Sunday, 8 July 2018

Satan Wanted Us So Badly, It's A Wonder I'm Here To Type This Today...

I spend my working hours plugged into documentaries and podcasts covering all types of subject, and yesterday I was tuned into a paranormal podcast which was discussing the 'Satanic Panic' of the 80s. which I remember all too well.

Now, as well as the worry that heavy rock music was tempting teens into worshipping Satan, some of you will recall that Dungeons & Dragons came clearly into the firing line of the Religious Right spearheaded by the wonderfully named Tipper Gore.

Even here in Sheffield, UK, there was a flurry of anti-D&D sentiment with the local press echoing the worries of the Church Of England that sweet teens like me would be drawn into a life in which they became Satan's minions. Of course because I was into Iron Maiden et al, I was doubly doomed.

Forget the fact that I was way more literate than my peers as a result of the time I spent with my nose in books, no, I was going to hell and had a first class ticket.

Bu**er!

Anyway, I've covered all that previously in my first book, but it did get me into a conversation on a social media site, which led to me taking a fresh look at the controversy that surrounded what is in reality an innocent pastime.

In 1982 Irving Pulling of Virginia, USA, committed suicide, not in itself of particular note, however Irving was a member of a high school D&D group, and his mother Patricia was to become infamous for what came to pass in the wake of her son's death.

Driven by the Satanic Panic and being an anti-occult campaigner, Patricia Pulling filed a lawsuit against the principal of the school on the grounds that as the D&D group met at school, and as Irving was the victim (Pulling claimed) of a D&D curse placed upon him prior to his death, the principal was directly responsible.

This led to the founding of 'Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons' or 'BADD' which sought to 'educate' on the dangers of Dungeons & Dragons.

Pulling even produced a pamphlet which strangely enough looks like many of the fanzines of the day...



Patricia then filed what was to become an infamous lawsuit against TSR and Gary Gygax, which was finally thrown out by the courts in 1984, after a prolonged battle. However, it was also demonstrated during the proceedings by none other than Michael A Stackpole, that contrary to the grief driven claims of Pulling, there were lower instances of suicide amongst gamers than non-gamers.

Pulling succumbed to cancer in 1997, and despite her continuous campaigning right up until her death, BADD pretty much faded away.

An excellent in-depth article named 'The Pulling Report' was compiled by Stackpole in 1990 and can be found here:

http://www.rpgstudies.net/stackpole/pulling_report.html

At over 40 pages, it's worth a read, if you are interested in the history of our hobby.

There were many such claims made against gamers in the 80s, and more often than not, BADD, which punched way above it's weight in the minds of the conservative small towns of the Southern United States, was in the eye of the hurricane...

The Miami Herald ran this article in October of 1985:


'PARENTS SEE A REAL CONFLICT IN FANTASY WAR GAMES GROUP LINKS DUNGEONS & DRAGONS TO 51 TEEN-AGE SUICIDES

On the afternoon of June 9, 1982, Irving Lee "Bink" Pulling II completed his final examinations at Patrick Henry High School and wrote on the test sheet, "This is the last paper I will ever write, GOODBYE."

That evening, outside his parents' home in Montpelier, Bink, 16, shot himself in the chest with his father's pistol.

Patricia Pulling, Bink's mother, is convinced that his suicide resulted from a "curse" put on him in school earlier that day while he was playing the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons. He was so distraught over the curse, she said, that he killed himself.

Pulling and her husband, Lee, have spent the last three years fighting to have Dungeons & Dragons removed from schools, which sometimes permit it as an extracurricular activity, and to force the manufacturer, TSR Inc. of Lake Geneva, Wis., to put warning labels on Dungeons & Dragons materials.

"We've never asked for the game to be banned from the market," Lee Pulling said. "We want warning labels."

A TSR official said that the game is harmless fun and that warning labels are unneeded.

"What's the warning going to say?" said Deiter Sturm, TSR public relations director. "Are you going to put a warning label on automobiles, saying, 'This automobile is for transportation use only, not meant to be a weapon or means of suicide?' Anything we have in life can be misused, be it games, TV, sports, anything that we have."

Bothered about D&D

After her son's death, Patricia Pulling organized BADD -- Bothered About D&D -- whose newsletter now goes out to 2,000 concerned parents and others who oppose Dungeons & Dragons. BADD says it has linked Dungeons & Dragons to 51 suicides and killings involving young people since 1979.

The research, however, is unscientific, consisting mainly of Patricia Pulling's interviews with police and parents in cases brought to her attention by newspapers and television. She and her husband want the federal government to investigate the deaths to determine if Dungeons & Dragons was a cause.

Dungeons & Dragons is a game of the imagination. Dice are used, but there is no board, as there is in Monopoly or backgammon. It is set in medieval times, based loosely on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the trilogy Lord of the Rings and other fantasy works.

Pulling's group and other opponents of Dungeons & Dragons object to its emphasis on violence.

"Dungeons & Dragons is essentially a worship of violence," said Dr. Thomas Radecki of Champaign, Ill., a psychiatrist and chairman of the National Coalition on Television Violence in Washington, D.C.

"It's a very intense war game. Talk to people that have played it. It's very fascinating. It's a game of fun. But when you have fun with murder, that's dangerous. When you make a game out of war, that's harmful. The game is full of human sacrifice, eating babies, drinking blood, rape, murder of every variety, curses of insanity. It's just a very violent game."

Radecki's organization is trying to convince CBS to take its Saturday morning cartoon show Dungeons & Dragons off the air.

Dungeons & Dragons has been controversial almost from its inception, but controversy has only spurred its popularity and growth. TSR's Sturm said in a telephone interview that three to four million people play the game and that many other role- playing fantasy games have appeared since TSR founder Gary Gygax created Dungeons & Dragons in 1973.

Initially, Dungeons & Dragons was played mostly by college students. But the trend in recent years has been toward high school and junior high players. TSR has simplified the instructions to reach the younger market.

Bright players

Because the game is complicated and requires a vivid imagination, Dungeons & Dragons always has attracted bright young people. Bink Pulling was in a program for the talented and gifted at his high school.

In a number of cases, Patricia Pulling said, the connection between the game and the death is clear.

Deiter Sturm said TSR investigates when BADD attributes a death to Dungeons & Dragons.

"We always find there were many, many different factors involved in that person's life," Sturm said. "We haven't yet, out of all the names, seen one shred of evidence to indicate the game was the cause" of a death.

The mother of one suicide victim said Dungeons & Dragons "is a dangerous game for some young people. It was a dangerous game for my son."

But the woman, who did not want to be quoted by name, said her son had other problems. Some of the criticism of the game "is a little misguided," she said.

That is the view of some others as well.

Easy explanation?

"Dungeons & Dragons has been one of those things that people grab onto to explain suicidal death among young people," said Julie Perlman, executive officer of the American Association of Suicidology. "And I feel it is unwarranted."

She said that in 1982, the last year for which statistics are available, there were 5,025 suicides reported among people aged 15 to 24. Perlman said she believes many more suicides went unreported.

"Everybody wants an answer that explains it easily," she said. ". . . I just see that Dungeons & Dragons is an easy answer. It's not that simple."

Beth Grant-DeRoos of Dublin, Calif., is director of the Association for Gifted-Creative Children. She said her organization, with a membership of 7,200 families in California, views Dungeons & Dragons as a positive force that encourages children to exercise their imaginations and use their minds.

"Eighty-six percent of our families have children who play Dungeons & Dragons," she said.

Out of schools

Several school systems have removed Dungeons & Dragons as an extracurricular activity since the controversy arose. The Arlington, Va., school board banned the game shortly after the Pullings filed their first lawsuit against the principal of their son's school.

TSR's Sturm said many parents oppose Dungeons & Dragons "because they have to find something to place the blame on to relieve their personal guilt.'


And, if you think that was bad, take a look at this from the Omaha World-Herald of November 1984, where police speculated that there was a D&D connection following the deaths of a pair of brothers in Colorado.

Chief Of Police, Larry Stallcup was quoted thus:


"We aren't sure at this point whether we have a double suicide or a suicide/homicide,"

The police chief said [Dungeons & Dragons] appeals to very intelligent people, who use their imagination to manipulate characters and work through a series of mazes to achieve treasures and avoid falling into the dungeon.

"My undertstanding [sic] is that once you reach a certain point where you are the master, your only way out is death," Stallcup said.

"That way no one can beat you."

D&D was everywhere from colouring books, and 'Letraset', to boxes of cereals. There was even an animated series which had me running home from school every week to watch the latest adventures, and try to work out whether the producers were following the rules. And before you ask, yes, I have the whole thing on DVD. It seemed that Satan's influences were everywhere:






And, how many pubescent gamers 'rolled their D20s' to ads like this?



It's plain to see that we were all certainly going to hell with such explicit advertising...

We were screwed!

Some of you will no doubt recall that TSR (the original owners of D&D) experimented with a (truly awful and very unsuccessful) line of toys based on the game in the 80s...




Not to be outdone, the 'Defender's Of The Faith' hit back with their own toy lines. Praise Unlimited Inc, a Florida manufacturer of Christian toys, deliberately aimed their lines to counter the evil products spewing forth from TSR:




How TSR and we the gaming public trembled!

The Miami Herald, that bastion of anti-gaming fervor profiled the the company in December, 1984 thus:


'WOMEN PUT CHRISTIAN MESSAGE IN TOYS

Cute, cuddly dolls with names like Joy and Faith and an action toy called Judah the Christian Soldier could some day replace "the devil's toys," say two North Carolina women.

"We feel that this is a ministry," Dana McNeal said, displaying toys she believes answer the biblical call in Proverbs 22:6 to "Train up a child in the way he should go."

McNeal and Linda Campbell market dolls, games and other items in North Carolina for Praise Unlimited Inc., a Sarasota, Fla., company specializing in "Christian toys." Campbell and McNeal describe themselves not as distributors, but as "toy missionaries."

"We feel we were called into this ministry, led by the Lord," McNeal said. "The reason there's a need for Christian toys is because of the toys that are on the current world secular market."

McNeal dismissed with a wave of her hand dolls such as Darth Vader from the film Star Wars and the shadowy men and monsters from Dungeons and Dragons.

"We call them the devil's toys," she said.

McNeal said she hopes parents will give their children alternatives -- perhaps a 116-piece Noah's Ark or an action toy named Judah the Christian Soldier.

Another Praise Unlimited toy is a child-sized suit of "the armor of God" described in Ephesians 6:11 as the proper gear to "stand against the wiles of the devil," she said. Accessories include the Helmet of Salvation, the Belt of Truth, the Shield of Faith and the Breastplate of Righteousness.

There also are the Praise Dolls -- Joy, Faith, Hope and Love. They tell their religious messages in song, activated by a child's hug.

"God is so good. God is so good. God is good and good to me," sings Joy, a 21-inch doll with blond hair and a dress decorated with descending doves representing the Holy Spirit.

Campbell and McNeal, who have worked together since March, said the dolls' messages are the antithesis of what's going under many Christmas trees.

"A lot of toys on the secular world market illustrate violence, competition and sensuality,' McNeal said.

She said a recent U.S News and World Report said sales of military board games, guns and violent video games have increased 200 percent in the past two years. But her strongest criticism was for Dungeons and Dragons, a board game that prompted reports of youngsters identifying too closely with the subterranean knights and sorcerers they control on cardboard.

"We're trying to make people aware of what children are playing with and the effect on them," McNeal said.'

And the 'evils of D&D' were making it to the TV screens. Rona Jaffe a writer of somewhat dreary romantic fiction scored a hit when she wrote 'Mazes & Monsters' a truly awful story which, was turned into a 1982 'for T.V' film starring the young Tom Hanks.





