Open Table Beginnings

Yesterday was the beginning of a new experiment in roleplaying: we began the Wilderlands game that I started talking about around 10 days ago and which you can hear more about in today’s episode of the Roleplay Rescue podcast.

Using the Go-Kit materials I wrote about in yesterday’s post, my friends ShandyAndy and Lesley sat down at the “Jack In The Box” game store in Ripley, Derbyshire, for a session that ran from 7pm until 10pm.

Thanks to ShandyAndy for snapping this moment.

I decided to be as hands-off as I could with the Character Creation template index cards to see how the players handled them. They both had characters written down in the 30 minute window I was aiming for, with one finishing about 10 minutes earlier at the 20 minute mark. The slowest point was players making a choice of ‘Upgrade Module’ for their character because there were many appealing options. Reducing that choice to the magic maximum of seven through some discussion would optimise this.

While the equipment packages were useful for communicating what sorts of gear they might want, the price tags were a little rich for starting characters and so the players did delve into equipment buying piece-by-piece to maximise their copper coins. The downside was about 15 minutes of discussion between the players (with a few questions to me) on what they needed to buy. I’m going to revise those packages down to smaller purchasing options for future use.

Once ready, however, the players were ready to delve the starting dungeon and we got into some play. Overall, the session felt free-flowing and very relaxed. I have not laughed quite so much in many, many months and it was – frankly – a joy to be back face-to-face at the table. This was the least-pressured I have felt as a GM in… well, it feels like forever. Thanks to the players for helping make it a delight!

The view from behind the screen…

The venue was perfect for us: “Jack In The Box” is a small shop with lots of tables for gamers, but a natty booth-like alcove with a proper gaming table and space for about six people was quiet enough and nicely away from others. At £3 per person for the evening, it’s a bargain and we intend to keep playing there for as long as they’ll have us.


Because we had only decided to play on Wednesday evening and hadn’t settled on a game world or system before about 5pm on Thursday, I was forced to operate much more loosely than I usually prefer. This was a good thing.

Entering the Wilderlands of High Adventure was more of a nominal reality last night but I have placed the player characters in the small town of Pell’s Landing. Taka Dal, Andy’s Bard, had heard rumours of a giant toad off in the Widsith Woodlands while Mouse, Lesley’s Thief, had heard word of an Elven settlement off to the north that was renowned for fine craftsmanship. Yes, you guessed it: a couple of randomly determined rumours.

The mission, however, was closer to home in Pell’s Landing. Being the only members of the newly-founded Delver’s Guild, with Taka Dal as Chairperson and Mouse as the Treasurer, the local Priest of the Lawgiver had requested their aid in a little job over at the Temple.

The party discovered that a young acolyte, Brother Shamar, had fallen through the floor of the crypt beneath the Temple and died upon the stone floor of a chamber beneath. The job was to recover the body of the deceased and provide Father Baris a map of the newly discovered chambers for the princely sum of 5 silver shillings.

And so down they went… Mouse first, shimmying down a rope, and Taka Dal stumbling down behind. What they discovered I will save for the players to share to interested parties. But, for my part, this was a delight to play – invoking good gaming vibes I haven’t really experienced since the 1980’s – and I am keen to return in a fortnight.

Big thanks to the intrepid players, ShandyAndy and Lesley, and I hope we can get together again soon.

Game on!


  1. Hello, always great to see streamlined onboarding methods for GUPS – probably the system that benefits the most from a more GM-structured approach at the start. For the equipment prices, you *could* include some relevant pieces of gear (with cost) as part of the character “upgrade modules” or templates. Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

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