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 onΒ 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 πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™