Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, December 28th, 2014 - The Last Post Of This Year



It has been a very nice quiet holiday, and I'm very happy with all the progress I am making on my book and the troops for the upcoming miniatures campaign. I am also reading a few more books from The Lost Library, pictured above; I think you might find them very, very interesting when you apply them to the context of the strategic situations of the Five Empires.

Take a good, close look at the maps of the Five Empires. Notice something? Each of the five major states is separated from each other by either difficult terrain features or 'buffer states', or both. Phil said repeatedly to me that major military campaigns on Tekumel by the Five Empires are difficult and usually unsuccessful - but that 'border skirmishes' like one would find along the Rhine during the Principate or on the Northwest frontier during the British Raj would be and are very common. For gamers, that's actually pretty darn good news; lots and lots of 'little wars', and a chance for the younger officers and adventurers to see lots of action...

In other news, I am delighted to be able to pass along the news that the pathology report from The Missus' recent surgery came back 'negative' - 'non-malignant'. As you can imagine, we're pretty relieved at this news.

I have been asked about running a Tekumel adventure at Gary Con this coming March, and I have filed an event submission with the convention organizers about this. I'll keep you all informed, of course.

There is not much news to report, otherwise. I am getting caught up on e-mails and comments, and I'll keep plugging away on those for you as best I can. I'm also getting lots of sleep, which I badly need, as well as 'recovery time' from all the stress we've been under for the past six months.

More to come - watch this space!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Boxing Day, 2014 - And A Happy Holiday To Everyone!


Good taste? Around here? What?

I am having a wonderful holiday - no stress, lots of sleep, and much higher productivity. I have gotten over 150 figures prepped and based, ahead of the upcoming 'Fortress Chalukolumel' campaign, and I've gotten over 2,000 words added to Volume VI of "To Serve The Petal Throne". I have over a week left, and I'm looking forward to the rest of my vacation and to the coming year.

I should note, in passing, that Christmas for us unreconstructed Byzantines falls on January 7th, 2015; we still use the Julian calendar, especially for liturgical purposes, and none of this new-fangled Gregorian nonsense, nosireebob! So, I get lots of holiday time every year, and I tend to enjoy all of it.

Things to look forward to in the coming month include photos of all the new figures - I am finally getting the chance to go through all of the storage bins and getting my miniatures collection sorted out - and some essays on campaigning; Lord Vimuhla is on the side of the big battalions, or at least one hopes so after putting all the effort into the battalions.

I am planning on opening the 'Chalukolumel' campaign early in the spring; the campaign will be open to all comers, and I'll be running in in classic style. You, Gentle Readers, can sign up to play the various junior officers, and send me your orders via e-mail; I'll set up the battles on the game table as they happen, and we'll fight them out on Google+ hangouts so everyone who wants to can play.

I should note that the campaign will not be a 'miniatures wargame campaign' or an RPG campaign; it will be neither, and both, just like when we played out at Phil's. We played junior people, and our 'job performance' is what got us promotions, over the years; we played a lot of our fights out 'on the table', because we could, and I'd like to entertain everyone with a chance to play like we did 'back in the day'.

So, Happy Holidays, and here's to the new year!

[edit: video upload fixed. I hope.]


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Heartfelt Thank You To You All!

Pacifica, in her original setting

I'd like to take a moment, here, to thank all of you who have commented, e-mailed, and called with your sympathies and best wishes. It's very kind of all of you, and I'll be passing your very welcome thoughts along to The Girls.

I am trying very hard to keep the boat pumped out and sailing along, and I hope to be back to normal service for the holidays.

Thank you all, once again!

- chirine

Monday, December 22, 2014

This Morning's Update To Yesterday's Update...

Pacifica

I am very sorry to have to report that Grandpa Jack lost his fight with the infection that laid him low last night, about eight-thirty local time. Two of The Daughters were with him; one was still an hour out on the airplane.

If you don't mind, I will be going quiet for a couple of days. Thanks for your patience!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, December 21st, 2014 - The Solstice, My Back, And The Current State Of Emergency

Something for the solstice

This will be a pretty short and quick update, today; I have managed to injure my lower back, and am not able to sit in front of the computer for any length of time. So, with your indulgence, here goes:

First off, some bad news from our friends in the UK. Stewart, one of the wonderful guys from Griffin Miniatures, passed away suddenly late last week from what appears to have been a heart attack. There isn't anything about this on their website; I got the news from mutual friends...



We here at The Workbench are dealing with a unfortunate family emergency; as I've noted elsewhere on this blog, I am currently the adopted father of three very nice young ladies. Their wonderful grandfather, Jack, is in a poor way; he's a sprightly ninety-six, but recently had to deal with an infection that really slowed him down. All of the girls and their mother are gathering, from diverse far-off lands like Switzerland and Saint Paul, and we'll likely to have to play host to some of the family. I've been getting our spare room cleared out for this, which is how I managed to sprain my back - I think I did it while moving boxes of files. (Of which we have quite a lot, actually!)

Despite this crisis, planning for the trip to Gary Con in march is moving right along. I have my registration paid for, my event submissions in, and hotel room being booked. There is still a question about transport; we may be renting a mini-van to carry everyone down to Lake Geneva, as we've been talking to people who might need rides. More on this as we get the news, of course.

I am really looking forward to my upcoming vacation - I am planning on getting this blog up to date, and a lot of work done in the game room and on the book!

Happy Solstice!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Something Unexpected For The Holidays!


A logo with a sense of humor!

The back label - the story of my life, actually...

I got a little Token of Somebody's Appreciation, yesterday; it was very kind of them, and I was happy to be able to help them out. They thought that the little story on the back label was me, and I have to agree - especially given some of the reactions in gaming to the photos that I provided to "Der Spiegel", back in 2008...

Happy Holidays!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, December 14th, 2014 - Incisions, Insomnia, and the Internet

The Da Vinci tele-manipulator system

First off in today's news round-up, The Missus got through her bout of surgery Friday with good results. She was in for about twelve hours, four of them in the operating room, to remove a number of what we hope are non-malignant fibroid tumors from her abdomen. The process involved inflating her like a balloon with carbon-dioxide gas, and then using the remote-controlled arms of the tele-manipulator to get in there and do the actual work. If this had been conventional surgery, she'd have had to stay the weekend in the hospital, and been at a much greater risk of infection and other bad side effects.

I got her home late Friday - I'd been up since two am that morning to get everything ready, so we were both ready for naps - and she's been resting ever since. She's sore, and in some pin, but nothing like what she could have had to deal with. Her prognosis is good, and we have hopes!

This should be the end of the big medical  events for a while, and we could use a little 'down time'!

***

We are now in the final twenty-four hours of Mike Burns' 'Ancient Egyptian' Indiegogo campaign, and I am very pleased to be able to say that it has been very successful! There are a lot of new figures, and we're investing in all of them - they have that 'charm' that Phil would have loved, and I can think of all sorts of games to run using them. Please, if you would, do have a look before the campaign ends tomorrow...


And please do have a look at the gallery of photos, too! There is some really great stuff there!

***

The helpful guys at The Source Comics and Games have introduced me to a new manufacturer of laser-cut plywood bases for miniature figures, Tre Games, Inc.; this firm does not have a website up yet - they are that new! - but you can reach them at their URL:


The bases are as good as those made by my primary supplier of bases, Litko Aero, and very nicely priced. I bought a large quantity this past weekend, as I have a lot of figures to base up over my upcoming holiday vacation.

In advance of the Indiegogo figures arriving after the holidays, I should note that I have also placed a large order with Litko Aero for some of their products, as well; the Mike Burns figures are designed for 'slotta-bases', so I needed to order my standard base sizes with slots cut into them. Litko has these as a stock item, so they got the order. If you haven't had a look at their vast range of useful products, may I suggest:


***

I am still way behind on e-mails and replies to your comments, due to the time needs of The Missus' medical situation, and I will try to get caught up before my holiday. My goal is to 'clear the decks' and have a holiday for writing and model-building, and I will try to get everyone answered as soon as I can. One of my big issues, these days, is that my work schedule pretty much takes me out of circulation from noon on Sundays to the early afternoon on Fridays. I can often get some work done when I can't sleep - like this morning, which is normal for my Sundays - but I am very limited in my free time.

A direct result of this is that I have 'pruned' some parts of this blog back a bit, as I simply don't have the time to maintain those sections with the attention that they need. Likewise, I have really stepped back from participation on various on-line fora - Dragonsfoot, ODD74, RPG.net, Minnesota Indie Gamers, Knights and Knaves Alehouse, The Comeback Inn, The Piazza, RPGsite, the various Yahoo forums, and Facebook. I still look in on and post on Lead Adventure Forum, as well as many of the wonderful blogs that I follow, and I am happy with that - there are a lot of very fun people out there, and I think I'm very lucky to be able to list their blogs here!

More later this week! Thanks again for your time!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, December 7th, 2014 - Not Much News, Really...

"It's quiet." "Too quiet."

I have very little to report on this week; I am gearing up for The Missus' session with the cutters on Friday, and trying to get as much sleep as I can in advance of that. I have several pretty major projects in the works, and I'm pleased with the progress we're making on them. It's been a lot of work and effort, but I think people will be pleased when they see the results.

It has been a good birthday; a nice evening out on Friday, a good day in capped off with a big platter of sushi last night, and a lot of nice messages from folks. I'll try to get all caught up this week!

Foe me, the big news item of the week is the Dark Fable Miniatures Indiegogo campaign:


My 'birthday money' went to buy into this campaign, at our usual level, and I am looking forward to seeing the figures in January. These figures have proven to be very useful in my games, and they are a joy to paint up!

The campaign ends on December 15th, so if you think you might want to buy into it, you might want to  have a look in the next few days.

I should also mention that I have sent in my Event Submission forms to Gary Con, and we're moving ahead with the trip planning for the convention.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Yearly Update For Saturday, December 6th, 2014 - Doing Business In The Same Location For Fifty-Eight Years

Ghatoni. Lots and lots of Ghatoni!
(and some Exalted Flame, too!)

Blocks. Lots and lots of blocks!

Well, here we are once again; I am now another year older. And, I am happy to be able to report, I am celebrating twenty-seven months of being still alive - as you might guess, this is A Big Deal around here. If you wouldn't mind, this post will be a bit of a short recap of the doings here at The Workbench over the past year. First off, though, let's look at the festivities going on hereabouts...

The Missus, bless her, took me out to eat at our favorite cafeteria - the eatery at the local IKEA, better known as the purveyor of the odd and unusual here on this blog. I had been hoping to get a plate of my favorite fish-and-chips - an addiction I picked up from my fellow railway modelers in the Wakefield Railway Modelling Society; we get ours from The Union pub across from where we have our Annual Exhibition - but alas!!! IKEA has discontinued this staple of my diet and so I consoled my wretched self with a platter of chicken strips and chips. (The Missus had her own favorite, the meatballs.) The massive chocolate cake topped off the feast, and I am delighted to report that it was a very nice way to celebrate my birthday.

The Missus also got me a gift there, too! It's the pack of 'FUNDERA' wooden blocks, which I waxed so delighted over when I saw them that The Missus thought that it would be cruel not to get me a pack. You get, for your $9.95, 100 hardwood blocks that measure about 20 mm by 200 mm, and about 5mm thick. Bridges, passageways, buildings, you name it - these blocks will do it. I can think of all sorts of uses for these in the game room, and it may tell you something about my games and my play style that a pack of simple wooden blocks would send me into transports of delight.

We also got my grandson his very first tool kit, and he's just arrived to pick the thing up...

[A short delay, if you don't mind...]

[Thank you for your patience; The Grandson has departed for his nap, and is Pleased with his IKEA tool kit.]

The postman has also added to the wonder of the day; there was a package from Mr. Allen in the mail, and he has been kind enough to send me forty (!) infantry, a dozen (!) archers, and two (!) sets of command stands for the Ghatoni - and four Serdula, two armored and two un-armored. I will try to shoot better photos of all of these treasures, although you may be able to see some of his own photos of his creations on the Tekumel miniatures Yahoo group. To add to my delight, there are also ten of the Legion of Exalted Flame - I've been looking for these for positively ages, to try and fill out my version of this legion. All my usual sources for the old metal figures have pretty much dried up after all these years, so these are very welcome additions to the ranks.

I really love David Allen's work - he's a master of the three-dimensional printer, and his ability to model Tekumel is really uncanny!

Like any year in my life, it's been a mixed bag of the good and the bad. Bad, in the sense of The Missus and her health issues, but good in the sense that she's doing very well. Her prognosis is good, her doctors tell me, and if we're careful she;s going to be good for quite a few years yet. The same for me; if I keep my blood pressure down, mostly by avoiding stress, I should be around for a bit as well.

Gaming has been a mixed bag as well; the long football season this year has been a bit of a trial, as it takes away a lot of the weekend time that I have, but we're now through the season and I'm back to a regular schedule for the next six months. I am concentrating on getting the unpainted painted, the useful projects finished, and the less-then-useful projects terminated and the wreckage out the door. I am being a lot more focused, due to my time and energy constraints, and I think that's going to be very helpful in the coming months.

A nice result of all this time-management is that I'm writing again, and "To Serve The Petal Throne" is moving forward very nicely. I am expecting and hoping to get the bulk of the book done during my upcoming vacation, and off to my editors in the very early part of the year. Once that's done, I can get back to working on the second edition of my miniatures rules - a project which has had to stay on the back-burner for far too long!

So, all in all, I can say that I've been mostly pleased with the year that was; here's to the year to come!!!





Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, November 30, 2014 - The Holiday, Gary Con, And "To Serve The Petal Throne"

The Union viewpoint on my little brigade,
across Dave Wesley's game table.


First off. let me apologize for being behind on my e-mails and responses to your comments on this blog. The holiday weekend turned out to be a very busy one, with visits to and from my extended family occupying most of the time. Not that I minded, you have to understand; due to my work schedule, I get to see them so few times in a year that I have to make the most of what time I do have to see them.

I am now back to my regular schedule, so I should be all caught up by the middle of this week; thank you, all of you, for your patience! The next day off I will have is the Thursday / Friday night of December 12th, to get ready for The Missus' next round of surgery. After that, I will have an eleven-day vacation coming up, over the Christmas and New Year's holidays; I have two four-day weekends over each holiday, and I put in for three day's vacation leave for the time between them. I can use the time off, as it's been a little exhausting around here of late, and I'm looking forward to being able to simply sit and write and paint miniatures.

I am expecting to get a lot done on my book, "To Serve The Petal Throne", and I think I may very well have the vast bulk of the thing done by the turn of the year. I'm finding that when I get a clear run at the keyboard, without any distractions or emergencies, I get a lot done in one sitting - I am usually able to crank out quite a bit of text, as I have all of the 'scenes' floating around in my noggin all ready to be typed out.

So, we'll see; I'll keep all of you posted, of course!

In other news, I have purchased a membership / registration for this year's Gary Con; after a exchange of e-mails with Mr. Luke Gygax of the convention's management team, I have bought a 'Silver' membership; this will allow for the chance to play in some games, if I'm able to do so, and I'm hoping to be able to get into the "Chainmail" game that I understand Paul Stromberg will be doing again this year. Mike Mornard had some very good things to say about this game last year, and that sold me on the thing.

I am working with the convention to set up a seminar / lecture / question-and-answer session, which will be part of the convention programming. Due to the kindness of a friends and fellow Tekumel fan, I now have a drive to hand that I can load all of my digital archives onto, and I will be bringing one of our fleet of laptop computers and out pair of tiny LCD projectors. For those of you who are going to be at the convention, I will be there for you; I will be able to answer your questions about Phil and his world, and show you Phil's own viewpoint on his creation through his own artwork and texts.

I also hope to have a manuscript copy of "To Serve The Petal Throne" with me for you to ponder, or to use as a doorstop.

I am, I have to say, looking forward to the opportunity to do what I love to do best - talk about Phil ad Tekumel!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 - Fun With Dave, And Dave, And Dave

Major D. Wesely, U.S. Army (retired). holding forth over his game table

It has been a hugely fun week for me; many, many things happening, and I'm only now getting back to my usual schedule. Let me try to summarize the fun, if I may...

***

I was invited out to Dave Wesely's house, this past week, to push some lead around his game table - well, it was his Airfix plastics from way back when, but you get the idea. Bill Hoyt and Duane Jenkins, some of the original Blackmoor crowd, as well as some of Dave's regulars showed up. Very tough scenario, but a lot of fun and lots more great conversations about games, game design, and gaming.

(For more about Dave, have a look at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Wesely)

Dave is an old friend, and it was great to be able to game with him again. We talked about my running a Braunstein for him, and we'll see what we can do - watch this space!

***

I had Dave Megarry in, the other day, and it was great to see him as well; we are both Adventure Games alumni, and we shared a lot of stories about Ye Olden Dayes. I got the first-hand account of the Ancients game where GM Dave Arneson slipped Druid Megarry a phaser, to deal with Pete Gaylord's Roman war elephant. Pete was not amused when the elephant got fried, as he'd just gotten it and had spent the previous week painting it up just for the game. To reprise an old gamer's lament:

"I just got them all painted up, and they're all dead!"


It never ceases to amaze me that so many of the creative types that were the founders of our shared hobby are from the Twin Cities - and that so many of them are friends of mine. It's humbling, really.

***

I have been invited to go to Gary Con, this coming spring, and give a talk on Tekumel, Prof. Barker, and "Empire of the Petal Throne". From what I gather, a number of Tekumel fans would like to have me show up and answer their questions about Phil and his creation, as part of the convention programming; we'll see, as the health needs of The Missus take priority over everything.

***

Speaking of The Missus, she is doing well; it's now been a week after her month of hard radiation, and while she's kind of uncomfortable with sundry aches and pains, she and her doctors are very happy with her condition. So far, so good...

***

I will be catching up with all your commens and e-mails over the next couple of days, just in time for the holiday...

Thanks again!





Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, November 16th, 2014 - Lead. Lasers, and Laughter

I am looking forward to the holidays, so I can sit down.

It's been very, very busy hereabouts, and I hope you'll forgive me if I can only give a brief update today...

***

First off, The Missus has completed her course of radiation therapy. She's doing well; tired and sunburned, but well. And she's like to thank everyone for their very kind words!!!

***

Please have a look at the current Dark Fable miniatures Indiegogo campaign; the new sets of figures are wonderful, and I really am looking forward to getting these!!! Link off to the left, and please scroll down...

***

Please also have a look at Howard Fielding's The Tekumel Project - Howard has a number of new ideas that I think you'll find very interesting! Link in the same column for you, too.

***

I have a long vacation coming up at the end of December, and I will have eleven days free for my writing. I am hoping to get my book about gaming with Prof. Barker, "To Serve The Petal Throne", largely completed during the holiday and up on line for you to read. More on this as it happens, of course!

***

That's going to have to be it for now; much more later!!!



Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Weekly Update for Sunday, November 9th, 2014; Hard Radiation, Chlen-carts, and Palanquin Chases!

Bullock cart from Tamil Nadu, Phil's old stomping grounds
Recreation of a Roman traveling wagon
Palanquin from the Temple of Ksarul, with Qol;
Every thing's better with Qol, you know.

Some quick updates, and then I have a little essay for you to hopefully be amused by...

***

The Missus is embarking on the fourth and final week of her hard radiation treatments, and asked me to thank everyone who's written in and commented about her. She's really touched by all of you taking the time to do so, and wants to thank everyone for their kind words. She's doing pretty well, she says, and is just tired out and a little sunburned; the doctors are very happy with her progress, and so am I!

***

Well, color me chagrined! I finally quit dithering about The Weighty Dilemma, and will be painting up the Mu'uglavyani crossbowmen as per Phil's specifications. (The Red-Hats can use the help, frankly.) While getting the raw figures out for conversion, basing, and priming, I discovered that I had some drawers full of the Bob Charrette / Ral Partha 'Chaos' figures. Full, like in really, really full. Eight archers, eight crossbowmen, thirteen heavy axemen, and (!) eighty-two pikemen. That's a full legion's worth of troops, and I'd feel like an utter fool if I didn't paint them up as my Legion of the All-Consuming Flame. I had clean forgotten that The Missus had had a run of luck on Ebay several years ago, and gotten several bulk lots of these pikemen for me; I think I really need to do a full inventory...

***

I had a 'Phil moment', the other day; one of our Regular Readers made a comment that I think should get a longer answer:


From Virche hiDune, November 7, 2014 at 3:35 PM
Looking at the wagon picture makes me wonder. Because I didn't imagine any 4 wheeled carts for Tekumel.


And, in general, you'd be quite right to do so; almost all chlen-carts are of the two-wheeled variety, and Phil does say this in the Sourcebook in the section on land transport. However, he never drew one! he did draw a chlen, in the War of Wizards board game, but never the cart. I think that this is because we were all expected to know what a cart looked like - we all had an idea what an ox- or bullock-cart looked like, and Phil had seen quite a few of both in his time in South Asia.

