Friday, November 3, 2017

The Player’s Job in Role Playing Games

A follow up to my last blog post about being a GM. First, some quantifications:
Player is a person playing a role playing game (RPG). Many RPGs have a distinction between “player” and “game master” and I will use that.

I cannot quantify the time I’ve spent GMing and being a player. For sake of argument let’s say it’s pretty even 50/50. Consider that when you read what I type. This will also be typed from a Dungeons and Dragons perspective but fits into all of the RPGs I have played (though I can assume not all … but I have not played all RPGs so I don’t know).

A player’s job is a little simpler than a GM’s job but it is, in my opinion, MORE important than the GM’s job. The player is the impetus to the game existing. Ultimately it is the player’s story being told. The players have true control over the game and I think that’s how it should be.

What should the player bring to the metaphorical and literal table?
Stuff:
1) The character(s) they are playing on paper.
2) The rulebook that covers the mechanics of the character being played.
3) Dice for the rule-system being played.
4) Pencil/pens.
** modern technology is in account – 1-3 could be covered by a laptop or pad and render 4 obsolete.

On the side there is the whole miniature equation. Many systems use miniatures as an enhancement and D&D 5e says they are not required but I find they really are but it still could be run without. I’m also very miniature-centric. If miniatures are being used than I strongly suggest the player provide the mini and make sure it is suitable for the game being played – proper scale and aesthetic and et al.

I’d also like to note that if a player plays a character that has abilities that allow them to bring in other playable entities like henchmen and summoned creatures they should be responsible for those also. Luckily there are affordable pre-painted and 2D (tokens) options available.

As I state in the GM-Job blog post the host (it may be a player) has a duty to provide a comfortable space. The player should also not rely on that and provide themselves some basics – snacks and drinks of their liking, dressed properly, other comfort items they may need. Basic social etiquette; I ask that the players I invite to my table provide for themselves things they want. If there is to be a communal meal of some kind than that should be communicated prior to the event.

“Software” aka Things the Player Should Know:
First, know the rules governing your character. Know how to play your character, that’s on you. Also be willing to actually run your character. It is under your control and part of doing this is also knowing the parameters you are allowed to control your character in game. Hence “know the rules”.

I’ve been in many games where players did not know how to run a wizard and they’d ask the GM if their character can do the thing. I’ve never played a game, and that’s a few dozen of them, where a character had to get permission from the GM to act on their turn. Pretty much every iteration of Dungeons and Dragons says “on your turn you can move and take an action”. It confounds me when I see this:
DM – “Player, it’s your turn!”
Player – “OK, can I cast a spell?”

Then you get pure lack of basic rules like:
Player – “Whoo I hit with my sword! How much damage does that do?”

If you are playing, for the very first time, a 1st level character in a new rule set? Sure. If you’ve got 2-3 sessions under your belt those answers should be known by now. I’m not saying memorized, you just need to write it down on the character sheet – most having spaces for that. People saying they are experienced have no excuse.

Just know the rules, or have easy access to the rules, governing the one character you play. No one else knows, or should know, what your character can do. You run it, it’s your responsibility… frankly it is your only responsibility.

By the way, when I’m GMing, I love rules lawyers. They know more than I do and I often pick the player with the most rules knowledge and ask them to be the Player Advocate – they can call me on any ruling I make and we will discuss it using the books and the rules as written. Also, as I state in GM Job, when in doubt just say “yes” and rule on the side of the players. In the future, if it fits into the style of game, I plan to even hand out yellow flags like in the NFL that players can throw down if they want a review of a ruling.

Other than Knowing the Rules a player must Know the Table; in other words have a conversation with the GM or the group about the game that’s planning to get played. Do you want to play in a relaxed Monte Hall-ish Keep on the Borderlands? Do you want to be in an epic three year campaign that goes from 1st to 15th level? Serious and gritty game or something kind of funny? Consider what compromises you are willing to make just to play. Can you add something other than just playing in said campaign? Paint some minis? Help run other table functions like mapping, combat tracking, etc? Do other players want these things?

What is your party going to be like? A team or a bunch of chaotic neutral buddy-fuckers? Do they know each other and does the campaign support this? Maybe the players all want to play wizards from different schools and the GM needs to know this to adjust to keep it fun.

