Monday, May 21, 2018

Care For A 'Pre-school' Adventure?

This particular copy is a year younger then I am.

So, after a miserable weekend, let's get back on track and to the discussion at hand.

I commend to your attention this particular book, which contains a perfectly good adventure that can be played out in several game sessions, using any RPG that one prefers. You'll have to run up the NPCs in your preferred system yourself, but the author of this adventure has done all of the other work for you - setting, plots, details, characters, they're all there.

And you can even adapt this adventure to your favorite world-setting, too! I knew this guy named Phil, who managed quite nicely to adapt this book to the setting of his own campaign, and gave us quite a wonderful series of game sessions. Lady Si N'te, that ever-resourceful and well-connected Priestess of the Goddess, takes all her jewelry business to that nice chap Lurgan of Simla.

I've been taken to task on an RPG forum or two for constantly suggesting that gamers need to read something other then sets of game rules. Well you know, that's what Gary was trying to get at with his 'Appendix N'.

Read. Absorb. Be inspired.

Next up: Dave Arneson and people in cheap rubber monster suits.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Third Option In Action - The Weekly Update, May 20th, 2018

Claudette Colbert, "Cleopatra", 1934

There's going to be a short pause, for a reflective moment, and then we'll get back to my series of posts on game styles.

I had done some one-sheet flyers for my upcoming open-table game in June, and I used this image from one of my favorite movies as an illustration. I was handing out some of the flyers at a friend's house, when one of the other guests informed me that this image was exploiting women, typically demeaning of them, and typical of my gaming interests and styles. I got my ass chewed, not to put too fine a point on it.

I tried to engage the person who was telling me this, asking for specifics, as I am genuinely concerned and curious as to why this particular image was offensive to her. That effort went nowhere, as I was told that as a man I would not be able to understand the issues involved.

I found it all quite odd, and startling. I had run the image past The Missus, as I always do, and she had no issues with it; I had also handed out the flyers to the members of a womens' game group that meets at my usual FLGS, and they had no issues with it - they thought it was funny and fun, from what they said to me.

The incident yesterday was, for me, a curious echo of the chewing out that I had gotten a few months ago for my Ancient Egyptian figures; I had been discussing the utility of the 'palace people' miniatures that I've been able to (finally!) get for games in both Tekumel and Ancient Egypt, when a person I'd known back in Ye Olden Days told me that if I used these figures - which are, when you get down to it, quite historically accurate - at a game at the FLGS he'd "have me run out of the store!" as he thought that they were obscene.

I did talk to the owner after this particular conversation; I've known him for over forty years, and I like both him and his store. He also likes the figures, but asked me as a personal favor not to bring them in for games unless the games are run after the place closes and he can control who sees them. His concern, which I appreciate and understand, is that as a retailer he can't afford to have people complaining about his inventory or events. I've also talked to some of the convention and event organizers I know, and gotten the same reaction and advice.

So, the net result? No miniatures games set in Barsoom, Ancient Egypt, or Tekumel at the FLGS or at conventions for me using these figures. As I've said before, Option Three seems to be the best course for The Missus and I in our gaming. The world, as The Missus remarked, is a very different place from the one we used to know.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Pre-School Gaming - Before 'Old School' and 'New School"

Still suggested.

A while back, during the comments on Google+ over my 'open letter', I mentioned what I'd been playing in RPGs back in the day. I got an interesting comment on that, which I think really points up the huge cultural gap that exists between me and 'modern' gaming.

I mentioned that I've never really 'played D&D'; I've played "something called Blackmoor with Dave, something called Greyhawk with Gary, and something called Tekumel with Phil"(Note One). Back then - and this was a few years ago, remember, and back then none of these three world settings had built up the mass of materials that they have today. There was, forty years ago, a relative dearth of published information on these worlds, let alone the plethora of sets of rules that we now enjoy in our hobby.

One had to 'explore'. Get up, walk around, ask questions, have adventures. It was taken as a given that we'd all read a lot of the same books and seen the same movies; see also Gary's 'Appendix N'. We all knew what we were supposed to be about, and so we sharpened our swords and our wits and got on with our adventures. "Doing it by the book" was impossible; the book - and the game rules - hadn't been written yet. The GMs of the day came up with adventures and worlds that they were set in, and we played our Faferds, Grey Mousers, Conans, and Belits in these new worlds with all the gusto and swashbuckling vigor that we could.

It was, as I've suggested, 'lighting in a bottle'. We learned to run our own campaigns by being apprentices, and we in turn had our own students. And we didn't have much worry about our roots in what's now called 'wargaming'; we moved from one to the other seamlessly, with games being 'sized' as needed by the events as they unfolded. Even the term of art, 'the campaign', is taken from the kind of gaming that we did; we played princes and kings and generals, and off we went on adventures. Xenophon's "Anabasis" was one of our 'adventure paths', for example.

I think that the biggest difference between our 'pre-school' gaming and today's hobby is the shift in reading habits I've seen in gamers. People don't read books; they read games.  Now, this does sell a lot of game books, and does keep game stores in business, but the 'books' section of my FLGS is noted for what I'd call 'a lack of turnover' in the stock.

Well, all right. I can understand this. It does astonish me when gamers visit the game room and are baffled as to why I have lots and lots of books on all sorts of subjects and very few sets of rules on the shelves. They don't read, and they do not understand why I do.

So, next up: Gary, Dave. Phil, and books...

Note One: It's not even my phrase;
Chirine: "Dave, what are we playing?"
Dave: "Oh, something called 'Blackmoor'."

Saturday, May 12, 2018

*My* Play Style - "Lighting In A Bottle" - May 12th, 2018

Have a look; you might just like it.

Real life events around here have finally calmed down to the point where I can get started on the series of posts that I've promised (threatened?) on how I game and why I game that way. I'll try not to be boring. I am also working in a new browser, here at the computer, and I seem to have all of the regular functions of this Google+ platform back. (We shall see.)

As I mentioned, I had been doing an interview with a reader a while back, and he asked what sets of rules I play. I had to stop and think about that, as I really don;t play 'sets of rules' in my gaming; I play settings, not rules. Rules, as one of the recent Google+ commentators on my 'Open Letter To Mike Merles' noted, are platforms; I think he's right about this, as they should be our springboards to adventure, more then anything else.

In a very similar vein, the esteemed author of "Blade and Crown" had a post that I think everyone should read - and to which I strongly subscribe:

we had a very good example of this philosophy in our recent 5e session here at The Workbench, where I took the time to set out the scene of our adventure, and the GM had the time to pre-roll the NPCs and stats; we had a great time socializing while all this happened, and having everything ready for the actual game in advance made it a really fast, tense, taut, and downright exciting game session. No number-crunching, no looking up tables, no fits and starts as obscure rules were unearthed from dusty tomes of ancient lore.

It was, in short, the kind of game session I love to run and play, and what I got used to when I played with some guys named Dave, Gary, and Phil. What I took away from those game sessions, all those years ago, was that I - GM or player - needed to take the time to get my act together before we started play. Take a little time, develop the character or the setting, and then run like crazy during the game session.

A friend of mine, who's played in some of my games, calls this "Chirine's 'lightning in a bottle'." I'd agree with that; he's not sure if it's possible for other people to do it, but I think that it is. So, in the next set of posts, I shall try to Reveal All...

In the meantime, head over to NJW Games, and have a look at some of the brilliance that's happening over there...

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Aftermath: The Ancient Philosophy Of Gaming - Weekly Update, April 30th, 2018

I can now sit down and relax...
Here we are, the day after, and I'm doing my usual post-mortem on the event. I normally do this to figure out what worked and what didn't, to learn for the future.

On my end of it, everything worked. And worked well, first time out. So, as a 'dress rehersal' for what I want to do in my gaming in the future, it all went just fine.

Nobody seemed to have any issues with being 'off the grid', and playing on 'natural' terrain. We only had to use a 6" ruler once, and this was one of those close-range 'hugger-mugger' fights where getting enough fighting room was the biggest issue.

This game was a pretty good example of how we used to do things; the person hosting the game would set up the table, maybe provide the bulk of the figures, and the GM would do the rest. This applied to all our games, because we - not knowing any better, back in our mis-spent youth - didn't know that there was some sort of huge difference between RPGs, board games, and wargames. We just played.

Which is, as you've probably guessed, the transition to my series of posts on game style and philosophy...

It was a very good weekend.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Battle Joined - We Nearly Got Slaughtered, Not To Put Too Fine A Point On It...

Our 1st Level Fighter approaches the shed, while our Cleric (me)
gets jumped from behind by a swarm of snakes.

I go down, and the Warlock casts a spell to save the Fighter.

The Fighter tries to help the Cleric, and nearly goes down.

The Ranger tries to help the Cleric and the Fighter, and goes down.

It was just one of those days, here in the woods, as we got jumped by a swarm (of snakes, of all things) from the rear while starting to investigate the shed / shack we had seen through the trees. The two guards were dealt with by the Warlock's spell after they went after our Fighter, who nearly got killed by their sudden attack. The rest of the party had their collective hands full dealing with the swarm, as the GM was rolling spectacularly well and we were all rolling spectacularly badly. It turned into a struggle of our tactics vs. their brute force, and we did finally win through and rescue some prisoners we found in the shed.

This turned into a very tight little fight, with a lot of mayhem in a small space. It was a challenge, but we did it. We had about half the usual group present to play, due to other commitments in real life, but we managed. This D20 adventure is, if you were asking for my opinion, too lethal for a smaller and lower level party like ours; on the other hand, if we'd been up to full strength, we'd have had a much less difficult time of it. So, you pays your money and you takes your chances - such is the life of an adventurer, after all.

The table went over well, as did the scenery and miniatures. Everybody had a good time, and we'll be back here on June 10th for the next installment of this saga.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Eve Of Battle - D&D 5e, Here Tomorrow!

The night is quiet...
...too quiet, perhaps...
A clearing in the forest, with the adventurers awake.
We're set and ready; all I have to do is put out the snacks.
And put out the chairs, of course.

Well, I'm as set and ready for my very first ever D&D game session here at The Workbench. I've set the table in my usual 'classic' style; it'll be interesting to see how the players handle gaming on a table without a 1" grid on it. The fridge is stocked, the chips ready, the buffet in place, and the dice all washed and buffed.

It's been kind of a long haul to get to this point - I had to swap out the 52" plasma screen for the 52" LCD screen due to a pixellation issue, and each of the things weighs nearly 100 pounds each -  but the game room is now in what will be mostly it's final form. I still need to wire the place up for video and podcasts, but that will come in due course. We're out of 'warehouse mode', and back into 'gaming mode', and The Missus says she's looking forward to having guests again.

The terrain system worked perfectly; the table set-up took a whole fifteen minutes, from unlocking the storage shed to having everything ready to go. These are the 'temperate' tiles, with the set of 'temperate' trees, as this is one of the elven forests of Blackmoor and not one of the less-inhabited pine forests that one often encounters. Trees by Lemax, underbrush by Life-Like, mayhem by Dave Arneson.

So, we're all set up. I'll have some fun stuff on the DVD players to fill in the time while we're stuffing our faces on the buffet, and I'll make sure to take pictures for you to ponder as we play.

More to come!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Fair Warning! Big Essay On The Way! - The Weekly Update, April 24th, 2018

Setting sail into new seas...

What a difference a week makes! 15: of snow on the ground at this time last week, and now it's all gone. I, for one, an delighted!

In domestic news, Fifth Daughter has now finally and completely moved out, and we have our house back entirely to ourselves for the first time in a decade. The quiet is deafening!

I am in the throes of getting the game room ready for the 5e game this weekend, and I will have photos and a report for everyone afterwards.

The title of this little placeholder refers to an interview I'm doing, during which the question was asked "So, what is your play style?" I'm trying to formulate a coherent answer to that, and you'll be seeing it as a series of pretty long (and hopefully interesting!) posts later on this week. Until I finish typing, you may want to have a look at my YouTube channel - link on the column opposite, down near the bottom

Back shortly!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

On Hold - Weekly Update - April 15th, 2018

Yep; that time of year again...

The local situation, this morning...

Everything is on hold, this weekend. We've had about 14" of snow over the past day, and the van refused to start due to blowing snow getting under the poor old thing and getting the wiring wet. We've been putting a tarp ober it to help with this, and it worked fin during the last storm we had. It didn't save the day this time around, so the van is off to the shop to get dried out.

Fifth Daughter's move into her new home has also been delayed, but she's only got one load left so things will be clear by the weekend. I have gotten the game room clear of debris, the workshop and laundry sorted, and we're on track to have our first guests in the game room (in several years) at the end of this month.

Life goes on, just wetter and slower...

