Sunday, December 29, 2019

Drawing an Adventure for Black Pudding

I'm working on issue #6 of Black Pudding. In this issue, I'm doing an adventure based on a totally badass map created by Evlyn Moreau. Like the one I did in issue #2 from a map by Karl Stjernberg, I'm slamming this together on-the-fly. I like working this way. I like just shoving things around my canvas and seeing what fits. I can compose both visually and thematically and technically all at once. I can then go back and refine, moving things as needed, linking up adventure elements in ways that feel organic. It's such a creative and fun process. I'm thankful to have such good material to work from as Evlyn has provided!

Here's a WIP of the adventure, which is tentatively titled "Underground Down Below". You can see the gray border that lets me know the safe area where stuff should go so it doesn't get cut off in print. I have an overlay of lines to help align things, as needed. I'm still toying with certain elements, such as whether or not to include the key numbers next to the description since they are buried in some of the map snippets. Also, those random tables are just screenshots from the spreadsheet I have open where I'm creating them. Once I decide on the tables' contents I'll export them to a high res PDF, then import that into Photoshop and paste the 300 ppi tables into the adventure itself. I'm like a kid with toys!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Supercalla PDF is Live

Supercalla is alive! The PDF is now available for your road rage pleasures.

What's in it?

  • 36 character backgrounds such as Old Lawdog, Long Distance Runner, Trucker, and Three-Eyed Demon Biker
  • Space weapons such as Blas-Tar Boppers, chi destabilizers, and MasSault Atomizers.
  • The Law
  • Space magic
  • Random tables for fun and profit
  • A delicious layout by Matt Hildebrand!
So get your motor running! I suggest listening to Judas Priest, perhaps "Breaking the Law" and "Heading Out to the Highway", to get this party started.

NOTE: There is a print option coming.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

That RPG Folder You Tried to Shoot But Couldn't Pull the Trigger

Continuing this little series of random RPG file sorting. For fun, not profit.

Gangbusters B/X Edition by Mark Hunt is exactly what it says on the tin. It's 1920s gangsters using 1981 B/X rules. It's a 64 page rulebook, which is in my wheelhouse (I love me some 64 page rulebooks). The layout is simple and to the point, the font size is gracefully larger than the old games, and the whole affair it just kinda nice. The art is public domain, but well-chosen. It's not terribly expensive. I'd run this in an Untouchables-type of scenario, though I might be tempted to inject some weirdness into the mix (the book does offer some notes about doing that as well).

I don't know what this is. It is a single page PDF describing a metal future and declaring that you have been born into this time of ass-kickery. That's all there is. What the fuck is this??

Hey, Flesh For the Witch Queen is a one-page dungeon by the impressive Jason Sholtis. I might run this bastard.

Sholtis dungeon!

Amazon Warrior is a character class by Jeremy Reaban with a kick ass cover by Patricia Smith. What I don't like about it is that it's not female only. In fact, Jeremy actually uses the male pronoun throughout the text. Not sure why. I mean, the class probably works just fine but still.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

That RPG Folder You Accidentally Put in a Delete Me Folder

Continuing this series.

Maximum HP is a 1e style RPG zine by Lloyd Metcalf and Raven Metcalf chock full of goodies. This issue seems to be mainly about dwarves and a place called Dwarfhome. Lots of NPCs, description of a village, an adventure, etc. Good stuff for a classic AD&D night. Lloyd and Raven do up the art nicely too.

Rubik's Cube Character Stat Generator by Goblin's Henchman is a weird little ditty. It's a clever way to generate PC ability scores with a cube. Fast and simple. I can imagine players totally abusing this, especially if you give them any time with eyes on the cube. But still.

Supercalla Layout

The new Troika! setting book, Supercalla, is in the layout phase. My friend Matt Hildebrand is putting it to the page as we speak. Here's a sneak peak...

The book should be released into the wild in a couple of weeks or so.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

The RPG Folder Your Uncle Bert Stashed Under the Bed

Continuing this series.

This thing feels endless. But some goodies are lounging around in this forgotten hole. Also, I just noticed I'm going alphabetical because that's how the folder is defaulted. Too bad there's no "shuffle". But maybe I'll hit them randomly next time anyway.

No cover on this one, just a one-sheet list of d20 backgrounds for your D&D character. The mechanics are simple enough that I think they could easily work for nearly any version of the game, but certainly they will work flawlessly with OSR-friendly versions. And this is super fucking useful. I'm gonna put it in my gaming folder (like, a real folder that you hold in your hands) so I can whip it out next time I run a new game. It comes to us from the Zenopus Archives, a fantastic resource specifically based on the 1977 Holmes edition of D&D.

Bandits & Basilisks is a very short retroclone of OD&D by Albert Rakowski, another person I absolutely do not know. The game is only 7 pages or so and has no classes. I like that idea, no class. The text says you only have to roll for one thing: arcane lore. It's a percentile roll. But you also have to roll for surprise and, I guess, hit points and damage. But those ideas aren't fleshed out. I would say this is not just bare bones, it's barely bones. But if you already know how-to-OSR, and if you have this thing at your fingertips, I don't see why you couldn't run a good game with a few interesting little touches that aren't in most OSR games (such as that lore score or lack of classes). Also, Rakowski seems to be no slouch in the art department (see left). So why use public domain art on this PDF? I'm sure the answer is out there, probably on his blog.

I would use this for a small campaign in a very specific setting, perhaps in the classic 70s sci-fantasy vein.

Eleanor Bergmann's cool hand art.
Bastard Magic by D. G. Chapman, illustrated by Eleanor Bergmann, is a weird little book of hand
spells. Described as low level or cantrips, these spells may be possessed by any type of character. Each spell requires you to put a tattoo on that hand so that each person is limited to one spell per hand. Flippin' cool, huh?

I would use this in a dirty Lankhmar-style city and it would be knowledge held by a thieves' guild or something like that. I think that's a nasty good idea.

Friday, December 13, 2019

That RPG Folder We All Have

The digital age! Time of treasures. Time of downloading far more RPG stuff than you can ever possibly read, let alone use.

(Better to have too much RPG than not enough RPG!)

I've been going through my folder and cleaning that shit up. I mean, how am I gonna find a 2 page dungeon crawl written for Advanced Boggarts & Unicorns if I don't have it in the folder with AB&U?

This post is a kind of on-the-fly journal of discovery, wonder, horror, and awe. Lo how many RPG goodies and baddies have I neglected to ever look at, lying and gathering digital dust on my HD? Let's find out.

Tunnel Goons by Nate Treme... a one-page RPG. Roll 2d6 to do stuff. Has an inventory score, which is cool. I guess I would use this for a one-off dungeon crawl in a bar.

Tomb of the Overfiend by Stuart Robertson with map by Matt Jackson. Nice little one-page dungeon for something called "weird west". I don't know what that is, but maybe I'll run across it later. I'd use this for a first adventure in a Barrowmaze-style campaign, if I wasn't going straight up weird west.

The Atlas of Titan is apparently a 380 page massive compilation of maps from Fighting Fantasy's Allansia setting. Put together by Simon Osbourne. That's a metric ton of work for a fan project. But what lovely maps!

One of the great maps in The Atlas of Titan.

Mutants Down Under... pretty sure this was one of those illicit downloads from a dubious website. Anyway, don't you love that fuckin' cover?

A Magical Society Aggressive Ecology: The Slaver Fungus is a name too long to utter. It looks like a book about fantasy fungus by Joseph Browning, the Expeditious Retreat Press guy (he published like ten million OSRIC modules, remember?). Looks pretty cool if you need a funky fungus for your fantasy frolics.

Oh man, this one right here! Azurth Adventures Digest is one of those lovely little ditties that hits me in the feels. The digest format, the comic coloring, the wonderful art and maps by Jeff Call and Jason Sholtis. Just delicious. Plus it's a damn fine looking adventure book written by Trey Causey.

I'd love to run this. I'd also love to mine it and use the stuff inside, such as the cool pirate names table.

Time to scoot. I'll revisit this project later.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Story and Games

I've been listening to the most excellent podcast Fear of a Black Dragon. Kind of on a bender with it. I started with the first one I could find in the feed and just let it autoplay over the last week when I'm driving or whatever.

Great show. I love the hosts' enthusiasm and their non-OSR approach to OSR adventures. They clearly appreciate a good old fashioned dungeon romp, but they are not locked into the bog standard, quasi-cultish devotion to a rose-colored-glasses version of 1970s-style gaming. They are quick to dismiss things they don't find useful at the table and introduce ideas that are often treated as anathema to OSR. Y'know... very very bad things that come from nasty story games circles.

I love it. Fuck gaming purity. Gimme the good stuff. I'm the guy who does Black Pudding, which is just about as OSR a thing as I'm capable of producing. It's got motherfuckin' descending armor class for pete's sake. Don't question my street cred.

But I'm also a guy who created a proto-story game before that term was coined. And it had legs and it is still played and talked about today, god damn 20 years later (holy shit). So clearly I have a soft spot for styles of play that aren't purely about exploration, combat, and acquisition of treasure.

And yet... and yet I still approach story game elements at arm's reach. There is a reason that after 20 years I still never play or even think about The Pool, unless someone brings it up. I clearly have play style preferences that aren't in alignment with the meta-fiction elements that are the hallmarks of story games. For example, I still cringe when I think about GM-less games. I think it's because I almost invariably approach gaming as exploration and for the exploration to be meaningful I feel like the fiction world needs to be grounded in one place or one person's imagination - modified by the choices of others, of course. But not driven by an equally shared creation of the fiction.

Or so.