Monday, 29 September 2014

Big Game Hunting: D&D Encounters - On Creating Characters

As previously announced, D&D Encounters will be starting this week! D&D Encounters is a casual D&D weekly event, running every Wednesday at Proud Lion from 6:30pm, that allows players to drop in and drop out freely. Participation is on a first-come, first-served basis, and the event allows for a maximum of 7 players. If we find ourselves continuously oversubscribed, we will look to add a second game.

In our original announcement, we said we would only be allowing pre-generated characters provided by Wizards of the Coast. However, since receiving the materials for the first adventure, we have discovered that custom characters are allowed - with some limitations. If you wish to create your own character, you may, so long as these rules are followed.

Any characters that players wish to create themselves must be new characters at level 1. Rolling for ability scores is not allowed, and all characters must use the standard set of ability scores (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) or the customising ability scores variant (as described in the Player's Handbook).

The most notable rule that players will need to be aware of is that of character alignment. For the D&D Encounters adventures, characters are not allowed to have a Neutral Evil or Chaotic Evil alignment. Lawful Evil alignment is only permitted if the character is a member of the Lords' Alliance or Zhentarim factions. (All characters have the option of joining one of five factions. It is not required, but does have benefits that may help the characters in their adventures!)

If you wish to read the character creation event-specific rules in full, please email us at and we will provide them for you. A hard copy of the rules will be available to read on the day. Pre-generated characters will still be available! See you all Wednesday.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Big Game Hunting: Dungeons & Dragons Encounters

by Rae

From October, Wednesday nights at Proud Lion are about to get a bit more adventurous! Starting 1st October, the shop will be open until 8pm every Wednesday, allowing us to invite players to join in for Dungeons & Dragons Encounters!

D&D Encounters is an ongoing event designed for casual play, allowing you to drop in and play whenever you like. Using pre-generated characters, players are able to take part in individual episodes that make up a larger adventure. While traditional D&D focuses on levelling up individual characters, in these adventures you will be building up a faction. The benefit of this is that, even if you miss a few weeks, you won't find yourself falling behind other players.

Each episode will run from 6:30pm to 8pm. As said above, we will be using pre-made characters, so please leave your custom characters at home for these events. Participation will be first-come, first-served. There are no sign up sheets, just turn up before the start time. More details can be found here on the Wizards Of The Coast store locator.

The adventure we will be featuring for the encounters will be Tyranny of Dragons! You and your companions will struggle against the Cult of the Dragon in their attempt to free the multi-headed dragon Tiamat from the Nine Hells!

See you in October!

Rae's obsession with dragons seems to be growing over time.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

New Beginnings - Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1

by Matt Puddy

Back in the days of VHS videos and slightly less than strictly adhered to film certificate laws, I came across a film that changed my appreciation of science fiction forever – Aliens. I quickly followed it up by finding and watching the original and then over the coming (I’m sad to say this) decades I have followed the Alien and Predator franchises in almost all forms of media including the games.

So now this week we have Prometheus: Fire and Stone. Following on from the renowned head-scratcher of a film (for both its setup and amazement at why one person couldn’t run sideways in the face of a crashing spaceship), the comic takes up almost where it left off and stays in canon.

Paul Tobin’s story opens prior to the Prometheus film, with a probe scouring an apparently dead planet only to see it smashed under foot of one of the Engineers. Skipping forward 129 years to a point not long after Aliens, scientific curiosity has once again got the better of mankind. Following up on the probe’s findings - and also the reports of a crashed and more importantly salvageable craft - a team are led to LV-233 with everything being chronicled by filmmaker Clara Atkinson.

After a brief introduction to all of the crew, and some of their peculiarities, the party heads down to the surface. Things are not right almost from the very beginning. What was considered a barren desert planet has a thriving jungle ecosystem, contrary to what should be there. Strange creatures and insects aside they continue their foraging in search of the ship. Stranger sights are still afoot, but eventually they find their prize - a completely intact ship, apparently from the ill-fated LV-426 (Hadley’s Hope). But they have no idea what is waiting inside for them. As the reader though, you can see exactly what lies behind door number one. A dormant but deadly batch of xenomorphs.

The story has a very familiar feel to it, and is written in a similar style to Alien and Aliens. There are a few scenes which could have been transplanted from either film; for example the meet and greet, which has overtones of both the dinner scene from Alien and the military briefing in Aliens.

From a scripting point of view the story is easy to read and flows throughout through the narrative lens of the filmmaker. What I did notice though is that this is almost an optical illusion, seeing as it doesn’t actually cover that much, although what it does it does well.

Artistically, Juan Ferreyra’s work is quite good. There is a gritty differential to the camera feed and equally a huge diverse appearance in the jungle. He also has a clear skill for new phylum in the xenobiology depictions. I liked his work overall but did feel that occasionally there could have been some more definition and detail as some of the frames were a little soft for my liking.

Overall this is exactly what I would have expected from a Dark Horse title continuing their good run with the Aliens and Predator franchises. I will caveat that by repeating I am a big fan of the films, books, comics and games (yes, even Colonial Marines) and so this was an easy choice for me.

For any other fans this is also a sure win, with three linked miniseries ready to bloom across all of the other brands.

Matt Puddy is looking forward to the new BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Good Omens.

Big Game Hunting Live - Shadowrun: Crossfire and Cash 'N Guns

by Rae

It's time for Big Game Hunting Live! This is a monthly gaming event that takes place on the second Saturday of every month. Players will get a chance to learn and play featured games all day long. This month we're featuring two completely different games - the co-operative deck-building cyberpunk game, Shadowrun: Crossifre and the competitive party game, Cash N Guns.

Shadowrun: Crossfire is a deck-building game in one of the most popular game settings of all time. Crossing cyberpunk with fantasy and plunging players into a world dominated by ruthless megacorporations, Crossfire gives players the chance to dive into the world’s shadows to see if they can survive. They’ll have weapons, spells, contacts, and gear to help them out, and they’re going to need those resources. If they play their cards right, though, they’ll do more than survive—they’ll become legends.

In Cash ‘n Guns, players will point foam pistols at each other and try to intimidate their opponents into letting them have the largest share of the loot from the big heist. Bullets speak louder than words and the bravest crooks enjoy the most money – but only if they live long enough to spend it!

During the day, there will be two main gaming sessions, from 10:30am until 1:30pm, and 2:00pm until 5pm. Both games will be available to try, though it's worth noting that Cash N Guns requires at least 4 players. Whether you're a seasoned player or need to brush up on the rules, drop in and have a game with us! If you've never played before and would like to give it a try, feel free to pop in, and we'll show you the ropes.

See you Saturday 13th September!

All participants will receive a voucher that entitles them to 10% off either of the games featured on the day. If an item is not in stock, we may be able to order it for you on request.

Rae can't wait for the weekend!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

BGHL Games Night: Calling All Game Designers!

by Rae

As board game enthusiasts, it has come to our attention that we have a fair few designers in the area! 

We've spoken to several people who have games they've created, but are in need of testers to play through them. On Saturday 13th September, we want to bring together game designers and potential beta testers. Creators are invited to bring their designs for open play at our Big Game Hunting Live Games Night, hosted at the Cheltenham Boston Tea Party.

To make this event possible, we do ask a few things of designers. If you have a game beta you would like to bring, please send a direct email to and provide us with the working title of your game and a brief description of the gameplay. Initial prototypes are perfectly acceptable, but the game must be fully playable! Please make sure you have tested your game yourself before the night.

We also have one thing to ask of test players. Any player testing a beta game will be asked to sign a simple non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This will be in place purely to prevent details of the game designs from becoming publicised and to protect the designers' creations. Please note this only applies to people involved in testing, and there is no obligation to be involved!

Feel free to email us directly at if you have any questions.

Rae is looking forward to seeing the games created by local minds!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

New Beginnings - The Names #1

by Matt Puddy

So when I picked up this new issue of Vertigo’s new title of The Names I thought “What’s going on here then?” On first inspection I saw a woman in a slinky dress with a knife. On second look I see the silhouette of a falling man and numbers... lots of number and even some equations. Even the cover of this comic is subtly saying that there’s more to this than at a casual first glance.

You know something is wrong the moment you start reading Peter Milligan’s tale, as you are introduced to a character who could be incredibly influential to the story, but is being coerced into a suicide note and then throws himself out the window. An unwilling scapegoat, perhaps, of the man known as the Surgeon.

Faced with the apparent suicide of her husband Kevin, combined with the new “revelation” that maybe her husband suffered with depression, Katya Walker starts to unravel a little. Her husband potentially wasn’t what she thought and she has a selectively mute stepson that she doesn’t know how to communicate with. Eventually all the frustration starts to seep out. It’s only the arrival of a strange phone - complete with a cautionary if not also cryptic message - that awakens a new side of Katya.

All the while the wheels are turning in the background.  A shadowy cabal, that the Surgeon is part of, plays with the world's finances on their individual whims. However, even this isn't going quite according to plan as they are even plagued by The Loops – a sentient program that is causing even them problems.

Behind another door, Philip (Katya’s stepson) is showing there is more to himself as well. Aside from bordering on mathematical genius, he also has a very soft spot for Katya. Hidden away in books are pictures of her and he feels an amount of remorse towards his father, as if he has done something or feels something he shouldn’t. You can’t help but wonder what his involvement is, or will be, with the bigger picture.

Desperate to get to the bottom of this mystery, Katya starts to use the information from the phone - even if it didn’t make sense - to entrap and drag information out of Marco, a man that is linked to it all. Will it open everything up, or will he just have a snippet of information that points her in the right direction? She’s not going to rest until her husband is avenged. Wall Street meets Kill Bill.

I like Peter Milligan’s writing, I’ve enjoyed his Five Ronin series, as well as when he started off the Red Lantern titles, so it’s no surprise I enjoyed this as well. One criticism though is that sometimes the direction changes in the story felt a little abrupt. The narrative jumps were jarring, with little or no connection to the previous section; there is little natural flow to the story. You still get wrapped up in each new section though, but it can throw you a little.

Leandro Fernandez has put a lot into this and through the letter at the back you got a brief glimpse at the consultative approach that creating this comic has taken. His style is fairly minimal, only using details when needed to highlight specific things when needed for the story. He’s also managed to create some interesting forms and archetypes. Katya is a strong female protagonist, but without being overly muscular or becoming super heroic parody of a human. The Surgeon on the other hand is gangly and creepy, the stuff corporate nightmares are made of. Even Philip gives off a very sombre feel that fits his implied character as well. Although it’s a little subdued for my normal tastes as well, it still looks really good and as I said the characters have a real feel about them.

It makes a nice change to have a story that isn’t revolving around superpowers or the supernatural. OK, so a secret syndicate of incredibly powerful and ridiculously immoral men running the world from the shadows isn’t anything new as conspiracies go, but it certainly adds a different dimension to the story when an apparently normal person has to break that, whilst also including the cyberterrorism angle as well.

Put all together it’s not bad at all. As you might expect form a Vertigo title, it is an adult (or at least teen) comic with realistic violence and partial nudity.  Plenty of things to come I reckon, including what the hell Kevin meant about Champion!?

Matt Puddy is packing up and heading to LV-223...

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

New Beginnings - Wayward #1

by Matt Puddy

Breaking away from the superhero mould that DC and Marvel so happily fit into is nothing new for Image and their newest publication is no exception. Wayward is written by Jim Zub (Samurai Jack, Archer & Armstrong and Suicide Squad), we are transported to the Far East onto the islands of Japan for the story to take place.

Our heroine Rory Lane is making her way to Japan to meet and live with her mother. It is a massive change for her; one that is welcomed, albeit a touch scary as well. On arrival she has to try to find her own way to her mothers’ house which, in Japan, is quite a feat in itself. However even now Rori feels there is something strange going on, when a path mysteriously opens up to her in the form of a glowing red line. Putting it down to simple jet lag she pushes it aside and goes about her way.

It’s with her next foray into the city that strange occurrences continue to happen around her. The plethora of cats following her is just the start, and when she has the misfortune of walking into a small street gang of thugs, the arrival of a stranger called Ayane only adds to the weirdness.

Of course Rori is grateful for the help, but when her would-be assailants' skins are ripped off to reveal that they are sword wielding turtle-like creatures – known in Japanese mythology as Kappa – things get crazier. Ayane - complete with yellow eyes and pointy teeth - seems to be enjoying the whole experience, all while Rori starts seeing the red lines again as a route of escape. Athletically leaping from point to point (after handing out a good few blows to the Kappa) the girls run from the scene.

All it takes is some strawberry milk to thank for Ayane saving the day – something which she handles with a very casual ease. But then, just as immediately as Ayane appeared she simply disappears into the night, once again leaving Rori a stranger in a strange land.

There is some really nice writing in this comic which makes it a really easy read. Once I got over the first page Americanisation (or spelling mistake?) of decent instead of descent, you quickly get used to the idea that over 90% of this issue is “written and translated” from Japanese for ease of reading.

Interestingly enough it is all interwoven with a small amount of Japanese fables and myths as well. To support this (and this is something I really liked) there’s a small edutainment section at the back as well, where readers are introduced to the full story behind the myths and legend of the culture from the land of the rising sun.

Artistically I know that Ben wasn’t impressed by Cover C (Jeffrey Chamba Cruz) for this issue - one of 11 variants in total - but I have to disagree a little. It’s bright, colourful and introduces three main areas of the comic without giving anything really away and keeping an air of mystery at the same time. (I definitely felt the other main covers were stronger I'm afraid, particularly Alina Urusov's cover B. BF)

Internally Steve Cummings artwork and John Rauch’s colouring (assisted again by Jim Zub) work really well. The line work is clean and smooth, as well as the shading and colouring. Equally there is a general American feel to the overall comic, but even in the drawing there are elements and a certain feel to it which are Japanese – Ayane in particular.

Overall this was a really interesting comic and one heartily recommended by many for fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. A girl taken out of her world and pushed into a new one, a strange new instinct or is it power? And a myriad of mythical creatures to tackle in the process. What can possibly go wrong?

Matt Puddy is ready to start taking names...

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Big Game Hunting - Games on the Horizon, part three

by Rae

Here's a preview of even more new games coming soon to Proud Lion! All games can be pre-ordered at a 10% discount from Proud Lion.

Shadowrun: Crossfire – RRP £40.00 (pre-order price £36.00)
Shadowrun: Crossfire Expansion Pack - RRP £13.00 (pre-order price £11.70)
Set in the fantasy, cyberpunk world of Shadowrun, this cooperative deck-building game has players taking on various jobs and fighting together to overcome tough obstacles in their way. With multiple roles to play and a handful of different scenarios to try, Shadowrun: Crossfire provides challenging gameplay in a setting where teamwork is vital to your survival.

Loot Letter – RRP £10.00 (pre-order price £9.00)
Ever wondered what would happen if you mixed the beautifully simple game Love Letter with a parody RPG adventure game like Munchkin? Me neither, but here it is! Rather than trying to gain the romantic favour of the princess, Loot Letter has players trying to get their hands on the greatest treasure before their opponents! Loot Letter is available as both a boxed edition and an unboxed edition, which includes a velvet bag for storing the game.

Munchkin Panic (RRP: TBC)
It's another Munchkin hybrid game – this time, it's being combined with the excellent semi-cooperative game, Castle Panic! In Munchkin Panic, you must work together to defend the castle from the onslaught of monsters. However, each monster carries a certain amount of loot, and only one can end the game as the Master Munchkin!

Warhammer 40,000: Conquest – RRP £34.00 (pre-order price £30.60)
Prepare your army, capture the planets, and claim their assets to strengthen your resources. In this living card game, players build their decks to create a powerful warlord who is able to dominate the planet sector – or is simply strong enough to destroy their only competition.

We'll be hosting a launch event for this game, in conjunction with Pork Chop Gaming. Full details TBC.

The X Files – RRP £50.00 (pre-order price £45.00)
Fans of the classic TV show will be pleased to see this release! Play as Mulder, Scully, and the rest of the X Files team to investigate paranormal mysteries. But be wary of the player in control of the Cigarette Smoking Man, who will be actively trying to manipulate the situations and steer the agents in the wrong direction!

XCOM: The Board Game (RRP: TBC)
Humanity is on the brink of destruction: an alien invasion has just begun, and time is running out. It is your team's mission to take down UFOs, discover the aliens' plans, and end the invasion – all without allowing the governments that fund your entire operation to collapse. This new board game comes with a companion app, which can be downloaded to a device or accessed online, which is integrated directly into the gameplay to make it a truly immersive experience.

Rae has had an idea for a new board game: you play as parents desperately trying to survive the school holidays...

Monday, 1 September 2014

Cheltenham Drink and Draw - September 2014

by Rae

Tomorrow night – Tuesday 2nd September – will be the next monthly Cheltenham Drink and Draw! This is held the first Tuesday of every month, and we invite all artists and otherwise to come down to Boston Tea Party and draw whatever they fancy.

Of course, for those so inclined, we also have a theme. In celebration of the Meet Rex exhibit at The Wilson, September's theme is dinosaurs! We look forward to seeing what you all will make of that!

As a side note, in previous months we have been collecting people's artwork with the intention of putting it online in a small competition. We have decided that we will no longer be doing so. There is concern that turning this event into a competition is putting some people off, and we don't want anyone to feel excluded. Drink and Draw is about encouraging people to draw and socialise with others who want to do the same, and we want to make sure that is the feeling we are promoting!

If you have submitted your artwork to us previously and would like it returned, please come and collect it from Proud Lion or tomorrow night's event. Any artwork not collected before October's Drink and Draw will need to be recycled!

Rae has not drawn dinosaurs in a very long time.