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Archive for November, 2019

Returning to Unity

In the new year, I decided I needed to get into a new hobby to keep myself occupied. Naturally, my mind immediately went “Well, I’ll just play a lot of games”. That doesn’t really sit well with me. I’m always wanting to tinker, to explore and create. So I decided that I would have to go back to Unity, something I dabbled in quite a bit when I was younger. Having returned to the software, it’s amazing how much was foreign to me again… But I find the unknown to be pretty exciting. Here’s what my gripes have been since returning, as well as what I found still so intuitive and fun.

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Gaming Until 4AM

Have you ever been on a serious gaming holiday? You and a bunch of friends in a caravan or a rented house or something that has some combination of beds and a table that gives you space to just play some games, somewhere that isn’t home.

It sounds counterproductive, what’s the point of going somewhere different to do the same thing you do at home with the same people you game with every week? If you’ve allocated time off work already, is there much point to spending money on a change of surroundings as well? At least at a convention there’s an event, friends who have travelled across country to see, strangers to meet and chat to, shows and panels. Going on holiday should usually be an opportunity to go out and see somewhere new, experience different things, things that break the monotony of life at home and give you a change of scenery, scenery you’re not going to see if you’re playing board games inside.

Plus if you stay home you get to sleep in your own bed.

This weekend I was in a hostel less than half an hour from my house with a bunch of friends, most of whom I see once a week, many at least once a month, all compressed into bunk beds with a small kitchen/diner with limited parking and sat on the side of a hill that made moving stuff from our respective cars hard work… because I’m a nerd and spend most of my day in a computer chair not walking up and down hills. There were ten of us with little to no room to breathe, let alone cook bacon and pancakes for everyone.

Sincerely, I would advise everyone go on a gaming holiday with friends. It’s not my first either, many years ago I went to a caravan in Wales to do the same thing but heavier on the Dungeons & Dragons, and there are plans on the table to do the same thing again soon. There were hill and valley walks available to us, a small town within a half hour’s walk, but the main attraction by far was the collection of games we’ve all played dozens of times before, but there is something about the change of scenery, the geographic distance from day-to-day life, and in my case, distance from my computer, it all makes you appreciate and enjoy your hobbies so much more, and at the risk of sounding cheesy, it makes you appreciate the people more.

It gives you the time to settle into the larger-scale games that may not be played all that often because of the investment of time. Robo-Rally and Arkham Horror, things that can take hours, or take obscene amounts of setting up. I would say that taking a holiday with ten people and only one six-person table between us was perhaps not ideal, and as an astonishing majority of games cap at eight players, it’s an awkward sized crowd when you really want everyone at the table.

I also advise taking coffee because you’ll need it the morning after playing Mao until 4AM and only stopping because every card you play is giving you a panic attack.


GeekOut Bristol Meet – December 7th: The Secretest Santa

18+ Event

In what will be our last monthly GeekOut Bristol Meet. Come join us for a festive fun competition, the return of Super Secret Santa and great company!

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NaNoWriMo 2019 Update – I’m Over Halfway

You know, a lot of the content that you’re reading this month was prepared last month… No, really, I spent a few weeks ramming through as many words and as many interesting articles as I could. Hopefully you’ve been kept entertained, but we’re not out of the woods yet, as we’ve still got another half of NaNoWriMo to commit to. Today’s post is a quick update on how the event’s going, how my novel’s going, how many words I’m at and more.

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Top 10 Reborn Characters

GeekOut Top 10s

Rebirth, resurrection, metamorphosis, here assembled are characters who undergo transformative experiences, generally involving some period of death, or at least dormancy (at least one cocoon).

While we ourselves undergo a time of great change and transformation, here is our Top 10 list of characters who have been reborn.

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Spend Your New Years With Us: GeekOut Bristol Meet – New Years Eve 2019!

It’s now close enough to Christmas to where we should be able to talk more about our New Year’s Eve 2019 event. We held one of these New Year’s Eve events in 2017 going into 2018. We were going to come back to for the 2018 New Year’s Eve, but circumstances dictated otherwise. Now, we’re back for another New Year’s Eve event filled with geeky fun. Want to know more? Good, read on and we’ll give you a summary of what’s happening, how you can join us and more!

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Taking the Tarrasque Seriously

The highest challenge rating in D&D, dropped into every monster manual, the fantasy Godzilla, has become something of a joke. Everyone who’s been in the game long enough has a “Tarrasque plan” or a story of how they one-shot or would one-shot the Tarrasque, and every DM has thrown the word around as the monster equivalent of “Rocks Fall, Everybody Dies”.

It appears in no famous campaigns, it has very little by way of back-story, it just sleeps beneath the world waiting for the time when it must rise and destroy, a thing as old or perhaps older than gods, with no motive other than to smash and destroy. And to be honest, by the time your party have reached an adequate level to defeat it, it’s actually pretty easy because it’s incredibly dimwitted, sluggish, and while it has hit points for days, a bucket of resistances, and can deflect certain magical effects, it can be overwhelmed and destroyed in time.

Now, fifth edition did a lot to lend personality to monsters, to contextualise them in potential scenarios and use evocative descriptions to bring out the best in even the most obscure creatures, such that one could imagine including them in any number of adventures. And yet the Tarrasque remains a law unto itself, the party benchtest, the DM’s biggest and nastiest threat, that arrives without warning, wants nothing but destruction, and needs to be put down the old fashioned way.

Let’s do some work:

People Are Crazy

The Tarrasque represents a force of nature, if you’re looking for a story, look no further than Godzilla for some ideas, although more specifically look at the human elements. The stirrings of the Tarrasque might raise cults or dark scholars who embrace the idea of a world-wide extinction, or perhaps there are lunatic agents who believe they can control the rampaging beast. Necromancers – hells, Vecna himself – might invoke the beast to rise to cause untold death to swell their ranks.

In this scenario we have cults of madness and death, possibly demons, likely necromancers. Players will have to prevent them from seeking rituals, or journey to the place where the Tarrasque slumbers, and go to war against the creatures that wish to awaken it, without doing their job for them.

Times Are Strange

The ground shakes, sinkholes swallow entire forests, hurricanes scour cities, mountains fall, the underground spills out into the overworld, bringing with it every nightmare that had previously remained hidden.

You could run a perfectly ordinary campaign filled with enemies and disasters, all of which stemming from mysterious natural disasters, or perhaps riddled with villains who seem desperate and fearful, or knowing and gleeful. The whole campaign would be almost “business as usual” but riddled with hints at a greater evil or some bigger disaster still to come.

And that’s what the Tarrasque should be, a disaster, not just a big monster, but surrounded by fear, and chaos. Perhaps it’s right that there’s no reflection in the monster’s stat block, that the awakening of the Tarrasque causes the ground to heave and shake, but the concept of the creature is that it is as much a disaster as a tidal wave. Consider adding regional effects, except that its “region” is the size of a continent, and the effects get progressively worse the closer it comes to awakening.

King of Monsters

Go leafing through monster manuals and you’ll find a lot of monsters that could rival the Tarrasque in power, although very few of them are material creatures. Elementals like the Leviathan and the Phoenix, weapons of the gods like the Kraken or the Empyrean, demon princes, arch devils, aberrations, and of course ancient dragons. Want to cast your players in the roles of hapless victims of a war between titans.

There’s potential in that campaign, the desperate struggle for survival, the search for a solution, that ultimately culminates in titan after titan being killed or returned to its slumber through ancient rituals, or cunning on the part of the players. So long as they feel they have some agency in the war, they’ll slowly gather in power until they are ready to murder the king of the monsters himself, Godzi- the Tarrasque.

Changing Things Up

Quick last thing, lets throw some ideas of how to make the Tarrasque more horrifying… because that’s a good idea.

Anti-Magic Breath Weapon – It’s different, it imparts a limitation on the antimagic ability so as not to make it too potent, but it also adds a layer of intimidation to the wizards hiding behind layers and layers of protective magic. It also suggests that the Tarrasque in question is a force designed to end magic in the world, it could herald a time of diminished magic in the world.
The Lionfish Problem – Give it poisonous quills on top of the impervious carapace to casually remind your group that there’s always a bigger fish.
Ranged Weapon – The biggest weakness of the Tarrasque is that it is heavily reliant on its melee reach to have any effect. Maybe just a thrown rock, but with a several hundred foot range, and with an area effect.
Or Burrowing – The ground’s already shaking, and why wouldn’t the Tarrasque be able to tunnel through the ground like it was swimming through water? That bite attack becomes far more harrowing when it’s rising from beneath you.
Corrupted – I included some ideas above for Tarrasque cults, they could probably change the creature into something more demonic, or even undead.
Flying Tarrasque – Why not, that’s hilarious.

Oh! Last thing, someone’s trying to get a Tarrasque mini kickstarted, and the stretch goals are “bigger mini” which I like. Not a fan of the design myself, but I respect the idea and what they’re trying to do. Here’s a link, check it out, no doubt other people will like the design.


Bot Games in League of Legends

I’ve never had a huge understanding of League of Legends, but it’s a lot of fun to watch. I remember being at a gamer pub in London (Meltdown), where they hosted what I presume would have been the World Championship at the time. It was all new to me, so I didn’t pay it too much mind, except for the fact that people were genuinely fascinated by it… And I found there were lots of quirks that made it a lot of fun to watch. Naturally, this has led to me trying a number of games, but… I’m a big scaredy cat and like my safety.

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Oswestry Library 2020 – Shropshire DM

At the time of writing, I’m about an hour away from publishing the dates for next year’s games at Oswestry Library, currently my most dependable source of income, and at this point places are so hard fought for that I am going to be disappointing more people than I will be entertaining… which is nice… I think.

By the time this article is published, this will already be plastered all over the local Facebook pages:

Here’s a quick rundown of the plans:

Wizards Only, Fools: January 11th, under 16’s D&D, and it’s an all-wizard party. Currently I’m thinking level 6 so we have lots of spells to play with but not so many that we’ll be overwhelmed. And of course with everyone playing as students of the arcane, something magic is bound to go wrong.

Bury Me Deep: January 11th, over 16’s D&D. An odd stipulation to find in someone’s will, a ten foot deep grave and a lead sheet over the coffin. Players will be a standard team at level five, and they might need a few extra magic items to get to the bottom of this mystery.

End of the World: A three session D&D game for the under 16’s, 8th and 22nd of February, and the 14th of March. Over three sessions a group of level 5 players will witness the beginning of the end, and maybe there’s nothing they can do about it.

Bear Hunt: A three session D&D game for the over 16’s, 8th and 22nd of February, and the 14th of March. Mighty hunters (level 4) will face a pack of bears that cooperate too well, fight too ferociously, and threaten a local settlement with complete extermination.

Sci-Fi Month, Era the Consortium: 11th of April, and yeah, I think April will remain sci-fi month for the foreseeable future. Another team of expendable mercenaries take up a job for one company in order to screw over another.

Night of Demons: 9th of May under 16’s systemless game. From the pit arise a new host of demons, insubstantial wisps of malice barely capable of influencing their surroundings, but bent on causing chaos however they can, in order to grow in power and return home stronger than ever.

The Train Heist: 9th of May, over 16’s systemless game. Flat caps a must, because a band of gangsters are hopping a train to lift something priceless on board. Screw this one up and you’ll end up on the wrong side of the next train going through, capeesh?

Dungeon: Now with Real Dragon! A three session D&D game, 13th and 27th of June, and the 11th of July. It’s a straight forward dungeon crawl for level 6 characters. Light on the story, heavy on the monsters and traps, possibly a dragon, I guess we’ll find out! You might even make it to the end.

Character Building Workshop: Twenty spaces in the morning and twenty in the afternoon, 25th of July. We’ll spend some time creating characters for roleplaying games, but easy on the rules, heavy on the roleplay, psychology, and creative writing.

Improv Month: 8th of August, D&D. Who wants to see me winging a whole game? Utilising some limited random writing prompts and a few suggestions from the players, I’ll be pushing my DM skills to the limit, with zero prep-time and all made up on the spot. Coherence is not guaranteed.

Dungeon Master’s Guide: Twenty spaces in the morning, twenty in the afternoon of the 29th of August. Ever wanted to do what I do? Good, everyone should at some point, you’ll finally appreciate how much furious paddling is going on behind the screen. Everyone will leave the room with an idea for an adventure, ready (or nearly ready) to run!

Weird West: 12th of September for both the over and under 16s, let’s dabble in Savage Worlds and the Weird West, a jaunt into a version of nineteenth century America, but we’re not just talking guns and gold. This frontier is crawling with stranger things than scorpions and bandits.

The Thing in the Ice: A three session D&D game for the under 16’s, 10th and 31st of October, and the 14th of November. Humans will raise a town just about anywhere, and while you’re stuck in a frozen port town in the middle of nowhere, strange occurrences surround the iceberg that’s floating in the middle of the bay. Characters should be 4th level.

Grave Dirt: A three session D&D game for the over 16’s, 10th and 31st of October, and the 14th of November. The death of a senior in the church hierarchy starts arguments about who is best to bring spiritual guidance to the people. Players will be required to keep the peace, as society begins to crumble during the “debate”. Level 5 characters most likely.

Christmas Special: 12th of December, another D&D game with a shameless seasonal theme because good goddamn I love Christmas and I love writing Christmassy games. Character levels tbd.

Now, I mention character levels for a reason, a lot of you have been asking about bringing your own characters. I’ve planned out as much of the year as possible because I’m usually happy for people to bring their own sheets but I rarely knew this year what I’d be running from month to month. If you want to bring your own character, talk to me first, I reserve the right to make alterations or outright veto a character but I’d still prefer you had characters that you really wanted to play.

And on the subject of reserved rights, a couple of important notes: All of the dates and game titles are subject to change and availability is extremely limited, in fact in the last hour and a half since I started writing this piece I’ve sold most of the under 16’s places for the year.


GeekOut UK Is Closing In 2020

Hi everyone, Tim here. I’ve run this website for over six years and today’s the article I never wanted to post. Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end at some point, so I have to thank each and every one of you who’ve made this journey so enjoyable. I didn’t want to just suddenly disappear with no reasons for it, like many a website does. No, I feel that everyone deserves to hear the reasons why we’re disbanding the group and the mission, especially after all this time. I’ll also talk briefly about future ventures and the likes. So yeah, let’s get this sombre post done. (more…)