Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hot Elf Chick - well, Hot Hyborean Chick, actually...

Right Side view. The plumes look a little tatty after thirty years.

The original figure had a Princess Leia- style bikini top that had to be filed off.

Left Side view; those plumes look even more tatty, don't they?

This view show off the conversion work. This was before green epoxy putty was available.

Her 'better side'. Maybe.

Portrait view; she's named after the NPC in the Butrus Gazatteer,
and is the daughter of the Mu'uglavyani Legate in Butrus.

This lady, a Mu'ugalavyani Priestess of Lord Hrsh, turns 32 this month, making her older then my oldest daughter. She's a conversion from the Ral Partha / RAFM "Royal Armies of the Hyborean Age" line, and I used to use her and her sisters for all sorts of Tekumel ladies back in Ye Olden Days. (She's also still available in her original form from Michael Thomas at Classic Miniatures; he bought the molds and the rights from RAFM, and makes really nice figures!!!) The plumes are from the Tsolyani General, the headdress from the top of the staff of the Priest of Hru'u, and her robes are paper stiffened with liquid styrene. Base is a 25mm round from Litko Aerospace.

[Edit: Yes, I know her skin tone is probably too light; I currently use the Model Masters' Acrylic #4707, "Earth Red", but she got painted a very long time ago. I matched the skin tones to my then-current girlfriend as a compliment; a smart person does this kind of thing when there's a Significant Other in the household.]

Her plumes also need to be touched up; the old Armory 'Yellow' has gotten really worn down by thirty-some years of gaming, and I think that when I paint Howard's new version of the subject I'll give this lady a bit of a make-over to bring her up to my current painting standards.

Old figures like this almost always have 'pillows' that they stand on, and I'm wondering if it might be worth it to counter-sink the Litko bases on the drill press to lower the figure on the base and give a more natural look. One argument against this is that the extra height of the 'pillow' helps these 25mm figures blend in on the table with the 28mm ones; another is the sheer number of figures I'd have to do this for!

Howard Fielding and The Tekumel Project are coming out with a version of this subject; I've seen the figure 'in the metal', and it looks great! Check out Howard at the link off to the left, if you would...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Anybody Seen My Radium Rifle? Those Dang Kids Are On My Lawn Again!!

She's smarter then you are, too. Me, I watch out for the sharp pointy things.

I promised you that we'd get back to our regularly scheduled programming.  The satellite reciver has been giving us 'preview channels' this holiday weekend, and we got to see one of our very favorite movies again.

Yep, "John Carter". "Of Mars", but somebody who used to work for The Mouse thought that giving the full title would make it too complicated for us groundlings.

I loved this movie, but that maybe because I've read the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs about Barsoom. Phill would have loved it as well; he loved Barsoom as a kid, he once told me when he introduced me to the series. The movie was everything I wanted to see: Action, Adventure, and Romance. Sure, the movie has it's faults, but I liked it. It was something that seems to have been forgotten along the way - FUN.

Buy a copy. You won't regret it, and you can steal stuff from it for your games. Thanks!

OMG!!! The Gygax Family Feud

No, she has nothing to do with the text, but I think she's pretty. She's also a Hot Elf Chick, which fulfills the requirements of the D & D Internet meme / zeitgeist. No idea who the artist is, but I'll find out and let you know. Maybe he / she takes commissions...

Normally, I try really hard to stay away from 'current affairs', as I find that they take away from my painting time and merely gets my blood pressure up. However, the plumbing runs down hill, as the old joke goes, and I always seem to be downhill. This came across the Internet news wires over the holiday:

You'll forgive me if I shrieked. This is a Public Relations Nightmare of the very first order, and whomever leaked the original information about the magazine needs to be smacked up the side of the head for being a stupid idiot.

My advice, for what little that's going to be worth, is that the whole family needs to collect their used socks, stuff them into the mouths of everyone they know in gaming who might possibly be the 'leaker', and retire to a locked conference room with their lawyers to get this worked out as fast as possible.

Folks, this is the age of the Internet forum and e-mail. Feuds that used to take years to develop in gaming and fandom now explode across the world in minutes, and cause immense amounts of hard to whatever project you might be trying to float.

The 'game industry' is really very, very tiny, and the 'game hobby' isn't much bigger. And there's an awful lot of people who want to be a really big fish in what's a really small pond, and who are really very, very insecure. Unfortunately, they also tend to be your biggest fans. And they'll leak anything you tell them in order to make themselves look good, which is what I'm betting happened here. And look at the results...

Move now. Settle this issue. Send out a press release as soon as possible. Otherwise, you are all dead on arrival.

Sorry about this rant; I knew Gary, and liked him; I'm very sorry to see this happening.

Now, back to our regular programming!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Taking stock after dying (part the second)

I had a great day, yesterday! Kokigami, a good friend, dropped by for a visit; we had a great time, and I got to show off some of the wonderful new miniatures from Howard Fielding. I have to admit that I got tired out pretty quickly, as I still have very little stamina, but it was a wonderful afternoon. Thanks!

I have been feeling tremendously better since the middle of last week. No more nose bleeds, no more severe headaches, no more ringing in the ears, and no more high blood pressure. Getting rid of the major source of stress in my life (for the past 18 months, anyway) has been really good for me, and I'm very happy to have been able to lose it. Hurrah!!!

Part of taking stock of where we are and where we're going is a look at how and why I've been doing things, in this case with the miniatures collection. Back in Ye Olden Dayes, what many gamers now thing of as scenery and terrain just didn't exist. In those far-off days of Yesteryear, we used colored masking tape on the bare laminate game tables to represent things like roads, rivers, hills, and forests. Tables were literally flat as the proverbial board, and we all thought it An Amazing Thing when somebody finally spent some money and cut plywood squares out to make 'real' elevations on the game table for hills and such. It made things a lot easier for determining issues of Line-of-Sight, for example, and gave a bit more realism to the game table.

Down in the basement at Phil's, we had one each hill that Phil had made from florists' (open-cell, and very fragile) foam, and three of trees that Phil had made from a Woodland Scenics kit designed for model railroads. The three trees had metal trunks and branches, and were coated in glued-on bits of dyed foam rubber that came off with any handling and got into everything.

When I started building the current game room, back in 2002, I made the decision to build up the kind of gaming infrastructure that Phil and I had never been able to have back in Ye Olden Dayes; it hadn't been invented yet, for the most part! I made the decision to retain the policy that I had first articulated in 1980, or so; build the forces for both sides of any scenario, as well as the scenery and terrain, because the guy who was supposed to bring the French army to refight the battle of Waterloo today just called and said he'll be about four hours late because he has to walk the dog or something. (Actual incident.)

So, back a decade ago, I started out by making giant versions of the maps that Phil had done for his two published accounts of battles: Chanis, and Ru. I used what was then pretty advanced technology in gaming; I copied the two maps onto clear transparencies, and projected them onto the 6' by 9' drop cloths I used for the maps with an overhead projector. (Note to modern readers: this was top of the line technology, back then, and you'll need to use Google to find out what ancient devices I'm talking about.) I drew the outlines of the terrain onto the cloth maps, and then painted in all the colored details with one of my five airbrushes. (Note: this is a modeler's tool , and not one normally found in gaming circles. Invented around 1876 and used for decades by artists, photo retouchers, and Stalin's secret police it's a very handy way to paint models. I have five, including several vintage Thayer and Chandler models from the 1950's.)

Anyway, the idea behind having two of these giant maps and using them as the basis for game tables led to what I've been calling the "Two Table Standard". In short, the idea is that for events such as demo games or games at conventions, I could have one fully-equipped game table with a game running at the same time that I was setting up the scenery and miniatures for a second game table. That way, players could switch games and tables with no delay, as player time at events is very limited.

Over time, we started to do more events in the local game shops, I evolved a second 'system' for game tables. This is based on sheets of Masonite or MDF that have a layer of expanded polystyrene bead board / insulation glued to them. The stuff I use is 1/4" thick, and because of the little styrene spheres, it has a more natural texture to it. I have two sets of the 23" x 40" panels I mentioned in the last post I made before The Incident, a 'dry' terrain set and a 'temperate' terrain set. Taken in conjunction with the sets of scenery I have, made up of model trees on scenic bases, I can cover pretty much any of the terrain types that Phil described in his works about Tekumel. I have 'dry', 'temperate', 'forest', and 'jungle' terrain sets; taken in conjunction with the large collection of buildings I have either made or out-sourced I can model any possible game scenario that Phil described to me or that I encountered while gaming with Phil from 1976 to 1988. (And which I talk about in my book, "To Serve The Petal Throne".)

I should also mention that I have a number of 'dedicated' terrain sets. There are the two sets of Sakbe road sections, one a 'generic' set and the other the one for the Battle of Anch'ke, and the model of Castle Tilketl from the battle of the same name we fought out at Phil's. There are also the dozen or so boats and ship for naval actions, as well as about 100 small-scale ship miniatures for use in larger naval actions.

All of the above means that I'm now equipped to a Four Table Standard, meaning that if asked by an event organizer I can set up two tables for immediate use by the gamers and then set up two more fully-equipped tables while the first two games are underway. I might also mention that I tested this system, albeit for two tables last year at our game event at Fantasy Flight Games, it it worked very well. While the system was originally set up for use with our 30" x 60" folding tables (usually used as three together as a 60" x 90" table) and the huge 63" x 103" table at The Source, as I mentoined in my old post I'm cutting down the 23" x 40" panels in to a more flexible and universal size. I've been thinking 9" x 9" 'tiles', as that would work well with our stock tables and still leave a border around the actual playing surface for dice, rulers, rules, and drinks.

And we're expanding this system to include 'Battlemat'-style sheets for game tables, specifically for RPG encounters and other 'small unit' games. We've found a cheap printing source for anything up to 4' x 4', which size is much more then we'll ever need.

Comments and thoughts welcome, as always!!!

yours, chirine

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Taking stock, one month after dying...

Taken back when I had hair and energy.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I basically died just over a month ago on the evening of September 15th. I'm still alive, and getting better, but I've had a lot of time to think, over the past month, and I thought that it was time to sit back and take stock of where we are and where I think we're going here at The Workbench.

The Aethervox Gamers:

It's my intention to rebuild what we had before last years's personality antics and legal harassment, and to continue gaming in the same style as I've always games - i.e., the way I learned from guys like Dave Arneson, M. A. R. Barker, and Gary Gygax. If people outside the basement have a problem with that, they can get stuffed.

The Game Room:

Work on the various video systems I'd bought last year to set up a video teleconference system for the game room has stopped, and all the bits of gear are all still sitting in their boxes, as nothing much got done once we all became part of Prof. Barker's health care during his last illness. I'm revisiting this subject, and rethinking it; I have no idea if there's any interest in seeing pre-OSR Old School Gaming going on in situ, so we'll ask around and see what people think.

I will try to finish the renovations that I had started when my brain bleed occurred, as time and energy permit. The walls still need to be repainted, the new cork boards need to be hung, and the room generally tided up as I've been away for a month.

The Tekumel Costumes:

My collection of the Tekumel costumes that we made for Prof. Barker's are all going into storage, as are the ten mannequins we bought to display them. Costume displays take up room, and have proven to be of little interest to most Tekumel fans over the last decade during which we've been trying to display and show them off to folks.

The Tekumel Miniatures:

There are roughly 4,800 25 and 28 mm miniature figures that I've been painting with and for Prof. Barker over the years stored in the game room, and I am doing a major inventory of all of them including the unpainted figures I've been holding as 'spares' against loss or breakage. I am no longer hunting down the old 25mm figures down on e-bay or other commercial websites, but I am interested in getting enough of them to fill out the old units I'd started in 1976 - 1980 with the Professor via trades or exchanges with friends. I am cleaning out all of the old non-Tekumel figures that I've never done anything with over the past thirty years, and these are going to new homes per my last sentence.

I will continue to support Howard Fielding and The Tekumel Project; I have several large orders placed with him at the moment, and I suggest that if you have an interest in the subject you drop by his websites and have a look. (Links to the left.) Howard was kind enough to send me a sample of his new figures in advance of my orders, as well as a wonderful custom 'get-well' card that he specially commissioned to send me. That's class, folks, and he does some damn nice figures.

I will no longer be doing unit conversions for military figures for the collections. Howard and the Tekumel Project have made that approach to doing military units obsolete, so I'm not going to continue doing it. The thirty-two old Grenadier "Amazon Hoplites" that I had converted into the "Aridani Legion of Lady Mrissa" will not be replaced by the new figures I have on order from The Tekumel Project, and the old figures will be stripped and repainted as something else.

Large numbers of the figures in the collection will be re-based over the winter, as their original cardboard bases have gotten tatty over the past thirty years. Litko Aerospace has provided the bases.

I am accepting commissions from friends to paint their miniatures. Contact me via-email for the details and other information. If I don't regard you as a friend, I will not paint figures for you.

The Tekumel Artifacts:

All of the various artifacts and props that I have been accumulating for the past thirty-some years with the intention of using them in games will be sorted, packed up, and stored. There has been no interest in live-action RPGs around here for the past decade, so there's no sense taking up space in the game room with them.


I will be finishing "To Serve The Petal Throne". I'm up to 52,005 words, and still going strong. This has gone from a single book to five volumes, and I will post more information as soon as I get it.

I will be finishing "Advance Standards: Qadardalikoi, the Second Edition". It will be taking advantage of the new printing technologies and be exensively illustrated with photos of my miniatures in action. there will also be a video DVD of a sample game for learning purposes. I may also do a "How to make and Paint Things" DVD as well.

That's it for now; I have to go unload the van and reload it with a new cargo. More as I can; I have next to no stamina, these days...

yours, Chirine