Archive for the ‘Game illustrations’ Category

Origins 2014–Lots of banners   Leave a comment

I spent June 10 to June 16 in Columbus, Ohio for this year’s Origins convention. It was a good convention for the gamers and merchants–nothing memorable for me. There really wasn’t much in the way of hall costumes. So, this year I’m devoting the blog record to the merchants and the signs that marked their booths.

 

I’m just gonna show some of the best booth banners and maybe a few other things that justified a photo.

 

Looking at the main concourse lobby on Wednesday morning befor the crowds arrived.

Looking at the main concourse lobby on Wednesday morning before the crowds arrived.

 

A distinctive feature of the convention center is this gigantic staircase that is seven aisles wide–three escalators in the center and two wide stairways on either side. When I felt strong, I climbed the stairs, averaging about 5 flights of stairs per day.

The Exhibitor's Hall before anyone gets set up.

The Exhibitor’s Hall before anyone gets set up.

 

HackMaster was just across the aisle from Flying Buffalo. Dave Kenzer is standing by the HackMaster Banner. I just wish Tunnels & T rolls had a banner like this.

HackMaster was just across the aisle from Flying Buffalo. Dave Kenzer is standing by the HackMaster Banner. I just wish Tunnels & Trolls had a banner like this.

 

Jolly Blackburn, creator/artist/writer of the Knights of the Dinner Table comic book poses heroically.

Jolly Blackburn, creator/artist/writer of the Knights of the Dinner Table comic book poses heroically.

 

My friend, Jolly, personifies all that is best about gamers at Origins. This is the single nicest guy in gaming, even nicer than me, and I’m as easygoing and friendly as you could ever wish. Jolly is better.

Here begins the great banners of Origins.

Here begins the great banners of Origins.

 

I’m not going to comment on most of the banners.

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I told these guys I expected some tribute because I’m the Trollgod, but it didn’t happen. They even stole my acronym, T&T.

 

Heh, I'm using this cartoon as my background on Facebook right now.

Heh, I’m using this cartoon as my background on Facebook right now.

 

Fantasy cartography is getting pretty great, but not for Mac owners.

Fantasy cartography is getting pretty great, but not for Mac owners.

 

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Ya think something might be epic around here?

 

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James Ernest is still the mastermind behind Cheapass Games. I had a good talk with him at a later time.

James Ernest is still the mastermind behind Cheapass Games. I had a good talk with him at a later time.

 

I demoed this game. It was kind of fun, like a g-rated version of Las Vegas.

I demoed this game. It was kind of fun, like a g-rated version of Las Vegas.

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This is a beautiful educational game that looks like a lot of fun to play. The designer and his family will be thousands of dollars in the red, and unlikely to appear again at next year’s Origins. Sad, but true. That is still the fate of most self-published books and games.

This guy is a talented artist. A lot of artists come to Origins. I don't know why. Gamers are mostly not interested in buying or commissioning art.

This guy is a talented artist. A lot of artists come to Origins. I don’t know why. Gamers are mostly not interested in buying or commissioning art.

 

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2014-06-11 19.05.18There was some great steampunk costumery stuff. You had to be rich to afford it.  $80 vests. $500 coats.

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2014-06-11 19.09.03Technically, this is more of a toy company than a game company, but you could certainly use these toys in games.

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2014-06-11 19.09.41Henry Lopez (seated, white hair) is a man who produces quality games. His Witch Hunter 2nd edition rpg is one of the few things I brought back with me from Origins.

Cute!

Cute!

 

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2014-06-11 19.16.14I’ve played King of Tokyo. It plays fast and is good fun. Brilliant game!

There were a lot of zombies at the show. Zombie games remain popular.

There were a lot of zombies at the show. Zombie games remain popular.

 

Steve Jackson games was there, of course, doing their highly irritating "Exact Change" song and dance whenever anyone paid with cash in the exact amount asked for.

Steve Jackson games was there, of course, doing their highly irritating “Exact Change” song and dance whenever anyone paid with cash in the exact amount asked for.

 

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Will Neibling Sr. is a Hall of Fame game designer with a deep interest in World War II and military simulation. He still runs his own game company.

Will Neibling Sr. is a Hall of Fame game designer with a deep interest in World War II and military simulation. He still runs his own game company.

 

 

 

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It was a big panel and took 2 photos to show it.

It was a big panel and took 2 photos to show it.

 

Arrrrgh!

Arrrrgh!

 

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3D open dungeon on display at the Kenzer booth. The pieces are modular, and can be built into any pattern you wish. Great for miniatures, and so pretty.

3D open dungeon on display at the Kenzer booth. The pieces are modular, and can be built into any pattern you wish. Great for miniatures, and so pretty.

 

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Where do they get those marvelous toys? I'm not in the Exhibitor's Hall now. I'm off in open gaming where the mini-gamers have set up.

Where do they get those marvelous toys? I’m not in the Exhibitor’s Hall now. I’m off in open gaming where the mini-gamers have set up.

 

If I had a lady, I would buy her one of these gamer jewels.

If I had a lady, I would buy her one of these gamer jewels.

 

2014-06-13 01.41.09

 

I do so love fantasy art featuring warrior women. Not sure I wanna be married to one tho in the modern world.

I do so love fantasy art featuring warrior women. Not sure I wanna be married to one tho in the modern world.

 

A good thing about the dealer halls these days are the many demos going on. Tired? Sit down and learn a new game.

A good thing about the dealer halls these days are the many demos going on. Tired? Sit down and learn a new game.

 

Speaking of warrior women, there weren't very many hall costumes, but this woman had the best one of all. Awesome to look at, and a killer smile when I talked to her. I wanted her so much.

Speaking of warrior women, there weren’t very many hall costumes, but this woman had the best one of all. Awesome to look at, and a killer smile when I talked to her. I wanted her so much.

 

This is what the main concourse looked like after Origins had ended on Sunday afternoon.

This is what the main concourse looked like after Origins had ended on Sunday afternoon.

 

Finally, a selfie picture of me just to prove I was there. Crom! I look more like a gnome or a goblin than a troll these days. Maybe it will look better if I grow my beard back.

Finally, a selfie picture of me just to prove I was there. Crom! I look more like a gnome or a goblin than a troll these days. Maybe it will look better if I grow my beard back. I started working on it for the whole week of Origins travel and show.

 

And that was my look at Origins 2014.  If you were there, and have a comment, please leave one. What did you like best and least about this year’s Origins?

–end

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Dwarves and Dragon   1 comment

I design games. It’s what I do. And not just role-playing games and scenarios. I can make any kind of game, out of virtually any kind of material. Before the end, I would like to show the world some of my other game designs.

Another TrollCon is coming up at the end of July.  20 or 30 people will get together in Scottsdale to play Tunnels and Trolls and other games and just have a good time.  I’ll be there.  This year I wanted to do something a little special for the people who come from other parts of the country to game with me.  So, I created this game.  I’ll give it to you if you come to the con. Otherwise, I’ll sell it to  you.

It's a simple game. Steal the dragon's gold!

It’s a simple game. Steal the dragon’s gold!

This one isn’t a complicated roleplaying game. It’s snatch and grab.  Cunning versus Power.  Would you like to try it out?  Are you clever enough, swift enough, to steal gold from a dragon?

The game will be available in pdf at the beginning of August.  In the meantime, if you’d like to have a hardcopy, send me an email.  The price will be $8 in the U.S.A, or $12 in any other country, and I’ll cover the postage and have it autographed by the artist and me.  Need a birthday present, or a Christmas gift for a gamer friend?  This could be a good option for you.

I’ll demo the game at GenCon, and we (meaning Flying Buffalo) will sell it there.  In the meantime, if you’d like a copy hot off the presses, send me an email: kenstandre@yahoo.com.  Or just paypal some money to me at that address.

If you’ve ever tried to steal gold from a dragon, or if you think stealing is wrong, why not leave a comment?

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

Two days later, and I’m back from the post office. I’ve just sent off some 42 copies of Dwarves and Dragons to the first people who were kind enough to order it. Those who are close to me should get their copies tomorrow, further away by Saturday, and the rest of the world before the end of next week.

If this game came in a box from Z-man or some other good-sized game producer, I might have included some extra components.  The game needs 1D6 in order to play. I didn’t put it in.  Who out there doesn’t already own dice?  Now that production is done, and I have a chance to think about it, it could be fun to make a couple of custom D6s for it.  I could have a Dwarf Die with a pair of eyes on it where the one should be indicating invisibility for the Dwarf when he rolls a 1.  I could have a Dragon Die with a Dragon head on it instead of a six to indicate when the dragon is breathing fire.  You don’t need special dice for this, but it would be nice.

There’s another component I expect the players to provide on their own: coins.  Three or more pennies can serve as the dragon’s hoard. Everybody can produce a handful of copper or silver to use as treasure pieces.  Or I could have designed some cardboard gold coins.  It’s another non-essential that would have driven production costs up.  If the game becomes very popular, which I am not counting on, it would be fun to design some fantasy coins for it.

Miniature lovers, Dwarves and Dragons is the perfect opportunity to use your minis in play.  If you have dwarf minis, you should use them; if you have a dragon mini of about the right size, you should use it.  You could also use the transparent stones/counters used in Magic and other card games for the boulders in the cave instead of the cardstock counters that I provided.  By taking the game out of the realm of cardboard and cardstock, and pushing it into the realm of realia, players could get even more fun out of it.

It’s sort of like using a fancy chess set versus using a plain chess set.  The game is the same, no matter which set you use to play it.  The fancy set is kind of distractiong at first, and you might not play your best game when admiring  your crystal queens and rooks and things.  I’d like to see it fancy, but I’m happy to see the game as it is.  It’s a start!

My 50 signed and autographed copies are almost gone.  Don’t let that stop you from buying one from me.  If I need more copies of the game, I will get more.  And I’ll sign and number them for  you. However, this first release is special, and I’m making the price as low as I can to encourage people to get one, and to reward those who support me at the beginning,  When the first 50 are all gone, the price will go up to what it really ought to be.  So, it’s a case of EARLY BIRD GETTING WORM, or early buyer getting a deal.

–end

GenCon 2011   4 comments

I spent most of last week–Aug. 2 through Aug. 8–at GenCon in Indianapolis.  Thirty or forty thousand gamers, dealers, exhibitors, models, musicians, and cosplayers were also there.  What a scene!  I talked to a lot of people, sold and signed a lot of Tunnels and Trolls stuff, and got some incredibly kind words and compliments from nearly everyone I met.  I had a blast.

Last year I devoted my camera work to people in costume.  The costumes were abundant this year also, but I’m not going to do that again.  This year, I just took a bunch of pictures, and each one reminds me of the fun I had.  Sit back and enjoy the show.

Rick Loomis and Corencio are having supper at Steak and Shake near the convention center.

Rick Loomis, Mr. Flying Buffalo himself, is my principal publisher and patron.  I go to big conventions like GenCon and Origins with him to help man the Buffalo booth and to promote Tunnels and Trolls.  This year I brought along my son Corencio to help with the heavy lifting.  We arrived late on Tuesday, set up the booth on Wednesday–that’s a miserable job as the convention hall is not fully air-conditioned before the show starts–and it’s 90 degrees and 200% humidity inside.  After setting up we all went over to Steak and Shake to have supper–yum!  I do love those double fudge shakes, and this is the only place I ever get them.

Three Amigos--Grimtooth, Shrek, and Trollgod.

Later in the day, I ran into my friend Steven Crompton, and Corencio took this  Three Amigos picture for us.  I didn’t expect to see Steve at the show, but he came to demonstrate his new Powers superhero trading card and sticker game.  Steve is an amazing artist–and the creator of Flying Buffalo’s Grimtooth the Troll character.  Steve is an Arizona boy from Scottsdale, and also a member of my <a href = “http://trollhalla.com&gt; Trollhalla </a> web fanclub for Tunnels & Trolls fans.  That gigantic ogre is really a foam rubber creation and lighter than it looks.  He was extremely busy taking pictures with Con attendees for the whole week.

Rick and Corencio teach retailers how to play Nuclear War.

On Wednesday night before the show we went off to demonstrate our games for retailers at Victoria Station.  We showed a few people how to play Nuclear War and Lost Worlds.  Wizards of the Coast hogged most of the visitors with their lavish spread and demonstrations of Magic ™ and their Dungeon Assault version of Dungeons and Dragons–not available for purchase, but playable by groups in game stores that sell their products.  Steve Jackson Games and Mayfair were also there in force.  I ignored the big companies pretty much–I’m there to see what the little guys are doing.

Typical of the small exhibitors was this company with their pirate miniatures game. Very nice toys they had.

Explorers back from the Center of the Earth.

When the show opened on Thursday morning I went around and talked to some of the dealers.  I most admired the ones who came in costume and wished I had more than an old Tunnels and Trolls t-shirt to wear.  Before it opened on the first day was the best time to see what was at the show–after it opened it was a shoulder to shoulder crowd scene most of the time.  That’s great for dealers, but not so good for rubber-necking game designers.

The Flying Buffalo booth number 501 just before the doors opened to the public on Thursday morning.

Flying Buffalo shared 1/8 of our booth with a small company this year that couldn’t get their own booth.  Studio 9 does small fantasy-themed card games.  Last year they released Treasures & Traps; this year they came out with Villagers and Villains.  People in the picture include Cameron and Lisa in the light green shirts, Bill who helped us in the booth, Rick in the command chair, and Corencio hanging around the back.  One of the few games I got at the con was the T&T card game.  I liked the initials.

