Archive for the ‘Flying Buffalo Inc.’ Category

King of Spades   4 comments

It all started with this email:

from: Rick Loomis rick@flyingbuffalo.com

to: kenstandre@gmail.com
date: Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 5:37 PM

subject: Famous Game Designers/Origins poker deck:

Important mainly because of the people in the conversation.

Ken,
The votes are in, and you are one of the four kings this year. Sometime in the next month you need to send me a photo you’d like to use, and a list of the game design accomplishments you’d like to highlight. Also which king do you think is appropriate?
Rick
Flying Buffalo Inc  www.flyingbuffalo.com
PO Box 8467, Scottsdale, AZ 85252
480-945-6917

which left me going “What?”

And then another email showed me things were already moving.

from:  S Crompton sscrompton@cox.net
to:  Rick Loomis <rick@flyingbuffalo.com>
cc:  “Ken St. Andre” <kenstandre@gmail.com>,
Bear Peters <themancalledbear@gmail.com>,
Liz Danforth <etdanforth@gmail.com>
date:  Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 12:44 PM
subject:  Liz is the King of Hearts

Been working with Liz this morning  on her card for the Game Designer deck and we think it came out pretty cool.  I took this photo of her at my house the day we all did the photoshoot.  I added a new background and cleaned it up a bit and TA-DA – the Liz card.

KingofHearts

Ken – your next!  We keed a good photo of you wearing your hat, maybe with the T&T Gm Screen in front of you with a dark background… Or whatever else we come up with.

Onward!

Stee

[Note: I am showing these emails just the way they came to me, typos and all.]

When Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo needs a graphic production of some sort, he turns to his main man, artist/writer/compositor Steve Crompton. Steve is our main man for the actual physical production of Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls also.

On the following day I called Rick and asked what was going on. Rick told me that I got the third most votes of the possible game designers to be in the deck. Reassured by that, because I was afraid that it was just going to be a bunch of Flying Buffalo people this year, and in that case, I didn’t want to be part of such naked self agrandizement, I agreed to participate. Rick told me that he had been voted in also, but that he felt that was too many Flying Buffalo people in one deck, and so took himself out of it.  So, I called Steve, and talked to him about it, and he told me to hurry up and send him some pictures and the rest of the info.  Here is my letter to Steve:

from:  Ken St. Andre kenstandre@gmail.com
to:  S Crompton <sscrompton@cox.net>
date:  Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 4:43 PM
subject:  King of Spades
mailed-by:  gmail.com

Hi, Steve,

     If I get my choice, I want to be King of Spades. The word spade comes from the latin: spada meaning sword. Swords and sorcery fantasy is my life. Furthermore, in Bridge and many other cards games, the spades are ranked as the highest suit. Therefore, my King of Spades would outrank Liz’s King of Hearts. And why isn’t she Queen of Hearts instead of King of Hearts?
[Too much honesty here, but I decided to narrate this event as it actually happened and let the chips fall where they may. Actually, this shows a petty side of me that I’m not proud of, but it’s there, and it’s me.]
I’m attaching a couple of pix you could use. Pick the one you think is best. My preferences are shown in the order of attachment.
Games to credit me with: Tunnels and Trolls, Monsters! Monsters! Stormbringer. Wasteland, the computer game.
If you have room on the card you might mention Griffin Feathers and Rose of Stormgaard.
Best,
Ken
P.S. That really isn’t the best picture of me from the photo shoot. I’m thinking you might pull out one of two from last spring–I can’t seem to find them any more, and pick one with a full face shot in it. But I like the one with the yott. I’m doing my wizard impersonation there, and it does have the Trollgod’s Hat.
Ken

[and I sent him these three pictures of me]

Ken with yott

Ken_smiles

Keninwizardhat

from:  S Crompton sscrompton@cox.net
to:  “Ken St. Andre” <kenstandre@gmail.com>
date:  Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 1:36 PM
subject:  Re: King of Spades Ready for you to approv
Ken here is your card!  It took me some work, but I used the big picture you sent and made you look like a mage casting a spell!  Hope you like
Be sure to read the text and edit as you see fit.  Just remember there isn’t much room.
Steve
KingofSpades
and my reply:

Ken St. Andre kenstandre@gmail.com

Feb 27 (1 day ago)

to S
Hi, Steve, I like it. Tis a stunning effect, but I think it could be better. How would it look if you took out the rather gloomy blue background and photoshopped in either an erupting volcano? emeral green flames? or a fantasy city-scape?  See attachments, please. I don’t know if any of those would work better, but I’m thinking the whole thing is too dark, and a lighter touch in the background might make it better.
You know me, hard to satisfy . . .
Note: you probably can’t legally use any of these images. I include them just to put different ideas in your head.
[Note: I am not going to show you the three images I sent back to him. I have no right to reproduce them, and I only sent them along as examples of things I would rather see in the background of my card. They showed an erupting volcano, an elven city, and emerald flames.]

