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Out of the Ashes

First of all, After the Final War has had a change of name; it’s now known as Out of the Ashes.

I’m funding Out of the Ashes through a Kickstarter. The Kickstarter launches at 12:00 GMT on Monday 11th of January. You can sign up for notifications when the Kickstarter goes live:


So this post has a little content, rather than just being an advertisement, let me talk for a moment about characters in Out of the Ashes. A character has a culture, a name appropriate to that culture, and a concept. Some of the character concepts available in the setting are.

You’re an explorer of deep places, the tunnels under the earth where treasures and horrors lurk, the empty homes of the Mountain Clans, the barrows of ages far in the past. Few other than those of the Mountain Clans have the urge to follow this path.

There are many in the world enslaved by the Desecrators and Tainted. Some have been corrupted, and cannot be freed, though they can be given a clean death. But others, maybe even most, can be rescued, and that is what you fight to do, by fair means or foul. It’s worth it, and slavers do not deserve mercy or a fair fight.

Most liberators are Kethians who are moved by their people’s plight, but a hero from any culture can be a liberator. Some liberators are themselves escaped slaves.

Lore Master
Your magic comes from your dedicated learning, and you know some of the words of power, which existed before the gods. These words are the building blocks of creation, and are powerful and perilous. Use them wisely.

Monster Hunter
Among the Ekeli battle is not glorious. But there is glory in the hunt against a dangerous foe, outwitting it and striking from the shadows to kill. You have such glory for you hunt monsters, and your pursuits sometimes take you far from home.

There is power and wisdom in songs and poems, and you’re wise in such ways. Your songs preserve ancient lore that is otherwise forgotten, and exert a subtle power. You can make sure news and stories are spread, and know how to make your words ring with truth.

Storm Rider
You’re a warrior and acrobat capable of remarkable feats because the wind is your ally. You’re no magician; your magic is implicit, expressed with every movement, by your relationship with the air around you.

Your character concept guides you but does not constrain you as you choose character options. To see how they come together, here’s an example character from the book.

Olwen of Gwyn Onnen
Culture: Ekeli
Concept: Seeker
Focus: Determined

Drives and Keys
Duty: To hunt the tainted and subjugators
Passion: A sense of adventure and gratuitous danger
Keys: Storm, Darkness, Secrecy

Endurance 16, Spirit 10
Protection 3, Despair 0
Damage: Spear d10, Bow d10
Wealth d4

Physical Skills: Athletics 8, Fight 4, Shoot 6, Sneak 7, Survival 3
Mental Skills: Investigate 3, Lore 4, Notice 3
Social Skills: Deceive 3, Song 4

Always Prepared: At the cost of a point of Spirit, you can have any item you want ready to hand. The item must be something inexpensive, so you could obtain it with a minor or no Wealth spend.

Further, when you embark on an expedition, increase your group’s Supplies resource by a dice step.

Lightfoot Run: For a cost of a point of Spirit, for as long as you are running and jumping, you’re almost weightless. You can perform remarkable feats of acrobatics, and any surface can support you, even the ends of branches of trees or the surface of water.

You have a +2 bonus to Athletics for the purposes of acrobatics. When you use this Talent to charge into battle you have a bonus d10. You can only use this talent in light or no armour.

Sense the Unseen: You can sense the presence of magic or a magically enchanted item, tell when a creation is a magical illusion, sense openings to otherworlds, and see spirits before they manifest. With a successful Notice test, you can say something about the form of magic, otherworld, or what lies behind an illusion.

Precision Shot: When you roll 9 to 10 for either die when you make a Shoot roll, you score a critical success if it succeeds.

Prince Madoc, the ruler of Gwyn Twmpath in the far off Silver Forest: d4
3 others

Olwen was in Gwyn Onnen when it was somehow betrayed from within, and slaughter filled the halls of the Hollow Hill. She somehow made it out alive. Many did not. The world would never be the same again. It would never be safe again. And she just fled – she did not deserve to survive, when so many did not.

The young Ekel did not join the other survivors from Gwyn Onnen, but decided to use her skills to hunt that tainted and monstrosities, alone. One hunt took her deep into the Caledor forest, and she fell to the club of a troll. Then a party of hunters found her and took her to their home, Dassos, where a group of Ekeli from Gwyn Onnen now lived, and where she was healed. Olwen no longer has a death wish, and has decided finally that Dassos is her home. She still hunts monsters, but is no longer alone.

After the Final War: Communities

Art by Jon Hodgson

The heart of After the Final War is the community. The players create the community together, defining the community’s strengths and weaknesses. Each player describes a person and location in the community, along with a threat and the dangerous place.

Player characters go on quests on behalf of the community, dealing with threats, finding the opportunities in dangerous places. The more their quests succeed, the more the community grows and prospers. They are helping to rebuild the world. But dangerous places can grow into threats, and threats can eradicate the community.

The idea of a community is easiest (for me) to describe with an example, so here’s one from the draft of the book.



Dassos is a Vespan outpost in the Caledor Forest. Vesper founded a number of such outposts late in the Third Age as fortifications for fighting the forces of the Nameless Emperor within the forest; they were both a place of observation and a place for troops to withdraw into safety.

All of the fortresses except Dassos were destroyed in the Final War. Dassos became a home for refugees, for people displaced, meaning there are a range of cultures present, mainly Vespan and Ekeli.


Dassos has people, and much land it could claim, giving it relatively high Military and Territory scores. More than a village, it is a small town. Unfortunately, trained experts have moved on to other communities, and as a result, Dassos struggles. Its people are poor.

  • Education 0
  • Hope d4
  • Military d6
  • Prosperity 0
  • Territory d6

Army Size: 3

Effect: d6


Some people of note are:

  • Lady Irulan Douka and her husband Lord Rhainn are the joint rulers of Dassos. Lady Irulan Douka was a minor part of the nobility at Vesper, and the most senior noble here who survived the Final War. Lord Rhainn comes from the Ekeli, and was a member of the royal family of a destroyed Hollow Hill – there must have been traitors within for the desecrators to invade. The two have scandalised both their cultures by getting married. They have taken unusual titles at Irulan’s insistence; the traditional Ekeli title of King and Queen for married rulers of an independent settlement would antagonise the Vespans, and it is desirable to maintain links.

Matters have been peaceful enough in recent years for the lady and lord to have three children under five, but the children mean the two rulers are busy and distracted. They do not want their children to be brought up by servants.