Monday, April 9, 2018

Hoist By My Own Petard - The Belated Weekly Update - Monday, April 9th, 2018

Temptation, on the hoof (as it were)

Pandemonium reigns, here at The Workbench; Fifth Daughter is moving out, into her new townhouse with her fiance. It's been a long process, as the poor old van has not been running reliably; it will start just fine if the weather is dry, but gets sulky if it's wet. At 338,600 miles, it probably has every right to be, and our mechanics (who have been looking after the old beast for over a decade, now) have advised us to not put any mode money into the van and advised us to simply get a tarp to throw over the van when it looks like rain.

So, we did, and it works just fine. Had some snow the past couple of days, and wrapping the van up worked perfectly.

Anyway, there's one last load due to go out the door, and then The Missus and I get our house all to ourselves for the first time in over a decade. All of the boxes and tubs that we've been living out of now will go back into what used to be 'the spare room' and we're going to be able to do a lot more with our live sin very short order. And, to be honest, a college student is a pretty large expense; our annual disposable income is going to effectively triple, which means that we can do a lot of the things that we've always wanted to do - but didn't have the money for.

TRE Games, for example, now has some very useful wagon kits, which I saw at the FLGS; they are not yet up on the TRE website, but I'm sure he'll be happy to sell them to you. (Tell him Chirine sent you.)

And, also to be honest, the timing of all this could not be better. Due to an event being run at the FLGS, the D&D 5E group that I play in / co-GM is going to be held here at the house in our game room the end of this month. Aside from the usual 'panic factor' of getting everything ready, this will be a historic moment - it will actually be the very first time a real D&D game will be played here since we moved in over thirty years ago.

I'm sort of assuming that we'll still be in the midst of the D20 "Redwood Scar", so I shall dig out a nice forest for the game table and set out the scene the way I usually do. We'll see how it goes; I will admit that I'm looking forward to it.

And I got an interesting question in over the transom, with a request to do an essay on my game style. So, that's up next, as soon as I proofread all the typos... :)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Play Style: Gary Gygax - The Weekly Update (3) - Monday, March 26th, 2018

Still a classic RPG movie, I think.

We've come full circle in my gaming life, to Gary Gygax. This is actually the hardest post to write, as I have a lot less gaming 'face time' with Gary then I had with Dave and Phil; I really on saw him at conventions and after TSR stockholders' meetings, where I had been sent by Dave to annoy the Blume brothers with questions they they didn't really want to answer.

For Gary, I used to suggest an animated short film, "The Duel", as an example of Gary's skill at taking a premise and running with it. He was very, very good at this, and you were careful as a result. He was, I think, the 'middle ground' between Dave and Phil, with a little of Dave's 'improv' style and some of Phil's 'grand historical epic' school. He was very good, very quick, and very literate - the much-discussed 'Appendix N' was a list of the books and films that had inspired him, and it's still one of the best introductions to the genre that I can think of.

Which leads us to the two 1980s "Conan" movies. Yes, they both do have issues, but I think they do serve as example of what playing with Gary was like. A straight-foward tale of adventure and derring-do, with a dash of romance thrown in every now then to remind you why you were out having an adventure and why there were other things in an adventurer's life then loot.

If you have the time, get a bucket of popcorn, and sit down in front of the biggest screen you can find and watch "Conan the Barbarian: and "Conan the Destroyer". It's all about a couple of parties of adventurers off on quests, which is the heart and soul of this RPG thing we do.

Questions? Thoughts? How can I describe this better?

Play Style: M. A. R. Barker - The Weekly Update (2) - Monday, March 26th, 2018

Even more epic, 'cause it's historical...

Continuing in our EPIC! vein, gaming with Prof, Barker in his Tekumel. Again, I used to suggest a video, this one about the siege of Jotapata:

Being in the legions, back in the day, we did a lot of this kind of thing. But, as Phil's campaign matured, we spent more and more time in the culture and in society. Enter the historical epic of the Maratha soldier, Bajirao:

Phil loved this kind of thing, and regularly borrowed from 'real' history to fill out his 'created' history of Tekumel. As this story is a little more complicated, I'd suggest this review of the movie:

And again, a little taste; The Queen, Our Hero's wife, is not delighted by her husband's falling in love with another woman (even thought she's a princess from the next kingdom over from her own) but when the court exiles the new girl to the courtesans' quarters - which is an insult, frankly - the queen steps in and invites the princess to join her, thereby making the princess her friend, ally, and co-wife:

(Please note: you don't need subtitles; the acting is that good.)

This movie is Phil, at his best: Action! Adventure! Romance! His creation of Tekumel has been described by some gamers as "weird and inaccessible", but I disagree; this is all Phil, all the time, with all the life, love, excitement, and detail of something he'd been working on since 1948.

Sharpen your tulwar, get into your armor, and let's have an adventure! There's treasure to be found, battles to be fought, friends to help, mysteries to be solved, kingdoms to be won, and dreams to be dreamed!

Play Style: Dave Arneson - The Weekly Update (1) - Monday, March 26th, 2018

Not just 'epic', but EPIC!

The article about the game room over on Multiverse has resulted in more then a few questions coming my way, and chief amongst them is "What was it like to play with Dave/Gary/Phil?"

I'll try to answer that; I used to suggest a video clip on YouTube, the short film "The Duel At Blood Creek", as an eample of a typical Dave Arneson game, as it's got all sorts of detail, swordplay, great dialog, and a surprise ending that I won't spoil for you if you watch it. Eveything I'd expect from a game with Dave, and full of laughter and excitement with great dollops of sheer fun.

I have, I think, finally found something that really does give that true 'Arneson flavor'. May I commend to you the series of epic (and I do mean EPIC!) "Baahubali" films. For information on them, please see:

The series is all about the adventures of The Hero, and all of the Heroines and Sidekicks you'd ever want to see. I will not give you any spoilers; I will give you a taste of the world of "Baahubali", because it's just like what playing in Blackmoor was with Dave:

1) The Heroine is in Dire Peril; being a Heroine, she gets right down to slaughtering the bad guys, but can't get enough arrows into the air to stop them. Just as it looks grimmest, The Hero arrives...

2) The Villain, who really is a villain what with repressing the people and keeping The Hero's beloved mother in prison and tormenting her with stories about what he's going to do to her son if he shows up to rescue her, suddenly finds The Hero and his army outside the city; as the walls are impregnable, he feels safe, but, The Hero will rescue his beloved mother, no matter what...

