Tuesday, 30 May 2017

A love of reading

A vast majority of the posts on this blog are related to games and gaming. This post, however, will buck the trend; I want to write about a love of reading.

Books are a wonder. Unknowing and not counting the passing of minutes and hours, reading books can ensnare us, tangle us in other places, times, worlds and imaginings. They can take us on emotional journeys. They can make us laugh, cry, get so angry we have to put the book down only to pick it up again moments later. They can get us so excited our eyes leap from sentence to sentence, racing to see where the action leads. They are a way to experience, a key to knowledge, a challenge to our preconceptions, a teacher of wisdom and language and expression.

Some of my fondest memories from my youth are of me rolled up in my blankets reading Tolkien, Eddings, Feist, Asimov and others, while the silent and dark Earth rolled through the night. I don't read as much as I used to, and it is something I want to get back into the habit of, but I have an undying love of it still, and will, I think, always.

I am lucky enough to have three wonderful children I get to read to, although our evening routine is sometimes just a chaotic and exhausting struggle to make sure they are fed, bathed and in bed. I also have a day job that lets me express my love of learning and reading the (unlucky) kids in my class.

Reading aloud is always something I have enjoyed. Putting expression and emphasis into description, using voices and whispering and thundering the dialog where required appeals to my overwrought sense of drama.

Teaching, as I do, 8-9 year olds, allows for a certain amount of class time dedicated to a class book. I have my favourite books to read, and every year the children in my class will no doubt get to hear of the bravery of Mrs Frisby, the daring of Harry Potter, and the exploits of Mr Fox. Every year I also try and find some new book or three they might also enjoy. The last few years have introduced the kids and myself to Artemis Fowl, A Wrinkle in Time, Alex Rider and many others, and no doubt a few of these will become regulars in years to come.

Every year it's interesting to see the responses of the kids. A few years ago I had a class that would applaud after every reading (unprompted I assure you), this year my class will borrow as many copies of the same book as they can find and sit in little huddles following on as we read.

At the moment we are reading Little House in the Big Wood, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I, in a terrible Southern American accent (wrong accent no doubt, but recognisably American at least), and finding myself drawn through the window into a beautifully sketched world remarkably different to our own. The kids have been horrified at a deer being butchered, disgusted by the making of cheese, fascinated by the making of bullets or of little Laura playing with her corn husk doll. In short, it is a fascinating book, remarkably approachable given the span of time, and one I am enjoying a lot. I cannot think of any book I have read that has given the kids more insight into the past than this one, nor one where they have had so many questions. I thoroughly recommend it, though it is obviously also a product of its time (itself a point for discussion).

 Reading is a wonderful thing, and I hope that some of the kids that walk away from my class do so having lost the conception that 'reading is not for them'. To my mind, it is just a matter of finding the right book...

(I should note - all the pictures I put on my white board are usually my poorly executed facsimiles of an image I liked from the web)

Tuesday, 23 May 2017


It has been a little while since my last post, April was a quiet month on the blog, and I only barely managed to hit my minimum of two posts a month - May has followed in kind. Really I should be posting at least once a week, but I haven’t managed it the last month or so, hopefully the coming months will be more productive as far as the blog is concerned.

I have been doing other things though, I have a collection of 15mm Gauls that need to be painted and based ready for use with the Sword and Spear rules, I have been recording episodes of the On Minis Games podcast with Quinton of the Room Full of Resin blog, and I have been getting a few things written for Modiphius.

A practice with a spare Gaul and some black undercoat. I wasn't happy with the result, so I'll be using white undercoat on these.

The last is what has occupied me the most, with the Infinity RPG near to its publication date, I have been busy writing a couple of things for the Adventures in the Human Sphere book, some cards for the decks that come with the Kickstarter, and planning out a few things I’ll be writing for Wave 2. It’s very exciting to see the core book take shape. With the layout, art and styling all done, it is looking really sharp, and a huge tip of the hat to Justin and all the other boffins at Modiphius who have been toiling relentlessly to get it together. I'm proud to have been a small part of the exercise.

In addition to this, I have been writing a few adventures and proposals for the Star Trek RPG, and likewise, this project is very exciting. I'm sure veterans of the industry find it common place, but it is rather enjoyable to think that things you have written are off for approval with CBS, or with Corvus Belli in the case of Infinity, or 343 Industries in the case of my work a few years ago on Halo: Fleet Battles.

Lastly, I managed to get in a first playtest game of Fallout: Wasteland Warfare, and I am very impressed so far. It gave a very enjoyable experience, and I think the system contains a lot of potential for really narrative and interesting game play. I can’t say too much, but we will (if all things go to plan) be recording an interview with Chris Birch (he of Modiphius), to talk more about Fallout, Star Trek and Siege of the Citadel (as well as anything else we might get derailed by). So keep an eye out for that shortly!