Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Weekly Update for Sunday, April 20th, 2014 - Happy Easter!

I like it, up here; it's nice and quiet.
It has been a very busy week; the Ditlana continues, of course, and I'm just starting the re-building phase of the operation. The table saw will be busy, this coming week, as I build new shelves and the new tabletop for the folding tables. Exciting times, methinks, and I'm really enjoying myself.

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I got an update from Mike Burns' "Ancient Egyptian" Indiegogo campaign; the casting of the new miniatures is ahead of schedule, and we should see the new figures in the mail about the middle of May. I'm really looking forward to seeing these; the photos look great, and the figures have never disappointed.

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Some of the storage tubs, with some of the terrain tiles

Warm weather has finally arrived, and with it comes the smell of wet paint. I'm finally able to get out into the back yard and get all of the figures that have accumulated over the long cold winter on their bases and primed. I've also gotten the storage shed, where I keep all of the 'reserve' gaming stuff stored, cleared out and reorganized. A series of new tubs - actually recycled ones from the home office - is being filled up, and the game room is getting more and more clear as a result. The ultimate goal is to be able to run games with a half-hour's notice, and with a minimum of effort. I'm well on the way to meeting that goal, and I am pretty darn pleased!

As you can see from the photo, all of the tubs have markings on them; each tub has a unique identifier, and this is keyed to the inventory I keep on the computer. Each tub also has a clear plastic pocket on it, which in turn has an insert with the contents of the tub written on it; I like to have back-up plans for my back-up plans. The idea is that if I want to run a game, say, the Battle of the Temple of Chanis, all I have to do is pull out tubs X, Y, and Z, and there we are.

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And a Happy Easter to everyone!!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ditlana - Not your father's Tekumel, anymore...

Remember these? Ye Olde game tables?

Ditlana, as I've mentioned, is the process of demolition and rebuilding that the Tsolyani use to renew their cities - and by creating the Underworlds, provide adventuring opportunities. I'm about half-way through the demolition part of the process in the game room, and I'm just starting the rebuilding part.

As I've mentioned, I've cut the 22" x 63" terrain tiles that I built about a decade ago into standard 9.5" x 9.5" tiles; the question came up "Why such an odd size, Chirine?"

Well, smaller tiles are easier to store and deal with, and five of the 9.5" tiles make for a length of 47.5" - which in turn, is just about right for a stock 48" plywood panel. (You can get them in 8', 4', and 2' lengths.) My thought was that since I am up to my hips in plywood, I would make a game table top that used a sheet of 48" x 48" ply with a lip around it to make a sort of 'tray' to hold the modular terrain tiles; they tend to scoot around a bit in game play if not restrained, I've found. This is also a very nice match to the 60" x 60" table configuration I use for most miniatures games here at the house - two of my 30" x 60" folding tables.

Now, the astute reader will have figured out that 48" x 48" leaves 12" all the way around the table free and clear; correct, and this is part of my Cunning Plan (per S. Baldrick, of Blackadder fame.) for my new table top. One thing that always happens in games is that soda cans, rulers, snack bowls, rules sets, napkins, and dice can get set down on the game table; the old rule at The Little Tin Soldier Shoppe, back in the day, was to play these as terrain. I prefer not to have this stuff on the playing surface, mostly because I have to remove them when I take photos. I'm lazy, after all.

So, I will add a set of trays around the edges of the plywood, akin to the 'poker tables' of old that our parents used to have in the 'rec room' in the basement. I don't think I'll mill out round holes for the drinks; I don't think they'll justify themselves, as I think people won't really use them, so I'll just have open trays with lipped edges for people to put things in.

Some nice stain, a coat of neutral 'sand' colored paint on the inner portion of the 'tray', and I think we're good to go.

Poker chips optional...


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

You need to see this from the BBC. You really do.

It's that grumpy old man, again.

There are, as I have said, days when it pays to get up in the morning. Please hop over to the BBC, and have a look at this:


I think you'll be amazed.

yours, chirine

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, April 13th, 2014 - Ditlana, Bethorm, and Salute - UPDATED!

The old arena, such as it was.

There is not much in the way of gaming news to report this week; I have been doing a lot more on the logistical side of the thing all week, and I am very happy with the progress made so far. I have even gotten into The Space Below The Stairs, and dug out some bits that I hadn't seen in years. They are now out and on display in the Lava Lounge, and I am pretty darn pleased to have them back in the flow. I am still working through the miniatures collection, reorganizing and sorting; this will take a while longer, as there are over 5,000 Tekumel miniatures in the bins.

The primary effort here is to bring the various national armies up to speed, get the 'generic' figures (like my Ancient Egyptian guys in kilts with sharp objects) into specific bins, and get all the various player-character figures sorted by age and group. I still have all of the PCs that I did for the people out at Phil's over the years, and they need to be organized into some semblance of order.

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Jeff Dee's Kickstarter campaign for his Tekumel RPG book, "Bethorm", ends tonight. Please take a moment out of your busy Palm Sunday activities, use the link over in the left-hand column to get to his Uni Games web site, and have a look. Thanks!

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Salute, the big UK game show held in London, has now come and gone. I'll have more when I get the news and photos from friends over there.

[UPDATE]

Here's a link to some excellent photos from Salute:


Thee are some great game tables in the pictures, and an inspiration or two for me... :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

More on the Ditlana, and the BBC on D & D

Captain Harchar persuades a business rival to go elsewhere.

I'm sure that all you web-savvy folks out there in the blogosphere have seen this, but Auntie Beeb has done a story on the panic that swept America over D & D in the ealry 1980s:


It's a pretty good little article; The Missus had to e-mail them and remind them that D & D isn't a board game, but so it goes. She also suggested "Playing at the World" for further reading.

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The Ditlana continues, and I continue to discover old and familiar treasures in amongst the debris of failed projects. I found the custom-made set of hills that I carved for the game we did refighting the Battle of Anch'ke, and since this will work very nicely with the modular terrain tiles that I salvaged out of the old bespoke tiles I had made for games on the big table at The Source, it will be stored in a new plywood crate alongside the model of Castle Tilketl on the North West Frontier. I am not sure about what to do about the custom-made hill I did for the castle to sit on; about the only interesting part of that set is the 'back' of the terrain, which marks the cliff that the castle sits on. I think what I'll do is salvage the terrain sections, which are currently 6 foot long by 18" foam tiles with scenic materials, by cutting them into the same 9.5" x 9.5" tile size that I am standardizing on. (The odd dimension of 9.5" by 9.5" is designed to work with my set of standard 30" x 60" tables, and has been working nicely in test runs.)

The criteria for the 'save / toss' decision is, by and large, based on just how 'useful' and 'finished-looking' an item is. My time and energy are very limited, these days, and any project that looks like it's going to take a lot of either to finish is a prime candidate for disposal. A really good example of the 'save' category is the large Skbe road set I started about five years ago, and which still needs detailing and paint. The main construction work on this 14' long set is done, and it'll only take a couple of weekends to finish the set to a 'gameable' state - so, it stays.

On the other hand, I also have two 55-gallon trash bags full of cut pink foam in various thicknesses - the foam had been intended to make modular hills, but as of this instant they are just cut blocks of foam.  It would take a huge amount of work to make these useable, and they are not likely to be used in future games; one of things that I've found in my research into modern gaming styles is that the trend is for smaller tables - one very popular miniatures game uses nothing larger then 4' x 4', and I have games where the authors suggest a 2' x 2' table. This does have advantages - a small table means that the forces on the ground will be in contact and combat very quickly, usually in two game turns or less. This, in turn, means for very quick games; I have been told by quite a few players that they simply don't have the time to spend on games like my Braunstein last year, which went for some five hours. This is simply too long for today' hectic lifestyles, which is why the current generation of miniatures games strongly favor very small 'warbands' and 'factions', instead of the 'armies' popular in my generation.

While I am retaining the capability to run games on larger tables, such as the 60" by 120" ones that I use at FFG's Event Center, I am concentrating on smaller games on smaller tables. I have, as I have mentioned before, three 30" by 60" tables that I use in the basement game room; these normally get used in a 60" by 60" or 60" by 90" array, and quite frankly one does not need 110 gallons of hills to cover a table this size! The half-dozen resin hills I have collected over the years from pet stores do very nicely on tables this size, and they become focal points for the action instead of annoyances to the players. The resin hills also store better, and take up a lot less room!

Onward!