Normally, my blogs start here and go to Twitter and Facebook, but this is something I wrote on Facebook this morning that I think might be worth preserving as a blog here. Putting it here also gives me a good excuse to expand and elaborate a little more.
This is a another project in which I have a minimal involvement, but can actually claim that it wouldn’t have happened if not for me. Ok, secret history time. Things actually start with Rick Loomis. In 1975, Rick was running a play-by-mail game called Starweb, and he published an irregular newsletter for it called SuperNova. I became his editor for SuperNova. At about that time Dragon Magazine was taking off and doing great things and I began telling Rick we should do something similar to promote Tunnels and Trolls. I was already running the occasional sf cartoon in Supernova, so when I convinced him to make the jump to a better format we started a new magazine called Sorcerer’s Apprentice, of which, I was the first editor. I wanted some cartoons for SA, and my two dependable artists at the time were Liz Danforth and Steve Crompton. So, I asked Liz for a cartoon, and she did the first Grimtooth cartoon featuring a troll. From all that sprang the Grimtooth’s trap books. Most of the traps were created by Flying Buffalo (i.e. Rick Loomis’s employees). I wasn’t on salary, but was part of the crew, and I had a few simple traps of my own in the first book, and maybe some of the others–it was a million years ago, and I don’t remember. Decades later, this project appears, and I have a couple new traps in it too, and I signed a special autograph page to be inserted.
Now, I didn’t invent Grimtooth, and I didn’t create the Traps books, and most of the creation/work was done by other people, but . . . none of it happens if I don’t do Tunnels and Trolls and get involved with Rick Loomis publishing my game, and making me editor of SA. Liz Danforth came to work for Flying Buffalo because she and I met at the Phoenix Friday night science-fiction fans gatherings, which I helped Terry Ballard start back around 1970. When T & T needed to go into a second edition for its first publication by Flying Buffalo, I got Liz to do the art for it, and from those first fantasy pictures, she soon became the main artist for Flying Buffalo. And on and on. Everything is connected. So watch this, and support the project if you like the idea. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1409961192/.
I’m thinking you can really blame this all on Rick Loomis, as he is even more seminal than I am, but still, tooting my own horn for the sake of history, none of this happens without me–a claim that several other people including Rick Loomis, Liz Danforth, Joseph Goodman, and most especially STEVE CROMPTON.
If you ever used one of Grimtooth’s Traps, or if you ever contributed one to the 505 traps collected in this new release, why not leave a comment?
The map is truncated by the size of my scanner, so you don’t sea the far east or south parts.
Back in the day (the mid seventies) I used to draw maps for all the fantasy stories and games I made up. The Dragon continent of Ralf was originally created by James “Bear” Peters. When I started talking to him about the geography of places in Trollworld, he decided his Dragon continent map would be the perfect place to locate cities like Khazan and Khosht. Well, he made his map, and I made mine, and they only had a few things in common other than the general shape of the landmass. The numbers on the map correspond to the locations of various dungeons talked about in Flying Buffalo T & T products, but I couldn’t tell you which ones now. Liz Danforth modified the map again when I asked her to do an illustration for an article I wrote called Ten Days in the Arena of Khazan. Her map became the basis for the map inserted into the Crusaders of Khazan computer game, originally programmed in Japan, and then converted and released in the U.S. by New World Computing.
It’s kind of amazing how a creator’s original versions and visions of things can be modified almost beyond recognition by others who have to deal with the material later, and with a different point of view.
Look how much fancier the map got when the professionals got hold of it.
The computer game map is so large that to scan it all would require me folding it into sixths. Until Mike Stackpole invented the island city of Gull for his City of Terrors solitaire, the two most important parts of the empire were Khazan and Khosht. Here’s the computer game version of Khosht.
Khosht was meant to be the largest human city in this part of the continent. It was the scene of the first T & T adventures I ever played/invented/designed.
Oh well, this whole blog came into being because I somehow was not able to upload these maps to the Trollhalla wordpress page, which was very frustrating for me. I had some frustration creating this one also, but here it is–online where people can see it, and that’s all that matters.
If you ever drew your own map of imaginary lands, why not leave a comment and tell us about it?
I have been rescuing some of my juvenilia from a well-deserved oblivion. I figure that once I’ve published it on the internet, it will exist forever, thus assuring my own undying fame–heh. Well, actually, I figure that I took a lot of time and effort to creat this stuff once, and as I look at it now, I still like it. Maybe somebody else will like it too. Maybe it will make someone smile. I know it will make me smile to get a blog out of it. And so . . .
