2016–An Analysis   7 comments

flower8-18-16sunflower

 

I need to say something about 2016. A lot of people have been dumping on this year–saying they can’t wait for it to be over and so on, claiming it has been a horrible year. 2016 has certainly been eventful, and yes, it has been hard on many people, but the year has brought plenty of blessings too. So, let’s be fair–let’s see if we can match good stuff with bad stuff, and remember that what we consider good or bad is all point of view. Others may consider it just the opposite, or somewhere in between.

Bad thing number 1: The Syrian Civil War has devastated the Middle East and created millions of refugees. God only knows how many people have died and the suffering involved has been incredible.

Good thing number 1: The world has responded with incredible efforts to help those refugees. The spirit of human kindness is not dead. My admiration to those who engage directly in this struggle against the greatest darkness of our time.

Bad thing number 2: Terrorism has increased all around the world. Virtually every country is being hit by something. A list of major strikes would be quite long.

Good thing number 2: We are not terrorized. The struggle against terrorism continues and they will lose in the end.

Bad thing number 3: Donald Trump won the race for President of the United States.

Good thing number 3: Donald Trump won the race for President of the United States. It all depends on your point-of-view, doesn’t it?

From here on I’ll use numbers. You realize the first one is the bad thing, the second is the good thing.

4. Britain voted to leave the European Union. Arguably one of the strongest European nations left. The whole thing may fall apart in the next few years.

4, Brexit as it’s called. Again, it all depends on your point of view. A majority of British citizens saw the EU as dragging them down to doom. They say rats flee a sinking ship. So do people. It makes good sense to get off a sinking ship before it goes under.

5. There were many natural disasters, but then again, there are always many natural disasters. This becomes a personal thing. If you were affected by a natural disaster, you have my sympathy, but although hundreds of millions of people were harmed by disasters, most of the 8 billion people in the world were not.

5. It was a year of plenty. More food, more consumer goods, more inventions. Over all, the world got better in 2016 instead of worse.

6. A lot of our favorite celebrities died in 2016. A lot of celebrities die every year. As the world population increases, the number of celebrities in the world also increases, so the number that die each year will also increase. Although we may be saddened by the deaths of our heroes and idols, we can live with it.

6. On the other hand, it was an incredible year for entertainment. The amount of new movies, music, art, games, sports, has never been greater. Personally, I went to see more movies this year than I have ever seen in any previous year of my long life.

7.–

7. It was an incredible year for Science. Amazing developments in astronomy alone: the Pluto flyby, the Ceres flyby and orbits, the Cassini mission to Saturn, the verification of gravity waves, all kinds of news from Mars. Closer to home: breakthroughs in virtual reality, self-driving vehicles, medicine, geology. The pace of scientific progress has become too fast for an ordinary citizen like me to actually monitor. It all seems to just fly by. Yet, I know I am benefitting from progress.

heart-of-pluto

That concludes my list of general universal Goods and Bads. From there we step down to the personal level. On that level we have all had our defeats and victories. Perhaps your year has been more negative; but perhaps it has been more positive. Have you counted your blessings every day? When I think of all the pain I have suffered and or perhaps caused in the last year, it makes me sad and depressed, but when I remember all the good things that have come my way, it makes me grateful and happy, and I wonder why I should be so blessed. Look at your own life. Certainly there are people who have had things better than you. But there are so many people in the world who have had it worse.

In conclusion, 2016 was just another year. If we are fair about our analysis, it was probably a better year than you think. It’s easy to remember the things that made us cry; harder to remember the things that made us laugh, but then again, pleasure does not cause traumas that scar our minds and hearts. Personally, I’m a bit of a pessimist. I think 2017 is going to be a worse year than 2016 has been. And yet, if we live through it, 2017 will also be a year of net good over evil.

