Tuesday, 25 August 2015

8:15 From Manchester - A Bearded Quail Travelouge

Actually it was the 9:07 from Glasgow, but the title is for kids of a certain generation
I may nickname my long term girlfriend, fellow nerd and generally fabulous partner Sister Superior but I ain't going to lie to you guys - I think her inclinations lie more with the Ruinous Powers than the loyalist Imperial inclinations of the usual Adeptus Sororitas.

These inclinations took us to Manchester at the weekend because she wanted to attend Sexhibition - essentially a giant expo to alternative, burlesque, erotic and other such affairs.   If you've ever been to a nerdy convention with speakers, performers, sellers stalls and the like then this was the same idea..... just for a slightly different audience.

They called it "Lady Godiva stool".  I called it "a tripedal Slaaneshi combat walker, just add your own guns"

I say slightly different audience because there were a lot of geeky men wandering around in Teefury T-Shirts, accompanying their more exotically attired girlfriends.  There's traditionally a lot of overlap between the three Gs - Gays, Geeks and Goths - so it's no wonder that plenty of people in attendence were ticking more than one of those boxes.

These included bumping into an English gentleman who I got chatting to because I spotted his Warhammer tattoo - a large Space Wolf logo was on his right arm.  Sister Superior and I ended up chatting to this chap and his missus a fair bit - turns out he's an Oldhammer type who used to work for GW many moons ago and also was a former member of the Gordon Highlanders, the regiment my Dad was in back in his army days.  Add a dash of having some shared friends in Glasgow and Sister Superior ended up with a lot of nerdy chat washing over her while she angled to get back to looking at the fashion stalls.

But come on, what Warhammer nerd wouldn't want to give this guy a high five?

Anyway, I shall not go further into the vent because the details of Sexhibition are not of interest to you, dear reader. 

....OK, that's a lie, they probably are of interest to you because of the whole "three Gs" thing and the fact that nerds go for a certain sort. However, the Bearded Quail is not subtitled "A Guide To A Glasweigan Gamer's Slightly Weird Deviances", is it?  Pictures and comments of the event, the people we met there and the items we bought there are not within the narrow remit of this blog so we'll skip over it unless people are specifically requesting it.

You don't want to know anything about Morgana, who as in attendance at the  event as a model, thought admittedly here she looks like a Pendragon NPC.
Instead, let's focus as we should on Nerdity and to the three nerdy stores I visited while in Manchester - what I thought of them and what I bought therein.  I didn't wander far from the city centre but found some great shops.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Ganieda, Sister Of Merlin: My 150th Post

A SNES game form the 90s based on a cartoon I have absolutely no recollection of.

The story of King Arthur is a broad church.  It includes a lot of obvious stuff: The Sword in the Stone book and film, the classic fiction like Le Morte Darthur or Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight and the more famous films like Excalibur, First Knight or that one where Keira Knightly was the most RADA trained Pict I've ever seen.  Recent TV shows like Merlin and Camelot also spring to mind.

This swarm of fiction includes some more obscure examples and some weird and wonderful characters who don't always make it into other versions.  Reading Le Morte Darthur my favourite character was Sir Palomides, a character who doesn't really get a look-in when it comes to films but comes across all the cooler for being a Saracen written by medieval Christian authors as pretty cool.  The Welsh myths give us a more dark ages Arthur and some proper pagan nonsense like the Troit Boar.   In The Mists of Avalon, we take the usually villanous Morgana Le Fay and make her far more sympathetic.

And there's a version of the story set at an American high school.  Obviously.

It is The Mists of Avalon which inspired my following piece of writing on Ganieda, the sister of Merlin.  She's a bit of a sparsely written character, mentioned in 12th century writing but never making it to the "big league" books we've addressed before.  I was interested enough in reading an article about her on Timeless Myths to incorporate her in my Pendragon game where she became a noteworthy NPC.

Search her name on Google and you find a spare collection of links.  Concerningly, the top search is Timeless Myths and the second top search is my own Wiki article on her for our game.

Number six is also me posting on a forum to find out if anyone else had used her.  The answer was no.
What follows below the cut is a piece I wrote on Ganieda for The Dragons of Britain, a free King Arthur RPG fanzine by Stephanie McAlea and that I'm reprinting here as an 150th Blog Post anniversary piece.  The piece got some positive comments on the Pendragon boards, but I'd like to try and get the character out to a wider audience.  Considering how little she has appeared in Arthurian literature over the years there is the concerning possibility I am the human being who has written the most about Ganieda, ever, in the history of the universe, which is a somewhat concerning position to be in.

Anyway, please read and enjoy the piece below.  Also check out the fanzine - I wrote another article in Issue #1 and it's had a few other issues since with some good material in there.

This magazine is free on RPGNow.Com, so check it out!