When I say 'epic' gaming, I mean EPIC! gaming, which is what I learned from Dave.

If you can do flying shield walls in your adventures, you are playing in an 'Arnesonian' EPIC! style...


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Appearing On "Multiverse"...

The folks over at the new version of TSR have a blog, "Multiverse", where they talk about all sorts of things related to games and gaming - comics, and movies, too.

They have kind of a regular feature called "What's On Your Shelf?", and having heard about what's in our basement, made some noises about doing an article on the game room and lounge. I dug out some photos for them, shot some more, and this neat little article is the result:

Regular readers will have seen the game room being rebuilt into it's current form, but I'd thought I'd share... :)

And have a look at Multiverse, too! They have all sorts of fun stuff going on.

[Edit: Sorry about the lack of title, originally; that'll teach me to post while tired!]

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Weekly Update (3) - Sunday, March 18th, 2018 - Two Polycoms, No Waiting...

The one...

and the other...

So, I can hear you ask, "What's with all the technology?"

"It's remote access gaming," sez I in my best Peter Gunn pirate voice.

Back in my career as a audio-video technician, I built a lot of conference rooms for businesses, and got pretty good at it. So, The Missus thought, why not use our connections in the surplus market to get some of this technology, and use it to make our game room more accessible to people. So, we have.

The idea, at this point, is that if you and your game group want to visit our house and our game room you'd have to get to Minneapolis. Our thought is to take our house to you - electronically, of course. What's been our concern is the relatively poor technical quality of the audio and video that we've seen on the Internet, and we've been working on how to improve on that.

One aspect of this has been the new computer for the game room; it has it's own camera, but we're going to be interfacing our multi-camera system to it as well as our own audio feed; we're looking at providing the best possible feeds that we can. You'll be able to look at the game room on your computer, as well as look at the game session later on youTube after we upload the video - providing, of course, that everyone who's on the screen agrees; if you are having a bad hair day, we'll keep the recording in the archives.

What the Polycoms give us is much better and more reliable audio quality on your side of the connection; We have two of these units, and all they need from you is a wall plug and an analog phone line. We can also go through a cell phone, too. The idea is that you fire up the phone, after we send it to you, call up the game room, and we're off with up to ten or fifteen people at your game table. After the session, you put the phone back in the box, and end it back to us. (Shipping prepaid, most likely; we're working out the details.)

And with the possibility of adding in more lines for conference calls, you can see why we're so excited by all of this.

Surplus is a wonderful thing... :)

The Weekly Update (2) - Sunday, March 18th, 2018 - A Tale Of Two Cameras...

From this...

To this...

A very big part of the changes about to engulf us is the way we communicate with people. Back in the day, you either were published in the magazines or out at conventions; these days, we have the Internet will all sorts of amazing possibilities. We had one of these amazing possibilities come up on Thursday evening, and we jumped on it. Hard. Very hard.

Long-time followers of this blog will remember when we got the little pocket video camera, the 'Bloggie', and how we did some podcasts with it which are up on our YouTube channel. The 'Bloggie' is a nice little camera, but it does have some very real limitations when it comes to the kind of 'field production' that we'd like to be doing. The new Sony digital camera puts our production capacity right back where we're used to having it; we're breaking down our inventory of video production gear into the component parts, and recombining it all into two broad areas: field production, where we can shoot both 'A-roll' and 'B-roll' footage for later editing and uploading to our YouTube channel, and studio production, which will be a switched three-camera shoot from the game room.

I'll be you were kind of wondering what this had to do with gaming, didn't you? :)

Back when we were shooting the YouTube videos, we felt more then a little limited by the hardware involved; I could not cut to close-ups of the miniatures I was talking about, for example. Audio quality also wasn't all that great, and certainly not up to the standards that I would have expected from somebody with our level of production experience. We're going to divide up the microphones we have amongst the studio and the field kit, and we think that this will really add some 'production value' to what we want to do.

A by-product of all this is that we also have enough spare cameras, switcher capacity, and microphones to also wire up the workbench itself as well as the workshop proper so that we can bring you 'how to' videos sharing with you how I do things - you can learn from my disasters, The Missus says.

The digital still camera fleet is also being reorganized, with a primary and a secondary camera being set up for both archival and game documentation work. It's been amazing to see how much gear we've accumulated through our surplus market connections over the past year, and it's time to get it all sorted out and packed for use. And, because this is our house, we can leave everything set up and functional between shoots - no time and energy lost in set-up and tear-down, which will be a big help to us.

So, I have a lot of work to do, this year, but it's all starting to happen this weekend. We're off!!! :)

The Weekly Update (1) - Sunday, March 18th, 2018 - First, A Little Housekeeping...

Fifth Daughter, in her native habitat

This is the first part of what may be a longish set, bringing everyone up to speed with developments here at The Workbench; please bear with us, as there's a lot going on...

Fifth Daughter will be moving ou of the house in a couple of weeks, to move in with her fiance in their new townhouse. This will mean that for the first time in over a decade, The Missus and I will be 'empty nesters', with the house entirely our own. This will being some really major changes to our lives, as we move all of our boxes of stuff back into what used to be 'the spare room' and getting more then half of our house's square footage back. We're in for a month's worth of very intensive work, but once it's done it's done; I spent most of the past two days digging out and de-icing the garage door, so I could bring all of Fifth Daughter's boxes in, but this is now done. I can access the sheds, too, and with the arrival of the warmer weather hereabouts I can get cracking on projects and repairs that have had to go into hibernation, over our cold and snowy winter.

The move will also drastically lower our household expenses, as we'll no longer have to provide a lot of services at our expense. We'll also see a drastic lowering of our stress levels, as the 'constant pandemonium' of having a resident college student will no longer apply. We'll have a lot more time, energy, and resources to put into things, and The Missus and I are looking forward to our new lives. Coupled with Der Bug's reliability and my new job, we're going to be in really good shape, going forward from here.

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Look Back At An Old Post, This Morning...

From the blog "Chirine's Workbench", March 16th-17th, 2012:


 This is going to be a very personal post, told from a very personal point of view, and with some very personal feelings.

