Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, June 8th, 2014 - The Curtains Of Doom!

The new table, with the upper deck in place and the new side curtains.

The new game table is, I am delighted to be able to report, fulfilling all of my expectations for it. Both as a piece of furniture - the gamers report that it is more comfortable to sit around and easier to work with in games - and as a 'display system' for my miniatures. The game table for the forthcoming adventure in the Lost Temple Complex is all set and ready to go; I now have the option of setting the games at my own pace, and in my own time.

It's wonderful.

The top deck of the thing is a sheet of MDF hardboard, usually referred to by the trade name "Masonite" here in these former ornaments of the Crown, and can be swopped out for a transparent Plexiglass sheet of the same size for underwater games. The folks over at The Lead Adventure Forum have put me onto a source of printed photo mats of ocean bottoms, and I'll have to look into these. The upper deck is fitted out with some IKEA showcase lights - the 120 volt kind, not the 12 - 24 volt low voltage ones - and these in turn are on a dimmer so I can fade the Underworld in and out as needed.

I also took some spare black felt from stock - yes, we do have stocks of just about everything here; we used to do stage and show production, and we have lots and lots of very useful stuff in the inventory - and cut it into long curtains. These are based on the Japanese 'noren' doorway curtains; a wide strip of fabric at the top with narrower individual strips hanging down. The idea is that these curtains act as what we used to call in theater 'modesty panels', which keep things out of view of the casual observer. In this case and application, they screen the Underworld from the prying eyes of those pesky player-characters, and provide for both a degree of hidden movement and easy access to the lower regions of the game.

I am, I have to say, very pleased with the whole system; between the table itself and the plastic storage bins of scenery and terrain, running games has never been easier!!!



I am adding a new website to the "Where I Get Things" list over in the left-hand column. Mike Burns, who has been running a series of Indiegogo campaigns to fund his line of Ancient Egyptian palace miniatures, now has his own website and attached webstore:

This is a super little site; he has photos of all his figures painted up, and they look really good. I have been delighted with these miniatures, and I am having a lot of fun getting them all painted.

Have a look, if you please; I think you'll be delighted!


  1. That looks wonderful, but I'm not sure I "get" how the underworld section works, exactly. Do you take down the curtains at some point, and the players can then see what's below? Do you ever have multi-level dungeons there, and if so, how do you handle the elevations?

    1. Let me see if I can explain how I think this will work. The Underworld is basically a three-dimensional version of the 'game-mat-on-the-table' sort of thing, with wooden blocks to make up the walls and corridors. (I like simple.) All the players know at the beginning of this game session is what they found out during the last game session; one, there is Something Down There, and two, they know of four shafts that lead down into the Underworld. So, they are going to have to explore the Underworld to find out what's on the lower level - in short, they have to do it The Hard Way. The players descend the shafts on ropes (dental floss) or with spells (flight stands) and then start exploring.

      Back some time ago, I ran an Underworld adventure for some of my players as a charity benefit for their school; I covered all of the rooms at the start of the game with black paper, and took the covers off when the room was entered. People got really careful about listening at the door.

      This is much the same sort of set-up; one level, for simplicity, and covers on the rooms - I am assuming that my players, who are all very smart and very clever, will sneak peeks at the lower level through the slits in the curtains.

      To help them out a bit, and provide lots of laughs, I have set up one of my remote-control video cameras in one corner of the lower level, and this feeds the 36" monitor in the game room. As the players get into trouble, I'll turn up the lights in the lower level (they are on a dimmer) and we'll have at it. I'm trying to provide some information, but not too much, to the players.

      This game is much like the one I did a while back, where it was a night-time skirmish fought by lamp light. It went over a real treat with the players, and I'm hoping that this one does as well.

      This will be the first Underworld game I've done on this table. In the past, I've used separate maps for each level, like I think is usual, and done multi-level games that way. What I'm trying to do here is get people to think in three dimensions...

      I am not at all sure what I'd do for a multi-level game; I currently use poker chips to indicate 'height bands' or 'depth bands' above and below a datum surface for underwater and flying creatures. A multi-level underworld? I could do it, I think, using the sheets of Plexiglass that I have, but I don't know; there would have to be gaps for access between levels, obviously.

      Being a model-builder, I'd want to build the various levels in miniature, and I don't know if it would be practical as a game. I suspect I'd do what we normally do for the insides of buildings, and have maps of the levels off to one side.

      I'd love to hear any ideas, too!!!

      - chirine

  2. Can't wait to hear how this all works during the game. Your players are in for a treat, I think.

    1. I will keep everyone posted, and I think we'll shoot some video as well. I'll keep everyone posted, of course!

      I think so too - we'll see what they have to say! :)

      - chirine