  • Eswen, a bitter old Ekeli hunter, is often found at the Lodge (see below). She was present when Lord Rhainn’s old home fell to the forces of the Nameless Emperor, and feels she should not have made it out alive. Eswen goes on riskier and riskier hunts – and is inadvertently leading the young hunters to take foolish risks.
  • Phillipos Argyres is old and infirm, but is a capable magician, a Loremaster who came here with the Emperor in the Final War and never left – not because he likes it here, but because he feels he cannot travel. Phillipos frequently grumbles about the lack of education that is taking root in Dassos and the lack of books. He may well latch onto a player character who shows signs of learning.


Some important places in Dassos are:

  • The walls of Dassos are made of a black stone found locally, andsurround the town in a wide oval. They were built at the same time as the town, and have proved strong enough to last. The walls are wide enough for two men to walk abreast. They are the Dassos’ most important defensive feature, and a major strength.
  • The Running Wolf is the most welcoming of the local taverns, full of gossip. It’s a good place to hear news.
  • The Emperor’s Tower is part of the wall, made of the same black stone, and is so called because the Emperor during the Final War once visited Dassos, and climbed to the top. This is more impressive that it sounds as the Emperor was rather old at the time. The tower is high enough to look out over the trees, and a pair of guards is always on watch. The Lord and Lady do not live in the Emperor’s Tower, but one of them holds court here.
  • The Lodge is a long low building outside the walls, hidden from casual view. Ekeli hunters gather here before they go on forays into the forest to hunt. These hunts target both food and monsters. They are not officially sanctioned, but Lord Rhiann feels they serve a useful function in keeping the area around Dassos safe, and so does not interfere.


Dassos has ties to the following places:

  • Caer Esk. Caer Esk is the nearest friendly settlement. Messengers pass regularly between Caer Esk and Dassos on the way to the old Imperial Road. There is also limited trade, though Dassos is too poor to attract many merchants.
  • Vesper. Dassos is far from Vesper, and independent, but maintains diplomatic links with its founding city. Occasionally supplies come from Vesper, and Dassos sends back a sadly empty promise of loyalty.
  • The Red Tower. Dassos receives news from the Kethian Roadwardens of the forest, but has no real influence with them. Even when the Roadwardens alert the people of Dassos of some incoming danger, they have their duty and cannot spare people to help. They are more likely to ask for help.
  • Mawr Coed. Lord Rhainn has distant relatives in Gwyn Coed. Gwyn Goed is relatively powerful, but it is distant and a mountain range separates Dassos from Gwyn Coed. Further, the people of Gwyn Coed really don’t approve of Rhainn’s marriage to Irulan Douka, seeing him as turning his back on Ekeli culture.


Dassos faces, or potentially faces, the following threats.

  • Vesper seeks to install a governor in Dassos, ending the town’s independence. Nobody is happy about the prospect, the Ekeli especially. Vesper is not likely to invade, but the governor has already left when a messenger gets to Dassos, and Dassos is expected to escort the governor and his entourage through the Caledor Forest. Without this imposed rule, any assistance coming from Vesper will be cut off.
  • A large group of hunters goes missing on a long-ranging trip, seeking to bring down a troll and other tainted preying on those who travel through the forest.
  • Bone Hill is a mound covered in white grass rising from a tainted swamp. The tainted waters from the swamp have begun to spread, threatening the drinking water in Dassos. The reason may be two strygloi who have made Bone Hill their home, and are seeking to gather tainted to serve them.
  • The head armourer dies in a hunting accident. Perhaps he was with the above group of hunters. His apprentices are not really up to the job. The player characters must travel to find a replacement. Should this threat escalate, the garrison of Vesper finds itself inadequately armed to deal with a potential invasion, making it the job of the player characters.

Dangerous Places

Opportunities as well as dangers await in these locations.

  • Gwyn Onnen. Gwyn Onnen is the old home of many of the Ekeli in Dassos, including Lord Rhainn. It is a hollow hill, with entrance between two great ash trees. These ash trees are now warped, and it is said animated guardians who will attack any seeking to enter. Worse horrors may wait within. But so do the tapestries Gwyn Onnen was especially known for – obtaining these would give Dassos well-needed trade goods, in the form of tapestries, some dating back from the Second Age. Those who invaded and ransacked the Hollow Hill would not have valued them, and they could not have destroyed them all. Besides, there may be other treasures remaining that were not found.
  • Vesper. Is Vesper a dangerous place? The politics can leave bruises, and the journey there is dangerous. But opportunity awaits, including dealing with the effects of the politics from the attempt to install a governor, and a letter sent to Phillippos Argyres, mentioning three apprentice magicians who could be persuaded to come to Dassos.
  • The Forgotten Shrine. Scholars, perhaps one of the above apprentices, or one of Phillipos’ correspondence, has learned the location of a late First Age shrine in the Caledor Forest, sacred to the earth god Volund. Legends say that a weapon taken to the shrine is blessed. The only problem is that the shrine is dangerously close to the Seven Barrows, where Duke Ash, the Minister of Corruption, has made his home.
  • Mawr Coed. Rumours have reached Dassos of discontented people in Mawr Coed, who may want a new home. They will bring with them valuable expertise. Can they be persuaded to come to Dassos without annoying the Ekeli of Mawr Coed too much? A journey over the Arulan Mountains is needed.

After the Final War: Cultures

Art by Jon Hodgson

After the Final War is a human world. There are no elves, dwarves, and so on. But there is a variety of different human cultures.

Cultures have been mixed together after the Final War, and there’s strength in the diversity of people in a community. Different cultures have different expertise, different forms of magic, and different attitudes. There are cultural clashes as well, but to survive in a changed and dangerous world, cooperation is key.

And then there are the enemies of humanity, the Ministers of the Nameless Emperor, the desecrators, who came from outside creation, those tainted by the Nameless Emperor, and other monsters. That’s something for another blog post.

The main cultures are:

Alari, the First People

The Alari formed the first civilisation in the world’s First Age, and in the Second Age acted as teachers of then new civilisations. Although as human as any other culture, they are ageless, dying only due to violence or misadventure. Despite that very few Alari remain, and they have no more children. You are one of the last.

Before the Nameless Emperor’s defeat, he held particular hate for the Alari, and they suffered ceaseless trauma in the Third Age. The oldest Alari no longer leave their homes, being in a state of permanent mourning for the world. But younger Alari still hold some hope, still use their people’s wisdom and magic to fight for the good of the world.

Ekeli, the Hunters

The Ekeli are almost as old as the Alari. They are not immortal as the Alari are, but live for centuries. To the other cultures, they are still a mysterious people, dwelling apart in the Hollow Hills, deadly hunters who make mysterious bargains. But as an Ekeli, you’ve gone out into the world to find something outside your original home. Your magic is effective, your skills at hunting monsters, the tainted, even subjugators perhaps even more so.

In the First Age, the Alari and Ekeli fought devastating wars between the opposing philosophies represented by the gods of Sky and Earth, who also fought. But now they regard each-other as cousins, with more in common with each-other than those of the younger cultures. Both have even drifted away from worship of the old earth and sky gods, instead focusing any religious attention on the original creator.

Kethians, the Fallen

Before the Final War, the Kethians were known for their truculent independence and industry. They lived in individual earldoms, often in conflict, only nominally answerable to a King. Some were heroic warriors, who fought for their lords, and as mercenaries for other causes, but they formed no large armies. Others were poets who sang sagas of the distant Second Age about romantic and doomed heroes.

In the Final War, the Kethians gained more of a sense of unity, but after a valiant fight almost all of them were enslaved by the Nameless Emperor. The Minister of Chains still occupies their homeland, and most Kethians are slaves there. Some have escaped, and fight for the freedom of their people.

The Mountain Clans

The Mountain Clans spent earlier ages apart from other cultures, in high places or cities beneath the ground. The bitter wars between the Clans were invisible to the dwellers on the plains and islands, the struggles against monsters in the dark unknown to other cultures. Now the underground cities of old are no more, and the Mountain Clans are very much a part of the world. Will they make a difference?

There are but three surviving Clans – the Feuerstein, Eisen, and Smaragd Clans. War between the other two Clans and the Smaragd Clan goes on, for the Smaragd Clan served the Nameless Emperor and continue to serve his cause now he is defeated.

Nisians, the Islanders

The Nisians are master sailors and boaters, on both the seas and rivers. They tend to be impulsive and hedonistic, and apart from their boats hold material possessions lightly. Through most of their history, many were pirates and raiders, though they were always also traders and messengers. Most make their home on islands, which protected them from the worst of the ravages of the Nameless Emperor. Indeed many fought on the Nameless Emperor’s side, for the Final War provided fine raiding opportunities.

But by the end of the Final War though, the Nisians fought with the other Free People, and drove out the Serpent, a Minister resident in their main island home of Nisi. Now, in the Fourth Age, they seek to atone atone for their role in the first part of the Final War. They are no longer pirates and raiders. Many Nisians on reaching adulthood join another community to serve them, in a custom called Renewal.

The Vespans, the People of the Evening

In the Second Age, the Vespan Empire spanned the world, but split into a Northern and Southern Empire, and war. At the end of the Second Age, magic both destroyed the most of the Northern Empire, and breached the walls between worlds, letting in the Nameless Emperor, his Desecrators, and his Ministers. Anything remaining in the North quickly fell.

The southern Vespans at first stayed out of the Final War, being far from the action, but then fought a holding action against him for most of the Third Age, on a knife edge even with the other free peoples as allies.

Now the Empire is no more, and the culture reduced to the once vast and mighty city of Vesper, the surrounding lands, and scattered outposts. But the Vespans hope to rebuild, to reclaim the world, and they still feel they have the weight of thousands of years of history on their side, of courage to drive back the Ministers of the Nameless Empire and their remaining forces.

After the Final War

Art by Jon Hodgson

The original version of this blog post was going to be where I defined a certain style of fantasy, coining a word for it, and saying how cool and underrepresented it was in RPGs. Then I would claim that something I’m working on, After the Final War, fit that style of fantasy. But that would be mildly disingenuous.

Instead I’ll talk about After the Final War more directly. So what is it? Well, it’s a fantasy RPG. The grand setting concept is that the great evil, the Nameless Emperor, has already been defeated, but he’s already done immense damage to the world. The landscape is now mostly wilderness with tainted and corrupt places, monsters roam, and some of the Ministers of the Nameless Emperor still attempt dominion and lead the remains of the Emperor’s armies in fights of dominance.

The people who fought the Nameless Emperor must survive and rebuild, scattered as they are. This is a game of a world in ruins, and attempts to rebuild it. Things are awful, but the player characters have the chance to make the world a far better place than it was.

All the player characters are part of a community with problems and connections. They act on behalf of their community, dealing with its problems, making connections with other communities, fighting to help it thrive and grow.

It’s also a game of different cultures and people with different ways of doing things having to work together. After the war against the Crimson Emperor, many different people have been thrown together, and must work together to thrive.

There’s a lot of specifics to explore, both in terms of system and setting. And really it’s the specifics that I hope resonate. I’m hoping to bring After the Final War to Kickstarter this autumn, depending on how quickly things develop. It might not be this autumn – it might be early next year. But I’m excited, with lots to do and plan. I think it’s going to be good.

Remote Roleplaying

For understandable reasons, there’s been much commentary on “tabletop” roleplaying games run online, and huge amounts of advice.

I’m not going to offer much in the way of advice. One thing I will say is that there are many ways of arranging online play, from Google Hangouts or similar video link, and reporting dice rolls by trust, to platforms such as Roll20 with integrated maps and character sheets and Discord for voice chat as Roll20 can be unreliable there.

My only suggestion is to use what you’re comfortable with, let the platform serve the needs of the game, and don’t feel obliged to use things you find too complicated. I’ve had fun playing over Roll20, but for my needs when I run something, I tend to just use Hangouts without other software, basically playing as normal only with a video link rather than face to face.

This doesn’t have to be the right way for you. It favours simpler systems. It’s hard to teach a complex game over a Hangout. The tools can be useful. Use what tools work for you.
Like I said, not much in the way of useful advice. But what I hope I have to offer is encouragement. It takes an hour or two to get used to, but I have had some of my best experiences in RPGs when online, especially when it comes to playing campaigns. There are indeed quite a few advantages.

For one thing, one isn’t constrained by geography. People from a fair way off in the same country, people in different countries, it’s all one for remote play. In terms of gathering people together, there’s automatically a far larger pool to draw upon. And friends you only know online, or know face to face from the occasional convention – it’s just as easy to play with them as anyone local.

One common complaint I’ve seen, and this is not to judge Dungeons and Dragons, is that it’s only possible to locally find Dungeons and Dragons players for RPGs. Well, the bigger pool means that’s no problem. Sometimes one can lead with a game one wants to run, and then look for players, meaning things being outside the norm (whatever that is) is absolutely no problem.

Oh, and no need to travel to game. No need to leave the comfort of one’s own home. That’s a big one at the moment, but there are advantages at other times, especially if going to a “local” game involves a fair journey.

I said that some of my best RPG campaign experiences have been online. So I’ll finish this with a few examples.

