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...

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

There And Back Again - More From The Hoover Public Library

There was a lot of gaming going on, from a demo game being run on the theater stage to a series of RPGs being run over in the other building.

There is now an RPG group meeting regularly at the library, linked to the library's 'popular culture' section. The library has games - of all kinds! - that can be checked out and played, either in the library's rooms or at home.

The place is, as they say, just a'jumpin.

There And Back - More From Alabama

F/SF authors on the theater stage

History of RPGs panel - I learned a lot!!!

Tables with local fan groups

Some really good cosplayers, in character

The marketplace, with authors, artists, and vendors

I don't know what they've got going on down there in Alabama, but I'm back from a truly amazing weekend at the library in Hoover, Alabama, which I think is part of the Greater Birmingham metroplex. The library has a lot going on - this kind of event is something  that they seem to do a lot, with the various events themed and aimed at the very diverse users of the library. It was all very well organized and run, complete with a shuttle bus between the two buildings being used.

I barely had time to catch my breath all weekend, let alone look at their website:

I was a small part of this; I was invited down to speak and run games by some fans of Tekumel who live down there, and we managed to make it all happen in a very quick time. I did serval talks on Phil and his creation, and ran two game sessions - one with 14 players, one with six - and everyone seemed to have a good time.

There were a number of local authors on hand, and the local fan groups all seems to have shown up. Lots of good cosplayers, including half a dozen young ladies from an anime series; one of them was doing a character who habitually had a cigarette in her mouth, and I was startled to see one dangling from her lip - being a real costumer, she'd made it all street-legal with a pack of candy cigarettes. (I didn't know you could still get those, any more!)

Everyone seemed to be having as good a time as I was, and I thought that this was one of the best events I'd ever been to in the last forty years!

More photos up next!