Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, September 28th, 2014 - That Was The Week That Was...

Chirine's astrolabe, which was a gift from my kids...

I am back, after a very long and very busy week. It didn't help that I caught a chill last Saturday, while out in the storm, and was under the weather Sunday through Tuesday. Let me backtrack a bit, if I may, and fill in the gaps...

First off, I'd like to thank everyone who commented and e-mailed about how they do and don't use miniatures in their games. What struck me about your responses, as well as that of the OSR bloggers, is that you all noted that it's all about your individual play styles - and not that of what somebody is supposed to have decreed in the pages of "The Dragon", years ago.

Well, yes! This is, to me anyway, what it's all about. Your play style is what should be driving how you play; what you enjoy is what you game, is my theory. As one commenter put it, 'the OSR' is made up of many camps, and I think he's right; gaming should be, in my mind, a big enough tent to allow for a lot of things. In my own experience:

Dave really liked to use miniatures, and did so whenever he could;
Phil liked to make miniatures, and used them as appropriate to the game situation;
Gary didn't like to use miniatures, and didn't.

I think that covers the entire spectrum, really.

So. last Saturday, I worked the football game here in the Twin Cities - it's overtime, and it pays for the medical bills. We had a pretty severe storm come through during the game, which gets the adrenaline going when you have 42,000 people in an open-air roofless stadium with fifty to seventy mile-per-hour winds, damaging hail, and heavy rain predicted - and predicted to hit in about forty minutes, at that.

Here in the Twin Cities, we have a tradition of what's called 'tailgating', where people party in the parking lots outside the stadium before and after the game; people grill and have fun, and they bring these nice 'lawn tents' which are expandable frames with fabric tops on them. (Which we could have used on the Northwest and Northeast Frontier campaigns with Phil, but I don't think they'd been invented yet.) I will leave it to your imaginations what happens to these tents / awnings / gazebos when winds like we got during the storm hit them; in order to minimize the damage, I was sent around in my little electric cart - I do 'Motorist Assistance' calls, which means I do jump-starts, perform miracles in lock-outs, and fix flat tires; a disabled vehicle plays havoc with traffic flows, so we try to clear them as fast as we can - to warn folks to take precautions. It seems to have worked; we had something like fifty tents up and going in the flat lots around the stadium, and only three were lost due to the high winds. The Stadium Operations crew did evacuate the stadium; but, this being Minnesota where we are made of sterner stuff due to our Scandinavian roots, the game resumed after a 45-minute 'rain delay'.

The downside was that the rain was coming in horizontally, and in sheets; I wound up taking cover under a building portico, as my cart was on the verge of being blown over by the wind. The temperatures dropped like the proverbial rock, as the storm front came through; we went from nearly +80F down to a chilly +60F in less then fifteen minutes, and being soaking wet I got very cold.

As a result, I felt very poorly on Sunday; I did get through my overnight shift, but came home very sick. I spent the next thirty hours flat on my back, with The Missus enforcing a period of bed rest with hefty doses of fluids. I took some sick leave on Monday night, but managed to stagger through Tuesday and Wednesday nights with the aid of powerful potions administered by The Missus.

Thursday was The Missus' turn; she got her stitches from the previous surgery out, and everything looks pretty good. She's still sore, but she's feeling pretty good. I stayed home that night, as we had another appointment on Friday...

... Which was a round of exploratory surgery to try and locate what seems to be a "fibroid tumor" in The Missus' abdominal region. It showed up on an ultra-sound exam, and the doctors went in to have a look around; it's believed to be non-malignant, so there was no rush, but everyone just wanted to make sure. All of us came to the party, but the tumor was a no-show; it wasn't visible. So, The Missus will have a go with the ground-penetrating radar - er, an exam with the MRI machine - to scope out where this thing might be lurking.

Yesterday, I took the day off, and I am feeling better. I'm still working on getting back up to speed, and I'll be getting back to all of you as fast as I can.


In other news. the big D&D lawsuit trial is over, for now:


I have been getting some figures painted, as a way to keep my blood pressure down during these troubled times; pictures when I get the chance...


Player-characters note! Here's an excellent series by a British newspaper on what we usually call 'encumbrance' in our games:

Back when I went through my 'basic training', I carried literally more then my own body weight in equipment, weapons, ammunition, and supplies; as a result, I got stuck down in the bottom of a ravine and had to be hauled out by the rest of my squad. I was told - in no uncertain terms! - not to do that again, thank you.


And , to end on a humorous note, here's a news story I think you'll be amused by:

Honestly, Gentle Readers, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried...

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Weekly Update for Sunday / Monday, September 21st / 22nd, 2014 - No News; I have a nasty cold...

I still think this is a pretty darn cool get-well card...

I'm sorry; I'll have to beg your indulgence, this week. I picked up a nasty cold from getting wet and chilled during the storm on Saturday, and I am off to bed after I get my cup of broth. I'll be back as soon as I can; thanks!

- chirine

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...

EDIT: If you haven't had the chance already, please have a look at the wonderful post over on Greyhawk Grognard about this, and please read the comments:

There's  a lot of very good points being made, and I am very pleased to be able to read them!!!

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...