Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Weekly Update - Sunday, January 31st, 2016 - Music Hall / Variety Meets Tekumel On The Game Table

The 'vertical extender'; I like running three-dimesional games.
(I was shooting some photos for the book...)

IKEA 'Ledberg' cabinet lights, in place and on.
But why the colors? Read on, and find out.

The Underworld tiles in place; no 'set dressing' yet.
I have a huge collection of stuff for this... :)

The tiles are 1/4" MDF, painted;
I am debating inking a stonework pattern onto them.

It's been a nice quiet week, here at The Workbench, and things are moving along nicely. I happened to have the vertical extender up on the game table - it made shooting some photos a lot easier - and it came to me that I should mention the LED lighting that's been installed...

Originally, the solid deck on the extender - there's also a transparent Plexiglass one for doing underwater games - was equipped with IKEA halogen under-shelf / cabinet lighting. I really like the lights, but they run pretty hot and I occasionally got little burns from brushing up against them while running games. I have several of the IKEA 'DIODER' light sets, which we used to great effect at Phil's memorial as the glowing backdrop to his Temple of Vimuhla model, and while they are very nice sets - they change colors, both manually and automatically, and look pretty darn cool - there are a lot of wires to have to deal with. I wanted something simple that worked reliably, and the IKEA 'LEDBERG' sets were just the thing. They come in red, blue, and white, which was just what I was looking for.

Huh? All three colors?

Why, yes, actually. I've done a lot of lighting work for both theater and video production, so I keep an eye out for new equipment and techniques. Which leads me to Jon Pertwee...

(Yes; that Jon Pertwee.)

The Missus, you see, is a Doctor Who fan from way back; she was a good friend of Anthony Ainley, and knew quite a few of the cast and crew from various conventions where she'd shoot rolls of film and give the photos to them for their use. She got me into doing some of these shows, and I was finishing the lighting set-up for one of them when I got a poke in the ribs: "You're a video guy, aren't you?" It was Jon Pertwee, and he was hugely amused at my lighting choices. We had a lovely time, talking about theater and cabaret work - most of which was right over the heads of the fans listening in - and about lighting.

In American lighting practice, especially in video work, the usual 'fall back' / 'default' is to use a color called 'bastard amber' in the lights to bring out the tones and highlights in people's faces; really intense colors are used for specific lighting needs and cues. It's really popular for video work, as it's usually a pretty safe way to light the set and the talent for the cameras. Jon told me about British practice in cabaret and theaters that host various acts in the course of a night; as there's no time to change the lighting rig between acts, one 'stock set' has to serve for all of them. Normally, this is done with fixtures that have several lamps - for redundancy's sake - and several fixtures all in line; each fixture gets one of: reds, blues, or clear for white filters. The performer gets 'lights up, lights down', and a nice wash that looks good on stage. Highlights and cues are normally done with follow spots, as these are manned lights and very flexible.

So, when I went to design the lighting for the table, I went with Jon's advice and lit the playing area with the British method. I think it looks really quite good - I like the lighting level, in terms of brightness, and the visually reddish-blue 'twilight effect' that this lighting gives. Certainly much nicer then the halogens, which I thought were a little too harsh in their effect - not all 'underworld'-like!

What do you think?

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Weekly Update - Monday, January 25, 2016 - My Secret Plans For World Domination

We got some snappy dressers, 'round here.

The past week has been filled with domestic matters, with family and The Missus' health, as well as her dad's knee replacements, dominating affairs here at the little house. Everyone is doing well, I am happy to be able to report, but it did take a lot of time to deal with it all. I also worked a shift this past weekend - the overtime pays for my quarterly medication resupply - and I'll have some more over time this week. Nothing too hot or heavy, though.

It was also a very busy week for me personally, as I gear up for what will become a second job, i. e., my writing. I'm finding that I am rolling more and more quickly on "To Serve The Petal Throne", and I have been reorganizing and remodeling to make this all a lot more efficient. My 'home office' has been the primary focus of this process, with it now being my primary working area. The Workbench itself is still there, of course, and I'm resorting to it regularly for both building and painting - it's a hobby, not a job.

With the removal of the 'mission objective' to support displays and programming at conventions like Gary Con and Con of the North, there's also a lot more room / space available for us to use as we need here; we've been living in what amounts to a warehouse of other people's dreams, and that's now ending. It's meant hauling a lot of now-redundant stuff out to the trash and recycle bins, but then (on the other hand) a lot of this stuff has been sitting waiting for people to make up their minds; in some cases, for over a decade. I've made a lot of calls and sent quite a few e-mails, and no response is no response;  I'm salvaging what I can, to use in my projects, but a lot of this stuff is redundant.

This also applies to my time, as well. I can now take a lot more time and energy and out them o what I think is good use, getting things done here and not having to worry about other people's issues. Over the decades, there have been some people who have made a career out of projecting their own fears, insecurities, hopes, dreams, and wishful thinking onto me. It's always struck me as kind of odd that when I say - as I have for decades - that all I ever wanted to do with Tekumel was be Phil's archivist and make cool little models that I have gotten the reaction "No! No! Tell me what you are really up to!!! What's your Secret Plan for world domination???"

Nope, sorry; haven't got one. I meant what I said, over all these years, and that's what I'm finally able to to; if you need to dream that I am out to get you, and you need to pump my friends when you see them for information, you might want to think about what one of them said a while back: "You could just read his blog; he's been pretty up-front about it."

Now, if you have questions about how we gamed back in the day, or something about model building, then please feel free to ask; I'm always willing to help. I can manage this, and still keep my blood pressure down and have fun. I'm not much interested in anything a lot more taxing then this, due to my health, though.

So, I'm here. And the book is rapidly getting written, too!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Weekly Update - 1/20/16 - My, We've Been Busy!

Someody's country house?

Well, here it is the middle of the week, already, and I'm late with the news. So, without further ado...

First off, I am pleased to report that I am a grandfather again; Eldest Daughter has been delivered of little Naomi, my first granddaughter. Both are doing just fine, and I will have photos when they become available.

Secondly, I have just had my annual physical and exam, and my doctor is please to announce that my health is actually very good; my blood pressure, that all-important critical factor, is down to - wait for it!

108 over 65

This is, for readers of this blog, pretty big news; I used to be normally at 150 over 90, in 'cruise mode', and being down this low indicates that I am likely to be around for a while longer. The medical authorities believe that my largely disengaging from the gaming world and the absurd levels of stress therein are what's behind this, as well as the pile of pills that I take every twelve hours.

I have to admit, I like the quiet of the 'new regime'. I have a lot more time to write - the book is up to over 122,000 words across the six volumes, and I'm currently in Book Four working on the 'Affair of the Malchairan Emerald' in which Phil threw a pretty wild adventure and (as usual) nearly got us all killed.

I'm also getting back to some nice modeling projects that have taken a very back seat to the usual 'OMIGODWETMYPANTSEMERGENCY!!!" sort of thing that I've been having to deal with for people for years - the big Sakbe road set will get done this spring, for example - and I'm finally having the time for old friends and new ones.

It's quiet. I like quiet.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

1/10/16 - Not A Weekly Update

All, right, then; bring on the Milumanayani...

There is no post for today, as I am working the football game - Vikings vs. Seahawks, I'm told, in what's supposed to be the last NFL game I have to work. It's a whole -4F outside, and I am taking precautions...

More later!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Weekly Update For Sunday, January 6th, 2016 - A Milestone Reached And Passed

Yep; It's Himself.
 Forty years old, and still on active service for the Imperium.
Some things do never change, do they?

The new regime seems to suit me. I am happy to be able to report that I have passed a milestone of of sorts in "To Serve The Petal Throne", the account of our adventures in the original Thursday Night Group out at Professor Barkers. I have added some more to Books Five and Six, bringing the total word count to - fanfare, please - 120,574 words across the six volumes in the set.

I'm going to take a break from Five and Six for a while, and spend some time in Four; I've got the hankering to write up The Affair of the Malchairan Emerald, which we played out in between the Northeast Frontier campaign and the Hekellu - Sirum campaign. This adventure was the closest phil ever came to a 'module' in his campaign, and it sets the stage for the Kolumeljalim to come as well as some of the reasons behind the recent civil war in Tsolyanu.

You'll get to meet some new faces in amongst the old ones, and follow Our Heroes through the tubeway car system on a very long and interesting trip.

(The FAQ page has also been updated.)


It's that time of the year when I do the miniatures inventory, and I have been at work in the game room getting everybody sorted into the right boxes and trays. Things do get a little disorganized during the clean-up after game sessions, and I wanted to take a little time to get everything put back into the right boxes before I start the count.

This time around, unlike past years, I will be photographing the contents of all the storage trays, just as I did for Phil's own Tekumel miniatures collection. We're at the stage where I really need to do this; the last photo inventory is now over five years old.


Not much else to report, so i'll sign off for now. Here's hoping that your holiday has been a happy one!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Ending 2015, Beginning 2016 - Observations and Changes

The old Dell, about to be replaced with the new Mac laptop.

It's the very bottom of the old year, and the very top of the new. I do have some news as to where I'm going this year, and I thought that sharing it with you all might not be a bad idea. I have been very quiet, this past year, as a lot of real-life stuff  has taken me away from gaming and blogging.

My department at my work is being very reorganized, with a lot of changes in both people and schedules. The process is continuing, but there's light at the end of the tunnel.

The Missus is still cancer-free, for which we are grateful; she'd like to thank all of you for your very kind thoughts and wishes over this past year.

As I reported earlier this year, I was asked by Luke Gygax to come down to Lake Geneva to run a room full of Tekumel-based programming for Gary Con, to be held at the beginning of March this year. I submitted a proposal for this to Luke, and he accepted it. I formed a working group of Tekumel fans to help me put this together, and got a great response from Tekumel fans from all over the United States. I really appreciated this, as while I'm very good at running miniatures games and Braunsteins, I think I'm more then a little weak on the RPG side of the house.

(Some players may feel differently; thank you for your compliments!)

Luke's concept for the room, which I thought was a really great idea, was to continue his dad's high regard for Tekumel by providing a space where Tekumel's fans could run games and present programming to introduce and explain Phil's creation to all kinds of gamers, old and new. This would build on what I did at Gary Con this past year, and take advantage of the much larger hotel space that Gary Con was moving into for this year's convention. My brief was to provide four full days of programming, on four tables, and to have something running at all times. I put together two RPG tables, one miniatures table, one 'multi-use' table that could be used for board games and RPGs, and an 'events screen' to show videos about Prof. Barker and his world. (I was also asked, by Paul Stormberg of 'Collectors' Trove, to provide a display in the "Legends of Wargaming"area about Dave Sutherland.) As I posted earlier this past year here on this blog, this is the draft schedule that the working group of fans came up with, as shown on my magnetic display boards:

Each table has a different color;
each GM or event has a different color and symbol as well.

The daily 'black bar' bar is the video display,
with the various video programs indicated below it.
One of the cornerstones of Luke's planning for this event was asking me to contact the Tekumel Foundation and extend his specific invitation to be a part of this event; Luke thought that this invitation would be good for the event, and get the Foundation some good exposure for Tekumel and for their efforts. I duly contacted the Tekumel Foundation with this invitation, and got an e-mail back saying that they would get back to me.

I had had issues with using an LCD projector at Gary Con this past year, due to the lighting conditions, and so for this event I wanted to have active displays that would not suffer from ambient lighting issues. The Missus, Queen of the Internet, found me some very good bargains, and I allocated the various screens to the different areas: the 42" screen that had the most power (in lumens) would show the Dave Sutherland PowerPoint display throughout the convention in the "Legends of Wargaming" area; the 40" LCD screen would provide the display for the various videos in the room; and the 32" screen would be used as needed for the 'multi-use' table. I also got all of the 'convention trade show booth' equipment and decor items that I'd built up over the years all sorted out and prepped for the event.

I also contacted several companies that had had historical connections with Tekumel, and invited them to participate in the events in the Tekumel room; I got a tremendous response from all of them, with offers of events and assistance. I made sure to keep Gary Con informed of what I was doing, to make sure that I was not exceeding what Luke had asked me to do.

All of this was moving along very nicely when I got a phone call from Gary Con, stating that Dr. Victor Raymond, the President of the Tekumel Foundation, was raising very serious objections to this event. As I understood it, Dr. Raymond was stating that only the Tekumel Foundation had the legal right to run events such as this one at conventions, and that if the event was to take place he and only he was to be the sole coordinator for the event. I took this information back to the working group, and everyone emphatically stated that if this was to be the case, then they would not participate in the event and would not be attending Gary Con. I thus lost all of the event and logistical support that was needed to make this event happen.

Over the next few months, Luke Gygax attempted to negotiate some sort of compromise with Dr. Raymond, and I attempted to see what was 'the art of the possible' in the working group. Lawyers got involved, and I had to spend a lot more time on this matter then I had expected to - and the expenses for running the event were also increasing dramatically, with all the requirements and conditions being placed on Gary Con by the Tekumel Foundation.

(What I did not know about at the time was the ongoing legal disputes between various members of the Gygax family, and how this affected the situation. I hope that these matters get resolved, and soon; I would not like to say any more about this, out of respect to the people involved and to Gary himself.)

After we'd all put so much time and effort into this event, I finally had to draw the line and cut our losses; I won't be going to Gary Con this year, and neither will quite a number of the people in the working group. I'm in the process of scrapping and disposing of a lot of materials that we'd bought for this event; The Missus got the 32" for the living room, I got the 40" for the game room, and we're donating the 42" to someone as we don't have a use for it. Most of the 'trade show' stuff will get sold as well, as I don't have a use for it here at the house.

Now, I think there are some positive aspects to this affair; Gary Con gets a room back for their programming, the Tekumel Foundation gets total and absolute control of their 'brand identity' (as Dr. Raymond puts it), and I get my all of my disposable vacation time (two weeks) and disposable income (about $2,500) for 2016 back. I also don't have to maintain and store all of the resources and assets that I had been holding for this event, which will clear out both the garage and the basement of a lot of stuff.

(Some Tekumel fans, such as the ones who so enjoyed my game and talks last March might be disappointed, but I can't control that - sorry.)

So, for this coming year, I will be concentrating on my writing, and my model work. It's what I enjoy, and I am looking forward to some 'quality' time. I am looking forward to getting my play-by-(e)mail miniatures campaign up and running, as this was swept aside in the fracas. And I can always be e-mailed, of course...