Monday, September 2, 2019

Zoa Space Fantasy Design Notes #1

I'm in the early stages of creating a Troika!-based sci-fantasy RPG. The working title has always been Zoa Space Fantasy, but that is subject to change. An alternate title I have on the table is Hellion Cross, which is the name of a specific sunrealm within the larger setting of the Coz.

Here are a couple of design choices I'm currently wrestling with.

1. Should this be a Troika! setting or a standalone RPG based on Troika!? My inclination is to make it standalone. My only reason for entertaining the idea of making it a setting is that it would be slightly easier to pull that off. Of course this game has precious few rules so really we're not talking about a huge amount of work to make it a standalone book. The benefit of going that direction is also that I can incorporate "house rules" directly into the actual rules.

2. I had this notion that the Backgrounds would either be in 3 sets of 36 or 6 sets of 36. I feel like 6 sets is a little overkill. It would be fun to create that many, but maybe that would make choosing a Background a little harder. Rolling for it would be as easier either way.

3. How much of the setting is implied by the Backgrounds vs. explicitly described in other sections? What I love about Troika! is that the Backgrounds do in fact give you a sketch of a setting and that's really all you need in order to get a game going. From there it can go anywhere. So here the conceit of the world-builder comes into conflict with the game's very simple aesthetic. The more I enforce the crunchy details of this world the less room you have as a player to be playful and creative. I have always gravitated to things that give me more room to play and be creative, so why would I want to create something that hinders people?

What I'm leaning toward right now is to have the vast majority of the setting suggested within the Backgrounds and maybe give the broad setting an Isle of Dread-style treatment... brief little paragraphs describing the major concepts and places - information that would fit on a couple of pages at most.

Ultimately I'd like to make this a fairly visual book, saddle-stitched and in the realm of 48-64 pages. Probably in color, like a 70s comic art album. A thing that inspires role-playing more than directing it.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Blue Wizard (finished)

I posted the sketch for this guy a while back. Here's the finished art. The version appearing in The Hole in the Oak is cropped a bit.

Back in my day, sonny, we rolled our only d6 up hill in the snow. Both wa-- well you get what I'm sayin'.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Sorsha Corvette

Here is spacer chick Sorsha Corvette written up for Troika! RPG. I'm diving in hard and fast to work on my game Zoa Space Fantasy!

Sorsha Corvette

Skill 6
Stamina 20
Luck 12

Advanced Skills

3 Laser Musket
2 Hand to Hand Combat
2 Hand Canon
1 Pilot
2 Nuclear Karaoke

Possessions

Zot Laser Musket (2,3,6,8,10,15,20)
2 Plasma Packs
RIG 77 Hand Canon (2,3,4,5,6,8,11)
3 Rig Rounds Cartridges
Siperion Hyper Screen (2 armor)





But what the actual fuck is Troika!?

Right. So mostly this blog has been focused on material compatible with old D&D, particularly the 1981 Basic/Expert variety. My most beloved and magical friend. Hell, the title of my blog includes the line "adventures for 1st to 14th level characters"... a direct reference to B/X D&D.

Troika! is not D&D. And yes, the "!" is in the title.

Troika! is an RPG written by Daniel Sell. I believe he had help from Jeremy Duncan, who did art for the game. Like Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry are "clones" of old D&D, Troika! is a "clone" of Fighting Fantasy, a British RPG that evolved from some choose-your-own-adventure books in the 80s.

(Here I am in unfamiliar territory. While I have become an armchair expert on classic D&D I am an armchair idiot with regards to Fighting Fantasy.)

So, the broad strokes of Troika! are as follows.

It is a very simple game. It uses d6s only. Characters have Skill, Stamina, and Luck as well as a collection of Advanced Skills and Possessions. That's pretty much it. You roll 2d6 vs. your Skill + Advanced Skill (where applicable) to do stuff, trying to roll under. When opposed, you roll vs. and try to roll higher than your opponent. When Stamina is reduced to zero you die. You are sometimes asked to Test your Luck - rolling under it to avoid some fate or another.

When you use Advanced Skills you can put a tick mark next to them on your sheet. Then, when the time seems appropriate, you can roll to see if you improve them.

There is little more to it than that. And it is quite a beautiful thing. I ran a short game of Troika! set in the Zoa Space Fantasy universe a few months ago and rather enjoyed the shit out of it. So I'm actively working on a full RPG. More later.

Bad Bunny Landing

Here's a re-colored version of an old drawing. I like this much better. More atmo!


Friday, August 30, 2019

Priest of the Upper Ocular Cavity

This is a character background for Troika!, an RPG based on Fighting Fantasy. Imagine that... a sort of "clone" that isn't based on D&D! Whhhhaaaaa??


Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Hole in the Oak Adventure Module

The Hole in the Oak, an official adventure module for Old School Essentialsis now available at DriveThruRPG. I illustrated this adventure, which was written by Gavin Norman and published by his imprint Necrotic Gnome.

A hole in an old oak tree leads characters down to
a maze of twisting, root-riddled passageways, the
chambers of an ancient wizard-complex, and the
banks of an underground river where once a reptile
cult built their temples.

A classic dungeon adventure for characters of 1st to
2nd level

Babies. They're going to get you.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Artin' All Over Myself


I really like this old sketchbook page.
Today I have been spending a lot of time just going through art files. I have a lot of them. I have many that I forgot about drawing. Some of them are good, some bad. Some really good. And some really quite bad.

Which of course is entirely subjective, like all art.

Unsurprisingly, at least 40% of my art is in the genre of the pinup. That is to say... saucy. Sexy. Busty. Etc. I've been drawing pinup art since about 1991 when I was 21 years old.

Well... let's think about that. One of my first D&D characters was Catina, a warrior woman in a tiger skin bikini. I drew lots of pictures of her fighting and posing.

So I guess I actually started doing pinup art when I was a teen... the same time I found D&D, Tanith Lee, Conan, and girls.

Sifting through art is a great way to gauge your skills and shortcomings. I had a spell that lasted several years between 2008 and 2012 where I was cranking out shitty art. Like, some of it was just objectively bad. I was learning how to draw digitally and often falling into the pitfalls of sloppy digital work.

Turns out the secret to drawing digitally is the same as any other drawing.