Campaign of Error

Saturday resulted in us committing cold blooded murder and doing something unspeakable with our victims’ corpses. No, we haven’t finally snapped and gone on a rampage. We were playing D and D.

Players :
Lynx – Crimthan, lawfully evil Paladin with a war horse, Hades. Cat – Indiana Raine, chaotically evil Rogue. Amy – Vena Owens, evil lawful wizard/waitress. Jordan – Lord Wolfy, chaotically neutral druid who can shapeshift into a wolf and looks damn fine in the rain. Pip – Cassiel, ranger who keeps getting hit out of trees. Steve – Frank the lawfully evil cleric who left an orphan to burn to death and is forever taunted for it. Tom – our long-suffering DM. Also known as God.

The Story so far: Escape From Fuck Mountain  Crypt Keepers

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Lord Wolfy and DM with on-screen Pip

We were two members down as Pip was participating in a 24 hour game playing live stream event for charity and Steve was at home. Though we had Pip’s stream on the TV so we could watch her reactions as Tom updated her on the campaign. She then informed her viewers, who are now a little scared of our group :D

We were still in the crypt where we ended the last meeting. Opening a chest containing purple mist resulted in all characters becoming evil, except Lord Wolfy who was outside. Vena lost all her spells and had to chose one new ability. She could have had necromancy, death, destruction…she chose bubbles. Unadulterated evil doesn’t come as easily to her and Cassiel as it does to Indiana, Crimthan and Lord Wolfy. Frank’s acts of evil are pure accident.

Our first task was to solve four riddles Tom had created. The first one nearly threw us: The way out is leet, which turned out to an Internet term for where the numerals represent the letters they look like. None of us had heard of it (much to Bryn’s shock). But we came really close to solving it. Indiana was elected to enter the booby trapped room, where she had to step on floor tiles corresponding to the correct answer. The riddles were 1: It’s at the beginning of eternity and the end of time. 2: What is lost in the day and found at night? 3: You go in blind and come out seeing. 4: The man who makes it, sells it. The person who buys it doesn’t use it. The person who uses it doesn’t know it. She failed the third one and plummeted into a hole. Crimthan chose Lord Wolfy to continue the challenge. He completed it and pulled a lever hidden in a coffin. The room also contained a bed, a chest and a candle. Crimthan tied his rope around the bed, which he and Vena sat on to add weight so Indiana could climb out of the hole. We returned to the room we’d left only to find Cassiel and Frank had vanished. Grooves on the floor betrayed their fate – they were trapped behind a wall.

We spent a very long time trying to work out how to move the wall. Crimthan checked for hidden switches, but didn’t find any. Every time we rolled a search check, DM’s answer was “it’s a concrete wall.” Lord Wolfy decided to return to the riddle room and pulled the lever in the coffin. Nothing happened. He moved the bed, which triggered arrows to shoot at him. He successfully dodged them. Indiana and Vena ventured back in and Indiana opened the chest, releasing an acid mist. Whoops. She did a reflex roll on the 20-sided dice. And rolled 1. So she leapt straight into the acid mist, melting off her leather armour. That could have gone better. Vena picked up the candle, which spewed fire over her. Her reflex roll resulted in her arm being burnt to a crisp. Indiana and Vena trudged back to Crimthan and Lord Wolfy, injured, coloured in shame and in Indiana’s case, naked. Lord Wolfy relinquished his wolf fur kilt and Crimthan sold her his fancy fur cloak. The kilt was too big, so Indiana fashioned a belt out of her grappling hook. Suddenly, Cat doesn’t find dressing as her character as appealing anymore.

Crimthan extinguished Vena’s arm, but it was badly damaged. Tempted by the smell of cooked flesh, Lord Wolfy offered to chew it off. Crimthan and Indiana talked him out of it – Vena would need both hands to cast spells. Lord Wolfy ventured outside and snacked on the zombified guards. If you think food poisoning is bad, try eating something infected with zombieism. Lord Wolfy may not be long for this world. After continuously failing to find a way around the wall trap, the now stressed DM hinted that Cassiel and Frank could not be rescued as they were not here. We left.

Lord Wolfy found a map in the cart we’d travelled in. Indiana tried to steal it off him and failed, resulting in her grappling hook getting stuck in Lord Wolfy’s belt. He reluctantly showed it to Crimthan, whose charisma modifier is significantly higher (4 against 1). We then became suspicious of Lord Wolfy’s unhealthy appearance and Crimthan attempted to tie him to the cart. Indiana came to help and tied her arm to Crimthan’s leg. Crimthan: “We should’ve left you in the hole.” After that embarrassing escapade, we decided to head for the closest place on the map – the City of Lights so Indiana could get some clothes. One problem – two horses had pulled the cart here and now we only had Hades, Crimthan’s war horse, who is more accustomed to battle than pulling carts. Fortunately, Crimthan has an empathic link to Hades, so persuading him to pull the cart wasn’t a problem. However, our water supply was. Crimthan and Indiana were the only ones with water skins. Lord Wolfy magicked a water globe, which immediately splattered into the desert. A day of desert travel used up all our water, so Lord Wolfy created another water globe which we persuaded him to pour into the cart. After we’d collected the water in our skins and drank it, DM reminded us that the cart had been used to transport corpses, which became zombies. Vena, Indiana and Crimthan suddenly weren’t feeling wonderful. The next day, Vena woke to find Lord Wolfy gnawing on her arm. It’s always awkward when that happens. After another day of travel, Crimthan used his charisma to force Lord Wolfy to make more water so he could contain it in one of his tents. Lord Wolfy responded by making the globe splatter over Crimthan’s head, drenching him.

We eventually stumbled out of the desert into grassy plains which led to a farm.  A well provided clean, zombie-virus free water, so we went looking for food. Lord Wolfy slipped out to the shop in real life so Vena, Indiana and Crimthan broke into the farmhouse and raided the pantry. Splashing upstairs pricked our ears. We were not alone. Indiana attempted to sneak upstairs. And tripped. Sneak attacks are not her strong point. The farmer’s wife leapt out of the bath, screaming at us to get out of her house. Quite frankly, her hosting skills could use a little work. She didn’t once offer us food and drink. She’s clearly not from west Wales. Crimthan and Indiana attempted to appease her by claiming zombies were coming and we were there to protect her. She was not convinced and was becoming hysterical. There was only one solution – Crimthan talked DM into letting us kill her then Indiana slit her throat. We succeed so much better at random, unimportant things than we do with vital things like combat. As the woman’s blood dripped down the stairs, Vena convinced her bat to drink it. It was about time the bat contributed to the campaign. Indiana raided the wife’s wardrobe for clothes and ended up with an elaborate dress. Can’t help thinking this was revenge on the DM’s part for all the cock ups. Or maybe ‘cos in real life, we wear impractical clothing so wearing an elaborate dress for adventures isn’t that far fetched. Cutting it off at the knees and slitting it up the sides to allow access to Indiana’s daggers was the only way to avoid her dexterity being compromised. Shame about her dignity.

Lord Wolfy returned and teamed up with Crimthan and Indiana to harvest the wife’s ribs – they could always come in handy for lock picks. DM reminded us that none of us had craft skills, but we weren’t deterred. Unfortunately, we snapped the ribs (should’ve listened to DM), but her skull was much easier to steal. Crimthan told Lord Wolfy to eat the wife, so there would be no evidence. Lord Wolfy surrendered to his blossoming zombie instincts and chowed her down. He decided we needed to send a message to the farmer, so used what remained of her blood to draw a crude picture of her wall on the wall with two chilling messages: ‘alive‘ and ‘hope you’re happy’. This second message was part of his plan to convince the farmer that he hired us to kill his wife. Vena was against this whole plan, but unfortunately was outnumbered by three people who had discovered a new love of art. Vena spent her time throwing up. We then lit flint inside the woman’s skull to illuminate our morbid mural.

We slept in the farmhouse while we awaited the farmer’s arrival. You know what it’s like when you’ve planned a surprise for someone – it’s not the same if you’re not there to see their reaction. When the farmer returned, we were taken aback to learn he was a she. She became hysterical when she discovered we’d murdered her wife and Crimthan was wearing her hair, after Indiana said  it would be paying tribute to the butchered woman. She refused to believe she’d got drunk and hired us to kill her wife. Attempts at calming her failed, so again, Crimthan charmed DM into letting us kill her. Indiana plunged both daggers into her breasts. Lord Wolfy heroically ate her as well, leaving Indiana to swipe her skull. Vena had stopped throwing up by now, having become a little desensitised to the carnage. There was nothing worth sticking around for, so as we left, Lord Wolfy talked Vena into torching the house. Vena threw a fire bubble at the house and we walked away in slow motion without looking back. Like goddamn heroes.

Pip’s live screen reaction to this turn of events was priceless. You know the campaign is not going to the DM’s plan when he sits with his head in his hands, emitting something between hysterical laughter and wails of despair. Our Twitter update read: We broke Tom.

We reached the City of Lights by nightfall and Lord Wolfy thought the best way to walk through the slums was to pretend to be a theatre troupe.  After all, we had skulls, so we could act out Hamlet. Or whatever version of Hamlet exists in our Fuck Mountain fantasy land. Vena: “I’m not with them,” as we passed frightened people. Unfortunately, we burned our cart with the house and a war horse in full armour isn’t something usually associated with travelling theatre. Lord Wolfy: “we should remove the horse’s armour so he looks more like a horse.” For some reason, the people in the slums were terrified and kept running away. We captured a child and asked him why everyone was so scared. He refused to answer. There was only one thing for it – Lord Wolfy transformed into a wolf and pinned him down, while Indiana aimed a dagger at his face. Crimthan warned the child that Lord Wolfy would eat him if he didn’t talk. Vena was against the idea, but again was outnumbered. Our methods of interrogation failed. So not wishing to make a liar out of Crimthan, Lord Wolfy ate the child. He was warned.

And Frank the cleric had nothing to do with it. We like to think we killed the child in his honour.

We reached the city walls, which were guarded by two portcullises. Indiana used her grappling hook to scale the wall, leaving the rest of us outside, loitering like unsavoury types. DM: “You’re wearing an elaborate dress.” Indiana: “Which I hacked off at the knees.” DM: “You just swung down the wall in a short dress and landed on your arse in front of guards.” Indiana: “Evening, lads.” She then tried to convince the guards she was a queen from a far off land. They demanded to see her royal seal, so she sent them to fetch her handmaiden. Lord Wolfy claimed to be the handmaiden and said the amulet worn by Vena was the seal of Atlantis. The guards weren’t convinced. Guards in the City of Light are really mistrustful of heavily armed, oddly dressed, skull-bearing strangers!

While Indiana parkoured her way up the walls surrounding the cathedral, the rest of us tried to talk our way inside. Lord Wolfy tried persuading the guards that they needed a pet wolf. But they weren’t convinced, even when Crimthan pointed out Lord Wolfy looks damn fine in the rain. So Lord Wolfy told them he and Crimthan wished to marry in the cathedral. Guards: “You’re both men.” Lord Wolfy: “That’s very homophobic of you.” Guards: “Our religion doesn’t allow same sex marriage.” Crimthan: “but there were two women who were married in the farmouse.” Guard: “they’ve been banished.” Crimthan: “well it’s a good job we dealt with them then.” Guard: “did you murder them?” Crimthan: “no, we dealt with them. In your god’s name.”

Indiana attempted to swing in through the cathedral window and swung into the wall. She climbed in through the window and looked around. In hindsight, searching for a way to open the portcullis might have been more beneficial. The guards still refused to allow the others in, despite Lord Wolfy suggesting their monarch would love our theatre performance, so Indiana suggested setting fire to the child’s corpse and throwing it over the wall as a distraction. Lord Wolfy thought it would be a good idea to kill everyone in the slums and pile their corpses against the wall to climb over. Vena: “stop killing people!”

Will Indiana be caught in the cathedral? Will Vena, Lord Wolfy and Crimthan get beyond the city walls? Will Cassiel and Frank escape the crypt? And will DM ever recover his broken sanity? Only the dice knows.

Crypt Keepers

We may have finally escaped Fuck Mountain, however, its curse hangs over us and we remain the most incompetent D & D players probably in history. But then, you expected that, right? February is apparently DM appreciation month and a site listed a load of things D & Ders could do to show their appreciation. Surprisingly, Tom didn’t write it. One included dressing as your character, which we already do. Another suggested making a crown or sash for your DM and making them wear it. So between bathing the iguana and waiting for the rugby to start, we found some black card and silver and gold pens and we made Tom a crown. And yes, he wore it throughout.

All hail King God

All hail King God

We had three NPCs (non-playing characters) join us – Bryn, Kae and Brad. And Bryn brought Samurai swords. So we started proceedings with a group photo, with us, Jordan and Bryn brandishing weapons and looking more like a troop of serial killers than friends playing a role playing game. Here’s a reminder of who we are:

Lynx – Crimthan, lawfully evil Paladin with a war horse, Hades. Cat – Indiana Raine, chaotically evil Rogue. Amy – Vena Owens, neutrally lawful wizard/waitress. Jordan – Lord Wolfy, chaotically neutral druid who can shapeshift into a wolf and looks damn fine in the rain. Pip – Casiel, ranger who keeps getting hit out of trees. Steve – Frank the lawfully good cleric who left an orphan to burn to death and is forever taunted for it. Tom – our long-suffering DM. Also known as God.

The story so far: Escape from Fuck Mountain

We started by checking the map to see where we needed to go and were attracted to a vault inside a crypt, which looked to be about a day’s journey away. We judged this on the fact it took us three days to get off Fuck Mountain. Crimthan and Indiana decided to steal a wagon. Preferably the wagon containing the money for the orphanage. Lord Wolfy was in on the plan. We tried persuading Frank, who was reminded that his god was not pleased with him for the orphan death. Lord Wolfy, Indiana and Crimthan tried persuading Frank to change his alliance to evil. Also being of the religious persuasion, Crimthan pointed out that he serves a god, it’s just that his is a dark god. After wrestling with his conscience, Frank declined to help. So Crimthan and Indiana found a cart laden with corpses that was heading for the crypts and offered their services as guards in exchange for a ride. We then had to persuade the others to join us so told Frank his god wanted him to ride with the corpse of his victim as penance. Guilt tripping is a marvellous invention.

We killed time buying weapons and mocking Frank and Casiel for the fact they had no gold for the shop. Because we’d stolen it in the last play. When midday rolled around, we made our way to the wagon, only to encounter an old woman (Kae) near the bridge. She had bags of shopping and shiny objects. Lord Wolfy and Indiana concocted a plan to murder the old woman and rob her corpse and asked Frank to distract her so Indiana could use her sneak attack skills. Indiana told Frank the old woman was a witch and the shiny object in her hand was a dagger, that she planned to kill our party with. The DM reminded Frank that despite the number of deaths he had caused, he was lawfully good and participating in the murder and robbery of an old woman wouldn’t win him any favours with his god. So Crimthan stepped in to help. Lord Wolfy then bought favours (no, not that kind) off Casiel, Crimthan, Indiana and Vena and called in his favour to Vena to make her use a daze spell on the old woman. In the meantime, Casiel had offered to help the old woman and took her shopping bags. Vena dazed the woman, Indiana failed in her sneak attack so Lord Wolfy butchered the woman with his scythe. Then Indiana robbed her and she and Crimthan ran off to the wagon. It turned out, the old woman did have a dagger. Frank failed to heal her and left her to bleed to death while she cursed us all. Despite being good, Frank has caused more deaths than the two evil characters combined.

Lord Wolfy called in his favours to Crimthan and Indiana, forcing them to surrender all their gold to him, which he then passed on to one of the guards (Brad). So Indiana robbed the guard. We finally made it to the crypt and sent Vena in to open the vault with her spells. The guards (Bryn and Brad) carried the corpses in and before we could get into the vault, the corpses became the living dead and attacked the guards, turning them into zombies. Crimthan attacked them, slicing off an arm. Vena partially melted one. Indiana heroically tripped and fell into one then got bitten. Between the six of us, we finally managed to defeat the two zombies and headed into the vaults. Lord Wolfy stayed outside. Crimthan went first and triggered a trap, getting shot by arrows. Indiana searched for other traps but failed to find them so sent Frank on ahead, just in case.

After a long debate about whether we should or should not open sarcophagi to check for treasure, we passed through some more rooms. Vena and Indiana spotted a small chest, which Frank and Crimthan didn’t see as they were busy staring at the walls. Indiana stumbled getting to the chest so Vena opened it. And released a purple light that infiltrated everyone in the room, turning Vena, Casiel and Frank evil (it was just a matter of time really), and making Crimthan and Indiana even more evil. Safe outside, Lord Wolfy was unaffected. Vena found an amulet at the bottom of the chest. It will no doubt get stolen the next time we meet.

Room at the Inn

The Skirrid InnLurking in the graveyards, going in places we shouldn’t be and frightening other ghost hunters. Yes, it’s another episode of Calamityville Horror. Last night we got to do two things we’ve wanted to do for ages – meet Laura Dixon and Jack Strange from Jack and Laura Ghost Series and spend the entire night in the Skirrid Inn. The last time we were at the Skirrid was October 2012, before Neen joined the team and we spent our time behaving inappropriately towards Fanny Price’s name and dancing. We couldn’t wait to go back.

The Skirrid InnJack and Laura had organised the ghost hunting evening and sleepover and invited us. We arrived early (we know, this never happens) and spent our time wisely: eating and getting a bit wobbly on the vodka. After just the one we had trouble standing. Two more later and navigating the uneven, warped stairs of this beautiful 17th century building while laden down with our equipment proved to be an unwise decision.

The Skirrid InnWhile the patrons continued drinking in the bar, we met up with Jack and Laura and also Karin, Lorraine and Colin for our night of ghost hunting. We dumped our stuff in bedroom one then gathered our equipment and headed out to the graveyard, where us two debated about the location of Fanny’s grave. Trying to find fanny in a graveyard isn’t what they recommend on dating sites. Lynx was right. We soon found it and did an EVP session there. The Mel meter had quite a high reading and when Cat asked Fanny if she remembered us, it bleeped. Either that was in acknowledgement, or the Mel meter was censoring Fanny’s enraged outburst. We used our laser grid pen for the first time, spattering purple dots over the graves but Fanny refused to play shadow puppets. She used to be the landlady of the Skirrid and is rumoured to still haunt it after dying of consumption. Cat was concerned that her camera couldn’t see anything, then after 30 minutes, realised it wasn’t on nightshot mode. *Facepalm*

The Skirrid Inn

Room one

We moved on to the church, where Lorraine picked up on a little girl called Alice. She made herself known to Jack and Laura the last time they visited. Again, the Mel meter spiked and bleeped. Jack discovered the church was open, so in true Calamityville style, we went in. Calamityville’s rule is, if they don’t want us entering, they should lock their doors. Jack and Laura joined us and we did some calling out, praying the person who appeared was not the vicar or the police. Cat was up in the pulpit, so running down the steps in the pitch black to avoid capture would not have been safe. But it would have made great viewing.

The Skirrid Inn

room two

We returned to the Inn and set up in bedroom 2. Cat’s Sony night vision camera lost 20 minutes off its battery. This has never happened. Colin’s REMpod started bleeping by the bathroom door even though no-one was near it. Neen moved into the doorway and when she later left, somehow managed to stab herself in the eye on the REMpod’s aerial. This takes a special kind of skill. This was after she hurt her knee getting on the bed. The Skirrid InnWe returned to room one for a break then took turns going into the downstairs adjoining bathroom in pairs. Laura saw strange flashing white lights at the top of the stairs and when we were in there, there was a thud on the ceiling, but as it’s the roof, this was probably a bird outside. The Mel meter emitted a high pitched noise and didn’t stop, despite numerous requests for the spirit to move away. When Lynx shouted “Oi! Move away!” the meter immediately fell silent. Coming from a family of teachers is useful when dealing with unruly spirts.

The Skirrid InnWe headed downstairs and Cat said to Lynx, “don’t fall, my camera isn’t on.” Lynx fell down the next step, but managed to save herself before crashing headfirst into the zombie butler. As Cat laughed, her camera tipped off the tripod, bruising her finger. Karma. We moved to the bar and attempted to contact the spirits using the Saints Row ‘Gat out of Hell’ Wee-Ja board that Tom got us (thanks Tom, you’re ace) but the spirits didn’t want to come and play. We can’t help thinking that spirits screen their ouija board calls and when they know we’re on the line, they won’t answer. The Skirrid InnColin removed the tankard from above the fireplace, as this apparently angers one male spirit. Cat pretended to drink out of the tankard to see if she could get a reaction but regretted it after inhaling the mouldy liquid inside it. Then Neen called “Alice” in a really creepy way. Colin flew off his stool, nearly hitting the floor while the rest of us laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. Lorraine and Karin had an ovilus and though we mostly can’t understand what oviluses are saying we all heard two words: “Fuck off.” This is the first time a device has sworn at us. That was a proud moment.

The Skirrid Inn

room three

We returned upstairs for another break then did a seance in room 3, which is Fanny Price’s room. Neen lay on the bed while we all formed a circle around her, looking more like an exorcism group then ghost hunters. Sadly Neen did not start levitating and swearing in Latin. Karin, Lorraine and Colin went downstairs while the rest of us stayed in room 3, but got no activity. We moved to room one’s bathroom, where a lady once ran out claiming a woman tried to drown her in the bath. Lynx was volunteered to sit in the bath.The Skirrid Inn

Karin, Lorraine and Colin left about 4 ish so we moved down to the dining room with the Wee-Ja board. We kept hearing distant voices. We’d heard them when we were upstairs, like people talking, but we were the only 5 people in the Inn.

The Skirrid Inn

room one bathroom

We eventually retired to bed at 4:45, with Jack and Laura taking room 3 and us lot taking room one. We set up the night vision camera to watch us sleep in a really creepy manner.

The Skirrid Inn

breakfast in the dining room

In the morning, the landlord, Geoff served everyone breakfast then agreed to be interviewed. He told us one woman fled her room, and another couple left a note with the money, saying they couldn’t stay but would return one day with friends. He’s owned the inn for ten years and many years ago, used to own a pub which is just down the road from us! In fact, we held the wake for our grampy there. Small world. He’s invited us back and even said we were professional. Calamityville Horror, professional? Next we’ll be behaving like grown ups and getting permission before entering buildings.

We had a fantastic night. It was great to finally meet Jack and Laura and hopefully we’ll team up again. Though we feel they didn’t get the full Calamityville experience. We were a bit quiet and didn’t misbehave. Next time though…The Skirrid Inn

Follow Jack and Laura on Twitter: @JLGhostEps @JackSamStrange @LauraSianDixon

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Shipping News

SS Great BritainDressing up, falling over and booty shaking with mannequins. It’s the Calamityville Horror Season 4 finale. This might be our favourite season so far! It’s got everything: cool locations, getting lost, even more dancing and mannequin shenanigans. And ghost hunting. Sometimes when we find an awesome location, we forget why we’re actually there. This is a ghost hunting show! Sometimes…

SS Great BritainIt started off well. By well, Neen missed the junction on route to Bristol. Cat was supposed to be navigating but got distracted. Lynx knew which junction we needed but was in the back getting confused by which order they came in. We all blamed each other. Neen knew the junction and pointed it out as we sailed past it. Luckily, Neen’s a native Bristolian and knew the way. So we tossed our directions aside and followed the brown tourist signs. To the SS Great Britain! *Points dramatically*

SS Great BritainShe was launched 19th July 1843, with Prince Albert in attendance. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steam Ship company, she was originally intended as a paddle steamer but due to her advanced technology of screw propulsion, her design was changed and her engines were converted to power a 16 foot iron propeller. When she was launched, she was 100 metres in length, making her the largest ship in the world. She was the first screw-propelled, ocean-going wrought iron ship. She was designed for the Trans-Atlantic luxury passenger trade but this wasn’t a great financial success and after she was damaged in Northern Ireland in 1846, she was sold to Gibbs Bright & Co, who turned her into an emigrant carrier. Over the next 24 years, she carried 16,000 passengers on 32 trips and became known as the ‘Greyhound of the Seas’. She also carried the first English cricket team to contest the ashes and when they were practising in the saloon, the bat flew out of the batsman’s hands, striking a passenger in the face. During the Crimean War, she served as a troop carrier, carrying 44,000 troops.

