Ken St. Andre goes D&D!

Ken St. Andre, creator of the second oldest RPG, Tunnels and Trolls, has a bit of a reputation for putting down Dungeons & Dragons.  I can’t blame him.  My preference for D&D may be simple nostalgia and what I grew up with.  The first time I saw T&T in a store (having heard about it from White Dwarf and Dragon magazines), my brother & I flipped through it and were turned off by the character generation rules.  We were looking for rules-heavier gaming, not rules-lite, at the time, and were getting into Rolemaster and GURPS.

Twenty five years later, when I started blogging and got more interested in older games, I was a little surprised to find that T&T never really lost its following and has gone through a number of editions (none of them, apparently, as dramatic as the changes in D&D‘s editions).  And I hear that Ken still runs T&T at conventions and still ‘takes the piss out of’ D&D.  But imagine my surprise when Ken announced he was promoting a D&D game!

Only it’s not Dungeons and Dragons, it’s Dwarves and Dragon, and not an RPG but a board game.

If you see Ken at a convention you can probably get it from him; he was kind enough to sell it online too for those who aren’t going to conventions this year.  Based on the brief synopsis I saw (dwarves robbing a dragon lair) and the tag line (“a game of strategic agility”), I decided it would be a good gift for my brother, who is a stinking dwarf-lover and pretty clever at strategy.  (Well he always beats me at war games, but that might not be setting the bar very high…)

Anyway I got Ken and the artist to sign a copy but was a little underwhelmed by the presentation (cardstock “cover” sheet, foldable paper rules sheet and a folded card board with counters to cut out).  Heck, Ken himself admitted that a real game company could have made a prettier product with components.  But as he said, this is just an opportunity to make your own.  It’s not like I don’t have some miniatures I could sacrifice for game components.  So below, the full, minis enhanced version of the game I gave my brother.


The dwarves are from a Warhammer boxed set I bought several years ago for the miniatures.  The dragon was painted & mounted on a metal washer by Scottsz; I think it is from a more recent WotC game.  I added a matte board base so he’ll take up six squares like the provided counter.  The coins are some old arcade coins I found recently.  The boulders are some pebbles mounted on washers (don’t worry, I eventually painted them too, after the pics were taken).  I guess he could still cut out the counters and use them for a travel version of the game, but I put it all into a box to keep the minis with it.  Naturally I covered the box with wood grain shelf paper to capture that OD&D look.  I also made some custom dice according to Ken’s suggestion (dragon on the 6 face for the dragon’s die, eyes on the one for the dwarf die) — not pictured!

DnD1I have looked over the rules a little and they are pretty simple.  The board is a 9×9 grid (the spaces are rectangular, rather than square, which means the dragon actually covers six squares if aligned one way and 4 the other way, which will antagonize rules lawyers and munchkins … I assume it supposed to fill six spaces however he’s aligned.  The other counters all fill one space.  It’s important to know which space(s) a piece is in.  The dwarves all have a power they can use once for ‘free’ and then only when they roll a 1 on a d6, so you might need to keep track of which dwarves have used their freebie.  I think a few counters or something on would work; otherwise you have to remember.  I could make a little track out of matte board but don’t know if it is really necessary.

DnD4 DnD2This shows the minis next to the counters.

DnD4Another group shot.

DnD3I like the guy with pick and candle on his helmet the most.  I wanted to use dwarves that looked that like they’re sneaking or running but it turns out most dwarves are posing with axes, go figure…

Published in: on September 3, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Talisman, and check out this crazy 3-d game board someone made

Last night the gaming group caught up a little (“How was your holiday?” “Good.” “OK, wanna play something?”) and then played a very fun game of Talisman.  I got my brother the Fantasy Flight 4th ed. for his birthday a few years back, and it has been in my basement for a year or two since we always play games at my house.

Now we started playing this game back when the second edition came out in the mid 1980s, and added most of the expansions (not the Timescape and Dragon expansions, which never seemed worthwhile on our budgets back then, but somehow we scraped together the money for the other four!).  By the mid-1990s our gaming group still played the heck out of it in all-night marathons, and one of our friends and I made up some “extra” adventure cards…we began by replacing a missing magic item (the wand) and ended up with more monsters, events, and so on.  I don’t think we ever used the “new” cards; everyone else thought they were too stupid. 😦

Anyway the FFG 4th edition is pretty damn good.  They added a few tweaks and “fate points” which presumably add an element of skill to the game.   The components are all top-quality and the miniatures are pretty good (well except the Warrior who appears to have scoliosis…).  The game still plays almost exactly as we remember, and the few changes all seemed like good ideas.  The price tag is kind of high, but back when Games Workshop published it, it was similarly pricey, so that’s a wash.

I never tried the third edition of this game, but apparently it was fairly different form either the second or fourth editions.

BTW, here’s a frightening and awesome thing: someone built themselves a 3-D board for Talisman. Photo here.  Click through for some detail shots.  Note the classic Ral Partha and Grenadier minis, among others, added as scenery, and all the little details. This thing belongs in a museum!

Published in: on January 5, 2012 at 12:03 pm  Comments (8)  
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