Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 - Fun With Dave, And Dave, And Dave

Major D. Wesely, U.S. Army (retired). holding forth over his game table

It has been a hugely fun week for me; many, many things happening, and I'm only now getting back to my usual schedule. Let me try to summarize the fun, if I may...


I was invited out to Dave Wesely's house, this past week, to push some lead around his game table - well, it was his Airfix plastics from way back when, but you get the idea. Bill Hoyt and Duane Jenkins, some of the original Blackmoor crowd, as well as some of Dave's regulars showed up. Very tough scenario, but a lot of fun and lots more great conversations about games, game design, and gaming.

(For more about Dave, have a look at:

Dave is an old friend, and it was great to be able to game with him again. We talked about my running a Braunstein for him, and we'll see what we can do - watch this space!


I had Dave Megarry in, the other day, and it was great to see him as well; we are both Adventure Games alumni, and we shared a lot of stories about Ye Olden Dayes. I got the first-hand account of the Ancients game where GM Dave Arneson slipped Druid Megarry a phaser, to deal with Pete Gaylord's Roman war elephant. Pete was not amused when the elephant got fried, as he'd just gotten it and had spent the previous week painting it up just for the game. To reprise an old gamer's lament:

"I just got them all painted up, and they're all dead!"

It never ceases to amaze me that so many of the creative types that were the founders of our shared hobby are from the Twin Cities - and that so many of them are friends of mine. It's humbling, really.


I have been invited to go to Gary Con, this coming spring, and give a talk on Tekumel, Prof. Barker, and "Empire of the Petal Throne". From what I gather, a number of Tekumel fans would like to have me show up and answer their questions about Phil and his creation, as part of the convention programming; we'll see, as the health needs of The Missus take priority over everything.


Speaking of The Missus, she is doing well; it's now been a week after her month of hard radiation, and while she's kind of uncomfortable with sundry aches and pains, she and her doctors are very happy with her condition. So far, so good...


I will be catching up with all your commens and e-mails over the next couple of days, just in time for the holiday...

Thanks again!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, November 16th, 2014 - Lead. Lasers, and Laughter

I am looking forward to the holidays, so I can sit down.

It's been very, very busy hereabouts, and I hope you'll forgive me if I can only give a brief update today...


First off, The Missus has completed her course of radiation therapy. She's doing well; tired and sunburned, but well. And she's like to thank everyone for their very kind words!!!


Please have a look at the current Dark Fable miniatures Indiegogo campaign; the new sets of figures are wonderful, and I really am looking forward to getting these!!! Link off to the left, and please scroll down...


Please also have a look at Howard Fielding's The Tekumel Project - Howard has a number of new ideas that I think you'll find very interesting! Link in the same column for you, too.


I have a long vacation coming up at the end of December, and I will have eleven days free for my writing. I am hoping to get my book about gaming with Prof. Barker, "To Serve The Petal Throne", largely completed during the holiday and up on line for you to read. More on this as it happens, of course!


That's going to have to be it for now; much more later!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Weekly Update for Sunday, November 9th, 2014; Hard Radiation, Chlen-carts, and Palanquin Chases!

Bullock cart from Tamil Nadu, Phil's old stomping grounds
Recreation of a Roman traveling wagon
Palanquin from the Temple of Ksarul, with Qol;
Every thing's better with Qol, you know.

Some quick updates, and then I have a little essay for you to hopefully be amused by...


The Missus is embarking on the fourth and final week of her hard radiation treatments, and asked me to thank everyone who's written in and commented about her. She's really touched by all of you taking the time to do so, and wants to thank everyone for their kind words. She's doing pretty well, she says, and is just tired out and a little sunburned; the doctors are very happy with her progress, and so am I!


Well, color me chagrined! I finally quit dithering about The Weighty Dilemma, and will be painting up the Mu'uglavyani crossbowmen as per Phil's specifications. (The Red-Hats can use the help, frankly.) While getting the raw figures out for conversion, basing, and priming, I discovered that I had some drawers full of the Bob Charrette / Ral Partha 'Chaos' figures. Full, like in really, really full. Eight archers, eight crossbowmen, thirteen heavy axemen, and (!) eighty-two pikemen. That's a full legion's worth of troops, and I'd feel like an utter fool if I didn't paint them up as my Legion of the All-Consuming Flame. I had clean forgotten that The Missus had had a run of luck on Ebay several years ago, and gotten several bulk lots of these pikemen for me; I think I really need to do a full inventory...


