Archive for the ‘Tunnels and Trolls’ Tag

TrollCon 2015–Part 2   Leave a comment

Saturday, July 18, was the second day of the Con, and it was better, for me, than the first, but I didn’t take as many pix.  Sorry about that . . .

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Early Saturday morning, I am ready to start playing some Tunnels and Trolls. Our Game Master is the jovial James “Bear” Peters, who informed us that he was awake at 4 in the morning making a new dungeon for us.  The place turned out to be a ruined tower that had been turned into a harpy nest. We had about  7 adventurers in the party, and though we didn’t completely clean the place out, or run into the big bad, we slew a lot of harpies, found enough loot to make the trip worthwhile, and got away with our lives, no one being even seriously injured. In my role as a wandering warrior adventurer, I count that as a major success.

This picture show me closest to the camera, then my son James St. Andre, then Hollywood scriptwriter Larry DiTillio in the blue shirt, and at the far end of the table, James Peters. The setting is the largest table in the Days Inn cafe area around 10 a.m. after the breakfast crowd had departed.

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Same general area much later in the day.  It doesn’t look like Bear and Larry have moved at all, but Larry has changed his shirt. At the table off to the right John Lach is running a game for James St. Andre, Mark Thornton, and Kris Miller.

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Jump back in time, we see Bear explaining something to Laura Samuelsson, one of the players in the first game. James is doing what roleplayers so often have to do–wait until the game action gets back to them again.  The waiting part of roleplaying drives me crazy, and is why I would much rather be the G.M. than a player.

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This is a look at the area where the convention was supposed to take place. But this room is full of very noisy computer gamers who are all playing StarWeb and Heroic Fantasy. Both games are computer moderated, though you cannot see the personal computers set up to handle the task, and another turn is due every half hour. The bald gentleman standing in the back is Rick Loomis.  Too noisy in here for us roleplayers, so we took over the cafe.

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In midafternoon I suggested that Mark and his family leave the convention and come see me at my apartment where I would run a game for them. Everyone was hungry, so we started to go to the new Lolo’s Chicken and Waffle Restaurant that was built in the hotel parking lot last year. The place was incredibly noisy and crowded and we didn’t go there. I may never know what  Purple Saurus Rex is.

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We wound up eating in the Scottsdale Denny’s restaurant 2 blocks to the north instead. You get to see what I had for supper on Saturday.

After that we got to my place where we had a most excellent T & T game in a single session that lasted a little less than 4 hours. I don’t think I want to reveal the plot of my adventure, but it took our players from a palace in Khazan to an evil black pyramid in caverns far below the city. I used a favorite GM technique of planting my own powerful NPC in their party so they would have a chance–just a chance, mind you–to survive and win through situations that were numerically too tough for them. Even so, it took much brilliant role-play on their parts to “win” the scenario, and they were all richly rewarded at the end.

Alas, we got no pictures of the action at my house. I will say I was proud to be able to host Mark, Charley, Kavela, and Kamea for a few hours. After all, I spent more than a week at Mark’s place in New Zealand a few years ago.

This Con report will be continued in part 3 tomorrow.

–end

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Used Game Sale at Imperial Outpost in Glendale, Arizona   3 comments

It was his party.

It was his party. Darren Johnson, the man in charge.

 

On Saturday morning around 11 a.m. I packed up a bunch of Tunnels & Trolls stuff and some Shadowrun stuff and went to Imperial Outpost game store on 49th Avenue and Thunderbird. A big game swap meet was planned for that location and time. Actually, it started at 10, but I didn’t get going that fast, and I should have. Earlier might have been better.

There were a lot of people at the Imperial Outpost–probably the greatest gamers in the western part of the city. I only know a couple of them by name.  I got a table. I set up my merchandise. I took some pictures. Here they are.

The stuff I wanted to sell.

The stuff I wanted to sell.

 

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Jason Youngdale, just about the only friend I had in the place.

Jason Youngdale, just about the only friend I had in the place.

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However, there was minimal interest in my merchandise, and I didn’t sell a thing in about 2 hours.  It would have been much more fun just to go as a customer. Sometimes the magic works; sometimes it doesn’t.

I took this selfie just to prove I was really there.

I took this selfie just to prove I was really there.

 

A lot of people had a good time at this sale. Darren says he’ll do it again next January. I think he’s missing a bet, and should do it once a month. He’s charging a small fee for table space, and getting a lot of people into his game store–win/win.

———————————

If you like to go to swap meets, or ever picked up games on the cheap, why not leave a comment?

–end

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.

 

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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

Laughing Moon Con 2014   Leave a comment

Today’s entertainment was a trip to Litchfield Park, west of Phoenix, for a mini gaming event held by a high school gaming club. It is called Laughing Moon Con, and is named after the Laughing Moon rpg created by Todd VanHooser, a high school teacher there. This is the second time I’ve gone.  I like it a lot. Go in. Do some gaming. See  your friends. Leave when you’re ready. No muss, no fuss. A good time is had by all.  I had my little camera and took a bunch of pix, and this is how I spent Saturday, March 22, 2014.

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Jessie Foster, leader of the Arizona Men in Black, is, I believe, the best known, and most popular gamer in Phoenix. He was the  fourth person I saw that I knew at the con, and the first to get his picture taken.
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I spent a little time teaching Purple Warrior Girl how to fight. Great costume and makeup!

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I spent a couple of quality minutes with my favorite pirate queen author. Her trolls aren’t quite as big and mean as mine.

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I invented anew game for the occasion. Troll Race used components from the Cave Troll game to serve as a board. Used some minis that Trollhallans sent me as game pieces. The combat system was rock/scisssors/paper and worked well. It was a game about trolls. It started as a race, but always ended in thuggery, with the winner of the last fight also winning the game.

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The Arizona Men in Black were playing Munchkin.

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Jim Miller spent his time playing Dust–sci-fie World War II action.

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You know, Frankenstein’s monster was a zombie.

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Kitt, the car in the old Knight Rider TV series, lives in Arizona now, and sometimes shows up for car shows and game conventions.

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Con Chairman Donald Jacques was promoting the upcoming (May) LeprecCon with firings of his home-made trebuchet.

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Don let me shoot it once. You see that tree behind the Con pavilion. My 5-pound shot knocked a piece out of it (just a branch) As a gunner, I was no threat to whoever might have been living in the target castle.

I spent a little over 3 hours at the Convention, had a good time, left when I got hungry. James and I went home, got some pizza, and went back to doing computery things–my life most of the time.  Wrote a blog, this one, so it’s time now to adjudicate turn 4 of the Dominance 12 game I’m running for members of Trollhalla.

If you’ve ever fired a trebuchet, or gone to a mini-gaming event like Laughing Moon Con, or hugged a pirate queen, why not leave a comment?

–end

Games I Got at GenCon 2013   Leave a comment

Going to GenCon is all about doing some serious gaming.  It’s also all about getting some new games and stuff to take home with you when the show is over.  Though I spent most of my time running Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls for gamers who signed up to play with me, I was able to spend some time networking, and I did pick up what looks like some pretty cool stuff to keep me entertained for the rest of the year.

The number one acquisition in terms of uniqueness was the two-player Settlers of Catan variant from the Big Game at GenCon.  that Mayfair sponsored on Friday evening.  Rick Loomis, Steve Crompton, and I all participated in this event, which set a world record for the Guinness Book of World Records for most players in a single board game.  We helped set a record with 922 participants in a single game.

We sat at long tables and played head to head with one opponent across from us. We could trade with people to our left and right on both sides of the board. Winner had to amass 25 victory points.

We sat at long tables and played head to head with one opponent across from us. We could trade with people to our left and right on both sides of the board. Winner had to amass 25 victory points.

Participants got to take the game home with them.  I got a map, a set of pieces in a beautiful purple color hitherto unseen in the Catan universe.  And I got the Catan cards: sheep, wood, brick, ore, and grain in one deck and the regular development cards in the other.  They have special backs to commemorate their importance to GenCon and the development deck has an extra card–1 victory point for GenCon.

