A couple of weeks ago I did an interview with Geoff and Carl at the wargaming podcast The Independent Characters. It was heaps of fun, and went up on the net earlier this week. I talk mostly about Baneblade, but within that cover my work process, what it’s like writing for The Black Library, where my ideas come from and other writing-craft related topics. Be aware, there are spoilers.
Archive for the ‘Random wifflings’ Category
Tags: Baneblade, Black Library, Interview, The Independent Characters, writing
Tags: Extroverts, Introverts
The link above takes you to a great article. My wife is an introvert, and I drive her insane. I talk less than I used to, but by most people’s standards, I talk too much. She thought I should read it, as apparently I get introverts all wrong. (My wife emailed me the link, by the way, rather than telling me the contents).
Although I fully appreciate Mr Rauch’s points, I do find working with introverts frustrating sometimes, and have been dismayed in the past that they often get left behind if their opinions are not directly and frequently solicited in group situations, something I’ve always endeavoured to do, because, you know, they’re usually pretty clever people. But as I said to my wife one day, “What drives me mad about introverts is that to get them to contribute, you have to chase them into a corner and poke them with a pitchfork until they vomit up their ideas.”
Mr Rauch sounds like that more self-assured form on introvert. I have worked less frequently with them, and when I have, they have been my boss.
Despite what the article says, most introverts I know are shy. My wife’s often suffered from being judged arrogant. She has been known to actually back away from a jabbering extrovert. Really she’s just worried about seeming dull (a worry I wish some extroverts I know were afflicted with), so she doesn’t do smalltalk; a shame, as she’s very funny, clever, and has led a very interesting life. Getting her to a party is as much effort, and as delicate an operation, as saving a beached whale (she’s not the same size, she’s gorgeously slender. I mean… I hope you know what I mean. More to the point, I hope she knows what I mean).
But perhaps that’s only because my wife, and other introverts, feel like they’re not living up to society’s extrovert-imposed cultural standards. Basically, we’ve screwed them all up by making them play our game and not theirs. So I propose a global Introverts Day, like we have for lots of kinds of at-risk and oppressed minorities. One day to think on introverts and their unreadable, closed faces and cautious ways.
After all, we’ll still have 364 days left to talk about ourselves.
Tags: Beowulf, John McTiernan, Michael Crichton, Outlander, The Norsmen, The Thirteenth Warrior, top five Viking films, Vikings
I love Vikings. Quite literally, as I married one. But even before I met my future spouse, I’ve liked me a bit of hairy-man, axe-wielding action (not in the bedroom! My wife Emma is a lady, not an identity-challenged Norseman).
Last night I was alone, as Emma was off to see Eddie Izzard. Wide-ranging tastes in comedy, these Nordics. As I’d been staring at a screen forty centimetres away from my face all day and my eyes felt like small hot stones, I decided to stare at a screen four metres away for the evening. Wanting some cheesy, unchallenging SF entertainment, I plumped for Outlander. I figured I’d put my review up from Death Ray 17. Go read it. I was quite enthusiastic, perhaps too much so, but it has a spaceman fighting an alien space dragon with a bunch of Vikings, all my fave things in one package, and I enjoyed it almost as much again last night.
And then I thought, why not share my top Five Viking movies? Yeah? Yeah? You with me? Let’s go!
5 The Norsemen (1978)
Really rubbish Lee Majors movie about the Viking discovery of America. Awful script, awful acting. Hilariously bad. Had my entire family in stitches when I was a lad.
4 Beowulf (2007)
I really enjoyed this CGI version of the legend. Okay, so technically Beowulf was knocking about before the Viking period proper, but he was still a Norseman.
3 Outlander (2009)
Follow the link to the gushing review above. Don’t want to scroll up? Tsk, here it is again.
2 The Vikings (1958)
Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas AND Ernest Borgnine? You betcha. This historical adventure, based on Edison Marshall’s book The Viking, is still great despite its anachronistic depiction of England (it’s about three hundred years out), and Curtis’ ever-present New Yoik accent. The musical score raises the hair on my arms.
