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. 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.
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.
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)
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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.