Monday, May 29, 2017

Time To Put The Cards On The Table - Yours Truly Is Fed Up & Cheesed Off...

I took a much-needed day off yesterday, and by and large it was pretty nice. I did have a less-then optimal shopping experience at a big-box purveyor of consumer electronics - the old Onkyo tuner-selector-amplifier in the game room failed on start yesterday morning, which didn't surprise me in the least because the poor old thing was the Missus' from before we got married. Twenty-seven years of hard use, all across this continent, and I'm surprised that it lasted this long. So, off to get a replacement, which turned into quite the expedition; I had a good fifteen - twenty minutes in the store with no attention from the sales people (who were all chatting with each other, and not doing anything with the customers in the place) and after telephone consultation with Herself, we settled for the cheapest and most basic unit for the game room. It works fine, and will do what we want it to do, but the store missed an opportunity to 'up-sell the customer'. Discussing my dissatisfaction with the store proved to be impossible, as neither phone calls or their website led anywhere. So, we shrug our collective shoulders, and walk away; repeat sales there will be difficult for them...

Saturday's game was a lot of fun, and I truly enjoyed it; report and photos shortly. This was, I will be right up front about it, a game on my terms and not on other people's; I have made some decisions about some things that have been happening in my life over the last five years or so, and made some choices about my gaming. This has been precipitated by the event in Portland, to be blunt, and with your indulgence I'm going to take the velvet gloves off the iron fists and pull back the curtain to comment on a few things. Cards on the table time, as it were.

The Great Feud between the Arnesonians and the Gygaxians:

I'm tired of Dave's local supporters trying to stir up trouble down in Lake Geneva at Gary Con; I'll have no part of it, thank you, as I know quite well who did what when and I respect what those guys managed to do. There's been talk of doing a 'Dave Con' like Gary Con, but I doubt it'll ever happen; the people proposing this event have all the organizational ability of a colony of cherrystone clams. If Malia - or Luke and Ernie, for that matter - call, I'll be there for them, and not for the partisan fanatics. Get stuffed.

Religious Bigotry:

I've no patience for this. At all. I dropped an old friend of some forty years from my game group and from my life after she went on a tirade about 'Evangelical Christians' and how they were persecuting her. I hadn't seen any such activity, especially from the members of the game group who fit that description. For that matter, I'm Orthodox Christian, and was also Not Amused. I pointed all this out, and got another tirade to the same effect about 'The Burning Times". All right then; time to say goodby.

LGBTQIetc. Politics In Gaming:

On the one hand, the Tekumel Foundation's President claims that Tekumel is the one and only gay-friendly RPG setting, and that as "a bi-sexual person of color" only he can "properly interpret Tekumel" for the hoi polloi. On the other hand, the President of the North Country Gaylaxians, the Minnesota LGBTQIetc. F/SF fan group that puts on the Gaylaxicon convention, claims that Prof. Barker persecuted him because he's a a gay man, and that Phil hated him for being gay because the Professor was "a devout Muslim". I scent the smell of bovine fecal matter on the wind, as I never saw any of this in my years with Phil; it's now become a hot point in Tekumel gaming, and my response is to tell everyone to go out back and settle the issue amongst themselves. Not in my basement, and not with my support.

Sexual Harassment And Assault:

Not tolerated, not here, not ever. Period. Grow up, get a life, and find some maturity. You're not welcome here, or at any event that I support or participate in.

I've been asked, many times, about why I don't do conventions or other public events. These are some of the reasons why; the Missus and I have limits to our time, energy, stamina, and money, an we do not feel the need to facilitate and enable these kinds of behaviors.

End of rant. We now return to our regular programming. Thanks for your patience!

Memorial Day, 2017 - A Pause

It's Memorial Day, and as I usually do on this date I get a little reflective. I got lucky; I had two dads, and both of them had put it all on the line back in 1944 in the Pacific for what they believed in. It's fashionable in some circles, these days, to debate the morality of the Second World War but neither of them had any qualms about their part in it.

Today's photo is from a posting I did, some time back, about some people who run into burning buildings for a living, and didn't come back out. I had also posted something to the same effect on Facebook, and got a pretty unpleasant response from somebody I know saying "Who cares?". I do, having had a firefighter in my extended family who's still a good friend. The commenter is no longer in that category, and after a number of such comments from various people I simply walked away from Facebook. I have no time or patience for such things, or for such people, and I feel that there are better things I can be doing with my life. I don't miss it, and I'll have another post on this kind of nonsense in a few moments; I wanted to separate the upcoming commentary from this note, for reasons which will - I hope - become clear. After that, I'll be reporting on yesterday's game session, and getting some photos up for everyone.

So, while today is a holiday, please take a moment to remember the people who gave us all the opportunity to have it...

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Game room's ready! (Saturday, May 27th, 2017)

Today's game, looking north; general view
The Lost Ruins, ready for adventure!

Pyramids, towers, temples, and mysterious craters

The Underworld, waiting to be explored

The game lounge, all cleaned up
All I have to do is set out the snacks!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Weekly Update - Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 - It's Only Getting Busier!

Celebrating the Tsolyani New Year

This has been a very, very busy time, here at The Workbench; I have two in-house game sessions on hand for the next two weekend, then I'll be at Free RPG Day at The Source Comics and Games on June 17th showing people what we used to get up to at the meetings of the Conflict Simulation Association at Coffman Student Union back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The "Legend of Cleopatra" Indiegogo campaign being run by Dr. M. Burns of Dark Fable Miniatures is steaming along nicely, with - at last look - over 225% funding achieved.

It's also been very busy at work, so I'm more then a little tired out by it all.

Be that as it may, it's also the time of the year when the Tsolyani year clicks over into a new one; I'll have to look, but I think we just passed out of the intercalenary days of 2,395 A.S. and are now in 2,396 A. S., using Prof Barker's custom of adding 379 to the present year to get the Tsolyani year.

Projects are moving along slowly, as I've been repacking a lot of what's stored in the shed and in the game room  and simply finding everything that I own; in some cases, I've simply lost track over the years of where something was packed in all the various rushes to get off to some event happened. Case in point: I went looking for the beige tablecloths that I use for my game table when I'm out and about - they match the table cloth for the smaller of my two Skyline display sets - and I looked everywhere for them. They were, of course, packing in the 'show set' bag with the other table cloths. Right on top of the smaller (four foot high) Skyline display.

Honestly; I'd lose my nose, if it wasn't so firmly attached to my face.

The first batch of Cleopatra's guards are now assembled. These are some of the Victrix plastic infantry, the 'Macedonian Hypastist' (spelling is poor, I suspect.) I have to assemble the two packs of phalanx troops, and then I'll do the second set of Numidian lights; these will use the unarmored / helmetless heads, and I'll give them wicker shields from Foundry - I have a lot of this sort of thing in the parts bins - so that they can also be used alongside my XVIII Dynasty figures and my Tekumelyani. Multi-tasking, in a way, and perhaps getting more for my money. Once everybody is built - they are like little model kits! - then I'll wait for a nice day and apply my usual flat white primer.

I am also going to decorate their shields with decals; they have blank shields, and I thought that this would look a little boring, so I'm reaching back into the parts bins for some decal sheets I got over five years ago and never found a use for. When I did the Old Guard Sea People figures that I got quite a while back, I decorated their plain shields with some nice and fierce-looking decals, and I am very pleased with the effect. (And it does save a lot of fiddly painting, too!) So, we'll try this out; worst comes to worst, I'll have to paint the decals over and start fresh.

I have one other news item; my third daughter and her husband are now financially secure enough to hold a big splashy wedding party - they never had the chance to have one, originally - so I will have the chance to be a Proud Father and a Doting Grandfather, all at once. Hurrah!!!

More news and photos, as I get them!

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Weekly Update - Monday, May 15, 2017 - A Month Of Gaming Ahead!

Two large with low roofing, one small with high...

Two small, one large, all with high roofing...

As promised, here are the photos of the foam cooler buildings I've had in the project waiting list for quite a long while. The roof sections are simply solid foam blocks, cut to shape on the band saw, and glued up and glued to the coolers' lids. The blocks will get sanded and filled, and then painted to represent tiles or slates - probably tiles, as that's what Phil liked.

We don't have a lot of drawings or artwork by Phil of buildings, which is a little odd; but then, I suspect that since he knew his beloved South Asia so well, he assumed that we'd be able to get the idea from his descriptions. So, these are a synthesis of his descriptions and what we have, and I think they'll be fine.

I'd also like to suggest the superb 'Temple City Set" from Stonehouse Miniatures; I have one of these, and it's done yeoman service in our games for years. Please have a look, if you would:

It's going to be a very busy month of gaming for me; two sessions have been booked here at the house, and I've been asked to run some games for Free RPG Day at the FLGS. Barsoom is on the slate, as well as Ancient Egypt; Tekumel is being catered for by John Till and his 'FATE for Tekumel' game; we'll see what else shows up, and we'll have a good time with old friends and new.

So, very busy, and I'll try to keep everyone updated as best as I can. More to come, I hope!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, May 7th, 2017 - Betting On Horses, Dormant Projects, And Raising An Army

Styrofoam cooler or bowl, suitably redone
Foam cups, redone as little towers
Foam picnic coolers, redone as large towers
It was asked, in a comment on last week's update, what the idea was with the foam coolers. Back in the middle 1980s, the wonderfully talented and skillful artist Ken Fletcher use a variety of foam objects to make buildings that we used in our games. Commercial products were both rare and expensive, and so we used these for may years. They eventually would wind up at the local FLGS, and I was eventually able to salvage some of them for my archives.

I also got started on a new set of them; I found that the larger coolers come in several sizes, so I got three or four of each - wanting some spares to cove for 'issues' - and got to work making them roof sections. I'll get a photo of them later today, once the sun comes up, and you can see what I did. I used the usual pink extruded poly styrene foam, cut to size on the band saw at a 15 degree (or so) angle to make the roofing. It was a slow, patient process, but quite fun and I thought pretty easy. A little glue, a little time, and there we are.

This was one of my projects that went dormant for some years; I've been storing the buildings for almost a decade, but I'm now finally getting back to them. I am very pleased with all this movement on old things; I like making things, and this has been a fun project to get back to.

A new project, on the other hand, stems from the Missus and her love of horses. She does a little betting every year on the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders' Cup, and her betting yesterday netted her a tidy sum; she has her own little savings account for this, and occasionally gives me grants from it to do projects that she wants to see. In this particular case, we're backing the latest Dark Fable Indiegogo, "The Legend of Cleopatra", and the Missus wanted to have some palace guards to deal with those pesky Romans camping out in the palace. I was given a budget, and the FLGS provided the Victrix plastic figures.

