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D&D 5th Ed – Icewind Dale – Chapter 2 Session 1

I’ve joined a 5th ed game with my Thursday group this is the write up of our last session by Dan Stavekey in verse

Chapter 2 – Session One

It could have been day, or perhaps it was night;
As Danrond awoke to nothing but white.
The sharp of the frost was beginning to bite, but two distant towns slowly crept into sight.
He embarked on the journey, with no time to lose,
And determined en-route which town he would choose.
He travelled for days, past rivers and rocks, and arrived, to encounter a man at the docks.
It had been an ordeal, and Danrond was spent, but this man at the docks just wouldn’t relent…
“Hurry now man, don’t be hanging about, you need to get out there and catch me some trout!”
As the man kept on shouting, with Danrond perplexed, this man was becoming increasingly vexed.
But his focus had been on the inside of his cup, until now when, unwittingly, his eyes glanced up…
And he cursed, and emitted a deflated sob, and said “damnit man! you’ve hardly come dressed for the job”.
“You clearly ain’t fishin’ until you get dry. There are taverns o’er there – you’d best swing by.”
So, Danrond stormed into ‘The Drunken Goose’, to find a table of strangers by the bar, cutting loose.
A motley crew, that looked ill at ease, but the smallest amongst them seemed eager to please.
As Danrond, now warming, made a cautious advance, the largest man shot him a threatening glance.
Danrond had spotted some furs on the chair, and enquired as to whether they were per chance going spare.
Some strangeness played out then, and an imp took to dance, and, in the confusion, Danrond siezed his chance.
He smiled at the Halfling, whose nature seemed fair, and swiftly was gifted the dry clothes to wear.

At that moment – a clatter! And in through the door, spilled the same drunk and abrasive man from before.
He disputed his tab – whilst ordering more, and then headed on over to the party of, now, four.
“You’re meant to be out there, catching my fish, or the people will have nothing to put on their dish!”
“5 gold per trout – that’s what I’ll pay, but you’ve got to go now – we need them today!”
It didn’t take too long for the group to agree, to take up the work – how hard could it be?
So they picked up their gear and strode from the inn, whilst their drunken acquaintance flashed an ominous grin.
They arrived at the docks, and set eyes on their boat, and unanimously questioned how on earth it could float.
Clear as the day, even in this dim light, there on the hull was a monstrous BITE.
As each of them wondered how the boat had survived, while they stood on the pier… another person arrived.
Her chat might have been interesting, but they really didn’t feel it, so they turned back to the boat, and plotted to steal it!
Then, all of a sudden, at the mention of “a beast”, the group wheeled back around, and the nattering ceased.
“Oh” she exclaimed, “do you really not know?” … “there’s a beast out there that’ll eat you – if you go”.
Whilst the group took this in, Danrond channelled his Chi, and delivered a message – “I’m a trout, come eat me!”.
Then up through the ice, a creature popped out, and, in common tongue, complained “Wait…You’re not a trout!”.
A Palaeosaurus – as it turned out. Employed by Arula to mess the village about.
“I’m making them starve you see. By eating their fish! Carrying out my Goddess Arula’s wish”.
“These people are cursed, she wants them in pain… so, I just keep eating their fish, again and again”.

By this point it was clear that this beast could be outsmarted, so Danrond and John War-Locke stepped forward, and started…
“But my friend, oh my friend, you’re doing it all wrong. By eating their fish, you help these people grow strong!”
“With no fish on their plates, they just eat other things – creatures with legs, or creatures with wings.”
“This then gives them strength that they hadn’t before and, now that they have it, they’re capable of more”.
“You should be more reserved in your munching away – ensure that the people have fish every day!”.
“Whilst you keep quiet watch from the depths below, let them grow fat, unambitious and slow.”
“Of course!” said the monster, “That’s what I’ll do!”. “Do they need some fish now? I could grab them a few…”
So, 15 gold heavier – after trading three trout – the group listened back into whatever the old woman was nattering about.
She held Gold, and a Scroll, they’d not earlier seen, and a torch in her hand…that was flaming green!
She was needing to find some magical folk – for they were, apparently, how the curse could be broke!
But alas… by this point, the hour was late, so the next twist in this tale would just have to wait…

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UNIT Campaign – Operation Carrion -Mission report 2

Alasdair has written up last mondays UNIT session of Operation carrion as his character Hatty.


