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.

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!