and you spy several fairies perched in some of the higher branches of the fallen tree. They haven't noticed your arrival as the entire crowd seems to be looking away from you. Towards the sound of the voice, or voices. 

There is a collective gasp from the crowd as the voices rise to a crescendo and it sounds like someone is yelling. However, you can't really see through the fallen trees to see what is attracting their attention. You can make out some dark grey fur, but not what creature it comes from. (High perception - notices a couple of claws and an dark pupil less eye)

If the party goes closer the creatures in the crowd won't do anything, but if needed will shuffle sideways to let them through. Or to sit down.

As you clear the trees you see an enormous spider. Half hidden within the trees, this spider is the size of a small building and incredibly the voices seem to coming from it. Now that you are closer, the words are clear (and in their native language)(Yarnspinner has a charm similar in effect to Tongues and Speak with Animals). The spider appears to be reading from a large book.

All around the space are animals and fey creatures, all watching and listening intently to the spider.

If they attack - the creatures flee, Yarnspinner (AC 16, HP 138, 3 atks +8 to hit, 2d8 damage) will disengage as soon as possible and disappear into the dark woods. The woods themselves seem increasingly ominous, the air colder and darker. (Due to the emotional connection of the feywild)

If they listen - You realise the spider is telling a story. It seems to be some tale of adventure, with heroes, known as Valour's Call desperately trying to prevent a group calling themselves the League of Malevolence from getting hold of some powerful magical item. The Call, seemingly to include a Wizard and Cleric at least, are fighting with another Wizard and some kind of fighter. 

If they interrupt - There is a collective sigh from the crowd as you speak up, interrupting the spiders oration. A general chattering noise starts up as the creatures and fey start to grumble among themselves. The sky seems to get a bit colder.

Yarnspinner will ask the party to please find a seat and wait until the end of the story and then he is happy to talk to them. 

If the party insists, he apologises to the crowd, who slowly and grumpily disperse. The sky darkens a little more and the weather seems suddenly a fraction colder. Yarnspinner will interact grumpily with the party and try to hurrry them away.

At the end of the story there is a great applause and joyful shouts. The air seems a bit warmer and some new flowers bloom around the clearing. A happy bustle starts as the animals and fey disappear into the woods around you. Yarnspinner pauses as the fey leave, though it is hard to decide who he is watching. As the last creatures leave, Yarnspinner shakes himself a little and rises on his legs. He appears to readying to leave.

Yarnspinner is an opportunity to update any info that the party might need. Prismeer rules, location of hag, nature of Valor's Call and the League (but doesn't know all of both parties nor that they are in Prismeer, he's just a storyteller).

D&D: Honour Among Thieves

Look, I’m going to go against the trend a little. At least the trend I’ve seen and heard from other D&D players. I thought the movie was just ok.

I looked at it as a movie first. It wasn’t quite funny enough to be a fun romp. The story wasn’t really as complicated as it tried to seem. I didn’t care quite enough about the characters as I might have. The production itself was good, nothing to complain about there.

It just seemed a little lacklustre compared to some other things I’ve watched recently. The real trouble is that it was a movie and not a series. We’ve all seen some amazing television over the past few years, even some fantasy shows that have really gone well. I will admit that there are some that I enjoyed that many did not (Wheel of Time and Rings of Power), so I clearly have a different view on these.

However, after listening to a few D&D YouTube folks, I do want to agree wholeheartedly with some of their thoughts. (And I really do apologise as I can’t remember which ones said this). In some ways the movie reflected really well the way an actual D&D campaign might go. There was crazy schemes, parties heading off on completely unexpected directions or focusing on some random detail. Some humour always happens too, but sometimes parts are, well, a bit boring for some of the party, especially if something that really engages someone else’s character so you are kind of left twiddling your thumbs waiting.

But as a movie, it was ok. And everyone else’s reactions makes me feel I completely missed something in the movie. Would I see it again – not at the movies where it costs almost $30 per ticket. On Netflix or something, I am confident I would happily watch it a few times again.

D&D – A new Witchlight

I put up a flier in my workplace because I thought it might be fun to run a D&D game with my workmates. What do I want, well I would like to play D&D face to face, and I’d love to have a go at DM’ing that. I would like to run it during the week because I can’t really spare the weekends (so am probably dropping out of the face to face game I was in).

I have four people interested so far. We have one who plays frequently, one who has played a little, one who has played another system a little and one brand new person. After a little chat with them, we have a plan for location (my classroom) and a schedule (mid week, after school). This will be the plan at least at the start, maybe later we will move location or time.

