Zodiac, ‘We explore Dungeons…" etc.

First, nods to Al over at ‘Beyond the Black Gate’ for his brilliant Aulde Schoole Gamer’s Zodiac. I’ve just discovered that I am a displacer beast… which explains a lot.

I’m glad to see that my earlier thread on “We don’t explore characters, we explore dungeons,” struck a chord with some, but, again, I am not the originator of that phrase. Someone who calls himself ‘Evreaux’ (sp?) originally posted that over at Dragonsfoot (and I’m not certain if I got the quote 100% right or the original context right — but that isn’t bothering me since I am interested in the way the conversation has developed regardless of the author’s original intent). If the original author wants to contact me and set me straight on how I mangled or misrepresented his ideas I am ready to apologize and issue a full retraction.

On a related note, recently there was this post on a similar subject over at DF (it’s not a very good one so I wouldn’t bother). But as I have continued to read some other people’s response to Evreaux’s (sp?) neat aphorism, I’ve been thinking more on it. My basic premise is that when a half-a-dozen people sit around a table and pretend to be ‘Grizzo the Fighter’ or ‘Pablum the Elf,’ I’m less interested in seeing them reach inside of some ‘character concept’ in order to figure out what to do in a given situation and instead have the players decide for themselves what they might want to do in that situation. One of the great things about ‘rpgs’ is that they can offer a pretty complete range of choices without consequences. If I and my fellow players decide to save the village (or rob and murder the villagers!), at the end of the day no real harm is done, but we can have fun exploring the actions and just ‘seeing what happens.’ One of the phrases I hate hearing around a game table is, “My character wouldn’t do that.” Instead of hearing my fellow players tell me what their pre-determined character concept would make them do, I’d like to see more emphasis on players deciding what they (the players) want to do.

Finally, if you want to send me hatemail, go ahead. But if you want to make it seem like the hatemail is coming from multiple people (rather than just you), using multiple email accounts is probably not enough. Using the same basic syntax and flawed spelling in messages from “different people” makes you look like a pathetic douche with an axe to grind (hint: “patriot” has only one ‘a’ in it). It is also probably best that you not send it all from the same IP address.


I’m trying to do some kind of drawing every day… even if I don’t feel like it. I won’t post every single one, but I am also trying to keep working, and posting as often as possible is one way to try to stay honest.

This is a warrior and a big stony-guy, like some sort of rock giant I guess, demonstrating that sometimes size does matter.

Gunner versus Flying Worm

I’m still trying different things. The picture at right represents a bit of a departure for me. We see a woman all dressed up for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars pulling out a ray gun to shoot a flying worm with a minimalist landscape.
Its got some possibilities but I need to push it further.

Tears for Hackmaster

I was just packing up a bunch of books that I have sold, including a big pile of Hackmaster 4e books (including all of the Hacklopedias, the crazy DM screen with umpteen-hundred charts, etc.). Getting rid of the Hackmaster 4e books makes me really sad, even though I have never really played Hackmaster (other than sitting in on a couple of games).
Hopefully they are going to a good home.

Piasa (work in progress)

(click image to enlarge)

A few days ago I posted a work in progress shot of a painting of one of the Mississippi’s legendary monsters, The Piasa bird. (Another Saint Louis legend is the persistent tales of a giant monster catfish that can swallow a man whole… then there is the whole “Wild Man of the Ozarks” thing; perhaps I’ll have a series of paintings).

Here is a photo of it a little further along. I may have turned a good corner on this one; it now has a sort of strange “Rousseau” quality to it that I am starting to like.

Sorry about the color tint of the picture; the red and green are much more vivid in the original.

I want to move to France

This morning saw another small and flimsy barricade that was standing in the way of the US becoming an oligarchy fall when Governor Walker’s State Legislators held a ‘flash vote’ to force through the bill to deny organizing rights to the state workers and teachers. They are calling it a ‘flash vote’ because, like a ‘flash mob’ will put on a performance in the middle of a public space before any of the onlookers can realize what is happening, the ‘flash republicans’ got the vote to happen so quickly that the onlookers (i.e.: those opposed who were not told in advance) did not have time to vote before the final bell was rung. Reporters said that many of the Democratic legislators could be seen pushing their vote buttons in an attempt to vote when the vote had already been ended.

The stakes are much greater than the pensions of Wisconsin teachers and snow-plow drivers (although, if you were one of those people teaching or plowing in Wisconsin, those things would be important). I used to comfort myself with thinking that my ideological opponents and I could find common ground and create solutions that, while they might not be ideal, would represent the best for all. I thought that hope was the essence of modern democracy. As that hope fades, I’m forced to wonder if we will no longer be living in a democracy.

I used to be more optimistic about this country and its future. Now I want to move to France. Why France? Because I don’t speak French. If I lived in France, I wouldn’t understand what was going on and I wouldn’t know how badly I was getting fucked by whatever nascent French ultra-rich oligarchy is using the economic ‘crisis’ to enrich and empower themselves at the expense of the public much like is happening here. I’d be blissfully ignorant. Plus they have better healthcare and good food. And it is pretty. And I like wine. And England and Germany and Italy (all places I like) are nearby.

Woolgathering about art direction

Recently, Ckutalik over at the Hill Cantons posted that he was putting together a book and was thinking about art direction. He posted a few very interesting samples of work he liked (Chinese wood cuts of (what I assume are) historical scenes and a lithograph from a Russian book illustrator) along with a request for suggestions.

The post was interesting to me because the art he presented is great looking AND far removed from the usual suspects as far as ‘art for rpg products’ goes. This made me wonder what RPG products might look like if one hired artists who were totally unfamiliar with the genre and its conventions to illustrate an RPG product.

I don’t see a way of putting this plan into effect (other than writing an RPG book, winning the lottery and using the lottery winnings to sucker a bunch of artists who haven’t done RPG art into illustrating it), but it makes for some interesting speculation.

Who else wants to see Henry Darger come back from the grave to illustrate a weird-ass RPG book? Perhaps a campaign guide to “The Realms of the Unreal?”