Microlite20 SIWDCC

I used to play Dungeons & Dragons as a kid but haven’t played since high school. I have vaguely kept track of how the gaming industry has progressed through the years with the advent of Wizards of the Coast buying TSR, 3rd, 3.5, 4th and new 5th editions this past year, and the collapse of many of the bigger competitors and the rise of independent game systems on the internet and Old School Renaissance (OSR) gaming movement. All this while though I haven’t played any games, or bothered to learn the new systems.

I was always partial to BECMI D&D, in particular the Rules Cyclopedia (RC) as it was all the rules you needed in one book, including a great overview of the “Known World” setting which later became Mystara. This is what I played as a kid, even though I had the AD&D 2nd edition books. I liked the simplicity of the RC and the flexibility that allowed you to add things like skills and weapon specialization, or keep it simple.

This past summer my wife arranged a couple of games with some friends and family and it was fun and breezy, but most of the players were new to RPG’s and the Rule Book was intimidating, even if the RC was one book instead of the multiple books of other editions. I had come across the idea of ultra-lite RPG’s and Microlite20 (M20) but didn’t want to use that system as I was not familiar with the mechanics and balance of the game. I also was partial to the traditional six D&D stats, Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution and Charisma (and yes they have to be in that order.) There weren’t really any other sacred cows to me about D&D, the weird Saving Throw mechanics, descending armour class, etc…, so I decided to try to adapt M20 to include the 6 stats instead of the three M20 stats (Strength, Dexteriry and Mind), while observing some of the OSR trends such as d6 for hit points for all classes and d6 for damage for all weapons.

I have not yet play tested this game yet, but I hope to soon, please download it if you are interested and please send me any suggestions or obvious broken elements!

M20 SIWDCC Rules v1

 

Pinwheel Coin Pouch Video and Free Plans!

pinwheelcoinpouchvidI have been dabbling with leather work for about a year now since I first made a leather sheath for a knife I made. I enjoyed that process so much I wanted to try and make other leather products and one project I wanted to try was making a leather pinwheel coin pouch. A friend had one of these and I always thought it was a neat little object and wanted to try making one myself. Making a pinwheel coin purse is a pretty simple process, if you have a good template or pattern to go by. When I first tried to find a pattern I had very little luck finding one, at least not one that wasn’t for sale for $20US or more!

After searching for a while I eventually found a free one but it wasn’t very well drawn or explained. I figured I should come up with my own pattern and make it available to anyone looking to make one of these coin purses! I also thought I should make a little video showing how easy it was to make.

So here are the patterns, I have a PDF with some simple instructions as well as a .dwg file so you can scale this up or down to fit your needs exactly.

greenspreepinwheelcoinpuch – PDF of the template

.dwg file of the template

And finally here is the video showing how the pinwheel pouch is made:

 

On the Internet and Learning Craft

Recently over on some Facebook craft groups I belong to and some blogs I read of other craftspeople I respect, there has been a discussion surrounding the definitions of some words and labels we use such as green woodworking, their histories, the evolution of the craft movement around the world and the impact of the internet on all these things.

Jarrod Stone Dahl wrote an interesting article about the rise of masterless apprentices who learn their craft through website tutorials and most often YouTube videos but do not have the benefit of experience or a mentor to point out the bad technique and instruction from the good. There is also another class he talks of newcomers to craft who are chasing recognition, “likes” on facebook, “thumbs ups” on YouTube, etc… There are not so much interested in mastering their craft as mastering the presentation of craft for recognition on social media.

These two issues are indeed a negative aspect of the internet on the world of craft but it got me thinking of another dangerous pitfall to social media and the overload of information (good and bad) online. Jarrod mentioned that when he first started out with green woodworking it was from a books and face to face time with masters in their craft. That kind of lack of access to information has a benefit that most would not immediately recognize. It removes the buffet problem, too much choice, too much content available to all of us. It is very easy to get distracted and dazzled by all the different possibilities of different crafts to learn.

I fight with this often, I started off with spoon carving after my brother gave me a Mora spoon knife and carving knife. I had no idea what to do with them so I looked up some stuff online and found Robin Wood on a YouTube video carving a spoon in his living room. I was hooked right away and it led me to watching all his other videos on bowl turning. Soon I wanted to try that out as well and started building a lathe to try it out. It was a dismal failure but I learned something from it.

After getting to take a bowl turning course from Robin and Jarrod last year I knew exactly what needed fixing on my lathe and got right to it when I got home. In the meantime I had also become interested in knifemaking as I watched YouTube videos of master knife makers like Trollsky and John Neeman Tools and tried my hand at that, starting off with making handles for Mora blades and then after getting a taste of blacksmithing through the bowl turning course, I made a blade of my own (which I have yet to handle). The second knife I made I decided to try my hand at making a leather sheath and this resulted in my becoming interested in leatherwork. I got interested in bookbinding and have made some leather covered books as well. I have also played around with tool restoration by rehabilitating a Stanley No. 4 plane of my Dad’s, tried my hand at traditional woodworking and hand cut dovetails, birch bark canisters, and have another 3-4 crafts that I would like to try my hand at.

So in the last two years I have taken up:

  • spoon carving
  • bowl turning
  • knife making
  • leatherwork
  • birch bark craft
  • blacksmithing
  • book binding
  • traditional carpentry
  • tool restoration

The upshot of all this is that I have not been able to devote the time required to progress very far in any one craft. I have probably made more spoons than anything else in this list and it shows as my knowledge of the tools and materials in this area are much better than any other.  Being a Dad of two young children, full time civil servant and part time university student though means that I have precious little time to devote to getting better at my craft to begin with and spreading myself as thin as I have and being tempted to spread myself thinner means that I will not reach the skill levels I desire and any craft.  This is the buffet problem, too much access and choice does not lead to excellence, especially if you have anything else resembling responsibilities in your life.

While all of the crafts I have listed have brought me joy and satisfaction, knowledge and mental stimulation I am becoming increasingly aware that I need to make some choices of which crafts I want to pursue and give them priority over the others if I ever want to progress beyond the point of being a passing hobbyist.  There is nothing wrong with viewing these activities as passing hobbies, nor do hobbyists not progress and become more skilled with time but they also don’t achieve the highest level of skill, knowledge and intuition about their craft.

What would I be doing with my life if the internet had not shown me these crafts?  Would I still be passionate about making things if it had not been for the internet?  I am not sure, but I do know that I need to mindful that I not let it distract me from just getting on and doing the work, really doing it and not just scratching the surface of a score of different crafts.

 

Gluten Free Bread

So after YEARS I finally have a fairly consistent GF bread recipe.

Mix dry ingrediants:
13 oz  GF flour blend (Bob’s redmill or Bulk Barn works fine)
3.5ts   xantham gum
1.5 ts  salt
1/4C   brown sugar packed

Proof 5-10 minutes till foamy:
1.5c    warm milk (or 1 cup milk + 2/3 cup plain yogurt)
1TB    yeast
1ts     sugar

Mix wet ingrediants:
2        eggs
1.5ts  apple cider vinegar
1/4C   melted butter/oil

Mix and let hydrate:
2TB   psyllium husk
1/3C  water

After psyllium has hydrated whisk into egg mixture (don’t let sit too long before this or the husks will turn into a gummy mass hard to mix) and when the milk and yeast are bubbling add to the rest of the wet ingredients and add wet to dry.

I just mix with a wooden spoon till incorporated then pour into a 9×5 silicone loaf pan (which sits inside a metal one so it doesn’t sag) and let rise somewhere warm covered in plastic wrap till even or slightly above the rim – slice the top to relieve tension.

Put in a preheated 190degC oven for 15 minutes till it starts to brown then cover with foil and bake for another 45-55 minutes until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely.