Sunday, November 5, 2017

Arresting The Loading Cycle: The Weekly Update - Sunday, November 5th, 2017

The Indiegogo is funded!!! Woo Hoo!!!

More of Lord Chirine's baggage, courtesy of The Missus

First off, the big news around here is that Mike Burns and Dark Fable miniatures has had the newest Indiegogo campaign fully fund, and we still have three weeks left to run! Five sets of Anubis warriors, one set of the Scorpion Lord's minions, and a two-stage genie that has all of the ladies in the family chortling - she's got a look on her face that tells her summoners to be very, very careful about what they might wish for...

We'll be getting in on this campaign at the 7th level, as we can use all of the figures in our games. (should I do an 'Ancient Egyptian' label to help find things here?) If you haven't looked in on the Dark Fable campaign, may I suggest:

My alter-ego's baggage train also has gotten an addition, courtesy of The Missus and an end-of-season sale; there's a bit in "To Serve The Petal Throne" where the newly-ennobled Lord Chirine's bearers are loading his baggage into the cart for the trip from Meku to Fasiltum, when they find out that their new employer has a chest with a set of cast iron cookware. It's always been a part of our Tekumel gaming to have props around - Phil started it, it's not my fault! :) - and I'd been on the lookout for a sort of camping set for a while; we found this set, 'Fancy Flames' FF240, with all of the cookware needed for comfortable adventuring and a nice chest to load it all into. Coupled with the hand-forged iron fire tripod we got from a blacksmith up on the Iron Range (at the Tower-Soudan Iron Mine, to be precise) we now have all of the campaign / outdoor / camping cooking set for we've always wanted both for ourselves and our player-characters to use.

The Missus is threatening to do a Tsolyani cook-out, next summer. Watch this space.

I still have to replace the little cast-iron grill I used to own, which saw a lot of use on the balconies of the fannish apartment building where I lived and gamed in the late 1970s. It got lost in a move, decades ago, and I do miss the thing. The Missus, Queen of the Internet, says I can get a replacement so that will be something for the future. I have charcoal; she has food; I think we're in business.

One of our dreams, back in the day, was to have a 'trade show booth' where it looked like a Tsolyani merchant or noble had arrived for a visit, and not like the usual 'two-chairs-behind-a-folding-table' routine that we normally had at conventions and shows. We have been collectiong all of the stuff for this over the pat ten years or so, and we can now do this - just for the fun of it, really. When I get some warmer weather, next year, I'll set it all up and post photos of it for everyone. For a 'real' trade show or exhibition, we have the three Skyline displays as seen in these pages; I use these for gaming events and such, as they are quick, easy, and eye-catching.

In other news, the new chests are swallowing up stuff at a truly amazing rate; I have lots of now-spare milk-carton crates and plastic tubs to go back into the household fleet, and I am starting to be able to actually find everything I own. (There's a cordless drill that's been missing for over a year, but I'll find it. Eventually.) The spaces in the game room are getting a lot more empty, which I like as you can see all the good stuff that's down there. Also going into storage will be Castle Tilketl, in it's crate, and some of the large ships in the collection - ever tried storing a 25mm Hlyss nest ship?

So, lots of fun stuff going on; I'm very pleased with the developments, and looking forward to be able to do my own 'call in show' from my game room / studio! :)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Making My Dreams Come True (III) - The Logistics

The Old Reliable: M-1956 US Army cooler
What's in my future...

Ah, the joys of surplus shopping! Once again, my favorite form of consumerism has paid off; I took delivery of ten heavy-duty storage chests this past week. The significance of that, in regards to my gaming activities, is that all of the game stuff I have in plastic tubs out in the shed will come indoors to the basement game room, and all the show production stuff that I've been accumulating for years will go into these shipping chests out in the shed. All of the mains leads, tabletop displays, lighting, graphics, and everything else we could only dream of back in the days of the 'Akbar and Jeff Traveling Tekumel Road Show' (as Mike Mornard used to describe our trips to conventions to sell Tekumel) when we had no money but unlimited enthusiasm will now live in the chests and stay loaded. I.e., I won't have to be moving stuff around in the basement just to have a game, any more.

It also means that for events like Free RPG Day, all I have to do is a quick 'throw and go' to get ready for the events. I have learned the hard way, over the decades, that if I don't have the asset under my direct control, I won't have the asset. So, what's happening is that all my patient building up of resources over the past few years is finally coming together. There are some amazing things on the way, and I think you'll be amused and delighted. :)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Making My Dreams Come True (II) - Turning The Tables

30" by 60", 30" tall. Four of, as they say in the army.

One of the age-old issues I've run into as a gamer has been getting the right tables for games. Most convention and event venues have round tables, intended for banquets and other food functions, and miniatures gaming usually needs square or rectangular tables. I ran into this problem as recently as this past spring at the local game convention, where the game's runner had asked for four tables like the one above, and got a five-foot round by the time the hotel set-up people had set the room. I was able to help with that, as I 'speak hotel' and 'convention committee', and so we got the tables we needed.

For over a decade, I've had three of my own 30" x 60" tables - again, like the one above - and I've more or less standardized on them as gaming tables for my larger games. I'd been wanting to get a fourth for some time - like, right after the recent local convention, but prices have gone from $25 to $50 each for these tables over the past decade and that's a bit steep for my wallet. Enter surplus sales: I was able to get my fourth table last week, in very good shape and for $25. I am, as you might imagine, pretty pleased!

So, yet another of my dreams has come true. I can now run any of my games any time, any place, just the way I want them. I have already built and run Phil's two miniatures games that he published in "The Dragon", Chanis and Ry, and I also have our fights at Castle Tilketl and Anch'ke built as well. (Not to mention the fight with the Hlutrgu, too!) I'm going to build our epic fight at Third Mar, which really does need the bigger table, and perhaps some of the other battles we fought out at Phil's on his tables.

So, lots more to come, and lots more fights to win! Hurrah!!!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Making My Dreams Come True - The Weekly Update for Monday, October 30th, 2017

The stuff that dreams are made of...

It was a sort of unhappy week last week here at the Workbench, with some bad news about people we know coming across the wires, but things perked up considerably over the weekend; one daughter helped another move, and after several trips with  four ferrets,  one bunny, and Skipper the Three-Legged Cat, everything got moved and only the cleaning remains. It's her first real house, and it was a lot of fun to get her installed. I also got more figures painted while I sat by Fifth Daughter's game group getting into trouble, which is always relaxing and a tonic.

As I've mentioned once in a while, I've put in the past forty years making other peoples' dreams happen - like in gaming with Dave Arneson at Adventure Games - and I've learned a few lessons along the way. Who can be trusted, who can be relied on when the chips are down, how to manage events, and how to make things both organized and easier to deal with.

Back in earlier years of my working life, I built some of the first teleconferencing and distance learning systems that were being installed here in the Twin Cities. One of my dreams has always been a desire to combine that kind of technology with my gaming, so that people need not travel all the way up here to the Northwoods to game with me.

That dream came true, this past weekend. A friend, who is another one of us surplus bargain hunters, needed some help with a couple of projects; he traded me one of his surplus finds, a video production rack full of equipment, for my time and effort. This rack is one of those stand-alone room systems, and has all of the gear to integrate all of my existing equipment into a complete video production facility; I can wire the game room once,  and then record game sessions and upload them to the Internet - or run live on the Internet, and have people call in on the phone and 'appear' remotely as players. And I can do things like the DVD I've been planning for the new edition of my miniatures rules - a reader noted that I would need to write the rules in such a way as to teach them to players, as I could not be there to teach them. My response was to provide a DVD (or YouTube video, for that matter) in which I run a game to show how the game works 'on the table'. He thought it was an amazingly good idea, so that's what we'll do.

So, that's the first dream come true. Others are as well, and I'll keep all of you posted as they happen - and I get photos shot... :)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Please Consider Helping, If You Can...

No, I don't know Stacy. No, I don't think she knows me, either. We found out about this earlier this week and The Missus, who is a breast cancer survivor, thought I should say something and I agree with her. An RPGer needs our help, and if you can , here's the link to the cancer fund - as we know, copays are pretty expensive.

Thanks for your time in reading this, and if you can help, thank you from both me and The Missus.

Friday, October 27, 2017

For Tim Knight - An Answer To Your Questions

That's me. Jeff Berry. Himself.

One of the oddities of my computer is that it's too old to run a browser that Google+ recognizes socially. (This too shall change, in the fullness of time.) One of the long-time readers of this blog sent me a message via Google+, which messages I can read but not directly reply to. So, here's a reply to Tim, with my answers interleaved with his text...

From: Tim Knight  Oct 27, 8:43 AM

Dear Chirine (apologies, after all these years of 'knowing' you, I don't know your non-Tekumel name!),

Jeff Berry. An odd part of my relationship with Phil (Prof, Barker) was that he always called me 'Chirine', never - with one exception - 'Jeff'.

I've published my HeroPress blog for 10 years. The other year I ran a series of 'profiles' of bloggers, under the banner of SIX OF THE BEST (as everyone answers the same six simple questions about their blog and blogging in general).

I'm about to launch a second wave of profiles and was wondering if you would be willing to participate? (You can find links to the first wave here:

Sure; be happy to!

If you are, please answer the questions below and send them back to me in your own time. If you have any images you'd like me to use (I usually run three or four with the interviews), please feel free to send them as attachments - otherwise I'm more than happy to source my own.

Feel free to use anything from this blog or my Photobucket page. Otherwise, let me know what you'd like to see, and I'll dig something up for you.

The questions are:
(1) How long have been blogging, and how’d you get into it in the first place?

Heck, I don't really know. The original version of this little effort got started some eight years ago, I  think. I started this as a way to talk about gaming with Phil in his creation, and it went on from there. There was a lot of blogging going n back then, and I thought it might be fun.

(2) What do you blog about, and how frequently do you post?

My gaming, my miniatures, my adventures, and life in general.

(3) How does your blog stand out from all the rest?

No idea. Seriously. I think about the only really 'unique' feature of this blog is that it's the on-going story of Phil's original Thursday night gaming group, with ran from 1976 to 1988.

(4) What’s the best (and worst) thing about blogging?

Being able to talk with people about our adventures. Trying to say something intellegnt on a regular basis.

(5) Do you have any self-imposed rules (or guidelines) for your blog?

Yes, very much so. See the 'Pages' section for this, where I have 'The Rules Of Engagement'.

(6) Name one blog everyone should be reading (other than your own).

Tenkar's Tavern, for gamers; yours, for fans in general.

I cannot stress enough that this isn't a financial deal, there's no pressure, no advertising, no obligation. It is primarily a bit of fun to spread the love of blogging and our geeky hobbies.

Sounds good to me!

I look forward to hearing from you, whether you're participating, want to know more, or just telling me to sling my hook.

Well, here you go. Does this help?

- Chirine / Jeff

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Weekly Update - The Van Is Back, and Why I'm Not *Playing* Games Anymore

The Book of Job, Chapter 39, Verse 24 seems appropriate.

Saying 'Thank You" to a great player...

The good news, for people who follow our misadventures, is that the van is back. The Missus, bless her, found a place that could get it up and running for what we and our insurance company could afford. So, the old warhorse is back in action, holding the line for a year while we work on getting a new car to get around in. I am pretty happy; it's been a miserable week.

