Monday, 30 July 2012

This is Thracia Dungeon

Inspired by this post from Howling tower and the reprints of the 1st edition Ad&D rulebooks here is a example of one of my Dungeons from This is Thracia.

Players from this is Thracia should recognise it as it has already been visited and cleared out once or twice.

This dungeon started out inspired by the haunted Prison dungeon in Skyrim.

Then I added a haunt (like a ghost trap) inspired by the Herald Volazj boss fight from the Old Kingdom Dungeon in Wow’s Wrath of the Lich King.

I tied both of the re-inhabitations together using one of the meta plots for my hexmap. Namely the rise of the Temple of Elemental Evil that so far my players seem unconcerned by.

Since then it had been cleared twice and may soon be restocked again.

Here is my write up:

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Bucket Lists and Diet Update.

This week I weigh 13st 6lbs I have lost a total of 22 lbs. If I continue at this pace I should have lost a total of 2 stone by the end of next week.

One of the most common bits of advice I am finding as I read books about motivation and getting things done, is that the hardest part of doing something is to start it.

A common piece of advice to help overcome that is to tell people you are going to do it, or even just to write it down (like in my post about Dreamlining) especially if you then work out a next step towards making it happen and then do it.

Inspired by Chris Whiteheads30 Things to do before I am 30 List” Here is my Bucket list. (these are things I want to do but are not in the 6-12 month window of my Dreamlines. Mostly, some are on both lists)

I have also tried to make them SMART goals to make me more likely to do them.

Go back to Gen Con US in 2013
Start my Own Business
Go to Pax in 2013
Learn to sail
Sail to (a place) in 2013
Fire a Handgun
Write a RPG Supplement
Run a Marathon
Own a House
Get Laser Eye Surgery
Become fluent in a Foreign Language
Get a Black Belt in a Martial Art
Go to Crete in 2013
Learn to Dance
Earn/do enough that a man wouldn’t be an indulgence.

This post also has some great tips on crossing things off a bucket list.

What is on yours?

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

City Adventures

This evening in my This is Thracia D&d Game my players have decided to once again visit the Big City; Constantinople. .

Once again I have turned to used Zak’s Vornheim book to run the session. Much like I did the first time. I have also used These series of Articles from Monsters and Manuals to make the sessions more interesting.

I started much like it suggests in the article i made up a list of NPC’s in the city. I gave them all a hook and motivation with the help of Andrea. Then I used it like a table to give each player someone they knew in the city.

Then I used a blank hex map to stick them all on a relationship map. If they ended up adjacent they knew each other. Then the session was as simple as letting the players interact with the people in the city. Each one acting as a hex would in a more traditional Hex Crawl but likely to ask for something in return for whatever the players want from them. Moving the players further out along the hex map and into more trouble.

In the course of one session the players met a Spymaster, agreed to help him rescue an informant from her pimp. Decided not to go and mess with The Wyvern of the Well, They went to watch races in the Hippodrome, Threatened a guy that was playing off one of the players reputations, Interrogated a Scholar and tried to break into a library.

This evening I am hoping for things at least as interesting.

Also here is a copy of my current big list of NPC’s covering both Canakkale (the players hometown) and Constantinople.

Players in This is Thracia should stay out.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

A Plan and Diet Update

This week I weigh 13st 10lbs my weight has been staying constant so if my inches haven't changed considerably by next week I will have a hard look at the diet to make sure I am sticking to it.

When I became the head of the Scouts Guild in the Lorien Trust Live roleplaying system, I said to myself and my team that everyone who comes into our guild goes away better, whether it was their stats in the system or real applicable skills. Now I am wondering if that can be applied to the real world as well? (or at least the gaming section of it) What would you like to do that you can’t do now? How can i help you do it?

This blog is one of the ways I want to do it.

Better is a very subjective term, which was deliberate when we applied it to Live Roleplaying. If I want it to work in the real world I think it will need a better definition. So the first thing I am going to work on is defining my goals of “Better” into something measurable.

I got better by defining my Dreamlines and starting to work towards them.

I am Beating Depression by making changes to what I do that have measurable effects.

If I can do these things then I can help other people do the same or similar things.

Chloe who i interviewed about Becoming a Photographer recently posted a one year on summary. In the next 12 months I intend to have achieved as much (but about making gamers greater rather than photography).

I also want to help make Game Shops better, through my work at Esdevium and through helping them directly, because Games Shops make more gamers and are a great way to talk to lots of gamers at once. This also need some slightly better definition.

This post  at The art of Nonconformity along with several other bits and pieces have informed these ideas. The Questions in The Tower really resonated with me:

What are you going to make today?
Who are you going to help today?

That is what I want to answer next.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Martial arts and an awesome weekend.

I spent this weekend at a live roleplaying event in Stoke. Very kindly the Gryphons faction wrote an event about my character's background. After a weekend of fighting ninja and hanging out with my friends the fights and the physical challenges offered by the site has got me thinking about martial arts and my physical capabilities.

I started Martial arts after watching a Shaolin Monk show. I began my training at Ancestral Mountains Kung Fu training with Matt Williams who has since gone on to teach Eagle Claw Kung Fu.

In 2007 after attending a Miao Doa (Grain Leaf Sabre) Seminar by Mike Martello (who has sadly since passed away.) K8 and I got the opportunity to go to China to spend a month learning Tai Chi and Ba Gua. We got to go thanks to the generosity of our friends and we chronicled our experiences in a blog here (I later co opted the blog to chat about Gaming).

K8’s Background in martial arts comes from Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. We found a local school and trained with them for a short while.

Recently we have come back to martial arts and are currently training Tai Chi with Cherry from Surrey and Hants Tai chi.

Kung Fu and Martial arts were the first thing that made me realise that I was capable of more than I expected of myself. After three years of Kung Fu I could do things that I never thought I would be capable of. Both from an agility and from a fighting standpoint.

To help myself get back to the level of capability I had I am going to set some goals. Each largley inspired by someone I have trained with or fought alongside at a larp event.

Tom is a guy from Live Roleplaying and a Bronze medalist with a Katana. He is one of the peopel I want to beat on my way to being the best larp sword fighter.

Calum is a guy I used to train Kung Fu with he has gone on to make a living doing and teaching Parkour. His Jumping and Backflips are something I want to be able to do.

I mentioned Mike above and His fluidity of movement and grace as well as the focus he had whenever he held a weapon is something I want to emulate.

Who inspires you to improve what you can do?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Running and Diet update

This week I weigh 13st 9lbs, having lost 19 lbs. I am hoping to lose another pound before the weekend to put me at the 20lbs lost milestone before I go to the Gryphons Live Roleplaying Event .

Yesterday evening K8 and I completed the first run in a 0-5K running plan, barefoot. In preparation for the arrival of my Vibram five finger shoes.

The plan is to take part in the 10K version of this The Majors Challenge  in the midlands in october. That gives me 15 weeks to prep.

I am going to use 8 weeks to get up to running 5k using a couch to 5k plan and app. While using the injury proofing chapter from 4 hour body as pre hab for running. Then use the chapter about endurance running in 4 hour body  to take K8 and I up to the 10K.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Beating Depression

At the start of this year I was diagnosed with mild depression. It took me a long time to even think that I might be depressed.   Like many people I originally thought depressed meant being sad all the time. It does not. My depression manifested as a lack of motivation and desire to do things. An overwhelming feeling of ‘Meh’ that could make it hard to get up in a morning.

After I realised what was going on in my head I looked for ways to fix it. I visited my doctor and talked to several of my mates who had or are suffering from a similar thing. Talking about it helped a lot and thanks to them I agreed to investigate Therapy.

Having spoken to my doctor I arranged a consultation with Talk Plus. They had no places available for more traditional chatting to a psychologist so I signed up for CBT. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

CBT is built around the idea that Behavior, Thoughts and Feelings are all interlinked and changing one can influence the others.

Without knowing it about a week before my first appointment I had already begun the behavioral part of CBT.   I had put together a list of my Dreamlines and started making changes to achieve them. Starting my diet and the fact that I was making deliberate, positive changes to the way I did things was also reinforcing the behavioral side of it.

Therefore they asked me to start with the cognitive side of things. The first exercise was deceptively simple; every time I thought of something that made me feel upset in some way I had to write down the thought and the feeling and try to rate its severity.

The 2nd part of the assignment was to take the thought and weigh up whether or not it was true.  Note down evidence for or against it and then use that evidence to re-frame the thought into something more useful or true. That week I had also read this post from Tim Ferris about words you shouldn’t use as they are poor shortcuts to proper thinking.

It was a simple exercise about changing or paying attention to the way you think.

Altogether the therapy, addressing the issues that were causing my depression and the support of my friends and family have allowed me to overcome it. I can't say it is beaten because it doesn't go away you just learn how to deal with it, but I am beating it. 

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Diet update and Rumour Tables

This week I weigh 13 st 10lbs again. However My total inches are 147.5 which is a decrease of 4.5” since I last measured. I have also been tracking my BMI which is going down, but the scales I am using are not reliable enough, so I am going to find other ways to measure it.

One of the tools I use to encourage a player led game in This is Thracia (my D&D Next Playtest campaign) is the rumour tables.

When a player makes a new Character and then each month of real world time they get a rumour. If they have an appropriate Theme, Skill, Background or good excuse I will give them another.

Each ties into either a location on the game map, something that happened in play or one of the NPC’s in town.

Here are the first twelve Rumours on my table as an example (and a bonus to anyone playing This is Thracia)

1Douvan Stahl has found something at the “Dragon Burial Site” Whatever it is it scared away his guards.
2Passara was sleeping with Xavian
3Valthrun the sage will pay good cash for books about The Temple of Elemental Evil. Apparently the Churches want him to do more research for them
4The Clerics at the Church of Hades will pay for heretical relics associated with Death cults (and reward people for wiping out such cults)
5Bugbear brigands in the old dwarven mine east of town are working for spider monsters.
6Cryofang the White has woken from his slumber and has been seeing flying over the black wood.
7Bruno has been acting very strangely since he came back from being missing
8The Ruins of Troy hold many riches but great danger from the unquiet dead
9The Giant Pirate Grethan Greybead is looking for the people that killed his Goblin first mate he is offering a reward.
10Torendil is looking for a potion of stone to flesh to restore his sisters head.
11There was a rash of murders in The City last month
12Frances Gottlestotch (the tavern owner) is missing

Last week I picked up a copy of The 50 Fathoms explorers edition. It is a pirate themed Sandbox Campaign for Savage Worlds. One of the most interesting parts about it is that like Skyrim it is a completely open world but it has a overarching plot. the Idea being that your players can bump into bits of the meta plot as they explore and choose to pursue it or not.

I also ran Deadlands Hell on Earth last weekend. We played Infestations a dime novel written by Charles Ryan who I used to work and game with before he moved back to America. We used the pdf of the new Reloaded version of the setting.

Ant has started a spinoff campaign based on my Dnd Next Playtest called This is Rome. So now if you want to play and live near either Aldershot or Birmingham you can.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Serpent Skull Finale

Last Friday night I ran the final session of my over a year long Pathfinder Campaign.

We have been playing The Serpent Skull Adventure path, and it has been a epic ride.

The sessions have ranged in size from 4 to 11 players (counting guest stars) and the final party that made its way into the Sanctum of the serpent god was 10 characters strong.

Seeks the Path The Human Oracle of Battle (Kate)
Gliiesh The Mwangian Druid (Dan), His pet Giant Snake, and his Lillend Bard Cohort.
Antol The Halfling Arsonist Freedom Fighter (Alchemist) (Drew)
Alain The Human Cavalier (Ceri) and her Horse and Paladin Cohort.
Toker The Mercenary Fighter (Matt) and his Succubus Courtesan.
Garret The Human Fighter thief (Robin) and his Red-mantis assassin love interest.

By the end of the fight Alain’s horse was dead, and Toker had been reduced to -110 HP (but saved by Seeks casting breath of Life to revive him) however The Serpent God and his high priest were both dead. The Party dealt over 3000 HP of damage over the first 4 rounds and finally killed him by striking off it’s head with a vorpal axe.

The campaign has run since April last year and for most of the year it ran weekly. We had a brief hiatus to start playtest D&D Next but have now brought the campaign to a close.

Of the 6 books my favorite was The Vaults of Madness a series of mini dungeons in the larger ruined city described in The City of Seven Spears unfortunately these vaults were infested with paranoia causing supernatural spores which soon infected the party. Who almost immediately turned on each other. Order was only restored when toker the only unaffected member of the party made a deal with a Succubus who Charmed each of his massively paranoid companions into trusting him. Making him de facto leader while they attempted to find a cure and explore the vaults.  

Unfortunately this same adventure led to almost the entire party getting killed. Rather than scrapping the campaign and inspired by one of these articles from Chris Perkins. I had the party captured by Serpent folk who imprisoned them in their fortress city deep beneath the earth. Which had the added advantage of letting me modify the adventure to make it more to do with my players rather than some of the NPC’s.

Another Idea I took from Chris’ articles was keeping a running session guide for the campaign. (some sessions got more of a write up than others). Each week before the game I emailed it to the players and at the start of each session I did a short “Previously on Serpent Skull” scene to remind them of things that would be important in the session.

I can view my session updates and player notes here.