These will be the first historical troops I've done since the early 1980s, and I'm really looking forward to building this small but nice-looking army. The plastic figures allow for a lot of customization, and we'll be using them in other games, both miniatures and RPGs as needed. You never have enough palace guards, I feel.

In other news, the renovations and reorganization of the basement in both the workshop and the game room - with additional changes in the laundry room - continue. Lots more shelves, lots more project boxes, and it's pretty nice to have everything to hand once again. Things are picking up, and I'm pretty happy about that.

Took Fifth Daughter to the FLGS yesterday as well, so she could stock up on her comics - it's her birthday, and it was Free Comic Day - and had a simply wonderful day out. I've also been asked to run some game sessions for their Free RPG Day on June 17th, which will be fun; John Till is running his excellent FATE for Tekumel game, and I've been asked to run game set in Barsoom and the Ancient Egypt of the Lord Meren series of mystery novels. I think it'll be a fine day out, myself!

Lots more to come!!!

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Weekly Update - May 1st, 2017 - Productivity And Plastic

Urban buildings by Ken Fletcher, circa 1985, in the raw
I seem to be getting my sea legs back under me, as I continue to recover from the various illnesses that have stalked the household for most of the past six months, and stuff is finally getting done. I've been doing a lot of digging in the midden heap that's my work shop, and I'm down to the 1990s layers. All sorts pf wonderful treasures have been rediscovered and put on the shelves, and heaps of debris have been getting shoveled out the door - scrap lumber, the remains of old projects that other people started but never finished, that kind of thing. The Missus and I have been trying help people make their dreams come true for the past twenty-five years, and now we're working on making ours come true.

Her set of the RAFM "Dr. Who" miniatures have been found - I'm replacing the shelving where they've been sitting since 1988 with storage bins for my scale lumber (I make it myself, he said modestly) and will get based and into primer as soon as we get some decent weather; I'm still trying to work out what bases to use for her Elfquest figures. Wasn't there an Elfquest RPG, back in the day, or am I confusing it with something else?

Played in another D&D session yesterday; we're in Jackport, east of Blackmoor, getting trashed by some goblins. I have, I am pleased to report, now up to Second Level, and hugely enjoying myself. looking forward to the next game session, too!

In other news, Rob Kuntz has a book about Dave Arneson available, and there's a graphic novel about Gary Gygax also coming out this week. I may get both; we shall see what the reviews are like.

The new Dark Fable Indiegogo is live, and doing well; we're already past the $4,000 mark, and so some of the stretch goals are now being unlocked. Have a look, if you will:

I am now dithering over getting some Victrix "Successor Phalangites" to serve as palace guards; this is a very slippery slope, as I think I'd then have to get some Late Republican Romans to cause them fits. Suggeestions sought; I find that I can turn out plastic figures in very quick time, so getting some of both done for a game I have in mind would be easy...

And yes, I am working on a truly gigantic project for the game, worthy of Rex Harrison and Elizabeth Taylor. You could, I think, only do this one in plastics; it'd take forever to get enough old figures to do this one...

Barsoon hasn't been forgotten; the plastic for the Eighth Ray Collectors I need for the two sky ships has been dug out and will see the band saw this coming weekend. Luckily, this one will be a floor game. A very big floor game...

And Tim over at TRE games has done some 28mm Japanese buildings, which look to be scaled up versions of his 15mm line; the kits are astonishing, and I may have to invest in them. Please see his website - link on the other column,  as I recall, but:

Photos of all this, as soon as I can shoot them. And yes, I have a batch of those coolers in the shop, with roofing added, just like Ken did for our games thirty years ago...

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Weekly Update - Monday, April 24th, 2017 - News From The Workbench...

Simple Green at work...

First off, I've been able to read your comments on Google+. But, I can't reply to them; something about my browser and computers. We're working on it, but I fear an eventual migration to something like Wordpress may be in order. We shall see.

I'd like to thank everyone who sent the Missus their best wishes; she's doing a lot better now, and was actually able to get out a bit this past weekend. I'm also in good shape, and may be finally recovered from the road trip. So, good news all round, and we're pretty happy campers.

Speaking of the Missus, her six sets of the Ral Partha "Elfquest" figures have all been run through the bath (Simple Green, straight up, for a week) and are now back to their pristine state of raw metal. The Armory brush-on primer she'd used on these back in the late 1980s had not aged well, so off it came and will be replaced by my usual spray-on flat white primer. Much thinner, and you'll be able to see the details on these; they still look good, and I think they'll be fun to paint. Her collection of RAFM 'Dr. Who' figures will also get done at the same time, and they'll see the light of day after almost three decades. Basing will, I think, be our usual 25mm rounds as these are mostly going to get used in RPGs.

Also in the bath, but this time in acetone, have been my fleet of Valiant Miniatures ships. All of the masts and sails have been gently removed, and I'll get the ships put back to their former glory. The soft-metal masts have suffered greatly from the passage of time, so these will get brass wire behind them to make them that much sturdier, and then I'll get the ships back into their paint schemes. In the meantime, the flotilla of laser-cut galleys from TRE Games will be our mainstay for naval games.

The big news around here this week is that the new Indiegogo campaign by Dark Fable Miniatures is up and running:

I'm very pleased with what I'm seeing, and the Missus has announced that we'll be backing this campaign as we have all of the previous ones. I can think of uses for all the figures - while the Macedonians are a wee bit too late for 'Ancient Egypt', my local FLGS has a bunch of Macedonians that they have been 'suggesting' I look into. My thought is being able to play out some of the possible game scenarios from "Cleopatra", like the defense of the Moon Gate of the palace, and as I have some Romans on the shelves it's very doable.

