Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Phil, hanging about with Undesirable People, 1987

It has been a very busy week, here at the Workbench - we're starting the run-up / pre-show work for the June 8th Braunstein game at The Source Comics and Games, and I am going to have a very busy month ahead of me. The big push will be for this week, as I have to get flyers for the game done and printed, and then off to the store for them to post and distribute. After that it gets easier; most of the game is a 'pre-packed' scenario, with the terrain and scenery already built and packed into my preferred plastic tubs. The miniatures are in their storage bins / drawers already, after a long week of sorting and repacking, so all I'll need to do is pull the bins and put them in the large transport boxes we have on hand. With a little luck, I will also have more of Howard Fielding's wonderful figures from his Tekumel Project to show off to people, and I'm really looking forward to that!

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Great game session yesterday, as the players in Rob's Tekumel campaign discovered why one does not go blindly into dark rooms without looking up. I really must get Amada Dee's wonderful 'Cardboard Heroes' versions of the Kayi assembled; we could have used them, yesterday.

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I had a doctors' visit yesterday, and I am - they say - doing fine. My next visit, assuming that my bloop pressure stays in the 'human normal' range, is in six months. The current medication regime is working nicely, from what I gather, and the medical folks seem happy with my progress.

Much warmer weather has finally arrived, much to my delight, and I've been well enough to actually get up and have a 'normal' day yesterday - why, I even got all of my flock of pink plastic lawn flamingoes back up on their spindly wire legs and placed front-and-center on the lawn. This past winter has been very hard on both myself and the flamingoes - way too cold, and way too much dense heavy snow. All of the snow is now gone, all of the flamingoes are back up in all their tasteless glory, and It's finally Spring.

Heck, I might be well enough to finally GM again!

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As mentioned in our last installment, the game room is finally rebuilt. I still have to slap a coat of paint on the walls, to cover / disguise the tacky fake panelling, but that's easy. The van will get down-loaded and repacked during the good weather, this coming month, and then the game lounge will be clear for the impending visit of my wonderful kids, Kerry and Zhodi.

Along the way, I have completely unloaded and reloaded the shelves full of miniatures; I am in the throes of doing a full and complete reorganization of all the miniatures collection, including the scenery and terrain bins. The idea is to reorganize the collection to function more efficiently during game sessions, and to make the game sessions flow more smoothly and the process of gaming more efficient. I like miniatures, but one of the problems that a number of people have with them is that the process of playing with them can often get in the way of playing with them.

So, the concept is to have the figures organized so that instead of - for example - getting Captain Harchar and his three mates out of one bin, and his rascally crew of reprobates out of another, one simply goes to the "Sailors and Marines" bin drawer and gets all of them in one fell swoop. (I can think of some customs officers who'd like to be able to do this.) Likewise, all of the player-character groups are now in their own bins; and, just because I can, all of the leading lights from my book "To Serve The Petal Throne" are now in their own bin. It's a lot easier to find stuff now, and I'm pretty dang pleased.

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Speaking of "To Serve The Petal Throne", I have updated the page in the left-hand column with the FAQ's and other information. Please do feel free to ask me more about this project, too!

I am currently in the midst of the Yan Koryani storming Castle Tilketl, with Korunme leading the desperate defense and Our Hero figuring out just where the 'secret' 'hidden' postern and escape tunnel is in the keep of the place. Dinner with Baron Ald, Lord Fsu Shi, and Lady Deq Dimani impends with after-dinner fisticuffs for your amusement.

Also on tap, Harchar gets shipwrecked due to what he claimed were 'navigational issues' (Dave Arneson was a good sailor, but a lousy navigator, and ran smack into the Southern Continent) and Chirine and Si Ni'te continue their obsession with hot baths. I have started on The Big Battles, as well as a small war or two; this is for those of you who are not as taken with hot baths as Our Hero is.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

It's Been A VERY Long Week, Thank You!, or, The Weekly Update for Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Legio XX Valeria Vicitrix shows those pesky folks across
The Wall why it's not a good idea to mess with Rome.
Or HBO, either.

It has, if I may be frank, a lousy week. On the good side, all of my relatives and friends in the greater Boston Metroplex have checked in, and all are safe and well. Very shaken, in some cases, but safe. On the bad side...

