Saturday, February 8, 2020

Mold lines are the bane of my existence

This afternoon I was putting some models together, cleaning mold lines, and doing some basing. Mold lines are a long-running antagonist for my hobby activity. I hate them when I am painting minis, so I will do my utmost to get rid of them. Even if I've started painting a model, I have been known to grab the razor knife or some files to fix a lingering line.

Back in the day, when most figures were single-piece models with filled undercuts, mold lines were easy. Find the seam, follow it around the figure with files and razor knife, done. Even most multi-part models are easy. Just find the seam on each piece and you're home free.

Lately I'm seeing a shift though. Mold lines are getting harder to remove. And it all goes back to the original design and manufacturing of the model.

More models are being produced based on digital designs that are then produced on a 3D printer, cast to make a mold or molds, and then cast to produce the figures and/or parts. The results are generally great models with a lot of intricate detail. Often the manufacturer will go the extra length and pre-assemble the figure for you. Most manufacturers are not going to take the time to smooth mold lines. They are interested more in producing however many figures and then moving on to the next project. This is especially true for manufacturers that are producing board game figures or mass runs of custom minis that are designed to be cheap to produce and inexpensive to buy.

I am not knocking these figures by any means. I have a couple of massive board games with minis that I plan to paint. And I have backed (probably a few too) many Kickstarter projects for minis. I am buying modern figures and will continue to do so.

I am noticing the difference between physical sculpting and 3D digital sculpting, and I will always prefer the former. This is simply because a physically-sculpted model has had to have a tool create all of the undercuts and depressions on the model. And if a sculpting tool had to get there, odds are I have a file, blade, or sharp tool that can get in there as well. I can get all of the lines.

Digital sculpting and casting are great for detail, but they often create mold lines that simply can't be removed. No physical tool has had to get into these depressions, nor could they. Instead, it's just a pointer for developing the model, and a liquid casting medium for making the mold. Models designed this way are not cast in metal; they're normally cast in resins or plastics. These flow into all of those crevices and create very smooth surfaces. Most are also forgiving when being demolded.

Metal models are very unforgiving. If there is a crevice that the metal flows into that isn't easily accessible, it will freeze the model in the mold. Sometimes the same will happen with resin or plastic, but it's much more correctable with softer material.

I have been getting around some of the mold lines by removing them as best I can with curved sculpting tools, but I have as likely as not gouged the surfaces and created worse blemishes than the mold lines. So then I have to go back and fill the area with sculpting putty and sculpt a new surface that fills the holes and blemishes. This creates a lot of work and occasionally results in models developing a propensity for flight.

Anyway, just something I was thinking about as I was working on some models today. Let me know if you have similar problems pop up with your figures and what you're doing to take care of them.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Proxie Models bases

Last week I asked Jennell Jaquays about the bases on some models she had painted and posted to Facebook. She pointed me toward Proxie Models. Their bases looked similar to some of the Reaper bases I like, so I ordered a bunch of different sizes to see how they compare.

I ordered 15, 20, 25, 30, and 40 mm round bases and 30 x 20, 50 x 25, and 75 x 25 mm pill-shaped bases. Each pack was $4.50 US, and I ordered enough to take advantage of the offer for free shipping for orders over $35. I ordered them on Friday and received the package on the following Monday. They confirmed the order and shipping status in separate emails.

A variety of Proxie Models bases

The packages all had multi-base sprues, with different numbers of bases and sprues in each pack:

15mm round: 96 bases, 4 sprues, 24 bases/sprue
20mm round: 40 bases, 5 sprues, 8 bases/sprue
25mm round: 32 bases, 4 sprues, 8 bases/sprue
30mm round: 24 bases, 4 sprues, 6 bases/sprue
40mm round: 16 bases, 4 sprues, 4 bases/sprue
30 x 20mm pill-shaped: 32 bases, 4 sprues, 8 bases/sprue
50 x 25mm pill-shaped: 16 bases, 4 sprues, 4 bases/sprue
75 x 25mm pill-shaped: 16 bases, 4 sprues, 4 bases/sprue

The bases are all made of hard styrene plastic. They all feel a little slick to me, so there is probably a bit of mold release on them. I'll probably give them a quick wash before I use them.

All of the bases are thin - only 3 mm thick. The center of the top is recessed to create a slight (about 1/2mm) depression and has a bit of light texture. The sides have a bit of slope, but it's barely noticeable. These bases have a really low profile, so they won't add much height to the models. Unfortunately, that means they will also be a little hard to handle if you like to hold or move the models by the base.

These are going to be a nice alternative to the Reaper bases I have that are similar. They are a little less expensive than the lipped round bases from Reaper, so these are going to be a good alternative. I also like that these are available in smaller sizes than 25mm. That gives me a good option for single-basing 18mm, 15mm, and smaller models. The pill-shaped bases, especially, will be a nice option for basing 15mm cavalry and chariots, ships for Mare Nostrum, and some beasts and monsters in all scales.

You can find them on their website at the top of the post. They are also available through Amazon. This is an affiliate link, so if you purchase through Amazon after following this link, I get a small payment. It doesn't cost you anything extra, but it gives me some spare change.

Proxie Models on Amazon

More underworld mapping

I spent a bit of time testing the latest iteration of my underground direction table. I realized pretty quickly that I didn't like the hard 120-degree turns. So I'm going back to the table again.

As it stands, there is a 35% chance to go ahead, a 50% chance to turn, a 5% chance for a hard turn back, and a 10% chance to end. I'm going to drop the hard turns and increase the chance for the tunnel to continue ahead. So here's the new table:

d20 Tunnel direction
1-8 Continues straight ahead
9-13 60° turn left
14-18 60° turn right
19-20 Tunnel ends

So why bother with things like this? Why keep going over an arbitrary table that will really not have much use beyond this one particular task?

Mainly, because I like to fiddle with things like this. Figuring out how to work the percentages and adjust the odds on a table like this makes it easier to figure out the odds on other things. It is a good mental exercise, especially when I am having trouble working on more complex things.

In this particular case, it also takes some of the world design out of my hands and introduces a random element. I spend some time working out the percentages for different results and then let the dice give me the particulars. That keeps me from forcing too many things in the world design.

It also allows for some randomness that may spark my creativity in different ways. When I roll for things like this, the dice will probably create things or combinations I might not have thought of on my own. In this case, the table doesn't have many options, but the results it generates on the map will probably get me thinking about different aspects of the map. Just like mapping a river gives me ideas about settlements and movement on the map, these tunnels let me think about the same things underground.

Time to map some tunnels.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Mapping the mythic underworld

One of the advantages of being sick is that I have a bit of time to think about gaming bits that I can use whenever I can get a good schedule. These things need to be fairly small and/or modular so I can work on them for a short time and either finish them or leave them in a state where I can come back later. The biggest of these modular projects is developing more information about the world I was running for the Threshold games. I developed the overall terrain of the surface using a combination of tables from old Rolemaster and Judges Guild books.

One of the aspects of that was terrain severity, with a chance for underground entrances. I decided these would all be entries into a vast underground network of tunnels. Being the madman I am and having a lot of weird bits of spare time, I decided to map all of the primary tunnels from these entries.

To do that, I decided each entry would have 1-3 tunnels radiating from them. The tunnels all radiate from the center of the hex through the sides to the center of the next hex. I rolled a set of 4 six-sided dice for each entry hex.

One die was a different color. The result on that die (read as a d3), told me how many tunnels exited the hex.

The other dice told me where the tunnels went. My numbering scheme was:

1 Top
2 Top right
3 Bottom right
4 Bottom
5 Bottom left
6 Top left

I read the dice differently, depending on how many tunnels were exiting the hex.

If it was three tunnels, I read the values on all the dice and drew the tunnels appropriately. If there were doubles, I re-rolled one until I got a result different than the other two.

For two tunnels, I read either the two dice nearest the different-colored die. If two of the sides dice were the same value, I just used the two numbers that rolled. If they were all the same, I re-rolled one to get the second tunnel.

For one tunnel, I just read the die that was nearest the odd-colored die and drew the tunnel in the indicated direction.

I rolled all of these for the hexes with underground entrances before working on where the tunnels go. That took me several hours of rolling and drafting.

To determine the run of each tunnel, I want a random system that is simple but can develop some twists and turns on the way. I scoured a lot of my gaming books and didn’t come up with much to use as a start. Finally, I found this table on page 22 of the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide. It gives the direction of travel for a character attempting to move straight ahead in complete darkness without a guide:

Table 9: COURSE CHANGES IN DARKNESS
D12 Roll Character's Course Change
1-3 None, continue straight ahead
4-5 45 degrees right
6-7 45 degrees left
8 60 degrees right
9 60 degrees left
10 90 degrees right
11 90 degrees left
12 135 degrees (1-3 right, 4-6 left)

This is a good start, but I'm going to make some changes. I want the world to be honeycombed with tunnels, but I also want to have a reasonable chance of dead ends so that there are still hexes with no tunnels at all. Rather than substitute for another entry on the table, I changed the die to a d20, and tacked on a 20% chance for the tunnel to end.

The original table was designed for a square grid, and I’m working on hexes. So I needed to change the angles to account for the six versus eight directions. Since I'm using a hex map and keeping everything fixed to the middle of the hex, I only have four options for turns. The tunnel can turn 60 degrees to the right or left (ahead right or left) or 120 degrees to the right or left (behind right or left). I started by giving each turn ahead a 20% chance, and each turn behind a 5% chance.

That left a 30% chance for the tunnel to continue in the current direction. So this is the table I started with:

D20 Course Change
1-6 None, continue straight ahead
7-10 60 degrees right
11-14 60 degrees left
15 120 degrees right
16 120 degrees left
17-20 Dead end

After working with this table for a bit, I decided it was giving me far too many dead ends. There were few connections between the surface entrances. Also, it gave me an inordinate number of 120-degree turns. So I made a few adjustments.

I dropped the chance for a dead end to 10%. I also dropped the chance for a 120-degree turn to 5%. The direction for the turn will be determined after that result appears. I gave the chance to continue straight ahead as 35%. That left 50% to divide between turns ahead right and ahead left. So here is the current table I am using:

D20 Course Change
1-7 None, continue straight ahead
8-12 60-degree turn right
13-17 60-degree turn left
18 120-degree turn (Roll D6: 1-3 right, 4-6 left)
19-20 Dead end

I’ll let you know how this iteration works.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Dragon Lords and other minis

I have backed quite a few Kickstarters the past couple years, so I have to pay particular attention to make sure that I don't miss a survey or questionnaire about rewards. The second Dragon Lords Kickstarter from Mirliton was one of the ones I missed. Fortunately, I was still able to complete the survey and get my rewards.

For those that don't know, Mirliton currently has the rights to a lot of the old Grenadier models catalog of minis that were originally produced in the 70s and 80s. They have done two Kickstarters to get some of these minis back into circulation. They have focused on the old Dragon Lords series, keeping some of the art along with the name.

I backed both of them to replace quite a few of the models that I had decades ago and have lost along the way since. The two campaigns have also been a great thing for me in terms of shipping. Prior to the Kickstarters, I was reluctant to order direct from Mirliton, because I couldn't really justify the cost to ship a few minis from Italy. These campaigns let me get a lot of minis for a great price and save a bit on shipping as well. I also took advantage of the order to add a few blister packs from a sci-fi range as well.

When they arrived, the first thing I noticed is the bulging box. I ordered the Super Big Pack from the campaign, but I was still pleased to see this. Who doesn't want a bulging box of miniatures?

Bulging box of minis

Opening the box, I saw the invoice and a bunch of packing peanuts. As an aside, I have to say I have mixed thoughts about packing peanuts. I like the protection they give for the price, but I hate the styrofoam. I know there are biodegradable alternatives, and I wish more companies would make the switch.

Looking at the invoice, it looks like everything I ordered is there. Mirliton didn't break down what all is in the Super Big Pack, so I had to go to the Kickstarter page to confirm what was included under that title. Then, checklist in hand, I started unpacking. Here is the whole lot laid out:

Super Big Pack indeed!

Going back to the list from the KS website, this pack includes the following:

2004 Hireling Crew (10 figures)
2005 Fighting Men - The Warriors (10 figures)
2006 Specialists - The Skilled One (10 figures)
2007 Females - Children of Diana (10 figures)
5003 Woodland Adventurers (20 figures)
100 series Rangers blister (3 figures)
333 Iron Golem
2 Badders blisters (8 figures)
2 Elementals blisters (4 figures)
Integration blister (6 figures)
Battle Troll
Copper Dragon
Orcish Giant (bonus figure)

All together, 85 new old figures!

The 6 blisters of sci-fi miniatures give me another 30 miniatures that I can use for sci-fi skirmish games. They all come from the Cyberwars range.

The first box is the coveted Hirelings box. I have seen these on so many gaming tables and have always wanted a set. I haven't been willing to pay a huge price to get them from eBay, so these have been grail minis for me.

Hirelings box

Hirelings figures
The Hirelings contains a mix of porters and torch bearers: G-Pack Bearer, I-Chest, C-Spike Driver, H-Torch Bearer Halfling, E-Coffer Bearer, F-Chest Bearer, D-Carrying Body, A-Lantern Bearer, B-Potion Drinker, and J-Team Carrying Trunk. These types of models don't get issued very often anymore. Everything now is so focused on the PCs that hirelings and henchmen get left out. Often, the best figures you can find for the hirelings are villagers.

This particular mix covers most of the basic hireling activities providing light, carrying loot, and recovering the fallen. I love that most of them do not have weapons drawn. It reinforces that most hirelings are going to hide or cower at the first sign of danger.

(I apologize for the glare in the photos. I don't have my light box yet, and I haven't been able to get good shots that aren't too dark or too bright. I'll be taking more pics of these models as I paint them. I should have the light box by then.)

Next up is the Fighting Men:

Fighting Men box

Fighting Men figures
This box contains the following figures: A-Spearman, H- Halberdier, E-Axeman, D-Greatsword, F-Archer, J-Crossbowman, G-Poleaxe, C-Charging Swordsman, B-Battleaxe, and I-Kicking Warrior.

I have a particular fondness for this set for one simple reason - its name. Fighting Men always takes me back to the original edition of D&D, before warrior characters were called Fighters. Simple nostalgia, but something that gives me a smile.

The other things to note with this set are the variety of weapons and the introduction of a two-part model. The crossbowman is one of the first models I can recall requiring a bit of construction. Most of the models at the time were one-part models. Often that resulted in some blockiness and weird areas on the models that needed to be hidden by painting deep shadows.

The third set here is the Specialists:

Specialists box

Specialists figures
This box covers the D&D subclasses. It contains J-Cleric Communing, F-Illusionist with Familiar, E-Stele, A-Paladin, H-Ninja, C-Druid, I-Bard with Lute, G-Assassin, B-Monk, and D-Ranger.

This set shows something that was fairly common in sets of figures back in the day. If there weren't enough sculpts to round out a set or if the manufacturer wanted to reinforce a particular theme, you would get an accessory or bit of furniture along with the figures. This set includes the stele and a cleric to round out to ten models. The Hirelings above included a chest for a similar reason.

The ninja is another odd little bit about this set. At the time these models were originally released, there was a particular fascination with ninja. The ninja was one of the first subclasses to appear in Dragon magazine, along with most of the subclasses represented here. They wouldn't be included in an official rulebook until Oriental Adventures was released, but ninja had appearances in many campaigns before that book.

The Children of Diana female figures are next:

Females Children of Diana box

Females figures
This set contains ten figures as well: H-Dwarven Fighter, A-Bard, B-Enchantress, I-Fighter, E- Amazon, C-Ranger, F-Thief, D-Druid with Puma, G-Paladin, and J-Cleric.

These are interesting for being some of the earliest female figures and because most of them are wearing practical armor. The druid and the thief are the only models that have skimpy clothes. The fighter's helmet (hat?) is a marvel of engineering, but you can't have everything.

Finally, the last boxed set, the Woodland Adventurers set:

Woodland Adventurers box

Woodland Adventurers figures


This is a big set of twenty miniatures: A-Female Elf Ranger, B-Chest Bearer, C-Enchanter, D- Gnome King with Throne, E-Halfling Scouts, F-Pot-bellied Cleric, S-Elf Charging, G-Elven High Lord, H-Dwarf Spearman, I-Gnome Guard, (J-Gnome Axeman), Q-Bard, L-Elf Bowman, (M-Dwarf Archer),  (T-Gnome Swordsman), N-Ranger, O-Elf Spearman, P-Halfling Sniper,  K- Elf Ranger, R-Ranger Tracking. Unfortunately, my set was missing the figures in parentheses and had figures from the smaller sets included instead - the halfling torch bearer from Hirelings, the ninja from Specialists, and the amazon from Females. I've contacted Mirliton to get the figures that should be in the set, and I'll report back on how that goes.

(2/1/2020: Mirliton was very quick to replace the miniatures. Once I contacted them, they sent an email to confirm which models were missing and had them in the post the next day. Less than two weeks later, the miniatures arrived in my mailbox. Kudos to Mirliton for being very quick to respond and send the replacements.)

This set has about all the figures you would need for a party of adventurers and several henchmen. This set also has a couple of specialized figures that I really like. The halfling scouts are two halfings, with one boosting the other on their shoulders. The gnome king is seated on a throne hollowed from a tree and has a lot of character as well. These probably wouldn't see much use at the gaming table, but they're a couple of nice display figures.

Next up are the blisters. I apologize that I haven't opened them so you can see the contents better. I want to make sure I keep the right models with each blister card until I can get them painted and cataloged.

The first blister is the rangers:

Rangers blister
This is a set of three ranger figures from the "100" series of Fantasy Lords. They are some of the earliest figures in the range. Included here are a ranger with a bow, a ranger with a short sword drawn, and one leaning on a spear. I especially like the one leaning. You don't often see figures at rest anymore.

Next is the Iron Golem:

Iron Golem
This is a large model. With knees and hips bent, it stands twice as tall as a regular fighter miniature. I like the size and the heavy riveted construction. This model only needs a simple paint job, but it is going to be a lot of fun shading all the bits of its armor.

After the Iron Golem, we've got the Badders. There are two blisters of these:

Badders blisters
These models were sculpted as part of the Gamma World range. There are seven sculpts of anthropomorphic badgers designed to be used as mutated animals in GW. It doesn't look like they have any modern or futuristic equipment, so these will probably be a good addition to all the other anthropomorphic animals I have.

The Orcish Giant is next:

Orcish Giant
This model was released in the first Dragon Lords Kickstarter. It was given as a special model for this package for this campaign. I need to dig up my other one so I can decide whether to paint them the same or different. Size-wise, this model stands about twice as tall as a standard human fighter, so it's pretty massive. With the scale creep of modern figures, especially Reaper models, it is barely larger than some current basic orc figures.

Now we've come to the Elementals:

Elementals blisters
These models were produced by Grenadier before the Dragon Lords line. One blister has the earth and fire elementals and a brazier on a pedestal. The other blister has the air and water elementals with a shallow brazier. These are great smaller elemental miniatures, and I can definitely see them getting use as lesser elementals. They make a nice contrast to the giant elemental figures that are otherwise available.

The next blister is a collection of alternate miniatures that were in the boxed sets at different times.

Alternate figures blister
I'm looking forward to getting into this blister alongside the sculpts that are included in the boxed sets. Unfortunately, I can already see one or two miniatures with bent parts. Back in the day, these bits would easily snap from being bent back into shape. I'm hoping the pewter these are made of is flexible enough to bend back into shape and strong enough not to snap. We'll see.

The Battle Troll is one of the earlier figures that Grenadier made.

Battle Troll
This figure is armored from head to toe and carries a huge axe. I'm not sure exactly how I want to use it, but it will see some use. I just have to decide if I want it to represent a troll, an ogre, or something else.

Finally, this wouldn't be a Dragon Lords set without at least one dragon. The one included in this set is a Copper Dragon:

Copper Dragon
This is a great reminder that we used to be able to fit dragons in blister packs. This one looks like it has three pieces - the body and separate wings. Overall, the model is about 4" long, so tiny compared to most modern dragon miniatures.

That's it for the Dragon Lords, but it's quite a good collection of miniatures. Between this group and the models released in the first Kickstarter in 2018, there are about 200 of the old sculpts that are available again. Quite a feat when you think about it.

These models are all cast in white metal, so they are much more rigid than the originals. I haven't noticed any particularly difficult mold lines. The casting is clean, without a lot of flash. I also haven't seen any shifted or misaligned moldings.

The detail on these varies, but most of them have simpler details than more modern figures. I see this as a great advantage. It is much easier to paint these than more modern figs. One downside to it, though, is that there is not necessarily enough detail on faces to really give the figures character.

I decided to take advantage of the combined shipping and threw in a half dozen blisters from the Cyberwars line as well. These will be great to use for post-apocalyptic skirmish games. I'll show these off more when I start painting them. For now, here are the blisters:

Bike Gang and Future Females
Future Savages and Scavengers
Rebels

Monday, January 13, 2020

New year, new focus

It's been quite a while since I posted anything of substance here. I intended to bring things back to life here over the last couple years. Unfortunately, a few chronic health conditions resurged with a vengeance. The combination of pain and fatigue has kept me mostly focused just on work and the basics. I haven't done much in the way of gaming or miniatures, so I haven't felt a real urge to post here. Since it looks like the symptoms aren't going to subside any time soon, I'm going to try to write through them. I have quite a few ideas for posts, and writing will hopefully get my mind off of some of the medical stuff.

Just so everyone knows and I don't have to field a lot of questions, I am dealing with a combination of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, narcolepsy with cataplexy, and either chronic Epstein-Barr or Sjogren's syndrome.

The CPTSD makes me hypervigilant and irritable. The hypervigilance means that I am constantly in a state of heightened awareness. My brain treats everything around me as a potential threat, which makes me both anxious and jumpy. I also have a low noise tolerance, which means I am irritated by any loud noises and some particular noises regardless of their volume. At work, I keep the door of my office closed as much as possible to mitigate some of this. At home, I have headphones or earbuds with music on most of the time. Otherwise, I wear a noise dampening headset like people wear when shooting, use earplugs, or use a white noise machine. When I am watching TV, I use Bluetooth earbuds or turn the volume up on the TV to block out other noise. I use a white noise machine when I sleep.

Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue go hand-in-hand. Some doctors consider them to be the same condition, diagnosing one or the other depending on whether pain or fatigue is more significant. Since I seem to be winning the symptom lottery, I have both in equal measure.

Fibromyalgia causes chronic pain in the muscles and connective tissues. On a regular pain scale, I normally rate around 4-5 out of 10. I am constantly aware of my pain, and it is often distracting. I have occasional days where my pain gets into the 7-8 range.

Aside from pain, my fibro makes me hypersensitive sometimes. The feel of certain fabrics or materials is particularly abrasive so it feels like sandpaper on my skin. In some cases, clothes simply hurt to wear. Same thing with bedclothes - sheets and blankets feel alternately heavy or abrasive. I am also sensitive to strong smells and perfumes most of the time. These cause me to get flushed and can cause a rash if they're strong enough.

I also get periods of "fibro fog" where I will forget things, have trouble with word finding, and seem a little disoriented or flaky. I can go into a room and forget why I went there. I can forget that I am in the middle of a task, and I can forget regular activities without reminders. I rely on post-it notes a lot! I also have reminders on my phone for a lot of things like taking my medications.

My chronic fatigue has been increasing over the last couple years. That is probably related to something other than my regular fibromyalgia fatigue. My fibro fatigue makes me feel tired, but also weak. I have trouble lifting anything heavy and get slight tremors throughout my body. Sometimes I think I've felt a small earthquake only to find that it was just my larger muscles all shaking at once.

The narcolepsy has a few symptoms, but nothing severe other than sleep interruption. I can fall asleep anytime and anywhere within a couple of minutes. My normal sleep latency (time from lying down to falling asleep) is around four minutes. I enter dream sleep very quickly after going to sleep and tend to stay in dream sleep a lot longer than neurotypicals. That means that I get significantly less restorative deep sleep. I have a sleep cycle (time between periods of shallow sleep) of about an hour. The longest cycle I've had recorded in my sleep studies was just over two hours. All of this contributes to me being drowsy most of the time and my body taking longer to heal.

If I am left alone in a dark room with no distracting sound, I can sleep for at least 22 hours. In all of my sleep studies, the technicians have had to rouse me in the morning, because I slept past all of the testing periods. I was still able to go to sleep every two hours after the overnight studies.

Cataplexy is a loss of muscle tone and responsiveness in response to some emotional extreme. During an episode, I remain totally aware but typically cannot move or speak. People have wondered if I had a stroke when they have seen me have an episode. My trigger for this is normally high stress and "fight or flight" situations. Unanticipated loud, sharp noises, like firecrackers or gunshots, are especially significant.

And to round things off, I have either a chronic Epstein-Barr condition or Sjogren's syndrome. Whichever it is, it considerably magnifies the fatigue from the fibro. It also causes additional aching, which is a different kind of pain to my normal fibro pain. If you've ever had mononucleosis, that's what it's like. This has been active for just short of two years.

To manage all of these, I take around 30 pills a day. The medications normally control most of the symptoms, but I have regular days where I can't function for more than a couple of hours.

That's what has been keeping me occupied the last couple years. I'm hoping to be able to do more of my hobbies this year. It all depends on how my various conditions are acting and how much energy I have to devote to everything else outside of work. Work is my first priority, partly because I really enjoy what I do and partly because I really need the insurance. After that comes basic self-care. Then comes all of my hobbies.

Long-winded explanation done, here's some of what I want to accomplish this year.

1. Get back to some regular gaming, even if it is only a couple hours here and there.

2. Develop more of my game world. I have a lot of ideas; I just need to commit them to paper (bits?).

3. Paint some miniatures. I have a lead, pewter, and plastic mountain that would terrify weaker people. Time to start moving more of it to the painted side.

4. Read more. I'm part way into the Wheel of Time series, and I want to finish that. I also want to read more of the Appendix N and related stories.

5. Regardless of everything else, blog more. Even if I post infrequently, I want to get more posts up this year. Likewise, I want to start keeping up on other blogs more than I have. Since the demise of Google+, I've lost regular contact with a lot of the online gaming people I used to follow and interact with.

There's my new year's post. Sorry for it going so long. If you made it this far, I hope we all have a better year in 2020.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Bookbinding resources

A few people on MeWe were discussing repairing and rebinding old gaming books and materials. I mentioned some of that work that I've done in the past, so I was asked to give some of the sources I used to get started.

I'm going to start with some caveats. First, I am definitely not a professional binder. I do it in my spare time to either repair books in my collection, to combine ratty copies of books into big omnibus volumes, to bind copies of things I have in PDF but not physical form, or to make notebooks and sketchbooks.

Second, many of the online resources I had bookmarked have vanished. Not too surprising, given the transience of things online. Still, if you find something you really like and will likely need to reference in the future, the best bet is to download it or print it. It won't necessarily be there when you get back.

Third, there are a LOT more resources available. I haven't bookmarked them because I often do a new search whenever I'm trying to do something new. These are the references I have gone back to repeatedly or ones that I was able to find with some dedicated searching.

Before anything else, go read this blog post with tips for beginning book binders. I wish this had existed and I had read it before I started binding. It would have saved me some headache and heartache along the way. I definitely just bookmarked it to come back to and print later.

The first thing I researched for my use was repairing the binding and spine on a book. The following sites helped immensely with that and other repair tasks. The first deals specifically with the binding. The second was produced by Dartmouth University Library and covers all manner of book repairs.

How to Repair a Book's Binding
A Simple Book Repair Manual

After doing a few repairs, I stepped up to single sheet binding. I used this to bind a few things I had from graduate school. I also used it to bind my omnibus of the Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monster Manual, Deities and Demigods, Fiend Folio, and Monster Manual II. The first link is one that I've had stored in my bookmarks. The other link I had for case binding is gone, but the second link here is as good or better than what I started with.

Single Sheet Bookbinding
iBookbinding Case Binding Tutorial

Next I started looking at different binding types. The first link below talks about a few different binding styles without getting into too much depth. There are a variety of different stitching, boarding, and decorating styles that binders use. My favorite is spineless or coverless Coptic binding. It produces a nice decorative spine with just the pages, especially if you use a contrasting thread. It's also fairly simple to do once you get the hang of it.

Self-Publishing Basics: 5 Book Binding Styles Illustrated
Coptic Stitch Bookbinding Tutorial
Create a Stunning Combination Coptic Long-stitch Archival Book

Finally, here are a few companies that I have looked at for equipment and supplies. You can get most of the simpler equipment from a craft or art supply store. I recommend getting a sturdy bone folder, a paper awl, a good set of needles, and a sharp pair of scissors. Only use the scissors and needles for binding. Paper is notorious for dulling scissors, so make sure you keep your thread scissors away from paper unless you have a scissor sharpener.

For larger equipment, you will either need to buy it or build it. The first link is to a site that shows a simple bookbinding jig. The second is to a set of plans and instructions for building a lying press, punching cradle, and sewing frame. I've been using a cradle made from these plans for a few years now. The third is to a company that makes bookbinding equipment. I haven't purchased any of their equipment, but it looks good on the site. Caveat emptor.

How to Build a DIY Bookbinding Jig
Making Simple Bookbinding Equipment
Affordable Binding Equipment

Finally, here are a few resources for materials. I have used Hollander's for most of my materials. I buy tape and things I need quickly from Art Supply Warehouse, because it's close to home. The link is to a search for "bookbinding" on their site. Hollinger Metal Edge has a good selection of general bookbinding supplies, including some archival-quality products if you really need to preserve what you're binding. The link is to their "Book and Document Repair" section. You might want to take a look at the "Book Jacket Covers..." and "Book, Document, and Paper Storage" sections as well. There are plenty of other companies, especially for fancy papers to use as endpapers and cloth to use for covers. Experiment and let me know what really works for you.

Hollander’s
Art Supply Warehouse
Hollinger Metal Edge – archival products

If people are interested, I can try to dig up the pictures I took while I was making the AD&D Omnibus. Drop me a comment and let me know if I should post them.