The other thing we discussed is what to play. I had three ideas. If they were all new, I would have run Lost Mines. I considered Dragon of Icespire, but I am currently a player in that so didn’t want to ruin it. The other idea for newbies was Stormwreck Isle. I also suggested my own home-brew (but secretly hoped they wouldn’t want to as I’m not sure I’m happy with it yet), and the last idea was to run a published one. With the mix of ability I thought Witchlight would be good. It has lots of role-play, not much fighting and a good chance to get the hang of things without it being overwhelming.

Even though I have recently finished this adventure, it was a lot of fun. And remember, no group does the adventure the same way. And this group has different characters & different players. In this case, running it for 4 level 1 characters rather than 6 level 11 characters will make a difference too

I already have the physical book (I’ve found that even when I’m DM online, I like the actual book in my hands for the adventure). My players can join into D&D Beyond and join the campaign I’ve set up in there. This will give them all the book resources they could want. I also remembered (thanks to a question from one of my kids) that I have some physical cards for the game as I bought the dice set. This will be handy.

Along with the dice, I have a carnival map and these info cards which should prove handy.

For my DM Screen, I’ve decided to use the one from one of the starter kits, mostly as it will be left at school and the one from this box is a cheaper one.

I did spend some money on these covers. I hope they will help to protect my books as I take them to school and back. While they do come in 4 choices (PHB, DMG, MM and generic) I only bought 2. One PHB and one generic that I will put Witchlight in. I don’t use the DMG or MM much, and I can use electronic versions of them, so not required. Even the PHB will likely stay home after the Session Zero. Of note, my BattleTech books also fit. I wouldn’t even have thought of these, except I wandered in a local game store and saw them sitting on the shelf. I did look at generic, cheaper ones but none seemed to be a size that would fit the books (either too large or way to small)

Expensive covers, so I hope they last a while.

So a there is a little bit of prep to do, deciding on some house rules, and which adventure hook to use, before session zero in a couple of weeks. I want to use OneNote for most of that. Session Zero will have the players rolling characters as well.

Then, before you know it, I’ll be running my first face to face as the Dungeon Master. Fun I hope. Bit nervous actually and I’m sure I’m over prepping.

Baby is back

Last week, after what seems an eternity, I got the call that the Ninja is repaired and ready for pick up.

I got to the shop, it was a little of asking favours for lifts to work and to the shop, and making sure my riding gear was at work the day before, so there was some planning needed. But eventually a colleague dropped me about half a block away and I walked up to the shop, spying the bike in the crowd as I did.

Went through the list of items and there was a lot. They did list a foot peg, but hadn’t actually changed it. They’ll order the part and it will be a quick swap. Apart from that it’s actually better, again, than when I first got it. There was some scuff marks on one piece of fairing, but it must have suffered some new damage as it was replaced. Shiny and new looking. The matte black shark tooth exhausts got repainted and looks new too.

Overall really happy. It would have cost a lot to do it all myself, or I would have had to just put up with the damage which would really bother me.

But it’s clearly in need of a new battery.

At least that what I figure after I went to for a ride this Easter Sunday and it “hiccuped” the first time I pressed the starter. So I took a chance, pressed it again. Started.

I did head out for the ride. About an hour after I left, I pulled in for petrol and admit to keeping my fingers crossed when it was start time.

No problems.

So I rode up to Grey Gums. It was a beautiful day.

And the bike worked great.

And it did for the next week or so of commuting as well.

In the meantime, the new footpeg was sorted as well.

But next week, it’s back to driving as school starts again.

D&D – Down with Strahd

It’s been a long and fascinating campaign as my party has wandered through Borovia trying to defeat Strahd and find a way home.

Initially Tilm (an investigative rogue) was my character, but I got a bit bored with him, so the DM and I concocted a plan for him to be kidnapped by Strahd and for the party to meet his cousin, Sister Fredis Braunforge, a War Priest of Moradin. The party also really needed some holiness and some healing.

This adventure went well and great fun was had by all as we explored across the land deciphering our Tarokka readings (the DM was using them as our milestones, so we were keen to level up before Strahd).

It had been expected that it would finish in the session 2 weeks ago. Tension had been building (and the DM was adding to it) as we explored through his castle, looking for the last item. We were nervous about bringing what we assumed was a castle full of minions down upon us, so kept away from our usual explore every room and clear every room to just slip quietly through for our item.

We faced him in his brothers tomb and with the weapons and knowledge we had gathered helped as we battled him and minions. With some injuries, but nothing that we couldn’t handle, we got him to the point that he dissolved into mist and fled.

Initially there was some discussion about hunting him, then exploring the castle, before we remembered that if we didn’t find him son, he would recover. Guessing that since we were in his brothers crypt, there was a good chance Strahd’s crypt should be nearby.

We headed back out into the maze of smaller crypts. We found his parents and had a small run in with a couple of giant spiders before one of our party disappeared. He was replaced with a wight.

We quickly dispatched the creature and our friend returned. Our rogue stepped forward. Only to disappear as well, and another wight appeared. We pushed this one back into the space and snap, it disappeared.

We had uncovered some kind of teleport trap. We thought we must be close.

Sister Fredis cast a dispel magic and it seemed to temporarily clear the trap. The group hurried forwards to find our way blocked by a portcullis.

The lizardfolk fighter gave a stretched and simply lifted it manually! The group hurried in, but to get the fighter through we wedged Fredis spare warhammer (she had found a better one in the adventure). It lasted long enough for the lizardfolk to get through before snapping. The haft clattering to the floor near her feet.

Inside we found a coffin. The plan was that the fighter would open the coffin, then Fredis (as the cleric) would strike with the haft of the warhammer. We had doused it with holy water.

Strahd, inside, had heard us clatter and bang our way into the crypt so was ready when the coffin opened. He let out a blast of necromancy at the fighter as Fredis struck. She called on Moradin to guide her strike (take a +10 bonus) and pinned Strahd to his coffin with a stake through his heart.

At this point the fight was over. He was paralysed and as long as the stake wasn’t removed (or damaged) we could simply hit him until he died.

So we did.

And then destroyed his coffin.

We had won and defeated the evil of Strahd.

Took us over 14 months at 2 hours, once every two weeks. It was a fun game, and story. Even though I have the book myself, I haven’t read it so had no spoilers for myself.

Next up, a Spelljammer campaign and I break from tradition and play something other than a dwarf.

Bike updates.

I looked here and can’t find mention. Sometime before Christmas I was across town running an errand. I popped into shop for about 5 mins and came back out to my bike. As I opened the top box, my glove fell out. Odd, I thought, I must have left it under the lid when I closed it.

Looking at the contents, it seemed like everything was hard up on the right side of the box. My heart sank, and I quickly moved to that side of the bike.

Bar end, mirror, fairing, peg —- yep, all had scratches. The bike had been knocked over while I was away. I hurried around the other side, but nothing immediately stood out as an impact site.

Now the damage was very minor. Barely even cosmetic. But it still bites.

I went into the shop I had parked in front of (not the one I had visited) but no one had seen anything (they said). Most of the other shops were either closed, or actually vacant.

Small scuffing on the engine cover
and on this exhaust.

That was about a month ago now. I’ve put in an insurance claim, the assessor has approved the repairs and the shop is waiting for parts. Along with the items mentioned about, they might be swapping all the locks as the steering lock is acting funny. And they are going to repaint the exhaust as they are scratched on both sides (so guess where the impact must have been). The bike has been rideable this whole time and I’ve not noticed anything out of place or acting funny. (Lucky it was rideable, because I needed the second vehicle to get around it turned out. Just after new year our other car died as well – a hole in the radiator – where have I seen that before….anyway, it’s in the mechanics now too)

It should have almost no effect on my policy and I will only have to pay the excess. No cameras from the nearby shops, no witnesses and no notes.

Slipping into those comfortable clothes

For these last couple of weeks of my school holiday time, I’ve am working as a casual in my old career. I was talking to someone else there. She had worked for a long time, then left, then after a few years came back. She said it was like slipping back into your comfortable clothes.

I totally understood how she felt. It described my own feelings very well. I was somewhere where I knew what I was doing, what was expected of me, there I am an experienced worker, not a beginner. Many of the people who were working in this particular department were the same ones as when I was there myself about 5 years ago.

It is a nice, safe, comfortable spot. But it doesn’t challenge me, I don’t feel like I’m improving or expanding my knowledge.

So while it is nice to be back, and the money is a big help, and I am happy that I can stay relevant and have a worthwhile task to do, I am not unhappy that I have my teaching starting again in less than a week.

Because while those old comfy clothes are good when you want to chill, I’ve got some new clothes, that I am sure will be comfy too, I’ve just got to wear them in a bit first. Like a new pair of boots.