Sunday, July 28, 2013

Weekly Update for Sunday, July 28th, 2013 - Underworlds, Anyone?

The Qol in action, reminding the player-characters just who's boss down in the basement.

The Qol on The Workbench, a while back. I love these figures, you know.

I am now one full week into my two-week vacation, and the IMac I'm now working on is getting all of the odds and ends of card readers and peripherals installed after the collapse of the poor old Mac Mini. I should be able to get photos back up later today; I'll try to get some photos of the 'new' terrain tiles when I can.

The excavations in the basement here at The Workbench have been entertaining, if that's the word we can use, and I've been finding all sorts of stuff I'd clean forgotten about both in the cellar and in the storage sheds out back of the old manse. I've been moving all the raw materials of model-building out to the shed, encased in new water-tight plastic tubs, and moving all the 'finished goods' of terrain and scenery into the game room - everything is now in tubs, the idea being to keep related items together and easy to pull for games and events - and organizing the piles of stuff so that I a) know what I have, and b) know where it is.

The basic problem is that I've been a miniatures gamer for thirty years, and - besides being stereotyped as such - I never seem to have tossed anything even remotely useful away over the years. So, we have a very well-equipped game room, and I'm trying to get it organized for the foreseeable future.

I'm also trying to see into the murky future of gaming, and make some guesses as to what sort of stuff I may need in the future. I'm being guided in this by the kind of gaming we used to do in the past, and the times where we'd moan a lot and say "Oh, if only we had [insert name here]!)

The one thing we never had, back in those far-off Dayes of Yore, was an actual Underworld to adventure in. Now, you'd think that with the number of times we'd be stuck in some dank shrine deep under some crummy city, we'd have something to put our little lead people into to show what we were doing; aside from the time I brought in a box of wooded blocks to build a portion of the palace of Bassa, king of the Black Ssu, for that horrible adventure (and thank you, Thomar, for that crummy afternoon! Stupid wizards.) we just didn't have anything. At best, we'd lay out some paper and draw lines, and you'd think with all the talent at the game table out at Phil's we'd be able to so something a little more advanced. It was basically what people do nowadays with the vinyl 'battle mats', but back in 1976.

So, I have been thinking about doing a set of 'terrain tiles' with an Underworld theme. Yes, I know that there are lots of products out there that would help me to do this, but we've found in the course of actual games that the modular systems out there on the market tend to need somebody just to set them up and take them down in the course of a game. The mechanics of using the model start to take over a game and tend to slow the game play way down; for the same reason, I don't build models with interiors, as we've found that the mechanics of taking the clever little models apart and using them during a gems just take too much time.

What I'm looking at is a system of pre-fabricated modules that one just pulls off the shelf and plops down on the game table to represent the tactical situation in the Underworlds. I'm looking at designing the 'modules' in the computer, building the models to match the plans, and then building the larger Underworld settings in the computer to indicate how the model 'tiles' fit together. I'm looking for quick, fast, and easy for the game sessions; I have quite a few 'build as you go' systems to hand, and I've never been happy with any of them. Generally, commercial 'dungeon' systems either cost a fortune for enough parts to build a reasonably-sized Underworld, or they have lots and lots of little bits that get lost and are a pain to assemble during games.

So, my thought is to build sections, have larger mega-dungeons drawn as plans, and have at it on the table. More on this, with photos, as I work on it...

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