I have that book, and I have watched the film, but fear that to do so again may cause brain damage.

The story was based very, VERY loosely on the life and death of one James Dallas Egbert III, who was something of a child genius, who by 16 was studying computer sciences at Michigan State University.

He could not take the pressure and was a drug addict who tried three times to indulge in self harm. The first time he took to the steam tunnels of the university, took a handful quaaludes (hypnotic-sedatives) and failed to kill himself .

He tried twice more to end his life and finally managed to fail his saving throw vs. shotgun in his apartment on August 16th 1980.

At the time it was thought that the fact that Egbert played D&D, was a contributing factor, hence that bloody awful book and film.

(You will note that this pre-dates BADD)

And so on and so forth...

As you can see, this really was taken very seriously at the time. I guess that today's teenagers with their almost constant supply of paranormal, sci-fi and fantasy media would laugh if we 'Oldies' tried to tell them how we were at one time 'Christianity's Most Wanted'. My, how times change...

Or do they?

A new rallying of the so called 'Religious Right' in the U.S is starting to stir these same old prejudices, despite the fact that so many of the games now are as pure as angel piss, when compared to the old stuff. I fully expect that at some stage we'll see a troubled child, stymied in their ability to express who they are by the button-down society we seem to be becoming, do something which see them harm themselves or others. Then, when the distraught parents, clear out the child's things and find a fictional work containing 'demons' or 'spells' they will seek a way to exonerate themselves, and lash out at the producers and players of games.

We will become hunted members of a 'Global Satanic Cult' and the wraith of Patricia A Pulling will rise again.

Let's all take out our copies of Deities & Demigods and pray to whatever power we wish, that this does not come to pass.

Now, if you will excuse me I need to find my dice and some paper, and do some serious Satan worshipping...


TTFN
It's been a while since our fortnightly gaming group got together, and as I'd purchased all those RPGs this week, it seemed a good idea to reconvene in a relaxed atmosphere and start to roll up some characters

Well, we had a fun night last night, rolling up Golden Heroes characters.

Kayte ended up with a 7 foot character who is super agile, can go invisible and has a cybernetic flight unit and criminal connections.

Alison ended up with a hard as nails criminally connected death machine.

Andy has a cybernetic brain, tough skin and is a chemistry genius with super powered sidekick.

Dave ended up with a bloody tycoon Industrialist, with amazing toughness and a bank balance which means he never carries cash.

I rolled up a deliberately non-superpowered character, who is totally average across the board, but has high level government contacts. He will be known as Stupendously Average Man (SAM) will be there as an NPC plot device.

The rationalisation and back story were frameworked, and it looks as if the disused Alcatraz, now belongs to a shady industrialist tycoon.


This is going to be fun!


And, we had cheese and pineapple on sticks too, for a truly retro night!

Saturday, 7 July 2018

When Tormentor Becomes Saviour (Not For The First Time)

When I was but a small Limpet, I fastened myself regularly (usually daily in fact) to one of the two sales counters in Games Workshop (back when it was a true gold mine of gaming goodness sandwiched between Hagenbachs and Cantors - very useful if you were shopping for games, sandwiches and a little occasional table for the living room, at age 13) drawing the attention of the staff who were fierce creatures capable of destroying the young in one or two words or with a look. I recall that an eyebrow was once raised at a less hardy mollusc, and they vanished in a small sulphurous cloud.

In short, it was a hard, hard place and one which to this day, I'd trade two days of my life to be able to spend a day in again, just to experience it.

It always seemed to smell of ground coffee and Poly S acrylics, and on a grey Wednesday afternoon in early Autumn it was indescribably comfortable to just browse all of the wondrous products.

Perhaps the only place these days, that can match those early GW stores is Spirit Games in Burton-Upon-Trent.

Anyway, as I started to find my feet, I became a regular target for the two guys who ran the figure bar; the late Pete 'Stretch' Armstrong (he hated being called Stretch) and Chris Gilbride. Now, Pete was a tough cookie, with a sarcasm level which went off the scale, but you could praise his awesome paint jobs and soften him down a bit.

Chris on the other hand was intellectually and verbally a different bak game. He was quieter and a lot more surgical with his incisive comments. Jesus, if he got you in his sights, you got reamed. Worse, if Chris got you, and Pete was riding shotgun, or Pete was on his back foot and Chris came to his aid, you just wanted to curl up and die in a corner.

Naturally, because I was a royal pain in the collective rectum, I got both barrels on a reasonably regular basis. I spent a lot of nights, curled up sobbing and praying for death.

It was great!

No, really... Look, I was not by nature a gregarious boy. I was chatty when I felt comfortable, but if you confronted me, I went very quiet and sullen. Chris and Pete with their merciless attacks (in later years, rechristened the Armstrong-Gilbride Method {TM}) taught me to stand up for myself without recourse to physical means. They also made me realise that it was OK to be me. True, I was still a geek, but I learned to hold my own with other geeks. (It didn't stop me getting arrested for assault when I was 15 for dealing with a kid two years older who thought I'd be a pushover, but it gave me that confidence to confront something I'd have run from until GW came to Sheffield).

I must point out that a couple of times I was saved from a verbal mauling in the den of these lion of sarcasm, by Lisa Brook, who probably prevented me suffering the fate of the kid I mentioned at the start.

The majority of people I gamed with and went to shows with were 10 years or more, older than me, and the verbal jousting skills, picked up in the GW tilt yard meant that they treated me as something more than an annoying kid. Thus I learned about periods that interested me, travelled the UK and spent weekends in strange towns, getting a gaming education, with the 'Big Boys'.

The only thing I never actually got to do was game with Pete and Chris in their own campaigns, because I was too cool for that *cough* and they couldn't take the *cough* competition. *choke*

It was only as I got older that I understood how I'd grown and benefitted from the 'counter of death', and my respect for Chris and Pete grew. It's a funny old world.