Let's see, what else...

We've had some very fine weather this past weekend, and I managed to get the garden sheds cleaned out and the van unloaded. I've trimmed down our stock of trade show booth items, keeping the two Skyline sets (the table top and the full booth) and disposing of the rest to people who can use them. I'm in the process of organizing up my stocks of scale lumber - the Missus has pointed out that both she and the Daughter-in-residence need to use the laundry room too, and it would be nice if the miniature lumber yard moved into the workshop and onto my shelves.

To hear is to obey.

The plasma screen continues to amaze and astound me with the superb quality of the picture; it's making sorting the lumber very enjoyable - I love those Techicolor epics, and having them on the big screen is a delight. I am still dithering over what to do with the 40" Sony LCD; I'd like to keep it in stock for gaming use, but I do have a potential buyer for the thing. Decisions, decisions!

I and the game room have also been booked for some game sessions, which I am pleased with, and I'm looking forward to hosting guests. Dates are May 27th and June 3rd, starting at one pm; e-mail me if you might want to drop by and see the mayhem.

I think that's everything, for now; much more to come, as I get all caught up with life...

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mr. Wells And Mr. Pratt Meet Mr. Burroughs - Thoughts On Radium Cannon, And Their Use In Games

'Keri'. off the slipway...

Well, it's been a lovely day, and I'd like to move on from all the doom and gloom. Let's introduce some people to each other, and go from there...

As has been mentioned on this blog in the past, I happen to like Barsoom and have been in the throes of building a pair of skyships based on those in "John Carter". I was looking at the film, and re-reading the books, and something struck me - air warfare, as depicted in the source materials, looks a lot like pre-dreadnought naval warfare, where one pulls up to the foe, and blasts away with one's batteries of quick-firing guns. Well, all right, I said, but how do we do this as a miniature?

Originally, I had planned to simply buy some Victorian deck guns, and get on with it. However, this has proved (for various reasons) to be not happening, so I am going to have to build a half-dozen radium cannon. Okay, no big deal; get some tubing, and build them. Enter one Mr. H. G. Wells, author of "Little Wars", and his associate Mr. Fletcher Pratt. The latter wrote and played a very good naval wargame, which like "Little Wars", is a floor game. (I keep a 100' tape measure in the game supplies for this kind of thing.)

In the spirit of these games, it occurred to me that small laser pointers are cheap, and with a little tubing added along with magnets and some hardware would do nicely as radium cannon. The idea is that if one is tired of tapes and tables, one aims the radium cannon at the intended target, locks up the mounting, and then - on the shooting phase - pushes the button to see if a hit is made. I can even get various lenses to make individual patterns for each separate beam, so one can determine ' fall of shot' more easily.

Is this all silly? And not 'serious gaming'? Yes, I think so; and I think I like it that way. It does add a little whimsey to the game - one can always fall back on tapes and tables, of course - and I like going back to the roots of our hobby. And people seem to enjoy it, so why not?

Photos of the arsenal, as soon as I get the guns painted...

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Weekly Update - Monday, April 17th, 2017 - This And That From The Sick Bay

Yes, it has been That Weekend, and the White Star Line's house flag has been flying all weekend as is our custom. We are both still pretty sick; I am better, the Missus was worse, but she is on the mend this morning. Lots of fluids, lots of sleep. Since I am the primary caregiver around the house, as well as the primary caretaker of the place, this past weekend has been spent largely in getting the place back to normal after the past month's illnesses. It takes a while, but it is getting done.

It was also Easter weekend, and as sometimes happens my Easter falls on the same dates as does most peoples' holiday; so, it was quiet here and I frankly liked it that way.

It's also the usual weekend for MiniCon, one of the local SF conventions; we didn't go. Besides being sick, and not wanting to share, we were some of the people 'disinvited' during the Great Purge that the convention went through - getting rid of costumers, gamers, media fans, and literary fans was supposed to get the convention back to the fannish roots of "sex and drugs and rock and roll" as one of the Gang Of Ten announced at the time. Maybe it has; we don't go, and save a lot of energy and money in the process.

I've been asked why we don't go back; I gather that the Gang Of Ten is long gone, and the current convention committee is looking to regain the lost numbers of people who used to go - and who went off and founded their own convention, Convergence. I do think about it, but then things like the current controversy over Odyssey Con happen. I get pretty annoyed with things like this, as regular readers are aware, and so we stay away from F/SF fandom.

You can do a Google search about this, or have a look at:

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to take my blood pressure medications...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Weekly Update - Tuesday, April 11th, 2017 - Still Sick, But There is Progress!

The ultimate video accessory?

I am still here, I am happy to be able to report. The bronchial infection is on the wane, under the effect of powerful antibiotics and even more powerful cough syrup. My lungs seem to be clear, the doctors say, so getting control of the muscle spasms form the coughing has been the big issue. The Missus is also now sick with this, or a related bug, so the little house has been resounding with coughing and sneezing. I'm running at about 75% to 80%, which is better then the 25% to 30% I was at last week.