 This post wasn't originally going to be what you're about to read; I had wanted to talk about going out to see "John Carter". I had a day off, the first one in several months, and I wanted to take my very own Dejah Thoris out for a day's excursion. As Prof. Barker's archivist, I especially wanted to see this movie because I'd just found his childhood copy of "A Princess of Mars", and I thought it would be fun to see a movie that Phil would (I thought) enjoy; he'd loved the various "Conan" movies, as he'd read the Howard stories as they'd come out, back in the day when I taken him out to see them, and he was like a kid again watching them.

 I didn't get to see the movie.

 Instead, I buried an old friend.

 I got the call from the house at 11:15 this morning, and I'm just now back home at about 00:15 local time. Phil had been in slowly declining health over the past six months, and he'd taken a very marked turn for the worse over the past 36 hours. He passed away about 10:30 this morning, and the news passed like the flames of a chain of signal beacons along a Sakbe road.

 In Islam, the departed are to be buried within twenty-four hours; they have gone on their final journey and it is the responsibility of the family, the friends, and the faithful to take care of what Allah the Most Merciful and Compassionate has left behind.

 We did. We prepared the empty husk of the brilliant, eccentric, funny, cranky, and unique man I knew for so many years, and then we carried him down his stairs in his home for the last time. Like so many Praetorians, we did what we'd promised we did for him so many years ago; we took care of him, and we took care of Ambereen.

 I rode with him for the last time on the way to the mosque, and when I was asked by the brothers who were to prepare him for the prayers of the faithful why I was there, all I could respond with was something that Phil had said about me to some of his players back when I was twenty-five and he had come with Ambereen to my birthday party: "This is the son I never had."

 I stayed with him for the last time as they washed and anointed him, and I was asked about this man who had departed from us. I told them of his gifts as a linguist and as a scholar, of his writing, and of his life. I told them of his conversion to Islam, and his abiding faith. I told him of how he'd taught so many of us so many things, and I told them of his astonishing creation of an entire world.

 I stayed with him while he was given the robes he would wear for his final trip in this world, and I stayed with him while the faithful offered their prayers for him. Together, we took him to the cemetery, and we returned him to the earth that he had sprung from. We took Ambereen home, and stayed with her telling stories of our times with him; there will be, I am told, an official memorial in the near future. Tonight was, though, just for us.

 We'll be back there tomorrow, as the family members fly in from all points, and we'll do what we can to help. That's what we came to do, all those years ago, and what we'll do for him and for Ambereen in the future; be there for them, and to serve the Petal Throne.

 And now, if it's all right, I'll be off to try and get some sleep. I'll have more later, when I have the chance.

 Thank you all, once again...

yours, chirine

[Edit. I thought it had been five years, I guess it's been six. It's always been a difficult day for me, ever since, and I hope you'll excuse me for the confusion. Thanks. - the Management]

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Has It Really Been Ten Years? Seems Like Just Yesterday...

It's been brought home to me today - yet again - that we here at The Workbench seem to measure time in different ways then most people do. It seems like just yesterday that I first heard this news, and it's still fresh in my memory.

Gary was always unfailingly kind, polite, and respectful to me, despite knowing full well that I worked for Dave Arneson and M. A. R. Barker. We'd bump into each other at Gen Cons and TSR stockholders' meetings, and he'd always have something nice to say to me; I got to play in his Greyhawk, after the latter, and at one of the former - the first Gen Con at the University of Wisconsin Parkside - he walked up to me and said "You do the miniatures for Prof. Barker, right? Then this is from me to you." And then he handed me this:

I have a lot of artifacts in my game room from across the decades, but this gift from Gary is one of the most special things in my archives, simply because from whom it came and the spirit in which it was given. I carried this case, full of the miniatures you've seen on this blog in previous posts, out to Phil's Tekumel game sessions for the next decade.

Three years ago, it carried the same miniatures out to Gary Con for my Tekumel RPG session. After I put the figures out on the table, I took the case upstairs to the Gary Con charity auction. If you looked under the foam - which is still in great shape, after four decades! - you'd find some signatures. Gary's kids Luke, Ernie, their three sisters, and his grandson Alex were all kind enough to sign the inner side of the case. The case will stay in the archives, doing what Gary gave it to me to do - carry figures to my games - and then it'll go to my grandkids. (If they don't want it, it'll go to his kids.)

We miss you, Gary. Have a good time looking over everyone's shoulders, this coming weekend.

Kyrie eleison...

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Packages And Load-ins - The Weekly Update - Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

Just arrived today! Hurrah!

I'm happy to report that my envelope from Wizkids arrived in today's mail, and that the "Adventurers' Campsite" set is now complete. The two horses will go to the new 'Blackmoor' miniatures tray, and the various accessories to the little sorting boxes - formerly fishing tackle boxes, I think - that I use for stuff like this. Organization is key when using 'props' / 'set dressing' like this in games; one should be able to get the stuff out and on the table quickly, so as not to slow down the flow of the game play.

As you can probably see from the various photos I've taken of my games that are here and on my Photobucket page, I love 'clutter' like this for games. It always seems more satisfying for players to be able to say "I duck behind the barrels!" and I find the setting-up and setting-out to surprise the players to be just as satisfying. It's a particular play-style, I freely admit, and not for everyone or to everyone's taste in gaming. So, I'm very happy to have this set - it's like getting a package from John McEwan, back in the day, who made a huge range of stuff like this that we all used in out games.

The "Ezmerelda's Wagon" did kind of stump me for a little bit, as it doesn't look all that much like a historical wagon - what with The Missus being such a horse fan, we have a lot of books on horse-drawn vehicles, so off I went to do a little research in the stacks and on the Internet. Luckily for me, I have a nice selection of books and brochures from various British museums on living wagons, like the vardo, living van, and the showmen's wagon, so I have a lot of good references from which to work up a decent paint scheme. I can't tow it around with a steam traction engine in 'Blackmoor', but I'll see about a draft horse or two - the two horses in the set are riding horses, and would not have been used as the motive power for the wagon. (And yes, I do have several nice traction engines on the model railway.) I also picked up the titling cart and a pair of oxen, so one of those can pull this wagon and the other the cart.

(I was also led to the D&D module that the wagon was originally introduced in, "The Curse of Strahd". I read through that, in search of model information, and didn't particularly like it for several reasons. As I seem to have cause a bit of a ruckus on Google+ with my earlier observations, I'll save my thoughts on the subject for another time.)

Two other projects got done today; I was asked for some photos of the game room for a possible magazine article, and I had to bring a 52" LCD screen in from The Bug. It measures 49" across, and The Bug had 52" of width, so it just fit. This is another surplus buy, and I'm hoping to use it as a table-top display for games. The Missus is a whiz at electronic stuff - she updated the OS on this computer, Friday - and has suggested doing digital maps like the one she adapted from Phil's huge map of the Jakallan Underworld. This 52" is heavy, but very 'over-built' for what I want. It'll also act as a back-up to the 52" plasma screen in the game lounge, like the Sony 42" LCD does for the plasma screen in the game room. Wiring up the video systems has started, and we're off on a wonderful new phase in our gaming.

Oh, and I got the laundry done, too.

Tomorrow, it's groceries and painting miniatures! Hooray!!!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due, or, It's Not All Doom And Gloom Around Here...

As the title says, it's not all doom and gloom in these parts. As mentioned, Con of the North came around a while back, and my brother and my nephew stopped by for dinner. There's a game shop next door to our favorite food place, and The Missus got the giggles after seeing this set on the shelf.

It was kind of point of honor between Phil and I, back in the day, that if we ran into it in our games we'd have it on the table for the gamers to boggle over. A lot of what could be described as 'accessories' got made, and I still like to have these sorts of things around for games - if only for the comic possibilities, like the time the Glorious General ran through a campfire yelling his head off; everybody thought he was being particularly heroic, but he said it was to get the vicious biting ants out of his kilt.


So I got this set, along with a figure for the new Rogue in our 5e campaign, and I was pretty delighted to be able to have this for players to marvel at. I did run into an issue, though; the box printing was in error, with the contents list for the painted version of the set instead of this unpainted version. I contacted Wizkids about this, and they directed me to their product support site, as they were aware of the problem with the discrepancy of the contents. I was very pleasantly informed that they were standing behind their product, and they had sets of miniatures to make up the differences in the sets all ready to go and one such set is now on the way to me.

I am very, very happy to be dealing with a company that owns up to mistakes and supports their products. That's good business, and I support that. The figures are good, they come already in primer, and they paint up well. I got some more of their line this past week, as I believe in supporting a company that does business this way.

So, lots of fun here, and I'll have photos after I get some paint on these...

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Third Option - The Weekly Update - February 25th, 2018


One of the people commenting on the recent posts I've been making had a very, very good comment tonight that really does a much better job of articulating what's been going on in my life - both real world and gaming world - for the past few years, and I'd like to share it with you; it's also in the comments section of the post on Watching The World Go By:

From Scott Anderson:

+Chirine ba Kal What it matters is people are demanding that other people play differently;

-to include some hypothetical group of people who don't actually exist in the form these agitators imagine

-without examining how you or I actually play now
-presuming we are bad because of our age, sex, and other demographics
-and attempting to change the hobby to exclude the people they imagine us to be in favor of the imaginary people they wish existed.

On each of these points, I am deeply offended, and especially so on the very first: how dare anyone not at my table tell me how to play?

You may believe you are inoculated against these attacks, but you aren't. At some point you will have to make a choice between standing by the principle of true inclusiveness, which you exhibit, and playing the game this Inquisition demands. And speaking from experience, that's a game you cannot win.

It's good that for most of us, this is hypothetical; no one is able to force their game on us. But it's deeply offensive that they would try it, and that WotC would actively participate and applaud.

These are points that I agree with; I try very hard not to judge people by any preconceived notions I might have, and I would have expected to get the same consideration in return. I've had all too many incidents over the decades where I have not, and it's finally come to a head.

I am very fully aware that I am not inoculated against attacks from people; this is the age of the Internet, after all. I do think that, over the past year, I have made my choice about what I want to do in my gaming and in my 'public appearances', both in person and on line; I choose to stay with my principles and my beliefs, and if that bothers people, then so be it.

I've had the Inquisition in a few times, and we've beaten them off; we'll still be doing that. Would-be 'Game Police' should be warned that while The Missus and I try not to start 'em, we do tend to finish 'em; I've outlived a lot of my detractors, and I expect to outlive a few more.

I'm also choosing to exercise the third option open to me. "No gaming is better then bad gaming", as my old friend Mike Mornard likes to say,  so from this point on I will not be doing any gaming that I do not find personally enjoyable. This is both for the games I play and run, and for the various places that I go on the Internet. I am continually surprised by the people who insist that I have to game the way that they want me to, say the things they want me to say, and do the things that they want me to do for them.

So, while I've done an awful lot of things for an awful lot of people for free over the years, that's over and done with. I choose to put our resources into what The Missus and I enjoy and like, and if people want to come along for the fun, they are certainly welcome to. I have my writing and my model-building, and she has her writing and her crafts; we'll be happy to share, as long as people are interested and remember to say 'thank you' once in a while.

I'll continue the RPGsite thread for as long as people want to ask me questions, and when interest dies off we'll say goodbye with no regrets. This blog and my musings will continue, as I start a new and wonderful chapter in my gaming story with everyone having remote access to my game table. I'm looking forward to it, and I hope to have it all up and running soon.

Thank you all again, and I'll look forward to meeting all of you electronically...

A Pause For The Weather...

The view out the front door...

The flock, in winter

Things are going slowly today; I had another eight inches of snow to deal with, as well as the usual weekend housework. The Bug is off the street - we get plowed tonight - and I have to move it back at 0800 tomorrow morning.

I hope to be back later on today; we shall have to see. In the meantime, thank you all once again for your comments - I find them fascinating!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Ahhh, What's 'thaco'? - Some Notes, For Reference...

First off, tonight, thank you all for your comments! I've been working an odd combination of shifts as well as dealing with our local back-to-back snowstorms - four inches Friday, possibly four to eight inches today - so I suspect I'll be back with more sentient comments and replies tomorrow and then we'll get back to the usual course of things hereabouts.

I'm still thinking about getting into the comments and observations my recent 'open letter' has elicited. I'm seeing an issue - not with the commentators, but with me - that I may not have the vocabulary or gaming experience to be able to offer any useful observations on the larger world of the modern gaming hobby.

This introspection was brought on by one commentator who observed that they felt my having played "something called Blackmoor, something called Greyhawk, and something called Tekumel" was a form of boasting. Perhaps; I meant it as a statement of fact. I have never played any of the various editions of D&D that have been around, from the 'white box' set on. When I played with The Dynamic Duo, there weren't copies of The Rules at the game table; they ran whatever they were doing off the top of their heads, and if they ever looked at The Rules it was very unusual. They 'winged it', and our assumption as players was that the GM ran the game, and we provided the adventure. (And a lot of low comedy, usually.) I have not played Gamma World, Traveller, GURPS, or any of the other games that the folks commenting have mentioned. I've been playing the same few published games (Chainmail and EPT, are examples) for decades, a) because they work just fine for me and my players, and b) I play world-settings, not rules systems. (Braunsteins, on the other hand, I learned by oral tradition from The Tribal Elders.)

When I say "something called Blackmoor, something called Greyhawk, and something called Tekumel" I am using Dave Arneson's own phrase:

Me: "Dave, what are we playing?"
Dave: "Something I came up with called Blackmoor."
Me: "Oh. Okay."

Remember the player at that Gen Con who showed up with every book from every edition of D&D?

Player: "So, Mr. Arneson, what edition are we using?"
Dave, proffering a hand to shake: "Hi! I'm Dave Arneson, nice to meet you!"

Yes, I do understand the importance of game mechanics - I've written a few, over the years - but I don't worry too much about them as I play as can be seen in my YouTube videos. So, I am not sure that I have much to add to the quite fascinating discussion that's taken place, or if any observations by Yours Truly would be of any help.

And I do love a good discussion. Over on the RPG forum that I'm still on, I've been lucky enough to have the site owners and the members let me have a 'corner booth' for an on-going dialog:

These are basically me be ing propped up in a corner, and answering all of the questions people put to me. Part One went to 600 pages, 5,999 posts, and 254,857 views; Part Two is currently at 235 pages, 2,344 posts, and 79,354 views. (The thread had to be cut into two sections, as it was slowing down the web site's server.) I am, quite genuinely, utterly astonished that the discussion has been going on now for over a year. I have no real idea why; I just hope that I'm not boring people to tears with my ruminations.

I also don't have the same kind of game-play experience that most people these days seem to. I don't like 'one-off' games that come and go in the blink of a convention or game day, and I prefer long-term campaign gaming where the GM gets the chance to develop his world-setting and we players get to develop our characters in that setting. We never paid much attention to 'experience points', as we played with some very tough and very clever GMs who rated us on simple survival more then anything else.

So, again, I don;t know if I'll wade into the discussion; we'll see, tomorrow.

In the meantime, it's back to the paintbrushes and the snow shovel...

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Watching The World Go By; Thoughts And Observations

My miniature alter ego and his deck chair, circa 1978

A couple of regular readers have asked what prompted yesterday's 'Open Letter'; It's the result of the proverbial 'straw that broke the camel's back', after some years - decades, really - of getting grief for what I believe in and what I've done over time. As a certain sailor that I grew up with used to say, "I've had all I can stands, and I can't stands no more!"

I've been watching the discussion that's been going on, over on Google+, and I'd like to suggest that anyone interested in gaming scroll through the comments to the one from Chgowiz about not really looking at blogs any more; I agree with him, but what I really want people to read - and absorb! - is his philosophy of gaming. It's the very best description of what people did back in the dawn of the hobby, and what I treasure in gaming.

So, 'on getting grief from people', and why I'm such a cranky old codger; let's look at a few of the straws that the poor old camel has accumulated, over the years...

Back before I married The Missus, I had a girlfriend. We had a pretty good relationship, but one of the biggest reasons why it foundered was the very negative reaction to our skin colors. We were what used to be called a 'salt-and-pepper couple', and quite a few of the people we met in the course of our lives had quite negative things to say about the two of us because of that. Later on, quite a few people - some of the same ones, too - objected to The Missus, as they felt she wasn't a suitable match for Yours Truly. (We've been together now for some thirty years.) So much for the vaunted 'Minnesota Nice'.

Regular readers will recall that I have five daughters, all of whom were adopted and each under their individual terms and conditions; we chose to be a family, and my kids are from all across every possible range of every possible spectrum. The Missus and I accepted them for who they are, not what they are, and we got a lot of grief from people we knew for doing so. My least favorite quote from a now-former friend: "Why do you spend so much time with them? They aren't your real kids, you know!"

I use miniatures in RPG games. This is, I gather, some sort of Dire Heresy. And, to make it worse, I still play the games that I played back in the day, and don't play the hottest newest thing in the business. I am, I am told, Not A Serious Gamer both for this and for using plastic figures in games that are Not Serious Games Played By Serious Gamers As Part Of A Serious Game Group.

I'm told that I oppress gays in my games, and that Prof. Barker oppressed gays in his games because he was a devout Muslim. This is news to both myself and many of Phil's gamers, as we never saw anything of the sort. I did go back and check the notes, transcripts, and audio tapes of both his and my game sessions, and I can't find anything of the sort.

I'm told that I oppress pagans, by making them game with evangelical Christians. Again, this is news to me; I don't ask what beliefs people hold when they game with me.

I'm told that I hate women and that I repress them. Back when I ran a production crew, I hired the best people I could find. It turned out that over half of them were women, and they were some of the very best technicians I ever worked with. I got a lot of grief from (male) people for doing this, which still baffles me.

I'm told that my blog is "A detriment to our business interests", and that "You need to be silenced"; one OSR publisher who told me that did so in an e-mail, following it up with a bribe; if I would submit any blog or forum posts to them for them to edit, they'd gave me trips to Gary Con and North Texas RPG Con. I declined to submit to their censorship, as I prefer to stay independent; if you look at my reviews of stuff, you'll note that I pay for what I get - no freebies. I am beholden to nobody, and I like it that way.

When I started doing this blog, years ago, all I intended was having a small corner of the Internet where I could tell you about the fun we had out at Phil's, and show you my miniatures. That's what it will continue to be, and if you can take away anything to use in your games from it, then I am happy. If you don't, that's just as fine with me, and I hope that you have fun with whatever games you play.

I haven't been enjoying the 5th Edition game I've been in until recently, when I got do have some of my kind of fun by doing miniature figures for all my fellow PCs. I really enjoyed their reactions; it made getting reamed a new one by a 5e Expert for dragging the party down by not being an expert in the rules of having a laptop / tablet / smart phone with the right apps on it for managing my own PC and being told that I should not be playing in the game because of this. "Okay," I said, "If I'm ruining the game for you, I'm out." I handed my character sheet to the GM, and that - I thought - was that. Later, the GM apologized, and the group asked me back; I thought that pretty decent of them, and so I'm enjoying some fun with some new friends.

And that, for me, is what gaming is all about. And what this blog with continue to be all about, if I have anything to say about it.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy this little effort.

