The Isle of Darksmoke

Once more our happy band of role-players descended on Burton-on-Trent’s amazing Town Hall for the 28th Beer & Pretzels gaming meet over the weekend of 20th – 21st May. Sadly, this year we were missing Andy “Dekh” James but he had an able deputy in the person of Paul “Campervan man” Howley who threw himself into the day’s activities with gusto. Indeed, we were so “pumped” that the roaming photographer from the Burton Mail insisted on taking a picture of us all at play and we appeared in the following Tuesday’s edition.

The TMG Kreww as we appeared in the Burton Mail Tuesday 27th May L to R Amy, Paul, Jason, Andy, Sid and Simon Apologies as it’s rather grainy

Sticking with our traditional set up, Saturday was devoted to Tunnels & Trolls with the evergreen Andy “Boozer” Holmes taking the lead as the Gamemaster while a band of mid-level characters braved the terrors on The Isle of Darksmoke.

Andy Holmes GM Extraordinaire

Unlike all previous years, when the GM on the day has guided us through an adventure of their own writing, this year’s dungeon was a slice of T&T history. Larry DiTillio’s adventure was published by Flying Buffalo in 1984 and was the last GM adventure they produced. DiTillio, as many of you may know, went on to write and direct on the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and was Executive Story Editor on the science fiction tv series Babylon 5.

A few of Andy’s splendid miniatures

Well, with that kind of fantasy writing CV, expectations were unsurprisingly high but we were not dissappointed. Aided by the vast array of the GM’s beautifully painted miniatures and dungeon floor plans, it was not long before our group of desperados could be seen wandering the village below the dome of the Wizard Darksmoke’s infernal dungeon. Having found a friendly and almost competent mage to get us to the entrance, we were soon running along dank corridors, exploring tomb-like halls and battling fiendish foes.

Crossing a pool of water on a rickety bridge – no danger there!

With various clues we had garnered before going underground we managed to avoid serious conflict. Of course, it did help that one of our number had a strigiformian (that’s an owl to you and me) familiar who just happened to be a 9th level wizard! Eventually, we dodged and we wove our way to encounters with a large dragon atop a vast pile of treasure; that’s right we tiptoed past like the heroes we are, and then the final fire fight with the dark priest Cataban at the altar of sacrifice.

A big dragon on a pile of treasure

That all the player characters survived to delve another day owed more, perhaps, to luck than our powerful alter egos. It does, of course, help that the GM’s teenage daughter was among our number and I’m sure he didn’t want to upset her with an unpleasant demise 🙂

As usual, T&T at Beer & Pretzels was a fun day with good friends and the best fantasy role-playing game there is. Andy Holmes is a very slick operator as a GM and he did his usual excellent job of entertaining us while we marched through Darksmoke’s realm. The only shame is that it will be another year before we get to do it again. 🙁

Bean! amongst the Clouds!

Burton on Trent Town Hall, Beer and Pretzels 20-21/5/17

On the second day of the 28th Beer and Pretzels gaming convention, in Burton on Trent’s fantastic town hall, on 21st May 2017 CE, the TMG crew assembled for a session of Bean! This is the charming and eminently playable D2 role-playing game designed by our American associate, Mr Jeff Freels. The day’s adventure was conducted by our own resident BeanMaster, Dr Sid Orpin, and was adapted from a Dungeon Crawl Classics scenario. It was called: The Doorway Amongst The Clouds.

 

Each of the participant ‘beans’ (represented in Lego) woke from troubled dreams, compelled to meet a mysterious ‘blue lady’ on a distant cliff-top. There the stoney-faced lady and her novel collection of talking heads fed us dubious sweetmeats and promised us a rewritten destiny, if we would but rescue her caged ally from her prison in the sky.

 

Forward, beans!

Nothing daunted, we stepped at dawn onto an invisible bridge and headed into the heavens, maintaining a good speed to outpace the unseen edge behind us that dissolved unnervingly. Predators on leathery wings assailed us, but sinking one with an arrow showed the others for the ruthless scavengers they were, as they plunged to feast on their fallen comrade.

The long march high over the sea led us at last to a meandering but thankfully solid and visible road in the clouds; yet one of our number tumbled at the road’s edge and fell to his doom! Our progress down the road brought us to the attention of some unwelcome giant spiders, and then to the enormous doorway of a vast hall. Within, a titanic guardian slept, and over his monstrous belly hung a woven cage. But as we beheld this strange scene, from the rocks and rubble leapt a nightmarish many-legged pumpkin creature that assailed us with lunatic ferocity. This, not without exertion, we threw back into the shadows.

 

Begone, foul pumpkin thing!

A bold bean, a humble clerk in daily life, exerted his Spirit and managed to fly to the cage; but its deranged denizen kicked him away, and, in a shocking display of ingratitude toward the indulgently somnolent titan who broke his fall, our bean scribbled disrespectful graffiti on its helpfully rotund abdomen.

Wiser beans, after defeating a band of wizened starvelings in the grip of some desperate command, undertook more conventional explorations, and thereby discovered a rickety and dangerous stair that led us to our goal: a passage at whose mouth the cage hung. Following several attempts, a descent was effected, and thus was the long-imprisoned (and surprisingly bat-winged) princess released, to whirl and screech once more! – And to kill the pumpkin thing in short order.

Dizziness and wiggly air left us once more on the cliff-top, where the mysterious lady, with her latest heads, thanked us for our aid, and then, with powerful magicks, spun the wheel of destiny and rewrote history for each of us!

 

Beansters at play

Bean! once again proved to be a system that allowed us to get stuck into our strange adventure with laughably little fuss, and Dr Sid’s dictatorship was, happily, as benign as ever.

Beer and Pretzels 2013!

Spirit Games Beer & Pretzels 2013 ticketMay 2013, and once again the magnificent Town Hall of Burton on Trent played host to the Beer & Pretzels Games Weekend, organised by Spirit Games. As ever, their splendid library of games was available:Games library

The Hall buzzed with diverse activity, largely conducted by gentlemen of a certain age:

Not only humans: dinosaurs were observed, and a number of robots with issues:
Robots!

What would Beer & Pretzels be without pretzels?

BEAN! There Done That! part 2

Part II : Manufactured Dice
Having tried my best to make my own two-sided dice for Bean! I happened across some 8-sided dice used in the game ‘Ubiquity’, which are basically D2s. Here they are :-

8-sided D2 from ‘Ubiquity’

Actually, it doesn’t matter what sort of dice or method you use to create your ‘beans’, it’s simply all about telling a story, role-playing with gusto and having lots of fun! That’s what the one and only D2 role-playing game is all about, FUN!

A ‘Casserole’ of Bean! Dice

BEAN! There Done That! part 1

BEAN! is that fabulous D2 role-playing game brought forth from the fertile and twisted imagination of our good friend Jeff Freels. Inspired by the thought that an avid gamer could  toss a few beans while at work instead of dice to keep the boss from noticing what they were up to, there is the challenge of finding the two-sided dice required. Using dried kidney beans with “0” and “1” written on opposite sides certainly fulfils the criteria but, in practice, they don’t roll terribly well. For Bean! adventures I have run at Beer & Pretzels, therefore, we have used ordinary D6s and adopted the “low – high” approach where 1,2,3 represent and 4,5,6 1.

I have, therefore, been on the lookout for alternatives and here is what I’ve come up with :-

I: Blank Dice
As luck would have it, you can buy blank six-sided dice in a variety of colours and then using a permanent marker put whatever marks on them that you like.

Blank D6 with ‘1’ and ‘0’ stencil markings

Alternative stencil of ‘1’ and ‘0’ on blank D6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, you don’t have to put boring old numbers on the blank canvas that is the D6 face. When producing your own homemade ‘beans’ anything you like could represent the ‘1’ and the ‘0’ needed for the game as long as you can draw something appealing.

Beanfolk face as “1”