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.
Monday, August 3, 2020
Sunday, August 2, 2020
Saturday, August 1, 2020
The B/X Rogue: Before he was occupied with producing the best version of B/X since the original, Gavin Norman published a series of cool books for use with B/X and Labyrinth Lord. This one is a character class - the Rogue - that basically fixes the old Thief. We've all taken stabs at doing this. I did it in Black Pudding and on my blog and probably on a napkin somewhere. You can tell when a class is fundamentally broken: everyone almost to the person attempts to fix it. Let's face it... how often did you try to fix the Fighter? Not as often, I'd wager.
Anyway... Gavin succeeds here. You get a robust B/X style class full of all the goodies that thieves and rogues are known for. You get options. You don't suck at things. Gavin avoids the trap of those pathetic low percentile skills by taking a different approach. You have a certain number of "talents" and you can pick from a list of over 30. Each level you gain a few more. And instead of having an ever-increasing skill rank, you can do your talents pretty much at a high level of skill from level 1. For example, climbing a difficult surface requires a Dex check... and most Rogues will have a decent Dex score so you're going to succeed a lot. If the surface is easier... no roll required.
You can select from picking locks, reading scrolls, deciphering languages, bashing people over the skull, fancy fighting, and loads of others.
But this game meanders and it's organization is confusing and baffling. This game tells you that you are a Seeker in a TTRPG but doesn't tell you what that means. It either wants you to do a lot of work to figure it out or it never actually reveals it to you in concrete terms. I think this is a serious problem that could easily be solved. That initial intro page, the one claiming no political agenda... that's a perfect spot to have a clear, concise sentence or two spelling out in no uncertain terms what the game is about and what a Seeker actually is. Because the awesome art alone doesn't tell you this and the prose is going to be skimmed or skipped by half the people who find the game, I promise.
Monday, July 27, 2020
Three stages of a drawing. I often sketch in black. Sometimes blue or sepia. It actually doesn't matter much to me since I'm drawing digitally. If I was drawing this on paper, I'd sketch lightly in pencil.
Here's a side by side of Supercalla and Cozmic Metal Heads. Now I gotta make this a trilogy, right?
Sunday, July 26, 2020
Saturday, July 25, 2020
Inks are done. I tried to keep it more or less in the style of the Supercalla cover art, since it's technically part of that series.
Let's see... 99% of the writing is finished. I'm going to try to wrap it up today and send it off to Andy for some edits. Then I'll put it in Matt's hands and hopefully we'll see a new book real soon.
Thursday, July 23, 2020
Saturday, July 18, 2020
The Kitten is a character class by Kirt Dankmyer - the dankest Kirt in the world - written for The Black Hack
I wanna play a kitten. Seriously. I only deal 1 lousy point of damage per hit, but I only TAKE 1 damage per hit from supernatural enemies. That's frickin' cool. Werewolf? I gets tossed about, lick myself, walk away.
And I can cast spells? Dawg**. That's cool as shit.
Of course my most important power is cuteness. If I'm being cute, I can do stuff maybe a little easier than otherwise. And that's true of kittens in real life, right? If they want the sandwich they can get the sandwich more easily by putting on a cute air.
The Blob is a one page game by Joaquin Ollo. It's a weird little thing and I kinda dig the idea.
You are a blob. Everyone else is an egregore, which I gather is a kind of "hivemind" or thought form. So basically you haven't been assigned a shape and you navigate this weird landscape of other players who kind of try to impose rules on you and the endgame is you have a shape of some kind.
Very strange and lovely. Cool cover art too.
The Purple Worm Graveyard by Tony Dowler is Labyrinth Lord adventure for character levels 1-3 with juicy art by Ed Heil. I love Ed's art so much!
The adventure is about a worm god cult. It includes some "moves" that I believe are based on or inspired by Dungeon World stuff. But I'm no expert on that game so I could be wrong.
One thing I love most about this little adventure is the last sentence of the final encounter area: The large gong summons a purple worm. Now... this is based on old school D&D. And it's a low level adventure. So if the PCs make it this far and actually summon a purple worm... well, you know what that means. TOTAL PARTY KILL.
*It occurred to me just now that "as it were" is one of those phrases I sometimes use without knowing a damn thing about its origins. I'll look it up later.
**Why the hell did I say "dawg"?
The new robot Troika! book is coming along slowly but surely. While at first I was just drawing robots because I wanted to, now I'm drawing some robots because I need them for the book. That's a bit of a shift, but since I'm still enjoying the process I don't think it will be a problem.
I'm about 75% through the first draft of the book, then I'll go through again and savagely edit and change stuff. Then I'll give it to Andy to edit properly, then Matt will do some funky layout magic, then we'll have a book to show. Nice.
Saturday, July 4, 2020
Time to look through some more random PDFs in my unsorted, messed up RPG folder.
Strike the Sandwhich by L.L. Blumire is 7 pages PDF in which exactly 1 page is content. I mean, it has a cover, which is cool. So we'll say 2 pages of content, counting the cover. So there are 5 other pages... some blank, some with legal mumbo jumbo. I'm not sure why on earth you'd do a PDF like that. Seriously... this entire thing could have been 1 page sans legal or 2 pages if you just want to include the OGL bit.
But ok, what is the content? It's an alternate hit roll system for Old School Essentials or any OSR type game. The idea is that you have an alternate AC method and a new "hit class" number. To hit your target, roll anywhere between those two numbers.
I mean... ok. But why? I don't want to be harsh to small publishers (I'm one of you), but I just don't know why this is needed. Or even desirable. It just feels like something you cook up as "you COULD do it this way" without much concern for why the hell would you. But you know... it's a simple enough system and I'm sure it works just fine. I just can't imagine why you would want to introduce another complication to solve a problem that kinda isn't a problem.
If I'm just not getting it because I'm possibly dense, feel free to comment and clarify.
Spell: the RPG by Taylor Smith seems to be a whimsical RPG (it's in the title) about casting spells. I have not read this, only skimmed it. I love the look and feel. I believe this is a game in which your actual words maybe determine what kinds of magic you can create, perhaps similar to The World Tree. I'm not sure though. Will have to read up.
Skimming it... looks like you use letter tiles, ala Scrabble, to build spells. I mean this sounds pretty dope*.
A criticism is that there's no table of contents. You just drop right into the book. And there's no index. For a 64 page game book to have no contents page and no index seems like a huge oversight. You can't just skim 64 pages and find stuff easily. You need some guidance.
*Can I say "dope"? I'm a middle aged white guy in Kentucky. Oh well.
Invasion of the Tuber Dudes by Ahimsa Kerp is a first level Old School Essentials adventure. I haven't read it yet but I'm adding it to this post because the title is funny and page 11 (12 of the PDF) features a new class: the skellington.
Skellingtons are great. They enter the adventure because PCs that drink from or fall into a certain clear river have a high chance of turning into a skellington. The immediate effect is they instantly become skeletal and gain 2d10 hit points. There's a funny bit that if there is a cleric present, they are immune to that cleric's turn undead ability... but only that cleric. So after this point the PC is dual classed as a skellington. They never again advance in their original class and only advance as a skellington. I mean... I love the shit out of this.
This one is worth it for the skellington class if nothing else. I'm a huge fan of adventure perils that utterly transform PCs. In campaigns I have ran, PCs have been turned into cyorgs on numerous occasions and a monkey at least once. The best part is that when given the chance to reverse the monkey transformation, the player said no. He liked it.
Friday, July 3, 2020
I wanted to do something interesting with some of the basics of urban life in the game. Food, drink, substances, sleep, and money. Because this game is heavy focused on setting.
In Kanebok, the city of the game, there is coinage but it doesn't really matter. Because people value a more abstract thing called glimmer, or glim for short. Basically, the idea is that the people of this world value that which glimmers. And the extension of that is the shine of the person who has the glimmer. Meaning: you can "sell" your worth by roleplay. It kinda doesn't matter how many coins or baubles or silver hoops you actually possess. That stuff is very abstracted. Instead, you have a dice value of glimmer that you possess. When you want to trade glim for something, you don't just plop it down on the counter. You can, of course, and that's OK. But it won't win you any favors or discounts.
Instead, you present your glimmer with flair, if you can. One way to do that is to offer some kind of story along with the glim. Like "See this copper disc? It is etched with the head of a bear that swallowed three men whole. The bear slayer extracted the copper from the bear's own blood and forged this disc." And the person you're talking to, perhaps a person from whom you want to get a nice new pair of boots or sword, may find that story charming and accept your offer. This also boosts your social status as a person with good tales.
Mechanically, it is about rolling some number of dice from your glimmer pool and trying to match or beat the target that the Judge* has in mind for the vendor. The coolness of your haggling attempt will influence that target (the Judge becomes the NPC vendor, listening to your pitch).
Of course this is a sword and sorcery adventure game, so I don't want sessions to be all about haggling. There will be quick and dirty rules for abstracting through this process. You don't have to roleplay every vendor interaction. In fact, once you establish a rapport with an artisan maybe you do end up with a standard glim value that is spend when you need their shit. Only when your social status changes or something about the vendor changes would you need to revisit an interaction.
And so on.
Other posts about Sand in the Bone you might find interesting:
Sand and Something
Marks and Risk
*I'm using "Judge" as my go-to for GM. This is not settled yet, I may change it. But it god damn sure won't be "referee" nor do I want to go with GM. Of course I'm tempted to go with Sandmaster, because sand is really central to the game. But the Nounmaster thing is probably played out. So maybe Judge is just what it will be. Personally, I don't care for arguments about the language of naming a GM and how it colors the play experience. I don't believe it does color the experience because honestly nobody at the table actually calls you by GM or DM or whatever. Mostly it's just "Becky" or "Jude" or whatever your dumb name is.