Book Review: Lullabies for Dungeon Crawlers

6196yU0iPgL.jpgSo here’s a thing I haven’t done in a long time, a book review!

Lullabies for Dungeon Crawlers by M. Todd Gallowglas is a collection of roleplaying game, fantasy, and dungeon crawling inspired poetry. The book is slim, only 60 pages, and laid out in a minimalist manner.

I haven’t done this recently, so let’s get right to the point. I had a great time reading this book.

I’m not a poetry critic, so I can’t get into if Gallowglas’s words fall into some nebulous category of “good” or “bad”, but I can unequivocally state: I had fun, I laughed, I nodded in agreement, and I saw a reflection of love for the hobby and industry where I’ve been living in some part for the last 20 years.

Gallowglas has an insight into the world of tabletop RPGs, and even when he’s poking fun, it’s with a very loving smile towards an old friend, no malice or ill intent.

I should probably close this review, with some sort of RPG based pun, like how this book rolled a natural 20 to win my heart, or Gallowglas clearly didn’t make poetry his dump stat, but that’d be cheesy….

I fully recommend this book if you love tabletop RPGs, and I don’t think you’ll go wrong with it. It’s an excellent, loving and tongue in cheek analysis of our beloved hobby through an unique medium.

You can read the eBook for free on Kindle Unlimited or buy a hardcopy here.

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Pendragon Halloween Game Recipes

Cooking with Alan Time!

Some folks asked for the recipes I used for the Pendragon Halloween Game. Here they are!

You’ll have to bear with me, I’ve never written recipes on this blog before.

These recipes are deliberately medieval-styled, but obviously benefit from modern advances. I used this site to do my best to use ingredients that were as authentic as possible. But I didn’t break my back, as I was more concerned about “feel” than accuracy.

The stew (except for potatoes & the Lea and Perrins) is fairly authentic to some historical recipes that have been studied/cataloged. Obviously Guinness wasn’t around in the same way, but one can safely assume some form of beer was. Now, I’m not a scholar, so that information might be outdated, but I did do some research (yay internet and some free books!) to figure out how close I was.

The Berry crumble is a take on a Scandinavian recipe, and is a pretty reasonable extrapolation of a possible dessert (but there’s no evidence they actually ate dessert in the way we consider it now.)

As for the cider, well, that’s just really good. And it has the benefit of being possible. There’s Saxon and other cultural chronicles that indicate cider was drank regularly! So….yeah.

Not accurate, but a lazy effort!

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Halloween Game 2017 – Pendragon

This is a really late update, but hey. Here we go.

I ran a Pendragon one-off for my Halloween game in 2017.


Rules Changes for MOAR HORROR

I introduced a new “Curse” mechanic to the players. I had a giant d20 on the table set at ‘1’. Every time a player rolled a result equal to that number on the d20 (or lower) I increased the D20 by 1 and then they had to draw a Curse Card from the Curse Deck.

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There were 4 types of curses. They had more “purple” names on the cards, but functionally:

  • Blood Curse (They took more damage and dealt more damage.)
  • Corruption Curse (big penalty on rolls.)
  • Cowardice Curse (had to make severe Valorous checks to do certain things.)
  • Death Curse (only one of these in the deck, but you had to make a Valorous test or take damage for each curse you had, then all the Curses in play shuffled back into the deck.)

The basic setup put them in a cursed faerie forest, trying to rescue their wives, who were kidnapped by an evil Fae-Skeleton.

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FOOD!

I made the following meal for them:

  • Guinness Stew consisting of carrots, beef, potatoes, a Guinness broth with a few secret ingredients of my own.
  • Homemade Apple Cider with a spice recipe I learned from Mom.
  • Cloudberry Crumble, a dessert made from green apples, cloudberry jam, brown suger, and flower.

There was various assorted modern drinks too. You can find the recipes here.

We ate on wooden dishes and utensils for extra immersion!

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Cider

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Stew

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Cloudberry Crumble


The Game

It was a blast! We had a great time, full of awesome moments. All of these players learned Pendragon for the first time (except one.)

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In the other room, I’d set up the castle I’d bought and painted along with special minis for them and their knights (plus all the enemies) which ended with a climatic battle, where all the Knights but one died, and the survivor was cursed to be a werewolf (some seriously bad luck.)

It was a blast and I’m already mapping out this years Halloween game.

On Impossible Standards, Failure & Success

It’s been a very long few weeks.

If I’m being honest, it’s been a very long few months.

It all started with some fairly large misses on my end on the production of Tiny Dungeon 2e. In fairness to myself, I’m working two jobs, while conducting a job hunt.

But fairness to myself isn’t something I’m good with. That’s just an excuse.

I screwed up. And then I screwed up on something else (a few somethings). And then tonight, again. It feels like a trend lately. And when I mess up, I start to read into conversations through the lens of failure. It’s almost impossible to get around it. Every email is a job I’m losing, every conversation is someone wanting to quit working with me.

Logically, I know that it’s a byproduct of two cons in 6 weeks, two ongoing jobs, two ongoing fulfillments for Kickstarters, and no breaks and no vacations.

I know that GKG has a pretty good reputation and most of our customers like us. At least I think so. Most people would call my career at this point successful. I’m really good at ignoring bad reviews. But my own mistakes? Not so great. I mostly feel like a failure.

I can’t remember the last time I felt recharged and ready to go.

But like I said. I’m not good at fairness to myself. I hold the work I do in the game industry to a very high standard. I mean, the idea of asking folks to give me money for a game is based on a level of ego that I have to have, and I’m asking them to trust me. I take that very seriously. Trust is a sacred and important thing.

So when I mess up, I take it hard. Very hard. I don’t like messing up, and I especially don’t like making mistakes I feel are stupid.

Self-care and self-forgiveness are hard. I’m very aware of my weakness, especially as they relate to bipolar. What I’m bad at is letting stuff go when I make mistakes and failure hits.

I’m not sure how to get over this hump. I realize I’m holding myself up to an impossible standard of no mistakes, and experienced and veteran companies make these same mistakes (or worse ones), but that doesn’t feel better. I’m not them. I’m me. And I made the mistakes.

I don’t have some grand illuminating point to this. I don’t have some solution or reference, or quip that’ll fix it. I wish I did. But I know doesn’t work that way.

I do have a few days off where I’m not bringing any electronics, no work, just quiet, the wife, books and movies, and recharging myself.

I hope it helps. I need something to work here. Cuz I feel like I’m not.