Sunday, October 14, 2018

Building Métlan and Jáyo

Sketch Map of Métlan and Jáyo

I've decided to build my little towns of Métlan and Jáyo. I don't mean "build" in the sense of a permanent table layout or diorama. I mean I am going to start making scenery and buildings and props to allow me to put parts of the locale on the table. For use in tabletop wargames scenarios, skirmish scenarios - RPG-lite adventure games - whatever you want to call them. For "A Band of Joyous Heroes", or for any rule set one cares to use.

I've decided to start with the floating arena. In my initial post it is described as follows:

20)  The Hirilákte Arena. Shared between the two towns of Métlan and Jáyo, it is not a proper arena at all, but rather is a circular array of stout posts driven into the riverbed and protruding a few feet above high water level. These delineate the area used for the events which are staged on a variety of barges and other boats as deemed appropriate. Spectators view the events from other boats or barges that are rowed over and anchored in place or tied up to the posts. There are also some platforms on tall stilts located at the typical low water mark on which are set up tents from which the arena referees and imperial representatives and their guests view the matches.  There is a considerable rivalry between the two towns and also between the temples of the two towns.  Many matches pit the two against each other, while other matches are “neutral” in nature.

I'm starting there because about a week ago I realized that I already had the components to make it! I've had them for several years, and just to date have failed to see their usefulness. Its funny how things work out! Here they are:

These are plastic Dollar Store toys. Part of some sort of "Wild West" bag of plastic figures, IIRC. No idea if they are still available. Likely are, somewhere. Each raft is about 3" x 5", with a single hole at one end and two holes at the other. I've arrayed them in the nine-square-grid beloved of my first year studio profs but as you can see I am two short.

You know, I probably had enough originally but some are probably either on walkabout (i.e. "lost" within the confines of the house) or have been sold or given away. My memory on this is vague but I am pretty sure I have either thought about giving them away or selling them several times in the past so maybe the missing rafts are ones that I did, foolishly, dispose of. :-(

There is a moral in there somewhere.

And, actually, now that I think of it, there is a set of Natural Laws that covers this precisely: The Laws of Stuff.

These are ancient laws that predate the Internet, though you can find some re-iterated online to a greater or lesser degree. Sometimes stated incorrectly, as a quick Google-search has just revealed. One of these laws, I don't recall which one, states that the value of stuff is inversely related to its availability. That is to say, stuff you can't find is of greater use/need, and therefore value, than the stuff you have to hand.

So those two missing boats (assuming I did have them in the first place) illustrate that particular Law to a tee; so does my father looking for his glasses not 20 minutes ago!

So, two things:

1) My original concept called for a circular arena.

"a circular array of stout posts driven into the riverbed and protruding a few feet above high water level."

So now I think this becomes: "a row of three stout posts driven into the riverbed and protruding a few feet above high water level." Heavy ropes connect to the single hole in the first row of rafts, and each of the other rafts are joined in turn by other ropes. So there are three columns/strings of rafts tied together in tandem. I don't think at this point that the three columns are tied to each other. For one thing, this means they could drift closer or further apart during the fighting, which could lead to interesting situations.

2) the missing rafts. Do I find replacements, and fill the gaps? Or are they missing because the arena is a bit run down? Maybe they are arranged differently on different days? I am kinda liking that idea. Maybe the middle column has a gap on purpose - with a very long stretch of rope? Or maybe it should be moved more to the right (ie. upstream) with a wide-ish gap bridged by a board?

To make things clear "upstream" in the array of rafts is to the right. The river flows right to left. The nearest bank is off the bottom of the picture. The three rafts adjacent to the ruler represent one of the so-called columns of rafts that have been roped together. The three stout posts would be at the head of each column to the right of the picture. North would be diagonally up and to the top right corner.