Sunday, December 31, 2017

Death And Rebirth - The Weekly Update - Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Well, here we are at the end of one year and the beginning of another. I think, when it comes time to write the histories, that 2017 will be listed as The Year Everything Changed. I had some very good moments this past year, and some truly nasty ones. We have survived, and 2018 will be known as The Year Everything Was Reborn. There have been some pretty massive paradigm shifts around here, much like the one that happened when NewTek offered their revolutionary 'Video Toaster'; we're on the raw edge of a very similar revolution in the way we do things, and I think we'll be looking at a very different history in 365 days. With your indulgence, I'd like to run through the list of what's happening here at The Workbench:

'Remote gaming': We now have the technology in hand for multiple redundant telecommunications paths into the game room. I will be able to host multiple-player RPGs online, and run my campaign games the same way. Full duplex communications, with digtial recording and playback capability, and the ability to upload programming to the Internet for wider viewing.

'Campaign Gaming': I will no longer be doing 'one off' games here at the house. I will be running my campaign games instead, and these will generate the on-table activities. I am hoping to be able to run multiple campaigns, each set in the genres and world-settings I support; interested players will get the information that they can discover, and make their moves from there. Primary inputs will be by e-mail; output will be by Internet video teleconferences.

'Projects': I will be finishing my book, "To Serve The Petal Throne", this year, and players in the Tekumel campaign will be able to participate in the events in the book as it's my intention to illustrate the stories with photos of our vintage figures in game play. This will also lead to the completion of the second edition of my miniatures rules, which will also be profusely illustrated with photos, and which players in my campaigns will be able to play-test along with me.

'Miniatures': I will be 'combing out' the primary Tekumel collection of miniatures to remove any non-Tekumel figures added since 1988. These figures were originally purchased as 'stand-in' figures for items that were not available at the time or since, and have been made redundant by recent developments. In most cases, they will move over into the other genres and world-settings that I support; in a few cases, where they do not fit in with our current and future plans and objectives, they'll be removed from the collections, declared surplus to requirements, and disposed of. A similar process will be used in the scenic and terrain collections.

While this all sounds pretty drastic, we're simply recognizing the current realities of the game hobby. It is very difficult to get campaign-minded players here locally, so we're moving away from what we've had as a local emphasis to a much broader and wider one. People here in town generally have no idea who Dave and Gary were - let alone Phil! - and so we're moving our efforts into a universe where they are still remembered.

So, out with the Old Year, and in with the New! Happy Holiday, everyone! :)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Plastics? Metals? My Take - The Weekly Update - Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

My first plastics. OOP, I am pretty sure.

I'm hoping that everyone had a good holiday weekend; I had four days off, and I've spent them simply taking it easy, staying hydrated, and getting lots and lots of sleep. I have a slight head cold, but that's nothing to what I used to have to deal with.

Plastics or metals? There has been, I gather, some controversy over the relative merits of miniature figures made from both of these materials. Traditionally, it's been metal, as the overhead costs are very low, but the advent of computers and 3-mold milling has changed that. Costs are very different, and the economics of gaming very different as a result.

I've been doing metals since 1975, and got started in plastics almost by accident. Back in Ye Olden Days, the soft plastic 1/72 Airfix figures were all we had; keeping the paint on them was a no-win situation, and when I got my first Hinchcliffe metals I thought I was in heaven. Yes, you had to prime them, but after that the paint generally stayed on them. Metals have been a big part of my gaming life since then.

I originally got the Wargames Factory 'Amazons' as a gift, and didn't much like them. These were first-generation plastic 28mm figures, and I seriously wondered if the company had actually talked to any gamers before they designed the set. I managed to get them assembled, but used the weapons and shields provided as a source of spare parts - they just didn't look right to my eye with the stuff they had, and these figures really didn't come together for me until I gave them GW 'Tomb Kings' shields. After that, they looked a lot better, and I still use them in games today.

Fast forward to this past year, when I picked up the Victrix and Warlords figures I've written about. I really like these, right out of the box, and I think this is where plastics really shine - they provide somebody like me with the 'big battalions' that I like in my games, and at a very good price per figure. Let's face it - some 28s are now topping $10 a figure, and that's just too rich for my blood. So, plastics for the rank-and-file, and metals for the personalities and RPG figures (same thing, really) in my games.

One of the great things about the Victrix and Warlords figures, for me, anyway, is the ease of assembly and the 'spare parts' you have left over after you build 'em. I can always use spare heads, shields, weapons, and other stuff. It makes the rest of my model-building a whole lot easier, too.

And conversions! A lot easier, like with the old Wargames Factory 'Numidians', who can be used for anything. The older versions of the Warlord Roman sets had a couple of figures like this; two guys in scale armor, that I think were supposed to be used as a trumpeter and standard-bearer. I didn't use them that way - I used the guys in lorica, instead - but I think I'll take a cue from that epic film, "Cleopatra" (1963) and give them legionary helmets and drums, to replicate the drummers in the 'Attack on the Moon Gate' scene. As fas as I know, the Romans didn't use drummers, but Cine Cittia certainly did, so the conversion would help me get that proper epic look to my production.

Building the Moon Gate itself is another subject, for another post. I'll have to watch the finl and take notes. Lots and lots of notes...

Happy Holidays!!!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Col. Shoup, of NORAD
I'm hoping that everyone is having a good holday; we certainly are, and I have tomorrow off as well as today.

Oh, and the US Air Force officer? look him up on Google; he's a part of this holiday season, too... :)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

New Arrivals; It's Christmas in December! Oh, Wait...

No, I'm not going to put it on a stand as a Martian war machine...

It's the winter solstice, and Christmas ( if you use the Gregorian calendar for such things, which I do not) came a little early today.

First, the miniatures from the latest Dark Fable Indiegogo have arrived! If you haven't seen them, you can still look in on the campaign page:

There was no possible way I was not going to get these figures; a constant thread of gaming out at Phil's was the presence of Anubis The Wonder Dog, Phil's elderly and convivial Black Labrador. Anubis was a delight, as he was polite and friendly, and always ready to be someone you could simply enjoy being with. His only fault, as has been related by the surviving gamers, was a case of flatulence that gave Phil the inspiration for the deadly spell The Creeping Fog Of Doom. So, the Temple of Qon will get new temple guards for their secret shrines in the Underworld, the Temple of Anubis in the 'Cleopatra' Braunstein will get a new squad of infantry, and some Roman legionaries will wish Caesar would get a new girlfriend.

The Scorpion Lord and his henchmen are also a delight; new adventurers, if ever I saw some. The genie, which The Missus instantly named Jeannie, is going to be a real challenge to paint; she's in two versions, one standing and one materializing. The latter has her forming from a plume of smoke - coming from her lamp, naturally, and I'm thinking I'm going to use the faithful old Thayer and Chandler Model 'A' airbrush to get the shading from her white plume of vapor to her skin tone.  I think that - if I can get her done right - she'll be the most spectacular figure I've ever done over the past forty years I've been painting.

The other - and very unexpected!!! - arrival is a high-end PolyComm audio teleconferencing unit. It works anywhere with any analog phone line, like you'd get from a hotel or convention center, or in most homes. It's very, very portable, and I never thought I'd ever be able to get one for less then the cost of a box of plastic miniatures. I am very, very happy to be able to bring distant friends into my games with a simple phone call - yes, I am fully aware that you can do games on the Internet, but the great thing about this unit is that it will work anywhere. And, what's important to me, it will work first time every time reliably with no fooling around, unreliable network connections, or having to have a full-time IT person on site.