Anyway, Chris has helped me out in the last few years with obscure rule sets and the like and also has helped me deal with confronting my own ghosts at times. He is a sensible and dryly funny bloke, and any kid would be lucky to have a dad like him, I can tell you.

As you know, the week, I've been busy tracking down a few games I wanted to visit and re-visit, and once again, Chris has helped me out by agreeing to sell me his Paranoia collection. For me this is not only great from the point of view of having all I need to play, but it has that direct connection, almost talismanic to the years which I think of as 'The Rise Of The Limpet'.




For that reason those who knew me back then and who know the reasons why I am such a retro-freak, will understand just what a great thing this is for me. I'm counting the days until the box arrives, packed to the gills with memories and atmosphere** as well as some Golden Heroes stuff.

Thanks Chris!


TTFN


** On the subject of atmosphere, I gave a pack of 1983 TSR Commandoes to wife to open this week, in an attempt to give her that buzz we got, back in the day. When she remarked that the blister contained 35 year old genuine, geek air, I grabbed it and inhaled deeply. I spent the afternoon at my desk, feeling sick... DON'T TRY AND COPY THIS - You need stupendous Limpet powers like me -and even then it was nearly fatal.


Friday, 6 July 2018

Middle Age As A Gateway Drug To Hardcore 'Class A' Gaming

I realised the other day - not for the first time- that I am not getting any younger.

With just 5 weeks until I hit my half-century, I thought I'd go back through my 40 years of gaming and look at some of the games I'd missed out on playing, ignored or just simply snubbed, out of a sense of youthful arrogance.

The one thing I did raise in doings so, and upon reflection, was that my peers were a pretty staid and boring bunch when it came to gaming. Nice chaps for the most part, but so many of them played a single or maybe two systems, at a time when there were so many games you could all own half a dozen different systems and be pretty certain that you'd get a game.

Now, some of my friends, such as Roger and Leccy were as addicted as I to all forms of gaming. Hell, if it involved dice, figures and a tape measure, we were 'up for it'. Darren, was also pretty game for a game, but the majority were either historical gamers of the old school, D&D or Runequest players, who might, might, tackle the odd board game.

This meant that I ended up with a 6 foot pile of rules systems next to my bed by the time I was 15 and very few of them actually got played because of those miserable bastards.

Twilight 2000 had a good following at the wargames club, so we did get a few sessions in before people drifted away, unable to see the possibilities for a 'real world' setting. Ring world made a good attempt, but the pace of the game and detail killed it off, but not before Darren lost his pet hamster in the game, to the surly Kzin, played by Togs Bamford whose inventive use of the food processing unit on his flycycle was a benchmark in gaming as far as I am concerned. And Darren a vegetarian in real life... TUT!

Anyway, I realised last weekend that I really miss White Dwarf (yes I do have them all in electronic format but it's just not the same), Star Frontiers; would rather like to try Golden Heroes again and after reading a few old books on RPGs from the era, fancied Commando and Gangster. There's a hankering for Gamma World too - God forgive me!

6 days later, and I have located and purchased two sets of White Dwarf 1-100. I won't go any higher because they are piss poor beyond that point, and are well and truly GW catalogues and nothing more. Hell, it was pretty shaky in the top of the 90-somethings, but 100's a good round number.

I bought about 30 copies from an eBay seller who listed them as sold as seen... Alas having seen them today, they are going back. I line my budgie cage with better paper - honestly. There'll be a bit of a skirmish but I'm pretty confident that I'll get a refund in the end.

On the subject of the games listed, I have managed to get Gangster (tatty on the box but for £2?), Command (looks untouched at £6) and Star Frontiers and Knight Hawks for £26 (fair even in reasonable condition).

And then, because you always decide you want something else (well, I do) I was reminiscing about Games Of Liverpool, a truly fantastic shop in it's day that blew even an old style GW out of the water, when I recalled the cellars full of Grenadier boxed sets, with their evocative covers and Andrew Chernak sculpts. Uh oh...

Well I remembered the Secret Agents & Spies sets which comprised two 12 figure boxes. One was spies and agents of various types and the other was mercenaries and command types. All of them were wonderfully attired in that late 70s to early 80s, action movie style. I never bought them because frankly I never thought I need them and besides, I had a lot of Platoon 20 models back then, also purchased from Games for the most part.

Well, you know how this is going to end up... I bought a set of the agents and two boxes of the Mercenaries on eBay, complete with original boxes and al the equipment sprues.

This means that I am now going to have to run Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes or Top Secret , this leading to another mini spending spree, but that's OK, because it's now or never I think.

I guess, I'll also need to buy a set of Imagine and Sorcerer's Apprentice magazines won't I? And what about Car Wars?

And to cap it off, I also want to play Paranoia. One of the worst sessions of any game I ever endured was when Darren ran Paranoia 'by the book' and I went through characters faster than girlfriends, that week. It was hell, and thus I really need to revisit it and become reacquainted with it.

Oh dear! Am I starting to froth? I fear I am...


TTFN


PS: I have also now realised that I need Lords Of Creation and Star Ace... DAMN!

Sunday, 1 July 2018

The Beginning Of The End?

I collect games and miniatures as many of you know.

I am always willing to pay a fair price for something I want, as are many others. However, I have noticed that there are prices being asked all over the place which are not only high, but almost bloody criminal, without recourse to any due diligence or scruples on the part of those asking them.

In my opinion, some of the highest prices for supposedly rare lead on eBay. are being asked by Cougarrinard, Goldfishblue, Hygienic Porridge and Melgil, but there are others too. Where and how do they come up with their asking prices? Perhaps they undertake naked midnight vigils at the grave of Gary Gygax, but I think they just invoke the Gordon Gekko principle and hope for the best.

Now, look, you can argue that demand guides the asking price, but when they are buying at pennies and selling at many times the price to several decimal points in many cases, it's falsely inflating the market.

