Sky of Crimson Flame

I posted a work in progress photo of this painting the other week. Here is the completed painting. This is for a book jacket for Owlknight publishing, an adventure called ‘Sky of Crimson Flame’ for DCC RPG. Read all about it on Thorin Thompson’s blog.

burning sky 12 30 15 72dpi


Spelunker

dungeoneer 72dpi

What is in the pit?


City Life

p44 72 dpi 998 conclave


Utzum The Mad vs. Our Heroes

catacomb cover v1 72dpi

Here is a color image for Adventuras en la Marca Del Este. It shows the heroes featured in the B&W work (a dwarf, female cleric, human fighter and wizard) confronting the villain, Utzum the Mad, his two mushroom men allies and a golem. The golem is supposed to be a ‘wax golem’ but it gives me a chuckle to think of it as a ‘butter golem’ since it is yellow. Perhaps Utzum is a foodie wizard who will sautee those mushroom men in melted butter golem.

Pedro Gil tells me that these new adventures will be eventually also released in the US.  Aventuras en la Marca del Este (www.lamarcadeleste.com ) is a Spanish retro-clone RPG (also published in Italy and USA, http://xdpublishing.com/). They also work on Walküre (www.walkure.es , http://www.verkami.com/projects/7119-walkure-el-juego-de-rol) and other projects.


“Into the Demon Idol”

Jobe Bittman (also see Spellburn) was part of a one page dungeon contest a while back (see his really great map here — I love love love 3d cut-away illustrations)… and he turned that 1 page into a little book which apparently you can buy soon (I don’t have that info yet; will update when I do).

He asked me to do the cover/1st page illustration, which is pretty cool — see somebody’s autographed copy below. I’ve seen the front cover in a PDF version (I don’t have the real thing yet) and it is HELIOTROPE done up in the old circa 1978 TSR 2 color printing style — looks really cool.

photo (26)

Will add more details when I get them!

This photo is from Rick Hull, someone on Google+ who owns this copy and was showing it off on google+.

UPDATE: Here is the cover in color. The lizard dude who is getting squished in the demon idol’s hands and has his eyeballs popping out cracks me up:

into the demon idol


Wizards does maps right!

My friend Jon C. just sent me links to these utterly fantastic narrative maps of Tomb of Horrors and White Plume Mountain made by an artist working for Wizards of the Coast. Its been decades since I adventured within these classics, but I was surprised at how much I remembered — White Plume Mountain, in particular, made a big impression… especially that room with the swinging chain platforms over the pit of boiling mud.

I don’t know if this sort of map would be practical for every purpose, but I love the 3d representation and the way you instantly understand the relationship between the different heights/depths on this kind of cut-away map. But I’ve always loved cut-away views of buildings, ships, etc. Witness my maps from Aldeboran that I posted in 2011. Not pretty or precise, but you get a sense of how the levels fit together (edit: I intended to say my maps from Tana Tak were not pretty — I think the Wizards maps below are plenty pretty).

Click images to see bigger:

Links:
http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/map_wpmountain.jpg

http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/map_tombofhorrors.jpg


Horror on the Hill!

Look: It’s in Japanese!

Avast! Spoilers for “Horror on the Hill” lurk below!

I saw that Grognardia wrote about ‘Horror on the Hill’ theother day. I tried to comment there, but he uses some kind of funky comment thing called ‘Disqus’ that won’t let me comment unless I update my browser or something — I don’t know, I haven’t figured it out (“Disqus?” I think that’s what it is — it is supposed to look/sound like ‘discuss’ but it makes me thing of ‘disgust’). But I LIKE “Horror on the Hill” and wanted to say so, so I figured I would make my own comments on my own blog.

I didn’t own a copy of this back in the day. I don’t know when ‘Horror on the Hill’ was published, but I think by the time it came out I had probably thought of myself as having moved ‘beyond’ the basic set… or maybe I had stopped playing D&D altogether (as I did for a long while). I think I finally got a copy years later; the first and only time I ran it was in 2003.

You’ve probably already read James’ description, but, to re-iterate, Horror on the Hill is a low level ‘introductory’ adventure. James compares it to “Keep on the Borderlands.” I think it’s probably better than Gygax’s “Keep on the Borderlands” because it doesn’t feel so thrown together. The adventure starts with players arriving at a small town called “Guido’s Fort.” Here, the players hear rumors of an ancient, ruined monastery across the river at the top of a hill. If the players cross the river and climb the hill (possibly encountering Neanderthals, a hut with witches, etc., on the way), they can explore the monastery (which, as I recall, had some zombies, spiders, etc.). Underneath the monastery are tunnels with goblins and hobgoblins. Underneath THAT is a maze that the players can get trapped in before finally finding another exit( assuming they survive). As written, it is silly-difficult. There are loads of hobgoblins in the upper levels that will likely overwhelm the low level player characters it is intended for, especially if the goblins use any tactics like ambushing or encircling the characters… if they defeat the hobgoblins, they will probably then fall down a one-way pit trap into a maze of tunnels where they are likely to have their numbers further reduced by savage humans and other wandering monsters.  The players can’t go back up the way they fell in, so they need to find the other way out.  This includes navigating the maze and then fighting their way past a tribe of troglodytes  (or are they lizard men?  I don’t remember), and, if they survive THAT, then they need to fight their way past a red dragon to get to the exit. If fighting a red dragon were not hard enough when supplies (and probably hit points) are depleted, in order to get to the dragon they need to work their way down a narrow tunnel, single file, that is likely to become a player character incinerator if the dragon is alert and breathes fire at the right moment.

One of the things that is, in my opinion, ‘nice’ about this adventure is that once the players are in the tunnels below the hobgoblin hideout, they can’t leave back the way they came and they need to forge ahead to survive. A somewhat frustrating aspect of low level play in D&D is that it can, at times, take on a surreally slow pace of exploration where players are constantly running back to ‘civilization’ to rest, heal and regain spells every time they get scratched by a kobold’s spear or nipped by a giant rat.  So players will enter room 1 of the dungeon, defeat the monster, then run back to town to rest and heal for a week, return, and, assuming some new monster hasn’t occupied room 1, enter room 2, defeat the monster, run back to town to rest, etc., rinse and repeat.  At early levels, before access to healing spells, most adventuring parties rarely put in an 8 hour day’s worth of exploring since they are constantly dashing back to town to heal and buy more lamp oil. “Horror on the Hill” short circuits that process by dropping the players down into the maze so they can’t go back the way they got in and need to explore the rest of the place to get out. Although the trap that lands the players in hot water doesn’t make much logical sense (why would the ruler of the goblins want to drop players down into a pit AFTER they have killed him and left his throne room? Wouldn’t even the stupidest goblin king want to drop the players down the pit BEFORE they reach his throne room and slit his throat?), I think the overall effect (it forces the players to go forward) is worth it. The pit-trap makes the adventure into a “railroad” that forces the player characters along a single path with a series of obstacles to overcome, but there is enough logic to it, as well as a series of ‘mini-dungeons’ (the monastery ruins, the goblin caves, the maze, the troglodyte warrens, etc.), that seem to be incidentally hooked together to create a larger dungeon… so even though it IS a railroad, at least it doesn’t feel like one while you are in it (although the forced encounter with the dragon at the end is probably a bit much).

If I recall correctly, I made a few modifications before I ran this adventure.  I didn’t use ‘Guido’s Fort,’ but instead put the ruined monastery a few miles from a village in my campaign world.  This village was under increasing attacks by goblins (the rationale was that the monastery was a rest/resupply center for the goblins). I made the monastery into a ruined temple/monastery for an evil god and the goblins had some NPC cultists for allies. I replaced all of the hobgoblins with regular goblins. I added several NPCs as prisoners that could join as helpers/replacement characters (these were player characters that had previously been captured by the forces of evil). I got rid of the dragon. According to my notes, I ran this adventure about 9 (!) years ago, but from what I remember, we had a lot of fun… although some of my players tired of the ‘dungeon bashing’ aspect by the end.

PS: Shout out to Kevin S. who based a whole campaign on “Horror on the Hill,” with toilets!