Friday, 28 September 2012


This evening I begin driving to scotland for my first Holiday since K8 and I went to train in China.

I weigh 13st 7lbs and intend to stick to my Diet even while on Holiday. (The only real concession being moving binge day to Sunday as we are spending Saturday Driving there.)

We are staying in a cottage in the middle of Loch Lamond and the Trossachs National Park to finish Gav's Dnd Game. We have been playing the campaign for the better part of 2 years now. We plan to visit several of the places we have been in the campaign while we are on holiday, Including Stirling and Loch Ness.

Needless to say no posts next week but expect a cool things I saw in Scotland post once we are back. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Lyrium Dreams and Diet update

This week I weigh 13st 7lbs. I have stayed pretty stable since my binge day this week largely due to conceding 2 forfeit points to Ant  both points were due to Devouring Birthday cake. The first was a banana bread I baked for John’s Birthday which we celebrated on tuesday at out 13th Age  Game and then Thursday cake was brought into work for someones Birthday which tempted me once more.

Friday we have the 2nd session of Lyrium Dreams a Savage Worlds Game that Dan is running as I have stated learning Chen Tai Chi again on a friday from 7 until 8. Dan has also just started the Rise of the Runelords Campaign in pathfinder for his Monday night Game so wanted a prep light game. Given the ease of the Savage worlds system he decided to go with a collaborative freeform style of Game and Setting Generation.

This was his Zen like pitch:

In a Taoist style my pitch is no pitch... allow me to explain-

I suggest Savage Worlds - based on a theme document (borrowed from "Mortal Coil") and relationship map (borrowed from "Smallville").  Other than the system the game is a completely blank slate -- we'll play whatever setting and style we decide as a group (though Savage Worlds supported action more than introspection).  If you want to play modern gritty noir horror - fine, High fantasy - sure, east-end gangsters vs the russian mafia - ok, space pirate and anthropomorphic animal ninja - why not! as long as there's group consensus - and we're all on the same page.  We will need to agree on a strong central premise and several points of conflict (otherwise there'll be no stories)

Because of how open this will be, much of the narrative control will be in the hands of the players, and I'll also be GMing in a light-touch improv style (I expect the players to contribute heavily to the setting and to the story - especially if it's something completely out-there for which I have no terms of reference - you'll have to explain how a steam-powered mech armour works and what a the view is like from a hover skiff on the ice lakes of Pluto).

The game will run more smoothly if you bear the following hints in mind...:

Short guide to Improv at the RPG table-

Don't try to be too clever -- If your character goes into a bar for the first time, they should probably order a drink, they probably wouldn't do a backflip over the bar and shoot the pianist. If you do this kind of thing, you risk spoiling the narrative by doing things for which the other players can't see the justification. Characters should act in character and do what's natural for them to do. You'll find that acting naturally helps the game along much better because the other players will come to know what to expect from your character.  It's easier for the other players to build on your ideas if they fit the expectation of the characters and setting.

Don't block-- This follows on from the first technique. You won't be able to understand what the other characters are like if you try to block everything they do. So if a character proposes going into a bar, you probably shouldn't say “It's closed” or “I don't go in bars”. It's fine to say, “Well, I wouldn't usually, but just this once”. In fact this is very good because this reveals something about your character as well as encouraging the other player's development of the game.

Reincorporate -- Build on what's already happened. If an NPC is mentioned by name in an early scene, bring them back later on. If a detail is mentioned, make it appear in a later scene under a different light, make it more or less important than it was. The reason behind reincorporation is because it reinforces the narrative by drawing attention to the salient points.

Amended from Steve Dempsey's "Improvising with GUMSHOE "
For a much more detailed examination of Improv in RPGs I recommend Graham Walmsley's "Play Unsafe"  (There is also a 20% Voucher on all orders from Lulu available until the 7th Sept.  Code: CITHARA20)

And the setting we ended up with was:

Tone: Swashbucklery

Setting: Spelljammer, High Fantasy in Space!

Situation: Sailing around on a lost tech ship, doing scoundrel type things.

Other key phrases include, 50 fathoms in space and both Farscape and Firefly.

Living Dungeon Asteroides (stolen from 13th age) full of Lyrium (Stolen from Dragon Age) (the element that makes magic happen) flying towards populated worlds, we go in and kill the dungeon before it can hit the worlds.

Everyone brings at least one person or thing to the relationship map
things that will turn up on the relationship map are:
The owner of our awesome lost tech ship
Whoever is shooting the asteroids at us
Some sort of evil space Empire possibly made up of monsters
a “Foil” who might or might not be on our side each adventure (this ended up being the dragonborn Tiamat (Female) and Bahumat (Male) see relationship map for more info.

and this was our Relationship Diagram:

Here is a link to our player doc for it:

The 2nd session is Tomorrow evening and it looks like it is going to be great.