Bob Meyer, 'Robert the Bald' to you Blackmoor fans, ran a Blackmoor game today at The Source; Bob inherited The Original Blackmoor Campaign from Dave Arneson after the latter passed away, by the express wish of same. Bob occasionally runs games, and maintains that original tone and color that made our gaming with Dave in his creation so fun and memorable.

I didn't play in the game; my daughter had her usual Sunday game group, and I had my 'alternate Workbench' off to one side where I had a great afternoon painting miniatures and listening to the mayhem going on off to my flank. I also organized cake and ice cream for one of the players / GMs who had a birthday today; this was one of the wonderfully gifted players who made my game sessions at The Source's 'Free RPG Day' so much fun and so memorable. The cake and ice cream went over very well, and the cast chocolate "Star Wars" candies provided by the Missus were particularly welcomed by the ravening hordes.

And, in a wonderful moment, Bob and the Blackmoor players came over and sang "Happy Birthday" to the Guest of Honor. Couldn't ask for better, really!!!

Today's not playing marks the first time I've declined a game in quite a while. I've made the decision, after my recent experiences in playing D&D 5e and having been bombarded by a number of gaming-related unpleasant incidents both on-line and in recent months, to not play in games any more. I will still run games, and still continue to write about them, but I just seem to have lost all interest in playing in them. I will still continue to build my models and paint my miniature figures, but the emphasis is no longer on being able to have cool stuff for game sessions but instead to have cool stuff for inclusion in "To Serve The Petal Throne".

I think a big part of this decision is due to the legal hassles I've faced and the annoyance I've had to deal with over my gaming. It's gotten old, and I'm tired of it. I don't need to run games to have fun, and I suspect some folks have not been able to understand that. Too bad for them. I am delighted that people have so much fun in their games, and I'll be delighted to support them as we move along; my participation in gaming is going to be on my terms, and for my enjoyment from now on.

And no, I don't think I'm throwing the baby out with the bath water; I'll still run games for people who ask me too, as this seems to be a successful thing for everyone involved; I just am not  playing in other people's games, at this point. We go on; lots of fun stuff going on, and I'll keep everyone updated!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

An Essay, of Sorts: An Answer For Jeff B. Regarding 5e...

From Sunday's game session
I got a comment on the Sept. 18th post that I thought deserved a longer and better reply:

If you could modify 5e to your tastes, what would you change?

In a nutshell, simplify and add lightness. The stack of books that seem to be the game boggled me, for starters, and then reading through them got me wondering how I'd be able to keep it all straight in my head during a game.  It came to me that some of the players can do this, and others use apps to do it for them; what I found annoying was the plethora of races, classes, sub-classes, factions, and all of the special rules that went along with each. Now, some of the player do have all this down cold; one, in particular, kept reminding the GM of some special rule or calculation throughout the course of the game and I thought that it really slowed down the pace of the game to have to hit the 'pause' button while the smart phones and tables came out to run the numbers.

I'm sorry, but I don't regard this as much fun; I came to play in an RPG, not take a course in higher algebra. I have very limited amounts of free time and energy, and I found all the special rules just too much to keep my interest and energy going in the game.

I do want to be fair to the GM; he was trying very hard to keep the game going while playing the rules as published. I found this admirable; I also find that I much prefer the way that they GMs in Fifth Daughter's game group routinely leave the rules in the book and rune 'rules lite' in their games. They use the rules as a tool, not as an objective.

I genuinely don't know if one could have a version of 5e that appeals to me; I'm used to the way that some old guys used to play, which was very 'rules lite' and very heavy on role-playing and not roll-playing. I guess I'm saying 'Less rules, more adventure.'

Again, in fairness to the GM and the players in this group, I want to be clear that I had no issues with their play style or anything; I just had no idea what they were talking about, most of the time, or hat all the calculations were all about.

I should also mention that the GM and players have invited me to be part of their next game session, in November, as a sort of 'associate GM'; they want to visit the world of the Petal Throne, and they want me to run it for them. The campaign's regular GM will handle the rules; I will handle the world setting for them. 

I have hopes, and I will report back on what happens.

The Weekly Update - Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 - Losing The Old Warhorse

The Scene Of The Crime

First, the bad news, then the good news:

I came out of work last night, and found that some thoughtful person or persons unknown had stolen the catalytic converter off the van while it was parked in the street next to my building. I called the police, as I would need to have a report for my insurance company, and it got to be a very late night out. The police were very helpful, though, if a little deafened by the thunder of six cylinders all roaring away. The Missus in Not Amused, as she shelled out some $2,000 for repairs after our trip to CinncyCon to keep the old warhorse running.

The van has now been seen by our insurance company, and has been declared a total loss as the 'book value' of a ten-year-old cargo van with 335,000 miles on it is less then the cost of getting the converter replaced. We've been offered $425 if we keep it, $825 if they scrap it, so The Missus is running the numbers to see if we can get a cheap ($1,000 or less) fix to keep us going or if we can find a used car for cheap. One complication is that the used dishwasher that Second Daughter was going to take for her new house is still in the back of the van, so we may have to 'borrow' it long enough to deliver the goods - unless we can find somebody with a pickup or something.

Net result, we're probably going to lose our 'heavy lift capability' that we've had for over a decade, as I don't think we'll be able to get anything larger then a regular type of car with our current budget. We're not particularly worried by this, as our need for this capability lapsed with the cancellation of the proposed Tekumel Room at Gary Con a while back; we needed cheap - read 'in-house' - lift to make that event really happen, and with it being highly unlikely that we'll ever need to do it again we really don't need to keep nursing the old warhorse along. I had a feeling, after the CinncyCon trip, that that excursion was going to be ours and the van's swan song; it took us a month to recover from the journey, and we had to put almost $2,000 into repairs to keep the van running afterwards.

While we had been hoping to get one more year out of the van, we have been preparing for it's eventual demise for over a year. All of the 'trade show booth' gear we've been building up will fit in a standard car, and if we we're being booked for a really splashy show - we can put on a show very much like the one done this past year for Gen Con about the history of RPG gaming, but specifically for Tekumel - there'll be a budget for renting a full-sized van to carry all the goodies to the show. Our plans for what we're doing in the future and how we do it are really focusing on "To Serve The Petal Throne" and we're more or less reconfiguring our in-house assets towards that end. Losing the van and the 'heavy lift' is not really a loss for us; we really haven't used it in years, except to help our friends out at CinncyCon, and we really don't want to keep putting money into a vehicle with all that mileage on it.

So, while I'm annoyed at the timing of all this - during my work week, and about a year earlier then we really wanted - we'll deal.

On the other hand, I had a really great time at The Source this past weekend. Fifth Daughter's game group was a hoot to listen to, as always, and then Dear Old Dad got called in to provide Sage Counsel And Advice on how to assemble and paint plastic figures. After that, it was off to dinner with old friends, which was a delight as always.

I also encountered one of my old players from my campaign, who wants to start their own game group and wants my help with that. Specifically, how to play in Ye Olde Style, and so I will have an Apprentice around the turn of the year. I'm looking forward to that - but I had better get the game room cleaned up!

So, some good news, some bad news. We've survived worse, and kept on going... :)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Another Update - Saturday, October 7th, 2017 - The Day The World Changed

Today's program book...

Today will, I suspect, be listed in my future Unauthorized Autobiography as The Day The World Changed. Eh? I can hear you say; that's a pretty dramatic statement, even for this blog. So, here's the deal...

The Daughter-in-Residence is, as has been noted, a big comics fan. She's never been to a comics convention here in the US (having loved abroad for many years) and she wanted to go to the local one that happened today. However, she wanted her dad to go with her, officially for moral support but actually to carry the heaps of comic books that she was sure to add to her collection. I will freely admit that I am not a comics fan, but when the daughter asks, the father does as best as he can. So, off we went; she had a great time, I nearly lost some fingers from the circulation being cut off, but everything went fine.

I had a most amazing and wonderful time. I was wandering around, doing a little browsing of the various sales tables, when I got into conversation with some very nice people about RPG gaming. They were astonished that I'd been there Back In The Day, and had played with Dave, Phil, and Gary. I had a lot of fun telling stories about them and their games, and what amazed me was just how many people really enjoyed hearing about how they ran their games. People actually took notes, which amazed me; I felt that the day was quite a success on all sorts of levels.

We also got to talking about the joys of being in  the digital publishing era, and that's when my world changed. As I've noted before, I am working on this little tome about our adventures in Phil's world where we had so many years of sheer terror and rollicking fun. One thing I had wanted to do was illustrate the book with photos of all our miniatures in action; I still have all of the figures I did for our games, and I thought it would be fun to be able to show my readers what we saw on Phil's game table - we used miniatures for 'tactical displays' as well as for the larger battles we fought out in his campaign.

A big part of the game sessions back in those far-off days was the row of artists along the north side of Phil's game table; Ken Fletcher, Kathy Marshall, Chris Huddle, Jim Garrison, to name a few. Every now and then, you'd hear some noise from over there, and shortly after a drawing would get passed around for people to admire. Phil added to these with his own drawings, and we published most of all of them in our 'zines, the Imperial Military Journal, The Journal Of Tekumel Affairs, and The Imperial Courier. Just like my frantically painting up the latest Dire Peril, these artists made gaming out at Phil's something truly special.

I want very much to convey to people the sense of sheer fun we had gaming with Phil, back in the late 1970s and through the 1980s - using the same miniatures we had will help, as will my accounts of our antics - er, adventures. I had been thinking about illustrations, and talking to my old gaming colleagues, when it hit me today - standing in the middle of this huge room, it suddenly hit me that besides being full of comic book, the room was full of the people who create them: artists.

So, in order to give all of you some feel for what those thursday nights were like for us in the original game group, I collected lots and lots of names, and took a lot of notes. I also got some prints, which I'll try to share here, and had a great time talking about Phil and his creation.

It was, in short, a marvelous day.

(Note: I am updating the "To Serve The Petal Throne" page to reflect today's developments.)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Weekly Update - Thursday, October 5th, 2017 - Dave Arneson Day, and Out With the New And In With The Old!

Well, I had fun...

There have been a few changes to the scene...

There didn't seem to be any local events going on for Dave Arneson Day, but my daughter's RPG group invited me to talk about the man himself - I told 'Dave Stories' for about two hours, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

The game room has been assuming what I suspect will be the final form for the place; I've added a lot of new shelving under the game table proper and removed the former 'accessories' drawers, replacing them with more shelving for my expanding Barsoom and Aegyptian miniatures. I'm returning to the kind of thing in gaming that I enjoy, and now that my energies are returning I'm able to act on this both in terms of the miniatures I love and in the 'physical plant' that we have in the game room.

I've also been able to get back to writing; I'm cranking out something like 1,000 to 2,000 words a night. Once again, the words are just seeming to flow - our adventures almost seem to write themselves!

We have a comics convention this weekend, followed by some more furniture moves; Sunday will see my daughter back in the thick of things with her game group, using Dad's dice collection. So, w're busy, but it's a good kind of busy!

More to come - and with photos, too!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sharing A Family Moment, If I May...

I hope that I may be forgiven for a certain amount of paternal pride in Fifth Daughter being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa...

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Weekly Update - Thursday, September 28th, 2017 - Stability and Tranquility

I have no further information on this, sorry...

I'm back; I'm just finishing my second week in my new position. It has been a lot of fun, and I am regaining my energy and stamina. I am very pleased with this, and so is the family - I can actually do things, after I get home!

The Daughter-In-Residence had a comics show last weekend, and then a game session with her new game group. I provided transportation and moral support - I also carried the baggage - and she had a great time.

I will not be posting until later this coming weekend; I have to help a Daughter move house, and then take another Daughter out gaming. It'll be busy, but fun, and I'll have lots more to say afterwards.

Till then, have a great time in your own games!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, September 18th, 2017 - D 20 Adventure: "The Redwood Scar"

Some quick bits of personal news, then on to gaming stuff:

I am on my new work schedule starting tomorrow; I am moving back to an afternoon/evening shift, which I think will help me quite a bit. New assignments, new responsibilities, and (if I may say so) a nice raise in pay. I am expecting that my productivity will increase quite a lot; I am not a 'morning person', and being awake leter in the day will allow me to get a lot more done here at The Workbench.

We found a nice little Sony 'Cybershot' camera recently, and the photo above was taken with this. It uses the 'Memory Stick Pro' memory units, and I get something like 725 photos per stick with this camera. As a result, I think I'll be using this compact little camera for documenting games; I don't have to stop and reload sticks every 125 photos, like I do with my current digital camera.

Played in the D&D 5E campaign at the FLGS, today; this is set in the D20 "Blackmoor"series of books. We were involved in the adventures given in the suppliment "The Redwood Scar", and we managed to beat off the zombies that were menacing the village that we had been staying the night in. Had a quick side adventure from the same book, and then got the party back to the village to a place of relative safety.

I am not, I will admit, very happy with the 5e rules, but then I am not very happy with really any of the various editions of D&D that I've seen go by over the past forty years of my gaming life. I freely admit that I am spoiled by having played in the original Blackmoor setting with Dave Arneson and the original Greyhawk with Gary Gygax; their pace and ability to weave a wonderful tale really shaped the way I game and the way I look at gaming. The current incarnations of their game don;t do much for me, so I have dropped out of this group. Great players, solid GM, but all the number-crunching and calculations the rules seem to mandate are neither something I like or enjoy.

We'll see where my gaming goes, in the future; the more I get back to the basics I learned all those years ago, the more fun I and others seem to have.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Weekly Update - September 10th, 2017 - Astonishing Things Happening, Hereabouts!

Hokun - from David Allen and Howard Fielding

It's been an astonishing week in my life. As you can see from the photo, Howard Fielding has come up with transparent Hokun - something that we dreamed of for years, out at Phil's. have a look - link off to the right.

Mike Burns of Dark Fable has given some hints of what he's planning for future releases, and The Missus is already rubbing her hands with glee over them. Please see his announcement in the Updates to the 'Legend of Cleopatra' Indiegogo:

Servitors of Lord Qon. anyone?

Projects on the Workbench are hitting high gear; I've been cleaning up and re-shelving in the game room and in the workshop, and a great many projects that had fallen by the wayside are back on the front burners. My energy levels are up, the tools are sharp, and the sheet goods are all earmarked for projects. Life is good, if you asked me. I'm painting again, I'm writing again, and I am enjoying myself again. Could not ask for more, really!

My gaming is also picking up; I was in a truly great 'pulp' RPG yesterday, serving as the GM's resource base, and I had immense amounts of fun. Where it looks like I'm heading is a sort of 'resource on the hoof' role, where people can use what I know and my skills to enhance their games. I'm really enjoying this; I'm also getting asked to run games for people, and that's always a lot of fun for me.

And I start my new shift a week from tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to that as well. Thnigs are really looking up, and I'm very pleased with both that and the good mood I'm in.

Onward! :)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Weekly Update - Tuesday, September 5th, 2017 - Girls For The Girls!

Shield-maidens for The Daughters, others for me...

I think I can say that I had good holiday weekend; lots of stuff got done around the house, and many fun things were done on various excursions. The Workbench is still a mess, because I'm painting rather then cleaning, but that's my problem.

Lots and lots of family news; my father-in-law is out of the hospital and walking around (slowly, but he's walking), The Missus has had her annual cancer check-up and has passed with flying colors, Fifth Daughter has a 4.0 GPA and has been invited to join her school's Honor Society, and I am moving back to second shift in two weeks with an increase in pay. (Yes, we're a  little busy hereabouts.)

I am having a whee of a good time, in amongst the myriad of other things I'm up to, getting the plastic shield-maidens assembled. The girls are pretty happy with "their girls", as they call them. and I'm very happy at the quick and easy assembly work that I did. There are an immense number of variations possible with this set - Fifth Daughter calculated that there are over 103 million variations possible with one set of 24 figures, and I don't doubt her - so it took a little planning and forethought to get everything going - you get a lot of parts!

Fifth Daughter also did a little research and worked out the proportions of hair colors and skin tones that would likely be present in a selection of these miniature ladies, assuming that we're looking at a group of Viking Era / "Vikings" TV series / "Game of Thrones" TV series mercenaries / raiders / player-characters; it turns out that it's a 4:3:2:1 ration for black, brown, blonde, and red hair. Inside that spectrum, I also worked out several different shades of each hair color.

To add to the fun, my co-workers all encompass this same spectrum, so I was able to match hair colors to skin tones all across the range - the paints I have in stock are certainly getting a workout. I, as well as the Daughters, are very happy with the result - a bunch of very fierce and determined women from a broad spectrum of humanity. And, as a result, they all look en masse like all the extras ever hired by a motion picture or television producer for their big-budget epic.

