Bardcore – East Lancs Tales

I’ve always had my reserves in regards to pen and paper roleplaying because of something that happened to me in the winter of 2009. I was working in the dismal council tax office of my local government at the time, surrounded by people that spent money voting on Big Brother and counting down the days to an all-inclusive binge in Shagaluf, or so I thought…

It was lunch break, and I was deep into a Gotrek & Felix novel, in a carefully selected location so that I would not cross paths with any of my “Ant & Dec are funny as fuck” toting colleagues. Peaceful as it were, I felt a lingering presence gazing upon me, and I dared not turn around in case it was a manager looking for some poor soul to stay late. Eventually, I turned to face my spectator, with “Sorry I’ve got an appointment tonight” ready to roll from my tongue. I was relieved to see that it wasn’t one of the 40-a-day crones from middle-management standing before me, instead, I found a random guy with a look of disbelief painted across his face.

“Is that a Gotrek novel!?” He gasped excitedly

“Yeah mate, Zombieslayer” – I mumbled cautiously

He took it upon himself to sit beside me and began to waffle on about Warhammer, clearly passionate about the craft. I dropped my guard and freely discussed the fantasy setting with the lad, but I couldn’t help but feel like he was sizing me up. He would casually drop questions that were probing my knowledge about the lore, I thought nothing of it and talked away. I was always reluctant to talk to strangers but once I got rolling with Warhammer, I could chat for hours. After a good 20 minutes of chat, the lunch half-hour was almost up and I started to gather my things. That’s when he asked me..

“Would you be interested in a Warhammer Roleplaying game? My group play once a week at my house” – He spat nervously, wincing in preparation for rejection

“Sounds sick, what day?” I said

His face was a mixture of incredulity and pride for he had successfully recruited a new adventurer for his campaign. We quickly exchanged contact details and headed back to our dreary desks that were permanently littered with discarded benefit applications.

A few days later I received a text from the Lunch-break guy saying he could give me a lift to and from his house after work, accompanied by a short summary of what’s happened so far in their campaign. Something about a temple in the Chaos Wastes, I was up for that! At this point, excitement overtook wariness as I was eager to set foot in the world of Warhammer and explore like I had many times in my imagination.

The day of roleplaying was finally upon me, and like every questing adventurer worth their salt I had packed 2 orange Lucozades, family sized chili heatwave Doritos and a banana to stay the mawing jaws of exhaustion. The drive was as awkward as you’d expect with a little bit of “Nice round here” from me and a little “Yeah it’s pretty quiet” from him. Fortunately, the drive was short and we soon arrived at his house.

“The other guys are already inside setting up” said Lunch-break

We made our way up the drive and I strained to catch a glimpse through a gap in the curtain. What I saw shocked me to my very core, I fought an internal battle with my leg muscles as they wanted to sprint in the opposite direction of this accursed place! Nah, I’m only joking, I just saw 4 lads scribbling on bedraggled character sheets.

As we entered the room all but one of the guys turned to face me as Lunch-break introduced his companions to me one by one. Firstly, there was (all names in this story are fictional) Lad-with-nails, who played a Female High Elf Sorceress very seriously. Also, he had worryingly long fingernails. Next up we had Groggy Joggers, named after the pox-ridden, sports direct issued jogging pants, that were bound to his legs with what looked like years of sitting on his ass doing fuck all. Thirdly came The Normie, to the untrained eye this man looked no different to your average “Lads, Lads, Lads” lad but I spotted one sure giveaway of his true nature. Carefully placed underneath his Topman t-shirt that was emblazoned with “Born Sinner” was a necklace bearing the symbol of Chaos. (People who wear gaming jewelry: Have a word)

I quickly sat down, as to not hold up the session any more than necessary, the DM at the head of the table still hadn’t said a word to me at this point and was barely visible behind his piles of dusty tomes. The dungeon master slipped a side of a4 to The Normie, who then passed it to Groggy Joggers whose clam-ridden claw extended out towards me.

“Okay so I’ve written you into the campaign as a prisoner that these guys come across in this dungeon” the DM finally spoke, and his squeaky, nasally voice instantly relieved the tension that had been building due to his silence

The game had started, and the other players were discussing what to do about me, a stout Dwarf Slayer they had just stumbled across in a dingy cell. Groggy Joggers and The Normie were weighing up their options while I just sat back and tried to get a feel for the setting. I was preparing some kind of “If you release me I’ll show you the way out” spiel when Lunchbreak guy started blasting out some Gimli-esque banter at a ridiculous volume in an ACCENT. His attempt at a dwarf sounded as if Peter Kay was doing a Scottish Accent but reverted to regular every other word because he couldn’t think how to pronounce it quick enough. I immediately hissed with laughter at the ridiculousness of it, and before I could control myself the heads of my fellow roleplayers turned sharply to face me. Five sets of sunken eyes glowering at me with a predatory stare akin to how the current U.S president looks at his daughter….

To be continued..

Element Games - Wargaming Webstore

Salvations Malevolence- Dead Of Night

I had wanted to include something Fighting Fantasy related for our Seven Nights Of Samhain series but I simply couldn’t get it finished on time. Those books were so influential to me and frankly now that I’m running the show over here, I wanted to shine a spotlight on them. Admittedly there’s already loads of great blogs and fanzines dedicated to Fighting Fantasy and providing great coverage but I had plenty of questions of my own. I wanted to explore the inspiration behind the settings, the names behind the ideas and art, the spin offs and the future.

So where’s the best place to start? The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is the ground zero but it’s also been covered to death by just about anyone with an interest in the series. Play throughs have been similarly rinsed. So I decided to start where I left off in 1990 and investigate where Fighting Fantasy went after I disappeared into an abyss of teenage angst, alcoholism and punk rock. 

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Mortal Kombat & Mortal Kombat: Annihilation – The Old Switcheroo

After the abominable trip down memory lane led by the Street Fighter review, and a lot of time spent recently cranking up old consoles and listening to the Streets of Rage soundtrack whilst running on a treadmill (as well as the Kid Chameleon soundtrack, which was hard to find and is shit, but also now haunts my dreams), I thought it might be time to tackle another Blockbuster special based on a video game.

Mortal Kombat, if you know me, seems like a very obvious choice, so in the interest of repressed memories and enjoying something I couldn’t recite back to you as a one woman show, I thought I’d have a look at some other options. You can guess how that worked out for us all, since you are sitting here reading a Mortal Kombat review…

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Dehumidifier set to stun. Broken Toad pigments.

Step in to my world.

So you’ve been lapping up the last months worth of well written horror content, exploring the dark recesses of Corehammers collective minds? Well, its time to dry up the fun and let lose with a modelling post, with the driest of the dry, pigments.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Continue reading

No Retreat, No Surrender Part 2

Ok so the other week I filled you in on the back story to my first exposure of martial arts masterpiece No Retreat No Surrender. If you’ve just tipped up, get yourself informed here, then you can come back and get into the meat of it.

So after Jason gets beat up at Kelly’s birthday party he runs home and beats hell out of the stuff in his garage dojo. His dad can no longer teach Karate because JCVD snapped his leg so now he pulls pints down at some grotty local watering hole. I mean, it’s all starting to sound like one of them sad Bruce Springsteen songs isn’t it? Continue reading

Wrapping the chain round your throat – Payday demo

Look, I’m no ones cheerleader right? In days of yore I relished tearing a strip off anything and everything that wandered into my baleful gaze whether I liked it or not. Because it’s kinda fun to be a dick and I didn’t get into hardcore to be your fucking mate.

These days I like to think that I give everything a fair crack of the whip and if I don’t like it, well for the most part I keep my mouth shut. Unless it really sucks and I can piss on some softies chips. But if it’s good? Like proper good? Well then I consider it my personal mission to bellow from the rooftops and convince everyone else they should be into it too. Which brings us to Payday. Continue reading

Trapped Under Dice: CH Xmas Mosh

“Human sacrifice, dwarves and elves living together, mass hysteria”

Once more the hour had come upon us for that finest of recent traditions,the Corehammer Christmas social. Typically plans were made, promises of attendance sworn in blood and games organised. In previous years we have held court at Warhammer World, Foundry and the Element Gaming Centre in Stockport. But I like to mix it up and visit new places so this year we gathered at Mantic HQ. Tucked away on the edge of a residential estate in Bullwell, Nottingham, it took Ager and I a few goes to try and find the place.  After successfully navigating a gaggle of nightmarish traffic calming bollard children, we arrived. We were greeted by our host for the day Mantic’s very own perennially enthusiastic Scotsman, Andy Meechan, and ushered inside.

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Where the Wild Things Are….A helping hand in making an RPG work

A couple of years ago I agreed to run an RPG for some members of the Corehammer crew. Most were first time role-players with a couple of more experienced heads in the mix. After careful thought and consideration I decided to go with what I knew best, Shadowrun 2nd Edition. For those who don’t know, Shadowrun is set in the near future dystopia of 2075. A calamitous shift in the world which has seen people evolve/devolve into mythical races, magic to resurface and dragons to take to the skies and the board rooms of mega corporations! Think Bladerunner meets Lord of the Rings!

After a quick snoop around I found a great simple starting adventure that was released as part of the 4th Edition quick play rules (available for free HERE) With some tweaking it was easily adjusted to 2nd Edition rules…… Continue reading

Bad Boys: And some Skittles

Join me, if you will, in 1995. I’m 11. Our household is quite heavily into basketball, Fresh Prince (even though we don’t understand half the sexy jokes), and beating each other up. Still.

So what do you think happened when we found out that Will Smith and Martin Lawrence were gonna be in an action movie, with guns, bad guys, guns, swearing, fast cars, and guns? You guessed it. Meet me on the corner by the video shop, guys. Friday, 6pm, bring your Skeleton warriors glow in the dark pyjamas (so we can match, natch) and your special fried rice.

In a bizarre ritual of which I never understood the licensing loopholes, before you were able to purchase the videos for real, wrapped in cellophane, with a bunch of leaflets inside beckoning you to purchase a crappy tshirt (“IF YOU SEE THE POLICE – WARNER BROTHER!”) or some orthopaedic shoes, you were able to procur the VHS tapes as ex-rentals. Not much difference in quality, I’m not sure how many other people who lived in Abington, Northampton were renting the Ewoks cartoon, but they came in a different box. The massive, weird, heavy, and, as we discovered exercising some of our bottomless sibling-based rage, quite dangerous rental box. The questions surrounding this were endless. Where are the real boxes? Whose job is it to swap the covers out? What are they made of that doesn’t break when you throw them off the roof at your brother? None of this was ever answered, but it didn’t matter. I loved Bad Boys so much, that once again, to save herself money, my long suffering mother purchased this movie for us ex-rental, such was the cost of keeping us in bubblicious Friday nights. And once again, I watched it every Monday before school until the next big favourite came along/the tape was worn down to a macroscopically thin band, probably snapping in the machine.

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Stand on your own- No Retreat, No Surrender PART 1


NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kurt McKinney, 1986

Whilst somewhat overshadowed by actual wars in which real people died, make no mistake eighties popular culture was a bloody battlefield of bitter conflict. Coke vs Pepsi, NES vs Sega, Roxanne Shante vs The Real Roxanne. All gruelling wars of attrition in their own right but they all pale in significance next to the harsh reality of my own personal Hamburger Hill….Betamax vs VHS…..

See my family didn’t have a lot of disposable cash. And whilst there was always a modest meal on the table, luxuries like video recorders were pretty far down the list of things we could afford. If I wanted to watch a movie I had to wait for it to come onto terrestrial television or hope that an invite from the kid next door  to watch a tape round there might be forthcoming. One day I will tell you all the story of how I feigned illness whilst at a classmates birthday party and weaved an intricate deception just so I could be left alone in the house to use their video player to watch Empire Strikes Back. I was eight years old.

In 1988 my dad returned home from work with a pep in his step. For a man who dug holes in the road for forty years of his life this was an unusual sight. Normally he’d drag himself through the door at the end of the day, defeated. Eat his dinner in silence then slump in the armchair and fall asleep watching the news. But today was different. He entered our home with a look of triumph upon his brow. ‘Look what I’ve got’. Out of a black bin bag he produced a bulky video recorder. My eyes flickered with delight as my Dad’s craggy features split and he smiled down at me and together, father and son hastened to the front room to set up the video recorder and commence our journey into cinematic heaven.

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