  • The Darkening of Mirkwood for the One Ring. I ran this, and it was moving and epic. Indeed, my last post in this very blog talks about it.
  • Burning Wheel. I simply posted online that I was interested in playing, and a friend offered to run it for me, one to one. It’s an intricate system and one that really strongly supports a character-based story.
  • Esoterrorists. Way back, when I wanted to try out GUMSHOE, a friend offered to run a game. I’m still with GUMSHOE, and I’ve played in two complete and satisfying campaigns – Albion’s Ransom and Worldbreaker.
  • The Final Revelation. Beautifully bleak “purist” Cthulhu which inevitably ends in despair, and barely a hint of pulp. I knew I wanted to run it. And online I found players who relished the tone, and it was as promised profoundly bleak, which was just what I wanted from the experience. I wouldn’t have found local players. No chance.
  • Unknown Armies. Again I was a player, and we had fun seeing our characters’ strange pursuits ruin their ordinary lives, and those of others, in small town England. With the overriding question as to whether the magic was worth it?
  • Age of Arthur. The Age of Arthur game I ran online really turned into something terrific, with individual character stories neatly intersecting the overall arc and coming together in neat, if not particularly happy, ways in the finale.
  • Age of Anarchy. My playtesting for this game was all online. And by design it’s a game I find ridiculously easy to run, with the shared creation elements. I’ll have to do it again at some point now it’s settled.

Right now I’m playing in fun games of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th edition, D&D Curse of Strahd, and Ashen Stars. Each of these deserves its own post. I’m excited for the Ashen Stars finale next week.

So…who wants to play a game?

Over Misty Mountains Cold

A couple of weeks ago, we concluded playing through the Darkening of Mirkwood for the One Ring. I was the Loremaster. And by and large, it was amazing. I have lots of feelings, and I’m still not completely sure how we made it work. But with dedication, and outright enthusiasm, we did it!

The game was divided into seasons of a few sessions each, with breaks in between. Three players made it through all eight seasons. Heroes! We had other players joining us for a few seasons, but not here for everything. They made this game too.

So thanks to Dom (Nali the Mason), Elina (Aeldra the Kind), Glen (Eorgwyn the Shieldmaiden), Jag (Miriel, Warden of Mirkwood), Jerry (Halbrog the Dunedain), Mik (Hathus the Wanderer), Richard (Rathar Broadshoulders), Simon (Nolwe of Rivendell).

I loved feeling the way the player characters shaped the world. They were proactive, cunning, and sometimes, it must be said, lucky. I also felt myself becoming a massive fan of the player characters. I could imagine them as well as any character in fiction.

There were notable high points. Some which stood out to me were:

Defeating two of the Great Spiders of Mirkwood by setting them fighting each-other.

The bleak and gruelling march to Angmar in which excess armour was discarded. The kidnapped children were rescued, but the quest to seek out the evil behind it all left for another day.

Miriel taking the werewolf spirit into herself.

Gathering a grand alliance to assault Dol Goldur, and end its evil… for ever?

The end of the campaign was triumphant, but the cost was immense, and there was much underlying sadness. Dom summed it up beautifully here.

Last week, we were lucky enough for the four of us there at the end to get together at the Furnace RPG Convention, to toast a fine game and absent members of the Fellowship.


So what next? This was one of the finest campaigns I’ve been able to GM. At the end I feel happy, but a little overwhelmed. Maybe the Fellowship will get together for a special meeting to take on a dragon mentioned in the Grey Mountains. I hope so!

My main thought is what a wondrous thing can be possible with an amazing and dedicated group. It’s going to be a long time before I manage to rival it. But part of the fun in gaming is trying!

And for now I’m more than ready to play rather than GM, which is another pleasure.

In celebration, here’s the chronicle of events. There were departures from the “official campaign”. One key thing was an element I introduced – the Gibbet thing. Material involving the Bardings were not included. The remainder came from the players following their own path, making decisions big and small, and being…glorious!

Autumn 2947: The Company sets out from Dale, following King Bard’s mission of spreading the word of the Council of the North next Autumn. Crossing Mirkwood, they learn the truth about Mogdred from a mad hermit, namely that Ingold is Mogdred

The Company spend winter in the Beorning lands before travelling to the Woodsman lands in spring.

Spring 2948: The Company tells Ingomer, chieftain of the Woodsmen, the truth about Mogdred. They then travel into the forest to confront Mogdred. Aeldra the kind forces a realisation of who he was in a one on one fight.

Mogdred leads his men to fight orcs in Mirkwood, driving them out from the nearby area.

Mogdred attends the Council of the Woodsmen, and the Company convinces the sceptical Woodsmen to accept him as one of their number, and Mogdred’s fortress at Tyrant’s Hill as one of the Woodsmen holdings.

Summer 2948: Nali finds a mission from the dwarf Bofri son of Bombur. At Nali’s urging, the Company travel the old dwarf road through Mirkwood, and exorcise the Beacon Tower half-way through of its ghosts, retrieving the staff of the Roadwarden. Bofri the dwarf begins his work on restoring the dwarf road.

Autumn 2948: The Company cross Mirkwood, encountering the great spider Tauler, child of Ungoliant. They discover the East Bight is beset by Barrow Wights, and the lord of the East Bight, Ceawin the Generous, under the mental thrall of one of the Nazgul. They help him break free.

King Bard’s Great Council of the North discusses affairs of the free northern kingdoms, possible threats, and renews bonds of friendship between Dale, the Lonely Mountain, the Woodsmen, the Wood Elves, and the Beornings. The dwarf Nali presents King Dain of the dwarves with the Staff of the Roadwarden to give to Bofri.

The Company send word to the wizard Radagast about the Nazgul and the Barrow Wights, and talk to the Council of the North. They are advised that to defeat the Barrow Wights, they must find the barrow of their chief, and expose it to the sun. Radagast finds the location of the barrow the Company seeks, and leaves to consult with the wizard Saruman about the Nazgul.

The chief of the elven king’s hunters, Ruithel, goes missing seeking Tauler.

Winter 2948/49: Mogdred’s forces defeat an attack by orcs on the southern flank of the Woodsmen realm. Viglunding raiders attack Beorn’s lands, capturing slaves and burning the Elfwood, taking control of the western end of the elf path through Mirkwood.

Spring 2949: The Company bargain for the release of Ruithel from dwarves exiled from the Grey Mountains. They gain forces from the Woodsmen, and 50 elven archers for the Beornings to attack the Viglundings.

