Thursday, December 27, 2018

Out With The New! In With The Old! - 3

Yes, this is all a lot of work, and one heck of a way to spend my much-needed vacation. But, the way I look at it, it's a return to what I like in gaming, and the way we used to game back in Ye Olden Dayes when somebody would announce that they we're hosting a game at their (usually long-suffering parents') house or apartment, invite people to play, and we'd all get together for an afternoon and evening of (literally) fun and games.

I miss that 'social aspect' of gaming. I've been seeing a lot of games at the FLGS or conventions where people come in, sit down, play The Game, and then leave right afterwards.

Hospitality is also an apparently lost art. I was asked, quite seriously, at some friends' game event why I'd be handing out snacks and refreshment if a) I wasn't playing, and b) wasn't part of the group. I replied "Because this is what friends do for friends" and got a very baffled look.

So, I am very deliberately turning back the clock to a very different time and place. I'm also turning the clock forward, with the new Windows 10 machine and Skype, to bring more friends into the game room for more fun. And games. Lots and lots of games. :)


Out With The New! In With The Old! - 2

It looks pretty bad, this morning, but we're about to tip over into the easy part. And I'm on vacation for another week and a half, too!

Out With The New! In With The Old! - 1

This is what happens when you've been gaming for over forty years, and never did get around to throwing stuff out.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Third Goal Met!

My other birthday present

It's up and running. Now, The Missus will load Skype and I'll hook up the 42" screen, and we'll be on our way. This is going to be a very interesting journey.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Invisible Fat Woman, or , How Not To Make A Sale In Retail

The Missus likes 'em.

I like 'em, too.

Regular readers of this little confection may recall that my birthday comes around at this time of the year. I am now 62 years old; still alive, thankfully, after The Incident although I do have to be careful - I managed to get pretty dehydrated earlier in the week and I really suffered for it. I got back on my water rations, though, and I'm feeling a lot better this weekend.

Every year, about this time, The Missus likes to do a little shopping to get me a surprise foe my birthday. She has a little saving account that she puts money into all year, to pay for gifts over the holidays. She also keeps her eyes open for things that would be useful in our games and which might amuse our friends. This year, she's gotten me some very nifty LED lights with a remote control that will see a lot of use in our games, and she's also looking at some of the pictured buildings for our adventures in Barsoom with Dejah Thoris and John Carter.

This time of the year also sees the annual 'Jubilee Sale' at The Source Comics and Games, and for over a decade The Missus has simply loaded me up with cash and tells me to "Go Forth And Conquer!" at which I smartly mount up, ride forth, and return some hours later laden with loot and treasure. Coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, today's the day of that sale.

And, for the first time in over a decade, I won't be there supporting my FLGS like everyone says I'm supposed to. Part of it are the issues that the store is dealing with:

An even bigger part of it is the treatment that my Missus gets when she goes into game stores; she's commented more then once that she's got superpowers - she's The Invisible Fat Woman. None of the store  staff pay any attention to her, or even seem to notice her presence; which is a pity, as she's the one who makes the purchasing decisions around these parts. I proposes, she disposes, to turn a phrase. She's also noted that none of the denizens of the store, all those 'geek culture' people who are playing games or hanging out in the place, notice her either. She, perhaps unfairly, contrasts this with the outreach and engagement that she's gotten from the rare groups like the Shieldmaidens who take a moment away from their game to say hello.

And her question is: "Why should I spend my money in a place where nobody cares about me?"

The net result is that she's moving away from making her purchases at the local brick and mortar stores, and making them on-line from the people that we've dealt with over time and who have always been very supportive of her and her gaming.

I have no idea if anyone who works for or games at The Source, Dreamer's Vault, or Tower Games will ever read this blog post; I doubt it, frankly. But if you do, maybe say hello to that person who comes in your door or is standing next to your game table; you might make a sale, or get a new player for your favorite game.

EDIT / UPDATE: And an update. The manager at the Dreamer's Vault game store near where we live stepped up and dealt with my Missus yesterday in a very welcoming, polite, and intelligent manner. She was very happy with that, and he got the sale.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Second Goal Met!

The big Mac in action...

A major goal for us has now been met; the One True manuscript of "To Serve The Petal Throne" is now resident in the big 'billboard' Mac. Automatic back-up software in place, and we're on the way to finishing the book.


Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Dragon And The Flame - My Campaign Is Up and Running

A work in progress...

Things are starting to return to what passes for normal around here. The new furnace is working fine, all the permits and inspections are done, and I'm finally getting back to all the various projects that have been hanging fire around the house. The Missus has even worked out how to get the van running when she needs is, with a hair-dryer and a jump-start pack. She did slip and fall the other day, bashing up her face on the sidewalk, but she's doing all right. (I was scared witless, myself.)

We are embarking on some very major changes around here, centered around my on-going Tekumel campaign. Named the "Dragon and the Flame", it now has two sections of players running on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, with a possible third section in the works. I am very pleased at the respinse I've gotten from people about playing in phil's world, and I'm having an immense amount of fun running and playing in the campaign. More on this can be found on my forum,

I've been hearing all about how the Google+ platform is being closed by Google, and I am not sure that it will affect me or my gaming much if at all. If Blogger, the platform that this blog is on, also is closed, I suspect I may move over to either Wordpress or entirely to the forum. Either way, I will try to keep people posted.

However, I suspect I'll be putting more effort into what's going on here at the Workbench. We've taken delivery of a new Windows 10 machine, that will give us access to Skype and other on-line video platforms. The game room and lounge are being torn apart and redone, partly to improve the place, but also to allow for better teleconference facilities. Besides the Skype equipment, which will be on-line in less then two months (after I move all the furniture) we'll also have the video shoot built with will give us better upgrades and programming for my YouTube channel.

So, this blog will continue, but we'll have a lot more going on for everyone to see and participate in.

My goal, which is already happening, is to be 'open' for people every Sunday; either to come and play, or to call in and talk to me and whomever might be here. We should be able to have our goal of 'remote gaming' happen, too, and I'm really looking forward to that happening as well. I'll keep everyone posted, of course.

So, lots and lots of changes happening over the holidays, and lots of possibilities coming to pass!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

"Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent..."

"Zhodi", after my son-in-law

"... Made Glorious By The Summer Sun Of Ray N. Welter Heating And Cooling..."

To misquote one W. Shakespeare, writing dialog for a guy who ended up getting a pole-axe in the back of his head and then winding up under a car park.

Our wonderful contractor has been in and gotten the new furnace and central air conditioning installed; the tech crew will be back in tomorrow to finish the electrical work and deal with a leaking valve. It has been a long cold month; while the first part of October wasn't too bad, the latter part and this month have been a grim race to the bottom of the thermometer and a struggle to keep the house above +55F so the pipes wouldn't freeze. if they had, we'd have had to write off the house and move out.

But, that has now been averted. The basement looks like a junkyard, a all the stuff I've been hoarding for the past thirty years had to be moved out of the crew's way. Luckily, I have the four-day holiday weekend coming up, and I should be able to get the mess all sorted before the gamers arrive this coming Sunday.

A lot of the stuff is simply scrap lumber. Both my neighbors have those ceramic pot kind of outdoor fireplaces, so I suspect I'll chop up the stuff for them to use this coming summer. The rest of the mess is old gear, so it'll get tested and sorted out; much of it still has the old tags from when it was last used, back in 1997.

I've also begun demolition in the game room proper, as we get ready for the big move at the end of December. The idea is to address the concerns that people have had over the way the space is laid out; when I redid the game room a few years back, it was after the death of my old campaign - and, to be honest, I never expected to be running a big campaign with a lot of players ever again.

Well, never say never again. The 'Sword And The Flame' has not one but two game groups, and is going from strength to strength. The associated forum, '' is also steaming right along, and I am also very pleased with that.

The basic idea for the move is to put the lounge where the game room is now, and the game room where the lounge is. This will get us a lot more space around the game table, allow for better and more shelves for the miniatures, allow for better and more shelves for the books, and more display space on the walls for maps and art. It'll also allow us to do real 'theater-style' seating for the 52" screen; the 42" plasma will go in the new game room on the wall - I have lots of mounting hardare! - and then be the dis play for our Skype and other ways for people to remote in for games. We had our first remote player at the last Fourth Sunday game session; she was on her way home from Chicago, and remoted in via one of the other player's tablet.

It was very, very cool and a lot of fun hovering the tablet around the table; I think she had a better view then we did.

So, while I'm going to have to do a lot of hard work, I think it'll be worth it. And it's warm in the house, too...

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

From The Missus: "Don't be such a grumpy old man, Chirine."

The 'flames' are molded in clear plastic, on my samples...

And these have seven colors, you say?

It is that time of the year when The Missus send me forth to see what the holiday sales might bring us. This year, it's a third and fourth 'electric radiator' space heater to get us through the cold we're currently having while the the funding and installation of the new heating plant happens, but it's not all doom, gloom, cold, and vans that won't start. (Yes, we're dealing with that again tonight. The street's being swept, and we don't need a ticket and getting towed.)

Back in my youth, lighting effects in models were based on 'grain of wheat' and 'grain of rice' lamps; these were, it should be noted, hard to get and expensive; they were also a paun to wire up and power. These days, I am happy to say, it's a lot easier with the advent of LEDs and LED packages like these tea lights or the IKEA half-domes that I'm fond of using as lanterns on the game table.

When I first saw the WizKids sets of big braziers, all I could think of were those Technicolor epics we used to watch on Saturday afternoons when the local stations had nothing else to run. They were always running at full speed in the throne room scenes, and were always being knocked over or thrown around to create really neat spacial effects in the epic fight scenes.

Well, you know, I do like those epic swashbucklers, so I got four of these models for doing the same thing. And, since the 'flames' are molded in clear plastic, I reached for the cordless drill and put a tidy hole for an LED into the bottom of each bowl of flaming oil or red-hot coals or what ever the studio put in the things.

Then, I found a set of five LED tea lights that change colors automatically, and are pretty bright. Just the thing for those magical flames that movie sorcerers seem to prefer - I do wonder where they get them; probably from their version of people like me, I suppose - and so there we are! A little something for our miniature adventures... :)

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Month In Review - Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned - The Weekly Update - Sunday, November 4th, 2018

The big Mac is back!

Well. It certainly has been an 'interesting' month. It's been cold; we are still in the process of getting the funding for and installation of a new furnace, and so we've been getting by on the fleet of space heaters for the past month. I can get warm at work - something about that nice warm boiler room I look after - but The Missus has had to contend with the house being at most +68F all day. She's holding up, but I do worry about her. With luck, we'll have the new furnace in by Thanksgiving.

The campaign has been going very well. Both sets of players have been 'bedding in' to Tekumel quite nicely, learning about the world-setting while they engage in sundry adventures. The over-arching meta-game has also been nicely advanced with all kinds of Plot Developments being generated by the players.

And speaking of plots, my beloved old 'billboard' Mac is back in service. The Missus, bless her, was able to find it a new power supply, and has installed both that and original Tekumel hard drive to bring it back on line for my writing. She'll shortly be moving The One True "To Serve The Petal Throne" over from my MacBook that I used for Internet things, and I'll be back at writing by the end of the week.


This machine will still serve as my 'Internet terminal', to use an 'old folks term'; it's located in what's now my 'campaign management workstation' here in our home office. There's even a whiteboard calendar to keep track of dates, and everything I need to manage the campaign and the two game groups. We're gaming here at the house twice a month, and having open houses in between game sessions, so we're becomeing a sort of 'community center' for people interested in he kind of gaming that I do as well s Phil's creation.

So far, so good.

The downside of this past month, aside from the cold, has been the news coming out of both local gaming and national fandom. If I may, here are some links that may help enlighten folks on what's been affecting our lives lately:

As regular readers of this blog will recall, I have very strong opinions about this sort of thing. (Please see also: for a previous post of mine on this.) I am appalled by all of this, especially since so many of my friends and people that I know are involved.

I do not claim to be any sort of 'politically correct' person or gamer - I've been denounced by some of the local 'Social Justice Warriors' for persecuting gays, oppressing women, and assorted other high crimes and misdemeanors in my games and in my life. In fairness, I've also been accused of the opposite all across the board, so I think I'm treading a middle-of-the-road path as both sides of the 'Culture Wars' have told me of the error of my ways.

"My, oh, my!" as Fourth Daughter would say.

So it goes; I worry about pleasing The Missus, and our friends. Beyond that, it seems, I can please no one; so, I think I shall exercise patience and that Third Option.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Screams Of Glee And Terror - Three

They kept on moving...

... through dimly lit passages...

... leaving a lot of mayhem behind.

It just does not get any better then this, if you ask me. Everybody had fun, there was a lot of mayhem and looting, and Sundry Mysteries uncovered.

I thought that the skeletal hands were very useful for moving the miniatures in the Underworld. The vertical extender went over well, and watching the players working in three dimensions was a treat. One player even came in remotely, which was both entertaining and instructive.

And we stuffed out faces, too; the potluck was a roaring success!

And Phil even played a part; I put his music tape on - the chanting, of course - just like he'd done for us on that Halloween all those years ago.

Screams Of Glee And Terror - Two

The source of the mystic chanting is discovered...

... and promptly disposed of.

The Cat, being a cat, rushes in where angels fear to tread

To the extreme consternation of her 'minder'

Screams Of Glee And Terror - One

The party arrives at the bottom of the air shaft, and looks around.

They discover that they are not alone...

.and cut loose with the heavy weapon, the Cat

Having disposed of the guards, they move on to the looting

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Ready For Tomorrow's Game!

Overview of the game table

What the players are seeing

The game opens where the previous game session ended, with the Sacred Cat doing a cat thing and jumping through an open door. The rest of the party, scenting trouble (and a whiff of Ancient Evil), are in hot pursuit.

Mayhem will, especially with this lot, ensue. I think Phil's going to get a lot of laughs out of this one...

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Progress On All Fronts - Part Two

I have uses for these tiny lights.

We still don't have a new furnace, but we do have a brand new 'electric radiator' space heater that has all sorts of complicated controls. It's a 'smart' heater, and regulates itself as to temperature and power use. It's perfect for The Missus, as she doesn't have to monitor the thing constantly to get the most efficient use out of it. The smaller of our two 'manual' versions of this unit is now upstairs, to take the chill off our living quarters, and the larger is now in the game room to take the chill off that space. We also have three smaller ceramic/forced air heaters, which we use as 'point sources' for smaller area like the game room's little bathroom.

We still have to get all the paperwork done, and so it'll be a couple more weeks of life on the back-up for us until the new furnace is up and running. There's a possibility of getting central air conditioning at the same time, which will be a blessing for The Missus come next summer.

I was out doing a little shopping this past week, ahead of the game on Sunday, but it wasn't a very rewarding retail experience. My usual source of Halloween-themed stuff was pretty picked over, and this year's offerings were just the far said of 'too morbid' for my taste; nothing funny. I did get four strings of tiny battery-powered LED lights, for which I have uses, and some nice gauzy drapes for the vertical extender of the game table. I'm wanting to keep the Underworld we'll be exploring on Sunday a little concealed from the players until The Big Reveal, and I'm hoping that these will do the job.

Nothing at the usual big-box pet stores, either. Lots of driftwood and rocks, but I already have as much of that kind of scenery as I'll ever need. Nothing to see, so I moved on.

my last hope was a shop owned by an old friend, where I had hoped to find a suitable and impressive statue for the Temple of Mretten. The shop has gone very upscale, which I am glad for as I like the owner quite a lot, but the very posh young man behind the counter looked right through me while I was in the shop; I do not fit the profile of the customers that they want to have, it seems.

Not 'fitting the profile' has been an issue for me for a while. I once had an incident at the FLGS when I was buying some 'name-brand' miniatures, and the young man behind the counter was absolutely baffled when he discovered that I did not play the game that the figures had been produced for. "Why are you buying these, if you don't play the game?" was his plaintive wail of befuddlement; the other young man behind the counter then jumped in with his observation of Yours Truly: "He's really weird. He runs games, but doesn't play them." Well, I thought, all right; do you want my money or not? I did mention this little encounter to the owner of the place, and he allowed that any time I wanted to spend money in his establishment I was certainly welcome to do so.

So it goes, I guess. The lights also glow purple, on the second setting, and alternately blink both the nice warm lights and the purple ones on setting #3. I can think of uses for that, too... :)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Progress On All Fronts - Part One - Sunday, October 21st, 2018 - The Weekly Update

The Usual Suspects from the Fourth Sunday Group

All sorts of news, this time around, and everything that has been keeping me off-line for the past weeks.

The furnace repair people were in last week, and after three days of struggle finally declared our thirty-year-old furnace was a goner - bad heat exchanger - and as they can't get parts for the thing anymore we're getting a new furnace. So, all the stuff in the workshop had to get moved yesterday and today, as the people giving us the quote and scheduling the work need access to the area tomorrow morning. As just about everything is on casters, it wasn't much strain on my tired old back and we're food until the coming weekend. Everything rolls back for the Halloween game, and we'll have both room and heat for the same.

Had a very pleasant 'open day' today; one of the 'global moderators' for my forum dropped by and worked on the thing while I painted up the personality figures for next Sunday's game. From left to right, we have:

The Felinoid Rogue - a visitor from Someplace Else, and a PC from June's 'Free RPG Day" game

The Crossbow Officer - a 'native' PC, rolled up in D&D 5E, likes glaives

The Nlyss Warrior - another 'native', hired for his fighting skills'

The Tinalya - smart as all get out, on a natural '00', and a very well-played PC

The Nylss Warrior Woman - one of the very best chracters I have ever seen rolled up, has negative social skills - thus a perfect Nlyss - and with a name like Murr Dir Oboe is perfect for the part. I ask you: hat could possibly go wrong?

The Archer Officer - another Tsolyani ex-pat hired on by the Legion

The Sacred Cat of Bast - another one of the visitors from Someplace Else, and a PC from June's 'Free RPG Day" game who is played with utter purrfection

The Priestess of Bast - another one of the visitors from Someplace Else, and a PC from June's 'Free RPG Day" game who is supposedly the 'minder' of The Cat. You can guess how well that's working out.

The Dragonborn - a mercenary brought by dear old Captain Harchar from Someplace Else, and who threw Lord Chirine for a loop - who's he named after, remember? (The player swears she didn't remember the reference.) Hired for sheer impressiveness, and the stats are really good as well.

The Fremen Assassin - We get all kinds around the palace, and this is one of the visitors from Someplace Else, and a PC from June's 'Free RPG Day" game. The blue eyes went over really, really well with the Temple of Mretten, by the way.

The game sessions are running quite well, with the party heading into Dire Peril underneath the Temple of Mretten for the Halloween game. I suspect mayhem will ensue, and I'm looking forward to building this game board.

Heh, heh, heh... :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

We're Still Here...

Phil would have approved, I think...

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

- A quote from the only person to have: a) been the President of the United States; b) won the Nobel Peace Prize; and  c) to have been awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery on the field of battle. We could do no worse by following his example.

We are still here.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Week In Review - Bad, Horrid, And Good - Weekly Update - October 6th, 2018

We're having a rotten week, here at the Workbench.

On Wednesday, we got the news that both Janet's parents have been diagnosed with brain aneurysms, and that because it's a genetic thing she's also at risk for one. Her doctors have theorized that what they thought was the Bell's Palsy that cost her the use of the left side of her face may actually have been a small stroke caused by an aneurysm. It's very worrisome, as a number of her relatives have died from what were thought to be strokes.

On Thursday, the electric power drop to the house came apart, and I had to come home early to deal with the power company and the fire department - we did get power back after four in the morning, but it made for a very long night.

On Friday, the house's furnace failed, and we will not see a repair person until October 16th. We're limping along on our back-up heaters, with a back-up to the back-ups waiting in the wings.

I also chipped a tooth, that night.

So; let's have some good news:

Tim Erickson, of TRE Games, has done some new furniture, pictured above. Just the thing for the busy office, and for those curious player-characters  to have a peek into.

Why 'peek into'?

Because - and you may want to be sitting down for this - all three have working drawers. Let me say that again: working drawers. Regular readers of this little confection will be aware that I like miniature stuff, and to me this is right up their with treasure chests and crates that can be opened. All sorts of possibilities occur to me - and Tim has been kind enough to include a sheet of maps or papers as appropriate to each item of furniture.

The mind of a gamer like me boggles at the though and at the possibilities. Now, all I have to do is hand the players a set of my dental picks when they want to open some drawers...

Mayhem will ensue. Positively, absolutely.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A Pause For Reflection, After Hearing About Duke's Passing...

Still here; still breathing.

I'm in the midst of a pause to reflect on my gaming, and my life in the hobby. Duke was one of the greatest of all miniatures gamers, and he was an inspiration to me for many years. I still like to run the big, multi-player games; I run them like the good Major's 'Braunstein', but at least I still run them.

And people seem to like them; I usually get a good turn-out, and a great game once the players realize that this is what's called, these days, 'open sandbox play'.

With the turn of the month, we're heading into what's going to be a busy schedule of gaming for me. The even-numbered Sundays will be the game days for the two groups, and the odd-numbered days 'open house' days for people to drop by if they wish and do everything from painting figures to small skirmishes. I think it'll help me, by keeping me in focus, and I'm looking forward to it all. And, if there's a fifth Sunday in the month, I get a day off... :)

Gaming, from my point of view, ha really changed over the past forty years. With this new campaign and game group, I am going back to my roots in gaming to those days at Conflict Simulation Association meetings, where the game was the ting and laughter the rule of the day. We played anything and everything, and I'm headed back into that way of looking at games.

I am usually assumed to be playing / running Tekumel, which has occasioned some confusion when I buy things like my three regiments of Zulus. I do game in other periods, and I may do a little reporting on that in the future. My Ancient Egyptian efforts have spawned some interest, so why not the other Ancient's that I dabble in from time to time?

I'm gonna miss Duke. Hadn't talked to him in years, but I'll always treasure the times I have with him at conventions. Still got some of his paints, too, and still using them...

Monday, October 1, 2018

Great News, Sad News - The Weekly Update - September 30th, 2018

From the 'Lost Minis' wiki, which you should look at...

This will be a series of very short takes; I've had  a very long week.

First, the sad news: Duke Siegfried passed away yesterday. He's one of those people I grew up with in the gaming hobby, and he'll be missed. A lot.

Second, the great news:

(1) Dr. Amina Inloes, of the Islamic College in London, as had her paper on Prof. Barker, Tekumel, and Islam published. I will provide a link as soon as I can get one.

(2) The folks at Ral Partha are having a Kickstarter to get more vintage miniatures back into production. See the news at

(3) Dr, Mike Burns at Dark Fable Miniatures (see link to the right) is having a sale on selected set after his latest Kickstarter funded quite successfully. The Missus backed this, as she usually does, and we'll soon have new figures on the way.

(4) There's a major audio documentary about Prof. Barker and Tekumel in the works, being done with the cooperation of Michael Mornard - better known as Kerdu Mnashu Korunme hi Chaishyani, Mnashu of Thri'il. More on this as I get it, of course...

In other news, we're in the midst of getting the house ready for winter; I hauled the air conditioners in today, and got a lot of other heavy lifting done throughout this past week. I think the results will be worth it, especially for the gaming groups, but I'm pretty tired out.

Lots more to come!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Fiberglass People & The 'X' Card IN RPGs - the Weekly Update - Monday, September 17th, 2018

Some of what I've been moving around...

The new card rack by the game table...

The renovations in the game room and lounge continue; I have four days of vacation this week, and I'm slowly starting to get caught up on all the things I've been wanting to do in the basement and around the house. Lots of other stuff going on, and I'll have more news later on.

The furniture has all been moved, and the space created has been used to get some of the costume collection on the mannequins organized so that they take up less of a footprint in the game lounge.

(Yes, that's sort of a a joke about all the fiberglass feet I've been dealing with.)

Six of the currently displayed costumes are now along the shelves on the south wall, with The Missus' Ksarul armor holding the fort on the west wall, on the opposite end of the buffet table from dear old Chirine. Mannequins in armor are a right royal pain to move, even on the nylon furniture sliders I have on their base, because they are very top-heavy and not at all well-balanced. Four of our fiberglass people are in storage, simply for lack of display space.

And in a very unexpected development, one of the mannequins we got this past year as part of a bulk lot and which was  missing her right arm, had it found by the folks we'd bought the set from; so, we now have a new costume to build. Given the bales of sari fabric sent to us from Europe by Fourth Daughter and the new bales from The Missus, I think we can manage...

One of the new features of the game room proper is a rack by the corner of the table with sets of green, yellow, and red cards. This is a development of the 'X card' that has been talked about in various on-line gaming circles, with some pretty wildly varying opinions. Some people seem to have the opinion that these kinds of cards are an infringement on their creativity and are a form of censorship.

I disagree. I look at them as a backstop / insurance policy for my games. Tekumel has, shall we say, a bit of a 'reputation' for having 'mature themes' present in the world setting. That may be true, especially in the context of the 1975 publishing era, but these days 'lesbian' is not a foreign word for most gamers. So, I don't think that a lot of the 'edgy', 'adult content' we first saw in EPT will be all that difficult for modern gamers.

Do I think these cards will be needed?

No, I don't; back in Ye Olden Dayes, our play style was a lot different then what I see on-line and in the FLGS. I've seen games where I have seriously wondered if I'm old enough to be listening to that particular game session, or wondered why the subject matter would even come up at the table - or, for that matter, what ever happened to 'good taste'.

I didn't game that way, we didn't game that way out at Phil's, and my new group will not be gaming that way in our adventures. This is all about a bunch of friends sitting around a table having fun, and this ancient dinosaur thinks that it's only polite to have this kind of back-up at the table for my friends.

I'll let you know how it all works out, of course.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Reconstructing The Game Room - to handle the crowds!

A little reconstruction is going on...

This may not be the longest update that I've done, but it's possibly of interest to people. We tested some of the PCs we have in the game room yesterday, as we gear up for video calls via Skype or Google hangouts. The second-hand Dell failed to power up, but the equally second-hand Hewlett-Packard did, and we were able to test the camera that we got with the Dell.  Speed was slow, due to the USB port in the HP being not the high-speed one that the camera prefers, but so it goes; we have a tech on call to look at the Dell. Either way, things are moving forward.

I've been doing a bit of thinking - you can hear the gears clashing - and we're going to have a week off a week from today to get a lot of the domestic 'to-do' list done in time for winter. We're finally getting out to the garden sheds to clean up the wreckage from several month's solid game sessions, and getting the workshop finally cleaned up after a decade of 'mend-and-make-do'; the goal is to get it cleared out enough to be able to have guests in there to work on things. This stems from a request from various members of the new game group to have a place to work, on the nights when we don't have enough people t play and nobody wants to watch a movie.

However, since I do have a spare 52" plasma screen, we'll mount that on the wall in the workshop so we can have our painting nights and our movies too. The spare 42" LCD will stay as our 'mobile reserve', as it is the lightest of all our big screens and was originally bought for use at conventions.

Speaking of which, in a surprise move The Missus is getting her own vehicle - a mid-size pick-up truck. She likes these, and her brother has a spare that she's getting. This means that the elderly Astro, with it's 339,000 (!) miles on the odometer, will revert to being my cargo vehicle and kept in reserve for possible convention trips. It will, as we've noted in these pages, not be our main transport - the Bug and the new pick-up will be - but the van is paid for and all we have to do is keep the insurance paid for the and the oil topped up. It does run reliably, these days, and we'll keep it around for as long as we can.

In other news, TRE Games has some new 28mm kits of Japanese buildings and bridges, and we are sorely tempted to add to our urban collection with these. I usually associate Tekumel with more Middle Eastern styles of architecture, but we shall see if we can't get some research done in the archives; Phil once remarked that the Salarvyani like a more ornate and complex style, so maybe there's hope yet. The kits are really nice.

That's what I have tonight; more later...

Monday, September 3, 2018

Dear Phil: You Are Not Going to Believe This! - The Weekly Update - Monday, September 3rd, 2018

Guests at my 25th Birthday party

Dear Phil,

It's been an amazing month since I got back from Alabama. I talked about you and your creation from the time I got in to the time I left, and the response from people was simply amazing. Just like what happened at the 'Free RPG Day' event, folks were utterly fascinated by your world and wanted to know as much about it as they could. Your novels are enjoying a revival, and I'm very pleased by that; so are used book dealers, who are having to ship your novels out as fast as they can find them. All to the good, I say! I'm being asked about the Subtle Hints and Easter Eggs you left, and it's been a lot of fun telling people about our adventures.

The players in the 'Free RPG Day' game asked me to run a Tekumel-based campaign for them, and we've gotten that set up. Much to my astonishment, I've gotten interest from a lot more people then the basement can hold - shades of our days around your Ping-Pong ball table! - and so I've opened up a 'second front' for the campaign on a different day. I'm back my mu old 'week on, week off' schedule of game sessions and build sessions, and I am really looking forward to this - I've always worked better and more productively on a tighter turn-around like this, and I'm already seen a massive increase in my own productivity. The Missus is also enjoying it, as she now gets to demonstrate her perfections as a hostess, and she loves that the house is once again full of life and laughter.

You'd love Waffle The Wonder Dog, Phil, as she's every bit the complete and utter ham that Anubis The Wonder Dog was during our game sessions and a worthy successor to the title.

I'll be continuing this blog, as a way of talking about the more complex and recondite subjects - I still have to get our version of Gary's 'Appendix N' up, as an example, but I think you'll be both happy and amazed that people looking in at this little confection about the games we played have tripled; I came back from Alabama to find that we'd had over 650 hits on that Sunday, and we're still over 200 a day.

The threads on the RPGsite forum, I should mention, collected over 910,000 views in the two years we were on there, and went to something like 900 pages of posts and replies.

The new forum, , has really taken off; in the month that it's been up,  we've been getting an average of over 500 'views' a day, and almost forty people have become members on the forum. I'm amazed by that, as it's all been by word-of-mouth, and I think it shows that your creation still has the power to amaze and fascinate people. I am, I think, pretty sure it isn't my doing, as I think that the excellence of your work speaks for itself and is what is carrying us along.

Me(as I used to say), I just paint the figures. Which have also been pretty wonderful. Howard and The Tekumel Project keeps going from strength to strength, and The Missus keeps finding figures that she is pretty sure you'd like - the new ones from Dark Fable reminded her of you, as the lovely little dancing girl who's one of the stretch goals is the twin sister of the dancer you carved something like sixty years ago.

Life is busy, Phil, but you and your creation are being appreciated a whole lot more then may have been the case in the past.

The Flame Lives, Phil, and we'll keep doing our best to keep it burning.

- chirine

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Thing Has Legs! - Friday, August 24th, 2018 - The (Delayed) Weekly Update

Art by Jaime Jasso, I think, and really good!
I am really late with this week's update, for which I hope you'll all forgive me. The new forum is really picking up steam, and so is the newly-revived RPG campaign.

First off, a couple of house-keeping announcements:

Bob Meyer (who inherited Dave Arneson's original Blackmoor campaign and runs an annual game for the original Blackmoor players) was kind enough to drop by the 'Free RPG Day' event, and offered a comment or two on the game. His comments, along with Griffith Morgan's, are on the latter's blog for his documentary about Dave, "Secrets of Blackmoor":

Gosh. Thank you, gents; we try. :)

Howard Fielding, of The Tekumel Project, reports that Dr. Mike Burns of Dark Fable Miniatures has a new Kickstarter campaign up, with some new miniatures that are very handy for us Tekumel - and Braunstein! - types:

The Missus has already made her selections, and I'll soon see some new figures on the Workbench. And, of course, please use the link in the opposite column to visit Howard's blogs and see what he's up to - you'll be amazed and amused!

The new forum, , has really taken off and really helped reduce my workload. I'm using the forum to run the day-to-day questions and answers that I get; this blog will continue, and serve as the platform for more in-depth and philosophical musings. As my work week is pretty fixed and stable, it looks like my Saturdays will normally be my 'domestic chores' day and Sundays will be my 'gaming day' - with a lot of writing thrown in. The new game group will be meeting on the Fourth Sunday of each month, in the evening, and that means I'll be back to a regular schedule of working like a fiend between game sessions on miniatures and doing a lot more writing. I used to do this with the old campaign, but on a two-week turnaround cycle, and those were some of the most productive years of my life.

The new campaign, in conjunction with the trip to Alabama, has really jump-started my gaming again. I've had a run of very good gaming of late, and I've really been enjoying getting out into the world and both running games and building games. I was very surprised to be asked to run a new campaign after the 'RPG Day' event; I've been even more surprised at the way the notion of going off and having adventures in Phil's work, in the way we did back in the day, has hit a very responsive chord with an astounding number of Twin Cities gamers. We're going to have a full house on Sunday, and I'm really pleased with that.

To add to my delight, two of my daughters and one of my sons-in-law will also be there, playing their characters from my previous Tekumel game group, so we'll have the kind of historical continuity that I am so very fond of. The campaign - given the personalities of the players! - promises to be absolutely, positively epic.

Reports to follow...

Saturday, August 11, 2018

And So It Begins - My Tekumel Campaign, Restarted - Saturday, August 11th, 2018 - The Weekly Update

Phil 'suggested' I get a copy...

The 'campaign prospectus' I've been handing out to people who played in my 'Free RPG Day' game and selected others - and posted on the 'Pages' section, for your amusement - has now attracted enough players that we're above the minimum number of people that I feel enables a good group dynamic to form. And also allows for people who can't make it to games, and for the casualties that the party is likely to suffer; it's always good to have somebody left to carry the wounded back home for the Temple of Avanthe to have a look at. (It's a regular trauma ward, there.)

I'm in the process of unpacking all of the game supplies that have been seeing action over the past couple of months, and getting the game room ready for guests. The thought amongst the players is that we'll be gaming once each month, on Sunday afternoons / evenings about five and going until nine sharp as people have to get to work and school the next day. This will allow for dinner to be served before the game starts, too, which we think is A Good Idea.

I'm also spinning up the meta-campaign, getting all of Phil's NPCs and PCs sorted using my copy of his 1,500+ index cards; it's a lot easier to be running Tony Bath's campaign rules like Phil did on the computer, where one can simply push the 'GO!' button every month and watch the mayhem occur. I got the meta-campaign back up to speed manually in June, for 'Free RPG Day', and the thing runs itself like it always did - adding Dave Arneson's merchant shipping sub-routine was a snap, and I'll look forward to seeing what adventures that generates.

To help with the communications with the players and spectators, as well as relieve some issues with server congestion, I've established a new forum:

I find that I really like the 'question and answer' format, and this blog does not seem to be a very good platform for that kind of thing. The 'Questioning Chirine ba Kal' threads seemed to be pretty popular, as these things go, but at 911 pages,  9,098 posts, and over 911,967 views the thing was actually slowing down the RPGsite server. So, if you have any questions about what I do, or what we did out at Phil's from 1976 to 1988, please feel free to drop by and join in.

This blog will be continuing; I will be continuing to use it to let people know what I'm doing and how I'm doing it, with an emphasis on longer and more useful essays and reports. And more photos as well, and we'll be adding to the YouTube channel as time permits.

So, a lot of things happening all at once, and more people discovering Phil's creation!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Something Very, Very Cool Happened Today...

I laughed until I cried...

Something really nice and very, very cool happened today. As you,- my Patient Readers - are aware, I've been booked solid for the past couple of months providing scenery, terrain, and refreshments to the amazing people who make up the Shieldmaiden Sundays game group at The Source. Yes, it's been a lot of sweat and effort, but it's all been worth it seeing the looks on their faces and their laughter when they see the game tables that I've been able to build for them to adventure in and on.

That's what gaming is all about for me, and has been for the past four decades; a bunch of friends, gathered around a table and laughing their heads off.

Like in our original Thursday Night Group out at Prof. Barker's, back in the 1980s, this group has some very gifted artists in it. Today, I got a gift from one of them, Chandra Reyer, as a 'thank-you' for helping them out with their adventures.

Visitors to the Workbench have remarked, over the years, at the profusion of pink (and other colors, eventually) plastic flamingos on the lawn, fluttering from banners, and filling the shelves in the game room's Chamber of the Laughing Waters. Yes, there are a lot of them, including the barware and buffet flatware we have in the Game Lounge.

A long time ago, Kathy Marshall did a wonderful painting of Chirine and Si N'te as Gordon R. Dickson and Poul Anderson's Hokas. It has center place on the wall of paintings in the game lounge, and will now have a companion in Chandra's wonderful painting of Chirine The Flamingo Warrior.

Over the decades, I've managed to collect a few awards and 'thank-you' notes; this one is a very special one for me, and I am both very pleased and very humbled to have earned this one.

You're very welcome, Shieldmaidens, all of you.

Of Krakens, Leviathans, And Sundry Other Monsters - The Shieldmaidens And Their Final Battle - But The Saga Continues!

Logo by Chandra Reyer
Yes, there was cake; flamingoes had been requested, sooo...

The working Maelstrom, with blue lights

The very brave Bard goes after the Kraken (!!!)

Assorted other monsters were dealt with, as well...
This game session, today, was a little bittersweet. It marks the first anniversary of the founding of the Shieldmaidens' Sunday group at The Source, and the one-year mark of this campaign. I was asked to "do something a little special, with flamingoes, please", so I did. I got to the store early, git the table all set with the help of the group, and then got the buffet table set - a cake had been baked, and I provided the usual refreshments. The Source also weighed in, with 'drinks on the house' for the Shieldmaidens all round. (Which I thought was very kind of them!)

The game session was a very hard-fought battle between the party and a whole lot of very powerful sea monsters; about half of the party got pretty badly mangled in the fight, and I thought for quite a while that it was going to be a Total Party Kill, especially when the Leviathan showed up - to great screams of terror and glee, as the GM had put quite a lot of effort into the build-up before the reveal of the actual monster.

What astonished me was that the party rebounded from their near-extermination; they fought back hard, and despite the GM rolling some of the hottest dice I'd seen in years, pulled off what I realized was a brilliant fighting withdrawal that got the party out of the water. And, nobody got left behind; all of the casualties were rescued, sometimes in the teeth of the attacking monsters (literally, in at least one case), and they all made it out. I was both amazed and astounded at how well this game was played, and how well the GM managed to keep out in front of some really good and determined players.

I mentioned that this was a little bittersweet; that's because with the party now off recuperating from this battle, this particular adventure is now done. My time as their stagehand for this adventure is over, and the theater is dark. I've gotten everything back into the basement to be sorted into the tubs, and the little lit turntable we used for the Maelstrom will be stored as well.

For the next time, when the Saga of the Shieldmaidens continues...