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Jun. 20th, 2011

Saturday - a drive in the country

...or rather, a day marshalling at the Rally of the Midlands.

Sitting in the rain, or lazing in the sun?... Collapse )

Jun. 6th, 2011

Maelstrom event 2

Back on April 26th I posted http://oldnick.livejournal.com/206717.html a brief and slightly cryptic report on the first event on the year, fully expecting that today I would be posting a more complete report, now that everything had crept out of the woodwork. Well, the woodwork is fully occupied, my missing character is being court-martialled (in absentia) for desertion and dereliction of duty, and while the players involved are still having so much fun with the bit of story I've generated I'm keeping absolutely quiet over what actually happened.

Suffice it to say, I spent this event playing a Mokosh Builder from Lyzanium, playing as a solo character with none of the support of a group - a major departure having played the same character in the same group since the first event of the system. It was also a masked event for me - and having only ordered the mask a very short time before the event I am very happy with it - but had to make various adjustments to make it comfortable over glasses. The good news was that I managed to wear it all of the time I was in an IC area, apart or briefly raising it occasionally to add/remove my glasses before I had completed the adjustments.

Playing solo was harder work. I had deliberately picked the colony with the fewest players that I knew of, in a crafting part of the game I knew nothing of. I based myself from the bar - spending a good part of the Friday & Saturday sitting outside with a pathetic hand-written notice advertising my skills. Even in game, it was interesting watching the responses to this - especially from behind a very concealing mask. As I started making contacts I managed to get into my game, and by the end of the event had enough work to keep me busy through this downtime.

I'm not sure however how long I will be able to keep it up. Solo play in that system is hard work, and although a group has offered to take me in, it is not a bunch I know. I'll keep it up while the story that my old character's disappearance has generated plays out, then review the situation. Working from the bar too was hard work after a while - while food and drink are right to hand, that can be just too tempting to enjoy.

So, an odd Maelstrom in some respects - very satisfying in part, very hard work in others, and not really s long term option in its current form.

May. 31st, 2011

GEF Weekend - organised chaos.

Last Monday at work, walking up stairs, I put my foot down a little awkwardly and strained a calf muscle. I had a day-long meeting to attend, so I limped around as little as possible, sat down most of the dya, and tried to ignore it. This, of course, didn't work. Neither, by Tuesday, did my leg, so Tuesday was pent largely at home, apart for brief and painful trips to the shops, primarily for a tube of Ibuprofen gel, and also for food.

I was well aware that this was not a good preparation for running around in fields in Derbyshire.

Add to this, I had a meeting to go to in St Ives, near Huntingdon, on Saturday. 95 miles from the field by the quickest route. My original plan had been to head to Locko on Friday afternoon, leave at stupidly early o'clock on Saturday morning, drive to Huntingdon, attend the meeting, drive back and get back on site in time for a good part of Saturday evening. Now, driving was the least of my worries - even on Monday & Tuesday it was fairly comfortable, on the grand scale of things. However wrapping it around with pitching tents, LRPing, and not enough sleep didn't seem a bright idea.

I compromised, went on line and looked for a cheap hotel near the A14 - and found the George in Huntingdon. £20 B&B on Friday, slightly more on Saturday only about 5 miles from the meeting. Ideal. I could miss the Friday and Saturday of the GEF, take my time and relax, pick up minimum kit from home on Sunday on my way to the event, and give my leg a couple more days to recover before stressing it on the field.

The hotel turned out to be excellent, an old coaching inn around a courtyard, 24 rooms, decent food and ale, old fashioned , slightly shabby, and with excellent staff. It was busy, their bargain rate was clearly filling rooms, and although I have no particular liking for Huntingdon, the location was ideal.

The meeting too went well. A quick recce on Friday evening found the venue and the parking. My leg was recovering nicely, and St Ives is a very pleasant little town. I even had time to get my hair cut - well overdue. On Saturday, after a very pleasant breakfast, I pottered over to St Ives, met up with some friends (sans LJ) for the exhibition before the AGM, and then a long slow pub lunch, and then attended the meeting. Afterwards, back to Huntingdon for a lazy evening.

Sunday, a fast drive of just over an hour back to Coventry after a late breakfast, was followed by laoding upt he car, and another fast run up to Locko. With the wet weather forecast I decided not to bother with a tent, but to sleep on the back seat of thee car, so once I got on site, kitted up, and did th necessary (and very quick and efficient) admin I dropped straight into play.

It turned out I'd missed a huge amount of PvP, not involving the Harts faction, and I almost immediately walked straight into a lump of faction plot. Having, in character, just arrived from Albion, within an hour I was back there, organising the immediate reaction to a fae attack. From then on until I crashed out at about 01:00 I was busy all through. The calf twinged a bit, and slightly slowed me down, but apart from discouraging me from dashing off on linears was no real problem.

Monday morning, and I was woken by the noise of heavy rain drumming on my car roof. After a bit of a lie-in I wandered down tot he marketplace to buy breakfast, and then back up to camp for Privy council. With the rain making the ground very slippery, the major fight of the day was called off, so Monday was a bit less exciting and busy than Sunday, so once the closing ceremony had happened, I was keen to be away fairly quickly. With no tent and minimal kit I was ready quickly, and waited a while before giving wyzziwig a lift to Derby railway station.

Back to Coventry, and in time for the weekly WoW Monday night raid - a small affair with many people away for the Bank Holiday, a lot of fun, with a group new to some recent content. Zul'Gurub beat us eventually, but not before we had downed one boss, and I had looted a very nice belt.

So - a busy weekend, but tempered by being sensible. All in all a lot of fun.

Apr. 26th, 2011

Home, Maelstrom recovery time.

Back from Maelstrom, after an excellent event.

I'm not going to say a lot about the events of the event. Some will know that at the end my character is missing again. He's gone missing before, but this time he went missing at lunchtime on the final day. Until downtime has been and gone that's about all that I'll be saying about that subject.

Apart from that, it was hot, sunny, dusty, busy, challenging, fun, and a lot more good things.

More later

Feb. 9th, 2011

It's a small world.

I'm short of sleep at the moment. I sleep well - it's not insomnia, no, it's a self inflicted lack of sleep caused by curiosity at one of those 'small world' coincidences that crop up in genealogy.

Read more...Collapse )

Jan. 31st, 2011


Wilderhope Manor - aka the Cardini House in the New World.

A Flembic player event weas always going to interest me. One run at Wilderhope Manor, an imposing Elizabethan Manor on Wenlock Edge in Welsh Marches, owned by the National Trust was something I wouldn't miss. The fact that this would e (IC) run by the duelling club (a group I approve of thoroughly but which I don't take part in due to my innate clumsiness), and would be largely focussed around a masked ball (see above reason for largely not dancing either) didn't spoil my enthusiasm, but instead pointed me at making sure I was busty with other activities.

Back in November I bought a new mask, and in between came up with a costume to match the Chiaroscuro theme that would be, initially at least, slightly menacing, and clearly not suitable for dancing. I also planned an alternative to the duelling that would keep me indoors through that period - an in-character wargame, capable of being played repeatedly, in under an hour each time. This was based on the popular DBA wargames rules, customised to fit the setting, and simplified even further, so that it could be played, with a full-time referee, by people who had never seen or read the rules. Figures were purchased and painted, largely out in my car with the radio on, sitting by a canal so that I wouldn't be distracted by other things at home.

On Friday morning there were slight problems at work, and I eventually got to Wenlock Edge at dusk, a little later than planned. It was a lovely sunset - but straight in my face all the last few miles along the Edge, so less enjoyable than I would have hoped. On arrival I settled in, helped a little bit with set dressing, and with the check-in process.

Friday night was a gentle, sociable session, Saturday somewhat busier. A late and pleasant surprise was that kt_peasant was attending, so the Dottore and Maddy managed to spend time enjoying the comfortable chairs in the parlour between all the running around. The game ran well on Saturday - playing six or seven games over a five hour period even continuing after tea was served.

Before dinner, a very entertaining period was fitted in, reorganising the table plan. The original plan had three key people in fixed positions, and the rest added arbitrarily. People could challenge any seat-holder for their seat, and if the challenge was successful their places would be swapped. As the deadline approached the pace speeded up and one poor (if presumptuous and IC irritating) wemic was bounced around to ensure that he ended up off the high table, and that other people ended up next to suitable partners.

Dinner was entertaining. although the food wasn't that thrilling. The toasting game went well, my two toasts seeming to go down well. The ball was all it should be, with the Dottore in an (IC) grump, largely avoiding the dancing, but having some very strange conversations, and managing to insult a number of people while masked and unrecognisable. A few discussions were quite complimentary about the mask and costume arrangement. The ball over, the comfy chairs provided a very pleasant end to the evening.

Sunday was clearing up and leaving by lunchtime. A decent lunch was had at a pub on Wenlock edge, and a sleepy Nick headed back for Coventry.

As usual, the fun in Maelstrom events came from the core group of players I get to play with. This time, although the player base was much smaller than usual, with about 70 attendees the confined nature of the event actually meant that I got to play more closely with a slightly larger group. The usual suspects though were as wonderful as ever.

Nov. 15th, 2010


One odd little nugget I picked up from a local history course a few years ago was a tale from someone who had been working int he city centre during the 'Coventry Blitz' - the first major bombing raid on Coventry, that killed upward of 600 people on 14th November 1940, 70 years ago yesterday. He spoke of walking home in the early morning, and getting out of the city centre, to be shocked by the hard frost on the ground, from that clear moonlit night. He had been unaware how cold it was, fromt he heat of the fires started by the incendiary bombs dropped in the third wave of the raid.

It was a clear moonlit night last night, and I was in the centre of Coventry. While chatting on Facebook about it I remarked on it not being as cold as reported in 1940. When I got up this morning, and went out to my car, there was a good hard frost on it, perhaps the night was more like that 1940 night than I had realised at the time.

It was a busy weekend for me, and one that ended up with a spur of the moment stop off in the centre of Coventry to take a few photographs of the commemorations on that night. In fact pretty well everything over the weekend had come from spur of the moment decisions - even if the ideas had been planted well in advance. About all that was really planned was Saturday afternoon at the rugby.

Friday afternoon was spent in the depths of rural Warwickshire working on some model making. Friday was scenery, with lots of glue and controlled mess. Back there again by lunchtime on Saturday to tidy up from Friday once the glue had set. Saturday morning had also involved a visit to the re-enactors market, where very little was bought, but plenty of chat occurred wit visitors expected and unexpected.

The rugby was terrific. Two high scoring teams cancelling each other out, resulting in a hard tight game, decided (in Coventry's favour) by one point, following a late converted try. Coventry 17 Blackheath 16. All the players coming off looked as if they had been in a battle - it's a long time since I;ve seen quite so many black eyes and cut faces. The only shame was that the light was so poor, it's going to be hard work sorting out suitable programme photos this week

Following the rugby I had a difficult decision. I intended to be in Spalding on Sunday, and htere was a party in Birmingham on Saturday night. If I went to the party by train I could drink, but probably couldn't drive early enough in the morning (if I was even up). I could skip the party, and be awake, I could go, drink coke, drive home, and be tired in the morning. Eventually, I had a brainwave - I'd drive, be sensible, and head back to bed good and early.

So, when the party (at which there were loads of people I;d not seen for ages, and much good chatting happened) started to move on towards clubbing, and I was wide awake (and caffeine fueled from all the Diet Pepsi) and sober, I decided to drive over to Peterborough that night, have a lie-in in the morning, and only have a short drive on Sunday morning. The theory was good, the practice slightly crazy. I'd not planned a route,a nd while I know the route from Coventry well there isn't a good obvious route from central Birmingham. I headed towards the M42, and the A45 was closed for an accident - the journey didn't start well. Eventually though I was there, I slept well, leaving my photographs from the rugby uploading to the web.

Sunday was fun. I woke at about ten, reached Spalding in good time, met up with some friends,a nd generally had a good day before setting off back. I stopped on the outskirts of Coventry for a bite to eat, and it was then I decided to head down into the centre for the remembrance events.

Nov. 8th, 2010

an excursion to London - or WIDbeforeTW (2 weekends ago)

A few weeks back, following one of those nights of raiding on World of Warcraft were it is clear that people are working to two separate agendas, an email arrived letting me know about a pubmeet for the guild down in London, last Thursday. I looked at my diary, considered the impact of missing my regular Thursday evening, and decided that attending and then taking a day off work on the Friday would e the best solution.

So, Thursday evening, I left work on time (for once, or at least for the first time in a week), headed off to Warwick Parkway station, parked up, and headed south.

That's not to say there wasn't a fair degree of planning first. Chiltern Railways trains down to Marylebone vary in price quite dramatically so they are best pre-booked, plus I'd need an hotel. When I'd last been in London I'd spotted a new hotel under construction (or at least, conversion in an existing building). A far-eastern hotel company, Tune Hotels, hadn't quite brought a capsule hotel to central London, but had gone almost as far with what I've later seen travel writers describe as the Ryanair model of hotel rooms.

Now, I like the Ryanair mode. Yes, you have to pay extra for thing that normally you'd think of as standard, but I have always found the costs clear up front, and often have found they allow me not to select items that I don't need. This hotel chain promised the same - a basic en-suite room with a high quality bed, and virtually everything else a chargeable option.

A couple of hours after leaving Warwick I was at Marylebone. All was well, apart from realising I'd left my Oyster card in Coventry, so had to pay 'tourist rates' for my trip down to the City. It wasn't long before I was in a huge Wetherspoons, had ordered beer and a curry, and was happily frothing away about Warcrack. It also wasn't that long before the evening was over, and I headed for Lambeth North tube, and the 20 yards walk the hotel.

Check in was efficient - the extras I'd ordered were ready, TV activated, wifi ID ands password, and a towel and toiletries in a take-away-meal style paper carrier bag. The room was tiny, well organised, and spotlessly clean - to be fair, the hotel has only been open for a couple of months.

To give an idea of the room, the bed (a Hypnos double) took up half of it. A quarter was taken by the 'pod' containing the toilet and shower, and a quarter was open floor, allowing the door to open into the room. 3 1/2 sides of the bed were against (or virtually so) a wall. The foot of the bed had a large window, a large flat screen TV, and a drop down shelf with a couple of power points inside - the nearest thing to a desk or a table in the room. The right hand side of the bed was the end wall of the room, the bed head was against the inside wall, and had a huge mirror and good lighting built in. The foot end of the left hand side of the bed was right next to the end wall of the toilet and shower pod.

Everything worked - although the wifi did drop out a couple of times. Other options (hairdryer, safe) were already plumbed in, but not activated. There was a mirror / coathooks / mini shelf unit behind the door. I needn't have bothered with hiring a towel - an adequate hand towel was supplied anyway, and the toiletries were a small soap bar, and a mini bottle of shampoo - both things I could have included easily in my hand luggage along with my toothbrush. The shower was excellent easy to use, warm immediately, and very stable, despite using it in the morning rush.

When I checked out in the morning, I wasn't surprised to be asked to fill in a customer survey - it was that sort of place. They got very good marks - the only criticism was of the wifi.

So, on with the rest of the break - an excellent breakfast at a nearby café I'd used on a previous visit, a trip to a favourite bookshop a short walk away behind Waterloo station, and then a half day at the Imperial War Museum. This last may have been a mistake - it was the final weekday of half term holidays, and the last week of the Horrible Histories Trench Warfare event, so the museum was packed out. Still, it was a good time since I'd spent any time there, and it's always an interesting place.

The train back from Marylebone was busy, but ran to time - or rather ahead of time until Banbury, where it had to wait for a while. I was home by mid-evening, ready for the weekend to begin.

Sep. 13th, 2010

Maelstrom - after the storm.

An odd weekend at Maelstrom.

Odd, partly because I chose to be off site for most of Saturday.
Odd partly because PD decided to ask for players to drop their characters for Sunday to come and monster.
Odd because, by doing this, they wrote off most of the Sunday game for most people.

Friday night was good, and people were happily playing away, IC & OC when I decided to get to bed, in the IC tent. I was tired enough to sleep through them, and only barely heard them shutting up the tent at some later time.

Saturday was great - off site enjoying myself for most of the day, having a bright idea on my way back onto site that worked a treat, getting hit with 'consequences' both of my own IC actions (good) and arbitrary consequences of the oddities of the Maelstrom downtime system (bad) and then finally the last uptime chapter of what seems to be called a 'plot arc' these days, which has been the highlight of my Maelstrom game over the past half dozen events. That bit of the Dottore's story hasn't ended, but the opportunity to play it has done, it'll now just have to be part of the tale he tells.

Sunday on the other hand was poor. As the colony's senior General I got to lead the forces on the field, and we came off victorious, and without any losses. I still seem to have a voice today too. That' a couple of 'win conditions'. As a game though, it was very poor. PD had asked for player volunteers to provide a monster crew, having set the event as having NPC hosts. We then stood around for what seemed to be hours before a poor fragmented battle occurred. Having beaten our hosts - Hive Majestic - we marched into the woods to destroy their queen and found nothing. Very unsatisfactory as a game. We got back to camp to find it looted (OC as well as IC in one case). This gripe is no criticism of the players who gave up their playing time to monster, purely of the central organisation of the day who set up a scenario where the PC forces were bound to do what they did, and the players to get bored as a result. Possibly a good simulation, but a poor game.

Overall then a weekend which was largely very good, but where the Sunday let it down. I'm already no convinced with the way the game is going - I'm getting the feeling that the direction of the high-level plots is getting less careful; I'll need to feel sure that it hasn't changed too far before booking next year.

So - thanks time, to finish with. kt_peasant for playing with my self-indulgent story arc, and the rest of the Flembic colony and especially Chiara, for letting me have my head on the battle field.

Aug. 23rd, 2010

Grand Tribunal 2010

An Ars Magica mini-convention in Cheltenham.

Back to Cheltenham this year, after our migration to Cambridge last year. We've settled into a pattern, where events will alternate between being included in a once-every-two years games convention in Cambridge, and the original format in Cheltenham.

So - Friday evening - out for a Chinese meal, then down the pub. A quick academic paper,m then beer and frothing.

Saturday - the main day. Too many things to fit into the time. If a venue opens at 10, it is not possible to fit an hour's events in, and have a costumed up and freeform running at 11. Davud Chart's (the line editor) message was read, the rest of session1 abandoned, and the freeform started. It was fun, my objectives were pretty much achieved, although had there been another half hour to play I doubt they would have remained so. For me, the evening session was spent on a playtest of something to appear in a later book. The NDA ensures that I can't say what, but it was a fun game. Finally, a game of Carcassonne.

Sunday - a morning session only, as someone else had the centre booked form two. Another playtest, also fun - possibly more fun as a game, but rather less use as a playtest. Then either off to the pub, or off homeward.I picked homeward, stopping off for an afternoon taking photographs, as it was a nice summery day. Up through the back roads from Toddington to Stratford, dinner in Stratford, and home.

All in all, a pleasant weekends games. Organisationally chaotic, mainly due to trying to fit too much into too few hours - both in the freeform, and overall, but fun. A small but excellent group of players and authors, which makes this event well worth attending.

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