sscrompton@cox.net

Feb 27 (1 day ago)

to me
The idea is that you are in a classic dungeon, but I’ll see what else I migjt have that might work.
Steve

Ken St. Andre kenstandre@gmail.com

Feb 27 (1 day ago)

to sscrompton
And the idea works, but I just don’t like that gloomy blue background very much. Give me something with some red in it, please.
Ken

S Crompton

Feb 27 (1 day ago)

to me
All right take a look now.
Don’t forget to read the text too.
Steve
14 K Spades

Ken St. Andre kenstandre@gmail.com

6:20 PM (23 hours ago)

to S
It’s better, Steve. More symbolic, more evocative, more T & T.

Let’s talk about the text. It is not quite perfect.
The fact is that I was a co-designer on Stormbringer and Wasteland. I could make a case for being the primary designer, but other people were also involved and they were important.
So, if you’ve got the space, let’s change the last half of that credits sentence to something like: “and he was instrumental in designing Stormbringer (the RPG) and Wasteland (the computer  game).  That is probably too many words, but it is a more accurate reflection of the truth. Perhaps you can squeeze it all in by reducing the fontsize.
Or perhaps you could just say something different like:
Ken St. Andre, Credits: Tunnels & Trolls, 1975, Monsters! Monsters!, 1976, Stormbringer, 1981, Wasteland 1988, Trollhalla.com 2002, Tunnels & Trolls 7th edition, 2005, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls 2014
and in tiny little  2 point type at the bottom “and lots of other crap”.
You know, when you actually look at the record, I’ve done a lot of stuff in my life/career.
or another approach: Credits: Tunnels & Trolls (all versions 1975-2014), Stormbringer, 1981, Wasteland 1988, Trollhalla.com 2002-
Thanks for being so careful with it. I want it to be the best Kings card ever.

S Crompton

8:31 PM (21 hours ago)

to me
Ok here is an updated version with new text.
Please proof
Steve

14 K Spades (2)

Ken St. Andre kenstandre@gmail.com

9:27 PM (20 hours ago)

to S
That’s a great card, Steve. I am honored that you put so much time and work into it, and every other King in Origin deck history is gonna be so jealous. Thank you very much for all the effort you put into making this card.
[And that is the end of this story, dear Reader. I have given you a glimpse–the same glimpse that I’ve had–of what will be in the 2014 Flying Buffalo Origins Poker Deck. I’m very pleased to be included as a king, and shown you all what a pain I am to work with. heh!  I have no doubt that Steve remains hard at work finishing up the rest of the deck.  The man is the greatest workaholic I know.]
****************************************************************************************************************************
If you have ever obtained a Flying Buffalo poker deck at Origins, or if you’d like to get one of the older ones from me, or if you plan to come see Rick and me at Origins, why not leave a comment?
–end
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The Golden Age of Creativity   2 comments

I spent this morning having breakfast with my artist friend Steven S. Crompton. As part of our conversation, Steve presented me with this:

Grimtooth the Troll is having stern words with Alice Liddel while Demin the Domness flies by.

Grimtooth the Troll is having stern words with Alice Liddel while Demin the Domness flies by.

Among other things Steve is the prolific artist/writer of Demi the Demoness and the creator of Grimtooth the troll, who is a sort of mascot for Flying Buffalo and my Tunnels and Trolls game.  Recently he found some art of his that had never been published, or wasn’t seen much, and decided to bring it out as a book using drivethrurpg.com as his publisher.  He finished the unfinished parts. edited, and published it.  In the past there was not sufficient justification for releasing this material, but now that print-on-demand is here, and anyone can self publish through sites like drivethru, Steve can offer his material to the world at last.  If only ten people see it and buy it, that’s  still 10 more than would have seen it before.

I have to say I was so pleased and honored to be given a copy that I bought him breakfast, so in a way, I bought his comic after all.  Looking inside, I see that this is number 3 of 100 that he had printed, and that I have his autograph.

I usually get a slightly fancier autograph than this.

I usually get a slightly fancier autograph than this.

Once upon a time we would try for an author’s autograph as a way of proving that we met the person, or of adding value to our purchase.  It’s a form of Magick.  The Law of Contagion states that things that were once connected are always connected, so if you have something that is signed by the creator, then you have a personal connection to that creator.