Communication is the jist. Communicate with the table; this is all under the umbrella of social contract.

Furthermore don’t blur the line between player and character. Don’t do things “in character” to other “characters” against their will. That’s not cool. Unless you are playing in a buddy-fucker campaign it is never cool, without the other player’s consent, to steal the paladin’s sword and sell it in game. Being a chaotic neutral rogue is not an excuse and no GM should award that in any way unless it was agreed upon by the players to happen.

This, obviously, delves into some deeper stuff and experiences I’ve had that boils down to shitty players and the whole:
Chaotic Stupid…
Lawful Nazi …
Stick In The Mud…
… trope that is very common.  Bottom line, like in real life, be a decent person and only do things to other people with consent. Play any alignment all you want but there is no “Lawful Ruin Other People’s Fun” in any ruleset I’ve seen. Even if mechanically you are a stupid and evil character there are other things you can do to portray this other than sell your fellow players out.

This is also a part of Know the Table as you may find out in the conversation that some people just don’t like having players at the table that do things like this… so might be a good time to switch up your character concept of find a table that you and your dick character will mesh.

Anyways, this seems a bit simple but it is soooo important. Actually it’s really common to be at a table and see none of these concepts come to fruition.

In light of my last two posts I’ve decide to go into a fall hiatus in playing D&D and to concentrate on some historical minis I’d like ot add to my collection, namely some Norman Knights and crossbowmen so as to fill in gaps of my “skirmish” level Norman collection and bring it up to “battle” level – the difference between Saga and Hail Caesar basically. During this short RPG hiatus I will be planning a Blue Ribbon Company campaign to be set in a 5e adventure like Curse of Strahd or something. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.





Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Importance of the Game Master In Running the Game

I have a distinctive taste in my role-playing games. After years of playing (since 1979) in good games, bad games, and mediocre games I have defined what I am looking for in a game and in that time I kind of only want to play in a game I will like. One thing is true throughout all the games I have played (not just Dungeons and Dragons) and that is the Game Master is highly important.

Parallel, I’ve recently discovered what will make me an old grouchy man and empathize with old grouchy men worldwide. Basically, I’ve been around long enough to have a solid knowledge base. Couple that with experience and wisdom regarding a subject. Some of us, when we get into our 40s and 50s get this solid knowledge base, wisdom, and experience but we have no outlet for it and it gets frustrating. Not being able to communicate said frustration correctly sometimes we look like old grouchy assholes. I just did this exact thing in the world of Dungeons and Dragons.

Another note I’d like to highlight is that even a bad rule-set can be fun and a great experience if the Game Master (GM) is doing their job. Not even “well”, just doing it competently. So, in regards to “edition wars” I’ve found the answer to be “It’s the GM!”

Without getting into details, the impetus of me quitting a recent game was due to the Dungeon Master (DM) poorly running the game. The group was a new group for me. I was exploring the idea of expanding my horizons of a peer group of RPGers and got into this group knowing the DM was new. I thought that I could maybe lend a hand and offer advice and experience to the group and the DM. After the first month the DM kicked out the only other guy in the group that I was friends with prior to the group forming and that was my second red flag, the first being just seeing the lack of knowledge and ineptness the first few games displayed by the DM.

The game dragged but I kept at it. Many more red flags popped and I bottled my frustration. I even ran a one-shot to give the DM time to “prep” but he never did any prep.

This game finally ended for me this week when my pent-up frustrations came out and I said some things that came out like I was picking on him. I tend to do that. I, basically, called him out on his lack of ability to run a D&D game.

All that said it really high-lighted a few things:

1) D&D Next aka 5e was marketed as making things simpler for the DM and it did do so. That said the DM still has a job and needs to do it. Some people took that marketing ploy a bit too seriously I guess.

2) Ultimately the DM’s job is to keep things somewhat on track. They need to know a lot of meta things like make sure some basic things in and out of story make sense… especially if they are running a game that is above the Monte Hall style of adventure – kick down door, kill monster, steal loot.

Now to the meat of this blog post – things I have found that work for me when I run a game.

Know the Rules:
A fundamental understanding of the rule-set you are using is very important. Many will disagree and I have played in their games and they were poor games. Yes there is the old adages of “we’re having fun…” and “it’s a game of imagination…” but it’s still a game and rules are part of it. 

