Got some sweet zines from James Maliszewski. I don't really know a lot about Empire of the Petal Throne. But I did a drawing for James' The Excellent Travelling Volume (#11), rendering Srükárum, servant of Sárku and lord of the Legion of the Despairing Dead.
Sunday, September 13, 2020
Saturday, September 12, 2020
THREAT: This number ranges from 0 to 7+. It is the number of times the creature can make additional attacks or other actions or force re-rolls.
DEF: Defence is the number subtracted from damage. Always a minimum of 1 point dealt on a hit.
HP: Hit points.
SIZE: Small, gooz, large, giant, and huge. The creatures of this world will lean to the large size. Lots of megafauna. Also, creatures are assumed to be of animal intelligence. Intelligent monsters are not a thing, generally. But you can get some interesting behavior just looking at the animal world.
DMG: How many hit points of damage dealt per attack. Generally based on size, but varies.
Beyond that, I'm avoiding an obligatory description as each will have art. Instead, just going to include some bullet point notes about behavior, special attacks, defenses, etc. I'm also including tables for creating creatures on the fly.
Sunday, September 6, 2020
Saturday, September 5, 2020
You have three stats and each stat is a target number. When you do an action, you roll 1d20 vs. your own target. Then you follow up with whatever results are called for, such as damage.
And this is fine. This works. But I wanted to simplify and reduce dice rolls so I was strongly considering taking an Into the Odd approach and eliminating the action roll, going straight to the effect roll.
But I'm also taking a cue from The Black Hack and making the players do all the dice rolling. So when you are attacked by a monster, what do you roll? It doesn't make a lot of sense to roll your sword damage in that case. But the original three stat mechanics do work just fine for this since you're rolling against your own target, regardless of the weapon or attacker.
For now, I'm sticking with three stats as targets because in every case I've thought of so far this works, especially for a game where players make all the rolls.
Sunday, August 30, 2020
I created another blog called Blood Red Pinups where I plan to post my pinup art. I marked it as mature because I have a ton of stuff that is absolutely rated-R and doesn't fit here on Doomslakers.
Sunday, August 23, 2020
This is a mini-rant from a 49 year old man who likes the stuff he likes and doesn't like the stuff he doesn't like... but who understands when he might be full of shit. And he usually is.
Terry Pratchett. Discworld.
I'm one of those nerdy types who isn't a total geek. Like... if you asked me who was in the C3P0 suit I'd say "there was someone in the suit??" Also, I'd say I don't know where the hyphen goes in C3P0, or if there is one. I also have never watched more than 2 or 3 original Star Trek episodes and I haven't bought a Marvel or DC or Dark Horse comic book off the shelf since the 90s. And I consider myself a comic book lover!
In short, I don't obsess over most stuff. I'm big on ideas and wee on details.
So I don't really know anything about Terry Pratchett other than he was a British author who wrote Discworld and he was, by all measures I can tell, a good man.
My discovery of Pratchett's Discworld came via an illegal download of the first few books in audio format. Wonderful stuff. Not just the books themselves, but the performance of the reader. And see... I don't know who the actual fuck read them. Some British dude* who gave such wonderful life to the characters. And they had this cheeseball echo effect on Death's voice. I loved it. I wouldn't want to hear them any other way.
|Josh Kirby killing it.|
But this isn't a post about the content or the audio. This is a post about the covers. Remember those deliciously cartoonishly evocative Josh Kirby (RIP) covers? No? See, I posted one here, right above this paragraph, for your enjoyment. I fucking love these. They make me want to pick up the book and read.
Now, I do want to acknowledge something important that seems to bug a lot of people. Kirby's covers don't seem to accurately reflect what's inside the pages. For example, famously, Twoflower is a bespecktacled tourist. He has "four eyes" because he has glasses. But Kirby painted him literally with four eyes. But, because Kirby's art was so dense and kind of hard to parse at first glance, this doesn't really bug me. Of course it might be because my exposure to Discworld came through audiobooks and I wasn't even looking at the covers**.
These covers were published, as far as I can tell, for the original editions of the paperbacks up through maybe book 26, The Thief of Time. That was 2001. Looks like Josh Kirby died in 2001 at the age of 72. I really had never known his work since I had no exposure to these books as a kid or even as a young adult. It wasn't until I was around 35 that I found them. In a short time, he has shot to the top of my favorite artists list for sure. With a bullet.
Anyway. Let's move on from 2001. I'm not going to discuss the next cover artist, Paul Kidby, because I'm not familiar with the work. What I'm going to talk about, and what is the focus of this rant, is the direction the publisher took with the reprints.
They fucking suck. I mean seriously. Look at this shit. We go from these whimsical, wondrous, fantastical paintings, lush with detail, to these spartan, plain, dull, lifeless, center justified pieces of crap?
|"For the new covers let's go full 1995 CD-ROM, who needs delicious art?"|
Sigh. I know. It's the god damn digital age. You need to think about how people interface with book covers. The spines of books, which used to tell us the title and author so we could pull them out and then be wowed by the covers, are now just the fucking covers. Because you need to see that title and author clearly in a tiny thumbnail on your digital device. There's really no need for a lush cover anymore. Fewer people are picking this up off a shelf and running their fingers over the art. It's just the reality in which we live. And I accept it.
But I don't have to like it, motherfuckers. And I don't.
Here's a video I found randomly where a guy is bitching about the same problem, but with horror covers. I feel ya, pal. I feel ya.
*His name is Nigel Planer. If you didn't think he was British, now you god damn well know it.
**Interesting point, actually. Am I so easy on Kirby because I just love his art and I have no particular connection between experiencing the stories and looking at his paintings? Maybe for others this was more jarring.
How this works, for the record: I open random PDFs (I usually close my eyes and click) in my gaming folders and I snip the title, then I give a very quick, short, off the cuff response to what I see. Usually this means I haven't read the thing completely if at all. Sometimes I dive deeper, sometimes I just say a sentence or two.
So here goes another batch.
Paragon: Universal Role-Playing Game by Sean Boyle. Right off the bat, the title isn't going to grab me. But this is only because a) I'm not a huge fan of superhero games and b) I'm not a huge fan of universal systems. Those are my biases going in.
Not that this is a supers game. It's universal. But that cover art by Adrian Reece (which is a bit too early-age digital for me) screams SUPERS.
Um... you need d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12. So no d20 on this bad boy. Plus you need a deck of Paragon cards. A PDF of the cards comes with the game so you can print them out. They're simple black line art so that's no biggie. The cards are like special effects, such as Lucky Break. That type stuff.
Oh man... there are 13 stats for a character. There's a max load table (lifting I guess?) with decimals. So those are not giving me a warm and fuzzy. There's a list of backgrounds and weaknesses, which feel like GURPS-style Adv/Disad. Which is totally fine, of course. It's an intuitive concept and I don't know why people shit on it sometimes.
There's a beefy list of mental disorders, which is a huge callback to classic RPGs that tried to model everything. And this game is definitely in that lineage. It wants to simulate everything it can so you can play any genre you like. Of course, from a game design nerd perspective, this is a fool's errand and no one should endeavor to do it. What you usually end up with is a textbookish set of all-things-being-equal rules that might fit well in an empty white playing space but is clunky and uninspiring when you try to use it in a genre or in a very person setting.
Not poo-pooing this game at all. It's a fleshed out labor of love. But generic systems are just not inspiring to me anymore and I don't believe they accomplish the task they want to accomplish, in the end. At least not for anyone other than the game designer and those few people who for some reason love the blank white space of such a game.
Hypertellurians by Frank "Mottokrosh" Reding is a sci-fantasy RPG... and I really really love me some sci-fantasy. It is a Creative Commons game, which is rad because you can make your own Hypertellurians content and put it out to the world.
