Saturday, January 2, 2016

Ending 2015, Beginning 2016 - Observations and Changes

The old Dell, about to be replaced with the new Mac laptop.

It's the very bottom of the old year, and the very top of the new. I do have some news as to where I'm going this year, and I thought that sharing it with you all might not be a bad idea. I have been very quiet, this past year, as a lot of real-life stuff  has taken me away from gaming and blogging.

My department at my work is being very reorganized, with a lot of changes in both people and schedules. The process is continuing, but there's light at the end of the tunnel.

The Missus is still cancer-free, for which we are grateful; she'd like to thank all of you for your very kind thoughts and wishes over this past year.

As I reported earlier this year, I was asked by Luke Gygax to come down to Lake Geneva to run a room full of Tekumel-based programming for Gary Con, to be held at the beginning of March this year. I submitted a proposal for this to Luke, and he accepted it. I formed a working group of Tekumel fans to help me put this together, and got a great response from Tekumel fans from all over the United States. I really appreciated this, as while I'm very good at running miniatures games and Braunsteins, I think I'm more then a little weak on the RPG side of the house.

(Some players may feel differently; thank you for your compliments!)

Luke's concept for the room, which I thought was a really great idea, was to continue his dad's high regard for Tekumel by providing a space where Tekumel's fans could run games and present programming to introduce and explain Phil's creation to all kinds of gamers, old and new. This would build on what I did at Gary Con this past year, and take advantage of the much larger hotel space that Gary Con was moving into for this year's convention. My brief was to provide four full days of programming, on four tables, and to have something running at all times. I put together two RPG tables, one miniatures table, one 'multi-use' table that could be used for board games and RPGs, and an 'events screen' to show videos about Prof. Barker and his world. (I was also asked, by Paul Stormberg of 'Collectors' Trove, to provide a display in the "Legends of Wargaming"area about Dave Sutherland.) As I posted earlier this past year here on this blog, this is the draft schedule that the working group of fans came up with, as shown on my magnetic display boards:

Each table has a different color;
each GM or event has a different color and symbol as well.

The daily 'black bar' bar is the video display,
with the various video programs indicated below it.
One of the cornerstones of Luke's planning for this event was asking me to contact the Tekumel Foundation and extend his specific invitation to be a part of this event; Luke thought that this invitation would be good for the event, and get the Foundation some good exposure for Tekumel and for their efforts. I duly contacted the Tekumel Foundation with this invitation, and got an e-mail back saying that they would get back to me.

I had had issues with using an LCD projector at Gary Con this past year, due to the lighting conditions, and so for this event I wanted to have active displays that would not suffer from ambient lighting issues. The Missus, Queen of the Internet, found me some very good bargains, and I allocated the various screens to the different areas: the 42" screen that had the most power (in lumens) would show the Dave Sutherland PowerPoint display throughout the convention in the "Legends of Wargaming" area; the 40" LCD screen would provide the display for the various videos in the room; and the 32" screen would be used as needed for the 'multi-use' table. I also got all of the 'convention trade show booth' equipment and decor items that I'd built up over the years all sorted out and prepped for the event.

I also contacted several companies that had had historical connections with Tekumel, and invited them to participate in the events in the Tekumel room; I got a tremendous response from all of them, with offers of events and assistance. I made sure to keep Gary Con informed of what I was doing, to make sure that I was not exceeding what Luke had asked me to do.

All of this was moving along very nicely when I got a phone call from Gary Con, stating that Dr. Victor Raymond, the President of the Tekumel Foundation, was raising very serious objections to this event. As I understood it, Dr. Raymond was stating that only the Tekumel Foundation had the legal right to run events such as this one at conventions, and that if the event was to take place he and only he was to be the sole coordinator for the event. I took this information back to the working group, and everyone emphatically stated that if this was to be the case, then they would not participate in the event and would not be attending Gary Con. I thus lost all of the event and logistical support that was needed to make this event happen.

Over the next few months, Luke Gygax attempted to negotiate some sort of compromise with Dr. Raymond, and I attempted to see what was 'the art of the possible' in the working group. Lawyers got involved, and I had to spend a lot more time on this matter then I had expected to - and the expenses for running the event were also increasing dramatically, with all the requirements and conditions being placed on Gary Con by the Tekumel Foundation.

(What I did not know about at the time was the ongoing legal disputes between various members of the Gygax family, and how this affected the situation. I hope that these matters get resolved, and soon; I would not like to say any more about this, out of respect to the people involved and to Gary himself.)

After we'd all put so much time and effort into this event, I finally had to draw the line and cut our losses; I won't be going to Gary Con this year, and neither will quite a number of the people in the working group. I'm in the process of scrapping and disposing of a lot of materials that we'd bought for this event; The Missus got the 32" for the living room, I got the 40" for the game room, and we're donating the 42" to someone as we don't have a use for it. Most of the 'trade show' stuff will get sold as well, as I don't have a use for it here at the house.

Now, I think there are some positive aspects to this affair; Gary Con gets a room back for their programming, the Tekumel Foundation gets total and absolute control of their 'brand identity' (as Dr. Raymond puts it), and I get my all of my disposable vacation time (two weeks) and disposable income (about $2,500) for 2016 back. I also don't have to maintain and store all of the resources and assets that I had been holding for this event, which will clear out both the garage and the basement of a lot of stuff.

(Some Tekumel fans, such as the ones who so enjoyed my game and talks last March might be disappointed, but I can't control that - sorry.)

So, for this coming year, I will be concentrating on my writing, and my model work. It's what I enjoy, and I am looking forward to some 'quality' time. I am looking forward to getting my play-by-(e)mail miniatures campaign up and running, as this was swept aside in the fracas. And I can always be e-mailed, of course...


  1. Best wishes for 2016 to you and your wife. Continuing excellent news on the cancer front. Hope you can find the time for more gaming this year, and posting them up here with a plethora of pictures (always a regular stop on my daily jaunts around the Interwebs). Take care!

    1. Thank you! I'll pass the good wishes along to The Missus; she's been pretty down and depressed this past year, what with all the health issues and stress. I've had a pretty bad year in gaming, after the great fun I had in Lake Geneva, and I'm hoping to reverse that trend this year. I'll take more photos, too, as I start on some new projects.

  2. My best wishes for the new year. My deepest regrets for yet another bad experience. I know that lawyers can cause problems with anything they touch, but personally I don't see how they can stop a group of gamers from playing whatever games they want to. I can run Call of Cthulhu games non-stop at any convention I want to, without anyone's permission. Let me state clearly that I need nothing to continue playing in Tekumel, in Middle Earth, or in Barsoom. And I'll run thise games anywhere I damn well please.

    1. Thank you for the good wishes! It was pretty depressing to go from triumph to farce, but that's the way it goes sometimes. We just simply had to cut our losses, as all the fanfaronade and posturing took all the fun out of the idea of the trip for The Missus and I; it was going to cost a lot of time and money to do this, and to do it well, and all of our support collapsed when the Foundation got involved.

      Dr. Raymond has had some pretty serious issues with me personally, over the decades. He once told me that told me that "Because you do everything you do so well, you make me look bad." I've always been baffled by this, but a mutual friend who has known us both for nigh unto thirty-five years put it very trenchantly: "You make his pee-pee wilt." I think that's too bad, but I don't seem to be able to change that for him.

      I felt the most badly for Luke and the Gary Con folks, for getting distracted and annoyed by all this. They have enough problems, and we felt that we didn't need to add to them with this.

      So it goes. Let's get back to some gaming, shall we?

  3. What a sad, sad outcome. I've worked with and managed a lot of lawyers, both corporate and IP, over the last 10-15 years. Based on that experience I suspect the lawyers aren't the problem. Lawyers answer questions and give advice. If the person hiring the lawyers doesn't ask the right questions and can't or won't decide which advice to reject and which to accept, that's when you have a problem. But the problem isn't a legal problem. It's a management (or lack of management) problem.

    1. Exactly. I've had to deal with a lot of legal folks over the years, especially since Phil passed away, and I have found this to be very true. The lawyers are there to give advice, and sometimes their prudent advice gets ignored in favor of personal issues. In this case, the lawyers were not the problem; the personalities were. I had much the same thing happen to me some years back with a publishing company that felt that it owned what's in my brain, and I had all sorts of threats of legal action from them that we had to deal with.

      For some reason, which I don't even pretend to understand. what's in my brain - what I know about Tekumel - seems to be both a threat and a prize to quite a surprising number of people. Control of my brain seems to be very important for these folks; if you happen to find out why, please let me know, as I'd like to clear up the mystery.

  4. Good news re your wife's health and best wishes to you both.

    1. Thank you! I'll pass that along to Herself!

  5. I wish you and your dear wife a great 2016! It sounds like you are off to a good start with some positive attitude. Looking forward to hearing about more games and project from the Workbench.

    I did not manage to run a Tekumel game during 2015, so I put my hope on 2016 instead.

    1. Thank you! I am looking forward to the coming year as well - for the first time in over thirty years, I do not have to provide the support that a great many people have come to expect from us. I can now concentrate on the things that interest me and my friends, and I'm really pleased with that.

      I think that the best part of all this will be cleaning out the house and garage. A lot of people have asked us for help with things over the years, as we're both skilled craftspeople with a lot of theatrical and production experience, and then left us storing all the stuff after they lost interest.

      Need the interior sets for a Klingon D7 battlecruiser? :)