Rules are the interface we use to contact the imaginary world we are playing in. It is your tool set. Analogy time – right now I am typing this using many tools (computer, keyboard, software, English) but I am speaking freely and using my imagination. The tools are not restricting me, only my own abilities are.

A good rule-set breaks things down in the game into sections that show you how players interact with the imaginary world. Normally you have your social aspects, combat aspects, and special aspects. A GM will need to know the basic concepts of player interaction in that world. Not ALL the rules, just a good foundation of basics. When a player tries to find out where the thing is there is a basic rule for that. When a player wants to stab a baddy there is a rule for that. You should be able to get creative and deviate from the basic “roll the dice, add your skill…” if you know that the basic procedure is to roll the dice and add the skill. You have that fundamental to work off of.

A good GM is also able to talk this out at the table in a clear manner. No need to go off the cuff. Just explain to the player what they need to do to accomplish the thing. The player should know this too (and being a good player is another subject I might blog about).

Speaking:
A GM must be able to speak clearly in front of people. Yes, this may sound like I’m being a dick but it is true. Basic verbal communication is very important. I’m not talking special voices or being an actor, I’m talking about basic ability to communicate ideas in front of 2-4 other people. For some people this is difficult and it does not make them lesser but running a game might be very difficult for them.


I’ve been at a few tables where I heard:
“You walk into a large cavern… it’s a small cavern with torches.”
“They have four arms. Actually it’s only two arms.”
“The cyclops looks at you with its two beady eyes…”

Mistakes can be made but all the times I’ve experienced this it was pretty consistent. GM fiat or hand-waving is noticeable, weak, and utter bullshit when covering mistakes and only leads to more inconsistencies down the road. Just say, “Whoops, did I say the cyclops had two eyes?”

A GM does not need to be an architect to describe architectural aspects of a pyramid nor a surgeon to describe a surgery. One can keep those things simple and concise. The key is clear communication. It also helps to focus on the important aspect, don’t waste time or energy on things that don’t matter.

Social Etiquette:
Again, I’m probably sounding like a dick here.

I’m a firm believer in The Havamal – a Viking poem lining out some philosophy. It is heavy on social etiquette and especially on being a guest or hosting guests. Not going to quote it here nor get into specifics but here are some basics:
Offer a comfortable place to your guests. A dry place to sit and a place at the table for stuff.
Have water available for drinking.
Stay on schedule. Stay on task.
Don’t waste the time of your guests who took time out of their lives to be your guest.




Players have a role there too but, again, another subject.

Be Prepared to Run a Game:
Being a GM will always have homework. How much is up to you and your players and the game but one thing is consistent – have a plan. Kind of like rules if a GM has a solid foundation of the adventure or story deviating from it and getting back on track if need be is not much of an issue.

This leads to…

Say Yes to Your Players:
Learn to say yes. Let go of your ego sometimes and let the players play. Stay within the guidelines of your rules and within reason but say yes more. Learn the parameters of that too. Give the players things they want.

ThisJ
“I really wish my character had a magic sword.”
“Well, the orc chieftain you just killed does have a shimmering sword in his hand…”
*that plain old sword just became a +1 magic sword.*

…but not thisL
“I want a flaming burst bow but only want to pay 30 gold pieces for it.”
“OK.”
*Player exploits and usurps the rules to get a 3000 gold piece magic bow for 30 in the name of creativity*


 I’ve been known to listen to the players talk about the future of their characters, needs and wants and level progression or whatever. I adjust my story (and the loot!) accordingly. After all it is their game to choose to play in. Ultimately it is a story about them they are interacting with. I’ve found that this makes players very happy so I promote doing so.

You Are a Game Master, not a God:
Yeah, that whole “GM is Law!” is bullshit. Sure, a GM does have the responsibility to make authoritative decisions but most people equate that to power over others. As I have learned from people wiser than me Whenever a Person Can Apply Their Will Over Another, They Will. It’s natural and something a good GM should watch for and avoid. A GM has responsibility not power.




Stuff:
This is America and we are responsible for our stuff. In this context I mean stuff you have for the game. Every player has a basic list of things they are responsible for and in the case of Dungeons and Dragons:
1) The book that covers the basic rules
2) Dice
3) Your physical character on paper
4) Pens and pencils

A GM has a bit more responsibility:
1) The above +
2) The book(s) with GM rules governing the imaginary world if not in the “basic” rulebook mentioned above
3) A tome of some kind containing the actual adventure – hand written notes, campaign book, etc.
4) Not required but I tend to lean towards games that do use these – miniatures and a mat or board to represent tactical values on the table while having encounters. If this is so I ask that players provide their miniatures representing their characters in the proper scale << I can help with this.


 Of course modern technological items can cover for these as well.

…aaaannnnd this here is page 5 on the word doc I’m typing this all out on and I have to add some pictures yet! Haha!!

As you can see a lot of this is basic social contract stuff (yes I used to read Forge Forums regularly as well as a few others and what I used to expand my abilities as a GM). I was also going to write more on resources like John Four’s DM newsletter and a few forum boards but that would’ve added a few more pages here.

I’d also like to add, and I have mentioned this before, all the above I know because I’ve NOT DONE IT before and really messed up some games. I’m planning on running a game next year and I am already planning on not being perfect. That said I also plan to minimize any impact of my mistakes on my players out of respect and gratitude, whoever they will be.

Thanks for reading and have some fun out there!



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Bias-Based-Hatred as a Mechanical Trait or Flaw In Role Playing Games

I play both historical wargames and role playing games. I’m, currently, more of a historical wargamer but I have a D&D game once per week now (5th Edition for those wondering).

One of the reasons why I never got into historical wargaming for years is the prevalence of nazis. Not WP skinheads goose-stepping the halls nazis but models and figures on the table getting pushed around nazis.

*note – when I type “nazi” both Word and Blogger apps correct it by capitalizing it for me. No. I will go through and give it the little “n” that the word deserves.

I go to a lot of historical wargaming fan pages on Facebook, that and military modeling. I also watch a lot of miniature painting tutorials on Youtube to learn the craft. On top of that I have gone to gun shows, collector shows, knife shows…. Places where militaria can be had. What do I find? Seems it’s 50% nazi.

Granted, nazis were a part of WWII. You go to the Bolt Action wargame Facebook page and what is posted up about half the time? nazis. You’ve got the US, Japan, Italy, Britain, Canada, USSR, and about 10 other countries that can be represented with models and figures in the game but Germany gets a good 50% share of it.

Even worse you go to the military history modelers pages and even out of the context of World War Two… so all of human history’s militaria … and half of the model jobs are WWII Germany.

I’m not typing this to judge, nor will I solve any issue here with this blog. I'm just pointing it out and noticing a thing. I was once told that if a historical game con I go to were to allow “cos-play” or people dressing up as a norm for the con, a good half of them would be in WWII German uniforms. To me that’s weird. Not edgy, not historically accurate, not accusatory but a pathological fetish of some kind.

I was regaling Gretchen with the story of my last D&D gaming session. Part of the anecdote consisted of a “street fight” our characters got into. One of the newer party members (and new player) saw some druegar chasing some deep gnomes down a street. The character, their “flaw” (a background trait in D&D 5e) was “hates all gnomes”. So, he yelled racial epithets at the deep gnomes like “Run you cowardly deepys!”

This resulted in getting the attention of the druegar that turned and attacked us and an encounter was had. Sure, D&D is all about the encounters and me relating it is not the point.

Gretchen asked, “Why did the player have his character yell racial epithets at the gnomes?”
I answered, “It was his character’s flaw, he has to role play it.”
She came back with, “Man… that’s so played out. Why do so many people role play flaws as racism?” and she high-lighted a point that I recognized in historical wargaming but not in RPG and my decades of exposure to them: When given the choice to pick a flaw, it’s a good chance “biased hatred for X” is the go to.

I thought back to my own experiences in RPGing over the years and who I’ve played with. There are quite a few instances of:
“Oh, my character hates all elves.”
“Since I hate all city-dwellers…”
“My character was assaulted by men, so she hates men.”
“Bah! Rich people suck and since I’m chaotic neutral…”
“Me and my dwarven family are superior to all elves, humans, and halflings because…”

Whether flaws as a mechanic are mandated or not, the above is extremely common. Rarely do you get a greed compulsion or partial deafness as a flaw.

Some would say it is good that when mandated to pick a flaw one picks a form of racism or biased hatred. I disagree. There are a lot of flaws available that is not racism. Many games that mandate flaws list them and the player will look at that list to ponder the choice. Check out Savage Worlds and the 50 or so disadvantages you have to choose from in the core rulebook. I’ve played Deadlands and Savage Worlds based systems about 4 times in my life and, invariably, there is a player or two that picked the “racism” or “hatred” disadvantage. Obviously it’s never “My character hates black people.” and the target is something softer or fitting to the world being played but still, there is that shade of racism in there and that was picked as a disadvantage over the other 38 choices.

I have my own theories on why this happens though none are “proof” of any kind and some have their own biases wrapped up in them. Some of the less troublesome of them are that bias-hatred is an easy way to play out a character flaw; racism is not constantly “on” like a missing hand would be in a game world; nazis have a lot of varying cool gear to model.


That said I do have more biased opinions of a darker nature that I’d rather not post here as I don’t want them misconstrued in some way as that has happened to me before because I lack an ability to word things right and make my statements clear. I do want to add that in no way am I saying that playing Germany in Bolt Action equates you to being a nazi. Nor does playing an elf-hating human ranger in Dungeons and Dragons equate to being a white power supporter. What I am saying is I think it’s weird how often that comes up in a game.

With this blog I'd like to start that conversation - why the WWII Germans? Why biased-based hatred as the go to flaw?

Also I would like to acknowledge my wife, Gretchen Martin, as the person to shine a light on this. Thanks baby, it's why we're good together.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons Books

Those things are EXPENSIVE now! Phew!!

I spent the 90s playing other systems like Ars Magica, Bushido, and Deadlands (these being my favorites). It was a great time to explore as TSR was kind of bloated and over-bearing with the AD&D / 2e version of the game.

Actually wish I still had my old PHB.
Ars Magica ... historical fantasy RPG. 

Deadlands, father of the Savage Worlds rule system.

3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons came about in 2000 and I bought back into it – the intro price for the three core books (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, Monster Manual) was $20, later to be raised to $25. By 3.5 Edition the standard was $30. Being a guy of mediocre at best income I always found < $30 to be a good price point for rulebooks needed to enjoy a game you love.

I never bought a 4th Edition D&D book as I did not like the system. I did buy-in to Pathfinder in 2010 and the Core Book was $50. Expensive but it was also a combined Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide to parallel Dungeons and Dragons. Supplemental books were $30-$40 for hardcovers but soft-covers (like fluff books or all-important Adventure Paths) were around $20; though a complete AP was about 6 issues so that’s $120 but that is over time. All in all still quite affordable and I also saved money on PDFs I bought. A $20 was much easier to drop than a $50.


From 3.x through Pathfinder I also, extensively, used SRDs available for free on the net. My sense of honor made it so I was not comfortable doing this unless I bought a core rule book though. I still do this BTW – I’m uncomfortable with using “free” things from the internet unless I have bought the hard copy first. Within reason of course, I’ve got to like the system and want to support the company.


 Further, I want to support brick and mortar stores that sell these books. I like my Friendly Local Game Store… both of them as a matter of fact. I don’t play Magic so that cash stream is closed off from me. Historical miniature war-games are just not very feasible most of the time to stock on shelves. I know enough about business to know the nuances there regarding that and I don’t fault FLGSs not stocking historicals… thus another cash-stream cut off from me.

This year I got back into role playing games after a two year break. I decided to start playing Dungeons and Dragons Next aka 5th Edition*.

*I’ll expand on the actual product sometime later but here is a condensed version of my thoughts on 5e: It’s fine. It’s not the end-all-be-all of Dungeons and Dragons and not ground-breaking in any way. The only thing missing is the ability to tinker with and customize a character and that’s fine. It’s just another way to game.


After Xmas in 2016 I took some money and bought myself a Players Handbook from Guardian Games. It was $49.95 ! Whewww!! That’s some money. After a few months I felt compelled to buy the other two “core” books (Monster Manual and Dungeon Masters Guide) and those, too, are $50 each. Definitely not an impulse buy anymore and, even with a grown-man’s salary, quite a bite into my gaming budget.

