Amsterday – day three

Another day in Amsterdam, our third day started as the others before – with an excellent breakfast. This time we were heading for the Bakers & Roasters, only to find a long queue in front of it and quickly deciding it did not look special enough to wait in line. I think it was a great decision for we ended mere minutes afterwards in front of The Avocado Show – this one also with a (short) queue but definitely worth waiting. Juli enjoyed a salmon – avocado – egg combination and I ended up with a marvellous tropical bowl. It was crunchy, fruity, smooth and just a great starter into day three. And did I mention the nice mixture of funky music? It was just plainly enjoyable. Speaking of it, this day promised to be a bit rainy, so we were looking for a little bit of indoor options, deciding for the Amsterdam Museum. On our way there, we happened to drop by in a great shoe venue and I have to admit, it felt just right to buy a pair of New Rock at Taft in the Kalverstraat. From there it started a little bit with these tiny raindrops and we took a sip of warm ginger tea at the Museumscafe Mokum (by the way Mokum happens to be the jiddisch word for safe-haven and also for Amsterdam itself) before heading into the Amsterdam Museum. Learning more on the city and its surroundings was our primary task and – it worked quite well. Good visuals showed for example the city’s different levels below sea and above – so for example yesterday’s park was 2m below sea level – quite an interesting feeling if you learn about this. Also the organisation of the city itself, the transformations from catholic to protestant and towards the tolerant open city it seemingly is still today. It was stunning to see many transformations over time, from world-war I in which the netherlands were neutral to 1940-45 as besieged country with many losses – just 16.000 jews that were slaughtered by the overwhelming german force. It inspired quite raw emotions with many atrocities of the past from slavery to naval warfare to happyness and joy for having the first marriages for gay and lesbian couples in April, 2001. The story of the toy-rings that were removed to reveal tattooed marriage rings with one of the couples was for me particularly nice – just something to behold. After several hours between art, war, crime, trade we concluded to call it an afternoon when we headed onwards north to A’dam toren (Amsterdam tower).Since we had some time left, we decided for another ginger tea and mint tea at a cafe right next to it – but I have to say from our three days it was the first time I got the impression of a rather slow and uninspired service. Also the menu did not impress too much, so I’ll skip this “recommendation”. For the tower itself, with a preliminary booked time-slot at the swing we had a very, very windy experience of swinging freely 135m above ground. The progression to the top was a nicely done experience in itself and in my opinion seeing Amsterdam at night, from up there – is a definite must-see – breathtaking and adorable, stunning and exciting, where adrenaline meets serotonin. Having enjoyed not only that view we headed again for the (free) ferry and with the metro and line 2 to our final destination for today – the Happy Bull. So, if you like burgers – if you enjoy them with some homemade fries or coleslaw, if you enjoy a nice beer or ice-tea and maybe love some venecian ice-cream shake – then this might be just the best place to be – ever. It was special, the service was lovely and very attentative, the food delicious – just a great end for day three before we returned to our lovely place at innamsterdam4u for another night of sleep before we finally head towards Emmeloord in Flevoland tomorrow.