I had a 'Phil moment', the other day; one of our Regular Readers made a comment that I think should get a longer answer:

From Virche hiDune, November 7, 2014 at 3:35 PM
Looking at the wagon picture makes me wonder. Because I didn't imagine any 4 wheeled carts for Tekumel.

And, in general, you'd be quite right to do so; almost all chlen-carts are of the two-wheeled variety, and Phil does say this in the Sourcebook in the section on land transport. However, he never drew one! he did draw a chlen, in the War of Wizards board game, but never the cart. I think that this is because we were all expected to know what a cart looked like - we all had an idea what an ox- or bullock-cart looked like, and Phil had seen quite a few of both in his time in South Asia.

Well, you can guess what happened; when it came time to do the illustrations for  my miniatures rules, "Qadardalikoi", gifted artist Ken Fletcher asked the Professor what a typical cart looked like do he could draw it for me. Phil looked blank for a moment, and then said he didn't really have a good idea - the things were so common and ordinary that he'd never stopped to consider them and document them. He pointed out the South Asian examples, and Ken asked, "Well, how may wheels to they have?" Phil offered the opinion that, just like the carts he'd seen in real life, they almost always had two wheels - but that in rare circumstances, you would see the very occasional four-wheeled cart. Ken got out pad and pen, and went to work; you can see the drawings in the rules to this day.

While Ken was sketching away, the rest of us at the game table had a very fun and lively discussion of how goods are moved on Tekumel. Phil offered that people and cargo went by boat or ship, if possible, but otherwise one hired porters and carts; the normal movement process would see a merchant contracting a carter/porter clan to move his shipment from the starting town to about halfway to the final destination; at the mid-point, the merchant would off-load his goods into a new set of carts and porters who would have been hired in the destination town to come out and meet the shipment - a runner would have been sent ahead to make the reservations, and the clan at the destination would normally announce that they were taking on loads to go to the first town. The original set of carts and porters would take on the new loads that were going to their home town, and so avoid 'running empty' on the homeward leg. This series of 'stages' repeats across the entire trip.

The exception to this is somebody like me, who is traveling with my personal goods and family; normally, a ranking person like my humble self would hire porters and carts for a short trip, but buy slave bearers for longer ones and then sell them at the destination. I didn't do that; I would hire porters on long-term contracts, and bought a cart and draft animals to carry our luggage. The carter clans were always bemused by this approach, until they remembered that I am a military man and so used to having my own 'baggage train'. They were also a little astonished  that I supplied my bearers with their own tents, sleeping mats, and cooking equipment - again, they realized that I treated travel like a little military campaign, and were happy to help outfit my little column. The clan in Meku sold me a nice four-wheeled cart, and I hired a nice young man and his fiancee to drive it; they also sold me a pair of chlen, which have multiplied over the years and have provided me with my own herd of the beasts.

(The cart itself was drawn by Ken, and much to my amazement showed up on my doorstep many years later as one of the wonderful '3-D printing' models done by David Allen - complete with the little family of chlen and their herders! (Thank you, once again, sir!!!) Gerald Dagel, one of my long-time gamers and an old friend, also pointed out that we didn't have any chlen in our miniatures collection - so he did one, cast them up in resin, and we made some carts to go with them. And, of course, I had to make a Sakbe road to cary them all...)

So, some years later, I was in the way of becoming what they call a 'family man' and we were about to go off on campaign and thrash the Young Master and his lot out east of Hekellu. Si N'te, my lovely and very determined mother-to-be, insisted on coming along; I panicked at the thought of moving a very pregnant lady across all that terrain, and did what I always did in such moments of Dire Crisis - handed the problem off to the Tinaliya we had in the group. That worthy, in conjunction with his crew of slightly demented engineers, built a special custom cart that had a full suspension for the cabin. At the time we came up with this, I had had no idea that the Romans had such a thing - and you know, I think Phil (despite his loathing of the Romans - he took the downfall of the Ptolomies at their hands very personally) did - the reconstruction of the wagon in the museum - in Trier, I think - is the very likeness of the wagon Si N'te travelled in with our little army. I'll have to get this built - I've got the wheels, so I really have no excuse!

