Sunday, March 31, 2013

Weekly Update for Sunday, March 31st, 2013

The "Indiegogo Girls", from Mike Burns in Leeds;
On the job as Sitre, Menwi, and Ten'er from
"To Serve The Petal Throne".

Warmer weather has finally arrived, and with it the demolition of the Game Room and the Game Lounge here at the little house has been done with speed and dispatch. We're facing an absolute deadline of June 17th, 2013 to get the rooms rebuilt and ready; our wonderful daughter is arriving from Zurich with her equally wonderful husband, and we need a place to store them in between social engagements and game sessions. So, out with the old! In with the new! And, I think it'll be quite comfortable. Torch lamp sconses from IKEA, 81mm mortar bombs from the Imperial Japanese Army (collected the hard way by my dad in New Guinea in 1944) turned into lamps, rugs, mats, comfy cushions, and even a small fridge - it's just like a truly bizarre hotel room!

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In medical news, I am still stable. Exhausted, but stable. The Missus, who had her birthday yesterday, is stable, but at a very low level. We aren't dead yet, not by a long shot.

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Mike Burns has had to delay the opening of his new edition of his Indiegogo campaign due to an attack on one of the sculptors, Kevin Adams; you can get the latest news about both the campaign and how Kevin is doing at:


I really enjoyed painting these figures, and I like them; they have what I call "charm". They are a little petite, being 'true 25mm' figures, but that works for them in my games as they're supposed to be serving girls in their late teens. The smaller size makes that clear on the game table.

The figures are very nice; crisp and clean, and they primed and painted up almost by themselves. Bases are my usual Litko plywood, with the usual tempera paint; some white glue brushed on and a dip in the golden sands of Aegyptus, and Ptolomy's your uncle!

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While poking around in the game room and the game lounge, I've come across all sorts of wild and wonderful stuff. Aside from the plush Vringalu that I had gotten for Phil during his last illness from IKEA, as well as my own plush Vringalu (IKEA) and Hmellu (The Missus) and The Missus' collections of all her old unpainted RAFM "Dr. Who" and "Elfquest" figures in their original boxes, I was delighted to see once again the really neat "Meso-American Temple City" from Stonehouse Miniatures. (It was on top of the crate where the model of Castle Tilketl is stored.)

If you haven't looked at their website, may I suggest having a good long look at their 'Aztec / Mayan' section? The main page is at:


The photos of the Temple City set on the site really do not do the set justice! We have the large BR-119 set, with a lot of extras from the rest of the line, and it's really been extremely useful in our games. The pyramids are modular, as is the entire set, and hollow - I've used them with interior details from various sources, and they work really well in games. The entire set is well-thought-out, very - infinitely, almost! - modular, and finished quite nicely; it can be used 'as is' right out of the box. The set is also molded from expanded foam and very light and easy to transport; detail items like the stairways and sacrificial altars are cast in resin for durability, but are still very light and handy.

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I also found the 114" Sakbe Road, the one for the table for the Battle of Anch'ke, as well as the large 240" Sakbe Road set. I ask you; who but Yours Truly would have two Sakbe Road sets in stock?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Readers' Requests - Fasiltum, the City of the Chiming Skulls, or, Location, Location, Location!

Jaisalmer Fort; yes, Phil had been there.

For those of you who have been down the Sakbe Road through the desert in the eastern part of Tsolyanu, you have probably been to the home of those perennial pests, the Vriddi clan of Fasiltum, the Cith of the Chiming Skulls. The locals, who have a habit of hanging up the craniums of people they don't like on the eaves of the buildings with little chimes in them, are possibly the most annoying people on the planet; that's my opinion, of course, and is caused by the Vriddi's being insufferably ancient, insufferably aristocratic, and insufferably snobbish.

The city itself is only moderately ancient; due to the Vriddi habit of revolting against the rule of the Tlakotani dynasty of the Tsolyani Imperium, the place gets razed to the ground every now and then in a futile attempt to teach the Vriddi just who runs the Seal Imperium and sits on the Petal Throne. It never works, they do it all over again in each new generation, and it gets both old and annoying.

One of the really cool things about gaming with Phil was that he'd frequently go off on excursions into memory, and describe places and things that he'd seen and relate them to their context as part of Tekumel's background. His tales of crawling through the ruins of the Red Fort in Delhi scared the crap out of us, as his descriptions of wandering through endless dark and dusty passages with an oil lamp and getting hopelessly lost were obviously the model for our own treks through the Underworlds of Phil's cities. It did not help that his airy "Well, I found my way out because I knew the differences between the various calligraphy styles of the Mughal dynasties" was going to be applied to us in very short order.

So, Fasiltum. May I suggest that you avail yourselves of The Wonders Of The Internet and those of the Indian Tourism Board:


and


A Google search will generate enough photos to make any party of players and their GM happy; if you really want to give the proper impression, may I suggest one of those nice bamboo wind chimes (for the sound of the skulls) and some nice metal wind chimes (for the bell chimes) and a fan set on 'low' off in one corner of the game room...





Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, March 24th, 2013




The local 'flu epidemic caught up with us this week, and yesterday's festivities had to be cancelled when we dropped below the number of people needed for a viable game session. So it goes! There will be other days, and other game sessions....

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I am still floating around in the 'human normal' range for my blood pressure; no complaints, there.

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I have tentatively booked table space at The Source for a game on June 8th, 2013; I'll report further as we get closer to the day.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

No Game or Party Today - Too Many Sick People!


Today's events were cancelled due to people being sick. So it goes; there will be other days, and other game sessions.

For your amusement:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jtie6r27JeU

Friday, March 22, 2013

Readers' Requests - Running An Event

Phil and the Usual Suspects, in 1987.
Just about all of these people were the models for the 'character archetypes' in "Gadsasiyal", by the way.
This is the start of a new series I'll be doing for all of you, "Readers' Requests"; ask me a question, and I'll try to answer it.

From The Malcontent, on March 6, 2013 at 7:54 PM:
I know this may sound silly, but could you tell some more about what's needed to run an event? My local scene is nearly non-existent and I was thinking about running some small events to try and create a community of gamers. But I have no idea about any of it and the project just seems overwhelming at this point.

Right! Let me try to give you an idea of what you can do that's both fun and 'doable'!

First off, doing a game event is really no different - or difficult!!! - then doing a kids' birthday party. Yes, you have to have a venue, you have to do some planning, and you have to do some 'advertising'. My advice is to take it in small bites, be sensible, and be realistic. Do what you can do, based on your available resources, and you'll do just fine.

First off, half your work is already done; from your question, you already have a good idea of what you want to do. It'll sound bizarre, but an amazing number of people don't do this before they hold an event, and everyone suffers as a result.

Second, a place to run the event. Think realistically, here. If you think you will only get a few people, try a local library's community room or other meeting room. I run smaller events here at the house, as The Missus lets me have half the basement as a game room and game lounge for guests. About all you need is a room with a table, and many local libraries will be happy to have you run a meeting there. Likewise, see if you have local game shops, or comics shops that sell games; see if they might have a table in the store that you could run a game on. If they do, this is probably your best possible venue. If not, then look at the library or even your living room.

The worst thing you can do is try to book a meeting room at a local hotel for your first time out; it's expensive, as the hotel will give you the room space for very little and then charge you big bucks for everything else - including coffee and brownies!

Third, a game or games. Think about what you hear from people; what do they like to play? Plan on that, as a 'hook' to get people's attention, and make sure you have a good person to run it for you. Do not plan on running both the event and the game yourself; speaking from my forty-some years of doing things like this, it just doesn't work. If you do want to run a game, have a second person who can fill in as the event host - you will need somebody to answer questions, at the very least.

When I run games, the game is always being interrupted by on-lookers asking me where I got the figures or about Tekumel; it's no fun for the players, and no fun for me either, as the game usually really suffers from this. Get a spare person.

Fourth, ADVERTISE. If people don't know you are having an event, they won't show up. Do a simple flyer, an ordinary one-sided single page; computers, these days, have plenty of stock images and such. One word of warning - emphasis 'games' over 'war'. Talk about fun and games, not dismemberment and killing; you will turn more of your intended audience off by doing the latter, even if your proposed game is based on something like "WarYouKnowWhat Forty K". Keep it simple! Give the date, the place, the time, and that there will be fun. Think positive, and think like a movie mogul trying to sell a film.

Your flyers should get put up on notice boards all over your local area; colleges, game / hobby shops, comics and bookstores, even local supermarkets and retail outlets. Do a web page or blog, and make sure that URL is on the flyer. Update with solid news regularly; blogs with 'smoke and mirrors' masquerading as 'content' don't help you.

Fifth, have everything ready for the event before the event. Plan on being ready one week out from the day, and have everything packed and ready to go. Make lists, and check things off on the lists. Games? Dice? Miniatures? List everything, and have it in boxes ready to go.

Nametags! Your name, with 'Host' on it, will help everyone a lot. Have 'Host' tags for anyone doing the job, and you will have a much smoother time of it at the event.

