Every year around the end of October my friend, Rick Loomis, who is he head buffalo of Flying Buffalo, Inc., a small gaming company based in Scottsdale, Arizona (and publisher of my Tunnels and Trolls game) attends the Games and Toys Fair in Essen, Germany. He always brings a few goodies back, so this year, I thought to ask him if he would look for some European Tarzan comics. I showed him what not to get; namely the European translation of American comics, and hoped for the best. Of all my literary heroes, Tarzan is the greatest and oldest.
And I got my wish. Rick’s Dutch host (Rick stayed with a fan/friend in the Netherlands and drove back and forth to Essen each day) had an old Tarzan comic that he gave to Rick for me. And it looks like this:
Tarzan finds medieval soldiers in the middle of the jungle
The comic is from 1979. The artist has a style similar to Russ Manning’s Tarzan, but just a little less clean-cut. The book has 48 pages, about double the size of a normal comic, and contains 3 separate, independent stories. The language is Dutch, which may be my favorite European language. Dutch is a cross between English and German, and one can almost read it without help of dictionary, especially if one knows a little German, which I do because I took a year of it in college some 48 years ago. The cover story is called “Ontmoeting met het verleden” which means Encounter with the Past. With Google translation easily available online, I don’t have to guess at the meaning of unfamiliar words like verleden.
The great thing about comics is that one can pretty much tell what’s going on even if one doesn’t understand the words.
The second story is called De reuze-vogels. Try to guess what it’s about from this page that I scanned.
Can you read it? Even without a dictionary I can tell that the last panel says “The plants and flowers are greater (maybe larger) than I have ever seen.” Vogel is clearly eagle in this story–not such a big difference between our english word and the Dutch in this case. I don’t know what reuze means. I’m guessing “giant” or maybe royal. Let’s see what Google tells me. (Ken changes browser windows to check a meaning.) Yes, reuze means giant, and I was right the first time. Grin. It was not a hard deduction to make, but it’s always edifying to be right about such things. And vogel is bird instead of eagle, a fact I sort of vaguely knew, but I wonder why the scripter used that word since they are clearly drawn as eagles.
The comic has a lot of text in it, and that means I can pick up a lot of Dutch vocabulary by simply reading it with a little help from my Google translation page. It will take a couple of hours to get through this book, but I’m looking forward to it. (I’ve only had it for a day now, and haven’t found time to read the whole thing yet.)
And here’s the back cover. It looks like a preview of the next issue, due in 14 days. Dang! The sixties and seventies must have been a great time for Tarzan fans in the Netherlands, and perhaps all of Europe, with almost 50 pages of new story appearing every two weeks. It says “Radioactive rays in the jungle? Also read the following-exciting number. . . about 14 days.
My thanks to Rick Loomis and his host Jan for getting me this minor treasure from the past. I’m definitely enjoying it, and wish I had more.
If you have any Tarzan comics (or any other real comics–not just translations of our American stuff) from other countries, why not mention them here? Personally, I think this would be a great way to teach foreign languages–bring on the comics from the countries whose language you want to learn. I’d be happy to see more Tarzan from any other country in the world.
The future of conventions is media cons–big ones like Phoenix ComicCon and SabotenCon. The anime-themed party was held over the Labor Day weekend at the Renaissance Hotel in Glendale Arizona. The hotel is just across the street from the Cardinal’s football stadium, and next to a huge shopping center.
On Saturday I grabbed my camera and went to check it out. I had a little trouble finding it and getting a parking spot, but then I just walked right in. SabotenCon is chiefly an excuse to put on your best hall costume, and go show your stuff to both friends and strangers. The attendees were mostly young–lots of high school kids, and I think every Asian kid in Phoenix was there. Anime is an Asian (mostly japanese) artform, and they came out in droves to support it.
I went to take pictures. There were plenty of great costumes that i didn’t get, but let me just show the people having fun.
This thing came up and said “Hi, Ken!” to me. I had no idea who recognized me.
Most of it was anime, but Nightwing showed up. This guy really looks like a superhero. The joker was also present, but I did not take his picture. (He wouldn’t hold still long enough.)
Could this be Lina Inverse of the Slayers? I’m not sure. Gorgeous costume–gotta be really hot inside all that cloth.
This is Mia. I don’t recognize the Dr. costume, but she looked half dead with all the ghastly black make-up, and she sat next to me when I played Illuminati in the Game Room. They let me in even though I didn’t have a badge for the Con.
Hair colors are extreme and vivid in anime.
Who was that old wizard?
The girl in the cat costume was cute, but I was really amazed to see this old 60s version of Sorry being played at the con.
The Queen of Hearts and Alice were there. Of course, I bowed and paid my compliments to Her Majesty.
There were a lot of horny demons at the Con. This hellish group took over a table in the gaming room.
I played Illuminati with the legendary Jesse Foster and the Men in Black. Did not win, or even come close, but had a good time.
I would have rather played SPANC with Angie. We were all telling her she should dress like the catgirl on the cover when she ran the game.
Cat girls! Cat girls everywhere!
And barbarians too! I wouldn’t have the nerve to walk around 2/3 naked like this and carry big phallic symbols, but these guys were having fun.
There were a few real furries in attendance. This one was very friendly and patted my tush after I took her picture.
This dark fairy queen stole my heart.
The legendary Jesse Foster, leader of the Men in Black, also has a few Women in Black at his beck and call.
I’m not sure what this uniform is for/from, but there sure were a lot of these troopers in the halls.
Dangerous women lurked around every corner.
my choice for Best Use of Cardboard in creating a costume.
A very pretty, and complicated new board game called Arena. The playing pieces are all super-deformed characters from anime.
I chatted with this guy for a while. He owned an Arena game and tried to explain it to me.
Looks like a questing party to me.
Awww! This volunteer was working so hard at her table and too cute to pass by.
Convention staff all seemed to be in costume. Lady Thor seemed out of place in the anime world.
Friendliest furry in the hall.
Tic Tac Toe is a very heavy game in anime circles.
Many characters carried great staff weapons. This was a fine one.
I don’t know why she has so many tails.
Actually, this was the first picture I took when I entered the hotel. You have just taken my 4 hour tour in reverse.
Everyone seemed to be having a very fine time. The costumes were great, and I’m glad I went out to see it. I’m sure the promoters made a lot of money from it. This is where media fandom is going today, and it’s a wild trip.
If you’ve ever indulged yourself in cosplay, whether it was anime-inspired or not, why not leave a comment?
Going to GenCon is all about doing some serious gaming. It’s also all about getting some new games and stuff to take home with you when the show is over. Though I spent most of my time running Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls for gamers who signed up to play with me, I was able to spend some time networking, and I did pick up what looks like some pretty cool stuff to keep me entertained for the rest of the year.
The number one acquisition in terms of uniqueness was the two-player Settlers of Catan variant from the Big Game at GenCon. that Mayfair sponsored on Friday evening. Rick Loomis, Steve Crompton, and I all participated in this event, which set a world record for the Guinness Book of World Records for most players in a single board game. We helped set a record with 922 participants in a single game.
We sat at long tables and played head to head with one opponent across from us. We could trade with people to our left and right on both sides of the board. Winner had to amass 25 victory points.
Participants got to take the game home with them. I got a map, a set of pieces in a beautiful purple color hitherto unseen in the Catan universe. And I got the Catan cards: sheep, wood, brick, ore, and grain in one deck and the regular development cards in the other. They have special backs to commemorate their importance to GenCon and the development deck has an extra card–1 victory point for GenCon.
These cards are just brighter and better looking than those in the basic game.
Anyway, I was happy to play in this event, and I even got quoted and filmed talking about how cool the event was for a local newspaper on-the-spot blog. I found it online, but I was terrible, so I’m not going to give you the link.
Actually the Catan game was the only thing I got to play that I didn’t GM. I did, however, acquire the following cool stuff.
Here’s a game that lies dreaming until the stars are right.
I was walking around the Exhibit Hall and stopped to chat with my old friend Charlie Krank. We discussed Kickstarter projects for a minute, as Chaosium has done a KS this year roughly 10 times as successful as my own. He smiled and gave me this prototype version of the new Call of Cthulhu edition. I have only skimmed through it, but Call of Cthulhu was always a great game, and the new version is going to be even better.
(Historical note: Sandy Peterson, who is a friend of mine, created The Call of Cthulhu game at the same time as I was creating Stormbringer. They came out at roughly the same time, and wound up sharing the Origins Award for best rpg of the year. I am a little bitter about that. I think Steve Perrin and I would have walked off with the prize of best rpg of the year if Sandy hadn’t produced his masterpiece at the same time–I wonder if he felt the same way about Stormbringer. The two games are wildly different in concept, setting, and game mechanics but both have their adherents/cultists.)
I saw Sandy and talked to him a little at the North Texas RPG convention in Fort Worth in June. He and Cthulhu remain the best of friends, and he was showing off the prototype of an Elder Gods conquer the world board game that had the most amazing pieces, and really looked like fun. I was running dT&T, and he was running Cthulhu, so I didn’t get a chance to play in any of his sessions, but if he gets it produced, he is going to have another mega-blockbuster success with it.
In Call of Cathulhu, heroic cats oppose the efforts of various mystical forces to undermine human civilization and the feline rule.
I was talking to John Wick at the Independent Gamers Association booth when Joel Sparks came up and said hi. He was showing off the mini-game that he made for GenCon, and when I saw it, I declared that I must have it. It was his last copy, but, being the magnanimous and Great Guy that he is, he gave it to me, and signed it o me to prove it. I gave him my product which was the reprint of Tunnels and Trolls first edition.
This game is brilliant, but cutesy. Young people, especially young ladies with a fondness for cats, will love it. I hope I get a chance to run it for some teens and pre-teens some time. Original in execution, design, and writing style, this is a family friendly game that everyone can enjoy.
A new sourcebook for John Wick’s decadent rpg: Houses of the Blooded.
