Sunday, January 10, 2021

BX Character Sheet Landscape

Here's a BX character sheet I put together by taking elements from various other sheets and Black Pudding pages plus new elements. It's landscape, which is not my usual thing. But you know in actual use a landscape sheet is more practical from what I've noticed. I did a bunch of pregens in landscape for a Nerdlouvia con and it saved table space.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Demon and Key

I drew this demon today and it turned out kinda cool. I'm shit with drawing chains so I really tried to do them some justice. Still not perfect but I think better than previous attempts. Chains are hard!

So this guy will go into Black Pudding 7 and I'm not sure exactly in what context yet. The issue is still very wee and hasn't grown into itself so I will probably set him to the side and see where the other pages go before giving him a role. He might be a monster entry, part of an adventure, or art for some cool magic shit. Not sure yet.

I actually have two themes at work right now. The cool wizard cover idea suggests an issue filled with wizardly stuff and this demon on a chain goes nicely with that. But the thing I've worked on the most is a mini-setting for an all-Thief campaign called Low Downs. So who knows...

Here's the doodle that spawned the demon.

Demon Sketch

Working on a demon drawing. Kind of out of the blue, definitely could end up in Black Pudding 7.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Black Pudding 7 Cover Sketch

Here's my cover sketch for Black Pudding #7. A crazy wizard climbs out of a mystic well, dripping wet, smoking his pipe. I love that idea. Hopefully the final version will be boss.

Thought Eater Returns

Good to hear from Froth over at Thought Eater blog! Welcome back.

Go check out Froth's blog because there's a lot of cool stuff to find there.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Rat Bastard

This is the Rat Bastard, a class I scribbled long ago in the early days of Black Pudding. I honestly don't remember why this class wasn't in any issue of the zine so far but I assure you this bastard will be in issue #7.

And what else will be in issue #7, you ask? Well that's a good question. My process for this zine is fairly organic, meaning I tend not to play too much of it ahead. What tends to happen is I do little bits here and there and then I'll chew into something bigger (such as an adventure like Vault of the Whisperer from issue #2, using a sweet map from skullfungus). Once I get something significant finished it's as if I hit critical mass and I just continue to hammer away until I have an entire issue completed. That's pretty much how all my projects go, honestly.

So for #7 I have a few finished pages, such as the Rat Bastard and a character sheet or two, plus a metric ton of notes. Which of those notes will become parts of the zine I am not sure. I've got my eye on this mini-setting called Low Downs (welcome to the Days of Low Adventure!). But also there's a lot of material that I have created for GOZR that, honestly speaking, is absolutely BX compatible and could be presented in Black Pudding. So I might go that route since GOZR is coming along so damn slowly and I really have no idea when I'll be ready to publish it.

Translation: Be ready for some random tables!

Saturday, January 2, 2021


It is well known that because OD&D did not have an explicitly-named skill system many grognards are opposed to games having skill systems. I get it. I jumped the ship from D&D in 1990 and landed on GURPS. I get skills. I get why they can be sort of... blech.

(I am not a fan of GURPS, though I was super into it for a few years. Love all the books, though.)

D&D had skills embedded in the classes and equipment and there were a few nods to skills, such as AD&D's Secondary Skills. In BX, a fighter was able to use all weapons and armor. Those are some mad skills! A thief, of course, had an explicit list of skills (which which they suuuuuucccckkkeeeeeed.) A magic-user had the skill of casting spells and being able to create new spells and magic items. Etc.

Equipment also granted a skill-like ability to PCs. If you had a 10' pole you had the skill of being able to prod at a trap from a safe distance. A PC with a lantern had the skill of lighting a dark room - a huge benefit.

AD&D, and also BECMI's D&D line, had lots of weapon skills.

The thing that I believe grogs have a problem with is when a player says "I roll Perception. What do I see?" Instead of saying "I look around the base of the statue. Has it been moved recently?" and so forth. The former represents reduction of the fiction to a straight mechanic while the latter represents clever puzzle-solving and more immersion in the fiction.

Of course both can exist together. After examining the statue, the DM might ask me to make that Perception roll. Maybe they already know that I'm gonna see the scrape marks but maybe there's something else to be seen - such as a trap switch - and the dice roll will indicate just how closely my PC looked.

BX D&D gives the advice of using ability saves (we call 'em checks nowadays) for those moments where there isn't an established mechanic. This is a default skill system wherein the ability scores coupled with the class determine what types of skills you are good at. The party magic-user, with their high Intelligence, should to a better job of recognizing weird items and knowing esoteric lore. The cleric's Wisdom should let them know more about obscure cults and shrines. And so forth.

One way that the use of ability checks (and default skills in modern D&D) can frustrate players is when a character who isn't the party's authority on a topic is somehow just better at dealing with that topic. For example, maybe the thief has a particularly good Intelligence and the wizard is only average. If the DM allows the thief to make Int checks for every weird thing they encounter, the player of the magic-user might feel slightly useless. "Oh, Niff the Nimble rolled well under their Int so they know a good deal about this weird order of Purple Wizards. But Jan the Sorcerer failed that Int check and knows nothing. Again."

The solution to that problem is don't let Niff the Nimble make Int checks for things in which they have no expertise. And when you do allow it, follow Moldvay's advice and give them a -4 penalty. Let that middling wizard have a moment to shine and maybe even forgo the Int check now and then. "As it happens, Jan has heard of the Secret Society of Super Wizards."

A bit of ramble here as I basically think out loud about skills. More to say, but I'll do it later.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Fawn Fanart

Ed Heil has been in the RPG art circles for a long time knocking out some cool stuff. Check out this wonderful rendition of my Pan-Gea character Fawn Rainchild!


A random Dyson map.

Dyson Logos has, in addition to many other things, drawn a map or two. And they're quite good. So good are they that his name is basically synonymous with maps in the RPG circles. When I'm running a shotgun game and I need a quick map I just google Image his name and I'll have what I need in minutes.

If you google image my name and add "map" you get some maps but none of them are mine. It's because I don't draw a lot of maps. Why?

I mean, I love a good map and I've done a bunch of them. But I tend to do world maps more than dungeons and then I don't like to share them until I have a world to share... which is a pretty big hurdle to get over. So I have lots of world maps laying around for worlds that were merely a name or idea.

I have a love/hate thing with maps. I have always been attracted to things that invite me to create. Pens and papers and RPGs invite one to create. A map has the capacity to invite creativity as well, but it is also by definition a bit of fixed real estate. Once you map an island then it is "known". If the map is reliable, of course. I think this idea of fixing something firmly in place fucks with my psyche and I resist it.

Still, a lovely map is a lovely map and inspires you to step into it. Maps are a net good.

A literal sandbox map for Goodman Games.

A region of Yria, my D&D world.

Early idea for Pan-Gea.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Artist: Michael Golden 3

But hey in this post I didn't include the very cover image that introduced me to Michael Golden. Behold the glory of Savage Sword of Conan #105. This was one of the first issues I bought off the shelf. And man o man do I love this issue. It's a simple story about Conan seeking refuge and food in a random windmill and having to kill every last motherfucker he brought with him to sustain his god damn honor. Fuck yes, Conan. Fuck yes.