Several drawings of the sun in GOZR because it was allegedly the sun that destroyed the world of the Pretty Ones. What did they do to incur the wrath of old Sol? Rampant use of magic and super science? Probably.
Saturday, March 27, 2021
I don't know shit about Cutty Sark. Are they still active? (edit: doesn't appear so)
Die Tonight was a good listen. For me. But hey, if you didn't grow up in the time when this kind of album was being made then maybe this will sound like hot garbage to your ears. It isn't clean or exceptionally produced. It's rough and basic and I dig the shit.
So I'm not a music expert. In fact I'd call myself a music IDIOT. I like stuff, I don't like stuff, and I really struggle to identify why. I also struggle to compare music or talk about it in a meaningful way. That being said, this album reminds me of metal groups from the 80s such as Mercyful Fate and maybe Accept or Running Wild. If you like that shit, you might like this shit.
The cover is interesting. The name "cutty sark" is a ship, right? So this is a stark contrast to the art.
Gaming it: A band of madness-plagued desert warriors ravage the land, burning stone monuments (?). The PCs must track them and put a stop to their evil! The leader, Cutty Sark, has a demon sword that possesses his soul and the souls of his band mates.
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
In this post I showed a full page table of recent events to kick start a GOZR game. Somehow I fucking lost the page. I know, how in the actual FUCK do you lose something you spent hours working on? I dunno. But I damn sure did. I've scoured my files and backups and came up with nothing. So I must have not named this file correctly to begin with, then I deleted it thinking it was junk.
Anyway, I did have a fairly robust JPG of the file and I managed to blow it up, tweak it, and added some cool bg graphics to spice it up. I think the result is better, though I'm still pissed at myself. As a general rule, increasing the size of a raster image is a shitty idea and you should never do it.
Kids, don't do as I do, do as I say.
Monday, March 22, 2021
Another design choice I made on GOZR was to make items unique. Like... there isn't a catalog of magic items. There are random lists of magic stuff on tables but not a section of "magic items". This is carrying on the spirit of games like DCC RPG wherein we're encouraged to make everything in our adventures unique to that adventure.
That isn't to say stock items or stock monsters are bad. I absolutely disagree with that take. And in fact many of the creatures for GOZR are standardized. Because they're not necessarily weird magical weirods, but savage primordial species. This is sci-fantasy and since the PCs are already weirdos with a wide variety of physical appearances, I'm making the monsters more akin to what you'd find in an Edgar Rice Burroughs planetary romance than in a D&D monstrous tome.
Sunday, March 21, 2021
I love finding old metal albums I haven't heard before. Messiah Force is a band I had never heard of until recently. I love the shit out of the album cover! A good cover can sell me on a record that might actually be just OK.
Is this a good record? Well... it's a record of its time. I think it's pretty good. I didn't turn it off, I finished it. I like the female lead vocals (?), and it's got some nice 80s crunch (date on the YouTube upload says 1987). If you're into 80s thrash and metal then you probably can't go wrong here.
I'm guess the theme of the cover and album is nuclear winter, like so many 80s metal albums. Man... I used to live in fear of nuclear annihilation. Thanks, Cold War. Fuck off.
It's been about 1 year since I started working on this project. In that time I have put a lot of hours into it, off and on. I put it down for a month or two, then I pick it up and work on it relentlessly for a few weeks, then I put it down again. Such is the way until I reach the point of no return.
Current page on the drawing board is about towers.
The land of GOZR is a far-future sci-fantasy wasteland in which the Pretty People angered the Sun and were wiped out for their affronts. Now only the lowly gooz remain... the ugly ones who served the Pretties so long ago. The ruined world is full of ruins. Gooz, poking their heads out after all these years, are bold enough to explore them.
The ruins include a lot of towers. Any party of PCs wandering the wilds has a 2 in 6 chance of spotting a tower on any given day. Of course the GM is free to pre-populate the setting with towers as they wish. This game is not proscriptive about how you play, it isn't terribly procedural, though it does include lots of procedures for generating randomness. It's a god damn romp, after all, not VCR instructions.
So right now the towers page is just a few random tables to determine height, thickness, and general traits. I might include an example tower too. We'll see.
One of the things that sparked my imagination while doing this page was a little table I included about the tower's vertical situation. One possible result is that it is already fallen over, so you could have a little tower crawl through a fallen tower where all the inner space is agog.
I could cap this at one page, and probably will, at least for now. Just a simple page of random tables for tower generation. I went a bit over the top on magic (10 pages) so I'm already swollen bigger than my intended 28 pages (I'm at 33 and not finished yet).
Far too soon to say, but my hope is to publish this as a "issue one" and then get into a second floppy that has more options. Like... you can just use the first floppy and be fine but if you want more fun shit you get the subsequent issues. We'll see how it pans out.
Thursday, March 18, 2021
Complete in his raw glory, Decius Vladrumir, Cobold Ftr/Ass.
This is waaaay old. I found it among all my oldest RPG junk. This is a typical character sheet for me from that era of my life. This would have been maybe 1986, about 2-3 years after I discovered D&D. I borrowed the AD&D DMG + PHB from a friend and copied a lot of stuff by hand.
I was versed in basic D&D and only just flirting with AD&D as I was probably just about to enter my first "real" campaign with friends and we were definitely using that witch's brew of mixing all the rule books into a pot and sipping. So on this sheet you can see he is dual-classed, for example.
I'm curious about the upper right hand corner. Bare hand combat. I suspect this is take from one of the D&D box sets bc I remember that whole "weapon equivalent" thing, perhaps from the Mystic class? I'm not sure. It's been a long time.
Cobolds were a race from my Midaka setting. Basically a riff on dark elves, but they were distinctly blue-skinned.
Art-wise, this was early of course and at this time I was definitely using nibs and bottled india ink for most things. Messy, scratchy. I did this for a few years and have rarely "dipped" back into it.
Favorite part: The AC table. I preached about how descending AC is fine and easy and all you need is that table on your sheet so it's nice to see that I was walking the walk even back then. Though going to -14 might have been unnecessary. Chalk it up to flipping through Legends & Lore (Deities & Demigods) more than ANY other D&D book.
Saturday, March 13, 2021
Spent much of today working on Hellion Cross, the new Troika! book. Here's the Aquabot background.
|Bad seeds grow weeds... Crispin Glover|
I am enjoying our exploration of Sprechenhaltestelle and the act of unraveling the mechanics of this old game. But I can't say yet if I actually LIKE the game itself. It was far too unfathomable at first to get any sense of what it was supposed to be. If you go into it thinking of James Bond or almost any spy movie of the last few decades you'll be supremely disappointed. You really cannot do slick spy shit that looks choreographed. Most of the time you'll find yourself fumbling to lie or cheat your way into the massage parlor, engaging in petty theft, and wrestling for possession of peoples' .22 ball point pens while bleeding from switchblade wounds and searching for a safe place to recover.
If the mechanics were quicker and simpler, I'd say this was more Snatch than Goldeneye. Which sounds pretty dope to me.
Will The Device live through this mission? Hard to say. We get lucky a bit. But I have this weird feeling he's going to take a few rounds from a 9mm FN Browning High-Powered self-load (Belgium) before this is all over. He certainly believes it.
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Power metal! I am not a fan. Generally... I don't enjoy power metal. Which is weird because I cut my teeth on bands like Helloween and Iron Maiden. But the high-end singing and faux-symphonic music styles I just find to be a little bit too cheesy, even for a bastard like me.
But sometimes a power metal album comes along that I happen to listen to and enjoy. This is one of them.
This album is awesome! Killer riffs, cool solos, and driving song compositions keep this one on fire. Cheesy? Fuck yes it's cheesy as fuck. But it's nice cheese. Not stinky.
And of course check out that sweet ass cover art by Dimitar Nikolov. That could be a dwarven king in a dwarven hall. Dunno, but it kicks ass.
Sunday, March 7, 2021
Speaking of Conan, I had a thought while thinking.
Here's my Conan: He is a muscled man, beardless and tan. He is fair and respects his word. He will treat with you with respect as long as you honor your own word. He will gut you otherwise and not lose a wink of sleep. He loves the ladies and the wine and the adventure. Every day is a new day that should lead to some cash, which leads to some wine and women. Conan doesn't wear a lot of armor and doesn't indulge in speeches.
My Conan is based mostly on Savage Sword comics and the 1982 movie with a smattering of Robert E. Howard. This is my Conan.
People will argue that this is not an accurate portrait of the Cimmerian. Only the image of Conan presented in REH's writings are true, everything else is false. And I get it. If you want to be an originalist to the works of a dead man, I get it.
But let's be honest. REH wrote maybe 21 Conan stories, and most of them are really cool. But since his death there have been many more stories written, many novels, some movies, cartoons, RPGs, and a metric FUCKTON of comic books. One could inundate oneself with Conan material and be a Conan fanatic without ever reading Robert E. Howard.
This is upsetting to originalists, but it's the god damn truth. If you spent your youth reading Conan comics and never read a single Howard story you are still a Conan fan and you still have Conan in your blood, by Crom. Don't let the dogs tell you otherwise!
But of course by all means you should read Howard. Most of those stories are pretty good shit. The longer ones are not my cup of tea, but worth a look.
Saturday, March 6, 2021
I've posted many times how much I love Al Qadim. I have been collecting the books for years (not finished yet, but getting close), but really I've only played in one Al Qadim game one time in the mid 90s and I've never ran it. Maybe I never will.
An interesting thing about this setting is just how inaccurate it is to Arab culture and the mythos in which it plays. For example, my understanding is that the tales we call Arabian Nights are actually Chinese in origin (?), not Arabian. but folks in the Arabian world, having also grown up knowing about these tales, assume they are Arabian. There are lots of other culturally inaccurate ideas in the game that you can Google for yourself.
I'd love to say these things don't matter because it's an elf game. And... yeah... I mean, mostly that's true. But we'd be fools and - worse - assholes if we totally ignored it. This is a game series based on a distinctly American male's idea of what Arabian fantasy is. More specifically, it's based on a certain generation of American males: mine.
When I was in first grade, c. 1976, I remember our little asses being marched into the school's auditorium to watch a movie. I remember it vividly because we were arranged from shortest to tallest (so people could see over each other, natch) and I was second in line. The only person shorter than me was Vickie and her pigtails. I loved Vickie. Being placed next to her in line, for me, was an early romantic experience that filled my wee mind with ideas. I was her "taller man".
Anyway. That's not important. The fact that she ignored me is meaningless. The point is we watched the 1963 classic Jason and the Argonauts, then only a little over a decade old. It was phenomenal! Warriors, ships, giants statues, skeletons! My mind reeled with the imagery looming over me.
This has jack shit to do with Arabian Nights, but it's this sort of movie, along with mummy movies and other adventure flicks, that fueled the imagination of Jeff Grubb, author of TSR's Arabian Adventures setting book that launched the Al Qadim campaign series.
Jason and the Argonauts, the mummy movies, Sinbad, the Thousand and One Nights... these are the sources for Al Qadim. Arabian mythology and history are really a distant second. The setting is a hodge podge of middle-world cultures and ideas, all filtered through the brain of a white male American riffing on ideas that inspired him in the 60s and 70s. And it's fucking fantastic! I love Al Qadim, for what it is. Warts and all.
But I understand that folks from middle-world cultures might find the work irritating or even mildly offensive. I don't believe it is egregiously so. Jeff Grubb and crew did a bang-up job of doing the best with what they had and genuinely trying to make a setting that lovingly and respectfully approached the material. But it was by and for white Americans, so any actual near-east perspective is not really present in the work - and that is one of the things that must be kept in mind when exploring it.
This is the subtle point that people miss out on when they complain about "cancel culture". Nobody is running around screaming "cancel it!" like the right wing media machine wants you to think. Rather, things we took for granted are being examined from new perspectives and sometimes that means something old and beloved has to be re-evaluated if you want to be intellectually honest and socially responsible.
You can still love the shit, so if you feel some sense of outrage welling up just tamp it back down, kiddo. Enjoy your magic carpet ride, just don't forget it's complete fantasy.
But hey, maybe check out this video series that goes into a lot of depth on the topic. They talk about these issues more broadly, from a modern perspective, so don't go into this expecting a short review of Al Qadim. You ain't gonna get that, buster.
EDIT: And I want to say for sure that I 100% accept that this series has serious problems. No defense will come from me on that front. This is probably why, even though I own this and still collect it, I have not ran it. I could have easily ran this setting long ago. Still I don't.
I've been drawing more robots lately and thinking about a robot RPG. One of the thoughts I had is that a percentile system, not unlike Star Frontiers, would suit a robot RPG quite well.
So I started noodling the idea more and I have a draft of My Robot Head in progress. I don't know how far I'll take this. I hope I'll see it through and publish, but this is just a fun thing I'm playing with right now. Stay posted.
As a teaser, the game would probably be set in the future in our solar system. I actually had written a bunch of this last year and I wrote that it takes place in or around 3100. All humans are dead. They left behind a fairly vast empire of cities and colonies on the Moon and Mars and places. But they are all dead because some AI asshole decided to bake a DNA timebomb into them and remove them. Now you are robots in this future where your masters, the humans, are gone. What do you do?
So the game deals with the fun shit like robot combat, exploration, resources, etc. But also angst and ennui. Robots are self aware. They have to decide how to be a people moving forward without destroying themselves through warring factions. My Robot Head as the title refers to the inner struggle of a robot character to understand who they are and where they belong. The dawn of a new civilization with the raw power and mental prowess to very quickly destroy itself.
Percentile system inspired by Star Frontiers, but not a clone. Lots of information carrying over from Cozmic Metal Heads because My Robot Head as a concept came first. I actually stripped MRH down and turned it into a Troika! book, so now I'm circling back and revisiting the original idea.
The other idea is to publish a robot art book. I'll have enough pure robot drawings that I could do a little art book in POD someplace. Sorry folks, I'm just not up for the whole physical printing and shipping one man show at this time. POD is where it's at for me. At least for now or until someone wants to publish my shit in nice, shiny volumes I don't have to physically handle.
Friday, March 5, 2021
The Cimmerian knows.