SS Great BritainShe was the first iron steamer to journey to the Atlantic in 1845 and worked until 1933. After 1881, she carried Welsh coal to San Francisco. In 1886, she was badly damaged in a storm so was sold to the Falkland Islands Company and used as a floating warehouse for 47 years until 1937, when she was towed to Sparrow Cove, holed and sunk. In 1969, Navel architect Ewan Corlett decided to rescue her. Divers repaired her hull with mattresses and timber donated by Falkland islanders and she was floated onto the pontoon Mulus III and towed the 8000 miles back to Bristol by Varius II. Cracks in her hull were repaired with steel and she floated up the docks by herself, 127 years to the day since she was launched. Prince Philip was there to welcome her.SS Great Britain

But we were there for the ghosts. The ship’s most famous phantom is Captain John Gray. He was captain for 18 years and very well liked by the crew and passengers. He would climb every mast once a week to keep fit and once interrupted a voyage to Australia to claim the unoccupied island of St Martin for the Empire. In the 1870s, he started suffering from kidney disease, which led to depression. A few years before, his son died and his cousin was swept overboard to his death. In On 26th November 1872, Captain Gray disappeared. One of the windows was open. It had been screwed shut in the night. Captain Gray was never found. Some say he was murdered for his gold, others that he committed suicide. His hobnail boots are still heard on the ship.SS Great Britain

There were other deaths on board. A 13 year old boy fell from the rigging and died in front of his father. A 17 year old bride, Mrs Cohen, died on board and was pickled in vinegar so she could be taken home and buried. Some elderly passengers, children and babies were swept overboard during two voyages. The same fate befell the ship’s doctor’s steward. A German passenger disappeared one night and was suspected to have jumped overboard.

SS Great Britain

one of the holes made to sink her

In 1992, a 17 year old work experience boy saw a man sitting on a beam in the bowels of the ship. He had a white collared shirt, was broad shouldered and had a white/grey beard. It’s believed to be Captain Gray. In 1999, a consultant in the Forward Hold heard footsteps descend into the Crew’s Quarters. Workers saw a lady on the Promenade deck but when they approached her, she disappeared. A steward who’d worked on board for 23 years said during a wedding, the piano on the Promenade deck started playing. The lid was closed. A man who played Brunel during events heard footsteps behind him and doors opening and closing. He saw ghosts of a woman and child in the family cabin and saw a pair of legs disappear into the captain’s state room. In 2008, a member of staff reportedly saw a child’s face in the steerage compartment. A security guard witnessed doors moving back and forth, heard locked doors slamming in the captain’s cabin and watched a door handle turn. When he tried to open the door, it was locked.

SS Great BritainWe were joined again by Calamityville favourites Tom and Amy. While we were in the gift shop, Lynx remembered we hadn’t paid for the car park. We got away with one parking ticket but decided not to push our luck so Lynx and Neen returned to pay. Neen returned alone. Lynx was soon found – she’d leaned down behind a car to pick up her rucksack then found herself alone in the car park. Cue the creepy music and horror movie bad guy lurking in the shadows.

SS Great BritainWhile Neen, Tom and Amy were still in the gift shop, we decided to head out and film some information pieces beneath this grand ship. Like true professionals. Only to be interrupted by some twatapus who started hurling abuse at us as he walked past. We couldn’t actually understand most of what he said as he didn’t stop to insult us face to face. They never do. Funny how they’re so brave to insult us when they’re far away from us, but won’t stand face to face with us, even though we’re only 5’1 and have trouble staying upright in strong winds. But some words escaped his grunts and snorts. Him *incoherent mutterings of troglodytes* “Get a grip.” Lynx: “Bite me.” Yes, we know most people when filming act professionally and ignore comments, but remember, we are not professionals. Twatapus *more mumblings as he walked further away* Lynx: *giving him the finger* “I don’t want to waste my breath talking to you, so bugger off.” Twatapus: “You’re freaks of nature!” he hollered from halfway down the ship. Because of course, abusing people for being Goths is apparently a perfectly normal thing to do. There were people on the ship right above our heads, enjoying this free, impromptu performance. We really should sell tickets. Cat *loudly* “You’re the freak of nature, Wankenstein!” He continued shouting abuse as he got further away. Cat “This is going on YouTube, you prick!” He strangely fell silent and didn’t bother us again. He probably doesn’t want people knowing what a wanker blossom he is. But if you don’t want people knowing you’re a wanker blossom, don’t be one. And yes, it is going on YouTube. He clearly wanted to get on our show, so we’ll be granting his wish. Season 4, episode 9. Watch out for it.SS Great Britain

We visited the ship’s hull, which is in a dry dock. Students at Cardiff uni (Go team Cardiff!) discovered metal kept at 20% humidity, doesn’t rust. So there’s special de-humidifiers maintaining the ship’s delicate hull. We need these for our Renault 4s. You get to go below the glass floor which has a shallow covering of water, which is really cool. As we were leaving the area, Cat walked into the stair rail but luckily, no-one was filming. SS Great BritainWe then went through the museum where we discovered dressing up clothes! You know how much we love dressing up on this show. Neen, Amy and Cat donned fancy dresses, which proved to be way long for us pixies, and also dangerous, as Cat tripped over her dress then stood on it and slipped into a photo with Neen. Tom and Lynx donned fancy jackets and top hats then we persuaded Tom to wear Neen’s dress. It actually fit him much better and he also looked a lot better in a dress than we did. The families that were there seemed rather amused by our antics.

SS Great BritainWe eventually made it onto the ship and explored the upper deck. We passed on recreating the famous Titanic pose at the bow. Our chances of falling off the ship would be quite high. When we were at the ship’s wheel at the stern, Neen spotted a boat with a shark’s face painted on it. We missed it, so Lynx ran to almost the bow to film it. Though wearing a fishtail skirt meant she had to scuttle really fast. Think penguin in race.

