Showing posts with label IRL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IRL. Show all posts

Sunday, December 1, 2019

It should be no surprise...

A couple of months ago, Wendy's launched thier game Feast of Legends. And I wasn't totally surprised. Some lost memory tugged at me, but I wasn't able to put my finger on it until this morning. This little tug of memory had me categorizing a burger joint's RPG as "normal!".

While cleaning up for a game session this morning (already underway), a chance find refreshed my memory. I stumbled across a chapter book of the Spiderwick Chronicles. My daughter told me that it was part of set given away by Wendy's with their kids meals. 

Ah, innovation and creative has always been a part of the Wendy's brand. Those are strange attributes for a burger chain. But what better prize is there than reading? I love to read to my kids, and Wendy's was right there with me. My son tells me that McDonalds also jumped in on the bandwagon with Big Nate books. 

I feel funny singing the praises of fat food companies, but I do want to share that the things you give and read to your children have a massive impact on them. So read on to those kiddos. 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Getting to it

Recently, I posted images of my dad's work in the form of the Shell Keep and the Crusader Castle. I've seen this done dozens of times. I don't have these skills myself, because I don't practice these skills. Maybe it's time to change that.

I pulled together some scraps of stuff I had lying around and got started. I want a castle, but maybe I should start smaller with some houses.


The larger structure will be a keep. Perhaps in a motte and bailey design. Or maybe it will simply be free standing. Not sure where I'm going with this, but the effort is fun.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

How about a Crusader Castle?

Dad is a busy guy. How about a tour of a Crusader Castle today?

Mom and Dad live down south so I don't get to see them much. We do talk via email and Facebook. You can follow him over there and get your own, more immediate updates rather than just the castles I like.

 I've never seen this castle in person, but from the details I guess that it's 25 mm.
It's impressive from an angle. 
And the side. I suspect this is fairly small, perhaps a little less than 3 feet by a little over 4 feet. 
Dad works in Styrofoam, but then adds details of plastic and wood. He skims the structures in plaster to get that texture.  
As you can see, he uses a simple dry brush style. 
Note the difference from the stonework on the bottom of the walls vs. the plastered look of the top. 
One of the painting tricks I picked up from my Dad was an item will look realistic if it repeats the colors from the surrounding terrain. 
You can see the castle shares the same colors as the rock it sits on. 
This building is obviously worn, another technique that makes an item look authentic. 
This angle shows the details of the stairs and such. Funny, this model is made for figures on bases, so their tiny feet can never reach the stairs. 
I'm going to leave the last couple of images comment-less, but check out Classical Hack on the web or over on DriveThruRPG




Monday, October 14, 2019

A walk down memory lane... thru a Motte and Bailey Castle.

The Shell Keep
Overview of the keep
Ah, memories.

My dad has been a gamer since he was a child. His collection of books, resources and material is unsurpassed. When I was in high school, I needed to write a report on the Middle Ages. Obviously, he wanted to help. What I didn't expect was, he told me to bring my whole class.

A horde of kids came in to our house for a lesson on the Middle Ages. Hand on, armor, swords, models, books, and history. On whim.
Gate and decking work.

He was always like that. When I was a toddler, I recall a massive Motte and Bailey castle in our living room. And some times part of the dining room and kitchen. It was a huge undertaking.

I have no idea where that castle went, perhaps it was broken in our many moves from the projects in Lockport to the Eastside of Buffalo and finally to Tonawanda.

It wasn't the only castle he had, it was one of dozens.
Side view
These pictures are of a castle in the classic motte and bailey design that I loved so much. I'm not sure when dad started building this, perhaps Dad doesn't know when he started building this, but here it is. Sometime in 2018 or 2019, perhaps.

This one is 4 by 3 feet. It's tiny compared to some of the work he has done.
Inner gate detail. 
This is my favorite view of the Keep. Dad always painted details on his gates, in classic blue, yellow and red. I am not sure of the historical details of those colors, but these remind me of Dad.
Inner ward
This shell keep has 3 inner buildings, with multiple floors. Since this is used for a wargame, the rooves, floors and ceilings come off.
Opposite side view.
This is a work in progress, so the exterior details are missing. There will be trees, stones, grass and perhaps water features in the finished work.
Rooves
Again, the windows and doors have those colors.
Rooves and floors removed.
The interior is incredible. 
Second floor in place. 
In this view, you can see the doorways leading to the interior spaces. When he builds these things, he scales them 15 or 25 mm. I suspect this one is 25 mm.
Other buildings, rooves removed. 
The scale is important because wargamers use a particular basing for the figures. He needs to be able to fit those bases inside the structures.
Possibly a kitchen area.
Not every part of the keep is for military purposes. This is a cooking area.
Main gate, roof removed. 
I love the way he plans areas to be removed for the game action. This is the main gate.
Walkway of the parapet removed. Latrine area. 
And bathrooms in the walls. Waste would fall into the moat, for an extra deterrent. 
The Bailey. 
The exterior area has a couple of buildings, with thatched and wooden rooves.
Interior with rooves. 
The Keep has stone or tile rooves, not show in this image. The smaller building have blue slate. That is my favorite color. 
The Keep
I love the circular pattern of the keep's ward.
Bailey gate. 
And finally, our journey ends at the outer gate.
If you want to see more like this be sure to check out my dad on Facebook and on the web.

Classical Hack on Facebook

Classical Hack on the web







Saturday, August 17, 2019

All the right things, in three parts. Item three.

Back in 1996, I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. The whole world was one big crazy snarl and I couldn’t figure any of it out.
One day, a coworker handed me a simple wooden puzzle. She got it from a vending machine and once it was dissembled, she could not get it back together.
It was so simple, I don’t know how she didn’t see the answer. I reassembled it and she pulled it apart as we talked. That little puzzle was passed back and forth between us, a dozen time or more as we talked.
It was so simple. Hold these pieces gently, like so, and the last piece tied it together. Pass it back, she pulled that piece and the whole thing came apart again.
23 years later, 18 of them married and it all works exactly as it did all those years ago. Kitty takes it apart and I put it together as we talk. I pull it apart and Kitty puts back together as we talk.
I have no idea where that little wooden puzzle went, but it works just the same.

Monday, August 12, 2019

August 2019 - Miniature Monday

One of my favorite games was Tractics. My dad and I would get some friends together and play on a sandtable in 1:72 scale. It was good fun. Tonight, I came across some of our models.

I believe these are all Airfix and ROCO models from when my dad was a teenager. They are painted in simple tan, a few of which have decals applied. I suspect it is merely spray paint. My dad has come a long ways in his modeling skills.

My favorite models, although nearly useless in Tractics, are the Jeeps and such.

My dad has a flair for modeling. Our sandtable was 4 feet by 12 feet. It was impressive until you consider his gaming table was 36 feet long by 16 feet. When I say his gaming table was 36x16, this was his everyday use table. He has been known to go bigger for one off events. (I am working on getting picture of that right now.)

Anyway, there used to be a time when I could name every model and every statistic from the game. No longer. I have these things in my hands, and I do seem to remember that they are light tanks from the North African campaign, but have no idea what they really are. The smaller ones are Sherman obviously, but I am only certain because the label on the bottle. The larger tanks are labeled DBGM Made in Austria, which makes them ROCOs.

I have several dozen more, perhaps 70 or 80 in all. Some German, American, British and Italian.

I suppose you're waiting for the sales pitch and there is one coming, but not yet.

These models have been sitting on my shelf for decades and today I decided to pull them out so I can have my children play a game of Tractics with me. As I said, I don't remember much from it, except that it was quality time with my dad.

In dusting these off today, I expected to find my set of rules. I still remember all of the charts, the tables and the 3 rule books that came in the box.

Unfortunately, in picking up that box of rules, I realized that I lost my set of Tractics. For all these years, the boxed set that I thought was Tractics is an incredibly dusty set of Striker Rules.

The gamer in me is not disappointed, but the dad in me is.


Now my quest is different. I need to find a set of Tractics, or a close approximation thereof.

Anyone have any suggestions? The models are ready, I have a table and dice. I just need to purchase a set of rules.


I promised a sales pitch, so here it is. My dad has come up with some epic games, usually of his own creation. Of late, he has been into WWI. These aren't simply a set of fun rules, Tanks and Yanks also includes a whole section on building dioramas and set pieces for wargames. While meant for WWI, I could totally see this as being adaptable to any time period.

Here is my "unreview" from a few months ago.

Title: Tanks & Yanks
Author: Philip J. Viverito Publisher: LMW
Rule Set: Tabletop Wargame Rules (Unique)
Year: 2018
Pages: 104
Number of players: 2+
Price: $15.00
Rating: Not yet rated

Tanks & Yanks is the latest offering from LMW. The game covers World War I tank combat. While the title hints that the rules are based on American WWI armor, it includes infantry, armored cars, aircraft and artillery from Germany, the US, France, Britain and Italy.

I was excited to find that the rule set includes dozens of color images and tips for either acquiring models or scratch building models. Personally, I was looking for an excuse to scratch build some tanks.

The rules are heavy, 104 pages with tons of interior art, maps and photos. It looks fascinating and I cannot wait to give this game a play so I can update the rating above.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The United States of the 1980s

I'm watching Stranger Things, Season Three. The Russian characters kill me for all of their 1980s styling. They were right there in the beginning of season, but as tangential characters. Just enough was known about them to build a tense story which really had nothing to do with the Soviets. They were a McGuffin for season 1, left out of season 2, but in season 3, they are a major plot point.

I'm not going to spoil Stranger Things for you, but American TV used to portray Evil Soviet Citizens in a particularly goofy way.

One of the things that stands out to me is, as the Evil Characters, they always had some tiny amount of easily understood motivation. Usually it was played to show their humanity. And where those motive forces most came into play was a deeply subversive scenario.

Said Soviet Super Citizen was always physically stronger than the American opponent, often smarter in very technical ways, but total out of their element when not dealing with brute force or when the operation deviated from the characters background knowledge.

Where the subversion comes in is not in the fact that once the Super Soviet Citizen is free of home influence do they show some heroic, sane and pure traits, but the fact that nearly every aspect of Western European and American culture is designed to somehow subvert them. They want a hamburger, a Coke, a convertible, a nice house, etc. All the things common people like.

While I am sure that many times the intended message was "America is just better", the actual message was cultural perversion. Basically, the good guys end up bribing the Soviets with good ol' American Scooby Snacks.

"Did you just bribe Cthulhu with ice cream?"
"Not any old ice cream. Häagen-Dazs* is the shit."

Let that one sink in.

While we can't go back to the 80's, I think this is an excellent method of designing better villains. Most of the time villains are rather one dimensional, but being evil, they should succumb to perversion of a bigger evil.

*There is some deep irony that Häagen-Dazs came into being to save an American ice cream company from bad sales and lack luster marketing. Make it look different, and poof!, profit.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Analytics Rots the Soul

Stepping behind
my own curtain
According to Google, I have about 2000 page views a month. My target is a modest 3000 views a month. These are not thousands of individual people, several thousand times that someone comes to the site to read something. Fair enough, I think is a good measure.

But what are they reading?

According to the stats, my readers aren't reading much about me. My top 5 posts, in order are:

Google Docs Templates for D&D
Book Review - A Brief Study of TSR Book Design
The 3 Toadstools and #tenmonstersetting
Module Review - BSOLO Ghost of Lion Castle
Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners - Update - We are live!

The first is about  Benjamin Connell’s 3.5 Character Sheet, which I love for my D&D campaigns. The second is a review of Kevin Crawford's history of D&D books, the typography, style and page layouts. This was extraordinary helpful for my self-published books. The 3 Toadstool post was about Shane Ward's excellent campaign icebreaker experiment, Chris Hall's expansion. The ideas totally invigorated my creativity to produce new content for my campaign and my books. Ghost of Lion Castle was a solo adventure by TSR, which was a favorite of mine on rainy days. The final post is all about my first book.

So what?

3000 page views a month is not much of a goal. But to get there, I have understand my audience. If my goal was to convert every reader to a book purchaser, I am a total failure.