These cards are just brighter and better looking than those in the basic game.

These cards are just brighter and better looking than those in the basic game.

Anyway, I was happy to play in this event, and I even got quoted and filmed talking about how cool the event was for a local newspaper on-the-spot blog. I found it online, but I was terrible, so I’m not going to give you the link.

Actually the Catan game was the only thing I got to play that I didn’t GM.  I did, however, acquire the following cool stuff.

 

Here's a game that lies dreaming until the stars are right.

Here’s a game that lies dreaming until the stars are right.

I was walking around the Exhibit Hall and stopped to chat with my old friend Charlie Krank.  We discussed Kickstarter projects for a minute, as Chaosium has done a KS this year roughly 10 times as successful as my own. He smiled and gave me this prototype version of the new Call of Cthulhu edition.  I have only skimmed through it, but Call of Cthulhu was always a great game, and the new version is going to be even better.

(Historical note: Sandy Peterson, who is a friend of mine, created The Call of Cthulhu game at the same time as I was creating Stormbringer.  They came out at roughly the same time, and wound up sharing the Origins Award for best rpg of the year.  I am a little bitter about that. I think Steve Perrin and I would have walked off with the prize of best rpg of the year if Sandy hadn’t produced his masterpiece at the same time–I wonder if he felt the same way about Stormbringer.  The two games are wildly different in concept, setting, and game mechanics but both have their adherents/cultists.)

I saw Sandy and talked to him a little at the North Texas RPG convention in Fort Worth in June.  He and Cthulhu remain the best of friends, and he was showing off the prototype of an Elder Gods conquer the world board game that had the most amazing pieces, and really looked like fun.  I was running dT&T, and he was running Cthulhu, so I didn’t get a chance to play in any of his sessions, but if he gets it produced, he is going to have another mega-blockbuster success with it.

In Call of Cathulhu, heroic cats oppose the efforts of various mystical forces to undermine human civilization and the feline rule.

In Call of Cathulhu, heroic cats oppose the efforts of various mystical forces to undermine human civilization and the feline rule.

I was talking to John Wick at the Independent Gamers Association booth when Joel Sparks came up and said hi.  He was showing off the mini-game that he made for GenCon, and when I saw it, I declared that I must have it.  It was his last copy, but, being the magnanimous and Great Guy that he is, he gave it to me, and signed it o me to prove it.  I gave him my product which was the reprint of Tunnels and Trolls first edition.

This game is brilliant, but cutesy.  Young people, especially young ladies with a fondness for cats, will love it.  I hope I get a chance to run it for some teens and pre-teens some time.  Original in execution, design, and writing style, this is a family friendly game that everyone can enjoy.

A new sourcebook for John Wick's decadent rpg: Houses of the Blooded.

A new sourcebook for John Wick’s decadent rpg: Houses of the Blooded.

The game trading between designers wasn’t quite over yet. When I promoted Cathulhu from Joel, John came back and presented me with the Wilderness manual.  He owed me one.  I had given him a copy of my new board game Dwarves and Dragon two weeks earlier at MaricopaCon.  I thought at first that this was another of John’s gamebooks–the man is so incredibly prolific–but it turns out that Wilderness is written by Jesse Heinig with some additional material by Fabien Badilla, Jessica Kauspedas, and John Wick (himself).  I probably know Jesse by sight, but I don’t know him well.  I do know all his co-writers well enough to  greet them in passing (grin).

This is a 193 page sourcebook for running Wilderness Campaigns for Houses of the Blooded.  Houses is primarily a larp rpg, and I participated in it for several months in 2012, helping to  create the House of the Boar as its first lord.  I doubt if any of my live-action role-playing had any effect on this book, however.  It is very well-written and contains some fiction by way of examples that is a total howl to read.

Dungeon delving isn't all rpgs. There are also board games and card games and card games that are board game like this one.

Dungeon delving isn’t all rpgs. There are also board games and card games and card games that are board game like this one.

Sunday was my trade-with-other-game-designers day.  You wait till the end to to this kind of gathering of free stuff because you want to give everyone a chance to sell all they can to the gamers at the show.  Aaron Kreader is a fantasy game designer who does very entertaining card game variations on the whole men and monsters in the middle ages theme.  He has also done Traps and Treasures and Villages and Villains.  He dropped the alliteration this time to posit the idea that there are Cosmic Forces involved in your average dungeon-looting expedition.  The Hero is the one that is trying to make off with the treasure in the dungeon.  The Guardian is the one that is trying to protect it.  Both sides work through minions.  The Hero force uses Adventurers.  The Guardian force uses Monsters.  When the Looters meet the Guardians, who will win?  Play the game and find out.

Aaron and his lovely wife Lisa epitomize everything good about the independent gaming movement.  They are friendly, funny, and absolutely immersed in the world of gaming–living the dream, and seem to be on the rise.  I wish them well, and am always happy to see them and their games at the conventions I attend.

You would never guess from the cover, but this is a game about starring in horror movies.

You would never guess from the cover, but this is a game about starring in horror movies.

Speaking of free things that just came to me, Crawlspace-13 materialized in my hands while talking to my friend Tom Loney on Saturday.  Tom is married to Chrstina Lea and is also a talented game designer.  They use their own Peryton Press to publish their designs, and they also do some Tunnels and Trolls publishing there.  I really like Crawlspace.  It appeals to the extrovert in all of  us–the idea of starring in a movie.  It gets away from the standard tropes of fantasy role-playing as if we all lived in Middle Earth or Trollworld.  It shows the American imagination at its finest.

(Just one thing, Tom.  If you hope to sell this wacky, fun game, you need to get better covers.  I am not really a fan of the understated look when it comes to game design.  What this really needs is a picture of Johnny Dep with a hatchet embedded in his skull grimly strangling Pamela Anderson while off to the side you see a movie camera and the silhouette of an overweight director yelling “Cut!”)

And this is the final Piece de Resistance of my GenCom games grab.

And this is the final Piece de Resistance of my GenCom games grab.

2013 was a good year for pre-release versions of games at GenCon.  The industry is so big now that it would be a full-time job to try and keep track of all the new games coming out.  I only really try to keep up with my friends, and even at that, I do a very poor job.  TOO MUCH GOOD STUFF!

But Christina Lea is a friend of mine, and a member of Trollhalla, and with her showing her newest game at the con, I felt I should support her efforts, so I made a point of buying a copy of  Qalidar: Resistance from her Peryton Press.  You would not think from looking at Christina that she would have such a weird imagination.  She is an attractive woman with a dry sense of humor, but inside these pages she comes off stranger than Madame Blavatsky.  That’s good.  I like WEIRD.  

Sometimes I wish my imagination was as good as those of my younger friends.  Qalidar is a marvelous name for a world, but in Ms. Lea’s hands it is more than a world–it’s a whole multiverse where everything is more than it seems, and GREATER SIGNIFICANCE fairly oozes out of the pages of text.

I have actually read (almost all) of the Resistance rpg book, and I have to say, I’m impressed, intimidated, and confused by it all.  Impressed by the concepts, intimidated by the creatures (this seems like a very difficult rpg to survive), and confused by why she would want to stay with the D20 style of game mechanics.  I associate D20 with THAT OTHER GAME, and so don’t care for it much.  Perhaps she thinks that is its strength.  Oh well.  I have gamed with Christina in her (sick and twisted) universe, and would be happy to return any time–D20 or not.

With all that loot, and considering that I sold out of 1st edition, Saving Fang, and Dwarves and Dragon, I would say that 2013 was a very good year for me at GenCon.

If you have any GenCon experiences, or comments on the good stuff you picked up while  you were there, or even if you didn’t get to go, and are just jealous of the glamorous game-filled existence of we GAME DEISNGERS (snort!), why not leave a comment?

