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.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Black Pudding Character Sheet II

Another Black Pudding character sheet knocked out today. These will appear in issue #6 of the oozy, squishy zine.


EDIT: I am getting old and confused. I had the descending AC matrix on a sheet that was meant to be for Black Pudding OSR, which uses ascending AC. Silly me. Anyway, these two versions posted above cover the two different flavors of OSR gaming. The bottom one is pretty much standard B/X flavor.

Black Pudding Character Sheet

I finally did a superofficial Black Pudding Old School Playbook character sheet!

Download it here.

Where I Am


Sunday, December 23, 2018

A Bit of Dead Wizards

Every time I circle around to noodling about Dead Wizards, I focus on the setting.
The idea was to make this a standalone game, not a D&D-style game. But I really haven't thought of any interesting mechanics for it. It feels like hacking the core OSR rules platform will work just fine. This might even be a setting for an existing OSR rules set, such as Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord, with tweaks.

The first tweak is magic. In the first city of Kanebok, where the setting is centered, magic is simultaneously queer and yet woven into daily life. Magic isn't a single thing. There are different kinds of magic. But wizards - those who master otherworldly powers and ancient spells - are not trusted. They are not natural. And hanging over the entire city is the belief that the four greatest wizards from the time of the wizard war still linger in some kind of quasi-living state, subtly affecting the living world with their unending machinations against one another.

(See, that last paragraph was meant to be a discussion of how the magic rules differ from standard OSR rules and yet all I talked about was the mythos of the setting.)

Wizards in this setting would not be limited arbitrarily by spell slots and number of spells allowed per level. Instead, they would acquire their magic however they can. It's an organic process. Players would seek out magic and once they find a spell and figure out how it works, they can cast that spell as often as they like. The limiters would be in the cost of the spell. Each spell would be described in a bit more detail in terms of how it is cast so that spell components, casting time, and other costs are baked right in. There is no need for spell slots when you have to sacrifice blood, treasure, money, or soul to cast a spell.

(Frankly, this is how I'd like to run ALL my D&D style games.)

Another tweak was with weapons. I did a couple of pages of notes and screenshots of various archaic weapons from Egypt and other African regions as well as Persia and some stuff from Southeast Asia. My idea was that each weapon would have it's own perks and maybe a drawback. So your basic d8 sword is the scimitar, for example. A great scimitar would do a d10 or d12 and would require both hands to use. If a weapon has a hook on it, then you'd be able to hook targets, disarm, trap, etc. This is all really just being very specific with the classic weapons list more than anything. Giving the battle options more color as well as more mechanical bits and bobs.

The only other rules tweak I had in mind was to use the attack values table as a basic rule for all mechanics. I posted about it here. I still think that's a boss idea, but I just don't know if it's boss enough to justify using it here.

Fugly God

Saturday, December 22, 2018

A.P. Furtado Art

My friend Anthony Furtado did this badass pinup for me years ago when my comic Pan-Gea was being published by Ape Entertainment. I haven't dusted this off in a LONG time. It's so sweet.

The characters are Brig Iceclover in the rear and Fawn Rainchild in the front. These are both Daughters of Gea, essentially amazonian princesses in my grand personal fantasy mythos.

Anthony once did a short comic for Heavy Metal magazine and he worked at Ka-Blam. He's a top notch illustrator.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Krita Colorize Mask

I was playing around with Krita, coloring some existing drawings. In Photoshop, I used a filter called BPelt to do quick flat color fills on line art. It worked very well. All you had to do was create some line art with closed loops... that is, you couldn't have any open shapes. Like if you had a person's eye you couldn't leave the ink line open or else it would just fill the eye with the same color as the face.

BPelt would fill with random colors. So then you could easily use the paint bucket tool to click and fill each area with the color you prefer. Then it was just a matter of the fun work of doing highlights and what-not.

In Krita, there is a tool called Colorize Mask. You click it, then you get a mask on a layer and you can just sort of draw color lines where you want color to go. So you want the ork to be red, just draw a red line in the ork's body. A blue line across the sky, a brown line across the adventurer's face, etc. Then when you finish the mask it will fill those areas with those colors.

It's pretty nifty. For flat colors, this is the only way to fly. Believe me when I say there's no fun in carefully "hand coloring" vast areas of a drawing with a totally flat color. Might as well let Krita do it for you. Then you can pump your efforts into highlights, color adjustments, shadows, textures, or whatever.