Caracan and 2000 words in under two hours

Over on the blog for The Ion Age I published a little story about Caracan the Strider; a light mecha used in the Patrol Angis game system in 15mm scale.  I write a lot of fiction and non-fiction but on this occasion I decided to set myself a challenge in that I would try and create 2000 words of fiction in less than two hours with only five minutes of editing afterwards and then straight to publish.  I just managed it and the article went live half a day later.  Responses have been kind and nice and sure I made a couple of mistakes but all in all it worked.   Have a look and enjoy if you like science fiction with a military leaning.

Writing Two Thousand Words in Two Hours…How?

So.  You might be thinking how do I write a story of 2000 words in 120 minutes.  Well there is no magic formula really.  From my point of view I have and do write a lot so my typing speed is faster than typical.  It helps I use a wired full size keyboard as smaller boards and wireless can pose problems and slow you.  I am a great believer in the motto of ‘just start’ as it works.  When you try this just begin with one sentence which sums up what you are going to write about.  Such as ‘This mecha, what is it, who is its pilot and where are they fighting’.  Then drop a few lines, I use open office mainly in single page view, and type in salient points of the story you are now thinking of.  So any action or dialogue or description you intend to hang the story on.  It could be the opening or last line for example.  By this time you are five minutes in and have the skeleton of a two thousand word tale.

Now.  Do not stop.  Type typing and ignore everything else if you can.  Take your salient points and begin to build on them with paragraphs.  Name your characters and identify places.  Ignore the beep of the phone, the call from mates and such (if you are on fire then put it out of course!) and carry on.  Frankly I am ignoring Messenger and Whatsapp right now!   By the time you are an hour in you should have nearly a thousand words and a story that would work if left as it is.  It would be somewhat vapid and missing elements but it exists.  Now take a minute and read it back.

The second hour is the power hour.  You are in the zone now and you are burning up the virtual paper.  Now is the time for the main focus of the tale to take place, focus on the action scene or the central trunk which readers will remember.  Get it done and then jump back and expand upon the beginning then hop to the end and write it out and then expand it.  Two hours goes fast.  You should now have your story…

Pompous eh?  What am I like.  A fast thinking, fast typing, veteran scribbler telling you it is this easy.  Well it ain’t easy and I got there with seconds to spare.  It is perfectly fine to try for 1000 words or for three hours when you begin and I recommend you try and do an exercise of 500 words several times if you are very new to this.   If you manage to craft a tale then you deserve some applause as many people simply never do it.

I began with books like the one above and they are well worth reading.  I will end on this notion.  Begin with the End clearly in Mind.  It makes all the difference.

GBS

Farewell Alien Squad Leader

On the seventeen of March 2017 Alternative Armies is ending its association with Alex Self the author of Alien Squad Leader. During the years in which we have represented Alien Squad Leader we have enjoyed a good relationship with the author but now both parties feel it is time to move on. From the 17th of this month we will no longer stock or sell the Alien Squad Leader book (now in an electronic format) and all pre-packed armies for the game.
We wish Alex Self every success in the future with his projects. For any further information on the game system please go to the Alien Squad Leader groups on Yahoo and on Facebook.
Personally I just want to say that Alex and I part on working terms as friends.  We have just changed and grown apart.  The fantastic game that is Alien Squad Leader will carry on I am sure.
GBS

A Decade of 15mm now returned to Alternative Armies

The merger of 15mmcouk back into its originator parent Alternative Armies is complete meaning that the cart is closed and all the products are now on their new pages on the much larger Alternative Armies website. I would like to thank you all for a great decade and for supporting my idea to boost that scale.

A decade that saw us become a leader in the booming expansion of 15mm scale tabletop gaming along with bringing a number of great game titles to market such as USEME and to restore Laserburn to its rightful classic status. Thousands of miniatures across Historical, Fantasy and Science Fiction lines usable with any 15mm game system and we think now four times larger than its beginning size.

This is our final blog article and all of the 15mm scale news will now be delivered on the Alternative Armies network of email, social media and its blog which you should now follow if you liked what we did and will do. If you visit the Alternative Armies website you will be prompted to join the Mailchimp email list which we would like you to do since we will continue to have 15mm releases across many ranges such as HOT, HOF, Altuos and more. Our own mailing list for 15mmcouk will slow and cease.

So as well as saying farewell this article is here to give you a list of all the of new sections of the Alternative Armies website which were our 15mm ranges. Click on each of them to visit them from here. A handy list indeed which you can see HERE.

GBS

15mm.co.uk will merge into Alternative Armies this month

About ten years ago Alternative Armies decided to separate off its 15mm ranges and to place them in their own website. In our strategic review we have decided to bring all the ranges that make up 15mm.co.uk back to Alternative Armies. They will be placed in their own new sections of the Alternative Armies website and gradually removed from 15mm.co.uk. The process will continue until all the ranges are taken across and then we will shut down 15mm.co.uk. Both of these websites are part of the same great company and the fulfilment of orders and contact with customers will continue as normal. The email address sales@15mm.co.uk will not be deactivated and we will send out messages during the process inviting Tabletop Gamers to join the Alternative Armies community and mail list if they have not already done so.

You will have noticed that the Alternative Armies website has a new look and is now even roomier. This is purposeful for the planned merger and features a new headline list of pages called ’15mm Ranges’. We ask you to support us over the coming weeks of this merger and we will be happy to answer any questions you have. Contact us on sales@alternative-armies.com. We took this decision for many reasons including the maintenance time in multiple large websites, the commonality of customers across them and also our plans for the scales of 15mm and 28mm which we have for this and coming years. We know this is a surprise but all will be well and we are the same great people you already know and all of the miniatures, game systems and more you are familiar with will continue on. The team that runs both websites will continue as it is with one much larger website.

You can continue to order from 15mm.co.uk as the ranges migrate across and if a range has migrated it will be on its own new section of Alternative Armies with a link.

We will keep you informed of progress. We have have some great new products and rule systems coming in 2017. We began with 5024 Escape from the Dark Czar a new beginners set for Flintloque and we will soon have new 15mm miniatures to show and a rule set too…

Thanks for Reading.

GBS

(I placed this here as I know some of you look to this blog before others.  Exciting times!)

Asked for a new way into Flintloque…delivered!

This week my latest project was breathed to life and appeared on the Alternative Armies website.  A new beginners entry into Flintloque the Skirmish 3rd edition.  I had been asked many times across last year by wargamers ‘how do I get into this excellent setting!’.  After a long bit of thinking and an idea to try out some new concepts I came up with 5024 Escape from the Dark Czar.  A complete beginners set with booklet, miniatures, bases and dice.  You can see it on the website from Friday 27th January.

The booklet itself is twenty pages and builds upon the Witchlands campaign setting begun by Mike Roberts and the core engine of 3rd edition worked up by Mike White. An introduction to the campaign followed by character profiles and then the core rules of play after which are three small scenarios for use with the miniatures and then two pre-filled rosters; one for each side.  It is an excellent looking tightly packed booklet featuring the artwork of my good friend Edward Jackson on its cover and in its inner pages.

Sam Croes the lead designer at Alternative Armies came up with the ideas for the miniatures in the set.  We decided to produce the ten miniatures in resin and importantly in bulk allowing us to keep the price down on this introduction for wargamers.  However it is not likely I will commission more resin infantry for Flintloque as it is a white metal range, which I love, and this was an experiment after all.  We will stick to using resin to keep the weight down and price of things like Trolka and Cavalry Mounts.  That said they are fantastic figures indeed.  Full of character touches.  The Ogre is my favourite.

I also took this chance to collate the massive folder of free files which exist for Flintloque and Slaughterloo and in the process create a mighty stack now online for download for free.  See the same page on the website for the download link.  It is some 95mb in size and represents some four years work on my own and others part.

I hope that you enjoy this new beginners set.  I had a lot of fun writing it and playtesting it last autumn.

On other topics.  I do not update this blog all that often.  I just do not have the time down to my work, my family and so on. There are only so many hours in the day. So I have a plan for this year…it will come in stages and start soon.

GBS

Welcome to 2017!

New beginnings, fresh starts, reaffirmations of love and promises for a brighter future all come to mind for a New Year.  We resolve to get in shape, lose weight, improve career paths, and the like. Then, there are the heartfelt promises we make to others, whether aloud or in our minds. We want to care more, express love more, reverse bad feelings in old relationships or seek out new loving relationships. We try our very best to put these desires into words. Though New Years can be a time of celebration and cheer, there are many people who are facing difficult circumstances. They may be entering this time of year with apprehension or anxiety. I send out a hope of encouragement and for prosperity to you at this time of new yearly birth.

My own plans for this new year are as they were for the last one.  To do much, to enjoy and to bring happiness to as many people as I can manage in person and by proxy online with words and with miniatures from my work.

If you like the look of the picture above that is great.  It is the free miniature for January 2017 at my little Ion Age which you can see online.

GBS

Orcs in the Webbe Advent 2016 – Sharkes Wyvern!

oitw_sharkeswyvern_1_750pix

Now online at Orcs in the Webbe as part of the 2016 Advent Calendar a free Flintloque scenario written by myself as my own personal entry on the calendar for Day 10. Sharke’s Wyvern! The scenario sees Captain Rekhardt Sharke along with his Chosen Orcs taken on a giant monster after being tricked by a Dark Elf noble into a spot of ‘bird hunting’. It includes the scenario but also the rules for including this monster in your games of Flintloque.

You can see it on Orcs on the Webbe and you can see it on Alternative Armies blog as a download PDF too.

oitw_sharkeswyvern_3_1000pix

I had great fun writing and playing this scenario with new rules and getting the miniatures for Sharke out of the box again for the fight.  I am currently working on something major for Flintloque that will be out and about in January 2017 but there will be more on this during December.

I hope you enjoy the read and the photos which were taken too.

GBS

Homage to Catalonia – George Orwell

homage_to_catalonia_cover_1st_edition

“I have the most evil memories of Spain, but I have very few bad memories of Spaniards. I only twice remember even being seriously angry with a Spaniard, and on each occasion, when I look back, I believe I was in the wrong myself.” – George Orwell.

I have been a long term reader and fan of Eric Blair (George Orwell) ever since I was a teenager.  Not the Orwell of 1984 or Animal Farm but rather the earlier man of essays and of books such as Road to Wigan Pier and Homage to Catalonia (not to mention the sublime Down and Out in Paris and London).  Time permitted me to read Homage to Catalonia over the last week during a time of great joy and a friend’s wedding celebration.  It is a book well worth reading if you are interested in several different aspects of life, politics and writing.  It is auto-biography, it is a war memoir, it is a social account and it is a man’s take upon the Spanish Civil War.  Read Orwell and learn about the workings of the world.  Here are some thoughts and if you want to get a copy of this book it is very easy (not the first edition above!) it can be had for pennies from bookshops and elsewhere as it has been in many editions.   My own is in the bin now, water damaged and smelly it was due for composting.

afb9b3_f74ad3a8545343dabefb1245e8683e14

Orwell went to Barcelona in 1936 to report on the Spanish Civil War. He was so struck with the progress of the workers’ revolution there, the camaraderie and the hope, that he decided this state of affairs was worth defending, and enlisted with a militia unit. His unit soon went to the front, where it stood nearly idle for several months and did little fighting. The unit returned several months later to what seemed like a different city, in the throes of inter-party fighting as the Russian-backed communists attempted to take control of the war effort. Orwell’s unit returned briefly to the front, but while he was hospitalised (due to a bullet caught in the neck,) its members were declared illegal, and he was forced to flee the country.

Most of us are more familiar with the Spanish Civil War through Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. Unlike that novel, Homage to Catalonia paints an affectionate portrait of a brave, but naïve, effort that was doomed from the start by international intrigue. Orwell’s affable co-combatants are poorly equipped, crawling with lice, and little interested in fighting, which is lucky because they’re left on an immobile front where if the food isn’t great, the cigarette ration is at least adequate.

This book is indeed an homage, to a brief time in a small place where equality was real, but fleeting, and to the people who were there to live this hope. It also shows us the moments when Orwell became disillusioned with communism, leading to his best known works. (It may difficult for us to imagine, but we need to keep in mind that in the 1930’s, the violence and cynicism of the U.S.S.R. were still widely unknown, and there were many active communists all over the world.) Thus, this book, in addition to being highly enjoyable, is vital to understanding a mindset now remote and alien to us, and a time we mostly know nothing about.

The power of this book is in its indictment of the foreign press and the hypocrisy of international communism. Each did its part to muck up the war effort and betray the people it purported to defend, and Orwell explains as clearly as possible the complex international forces that wasted the war effort and opened the door to fascism in Spain.

Well worth reading and in case you wonder…the world is not so different now.  Be careful what second hand accounts you believe.

GBS

Flintloque, USEME and I go digital download!

5025_5026_5026_5027_600pix_pdf

Last week the four books that currently make up Flintloque 3rd edition not only went back into printed stock but also, for the first time, they became digital paid downloads.  Otherwise known as purchasable PDF books. While other companies have been trading in downloads for several years successfully now it has only been in the last month or so that Alternative Armies and by extension 15mm.co.uk and my baby The Ion Age did the same.  When the decision was taken it was set to me to task out a platform from which to make the digital publications available.  After running tests on several installs I settled on one that seamlessly integrates with the physical products on the websites and is very easy for customers to use and also to return to for their purchases.  We began with DarkeStorme my high fantasy skirmish system for 28mm and 15mm miniatures and then moved across to HOF Fire Team and Age of Might and Steel before turning my other loved system books Patrol Angis and Callsign Taranis into paid downloads.  Then it was onto the main event…Flintloque!

56587_scenic1_500pix

56587_scenic2_500pix

A busy few weeks and then the time arrived this week and with my usual flourish I presented the books plus a mega bundle to the world.  Early notice went to the Notables who were quick to get involved.  The reception has been very positive across the board and especially from the regular wargamers who play Flintloque who in some cases purchased the books as digital to go with existing print or both at the same time to expand their collection.   What has surprised me is actually the uptake on the printed books in conjunction with the same digital title as well as miniatures (above are the Pudigroan Dogmen and our funky three barrelled cannon).  I have asked and been told that the desire was to read the books while waiting for a package to arrive with paper being very much preferred at the gaming table.  This makes sense to me actually as I read books virtually but often purchase in print those I enjoy and tend to always buy wargaming books and RPG books in print only.  It seems that digital downloads are here to stay at Alternative Armies.

As always if you are a customer who continues to allow me to make my living in this wonderful manner I thank you and hope you enjoy what I do.

When the time comes that I have finished the next Flintloque book which is titled ‘Retreat to Kooruna’ it will be a print and digital download title and as such it will be the first Flintloque book to debut as both mediums.  I look forward to seeing how this is greeted by the fan base of the World of Valon.  While the first ever campaign book for Flintloque will get more, much more, coverage as it nears release you can see the cover art by Edward Jackson below.  Back in December 2015 one of the full scenarios from the forthcoming book was published in the Advent Calendar on Orcs in the Webbe.  Click on the link and you can read it or on this LINK you can have it as a PDF to your device direct.  It is one of a dozen to be in the book.

5029_cover_ws

Flintloque grows every month with new miniatures, new items and new material.  It has been a part of me for more than a decade and it will continue to be so long, long into the future.  In fact some wargamers would never forgive me if I stopped creating new content for the game!

useme_digdow_600pix

On Friday last week the whole USEME series of wargame books went digital download at 15mm.co.uk and while it is true that I nor any other author in the series such as Omer Golan Joel or Kurt Benson have added to its dozen titles in the last two years or so that will change.  We have six small books in various stages of development.  In the meantime I am really pleased to see people still remember my USEME and in honour of that the digital editions are cheaper than the print booklets.  A whole game system for three pounds.  Excellent!

USEME has half a dozen titles in the works by three authors including myself and these are at various stages of readiness.  I am looking at adding titles in the near future and these may well be digital download only.  This will be based upon consulting with several dozen customers at random to see what they prefer.

Thanks for your time.

GBS