Tuesday, August 11, 2020

And Now, Something Nice...

This may be my last post on this blog; Google / Blogger is changing the interface format of the platform to better suit people who use their smart phones and similar devices to look at the Internet. I don;t have either; I use a desktop computer, and the new format simply does not work with it. I shall try the Windows 10 machine, to see if that helps, and we'll try to keep on posting as best we can. In the meantime, let's have some good news: From Murr dur Oboe, Homicidal Nylss Mercenary: "I love my painting kit. Thank you so much for this. I’ve already painted the two minis that you gave me." One of the Shieldmaidens, who plays Murr in my Tekumel campaign, was a guest at our Anniversary event and mentioned that she was interested in getting to learn how to paint miniature figures. Well, nobody was there for me, fifty years back, so in consultation with Dr. Hannah, Ace Painter at The Source Comics & Games I got Murr a little 'starter' kit with paint, brushes, palette, and brush cleaner - I also got a carry case to put it all in. Dr. Hannah also suggested a couple of miniatures to go with, as 'starter figures', and these wer packed in with the tools. It worked. Murr is a great painter; her very first two miniatures are in the top two photos, and she enjoyed painting them so much she went and got herself a Reaper 'Bone Dragon' with the results you can see in the lower photos. I love it when this happens. It's why I'm in this hobby. I got very lucky, and got to know some really amazing people back in the day, and I try to pass that good onward. We'll tally this one as a success... :) (Edit: The 'preview' looks nothing like what appears on the blog. I'm working on it.)

Saturday, August 1, 2020

And Now, The Bad News...

For Dr. Burns. RIP, sir.

Bob Meyer, who's leaving the building

Having survived the past couple of weeks, we have some bad news to announce.

Dr. Mike Burns, owner of Dark Fable Miniatures, last his battle with cancer last week. He'll be sorely missed; he was always easy and fun to deal with, and had a great line of figures.

Bob Meyer, aka Robert The Bold of Blackmoor, and one of Dave Arneson's original players, has announced that he will no longer be running his Blackmoor games. It is my understanding that he's in discussions with a local gamer to take over The One True Blackmoor Campaign.

That's the lowest of the low points of the last couple of weeks. There's more, and maybe I'll write about them, but not right now. Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Back After Thirty Years...

Filling up the wading pools
That's our original wedding certificate, there...

The south tent

The alleyway

Why we had the pools

The north tent

I have been off-line for a while; the real-world issues that we had to deal with at the beginning of the month have now subsided, and the rest of july has been spent getting ready for our Thirtieth Wedding Anniversary. We got married on July 22nd, 1990, in our new back yard and we thought - given the advisories from the CDC and WHO - that we'd return to the scene of the crime and have some friends over.

A catered lunch from a local deli was provided; everyone got a box lunch, and a cooler bag to take home the left-overs (If any; the hordes were ravenous.) The usual buffet was replaced by a table full of masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, handi-wipes, dog biscuits, individually-wrapped flatware and straws; coolers full of wet ice had individual drinks, and more coolers full of dry ice had all the individual box lunches. Bowls of individually-bagged snacks were also available, and one of our old friends brought a cooler full of dry ice and ice cream.

Since the weather forecast was simply lousy - heat and humidity to start, strong storms later - I put extra tarps on the tents and battened down the hatches. Power was run out to the tents for the lights and fans, and set up on a single breaker for dealing with the wet. We got two to three inches of rain that night, but stuff stayed reasonably dry.

People stayed in their masks, we had a good breeze, and the individual family groups stayed together. Everybody had been watching their health for the previous two weeks, and everyone felt pretty safe as we'd be outdoors all day anyway.

Because of the weather, we had to drop the video link, but we had back-ups. The only issue we had was getting the inflatable stuff inflated, but we managed.

It all seemed to go well, and people enjoyed being out and about. Yes, it was very muggy, but nobody was doing a lot of moving around so we all stayed pretty comfortable.

In short, a good time was had by all.

Thirty years in the same house. With the same spouse. In this time of constant change, some things do seem to last...

(Edit: photo added after getting permission of the photographer; that's our original wedding certificate, there.)

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Once Upon A Time: Character Reference Sheets

Today's GM

Today's player

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about the game she was going to be playing in today. Her question was whether or not she needed to do a lot of preparation, like a detailed Character Reference Sheet.

There's been a lot of discussion about these in various forums and on various blogs, and I think you might find the thoughts of people like D. H. Boggs interesting. The general feeling, as near as I can tell, is that the surviving early sheets might be able to tell us about how those early games were played, and how the rules being used in those far-off days were written and used. I'm no authority on either, so I'd suggest a little web- searching might be in order for people who want to learn more.

We didn't have these sheets out at Phil's back when I got out there; they hadn't been invented yet, and all we had were 3" x 5" index cards, which Phil color-coded by our PCs temple, and we noted the various facts about our alter-egos on these. Phil's invariable rule was that if it wasn't on your card, you didn't have it. Period. As a result, we got really good about making sure that anything we had on our person was on the card, and anything else we owned was noted as being 'somewhere' on the card in a separate column.

This led, over time, into what might be described as a minor obsession with our baggage - which was helped along by our having to make notes about what was 'hold' luggage and what was 'cabin' luggage when we went on our voyages with dear old Harchar. Phil had had some ocean voyages under his belt, so he knew just exactly how long it would take to root around down in the hold to get out some particular trunk. The same thing happened in our legion days, when we had whole baggage trains to work with.

This led to our other primary record-keeping device, the note pad. I still hand these out at games, along with pencils and pens, and I advise players in the strongest possible terms to write things down. (Notes on game play also got taken, too.) I kept all this for my archives, and these are the basis for my accounts of our adventures in "To Serve The Petal Throne".

Such are the humble beginnings of the sheets we have today. Take a look around the Internet, and see what people have to say about them. All she needed for today was her gear and stuff, because she was playing in a very vintage game. A very, very vintage game...

And today's GM? Bob Meyer. Today's player? Chandra Reyer. The game? The One True Blackmoor.

Yes! My friend the Shieldmaiden is gaming with The Blackmoor Bunch.

It's a fine day, here at The Workbench.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

'WYSIWYG'? Theater Of The Mind? Let's Have A Parade!

My tiny parade
(Lord Chirine, who wishes he had some for the legion)
Getting ready for the real thing
(China News Agency)

The parade today in Red Square had eleven T-34/85s and seven Su-100s leading the Mobile Column, and I thought that it was impressive as anything that a) as many vintage tanks as this were in one place, b) they didn't run over anything that they weren't supposed to, and c) they all ran just fine, despite being pretty ancient by the standards of armored vehicles.

What this has to do with gaming is a style of gaming; in his recent interview (link in my post on Rings Of Dragon Summoning) Mr. Mornard talked about 'theater of the mind' games, where the GM/ referee described the situation and you pictured in in your head. This is a perfectly fine style of gaming; I've used it myself, as did Those Three Guys I often talk about. Phil did it quite memorably, and scared the kilts off of us doing it.

He also did what's been called 'What You See Is What You Get'; back in his salad days, he'd glue new weapons and stuff onto his little hand-carved wooden figures as they collected the stuff in his games. He still did this when I happened by, and I wound up sticking stuff onto the figures I did for our games with him over the years. I still do it, which leads to our little parade of die-cast armor.

One of the first things one learns about armored vehicles is that visibility from inside them is pretty poor; this leads to all sorts of unwelcome attention from people who are unhappy with you. While keeping one's accompanying infantry happy so that they keep a look-out for you, the prudent tanker will keep the hatches open as long as possible and keep one's head out the top and on a swivel to make sure that people with hostile intentions can be dealt with quickly and surely. Not paying attention can - and often will - get one in serious trouble.

So, in my style of game, where what you see is what you get, I like to have a way to show that the crew of the vehicle is either in or out; in this case, Anne of Bad Squiddo has thoughtfully provided a set of tank crew figures in her Red Army Women range. Since I am loath to drill into my vintage 1:43 die-cast russian toys, I got two sets of her figures and mounted them on removeable bases which can be put onto the armor to show that somebody is heads up - or not, as the case may be. And being the kind of modeler that I am, I also did the hatches as per the prototype. It's an easy way for players to see just what the current status of their situation that they are in, and it pleases my sense of how things should look.

So, we have, from left to right: 'Krokodil', with commander and loader up top; 'Fighting Girlfriend IV', with commander; 'Alligator', buttoned up; 'Sisters-in-arms', with commander; and 'Dragon', again with commander and loader. There are two different poses for the commanders, and I am very seriously thinking about getting out the very fine drill bits and drilling the one commander's hand to take the signal flags often used by Red Army tankers.

I should note that that last idea would be very important in an early-war game, where only platoon-level and higher commanders had radios. Communications at the platoon (or battery, for the self-propelled guns) level was by signal flag from the platoon commander - this makes for a truly Arnesonian style of game, as once the commanders button up nobody can talk to anybody else on the table.

Mayhem always ensues, which is why I like to run my games this way.

However, seasoned players in my games - like Mr. Mornard - have gotten wise to this over the years and so make a point of handing me a Coca-Cola; while I'm fiddling around with the bottle opener (called in Tsolyani the 'viyunlu', the 'device for creating the state of openness' - M. A. R. Barker, who ought to know) they carefully look over the game table and their forces to see what surprises I might have lurking in the dark shadows and odd corners.

'What You See Is What You Get', because I like building stuff and hearing the screams of glee and terror from my players.

Mayhem always ensues. :)