Christian, also known in Trollhalla as Dupin, stopped by to say hi.

Death wandered around during the convention. He didn't seem to be taking anyone with him, though.

The Olde Guard was there in force. Here I am with colleagues Robin Laws and Ken Hite.

A member of Trollhalla demos my new DewDrop Inn solo adventure.

Trollhalla member Brrrennt gives A TRAVELER'S TALE a thumbs up plug.

Trollhalla member Kopfy shows off the latest two publications from Peryton Press–Elder Tunnels–Tunnels & Trolls fiction and games that don’t come from me and Flying Buffalo.  I think it is very good to have some outside support for my game.

Perrryton and Aarrra'aghaa are both members of Trollhalla.

Classic profile of a winner--later in the afternoon, Perrryton came and whupped Corencio, Brrrennt, and me in a game of Magic.

Brrrennt explains some of the finer points of the game to Corencio.

The convention center provided a couple of good places to simply sit down, eat, relax, play your games.  I spent a fair amount of time in this area gaming.  It wasn’t as noisy as the main halls, and food was close at hand in the form of small convention center cafes just out of sight.  I ran my one game of Tunnels and Trolls at this table on Friday afternoon.

I had to walk a mile for my supper on Thursday night.

When the dealer room closed on Thursday, Corencio and I joined some friends for a Mexican supper.  Afterwords, we went to their domicile for a Call of Cthulhu game–everyone died, but no one went mad.  Thursday was actually the first and the best day of the Con for me.  Flying Buffalo had a very good day for sales, and most of the friends I actually wanted to see at the Con came to see me that day.  Then we finished it all off with a game.  Can’t beat that!

Fast forward to Friday . . . We had so many helpers at the Flying Buffalo booth that I couldn’t actually stay there all the time.  In one way that was bad because some of the people who came to see and meet me actually missed me.  In another way it was good because I got out and saw more of the Con.

Friday morning found me at the Namaste booth where I went to see my friend Liz Danforth–she who is the very Goddess of Fantasy Illustration–and the creator of the classic Tunnels and Trolls 5th edition cover.

Dungeon delving is a blast.

Aaron wants to revolutionize MMORPGs. I'll help him if I can.

I’m in the picture here with John Harmon who is one of the artists at Namaste games.  He spent some time explaining their storyblocks system to me.  They brought Liz Danforth to the con for the first time in ten years, and signed her up to do concept art for the mmorpg they are creating.  I demoed their system, and I like it–very story based, and not so much twitch gaming like most of the runner/shooter computer rpgs you see these days.  I hope they succeed.

Liz Danforth (in purple) is talking to some of her fans.

It was great to see Liz out on the convention scene once again, and apparently having a good time.  On Saturday night Liz had supper with me and Rick and Corencio and Steve and Rick Roszco at the High Velocity Sports Bar in the Marriott.  That’s living the high life, folks.

Arch geekery with Steve Jackson.

Liz and I connected with the ever reclusive Steve Jackson at the Namaste booth.  Twas really good to see Steve again–it has been more than a decade since our paths last crossed.

LIfe-sized Robo Rally.

When I wasn’t in the dealers’ room trying to sell stuff or talking to people, I hung out in the convention lobby a lot.  In once place they had a life-sized Robo Rally game going for the whole convention.  It attracted a lot of attention and was beautifully produced.  Where do they get those fabulous toys?

Steve came by and talked business with Rick later in the day.

Richard Roszko is the Nuclear War apps developer for Flying Buffalo.

One of the people who helped out at the Buffalo booth was “Nomad” Rick Roszko.  He created the spinner map for Android cell phones for Nuclear War, and is working on a complete Nuclear War app.  The two Ricks think that if Apple Computing would only approve these apps, they would soar to undreamed of heights of popularity and richness.  C’mon, Apple, get off your butt, and approve the Apple I-phone version of the Nuclear War spinner.  Later you can approve the T & T cell phone interactive stories we intend to do.  Nomad took us all to dinner on Friday night at the Claddagh Pub.  Thanks, Nomad!

Saturday was Shadowfist Day!

On Saturday Corencio and I spent a lot of time playing cards at the World Championship Shadowfist tournament.  You may see me write about Magic a lot, but my real favorite collectible card game is Shadowfist–the game of Hong Kong action science fiction movies.  My son, Corencio, is currently the Arizona State Champion of the game–though I think he was lucky when he won that–and we tried our hand at the World Championship.  Now this is sort of typical of my life in gaming.  Here I was, competing for the world championship in a game, and there were only 14 other competitors.  Neither Corencio nor I even came close to winning–we didn’t even make the finals–but we had a good time, and saw some great players in action.

Do these guys look like kung-fu killers to you? The Shadowfist Championship tourney.

After the Shadowfist tournament I went back to the Buffalo booth for the afternoon.  Rick went off and ran a Nuclear War tournament at 4 p.m.–he had 30 players.  Ha!  He should bill it as the Nuclear War World Championship tournament at GenCon.  He might get 100 players if he did that.  When the hall closed a bunch of us went off and had supper at the High Velocity bar.  What  a feast!  But what will forever stick in my mind was the fact that they had television monitors in the Men’s restroom.  You could stand there doing your business and never miss a moment of whatever game was currently playing.

Sports TV heaven and the food was good too. I could not say the same for the Champions Bar in the other Marriott hotel down the street where I had lunch on Sunday.

We parked across the street from the football home of the Indianapolis Colts. The whole stadium is enclosed within this gigantic brick building with huge neon lights on the outside.

The City of Indianapolis has a lot of bizarre and impressive structures in it.  I would have a good time just riding around and photographing strange places.  The football stadium is one of them.  So is the church that follows.  I wish I had time and a local guide to get to know these places better.

Twin Towers--the top of the cathedral across the street from the convention center.

Go for baroque front facade of the church across from the convention center.

The church was so massive I couldn’t get it all into a single photograph.  Likewise for the stadium, and I didn’t even try for a photo of the power plant or the convention center itself or the state Capitol buildings a block to the north.

Some Uruks got lost in the Dealers' Room on Sunday--three of them.

Did I mention that the hall costumes were incredibly great this year?  They were spectacular and none were better, imho, than these lost uruks.  The leader, above, had this harsh rasping voice you could hear halfway across the hall, and yet he was the soul of courtesy and couth.  I tip the trollgod’s battered fedora to the Uruks of GenCon.

Looks real to me.

This fellow had an axe to grind--luckily not with me! I'd sign him up in a hearbeat to guard the trollcave at Trollhalla.

Sunday was the least eventful day of the trip.  I had lunch with my Trollhallan friends and said goodbye to them.  Perhaps we’ll meet again some time.  By 6 p.m. the Con was over, and we had packed the stuff we didn’t sell and were ready to head out.  This concludes my tale of GenCon Indy 2011.  It was the best I’ve ever attended.  All the dealers seemed to do well, and the gamers, cosplayers, etc.  all seemed pretty pumped up and pleased with it.  My congratulations to Peter Adkisson for running a great Con.  Long may it continue!

Goodbye to Indianapolis!

I know thousands of you were at GenCon with me.   There were a million other things I could have mentioned, but I’ve been working on this blog for half the day already, and I have to stop some time.  What did you enjoy most at GenCon?  I’d welcome your comments for this blog.

end

City of the Gods Revisited   Leave a comment

M. Scott Verne stopped by TrollCon last week, and played a game of Tunnels and Trolls with me.  In his honor, I winged something using a deck of Magic ™ cards and his latest project–the City of the Gods Map Pack.  When we were done, he gave me one, and asked if I’d review it.  Since this is a very handsome gaming accessory, I, of course, agreed to do so, and here comes the review.

If you don’t know about The City of the Gods by M. Scott Verne and Wynn Mercer you should take a moment and check it out.  They have a website for their book at http://Cityofthegods.com, and the book is available on http://Amazon.com.  I also reviewed the book in an earlier blog–you can see that here: https://atroll.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/city-of-the-gods-the-book/.  The map pack is not available at Amazon yet.

Although the book is epic fantasy, this map pack is planned as a gaming supplement.  It’s a generic product that could be used with any gaming system.  If you are the kind of Game Master who is chronically short on time and/or imagination, these generic products can be a real boon.  They provide settings and npcs that can be adapted into almost any campaign.  I should mention here that City of the Gods Map Pack is a Catalyst product from Flying Buffalo Inc.  (http://flyingbuffalo.com) As such, it is the latest in a series of products that included City books and Traps books, and you can learn more about them on the Flying Buffalo web site.

This module contains several different pieces.  First, there is a very handsome map of the city itself, printed on medium grade cardboard in full color.  Here’s a look at it:

How many quarters are there in a city? I'm counting at least 18.