When I started this essay I thought I might also go through and list all my personal failures and triumphs, but you know what, that’s just too damn much to think about. I could probably write all day and night, and not finish that list. I suffered through the bad times and rejoiced in the good times. They followed each other with lows and highs alternating like some kind of sine wave or stock market chart. Everybody has had some bad times, and I hope, some good times last year. The point is to live through the bad times, and live for the good times.Think about it! Did you have good times last year? Did you smile at all? Did you laugh? Did you eat something delicious? Did you see a new place? Did you make anyone happy? Did you make a new friend? Did you create something? Did you write or paint or craft something? Did you give and get love from a pet? Did you feel God in your life? (Yeah, I know, God should come first, and She came last in my list. I am so self-centered. But, all you religious nuts (smile), I did remember God, and I thank Her/Him/It/Them every day.)

In conclusion 2016 was a very good year for me. It wasn’t my best year ever, but it was not my worst either. Over all, it was a better than average year, and I will not revile it. I hope you can see my point, and say the same.

Ken St. Andre, Christmas Day, 2016.

Advertisements

Posted December 25, 2016 by atroll in Uncategorized

Unboxing the Invisible Sun   1 comment

Don’t¬† you love getting presents in the mail? Especially if it’s something you’ve waited a couple of years for? I complained. I wrote to the company. And finally, I followed instructions, and voila! my Kickstarter copy of Invisible Sun from Monte Cook Games arrived at my door. Woo hoo! I spent over $200 supporting that kickstarter project so I would get the good stuff. And last week it finally came.

InvisibleSunBox6.28.18

This arrived, a big cardboard box weighing close to 30 pounds. I could hardly wait to open it up and see what it contained. I knew there would be a big black box inside.

Sun0

This piece of paper on the outside of the black box gave me an idea of what to expect.

Sun2

First look at the big black box, packed in a tough plastic bag.

Sun3

I’m just going to switch to pictures now. There’s a lot of stuff coming, and I really can’t explain it all.

Sun4

This is a very complicated box.

Sun5

Sun6

Two large drawers up above and a stack of books down below.

Sun7

Big black envelope. Two weeks later, I still haven’t opened this.

Sun8

Sun9

Cosmic plan . . . Shades of the Cabala!

Sun10

Mystic map. Different realms.

Sun11

I glanced inside. I haven’t really read it yet. I’m almost afraid to.

Sun12

Sun13

One thing we know about paths to enlightenment: THEY NEVER RUN STRAIGHT.

 

Sun14

Sun15

I haven’t opened this.

Sun16

I haven’t opened this either.

Sun17

Book marks.

Sun18

Objects! My favorite is the human-sized mystic hand. It is made of heavy plastic–almost feels like wood. This is sitting on top of my favorite bookcase right now. I have no idea what the cubes are needed for.

Sun19

4 decks of cards labeled Objects of Power. I have not opened them.

Sun20

Note that this is a left hand. Typically in occult lore, the left-hand path is associated with the demonology and dark, probably evil, spirits.

Sun21

Props remain to be discovered also.

Sun22

More props, more decks of cards–13 of them, surely no coincidence. Fancy poly-dice in the baggie at bottom right.

Sun23

Map of the City of Satyrine.

Sun24

We’ve seen this path before. This time it’s printed on cloth.

Sun25

More realia–physical objects included in the game. I like the Sooth Deck. Sooth is another ancient word for truth. The images on it are dark and mysterious. It makes me think of tarot decks.

Sun26

The most impressive prop in the whole huge box of stuff has to be the Hand. It now sits on top of all my most important game books.

I got a lot for my kickstarter pledge to Monte Cook Games. I am more than satisfied as a game collector with this product. Awesome is an adjective that scarcely does Invisible Sun justice. There are weeks of exploration left to me before I will feel capable of running this game for players. My game designer’s hat is off and held humbly in tribute to Monte Cook and his game designers and developers for this product. It leads me to believe that other Monte Cook games and projects are equally complex and interesting.

I may have bitten off more than I can swallow here. Wow!

Pray excuse the amateurish photography. I did it all myself with my cell phone.

End

P.S. If you own or have played Invisible Sun, please feel free to leave a comment.

–Ken St. Andre, July 7, 2018

 

Posted July 7, 2018 by atroll in Uncategorized

Buca di Beppo–Bathroom of Horrors.   Leave a comment

BdB6.17.18entrance

I haven’t shared an adventure with you, friends, since September 2017. I am so goddamn lazy. But I promise that will change. Gonna get back to doing a blog at least once a month. So, let’s start with something moderately amusing, and slightly off-color. After all, I am Atroll.

