Archive for the ‘David Ullery’ Category

Tunnels and Trolls Fantasy Calendar   10 comments

You can find many different races (called Kindreds in T & T) on Trollworld. Here are three of the less common: Minotaur, Youwarkee, and Hunding.

Fantasy art calendars are commonplace today and have been for decades, but, I believe that Tunnels and Trolls was the first role-playing game to produce a fantasy calendar.  Flying Buffalo did one in black and white way back in 1978.  At least I think it was 1978.  I don’t have that calendar any more, but it featured art by Liz Danforth, Rob Carver, and a few others whose names I have forgotten.

Well, everything old is new again.  In December I upgraded my  personal computer to a Macintosh.  The Mac comes with all sorts of nifty software bundled with it.  One of the programs, Iphoto, includes the option of making your own calendar.  Back in January this began to look like a really good idea to me, so I did it.  With the help of my artistic friends, I have created a brand new fantasy art calendar with a Tunnels and Trolls theme.  For example, it includes Trollish holidays like Longest Night (Dec. 21) and Trollgod’s Birthday (Apr. 28) and Sky Dragon eats Khazan (the moon) (June 4).

The new calendar runs from March 2012 through March 2013.  The idea is to update it with fresh art every 3 months, and to sell the dates to help finance it and pay the artists.  You can buy one day on the calendar for $8, two days for $15, and three days for $20.  After that the pricing starts over.  Want your birthday on a beautiful fantasy calendar?  This is your chance.  Dates are sold on a first-come basis, so if you want June 5, and somebody already has that date, too bad.  Interested, leave a comment and I will contact you.

Art in the current calendar comes from:

Steve Crompton

Liz Danforth

Ed Heil

Katje Romanov

Miika Spray

Christa St. Jean

Robin Stacey

David Ullery.

Some very strange beings can be found in this calendar. This is the demon Bel-Zaratak as imagined by Ken St. Andre and rendered by Christa St. Jean.

If you’ve ever done art for a calendar, created your own calendar, or wanted to be on a calendar, go ahead and leave a comment below.

–end

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My Favorite Editorial   6 comments

That Frisson of Disgust, That Tingle of Fear

I haven’t been very good about doing blogs lately.  Either I’m not having that much fun, or I just can’t find time to write them.  I have been working on a fantasy art calendar for Tunnels and Trolls, and I hope to have that published in the next week.  Meanwhile, tho I’m sure I’ve run this editorial before, probably just last year, let me run it again, and I’ll stick some new art into it.

Two weeks ago at HuntCon, a friendly gaming get together here in Phoenix, I got to run A T & T adventure for 4 gamers.  We did, as far as I know, the first ever adventure in Dwarf World.  My players all had new characters.  I started them out in the frying pan–being chased by the Black Dog people (I invented the Black Dog people on the spot because there were two big black dogs at the party, pets of the host, who were hanging around with us gamers on the back patio) who simply wanted to kill them all, and they swiftly jumped out of it into the fire.

This was the first T & T game ever for 2 of my 4 players.  They were horrendously outnumbered, and in a terrible situation.  Don’t you just love it when you can set up a game like that?  Players really have to get creative when just running out and killing everything in their path isn’t going to work.

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Do you remember your first fantasy role-playing experience? Do you remember struggling to understand unfamiliar rules, the effort to fit your character into that of someone not yourself? Do you remember the dread with which you faced your first monstrous foe?

There has never been anything else quite like it, has there?

As you continued to play, you learned what to expect, and how to turn the tables on your Game Master. You learned how to balance a party of delvers to deal with all emergencies, how to anticipate traps, and trick monsters. You learned when to fight and when to talk. And as you learned all these things, your character found artifacts of power and grew ever more potent and dangerous.

And now that you are a 20th level wizard-warrior with a pet dragon capable of dishing out 6421 points of hit damage, spells capable of halting time or destroying a mountain, armor that can protect you from a nuclear explosion – now that you have achieved all your desires, don’t you find yourself looking around wondering where the next challenge will come from, and not finding any?

Wasn’t it better when you were just a first level wizard, agonizing over whether to throw a TTYF for 16 whole points of damage on that charging monster, and then hope the party can protect you until the combat is over, or whether to vorpal the blade of the best warrior and possibly strike a few blows of your own with the quarterstaff?

The truth is that we as human beings gain just as much pleasure from making small decisions and gaining small victories as we do from making earth-shattering decisions and saving the world. We are each our own world, and when you manage to elude that horde of MR-5 rats and scramble to safety, it is as good or better than causing the earth to open and swallow 20,000 attacking Ores. The first is just a personal triumph; the second example is history. But what do you as a person relate to more – personal triumphs or history?

There is no doubt that the longer you continue to role-play, the better a role-player you will become, and the more effective your character will be during the game. But when you can effortlessly wave your hand and destroy that hulking troll, the satisfaction is gone from the game. When you had to think fast, dodge, rig a landslide, lure it into a pit, the challenge and thus the fun was greater.

The Black Dog People probably looked like this.

Which brings me to my point – low level games are more fun than high level games. Being powerless and fighting for your life is more of a thrill than being godlike and annihilating the opponent. High level games turn into bragging contests, where players and Game Masters try to top each other with one super feat after another. Low level adventures are more the kind of thing you could see yourself actually participating in.

And that is why, in over 25 years of role-playing, I have never actually developed a character higher than 9th level. High level characters are like gods, and if I need a god, I’ll make one up (Gristlegrim, Lerotra’hh) when I’m the Game Master. Or. I’ll ask the current G.M. to do a divine intervention.

Then again, if a beginning character dies, you can always roll up a new one – no great loss! But if a high level character gets toasted, then you lose months or years of role-playing labor. No wonder AD&D allows practically unlimited resurrection of dead characters. It’s a power trip, and once you accumulate a fair amount of power, you really hate to lose it.

The solution to having the most fun, of course, is to retire those high level monstrosities – turn them into NPCs. Perhaps someone will encounter old Drax the Demon Dodger and get his help on a particularly difficult mission that all those first to third level types had no chance with, but your emotional investment is not tied up in Drax. Instead, it’s with Itchy the Kid who’s just finding his first magic kazoo.

Turn your high level characters into Kings and important NPCs when you run an adventure for others.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. High level games can be awesome, but low level games are a lot more fun!

Oh, and I’m happy to report that my characters got a chance to do something heroic at the end of the adventure.  They fought and killed an Obsidian Spider that was tougher than all of them put together, saved their Dwarf guide who had earlier saved them, and wound up with a fortune in rubies.  Then, since we had been playing for about 3 hours, I used a Deus Ex Machina device to wrap up the adventure in a hurry and end the game.  Everybody felt both tested and rewarded.  I thought it was an excellent way to introduce new players to T  & T.

If you’ve ever played Dwarf World, or have any opinion about high level vs. low level adventuring in frps, please go ahead and leave a comment.

–end

P.S.  All the art in this blog was done by David Ullery.  He has a massive new solo adventure available at http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=99174.  And guess what?  It’s for low level characters, and is lots of fun.

An elemental battle--delver versus hungry reptile.