What are you playing this weekend?

Friday, 14 September 2012

Diet Recap

This week I weigh 13 stone and 6lbs (on Tuesday it was 13st, 5lbs but Bacon was, as ever, my undoing).

I am thoroughly back on Track with my diet now and wanted to recap the method and tricks I am using for it, as well as my exercise plans.

The very short version of my diet is simple. I follow 5 rules.

1. No White Carbs.
A fairly straightforward diet rule. Make sure you eat bigger portions if you drop carbs as you need to keep your calorie intake up.

2. Eat the Same Few Meals.
I can eat lean meat, veg and legumes (beans). For breakfast I tend to have 2 scrambled eggs, and lunches and dinners tend to be chosen from the following.
steak and veg or beans. (Interestingly I always lose weight the day after a steak dinner)
chili (With veg and beans in it, made from lean mince and flavoured with a fajita mix)
chicken wrapped in bacon (with the fat cut off) with beans and veg.
For Snacks I have been eating nuts.

3. Don’t Drink Calories
Instead I drink a lot of water, at least 4 liters per day. No drinks with sugar, no milk, even diet drinks are limited to one per day.

4. No Fruit.
Except for tomatoes and avocados (I thought both of them were veg and don’t like them so it has been no problem for me).

5. Take One Day off a Week.
I have Saturdays as a binge day. You are encouraged to gorge yourself until you can’t eat anymore. So far this has been my favorite part of the diet and any weight I gain from the binge I have always lost by the following Wednesday at the latest. On my day off I have been eating everything I have wanted to eat during the week but couldn’t. I also make sure I do a short set of exercise immediately before any large meals on binge day.

In addition to the 5 rules above I also use a whole bunch of simple little tricks taken from

Tonight I am taking 8 people to our Tai Chi Class which is starting again after our instructor has just got back from training in China. then we have a weekend of Gaming and BBQing planned.

what are you up to this weekend?

Monday, 10 September 2012

Legend of the Hungry Phoenix my 13th Age setting

This Sunday I ran another session of 13th age set in my homebrewed Legend of the Hungry Phoenix campaign setting. Taking my lead from this post by Rob Donahgue I added the Icons to my existing world and then let the payers relationships start to shape the setting and Games.

I based the start of the adventure On an Idea for Not starting in the Tavern by the Weem, with the players being trapped in a town being invaded by Goblins. Then I had a diabolist steal the towns Watchtower full of innocents. (Based on a game Rob Heinsoo ran for us when he visited the UK)

So to the campaign pitch:

This Age is a young Age. 120 years ago the Divine War began.

Some 21 years ago the gods went silent and the Divine War was declared over. And with it the 12th age of the Empire.
(divine magic still works but the god’s no longer walk among the people and do not answer high end divination)
Before the Silence, the god of Civilisation laid down a system of government (Like Confucianism in China) Modelled on the organisation of Heaven.

This method of Government was adopted by the Dragon empire, supported by the Dragons who had been the elite soldiers of the Divine war. They formed The Empire and almost immediately began a massive system of expansion.

Dragons are treated as the divine inheritors of the Mortal world live across the known world claiming dominion over stretches of land and demanding tithe from those who live there.

Ioun The God of Prophecy was slain in the war. Leaving a group of peoples wanting freedom from the tyranny of divinity. At the same Time Shaolin Temple opened it doors to followers of all faiths and the Mountain became known as the Cathedral peak. This sudden change of temperament is due to the new leader of Shaolin a Woman known only as the Priestess.

Some of the Priests of the Dead God of prophecy (Ioun) Have gone on to form a secret society, separate even from the Wulin, it is said their leader Vacna (Who lost his hand and eye during the divine war) Has a sinister and terrifying plan.

At the same time the empire is expanding and enforcing the tenants of Civilistion, a Wulin style shadow world has formed amongst the Warlords and free people on the fringes of Society. Made up of Gang’s, Martial societies and Adventurer’s guilds this world is likely to be the focus of alot of play. (think Crouching Tiger and Heaven Sword Dragon Sabre). It is said that the dragon emperor led one of these societies during the Divine War. These societies have been thrown into turmoil by The Priestess of Shaolin Temple’s recent decree that the other forms of martials arts are an affront to the gods and must be stopped.

The Empire is in the process of warring with another Nation, Beal’Turath, that compacted itself to The Diabolist and are turning into Tieflings. (This happened during the Divine War)

Meanwhile in parts for the wilderness the bodies of the dead primordials lay where they fell during the Divine War. Spawning more monsters from their hideous blood and possibly being used for sinister things. Living Dungeons emerge from the Lands below.

The Great Golden Wyrm used his body to stem the tide of chaos and seal off the Abyss contributing to the end of the Divine War.

