More shameless self promotion

Jason, at The Drunk Umber Hulk blog, just did an email interview with me and published the results.  Have a look, because I am certain the answers I provided will be fascinating.

Interview at The Drunk Umber Hulk

I get drunk with an Umber Hulk

Jason, at The Drunk Umber Hulk blog, just did an email interview with me and published the results. Have a look, because I am certain the answers I provided will be fascinating. Secrets are revealed! Don’t miss it.

Interview at The Drunk Umber Hulk

Ouch + Goodman Games DCC RPG News

I was reading this short article about  medieval monks putting weird and funny stuff in the margins of the works they were copying and came across this picture of a blemmye shooting a skiapod right in the pooter:

Good stuff, but I feel bad for the skiapod — that has got to hurt.  I’m also interested in his foot; it looks more like a fish flipper than a human foot.  In my own drawings on the skiapod, after experimentation, I decided the big toe belonged in the middle of the foot with two smaller toe on either side of it.  Of course, I might go back to the old ‘right foot’ version, with a minority of skiapods being ‘left-footed’ just like a minority of humans are southpaws.

DCC RPG NEWS:  Also, as a contributor I got a sneak peek at the final (or near final) version of the DCC RPG layout from Goodman Games.  I know that since I am involved as an artist, saying that it ‘looks great’ seems pretty self serving, but it does look great — with some of Jim Roslof’s last drawings in there, some Erol Otus, Easley, Edwards, McAusland, Kovacs, Mullens and others and me all contributing.  There is a lot of art in there, much of it running up and down the margins and fitting around the charts or having information for the game in the drawing itself.  I don’t want to show anything that hasn’t already been revealed out of respect for Goodman, so here is one of the pics you may have seen before that I did.  It’s of some kind of magic spell that turns a sling stone into a spider.  I was thinking about the Illustrated Bible I had as a kid when I drew it, so it has sort of a King Tut/David & Goliath vibe to it:

Aldeboran Houserules

Every once in a while I collect together some of my ‘house rules’ for Aldeboran and toss them into a word document. Some of them are tested; many of them are only semi-tested but they are all 100% good ideas that will improve your life immeasurably — for example, the perks and flaws table and the ‘Random Possessions of Small Worth” tables that were once published in either Fight On! or Knockspell (I can’t remember but I think it was Fight On!)… or my as of yet unpublished (and probably unpublishable) Zodiac rules… (still a work in progress) and custom monsters and all sorts of other shit.
When the document is ‘big’ enough, I’ll release it to the public and make a bajillion dollars so I can move to my farm out in the middle of nowhere and stock up on bullets, barbed wire, blackmarket claymore mines and canned goods.

Here are some examples:

Initiative (standard rules): At the start of each round, one dice is rolled for the players and one dice is rolled for the referee’s creatures. Ties are re-rolled. Whichever side gets the higher score goes first. The players can resolve their actions in whatever order seems appropriate (perhaps starting with the character who has the highest dexterity, then the second highest, etc.). The referee resolves the monster attacks in whatever order seems appropriate. After everyone has had a chance to perform an action, the round ends and a new round is begun.

Initiative (variant rules):At the start of each round, every player rolls a dice and the DM rolls a dice for the monsters (or rolls 1 dice for each group of monsters).Actions are resolved in order, starting with those who got 1 going first, then those who rolled 2, 3, 4, etc.
Actions are assumed to resolve themselves more-or-less simultaneously on the roll of a tie, thus if both Bruno the Fighter and a goblin roll the same on initiative, it is possible for them to stab each other to death in the same round! WHICH dice is used depends upon the relative dexterity/speed of the creature.Player characters of average dexterity (between 15 and 6) or monsters with a movement rate of 9” or 12” use a d6.Player characters with above average dexterity (15+) and monsters with higher movement rates use a d4.Player characters with lower dexterity (6 or lower) and slower monsters use a d10.

Alignments consist of only good, evil or neutral. “Good” and “Evil” are diametrically opposed. Neutral characters (aka “selfish”) seek simply to survive and prosper on their own. Alignment is fluid. You can change alignments in the course of the game due to your actions.

