The Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff 2021: brief update

Thought I’d post a quick update.

I had intended to release tickets at around the end of June for OBaWS but given the delay in reduction of social distancing, and the spread of the delta variant, I’ll hold off for a few more weeks and see what 19th July brings us. I’m hoping by then vast bulk of adult population will be vaccinated, restrictions will be lowered further, and there won’t have been any increase in hospitalisations. If this is all the case, will be looking more positive for August and September. Of course if there are ongoing concerns, I’ll revert to an online event.

The OwlBear and Wizard’s Staff (#OBaWS) 2021: September 18th, Leamington Spa

Many thanks for all the interest and enthusiasm for the 4th OBaWS event. Last year we were wholly virtually, this year I am hoping to offer both face-to-face gaming as well as online, with the caveat that if restrictions do not lessen in July/August, and the delta variant causes more problems, the whole con may move to being a virtual event.

The plan is roughly the same as previous years. For those who would like to, I’ll book a restaurant for a curry for the evening before (Friday 17th) so we can meet up for beer and food. Saturday will be the main day of gaming and will be in The Band Factory again . I’ll open the venue at 9am and we’ll have the first gaming slot 10am-1.30pm, break for lunch and samosas, and then second session 2.30pm-6pm. I’ll book a pub in the evening for us to gather after a day of RPGs.

We managed to get 13 tables running in 2019 (26 games in total) and perhaps was a little cramped so will cap at 11-12 tables this year and some great GMs have submitted games already. At the time of writing we have 21 games on offer (11 morning, 10 afternoon), and getting close to closing for submissions.

Current games on offer in the morning include: Liminal, Gamma World, Deadlands, Sentinel Comics, Vampire, Questworlds Nightbane, Zweihander, Vaesen, Traveller, Hellboy, and Barbarians of Lemuria.

In the afternoon we have: Genesys Harry Potter, Questworlds Glorantha, Advanced Fighting Fantasy, Swords of the Serpentine, Call of Cthulhu, Liminal, Smithy of Sacrilege, The King of Dungeons, The Dee Sanction, and Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar.

I’ll probably charge £10 entry to cover venue hire and refreshments and won’t open the Warhorn site for at least another 2-3 weeks pending on developments with the pandemic and social restrictions.

A massive thanks to Paul @spookshow71 for the fab art (which we’ve dubbed ‘Owlbear Victorious’). If people are interested, I can add both of Paul’s #OBaWS designs to Redbubble if shirts would be popular.

I’ll keep everyone updated via the blog and Twitter and give good notice before ticket release. I’ll be keeping a close eye on all COVID-19 updates and the safety of the event.

The Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff 3: Adventuring in the Aether. 18th-20th September 2020. Autumnal Update!

With Birmingham and Oxford teetering on the edge of a further lockdown, and Leamington neatly between, I’ve decided to keep The Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff wholly virtual this year.

For the virtual event, on the 18th September we’re kindly opening The Owlbar at The Mitchener Arms for a beer and curry on Friday night, and being hosted by the gracious Paul Mitchener @TheTweedmeister . We then have three gaming slots on Saturday 19th (10am-1.30pm, 2.30pm-6pm; 7.30pm-11pm) and have lots of games on Warhorn for people to book into. Not many slots left so more GMs always welcome Some great games including Liminal, Cthulhu Dark, Star Trek Adventures Klingons, Conan, Legend of the Five Rings, Dungeon Crawl Classics, and Dying Earth.

On the 20th, we’re going to have a RPG seminar/panel and I’m delighted to say we’ve got Chris Birch and Lloyd Gyan from Modiphius and Cat Tobin and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan from Pelgrane lined up.

A big thanks to Paul @spookshow71 for his excellent art for this year’s event.

Link to the Warhorn page is

The Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff 2020

Venues are all booked for The Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff RPG mini-con in Leamington on the 19th – 20th September!

As on prior years, I’ll book a restaurant for a curry on the Friday night (18th). Saturday will be the main event at The Band Factory , with 12 tables of RPGs in the morning and in the afternoon (AM Session 10-1.30pm; PM session 2.30pm – 6pm). Samosas and RPG swap shop at lunch time. I’ve booked a private room and bar in the Royal Pug for the Saturday evening.

I had requests for us to continue into the Sunday morning for those able to hang around – we’ll have around 6 RPG tables, and also some boardgames and RPG demos hopefully.

I’ll set up Eventbrite and open tickets shortly and will then spend the next couple of months getting the games sorted with GMs before booking people into those from around Easter. One other change – rather than donations, I may add a charge for tickets so as to cover costs for venue, refreshments, and GM gifts. I hope that is ok with people

The Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff 2019

The weekend after Owlbear and looking forward to some reading, dog walks, RPG prep and thinking about next year!

I had a great time last weekend and am very grateful to all those who came and supported the con, both as players and as GMs. Aware weekends are precious time away from work and with family, and attending Cons can be an expensive business. We ran 13 tables morning and afternoon, and I reckon had between 80-90s attendees. I think the changes I made from last year were generally for the good – I’d planned some dedicated D&D tables in advance, booked a bit of extra space (including an extra toilet) and the social events (Friday night curry, Saturday night pub) went more smoothly.

We had a great range of games on offer and hope people got into games they enjoyed. There was juggling around of GMs in last few weeks, but this all went off ok, and I really enjoyed playing in Carl’s game of Dresden Files Accelerated in the afternoon. This week, I’ve enjoyed listening to some of the feedback from the podcasters who attended – dpercentile The Grognard Files and Roleplay Rescue GM’s Journal–OBaWS-e5g5fh . Thanks all for mentioning the Con and for coming to the event.

Thanks in particular to Dave, for running at short notice and bringing lots of drinks and sweets, to Griff for the swap shop, to Bruce for the wonderful Owlbear miniatures, and to Dan for our fantastic art.