–end

 

Treated Like a God   8 comments

Last year Doug Rhea contacted me and asked if I’d be a Guest at NTRPG Con in 2013. (North Texas Role-Playing Games Convention). I agreed when I learned Rick Loomis (my main publisher, CEO of Flying Buffalo, Inc.) had also gotten an invite, it was certain that we would go.  The time came last Thursday morning at about 7 a.m.   The plane was 45 minutes late, but it was still god-awful early in the morning, and I didn’t get much sleep the night before. That was a pattern that would continue.  I didn’t get more than 3 hours sleep any night of the convention.  I’m home now, but Crom, I’m tired.  (Tried to sleep this morning, but couldn’t.)

Me thanking Doug for bringing me to the convention.

Me thanking Doug for bringing me to the convention.

We reached our destination early Thursday afternoon–a Marriott hotel near the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. The facilities were great.  There was a large open meeting with dealers around the edges and organized gaming in the center along with several smaller conference rooms.  The very comfortable hotel lobby had a dozen medium to large round tables with chairs available for open gaming.  The hotel bar and restaurant was right off to the side.  Rick and I had room 715 on the Concierge floor at the top of the hotel–a long walk down to the gamng area, but very pleasant.  The room was very clean and comfortable.

I spent Thursday afternoon meeting some of the other notables who were at the Con.  There were a lot of the real Old Guard from TSR present including Frank Mentzer, Tim Kask, David “Zeb” Cook, Steve Winter, and Jim Ward. Also present was Jeff Dee, Steve Marsh, Dennis Sustare, Erol Otus, and Sandy Peterson.  Other notable guests included Peter Kerestan, Doug Kovacs, Robert Kuntz, David “Diesel” LaForce, and Jeff Easley.  And many others.

Obviously, I brought my camera, but I didn’t really do a very good job of taking pix at the Con.  I missed a ton of the most important stuff that happened, and didn’t even really get many shots of things that I was involved in.  For example, I met William Meinhardt, the Deluxe T & T Kickstarter backer who paid $1000 to get my personal copy of the Tunnels & Trolls 1st edition.  Bill was very laid back and amiable. He didn’t actually get his prize until Saturday morning, and then he just tucked it away, said he was glad to have it, and went about his own gaming agenda.

Rebecca Heinemann and Jennel Jaquays.

Rebecca Heinemann and Jennel Jaquays.

Mongolians hard at work making my supper.

Mongolians hard at work making my supper.

Dinner--Mongolian stir fry--on Thursday night.

Dinner–Mongolian stir fry–on Thursday night.

The highlight of Thursday was going to supper with Rebecca Heinemann and Jennel Jaquays. When I knew these ladies in a former life back in the late 80s they were men.  The food was delicious, and the conversation sparkled.  We caught up with 20 years of missed history.  I learned a lot.  Rebecca and I had worked together (sort of) back when she worked for Brian Fargo of Interplay in 1987 and 1988 when we did the Wasteland computer game for Electronic Arts. Back in those days I wrote story and game constraints. S(he) wrote the code that made it all work.

Jennel was actually at the Con to run Tunnels and Trolls sessions.  She ran two sessions of 5.5 while I was running sessions of Deluxe.  Her players seemed to have a very good time.

Frank Mentzer running That Other Game.

Frank Mentzer talking about That Other Game.

Although there were a number of High Notables from the old TSR present, I didn’t actually spend much time socializing with them.  I sat in and listened to Frank expound upon the importance of story.  He introduced himself and we did talk for a few minutes on Friday morning.  I also listened to words of wisdom from Tim Kask and Jim Ward.  I autographed a 5th edition copy of T & T for Steve Winter on Saturday morning.  Most of the role-playing going on was actually That Other Game and I even participated in a session on Saturday morning (see below).  I don’t believe any of them took part in a T & T game, however, though I invited Time Kask to join my game on Saturday night (which he rather disdainfully declined) (bwa ha ha ha ha!).

Jeff Dee showing two of his newest games.

Jeff Dee showing two of his newest games.

