I haven't had the opportunity to draw and paint anything for myself in the last several months. Maybe longer.
It ends today with this speedpainting I cooked up between various work-to-be-done-before-Monday.
I haven't had the opportunity to draw and paint anything for myself in the last several months. Maybe longer.
It ends today with this speedpainting I cooked up between various work-to-be-done-before-Monday.
When I started out freelancing - illustration freelancing - I had a mix of local and foreign customers. It would not be long before I decided to drop all local customers except one.
Local businesses, it seems to me, disregard freelancing work as non-serious work. One works at home at one's own time, I suppose, so why would we want take you seriously. If one was serious with work, then one should have studied to become a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer... they probably figure.
The problem here is that whatever the case businesses need freelancers to work for them. But because of they regard freelance work, it would take many phone calls and many weeks to get paid after the job is done. The usual excuse would be because of company procedures and bureaucracy.
So many years have passed since I stopped taking local freelance commissions.
Irfan has now taken up bookbinding as a hobby so I thought I would commission from him a small gamemaster's notebook for me. I printed out the cover design at the print shop on blue paper and gave it to him. The cover was designed quickly using Inkscape and saved as a pdf.
Irfan stacked and folded some blank A4-sized papers for the interior pages.
He carefully measured where the staples were supposed to go on the spines.
Then he stapled the spine of the folded papers together carefully onto an eraser and bent the staple legs inward manually.
Here is the notebook almost done.
All that is needed to be done is to slice the extra piece of paper away for a flat edge.
The notebook is now ready for me to write in to continue our Time is the Hunter Star Wars RPG campaign that I am gamemastering. Perhaps I will follow up this blog entry with another when I have filled up the notebook with notes, stats and sketches in the future.
In West End Games' The Star Wars Sourcebook (1987) written by Bill Slavicsek there is a four-page technical write-up on the X-wing fighter. The text is an order of magnitude more detailed than any other write-up on the Incom T-65 X-wing ever written and filled with an abundance of elements that can be adapted and used by gamemasters for any Star Wars RPG scenario.
What has been vexing me for a quarter of a century are several "Star Wars-esque" non-English words used in the book for names of equipment make and manufacturers. Even if the spelling does not reflect it, when they appear to be transliterated words from my own native Malay language.
Malay: Tanah Air, (IPA:/tanah air/) literally "soil and water", meaning "motherland". The Tana Ire electro photoreceptor needs to scans water and land below the X-wing to be an effective terrain following sensor.
Malay: Melihat, (IPA:/məlihat/) is translated as "seeing", with the me- prefix of the word lihat making it the present participle of the verb "see" - but not a gerund. Never a gerund. A sensor sees, you see.
Bertriak is a manufacturer of the "Screamer" sensor jammer. Malay: Berteriak (IPA:/bərtəriaʔ/) is a derivative verb from the work teriak, which means crying, or screaming. Is this not how jammers work anyway?
Taim & Bak is a manufacturer of ship-based weaponry, specifically the KX-9 on the X-wing and the IX-4 on the Y-wing. Malay: Tembak (IPA:/tembaʔ/) is literally "shoot". This corporation would have been literally named "shoot" if not for the ampersand between the two syllables.
Chepat - renamed Chempat in later sources for some reason - manufactured the "Defender" shield projectors. Malay: Cepat (IPA:/t͡ʃəpat/) is "quick" or "fast". Perhaps the Defender shieds are quickly deployed in battle - I dunno... I got nothing.
While cepat translates as "quick", another manufacturer elsewhere in the book translates as "strong", namely kuat, as in Kuat Drive Yards based in the Kuat system. Kuat is definitely a strong presence in the lore of Star Wars with many vehicles designed by it, including the Imperial Star Destroyers we see on screen.
Also, I ran a small RPG campaign in the Kuat system once.
I wonder if there are other Malay words hidden within the non-English proper names in the Star Wars Sourcebook, perhaps hidden by transliteration of the word. So now the question is: is all of this a coincidence, or did Bill Slavicsek have a Malay dictionary with him when he was writing the article up?
I was busy all through to the end of 2016 that I was oblivious to stuff happening in Kangar. For example, I recently discovered an alley near the centre of town which had been adorned by colourful streetart apparently painted by schoolchildren from all over Malaysia.
I thought I would take a couple of photos for documentation's sake, because this must have been a really fun event for the attendees.
Here is the 14th batch of RPG paper miniatures I created and released at my Patreon page. Call them mechanoids, drones, droids, bots, synths... they are useable for any science fiction RPG campaigns with droids.
There are mechs than walk, waddle, roll and climb which can be used as player characters or non-player characters at your gaming table. There is space to write their character names too.
Click here to go to Patreon and download the free Pioneer-class release. The Mariner-class release with enhanced colouring (like the ones in the photos above), and the Voyager-class release which also includes six full-sized printable character artwork, have also been released for patrons.
Thanks to my Patrons for the opportunity to make these paperminis!
After receiving it as an early birthday present from Ivan earlier, this month I discovered that DK Publishing's Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide (UVG) by Pablo Hidalgo which fills the Star Wars universe as seen in Rogue One with a multitude of world-building details, was also a treasure trove of lore which originated from West End Games.
West End Games (WEG) published the Star Wars roleplaying game series of books from 1987 until 1998 or thereabouts after which the licence went to Wizards of the Coast. In that decade or so, the game company had created and populated the Star Wars universe with hundreds (if not thousands) of worldbuilding details enough for gamemasters and players to play in the setting without having to create, for example, the Imperial DMV. Similarly, species, location and technology (and corporations that made these technologies) were named and fleshed out.
Which brings us to the Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide. Pablo Hidalgo was a freelance writer for West End Games and an experienced Star Wars RPG gamemaster. Instead of reinventing the wheel, a lot of minutae created by WEG have been included in the Rogue One UVG, which means that at one point or another, these details have been used by a multitude of Star Wars RPG gamemasters and players in their own campaigns. See the Chandrila section below for an example of my own.
Here is a (incomplete) list of items featured in the UVG and created earlier in various WEG rulebooks, sourcebooks and periodicals according to their appearances in the UVG from front to back.
The corporation that built the GX-8 condenser unit installed at the Lah'mu homestead also built the WPR-60 water purification system. Source: Galladinium's Fantastic Technology (1995).
Detonites are the plastic explosives of the Star Wars universe and baradium gives you more bang to the buck in thermal detonators. Sources: top - Imperial Sourcebook (1989), bottom - The Star Wars Sourcebook (1987).
It is important to note that Crozo doesn not solely manufacture hand comlinks, but also a host of computer and cybernetic products in the galaxy. Source: Cracken's Rebel Field Guide (1991).
Jyn Erso had two high level Imperial Penal Reference Classes slapped on her which would explain her incarceration in an Imperial Penal Colony. I wonder what her cellmate's Oolin Musters ImPeRe violations were. Source: Galaxy Guide 6 Tramp Freighters (1990).
Scout Lile Gorsek mapped the fourth moon of Yavin and named the continents Koos, Swivven, Wetyin and Starloft. Source: Galaxy Guide 2 Yavin and Bespin (1989).
The Cantham House Meetings involving Mothma and Organa have been part of the origin of the Rebel Alliance lore since nearly the beginning of West End Games. Source: Rebel Alliance Sourcebook (1990).
Not only has Chandrila been identified as Mon Mothma's homeworld by West End Games in their first roleplaying sourcebook, but I also ran a game session back in the late 80s where my rebel agents manage to avert a bioweapon attack there. Also time of writing, my current players (okay, just Ain and Irfan) are stuck in a cliffhanger and a deadly standoff there in an ongoing Star Wars D6 campaign. Source: The Star Wars Sourcebook (1987).
The Telaris System appears to be a secret location where the Alliance fleet especially Mon Calamari capital combat starships go to for planning and repairs. Source: Rebel Alliance Sourcebook (1990).
General Draven and Kolor Delan are compatriots from the same planet. Source: Wanted by Cracken (1993).
The vacation began when Ivan came a-visiting from Petaling Jaya via the ERL. I picked him up at the Arau station and he gave me an early birthday present: the Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide, which will eventually be its own blog post.
Because of work, I had to spend the first day of vacation grading papers. But we did take Ivan out by the sea where we had some grilled lok chin and laksa.
With me on call for the grading work, we managed to take a trip to Gua Kelam. It was a work day so there were not many people at the park. Here are Ain and Irfan at the mouth into the dark tunnel of the shadowy realm.
Once we got to the park grounds on the far side of the cave, Ain identified the spot where Irfan, Ayah Cik, Cikma and Ciksu once had a cranial massage thanks to the fast-flowing stream.
Ain also sat and swung on the thick, ropy stalk of a beluru tree (also known as a sintok tree). Mouseover the photo above for its scientific name.
Returning to the themes of transhumanism for the Hishgraphics paper miniature releases on Patreon, here are some uplifted animals to be used in your campaign. There are two designs each of crow uplifts, octopus uplifts and chimp uplifts perfect for your science fiction campaign.
Genetic modifications in the future allow for some animals to possess human-level thoughts and consciousness.
Click here to download the free Uplifts of Space PDF file on Patreon.
I drew the General a couple of days ago with a pencil. Then I took a photo of it.
Carrie Fisher died earlier today. She was 60.
I did not think it would, but it did hit me harder than I ever thought it could. Because I am unsure why because I did not believe she affected me much as a child despite my being a Star Wars fan. For me it was always about the universe first. The characters, who had their own great story in that universe, came second.
So what did she imprint onto me at that pubescent age when I first saw Star Wars? It was probably something like this: if there was an older girl playing on the playground, I would want her to be like Princess Leia. If the boys run out of ideas, grab a gun and blast a hole in the wall. If I had an older sister, I would definitely want her to be like Princess Leia. So, unlike a lot of stories from many fans I had read, I never fell in love with Princess Leia, nor Carrie Fisher.
But I had a younger sister. And I believe subconsciously, I pushed her into becoming someone who I would love to play with on the playground. If assholes talk you down, look them in the eye in defiance.
I think - I believe - my sister Sila did grow up to be like this idealised version of her which I had in my mind.
It was only fairly recent that I learnt that the Carrie Fisher herself was as fiesty as her character Princess Leia. I marvelled at her acerbic wit and sharp tongue during interviews. I discovered how opened was about being bipolar. If anything, I wish I had been paying attention to her when I needed it. I think if I did I would have bounced back from the edge quicker.
Thanks, Carrie Fisher, for being an inspiration on many a level. Rewatching the films will never be quite the same from today.
Just as it was more than 20 years ago in Sitiawan when a bunch of unfamiliar people asked if I could run Star Wars RPG for them, here I am in the same situation in Sitiawan where online friends I have never met before asked me to run a Star Wars RPG session for them! No big deal to me: it is a great way to make lasting friends!
Unfamiliar with any form of Star Wars RPG, I brought the Edge of the Empire and Force and Destiny rulebooks along with some sourcebooks, the FFG narrative dice set, Force tokens and my trusty homemade paperminis. I forgot to bring the percentile dice so I used the phone dice roller app. I thought I would give the scenario some recognisable Star Wars elements by first starting out the game on Naboo. Then, soon after the Empire could make its presence known...
Human smuggler Matwe, Wookiee doctor Grabow and Wookiee mercenary soldier Lumpy (no relation to Lumpawarrump son of Chewbacca), the crew of the Corellian YT-2400 light freighter Seagate. arrived at the city of Theed on Naboo to look for trader Zo Arkon who was looking for tramp freighter services.
Upon setting the Seagate down in Hangar 14 on the side of the cliff face, the crew debarked, paid their 50 credit service tax to the port officer and headed for the cantina built into the side of the large cavernous hangar. A series of large windows and automatic sliding doors adorned the facade of the Piledriver Cantina. As the crew approached, the doors slid apart and two Imperial stormtroopers strode out.
The troopers suddenly stopped the crew and addressed Matwe: Did he have permit for the two Wookiee slaves?
As Grabow and Lumpy rolled their eyes Matwe quickly convinced that the Wookiees were from offworld and just arrived as crew on a light freighter for a transport job pickup on Naboo. Thankfully (thanks to a Success in Matwe's Charm roll) the stormtroopers were easily persuaded by Matwe's fast talking.
It was the truth anyway.
Soon after the droid bartender directed them to Zo Arkon who having lunch in a booth at the back of the cantina. Zo Arkon treated them to some bantha steak for lunch while the Matwe authorised Arkon's droids to load the Seagate with the cargo: a regular looking cargo container. Before the crew left the cantina, Arkon paid them 500 credits, with another 2500 credits to be paid by their contact Milo Renn upon arrival at their destination: the south polar town of Bamboo River on Takodana.
As the trio traipsed back to their YT-2400 freighter, they noticed something peculiar. There was a puddle of dark lubricant on the deck not far from their ship. There was also a set of smudged tracks that ran from the puddle toward the underside of the Seagate where it then disappeeared. Did someone sneak aboard the ship somehow?
...Sitiawan! We drove from Pasir Mas to where I grew up and where nothing now looks familiar, except for the old house.
Because I was not able to go to Kuala Lumpur for vacation earlier, I figured we should visit Atok and Opah in Sitiawan during Maulud Nabi. Of course Irfan was glued to his grandparents desktop computer for hours, even late into the night.
So he was pretty tired in the mornings.
It was a chore to wake him up in my old bedroom.
We mostly chilled out and relaxed in Sitiawan. We wanted to visit my cousin, but they were not in town. Irfan's Atok and Opah also took us to dinner, before I went to GM a Star Wars RPG session. Wait what?
The pasembor and rojak place under the rubber trees had quite the tasty food, even if there was quite a swarm of flies in the area. I wished Vin, Sila, Yaya and Rafiq were there with us.
Soon it was time to go. We bade my parents and Sitiawan farewell as we headed back to where class revisions and final exams of my students awaited me.
For the first time ever, Tok Bah and Tok Ma in Pasir Mas got the opportunity to go on an Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca. We drove to Kelantan to see them off. En route, we got to see a herd of elephants, pale and monolithic, at about three a.m. along the Grik-Jeli highway over the mountains. They must have just crossed the road as their butts were to us. No, we did not stop the car to take photos.
Tok Bah and Tok Ma would join a group of pilgrims from Terengganu and be escorted by Ain's cousin and her husband in their journey. Many came from Pondok Lubuk Tapah and other places to see them off at the Kota Bharu airport.
Yes, Ain shed tears at the airport.
Irfan should get to know his cousins a bit more. Though I think his extraordinary height (and his somewhat introverted demeanour around unfamiliar people) might make them nervous around him.
All of us before they left.
All of us plus Irfan before they left.
After they departed, we headed back to Pondok Lubuk Tapah to get our gear and then begin our drive to...
It came to pass that Ain and Irfan went for vacation back in KL but I was not able to join them because of work. A side effect of given a new position at work after one has planned one's year end vacation and bought travel tickets.
So while I held the fort during exam season, the anak beranak spent their time with Ayah Cik, Cikma, Ciksu and Little Rania. Here are some of the photos of what happened during their away mission. Mouseover the images to read the captions.
They had a fun time there, visiting some folks including Zara and Aiman, and Irfan's former uztazah, our old neighbour back at the tenth floor. Hopefully I would be better at planning vacations next year after I have acclimatised better to my work schedule as a teacher.
I have uploaded a pair of new paper miniature releases for Patreon, but forgot to announce it here. So here are the two sets of freely downloadable PDFs usable as player characters (PC) or non-player characters (NPC) in any medieval fantasy roleplaying game campaigns.
Sword Valley was once the most dangerous regions of the wilderness and filled with deadly creatures and hideouts of murderous brigands. Until the Rangers appeared out of nowhere and cleansed the valley of evil and danger. Now the valorous services of the Rangers of Sword Valley are in demand throughout the land - even when there are whispers of a dire secret being kept by these skilled woodsmen.
Click here to download the free Rangers of Sword Valley PDF file on Patreon.
In the arid, dry lands of the Dust Plains where death await even the most prepared adventurer, there live the hardy Wilderfolk who can survive the worst of droughts. When a Wilderfolk leave the Dust Plains to join travellers from other lands, there is certain to be an intriguing and astonishing story behind it.
Click here to download the free Wilderfolk of the Dust Plains PDF file on Patreon.
Feel free to become a patron, or share with your circles! Thanks.
After their rescue of the rebel agent known as "The Skywalker", who turned out to be a Togorian named Meow Skywalker, bounty hunter Jax Hunt (played by Irfan) and the amnesiac lady who then named herself Iris Helena (played by Ain) were taken aboart the VCX-100 frieghter Screeching Arrow to rendezvous with a Nebulon-B escort frigate at an unknown location in deep space.
After three days of being cooped up in the Arrow, Meow finally approached them with a mission.
"The mission is to travel to the Chandrila system in the Core Worlds, land at Nayli Spaceport, travel to Apartment 7C, Blackback Building to pick up a 10 year old girl named Wencie Kelauae, whose rebel sympathiser parents had been kiled by the Empire. The Empire is looking for her. Get to her before they do and bring her back here."
They accepted the mission.
Iris piloted the Screeching Arrow as Jax manned the navigator's console beside her. However Jax must have programmed the navicomputer badly because they flew too close to a hyperspace shadow of a black hole and something exploded, sending flames and sparks billowing in the main corridor behind the cockpit.
"Keep flying," yelled Jax as he headed aft. "I'll handle this." At the corridor, a wall of flame blocked him and the automatic fire suppression system was knocked out. He steeled himself and jumped over the fire, reaching for the damage control panel on the wall beyond it. He hit the manual button and the suppressor force field killed the flames.
"I wish we had an astromech droid," Jax said, studying the damage done by the overload explosion. He reported to Iris, "Our shields are dead. We'd better get them fixed before we get shot at."
In the meantime, Jax started cooking some eggs for a light meal while Iris fussed over him and told him he reminded her of someone, perhaps a son.
She could not really remember.
Two hours later or so, they reverted back to realspace off Chandrila. The ship automatically greeted Chandrila's traffic control system and they were assigned Landing Bay 19 at Nayli Spaceport.
Iris guided the Arrow towards her berth. But 300 meters above it, the repulsorlift generators gave out and the ship plummeted downwards.
It is a wonder to see my niece's Alya's artistic skills develop, receiving updates from my sister. She is not only becoming quite the artist, but her skills in digital art using rudimentary art tools are now very impressive for her age!
Here are a couple of drawings Alya made that Sila emailed me over the last couple of weeks:
These are made freehand and with a mouse. I have also suggested they buy a graphics tablet for her and her brother to draw with. Perhaps they could use something more complicated than Paint; such as GIMP or Krita.
Usually car problems come not within a month or two of one another. For us. So far. Until now.
It was Friday afternoon just before Solat Jumaat when the car engine refused to start. After prayers, with the help of some colleagues, I got a nearby mechanic to see to our immobilised vehicle. It turned out that the battery - nearly two years old - was as flat as a paper miniature.
Saturday was the lull in the storm. Little did we know that our car troubles for the week were not done yet.
The car returned from a short jaunt to refill our potable water bottles and hissed at me. Since the thermometer was broken, we were unsure if it was the radiator. After it cooled down, I attempted to refill the radiator and reversed the car a metre or so, away from the puddle I made in my refill attempt.
A new unwanted puddle promptly appeared.
It was almost sundown on a Sunday. The car would have to be repaired the next day, and I had to cancel my morning class.
It took an entire Monday to fix the leak as it was leaking at a pipe that was connected to the engine. I also had to cancel my afternoon class.
At he end of the day, the coolant system was fixed.
But the mechanic pointed out that my front right tyre had a bulge. Frayed fibres were visible. It was the end of the day, so I could only replace the front tyres the next day.
I had a medical appointment first thing Tuesday morning. We wanted to have breakfast at the hospital but the cafeteria was shut down on account of their tender contract being lapsed. After the visit to the ENT clinic at the hospital, we looked for food before heading to the tyre shop. By lunch time, we had replaced both front tyres and the usable left tyre was made a spare, and all was right in the world.. until-
Upon our return from sending Irfan to school, the car scraped against a sharp jagged rock on the side of a small road near the back of the school... and tore a gash in it.
I had to cancel one of a replacement class from Monday. I thought I could replace the damaged tyre with the spare, but ultimately I could not - not without a missing metal bar I used as a lever to break the nuts' torque in the past.
So I walked to the nearby mechanic, who told me to walk even further to reach a tyre shop in Jejawi.
The mechanics drove me home, used their tools to break the nuts' torque and swapped the tyre for the spare so I could drive back to their workshop to buy a brand new undamaged tyre to replace the brand new severely damaged tyre.
I tried to get things done as quickly as possible so I could make the afternoon class at Sungai Chuchuh.
After five days, a truckload of worries and many hundreds of ringgit (most of which we had to ask for monetary aid) the car crises finally ceased by the time it was-
When will the next crisis be? Stay tuned to find out.