Saturday, July 4, 2020

An RPG Folder Reborn Then Killed Again

Continuing this series right here.

Time to look through some more random PDFs in my unsorted, messed up RPG folder.

Strike the Sandwhich by L.L. Blumire is 7 pages PDF in which exactly 1 page is content. I mean, it has a cover, which is cool. So we'll say 2 pages of content, counting the cover. So there are 5 other pages... some blank, some with legal mumbo jumbo. I'm not sure why on earth you'd do a PDF like that. Seriously... this entire thing could have been 1 page sans legal or 2 pages if you just want to include the OGL bit.

But ok, what is the content? It's an alternate hit roll system for Old School Essentials or any OSR type game. The idea is that you have an alternate AC method and a new "hit class" number. To hit your target, roll anywhere between those two numbers.

I mean... ok. But why? I don't want to be harsh to small publishers (I'm one of you), but I just don't know why this is needed. Or even desirable. It just feels like something you cook up as "you COULD do it this way" without much concern for why the hell would you. But you know... it's a simple enough system and I'm sure it works just fine. I just can't imagine why you would want to introduce another complication to solve a problem that kinda isn't a problem.

If I'm just not getting it because I'm possibly dense, feel free to comment and clarify.

Spell: the RPG by Taylor Smith seems to be a whimsical RPG (it's in the title) about casting spells. I have not read this, only skimmed it. I love the look and feel. I believe this is a game in which your actual words maybe determine what kinds of magic you can create, perhaps similar to The World Tree. I'm not sure though. Will have to read up.

Skimming it... looks like you use letter tiles, ala Scrabble, to build spells. I mean this sounds pretty dope*.

A criticism is that there's no table of contents. You just drop right into the book. And there's no index. For a 64 page game book to have no contents page and no index seems like a huge oversight. You can't just skim 64 pages and find stuff easily. You need some guidance.

*Can I say "dope"? I'm a middle aged white guy in Kentucky. Oh well.

Invasion of the Tuber Dudes by Ahimsa Kerp is a first level Old School Essentials adventure. I haven't read it yet but I'm adding it to this post because the title is funny and page 11 (12 of the PDF) features a new class: the skellington.

Skellingtons are great. They enter the adventure because PCs that drink from or fall into a certain clear river have a high chance of turning into a skellington. The immediate effect is they instantly become skeletal and gain 2d10 hit points. There's a funny bit that if there is a cleric present, they are immune to that cleric's turn undead ability... but only that cleric. So after this point the PC is dual classed as a skellington. They never again advance in their original class and only advance as a skellington. I mean... I love the shit out of this.

This one is worth it for the skellington class if nothing else. I'm a huge fan of adventure perils that utterly transform PCs. In campaigns I have ran, PCs have been turned into cyorgs on numerous occasions and a monkey at least once. The best part is that when given the chance to reverse the monkey transformation, the player said no. He liked it.

Friday, July 3, 2020


This is a Sand in the Bone post.

I wanted to do something interesting with some of the basics of urban life in the game. Food, drink, substances, sleep, and money. Because this game is heavy focused on setting.

For money, I didn't want a simple coin system where you spend 10 coins to get a thing that is valued at 10 coins. That's a fine system, especially if you don't want commerce and haggling to be part of the play. But I want to experiment with making commerce and haggling a part of the play.

In Kanebok, the city of the game, there is coinage but it doesn't really matter. Because people value a more abstract thing called glimmer, or glim for short. Basically, the idea is that the people of this world value that which glimmers. And the extension of that is the shine of the person who has the glimmer. Meaning: you can "sell" your worth by roleplay. It kinda doesn't matter how many coins or baubles or silver hoops you actually possess. That stuff is very abstracted. Instead, you have a dice value of glimmer that you possess. When you want to trade glim for something, you don't just plop it down on the counter. You can, of course, and that's OK. But it won't win you any favors or discounts.

Instead, you present your glimmer with flair, if you can. One way to do that is to offer some kind of story along with the glim. Like "See this copper disc? It is etched with the head of a bear that swallowed three men whole. The bear slayer extracted the copper from the bear's own blood and forged this disc." And the person you're talking to, perhaps a person from whom you want to get a nice new pair of boots or sword, may find that story charming and accept your offer. This also boosts your social status as a person with good tales.

Mechanically, it is about rolling some number of dice from your glimmer pool and trying to match or beat the target that the Judge* has in mind for the vendor. The coolness of your haggling attempt will influence that target (the Judge becomes the NPC vendor, listening to your pitch).

Of course this is a sword and sorcery adventure game, so I don't want sessions to be all about haggling. There will be quick and dirty rules for abstracting through this process. You don't have to roleplay every vendor interaction. In fact, once you establish a rapport with an artisan maybe you do end up with a standard glim value that is spend when you need their shit. Only when your social status changes or something about the vendor changes would you need to revisit an interaction.

And so on.

Other posts about Sand in the Bone you might find interesting:

Sand and Something
A Reflection
Weapon Whoopin'
Marks and Risk

*I'm using "Judge" as my go-to for GM. This is not settled yet, I may change it. But it god damn sure won't be "referee" nor do I want to go with GM. Of course I'm tempted to go with Sandmaster, because sand is really central to the game. But the Nounmaster thing is probably played out. So maybe Judge is just what it will be. Personally, I don't care for arguments about the language of naming a GM and how it colors the play experience. I don't believe it does color the experience because honestly nobody at the table actually calls you by GM or DM or whatever. Mostly it's just "Becky" or "Jude" or whatever your dumb name is.

Founders and Legends III

I did the art for the Founders and Legends III banner this year. Instead of a dragon, Luke & company wanted a chimera type creature. So this is what I did.

The idea was based on a really old sketch I did and never really used anywhere. This was called "Veng Bulak".

BX Character Generator

Saw this posted on FB. It's a nice little BX character generator. What I like most is how it includes the default list of basic skills from the game. Of course that game never calls them skills and it damn sure doesn't list them for you. But if you distill it, you get a list like this one. I might start including these on my character sheet designs.

There are other character generators. I might search them all up and make posts about them too. When I'm feeling froggy.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Front End Alignment

My car is pulling to the right. Tires have weird wear patterns. My front end is waaaay out of alignment.

Oh... wait. This is about gaming. So it's not that kind of alignment. Sorry.

(Come to think of it, I haven't even thought about front end alignments since I bought my first new car in the 90s. What was it about older cars? My old AMC Spirit was constantly out of alignment.)

Alignment sucks. I said so in this post, and I still mean it. You don't need alignment in D&D games. You might think you do, but actually in fact you absolutely do not. So ditch that shit right now. Of course, as I said in that other post, alignment is actually useful in other iterations of the game, such as DCC RPG. In that game alignment is both fun and useful, unlike in D&D where it is constraining and pointless.

Here's a newsflash: orcs are a racist trope. Indeed, it's true. The arguments for this are pretty solid and I'm certainly convinced. But also... who cares? It's really not a big deal. Orcs are dumb and boring anyway, so fuck 'em. Make your orcs more monstrous, less like Mongol hordes, and maybe that will fix it. I don't know. And I kinda don't care. But yeah... the racist trope allegation does hold water so stop bitching about it.

More importantly is the drow thing. It's quite god damn clear that having your prominent black skinned race of people be inherently evil is kind of a problem. This has been known for decades. Hell's bells, I remember joking about this shit in high school. And that was the 80s, when racism was just How Things Were™. I'm happy that WotC is addressing this problem, and the orc thing as well. It's a net good.

Stop bitching about it. They're trying to sell the game to young people, not our old asses.

TL;DR version:

Alignment in D&D is stupid and boring. Get rid of it. Or use it like DCC uses it.

The orc and drow tropes are kinda racist. Deal with that. You can still use orcs and drow if you want and if anyone tells you that you're being a racist you can say "Fuck off". It's fine. But honestly... orcs are boring so fuck 'em. Let's come up with new stuff.

EDIT: I just learned that Netflix removed the AD&D episode of Community. One of the best episodes! Fuck the bastards. What a dumb, stupid, cynical move.

Saturday, June 27, 2020


Here's a drawing I did for Phantasmagoria #3... the menacing mangrel will mangle your head!

Here's a rejected alternate version with darker background. I kinda like it... but maybe its too many lines.

Phantasmagoria Character Sheet

Here's a character sheet I drew for the most excellent DCC RPG zine Phantasmagoria! You should check it out. I actually quite like how this one came out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Cozmic Metal Heads

After much pondering and noodling and doodling, I finally decided that my robot game idea is really multiple ideas and one of them is a Troika! based romp kit about robots. And that's what I decided to focus on right now.

So, Cozmic Metal Heads will be a 48 page follow-up to Supercalla, set in the same universe and referencing some of the material in that book. This is in alignment with my original idea to create a series of these things all set in a universe known only as the Cozmos, or the Coz for short. I've been working on it pretty relentlessly these past few days and making excellent progress. Right now I'm neck-deep in writing the d66 Robot Models (Backgrounds). And, of course, finishing the robot art.

The deeper ideas I had for this are obviously going to make it into some other project later. I have ideas about how being a robot character means you can truly transform yourself over the course of a campaign. How would adding a shoulder canon alter the very nature of a robot designed to be a diplomat? I think that's fucking interesting.

I am not sure I'll dive into any of that in the Troika! book. Keeping to 48 pages with 36 robot models will be tight enough.

More later.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Bill Willingham

You have no idea how much the back cover of X1 deeply impacted my 14-yo mind.

I mean... what's to be said about Bill Willingham? He's a god damn legend. And he's a legend in two distinct domains. He's legendary as one of the artists of TSR's golden age, lending his talents to such immeasurably influential works as the Moldvay/Cook/Marsh Basic and Expert D&D sets and seminal adventure modules such as X1: Isle of Dread. He's also more legendary (to the wider public) as the creator of many comic books ranging from the early 80s' Elementals to the 2000s massively popular Fables (and including the 90s' deliciously pornographic Ironwood, for which there was in fact an RPG based on the Theatrix system).

It would be easy to say Willingham is high on my list of favorites merely because of nostalgia. And it is absolutely true that this has something to do with it. If he hadn't been present in the books I was looking at as my own artistic voice developed then I would certainly not have him on my list. But there's more to it than that. Like Frank Frazetta or Vaughn Bode, Willingham's style, line work, and overall approach to the subject matter resonates with me. I love how he draws forms and shadows. And people in capes.

This front piece from X1 perfectly illustrates Willingham's wonderful use of shadows, I think.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

A Girl and Her Bot

Michael Golden

Michael Golden! I first ran across his work probably via Micronauts, though in those days as a wee lad I didn't pay much attention to who was doing what. The first time I recognized his work (as in, knowing his name) was his Savage Sword of Conan covers, which I loved. Soon after, there was the absolutely badass reboot of Savage Tales featuring his work. Boom!

I always put Golden in a category with Richard Corben. They had some similarities in how they drew figures that resonated with me. There's something about the way Golden creates shapes that I am drawn to. His work is detailed and crunchy but also has an element of cartooning and exaggeration that isn't quite as excessive as what would come later with Image Comics.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

But Robots Are Not Human

Robots are people. Robots are not human. These are the first premises of My Metal Skull, an RPG about robots.

Robots are people because that's the only way you can have character. And character is essential to an RPG. I can't imagine an RPG in which I slip into the role of an object that has no character. But all of that is kind of moot because we're all people and no matter how hard we try, we cannot possibly "play a role" that isn't a character. So robots are people.

Robots are not human because duh. They're machines originally designed and built by humans. They're not human, but their fundamental purpose, architecture, and design are based on the needs and desires of human beings. Robots are not human but they speak to the conceits of humanity.

But robots are not human. So it's OK if they act kinda funny. Kinda weird. Kinda odd. They are not human. They're gonna have quirks that we humans don't get. Especially after we humans go extinct and the robots continue on, evolving in their own ways over long stretches of time. This game takes place in an uncanny valley epoch where robots are becoming their own species, for lack of a better word, but are still fundamentally the playthings of humanity. Their behavior is going to be all over the map.

And it's those two ideas that I find most interesting about this project. Both in the process of drawing robots and in designing a game about them, I find it fascinating that robots are people and are not human. I hope the game speaks to that concept in an adequate way.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Masked Crusader

So. I have a desk. And on that desk are some stress marks because the desk top is cheap. Probably ripped some tape off. Anyway, I kept seeing a face in this image (on the right... I know there's a face on the left). So I sketched out a face (on the left, see?) based on what I saw in the stress mark. While playing Call of Cthulhu, actually.

Mitch Byrd

I don't remember Mitch Byrd's work at all prior to the mid-2000s when I picked up Mitch Byrd's Notes to Draw From. I instantly fell in love with his clean linework, soft pencil drawings, and round, sexy women. Plus his advice is pretty solid, over all. He does a great job of explaining simple things, such as vanishing point perspective or the way gravity affects bodies. All of his books are solid if you're looking for tutorials and primers on basic art shit.

Plus you get these delicious chicks to boot. And who doesn't need this in their life?

And dinosaurs, oh my!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Robots Are People

As is my wont, I suddenly had a fixation on a thing in recent days and that fixation is only growing. You may have noted my many posts in the pinup art vein, a fixation I've had since I was 20 years old. That's not new or sudden, that's just me.

But now robots. Why robots? You know, I didn't even like the animated movie Robots. I can't remember why, exactly, but it felt disjointed and ungrounded to me. Or it was just too generic. I don't know. I didn't even love all the robot stuff in it.

But I love me some god damned robots. And I've been drawing a lot of them lately. I think the impetus was that I can just start drawing a robot straight to inks without a sketch. I mean... who's going to call me out on bad anatomy? It's a damn robot. Show me the correct anatomy.

Drawing robots is like drawing monsters. You can invent as you go and it's a brilliant, freeing experience. So I'm continuing to draw them daily. And of course, naturally, I'm noodling an RPG out of it.

I haven't made much progress on the RPG. I don't have a plan. I just have some notions.

Working title of the game: My Metal Skull

I flirted with My Metal Head, but the ubiquitous nature of "metalhead" signifying heavy metal music didn't mesh with my concept. I mean, I am a metalhead... but the game isn't going to be metal in that sense. It needs to be more fluid than that, not quite so locked-in to such a specific cultural aesthetic.

Some early game design beats*:

1. Like, this is a game about being given an identity (you were built, after all) and then having the autonomy to change and grow into your own robot. So it should have elements of random character creation along with choices (point buys, maybe). But the real meat of it is the way you evolve through play. No levels or anything like that. You just change organically. You find modules you can add to your body, or you lose them. And the catch is that adding a module alters you fundamentally. So you have to constantly make decisions about what kind of robot you are and what kind of robot you want to be.

2, It is RPG adventure. So there's a focus on danger, exploration, etc. But also it's got to have a strong social component. These are robots without living human masters. They are trying to figure themselves out. You need social mechanics.

3. Weights. I don't usually give a damn about encumbrance. But here I'm leaning into it. Your body will be composed of various elements (chassis, CPU, modules) and each will have a weight given in kilograms. You'll have to keep up with that stuff a little bit because you're a robot and knowing your physical parameters is important.

4. Lots of cool modules. Like skills, spells, magic items, etc. The modules you can acquire or build speak to who you are and certainly what you can do. So these are important and I want to have a ton of them pre-written with nice clean rules for making your own.

5. Setting. All I know right now is that humans are gone. So it's "post-apoc" in that sense. But I don't want to call this a post-apoc game or make too much of the fact that people are gone. People had their time and that time is over. Now it's robots' time. I'll lean into the fact that robots can trace their origin to people and thus "humanity" is something perhaps many robots seek to emulate. Also, I'll lean into the far-future nature of the setting and have some funky cool evolutionary stuff with wildlife and with wild tech. I have not decided if this will be space-faring yet. It kinda makes sense to make it space-faring. But it's "hard" sci-fi at least in the sense that there's no FTL drives. So the robots may tool around the solar system, making the setting the solar system and not just Earth.

6. Some have asked if this will be a Troika!-based follow-up to Supercalla. I certainly have had that Troika! that make it less ideal for this project, as much as I love that game. So no, this will not be a Supercalla expansion**.

*I was noticing recently that "beats" is a term used by various people when talking about their RPG projects. I found that interesting because it's a thing I've used in my private journals for decades. When would noodle a comic idea I'd write down "five beats" about the comic and then riff from there.

**I say that, but I'm in the earliest possible stage of development. Everything could change tomorrow.

Duane Bryers

I think it was the early 2000s when I laid eyes on Hilda, the pinup creation of the late Duane Bryers. Hilda was a pinup girl in the 50s. But unlike most other pinup girls, Hilda had some junk in the trunk. She was chubby, and lovely, and fun.

Bryers' style is akin to a lot of painters at the time and, to my eyes, reminds me very much of Norman Rockwell. Because everyone who painted in that style at that time reminded everyone of Normal Rockwell. Rockwell was the Frazetta of American culture painting.

But I think it's more fair to say Bryers was akin to Gil Elvgreen, a contemporary whose style is more similar to Bryers than someone like Alberto Vargas... all of whom are best known for painting pinup ladies. God bless 'em.

I don't know much about Bryers outside of his Hilda work. I wish I owned some of those old Hilda calendars. I wonder how much they go for on eBay? Anyway, I know he painted other stuff, such as western scenes, and perhaps Hilda wasn't what he wanted to be locked into. I don't know. But he did a lot of paintings of this one character and she seemed to be very popular.

It it interesting to me that though Hilda was often painted in comical situations, such as farting next to the stove, wearing a flour sack for a bikini, and falling off of logs, she is quite often painted in quiet, peaceful moments of bliss or even in overtly sexy poses. There's a shitty trend in media to present the fat girl as comic relief or a figure to be aided by the protagonist to make them look better. How often is the fat chick on TV allowed to just be hot? Or to just be, for that matter?

Hilda is great. I'm happy Duane Bryers created her and dedicated so many paintings to her adventures.

What Would I Steal?

Willingness to be goofy, charm, and those lovely paint strokes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020


Drawing a lot of robots lately. I have no idea why, but damn sure am thinking about a robot RPG now.

Monday, May 25, 2020


Hannes Bok

I don't remember when or where I first encountered Hannes Bok, but I'm glad I did. There's something magical about fantasy art created before fantasy became a codified genre. The expectations I have are subverted, the approach the artists take to their subjects is alien, and the work generally feels exquisite in a way that contemporary artists just can't manage. It's some kind of time lensing effect. I guess.

Bok's work is just unique and otherworldly. He goes from lush color work to black and white stippling with ease. His figures are odd, almost cartoonish, like something out of a freaky children's book from two centuries ago. And I love it.

What Would I Steal?

Weird shapes, odd figures, nightmare creatures. Willingness to abstract more than I'm comfortable with.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Richard Corben

Like many people, I probably laid eyes on Richard Corben's work for the first time on the album cover of Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell. Epic pic for sure. Left an impression, kind of like David Fairbrother Roe's unforgettable cover for Nazareth's Hair of the Dog.

(Ahhh... what happened to great album cover art? Like so many book genres, I suppose the switch to digital and the need for clear thumbnails has lead to a decline in cover art and a rise in simple design. I'll proudly wear my grognard suit on this one and say I miss great covers on books, music, etc. These days it's just a bit of graphic design with huge letters. Then again, I haven't really LOOKED at album art in a while. Maybe I'm wrong? Tune in to the end of this post for the answer.)

Richard Corben's art is weird. It's in that category with Frazetta and Vallejo (two artists I do not consider to be equals, sorry Boris but you're often boring) as sort of "epic" and "fantastic" but also it's underground. Richard Corben was a comix artist, after all, and he liked to draw tits and schlongs on his characters. His figures were also in the "I just stepped out of the gym and boy am I ripped" category, while also being in the "I'm big and soft and round" category. His proportions were strange while not being exactly wrong. And that inspired me. I have said many times how much I despise things that are too clean, trim, and polished. Corben's art, even when it has a careful polish on the surface, is never perfect. And I love that.

I keep saying things about Corben in the past-sense, as if his life is over. But he went on to achieve great things in the 2000s, doing Hellboy arcs and being inducted into various halls of fame. He is one of those great artists, like Vaughn Bode, who achieved greatness but not flatness. He was never a household name. They say Rush is a band's band. Richard Corben is an artist's artist.

Album Covers

Well, I did some Google-fu on recent album covers. What I found was that things haven't changed so much. Most of the pop type stuff or hip-hop is a face shot or body shot of the artist with the title. Kind of normal. Metal album covers are same as always... lots of epic themes, Satan, sci-fi landscapes, etc. So not much has changed. I suppose it's mainly the book market, particularly fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, that has changed in response to digital books. You need a clear thumbnail for your e-reader so you can see the author and title on a screen of a dozen books. That's the function that a book's spine used to serve on the bookshelf. Then you'd pull it out and see the awesome cover art. There's a lacking of awesome cover art in books right now. /rant

Friday, May 22, 2020

That Which Harsheth My Mellow: No GM

This is a mini-rant and an internal discussion happening in my brain. You are invited to join, respond, disagree, whatever. I may be wrong. I may be crazy. It's ok.

What I think of when I hear "GMless".

No GM? Are You Fucking Kidding Me?

I mean, who the fuck is supposed to stock the god damn dungeon? It's not gonna stock itself.

I have spent the last 6 or 7 years of my RPG life deeply involved in the OSR* as a creator of games, adventures, game zines, and as an artist contributing to a slew of OSR and other RPG products. But my first foray into any sort of organized RPG scene was at The Forge in 2000 where RPGs were being discussed as serious art. Pretentious? Sometimes. Opaque? Very. Important? Definitely.

I was enamored with the indie-RPGs movement and I contributed one idea to it that resonated. That was The Pool, and a subsequent follow-up called The Questing Beast.

That movement lead to the questioning of every assumption about gaming. One of those assumptions was the role of a GM or the need for a Game Master at all. And that lead to RPGs without GMs. Now, the idea of fucking around with the GM role was not new. Ars Magica had a rotating GM concept (which I suppose could be ignored). I would argue that Amber Diceless (gods! diceless!) also fucked with the GM's role a bit because it encouraged so much creative participation from players. After that, The Pool was certainly a game that blurred the lines between the role of GM and the role of Player. From my memory, Universalis** was the first RPG that actually went into the deep end of the pool (pun!) and basically removed that line.

I ducked out of the scene by maybe 2002 or 2003. I was doing this zine called Random Order Comics and Games and my interest in creating/talking about games was waning. This wasn't because I was losing interest in games, but because I realized I am not a game theory guy. When it comes to gaming, I like drawing skulls and rolling crits. I don't enjoy dissecting and critiquing and reinventing. I enjoy making shit up and sometimes - sometimes - I make up something actually good. Other people are much better at the "jibber jabber what make with them talkie words"*** than me.

Fast forward. I do some webcomics. I get into D&D again and DCC RPG. I make Black Pudding. I start sideways-looking at story games stuff - a scene I had been a part of so long ago. Things had progressed since my departure. I noticed in some discussions, particularly on the Twitters, how the idea of a game with a GM was becoming antiquated, gauche, and crude. "I don't play any game with a GM" is a phrase you can definitely find in multiple and frequent conversations.

And that is why I wrote this rant. Because it touches a raw nerve. I'm absolutely in favor of expansion, progress, change, and evolution (good, bad, ugly). I am absolutely not in favor of snooty fucking snoots snooting down on shit they consider to be passe or trite or, heaven's to fuckin' Betsy, regressive. Donald Trump is regressive. The 700 Club is regressive. Steven Seagal is regressive. An RPG arranged with a GM and Player setup is not regressive. Neither is a guitar amp, a mechanical pencil, or a coffee bean grinder.

In short: we can do both/and.

Now, I don't want to sound like an asshole who doesn't want people to express their views. By all means, if you seriously do not like GM games and don't want to play them then that's perfectly fine. I'm not complaining about you. It's only when you take that a step further and say that GM games are repressive or they represent a toxic hierarchy that I have to call your bullshit. Such games can be toxic in the same way a Twitter discussion can be toxic. But they are not inherently so and I wouldn't even accept the claim that they are more likely to be so. (You mean a table of co-game runners can't be toxic shits?)

The thing is, I've never played a 100% GMless RPG. I'd like to try one, just haven't. But I have written and ran games and played in games where the line between the GM and the Players was a little blurry. And that's a lot of fun for me. These days I always include some kind of line-blurring in my game designs. GOZR, the project I'm currently "working" on, includes mechanics that are akin to The Pool in that they allow Players to have some input/agency toward facts about the game world. I love that shit.

But most of the time when I play or run a game I just want a traditional GM/Player setup. Most of the time.


*OSR =
Old School Rennaissance
Old School Revival
Old School Roleplaying
Oh Shit Run

Practically speaking, the OSR manifests as games and game products that are largely or completely compatible with older versions of D&D. People will argue about this fact, but that's what you see with boots on the ground. The higher philosophy of OSR is often stated as a gaming movement that seeks to emulate the feel of older games. And you will see OSR described as any playing of, love of, or riffing on any older games.

Also, by "deeply involved" I mean I've mostly been creating stuff within an OSR framework. I haven't been involved very much socially and since the OSR has a strong social element (as does gaming in general) I didn't want to suggest I've been neck-deep in Reddit threads or hanging out at the most popular OSR watering holes. I have not. I was very active on G+, but mostly posting my own content and commenting here and there. I do my thing, some people like it.

**Memory lane. I was approached to do the art for Universalis but at the time I was in a funk or something and I didn't want to draw for someone else. So I put the creators in touch with my friend David Hedgecock, an exceptional artist, and the rest is history.

***I have an obsession with footnotes. Comic books taught me this. Anyway, that's a quote from Squidbillies.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Psi Battle

I drew this for Dyson Logos' Psi World zine Communiques From the Psi Underground. This came about because one day I happened upon some Psi World art and within a day or so I had purchased the PDFs and we were playing the game.

Here's the thing we've learned about this game. It doesn't want you to do psionics. I know this because if you create new characters by the book and you try to use your powers in the game you will very very quickly run out of juice. It feels like the starting Power Points are just too low for lots of psi action. Characters tend to have 20 or 30 PP, but even relatively minor powers often eat up 10-20 points per use. It feels like the equivalent of an old school D&D first level Magic-User... one zap and you need 8 hours sleep.

There are other weird things about the game. For example, the power called Detect Emotion costs 5 PP and lasts for a minute. Which sounds OK, except that you can't just detect emotions in general. You have to name an emotion and then detect it. So if you say "fear" and the GM decides the NPC is not afraid but is angry, you won't detect anything at all. Which, to me, seems to fly in the face of classic psychic characters. I want my PC to pick up on emotions in general. I want to scan a person and say "He's feeling scared, but more so... angry!". You can't do that with rules as written.

They do not want you to use psionics. They make the game very punishing to Psis.

Oh there are other oddities. The hit point calculation system is bonkers, for example. But overall it's a fine little game. It runs pretty smoothly. Just has some hiccups.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Break Time

Here's a chainmail chick enjoying some zzzs after a furious battle with a pesky serpent. You can check out the black and white version below.