Goodman Portfolio

I just got copies of my Goodman Games artist portfolio booklet which is coming out soon – you can get one for free if you pre-order the new DCC Rulebook with Jeff Easley’s art on the cover! It’s pretty cool — I’ve never had anything like this before. It’s 16 pages, quality printed Black & White — mostly drawings with just three pages of my pointless ramblings about my influences and whatnot… so if reading about me going on about my influences sounds painful, realize that there is only 3 pages of it… and even those pages are partially pictures.

I think it’s dropping in June… so save your $$$!

Here is the cover:



Plus inside; read all about me:


And then pages and pages of this stuff:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.


A while back, Grognardia was working on collecting a book of fantasy gods made from descriptions and illustrations contributed by the masses which was to be called ‘Petty Gods’— a tribute to the old “Unknown Gods” published back in the day by Judge’s Guild (I still have my copy of ‘Unknown Gods’ squirreled away). At some point, the project stalled and Grognardia retreated from the public scene. Most people thought it was a shame because the contributor work had all been all or mostly done — someone said it just needed layout and editing and the book was just in limbo (which reminds me — I have several things to finish, but that’s another subject for another post).

Greg “Gorgonmilk” has been working on getting the stalled ‘Petty Gods’ book back up and running. To that end, Greg started trying to get in touch with the original contributers and re-assemble the book (or a close facsimile thereof)… and new suggestions for godlings, godlets and other divine beings began pouring in. Which is great because:
a) The ‘Petty Gods’ book was so far along that letting it stall seems a shame,
b) Rather than just pissing and moaning, Greg grabbed the gorgon by the horns and milked it! He got off his ass and did something… which is something we need more of in this world.

Now it seems that the original manuscript for Petty Gods has been discovered and released via free PDF! Get it from GORGONMILK here! The new contributions will apparently be assembled into another volume! It’s an Easter miracle! Thank the Rabbit God! Praise his chocolate eggs! And thanks to Gorgonmilk for lighting the fire that made it happen.

I didn’t get in on Petty Gods 1, but will contribute to the 2nd one. I have some illustrations of some divine beings based on an Arthur Maachen story (written up by Geoffrey McKinney) that I just finished (they need to be scanned) and am trying to contribute my own Petty God… a (very) minor deity named ‘Pafflum’ from my own Aldeboran campaign.

The above picture is a scene from some play about Mormonism. I think those are the ancient ‘Lamanites.’ Looks like something that would happen on Aldeboran. Although on Aldeboran it would probably involve a lot more stabbing and head chopping.

Previous Work _Tower of Jedophar

It’s been a few years — I don’t remember exactly when ‘Tower of Jhedophar” was published, but it was a joint venture between Necromancer Games and Kenzer & Company. It was written by Casy Christopherson.  I don’t think Necromancer Games’ website is still being updated, but Paizo apparently still sells this adventure. I think it was presented in a d20 and a ‘Hackmaster’ version, but I only got a copy of the d20 version.

My contribution was the black and white illustrations for the interior of the adventure… and I was looking through some old files and found a few that looked pretty good to me, so I thought I’d share. I don’t remember much of the adventure itself — I read parts of it to do the illustrations, but never had the pleasure of playing in it.

I think this is a drawing of “Morgs.” “Mohrgs” are (I think) undead skeletons filled with intestine-like worms. I don’t know what they do to people, but it can’t be good.
Imbo the Dwarf
There was also an NPC named “Imbo” who is seen here admiring his excessively long beard in the nirror.
And there was a dragon — what dungeon is complete without one?
edit: I think I did  these drawings in 2006, which means they were probably first published in 2006 or 2007.


I was going to write a post about the current fascination with Kickstarters but now I start wondering if arguing about Kickstarters is the new, “Can Paladins kill baby kobolds and get away with it?” question… in short, it becomes a question in which a lot of people have strong convictions but I start to doubt whether the question itself (are Kickstarters good/not goof for “the hobby?”) matters.

THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT I APPROVE OF PEOPLE USING A SERVICE LIKE KICKSARTER TO RIP OTHER PEOPLE OFF ANY MORE THAN I APPROVE OF ANY OTHER CON.  But a con perpetrated through the mail does not mean that ‘the post office is evil;’ similarly, the fact that Kickstarter could be used to bilk people doesn’t mean that we should automatically be afraid of it. 

I don’t know if Kickstarters and similar ‘crowd funding’ strategies are here to stay or not. I’ve kicked in at pretty low levels on a couple of them, mostly because I liked the ideas and thought the people proposing these projects could pull them off. If I don’t get what I was promised (or I get much less than I was promised), I guess I’ll feel disappointed… but I remember feeling pretty disappointed back in the day when I waited and waited and waited for TSR to publish ‘Temple of Elemental Evil’ and they just didn’t but somehow managed to find the time to grind out woodburning sets, trapper-keepers, Saturday Morning cartoons and needlepoint kits.  I didn’t have to wait for the internet to be invented to feel disappointed by the way in which I fit into (or failed to fit into) a game company’s market strategy. I find myself thinking that amateurs with Kickstarter backers are going to have to try pretty hard to do worse.

The complaint that I hear echoing around the blogosphere, however, is that these ‘kickstarters’ are going to be ‘bad’ for gaming.  I just don’t buy it.  First of all, I don’t know what ‘gaming’ is since it seems to cover everything from Magic the Gathering to Napoleonics. Somewhere in that broad spectrum are people like me who like playing older versions of D&D — and I don’t feel much in common with the card games people or the Princess Leia in a metal bikini impersonators. I’m not against them; I’m just not a part of them. So, if your basic proposition is that “kickstarters are going to disappoint people and drive them from the hobby,” first you are going to have prove that people will leave the hobby. I don’t think that will happen because:

a) I don’t think Kickstarters will disappoint enough people to form some sort of ‘critical mass’ of disappointment that will make people leave “the hobby” (whatever the hobby is).

b) I don’t believe that all of the people who are involved in this hobby in all these different ways have such a shallow level of personal investment that not getting value for the $25.00 or $1,000.00 or whatever is going to drive them from the hobby.  There are people out there who name their kids “Han” and “Leia,” do you think getting rooked by a Kickstarter is going to make them say, “Fuck it” and go scrape all the Trekkie and Doctor Who stickers off their Subaru and never go to GenCon again?

c) Who has been robbed via kickstarter? I know some projects are late and some kickstarters are not communicating with their backers as much as a very vocal group would like, but the level of noise from some people makes me feel like this is something on the scale of a Bernie Madoff con.  Dear internet: late does not equal fraud. KIckstarter is not a “pre-order.” If you have actually been robbed via kickstarter (i.e.: you know that you will never get what you were promised), please post below… share details.  I wanna know about it.

Some kickstarters will be in trouble because the people running them are incompetent, some will fail for lack of effort or because of dishonesty… and some will be everything that the originator promised but the backers will still be dissapointed because the backers didn’t bother to read what they were agreeing to before slapping their money down.

One suspicion I have is that the signal to noise ration has spiked because the obsessive compulsives who simply must have one of everything D&D in shrink wrap in their closet are suddenly overwhelmed by the sheer number of things coming out via Kickstarter and feel like if they don’t kick in on every project, they risk having a collection that is incomplete… yet if they do kick in on every single project, the ‘completeness’ of their collection is reliant on the good will and work ethic of strangers. Because the O.C. Collector can’t risk an incomplete collection, he has to gamble on the honesty/work ethic of strangers — no fair! Collecting is all about control and this makes me feel out of control!  It’s like the wailing and gnashing of teeth we heard when Goodman printed up only 300 of some ‘special edition’ adventure for sale at one convention, sold first come first served, and, to add insult to injury, he didn’t limit “one to a customer” so people who came by later in the day were S.O.L.. For months after that event, some of these obsessive types were cursing Goodman like he had killed their dog simply because he published something and they didn’t get a copy.

Wes Crum

If you are a fan of the old Judge’s Guild products like I am, you may have noticed that some of the art on those early products was by Wes Crum.  Crum was my favorite artist of the Judge’s Guild newsprint era, and, I think, probably the most talented of the people to illustrate for Judge’s Guild.  His pictureas have a real ‘pulp-horror-comics’ flair that I like (and that I think Sembieda, who also worked for JG at this time, lacks).  Take a look at this typical Crum cover:

That art just looks straight out of the pre-code days of comics. Crude, and Wes was capable of better work, but I love it).
Crum went on to do some pornographic comics (which I won’t link here because I am not on my own computer — search “B.J. Betty” and “Anal Intruders from Uranus” published by, I think, Last Gasp Comix if you are interested).  He was/is also involved in some conspiracy/UFO stuff (you can try to buy his art here if interested; I’m not sure how old that page is). I’m interested in the UFO/Conspiracy theory stuff, but strictly as a tourist — I am not a believer but don’t want to wind up or bullshit people who are serious about it in order to gain their confidence simply because I think that’s a douchebag thing to do.  For the same reason, I’m curious about what goes on inside a Mormon church, but I’m not going to lie to them to get in there.
I don’t know what the extent of his (Crum’s) work with RPG or Fantasy stuff was or if he worked for any of the old D&D/RPG publishers other than Judge’s Guild.  I used to trade emails with Bob Bledsaw years ago (a really nice guy, but an erratic correspondent; I think his health was failing at the time — he stopped responding and later I heard he had died).  When we were corresponding, I asked him about Crum but never got an answer. I also, stupidly, asked him about Sembieda, not realizing, at the time, that there might have been some bad blood between Bledsaw and Sembieda.  Unfortunately, I had no idea that Sembieda had gone on to form his own game company and apparently made a lot of enemies in the process.  So, Bob, if you are reading this from wherever you are, I was just being clueless; I wasn’t trying to get you to dish on things you didn’t want to talk about.

What is ‘good RPG writing’?

As a part of my day job, I have been doing some very tedious but necessary technical writing.  Basically, I’m writing manuals with step by step instructions on such fascinating things as to how to fill out a purchase requisition based on a vendor quote.  In order to be useful, the ‘process documents’ I am writing need to be correct in the details and their order, clear and not subject to multiple interpretations, and as short as possible since the longer the boring document or memo, the less likely it will be read. The document that results could most kindly be described as ‘utilitarian.’

At the same time, I enjoy reading fiction that is filled with possible multiple interpretations and ambiguity (current favorite: Thomas Ligotti; my all-time favorite book is hard to choose, but might be either “Heart of Darkness” by Conrad or “The Crying of Lot 49” by Pynchon), which seems funny since I have to write stuff that (hopefully) can be understood only one way by the reader for my day job yet my favorite books are ones that seem to delight in leaving the reader more confused than when they started.  Providence is always giving us the finger — the guy who likes ambiguity and multiple meanings in writing has to write as precisely as he can to earn a buck.*

All of this is a long winded introduction to me wanting to think about ‘what makes good writing for an RPG product?’ And I am interested in how my opinion of ‘good’ will differ from the opinions of others. Here are a few things I like to see in an RPG adventure:

·         I prefer the author keep plot, motivation, etc., to a minimum. I’d rather have a location with some maps, encounters and a few ‘possibilities’ described rather than a clusterfuck of quests and subquests and whatnot.  I’d consider it perfectly acceptable to develop a great deal of this ‘plot’ stuff on the fly… i.e.: if random encounters in the wilderness keep giving you orcs, why not cook up an orc invasion?

·         Adventures that concentrate on being locations rather than ‘story driven series of encounters.’  To give concrete examples, I have much fonder memories of playing adventures like “Against the Giants” than “Egg of the Phoenix.”  In “Against the Giants,” I felt the players set their own agenda after being initially hamfisted into an adventure (“Find out who is sending the giants against us or else!”) versus the more story-based “Start at point A, get told to go to point B, etc.”  The “Egg of the Phoenix” is probably more involved, detailed and impressive, but there is less player agency in getting from point A to point B.