Once upon a time, long long ago in the late seventies, probably around 1977, I created a pantheon of gods and goddesses which I hoped to use in a complex astrological scheme for character generation in a fantasy role-playing game that would be nothing like Tunnels and Trolls or Dungeons and Dragons. Then I talked my friend Ernest Hogan into drawing them for me. Then Rick Loomis told me he had no interest in a different fantasy role-playing game–I should just stick with doing things for Tunnels and Trolls. Then the whole project died. But, I still have the drawings that Ernest did for me, and I like them. They are pretty damn weird if you ask me. For the first time ever, someone besides me and Ernest, who has probably forgotten all about these portraits, will get to see them.
Aa is the beginning, the maiden and the crone.
Ambr came from Roger Zelazny's Nine Princes in Amber--it represents the true reality at the heart of creation.
Amra was Conan's name when he harried the Black Kingdoms with Belit. Somehow Hogan thought it meant Dog, so Amrra became Man's best friend.
Bhahl is a reference to Baal, a demon god.
Bjorn was inspired by my friend "Bear" Peters. He is a were-creature, sometimes man, sometimes bear, and the god of carnivorous animals.
Blotar is the god of rough sex, something I dreamed about a good deal in those days. He degraded women and they loved him for it. He was also partly inspired by Bluto from the Popeye cartoons.
Bugsnak was the god of insects and disease.
Ceemdiceecee (C M D C C) was a pseudonym for my friend Liz Danforth. She is the Goddess of Art.
Deth is, or course, the God of Death. He has much the same look in many pantheons. Deth gets around.
Dyse is the Goddess of Chance. She personifies my love of rolling dice--in more ways than one.
Fandalgundarbugaloo is the Jolly Green Giant from the vegetable commercials. He represents the force of Nature and of all growing things. Logically, that makes him the God of Agriculture.
Festawg is the God of Bad Luck and Misfortune. As you can see in this picture, he is literally the Fool from the Tarot. I loved the tarot then, and I love it now. Several of these deities have counterparts in the tarot.
Gax-Arn was a demonic deity of evil. He represented all I feared from that other game. Gy-Gax. Arn-eson. It's a kind of tribute. In those days I didn't know either man. I later became good friends with Dave Arneson, but I never showed him this pantheon.
Gnivring is the God of Wisdom--one of the evil gods. The word is put together from gnashing and shivering--gnivring. Go figure!
This brings us to the halfway mark in the pantheon. Next time I’ll show you the other half of this unlikely set of deities.
If you ever met a deity, worshipped one, or invented one of your own, feel free to leave a comment below.
I’ve been doing science fiction conventions for over 40 years now. Part of any good con is the art show, and I used to go to them a lot, drooling over the art I liked, occasionally bidding, occasionally winning. Now the last few months I’ve been in transition to a new house, an apartment actually, and back to the good old bachelor existence. And I have been rediscovering some of the treasures I collected Back in the Day. Here’s one that I found last week.
Peacock Fan. Ink and colored pencils. Liz Danforth. 1977.
I don’t remember where or how I got this. I’m guessing I won it in an art auction in 1977 or 78, probably LepreCon–the first of the Phoenix science fiction conventions, and one that I helped start. My scanner wasn’t quite big enough to get the whole thing, so the brown part you see on the right is the mat. Back in the day, when role-playing was young, and so was I, Liz and most other artists would simply mat their works and put them up for sale at convention art shows. I hadn’t known her for long–she was like the second decent artist to appear in fannish Phoenix circles–the first being Rob Carver. Prices were ridiculously low in those days–an original piece of art would often start at $5–some of them had no minimum bid. I don’t know what I paid for it, but I was happy to get it. Then when I got it home, I discovered I had no place to put it. My wife would not let me put fannish art up around the house. So this piece of art nouveau went into the back room, where it graced a wall for a while, then got taken down and buried in a stack of other originals that I acquired over time. I have a lot of these treasures–most by artists who never went on to acquire the kind of reputation for excellence that Elizabeth T. Danforth has. In those days I wanted art for fanzines, for T & T, and just because it looked good, but most artists sold their stuff without reprint rights, and I never got to really use most of it IMHO, art should be seen, shared, and appreciated. When I found this again, I sent Liz a scan and asked her if I could share it on the web. She graciously agreed.
The Peacock Fan is very early Danforth, but you can already see the beauty of the characters, the gracefulness of line, and the balance of composition that characterizes her work. There is nothing overtly fantastic about this piece, but it has that fantasy feel. This redhead could be the heroine of any early 20th century fiction. She’s a real beauty.
If you like Danforth’s art, feel free to leave a comment here.