Sixth, get there early. Don't even think of being late to your own party; you will look like an idiot, and people will leave. make sure that people have fun playing, even if you have to 'bend' the rules of the game - as I normally expect to do in running miniatures games - to see that the game runs quickly and smoothly. The people at the event are not experts, or experienced gamers!!! Make sure that they have a basic understanding of basic rules, and then be prepared to be flexible. If you are doing an RPG, don't have the players roll up characters; provide pre-generated ones, and then let them 'shop' for their equipment.

Be flexible, and be patient. Stay calm, enjoy watching people discover a wonderful hobby!

So, that's my introduction; feel free to ask more questions!!!





Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, March 17th, 2013

The goal of all the clearance work. 

Time once again for the weekly round-up of what's been going on in the game room!

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I am still stable in the 'normal human' range for my blood pressure, and I am actually starting to get around a bit. The Missus, on the other hand, is due for another MRI tomorrow afternoon to see if there's anything that can be found to help her declining health.

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Major amounts of work done yesterday to get the game room and game lounge cleared and ready for guests this coming Saturday. It's a 'triple-header', after all, and I want to do something a little more special then usual for the players. The day will have a nice bid and very chaotic miniatures / RPG / "Braunstein" game in honor of both Phil and Dave as well as the Annual Tsolyani New Year's party. The decor will be tasteless, the miniatures painted, and the game table pretty durn nice - if I do say so myself! I will take lots of pictures, we'll see if we can't get the game up on Google Plus, and I'm hoping that a Good Time will be had by all.

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I'm starting a new 'department' - "Readers' Requests" - where I take topics that you folks send me via e-mail or in your comments and doing what I can to explain what I think about them. I have two articles in draft form at the moment, and I'll get those up and posted here as soon as I can.

Thank you all for your interest, too!!!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

It's the New Year!!! Party in the Lava Lounge!!!

The Lava Lounge, with two of the 12" to the foot miniatures.
Note very realistic fake flaming Tiki Skull With Glowing Eyes;
no real flames are permitted in the Game Room.

Yes, it's that time of the year, again, where we're in the five holiday days between 2,394 A. S. and 2,3,95 A. S.! According to the Long Count of Years, started by Prof. Barker in 1974 and which I've kept up for all this time, we're just at the New Year's holiday, which here on this particular planet happens at the vernal equinox. So, as I have been doing for quite some time, quote:

"The regularly scheduled game session (either that on the second or fourth Saturday in a given calendar month) falling directly after the Terran vernal equinox shall be designated as the Official Tsolyani New Year's Party, and that the game room shall be decorated in as an authentic manner as possible given the unlimited amounts of bad taste available and a really cool miniatures game shall be set up for the delight and delectation of the assembled gamers."

That's Saturday, March 23rd, at the usual time and place. Contact me via my e-mail address for more information.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Yes, it's an 'Eye'.
Yes, it 'works'.

A very fun game session yesterday - see the previous post! - and a good time.  I'd been asked for some reference photos of an 'Eye', those handy technological devices of the Ancients, so I dug out the prototype of the 'working' ones that I'd made some years ago. The 'real' ones are a ceramic / metallic silvery-grey, but I paint 'em after I make and test 'em.

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Very, very tired this week after the recent storms; I'm good on the blood pressure, but the old stamina just isn't there in the winter's cold. Really looking forward to warm weather!!! Still in the 'normal human' range on the BP, so I won't complain.

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The three 'Ancient Egyptian Harem Girls from the Mike Burns Indiegogo campaign have arrived, as I may have mentioned, and are now on their bases and waiting for warmer weather to be primered and then painted. I am really fond of these figures, and you can see painted examples of them at:


This gallery also has some great photos of the actual molds being used, as well as some concept art and sculpts for future releases in this range.

The girls are 'true 25 mm' as they stand on their bases; 25 mm from bottom of foot to the eye level, and about 27 - 28 mm tall over-all. They are very petite figures, but look good next to the figures that Howard Fielding of the Tekumel Project is producing; these are supposed to be petite girls, after all, no strapping warrior princesses.

Wonderful figures, and I can't wait to paint them!

Fun in the swamps!

The party advances towards the potato chips.

Oce aagin, the nice IKEA table cloths ran red with blood as Our Heroes explored a small island near Penom. They ran afoul of some of the local wildlife, and got a very sharp and messy reminder that humans are not at the top of the food chain on Tekumel. Two dead, several wounded, and lots of fun for everyone.