The case of the tramps that were not tramps, but something else entirely. It transpired these poor souls where actually athletes, veracious body parts removed and the bodies dumped in and around Soho. We had three lines of enquiry. One, the beginnings of a gang war between the Maltese and Benny Bennett. Two the emergence of the Sisterhood (We sent Harry to investigate that one…seemed quite at home. And finally, the disposed bodies themselves.)

Where had these victims been operated on? Certainly not West Moorland Street hospital, perhaps a private clinic? A quick ring round brought up a few clues. Seems an umbrella company by the name of “Wayland Yutani” has been buying up a number of these medical practices , but for what purpose? One particular company was incredibly stand off ish with me. Well that simply just won’t do.

We paid them a visit, with a few strange looks as we entered the premises., greeted by Toyota John he looked as charming as he sounded on the phone. Oaf of a man. His answers weren’t forthcoming so we went for a more physical approach. It was nearly our undoing as he not only pulled out his hatchet but also had some explosive ordinance that he seemed quite prepared to use. Thankfully our combined training came to the fore as Toyota John sang his heart out.
Benny Bennet is not in Spain and is in fact here in London

We have a delivery note an address in Soho square for Oxygen canisters, could it be here these surgeries are taking place?
We left the building looking at the surprised faces of the workers. “Tax Office” I explained as we exited, there were a few nods, I don’t think we raised too many suspicions.
That evening though, whilst listing to the news on the wireless, reports of an explosion, exactly were we’d been earlier in the day. Employees all taped together and blown to bits.

Toyota John

We will tidy up Toyota John later. For now that address in Soho square needs investigating.
Hatty out

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UNIT Campaign – Operation Carrion Report 1

Andy Horton has written up monday the 19th September’s session as his character Harry Price as Harriet, Fenchurch, Harry and Bob investigate murders in Soho.

DCI Price

Harry Price’s journal: We’ve been sent to investigate a spate of murdered and mutilated tramps in Soho. Hate Soho – it’s home to people into seriously weird shit, run by gangsters and crooks, and the coppers keeping a lid on things are bent as a nine bob note. First thing we find is these were no tramps – young men in top shape, well-looked after, no grime and scars.

Benny Bennet currently on the Costa del Sol

There’ve been gangsters going missing too – Benny Bennet and Big Salvi’s Maltese mob are tooling up for a showdown and this looks like early skirmishes. But the bodies don’t match their descriptions. Not rent boys neither. We’re pretty sure they’ve been dumped to look like some nutter on a kill spree, but they’ve had body parts taken out with almost inhuman precision – and all different too – is someone Frankensteining?

We talk to the local coppers – Hart’s an odd one for Superintendent here – hard-nosed moralist, mentioning brutal policing back in the Far East. Young Tosh Lynes is a good lad – not yet had the idealism knocked out of him by the Job.

DC Tosh Lines

We look for missing persons that match our poor devils and get a breakthrough – athletes gone missing in same time frame. The swimmer who ended up with his lungs gone, the strong man with his muscles taken.

We talk to the locals – Big Salvi’s rattled by the killings – doesn’t want his business upset and punters scared off. Kind of crim I like – no weird shit.

one of the petrified

But then there’ the Sisterhood – a union for sex workers, but something more, and weirder. Hanging out at a new caff, Stheno’s (and one of the educated bunch in the team says that’s the name of a gorgon from Greek myth), they casually have what look like petrified (properly petrified, turned to stone) gangsters in their clubhouse. That’s weird enough in itself, without the main case we have on our hands and a brewing mob war.

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UNIT Campaign – Scenario Briefing – OPERATION CARRION

  • Situation tramps are being found dead on the streets of London’s soho their internal organs having been surgically removed. The surgery is either extremely skilful or involves higher technology. 
  • Mission disguised as a special unit of the Met uncover what is happening with these murders and who is behind them. 
  • Sustainment initially investigators are to be unarmed but pistols and SMGs will be held in vehicles. The team is supplied with Met police plainclothes cars. Being in London the full access to UNIT labs and UNIT reinforcements will be available. 
  • Execution the team will have the full powers of Met police. However investigating this murders in Soho may incur the jealousy and curiosity from local CID and the corrupt ‘dirty squad’ of the Met. 
  • Command and Control Cars and team members will have police radios with an additional frequency to contact UNIT
  • Other Factors Soho is i the rein of criminal and grey economy actors related to pornography and the sex industry – these are close to the Metropolitan Police dirty squad and likely to be suspicious / hostile. Various artistic and thespian types also drink in the district.

UNIT Campaign – Monday night party

My regular Monday night party have rolled up 2 characters each (including me.)

Dr Harriet Fenchurch (46) is a consultant xenobiologist working for the UNIT Science Division. (Matt)

After studying Biology and Astronomy at University, she published a number of papers related to hypothetical alien life, which garnered much interest in the Alien-adjacent underworld and gained her many contacts that fed her information on actual lifeforms. This found its way into both her academic work and her (more profitable) sideline as reclusive SF writer H F Hampton, winner of a Hugo aware and famed for “realistic” depictions of Alien Worlds.

Recruited to UNIT as a consultant related to wierder alien biologies, she has now gone on several field assignments, all of which feed into both her academic, and literary careers.

Wheezy’ Sid Whelan, procurer and remover of alien tech that falls into the hands of London gangland geezers. (Rob)

Useful phrases;

‘It’s Japanese, the things they can do these days would blow your mind.’

‘It makes you wonder who won the war, really. Them and the Germans, and their ‘Four springs Turk Technique’.’

‘Of course there’s no manual, you couldn’t read it if I had one, it’s all them squiggles.’

DCI Harry Price. Detective. (Andy H)

Saw active service in Europe at end of the war. Ended up spending several years as a redcap (military police officer) hunting war criminals, some of whom were up to some seriously weird shit.

Joined the Met after leaving the army, and found himself hunting more bad people up to seriously weird shit. One investigation saw him fall foul of a corrupt aristocrat with powerful friends and nearly ruined Harry’s career. Then UNIT came knocking and got him reinstated. He’s back, and he has no time for people up to seriously weird shit.
His health has been shot since he developed consumption after the war, but he’s a handy scrapper for all that.

He has a long friendship with Eli the tailor, who was an inmate of a concert traction camp Harry liberated. Has a girlfriend Carla who he met in Naples in 1946 and brought home. And unknown to her, a friendly goblin named “Bob” whose life he once spared followed him home and lives in the garden shed.

Drives a rusty Rover 3500 in horrid mustard yellow. Carries a Colt M1911A1 and a back up Semmerling LM4 (he rates US handguns). Keeps a war souvenir Luger in his desk and an EM2 in the garden shed where his model railway layout and Bob the goblin live.

Hyacinth “Hatty” Richardson (62) (Ali)

A Bletchley Park operative who during the war helped identify the location of the Bismark (leading to its sinking) . A crossword wizz and sharp as a tack. Never married, first love is her duty to the country. Expert baker oh and code breaker ,retirement is just not on the cards. Drives a old Triumph with a sidecar which nobody is allowed to use (with the exception of Winston….her elderly bulldog)

Ralph DeWitt , 42 (me)formerly of the the Borsetshire Echo & the Daily Beast crime desk – latterly of the Department of Administrative Affairs Press Office

Fell into the civil service after falling from grace after a false scoop got his paper sued. He covered up a sea devil invasion and was recruited to UNIT. He is often found proping up the bar of the old colonial club in soho.

old colony club

Airweight Smith & Wesson 37 ’ .38 detective revolver … absent mindedly in a pocket, he always knows where his hip flask and copy of the racing post is … chooses not to drive normally but cadges lifts, grabs taxis or takes the tube. if he does drive gears make interesting noises.

Frequently wakes up on friends sofas ‘unwell’ whether in London or when he visits his old rugby union team the Borcester Barbarians.

Alexander “Bish” Marsh (42) Former RN Reserve, recruited to UNIT following the HMS Opportune incident. (Ali)

That thing we hit was not of Gods earth. Currently drives Vauxhall Cavelier . Not really cut out for chaplincy work but the Navy gave him a chance to get out from his mining town . See the world they said. Well with UNIT he’s now seeing a Damn lot more.

Stárshiy leytenánt (1st Lieutanant) Sergei Paskalov (36). (stubber)

A Russian with an inconveniently colourful past, Lt Paskalov undertook a range of non-standard missions for the Soviet Union, mainly in Switzerland & the Caucuses, dealing with former (or suspected) Nazi agents & any dabblings they might have had in “netipichnyye sobytiya “ – “atypical events”. He defected following the Prague spring & has worked with UNIT ever since. He lives in a small flat in London with his wife and tropical fish. He has no car, but instead depends on public transport in London.

Kev ‘Borstal’ Barron, forklift operator, firefighter and ambulance driver, who’s seen some weird shit. (Rob)

Turns out, if you ask too many questions about the sucker marks on a body, some officious uniformed fellas come round, and start bringing up your record, until you agree to keep schtum, and help them shift some bodies from Pudding Lane, on what should have been your night off.

Dr David Marsen (26). (stubber)

Recently graduated from Edinburgh university, Dr Marsden is a junior doctor by trade & passionate baritone by inclination. He fell into UNITs hands after he took a sledgehammer to a protected stone circle in a Scottish glen & was arrested by the local constabulary for vandalism. He is not very worldly and tends to relax with his parents on the Isle of Skye when possible. He drives a battered silver Ford Escort.

Hampton Fenchurch (48) – Matt

joined the Army straight out University, starting a promising career as a junior officer, tipped for higher things. This was cut short after a posting to the British Experimental Rocket Group, where he was badly hurt in an “incursion event” he barely remembers, but cost him his place in the service.

From there he fell into mercenary work; post-colonial clean-up, corporate advernturism, cold-war sideshows. He became dark, bitter and angry, using his skills with little consideration of morality or outcome.

He fell into UNITs orbit thanks to his sister, Harriet, who was advising them on a case in the UK whilst he was breifly back home and staying with her. As she was attacked at her home he was able to dispatch the assailants and was flagged as potential asset in his own right. Seizing this opportunity (with Harriets encouragement) to walk a better path, he’s been with them ever since as a “civilian contractor” outside of the more formal chain of command.

His favourite gun is the AK-47 – “one of these bastards can be eaten and shit out by a crocodile and you can still kill a rebel with it”

Sidearm choice is an M1911 with custom, gold inlaid grips he “aquired from a nasty chap in the Congo”

WPC Claire Franks 20 (me)

Claire Franks fresh faced Merseyside WPC on the Red squad working with special branch here infiltrating an anglo-soviet friendship rally attending by visiting Russian sailors.

Recently seconded to UNIT. She drives a second hand red mini cooper with cnd, free ireland & militant stickers – carriers a .38 revolver in a back rig and a cosh in her purse. Very nervous of guns and will aim and shout warnings.

Flight Sergeant Maggie “Chiefy” McCoy. (Andy H)

Drove a van for a while, then joined the WRAF and made it through pilot selection snd scraped a pass in flight school. Assigned to Transport Command, she encountered something unearthly while ferrying Team GB athletes at the Montreal Olympics. As she had seen too much, she was seconded into UNIT as the designated driver and pilot for a team.

Devoted to her old grandad and young niece Tracy, and a regular at her local where she plays for the ladies darts team the Boadiceas.

She carries a .22LR Wather PP L66A1 “personal protection “disco gun” with which she is barely competent. She is however fully checked out on the guns, rockets and cannon on the team’s vehicles and aircraft.

Her pride and joy are the team’s two long-wheelbase “Pink Panther” Lsnd Rovers, one each in desert and European colours, which she has christened “Pinky” and “Perky”.

Also the Hiller recon helicopter with its retro-fitted hard points for stretchers, pontoons or other payload. Like those rocket pods she traded from a USAF contact for a crate of the Brig’s Glenfiddich.

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UNIT Campaign – Operation Nightingale Part III

In true UNIT style we return to the crew where we last found them. Prof D. Millwall had the getaway driver at gun point when La Danser spotted a green slime oozing out of an external air vent, while Fireman Dan tried in vain to shake off the remnants of the ceiling that he had previously broken free of.

As Prof D. Millwall turns to see what La Danser has spotted he sees a local bobby walking towards them. Calling for help the Professor is Zapped instead, egad the police constable was the green slime in disguise once again. Prof Millwall returns fire but his usual proficient aim, honed from many evenings spent at the dartboard, fails him and he shoots wide. Utilising this momentary surprise, the getaway driver makes good their escape.

The green slime doesn’t take kindly to being shot at, however poorly aimed, and shocks the Professor again. This time fatally! Fireman Dan, having successfully extricated himself from the ceiling panel, seeks revenge for the death of his ally and dearest friend driving the UNIT standard vehicle straight into the slime, smooshing it against the ministry wall. Hoping, but unsure it was dead, Fireman Dan proceeds to pour sand on it.

After making sure the Professor was beyond saving, by running over him in reverse, the remaining duo speed off in pursuit of the getaway car. They track it to a clearly disused but not quite abandoned warehouse. After utilising the trusty “Enforcer” to knock off the doors, practically vaporising them in the process, they discover a Corinthian pillar with a door built into it. Entering the door, they realise the room inside seems to be significantly larger on the inside then on the outside!

Following some distant voices, the duo discovers a monk like figure speaking to two female fatale type figures. La Danser quickly hides, but Fireman Dan isn’t quite as quick and is spotted by the females who quickly square up for a fight (picture the famous scene from James Bond Diamonds are forever – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvWUDZDyFBE). Dan attempts to negotiate with the monk like figure, to no avail, and so resorts to his go to strategy of hitting it with the “Enforcer”, unsuccessfully.

While fireman Dan very quickly gets his proverbial arse handed to him by the female duo, La Danser takes the opportunity to sneak up behind and shoot the monk in the head, execution style. However, the body starts to glow and golden spots of light materialise as the central console lights up and starts making strange noises.

Once La Danser has helped Fireman Dan take care of the deadly dames, they proceed to “cap” the body of the Monk, who has now changed into a woman! This seems to stop the glowing and strange light show, but to be safe they decide to chop all 3 of the bodies up and throw them in a fire bin (bin that is on fire). Once this is taken care of, they head outside of the strange ship to radio back to headquarters. But on exiting the way they came in they find themselves no longer in the dilapidated warehouse but instead some strange facility with rows upon rows of humans suspended in liquid capsules. Looking out of a nearby window they see that only the vastness of space . . . *Camera pans out while 1980’s Syfymusic blares*

GM note the Meddling Monk’s tardis was broken – he was using Christina de Sousa, the ice maiden & a renegade Rutan to steel UNIT artefacts to repair his TARDIS.

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OSR v Storygames -hands across the barricades

Inspired by a very good scene in a very good episode of Derry Girls – I asked:

what are some of the things OSRists & storygamers have in common ? and what are some of the differences ?

Here are some of the answers i got

Brian Ashford said (check out his blog)

OSR: Prep situations, not plots.

is the same as

PbtA: Play to find out what happens.

Ralph Lovegove of the excellent fictoplasm podcast wrote:

Both emerged from a shared ideology that found fault with the mainstream (as opposed to each other)

he then added this GIF 🙂

James of the brilliant monster man podcast said

Both tend to prefer relatively short games and games where supplements don’t add to the depth or complexity of the rules?

Caldwell41 a traveller enthusiast (check out his blog) opined

They both enjoy the narrative and the plot they just disagree on where it should arise from.

Dave (check out his writing) suggested

All of them like a good story and have an ardent love of dice.

As for differences. Who cares, just kill em. Kill em all!

The very clever Paul Mitchener author of Liminal rpg put forward

Don’t prep plots; plot is emergent from decisions made in play.
Often small press publications

OSR is rulings over rules. Storygames are procedural in rules.
OSR has a DM as controlling it all. Storygames weaken or eliminate the GM role.

Neil Hopkins suggested the heart warming

I think we all live for that particular moment in a game, when the big bad goes down or there’s a memorable plot twist, when everyone cheers! Doesn’t matter if it’s a lucky dice roll or a neat bit of role playing.

Finally the ever practical Martin (who has a podcast on data storage ) suggested the great unifier

Snacks – both love snacks!!

But what about you ? What do you see as the big differences & similarities between these two often sniping wings of the hobby?

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The Operation Dungeon team arrived at Lowlands University to investigate the infection of sundry infections of various academics who had been infected by a fungal growth over their skulls & spines after an attacks by youths from the Wolfie Smith estate (formerly Beanotown estate.)

Lowland university & environs

Pausing to investigate nuns rummaging in bins they visited the medical centre and got more details on the infection.

Lowlands University medical staff

While they explore the growth they discover it regenerates despite stable vital signs of the patients. They also investigate protesting students who are young conservatives types protesting being restricted to campus.

Jenny and Mike interrogating the infected find them talking of themselves in third person as ‘carbon units’ and need to reunite with ‘mother.’

Kent and Patricia meet the frazzled Superintendent Gloucester at the Beanotown nick and review the assault reports. The determine the attacks clustered about the Bash Street Comprehensive, Steve Bilko Towers and the High Street.

Jenny and Mike checked out the protestors at the tower blocks confirming both the towers and school suffered from grey mold – the concrete was porous a result of bad building by Tenple Blake a firm now in receivership following a loss of government contacts. Leaving to check out the school as the Council Housing Committee chairman Stan Herbert is pelted with fruit and eggs.

Stan Herbert on holiday

investigating the school with the ‘help’ of the last caretaker they determine intense doses by the bike sheds where the ‘bash street kids’ gang smoke including attack suspects Daniel ‘Deaths Head’ Morgan and ‘Plug‘ Percival Proudfoot Plugsley.

notorious P L U G

Patricia and Kent track down an associate of the Bash Street Kids – local drug dealer Dennis ‘the Menace’ reading the racing post with his abysssian trip hound Gnasher in the Dog n Duck. The bribe him into letting them know Plug is hiding in a doused shed on the local tip using the escape Plug has impregnated Patricia’s daughter and must do the decent thing.

The team reunited at the tip and found the shed with evidence of being a hideout. As they failed sneak up on it the shed collapsed and the bash street kids opened fire with some kind of ray gun made out of garbage. The UNIT team managed to knock it out but not before the blaster threw their ford capri they where taking over behind into Kent and Patricia.

The Bash Street mutants showing signs of infection ran off – losing our heroes but Patricia managed to climb some enough and see they were sprinting towards the University.

It was in the second pool car – the Austin Allegro and give chase. At the university two bash street infected headed to the infirmary and two to the life sciences lab. The team chased after the ones going to the lab.

There they found the infected emoting samples that looked like the growth down the toilet – the failed to stop most being flushed and Jenny was even accidentally shot by Patricia’s .357 magnum ! But eventually they incapacitated the kids.

UNIT youth restraint techniques

Experimenting with the samples they found they could be killed with a fungicide PTA. This was Professor Furie the first infected academic’s lab.

Professor Furie

Looking at Furie’s notes he was working on a sample provided by Doctor Paul Rudd as a potential cure for senile dementia given how the fungus interacted with human nerve tissue. Rudd’s company ConSec had secured the fungi from a meteor crash site in Brazil.

ConSec HQ

The other academic victims – mathematicians had be working with medieval Arabic texts with shed light on the maths of the fractal and self replicating nature of the fungi.

Looking at notes it looks like one untreated sample had been flushed down the toilet by a lazy lab assistant into the sewers.

Treating affected Lowlands medical team with PTA successfully the team concocts a plan.

Armed with plant misters filled with PTA the team descended into the sewers fighting a fat burg- fungus – rat king – human infected blog creature. Both Jenny and Patricia get sucked in to the blog and nearly possessed and absorbed – Patricia being accidentally shot but Jenny fighting through the matter to uncap containers of PTA and with the misting action disperse the beast.

The academics, bash street kids and rats seemed to survive ok from their ordeal. Jenny secured an untreated sample for Porton Down – of course does ConSec have other samples or does any matter get washed down stream (possibly into the river Am?) who knows ? It’s all too much for Mike England who will need another lie down in the Ramsay UNIT Mental health facility.

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Diversity in turkey & wot it means in games

I’ve recently returned from Turkey. i’ve been several times and have been struck by the visual diversity in the staff.

I’m not here talking about Turkish minorities like Kurds or Armenians but the visual diversity in the Turkish people I met. I am making assumptions based on name badges, hearing them speak confident Turkish and how unlikely i think Erdoğan’s Turkey is to allow free employment to immigrants.

There is perhaps a traditional portrayal of Turks as moustachioed darker skinned (often fez warring) informed by the worse habits and prejudices of Orientalism.

turkish actress Aybuke Pusat

However we had Turkish staff at hotel with very light skin and ginger hair, very east asian looking features and there were also (natural) gingers in the Turkish staff at the airport too. There were also east asian looking staff at the airport and a wide variety of skin tones.

So this is a context of Turkish population movements. When the turks settled in Anatolia they were a Turkic tribe from central asia with a more east asian appearance they mixed with local Greek and other inhabitants of Anatolia. (The Turkish tv drama Etugual deals with the central asian pre history of the Ottomans but is largely invention it’s on netflix i should check it out.) They went on to the conquer Balkans and North Africa and mixed there. So while not a traditional US/Western Europe melting pot a lot of diversity of turk speaking peoples was present throughout the Ottoman Empire.

The founder (and bastard in history and fascinating character) Kemal Ataturk was ginger born in modern day Macedonia. Post Turkey’s war of independence (1919-23) by agreement the Turkish populations from Greece and other Balkan countries moved to the Turkish republic and the Greek population in Anatolia to Greece bringing in variety which had previously been spread across the Empire. ( This mutual ethic cleansing is seen as a positive by a Turkish tour guide i spoke to years ago who’s family left Greece – thought to remove future chances of war with Turkey’s neighbours.)

Of course Turkey has other glue in its societal mix. It’s 98% muslim and until recently a civic secular nationalism based on the founding of the Republic and Kemal Ataturk is a foundation of the state (and why the Kurds who are a rejection of its tenants suffer in modern Turkey.)

