Sunday, April 15, 2018

On Hold - Weekly Update - April 15th, 2018

Yep; that time of year again...

The local situation, this morning...

Everything is on hold, this weekend. We've had about 14" of snow over the past day, and the van refused to start due to blowing snow getting under the poor old thing and getting the wiring wet. We've been putting a tarp ober it to help with this, and it worked fin during the last storm we had. It didn't save the day this time around, so the van is off to the shop to get dried out.

Fifth Daughter's move into her new home has also been delayed, but she's only got one load left so things will be clear by the weekend. I have gotten the game room clear of debris, the workshop and laundry sorted, and we're on track to have our first guests in the game room (in several years) at the end of this month.

Life goes on, just wetter and slower...

Monday, April 9, 2018

Hoist By My Own Petard - The Belated Weekly Update - Monday, April 9th, 2018

Temptation, on the hoof (as it were)

Pandemonium reigns, here at The Workbench; Fifth Daughter is moving out, into her new townhouse with her fiance. It's been a long process, as the poor old van has not been running reliably; it will start just fine if the weather is dry, but gets sulky if it's wet. At 338,600 miles, it probably has every right to be, and our mechanics (who have been looking after the old beast for over a decade, now) have advised us to not put any mode money into the van and advised us to simply get a tarp to throw over the van when it looks like rain.

So, we did, and it works just fine. Had some snow the past couple of days, and wrapping the van up worked perfectly.

Anyway, there's one last load due to go out the door, and then The Missus and I get our house all to ourselves for the first time in over a decade. All of the boxes and tubs that we've been living out of now will go back into what used to be 'the spare room' and we're going to be able to do a lot more with our live sin very short order. And, to be honest, a college student is a pretty large expense; our annual disposable income is going to effectively triple, which means that we can do a lot of the things that we've always wanted to do - but didn't have the money for.

TRE Games, for example, now has some very useful wagon kits, which I saw at the FLGS; they are not yet up on the TRE website, but I'm sure he'll be happy to sell them to you. (Tell him Chirine sent you.)

And, also to be honest, the timing of all this could not be better. Due to an event being run at the FLGS, the D&D 5E group that I play in / co-GM is going to be held here at the house in our game room the end of this month. Aside from the usual 'panic factor' of getting everything ready, this will be a historic moment - it will actually be the very first time a real D&D game will be played here since we moved in over thirty years ago.

I'm sort of assuming that we'll still be in the midst of the D20 "Redwood Scar", so I shall dig out a nice forest for the game table and set out the scene the way I usually do. We'll see how it goes; I will admit that I'm looking forward to it.

And I got an interesting question in over the transom, with a request to do an essay on my game style. So, that's up next, as soon as I proofread all the typos... :)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Play Style: Gary Gygax - The Weekly Update (3) - Monday, March 26th, 2018

Still a classic RPG movie, I think.

We've come full circle in my gaming life, to Gary Gygax. This is actually the hardest post to write, as I have a lot less gaming 'face time' with Gary then I had with Dave and Phil; I really on saw him at conventions and after TSR stockholders' meetings, where I had been sent by Dave to annoy the Blume brothers with questions they they didn't really want to answer.

For Gary, I used to suggest an animated short film, "The Duel", as an example of Gary's skill at taking a premise and running with it. He was very, very good at this, and you were careful as a result. He was, I think, the 'middle ground' between Dave and Phil, with a little of Dave's 'improv' style and some of Phil's 'grand historical epic' school. He was very good, very quick, and very literate - the much-discussed 'Appendix N' was a list of the books and films that had inspired him, and it's still one of the best introductions to the genre that I can think of.

Which leads us to the two 1980s "Conan" movies. Yes, they both do have issues, but I think they do serve as example of what playing with Gary was like. A straight-foward tale of adventure and derring-do, with a dash of romance thrown in every now then to remind you why you were out having an adventure and why there were other things in an adventurer's life then loot.

If you have the time, get a bucket of popcorn, and sit down in front of the biggest screen you can find and watch "Conan the Barbarian: and "Conan the Destroyer". It's all about a couple of parties of adventurers off on quests, which is the heart and soul of this RPG thing we do.

Questions? Thoughts? How can I describe this better?

Play Style: M. A. R. Barker - The Weekly Update (2) - Monday, March 26th, 2018

Even more epic, 'cause it's historical...

Continuing in our EPIC! vein, gaming with Prof, Barker in his Tekumel. Again, I used to suggest a video, this one about the siege of Jotapata:

Being in the legions, back in the day, we did a lot of this kind of thing. But, as Phil's campaign matured, we spent more and more time in the culture and in society. Enter the historical epic of the Maratha soldier, Bajirao:

Phil loved this kind of thing, and regularly borrowed from 'real' history to fill out his 'created' history of Tekumel. As this story is a little more complicated, I'd suggest this review of the movie:

And again, a little taste; The Queen, Our Hero's wife, is not delighted by her husband's falling in love with another woman (even thought she's a princess from the next kingdom over from her own) but when the court exiles the new girl to the courtesans' quarters - which is an insult, frankly - the queen steps in and invites the princess to join her, thereby making the princess her friend, ally, and co-wife:

(Please note: you don't need subtitles; the acting is that good.)

This movie is Phil, at his best: Action! Adventure! Romance! His creation of Tekumel has been described by some gamers as "weird and inaccessible", but I disagree; this is all Phil, all the time, with all the life, love, excitement, and detail of something he'd been working on since 1948.

Sharpen your tulwar, get into your armor, and let's have an adventure! There's treasure to be found, battles to be fought, friends to help, mysteries to be solved, kingdoms to be won, and dreams to be dreamed!

Play Style: Dave Arneson - The Weekly Update (1) - Monday, March 26th, 2018

Not just 'epic', but EPIC!

The article about the game room over on Multiverse has resulted in more then a few questions coming my way, and chief amongst them is "What was it like to play with Dave/Gary/Phil?"

I'll try to answer that; I used to suggest a video clip on YouTube, the short film "The Duel At Blood Creek", as an eample of a typical Dave Arneson game, as it's got all sorts of detail, swordplay, great dialog, and a surprise ending that I won't spoil for you if you watch it. Eveything I'd expect from a game with Dave, and full of laughter and excitement with great dollops of sheer fun.

I have, I think, finally found something that really does give that true 'Arneson flavor'. May I commend to you the series of epic (and I do mean EPIC!) "Baahubali" films. For information on them, please see:

The series is all about the adventures of The Hero, and all of the Heroines and Sidekicks you'd ever want to see. I will not give you any spoilers; I will give you a taste of the world of "Baahubali", because it's just like what playing in Blackmoor was with Dave:

1) The Heroine is in Dire Peril; being a Heroine, she gets right down to slaughtering the bad guys, but can't get enough arrows into the air to stop them. Just as it looks grimmest, The Hero arrives...

2) The Villain, who really is a villain what with repressing the people and keeping The Hero's beloved mother in prison and tormenting her with stories about what he's going to do to her son if he shows up to rescue her, suddenly finds The Hero and his army outside the city; as the walls are impregnable, he feels safe, but, The Hero will rescue his beloved mother, no matter what...

When I say 'epic' gaming, I mean EPIC! gaming, which is what I learned from Dave.

If you can do flying shield walls in your adventures, you are playing in an 'Arnesonian' EPIC! style...