In short, my girls are happy, my Missus is happy, so I'm happy.

By the by, I was also reviewing some of my old blog posts on miniatures, and I realized that I hadn't done the one I promised on why I get the miniatures I do, and how I paint them. So, that'll be next, with photos of examples...

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Weekly Update The Second - Sunday, August 27th, 2017 - Interlude Two: The Game of Daughters

The box art, which doesn't do the figures justice

You get three of these sprues - 12 figures

You get two of these sprues - 12 figures

Every two weeks, I take my Fifth Daughter up to The Source Comics and Games so she can buy her bi-weekly ration of comics. As mentioned a while back, she also picked out some Dark Sword Miniatures figures for herself and her next-oldest sister; their older sister, as well as their two more senior sisters, already have personality figures in the collection for use in my campaigns. (1)

So, we were in the FLGS yesterday to get her comics on the way to getting the weekly groceries when we spotted two boxes of these plastic figures from Shield Wolf Miniatures on the shelf back in the plastic models section. Readers will recall that I had, on a previous excursion, cleaned out all of the Ancients figures from these shelves at the urging of the Missus, who felt that if I was going to do the 'Legend of Cleopatra' I'd better get it right - or she'd tell Phil on me, and he'd summon the Curse of The Mummy, or Cursed Hippos, or Something; Phil was, let us never forget, an unabashed Ancient Egyptian who took the Roman conquest very personally. Hence the Workbench being aswarm with the various Macedonians and Romans that I have been working on and mentioning in these pages.

Fifth Daughter saw these really quite nice figures - the box art does not do the very crisp and clean casting any justice - and dropped a heavy-handed hint that she and her sister would be very pleased if they had armies of their own; their older sister is more of a classical mind, and has laid claim to the wonderful Ral Partha Amazons that I got back this past spring at Cinncy Con. You can see the three packs I got at:

Her younger sisters seem to resent this martial minature supremacy to some degree, and - being an indulgent parent (and, to be frank, on the theory that Phil first elaborated as a rule of campaigning: "If they're carving each other up, then they'll be too busy to carve you up.") - I got the two boxes on offer and then went to get the groceries.

Much delight with these figures, even with them still on the sprue! We've always needed some ferocious women warriors to go with our fierce Nluss menfolk, and these ladies will certainly fill the part. They'll also serve equally well as other warriors in other settings, like Blackmoor - we do see visitors from there in Tekumel, remember - and they may make an appearance in the 'Legend of Cleopatra' game as mercenaries from the Land of the Amazons, which any educated Greek or Roman knew was just the other side of the Black Sea.

These figures have some novel features in their construction, as they have separate backs to their torsos; these can be exchanged for the hooded cloaks as well. There are also lots of different parts and options, which means that no two of any of these figures will look the same after I get done with them. I'll also do a little 'kit-bashing' as well, so as to get some left-handed figures, but by and large these figures are so well-done that I expect to have very little to do besides glue them together and paint them.

EDIT; Added link:

I have no idea what they're all plotting, but I do expect some miniatures gaming in the best M. A. R. Barker tradition is about to occur. If First Son-In-Law asks for some classical Chinese troops and Second asks for Native Americans from the Great Plains, then I'll have a family campaign on my hands...

Not that I'll mind, of course! :)

Footnote 1: Yes, it's complicated. First Daughter is also the most senior, followed by Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth in order of arrival. Third is the oldest, followed by Fourth, Fifth, First, and Second. First was the high school best friend of Second, who introduced Third to her husband (Second Son-in-law); Third is the sister of Fourth (who is married to First Son-in-law) and Fifth (who introduced First Son-in-law to Fourth Daughter) - they all arrived as a 'package deal'.

And yes, I do have a big white board to keep track of all this.

The Weekly Update The First - Sunday, August 27th, 2017 - Interlude One: Family News

First up today, I have good news and bad news. My beloved father-in-law had his surgery Monday, and is doing just fine; he'd had a series of nasty falls and broken bones over the past year, as well as other health issues, so things were a little dicey heading into Monday's proceedure. All is well, though; he's out of the hospital and into a managed care facility; we're very pleased with his progress!

Sadly, at the same time we were all in the surgery family waiting room, an old friend of my Missus' family was in the ER with a very severe cardiac event. She did not survive, I am very sorry to have to say. We were at her visitation last night, and saw all of my wife's childhood friends.

In other news, I am delighted to be able to report that my Fifth Daughter, currently the Daughter-In-Residence, is a straight 'A' student at her college and maintaining a 4.0 GPA. We are all very, very proud of her, as you might imagine!

More in a moment!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, August 20th, 2017 - Fifty Years Of Gen Con, And Other News

Brett Slocum at Con of the North

Well, here we are at fifty years of Gen Con; it's also that time of the year when Con of the North (Minnesota) and U-Con (Michigan) start to look at their events for the upcoming conventions. You can fnd out more about these two excellent conventions on the Tekumel Yahoo group, which is run by Brett Slocum.

The emphasis here at the Workbench, right now, is that my father-in-law is going in tomorrow to have a cancerous kidney removed. So, if you'll forgive me, I'll be back later on this week with more in the way of gaming news; we're a little distracted, right now...


Monday, August 14, 2017

The Weekly Update - Monday, August 14th, 2017 - The Ultimate Braunstein?

Urban adventures - always one of Phil's specialties!
A couple of inquiries have come in over the transom, and I'll try to address them and let all of you know what I'm getting up to, these days.

Why all the recent talk about Romans and Macedonians? I thought that this blog was about Tekumel?

It is, more or less, and you can blame Phil and his love of Ancient Egypt and the Successor period; I was introduced to these by him, and I'm finding them fascinating.

Are you painting these figures for a specific game?

Yes, four specific games actually. What I'm building is what may be my greatest game ever, in the forty-some years I've been at this kind of thing. One of the neatest features of gaming with Phil was his talent for running urban adventures. Simply going to the marketplace for a little shopping always turned into an adventure, and we had some really rollicking good times playing in them. I enjoyed doing up the figures and details for these games with what limited resources we had back in those days - and doing them now with all the wonderful figures and models that we have available to us now is really a joy for somebody like me.

Will this be a Braunstein, like the one you ran at Fantasy Flight Games' Event Center?

Yes, it will. It'll be a big game on the ground - maybe on the floor or on a set of risers, I'm not sure - about nine feet by nine feet square on one of my big canvas ground sheets that has been suitably painted.

You said four games - can you tell us which ones?

Yes. I'll be running them in my favorite world settings: Tekumel, Barsoom, Lord Meren's Ancient Egypt, and The Epic Aegyptus of Hollywood-on-the-Nile. What makes this possible is the same operating method of any large theater or film studio - generic 'standing sets', suitably 'dressed' with the appropriate set elements and props. In addition, I've got the miniature figures to run all four settings with the appropriate cast, and I may even break down and re-create the film crew that I did aeons ago for a "Call of Cthullu" campaign. ("Ready when you are, C. B.!" for you old film buffs.)

Each game will be different, with different 'sides' with different objectives. You pick your card, and you get some extras to help you with your mission / goals. Typical Braunstein, really.

When are you going to run these?

Next year, most likely. I have to build the studio sets from the MDF up, and this process got started this past weekend when I fell to work sorting all the neat stuff that my Daughter-In-Residence has managed to find for me. She works for the Swiss version of Michael's Crafts, and has access to the most amazing catalog of stuff that we simply do not see over on this side of the pond.

How can I play in one of these games?

Find and reserve a big enough room, set a date, and get in touch with me. You provide the venue and the players, and I'll provide the game. We'll work something out... :)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, August 6th, 2017 - Arrivals, Assemblies, and Primers

Two cohorts, assembled and with primer
The scorpion and crew

Infantry, personalities, guards, and the gaming scene

Pillars with flames, gongs, and rugs

Personalities and the extra gong set (for a gift)

It's been a busy week; the 'Legend of Cleopatra' figures arrived, just as I was finishing gluing up my two cohorts of Romans, so I got cracking and got everyone assembled and based. Did the primer coat yesterday, while dodging the rain, and I think they've come out very well.

The Romans are nice, as I mentioned, and about the only gripe I have with them is that they are so light. I've put them on TRE Games bases, for a little weight, and I think they'll be fine. The 'new' cohort has the wolfskins on their standard-bearer and musician, and the 'veterans' have bearskins. I will also do their centurions' crests in different colors.

The scorpion is a very finely molded and delicate bit of kit. I like it, and I'll have to give it a steel base or something. The one figure has his helmet in one hand, and a headband, as I'm doing him as Decius from the battle scene in "Gladiator" - everybody has to start somewhere, eh?

Over on the metal side of the workbench, we have nine Ancient Egyptian figures, all of whom will be useful  in my games. The Queen herself, and assorted officials, court ladies and attendants. I particularly like the gong set; we got a second set to do as a gift for an old friend and her shop in South Minneapolis. We have four pillars with fires going on top of them; I used white glue to assemble these, in the hope that I eventually come up with a way to make the fires actually glow. (1) The 'lionskin rug' was one item that the Missus insisted we get, just for the fun of it.

There's also a nice little unit of infantry, some armored and some not. They'll all make for good palace guards, I think, and I like the assortment of active and dynamic poses mixed in with the static guard post types.

We also have three Temple of Set guards, a Prophet of Set in armor with helmet, a Heroine, and a sample from the next Dark Fable Indiedgogo, for Anubis warriors. And, of course, the little gaming scene - we got the seated lady as well, as we can always use seated figures and furniture!

I've been asked what all these figures are for, and they are intended to be used in a series of Braunsteins on the order of my legendary (and infamous!) Great Mos Eisley Spaceport Raid. I have figures to do four variations on this game: Tekumel, the Ancient Egypt of Lord Meren, Barsoom, and the Ancient Egypt of Cleopatra. It'll be a big game, with lots of players and figures, and even more opportunity for mayhem and skullduggery.

In other news, I have also been working on getting the game room and game lounge rebuilt and reset. Today's task was moving the suits of armor on their mannequins, which took most of the afternoon - those suits are heavy, when you're not wearing them! The goal is to set up the lounge to allow us to enjoy my collection of vintage and modern movies in some style and comfort; we have the facilities, so we might as well get some use out of them. I also have to move Castle Tilketl in it's packing crate out to the storage shed, as well as some more boxes, bales, and bins that need to move out there.

So, the sorting and packing continues. A long process, but I think we'll all be a lot happier when we're done. More accessibility, more utility, and more fun in the offing! :)

(1) LEDs, for starters, and /or a black light with the flames in glowing paint. I'll think of something.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Weekly Update - July 30th, 2017 - Legions On The March - On The Workbench, Actually...

This is the newer box, with the scorpion in it.

A new box for me, with some issues for me...

As reported in these pages, I have gotten two boxes of Early Imperial Romans for use in my big-budget Techicolor SuperCinemaScope version of "Cleopatra". I had gotten a couple of boxes of the legionaries years ago when they first came out, to convert into Chris (Bear) Huddle's 32nd Imperial Medium Infantry - The Legion of the Translucent Emerald - for doing the Sirsum micro-campaign and specifically the Battle of Anch'ke. (They are getting new standards, by the way; I am just not happy with how I did the old ones...)

The 'Legionaries' set is the reissued box of Warlord figures, with three command and 17 line troops - you also get two troopers with the scorpion. All are the standard sprues, and they look very good; the decal sheet for the shields is even better, as it's got the central hole for the shield boss already cut out - earlier sheets had to have this cut out by hand, which is a pain in the butt. Use a very sharp pointed knife. There are not a lot of options on these sprues; you do get extra helmets and pila, which is nice, and the scorpion sprue does have more arm options. All in all, a most satisfying box of troopers.

The 'Veterans' set is also up top the same high standards, but no artillery. (Artillery I got, by the pound.) I have two small niggles about this box; one, some of the 'battle-damaged' shields are in very rough shape, to the point that I'd be picking up something from the ground to use in a fight. I'll replace the really badly damaged ones with spares - I keep everything, just for things like this - and I think everything will work out just fine. The damaged shields will get used in a repair shop diorama, and the spare helmets and pila in the armoury room.

My other - admittedly small! - niggle is that the figures are equipped with mancea (armored sleeves)on their right arms, and to my eye this just doesn't look right. I associate the mancea with gladiators, and we're not doing "Spartacus" this week. (Maybe later; I have plenty of gladiators.) So, it'll be back to the spares box, and the four tent sections of troopers will all have about the same look to them. This will get the effect I want, and keep the continuity girl happy. A very nice touch is that there are sets of greaves in this box, and I'll find a use for these - very handy!

I have three spare sheets of decals from the old boxes, so we're good there; I have two very old Minifigs / Garrison / Greenwood & Ball metal testudo sets as well, and  think I may have the Warlord resin one as well, as that would account for the three decal sheets that I have in stock - I think I should only have two. Red tunics, steel armor, bronze helmets as per the 1963 epic, and we're in business - they're attacking the Moon Gate, Caesar!!! Send out a turtle!

Speaking of which, I may have to do a little conversion; in the 1963 movies, when they send out the troops to attack the Egyptians, there's a drummer - not the usual and more historical trumpeter. So, for the sake of the effect, I think I'll slightly modify one musician and give him a drum to beat out Caesar's orders.

And I'd better get cracking on this project, too; if everyone who's talked to me about booking dates for events comes through on their plans, 2018 is going to be a very, very busy year!

EDIT: Whoops! Almost forgot to mention: I managed to get the massive 50" plasma screen up on the newly-modified shelving unit, and it's now running with a CD deck attached. The thing weighs 96 pounds, and I was surprised that I was able to lift it. The game lounge is now fitted up for our viewing pleasure; the game room proper is still equipped with the 42" and a CD deck, so we can watch what we want when we want. I may yet link the two screens, for that 'multi-plex' effect.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Weekly Update - Friday, July 28th, 2017 - "Cleopatra" And The Budget, or, Raising An Army

Miss Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra

Photo from Dark Fable Miniatures
I am happy to report that my ill-humor of the past couple of weeks has largely evaporated; the impending arrival of the latest batch of figures from Dark Fable Miniatures has improved my mood on end. I had thought that I might vent my spleen here on the blog, but after some reflection thought that I should spare all of you the unpleasant mood I've been in for a while. I may yet do a special page, detailing my annoyances, but we shall see; in the meantime, there are some updates and changes to the Rules Of Engagement.

On to Aegyptus, via Hollywood and Cinecittia!

As previously reported in these pages, I have backed the latest Indiegogo from Dark Fable, "The Legend of Cleopatra". I have also mentioned that I picked up some nice Victrix figures for her guards and army - the first 'historical' figures I've bought for use as (sort of) such since I got out of historicals back in the very early 1980s - and now I think I need some opponents for them to engage with.

This does, however, bring us to the question of just how 'seriously historical' I want to be, and the answer would seem to be 'not much'. Most of the time in movies, the Ptolomaic Egyptians are all dressed in very dubious 'Aegyptian' costumes, and their usual opponents the Romans of Caesar are all in lorica segmentata; the latter armor is much more Imperial, and Julius had his lads in mail; the usual gaming term is 'late Republican' or 'Caesarian'. I actually have plenty of the right troops, as a long while back I got some Old Glory figures from the right period. They were co-opted to be the medium infantry for my legion, All-Consuming Flame, and their shield designs are the Vriddi clan-glyph. Right armor, wrong paint job. So, what's a gamer to do?

Answer: think like a Hollywood producer for staging our miniature epics, and call the costume rental house for some cohorts. Yes, they'll all be in the wrong armor, but they'll all be instantly recognizable as Romans. I got the Macedonians for the same reason; by the time of the real Cleopatra VII, most of the countries around then had equipped their armies as sort-of-Roman, with everybody in mail and with oval shields. Thank you, but if I'm staging one of my epic games, then I want equally epic forces in the picture. So, as seen in "Cleopatra" (1963), Warlord Romans will do just fine. The F:GS has some for cheap, and I'll get them this weekend.

And yes, 'cheap' is a factor. I get $400 a year for my gaming budget (the Missus has her own gamig budget, by the way) and I have to spend it wisely. This year, I have this for a current balance sheet:

Dark Fable 'Legend of Cleopatra' Indiegogo - $145
Sea Dog Game Studios boats - $80
Victrix Macedonians - $84
TRE Games Ships - $16                                          

Total for 2017 - $325

So, we have the gold in our coffers, and the Legions will march once again. Bring plenty of popcorn; I'm setting up the game lounge to be a family viewing room - this after a major family meeting, last weekend - and "Cleopatra" is going to be a double feature, with Claudette Colbert and Elizabeth Taylor in the starring roles...

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 RPG 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 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.