Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Bit Of Fluff For The Holidays! - Another Work In Progress

Artfully posed: Tuleng (our star),
and planets Uletl, Riruchel, Tekumel, Shichel, Ziruna

A more 'natural' look at our star system;
I still have to detail the planets, of course.

Every now and then, even the most 'serious' modeler just has to get a little silly. I've always wanted an orrery for the Tekumel star system, ever since Phil took us to see the amazing one created by the Ancients and still in more-or-less working order out in the Tsolei Islands. (Nanotechnology is a wonderful thing.) I've been meaning to get out some dowels and some spheres for decades, but when The Missus saw this little model kit in her usual crafts store, we just could not resist. You do wind up with spare planets, as well as some parts, but I always save stuff like this 'for later' and 'just in case'.

Tekumel's star system is an artificial one; the Lords of Humanspace terra-formed it as a job for the Hokun, who have been living on other portions of the planet since it fell into the pocket dimension. The five planets are grouped into a belt that is about the same as the orbits of Venus through those of the asteroids. Uletl is a little rock ball, and Ziruna a little ice ball. Riruchel is, we think, a relatively stable planet, and of course we call Tekumel home. Shichel is a mystery; it is the largest planet in the system, but not that much bigger then either Riruchel or Tekumel. If you happen to get out that way, let us know if the place is a gas planet or a solid.

I have not modeled the moons; that's for another, larger model. Tuleng will light up, on that model.

Distances from Tuleng are shown pretty accurately, at least in the proportions. This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a scale model.

I switched the planets around a bit from the model kit, so as to get some different detail on each planet. Now that I have the base coats on each, there will be ink washes to bring out the details; nothing fancy, just a little added extra that I like to do. I might try to add some of the planetary map to Tekumel, but we'll have to see how good I really am. In any case, it'll be under the clouds.

All of this really got started when Phil and I were talking about astrology and navigation on Tekumel. He said that they did it, and I worked out all the number-crunching to do it. Had to; we had an astrolabe, and we wanted to know how to use it...

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Chirine At Work - Part-way Through

The job in progress. I still have to bind the books.

Showing my usual lack of self-restraint when it comes to model-building, I fell to with the TRE Games kits after I posted about them to this blog. I used a tacky craft glue, which you can get at all better crafts stores - just ask; tell them you're a model railroader / railway modeler, and they'll understand - and it took about two hours to build everything you see here. One does have to be careful when popping the parts out of the matrix; like any laser-cut parts, they can be fragile. One really nice thing about these kits is that you do get spares of any really delicate bits.

The bench and stool kit gives you six benches, all different, and ten stools of three types. The table kit yields three tables, all of slightly different style. The 'closed' bookcase, on the left, has four shelves, sides, and back; the 'open' bookcase, which frankly sort of scared me when I opened it, has four shelves and is open on all for sides. Both bookshelves come with little blocks to use as books, and what I think is pretty cool are the wrap-around covers; all the books will look a little different on the shelf.

The cabinet comes with doors, and in the photo you can see that they are slightly open. Let's be honest; any group of player-characters crashing into a room with one of these in it is going to have those doors off in three-tenths of a second, if only to get at the goodies in the cabinet. And then they'll use the doors as shields when the annoyed owner of the goodies shows up to see what all the noise is. ("Pesky player-characters!" - Prof. M. A. R. Barker, after a particularly annoying Thursday night.) So, I glued magnetic material on the backs of the doors, and all the way around the frame, so that we can have the doors open and available as separate items.

I will confess that I did use a bit of 'specialist gear' for the open bookshelf. The steel assembly tray is part of my arsenal of model building tools, and usually gets used for making sure that my railway buildings are all plumb; you use the magnets to secure the parts while the glue sets. With this rig, the bookshelf took about five very easy minutes to assemble, instead of the half-hour of fumbling agony that I was expecting the job to take.

I am, I will freely admit, quite taken with these little kits. They go together really easily, are reasonably strong, and have a delicate look to them that I really like. The closed bookshelf and the cabinet look to be strong enough to support the weight of figures, so I expect we'll see some swashbuckling next melee.

(I was so excited by these kits that I clean forgot to mention that I am on vacation this week, so I have plenty of time for this sort of tomfoolery.)

Happy Holidays!

The Laser Cutter Is Your Friend - Buying Locally

Princess Vrisa goes boating. The oars are separate.

Still in the bags from when The Missus got them for me.

Ah, modern technology! Back in 1994, my Missus did the bases for the Hugo Awards on the powerful industrial laser cutting table she had at the place she was working at. The beast cut through 1/2" maple planks like they were butter, and one had to stand by with a fire extinguisher - it was a mighty beast, and mostly untamed. These days, laser cutters and three-dimensional printers are more user-friendly, and we have two examples of how they make my life a lot easier.

First up, the little boats that I think I mentioned a while back. Don Burl Corleone, the Godfather of RPGs at The Source, 'knows a guy' who makes the boats as seen in the top photo. They have two layers glues together, and four paddles/oars included in the shrink-wrapped pack. These are over-sized, but they do not get lost in play. The boats hold six 25/28mm figures in comfort, and you can get more in if you're like us and desperate. I am making decked sections to go with these, for use as floating bridges.

Second, TRE Games ( does all sorts of useful stuff like bases, gadgets, airplanes, and now these packs of 25/28 mm furniture. That's right - furniture kits. The Missus saw these, and was enchanted; I saw then, and immediately thought of drilling out the sword from an upraised hand and replacing it with a stool from one of the kits.

You never have enough furniture to throw, parry with, or cosh somebody over the noggin with.

There are, at present: two bookshelves, one cabinet, one set of three long tables, and one set of benches and stools. We used to run into this kind of thing all the time in Phil's Jakalla Underworld, and looking in the wardrobe used to be a common occupation for us. We don't have a lot of actual furniture on Tekumel, as we mostly have mats on the floor and such, but these sets provide everything one could want for gracious living on campaign or in the clan house; the stools also double as the little tables one finds next to one's mat or carpet. (Mats and carpets: Google search + color printer)

And these are cut from actual hardwood - ash, the label says. There's nothing like wood to simulate wood, we always said in modeling, and these sets need only a dab of wood glue - or your favorite craft glue - to stick them together and they are ready to go.

And they look really good, too; the bookshelf sets include a color-printed sheet of book covers for the little wooden blocks used for the books, and even some scrolls to leave around to get those pesky player-characters into trouble. The wood is 1/16" thick, so these kits look a lot more 'real' then the old cast-metal furniture items I'm used to; they have very thick shelves, as a certain thickness is needed to get the metal to flow into the mold.

So, a little bit of fun from two local manufacturers; I'll have more photos when I get the furniture built...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas - 2015 - And Happy Holidays!

You just know what I'm going to do with this kit, don't you.

We're here at the bottom of the year, and it's a quiet night in at the little house. The Missus is cooking up the holiday dinner, and I am enjoying three days off - followed by the last football game of the season - and then a week's vacation.

It's been a long year, with all too much happening, but we're still here. Our regards to you all, and happy holidays!!!


