Wednesday, 25 March 2009

[Actual Play] Getting my wife to play role-playing games.

I couple of years ago, after much convincing and demonstration, I got my wife Jenny to play in one of my role-playing games. She had expressed her displeasure about role-playing games before but on seeing that my friends from my hobby were more reliable and were ‘better’ friends than other acquaintances I have she relented. I did write this report at the time but didn’t post it anywhere as I didn’t have my blog up and running at the time.
Unfortunately the group at the time finished due to illness so that was the last session. When I restarted the campaign with a new group, Jenny was a little bit reluctant to join in from the start but for the last session she has now rejoined.


From September 2007

I had planned that HeroQuest session at the time, to take place with my home group, to be a skirmish-type game based on the Battle Of Dwarf Ford. However, my wife Jenny expressed an interest in taking part, something she had normally refused to do in the past. On the few occasions I had asked her to play or even if she was interested in learning what it was all about, she had said no. I hadn’t really pushed the issue; she had come with me to a few RPG conventions but looked on them as a trip away rather than joining in with the hobby itself. I had a smaller group for this session so Jenny did feel a little more comfortable with that for her first time. Jenny joined the other two players, my brother Russell and our friend Mick, people that she knew very well.



I spoke with her about what kind of character she wanted. She didn’t want anything from any of the HQ books as she hadn’t read up on them and thought that she would be at a disadvantage. She preferred just to come up with the name of her character and make the rest up as the game went along.
The as-you-go-method, perfect!

Her character was ‘Tristina the Mystic’, a woman with ‘hidden powers’. I quickly cobbled together a ‘Mystic’ keyword for her and allotted her thirty points to spend on nine more abilities, skills, followers, or items.

So instead of the skirmish scenario I had planned for the session I decided to go with a less-martial episode instead. I had the player characters escorting one of the Earth-priestesses to an inter-tribal Spring Festival that included a scared ceremony to awaken Voria and end the winter. Each of the local tribes put forth a candidate to participate in several contests to win the honour of becoming the ‘Maiden of the Flowers’ and hopefully successfully conclude the ceremony and end the icy grip of winter for another year. As this was going to be a big meeting with a festival atmosphere it was also hoped that the heroes could pin down some of the tribal leaders and get them to commit to help with the up coming battle with the Lunars.

They travelled to the site in the Colymar lands without any problems, picking up a fellow traveller, Thargan who helped them learn the finer points of Colymar treachery. Jenny seemed fine talking to this character played by me as her character, though she did talk in the third person. It was at her invitation that Thargan joined them on the journey though it was the other players that pointed out that he might not be trustworthy so to keep a watch on him.

They arrived without incident at the site of the ceremony, a large meadow located on a small hill near Apple Lane. They set up camp in the last available spot, next to the Balmyr tribe and the Colymar tribe. The other local tribes’ camps where situated around the edge of the meadow, only the contestants were allowed to set foot on the meadow during the festival. What shocked the heroes were the presence of not only the Telmori, the wolf runners but also a small delegation of Lunars! They had a small enclosure, heavily guarded, next to the Colymari camp. The Colymar and the Lunars had made a temporary peace treaty and as hosts to the festival had invited the Lunars to join in. This had obviously caused some resentment within the other visiting tribes, so much so that some of the northern tribes were noted for their absence. Those that did attend cast dark looks towards the Lunar camp; the mood was ugly.

However the festival was started by a small blessing ceremony by the Colymari hosts. Once this ‘Time of the Blessing’ commenced no blood could be spilt on the ground. Everyone at the festival was bound by this blessing while at the sacred site. If any blood was to fall upon the earth then not only would the spring ceremony fail but everybody’s’ land would stay in the icy grip of winter.

The following day each of the contestants was presented to the ensemble, each of the tribes had one ‘champion’ each. Though the heroes had escorted the Ilmori’s contender, Tristina also decided to enter the contest to be ‘Maiden of the Flowers’. Jenny didn’t need asking if she could enter her character in the contest, she just thought it would be a good thing to do.

The local champion of the Colymari, and the one tipped to win the contest, was Apple Blossom. The other major contenders were Snow Drop from the Malani Tribe, Wolf Thistle from the Telmori, Sunflower from the Alda-Churi, Wild Thorn of the Culbrea, Dark Flower of the Torkani, Wind Bloom from the Balmyr, and Blue Bell from the PCs clan, the Ilmori. To keep the ‘flower’ theme going in the names Tristina went with the name Mystic Rose.

Of course things turned bad when the Lunars showed up and camped on the site as well - apparently at the invitation of the Colymari hosts [remember that this is set in 1565, way before the lunar invasion of Sartar]. They also put in a contender, called Moon Orchid, into the competition.
Now Jenny was aware that the Lunars are the 'bad guys' of the campaign and also that one of the reasons of the trip down to the festival was to get help for the battle against the Lunars. She was a little bit shocked that they had turned up and was also beginning to be a bit wary of the Colymari.

The rest of the game dealt with the three days of contests, one contest per day. The first contest is singing, the second dance and the third is beauty. One of the other player characters, Russell's Edgewed, was chosen to be one of the judges so he was fairly busy and Mick's character Stefan, was looking into the plots and schemes of the Colymar, the Lunars and the rest of the tribes.

In the end the contest had three main contenders at the end: Mystic Rose, Blue Bell and Sunflower. Apple Blossom and Moon Orchid were cast out of the competition due to cheating as uncovered by the PCs.

Jenny decided to help Blue Bell, who was from her own tribe, instead of taking the crown for herself. That meant the final ceremony went very well and spring returned with a vengeance. Voria appeared and blessed the lands of the Ilmori and the other tribes that still had contestants in the contest.
Also the PCs were able to get many of the tribes on their side after meeting the leaders in a secret summit so the session ended well.




Jenny did seem to play well though did need some prompting to contribute to the story. She later told me she wasn't sure whether she could interrupt me or the others while they were talking. She was happy to play her role and was content to take part in the decision-making parts of the story.

With the change of the campaign and the restart of it she wasn't confident in joining the game. But now I have my kid sister, Amy join in on the new campaign my wife Jenny has also joined in the game again. 

Friday, 20 March 2009

Midweek Character - Maroof Levelhead

This is another of the players characters from the game from Convulsion 2002. Again this is one that was based in the village of Hellbreak while many of the other PCs were from a feuding clan.
While quite marshall this character had his duty to his clan and had to help the other PCs even though they were considered the enemy.
This character was very ably played by Dr Moose. He did so well we invited him to be a regular in our group.

Maroof Levelhead with his Spear of Destiny and Brightshield. © Darran Sims

Maroof Levelhead's Story

“The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child.”

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the sky, and the truth.”

Weaponthane and ‘Protector of Hellbreak’, Maroof Levelhead is staunch and resolute in his duties including the maintenance and construction of the high watchtower and fortifications.

Maroof knows the local area, organising the tula patrols and leads the elite Sun-Fire Squad; drilling them in defensive tactics, horsemanship and riding.

When he was younger Maroof was not obligated to home; he wandered Dragon Pass like Elmal and met the DeathLords, the Stonemen and the Wild-Twins. He outmanoeuvred the Sun-Domers and cunningly overcomes the Redcloaks.

Bearer of Spear of Destiny and Brightshield, he is awe-inspiring in any conflict especially skirmishes and shieldwall fighting.

100 words



Heortling 13

Weaponthane 5M

Elmal Devotee 1M



Duty-Bound 14M

Obligated to Home 1M

Not Young Anymore 19

Wanderer 18



Awe-Inspiring 19

Cunning 14

Levelheaded 5M

Resolute 17

Staunch 17




BLOODLINE [Solni] 18

CLAN [Hruling] 13

CHIEF [Eldon] 13

Elmal Temple 5M

Protector of Community 1M

DeathLords [Contact] 19

Stonemen [Contact] 2M

Wild-Twins [Contact] 1M

Sun-Fire Squad 14M

Redcloaks [Adversary] 2M

Sun-Domers [Adversary] 2M




Dazzling Flash, Illuminate Surroundings, Resist Darkness, See in Darkness, Unquenchable Light.


Defend Wall, Endure Wound, Hold Breach, Reflective Shield, Stand Fast.

SUN 19

Blazing Spear, Brilliant Shield, Clear Clouds, Comforting Glow, Unfaltering Defence.



1H Spear/Shield Fighting 10M

Bearer of Mighty Weapons 1M

Construct Fortifications 1M

Defend Tula 5M

Drill Elite 5M

Horsemanship 2M

Inspiring In Any Conflict 19

Knows Dragon Pass 17

Knows Local Area 17

Lead Sun-Fire Squad 14M

Maintain Defensive Fortifications 1M

Organise Patrols 5M

Outmanoeuvre 19

Overcome Enemy 2M

Ride Horse 6M

Shieldwall Fighting 5M

Skirmish Tactics 1M

Use Watchtower 19


Special Abilities

Spear of Destiny 3M

Brightshield 1M


Monday, 16 March 2009

Watchmen - Do Not Believe the Hype!

So I succumbed to the hype and went to see Watchmen at the local Cinema De Lux. Now I don't really know much about comic book super heroes apart from what I have seen in films.

Now I did enjoy the spectacle of the film with the special effects and the action packed set pieces. Some of the visuals were stunning but it seems more style over substance.
The length of the film wasn't too bad either as it didn't drag too much.
A nice roller-coaster ride but much of the story didn't make sense.

The story was distracting though with it jumping time frame and character far too much and didn't seem to gel together at all too well. The main story about the 'mystery' of who killed the old superhero did not have the driving force of the film much and the violence by the main antagonist seem to blur it even more. The old superhero was also revealed to be a bit of a bastard in flashbacks that didn't endear any sympathy at all over his death.
The film was also disjointed by the main character being far too powerful while the others didn't have their superpowers explained at all. A wave of his hands and everything would have been all right. It just seemed flat. The whole 'he's distracted' or 'his lack of humanity' part of the story seemed a forced plot convenience.

The batman character was a little too earnest and angst ridden without any pay back. He almost was a pale shadow compared to the recent Batman films.

The main villain's reveal seemed far too late in the film to have impact and was a bit of an anti-climax. You got an idea of who the main villain was during the opening attack of the old superhero. The only good thing was the demise of the antagonist at the end yet that did seem badly timed.
Also there seemed too close a parallel in the destruction of New York and the 11th September twin towers that jarred you out of the fantasy.

The real sin of course was not playing up the villainy of Nixon and Kissinger, the partners in power, but I guess that would be subject of a different film.

Also judging by the trailers before the film there are even more superhero films on the way with some of the characters from X-Men each getting their own film.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Sunday Scimitar - 03

So here is another scimitar- this one is more of the Arabian Nights or Sinbad style one.
This is one of my favourites!


Saturday, 14 March 2009

Contributions sought for Furnace 2009 Con Book?

 Furnace 2009. The Garrison Hotel, Sheffield. UK 
Saturday 10th - Sunday 11th October 2009. 

Furance is a small two day convention for 70 attendees held in a former gaolhouse of Hillsborough Barracks in Sheffield, UK. 
Call of Cthulhu, HeroQuest, RuneQuest, Savage Worlds, and plenty of other game systems will be played at this convention. 

A colour Convention Book will be produced and given free to all attendees on arrival. 
As well as information on the convention, venue and games programmes there will be articles on gaming and role-playing. 

The Furnace 2006 Con Book contained articles on convention GMing by Evilgaz, an introduction to Gwenthia by Tom Zunder, a Gloranthian HeroQuest scenario by Newt, 'Hunting the Marsh haggis' by Jane Williams, Serenity:HeroQuest by Darran Sims, a Kallyr story by Jane Williams, an intro to 'Red Star' for Evilgaz's game, along with information about the games, the venue and the favoured charity, Wateraid. 

The Furnace 2007 Con Book contained articles on convention playing by Evilgaz, Aggar Homeland for Glorantha HeroQuest By David Millians, Tal’Vorn a Game World for D&D By Joshua Binks, The Shattered Lands a RuneQuest Setting By Newt Newport, A Gloranthan Story By Jane Williams, ‘Love, Honour & Obey’ a DitV Scenario By Ric Baines, UK Roleplayers - a Brief History By Dave McAlister, Nemesis Madness Meters in Call of Cthulhu By Dom Mooney, Mob Justice Introduction By Iain McAllister, Game Design 101 By Iain McAllister, Kadvalla - A Saintly Order for Mythic Russia By Mark Galeotti, ‘Dragonewts!’ by Darran Sims. 

The Furnace 2008 Con Book had articles on Glorantha in a Nutshell by Jane Williams with art by Terry Whisenant, A Lunar Marriage by Newt Newport with art by Darran Sims, 'Uphold the Yellow Standard' by Newt Newport with art by Darran Sims, ‘Playing Cards’ A Story by Jane Williams with art by Mokkurkalfe, ‘The Everyday Ordeal’ A Jason Calwell Story by Graham Robinson, Monkey in a Nutshell by Newt Newport, UK Role Players Forum by Dave Mcalister with art by Jonny Gray, and a controversial HeroQuest 2.0 Review by Newt Newport. The front cover was by professional fantasy artist Jon Hodgson. 

We are looking for contributions for this year's Convention Book, whether it is artwork, maps, articles, non-player characters, scenarios, encounters, gaming or GMing advice, settings, stories or anything else you can think of. 

We can not pay you but all contributors will receive the heartfelt thanks from the Furnace Committee, the joy of seeing their work in print and a free copy of the Con Book. 

All copyright of any material we use in the book remains the authors or artists, so you can use it again elsewhere. 

As for word count anything from 1000 to 4000 words. A scenario could be a little more at 6000 maximum. 

Formats should be M$ Word 2004 [or lower] or Rich Text Format. If I can copy and paste from PDFs though so they are okay too. 

If you have any accompanying artwork I can include that as well or do my own for your article. Artwork can be in colour as the Con Book will be printed in full colour [that will be good for maps!].

The deadline for the Furnace 2008 Con Book is Monday 28th September 2009

If you can send all submissions to darransims AT googlemail DOT com

Thank you for your time.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Midweek Character - The Tarsh Twins

Here are the Tarsh Twins, some NPCs that appear in my 'Dark Heart of the Dragon Lands' scenario. They are annoying to the PCs though they may prove useful in passing messages.
They do bear a resemblance to some advertising icons though that is by shear coincidence, honest!


The Tarsh Twins' Story

"It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness."

The Tarsh Twins have always been inseparable; whatever they do they must do it together. They look so alike with their Tarshite style black moustaches and their long, shaggy, black hair. When one speaks up the other.. .. finishes the sentence. Both are long-legged and fast runners with strong fortitude and everlasting stamina. They can endure any weather to trek over vale and dale and trudge any trail always side-by-side.

They are a little imperceptive with people especially when it deals with clandestine shenanigans but when they have made that intuitive leap they shout in concert, “We've got your number!”

100 words





Mastakos Devotees



Inseparable Twins

Useless With Clandestine Shenanigans


Intuitive Leap







Black Moustaches

Endure Weather

Everlasting Stamina



Long Shaggy Black Hair

Look Alike

Must Do It Together

One Speaks Up

Other Finishes


Strong Fortitude

Trek Over Vale and Dale

Trudge Trail

“We’ve Got Your Number!”

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Sunday Scimitar - 02

So here is another Scimitar.


Sunday Scimitar - 01

So every Sunday I'll post up a drawing of a scimitar that I have drawn.

I must have drawn over 100 different scimitars [though a few are similar]. They were used as white space filler in a few HeroQuest supplements.


Wednesday, 4 March 2009

New technology - Bronze!

This is just fantastic!

Midweek Character - Darran Sims

So I have now stated myself as a HeroQuest character.
It's an interesting exercise to do and I do think I have captured myself well [though you'll have to judge that for yourself!]

Dr Who

Darran Sims' Story

"A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an Emergency on my part"

Darran is a devoted husband, Grandfather of seven, Artist, Cartographer, and keen HeroQuest narrator. As a RPG Convention List Compiler he attends six conventions per year across Europe. His work as an Entertainment Venue Manager means he gets to meet the equally famous and obscure of Britain’s popular culture. Darran has a small mischievous streak [that is a mile deep!] and often boarders on pure schadenfreude. With a penchant for drawing weapons he is certainly not a man to cross.
Darran prevaricates too much while reading posts and threads and not enough time posting his wisdom as a Games Master.

100 words.


Entertainment Venue Manager 5M

Artist 1M

HeroQuest Narrator/Game Master 1M


Bordering Schadenfreude 13

Prevaricates 1M

Small Mischievous Streak 17


Devoted 1M

Keen 5M

Not to be Crossed 15

Wise 17


Devoted Husband 5M

Loves European RPG Conventions 1M

Grandfather of Seven 5M

To Britain's Popular Culture 17


Attend RPG Convention 17

Draw 1M

Cartography 17

Compile RPG Convention List 17

Meets the Famous and Obscure 5M

Mile Deep Mischief 15

Not Enough Time 17

Penchant for Weapons 15

Posts Game Master Wisdom 17

Reads Posts 1M