Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Jack Vance is gone...

Jack Vance has passed away; if I may, here's a link to his website:

(If you're looking for some connection to Tekumel, Phil and he were friends; Phil did the first maps of Jack's Dying Earth for him in the 1950s.)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Weekly Update for Sunday, May 26th, 2013 - The Memorial Day Weekend

Why, yes, my dad flew planes around; why do you ask?

It's the middle of a long, slow, and peaceful holiday weekend; if you could, take a moment from your grilling and socializing to remember the people who made sure that you'd be able to have a long holiday weekend. 



I am working on a venue to hold the June 8th 'Braunstein' game in; gaming space in the shops in the Twin Cities is at a premium as the stores market their product lines, and tournaments are the big thing at the moment. As soon as I get a booking firmed up, I'll let people know.


Having time off this weekend has made a huge difference in my life; not only is my blood pressure way down, but I'm finally getting the time I need to organize the miniatures collection and get the painting process restarted. All of the new figures that have come in from Howard Fielding and The Tekumel Project have now been assembled, based, and in primer; I'll start the painting process this week, alongside the other work I'm doing to get caught up on my project list.


No new real updates on my book, "To Serve The Petal Throne", this week; I've been working on the June 8th event booking. However, I am up to 80,401 words at the moment, and I've been distracted from the battle at Castle Tilketl to the battle we fought against the Ssu at the Monastery of the Falling Leaves. It's a choice of running around the Desert of Sighs while being chased by all the Yan Koryani in the world, or running around the mountains of Chaigari being chased by all the Ssu in the world.

How do I get into these predicaments, anyway?


If I may, I'd like to add a bit here about how the weekend has been going; I had a lovely time yesterday at my niece's graduation party, where my sister and her husband had gathered their vast and wonderful family for our inspection. The new grand-nieces and nephews were also on display, and I have to say that I was a proud - and eccentric uncle. Eldest Daughter and her stalwart Nylss came by in the evening, and my grandson - The Bouncing Baby - was kind enough to drool all over the place. I keep a  wet-vac handy for this kind of thing, so it was a simple job to pump out the bilges.


For the benefit of anyone so inclined, photos of the June 8th game from the last time we ran it are up on my Photobucket page, in the "David L. Arneson Memorial Game" folder.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Readers' Requests and the Weekly Update for Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Table set up in the game room; Ahoggya in primer
The current work lot; Tinaliya, Swamp Folk, Ahoggya, Hlutrgu, Qol

Swamp Folk and Pygmy Folk

Tinaliya! (And a few Pygmy Folk)
We're very photo-heavy today; I had a few people write in and ask what things here at The Workbench looked like when I was working on something. Normally, I do everything on the actual workbench, but the vast numbers involved with the Ahoggya and getting ready for the June game really required more space. So, I set up one of the tables in the game room, and you can see what I'm in the middle of.

What a mess, eh?

As you can see, I'm experimenting with a 40mm round base, instead of the 40mm square base I used in "Qadardalikoi', because it came to me recently that Ahoggya really have no flanks. So, now that I can get round bases from Litko Aerospace, why not base figures a little more intellegently. It's also been over thirty years since I wrote the rules in the first place, so a few nods to the evolving technology of gaming might be in order...


I continue to be in decent health; I just have to be careful about over-extending myself. Getting back to projects like this has been a big help!


The Qol palanquins, from Howard Fielding, are a scream. I will do better reviews of all the wonderful figures we're seeing from him later this week. In the meantime, click on the link over in the left-hand column and have a look!!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Gary Gygax Gets The Last Laugh!

Based on an obscure miniatures game!

As regular readers will know, I don't often comment on the passing scene outside the walls of the game room; I usually don't have the energy or the stamina. I have, for example, not regaled all of you with the mind-boggling, eyeball-bulging, jaw-dropping misadventures of the now-famous - or infamous - law firm, Prenda Law. If you want to see some of the most incredible moments in American copyright and intellectual law, have a look at the Prenda saga as given by lawyer Ken White on his blog:

I am not making this up; this is an actual legal filing. The whole madcap saga is worth a look, espacially if you need scenarios or ideas for a game of "Paranoia".

Anyway, today's delight from the larger world is the news that an obscure set of miniatures rules from the dawn of gaming history - as written about in Jon Peterson's "Playing at the World" - is now big news in Hollywood. That's right - "Chainmail - The Movie!" 

"What?!?" I hear you say; well, don't take my word for it:

And Gary and Jeff [Edited; I mistook 'Steve" for 'Jeff' Perrin, sorry!] did write the original "Chainmail" rules; they were published by Guidon Games, which begat Tactical Studies Rules, which begat TSR Hobbies, which begat Wizards of the Coast, which begat WotC / Hasbro; and "Chainmail" did begat "Dungeons and Dragons", which begat I don't know how many editions. One obscure and largely forgotten result of all this begatting was that Gary retained the rights to the "Chainmail" miniatures rules, and eventually sold the movie and television rights to the game to a Hollywood production company.

As Gary said, "Why not?". And, I will bet, Gary laughed all the way to the bank; after all, who's ever going to make a movie about little lead people on a game table?

Fast forward many, many years. Said production company wants to make lots of money off their option, so they sell the deal to one movie studio, based on their rights to the "Chainmail" franchise; meanwhile Hasbro signs up a different studio to make a movie based on their ownership of the "Dungeons and Dragons" franchise.

What could possibly go wrong?

I think I can hear Gary laughing...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Weekly Update for May 12th, 2013 - The Chaos Continues!

Chirine, as I painted him in 1976, and his deck chair.

It's been a very busy week, here at The Workbench! Over a thousand pounds of granite and concrete uprooted and moved, multiple boxes arrived in the mail from the clever Howard Fielding of The Tekumel Project, boxes in the old spare bedroom packed and sent, and yet more miniatures sorted into new storage bin-drawers. As Kokigami commented, I think I need a nap.

I am very happy with the progress we're making. The old place is looking better, and the game room becoming very easy to use. It's a lot of work, admittedly, but it's happening.


Some bad news to report; as noted on his Facebook page, artist Dave Maggi's father was recently diagnosed with cancer. Our hearts to out to Dave; anything we can do, let us know!


Today is Youngest Daughter Maya's birthday - Happy Birthday!!!


The new Ahhogya, Swamp Folk, Tinaliya, and Qol that have come in from The Tekumel Project are superb. I will get photos shot of them as soon as I can, and do some 'reviews' of them for all of you. I cannot tell you just how happy I am with these; clean, crisp castings, very dynamic poses, and a wild variety of options for arms and accessories. Simply wonderful!!!

May I suggest having a look at The Tekumel Project's web site / blog? Howard is very good about posting photos of his work, and I've provided a link to him over in the left-hand column. Click on it, and get transported to Tekumel miniatures paradise.

I have also gotten a set of the Mara from Howard; he's doing a line of South Asian miniatures, specializing in Southeast Asia, and he's doing some very - and I do mean very! - interesting work. Check it all out at his "Lohwand" blong, for which I have also provided a link in the left column. The Mara are very nice figures, with all sorts of options for heads, weapons, and hands; delightful, and sure to terrorize my players for years to come!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Readers' Requests - "Life in Tekumel", or, "Tell Me Again, Why Did I Join the Legions?"

At least you get nice clothes. They wear like iron, too.

One of the questions I get asked from time to time is what life was like for a player-character in the Tsolyani military. Well, since the last set of video clips went over so well, may I suggest having a look at HBO's "Rome" series? There are several story arcs that sound like the 'little errands' I used to get sent on by various Princes, to solve some little mess that one or the other of then had created with their meddling and intrigues.

First off, three clips from an episode where the player-characters - I'm sorry, Our Heroes! - 'volunteer' to find the Thirteenth Legion's Eagle that Caesar has been absent-minded enough to lose...

We have thoughtful, considerate officers who give us the easy jobs:

We have clever and witty companions in the party:

And sometimes - just once in a while! - you get really, really lucky:

Most of the time, though, you have to be really quick and smart, and pay attention to the little details that can often mean the difference between life and death. And fame and fortune. And abject poverty and a bit of ready cash in hand...

(Pompey's men are fleeing Rome, and the treasury from the Temple of Saturn is missing. Guess who gets sent out to look for it...)

followed by:

I've played both these kinds of story arcs with the Professor, and we had a great time. Some nasty bits along the way, but that's life in the Legions...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Alas! Ray Harryhousen's Left Us!

Yes. Phil loved this.
(Yes, we hated this.)

The management here at The Workbench is deeply saddened to pass along this article from our friends at the BBC:

Mr. Harryhousen's work in so many films thrilled and terrified us; his amazing skills were the touchstone for so many of us who were in the first generation of role-playing game participants.

"Jason and the Argonauts" this weekend, I think, with a dose of "Sinbad" movies as a chaser.

Thank you, sir! Your work still thrills!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Weekly Update for Sunday, May 5th, 2013 - MAJOR CHANGES COMING!!!

Malia, the Pirate Princess, and some of her motley crew of rapscallions.
It has been a very, very busy week here at The Workbench!!! I'll try to mention everything that's happened, but bear with me; I may forget something.


We have confirmed the date and time of my miniatures game at The Source Comic and Games; the game will be on Saturday, June 8th, at the store. The event starts at noon, with the dice dropping at one sharp. I will, as usual, provide everything. This will be a four-table game, with ships, Ahoggya, Hlutrgu, and whatever else will contribute to a soggy morass. Save Serqu's sisters, and pocket the reward!!!

This game event will be the continuation of the group's desire to hold an event every year to commemorate Dave Arneson, so this will be the 2013 version of "The Davis L. Arneson Memorial Maritime Miniatures Mayhem" event, and I will be getting announcements out this week. This will also mark the first year of the brand new "Mohammed Abd Rahman Barker Memorial Tekumel Miniatures Game"; we're combining the two this year, but I think we'll be running them as separate events at Con of the North, the local game convention, in 2014.


I got a huge package from the very busy Howard Fielding of The Tekumel Project this pst week, and I am now working away at sorting out Ahoggya arms and gluing them onto the resin bodies. I will have a review with photos later on, but I have to say that these are superb castings. The legs and bodies are cast in resin as one part, and the nine different arms (!!!) are metal castings. You get a large number of weapon options as well as 'open' and 'pointing' arms, so there's a vast number of possible combinations to have. Wonderful stuff!!! Thank you, Howard!!!


Big changes are on the way here at The Workbench!!!

Our beloved roomie, Joe the paramedic / fireman, is moving out of the house after living here for eight years. He was offered a berth with some good friends, and we're delighted that he has the opportunity to move into a larger house with bigger rooms. (And cooler people, too! We're such old fuddie-duddies, really...) It doesn't sound like much, but the space we get in his old room, some 150 square feet / 1,200 cubic feet / 13.333 cubic yards - and yes, we do have to work in those terms, here at the little house! - will mean that the 'lounge' furniture in the basement 'game lounge' will now be moved upstairs. This, in turn, will clear an immense amount of space in the game room / lounge area, and I will be able to have enough space - at last! - to have not one, but two - yes, two! - game tables up and running at once.

In addition to this doubling of capacity, the conversion of the old bedroom into a lounge area will give us a lot more flexibility; the two sofa beds will allow us to accomodate guests, like our daughter Kerry and her husband Zhodi (expected in from Zurich in the middle of June), and to - if desired - have a room where people can play RPGs or board games. So, we're tripling our capacity, and also rebuilding the home office with an considerable increase in computer and printing capacities. Lots happening, and we'll be very busy for the nest month or so!

The Game Plan

What I'm planning on doing, with the help of the game group, is to do something special every quarter of the year. This year will be a 'build year, where I make stuff, but we'll start the cycle nest year. Samples of what I'm looking at are:

First Quarter - Con of the North game room(s)

Second Quarter - Miniatures game event at The Source, a tradition of ours

Third Quarter - 'micro con' here at The Workbench, taking advantage of the fine weather

Fourth Quarter - to be determined; any suggestions?


"To Serve The Petal Throne" continues to grow apace; I am now up to 80,300 words, and I still haven't scratched the surface of my notes. My heavens!!!


In health news, I am doing just fine; still in the 'human normal' range, and being very careful. The doctors, and The Missus, are very happy.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Readers' Requests: GM playstyles - Dave Arneson, Gary Gygax, and M. A. R. Barker

From the Tekumel Project, from artwork by Prof. Barker.
I have photos of the damsel in distress in her college days.
From time to time I get asked what playing with The Big Three was like; it's very hard to explain in words, so I'd like to offer these three video clips from YouTube as a way of showing what I thought that their games were like.

First off, Dave Arneson; utter chaos, lots of laughs, zany characters, and a surprise ending:

Secondly, Gary Gygax; also lots of laughs, wacky characters, a surprise ending, but more structure to the game session:

Finally, M. A. R. Barker; strong plot lines, strong characters with a lot of motivation, lots of 'off-scene' plots and politics, and a hefty dose of swashbuckling action involving a cast of thousands:

 Please have a look, and think about how you run your games.

Interestingly, I've also been asked what playing in my games is like. That, I think depends on what kind of game scenario I'm running. If I may, I'd like to use the same kind of video clips as illustrations for you to ponder.

Role playing games - "Action! Adventure! Romance!":

"Kaor, my Princess! Helium, now and forever!!!" -Robert A. Heinlien, The Number of the Beast

'Skirmish' games / 'Braunstein'-style games:

"Chirine, you're the perfect hussar." -James Moffat, Vice-president of Sales, Adventure Games

Large 'wargames' of the 'old school' variety:

"Chirine does the most clever little miniatures!" -Prof. M. A. R. Barker, no slouch at the genre himself

Thanks for your time, and your thoughts and comments are always welcome here at The Workbench!