Sunday, July 16, 2017

Not The Weekly Update - Sunday, July 16th, 2017 - Cranky and Annoyed, At Best

I now have a chaise to go with my deck chair, with parasol.

There's going to be no real post today, as I'm tired and cranky and don't really have anything interesting to all of you to talk about. Maybe tomorrow, if I feel like it.

Did have a very good time at IKEA Friday, and visiting with friends yesterday; it's the recent e-mails and messages that have gotten me down.

If I may offer a personal comment, some folks just can't seem to understand that their antics ruin a lot of other people's fun, and really manages to alienate them from the larger game hobby and game community; it's like watching "Game of Thrones" with all the nice bits removed. Lots and lots of unsympathetic people doing unpleasant things to each other, all in the name of power and prestige.

Have fun with that, people. You ain't welcome 'round here, no more.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, July 9th, 2017 - Of Qol And Table Saws

The stars of Free ROG Day at the FLGS


It has been, if I do say so myself, a very nice quiet weekend so far. I was out yesterday with the Daughter-in-Residence getting her stocked up on her "Nightwing" comics, so a visit to The Source Comics and Games was in order. She got comics, I got decals for shields and some sets of printed scenery tiles, and then we got the weekly groceries. All in all, quite charmingly domestic.

Once home, is was out into the back yard with the table saw; I cut a batch of MDF to make bases for the Scrying Eye tiles; see also http://scryingeye.weebly.com/ for more information. The FLGS had two sets on clearance, and I wanted to get a little something to 'jazz up' my Free RPG Day games; the "Desert" set seemed a good choice for that. I'm not normally a big user of pre-printed materials like this, as I've found that players in a long-term campaign get wise to the quirks of the printed maps - and bored by them pretty quickly - but for the 'one-shot' nature of the games I usually run at this event it shouldn't be an issue.

Having the tiles sty put is, though, as while they are printed on a nice card stock they have no 'staying power' on the table. So, several sheets of MDF got sliced into the 8" x 8" tiles that I needed, and the leftovers put back into stock for a different project; since I had the saw out, I thought that I might as well  work on another project at the same time. Next step is the glue and spatula, and some matte finish varnish to protect the printed surface of the tiles. A very satisfying project, I think.

Also up on The Workbench is another batch of those wonderful Qol from Howard Fielding and The Tekumel Project. I love these figures; they have a lot of what we call 'charm' - they look like what they are, devout followers of Lord Ksarul and stalwart guardians of the Temple's treasures - and I use them a lot in games. I really like the separate weapons and accessories, and I did a little bit of drilling and assembly to get a few different figures for this batch. (The lanterns are a particular joy!) I also departed from my usual practice of using flat white spray paint for the primer coat, and used flat black; these figures have outfits that are almost all this color anyway, so I thought I'd save myself a little time. Liquitex flat white followed by Liquitex 'Iridescent White" for that serpent scale look, and details to suit. Bases in stonework, like the last batch, or maybe something else for a change of pace.

If you haven't gotten some of these figures, do yourself a favor and get some. You are missing out on some really fun miniatures.

Speaking of miniatures, the Dark Fable "Legend of Cleopatra" Indiegogo funded to over 300%, and we're expecting to see these at the end of the month. I'm looking forward to them - all I need to do is get Rex Harrsion and Richard Burton figures, and I'm all set for my own blockbuster epic.

I am really happy to be having a real weekend off. I'm getting back into the groove with my painting, and getting my writing going again. My policy of letting other people organize events really seems to be working, as I'm getting back to what I do best - building things. I'm now set up to put on really good events, so my end of it is all done; it's up to event runners to do their thing - I'm happy to help, but I can't do it all, anymore.

So, that's the news for now; more later, with photos...

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The (Belated!) Weekly Update - Saturday, July 8th, 2017 - Adventures, Misadventures, And A Weekend Off!





Well, it all went pretty smoothly. The poor old van's starter died (at 332,000 miles for original part, I am not shocked by this) on Saturday - after we'd loaded all the tables, chairs, and lawn canopies, of course - and had to wait until yesterday to get replaced, we had to replace the minister (sudden call-in to work; he's a paramedic), the bride asked me to give her away, I was asked by the groom to take photos, an they finally told me when and where this was all going to take place. It was at the family home on Lake Owasso, originally owned by the bride's grandparents, and quite lovely.

(I did have to bring in some of the relatives from the pontoon boat, so we could have the ceremony. Nobody fell in the lake, although some of the younger kids did their best trying to.)

It did make for a very wild and wonderful holiday weekend - and no, it's next to impossible to rent a van on no notice on a holiday weekend at the start of a month as we found out - but we all coped, and got the job done. A very good time was had by all, and I actually had four of the five daughters in one place at the same time - the universe did not implode, as had been predicted. I wound up with lots of the left-overs, and have been gorging on cake for most of the week. (It's very good.)

This is Third Daughter, by the way, the one who applied for the job of Daughter when First and Second moved on with their lives, and the position became vacant. She applied, we went though the interview process, and only after she'd been brought onto the strength did she reveal that she was part of a 'package deal' with her two sisters, who both thought that being part of this particular job lot was A Good Thing.

We are, as we say, a family because we chose to be a family. Nothing more, nothing less.

We all had lots and lots of fun all trying to work out how we were / are all related to each other, and we really did need a whiteboard for the task. Everyone was hugely entertained by this, and we had the chance to meet and get to know each other - a whole lot of very cool people!

It was also a very nostalgic event; the Missus and I were married in our backyard twenty-seven years ago this month, using many of the same chairs and lawn equipment. Time does fly; it seems like I'd just put them all away... :)

On a slightly different note, this will most likely be the last event that I have to be the stage manager / stagehand / logistics manager for; I'm letting other folks do this now, and it's kind of nice not to have to haul chairs and tables up hills and through hallways. Time for a new generation to do the pick and carry - I'll still stock the gear, and build and fix as needed, but I'm retiring a bit.

This is the first weekend I've had off in months, and I'm taking it easy. Some model-building and figure painting is in order (along with mowing the lawn and doing the laundry) and I'm looking forward to some quiet time...

Monday, July 3, 2017

An Exhausting Weekend, But A Glorious One...

She made her own dress, too.

Third Daughter is now married; Second, Third, and Fourth Daughters assisting. I moved chairs and tables.

Oh, and she asked me to giver her away, what with me being her new dad and all...

Longer report to follow...


Monday, June 26, 2017

The Weekly Update - Monday, June 26th, 2017 - Two Blackmoors, Two Very Diferent Groups

Ah, dear Harchar...

It has been a pretty busy week, here at The Workbench; Fifth Daughter is back this week from Basel, and her sister is also arriving - from Zurich, in this case. Third Daughter's wedding looms, and I have a truck to pack full of folding chairs and tables along with the occasional pavilion. I also had my niece's graduation, and lots of family stuff going on.

As I mentioned a while back, I had been invited to the Annual Blackmoor Game run by Bob Meyer, who inherited Dave Arneson's original Blackmoor campaign when Dave passed away. This was a continuation of the game session last year, and featured all of the original Blackmoor people who could make it. I stopped in and had a nice visit with Dave Megarry, Dave Wesely, Malia Arneson, and of course Bob himself. I didn't play; I felt that I was intruding on a family occasion, and it just didn't feel right for me to be there. Maybe next year...

One additional complication was that the D&D group that had invited me to come along on their own Blackmoor campaign, this time the d20 "Blackmoor" book and D & D 5th edition, as we were going to have a fairly nasty fight on our hands in this particular game session; this had been scheduled before I got the invitation from Bob, and 'first come, first served'... We got the fight we expected, and while we won, it was at fearful loss, and it's going to take a while to recover.

I am enjoying this campaign, as the players are great, but I think I'll be bowing out of this group as soon as we make it back to Blackmoor in the next game session. I am not enjoying 5e, not by a lot chot, as all the number-crunching take forever and bores me silly. I am also not very happy with the d20 version of Blackmoor, as while it's a very good adventure resource, I will freely admit that I'm spoiled - I played with Dave, and there's very little Dave in the books. My Blackmoor will always have Gertie the Great Golden Dragon, and Dave laughing his head off.

So it goes; we'll have to see where gaming takes me, this year.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, June 18th, 2017 - Free RPG Day Report




My little corner of the FLGS - general overview

The new display fabric - posters by The Missus

Game table, with 2' x 4' dry-erase surface, dice bowls, and notepads

Full battle array, with chairs for players and spectators
It has been a very busy week, here at The Workbench, what with settling down after the recent series of game sessions and getting ready for the Free RPG Day at The Source Comics and Games here in the Twin Cities. I was invited to show up and run something in Ye Olde Style for people, and there was also a full program of other games being run by quite a few people that showed off various games and styles. All in all, I thought that it was a fun event.

By happy chance, I had picked up a new Skyline 'Mirage' display and some fabric sets on the Thursday before this event - oh, the joys of surplus shopping! - so I used one of the new sets to give the display a different look. I'm working on doing a specific 'Chirine's Workbench' display for events like this; I now have two complete sets of 'Mirage' 4' x 6' tabletop displays, with three sets of fabric, so I can have a nice choice of displays for events that I do. (I also have the mammoth 8' x 10' free-standing trade show 'Mirage' set, but that's just too big for anything but a large event.) I set up my tables and display in the north-east corner of the game room, and along the long east-west axis of the store - the shop guys loved this, as the first thing that you saw coming in the front door was my display, and it pulled people into the game area for the event.

I was running 'open table' - the players for a game session would pick the world-setting, and I' then run the game in my usual Arnesonian / Gygaxian / Barkerian style. No modules, no adventure paths, no safety net; this was Chirine and his imagination, in the purest form of 'Free Kriegspiel' / 'Open Sandbox Play'. I had on offer Ancient Egypt, Barsoom, and Tekumel, and it would be the players who would vote what they would adventure in.

My first group of four - rising to nine as the morning went on - picked the Ancient Egypt of the 'Lord Meren Investigates' series of books, and we were off! The players had to find out why one of the Sacred Crocodiles in the lake at Malkatta had gotten dead under very suspicious circumstances. Great fun was had by all, including me, as the players worked on solving a fairly intricate plot against Pharaoh and foiling it. One feature of my open table games is that I have to weave newly-arriving players into the action, so we had a Physician-priestess of Sobeck and three of Pharaoh's Charioteers show up in the nick of time, just as they were needed most.

Now, I can hear you all ask "How do they have characters, if they haven't got a set of rules?"

Well, we did have rules - Phil's 'Perfected RPG rules' - and I had the players take notes; so, when somebody rolled to see what happened, this became their 'stats' as needed. I'm sure that some would call this - to quote - "too handwavy, too loosy-goosy", which may be true; but, the players all had fun, and so did I. Everybody had a nodding familiarity with the subject, so it was very easy to get everyone role-playing in very short order.

The second group of six players chose Barsoom, so off we went to the Red Planet to foil the plots and trickery of the Therns. Two players opted to be humans ala John Carter, one was a Thark warrior, and one was a banth named 'Fluffy'. I played it where is lay, as they say at St. Andrew's, and we were off and running aboard a flyer. There was one airborne fight, some shooting at Zodangan ships, and one not-very-clever Thern got dead in a hurry and Dejah Thoris got her Ninth Ray Generator back.

I had one player ask about Tekumel, and I sent him over to John Till's "FATE for Tekumel" game.

All in all, I thought that it was a quite satisfactory outing. A lot of old friends showed up to play, and I was able keep them amused; the new players enjoyed their roles and their games, which was the whole idea of the event. I now havethe day off to unpack and do the laundry - tablecloths, etc. - and get some rest after a long day.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, June 11th, 2017 - The Situation, As Of The Moment (4)

The hostile forces
The situation ended in a stalemate, with both sides looking through their various magical spells at each other. This ended the two back to back game sessions, but the players have vowed to return sometime this summer and break out of their Dire Peril. Which they don't seem to be all that concerned about, actually...

It's nice to be able to lave this all set up; one of the reasons I built the game room in the first place.

A long hot day yesterday - most of the past week, actually, but the air conditioners aer back in their windows here at the house and keeping the humidity and temperature down for the Missus. I've spent a lot of time in the nice cool basement, working in the game room to sort things, and we're surviving.

Going to be a very busy day, today; I'm up at dawn as usual to get good Internet access, which is why all the photos have loaded. I'll be off to see the original Blackmoor players - they are getting together for a special game session at Bob Meyer's, today - and then off to the FLGS for more Blackmoor; the party I'm with is about to get jumped by some goblins working for the Egg of Coot, and as a member of the party I want to be there to do my bit.

Not much else in the way of news; all three of the sisters - Daughters 3, 4, and 5 - will be in town for Third Daughter's wedding, and Fourth will be here for a whole month. This raises the possibility of having four of the fine all in one place at the same time, which is a little mind-boggling.

Off to Free RPG Day at the FLGS next Saturday, then a familiy function Sunday, so it'll be jjust as busy this coming week for me... :)

Game Photos (3)

The Qol bring up the heavy hitters; slow, but nsty

What's this? The Qol to the rear are departing!
The 'noises off' turned out to be more Qolwith some heavy support, so the players assumed attack formation and prepared to give them a thumping. These guys are nothing if not game, I tell you. Their rear guard did notice that the Qol in back of them were departing, in some sort of hurry, which they thought was An Interesting Development...

More Game Photos (2)

One of the players being used as a battering ram...
The Qol barricade the door
The players head back to see what all that noise is about
So, one of the players teleports out to open the portcullis, and gets thumped for his pains by the on-rushing Qol. They then use him as a battering ram to push back the rest of the party, and close the portcullins in the players' faces. They get the hint, jam the door themselves to protect their rear, and go off to see what all the noise behind them might be about...

Back To The Underworld! Game Photos (1)

The situation, under the usual lighting - I like the look.

What's this? Lanterns! More Qol! Force the portcullis!

Ah, guys? There are more of them...

The action continued, with the players seeing more lights off in the distance. So, they worked on getting the portcullis raised, but discovered that the activating lever was on the far side of the door. Then, they realized that the defending Qol had brought up more reinforcements from the lower levels of the complex. Things were looking a little sticky...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, June 4th, 2017 - Interlude: The Ghosts of Macedon

The Victrix sets, based and primered

Right flank, Numidian lights and Macedonian phalanx

Right flank, Successor phalanx and more Numidian lights
Center reserves, the Macedonian hypastis (spelling?)


I am in the process of sorting out all the photos I took of yesterday's romp, and will have a report and photos for you all as soon as I can. It was a great session, with lots of mayhem and humor; the players are trapped between two forces of Qol, with no possible hope of escape, so they will be back to play out more of this game - they do not seem particularly worried about their predicament! So, what was supposed to be a one-shot is turning into a longer run, and may yet turn into a long-term campaign. We shall see.

In the meantime, I am getting some 'serious' model-making done; the weather is simply fine, with the rain we've had for the past weeks finally letting up long enough for me to get a few things done. I'm putting in the upstairs air conditioner today, and the main level one later this week; it's the annual ritual, and a pain, but it does need to be done.

On a happier note, I have now gotten all of the Victrix plastic figures done for H.M. Cleopatra VII's guard. I have one of each of the three Macedonian infantry sets, as well as two of the Numidian light infantry sets. While I was waiting for the gamers to arrive yesterday, I watched a lot of Stone's "Alexander", so I have all of the historical information I need to get these painted up. Right. Sure. Anyway...

The three 'regular' infantry sets were assembled pretty much 'stock', according to the very minimal instructions on the bag header. I found that by working with two sprues at a time, it was pretty easy to keep all the parts straight and get them assembled in short order; I use Testor's Brush-on Plastic Cement, as these are styrene figures, and I had no issues getting everybody put together. I did make sure to have each unit have a more-or-less identical helmet style, to make it a little easier to tell the units apart. Basing is 25mm x 25mm plywood from TRE Games; I usually use 20mm x 25mm for close-order regulars, but what I can find on Cleopatra's army during the Egyptian 'civil war' indicates that they may have been a little, shall we say, 'shaky' so I went with the slightly larger base. These will also be used primarily for a massive RPG / Braunstein, and the 25mm based fit in better with the 25mm rounds I use for RPG figures.

I like these sets. You get a lot of figures and options for your money, they assemble nicely, and look very good. My one issue is that they are so light - they actually started to move when I used my spray primer on them, so I backed off a bit and they were fine.

The two sets of Numidian lights have been a lot of fun. As previously reported, I used the helmeted hard option for the first set, as I wanted some Salarvyani-looking light infantry - you never have enough of those, I think! I didn;t use any of the shields provided, but used the ones I have left over from the Wargames Factory 'Amazons' as I had used other shields for that set. Yes, I know that the larger oval shield is historically correct, but they look funny on lights - too big, for my eye.

The second set got the un-helmeted heads, and they also got my stock of Foundry wicker shields from the parts bins. I thought that these looked a little more 'Egyptian', and since I intend to use these with the actual Ancient Egyptians I have, I thought it would look all right. And it does; I am very happy with these figures. They also go together well, look good, and are in my opinion good value for money. The oval shields will go into the parts bins; I'll find a use for them, eventually.

Ah, yes, I am aware that by the time of Cleopatra VII a lot of the Successor armies had adopted a sort of Roman look, but I didn't want to have that look on the game table; I already have what amounts to two units of Late Republican Romans (Old Glory) as well as two of Early Imperial Romans (mixed Warlord Games and Foundry) so I wanted these troops to have a different look to them. This is 'Hollywood Aegyptus', after all, shot in SuperCinemaTechoRamaColorScope at Cinecitta ('Hollywood on the Tiber', as it's been called) on the kind of budget that HBO can only dream about.

[Wait a minute. He's got something like sixty+ soldiers, there, not counting the Numidians. If that's going to be a 'palace guard' for a game, then he's either daft or he's got something really big in the works.]

Well, yes, actually. About 8' x 8', in 2' x 2' modular sections. The Missus and the Daughters are helping.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Yet more photos from the last game session...

The party, after evading my big trap

Fighting their way past my first ambush

Starting to fight their way past the second ambush

So, they got past the Nexus Point trap on the west side of the underworld, by simply thinking their way through it - they did have a good time looking in at dear old Nyelmu in the Garden of the Weeping Snows - and pressed onward. They did hit the fist ambush I'd laid on the east side, and after a couple of exchanges of arrows and spells they moved right through it.

The second ambush, which is what we're dealing with in today's game session, is (was) one of my better ones - or so I thought. The players did what you're supposed to do, attack into the ambush, and my poor Qol are taking a nasty beating after some poor dice rolls on my part and some very clever coordinated spell-casting and attacking into melee by the players.

I'd better come up with some really good ideas by the time they get here, this afternoon...


More photos from the last game session...




Using the steps on the stepped pyramid to get a look around...

The Priest of Hry'y and his guards, spying out the landscape

The party finds a way in and down, and swarms the entrance
Second set of photos, and you can see how the players went for the high ground, took a good look around, and were in and down in no time flat. It was a little unnerving for me; these guys were om-mission all the time...

Photos from the last game session...

General overview of the surface table

General overview of the underworld table

My brother, the Priest of Hry'y, and his guards
This is the first of three sets of photos shot by my brother. He played the Priest of Hry'y in this game session, and did so with great verve and gusto. (As my Qol found out. Sigh.) I am not going to do much of an after action report yet, as we still have today's game session to play, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Certain Players are reading this blog...

More to come!



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Weekly Update - Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - Starting The After-Action Report

A moment in the action...
This will be the start of the game report - it's going to be spread about a bit, as this is an on-going game. One of the nice things about having one's own game room is that a game can be set up, left up, and continued; the group will be back in this Saturday - with re-enforcements, I've been assured! - so I will not be revealing too much of what's going on. Yet.

To begin at the beginning, two gentlemen are doing a project on the origins of role-playing games, and approached me about running a game session for them so that they could get the 'feel' of what we used to do back in Ye Olden Dayes. I needed to come up with a game that was fast, fun, easy to understand, and still managed to give the right sense of time and place for them. This is also not likely to develop into a continuing campaign, so this was going to be much more like a convention game or 'one-off' as we used to call them.

The basic premise is that we're back in Hekellu, when I was filling in as the Imperial Governor there, and news has come in of a mysterious ruin that could use some exploration. Normally, we'd have been off like a shot to have a look, but Imperial Governors have many calls on their time so I asked some of the local clans to send me some of their people to go have a look for me - basically, it's Phil's 'Lady Mnella of Jakalla' gambit, where an important personage gets some lower-level people to get their hands dirty. I gave the players some NPC mercenary guards - always happy to get the roughnecks out of town, says the Governor - and sent them off.

I reused the stack of PCs that I'd rolled up for the Gary Con game three years ago, and had the players select their own skills and such; we were using EPT, both for the speed and vintage flavor, and the group was up and running in half an hour. Off they went!

And promptly avoided all the red herrings and diversions I'd thoughtfully provided. I specifically loaded the game table with lots and lots of Significant Clues and Astonishing Distractions, and the players gave them a quick look and moved on; they stayed focussed on the objective of exploring the ruins and surviving. They ran up to the top of the stepped pyramid, took a look around, and were down in the Underworld in no time flat.

It reminded me of the Gary Con game, where the players moved quickly, quietly, and with purpose. These players did the same thing, and got through one of the traps very easily by simply being polite - I had a Nexus Point leading to the Garden of the Weeping Snows, and they didn't fall for it. They took a quick look, marked it for a future adventure, and got on with exploration. They did finally encounter the ruins' guardians, my long-serving Qol from The Tekumel Project, and quite a running fight developed with lots of sorcery being used on both sides. We are currently in the middle of the fight, with the players getting the better of my poor Qol.

Lots and lots of photos to come; this is just the introduction... :)



Monday, May 29, 2017

Time To Put The Cards On The Table - Yours Truly Is Fed Up & Cheesed Off...






I took a much-needed day off yesterday, and by and large it was pretty nice. I did have a less-then optimal shopping experience at a big-box purveyor of consumer electronics - the old Onkyo tuner-selector-amplifier in the game room failed on start yesterday morning, which didn't surprise me in the least because the poor old thing was the Missus' from before we got married. Twenty-seven years of hard use, all across this continent, and I'm surprised that it lasted this long. So, off to get a replacement, which turned into quite the expedition; I had a good fifteen - twenty minutes in the store with no attention from the sales people (who were all chatting with each other, and not doing anything with the customers in the place) and after telephone consultation with Herself, we settled for the cheapest and most basic unit for the game room. It works fine, and will do what we want it to do, but the store missed an opportunity to 'up-sell the customer'. Discussing my dissatisfaction with the store proved to be impossible, as neither phone calls or their website led anywhere. So, we shrug our collective shoulders, and walk away; repeat sales there will be difficult for them...

Saturday's game was a lot of fun, and I truly enjoyed it; report and photos shortly. This was, I will be right up front about it, a game on my terms and not on other people's; I have made some decisions about some things that have been happening in my life over the last five years or so, and made some choices about my gaming. This has been precipitated by the event in Portland, to be blunt, and with your indulgence I'm going to take the velvet gloves off the iron fists and pull back the curtain to comment on a few things. Cards on the table time, as it were.


The Great Feud between the Arnesonians and the Gygaxians:

I'm tired of Dave's local supporters trying to stir up trouble down in Lake Geneva at Gary Con; I'll have no part of it, thank you, as I know quite well who did what when and I respect what those guys managed to do. There's been talk of doing a 'Dave Con' like Gary Con, but I doubt it'll ever happen; the people proposing this event have all the organizational ability of a colony of cherrystone clams. If Malia - or Luke and Ernie, for that matter - call, I'll be there for them, and not for the partisan fanatics. Get stuffed.

Religious Bigotry:

I've no patience for this. At all. I dropped an old friend of some forty years from my game group and from my life after she went on a tirade about 'Evangelical Christians' and how they were persecuting her. I hadn't seen any such activity, especially from the members of the game group who fit that description. For that matter, I'm Orthodox Christian, and was also Not Amused. I pointed all this out, and got another tirade to the same effect about 'The Burning Times". All right then; time to say goodby.

LGBTQIetc. Politics In Gaming:

On the one hand, the Tekumel Foundation's President claims that Tekumel is the one and only gay-friendly RPG setting, and that as "a bi-sexual person of color" only he can "properly interpret Tekumel" for the hoi polloi. On the other hand, the President of the North Country Gaylaxians, the Minnesota LGBTQIetc. F/SF fan group that puts on the Gaylaxicon convention, claims that Prof. Barker persecuted him because he's a a gay man, and that Phil hated him for being gay because the Professor was "a devout Muslim". I scent the smell of bovine fecal matter on the wind, as I never saw any of this in my years with Phil; it's now become a hot point in  [EDIT: local ]  Tekumel gaming, and my response is to tell everyone to go out back and settle the issue amongst themselves. Not in my basement, and not with my support.

Sexual Harassment And Assault:

Not tolerated, not here, not ever. Period. Grow up, get a life, and find some maturity. You're not welcome here, or at any event that I support or participate in.

I've been asked, many times, about why I don't do conventions or other public events. These are some of the reasons why; the Missus and I have limits to our time, energy, stamina, and money, an we do not feel the need to facilitate and enable these kinds of behaviors.

End of rant. We now return to our regular programming. Thanks for your patience!

Memorial Day, 2017 - A Pause


It's Memorial Day, and as I usually do on this date I get a little reflective. I got lucky; I had two dads, and both of them had put it all on the line back in 1944 in the Pacific for what they believed in. It's fashionable in some circles, these days, to debate the morality of the Second World War but neither of them had any qualms about their part in it.

Today's photo is from a posting I did, some time back, about some people who run into burning buildings for a living, and didn't come back out. I had also posted something to the same effect on Facebook, and got a pretty unpleasant response from somebody I know saying "Who cares?". I do, having had a firefighter in my extended family who's still a good friend. The commenter is no longer in that category, and after a number of such comments from various people I simply walked away from Facebook. I have no time or patience for such things, or for such people, and I feel that there are better things I can be doing with my life. I don't miss it, and I'll have another post on this kind of nonsense in a few moments; I wanted to separate the upcoming commentary from this note, for reasons which will - I hope - become clear. After that, I'll be reporting on yesterday's game session, and getting some photos up for everyone.

So, while today is a holiday, please take a moment to remember the people who gave us all the opportunity to have it...



Saturday, May 27, 2017

Game room's ready! (Saturday, May 27th, 2017)

Today's game, looking north; general view
The Lost Ruins, ready for adventure!

Pyramids, towers, temples, and mysterious craters

The Underworld, waiting to be explored

The game lounge, all cleaned up
All I have to do is set out the snacks!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Weekly Update - Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 - It's Only Getting Busier!

Celebrating the Tsolyani New Year

This has been a very, very busy time, here at The Workbench; I have two in-house game sessions on hand for the next two weekend, then I'll be at Free RPG Day at The Source Comics and Games on June 17th showing people what we used to get up to at the meetings of the Conflict Simulation Association at Coffman Student Union back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The "Legend of Cleopatra" Indiegogo campaign being run by Dr. M. Burns of Dark Fable Miniatures is steaming along nicely, with - at last look - over 225% funding achieved.

It's also been very busy at work, so I'm more then a little tired out by it all.

Be that as it may, it's also the time of the year when the Tsolyani year clicks over into a new one; I'll have to look, but I think we just passed out of the intercalenary days of 2,395 A.S. and are now in 2,396 A. S., using Prof Barker's custom of adding 379 to the present year to get the Tsolyani year.

Projects are moving along slowly, as I've been repacking a lot of what's stored in the shed and in the game room  and simply finding everything that I own; in some cases, I've simply lost track over the years of where something was packed in all the various rushes to get off to some event happened. Case in point: I went looking for the beige tablecloths that I use for my game table when I'm out and about - they match the table cloth for the smaller of my two Skyline display sets - and I looked everywhere for them. They were, of course, packing in the 'show set' bag with the other table cloths. Right on top of the smaller (four foot high) Skyline display.

Honestly; I'd lose my nose, if it wasn't so firmly attached to my face.

The first batch of Cleopatra's guards are now assembled. These are some of the Victrix plastic infantry, the 'Macedonian Hypastist' (spelling is poor, I suspect.) I have to assemble the two packs of phalanx troops, and then I'll do the second set of Numidian lights; these will use the unarmored / helmetless heads, and I'll give them wicker shields from Foundry - I have a lot of this sort of thing in the parts bins - so that they can also be used alongside my XVIII Dynasty figures and my Tekumelyani. Multi-tasking, in a way, and perhaps getting more for my money. Once everybody is built - they are like little model kits! - then I'll wait for a nice day and apply my usual flat white primer.

I am also going to decorate their shields with decals; they have blank shields, and I thought that this would look a little boring, so I'm reaching back into the parts bins for some decal sheets I got over five years ago and never found a use for. When I did the Old Guard Sea People figures that I got quite a while back, I decorated their plain shields with some nice and fierce-looking decals, and I am very pleased with the effect. (And it does save a lot of fiddly painting, too!) So, we'll try this out; worst comes to worst, I'll have to paint the decals over and start fresh.

I have one other news item; my third daughter and her husband are now financially secure enough to hold a big splashy wedding party - they never had the chance to have one, originally - so I will have the chance to be a Proud Father and a Doting Grandfather, all at once. Hurrah!!!

More news and photos, as I get them!



Monday, May 15, 2017

The Weekly Update - Monday, May 15, 2017 - A Month Of Gaming Ahead!




Two large with low roofing, one small with high...

Two small, one large, all with high roofing...

As promised, here are the photos of the foam cooler buildings I've had in the project waiting list for quite a long while. The roof sections are simply solid foam blocks, cut to shape on the band saw, and glued up and glued to the coolers' lids. The blocks will get sanded and filled, and then painted to represent tiles or slates - probably tiles, as that's what Phil liked.

We don't have a lot of drawings or artwork by Phil of buildings, which is a little odd; but then, I suspect that since he knew his beloved South Asia so well, he assumed that we'd be able to get the idea from his descriptions. So, these are a synthesis of his descriptions and what we have, and I think they'll be fine.

I'd also like to suggest the superb 'Temple City Set" from Stonehouse Miniatures; I have one of these, and it's done yeoman service in our games for years. Please have a look, if you would:


It's going to be a very busy month of gaming for me; two sessions have been booked here at the house, and I've been asked to run some games for Free RPG Day at the FLGS. Barsoom is on the slate, as well as Ancient Egypt; Tekumel is being catered for by John Till and his 'FATE for Tekumel' game; we'll see what else shows up, and we'll have a good time with old friends and new.

So, very busy, and I'll try to keep everyone updated as best as I can. More to come, I hope!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, May 7th, 2017 - Betting On Horses, Dormant Projects, And Raising An Army

Styrofoam cooler or bowl, suitably redone
Foam cups, redone as little towers
Foam picnic coolers, redone as large towers
It was asked, in a comment on last week's update, what the idea was with the foam coolers. Back in the middle 1980s, the wonderfully talented and skillful artist Ken Fletcher use a variety of foam objects to make buildings that we used in our games. Commercial products were both rare and expensive, and so we used these for may years. They eventually would wind up at the local FLGS, and I was eventually able to salvage some of them for my archives.

I also got started on a new set of them; I found that the larger coolers come in several sizes, so I got three or four of each - wanting some spares to cove for 'issues' - and got to work making them roof sections. I'll get a photo of them later today, once the sun comes up, and you can see what I did. I used the usual pink extruded poly styrene foam, cut to size on the band saw at a 15 degree (or so) angle to make the roofing. It was a slow, patient process, but quite fun and I thought pretty easy. A little glue, a little time, and there we are.

This was one of my projects that went dormant for some years; I've been storing the buildings for almost a decade, but I'm now finally getting back to them. I am very pleased with all this movement on old things; I like making things, and this has been a fun project to get back to.

A new project, on the other hand, stems from the Missus and her love of horses. She does a little betting every year on the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders' Cup, and her betting yesterday netted her a tidy sum; she has her own little savings account for this, and occasionally gives me grants from it to do projects that she wants to see. In this particular case, we're backing the latest Dark Fable Indiegogo, "The Legend of Cleopatra", and the Missus wanted to have some palace guards to deal with those pesky Romans camping out in the palace. I was given a budget, and the FLGS provided the Victrix plastic figures.

These will be the first historical troops I've done since the early 1980s, and I'm really looking forward to building this small but nice-looking army. The plastic figures allow for a lot of customization, and we'll be using them in other games, both miniatures and RPGs as needed. You never have enough palace guards, I feel.

In other news, the renovations and reorganization of the basement in both the workshop and the game room - with additional changes in the laundry room - continue. Lots more shelves, lots more project boxes, and it's pretty nice to have everything to hand once again. Things are picking up, and I'm pretty happy about that.

Took Fifth Daughter to the FLGS yesterday as well, so she could stock up on her comics - it's her birthday, and it was Free Comic Day - and had a simply wonderful day out. I've also been asked to run some game sessions for their Free RPG Day on June 17th, which will be fun; John Till is running his excellent FATE for Tekumel game, and I've been asked to run game set in Barsoom and the Ancient Egypt of the Lord Meren series of mystery novels. I think it'll be a fine day out, myself!

Lots more to come!!!


Monday, May 1, 2017

The Weekly Update - May 1st, 2017 - Productivity And Plastic


Urban buildings by Ken Fletcher, circa 1985, in the raw
I seem to be getting my sea legs back under me, as I continue to recover from the various illnesses that have stalked the household for most of the past six months, and stuff is finally getting done. I've been doing a lot of digging in the midden heap that's my work shop, and I'm down to the 1990s layers. All sorts pf wonderful treasures have been rediscovered and put on the shelves, and heaps of debris have been getting shoveled out the door - scrap lumber, the remains of old projects that other people started but never finished, that kind of thing. The Missus and I have been trying help people make their dreams come true for the past twenty-five years, and now we're working on making ours come true.

Her set of the RAFM "Dr. Who" miniatures have been found - I'm replacing the shelving where they've been sitting since 1988 with storage bins for my scale lumber (I make it myself, he said modestly) and will get based and into primer as soon as we get some decent weather; I'm still trying to work out what bases to use for her Elfquest figures. Wasn't there an Elfquest RPG, back in the day, or am I confusing it with something else?

Played in another D&D session yesterday; we're in Jackport, east of Blackmoor, getting trashed by some goblins. I have, I am pleased to report, now up to Second Level, and hugely enjoying myself. looking forward to the next game session, too!

In other news, Rob Kuntz has a book about Dave Arneson available, and there's a graphic novel about Gary Gygax also coming out this week. I may get both; we shall see what the reviews are like.

The new Dark Fable Indiegogo is live, and doing well; we're already past the $4,000 mark, and so some of the stretch goals are now being unlocked. Have a look, if you will:


I am now dithering over getting some Victrix "Successor Phalangites" to serve as palace guards; this is a very slippery slope, as I think I'd then have to get some Late Republican Romans to cause them fits. Suggeestions sought; I find that I can turn out plastic figures in very quick time, so getting some of both done for a game I have in mind would be easy...


And yes, I am working on a truly gigantic project for the game, worthy of Rex Harrison and Elizabeth Taylor. You could, I think, only do this one in plastics; it'd take forever to get enough old figures to do this one...

Barsoon hasn't been forgotten; the plastic for the Eighth Ray Collectors I need for the two sky ships has been dug out and will see the band saw this coming weekend. Luckily, this one will be a floor game. A very big floor game...

And Tim over at TRE games has done some 28mm Japanese buildings, which look to be scaled up versions of his 15mm line; the kits are astonishing, and I may have to invest in them. Please see his website - link on the other column,  as I recall, but:


Photos of all this, as soon as I can shoot them. And yes, I have a batch of those coolers in the shop, with roofing added, just like Ken did for our games thirty years ago...

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Weekly Update - Monday, April 24th, 2017 - News From The Workbench...

Simple Green at work...


First off, I've been able to read your comments on Google+. But, I can't reply to them; something about my browser and computers. We're working on it, but I fear an eventual migration to something like Wordpress may be in order. We shall see.

I'd like to thank everyone who sent the Missus their best wishes; she's doing a lot better now, and was actually able to get out a bit this past weekend. I'm also in good shape, and may be finally recovered from the road trip. So, good news all round, and we're pretty happy campers.

Speaking of the Missus, her six sets of the Ral Partha "Elfquest" figures have all been run through the bath (Simple Green, straight up, for a week) and are now back to their pristine state of raw metal. The Armory brush-on primer she'd used on these back in the late 1980s had not aged well, so off it came and will be replaced by my usual spray-on flat white primer. Much thinner, and you'll be able to see the details on these; they still look good, and I think they'll be fun to paint. Her collection of RAFM 'Dr. Who' figures will also get done at the same time, and they'll see the light of day after almost three decades. Basing will, I think, be our usual 25mm rounds as these are mostly going to get used in RPGs.

Also in the bath, but this time in acetone, have been my fleet of Valiant Miniatures ships. All of the masts and sails have been gently removed, and I'll get the ships put back to their former glory. The soft-metal masts have suffered greatly from the passage of time, so these will get brass wire behind them to make them that much sturdier, and then I'll get the ships back into their paint schemes. In the meantime, the flotilla of laser-cut galleys from TRE Games will be our mainstay for naval games.

The big news around here this week is that the new Indiegogo campaign by Dark Fable Miniatures is up and running:


I'm very pleased with what I'm seeing, and the Missus has announced that we'll be backing this campaign as we have all of the previous ones. I can think of uses for all the figures - while the Macedonians are a wee bit too late for 'Ancient Egypt', my local FLGS has a bunch of Macedonians that they have been 'suggesting' I look into. My thought is being able to play out some of the possible game scenarios from "Cleopatra", like the defense of the Moon Gate of the palace, and as I have some Romans on the shelves it's very doable.

Let's see, what else...

We've had some very fine weather this past weekend, and I managed to get the garden sheds cleaned out and the van unloaded. I've trimmed down our stock of trade show booth items, keeping the two Skyline sets (the table top and the full booth) and disposing of the rest to people who can use them. I'm in the process of organizing up my stocks of scale lumber - the Missus has pointed out that both she and the Daughter-in-residence need to use the laundry room too, and it would be nice if the miniature lumber yard moved into the workshop and onto my shelves.

To hear is to obey.

The plasma screen continues to amaze and astound me with the superb quality of the picture; it's making sorting the lumber very enjoyable - I love those Techicolor epics, and having them on the big screen is a delight. I am still dithering over what to do with the 40" Sony LCD; I'd like to keep it in stock for gaming use, but I do have a potential buyer for the thing. Decisions, decisions!

I and the game room have also been booked for some game sessions, which I am pleased with, and I'm looking forward to hosting guests. Dates are May 27th and June 3rd, starting at one pm; e-mail me if you might want to drop by and see the mayhem.

I think that's everything, for now; much more to come, as I get all caught up with life...