February 25th, 2010


Reading - The Silence Room

This is a collection of short stories by Sean O'Brien who is apparently a poet from Newcastle, in that he lives there having obviously recognised the Rio of the North for its potential. The Silence Room is a room in the library and almost all the stories have some resonance, or even a scene in or around the library or writing. I think there was only one I didn't like but several that were really rather good and I'd recommend this to anyone who like slightly spooky but not necessarily resolved stories. And as you'd expect from a poet, the use of language is generally spot on, unlike this review which is pretty light.

Gaming - Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies

It was John's turn to run a game tonight and so we had our second taste of PDQ which we'd last encountered in a rather more simplified format in Truth & Justice two years ago. It's a big fat book, especially for an indie game and although much of it is setting, there's enough crunch that you can't get by on just 30 minutes reading on the train to work. I do have a few criticisms about the layout in that it's not immediately clear how all the stuff at the top of the character sheet works in the same way, and the book could do with some more examples of what is meant by Past for example.

But John had put in the appropriate amount of time and so we got away without any trouble really. Still, I think it took about 40 minutes to do character generation although I think it would be much quicker on a second go.

We had 4 PCs, a parrot riding cavalier, an obsessive teutonic pedant, and a couple of nobles slumming it, one who had fallen, the other who chose to slum it, and our ship, the Indefatigable (or Indy for short).

The system was grasped fairly quickly although there is still some confusion over the currency, confusingly called dice when tokens might have been better, and there seem to be two kinds. And why do you roll 2 dice sometimes and three dice at other times (duels or not duels)? So not perhaps quite as smooth as our first encounter with the system.

However, it was a very fun game to play. By the time you've created a character, you have someone who fits very well into the milieu and also is designed to operate in the correct swashbuckling idiom, be it bloodthirsty, panache, desparation or cluelessness.

John kept us well supplied with appropriate adversaries and we in turn did all the silly moves you could imagine such as twirling a dwarf overboard by his moustache, impregnating another character's sister or using the excuse of cleaning the inside of a canon as a big defensive bonus against some angry enemy sailors.

I'd willingly play it more.
Tea-drinker par excellence

And it goes tekeli-li

That's the sound of one's own little trumpet.

The Armitage Files, Robin Laws' new Trail Of Cthulhu setting book, is now available. Here's a quote from the back cover.

Formless Fears!
The Armitage Files presents a boldly innovative way to generate blood-chilling adventures for your Trail Of Cthulhu investigators. Players seize on clues presented in the ten mysterious documents.

They choose which leads to track down. The Keeper, using clearly broken down step-by-step techniques introduced in this volume, improvises suitably mind-blasting mysteries in response to their choices. Weave these together into an epic campaign of madness, dread and danger.

Terror Between the Lines!
Mystery takes on written form when pages from a disturbing manuscript fall into the investigators’ hands. Can your mind correlate the awful beauty of 10 stunningly distressed handouts realized by acclaimed illustrator Sarah Wroot? A series of scrawled messages, comprising a free-floating cacophony of facts, speculations, and fevered imaginings, portends cryptic doom. Preliminary inquiries reveal that they are written in the hand of Dr. Henry Armitage, director emeritus of the Mistakonic University Library.

Components of Calamity!
Combine the documents with pre-prepared elements such as supporting characters (in sinister, heroic or in between versions), organizations, locations and artifacts to create your unique version of the Armitage Files. An article on improvising GUMSHOE, by Steve Dempsey, shows you how.

With clear advice to players and Keepers on improvisation, extensive examples and advice, following the Trail of Cthulhu Will Never Be the Same Again!

Seek it at your discerning local game store, or via the web from Pelgrane Press or IPR.