Update: The Missus has been in touch with David Soderberg, and he is in the process of renewing his website. All of his figures are still avilable; he's just been swamped by sculpting work for various companies. I'll have more on this, as soon as I hear more.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

STOP THE PRESSES! - WAS Spending the Holiday Money - Bronze Age Miniatures

Some guy from Virginia, maybe?
(Photo from Bronze Age Miniatures)


PLEASE NOTE: Sharp-eyed reader Ben Brooks noted that the web announcement of the sale at BronzeAge Miniatures is from 2014, not this year. I missed this, which is why I should not post while tired and late at night. I do not know if there is rally a sale on at this point, and I'd advise e-mailing David to see what the situation is. I am very sorry about the confusion, and I'll be more careful next time. I think I was just too giddy about the idea of getting more of his figures, honestly!


We're coming up on the holidays again, and we're looking at what to do with our little pile of money that we've managed to save up for our wild and extravagant holiday spending. My birthday saw the arrival of a new laptop for me to use on the Internet; it's got the newer Intel chip set for video work that my current desktop lacks - too old, the poor thing - and I have hopes that I can get on-line games with full duplex communication going in the new year.

There's also a new vacuum for me to clean up my messes - the old HEPA one had the motor in the power sweeper head go out, after twenty years of dealing with my construction dust. (There's also a replacement for the old CRT 36" television that the Missus had in the living room; the power supply failed this past week, and so it's gone the way of all old electronics. It was replaced by a 32" LCD, but that came out of our stock of A/V and show production gear, and so does not count as 'holiday goodies' per our accountant.)

There was also the set of four lovely little cast resin islands from JR Miniatures that the guys at The Source put me on to; these, I fear, may be out of production, so you may have to look around for photos of what they look like. Nice rocky peaks, and beaches to please any pirate, buccaneer, or 'Honest Seafaring Merchant' in need of water or someplace to bury the loot. I used my model railroading skills to do these up right, and I am very pleased with the results. This came about because of a renewed interest in the collection of 1/1200 ships from the Valiant Miniatures 'Ancients' and 'Spanish Main' lines; I originally got these for our games out at Phil's, back in the day, and we're still playing with them today. (Avast, me hearties! Shiver me timbers, but much to my astonishment, Valiant is still in business, and the ships still available! Sink me for a lubber, else! Hurrah!)

Also in the nautical line, Burl at The Source 'knows a guy' who has a laser cutter, and this chap makes very handy little rowboats in 25 - 32mm. These will easily take six figures on 25mm / 1" bases, and are very handy little craft. I'm making sets of beams and decks for them, so that I can use them in the bridging train as a modular pontoon bridge - or 'bridge of boats', as the Divine Alexander would have called it.

The biggest news is from David Soderberg, the owner and genius behind Bronze Age miniatures; he's offering a 30% discount on his marvelous products from now until December 27th. There's a lot more, and photos, at:

The Missus has indicated that she's looking at some of the figures; I'm told that my hard-pressed River Police may be getting some badly-needed new troopers, and that there may be a new Dire Peril in the offing as she stocks up for new adventures. I'm very fond of the Bronze Age figures, as they are very animated and just chock full of character. They're just fun, and really great for those swashbuckling games.

In other news, lots of very big changes in the works here, as I am finally on a stable schedule. Things are hectic, but we're managing. I'm now steaming past 115,000 words on "To Serve The Petal Throne", and it's really flowing quickly now as I hit my stride.

More to come...

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Appendix 'N',, and Political Correctness...

Take a really good look at this photo. Then read this post.

Reader of this little effort will know that over in the left-hand column of this page is a section of links to various blogs; these are not always people who agree with me, but they are the voices of people that I think are worth listening to. One of the recent posters caught my eye:

This had a link to a series of articles on TOR Publishing's website, which I think you might want to have a look at for yourself:

Gary's 'Appendix N', of course, is a list of the books and authors that inspired him when he was creating D&D; it, by and large, is also Dave Arneson's and M. A. R. Barker's. (Although Phil did not like Tolkein. At all.) Phil, I might also add, was reading a lot of these people back in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, before they became famous.

According to the authors of the series - I did read all of the articles - Appendix 'N' is a compendium of the politically incorrect; racism, misogyny, sexism, you name it. Well, all right; people are, in my probably constitutionalist-biased view, certainly entitled to their opinions and to have a venue with which to express them. This sort of commentary is also to be found on quite a few Internet forums (fora?), where people seem to get outraged about something at the drop of a hat.

Frank Frazetta has been added to the list of the politically incorrect, I gather. He's in distinguished company; practically every artist and / or author from the early days of gaming have been denounced in various game forums (fora?) on the Internet. We are informed that we need to be more 'inclusive', more 'accepting', and more aware of all of the social injustices that gaming has contained within it.

Well, all right, I can understand that as well; you're reading the musings of a guy who has two daughters who are on Vladimir Putin's "I think you are a poopie-butt" list, for their activism in support of gay rights in Russia and elsewhere. The Missus and I used to pay for the publication of an LGBT 'zine put out by a couple of local LGBT activists - "Spit Exchange" - so I think this family has paid their dues. (1)

Have a good look at the photo at the top of this post. Please, if you would, tell me which of these people are 'Lesbian', 'Gay', 'Bi', and 'Trans'; or, for that matter, 'Straight', 'Asexual', 'Jewish', 'Atheist' 'Pagan', 'Christian', or whatever label you want to hang on somebody. Can't you tell? Just by looking at them? I can't; I have to sit down and work at remembering that that the extraordinary and gifted role-player Mr. Lander - I never called him by his first name; he was just too civilized for anything other then 'Mr. Lander' - was A Person Of Color. (2)

My players, as were the players in the original Thursday Night Group, role-players first and foremost. We didn't much care what you were; we cared about how well you played. We didn't hang labels on anybody; we didn't worry about it. That's the way I run my games today, and that's the way I'm going to be running them in the future. If you think you might be having issues with that; I'll be happy to discuss it with you.

However, do have a look at the TOR articles first; if you find yourself being offended by the authors listed, then I would politely and respectfully suggest that you might not like the mayhem and tomfoolery that goes on in my game room. Likewise, if you find the prospect of little lead people with very little clothes on to be worrisome, you might want to stay away on that basis as well. (Yes, it has come up.)

Otherwise, come on in; pull up a chair and some dice, and make yourself at home. I'll try to be entertaining.

(1) In the interests of transparency, I should note that I stopped paying for this publication after one of the authors and their associates kept referring to myself, The Missus, and people like us as 'breeders'; this used to be the term of art in the local LGBT fannish community for 'straight' people - rather like how many 'real fans' would refer to people outside fandom as 'mundanes'; one fan I know now uses the term 'muggles'. I did point out that their comments were on the order of 'biting the hand that feeds you', but my concerns were - as has been the case so many times over the decades - ignored. I took my money elsewhere. Another of the authors was the one who recently stated that , and I quote, "Only a bisexual person of color can properly interpret Tekumel." I do have to wonder what Phil would have thought of that statement.

(2) And while I think of it, I have some news for folks: There Are No White People On Tekumel. (Humans, anyway.) And if you want to be fussy, there are two Persons of Color at that table; one of them is one of my daughters.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Second Saturday Game - Ill Met By Moonlight!

What I saw.
What the player-characters saw.

Well, that was a fun way to spend an afternoon! The four parties of player-characters and their mercenaries entered from the various sides of the board, and had just gotten down to some serious action when the power went off here at the little house. I was pretty dismayed; I had been looking forward to this game for quite a while, and here we couldn't see a thing.

The players, on the other hand, kept right on going, and broke out their lanterns - all those little IKEA dome lights came out again, and game play went right on without skipping a beat. I had to shoot pictures by flash, of course, but the game was played entirely by moon- and lantern-light.

After several turns of archery - one player had a bow, and was determined to use it - and a lot of melee, everybody got to thinking that a tactical stalemate was not going to get anyone anythere. One player had managed to get the door to the pyramid open - after shooting another player to prevent them from doing so - and was holed up in the doorway with the other three players laying siege to them. After much very spirited negotiation, and substantial amounts of money changing hands, all parties came to an agreement whereby they would band together and explore the innards of the pyramid as a group.

We'll see how long that lasts.

Anyway, the game will move into the pyramid, in the nest game session, and I'll put the vertical extender up so we can play in all three dimensions - I'll model underworld, as well as the upper levels, and we'll see what happens. The players are already worried about what Howard Fielding of The Tekumel Project will feel about all this; Howard - that sweet, kind, caring, and very thoughtful man - had been kind enough to send me a huge batch of Hlutrgu for the "Saving Serqu's Sisters" game...

A very good time was had by all, and a very good example of my little 'micro-Braunsteins'! There are more photos up on my Photobucket page, too...

Second Saturday Game: The Pyramid of Death!

The Table Of Death, with The Scenery of Death.

We're finally getting back to our schedule of games on the Second and Fourth Saturdays in the calendar month, after much too long a hiatus occasioned by entirely too many distractions out in the real world.


Anyway, the Pyramid of Death (I still don't know who made this wonderful thing!) is located on the edges of the Forest of Death, amidst the Ruins of Death and the Temple of Death. (There's a theme, here.) Several intrepid bands of explorers and adventurers have arrived to investigate Rumors of Strange Doings, and with the goal of keeping it all for themselves.

If there's one thing you can say about Tekumel, it's just chock full of places like this. Just ask the locals, and they'll be happy to give you directions.

This will be one of the players' very first ever miniatures game, so I'm keeping everything as simple as possible. Open terrain, small bands of heroes, simplified movement, etc. I'll let you know how it all turns out...

(By the by, the poster of the Campbell's Soup Can is an homage to the games we ran at the old Little Tin Soldier Shoppe in South Minneapolis from the late 1970s to the late 1980s; the groups there awarded a trophy, The Holy Soup Can, to the most inept gamer they knew each year. The trophy was a soup can on a base, inscribed with a suitable motto. The trophy was retired in the middling 1980s, as there was one player who managed to 'win' the award three years running - he was truly incredible in his ineptitude.)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

My Dad And The Banzai Charge, Fuelled By Aussie Lager - Veterans' Day, 2015

New Guinea, 1944. Not Ikea.

If I can say one thing about life here in our little house where The Workbench is located, nearly forty years in the gaming hobby does mean that one does have a lot of very odd objects, relics, items, and just plain stuff sitting around. A case in point are these two lamps, which my dad picked up in 1944 from some nice Japanese soldiers who'd left them lying around. He kept them for years, in their raw state, and finally added the lampshades and electrical hardware when he had the time.

My dad didn't talk much about his time in the Fifth Air Force; to here him tell his young sons about the Second World War, it was all island paradises, buxom nurses, and unlimited quantities of Aussie lager, flown in from The Land Down Under by helpful supply officers. I once asked him how he, as an aircraft mechanic, had gotten both a Purple Heart and aircrew / flight wings. He said, in the tone of voice used by doting parents to beloved but not-very-bright offspring, "I got it after I cut myself shaving." (Ah, right, Dad.)

I found out, after he passed away, what he'd really been up to - the snapshot of him standing next to a Soviet BT-7 tank was my first clue that something was not being mentioned in passing - and nearly fainted. He was doing stuff in C-46 and C-47 transport airplanes that I wouldn't have even considered doing in a tank. My word!

So anyway, he's in New Guinea in 1944, minding his own business and waiting for chow call. He and his colleagues are indeed having some good cold Aussie lager, when the local Japanese garrison - who are still in business, over on the other side of the airfield where my dad was fixing up broken airplanes - start dropping 81mm mortar rounds all over the place. Normally, this was not a matter for much concern, he told me, because "those other folks" never seemed to be able to figure out what all the little knobs on the mortar did and never really managed to hit anything important.

What annoyed my dad and his buddies was that they did this every evening, right at chow call, and it really made for an unsettled digestion. After all, one of these days, one of these kids from Yokohama or Osaka might get lucky and drop a round into the corned beef brisket. After what my dad described as a considerable amount of lager, they thought that Something Must Be Done about this annoying mortar crew, and so they collected all of their vast armory of weapons - one .45 pistol, one .30 carbine, and a lot of wrenches, hammers, pry bars, and other tools capable of inflicting blunt force trauma. (The firearms, by the way, were for the snakes, with which New Guinea is plentifully supplied.)

My dad and his buddies surged down the runway, brandishing their arsenal of improvised weapons, much to the bemusement and alarm of the regular infantry and Marines who normally dealt with hostile people; Dad thought that they may have been screaming "BANZAI!", just to be rude, but his recollections of the actual moments of their headlong charge are, in his words, "a little hazy". The Imperial Japanese Army never knew what hit it; after a confused melee, the mortar crews left the Americans in possession of the field, and my dad in possession of several rifles, a sword, a flag, and two perfectly good - and live - 81mm mortal rounds.

He got the fuses pulled, making the rounds more or less safe, and removed the high explosive innards with a hammer and chisel while sitting on his bunk in his tent. He was cordially invited to do that elsewhere by his sergeant, after that worthy had been revived; he'd walked in to see my dad happily chipping away, and promptly fainted. (Can you blame him?) The net result, you can see above; two lamps that sit on the chest of drawers in the game lounge.

Thinking of you and your buddies today, Dad...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Not Dead Yet, and Hitting A Milestone

Yep; 16 square feet of shrubbery, and the campaign map.

I am, as they say, not quite dead yet. I am in the middle of football season, and so I have very little free time and lots of overtime. The money is nice, but I get tired pretty easily and so wind up having to lie down a lot. At least I'll get all caught up with Howard Fielding and his Tekumel Project!

However, there has been some progress on several fronts. I will answer all your comments, too.