I spent the week of June 12 through June 18 in Columbus, Ohio, for the 2018 Origins Game Convention. When I attend such functions, it’s usually about demonstrating Tunnels and Trolls and selling stuff, but this year I had a different purpose. To avoid bragging, I won’t tell you why I was there–you can go check my wikipedia article if you really want to know. ūüôā¬† On the evening of Sunday, June 17, my friend, John Wick, hosted a dinner for his friends at the upscale Buca de Beppo Italian Restaurant. Of course, I attended it.

Now my adventures often consist of simply going some place and taking pictures. This is no exception. It’s really hard to get the camera or cell phone going in time to capture the true hair-raising life and death moments I experience on a fairly regular basis. So you will just have to imagine those and settle for the travelogues instead. The meal was fabulous; the company was witty, and we all enjoyed ourselves . . .

But the time came when Nature called, and I had to brave the deeper depths of this subterranean den of iniquity passing itself off as an upscale restaurant. Come with me now on a journey into insanity and depravity such as you have seldom experienced, probably never experienced if you are female. Be warned. Read on at your own risk.

BdB6.17.18BoH1

Why is this man smiling and winking? What lies beyond this door?

BdB6.17.18Blonde

Don’t be afraid! Wade right in!

BdB6.17.18BoH2hologramfish

The fish don’t bite . . . but she might.

BdB6.17.18BoHBroad

A shadowy figure leered down at me.  I felt exposed . . .

BdB6.17.18BoHPenis

Demonic creatures glared at me out of the gloom.

BdB6.17.18BoHelephant

Some were not human. Some might have been human once upon a time . . .

BdB6.17.18BoHZardoz

Scene after scene of degradation and horror emerged before my unbelieving eyes.

BdB6.17.18BoHBooty

BdB6.17.18Bottoms

A lesser being might have fled screaming from such horrors, but I am the Trollgod. I did my business and departed in my own time, knowing full well that Hell is never very far from Heaven.

BdB6.17.18nude

In the end, I came away with this very good advice:

BdB6.17.18BoHStop

The End

P.S. Have you ever visited the Buca di Beppo Bathroom of Horrors? Share with me, friend. What did you see?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted June 22, 2018 by atroll in Uncategorized

Wick Walk 9.13.17.   Leave a comment

My friend and fellow game designer John Wick has moved into an interesting part of town. We get together on Wednesday mornings to have breakfast and buy comic books and talk. On this Wednesday I persuaded him to come walking with me and this is what we saw. No, there isn’t anything very special here, but it is Your chance to come walking with John Wick and Ken St. Andre.

  1. Inside John’s nice cool new condominium. He’s upstairs getting a hat.

KenSelfy9.13.17WicksHouse

2. MonitorHorse. John has this strange painting at the foot of the stairs.

MonitorHorseALaWick

3. Phoenix is a desert city and these desert gullies are found wherever there are hills. I personally love these pieces of the landscape and often photograph them.

WicksGully1

4. I like to imagine that trolls take shelter in such places. Unfortunately, trolls aren’t very good about picking up their litter. I don’t throw trash in the streets or on the ground in the desert, but some people do. Grrrrr!

WicksGully2

5. The walk became more interesting once we got clear of the houses and onto a main street full of businesses.

JohnWick9.13.17

I told John to smile for his fans.

KenSelfy9.13.17Antiques

Here I am, smiling for mine.

6. We walked across the street and went into this store.

WesternAntiques

We decided to visit this western antique shop.

7. This next series of pix is taken inside and is just stuff that I liked enough to photograph.

MySaddle

If I owned a horse, and needed a saddle, I would get this one.

TheOldWest

Both of these men were heroes to some and villains to others.

Boots1

One room was full of boots.

KenSelfy9.13.17Boots

Isn’t this a kick in the head?

