Sunday, November 22, 2020

A Week in Shirts

I watched a video commentary on the move "Groundhog Day", and that got me thinking and gave me the idea of this rather self-indulgent post.

Thing is, I realised that on most weeks, I go through a rotation of the same clothes every week, based on the day of the week, as follows:


Let's start with a hobby-related shirt.

Mondays are RPG days, and this is the shirt I wear each week when I GM. It's an MCDM T-shirt that I got along with the Strongholds and Followers kickstarter. I'm not a "black T-shirt" kind of guy, so it's not like I have a chance to wear this outside of game nights.


So a few weeks back, I joined a taekwondo class, and this is my uniform. I've never been in a martial arts class or a sports team before, and I am pretty sure my instructors have never had a student this old join them before. It's not an easy class - the dojang is not a "McDojo" by any means, and the instructors are not taking it easy on me on account of my age - but I think an old man like me can do with the help in getting in shape and staying "coachable".


Or as the Germans call it, "mid-week", which I've always thought was ironic when they were the ones who gave us the cool "Wodensday".

Anyway, this is what I wear to work almost every single day, for more than two decades: a plain white shirt. It takes the thinking out of the "what to wear?" every morning.


Thursday evenings have been wargames night since the middle of this year, when Adrian, FG and I started our Frostgrave campaign. Again, this is the opportunity to wear a black T-shirt, in this case a Miniature Wargames magazine T-shirt from when I renewed my subscription (I think) many years ago.

As much as I enjoyed reading the magazine, it became impractical to store hard copies of literally decades worth of the magazine, and I never got the hang of reading magazines in soft copy. I still keep a few of the copies with articles that I particularly enjoyed though.


End of the work week for me. These days I am trying to spend an hour at least in the evening doing some training: strengthening, cardio, flexibility, and going through my taekwondo routines.

This is a sports polo that I received from my work during the 2015 ASEAN Paragames in 2015, one of the most stressful work assignments in my career (and that's counting COVID).


Saturday is family day, and I don the uniform of the average Singapore male on weekends: a polo shirt. It's formal enough to go into most restaurants on a weekend, and comfortable enough for long walks or errands.


A day of rest in theory, but in reality a busy day of cleaning, cooking (for the week), laundry - those white work shirts are a chore to iron every week - and hobby-related activities like painting, or prepping for the game the next day. On the weeks that my larder is well-stocked I don't even open my front door for the whole day. On days like that I wear the oldest T-shirts I have in the house: my army T-shirts. The last time I wore one of these as uniform was a decade ago. They are still incredibly comfy to lounge and sleep in after all these years.

So what has all this have to do with Groundhog Day you ask?

The point of Groundhog Day, the creator of the video I watched said, is that we are all like Phil: living the same experience from day to day, even if they were not exactly identical. What let Phil break out of the curse (?) of Groundhog Day, and what gave meaning to the otherwise repetitive days, weeks, months, or even years, is what we do with moments between the mundane, and whom we choose to spend the time with.

And I kinda agree.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #5

On the 27th Day of Lenzin,

Guild members Erik, Tamira, and Leowe (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Lennard in employment, explored the following barrows: 

#25 - Returning to the barrow they had explored the day before, the party overcame the skeletal undead in the burial chamber with the aid of Kellos' blessings, and recovered the grave goods therein.

The two other chambers within the barrow contained traps, which caused guild member Leowe to be wounded.

#35 - Exploring the barrow to the north of the Guild's lease, the party found it to be occupied by at least six men not of the guild; they were able to evade capture by the men with clever use of distraction.

#37 - A large mound, within a single large chamber with many burial alcoves. The inhabitants within reanimated when their grave goods were taken, and the party retreated as there were too many undead to do battle against.

#38 - A mound with a long corridor and a single chamber within; the corridor contained a cunning trap of swinging stone pillars, which wounded guild member Erik. Within the chamber the party recovered grave goods.

The hour being late, the party returned to the Guild.

Grave goods recovered were valued at 70 Gros, of which 24 Gros were disbursed to the members according to the terms of the contract.


Jeras, Guild Chronicler

Addendum: The matter of the unauthorised robbers being reported to Guild Master Hassel-Hoffa, the Master commanded that Guild Rangers be despatched to the mound the next day, and the intruders be expelled.

Prepping and Running the Game

A rather straightforward session, with the players spending some time in the first barrow trying out the Turn Undead power: they learned to hem the skeletons in with the spell, then picking off those on the periphery.

The session also featured a few traps, which I imagined to be of all-stone construction, mostly of the counterweight type, with the trigger held in place by stone doors or flagstones. In all the cases I gave the players enough clues as to the presence of the trap, and then when they still triggered the traps I used the 'click' rule and asked what their character did upon realising that they triggered something. This worked quite well, and I am likely to continue doing this in the future.

The second barrow they chose to explore caught me a little off guard. This barrow holds the entrance the Death cultists use to enter the barrowmaze, and I have it guarded by several cultists at all times - a hostile encounter with them would likely have caused several deaths, and if the remaining PCs fled then there would be no chance of the characters left behind surviving; in fact, they may be raised as zombies by the cultists. Fortunately for my players and I, they chose stealth, and despite Lennard (i.e. me) botching his stealth roll, the party was able to use a cantrip to sow confusion, and then roll really well on the 'run away!' roll.

This encounter brought up a pet peeve of mine in the fantasy genre, when the players asked if the men were "dressed like cultists". The depiction of cultists as people who wore a uniform, or some form of jewellery or tattoo as a form of identification always struck me as being stupid: these people are trying to hide their allegiance, not advertise it! Except for my VSF cultists (whom I take are depicted in their lair), I have always used 'civilian" figures to represent my fantasy cultists on the tabletop.

The third chamber held too many skeletons for the party to take on, and I was secretly glad that the players contemplated coming back with the other characters, or even a temporary alliance with 'The Fearsome Four', the rival party in the guild who were operating nearby; this shows that they see the game world as something that exists outside the immediate tactical concern, with people they can interact with.

The cultists having their entrance discovered by the guild certainly throws a wrench in their (and my) plans, and I will have to evacuate the barrow and find another one as their entry and exit... this will be interesting.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Thaw of the Lich Lord Game 8

Game 8 of the campaign was again a bit of a push-over, even though we doubled the number of zombies spawned by the Dark Cauldron. Part of the reason was because Adrian's barbarians charged right into the cultists and engaged them before to many zombies could spawn, which gave FG's medievals a chance to tip the cauldron over very early in the game. My skavens, entering the table from further away, did not even make it to battle. 

With just two more games left in the campaign, we should be able to wrap things up before the year ends. The next campaign we plan to play is a Blood Bowl league, using the latest version of the rules, which we will have to get and learn.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #4

On the 26th Day of Lenzin,

Guild members Leowe, Francis, and Kelso (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Lennard in employment, explored the following barrows:

#10 - A family crypt. The remains of the occupants rose when their grave goods were requisitioned, but they were vanquished by the members.

#19 - A large barrow, with an empty sarcophagus in the main chamber, before which was a pit trap. The members were able to avoid the trap, and find a hidden door leading to the true sarcophagus of a warrior, which was guarded by four bronze statues of warriors, which animated when the party attempted to remove the grave goods within the sarcophagus. The party was able to lure the animated warriors to the false burial chamber, where they fell into the pit trap, and recover the grave goods, which included a bronze longsword.

#29 - A covered mound.

#9 - Another covered mound.

#1 - Tomb of a couple, with scant grave goods.

#2 - Tomb where bodies were interred in shallow pits with their grave goods. The occupants rose as undead, but were defeated by the party.

#8 - A covered mound.

#13 - A collapsed mound.

#22 - A previously plundered tomb.

#24 - Tomb with two chambers; in the first the remains of ancient tapestries strewn upon the floor. The walls of the second chamber held many burial alcoves; the columns within the chamber animated into man-like forms, and drove the party out before they could recover the grave goods. 

#25 - A large tomb with a cruciform antechamber. Entering the room to their right, the party were attacked by many undead, and retreated.

The hour being late, the members returned to the Guild.

Grave goods recovered assessed to be 200 Gros in value, of which 60 Gros were disbursed to the members according to the terms of the contract.


Jeras, Guild Chronicler

Prepping and Running the Game

As you can see, the party made a lot of progress going through the mounds this session. Even if you discount the covered, plundered, and collapsed mounds, they still managed to loot four barrows, and partially explore two large barrows.

What is more remarkable here is how they have learned to innovate and try to overcome the opposition in each tomb by wit, instead of with brute force, which became a necessity when Leowe managed to roll a '1' when trying to cast his first spell for the day, followed by Francis doing the same soon afterwards. With no effective spells and no fighter in the party, they had to rely on their wits, or their willingness to retreat when the odds do not seem to be in their favour.

I was particularly impressed by the way they managed to put one and one together and came up with the scheme to lure the animated statues into the pit trap, effectively turning my own weapons against me.

They did not manage to find a way to overcome the opposition in the last two barrows, and I told them out of character that this being an old school dungeon, it was not unusual to retreat and come back another day.

One of the reasons why they were reluctant to retreat though was because of another element I added to the campaign.

At the start of the session I introduced a rival party in the guild, as the players had been asking about the other members in that guild. I made up a party of four, using the name 'The Fearsome Four' from the module, and made their leader an obnoxious wizard. At one point the two parties butted heads when the players wanted to explore a mound which the Fearsome Four staked a claim on. Thoughts of a member-vs-member fight were entertained, but the party was outnumbered, and I had also sent along some Guild "rangers" (NPC fighters tasked with catching illegal (i.e. non-Guild) tomb robbers), who kept an eye on the parties from a distance.

The players' efforts were rewarded, and their characters are now all level 2, which will make them more survivable. The various factions of the setting have also been introduced or hinted at, and the potential tensions between these established. This is timely, as I feel the "break in, kill undead, take their stuff" routine is beginning to wear a bit thin - having them keep an eye on people who might stab them in their backs while they do this will make things interesting.

Another moment which made the session great for me was when the players realised that the burials in the region are from civilisations that spanned across a long period, and began to speculate on the history of the place. I introduced the fact that one of the scripts encountered in their delving resembled the one used in the 'modern' Terrinoth language. This will hopefully see fruition in a future session, when they shall find the means of translating that language, as well as the even older one used by the ancient cultists.