This seems to be the year a lot of my dreams are coming true... :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Looking To The Future - The Essay Concluded

What the future was going to look like, once upon a time.

So, having gotten in my ration of grumpy-old-man-complains for the week, let's move on into a future that may never have been, or may not even be remembered...

I enjoy games. Building them, and running them. I'm not apologetic about it, it just is. It's my hobby - my obsession is model railways (the GWR, in OO, to be precise) - and I have been having a lot of fun in and with that hobby for over forty years. Despite the best efforts of a number of people, I'm going to stay in that hobby. And, going forward, I have a few things going for the future.

First and foremost, I'll be finishing "To Serve The Petal Throne" this coming year. It's been moving right a long, and I've been getting quite a lot of encouragement from people who have been discovering or rediscovering Phil's astounding creation.

Secondly, my emphasis in gaming will focus on what I do in my game room and sharing that with people via the Internet. The massively powerful video rack, which combines all of the diverse technology I've been building up for years into one very capable and flexible systems, will allow remote play by people in games. This will allow me to have a lot more depth and intrigue in my on-going campaign, and provide people with a look into how I game.

Backing this up will be the parallel writing of the second edition of my miniatures rules. The biggest change will be that it will be an electronic publication, so that I can illustrate it with photos of my miniatures; the video rack will also allow DVDs to be made, and I'm looking forward to adding this to my capabilities; you can have me there in your game room, without me rooting around in your fridge.

I'm going to continue building games, and rebuilding and updating old ones. The emphasis will be on the sheer visual effect of miniatures, combined with logistics considerations to make the games portable if that becomes useful. I will be making 'guest appearances' on occasion, out in public venues, and I will use our considerable resources to make these memorable for players and spectators.

That's the 'short form' of what's been developing hereabouts for the past couple of years. More to come, as I think of it, but I think that's what I have for now.

Thanks again for your time and patience!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Forty Years Wasted? The Essay Continues

First seen in a hotel stairwell in 1976

This will be a continuation of the previous two posts; and really does have something to do with gaming - at least, with my gaming...

First, the transportation news: The van had an electrical fault, and once again the guys at Fixt-Rite solved the problem with a couple of deft strokes with a crescent wrench. We get the van back tomorrow morning, if all goes well (knock wood!), the rental Jeep goes back to Enterprise, and we get the new car - the aforementioned VW Beetle - as a holiday present as funding has come through from a very unexpected source.

I was chatting with some old friends over dinner this past weekend when the latest episode in the "Star Wars" saga came up. Haven't seen any of these in quite a while, actually, and I was thinking about seeing this one when other influences intruded. Specifically, an article in the local daily paper about how politically correct this latest film is for having several strong female characters.

Well, all right. I can understand that. The saga has always had pretty powerful women in it. Yes, I know that Princess Leia's metal bikini is now considered to be Very Politically Incorrect, but when we saw the movie when it came out we all - both the men and women in our theater-going party - instantly knew that whomever or whatever idiot had put her in that outfit was going to suffer a nasty death at her hands in pretty short order. And so it happened; Jabba gets strangled with the chain, and we all cheered. The women on our party felt particularly empowered (to use a current word) as the chain went tight.

These days, we'd all have been tarred and feathered for having Politically Incorrect Thoughts. I'd probably be at the top of The List Of Those First Up Against The Wall When The Revolution Comes because I have to specifically stop and remember that that Lando was played by a black actor. It just didn't register with me; I was way too intent on following his character's problems and solutions to them.

As I've mentioned before on this blog, our definition of inclusiveness in gaming was "Anyone who wants to play, gets to play."

These days, forty years on since those days at Coffman Union and The Little Tin Soldier Shoppe, I don't feel particularly welcome in gaming. I am not au courant with the latest and hottest games on the market, I play with (Gasp!) miniatures in role-playing games, and I don't specifically select games, miniatures, and players according to their political correctness. I go with what provides people the most fun, and what provides me the most enjoyment for my hobby dollar.

I spent some sixty bucks a while back on some figures, and I thought that - at the suggestion of my daughter-in-residence - that it would be fun to paint them in hair colors suitable for the subject matter. She worked out the statistical distribution of hair colors in the human population in the given setting, and I had a lot of fun further refining the paint schemes to give more diversity; a number of my very diverse co-workers had an equal amount of fun 'posing' for their skin tones to appear on the figures, and we were able to match everyone pretty easily.

I was very proud of these figures, at least until I showed them to my daughter's then-current game group. I was, to paraphrase the conversation, taken to task for being a white male painting female figures in racially diverse skin tones; I had, apparently, no right to do so.


The figures never got finished; they are about 80% done and - in my opinion and that of others who have seen them - look pretty good as my paint jobs seem to improve with the amount of fun I'm having with the figures. The 'magic' / 'fun' / whatever you want to call it has now been drained from this particular project, and I fear I've wasted the Missus' money.

Going forward, I'm looking at this as the proverbial 'learning experience'. In the future, as we'll talk about in the next essay, I'll be building things and doing projects that I like, and which may not be approved by other people. There's also some changes coming to the Rules of Engagement to reflect this, too.

More to come, and thanks again for your time.

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Year In Review and Preview, Continued

Cargo capacity, in action

Well, it's been a very long day here at The Workbench. The van is now in the shop, where the guys who have been looking after it for over a decade will - I hope - puzzle out what's wrong. We are home, with a mighty big Jeep thing as our rental; I feel like I should wear jodhpurs and a pith helmet, very time I look at it. We're both exhausted, and I'm looking forward to getting to bed in a bit.

Every year, about this time, I like to talk about what's been and what - I hope! - will be. Retiring the cargo van to stand-by status is part of this; we're not going to take the poor old thing (it's a 2002, by the way) outside of the local area any more. We did this early in the past year, and the long trip seems to have been the start of our current issues. So, no long trips unless we use a rental van; I've set everything in our inventory up for this kind of transportation, so we're in good shape if we do have to make a road trip to a convention.

This does lead to where I'm going with my gaming. The March trip was, and is, likely to be the last time the Missus and I try to do a long road trip; neither or us is in the best of health, and neither of us wants to try any long trips again. Local trips, up to an hour away from the house, are doable; longer trips, four to six hours, are possible with a lot of advance planning and are not gong to be undertaken lightly.

Which, we feel, is not all that severe an operational limitation. We have, as I've noted in these pages in the past, no real commercial or operational need to do conventions; since we've also been strongly discouraged from doing so by a number of diverse people and interests, we are going to limit ourselves to responding to any possible calls from some folks we know. Specifically, six people by the names of (in no particular order): Malia, Luke, Ernie, Elise, Cindy, and Heidi; I don't know Alex, so we'd have to talk.

Anybody else, you'd better have a budget and be damn well organized; I've been burned by too may people who screwed things up for themselves and for us, and tried out the excuse "If you'd wanted it organized perfectly, you should have done it yourself." Quite probably true, which is why I've gotten my side of the thing dialed in so that I can do events with little or no effort on my part, and I can do it all by myself; if I've learned one thing over the past forty-some years, is that the people who protest the most loudly that they'll be there to help are the ones most likely not to show up. (In fairness, the ones who tout themselves the least always show up and work the hardest.)

For the future, it'll be local events for me. I'm set up for them, I'm equipped for them, and I'm willing to do them. As for what they'll be, we're looking at the model of what we did for Free RPG Day as the usual thing, with the option of having a weekend 'micro-convention' further down the road. We've done this in the past, as we've noted, and we really liked the result. So, we'll go with what works, and play to our strengths.

Next up: The Nature Of Gaming, Hereabouts.

The Weekly Update - Monday, December 18th, 2017 - The Year In Review, And The Year In Preview

In happier days...

I have an very unexpected and very unwelcome vacation day today; the poor old van won't start. It just hangs there, with a couple of cylinders firing, but not enough to get it running. We have a AAA membership, which got the van running yesterday so I could get out and get the groceries, and we'll have to use it again today to get the van off to the shop and to pick up our rental car. The van, at 337,000 miles, is slated to be retired shortly; it'll be kept as a spare after we get the new VW Beetle that a friend wants to sell off.

So, I have a very busy day ahead, and things will be pretty hectic for the next few days. One of the unhappy side effects of the Missus' health issues is that she does not handle emergencies like this very well, so I have to be here to supervise matters. Luckily for me, I have over 230 hours of vacation time accrued, and my employers like to have me take the time when I can - I can 'max out' at 300 hours, so getting some time off helps everybody.

Oops! Tow truck's here! Be right back!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, December 10th, 2017 - Unexpected Treasures

Photo of the box label

My usual FLGS has a big sale about this time of the year, basically to do inventory reduction, and they tend to offer pretty deep discounts on merchandise that has not been - shall we say? - 'a hot seller'. Normally, I stay away from the big shopping sprees because I don't like big and noisy crowds, but Fifth Daughter wanted to stop in and puck up her weekly ration of comic books. I browsed the back corners and the darker areas of the shelves, and came across two old boxes of plastic figures.

These are Wargames Factory 'Numidians', and are (I presume) no longer in production due to the excessively troubled history of the company. I tend to shy away from their products, firstly because I din't have any use for the vast majority of their product line, and secondly because the quality of their figures varies pretty wildly. I'd already gotten the very nice Victrix 'Numidians', so I wasn't all that willing to take a chance on these - unless the holiday sale discount could weaken my resolve, I wasn't going to get these.

I asked one of the store's people if I could neak a peek at what was in the box, and I would up grabbing both boxes on the spot. (Something like 56 figures, across both boxes.) Two things sold me on these: the castings actually looked pretty good - unlike the 'Republican Romans' from the same company, these had nice and crisp details - and the figures are a guy in a tunic. With a choice of arms, all with open hands.

Let me repeat that. A guy in a tunic, with open hands.

All of the weapons and accessories included in the box - and you get a heap of them, too! - are on separate sprues. So, these figures can be used for literally anything that I need for my games. Artillery crews, light infantry, palanquin bearers, townspeople, merchants, servants, family retainers, and that guy who pushes a broom around the hallways of the temple complex.

Here are some reviews, if you like:

I should also mention that there aer enough spare arms in this set to fix the Republcan Romans set that the store was nice enough to sell me after we found out that none of the right arm sprues had been packed in that set; so, these sets are even more useful, as far as I'm concerned. (The WF Romans are still 'mushy', in terms of their detail, but this is going to be better then just tossing them in the trash.)

Back in the day, both Phil and I used to go through piles and piles of John McEwan's very handy generic male and female figures; we were using them for all sorts of things like galley rowers, moving crews, and the like. (I went through fifty of them doing the rowers for the little dispatch galley I made for Phil out of a Heller kit, back in about 1982.) I love to get figures like this; most miniatures companies tend to shy away from them, as these kinds of figures don't have any real use in 'classically serious' wargames - you usually don't need a dozen Ancient Egyptian trumpet-blowers and fan-bearers on the game table, unless (like me) tou like doing parties at the palace or the triumphal entry of the player-characters after their latest victory. (See also Verdi's "Aida".)

As I've noted in these pages, you can get these sorts of figures from Mike Burns at Dark Fable, and Howard Fielding's Tekumel Project also has figures that do very nicely for my kind of games - priests and priestesses, for starters. You can also find useful figures in the Crocodile Games ranges; Foundry also used to have a lot of miniatures like this in their historical ranges, but I don't know if any of them are still available. I have a batch of treasured 'Macedonian Characters', which are guys in tunics with straw hats:

These lads have been in a great many games, mostly as those much-put-upon-fishermen who are always being 'persuaded' by the players to take them someplace in their boats. Foundry figures are hard - if not impossible - to get locally, so mail-order is probably the only way to go if you're in the US. Ral Partha also used to have a lot of these sorts of figures in their historical lines; I have a batch of trumpeters and fan-bearer for those 'sword and sandal' epics I love to put on. And, they are still available, too:

Miniatures like all of these are inspirations for adventures; both Phil and I used to come up with scenarios for wargames and adventures for RPGs based on some miniature we'd found in some obscure corner of the hobby - and I still find that kind of inspiration, as with these unexpected treasures from the back of the shelf...

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Weekly Update - Wednesday, December 6th, 2017 - Five Years On, And Where We Are

before The Incident

after The Incident

I happened to discover, entirely by accident, that Photobucket has cut the links to this blog, so that my posts of a certain age have been deleted from their original messages. I can replace some of them from the Google albums, and I'll see if I can't do that. With over five years of posts being affected, it may take a while.

Speaking of five years having gone by, it's been five years since The Incident. I was so busy moving jobs that I clean forgot to note the occasion, back in September. As you might guess, I am still alive, and in the human normal range, largely because of a number of pretty severe changes I made in my life. A lot of people who gave me a lot of stress and annoyance are now gone, likewise a lot of activities that cause me the same kind of annoyance have been left behind.

I find that I have little to no interest in playing games, any more. I think a lot of this is because I don't have the patience to sit quietly and listen to the other folks at the table talk over the situation in the game endlessly, over-thinking the most basic actions. I certainly don't mind them doing it for themselves, it's when I'm sitting there for literally hours waiting to do something that's the issue. I still enjoy running games for people; I had a great time at The Source's 'Free RPG Day', for example, and I'm enjoying introducing people to Tekumel in the current D&D 5e campaign at the same venue. For as long as somebody wants have me in to run games for them, I'll be happy to do it. People seem to enjoy what I do, and I enjoy doing it - so, I think, we have something going.

I am still enjoying building things ; we play-tested the floor plans of my palace, this past weekend, and it went well; the building 'works' as both a palace and as a model, so we'll get to gluing and cutting over the holidays. The 2' x 2' modular format worked very well, and the modules with fit through doors - which, as you might guess, is A Very Big Deal. The Missus is sourcing carpeting, TRE Games is doing the furniture, and I am a pretty happy camper over this project.

Along the way, I have been reducing my time spent on Internet forums, especially the ones that describe themselves as 'standard-bearers of the OSR'. I'm find that the discussions have very little to do with the kind of gaming that we did back in the late '70s and early '80s, and are usually so far away from what I know about and what I do that I have very little in common with most of the posters, and they have very little in common with me. So, I have wound down most of my on-line writing, and have put that time and energy into "To Serve The Petal Throne".

