Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Arrival Of An Annual Event...

The artwork may look familiar.

'Free Comic Book Day', with the Usual Suspects' tables

The Shieldmaidens, bless their little black hearts, continue to spread their subversive message of "Gaming is fun!" to the masses. As part of their continuing program of spreading chaos and laughter, they have 'invited' me to run an event at The Source for 'Free RPG Day' on June 15th, 2019, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm; this will be my usual 'open table' game, where people can drop in and out as they have the time, and I have to work them into the game.

No safety net for this high-wire act, folks, and I like it that way.

As we did last year, this game will feature "Lady Si N'te And Her Nameday Party", set in our palace in the Nyemesel Isles in the far eastern waters of Phil's campaign. A screamingly good time was had by all last year, including the guy who got nibbled on by the Akho in the harbor. (That'll teach him to punch old ladies down in the coastal village!)

And yes, by popular demand, there will indeed be cake. Lots and lots of cake.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sea Battle Continued - (5)

Lots of ships got sunk; about half the pirate fleet got off the board, and about a third of the Akho took damage of one kind or another. No clouds were harmed in the making of this game.

All in all, I was very pleased with this game. People had fun playing in it, and I had a lot of fun setting it up and running it.

Sea Battle Continued (4)

The running battle became general across the board, with the Akho having to be very careful of the rams on the pirates' warships - the merchant ships counted as blunt force trauma, with the larger ships abl to kill an Akho by ramming. This was not a very one-sided battle; both side got pretty hammered in the fighting.

Sea Battle Continued (3)

As might have been expected, a melee broke out in the rear of the convoy as the first group of Akho attempted to drive the ships into their submerged ambush. Lacking depth charges, the wicked pirates started throwing food supplies overboard in an attempt to distract the Akho.

When they ran out of hardtack, they started throwing slaves over the side. I had to come up with grappling and digestion rules on the spot. More markers came out to indicate who was being fed, and the movement penalties involved.

Sea Battle, Continued (2)

The pirates elected to split their fleet into several squadrons, as did the Akho. The latter then threw me for a loop, announcing that they were electing to submerge most of their forces and attack from below. I had to come up with submarine rules on the spot, put ot chits on the miniatures to indicate who was and was not submerged, and the game continued.

The Haida Pakallans vs. The Akho - 1

The story behind this fight is that one of the players made a comment to the effect that it would be fun to actually play out the battle between the pirate fleet and the Akho. In the best Dave Arneson tradition, we did.

Any student of naval warfare would instantly recognize this as a prime example of the Jeune Ecole school of naval strategy, with the Haida Pakallans playing the role of Queen Victoria's Royal Navy and the Akhon the role of the French Republic's torpedo boats.

The pirates enter on the north side of the table and have to get the majority of their fleet off the south side. The Akho enter from the east side of the table. Both sides need to watch out for the shoal waters near the shore, thoughtfully marked out by lit buoys from IKEA provided by Yours Truly. The round templates are clouds, and move with the wind.

The pirates are being played by four of the Fourth Sunday group, and the Akho by the five members of the Second Sunday group.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Out of the depths and into the light - Two steps forward, one step back...

We're off on a boat, again...

My apologies for being off the air for so long; it's been a pretty poor month in my gaming life. The actual gaming has been really grand, with both game groups really getting into their groove and into Tekumel. It's the external stuff that has really gotten me down, and I'll avoid burdening you with it.

Suffice it to say that the New Year's game sessions have been a success, and the Tiki decorations will go back into storage for another year.

We'll be back this week with our regular programming, including the photos from the sea fight.

Thanks for your patience!

Monday, March 25, 2019


The tradition, back in the day, was for a bunch of friends to get together at somebody's house for a game and some fun. I think we managed to continue that tradition, yesterday.

On to the naval battle!

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Effect Of Weather On Gaming - The Logistics Issue

Look! You can see the Bug!

The plastic flamingos, bravely carrying on...
From Scott Anderson - February 21, 2019 at 12:30 PM

Does more snow mean more gaming, or less?

More, actually, now that most of my gaming take place here at the House of Wonders. (1)

The sheer agony of moving out of the basement and into the transport vehicles during the winter makes gaming outside the basement a sheer pain in the tush. The shed out back where most of my 'large game stuff' lives in their transport tubs was buried by three-foot-high snow drifts this winter, and I jus got into the shed yesterday to get out the decor for this weekend's Tsolyani New Year's Party & Game Session. (2)

There are three conventions in the February - March period (Con of the North, MarsCon, and Gary Con)and since I have to book my time off well in advance and make the hotel reservations and do the event registrations a year out, it's a crap shoot betting on my being able to actually get to the convention. Likewise, getting to the local game venues is just as difficult; my style of Big Miniatures / Big Braunsteins means that doing a game at the game shop five minutes from the house is just as much logistical work as doing Gary Con in Lake Geneva. The only difference in the trips is the time I'm on the road, and that gets old in the winter when you're driving for any length of time.

It's been suggested that I should / need / must change my style of gaming to that of the folks at the game stores, where it's a battle mat and a couple of pre-painted figures. My kind of game, where you have a 120" x 60" table covered with scenery like the ones I did for the Shieldmaidens, is most assuredly not that kind of gaming. I certainly don't mind or denigrate what I consider a sort of 'minimalist' / 'theater of the mind' kind of game - it's just not what I like or what I like to run for people.

Redoing the basement game room ha really made a huge difference in my gaming; I can now have ten people in for a big game like the one we just had - photos and report forthcoming! - without having to book the venue, make all the reservations, handle the catering, and haul everything up out of the basement and out of the shed while freezing my fingers off.

Yes, winter does get old, up here in the North Woods. But is has made for better and more frequent gaming.

Footnote (1): The Shieldmaidens have taken to calling our house the 'House of Wonders' because of all the cool stuff stashed away in the odd corners. I'll take that, and we're getting a nameplate engraved.

Footnote (2): Traditionally, I've held a Tsolyani New Year's party the first game session after the spring equinox, to mark the change in phil's Long Count of years. Since I now have two game groups, the decor will stay up for both. I'd like to think Phil would have approved. There will be cake, or some sort of treats.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

A Better Answer For Desert Scribe On Rules

From Desert Scribe February 10, 2019 at 9:34 PM

Hi Chirine! So are you using the same rules for this sea battle that you used for the Longest Day scenario you ran last time, or do you switch rules to better suit the narrative (i.e. zoom in to individual characters or zoom out to a larger battle as needed)?

First off, thanks for your patience; this is the first quiet weekend we've had in a while. Between the snow, the cold, and the problems with the van, it's been exhausting. The van is now gone; it was unloaded, stripped of anything of use to us, and sold for scrap / parts last weekend. I do miss the old beast, but we did get our money's worth out of it...

Right, then, rules.

The attack on the little town by the pirate raiders was pretty much a straight one-on-one RPG, with the addition of "Chainmail" / "Qadardalikoi" morale rules for the pirates. The problem withs game, from my point-of-view, was that I had to both run the game and run the pirates; I prefer to have live opponents, but in this case the poor weather that day meant that we had to run with what we had.

So, every turn I'd roll for initiative for each of the four shiploads of pirates, and their reactions to what the players were doing. As the melee progressed, and casualties started to mount, this was also factored into the dice rolls. Eventually, the surviving pirates broke and ran for their ships, leaving the players in command of the field. (And a mess to clean up, but there you are.)

The upcoming sea fight will, as you put it, 'zoom out/ a bit to treat the individual ships as 'PCs', and the individual Akho the same. This will make for a short sharp action; getting individual melees going will really slow down the action, and as this is a pretty large 'mass game' I'd like to avoind that. If this was a 'straight RPG', I'd 'zoom back in' and put out the ships or deck plans and use the 'man-to-man' rules for the fighting.

This game is going to be all about sinking ships / killing Akho, so I'm going to use pretty minimalist rules for sailing and melee; I don't know if the players have done much of this kind of thing before, so I'm erring on the 'keep it simple' side. Simple rules, turning circle templates, that kind of thing. I also mounted my 2' x 4' piece of dry-erase board onto the wall in the miniatures room, and the short and sweet rules are all now written on that for players to look up at.

So, yes, I think the answer to your question is that I do indeed zoom in and out the rules to match the size of the action. In a large-scale battle, it's be "Chainmail" or "Qadardalikoi", or something similar. I don't have a set or actual game rules for mass naval actions like this that I like, and certainly none that I'd want to saddle my players with. So, we'll keep this as simple as possible, and let the players loose on the water.

Does this help, at all?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Did I mention that it's been snowing a little bit? - Weekly Update

The day before yesterday.



There will be longer posts this weekend, especially one to answer Desert Scribe's comment, but for now I have to do some more digging...

Thanks for your patience! :)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Sushi Bar and The Lost Art Of Campaign Gaming - The Weekly Update - Sunday, February 10th, 2019

It's quiet. Too quiet.

Today's battle between the Haida Pakallan fleet and the Akho has had to be delayed for a month; the "light snow flurries in the evening" was actually four to six inches of snow starting in the morning and continuing all day. The players and I agreed to hold off until nest time, which will give me more time to get things ready for this maritime mayhem. Better clouds - to indicate wind direction - and a compass rose are in order. Pirate hats, bandannas, and eyepatches are all to hand, as are squid hats.

There are yet more shelves up in the miniatures room, and the Dave Maggi posters will go into storage until I work out a way to display them. The rooms are a work-in-progress, and I am progressing.

The genesis of this battle was a comment made in the last game session by one of this group, on the order of "Since we're controlling the Akho, maybe we should fight the pirates?" Well, why not, I say - this hearkens back to the dawn of time, where we did a lot of 'campaign gaming' and the players would throw these curve balls at the referee / GM who would then have to Come Up With Something For the Next Game Session.

What I've found interesting in my contacts with local gamers is that this sort of 'campaign gaming' is almost totally unknown. "Tony Bath, who?" is an example. Back in the day, we more-or-less expected that long-term campaigning - both for 'RPG' and 'miniatures' gaming - was the usual format. See also the Hyborian campaign, which started out as a way to generate battles and like this campaign -

- kept morphing into what could be termed 'RPGs'. There's been a lot of on-line discussion based on Rob Kuntz and his book on Dave Arneson - see also:

And I have yet to see any mention of the kind of 'campaign gaming' that we used to do back in those pre-historic days.

Maybe I need to do an essay or three on this... ?


As part of the run-down and closure of Google+, most of your comments here have been removed by Google; I have no recourse, they tell me. Som if you want to, please e-mail me your thoughts and comments and I'll post them here for you. Thanks!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

"The Seven Samurai" Meets "The Longest Day" - Battle Fought And Won By Our Stalwart Adventurers!

Our defenders in position, as the attackers wade ashore, not expecting any resistance

Which they get in quantity, between spells and missile fire

Then the Priestess of Avanthe casts her spell on the shrubbery, and things get nasty on the beach

The attackers fail their morale checks in spectacular fashion...

 The players opted for an at-the-waterline style of defense, and it all worked out well for them. Putting up the stakes above the high-water line stopped the onrushing hordes in what almost instantly became a killing zone for both missile weapons and spells - neither of which the attackers had a counter (or a capacity) for - and while a few of them made it through the stakes into the open they were very quickly (and very messily) disposed of by two Nlyss warriors in armor, with two of the Legion's soldiers also in armor. Which shows you what happens when unarmored rabble meets disciplined soldiers, as Phil would say.

The players caused enough casualties to force multiple morale checks, which got worse and worse as the game went on. Eventually, the attackers had enough, and left in a hurry. Of the four ships, survivors were 50%, 70%, 40%, and 50% of the original crews.

All in all,  very fun and very satisfying game in Ye Olde Style; I even got to discourse on game mechanics a bit.

Next up, in two weeks: Pirate Ships vs. Krakens (well, Akho, really)...

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Ready For Adventure - In Two Weeks!

Looking seaward

Looking along the coast
It's nice and quiet now, but in two weeks our heroine - Murr dir Oboe, late of Nylssa and points south - and her colleagues in the Fourth Sunday Group will have their work cut out for them as the Haida Pakallans drop by for one of their raiding, looting, and pillaging visits. This time, the player-characters are ready and waiting for them so we'll see who ambushes whom.

I very specifically set this table to look like what it would have looked back in the day at either my place or at Coffman Union for  Conflict Simulation Association meeting. Lots of 'Life-Like' model railroad trees and lichen, and the same company's 'grass paper' for ground cover. The buildings are newer, of course; Hudson and Allen, Battlefield In A Box, and Scotia Grendel by way of I-Kore. The stakes to the fore are historical objects in and of themselves - Heritage USA, by 'Duke' himself.

Figures are the usual mixed lot, with the locals from the Foundry range; PCs by The Tekumel Project, Reaper, and Crocodile Games. Real reed boats are from Ecuador, by way of The Missus on a shopping trip at the Minnesota State Fair's 'International Market'.

It took about a half-hour to set this up; what with having all of my miniatures stuff within arm's reach of the table, it is a real pleasure to set things up. As I've mentioned, I like the look of the thing, and I am very happy with the way this table looks.

Mayhem will ensue, at 5:00 pm on January 27, 2019. :)

Ready For Adventure - Tomorrow!

The North Room, set for RPGs

The Tekumel map wall; orrery below and to the left

Tea bar, snack bar, and South Room
It has been a long haul, and thank you all for your very kind comments and patience. We're now set for tomorrow's RPG with the Second Sunday Group, and set for the big fight with the Haida Pakallans that's coming up for the Fourth Sunday Group.

I am tired out, but very pleased. We never had anything like this back in the day, mostly because we were either too nomadic or too logistically-challenged. With this redoing of the rooms, we can now do all the things we used to do balanced on TV trays and wobbly tables.

There's still a lot of detail stuff to do, but the all major and most of the minor things are all done. Next stop, the computer and video gear to be set up and tested...

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Beginnings Of The Beginnings - Weekly Update - January 8th, 2019

I'll have better photos later on...

Well, it has been a very good couple of weeks' vacation. Lots of stuff got moved, and even more stuff sorted into bins for later, but I'm down to the details and getting the miniatures table cleaned off. I'm happy with the results; better access to the book library, better access to the miniatures collection, and access all the way around the table when we play. The northern half of the room is now clear and open for all sorts of things; in addition to 'straight RPGs', we also have the room for people to paint miniatures, read books, and watch movies in a higher degree of comfort. Lots and lots of folding furniture that can be assembled in all sorts of ways, so we are going to be in much better shape then we were over a decade when we first started to use the part of the basement as a game room

To say that I have learned a lot in that decade of gaming would be an understatement.

Many things have changed; instead of one big game group, several small ones with fewer people; net result: more actual game play, with less crowding. Better catering, what with the tea bar, and the buffet table rolls away under the game table when not in use for more room on the floor. More room for campaign maps, with all of Phil's 'northwest continent' on display with lots of blank spaces yet to be filled in by heroic adventurers. Better access to the Tekumel collection, so people can come over and read his texts - yes, I have been getting requests for this.

And, in classic campaign gaming style, the miniatures now have their own room; I can leave games up as long as I need to, as I can still run a second game in the other side of the space. And, as one player pointed out, if it's a 'You-go, I-go' sort of game, then the 'off side' can sit in comfort while their opponents work out what to do. Lots of the small space heaters for the winters, here in the northwoods, and central air conditioning for the summers. I'm happy. :)

What we're going back to is what I used to do in my old apartment, with the 4' x 8' game table, back in the day; invite friends over for an afternoon or evening of fun. In effect, I'm turning back the clock to that time and place, and I think we'll have some fun doing it.

More to come!