Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Whirling Blades of Death Revisited, or, I Love My Table Saw!

My Ryobi 10" table saw;
Note whirling blade of death and guard over it.

I am now five days into my sixteen day vacation, and having a grand time. I had a great weekend, pottering around the house and getting all sorts of things done, then had a wonderful family day with the kids and The Bouncing Baby on Monday. Yesterday was a delight - out came my table saw, and the sawdust flew!

The particular project in hand is the cutting down of my terrain 'tiles' that I had made for use on the giant game table at The Source Comics and Games; this table is actually the cover of their sand table, and measures something like 143" by 63". I had made a set of 'tiles' to cover this, and we used these in a number of the battles we did there to promote Tekumel. The problem was one of logistics; the tiles had to be about 20" by 40", to cover the vast expanse of table, and were a pain in the tush to transport and store.

I had been wanting to cut the tiles down for use on our 'standard' tables, here at The Workbench, as we don't run games at The Source anymore. (See the mess surrounding the recent 'Braunstein' game we had wanted to put on at the store, in posts from late May.) So, I got all the old tiles out of the garage yesterday, and made lots and lots of sawdust cutting the tiles down to a standard 9.5" by 9.5", and really enjoyed actually making something for once.

I love making things; models, terrain, scenery, stuff like that that will amuse and amaze. This was the first project that I've been able to get back to after about two years - Phil's last illness and other people's recondite affairs took up the time in between - and I am really enjoying getting stuff done. I'm actually accomplishing something, and it's been a great feeling.

The idea behind all this work is to kit out the game room in the way that Phil and I had always wanted to; in the grand manner of British miniatures and RPG gaming, where we would have more then The Tree and The Hill for scenery and terrain, and the ability to do events outside the basement if we had to. Now, I'm not saying that I'm rebuilding the old 'Tekumel Travelling Roadshow' that I had built back when I was "Jeff Berry dba Tekumel Journal"; 'commercial exploitation' of Tekumel isn't my issue anymore, as well as not being my business anymore, and for which I am truly grateful. (The last two years of other people's craziness fixed that, for all time.) What I'm doing is I'm rebuilding and reconfiguring The Workbench and the associated Game Room and Lava Lounge to make it possible for guests to come and game here in reasonable comfort, and with good support for their games.

Back a couple of years ago, we hosted a 'Tekumel Weekend' over the year-end holidays that was quite successful and well-received. (And well attended, if I may so immodest as to say so.) I'm going to be doing that every year, now, for as long as I can; I will also be supporting Brett Slocum's effort to set up and run a Tekumel-themed game room at the local Con of the North game convention, and possibly going to Joe Saul's Tekumel track at U-Con in Ann Arbor. I also plan on running the annual Dave Arneson / Phil Barker Memorial Game Day at Fantasy Flight Games' Event Center each spring. I'll also be doing a frequent video webcast with the Sony Bloggie that The Missus bought for the recent 'Braunstein', and which worked pretty dang well. There's going to be a lot of Web activity here at The Workbench from now on, as I think it would be a very easy way to reach out to people and tell them about Phil's creation.

So, what I'm doing is building what amounts to a modular and flexible terrain and scenery system that will allow me to run any game scenario from any portion of Phil's Tekumel; it works like this:

Terrain tile sets:  'Arid'; 'Temperate'; 'Maritime'

Scenery sets: 'Desert', 'Arid', 'Temperate', 'Jungle', 'Swamp'

Urban scenery sets: 'Swamp Village'; 'Pe Choi Village'; 'Rural Village'; 'Town'; 'City'

Sakbe Road sets: 'Standard'; 'Ruined/Decrepit'; 'Wooden/Penom'

The concept, the elements of which (I may modestly say) has already been largely built in model form, is to be able to combine any series of these elements to form any terrain or location type that Phil came up with n his writings. The astute reader will note that I haven't mentioned an Underworld set; I am dithering between building a set based on the now-standard tiles, and making it infinitely modular, or doing 'set-piece' models of Famous Tourist Attractions from various Underworlds. (Suggestions on thid subject from you, Dear Readers, would be very would be welcome.)

I should note that I am getting away from specific terrain and scenery items that are dedicated/tied to specific games. I have made a few terrain sets like this in the past, and they have been a waste of time, materials, and energy; they are a pain to store, and they don't get used very much in games. I have tossed out most of the specific pieces, as being too decrepit from long storage, but I did keep the bulk of the hills I built for the 'Seige of Castle Tilketl' as I can recut that into the new modular format.

(Well, of course I kept the Castle; it lives in a custom-built crate, and is packed away for the next time we storm the place.)

And I am building to a 'two table standard'; the idea here is that one can have one scenic game table up and running at an event while the second scenic table is being set up for the next game. I'm also building to suit the logistics, too; everything will be stored in the containers it would be transported in, so all I have to do is 'throw and go' for events. Since the cargo van has fixed and known dimensions, I can do load plans for it and specify what containers go where and to what table at events. This is the same sort of thing I used to do for my production company, back when I used to do big events all over the Us and Canada, so I'm used to doing it.

Big changes, and more to come!!!


  1. Table saws, huh?


  2. Sounds great....get some pics posted!