But was that ever my goal? I've been doing this since 2012 but didn't write my first book until 2018. That book was born out of the frustration of dealing with an accident at work, not any desire to... you know... make money or gain fame.

I've posted links to my books and thrown up some ads to make the website pay for itself, which is working. I have DriveThruRPG hosting files to mostly free titles I have written (I hate file hosting myself) which is also working. But going forward, I mean to be a part of the gaming community. My purpose isn't to make money or gain fame, but to transmit great ideas to the larger community.

In the month of August, I am bring out two new titles, which are totally tangential to the These Old Games. I mean to update and bring back 52 Weeks of Magic, which is a highly enjoyable activity even though it doesn't generate webhits. But most of all, I mean to write about all the things that are happening in this community.

At some point, I became a service provider, a place to read about all of the wonderful ideas from across the web.  Its time to fully embrace that.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Welcome to The Cat's Old Apartment

Many years ago, I rented an apartment in West Seneca. It was far too expensive and way too small. While it wasn't awful, it was really marginal. It had a kitchen, living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom and a sitting area in an enclosed porch. The porch looked out on to the back of another house, so I didn't use it.

It was all unremarkable until I bought a cat. I hated the place but boy did that cat love the old apartment.

The first remarkable thing that happen was the cat could walk into rooms and vanish. She was Siamese so she was pretty vocal, even when not visible. Once she vanished, I could hear her but never find her until she chose to reappear. It was baffling. After a while, I got used to it.

One day while washing dishes, I opened a cupboard. The cupboard was annoying, it was a massive wooden structure 2-3 feet deep, yet opening the doors revealed that there was only about 12 inches of space to put things. I had assumed that the pipework was taking up the rest of the space. In any event, the cat entered the bottom cupboard. I bent over to grab her and guess what?

She wasn't there. I opened all of the cupboards and drawers as if there was a chance I was mistaken about her entering the only open door. I could hear her meowing, happily, but no cat in sight.

Then I heard it. Swish, clank. Meow! Swish, swish, clank! Meow.

I almost bolted from the apartment.

Instead, I grabbed a chair, a cup of coffee and sat down. I could hear the cat moving, sometimes from within the cupboard. But other times, the sound was coming from the bathroom or the bedroom, which was on the other side of the wall. Her movements were punctuated with that odd swish-clank! noise.

Three cups of coffee later, the cat reappeared from the cupboard I saw her enter. I noticed a small hole in the back of the cupboard, just big enough for a determined cat to enter. On closer inspection, I noticed many small holes, often no more than an inch or two in diameter in the back of each cupboard. Very odd.

The next day, I armed myself with a flashlight, paper, pencil and a ruler. A map like the one below was the result. This map is not to scale, it is more a schematic and from memory.


The first thing I noticed when mapping the old apartment was that if a door could open, it would often block another doorway. Annoying. Item 2, room dimensions didn't make sense relative to the exterior size of the house. And the cupboard was disturbingly disproportional to the room and interior storage space.

There was obviously a space behind it. Looking in the various holes revealed something disquieting. There were ropes, chains and pieces of cloth.

If I was the bolting kind, I would have been gone at this point.

With a little experimentation, I was able to determine the function of this odd cupboard. It was physically dominating in the room, obviously hiding a space behind it. Aside from the small holes, no bigger than a couple of inches, there were no larger openings. Nothing on the walls behind it nor the attic above or the apartment below. Violently opening or closing the cupboard doors caused air to enter the holes and made the fabric, ropes and chains swing noisily. It was meant to distract.

But distract from what?

In my bedroom, the cat had taken a liking to the closet. It turns out there was a secret passage way from the closet of one bedroom to the closet of the other bedroom. It was about 7 feet long. In bedroom two, there was an odd grill, which looked like a heater vent. Except, there was no central heat in this apartment. I had a gas heater awkwardly placed in the kitchen, nearly blocking bedroom 2's doorway. It turns out this grate could be pushed upwards to allow access to the bathroom.

In the bathroom, across from this grate was an inset shelf, no more than 3 inches deep. Pushing it allowed access to the large space labeled with a question mark. This area was about 10 by 10 and painted jet black. Or so it seemed. I entered the area without a light and as my eyes adapted, I noticed the shapes standing along the wall. And they were looking at me.

This time I did bolt.

When I worked up the courage to reenter the apartment, the cat was happily playing in this space so I had to go back in there. With a baseball bat and a very bright flashlight.

Someone had painted the walls with odd blue, pink, purple and mauve lines. They were not even and sometimes broken lines. At about head level, there were white ovals. Only the floor and ceiling were actually black. These shapes looked like people standing against the wall. How creepy.

In this space, I noticed two ladders. One went up and one went down. One lead to the basement and another lead upwards to a crawl space. It was horribly filthy and the wooden catwalk was only about 18 inches wide. I decided not to try my luck.

Later that evening, while sitting in the living room, I took a good look at the old fireplace. It had been sealed up years ago and was now a rather small but nice bookshelf. That matched the shelf in the bathroom. I pushed it and it slid back to reveal another space.

This area was a crawlspace with a ladder to one side, again with the odd paint job, which also covered a window. When a window's glass is painted over, the creep factor climbs by 101. I climbed up the ladder and noticed the same 18" crawlway leading back to the bathroom. This was no an attic of any kind, it was a catwalk above the ceilings. I could see that the area above the cupboard was sealed up with thick wood planks. Some odd bumps might have been the chains and ropes.

I have no idea what all of this was for. Maybe someday I will tell what my landlady said about the apartment and my friend's theories. But not at night. I don't want to think about it.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

A funny very short

Molly’s husband asked if they had a thermometer because he wasn’t feeling well. Her initial answer was, “I am feeding two babies because I am their mother, not yours. I am not the keeper of thermometers so you need to go look in the bathroom.”
Several minutes later, her husband comes back down stairs and asks, “Do we really need three thermometers?”
She turned to see him with a glass thermometer in his mouth and replies “You have one in three chance of wanting me to answer."
Molly is now officially the keeper of thermometers in her house.

Destiny evolution to 2 - No love for hunters

I've been plowing through my json file for G+.

Back in May of 2015, my son was playing Destiny with me. He was 9 or 10. In the middle of a mission, he stopped and climbed into my lap. I asked him what was wrong.

"I need a hug."
"Are you a Titan?"
"Yes."

I gave him a hug. He asked why it matter if he was Titan. I told him: "No hugs for Hunters."


I uploaded a crude screenshot of his Titan and my Hunter to the Destiny Community page in G+. This started my long time habit of heckling hunters in that community. 

Now, heckling is all in good fun and I suspect that Bungie had some fun with me and my son. Here is a screencut from Destiny 2. 


What are the chances? 


Friday, December 16, 2016

This is not the post you're looking for...

Today, I have the chance to see Rogue One.
I haven't been to a Star Wars film on premiere day since I was a child. I'm loving.
So I am AMC with their reclining chairs and student specials. This is going to be awesome!


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Google Fi and Nexus 5

I just received my Nexus x5 and started on Google Fi. So far, the improvement over my Sharp Aquos on Sprint is incredible.

While Google Fi probably is connected to a Sprint network, the end user experience is much nicer. Additionally, I opted for the 32 GB phone which is an incredible improvement over my Aquos' 8 GB.
I'm still playing with some features, but Blogger works much better.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Thunder

I love thunderstorms at night. It's the only time you can smell dust and water, flowers and lightning at the same time against a noble van Gogh blue and white sky.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Rosewell Park

Roswell Park has been here all my life. It something you don’t think about, like the former child star living next door. Until you see it, until you need it.


Roswell Park is truly a Wonder of New York.

Fixtures of Life

If you grew up in Western New York in the 80’s, you must have visited New World Records, The Towne Restaurant, Amy’s Place, Record Theater or The Continental. Maybe all of them in one day.

I am happy to report that 3 of the five are still here and I managed to hit two of them – Record Theater and The Towne, in one day.

The food is still excellent at The Towne, the staff at Record Theater are still knowledgeable and friendly as they were in the 80’s.

Style changes, class doesn’t.