Friday, February 28, 2020

Sand and Something

I haven't been drawing much lately. Part of the reason is just lack of time and inspiration. Another part is that I've completed all of my outstanding paying gigs (exception for one or two I need to do). Another reason is that I'm more in a noodling phase than a doodling phase. I'm thinkin'. It's scary.

Mostly I'm thinking about Dead Wizards. I can't predict what I'll actually do this year but I truly hope that this game will see publication in 2020. I've definitely never been closer to settling on the core mechanics, theme, and all that important jazz than I am right now. This game has been through many changes over the past couple of years and none of the iterations have felt as right as this one.

So one big open question about this project is the title. I've been using Dead Wizards as the working title for a few years. And while I like that name quite a bit, it's abbreviation is DW... same as Dungeon World. And like it or not that bugs the shit out of me. I know it's a minor thing, but it's enough to put me off.

So the title I'm leaning into right now is Sand in the Bone.

It's still evocative and kind of metal, even though this setting isn't "metal", per se. It's definitely sword and sorcery and Sand in the Bone has a gritty feel that I like. Plus it gets some of the setting's feel right in the name, sand being a central theme to the game.


I had set myself some hard rules about naming this game. I said absolutely zero of any of this:

Noun & Noun
Word of the Thing
Black anything



  1. I think “SAND IN THE BONE”
    is a great name. Feels very Robert E Howard.

  2. Yeah, I can't think of anything better than "Sand in the Bone" - combined with your art and visual for sand, deserts, veiled Tureg style warriors - it'd be neat. Suggest some drawing practice from Pinterest - including on placing and color balance/tone balance for long shots to set the scene, then neat close ups/characters of fierce warriors, scary supernatural stuff, sexy belly dancers... Your project, obviously...

    My $0.02...

    Such a setting is technically an "Arabesque" even if it is not set (fully) in some fantasy Arabian setting. That's the literary term going back to the popularity of Burton translating/publishing the "Arabian Nights". They'd call it "Sandpunk" these days, out of fear of being called 'racist' for calling it "Arabpunk" or using the correct term - though they "Punk" everything these days just like "A" Anarchy shirts screenprinted by prison slave labor in China. But an "Arabesque" is a story in "Another land, another time" but might (Verrryyy...loosely) be real, "Golden cities, far..." etc. A kind of classical precursor to 100% "Secondary World" aka Sword and Sorcery or Tolkein's fantasy Middle Earth, etc. Again "Sandpunk", "DesertPunk", etc. are crude and already a better word.

    A similar term is "Orientalist" though the expectation is setting it in China/Japan style settings. Obviously the "Punkers" went "SilkPunk" - IMO that's more insulting than "Orientalist" which like calling Native Americans "Indians" is at least something people are so used to it's accepted.

    Separately more historical low fantasy settings were called Sword and Sandal and could be biblical, Ancient Greek/Roman, etc.

    Being master of the obvious note that the "Arabian Nights" were set in India and themselves "Arabesques" of other lands, real and imagined - Aladdin for example is a Chinese slacker boy, not a thief. So anyone whines stories set in other lands in that style are "Non-PC" well they imagined and set stories in other people's lands also...

    For use I might go "This adventure setting is an Arabesque, to use a classical term - though the dummies at the mainstream would go SandPunk or something. Don't get me wrong, this ain't Arabian Nights though the Lands of .... set in it are pretty close here and there. But it's in another land, another time that you just might think had or does or will exist at sometime - with a few fantastical elements like .... But don't worry, a Wizard can still be killed by Several Sword thrusts...!"


    Hokay - well just saying - it's your project and I love the stuff that comes out - again bought the latest Black Pudding as soon as I saw it!

    1. Hey, you know when you posted this comment I was slammed or distracted because I never read it. Sorry about that.

      Thank you for the suggestions and thoughts. I do worry about optics... perceptions of what I'm doing. I can't help it, I want to be a decent person and not an asshole.

      What I will most likely do is practice show-don't-tell and less-is-more quite brutally on this one. Limited text, lots of visuals, plenty of open spaces for players to interpret and expand upon what is given.

      Sand in the Bone is definitely the official name of the game. And the best news is that I haven't changed direction anymore on the system and themes. I'm on a trajectory now. Still not sure when it'll be done, but it'll be done. I've had my fair share of starts and stops on projects and I have a sense of when something is inevitable and this definitely is.