Of all the game designers I met at the con, the one I got along with best was Jeff Dee.  Jeff is both artist and game designer.  He is also a funny and amiable guy who said some nice things about the influence T & T had on him when he was very young.  You can see some of his game credits spread on the table in front of him.  I spent more time with him than with any other game designer, talking to him on Thursday afternoon, and playing in his Cavemaster demo on Friday morning.  He’s a great G.M.  He makes being a caveman fun.  (I wanted a copy of that game and thought to buy one right at the end of the con before I left, but by then he had already sold out of all the stock he brought with him.)  He and his talented wife Amanda promised to send me a copy when they got home from the Con.  We will see if that actually happens.

Sandy Peterson (in the blue shirt and suspenders) running his prototype Cthulhu board game.

Sandy Peterson (in the blue shirt and suspenders) running his prototype Cthulhu board game.

I haven’t seen Sandy in 20 years.  But we were still on easy, friendly terms with each other.  His Cthulhu board game looked like enormous fun, and he was running it for people non-stop every time I saw him.  Alas, I did not get a chance to play it, but I want one.

Serving wenches,d Olivia and Jessica.

Serving wenches, Olivia and Jessica.

NTRPG con had the most wonderful innovation I’ve ever seen at a Con.  I think all small gaming cons should do it.  Serving wenches!!!  I was very pleasantly surprised on Thursday afternoon when Olivia (the dark-haired beauty) sought me out and told me that she was going to take care of me–if I wanted anything (within reason, i.e. food, drink, paper, messages run) that she would get it for me.  I wasn’t the only one she provided with this service–Doug Rhea and Michael Badolato treated their Guests like gods.  They not only paid our transportation and hotel bills, but provided food and drink at the hotel, and these ladies brought it to us.  Sometimes I worked with Jessica, who was also super sweet and nice–the con days were long, and they weren’t both on all the time.  They also provided this kind of mobile support for every guest of the convention, although the regular attendees had to actually pay for their food and drink.

Olivia was super kind and sweet to me, and I fell in love with her very quickly. I admit I flirted outrageously with her during the entire convention.  I made her laugh a lot, but I think I actually impressed her in a contest of skill and will on Saturday night (nothing unseemly happened)  (In the words of the song: Wait a minute, Mister, I never even kissed her.)  I felt like the Frog Prince to her Princess when she was around.  If I could win her love, I would have gladly made her my queen.  On the other hand, I was actually kind of the visiting dignitary, and she was part of the entertainment/service.  She was a gracious hostess; I cannot praise her highly enough, and I truly hope she took my flirting in the light-hearted, friendly, and worshipful spirit that i intended it to be, and not as harassment.  If she felt harassed, she was so professional and good about it that it never showed. She certainly made my convention experience memorable and pleasant, and I suspect she did the same for everyone she interacted with.  Jessica was also very wonderful–I saw her in action throughout (and  you will note that I took the time to learn both of their names and to spend some time just talking to them about more than my next meal or drink) and I cannot praise them both highly enough.

My one stab at playing That Other Game during the Con.

My one stab at playing That Other Game during the Con.

On Friday morning I took part in a Cavemaster demo that Jeff Dee ran.  On Saturday morning I wandered into this game of O.D.&D (Odd Death and Destruction?), where the Game Master (man in green t-shirt) gave me a rather low-powered dwarven warrior to play.  The game was slow, but had its moments of hilarity and fun–as any well-run rpg should have.  I got bored a few times and put my player on standard orders while I wandered around or performed my religious duties with earth and water elementals, but came back for all the good fights.  I called my dwarf Bertinernie.  My moment of glory in the game came when I managed to make a called shot and slice off the living statue’s hand–the one holding the evil staff–during combat, and then destroy the staff itself (which seemed to be sentient) on the following combat round.  Bert was the one who went back out to the flying ship and brought in a wheelbarrow to carry away all the treasure we eventually won.  I was also a voice of reason who argued that having gained a ton of loot, the prudent thing to do would be to retire and spend it for a few years before going back for more.

Doug Rhea presiding over auction.

Doug Rhea presiding over auction.

