Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, December 29th, 2013 - Fun and games, at least as practiced hereabouts...

The Scene Of The Action - the seaside resort at the mouth of the Psgheti River;
Lady Tsahul's barge is moored at the dock, providing accomodations

Lord Chirine and Lady Si N'te discuss the forthcoming safari to see the fabled
Lost Pyramid of Phil-ho-tep the Magnificent, a local tourist attraction

Aliya, Lady Kiya's maid, and Nyssa, Lady Tsahul's maid and Chirine's junior wife,
in hot pursuit of a would-be ambusher who is fleeing from the wrath of the outraged maids

The melee becomes general, with spells flying left and right from the howdahs
and the Sro throwing their weight around.

Well, I thought that it went all right; people came, they had fun, and we all enjoyed ourselves. The general idea was that the tourists from Tsolyanu would visit the local tourist attractions via the Sro-back rides; several parties of treasure-hunters had other ideas, and thought that the tourists' money-pouches might prove full of negotiable specie - i. e., loot. Things got very chaotic after that, and much fun and laughter resulted. Lady Kiya's long-suffering coast guards / river police took the brunt of the combat, with the palace porters' department in support. Interestingly, the ladies' handmaidens proved to be the best melee troops; make of that what you will...

This was a 'long table' game, with our standard 30" x 60" tables arrayed on the long axis of the game room - see the top photo, if you please. Ground cover is three of our stock 103" x 66" canvas drop cloths, and scenery is largely from PetCo and PetSmart. (Look in the aquarium, terrarium, and hermit crab departments.) Next time I run something like this, I will provide the players with pre-printed cards showing them a picture of each figure (for individuals) or group of figures (for multiples) to make things easier and speed up play - I had to explain things a lot, which didn't surprise me.

The new storage system for our gaming supplies worked very, very well. It only took a few minutes to pull the bins from the storage shelves, and I'm very happy with how everything worked.


I have updated the Photobucket page with the photos we took during yesterday's game; there is a link at the bottom of the left-hand column of this page for you. Have a look, if you would; I think you'll be amused.


I have no idea who the nice girl on the flying carpet is. I gathered that she's a friend of Si N'te, and she provided the services of a flying scout for most of the game. She got along with everyone, and spent a lot of time at the beach with all of the ladies-in-waiting as they improved their sun tans.


I had the first of what I hope will be many wonderful Skype calls with a Tekumel fan on Friday; he was calling from Europe, so I made an adjustment in my schedule, and we talked for almost six hours. I'll be happy to take calls, but you may want to e-mail me to reserve a particular time. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Sro and all of us here at The Workbench!

The three Sro in their first coats of paint; half a bottle of Pactra / Testors'
"Jade Green" / "Green Metal Flake", with more to come to give some depth to the scales.

Superb howdahs from David Allan; 25mm figures for scale, from Prof. Barker's campaign
that I did 1976 - 1985; 'saddle blankets' from the Internet and the color printer

'Pannier' howdahs for the Tane from David Allan;
festive holiday parasols from the party supplies store

The 'heavy industry' part of the job is now done, and I'll be moving operations back to the actual workbench part of The Workbench to get these done for Saturday's game. The saddle blankets hide a multitude of sins, and were a quick find on the Internet and an even quicker print job on the color printer. Each Sro has a magnet inset into their back, and there's a steel plate - an old 20mm x 20mm steel base from the parts bins - glued to the underside of each howdah. The howdahs are very well-engineered, and are very stable. They have 3-D printed banners, separate shields, and various figures for their Tane crews; wonderful stuff, if you ask me!

As a side note, Christmas doesn't fall on 12/25 for me; it comes on your 1/7 and my 12/25 this year, which is the difference between the common Western Gregorian calendar and the Julian calendar in use by the Orthodox Church. Be that as it may,

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

More on those Sro...

"Given enough Gorilla Glue and C-clamps, I can glue up the world!"
-Archimedes (misquoted, of course!) 

Larry, Moe, and Curly after curing for twelve hours in a warm room

A set of PHD wings - lovely stuff! - slipped into the locating holes
And here's a trip down memory lane for you; the last time I built any of these was in 1977, when I built two for myself and two for Prof. Barker. His with the Tane howdah still survives; his with the wings, and my pair (one with howdah, one with detachable wings), did not over the past thirty-odd years. I had forgotten just how huge these beasts are - the mat I'm working on is marked with one-inch squares, so you can get an idea of the sheer bulk these have to them.

This trio too almost my entire inventory of C-clamps to assemble - see the top photo - and I pumped just about a half a bottle of Gorilla Glue's 'instant' glue into the gaps. This particular glue is a great gap-filler, as well as being quite strong; I left the clamps on for twelve hours, to get the best possible bond, and I also 'cheated' a bit by using my little clothing steamer to flood the work table with hot, wet air - this dramatically improves the cure rate on the glue; admittedly, it's an extreme measure, but then a lot of folks consider me to be an extreme modeler!

The next step in the process will be to fill in all the gaps and holes - not the wing holes, though! - with epoxy glue; this will smooth out the beasts, and provide some extra strength to the joints. I will be modifying the two sets of wings I have to take square brass tubing on the wings' locating pegs; this is sized to fit matching tubing that will go into the wing 'roots' on the animals, so I can slip the wings on and off as needed for games. It'll also keep the wings from bending, too.

The final step, most likely to happen tomorrow, will be to mount the beasts on bases, prime them, and paint them up. The final coat will be some of the classic Pactra / Testor's "Jade Green" enamel, which will give a nice glossy coat to the scales and is also the color I used on the original four, back in the day.

More photos, as the process moves along!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Weekly Update For Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 - Holidays at The Workbench

Minicon, 1987. Phil seems amused.

Well, here we are at the holiday season; I was a little preoccupied last year at this time, what with the zipper in the back of my head (I was having my stitches removed) and we really didn't do much of anything for the holidays that year.

This year is different; we're hosting the Annual New Year's Game again, on Saturday, December 28th, at noon. Game starts at one, once everyone has the chance to nosh on the goodies being served on the buffet table in the Lava Lounge. (Note to self - must find a lava lamp!) I expect not-so-great things from this game, which is the idea; it is a very light-hearted romp, with no Serious Business intended.

I am working on getting my three Sro built; these are all the later PHD castings, and the metal alloy shrank a little bit as it cooled. This was back in the days of The Big Lead Scare, in the early 1990s, when various local governments tried to enforce bans on lead in toys - a laudable goal, if I may say so - but the game miniatures industry got caught in the line of fire and a lot of companies had to switch over to lead-free alloys in order to stay in business. After a lot of lobbying by the industry and GAMA, 'war game' miniatures were exempted from the ban and things sort of returned to normal.

Anyway, the Sro - sculpted by Bill Murray of Old Guard - is a big honking lump of metal; it was designed back in the very early days of the miniatures industry, when there was a sort of 'arms race' amongst the small number of miniatures companies to have The Biggest dragon in the industry. The Sro topped the scales at two - yes, two! - pounds of metal in the body alone and another pound of metal in the wings. It was, in my experience, an amazing pain in the posterior to cast up. One had to empty our little three pound melting pot every spin, and I truly hated making the things. To add to the pain-in-the-butt factor, the soft lead-tin alloy we had been using made the wings soft enough so that they didn't support their own weight; over time, the wings gracefully drooped and had to be flattened out occasionally.

The metal mix used by PHD fixed the wing-droop problem - it's a harder, less ductile alloy - but I'll have to use a heap of clamps to position the body sections for gluing. I foresee lots of epoxy cement in my immediate future - tomorrow morning, in fact...


The hot news from The Workbench is that the new PC with the hot Intel chip set is now up and running; I now have fully-functional, fully duplex video calling available through Skype and Google+ Hangouts. The plan for this year is to be able to offer fully interactive games from here at The Workbench over the Internet; I'm not sure if we'll move the PC from the home office into the game room, or simply run some cables from the office to the game room. Either way will work - I'll have a look at the cable inventory and see what we can do. I'm hoping that I can use the huge WEGA monitor in the basement for this, with the USB camera atop it, as I think it'd give the on-line folks a better view of the game table as well as the best audio connections. Worst comes to worst, I'll use our collection of microphones and mixers to get the best audio - experiments are in order, I think.

I plan on being available every Friday evening, here in the home office, for Skype calls; I can be typing away on "To Serve The Petal Throne" on this machine, my Apple IMac, while leaving the PC up and running over on the island desk with Skype up and running. 'Office Hours' should be something like six to midnight in the evening, but I am flexible - I have a lovely old 'retro' Mastercrafters 'World Clock'  (which see:)

that is quite likely as old as I am; I don't remember where I picked it up, but it sits on my desk and tells me what time it is where ever you are. So, drop me an e-mail, and we can talk!


Howard Fielding has announced some new figures, on his Tekumel Project website, and I encourage you to use the link in the left-hand column to mosey over there and take a look.

Mike Burns is starting a new Indiegogo campaign for his range of 'Ancient Egyptian' palace figures that is inspired by both the paintings and art of this fabled land and by the classic 1950's "Sword and Sandal" pic films that I watched while I was growing up - and still do, for that matter. These figures are perfect for the kind of games we run around here, and look quite visually compatible to the figures from The Tekumel Project. Here's the update, and I'll have the correct URL as soon I have it:


A very big news item from here in the Twin Cities is that Fantasy Flight Games has opened a new and greatly expanded Event Center. The old site was pretty cool, but the new one is simply mind-boggling. I am planning on doing more games here in the coming year - lots of room, great access for my carts full of stuff, and good food on site. It's amazing; have a look, and take the video tour:


We are all caught up on our video podcasts; both the November 2013 and today's December 2013 'casts are up on both "qik" and the You Tube channel. Use the links in the left-hand column to get to them, and thank you for watching!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, December 15th, 2013 - An Influenza Epidemic, but on the mend...

The Vriddi cross the east bridge, and have to shove a wagon out of the way...
Things have been a little slow here at the Workbench for the past week, as I have been suffering from a touch of the 'flu; since I work nights, it has been a very long and very tiring week. We have had a bit of a break in the very cold temperatures, however, which has helped quite a lot. I'm coping as best I can; getting a lot of fluids, a lot of sleep, and being very careful!


Be that as it may, I finally got the last of the storage shelves in the game room up, and the fleet of 25 / 28 mm ships and boats we fool around with has finally come into harbor. There are new storage bins / drawers for all the player-character figures I've been doing for our games since 1976, as well as more storage for things like the long-suffering Missuma River Water Police and their friends the river pirates - er, 'honest fresh-water merchants'. The palace staff also has it's own box - thanks to Mike Burn's recent Indiegogo, we have miniatures of everyone - and I think that this will speed up play in our games.


Work on getting all of our Tekumel materials digitized and uploaded continues; this week, the Northwest Frontier map set, the draft of the map guide with Phil's hand-written corrections and ken Fletcher's artwork (that Tom Thompson didn't use), and the published version of same all got their own folder and are on-line.


The new computer - a PC with the latest Intel chip set - is up and running; I just finished a Skype call to my daughter in Zurich with full audio and video duplex communications. We're on the threshold of being able to offer on-line fully-interactive gaming from here at The Workbench, and I'm pretty excited!


The schedule for my podcasts has settled down to being on the third Saturday of every month. We're finding that trying to do the podcasts on the same days as we're having a game session just doens't work; likewise, we've found that trying to use the small hand-held cameras to record video of a miniatures game isn't really practical; we're finding - as we learned many years ago, when we were doing video production professionally - that having individual cameras in a room full of active gamers is a formula for looking at hours of video of somebody's shoulder.

So, we're working on using some of our fleet of little fixed and remotely-controlled cameras to be able to record miniatures games without the camera crew disrupting the flow of game play. Yes, it will mean that the game room is wired like a pinball machine, but we'll be able to use the video switcher to look at the cameras without having to have somebody in the same room - or having to 'fix it in post', as the old saying goes...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, December 8th, 2013 - Shock And Awe!

Another one of Those Days at the Temple of Thumis in the city of Hekellu

(Zoom in, and that's Yours Truly in the red suit at the base of the stairway)

It has been a very good week, if I do say so myself. Lots of sleep, the past few days, and I feel really pretty good. I have been very touched by all of you sending me your birthday Best Wishes both here on the blog and on both Facebook and Google+, and I'd like to thank you all very much for these - it's very kind of all of you!

I have been genuinely surprised to the very strong response to my post about having to storm Hekellu, back in the day, and even more surprised by a little 'review' I have gotten from a blogger who writes a well-informed and well written blog about the gaming scene; I hope I'm not taking a liberty by quoting him:

"chirine's workbench One of my personal favorite blogs, this little gem focuses on the world of Tekumel and on the early history of the game while never forgetting the modern world. You'll find lots of inspiring posts here, an interesting podcast, and so much on the history of the game that it'll make your head spin.  Updates: Weekly."


Um. Wow.

First off, of course, a very big thank you for your very kind words! What I'm trying to do with this blog, as the Usual Suspects here know, is try to tell people about the early days of gaming here in the Twin Cities, and about some of the, ah, 'colorful personalities' I knew and gamed with. We had a lot of fun, and I try to maintain that sense of fun (and the absurd) that our games had - 'whimsy', if you like. I spent most of my gaming time with Prof. Barker, of course, which is why we have so much Tekumel stuff lying around the blog. I'll try and tell more tales of life in the basement at East Elmwood Place, and get to work on "To Serve The Petal Throne" as well.

I do a lot of miniatures, as you all can see, and that was considered normal, back in the day; we really didn't have a separate genre classification for each sort of game we played - we played in a spectrum of games that ranged from 'pure' miniatures of the classic 'war game' kind, all the way over to nights where it was 'pure' role-playing and Phil just told stories that we contributed some dialog to. We mixed our game types all the time, and that's the way I still game. It's worked for me, over all these years, and I'm delighted to see that other folks are also interested in this kind of thing.

