Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Weekly Update For Sunday, January 25, 2015 - Lord Vimuhla Is on The Side Of The Big Battalions (3) - Sportsmanship

A 'long table' (120" x 30") game set-up 

Things are still hectic here at the house; Middle Daughter (#4 in the set, collect them all - sure to increase in value! - pro-painted! - limited edition! - or something...) is staying with us for the weekend, so she gets some 'face time' before she goes back to her wonderful husband in Zurich - I like Zhodi a lot, and we share an interest in Chinese history.

However, we plod onward, down the Sakbe road of life...

We had a great organizational meeting yesterday for the Chakan campaign; I outlined the logistics and organization of the thing, and we had a great time discussing what we all want to accomplish. The guys in the group are all very excited at the chance to play in Ye Olden Style, and get a feel for what things were like back in the formative days of the hobby. Interestingly, they are also going to pass the word amongst their game-playing friends, and so we may see some new faces around the new game table, pushing some very old lead around.

One of the things that has the troops pretty excited is the opportunity for some of what used to be called 'sportsmanship'; as my 'home team' of players will be acting as the 'eyes and ears' of the 'remote' / 'virtual' players (as well as their hands and feet), they will have the chance to play a wide variety of roles as the campaign develops: one game session, they may be playing the 'wild' Pe Choi of the deep Chakan forests, the next the soldiers of one or another of the Five Empires or their allies.

This goes back to the days we were playing at the Conflict Simulation Association meetings at Coffman Union at the University of Minnesota; somebody would announce that they were running a game, and we'd either sign up for it in advance or choose sides on the day. More then once, if nobody had a preference as to what they wanted to play, we'd simply roll dice for it, and 'play it as it lies'.

(Which also led to the house rule about non-game stuff on the game table; generally, you were asked once by the person running the game to please take your soda can off the scenery, and if you didn't it became a part of the game - hence the battle cry, "Play the Coke can!" - and I do have to say that after a couple of fights where the tanks blew up the Coke can [see also the wonderful game, "Panzer Pranks", by Lortz and Lortz] and the Americans had to roll a morale check - the issue of crap on the table dropped off to nothing.)

Back in those more innocent days, we were all about playing the game and having fun. Those of us who liked building things worked very hard to amuse and astound our fellow players - don't get me started on my 1/700 Japanese seaplane models for our naval games - and we viewed their impeding doom on the game table with more then a little amusement. For us, this wasn't 'serious gaming'; I don't think the concept had been discovered hereabouts yet, back then.

So, there will be a lot of this in the forthcoming campaign - today's valiant foe may be tomorrow's stalwart ally. Carry yourselves bravely, and we'll all have some fun!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Weekly Update for Sunday, January 18th, 2014 - Lord Vimuhla Is On The Side Of The Big Battalions (2)

When you go down to the woods today...

We're finally getting back to normal, hereabouts; I took the youngest of my collection of daughters off to the airport this afternoon so she could get back home to Zurich, and we managed to get a bunch of stuff for the upcoming memorial event finished in good time. I can get back to being more productive, as we're out of the sleep disruptions and back to my normal nocturnal schedule.

I am also well along with preparations for Gary Con; the big roll inkjet roll printer is coming on line, and I can print anything up to 17 inches wide by 20 feet long. Normally, I'll be doing 11" x 17" or 17" x 24", but that's still some pretty big maps and plans for gaming; Chirine's retirement villa does come to mind...

I'm also gearing up for the Chakan campaign; I used to be on a one-week 'build cycle' when we were gaming out at Phil's, and a two-week cycle for the game sessions here at the house we've been having for over a decade. I'm a lot more productive when I'm on a set schedule, and I'm really looking forward to getting back into that groove.

I'm also sending out the second installment of the introduction to the campaign, and if you'll allow me I'd like to outline what this campaign is and is not...

This is a classic 'play by mail' campaign, as was played by guys like Dave Arneson, Gary Gygax, Dave Wesely, Dave Megarry, and a host of others back in the 1970s. I have updated some of the technology, like using e-mail and the video conference features of Google+ and Skype, but it's the same style of games we played here in the Twin Cities back then. It's also the same kind of gaming that Prof. Barker used in his Tekumel campaign for some twenty years, but with some of the players being at his house on a weekly basis. This is, for all intents and purposes, an extension of Prof. Barker's 'meta-game', that he played with us and with others; game groups would send him their reports from their games, and he would include these in his games with us as rumors and events for us to interact with.