1 The Thirteenth Warrior (1999)
Emma and I love this film, and watch it frequently together. It’s her favourite. Yet another take on Beowulf, like Outlander (and likewise a flop, maybe I just like shit movies) it has historical Arab wanderer and Norse expert Ibn Fadlan visiting Scandinavia (he never got that far) and fighting a horde of relict Neanderthals (he certainly never did that!). The Thirteenth Warrior had a terrible production history with, among other things, director John McTiernan falling out with Michael Crichton, upon whose book The Eaters of the Dead the film was based. Crichton bumped McTiernan as director, turning it from atmospheric horror to jaunty actioner, complete with new score. The joins are visible, and it’s a shame so much of the story is missing. I would love to see McTiernan’s version of this film, although apparently the footage was destroyed. Even so, it’s great stuff.
There are of course many other depictions of Vikings and Norse culture on the screen. We can’t wait to see the new Vikings TV show. What’s your favourite?
This isn’t just a random picture of any old baby, looking simultaneously freshly minted and as ancient as time itself as they all seem to, but a special picture of my new nephew!
Edward Haley was born on Monday of this very week to my brother Garth’s wife Rebecca. A healthy 8oz 2lbs, and fairly chilled looking.
If I recall correctly, my brother had a teddy bear called Edward when we were very little. He must really love that name. And why not? Tis a name fit for kings.
This is the third addition to my family’s new generation. I have four brothers (no sisters), and thus far all three of our offspring are sticking true to past form and insisting on being male. As the eldest, I figured I better sire mine first, but my brother Tristan (number three in the running order) broke the chain early on whenhis wife had their son Mason before Garth (number two) and Rebecca had Edward.
At this rate, we’ll soon have filled the world with our progeny, making of our father a latter-day Gengis Khan (at least in the number of descendants stakes). It’s like that Philip K Dick Story, “The Golden Man”. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Tags: beer, Cars, children, David Bowie, dreams, Fairies, Pixar's Cars
Last night I had the weirdest dream.
Well, not the weirdest dream exactly, but pretty wierd. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have dreams like movies, and this was one of them. Want to read about it? Here goes…
I dreamt I was in my parents’ house, which had been given to me. It’s a large, 17th century farmhouse in Wuthering Heights country, old and grey and made of stone and black oak. As I renovated it, part of it had opened up to reveal a new section I was unaware of, a bathroom cupped in a tree growing into the house. It was when my son, Benny, went into the odd little room at the top of the tree that things went a bit odd.
He started to act strangely. To cut a long story short, I discovered he’d been replaced by a fairy changeling called Mev (or something, I remembered properly when I told my wife this morning, I don’t now). My son’s face change to look a little klingony, and thus scary, but Mev was a pretty okay kind of pixie once he realised the game was up. (more…)
Tags: Mordor Troll, photograph, White Dwarf
I’ve been most vexed by photographs recently. I’ve painted some great models and I’ve had a fair few people asking me to share, but my pictures are rubbish. So I emailed top photo dude Glenn More at White Dwarf for some tips, and he sent me this really useful link that tells you how to do it properly. He also gave me some advice regarding camera equipment I’m too poor to act on for the time being.
However, by hamfistedly following his tips using a not-great automatic, a lamp, a box, and an Orc and Goblin army book for a stand, I managed to take this picture of my recently finished Mordor Troll (note, it’s a nice paint job but I foolishly cut off the side bars to his helmet, thinking it was flash. D’oh). Not bad, and a definite improvement on the blurry nonsense I used to come up with. It’s a bit out of focus and on the yellow side, but I’ll sort that once I’ve tracked down the manual to my camera.
Tags: bad moon, big boss, gaming, Night Goblins, Skarsnik, Tiny McFearsome, Tournament, Warhammer
I’ve been playing in a mini Warhammer tournament at my local gaming club these last few weeks, and it looks like I’m coming in third! Yeah, that’s right, that’s a zogging exclamation mark right there. I’m proud, proud for bronze, because I’ve been playing with nothing but Night Goblins.
The restrictions of the tournament were few — 1500 points, no special characters. When I told my old opponent Jes Bickham about this, he jokingly scoffed, “What is this, the dark ages?”
The pendulum of opinion both inside and outside GW swings to extremes over time. Sometimes “the hobby” is all about the rules, sometimes it’s all about collections of miniatures. At the moment, it’s on the collection setting. But really, these games, and the restrictions we imposed, were about our collections, not beard-gaming.
We play all kinds of games at the club, and our organiser decided on small-ish armies to make the games quick, and no special characters for no better reason than to make us choose slightly different forces to normal.
In my case, no special characters meant no Skarsnik. Nope, really. Skarsnik has become a mainstay of my army. In fact, I can often be heard to declaim that I am Skarsnik. That’s in between berating my Goblins for running away/not running away/ being the wrong shade of green. You may guess, I am tipsy. Screw tea with my war, I drink!
With no Skarsnik, my army’s leadership is a lamentable low of 7. So there has been a lot of running away, but some surprising successes. Here’s my list:
- “Tiny” McFearsome – Night Goblin Warboss, Armour of Silvered Steel, Ogre Blade. (So-called as he’s tiny, an ancient but still awesome Marauder-range Goblin hero sculpted by Trish and/or Aly Morrison. They’re Scottish, which explains the “McFearsome” part).
- Bouncer Zig – Night Goblin Big Boss, Great Cave Squig, Sword of Strife.
- Tolly Grin Cheek – Night Goblin Battle Standard Bearer, Bad Moon Banner.
- Fingzap – Night Goblin Level 2 Shaman, Dispel Magic Scroll
- Da Red Hats – 40 Night Goblins with nets, banner, drummer, champion, three fanatics and spears and shields.
- Spiny’s Stickers – 30 Night Goblins with shortbows, banner, gong basher, champion, two fanatics and Old Moonhat the Spiny (boss).
- Gutfurk’s Arrer Boys – 30 Night Goblins with shortbows, banner, gong basher, champion, two fanatics and Boss Gutfurk.
- Bouncer’s Boyz – 10 Squig Hoppers
- Da Snappin’ Death Balls – Squig herd, 16 Cave Squigs, 12 Night Goblins.
We all played three games, with the number of victory points scored by each player totted up to give a leader board.
Tomb Kings, led by Pharoah Ashley. I lost horribly, as I fed my units one at a time through tiny gaps in scenery where they were shot down. Frankly, neither Tiny nor I wish to discuss it.
A victory against Count James of the Empire, memorable for Bouncer’s Boys hammering across the board then rolling the entire opposing army up from left flank to right. The squigs died one by one, but hilariously ended the game, one man strong, chasing thirty handgunners down the battlefield.
Also a victory, against Evil Lord Charlie’s Dark Elves. A great game this, really close, until victory in the last turn came about due to the panicking of my opponent’s large unit of Executioners by… Goblin shortbow fire. I laugh uproariously to say it. The darkest and best of Har Ganeth ran away like the wet elf-goths they are, right into one of the many, many fanatics whizzing around their position and… Well, they all died, and their general legged it off the board, shrieking like a schoolgirl. Some awful animosity rolls here, though. I failed four tests, and twice I got the dreaded “1″ result on the table, which killed about 15 gobboes off. If you don’t know, “1″ on the animosity chart means d6 strength 3 hits on the nearest animosity-prone unit (2d6 if the unit is a horde), and the same back as your target retaliates. Neither unit, and this is the killer, can do anything for the rest of the turn afterwards, which is awful. It’s the first game I’ve suffered this since the latest Army Book came out. And Ouch. Oucy ouch ouch. My advance was stymied for most of the game, leaving me at the mercy of those damnable machine-gun crossbows Dark Elves tote.
Still, Tiny won the day. He only died once in the tournament, and in true Gobbo fashion, only had to fight one melee. In the narrative I constructed in my head, Skarsnik will be most displeased. Concerned by Tiny’s feisty nature and occasional outbursts of tactical acumen, Skarsnik sent Tiny away on a “speshel mishun”, hoping that the better-than-averagely-competent Goblin would die in the process. Unfortunately for the King of Karak Eight Peaks, Tiny returns in glory.
