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

Con of the North, Part Two - The Tekumel Track

Bill Acheson's gladiator game

Yes, that's a 90mm Ahoggya!

Brett Slocum GM's

Steve Vossler's wonderful game of urban sprawl

The art display in the background of Brett's game

I think you can still view the schedule on the Con of the North's website; Brett Slocum runs this springtime event in a similar vein as U-Con does in the fall of the year, with much the same results. A lot of very good GMs run a lot of very good games, and people seem to have a very good time.

I got to play Steve Vossler's wonderful game of urban expansion, which has tiles that one plays to further one's interests and possible block those of the other players. I normally don't like board games, but this one is simply a delight - the strategy is so compelling that I forgot to keep track of my points as the game went along, but who cares? The game is simply wonderful, and full of Tekumel flavor.

Bill Acheson ran a game of gladiators in the grand scale of 90mm, which was astonishing, and also a game in the more usual 28mm; more on that in the next post. Again, people had a lot of fun!

Lots of RPGs all weekend, as you'd expect, and there were a lot of new faces at the tables. I was very pleased to see this, myself, and delighted that so many people were having fun in Phil's world.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Weekly Update - Tuesday, Feb. 22nd, 2017 - Con of the North, Part One

Bill's display, first location, co-located with Registration

The second and final location that we had for the weekend

I am back in from the local game convention, 'Con of the North'. Bill Hoyt, he of Blackmoor and EPT fame, had asked for my help in putting up a display about the history of RPGs here in the Twin Cities. So, I played stagehand, and brought out the middle-sized of my Skyline displays and got it set up for him to use.

Things got a little exciting, Friday morning; the convention drew over 1,300 people, and our initial location in the same area that the convention's Registration desk was in was just not going to work out - too many people in too small a space. So, we got asked if we'd help them out and move around the corner. So, after I got my breakfast into me, we picked up the encampment and moved out of their way. Everything worked out just fine - I'd planned for such a move, to be honest - and we were reset in about fifteen minutes,  enabling Registration to open on time.

Bill had a great time, talking to a lot of people, and getting a lot of very positive responses from everyone. I was very pleased, myself; this is what I like to do, making things happen for people. I also helped out the convention with a little logistical support, with my fleet of carts, and I had a very good time.

So, Friday was spent in set-up and organization; I did make it to the meet-and-greet at noon for Tekumel folks, and had a good time at that. The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent at the booth, making sure that the computers ran the neat slide show one of Bill's friends had done.

Saturday was a much easier day for me; Bill and his family had the booth well in hand, so I got to walk around the convention a bit and talk to many of my old friends who were running games or trade stands in the Vendors' room. Oddly enough, I didn't find anything to buy at the convention - but I did get waylaid by the folks at The Source Comics and Games, who know my tastes in merchandise, and they made me some offers I can't refuse. The results will appear in due course, as soon as the glue dries. I did get to play in a wonderful game, which I'll tell all about in another post following this one.

Sunday was a little hectic; I had the booth to look after, and get torn down on time. My brother, nephew, and a friend were visiting the convention, and they wanted to tale me, The Missus, and Fifth Daughter out to dinner. So, after more talking to people in the lobby, we got everything disassembled and packed - we were out the door in good time, and dinner was great. Turns out the friend is a police officer, and wants to play in one of my games; I'm really looking forward to this, as having him play one of the Provost's officers would be a real treat for me.

Monday, it rained, so I had to delay unloading until late. I did get a lot of sleep, and I think I've shaken my cold.

I'll talk more about the Tekumel programming track that Brett Slocum runs, in the next post, and then I'll talk about the games that were part of that track. We'll peel this like an onion... :)

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Weekly Update - Monday, February 13th, 2017 - A Cold and A Convention

He looks like I feel, today.

I've been suffering from a very bad head cold all through this past week, and am just now starting to feel like a human being once again. Lots and lots of orange juice and bed rest, and getting chicken soup into me by the bucket load. Which is helping, and I need all the help that I can get; I will be at the local game convention, Con of the North, working for Bill Hoyt as the stagehand for his "RPGs in the Twin Cities" display. Bill will be providing all of the content, as he was there back in the day, and I am setting up the smaller of my two Skyline displays for him to use. This is the same one that we used for the "Dave Arneson Day" at The Source Comics and Games, and is easy to set up and take down. Looks good, too, if I do say so myself.