Things still move, as Galileo pointed out, and we had a very nice thing happen this past weekend. As I've noted here in the past, I do a lot of my purchasing through the local surplus outlets; I've been looking for an LCD screen to experiment with in miniatures games - ideally, I'd love to lay one down on the table, bring up a floor plan, and move miniatures around on the thing. I thought that this might be fun, but it does require a cheap LCD screen to experiment with.

Suffice it to say that I wound up with a very nice LCD for a very good price - that is, until I got the thing home and discovered that I had bought a 40" high end plasma screen. The picture looks great, and it is now in the game room as the official viewing screen. I did have to mount it on a pair of after-market legs, though, and this is where my drill press comes into the picture; the mounting holes, as might be guess, did not line up, so I drilled new ones in about five minutes and had the big screen up and running in another five.

What really pleased me is that I can still make things. And do it easily, quickly, and effciently.

Now, this does leave me with a 'spare' 42" LCD screen, which is the unit I got three years ago in response to the requirement for an active display at 'off-site' games. It'll revert to that role, and get a new shipping crate on casters as well.

Fortune smiles on the brave... :)

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Weekly Update - April 3rd, 2017 - Catching Up With Google+

Yes, that's still me!

No I hadn't forgotten; I'm still recovering from the road trip to Ohio, which should not surprise me as it too most of a month to recover from the last long drive I took some three years ago.

Anyway; your comments will all appear here, as soon as I can figure out how to do a cut-and-paste.

In other news, my case of bronchial infection is making me cough a lot, and I'm pretty exhausted. More to come; I just need some warm, moist air in my lungs...

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, March 26th, 2017 - An Essay On Conventons, if you don't mind...

No, I am not at Gary Con this weekend these are all photos from three years ago. The folks who were organizing a possible trip for me to go down to Lake Geneva this year missed several important deadlines with the convention, so we went to Ohio instead.

I've been asked, by multiple people and on multiple occasions, why I don't go to conventions and run games for people. The quick answer, as I've mentioned, is resources - and the lack of same. I have a limited amount of disposable vacation time and an equally limited amount of disposable income available to use on my gaming; I have to budget very carefully. And, as I've also mentioned, I have very limited amounts of stamina and energy available - I can either organize a convention trip, or run events and games; not both, on the same trip. If people want me to come to their convention, then they need to take the lead in organizing the trip. I can advise on what I can run, load everything up, and do the show; that's about it. I can pay for fuel and food; I can't afford a hotel room, and I do need a place to stay at my age.

That's the tangible aspect of the subject. The intangible aspect of the matter is that I am a relic of an older style of game play, dating back some forty years. I don;t fell all that much connection to modern gaming; when I was walking through the game rooms at Con of the North, I felt very disassociated and alienated, as there didn't seem to be anything there for me. I just wasn't interested in what I was seeing. Now, there were lots and lots of people there, having a very good time; it just wasn't my kind of good time, if I can put it that way.

The bottom line is that if I'm going to be shelling out money and time, I'd better be having a great time like I did at Cincy Con. Gary Con is a great convention, but for me there's not a lot to actually do; it is an RPG convention, and I happen to strongly agree with that focus; I just don't see a difference between RPGs and miniatures, as seems to be the norm these days. We didn't, back in the day, and I still don't.

So, to conserve resources, I stay home; the door is always open for visitors. If you want to stop by, drop me an e-mail...

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Interlude - A Conversation With My Missus

The topic of the conversation...

So, I'm getting the groceries in from the van after a shopping trip, and the Missus is eying a blister pack - Reaper #80037, "Telephone Box", to be exact - and asks "Can you paint this up for me?"

"Well, yes," I reply, "but that's not the best model of the classic GPO phone box. I have a couple in the model railway supplies, but they're OO and not the O scale that I think you want."

She rolled her eyes, and favored me with the kind of look one reserves for a beloved but dim spouse. "If I'd wanted a GPO phone box, I'd have gotten one. I think you know exactly what I want this one painted up as..." Heavy sigh followed.

"Yes, dear. I'll look up the BSC color number and get on it..."

The origins of this particular conversation go back almost thirty years, when I was first courting Herself. I bought her a complete set of the RAFM "Doctor Who" figures, as she's a fan of the series from waaaay back - she was a friend of Anthony Ainley, for example - and also a complete set of the Ral Partha "Elfquest" figures. This hit both of her big interests, and I thought it might advance my cause with her. (It seemed to work; thirty years later, and she's still here. Anyway:) She still has both groups of figures, still in their boxes, and these unpainted miniatures came up in the discussion of vintage figures that we were having at the paint-and-take at CincyCon.

A number of collectors have been of the opinion that she should keep the Elfquest figures in their boxes, as they still have all their packing and inserts - they are out of the shrink wrap, that's all - and the Who figures are still in their little 'Tardis' boxes. (I had also gotten her a set of the plastic GW Daleks and Cybermen, which came off their sprues in 1988 and are still waiting for paint.) Other collectors have taken the position that these are her figures, and if she wants them painted then they should be painted. She's of the opinion that she'd like them painted; she had a lot of fun painting up one of the little goblins for the Goblin Horde project, and is kind of wanting to paint something.

Thoughts? Comments?

Along these same lines, she's also 'happened' to mention that I still have a lot of unbuilt card model kits in my railway stocks, and that her smaller 'true 25mm' figures don't look at all out of scale next to them. Suggestions about getting a bit of card modeling done have been made, and I get the hint - hopefully not being too dim, in these matters.

