Saturday, January 5, 2019


Here's a thing I picked up recently on a whim. Here's how it happened:

1. I saw a post on G+ where someone was selling Bushido RPG books.
2. I remembered owning Bushido in high school. It means something because it was the first time I got a money order and mailed off for a book. Special!
3. Noticed the books were not in original box. Nerd mind kicked in.
4. Found complete box set on eBay, sans the wacky tiny d20 that my original set came with.
5. Bought the damn box set.
6. Spent some time looking at it, flipping through the books, reading some bits I remembered from long ago. Smiled.
7. Posted about it.

The box is beat up but it's been 37 years so...
This isn't actually the printing of the box set that I owned back in the day. Mine was all black. I ordered it via a Dragon Magazine ad. I think it was $8 if I remember correctly. I was so excited when that package arrived! I do remember this stuff being in my box, but also a tiny tiny d20.

The good stuff inside!
The box may look like shit, but the books and other contents are in excellent condition. There is some wear on the books, but not much. The map and reference sheet are perfect. Almost as if they were never used... hmmm.

Thing is, I never played this game. I never even fully read the rules. I skimmed it, read bits, stole bits, and got inspired by it. I remember especially being fond of stealing the weapons table and using it for D&D. I even wrote up a budoka character class for D&D and rolled up a few PCs that I never used.

So the thing about Bushido is that I'll never ever run it in a hundred years. I'll keep this box set, mostly on the shelf, and I'll pull it out now and then to look at it. I'll maybe eventually read the whole thing. I'll steal from it and be inspired by it. But I have no illusions about running it. Not gonna happen. And since this is an FGU game I probably would not like the way it plays anyway. The presentation is crunchy and I'm not a big fan of crunch.

Of course if I found a group playing it I might join in at some point. That much is for sure.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Art Prints?

I did some research on reasonable prints and found that some services are pretty good and fairly reasonable. I ordered two prints from and they really impressed me.

This one is the art I did for the cover of Winds of the Ice Forest. It is printed on heavy watercolor style paper. These prints are archival and have something like a 50 year guarantee against fading. They were shipped as rolled prints and I put them under a heavy book for a couple of months. So I signed this one and I plan to get a frame for it.

The other one is The Rat Queen Dies Tonight map from Black Pudding #5. This one is also on archival paper, but it's more of a bristol type. Like a heavy cardstock, smooth.

For this print I plan to color it by hand and then frame it. I think that would be a really fun way to create some interesting tangible art (most of my work is digital, you know).

I have no idea how to market these things. I suppose for now I'm just going to put them out there and see if there is any interest. If you like collecting originals and/or prints let me know what you think.


The fuckin' OSR. Who would have thought a movement about making and playing old style elf games could generate controversy?

For my part, the OSR is a creative movement and I love it very much. I fully realize there are problems within the various OSR communities and people who want to completely avoid them have every right to do so. I personally don't think of the OSR as a community. It's more like ten different communities with varying degrees of overlap.

No. Much more than a community, it is an artistic, creative movement. It's a way of making and playing games. It's a way of taking an old thing you love and making art with it. For me, that is. That's why I choose to play in this sandbox. Black Pudding is all about playing in that sandbox.

And the truth is that "OSR" is just a handy label. It's short, has a meaning I can get behind, and is recognizable. It's fully interchangeable with other terms like "DIY D&D" or just "old school gaming". And when you drill deep down into it, this isn't even simply about D&D. It largely is, I would argue, just by looking at the actual content being produced. But no, it's more than just that. Whether you're into Fighting Fantasy or Call of Cthulhu it's got a common core.

I was the kid who wanted to buy paper and pencils, not toys. I wanted the rub off decals and markers. Remember those 99 cent rub off things? I can't remember what they were called. You got a little plastic sleeve in which you found a folded up background image, such as Batman's cave or Road Runner roads. And there was a sheet of images of Batman, Robin, Coyote, Penguin, etc., and you would put the image where you wanted it on the background and then rub it off with a pencil or something. And BAM! you created your own image, story, scene...

OSR, RPG, gaming, D&D... it's all about games of WHAT THE FUCK IF. And I love playing what the fuck if better than anything. I guess that's all I have to say about that.

Black Pudding Character Sheet III

Another character sheet, specifically for the Black Pudding OSR Playbook. But of course it works for most OSR, especially Swords & Wizardry.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Alternate Ability Score Method

Some players are not comfortable with the swingy 3d6 method of rolling ability scores. Mainly because of those nasty low results. And why not? This is supposed to be a game of fantastic action, treasure hunting, monster fighting! You want a larger than life PC. And while I actually love the 3d6 method, I find it much better suited to DCC RPG style funnel play than standard D&D play.

Here's an alternate method that avoids the worst of the negative modifiers while still being random and leaving room for low stats. This is a snippet from Black Pudding #6. This section is meant to augment the OSR Playbook presented in issue #4.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Black Pudding #6... and more

Now that I'm in the latter half of my Xmas vacation I finally got around to working on something. Specifically, I'm diggin hard into Black Pudding #6. Specifically, at this moment, the Meatshields segment.

This segment is always super fun for me. I never plan it, I just let shit emerge. I grab sketches and bits of art here and there, strip characters out, reuse, remix, and just let the chips fall where they may. I'm proud of this super goofy bullshit and I hope it shows.

Example... I just gave chewing weed and a spitune to a busty paladin. Because I can and I did. And it's a glorious feeling to be creatively unfettered. I'm not trying to win any awards or impress any particular people with this project. Black Pudding is just my zine. It is exactly the kind of shit that I would do if given the chance to just do some shit. Which is exactly what I'm doing.

Not that I don't care about quality or doing awesome things. I absolutely do want this book to be cool and impressive. Just as importantly, I want it to be useful. Because as much as I believe RPGs are an art form, I also fully acknowledge they are a hobby pastime... a game. And there are practical concerns at the gaming table. I try to give you a bit of a random shotgun blast of fun stuff you can pluck out and use as desired. Much of it does fit into a greater setting-specific context, for me, but I try not to stuff the pages with too much of that.

Later, at some point, I may collect, revise, and remix a lot of this content into a setting book or standalone game. But right now I'm happy to keep letting the muses guide me down random paths of old school roleplaying goodness.

Dwarfen Saves

Heh. I did this last year for Inktober. A bit of a homage to B/X dwarfs. Also, that's the coolest thief I ever drew. He's skeevy and sleezy. The stripes suggest prison... oh so many stereotypes. I think I'll add him to the Meatshields of the Bleeding Ox.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Print and Play Gamer Review

Revisiting a lovely little review of Black Pudding here.

"Now in its fourth issue, J.V. West’s Black Pudding is one of the most entertaining OSR ‘zines going. Each issue offers 28 pages of 70’s-style, DIY dungeon-crawling craziness, prizing imagination over logic and fun over complexity. And while every Black Pudding feature may not fit into every OSR campaign, West’s rapid-fire writing, exaggerated illustration, expressive hand-lettering (yes, West letters most of the content by hand!) and absolutely unfettered creativity makes every page a hoot to read for anyone who appreciates D&D the way they played it in Lake Geneva."

Black Pudding Heavy Helping Vol. One

Fantasy Forest: A Long Lost Inspiration

I just noticed that I have 12 drafts in my Blogger sidebar. What could they be??

Here's the first one. I wrote this back in June, I think. Can't figure out why I didn't post it.


I gotta find this game. I got it for Xmas one year when I was a kid and I think it may have had a bigger impact on my wee brain than I give it credit for. When I try to think about the stuff I like, such as D&D and comics, this game always comes up in my memories.

This would have been the early 80s. I would have been about 11 or so. This was a few years before I discovered D&D. When I encountered D&D the first time it inspired me so much I HAD TO make my own RPG. So before ever holding a single RPG book in my hands I made my own RPG. What did it look like? Fantasy fucking Forest.

I drew a map with a path. I drew monsters on the path, treasure, a castle, etc. At each "encounter", I wrote down two numbers. One was for attack and one was for defense. I then wrote numbers on little pieces of paper and put them into a bowl. I had no dice.

So I ran this game for a couple of cousins who were probably 9-10 years old. It was probably a total clusterfuck but it was my first GMing experience!

I remember making 3 map games in total, using colored pencils and maybe a ball point pen. Unfortunately those items are long, long lost. I would LOVE to find them again. But I don't think they exist anymore.


I've got a ton of old small press comics and zines in storage. Haven't looked at them in YEARS. I must have snapped some pics of a few of them a while back and forgot.

This one is Tony Brandl's Phaser-Face and the Infernal Equinox. This was a little series that was full of charm and wonderful cartooning. I was in the United Fanzine Organization with Tony and I had the pleasure of sitting next to him at a S.P.A.C.E.* event around 2002 or 2003. He was a fun guy. At one point he stood on his table and loudly YAWPED. I'm not sure why but it caused more people to visit us. This particular year was not long after 9/11 and Dave Sim was a special guest (he was always a special guest come to think of it... this was probably around the time or before the time he was sort of shown to be a... nutter?).

Sim stood up and made some comment about terrorism, freedom, or something. There was some dude in the room who shouted over him with a counterpoint. It was this weird moment where I got the impression that a real and important political issue was being discussed and I was totally oblivious to it. I was vaguely aware that there were two broad strokes arguments and I didn't understand either of them. I was fairly clueless... I was there for comics, dammit!

Anyhoo... Phaser-Face was great. If I'm not mistaken, Tony left the small press comics scene a year or two later to go to university and became involved in acting. I have no idea where he's at today. First hit I get on Google is his old website, which appears to be fairly empty.

*Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, Columbus Ohio.