When I nearly walked out of the pub without my figure case, I explained that Skarsnik told me that, should Tiny survive, I had to leave him behind. The battered Lord Charlie said “I like to think you’re actually that mentally unstable.” Oh how we laughed, like at the end of an episode of Thundercats.
Little does he know, eh Skarsnik? Eh? That’s right.
I am Skarsnik.
Tags: clever video stuff, Football, Manchester United, Ralf
I don’t personally like football much. It never got me. I’m too bookish, I suppose. Despite my desire to be all rugged and manly and doing solo sports and wandering around the countryside like a cut-price Aragorn with my giant dog, I am basically a nerd.
But my littlest brother Ralf loves the footie, and works for some famous ball-footers up Manchester way. There I believe he does something clever in Manchester United’s TV station, like this. All his own work. Good eh?
Tags: battlewagon, gaming, Gripping Beast, KR Cases, ork army, SAGA, Salute 2013, Saxons, Vikings, Wargames
I had the great privilege of being at Salute this weekend with The Black Library. I’ve wanted to go forever. As usual, I got to meet a load of really nice readers, and got some pleasing feedback on Baneblade. Thanks to everyone that came and said hello.
Being the huge old wargames nerd that I am I got very excited about being there, and I did not disappoint myself with the amount of money I spent (horrify, would probably be apt). My purchases included some super new figure cases from KR Cases. This ingenious storage solution consists of tough cardboard outers filled with figure hugging soft foam (the kind that hugs goblins, not hourglass ladies’ shapes), and a series of cool bags that you can slip the boxes in and out of (I went for a pouch-festooned backpack). Cardboard isn’t as crap as it sounds — remember they used to make suitcases out of this stuff. KR’s cardboard is super dense, and wax-coated. You can get an awful lot into those boxes, and I’m glad I got them as I was sick of my Ork army falling to pieces every time I took it anywhere. Still, it’s a big army. The three boxes below hold about three fifths of it. I’ve a Citadel case full of grots and boys, and a fighter bomber that need accommodating, along with a defence line, quad gun, and a massive Battlewagon I built out of an old Forgeworld Battlewagon, with fixings and turrets from the new(er) Citadel one. It’s quite special, and I’ll show it off when it’s done.
But, at £25 per case (including foam) and with no postage, it’s not entirely daunting to consider getting some more. I might even shift over the rest of my collection to KR. I sincerely recommend it. My thanks to Carl from the Independent Characters podcast for doing the hard sell. I nearly went for Battlefoam (I already have some, so feel comfortable making the comparison), but KR is cheaper, the foam is softer and, at least at this early stage, seems a bit more versatile.
My other purchases were a couple of books. I’ve been getting excited about The Lord of The Rings/The Hobbit strategy game recently, and got myself the Mordor army list to read on the train (bought in GW Bath, but it still counts toward the overall weekend spend). Skirmishing is where it’s at for me, as it means I can paint some different models and have a cool force on the table without investing half my life in painting an entirely new army. So, having a ton of Gripping Beast Dark Ages miniatures anyway (as well as some Wargames Foundry, and a healthy number of ancient Perry twins Citadel Vikings), after seeing a demo I thought I’d give their wargame scale SAGA game a go.
The system doesn’t rely on differences between troops so much as other systems do — all the factions basically have three grades of warriors that use the same stats (with minor differences). That kind of makes sense, as in that period everyone used similar equipment, and so there are also no real army lists either. The tactical wrinkles are in the unique orders system for each side presented on card “battleboards”. By rolling six special dice you generate various symbols that can be spent to give basic orders to your men or to employ their special talents. As far as I can tell, it’s got a really smooth, clean play style, and I’m very much looking forward to giving it a try. My only grumble was that at £25 for a slender rulebook, it’s very steeply priced, so much so I spent the whole day debating whether to get it. I certainly didn’t buy the dice sets, which for my two forces of Saxons and Vikings would have come in at a whopping additional £24 for 16 cubes of plastic. If I enjoy SAGA I’ll probably invest as using regular dice — which you can — might get annoying. I can’t help it.