Well, you can guess what happened; when it came time to do the illustrations for  my miniatures rules, "Qadardalikoi", gifted artist Ken Fletcher asked the Professor what a typical cart looked like do he could draw it for me. Phil looked blank for a moment, and then said he didn't really have a good idea - the things were so common and ordinary that he'd never stopped to consider them and document them. He pointed out the South Asian examples, and Ken asked, "Well, how may wheels to they have?" Phil offered the opinion that, just like the carts he'd seen in real life, they almost always had two wheels - but that in rare circumstances, you would see the very occasional four-wheeled cart. Ken got out pad and pen, and went to work; you can see the drawings in the rules to this day.

While Ken was sketching away, the rest of us at the game table had a very fun and lively discussion of how goods are moved on Tekumel. Phil offered that people and cargo went by boat or ship, if possible, but otherwise one hired porters and carts; the normal movement process would see a merchant contracting a carter/porter clan to move his shipment from the starting town to about halfway to the final destination; at the mid-point, the merchant would off-load his goods into a new set of carts and porters who would have been hired in the destination town to come out and meet the shipment - a runner would have been sent ahead to make the reservations, and the clan at the destination would normally announce that they were taking on loads to go to the first town. The original set of carts and porters would take on the new loads that were going to their home town, and so avoid 'running empty' on the homeward leg. This series of 'stages' repeats across the entire trip.

The exception to this is somebody like me, who is traveling with my personal goods and family; normally, a ranking person like my humble self would hire porters and carts for a short trip, but buy slave bearers for longer ones and then sell them at the destination. I didn't do that; I would hire porters on long-term contracts, and bought a cart and draft animals to carry our luggage. The carter clans were always bemused by this approach, until they remembered that I am a military man and so used to having my own 'baggage train'. They were also a little astonished  that I supplied my bearers with their own tents, sleeping mats, and cooking equipment - again, they realized that I treated travel like a little military campaign, and were happy to help outfit my little column. The clan in Meku sold me a nice four-wheeled cart, and I hired a nice young man and his fiancee to drive it; they also sold me a pair of chlen, which have multiplied over the years and have provided me with my own herd of the beasts.

(The cart itself was drawn by Ken, and much to my amazement showed up on my doorstep many years later as one of the wonderful '3-D printing' models done by David Allen - complete with the little family of chlen and their herders! (Thank you, once again, sir!!!) Gerald Dagel, one of my long-time gamers and an old friend, also pointed out that we didn't have any chlen in our miniatures collection - so he did one, cast them up in resin, and we made some carts to go with them. And, of course, I had to make a Sakbe road to cary them all...)

So, some years later, I was in the way of becoming what they call a 'family man' and we were about to go off on campaign and thrash the Young Master and his lot out east of Hekellu. Si N'te, my lovely and very determined mother-to-be, insisted on coming along; I panicked at the thought of moving a very pregnant lady across all that terrain, and did what I always did in such moments of Dire Crisis - handed the problem off to the Tinaliya we had in the group. That worthy, in conjunction with his crew of slightly demented engineers, built a special custom cart that had a full suspension for the cabin. At the time we came up with this, I had had no idea that the Romans had such a thing - and you know, I think Phil (despite his loathing of the Romans - he took the downfall of the Ptolomies at their hands very personally) did - the reconstruction of the wagon in the museum - in Trier, I think - is the very likeness of the wagon Si N'te travelled in with our little army. I'll have to get this built - I've got the wheels, so I really have no excuse!

Traveling with Phil on Tekumel was always fun; you never knew what would happen next, as Phil drew on all of his travels in South Asia to regale us with innkeepers, merchants, servants, police, and everyone else you'd meet along the way. I still get a lot of fun out of it, both in gaming and modeling - one of the best game sessions I've had was The Great Palanquin Chase...

Our Vriddi lord was investigating the murder of his clan-uncle, who had been blown up by an exploding packet of letters; it was all very mysterious, and the Vriddi had a personal reason to investigate - the letters had come from him. People were all very impressed, and were going around saying that he'd blown up his uncle in a struggle for control of the clan - "You know, most people use poison or daggers for this kind of thing, but that young man has style! Exploding letters! Wow!" Yes, the Vriddi are that kind of clan...

So our young lord is in hot pursuit of a suspect, when the suspect runs out of the clan house and gets into their palanquin and leaves the area. Our young lord calls to his own palanquin-bearers to "Follow that palanquin!" Being faithful retainers of the family, they do and set off in pursuit - carrying the lord's palanquin, of course, because that's what they do. Unfortunately, I as GM then asked the young lord if he'd gotten into the palanquin before it took off in Hot Pursuit.

"Ooops."

Nothing daunted, our young lord took off after his palanquin, and in a move worthy of Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, Zorro, Robin Hood, and an entire generation of heroes came alongside his running palanquin and vaulted into it to continue the pursuit.

It was wonderful; the chase went through most of Butrus, and attracted a lot of attention - there was quite the chase scene until the suspect escaped by diving through the gates of the Mu'uglavyani Legation...



Thursday, November 6, 2014

On Behalf Of The Congress And People Of The United States...

1841 to 1863; he was 22.


I have the happy duty of reporting that 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing will be awarded the Medal of Honor today by the President of the United States. Lt. Cushing's award will be for bravery, courage, and leadership above and beyond the call of duty on July 3rd, 1863 while commanding his battery - Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery - during the third day of the battle of Gettysburg.

There are days when the fate of nations hangs on the actions of unknown junior officers. That terrible day in July was one of them, and he was one of those junior officers.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Weekly Update for Sunday, November 2nd, 2014 - Some Very Major Milestones

Have the Tinaliya been by here, lately?
I'll try to be brief; lots to note today, and I'm pretty happy with all the progress.

***

First off, The Missus is halfway through her series of doses of hard radiation, and while she's pretty tired out she's doing just fine. The doctors are very happy with her progress, and so am I.

***

I am very happy to announce that I have now been through the first directory / volume of Phil's computer files; I have look at and sorted out some 12,500 individual files. It's been a real slog, as Phil was not a tidy housekeeper with his files, but it's moving along. I still have three more such directories / volumes to go through, burt I'm doing what I always wanted to do - be Phil's archivist.

I will be merging my own archives with his, over the next month; I have a lot of his materials that he didn't have copies of, and I think I'll wind up with the most complete Tekumel archive around.

***

Mike Burns' Dark Fable Miniatures will be starting the next 'Ancient Egyptian' Indiegogo today, and I am really looking forward to it. Lots of very cool figures on offer, and very useful for Tekumel! There's a link in the left-hand column for you, too.

EDIT: Here's the direct link; look at all the goodies on offer!!!


***

I am very happy to be able to announce that the game room and game lounge are now set and ready for action on a permanent basis. I no longer have to 'set' or 'reset' the rooms for game sessions, which will be a huge time- and energy-saver for me. The next milepost, down in the basement, is to get the Skype and Google+ connections working in there, so I can offer on-line gaming from 'the studio' for you.

***

If I may ask, what would all of you like to see me talk about, here on the blog? This is just as much your blog as it is mine, so let me know what you'd like to hear about. Thanks!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

About Phil's Play Style, and all that lead (!)

The Yan Koryani, having snuck up to within bowshot of Castle Tilketl,
try to figure out how to get back out of bowshot...

Before I get into an account of how Phil worked up the little micro-campaign for Fortress Chalukolumel, would anyone mind if I talked about how we used to play out at Phil's? I'll be brief, and try not to be too boring...

Back in the day, we didn't have much of a sharp dividing line between what seems to be considered 'role-playing' these days and what I think is meant by 'wargames'; we floated back and forth between modes of play, with our player-characters usually having to take the lead and tell the NPC's what we'd like to get done - our characters were not only 'adventurers', but 'officers' and 'commanders' as the situation required. We were all supposed to be adaptable, and we tried very hard to cope with what Phil threw at us.

The fight at Castle Tilketl was a very good example of this; we played ourselves, and led several cohorts of infantry in the defense. It was a lot of fun to play out on the table, and Phil used a sort of 'mash-up' of his own EPT rules and my "Qadardalikoi" to run the thing; it was very fast-paced, and very nerve-wracking; Phil was very, very good on the table. We used my figures, as Phil was always very worried about the fragility of his own miniatures; his was the 'reference collection', and mine was the 'working collection'. He would get some of his figures out on special occasions, and it was always a very big deal when he did; I had to perform The Ritual Of The Keys, as Phil used some massive railroad padlocks on his cabinets. I counted them in and counted them out, and fixed anything that got broken during the game.

We were not 'rules heavy'; quite the opposite, in fact. We just moved the troops as needed, and didn't worry too much about 'accuracy' and 'realism'; if it looked good, and was fun, we did it - there was lots of swashbuckling and derring-do in our miniatures games.

And there were lots of figures, too. Both Phil and I loved to make and paint figures; he had very bad arthritis, and had trouble holding a brush as time went on. His eyesight was also very bad; Phil was legally blind, and unable to drive a car for just about most of his life. Me, I'm supposedly fast and good at this painting lark, so Phil would buy figures, I'd paint them, and he'd select which ones he wanted to keep for himself; I'd get the remainder as my 'fee', which is how my collection of Tekumel miniatures got started.

The 'custom of the house', out at Phil's, was that every new player would have a 'personality figure' to represent them on the table when we did our tactical displays. I'd get told to get cracking; Phil wanted the new figure by the next game session, which gave me a whole week to find a suitable figure, modify i if needed, and get it painted. Occasionally, Phil would be merciful and draw a quick little sketch of the person to be modeled, but most of the time I'd be told to do the research and get on with it. This is how I got to be so 'good at Tekumel', as Phil described it; it was sink or swim, down there in the deep end of the pool with the sharks as Phil was pretty picky about what landed on his table

So, we'd go off on an adventure, and we'd start getting miniatures together for what might befall us. I started building up the military units of the Five Empires, as well as the ever-useful things like city milita, temple guards, and all of the various priests and priestesses we'd meet and have to interact with. I freely admit that this meant - and still means! - that there's a lot of lead in the game room; the idea was that we would have enough miniatures to run any scenario with 'internal assets'; we'd all been stood up enough times in games here in the Twin Cites to know better then to rely on somebody bringing The Other Guys for a game.

Which means that I have armies (as we used to call them for our campaigns) for everybody:

The Tsolyani:
The heart of this army has always been Serqu, Sword of the Empire, backed up by the Legion of Red Devastation. Over the years, I built up each unit as it became available in miniature, with the goal of having twenty of each unit as the minimum; the idea here is that this is large enough for a miniatures game, but still small enough to have the figures for a role-playing game; in the wargame, each figure represents 100 soldiers, and in the RPG they are each one trooper. I did a lot of conversions, as I had to second-guess Phil quite a lot based on what we were doing in our adventures. A lot of RAFM, Grenadier, Ral Partha, Garrison, and Minifigs got used for both troops and adventurers. It's the largest of my armies, with the most numbers of figures and different units.

The Yan Koryani:
Slightly smaller in size then the Tsolyani, but very nicely filled out by Howard Fielding and The Tekumel Project. The core unit here has always been Valiant of Ke'er, and they are now ably supported by Tleku Miriya I and II, with my stalwart Ral Partha "Sea Elves with Pikes" still backing everyone up as the Gurek of Ngaku. Lots and lot of light infantry to cause trouble; I draft in the Nlyss for this as needed.

The Mu'ugalavyani:
Smaller yet, but really choice; fewer units were sculpted over the years, so the units here are larger but less diverse. This may be my favorite army - Victorious in Vimhula, the First Legion of the First Palace, has never, ever failed me on the battlefield. Once they are committed, the fight is pretty much over for the other side. This army is a little weak in missile troops, hence the previously reported dilemma.

The Salarvyani:
Quite the horde, with the Nchesh of the Mace of Steel forming the very solid core and surrounded by hordes of light infanty. A decent army, assuming they don't get any ideas and keep charging.

The Livyani:
The smallest of the Five Empires armies in the collection, this used to be just one unit - the Ral partha 'Deep Elves with Halberd" of the Llyneb of the Black Veil. This army has seen a lot of additions in the past five years, as Neal Cauley has managed to put me onto the track of the plastic elves from A Certain Company - the design style is very good for Livyanu, and the figures are cheap when bought used.

The Small States:
Something for everyone, from everywhere. I can put out about ten figures from all over, depending on where your tubeway car winds up.

The Non-humans:
Well, of course! What would Tekumel be without it's non-humans! I have about thirty to fifty of all the more military races, and usually a dozen each of the rest. I now have Hokun and Nyagga, and I'm writing new rules so we can have cavalry and underwater battles... :)

Everyone Else:
Dear old Captain Harchar's crew of "honest seafaring merchants", the city guard, the bearers, the Undead, priests, priestesses, Qol, lords, ladies, servants, and all the rest of the 'cast of thousands' that an epic setting like Tekumel really deserves. These are the 'extras' in our little productions, and add life and color to the scenes.

All of these miniatures are really 'game aids' - they help me tell my stories of life on Tekumel, and of our adventures with Phil. My players enjoy meeting these people in their own adventures; some of them are hated foes, and some trusted allies. It's all about the game; and while I freely admit to tending to do things in Cinema-Scope wide-screen spectaculars (eat your heart out, Mr. Jackson and Mr. De Mille!) it's still about what you do and how you play...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Another Dilemma, Of Some Weight!

Some of Phil's Mu'ugalavyani, from our photo inventory of his miniatures;
The crossbow unit is in the yellow tunics, on the right.

Bob Charette's "Chaos" figures, Ral Partha circa 1995; left to right,
 02-104a "Warrior", 02-107 "Pikeman", 02-105a "Bowman"

Legion I of the First Palace, "Victorious in Vimuhla";
twenty years' worth of production runs seen here;
pikes from North Star in the UK, and very, very sharp!!!
This is a dilemma some thirty years in the making; it goes back to 1982, when Phil asked me to paint up some of his stock of Mu'ugalavyani heavy infantry pikemen for him, but as a conversion to a crossbow unit. The unit is one of the ones from the Second Palace - I'm sorry, I don't recall which one at the moment, and I'll have to look it up for you - and Phil wanted them for the "Fortress Chalukolumel" mini-campaign he wanted to run as a part of our game sessions with him in the original Thursday Night Group.

He provided the figures, weapons, and color scheme, and I provided the time, paint, and skill. The top photo shows the figures in their original box - Phil used cigar boxes he got from the shop where he got his Swisher Sweets to store his miniatures.

I have the First of the First in my collection, built up to full strength over the years, with fifty figures or pikemen; they are seen in the bottom picture, armed with the deadly North Star wire pikes. These pikes are real weapons - they have lovely leaf points with needle-sharp tips, and will draw blood if one is not respectful when handling the troops.

I also have over fifty of Bob Charette's sculpts for Ral Partha, the 02-107 "Chaos Pikemen"; these were inspired by the many drawings that Tekumel artist Craig Smith - who did the drawings for the first three of the "Armies of Tekumel" books - provided to Ral Partha at the request of renowned sculptor Tom Meier. (Note 1) I also have some of the matching 02-104a heavy infanty axemen from the "Chaos Warriors" set, and also some of the matching 02-105a archers from the "Chaos Bowmen" set. The former is relatively easy to find, but the latter set is very rare and hard to get! (Note 2)

So, here's my dilemma:

Part the First: I received some 75 more of the Mu'ugalavayni heavy pike from a old friend, and I am not sure who I should paint them up as. I have First of the First already done, and my initial thought was to paint them up as the crossbow unit so the Red Hats would have a few more missile troops in my little army; I'd like to fight out the "Chalukolumel" mini campaign at some point, as Phil spent so much time setting it all up for us. However, I'd also like to have my own legion, the non-Imperial - we're Bednjallan, actually - Legion of the All-Consuming Flame, so we can fight out my own adventures; we're a heavy infantry pike unit, with some attached small units.

However...

Part the Second: Seeing as I also have the "Chaos" figures, with a lot of them already in Vimuhla color schemes - taken from Phil's own paint schemes - it occurred to me to leave the Red Hats alone, and use these troopers as my legion; heck, a lot of them are already painted!

However...

Part the Third: My original thought, from decades ago, had been to use the "Chaos" figures for Ghatoni, as they look the part with their beaked helmets. I had used some spare Mu'ugalavyani to make a few back in the day, but now that The Tekumel Project has Ghatoni armored Serudla, this issue has come back to the fore. Howard, bless him, mentioned that he wants to do real Ghatoni at some point, as part of his wonderful miniatures line...

Soooo...

My thought is to paint up the heavy pikemen as the crossbow unit, as per Phil's command; paint up the "Chaos" figures as my legion, per Phil; and wait patiently for the Ghatoni from Howard, so I have the best possible figures for my games.

Comments? Ideas? Thoughts? Suggestions?

(Note 1: As a historical side note,  a Tekumel fan claimed some time back on the Tekumel Yahoo group that these figures were part of 'a secret line of Tekumel figures' made by Ral Partha in order to avoid paying Prof. Barker any royalties. He claimed that most of the Ral Partha figures of elves and some twenty other figures had been sculpted from Prof. Barker's designs, and in effect were 'stolen designs'. This person also made these same claims in a communication directly to Prof. Barker, which led to a thorough investigation of the claims; they were proved false, and both the ex-Ral Partha and current Iron Wind staff was not amused. Oddly enough, this same person was more then willing to sell these supposely 'illegal' and/or 'pirated' figures to Tekumel fans, which Prof. Barker was very - and I mean very - unhappy with.)

(Note 2: Catalog numbers are from my internal database of both my and the Professor's figures; I use the original manufacturers' catalog numbers as the basis for these, with notations as needed. The figures marked with additional letters were originally sold as multi-figure packs.)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Weekly Update for Sunday, October 26th, 2014 - The Perfect Player-character Movie?

You have to see it to believe it. Trust me, on this.

It has not been all that happy a month, here at The Workbench. There's been the news from Ottawa, one of my good friends in the UK passing away, another struck down with a severe stroke, and the sad news that one of my former gamers here at The Workbench passed away recently after a long illness.

Mind you, there has been good news: The Missus has finished her first two weeks of hard radiation treatments, and I am still alive - my blood pressure is always an issue. To help with this latter, I have closed several Internet accounts, including my Facebook account - I never use it, and it generated a lot of messages to my e-mail in-box that I have to delete.

I have also finally finished digging out the back corners of the game room, and cleaned out all of the ancient oddities that had accumulated in there over the past decade and a half of gaming. Things are now much more organized - and accessible!!!

I had a good game day, yesterday; the gamers came by, and we had our long-delayed Saturday Matinee Double Feature. On the bill was the immortal "Alexander Nevsky" - always a great time - and the very odd, very rare, and very unusual "The Adventures Of Hajji Baba". If you want to know what the pace and game play was like with Phil and Dave, this movie is it. You'll have to really work to find it, though; it's very hard to find!!!

With your indulgence, that'll be it for this update. I do have a lot of really cool projects going, which are cooking along nicely, but it's time to get on Skype and talk to the girls in Zurich...

More later on this week! Thanks again for your time and patience!





Saturday, October 25, 2014

Help Needed With A Dilemma!


We have all of the FASA sets,
as well as the GW plastic Daleks and cybermen

We have all six boxes of these figures;
we also have the two Superior figures

Gentle Readers, we have a dilemma of some concern brewing here at The Workbench, and The Missus and I could use your advice and help!

A long time ago, and far, far away...

The Missus is a very big Doctor Who fan from waaay back - she was a friend of Anthony Ainley - and so as a gift many years ago I got her the entire set of FASA Dr. Who figures in their little TARDIS boxes. These still live in their boxes; they have never been painted, and were opened once when she looked at them when I gave them to her.

She is also a very big "Elfquest" fan, too; if she hasn't got it from the various publications and such, it ain't worth getting. Because I am a sentimental old softie, and was friends with the folks at Ral Partha back in their heyday, I got her a complete set of of all six boxes of these figures. These are still with their original boxes, leaflets, and packing material; the only thing that The Missus got done with these before her health went in the bucket was to give the figures a coat of Heritage flat white acrylic brush-on primer. Otherwise, they are in perfect condition, as are the FASA figures.

So, here's our issue: What do we do with these? She would like to keep them, as she has a lot of very fond and happy memories attached to them, but we're a little unhappy with the idea that they are languishing in their boxes - and have been for the better part of twenty-five years!

Should I strip off the primer and simply store the figures?

Should I paint the figures for her - they'll wind up in a display case, mostly - and see about getting them out for a spin occasionally?

The Missus will never be able to paint them - she's just not able to do that kind of thing any more - and I don't know if my late 1970s painting style will do them justice. We can't afford a professional painter, so that option seems to be a non-starter.

Suggestions? Comments? Ideas? Anything? :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, October 19th, 2014 - Hard Radiation, Hello Kitty, and Halloween Shopping

Do a Google search. You'll laugh your head off.


You get them at the 'after-halloween' sales.
I'm both cheap and lazy.

The Missus has had her first two doses of hard radiation, and has 19 sessions with the radiation therapy people left. No ill effects noted, for which I am grateful. We will beat this thing.

**********

'Hello Kitty' turns forty, this week. I find this hugely amusing!

**********

One of my 'big projects' that I am finally getting back to, after much too long, is my large set of Sakbe road sections. I actually have two Sakbe roads (which may say something about me right there!), and this is the fourteen-foot-long version; the smaller, which you can see in the photos of the Battle of Anch'ke on my Photobucket page, is only about ten feel long and is far less grand. I built it specifically for the game scenario, and it's in storage for now.

The 'long' set is made up of six 'road' sections, with a large tower section; there are ramps to get on and off the thing, as well as two of the smaller 'interval' towers. The biggest part of this project is the cutting of the merlons and embrasures on the walls - there are a lot of them! Since I normally work in extruded polystyrene foam for things like this - the usually-encountred white expanded poly styrene 'beadboard' is just not structurally sound for things this big - it cuts very easily. I am lazy, though, so instead of marking out all those little battlements I simply cut a wooden template to the size and shape I wanted the foam to wind up as, and then went out with The Missus to do a little shopping.

The net result is found in the 'seasonal' sections of crafts stores and other places that have 'Halloween merchandise sections'; a very handy battery-powered reciprocating saw that cuts through the foam like it was soft butter. So, all I have to do is slide the template up to the foam wall, switch on the little saw, and the thing does all the work. And makes nice clean cuts, too!

Now, I should mention that timing is very important, here. Shopping for seasonal merchandise before the holiday will get you what you want, but cost more; after the holiday, you have to move fast to take advantage of the sale prices, but you have to move before the store pulls the unsold inventory off the shelves.

**********

Along the same lines, I have been able over the past five years to build up quite a nice forest of really good-looking trees by haunting the 'after holiday sales' at the turn of the year. There are several lines of 'Christmas village' buildings and accessories, and you can get some of the most amazing stuff after the holidays are over. I've gotten trees, rivers, stone wall sets, ponds, and entire hills from these lines, and all at very good prices; one just has to look, and know what one wants for one's games. Admittedly, you do get some 'snow' on the items; but, this can either be rinsed off - in the case of 'hard' objects - or concealed with a spritz of tempera paint from a spray bottle in the case of trees and the like.

It's all about your imagination, and thinking 'outside the box'... :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Twenty-Five Month Update - Two Years And A Month After 'The Incident'

It still itches, especially when it's cold outside...

The Missus is off to get her first run at her radiation therapy today; she has her new aiming point tattoos, and is getting ready for the 'sunburn' she's expected to get. In the meantime, she pointed out that I missed the two-year 'anniversary' of The Incident -


- and all I could say was that we've been a trifle busy hereabouts. "Get thee to the keyboard," she replied sternly...

So, here we are; twenty-five months later, and I have been in the 'human normal' range for about a year now. I am moving a little more slowly, and I have a lot less energy and stamina, but I am still here; we are not complaining, you understand!

And where are we? Well, let's have a little look behind the scenes, shall we?

I am steaming away on my book about our adventures with Phil on all those Thursday Nights; we are looking at six volumes, at this point, each with what's looking to be about 50,000 words per volume. Some have complained about the size and length of the thing - all I can say is that we played every Thursday night out at Phil's for four to six hours for over a dozen years. That's fifty-two weeks a year, times four hours a night, times fourteen years. I took notes or made recording of the game sessions, and I have - at a minimum! - 2,912 hours of 'face time' with Phil in his world. There is a lot of ground - and ocean! - to cover, so the word count is going to be kinda long.

Mind you, I will be providing a very detailed index, as well as a section numbering system to make it easy for Tekumel fans to look things up. I will not be doing footnotes, because they'll interfere with the flow and pacing of the stories of our adventures, but you will get notes at the end of the volumes keyed to the adventures so you can use them for your games. What you will be getting is a sort of 'time machine' that I hope will take you back in time to when we first explored the world of the Petal Throne, and we hope you'll enjoy the ride.

And no, there will be no 'rules' or 'stats' in the book, either. I assume, Gentle Readers, that you are both smart enough and skilled enough to do this kind of thing for yourselves and for your favorite set of rules. I am simply telling you what happened to us in Phil's world, and how he viewed his creation.

We're still working out how we'll get all this to you; more about this when I know more, myself!

The size and shape of this project are having an effect - a good one, I hope! - on my other activities. I am painting like a madman, when I have the time, and having a lot of fun doing pretty much the same thing as when I was painting for Phil. I am having a lot of fun painting up the people you'll meet in the book, as I now have the figures for them. I am also looking at building a lot of the 'sets' from our adventures - many of the places and things we saw are very good for models, because that's the way Phil saw things - and sharing those with you as I get them built. I enjoy taking photos of our adventures, and I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I do.

Games sessions, here at The Workbench,  will feature our adventures as scenarios, and I am hoping that people will enjoy our adventures - the "Storming Hekellu" game went over a treat, for example. I don't think I will be doing many big games in 'public venue', anymore; I simply get too tired out moving everything to the site and setting it up to be able to run the game, and unless I can get help with the logistics I am not going to be able to handle the stress and strain of doing things like I used to - I simply have to be realistic, these days!

As part of telling you our stories, we're getting the Skype / Google+ hardware working in the game room, as The Missus's health allows. I'll keep you posted on that, as well, and we're hoping to get back in the swing of doing You Tube shows for you. So, lots and lots happening - watch this space! :)

Thanks again for visiting us!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, October 12th, 2014 - Post #250: The Lost Library Of Firu ba Yeker

Great fun - heroes, heroines, comic sidekicks, and really evil villians;
what's not to like?

If you ever needed to know what your player-character is carrying and what it looks like,
it's in this catalog. Someplace.

Not much to report, this week; painting continues, but the big news is that The Missus starts her radiation treatments on Wednesday. That's what I'm focusing on, right now...

***

It's hard to imagine, but back in the early days of the RPG hobby the Internet hadn't been invented; neither, for that matter, had the personal computer. One didn't click on Google and Wiki for information; one had to look around, and use other forms of information media to get information and ideas for games. It was all quite primitive, really, but we did the best we could with what we had.

Motion pictures, which we had to see in theaters or on the three (!) commercial television networks, were a really fun and useful way to collect information. One of our favorites, back in the day, was the Soviet propaganda film "Alexander Nevski"; it's based on the historical Prince of Russia, who spent a lot of his time clobbering people who invaded the place.

The movie sent us into shivers of excitement, back in the day; yes, it's very heavy-handed propaganda, but all of the armor worn by the heroic Russians is the real thing - this film was made with the full backing of Stalin, and the historical collections of the Kremlin Armoury were ransacked to supply armour and weapons for the film. So, one gets to see an entire amy of guys - and girls, who wield a mean sword! - in mail going at it.

Great fun, and well worth a look!

Our other source of information was the library - a place full of fascinating books, full of equally fascinating information. One of the oddest, and most fascinating, was the "Bannerman Catalog of Military Goods" - the mail order catalog of one of the first 'army-navy surplus' stores in the United States, and quite possibly one of the oddest. Francis Bannerman VI bought and sold literally everything you could imagine, and was quite capable of arming a small country - just send him a telegram, and he'd get you everything you needed withing a week of your check clearing the bank.

And we're not just talking weapons, either; yes, Bannerman's could sell you everything from modern pistols to medieval bombards (no warranty, sorry; everything sold 'as is'), but could also outfit you with uniforms, tents, cooking gear, field desks, medical supplies, wagons, and even a ship or two. We used to sit around at Phil's and loom through this catalog before our adventures, and we'd specify what we'd take along as we marched off to Sunraya or some equally miserable place; we'd be careful to fully equip ourselves, otherwise we'd be out of luck - and food! - someplace in the Desert of Sighs or the Dry Bay Of S'sum.

A check os the Internet this morning reveals that the catalog is still in print, along with both earlier and later editions. I'd suggest having a look - you might get some ideas from your 'window shopping'!


Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Weekly Update For October 5th, 2014; Bookshelf Memories

One of the forgotten books of the early days of RPGs

It's been a very busy week, here at The Workbench; the warm weather has finally left us, and the cold winds of fall and winter have arrived. I've pulled the long-suffering window air conditioning units out of their summer homes, and done the annual work to get the furnace up and running - filters and what have you. The nice warm electric radiator is in place in my painting area, and I'm spraying primer on figures whenever the outside temperature allows. In short, it's 'painting season', the time when I get the most done.

***

We're a month out from the next campaign by Dr. Burns of Dark Fable Miniatures (link to the left), and I'm getting my Litko order for bases in now - I use their pre-cut 'slotta' bases for Mike's figures, as they save me a lot of time and match all of the other figures in the game room. I'll have more on this, as it develops, and some photos as well as we move along in the process.

***

I've been spending a lot of time in the basement of late, restocking the shelves and getting things set up for the winter campaign season. I had a very nice moment, thinking of Phil, when I reshelved my copy of "The Crossbow", by Sir Ralph Payne-Gallway; this used to be one of the 'standard works' that we all read, back in the day as new RPG gamers. Phil introduced us to this particular book; he used it as his standard reference for missile weapons in his Tekumel. The Tekumel 'long bow', for example, is actually the Turkish composite version of the long bow, and not the classic Welsh single-stave long bow so familiar to gamers. Sir Ralph gives the details of this fearsome weapon, from first-hand experiments at the Topkapi Palace, and you can get some really useful information from the rest of the book as well. What Payne-Gallway doesn't cover, you don't need to worry about.

I have a suspicion that this book has been largely forgotten, over the years. A miniatures gamer took me to task - quite severely, I might add - for screwing up in my miniatures rules on the range, rate-of-fire, and effect of the Tekumelyani longbow. He assumed, like many gamers, that I had been using the Welsh version, and I'd gotten it all wrong. I demurred, and pointed out that the Tekumelyani weapon is a composite one, and based on the Turkish examples; he told me that I was full of crap, and that there was no such thing. I cited Sir Ralph's book, and he stopped talking to me.

Shrug. So it goes. I do suggest looking at a copy; the book is still in print, and very, very useful!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Weekly Update For Sunday, September 28th, 2014 - That Was The Week That Was...


Chirine's astrolabe, which was a gift from my kids...

I am back, after a very long and very busy week. It didn't help that I caught a chill last Saturday, while out in the storm, and was under the weather Sunday through Tuesday. Let me backtrack a bit, if I may, and fill in the gaps...

First off, I'd like to thank everyone who commented and e-mailed about how they do and don't use miniatures in their games. What struck me about your responses, as well as that of the OSR bloggers, is that you all noted that it's all about your individual play styles - and not that of what somebody is supposed to have decreed in the pages of "The Dragon", years ago.

Well, yes! This is, to me anyway, what it's all about. Your play style is what should be driving how you play; what you enjoy is what you game, is my theory. As one commenter put it, 'the OSR' is made up of many camps, and I think he's right; gaming should be, in my mind, a big enough tent to allow for a lot of things. In my own experience:

Dave really liked to use miniatures, and did so whenever he could;
Phil liked to make miniatures, and used them as appropriate to the game situation;
Gary didn't like to use miniatures, and didn't.

I think that covers the entire spectrum, really.

So. last Saturday, I worked the football game here in the Twin Cities - it's overtime, and it pays for the medical bills. We had a pretty severe storm come through during the game, which gets the adrenaline going when you have 42,000 people in an open-air roofless stadium with fifty to seventy mile-per-hour winds, damaging hail, and heavy rain predicted - and predicted to hit in about forty minutes, at that.

Here in the Twin Cities, we have a tradition of what's called 'tailgating', where people party in the parking lots outside the stadium before and after the game; people grill and have fun, and they bring these nice 'lawn tents' which are expandable frames with fabric tops on them. (Which we could have used on the Northwest and Northeast Frontier campaigns with Phil, but I don't think they'd been invented yet.) I will leave it to your imaginations what happens to these tents / awnings / gazebos when winds like we got during the storm hit them; in order to minimize the damage, I was sent around in my little electric cart - I do 'Motorist Assistance' calls, which means I do jump-starts, perform miracles in lock-outs, and fix flat tires; a disabled vehicle plays havoc with traffic flows, so we try to clear them as fast as we can - to warn folks to take precautions. It seems to have worked; we had something like fifty tents up and going in the flat lots around the stadium, and only three were lost due to the high winds. The Stadium Operations crew did evacuate the stadium; but, this being Minnesota where we are made of sterner stuff due to our Scandinavian roots, the game resumed after a 45-minute 'rain delay'.

The downside was that the rain was coming in horizontally, and in sheets; I wound up taking cover under a building portico, as my cart was on the verge of being blown over by the wind. The temperatures dropped like the proverbial rock, as the storm front came through; we went from nearly +80F down to a chilly +60F in less then fifteen minutes, and being soaking wet I got very cold.

As a result, I felt very poorly on Sunday; I did get through my overnight shift, but came home very sick. I spent the next thirty hours flat on my back, with The Missus enforcing a period of bed rest with hefty doses of fluids. I took some sick leave on Monday night, but managed to stagger through Tuesday and Wednesday nights with the aid of powerful potions administered by The Missus.

Thursday was The Missus' turn; she got her stitches from the previous surgery out, and everything looks pretty good. She's still sore, but she's feeling pretty good. I stayed home that night, as we had another appointment on Friday...

... Which was a round of exploratory surgery to try and locate what seems to be a "fibroid tumor" in The Missus' abdominal region. It showed up on an ultra-sound exam, and the doctors went in to have a look around; it's believed to be non-malignant, so there was no rush, but everyone just wanted to make sure. All of us came to the party, but the tumor was a no-show; it wasn't visible. So, The Missus will have a go with the ground-penetrating radar - er, an exam with the MRI machine - to scope out where this thing might be lurking.

Yesterday, I took the day off, and I am feeling better. I'm still working on getting back up to speed, and I'll be getting back to all of you as fast as I can.

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In other news. the big D&D lawsuit trial is over, for now:


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I have been getting some figures painted, as a way to keep my blood pressure down during these troubled times; pictures when I get the chance...

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Player-characters note! Here's an excellent series by a British newspaper on what we usually call 'encumbrance' in our games:


Back when I went through my 'basic training', I carried literally more then my own body weight in equipment, weapons, ammunition, and supplies; as a result, I got stuck down in the bottom of a ravine and had to be hauled out by the rest of my squad. I was told - in no uncertain terms! - not to do that again, thank you.

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And , to end on a humorous note, here's a news story I think you'll be amused by:


Honestly, Gentle Readers, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried...