I have a new email newsletter!
The more observant of you may have noticed that I also have an old email newsletter (sign-up boxes to the right and to the bottom of this post). This new one is utterly different.
It’s called Dan Sumption’s Mycoleum Mind, and each week I post a short idea. Sometimes a particular way of looking at the universe, other times a lifehack, or just some gentle advice. Very importantly, it will always be short. You ought to be able to read it in a minute or less. I explain why here.
I have posted three emails to the list so far, so take a look at the archive for a better idea of what I’ll be writing about. If you like it, please sign up. It’s free (the Substack website will probably try to push you into buying a paid subscription; ignore that).
The old Peakrill Press newsletter (sign up boxes on the right and on the bottom of this page!) will still remain, but I will use it for very infrequent posts about Peakrill projects. Dan Sumption’s Mycoleum Mind is a completely different kettle of mushrooms.
While I’m here, I’ve noticed a questionnaire doing the rounds which people are calling Questions Nobody Asked Me. Bizarrely, I first saw one just after deciding to title this post “Nobody Asked For This”. So below are some other things you didn’t ask me (Because I took a 30-year sabbatical from roleplaying, answering some of these was a bit tricky).
First store where you bought a an RPG?
It will have been either Games Unlimited in Kingston, or Games Workshop in Hammersmith. Both sadly gone long long long although, as I’m sure you’re aware, Games Workshop still exists in a highly bastardised form that has almost nothing to do with the Dalling Road Store road and Tim, the lovely Canadian guy who used to run it.
Favourite RPG game world?
The older I get, the harder it becomes to pick a “favourite” anything. If you’d asked me this 30 years ago, the answer would definitely have been the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying world: it was humorous and British, both things in short supply in RPG-land. Nowadays, I guess Bastionland
A published NPC who has made a lasting impression on you
I guess that means none of them have. Although the name “Wanda Weltschmerz” has been stuck in my head for several decades (she was a PC though, from the WFRP adventure Death on the Reik).
Actually, scratch that. The Giant, from DCO.
First RPG you bought from its creator
No idea, but it was probably this century.
RPG you’ve played the most
AD&D, almost certainly, but all of it last century. This century it must surely be BECMI D&D, purely because of noisms’ regular-as-clockwork(ish) Three Mile Tree games.
A favourite RPG character you’ve played
Circa 1985 I rolled a dwarf with 4 intelligence, and I had a hell of a lot of fun playing him (and pissing off the other players). Not long after that I entered a play-by-mail game, the name of which I’ve forgotten, with a character called Vizbamboom, a vegetarian chaos necromancer. Vegetarian because he though that eating meat is a waste of bloody good corpses! He collected dead cats, and drank a lot of tea. Playing Viz was fun!
Wait, wait, wait wait, no no no, how could I forget about Bleaklow? Bleaklow was the best! I hope I get to play him again some time.
The RPG you’ve spent the most money on but never played
Probably one of two comics spin-offs that I bought in the 1980s: either the Elfquest RPG or Teenage Mutant Ninja Heroes and Other Strangeness. I was about to add TSR’s Top Secret, but I think I actually played that one.
Favourite RPG for its art
I hate hate hate mainstream RPG art. Stuff I love… I can’t think of a particular game, but there is so much good art coming out of the indie gaming community at the moment, the best of which is so closely bound up with the feel of a location that it is as essential to is as the text: Scrap Princess’s work with Patrick Stuart, Munkao’s illustrations to Thousand Thousand Islands, Alec Sorenson’s illustrations for Electric Bastionland. Also, although it’s not entirely my cup of tea, visually everything about Mörk Borg is just perfect.
Favourite RPG for its writing
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I’m not sure I would stand by this now, but when it was first published in the mid-80s it was such a breath of fresh air (mainly because it had jokes in it). For the second half of the 80s, Warhammer was my game, and that is almost entirely down to the writing. Nowadays, anything written by Patrick Stuart gets my immediate attention.
Have you played a journaling game?
Yes, but only once or twice, I would love to do it more often. I had a lot of fun playing Solitary Defilement, the solo version of Mörk Borg. My favourite thing about the directed-writing required by journaling games is that they provide a context and prompts for creative writing. Sometimes I may take something written during a journaling game and repurpose it for a different context.
Have you played a hexcrawl?
Have you designed a dungeon?
A fair few of them. Very few of which I’ve had the chance to inflict on players.
Have you played a LARP?
I went to Labyrinthe down Chislehurst Caves a 3 or 4 times in the mid/late 80s. About a decade later I saw some folks running around with rubber swords in a wood on the Wirral and though “oh, folks do that outdoors now, do they?” I’ve been very slightly tempted a few times since, and last year promised a friend that I would come to one of his Empire LRP meetups. So I guess that’ll happen.
Favourite object one of you characters has owned
A swimming pool. (When our party finished the TSR A-series, we took over the slavers’ fort and flooded the dungeon layer so that we could have our own swimming pool.
Memorable relationship one of your characters has had
I’m sure I could come up with many, given time, but I think the most memorable was between Starmoss, the half-elven ranger I started playing on my 30-year return to D&D, and the rest of his party. There really was something special about that campaign, the players, and the player-characters, it generated incredible camaraderie.
Do you collect RPGs by a certain designer?
Not sure about “collect”, but I will buy anything written by Patrick Stuart (I really tried to resist the £50 reprint of his blog, but caved just as the Kickstarter was about to close).
RPG you really want to play in 2023
Most memorable monster/villain you’ve confronted
Most memorable villain was actually another PC, in the same campaign where I played Starmoss. Hellerin (I think that was her name) was the absolute essence of Lawful Evil, and her player roleplayed her to perfection – in fact, the best roleplaying I’ve ever encountered. Everyone in the party knew that she was evil, but she was just so bloody effective at getting things done that we couldn’t get rid of her.
Ever experienced bleed?
How did you get into RPGs?
New Year’s Day, 1980. A Woodcraft Folk hike. My friend Joel told me about this game, Dungeons and Dragons, which one of the older boys Jono played. I asked Jono about it, and the next three-hours or so of the walk passed in a blur as Jono, Joel and I talked about all of the things you can do in Dungeons and Dragons. I got Jono to run a game as soon as possible and, about a week later, I played for the first time. And my magic user was, in almost no time, killed by a manticore.
Now don’t forget to head over and subscribe to Dan Sumption’s Mycoleum Mind.