For next year, I’m thinking of a similar weekend (want to allow school term to restart and a gap before Grogmeet) – the venue has confirmed that has space for 19th September 2020 and I’ve checked that this won’t clash with September’s Concrete Cow. Also asked about the 26th. Planning to be both bigger and smaller next year – smaller in that may cap to 12 tables (3 in the upstairs room may have been a bit much) but also expanding into the Sunday morning. For this, thought to have 6-8 RPG tables running in the main room (meaning would have 30-32 RPG sessions at the con in total) but using the other rooms for more open gaming (low prep RPGs, boardgames).

Other things I’m hoping to achieve are to ensure we have several women GMs – thanks to Anjuli, Kaye, and Kat for agreeing, and hopefully Erin and Virginia too. As well as D&D streams, I think having a DCC stream is really good so will keep that if possible (several of our attendees are part of the Goodman Games Road Crew). I’d like to have a stream or two for Swedish RPGs (Symbaroum, Mutant Year Zero etc), as well as one for Horror Sci-Fi (Alien, Mothership). Would like to see Pathfinder 2 on offer for a session (Phil?) as well as Vampire 5e, and tempted by a Tolkien/Howard/Moorcock RPG-off (The One Ring, Conan, and perhaps Stormbringer?). OSR, Savage Worlds, Cthulhu, Glorantha are also popular. We’ve not had Legend of the Five Rings or Star Wars as yet so an FFG stream could work too!

Get in touch with any thoughts and I’ll keep you posted!

RPG sessions at OBaWS

Details of games for Owlbear 2019

Morning session 10am-1.30pm

i) Name of session: Blessings Unheralded

GM: Matt Hayward @chimpy20

Max players: 5

System:WH40K Wrath and Glory

Pitch: “The Shrine World of Enoch is suffering from a mysterious plague. A group of heroes are sent to this disease-ridden planet to locate a missing friend. However, the search soon uncovers something far more deadly.”

ii) Name of session: Nightmare at 77,000 Feet

GM: Lee Neilson @leejneilson

Max players: 6 

System: Spirit of 77

Session pitch: Hey there, all you boppers! Get ready for slam-bang action and high octane excitement with Spirit of 77 – the 1970’s pop culture RPG that turns up the volume and never slows down! Kung-fu tough guys, good old boy truckers, starry-eyed rockers and hardboiled sleuths, all jam-packed into one funky game system that’s Powered by the Apocalypse.

Nightmare at 77,000 Feet: On the way back from a thrilling adventure south of the border, our players find supernatural trouble aboard their plane! Fasten your seatbelts, everyone!  

iii)Session name: Waiting for the Hurricane.

GM: Mat Gregory

System:Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed. (Pulp Cthulhu).

Max players: 4/5 players.

Pitch: It is the Labour day weekend of 1935, our Heroes find themselves in the Grand Hotel Key West enjoying a well earned rest.  But all is not well a Hurricane has made landfall in Key West taking out the road to the mainland.  Our plucky heroes hope to ride out the storm in the bar, but is this Hurricane the work of Mother Nature or are sinister forces at work?

Tune in to find out.

iv)Session name: Sunup- High Noon- Sundown

GM:  Andrew Jones @dimbyd

Max Players: 5

System: Heroquest

Pitch:  Join the first public playtest of new Heroquest/ Questworlds genre pack. 

Think “True Grit” or the “Unforgiven” directed by Sergio Leonie (alternatively think Desperate Dan and Little Plum teaming up- this is a playtest after all). Perhaps you are last of a dying breed of gunslinger in a changing west or a youngster inspired by the talk of the “good old days”. Or a member of a First Nation, trying to avoid genocide or ever decreasing reservations. Guaranteed country and western free soundtrack.

v)Session name:  Like Father, Like Son

GM: (name/twitter handle): Gaz Bowerbank (@the_smart_party)

Max Players: 5

System:  Pendragon


The tourney approaches and young knights from far and wide begin preparations for their chance at glory.  For half a dozen of the less glorious knights errant however, they must first attend the Lord’s wishes to gain his favour, travelling to the savage mountains across the western border and an ally who is beset with withering illness and who’s lands are rife with bandits.  Could this be their chance to make a name for themselves just days before the tourney?  Or will the ladies’ favours pass to other, more deserving knights, while these young men languish in ignominy at their failure?

vi) Name of Session: Dead Planet

GM: @doc_griffiths

Max players: 6 

System: Mothership RPG

Pitch: Dead Planet is a planet crawl for the high-nerve sci-fi survival horror game. Play as marines, scientists, teamsters and androids as you navigate derelict space-craft, cannibal infested moon bases & mind-controlling monstrosities. In the tradition of Alien, The Thing & System Shock.

vii)Name of session: Beneath the Stones

GM: Paul Mitchener

Max number of players: 5


Pitch: Near Hadrian’s Wall are the Mare and Foal Standing Stones- just two stones remaining of an ancient stone ring. Alas, property developers have moved in after a wave of protests, but they have given permission to a group of archaeologists before they begin construction work. But why were the protestors receiving money from the Jaeger family, the werewolf “royalty” of the country? And why is a known magician of the Council of Merlin part of the excavation team? And why are the locals now all having nightmares?

Time for a Crew of Liminals to get involved.

viii)Name of session: What Lies Beneath

GM: Adam RKitch

Max number of players: 6



Your Empire Needs You

Contact has been lost with a small magical research facility on the world of Arazon, part of the Dolmari Empire. A communications team dispatched by the Empire to investigate has failed to return. Now, they’re sending in the big guns: you. Your Empire needs you. Will you heed the call and discover: What Lies Beneath?

What Lies Beneath is a fantasy game with a hint of horror for 4-6 players, using the XPd8 system.

XPd8 is a new game system with streamlined mechanics designed to make combat smooth and varied. The fast and fluid rules promote tactical thinking over repetitive mundane attacks. While combat is enhanced, other options are catered for and encouraged.

Advancement in XPd8 is fast. You may spend your well-earned XP as you earn it. Feel immediate progression as you unlock cool new abilities every time you play; even during a one-shot like this!

ix)Session name: TBC

GM: Kai, Wizard on the Wynd

Max Players: 5


Pitch: TBC.

x)Session name: Dungeon Crawl Classics – Enter The Dagon

GM: Andrew Delaney / @Andrew_D20

Max Players: 7

System: Dungeon Crawl Classics


The Isle of Dagon: to common folk, it presages death, pestilence, and woe. To warlocks, witches, and wizards, the isle offers a wealth of occult power, forbidden knowledge, and spells beyond the ken of mortal man. But before you can lay claim to the island’s secrets, first you have to survive its fabled spell duels — a series of death matches where only one caster may reign supreme.

