Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Watching The World Go By; Thoughts And Observations

My miniature alter ego and his deck chair, circa 1978

A couple of regular readers have asked what prompted yesterday's 'Open Letter'; It's the result of the proverbial 'straw that broke the camel's back', after some years - decades, really - of getting grief for what I believe in and what I've done over time. As a certain sailor that I grew up with used to say, "I've had all I can stands, and I can't stands no more!"

I've been watching the discussion that's been going on, over on Google+, and I'd like to suggest that anyone interested in gaming scroll through the comments to the one from Chgowiz about not really looking at blogs any more; I agree with him, but what I really want people to read - and absorb! - is his philosophy of gaming. It's the very best description of what people did back in the dawn of the hobby, and what I treasure in gaming.

So, 'on getting grief from people', and why I'm such a cranky old codger; let's look at a few of the straws that the poor old camel has accumulated, over the years...

Back before I married The Missus, I had a girlfriend. We had a pretty good relationship, but one of the biggest reasons why it foundered was the very negative reaction to our skin colors. We were what used to be called a 'salt-and-pepper couple', and quite a few of the people we met in the course of our lives had quite negative things to say about the two of us because of that. Later on, quite a few people - some of the same ones, too - objected to The Missus, as they felt she wasn't a suitable match for Yours Truly. (We've been together now for some thirty years.) So much for the vaunted 'Minnesota Nice'.

Regular readers will recall that I have five daughters, all of whom were adopted and each under their individual terms and conditions; we chose to be a family, and my kids are from all across every possible range of every possible spectrum. The Missus and I accepted them for who they are, not what they are, and we got a lot of grief from people we knew for doing so. My least favorite quote from a now-former friend: "Why do you spend so much time with them? They aren't your real kids, you know!"

I use miniatures in RPG games. This is, I gather, some sort of Dire Heresy. And, to make it worse, I still play the games that I played back in the day, and don't play the hottest newest thing in the business. I am, I am told, Not A Serious Gamer both for this and for using plastic figures in games that are Not Serious Games Played By Serious Gamers As Part Of A Serious Game Group.

I'm told that I oppress gays in my games, and that Prof. Barker oppressed gays in his games because he was a devout Muslim. This is news to both myself and many of Phil's gamers, as we never saw anything of the sort. I did go back and check the notes, transcripts, and audio tapes of both his and my game sessions, and I can't find anything of the sort.

I'm told that I oppress pagans, by making them game with evangelical Christians. Again, this is news to me; I don't ask what beliefs people hold when they game with me.

I'm told that I hate women and that I repress them. Back when I ran a production crew, I hired the best people I could find. It turned out that over half of them were women, and they were some of the very best technicians I ever worked with. I got a lot of grief from (male) people for doing this, which still baffles me.

I'm told that my blog is "A detriment to our business interests", and that "You need to be silenced"; one OSR publisher who told me that did so in an e-mail, following it up with a bribe; if I would submit any blog or forum posts to them for them to edit, they'd gave me trips to Gary Con and North Texas RPG Con. I declined to submit to their censorship, as I prefer to stay independent; if you look at my reviews of stuff, you'll note that I pay for what I get - no freebies. I am beholden to nobody, and I like it that way.

When I started doing this blog, years ago, all I intended was having a small corner of the Internet where I could tell you about the fun we had out at Phil's, and show you my miniatures. That's what it will continue to be, and if you can take away anything to use in your games from it, then I am happy. If you don't, that's just as fine with me, and I hope that you have fun with whatever games you play.

I haven't been enjoying the 5th Edition game I've been in until recently, when I got do have some of my kind of fun by doing miniature figures for all my fellow PCs. I really enjoyed their reactions; it made getting reamed a new one by a 5e Expert for dragging the party down by not being an expert in the rules of having a laptop / tablet / smart phone with the right apps on it for managing my own PC and being told that I should not be playing in the game because of this. "Okay," I said, "If I'm ruining the game for you, I'm out." I handed my character sheet to the GM, and that - I thought - was that. Later, the GM apologized, and the group asked me back; I thought that pretty decent of them, and so I'm enjoying some fun with some new friends.

And that, for me, is what gaming is all about. And what this blog with continue to be all about, if I have anything to say about it.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy this little effort.

An Open Letter To Mike Mearls at Wizards of the Coast...



Dear Mr. Mearls:

I am writing in response to a number of Twitter posts I've seen go by on the Internet from you, and in response to the whooping and hollering on the Internet that seems to have resulted from them.

I doubt that you know me, or know of this little blog. By way of an introduction, until very recently I'd never played any of your firm's products - "Dungeons and Dragons", to be specific. My role-playing experience, over the last forty years, was something called 'Blackmoor' with Dave Arneson, something called 'Tekumel' with Prof. M. A. R. Barker, and something called 'Greyhawk' with Gary Gygax; I have recently been playing your D&D Fifth Edition rules with a local game-master at the local game store.

Based on my gaming experience, I found your comment that men who use complex and 'lore-heavy' rules to keep women out of the tabletop RPG hobby rather odd - I find your D&D Fifth Edition so complex and 'lore heavy' that I am not enjoying the game mechanics or the material in the books. The GM works very hard to keep things moving, but my personal feeling is that when the players have to keep laptops, tablets, and smart phones with specialized applications open at the table in the course of the game just to keep track of the game mechanics, there may just be an issue. In light of that, you may want to rethink your recent statements.

