Saturday, August 30, 2014

Star Trek: Prelude to Axanar

Oooooh, that looks so good. I have pretty much given up on the official reboot and turned to all the Trek stuff people are doing with crowdfunding. I think crowdfunding is ideal for Star Trek because of the huge fanbase and because of how creative those fans are. They have a long tradition of creating their own content. And between this and Star Trek Renegades, my hopes are up for watching well-written Trek again, made by people who love it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

No Honey


Here are my bees. The photos were taken two weeks ago when I wanted to harvest honey and found out that they didn’t have nearly enough to get them over the winter, let alone any to spare. The year was a bad one for honey all around and many beekeepers had the same problem.


I don’t mind, I just hope they will make it. They are getting sugar water now so they can build up their reserves. The comb lying on the bottom, that was my fault. It still has brood in it, so I leave it there until its empty, then I’ll take it out. You can see in the next photo that the honey combs are empty and really light in colour, compared to the reddish yellow of the brood comb.


In the two weeks since I took those photos, they have built more honey combs and have started filling them with honey made from the sugar water I give them.

I don’t know if I mentioned it, the swarm is named Ygramul. I am amazed every time I look at the hive, all those tiny animals working together, neatly building their home. Just look at those honeycombs, it’s just so perfect.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What I did on my holiday

I got myself some spectacular bruises all over my body by doing my not very best at letting other people not hit me with a wooden sword.

Medusa from Ludus Nemesis, a gladiator reenactment group I joined a couple of months ago. The archeological museum in Meppen does a reenactors festival every year and the group is a regular there. We do show fights (as in: no blood, but the fights themselves are not staged) and gladiator training for kids:
junior gladiator
junior gladiators

The festival spanned a time from 2nd century CE to the 18th century.

spinning with a newel
Vada, our slave - she's spinning wool with a newel here

blacksmith at work
blacksmith at work

another showfight

hunting party, 18th century
and the 18th century hunting party

I got to shoot a crossbow and this musket, a Brown Bess (not a replica, by the way), and I am so going to get a licence that allows me to own, load and fire a musket (the law is that anyone can shoot, but loading requires a licence)
firing a musket

and then this guy walked into the Roman camp (after hours, with the visitors gone)


Websites for some of the groups:
Vex Vet Leg XIX
Ludus Nemesis

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Shadowrun: Ravens of Doom

My group is currently on a roadtrip through the NAN/UCAS (the US in 2071) from Seattle to Boston, driving a ton of chocolate for the Irish mob. They are pretty much all street kids and none of them have spent any significant time outside Seattle. So they are not sure what to expect, but they have heard stories of the trouble outsiders have in the Native American Nations and about awakened (magical) animals and plants.

In real life, one of my players is an old hand at Shadowrun and he has been verbosely paranoid about all the bad things that can happen when you mess with Nature in the NAN. Normally, dark hints would have been my job as the GM, but all I had to do was let him talk.

The group decided to make camp at the side of the road somewhere and hunted down a porcupine (plus its three babies) for dinner. Three of the characters were busy in the woods and two were left in the camp, making a porcupine BBQ. The sight attracted two ravens - they were big birds and they just sat there, watching. The characters start to get nervous and throw them some meat, in the hope that they will go away.

That cunning plan failed, you will be surprised to hear. More ravens appeared, just sitting there, behind the characters. Who grabbed the big porcupine and ran to their truck, locking themselves in, waiting for enforcements. The ravens were left to enjoy their meal more or less in peace and to crap all over the campsite. Oh, and they stole the cookset.

I had originally planned to confront them with Stormcrows, the awakened raven species. These are even more intelligent and can influence the weather. But I quickly realised that this would have been a total waste, my players were absolutely freaking out about a couple of ravens. Alfred Hitchcock would have been proud. It was a lesson in keeping things simple for me and in relying on the fact that characters, given the opportunity, will get themselves into trouble. That's no reason to get lazy with the session planning, but it doesn't always need to be the big monster.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Nobody Expects Plants

I got my hands on a really evil Shadowrun sourcebook: Parabotany. Yes, it's all plants, mutated, awakened/magical and fairly normal ones. And no-one ever expects plants to be anything else than scenery. Most of the plants are fairly harmless or even useful, especially for an awakened character. But some can get characters in serious trouble. Most plants I have seen used by GMs (mostly in fantasy games) are half-sentient and I'm not a fan of this.

Plants are quite awesome the way they are, not intelligent but well-prepared for survival with a bag of tricks we ignore at our own risk. Plants communicate. Plants fight and plants move. So you pick some salad for a meal and suddenly the rest of the salad turns poisonous because the first plants gives off a chemical signal 'I'm being attacked!'? Plants that use you as an unwilling seed carrier, maybe by lodging sharp seeds in your skin, all the plants in the area at once? Plants that can call animals that protect them when they are being picked or trampled? Plants do all that. Now let's ramp it up, add some magic to the mix and the lush meadow your character is walking through suddenly is a battlefield.

I have some favourites from the Parabotany and State of the Art sourcebooks, like the giant tumbleweed and the perfectly harmless looking grass with seeds that will shatter on contact, capable of sandblasting a car or person. My players are already a bit paranoid about the animals they encounter during their roadtrip. By the time they reach Boston, they will probably twitch nervously at the sight of a tuft of grass.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Something Went Wrong

We were a GM short for our last Deadlands session and so we played Something Went Wrong instead. It's a short, fast game, very light on rules: a group of experienced adventurers go on a last dungeon crawl to set themselves up for life. They have seen and done it all, so what could go wrong?

Character creations is done after assigning a class, an alignment and four stats. Oh, and a piece of loot, like the Jet-Black Dagger of Masterful Stabbing our group favoured. The GM sets up the encounter with the help of a random table and after one round of combat, passes the job of GM off to the player on her left. And just when everything is going really well, the GM has access to some more random tables with creative mishaps for everyone.

Our groupd had characters like Lootina the Thief, Cohen the Barbarian and the Great Fumblerado and fought against four dragons, four koalas and four tiny giants. People were roasted, tiny giants crawled up pants legs, koalas were clubbed to death with other koalas and a dwarf appearing out of nowhere served beer for everyone in an unexpected interlude. Somehow, everyone but two characters survived. One was killed, revived and then killed again when Cohen's axe slipped. Sorry about that.

If you're ever in need of a game for one evening that doesn't take a lot of explaining, is playable by a large group (we were six) and doesn't take itself seriously at all, check out Something Went Wrong. You can download it for free (or pay what you want) at Drive Thru RPG or at