As always, my existing stock art can be got cheaply on Drivethrurpg
And more is available for my patrons
Gabor Lux has just released his hardcover megadungeon Castle Xyntillan
He talks about it here
It features art by Peter Mullen, Stefan Poag, and fourteen pieces by me!
I spent the last few months working on these commissions, although a few of the pieces are from my stock art bundles.
The castle itself is a haunted mansion that blends Tegel Manor with the weirdness and doomed romanticism of Edgar Allen Poe, and the films of Jean Cocteau.
Also released at this time (in Hungarian, the English language version is yet to be released) is Shadow of the city God, for which I drew the cover and another illustration. More work by Stefan Poag is in this as well.
I had some fun with the second scene, where some adventurers stumble upon a political cult led by a con artist. Greta is not amused.
As always, if you like my work. Become a patron!
Following a Black Friday sale of 80% of all of my gear on Drivethru that netted me my largest payday from OBS (just imagine if that stuff was full price!) I released a bundle of small filler art. I enjoyed the process so much, I may do more of these.
The inspiration comes from a couple of places; Sergio Argonne’s border cartoons in Mad Magazine, medieval manuscript illuminated filler, and these panels of adventurers by David C. Sutherland III from the DMG
To that end, I have included some of my staple characters, the thief from my first Character stock art is here climbing a rope, and the elf and knight stumbling upon the secret door in Dungeon Scenes 1 are now climbing a mountain. I will definitely be building more of these scenes.
A friend of mine released a water based setting for 5e on DM’s Guild called Fathoms Below that I thought was pretty good. It has a nice backstory (Tritons took over a Sahugin fort, and built it into a starfish shaped major trading city, full of intrigue, with an anchored flotilla of rafts directly above, where your air breathers can live, if they are not in some of the domes below. There are some tongue in cheek character backgrounds that pay homage to the Little Mermaid without getting too campy. All too often water based adventures are shunted into auxiliary rules dependent on magic items, and in this case, while there are limits on what surface characters can do, there are a plethora of underwater races (the ones that aren’t new have to be found in other rulebooks, WoTC doesn’t let you quote whole slabs of character abilities), including the usual suspects like sea elves and mermen, along with jellyfish and octopus folk. The variety was surprising, and I recomend the book, along with its supplement .
As usual, when contemplating GURPSifying races from other games, the huge cost of things like Amphibious, Extra Limbs and Flexible make things like half octopus characters dreadfully expensive, but that is one of the things I like about point buy systems; it costs more to be exotic and powerful up front, rather than using level limits or added XP cost – neither of those methods address starting level character balance, and adding a racial template of assorted boni to a fully fleshed out class template results in a more costly one; building the racial template into the class template (by 86ing other advantage options) results in a character who might be less than starting equivalent for others of their template -DF’s 250 point base builds characters with a rough equivalence to 5th-8th level AD&D characters, and dropping in a 25 point racial template makes you almost a level lower. Most of the PC races are in the 20 point range, but some (mostly those infused with the supernatural) cost 75 points, making them relatively weaker when compared to characters built as human.
Become a patron!
No bad/wrong fun. You play the games you like, the way you most enjoy. I happen to enjoy a certain style of play, and am particularly enamored with a particular system that I have played with for some years.
I started gaming in 1981, and have played with a variety of systems. The ones I remember were Basic D&D, along with 1e and 2e, Star Frontiers, Top Secret, Gatecrasher, Paranoia, Toon, Palladium Fantasy and Rifts, CoC, Twilight 2000, Both MSH and DC Heroes, V&V, Cyberpunk 2020, Fasa Star Wars, and early WoD, in its original form, LARP, and ported to GURPS.
I have played GURPS since 1989, and enjoyed a number of translations of other settings, principally CoC and VtM. I discovered skill systems in 2e, and am a firm believer in your character having competencies that are measurable and checkable with probability as well as roleplay. The description is always integral to the resolution, the numbers are a mechanic that determines success, much the way more than mere intent is neccessary to resolve things like combat. Do you remember the thing, or were you asleep during that class? Can you make a positive impression, (or do you have spinach stuck in your teeth, or did your voice crack)? Can you craft something on the fly, or jimmie a lock in the dark? Do you recognize the noble’s house by their heraldry, and do you know their properand preferred form of address?
I stopped playing for about ten years, and when I started up, I collected every retroclone I could find, and have had tabletop experience with DCC and SW:CL, as well as GURPS. I have also read Torchbearer, Fate, Mothership, and Dungeon World.
For the last 6 years, I have run GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. As I recently told someone, my style of play involves deep construction of a sandboxy world, that has both a measure of secrets and an internal consistency that requires building on my part. My need for this is partly tied to a memory problem I have. Players shape the world, according to the limits and abilities of their character concept. They also do some shaping of the world during character creation. You were trained by a mystic order? They, and their enemies, are out there. Suffered an injury at the claws of a dragon? Don’t be surprised to see her shadow flying overhead at some point.
Now, we play with a certain set of expectations; these are covered in my online information about the game (the game is a play by post. ) I want the characters to be built from certain sourcebooks according to, or very close to template, and customazeable to an extent within your character concept. Technology is limited to specific tropes of the genre. I take characters at a few different power levels, higher powered concepts are not something I am equipped to deal with at this time. Expect that your character will be excellent at the primary features of their concept, fairly good at some related things, and not so good at things that are not part of your chatacter’s main focus. If you wanted a sort of multifaceted jack of all trades, you might be good at a lot of things, but not particularly amazing at any one thing.
You can expect that other characters, much like yours, will have their own motivations, dreams, fears, limits, and connections to the rest of the world, and are invited to participate in these aspects. You can expect to have some effect on the world, actions have consequences, and good deeds make the world a better place. There are a certain amount of fate-influencing conditions that can be built in to a character design (GURPS is a point buy system, so it is a very thoughtful choice to make to include things like this). Advantages like Serendipity, which will always place you in reach of what you need, assorted varieties of luck, Weirdness Magnet, which keeps things interesting, Wild Talent, that lets you try and spontaneously learn things you have no training for,and Gizmo and Widget, which make sure you packed your whatsit when you needed it. There are modular abilities that let you become a temporary expert in any topic, and there are social advantages ranging from allies you have a close tie with, and enemies likewise entangling your life, smaller scale things like “I know a guy” and Favor that kick in in a pinch, but there are no real narrative switches that are player defined the way they are in FATE or AW.
You build your character, and that is a worthy endeavor, and I build the rest. This is not to say I am giving you a script, but a stage with scenery, lighting, perhaps thematic music, and I hire all of the actors not in your troupe, and write some of their lines. I keep track of hundreds of NPC’s and their motivations, some with minimal notes, others growing in detail as their interactions with players define them.
A good knowledge roll may inform you that there are tunnels below the city, and that they have been used for smuggling, but it will not tell you that the nearest manhole opens directly into the ninja’s secret lair, because I know all of the entrances to their lair, which ones are trapped, which are guarded, and which are forgotten. At the same time, someone built their character as a member of the Sewer worker’s guild, and paid to have a rudimentary map of the undercity.
The same way you can build a character who oozes magical terror, and someone else can be immune to fear, you can build someone who is (expensively) supernaturally attractive and inhumanly charismatic, and anyone else can have a (cheaper and easier) build that is simply immune to their charms; A bonus laden roll to use sex appeal on someone completely uninterested will not sway them to your cause, sometimes the best response you might get is a polite “You are cute, but not my type”. Likewise, a terrific search roll will not reveal a secret door that isn’t there. I usually reward critically successful search rolls with the discovery of something valuable that the inhabitants of the area are unaware of, but abilities like inventing a door when you need one are worth almost half of you character’s base points (Warp, -10% (accessibility) for requiring a search roll to “find” a temporary door (+0% special effect) that leads where you want to go: 90 points).