SS Great BritainWe then headed down to the Promenade deck and loitered around the haunted piano. But no ghost seemed willing to bash out a jaunty tune. Maybe it only happens at weddings. We moved on towards a tiny cabin and Cat started feeling dizzy. The ‘fishtank feeling’ we often describe. Maybe because the floor here was slightly sloped. There was a mannequin puking into a bowl, and as the most travel sick member of the team, Lynx was elected to pose with her. We then explored the rest of the corridor. While Lynx, Tom and Amy were messing around in the kitchen, Neen and Cat discovered another tiny cabin. Neen: “how can anyone fit on that bunk?” Cat: “I could fit on that bunk.” Neen: “Go on then.” It was difficult manoeuvring past the desk in a long fishtail skirt that is designed for style and not practical things like walking and misbehaving on ships. But she managed it and fitted perfectly in the bunk. Seems we were designed for ship’s voyages. We’ve always wanted to be pirates…They then interviewed some more mannequins, who were very unforthcoming with information.

SS Great Britain

promenade deck

We all met up in the kitchen, where again Cat was struck by ‘fishtank feeling’. Then we got separated. Neen, Tom and Amy headed down to a lower deck while we explored more cabins and tormented a robotic voice on the toilet. SS Great BritainCat pushed the door and the voice called out “This lavatory is occupied!” So she did it again. “Would you mind? This one is occupied.” So she did it again. And again. Each time, he said something different. Continuously pushing the door without letting it close resulted in the voice blurting out phrases like a stuck record. “Would you would you wouldyouwouldyouwouldwould.” Simple things :D

SS Great BritainWe stopped pissing about before the voice had a meltdown and met up with the rest of our team on the storage deck. We entered the luxurious dining room and had a pretend feast, which ended in a pretend food fight. Some people have no idea how to behave in first class. We then gathered around a female mannequin for a photo, with Cat holding a knife to her throat and Tom doing bunny ears above her head. There were musical instruments at the end of the dining hall, but sadly they were fixed down. We were disappointed we didn’t get to do a Calamityville band photo. It would have been our one chance to look vaguely talented.

SS Great Britain

dining area

We made our way back upstairs and found our way to the sickbay. Quite frankly, with the amount of injuries we’ve had on this show, it’s a wonder a doctor isn’t in every episode. SS Great BritainThe surgeon and his patient didn’t know anything about the ghosts, but luckily, a volunteer worker did and told us a ghost story about wine that was being drunk when nobody was around. He said we were allowed on the bunks, so Amy was elected to test one out while we tested the firmness of the surgeon’s posterior. He must do a lot of squats. Neen and Cat took the opportunity to put into practise the new booty shake routine we’ve learned in zumba as they flanked the now harassed-looking surgeon.

SS Great BritainBrunel was sitting reading the paper, so we crowded around him for a photo. He wasn’t very talktative, but his real life impersonator was. Neen, Tom and Lynx followed him to the captain’s quarters while Cat and Amy explored the family cabin and interview the mannequins. Sadly, the only woman and child in there were mannequins, not ghosts. Cat was again struck by a brief dizzy spell that didn’t return when we later all visited the cabin. SS Great BritainThe Brunel impersonator pointed out which windows Gray had jumped from and told us something we didn’t know – a lantern beside the window had been extinguished. Gray was very fire-safety conscious (not like us then) so extinguishing the lantern before jumping was entirely within his character. Shortly before his disappearance, a steward had seen Gray furiously scribbling letters. But when he disappeared, so did his letters. Either they’re still floating in bottles, waiting to be discovered, or the first person to search his cabin, hid the letters to cover up a suicide note.

SS Great Britain

the windows Captain Gray disappeared through

We returned to the windows to an EVP session. Sadly Gray didn’t join us. Tom discovered he could open one of the trap doors in the floor, so Cat switched her night vision on and had a peek, hoping to solve Gray’s disappearance by finding his skeleton. It wasn’t hiding there like the longest game of hide and seek. But we were starting to suspect something. Gray was 6 ft. So is Tom. Gray had a beard. So does Tom. Gray had a deep voice. So does Tom. Although Gray came from Unst in the Shetland Isles and Tom’s from Gloucester. Gray was well liked by everyone. As is Tom. We’re not suggesting Tom is the immortal Captain Gray, we’re just saying no-one has seen them together.

SS Great Britain

kitchen

While we were doing a filming piece in another cabin, as Cat was lying on the bunk, she heard a woman singing in an operatic voice. Only a few words, then it fell silent. We have no idea what this is. There was a deck above us so maybe someone upstairs was singing. We were all hungry, so ended our adventure in the Cottage Inn. Despite Tom accompanying us on 3 episodes and Amy on 2, this was the first time they had joined us in the pub. Our standards are slipping. We had a fantastic day and luckily, our tickets allow us to return to the ship as many times as we like. Think it’s time the ship had some stowaways…SS Great Britain

Romance Is Dead Again

Romance Is Dead C L RavenHappy beheaded saint’s day! Once again we are celebrating/mocking this day of love with our annual collection of anti-Valentine’s stories. Romance Is Dead trilogy is out now! And you can buy it here: Amazon UK Amazon US Smashwords.

Blurb:

Don’t give your lover roses, give them nightmares.

Ten disturbing stories about the dangers of falling in love. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like giving your lover a heart for Valentine’s. Especially when it’s ripped from their body before they’ve drawn their last breath.

“I’d made a terrible mistake. I should have killed him in the shower.”

Gone are the expensive chocolates in fancy packaging, the wilting roses from the petrol station forecourt and the heart-print boxer shorts. Valentine’s is about to get bloody. And some unfortunate lovers will learn the true meaning of ‘til death us do part.’

Real love is worth killing for.

To celebrate we’re giving away a love spoon and a signed copy of Romance Is Dead. The signed copies aren’t here yet but you’ll get them as soon as they’re available. The competition is inspired by a game of Cards Against Humanity we were playing with our mates Tom, Amy & Bryn. All you have to do is finish this Cards Against Humanity card:

‘A romantic candlelit dinner would be incomplete without…’

You can make it as funny/dark/inappropriate as you like. In the game we played, Tom won with ‘oncoming traffic’.

You can comment here with your answers, tweet them to @clraven or comment on our Facebook page. Good luck.

Skin Deep

We finally fulfilled one of our childhood dreams. No, we haven’t opened an animal sanctuary or become famous writers – we got our first tattoos.