Wizards and elves will be tested to the fullest of their abilities. To triumph, parties must also survive the machinations of the other contenders and their wicked retinues. For when vying for the title of Master of Dagon, and battling against some of the most powerful sorcerers to tread the Known Worlds, you will need every advantage you can glean. Will you and your companions sit passively by, awaiting whatever fate befalls you? Or will you take the fight to your foes?

And when your life — and those of your companions — hangs on the casting of a single spell, will you have the courage to accept Dagon’s challenge?

The time for questioning has passed. Black-sailed ships have come to ferry you and your companions to the fabled death matches. It is time to Enter the Dagon.

xi) Name of session:The Mad Queens Jewels, a Midderlands Adventure

GM: Neil Benson @nfbenson

Max players: 6

System: OSR (to be decided)

Session pitch: The Mad Queen, Elspeth IV, ruler of the Havenlands, loved by few, hated and feared by many is known to frequent the Goman baths in the town of Barth.

Obediah Cromwell, war hero, orator, commentator and secretly the leader of a band of revolutionaries wants to strike a blow against the evil monarch. Ideally he would like her head on a spike, but failing that he’d settle for the Crown Jewels which the Queen always travels with. At Barth security is tight, but…

… the minor settlement of Leaning Town, so named after it’s tilting buildings, has recently discovered a Gloomium infused healing spring and has opened the Leaning Town Spa. Cromwell has learned through his spies that Queen Elspeth is to visit the Spa soon, and as his best operatives you have been sent to Leaning Town to see if you can purloin the Queen’s prized gems. 

xxii)Session name: Dungeons and Dragons Adventurers League (Scenario tbc)

GM: (name/twitter handle): Pete Griffith / @pedr

Max Players: 6 (7 if really necessary)

System: D&D 5e

Pitch: (max 250 words): If released in time, this will be the first Adventurers League adventure in the 2019 D&D storyline, which will be announced on May 17th (see for details, and teaser art.) I’ll update this when the schedule is released.

xiii) Name of session: The Golden Idols

GM: Dan Connolly @dan_connolly

Max players: 5

System: D&D 5e

Pitch: “Congratulations! You’ve been selected! In recognition of your outstanding contributions to your church/cult/higher power (delete as applicable), the Ministry of the Greater Truth of the Osseous Host have awarded you a prestigious Golden Idol award! Your prize will be presented at the First Annual Ecumenical Symposium in Craghaven…”

A work conference and awards evening, that’s definitely not a scam, for 3rd-level heroes.

Afternoon session 2.30pm-6pm

xiv) Name of session: Where Shantaks Dare

GM: Blythy @sjamb7

Max players 6

System: Achtung! Cthulhu (Fate Core)

Pitch: January, 1944. As plans for the D-day landings gather pace, Section M, the intelligence agency charged with halting Nazi attempts to harness the occult, is leaking like a seive. A traitor is at work, giving the Nazis the upper hand for months. Sources indicate the identity of the traitor is known only to those in Schloss Adler, the supposedly impenetrable castle high in the Austrian alps. Your mission – get in there and uncover the traitor. And get out alive, of course! 

A game based on the classic war movie Where Eagles Dare. A chance to pit Burton and Eastwood against the forces of Cthulhu. 

xv) Name of session: Never mind the BuzzCoughs

GM: Dirk the Dice @theGROGNARDfile

Max players: 6 

System: Vurt RPG Cypher System

Get feathered up and enter the Vurt space of Bolton: one of the wealthiest and most influential areas of Manchester, where you’ll find the most courageous feather-heads who have a taste of all the new feathers before they hit the other boroughs; Hybrids, Blacks and yellows, they’re all here and you’ll get to taste them.

Meet me in ‘The Man and Psyche’ as we adventure in futuristic Manchester created by Jeff Noon. 

It’s a cyber-punk journey into dream-space with unusual characters and exotic encounters: it’s Numenera, with rain.

xvi)Name: Rocket Nazis from Dimension X!

GM: Jimbo Hawkins

Max players: 6

System:Masks A New Generation

Pitch: Welcome to Halcyon City, shining beacon of superheroism and progress! The City Of Tomorrow, Today! But when a gargantuan zeppelin appears in the sky and announces that Earth is now under the control of the Eternal Reich, Halcyon City becomes Earth’s first, last and only line of defence. Will you join the fight?

xvii)Name of session: Kung Fu Cops! 

GM: Dave Aldridge 

Max number of players: 6 

System:Savage Worlds 

Pitch: A dirty cop framed your squad and now every cop and every triad in Hong Kong is after you! Can you evade the machete-wielding hordes long enough to expose the rat who set you up? Savage Worlds has just the right crunch level for some fast, furious, hammer grabbing blade dodging wall running bone shattering leap kicking, fun! Expect near endless ranks of bloodthirsty mooks to try your moves on! Explosions, car chases and rooftop parkour or your money back! Don’t look at your character sheet! Look around you! Throw him through the window? That’s right, have a Benny! What, you have a gun? This is Kung Fu! Oh wait, empty is it? That’s right! Throw it away, get a Benny!

xviii)Name of session: 4e Sci-fi hack 

GM: Phil Dicemechanic

Max number of players: 6

System: D&D 4th edition


**Sub-space broadcast, all channels**

**This is the USC Geiger to unidentified research vessel. Please respond within 7 cycles or we will exercise our rights as registered salvageers to board your vessel under starcode regulation 78/3.2. Please respond**

Nothing. Silence. The huge bulk floats at the outer edge of the system, listless and lightless, as black as the deep space that surrounds it.

“Commander, we’re reading emergency power only. Basic life support but no grav… Odd. Thermo scan shows nothing at all. Must be heavily shielded. Weird…”

The Commander looks around at her crew: experienced Salvageers every one; ex-military, battle-hardened; their eyes gleaming as they consider the lucrative prize before them.