The other Icons who have a strong but so far undefined influence upon the world are:

The Prince of shadows Rumored to be followed by several of the more villainous Wulin societies.

The Three have a strong following among the Dragons who claim lands on the fringes of the Empire and some sympathy in the imperial court.

The Orc Lord, Khan of the Steppes and the threat from the North.

The Dwarf Lord -

The High Druid -

The Elf Queen - The elves retreaded into solitude at the end of the Divine War. Few remain among the people of the Empire but the birth rate of Half Elves has been increasing.

The Crusader - Guards the north against the orcish hordes, some say he also strikes against hell pits and turns them into his fortresses.

I expect the Campaign to be about the things that players take an interest in. (as you have to have a relationship with  2-4 of the Icons those relationships will shape the game)

It will continue to be an open Table with 4-8 players per session. (It will be in addition to not instead of This is Thracia)

It will be a High action, Cinematic game driven by your characters Unique things and Icon relationships.

I’m looking forward to running more games of it.
What did you play this weekend?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Cool stuff again and Diet update

This week I Weigh 13st and 5lbs which is my joint lightest so far. I am planning to have a relatively light binge day this week and we have a weapons practice lined up for Sunday Morning.

We have been doing a lot of gaming this last week with 4 Sessions of This is Thracia (say it like you are kicking someone into a pit)  and another lined up for tomorrow evening. The players are currently hell bent on exploring a new dungeon they discovered that I put on to the map after it won a competition on the D&D Website. The map is here and I am busily filling it with Treasure and Monsters from a bunch of sources. I am also toying with the idea of trying to render it using Dwarven Forge but i suspect I would have to improvise too many pieces.

We Also played a session of Gavin Smith’s Epic Scotland themed D&D Game. We are now 19th level and explored an appropriately epic feeling Dungeon.

I also found two excellent reviews of 13th age on EN World. The Review is in two parts,  part 1 talks about the Character options and part 2 talks about the general rules and combat options in the book. Also on EN World this week my Favorite Story Hour (a story of someones game) has started updateing again. Sagiro’s Story Hour can be read on the boards or far more conveniently from StevenAC’s collected PDF’s. That story hour has provided countless inspirations for my own games.

At some point I am going to use this post from the creator of xkcd to make a fantasy world. It is a What if Scenario if our poles were 90 Degrees from where they are now.

Then finally I have booked for the upcoming Hearts of Albion Larp event and it looks like it is going to be awesome. It is rapidly getting to the point where there will have a hundred monsters and a hundred players making it one of the largest Sanctioned events recently. If you fancy coming along the booking page is here:

What have you been up to this week?

Monday, 3 September 2012

13th Age and D20 Hacks

I have been reading the playtest version of 13th age. It is written as a “love letter to Dnd” by excellent designers who each worked on different very good versions of the game. They also have a Kickstarter for the first expansion book.

On a whim I hacked the first D&D Next Setting I put together and made it into a 13th Age Game. I have run one session of I so far and have another (probably) this week.

The subtle but interesting changes they have made to the D20 standard model got me thinking about my favorite parts of various D20 versions.

I ran a Pathfinder Campaign for a little over a year. I really like the amount of options for players that are available in the game but at higher levels it seemed difficult to threaten them.

The House Rules I used for Pathfinder were:

Either Roll 5k3 7 times keeping the best 6 stats or use the following spread: 18, 16, 16, 14, 12, 10 (largely because I like good stats. I have gone the other way for Thracia for a more old school feel)

Use the best modifier for saves. Fort: Str or Con. Ref: Dex or Int Will: Wis or Cha ( I robbed this from 4th ed)

Max HP for the first three levels. (To make them a bit more durable)

Action Points
(These I stole from The Leverage RPG. However in play the distinctions didn’t come up very often, so they ended up feeling more like Bennies from Savage Worlds)

Each Character starts with 2 Distinctions, These should be short descriptive words or phrases that describe your character. You’ll get another one for each adventure (book) we complete.

When you choose to apply one of your distinctions to a roll you spend an AP and roll an additional D20, if the distinction is being applied in a beneficial way you choose the highest of the two rolls, if it is hindering you you gain an action point and choose the lowest of the two rolls.

You can spend an action point to:
  • re roll a Die or Dice (so a d20 or a damage roll)
  • Stabilise when you are in Negative HP
  • Use an use limited ability an extra time (eg throw another bomb, rage an additional time)
  • regain a cast spell or slot. (1 per three spell levels)
  • Negate the opportunity attack from performing a combat maneuver
  • Confirm an opponents Fumble

You earn Action points when:
  • You roll a 1 and I use it to cause a complication
  • an opponent gets a re roll or adds 4 to a roll
  • You apply one of your distinctions in a negative fashion

We also used the Critical Hit and fumble Decks from Paizo.

What House Rules and systems do you prefer to flavor your d20 based games with?