Thursday, 28 June 2012

Diet Update and Pathfinder Campaign.

This week I weigh 13st 10lbs and have lost a total of 18 lbs. I got to 50 Kettlebell swings this week and so will be adding weight next week.

This Sunday we are having another Fighting Practice in Manor Park in Aldershot from about 11:00.

On Friday this week I will be finishing The Serpent Skull adventure path for my long running Pathfinder Campaign. This finale will be the 32nd Session of the campaign, This is only the 2nd Campaign I will have run all the way through (the other being The Witchfire Trilogy) and will feature this Dwarven Forge set up:

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


This week I am adding another level to the exercise that I do.

I already do an hour of Pilates, and an hour of Tai Chi each week.

So this week I am starting the exercises from the Injury proofing chapter of 4 hour body.

It starts with a self assessment and finding your weaker sides and limbs

Then there are 4 basic exercises that you do more of on your weaker sides.

1. The Chop and Lift
2. The Turkish Kettleball get up
3.Two-arm single-leg deadlift (2SDL)
4. Cross-body one-arm single-leg deadlift (1SDL)

Today I am doing the assessment and practicing the motions and then Thursday I start the exercises themselves.

Last week I got myself some more Dwarven Forge. I ordered The Ruins set from the EU Distributer and then On Sunday in The Games Shop found a set of the fantasy floor set.

Here are some pics of them and the D&D game we played over the weekend ran by Gav.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Diet Update and Cool Links

This week I weigh 13st 11lbs. I have lost a total of 17lbs. My total Inches are 152.

Today I helped to run an open day for a variety of my favorite Games Shops, I got to give a short talk on my experiences in the D&D Next Playtest and saw loads of my customers.

However I did slip slightly off the diet with a curry with some colleagues and customers last night and with the lunch spread at the open day. So Ant earned two forfeit points from me, bringing me 20% closer to a Mankini Nightmare.

As I have been helping to organise and run an open day I have not had as much time to write a full post this week so instead I have grabbed a selection of cool links and things I found on the internet recently.

My friend Chloe has entered a competition in The Look magazine who have apparently just extended the deadline to the 4th of July. So please go and vote for her.

Another Friend of mine Gav has several excellent books in print and has released a short story on his publisher's website to celebrate the release of his latest book War in Heaven in softcover. The Short Story is called Triangle and can be found here:

This is Thracia my ongoing D&D Next Playtest Campaign continues. This week my players visited the Haunted City of Troy and fled from unkillable Dust Zombies. Related to that I found this awesome table about Almost Indestructible Villains that my players should not worry about.

More interesting short stories can be found over at Everwalker this week including some polls on what you would like to see more of on her blog.

What is the most interesting thing you  found on the internet this week?

Monday, 18 June 2012


One of the reasons I started this blog was to help keep me on my diet track by crowd sourcing guilt trips. The theory being that I need to carry on doing it because I am telling you all about it.
This post is about extending that theory to my Dreamlines.

Dreamlining is something I read about in The 4 Hour Work Week. After my Harajuku moment I made a list of everything I wanted to do have or be in the next 6 and/or 12 months. Similar to a bucket list.

It recommends that you be over the top with the things you want and you group them into 3 categories. Things you want to Have, Do and Be (with Being actually a re wording of things you want to do).

Once you have a list of about 5 of each category you have a couple more steps, first work out how much they will cost you. Then work out the first three tasks to accomplishing each of them.

Decide which ones you want in the next 6 months and which ones you want in the next year. Then add up the costs for each thing. Add in your normal monthly outgoings and add a third for emergencies and you have the amount you need to do all the things you want to do in the next 6 months or a year. divide that down to work out your weekly or daily earning targets.

Once you have all that do the first task of the three needed to start accomplishing the things you want in the next 6 months. Do it now. Tomorrow do step 2, preferably before 11 am. Then step three the next day.

Some of the things on my list and the steps I have taken are taking are:


More Dwarven Forge
I have wanted an awesome Dwarven Forge set up since I first demoed D&D on some at UK Games Expo Since then one of my good friends, the owner of Black Lion Games in Edinburgh, was looking to sell his collection. We worked out a deal and he sent it down to me. On top of that a European distributor for it opened up and I have been eyeing up additional sets greedily.

A New Car.
I have had my Ford Fiesta for close to ten years now and it is starting to show. In addition K8 needed a car for her new Job so this weekend she purchased a Ford Focus. I’m still looking for one for me.

More Lego!
Mostly for Mobile Frame Zero. I got a long way towards this one over my Birthday weekend because I had filled my Amazon Wishlist with Lego sets that would be good for the game.

A “High tech house”.
Basically I want to be able to watch all of my media on the TV in the living room. regardless if it is on DVD my Itunes or something else.
I have been investigating Apple TV or using one of our spare or old PC’s to make a media machine and networking it all but I have not quite finished sorting it all out. I have however started a one month free Trial of Netflix, which looks like I may never have to buy a DVD again.