The text says it is compatible (more or less) with most old or new adventure games. I'm not sure what that means since game mechanics are pretty disparate between games. But it does look like the game has six character classes or types, so maybe it's got some strong D&D DNA in it?
The text says that the rules use "natural language" so there's lots of room for interpretation, which is good. But also I can see that the characters have numbers rating stats. So it's a mix.
A big portion of the charsheet is inventory slots. One of the key principles of the game is that what you carry defines you. This is certainly a strong callback to old school D&D in which the thing that differentiates two level 1 fighters is that one has a club and the other has plate mail and a sword. Big difference. Also, games like Knave and Into the Odd certainly put a high premium on inventory. I'm also doing this to some degree in GOZR. Anyway, I like it.
I just flipped through and saw a power called Magnificent Mucus Membrane. That's a winner.
The game's art is a mix of custom art and what I think are old public domain sci-fi pieces that kick a lot of ass. The cover by Anna Katariana Molla is pretty sharp. I snagged a print copy of the game and it looks not too shabby. It's on the edge of being a little bit too desktop publishing for my taste, but it's pulled back just enough to be good.
The character sheet is fantastic. It's drawn, and there's a painted version. I can't see who the artist is, though. I might be stupid. But there is a Skullfungus version too! And we all love some Skullfungus.
In the Heart of the Sea by Goblin's Henchman is a one page dungeon. Or more accurately, it is a one page seafaring hexcrawl procedurual thingie. It's only one page. Henchie gives us three "hex flowers", which are big hexes with 19 smaller hexes inside. Each day you roll 2d6 and use the navigation directions hex flower to see which hex you end up in. Each hex has some kind of encounter or trouble or other event. It looks like a very simple, fast way to determine sea travel events if you end up on the high seas in a hexcrawl kind of campain. I'm gonna say neato!
Sunday, August 16, 2020
(As I write this, I realize I need to give this bit some more thought. So far in the pages I've created there is next to no discussion of the end of the world. But everything I've created so far is related to character creation and mechanics, so there's still plenty of room to explore the idea.)
Here are some of the game mechanics.
Action Classes: The history of this game design lies in Dead Wizards, back when I had the idea of embracing the old D&D attack matrix as a core game mechanic. I came up with three categories of action and was planning to have them represented on the character sheet as a descending AC matrix. I killed the matrix but kept the three action categories, which I call Action Classes, or ACs (nods). These are your stats. They are Cunning (stealth, charm, skill, cleverness), Prowess (physical action, combat, danger stuff), and Magic (intellect, knowledge, arcana).
I went with these three categories because, per this game's lineage, the idea was to evoke sword and sorcery. And when I thought very hard about how my favorite sword and sorcery characters interacted with the world it was in these three ways, primarily. You don't really need anything else to play this game.
Each AC is a target number, which is generated randomly. When you do an action related to that AC, you roll 1d20 vs. that target. There are very few modifiers and the ACs rarely change. Instead of your ACs getting better predictably, you have randomized and organic character development. Maybe you are blessed by some forgotten deity and your Magic AC is improved by 1, or maybe you find a weird alien device and your Cunning gets a little better when you're using it. Etc.
- Pull off an amazing stunt.
- Be next to take action.
- Second wind (heal a little).
- Know a fact from the GM.
- Take an extra action.
- Add a new fact to the game-story.
Saturday, August 15, 2020
I posted a few times about my pet project GOZR. I pick it up now and then, work on it a while, then drop it for a time. I picked it up again recently and I've managed to knock out several more pages. Feels good to make progress. In spirit, this is exactly how I do Black Pudding. In fact, this whole thing could easily be part of that zine except that it's a) not very compatible with old school D&D and b) in color.
|Remember these goons?|
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
|R.I.P. Steve Z|
|Blood in the Controversy|
|This got me started, honestly.|
|A very tasty jam|
Nostalgia for D&D or Traveler or MERP is good, generally. It's fine. It's wonderful.