Archive for the ‘Liz Danforth’ Tag

King of Spades   4 comments

It all started with this email:

from: Rick Loomis rick@flyingbuffalo.com

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

subject: Famous Game Designers/Origins poker deck:

Important mainly because of the people in the conversation.

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

which left me going “What?”

And then another email showed me things were already moving.

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

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

KingofHearts

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

Onward!

Stee

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

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

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

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

Hi, Steve,

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

[and I sent him these three pictures of me]

Ken with yott

Ken_smiles

Keninwizardhat

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

Ken St. Andre kenstandre@gmail.com

Feb 27 (1 day ago)

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

sscrompton@cox.net

Feb 27 (1 day ago)

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

Ken St. Andre kenstandre@gmail.com

Feb 27 (1 day ago)

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

S Crompton

Feb 27 (1 day ago)

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

Ken St. Andre kenstandre@gmail.com

6:20 PM (23 hours ago)

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

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

S Crompton

8:31 PM (21 hours ago)

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

14 K Spades (2)

Ken St. Andre kenstandre@gmail.com

9:27 PM (20 hours ago)

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

–end

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 http://drivethrurpg.com.  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 http://drivethrurpg.com.  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.

–end

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.

end

If you like Danforth’s art, feel free to leave a comment here.

An Old Treasure Revived   1 comment

Monsters! Monsters!

 

Way back in 1977, when Tunnels and Trolls was new–way back when roleplaying itself was new, a man called Howard Thompson, who ran a company called Metagaming, asked me to design a role-playing game for him.  What I came up with was sort of the flip side of Tunnels and Trolls–a game in which the characters played the monsters and competed with each other to do more monstrous havoc than the other players.  The mechanics were pure Tunnels and Trolls–same combat system, same magic system, same saving roll system, but all seen from the other side of the fight–all seen from the monster’s viewpoint.  Players could be Orcs, Trolls, Ogres, Dragons, or whatever they wanted.  The adversary victims would be Men, Elves, Dwarves, etc.

And Elizabeth Danforth (Liz to her friends) who had become my main T & T artist at the time did this stunning painting for the front cover of the game.  I don’t remember who paid for the artwork, probably Thompson, but somehow I wound up in posession of the actual painting, and it rested in my back room, quietly undisturbed for decades.  I think I must have paid Liz some money for it, but I have no idea now how much.  Maybe she just gave it to me.  We were close in those days.  I moved away from my old home of the last 3 decades, and as I move my stuff out, I keep discovering things–treasures!  This (and a whole ton of other art from the Day) is one of the best of those treasures.  Now, I just need to get it framed and hung.  I wish I knew how to do that.  I guess it’s time for an internet search.

–Ken St. Andre
–Jan. 3, 2012