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! 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”

The Greatest Bean of Them All

Anyone looking at the Tavernmaster Games website is likely to be aware that our great mate Jeff Freels has been waiting for a kidney transplant. What you may not know is that he has now had the surgery (he got a new pancreas as well!) and after a few scary moments, he is now out of hospital and starting out on the long road to full recovery. Jeff is a man of many parts: artist, cartoonist, writer, gamer, heck he even plays a pretty mean ukulele!

As well as providing cover and interior artwork for many a TMG project, his greatest contribution to gaming must surely be Bean! the D2 Role-Playing Game and its various supplements (World of Bean and Beans in Space plus various BM and solo adventures). I certainly enjoy the action and fun-packed sessions I run using this superb system and now that my friend is out of the woods, medically so to speak, I would just like to take this moment to say,

“Good luck and get well soon Jeff Freels, surely the greatest Bean! of them all”.

Mini-Diorama of a Bean! Space Marine – figure crafted and painted by Simon Lee Tranter