Friday, 14 August 2015

The Fourth Rule Of Book Club Is: Only Two Guys To A Book

Not the biggest booked we've ever done for the book club, but still a big book
Monday 3rd August was the latest Forbidden Planet Book Club meeting, and this time round one of our newer members was asked to select a book. This latest book was Seconds, by Bryan Lee O'Malley - the man behind the Scott Pilgrim series, though this time with a few extra hands doing colouring and other tasks.

I suspect even if you haven't read the six part manga-a-like Scott Pilgrim comics you are almost certainly familiar with the film a few years ago, which made a fairly big splash in nerd circles but seemed to do poor business at the box office.  (Turns out a film that starts with the intro sound effect from The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past is just a bit too niche)

I was a little nervous going into this book, because while I enjoyed Scott Pilgrim for the most part I knew nothing about this latest book.  A few people at the club were champing at the bit to read it…. But then they had been similarly excited about The Sculptor and I found that to be a bit of a waste of time.  I have a bit of a contrary streak in me, it must be said: if everyone is buzzing too much about something I can't help but gaze at it a little sceptically.  (A prime example being my opinion on Neil Gaiman which isn't quite as reverential as everyone else.)

However, these concerns were all for naught because I would have to say that Seconds is very good - in fact, possibly better than Scott Pilgrim as an artistic unit.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Pygmy Fallout - And Some Good & Bad Figures From Other Manufacturers


So, my last post about the Pygmies was intended to be a sort of companion piece to Orlygg or Zhu's older blog posts on the same topic.  Their analysis was more positive than mine and recent events prompted me to write what I thought of as a sort of rebuttal.

A quick check online revealed it was a topic the Oldhammerers had talked about before but I thought a piece that mentioned both arguments, had some pictures and tried to present it in a newbie-friendly way might be interesting. If nothing else, my local gaming chums aren't huge Oldhammerers so they might not know the history and might be interested to read about the offending pieces.

Some of the offending pieces.

As I often do after I've written a blog post, I posted a link to any appropriate Facebook groups I'm a member of to try and drive some traffic and start some conversation.  I posted it to four Facebook groups all in, and the three generic gaming/modern 40K groups were all perfectly pleasant and civilised about it.

For whatever reason, the Oldhammer group went nuclear very quickly.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Perils Of Pygmies - Are These Old Figures Racist?

Don't You Forget About Me

 In my last post I mentioned the Zoats, a race who are no longer extant in Warhammer.  Most such excised races were attempts to create new races whole-cloth to give Warhammer something unique rather than a pastiche of classic ideas – for every success story like the rat-men Skaven, there was a somewhat abortive idea like the one-eyed Fimir or faux-Mongolian Hobgoblins that didn’t quite last the course.

Reading older editions of the rules can reveal a surprising amount of time spent on ideas that people who started playing the 90s would know nothing about, or whom were very heavily changed – the frog-men Slaan for example, who as late as 3rd edition had a full army list but for the bulk of my play time have been represented on the table by a single, bloated toad-man leading a Lizardman army.

When I first got my copy of the 3rd edition rules and army lists, perusing them from the vantage point of the 21st century, the race that struck me as most incongruous was not the Fimir, the Zoats, the Slaan, the Amazons, the Gods of Law or even the Nippon Kamikazes.  Instead, it was one of the kinds of human that was presented as allies/slaves of the Slaan.

This race are named after the Pygmies, and talking about them is going to be a part-geek ramble, part-political argument.  In short, this might be a bit more SERIOUS than normal.  Set your expectations accordingly.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Blast From The Past: White Dwarf 97

I was hugely fond of this film as a child, and it came out in the year we are talking about today.

From the depths of eBay I got my hands on White Dwarf 97 – the issue before the last issue to feature on my Blast From The Past section.  The issue date is January 1988 and as such we are once again looking back to the cusp of a big change in the company.  Here we see the arrival of wargaming and in particular 40K articles taking up sizeable real estate and threatening the RPG side of the magazine for limelight.

One gets the feeling from these issues that the then recent Warhammer 40,000 release has been a much bigger deal than expected – original Warhammer author Rick Priestly has explained in interviews that there was a lot of skepticism that the game would do any business, which from the vantage point of 2015 seems particularly surreal.  Warhammer 40,000 is regularly considered to be the main game of modern Games Workshop with Fantasy trailing behind – but back in the mid-80s, science fiction wargaming was considered a niche affair.  Even now, the same opinion marks roleplaying games – D&D and related fantasy games remain the RPG baseline.

Anyway, enough rambling!  Here comes some pictures of the pages that most grabbed my attention in this issue of White Dwarf and my comments thereof.   Those who wish to know should read on. Others may wish to skip on to the last picture which is a good bit and has Discworld in it.

Monday, 3 August 2015

General Status Update Type Thing

"Kiff, I have made it with a woman.  Inform the crew."

So, what's been happening in the world of George's nerdity since last I blogged?