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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in rince_wind's LiveJournal:

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Friday, October 8th, 2010
12:26 pm
A post!
Omg, an actual post on LJ, I havent had one of these in, well, a very long time.

I shall be at Furnace this weekend.  If anyone from Sheffield is there then feel free to come and say hello.  I shall be running the most excellent Lady Blackbird game.
Saturday, April 4th, 2009
3:52 pm

Hmm, I havent posted here in quite a while.  What shall I talk about?

I know, Gaming, specifically RPG's.

My Newcastle group is currently playing 4e and having a balst with it.  We play session 15 tomorrow.  We have a group Wiki, although it is a bit out of date.  I am also managing to keep a campaign blog for some actual play reports.  I am even updating it, normally on the day we play! 

The game, as lots of ours are, was the product of a lot of player input into the setting.  It was originally created as a pulp fantasy setting for a game of Spirit of the Century which never happened.  I resurrected it to run 4e when it released last year.  I have taken the three tier split for 4e and run with it.  The group has finished the Heroic Tier which was Conanesque and city based, fighting mad demon summoning sorcerors. 

The Parargon Tier sees a big shift with me stealing liberally from Steven Erikkson with a heavy dash of pulp heroes stuff thrown in for good measure. 

I suspect the Epic Tier will resemble the late Elric period, Lords of Chaos walking abroad, mad gods devouring stars, dragons consuming whole armies in flame etc etc.  I have no idea what the players will make of it yet.

So, what are people playing at the moment and how is it going?

Game Blog: http://aw4e.blogspot.com/
Game Wiki: http://thecityofkings.wikispaces.com/
Players Blog: http://www.fandomlife.net/fln/blogs.cfm?kwd=99
(includes pictures of sessions with minis and tiles, something I never thought we would like or get used to but now something I couldn't do without)
Thursday, November 13th, 2008
1:04 pm
I stopped playing WoW in February when Agoe of Conan came out.  That held my interest for about three months before petering out due to a lack of content and being buggy as hell.  I have given WAR a go but havent subscribed since my free month ran out, it was all a bit "meh".

So, with the release of WotLK I have decided to give WoW another outing, even if its only to see the new content and then get hung up on the inability to end game.  Obviiously this process is more fun if you can play with people you know, stranger guilds generally being full of fail.  So, are any of the sheffield crowd still playing?  If so where are you and when/how often do you play?  Whats your server pop like and could you give a lonesome bear a home... 
Thursday, September 25th, 2008
10:23 pm
I have just started on a cookery course at a local school with a friend of mine.

Tonight we made Thai Fishcakes and they were good (although one of the three rather fell apart).  I am going to give them another go over the weekend as tonight was rather rushed.
Thursday, June 26th, 2008
11:00 am

Hmm, I think my literary tastes are a little less refined than the Rat. 
Thursday, June 5th, 2008
5:00 pm
They have arrived!
Amazon pulled through and delivered my pre-order of the 4e gift set a day early. Obviously there is a load of info already out there from the print version theft and the buy.com snafu but reading the odd spoiler is much less satisfying than having the actual books to hold.

Initial impressions are good. Layout is great, art is excellent, content seems good so far. I am looking forward to running it.

I just wish I didnt have to teach all day tomorrow so I could devote some proper time to reading it!
Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
8:49 am
Age of Conan
OK, my new PC has arrived, is set up and I have been playing Age of Conan for a few days. I thought I would take this chance to jot down a few thoughts on what the game is like.

The first thing you notice is just how detailed character design is. I dont think I have seen anything this detailed since City of Heroes. You can change almost any facet of your characters appearance at all. Very very cool.

There are four different character archetypes, soldier (tanks), priest (healers), rogues (melee dps) and mages (ranged dps mostly). I chose a priest class, the Priest of Mitra. Your class choice also determines your original homeland (Cimmeria, Aquilonia or Stygia). Despite picking a primary healer class I dont seem to have any real problem soloing so far.

The game starts you as a slave on board a sinking ship. You are washed up on an island with only a broken oar stump as a weapon. This is where the next thing to really hit you comes, the graphics. They are superb, I spent 5 minutes just watching the ocean water lap around me.

You are greeted by an old man who warns you that your slavemaster has headed off to Tortage, the main city of the island and that you must stop him before he gets there or you will be doomed, Tortage doesnt let escaped slaves in. Cue a 20 minute single player romp through the jungle killing stuff. This gets you to about level 5 and shows you the basic game controls and interface. In short order you arrive at the gates of the city.

Then you get the next innovation. Between level 5 and 20 there are two modes you can play in. During the day time you are in multiplayer with the usual range of quests, go here, collect teeth, kill picts, rescue idiots who go wandering into highly dangerous places. The usual stuff. The game however also has a single player mode during the night time. During this phase you get to pursue your destiny quest. You can easily switch between the two modes by talking to an npc. There are four different quests, one for each class grouping. Mine involved working with the resistance to overthrow Strom, the insane pirate overlord of the city who will destroy everything if he isnt killed.

The destiny quest is thoroughly absorbing and really brings you into the game. The day time quests are enjoyable and contain a number of easter eggs for those familiar with Conan lore. The other very nice touch is that when you speak to npc's they talk back! Voice acted quest text I found really adding to the immersion factor. Unfortunately the voice acting doesnt conitnue past the Tortage stage except with your class trainer.

You get a variety of conversation options when talking to npc's which allegedly change the quests you are offered based on your response. I have only run one character through the game so I couldnt say for sure.

One other interesting aspect relates to quest areas. Generally quests are within an instanced zone. These arent limited to just you and your group, other players may be present. However, when an area reaches it maximum number of players the game creates a new version of that area for people to join which greatly helps to avoid over farming of areas.

There are also a number of other interesting features which I havent had a chance to really test out yet.

Weapon combat: There is no single button mashing or autoattack. You choose where to attack and there are three directional attack buttons. You get verious special abilities to use as well as usable combos which require you to execute attacks in a particular order. When fighting your opponents have directional shields allowing you to target your attacks at their most vulnerable areas. You can actively dodge with the movement keys and shift your own shields around mid combat. This all looks very cool but I specifically chose a caster so as not to have to deal with it. I know from my WoW experience that I dont have the manual dexterity to reliably use more than about 4 buttons without getting into a muddle.

Gathering: From level 20 onwards any character can gather any materials once you train in that skill. You arent limited as to what you can collect.

Crafting: Each class gets one crafting profession at level 40. I havent seen it yet but apparently it doesnt use the WoW craft 300 bronze daggers hoping for a gain system and is instead centered around quests.

Player cities: Guilds can create their own player cities. These require a lot of materials and cash but they are doable. Those cities can then I think hold various vendors and other resources for your guild. When you create your city the game also generates an npc city next to you which will gradually grow unless you attack them. Keeping the neighbours in the stone age seems to be the way to go.

Battlekeeps: Each realm has 8 (I think) battle keeps which come with special features. They can be seiged by opposing guilds or alliance of guilds so I expect they will change hands a fair bit. There are also a series of pvp mini games along the lines of battlegrounds in WoW. Participating in PvP nets you PvP experience and there is a seperate PvP level track up to level 20. Killing opponents give you experience but dying in PvP looses you experience (but never enough to lose a level). I think that at higher PvP levels you also get access to better PvP gear.

Overall my impressions of the game have been highly positive. The starting quest area really grabbed my attention and will most likely keep me in the game at least until I hit the level cap.

If anyone has any questions about the game I will happily try and answer them.
Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
11:32 pm
I can has new PC plx?
Oh yes, oh yes I can.

£600 of sleek, sexy, black cased speedy online gaming goodness.
Tuesday, May 20th, 2008
8:57 pm
Red alert, red alert, actual update with possible content incoming.

Well yes, I know I am crap and never update this thing and I think I know why. Its just too damn general, it can concivably be used for anything and everything and as a result I use it for nothing.

So I have finally decided to take the plunge and set up a more focused blog. You can find it at http://aw4e.blogspot.com/ and it will be used for some of my thoughts on gaming and in particular the first game I will be running in nearly two years. Feel free to pop by and poke me with a stick.

On actual update news I am still alive. All is going well, new job is blissfully less stressful than old one but I still miss lots of Sheffield people. I hope everyone is doing well and wish you all the best.
Saturday, January 19th, 2008
12:11 am
An Update
At least of a fashion. Whats happening back in the cold lands of the north away from the warm (if rather wet) southern sheffield climes.

Well, a few really quite big things. Work is going great, I really think I have settled in and dont think I am likely to move any time soon. I am already looking out for my first ivory tower to ensconce myself in away from the evils of the real world. Students are ok, mostly as I teach hardly any undergrads.

I mostly teach in two areas now, child protection (unsurprising since its what I did) and information rights (on the basis that I did it a bit many years ago!). Its become a bit of a speciality of mine now and I am even starting to write in the field. I am adding a chapter to a book out later this year and have been given the job of creating and editing a national information rights journal. Very nice stuff for the old CV and some very interesting senior government contacts.

Gaming life has really picked up too. I was slightly worried I wouldnt cope with the sudden drop in gaming from the nirvana that is Sheffield. Now I find myself involved in 4 groups. The main one has been running the Great Pendragon Campaign. Arthur has finally popped up and were about to take a break. At our pace it would take about 4 years to finish, it really is a monster of a module. More information about our new game may be forthcoming at a later date...I cant say anything about it yet.

Group 2 is our experimental group which has been trying out all sorts of interesting indie published games. I highly recommend Primetime Adventures, Spirit of the Century and Cold City. We are shortly going to be playtesting Hot War, the sequel game to Cold City which looks to be shaping up nicely.

Group 3 is a playtest group for Neil's (some of you may know him as Vodkashok) game writing project. As some of you may know Neil is a bit of a Sharpe fan and has been developing an RPG based on the Peninsula War. Its looking good so far although is obviously a narrativist hippy indie story game (my new default preference).

Group 4 is a board game group made of a mix of everyone in the other groups which moves around peoples homes once a month to drink, eat and make merry. Most enjoyed game so far is probably Arkham Horror, a game which does a better job of doing Call of Cthullu than the rpg does.

Other gaming stuff? Well, I managed to go to Gencon US last year which was an absolute blast. I am determined to go again this year altough a replacement boiler may scupper that plan. Last year we also managed Cottagecon, an event we as a gaming group have been talking about for years. 6 of us decamped to the wilds of north yorkshire and gamed all weekend. It was excellent and we are repeating it again next month.

On the personal side of things I was diagnosed with diabetes just before christmas which was a bit of a kicker. I have decided that its going to be a positive thing to make me make the lifestyle changes I should have made years ago but have always been too lazy or uncommitted to doing. Alls well at the moment and hopefully it will stay that way.

I hope everyone back in Sheffield is doing well. I do miss the place and particularly the people.

Best wishes to you all.

12:09 am
Help from Sheffield People
There is a shoe shop just along from where Hugh lives where I have had my last couple of pairs of shoes made. I keep going back as they are inordiantely comfortable, something I just cannot get off the shelf with my awkwardly shaped feet.

However, for the life of me I cannot remember the name of the place.

So, help me people of Sheffield, you are my only hope for finding comfortable shoes.
Tuesday, October 30th, 2007
7:27 pm
Having the flu sucks.

That is all.
Thursday, September 13th, 2007
4:57 pm
Well, its a new academic year and it looks like I have less actual work to do than last year. Given last year was the easiest of my working life I am left wondering why I didnt change to academia sooner.

Generally going well, most of my students have been great but this year I finally get some undergrads. Thats about 19 20 year old female students who I have to teach about child abuse and protection, thatll be interesting!

Also, I have succumbed to the evil of Facebook so if you are on it expect to be poked.
Friday, September 7th, 2007
9:41 am
Sheffield Furnace Con

Furnace Con is happening in Sheffield again this October. A group of us from Newcastle are coming down. Me, Neil (known to some of the rp'ers), Ben (redben for RD'ers and any comic geeks) and Matt (who none of you know).

Are any sheffield gamers planning to be there?
Saturday, August 11th, 2007
11:58 am
Only 3 days until we head off to Gencon, I am officially stoked.

I may be passing through Sheffield on our way down on 14.08 or back up on 21.08, would anyone like me to pick anything up for them?
Wednesday, August 1st, 2007
11:56 pm
Board Game Advice
I am looking for a boardgame for a nights social so I thought who better to ask than the Sheffield board gamers, people with possibly the largest collection of board games and knowledge outside of the World Board Game Museum.*

I need a game for 4 to 6 players which takes no more than 4 hours or so to complete. It has to have miniatures/figures involved and ideally also include cards. The rules cant be too complex as we probably wont have time to read them much in advance.

So, any suggestions?

*May not actually exist.
11:36 pm
I realised recently following an e-mail from Sarah that I havent really properly updated this thing for a long time since I made the big move back to the North so I thought I should. Whats happened to me in the last 8 months since I headed into the cold North?

I managed to sell the house in Sheffield for more than I paid for it. After you took off the fees from ravenous estate agents and grasping blood sucking lawyers I even managed not to lose too much money. The whole thing took an age but it got sorted in february and I managed to coincide it with buying my new house up north.

I have moved in after 3 or 4 months of redocrating (it didnt need that much) mostly done by my parents who seem to really enjoy it. I have a typical northern mum who really wont let anything go without her oversight, easily avoided with 120 miles distance between you, less so when its only a mile. The house is now mostly done and I have moved in. I have one obligatory unopened box sat downstairs with a bunch of old ccg cards in it which is too heavy to bother carrying upstairs.