A lot of my model-building is also finding inspiration and grounding in the book and our adventures with Phil in his world. The palace project is a good example of that, as is the current painting projects that I'm doing. I'm happier and more productive, so I think we're on to a good thing.

So, life is good.

Oh, yeah; it's my birthday today; I am 61. :)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Weekly Update - Sunday, November 26th, 2017 - The Missus, The Macedonians, And The Money

The Missus's new mercenaries

I'm hoping that people are having a good holiday weekend; we visited family Thursday, I went to The Source on Friday, and yesterday and today I'm in the game room getting the old place cleaned up. I'm expecting visitors next Sunday, after the game session, and I thought it would be nice if we could actually get into the game room. The new video rack has, after lots of sweat and straining, been moved into the video alcove to replace the old systems and all I have to do now is clean up after myself.

The 'short trip' to The Source turned into a seven hour jaunt, which was just heaps of fun; I got to talk to gamers about gaming, without any of the 'Serious Gamer' attitude that I've run into recently. Just a lot of folks talking to me about my time in gaming and how I game; I also got to talk to Tim Erickson of TRE Games for quite a while, which is always fun and informative.

Besides picking up stuff (comics and some board games) for The Daughter-In-Residence, I was picking up some more Romans for the 'Cleopatra Braunstein' that I'm building - I really must come up with a better name for that game! - and in the budget discussions with She Who Must Be Obeyed I was informed that I could have my Romans if she could have some Macedonians.

Huh? Run that one past me again?

Yep; the Missus hasn't played games in years - due to her health issues, really - but she does maintain a lovely interest in the goings-on in the game room. So, in a move that caught me by surprise, she's funding some 80 more Macedonians (A box of 40 as seen above, and a box of 40 Warlord Spartans so we can say we've got some Greek mercenaries in the game) for the various Egyptian players to plot against, bribe, suborn, coerce, and generally carry on in the usual Braunstein manner. Gold coins courtesy of a party shop; look in their 'pirate party' section for bags o' loot.

So, I'll paint these up fo her, and I think I'll have fun doing so. The Macedonians are all rank-and-file figures, so I'll have to dig around in the parts boxes for arms to make the command figures; same for the Spartans - what I think is interesting about this box is that it is the 'generic Greek hoplite' sprues with additional 'Spartan Upgrade Sprues' with the different heads and some cast metal accessories. The three boxes of Romans are the 'Legionaries' and 'Veterans' we've reported on before, and a box of the 'Caesarian' Romans.

I got the latter not because they are the 'historically correct' figures - they are, of course - but because Dark Fable's 'Legend of Cleopatra' included some actual historical figures; at this period, with the expansion of Rome in progress, everybody and their treasuries had copied the Roman 'guy-in-a-mail-shirt-and-bronze-helmet-with-an-oval-shield' look, which to my jaundiced cinematic eyes makes for pretty boring-looking battles on the table top. Hence the mob in lorica, but I know full well that with two units of 'guy-in-a-mail-shirt-and-bronze-helmet-with-an-oval-shield' figures on the table, mayhem will ensue; the players will not be able to keep them straight, and once again we'll see what makes the Braunstein game what it is. Personality figures I got; I raided the trays of Tekumel figures, and pulled out all the odds and sods of Romans who have been masquerading as Tsolyani marines and officers. I also have three 'testudo' stands someplace, so we'll add those so you can do this scene:

I first saw this movie decades ago, and I've always wanted to put the attack on the Moon Gate on the table. I'm still dithering over what to do with the Roman archers I got a long time ago to use as Salarvyani; I have plenty of archers for them, thanks to the Celtos line and various historicals, so I think I'll transfer those Foundry 'Eastern Archers' back to the legions - and finally finish painting them, too!

And I will say that as Howard Fielding, he of The Tekumel Project, goes from strength to strength, I'm getting less and less inclined to be satisfied using all sorts of odds and ends of historical figures in my Tekumelyani forces. I'll keep the ones that I bought specifically for them and have painted up where they've serves so well for some forty years, but all the unpainted and half-painted figures that I've bought 'on spec' are going to get a new posting and get into action.

I am having heaps of fun, like I had back in the day, and really enjoying my new lease on gaming.

Much more to come! :)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Weekly Update - Sunday, November 19th, 2017 - The News And Letters From The Complaints Department

'Blue' Section, Display Two

It has been a very busy couple of weeks here at the Workbench! I have not one, but two daughters in the honors society at their college; they were inducted into Phi Theta Kappa - the two-year college branch of the organization - this past week and I am very proud of both of them. Their sister continues her medical degree program back home in Zurich; no informaion of late from her, but I'll pass along anything I can get as soon as I get it.

Pickings in the surplus market have been superb over the past two weeks; I was able to find a complete Skyline 'Mosaic' display unit for a very good price that really fills out our range of displays and gives us pretty much unlimited options for the kinds of events that I want to run. 'Blue' Section is a pair of Skyline 'Mirage' table-mounted space frames with matching-but-different fabric sets that I've used for Free RPG Day at the local FLGS; these will be the core displays for both the "Chirine's Workbench" and "To Serve The Petal Throne" displays when I do events. 'Green' Section is the really 'heavy artillery', with both the new 'Mosaic' display and the massive 'Mirage' 8' high and 10' wide wall. There are also workstations for interactive displays as well as the usual acrylic literature and graphics displays. I am, I think, now set up for any kind of event regardless of size or venue. I'm pretty please with it all, I have to say, and the ultimate 'trade show booth' - the Tsolyani tent and furniture - waits in the wings for those really special events.

All of this is part of my 'marketing plan' for how I want to move forward into the future. I am, more and more, finding that going back to my roots in the hobby is both finding a larger audience and give me a lot more fun then what's been going on in my gaming life of late; which is a segue to why I'm going back to my roots - some of the complaints that I've been getting from various people...

Letters from Over The Transom - Samples From The Complaints Department

"Why are you buying Pathfinder and D & D figures? You don't play either game, so why spend the money on them?" - sales clerk at the FLGS

Because I like them, and I can use them in my games. Since you were very worked up about this, I asked your dad, the store's owner, if it was all right to buy miniatures from him and he told me that I could spend as much money in your store as I wanted to. I hope that's all right with you; I can get a note from him, if you'd be happier.

"Why are you painting miniatures? You're not a serious gamer, because you don't play serious games with serious people in a serious gaming group." - local miniatures gamer

Once again, because I like them. As for the 'serious gamer' complaint, guilty as charged. I've played with the people in your 'serious gaming group' in the past, and I wouldn't do it again. No laughter at the table, and the way some of you folks picked up my pikemen by the dozen by their pikes kinda turned me off. I'll keep my Macedonians at home, thank you. As for my using 'serious historical miniatures' in my 'non-historical and non-serious games' like the Cleopatra Braunstein, all I can say is that both the manufacturers and retailers of these figures seem very happy at the idea of taking my money. Can't imagine why, really; maybe it's 'cause you nearly lost the FLGS a $120 sale this past week.

"Your figures are obscene! If you bring them to the FLGS, I'll have you run out of the store!!!" - both the same local miniatures gamer and a miniatures manufacturer

Any figures that I buy are approved in advance by The Missus and my daughters. There are some lines of figures that we will not purchase, due to their subject content and lack of taste, but we do buy figures that are historically dressed (Ancient Egyptian, or Barsoomian, for example) and are useful to us in our games. You don't have to play with them , or with us; we do not want to offend your sensibilities. As for bad-mouthing one's own products, I'd like to suggest that may be not the best way to encourage sales of your products. Luckily for you and your company, The Missus was able to look beyond your comments at your figures.

"You shouldn't be playing in this (D&D 5th Edition) campaign because you don't know all the ins and out of the rules like I do!"

Sounds good to me; I don't like 'rules layers', and I don't play with them. I handed in my PC sheet to the GM, so I don't play in that campaign any more. Instead, the GM and players invited me back as an associate GM, and I'm now running their visit to the world of the Petal Throne for them. You're welcome to come and play, if you like; I don't insist that you memorize all of the rules ahead of time.

And with that, it's off to the grocery store for the holiday shopping. More later!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Arresting The Loading Cycle: The Weekly Update - Sunday, November 5th, 2017

The Indiegogo is funded!!! Woo Hoo!!!

More of Lord Chirine's baggage, courtesy of The Missus

First off, the big news around here is that Mike Burns and Dark Fable miniatures has had the newest Indiegogo campaign fully fund, and we still have three weeks left to run! Five sets of Anubis warriors, one set of the Scorpion Lord's minions, and a two-stage genie that has all of the ladies in the family chortling - she's got a look on her face that tells her summoners to be very, very careful about what they might wish for...

We'll be getting in on this campaign at the 7th level, as we can use all of the figures in our games. (should I do an 'Ancient Egyptian' label to help find things here?) If you haven't looked in on the Dark Fable campaign, may I suggest:

My alter-ego's baggage train also has gotten an addition, courtesy of The Missus and an end-of-season sale; there's a bit in "To Serve The Petal Throne" where the newly-ennobled Lord Chirine's bearers are loading his baggage into the cart for the trip from Meku to Fasiltum, when they find out that their new employer has a chest with a set of cast iron cookware. It's always been a part of our Tekumel gaming to have props around - Phil started it, it's not my fault! :) - and I'd been on the lookout for a sort of camping set for a while; we found this set, 'Fancy Flames' FF240, with all of the cookware needed for comfortable adventuring and a nice chest to load it all into. Coupled with the hand-forged iron fire tripod we got from a blacksmith up on the Iron Range (at the Tower-Soudan Iron Mine, to be precise) we now have all of the campaign / outdoor / camping cooking set for we've always wanted both for ourselves and our player-characters to use.

The Missus is threatening to do a Tsolyani cook-out, next summer. Watch this space.

I still have to replace the little cast-iron grill I used to own, which saw a lot of use on the balconies of the fannish apartment building where I lived and gamed in the late 1970s. It got lost in a move, decades ago, and I do miss the thing. The Missus, Queen of the Internet, says I can get a replacement so that will be something for the future. I have charcoal; she has food; I think we're in business.

One of our dreams, back in the day, was to have a 'trade show booth' where it looked like a Tsolyani merchant or noble had arrived for a visit, and not like the usual 'two-chairs-behind-a-folding-table' routine that we normally had at conventions and shows. We have been collectiong all of the stuff for this over the pat ten years or so, and we can now do this - just for the fun of it, really. When I get some warmer weather, next year, I'll set it all up and post photos of it for everyone. For a 'real' trade show or exhibition, we have the three Skyline displays as seen in these pages; I use these for gaming events and such, as they are quick, easy, and eye-catching.

In other news, the new chests are swallowing up stuff at a truly amazing rate; I have lots of now-spare milk-carton crates and plastic tubs to go back into the household fleet, and I am starting to be able to actually find everything I own. (There's a cordless drill that's been missing for over a year, but I'll find it. Eventually.) The spaces in the game room are getting a lot more empty, which I like as you can see all the good stuff that's down there. Also going into storage will be Castle Tilketl, in it's crate, and some of the large ships in the collection - ever tried storing a 25mm Hlyss nest ship?

So, lots of fun stuff going on; I'm very pleased with the developments, and looking forward to be able to do my own 'call in show' from my game room / studio! :)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Making My Dreams Come True (III) - The Logistics

The Old Reliable: M-1956 US Army cooler
What's in my future...

Ah, the joys of surplus shopping! Once again, my favorite form of consumerism has paid off; I took delivery of ten heavy-duty storage chests this past week. The significance of that, in regards to my gaming activities, is that all of the game stuff I have in plastic tubs out in the shed will come indoors to the basement game room, and all the show production stuff that I've been accumulating for years will go into these shipping chests out in the shed. All of the mains leads, tabletop displays, lighting, graphics, and everything else we could only dream of back in the days of the 'Akbar and Jeff Traveling Tekumel Road Show' (as Mike Mornard used to describe our trips to conventions to sell Tekumel) when we had no money but unlimited enthusiasm will now live in the chests and stay loaded. I.e., I won't have to be moving stuff around in the basement just to have a game, any more.

It also means that for events like Free RPG Day, all I have to do is a quick 'throw and go' to get ready for the events. I have learned the hard way, over the decades, that if I don't have the asset under my direct control, I won't have the asset. So, what's happening is that all my patient building up of resources over the past few years is finally coming together. There are some amazing things on the way, and I think you'll be amused and delighted. :)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Making My Dreams Come True (II) - Turning The Tables

30" by 60", 30" tall. Four of, as they say in the army.

One of the age-old issues I've run into as a gamer has been getting the right tables for games. Most convention and event venues have round tables, intended for banquets and other food functions, and miniatures gaming usually needs square or rectangular tables. I ran into this problem as recently as this past spring at the local game convention, where the game's runner had asked for four tables like the one above, and got a five-foot round by the time the hotel set-up people had set the room. I was able to help with that, as I 'speak hotel' and 'convention committee', and so we got the tables we needed.

For over a decade, I've had three of my own 30" x 60" tables - again, like the one above - and I've more or less standardized on them as gaming tables for my larger games. I'd been wanting to get a fourth for some time - like, right after the recent local convention, but prices have gone from $25 to $50 each for these tables over the past decade and that's a bit steep for my wallet. Enter surplus sales: I was able to get my fourth table last week, in very good shape and for $25. I am, as you might imagine, pretty pleased!

So, yet another of my dreams has come true. I can now run any of my games any time, any place, just the way I want them. I have already built and run Phil's two miniatures games that he published in "The Dragon", Chanis and Ry, and I also have our fights at Castle Tilketl and Anch'ke built as well. (Not to mention the fight with the Hlutrgu, too!) I'm going to build our epic fight at Third Mar, which really does need the bigger table, and perhaps some of the other battles we fought out at Phil's on his tables.

So, lots more to come, and lots more fights to win! Hurrah!!!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Making My Dreams Come True - The Weekly Update for Monday, October 30th, 2017

The stuff that dreams are made of...

It was a sort of unhappy week last week here at the Workbench, with some bad news about people we know coming across the wires, but things perked up considerably over the weekend; one daughter helped another move, and after several trips with  four ferrets,  one bunny, and Skipper the Three-Legged Cat, everything got moved and only the cleaning remains. It's her first real house, and it was a lot of fun to get her installed. I also got more figures painted while I sat by Fifth Daughter's game group getting into trouble, which is always relaxing and a tonic.

As I've mentioned once in a while, I've put in the past forty years making other peoples' dreams happen - like in gaming with Dave Arneson at Adventure Games - and I've learned a few lessons along the way. Who can be trusted, who can be relied on when the chips are down, how to manage events, and how to make things both organized and easier to deal with.

Back in earlier years of my working life, I built some of the first teleconferencing and distance learning systems that were being installed here in the Twin Cities. One of my dreams has always been a desire to combine that kind of technology with my gaming, so that people need not travel all the way up here to the Northwoods to game with me.

That dream came true, this past weekend. A friend, who is another one of us surplus bargain hunters, needed some help with a couple of projects; he traded me one of his surplus finds, a video production rack full of equipment, for my time and effort. This rack is one of those stand-alone room systems, and has all of the gear to integrate all of my existing equipment into a complete video production facility; I can wire the game room once,  and then record game sessions and upload them to the Internet - or run live on the Internet, and have people call in on the phone and 'appear' remotely as players. And I can do things like the DVD I've been planning for the new edition of my miniatures rules - a reader noted that I would need to write the rules in such a way as to teach them to players, as I could not be there to teach them. My response was to provide a DVD (or YouTube video, for that matter) in which I run a game to show how the game works 'on the table'. He thought it was an amazingly good idea, so that's what we'll do.

So, that's the first dream come true. Others are as well, and I'll keep all of you posted as they happen - and I get photos shot... :)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Please Consider Helping, If You Can...

No, I don't know Stacy. No, I don't think she knows me, either. We found out about this earlier this week and The Missus, who is a breast cancer survivor, thought I should say something and I agree with her. An RPGer needs our help, and if you can , here's the link to the cancer fund - as we know, copays are pretty expensive.

Thanks for your time in reading this, and if you can help, thank you from both me and The Missus.

Friday, October 27, 2017

For Tim Knight - An Answer To Your Questions

That's me. Jeff Berry. Himself.

One of the oddities of my computer is that it's too old to run a browser that Google+ recognizes socially. (This too shall change, in the fullness of time.) One of the long-time readers of this blog sent me a message via Google+, which messages I can read but not directly reply to. So, here's a reply to Tim, with my answers interleaved with his text...

From: Tim Knight  Oct 27, 8:43 AM

Dear Chirine (apologies, after all these years of 'knowing' you, I don't know your non-Tekumel name!),

Jeff Berry. An odd part of my relationship with Phil (Prof, Barker) was that he always called me 'Chirine', never - with one exception - 'Jeff'.

I've published my HeroPress blog for 10 years. The other year I ran a series of 'profiles' of bloggers, under the banner of SIX OF THE BEST (as everyone answers the same six simple questions about their blog and blogging in general).

I'm about to launch a second wave of profiles and was wondering if you would be willing to participate? (You can find links to the first wave here:

Sure; be happy to!

If you are, please answer the questions below and send them back to me in your own time. If you have any images you'd like me to use (I usually run three or four with the interviews), please feel free to send them as attachments - otherwise I'm more than happy to source my own.

Feel free to use anything from this blog or my Photobucket page. Otherwise, let me know what you'd like to see, and I'll dig something up for you.

The questions are:
(1) How long have been blogging, and how’d you get into it in the first place?

Heck, I don't really know. The original version of this little effort got started some eight years ago, I  think. I started this as a way to talk about gaming with Phil in his creation, and it went on from there. There was a lot of blogging going n back then, and I thought it might be fun.

(2) What do you blog about, and how frequently do you post?

My gaming, my miniatures, my adventures, and life in general.

(3) How does your blog stand out from all the rest?

No idea. Seriously. I think about the only really 'unique' feature of this blog is that it's the on-going story of Phil's original Thursday night gaming group, with ran from 1976 to 1988.

(4) What’s the best (and worst) thing about blogging?

Being able to talk with people about our adventures. Trying to say something intellegnt on a regular basis.

(5) Do you have any self-imposed rules (or guidelines) for your blog?

Yes, very much so. See the 'Pages' section for this, where I have 'The Rules Of Engagement'.

(6) Name one blog everyone should be reading (other than your own).

Tenkar's Tavern, for gamers; yours, for fans in general.

I cannot stress enough that this isn't a financial deal, there's no pressure, no advertising, no obligation. It is primarily a bit of fun to spread the love of blogging and our geeky hobbies.

Sounds good to me!

I look forward to hearing from you, whether you're participating, want to know more, or just telling me to sling my hook.

Well, here you go. Does this help?

- Chirine / Jeff

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Weekly Update - The Van Is Back, and Why I'm Not *Playing* Games Anymore

The Book of Job, Chapter 39, Verse 24 seems appropriate.

Saying 'Thank You" to a great player...

The good news, for people who follow our misadventures, is that the van is back. The Missus, bless her, found a place that could get it up and running for what we and our insurance company could afford. So, the old warhorse is back in action, holding the line for a year while we work on getting a new car to get around in. I am pretty happy; it's been a miserable week.

Bob Meyer, 'Robert the Bald' to you Blackmoor fans, ran a Blackmoor game today at The Source; Bob inherited The Original Blackmoor Campaign from Dave Arneson after the latter passed away, by the express wish of same. Bob occasionally runs games, and maintains that original tone and color that made our gaming with Dave in his creation so fun and memorable.

I didn't play in the game; my daughter had her usual Sunday game group, and I had my 'alternate Workbench' off to one side where I had a great afternoon painting miniatures and listening to the mayhem going on off to my flank. I also organized cake and ice cream for one of the players / GMs who had a birthday today; this was one of the wonderfully gifted players who made my game sessions at The Source's 'Free RPG Day' so much fun and so memorable. The cake and ice cream went over very well, and the cast chocolate "Star Wars" candies provided by the Missus were particularly welcomed by the ravening hordes.

And, in a wonderful moment, Bob and the Blackmoor players came over and sang "Happy Birthday" to the Guest of Honor. Couldn't ask for better, really!!!

Today's not playing marks the first time I've declined a game in quite a while. I've made the decision, after my recent experiences in playing D&D 5e and having been bombarded by a number of gaming-related unpleasant incidents both on-line and in recent months, to not play in games any more. I will still run games, and still continue to write about them, but I just seem to have lost all interest in playing in them. I will still continue to build my models and paint my miniature figures, but the emphasis is no longer on being able to have cool stuff for game sessions but instead to have cool stuff for inclusion in "To Serve The Petal Throne".

I think a big part of this decision is due to the legal hassles I've faced and the annoyance I've had to deal with over my gaming. It's gotten old, and I'm tired of it. I don't need to run games to have fun, and I suspect some folks have not been able to understand that. Too bad for them. I am delighted that people have so much fun in their games, and I'll be delighted to support them as we move along; my participation in gaming is going to be on my terms, and for my enjoyment from now on.

And no, I don't think I'm throwing the baby out with the bath water; I'll still run games for people who ask me too, as this seems to be a successful thing for everyone involved; I just am not  playing in other people's games, at this point. We go on; lots of fun stuff going on, and I'll keep everyone updated!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

An Essay, of Sorts: An Answer For Jeff B. Regarding 5e...

From Sunday's game session
I got a comment on the Sept. 18th post that I thought deserved a longer and better reply:

If you could modify 5e to your tastes, what would you change?

In a nutshell, simplify and add lightness. The stack of books that seem to be the game boggled me, for starters, and then reading through them got me wondering how I'd be able to keep it all straight in my head during a game.  It came to me that some of the players can do this, and others use apps to do it for them; what I found annoying was the plethora of races, classes, sub-classes, factions, and all of the special rules that went along with each. Now, some of the player do have all this down cold; one, in particular, kept reminding the GM of some special rule or calculation throughout the course of the game and I thought that it really slowed down the pace of the game to have to hit the 'pause' button while the smart phones and tables came out to run the numbers.

I'm sorry, but I don't regard this as much fun; I came to play in an RPG, not take a course in higher algebra. I have very limited amounts of free time and energy, and I found all the special rules just too much to keep my interest and energy going in the game.

I do want to be fair to the GM; he was trying very hard to keep the game going while playing the rules as published. I found this admirable; I also find that I much prefer the way that they GMs in Fifth Daughter's game group routinely leave the rules in the book and rune 'rules lite' in their games. They use the rules as a tool, not as an objective.

I genuinely don't know if one could have a version of 5e that appeals to me; I'm used to the way that some old guys used to play, which was very 'rules lite' and very heavy on role-playing and not roll-playing. I guess I'm saying 'Less rules, more adventure.'

Again, in fairness to the GM and the players in this group, I want to be clear that I had no issues with their play style or anything; I just had no idea what they were talking about, most of the time, or hat all the calculations were all about.

I should also mention that the GM and players have invited me to be part of their next game session, in November, as a sort of 'associate GM'; they want to visit the world of the Petal Throne, and they want me to run it for them. The campaign's regular GM will handle the rules; I will handle the world setting for them. 

I have hopes, and I will report back on what happens.

The Weekly Update - Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 - Losing The Old Warhorse

The Scene Of The Crime

First, the bad news, then the good news:

I came out of work last night, and found that some thoughtful person or persons unknown had stolen the catalytic converter off the van while it was parked in the street next to my building. I called the police, as I would need to have a report for my insurance company, and it got to be a very late night out. The police were very helpful, though, if a little deafened by the thunder of six cylinders all roaring away. The Missus in Not Amused, as she shelled out some $2,000 for repairs after our trip to CinncyCon to keep the old warhorse running.

The van has now been seen by our insurance company, and has been declared a total loss as the 'book value' of a ten-year-old cargo van with 335,000 miles on it is less then the cost of getting the converter replaced. We've been offered $425 if we keep it, $825 if they scrap it, so The Missus is running the numbers to see if we can get a cheap ($1,000 or less) fix to keep us going or if we can find a used car for cheap. One complication is that the used dishwasher that Second Daughter was going to take for her new house is still in the back of the van, so we may have to 'borrow' it long enough to deliver the goods - unless we can find somebody with a pickup or something.

Net result, we're probably going to lose our 'heavy lift capability' that we've had for over a decade, as I don't think we'll be able to get anything larger then a regular type of car with our current budget. We're not particularly worried by this, as our need for this capability lapsed with the cancellation of the proposed Tekumel Room at Gary Con a while back; we needed cheap - read 'in-house' - lift to make that event really happen, and with it being highly unlikely that we'll ever need to do it again we really don't need to keep nursing the old warhorse along. I had a feeling, after the CinncyCon trip, that that excursion was going to be ours and the van's swan song; it took us a month to recover from the journey, and we had to put almost $2,000 into repairs to keep the van running afterwards.

While we had been hoping to get one more year out of the van, we have been preparing for it's eventual demise for over a year. All of the 'trade show booth' gear we've been building up will fit in a standard car, and if we we're being booked for a really splashy show - we can put on a show very much like the one done this past year for Gen Con about the history of RPG gaming, but specifically for Tekumel - there'll be a budget for renting a full-sized van to carry all the goodies to the show. Our plans for what we're doing in the future and how we do it are really focusing on "To Serve The Petal Throne" and we're more or less reconfiguring our in-house assets towards that end. Losing the van and the 'heavy lift' is not really a loss for us; we really haven't used it in years, except to help our friends out at CinncyCon, and we really don't want to keep putting money into a vehicle with all that mileage on it.

So, while I'm annoyed at the timing of all this - during my work week, and about a year earlier then we really wanted - we'll deal.

On the other hand, I had a really great time at The Source this past weekend. Fifth Daughter's game group was a hoot to listen to, as always, and then Dear Old Dad got called in to provide Sage Counsel And Advice on how to assemble and paint plastic figures. After that, it was off to dinner with old friends, which was a delight as always.

I also encountered one of my old players from my campaign, who wants to start their own game group and wants my help with that. Specifically, how to play in Ye Olde Style, and so I will have an Apprentice around the turn of the year. I'm looking forward to that - but I had better get the game room cleaned up!

So, some good news, some bad news. We've survived worse, and kept on going... :)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Another Update - Saturday, October 7th, 2017 - The Day The World Changed

Today's program book...

Today will, I suspect, be listed in my future Unauthorized Autobiography as The Day The World Changed. Eh? I can hear you say; that's a pretty dramatic statement, even for this blog. So, here's the deal...

The Daughter-in-Residence is, as has been noted, a big comics fan. She's never been to a comics convention here in the US (having loved abroad for many years) and she wanted to go to the local one that happened today. However, she wanted her dad to go with her, officially for moral support but actually to carry the heaps of comic books that she was sure to add to her collection. I will freely admit that I am not a comics fan, but when the daughter asks, the father does as best as he can. So, off we went; she had a great time, I nearly lost some fingers from the circulation being cut off, but everything went fine.

I had a most amazing and wonderful time. I was wandering around, doing a little browsing of the various sales tables, when I got into conversation with some very nice people about RPG gaming. They were astonished that I'd been there Back In The Day, and had played with Dave, Phil, and Gary. I had a lot of fun telling stories about them and their games, and what amazed me was just how many people really enjoyed hearing about how they ran their games. People actually took notes, which amazed me; I felt that the day was quite a success on all sorts of levels.

We also got to talking about the joys of being in  the digital publishing era, and that's when my world changed. As I've noted before, I am working on this little tome about our adventures in Phil's world where we had so many years of sheer terror and rollicking fun. One thing I had wanted to do was illustrate the book with photos of all our miniatures in action; I still have all of the figures I did for our games, and I thought it would be fun to be able to show my readers what we saw on Phil's game table - we used miniatures for 'tactical displays' as well as for the larger battles we fought out in his campaign.

A big part of the game sessions back in those far-off days was the row of artists along the north side of Phil's game table; Ken Fletcher, Kathy Marshall, Chris Huddle, Jim Garrison, to name a few. Every now and then, you'd hear some noise from over there, and shortly after a drawing would get passed around for people to admire. Phil added to these with his own drawings, and we published most of all of them in our 'zines, the Imperial Military Journal, The Journal Of Tekumel Affairs, and The Imperial Courier. Just like my frantically painting up the latest Dire Peril, these artists made gaming out at Phil's something truly special.

I want very much to convey to people the sense of sheer fun we had gaming with Phil, back in the late 1970s and through the 1980s - using the same miniatures we had will help, as will my accounts of our antics - er, adventures. I had been thinking about illustrations, and talking to my old gaming colleagues, when it hit me today - standing in the middle of this huge room, it suddenly hit me that besides being full of comic book, the room was full of the people who create them: artists.

So, in order to give all of you some feel for what those thursday nights were like for us in the original game group, I collected lots and lots of names, and took a lot of notes. I also got some prints, which I'll try to share here, and had a great time talking about Phil and his creation.

It was, in short, a marvelous day.

(Note: I am updating the "To Serve The Petal Throne" page to reflect today's developments.)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Weekly Update - Thursday, October 5th, 2017 - Dave Arneson Day, and Out With the New And In With The Old!

Well, I had fun...

There have been a few changes to the scene...

There didn't seem to be any local events going on for Dave Arneson Day, but my daughter's RPG group invited me to talk about the man himself - I told 'Dave Stories' for about two hours, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

The game room has been assuming what I suspect will be the final form for the place; I've added a lot of new shelving under the game table proper and removed the former 'accessories' drawers, replacing them with more shelving for my expanding Barsoom and Aegyptian miniatures. I'm returning to the kind of thing in gaming that I enjoy, and now that my energies are returning I'm able to act on this both in terms of the miniatures I love and in the 'physical plant' that we have in the game room.

I've also been able to get back to writing; I'm cranking out something like 1,000 to 2,000 words a night. Once again, the words are just seeming to flow - our adventures almost seem to write themselves!

We have a comics convention this weekend, followed by some more furniture moves; Sunday will see my daughter back in the thick of things with her game group, using Dad's dice collection. So, w're busy, but it's a good kind of busy!

More to come - and with photos, too!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sharing A Family Moment, If I May...

I hope that I may be forgiven for a certain amount of paternal pride in Fifth Daughter being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa...

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Weekly Update - Thursday, September 28th, 2017 - Stability and Tranquility

I have no further information on this, sorry...

I'm back; I'm just finishing my second week in my new position. It has been a lot of fun, and I am regaining my energy and stamina. I am very pleased with this, and so is the family - I can actually do things, after I get home!

The Daughter-In-Residence had a comics show last weekend, and then a game session with her new game group. I provided transportation and moral support - I also carried the baggage - and she had a great time.

I will not be posting until later this coming weekend; I have to help a Daughter move house, and then take another Daughter out gaming. It'll be busy, but fun, and I'll have lots more to say afterwards.

Till then, have a great time in your own games!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, September 18th, 2017 - D 20 Adventure: "The Redwood Scar"

Some quick bits of personal news, then on to gaming stuff:

I am on my new work schedule starting tomorrow; I am moving back to an afternoon/evening shift, which I think will help me quite a bit. New assignments, new responsibilities, and (if I may say so) a nice raise in pay. I am expecting that my productivity will increase quite a lot; I am not a 'morning person', and being awake leter in the day will allow me to get a lot more done here at The Workbench.

We found a nice little Sony 'Cybershot' camera recently, and the photo above was taken with this. It uses the 'Memory Stick Pro' memory units, and I get something like 725 photos per stick with this camera. As a result, I think I'll be using this compact little camera for documenting games; I don't have to stop and reload sticks every 125 photos, like I do with my current digital camera.

Played in the D&D 5E campaign at the FLGS, today; this is set in the D20 "Blackmoor"series of books. We were involved in the adventures given in the suppliment "The Redwood Scar", and we managed to beat off the zombies that were menacing the village that we had been staying the night in. Had a quick side adventure from the same book, and then got the party back to the village to a place of relative safety.

I am not, I will admit, very happy with the 5e rules, but then I am not very happy with really any of the various editions of D&D that I've seen go by over the past forty years of my gaming life. I freely admit that I am spoiled by having played in the original Blackmoor setting with Dave Arneson and the original Greyhawk with Gary Gygax; their pace and ability to weave a wonderful tale really shaped the way I game and the way I look at gaming. The current incarnations of their game don;t do much for me, so I have dropped out of this group. Great players, solid GM, but all the number-crunching and calculations the rules seem to mandate are neither something I like or enjoy.

We'll see where my gaming goes, in the future; the more I get back to the basics I learned all those years ago, the more fun I and others seem to have.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Weekly Update - September 10th, 2017 - Astonishing Things Happening, Hereabouts!

Hokun - from David Allen and Howard Fielding

It's been an astonishing week in my life. As you can see from the photo, Howard Fielding has come up with transparent Hokun - something that we dreamed of for years, out at Phil's. have a look - link off to the right.

Mike Burns of Dark Fable has given some hints of what he's planning for future releases, and The Missus is already rubbing her hands with glee over them. Please see his announcement in the Updates to the 'Legend of Cleopatra' Indiegogo:

Servitors of Lord Qon. anyone?

Projects on the Workbench are hitting high gear; I've been cleaning up and re-shelving in the game room and in the workshop, and a great many projects that had fallen by the wayside are back on the front burners. My energy levels are up, the tools are sharp, and the sheet goods are all earmarked for projects. Life is good, if you asked me. I'm painting again, I'm writing again, and I am enjoying myself again. Could not ask for more, really!

My gaming is also picking up; I was in a truly great 'pulp' RPG yesterday, serving as the GM's resource base, and I had immense amounts of fun. Where it looks like I'm heading is a sort of 'resource on the hoof' role, where people can use what I know and my skills to enhance their games. I'm really enjoying this; I'm also getting asked to run games for people, and that's always a lot of fun for me.

And I start my new shift a week from tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to that as well. Thnigs are really looking up, and I'm very pleased with both that and the good mood I'm in.

Onward! :)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Weekly Update - Tuesday, September 5th, 2017 - Girls For The Girls!

Shield-maidens for The Daughters, others for me...

I think I can say that I had good holiday weekend; lots of stuff got done around the house, and many fun things were done on various excursions. The Workbench is still a mess, because I'm painting rather then cleaning, but that's my problem.

Lots and lots of family news; my father-in-law is out of the hospital and walking around (slowly, but he's walking), The Missus has had her annual cancer check-up and has passed with flying colors, Fifth Daughter has a 4.0 GPA and has been invited to join her school's Honor Society, and I am moving back to second shift in two weeks with an increase in pay. (Yes, we're a  little busy hereabouts.)

I am having a whee of a good time, in amongst the myriad of other things I'm up to, getting the plastic shield-maidens assembled. The girls are pretty happy with "their girls", as they call them. and I'm very happy at the quick and easy assembly work that I did. There are an immense number of variations possible with this set - Fifth Daughter calculated that there are over 103 million variations possible with one set of 24 figures, and I don't doubt her - so it took a little planning and forethought to get everything going - you get a lot of parts!

Fifth Daughter also did a little research and worked out the proportions of hair colors and skin tones that would likely be present in a selection of these miniature ladies, assuming that we're looking at a group of Viking Era / "Vikings" TV series / "Game of Thrones" TV series mercenaries / raiders / player-characters; it turns out that it's a 4:3:2:1 ration for black, brown, blonde, and red hair. Inside that spectrum, I also worked out several different shades of each hair color.

To add to the fun, my co-workers all encompass this same spectrum, so I was able to match hair colors to skin tones all across the range - the paints I have in stock are certainly getting a workout. I, as well as the Daughters, are very happy with the result - a bunch of very fierce and determined women from a broad spectrum of humanity. And, as a result, they all look en masse like all the extras ever hired by a motion picture or television producer for their big-budget epic.

In short, my girls are happy, my Missus is happy, so I'm happy.

By the by, I was also reviewing some of my old blog posts on miniatures, and I realized that I hadn't done the one I promised on why I get the miniatures I do, and how I paint them. So, that'll be next, with photos of examples...