Behind the Scenes As An NPC

When not playing the games I’ve recently reviewed, I’ve had my hands full with a few things that are coming up that will impact my ability to post over the coming weeks. I know some of you are actually following my weekly posts, so please accept my apology in advance that I may be missing a few posts in the near future.

Curious as to what’s going on? Well, here’s the scoop!

==Unpacking==

As I mentioned before, I moved to Charleston, WV, in December. Even now, I am still unpacking. I’ve made a massive amount of progress (just a few more boxes inside the house to go!), but I’ve hit a few snags (lack of bookshelves and needing to replace said shelves).

The biggest, recent project of unpacking is getting my blacksmithing shop set up.

==The Shop==

First phase of unpacking/organizing the shop.

Yes, you read that correctly. While I don’t have a full garage or anything, I do have access to a part of a garage, which is going to make my life easier with my craft.

First things first: after doing some unpacking/organizing inside and outside, I’ve had to start replacing things I lost. Prior to the move, I had a “stump” made from boards that was a tool holder and a small catch-all for materials (as well as being the stump for my old anvil), my literal stump for my current anvil, a grill I was using to hold the forge, my table (which held my vice), and toolboxes. Due to space restrictions, I had to leave some of the items behind, leaving me stranded with what to do next.

Now that I’ve unpacked enough, I was able to get around to fishing out my tools and getting things rolling. I needed two major replacements: a stand for my vice (as my table is too light) and something to hold my forge (as I didn’t want to keep burning my table).

The vice stand is not only simple, but affordable (you DIYers out there might find it useful). I grabbed a 4×6 board (local shops can’t cut anything bigger and my car is too small to haul board without cutting), had it cut to length (in my case, 40 inches), acquired a bucket (paint buckets work; I prefer pickle buckets from Firehouse Subs due to the cause but they were sold out), and a 60lb bag of heavy duty cement.

The necessary supplies.

Using my cordless drill (which somehow didn’t hate the project), I drilled in the guiding holes needed for the bolt, bolted the two boards together with a nut on the end, then hammered the sharp point down. Once this was set, I prepared the cement.

Taking the advice of the guys at Home Depot, I poured the bag of cement into the bucket, added 2.5 liters of water, and stirred. Thankfully I had some spare rebar on hand, which was perfect for this task. Once it reached the right consistency (or at least as close to it as possible), I dropped the boards into the center, twisted them a few times to promote the mix, and let it set.

Now I have a 4″x8″ surface to use to mount whatever I need with a nice 60lb weight on the bottom. In this case, I’m mounting one of my two vices and ensuring that this will work as well as I hope. If it does, I’ll be doing a second one with the other vice and possibly a stone grinder.

The finished~ish product. Need to add a few straps/staples to hold the wrenches, but otherwise this one is good to go.

The next challenge was something to hold the forge. I was suggested to get a welding cart, but most are rather short, and the taller of them was nearly $200. I went with a relatively cheap cart from Harbor Freight that has space for other tools and my annealing box. It seems to be working out, and I hope to be able to fire it up this weekend if all goes well. I’m also considering building a rail onto it to hold tongs and possibly rigging something to hold longer pieces in the future. We shall see.

Progress!

I didn’t get around to setting up my new drill press (need to get more boards), but I have a few leads thanks to local SCA members on other tools and projects to work on.

==Upcoming Projects==

I wouldn’t be pushing all of this smithing stuff if I didn’t have a few projects coming up. Well, here’s my current docket!

The first is a seax knife. This is a blade style often associated with the vikings, and they are relatively easy to make. A few friends of mine (Sinclair Jewelry) make historical inspired jewelry and have been in a viking kick recently. As the lapidary is itching to make a stone handle for my blades, I thought this would be an inspirational piece. This shouldn’t be too hard, but I’ll need a proper drill press for the handle portion.

The second is a tentacle-inspired athame. This is a paid commission that I took care of the designs for right before Christmas but didn’t get a chance to get started on due to the move. Now that I’m settled in and bought one of the necessary tools (snagged a Dremel on a post-holiday sale), I’m hoping to get the prototype handles forged either this week or next week, and then get started on the actual blade after I hear back from the customer.

The third official commission is not a paid gig, but rather a gift. One of my former students is getting married this year and, after she invited me to the wedding, I offered to make a cake/general usage knife for her. After some conversations, she requested a blade in the shape of Orcrist from Lord of the Rings. I already have the blade design figured out, but I need a few special tools for the handle (namely the drill press). Here’s hoping it works out!

The final project isn’t a commission, but a personal goal. I recently joined the SCA with the hopes of meeting other local blacksmiths and as a means to get back into sword combat after a long hiatus. As a way to cut some costs down for my gear and to give myself something fun to do that I can learn from, I plan on making my own feast gear. This is where the need of that dishing block comes in, but there’s no real timeline here. . .yet.

==The NPC Is Going To Tekko!==

Tekko

Yes, you read that right: The NPC will be attending Tekko!

Even better: I’m not JUST attending, but I’m staffing. This year, I won’t be staffing in my usual way.

After many years of working on The NPC as a gimmick, I was invited to Tekko as The NPC. The higher ups offered to pay for the at-con expenses (prize support, quest cards, etc), as well as provide a badge. I still have the same costs every other cosplayer has (costume, transit, housing, etc), but it’s nice to see that the work I’ve put into making this a thing is being respected enough to warrant an invitation like this.

This year, I have a new exclamation point, prize support, quest cards, and the means to provide multiple quests a day. There’s a chance of getting a grand prize at the end of each day for completing enough quests. This is the first year we’re trying this, and if it goes well, we’re hoping to make this bigger in the future!

Tekko will be taking place in Pittsburgh, PA from April 7-10. I normally don’t take part in the Thursday events (the 7th) due to staff meetings and the like, but I will be hanging around the entire time for the other three days. Keep an eye out for my new exclamation point and ask for a quest when you see me!

New gear! about 6′ tall, so it should stand around 11′ off the group when I’m wearing it!

==Playtesting==

Another time sink recently has been my continuation of playtesting. I finished a test in late January/Early February and was roped into another one before it even ended. Now, in the middle of my current one, I’ve been invited into yet another one. As these two new ones are not RPG related, they will make for interesting “Behind the Scenes” posts about the nature of playtesting and what sort of things make it (and don’t make it) with the end product.

Granted, I can’t talk about every detail, but there’s some interesting stuff to consider at the very least.

==The SCA==

After many conversations, I finally caved and joined the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). With my background in medieval fantasy, love of medieval history (old legends are based in history, and I always loved the tactics of the 100 Years War), and my various experiences (fencing, kendo, blacksmithing), it was a no-brainer that I should join.

I’m already gearing up to attend the first big event of my barony: Blackstone Raid. I’ve started attending meeting preparing for the event, began to put together a persona (looking at a landsknecht to bring something that’s NOT a viking or assassin to the table), and overall just been having a good time talking to people with similar interests.

For anyone who is curious, I am part of the Kingdom of Aethelmearc, and the Barony of Blackstone Mountain.

The seal of the Kingdom

==Signing Off?==

With everything going on, I’m not sure if I’ll have the chance to post again before Tekko or when I’ll get to my after-con post. The event ends on the 10th, but I won’t be driving back until the 12th. I’ll also be thrown into a string of madness due to having to play a game of catch up at work and at home (as well as working extra days to make up for the day off), so my next post might not go live until the 20th unless something miraculous (like insomnia) occurs.

Stay tuned and be patient; there’s plenty coming up, and that’s not even including game reviews or news about 7th Sea (if/when I hear it!).

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