Summer 2949: The Company goes to the Viglunding lands to rescue the slaves taken prisoner- including Rathar’s associate Gisalric, and Frar the Beardless, chieftain of the dwarf exiles. The Beornings then go to war. Rathar kills the Viglunding chief, Viglund, in single combat. The Viglundings will no more be a threat, their very name to be forgotten.

And Rathar retires from adventuring with a steading in the borderlands to the north of the Beorning country, a reward for his efforts.

The Company decides to travel to the East Bight in spring to deal with the Wights. Perhaps they will find a group to journey with then (which they won’t in the Autumn), and not have a tough time crossing Mirkwood again.

Winter 2949/2950: The Wise and those touched by Shadow have dark dreams. The Dark Lord Sauron, the Necromancer as he was known when in Mirkwood, has risen again in Mordor.

Spring 2950: The Company sets off across the Narrows of the Forest for the East Bight. On the way, they discover the waters of Black Tarn and one of the River Maidens is corrupted by the influence of one of the Great Spiders, Tyulquin. To free Black Tarn from the blight, they seek out Tyulquin’s rival, Tauler, who after considerable persuasion leads the Company to Tyulquin’s lair. He will, with their cooperation, slay Tyulquin.

There, Tauler and Tyulquin fight, and Tauler is slain. The Company finish off the wounded Tyulquin, and with two of the three Great Spiders of Mirkwood dead, retreat to their new sanctuary in central Mirkwood, the dwarven Beacon Tower.

Summer 2950: While in the Beacon Tower, the Company join an elven celebration held by Orophal the Harper and Ruithel the Hunter. Both are wounded but happy. They celebrate killing the Werewolf of Mirkwood, and celebrate still more when they hear of the Company’s deeds with the Great Spiders. But the Werewolf returns in another body. The Company dispatch it, and explore the werewolf’s lair. They find the remains of one of the two Great Lamps of Balthi, which once shone with a light of the ancient world. The other of these lamps shines in Woodland Hall, in a secret chamber.

The Company, pursued by the Werewolf, reformed again, and accompanying wargs. travel with the wounded elves to Marshfoot, where the elves take a boat to the Woodland Realm. The Company caution the elves not to mention the other lamp in Woodland Hall.

Autumn 2950: The Company reach East Bight, and receive cryptic warnings in dreams of a coming attack by orcs and perhaps more. Aeldra the Kind slays the Wight King, ending the wight threat to the people of East Bight.

Winter 2950/2951: One of the Nazgul, a messenger, visits Mogdred of Tyrant’s Hill to claim his alliance to the dark lord. Mogdred and his men drive off the messenger with arrow fire.

Spring 2951: War comes to East Bight…a force of orcs from the east, and orcs from the forest, attacking from the west. A Nazgul is also present, and calls the wights. East Bight should be overwhelmed.

But the Company have not been idle. The wights do not march despite the Nazgul’s call; their king was slain, and the horn aiding their summoning was not blown. The Company also journeyed over winter to the Lonely Mountain and the Woodland Realm; forces of elves and dwarves march to help the East Bight, and Thranduil gives to Miriel a war banner from the time of Gil Galad.

The war banner drives away the Nazgul despite Nali the Dwarf being grievously affected by the Black Breath. The forces of Men, Elves, and Dwarves defeat the orcs and trolls, with Nali slaying the orc leader, a Great Orc and heir to Azog and Bolg.

Summer 2951: Radagast the Brown returns from a visit to the necromancer’s old fortress of Dol Guldor and hence to Saruman the White in Isengard. Radagast reports to the Company that forces are moving to reoccupy the Necromancer’s old fortress, including at least one of the Nazgul. And there is a traitor among the Wood Elves. Further, the Necromancer’s torturer, the Gibbet King, has returned to make mischief somewhere north of the Misty Mountains.

Miriel tells King Thranduil about the Lamp of Balthi. Unknown to Miriel, he sends a group, led by Ruithel, to steal it from Woodland Hall.

Autumn 2951: The Company travel to the old kingdom of Éotheod chasing rumours of the Gibbet King. Miriel has a vision alerting her to what the elven king has done. She tells the Company; Nali in particular is unhappy and sends a raven to alert the Woodsmen.

They find some of the Hillmen to be the Gibbet King’s followers, and orcs strike to kidnap the children of those who don’t follow him. The Company pursue the orcs all the way to Angmar, and catch them almost within sight of Carn Dûm. They take the children back to Rivendell. On the way they meet a group of elves and rangers, including Ruthiel who abandoned her mission and learned where the Company went.

Spring/Summer 2952: The Company, hearing rumours of conflicts between the Wood Elves and Woodsmen cross the Misty Mountains from Rivendell. The High Pass is blocked, but the Redhorn Gate is passable, and they come into the Dimrill Dale. They find a dwarven tower at the edge of the dale, Durin’s Watch, occupied by wraiths.

In the Woodsmen lands, the heroes negotiate with the Woodsmen and Elves, and learn that Ormal the Lampmaker, the greatest practitioner of wood elf magic, believes he can rekindle the broken lamp of Balthi given access to the still functioning lamp that still hangs in Woodland Hall.

A compromise is struck; the wood elves will not take the lamp, but rather Ormal will study it in Woodland Hall, watched.

The heroes also learn that the Nazgul and a group of orcs are nearby. With the aid of Ragagast, they rout three of the Nazgul, destroying their material forms for now.

Summer/Autumn 2952: The heroes journey south, to see Saruman to ask his advice on dealing with the Werewolf of Mirkwood and the Gibbet King. It’s a long journey, and on the way they clear a notable hazard on Hag Island on the river, and lay the wraiths of Dimrill Watch to rest. Halbrog declines to take a cursed sword from the treasure there.

They stop off in Gondor before heading across Rohan to Isengard. Saruman, after some persuasion, agrees to advise them. Halbrog agrees to become Saruman’s emissary, and the white wizard gifts him a ring he made. Miriel stays with Saruman for the winter to learn from him, and the other companions go home for the winter.

Saruman is able to tell the companions that he believes the Werewolf can be dispersed if the lamp of Balti is shone onto it immediately after its material form is slain, as long as no other wolves are nearby for the spirit to jump into. More research is needed on the Gibbet King, though Saraman does mention a sword in a wight’s horde on the Barrow Downs which might be of aid.

Winter 2952/2953: Halbrog meets Gandalf briefly in Bree. Gandalf seeks the Company’s aid on matters of importance, and will see them in Rivendell that Autumn. Until then, he has urgent business of his own. Wights have been seen outside the Barrow Downs!

Spring/Summer 2953: It is time for the Company to deal with the Werewolf of Mirkwood, who is running rampage around the eaves of Mirkwood, leading a pack of hundreds of wargs. The Comapany persuade the Woodsmen and Radagast to go along with their plan, taking the lamp of Balthi, and attacking the pack, while Radagast uses his magic to separate them.

The Company take on the Werewolf, defeat it, and Miriel shines the lamp of Balthi in its face. It begs the elf for mercy, but Miriel rather mocks it, refusing, seeing the spirit needs punishment. At which point the spirit of the werewolf jumps into Miriel! The wood elf is able to trap it for now within herself.

The group travel to see Beorn for help with Miriel’s problem. Beorn takes them into the misty mountains, where they see a mysterious hunter who takes away the werewolf spirit…and Beorn as well. The Company travel back to break the news to the Beornings and deal with the delicate issue of leadership.

On the way they sense one of the Nazgul in the distance and see a large force of orcs and trolls coming down from the Misty Mountains into Beorning lands. They bury most of the force with a carefully crafted landslide, and intend to fight the vanguard of the force who were ahead of the slide, but are forced to flee.

Autumn/Winter 2953: Halbrog leaves the Company to join Gandalf on a quest of some importance, where his expertise is needed to help the wizard.

Meanwhile, Nolwe, a high elf, comes from Elrond with news of a force marching on the Beorning lands from the North. It is led by the Gibbet King! The Company rally the Beorning forces to withstand the attack. The Gibbet King is defeated, but only vanquished until he can occupy s new body.

The Company travel to Rivendell to research the Gibbet King, and rest before setting off for the Barrow Downs for the Sword Estel, which can defeat the Gibbet King for good. And maybe other such foes. They retrieve the sword and head north again for Angmar, where they infiltrate the Gibbet King’s lair in Carn Dum, and end him for good.

They then flee the Gibbet King’s armies, but lead them into an ambush prepared by the rangers at Fornost, in the North Downs.

Early 2954: The Company spend the rest of the Winter in Rivendell recovering from the trauma of Angmar and the Barrow Downs. They learn that Dol Guldor in Mirkwood has been reoccupied by a host of orcs and other things, including at least three Nazgul, and research it. They are invited to the opening of the Dwarf Road at midsummer. Nali the dwarf discovers two prophecies, one warning of the wood elves’ wine, the other saying that both Ingomer, chieftain of the woodsmen, and Ingold, his son, formerly known as Mogdred will die within the year.

Spring 2954: One of the Nazgul comes to Tyrant’s Hill to demand Mogdred’s allegiance for the third and last time. Mogdred refuses.

Summer 2954: The Company travel to the Beacon Tower on the Dwarf Road to celebrate its opening. The elves of Mirkwood come and bring wine. Several notable dwarves are present, including Bofri, the Roadwarden. Bofri gives them much gold for their earlier work. The Company discover the wine the wood elves sent was poisoned, and prevent it being drunk. Ingold of Tyrant’s Hill is due to come, but late. A messenger from the party rushes to the Beacon Tower to declare Ingold and his soldiers have been attacked by a large force. The Company and others run to the rescue and prevail after a tough fight, in which Aeldra slays a Nazgul – for good?

Autumn 2954: The Company set off for the north. Aeldra and Nali persuade the dwarves to join the woodsmen in a march on Dol Guldor. Miriel and Nolwe persuade the elves. They also uncover the man who poisoned the wine, learn he was under the influence of the Shadow, and get there too late to question or save him. The Company reassemble, rescue the dwarf Frar the beardless, learn the last of the Great Spiders was behind Frar’s capture and intended trap for them, and the influence of the man who poisoned the wine. The march to the Mountains of Mirkwood to defeat her, and claim some ancient and powerful treasures.

The Company also learn from Frar of a dragon in the Grey Mountains and one of the Seven Rings of the dwarves.

Winter 2954: A miasma spreading from Dol Guldor causes widespread illness. Ingomer of the Woodsmen dies. Aeldra is declared chieftain of the woodsmen. She and Ingold decide they have much to talk about, possibly rekindling their old relationship, when this is over.

Spring 2955: An alliance of free peoples, including dwarves, elves, and men, marches on Dol Guldor. They prevail, but at great cost. Enemies include five(!) Nazgul, and the biggest mountain troll the Company has seen. In the battle, over 70% of the gathered forces fall. Dwalin dies fighting a Great Orc. Ingold falls at the hands of a troll. Miriel in a bout of madness slays the elf Ruthiel with an arrow. Horrified, she flees to dwell alone in the forest.

Aeldra decides to dedicate herself to the woodsmen. Nali returns to the Lonely Mountain in honour, though he dreams of the possibility Frar raised of become king in the Grey Mountains, and taking the Ring of Power. Nolwe urges the Company to meet in Rivendell in ten years time.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

One RPG thing I’m involved with at the moment is Mythic Babylon, a setting for Mythras that I’m working on with Chris Gilmore. Chris is a huge expert on the whole subject, and I’ve learned what I can. And beyond the history component (set in the “rise of Babylon” era in the time of Hammurabi) it makes an absolutely terrific (sickle) swords and sorcery setting, with mythical monsters, dark magic and demons, exorcists, and a political clash between great kingdoms, with intrigue and war.

Here’s the cover.
But I’m posting about something which was cut for space…a retelling of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Of all the Sumerian myths, Gilgamesh’s doomed quest for immortality (spoilers) is perhaps the best-known, and easiest to find elsewhere. Now a retelling can be found here too:

The Epic of Gilgameŝ 

Gilgameŝ was the King of Uruk, son of the goddess Ninsun and King Lugalbanda. He was two thirds divine, and one third mortal. He was handsome, brave, and strong. He built the great city walls of Uruk. He sought the secret of immortality and instead found wisdom. This is his story.

The Coming of Enkidu

When he first became king, Gilgameŝ was young and arrogant. He picked fights with other young men and slept with their brides before they married. The gods decided that Gilgameŝ must be diverted from such activities. He needed a companion, an equal.

And so Enkidu was born. He grew up in the wilderness. He was hairy and naked, and the wild animals were his only friends. Enkidu protected the animals from hunters by destroying their traps. And so one hunter decided to trap Enkidu. He hired a prostitute named Ŝamhat to go into the wilderness to draw Enkidu out.

Enkidu was immediately drawn to Ŝamhat, but reticent. Eventually he allowed her to get close, and then to seduce him. Ŝamhat spent several days with him, teaching the first the arts of sex, and then how to dress. When next they parted, Enkidu found he had lost some of his animal thinking but gained something else. His animal friends were now strangers to him, and Enkidu felt very alone. Ŝamhat pitied Enkidu, and invited him back to Uruk.

In Uruk, Gilgameŝ had a premonition of Enkidu’s arrival. The king met Enkidu on the road and challenged him to a wrestling match. The two wrestled for a long time, but were absolutely evenly matched, and the result was a draw. For the first time, Gilgameŝ had not won. The two became fast friends.

The Cedar Mountain

Gilgameŝ now had all he needed, and his mind turned to more esoteric subjects, and settled on immortality. To acheive immortality, he proposed a great deed. He proposed to kill Humbaba, the demonic guardian of the Cedar Mountain. Enkidu and the Council of Elders in Uruk tried to dissuade Gilgameŝ from his rash action, but the king could not be shifted. Following the advice of the elders, Enkidu and Gilgameŝ visited Ninsun, Gilgameŝ‘ divine mother. Ninsun adopted Enkidu as her son. Then Ninsun conducted Gilgameŝ and Enkidu through a magical ritual to bless their chances of success against Humbaba.

When they returned to Uruk, Gilgameŝ gave instructions for the rule of the city while he was away. Enkidu tried a second time to dissuade his friend from rashness, but Gilgameŝ was still firm in his desire for glory. So Gilgameŝ and Enkidu left the city for the Cedar Mountains, and the crowds cheered, exalted by the glorious deed to come.

On the journey to the Cedar Mountain, Gilgameŝ had a series of disturbing dreams. In one, Gilgameŝ wrestled a great bull with breath that tore the ground apart. In another, Gilgameŝ dreamed the skies roared with thunder and the earth heaved, before darkness and fire from the heavens, turning the plains to ash. Enkidu, though cautious earlier, interpreted the first dream as saying the bull was the god Ŝamaŝ, and he would protect Gilgameŝ. The second dream, he said, suggested a mighty battle where Gilgameŝ would be victorious.

When they arrived at the mountain, Enkidu and Gilgameŝ chopped down several cedar trees. The felling of the cedars aroused the wrath and notice of the demon Humbaba, who came at them, roaring and breathing fire, his face a hideous mask. Gilgameŝ’s courage failed him, but Enkidu called out, saying that the two of them together were stronger than the demon, and Ŝamaŝ‘ divine winds turned back Humbaba’s flames.

Enkidu and Gilgameŝ triumphed. Humbaba begged for mercy, and offered Gilgameŝ all the trees in the forest and his eternal servitude. But Enkidu urged Gilgameŝ to kill Humbaba as he had set out to do, before any of the gods intervened, to ensure his fame and glory. Humbaba cursed Enkidu as he died, to not find any peace in the world and to die before Gilgameŝ.

The pair took Humbaba’s head as a trophy, and loaded the cedar trunks they had cut onto a raft to make a door for Enlil’s temple in Uruk.

Iŝtar and the Bull of Heaven

Gilgameŝ’ deed had assured his fame. It spread as far as the ears of the goddess Iŝtar. Iŝtar came to observe Gilgameŝ, and saw him while he was bathing. Lust kindled in her heart.

The goddess tried to seduce Gilgameŝ, but Gilgameŝ knew the dire fates of Iŝtar’s mortal lovers in the past, and told her so, listing their names and dooms in a singing mocking voice. Iŝtar was understandably angry, and begged the sky god Anu to release the Bull of Heaven, Guhulanna, to ravage the land of Uruk. The bull caused widespread destruction, but Gilgameŝ and Enkidu met and defeated it in battle.

When Iŝtar came, protesting and even more angry, Enkidu hurled the bull’s thigh at the goddess. He and Gilgameŝ then consecrated the bull’s horns to celebrate their victory and to attempt to appease the gods.

The Death of Enkidu

Enkidu dreamed the gods had given him a death sentence for his part in the murder of Humbaba, and the death of the Bull of Heaven. He regretted helping make the cedar door for the ungrateful god Enlil. He cursed the prostitute Ŝamhat for teaching him to be a man rather than a beast.

The god Ŝamaŝ consoled Enkidu, speaking of the pleasures he had as a man, of food, beer, clothes, and the friendship of Gilgameŝ. He also tolk Enkidu of the honours people would bestow upon him after his death. Enkidu was convinced and regretted his curses, blessing Ŝamhat to take back the curse.

Then Enkidu sickened and died. Gilgameŝ felt the loss of Enkidu deeply. He recited their shared deeds, and had a statue of Enkidu made in Uruk.

The Wanderings of Gilgameŝ

After Enkidu’s funeral, Gilgameŝ was gripped with a profound sadness, and became aware of his own mortality. He wandered the world seeking relief, and learned of a fabled man, Utnapiŝtim, the survivor of the Great Flood who dwelled at the edge of the world.

To get there, Gilgameŝ went through a tunnel under the mountains guarded by two scorpion-men. He arrived in a garden of bright jewels, beyond which was an immense sea. Gilgameŝ was tired by his journey and travails, and came across a tavern. After his time in mourning and the long journey, Gilgameŝ was dishevelled and unkempt, appearing as much beast as man. The tavern owner, Siduri, though herself divine, was frightened by Gilgameŝ and hid.

Gilgameŝ found Sidiri and grasped her arm so she could not flee, and told her his story. He told her of his love for Enkidu, his one equal, and how upon his death he watched over Enkidu’s body until he saw a maggot crawl from the nose. Gilgameŝ told Siduri how he then realised death would one day come for him too, so he sought a way to keep death at bay.

Siduri was wise in the ways of the gods. She told Gilgameŝ he would never find what he sought and to be content. The gods gave men the gift of death. Gilgameŝ should eat, drink, celebrate and enjoy life while he could. He should wear fresh clothes, stay clean, and enjoy his wife and children. So men should do.

But Gilgameŝ did not listen, and so Siduri directed him to a ferryman by the name of Urŝinabi who could take him across the vast sea and the Waters of Death beyond them. The ferryman took the king to the home of Utnapiŝtim, the only man ever to have been awarded immortality.

Utnapiŝtim told Gilgameŝ of the great flood unleashed by the god Enlil, and how Enlil, repenting of his actions, rewarded Utnapiŝtim and his wife with immortality. The Flood survivor proposed a test for Gilgameŝ to see if he deserved immortality; he told the king to stay awake for six days and seven nights. If Gilgameŝ could resist the call to sleep, he could resist the greater call to sleep at the end of life.

But Gilgameŝ failed, and fell asleep before his time was up. Utnapiŝtim commanded the ferryman Urŝinabi to put Gilgameŝ back on the boat, and never to bring him back. But Utnapiŝtim’s wife took pity on Gilgameŝ, and prompted her husband to tell Gilgameŝ about a magical plant growing at the bottom of the sea. A plant that could restore youth.