The color is absolutely gorgeous, and you’ll be amazed at how much detail can be crammed into an 8.5 X 17 inch map.  The main attractions of the city are the major temples.  I mean, what are gods without their temples?  It’s almost like Where’s Waldo?  How many different famous buildings can you identify in this map.  The Great Pyramid of Gizeh dominates the lower left quadrant, but can you find the Parthenon, the Colisseum, the Taj Mahal or the Forbidden City?  Can you distinguish the different cultures and mythologies represented here?  For those of us with an interest in world mythology and history, the map alone is like a referesher course in the history of the world.

(As a side note, Mr. Verne pointed out that I have had an influence on the city.  If you look in the Egyptian quarter you will find the Sphynx of Nebthu, which was never mentioned in the novel FORGOTTEN.  It appears now because I mentioned the sphynx as the temple headquarters for Sekhmet the Cat Goddess in a short story that I wrote for an upcoming City of the Gods anthology.  Mapmaker and artist extraordinaire Steven Crompton liked the idea, and crowded it into his metropolitan design. Heh!  Of course I like the map–a little piece of me is in there.)

The biggest part of the module is a 20 page guidebook to the map.  If you look carefully at the map, you can find little blue circles with numbers in them.  Each numbered location, all 105 of them, is described and explained briefly in the guidebook.  Study them all, and you will really know your way around the city of the gods.  The guidebook also has a section that lists and describes the 18 character cards–all done in full color–that come as part of the package.  Each character is meant to be used as an adventure hook for a G.M. wanting to set a game in this environment,   The cards give the reader some idea of the appearance and powers of the different non-player characters that might be encountered in the city, and where one would be likely to find them.

The back cover of the book shows the extended map for the realm of the gods.

Eighteen character cards, each with a full color portrait, a listing of abilities, a probable location, and a deity allegiance are included in a separate little packet.  They would be ideal for showing players in a rpg just who they are dealing with.  Most of the characters are gods and goddesses, but there are a few that are just mortals or heroes.  Oddly enough, D’Molay, the protagonist of the City of the Gods, is not included as somene that you might meet.

trading cards of the gods

There is also an 8 page pamphlet in black and white with short excerpts from the first novel.  There is a 2-sided CotB bookmark featuring D’Molay and Aavi.  And there is a full-length comic book created by Steven Cormpton and Debra Kerr–Pantheon number 2.  The Pantheon comic features some of the same characters as City of the Gods, but in earlier incarnations–so to speak.

The whole map pack is very handsomely printed and a delight to the eyes and mind.  It is designed to appeal to gamers, and to lead them back to the novel, and to the sequels that are planned for that novel.  With a suggested price of about $20, this is a high quality gaming product.

I have only one criticism.  For someone who has already read and enjoyed the novel, there is really nothing new here.  The art is recycled, and the prose in the booklets and on the cards simply summarizes and condenses what we learned about the city in the book.  (That’s not strictly true–there are some places on the map that were either never mentioned, or mentioned only briefly, in FORGOTTEN, and that info should be new–but it’s obviously background material that the authors created for the main project, and it will probably be featured in the sequels.)  One of the first rules of film making is “Reuse your footage.” and that appears to be a rule of the City of the Gods project as well.  It is very fine footage, and well worth re-using, but it isn’t really new.

In a normal review I’d say this is a very fine product, perhaps four stars out of five, and recommend you purchase it, but this is Atroll’s Entertainment.  I make comments and critical remarks here without any recommendations.   The map pack amused and delighted me, and I was able to use it for a Tunnels and Trolls session–I’m glad to have it.  You might like it, too.

End

Dragons and Goblins and Trolls   1 comment

 
Creating fantasy games, reading fantasy novels and comics, and thinking and writing about such things are all things that I also do for fun.  Here are some slightly chaotic thoughs inspired both by Tunnels and Trolls and also by the card game known as Magic the Gathering.

Muscular Tunnels and Trolls goblins deal with a tentacled horror that lives in their lake. This picture was painted by and used here with the permission of Simon Lee Tranter. You can see more of his work, and possibly engage his services at http://www.simari.co.uk/.

Dragons and Goblins and Trolls!

Oh, my!

Dragons and Goblins and Trolls!

Oh, my!

DRAGONS AND GOBLINS AND TROLLS!

OH MY!

I think that I’m likely to die.

Oh my!

With a tip of the Trollish sombrero to A. A. Milne and Winnie the Pooh . . .

Yesterday I was talking a little bit about my latest Magic ™ deck–modified from the Dragons and Knights set.  Today it won some games against my son’s decks–lost some too.  I felt it did well, and the modifications were successful.  I still need to try it out against a variety of other decks.  Here’s a picture of my favorite dragon in the deck.

Voracious Dragon gets its power by devouring goblins.  I wonder where the card designers over at WotC got that idea.  To the best of my knowledge I have never read any fantasy story that used the idea of dragons eating goblins.  The great archetype for all fantasy role-playing games was Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Tolkien used both goblins and dragons in his book about THE HOBBIT, but they didn’t eat each other.  In fact, they were widely separated geographically.  The Hobbit started out as bedtime stories of John’s son Christopher, and featured trolls first, goblins, second, and Smaug the Dragon for the grand finale.   When Tolkien got serious about his fantasy, the goblins disappeared, and the main bad guys became Orcs.  Tolkien invented the Orc.

I’ve read a ton of fantasy–probably hundreds of different novels and stories.  I’ve never read about dragons eating any goblins.  If dragon’s eat anything, it’s usually domesticated animals, or the occasional human army foolishly trying to slay them.  But the very imaginative card designers at WotC came up with the planar world of Jund–a place where the two most common Kindreds are–you guessed it–Goblins and Dragons.  Dragons have to eat something, so why not have them chow down on the most common other critter in the landscape–namely, Goblins.  It makes perfect sense.

Dragons don’t seem to spend much time eating Trolls in fantasy literature either.  As far as I know, I’m the first person to even postulate the idea of a massive war between Dragons and Trolls.  I set it at the very dawn of Trollworld history.  Even then, Dragons wouldn’t eat my Trolls.  My Trolls are made of living rock–they would break the teeth of even the mightiest dragons.  Granted, the Dragons could melt my living rocks down into slag, but T & T trolls certainly aren’t good to eat.

Dragons and Goblins both feature prominently among the cards available for playing Magic.  There are dozens of varieties of both.  On the other hand, Trolls are few and far between, and not very interesting.  The only power the Magic designers have given Trolls is regeneration.  They all regenerate.  Kinda boring, really.  And there is something called Troll Shroud–the immunity to spells and effects cast by the opponents.  It’s a nice power.  I’d like to see it used more often, and more creatively.

Magic Trolls all seem to have been inspired by Dungeons and Dragons.  They are all what I call Meat Trolls–that is they are made of flesh just like you and me.  They may be big and mean and regenerate like crazy, but there aren’t any Trolls that I have found in Magic the Gathering that are actually made of living stone.  I protest!  Tunnels and Trolls is being unfairly slighted by the world’s greatest collectible dueling card game.  (grin)

Well, Dragons don’t eat Trolls, and Goblins don’t eat Trolls, but guess what . . .?  Trolls are more than happy to eat both Goblins and Dragons given the opportunity.  They especially like the crunchy calcium bones.

Dragons and Goblins and TROLLS!

This rock troll in a stone boat was drawn by David Ullery and is used by his permission and that of Trollhalla Press.

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The Stylish Blogger Award

A couple of days ago i was given the Stylish Blogger Award by two of my blogging friends who both run excellent blogs.  It looks like this:

This award is making the rounds.

While I appreciate the honor that my friends offered me with this award, it comes with conditions.  I’m supposed to link back to those who gave me the award, and I’m supposed to tell you all seven true things about myself.   However, I’m kind of grumpy and contrary today–I’m not accepting any conditions.  I don’t want to list seven true things about myself?  Pontius Pilate once asked Jesus “What is Truth?” and I repeat the question.  Nobody knows the real me.  I don’t even know myself.  I’m not going to do it.  I guess that means I’m not a Stylish Blogger.  To Hell with it!  I never aspired to that title.

To some extent WordPress controls what I can do in these blogs.  They limit me by the tools they provide.  I accept those limits in order to put my messages on the internet for anyone to read/see.  If I were more savvy about the tech, I could do more than I do with the WordPress tools–I really don’t know much–I can put up words and pictures.  Sometimes I can’t even get that simple format to come out the way I want it.  I’m a pretty lazy guy.  My motto is K.I.S.S.  Keep it simple, Stupid.  I’m Stupid.  I like things simple.

So, WordPress can limit my blogging form because the site is making the whole blog possible.  I don’t see why I should accept any other limits on what I choose to enter.  I’m only accepting my own self-imposed limits on what I share.  Just because some yahoo thinks up an award and it starts going around on the internet doesn’t mean I have to follow his rules for what I write.  I reject it.  I write what I want to write–tell you what I want to tell you.  You read what you want to read, and think what you want to think.  That’s our bargain as blogger and reader.

If you want to know more about the Stylish Blogger Award, and perhaps find the many stylish blogs that have accepted it, then Google it.  I’m opting out.

(The civilized and courteous thing to do with the Stylish Blogger Award, other than complying with its restrictions, would have been to simply ignore it.  Well, I choose to express myself on how I feel.  I’m neither civilized nor courteous today.  I am Atroll.)

End

Everybody Wants to be a Game Designer   1 comment

And . . . everybody can be.  Game Design isn’t Rocket Science.

Some games automatically turn their players into game designers.  Role-playing games are pretty good at this.   Once you have gone adventuring in someone else’s dreams and ideas, you inevitably want to be the person in controll.  Thus you will make up your own scenarios, and your own rules variations–that is, you will if you have any creativity at all.  A good role-playing game for testing your wings as a budding game/scenario designer is Tunnels and Trolls.

If y ou do not change the rules at least a little, you are not really playing Tunnels and Trolls.

 
But there’s one game that really makes game desiners of us all.  It’s a card game–you’ve probably heard of it.  It’s called Magic ™.  It was designed originally by Richard Garfield, a math professor in his secret identity, and it was published by a small company called Wizards of the Coast.  WotC became a big company after its card game became the most popular game in the country and perhaps the world.
 
Saturday I took my son off to Walmart to buy some blue jeans.  On the way out he spotted the Magic display, and, being gamers, we of couse had to check it out.  The best thing there was the Knights vs. Dragons duel decks–two complete decks in one package with the classic fantasy theme of Knights and Dragons–natural enemies.  He talked me into buying it.  He took the Knights; I took the Dragons.
 

What a pretty, pretty knight!

 
We played three game using the decks just as they came out of the box.  The Knights won two of them by crushing margins.  I barely squuezed out a victory with the dragons in game two of the set.  While we were delighted with the rare cards and mythic rare cards that came with the set, neither of us were very happy with the original decks.  So we modified them.
 
I felt that the Dragon deck needed fewer goblins, more kill spells, and a knockout punch.  It also needed some way to get the big guns out faster.  I added swamps, poison goblins, and kill spells like Go for the Throat and Terminate.   The deck as released by WotC was weak.  Too much land, too little actual magic, everything on the theme of flame.  Themes are great, but they don’t often win games or tournaments.  What wins are killer combinations.
 

Big, nasty, powerful--just like Dads are supposed to be in our real world.

 
What I did, in essence, was design my own winning scenario in Magic.  I’m thinking of beating those pesky knights, but I want it to beat everything.  Everybody does that with Magic.  The game invites you to use your own creativity.  It sells you the parts–cards with various strengths and weaknesses and abilities, and then you have to put them together to make a playable deck.  This is a real test of your game-designing ability (and cash).  How good is the deck you make?  Does it win or lose?
 
Regular card games like Poker or Bridge don’t make game designers out of the players.  The decks are the same for everyone, and so are the rules.  Creative, imaginative play will help you succeed in playing those games.  But you don’t design anything.  You don’t really create.
 
Collectible card games like Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, Naruto and others turn their players into game designers.  To make a deck you have to think about such things as Game Balance and Pace.  You want a fast deck to knock out your opponents before they can get going.  The Dragons had the greater power in the original sets, but the Knights were faster and deadlier.  To beat those Knights, I had to change the way Dragons fight.  Have I succeeded?  I don’t know yet, but I’m eagerly looking forward to a rematch.
 
Once you start thinking in terms of Game Design, it’s hard to stop.  Everywhere you look you will see pieces that can be turned into games and contests. 
 
After that comes the really hard part of the Game Designing life–convincing others to play Your game instead of Their game.  Somehow, your game has to be more fun than their game if you want to make any converts.  Good luck with that! 
 

We Game Designers all want to be dragons--powerful, influential, and known far and wide. But, we mostly wind up as goblins, and goblins are dragon food.

 
–end

The Rest of the Pix   Leave a comment

Lacking anything really important to say today, I thought I’d just put up the rest of the pictures from the Hobby Japan RPG anthology.

Cover art is so generic. This could be for any fantasy rpg in the book.

 

This may be the rpg version of Jack and the Beanstalk. That's a mighty big door.

 

Artists, when in doubt what to do next for your project, draw a beautiful woman. They go well just about everywhere.

 

And even better than beautiful women is naked women! The Japanese aren't afraid of the human body.

 

Let's switch universes! Armor styles have changed a lot.

 

I think I'd hate it if all the aliens I met were taller than me.

 

It's always the Dwarf male and the Elf Female. You never see it the other way around. I wonder why!

 

Moonbathing! This girl is going to have a moontan all over.

 

Time to Head for the exit!

 

That’s it!  You’ve seen everything in that gamebook.