“Suit up. By the numbers. Stake our claim, get it moving, go home. And remember, ship insurances pay out kilocreds for any living crew, so stay alert.”

Another day, another salvage. What could possibly go wrong…

xix)Title: The Guv’nor’s dead

GM: Carl Clare 

System:Dresden Files (FATE)

Max players: 5


London 1975

People are dying, no obvious cause, no signs of violence, they just seem to stop breathing. The authorities are worried about an epidemic of unknown origin but all tests have been negative. The only connection between the victims seems to be a link to high level organised crime. As tensions rise the various organised crime gangs are tooling up and shootings are becoming common on the streets of London. The Flying Squad is becoming overzealous in response and are virtually a gang in their own right. A gang war is brewing and at the end of his tether, the Commissioner has called in the Arcane Crimes Squad for the lack of anything better to do.

You are members of the Arcane Crimes Squad of the Metropolitan Police: a specialist squad dealing with magical and supernatural crime. Made up of ‘consultants’ and misfits the unit is known as ‘The Tommys’. You know things are wrong when you are called in as the Commissioner would prefer you didn’t even exist……

xx)Name of session: Round the Bend

GM: Wayne Peters @wayne_peters

Max players: 6

System:D&D 5E

Session pitch:
The Wizard Severad has caught a group of Half Orcs thieving from his tower. In retribution he has shrunk them down to merely an inch tall and sent them down into the plumbing underneath his workshop to retrieve a lens for him. In return he will restore their size and set them free.
You are the Half Orcs and there are worse things in a wizard’s plumbing than food scraps! Good luck.

This is a scenario written for first edition AD&D for use as a competition game at GamesFair ’84. It appeared in Imagine Magazine #15 later that year and I have adapted it for 5th edition.

xxi)Session name: Acting Up In Lankhmar

GM: Bruce Cunnington/@M0RT75

Max number of players: 6

System: Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG (Lankhmar)

Pitch:  Threatened by the Duke and his private guard, the performers of ‘The Fiascoes of Duke Hogfat’ need assistance to make it through their final performance. Will the play end with a standing ovation or will the Duke and his thugs bring down the house?

xxii) Session name: The Well of the Black Sun

GM: Steve Ray (@OrlanthR)

Max Players: 5

System: Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition

Pitch: (max 250 words): 
“The Black Sun will devour you all!” The cry echoes across the splintered wooden walls of the seedy tavern known as the Falling Rod. Before anyone can react, the cloaked figure who shouted out from the doorway draws a razor-sharp dagger of black glass and slashes an unfortunate server across the throat.  Pandemonium ensues as a number of other figures pull off hoods and cloaks, revealing scarred bodies painted with a single black circle in the centre of their chests, and tendrils of black snaking out across their shoulders and stomachs. Each of them draws a black dagger as their leaderdid, screaming as they attack the tavern’s surprised patrons!

Adventurers: what do you do?

An adventure for D&D 5e characters of third level, created using rules from the Player’s Handbook. Pregenerated characters will be provided, or you can bring your own third level character if you wish.

xxiii)Session name: The Plant-Master

GM: Cintain

Max Players: 6

System:Forbidden Lands hack (Forbidden Lands rules, homebrewed setting, no ‘standard’ fantasy races.)

Three hundred years ago, the combined armies of the Romi Nation and the Freeholds clashed against the defiling sorcerers commanded by the mysterious Lord of Blood. Their fell magics sucked the life from the very soil, withering plants and warping all creatures into vicious mockeries of life. Neither side prevailed. All died, leaving behind a parched desert overrun by monsters. It is said that somewhere in the depths of this Silt Wasteland, a rich oasis flourishes, wherein a vast treasure more valuable than gold is to be found.

You are survivors, descendants of those who were razed over by the armies of the War of Blood. Like your ancestors, you eke out a precarious existence in this land, hunting for water and avoiding hordes of lifeless monstrosities as well as horrible creatures warped by fell magics. It is said that somewhere, beyond the endless, trackless waste you call home, lies a vast expanse of water full of life, where food is plentiful and people live safe. The merchant caravan will take people there, for an exorbitant price. Yesterday, whilst foraging, you found a stranger half-dead in the silt. In his hand he clutched a map, drawn with drops of blood on a piece of leather. Before he died, he claimed it showed the way to the fabled oasis. If only you could get your hands on that legendary treasure, perhaps you could change your destiny?

xxiv)Session name: Night of Blood

GM: Joolz “Son_of_Albion” Hayley

Max Players: 5

System.Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4e

Pitch: The Nun, The Protagonist, The Ratcatcher, The Stevedore and The Outlaw, five strangers thrown together on a cramped, uncomfortable night time coach journey. Some running away from their destinies and others running headlong towards theirs.

Lightning crashes, the rain lashes down and the night is dark and full of imagined terrors. The forest’s twisted trees almost seem to be closing in on and over the poorly constructed, rain sodden road. Unearthly howls can now be heard above the din of the buffeting wind and rain, all the while coming closer and closer.

Can our unlikely heroes survive this night of blood?

xxv)Session: To Badly Go

GM: Glenn Berry

Max Players: 5

System: Star Trek Adventures

Pitch: The Crew of the USS Starbuck, registry number NX 3041 are thrown into turmoil when the ship violently crashes out of warp drive.

xxvi)Session name: TBC – HeroQuest Glorantha

GM: Ian Cooper 

Max Players: 5

System:Heroquest Glorantha

Pitch: TBC – initial thoughts:  * More Jonstown Crime Capers with the Night Watch * An otherside heroquest, the Virtue Stars *!Something set among the Black Horse Troop

The Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff II – The Wizard’s Revenge. Warwickshire RPG mini-con, September 21st 2019

We are going to reprise our one-day RPG day in Leamington this year and have pretty much gone for the same Saturday as in 2018 

I did look at other dates as know this isn’t ideal for everyone – 14th September is the Leamington Ale Festival (come for both and make a week of it!) and 7th felt a little close to beginning of school term/end of school holidays. Twitter pals suggested later Sept/early October was busier and wanted to leave a gap before Grogmeet 2019.

We’ll use the same venue as last time, The Band Factory. But this time I’ll see if I can hire the 1st floor too to give us a second bathroom and potentially more gaming space. We ran 10 tables AM and PM last year – I’ll plan initially for 6 tables for GMs to offer games for, and keep 2 for a D&D stream. Last year I stupidly underestimated the requests for D&D so will plan for this a little rather than react! It will then give us two more tables to bring on stream if numbers suggest we need them. To give you a flavour, last year we had games of Star Trek Adventures, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e, D&D, Mutant Crawl Classics, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Space 1889, Elite Dangerous, RuneQuest Glorantha, HeroQuest, Feng Shui, Monster of the Week, Numenera, Genesys, and FATE Eclipse Phase.

As in 2018, I’ll arrange a curry for the night before and samosas on the day. My other ‘do differently’ item is to book a venue for post-games drinks as last year the pubs were busy leading us to all being rather scattered. I’ll set up an Eventbrite page for ticket booking.

If you are interested in GM’ing (or helping organise) do get in touch!


Where to start?  Overall, a very good year of gaming.  Some real highlights with hosting the Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff in Leamington, and having lots of friends travel to game with us, meeting gaming chums in Melbourne for a session of Shadow of the Demon Lord, and releases of new editions of some of my favourite RPGs.  I was disappointed not to be able to attend Grogmeet due to a work commitment and it was a shame that for some reason Free RPG Day didn’t seem to reach Coventry or Warwickshire.


Played a lot of games this year.  As with 2017, a fair bit of D&D and I do really rate 5e.  With @chimpy20 we’ve continued our excellent Forgotten Realms campaign, and had a dramatic end to the arc just before Christmas.  We had a break earlier in the year to try out Monster of the Week (run magnificently by @dan_connolly), and looking forward to trying Spire in the new year. In parallel, I’ve been playing in a 5e game of Primeval Thule, run by the dad of one of my son’s friends.  This is a more Swords and Sorcery setting with thieves guilds, powerful old families, cultists, and jungle and tomb exploration.

Our taste for Swedish RPGs has continued.  We’ve progressed with the Throne of Thorns campaign for Symbaroum and played several sessions of Mutant Year Zero.  One of my first sessions of the new year will be Forbidden Lands, which I’m really excited about.  Tempted to run it at UK Games Expo if can get my head around it in time.  We’ve also enjoyed The Strange, Infinity and Conan as part of our Sunday morning breakfast club (@chimpy20, @dan_connolly, @giryan, @Er0_0, @doc_griffiths , Chris and Dave)

I’ve continued to play and run Star Trek Adventures and always have a marvellous time.  FASA Trek was an important game to me as a young RPGer.  I’ve been running the Modiphius’ Living Campaign for the TNG era, with the excellent crew of the USS Thunderchild (@spookshow @blythy @theGrognardfile @pedr @wayne_peters) and hope to bring in some more home-brew stuff in 2019.  My pedantic Captain Senek enjoys being saved by the crew of the USS Stan Lee (thanks @pilky @tallaluhmaait @tarasis @MissJennavyrH  @ItsAJWassh). We played an excellent few sessions of the Legend of the Five Rings 4e (where I got to play a Scorpion Bushi at last, another gaming ambition – thanks @jimbohawkins) and have enjoyed running sessions of Call of Cthulhu, Wild West Cinema and Vampire the Masquearade 5e on-line (thanks @spookshow @xtamsynx @MissUnreason @restrepowriter @adamrkitch @morthrai @chrissyspill).  The latter was particularly exciting as missed out on Vampire and the whole World of Darkness in the 90s, and got to meet some new twitter RPG friends!  Maybe Vampire Dark Ages and Mage in 2019?

I began running the first part of the Dead Suns Adventure Path for Starfinder for my son, his friend, and another dad and enjoyed that very much.  Hope to get another session in soon.  At the beginning of the year, had a great focussed campaign with @Ian_h_cooper and run by Ron Edwards @RonAdept – this used the RQ2 ‘classic’ ruleset and a lot of the game was world-building and developing the rather malign metaphysics and pantheon, and psychologically exploring the growth of the young heroes .  Also had the great experience of several sessions of Nights Black Agents, run by @kinnygraham and with my fellow Bourne-wannabees @dimbyd @lintillaz @nfbenson ). I enjoyed running HeroKids for my nephews and my children and have had a great time as my bloodthirsty Cambrian Knight Aneirin in @dissectingwrlds PBEM Pendragon game.

Despite missing Grogmeet, I did manage to get an away gaming match and was very fortunate that @mark_gor very kindly pointed me towards a RPG Meetup group in Melbourne and then, even more generously, ran a game of Shadow of the Demon Lord.  This was a really excellent session in a great venue and very much enjoyed playing with @alex_cattoo @patrickoduffy @Art_the_DM – hope to do so again!

Releases of Old Favourites 

If a game defines the year, it may have to be Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay for me.  This began at the end of 2017 when Dirk asked me to run WFRP1e for Grogmeet17.  I then ran ‘Mistaken Identity’ (the first part of ‘The Enemy Within’ campaign) three further times in 2018 – for Virtual Grogmeet, at UK Games Expo, and for the Armchair Adventurers and the Grognard Files (thanks for a great session @blythy @theGrognardfile @kitch66uk @thedicemechanic).  This love for the old edition has been compounded by the release of the 4th edition from Cubicle – not played as yet, but one definitely for 2019.

Another big release for me in 2018 has been Legend of the Five Rings 5th edition, from Fantasy Flight Games.  I’d got into the hobby again when the 3rd edition was out and have really enjoyed 4th edition (and continue to do so), but was excited about new release.  We’ve played the Beginner Game and I am really liking the new mechanics, particularly around social interactions, loss of face and stress, and the Rings.  I’ve submitted an adventure I’ve written for 5e for UK Games Expo 2019 and hope to get to grips more with new edition.