I have finally - at last! - finished doing all the different scenery types that I had originally planned back about a decade ago. Back in Ye Olden Dayes, we thought that being able to buy a box of four 'Life-Like' model railroad trees was A Big Investment; now, I am older and smarter. (I think.) Back about 2005, I bought a whole pile of cheap floral stuff from a crafts store; the plastic foliage comes on long stems for use as garlands and such, and being thrifty I got a bunch of different styles when they went on sale. The plastic is soft and bendy, which means that when a gamer falls onto or leans on the foliage, it bend and does not break. It's almost impossible to damage the stuff. I cut out irregular shapes of thin MDF, painted them with a suitable ground color, and then hot-melt-glued the foliage onto the shapes at more-or-less random; last step is to splash cheap wood glue onto the shapes, and add sawdust or other ground cover to add some 'natural' texture to the bases.

You can see more of the results of all this on the Photobucket page - there are a lot of pictures of my game tables in the various albums. You can also get this kind of foliage at pet stores, too; The Missus got me a huge pile of nice palm trees (for those desert oasis games) from a cake-decorating place...

My goal, back then, was to give my gamers what we'd never had out at Phil's: the ability to represent any of the terrain types that Phil described for Tekumel. We made do with the green carpet on his game table, and The One Hill and The One Tree. It was what we had, but it lacked a certain spectacle worthy of Phil's astonishing creation.

I didn't have to work this past weekend, so I got out the last boxes of shrubbery and all of the pre-cut shapes I'd had around for literally years, and the photo shows you the result. I am very, very pleased; it's been a long time coming, but we're finally done!

And I got another 3,500 words done for "To Serve The Petal Throne", too! :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Taking Stock, Three Years Later - September 15th, 2015

Back View. And it still itches, too.

Front View. Phil: "Take a twenty-sider of damage..."

Well, here we are. Three years ago tonight, I was having my brain vacuumed out. I am, as you can see from the date of this post, still here, and dang glad to be so. I am doing pretty well; I am finally getting used to my new work schedule, having been on a third shift / overnight shift since 2008, and it's been pretty exhausting. Still, though, I have hopes that this will give me more time to write, and more time to run some games.

I have been in the 'human normal' range now for about two and a half years; getting rid of the mahor stress-inducer in my life has been a huge part of that, as have the fistfuls of medications that I take very day an ten in the morning and ten at night. My life revolves around my medication schedule, which is a pretty small price to pay for staying alive.

So, let's briefly take stock of where we are and what we're doing, shall we?

I am finally getting back to large-scale painting production, hurrah! I have a number of large projects in hand, and I'll start shooting photos for you to ponder at as soon as I can; I am in football season at work, which means that time is very limited until January.

I am not planning on running any large games at exterior venues for the next three months; just too much going on, what with work and taking care of The Missus.

I have canceled some large and difficult projects, in order to save time and stamina. Lots of raw materials that I have been keeping in stock for years have been recycled or reused, so we're able to move ahead on the things that I really want to do.

"To Serve The Petal Thorne" continues to advance, bit by bit. I'm enjoying writing this, and I hope you'll be amused by the result. Word counts when I have them; I haven't looked, lately.

Let's see; nothing else comes to mind; I'm just home from work, so with your indulgence I shall be off to bed. More later, and thank you all for your kind wishes!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

And Now, The Good News!

Ral Partha 'Chaos" soldiers, from Iron Wind Metals

 And we're back.

Let's have some good news, shall we? As previously reported in these pages, Ral Partha, the miniatures company that I grew up with and which set the tone and look for our game sessions out at prof. barker's for years, is back. I don't know if I gave the link to their new website, so I'll do it again:

having had a very successful Kickstarter campaign, the boys and girls behind this effort are adding some new packages that will interest both miniatures and RPG gamers; they've introduced sets of these classic figures to the webstore, and these sets give a nice assortment of figures - and a very good price. You can now get a selection of good figures, what will work very well for either RPGs, skirmishes, or the big battles, and all with the same figures. Much more 'bang for your buck', and in a good solid metal that's nice and durable.

There are seven sets up  the webstore now, with a lot more on the way. Ral Partha had one of the most diverse and well-sculpted lines of figures in the industry, and they're all on the way back. Bookmark the site; you'll want to keep looking in on them!

And I can say that I am very, very pleases with the figures I've gotten from them; I am in the process of rebuilding my units, getting them up to full strength, and the newly-cast figures look just as good as the old ones. Crisper, too; the new metal they are using, plus the advances in modeling and casting technology, have combined to make these figures some of the very best in the business.

Ral Partha is also committed to staying in touch with us gamers, too. Here's another link I think you'll find useful:

Take a really good look at this, if you would. A bunch of really cool and talented people are reaching out to all you equally cool and talented people out there in the world to come and participate in what they are doing. Give them a shout - I don't think you'll be disappointed with the response you get...

And am I excited about all this? You bet I am; this is some of the best news I've had this year, and it's been keeping me going through some pretty trying times. Ral Partha was a huge part of what we did, back in the day, and I am simply delighted to see them back with all of us.

First, The Bad News...

The Missus, in better days...
Right. Let's get this over with, so I can get to the good news in the nest post. There is some good news, I am happy to report.

 I've been asked - politely - why I haven't been posting on this blog lately. Well, here's the deal:

I try very hard to keep the personal stuff out of this blog, but sometimes it's really hard to do so. At the moment, it's impossible. My beloved Missus, she who has supported Tekumel for nearly three decades with her time, money and energy, has suffered some sort of neurological 'incident'. The motor controls on the left side of her face no longer work. The doctors says it's not a stroke; they checked, and did a CAT scan. Nothing; they are baffled. In the meantime, The Missus's health has been declining for the past three months, and so I've been a little distracted.

On top of this, I am no longer on third shift; my department at work has been reorganized, and I now work a 3:30 pm to midnight shift. I have been on third shift (10:00 pm to 6:00 am, more or less) for almost a decade, and it's odd to be back out in the sunlight. I've been exhausted, and as a result not a lot has been getting done here at the Workbench. I've had to adjust my own medications schedule and thus my sleeping and eating ones as well, and it's been tough. From what my doctors tell me, I seem to have suffered minor damage to the 'lizard brain' at the base of my skull during the brain bleed I had three years ago, and I am having difficulty with extremes of temperature. As I work outdoors, the recent high-heat-index days have been very tough, and have added to my exhaustion.

We'll survive; she and I have had worse. Let's move on, shall we? And thank you all for all your good wishes and patience!

- The Management

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

25 Years of Patience

The Missus loved this;
I think Mr. Frazetta would have, too.

This is a post that actually does have something to do with gaming, but you'll have to be patient.

Today marks the twenty-fifth year The Missus and I have been married.

The Missus has survived a lot, over the years. Surgery, cancer, my brain bleed, a fire, some tornadoes, and all of the slings and arrows that life delivers. Through it all, she's been my anchor, helping me navigate life's adventures.

She's also been the one who's supported me and my love of Tekumel, and also been the one who's brought you so many of the products and publications that we did over the decades. She first came to me and to Tekumel when she came to work for us at the old office, where she transcribed all of my copies of Phil's index cards onto our first-generation computers. She's been the one to do all the nasty little jobs that nobody else wanted, like transcribing all of the Professor's articles to create the anthology of them that we published. her most recent publication was for the Tekumel Foundation, the side-by-side edition of the 'mimeo' play-test version of EPT.