Wanting a DMG for months now but not willing to drop a $50 on it I waited for a used one to pop up at Guardian Games with no luck. I was saving it for later this year but I did have a coupon for 20% off a purchase at Red Castle Games as well as $8 in store credit there so I went there last weekend to get a DMG for $32.

Sure, I can find them regularly on Amazon for $36 and I am a huge fan of Amazon. My consumer ethics got in the way of that though and I buy off Amazon what is hard to search for in brick and mortars around me. Rustic iron nails? Amazon. Dungeons and Dragons books? I know of 5 places, without research, that sell them in my city. Still, $50 each is pretty steep for three core rule books. Unless I run across some deal it looks like the only “deal” I can make is Amazon for the Monster Manual though.

I’m glad I own dice and miniatures and tons of other stuff already. A lifetime in the hobby has given me a good collection of usable game aids. If I was a kid or young adult right now trying to get into the hobby? Sheesh… feel bad for you kid.


So, thanks for reading and get off my lawn.



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Staycation 2017 Part II

10 days off in a row and what did I do? Not much really. I got some boring and busy stuff done but nothing important or major. I guess that’s an OK staycation then.


Gretchen got a break from dinner-duty and I managed dinner most of the nights. On top of that I did a load of dishes a day if not more so our cupboards and silverware drawers were stocked! I also made some from-scratch horchata for the first time and it was OK. Next batch I make will be better now that I’ve got the mediocre one out of the way. I learned how to make horchata by watching YouTube videos.

I also got a good deal on some new bedding for Gretchen and I but you get what you pay for and the new bedding will take some getting used to. Nice comforter though but it’s still hitting high 90s and 100s outside so enjoying the coziness of a new comforter is off the list right now.

I did not plan to play any video games but I ended up playing my way through the main scenario in Battlefield 1. I’m not a huge video gamer, any kind of button combo perplexes me and I was having some trouble with Battlefield 1 when I first got it last winter, but I set it on easy and figured some things out and worked my way through it. It is both a fun and slightly educating game (in that I looked up some things after getting inspired by fictional and fantastical events in the game).


Speaking of YouTube, video games, TV, and the PS4 I did spend a lot of time trying out some TV shows, getting in some good documentaries, and watching a lot of instructional YouTube videos.

I watched the first episode of Comrade Detective. It was good but did not immediately grab my interest. It is a parody/spoof , the story being Channing Tatum and some other producer found the footage of an old 80s Romanian (Communist-era) TV show. They digitally remastered it and added some dubbing. There was some Cold War nostalgia for me in it and I think it’s very imaginative of the makers of this thing. It’s on Amazon Prime if you are interested.

Most of the documentaries I watched were about music and also on Amazon Prime save the best doc I saw – Who The F**k Is That Guy which was on Netflix. It’s about Michael Alago, the Electra A&R agent that was an under the radar but seminal aspect in the growth of metal as we know it today. A gay Puerto Rican from the Bronx he loved metal and got a job with Electra and signed major acts like Metallica and White Zombie.  The movie is about his trials and tribulations and his importance in the scene. I always heard about him – namely “Did you know a gay Puerto Rican signed Metallica?” – but never saw his full story until the doc.


YouTube watching was 95% instructional videos. Cooking (the horchata up above) was first and foremost. Then there was the obligatory bushcraft and outdoor gear review videos. I also found some basic Western Martial Art videos on basic spear thrusts that I practiced in the living room Monday-Friday morning, about 10 minutes per day. 


I did find some good videos on basic wood carving. I’ve got blocks of bass wood, I’ve got a few carving knives, I’ve never whittled anything “crafty” with it. I still haven’t but seeing some basics videos I know I’ve got all the things I need to give it a good go. I just need to do it outside and outside is just too hot … and as of last Friday too smoky and ash is falling around us from the fires in The Gorge.

One of the more interesting videos I saw was a 50 minute seminar Dave Cantbury did at some expo-show thing. He talked about “tool-heavy sustainability” and, as is the usual for me, I agreed with a lot of what he had to say. I know some have misguided feelings about him and that’s fine but of all the outdoors gurus out there he has taught me the most, surpassing Cody Lundin who is in credibility mode right now (and justly so) in his suit against Discovery and the producers of Dual Survivor.