Gilgameŝ dove down to the bottom of the sea and picked the plant. When he and Urŝinabi had crossed the sea, they began the long overland journey back to Uruk together. On the journey, the pair stopped to rest and bathe by a pool. Gilgameŝ put the plant down at the edge of the pool before wading in, and the sweet aroma of the magical plant attracted a snake, who ate it. The snake sloughed its skin, emerging fresh and young, and then departed. When Gilgameŝ came out of the pool, he found the plant was gone.

Despondent, the king wept for the loss. Gilgameŝ knew that was his final chance at immortality. When the king and the ferryman finally made it back to Uruk, Gilgameŝ showed Urŝinabi the proud great city with the high strong walls he had built. Urŝinabi patted him on the shoulder and said “My friend, therein lies your immortality.”

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want

I don’t have coherent RPG tastes. There’s a variety of different things I like, and they don’t all necessarily play nicely together. There are few categories for me, but there is a spectrum, and some individual things can come from anywhere on the spectrum, even against my “normal” tastes.

There’s also a few things I snobbishly turn my nose up at (especially as GM; as player, I’m still picky, but not as picky) some of which often go together with things I like. And I’m not consistent when it comes to things I like or dislike. I have little overall philosophy. I’m not a good critic.

All that said, for the sake of a blog post, some things I like are:

(1) Emotional involvement. I want a reason to care about the story. In RPG terms I want to like the player characters, or at least be interested in them. I want to care what happens to them. This applies both when playing and GMing. As GM, I love it like no other thing when the players get emotionally involved. As player I want to care about my character and feel their decisions, but also care about the other player characters.

(2) Mechanical involvement. When I’m engaging with RPG mechanics, I want one of two things. I want it either to be simple (and over with a single roll assuming we’re using dice) or a tiny bit tactical. By the latter, I mean if there are repeated dice rolls in a conflict (which often in RPG terms means combat; I may come back to that), I want a tiny mechanical decision with each roll. It might just be the choice of whether or not to spend a resource or take a risk with each roll, or a choice of actions. But I like to have something. Basically, don’t give me repeated rolls without any decision (whether in character or tactical) in between.

While I’m talking about mechanics, I also want any single mechanically involved piece of resolution (again, usually combat) to be over within at most 30 minutes (for something huge), with 5 to 10 minutes being more typical than 30 minutes.

(3) Appropriate mechanics. I want mechanics to suit the setting and mode of play. If it’s a general system (I don’t believe in “generic” systems), I want an appropriate one for the genre and mood at hand, since one size does not fit all, and I want it tweaked and customised to fit the setting. At the very least, this means character creation should produce something both appropriate and with some of the setting flavour. And character creation (or reading the character sheet in a one shot) is a great point to start “teaching” the setting, from the point of view of a character being played. Which is after all the one that matters.

(4) Mechanical leanness. Basically, not using unnecessary mechanics. For example, unless part of the game is about travel in some way, I don’t want us to be using encumbrance rules. And while we’re at it, I don’t care about or really want specific subsystems for poison, disease, falling, and drowning. Or fantasy accounting, going through and buying every piece of equipment with fictional funds.

(5) An RPG which gives you an idea of the sort of characters people will be playing, and the activities they are involved in. It doesn’t have to be hyperfocused in every single game, but it’s a good thing to have. If the player characters are a group of people from diverse cultures adventuring together, I want to know why they’re together.

(6) Openness of player character action. I’m not talking about railroading here, but more at the “scene” level. When the player characters come across a problem, they need a choice about how to deal with it. If in a fantasy game there’s an ogre guarding the bridge (yeah, boring example), do the player characters fight it, lure it off the bridge and sneak past, bribe it, goad it into an eating competition which they’ve fiddled, or something else? I like some sort of choice rather than an automatic fight scene.

(7) Setting and mood. If I’m going to play an RPG, sell me on a setting, player character activity, or mood, or ideally all three at once, and tell me you’ve got the mechanics to support that. Give me cultures, places, factions, conflicts, and people. Give me enough detail to lift or tweak, and enough information to understand. But don’t make it boring. That’s the directive from me…not that too much setting or too much information is a bad thing, but boringness is bad.

If I’m a player, don’t overwhelm me as GM. If I’m a GM reading a book and you’ve written the book, write it well, and remember that what I’m after is characters, places, adventures, and flavour, with flavour in a supporting roll for the others. I don’t necessarily need my people, places, and adventures directly…good and well-written flavour and cultural descriptions should give me ideas. Setting material can be great, but I want it done well!

(8) Happy pretendy fun times. I want to like the people I’m playing with. I like playing with people who are my friends, both people I see regularly, and people I only occasionally manage to get together with. I like playing with people who I don’t know at the start, but I think can be my friends when we’re done. This goes across the board for everyone present.

This last one is the only one I _have_ to have, or I don’t want to play. It applies both with regular groups and at conventions.

Game Skeletons, Part One


Here’s a link for a “complete” RPG.


Why the quotation marks?

I tinker with things when I get an idea. Sometimes my tinkering goes far enough that I get a complete skeleton of a game or RPG setting. Sometimes those skeletons get enough flesh on their bones to become actual finished books, for me to share.

But this post isn’t about something finished. It’s about a skeleton- a game of demigods, inspired by both Greek and Norse myth, capable of wondrous things but inevitably doomed in the long run. It’s about heroes who are larger than life in what they can do and what happens to them.

And it’s complete as a skeleton. It’s mechanically playable. It just lacks flavour and examples and setting and in some cases full explanations. It needs editing. Any art there is scavenged classical paintings. You have been warned. It’s good enough for me to use though, and it might be good enough for you.

If you take a look, let me know if you like it. And definitely let me know if you actually use it. Who knows? I might even take it further at some point.

And this isn’t my only game skeleton, oh no. I’ll have more to show off in future posts.

Hunting High and Low



This weekend, on Sunday, I went to the first GoPlay Manchester event to run my game, Hunters of Alexandria. And the players and I had a grand old time as they delved into the poorer parts of Alexandria in the year 1AD, faced off against werewolves and ghouls, and confronted the monster behind a terrible plot in the arena.

It was really nice to revisit Hunters of Alexandria again. Of all the things I’ve done, it was one of the most fun things to write. I’d already done the research. I’d like to do more with it at some point.

GoPlay Manchester was a lovely event- an afternoon of gaming held in a Manchester game store, Fan Boy 3. The atmosphere was warm and positive. People there were excited and pleased to be there. I need to go to more of them.