However, I have come to believe that autographs serve a different purpose now.  In this age of personal publishing, when most of us creators are very small fish in a big ocean of creativity, asking for and obtaining an autograph is a way for we consumers to acknowledge and thank the signer for the work they did in creating this work of art.  It’s a way for us to personally recognize and tell the creator that we are glad to have met him/her and we really appreciate the effort they made to create the book/art/object, and that it will be one of our treasures.

Having a Ken St. Andre, or a Steven S . Crompton, or a Roger Zelazny, or a Michael A. Stackpole autograph isn’t going to make this book/object particularly valuable.  The whole idea that putting someone’s name on something increases the value is kind of stupid, really.  We’re all of us human beings, and we all have equal value in the eyes of God and the Law.  But, the autograph is another kind of memorial–it is a record of personal contact between signer and receiver–a moment of good feeling between the two people–one that should make both of them feel better.

So, I have made efforts for years to get things signed when i buy them.  I would keep the autographed stuff to the very end, because those books, pictures, comics, games, and so forth mark some of the high points in my life–a time when I was able to connect with a creator and tell her/him that I think they’re special.

This blog is dedicated to my very good friend, Steven S . Crompton.  I appreciate what he has given me and the world, and I want to testify that he’s a special guy.

_________________________________

If you’ve ever collected autographs, or have any kind of special feeling about them, why not leave a comment?

–Ken

Lost_Comics_BackCover

GenCon 2013   2 comments

I really didn’t have a plan this year.  i took my camera. I took some pictures.  Here they are.

After seeking out a CVS drugstore on the streets of Indianapolis, I spotted this awesome monument in downtown Indie that I had never seen before. More on this later.

After seeking out a CVS drugstore on the streets of Indianapolis, I spotted this awesome monument in downtown Indie that I had never seen before. More on this later.

Another shot. I went and stood in the middle of the street for this one.

Another shot. I went and stood in the middle of the street for this one.

Wednesday evening, i wind up demoing my new Dwarves and Dragon game. This guy is looking at the components.

Wednesday evening, i wind up demoing my new Dwarves and Dragon game. This guy is looking at the components.

That's me on the left, pushing the dragon around.

That’s me on the left, pushing the dragon around.

A slightly better picture. You can see the cover insert now.

A slightly better picture. You can see the cover insert now.

Thursday morning, walking around early, went to that monument I started the tour with and found this old church with its tall skinny steeple.

Thursday morning, walking around early, went to that monument I started the tour with and found this old church with its tall skinny steeple.

Doing my best to look awesome from above in front of Indianapolis's most impressive concrete.

Doing my best to look awesome from above in front of Indianapolis’s most impressive concrete.

Close-up.  Steve Crompton is acting cameraman for me.

Close-up. Steve Crompton is acting cameraman for me.

There's Steve, doing the Trollgod salute.

There’s Steve, doing the Trollgod salute.

Closeup of Steve. Doesn't he look kinda like a Guido to you?

Closeup of Steve. Doesn’t he look kinda like a Guido to you?

If there's something wrong in the neighborhood . . . who ya gonna call?

If there’s something wrong in the neighborhood . . . who ya gonna call?

I loved that monument. It had all this erotic, exotic statuary attached to it. Lady Liberty here looks like the figurehead of a ship.

I loved that monument. It had all this erotic, exotic statuary attached to it. Lady Liberty here looks like the figurehead of a ship.

Splash!

Splash!

Inside the convention center at last.  This is the entrance to the open roleplay area--dominated, of course, by That Other Game.

Inside the convention center at last. This is the entrance to the open roleplay area–dominated, of course, by That Other Game.

 -

-Out in the general hall, there were plenty of minis, including this fine castle.

I finally spent some time in the Flying Buffalo booth on the exhibition floor.  Several of my favorite comic superheroes stopped to chat with me.  Here's the Rocketeer.

I finally spent some time in the Flying Buffalo booth on the exhibition floor. Several of my favorite comic superheroes stopped to chat with me. Here’s the Rocketeer.

I met a beautiful barbarian. She told me 3 times what anime she was from, but it was Japanese to me.

I met a beautiful barbarian. She told me 3 times what anime she was from, but it was Japanese to me.

This booth babe looked so good I just had to take her picture.

This booth babe looked so good I just had to take her picture. She was guiding people into a room to try a new online game.

Men in blue robot suits--I don't get it, but these were fine examples of some of the hall costumes on display.

Men in blue robot suits–I don’t get it, but these were fine examples of some of the hall costumes on display.

