Sunday, February 24, 2013

Weekly Update for Sunday, February 24th, 2013

38 pounds of steel, brass, and leather.
And I'm told I don't know how to dress properly!
Lots going on this past week, but I'll try to be concise. First, my blood pressure has been stable all week in the 120 to 130 over reasonable range, and I'm feeling a lot better. The downside is that I'm sleeping a lot more, which may be a sign that I'm finally healing up.

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Work on the miniatures collection has been going on for the past two weeks; I'm in the throes of re-basing and reorganizing the entire collection of some 5,200 figures. Back when I started the collection, about 1975 or so, the idea was to have as many military units of the Five Empires as possible, and some  'personality' figures for role-playing games. Well, whaddya know, eh? RPGs are now mostly what we do, all these years later, so I'm reorganizing the collection and the storage system to reflect that. Yes, I'm still building units for the 'big battles', but those are going to be Occasions while the RPGs are the bread-and-butter of the gaming we do.

I'm also re-basing figures to move away from the old 25mm x 25mm square base for RPG figures that I used to use back in the day, and moving to 25mm or 30mm round bases from Litko for the individual figures. There's a little difference in combat power in my rules as a result, but nothing really different. They do look better, though!

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The game group will be doing two 'open events' this spring: Yet another David L. Arneson Memorial Maritime Miniatures Mayhem event, featuring the infamous Harchar and his merry crew, and a new event tentatively titled "The Mohammed Abd Rahman Barker Pro-Am Invitational Open Miniatures Frolic" where we'll run a game based on something Phil was fond of. It might be from his world-creation, or it might be something else. Watch this space!

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"To Serve The Patal Throne" has reached a milestone, of sorts. I am now up to 74,996 words in the draft, and just finishing up the festival in the village on the Missuma River where Chririne and his friends have been for a while. I also have drafted the scenes where Chirine has a run-in with Deq Dimani, Chirine and Vrisa enjoy the lovely scenery in Milumaniya, and Chirine runs a small amphibious invasion.

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The "Spots The Space Amrine" front has been quiet, hence no update yesterday, and I am sending my copy of the book off to the author for autographing. I have been sneaking peeks, and I like what I'm reading.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, February 17th, 2013

The TSR RPGA miniatures case I got at a Gen-Con at U of Wisconsin - Parkside,
from some guy named Gary Gygax. Still have it, too. Still have the miniatures, as well.

It has been a very good week, here at The Workbench. My blood pressure has been in the 'normal human' range all week, and I feel pretty darn good. Of course, I'm also now being darn careful, as I don't need to fall back from where I am...

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New Grandson Ian is doing well; sleeping, eating, and pooping per the usual way of babies. Mother Thiolleb and father The Stalwart Nlyss are coping, with the help of her mom. More news as I get it, of course.

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I'm still on the Missuma River with Chirine, at the local festival. I hope to have the update on the book for you later this week. It was one of the better nights with Phil, as it was one of his little 'mini-series' story arcs, and I'm trying to do it justice.

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Con of the North, our local game convention, is this weekend, and both Brett Slocum and John Till are running games set in Tekumel. I supplied some miniatures, both lead and cardstock, to the guys, and got to see them in action Friday night. I had a lot of fun on my outing, and didn't have any issues with the old BP.

The convention, which has suffered for years from the relatively small size of the function space in their hotel, will be moving next year to a much larger venue with 38,000 square feet of conference pace - more then double the 13,000 square feet of this year's venue. Brett and John have been talking about doing a Tekumel-themed game room for the entire weekend, and I will support that effort any way I can. I have literally cases / boxes of event management materials here at The Workbench, from ID badge holders to label sheets to table easels, and all of this will be committed to the event if they want to use them.

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I've been having a lovely day, yesterday and today, sorting miniatures in the game room. I am in the throes of reorganizing the some 5,200 miniatures in my collection, into the primarily Tekumel collections (military / wargame and RPG oriented divisions), and the 'generic' collections of figures that are more oriented to the world-settings of the local 'indie' game authors / publishers.

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I have arrived on the Internet! I may have picked up my very own troll (see the "Spots the Space Marine" update from yesterday, in the 'comments' section), and I think this is great! From the vocabulary and syntax, this may be a guy who was trolling both Frothers (Frothersunite.uk) and LAF (the Lead Adventure Forum) under a different name. I'm amused, really.

I feel really honored that my stand on the "Spots" issue has garnered this kind of Internet attention; I've never had a resident troll before, and I promise to love him and keep him and pet him and hug him and call him George.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Games Workshop, "Spots The Space Marine", and Gary Gygax

The reviews are good.
Saturday morning here at The Workbench, and it's time for the weekly news bulletin about the hottest news story in the game industry...