In a similar vein, the Missus has mentioned that Mike Burns, of Dark Fable Miniatures, is about to get his new Indiegogo - "The Legend of Cleopatra" - up and running, and that she approves of the figures as she sees the photos of the greens.

I am getting the feeling that there's a connection here. Wasn't there a set ofTom Baker episodes with an Ancient Egyptian theme? I feel a 'pulp' adventure coming on...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, March 19th, 2017 - Housekeeping And More

Convention loot plus - one

Convention loot plus - two
We're doing a bit of housekeeping here at the Workbench today; I manage4d to pick up some sort of noro-virus after we got back from Ohio, and I've been pretty under the weather for the past week. We did have a very good day of gaming yesterday - "Close Action" and "The Fantasy Trip" - and I'll have reports on those games as soon as I can. Fifth Daughter got to play in the TFT game, to great effect, and she's been invited back to play with the group. I played a series of NPCs, a town guard and a tavern keeper, and I had a lot of fun; the players seemed to have fun interacting with a 'live' NPC, and the GM laughed his head off at the results. A good time, as they say, was had by all...

For those of you who have been commenting on the blog over on Google Plus, I have been able to see your comments - I get e-mailed notifications of them - but for some reason I am unable to reply to all of you there. I'll be doing a sort of omnibus reply to everyone here on the blog, so no, I haven't forgotten anyone. I think it's got something to due with old hardware and old browsers, and the Missus is looking into it.

Getting back to our Cincy Con coverage, I enjoyed doing a little shopping when I had a break. For me, a huge delight was discovering a very nice line of boats and ships:

They have everything from 6mm to 28mm in ships and boats, as well as a nice line of shore installations that your pirate crew will love to storm. I got four of the big 'whaleboats', which are about the right size for Chirine's collection of landing boats - provided by dear old Captain Harchar for a 'very nominal fee' under very dubious circumstances - as mentioned at the close of Book Five and in Book Six of "To Serve The Petal Throne". Getting the troops ashore has always been an issue in the days before purpose-built landing craft, and these boats filled in a gap that we had in the fleet between the regular ships and the smaller boats and lighters used in the bridging train.

These are big, solid resin castings, and will probably survive everything that the players can through at them A nice feature is the spacing of the seats, which is specifically designed to work with 25mm bases - so, our troopers can stand on the bottom of their boats, instead of perching on the seats. I'm very happy with them, and how they look on the table.

There were also some folks with a 3-D printer, and I got some market stalls from them. You never have enough market stalls for the players to rampage through, no matter what your chosen period. They make a variety of useful things, and these can be seen on their Facebook page:

I also got some neat stuff from various flea market vendors, like a nice resin spaceship hull and a die-cast model of the airship from "The Golden Compass", all of which will fill in little nooks and crannies in my collection of game props and miniatures.

The Missus also weighed in with a purchase from Iron Wind, from the  Ral Partha Chaos Wars line; she got all three 'Amazon Regiments' from the first wave of their Kickstarter, as she thought that it was high time that she and her five daughters were represented on the family game table. I took the hint, and also restocked some of the truly superb Iron Wind paints; I've been using these since they first came out in the 1980s, and they are a truly great line of paints. For more on this, try the Iron Wind website:

Several mail-orders that the Missus had made have also come in, and so the five young ladies from Bronze Age Miniatures, the Sleazy Merchant and Six Guards (Two Alert, Four Drowsy) from Forge of Ice, and the Pillar of Woe set (plus a sneek peek at the Cleopatra Indiegogo) from Dark Fable have all been based up and will get a coat of primer when the weather finally warms up. I also have the plastic Numidians all assembled; I didn't like the plain round shields, in the end, so I dug around in the parts bins and gave them an assortment of plastic shields from both the Warlords 'Roman' sets and from the Wargames Factory 'Amazons' set. I think they look a lot better with the variety of shields; I'm sure I think of a use for the spares...

More to come; I'll have more detailed posts and photos up on all of this as soon as I can manage...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The CincyCon Trip - My Duty Station: The Paint And Take

The scene of the action for the weekend

The action, itself
My tiny contribution to the Goblin Horde (left)

Phil Neuscheler and the Missus, Herself

Iron Wind Metals, the company formed to take over the assets of the old Ral Partha, Inc. after it had been takenn over and then closed by RAFM - there's a long, sad story there, which I only know parts of - has relaunched the Ral Partha brand as a wholly-owned new division of the larger company; which, of course, happened a couple of years back. This is their local convention, so they put on a splashy show for everybody. One of the guys, an old friend, thought it might be fun to have me and the Missus show up as his personal guests, and maybe talk a little bit about Ral Partha and miniatures in general.

I am, supposedly, very well informed about little metal people and how to slap a coat of paint onto them. With this in mind, I was happy to take up the paint-and-take at the convention; this is a pretty simple idea - you sit down, pick out a figure from the box, paint it up the way you want, and then you take it home. An added feature was that you could also choose to add to the Goblin Horde; paint one of these, and it's stay with the demo army and you could pick another figure to keep.

All of the Goblin Horde figures got assigned an individual number, and all of the people who did one will be thanked on the Chaos Wars website; one can also follow the career of 'their' goblin on the demo tables, the idea of which people really liked.

The whole idea behind this event is to 'demystify' the often arcane business of miniatures for people. I talked to several hundred people, of all sorts, over the three days, and I told them all the same thing: You can paint miniatures, and do a good job of it, right now. Well over a hundred of them sat down and did just that; over fifty of them also added to the Goblin Horde. The amazed looks on their faces as they discovered that they really were able to paint miniatures was, if you ask me, a joy to behold and it made the long road trip all the more worthwhile. We had people as young as eight, and as old as me, and it was a grand time.