Throughout all these years we've been together, her patience and her support have been crucial to keeping Tekumel alive. if it hadn't been for her unstinting support and help, we would never have been able to keep things going, and have a wonderful time adventuring in Phil's wonderful creation.

She's taken a lot of crap and abuse from some 'big name Tekumel people' for doing that, sad to say. She's risen above it all, and kept on supporting Phil and his work - she was instrumental in making his last months comfortable, helping his wife navigate the mazes of the health care system and getting Ambereen and Phil all the help that she could. She took a lot more crap and abuse for doing so, but she did it anyway along with two of her five adopted daughters because it was the right thing to do.

We're hoping to have twenty-five more years, and maybe something after that. We'll see how it goes, and we'll keep you posted.

Here's to my Missus; all my love, and all my best!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Back From Vacation, and More Changes Hereabouts

From the archives...

I am now back at work after a very nice vacation; it's a little hard to go back to a night shift, but it's only for a month - I am being moved to a day shift in August, which means some very big changes to my and The Missus' life. I will be working afternoons and evenings, which means I will have mornings free for writing, painting, and gaming.

In the meantime, things are going to be a little chaotic; I will most likely not be doing the Sunday updates, and instead doing an update a week when I have something interesting to say. there will also be lots of other posts as well, as this blog becomes more of a campaign newsletter. Expect to see more 'how to' articles on how I make and do things, with references back to how we played back in Ye Olden Dayes. More photos, as well, as I get all of the backlog of photos in the archives up on the Photobucket page, and more figures in the collection photographed. It's a bit of an effort, but I hope you'll think it's worth it.

So, lost of changes, lots of new stuff, and lots of new activity on the way!!!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Six Month Summary - The End Of An Era, Here At The Workbench

It has been a wonderful vacation!

I had mentioned, back at the beginning of my week's vacation, that I had organized my scenery and terrain into 'home' and 'away' games. I've had a few questions about this come in over the transom, so here's a little essay on where I am and what I'm doing.

The 'away' games are the ones that I had originally built to play at outside venues - the classic FLGS, conventions, etc. - and were all some with a set of either painted canvas drop cloths or a set of large (22" x 42") 'tiles'. The idea was to use these venues and the room that they offered to run games that really could benefit from the larger tables that were available in them. 60" x 90" and 60" x 120" were the standard sizes for most of these, and you can see the photos I took of these games on my Photobucket page.

However, these games are - let's face it! - pretty labor-intensive to stage and run, and the logistic support that I need to run these after my brain bleed in 2012 has been on the decline. Not that people are not willing to help; they simply don't have the spare time in their lives that they used to. This kind of came to a head in June of 2013, when I last ran a miniatures game at a public venue, and I would up quite exhausted afterwards. I also started running into problems getting the games themselves booked into spaces, and it all just got to be too much of an issue to be fun.

To try and address this, some time back, I sorted everything out into plastic tubs and then built shelves for these tubs in the garden shed. I cut out the now-obsolete large tiles into smaller ones, and then built the new and more permanent game table in the game room to use these tiles. It is, admittedly, a smaller table, but then small tables make for faster games - again, this took into account their very limited time that people have for games. I want to make the most of what time people have, hence the faster play time for my games.

So, the 'away' games are, in effect, deep storage; if people express an interest in them, we'll play them. If not, then they'll sleep in their storage until they hear a future call to arms.

The 'away' games also share their scenery items - like trees, buildings, temple complexes, etc. - with the 'home' games, so I will be getting the most efficient use out of my collection of stuff. The 'home' games are really more of a system of game tables, rather then a series of game scenarios; my thought has been to create as flexible a system as possible, so as to allow us to play anything we want with a minimal set-up. This seems to be working; the last game I ran took a whole fifteen minutes to set up an be ready for play, and less then thirty minutes to tear down and put away. And the effort involved is really quite minimal, which is a huge help to me as I am limited in my energy and stamina.

And a very positive side effect of this is that I have much more time to paint and to write. A lot of what I'm doing with the miniatures collection these days is centered on my writing; to a large degree, the miniatures and scenery will be serving as 'photo models' for the second edition of my rules - I can do something that I once only dreamed of, and that's illustrating the rules with color pictures of the miniatures on the table. It's also getting me more time to keep writing "To Serve The Petal Throne", too, I got a quick 8,000 words done last night, for example.

So, in some sense it's the end of an era - the 'big table' games will be few and far between. Will this mean the end of gaming here at the Workbench? No. I will still be open the second and fourth Saturdays of the month - doors at noon, game at one - for what might be called skirmish gaming, as well as the games generated by the play-by-(e)mail campaign. It's just a different emphasis, that's all; I'll still be here, rolling dice and pushing lead...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

One Of Those Days, Down At The Temple Of Vimuhla...

Note the very nice flame-shaped dagger.

I mean, really. Some odd fellow and a young woman named 'Sarah' found wandering around in the back corridors of the Temple; why couldn't they take the guided tour, like everybody else?

And yes, once Phil saw this episode of "Doctor Who", it was chants of "Sacred Flame! Sacred Fire!" for weeks afterwards...

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Weekly Update - June 29th, 2015 - Wallowing in vacation time...

The campaign map

I am, as the title of this essay implies, wallowing in vacation. I have taken ten nights off, and I am enjoying myself quite a bit; this is the first time in a decade that my vacation time has not had to be programmed or otherwise expended in dealing with other peoples' emergencies - my time is now my own, and I am really enjoying it.

Most importantly, being off my sore feet has really been a blessing; I am feeling pretty good. I have also been getting a lot of sleep - on this past Sunday, I got  a whole ten hours of uninterrupted sleep! This may not sound like much, but this is the first time since the summer of 2013 that I have been able to get this much sleep at one go. It's pretty wonderful, I tell you!

I have also been able to get going again on the play-by-e-mail campaign. The map has been put together, and the hex tiles left for the players to fill in with their expectations. The tiles are loose, so I can sawp them out for more finished ones, as these are simply marked up with colored pencil for the more important features like the borders.

Which, I have to say, came as a real shock to me when I plotted them out; we're right on top of the borders with Mu'ugalavya and Pijena, so I expect to see some very interesting action ahead.

Speaking of maps, something hugely interesting came across my desk last week; I now have a copy of Craig Smith's 1974 map of his fief of Tu'umnra - something I had never seen before, and had thought long-lost. Amazing stuff, and it's been scanned and added to the mapping database.

I have also reorganized my collection of game scenery and terrain ahead of the campaign. I have divided the collection into the 'home' games, which get played in the game room on the 48" by 48" table  I built, and the 'away' games which are set up to be played in public venues. The away games are all standardized on the 30" x 60" folding tables I have, in multiples; the games 'catalog' goes like this:

60" x 90" table games:
The Battle of Ry; The Battle of the Temple of Chanis

60" x 120" table games:
The Battle of Anch'ke; The Third Battle of Mar; The Storming of Castle Tilketl; Saving Serqu's Sisters (Braunstein); Captain Harchar vs. The Hlyss Nest Ship

All of the away games use the canvas drop cloths I drew Phil's battle maps onto, with the exeception of the island game, and airbrushed to suit. The idea is to have games that are easy to set up and take down, so as to provide the maximum of play time for game events. I still have several blank drop cloths in stock, so there's room for growth.