Some of the big events during my staycation were:
Saga Club Day at Guardian Games on Saturday.
Dungeons and Dragons on Sunday.
Another Dungeons and Dragons game on Wednesday.
Cinema Babylon on the following Saturday – in which I hosted Hardware and Deadly Species. Two great movies if you ask me.
Some beers and bread pudding with my friend Jason.



Things I did not get to but had hoped to do (and my excuse):
2 dozen comic books to get caught up on. (lazy)
Finish my Viking leggings/pants. (lazy and my lack of skill intimidates me still)
A hike in Forest Park. (it was too hot all week really)
Wash truck (lazy … and the forest fires in the Gorge just dumped ash on us so I’m glad I did not waste the time or money)

BUT…
… Yesterday being Labor Day, thus an added day off to my week off, and my last day off before coming back to work, I did:
Get caught up on my current favorite comic book Manifest Destiny.
Finish my Viking shield… well… it is ready to be used on the battle field in rebated steel combat at least. Still have some details to work out and give it a smooth look.


All the above said I’m looking forward to some cooler temps and a bit of rain, we need it. I hope to bust out the old pack this fall and get one good overnighter in and bust some rust off my outdoor skills. Some of the “Adventure Buddy” posts I have planned in the near future are a review on the Terävä Jääkäripuukko knives in 110 carbon and 140 stainless as well as how my 2 transactions from the famed Finnish surplus store Varusteleka have gone.

On the Neo-Grognard side I hope to get a wet palette by end of year and maybe I’ll show my well-painted and skill-heavy 54mm I will have done before Xmas. I do have a Saga Tournament I am organizing coming up in October and that will also be featured here.



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August Painting Break

Kind of like summer vacation back when we were kids – I’m halfway through a miniatures painting break in August.

As I posted here I finished up those Scots Covenanters I started after Memorial Day. I do have some items in the “que” I want to paint but I’ve no deadline. Also, we’ve been getting some record breaking temps in Portland the past few weeks (upper 90s and into the 100s) though some respite this week (only in the 80s). I’ve got some DVD movies to catch up on and a staycation to have the week prior to Labor Day.

The “Saga Club” has taken off and the first play-day was a success at 7 people showing up. We had 3 simultaneous games going and most of the players got 2 games in. The next one is August 26th and it’s looking like another 3 tables with 7 people coming to play. Again, PDX-Metro Saga is for people that have an army and want to play Saga. I cannot offer demos for PDX-Metro Saga days; this monthly day is for playing.

Frankly, I’ve been running demos for 3 years straight now and I’m not really the best person to be doing that. Time for other people to take up the mantle, people that are much better suited than I – my rules knowledge is basic at best and my temperament is “getting old and grumbly”.


 Put 22 ozs of cider in me though, and if I’m in a good mood, I will happily play 2-3 games!

Other things I am doing this month, not wargaming related:

As I have mentioned I have not bush-crafted, let alone even went car camping, in almost 2 years. It’s getting harder to do those things and what used to be simple trips thought out in the last minute are now treks I need to plan for. I used to be able to want to go camping Saturday morning, pack up the truck with my pack and a cooler, and take off no more than 2 hours out of Portland. This became more difficult a few years ago as the population has dramatically rose and all my “spots” are now filled with people. Even car camping takes reservations months, if not a year, out in advance.


I’m not quite sure about what to do about it. During my staycation I do plan to explore some of the local Portland trails though, like in Forest Park. I’ve put together my old haversack kit and I’ll set off end of the month on a weekday to see what is up and get myself back into some woods-bum action. At the least I’d like to brew up a cup of coffee in the woods and have a smoke.


On this tip I made an order for some outdoorsy gear from Varusteleka out of Finland. Fast becoming my favorite online seller of MilSurp gear. My first order from them was a Jaakaripuukko (hunter’s knife) in the 140mm stainless steel blade configuration. If not out of stock I would’ve gotten the 110 carbon blade. I also got a sheath for the knife. Altogether it was $80. I also got 2 Polish bread bags (due to my obsession with common items a soldier would carry), a repro Finnish field cap from WW2, and some reflective decals. Delivery, from Finland, was in 8 days for $9.99. 


