Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Weekly Update For Sunday, May 17th, 2015 - No Update For Now, As I am Ill...

I am very sorry to have to say that there will be no update this morning. I am suffering from both a fresh attack of gout, this time in my right foot, and a nasty head cold; I hope to have something later today, but I need to get to bed.

In the meantime, keep in mind that we're in the last couple of days of the Ral Partha Kickstarter; have look, if you would, and I'll be back later on.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Partha, Photos, and Passion!

 Well, I did promise you photos:

Sample weapons pack - lighting turned up for detail
Weapons - US penny for size comparison

The sample elves - a 1978 casting on the right for comparison
The elves - this is the raw metal.
Very crisp, and very clean!

Orcs, goblins, imps, and others
I love the detail on these!
These do look the business, I think!

(These photos are all shot with my Sony Mavica, which I had set to the 'Macro' focus. No flash, just the photo tent. I need to get out a tripod and a different lighting rig for extreme closeups, and I'll try to get that done this weekend.)

Well, we're in the last days of the Ral Partha Kickstarter:

And I will say that I am pretty excited by the whole thing. The Missus is working out what level she wants to support the thing at - I leave all these decisions to her - and I am sure that I'll be very happy when the package shows up on the doorstep.

These figures are really good; the alloy is a modern one, not the soft high-lead one of the 1970s, but it really pops up the detail on these sculpts. I didn't give any of these figures a black wash to bring up the detail - this is the raw metal, right out of the box. I also left the mold vents on, so you can see what you'll be getting. I am very, very happy with these figures - they are very clean and very crisp, and these classic sculpts stand up very well against more modern miniatures. (Keep in mind that these sculpts are thirty to forty years old; my girls are are only half that age, the bulk of them.) I'd think that they'll look very good on the table!

And the folks at Iron Wind do listen to you - they changed the Kickstarter so that you can get all the same figure in your units, if you want your miniatures that way. You can get entire units of the same SKU, for that very 'vintage' and very 'classic' look to your game table if that's something you'd like; you can also get assortments of figures, as per the Kickstarter, so you can have your personalities on the table for RPGs. That's what we did at Phil's, in our games; I'd get packs of figures to get a particular one for a specific purpose, and then I'd hold the rest for future use. I'd bring them to the game sessions when we had a new player, and they'd select what they liked for their figure. I'd get to work with the paint brush, and we'd be off on another adventure.

(That's what Dave Arneson did for his rascally crew of "honest seafaring merchants", by the way; his officers, the Mates 'Staffswinger', 'Swordswinger', and 'Fishface' - as well as the Purser, 'Hardtack' - were all selected by Dave from the 'pool' of unpainted miniatures, and the First and Second Mates got their names from the weapons they were carrying. I still have them, too, and hold on to my money pouch when I put them on the table - no disrespect intended, just sayin'...)

I would also like to credit someone who I don't know. The "Sea Elf With Pike" on the far right of the elven line-up is not a figure I painted; I found this miniature at a booth at Gary Con, an as I wanted a little keepsake from the convention I bought him for my Yan Koryani forces - the Gurek of N'gaku, where his cousins have been soldiering on for Baron Ald for almost forty years: the Ral Partha "Sea Elf Advancing With Pike", as well as the standing figure. I have both the original release with a plain helm, and the later release with a feather on the front of the helm. This figure will get a base to match his fellow troopers, but I'll keep the paint job as a reminder of a really great weekend.

So, please do have a look at the Ral Partha web page and the Kickstarter, and take a trip back in time to us when we played in Phil's basement; Phil loved miniatures, and I think he'd be all over this Kickstarter!


Friday, May 15, 2015

Other Voices, Other Lives

We didn't care, back then...
We didn't care more recently, either...
This is not the post I planned on making today; I'll be back later with some photos of the new Ral Partha figures for you.

No, this post is about a trend that I've been watching on the Internet in various gaming circles. back in my salad days, we called it "political correctness". This is in reaction to an e-mail that one of my regular readers got; you can see it at; there's a link over in the left-hand column, too.

Back in my day, and frankly to this day, I didn't care what people were; I cared about them wanting to play, and to have fun. I made sure that I provided a friendly place for them to come and play and dream, and I didn't worry about being 'politically correct' in the process. I worried about making sure that my friends had a fun time, as guests in my home.

Have a look at the photos, if you wouldn't mind. These were taken about thirty years apart. Can you tell me who the gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and straight people are? Well, neither can I; I never really asked, as it just didn't seem to be any of my business. Heck, I had to stop and think and remember that Mr. Lander is A Person Of Color; I will always think of him as the courtly and dignified gentleman who played so well and for so long.

I have o problem with people who want to highlight 'alternate views'; if you look down the list in the left-hand column of People I Think Are Worth Listening To, you'll see a lot of folks who have very different viewpoints and outlooks then I do. This is deliberate - one of my goals with this little confection of a blog is to bring to you what I consider important and worth saying. Have a look at what they are posting about, and you'll get a feel for my mindset and the world that I inhabit. Please, just don't jump to conclusions when you label me as a 'straight white male'; I'm a little more complex then that, I think.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Weekly Update For Sunday, May 10th, 2015 - The Ground For The Boots To Be On...

The campaign map, in copies to save the originals

The new hexes, in non-repro blue pencil

The campaign map again, with the new hexes being added

"Those pesky players! Always fighting at the edge of the map!"

Lots and lots of very exciting things going on in my life at the moment, so this will be a kinda short update today. I am in the final throes of getting the basic campaign information done and ready to go out to everyone; I've had to do a lot of writing, and that always takes time due to my dyslexia. (I'm also ambidextrous; it does make things a little more complicated.) I've been reminded of one of Phil's pet peeves, this week; he was always a little put out that the players, those pesky kids, had a habit of always fighting at the edges of the map.

In getting ready for this campaign, I had originally thought of cutting up one of my sets of the Northwest Frontier map set, but The Missus pointed out that as she'd digitized the the maps why not cut up a set of copies - after all, she reasoned, we have a perfectly good printer. So, a lot of rubber cement and snipping later, we now have a large map on which to march around and explore; I mounted it to one of my spare cork boards, because I like to use map flags - I freely admit to being quite old-fashioned, and set in my ways. I also use clear acrylic sheet and grease pencils, just like you see in the movies, and one of these days I'll dig out the big sheet of steel so I can use my sets of magnetic counters.

However, all is not analog; The Missus noticed that we have a little problem, in that the western edge of the map set come just where you'd expect the players to be trying something. I was standing in the game room regarding the vast expanses of blank white paper that I had under the map set, when The Missus remarked that while I should lay out the rough hex grid to the west to get the campaign started, she could very easily take one of her digital images of the maps and remove everything except the hex grid itself; I could then use these matching blank hexes to record the discoveries and misadventures of the players, and keep track of the campaign both on the computer and on the map board.

"Well," says I, "if you insist, dear..."

So, I've inked in the rough hexes, and I'll be noting any interesting features. I am working from the original EPT maps, as these are what the artist who did the Northwest Frontier maps had to hand, with additional items from the later S&G maps as needed. As the players move into an area, I'll use Phil's 'hex generator' from the unpublished S&G III to find out what they are marching through. The information will get noted down on the hex grid, and kept for future reference.

I should note that we really don't know what's off the west of the NW Frontier maps; most of our adventures, back in the day, were off to the west of the Atkolel Heights, out on the edge of the desert, and farther south near Craig's old fief of Tu'umnra. Phil also really didn't leave much in the way of notes, either; there's a little information in S&G I, and in "Deeds", but really about all we have is the two sets of continental maps.

And a lot of boot leather; Phil used to leave large area of the maps 'blank', until he could get us to have a look in them. "Here Be Dragons", the sign posts used to say...

I'd also like to note that I am really enjoying doing all of this - it's like the old days at Coffman Union, all over again... :)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Weekly Update For May 3rd, 2015 - Lurching Unsteadily Forward

The invaluable reference. Get it.

I am back on my foot, sort of, and lurching forward - and around the house. I still can't get a shoe on the left foot, but the orthopedic boot does allow me to get things done. Slowly, but at least I'm not on pain-killers and can think without having to stop and consider what I'm thinking about.

The good news is that this week will see the first notes going out to everyone who asked about the play-by-email campaign, and we'll get the thing started next week. I'm sorry for the delay -  wanted to be into the game by now - but unpacking from Gary Con has taken a lot longer then I anticipated, and losing the use of a foot for the better part of two weeks just hasn't helped.

The most-asked question about the campaign I'm getting from just about all the players is "Do I need to have any experience with miniatures to play?" The immediate answer is a resounding "No!"; all you need is what they used to call 'pluck' and a good dose of enthusiasm. Keep in mind that back in the day, we had no idea what we were doing, or how we were supposed to do it. We also had no idea that there was any difference between what's referred to these days as 'role playing games' and 'miniatures games / wargames". For us, these genres lay on a spectrum of play that went from individual adventures to large mass actions; we used little lead people, coins, dice, and cardboard game counters to represent what we were doing on the table. Jon Peterson quotes Dave Arneson: "We made stuff up, and we had fun!" That's what this campaign will be - my telling stories to you, and you reacting and adding to the narrative with your actions.

One thing we did do, back in the day, was read as much as we could about what we were doing. The single best reference book we had was "The Defence Of Duffer's Drift", by E. D. Swinton. (I still have my copy, and I still read it.) My advice to people is that, instead of worrying about rules on movement rates and arcs of fire, get a copy of this book and settle down for a pleasant afternoon of reading.

The book is still available, and even available for free. Check the Web, of course, but here are two URLs for you:

Take a moment, and look at that second URL, if you would. "benning" is Fort Benning, Georgia, the home of the U. S. Army's Infantry Branch. (The Armor School is there too, having been moved from Ft. Knox; somebody thought that it might be a good idea for the treadheads and footsloggers to get to know each other.) This little book is still in use today, over a century after it was first published as a magazine article, to teach new officers their trade.

Yes, this book was written after the Boer War in South Africa; substitute 'crossbows' for 'rifles', if you wouldn't mind, and 'ballista' for 'gun'. I think you'll find you can get a lot of very useful information on what to expect from my campaign in this book, and you'll find it well worth your reading time.

I know I did.