So, here's  a question for all of you:

What do you want to see here? I feel that this is just as much your blog as much as it it mine; it's a way for you to pump information out of my poor old noggin, and I'd love to hear what you think!


In other news, I am getting the shelves in the game room finished; these are the shelves with all the scenery and terrain we use in game sessions, and they have become over-loaded and over-crowded with the passage of time. A few quick cuts with the circular saw, and we're done! Hurrah!


The Missus has been working on getting the new PC up and running; this has the chip sets to enable us to have full interactive video from here at The Workbench, and she's been installing software and hardware for most of the weekend. Until the new computer is up and running, we'll be doing the podcasts from the Bloggie - it works!


And just a little reminder; we're doing an RPG session this coming Saturday, December 14th, and our Annual Holiday Miniatures Game on Saturday, December 28th. I'll do podcasts for each, and we'll have those up on the You Tube channel for you as well.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Great Pyramid of Philhotep The Mighty, or, Regarding My Birthday

14" on a side, urethane foam, and really nice!

Why, yes, it has a top level!

And a middle level!

And even a lower level! Whee!

Phil - Professor Barker, of course - loved Ancient Egypt, and had a wonderful 25mm Middle Kingdom army that he gamed with. It was, it has to be said, a singularly useless army on the table; Ancient Egypt had what amounted to guys in kilts with stone maces, and any time any army with armor or sharp weapons arrived, Phil's boys would get thrashed. His solution, with always worked, was to trot out a huge palanquin with a giant statue of Horus on it - his fleeing Egyptians would take heart at this Symbol of Divine Might and turn around and drive us off the table. (My little cohort of Late Imperial Romans hated the thing...)

Be that as it may, my birthday was yesterday, and the Great Pyramid of Philhotep The Mighty "(Look upon my miniatures collection and despair!") showed up early in celebration. I love the thing - and have no idea who made it! It will look great on the table, once I fill it with all the 25mm tomb furnishings I've accumulated over the years, and I have a feeling that my players will come to hate it.


In other birthday news, I got a whole 12 hours of sleep - in two six-hour segments, admittedly - but this is the longest block of sleep I've had in months. I feel really good, and am pretty pleased. The Missus also fed me a t-bone steak, which was great, and I stopped by my favorite purveyor of weapons and indulged myself with a mace and buckler - as Chirine, fighting whatever Phil could throw at us over the years, these were my preferred weapons as a Priest of Vimuhla. The boys at Arms and Armor keep this kind of thing in stock, so I indulged myself with my saved-up birthday money and bought one of their steel bucklers (their #045 Round Targe) and one of their 'Iberian Mace' heads (#147 Iberian Mace) that I'll be mounting on my own haft to make an accurate replica of the mace I rolled up in Phil's campaign back in 1976. The set will go with my armor, along with the collection of daggers, short swords, long swords, and other weapons that Chirine accumulated over the years in Phil's games.

If you remember the movie, "The Mummy", you'll remember the scene where the Egyptian zombies under the control of Imhotep menace Our Heroes; Phil loved the movie, so...

"Philhotep! Philhotep! Ya! Ya! Philhotep!"

So, go storm something, and give the heroes a rough time! :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, December 1st, 2013 - The Battle For Hekellu (or what's left of it...)

The north-west quarter of Hekellu -
That's the Palace, burning on the right-hand side; our camp to the north of town is to the left.
Various locals spot our advance, and contest the restoration of Imperial rule.
Lord Takodai and his Vriddi cousins storm the East Bridge, and get a rough reception.
The cohorts of the Legion of Hnalla, Master of Light, storm the West Bridge;
Yours Truly lobs in a Doomkill or two to discourage the locals a bit.
It has been a wonderful weekend!

I got to visit my sister and her family on Thursday for dinner, and we have a great time. The nieces and nephews are smart, quick, and fun, and my sister and her husband are as wonderful and kind as ever.

Friday, I got the game rooms all set and ready to go for the game, and got all of my spare figures sorted out into the new chests of drawers. It had to be done; the lead mountain is not down to a foothill!

Saturday, we stormed Hekellu, and it was pretty messy. Two players were the locals, and two the Tsolyani. The locals made life difficult for the Tsolyani, throwing barrels and bags of grain at the advancing troops, and put up a very stiff fight. A very good time was had by all, and a lot of laughter was heard.

We also learned a lot about how to to video recording of this kind of event; the biggest lesson was that urban fighting makes for lousy video; I should have done this as a formal three or more camera shoot, with a lot more open terrain. It was just too had to keep track of the flow of the game, despite using two small cameras - we used the Bloggie and another small Sony camera to get in tight - and what we really needed was to have somebody at the video mixing console in the Lava Lounge concentrating solely on the video side of things. I wound up being both the video producer and the game master, and the two roles did not mix at all well.

We'll be able to salvage the video we did get - ah, the wonders of post-production! - and we'll eventually have the video of the game up on our You Tube channel.

A very special Thank You to all the players - you did a great job!!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Thanksgiving Kaika - A Heart-warming Tale Suitable For All Ages

Phil and Ambereen in Festive Attire

It's the holiday season, and I thought I would share Mrs. Ambereen Barker's Secret Recipe for The Thanksgiving Kaika (Pat. Pend.):

1) Listen to Chirine tell joke about having a Kaika for Thanksgiving dinner;

2) Listen to Distinguished Professor Husband tell Chirine that it can't be done; the Kaika has six legs, and a turkey has only two;

3) Inform Distinguished Professor Husband that he's full of it, and doesn't know what he's talking about;

4) Chase Distinguished Professor Husband and his disgustingly filthy gamers out of kitchen and send them packing into basement;

5) Obtain one each turkey large enough to feed Distinguished Professor Husband and his ravening horde of disgustingly filthy gamers;

6) Obtain four extra turkey legs;

7) Prepare turkey and additional legs in usual manner, using Khan Family blend of Pakistani spices;

8) Sew additional legs onto turkey when cooking is done, adding those little frilly paper hats to ends of legs;

9) Serve up to assembled ravening horde, watching their jaws drop to the floor;

10) Bask in glow of plaudits from assembled ravening horde.

A simple recipe, from a superb cook!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

yours, chirine

Monday, November 25, 2013

Problems in Governing, or, Storming Hekellu So We have Someplace To Sleep Tonight

Phil's map of Hekellu;
the New Palace is the large building in the center of the city.

What with all the excitement over U-Con and the wonderful Google+ hangout I got to participate in (and the clogged laundry tub drain - oh, the joys of being a homeowner!) I clean forgot to tell everyone about the game I'm running this coming Saturday, November 30th, here at The Workbench...

This is a replay of one of the nastiest game sessions Phil ever threw at us; the background is that the Seal Imperium had appointed Lord Takodai hi Vriddi as the new Imperial Governor of Hekellu, with Yours Truly as his military commander. We got sent off with a whole two cohorts of the legion of Hnalla, Master of Light, which amounted to 800 heavy infantry - we figured that somebody in the legion had upset somebody in the Imperium. Lord Takodai also managed to persaude his clan-elders to send along 600 of his Vriddi clan-cousins as additional troops, which gave us 600 medium infantry. There was also the usual baggage train of carts, palanquins, and player-characters.

We arrived at the city to find it:
a) in turmoil, with a riot going on;
b) in flames, with the old palace in ruins and the new one in flame;
c) in revolt, with the previous Imperial Governor missing;
d) in penury, with the Provincial Treasury missing;
e) in dire peril, with the hordes of tribal warriors of the Young Master about to arrive;
f) in confusion, as most of the clans and Temples had their own agenda for how to rule the city.

Our job, like it or not, was to restore Imperial rule to the place.

First, though, we had to get in.

So, one player's job it to get into the city; another player's job is to keep them out; and all the rest of the players are wild cards, making and breaking deals and alliances with the first two.

Chirine: "Shall we?"
Narkhodlan: "Oh, yes, let's!"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, November 24, 2013 - I have seen the future...

Screen capture by Peter Robbins from Friday's U-Con
Google+ Hangout for the "Joyful Sitting Amongst Friends" event;
That's the Gold of Imperial Glory" I got for winning the Battle of Anch'ke.
My word!!! It has been a very busy week, here at The Workbench!

We got all of Amanda Dee's wonderful (and downloadable!) 'cardboard heroes' for Tekumel made, and sent off to U-Con in Ann Arbor with Mr. Slocum and Mr. Till for use in their Tekumel RPGs. Lovely stuff, and a o lot of fun to make. See also the posts on the Tekumel Yahoo group for these; I think they're in the 'Files' section.

We participated in a Google+ Hangout video teleconference on Friday with the folks at U-Con; they do a 'meet and greet' event called the "Joyful Sitting Amongst Friends" where Tekumel fans can sit and talk, and this year George Hammond and John Till figured out a way to use Google+ to allow people to come and participate remotely. I had a very good time, and enjoyed myself immensely; I'll look forward to more of these. Peter Robbins was kind enough to take a few snapshots while I was giving a very impromptu tour of the game room, and you can see these on his recent Google+ post. I have included one of these above, with his permission, to provide a teaser of what the future can be...

Along those lines, the new and upgraded computer we've gotten for doing live and interactive video is now here in the office, and is up and running. The Missus will be working on the software, and our goal is to allow us to do conferences and virtual gaming from here at The Workbench so folks can come and visit / play without all that driving or flying. I'll keep everyone posted on our progress, of course.

Today's excitement has been that the laundry room washtub drain is clogged, but I suspect you folks will not be too interested in that... :)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, November 17th, 2013

My old TSR RPGA carrying case that that nice Mr. Gygax gave me,
with quite a few figures from the 1970s and 1980s;
this is what I used to carry out to Phil's, every Thursday night...

Well, I do declare!

It has been very busy, here at the Workbench; we have a new podcast up on our new You Tube Channel - link at the bottom of the left-hand column for you - and assorted projects well in hand:

The refurbishment of the game rooms is done, and has been approved by the Usual Suspects. I still have to do a little painting of the walls, but that's a snap compared to what I have been doing. Whew! I am very happy with the place - lots of room, lots of game space, and lots of access to all the stuff!

I have finished making up all the wonderful little 'cardboard heroes' done by Amanda Dee for Tekumel - these are going off to U-Con with Brett Slocum and John Till, and really look nice. I have them in bins with handles on the top for the gents' use, and I hope that they go over well with folks at the convention.

The scenery for the April 2014 David L. Arneson Memorial Maritime Miniatures Mayhem Game is well in hand; this will be, I think, my most spectacular miniatures game ever; it's going to take place in Lake Parunal, and feature Our Heroes in peril. (Again. You'd think we'd have learned, but noooo...) All I have to do to get this game ready to go on the road is book the date at Fantasy Flight Games' Event Center, and cut some wooded supports for the four 4' x 4' clear Plexiglass sheets I'll be using for the lake's surface. I have the poker chips we'll be using to indicate 'altitude' / 'depth', and painting the miniatures will be a snap. I also have the safety divers and the Priest of Thumis' submersible to hand...

Let's see, what else...

There will be another podcast - on life at Adventure Games - on December 14th, and one on the Annual Holiday Game on the 28th. And, of course, we'll have one from the scene of the action of the November 30th miiatures game for you to be amused by. It'll be live on Qik, and archived on both Qik and You Tube.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Good People, Bad People.

Good People

Two news stories came across my desk, this morning, and there are some good people as well as some bad people. I'll let you make the decision as to which is which...

Me, I can tell you where I'll be eating next time I'm in New Jersey, and I think some folks in San Francisco deserve a raise.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, November 10th, 2013 - Logistics and Sustainability in the Domain Game

No, sorry; not a preview of the 11/30/13 game...

Lots of news, today; first, the dates of my next two podcasts using the 'Bloggie' will be this coming Satuday, November 16th and again on Saturday, November 30th. I will try to answer some of the questions you've been sending me on the 16th, and talk about playing Tekumel miniatures on the 30th. Live broadcasts at one, uploads to both Qik and You Tube will follow right away.


The 'scenario' for the 11/30/13 game will come from Prof. Barker's game sessions - the night we had to fight our way into Hekellu with 600 Vriddi and very little else. It got 'interesting'.


By and large, all of the changes - both major and minor! - to the game rooms have now been completed; I am now in the final throes of cleaning up my actual workbench, which has been sadly neglected for almost three years. I have to admit that the past three years have not been kind to us, here at The Workbench, but - like the plague victim in the cart - "I'm getting better!"


As part of the changes to way we do things, here at The Workbench, I have retired all of the 'disposable' things like cups, plates, napkins, and suchlike in favor of more permanent versions; the idea is to take the money I spend on the former and redirect it into the actual gaming. While it has certainly been easier on me personally to simply toss everything in the trash after game sessions as I clean up the game room, I think that for the long term - which I tend to think in, anyway - it's going to be better to use the plates, cups, mugs, and other things that can be simply tossed in the washer / dishwasher. And it makes for a nicer environment, too; back in the day in Phil's basement, we didn't have it so good; we 'roughed it', and we looked like the left-overs from an invading horde. No wonder Ambereen kept us in the basement! :)


As I type away on my book, "To Serve The Petal Throne", I realized that almost all of Book Five -"The Golden Seal" - is about what many people refer to as 'the domain game', from the earliest versions of D & D. One of the basic assumptions in the old games - I speak here of the ones run my such as Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax, amongst other such early innovators - was that we were all going 'adventuring' to get the money to start/buy/steal our own little fief or city-state and so make lots more money by extorting - er. that's 'taxing' - the locals. While I was doing a little editing on the book, I realized that we'd spent the better part of three whole real-time years trying to run the Imperial fiefs of the city and provence of Hekellu and the Chagari Protectorate - with varying degrees of success, I might add; we were always short of resources and long on 'adventure', so it got very 'interesting' at times.

Speaking as the Imperial official who had to do the practical work, I realized that I had spent a lot of time worrying - read 'obsessing' - over the care and feeding of what troops we had. This turned into, as it often did with Phil, a long and very fun excursion into how real-world logistics, economics, and viability influenced his world. I'll be writing a lot more about it in the book, and I'll try to cover it during the November 16th podcast.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Happy Birthday, Phil!

Phil and Ambereen at my twenty-fifth birthday party.

Happy Birthday, Phil. I'm sorry that I wasn't able to do this post a year ago; I was a little preoccupied.

Weekly Update for Sunday, November 3rd, 2013 - The End Of The 2013 Campaign Year Arrives

Just another day at the old clanhouse...

The Big News for today is that the game at the end of this month is being moved from Friday, November 29th to Saturday, November 30th; the game will be at the usual time, one p. m., with the door open at noon for guests. I've moved the date to make it easier for people to drop in, as Fridays are difficult for folks to schedule things. So, it's a Saturday game, here at The Workbench, in the newly redone game rooms.


As previously announced, I'll be running a light-hearted miniatures game for the New Year's holiday, on Saturday, December 28th; see my post of October 29th for further information.


My little pod-cast of several weeks ago seems to have gone over well; I'll do another before the next RPG session, on November 16th. I'll have more on this as we get closer to the actual date.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

News Update - October 30, 1938 - MARTIANS INVADE!!! FLEE!!!

Photographic proof!!!
A picture from Woking, in the UK, as the Martians invade!!!

Yes, it's been seventy-five years since Mr. Orson Welles scared the pants off a goodly number of people, showing what the power of the spoken word when combined with a new communications medium can do. You can do the same thing, at your game table, when you tell your tales...

And if I may quote the man himself:

"This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character, to assure you that The War of the Worlds has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be; The Mercury Theatre's own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying "Boo!" Starting now, we couldn't soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night, so we did the next best thing. We annihilated the world before your very ears and utterly destroyed the CBS. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn't mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business. So goodbye everybody, and remember please for the next day or so the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody's there, that was no Martian, it's Halloween."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Annual New Year's Holiday Game - or - "Safari to the Psgheti, Redux"

Image Copyright Mr. David Helber

I still don't know what I'll run for the scenario for the Annual Thanksgiving Holiday Game, but I know what I want to run for the much less serious and much more light-hearted New Year's Holiday Game on December 28th, 2013:

A safari.

"Huh?" I hear you ask; what's he on about this time? May I direct your attention to one of the very best 'old school' gaming websites you've likely never heard of:

This is the kind of 'miniatures gaming' that I grew up with, and I think it's pretty fun. So, with that, here we go...

In what may be the most ill-considered move in all the rich history of Tekumel gaming, Lord Chirine ba Kal has acceded to the wishes of his family to "Take us someplace we've never been yet!!!" for their annual vacation, and packed up his wives, concubines, children, handmaidens, bodyguards, assassins, chamberlains, servants, musicians, household troops, dancing girls, cooks, ladies-in-waiting, rowers, bosuns' mates, food tasters, bearers, and all the other staff needed for gracious living in Tsolyanu into an assortment of palanquins, chlen carts, trunks, tubeway cars, boats, tents, barges, aircars, baskets, and packs and gone on safari to the placid banks of the Psgheti River.

What could possibly go wrong?

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Campaign Year - 2014 ( as I'd like it to be...)

The Game Room every March, for the Tsolyani New Year's game session

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm getting back to the 'campaign year' sort of schedule that I used to follow, and which had been very successful for over a decade. The basic idea is to give a structure for both game session and build cycles - the former drive the latter, at least in the way I do things. The needs of the game campaign, and the various amusing incidents that crop up, provide the inspiration for my model-building; we used to do this in the original Thursday Night Group, where my 'job' was to build things for games, and it worked well there as well as in our own newer game group. So, here we go:

The Campaign Year - November 2013 to November 2014

(Yes, I know that's a little odd, but it's how my holidays fall at work.)

November, 2013
RPG game session
Annual Thanksgiving Miniatures Game
Convention: U-Con, Ann Arbor, Michigan (Support for games)

December, 2013
RPG game sessions
Annual Holiday 'Braunstein' Game (subject to be determined)

January, 2014
Two RPG game sessions
'Build Month'

February, 2014
One RPG game session
Convention: Con of the North, Twin Cities, Minnesota (Support for games)

March, 2014
Two RPG game sessions
'Build Month'
Annual Tsolyani New Year's Party (at the game session closest to March 15th)

April, 2014
One RPG game session
Game Event: The Annual David L. Arneson Memorial Maritime Miniatures Mayhem Event
(A 'Braunstein' set in Lake Parunal)

May, 2014
Two RPG game sessions
'Build Month'

June, 2014
One RPG game session
Game Event: The Annual Dr. M. A. R. Barker Memorial Game

July, 2014
Two RPG game sessions
'Build Month'

August, 2014
One RPG game session
Convention: Minnesota Miniatures Gamers "Recon" , Twin Cities, Minnesota

September, 2014
One RPG game session
Game Event: The Annual Labor Day Holiday Miniatures Game

October, 2014
One RPG game session
(During my football season, where I work extra weekends...)


I think you can see how this works; a month of build time followed by a game event, with games from 'stock' in months where I don't have time to build things.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, October 27th, 2013 - The Reviews Are In!

Yours Truly, in 25mm, with deck chair and lunch

This week's update will be short and concise: I've been spending my time this past week primarily responding to comments and e-mails about the podcast I did last Saturday, and which is up on both and You Tube for your amusement. (For links to both sites, scroll down the left-hand column - the links are at the bottom of the column.) The 'reviews' have all been very positive; people seem to like what I have to say, and I have gotten quite a few requests for things I should talk about. I'll get those sorted, and publish a list of the future podcasts where I'll talk about them.

There will be two podcasts in November; one on the day of our regular RPG session, and one on the day I'll be running a miniatures game for folks; I'll have those dates for you a little later on this week, as things get firmed up. I think the same pattern will repeat in December, as we have both RPG sessions and a miniatures game coming up over the holidays. Again, I'll post the dates well in advance.

All of the podcasts will be up on both Qik and You Tube; the live 'casts will be on Qik only, as that's the way the little 'Bloggie' works.


In a related development, I will try to do a regular Friday Night 'Google hang-out'; I'm on Google Plus, and one of the requests that came in was for a regular question and answer session for people. We'll give this a try, and see what happens. More news on this as I get it!


I will try to have a calendar for the upcoming 'campaign year' for all of you as soon as I can; I'm trying to get a few dates nailed down, an as soon as I do I'll have that for you. Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Announcing A New Book About The History Of RPGs!

Just so I don't get it wrong, here's the text of the e-mail I got from the authors of this new book; Konrad is the journalist who did the wonderful articles about Prof. Barker for "Der Spiegel Online"...

The Text:

"Dear Jeff Berry,

some time ago we interviewed you for our upcoming book about the history
of roleplaying games. We have finished the manuscript and wanted to give
you a quick heads up what is going to happen next.

Our book is going to be be published in German in early 2014 (and later
in English). It will be called “Drachenväter. Die Geschichte des
Rollenspiels und die Geburt der virtuellen Welt.” (Dragonfathers. The
history of RPGs and the birth of the virtual world.) It is a cultural
history of RPGs, from the Prussian Kriegsspiel and Howard’s Hyborea to
the birth of D&D and the rise of role playing.

The finished book will be a 300+ page affair, in full color, with dozens
of pictures. It will be more like a coffee table book than a classic HC,
containing lots of old covers, pictures from conventions etc. It will be
available in print and various digital formats.
Here are some early layouts, to give you an idea:

We have just launched a crowdfunding campaign on
(the German equivalent of  Kickstarter) and hope to raise the 10.000
Euro needed to go ahead - if this spread on social networks we will be
sucessfull in financing layout and printing. If all goes well, the book
is going to be published in Q1/2014 to coincide with the 40th
anniversary of D&D.

We intend to follow up with an English version. We have not yet decided
whether we will do this through Kickstarter & self-publishing or with
the help of a classic publisher and literary agent (yup, we actually
have one). Should you have any suggestions on how to go about it (we do
not know the US book market very well) then we would be most grateful.

Once the German book is ready we will reach out to you and tell you
where you can download a free digital copy.

We would like to thank you again for helping us with our research. The
most amazing thing about this three year journey has been the support of
game designers all over the world. Almost everyone agreed to be
interviewed. We hope you like the result as much as we do.
Any questions? Feel free to contact Konrad (e-mail edited) or Tom
(e-mail edited). You can also follow us on Facebook & Twitter or
have a look at our bilingual site:

Best regards from Hamburg and Munich
Konrad & Tom"

I can hardly wait! And I'm glad I have daughters who can read German, too!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, October 20th, 2013 - Quiet, Cold, and Wet

Presentation model done by the sculptor for Prof. Barker

There is actually very little to report, today; the big news is that the first video podcast is up on the site for you to be bemused by; scroll down the left-hand column to get to the link, and click on it - you should go right to my video page.

Aside from the video yesterday, I have been busy for most of the week stripping and sorting old figures as part of the reorganization of the miniatures collection. I'm in the middle of the process, and I'll have more to report later on.

It's cold and wet here, with snow expected.  Brrr!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Whew! The first video podcast is up!


The first of my podcasts is up; I'll be doing these once a month for people to try and cover things around the Workbench in more detail then I think I can in blog posts. We used the Sony 'Bloggie', which sends the live video to the Internet, and records in half-hour segments. I was sure I'd run out of material, but as usual I ran long due to blathering on and on and on and on...

You get the idea.

Anyway, this first effort is now up on the website for your bemusement:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, October 13th, 2013 - Good News, Bad News...

From Dragonblood Miniatures, now Cavalcade Wargames

Very much a mixed bag of news this week, and I'll try to get it all organized for you...

First off, I will be doing my first 'podcast' this coming Saturday, October 19th, at one in the afternoon (local time). You'll be able to see it live at our video blog website,

where it will also be kept up for your amusement. I'll be taking about gaming with Prof. Barker and Dave Arneson, back in Ye Olden Dayes, as well as various other topics that might be of interest. If you have a question or thought you'd like me to address, comment to this post of e-mail me and I'll do my best for you. I'll be on for half an hour or so, vis the 'Bloggie' camera; I'll also do a follow-up post here for you.


I am very sad to have to announce that Cavalcade Wargames, the people who brought us the line of Dragonblood Miniatures, are closing their store. They had some nice figures that are pretty useful - see above - and from the sound of it they'll be selling the lines of miniatures to other folks. For more information, see their website at:


We had quite a fun game session yesterday, with myself in the GM chair presiding over a murder investigation. The Likely Culprit has been discovered, and now Our Heroes are trying to figure out what to do about the problem. Our nest RPG game session will be on Saturday, November 16th, and I believe that Mr. Leduc will be at the helm as his marines try to survive on their isolated island while exploring the Mysterious Ruins.


Our next miniatures game session will be on Friday, November 29th, as our Annual Thanksgiving Holiday Game Event. I will be running a small but entertaining 'Braunstein' for the amusement of the players. Please contact me for more information.


I will be running another miniatures game session, our Annual New Year's Holiday Miniatures Game, on Saturday, December 28th; yet another 'Braunstein', this will mark our return to our regular calendar for the 'campaign year' of gaming here at The Workbench. I'd like to repeat the kind of three-day holiday event we did a few years ago, where we had several days of miniatures and role-playing of all sorts. People had fun, and that - in my opinion! - is what it is all about.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, October 6th, 2013 - Arrival of the Aparsas!

Three of the some two dozen statues recently arrived.
(15 cm ruler for scale)
It's been my first Saturday off in four weeks, and there's a lot of stuff to catch up on; it's been busy!


The wireless router that powers the network here at The Workbench failed this past week, and has now been replaced. We now have a much nicer router, and we expect that this will make the podcast - scheduled for Saturday, October 21st - work a lot better; the 'Bloggie' video camera we use is a trifle sensitive to fluctuations in network signal strength. More news on this as we come up with it.


Mrs. Ambereen Barker, the much esteemed widow of the late and lamented Prof. M. A. R. Barker, has been able to sell the house that she and the Professor had shared for some forty years here in Minneapolis and is moving out to California to be with her siblings. As part of the process of closing up the old house, she has been kind enough to send to us as a memento of the Professor: his collection of some two dozen aparsas; these are replicas of some of the statues on the temples of Khajuraho, in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India.

These replicas were collected by the Professor in the 1950s, he told me, while he was on his Fulbright Scholarship in India. They are plaster, carved by the same stonemasons who maintain the temple carvings themselves, and have been around a bit with the Professor; we're very grateful for the opportunity to give them a home, and to remember Phil.

Thanks, Ambereen!!!


Two other Divine Maidens are also to grace The Workbench this week; our Youngest Daughter Maya is in from her home in Zurich for a two week visit, and an old family friend, Miss Price of Cornell University, will be arriving this Friday for a weekend visit. I will be running an RPG session for them, with the able help of the game group. It should be entertaining!


My book about my adventures in Prof. Barker's game sessions, "To Serve The Petal Throne", is now within touching distance of the first 100,000 words. I am also redoing the Table of Contents to make the book's short stories and vignettes easier to use and place within the larger context of Prof. Barker's publications, and I will be including end notes and a timeline of his campaign at the end of the thing.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Breaking News - GW Legal Does 'Own Goal'!

My only comment.

Even I am impressed, after some thirty-five years of watching normally intelligent people mess things up...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tom Clancy, Larry Bond, and How We At Adventure Games Won The Cold War

Yes, that's a first edition. Yes, he signed it. Yes, I still read it regularly.
No, I don't think it is 'collectable'. Book are meant to be read, not preserved in aspic.
The news about Tom Clancy's passing away came across the wires as I was heading out to the airport yestderday afternoon to collect Youngest Daughter; I got it from CNN, as we were in the midst of a failure of the wireless hub that serves our household network, and I had no Internet access until this afternoon. We're back on line, and I thought I'd say a few things about the man.