(See also the infamous "Lord Gamalu's 'secret mission' to the Southern Continent", which everybody in the Five Empires knew about. We got shipwrecked. It was a long swim home.)

The 'backbone of this campaign is Tony Bath's invaluable "Setting Up A Wargames Campaign", which is still in print and available; however, you will not need to purchase a copy! Prof. Barker used this for his on-going ‘meta-game’ that’s served for decades as the background for our adventures; before he published “Empire of the Petal Throne” in 1975, he generated some 1,500 people on 3x5 index cards, and used Tony Bath’s rules to run their careers. He would move their individual cards around in his card file boxes to show promotions, transfers, and other career moves, and we would meet these people as we moved around the Five Empires and explored his world.

Now, I want to be clear at the outset that you do not need to know anything about Tekumel; you don’t need to be a seasoned miniatures player, and you don’t need to be on either Google+ or Skype. All you need to have is a lively sense of adventure, and the willingness to send me e-mail once a week – more, if you want, and you have the inclination. I will process everyone’s e-mails on Fridays, and send out notices the same day; I used to do this in an ‘analog’ format, back in the day, and computers have made this work so much easier!!!

You will be playing an officer in command of some troops; as I like the ‘Braunstein’ game format, you will have your own objectives and missions. Your actions and orders will affect the other players, and I’m hoping that lots of games will result. Note that I am not saying ‘wargames’ or miniatures battles – those will happen, of course, but I am deliberately trying to emulate the style and flow of the games we played ‘back in the day; we didn’t draw much of a distinction between what people thinks of as ‘role-playing’ and ‘wargaming’, back then. We viewed it all as a spectrum of gaming that ranged from ‘small party of adventurers’ to ‘large battle-groups’; we played our games usually within the framework of a campaign run by a neutral party, and we had a whole lot of fun doing it.

I will be sending you a list of the various ‘positions open’, and you can pick what you’d like to play. I will then provide you with what missions, options, resources, and forces you have available, and then we’ll go from there. I will, as the campaign progresses, be sending you photos of what you see ‘on the ground’, and the reports you get from your own and other ‘sides’. This is, in effect, the classic D&D ‘domain game’, but writ large and set in Prof. Barker’s Tekumel.

As I mentioned, you do not need to know anything to start with; if there’s something that you should know, it’s my job to tell you. Likewise, I live on a 24-hour schedule; if you live on the other side of the globe, then I can deal with that. I have a classic Mastercrafters ‘World Clock’ on my desk, so that I can keep track of where you live and what your waking hours are. I will do my best to schedule games ‘on the table’ to work with your schedule, but you do not need to actually be ‘present’ to play; the gamers in my home group will be your assistants, comrades, and ‘hands’ – they’ll be happy to help you play, even if you are not going to be at the game itself.

Games will usually be fought out on my game table here at the house; it’s a lot easier for me, as all I have to do is set the terrain and get started. Really large games, should they occur, can be fought out at local game shops with the spare space – we’ve used both The Source and Fantasy Flight Games Event Center with great success. I’ll be providing the troops and the terrain – I work better when I have to get things done for games, so this will whittle down the piles of unpainted lead!

So, there we are – a short introduction. I’ll have more for you shortly, and I’ll also be posting all of this here on this blog. Please feel free to ask me any questions, too!!!

Lots more to come - it's good to be back at the keyboard!!!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Weekly Update For Sunday, January 11th, 2015 - Some Major Milestones Achieved!!!

The past week has been very, very busy, and I have some very big news to report:

First off, I want to thank all of you who e-mailed about the upcoming campaign! I will have the initial campaign information done for all of you this week, and you should see it in your e-mail 'in boxes' by Friday. I will also be repeating the information here, with wit a new tag - 'campaign' - to make it as easy as possible to keep everyone informed.

Secondly, I am very pleased to be able to say that all three of the current set of adopted daughters are here for a visit; they gathered for their grandpa's memorial, to be held February 5th, and will be stayig with us for a bit. Quite the gathering, and it's keeping us hopping!

Thirdly, The Missus and I are very happy to be able to announce that she's completed the digitizing of all of our and Prof. Barker's archives. The first thirty gigabytes are being uploaded to Amazon's Web Storage facility, and the second thirty will follow about the end of this month. It's been a huge project; we have some thirty years of our own collections, as well as some sixty years of Prof. Barker's files, and getting all of this material into a digital format and then onto several different storage media has been quite the job. The Missus was able to read all of the Professor's computer drives and his collection of floppy and zip discs - she really is good at this! - and added all of the materials that I've produced and collected over the years to the archived material.