Late Saturday afternoon the premier event of the whole convention took place.  Raffle ticket were drawn and prizes were awarded.  Various people got goodies.  Old rare gaming stuff brought fabulous sums of money from the mostly middle-aged crowd of gamers present who bought things in the auction.  I bid a few times, but I did not manage to win anything at all.

Jeff Dee with trophy

Jeff Dee with trophy.

My friend Jeff Dee won the Con’s trophy/award for best new RPG of 2013 for his Cavemaster design.  It’s a 5 pound green dragon paperweight that would ornament any game room or fannish home.  When I later volunteered to store it for him, he told me quite firmly that he’d take care of the trophy himself.  I don’t blame him at all.  It was very nice. High quality! As were the other trophies awarded and and prizes associated with this con.

Auction.

Auction.

Auction. Saturday afternoon.

Auction. Saturday afternoon.

Even though I was at a Con, I tried to eat healthy foods. This combo of asparagus, wild rice, and chicken was my supper on the last night while running the Fire Dungeon for 6 players.

Even though I was at a Con, I tried to eat healthy foods. This combo of asparagus, wild rice, and chicken was my supper on the last night while running the Fire Dungeon for 6 players.

I included this picture for the benefit of my trainer, Julie Marsella, so that she’ll believe me when I tell her, that even though I was living the life of a godling with (almost) my every desire being granted, I still did my best to stay in training and eat healthy.

This was the last picture I managed to take.  My Saturday night session of Deluxe T & T where I ran 6 brave adventurers into The Chambers of Z’Tpozz the Mad Dwarf, which is the free adventure provided in Flying Buffalo’s contribution to free RPG day on June 15, ran late, and they failed in their mission to rescue the dwarven princess of the Fire Clan, but they had a great time trying to cope with the blazing challenges of the Fire Dungeon that Bear Peters and I designed especially for the project.

For a huge collection of pix from the Con, go to Facebook and look up NTRPG. I tried to make a link for you here, but it just didn’t work. You might even find a pic or two of me there.

I got to bed about 1 a.m. Sunday morning, I got to sleep about 3 a.m. Sunday morning. I woke up about 5 a.m. Sunday morning, and reached the airport about 6 a.m.  Our flight was delayed (again)  (I’m not very impressed, American Airlines.)  I got back to Phoenix about 10 a.m., and back to the Trollcave a little after 11 a.m., and now with the completion of this blog, the great NTRPG con adventure is over.

There was an odd thing about this con. Although the show was in Texas, the home of Steve Jackson Games, there was absolutely no sign of that great gaming company at the Con.  I didn’t see a single game of Munchkin played during the whole weekend.

Sunday evening is in progress as I finish this.  I’m off to Trollhalla.com to award the weekly bonus of TVP (Trollish Victory Points) to those who deserve them. I get to rest just a bit tomorrow, and get ready for an even greater con adventure that will begin for me on Tuesday, the 11th of June, when Corencio and I will join Rick Loomis on the annual trip to G.A.M.A.’s Origins national gaming convention in Columbus, Ohio.  I’ll be running some Tunnels and Trolls Deluxe while I’m there, and I’d love to see  you at the show.

If you’ve ever gone to NTRPG, or any gaming convention in Texas, or if you’ve ever played the trollish game with me, why not leave a comment?

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Origins 2012   4 comments

I spent almost a full week in beautiful downtown Columbus, Ohio between May 29 and June 4. The actual game convention was Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Although I took my camera along, I didn’t really take many pictures until the end. Still, let me put some images onscreeen here, and comment, and hope it gives you, dear reader, a feeling for this year’s great Origins convention.

Jherrrii, a member of Trollhalla, was in my first T & T game on Thursday morning. He’s the good-looking guy, but I’m the tall one with a hat.

All four of my T & T sessions were in the Fairfield room in the Hyatt Hotel. Each morning I arrived at 9 a.m. to run a game–noting like a real campaign adventure, since most of the time I was teaching people how to play the game. Still, we covered the basics of how to play in less than an hour most days, and the players were all so good, that they never lost a character.

Feasting in Trollhalla after the adventure. Water, vitamins, and an apple for the trollgod.