Each new player character gets a score ranging from -5 to +5. Evil characters start at -5, good characters start at +5 and neutrals start at 0. The DM keeps track of this and only informs the players of in game effects (i.e.: for the cleric, maybe the DM will give a 10% chance of failure when spells are cast or undead are turned for every point that a character deviates from his alignment — thus the cleric of a good god who has slid to ‘neutral’ on the scale would have a 50% chance of failure when trying to cast a spell). At the end of each game session, the DM can make an alignment judgment and adjust the score accordingly. If a character does bad things, subtract 1 or 2 or 3 (never going past -5). If a character does good things, add 1 or 2 or 3 depending on the severity/intensity of the crime/good deed. If they more or less maintained status quo, do not adjust. If the score switches from -5 or +5 to 0, they have become neutral, if it goes from 0 to -5 or +5, they have gone from neutral to evil or good, etc.

Check this shit out…

Annie sent me this link:

(edit: on the original page, the picture is animated so that it appears to move, but is only works sometimes here on wordpress, goddamn it, so you will have to click on the link to get the full effect.  There are a lot of them and and explanation as to how they were animated from static pics so take a look).

Good things are just around the corner

I’ve been pretty busy with the day job, catching up on stuff in the studio and what-not; I’m working on some pictures which ought to be coming soon to a publication near you (I will let the publishers announce first). The ‘drawing a day’ goes up-and-down; some days are better than others.

Happy Saint Pat’s day!

Another thing I really hate about Windows…

When I am using shitty, shitty windows 7 (which is still much better than shitty shitty shitty shitty fucking shitty windows Vista), sometimes a window will pop up telling me that the program I am using has stopped working. This window gives me the choice of either a) checking for a solution to the problem or b) closing the program. From past experience, a) never works so I always want to click b). When I click b), another window pops up telling me that Microsoft is now searching for a solution to the problem.

If I wanted Microsoft to search for a solution, wouldn’t I have clicked option a)?

As a former Mac user, one of the things I found irritating about the Mac OS is that the designers seemed very fond of dialog boxes that popped up asking me if I was sure if I wanted the computer to do what I had just asked it to do. At times it made me quite snappish. “Yes; I WANT to delete that now go and fucking delete it you smug, condescending, overpriced typewriter!” These days, I’d trade it all in a heartbeat if I never had to touch a Windows machine again. Urrg.

I went to Greyhawk Ruins and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt!

I’m just riding on Grognerdia’s coat-tails here, but I’ve always liked “Greyhawk Ruins” even though the Greyhawkites probably mostly hate it… and the fact that I like it is probably an indictment of my low standards and questionable taste. I don’t really want an ‘official’ Castle Greyhawk but understand that many do. ‘Greyhawk Ruins’ probably disappoints the serious Gygax fan, but, since I don’t have a horse in that particular race, this represents no skin off of my nose. In my own case, if I were to use it (unlikely), I wouldn’t insist that players accept it as “the real deal.” Then again, I don’t want anything ‘canon’ or official anyway. I’d probably rename it something silly and derivative like ‘Blackhawk Castle’ or ‘Greymoor Castle’ and plop it right between ‘Verbosh’ and ‘Valley of the Umpa-Lumpas’ on my map.


Likes for me include that it is pretty damn big and probably qualifies as a ‘megadungeon’ with factions and little stories going on, NPCs for the players to interact with and some interesting challenges that include lots of traps, rooms where players may have to fight their way across boiling tar pits, volcanoes, flooded areas, etc. Dislikes include that some of it (well, quite a bit of it) seems more than a little monotonous (room after room filled with 10 ogres, 20 troglodytes, etc., just sitting around waiting for adventurers to show up).

The maps are pretty weird (no grid and a color coding system that is never really adequately explained — my assumption is that the different colors are in the order of the spectrum (Roy G. Biv) with ‘red’ areas above orange, orange above yellow, yellow above green, etc.)… but, for me, the shitty maps are not a deal breaker and I can live with them. The maps are also all rendered without a scale and at an angle so the top of the page is ‘northeast’ rather than dead north, as in most other TSR D&D dungeon maps. I cropped a random section of one of the maps at right to show you what I mean.

Information is some parts is a little sketchy, but I actually prefer too little info rather than too much simply because I don’t want to read long winded essays on the history of every stick of furniture nor do I need exact counts of how many dirty socks are in the footlocker of the bedroom of the bugbear chief on the 3rd level. Just give me the bare bones and I can flesh out the details if need be. If I were ever to use this thing at the table, I would like the shorter entries since I can scan them right there at the table and, in a moment, know what the players are up against without having to stop the game so I can review several paragraphs of dense text.

It was written for D&D 2nd edition. This makes some people unhappy but I don’t see that there is much about it that I couldn’t convert to another pre-3e form of D&D or other retroclone on the fly.

Interior art is from Thomas Baxa, Mark Nelson and Dave Simons; three artists I don’t know much about other than that they did a bit of work for TSR back in the 2e days. Most of the art looks like the art from the comic books I remember seeing as a kid from the late 1970s — sort of generic and wholesome-looking, which is a plus for me. The style of art makes me think that having Batman or Wonderwoman appear in the picture would not seem too out of place.

There is no ‘overriding’ story to the dungeon other than this: Long ago, Zagig the Wizard built a castle made of three towers where he collected his trophies, housed his guards and performed his experiments. Then he vanished and the castle began to fall apart. The dungeons beneath it are intact, however, and lots of adventurers go there. Some return with treasure; some never return at all. Of the castles/towers, little remains other than the ground floors.

The castle itself consists of three towers on mesa-like formations connected by bridges. Each ruined tower has it’s own basement, so technically I guess there are three ‘dungeons’ but they have a few inter-connections between them. The main tower is ‘Tower Zagig’ which is supposed to be the most dangerous. The left tower is ‘The Power Tower’ in which Zagig performed his many experiments. It’s front door is guarded by a group of elves. The right tower is ‘The Tower of War’ which is guarded by dwarves. If I remember correctly, the dwarves and elves demand visitors pay them a tribute for the privilege of using the doors to their respective towers.

Potentially, players can just go to the Ruins to bag XP and gold. There are also several factions (groups competing to control the dungeons, escaped slaves, a cabal of magic users who use a section of the dungeons for their experiments) that could be interacted with and the imaginative DM could figure out other quests and conflicts.

Sadly, I doubt I’ll ever get the chance to use ‘Ruins of Greyhawk.’ My days of running players through dungeoncrawls are probably long behind me; I don’t like playing online and players in my area seem to prefer a different style of game. Lack of interest from the local pool of players is probably also keeping my own Megadungeon, Mines of Khunmar, as something I will get to finishing “someday.”* And, really, who cares? What is in ‘Mines of Khunmar’ that is any better than anything else a halfway creative person with a lot of time of their hands can make?

* “someday,” with each passing real day, becomes more and more like “never.”


Crowdsourcing my gadget decision-making

For my birthday this year, Annie (my S.O.) has suggested I upgrade my technology and I’m waffling between three choices — if you have any suggestions or observations, add them:

a) iPad: So many people have ’em and they really make my palms itch with desire. Will use for browsing web, reading, goofing off, etc. Good thing: Currently use an old, shitty and beat up HP laptop and/or desktop for this and replacing the laptop makes me happy. Bad thing: I don’t need more reasons to goof off.

b) smartphone: My current phone is just a phone (it might also have a clock and tip-calculator in there). It doesn’t even get texts. Since so many of my pals use texts, I feel left out. Plus the navigation options are pretty sweet and useful. I don’t know exactly what phones are available from my cell provider, so I haven’t picked a specific phone yet. Bad thing: The phone is the cheapest choice in terms of up-front cost, but the long term cost of the increase in mobile charges probably make it probably the most expensive. Good things: Navigation, music in my pocket and keeping in touch.

c) Mac Mini: The Mini costs around the same as the iPad… and I can chain it with my current PC desktop to share monitor, keyboard, etc. Will use for scanning, archiving, publishing projects, etc. Good thing: Probably most useful and shit I miss the Mac system after having used Windows for a few years. Bad thing: Will have to add adobe suite (driving cost up).

Any opinions/options/ideas I ought to consider? Thank you, internet.


While looking for something else on the information superhighway, I found this AWESOME picture:

Who would not want to hang with such an awesome Satan dude?  Anyone out there know who the artist is?  I want to see more!