This is just the first half of the effort; we still have the some 4,000 photographs we took to document everything over the years, including all of the photos we made as part of our inventory of Prof. Barker's collection. I also take lots of photos of our game sessions, and these will also be added to the on-line archives.

I cannot even begin to tell everyone just how pleased I am with all of this! Back in 1976, when I first started working for the Professor, my 'lifetime goal' was to be able to be his archivist and to document his amazing creation - and the creative process that went into the making of his world. I have finally done this, and I am very, very happy about it; I promised Phil, before he passed away some three years ago, that I would get this done for him, and we're finally looking at the completion of this project.

Fourthly, I am continuing to steam ahead on my book about gaming - and life! - with Phil and Ambereen, and I should have it all done by this spring.

Fifth and finally, I will be at gary Con in Lake Geneva at the end of March, 2015. I got the approval notifications on the events I'd submitted at the request of various people, and I'll be there talking about the Professor and Tekumel. I'll also run a game session, using the digital version of the Jakalla Underworld that The Missus has created - I can now project the actual maps onto the table, using my set of tiny LCD projectors! Here's the list of events:

Friday, 2:00 pm - Seminar; answers to your questions about Tekumel
Saturday, 10:00 am - same
Saturday, 2:00 pm - same
Saturday, 7:00 pm - Tekumel RPG session
Sunday, 12:00 noon - Seminar, again

For me, this will be a very easy schedule; I'll basically be propped up in a corner, like a storyteller in the matketplace, and simply sit there and talk about Tekumel. I'll be able to bring all of our digitized archives with me for everyone to look at - you will be able to see literally everything that Prof. Barker did for Tekumel, from his college notebooks onward. I will also bring the memorial slide show about Phil's life and adventures that The Missus dor for his memorial event in 2012, and we'll show that as well for folks.

For more information about Gary Con, heres their website:

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Weekly Update For Sunday, January 4th, 2015 - Lord Vimuhla Is On The Side Of The Big Battalions (1)

Battalions of the Seal of the Worm in back,
Fangs of Drakkel in the front.

It's the first post of the new year, and there's a bit of news to share...

I will be doing a Tekumel RPG at Gary Con, in March of this coming year; I got a request from a person on the Gary Con forum, and I have submitted an event request for the game to the convention organizers. I have also submitted the same for the seminars / talks / question and answer events as well, and I will keep you all posted on what's happening with these. We have also booked my hotel room, as well as my convention registration, and I'll be there to answer your questions and play in a few games as well!

I will be opening my forthcoming campaign in the begining of April, 2015; this will be set in Prof. Barker's "Invasion of the Chakas" story arc that he started in the early 1980s, and which will be centered around the western side of the Atkolel Heights. This will be a classic 'Twin Cities-style' campaign, as we played in the late 1970s and early 1980s; it is basically a 'Braunstein'-style game, with the mix of both RPG and miniatures elements we used at Coffman Union, The Little Tin Soldier Shoppe, and out at Prof. Barker's. A big part of the campaigns we fought, back in the Dawn of Time, was doing up the figures for the games; this campaign will, I think, will provide me with the motivation to get stuff built and painted - just like it did back in the day, when I had the weekly panic to get stuff ready for the next game session out at Phil's.

Players will be junior, middle, and high-level officers from a  number of countries; we have the Tsolyani, the Mu'uglavyani, and the Yan Koryani and their allies as 'sides', each with their own mix of troops and adventurers. (And the Ito, and the wild pe Choi, and... You get the idea.) We'll have individual parties, small units in small skirmishes, and larger units in larger battles. Players will send in their 'orders' / instructions via e-mail, and I will be able to run small parties of players via Skype and Google+ as needed. Players will also get reports from their troops and spies, accompanied by lovely full-color engravings of the scene and situation courtesy of the digital technology of the Ancients. Battles and skirmishes will be fought out on my game table on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, and these will be available to view on my You Tube channel; if there is interest, we can also put these up on Google+. (f you are not on Google+, we do have Skype.)

As an historical aside, many of the figures we'll be using are the ones we used out at Phil's, with the new figures from Howard Fielding and The Tekumel Project adding to the spectacle.

If you're interested, please feel free to contact me at: