Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Chilling Effect

Yes, I do miniatures in RPGs; live with the infamy.

About a month ago, one of our regular readers - the esteemed Desert Scribe -had a post on his blog that I thought was very interesting and timely:

He, in turn, had linked to an equally interesting post on the blog of the Chicago Skirmish Wargames club:

To summarize the post, one of the club members talked about the club's rules that figures in play must be painted. This is by no means a new thing in the hobby; back in the days of The Little Tin Soldier Shoppe, here in the Twin Cities, the rule was that one had to slap three or more colors of paint - not including any primer - on a figure before it could be used in one of the shop's campaign games. This 'three-color standard' survives to this day, in the "Armies of Tekumel" series' painting information at the back of each army list.

Now, I will confess to being a 'miniatures guy' from waaaay back - it is pretty obvious, from this blog! Speaking as a modeler and gamer, I had no issues with the club's position over unpainted figures; I believe that one participates in a club's activities because the club provides - or should provide - an experience that one can't get 'at home'. A game club presents the opportunity to play with new people and with old friends, perhaps on a larger table and with more detailed terrain and scenery that one might be able to do in one's home on one's own table.

What I found very chilling were the comments made by various people on the post. There seemed to be a lot of anger and unhappiness about the issue of unpainted figures, and some over the use of miniatures in general. These comments parallel quite a few of the posts and comments that I've seen over the past couple of years on various RPG forums, where 'miniatures' (like 'story gaming', whatever that is) is a dirty word.

From what I can gather, there are a lot of people who equate 'miniatures' with D&D 4.0, or with fussy pedants who are incapable of having any of what the posters define as fun. I've run into much the same issues when I was on these same forums, and it's why I am no longer on those forums; I got tired of being hassled for doing something that a lot of people seem to think is DOING IT RONG! Simlarly, this has led to some very basic misunderstandings about what it is that I do in my own personal style of gaming; some folks are quite nonplussed that I do not consider a dozen figures on a battlemat to be A Big Miniatures Game. For me, a Big Game is one that takes place on a large table - usually 60" x 90" or larger - and with a lot of players controlling several hundred figures.

Mind you, I do not have an issue with the 'smaller style' of miniatures gaming, especially in the context of RPG adventures; this is not a new concept, after all. We were doing this in our RPGs back in those forgotten days of yesteryear, back in those ancient days of the late 1970s and through the 1980s. From my perspective, what was so chilling about the comments was the notion that using miniatures in RPGs and gaming is a new concept, and one that detracts from the enjoyment and 'immersion' (whatever that latter term means) one can get from RPGs. The Great God Gygax is frequently quoted in support of this position - from what I gather, he's being used as one of the 'planks' of the OSR's party line on this subject. By the same token, The Divine Dave is just as equally misquoted on the subject, and people were horrified to hear about Gertie the Golden Dragon being a lump of Plasticine that His Divinity molded into a dragon shape. (The Great God Gary, by the way, didn't use his expensive Elastolins in RPGs - they got broken too easily.)

(I do wonder, on occasion, what The Holy Ones would have said if they'd gone to an OSR event. My guess is that they wouldn't have even been allowed in the door by the High Priests of the Sacred Church Of The OSR - too much anarchy, 'hand-waving', 'loosey-goosey' GMing, that kind of sinning...)

I run everything from a couple of player-characters walking down a street and talking to a merchant to massed armies fighting it out over the countryside; for me, it's not about 'genre' gaming, it's about a spectrum of action and adventure. I use 'props' to tell my stories; miniatures, objects, books, scenery, movies, suits of armor, weapons, terrain, and all sorts of stuff like that.

I've moved off the forums and largely away from the Internet because of the grief I've gotten from people because of this. No problem; I can happily tolerate your style of gaming, and I'm sorry that you can't seem to tolerate mine. I simply won't be participating in your forum; you are, however, certainly welcome to drop by this little blog and have a look. I hope you'll enjoy your visit, and a little trip back in time to those younger and more innocent days of gaming...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An Update From The Missus! "Rejoice! Just Rejoice!" - M. Thatcher, 1982

She's a fighter...

And now, an update from The Missus- she got the pathology report back from last week's biopsy:


I got the pathology report on the Lymph Node biopsy - and it was clear. 
No evidence of cancer!  Whew!

Now I've just got to talk to an Oncologist and the Radiation Therapy person.

I'll see the surgeon next week to check on the biopsy site, but I don't
foresee any problems.

More later!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, September 14th, 2014 - Lots and Lots and Lots of News!!!

The Saturday Matinee;
The Game Room and Game Lounge in full cry.

The newest addition to the Missuma River Yacht Club;
Just built, prior to staining the hull.

'Temperate' tile on the left; 'Arid' tile on the right.
I think I need to put more green on the 'Temperate' tiles.
Today's update is going to be short, concise, and brief; I worked the football game this morning, from five to one this afternoon, and I'll be working again tonight from ten to six tomorrow. I am, as you might expect, heading off for my Sunday afternoon nap in short order. In the meantime, here's a whole lot of news for you to ponder:


Once again, thank you all for your kind words for The Missus; she really appreciates your concern and good wishes. I will be back with replies to all of you tomorrow, too!


Mike Burns, of Dark Fable Miniatures, will be having another Indiegogo campaign for a new series of Ancient Egyptian 'civilian' miniatures. We have supported the previous three campaigns, and the figures are simply wonderful! These are all of the 'court types' one sees in 'sword and sandal' epics, and are really useful for games set in Tekumel's palaces and clan-houses. For the full story, please visit:


We've heard that the industrious Jeff Dee has sent out the 'pre-approval' edition of his new RPG, "Bethorm", and we'd love to hear from anyone who has a copy. Jeff does good work, and I have confidence in him. Check out his web page at the Uni Games link in the left-hand column, please!


Yesterday's Saturday Matinee Double Feature - "Thief of Bagdad" - 1924, and "Thief of Bagdad" - 1940; these are the correct release dates, by the way - has had to be postponed until Saturday, September 27th, due to an injury to one of our regulars. He's doing well, I am told, but we thought we'd be polite and wait until he can climb stairs again...


The Missuma River Yacht Club has a new ship on the ways. This is one of the "Creatology" wooden kits that are sold as puzzles for six year olds, and it makes up into a very nice ship for games. A six year old will have no trouble building it; I took a little longer...

These kits / puzzles go for about five to six dollars retail, and you can't beat that for a boat that's a good foot long and four inches wide. I'll stain the hull with a nice dark walnut, and she'll soon be sailing about the seas of Tekumel...


So, I was packing the new 'Barsoom' terrain tiles away in their plastic storage tubes, when it occurred to me that I really should compare the old and well-used 'Temperate' and 'Arid' tiles to each other. I've never used the two sets side by side, and I used to use them about one each once per year. That's all changed with the new game table, and I thought I might want to have a look at them to see what I should do to refurbish them.

Ahem. have a look at the photo, above. I have a sneaking suspicion that I need to get out the green tempera paint and give the supposedly 'wetter' tiles a shot of greenery. Comments? Thoughts?


In the larger world of the game industry, the four-handed lawsuit between Warner Brothers / Sweetpea Entertainment and Universal Pictures / Hasbro / Wizards of the Coast is apparently going to trial this week. I am not even going to try to summarize this one; it's been a year of legal motions and court decision since I last reported on this, so I'd suggest going right to the source:


Thats all for now; more later this week, after I get some sleep...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

An Update From The Missus, the Day After...

The Missus is a Doctor Who fan from way, way back...

Here's the latest from The Missus:

Hi all!

We are home and after a nap (I had to get up at 3 a.m. because we needed to check in at 5:30 a.m.) I am feeling okay, other than a little headache.

The procedure went fine, and now I have to wait for the pathology
results, which should be back early next week.

According to the surgeon, I should not have any problems with edema because they only removed one node (in the past they would remove all of the lymph nodes under the arm, which meant that lymph couldn't drain

I follow up with the surgeon in 2 weeks, then meet with an oncologist to discuss hormone therapy then I'll need to set up the radiation therapy.

Many thanks for all the well wishes, and I'll keep you posted with updates.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, September 7th, 2014 - Building Barsoom, And New Voices

More photos of work in progress, but:

Please! If you do not own a table saw, or are not very familiar with how to use one, don't run right out and get one based on what you see in the following pictures! Ask a friend or relative who is a woodworker or carpenter - you know you have them! - to do any cutting on a table saw for you.

I am really serious about this. I've been doing this kind of thing for decades, and I still approach my little table saw with a mixture of deep respect and abject fear. As a result, I still have all of my fingers attached to my hands...

One of the Castle Tilketl hill sections prior to the trip through the saw. These are 14" by 96" expanded styrene foam 'planks', covered with paint and pet store 'terrarium sand'.

The 'plank' reduced to my standard 9.5" x 9.5" square tiles; a five by five array of the tiles is 47.5" x 47.5", which just happens to fit my 48" x 48" game table...

Which see... These are the new 'Barsoom' tiles, with some unfinished extras off to one side. I also salvaged a lot more material as 'half-tiles', too.

The tiles, as seen on the table in the gaming surface. These are half-tiles, 4.75" x 9.5"; I used the table saw to give the tiles a truly vertical edge. A band saw will leave a slightly 'wavy' edge.

The 'Barsoom' tiles; I still need to paint the edges a nice neutral color. I get my scenic paint by the gallon from one of the 'big-box' DIY stores, from the 'OOPS!' section of the paint department. It's a lot cheaper.

As part of the project, I also cut some 'blank' tiles for use as the new swamp. Cutting foam is a very messy process, and you get foam dust all over the place; this is why I do it outside.

 I am happy to report some nice progress! I finally had a nice cool day, with a nice breeze, to get the tiles cut for several new sets of the standard tiles that I use on my new game table. As I mentioned in a previous post, the old hill that I made for Castle Tilketl was both a pain to store and transport, and actually pretty boring as scenery. It's basically a flat, arid desert, and not very exciting.

On the other hand, it does look like the wilds of ERB's Barsoom. I set up my little table saw on the Shopmate, and had at it for a very pleasant afternoon. I made enough full-sized (9.5 x 9.5) tiles to cover the table - and then some; you get more random variation, that way - and a pile of half-sized (4.75 x 9.5) tiles for use as the edges of canals, harbors, and suchlike Barsoomian locales. I think they'll do nicely, and I'll get them boxed up in some of my standard plastic tubs after I paint the edges.


As part of the same work session - cutting foam is messy stuff, and I tend to 'save up' and do it all at one go - I also made some plain tiles for later modification into 'swamp' tiles for Tekumel. I'll laminate these foam squares to thin MDF, cut to the same size, and then add water effects to suit the Ahoggya. The players will, most likely, not appreciate the mud and mire...


The esteemed author of the "Butrus Gazetteer" has a new blog, dedicated to Tekumelyani cooking. This may sound like an obscure topic, but we had a lot of very fun and very spirited discussions with the Professor about this very subject. (Ambereen usually weighed in with examples, too!) I've added a link, off to the left, for you.


I have also corrected a long-running oversight on my part; I hadn't given you a link to the site where the "Butrus Gazetteer" live, and is available for download. The link is now up, and under the 'Useful Tekumel Links' heading.

I really like the book, and I think it should be a part of every Tekumel fan's collection. It's a wonderful book, full of the kind of witty asides and 'plot hooks' that Phil used to do in our games with him, and in every way it's a very fitting addition to the materials we have for Tekumel. Highly useful, and highly amusing, too!!!


Posts this week may be a little scattered; the Missus has her biopsy on Wednesday, and I'll be a little preoccupied...