Work wise, I have been in the new job now for most of an academic year. It has been an interesting experience. I keep waiting for someone to jump out from around a corner and yell "surprise, you do actually have work to do we just havent been telling you." The comparison between then and now is staggering. In sheffield it was pure fire fighting, headless chicken chaos. Newcastle is sedate. For most of the year I had about 2 hours of direct teaching a week, rising to a mighty 6 during my busy second semester. Most of my students are part time distance learners who demand the odd study day in Newcastle and London and some online seminars etc. Nothing which is difficult to handle.

One thing has been strange and that has been returning to be a student. We have to do PCAPL, the post graduate certificate in academic and professional learning, a one year course to teach us how to teach. Unfortunately it didnt do that at all, what it did was spew large amounts of socialogical gobbledigook at us for 7 months along with a handful of useful practical sessions. Most of the stuff has been learning on the job and ive been fortunate to have mature students (that is not an undergraduate among them).

Next year I seem to have even less work to do although I seem to have created the impression of being very very busy having picked up various stuff from people going off on maternity leave. There doesnt seem to be any concept of maternity or sickness cover here, very unlike my previous work where lcoums were easy to come by if you needed them.

I am even starting to write. I have a couple of article ideas I am working on (well, thinking about at least) and am down to write a chapter on data protection and information sharing (fame and fortune are sure to be mine!).

On the gaming front I have lost the nirvana of gaming that was sheffield which was a huge hole in my gaming life but have rejoined my excellent old newcastle group. Lots of interesting new stuff (I highly recommend Spirit of the Century) and we even managed something we have been talking about for years, Cottagecon 2007. No it wasn't a weekend of debauched gay sex but instead we rented a lovely cottage in north yorkshire and had a superb weekend of gaming, chat and relaxation. All together probably the most intense, focused and enjoyable series of games I have had in a long time and I even magaed to run something for the first time in ages (high level 3.5 D&D for a group of narrative story based gamers). They seemed to enjoy themselves at least.

My other big gaming thing is my first ever trip to Gencon US this year. Hugely excited about it, my first flight in 18 years (I have no memory of the last one) and my first ever trip to the states. An excellent chance to play exciting new games and meet all sorts of weird and wonderful people. Its hard to believe that its less than two weeks away. More to follow I am sure after it.

Anyway, thats enough of an update for now. I hope all is well with everyone in Sheffield and I miss you all.

Take care

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007
9:37 pm
Wishing everyone all the best
I get the impression from the various LJ entries that people are managing to cope in Sheffield. I hope things calm down now although the computer models on the telly of whats likely to happen if the dam goes looked a bit scary.

Wishing you all well from a soggy but not flooded north east.
Thursday, April 26th, 2007
3:22 pm
Apparently I dont suck at this teaching thingy...
This week we have a group of people from the Law Society in to assess our delivery of the Legal Practice Course. For those not in the know this is a one year post graduate course you have to complete before you can become a trainee solicitor.

It is run by a handful of organisations around the country and each is approved by the law society every three years. The approval process sets your ratings in various areas and is one of things students will look at when deciding where to go.

Given that we charge around 7k for the full course this is a big moneyspinner for us. It is also an integral part of a unique combined degree we run which incorporates a normal law degree and the LPC into one single four year course.

If we get bad ratings this will be bad.

Now, heres the kicker. The people doing the assessment include a variety of people employed at our rival organisations. As part of the assessment they observe a number of teaching sessions.

Now, I teach on one module on this course. Its the child protection module which is what I practiced in when I was in sheffield so no biggie right?

One snag. I have been teaching on the course since it started in february with a colleague. She did the lectures and I did the workshops. She went on maternity leave just before easter leaving me to pick up the lectures from this week, the week of our LPC assessment.

Of course I ended up being observed.

To be fair she was a perfectly nice woman who sat quietly at the back. At the end she gave me a load of useful feedback and was generally very positive. Then I told her it wss my first lecture...ever. (all of my other teaching is workshops and distance learning).

As a result she has been spouting my praises to her team and my senior managers. As has the bloke who interviewed me about what I was doing to improve the module.

Life, sometimes, is good and this is one of those weeks.
Monday, April 2nd, 2007
11:56 am
For the boardgame fanatics
OK, it is finally happening, something my old newcastle gaming group have been talking about doing but have never done for over 6 years.

The weekend gaming con is on. Somehow we will manage to get 6 busy geeks with assorted professional and family committments to a small cottage in the middle of north yorkshire for an entire weekend of geekery and gaming.

We already have several rpg's lined up but I am looking for a decent board game. It should allow for at least 5 players and not take more than about 3 hours to play.

We had discussed diplomacy but my memory of that is that it could soak up an entire day and still not resolve.

So, where to turn but to the assorted board game experts of sheffield. Any advice more than welcome.
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