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    Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
    9:56 am
    Classic Traveller Starter Kit is currently available for free from RPGNow

    The Classic Traveller Starter Kit is currently available for free from RPGNow until new year. It contains all you need to play Traveller including rules for character, world, sector, starship and encounter generation as well as two complete classic adventures to kick start your own exploration among the stars. Go get it!
    Friday, November 26th, 2010
    8:52 pm
    I aten't dead...
    If it doesn't snow too much in the night I'm off to Dragonmeet tomorrow. It should be a good fun day out. I'm running Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies in the morning (flying ships & sky pirates - how can it not be good?) and Traveller in the afternoon.
    Sunday, September 26th, 2010
    2:23 pm
    If my memory was better...
    I'm looking for a film I remember from the 1980s. It was a scottish film, set in Glasgow and it came out around 1984 or 1985 on the back of the Gregory's Girl/Local Hero wave of scottish films at that time.

    One of the characters was a photographer's assistant and he kept seeing the same girl around Glasgow but never meeting up with her. I suppose it was intended as a romantic comedy. I thought it was a Bill Forsyth film, but apparently not. I also thought it might be called something like ' the girl in the picture', but again I've turned up no results.

    Anyone know what this is, or did I maybe dream it?
    Friday, August 20th, 2010
    5:01 pm
    Happy birthday to...
    HP Lovecraft (who would have been 120 today)

    The son & heir (who is 18 today)

    You know, that explains a lot...
    Saturday, July 17th, 2010
    9:33 am
    Party like its 1977: We are not time travellers...


    I came across this today. The author imagines four popular modern products as if they were designed in 1977. Enjoy!
    Saturday, June 19th, 2010
    10:31 pm
    There is something other than football going on...

    Just because I want to read it properly later -

    Argentina 9-13 Scotland

    Yup. Just because the rest of the country has gone crazy over football, doesn't mean I have.

    Incidentally, am I the only one who thinks writing 'England' on the England flag is pointless? No other country in the world feels the need to write their name on their flag, so why do we assume that no-one else will recognise the England flag unless they are told what it is?

    My neighbour across the road has strung a line of England flags between his house and mine. He asked me if I minded and I said no, as long as he strung them up again next year if England were in the Rugby World cup. He said 'why?'. Oh dear, oh dear...
    Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
    8:22 pm
    Goodbye Frank - you'll be missed

    I'm sad to report that Frank Frazetta has died. The NY times has the report here:

    When I was a teenager I collected Conan novels with the Frazetta covers. I wish I'd kept some of them.

    Sunday, April 18th, 2010
    9:21 am
    Party like it's 1977 again (leg warmers optional)

    The Classic Traveller Starters edition is available for free on RPGNow :

    Note: The download will give you the first book. To download the other two (charts & adventures), you will have to open My Account (in the top right corner of the screen) and select each one from the list in there.

    Sunday, March 21st, 2010
    12:42 pm
    High Flight (and the CAA response)

    Some of you may be aware of the poem, High Flight. Written by a RCAF flier called Gillespie McGee jr during the Battle of Britain (he was an American who had joined the Canadian Air Force to fight). It's sort of a mantra for pilots these days. Sadly Gillespie McGee was killed in action on 11 December 1941. Here's the poem:

    High Flight

    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
    I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air.
    Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
    I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
    Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
    And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
    The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

    Recently, a pilot friend of mine who plainly has too much time on his hands sent me what he thought the Civil Aviation Authority guidance on High Flight would be.


    find it hereCollapse )


    12:33 pm
    Inter-Services Boat Race

    The Navy, Army, and the RAF decided to have a canoe race on the Thames. Each team practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance before the race.

    On the big day, the Navy won by a mile. Afterwards, the RAF team became very discouraged and depressed.

    The officers of the RAF team decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found. A "Metrics Team," made up of senior officers was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

    They concluded that the primary difference between the two teams was that the Navy had 8 seamen rowing and 1 officer steering, while the RAF had 1 airman rowing and 8 officers and NCOs steering.

    So the senior officers of the RAF team hired a consulting company and paid them incredible amounts of money. The consultants delivered a three volume report, and advised that too many people were steering the boat and not enough people were rowing.

    To prevent losing to the Navy again the next year, the RAF Chief of Staff made historic and sweeping changes:

    The rowing team's organizational structure was totally realigned to 4 steering officers, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering NCO.

    They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 airman rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the "Air Force Rowing Team Quality Program," with meetings, dinners, and a three-day leave pass for the rower. "We must give the rower empowerment and enrichment through this quality program."

    The next year the Navy won by 2 miles.

    Humiliated, the RAF leadership gave a letter of reprimand to the rower for poor performance, initiated a £14 million program for development of a new joint-service canoe, blamed the loss on a design defect in the paddles, and issued career continuation bonuses and leather rowing jackets to the beleaguered steering officers in the hopes they would stay for next year's race.

    The Army team, meanwhile, having only recently obtained funding for a boat, is trying to figure out why the oars keep making divots in the grass when they're rowing.

    Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
    9:57 am
    State of the Badger

    I haven't posted much recently, partly because I don't have much to say and partly because I slipped on the ice before Christmas and broke my wrist rather spectacularly (so I'm typing this one and a half-handed because I need the practice before I go back to work). The damage was mainly to the bones in the wrist closest to the lower arm bone and this has meant that they have had to be pinned to hold the wrist in the correct position for healing. I've to go back to have the pins removed (hopefully anyway) in a couple of weeks.

    What it has meant is that I've decided not to go to Conception at the end of this month. I need to be here in case the pins can be removed and I don't fancy risking further damage struggling down to sunny Dorset with a bag full of RPGs and a busted wing. It does mean that I miss the launch of the Mongoose Living Traveller campaign, but rather that than making the wrist worse.

    I am planning to be at Travcon in March. I'm still tweaking adventure 7 in the Project 1112 series for BITS, although it's a pretty solid adventure as the run-through at Dragonmeet proved, and I'm working on adventure 8 which should present the PCs with a real dilemma. In other news the first volume (the first three or four adventures) has been through editing and looks good, so it might even see print this year after all.

    I also have an idea for a standalone Traveller scenario where the characters are a mixed Human and Vargr crew of belters in a system which is suddenly invaded by the K'Kree. K'Kree are militant vegetarians and, while the Humans might be converted to vegetarianism the Vargr won't get that choice so the PCs have to work out how to get enough fuel and get away (possibly saving NPCs too) without getting splatted by the K'Kree. Not so humerous as the Not SpaceDogs adventure I ran at Conception last year but hopefully still fun and a real thought-provoker. 

    I'm also planning to be at ConQuest in Derby in April. I'm trying to decide what to run at the moment. Current favourites are Stormbringer and Cyberpunk 2020, but I may just fall back on Traveller - there is one other BITS referee going apparently, so we could be there 'officially' I guess. My other option is Tunnels & Trolls or Nuclear War (a card game) as this is Flying Buffalo's 40th anniversary year.

    The wee one was away at the weekend at Butlins. This is also the centenary year for girl guiding and all the East Anglia Brownie and Guide packs (troops, cabals, covens, or whatever they are actually called... ) sent a lucky few to Butlins to kick off the celebrations. 3,000 screaming Brownies & Guides and a pitifully few redcoats - it must have been a bit like Zulu Dawn, but without the spears and guns! They did do archery though. She had a great time.

    Wednesday, November 11th, 2009
    7:00 pm
    He raised his fist and grinned, I knew the signs:
    Last one down sets up the pints.
    And then they ran, those round, black holes.
    A perfect line of perforations straight to them.
    The forward jerks. The smiles transfixed.
    That's when they went, I watched them go -
    A twisting spiral, trailing smoke.

    They're all gone now. It's in the past.
    It doesn't fill my mind, except on days like this
    And sometimes in the lonely nights.
    I wonder why they went.
    They must have gone for something...

    Mustn't they?
    Sunday, September 20th, 2009
    9:18 pm
    Its been a funny sort of a week...

    Sunday night and I'm just winding down. I watched Crowdie & Cream earlier on BBC4 and I'm all jolly now and my cheeks are hurting from all the smiling. The books have been trimmed quite a bit, but that happens with anything which is transferred to the screen, but it's a good adaptation. I must see if I can get hold of the soundtrack. I'm also pleased at how much I can follow even without the subtitles.

    The week started with us getting all the post which has been held up in the one & two-day postal strikes they've been having here (we had three deliveries in an hour on Monday). The strikes have been very close together (one two-day strike on a Thursday & Friday and the next one on the following Monday and Tuesday - of course, not much got done on the Saturday half-shift in between...). Ordinarily this wouldn't be a problem, but we've been waiting for stuff about the son & heir's student loan and university accomodation to come through, including his contract for the halls of residence, all of which requires signatures and therefore can't be done by e-mail. The upshot is the son & heir has been working himself into a bit of a froth about the whole thing and is now on pills from the doctor to calm his nerves.