The hme games all use the sets of terrain tiles I've salvaged from the larger tiles I made some time ago, and I've added a set of ocean tiles to the collection to cover all possible games that I can run. (Islands? Do I need to have some islands?) They also use the same scenery like trees and such that the away games use, so we have a lot of commonality between the two systems.

It's been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Lost more to come, as the week goes on... :)

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Weekly Update For Sunday, June 21st, 2015 - A Day Late,Sorry!

We are serious about our picnics, hereabouts.

Due to having to had to work overtime on Saturday for the concert at the stadium, followed by the festivities for Father's Day yesterday, there is no update for this past week.

However, I am getting a ten-night vacation, starting this Thusday, and you may expect Great Things later this week...

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Weekly Update For Sunday, June 14th, 2015 - Movement On Various Fronts

The first three days...

...and the last three days.

I am still very, very busy, and barely keeping ahead of the curve. Here's a very short round-up of the news:

First off, I will be coming off my over-night shift at work sometime in the next few months. I will be moving to a second-shift position, which will help me quite a lot to really get some use out of my very limited free time. I will actually have two full days of clear free time, instead of the two half-days and one full day I have now.

Gary Con planning is going very well; we had a meeting of the 'working group' yesterday, and we came up with a very - and I do mean very! - tentative schedule of events for the weekend that fills Luke Gygax's desire to have "four to five games going at once" during the weekend. I trotted out my Ancient Technology to plan out the schedule, and using these will make it very easy to change and revise as we get further into the process. I also built the tall stand for the 32" LCD screen I want to have available for games; I found that an active display works a lot better in the game convention situation then an LCD projector does. Gary Con planning is now on the back burner, as I wait to hear back from Luke Gygax and Paul Stromberg.

Which is actually nice, because I can now get caught up on some 'behind the scenes' stuff that I'm working on, as well as getting the play-by-e-mail campaign up and running. The Missus is computer shopping, and I'm getting stuff made and ready.

I am happy to report that I am getting back onto the Workbench proper - new lead has come in, all the was from Alaska! - as well as getting back to writing "To Serve The Petal Throne"; I am currently setting down The Adventure Of Chirine's Wedding Day, and what happened both that night and the next morning. As usual in our Tekumel adventures, nothing went according to plan, and everyone had a very good time.

I am also delighted to be able to report that Volume 3 of "The Excellent Travelling Volume" arrived yesterday, and I really like it; I'll have a much longer post on it as soon as I finish reading it. Very solid work, and very useful for the Tekumel campaigner!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Weekly Update For Sunday, June 7th, 2015 - Getting Back On An Even Keel, I Hope!

Model building - Did I mention I love model building?

Just another short update, today; there's a whole lot happening as I get both Gary Con planning sorted out and the Chalukolumel campaign up and running. I also have a few other major projects coming to fruition at the moment, so I'm going to be very busy for the next few days.

I am taking a ten-day vacation at the end of this month, just to get everything to the point where it will run on auto-pilot; more on all of this shortly!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

BIG NEWS!!! Going Back To Gary Con - March 3rd - 6th, 2016

Mike Mornard, Dave Wesely, Yours Truly
I can now make an announcement!!!

"Gary Con is retracing the path of Gen Con by holding our celebration at the Grand Geneva in 2016.  If you didn't already know, the Grand Geneva (formerly The Playboy Club) was the site of Gen Con X.  The new venue will allow us to expand our footprint significantly while retaining the atmosphere and features we've developed over the past seven years."

I've been invited by Luke Gygax, the President of Gary Con, to run Tekumel events at Gary Con again this coming year. Luke asked me for a proposal on how best to do this; I submitted one, and he's accepted it. We will have a dedicated space for Tekumel at the convention in 2016, as Luke is very committed to furthering what Prof. Barker started at Gen Con all those years ago. He would like to see a mix of role-playing, miniatures, board games, and seminars; if you would like to run something as part of this celebration of Phil's life and work, please e-mail me at:

I would also like to let everyone know about all of the conventions that feature Tekumel programming, such as U-Con and Con of the North (just to mention two), and if folks have anything in the way of adverts or flyers they want to have us hand out, we'll be happy to do so for you.

I had a great time at Gary Con in 2015, and I'm really looking forward to going again this coming year!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Technical Issues - "Delays, Delays!"

Oh, bother!
Well, here's an update to the update...

We're having some technical issues with Blogger; I can't seem to get my circles to work in the 'share' function. We're checking to see if it's a hardware or software issue; in the meantime, I'm winging it.
I'm also told that Blogger has some issues of it's own, and we're investigating that as well.

Adding to my annoyance, we are having problems with the Dell desktop that I use for Skype; we're having difficulties connecting to Google+ hangouts, which is a real pain as I wanted to use this feature to allow folks to 'attend' some of the games I'm planning on running.

More news, as I get it...

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Weekly Update For Sunday, May 31st, 2015 - In A Holding Pattern

Hlyss. Did I mention how much I hate Hlyss?

This is going to be a very short update, today; I am in a holding pattern, awaiting the release of a bunch of projects that I am involved with. I also didn't get a lot of sleep today, which is not optimal. I'll try to have more for everyone tomorrow, but right now I'm going to have to be brief and sign off...

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memories On A Memorial Day - 2015

The Long-term Guest

It's a soggy Memorial Day, here at The Workbench; no grilling out back for us, today. I am enjoying the holiday, though; lots of sleep and staying off my afflicted foot. As I mentioned briefly, in yesterday's post, there are a lot of things happening around here...

One of the things that's going on, and one that means a lot to me personally, is that a long-term guest here at The Workbench is finally going home. You can see what this little guy looks like; he's about two and half inches tall, made of soft plastic, and has a pretty basic paint job. Doesn't look like much, does he?

But yet, he's one of the very coolest artifacts that have been living in my basement for all these years. He's been lurking in the miniatures boxes, and I found him earlier this spring when I did the Annual Inventory of all the miniatures collection. He's unique; I have nothing else like him in all my collection.

"So," I can hear you ask, "what's the big deal, here?"

He's one of Dave Arneson's very first 'miniatures' for his Blackmoor games.

Back a number of years ago, the November before Dave passed away, I had found three more of these little toy creatures that had gotten mixed in with my miniatures when Adventure Games closed. As Dave was appearing at The Source's 'D & D Day' event, I was able to get back to him the Pteridactyl, the 'Blink Monster', and the now famous 'Rust Monster'. I don't know what happened to them, after Dave passed away, like the wonderful carved wooden AGI logo plaque, nobody seems to know what happened to them.

Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I'll be taking a trip out to see Malia, Dave's daughter, to get this little guy back home. He was never 'mine'; he was always Dave's, as I think of these things, and now he's hers.


Now, I have been told that this little fellow is A Really Valuable Collectable Object From the Early Days Of D&D, and worth heaps and heaps of money. That may very well be true. And it's not my problem, if I may be rude; if you think there's money in this, please talk to the owner; I've just been the innkeeper, for a while. I am not a 'collector'; my collections are working ones, and are to be used in games - that's what they were designed to be and to do.

A little while after I got back home from Gary Con, I was told that there was a rumor out on the Intenet that I had sold my original figure of Captain Harchar (Dave's player character in Prof. Barker's games) to Jon Peterson (author of "Playing At The World") for the princely sum of $1,000 at the convention.

Ah, no; Harchar and the rest of his miniature crew of sea-going rascals are not for sale. The guy who was telling me all this had gotten his facts mixed up, and was incorrect in his assumptions. I will freely admit that I was, and still am, very upset over this kind of thing. I keep my collections for the future, and not for their supposed value; I keep them for their fun in our games, and for their memories of all the fun people I've had the wonderfully good fortune to meet and game with over all these years.

This particular little guy has a lot of memories for me, but even more for Dave's family; that's why I'm taking him home...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Weekly Update For Sunday, May 24th, 2015 - Not Dead Yet! I'm Feeling Better! WHACK!

Why, yes, the lawyers are involved...

I'm going to try very hard to say nice things, this evening. It has, to be frank, a pretty crummy couple of weeks here at The Workbench with not a lot of useful game-related stuff getting done. Let's get the health news out of the way first, and move on to happier things...

I have 'the gout'. Which annoys me greatly, as this is a medical problem that I associate with portly English squires consuming vast quantities of Ye Olde Roast Beef and Ye Olde Ale in Ye Olde Pub whilst ogling Ye Buxom Serving Wench. To my vast annoyance, I'm getting the pain and not getting the fun; The Missus has very firmly vetoed my idea of getting her one of those low-cut blouses for her, as seen in all good pirate movies. She did note that we do have a nice collection of pewter mugs, and she's allowing me to have my doses of water and juice in them.

(It's just not the same. Not the same at all. Ye Olde Sigh.)

So, anyway, we managed to treat the pain in the right foot with lots of water and keeping off the foot. This worked fine, but now the left foot is giving trouble again and is all swollen up. At least nothing has turned black and fallen off. Yet.

Since I rally can't take pain killers due to the medications I'm on to control my blood pressure, we've changed my diet and really pushed fluids to help the gout; the downside to this is that I am supposed to be on a limited ration of fluids in order to control the blood pressure, so we've been doing a pretty tight balancing act to keep me going. The cold didn't help, not at all. That seems to be on the downside at the moment - having the holiday to recover has really helped.

So, the good news is that I'm on the mend. I'm just tired of being sick, especially right now when I have a whole lot I want to be doing...

Moving on, there is a whole lot of really wonderful and really cool stuff going on in my life at the moment. I can't talk a lot about most of it, at least until some folks make some announcements, but Let me just say that I have some really, really neat stuff in the pipeline. Much more on this, as soon as I can comment...

The Ral Partha Kickstarter has funded very nicely, and you can see how well it went over on the website; links in previous posts.

My friend Dave Wesely, inventor of the 'Braunstein' game and play style, had to have words with a couple of people who have been selling a game that supposedly allows one to play this kind of game. From the description that had been up on RPGNow, it was nothing of the kind. The authors had not contacted Dave at all, and he had to have words with them. I e-mailed him about this, and he tells me that he's got the situation in hand.

The Missus, in addition to being a modern Florence Nightengale, has solved my problem with the hex maps for the miniatures campaign. Being the smart one in the family, she simply took the digital image she had of one of the existing hexes and 'erased' the terrain; she then printed me up a big pile of 'blank' hexes with the small hex grid, and I will now finish the big map for the campaign - I have tomorrow off, for the holiday, so i can get all this stuff for the campaign done. Finally!!!

So, lots of good news, and we're getting up and out of the recent slump. Onward!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Weekly Update For Sunday, May 17th, 2015 - No Update For Now, As I am Ill...

I am very sorry to have to say that there will be no update this morning. I am suffering from both a fresh attack of gout, this time in my right foot, and a nasty head cold; I hope to have something later today, but I need to get to bed.

In the meantime, keep in mind that we're in the last couple of days of the Ral Partha Kickstarter; have look, if you would, and I'll be back later on.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Partha, Photos, and Passion!

 Well, I did promise you photos:

Sample weapons pack - lighting turned up for detail
Weapons - US penny for size comparison

The sample elves - a 1978 casting on the right for comparison
The elves - this is the raw metal.
Very crisp, and very clean!

Orcs, goblins, imps, and others
I love the detail on these!
These do look the business, I think!

(These photos are all shot with my Sony Mavica, which I had set to the 'Macro' focus. No flash, just the photo tent. I need to get out a tripod and a different lighting rig for extreme closeups, and I'll try to get that done this weekend.)

Well, we're in the last days of the Ral Partha Kickstarter:

And I will say that I am pretty excited by the whole thing. The Missus is working out what level she wants to support the thing at - I leave all these decisions to her - and I am sure that I'll be very happy when the package shows up on the doorstep.

These figures are really good; the alloy is a modern one, not the soft high-lead one of the 1970s, but it really pops up the detail on these sculpts. I didn't give any of these figures a black wash to bring up the detail - this is the raw metal, right out of the box. I also left the mold vents on, so you can see what you'll be getting. I am very, very happy with these figures - they are very clean and very crisp, and these classic sculpts stand up very well against more modern miniatures. (Keep in mind that these sculpts are thirty to forty years old; my girls are are only half that age, the bulk of them.) I'd think that they'll look very good on the table!

And the folks at Iron Wind do listen to you - they changed the Kickstarter so that you can get all the same figure in your units, if you want your miniatures that way. You can get entire units of the same SKU, for that very 'vintage' and very 'classic' look to your game table if that's something you'd like; you can also get assortments of figures, as per the Kickstarter, so you can have your personalities on the table for RPGs. That's what we did at Phil's, in our games; I'd get packs of figures to get a particular one for a specific purpose, and then I'd hold the rest for future use. I'd bring them to the game sessions when we had a new player, and they'd select what they liked for their figure. I'd get to work with the paint brush, and we'd be off on another adventure.

(That's what Dave Arneson did for his rascally crew of "honest seafaring merchants", by the way; his officers, the Mates 'Staffswinger', 'Swordswinger', and 'Fishface' - as well as the Purser, 'Hardtack' - were all selected by Dave from the 'pool' of unpainted miniatures, and the First and Second Mates got their names from the weapons they were carrying. I still have them, too, and hold on to my money pouch when I put them on the table - no disrespect intended, just sayin'...)

I would also like to credit someone who I don't know. The "Sea Elf With Pike" on the far right of the elven line-up is not a figure I painted; I found this miniature at a booth at Gary Con, an as I wanted a little keepsake from the convention I bought him for my Yan Koryani forces - the Gurek of N'gaku, where his cousins have been soldiering on for Baron Ald for almost forty years: the Ral Partha "Sea Elf Advancing With Pike", as well as the standing figure. I have both the original release with a plain helm, and the later release with a feather on the front of the helm. This figure will get a base to match his fellow troopers, but I'll keep the paint job as a reminder of a really great weekend.