A very special treat for me was having Philip Neuscheler there with me; he authored the 'Dragonsmith' articles for The Dragon, and he's both a gifted artist in his own right and a true gentleman. It turned out that he and the Missus share a love of horses - Phil used to treat them - and watching the two of them carry on about their shared interest was truly wonderful.

I was able to get away for a bit at times - the restrooms are great - and I was able to visit the amazing variety of vendors at the convention. I need to shoot some photos, and then I'll be back with my next post on the treasures that I found.

The Cincy Con Trip - The Convention Itself

Pre-dreadnoughts - The Czar vs. the Great White Fleet off Alaska!

The USS Artremis starship bridge simulator

Warhammer 40k, I think...
One of the club areas

I was a little worried, going into this convention, about the noise levels; the convention is held in two huge barn-like halls, and I don't handle high levels of sound pressure any more.

Much to my delight, it was really nice in the halls! The walls and roofs are lined with insulation, so all of the surfaces above head height are absorb sound, not reflect it, and it made for a really good environment. The sound was that of a lot of very happy people having a really good time, and not the absolute din that I've had to suffer through at other conventions over the years.

The convention is an 'open-table' set-up; if one waned to reserve a seat at a particular game table, one got a ticket - at no charge! - from the registration desk, and one had a seat at the table. If one simply wanted to play, then all one had to do was pull up a chair and have at it; I didn't see anyone turned away from any game during the convention, as all of the GMs were very happy to have extra players - and had made their plans accordingly.

There was a huge variety of games on offer, too; everything from the classic RPGs to the classic miniatures games. There was something for everyone on offer, and I saw a lot of kids and families having a great time. My personal favorite was a modern game with a pair of Stryker armored vehicles - these were being run by what looked for all the world to be a couple of stereotypical 'soccer moms', who were playing hard, fast, and furious; anytime a dismounted trooper got into trouble, they were there in a flash with all guns blazing in true cavalry spirit and with true cavalry panache. George Patton would have been proud of them, and it was wonderful to watch.

Another favorite was the pre-dreadnought battle between the Czar's Imperial Navy and Teddy Rooselevdt's Great White Fleet off the Alaskan coast; icebergs were an additional hazard. This was a legendary game - it was played with the famous 1/700 scale ships made by and formerly owned by the legendary naval gamer Richard Huston (of 'Houston's Ships" fame) and lovingly preserved by one of his friends. None of your delicate 'steampunk' goggles-and-top-hat types here; this was manly men shoving coal into the boilers and shells into the guns as fast as they could, and having a damn good time doing it. As was usual with the technology of the time, nothing worked quite right, and the mishaps of machinery malfunctions was a very funny part of the game. (Certain American warships of this period could not point all their guns in the same direction at the same time, due to capsizing issues; it does affect your tactical thinking, I assure you.)

At the opposite end of the technological spectrum was the amazing USS Artremis starship bridge simulator, which worked all the time all weekend, and was very popular with players of all kinds. I've seen a couple of these kind of things in action at various conventions, and they never cease to amaze me - we never had anything like this, back in my day, and it would have made those far-off 'Traveller', 'Star Trek', and 'Star Wars' games something else to have been able to play. Wonderful stuff.

As I mentioned, the convention venue was great - and the food was even better! The convention organizers had set up a food stand, and the food was both inexpensive (a rarity!) and really good (even more rare and unusual!); I don;t know about anyone else, but I stuffed my face. An additional feature was that criers would tour the halls before the kitchen closed, offering deals on the 'leftovers'; nothing went to waste, and the whole operation was wonderfully well-managed and staffed.

If you asked me, this whole convention was wonderfully well-staffed and well-run. I had no problems at all during the weekend - the first time that this has happened at a convention in literally decades!

Right, then; next up, What I Did For The Weekend...

The Weekly Update - Sunday, March 12th, 2017 - CincyCon VIII

My post for the weekend - the 'paint and take', in West

The central connecting room, with the registration desk

East Hall, with lots of game tables

East, during dinner - the food was great!!!

 As related in the previous update, we're back from what it probably our last great adventure. We had a wonderful time, but both the Missus and I are just not in the kind of health one needs for long road trips. Having said that, on with the report!

The beginnings of this trip lay in the smouldering wreckage of last years' proposed Tekumel Room at Gary Con, over which the Tekumel Foundation had made such a fuss that everyone actually working on the thing just gave up and walked away. (We're all still baffled by them and their attitudes.) A couple of the people who were going to participate in the event said hey, we have this perfectly good local convention - why don't you and the Missus come to that? It all seemed like a good idea, so we made our plans. For what we were going to please see:

What was a big part of making this trip so special for the two of us was that the Missus loves horses. She has a little fund that she saves up and puts into all through the year, and then goes and places her wagers on the Triple Crown races. She always does well, I am happy to say, and has built up a little nest egg for herself like I have with my gaming fund. Lexington, Kentucky, is just over the border from the convention, so it was her plan to drop me off at the show and then do a series of day trips into thoroughbred country. And because of this, she informed me that she'd be willing to pay for half the trip expenses out of her horse account; one does not turn down offers like this from one's Missus, I tell you. Fifth Daughter, she with the yellow in karate, would watch the house for us; our friends were supplying the hotel room, so everything was taken care of.