I wasn’t too eager to take photos this year. It was Saturday morning before the camera came out again to capture two great roleplayers.

Three members of Trollhalla came to game with me. This handsome gent is Bitt Burrnn–he survived a trip through Dwarf World.

I didn’t actually take any showroom pics until the last day. It occurred to me that I should document the presence of the major exhibitors at the show.

Catalyst Games–I don’t have any of their stuff, but they took up a lot of space and did thousands of demos.

Is this the new Hollywood and Vine?

The Mayflower emblem rose above everything else in the dealer’s hall.

Steve Jackson Games shared a booth with Atlas Games. They were halfway across the hall from the Flying Buffalo booth and I didn’t have to listen to the “Exact Change: chant whenever somebody bought something.

Thunderstone is a deck-building game. Seems to be a popular concept for new games these days–deck building, not thunderstones.

Geek Chic is a furniture shop for the gamer who needs the best equipment money can buy.

Jolly Blackburn, author/artist/creator of the Knights of the Dinner Table comic book. He never seems to be out of his comfort zone.

This is Stephanie, the most beautiful vendor at Origins. She taught me how to roll golf dice. I taught her the very basics of roleplaying.

Looney Labs had a minimal presence at Origins. I wonder why.

Leather and lace. Call it Steampunk if you want to–I know fetish behavior when I see it.

Author Michael Stackpole lurked in the back of the Exhibit Hall in the “Library”–a kind of special ghetto for authors of science fiction and fantasy.

Goblins for sale. They don’t look much like Tunnels & Trolls goblins, but they sure were cute . . . and well dressed.

I sure wish Flying Buffalo had the kind of money to put on this kind of a display at Origins.

Ral Partha was once, imho, the greatest name in miniatures. I don’t know how they’re doing these days, but they are still around.

The D20 Girls were new to me this year. But having booth babes to sell your product is always a good gimmick for sales.

These fun folks taught me how to play Fauna–a brilliant board game that teaches about the animals of the world. The game would be a blast for biology class in school, but wasn’t really targetted to the average Origins attendee.

Every year I stop and talk to the exhibitors whose tables are not crowded with would-be buyers and fans. These people are usually in the wrong place. These people are often brilliant and very innovative. I enjoy talking to them, and learning from them, but I pity them, too. Most such games vanish with barely a trace in a year or two.

The first time I went by this booth, there really was a guy with an axe in his head. I brought back a bookmark witht hat phrase in six different languages.

Z-Man used to be one of my favorite companies. Now that they don’t do Shadowfist any more, they have dropped in my estimation, but they still have a lot of great games.

Troll in the Corner is a game store and occasional publisher. I don’t really know them, but I like them.

James helped us out at the Flying Buffalo booth.

This man won the Nuclear War tournament and got a supergerm flashlight for his efforts. This was the front table display at the Flying Buffalo booth–mostly Lost Worlds and Queen’s Blade game books. The T & T stuff was on the side table. as was Nuclear War.

Convention over. Time to break things down, pack up, and hit the trail. Goodbye, Columbus!

At the airport Monday afternoon after the con was over. This is the jet that brought me home.

And now, dear reader, our revels are ended. The tale has been told. Origins 2012 wasn’t very exciting, but it was a good convention for me, and for Flying Buffalo. I got to play T & T four times; I met some wonderful people, and maybe they will become my friends; I saw some old friends like Jolly, and I ate extremely well. I gained 6 pounds in a week. I came back with a couple of games, including a $40 hardback of Arcanis, an rpg that won the Origins award for best rpg of the year. I’ve started reading the rules. I got it autographed by the creators. Good stuff. It’s about 6 weeks till GenCon. Giant game cons are almost more fun than a man should be allowed to have.

Oh, and both Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton were at the con. Wil came by and talked to Rick at the FBI booth. I wasn’t there. I never saw either one of them. Somehow it just feels like they ought to be friends of mine . . . but they aren’t–at least not yet.

If you were at Origins, please add your comments to this blog. As usual, I’ve missed 95% of the con.

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