So what does this mean in games

Unless your fictional societies are ethnic mono states on isolated planets or magic sealed valleys they should have more diversity in their appearance . This should be informed by population movements and old waves of immigration or conquests.

Ruling tribes or cliques will spread their genome throughout the social strata. They will also potential have reduced influence if their subjects produce more children. It’s worth thinking about or talking about in session zero as part of building a fantasy or sci- fi secondary world.

in a recent special on half orcs James Holloway talks about different ways to deal with this problematic character type. Looking at it through the prism of Turkish diversity you could see how say history could leave populations spread and very much culturally part of the mainstream of a society.

Also I you tend to think of societies are purely racially homogenous – think broader and better about the glue that holds your societies together – religion, civic patriotism, heroes of the past (however flawed).) shared mythology etc)

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Wot i read on my holidays – and how to use them in games

The Vanishing Tower – Michael Moorcook

I finished this on the plane – I’d started reading it to my 9 year old son (bowdlerised) but he lost interest halfway through. Following my recent discussion of Moorcockian gaming on Breakfast in the Ruins podcast i was struck by the sheer weight of invention.

Together with the reading Dancers in at the End of Time I it’s really informed by ideas of doing Moorcockian ganing. For instance I would allow plot points where players interject plot, story or background ideas that might help their ideas.

An example would be the beastly Grahluk demonic adversaries of the equally fiendish Elenoin that Elric evokes to save his Tanelorn friends.

It also has an intriguing cross over with Corum & Erekosë (which describes Erekosë as negroid which i don’t remember as a kid i remover him as black skinned but not clear as different features but it’s nice to have more clear variety to the campion eternal.)

Young Man in a Tank by Patrick Hennessy

This was part of a small haul from a local charity shop obvious bequeathed from a military history buff who had been to Bovington the Tank museum.

This is the autobiographical account of a young Londoner who lied to join the 13/18 Royal Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own) part of the Royal Armoured Corps. He comes a tabk commander and his unit trained on funny ‘amphibious’ DD tanks taking part in D-Day, Normandy, Market Garden and the invasion of Germany. He eventually ends up being trained as an officer.

I recently had a the pleasure of playing tank commander in a WW2 cosmic horror game ran by Roderick Hamilton so it was great to have this insight into tank training and life. i’ve also ran tank games myself (admittedly with mutant rabbits.)

Good things i took away or hadn’t known

  • all crew where cross trained in basic as radio operators, gunners, drivers and mechanics.
  • then specific cross trained trades – driver/mechanic, driver/operator, gunner/mechanic, and gunner/operator.
  • commanders have light further training
  • officers have intense including infantry training
  • the simplicity of language used to describe targets/features – only 7 colours & 3 types of trees for instances
  • the relationship with different towns – wartime skipton sounds like a good setting for a scenario

The Cardinals Peril – Pierre Pevel

I started this about 3 years back for 100 pages in and dropped I found the language excessively flowery and the combination of musketeers & dragons irritating. As a flashing blades RPG fan i’m something of a historical purist.

However in a more relaxed mood on holiday i found much to enjoy and steal – the plot features the reforming of a cardinal Richielu espionage-special forces unit for a special job 5 years after it was disbanded in disgrace after failing at La Rochelle.

There’s magic conspiracy. romances, love children, betrayals and twists and turns – there is also a lot of potential fantasy inspiration.

Cool ideas and historical details include

  • La Rochelle as a protestant republic
  • a masonic style dragonic conspiracy where initiation include partial possession by ancestral dragons
  • The Court of Miracles of Paris – in particular Montmatre gate – beggars & thieves society. An excellent model for a thieves guild, a rejection of the King of Beggars from the opening flashing blades scenario and something to think about giving structure to rogues in flashing blades (which i tried and largely failed to do well.)
  • The Corbins ( crows) black cloaked highway / bandit gang
  • a rapier carved from a single dragon tooth
  • human dragon hybrids half-bloods and more reptilian hardier Dracs both perhaps a different take on elves and orcs.
  • Le Chatelet 17th century frances political prison
  • The University of Montpellier with its ideas that the dragon of disease ranse comes from a fith draconic humour obatre.
  • Paris having capstans at its street ends so the guard can raise chains to contain mobs (officers of the militia hold the keys.)
  • A widows Salon given over as a gambling den a scene of international intrigue

All in a rollicking read and a fertile source of ideas.

The Owl Service – Alan Garner

I’ve long been intrigued by this having heard of the ITV adaptation from Scarred for Life. Being set in North Wales and I on the Wirral it’s a part of the world i know from cub camps, scout trips, air cadet marches and stag dos but have not made enough effort to explore as an adult.

The story is briefly that a diner set is discovered, and releases primal energies thst have been repeated in a valley throughout history from mythic times. The dinner set and other efforts have been made to lock them down. Three teenagers, Alison, Roger and Gwyn become wrapped in the story of Blodeuwedd.

Its a subtler more brooding tale than i expected. i didn’t expected the callback to the earlier – even primordial generations. i wanted to punch the BMW driving petty snobbery of Roger’s dad making his son his own image and it was intriguing how Welsh nationalism is eluded too.

The idea of a mythic take being re-told reminded me of George Romero’s Knightriders where the plot of the fall of camelot is recreated in a 70s biker jouster show. It does make me think of other iconic tales you could tell or echo in scenarios in very different settings (McBeth on a space station, Orpheus in D&D.(

The idea of the valley as a kind of psychic battery is a neat idea. So is the idea that earlier efforts to limit the curse make it worse almost. With a age of Alison, Gwyn and Roger they’d be in their 30s in 1982 abd i think they’d all make good entries for the unit campaign npc pool

Dancers at the End of Time – Michael Moorcock

This is the SF masterwork collection of an Alien Heat, the Hollow Lands and The End of All Songs. I think I had though i had read these as a teenager I don’t think I have I think a read other stories that eluded or referred to them. These are apparently texts revised in the 1990s and i’d the interested in what chances were made.

Setting is the end of the universe where human innocent decadents dandy with god like powers to defy death and manipulate matter and energy at the end of the world amused and interrupted by time and space travellers. An infatuation adopted on a whim for a victorian space traveller puts events in action which may not be entirely unintended.

There is tremendously lurid and vibrant imagination here is displaying the roger dean excesses of the ‘dancers’ displays and games. There is also the typical period taboo breaking over incest, homosexuality and hard drugs presented in a playful style for human creatures centuries if not millennia old.

Book is very dialogue heavy but very witty with misconceptions and misunderstandings. The majority of inhabitants of the end of time are, to be sure, fuckwits and their unknowing combination of pseud-prevention and ignorance plays very well for laughs.

There is a scene where they encounter the quarrelsome, suspicious thieving alien Lats that most resembled a combination between the most obnoxious extremes of the worse-gatekeepery suspicious of the GM tactical OSR type and worse flouncy ham-dram storygamer. It worked really well. Though i have issues with the Lats.

As well as being thieving till troll bastards the Lats are also rapey. This is played for laughs their genitals and their sexual interest is in knees and elbows but i’ll be honest the sub-on the buses chubby brown rape jokes didn’t go well with me and was interesting i know Moorcock changed the treatment of rape in Gloriana. I also found the patronising view of working class characters (like the police ) often grating.

I will however be definitely trying to fit a snoozer (burglar who stays in a hotel as a servant and burgles guests rooms) character in a Victorian game – perhaps eagles over the Mersey.

There is also most precious surfer of the super highway a wonderful way of using flowery titles by the dancers to address one another. Yes my respected roleplayer, most well regarded of reader that is something that could give any court or society an ornate feel.

I did find the central melodrama between Amelia Underwood and Jherek Carnelian compelling for me and it kept me driven through the story despite the problems I’ve mentioned. I think in the words of Knives Out – the book confuses me – but compels me.

A further game idea is the idea of the a multiverse and energy being transferable between them. An way to give evidence to this in a game might be for fate point or magic points to be spent on one table in one plane in the multiverse for returned to pool where they can summoned or drawn on my characters in another plane on another table. I need to think about that economy but i like that idea. Also if a multi dimensional being is banished in one plane it gets stronger in another as it is let spread thin.

One final thought the book has some interesting ideas on time travel that I will need to ruminate on.

Star Trek – Logs Three and Four – Alan Dean Foster (partially read)

I’ve partially read this – novelisation of star trek animated series episodes. I have read two and half episodes. The characterisation is a little weak and the world building is not as formed as it is by later trek. It does make me want to dust off ambitions to run FASA trek scenarios .

There is one absolutely shocking song of the south moment in conversation with a computer i will just screenshot.

That seems pretty atrocious particularly in the light of how important Uhura is in the history of black characters but also given that she is not an American but a African character in the canon ! Pretty shocking !

So far the Harry Mudd story is the strongest but Nurse Chapel is very badly served by that story. Though you do get Mr Scott massaging a Caitian officer !

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