Thursday, 14 June 2018

Very First (Ever) Game of D&D!

Well, bit of a landmark last night, I am no longer a D&D virgin!

Quite by chance an old friend contacted me, he had read some of my social media  comments about my trying to get into RPG and he invited me to join a local D&D game with him. It was all a bit sooner than I really wanted, I had planned a gentle build up with some solo RPG gaming before I launched myself into full-blown multiplayer D&D - but there you go.

First off, everyone was super nice and I wasn't the only novice player there which took a load off my mind. There were six of us in the little adventuring group, of mixed skills and levels of experience.

Broon the Barbarian
the first thing that struck the new D&D player (if they are like me) is how long it takes to generate your character. Indeed, this took up the first hour of the evening, mainly because I hadn't taken my friends advice to do a bit of homework first and look into what type of character I would be.

In the end, I took (what I thought was) the easy route and chose 'Barbarian' as - in my inexperienced logic - that would be an uncomplicated character and I wouldn't have to grapple with complicated skills or spells...I'd just 'bash things'! :)

In actual fact, I should have watched some of the terrific character generation 'how to' videos on YouTube so that I could make a more informed choice. But, in any case, for a Barbarian these videos are quite helpful primers...

The final quandary was 'what do I call my character'? It's really harder than it sounds and not just a case of 'uh, ya just make up a cool fantasy sounding name'.

Thing is, if you haven't played a role playing game before getting into the right spirit is a little hard. I mean, when was the last time you 'played' at being something?

Getting 'into it' takes the longest part, but by the end of the evening you will be uttering clich├ęd sword & sorcery oaths with the best of them (and maybe even trying out a funny voice, but that's optional)!

This next video is quite possibly the very best D&D primer for new players ever made...

In the end I chose the name 'Broon' (as in The Broons) as my character's name. And I even came up with a shallow backstory for him...

'Broon was born of peasant parents in a mountain hamlet in the far North. He did not want to raise sheep like his father and ran off to seek his fortune as a 'great warrior' when he was young. Joining the militia of a northern Baron, Broon found himself guarding the battlements of his lord's castle while the army went off to fight the great war and he never saw any real fighting. 
On his lord's return, the war over, Broon was dismissed from service and not having won any plunder or gained a reputation for himself he soon became a penniless wandering vagabond. Eventually, he found menial employment cleaning tables and acting as a part-time ostiaries [doorman] in a run-down tavern. 
It was here that he overheard a group of adventurers who were on the look out for some 'cheap muscle' and he introduced himself as a 'former soldier'...'

Broon's motivation: He desperately needs to prove himself and become the 'great warrior' that he always dreamed he would be. To this end, he often embellishes his military service in an attempt to ingratiate himself into some of the hardened gangs and groups of adventurers that frequented the tavern where he worked. His goal is fame and wealth.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any picture or make notes about my first adventure (but will do in future), but - basically - our small group helped a shopkeeper rid himself of some nasty visitors who were destroying his stock. These turned out to be 'Grey Ooze'...

'Gray oozes, like most oozes, are underground dwelling, mindless scavengers who drag themselves around caves and sewers and absorb and digest whatever they find. Unlike some other oozes, it cannot move on ceilings or walls, and hence is left to slide its way along floors. The gray ooze attacks by striking like a snake until prey is either dead or unconscious, and it then moves on top of them to digest them from within.
It is immune to cold and fire. The gray ooze's acidic secretions corrode metal at an alarming rate, and in addition to giving the creature a method of destroying opponent's weapons and armor, blacksmiths also sometimes use jarred gray oozes to meld ore into the right shape. Gray oozes reproduce by breaking small driplets off of themselves after a meal, which later grow into gray oozes themselves.' Source: Wikipedia

I got lucky and managed to help destroy a couple of these nasty little creatures and survive my first adventure. The downside was that I discovered that simply bashing a pile of grey goo (in true low-brow barbarian fashion) is perhaps not the best strategy as it resulted in the melting of my trusty great axe!

However, as simplistic as 'bashing stuff' seem a strategy for my character (and as logical it seems in some situations) I tried not to over-think my character and do some stuff that seemed illogical because I think that's what my character would instinctively do. Never mind what 'I' would do.

For this I managed to not only live to fight another day, but also won 100 XP and 10 gold!

Not a bad evening's adventuring for a novice! :)

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Battlefield 5 (or BFV if you like), thoughts.

I've laid off making any comment about the new (forthcoming) Battlefield V as the announcement 'trailer' was little more than a mishmash of scripted scenes to wet our appetite and there was little that really too us how the game would actually play.

Well, that's changing as we are starting to see some brief examples of actual (presumably test) game play. Here's a glimpse from the game blogger 'Jackfrags'...

My Thoughts...
OK, I admit I had some reservations about certain aspects of the game when I saw EA's original announcement trailer, but let's not start with the criticisms, let's start wth the positives...

This game looks amazing (note 'looks')! Building on Battlefield 1 and Battlefront EA have really developed a beautiful looking game world in which to play. The BFV featured in the above video ('Narvik') looks spectacular and highly detailed and immensely immersive. Likewise, the audio sounds terrific and will certainly give the appropriate accompanying cacophony of war.

The V-1 'call-in' feature is quite spectacular, and loud! Source: Jackfrags
Spectacular action in Norway. A British Bren gunner advances while over-
head a RAF Blenheim bomber drops a load on German positions. Wow!
Source: Jackfrags.
Lovely touch here, a dusk view in Norway showing the Northern Lights!
Source: Jackfrags
The character movement and weapons like very polished (but should be) AND I love the new game mode of the 'Grand Campaign', gaming clans will appreciate having something as in-depth as this new mode - taking place over several 'days' - as it would make a really cooly league-table event.

A snap of the view entering 'Narvik' in day-time. Source: Jackfrags

Very cinematic views and events! Here a Blenheim bomber crashes in very
spectacular fashion. Source: Jackfrags

But...(There is always a 'but')...
Unfortunately, this preview of gameplay reinforced some of my initial worries about the nature of 'historical accuracy' in the game.

British 'paratroopers' ready to jump into action! Into Narvik? Wearing Brodie
helmets? ...WTF is going on? Source: Jackfrags

For me, alarm bells started ringing when I saw the wild mix of weapons and vehicles that were included in the trailer video. Items ranged from the entirety of the six years of WW2, from early war British Valentine tanks to 1943 era the German Tiger tank. 'Technically' EA is skating on thin ice, as while these particular tanks could have appeared together in a battlefield, it seems more like EA have 'cherry-picked' weapons from the whole of WW2 to suit their ideas for weapon classes.

A British soldier takes out a Tiger tank with a Panzerfaust in Norway. If that
doesn't blow your mind... Source: Jackfrags
...And from the same map, a British Valantine (Mk. 9). Technically, this
shouldn't appear along side a Tiger 1 (online *very* rare circumstances
would this have actually happened, but NOT in Norway). Source: Jackfrags

This 'casual' approach to historical accuracy was further illustrated in the gameplay preview video, with the odd juxtaposition of the map of a famous 1940 battle (Narvik) featuring weapons - like the famous German StG 44 assault rifle - from the later half of the war. Again, EA seems to be acknowledging and maintaining it's strategy of giving players exciting and 'useful' weapons to play with no matter whether they are strictly accurate from a historical point of view.

In BF1 EA eventually just seemed to give up (of give in) and added some really exotic weapons to improve 'run and gun' gameplay that were either extremely rare or even prototypes and never featured  in mainstream use (or at all) in the way EA implies in the game. According to EA's history boo, every soldier had a submachine gun or assault rifle in WW1!

This compromise over 'fun' and excitement over accuracy seems to be equally evident in BFV, unlike games like 'Day of Infamy' who take a much more realistic approach to how they arm player characters. Sadly, EA also seem to have opted for a 'symmetrical' weapons issue system as you can clearly see British characters using StG 44s in the video (unless they are allowing players to pick up enemy weapons).

British paras using German StG 44s? Source: Jackfrags

All, in all I found this Pre-Alpha gameplay (and I must emphasis it IS pre-Alpha, so things will probably change)  an unsettling mixed bag of WW2 'flavours'...Like a smorgasbord of a menu of places, characters and objects from across six years of war compressed into a few minutes ('Oh there's Dunkirk (blink), oh, now it's D-Day!').

I understand it makes for exciting and varied gameplay, but I would have much rather they had, instead, gone for a full-blown 'alternative reality' and based the game in the popular '1946' genre, that way they could have included as many fanciful weapons as they liked and nobody could complain about the accuracy of their inclusion.

Hopefully, things will settle down and become more clear as we get further examples of gameplay.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Sunday Solo RPG Session

Sunday morning seems the ideal time to try out a game of Random Solo Adventure Fantasy Dungeon. It's nice and quiet and there's not a lot of jobs to be done, I can relax and concentrate on the rules and work out my first solo RPG uninterrupted...

As I mentioned in my previous post, RSA is a small step up from the classic Fighting Fantasy books as it allows a modicum of the traditional dice and character generation characteristic of more advances RPG games, like D&D. But it's all geared for simplicity and the absence of a 'dungeon master' controlling the narrative.

In effect, the book is a 'dumb DM' which outlines the story, while giving a set number of choices in order to resolve events, these choices are resolved by the familiar FF 'If choice 'A', then go to page 'X' formula.

Still, the addition of character attributes and dice rolling to resolve combat give you a slight sense of full-blown RPG.

The Journey Begins...
My journey begins at the 'Two Headed Werewolf' guest house (ominous start)...

"In the early morning you are woken up by some commotion downstairs. As you reach the lower floors, you see the in-keeper [spelling!] and his wife caring for a wounded man on the floor."

And so as the story unfolds we come to our first set of 'decisions' about what to do next (determined by a dice roll)...

Well, let's see how I progress with my very first role playing adventure. No, it's not D&D, the depth of the system just isn't up to that standard, but it's a nice introduction for a RPG-noob like myself!

To be continued...

Monday, 21 May 2018

I'm Back, Solo RPG Games

Another role of the dice!
Yes, it's been a long while, but it's been a funny year. Basically, I have drifted in and out of ill health and been variously enthused for hobby stuff for a short spurt before dropping back into the doldrums. There have been periods when I have done little more than watch TV and my man cave (come games room) has fallen into disuse.

Maybe it's the sunny weather but recently I've started getting a bit more energetic and motivated and have started returning to some of my old hobbies.

So...What have I been up to game wise recently?
I've always been 'D&D-curious', but my sheepishness has always stopped me jumping onboard. I did try recently to join a local D&D group, but found the experience hugely intimidating. It's not that the group weren't friendly to newcomers, it's just that you could tell they had been gaming together for a long time (with very developed characters) and so it was a very scary prospect to try and break into this.

Dungeons & Dragons (minus the group of nerds playing it), right away it's
apparent complexity scares the bejeezus out of newcomers?

What to do then? Well, I decided to look about at what solo options there were for RPGing, thinking that this might get my foot in the door and build up my confidence. Surprisingly, my problem with breaking into group D&D seems to affect quite a lot of would be RPGers as there is quite a lot written on the subject a many YouTube videos giving numerous gaming options for lone players.

Starting Out n My Adventure...
Where to begin when you are a beginner, that's the question! Well, I watched several YouTube videos about where to start with solo RPG adventures and I eventually decided to start at the beginning. Yes, that is as obvious as it sounds, but there's absolutely no use trying to start with some of the solo modifications of regular RPGs (for example, there are ways to fudge normal D&D so you can play it solo) as these actually - on occasion - actually make the games more complicated to play!

The beginning, as it happens, is probably already familiar to us but we just didn't think of it...Fighting Fantasy books. Remember those from school? You started reading the adventure at the beginning of the book then you chose different outcomes or actions for your character by opting to 'go to page x' to resolve the consequences of your chosen action.

This is perhaps the most simple and most restricting and linear form of RPGing. The books had minimal 'replay factor' and were very linear and scripted (naturally) and this doesn't interest me now as I want something as simple to get into but which introduces me to some of the features of more advanced RPG games.

After a bit of an online search I think I found what I was looking for in Random Solo Adventures. Again, these are book based but add some basic mechanics like character creation, character stats and attributes, weapon attributes and dice rolling. I found these on

There are several' 'books' (which are available cheaply as downloadable PDF documents) covering various fantasy and sci-fi sub-genres, so I started out with a classic dungeon quest and also a more Milgeek-like post-apocalyptic narrative...

Some of the Random Solo Adventure titles.

The Random Solo Adventure can be downloaded in PDF format and played
from your computer screen or printed out to make a 'book'.
I'm having a go at these this week with a plan to slowly introduce myself to more complex solo adventuring systems eventually. One thing I have my eye on is a relatively new system especially designed for solo play called 'Journey to the Overland'. This is more of your traditional heroic-fantasy dungeon quest type of RPG, but has a game mechanic more akin to things like D&D than the simple books that I am starting with...

So, there we go. I'm dipping my toe into the water with RPG (that's not computer based). This should be interesting and I hope that I will start posting regularly again here and that I will start with a review of the Random Solo Adventures that I'll be playing. :)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

7D2D - Spooky Adventures!

I'm starting to get to grips with 7 Days to Die, to the point where I am considering starting a new game, with a new map seed and with the game difficulty a little higher. But, in the meantime, I want to try out my new base design on a few Horde Nights to test its construction. (Despite the fact I am only just completing it I have already spotted some things which need tweaking or improving.)

This build is taking me so long because I keep adding bits on. What started as an idea for a simple 'keep' has blossomed into a small castle!

I'm also venturing further and further afield in search of new cities to loot. This has made me realize just how big the map really is and I wish they allowed you to build a sort of 'Mad Max' style microlight aircraft...That would be cool.

Despite finding four cities now, I am still coming across new and interesting 'special' buildings. My latest raid to a far-flung location delivered a very nice surprise...

There was a very nice haul of loot in the bank, which made the long drive worthwhile (over 2 hours in-game time) but it still niggles me that I have not come across a single gun store yet!

Single-player Psychosis!
One aspect of these sort of large-scale RPG 'explore and loot' games is that when they are played single player they can be a little 'spooky' at times. I guess that actually lends to the sense of being a lone survivor in a post-apocalyptic world, but it can cause you to get a little jumpy sometimes.

Last night I got completely creeped out when I exploring a town and I found another minibike! It reminded me of the book 'Robinson Crusoe' when he discovered the footprints of another person on his beach...That feeling of not being alone was decidedly eeie!

Is somebody else here?
It took me quite a few moments to eventually realise that my game had not been invaded by some interloper, but that I had abandoned this bike some time ago when I was killed when I first discovered this town!

...This is what happens when you play a game like this late at night on your own! :D

The End is Neigh!
As I said, I'm starting to get that feeling that I've broken the back of the game at this difficulty level now. Even Horde Nights are not that much of the challenge that they were. However, I'll continue a bit longer with this particular game as I still want to try out a few things, such as electrical items.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

7D2D - Sky High Loot

While the primary focus of 7 Days to Die is that seventh-day horde and you have to always be aware of that looming event there are lots of other things to for you to do. I really enjoy the exploration and looting across a large map.

There's nothing quite as exciting as spotting a new special point of interest!

The game has some very interesting special points of interest for you to raid, each with its own challenges and dangers. This week I took on one of the enormous skyscraper buildings that appear in the cities, there are several different types and each has its own particular theme, from pharmaceutical corporate headquarters to a construction site.

You can spend a whole day - or even multiple days - searching through these towering death traps and naturally, they are all occupied by the usual motley collection of hungry undead.

My first high-rise adventure presented me with a bit of a conundrum as most of the stairways to the top floors - where I suspected the best loot was to be had - were partially destroyed. Luckily I came armed with the 7D2D 'Swiss Army Knife - the wooden frame (and plenty of them) so I was eventually rewarded with this stunning view from the building's upper floors...

Clearing the tower floor by floor had already rewarded me with some reasonable loot, but as the danger escalated - with partially constructed and semi-destroyed floors - so the quality of the finds got better and better. So when I was presented with a terrifying obstical course to navigate I knew that there was going to be something special at the end to make its negotiation well worthwhile...

My trip up the tower was definitely not without its squeaky bum moments, 'special' zombies made more frequent appearances as I got closer to the top and I broke my ankle twice as I fell through dodgy floors (luckily I also came prepared with a number of splints). But my major advesary was time and it took two separate visits to this location to conquer the summit!

Even then the adventure ended with an Indiana Jones-style get-away as night-time fell as I made my final descent laden with my ill-gotten prizes. I only just avoided an angry wandering horde in the ground-floor lobby and made my get-away in a cloud of dust on my mini bike! Phew!

But it was all worth it and this was a well-spent couple of days out of my schedule as my haul copped me - amongst other goodies - my very first all purple quality weapons...

My first all-purple weapon.
Stuffed to the gunnels with loot it took me a while to sort and then put together my booty and decide what I was going to keep and what I was going to sell on for a tidy profit. My now numerous storage boxes are starting to get more and more organized as I collect a plethora of different types of items, here's just one of my weapon crates...

I now try not to fill each crate to the gunnels as that makes things harder to
find. Rather I leave space between types of items to make them easier to see.
I can't wait to get this beauty out next horde night...

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...
After the excitement of my raid, it was actually nice to spend a day 'relaxing' at the construction site of my new base. This day proved to be just as productive, though, as I finally completed my 'phase 2' concrete fence around my compound. Better still was that I managed to attract the attention of a Screamer Zombie who in turn called up a mini-horde of nasties...Just what I needed to test my new barrier!

Conveniently, although the zombies could not get through my fence, once
dispatched their corses fell through, making it easy for me to loot them in safety!

The pleasant surprise was that my fence design worked perfectly, just how I hoped it would (I was a bit worried as I noticed a similar design in a YouTube video which had some crucial additions which my barrier didn't).

The premise is that the barrier (3000 strength concrete 'poles') would hold off a voracious horde - who I hoped would not be able to crawl through the gaps - while I would be able to have at them with my barbed club with impunity...It worked!

On cue, a single Spider Zombie tried to crawl under the lower posts but couldn't and presented his head as a very easy target for a good bashing. My only disappointment was that swinging my club sometimes made contact - and so damaged - my own barrier instead of the heads of the zombies. But, to get around this I switched to my Hunting Knike to stab through the gaps instead.

I may have to invest in the Machete now to up my 'entity damage' as my Hunting Knife doesn't do anywhere near the same damage to zombies as my beloved Spiked Club does. (Hunting Knife damage: (Current) 15 - Spiked Club damage (Max): 30 - Machete damage (Max): 30.)

Postscript: I later got a chance to try out my theory that the machete would compliment the concrete barrier...And it worked! The extra length of the machete blade allowed me to reach the zombies through the barrier and also caused greater damage...

Monday, 25 September 2017

7D2D - Day 91 Horde

Nightvision woes!
Is it me or is it the game? It seems crazy that when you activate night vision when using the sniper rifle that the sniper scope remains normal vision and therefore you can't see anything!

Surely, it would have made more sense that when using night vision that the sniper scope would them become a 'night scope' too? Or maybe I just haven't found the button for that? Anyway, this video - which shows the complete Day 91 Horde Night (21 minutes worth) illustrates the problem I am having...


As I say in the video, my plan was to use the sniper rifle to engage the incoming zombies further out and then to switch to the shotgun only if they got as far as my perimeter. But, I just couldn't see the zombies at a distance and had to take mid-range snapshots with my rifle instead.

Yes, I could have turned on the rifles torch, but the beam of that does not extend as far as I want (maybe I need a searchlight?)

I will try and come up with a solution to this problem for my next base, maybe by creating an additional barbed wire barrier further out so I can snipe long-range.