Showing posts with label amazon ads. Show all posts
Showing posts with label amazon ads. Show all posts

Monday, May 25, 2020

Scale Model - The Villein's Byre House - Part 7

I'm really amazed that I have a 7th post. I've been busy lately.

Anyway, here is the curved and flat wall beams in place. This is kind of testament to the miracle of Tacky Glue. I didn't need to tape, support or pin anything in place.

Great product!

You'll notice that almost nothing is square or even. That's fine. A scale model can be perfect, but I can't help but notice the effort is almost not worth it as people won't touch or hold a "perfectionist model". Also, the run down nature of this build gives the end product a little charm. Besides, if it does break...

Once the roof is complete, you'll hardly notice all the crooked bits anyway. I've been having this debate over whether or not I should place the five cross beams that a real byre house would have. I'm not going to do it as leaving the out makes constructing the roof easier. Funny that models work like that, because these beams would be necessary to complete a real house. Divergent tech for divergent models.

Anyway, I'll throw up a link to Tacky Glue at the end of this post, because it's a wonderful product.
People have asked me about what kind of stryfoam I use. Any kind of styrofoam will do, but I happened to have some sheets of insulation and used those for the base. They were 3/4 of an inch thick and three of them layered together was a good "rise" for the base. The last time I saw this stuff in the store, it was being marketed as a replacement for an acoustical tile, 8 4 by 2 sheets for $10. They'd fill a hole where a tile went, but I can't image they would hold up or work correctly.

Anyway, you don't have to waste good money on a piece of stryofoam. Any salvaged thing will do. The styrofoam floor of this byre house came from the packaging for a TV. Styrofoam isn't easily recyclable, so don't buy it if you have to. Below are some images of things I've made out of salvaged stuff. If you can make stuff from something that isn't often recycles, all the better.




As promised, here is the sales link. Every click and purchase supports this site with remuneration.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Never do I ever... Roll for Random Encounters at Night

There you have it. Page 47 of the Dungeon Master's Guide, Encounters. My copy is stained with the blood of a thousand characters. But hardly any of the blood came from a nighttime encounter. And certainly not a random nighttime encounter.

Back in the day... and when I say "day", I mean from time immemorial to present day... people hunker down at night. Night is not fun unless you are up to something that can only happen at night. Typically, to have a good time at night, you need a plan, not "random". A dinner party, a star watching party, New Year's Eve and so on. Many people would be hard pressed to name a "random nighttime event" that went well for them. 

The same goes for RPG's. Don't waste time on a nighttime encounter roll. It makes the players nervous and edgy, which is sometimes fun. But not once a day, every day. Night time IS fearful, but the playing field is level when everyone fears. Not much moves at night. (Vampires are a story for another time).  

Many epic things happen in the light of the moon. You can't trust your dice to tell you what that is. You make it so. And make it good. 

One of my favorite stories about night adventures isn't even mine. It's the story of the Seventh Galbiana. This was a legion that declared for Otho against Vitellius for the Purple. Otho was coming north to head off Vitellius who was racing south for Rome. Both armies turned to meet, Vitellius' forces facing west and Otho's to the east. They met at dusk at Bedriacum and the Second Battle of Bedriacum was on. It was one of the rare cases where the Romans fought through the night. The Seventh's eagle fell to the enemy in the dead of night, but was saved by one centurion who sacrificed himself for honor. The fighting was chaotic, ferocious and exhausting. 

As the Sun rose, there was a collision of happenstance. The Seventh was on the left hand of the field, facing to the west. They were under command of Antonius, who served in the Legio III Gallica in Syria. When dawn broke, the men of the Seventh Galbiana followed Antonius' lead turned their backs to the enemy and gave a might cheer to something in the east. The Vitellian forces, the whole army, not just the ones facing the Seventh collapsed and retreated believing that Otho's reinforcements were taking the field. 

Nothing could be further from the true. All the Seventh was doing was emulating Antonius' Syria habit of saluting the Sun.  

Such thing are random, but not the sort of random that dice generate. If you want your players to enjoy their game, give them something to think about, not something the dice tell you.

If you like such stories, you can read more about this the book 69 A.D. by Gwyn Morgan.

