Long Road to Ruin

Yesterday was the Exeter Novel Prize ceremony. We went last year as our unpublished novel, Bleeding Empire was longlisted. We had a great time and got to meet authors we’d been friends with on Facebook for a while. We were introduced to a literary agent, and then we got invited to read at the Salem literary festival after meeting author Rosemary Smith there. There was also our now famous attempt at small talk by regaling the breeding habits of our African Land Snails. You can read it here.

This year, another of our unpublished novels, Silent Dawn, was also longlisted. So we drove to Exeter to attend the prize giving. We were really looking forwards to seeing our author friends again and meeting new ones. Events like this don’t happen often and after we’ve been having yet another crisis of confidence in our writing and sales, we needed this.

Fate as usual, had other ideas. If you’re expecting our usual post about how we set off of an adventure, get lost, hilarity ensues and it all ends in a funny blogpost, you’re wrong. Very wrong. We can’t find anything even remotely amusing about this, so we’re not going to try. Feel free to try on our behalf.

We’d dyed our hair for the occasion, we dressed in our finery (well, we had to wear our old ripped hoodies because our decent ones got soaked walking Bandit), and we set off. It was all going so well. The prize giving started at 2:15. We left Cardiff at 11:30. There was no traffic, it finally stopped raining and then we hit J22 on the M5. We needed to get off at J29. From cruising along at 70 mph, we suddenly found ourselves crawling at 10 mph before coming to a standstill. All three lanes were gridlocked. Unfortunately, Pinky was a bit to wide to weave between the lanes like a motorcyclist was doing. There were no warning signs of anything. This is the first weekend of the Easter holidays, so we expected some traffic, but only a few of the cars were laden down with kids and luggage. The only acceptable things to cause this much traffic are a zombie apocalypse or a naked Johnny Depp. Disappointingly, neither were in attendance. By the time we got to J23, it was 1 p.m. We tweeted saying we were either going to be horribly late, or not make it. The prize giving only lasts a couple of hours, so we had a very short window to make it. Our mum told us to just come home, but that meant we definitely wouldn’t make it. We were determined to try. We had no Wi-Fi, no 3G and for the first time ever, we’d left our trusty paper map at home. So we had no way of finding an alternative route. And even if we did, we were in the outer lane and couldn’t have crossed the two other lanes to even take a junction off.

Turned out, at J24, there were roadworks set out. And they’d closed one lane. Our lane. They only put up signs about this 2 miles from the roadworks. Except there WERE NO roadworks. They’d set out all the cones and closed the lane but was there anyone ACTUALLY working? No. So they caused all this chaos for nothing. If they are not working then they have no need to create such a massive traffic jam on the first weekend of the Easter holidays. Their level of stupidity is prize-winning. 2 p.m came. And went. And we were still miles away from Exeter. According to Google, this stretch of the M5 should take 20 minutes without traffic and is 19.3 miles long. We were queuing for 19.3 miles and it took us a damn sight longer than 20 minutes.

When we saw the signs for our lane closing, we moved over. Also, the wanker blossom in the BMW in front of us had left so much space in front of him, at least two coaches and the Great Wall of China could have fitted. And left space for souvenirs. It’s jackasses like him that make traffic queues longer. And did he move over in advance? No. He did the usual wanker blossom behaviour of coasting down the now empty lane and forcing his way in at the last moment, therefore jumping ahead of everyone who had obeyed the signs. We hope he suffers with an incurable itch and endless mouth ulcers. But in our experience, Karma only ever rewards the wankensteins of this planet.

Once we were finally free of the roadworks, the traffic magically cleared. There were no services now so we passed our junction and stopped at J30 for the services. We were now 16 minutes away but it was nearing 3 p.m. Except getting back to our junction meant we were now on the wrong side of the road. And it took us the wrong way down the A30. We pulled into a truck stop in Honiton at a place called the Smiley cafe. No-one was friggin’ smiling. The place was closed and the toilets were horrible. We finally got 3G to see how to get back. We were about 25 minutes away. It was now about 3:10 p.m. So it would take us 25 minutes to actually get to Exeter, and we had to find a car park on a Saturday and get to St Stephen’s church. And the ceremony was most likely finishing at 4.

General Pinkinton at the Smiley Cafe

General Pinkinton at the Smiley Cafe

You’re probably expecting this tale of woe to finish with us miraculously getting there, meeting lots of brilliant authors and recanting the whole sorry saga in a funny way. But that would be the Hollywood ending and like us, Fate doesn’t believe in happy endings. We sat in the truck stop for 45 minutes in complete silence, broken only by the Silent Hill alarm as Tom texted to cheer us up. Unusually for us, we didn’t have a tantrum and start ranting. Going to the prize giving was really important to us. We’d by-passed rage and plunged straight into despondency. We tried finding somewhere to go so our trip to Devon wouldn’t be completely wasted. Trip Adviser suggested cool underground medieval passages which we were tempted by but they were a guided tour and when we feel crappy, being around the general public is a bad idea. We didn’t want to go home and every place that sounded interesting meant being around people. So we sat there and did nothing.

We eventually drove home. If it wasn’t for the fact that we had arranged to be at Tom’s for D&D night, we might still be sitting outside the Smiley Cafe. Google maps finally decided to work and took us through country lanes and small villages, which was a welcome break from the M5. And traffic was still gridlocked from J23-25 on the M5. If we find whoever put those cones out, we will peel all their skin off…no. Peeling their skin off is too kind. It will come off in big chunks, causing less pain. We will use a cheese grater to remove their skin then pour fire ants on all their exposed nerves. They ruined our weekend. We don’t get to go to author events and the one that we could go to, we completely missed because of the twat bandits who decided to fuck up the M5. And they cost us a day’s work. Had we not tried to go to the event, we would’ve spent the day working, catching up on the 5 days of nothing from when our laptop was broken. And we can’t even claim the petrol on expenses because technically, we didn’t actually go to a work-related event. We just drove to Devon and sat in a truck stop. Which was closed. So we’ve lost time, money and a fantastic opportunity.

We stopped at the chip shop on our way home. Only for a big campervan to drive into the back of us at the traffic lights. The thought that ran through our heads wasn’t ‘shit we’ve been hit’, it was ‘really?’We’ve owned General Pinkinton 8 years. No-one has ever driven into him. And yesterday, of all days, it happened. Luckily there was no damage to Pinky. The guy’s camper was a bit crumpled. Pinky 1 Campervan 0. He was very nice and kept apologising and asking if we were ok. Well, we hate the world today and wish to inflict unimaginable torture on those who gridlocked the M5, but physically we’re fine. When we got home, Cat noticed her back was hurting.  She doesn’t suffer from back pain but ended up having to stand up for most of the evening because sitting down hurt too much. It’s fine now. Doing Lynx’s back physio exercises helped. We spent the evening at Tom’s and although he always cheers us up, we weren’t great company.

So our weekend is summed up by missing a great event thanks to the M5, followed by a car accident. Screw you, Fate.  Go pick on someone else for a change. We’re done being your bitches.

Mirror Image

Our lack of combat skills are so renowned, God forced us to fight ourselves. Turns out, our reflections are as bad as we are. After a week’s break, D & D was back and stranger than ever.

The Story so far: Escape from Fuck Mountain Crypt Keepers Campaign of Error Mining for Trouble D & D Disaster Class

When we left the last session, Lord Wolfy and Cassiel had wandered off to loot a store, while the rest of the group confronted the general, who wasn’t called Pinkinton. The most competent member of the group, Vena, threw a fire bubble at the general. The world went black. And there wasn’t a trip switch to fix it.

When the blackness had splintered, we discovered we were in a dome with mirrors. It was like being trapped in a nightmare. Crimthan and Indiana saw only one way to deal with this terror – they attacked their reflections. And missed. Frank was perturbed that this was their response to seeing their reflections. The others tried talking to them, but their reflections said the same things at the same time. Although there was something off about the reflections. They were the same but slightly different. We couldn’t tell the difference between the reflections and the real ones. Vena waved at hers. It scowled back.

Crimthan attacked his reflection. And missed. His reflection attacked him back. And missed. Not so dissimilar after all. Indiana attacked her reflection and missed with both daggers. As did her reflection. Lord Wolfy had a different approach – he asked DM whether his reflection was missing his penis. He stripped off to check. His reflection imitated him. DM: “your reflection is anatomically similar.” Pip: “I don’t want to think about what that looks like.” Lynx: “like a furry Ken doll.” Lord Wolfy decided seducing his reflection was the best tactic. Despairing, DM made him do a seduction roll. 2. His reflection punched him in the face.

So we kept attacking them. Cassiel successfully killed her reflection, which exploded into particles. Vena wounded hers but was then knocked unconscious by her reflection’s retaliation, so Cassiel killed the other Vena with an arrow that severed the reflection in two. Indiana attacked hers again, wounding it slightly then her reflection responded, missing. Cassiel “Both Rogues are bad! I’m attacking the worst one.” Luckily her arrow missed as she shot at Indiana. Crimthan critically wounded his reflection, eventually killing it. Crimthan’s reflection released a dark purple light before disappearing. Indiana’s reflection somehow succeeded in her attack, knocking Indiana’s HP to 1. So Crimthan killed the reflection, which emitted a green light as she died. Frank attacked his reflection. And missed. His reflection responded. And missed. After watching this dismal fight between two one-armed clerics, we all took turns to attack. We didn’t know which cleric we were attacking but it didn’t matter to us as long as a cleric got hurt. Cassiel’s idea of throwing both clerics to see which one we could throw better was not met with warmth. Eventually the reflection cleric died so Crimthan damaged Lord Wolfy’s reflection before Cassiel finished it off.

Then the dome began to splinter. So we attacked it. Swinging wildly around us at empty space. Indiana grappled Frank and threw him at the dome. He hit it and slithered down in a heap. Lord Wolfy decided to throw his scythe so Crimthan ducked and Indiana hid beneath the unconscious Vena. The scythe got stuck in the floor. Crimthan tried to take Vena’s magic ring to heal her, but the evil amulet around Vena’s neck glowed purple and Crimthan backed away. As Frank reminded him, bad things happen when purple is involved. Eventually the top of the dome cracked and we all jumped out. To find ourselves back in the room where the general was. He was in disbelief that we were the first heroes to defeat the mirror images. To be honest, we were a little shocked ourselves. Cassiel offered him a counselling service. We didn’t kill the general, but we did break him. As he sobbed his way out of the room, Indiana attempted a sneak attack. And failed.


D & D are moving! We have finally set up a new blog purely for our D & D campaign so if you enjoy reading these posts, come and give the new blog a follow. It’s still in its creation phase so watch it grow and go horribly wrong 😀 D&DDisasterClass

D and D Disaster Class

You know your D & D campaign is in trouble when one member says “Will throwing my penis at him help?” Our quest continues. And we’re worse than ever.

The adventure so far: Escape from Fuck Mountain Crypt Keepers Campaign of Error Mining for Trouble

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, chaotic evil 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.

After quelling the mine rebellion, we returned to the City of Light to claim our rewards. Only to be met with riddles. image

Lynx had a word ladder. She had to get from SLAVE to SWORD in 5 steps. She did slave, shave, share, shore, swore, sword. Turned out, that was not suggested by the internet. Their answer was slave, stave, stare, store, swore, sword.

Cat’s was: my mother bought my armour for me one summer day. Spent every penny she had. Spent 20 and twice again and bankrupted my dad. How much did I spend? She answered: nothing. She was right. image

Amy’s was really hard: What had no beginning nor any end. What has no shadow to hide. What means eternity until death and can be narrow or wide? She got the answer right: engagement ring.

Jordan had to join 5 points in three different lines without them crossing. So Lynx got a better bastard sword, Cat got new armour, Amy got medical supplies and Jordan didn’t get his unicorn.

The ruler of the City of Light told us they wanted us to sort out a problem – destroy the Lord White Luminous Shine in the sky. But he’s protected by four generals in the north, south, east and west. We would be rewarded generously for this. Maybe we’ll finally get a castle, if not in real life, at least in D&D life. The lord is a good guy and wants to put a stop to the Impossitanium Mine. Turned out, the peasants in the slums were terrified, not of us, but of being forced down into the mines. Indiana: “Us pinning down that child then attacking him probably didn’t help then.”

We decided to go after the general in the north, who was in a fortress on Fuck Mountain, as he was easiest and his guards were stupid. We were confident we could take them. The ruler created a portal and we discussed throwing Frank the cleric through it. As three members of our party have thrown the cleric, Vena and Indiana were feeling left out. We decided to jump through instead. Most of us succeeded and landed just outside the fortress. Vena and Frank landed in a lake quite far away. They went back through the weakening portal and found themselves in a cellar beneath a building inside the fortress.

The rest of us walked to the fortress gate. We were given four options: dress as guards, fake a delivery, burn down the gate or climb the walls. We decided to try all of them. Cassiel and Indiana would climb the walls, Vena would burn the gate, Frank would help as he’s good at accidentally setting things on fire. Like helpless orphans. And Crimthan and Lord Wolfy would dress as guards and fake a delivery. Cassiel and Indiana ventured around the back wall. There was a moat about 8-10 foot wide surrounding it. Indiana decided to jump it. She landed in the moat. Crimthan wanted to kill the guards, but they were in the tower and out of reach. So Lord Wolfy and Crimthan decided galloping Hades was the best way to get the guards’ attention. Cassiel insisted that war horses don’t gallop. DM rolled for it. Hades galloped towards the gate and got the guards’ attention. Lord Wolfy: “We’re delivering this war horse to the general.” Guard: “What’s the general’s name?” Lord Wolfy: “William. Smith.” Crimthan: “Pinkinton.” Guard: “Pinkinton?” Lord Wolfy: “That’s what his friends call him.” Crimthan: “it’s his nickname. We go way back.” Lord Wolfy: “You clearly don’t know him well.” One guard went back inside to check.

Around the back of the castle, Indiana threw her grappling hook up the wall without attaching the rope. Luckily Cassiel had another grappling hook but no rope. Indiana: “We’ll use my dress.” So they ripped up the dress and tied it to the grappling hook. Indiana: “And we’ll attach my whip to it.” DM: “In case you’re feeling kinky on the way up?” Indiana to Cassiel: “Check us out, crafting things.” They rolled a strength check to test the rope. 3. They gently tugged it. It held. They threw it up and to everyone’s surprise, it held. So they climbed, attracting the guard’s attention, who fired a crossbow bolt at them. Indiana: “Flash him!” Cassiel flashed the guard. And promptly fell off the rope. But the guard dropped his crossbow, so they considered that a success. The guard found another crossbow and shot at them again. Indiana: “Hey! That’s not nice! You got to see boobs.” Guard: “I’m gay.” Cassiel: “Then why did you drop the crossbow? You’re not as gay as you think you are.” Lord Wolfy: “Are you going to turn him?” DM: “Are you going to attempt to seduce the guard?” Cassiel decided against it.

Frank and Vena meanwhile, were still in the cellar. Vena’s bat, Zero, through the medium of squeaks, suggested it wasn’t safe to venture out. The commotion outside caught their attention. Vena: “Our party’s arrived.” After the guard round the front failed to return, Lord Wolfy and Crimthan headed around the back of the castle. The makeshift grappling hook broke and Indiana plummeted to the ground. Another guard appeared. Cassiel took aim. And shot herself in the foot. Indiana: “Flash him!” Cassiel and Lord Wolfy both flashed him, with Lord Wolfy tearing off his shorts. Cassiel: “You’re a zombie. Shouldn’t that have fallen off?” She managed to wound the guard while he was distracted. Lord Wolfy: “Will it help if I throw my penis at him?” You know you’re in trouble if you have to resort to throwing genitals at guards. And these were the easy ones!

Crimthan tied his rope to Cassiel’s arrow (with a roll of 19) and she fired it through a window. It fell straight back out. So Crimthan made a lasso with his rope and we all took turns at throwing it up the wall. After several failed attempts, we succeeded. Indiana scaled the wall and attempted a sneak attack on another guard. And failed.

Zero explored the cellar and alerted Vena and Frank to a button. Haunted by flashbacks of being in the cavern, Frank told Vena to press it. A portion of the wall slid aside, revealing the rest of us. There was a bit of a debate how to proceed and in the confusion, the cleric got thrown into the moat. DM: “He could’ve walked across by himself.” Bit late. Crimthan tried to save the drowning cleric, whose scale mail had dragged him under, only for his scale mail to get caught on Frank’s and they both sank to the bottom of the moat. Vena, Cassiel and Lord Wolfy failed several times to rescue them before Lord Wolfy heroically stepped up with his scythe to fish them out. His scythe pierced Frank’s armpit and under mysterious circumstances, Frank’s arm was severed. Lord Wolfy claimed the severed arm as a prize.

Meanwhile, Indiana attacked the guard, who fell off the wall, landing beside the others. Indiana: “Take his uniform!” A bleeding, wet Frank was promptly dressed in the guard’s uniform and pushed through the door to convince the rest of the guards that he was one of them. It didn’t work, so Crimthan arrived to charm them. This caused more confusion. Crimthan tried to convince them he was Frank’s trainer then attacked them (badly) while Frank rolled away to safety. Indiana realised being on top of the wall wasn’t helpful so swung down, to be confronted by the locked door into the building. A lack of lock picking kit is a big mistake for a Rogue. So she kicked the door in. DM: “You all hear a loud bang.” Lord Wolfy: “That would be our Rogue.” Indiana made it in and failed with her attack. Crimthan and Frank succeeded in wounding a guard, but fortunately, Vena saved everyone by torching the guards with her fire bubbles.

We decided to hunt down the general. Lord Wolfy and Cassiel sneaked off to gather supplies, which made us suspicious. Luckily, a large arrow pointed us in the direction of the general. Anyone would think DM didn’t trust us to succeed. We came across an ornate door. Vena threw a fireball at it. The fire slowed down then crawl over the door. She and Crimthan used their knowledge arcana to determine it was a magical door. Crimthan tried kicking it and melted his armour to his leg. DM: “It occurs to you there is a handle.” Crimthan turned the handle. The door opened. We can’t help thinking we might be a lot better at this if we stopped and thought about stuff instead of going in, all guns blazing only to fail miserably. Inside the room was a man glowing as he fed power to the mysterious Lord White Luminous Shine. Indiana: “Can I throw the cleric at him?” Throwing the cleric at problems has become our default option. But for the first time, Frank decided to put up a fight and successfully wrestled his way free from Indiana’s grip. Indiana: “You let everyone else throw you.” So she tried a sneak attack on the general. And tripped. She broke her nose.

We may have failed in every attempt at D & Ding, but you know it’s a good session when you laugh so hard your eyes hurt. Lord Wolfy to DM (who sat with his head in his hands): “was this how you imagined the story to go?” Flashing guards and dismembering your friends probably isn’t how most campaigns play out. We’re looking forwards to next week. The general should be very afraid. To quote a phase often uttered during play: “we’ve got this.”

The Play’s the Thing

Witches Abroad, Monstrous ProductionsWith 5 weeks to go until Witches Abroad’s opening night, we had our first rehearsal at The Gate. It’s an old church converted into an arts centre and we’ve been there twice before to watch Monstrous Productions’ Pratchett plays, but last night we got to go back stage. We were excited. Exploring places is our thing. Not sure how we’re all going to fit in to the dressing room though. We’ll probably follow our usual protocol of changing in toilets or the car. That’s not the glamorous image of actors, we know, but then again, we’re not actors. And we’re really good at changing in toilets and cars.

The warm up game consisted of two things we’re most uncomfortable with – closing your eyes in public and having people touch you as you walk around. So we were allowed to guard the steps to make sure no-one hurt themselves. One guy did, but he walked into the side barrier, not the steps. We weren’t guarding the sides. You’d think that having been part of this since November that we’d be completely at ease with everyone and be the typical us that our friends are used to, especially since everyone there is so nice. But we retreat into socially awkward us in big groups. We know we come across as aloof, probably even unfriendly, but we’re really not, even if we do immediately go and sit on the other side of the room from everyone else 😀 Sorry, fellow cast members. We actually like you but there’s a lot of you so we’ll continue sitting on the other side by ourselves looking awkward. If you’ve watched our Calamityville episodes, you may have noticed that when we’ve done group vigils, we don’t speak until we’re forced to. Socially Awkward Penguins isn’t a choice, it’s a lifestyle. Though we did speak to two guys last night. About the torture of epilating. Check us out enhancing our social skills!

We thought that our inability to lose our Socially Awkward Penguin state meant we were regressing, but our MCT therapist assured us we’re not. Now the anxiety has lessened, we’re left with our pathological make-up. Which unfortunately in our case, is Socially Awkward Penguin. If you ask our mum, she’ll tell you that even when we were 18 months old, we’d refuse to go into a play park if there was even one other child in there. We’d stand outside and wait until they had gone. (Standing and staring, just like the snake twins.) But our therapist said we must see this as an advantage. We’re playing creepy characters who don’t speak, so if we were as confident and comfortable as everyone else, we would be less convincing in our roles.

It was fantastic getting to see parts of the play performed at the Gate. It seems so real now. We can’t wait for the dress rehearsals. The speed runs of some scenes were brilliant. And the good news is, we terrify Caroline, who plays Lilith, every time we walk on stage to join her in our first scene. All we do is walk on, stare and nod. See, we said we were born to play creepy twins. In one scene we get to run behind a curtain and stay there in the dark for the rest of the scene. That might be our favourite bit. We love small dark spaces, they relax us. As our time spent in Newsham Park’s naughty cupboards and morgue fridge will testify.

It’s been an interesting experience to be involved in a play, especially as we were in the audience for Mort and Wyrd Sisters, so to be on the other side is strange. Part of us wishes we could be in the audience with our friends, so we’d get to see the whole play, because it really is brilliant. It doesn’t matter how many times we hear some of the lines, we still laugh. We’re in awe of everyone who have already learned their lines, in particular Zoe, who plays Nanny Ogg – she’s been off script for a while. All we have to do is remember when we walk on. Despite being Socially Awkward Penguins, we haven’t regretted saying yes. How many people get to say they’ve acted in a play of one of Terry Pratchett’s books? A year ago, no amount of cajoling/bribery/being held at gun point would have persuaded us to take part.

We’ve started reading Witches Abroad and Wyrd Sisters and we can’t read Granny, Nanny and Magrat’s dialogue without hearing it being spoken by Ellen, Zoe and Lowri who play them. It’s strange but also nice. If you love Pratchett, come and see the play. If you’ve never read a Pratchett book, come and see the play anyway. If you hate Pratchett… *tumble weed blows past* come and see the damn play. It’s well worth the money and you’re helping a great cause, as the money gets donated to Alzheimer’s UK.

Witches Abroad is on April 8th – 11th. Tickets are £8 or £6 concessions and you can buy them here or we have paper ones.

Witches Abroad

Warlock says “come and see Witches Abroad.”

Mining for Trouble

How do you defend against an attack by a sand worm? Throw the cleric at it. Pip and Steve return with a vengeance.

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, chaotic evil 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   Campaign of Error

The last saga ended with Cassiel and Frank trapped behind  a wall, Indiana asleep in a cathedral and Lord Wolfy, Vena and Crimthan stuck outside the City of Lights. Our latest segment began outside the city walls. Lord Wolfy and Crimthan, although tempted to pile up the bodies of everyone living in the slums outside the city, agreed that it was too time-consuming. Crimthan suggested they burn the slums to the ground, luring out the guards. Vena, with her fire bubbles, would be perfect for the job. But before they could put their plan in action, a guard left the city and asked if they were mercenaries. An unconvincing ‘we might be’ persuaded him and he asked them to follow him into the city. They were immediately suspicious, but accompanied him anyway. As Vena pointed out, one of our party was inside the city. At this point, Indiana had woken in the cathedral and on finding nothing to steal, hid in a cupboard when she heard voices.

Meanwhile, Cassiel and Frank woke to find themselves in the Impossitanium Mine, chained to slaves, with no memory other than ‘purple’. Their weapons, provisions and Cassiel’s hawk were missing. Fortunately we’d already relieved them of their gold on a previous night so they didn’t have to worry about that. Cassiel challenged the guard, demanding to know what had happened to their stuff and what they were mining for. After several minutes of arguing, Frank managed to persuade Cassiel to start mining, as the guards didn’t seem like particularly pleasant people.

Vena, Lord Wolfy and Crimthan followed the guard into a room of important-looking men. Then Lord Wolfy suggested they go for a wander. Indiana heard them and emerged from her hiding place, to find herself on a balcony above them. Indiana: “I’m going to jump down.” DM: “you’re going to jump off a cathedral balcony?” Crimthan: “onto a concrete floor?” Indiana: *thinks* “maybe I’ll use the stairs.” DM: “no, no, you said you were going to jump. Roll to see if you manage to grab a banner on your way down.” We love the way DM forces us to carry out our crazy ideas, even though they are almost always detrimental to our health. Anyone would think we might have broken his sanity in some way… Indiana jumped, managed to grab a banner and tumbled ungracefully to the floor. We returned to the room with the important-looking men. The guard was confused as to why there was an extra person. Crimthan persuaded him she had always been there, she had just been behind his horse. Indiana: “I’m very small.” The mission, should we choose to accept it, was to quell a rebellion in the Impossitaniam Mine by any means necessary. In return, we could have anything at all. Indiana elected for new leather armour, as her dress is now rather tattered, (yes, Cat actually wore an elaborate dress to D & D this time) Lord Wolfy requested an animal familiar, Vena asked for medical supplies and Crimthan couldn’t decide, so DM suggested a better bastard sword.

In the mines, a small band of slaves had escaped and were freeing the other slaves. Cassiel shouted at the slaves to free her, so they left her until last. She attempted to swing her pickaxe at her shackles. It lodged in the ground. She rolled a strength check. 6. That pick was not coming out. Frank swung his pick at the shackles. It also stuck in the ground. His strength roll (3) also meant his pick was not moving. It wasn’t looking hopeful. Fortunately, the slaves released them. Instead of running for freedom, Cassiel decided they should look for the armoury to get their stuff back. They reached a crossroads with a riddle:

‘From here to there, left outside the mine, right way or wrong, find your way out.’

They went straight ahead and found themselves at similar crossroads. They went straight. And returned to the crossroads. Cassiel told Frank to chip off the wall so they could make a mark. Frank rolled a 20. Why are we only good at insignificant things? Frank marked the wall and they went backwards. Only to end up at the crossroads. Lynx to Steve: “Bet you wish you were glowing now.” Then a strange noise echoed down the mine – ‘mwarlarragh’. A sand worm. DM’s impersonation of the sandworm was the highlight of the evening.

The rest of us reached the mine to find dead guards and escaping slaves. We all rolled intimidation rolls to scare the miners back to work. Only Indiana succeeded. Embracing her evil side, Vena created a fire bubble and threw it down the mine, barbecuing some rebellious slaves while the others looked on in terror. Shouting ‘let that be a lesson to you’, the rest of us attacked. Well, we say attacked. For some reason, our prowess at succeeding at simple things doesn’t crossover into battle. Crimthan swung his sword and missed. Indiana only gave one slave a paper cut, Lord Wolfy’s wolf pounce wasn’t quite as ferocious as he’d hoped and Vena’s eldritch blast hit the ceiling. Luckily we rolled out of the way.

The sand worm decided he fancied a ranger and cleric snack. Weaponless, Cassiel panicked and asked if she could throw Frank at it (Pip and Steve are married in real life). Her strength roll not only allowed her to pick Frank up, but to work him like an Olympic hammer. She flung him into the sand worm, dazing them both. They fled and found themselves in a cavern, which contained three things: a red button in the middle of the floor, a pedestal and a pressure plate. The pedestal moved from left to right, towards the pressure plate. It would only take thirty seconds to reach the plate. Pressing the red button reset it. Cassiel and Frank took turns pressing the button while arguing about what they should do. Frank tried pressing a grove in the wall behind the pedestal. He failed and was dragged along the floor. Cassiel reset the pedestal and tried to push the wall. She also failed and was dragged. Twice.

Crimthan attacked another slave, missed and received a pickaxe to the shoulder for his troubles. He then couldn’t use his two-handed bastard sword, so took the whip Indiana had stolen from a dead guard and lashed a slave in the face. Indiana killed the slave while Vena attempted another eldritch blast. This one bounced off the floor. Lord Wolfy performed another wolf pounce, only to jump over the slaves. He jumped back, this time managing to scrape some of them with his claws. Indiana stabbed one slave in the thigh and Lord Wolfy chopped his legs off with his scythe. The slaves, completely confused and scared of these inept warriors, decided the mine was a safer place to be. We followed them and chained them up. That’ll teach ’em.

Cassiel and Frank were still battling the pedestal in the cavern. Cassiel tried to force Frank onto the pressure plate. He refused and while they were bickering, they forgot to press the red button. The pedestal hit the pressure plate and opened a door. Shamefaced, they left the cavern, joining up with the rest of us. Cassiel noticed Lord Wolfy was a strange grey colour. Despite our attempts to persuade her he was ill from eating bad meat, her nature knowledge roll exposed him as a zombie. We assured her only Vena’s crispy arm was in danger of him and despite us all drinking water infected from the zombie virus, we were all healthy. DM to Cassiel and Frank: “You notice one of your party is wearing what was an opulent dress but is now tattered.” Cassiel to Indiana: “What happened to you?” Indiana: “I jumped into acid mist and spent some time naked.” We went outside to ask one of the barely-living guards where the armoury was. He died before he could tell us. Vena attempted CPR, but her ruined arm hindered her, so Indiana suggested Lord Wolfy bite him to turn him into a zombie so he could tell us. Lord Wolfy bit him to bring him back to life. It didn’t work. DM: “You realise two of your party are still dressed as slaves, which may look suspicious to the men who hired you.” Indiana: “Should we chain them back up?” We stripped two guards of their uniforms to disguise Cassiel and Frank then decided to return to the City of Lights to claim our reward. Unfortunately, Crimthan is the only one with a horse and the knowledge of riding. So Cassiel and Lord Wolfy attempted to use their nature knowledge to control the two cart horses. Cassiel’s horse obeyed and went straight ahead. Lord Wolfy’s turned right. He eventually got it under control and we returned to the city, victorious.

*N.B* We are in the process of setting up a new blog purely for our D & D campaign. By ‘in the process of’, we mean we’ve talked about it, got a shortlist of blog themes but cannot think of a title for it so haven’t progressed further than that. We’d be very grateful for any title suggestions!