Sep 11, 2022

The Queen is Dead, Long Live the King!

Wow, what a week. In years to come, people will ask “where were you when the Queen died?”

I was at home, watching the BBC live feed. I’d seen the earlier news that she was under medical supervision. That alone was a very bad sign. Then, the royals started flocking to Balmoral, which could only be an “hours, days at best” sort of situation. There hadn’t been any further announcement, but for such a public figure, it could only mean one thing.

And then a few hours later, the announcement came.

I’m fairly left-wing and believe in democracy, but I’m also a fan of the monarchy. They’re a powerful symbol, and there’s value in having symbolic power separate from political power. Also, she’s always been around. Of course, I knew she wouldn’t last forever, but it was still a shock for her to suddenly be gone. It’s made me sadder than I expected.

So now we have a king. King Charles III. It’ll take a while to get used to hearing “God save the King!” It’s been very interesting watching all these ceremonies and proclamations that last happened so many years ago. But, of course, Charles is in his 70s: this isn’t the last royal succession I’ll see in my life. In another 20 or 30 years we’ll be proclaiming King William sovereign.

Whatever your feelings on the monarchy, Queen Elizabeth II clearly loved her country and her people. She worked to almost the very end, fulfilling her constitutional duty of welcoming the new Prime Minister mere days before her death, at the age of 96.

Overall, I’m somewhat glad I left GOV.UK months ago and so was no longer on the dead-monarch on-call rota.


This week I read:

Roleplaying Games

This was a busy week, with me running three sessions. But it’s a lot of fun, why would I want anything else?


The work game. “GoAdventuring” because I work for GoCardless, get it?

Well, this didn’t go as planned. Last time, the initial group of 5 players finished Winter’s Daughter and gave me the perfect hook for a “return of the frost elves” campaign, two new players wanted to join too, and so I planned a Council of Elrond style meeting, with all PCs gathered by a wizard to deal with the elvish threat. But by total coincidence, none of the initial 5 could make it this week!

Can’t really kick off the main quest if none of the characters who’d done the prologue were present. So I decided to postpone the council, and run a very short, single-session, prologue for the two new characters, so they too would have a shared NPC with the rest of the party.

Session time came around. One of the new players joined, the other did not. We created his character while we waited… and the other player still didn’t arrive. “Off sick” was their Slack status, oh dear.

We decided to go ahead anyway, so the character got hired by the wizard to look into some suspicious stuff, the character in turn hired a retainer so they wouldn’t be setting off into the Dolmenwood by themselves, and off they went to investigate some standing stones! Their retainer was instantly killed by zombies, so the player spent most of the session being fairly cautious and keeping well away from danger, but it was still successful, with a fun time had by all (all two of us). And now they have what I wanted: a connection to and suspicion of the same wizard NPC the first 5 characters are suspicious of.

All’s well that ends well. So when the council happens in a few weeks time, 5 characters will already know each other, the 6th will not know the others but will know the shared NPC, and the 7th won’t know anybody at all, but we can just handle that by saying “off screen, in your backstory, you’ve also done a job for this sketchy wizard”, just like I originally planned to.

And then we can get into the main quest.

Cartographic Curiosities

My other Dolmenwood game! This session we spent a lot of time shopping, which really isn’t ideal and I’ll have to try to speed that up a bit next time. But we did get some actual gaming in, too.

The party set off to Harrowmoor Keep to meet and be rewarded by Lady Harrowmoor for finding out where her daughter was being held captive. They did a little exploration on the way there, finding an imposing standing stone marking (they have figured out) the confluence of two ley lines. At this stone, they encountered an undead lady, bound to the area, sacrificed by the mysterious forest-sorcerers known as the Drune. When leaving, the party were accosted by two of these Drune, who sent them on their way back to the road, with a warning to stay out of the woods.

At the Keep, the party got their reward (gold and horses), met the squire character’s tutor knight (newly missing an arm, lost in rescuing the child), and asked about the Drune only to learn that nobody really knows much about them, other than them being godless heathens who claim much of the forest as their own.

Finally, the party began investigating the burial mound of Sir Chyde,1 only to decide to leave, go back to civilisation, and do some research on him (fantastic, players who want more lore!). They very quickly figured out that the guardians in the entrance hall attack non-Lawful characters, but these sort of puzzles, while simple, add a bit of flavour to dungeons, as they’re now wondering why those guardians are there and whether the wizard who hired them did so because the guardians prevent him from entering the mound.

Unfortunately, I think the players are being just a bit too cautious. Yes, low-level OSE characters are flimsy, but they’re level 3 now and are still running away from everything. I’ll have a look at some alternative rules to make the game just a bit less lethal, perhaps the Goblinpunch Death & Dismemberment rules.

Wicked Ones

This week I kicked off my Wicked Ones campaign, with a joint session 0 & 1. We didn’t get through everything I’d hoped we would, but that was fairly ambitious for the three hours we had. Character creation and choosing the dungeon theme took a little under half the session, then we had a short break, then we spent the rest of the session introducing the characters, capturing the dungeon, and starting to map it out. The entrance to the dungeon is through the crypts beneath an abandoned chapel, and their servitors are little animate skeleton fragments (think skeletal hands scurrying across the floor like bony spiders), which is pretty cool.

All of those steps have their own little mechanics, so there was a lot of me flipping back and forth through the book as we went.

We’re going to chat about the dungeon and the local area over Discord between sessions, and at the start of the next session put down all that detail on the map and then get into the game proper.

I need to go over the rules again to make sure I ran everything correctly, but it was fun, and I’m looking forward to the next session.


I’ve now been using doom emacs for a week.

I’ve made a few tweaks the config as I come across things I didn’t realise I needed, but on the whole it’s pretty nice and does what I want. I think I’ll be sticking with this and retiring my previous emacs config, but I’ll give it a little longer just to be sure.

  1. Yes, more Winter’s Daughter. I think it’s a really great little dungeon, and does a very good job of introducing some of the Dolmenwood lore without just dumping all it on the players.↩︎