Around the time of the collapse of G+, I had been to the gauntlet forae, and attempted to initiate conversations about the type of games I play, and was greeted with the same kind of condescending hostility that I used to only get from ZS and Pundit back in the day, for not playing their kind of way.
My game isn’t colonial, folks are largely exploring an area that was depopulated after a plague, and dealing with undead in the same areas, or fighting bullies, or rescuing a mixed couple from an angry mob. Sometimes they are fighting demons, cultists, and ninja, other times they are helping people the local law enforcement choose to ignore. One group (I am running eleven threads, each with its own party of characters) is helping a village that is comprised of refugees who left their homeland without their genealogical records, and as such cannot call on aid from the ancestors they have forgotten the names of in order to combat evil spirits. One group I had all ready to throw down with an alien elder thing, and to my surprise they parleyed, and the dice delivered an awesome reaction roll… now they have it living in their compound – an abandoned set of tenements they are revitalizing in the wake of a set of serial murders and a magical disaster that collapsed the streets. Another team had been accompanied by a GM PC that was a godborn demon hunter. The huntress was banished back to their home plane, leaving them to track down a magically moving shop on their own, and the gang split up to try and summon her back. I wasn’t expecting them to want her, but apparently they became very attached to the four armed celestial, and now she is back in the game.
I told someone the other day that my play style and my game were not a good fit for any systems Powered by the Apocalypse, and they asked me why I didn’t want to improve* my game, without knowing what or how I play. It all depends on what your group likes. My daughter expressed an interest in having me run a game for her friends. I love my GURPS, but, if the game actually formed, I would be spending a bit of time learning what their assumptions and preferences were, and might end up running Far Away Land, Blood & Treasure, or 5e (like the fancy kids play) for them depending on what they wanted. I might go with BFRPG because I could get everyone the books. It depends on what they like or want. There is no wrong way to have fun.
*What they had said is why wouldn’t you want to be improving your game, but had meant doing more improv (improv-ing maybe should have been improvising) not making improvements…
When I was creating artwork for my Undead Stock Art Bundle, I illustrated the above nasty, which I was sure John Stater had included in an issue of his excellent zine Nod..,and it turns out it was from the very first issue, currently available from Lulu.com (use the codes ONEFIVE for 15% off and ONESHIP for free shipping).
With his permission, the creatures (one of many listings in that book):
Headless screamers arise from the corpses of the beheaded. They are cruel and chaotic beings who delight in tormenting the living. Headless screamers look something like zombies with a noticeable red slash across its neck. They can throw their heads with alarming accuracy, and in fact do not need to throw their own head, for the headless screamer’s intelligence and animating force are in the body. Many of these creatures keep four or five heads handy. Thrown heads have a range increment of 20’. The thrown head will snap its jaws, dealing 1d8 points of damage to anyone hit and then latching on if the target fails a saving throw. A latched head inflicts 1d4 points of bite damage each round until removed. Headless screamers can telekinetically retrieve these heads and still move or attack each round. Headless screamers can also emit a shrill shriek from the air hole in their necks. Anyone hearing this must succeed at a saving throw or suffer a ‐1 penalty to hit, damage and save for 1 hour.
head (1d8); Move 15; Save 13; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Throw and
retrieve head, scream, immune to cold.
I GURPSified this as follows:
Headless Screamers (DF)
ST: 14 HP: 18 Speed: 5.00
DX: 9 Will: 8 Move: 4
IQ: 8 PER: 9
HT: 12 FP: 12 SM: 0
Dodge: 8 Parry: 9 (Unarmed) DR: 0
Throw Head (14): 1d crushing plus follow-up bite for 1d crushing
Bite/Punch (12): 1d crushing.