Traveling with Phil on Tekumel was always fun; you never knew what would happen next, as Phil drew on all of his travels in South Asia to regale us with innkeepers, merchants, servants, police, and everyone else you'd meet along the way. I still get a lot of fun out of it, both in gaming and modeling - one of the best game sessions I've had was The Great Palanquin Chase...

Our Vriddi lord was investigating the murder of his clan-uncle, who had been blown up by an exploding packet of letters; it was all very mysterious, and the Vriddi had a personal reason to investigate - the letters had come from him. People were all very impressed, and were going around saying that he'd blown up his uncle in a struggle for control of the clan - "You know, most people use poison or daggers for this kind of thing, but that young man has style! Exploding letters! Wow!" Yes, the Vriddi are that kind of clan...

So our young lord is in hot pursuit of a suspect, when the suspect runs out of the clan house and gets into their palanquin and leaves the area. Our young lord calls to his own palanquin-bearers to "Follow that palanquin!" Being faithful retainers of the family, they do and set off in pursuit - carrying the lord's palanquin, of course, because that's what they do. Unfortunately, I as GM then asked the young lord if he'd gotten into the palanquin before it took off in Hot Pursuit.


Nothing daunted, our young lord took off after his palanquin, and in a move worthy of Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, Zorro, Robin Hood, and an entire generation of heroes came alongside his running palanquin and vaulted into it to continue the pursuit.

It was wonderful; the chase went through most of Butrus, and attracted a lot of attention - there was quite the chase scene until the suspect escaped by diving through the gates of the Mu'uglavyani Legation...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

On Behalf Of The Congress And People Of The United States...

1841 to 1863; he was 22.

I have the happy duty of reporting that 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing will be awarded the Medal of Honor today by the President of the United States. Lt. Cushing's award will be for bravery, courage, and leadership above and beyond the call of duty on July 3rd, 1863 while commanding his battery - Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery - during the third day of the battle of Gettysburg.

There are days when the fate of nations hangs on the actions of unknown junior officers. That terrible day in July was one of them, and he was one of those junior officers.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Weekly Update for Sunday, November 2nd, 2014 - Some Very Major Milestones

Have the Tinaliya been by here, lately?
I'll try to be brief; lots to note today, and I'm pretty happy with all the progress.


First off, The Missus is halfway through her series of doses of hard radiation, and while she's pretty tired out she's doing just fine. The doctors are very happy with her progress, and so am I.


I am very happy to announce that I have now been through the first directory / volume of Phil's computer files; I have look at and sorted out some 12,500 individual files. It's been a real slog, as Phil was not a tidy housekeeper with his files, but it's moving along. I still have three more such directories / volumes to go through, burt I'm doing what I always wanted to do - be Phil's archivist.

I will be merging my own archives with his, over the next month; I have a lot of his materials that he didn't have copies of, and I think I'll wind up with the most complete Tekumel archive around.


Mike Burns' Dark Fable Miniatures will be starting the next 'Ancient Egyptian' Indiegogo today, and I am really looking forward to it. Lots of very cool figures on offer, and very useful for Tekumel! There's a link in the left-hand column for you, too.

EDIT: Here's the direct link; look at all the goodies on offer!!!


I am very happy to be able to announce that the game room and game lounge are now set and ready for action on a permanent basis. I no longer have to 'set' or 'reset' the rooms for game sessions, which will be a huge time- and energy-saver for me. The next milepost, down in the basement, is to get the Skype and Google+ connections working in there, so I can offer on-line gaming from 'the studio' for you.


If I may ask, what would all of you like to see me talk about, here on the blog? This is just as much your blog as it is mine, so let me know what you'd like to hear about. Thanks!!!