2018 was also an important year for Glorantha.  Releases of the Glorantha Sourcebook, RuneQuest Glorantha, and 13th Age Glorantha but marked by the sadness of Greg Stafford’s passing.  Chaosium goes from strength to strength – strong releases, the new edition of Masks of Nyarlothotep and taking Pendragon back in house.  In 2019 I want to read through the three Gloranthan RPG rulesets and try to get some to table.


As mentioned, I was sad not to get to Grogmeet18 but was able to attend UK Games Expo and we put on Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff mini-con in Leamington in September.

My Expo was slightly over-shadowed by a big work commitment the week following but, despite that, enjoyed it greatly as always.  Ran Symbaroum, Ars Magica 2e, and WFRP1e and had a fantastic time playing the D&D epic on Saturday night (thanks @Grami_WER).  Good to see friends and buy a few things. Picked up some books from James Raggi for LotFP and really enjoyed the HeroQuest seminar. Have submitted one session to UKGE19 and thinking about 2nd.

I was really delighted by being able to host the Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff mini-con OBaWS – so grateful to all the kind GM’s for running and for all those who joined us for the day (and curry the night before).  Ended up with 10 tables running morning and afternoon. Currently, I am looking into dates for 2019 and will think about improving on post-Con drink plans, and  make sure we have lots of D&D, and keep the samosas.


Some fun plans already underway.  As mentioned, have submitted L5R5e adventure to UK Games Expo and am thinking about offering one of WFRP5e/Symbaroum/Forbidden Lands/Star Trek Adventures for a second game.  As a player, I’ve got a session of Primeval Thule planned for January and we are starting Forbidden Lands at the weekend.

More generally, want to keep playing and running Star Trek Adventures and am starting an online game of Pendragon this month, a long-held ambition.  Thanks to some Twitter enthusiasm, we’re starting some setting/Saga/world-bulilding for an Ars Magica campaign, which may or may to also include some on-line sessions. I think our Sunday morning sessions will include Coriolis and Symbaroum down the line so for me, other GMing goals are to get L5R5e and WFRP4e to the table.  More Vampire and getting to try Mage would also be fun!

Happy new year everyone and hope to see you at Expo/Grogmeet/ and may be Owlbear… I’m off to read King Arthur Pendragon v5.2 and email Dirk with thoughts about virtual and meatspace Grogmeet.

Trying out L5R 5e character creation with The Grey Crane (Kakita Toshimoko/Greg Stafford)

I thought I’d experiment with the new rules for Legend of the Five Rings RPG this weekend, starting a twitter poll asking which Clan to create a PC.  However, the RPG community had the very sad news of the death of Greg Stafford, wonderful game designer and mystic.  John Wick discussed the role Greg had on him as a person and as a gamer, and in his warm and well-written blog mentions that a character in the L5R setting was Greg, namely the Grey Crane, Kakita Toshimoko, sensei of Doji Hoturi and master of the Kakita Duelling Academy.  Hence, for this first try out of the full character generation rules, and in honour of Greg. I’ll try to create the Grey Crane as a young man, perhaps with some more shamanic elements.


The Game of Twenty Questions

Part 1: Core Identity (Clan and Family)

All characters begin with Rank 1 in all Rings, and 0 in all Skills

Q1: What Clan does your character belong to? 

Given the above, the Kakita are a family of the Crane Clan. This gives +1 Air Ring, +1 Culture Skill, and Status of 35.  Bushido for the Phoenix focuses on Courtesy.

Q2: What family does your character belong to? 

The Grey Crane is a member of the Kakita family, a family known for its skill in duelling.  This grants +1 Air or +1 Fire, and either +1 Aesthetics or +1 Meditation.  Fire is a creative ring so I think I’ll take a +1 there and a +1 Aesthetics to reflect Greg’s imagination and inspiration.  He has a starting Glory of 44 and 7 koku.


Part II: Role and School

Q3. What is your character’s role and school?

Kakita Toshimoko is going to train in the Kakita Duelist School (Artisan, Bushi).

This grants +1 to both Air and Earth Rings and I can choose five skill increases of +1 out of Courtesy, Design, Fitness, Martial Arts (Melee), Meditation, Sentiment, and Smithing.

I’ll take +1 Courtesy, +1 Martial Arts (Melee), +1 Sentiment, +1 Fitness, +1 Meditation

Available Techniques: Kata, Shuji, Rituals

Starting Techniques: he gains Iajitsu Cut: Rising Blade (something I noted on my reading – this is a rank 2 kata, but prerequisites are ignored for techniques gained during char gen), and can choose Shallow Waters or Weight of Duty as a beginning Shuji.  I’ll choose Shallow Waters (helps the Grey Crane detect people’s desires and ninjo).

He has a starting Honor of 50 and the following School Ability and Equipment:

Way of the Crane (School Ability)

Starting Outfit: Travelling and ceremonial clothes, daisho, yari, travelling pack, attendant (I could have swapped the spear for a bow, and the attendant for a pony).

Q4: How does your character stand out within their school?

This is a choice to increase one Ring.  I’m thinking the Greg in the Grey Crane will have made him stand out as being self-aware, insightful and mystical, so will take +1 Void

Part III: Honor & Glory

Q5.  Who is your character’s lord and what is their duty to them?

Reading up on Kakita Toshimoko, he served with the Imperial Guard initially as an impulsive young samurai, but after worked alongside his father, Kakita Toshimo in the academy.

So, we’ll say his lord is also his father, Kakita Toshimo, and his duty, or giri, at present is to serve is an assistant instructor at the Kakita dueling academy.


Q6.  What does your character long for?

Again, thinking of Greg, I’m going to say Toshimoko’s ninjo is spiritual enlightenment – this is more typically an aspiration for monks, shugenja, and those of the Dragon Clan so will certainly be a conflict for a Crane bushi, particularly one who is rather constrained by teaching in the dueling academy.

Q7. What is your character’s opinion of their Clan?

Despite his mystical side, Toshimoko thinks highly of his clan and wishes to serve them to the best of his ability. This grants him +5 Glory.

Q8.  What does your character think of Bushido?

Kakita Toshimoko  would endorse Bushido, and the Crane emphasis on Courtesy.  This grants him +10 Honor.

Part IV: Strengths and Weaknesses

Q9.  What is your character’s greatest accomplishment so far?