Or so we thought...

Because of her health issues, the Missus has trouble sitting in our van for more then a couple of hours; so, she called her usual car rental agency and reserved a full-sized sedan for the trip. I packed our luggage accordingly, with  our big Land's End suitcases - these have been all over the world with us, and enable us to live for a week in luxury - and flight bags full of snacks and medications for the back seat.

Got to the rental agency a week later, and the trouble started. We were told that we could have either the giant SUV that was out on the lot, or our pick of the three sedans. The Missus asked if these were full-sized cars, and got blown off. I had a look at the largest, and what we were being given - and billed for as 'full-sized' - were 'mid-sized' cars that our luggage simply would not fit into. She got the look on her face that her Viking ancestors would have recognized as being a sure indicator that somebody was going to get a visit from Ragnar Hairy-pants (actual historical personage) and his boatload of stalwart Scandinavian 'attitude adjustment counselors'. The transaction got cancelled.

At this point, all we had left for options was to take our old van - it had 326,000 miles on it, was loaded down with 800 pounds of book that the girls' grandfather had left them, and we were not at all sure that we'd make it to Ohio.

She still had That Look on her face; she turned to me and said, in the same kind of voice that I imagine that Rollo used when he announced that he was invading France: "I want to see my horses, you want to have fun at the convention, and we don't want to disappoint our friends. We're going."

So, we did. Next up, what it was like...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Weekly Update - Tuesday, March 7th - The Last Great Adventure!

Old Reliable does it again, one last time...

There will be a series of much longer reports to come, but for now the news is that Chirine and The Missus are now back home here at The Workbench after a very long and very exciting trip to see some very old friends.

This has been, I suspect, our last great road trip together. Her health - and mine too, for that matter - as well as our limited financial resources mean that we simply can't do a lot of the things that other people can. But, this was an important trip for the both of us, so we went. Our poor old Astro, with 326.000+ miles on the clock, came through one last time for us and got us there through wind, snow, rain, darkness, and sheer exhaustion - and then saved the day for our friends in their need.

Was it worth it? We thought so, and so did quite a few other people.

Lots more to come!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, February 26th, 2017 - Unpacking and Goodies

I'll use the helmets and the round shields...
The two I have had very broken wings - fixed, now...

One very - to me, anyway - odd thing about Con of the North was that for a 1,300+ convention, there wasn;t anyone in the vendors' area selling miniatures and miniatures stuff. I do have to qualify that, though; one of the local pro painters was there, doing wonderful commissions - you dropped your figure off, and it was ready two hours later! - and a booth selling painted figures from a local collection. Otherwise, nada, which meant that my budgeted funds stayed in my wallet.

Enter The Source Comics and Games, run by the irrepressible Fighting Bob (General Karim Missum, to us old Tekumel hands), who saw the wads of unspent cash moldering in my sweaty hands and allowed that if I dropped by the store his staff would have a few deals for me.

So, I did, and they did. Some of the folks at the convention had asked about my getting my play-by-post (e-mail, actually, but let's not quibble) miniatures campaign going, and I felt the need for some Salarvyani light infantry skirmishers. I got a pack of the plastic Numidians from Victrix:

My thought was to use the helmeted figures, to match the old Craig Smith drawings, and the round shields as being more appropriate for skirmishers. The downside to this plan is that the shields supplied are very - very! - plain, and I'll have to see what I might have in stock that I can use to add a little visual interest to the shields. I used decals on the Old Guard ones that I had, and I may root around the see it anything will work. Otherwise, it's new shields. We shall see.

I also got a pair of nice little models that badly needed a home. As regular readers will recall, I have a fleet of small-scale ships, and it struck me as I looked at these models that there are are at least a couple of Undying Wizards that we met in our ocean travels who habitually flutter around the skies of Tekumel in skyships. The "Bajoran Lightship" seemed to me to be a pretty good stand-in for these; this pair of models had some very broken 'wings', and the staff at The Source allowed as how I had been known to be able to mend broken stuff pretty well. They made me an offer I could not refuse, and I've managed to fix the two ships. New bases are in order, I think, as the ones provided are not all that good; an easy thing, involving plastic rod and sheet goods.

Still unpacking everything; I do the upkeep on the displays before I put them back into storage, so it's been a little busy this past week. Everything is done, though, and so we're on to new and old projects again...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Con of the North, Interlude - a Question For Chirine

Not from the convention, but you get the idea...

So, the question was asked at the convention why my bright, smiling face wasn't there running games. The answer is in two parts:

1) Bill Hoyt got to me first. Events bookings are on a first-come, first-serve basis, mostly because I need to get my vacation time-off requests in by March 15th every year. Vacations are granted by seniority, so I have to take what I can get - and book early or not at all. Some weeks are Right Out, due to things like student move-in and move-out in the University dorms, so getting my time off is very tight.

2) This is Brett Slocum's event, not mine. Brett does a really good job of getting people to come to this event, and he had a very full schedule of games. I am both space- and time-intensive with the kind of games that I run, and Brett is very aware of that. If he wants me, he'll let me know.

As I've mentioned, I can either organize events or run games. I can't do both. See also my Events Guide, if you will... :)

Con of the North, part 3(b) - Bill's Miniatures Game

I think Bill said that he was using "Dragon Rampant" for the game, but I'll check and make sure...

Con of the North, Part Three(a) - Bill's Miniatures Game