Valkyrie tattoo, C L Raven

positioning Cat’s design

We’ve always wanted tattoos. We love them, we give them to our characters, and we’re always envious of people who have them, but we’ve never had the courage to get one ourselves. Despite the numerous injuries we’ve collected over the years, we actually have a strong fear of pain. We’ve had a folder on our laptops for about 5 years, filled with images of ravens and skulls that we’ve collected, in case we ever decided to go through with it. We’ve always felt our arms look bare without a tattoo, like there’s something missing. Most of our friends in real life and online have tattoos and everyone told us it doesn’t really hurt, that the upper arm was one of the least painful places and we’d only feel a slight scratch.

Valkyrie tattoo, C L Raven

the design in colour

Our online friends and Neen gave us the kick up the arse we needed and before we knew it, we were standing inside Valkyrie on Crwys Road, Cardiff, being booked in. We’d only gone with Neen to chat to the artists! Neen was also booking to have her fifth tattoo. She was going with Justin, who did the tattoo on her arm. We chose to go with Ali, who does a lot of black and grey artwork, which is what we wanted. Us “We know exactly what we want – a raven on a gravestone.” Ali asked if we wanted the ravens with open wings, closed wings, what we wanted the gravestones to look like – old, new, broken, with writing. Us *stares blankly* This was going to take some thought. Our decision making skills are so bad, we eat the same food at the same time every day, just so we don’t have to choose what to eat. We started following Ali on Instagram. The more designs she posted of her work, the more we knew we’d picked the right artist. Follow her here.

Valkyrie tattoo, C L Raven

Ali starting Cat’s tattoo

But we were booked in and these tattoos are going to be on our arms for the rest of our lives. We spent the next few days sending Ali images of ravens and graves and the style of gothic artwork we like.

Valkyrie tattoo, C L Raven

halfway!

On Wednesday, the big day dawned. We were so nervous, we sat in the car doing the breathing exercises our MCT therapist taught us. We’ve conquered social phobia, lain in a morgue fridge and done lone vigils in very haunted places. Yet the thought of being tattooed terrified us. Neen came with us for moral support. And to mock our pain. We spent the next hour finalising our designs with Ali. She’d had the great idea to add ivy and smoke. A lot of the gravestones in our books are covered in ivy, so we thought it would be perfect. Cat chose an open winged raven, Lynx went for closed wing.

Cat went first. Six hours later, she was tattooed. Yes, she sat still still for 6 hours. This was the biggest shock, considering we can’t even get through a film without fidgeting. And due to popular demand, we filmed it. We thought we could make a Calamityville tattoo special with a montage and some catchy music. Some bits of the tattoo, Cat didn’t feel at all, other bits were painful. Round the sides of the arm were stingy areas and when Ali added the white to the ivy at the end, that hurt, as she was going over skin she had already tattooed. We found gripping a can of Red Bull helped. And people say it’s bad for us! Most people when they get their first tattoo have something small. Us – half sleeves with massive amount of detail and white. But the design wouldn’t be suitable for a small tattoo. And our arms are so tiny, you wouldn’t see them. We never do anything by halves. People warned us we would get addicted and would soon be planning our next one. We laughed.

Valkyrie tattoo, C L Raven

almost done

Valkyrie tattoo, C L Raven

Ali positioning Lynx’s design

But what people forgot to mention was that putting the cream on hurts like a bitch. It’s far more painful than having the tattoo done. Sitting there for 6 hours getting scratched with multiple needles, that’s fine. Rubbing cream in afterwards – dear god. That pain has got to be one of the circles of Hell. Cat felt a little light headed afterwards, but otherwise felt fine.

Valkyrie tattoo, C L Raven

drawing board

On Friday afternoon, it was Lynx’s turn. Hers only took four and a half hours, but was more painful. Cat filmed some good shots of her grimacing bravely through the pain. Though Lynx finds putting the cream on less painful than having the tattoo done. Lynx felt sick afterwards, but we had tickets to go see Atomic Blondie, a Blondie tribute act in the Globe. Lisa, one of the women in our zumba class, is Blondie so this was a zumba outing. We had enough time time to go home, get some ice cream then dash out to Neen’s to pick her and her wife, Zoe up before heading to the Globe. Being in a small, crowded venue two hours after having your first tattoo isn’t something we’d recommend. We stood on the stairs, where we wouldn’t be jostled. Apparently we’d spent the night standing beside a woman from BBC Wales. We had no idea. Dear god we hope she didn’t glimpse some of the tweets we were posting.

Valkyrie tattoo, C L Raven

ivy detail

The day after the tattoo was a particularly painful day. Again, no-one warned us about that. It feels like sunburn. No, worse than sunburn. Every movement of the arm caused pain. Dressing and undressing hurt, which isn’t much fun when you have to put cream on every 3 hours after removing 4 layers of clothing, or put your coat on as much as we do (we work outside).

But we’ve finally got our tattoos. And people were right. As Lynx was sitting in the chair, we were chatting to Ali about designs for our next ones. Horsemen of the Apocalypse perhaps. We don’t do girly. And now they’re starting to itch. So if you see us slapping our arms, this is not a coded message or a new dance craze, though feel free to join in.Valkyrie tattoos, C L Raven

Escape From Fuck Mountain

So last night, we made Steve, a cleric glow, threw him into a cave where he and a ranger, Pip, got attacked by a fire-breathing beetle then we robbed them, only for the cleric to later be responsible for an orphan burning to death while Lynx lost a jousting tournament and Cat, Jordan and Amy got thrown in jail. Just another Friday night round Tom’s.

