Saturday, November 26, 2022

Land of Fate Cover Art

I'm curious how this cover to Al-Qadim's Land of Fate box set came to be published. Fred Fields is an accomplished, talented artist. And this cover art is not BAD. 

But consider it for a moment. There is a lot of dead space here. Lots of blue sky, the bottom of a rug, and just the tippy tops of some towers.

This is the cover art for your premiere box set for an RPG adventure game setting. Don't you want to emphasize the danger, the excitement, the heroes, the villains, and/or the splendor of the setting? This cover does not really do any of that, does it?

The figures are quite small. The leaping assassin (cleverly putting the sun to their back) doesn't necessarily pop out. The two heroes on the rug are not very big in the frame and are somewhat obscured by the bottom of the rug... which is dominating the middle of the picture.

This is a setting billed as "fabulous". Why are we only getting the tippy tops of some towers? Why not show us the grand cityscape of what is most likely supposed to be Huzuz, the City of Delights? Why is this framed like a person snapping pics on vacation and picking the worst shot?

I do not know. I wonder if the cover art was rushed due to deadlines? Or was it just a well-intentioned attempt that kind of fell a little flat? (There's a LOT of blue sky there... and we can see blue skies in the real world.)

The figures and other elements of this painting are well-done. It doesn't look like the artist skimped on getting his figures and anatomy right. Nothing looks awkward. It's just that the composition and choice of framing is very strange to me.

Or is it just me? Am I being hyper critical for no good reason? (Don't answer that question.)

For comparison, check out another Fred Fields piece. The guy can paint and can nail an exciting composition.



Sunday, November 6, 2022

Robot 19


 Sometime I'm gonna gather all my robot drawings into a single volume.

Sketches For the Week

Here's a bunch of sketches. I want to sketch more, but honestly I can go days without doodling at all. It just depends.






 

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Basic Honey Critique

A bit of a self-critique here.

This is the art I did for a little D&D project I had going on. Nothing I published, just a reference document. Anyway, that's not the point.

I spent a lot of time on this painting. My goal was to "paint it", not ink it. I wanted to avoid relying heavily on lines and lean more into forms and color, shadow and light. I have mixed feelings about my success. Here are a few reasons why.



1. THE GOOD STUFF

First, I do like this painting. I do not hate it. I'm just iffy about how much I like it. The things I know I like include the hair, hands, and the main figure's arms. I really, really love how her arms look. They captured a sense of volume and roundness that I was going for. And those cartoon elbow nubs! Cute.

The hands down at the bottom are expressive and definitely in my wheelhouse. I also like her hair. It feels lively and golden, which was the goal.

I don't hate her feet... though I struggle with drawing boots and shit.

2. BACKGROUND

It's ok. But not great. It's just color, which is what I wanted. Perhaps I should have went with something more representational. I dunno. Maybe the purple could have been much darker to help make her figure pop.

3. EYES

A bit crazed, which is good. But maybe not articulate enough. Not enough time spent on her eye shape, the lids, maybe some lashes could help.

4. WEAPONS

This looks ok but flat. I fall into that trap of drawing weapons as if we are looking at them lying on a flat surface, with the handles and blades always side-facing. It is important to remember that these are three-dimensional objects and they are in motion. Tilt the blades, turn the cross-guards at an angle.

5. ARMOR

Her armor texture and coloring is middling. I wanted the armor to be metallic, silvery, etc. Which is it. But it probably needed something to help it feel real, textured, worn.

6. COLOR

I didn't go hard enough on the deep colors and highlights. I feel like the colors came out a little bit flat. For example, where are the lightning-inspired yellow highlights on her helmet? I forgot to add them.

7. FIGURE AND COMPOSITION

Ok, this is my biggest critique. I worked hard on her figure. I like her shape. She's round, but firm, soft but hard (if that makes sense). I even gave her some scars and freckles, which is nice.

But she's flat. This is a warrior in mid-leap and her figure is absolutely stable, centered, solid. Not dynamic. Now, in one sense, this is kind of cool. It suggests she's at home and comfortable and in no way worried. She's gonna kill 'em all. But look at her chest. It's level. Again, this suggests stability. Which is fine... but in this case I think having her shoulders not level would have shifted things and caused some dynamics in the figure. Like if her left arm was higher, twisting her body just a bit, but her head tilted the other way... that would have been nice.

CONCLUSION

A good attempt. I'm proud of the work. But not my finest and not the kind of painting I hoped it would be. I shall try again and again!

Thursday, October 13, 2022

GOZR Clarifications

There have been a couple of cool reviews of GOZR lately:

The Questing Beast review

Ray Otus review

Some questions and criticisms were raised. I addressed them on social media but here I'm going to gather all that wisdom in one permanent spot.

HAND LETTERING

The entire book was lettered by my own wee fingers. No fonts were used.

DEFENSE VS. ATTACK

I wasn't very clear about this in the book. When you attack, the damage formula is:

Attack roll minus Prowess plus weapon damage minus the target's Defense.

But what about when you're defending? In that case, damage to your PC would be determined like this:

Prowess minus Defense roll plus weapon damage minus your character's Defense.

HIGH RISK ICON

Various icons are used to determine if you should roll on a table, choose a result, or if it's an optional table. One of the icons is a skull and it means high risk/reward. When I drew that icon, I planned to have a lot of tables fitting that description. But as the game evolved I didn't include very many and none of them ended up in the character creation section.

You can see examples of the skull icon used on pages 16 and 18.

THREAT DICE

The GM should roll a creature's Threat Dice every round. If it has two dice, the intention was that you'd have a double chance of getting a 1-2. But you could also say that the creature gets 2 possible Threat actions per round. DEADLY.

GMs should feel free to be creative with Threat. Don't just stick with whatever the creature's description says. Make them gooey, spitting electricity, or summoning backup. Also, you don't need a Threat action for a creature to do something it is described as doing. For example, a vector snake can constrict anytime it hits a target. It doesn't have to be based on a Threat action. Threat actions are supposed to be extra things a creature can do. It makes them less predictable and more... threatening.

DEFENSE

The DEF score was originally a d6 roll during character creation so that every gooz had a "natural Defense" score. But during playtesting we discovered that having too much DEF leads to longer combats. To make the game play faster and be more lethal, I eliminated the natural DEF. But I think some artifacts of the original design remain on the page, suggesting there should be a default DEF score.

The default DEF score is zero. It only goes up with armor and/or special items.

ACTION CLASSES (AC)

I chose "AC" for the three stats on purpose because the core concept of the system was to use the old D&D AC system. Instead of PCs having stats that get higher, they have stats that are the target numbers, so making them lower is better. They are the "AC to hit" for any given action.

WHEN TO MAKE A MAGIC ROLL

I don't believe I was as clear as I could have been about this. If you are casting a spell and there is a target that will resist it, you need to make a Magic roll. If you are casting a spell that isn't going to be resisted, then you don't.

Example: The spell Bestial Visage makes you appear monstrous. This spell should require no Magic roll. Likewise, Investigation is a spell that lets you know 1d6 clues or hidden things. There's really no need to roll for that. You're spending WIZ to make it work, after all.

Example: But the spell Charm, which makes people like you, should probably require a Magic roll or else the targets have no agency. The spell Confuse might also require a roll since an opposing spellcaster should not just be an easy target.

Ultimately, it is the GM's decision which spells really need a Magic roll. Perhaps the context makes the difference. Casting Charm in a low-stakes situation maybe shouldn't require a roll. But casting it during a battle or against a big bad enemy surely should.

GETTING BETTER

There is only one codified method for character improvement: the Level Up. This is something that happens between sessions or adventures and it does not have any effect on your Action Classes, DEF, or your Talents. This is intentional. I didn't want the game to have a codified leveling up system. I didn't even have the Level Up rule in the original game concept. Instead, I want gooz to develop organically based on what happens at the table.

GMs should be creative with weird items, spells, and strange events. In one of the playtests ran by another GM, they included a strange magic item that had random effects. If you were lucky, the item would actually change your ACs.

And that's how I like it. Play GOZR long enough and your characters should be radically altered from when they got their start. And very little of that alteration should be driven by any rules in the book.

A SUGGESTION ABOUT TALENTS

The character sheet has space for multiple Talents, but during chargen you only get one. There is no mechanism in the game to add more Talents. But GMs should allow for PCs to learn or acquire new Talents or even to alter their existing Talent. This should happen naturally, as described in the previous paragraphs. Perhaps a PC discovers a dusty machine that reveals ancient wisdom to them and only to them. Now that PC has gained a Learned Subject Talent of some kind (not just what's listed in the book). Or perhaps a PC wizard becomes the apprentice of a powerful gooz wizard and the player specifically talks about their duties and misadventures that take place in downtime. Maybe the GM could then say that PC has acquired a new Arcane Luck or even a new Magic Power.

I suggest peppering these types of changes throughout your campaign and not worrying much about it. This is a game about ugly gooz and they should be weird as hell. Let them get weird.

Friday, October 7, 2022

GOZR Text Only Doc

I created a text-only document of the GOZR RPG. You can click here and find it. I hope this helps with accessibility since the game is so heavily visual.

There may be errors. I'll fix them and reupload as I get time. Enjoy.

This was a goal I set for myself way way back in 2020 when I was neck deep in creating this game. I'm happy to have finally done it.

GOZR in Print

If you didn't get in on the Kickstarter, I still love you. And you can get some GOZR in print at this handy link right here or some GOZR in pure digital PDF right here.

GOZR is a sci-fantasy TTRPG about ugly gooz doing adventures in a broken future world where all the pretty people are dead. It uses a simple system based largely on rolling d20 vs. a target number on your character sheet and is filled to the brim with hand-written random tables.

No gooz or fonts were harmed in the making of this game.

State of the Universe

What is up, world?

Here in my universe things are going ok. I'm currently working on the next Gary Con GM shirt plus a bunch of commissions. I also have the GOZR text transcription going hard. I'm "working" on layouts for the Rock Hardy Book of Dwarfs, but that is kind of sidelined. Also thinking more and more about making a new comic.

What will be the next thing I finish? Only the dark gods can say.

Zaxaztar spies Zarp. The game is on!

Speaking of Zaxaztar (the "x" is pronounced like an "h")... I really like this drawing. It really is just a sketch that I colored up. But I like the energy of it. I prefer doing expressive lines and forms. I really don't like it when I get too controlled and tight. I'm not very good at it, for one thing, and I find the uniformity boring. I like a bit more chaos in my work. I should lean into that a little bit more.