As reported here, the e-book version of "Spots The Space Marine" is back up on Amazon.com after the Electronic Freedom Foundation got involved; we got our hard copy from Barnes and Noble, and it'll be going off to the author shortly to be autographed. Reviews of the book have been good, and we suggest that you have a look at the author's web site for more of her work:


In what's a startling development by any standard, Games Workshop has removed their Facebook page. They didn't just pull off the goofy statement that they made about this issue, but the whole thing. Leading PR pundits think it was because of the huge number of very negative comments being posted by people on their Facebook page by outraged people; me, I think it was because of the decline in value of GW's stock over the past couple of weeks over this issue. Down four points as of a week ago, and that's real money...

And, I'd like to state once again, I am a strong supporter of reasonable use of trademarks, copyrights, and IP rights. I am not a supporter of bullying.

Let me tell you all a little story; yes, it's "Storytime with Uncle Chirine"!

A long time ago, and far, far away, there was a game company. It had started out as a very little game company, but with a lot of hard work and luck it got to be a very big game company. Along the way, as it got bigger and bigger, it hired people who weren't gamers. One of these people woke up one day and discovered that other people were writing about the big game company, and mentioning the company's IP by name. "Aha!" thought this worthy, "I'll use our trademarks to stop these people in their tracks!!!" So, he made sure that the big game company had indeed filed some trademarks, and sent out lots and lots of fiercely worded Cease and Desist letters to the people he had found using the big game company's IP.

One of the people who got this C & D letter happened to live in the same city that the big game company was located in, so he took his letter in to talk to the big game company about the issue. The sender of the letter told the guy that if he continued to use the big game company's IP, the big game company would sue him into the dirt.

"So," the guy says, "I take it you want me to reprint all my business cards?"

"Yes," he was told, "we own the trademark!"

So the guy pulls out his business card and his picture ID and hands them to the big game company guy. The business card says:

Gary Gygax - President - TSR, Inc.

"Now," said Gary, "did you really trademark my name without telling me, sent me a Cease and Desist letter forbidding me to use my own name, and expect me to pay you a royalty? Really?"

(Story told to me by Gary Gygax over lunch before a TSR stockholders' meeting.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Weekly Update for February 10th, 2013 (sorry I'm late!)

Professor M. A. R. Barker's old office at the University of Minnesota,
the day they demolished the building. I saved a chunk of it, too.
My apologies for being a day late with this update; I got called into work for a twelve-hour stint overnight yesterday  to try and deal with this past weekend's storm. About four inches of snow and rain, with predictable results.

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As previously mentioned, the e-book version of "Spots the Space Marine" is back up on Amazon.com after the author, M. C. A. Hogarth, got some pretty high-powered help. We ordered a copy from Barnes and Noble, and I am looking forward to seeing it; it'll be a paper copy, but I prefer those. If I may, I'd also like to refer you to her wiki about this matter, which is at:


Because I feel so strongly about this issue, I have created a new tag for posts about it - 'space marine' - which will help you locate posts about the book here on the Workbench. I should note that it will not take you to posts about science fiction miniatures made by a UK company; I will not be posting about that, as it's something I have no interest in, having never played the game.

Friday, February 8, 2013

More on Games Workshop and "Spots the Space Marine"


I am happy to be able to report that Amazon.com has replaced the e-book version of "Spots the Space Marine" on their site; may I suggest you might want to have a look for this book, and that if you like it to support the author by purchasing a copy either there or on SmashWords. Thanks!

M. C. A. Hogarth has done a podcast interview about this issue, which I'd like to suggest is worth watching:


May I also suggest looking in at the BBC story about this as well?



I've ben asked why this is such an important story, and why I'm so worked up about it. Well, here's a few reasons:

1) I support the responsible use of trademark and copyright law to encourage authors and artists in their work. GW seems to think that using it to bully indie authors is responsible behavior; I think not, and so do quite a few lawyers who are offering her their help.

2) I have some very personal reasons why I support Ms. Hogarth:

    I'm now 57 years old.

    I read my first science fiction and fanasy books when I was ten years old.


    I went to my first science fiction convention when I was fourteen years old.

    I grew up with people like Isaac Asimov, Robert E. Heinlein, Cliff Simak, Gordon R. Dickson, Larry Niven, Poul Anderson, Robert Asprin. Forrest J. Ackerman, and Lin Carter. I read their books, talked to them at conventions, and became a much better and enculturated person for it.

    I became involved in gaming in 1975. I worked with and for David L. Arneson, and with and for Prof. M. A. R. Barker. I was a founding member of GAMA, the gaming business and trade show organization. If you've read Jon Peterson's "Playing at the World", his book about the origins of role-playing games, you've read about my life.

    I've been a 'fan' for a very long time; I've won awards for my costumes, helped run over 500 conventions, and ran a major department of the World Con committee several times. I ran the largest and financially most successful game convention here in the Twin Cities, and I still run games for the Aethervox Gamers as well. I've been 'Chirine ba Kal', "that guy from Tekumel", for over thirty years.

    I have, one might say, 'been around the block' a few times.

    I have four adopted daughters who came to me through and because of all of the above; they chose to be my family, because they thought that Janet and I were worth it. Because of them, and my brand-new grandson (three weeks old!), I'm supporting Ms. Hogarth; I've tried to teach my family to be good and decent people, and I prefer to lead 'from the front' and by example.

3) And one very important reason:

    My brother, Steven, was a Marine; he was on guard duty in Beruit when it happened. Ms. Hogarth gives up a portion of her royalties to a charity for wounded soldiers. Enough said, I think.

Thanks for your time.

yours, Chirine



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Games Workshop's Legal Department Is After You!!!


By order of Games Workshop(TM), you are no longer allowed to use the words "space" and marine" in any combination, in any media, and in any way. These words are trademarked by Games Workshop(TM), and you must not use them without the express permission and under the provisions of  the Intellectual Property Policies(c)(TM) of Games Workshop(TM).

What the heck is all this about?

This: http://mcahogarth.org/?p=10593

The issue has gone viral on the Internet in the past 48 hours, and there's going to be a lot of hoo-hah about it for quite a while. Mind you, I happen to be a strong advocate of both copyright and trademark protection, but there's a hard way to do this and an easy way to do this; see also the brilliant letter sent by the lawyers representing the Jack Daniels whisky brand:

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/jack_daniels_cease-and-desist_letter_goes_viral_for_being_exceeedingly_poli

From my point of view, as both a founding member of GAMA and as a gamer, I think somebody in Nottingham needs to have some words with the lawyers that the company has on retainer; this is shaping up to be a massive public relations nightmare.

Lordy, Lordy; what a nightmare...

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, Feburary 3rd, 2013


The hottest of hot news this time around is that with the aid of new medications and a whole lot of sleep this weekend - I took the night (Sunday into Monday, my 'day') off, and I have dropped from an all-time non-surgery high of 201 over 100 on Tuesday night of last week to an all-time low of 124 over 75 last night. I am very pleased about this, as it looks like I might now be around for a while longer.

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The brutal cold here in the Twin Cities these past two weeks has taken a terrible toll on my stamina, and I have been pretty exhausted for most of the time. Warmer weather is on the way, and I'll be more active as time goes on. We did lose the furnace last week to a faulty sequencing switch, which meant that I had to abandon the basement for a while as it was simply too cold to work in, but the heat is back on and work has restarted on a number of projects.

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I am delighted to announce that my book, "To Serve The Petal Throne", has reached a milestone of sorts, with 69,695 words in 168 pages of Word Document manuscript now complete. I *think* I have another 250,000 words to go, with some estimates of the size of the book totaling 500,000 words by the time I'm done. Plans are to include bespoke artwork and photographs, courtesy of the wonderful new on-line and print-on-demand technologies.

"So," I have been asked,"what's this book about?"

It's about well over a decade of gaming in Tekumel with it's creator. I'm not doing a 'factual history' or 'academic dissertation', complete with footnotes and done to a high standard of academic rigor; I am working from both my game notes from all those years - every Thursday Night at 7:30 p.m., come what may - and the multitude of audio tapes I made of the game sessions in the latter years when I could afford cassette tapes. I am also working from some forty years of published materials that Phil and the rest of us did, and I'm tying all of that material into the book as well so people can see how everything fitted together for us as we gamed with Phil. What I want to do is present his view of his world as he presented it to us, and how we reacted to that presentation.

Now, I should say that I am editing out all of the "pass the chips", "where's the cookies', and "who brought the root beer tonight" parts, and giving you Phil's world as Phil played it. A lot of the book, especially the dialog, is written exactly as it happened all those years ago; a lot more is based on all of the conversations I had with Phil over all those years. All I'm trying to do, really, is tell Phil's stories as they happened with and to us; no more, no less.

There will be some indexing, so you can follow the plots and tell who's who, but this book is being written to be enjoyed; I hope you'll laugh once and a while, maybe cry a bit on occasion, and get more then one or two thrills along the way.