Sinister Sutures


This one is from Goodman’s “Sinister Sutures of Semptress” by Michael Curtis, out now in time for Halloween!

Recent Work

MCC RPG T Shirt 2 final image traced.tif

I haven’t been able to keep up with updates for the web page — so here is a recently finished t-shirt design for Goodman Games’ “Mutant Crawl Classics” based on a concept from MCC’s creator, Jim Wampler. I think it will be available on a t-shirt come Gen-Con, and it might also be used for a ‘leather edition’ book cover.

DCC RPG 4th Printing out (PDF)

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I just got notice that the new 4th printing of the DCC RPG rule book is out on RPGNOW as an electronic edition – the print version will be out later this year. Lots of new art in the book by me, Doug Kovacs plus work by Peter Mullen, Brad McDevit, Erol Otus, Jim Holloway, Friedrich Haas, Russ Nicholson, William McAusland, etc. I’m honored to have my work in such great company.

The 4th printing is 100% backwards compatible with 3rd printing, etc., and differs only in MORE new artwork, some tables and reference materials at the back, a new adventure by Harley Stroh, etc.

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Wound Man

Anyone who has been following OSR or DCC stuff on the internet has probably seen the medieval ‘wound man’ illustrations that people have been sharing. These are illustrations from old texts that show the many possible ways that people can get skewered, slashed, crushed, slit, etc.  Here is a 16th century ‘wound man’ illustration by Hans Von Gersdorff that I nicked off of wikipedia (click to make bigger):


And here is another one I found somewhere on the net somewhere (I don’t know the artist in this case, click to see bigger):


Lots of folks have suggested that these illustrations would make excellent random charts. Inspired by these fine ancient illustrations as well as some tables that I have been illustrating for one of Harley Stroh’s new adventures for Goodman Games, with a nod to the house rules of Paul Gorman from the Quickly-Quietly-Carefully blog, I drew up my own ‘wound man’ and divided him into regions. One can paste this illustration into the bottom of a shallow box and when horrible damage is scored, toss a d6 into the box… where the dice lands tells you if the injury is suffered to the leg, head, arm, etc., and the number that comes up on the dice tells you how serious the injury is.  I like ‘Quickly-Quietly-Carefully’ Paul’s idea that if the player character is knocked to 0 hit points, you let them roll on the ‘critical wound’ chart to survive death with a single hit point and horrible injury.  I think people call it a “drop dice” table because you drop dice on it to use it.

(click to enlarge)

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I also included a version without text — print it out and add your own tables!

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Expanded Petty Gods, U-Con 2014

I spent most of yesterday at U-Con (in Ypsilanti, Michigan) where I hung out at Roy Snyder’s’ game sales/DCC booth, signed a couple books and made some new friends. I got a chance to see some of Doug Kovac’s art up close (it looks even better in person if you can believe it — the images just GLOW) and played in Adam Muszkiewicz’s DCC game (“Slaves of the Silicon God”), ate too much and then had to come home because a sinus infection has been kicking my ass lately and I knew I had to get up today to clean our gutters before the first snow. “Slaves of the Silicon God” was a real hoot and if you get a chance to play in one of Adam’s con games, do it. My first PC (“Jerkal the Blazing!”) managed to survive a rock thrown to the head and a face plant after a 10 foot fall from a rooftop onto a balcony only to get pecked to pieces by giant evil birds inside a ruined temple — probably not an unexpected result when running around with just 1 hit point. His replacement, a cleric of L. Ron Hubbard, survived the adventure after having incurred great disfavor from his god while blowing spell rolls and heal rolls left and right and will probably spend an eternity stuffed inside a volcano as a result. As a party we managed to more or less accomplish our mission but also probably doomed ourselves and others because of our trusting natures and propensity to fuck around with shit we really probably ought to have left alone.

Today, after gutters were cleaned, I caught up on chores and finished this drawing for the new Expanded Petty Gods book being ushered into existence by Richard LeBlanc / Save vs Dragon. Like I always said, it doesn’t count as full frontal male nudity if you can’t see the tip.

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Gen Con 2014

OK, on Sunday I got back from Gen Con where I was a guest of Goodman Games — I had never been to a Con before (with the exception of walking into U-Con in Ann Arbor, playing one game and then leaving — I also went to another Con years ago and showed by art portfolio to a couple of publishers, but I had forgotten all about that until I sat down to write this). When I walked into GenCon, I was a bit overwhelmed — so much to see, so many people to meet. I’m not going to make a list for fear of leaving some people off of it… but I never imagined that any event could be that big. It was a bit overwhelming but the Goodman crew was a group of the nicest people you will ever meet and they made me feel very welcome. Lots of people came by to shake my hand and ask me to sign their books, which was really quite flattering. And Harley Stroh ran a con event where players ran a series of 0-level player characters through a funnel and the players who survived the greatest number of encounters with a sinle 0 level cheese maker, gong farmer or stable boy (or stable girl, I guess), got a chance to win a trophy. There were 3 trophies (I wish I took a photo — they looked great) with a statue of a “grave digger” in gold, bronze or rusted iron… and 3 players all tied for 1st with an incredible 8 survivals each… so they had a ‘roll off’ to decide who left with which trophy.

I didn’t get to play much of anything — I arrived late Friday because of work and other issues, worked in the booth Saturday, ate dinner and crashed, came back Sunday morning for the award ceremony and then had to roll back to Michigan aroun noon. I’m normally pretty reclusive – I don’t like crowds and didn’t think I would like cons but everyone was so fucking nice I would go back in a heartbeat. I got halfway back to Michigan before I realized that I had never made it down to Doug Kovac’s art exhibit — so I am going to have to go back I guess.

There were a lot of people dressed up as Anime characters that I didn’t know (I would describe most of them as ‘Dragonballz or others’ since Dragonballz is the only Anime name I know) and people dressed up as superheroes and a lot of people walking around with boxes on their heads (it took me a while to figure out these were ‘Minecraft’ people) as well as all kinds of other costumes… a lot of pirates, people who looked like they were going to or coming from a rave, women (and men) in corsets and kilts, people in head-to toe spandex and people wearing just a few thongs, scraps of fur and beads, stormtroopers (the Star Wars kind), robots, cartoon characters and other creatures. I saw (but was too intimidated to talk to) Will Wheaton — he has a really cool tattoo of an octopus on his arm. Mostly it was hard to get around because there were SO MANY PEOPLE there.

More stuff in print

“Colossus Arise,” a DCC Adventure written by Harley Stroh has a drawing in it by me and has just hit the store shelves — this is a full page ‘front piece’ on page one; the black upper half is where the title, author’s name, etc., are superimposed in white text:

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Goodman Art Folio

Shameless self promotion alert: Goodman Games has already published art folios about the work of Peter Mullen and Brad K. McDevitt; up soon will be one all about me — 16 pages of my drawings for DCC and Goodman stuff with commentary on my thoughts, musings and influences. I don’t have an exact release date yet; but this soft cover booklet is perfect for bathroom reading or as a gift for your best friends or dearest enemies – printed in basic black and white – available sometime soon from Goodman Games.

Here is the cover art when it was 1/2 way done… you can see a more complete version on the Goodman site. The text at the top is not a part of the drawing; it was just as an example/place holder.

DCC – Sea Queen Escapes OUT NOW

I just heard that Goodman Games has just published ‘The Sea Queen Escapes’ adventure for the DCC Roleplaying Game.  The adventure was written by the prolific Michael Curtis and this is the cover by Doug Kovacs:

I love the DCC adventure covers by Kovacs — they remind me of those freaky, pscho-delic fantasy book covers from the 1970s that you still sometimes see at flea markets.

I did the title page for the adventure (see below), which came out pretty well. After you open the cover, this is the first thing you see… but in the book it will have the title, credits, etc., in the white space on the top. That is one big-ass turtle… don’t fuck with the sea turtle…

I’ve had the chance to work on a couple of other really fun commissions recently… unfortunately, I don’t like to show things until the publisher gets to announce them first… so I will just have to be patient in my self promotion.

Dungeon Crawl Classics: reflections after 10 sessions

Last Wednesday (10.17.2012), we had out 10th session in my friend Jon C.’s ‘Dungeon Crawl Classics’ campaign*. Although I am not a  rules meister, I really like this game.  We are having fun with it despite players having some different play styles at the table.

The DM, Jon C. is running this as a fairly ‘let us play this straight up to figure out this game‘ type of a campaign. He introduced us to the game using ‘the funnel’ (a word about the funnel in a moment) and, since then, we have been agents of ‘The Adventurer’s Guild.’ Not a lot of time is spent on the how and why of the guild or why we would want to be members — they just organize adventurers and send us out on missions which consist of, “Please go to location X and do this and try not to get killed…” When someone’s character gets killed, the replacement shows up as soon as possible, with a “Hello, I am X and the guild sent me…” Some of the more method-actor roleplaying people might find this unsatisfying — but I like it simply because most of my fellow players have families with young children or jobs which entail all kinds of schedule conflicts… if there was some deeply interwoven plot between all of the characters like an episode of “Dallas,” then having major characters simply be missing one week and back the next would be jarring (plus, and I’m confessing my bias here, I don’t find the ‘what’s my motivation?’ type role playing games enjoyable — no judgement, just not my thing).

We are playing our way through a series of the DCC adventures published by Goodman that are not linked together (at least not as far as I can see — maybe Jon C. has something in mind — again, not a dealbreaker in my opinion).  We started off in a 0 level ‘funnel’ adventure that I don’t remember the name of (I think it’s the one in the back of the DCC book), then went to “Doom of the Savage Kings” (1st level) and now we are playing “Sailors on the Starless Sea.”

I actually like the campaign that is just a series of short term missions rather than proceeding along some massive story arc.  Perhaps because we spend about 1/2 of the time bullshitting, joking around, etc., I think it would be hard to keep up the momentum and enthusiasm for a “long game” story.  We seem to finish the published adventures that Jon C. is running every 3-4 sessions, which is neither too long nor too short. Then Jon just fastforwards through the downtime (“OK, you rest up a couple weeks, then you get a request from the guild to go to X…”) and we launch into the next adventure.

The Funnel: As an option, you can start off the DCC game using 0 level characters and ‘The Funnel.’  When you play ‘The Funnel,’ each player gets 3 or 4 randomly generated ordinary medieval people (blacksmith’s apprentice, grave digger, turnip farmer, etc) armed only with a few randomly determined possessions (pitchfork, hammer, rolling pin, apron, etc). You toss these unfortunates into the meatgrinder of their first adventure and the few who don’t become sausage graduate to 1st level.  Some people apparently find it irritating and stupid; I thought it was a hoot.

Tables: There are lots of random tables in this game.  Every time you cast a spell, you roll on a random table and modify your roll with various things (like you level, your inteligence, etc.).  If you roll badly, the spell might just misfire OR it might cause magical ‘corruption’ (which are usually bad side effects).  If you roll well, the spell might work better than expected. This adds a little bit of time to the game, but spells are less formulaic.  As an example, in the last game both my character and Kevin’s character cast the exact same spell (color spray) with radically different results.  My elf barely got the spell off and the target made his save so it had no effect. Kevin’s wizard rolled really well and his version of color spray blinded, paralyzed and knocked out all of the enemies in it’s path.
There are also tables for combat (fumbles and critical hits). Fumbles mean you can fall down, trip, drop your weapon, etc.  Critical hits mean you can blind, decapitate, knock over, etc., your opponent. Although critical hits and fumbles were never ‘official’ rules in old school D&D (Gygax hated them), I remember that we always used them because it was just cool to sometimes have that low level fighter decapitate an ogre with a single sword stroke. Of course, players were usually less enthusiastic when the ogre scored a critical and pounded their player character into jelly with one stroke, but I’ve always believed that if players get an advantage, monsters and NPCs should be allowed to use that same advantage.

Funny Dice: In addition to the ‘funny dice we already use (d20, d12, d10, d8, d6 and d4, most of which seemed pretty strange when we started playing back in the day), DCC also uses d16, d24, d5, etc. These ‘new dice’ seem to make some gamers on the forums really mad (but what doesn’t make someone on a forum somewhere really mad?). I bought a set of ‘Zocchi’ dice needed for the DCC game through the mail for less than $10.00 including shipping. Unfortunately, the numbers on them are not painted and they are nearly impossible to read in the dim light of my friend’s basement, so I usually just roll other dice and adjust (i.e.: for a d24, I roll a d12 and a d6; if the d6 comes up odd I add 0 to the d12 and if it comes up even I add 12 to the d12 for a range of 1-24).
Sometimes, if you gain an advantage or disadvantage, you can go up or down the dice chain (i.e.: if you normally roll 1d20, under some advantageous circumstances you may roll 1d24). Since the ‘criticals’  occur when you roll maximum on the dice, using a d24 may actually be disadvantageous since rolling a 20 on a d20 is a 1 in 20 chance, whereas rolling a 24 on a d24 is a 1 in 24 chance. The statistician in our group doesn’t like the funky dice; I have to confess that I seem to roll critical hits so rarely, I don’t really care (I have a d20 that seems to usually roll a 4 or less).

Luck: This is one of the parts of the game I don’t find myself that enthusiastic about.  Every character has a ‘luck’ score and a ‘lucky attribute.’ If your luck score is good, you get a bonus to your lucky attribute; if your luck score is bad you take a penalty. You can  ‘burn’ points of luck to affect dice rolls… so if I have a luck of 10 and I rolled a 12 on the dice, I can take 2 points from my luck (reducing it to 8) and add it to my roll for a total of 14. Some characters (like hobbits) can give luck away (so if you needed to roll a certain number to make your save and a friendly halfling is nearby, he can ‘give’ you luck points if the player wants to). Thieves and hobbits regenerate their luck every session; everyone else only gains it very slowly (if at all -I’m not clear on that).
The reason I don’t like luck that much is that it seems simply transactional. You roll a dice, you don’t like the result and then you just say, “Give me 5 points, Mister Hobbit.” Somehow, it feels like cheating to me. Maybe it would be better if the player had to add his luck bonus before he rolled the dice.

Spellburn and Spellduels: Spellcasters can temporarily sacrifice attribute points (like strength or fortitude) to improve their spellcasting rolls.  This can increase the power of your spell when you cast it, but potentially leaves you weaker afterwards.  It’s a nice touch because it allows you to increase the chance of having your opponent harmed by an attack spell but it’s not free — reducing your stamina will make you weaker, for example.
Spellduels haven’t come up much (yet).  When two spellcasters on opposite sides are casting spells, they have the option of entering a spellduel where they seek to overpower the other spellcaster.  We only did it once and I didn’t understand how it worked; if we did it correctly, one of the spellcasters in our party managed to force an enemy spellcaster to use up more magical resources than he wanted to.

*Full disclosure: I have done (and continue to do) artwork for Goodman Games, including the DCC line. I get paid a one time fee for each drawing I produce, so whether Goodman sells 1 or 100,000 of a given publication, I get the same pay, so I am not incentivized by money to see that Goodman sells more product.