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

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

Orcs in the Webbe Advent 2016 – Sharkes Wyvern!

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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.

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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

The first digital download of my work….

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I began a test today with a wargame rule system I wrote back in 2005 and then re-issued in 2010 before now in September 2016 turning into a digital download.  The system is DarkeStorme and it is one of my earliest stand alone titles.  I am actually rather proud of it really since it has held up well.  Set on the fictional world of Valon where the mighty rule system Flintloque takes place but in an earlier age of sword and sorcery it was my idea to create a ‘third age’ to replace the lack lustre earlier system ‘Dresda’ which was in a world before Flintloque.  DarkeStorme focuses on warbands of a dozen or so miniatures of any fantasy race and has full rules for monsters, magic and more as well as progression and RPG elements.  A lot packed into sixty pages….mainly due to this being written before I had a lot of parenting responsibilities which makes working life a tad more complex. I am not joking!

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The test is to find out if the customer base of Alternative Armies wishes to purchase paid for PDF’s (digital books)  as well as print books.  DarkeStorme has sold over a thousand copies in its time thus far in print so it is an ideal place to try out this test.  The purchase is made straight from the website using the existing shopping cart and the links are delivered on screen to download from there.  Thus far we have sold a half dozen or so e-copies and it is a good start.  You can visit the page HERE and read the official blog post HERE.

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How do I feel about my work, often running to hundreds of hours per title, being distributed in this fashion?  If you had asked me a few years ago I would have refused straight off since I have watched people being ‘pirated’ our of existence by file sharing networks in the gaming industry.  That and the customers simply did not ask for PDF’s in anything but ‘bolt on’ small items and preferred printed books with their miniatures.  Now though the world has turned and customers are asking for both particularly with The Ion Age title Patrol Angis.  So I will wait and see what happens.  My feeling is that we will be putting out more titles as digital downloads including the big books such as War in Catalucia for Flintloque.  Heck, it may even result in me penning original works for digital download only.  The future will tell.

Thanks for your time as always on my little page.

GBS

Galactic Knights..what will be chosen?

Over on the 15mm.co.uk blog today I put up a short post about the possible expansion of the popular HOF105 Galactic Knights pack of miniatures along with the top suggestions for what the extensions might be.  The extension depends on reaching the magic number of 500 packs sold.  I am sure this will happen.  We were thirty off when I put the post up and as of right now we are twenty one packs short.  So with that settled what will the expansion be?  Read the link before continuing.

While it will depend on feedback in total I have my own guess.  My own guess is that everything and more than was suggested will be asked for but the majority will ask for support weapons and also a female pack of Galactic Knights with a possible bare headed or command type bolt on.  Will I be correct?  We will see end of this month or so when the numbers are tallied.  Sam Croes is keen to make more of these unique humans in 15mm scale but he has totally deferred to public input on this.

I would like to thank everyone of the hundreds who email us and comment and react every month about our products.  Your energy keeps me smiling.

GBS

Blasted out of Blast-Tastic 2014

This Saturday the long anticipated wargame show Blast-Tastic is happening in Bristol in the UK. The show is a new venture specialising in science fiction wargaming mainly in the 15mm scale. I had long planned to attend the show (one of the first to sign up to it!) but due to circumstances beyond my control (other meetings scheduled on the near thousand mile round trip pulled out on us!) it had to be cancelled.  This is actually rather upsetting as I had been really looking forward to going and had already got the stock ready and the demo game of Patrol Angis too!  The game is near completion and this would have been its only gaming public appearance before publication.

But all I can do is put a link to the details of the show and ask if you are near Bristol to consider attending on Saturday.

Seems a weekend in the rain of Ayrshire is now mine.  🙁

GBS

Mullo AFV goes public on the 18th September!

I know something huge is happening on Thursday 18th and to be honest regardless of the result I am sure I will survive and prosper.  But I am fairly tired of talking about it and being pushed for an opinion.  So while I will be putting up the results and my thoughts on it..for the moment lets look at something awesome instead.  The latest 15mm model designed by my good friend Sam Croes goes up on offer at The Ion Age upon the morrow and its a beauty too.  The Mullo Armoured Fighting Vehicle a space opera dream made real.

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Ain’t she lovely! Thanks for looking.

GBS

Parli italiano? Vuoi giocare?

Over on the Alternative Armies blog which is one of the onlines places which I organise and run there is a short but great posting about a brand new version of my Flintloque 3rd edition wargame rules.  What’s so different about it?  Well its been translated into Italian which is excellent as it means the community of wargamers in that lovely land can now play and read in their native tongue.  Go HERE to read more and to download it if you want to have a look.

Flintloque is adored by thousands of wargamers all over the world who enjoy something unique and with humour but without all the high prices and often soul lacking materials that some other wargame systems have.  I am seen as the father of the community and its a great place to be.  There is a lot happening for the game during the rest of this year and this version of the lite rules is just an awesome bonus.  Ciao!

Thanks Gianmatteo!

GBS

Find me on Facebook…finally

I reached the needed one thousand asks and finally signed up for Facebook this week.  I actually have been trying to avoid it due to the extra work involved.  Those who know me know that I just have to answer every comment and email and message sent to me and sometimes it takes me literally hours each day.  I do wonder sometimes if the old adage ‘if someone takes the time to write to you then you write back’ is meant to apply to the information age but in any event its what I do.

You can find me by searching Facebook for me as:  Gavin B Syme.

As result of this taking up of Facebook I am making efforts to join up with communities on that platform and making friends too.  By extension the weekly news, blog posts and product releases that I make from work are also going to feature on Facebook too.  It will not take long for me to get as noticed as I am on Google Plus.

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Aside from this the current heat wave that is going on in Scotland is making life sticky for me and its been a ruddy long day too.  That being said that fact that we are so busy is a great thing and as I look towards the first birthday of my baby (that is The Ion Age not one of my actual children!) I am so proud of how well it is going.  It seems that honesty, quality, service and pricing never go out of fashion.  My good lady cheered me up by send me a picture this afternoon of the Poet and the Warrior having fun in the park in Girvan with the free kite display.  These huge kites are easily 50 to 150 feet long and it really makes the sky line pretty in the 25c to 30c heat.

GBS

Taken from Alternative Armies blog – Modular Elf Dragoons

“Captain Sharke looked grim. The scars on his face were livid in the cold of the Catalucian mountains and there was a fleeting inch of snow on the barren ground around him. With an eye long used to war Sharke was watching distant horses down in the sheltered valley while he and a half dozen Rifleorcs were up the hill side where they could not be followed. Damn Dragoons, damn ruddy Elves. Why was it always these pointy eared prancing Ferach that made his life hell. Everywhere in Catalucia the threat of roving patrols of Dragoons kept the Army of Albion on its toes. While the distant port city of Kooruna was the goal of the marching army he was headed away from them on his own mission. Well he would be if he could just get shed of these damn Dragoons. Sharke told the rest of the Orcs to get to their feet and they grumbled and grunted in cold limbed discomfort. It was warmer in the valley, the wind did not cut as deep into sodden uniforms. But on the ridges and hill tops they remained; for a sabre from horseback could and would cut all the deeper.”

Ever since the start of the germ of the idea that would become the huge range that is now Flintloque was first shown to me many years ago (1996) something has stuck in my mind. Those who have had the fortune to play Flintloque or Slaughterloo with me in person will know that I am a big fan of the Ferach Empire of the Armorican Elves. That is the nation that I like to play on the wargame table. Yes, I choose the Elf Voltiguers in the original box set not the Orc Rifles!

So, what was my idea. Well, during the writing period of 5025 War in Catalucia it occurred to me that although the miniature range had a large variety of Elves and a set of excellent elite cavalry in the form of the Corps Imperial des Dragons the Armoricans did not have Line Dragoons. That is the typical cavalry version of the typical infantry found in 51504 Elf Line Infantry; something for all seasons and reasons. Ferach Elf Line Dragoons were something that had a good fit to the Catalucian campaign and indeed beyond. I asked around and players agreed that this would be a set of miniatures ideally suited to battlefield and skirmishing alike. With that agreement the long process was begun in the winter to bring Ferach Elf Line Dragoons to the wargaming table.

Alternative Armies prefers to produce miniatures in white metal that are single piece with an integral base meaning little in the way of assembly but with a potential for conversions and personalisation. This time I wanted to try something a little different with the Dragoons. I wanted more variety in horses and in riders too. Not a plan for the whole range, oh no, but tried out here. After a lot of concept sketching and looking at uniforms and horses we came up with a modular system in white metal that I hope will really appeal.

The next blog post about the Ferach Line Dragoons will show and tell you a lot more but for the moment I will say that the modular concept reached a state of master molding at the start of this month. It has worked better than I had hoped and it means the ability to assemble a horse in a variety of poses and riders in such a variety of posing that a whole unit will never look the exact same twice. These will be fitting foes for fleeing infantry Valon wide and in every Elf army.

If anyone has questions please do ask them or email me with them and I will do my best to answer. I know its been slow for Flintloque in the last year but that is changing. This is the start and there is a lot more to come. Something about a sea port city and trying to get there next…

Thanks for Reading.

GBS

Original Blog Post Here.