A long time ago, and far, far away, I was working for Dave Arneson at Adventure Games as the "Vice President for Tekumel Affairs", being the guy who was dealing with Prof. Barker. One of our 'stable' of authors was local gamer Larry Bond, who had gone into the Navy and was a Commander, who had written the modern naval miniatures (this was back before home computers had been invented, remember!) game "Harpoon". We were gearing up for a trip to flog the merchandise at Origins, to be held in Baltimore, when we got a call from Larry; he told us that his local hobby store, in the DC area, had been given a special order for a dozen copies of "Harpoon" by - of all people! - the Soviet Naval Attache at the Soviet Embassy. From what Larry had gathered of the conversation, as relayed to him by the store's owner, the Soviets had gotten wind of the news that the U. S Navy had introduced "Harpoon" into the curriculum of the Naval Reserve Officers' Training Program (ROTC, for short) and was using it to teach naval cadets all over the place about modern naval warfare. The Soviets, it seemed, wanted to introduce their own cadets at the Frunze Academy in Moscow to modern naval warfare and wanted to use "Harpoon" to do it, and so could we please expedite the order when it came in.

"Well, of course, Larry," we replied, "anything for an old friend!"

The order duly came in, and we sprang into action; we were going to show those Godless Commies what real Americans - albeit a collection of fairly odd ones - could do. No Five-Year Plans for us, no sir! This was going to be good old Americian hard work, thrift, family values, and sheer grit! We put on the Ethel Merman tape of her singing "God Bless America!", and sprang into action; we'd show those Rooshins!

We pulled a dozen copies of Harpoon off the shelf, stripped out the separate statistics sheets from each set of rules, and fired up the typesetting machine. We generated new stats sheets, with the Soviet ships and weapons systems all upgraded by 50%; all of the NATO ships and weapons systems were degraded by an equal 50%. We printed up the sheets, collated them into the rules sets, shrink-wrapped the individual copies, boxed the order up, and sent it all off. We got a nice thank-you note, by the way.

We got to the convention, which was being held in a college gymnasium, set up our little gypsy stand, and fell to selling the goods. Being a shameless marketing kind of guy, I had a sign posted that said: "Harpoon - The Official Wargame of the Soviet Red Banner Fleets!". Dave Arneson had a fit, but as it was selling copies he bowed to the will of the people; I merely smiled and started painting up some C-in-C 1/2400 modern Soviet ships for Larry to use in his game demo. (Gosh, I was clever; I used the white circles from some 1/285th WW II Allied star-in-a-circle decals for the helicopter pad markings on the deck of the Kiev.) So, I'm painting away, praying that the paint will be dry before the game in a couple of hours, when this kinda stockbrokery / insurance agenty kind of guy comes up, and compliments me on my painting ability.

I thanked him very kindly, as he was about the only person (besides Larry) at the convention to notice the helipads, and he was very nice and polite. He asked me if Larry Bond would be here at the convention, and if he was, could Larry take some time out to talk to the gentleman. I assure him that yes, Commander Bond (That's "Bond, Larry Bond", of course) would be happy to do so, and might I ask his name so I could introduce them properly. "Tom Clancy," the gentleman says.

So, while still holding poor old Kiev in the one hand and a paintbrush in the other, I stands up on my chair and roar - in my very best Command Voice - across the hall "Larry! One of your rabid fans is here to worship at your feet!"; I hop off the chair, and inform Mr. Clancy in my best major-domo's voice that Commander Bond would be with him in a moment. (Mr. Clancy couldn't stop laughing.) Larry perks right up, comes over, I make the introductions, and the rest - as they say - is history.

If you want to see a product of that history, look on the bookshelves at your local book store for either Tom or Larry's work. Or look at Larry's website:

We've lost a master storyteller, who created a genre for all of us to enjoy, and a real gentleman. God bless him.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Weekly Update For Sunday, September 29th, 2013 - Back in action!

Sample page frame from Mr. Maggi

The first bit of big news from The Workbench for this week is that I have been very busy taking all of the miniature figures out of their bins / trays where I keep them and completely reorganizing the collection from the ground up. I've got over thirty years' worth of lead sitting around, and it was time for a really good housecleaning. I have taken a lot of the 'substitute' and 'proxy' figures out of active game service, and they'll get a bath in my paint stripper of choice and be evaluated for future use. The rough inventory count says that we're at about 5,000 figures in the collection; I'll see if I can refine that further and have better numbers for you - and pictures, too!


The second bit of big news is that my book, "To Serve The Petal Throne". about gaming with Phil - "Prof. Barker, but call me Phil!" - is now within touching distance of the first milestone of the first 100,000 words. I'm at 96,260 on the word count today, and steaming right along. I've also been reorganizing the book to make it very, very clear that the book is made up of little vignettes and short stories - and not one huge, indigestible lump of prose. I'm redoing the Table of Contents to make it easier to locate specific events in the time line, and I suspect I'll add an index to the thing to make it easy for readers to find all the people, places, and things we ran into over the dozen or so years that we gamed with Phil.


I have now finished a three-week run of football home games, and will have the next three weekends off. I expect great deeds to be done. Youngest Daughter Maya will be visiting from Zurich, and we'll be entertaining a guest from the United Kingdom next week. More on all of this, as the situation develops, of course.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, September 22nd, 2013 - The Greatest 'Braunstein' In The History Of Gaming

The palace staff, all based up and ready for the primer.

Lots of stuff going on, so let me begin at the beginning...

First off, the new figures from Mike Burns in Leeds have arrived - see above. Better pictures of all of them are on his two Indiegogo sites:

These are very nice figures, and work very well as 'civilian' Tekumel figures - Phil had a taste for 'Hollywood Aegyptian' movies - see also his drawing of Miss Claudette Colbert as Empress Nayari of the Silken Thighs (Empress Poppea in "Sign of the Cross", and as Queen Cleopatra VII in "Cleopatra", both by Cecil B. De Mille) - and these are just perfect. Mike is planning on offering the figures in the future as part of a range of such figures, and I'm eagerly awaiting his next releases. The figures seem to be 'true 25's', are very charming, and paint up a treat.


The game schedule for the upcoming holiday season is firming up nicely. I am getting back into the old pattern of holiday game mini-events that I had been doing for quite a few years, and my work schedule is dovetailing nicely with the holidays this year. So, here's what I', planning for November and December:

November 29th (Friday) - Annual Thanksgiving Game

This is the traditional opening of the campaign year, and I normally do a miniatures game in the game room; if there is suffcient interest, I can move the game to Fantasy Flight Games' Event Center, on Saturday (the 30th of November) so we have more space. I have two days off prior to this game, so I can get it all ready and set with plenty of time to spare.

This game will be shown on live streaming video, using our Sony 'Bloggie', at our video website (see link to the left, please.) We'll also have it up on the site later on.

December 28th (Saturday) - Annual Holiday Game Event

This is the annual festive holiday game; we had a very successful mini-event some years ago, and I want to get back into the habit of hosting that kind of thing. This mini-event will be held here at The Workbench, using the game room, the Lava Lounge, and The Spare Room. I have a five day holiday before Christmas Day, so I'll have the time to cook up something really special. Consider yourself warned.

This game will also be shown on live streaming video, using our Sony 'Bloggie', at our video website (see link to the left, please.) We'll also have it up on the site later on.


The annual game event I run in the spring, - The David L. Arneson Memorial Maritime Miniatures Mayhem and Professor M. A. R. Barker Memorial Miniatures Game Event - will be held in April of next year, getting back to our normal schedule for the campaign year. I will have better scheduling information around the turn of the year. The event will be held at the Fantasy Flight Games' Event Center where we have the room to spread out and have a really good-sized table.

This event is shaping up to be the greatest 'Braunstein'-style game that I have ever run in my entire career as a gamer. I have had the most amazing and inspiring idea, and I thing people will be amazed and astonished when they see the game table and the scenario sheets. I am genuinely shocked that I hadn't thought this one up before; it seemed like a 'natural' to try running. I will, I think, be hitting every possible trope in gaming, but with a twist. The game session will last no more then four hours; I will have everything set up - in secret! - and ready to play.

As we did this previous year, we'll have this up on line for people to watch.


Everything is felling into place for the first of my video podcasts, which I will have up on the web on Saturday, October 19th, 2013. This will be a half-hour podcast, where I'll talk about my time on Tekumel with Prof. Barker and the various projects I'm working on.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Year Later, and I'm Still Alive...

For the Big Picture, go back to the September 2012 post.

Well, we're a year later; I'm still alive. What else can you say, besides a big 'Thank you' to everyone who cared.

The Weekly Update for Sunday, September 15th, 2013 - "Kaor, my Princess! Helium, now and forever!"

The cosmic GM?

The big effort for this past week has been sorting out and mining away at the mountain of unpainted led in the game rooms. I have pounds of the stuff, accumulated throughout the years, and I am working away at getting it all sorted out and boxed up. My lovely 'not - Barsoom' figures now have their own quarters, all ready for the next time my players mess with some dang Ancient Device and wind up sitting in front of the twin towers of Helium. I am seriously thinking of running a game where john Carter and the incomparable Dejah Thoris persuade Our Heroes to help them Save The World; this may be the theme for the November game event (see below). I have to paint the faithful Woola, but other then that I'm primed and ready to go - now, where did I put that aether flyer?


As I am in the beginning of football season, we will have one RPG game session in October (with my Youngest daughter and a family friend visiting us as observers) on Saturday the  12th,  a regular RPG session on either November 2nd or the 16th presided over my that nice Mr. Leduc, and then we shall start the campaign season with a bang - well, actually a miniatures game! - on the day after Thanksgiving. It's been a long-standing tradition here, at The Workbench, to use the extended leave time I have at work over the Thanksgiving holiday to cook up something special, and I have a hankering to do so again this year; last year, at this time, I was occupied with getting the whacking great scar in the back of my head to heal up. The suggested date this year will be November 29th, a Friday, as I have both the nights of the 27th / 28th and the 28th / 29th off, allowing me time to cook up something quite out of the ordinary.

As this will be one of my classic 'Braunsteins', this weekend booking also allows me the option of having the game at the Fantasy Flight Games Event Center if there is enough interest on the part of people; it has to be admitted that the space in our little house is limited and if I get enough people interested in showing up, I'll move the game to the next day and to the Event Center. E-mail me if you have a hankering to play...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, September 8th, 2013 - On Culture Shock and Frequently Asked Questions

Another day, another conquest.

And now, the news from The Workbench:

The Missus is hip-deep in getting all of Phil's Tekumel fonts set up for use; she's been working with his files to set up font maps that can be used on any computer to 'type' in his various languages. She's been going through all of the various editions of scripts like Tsolyani, collating all of the various versions of the script / fonts that he'd done over the years and creating unified files.


I'm in the process of indexing and filing everything, and I may yet have to invest in a file cabinet on casters to hold it all. There's space for such here in the writing room - what used to be classified as the home office - and I'm getting more and more deeply into the writing process for both "To Serve The Petal Throne" and the second edition of "Qadardalikoi", I think I need to concentrate my files.


Due to my overtime / football game schedule, there will be some irregularity in the game session schedule here in the game rooms. Please contact me for the latest information.


Some Frequently Asked Questions:
(which will be reposted as a permanent page, too, and I'll do updates for you.)

Why don't you play [insert name of game here]?

Because I'm not really a 'gamer'; I'm really much more of a model builder. (Gasp! The Horror!) I am not all that big on rules sets or game mechanics; I do use rules sets, but I'm much more of a storyteller who tells stories in the course of a game session. This is the way Phil used to GM Tekumel, and I seem to have inherited that faculty.

I use my miniatures and models in the course of game session to help tell those stories, and what I really enjoy is the look of wonder on the players faces when they come into the game room and see something set up for their enjoyment - for me, that's what it's all about.

How long does it take you to paint a figure?

I've found that I take (on the average) about an hour to do a specific 'personality' figure; a big part of that is the research in the files about that person. 'Rank and file' figures, the ones in the military units, take about ten minutes each, but it needs to be understood that I do these in batches of twenty or so in a form of mass-production. I also work in acrylics, which take a lot less time as I don't have to wait for the paints to dry when I'm working - they dry quickly, and this cuts the cycle time way own.

What brand of paint to do you use?

Various brands, really. I use Liquitex, Howard's Hues, Testor's Model Master, and various craft paints I got cheap on sale. I use these on the miniatures; for scenery and terrain items, I use cheap house paint from the big-box DIY stores. They do custom-mixed paints, and I buy the cheap 'mis-matched' paints that wind up being sold at a fraction of their retail prices; you can get a full gallon of really good paint for the cost of the little hobby paints, and they work just fine. All you have to do it look at the colors, see if it's something you can use, and Bob's your uncle.

Why don't you go to [insert name of convention here]?

Because I started going to SF conventions some forty-five years ago, and I get really bored 'just hanging out'. I find that I need to be doing something to occupy my time, like programming or operations, and I've done that for some thirty-five years. These days, what with the big hole in the back of my head from the surgery, I just don't have the energy to do that kind of thing anymore.

And it's all about the logistics - the recent 'Braunstein' game that I ran at Fantasy Flight Games' Event Center used about thirty cubic feet of space in the back of our cargo van to hold all the terrain, scenery, miniatures, and boat models for the game. While I've done a lot to 'containerize' my games, they still take some real work to move around to 'external' venues.

Use Skype. It's both easier and cheaper.

Why do you have so much stuff?

Because I tend to hang onto things, much like a theater company tends to build up a stock of sets, props, and costumes over time to make it easier to mount productions. It's just easier, and I'm lazy.

Why don't you have a really impressive website?

Because I'm both dyslexic and ambidexterous. If you are web-literate and would be delighted to build me a really cool website, we can talk. There'll be no money in it; you'll have to do it for the love of the thing, like I do with my game sessions.

And please, do feel free to e-mail me with more questions!