--

Rick Loomis, Steve Crompton, and I participated in a gigantic Settlers of Catan game sponsored by Mayfair Games on Friday night.  It was an attempt to set a world record for greatest number of gamers playing a board game simultaneously–the same game.  We did set a new record. 922 contestants in the same game, and someone won it on turn 48.  I had fun, but didn’t come even remotely close to the prize money.  What you see here is a couple of people sitting between me and the screens where they projected the dice roll for each turn.

Saturday in the Exhibitor's Hall, Sir Lancelot stopped by to see me.  It was a truly impressive set of armor.

Saturday in the Exhibitor’s Hall, Sir Lancelot stopped by to see me. It was a truly impressive set of armor.

Last picture in my camera: Steve and Rick are sitting in the food court of the Indianapolis airport posing with the Catan map I got 3 nights earlier. While waiting for our plane back to Phoenix, the three of us played 3 Catan variants on it.  Kinda fun.  It's a pretty well-designed board for a small Catan game.

Last picture in my camera: Steve and Rick are sitting in the food court of the Indianapolis airport posing with the Catan map I got 3 nights earlier. While waiting for our plane back to Phoenix, the three of us played 3 Catan variants on it. Kinda fun. It’s a pretty well-designed board for a small Catan game.

And that’s it.  I told you I didn’t do a very good job of taking pictures this year, and I’m not saying anything about the 4 Tunnels and Trolls games that I ran, or the people that I talked to, or the delicious suppers I had at restaurants on the far edges of town. Yes, we ate once in Steak & Shake, and it was deliicous.  Other places, including a Denny’s not far from our hotel, were even better.  I brought home a few purchases, and samples that I picked up at the con–nothing very impressive.  Maybe I’ll show those off in my next blog.

Hope you enjoyed the incoherent pictures.  Please forgive me for inflicting this on you. And if you weren’t there this year, don’t you wish you had been?

If you have done a better GenCon blog than this, please leave a comment, and a link so others can see the Con from your point of view.

–end

Treated Like a God   8 comments

Last year Doug Rhea contacted me and asked if I’d be a Guest at NTRPG Con in 2013. (North Texas Role-Playing Games Convention). I agreed when I learned Rick Loomis (my main publisher, CEO of Flying Buffalo, Inc.) had also gotten an invite, it was certain that we would go.  The time came last Thursday morning at about 7 a.m.   The plane was 45 minutes late, but it was still god-awful early in the morning, and I didn’t get much sleep the night before. That was a pattern that would continue.  I didn’t get more than 3 hours sleep any night of the convention.  I’m home now, but Crom, I’m tired.  (Tried to sleep this morning, but couldn’t.)

Me thanking Doug for bringing me to the convention.

Me thanking Doug for bringing me to the convention.

We reached our destination early Thursday afternoon–a Marriott hotel near the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. The facilities were great.  There was a large open meeting with dealers around the edges and organized gaming in the center along with several smaller conference rooms.  The very comfortable hotel lobby had a dozen medium to large round tables with chairs available for open gaming.  The hotel bar and restaurant was right off to the side.  Rick and I had room 715 on the Concierge floor at the top of the hotel–a long walk down to the gamng area, but very pleasant.  The room was very clean and comfortable.

I spent Thursday afternoon meeting some of the other notables who were at the Con.  There were a lot of the real Old Guard from TSR present including Frank Mentzer, Tim Kask, David “Zeb” Cook, Steve Winter, and Jim Ward. Also present was Jeff Dee, Steve Marsh, Dennis Sustare, Erol Otus, and Sandy Peterson.  Other notable guests included Peter Kerestan, Doug Kovacs, Robert Kuntz, David “Diesel” LaForce, and Jeff Easley.  And many others.

Obviously, I brought my camera, but I didn’t really do a very good job of taking pix at the Con.  I missed a ton of the most important stuff that happened, and didn’t even really get many shots of things that I was involved in.  For example, I met William Meinhardt, the Deluxe T & T Kickstarter backer who paid $1000 to get my personal copy of the Tunnels & Trolls 1st edition.  Bill was very laid back and amiable. He didn’t actually get his prize until Saturday morning, and then he just tucked it away, said he was glad to have it, and went about his own gaming agenda.

Rebecca Heinemann and Jennel Jaquays.

Rebecca Heinemann and Jennel Jaquays.

Mongolians hard at work making my supper.

Mongolians hard at work making my supper.

Dinner--Mongolian stir fry--on Thursday night.

Dinner–Mongolian stir fry–on Thursday night.

The highlight of Thursday was going to supper with Rebecca Heinemann and Jennel Jaquays. When I knew these ladies in a former life back in the late 80s they were men.  The food was delicious, and the conversation sparkled.  We caught up with 20 years of missed history.  I learned a lot.  Rebecca and I had worked together (sort of) back when she worked for Brian Fargo of Interplay in 1987 and 1988 when we did the Wasteland computer game for Electronic Arts. Back in those days I wrote story and game constraints. S(he) wrote the code that made it all work.