I’ve lusted after the knife for a while and also really wanted to be a Varusteleka customer since last year. I finally pulled the trigger due to some videos that came out this summer about the knife and comparing it to other knives like the Mora Garberg – full tang knives in the sub $100 range that are heavy duty woods users. Garbergs are $99 and I’ve been wanting one all year but my lack of woods-time prevented me. I also like the Jaakaripuukko aesthetic better as well as the cool leather dangler sheath. That said I will get a Garberg later I hope and I will compare the two knives.

My Dungeons and Dragons game is going strong. My paladin, Sir Evanagrio de la Guerre, just hit 5th level! In D&D5e every 5 levels is an “echelon” in power and prestige I guess? So hitting level 5 is a milestone. I’ve a mini all painted and ready to be used for “higher level” Evanagrio but he’s not quite there yet so I’m sticking with the current Evanagrio mini.

Coincidently I just took one of those dumb online “which character are you” tests via Facebook. Obviously a way to mine your data. I take few of those and I normally get an answer I don’t like – always some 2nd-rate character and usually the funny fat guy – but this one was for Game of Thrones and I got Oberyn Martell. I thought “Cool, he was sexy and almost killed The Mountain, though he ended up getting killed by The Mountain.” So I looked him up to see if there was anything I was missing about his character (there wasn’t) but realized this was exactly what my D&D character was! Cool, I love it when a character I’m playing has a literature or show based parallel I can steal from!!


 Sir Evanagrio is a Paladin from a noble family. He is seen as a hero by the common folk as he likes to defend them. He is a duelist – loves single combat. He is from southern land thus has darker skin. Evanagrio has a known lust for carnal action too. He’s also developed an insatiable urge for vengeance against demons. 

Other than using poison to gain unfair advantage, that is Oberyn Martell.

The Viking recreation stuff is moving along. Hoping to start a wool fabric hood (using the Skoldham find as my inspiration) this weekend. I might also make a leather pouch for “mundane items” I need to carry with me while dressed up – something to carry wallet, phone, and Swiss Army knife.

Got back into some shows after ending up getting bored with TV earlier this year. Namely Game of Thrones after being out for 2 seasons of it. I might have even blogged about it here?? Firstly one of the lawyers at my firm started a GoT Fantasy League. Buy in was $5. Out of 16 teams I am solidly right in the middle with my team of Grey Worm, Milisandre, Jaqen, and Yohn Royce. So far, a pretty mediocre team with Grey Worm being my only star player, and Jaqen probably being my poorest choice in that he might not even show up in this season. I was hoping for more with Melisandre but looks like she’s out too. At least mine are all alive!

Second, the show got better. Every episode has had a major reveal or a plot device realized. Also we have not seen one sexual assault. Past seasons those were layered on top of each other each episode to the point of tedium. “Really? You’re going to emotionally manipulate me with rape scenes again?”

I’ve also realized (while watching Guardians of the Galaxy 2) that long and very dynamic CGI scenes cancel out in my brain after about 10 minutes and I just fall asleep. Awww … 46 years old and finally out of the demographic!


Anyways, thanks for reading and sorry for this filler post! I plan to write about my Cro-Mags patch and my history with them next. Stay tuned – so much excite!!


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Scots Covenanters, ECW, The Last Foot Squad

Today I finished up the last of my Covenanter Foot Regiments. I now have 3 full "pike and shotte" foot regiments for any gaming I may want to partake of.







All but one of the figures are from Warlord's Foot Regiment box set. The one that isn't is a Perry. Long story short I messed up modeling some of the plastic figures so had to fill the hole with the Perry guy. All of the bonnets were bought separately and added in lieu of the other hat choices Warlord gives you.

The officer and sgt. I painted up based off some pictures in an Osprey book. I wanted to layer them a bit more but just wanted to be done as I have been working on the whole regiment since after Enfilade in May. So, 2 layers it was.

And here is the whole band. I'm going to do a separate stand for Ensign and Command.
Now that I am done I am not in much of a hurry to paint up anything any time soon. Maybe 8 more figures to add to my Pagan Rus for Saga.