·         Simple, short encounter descriptions and not too much flowery language with everything you need in one place.  If I were to run a published adventure, I’d want to review it before play started, then be able to get ‘up to speed’ on what is going on in one location or another by glancing at the text during play.  I wouldn’t want to say, “Hold on!” to the players while I search the paragraphs of verbiage for the one bit of info I need (I’m looking at you, “Temple of Excessive Description,” er, I mean, “Elemental Evil.”).

·         I don’t know of any published adventure that offers this, but how about a small bit of whitespace after every entry where the DM can make notes?  I know a lot of people resent white space in a product they paid for (equating quantity of ink on the page with ‘quality’), but I’ve taken to seeing published adventures  as more utilitarian documents than literature… that is to say, they are there to be used to speed and enable play, not amuse the reader like a novel.

·         Interesting, quirky, suggestive stuff that the DM can use to run off on his own tangents or red herrings that can be expanded upon if the DM wishes or the players choose to pursue them.  Adventures like ‘Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor’ or ‘Rappan Athuk’ are great for this kind of stuff.
I hesitate to say that these things define ‘good,’ I’m just saying that they are what I like to see. Since, when I DM, I’ve decided like to create my own adventures anyway, I’m hoping
* I don’t consider myself a writer of talent.  I like to write things (like this blog) but don’t think my writing has any significance other than some possibly therapeutic value for me. It’s just a fun way for me to explore topics I am thinking about.

Indie-a-go-go for LOTFP and Barrowmaze 2!

Crossposted from my wordpress blog…I’m still catching up with all sorts of stuff, so pardon me is you have heard this already: Barrowmaze 2 is availible for crowdsource funding via Indie-a-go-go (click here for more info). Since I’m doing some of the artworks for it, you know it will be smashing! Contribute and maybe I or another artist will illustrate a monster YOU design for the Barrowmaze 2!
Here is one of the images I did for Barrowmaze 2:

Better roll up another cleric!

Also, Jim Raggi IV, metalman of Finland, is also doing an indie-a-go-go for a new hard cover edition of LOTFP the Role Playing Game… and, if enough money flows it way into his coffers, different artists and writers will write custom adventures for YOU… and I’m on that list so send in your cash and see what I kick out! This fantastic art (not by me, obviously, but by Jason Rainville) shows what happens in LOTFP-land when Miss d’Artagnan gets all “Apocalypse Now.”

“The horror… the horror…”

Barrowmaze 2 AND LOTFP now on Indie-a-go-go

I’m still catching up with all sorts of stuff, so pardon me is you have heard this already: Barrowmaze 2 is availible for crowdsource funding via Indie-a-go-go (click here for more info). Since I’m doing some of the artworks for it, you know it will be smashing! Contribute and maybe I or another artist will illustrate a monster YOU design for the Barrowmaze 2!

Better roll up another cleric.

Also, Jim Raggi IV, metalman of Finland, is also doing an indie-a-go-go for a new hard cover edition of LOTFP the Role Playing Game… and, if enough money flows it way into his coffers, different artists and writers will write custom adventures for YOU… and I’m on that list so send in your cash and see what I kick out!

DCC Update (spoilers for DCC 66.5!)

According to Goodman Games, the DCC is at the printer right now… and I guess pre-orderers have gotten the full game pdf?  At right is a picture of some proofs on his desk that Goodman posted on his forums.  Let me draw your attention to the picture in B&W in the lower left hand corner, a pic by me from the frontispiece of “The Doom of Savage Kings” DCC 66.5!  I think adventure 66.5 is a special for pre-ordering customers.  Spoiler alert: It shows that one of the ‘mundane’ monsters that players might or might not encounter in the adventure ain’t so mundane after all.  Don’t click to enlarge if you don’t want to know more.

Next to it is the DCC RPG front page by Mullen that is so cool; above it are proofs of the color covers.

Lots of DCC art will drop into my etsy store when this thing hits the store shelves; interested collectors should stay tuned!