    On Tuesday, the boiler blew something expensive in it's innards. The first plumber couldn't make sense of the error indicators and backed out gracefully on the Wednesday night. The second plumber on Thursday took a chance and was fortunately proved right and we had hot water again after 48 hours. But, the bill ate up all the free cash I had saved for Furnace next month. Maybe it's the curse of aitkendrum spreading.  I'm waiting for my bank statement to find out whether I can still afford to go for the whole weekend or whether I can only afford a day trip. We'll see.

    On Thursday morning one of the goldfish had died and the wee one went off to school in tears, but not until we'd had a little funeral for it (under the rose bushes, so the killer cat doesn't dig it up and have a play with it). By Thursday night, the remaining one was looking distinctly peaky (floating vertically isn't usual for a goldfish) and Friday morning we had another interment. Sadly the gravedigger wasn't allowed a medicinal dram for his arduous duty, but I suppose things might have been said at work...

    The weekend was mainly spent buying stuff for the son & heir to take away with him. Bedding, new clothes, a rather smart little one-person wok from Lakeland (even though he doesn't cook and he's going to be in part-catered halls). He's kind of excited and kind of scared too. It's a big step leaving home and moving 150+ miles, but he won't be the only one - all the first years will be in the same boat.

    Anyway, whatever kind of week you've just had, I hope your next one is better.

    Monday, August 31st, 2009
    5:03 pm
    Making golf more inclusive...
    An owner of a string of golf course in the SE of England has banned an all-female caddy service because it damages the appeal of the sport. See:

    The owner of the business says that all her models complete a training programme and are trained in ettiquette and uniformed in appropriate golf attire. So lets look at one of her caddies, Amy: (probably not work safe, as if you hadn't guessed). If that is appropriate golf attire, it might even convince me to take up the game...

    The full website is here:

    Sunday, August 30th, 2009
    12:48 pm
    Cyber and real world mix

    Posted so that I can find this later.

    I'm working on a Cyberpunk-style game background set in London and this will be useful for that.

    In other news, I'm busy writing scenarios for a convention in Sheffield next month. Four games: Paranoia, Stormbringer, Pendragon and Savage Worlds. I must be mad.

    I've also re-started work on adventure 7 in the Project 1112 Traveller series which might one day see print. The plot we had come up with was far too busy and certainly wouldn't fit in a four-hour convention slot (the other use for the scenarios). I've trimmed it quite considerably, keeping the main elements (archaeologists, Droyne [alien race with their own agenda] and an ancients site. Should be fun and, more importantly, playable in the given time. Hopefully that will see the light of day at Dragonmeet in November.

    I'm also working on a Pendragon scenario for Conception in January next year. Provisionally entitled 'The Adventure of the Kingswear Dragon'. It should be quite fun if I can make it work.

    Plus, I've been on a bit of a retro gaming kick over the last couple of months, having a go at Tunnels & Trolls, OD&D and Star Frontiers and digging out some really old boardgames from the 70s. Once Project 1112 is finished, this may become something of a trend. We'll see.
    Thursday, August 6th, 2009
    7:18 pm
    In Memoriam: Harry Patch, Henry Allingham and a generation that was lost in France
    Why do you still march old man, With medals on your chest?
    Why do you still grieve old man, For those friends you laid to rest?
    Why do your eyes gleam old man, When you hear those bugles blow?
    Tell me why you cry old man, For those days so long ago?

    I'll tell you why I march young man, With medals on my chest.
    I'll tell you why I grieve young man, For those I laid to rest.
    Through misty fields of gossamer silk Come visions of distant times.
    When boys of tender age Marched forth to distant climes.

    We buried them in a blanket shroud, Their young flesh scorched and blackened.
    A communal grave, newly gouged, In blood-stained gorse and bracken.
    And you ask why I march young man? I march to remind you all,
    That but for those apple-blossom youths You'd never have known freedom at all
    Saturday, July 18th, 2009
    2:52 pm
    The world has gone crazy
    Here's more proof (if it were needed) that the world has gone crazy.

    First, the Pentagon were considering banning its troops from smoking in a war zone (, but eventually discarded the idea because it might stress the troops unnecessarily.