Likewise, regarding your concerns about inclusiveness, especially regarding women in gaming, I think you may be a little late to the party. Speaking as one of the 'elderly white males' you've referred to, you may want to have a look at the photo at the top of this blog post. That was my gaming group, for more then a decade; before that, our gaming group out at Prof. Barker's looked much the same. Five women, three men, two 'people of color'; 'inclusiveness', here at my game table, means that anyone can play. That's the way I've always had game groups running, and the way I always will.

I think you mean well, Mr. Mearls; I just think you need to think before you Twitter...

yours,

Jeff Berry, aka Chirine ba Kal.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Bad News, Middling News, and Good News - The Weekly Update - Monday, February 19th, 2018





Last week was not what I'd call a good one, and so this update is more housekeeping then anything else. I'll be back later this week with more entertaining posts, but this one is going to be a little introspective.

Got the news that mid-week an old friend died suddenly; we'd managed to reconnect recently, and it was a shock for all of us in the old gaming group to hear of his passing. He'd complained of chest pains that he'd thought were heartburn; it seems it was a massive coronary.

On the other hand, another old friend got through his heart surgery, to fix a valve. He's tired, and lethargic, but he's still with us.

My co-worker who's been sick with the flu for the past two weeks and out of work is back, and we're doing our best to look after him as best we can.

The van failed to start tonight, so we're in the lifeboat / bug for now. Which is why we bought it, after all.

No, I did not go to the local game convention, Con of the North. Instead, I had a lovely Saturday with old friends, who also didn't go to the convention, and a just as lovely Sunday with my brother and nephew who did.

By the by, I do recommend both Con of the North, here locally, and U-Con in Michigan; both are good, solid, well-run conventions, and both feature wonderful tracks of programming and gaming devoted to Tekumel run by long-time fans of Phil's creation.

"So," I hear you ask, "why don't you go?" Pretty simply, the logistics. My style of gaming uses up a lot of room and time at the convention, and is a lot of energy and stamina to put on. Neither really fits into the way modern gaming works, and both sets of organizers do a wonderful job of presenting Tekumel in a gaming context that works for modern gamers. So, I suggest going to them; they are worth it.

I will be back the end of the week wth more photos of my miniatures; real-life is getting in the way, and I hope to get back in the groove shortly...

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Lifeboat, The Ship, And Some Stuff Got Done - The Weekly Update - Sunday, February 11th, 2018

The Lifeboat

The Ship

It's been a long week, with people being sick at work and me having to cover, but we're starting off a new week pretty nicely; the VW is here, and will go off to the garage to be checked out and a tire fixed. The poor old van is finally back, after a two-week stay at the garage to finally get the issues with it starting resolved. One new radiator, one new ignition coil,  one new distributor cap and rotor, and what may have been the root cause of the problem a new 'crank sensor'. The van now starts first time, every time, which is not bad for a vehicle with 338,100 miles on the clock. I'm also $1,200 poorer, but at least the problem is fixed. (I hope.)

In other news, I've been able to get some time to slap some paint on the new Dark Fable 'Anubis' figures, and I'll have photos up shortly; I've just run out of time, this weekend. I think they look better then the photos on the campaign might indicate, but that may be just my old-fashioned tastes in figures.

I had a very bad scare with the 'standing genie' figure. While gluing her separate left forearm to the figure, her tiny (2mm, maybe) wrist broke and I had a very bad fifteen minutes looking for the very tiny part. I did, and already had rescued her hand, and after a little work with an emery board to get a good, flat, and polished joint managed to get her all back together. Quite the scare, though!

I'll have more photos of my old figures for you this week, if people are interested...


Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Custom Of The House - Some NPCs

Harchar, his officers, and a pair of wizards;

People we know;

The Tlakotani;
Some people from the Garden of the Weeping Snows.

We met a lot of people in our adventures with Phil in his world, and we liked to have them on the table with us. So...

1a: Dave Arneson and his crew - Staffswinger, Swordswinger, Harchar, Fishface, and Hardtack the purser. (The first two got their names from the figures I used for them; Dave gave the latter two their names, based on their stats and occupations.)

1b: Two of the Undying Wizards, Thomar and Turshanmu.

2. The extended family: Ah Ti Ko, Si N'te, Nyssa, Tsahul, Mridan Vishetru.

3a. Deq Dimani, and the Tlakotani - Eselne, Mridobu, Ma'in.

3b. A friend and wonderful author: Kyrinn Eis Ebbridda, which I include to show that The Custom of the House is still in good health. (This figure is one of a matched pair; this is the Tekumelyani version, and Kyrinn has the Urutsk version.)

4. Some of the folks we met while visiting the Garden of the Weeping Snows. I also have a squad of the Pale Legion, too.

Lots of conversions, done from the figures I could get. Lots of Ral Partha figures, of course; can you spot the one from Superior Miniatures? Or what line that dear old rascal Harchar is from?

As you might guess, we used a lot of miniatures in Phil's games, and I enjoyed the look on his face when I'd pass the box of new ones up the table to him. If I may immodestly quote him...

"Chirine makes the most clever little miniatures!"

Thank you, Phil. I'll take that one, coming as it did from a master himself... :)

Next up? I don't know; maybe the priests and priestesses of the Twenty that I did for our games?