Laser Eye Surgery
Fairly self explanatory. So far I have investigated pricing and quality.

Doing and Being
Go to Crete
My Aunt is the pro consul in Crete and I have wanted to visit for years. So far I have emailed her to ask some advice and investigated the prices of flights and hotels.

Going to Gen Con and Pax.
I have been to Gen Con US with work Twice now and I cannot recommend it enough.  
Both of these are probably going to have to be delayed until 2013 as we have a very busy August already lined up.

Being the best larp fighter.
You may already have seen some posts about my progress with this. I had originally listed being a better Larp fighter but you don’t get better by being vague. My goal is to enter and win one of the fighting games at the next Grand Edrejan Fair and in the mean time to train and fight a lot of people who are better than me.   

Being a Martial Artist
I really missed training so I have started going to Tai Chi and K8 and I am going to investigate Local Bujinkan Dojo’s again.

Each week I look at my list and make sure I advance at least one of the things by one step. so in addition to my Diet updates you can expect to see me updating my dreamlines and where I am on accomplishing them.

What sort of things are on your Dreamlines or bucket list?

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Interview with Dan and Diet Update

This is a Zombie not Dan
This week I weigh 13 st and 13 Lbs again. I dipped belw that last Friday and am expecting to again this week. The most I have lost so far is a total of 16 lbs. This week I have been exercising in earnest with Pilates, Tai Chi this evening and the Kettleball swings I linked to last week. It has shown a marked difference and I lost the weight from my binge day much faster this week.

After my weekend excursions of Fighting and Zombie related activities I have been thinking alot about larp Fighting again. One of the people who I emailed asking for tips came back to me slightly after my last post but his response was interesting and detailed enough that I asked him if I could post it here.

Dan is the Raptor as featured on This blog occasionally and also plays in the the Jackals faction of the LT (

Me: Hi Dan

I am writing a blog post about Larp sword fighting (and trying to get better.) If you have time please could you answer these questions for me.

Dan: Hi,

Wasn't sure how much you wanted...let me know if this isn't what you're looking for or also when/where it goes up.  Tried hard not to sound too know-all about it (faux modesty of course).

As a disclaimer though, I'm a moderate fighter who used to be better.  However I
have had the opportunity to learn through structured regular practice away from events and the pleasure of having my ass handed to me by a variety of excellent fighters, many of whom were kind enough to point out how they did it.  

It’s also worth pointing out that a lot of people don't like how I fight.  It can be considered 'tappy' or 'unheroic' by some, but for me the competition elements of this style are more important than my opinions on what faux-medieval combat 'should' look like.  I'd also like to be clear that opinions are my own and not necessarily those of anyone who's taught me over the years.  Finally, I would in no way say that my style is definitive - there's loads of different stuff out there that works well and I think it's important to find what works for you.   

What do you do that you don't see other people doing?
Thinking about fighting in terms of discrete moves and sequences.  I think this lets me plan
things a bit more if I'm trying to open up a difficult opponent/fighting several rounds.  At the
very least it’s a great way of reminding yourself that you've become a little too static in your
current fight and you've got a lot more things you could be trying.

What tips would you give a rank novice?
I'd say there are 4 main things for a beginner to try and get their head around:

- 'L' parries
Nearly all basic shots can be parried by a surprisingly small range of motion on the part of the
defender.  From a basic ready position, with a small sword movement right you can block shots to  your sword side, quickly move your sword a foot left and that side is covered.  Finally you can push your sword arm up with a twist of the wrist to lay the sword horizontally flat above your head to guard shots coming in from above.  If you were to use all three, your sword  hand would be drawing roughly an L from your opponents view.  

With practice, this can quickly make most of your blocking automatic and it can really give a confidence boost to those just starting out as it shows results with only an hour or so of practice.  For clarity - don't parry shots to your legs, step back.

- Punch attacks
A lot of my techniques have little to do with real sword use.  In larp I don't have to worry
about penetrating armour, weapon grabbing and well-timed kicks.  I do have to worry about the speed and the safety of my blows though.  A lot of people naturally want to swing a larp weapon when they first pick it up.  This can be slow or hard to control and takes time to get back to your guard.  Instead, the basic strike should be a flat punch starting from midway between hips and shoulder.  You're trying to cover the distance as quickly as you can so make that punch as flat and fast as you can.  When you reach the end, your sword will naturally drop downwards so its easy to anticipate and pull the blow for the opponent with no loss of speed.  Just keep throwing shots out like this, make them as simple a motion as possible and you will speed up immensely.

- Let them come to you
Patience is probably a great thing to learn when you're fighting - you need to be calm and in
control so you can assess the situation more accurately.  One of the best ways to rack up some early kills is by letting people attack you.  Attacking often leaves you very open so a quick riposte will often work if your parries and shots are fast enough.  In an average fight,
advantage will generally be with the person responding to an attack.  This doesn't just mean
against you - in a line fight you can often end up attacking people 3 down to your right if they
aren't paying attention.  Learn to snipe when you get the opportunity and attack to your sides
in a line fight.  

- Fight Everyone (but don't listen to everyone)
This one seems obvious but its very important.  People have very different techniques,
peculiarities and tells - you really want to experience as many of them as possible.  One of the
difficulties of trying new techniques or sparring against new opponents at events is that
everyone watching is inevitably an expert.  Many will offer pointers, convoluted anecdotes about how great they are or complete misunderstandings abut what is going on.  Learn to ignore most of this - stick with your instincts about what you're doing wrong and focus on fundamentals rather than assuming every random spectator will be able to give an insightful critique.  

The ideal though is finding someone you trust and knows a bit about fighting - someone to spot where your technique is falling off, what you might like to try etc.  Try it all and keep what works for you.

What tips would you give someone who is good but trying to get better?

- Lateral motion
I remember one revelatory session in Durham where I was shown how I was actually fighting
someone in a massive field rather than the 1 metre wide strip I was restricting my movement to like a fencer.  Remembering to include sideways motion in your fighting (particularly sword and shield) can really help you crack a difficult opponent or just loosen you up if your style is
becoming too stiff.  There's lots you can do around passing moves, more involved feints and
wraps around the opponents guard - its something to experiment with.  Not always recommended if you're currently part of a shield wall as your buddies won't necessarily appreciate you running off.

- 1 hit per contact
It's easy when doing a lot of sparring to end up doing just contact/1st touch style, where you
each point out when you've been hit.  A lot of combat bears no resemblance to this though, so
it’s important to keep throwing in variation - mainly setting arbitrary rules such as 1/2 hit per
location.  This totally changes the dynamics of a fight as you now have more valuable locations to protect and you can't commit as much to each attack - you'll need to be able recover much faster.  This can really sharpen things up and help you practice cutting down the hordes of one hit goblins all players desperately wish to face at least once in their career so they can feel like Conan.

Why are they different?

I think a big chunk of gaining confidence at fighting or any sport is getting to the stage where
lots of it becomes muscle memory and reflex.  When you can trust that you'll handle the basics
without thinking too much about it then you're free to start exploring more complicated and
exciting things.

Who is the best 3 sword fighters you know?

I'm only going to give 2 because they've been my tutors.

Si Wright - he teaches fighting to Durham University students through the Northern Fight School.  Not only a magnificent fighter, he's also a great experimenter with technique.  Critically for me though he is an extremely perceptive teacher, capable of explaining a technique in a dozen  different ways until it clicks for the student.  He has a predilection for naming his moves
which does help you sound like a ninja when discussing fighting which is no bad thing.  His
book: is a  great explanation of his larp fighting and he makes a great job of explaining very complex
moves.  It is specialised to larger UK fest events and competition fighting (rather than
'heroic' styles) and has a bias towards single sword and sword and shield (but so do I).

Mark Gilbert
I learned under Mark for some time and he's another brilliant fighter.  His style is very
different, very fluid and comfortable engaging at all distances - his head-shots are also
supernaturally fast.  He runs The Riddle of Steel fighting club near London.  One of the traits
he instilled in me was an understanding that teaching was a great way to learn and that you can
always take something away from each fight.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Tribute to Tribute to Chasm Bridge

 These are some pictures of the Prep I am doing for this Friday's D&D Session.

I am recreating the map from here: Tribute to the Chasm Bridge

Diet update to follow tommorow.

An improvised Rope Bridge

Monday, 11 June 2012

Swordfighting Again.

After a Mega Binge day on Saturday, myself and several friends gathered in Manor Park on Sunday to hit each other with LARP weapons under the pretense of training.

10 of us got together to practice and we used a variety of the games from The Sword Book, each of which was interesting and different and made for better (or at least more entertaining) practice than just duelling each other. 

Some of the games we played were:

Cave Troll. One person is restricted to a 2 ft circular area and may choose how many hits they have. Everyone else has 1 hit per location (head, torso, arms etc) and the winner is the Troll that defeats all the opponents but started with the fewest total hits. 

Goblin horde 2/3rds of the players are warriors with 3 hits per location, everyone else is a 1 hit global Goblin. Whenever a player dies they come back as a Goblin. The team that kills the most Goblins wins.

Circle of Treachery all vs all (but with a few shields in the middle of the circle for people to try and grab at the start, if you get a shield you can then use it for the rest of the contest.)

Necromancy like Circle of Treachery but when you died people could raise you as a Zombie.

Line fighting Two equal teams face off within 2 ft of a line and when you die (2 per loc) you join the other side.

Kill the Leader 2 teams but you have to kill the opponents team leader to win. This mostly dissolved into a team fight game.

While we were practicing another friend of mine was organising a Zombie Flash mob next to us.

I have been thinking alot about my Larp fighting since my last post about it and I have been to a couple of events since then as well. Since the last set of tips, I have taken up Tai Chi again, and got several sets of practicing in. I’m also going to arrange regular practice alternating between Manor Park and a park up in Richmond.