No, we haven’t suddenly become a group of outlaws. We’ve started playing Dungeons and Dragons. And we love it! To be honest, we didn’t know much about D & D. We thought it was a game played by men who lived in their mothers’ basements and had trouble getting girlfriends. We thought a game where your fate was decided on a dice roll could not be fun. We were wrong. So very, very wrong. We’re sorry. It is a hell of a lot of fun and out of the group, we’re the only ones who live with our mum. When we announced on Twitter that we’d started a D & D campaign, instead of mocking us, they said “we didn’t think you guys could get any cooler. We were wrong.” Aw thanks. We don’t think we’re cool but we’re glad someone does. We have even taken it to the next level and started dressing as our characters.  We asked our Tweeps if this would be taking it too far. The unanimous answer was: no. In fact, one of our tweeps said it would make us even more cooler. So here we are in our D & D gear. Yes, the weapons are real.C L Raven

This is our cast in Escape from Fuck Mountain: Tom – Dungeon Master. Lynx – Crimthan, a lawfully evil paladin who had a disappointing life and has an empathic link to his warhorse, Hades. Cat – Indiana Raine, a chaotically evil Rogue who keeps failing at sneak attacks and tree climbing. Amy – Vena Owens, a lawfully neutral half-elf waitress with wizard powers and a bat familiar, who joined the party to escape life at the Fuck Inn. Jordan – Lord Wolfy, a chaotic neutral druid who can shapeshift into a wolf and has a deep-seated hatred for wolves. He weighs three and half wolves and looks damn fine in the rain. Pip – Casiel, a Ranger with a hawk who keeps getting robbed and kicked out of trees by the rest of us. Steve – Frank, a lawfully good cleric, who’s supposed to be the good guy of the group but burned an orphan to death and pissed off his god.

The story so far: Day One: We all met in Fuck Inn, where Frank failed to get served and is still bitter about it. A man stumbled in and died in front of us. Indiana Raine stole a map from his pocket but was caught by Crimthan. The map contained mystic symbols, which Vena managed to decipher as being magical and that was it. But it was dark and she was cleaning up blood. After concluding the X on the map meant treasure, we all set off to find it. A visit to Fuck Mountain General Stores led to Lord Wolfy languishing in the sauna for an hour while the rest of us failed to buy supplies for our three day trek through the woods, having been distracted by the sauna. We soon realised our mistake when the night turned cold and we had nothing to sleep in and no fire-starting implements. Lord Wolfy attempted to make a fire using Casiel’s bow. And broke it. Casiel went to sleep in a tree so Indiana Raine attempted to climb the tree to steal the bow. And fell out. After eventually getting into the tree, she then failed to sneakily steal the bow and pulled Casiel out of the tree. After Crimthan eventually started a fire, Casiel returned to her tree. Then we realised she had the food. Lord Wolfy threw a rock at her to wake her up and knocked her unconscious. Crimthan threw the rock and hit her out of the tree.

Half a day trek on, Casiel realised she’d left her bow in the tree and sent her hawk to retrieve it. The hawk dropped it in a tree. Casiel and Indiana kept falling out of the tree in an attempt to fetch the bow so Crimthan tried to chop it down. And got his sword stuck. Then we got attacked by 5 wolves. Lord Wolfy got savaged and lay bleeding out for the entire fight. Vena hit more trees than wolves with her crossbow, Casiel’s arrows hit everywhere except the wolves, Indiana failed in her sneak attack on them but eventually killed one. Crimthan killed 2 and Frank and Casiel eventually killed one each. We later discovered Tom halved their HP. And they were a level 1! This wasn’t looking good. Tom “I’d planned for you to get off Fuck Mountain by the end of the first session. You’re two days behind.”

Who knew dice rolls could be so fatal?

Session 2: Vena read the map and spied a desert village, so we decided to visit it in the hope we could buy some camping supplies. En route, Crimthan spotted circular tracks belonging to a large beetle. Casiel wanted to capture the beetle to use it as a pack mule so we set off in pursuit, tracking it to a cave. Frank was nominated to enter the cave, so Lord Wolfy used his power to make him glow. Crimthan successfully threw him into the cave (don’t ask), where he was attacked by the beetle, which breathed fire. Casiel went in after him because Frank was cutting the beetle’s legs off and she wanted to ride it. The beetle attacked Casiel, who had no weapons. The rest of us stood outside the cave, chatting as the beetle knocked Frank and Casiel unconscious. At this point, Indiana and Crimthan entered the cave, and between them, killed the beetle. Indiana spotted a bag and tried to steal it, but Crimthan caught her and tore the bag in half. Gold coins scattered over the cave, so they collected them. Lord Wolfy thought it would be a good idea to rob Casiel and Frank, as they didn’t need their food or gold, seeing as they were unconscious. Nobody objected, so they were relieved of their possessions and left in the cave to come round while the rest of the party continued towards the desert village.

Lord Wolfy angered the DM, who caused a tree to fall in the forest. A lot of time was spent arguing about the best way to deal with the tree, until Crimthan eventually chopped it up. By this time, Casiel and Frank had caught up. Frank believed Lord Wolfy’s lies that their food and gold were stolen by Bandits, but Casiel wasn’t fooled. Lord Wolfy wanted to ride Crimthan’s horse, so they rolled for it. Crimthan lost. Convinced Lord Wolfy would steal his horse, he used his empathetic link to make Hades throw Lord Wolfy. We eventually made our way to the village, discovering there was a festival with different competitions. We spent the rest of the day in the inn before retiring to bed. The next day, Crimthan entered the jousting competition and lost in the second round. Casiel entered the archery competition (after borrowing money from Vena) and was doing well until she insulted the DM’s maths skills. She lost the competition. Note to selves: don’t anger the DM. He is God :D

Vena visited a fortune teller to make sense of the map while Frank decided to entertain the village children, by regaling them with tales of yonder. The children were so bored, one set fire to the tent. Frank panicked while burning fabric rained down upon him and eventually managed to usher most of the children out. However, one unconscious orphan was accidentally left behind to burn. Frank hid from the angry villagers in the inn. Meanwhile, Lord Wolfy and Indiana hatched a plot to rob the villagers. Lord Wolfy would transform into a wolf and frighten the villagers, while Indiana would step in, offer to kill the wolf for a fee then return with her fur cloak as evidence. The guards who were watching the box of money collected from the competition’s entry fees, were a higher level than us and shot Lord Wolfy with their crossbows. Indiana lured the captain of the guards away and launched a sneak attack to slit his throat. And failed. Unimpressed by Lord Wolfy and Indiana’s antics, the guards threw them in jail. Indiana attempted to pick the lock. And failed. Vena heard the commotion and was able to open the jail with her spells. Indiana attempted a sneak attack on the guard. And failed. The three of them spent the rest of the festival behind bars.

So while we seem to be better at attacking each other than actual enemies, we have been fully converted to D & D and look forwards to every Friday night encounter. Will we get through a day without bickering? Will we ever win a fight? And will we ever escape from goddamn Fuck Mountain?

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