This steps aligns with the choice of a distinction advantage.

I’m thinking to combine his mystical side with his time with the Imperial forces – when a young samurai, patrolling near the wall, Toshimoko detected and defeated a Shadowlands infiltrator.

He gained the distinction Sixth Sense

Q10. What holds your character back the most in life?

Here I get to choose an adversity disadvantage. Hard to know for Toshimoko – in some of the literature of the setting, he enjoys his sake and the company of women but not to extent of being addicted or a compulsive flirt.  However, issues of paternity crop for him as a NPC in the beginner box adventure, so I am going to select Bitter Betrothal – perhaps his tour of duty, and now the hours he spends at the academy, has lead to him neglecting his wife and family.

Q11.  What activity makes your character feel at peace?

Here I get to pick a Passion linked to the Grey Crane’s hobbies and interests.  Looking over the list, Enlightenment is an option and I think will enhance the shamanistic side of Greg I want to reflect.

Enlightenment (Void) 

Type: Spiritual
 Description: You are devoted to the principles revealed in the Tao of Shinsei and are well on your way to transcending this existence. 
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Enlightenment passion: 

  • You feel no attachment to mundane items and earthly titles; you cannot be tempted with material wealth or the promise of power. 

  • After performing a check to detach yourself from material concerns (such as a Meditation [Void] check to contemplate your place in the universe or a Survival [Void] check to exist in harmony with your environment), you remove 3 strife. 



Q12. What concern, fear, or foible troubles your character the most?

Here I get to choose a Specific Anxiety.  It mentions the younger Toshimoko as impulsive so I will select the Impatience anxiety.

Q13.  Who has your character learned the most from during their life?

I’m thinking the greatest influence on him will have been his father, Kakita Toshimo.

Here, I get to pick an advantage or a  disadvantage and one rank in the a skill linked to the relationship.

Despite wanting to take another disadvantage so I can get +1 Theology, I can’t think of another which fits the character concept.  So developing the impulsive bushi idea further, I’ll take Daredevil as an advantage.

Part V: Personality and Behavior

Q14. What do people notice first upon encountering your character?

He has a long plait down his back, he does not dye his hair as many Crane too, but even as a young man there are streaks of grey in his hair.  He walks nimbly on the balls of his feet, never at rest, and in a scroll case he carries a copy of the Tao of Shinsei.

Q15. How does your character react to stressful situations?

He becomes more jocular and less respectful – this can extend to insulting people with immature jibes.

Q16. What are your character’s preexisting relationships with other clans, families, organisations, and traditions?

He had a close relationship with the Imperial Forces, with the Kakita Dueling Academy and has developed a friendship with a visiting Togashi monk.

As a gift, he received a finger of jade from the Imperial Guard.

Part VI: Ancestry and Family

Q17.  How would your character’s parents describe them?

Toshimoko’s parents are proud of him – they would describe him as a promising young duelist and teacher, if slightly impulsive.  They are concerned about his spiritual side, but are glad their son honors the Kami, the Fortunes, and the teachings of Shinsei.

Here I get to increase a skill by +1, and will take Theology to reflect the above tension and again Greg’s shamanism

Q18.  Who was your character named to honor?

Slightly complex as Toshimoko is a diminutive version of Toshimo. However, like this step so perhaps can think where Toshimo comes from in family.  I get to roll 2d10 on a random table to find out facts about ancestor named after, and can pick one of these ancestors and then a further d10 to find out more if indicated.

I rolled a 9 and 5.  Looking at table 2-1, can pick Imperial Heritage or Discovery.  Former fits more I think.  Get +10 Status and the Blessed Lineage advantage.

Q19.  What is your character’s personal name?

Toshimoko, reflecting he is the son of Toshimo.

Q20.  How should your character die?

Toshimoko hopes leave behind the academy in the near future and die defending Crane lands against their enemies, or better, he wishes to re-join the Imperial Guard and defend the Emperor against the minions of Fu Leng, and die in this duty.


To sum up, The Grey Crane

Clan: Crane

Family: Kakita

School: Kakita Duelist School

School Rank: 1

Air                   Earth               Fire                  Water              Void

3                       2                       2                       1                        2

Honor: 60

Glory: 49

Status: 45

Ninjo: spiritual enlightenment

Giri: Assistant instructor at Kakita dueling academy.

Distinctions: Sixth Sense; Blessed Lineage.

Adversities: Bitter Betrothal

Passions: Enlightenment; Daredevil.

Anxieties: Impulsive.

Personal Outburst: He becomes more jocular and less respectful – this can extend to insulting people with immature jibes.

Skills: Culture 1, Aesthetics 1, Courtesy 1, Martial Arts (Melee) 1, Sentiment 1, Fitness 1, Meditation 1, Theology 1.

School Ability: Way of the Crane.

Techniques:  Kata – Iajitsu Cut: Rising Blade; Shuji – Shallow Waters.

Endurance                  Composure                  Focus               Vigilance

8                                    6                                    5                        2

Void Points: 2


Please let me know if I’ve got anything wrong!  Vale The Grey Crane Greg Stafford,

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4e – trying out character creation.


Artur the Herb Gatherer

So, going to try out the preview PDF for WFRP4e and character creation – thought it would help me get to grips with new edition, plus see how the PC emulates those from 1e games.

Step 1 Species.

You have the option of picking a race, or rolling and getting an additional 20XP.  I’ll take the XP and roll d100.

39, Human.

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 12.25.27I’m good with and any roll from 01-90 will get you a human.



20 XP



Step 2. Class and Career

A few options here – random roll and get 50XP, roll three times and pick for 25 XP, or pick. I’ll go for middle option so can pick from a shortlist.

First roll, 71. Riverfolk Class, Smuggler Career

Second roll, 40. Peasant Class Herbalist Career

Third roll, 05. Academics Class, Nun Career

Interesting choices here…. My temptation is to go for Herbalist. Not sure how the careers link up, but may be an option to go from the this launch into wizard, witch or mystic career.