So, please do have a look at the Ral Partha web page and the Kickstarter, and take a trip back in time to us when we played in Phil's basement; Phil loved miniatures, and I think he'd be all over this Kickstarter!


Friday, May 15, 2015

Other Voices, Other Lives

We didn't care, back then...
We didn't care more recently, either...
This is not the post I planned on making today; I'll be back later with some photos of the new Ral Partha figures for you.

No, this post is about a trend that I've been watching on the Internet in various gaming circles. back in my salad days, we called it "political correctness". This is in reaction to an e-mail that one of my regular readers got; you can see it at; there's a link over in the left-hand column, too.

Back in my day, and frankly to this day, I didn't care what people were; I cared about them wanting to play, and to have fun. I made sure that I provided a friendly place for them to come and play and dream, and I didn't worry about being 'politically correct' in the process. I worried about making sure that my friends had a fun time, as guests in my home.

Have a look at the photos, if you wouldn't mind. These were taken about thirty years apart. Can you tell me who the gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and straight people are? Well, neither can I; I never really asked, as it just didn't seem to be any of my business. Heck, I had to stop and think and remember that Mr. Lander is A Person Of Color; I will always think of him as the courtly and dignified gentleman who played so well and for so long.

I have o problem with people who want to highlight 'alternate views'; if you look down the list in the left-hand column of People I Think Are Worth Listening To, you'll see a lot of folks who have very different viewpoints and outlooks then I do. This is deliberate - one of my goals with this little confection of a blog is to bring to you what I consider important and worth saying. Have a look at what they are posting about, and you'll get a feel for my mindset and the world that I inhabit. Please, just don't jump to conclusions when you label me as a 'straight white male'; I'm a little more complex then that, I think.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Weekly Update For Sunday, May 10th, 2015 - The Ground For The Boots To Be On...

The campaign map, in copies to save the originals

The new hexes, in non-repro blue pencil

The campaign map again, with the new hexes being added

"Those pesky players! Always fighting at the edge of the map!"

Lots and lots of very exciting things going on in my life at the moment, so this will be a kinda short update today. I am in the final throes of getting the basic campaign information done and ready to go out to everyone; I've had to do a lot of writing, and that always takes time due to my dyslexia. (I'm also ambidextrous; it does make things a little more complicated.) I've been reminded of one of Phil's pet peeves, this week; he was always a little put out that the players, those pesky kids, had a habit of always fighting at the edges of the map.

In getting ready for this campaign, I had originally thought of cutting up one of my sets of the Northwest Frontier map set, but The Missus pointed out that as she'd digitized the the maps why not cut up a set of copies - after all, she reasoned, we have a perfectly good printer. So, a lot of rubber cement and snipping later, we now have a large map on which to march around and explore; I mounted it to one of my spare cork boards, because I like to use map flags - I freely admit to being quite old-fashioned, and set in my ways. I also use clear acrylic sheet and grease pencils, just like you see in the movies, and one of these days I'll dig out the big sheet of steel so I can use my sets of magnetic counters.

However, all is not analog; The Missus noticed that we have a little problem, in that the western edge of the map set come just where you'd expect the players to be trying something. I was standing in the game room regarding the vast expanses of blank white paper that I had under the map set, when The Missus remarked that while I should lay out the rough hex grid to the west to get the campaign started, she could very easily take one of her digital images of the maps and remove everything except the hex grid itself; I could then use these matching blank hexes to record the discoveries and misadventures of the players, and keep track of the campaign both on the computer and on the map board.

"Well," says I, "if you insist, dear..."

So, I've inked in the rough hexes, and I'll be noting any interesting features. I am working from the original EPT maps, as these are what the artist who did the Northwest Frontier maps had to hand, with additional items from the later S&G maps as needed. As the players move into an area, I'll use Phil's 'hex generator' from the unpublished S&G III to find out what they are marching through. The information will get noted down on the hex grid, and kept for future reference.

I should note that we really don't know what's off the west of the NW Frontier maps; most of our adventures, back in the day, were off to the west of the Atkolel Heights, out on the edge of the desert, and farther south near Craig's old fief of Tu'umnra. Phil also really didn't leave much in the way of notes, either; there's a little information in S&G I, and in "Deeds", but really about all we have is the two sets of continental maps.

And a lot of boot leather; Phil used to leave large area of the maps 'blank', until he could get us to have a look in them. "Here Be Dragons", the sign posts used to say...

I'd also like to note that I am really enjoying doing all of this - it's like the old days at Coffman Union, all over again... :)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Weekly Update For May 3rd, 2015 - Lurching Unsteadily Forward

The invaluable reference. Get it.

I am back on my foot, sort of, and lurching forward - and around the house. I still can't get a shoe on the left foot, but the orthopedic boot does allow me to get things done. Slowly, but at least I'm not on pain-killers and can think without having to stop and consider what I'm thinking about.

The good news is that this week will see the first notes going out to everyone who asked about the play-by-email campaign, and we'll get the thing started next week. I'm sorry for the delay -  wanted to be into the game by now - but unpacking from Gary Con has taken a lot longer then I anticipated, and losing the use of a foot for the better part of two weeks just hasn't helped.

The most-asked question about the campaign I'm getting from just about all the players is "Do I need to have any experience with miniatures to play?" The immediate answer is a resounding "No!"; all you need is what they used to call 'pluck' and a good dose of enthusiasm. Keep in mind that back in the day, we had no idea what we were doing, or how we were supposed to do it. We also had no idea that there was any difference between what's referred to these days as 'role playing games' and 'miniatures games / wargames". For us, these genres lay on a spectrum of play that went from individual adventures to large mass actions; we used little lead people, coins, dice, and cardboard game counters to represent what we were doing on the table. Jon Peterson quotes Dave Arneson: "We made stuff up, and we had fun!" That's what this campaign will be - my telling stories to you, and you reacting and adding to the narrative with your actions.

One thing we did do, back in the day, was read as much as we could about what we were doing. The single best reference book we had was "The Defence Of Duffer's Drift", by E. D. Swinton. (I still have my copy, and I still read it.) My advice to people is that, instead of worrying about rules on movement rates and arcs of fire, get a copy of this book and settle down for a pleasant afternoon of reading.

The book is still available, and even available for free. Check the Web, of course, but here are two URLs for you:

Take a moment, and look at that second URL, if you would. "benning" is Fort Benning, Georgia, the home of the U. S. Army's Infantry Branch. (The Armor School is there too, having been moved from Ft. Knox; somebody thought that it might be a good idea for the treadheads and footsloggers to get to know each other.) This little book is still in use today, over a century after it was first published as a magazine article, to teach new officers their trade.

Yes, this book was written after the Boer War in South Africa; substitute 'crossbows' for 'rifles', if you wouldn't mind, and 'ballista' for 'gun'. I think you'll find you can get a lot of very useful information on what to expect from my campaign in this book, and you'll find it well worth your reading time.

I know I did.