An Open Letter To Mike Mearls at Wizards of the Coast...

Dear Mr. Mearls:

I am writing in response to a number of Twitter posts I've seen go by on the Internet from you, and in response to the whooping and hollering on the Internet that seems to have resulted from them.

I doubt that you know me, or know of this little blog. By way of an introduction, until very recently I'd never played any of your firm's products - "Dungeons and Dragons", to be specific. My role-playing experience, over the last forty years, was something called 'Blackmoor' with Dave Arneson, something called 'Tekumel' with Prof. M. A. R. Barker, and something called 'Greyhawk' with Gary Gygax; I have recently been playing your D&D Fifth Edition rules with a local game-master at the local game store.

Based on my gaming experience, I found your comment that men who use complex and 'lore-heavy' rules to keep women out of the tabletop RPG hobby rather odd - I find your D&D Fifth Edition so complex and 'lore heavy' that I am not enjoying the game mechanics or the material in the books. The GM works very hard to keep things moving, but my personal feeling is that when the players have to keep laptops, tablets, and smart phones with specialized applications open at the table in the course of the game just to keep track of the game mechanics, there may just be an issue. In light of that, you may want to rethink your recent statements.

Likewise, regarding your concerns about inclusiveness, especially regarding women in gaming, I think you may be a little late to the party. Speaking as one of the 'elderly white males' you've referred to, you may want to have a look at the photo at the top of this blog post. That was my gaming group, for more then a decade; before that, our gaming group out at Prof. Barker's looked much the same. Five women, three men, two 'people of color'; 'inclusiveness', here at my game table, means that anyone can play. That's the way I've always had game groups running, and the way I always will.

I think you mean well, Mr. Mearls; I just think you need to think before you Twitter...


Jeff Berry, aka Chirine ba Kal.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Bad News, Middling News, and Good News - The Weekly Update - Monday, February 19th, 2018

Last week was not what I'd call a good one, and so this update is more housekeeping then anything else. I'll be back later this week with more entertaining posts, but this one is going to be a little introspective.

Got the news that mid-week an old friend died suddenly; we'd managed to reconnect recently, and it was a shock for all of us in the old gaming group to hear of his passing. He'd complained of chest pains that he'd thought were heartburn; it seems it was a massive coronary.

On the other hand, another old friend got through his heart surgery, to fix a valve. He's tired, and lethargic, but he's still with us.

My co-worker who's been sick with the flu for the past two weeks and out of work is back, and we're doing our best to look after him as best we can.

The van failed to start tonight, so we're in the lifeboat / bug for now. Which is why we bought it, after all.

No, I did not go to the local game convention, Con of the North. Instead, I had a lovely Saturday with old friends, who also didn't go to the convention, and a just as lovely Sunday with my brother and nephew who did.

By the by, I do recommend both Con of the North, here locally, and U-Con in Michigan; both are good, solid, well-run conventions, and both feature wonderful tracks of programming and gaming devoted to Tekumel run by long-time fans of Phil's creation.

"So," I hear you ask, "why don't you go?" Pretty simply, the logistics. My style of gaming uses up a lot of room and time at the convention, and is a lot of energy and stamina to put on. Neither really fits into the way modern gaming works, and both sets of organizers do a wonderful job of presenting Tekumel in a gaming context that works for modern gamers. So, I suggest going to them; they are worth it.

I will be back the end of the week wth more photos of my miniatures; real-life is getting in the way, and I hope to get back in the groove shortly...

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Lifeboat, The Ship, And Some Stuff Got Done - The Weekly Update - Sunday, February 11th, 2018

The Lifeboat

The Ship

It's been a long week, with people being sick at work and me having to cover, but we're starting off a new week pretty nicely; the VW is here, and will go off to the garage to be checked out and a tire fixed. The poor old van is finally back, after a two-week stay at the garage to finally get the issues with it starting resolved. One new radiator, one new ignition coil,  one new distributor cap and rotor, and what may have been the root cause of the problem a new 'crank sensor'. The van now starts first time, every time, which is not bad for a vehicle with 338,100 miles on the clock. I'm also $1,200 poorer, but at least the problem is fixed. (I hope.)

In other news, I've been able to get some time to slap some paint on the new Dark Fable 'Anubis' figures, and I'll have photos up shortly; I've just run out of time, this weekend. I think they look better then the photos on the campaign might indicate, but that may be just my old-fashioned tastes in figures.

I had a very bad scare with the 'standing genie' figure. While gluing her separate left forearm to the figure, her tiny (2mm, maybe) wrist broke and I had a very bad fifteen minutes looking for the very tiny part. I did, and already had rescued her hand, and after a little work with an emery board to get a good, flat, and polished joint managed to get her all back together. Quite the scare, though!

I'll have more photos of my old figures for you this week, if people are interested...

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Custom Of The House - Some NPCs

Harchar, his officers, and a pair of wizards;

People we know;

The Tlakotani;
Some people from the Garden of the Weeping Snows.

We met a lot of people in our adventures with Phil in his world, and we liked to have them on the table with us. So...

1a: Dave Arneson and his crew - Staffswinger, Swordswinger, Harchar, Fishface, and Hardtack the purser. (The first two got their names from the figures I used for them; Dave gave the latter two their names, based on their stats and occupations.)

1b: Two of the Undying Wizards, Thomar and Turshanmu.

2. The extended family: Ah Ti Ko, Si N'te, Nyssa, Tsahul, Mridan Vishetru.

3a. Deq Dimani, and the Tlakotani - Eselne, Mridobu, Ma'in.

3b. A friend and wonderful author: Kyrinn Eis Ebbridda, which I include to show that The Custom of the House is still in good health. (This figure is one of a matched pair; this is the Tekumelyani version, and Kyrinn has the Urutsk version.)

4. Some of the folks we met while visiting the Garden of the Weeping Snows. I also have a squad of the Pale Legion, too.

Lots of conversions, done from the figures I could get. Lots of Ral Partha figures, of course; can you spot the one from Superior Miniatures? Or what line that dear old rascal Harchar is from?

As you might guess, we used a lot of miniatures in Phil's games, and I enjoyed the look on his face when I'd pass the box of new ones up the table to him. If I may immodestly quote him...

"Chirine makes the most clever little miniatures!"

Thank you, Phil. I'll take that one, coming as it did from a master himself... :)

Next up? I don't know; maybe the priests and priestesses of the Twenty that I did for our games?