So, so far we have:

Human Peasant Herbalist, 45 XP. Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 12.25.54

Step 3. Attributes

Again, we have three choices here.  Roll in order, and take the result for 50XP.  Roll, and arrange as you like for 25 XP, or, roll again or allocate 100 points. I think I’ll go for middle option – roll and allocate.

For my ten 2d10 rolls I get: 12, 12, 10, 12, 16, 13, 11, 16, 16, 19.

A pretty impressive set of rolls – most lying around the average mark, but several rather above. Given the PC is a Herbalist, I’ll put the highest in Intelligence, and I think because he needs to get on with his other patients and aspires to more arcane pursuits, other high scores to Fellowship and Willpower and perhaps Toughness so can resist the diseases he comes into contact with.



WS   BS    S     T     Agi  Ini   Dex   Int   Wil   Fel   W   Fate  Resilience   Extra Points Move

30     32    31   36    32   33    32     39    36     36    12    2       1                   3                     4

I can spend the 3 extra points to improve Fate and Resilience – former representing luck, and latter grit and resolve.  I have a feel he may be more resilient than lucky, so will put two of the three points into resilience, and one point into fate.

WS   BS    S     T     Agi  Ini   Dex   Int   Wil   Fel   W   Fate  Resilience   Move

30     32    31   36    32   33    32     39    36     36    12    3       3                         4

Have to choose a motivation to impact on rolepaying and as a means to regain Fortune points (equal to Fate initially).  I see the young herbalist as someone curious, learning from his practical work and being an unschooled innovator.

Motivation: ‘curious and always learning’

Next, is advancing characteristics.  Can allocate 5 advances (each one equal to one point I think) to three attributes marked with a ‘+’ in the advance scheme.  These are, Toughness, Initiative and Agility.

Think I’ll add 4 to Toughness, increasing it to 40 and in turn my Toughness bonus, and +1 Agility. This will also help Wounds (increasing from 12 to 14).

WS   BS    S     T     Agi  Ini   Dex   Int   Wil   Fel   W   Fate  Resilience   Move

30     32    31   40    33   33    32     39    36     36    14    3       3                         4

Step 4.  Skills and Talents

First, species skills and talents.  As a Reiklander, I can pick, from a list, 3 skills to gain 5 Advances, and 3 skills to gain 3 Advances.

He’s a villager serving a local community so I think Animal Care, Gossip and Haggle fit well for the +5%; for the next three I’ll pick Charm, Cool, and Lore (Reikland) for the +3%.

He gets three random talents – I roll 52 (Noble Blood), 58 (Perfect Pitch), and 87 (Suave).

This is the fun of random rolls!  Something of a swerve ball in my character conception, but interesting elements to weave into his personality and backstory.

I can then pick one of Doomed, Savvy, or Suave. He’s got Suave from random roll.  Doomed seems to benefit next PC if this one dies, whereas Savvy increases Intelligence, so will go for that.

For Career Skills and Talents, I can add 40 Advances to eight skills (no more than 10 to one), and can choose a single talent.

Reviewing the first level of the Herbalist Career, Herb Gatherer, I think I’ll do the default of adding +5 to each career skill thus:

Charm Animal +5

Climb +5

Endurance +5

Lore (Herbs) +5

Outdoor Survival +5

Perception +5

Swim +5

Trade (Herbalist) +5

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 12.42.21

Talents – I can choose from Acute Sense (Taste), Orientation, Rover, Strider.

Of these, I like Rover, which helps sneaking around rural environments.


Step 5.  Trappings

These are based upon class, career and (for cash) status too.

Peasants get: Cloak, Clothing, Dagger, Pouch, Sling Bag containing Rations (1 day).

Herbalists get: Boots, Cloak, Sling Bag containing Assortment of Herbs.

Status is Brass 2 – so he gets 4d10 brass pennies, I rolled 24


Step 6. Adding details.

Here, get to choose name, some descriptive and psychological features.

I’ll call him Artur and will have to think about surname and how to integrate his noble blood with being a peasant herb gatherer!

Age for a human is 15+d10, I rolled a 2 so 17.

Rolling for eye colour and hair colour, I get pale grey eyes and golden brown hair for Artur.

Height is 4’9” +2d10” – I roll a 16, for 6’1”. Tall lad!

I can know choose short- and long-term ambitions.  This should be with GM input but for this practice character creation I’ll go with:

Short-term – earn the affection of the local Lord’s daughter

Long-term – become apprenticed at the College of Magic.

Step 7. Party

Probably can’t do this step at this stage.

Step 8. Bring your character to life.

10 helpful questions to generate a backstory – something to come back to when have read the setting chapter.

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 12.42.41

Step 9.  Advancement.

Artur has accrued 70 XP from character creation and using random tables in part.  He’s improved each of his career skills by 5 advantages and has a career talent.  To complete the herb gatherer career he also needs to increase his three career characteristics by +5 each.  He’s increased Toughness by +4, and Agility +1 so far.  70XP will get him two advances in characteristics (25 XP each) and leave 20XP.

I’ll use the two characteristic advances to increase Toughness by +1 (so he’s added a +5 in total and ‘completed’ that) and Initiative by +1.  To complete this career he needs to pick up a further four advances in Agility and in Initiative.  At that point I think Artur will consider switching to Hedge Witch…

So, finally we have:

Artur, a human herb-gatherer.  17 years of age, 6’1”.  Pale grey hair and golden brown eyes.

Status Brass 2

Characteristics (factoring in advances, savvy and suave traits)

WS    BS     S     T     Agi   Ini   Dex    Int   Wil   Fel     W   Fate  Resilience   Move

30      32    31   41    33     34     32      44    36      41    14      3          3                  4



Charm Animal +5

Climb +5

Endurance +5

Lore (Herbs) +5

Outdoor Survival +5

Perception +5

Swim +5

Trade (Herbalist) +5

Animal Care +5

Gossip +5

Haggle +5

Charm +3

Cool +3

Lore (Reikland) +3




Noble Blood



Perfect Pitch



Cloak x2, Clothing, Dagger, Pouch, Sling Bag containing Rations (1 day), Boots, Sling Bag containing Assortment of Herbs.

20 XP remaining


TBC: surname, background (how do I fit in noble blood? or roll again?), and party details.