Jennel was actually at the Con to run Tunnels and Trolls sessions.  She ran two sessions of 5.5 while I was running sessions of Deluxe.  Her players seemed to have a very good time.

Frank Mentzer running That Other Game.

Frank Mentzer talking about That Other Game.

Although there were a number of High Notables from the old TSR present, I didn’t actually spend much time socializing with them.  I sat in and listened to Frank expound upon the importance of story.  He introduced himself and we did talk for a few minutes on Friday morning.  I also listened to words of wisdom from Tim Kask and Jim Ward.  I autographed a 5th edition copy of T & T for Steve Winter on Saturday morning.  Most of the role-playing going on was actually That Other Game and I even participated in a session on Saturday morning (see below).  I don’t believe any of them took part in a T & T game, however, though I invited Time Kask to join my game on Saturday night (which he rather disdainfully declined) (bwa ha ha ha ha!).

Jeff Dee showing two of his newest games.

Jeff Dee showing two of his newest games.

Of all the game designers I met at the con, the one I got along with best was Jeff Dee.  Jeff is both artist and game designer.  He is also a funny and amiable guy who said some nice things about the influence T & T had on him when he was very young.  You can see some of his game credits spread on the table in front of him.  I spent more time with him than with any other game designer, talking to him on Thursday afternoon, and playing in his Cavemaster demo on Friday morning.  He’s a great G.M.  He makes being a caveman fun.  (I wanted a copy of that game and thought to buy one right at the end of the con before I left, but by then he had already sold out of all the stock he brought with him.)  He and his talented wife Amanda promised to send me a copy when they got home from the Con.  We will see if that actually happens.

Sandy Peterson (in the blue shirt and suspenders) running his prototype Cthulhu board game.

Sandy Peterson (in the blue shirt and suspenders) running his prototype Cthulhu board game.

I haven’t seen Sandy in 20 years.  But we were still on easy, friendly terms with each other.  His Cthulhu board game looked like enormous fun, and he was running it for people non-stop every time I saw him.  Alas, I did not get a chance to play it, but I want one.

Serving wenches,d Olivia and Jessica.

Serving wenches, Olivia and Jessica.

NTRPG con had the most wonderful innovation I’ve ever seen at a Con.  I think all small gaming cons should do it.  Serving wenches!!!  I was very pleasantly surprised on Thursday afternoon when Olivia (the dark-haired beauty) sought me out and told me that she was going to take care of me–if I wanted anything (within reason, i.e. food, drink, paper, messages run) that she would get it for me.  I wasn’t the only one she provided with this service–Doug Rhea and Michael Badolato treated their Guests like gods.  They not only paid our transportation and hotel bills, but provided food and drink at the hotel, and these ladies brought it to us.  Sometimes I worked with Jessica, who was also super sweet and nice–the con days were long, and they weren’t both on all the time.  They also provided this kind of mobile support for every guest of the convention, although the regular attendees had to actually pay for their food and drink.

Olivia was super kind and sweet to me, and I fell in love with her very quickly. I admit I flirted outrageously with her during the entire convention.  I made her laugh a lot, but I think I actually impressed her in a contest of skill and will on Saturday night (nothing unseemly happened)  (In the words of the song: Wait a minute, Mister, I never even kissed her.)  I felt like the Frog Prince to her Princess when she was around.  If I could win her love, I would have gladly made her my queen.  On the other hand, I was actually kind of the visiting dignitary, and she was part of the entertainment/service.  She was a gracious hostess; I cannot praise her highly enough, and I truly hope she took my flirting in the light-hearted, friendly, and worshipful spirit that i intended it to be, and not as harassment.  If she felt harassed, she was so professional and good about it that it never showed. She certainly made my convention experience memorable and pleasant, and I suspect she did the same for everyone she interacted with.  Jessica was also very wonderful–I saw her in action throughout (and  you will note that I took the time to learn both of their names and to spend some time just talking to them about more than my next meal or drink) and I cannot praise them both highly enough.

My one stab at playing That Other Game during the Con.

My one stab at playing That Other Game during the Con.

On Friday morning I took part in a Cavemaster demo that Jeff Dee ran.  On Saturday morning I wandered into this game of O.D.&D (Odd Death and Destruction?), where the Game Master (man in green t-shirt) gave me a rather low-powered dwarven warrior to play.  The game was slow, but had its moments of hilarity and fun–as any well-run rpg should have.  I got bored a few times and put my player on standard orders while I wandered around or performed my religious duties with earth and water elementals, but came back for all the good fights.  I called my dwarf Bertinernie.  My moment of glory in the game came when I managed to make a called shot and slice off the living statue’s hand–the one holding the evil staff–during combat, and then destroy the staff itself (which seemed to be sentient) on the following combat round.  Bert was the one who went back out to the flying ship and brought in a wheelbarrow to carry away all the treasure we eventually won.  I was also a voice of reason who argued that having gained a ton of loot, the prudent thing to do would be to retire and spend it for a few years before going back for more.

Doug Rhea presiding over auction.

Doug Rhea presiding over auction.

Late Saturday afternoon the premier event of the whole convention took place.  Raffle ticket were drawn and prizes were awarded.  Various people got goodies.  Old rare gaming stuff brought fabulous sums of money from the mostly middle-aged crowd of gamers present who bought things in the auction.  I bid a few times, but I did not manage to win anything at all.

Jeff Dee with trophy

Jeff Dee with trophy.

My friend Jeff Dee won the Con’s trophy/award for best new RPG of 2013 for his Cavemaster design.  It’s a 5 pound green dragon paperweight that would ornament any game room or fannish home.  When I later volunteered to store it for him, he told me quite firmly that he’d take care of the trophy himself.  I don’t blame him at all.  It was very nice. High quality! As were the other trophies awarded and and prizes associated with this con.

Auction.

Auction.

Auction. Saturday afternoon.

Auction. Saturday afternoon.

Even though I was at a Con, I tried to eat healthy foods. This combo of asparagus, wild rice, and chicken was my supper on the last night while running the Fire Dungeon for 6 players.

Even though I was at a Con, I tried to eat healthy foods. This combo of asparagus, wild rice, and chicken was my supper on the last night while running the Fire Dungeon for 6 players.

I included this picture for the benefit of my trainer, Julie Marsella, so that she’ll believe me when I tell her, that even though I was living the life of a godling with (almost) my every desire being granted, I still did my best to stay in training and eat healthy.

This was the last picture I managed to take.  My Saturday night session of Deluxe T & T where I ran 6 brave adventurers into The Chambers of Z’Tpozz the Mad Dwarf, which is the free adventure provided in Flying Buffalo’s contribution to free RPG day on June 15, ran late, and they failed in their mission to rescue the dwarven princess of the Fire Clan, but they had a great time trying to cope with the blazing challenges of the Fire Dungeon that Bear Peters and I designed especially for the project.

For a huge collection of pix from the Con, go to Facebook and look up NTRPG. I tried to make a link for you here, but it just didn’t work. You might even find a pic or two of me there.

I got to bed about 1 a.m. Sunday morning, I got to sleep about 3 a.m. Sunday morning. I woke up about 5 a.m. Sunday morning, and reached the airport about 6 a.m.  Our flight was delayed (again)  (I’m not very impressed, American Airlines.)  I got back to Phoenix about 10 a.m., and back to the Trollcave a little after 11 a.m., and now with the completion of this blog, the great NTRPG con adventure is over.

There was an odd thing about this con. Although the show was in Texas, the home of Steve Jackson Games, there was absolutely no sign of that great gaming company at the Con.  I didn’t see a single game of Munchkin played during the whole weekend.

Sunday evening is in progress as I finish this.  I’m off to Trollhalla.com to award the weekly bonus of TVP (Trollish Victory Points) to those who deserve them. I get to rest just a bit tomorrow, and get ready for an even greater con adventure that will begin for me on Tuesday, the 11th of June, when Corencio and I will join Rick Loomis on the annual trip to G.A.M.A.’s Origins national gaming convention in Columbus, Ohio.  I’ll be running some Tunnels and Trolls Deluxe while I’m there, and I’d love to see  you at the show.

If you’ve ever gone to NTRPG, or any gaming convention in Texas, or if you’ve ever played the trollish game with me, why not leave a comment?

–end

GenCon 2012: Part 4 (Saturday, Sunday)   Leave a comment

I come now to the end of my photographic tour of GenCon this year, the last few shots I took on Saturday and Sunday.

Another pretty Elf wandered by. There is no real connection here. I just like pretty elves.

An urban shaman/wizard also came by. I love the sunglasses as part of his costume. Cosplay is not just for the fem fans of the world. Guys get into it too, and they look good when they do.

Back to pretty elves. When I got away from the FBI booth, I wandered back to the authors area for some random socializing. Look at that lovely purple hair!

On Saturday night James and I were invited to an Apples to Apples party and contest. Even though it meant Rick would have to make an extra trip into town to pick us up when the party was over, he agreed, and we went to it, in vague hopes of being champion players and walking off with prizes.

Zatanna was at the party. James and I got to sit at her table for the first round of Apples to Apples competition. I did pretty well in that round, getting 10 cards in 20 minutes. I did not do so well when I switched tables and competed against others in the two following rounds.

At the end of the party, I got my picture taken with my piratical Apple buddy.

Later that evening we wandered into an open gaming area and found a giant-sized Catan game based on the U.S. map.

On Sunday morning I ran my last T & T game. Afterwards I posed with Mike and Rob, brothers who were both in the game. Rob’s son Jacob was also there.

Back in the Exhibitors Hall and the authors area, I stopped to chat with Chris (C.V.) Marks–a fantasy author of the kind of stuff I like. She always hands out chocolate bars as a lure to bring people to her table, and I was hungry. She lamented that she would have to carry her heavy pre-publication copies of her new Elfhunter novel away from the Con with her, so I asked for one, and made my Charisma saving roll. I promised to review the book afterwards. I’m currently reading it–about 6 chapters in, and it reads very well. Two pretty elven heroines are tracking down a monster. Look for a full review in a week or so when I get the book finished.

My last stop of the con was at Kenzer and Co. where I got a chance to chat with my friends Dave Kenzer and Jolly Blackburn.

Shortly after this picture was taken the Convention officially ended, the Hall closed, and we all packed up and went home.  I had an invitation to go to Sunday night supper with Tom and Robin Loney and some friends from FASA, but I was really too tired to go back into town for one last crowded and expensive supper.  Sorry, guys!  Anyone who wants to socialize with me at these cons has to do it before the last night.

We flew home to Phoenix on Monday afternoon.  I love flying west.  We left Indianapolis at 6:15 and arrived in Phoenix at 6:55, even though we spend 3 hours in the air.  That was all less than a week ago, as I write this now.  I was really exhausted by it all, and it took me 3 days to recover and get back into my regular routine of  posting things all over the internet.  I don’t think there are any more big conventions in the schedule for me this year, but I have a small one–CopperCon 34 here in Avondale next week.

–end

GenCon 2012, Part 3 (Friday, Saturday)   1 comment

I began Saturday with the resolve to take more pictures and do a better job of documenting GenCon.  It had rained during the night, and we overdressed in the morning because I thought it would be chilly.  I also put on my minimal steampunk costume–shiny vest, demonic badge, trollgod’s hat with goggles.  I looked like this.

Ya think the big convention badge kinda ruins the look?
But first let’s go back to late Friday afternoon.  After walking around the hall for a while, I got back to the Flying Buffalo booth to find this going on.

Stephen Conway is talking to Rick Loomis about games. I came in too late to hear much of what they said, but it made me jealous, so I talked Stephen into interviewing me also. His podcasts can be found here: http://thespiel.net/

I’m attracted to warrior women. I met this dangerous dame and got her picture.  She’s my idea of a living t & t adventuress.

I just love the look of this old Catholic church across the street from the Convention Center. I got this shot as we headed for the car Friday night after the Dealers Room closed.

Rick goes to Indiana and GenCon to sell games.  Sometimes I think I go with him just to indulge myself at Steak and Shake restaurants.  We don’t have them in Arizona.

There was a Steak and Shake restaurant right next to the Red Roof Inn where we stayed about ten miles south of downtown Indy. The food is mostly hamburgers, but the variety of shakes is exceptional and they are really good. I took this shot Saturday morning on our way into the Convention after breakfast.

The Wookies get really tall at GenCon. Half a day has gone by and another T & T adventure is behind me.

This dragon witch was one of my T & T players. When I saw her again in the convention hallway near the balloon dragon, I got her picture. She was the last survivor of my Seven Challenges adventure on Saturday morning.

On Saturday afternoon Rick Loomis did his Nuclear War tournament, in which he had some 48 competitors.  I stayed and watched the Flying Buffalo booth, and sold a ton of stuff.  Much to my delight, my most talented niece, Angela St. Andre stopped by to visit me and show me her latest work.  She is a sculptress, but she works with welding and cutting tools in metal instead of a hammer and chisel in stone.  Look at this beautiful notebook.

This awesome gaming notebook with its secret compartment for dice was created by my artistic niece, Angela St. Andre. It weighs about 20 pounds and is made of steel. It is lying in the midst of the Tunnels & Trolls material we were selling, including my largest recent solo: the Dewdrop Inn.

Angela St. Andre and her shoulder dragon. Lots of people were taking her picture. This young woman is seriously talented, and she loves gaming.

Here’s Angela with notebook and shoulder dragon. She didn’t buy these artifacts, folks. She made them.

After Angela left, Harley Quinn stopped by to see me. What a babe! Totally wasted on that Joker doofus, imho. Hey Mist-Tikk Foo-all, here’s a troll hammer for you.

Actually, Han Solo was walking around with Harley Quinn. GenCon is a very strange galaxy.

I only have about ten pictures left to go, so let’s stop the tour here.  I’m still at the Buffalo booth selling things, but Saturday was a great day for hall costumes.  In general, big gaming and sci-fi conventions are great places for cosplay.  The regular costume for such meetings is jeans and t-shirt, but the really cool people come in costume.  I’m not one of the really cool people, but even I have put together a costume for such occasions–you can see it back at the top of this picture essay.  I also bought an elven forester’s costume that I haven’t worn yet, just to have something special for the next masquerade I get to attend.

–to be continued

Dice   10 comments

This is an old set. The 2011 dice are gray.

Every year when I go to GenCon or Origins, I try to get some interesting new dice.   In 2011 I bought the GenCon polyhedral dice set for the first time ever.  In truth, I have no use for polyhedrad dice, except that I use D20s for life counters when playing Magic the Gathering ™.  But I must admit that they are intrinsically cool, and so I have some, and if I found a D7 lying in the street, I wold stop and pick it up.

Over the last several years I have watched as the dice available have gotten cooler and cooler.  My Tunnels and Trolls game uses D6es.  The Death Dice from Flying Buffalo are excellent for playing T & T.  Their gimmick is that the ones have been replaces by skulls on the dice.  Thusly:

These dice come in many colors. I prefer the black ones, but I like them all. Note the nicely beveled corners for better rolling.

Flying Buffalo has several other distinctive dice.  Many of them are gimmicks, good for a laugh, and not much else.  Examples include the Pizza Dice and Decision Dice.

Can't decide what to put on your pizza? Let the dice decide for you--one roll per person involved.

Need an impartial decision? Let the dice decide for you. Choices include oldest, youngest, alphabetical, owner, left, right.

Game Science, a company founded by Lou Zocchi, is famous for their many strange dice.  I saw some real beauties at their booth during Gencon.  The one I just had to buy was this everything die.  Each face has a value for all the regular solid dice.  See if you can figure it out!

To use this die, you have to be enough of a dice geek to recognize the different faces. Do you see a D6, a D4, a D20 and a D12 here. D30 is in the center.

Perhaps Zoccchi’s most famous die is the D100.  The first time I saw one, I knew I had to have one.  It is practically a ball, and you want to roll it in a box or something so that it won’t simply roll away from you and disappear into the far corners of the room.

I have a white one. Don't think it was available yet in black when I bought mine from Lou Zocchi in person.

While I’m talking about Mr. Zocchi, let me put in my belief that this man is the single greatest expert on dice and the creation of dice in the 20th century, and maybe the 21st.  It is an education just to hear him talk about what it takes to create a D100 or D30 or everything die.  Being an extremely lucky person, I have had these experiences.

Lou Zocchi, wizard, hard at work selling dice and games at a convention.

A big hit at GenCon were the so-called Iron Dice.  These were metallic dice in various colors–gold, silver, bronze, iron, coldsteel, etc.  They were gorgeous to look at, heavy as hell, and cost a fortune.  It was a minimum of $12 for a single die.  I didn’t buy any.  Don’t know what I would have done with them if I had, but they sure looked fine.

Nobbly and heavy. Talk about dice weapons. If you got hit with one of these, it would really hurt.

Dice aren’t just about numbers.  Sometimes they are all about pictures or symbols.  Steve Jackson Games is especially good at producing such monsterpieces.

Madness! It's madness I tell you, and the tentacles don't help.

Losing your sanity has never been quite this much fun before.  And if gibbering mindlessly to the Elder Gods doesn’t turn you on, how about the neverending quest for brains.  As food.  Yes, it’s zombie dice from the same lunatics that brought your Cthulhu dice and Flux.

The first zombie to collect 13 brains wins, but watch out for the shotgun blasts.

Well, I could go on, but by now you either see the fascination of dice collecting or you don’t.  I like them.  I have a lot of them.  I’ve invented several little games that are really nothing but dice rolling.  Tunnels and Trolls uses lots of dice, mostly because I like dice.

(I began this blog in August of 2011 shortly after GenCon was over.  I finished it on March 19, 2012.  Just goes to show that when one of my projects gets interrupted I have a very hard time coming back to it.  Sigh.  But, at least this one is done now.)

If you like any of these dice, or have some pretty cool ones of your own, why not leave a comment about them?

–end