Monday, May 27, 2013

Work in Progress (painting)

Here’s the latest work in progress for me.  It’s an Eldar Wave Serpent transport tank. 

I’m engaged in an escalation campaign for Warhammer 40000 (the miniatures wargame) with a friend of mine.  We did this to accelerate our painting, as we’ve included in our scenario rules penalties that apply to models that are unpainted.  Things like not being able to start on the table or other minor effects that encourage us to paint.  This way, hopefully, it continues to push our painting and I may one day actually have an army that I can field all-painted most of the time.  That would be nice, rather than this:


Yes, I have lots to paint.  Thankfully, now having finished with one training milestone, I can actually do some.  In between bouts of writing.  That way, my armies will eventually look entirely like this:

Work continues.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Equivalence of Fandom

A while ago I was at a party at a friend’s house, and it was mostly other members of my MSE course in Halifax.  As we were chatting away and generally having a good time, one of my compatriots noted my Starfleet TNG delta-shield cufflinks.  She shook her head and dismissed them as my geeky silliness.  I pointed out to her that it was no different from someone wearing a jersey from their favourite hockey team.  She indignantly claimed it was somehow not the same, though whey I asked why she had no real answer other than ‘it just isn’t.’

I’m not going to make some ranting post about people disparaging geeks because that’s just old and doesn't really do anything.  I just found it interesting that there’s a perception that one piece of fandom (pro sports) is some how more legitimate than another (sci-fi).  Granted, to the followers of each, their particular thing is more legit.  Likely, many pro sports have more fans than a lot of sci-fi.  Fair enough.  I no more want to go watch hockey than she wants to sit down to a TNG or DS9 marathon.  Roger out, we’ll go our separate ways on that.  It was the way it was commented on, as if it were something beyond the norm, that I found a bit irksome.  Especially considering everyone in my course knows I’m the resident geek.  Everyone has their fandom (or they should).  Life is pretty boring and empty if there’s nothing you’re passionate about. 

(Funny aside: when I did ask how long a hockey game was (really, I had no idea), a classmate says ‘three periods.’  I know he was being helpful, but my confused look probably indicated an actual unit of time would have helped more.)

Wil Wheaton put up a good video about why it’s good to be a geek in his blog here, (or just google it).  Be passionate about something.  Writing, costuming, sports, whatever.  Otherwise, what are you really doing with your time?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pathfinder Beginner Box

Last Christmas (2011, not 2012), I got for each of my daughters the Pathfinder RPG beginner box. For those who do not know, Pathfinder is a roleplaying game, successor to the popular Dungeons & Dragons game.  I like Pathfinder better, but it's a matter of taste.

The next day, we had our inaugural game with myself as GM.  To say the girls liked it would be an understatement of monumental proportions.  Since then, working around my sailing schedule of course, we’ve managed a few more games.  They finished the adventure that comes with the box  and I wrote an interlude adventure to move them to the next adventure locale.  They’ve had a blast playing, and I’ve finally been able to give them something that’s been a part of my life since I was 12 years old.

It is gratifying that I can share this thing called roleplaying games with them.  Good, old-fashioned players-around-the-table gaming.  Firing up the imagination and letting it take you to worlds unknown, where everyone gets to take part in telling the story.  I love it.  They love it.  It’s the passing of the torch, so they can have the same fun I’ve had for over 28 years now.  I also like playing games with them, they’re fun and aren’t yet experienced enough to have seen a lot.  When I describe the dragon, or the castle, or the dank crypt they’ve entered there’s that sense of wonder.  The same sense that I had when I started playing. 

I also am glad they like it so much.  Hopefully my oldest will start a campaign of her own.  Right now I GM for her and a few of her friends, which has been a big hit.  I think she would enjoy gamemastering, but she just has to get off her butt and do it.  She will, I think, and hopefully it will lead to years of adventuring, all in their own minds.

I laugh some days, as when others are telling tales of their youths, a host of my tales take place in fictional environments.  Talking of the grand schemes, the nail-biting escapes and crazy rolls when you toss the dice calling ‘twenty!’ and it actually comes up.  It certainly kept us out of trouble in our teen years (though I’d say we weren’t really prone to trouble anyway) and exercised our minds enormously.  It also taught teamwork, social interaction (i.e. you have to be civil at the gaming table) and as a gaming group we bonded to the point where we’re all ‘uncles/aunts’ to each others kids.

Since then both kids want to start/have started Warhammer 40000 armies, and we all have had a few good games of FFG’s X-Wing miniatures game.  I am raising two geeky, gamer girls and we all couldn’t be happier about it.  It also means I get to play with my kids more often, which is never bad.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fixing the landscape

So here’s a picture of the gaming table.  

You’ve seen it before, covered in wargames terrain.  However, this time there’s some sorting going on.  With the help of my youngest, we’ve broken the stuff down into trees, hedgerows, battlefield kit, rocks, buildings and (for lack of a better term) elaborate pieces.  The trees, rocks, battlefield kit and hedgerows will all go in small bins to keep the dust off and make storage easier.  It should also keep them in better condition, once I’ve fixed them up.  Here's a bunch of trees, with sand added to their bases:

The buildings all need some sort of repair, and then to be painted, but they can still go on a shelf.  The elaborate pieces, almost entirely being made of some form of Styrofoam, will need repair.  Two (or more) moves have not been kind to some of them. 

Thus, the remainder of this week will bring out the white glue, paint and modelling flock so as to bring all the terrain pieces up to an attractive and playable condition. 

As much as I have to assemble and paint models, which is still the primary activity, the last few games have been played with fully finished terrain (well, less the scuffs, scrapes and dents I plan to fix).  It reinforced the idea that having a core of good terrain pieces makes battles so much more cinematic.  Besides, if one is going to paint a bunch of toy soldiers to a high standard, why not give them the battlefield they deserve?

Monday, May 13, 2013


Whew.  Passed my Phase VI board, which means promotion to Lieutenant and a break from all the studying.  I tell you, I almost didn't know what to do with myself, going from a work all day - study all night schedule to a regular workday with time after.  Still, my board was "very strong" according to the Commander who chaired it, so I'll take that one to the bank!

That was on March 26th.  Since then I've been playing catch up with all the plans, tasks and other life stuff.  Immediately my 'to do' list of 50+ items sprang out to attack me.  I pushed it around and made it a bit less onerous, but gradually clawed through the important stuff.  That and, most importantly, made time for my family, who I'm pretty sure had forgotten what I looked like for a while.  That's what happens when you cloister yourself in for several weeks.

Today I got some words down.  Not a lot, nothing epic, but I took the time to get back into the story, figure out where I was and just started the next scene.  Boy did it feel good.  Feels like I'm getting back to the things that matter.

I've also planned another session of Pathfinder (the roleplaying game) and am resurrecting the Council of Thieves adventure path.  Add to that some planned model painting and some game-playing with my kids, and life is back to normal.  My latest project is this:

I've pulled out all my wargaming terrain, and plan to repair all the broken or otherwise damaged pieces.  Once done, I'll stack it back on the shelves you can see in the background.  The gaming room is in a bit of flux, but that's only because we had to get our hot water tank replaced, so lots of things are in weird places.  That big box on end is actually our Christmas tree.  The library wraps around the gaming area, thus all the books to the right.  In the lower left you'll see Cassandra, one of our cats, giving me the laser beam eyes.  

Garfield came down to join us, and was promptly inspected by Cassandra.  

That's it for now.  This week is all about regaining the story of Queen's Legacy, and getting some sorting done to bring the gaming area back to snuff.