JohnWayneDummy

I thought this cowboy looked like John Wayne. Others though it looked like Ronald Reagan or James Arness. From the price tag on the shirt, I’m pretty sure the shop owners just dressed the mannequin in generic cowboy clothing, and it’s not from any particular movie.

Bonzo&LostToys

One room was full of antique toys. I wanted the monkey, but I couldn’t get to it.

Gene&Roy

You know I love old books. Here are a couple starring two of my boyhood heroes.

TrickDog

I like toys. I’d like to see this one in action.

8. We spent 15 minutes inside the antique store. That was the high point of the walk. Didn’t buy anything. After that we walked back to John’s place, got into his car, and went off to breakfast.

But that’s a different story. For now, this is the end of the trail.

Yeah, the walk home is almost never as interesting as the walk out.

JohnWick9.13.17Walking

********************************************************

If you’ve ever gone walking with me or John Wick, why not leave a comment? Or if you have pix of cool stuff you found in antique shops, then post them here.

End.

Posted September 13, 2017 by atroll in Uncategorized

Searching for the Wizard’s House   3 comments

Today is September 11, 2017. September 11 is Disaster Day or Emergency Day in the USA, ever since September 11, 2001. Today’s disaster on Disaster Day is Hurricane Irma in Florida.

But that’s not what I want to write about. I’m just setting the date for the benefit of posterity. If you’re reading this, then you are posterity. How does it feel?

A couple of months ago while I was walking I found a wizard’s house. ¬†I recognized it at once–it had all the telltale signs. Magical Guardians, hidden faces, spirits–definitely a wizards’ house. I took a picture of it, and I posted that picture somewhere. Only the gods could find that photo now. I had no reason to bother the wizard, so I did not knock or even try to make his/her acquaintance.

Today, when I went out walking, I decided on a whim to see if I could find the wizard’s house again.

I found:

WH-HiddenGarden

a hidden garden, guarded by a cat.

WH-WoodenCobra

a wooden cobra in a jungle full of ruins.

WH-WastelandWindow

a portal to a magical gem-encrusted wasteland.

WH-DragonSign

a dragon . . . or, at least dragon sign.

WH-HidingLeprechaun

a Leprechaun hiding in plain sight. He is just above my reflection in this picture, hiding among the leaves of the tree. Can you see him?

WH-EvilCatPerson

evidence that the world is full of evil cat-people, but that they don’t control everything yet.

WH-SecretSign

and a mystic sign that I do not fully comprehend, even though I am a wizard myself. (You may say it’s just a shadow, but that’s because you don’t understand the Lore of Shadows–they have their own existence, meanings, and powers that only Shadow Wizards understand and can manipulate. I’m not a Shadow Wizard–I only know they exist.

I saw all these many signs of magic in the world, but I did not find the Wizard’s House. That is often the way of Magic. It’s all around you if you open your third eye and see with the Second Sight, but when you search for one particular enchantment, then you cannot find it. Magic is elusive, and poorly understood, even by wizards. (As wizards go, I am among the least potent, but still, I have lore far beyond the knowledge of the Mundanes of the world.)

On my walkabout my path crossed that of desert wolves, (the human kind), beggars, wanderers, and workers. None would bother a man with a staff (me), at least not during the brightest part of the morning. They went their ways, I went mine, though I did stop and exchange a few words with an ancient bard. I asked if he could play that guitar he was carrying, and so he sang me a verse from a song about the magic of love. His guitar only had 5 strings, and it was very badly out of tune. I offered to buy him a drink (of coffee), but he asked for a dollar, so that is what I gave him. I said good morning to a one-eyed man (Odin? ¬†Odin, what are you doing in the desert so far from the cold northlands of Scandinavia?) ¬†I did not get photographs of either of these two archetypes–it did not seem appropriate to ask them.

And now I’m home again, thinking of all the Things That I Must Do today. I have been remiss in sharing my Walkabouts and Amusements with you, but here’s one. I hope you enjoyed walking with me.

*********************************

If you’ve ever run into Archetypes or signs of magic where you live, why not leave a comment?

–End

 

Posted September 11, 2017 by atroll in Uncategorized

2016: Things Published This Year   Leave a comment

Today is December 7, 2016. It seems unlikely that I will get anything else written and published this year, so let this be my record for the year. This is something I probably should have done every year for the last decade or more, but you can’t do something before you think of it.

Many people have done many wonderful things this year. I’m only documenting my own work, and only that which was good enough to merit professional publication of some sort. If you have done work ¬†you’re proud of this year, let me urge you to document it somewhere, just for the historical record if nothing else.

I found while I was trying to recall what I had accomplished this year that some of what I thought I had done was actually done back in 2015. Time flies when you’re having fun.

It turns out that I wrote and published 6 small manuscripts this year. There are 4 others that have not seen publication yet. (and may never, grrrr). ¬†There were a few blogs that I’m not counting, and thousands of tweets and poems and posts on Facebook–all just thrown off on a daily basis. I think I’d like to recover the poems, at least, not that they were any good, but they amused me at the time, and they might amuse others.

Published Works: You can buy these if you try real hard (and I would like that)

grimtinasguard

1. Grimtina’s Guard. Flying Buffalo. July 2016.

This is a T & T solo adventure in which you try to protect Grimtooth’s little sister, Grimtina, as she journeys through the Forest of Doom. The adventure features Grimtina as a very active NPC and has a few other tricks in it that I’m very proud of. Story and text by me; art by S.S. Crompton. Right now (December 2016) it is only available as a prize from MetaArcade.com and from me directly for $5 in the USA and $10 anywhere else in the world.

 

fairycoverfrontbig

2. The Fairy Spell Book. Trollhalla Press. November 2016.

This small book contains the origin story of both fairies and pixies in Trollworld along with a sampling of the spells that both kindreds cast. It is similar to, but not the same as the magic system used in the regular Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls rules. Art by Nicole Bresner who shows a lot of her stuff on Twitter.com. Available as a pdf from drivethrurpg.com and directly from me for $6 in the USA. $10 for the rest of the world.

 

trollhammer-large

  1. Trollhammer: Quest for the Crown. Rev. 2nd Trollhalla Press. October 2016.

Slightly reworked version of a mini-solitaire for Tunnels and Trolls to be compatible with the Deluxe T & T rules. You set off to explore a large cavern complex and recover the magical Trollcrown that gives mastery over all trolls. Completely re-illustrated by David Ullery.  New map by S.S. Crompton.  Available on drivethrurpg.com and directly from me for $6 in the U.S.A. and $10 in the rest of the world.

 

big-jack-brass

4. The Last Adventure of Big Jack Brass. Trollhalla Press. March 2016.

This is Tunnels and Trolls fiction based on an actual adventure played out by mail between Jon Hancock (creator of Big Jack Brass and Tom the Whelp) and me as the Game Master and Gristlegrim, the dungeon owner. It’s funny–the Abbott and Costello of fantasy gaming fiction, but the roles reversed. It is also the only current look at the inside of my Gristlegrim dungeon. I wrote up the story and got Darrenn Canton to illustrate it. This is currently only available from drivethrurpg.com.

 

capture-cover-jpg

5. Capture the Troll. Trollhalla Press. July 2016.

This is a game master’s adventure for a small group of adventurers sent to capture a troll for a mad wizard’s zoo. Art by Darrenn E. Canton. ¬†Available from drivethrurpg.com. Hard copy version is not currently available.

 

tombwarhammer

6. Grimtooth’s Tomb of the Warhammer by Ken St. Andre and S.S. Crompton. Goodman Games. August 2016.

This is a Game Master’s adventure written for the Dungeon Crawl Classic system owned by Goodman Games, but easily adaptable to almost any fantasy role-playing system. Adventure design and text by Ken St. Andre, original art by S.S. Crompton. This adventure is available from Goodman Games and other game sellers online.

 

Written but not published.

I’ve had some other writing projects during 2016. ¬†I hope to see this material published in 2017.

  • Naked Doom, rev. 2nd
  • Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon, rev. 2nd
  • Trapsylvania with S.S. Crompton.
  • Mongoni Island; a 7th Sea Adventure

 

A Few Words About Trollhalla Press on DriveThruRpg.com.

Much of my work this year (not that I ever work very hard) has been devoted to setting up and managing my own publishing house on drivethrurpg.com. ¬†I called it Trollhalla Press. It is an extension of the independent work I’ve been doing since 2011, and it now has about 10 items included. Steve Crompton and I designed a simple logo for it, and my intention is to make it a continuing small publisher for works related to Tunnels and Trolls. Please check it out here:¬†Trollhalla Press.

trollhallalogo

Trollhalla Press has published 2 things that I did not write, one last year and one this year. Last year I did Stefan Jones’ The Spell Book of the Gremlins. Text by Stefan E. Jones, art by Gilead.

gremlin-spellbook

This year I did Stuart Lloyd’s Alone But Not Afraid, a booklet of rules to help the player do better in T & T solo adventures. ¬†Text by Stuart Lloyd, art by David Ullery.

alone-solorules-large

Both books tie into my work to continue promoting and publishing worthy items for Tunnels and Trolls. I’m sure there will be others in the future. Both books involved a little work on my part to make them happen, but credit for creating them really belongs to the individual authors.

***********************************************************************

Everything I do has more than one purpose. This blog was written to document my work for 2016 so that I can promote it and try to earn some sales. It was also written as a challenge to you, dear reader, to look back and evaluate what you have done in the last year. Have you done great things? If so, please tell the world about it. If you haven’t done anything that you’re proud of in the last year, then let this be your wake-up call to do better next year. My friends and readers are, for the most part, amazingly creative people. I want to encourage all of you to express yourselves–make things and do things. ¬†Make the world better!

While I’m at it, I’d like to express my gratitude toward all the people who helped me do things in 2016. I’m only talking about writing and publishing here, but I recognize that is not my entire life, so know that my life would be empty without the friends and family who help me get things done. In publishing, the main forces this year have been Steve Crompton, David Ullery, Darrenn Canton, Nicole Bresner. ¬†Thank you all.

End.

 

 

Posted December 7, 2016 by atroll in Uncategorized

Running for My Life at GenCon 2016   1 comment

This year I wasn’t going to go to GenCon. I went to Origins. I’ve done my part to sell Flying Buffalo games and to fly the flag, but a funny thing happened in June. A guy named David Reid started a new computer gaming company called MetaArcade, and he wanted to license Tunnels and Trolls as his first app. He backed up that plan with real money, a dedicated team of computer professionals, and boundless energy, and he planned to debut his first prototype at GenCon. I talked him into using my Naked Doom solo from 1977 instead of Rick Lo0mis’s Buffalo Castle–mainly because B.C. has been used so many times already as the intro adventure for T & T. ¬†I still wasn’t planning to go to GenCon, but a month before the show, David got in touch with me, offered to pay my expenses, and argued that he needed me there for publicity. So I went.

And that is why, just for fun, I found myself running for my life at GenCon . . .

Running for Life Yeti

Help! There’s a yeti after me!

Running for Life Yellow Robot 2

Help! Bumblebee the Transformer is after me!

Running for Life Yellow Robot

Help! He’s still after me!

Running for Life thru City

Help! I’m lost in the City of Night!

Running for Life Junk Robot

Help! There’s a crazy robot after me!

Running for Life Cyclops

Help! There’s a cyclops after me!

Running for Life Blue Robot

Help! There’s a Warhammer Space Marine after me!

Running for Life Blue Troll

Help! There’s a stinky blue troll after me!

Running for Life Bear

Help, There’s a giant bloodthirsty teddy bear after me!

Running for Life Pikachu

Help! There’s a giant pikachu after me!

 

Heh! I had fun taking this terrorized tour of the GenCon Dealers’ Hall. There were many other great props and banners but, imho, these were the best. ¬†You’ll be happy to know that I did escape from all of those monsters. And you won’t be surprised if you don’t see me at GenCon next year.

***********************************************************************

If you were at GenCon this year, and saw some of these monsters, or took your own pix of them, why not leave a comment?

–Ken St. Andre, Aug. 10, 2016

Posted August 11, 2016 by atroll in Uncategorized