Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day, lubbers.
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Saturday, September 18, 2021
I remember this fanzine coming out a few years ago and I was super impressed by the great cover art by Matthew Ray. It's nice to see this collection includes all of Matthew's covers plus a new one for the main book cover.
I didn't pick this zine up or read it before now. I MIGHT have it in PDF and just never got around to looking at it?
Anyway, it's a very nice looking book. The cover is hard and heavy and the whole book feels weighty and substantial in your hand. This is probably because the paper stock is decent and it's on glossy paper... kind of like a glossy magazine but heavier.
The binding is glue, so that's a downside. I feel like some of these pages are eventually going to come loose. Plus it means the book doesn't lay open. It wants to close when you open it up. Not a huge downside - I'm just spoiled by all these mega deluxe boutique hardbacks I've seen over the years. Still, even really nice, solid hardbacks don't always lay open flat. Old School Essentials Rules Tome is very nice and sewn-bound but it won't lay open, generally.
The title on the spine is not aligned so it's hovering close to the bottom edge. I suspect either a mistake in layout of in printing. Of course, duh. But it's really not a big deal unless you are super OCD about that stuff. Which is fine.
The layout is uber-basic and Thom Wilson, the publisher and author, uses the classic B/X Souvenir font (or perhaps Soutane, a similar knock-off?). This two-column look is immediately nostalgic. I do like that quite a bit in a "let's watch Andy Griffith" sort of way. But the full justification of the paragraphs is a bit jarring - not much use of kearning or adjusting the space between words. A bit awkward, which is kind of lovely in fact. I'm kind of a fan.
I also noticed some typos and other errors. I see that a lot in small press books. Again... I'm not going rag on that. These are labors of love and I am here for it. Editors and layout geeks may cringe but if they love old school gaming and small press publishing they also gotta smile.
Of course none of that matters if the content is no good. In this case that's not a problem. Again, if you're into old school RPGs and B/X D&D in particular, this is a tasty dish of yummy. Each of these short 10 issues is chock full of adventures, monsters, NPCs, magic items, spells, maps! And an interview in each issue with some old guard of the hobby.
And it is a zine. Like... proper zine. It has ads and want ads and product spotlights.
Here's my takeaway: If you like B/X D&D, you will enjoy this book and you will get some use out of it. There are plenty of little adventures to run in here and lots of simple new magic stuff to play with. If you like small press TTRPG books you will dig this. It's got a lot of cool bits.
So don't let any of my criticisms of the physical book or layout deter you. I do kind of adore this book. I honestly wouldn't want it to be any other way! This is in my wheelhouse.
Monday, September 6, 2021
Sunday, August 29, 2021
|Even the back cover is rad.|
Cool as these things were, they pale by comparison to some of today's slick productions. I'm not talking about large publishers here, either. I don't even know what is happening with the bigger RPG publishers these days. But in the DIY scene (OSR, Sword Dream, story games, whatever) there are books being produced that are jaw-dropping in their beauty and scope. Some of these productions are so wild, so artistic, so delicious they may even go too god damn far. I dunno. YMMV. I like 'em, but I don't aspire to them.
example. It's 48 pages long and presents a robust romp of a setting you can play on its own or as part of some other campaign. This one is system neutral so you can apply your flavor of RPG rules to it. But if you're not into that, don't let it deter you. This book contains lumberjack stuff, cool new gear, poison plants, familiars, squirrels, and sasquatches. It's delicious.
|"Conan is the damnedest bastard"|
I stumbled upon something buried deep in my file folders, lost and forgotten. Perhaps for good reason. Who knows?
This is a link to a file on Drive. It is a file created in Mod Plug Tracker, I believe. It's a music file. You can play it in WinAmp, for example.
It's a mix of Vincent D'Onofrio talking about Conan the Barbarian from the movie The Whole Wide World with some ambient drums and sounds I mixed in.
The file extension is ".it", which I think was for some tracker software from the early 2000s. I have no idea if the tracking scene is still a thing or not. I got into it in 2000ish and made a dozen or so tracks. This one and another called Mandarin Slice were my crown jewels, such as they are. I can't locate Mandarin so it is probably lost to the void. Possibly for the better.
Saturday, August 28, 2021
Thursday, August 26, 2021
Old school Magic-Users have a tough row to hoe at low levels. The payoff is that when they gain higher levels nobody can fuck with them.
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Sunday, August 22, 2021
I created a B/X reference PDF full of pinup art and naked ladies. It is juvenile and puerile and prurient. All art is © by me and everything else is stolen from some old 1981 text.
If you are not into cartoon naked chicks then don't click on this Google Drive link.
Saturday, August 7, 2021
I'm not great at capturing real people. This is a sketch of the character Woolsey from Stargate. I think it's *almost* there but I don't think his likeness is immediate.
One method an artist can use is to trace from a photo. "Trace" is one of those words that is quite loaded because a lot of us grew up hearing "He traced it" as a slur against your skills. To be clear: tracing is not a bad thing. It's a useful tool. Artists trace their own work all the time.
And it's even fine to use a photo reference under your drawing surface as a guide. Of course you don't want to literally copy it because a) boring and b) copyright. But using it as a guide is helpful.
In this case I wanted to avoid that and just draw from reference by "eyeballing it" as they say.
This is not a skill I've put to the test very often. I'm a cartoonist focused on fantastic subjects like spaceships and barbarians. But I did cut my teeth in life drawing classes all these many years ago and that foundation has been priceless for me.
Saturday, July 31, 2021
Man what a couple of weeks. I had to do some travel for work and while I do enjoy getting out, especially after this past year, I really wasn't ready for it. It was a stressful trip. So my past couple of weeks have been creatively barren, I'm afraid.
The worse thing about travel is people. I guess I'm more anti-social than I thought. I just wear out so fast when I have to mix it up with other people. This is one of the reasons I don't go to conventions very often. They are a mental grind for me.
Anyway, I'm back now. Maybe the fires of creation will heat up. Definitely no shortage of projects that are calling for my attention. I just don't know what sort of energy I have to give them.
Saturday, July 24, 2021
Saturday, July 17, 2021
Just sharing some of the rough doodles I did in Clip Studio Paint. If you're wondering why I'm talking about this at all you have to understand that I've been using Photoshop 7 ever since it came out. That's like almost 20 fucking years. If it ain't broke...
So I recently started messing with Clip because the software has gotten better and I had the desire to do more painting. Now, my biggest drawback is that I'm still rocking the same computer I've had for many moons. I'm kind of a creature of habit, you see. So far the limitations of this machine haven't exceeded my patience and well... if it ain't broke...
I do hope to get a new machine at some point. But not now.
Anyway. Sketches below were done with various brushes, mostly from the Frenden pack. Which is aweome. Fave brush so far is Consistent Carl because it's just god damn consistent.
Sunday, July 11, 2021
I have been using the same drawing software for... oh my god... when did Photoshop 6 come out? I used it, then got PS 7 when it was out and I've been using PS 7 ever since. Looks like version 8 (CS) started in 2003. So I've been using PS 7 since probably 2001. Now, I haven't been drawing digitally that long. I was using it to color and clean up scans prior to 2008 when I started using a drawing tablet.
Currently I'm testing out Clip Studio Paint. I messed around with Krita and Gimp and a few others but never "used them" to any real degree. But Clip is nice. So far I'm kind of loving it.
Saturday, July 10, 2021
Saturday, July 3, 2021
I'm working on a dwarf book. Working title is The Rock Hardy Book of Dwarfs, but that might change. My concept is to make this a black and white PDF and POD 48 pager. It is possibly the first in a series of setting books that very crudely describe my "traditional" fantasy setting of Yria. Basically most of what you find in the pages of Black Pudding would fit here.
Right now the book is at 9,000 words with a loose target of 10,000. So I could stop any time, clean it up, and finish the art. Like everything I do, this is meant to be an idea packet, an inspirational booklet. It will not be "complete" in any sense. It will be broad strokes, heavy on color.
The Rock Hardies are a mountain range in Yria where redneck dwarfs dwell. They like to fight, make and drink beer, and think of ways to win back their ancestral city of Frimmsreach.
All of this is subject to change per my whims. But as it stands, the book is compatible with B/X (Old School Essentials). It includes a lot of dwarf social stuff, beer, mountain monsters, etc. I certainly have toyed with the idea of making it a Troika! book or putting a Labyrinth Lord logo on it. Or even some other game engine or even completely system neutral. But honestly this was always meant to be a B/X setting* and I can't think of a compelling reason not to follow through on that.
I'll post more when I have more.
And yes, the Supercalla follow up is still on the table. Hellion Cross will see its day.
*B/X with a healthy smattering of advanced material, natch.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
It is once again time to crack open that folder of unsorted RPGs, randomly select a few, and dash out some thoughts about them. Just like in the days of old.
AGON by John Harper is a game about poor Greek bastards serving the gods in an endless divine war. This game looks pretty focused and themed. The layout is landscape, everything looks pretty good. It's one of those games that takes its time but doesn't seem to meander. We don't get an intro until page 8. It's a game unafraid to give you multiple pages of pictures and quotes to prime the pump.
So right off the bat the game sets up a clear purpose for the game - heroes (players) must gain glory by winning fights and contests. They must also carry out the quests given them by the gods. Players are explicitly in competition with each other and the GM (the Antagonist), trying to out-awesome each other. But also they are part of a team working toward the goals of a god so they must work together. That seems like a nice tension.
The mechanics are elegant. You have stats ranked by dice. Bigger dice = better stat. When you have a contest, you roll some dice. Whoever has the die with the biggest result wins that contest. I like it. Seems like a quick way to resolve conflicts and is well-suited to playing in person at a table. Makes me want to revisit ideas for dice pool systems.
So the whole thing takes place in a fictionalized ancient Greece with gods and monsters where strong heroes duke it out or have fantastic contests of a - shall we say - Olympic quality.
I would play this.
Side note: I recognized the name John Harper because you can't toss a stone in the RPG sphere without running into Blades in the Dark, another game of Harper's design. This guy is good. Watch out for him.
Repatriated by M.A. Guax is a pamphlet game, so it is minimal in nature. The Basic Rules are 2 pages.
It says it is a game about being exiled to a forbidden land that belonged to your ancestors and that you have some kind of divine right to claim it. There isn't much here in terms of explanation or guidance. There's no discussion of how to create such a setting or what you're supposed to do in it.
The rest of the game is rules for survival and task resolution.
There's also a separate equipment pamphlet.
This is a weird one. The design seems fine. You have a few attributes and some vulnerabilities: Hunger, Pain, and Stress. All dice rolls are 2d6 vs. your vulnerability.
The game isn't listed on the creator's page as far as I can tell so I honestly don't know how I got it. Maybe it was up for a time but taken down? I don't know the history of it.
Saturday, June 12, 2021
Here's the first pass at a GOZR character sheet. I think I got all the major elements and kept it very simple.
Sunday, May 30, 2021
Here's a nice review of Black Pudding #5 by Matthew Pook. Thanks, Pookie!
Has it been THAT LONG since #5? There's a #6 out there too and I'm "working on" #7. Each issue is taking longer to produce because my interests are drifting elsewhere. But I still love the zine and have no intention of putting it to rest yet.
Thursday, May 20, 2021
I have been working. Here's the cover art for GOZR, posted right here for the first time. And exclusive to the blog! I managed to get this exclusive from myself and it wasn't easy. I can be a real asshole to deal with.
Current status is the game is mostly finished but still will have to get some editing and stuff. So I find it hard to say I'm "almost done". In terms of pages, I have 90% of it finished. I'm working on an intro page, a page detailing map entries, index page, and character sheet. Then that will wrap it up.