Well, you can guess the bad side; a whole lot of pain and suffering for people who didn't need it. Our hearts and prayers go out to them; we have our own First Responder here at The Workbench, our roomie Joe the Fireman, and we worry about him every time he goes to work.

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The heavy lifting in the game room and game lounge are done, much to my delight. The last major bit of work, moving the 36" wide rear projection monitor for the computer systems, was finally done last night and the thing is now hooked up and working. I also got the two rolling shelving units on the North Wall, the ones that hold the siege artillery park - I have a lot of artillery for Tekumel, let's be blunt - and the scenic items. I still have to build some shelves to moor the fleet of 25mm / 28mm boats, but at this stage of the project that's a pretty minor bit of carpentry. I'll have the room ready for our next game session on Saturday, as all I really need to do is pick up all the loose bits up off the floor, and I am pretty darn pleased at how well it's all going.

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I am also pleased to announce that despite all the stress of the recent incidents in the news, and the series of nasty winter storms we've been having of late here in the northwoods, I am still stable and in the 'normal' range for my blood pressure. Mind you, I'm on a set of medications that takes a while to cram down my gullet every morning and evening, but I can deal with that.

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As announced in the previous post, the draft Table of Contents for the book is now up on a page of it's own. Have a look, if you like.

Readers' Requests - "To Serve The Petal Throne"

Yours truly, in his 38 pounds of armor.

In response to a number of requests, I have added a "Projects" page with the current draft of the table of Contents of my little (well, all right, not so little!) book about life on Tekumel with Firu ba Yeker, "To Serve The Petal Throne"; it's off to the side, in the left-hand column for you to click on.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Sorry; I could not resist this photo of Chirine's galley afloat on Lake Hekellu.
(I am going to have to talk to the bosun about that light blue hull paint, though.)


Yesterday's game session was heaps of fun, with a full house as the marine recruits finally started discovering the Mysteries Of Their Island. Nobody got eaten by the local wildlife yesterday, which was a surprise, but the players have gotten very wary of trying to interact with the flora and fauna of their little home away from home.

I enjoyed it all immensely; must get some figures painted for them!!!

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One of my players posted to the Tekumel group on Yahoo about my book, "To Serve The Petal Throne", and so far we've gotten absolutely no response. I am hugely amused by this, actually; history repeats itself here, as our adventures with Phil in the original Thursday Night Group over the years were always regarded with Deep Suspicion by the 'orthodox' 'mainstream' of Tekumel gamers. We didn't do enough dice rolling for their tastes, and instead wasted our time with dumb things like miniatures, costumes, and artifacts. Sad to say, we still do the same old  things in the same old way; you'd think we'd have learned over the years that we're still "that bunch of freaks who do Tekumel" - or, as they say on the Intarwebz, "U R Doing It Wrong". Why, yes, I suppose we are; we make stuff up, and we have fun...

In order to accurately reflect the lack of interest in the book amongst 'real' Tekumel fans, I have moved the information about it and the new edition of my miniatures rules onto new pages and off the front page of this blog. Vox Populi, Vox Dei!!!

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The heavy lifting work in the Game Room and Game Lounge is done; I'm still sorting out tools and other small bits, but the big job is over. The Game Room is now permanently clear for gaming, and the lounge will be done this week. I am very pleased; I still have to sort out all the siege artillery, but once that's done all of the miniatures, scenery, and terrain will be in their new boxes and available for immediate use. Hurrah!!!

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Another week, and I'm still alive along with The Missus. "Better living through chemicals", as the old joke goes, as our medications keep us alive. My blood pressure is stable, in the 'normal human' range, and while I'm tired of the cold weather I can look forward to warmer days in the sun.



Saturday, April 13, 2013

Readers' Requests - Hekellu, the City on the Lake

View of the city from Chirine's galley

Hekellu, where I was the acting Governor for a while, is off on the eastern side of the Seal Imperium and just about as far out as you're going to get from the center of things in Bey Sy. (I exclude the city of Fenul, which alternates between Tsolyani and Salarvyani control when it's not being burnt down by the Ssu.) There's the map of the city that Phil did for me and which is posted on-line on Tekumel.com:


and the web has lots of pictures of it's analogue in India - Udaipur, which was the scene of the Bond film "Octopussy" (Don't miss the scenes with the rowing barge, which is still afloat and available for hire!) and is a city of forts and palaces nested in a surrounding set of lakes.

Water traffic, both licit and illicit, plays a big part in Hekellu's social and commercial life; there's a large open waterfront, as well as the ruins of the Old Palace, and rumors of a shallow and very soggy - under the water table, sorry to say - Underworld that connects the Old and New Palaces, some of the city wall towers, and a few of the Temples in town. The home barracks of the 32nd Imperial Medium Infantry, the Legion of the Traslucent Emerald, is located just outside the south side of town and a number of Temples have monastary / fortresses within a day's march of the city - the Monastary of the Fallen Leaves, dedicated to Lord Ksarul and manned by the Horokaingai (who are fanatic worshippers of Lord Vimuhla, who they regard as a mere poseur in the warfare business; The Lord of Flame appointed them to be Lord Ksarul's standard-bearers at the Battle of Dormoron Plain, and they stood form when Lord Vimuhla defected to the lords of Stability.)

See? You can learn something new here, every time!

Anyway, Hekellu is very much a city on the frontier, with opportunities for adventure to match. When I was here, there were a  number of very interesting ruins that never got explored as we were having to repress the locals on a daily basis. (The Young Master, for example, was a real pest.) Likewise, the shallow Underworld had some very interesting old shrines to Lord Vimuhla, of all beings, and I managed to find the time to explore several of them. The local Temple of Vimuhla is about what you'd expect in a medium-sized town, and about like that in someplace like Hauma or Katalal. I had to deal with a really bad case of sticky-fingers on the part of the local Administrative High Priest when Lord Takodai and I got there, but things were much better run and organized after I cut the guy's throat and tossed him into the sacrificial flame pit. (I hear the priests are still finding bags of kaitars in the odd corners and closets of the temple to this day. Idiot.)

Out east, of course, is the rather run-down and minor Sakbe road that leads to Sirsum; this runs along the river that runs back east into the Chaigari Protectorate, and is nothing to write home to Mother about on the best of days. I fought the Battle of Anch'ke at the village of the same name, about a day's march east of Hekellu, where I caught Phil and his tribal horde flat-footed (one of the very few times I ever got the better of Phil in a miniatures game!) and we reminded them just which of the Gods were on the side of which Big Battalions. We've refought Anch'ke since - it's one of my 'prepackaged' battles for running at events - and I'll get the photos posted on the Photobucket page if they are not already there.

So, and short look at Hekellu; there's more in "To Serve The Petal Throne", and I'll keep updating that as much as I can.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, April 7th, 2013

The 'before' picture of the Game Lounge

The 'before' picture of the Game Room

Demolition of the old versions of the Game Room and the Game Lounge is done; the furniture is moved, the mannequins with their costumes dusted off, and all the odds and ends of Gracious Tsolyani Living that have been piling up in the rooms have been all cleaned up and put away properly - scroll tubes, treasure chests (with treasure in them; I am detail-oriented, if nothing else!), and all the barware and serving equipment that I've been collecting for over thirty years has all been separated out and shelved.

The idea, that I'd had back in 2002 when I first stared this thing, was to provide a fully-equipped game room in the style of the gaming that I did in Prof. Barker's basement and on convention trips with Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax. Back in Ye Olden Dayes, we didn't have things like nice scenery; we used colored masking tape, and that looked as tatty as it sounds. So, the idea I had had was to have a place where anyone could run a game with anything and everything that might be useful, from dice to rulers to miniatures to scenery; I have found out the hard way, over the years, that if you don't have all the stuff you need for a game you are going to going to be sitting there at the game table waiting for the French to arrive so you can fight Eylau or something - and the player who's supposed to be there with the Old Guard has forgotten to show up...

Sigh.

Anyway, I'm in the process of refurbishing all that stuff we've been using in games, making room for all the new miniatures from Howard Fielding and The Tekumel Project, and generally cleaning up for the the next decade in gaming. It's been a lot of work, but I think it's worth it.

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In health news, I am still stable, and enjoying life. It's better then the alternative.

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Plans for the June 9th game event are firming up; e-mail me for the details. I will post more, here on the blog, when I have something that's a little better in the way of information.