I will not be running games at the convention; I am, to be honest, too space- and time-intensive for most conventions to get the most out of me. Now, that said, I can highly suggest Brett Slocum's Tekumel programming track, which he's been running for a number of years, and this always has a very good selection of events and GMs. I think you can see his program of games here at the convention's website:

If you're going to be at the convention, I'll be in the Fireside Lounge all weekend, typing away on "To Serve The Petal Throne on my laptop, answering questions, and trying to look intelligent... :)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, February 6th, 2017 - Something Very Cool!

One of the regular denizens of this particular corner of the Internet was kind enough to send along these two photos of the Highborn Lady Vrisa Vishetru, as drawn by Kathy Marshall-Grantham and sculpted by John Winter for Howard Fielding's The Tekumel Project. The original drawing appeared as part of the 'Selected Biographies' series in the old 'zines that we in the original Thursday Night used to do as part of our trying to tell people about Tekumel.

I think that the painter, a very skilled lady from Russia, did a great job on this figure; she's got some other really wonderful figures up on her blog, too:

In the local news, we're still digging out from under the piles of boxes from Zurich, although we can now actually see the floor in a few parts of our little house. I am currently engaged in clearing out the wreckage in the game room and lounge, as this space got used as the 'overflow' from the rest of the house as we cope with all the IKEA stuff coming in from overseas. All sorts of forgotten treasures have reappeared, much to my delight, and I'll start shooting photos of them in the near future.

The big thing right now is the Resident Daughter's classwork!

I did manage to get all of the new clear Plexiglass bases for all of my small-scale ships done; but the very vintage Valiant 'Spanish Main' and 'Ramming Speed' will soon be getting their coats of new paint and be off on more adventures. I should note that the former line is 1/1200, and the latter 1/900, but they seem to mix on the table with no real problems - to my eye, anyway.

The ships from TRE Games do look a little large next to these metal castings, but then I tend to use the TRE ships for smaller fleet actions, and the Valiant ships for larger ones. My usual habit is to have the ships' captains write down their orders, and then I plot the moves out on big sheets of graph paper on a side table. This is per the practice of one Mr. David L. Arneson, who was of the opinion that the best way to simulate the 'fog of war' was to use written orders. He was right; all sorts of things happen, even what the players wanted to have happen, and much fun occurs. (Sailing a ship around is a lot harder than it looks, and there are no brakes on the boat.) I then fight the usual boarding actions on the main game table, with the big ships. It looks great, and lots of swashbuckling happens.

So, lots happening, and lots more to come!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, January 28th, 2017 - New Miniatures, and Wonderful Games

The card we got in our order

Fisrt off, we have a new look here at the Workbench; the old Blogger template that I was using seems to have developed a odd bug, and the colors of the text changed yesterday to something odd. So, a new template, and we'll keep an eye on things.

A new source of fun figures: Alex Bates and his 'Forge of Ice'. He does not have a website per se, but does have a Facebook page. Our set of 'Sleazy Merchant and Sleepy (4) and Alert (2) Guards" has arrived, and are simply fun to look at - they will paint up very well, I think, and I'll get photos up as soon as I can. I'll work on the link, too.

Had a great game session, yesterday, with the D&D group I am playing with. I will have a longer report later, but I was out until after midnight and need to take a nap, now that I have gotten my pills. So, more later; great game play by some very fun players; I also got to talk a lot about Tekumel to people, which was heaps if fun.

Off for now; back in  few hours...

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Fiddler's Recent Comment - A Longer Reply

A Castle in Italy...
I thought that Fiddler’s recent comment deserved a longer reply, so here it is…
One of the things prompting this longer reply is that, over the past decades, nobody from outside my family has ever asked me the question, “What are you really doing?”
People who know me, and the family, already know the answer, so this post is for the people who have been projecting their hopes, their fears, their dreams, and their insecurities onto me for all these years…

            Let it be said that there's nothing wrong with a quiet year / consolidation year. As a matter of fact I did exactly that in 2013, and it proved extremely profitable.

Here are my very specific 2017 "best wishes" for you, Chirine:

1)    to spend some quality time with your daughter;
Exactly. Being a father, and now a grandfather, is the most amazing things I’ve ever done in what has been a long and exciting life. It’s been astonishing, and I’m looking forward to more of this journey.

2)    to add 100K + to your book;
My goal is to finish the book this coming year, and get it into people’s hands for their amusement. This is not going to be a Tekumel version of Jon Peterson’s tremendous book, “Playing at the World”, a new RPG, or anything like that; it’s going to be about a bunch of friends, sitting around a wobbly ping-pong table in a basement room and having a while lot of fun.

3)    to finish the two flyers and the Sakbe road, because these are gonna be so damn gorgeous;
Agreed! These three projects have gotten started up again – I am in the throes of building half a dozen quick-firing radium cannon – and I have now gotten our orders for the new Bronze Age and Forge of Ice figures. New lead always galvanizes and inspires me, and photos will be forthcoming.

4)    to run at least ONE game, just so you can break the spell that weird oblivious dude got you under;
I am hoping to do so as well. As per my ‘rules of engagement’, if somebody wants to organize up a game session, I’ll be happy to host it. Both of my locally-resident daughters want to play in a game like I ususally run, and they may bring some of their friends – we shall see what happens, and I shall keep everyone posted.

5)    and while you're at it (if you DO run that one game), use those splendid new Underworld tiles + lighting, and *film* the whole thing! (Hell, I would drop by the Twin Cities myself just to be in that game, if I had the money.)

That’s the plan. I’ll announce when the game happens, and when we post it. And, you are always welcome, here...

So, there you have it, my friend! A very nice and very rewarding 2017 to you and your family!

Thank you! As I have said many times, all I want to do is paint my figures, tell my stories, and run my games. That’s where we’re going, and everyone is welcome to come along for the ride!

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Weekly Update - Monday, January 23rd, 2017 - The News From The BBC, and Taking My Daughter Shopping For Miniatures

Mr. Mornard is on the left.

For those of you who don't regularly follow the BBC, may we suggest clicking on this audio clip:

This is Mike Mornard, who posts on various Internet forums, and comments - often pungently! - on gaming. For Tekumel fans, he's also known as General Korunme Mnashu hi Chaishyani, Mnashu of Thri'il, and commander of the legion of the same name. It's a fun interview, and highly entertaining.

 I served as the Glorious General's staff officer out at Phil's for years, and we had a lot of adventures; Book Three of "To Serve The Petal Throne" is all about these stirring deeds of mighty valor.

It has been a very busy week, unpacking all of Fifth Daughter's worldly goods; we have an astounding number of very nice cardboard boxes to hand, so anyone needing such things should get a hold of us. As soon as possible, as wwe'd like to see out floors again in this decade.

Along the way, I was asked by her to take her miniatures shopping, so that she could pick out her own 'personality figure' for my campaign; she also picked out one for her older sister, Fourth Daughter. We will need to pick out something proper for 4D's husband - something classically Imperial Chinese, of course - and that will complete the family set. For Oldest Sister / Third Daughter and her handsome man, I already have figures in hand for their PCs. First and Second Grandchildren are also covered, thanks to Dr. M. Burns and his Dark Fable Ancient Egyptians.

The new figures are from Dark Sword Miniatures; DSM-1151 for Fourth Daughter, and DSM-4110 for Fifth Daughter. Pictures of these are on the Dark Sword website:

I use a lot of Dark Sword figures as 'personality figures', not only because I happen to know the guy who owns the place, but because these are truly exquisite figures. They may cost a bit more, but you get what you pay for - I have never had a Dark Sword figure that I have not truly enjoyed painting. The level of detail is a little daunting, but hey - it's something to aspire to. They look great on the table, which is what you want for a figure for those special people in your game.

I am terrified at the notion that, eventually, all of my family will be at the same point in the space-time continuum, and I'll be running that game session.

Not much else to report, so I'll be back later on...

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Weekly Update - Monday, January 16th, 2017 - Utter Pandemonium!!!

Fifth Daughter, giving Comrade Putin a headache.

As mentioned in these pages, Fifth Daughter has come to live with us while she finishes her studies and gets her degree. Things have been going pretty well, at least until noon on Saturday; the moving company called her, and announced that all of her worldly goods would be arriving here at the little house in half an hour.

As might be expected, pandemonium broke out, as we cleared out enough space for what I ahd been told would be ten cubic meters of stuff from her apartment in Zurich. I was in a fine state of distraction, I can tell you, but she and her eldest sister simply gave me The Daughter Look, and assumed that Dad would fix it.

Well, he did; we managed to get everything ready, and then waited for three hours for the truck to arrive. When it did, we got everything in, and I managed to leave enough room in her new abode to assemble her beloved IKEA loft bed. This went together well, with the proviso that daughters should not pack their loft bed hardware in one of their 72 unmarked boxes, and carry the hardware in their checked luggage.

However, being A Dad, I got out my huge box of All Hardware From IKEA (You find them in the IKEA 'As Is' Department, five bucks for five pounds of hardware), and started to assemble the bed with what I had while Third Daughter, Second Son, and Fifth Daughter did the Dance of the Dancing Boxes and finally located the three unique bits of hardware needed to finish the installation. (Yes, I did have a back-up plan. I always have a backup plan.) I am very pleased that she got to sleep in her own bad, that night, with her own sheets, pillows, and blankets. It's a Dad Thing.

Now, besides all this 'family news', there's some very serious model-building news in all of this. Fifth Daughter's job in Zurich was as a trade show demonstration person for a huge chain of crafts stores, similar to the US chain Michael's, and she has unpacked a nice pile of stuff for Dear Old Dad's model-building projects. Amongst the goodies is a pack of very thin wood veneer with adhesive backing, which I can think of all sorts of uses for.

However, she then sprang the surprise. The sheets are intended for use in the Brother Scan-n-Cut series of machines, which are like printers except that they cut out shapes from computer files. My daughter is not only a demonstrator of this device, but also a highly-trained operator of same. And, she's brought over one of these machines - the very top model, no less! - with her. (The mind boggles.) If I can draw it, I can have it in thin veneers, like on the order of one to two millimeters; this is thinner then what I can usually get in laser-cut stuff, and it opens up a whole new universe of things for my miniatures work.

I had no idea that this technology even existed!!! I was directed to the website, and here it is:

Wall treatments, sails for ships, you name it; this is a whole new world for me to explore, and with the delightful option of being able to do these projects with my daughters.

I am, as you might guess, pretty darn pleased. It's one of the perks of being a father, and makes all the hard work shuffling boxes worth it.

There is going to be a series of posts coming along, as soon as I have the time, expanding on Fiddler's comment to my last post. Many things shall be revealed!

Mush be off; I have to move a fridge back into the basement. More later!!!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, January 8th, 2017 - 2017: The Year In Preview

1/900th, I think, and noticeably bigger then the other ships.
I can tell you what we're getting, very shortly...

I usually get to thinking, about this time of the year, about what I'll be up to for the next twelve months. I think that this year will be a year of consolidation, with a lot of building and writing going on. No idea how much actual gaming; that will be up to other people to organize, as I've been saying for most of 2016. It's a matter of time and energy; I have to ration both, these days, so I am concentrating on what I'm good at and what I like to do.

TRE Games will be getting some more of our budgeted cash; I picked up the new quinquereme yesterday at The Source, and when I went to the TRE Games website i found that he' also done a 28mm cog. Over a foot long, and about four inches wide, this ship will fit in very nicely with the rest of the Missuma River Yacht Club and provide some much-needed help to our over-worked merchant fleet. The quinquereme will wind up as the flagship of the TRE fleet, commanding the three biremes and the three triremes I already have. He's also got a range of 15mm 'Arid' buildings, and if he does them in 25/28 mm, I'll simply have to get a set - I love his kits, and these will be perfect for all sorts of games.

What I'm looking at for this year will be a lot more on the side of getting projects done, and a lot less on new projects. I have to get the two Barsoomian flyers done - the big sticking point for them, at the moment, are the deck guns. I've been looking for something that I can suitably liven up to serve as radium cannon, but nothing has surfaced in my travels to local shops so I think I'll have to scratch-build something. I had been looking for things like Edwardian deck guns, in keeping with the ERB outlook, but at about five bucks a gun, the total inventory (for the two hulls) will account for most of the year's miniatures budget. So, it's off to the parts bins, and we'll see what we can come up with. Likewise, the big Sakbe road set will get it's vinyl cladding installed, and the detailing doen to finish that project off. That will be the big effort for the year, simply because it's such a big project.

As I've mentioned before, I don't really 'play rules sets'; I play settings, for particular worlds. These will get more support, as I refine my focus on what I do best, and I'll be getting the unpainted figures in the collection finally done. A lot of figures now in the bins by the workbench will be evaluated for use, and most likely declared 'surplus to requirements' and disposed of. I have very little possible use for a classic D&D City Guard set, so they may have to find new homes; we'll have to see, and think about what kind of games I'd like to run in the future.

I am, to be honest, looking forward to a quiet year; in some ways, we've had too much excitement around here...