Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Weekly Update - Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - Starting The After-Action Report

A moment in the action...
This will be the start of the game report - it's going to be spread about a bit, as this is an on-going game. One of the nice things about having one's own game room is that a game can be set up, left up, and continued; the group will be back in this Saturday - with re-enforcements, I've been assured! - so I will not be revealing too much of what's going on. Yet.

To begin at the beginning, two gentlemen are doing a project on the origins of role-playing games, and approached me about running a game session for them so that they could get the 'feel' of what we used to do back in Ye Olden Dayes. I needed to come up with a game that was fast, fun, easy to understand, and still managed to give the right sense of time and place for them. This is also not likely to develop into a continuing campaign, so this was going to be much more like a convention game or 'one-off' as we used to call them.

The basic premise is that we're back in Hekellu, when I was filling in as the Imperial Governor there, and news has come in of a mysterious ruin that could use some exploration. Normally, we'd have been off like a shot to have a look, but Imperial Governors have many calls on their time so I asked some of the local clans to send me some of their people to go have a look for me - basically, it's Phil's 'Lady Mnella of Jakalla' gambit, where an important personage gets some lower-level people to get their hands dirty. I gave the players some NPC mercenary guards - always happy to get the roughnecks out of town, says the Governor - and sent them off.

I reused the stack of PCs that I'd rolled up for the Gary Con game three years ago, and had the players select their own skills and such; we were using EPT, both for the speed and vintage flavor, and the group was up and running in half an hour. Off they went!

And promptly avoided all the red herrings and diversions I'd thoughtfully provided. I specifically loaded the game table with lots and lots of Significant Clues and Astonishing Distractions, and the players gave them a quick look and moved on; they stayed focussed on the objective of exploring the ruins and surviving. They ran up to the top of the stepped pyramid, took a look around, and were down in the Underworld in no time flat.

It reminded me of the Gary Con game, where the players moved quickly, quietly, and with purpose. These players did the same thing, and got through one of the traps very easily by simply being polite - I had a Nexus Point leading to the Garden of the Weeping Snows, and they didn't fall for it. They took a quick look, marked it for a future adventure, and got on with exploration. They did finally encounter the ruins' guardians, my long-serving Qol from The Tekumel Project, and quite a running fight developed with lots of sorcery being used on both sides. We are currently in the middle of the fight, with the players getting the better of my poor Qol.

Lots and lots of photos to come; this is just the introduction... :)



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  [EDIT: local ]  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...