    Then came news that the police now have a Pagan Police Federation and pagan members of the force can have their own'religious' holidays at Haloween and the solstices. See:

    What's next? Best guesses won't receive a prize (because that might encourage competitiveness...) :-0
    Sunday, March 15th, 2009
    7:35 pm
    Lucky escape...
    I dropped the EOS 5 today. The camera and lense are fine, but the filter is completely wrecked. Trouble is, it was a screw-in filter and the frame of the filter has buckled slightly and is now jammed on the end of the lense. The glass in the filter is all gone, but I won't be able to screw any other filters onto that lense. Oh well, it could have been worse I suppose.
    Monday, February 2nd, 2009
    3:26 pm
    Home again...

    I actually came home from Conception yesterday afternoon. I had intended to come home yesterday anyway, but the increasingly frantic weather warnings confirmed my decision. I saw nothing until I got to Kings Cross, when I saw the first flakes of snow INSIDE the train shed. Stevenage was mercifully obscured by snow, but home was pretty much free of it.

    Conception was great fun. I arrived late on the Wednesday afternoon after a pretty smooth journey to find that neilf had arrived only a few minutes before.

    I didn't run anything on the Thursday. I spent the day mooching around catching up with old friends. I was surprised to find that Colin Wheeler (who runs Gamers) had a trade stand there - and a bit aggravated too as he could have given me a lift rather than me spending loads on a rail ticket.

    Friday morning I ran the 'Not SpaceDogs' scenario I had written. Due to the level of interest we had enough players for two games (and several others who wanted a game, but we had no more space). Neil very kindly stepped in at short notice and ran the second table. 

    'Not Spacedogs' was a scream. The players very quickly got into the Vargr mentality and set about the scenario with bags of enthusiasm and secure in the knowledge that only the highest Charisma character would be shot if it all went wrong... Amongst a great many funny moments, the highlight of the game was after the PCs had fought off an attempt by the NPC Vargr to storm the bridge - one PC was dead (killed by his own side), two were lightly wounded (mostly by the enemy) and another was horribly wounded (by his own side and the enemy). They then began to plan how to capture a warship by calling for medical help and then storming it (!). The horribly wounded character suggested that they needed someone with a 'convincing wound' (!), so he shot one of the unwounded PCs in the leg, doing maximum damage and causing him to black out.

    Friday afternoon I ran Pendragon. The plot centred around avenging the murder of a king and receiving the kingship themselves and it went down well.

    Saturday afternoon I ran the Pendragon scenario again for another group, including neilf . Again, it went well and the players all got up from the table smiling (always a good sign, I think).

    Saturday evening I ran an All Flesh Must Be Eaten game. AFMBE is a zombie game, and I'd set it during the age of piracy, because the players had guns, but they were effectively one-use because they took so long to reload. The PCs were part of the crew of a sloop and they had a map with an X marked on it, but X doesn't always mean treasure.

    One of the players, knowing that the game was a zombie game, played the entire thing waiting for the zombies to turn up and loading himself down with extra guns and powder and the like. But the other five played it straight and we had a laugh. Again, there were many funny moments, but one highlight was when the party got back to the beach and finished off some zombies attempting to keep them from their longboat. Then the captain turned round and saw the PC with the peg leg (half move, further reduced on the sandy beach) struggling down the beach just as a load of zombies broke out of the tree-line (moving faster than him).

    I didn't run anything Sunday morning as I wanted to do a little shopping (leisuregames were there too) and leave my options clear for what train to get home.

    I picked up a couple of new card games (well, new to me anyway): Adventurer ( and Skallywaggs (, but I haven't played either of them yet.

    Sunday, January 25th, 2009
    6:59 pm
    Convention Checklist
    I'm off to Conception in sunny Dorset on Wednesday. Sadly the young and lovely mr aitkendrum cannot join us, for entirely understandable reasons though - family must come first, no question - but we'll be thinking of you buddy.

    I've written a Traveller scenario - not the one the BITS guys were expecting, but a Vargr one. The one they were hoping for (the 7th in the series) is proving to be a swine to write. I'm not too happy with #6, which I know I rushed, so I want to make #7 better and not a railroady travelogue.

    I'm just finishing off a Pendragon scenario. I still have to print the characters and put some NPC stats in, especially for the final battle, but otherwise it's done.

    I've canned the Space 1889 scenario. Of the two people who asked for it, one has double-booked and I'm not sure I'd get enough players.

    I'm looking at running some All Flesh Must Be Eaten, because zombies never go out of fashion. Sadly not the Shaun of the Dead scenario I've been toying with for a while, because I don't have maps done for it, but something nearly as good - Pirates! That should be amusing...

    Now to check the cameras and pack the bags. I wonder if I have enough space to bring the EOS? Hmm...

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