And now that they have hoovered up the majority of figures out there, there is a dearth of old miniatures, and everybody who owns a model dated pre-1989 is declaring it 'rare', 'sought after' and I think I read on one advert 'hand polished on a unicorn's vagina'. It's getting out of hand quite frankly, and I can't wait for the day that they all find out that there's nothing more to be snapped up, and go off and find the next nostalgia trip for them to milk, as they surely will.

So, how can we address it?

Perhaps collectors should agree a code of conduct for the duration of the conflict, with similar calculations?

Sellers should not be allowed to get away with 'rare' in a description without justifying why the epithet is used. Call them out and if they get shirty, tell them and every other collector you know that you will not deal with that seller.

We shouldn't forget that these are not crown jewels or precious metals, nor are they Magna Carta or the writings of Julius Caesar. They are toy soldiers and printed paper which have been handled by sweaty fingered youths over the last 4 decades, usually quite clumsily and without recourse to good hygiene.

Take away the money from the resellers and sooner or later a few of them will see the error of their ways.

I will state for the record that I don't expect vintage stuff in good condition to be lower than original asking price, but I have personally set a limit of 'For 'X' I am willing to pay 'Y' times original price, where Y has a numerical value between 2 and 5.

Look at the Demogorgon furore when 'Stranger Things' hit the screens a couple of years ago, with every type of chicanery being used to sell models described as 'rare', 'top' and 'vintage' with many of those models being modern reissues produced by Mirliton, in new alloys and at a frankly eye searing mark up.

Pure bloody madness!

Look, fellow collectors, it's not about who can afford the prices (hell, I can, but i won't on principle) it's about keeping some form of integrity which will allow those who come after us to enjoy the things we enjoyed. When you die, those models might be sold for a decent price, but in most cases they won't. You won't be in a position to care, admittedly, but it's time we stopped acting like Thatcherite Yuppies at bonus time.

I could rant some more, but I'll save it for another time as it's a nice sunny Sunday and I want to enjoy it before e bed time.

All I ask is that you just stop and think about the true value of your toy soldiers and used books.


TTFN

WANTED:

I am looking for the following:

White Dwarf 1-99 - Will pay £500

Gamma World RPG collection - Will negotiate price based on what you have.

Golden Heroes based set, Queen Victoria & The Holy Grail, Legacy Of Eagles and the Supervisors Kit for which I will pay £70-£100

Paranoia RPG collection (NOT the modern version by Mongoose)

Any 70s and 80s starship models

Encounter 2 sic-fi boarding action rules


Drop me a line at mhys09133ATblueyonderDOTcoDOTuk  if you have them.


TTFN




Getting The Wardrobe Ready For The Autumn Convention Season

Well, as I am having to be patient as I wait for my 28mm ECW to arrive from the painter, and as I am planning for the Autumnal campaigning season, it seems like the perfect time to continue with my raising of the sartorial standard at shows.

To this end I have purchased a few items that will, I feel bring a touch of elegance and style to the hazy days of gold and brown.

First up were a couple of casual 'weekend' shirts, one in a nice crisp cotton with blue and white stripes and the other a rather racier cotton flannel in a rather fetching gold and burgundy country check. They are from Samuel Windsor who make the most excellent moleskins, shoes and casual shirts. I've not tried their formal shirting, because frankly I am something of a snob in that regard  and  prefer T.M Lewin for my French cuffed formal shirts, which I'd generally not wear to a convention.




Now, I know we traditionally see a lot of waistcoats at conventions, but these have in most cases (and there are some excellently tailored exceptions, like a chap at Vapnartak this year who was sporting a rather wonderful moleskin number) have been of the cheapish hippy variety or just poorly worn with a T-shirt or other such unsuitable under-attire which looks awful. As a youth I did this and know I know the pain it causes to a more sensitive sartorial sensibilities.

Anyway, I decided that whilst it's nice to have a 3-pice suit which allows for the waistcoat to be detached as a solo piece, I wanted a bit more variety. You'll have seen the rather nice number I was sporting for Partizan, well I was so impressed I tracked down a couple more by the same chaps.

One is a very sober, dark blue tweed whilst the other is a wool flannel in charcoal great with a very nice ochre and burgundy check.



And then on Friday, it was a last minute dash to my tailors (Ted Williams of London Road Sheffield - Look them up) to collect my newly finished 3 piece Donegal tweeds which are a lot lighter and probably softer than my Yorkshire tweed suit they delivered at the back end of last year.

Some nice details such as the lapelled waistcoat and buttonhole together with a more contemporary cut which retains the classic turn-up on the trousers, make this a very pleasing suit to look at.


The swapping of the waistcoat for the blue tweed one above gives this suit a lot of possibilities and the addition of a pink paisley pocket square and a T.M Lewin white shirt with pink and blue check and French cuffs will really make it pop.

And so there you have it, my campaign for better dressed wargamers continues apace.

Now if only this damned hot spell would come to an end...

TTFN

Friday, 29 June 2018

EXCLUSIVE: Hudson & Allen Studios Products return to the U.K

Hudson & Allen Studios have produced some of the finest 28mm buildings I have ever seen, and their castles are the benchmark for all others.

They are made from a high density foam compound which is very light and very rugged. It holds detail superbly and so you can get some really excellent models out of it.

Previously, Old Glory carried the range in the U.K and then they disappeared.

I can now exclusively reveal that Conflict In Colour are to begin importing them for the UK and European market with the first stocks due to arrive in late Summer.



They will be carrying good stocks but certain products may need to to be back ordered.

Drop Conflict In Colour a line via their website at http://www.conflictincolour.com.


TTFN

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Of tiny churches and imaginary characters

Well, it's been another very busy week for-wise, which is great of course as it pays my mortgage and stuff like that.

Allan at Lancashire Games has taken delivery of my first 900 or so Perry Miniatures  and I'll be sending more in the very near future, which, are already paid for of course.

It's worth noting that Lancashire have a 15% off everything sale until the end of June, including painting which means I made a considerable saving and explains why I paid in advance for past 2 of my Marston Moor project. I am not a poor man (and I am mindfully grateful to the powers that be) but if I can get more bang for my buck, I'll do so.

Allans 25mm painter is a guy I trust, which coming from such a fickle fellow professional with my background, I think it speaks volumes.

On Thursday of this week, Dave Bodley at Grand Manner delivered the rather wonderful church from his medieval range, replete with boundary walls, wicket gates, village cross and fully sculpted graveyard.

At £212.00 plus shipping this is not a model for frugally minded or shoestring gamer, but it's a massive and superb model which will look superb on our 14x6 table once the log cabin is built, here at Fackham Hall.



As they say, you get what you pay for, and I'm very much into doing it the right way, with the right budget. You either go big or go home... Or to put it bluntly, get your hand in your wallet, or piss off!

Even when we were kids, Roger and I were mixing with the 'big boys' of the hobby such as Ian Smith, Mick Rothenburg and in Roger's case, Peter Gilder (may Gygax bless his soul). We absorbed by cultural osmosis the old way of doing things - you know, 'proper' armies.


Today I went over to the 'Philosopher's Dome' Harry Potter convention in Buxton, taking my Death Eater costume for it's last outing.



It was a fun day but the attendees were for the most part a reserved bunch. By 1PM my arthritis was giving me hell and so, we wobbled off to have a rather nice lunch in Buxton,and thence a leisurely drive homewards, stopping in at Waitrose  for some avocados and port. On the way, I gifted the robes and tunic to a new custodian, in the shape of my son-in-law.

I've just commissioned a new set of robes which are being crafted over in Maryland, U.S by the talented 'Magic Needle Creations' based on this outfit, made by the same talented lady:



I'm in no rush as my main focus at present is the completion of my 28mm Marston Moor armies and terrain. I'll pay for it, and when it arrives, it arrives. Besides, good things always take time.

And that's about it for this week. May you all get more games, buy more toys and have more fun!


TTFN




Wednesday, 20 June 2018

The great Marston Moor project is going well after 3 days...
Even without Roger's input yet, (and he will, oh yes, he will, because he shares the same megalomanic tendencies as I) the plan which came from his Mephistophelean mind is steaming ahead, an like unstoppable buff coated cavalry charge, led by a geezer from the Rhine.

 The progress so far:

1. 19KG of Perry metals have been purchased and sent to Lancashire Games, who are my chosen painters.

2. I have commissioned the painting of all of Rupert's horse and foot as well as started on Newcastle's horse for the Royalist side. That's a lot of toys there..;
3. On the Parliament side I have commissioned the entire Eastern Association and all of the Northern Association apart from 1 combined foot regiment.

This leaves for the Royalists:
The remainder of Newcastle's army 
The York Garrison . 

For Parliament:
The Covenanters 
The one outstanding unit of the N.A.

Not bad at all, although I confess that my wallet is in palliative care at present!

It's all being done in Perry metals so no plastic rubbish, and the painting is scheduled to begin, I am informed, from next week.

Thursday will see the delivery of the stunning church model made by Grand Manner. It's a joint purchase with my good lady and whilst it cost an eye-watering £212.00 for the unpainted model, it's a real centrepiece will look superb on the 20 or so terrain boards we have by Adrian's Walls.




Saturday, I am off to the Philosophers Dome, Harry Potter themed convention over in Buxton, the first time I've taken the Death Eater costume out since October of 2017, when I was really unenthusiastic; so much so that I went home early and threw the whole £1800 costume in various cupboards.

Yesterday, I washed all of the robes, pressed them, replaced the Horcrux pendant I lost (it arrived this  morning) and managed to grab two tickets.

We'll se how it goes. The costume has always been very well received at Potter specific conventions. If I have a good time, I'll keep the costume, but if I have a bad time, then I am retiring from the scene and selling the costume...





TTFN

Saturday, 16 June 2018

An oldie, but one worth a re-visit...

I originally wrote this almost 4 years ago, but as I was looking at my assorted books on the subject this afternoon, I thought it may be fun to repost it, for my newer readers:



I spend my working hours plugged into documentaries and podcasts covering all types of subject, and yesterday I was tuned into a paranormal podcast which was discussing the 'Satanic Panic' of the 80s. which I remember all too well.

Now, as well as the worry that heavy rock music was tempting teens into worshipping Satan, some of you will recall that Dungeons & Dragons came clearly into the firing line of the Religious Right spearheaded by the wonderfully named Tipper Gore.

Even here in Sheffield, UK, there was a flurry of anti-D&D sentiment with the local press echoing the worries of the Church Of England that sweet teens like me would be drawn into a life in which they became Satan's minions. Of course because I was into Iron Maiden et al, I was doubly doomed.

Forget the fact that I was way more literate than my peers as a result of the time I spent with my nose in books, no, I was going to hell and had a first class ticket.

Bu**er!

Anyway, I've covered all that previously in my first book, but it did get me into a conversation on a social media site, which led to me taking a fresh look at the controversy that surrounded what is in reality an innocent pastime.

In 1982 Irving Pulling of Virginia, USA, committed suicide, not in itself of particular note, however Irving was a member of a high school D&D group, and his mother Patricia was to become infamous for what came to pass in the wake of her son's death.

Driven by the Satanic Panic and being an anti-occult campaigner, Patricia Pulling filed a lawsuit against the principal of the school on the grounds that as the D&D group met at school, and as Irving was the victim (Pulling claimed) of a D&D curse placed upon him prior to his death, the principal was directly responsible.

This led to the founding of 'Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons' or 'BADD' which sought to 'educate' on the dangers of Dungeons & Dragons.

Pulling even produced a pamphlet which strangely enough looks like many of the fanzines of the day...


Patricia then filed  what was to become an infamous lawsuit against TSR and Gary Gygax, which was finally thrown out by the courts in 1984, after a prolonged battle. However, it was also demonstrated during the proceedings by none other than Michael A Stackpole, that contrary to the grief driven claims of Pulling, there were lower instances of suicide amongst gamers than non-gamers.

Pulling succumbed to cancer in 1997, and despite her continuous campaigning right up until her death, BADD pretty much faded away.

An excellent in-depth article named 'The Pulling Report' was compiled by Stackpole in 1990 and can be found here:

http://www.rpgstudies.net/stackpole/pulling_report.html

At over 40 pages, it's worth a read, if you are interested in the history of our hobby.

There were many such claims made against gamers in the 80s, and more often than not, BADD, which punched way above it's weight in the minds of the conservative small towns of the Southern United States, was in the eye of the hurricane...

The Miami Herald ran this article in October of 1985:


'PARENTS SEE A REAL CONFLICT IN FANTASY WAR GAMES GROUP LINKS DUNGEONS & DRAGONS TO 51 TEEN-AGE SUICIDES


On the afternoon of June 9, 1982, Irving Lee "Bink" Pulling II completed his final examinations at Patrick Henry High School and wrote on the test sheet, "This is the last paper I will ever write, GOODBYE."

That evening, outside his parents' home in Montpelier, Bink, 16, shot himself in the chest with his father's pistol.

Patricia Pulling, Bink's mother, is convinced that his suicide resulted from a "curse" put on him in school earlier that day while he was playing the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons. He was so distraught over the curse, she said, that he killed himself.

Pulling and her husband, Lee, have spent the last three years fighting to have Dungeons & Dragons removed from schools, which sometimes permit it as an extracurricular activity, and to force the manufacturer, TSR Inc. of Lake Geneva, Wis., to put warning labels on Dungeons & Dragons materials.

"We've never asked for the game to be banned from the market," Lee Pulling said. "We want warning labels."

A TSR official said that the game is harmless fun and that warning labels are unneeded.

"What's the warning going to say?" said Deiter Sturm, TSR public relations director. "Are you going to put a warning label on automobiles, saying, 'This automobile is for transportation use only, not meant to be a weapon or means of suicide?' Anything we have in life can be misused, be it games, TV, sports, anything that we have."

Bothered about D&D

After her son's death, Patricia Pulling organized BADD -- Bothered About D&D -- whose newsletter now goes out to 2,000 concerned parents and others who oppose Dungeons & Dragons. BADD says it has linked Dungeons & Dragons to 51 suicides and killings involving young people since 1979.

The research, however, is unscientific, consisting mainly of Patricia Pulling's interviews with police and parents in cases brought to her attention by newspapers and television. She and her husband want the federal government to investigate the deaths to determine if Dungeons & Dragons was a cause.

Dungeons & Dragons is a game of the imagination. Dice are used, but there is no board, as there is in Monopoly or backgammon. It is set in medieval times, based loosely on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the trilogy Lord of the Rings and other fantasy works.

Pulling's group and other opponents of Dungeons & Dragons object to its emphasis on violence.

"Dungeons & Dragons is essentially a worship of violence," said Dr. Thomas Radecki of Champaign, Ill., a psychiatrist and chairman of the National Coalition on Television Violence in Washington, D.C.

"It's a very intense war game. Talk to people that have played it. It's very fascinating. It's a game of fun. But when you have fun with murder, that's dangerous. When you make a game out of war, that's harmful. The game is full of human sacrifice, eating babies, drinking blood, rape, murder of every variety, curses of insanity. It's just a very violent game."

Radecki's organization is trying to convince CBS to take its Saturday morning cartoon show Dungeons & Dragons off the air.

Dungeons & Dragons has been controversial almost from its inception, but controversy has only spurred its popularity and growth. TSR's Sturm said in a telephone interview that three to four million people play the game and that many other role- playing fantasy games have appeared since TSR founder Gary Gygax created Dungeons & Dragons in 1973.

Initially, Dungeons & Dragons was played mostly by college students. But the trend in recent years has been toward high school and junior high players. TSR has simplified the instructions to reach the younger market.

Bright players

Because the game is complicated and requires a vivid imagination, Dungeons & Dragons always has attracted bright young people. Bink Pulling was in a program for the talented and gifted at his high school.

In a number of cases, Patricia Pulling said, the connection between the game and the death is clear.

Deiter Sturm said TSR investigates when BADD attributes a death to Dungeons & Dragons.

"We always find there were many, many different factors involved in that person's life," Sturm said. "We haven't yet, out of all the names, seen one shred of evidence to indicate the game was the cause" of a death.

The mother of one suicide victim said Dungeons & Dragons "is a dangerous game for some young people. It was a dangerous game for my son."

But the woman, who did not want to be quoted by name, said her son had other problems. Some of the criticism of the game "is a little misguided," she said.

That is the view of some others as well.

Easy explanation?

"Dungeons & Dragons has been one of those things that people grab onto to explain suicidal death among young people," said Julie Perlman, executive officer of the American Association of Suicidology. "And I feel it is unwarranted."

She said that in 1982, the last year for which statistics are available, there were 5,025 suicides reported among people aged 15 to 24. Perlman said she believes many more suicides went unreported.

"Everybody wants an answer that explains it easily," she said. ". . . I just see that Dungeons & Dragons is an easy answer. It's not that simple."

Beth Grant-DeRoos of Dublin, Calif., is director of the Association for Gifted-Creative Children. She said her organization, with a membership of 7,200 families in California, views Dungeons & Dragons as a positive force that encourages children to exercise their imaginations and use their minds.

"Eighty-six percent of our families have children who play Dungeons & Dragons," she said.

Out of schools

Several school systems have removed Dungeons & Dragons as an extracurricular activity since the controversy arose. The Arlington, Va., school board banned the game shortly after the Pullings filed their first lawsuit against the principal of their son's school.

TSR's Sturm said many parents oppose Dungeons & Dragons "because they have to find something to place the blame on to relieve their personal guilt.'


And, if you think that was bad, take a look at this from the Omaha World-Herald of November 1984, where police speculated that there was a D&D connection following the deaths of a pair of brothers in Colorado.

Chief Of Police, Larry Stallcup was quoted thus:


"We aren't sure at this point whether we have a double suicide or a suicide/homicide," 

The police chief said [Dungeons & Dragons] appeals to very intelligent people, who use their imagination to manipulate characters and work through a series of mazes to achieve treasures and avoid falling into the dungeon.

"My undertstanding [sic] is that once you reach a certain point where you are the master, your only way out is death," Stallcup said.

"That way no one can beat you."

D&D was everywhere from colouring books, and 'Letraset', to boxes of cereals. There was even an animated series which had me running home from school every week to watch the latest adventures, and try to work out whether the producers were following the rules. And before you ask, yes, I have the whole thing on DVD. It seemed that Satan's influences were everywhere:




And, how many pubescent gamers 'rolled their D20s' to ads like this?


It's plain to see that we were all certainly going to hell with such explicit advertising...

We were screwed!

Some of you will no doubt recall that TSR (the original owners of D&D) experimented with a (truly awful and very unsuccessful) line of toys based on the game in the 80s...



Not to be outdone, the 'Defender's Of The Faith' hit back with their own toy lines. Praise Unlimited Inc, a Florida manufacturer of Christian toys, deliberately aimed their lines to counter the evil products spewing forth from TSR:




The Miami Herald, that bastion of anti-gaming fervor profiled the the company in December, 1984 thus:


'WOMEN PUT CHRISTIAN MESSAGE IN TOYS


Cute, cuddly dolls with names like Joy and Faith and an action toy called Judah the Christian Soldier could some day replace "the devil's toys," say two North Carolina women.

"We feel that this is a ministry," Dana McNeal said, displaying toys she believes answer the biblical call in Proverbs 22:6 to "Train up a child in the way he should go."

McNeal and Linda Campbell market dolls, games and other items in North Carolina for Praise Unlimited Inc., a Sarasota, Fla., company specializing in "Christian toys." Campbell and McNeal describe themselves not as distributors, but as "toy missionaries."

"We feel we were called into this ministry, led by the Lord," McNeal said. "The reason there's a need for Christian toys is because of the toys that are on the current world secular market."

McNeal dismissed with a wave of her hand dolls such as Darth Vader from the film Star Wars and the shadowy men and monsters from Dungeons and Dragons.

"We call them the devil's toys," she said.

McNeal said she hopes parents will give their children alternatives -- perhaps a 116-piece Noah's Ark or an action toy named Judah the Christian Soldier.

Another Praise Unlimited toy is a child-sized suit of "the armor of God" described in Ephesians 6:11 as the proper gear to "stand against the wiles of the devil," she said. Accessories include the Helmet of Salvation, the Belt of Truth, the Shield of Faith and the Breastplate of Righteousness.

There also are the Praise Dolls -- Joy, Faith, Hope and Love. They tell their religious messages in song, activated by a child's hug.

"God is so good. God is so good. God is good and good to me," sings Joy, a 21-inch doll with blond hair and a dress decorated with descending doves representing the Holy Spirit.

Campbell and McNeal, who have worked together since March, said the dolls' messages are the antithesis of what's going under many Christmas trees.

"A lot of toys on the secular world market illustrate violence, competition and sensuality,' McNeal said.

She said a recent U.S News and World Report said sales of military board games, guns and violent video games have increased 200 percent in the past two years. But her strongest criticism was for Dungeons and Dragons, a board game that prompted reports of youngsters identifying too closely with the subterranean knights and sorcerers they control on cardboard.

"We're trying to make people aware of what children are playing with and the effect on them," McNeal said.'

And the 'evils of D&D' were making it to the TV screens. Rona Jaffe a writer of somewhat dreary romantic fiction scored a hit when she wrote 'Mazes & Monsters' a truly awful story which, was turned into a 1982 'for T.V' film starring the young Tom Hanks.



I have that book, and I have watched the film, but fear that to do so again may cause brain damage.

The story was based very, VERY loosely on the life and death of one James Dallas Egbert III, who was something of a child genius, who by 16 was studying computer sciences at Michigan State University.

He could not take the pressure and was a drug addict who tried three times to indulge in self harm. The first time he took to the steam tunnels of the university, took a handful quaaludes (hypnotic-sedatives) and  failed to kill himself .

He tried twice more to end his life and finally managed to fail his saving throw vs. shotgun in his apartment on August 16th 1980.

At the time it was thought that the fact that Egbert played D&D, was a contributing factor, hence that bloody awful book and film.

(You will note that this pre-dates BADD)

And so on and so forth...

As you can see, this really was taken very seriously at the time. I guess that today's teenagers with their almost constant supply of paranormal, sci-fi and fantasy media would laugh if we 'Oldies' tried to tell them how we were at one time 'Christianity's Most Wanted'. My, how times change...

Or do they?

A new rallying of the so called 'Religious Right' in the U.S is starting to stir these same old prejudices, despite the fact that so many of the games now are as pure as angel piss, when compared to the old stuff. I fully expect that at some stage we'll see a troubled child, stymied in their ability to express who they are by the button-down society we seem to be becoming, do something which see them harm themselves or others. Then, when the distraught parents, clear out the child's things and find a fictional work containing 'demons' or 'spells' they will seek a way to exonerate themselves, and lash out at the producers and players of games.

We will become hunted members of a 'Global Satanic Cult' and the wraith of Patricia A Pulling will rise again.

Let's all take out our copies of Deities & Demigods and pray to whatever power we wish, that this does not come to pass.

Now, if you will excuse me I need to find my dice and some paper, and do some serious Satan worshipping...


TTFN