Scream: affects all hearing as Fear spell
Traits: Bad Smell; Bloodlust, Cannot Learn; Darkvision, Doesn’t Breathe;Doesn’t Sleep; Fragile (Unnatural); High Pain Threshold; Immunity(All mind control); Immunity to Metabolic Hazards; Intolerance: Living; Indomitable; Injury Resistance 1(cold); Injury Tolerance (No Blood, No Head, Unliving); Returning weapon (head: costs 1 FP); Sadism, Temperature Tolerance 10 (-115° to 60°); Unfazeable; Unhealing (Total). Affected by pentagram, True Faith, and spells that affect evil
Skills: Brawling-12; Wrestling-12 (+2 ST when grappling) Throwing-14.
Notes: Headless Screamers are truly evil, and cannot be negotiated with. They appear as normal zombies with obvious throat wounds. They can see even without heads, and usually keep 4-5 heads handy for throwing or wearing; Heads have range 7/14, and can return telekinetically to their hand.
GURPS DF stats are as follows (a blend of the Owl and Cat familiars from DF 5-Allies):
ST: 3 [-70] HP: 9  Speed: 6.00 
DX: 12 * Will: 12  Move (Air): 12/24 
IQ: 10  Per: 12  Move (Ground): 2 [-20]
HT: 12  FP: 12  SM: -3
Dodge: 9 Parry: n/a DR: 0
Bite or Claw (16): 1d-5 cutting.
Combat Reflexes ; Enhanced Move 1 (Air) ; Flight (Winged, -25%) ; Night Vision 8 ; Silence 2 ;Teeth (Sharp) ; Vibration Sense (Air) .
Disadvantages: Familiar [-22]; Laziness [-10]; No Fine Manipulators [-30] Curious [-1].
Skills: Aerobatics (H) DX-1 -11; Brawling (E) DX+2 -14; Flight (A) HT+1 -13; Observation (A) Per+1 -13; Stealth (a) DX+2  14† Survival(Woodlands) (A) Per+1 -13.
* Cost reduced for No Fine Manipulators (-40%).
† Includes +2 for Silence
Masters of an Meowl familiar can buy Common Sense (GBF,
-40%) ; Combat Reflexes (GBF,-40%) ;
Flight (Controlled Gliding, -45%, GBF, -40%) ; ];
Luck (GBF, -40%)Night Vision 3 (GBF, -40%) , 5 , or 8 , or Dark Vision
(GBF, -40%)  and Silence 1 (GBF, -40%)  or 2 .
Those who buy Flight can also add Enhanced Move (Air; GBF,
-40%) [12/level], but only to reduce deceleration.
At some point I have to write up my view of witches for DF. In the meantime, I have finished up some illustrations for Gabor Lux, hopefully Castle Xyntillan will be on sale in time for the Holidays; at the moment it is in the proof stage.
I am drinking a PSL with a pumpkin donut, and have a pumpkin spice candle burning as I, a wiccan, celebrate Samhain.Two weeks ago I went to Maine to look at the turning of the leaves. I am pretty basic.
This makes me the perfect target audience for this excellent addition to Timothy Brannon’s collection of witchcraft related gaming supplements. In addition to a collection of tongue in cheek references to the trope of those who enjoy the seasonal beverage (his sample characters embodying Maiden, Matron, and Crone are Becky, Karen, and Carol) with spells and powers like OMG Becky, I Want To Talk To Your Manager, and Resting Witch Face, it actually has a lot of content I want to be playing with. The rest of the magical abilities include the sort of Fairytale abilities that would let you emulate the abilities of both Cinderella’s fairy godmother and the Wicked Witch of the West. The rituals that emphasize the ssense of community of a coven warm my heart, but then I have always been a fan of witches.