Amsterdam – day two

It felt good to sleep a little bit longer than yesterday. Juli decided to set her alarm for 08:00 – approximately 50 minutes before sunrise, wondering how it could still be that dark on the outside. We’ve seen our hosts for a few moments this morning when we already had decided to go for our breakfast at Dignita. We decided for a sweet start (me) and Black Forest Pancake Stack (Juli) and it was a simple exercise to enjoy. The tea was good and service very friendly. The weather was according to this time of the year quite cold and we decided for a walk through Vondelpark which took us around half an hour and gave us a beautiful green spot inmidst of also beautiful mansions. From there we took a short break for a cup of hot fresh mint tea and a sip of freshly squeezed orange juice at B&B Lunchroom Leidsestraat. Very unfortunately we were still too full from our breakfast so we didn’t get a chance at the supreme burger menu. After we got our hands and feet back a little warmer we headed towards Albert Cuyp Market. It felt a little bit like the Vienna Naschmarkt. Particularly fish and seafood was amazing, decoratively arranged so you wouldn’t mind having it in your kitchen or on your plate. Unfortunately we only strolled through, not convinced to try Stroopwaffels or Poffertjes or Apple Beignets or anything for that matter. Still definitely a nice place to go and get an idea on Amsterdams largest daily market. From there we decided for a gaming venue at Friends & Foes. Again while we didn’t decide to buy anything we felt at home, friendly place which serves a large collection of dutch and english board games, card games and there were a definite selection of gems. The clerk/owner was friendly from our very entry to our departure and I would recommend going there if you’re into that kind of stuff. It was close to 15:00 when foodhallen became our next stop, for obvious reasons? A few minutes on foot, a few on tram and we managed another nice view on a filled market giving plenty of different cuisines from all around the world their display. Close-by within the “hallen” were several small shops, creative and hand-crafted or at least carefully selected goods. At the close-by Kinkerstraat we finally got our late lunch, a healthy, tasty and great looking poke bowl from Poké Perfect. Now we were curious about a special theatre, built in the 1920ies for around 4 million gulden – the Tuschinsky theatre, nowadays a cinema. Since we missed out on fantastic beasts 2 (Grindelwald’s crimes) – we quickly made up our mind to catch up with this one. The venue was a phantastic settting, reminding me on the musical we watched in London. Enjoying movies at this place is definitely worth the experience, having a great time at the movie itself only a bonus. We came out with mixed feelings, but most likely will give it a try at home when it’s released on netflix, amazon prime or a similar platform. Finally we took a stroll towards the beautifully enlightened grachten and from Central Station we found two seats in a boat for the Amsterdam Light Festival 2018. A Canal Cruise through the Grachten and showing around 20 out of 30 artsy light installations, the tour should have taken around 75minutes but we could enjoy it for more than 90 due to heavy traffic. Definitely worth seeing and a great way to end the day with another memorable sight in Amsterdam on day two.

Amsterdam – day one

Woohoo, it’s a city trip end of the year, since we “received” or forced an invitation by my good friend Emiel and his lovely family. With our journey to Emmeloord at hand, we decided to celebrate New Year with our friends and take the opportunity to see a little bit of this wonderful metropolis Amsterdam when we’re here.

We started really early, that means getting up around 04:00 in Austria, caring for our pets before we leave, drinking a quick sip / cup of tea and enjoying a toasted brioche with jam before we’re out for the airport. As usual we parked the car in Schwechat and took the train to the airport. Dreamily we wandered around the airport to find our gate, where we had plenty of time left before boarding. While I took a nap during the flight itself, Juli already took some nice impressions from above the clouds. The sun decided to join us on our way north. Schiphol was exactly as I remembered it, a large airport but well organized. We managed to grab our luggage and head to our B&B within 90 minutes, taking the Sprint (fast train) and two stations by tram to arrive at the “amsterdam4u“. We were not just welcomed, but very nicely introduced to our room, our vicinity and even a brief history of Amsterdam. To be honest, it wasn’t even brief – but – hey that was a perfect start into a slightly cloudy day on December 27th given by our host Wouter, the rooms are comfy and clean – even a small kitchen included, really nice. We decided to make good use of the weather, take a refreshment at the De Bakkerswinkel in midst of the center of the city. The baked stuff is good, a great variety gives you several great options and then they had those tasty, self-made jams. I mean really tasty – raspberry just juicy & fruity, a ginger that’s enjoyable for more than three teaspoons – actually so good you could eat the whole glass and a passion fruit jam that obviously must have taken kilograms of passion fruit to manufacture this excellent exotic jam – oh wow – oh great – oh mhmmmm!!!! From there we continued our tradition on enjoying and spending time at the local zoo. We did this in Vienna, Dublin, London and Basel before, this Amsterdam zoo is called Artis. Since we “decided” to stumble into the city without much planning, we also continued “clueless” through the zoo – but I have to say it just worked out fine. The local zoo is lovely, a great variety of animals, starting at the size of microbes in Micropia – a great Insectopium, a reptile & bird house, giant aquarium, large cats and many other features we throughly enjoyed.  We ended our journey in before mentioned Micropia, a dedicated museum showing details on viral, bacterial and fungal counterparts in the everyday microverse by using a lot of easy to understand visualisations and even more magnification. On our way back we decided to savor a pho at a vietnamese restaurant. After filling our bellies we took a final stroll through the center and found our way back to our stay. What a wonderful first day, great impressions, incredible food – that’s just a great start into a city trip end of 2018.

Dark Heresy – playtest review

Warhammer 40k, maybe you can describe the setting itself best with one word, as the ultimate Dystopia. 41st millenium and humankind had gained a lot in technology over the time but even more have they forgotten. If you’re not familiar with the setting, I’m sure you find 1001 pages like the wh and wh40k lexicanum. Dark Heresy, published by Fantasy Flight Games is an approach to roleplaying in this dark setting. Now let’s have a look at how our playtest ran:

Initial position

At the very basis we had three players and the dungeon master for the first session and we started off with two of us familiar with the setting and two of us who had not heard a lot more than the sheer existence. As a dungeon master I would recommend strongly that you go through the Dark Heresy rulebook which gives you a very good idea of the world and setting and introduce your players with your version of it. That’s how Tom, our dungeon master, started off into the game yesterday and he did an astounding job that captivated us from the very beginning.

Once you know a bit about inquisition, the various orders, what Space Marines and Inquisitors are for and tend to be like you get very quickly into the game, for the first session this still means you have the hurdle of character generation before you, but fear not – this is quite easy and fast.

Character Generation

For character generation you start off selecting a region where you come from your options ranging from overpopulated hive-worlds to wild and bestial feral worlds, standard imperial worlds to void born. This list is adapted in the DH players handbook with a few more options but for 95% of your games these four should do it as they already give you quite a few options, differentiations and distinctive pros and cons. Continue reading

Blog-game (the next chapter)

The advantage of keeping blogs in my reader even if I never meet the people again is, every once in a while when I’m having a little bit of time, it’s really hard – not – to find a game of creative idea in a blog.

Put your music player on shuffle.
Press forward for each question.
Use the song title as the answer to the question.
No cheating! (This is really funny and often quite true).
Repost this as what your music says about you.

and there we go… Continue reading

Talarian and the misty swamps [pt. 1]

There are these special characters in the life of a roleplaying-gamer. When you first play them you know they are so very enjoyable, when you share them they’re almost everytime good for some smiles or laughter and you know you’re going to have some fun even before the adventure really starts… Talarian (black) circle mage of Waterdeep is one of those characters, when I created him he was just another wizard, I played around and tried to find something that felt right, I concentrated on making him a summoner, switched from Wizard to Sorcerer, enjoyed the thought of an Eldritch Knight even more and voilà, it started to feel just right.

Yesterday it was Martin’s PathfinderRPG debut as a dungeon master and when I try to describe it, I end up with one word: Impressive. Because his story was quite sophisticated, because his descriptions were quite in-depth, and mainly because I did not expect him to find such a very successful combination of story, fun, descriptions, player-integration and (again, because it was a lot of) fun; but he did find it. Furthermore it was an excellent gathering of players in one evening to remember.

Talarian, black robe of the waterdeep circle

Day 41 of the cross-breed study.

While my colleagues are still hesitating on the new calling, I am a step ahead. I’ve found a rare cross-breed of giant cockroachs and giant grasshoppers whose excrements are showing positive effects on the calling itself. I’ve convinced my near-sighted colleagues that I’ve retreated from this most valuable of studies and am currently working on a bat-dung replacement for their all-beloved fireballs. Fools, they can not see their mistake. The noble Duernatar has helped me greatly in locating these cross-breeds at the very watersides of the moon-sea. Shortly after I’ve taken two of those precious teleport-scrolls and started my journey, but there it started – everything was to go a little wrong…

Somewhere I might be meant to be but did not mean to be

“Talarian, Master Talarian?”, a young, almost childish voice woke me from the teleportal statis, after effects – Continue reading

Quickreview: Dr. Parnassus

The Imaginations of Doctor Parnassus,

maybe to be subtitled with “in memorial Heath Ledger” was yesterday’s pre-premiere at our local cinema and I was curious.

I started headfirst into the movie, only having a (very) rough idea of what this all was about, feeling quite comfortable with the german translation of the title which hinted a relation of sorts with Doctor Caligari… Terry Gilliams newest project is weird and reminds of a strange combination of Alice in Wonderland (which is not yet out) and Goethe’s masterpiece Faust. The film very much profits from the ingenious performance of Tom Waits as Mr Nick (aka the Devil himself). What at first appears as an approach full of humor is one of tragedy.

The Imaginations of Doctor Parnassus are wonderful and inspiring, they are an approach to storytelling and to dreaming. They speak of change and danger and are translated with a lot of love and passion behind every single picture. I very much like the Heath Ledger part in it with the perspective of change and the three replacements of Heath in those imaginations. (Farell, Law and Depp)

For my part, I couldn’t get warm with Lily Cole, mainly due to her ever-child appearance, though her role fits very good in… Andrew Garfield on his part was a troublesome tragic, at times a bit annoying but playing perfectly the role of the one in love who just can’t get out of this all…

All in all, the movie was good, very thoughful and dramatic. The pictures were wonderful and inspiring. The end is a little disappointing and some parts just could have been improved in my view. Still, I would give Mr Plummer for his very heart-warming Parnassus a 6 of 10 points. With a recommendation for all friends of tragic fantasy (in this case you would probably give 8/10).

I hit AC 16 and do 11 damage…

…or – howto improve your combat experience

It’s probably 15 years ago, when we played a lot of games after school and on weekends. Back then we were pretty inexperienced and it was a different – drive. When I was younger, I think most of us were powermongers in one or more ways. Mostly it was great to beat the evil guys (sometimes it wasn’t necessary to have them being evil at all) and the more damage you made, the better it was.549019_66351987

Things are constantly changing and – hopefully – improving. It’s basically still about having options and achieving something together, but the game-mechanics are getting more and more in the background, as long as the general feeling of a working game-mechanic is present. It’s about telling the story with the utmost possible imagination level. As a dungeon master you’ve to prepare a lot and be prepared for most possiblities. Combat is, in most gaming rounds, an essential part, it’s some kind of highlight in the game. Now this is about improving the overall gaming experience for you with a few ideas that we’re working on or have been working on for a decade now. Continue reading

The Pinnacle

Playing dungeon master in roleplaying games on a regular base is something that will take you from the lowest depths of the Abyss, Baator, Hell, Hades and the Grey Wastes of Gehenna right to the top of Mount Celestia, the Heavens, Arcadia and all the other planes you can, or can not (yet) think of. What is the point of this?

MadnessWell, I think you should see it as a mirror to a gamers soul. To his inner beliefs and this leads sometimes to extended reflection on his beliefs, fears, needs and wishes. To my very self, this is a positive thing, a fortunate activity and especially fortunate since you don’t face everything at once and nothing of it (during the game) directly. It’s a workaround with a lot of interaction, to experience, toying around with fundaments of your – self.

The most pictographic approach usually can be found within the hells, no matter what name they might carry. What comes to your mind when you think about devils? What comes to your mind when you think about demons? I’ll tell you what my imagination tells me about it.

Continue reading

Recent developments

It’s been a while since the last update of this blog. I guess it was more like a vacation from writing and focussing on other things. When blogging became more of a necessity than actual fun, I thought it was a good time to make a full-stop.

With my sundaily gaming group things are going quite well. Quite well? Yes, it’s still improvable especially when it comes to focussing on goals. As a matter of fact this blog entry is for reflection but I hope there are some gamemasters out there who can use this for their personal benefit.Beshaba

Yesterday’s gaming afternoon started with the usual player’s recap, in my point of view one precious developement to have everyone at the table remember what happened last and since this is done together by all players it really helps to get the feel back where we last stopped. Where did we stop? Well, over time our little gaming group has grown into quite experienced characters in the world. Every character that participated for more than a few evenings has some kind of reputation or title, it isn’t always the best reputation but “there is no bad  publicity”, is there?

Our gaming group currently consists of 6 players: Continue reading