The game trading between designers wasn’t quite over yet. When I promoted Cathulhu from Joel, John came back and presented me with the Wilderness manual. He owed me one. I had given him a copy of my new board game Dwarves and Dragon two weeks earlier at MaricopaCon. I thought at first that this was another of John’s gamebooks–the man is so incredibly prolific–but it turns out that Wilderness is written by Jesse Heinig with some additional material by Fabien Badilla, Jessica Kauspedas, and John Wick (himself). I probably know Jesse by sight, but I don’t know him well. I do know all his co-writers well enough to greet them in passing (grin).
This is a 193 page sourcebook for running Wilderness Campaigns for Houses of the Blooded. Houses is primarily a larp rpg, and I participated in it for several months in 2012, helping to create the House of the Boar as its first lord. I doubt if any of my live-action role-playing had any effect on this book, however. It is very well-written and contains some fiction by way of examples that is a total howl to read.
Dungeon delving isn’t all rpgs. There are also board games and card games and card games that are board game like this one.
Sunday was my trade-with-other-game-designers day. You wait till the end to to this kind of gathering of free stuff because you want to give everyone a chance to sell all they can to the gamers at the show. Aaron Kreader is a fantasy game designer who does very entertaining card game variations on the whole men and monsters in the middle ages theme. He has also done Traps and Treasures and Villages and Villains. He dropped the alliteration this time to posit the idea that there are Cosmic Forces involved in your average dungeon-looting expedition. The Hero is the one that is trying to make off with the treasure in the dungeon. The Guardian is the one that is trying to protect it. Both sides work through minions. The Hero force uses Adventurers. The Guardian force uses Monsters. When the Looters meet the Guardians, who will win? Play the game and find out.
Aaron and his lovely wife Lisa epitomize everything good about the independent gaming movement. They are friendly, funny, and absolutely immersed in the world of gaming–living the dream, and seem to be on the rise. I wish them well, and am always happy to see them and their games at the conventions I attend.
You would never guess from the cover, but this is a game about starring in horror movies.
Speaking of free things that just came to me, Crawlspace-13 materialized in my hands while talking to my friend Tom Loney on Saturday. Tom is married to Chrstina Lea and is also a talented game designer. They use their own Peryton Press to publish their designs, and they also do some Tunnels and Trolls publishing there. I really like Crawlspace. It appeals to the extrovert in all of us–the idea of starring in a movie. It gets away from the standard tropes of fantasy role-playing as if we all lived in Middle Earth or Trollworld. It shows the American imagination at its finest.
(Just one thing, Tom. If you hope to sell this wacky, fun game, you need to get better covers. I am not really a fan of the understated look when it comes to game design. What this really needs is a picture of Johnny Dep with a hatchet embedded in his skull grimly strangling Pamela Anderson while off to the side you see a movie camera and the silhouette of an overweight director yelling “Cut!”)
And this is the final Piece de Resistance of my GenCom games grab.
2013 was a good year for pre-release versions of games at GenCon. The industry is so big now that it would be a full-time job to try and keep track of all the new games coming out. I only really try to keep up with my friends, and even at that, I do a very poor job. TOO MUCH GOOD STUFF!
But Christina Lea is a friend of mine, and a member of Trollhalla, and with her showing her newest game at the con, I felt I should support her efforts, so I made a point of buying a copy of Qalidar: Resistance from her Peryton Press. You would not think from looking at Christina that she would have such a weird imagination. She is an attractive woman with a dry sense of humor, but inside these pages she comes off stranger than Madame Blavatsky. That’s good. I like WEIRD.
Sometimes I wish my imagination was as good as those of my younger friends. Qalidar is a marvelous name for a world, but in Ms. Lea’s hands it is more than a world–it’s a whole multiverse where everything is more than it seems, and GREATER SIGNIFICANCE fairly oozes out of the pages of text.
I have actually read (almost all) of the Resistance rpg book, and I have to say, I’m impressed, intimidated, and confused by it all. Impressed by the concepts, intimidated by the creatures (this seems like a very difficult rpg to survive), and confused by why she would want to stay with the D20 style of game mechanics. I associate D20 with THAT OTHER GAME, and so don’t care for it much. Perhaps she thinks that is its strength. Oh well. I have gamed with Christina in her (sick and twisted) universe, and would be happy to return any time–D20 or not.
With all that loot, and considering that I sold out of 1st edition, Saving Fang, and Dwarves and Dragon, I would say that 2013 was a very good year for me at GenCon.
If you have any GenCon experiences, or comments on the good stuff you picked up while you were there, or even if you didn’t get to go, and are just jealous of the glamorous game-filled existence of we GAME DEISNGERS (snort!), why not leave a comment?
then I want to talk to you. I’m easy, and mostly friendly.
Does this look like a gam designer to you?
I want to make things easy for anyone to contact me. My email is email@example.com. If you know me, or want to know me, go ahead and send me a letter. We can talk about life, love, and gaming. Or maybe about food, fitness, and fun in general. But if you’re just sending out spam, don’t waste your time or mine. I’m not buying, not gullible, and I will trash and block all spammers or scammers.
I will be at GenCon this year. If you’re going to be there too, stop by the Flying Buffalo booth and talk to me. Ask me for a demo of my new game: Dwarves and Dragon.