60th birthday – the invitation

I invite my friends (new and old, near and far) to my 60th birthday party.

Date: Saturday, December 7, 2019
Time: 6PM – 11PM
Location: This is a public blog post, so I’ll send the address separately. It’s the same place as my 40th and 50th birthday parties, and a few Yule celebrations.

The event: A professionally-published murder mystery, set during a masquerade ball.

If you’d like to come, please respond by Tuesday November 5 (Election Day!) with the information below. You can reach me via email, send me a message via Facebook, or text/call; my contact information hasn’t changed in 20 years. (I advise against replying directly to this WordPress blog post, as it’s visible to the public.)

Guests are welcome, especially those friends who did not see this invitation either via Facebook or email.

For each person who’s coming, I’d like to know the following information.

  • Your postal address, so I can send you game materials in advance.
  • An email address so your fellow players can contact you in-character before the party. If you only want to be contacted some other way, tell me; bear in mind that some of the other guests don’t use Facebook.
  • Your level of commitment to the mystery:

    • Category 1: “The show must go on! Neither daemons pouring from the gates of hell nor hosts of angels with flaming swords shall bar my way to Ravenwood Castle!”

      People in Category 1 will receive key roles. One of them may be a tragic victim. One of them may be a foul murderer.

    • Category A: “Stuff happens. I plan to be there, but I can’t make a firm commitment.”

      If you choose Category A, you’ll be in a role that offers clues to solving the mystery. You’ll be missed if you’re not there, but the other guests can forge on.

    • Category Alpha: “It’s hard for me to commit in advance. I might not even know if I can make it until a few hours before the party, or I could be late.”

      Those in Category Alpha will have auxiliary characters. If you can make it, you’ll be able to participate and provide more clues. Who knows? Your character might even be innocent of any wrong-doing.

  • The characters have color-based names (e.g., Finn Burgundy, Reese Cerulean). The game suggests people wear costumes and masks of that color to identify themselves. Let me know if you’d like me to help out with your mask.

    (You don’t have to come in costume, or even wear a mask. I’ll have name tags for everyone.)

We’ll coordinate food (it will be semi-potluck) and rides (e.g., more than one person may be coming from Philly) as we get closer to the date of the party.

Remember: NO PRESENTS! My response to any presents will be Shakespearean.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Contrast Paints and a Metal Dwarf

As I promised in an earlier post, here’s a set of photos of my test work on painting Dwarf Brewers. I ordered about twenty of these miniatures via Amazon, and I believe those orders had to be distributed among several different game stores. If those stores wondered what one person wanted with all those Dwarves, this post will show you.

Contrast Paints

I should acknowledge that there are better comparisons between the different colors of Citadel Contrast Paints; here’s my favorite. But I felt I needed to see the results in real life, painted in the way I’ll apply the colors to my own miniatures.

As a reminder, these are base zenithal primes over which I applied the contrast paints. (Also: The next planet I create for a science-fiction setting will be named “Zenithal Prime”.)

Dwarves - tan vs gray zenithal

On the left is tan zenithal, on the right is gray zenithal.

Warm Colors

First, the autumnal colors that I painted over tan zenithal.

Dwarf - Skieleton Horde

Skeleton Horde

Dwarf - Nazdreg Yellow

Nazdreg Yellow

Dwarf - Gryph-Hound Orange

Gryph-Hound Orange

Dwarf - contrast Blood Angel Red

Blood Angel Red

Dwarf - contrast Aggaros Dunes

Aggaros Dunes

Dwarf - contrast Snakebite Leater

Snakebite Leather

Dwarf - contrast Wyldwood


Cool Colors

Next, the colors I painted over gray zenithal.

Dwarf - Plaguebearer Flesh

Plaguebearer Flesh

Dwarf - Militarium Green

Militarium Green

Dwarf - Creed Camo

Creed Camo

Dwarf - Space Wolves Grey

Space Wolves Grey

Dwarf - rhelian Green

Akhelian Green

Dwarf - Leviadon Blue

Leviadon Blue

Dwarf - Shyish Purple

Shyish Purple


I’ve got reds, browns, and green a-plenty. However, I should consider getting a light blue and a light purple. Leviadon Blue and Shyish Purple are so dark that they’re almost black. It makes them hard to distinguish from each other.

Contrast paints are meant to be “slopped on” over a white primer. All of the above show the effect of applying contrast paint over zenithal priming. It was only after I took the photographs that I noticed that the paint did not get into all the nooks and crannies of the miniatures; the region under the cap of the Dwarf’s ale mug was particularly problematic. This is a result of my sloppy painting, but it also indicates which paint colors did not flow as smoothly and will requires more attention on future models.

The Metal Dwarf (aka metal zenithal)

All of the above tests and the ones described in my other miniatures posts are fine for applying sundrop to player pieces, miniatures of living creatures, or monsters. But what if I wanted to paint a figure to suggest metal armor?

I was inspired by this video to consider “metallic zenithal”. All the paints were applied with an airbrush. Although the Vallejo metal paints were supposed to be able to be directly applied with airbrush, I found I had to mix an equal amount of flow improver to keep the airbrush from clogging.

Here are the steps:

Dwarf - black primer

First, a coat of black primer.

Dwarves - black primer and black metal

Then a coat of Vallejo black metal paint. The above is a comparison between standard black primer and the metallic black.

Dwarf - Chainmail silver at 45 degrees

Then a coat of Vallejo Chainmail Silver sprayed at a 45-degree angle.

Dwarf - Plate silver at 0 degrees

Finally a coat of Vallejo Plate Silver sprayed from directly above.

Dwarves = gray zenithal vs metal zenithal

Here’s a comparison between gray zenithal on the left with the silver metallic zenithal on the right.

In the Vince Venturella video I linked above, he continues to refine the metal zenithal with additional shading and highlights. For my part, I’m content to stick with what I’ve got.

I may experiment with a gold metallic zenithal in the future, if I get a miniature for which gold metal looks appropriate.

What’s next?

My miniatures painting tools are packed away in a couple of boxes, waiting for me to make room in a closet somewhere to store them. The next time I anticipate painting minis is when Tainted Grail arrives.

That might be as soon as next month!

60th birthday – interested?

For my 20th, 30th, 40th, and 50th birthday parties, I organized events centered on gaming. As you’ll see if you click on the links in the first sentence, for my 40th and 50th I set up a LARP party. For my 60th birthday party, I’m going to take a simpler approach and host a murder mystery.

This is not an invitation to that party, at least not yet. This is to get a general idea of how many of my friends would like to come.

All I know right now is the date of the party: Saturday, December 7, 2019; the place is somewhere in the Rockland County/Bergen Country area. The exact location, the setting of the mystery, and other details depend on how many are coming. I’m leaning towards a masquerade party, but we’ll see.

If you’d like to come to my 60th birthday party, please let me know.

Fiddly bits

  • Please let me know before mid-October.
  • You can reach me via Facebook, or send me e-mail, or text me, or call. None of my contact information has changed in the past 20 years.
  • If you reply to this WordPress blog post, please leave your name. Otherwise the only thing I’ll see is the IP address, which won’t be enough for me to know who you are.
  • Guests are fine, but please let me know how many would be coming with you. The total number of people affects the location of the party and possibly the mystery’s setting as well.
  • I’m not asking for a commitment to attend, just general interest. I will ask for a commitment when I start assigning roles for the mystery.
  • Unlike the adventures of my last three birthday parties, which I wrote, the mystery will come from a professional publisher. Even I won’t know whodunnit.

    I was a dick about this at my 40th. I was a total dick about this at my 50th. I’m prepared to go completely Richard III at my 60th.

    I don’t want stuff. I have enough stuff. Friends and laughter and back rubs are what are important to me at this point in my life.

    One more time: