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!
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: email@example.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.
39 years ago I helped start LepreCon, the first sfnal Con in Arizona. At least if anything else preceeded it, my friends and I had never heard of it, though we knew about cons in California and back east. Since then the number of cons has increased tremendously, and it reached a point where cons weren’t just for science fiction any more–they spread out into all sorts of related fields, like Gaming.
It all blurs together after a while, but I don’t remember going to any gaming specific cons before the 1990s. However, once the idea caught on, it became quite popular. This year, I have attended three Gaming Cons here in Arizona–VulCon I, Conflagration 1, and RinCon 2012. In addition, I have spent most of my con time gaming at DarkCon, LepreCon, ComiCon, and CopperCon. And those were just the cons in Arizona, which I tend to attend because they are close and don’t cost me much money. Out of state I went to Origins, OSRcon, and GenCon. And I’m planning on LaughingMoonCon on Oct. 20. That makes 8 weekends minimum spent at conventions, mostly gaming–slightly more than 1/5th of the year’s weekends up to my neck in cards and dice mostly.
Last week, Sept 28-30. I was in South Tucson for RinCon 2012. This southern Arizona convention is about 5 years old now, and I have attended it once before. This year the Con committee made me an offer I couldn’t refuse (a hotel room for my stay at the con–I’m easy, folks, you can have me for as little as a place to stay while at the con (grin)). My son and I went to the Con. I played Tunnels & Trolls twice, and a few other games. I was on two interesting panels with John Wick and Mark Truman who were the other major frp people at the con. We talked about such things as GM technique, things to keep in mind if you want to create your own frp game, and how the sport of role-playing has developed and is likely to continue developing.
I took my little camera along and took a few pictures, which I will now share with you. They don’t really make a story this time, but it should give you an idea of what it was like.
There was plenty of function space at the Airport Holiday Inn in South Tucson. About half of the gaming took place in this large hall. The dealers have an area down at the far end.
I broke a rule, and actually played That Other Game. Jim McKenzie, the big guy on the left ran Pathfinder for most of the weekend, and I sat in on a game Friday afternoon as a wizard. Had to leave after about an hour of play, and I got back just in time for the grand finale. My wizard wasn’t missed, and got to throw one magic missile in the whole game.
Although you will find I prefer my own Tunnels and Trolls to all other frp systems, I am willing to play other games from time to time. Really, it isn’t the system that matters. It’s the role-playing that counts and having a good time with others.
That evening, Jamie, the cutie on the right taught my son James, the blurry fellow on the left, and me how to play the World of Warcraft CCG. James won–twice. I prefer Magic ™, but if one were a WoW player (and I’m not), I could see how one might grow fond of this game.
James Ernest was the Guest of Honor at RinCon. James is an amazingly smart game designer of mostly board games, but he could do anything. We know each other, but don’t mingle that much. Here he is having breakfast at the hotel buffet on Saturday morning. Bacon, eggs, and orange juice–yum!
The major Event of the convention was a GM conference on Saturday morning from 10 a.m. till 1 p.m. 5 game designers including me down front and 20 to 30 people in the audience at various times.
Audience, right side, Matthew Nielson down in front.
Audience, left side.
John Wick sat to the right of me. John pretty much dominates any panel he is on.
John said he had designed 10 rpgs this year already. I said, big deal, designing them isn’t so hard. Getting them published and out to the gamers in an attractive format is the hard thing. John amended his statement to say he had published 10 rpgs already this year.
Mark Truman sat to the left of me on the panel. Mark is a game designer on the rise.
You won’t see any pictures of me at this Con, at least none that I own. I was always pretty much at the center of the action and looking out admiring the great works of other people.
RinCon pays its GMs in RinCoins–tokens that dealers have agreed to take as part of the purchase price of games. Alas, I spent my RinCoins buying more Magic.
This BEN HVRT (clever play on Roman letters and a movie title) looked like a lot of fun. It represents all the great games I saw at RinCon but never got the actual chance to play.
After 2.5 days of gaming goodness, RinCon came to an end on Sunday afternoon. While I was there I participated in a Pathfinder game, 2 Tunnels and Trolls sessions, a Settlers of Catan game, several rounds of Magic with my son, a WoW demo, a game of Gloom with my son, and a long session of Legacy the other t & t game (time travel and technology). It was a good weekend for gaming.
If you were at RinCon, or some other gaming convention recently, why not leave a comment and mention your exploits there?
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?
We have gone through about half of the Gameless Pantheon. There are still beauties and horrors yet to come. Let’s finish the tour of these godlings.
K!Ning, God of Torture. The letter N is or me the essence of paiN.
K'Bronzr is the god of heroes. You can just see that he's the kind who likes to go around defeating evil.
K'tring is the goddess of cats--a loose tribute to my wife Catherine at the time. She was, and still is, a great cat lover. And it could easily be argued that the tiger is the greatest of cats, or perhaps this tigress.
Lillitu was inspired by Lilith, Adam's first wife, she who went on to become the first succubus. She is a sex and pleasure goddess..
Maquuatl was mean to be a warrior god--I was thinking of the maquahuitl, the Aztec sword club made of obsidian and wood, but I was also thinking a bit of my friend Stephen MacAllister,who had the best beard of anyone I knew. I must have mentioned my bearded friend, and this is what came out--a wild hermit dervish instead of an Aztec warrior..
Minos, the bull god of strength is clearly a minotaur. Ernest Hogan and I were on the same page with this monstrous embodiment of virility and power.
Every pantheon needs a god or goddess to express the inexpressible, explain the unexplainble, and embody that which has no form. Ernest got off lightly by drawing his Nameless Spirit in invisible ink.
Nook-nook is the Creature from the Black Lagoon. He is the masculine God of Water and all watery things. As such, he is also a fertility deity.
As you can clearly see O is Adonis, giver of light and life itself.
Oxnard is the God of Dragons. You can see his name almost spells dragon if you look at it backwards and the number of letters is the same. Oxnard is also God of Fire.
Pyssyr is the Goddess of Water and of the Sea. Yes, there is a dirty pun hidden in that name.
Shagreen is the god of merchants and of money. The name came from shagreen leather, a rough knobbly form of leather commonly made from shark hides. As you can see, the association of merchants with sharks is a fair one.
Ttex is the Goddess of Justice and Balance. The name comes from Texas, Land of the Fair Deal/
Welbi is the Goddess of Medicine and Healing. With so many beings in the pantheon that would just love to hurt you, we need one that's willing and able to cure you. Yes, the name came from the tv show of the time--Dr. Welby.
Zlaz in the Lord of Shadows. Inspired by Roger Zelazny who was just starting the Amber series at the time, it seemed fitting to make the last deity in the list a master of Shadow.
And that’s it, my friends, a pantheon of deities that never existed, tributes to the things I thought about back then. As a writer, I have only words, only feeble concepts to express their glory and importance. But my artistic friend Ernest had much more. He had then, and still has as far as I can tell, a weird and unusual way of looking at the world. He showed me things in my godlings that I could never have imagined for myself. Thank you, Ernest.
If you worship any of these strange gods, perhaps under different names, feel free to leave a comment.