Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chirine's Workbench, a Retrospective

Over the years I've found myself becoming deeply attached to certain blogs and none more so than +Chirine ba Kal's blog, Chirine's Workbench, and today I'd like to show you why I've grown to love this blog so much, and why you should love it too. To do so I'm going to be working my way through the archives picking out my favorite posts since the blog started. Hopefully, you'll find this blog as enjoyable and refreshing as I do.

The Best of Chirine's Workbench

Firu ba Yeker's gone . . . and certainly not forgotten . . . A simple goodbye to a man who meant the world to +Chirine ba Kal, Professor M.A.R. Barker. I cried the first time that I read this short goodbye with its been sitting in my heart ever since.

Milestones A glimpse into the staggering amount of material left by Professor M.A.R. Barker that has left me with more questions than answers over they years, but has encouraged me as I've come to know the Tekumel setting more deeply.

Saving Throw = 00 Written by Chirine's lovely wife Janet, this post tells of the day we almost lost Chirine. I don't know how she was able to write it as I would have been a mess.

Taking stock, one month after dying . . . I have often wondered over the years if I'm doing enough with my life, and after reading this post I can honestly say no. Read this and find yourself pushing harder against that instinct to sit down and rest.

Taking stock after dying (the second part) When I first started playing Dungeons and Dragons we never used miniatures because . . . well, I can't give you a good reason. But these thoughts on Chirine's history with miniature scenery were one of the first times that I ever considered changing my position on miniatures - and I'm so very glad that I did, too.

Hot Elf Chick, well Hot Hyborean Chick, actually . . . I love looking at old painted miniatures, and when you see one this beautifully done thirty years out from its original make you just have to stop and enjoy it.

Bonus Time - or No Politics, No Sh*t, No Foolin' A fantastic story about Chirine's dad with a lesson we should all commit to memory: this time on earth we've got isn't guaranteed, so make the most of it.

The Jim Harland Interview This nine part series, which begins with the link to the left, has so much fantastic goodness in it that you really must read it all. Lots of great insights into the history of the hobby, Chirine's life, and some great thoughts on where we should be going - even if those are just inferred. One of my favorite series from the blog. 

Oh, My God! - How Can He Say These Horrible Things!?! - Or, The Tenth Part It is so easy to get wrapped up in the idea that what we're doing in our home games has to be in line with the "canon" version of the storyline - hell, I used to do it myself - but this one post puts it all in perspective. Substitute Tekumel with your favorite setting if you must, but the lesson is the same: here's my world, now it's yours.

The Year in Review - Year-end Round-up It's the end of 2012 and the start of the new year. A lot has happened but this great little piece by Chirine seems to put it all into perspective. 

Games Workshop, "Spots the Space Marine", and Gary Gygax A bit of background here. At the time of this posting Games Workshop had been involved in a rather nasty and bastardly bit of bullying towards a young author who is a pretty good egg. They were wrong in most every way imaginable and Chirine was out front letting us all know about it. But that isn't what makes this post so memorable. Read the story from Uncle Chirine and you'll never forget it.

Readers' Request - Running an Event I'll be honest here, this is one of my favorite posts not only because it is immensely useful, but because I was the one who asked the question.

Readers' Requests - Hekellu, the City on the Lake This short post has more good information in it than many splat books I've read over the years. Well worth reading and adding into your own worlds.

Readers' Requests: GM play styles - Dave Arneson, Gary Gygax, and M. A. R. Barker Everyone who hasn't played with one of the original guys is always wondering what playing with them was actually like, and this post, I think, illustrates each of their styles beautifully.

The David L. Arneson Memorial Maritime Miniatures Mayhem Event and The M. A. R. Barker Memorial Invitational Pro-Am Miniatures Game - June 8th, 2013 If you have never heard of a Braustein game then you're missing out, and this post is a great place to start learning about that type of game, as are the following: Braunstein - The Video! - Live Streaming, We Hope!, and The Weekly Update for Monday, June 10th, 2013 - Whew! A Truly Wonderful Weekend!

Angry Rant, Indignant, One Each, +20 on Blood Pressure Harassing women at conventions has been a hot topic this year, and Chirine steps up to it when that harassment happens to one of his friends. We should all be so lucky as to have a Chirine on our side in those situations.

Weekly Update for Sunday, July 28th, 2013 - Underworlds, Anyone? I love all of the Weekly Updates, but this one really rocks my socks. I just love the Qol miniatures at the start and everything that follows just has me wishing that I lived nearby so I could game with Chirine.

The Weekly Update for August 18th, 2013 - First the News, and then an Essay! I'm including this one for the amazing essay, Why Use Miniatures Anyway?, which appears about half way down the post. If you have any question as to why using miniatures in your home games might be a good idea read this post. Chirine eloquently defends their use and encourages you to get off your rear and use them too.

Tom Clancy, Larry Bond, and How We At Adventure Games Won The Cold War I love this short story from Chirine's time working for Dave Arneson. It's funny and just great in every meaningful way.

Whew! The first video podcast is up! This first podcast is so much fun to listen to that I have watched it multiple times. I hope everyone reading this will find it just as enjoyable.

Problems in Governing, or, Storming Hekellu So We have Someplace To Sleep Tonight If you can read this post and not want to play in this game then I honestly don't know what you're doing with your life.

The Weekly Update for Sunday, January 5th, 2014 - In the frigid wastes of the Northwoods Great miniatures here and a question that I'm finding myself wondering more and more is asked.

Additional Links of Interest
The Podcast 
The Appendix N of Tekumel 
To Serve the Petal Throne - Contents
The Photos of Chirine ba Kal!

Final Comments 

Total Posts in Blog: 148
Total Posts read: 148
Years Active: 2011 - present

This was the first time that I've done anything like this and I hope that it has helped some of you folks reading this article to discover a great blog that is not given anywhere near enough attention from the wider blogging community. I know that I've had a lot of fun reading through his archives and enjoying someone that has become a big influence not only on my role-playing games but on how I think about the people who matter in my life. It's my hope that after reading this retrospective that he's entered into your life and made you better for it - I know that he has in my own.

If you enjoy anything that he's written please be sure and thank him for all his hard work and for continuing to put the effort into the blog and the podcast.


  1. Very cool. I will have to check this out.

    1. I hope you like him as much as I do Timothy!

  2. Um, wow. Just wow. I got home from work about an hour ago, and I've been sitting here at the computer just staring at your post. Wow. I had no idea; I really didn't. I tell people that all I'm doing is trying to tell folks like you about a time and place that may have been forgotten - back in the days when we had no idea what we were doing, and just had fun playing with each other.

    I was, in my opinion, very fortunate; I got a front row seat at the founding of our shared hobby, and had the chance to enjoy the company of some of the smartest and most entertaining people you could possibly imagine.

    Wow. Thank you. welcome to my world; you. and anyone else who loves fun, are welcome here...

    yours, chirine

  3. Chirine's blog is one of my regular stops on the 'Net!


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