As there was some confusion about the specifics of the marching order and the deployment of the players, I got out some suitable figures and a few loose trees to make things easier for players and GM. These are my favorites for depicting player - characters, the "Dead Earth" figures from David Soderberg at Bronze Age Miniatures. I love these figures; dynamic poses, open hands on many for custom weapons, and fun to paint. They have a lot of the indefinable quality I call 'charm' in miniatures, and I'm very find of them.

For those amused by such details, the ground cover on the Litko 30mm round plywood bases is glued-down used tea granules from the tea-maker of Mrs. Ambereen Barker. There may be a little of that old Professor M. A. R. Barker DNA mixed in there, letting Phil grace the miniatures table; I'd like to think so, as I think it would amuse the heck out of him. Jon Till has more photos at his "Fate SF" blog; I believe there's a link to him over in the left-hand column.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Braunstein Sets Sail On The Uncharted Seas of Google Plus!

Computers! I love 'em!

I had a vision, the other night, right after I whacked my head into a concrete beam.  Since I am planning on running one of my classic "Braunstein"-style games on March 23rd, I thought that it it might be amusing to put the game up on Google Plus for people to look at and quite possibly participate it. If you're interested drop me a line, or just have a look; I'll be posting more on this as we get closer to the moment.

For 'The Malcontent': big post on the way for you, to answer your question!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Another dull, boring game run by Yours Truly

Taking it from the top, I am happy to be able to report that I am still stable in the 120 - 130 range for my blood pressure. The Missus had an MRI done this past week, and we're still waiting to hear if they found anything interesting.

I am also slowly getting back up to speed, some five months after The Incident. I am operating at about 70 percent of my old capacity, which for a guy who had his head opened up and pumped out is pretty good. So I think, anyway.

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I've had a very good 'weekend', with two very good days off from work. Friday saw another perfect shopping experience at the local IKEA, where I get all my odd lighting and Tekumel furnishings needs, and then Saturday was spent in the game room going through the entire miniatures collection. I have now re-based all of the miniatures as needed; All of the 'RPG' figures are now on their 25mm round bases, the 'unarmored / no armor' (This is a new classification, in "Qadardalikoi"; no need to re-base old figures if you don't want to!) figures on the 30mm rounds I settled on this past summer, and a lot of the odds and ends (like the huge number of Undead) are all now based properly.

The entire collection of some 5,000 figures (Yes, I finally counted them all!) has also now been completely reorganized; you can see the storage system in the photo. Everything has been taken out of the trays, sorted, and put back into the trays in a logical and orderly fashion. I will be publishing an index / bin location chart as soon as I can, once I figure out what I need to have on it.

The idea is to be able to run games at short notice; instead of fumbling around looking for that perfect figure for Capt. Harchar's cook, one simply pulls out the tray marked "Sailors and Marines" and there he is with his red fez and meat cleaver. ("Iron Chef", this ain't.) The entire rest of the miniature figures have also gotten this treatment, and I will be doing the same with the scenery / terrain / Underworld items that occupy the entire north wall of the game room.

I am also happy to announce that the 'Missuma River Yacht Club", our collection of boats and ships, is also moving into a new harbor. I have obtained a set of matching boxes that I'll be installing partitions in, to fit each hull, and with compartments for masts and sails. The entire fleet will be refitted as needed with short lengths of brass tube on the decks to hold the new removable masts I'm adopting as standard for the fleet. many of the older ships and boats - some of which date to the middle 1980s, and are from long-vanished manufacturers - were built with fixed masts and sails, and they are - if I may say so myself, a real pain in the butt to store and transport. Separate masts will solve this problem, as well as allowing more options for derring-do and disasters at sea. I'm kind of pushing on this in advance of the David L. Arneson Memorial Maritime Miniatures Mayhem game, where I have to move the fleet to the venue.

The other big reason for all this reorganization is that I have a lot of miniatures coming in from Howard Fielding of The Tekumel Project, and I simply need the room in the shelves to store them. As Howard continues to go from strength to strength, I am culling out all the old 'substitute' figures that I used to buy - and never painted! Many of these are going to new homes, and I'll retain some for supporting the wonderful new 'indie' games that many of our talented locals are publishing.

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I am still working on the date and venue for this year's large game events. I'm calling around to local venues, and I'm also looking at doing something like JonCon, here in the Twin Cities. We did an event like this a year ago this past New Year's, and it worked out very well.

Organizing an event like this is, for us, pretty easy; I still have a huge inventory of 'event management' materials in storage, and we can use all that material (badge holders, table easels, poster holders, lighting, power cables, and all that kind of thing for running a comfortable and well-equipped event. Might as well get some use out of the stuff, and support our Tekumel GMs and friends at Con of the North next year as well.