Scale Model - The Villein's Byre House - Part 6

I wish I had made more progress on this, but the nice weather allowed me to get outside and do some
yard work. Anyway, in the last post, I wrote about making one wall curved and one wall flat. Today, I'll show some progress. It was a lot more intensive than it looks.

Bamboo is not wood.
To make the curved wall, I needed to bend some wood. What they would have done in real life is made a bunch of short posts to create the space. The curve was an illusion of the thatched roof coming down from a point. If I did that, I would need a half dozen posts. I want no more than 4.

The center upright posts are actually made of bamboo chopsticks, so I tried heating up a piece of bamboo and bending it. Bamboo is not wood, so this didn't work out. Even though I made a dozen or so cuts in the piece, it snapped when I bent it but only in the places where I cut.

I tried again with a piece of balsa wood. This too didn't work for a variety of reasons. I got the exact same result. The issue is, balsa is kiln dried and lacks the moisture content needed to bend.

Anyway, what I got will work, since neither piece broke completely through and through. If it did, I would have gone back outside to get a small fresh stick and try again. Which I might anyway, but not for this build.

Bamboo cracks, not bends. 
Dried balsa wood also cracks.
Now, bending wood requires wood, moisture and a temperature of at least 200 degrees F. Wood is a poor conductor, so you might be able to hold it but don't. You will not be able to hold it long enough to work with it. I took a ball jar lid and rammed the wood inside. I left it to dry over night.

The results were not too bad, so I'm going to work with these. While they are cracked, I can cover this up with the roof and walls.

Now let me warn* you about this technique to bend wood. You need wood with moisture content and some way to manipulate the product without touching it. A steamer is helpful, as are heat proof gloves. I would not trust heat proof gloves against a steamer. Don't hold the wood if you use this method. I simply dropped the wood in a boiling pot of water. If this was a larger piece, thick gloves would be necessary in case the wood breaks in your hands.

Here is how the end product looks. Both are usable, but the bamboo feels like it would break if put under any more pressure. I might use the bamboo for another model as it looks cool.


If you are following along at home and want to try your hand, here are some suggested products from Amazon.com which could help you start your own byre house. Purchasing via these Amazon links supports this site with remuneration.

Foam Cutter Sandpaper Tacky Glue Balsa Wood Styrofoam Blocks

*I don't generally do things that would require a warning or caution, but I managed to remove a chunk of skin doing this and might have burn my palms. This is more a commentary on having diabetic neuropathy as opposed to doing something dangerous. I'm not sure how it happened. Neuropathy is a demon because not only can you have numbness, you can have tingling or pain so you are convinced that sensations aren't important or aren't real. I might have burned myself, or scrapped skin off on the counter top or ball jar lid. I'm not sure which. Just be careful.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Scale Model - The Villein's Byre House - Part 5

Groovy.
Center Beam
Today, things get a little more interesting. I made a small base out of styrofoam and glued it to a sheet paper. I can now use my foam cutter to make holes for the beams to set in.

To assist with the mount of the top beams, I cut a groove down the center of the wooden wall posts. This recess isn't perfectly shaped to the beam but it does provide space for the glue to rest in.

Now it's decision time. Generally, people would have cut down trees then stripped the limbs and bark to get a round post. Do I want to cut these posts into round parts instead of square?

No, not really.

In scale these wall posts are 18" thick while the center posts and beams are less than a foot. That isn't too crazy. Working with my first concept of "found materials", perhaps the abandoned tower used 18" square beams and the current homeowner recycled them. They probably couldn't lift an 18 foot section or the massive 40 beam, so they had to cut down new trees, which explains the two different materials in use.

Having dry fitted everything, I started gluing. For now, I have glued the 5 center posts, the top beam and 12 of wall posts. I didn't glue the end posts because I am not sure where I am going with this. I have two options for a byre house. The end walls can be squared off or curved.

Returning to a bit of realism, a curved wall is harder to construct but is load bearing both up and down and side to side. A flat wall is only load bearing in the vertical. A good push can knock it down.

Both styles are fairly common for a variety of reasons. Strength vs. easy of use. Byre houses can last hundreds of years if properly maintained. Squared off end walls allow the homeowner to easily remove a whole wall without compromising the entire structure. Why would this be a useful feature? The floors were often made of ash and lime over a woven stick construction over a low basement. These floors need to be maintained and replaced, so access down the entire length of the house is a great feature.


It turns out that some historical examples of these types of houses have the rounded wall in the west. It was often constructed out of logs with the gaps covered over with mud. Since animals were brought in the home for security and warmth, it would make sense to have this stronger, yet airier rounded structure face into the wind. The smell... well. I don't know how they got used to that.

On the opposite side of the house was the family space, it broken up from the animal's space by a wall or a hallway. Since I am not showing the interior in this model, it doesn't matter much. There will be a door in the center of the long walls on both sides.

The eastern, squared off wall can have a couple of finishing pieces. Either it can simply be a flat wall, or have a porch-like structure under the roof, which cuts into the family space but has a door. More modern structures might have a fireplace and chimney which closes off most of the eastern end. I will probably make it as simple as possible.

That's it for today. If you are following along at home and want to try your hand, here are some suggested products from Amazon.com which could help you start your own byre house. Purchasing via these Amazon links supports this site with remuneration.

Foam Cutter Sandpaper Tacky Glue Balsa Wood Styrofoam Blocks

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Other Stuff Coming Down the Pipes - Models and Figures

I want to get back into building models and painting figures. So I placed an order on Amazon. These seem to be all Japanese imports, but not ridiculously expensive.

Millennium Falcon + 2 X-Wings 2 A-Wings Jedi Starfighter

The fighters are all 1/144 scale while the Falcon is 1/350. I might have to kit bash a Falcon is 1/144 scale, but I have no idea how big that would be.

As I progress, we'll be looking at each build individually.

Anyway, my kids are asking for some Lego Star Wars sets. I can't find the Falcon, but I did find the fighters. These images are link's to Lego.com. I have to warn you, the reason my kids don't have these is the price.


Jedi Fighter A-Wing X-Wing

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Endless Quest Books at Amazon

In Feburary, I was looking at these series of books on Amazon. I love these choose your own adventure style books. Since then, I noticed the price dropped on a couple of them. Back in March, I realized I'd have some time on my hands so I picked up a few of these. The prices were better on Alibris, so that is the route I when. However, they did not have all of the titles, so Amazon has a better selection.

The links below are paid ads and will take you to Amazon.com. 

Endless Quest Books

Ads provided by Amazon help fund this website by remuneration. 

Why not try Amazon Prime today and save on shipping, plus get great music and videos? Get 30 days free by clicking the link below.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Books for Winter Break

I have 10 days to read and none of my classes have textbooks. So I picked up a bunch of books from Amazon.com. Each link below, except Aquelarre Breviarium is an ad which supports this website. 

The first two are The Minus Faction series. Breakout has 4.7 of 5 stars. It seems to land someplace between thriller and superhero novel. 


I do love serialized books, because they tend to be quick reads. Crossfire is the second in the series. Both books' reviews often call them page turners, so I hope to knock them both out this weekend.


Alastair Reynolds'  Permaforst is another thriller, which seems different for him. It includes time travel, which I also like. Reynolds is often a hard sci-fi writer, so I want to see how he handles it. I love all of his shorter works and have reread many of them. This one is a novella. 


And my long slog of reading is Aquelarre Breviarium, the classic Spanish roleplaying game. This one will take awhile as I can read Spanish, but never read anything of this genre. You can pick up the PDF from Nosolorol. I found it hard to find on their website, so the link goes directly to the PDF's page.

NEW! Aquelarre is now available at DriveThruRPG!


Come read along with me. 

Saturday, January 4, 2020

What is Dungeons and Dragons? Book Review

Title: What is Dungeons and Dragons?
Author: John Butterfield, Philip Parker and David Honigmann
Year: 1982
Pages: 231
Rating: ★★★★★

Way back when, my dad took me to The Tek Pharmacy and told me flat out, "I don't have any extra money to get you anything." As he shopped I made my way to the book section and was perusing the Choose Your Own Adventure Books. I didn't want another, I felt like I had "graduated" from those, even though they were always enjoyable.

Back then, things were not like they are today. Being a small pharmacy, the books on the shelves would be by today's standard very old. The books were perhaps as old as 5 year since their publication date being sold as new. This is why I can't nail down the exact year of this visit. But in all likelihood, I probably look like either one of the kids on the right.

After Dad picked up his script or whatever he was buying, he found me looking at a book called: What is Dungeons and Dragons? by John Butterfield, Philip Parker and David Honigmann.

As I put it back on the shelf to leave, my dad said, "Oh, a book. I have money for a book. As long as you read it." I was probably 10 or 11. Now I am almost 48. And I'll tell you, I read the hell out that book. The pages were falling out, the spine was shattered and the cover had gone missing a long time ago. Finally, the book met it's end when the basement flooded. It was a sad day because this book has been out of print probably for decades.

As you will note, this is my second 5 gold star review. My first was Nate Treme's The Moldy Unicorn. If I had it do over again, I would make What is Dungeons and Dragons? the first and The Moldy Unicorn second. My Mom is a publisher, my Dad writes game books and I write, too. I don't go forking out 5 gold stars for shits and giggles. (Normally, I don't cuss either, but it is what it is.) The content has to be not just superior, it has to be memorable.

I've read both over and over again and they both evoke the same feeling of nostalgia. Each was something wildly different than what I had encountered in the past.

Within Butterfield, Parker and Honigmann's book, you get a ground up approach to game play. The first 8 chapters cover a massive amount of ground. Back in 1982, this was the closest one could get to "The Internet". Chapter 1 is an introduction to D&D. Chapters 2-5 walk the reader through character generation, dungeon design, an adventure with examples, and the role of the Dungeon Master in the game. Each of these topics are presented in a solid and memorable framework, with the section on The Adventure standing out. The sample adventure is not a classic in the sense of many great modules, but is a model of what one could realistically expected to produce on one's own. And that is great!

The next several chapters cover more advance details, such as figures, accessories, computers and even AD&D with the same solid reporting of the first 5 chapters.

The final chapter addresses other game systems, in a rather cursory fashion when compared to the information now available to us now. At 231 pages, some of which are maps, diagrams, and indices, there is no way for this book to rival information available on even a couple of web pages, but this is all I had back then.

This book is a treasure. At this point I am going to throw an ad at you. If you love the history of the game, go purchase this book. My link is to Amazon, but seriously, shop around and try to get your hands on one by any means possible.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Exciting 2020 Blogs - THAC0 and Red Dice Diaries

I was going to make this post about a lot of blogs, but I only have time for the one I am really excited for: Red Dice Diaries. John is working on a campaign for Colonial Time Period B/X game.

Over on THAC0's facebook page, someone was just asking about guns in D&D, which sort of fits John's idea. However, my question is, how does magic slide into a Colonial Setting?

Go check out the Red Dice Diaries here. And friend THAC0 on Facebook here at this link. THAC0 also has an associate blog page which is a wonderful read if you like anything about D&D.

If I were to suggest a resource or two for John's campaign, I would pick the book "Everyday Life In Early America". I've always meant to do a review of this book as it paints a highly detailed picture of common things the colonist would have done or encountered in a day. I totally use this for my D&D campaigns to get the brain juices flowing.

Red Dice Diaries also has a link to an excellent resource called "30 Days of Worldbuilding: An Author's Step-by-Step Guide to Building Fictional Worlds" by A Trevena. He will be using this book to build his campaign, so now is a great time to either follow his blog or add the podcast to your podcatching software.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

My Amazon Picks for 2020

I have a list of books I want from Amazon. Here they are, in no particular order: You can read about these choices on this post from 2019. The links below are paid ads and will take you to Amazon.com.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Clamshell iBook Hard Drive Replacement Alternative

The link below to Amazon is a paid ad and will take you to Amazon.com for purchasing.

My aging Blue iBook is suffering from a lack of space. This machine shipped with a 10 GB hard drive way back in 1999. Since I launched theseoldgames.com, the need for installation space has gone up noticeably.

Ifixit.com has wonderfully detailed instructions for repair of a variety of consumer products, including the iBook. They are my "go to" site for most repair projects. However, replacing the iBook drive has 10 sections, 36 steps and no time listed for the upgrade. It is also marked difficult. Since I trust them, I believe that this is within my skill range, but will exceed my patience for the task.

When I upgraded my old computers hard drive the task took all of an hour. This is a much bigger project, one I am not convinced that I ready to start.

I had been using a USB thumb drive as an alternative to upgrading the drive, but having a little dongle sticking out the side of the computer was always a recipe for disaster. What if I broke the one and only USB port?

Well, that is where the SanDisk Cruzer Fit USB drive comes in. It's a tiny USB drive with more than adequate storage. This 32 GB drive was less than $20.00, on Amazon. Now you can get several of them for a little less than $35.00.

The SanDisk Cruzer would not be my first pick because I am clumsy and forgetful. Under normal circumstances, I would lose this thing in less than a day. However, once it is plugged into the iBook, it's sleek, small form is perfect for this machine. As you can see in the next picture, the SanDisk Cruzer doesn't extend past the edge of the case.

Perfect! Drive problem solved, no particular downsides other than loosing the use of the USB. Aside from a floppy drive and Wacom Table, I have nothing that uses that port. To be honest, I won't need to use either one for this laptop.

One caveat when plugging any drive into a OS 9 Mac - Sometimes the Mac will want to initialize the disk into a flavor or form it can use. Most modern machines do not have this problem, so plugging the drive into the Mac first, formatting if needed, then putting information on it using a different machine is the route to go.

In a perfect world I'd upgrade the hard drive, but this solution is so handy compared to the real fix, I'm gonna run with it.

Pros: Cheap and easy.
Cons: Can't boot from USB. Utilizes the only USB port on the machine.




Ads provided by Amazon help fund this website by remuneration.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Research for Pio

Pio is a novel set in Italy before Mussolini's rise to power. It has sat on the back burner for a while and there it will remain until I do some more research.

To that end, I am reading How Fascism Ruled Women. While it is set at some point after this novel's timeline, the effects of fascism were already becoming a powerful force on society. Reading the end point is kind of backwards, but helpful.

I order a physical copy from Amazon, which was a little pricey but worth it.

What I have found is that I need to back up in time to really capture what and why things were happening in Italy between the World Wars.

I love research!

The link below is paid ad and will take you to Amazon.com.




Ads provided by Amazon help fund this site by remuneration for clicks and purchases.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

J5T - Classical Hack

The links below are paid ads and will take you to Amazon.com and DriveThruRPG, respectively. Funny that my site is missing a reference to Classical Hack.
Classical Hack is a full gaming system created and published by Lynne and Philip Viverito. As a kid, I watched epic battles play out in my living room, dining room, basement, garage and bedroom. At first I was an outsider, then I was a participant.
My parents engaged me in creativity and gamesmanship from a very young age. Castles and knights lurked in every corner of our home. Every house and every apartment we ever lived had a game room. And if it didn’t, any room and every room could be transformed into one.
One of my earliest memories was of a convention in Lockport, New York. My dad had constructed an amazing castle of incredible detail, complete with a custom table to hold it. The whole construct seemed amazingly tall, I couldn’t reach the top standing on a chair.
I recall sitting on the edge of tables as dice were rolled and Romans met barbarians with sword and spear. People played, laughed and cursed late into the night.
Which brings me to Classical Hack.
 ClassicalHack.com is a web site dedicated to historical miniature gaming, created by life long gamers. 
The game system is very period specific. The series includes:
  • Holy Hack Hacking by the Book Biblical Warfare,
  • Homeric Hack Warfare in the Age of Homer,
  • Classical Hack Warfare from 600 BC to 250 AD,
  • Hack In the Dark Warfare in the Dark Ages 250 AD to 1000 AD,
  • Knight Hack Warfare in Middles Ages 1000 AD to 1450 AD,
  • Pike Hack The Road to Dunbar Warfare in the Age of Cromwell.
To support these rules there are two scenario books:
  • Classical Hack Rome
  • Classical Hack Macedonia.
All books, even prototypes were written on Macintosh Computers typically using Adobe for editing and page layout.
You can check out ClassicalHack.com for updates to this great gaming system, get it from DriveThruRPG or purchase a copy from Amazon:

Or DriveThruRPG.