Archive for the ‘Liz Danforth’ Category

About Grimtooth’s Traps   3 comments

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.


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?


King of Spades   4 comments

It all started with this email:

from: Rick Loomis

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.

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?
Flying Buffalo Inc
PO Box 8467, Scottsdale, AZ 85252

which left me going “What?”

And then another email showed me things were already moving.

from:  S Crompton
to:  Rick Loomis <>
cc:  “Ken St. Andre” <>,
Bear Peters <>,
Liz Danforth <>
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.


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.



[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
to:  S Crompton <>
date:  Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 4:43 PM
subject:  King of Spades

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.
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.

[and I sent him these three pictures of me]

Ken with yott



from:  S Crompton
to:  “Ken St. Andre” <>
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.
and my reply:

Ken St. Andre

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.]

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.

Ken St. Andre

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.

S Crompton

Feb 27 (1 day ago)

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

Ken St. Andre

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, 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, 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

14 K Spades (2)

Ken St. Andre

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?

Ken St. Andre–Fantasy Cartographer   8 comments

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?


Not a Tunnels and Trolls Pantheon   5 comments

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.


Tunnels and Trolls Fantasy Calendar   10 comments

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

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

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

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

Art in the current calendar comes from:

Steve Crompton

Liz Danforth

Ed Heil

Katje Romanov

Miika Spray

Christa St. Jean

Robin Stacey

David Ullery.

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

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


My Tunnels and Trolls, Part 1   3 comments

I thought it might be fun to lay out a list of the Tunnels and Trolls products that I have personally written and are currently for sale.  So here it goes, more of a catalog than a blog.  These are just the games available on  I’ll also give you a bit of background on each one.

Deathtrap was the first solo I ever wrote, way back in 1976.  So early in my role-playing career, I had already gotten tired of all the wandering around in tunnels and passageways.  It seemed to me that all the action was in the rooms, so why bother with passages.  I give the delver a ring that magically transported him in and out of the adventure.  There were two rings.  The Frog Ring took the delver into a single room in the dungeon.  Solve that room and the player got out with a treasure.  Fail and die.  It wasn’t called “Deathtrap” for nothing.  The four-armed demon on the cover and the blade-handed bandit inside were actually “borrowed” from Marvel’s Conan comics as scripted at that time by Roy Thomas.  This dungeon produced a lot of characters with hands made of living diamond.  It was perhaps the least dangerous trap in the adventure.  The other ring was called The Lion Ring, and it sent you on the Trip of the Lion.  The character had to go through every adventure, one right after the other. I don’t know if any character or player has ever been good enough to go through all the traps and dangers of Deathtrap Equalizer.  Certainly, I could never do it.

The second solo adventure I ever did also shattered a stereotype–the one of the heavily armed adventurer or group of adventurers venturing into the monsters’ lair to  slay vermin and take their stuff.  I was all about shattering stereotypes back in the seventies. (Now, it seems, I may be all about perpetuating them. heh!).  It seemed to me that adventures took too long to get going because the players needed to “buy” stuff and equip their characters.  T & T offered lots of choices for equipping characters right from the very beginnning.  How could I speed that up?  One way would be not to give the character anything at the beginning of the adventure.  It’s a time-honored technique going back to such heroes as John Carter of Mars, who arrived on the planet in his birthday suit.  My artist, Rob Carver, took me at my word and drew the title character in full frontal nudity.  Back in the day there were plenty of books and magazines featuring nude  women in peril.  I figured if it worked for naked women, it should be the same for naked men.  Flying Buffalo publisher Rick Loomis was scandalized and disagreed.  Reluctantly, Rob altered the picture and drew in the loin cloth.  Adventure modules were in their infancy.  I think I may have been the first game designer to throw characters into an adventure with nothing but their wits to save them.  I may have also been first to tie two modules together.  Deep inside the Naked Doom Gauntlet of Criminal Rehabilitation there is a place where the player can find a Frog Ring.  If you put it on, the character was magically teleported out of Naked Doom and into a Deathtrap Equalizer Adventure.  I still like that trick, and you’ll find it again in The DewDrop Inn that was written in 2011.

A short solitaire adventure intended for Tunnels & Trolls. Do you have what it takes to be an Agent of the Death Goddess?  Khara Khang’s Random Rainbow Maze is a simple test for warriors who want to serve their Empress.  Show that you have what it takes by getting through it alive. Two simple strategies will serve you well–Fight! and Flight!  My personal goal for 2011 was to publish as many T & T solos as I could.  I wanted to start with something short and sweet.  I found a simple maze and filled it with simple traps and monsters.  Your task was to go in one end and come out the other.  I had also been dreaming about these walls where the colors faded into each other–orange to red, blue to green, sort of like a rainbow.  I had an idea of coordinating the colors with the difficulty of the traps–red being the easiest and violet the most difficult.  Oh, yeah, let’s tie it into the Khazan mythos somehow.  The result was Khara Khang’s Random Rainbow Maze, a mazingly illustrated by David Ullery.  The printer screwed up the first edition, and just photocopied it all on plain paper.  Grrrrr!  This is a good adventure for people just learning the game.

The classic Tunnels & Trolls supplement that lets the players play the monsters, defending their dungeon dwellings and other holdings from marauding adventurers!  Originally created for Howard Thompson of Metagaming, this twisted variant of T & T in which players were supposed to be the monsters, and to behave as evilly and chaotically as they could, only lasted for a couple of years there until Steve Jackson created The Fantasy Trip.  Not willing to publish 2 different fantasy rpgs, Metagaming decided to lose Monsters! Monsters!  I bought the rights to the game back for $300 and then cut a deal with Flying Buffalo to republish it.  Flying Buffalo did a low budget reprint with Liz Danforth’s beautiful cover reduced to two colors.  Rick sold out of his copies in a year or two, and Monsters! went out of print for at least a decade.  Rick Loomis often made noises about  updating and reprinting it, but somehow there was never enough money for it until about 2009 when a reprint edition finally came back into circulation.  A reviewer has pointed out that this is a Tunnels & Trolls variant, but that it features the original 2nd edition T & T rules.  Heh!  Will it ever get updated to the current 7.5 edition rules?  I don’t know.  I wouldn’t count on it.  So reading and playing Monsters! Monsters! is like time travel back to roleplaying as it was in 1977.  I’d like to point out that my idea of having the players be the monsters predated White Wolf’s World of Darkness monster-based rpgs by about a decade at least.

Well, that’s 4 of my products available at  I was just going to keep going until I had talked about everything currently available from them, but I’m tired of typing, so this is part one.  It is the usual chaotic St  Andre product–in this case 3 oldies and one fairly new item.  Straight chronology is ignored.  I’ve added a few notes that you might not have known about, and certainly wouldn’t have cared about, and when I can’t think of anything else to write about, I’ll probably do part two.

If  you have any comments about these adventures, the early days of roleplaying, or what  you’d like to see me write about next, then please leave a comment.


Forgotten Art   3 comments

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.