Illustrations below copyright by the Beistle Co, and Adrienne Adams
I did some illustrations for this one:
Now, there is one spell in the book called Eerie Forest, which makes people caught in the affected woods uncomfortable and frightened. Given the Pumpkin Spice Tradition’s love of All Things Autumn, I propose the following spell:
Level: Druid 3, Magic User 3, Witch 3
Duration: 10 min/level
Range: a 60′ radius of forest
With this spell, the caster intensifies the experience of being in a beautiful autumnal forest, with glorious fall folliage, crunchy leaves, and just enough of a briskness in the air to appreciate a light scarf and a favorite sweater. The caster can designate one creature per level to recieve the benefits of this experience, +2 to saves, and the effects of a remove fear spell.
Material components: a lovely crispy fallen leaf
Note: This spell may be cast in conjunction with Eerie Forest, creating an area that is both delightful to some, and disturbing to others.
When I have included witches in my GURPS games, it was easy to build them in Fantasy, as magery is the source of all spells, and the witches could just pick up spells from, animal, body, plant, elemental, communication and empathy, and mind control without issue. With DF, it is a little more complicated. IFor a 250 point witch,would require a familiar, from DF 5, magery 0, and 60 points from any of the other spellcasting classes: druidic power investiture, magery, shamanic, and elemental attunement, with any of their powers (autotrance, faerie or spirit affinity, green thumb, plant empathy, empathy…it goes on) At some point I have to lay out the class complete, and also detail the funky familiar called the Meowl!
Just released this week ( and in time for Halloween) is my latest bundle of stock art : Undead available from DrivethruRPG for $4.99.
I have been doing a lot of work these past months for Gabor Lux’ Echoes from Fomalhaut, and in particular for his upcoming Tegel Manor inspired megadungeon, Castle Xyntillan, and the still-in-development In the Shadow of the City God
Two of his most recent items, The Nocturnal Table currently available as a pdf from Drivethrurpg and featuring work by Mathew Ray, Stefan Poag, and Peter Mullen as well as myself, along with EFF#6: The Rising Tombs which has art by myself and Stefan Poag also, both are suited for describing convoluted weird cities at night. As my own game takes place in such a place, I found this rather interesting. The random encounters in the Nocturnal Table go way beyond the old DMG city encounter tables, and into some very strange places. Otherwise boring encounters with nameless NPc’s are richly described run ins with peculiar named personages, each with a distince flavor. There has been a lot said about demonstrating an implied setting by examining the encounter tables instead of dropping in extensive exposition, for example, regarding OD&D. The Rising Tombs does this with minimal descriptions and small notes, and leaves the reader to connect the dots. In one part of the city, in a sealed community where the swells reside, it is always night with a perpetual full moon. This is atmospheric, but there are some supporting features; The city is ruled by a powerful illusionist, and also the rich folks are near immortal and addicted to potions of longevity… or they may be vampires. The under layers of the city evoke a bit of the depths of Dwimmermount, without dumping pages of history up front. There are, by way of anticipating adventurers who want to burn down the tavern, mentions of an enormous machine that extends into the depths, that might explode like a megaton warhead if tampered with, and the side note that one must wear “sacred vestments” (radiation suits) to safely enter the lower levels of a dungeon. Not only are the routes to this area from a cheap hotel that H.H.Holmes might have built, or through the green room of a collapsing Theater haunted by a phantom… or through a temple of a rat/plague god. These are not your typical entry by sewer dungeons, and definitely not like either my or Hasbro’s taverns with conduits to the underworld. Gabor Lux, (known on forae as Melan), for all his resentment against the Sworddream style of OSR derived play, is firmly in touch with the parts of our hobby that are gonzo and rooted in Weird fiction. It is no secret that I like that style of gaming, as I grew up reading my dad’s virtually complete Appendix N library (assembled as it was printed, in crumbling 35 cent paperbacks, most of which I have been reacquiring from used booksellers), and while a good amount of both Gabor’s and John Stater‘s products are procedurally generated, they go into some far out places that I am happy to illustrate. That headless undead in my stock art bundle is based on one of the encounters in Nod zine, although I forget what issue. I own copies of about eight issues I did illustrations for, but there are 26 other issues of the same grade of super detailed and strange hexcrawls.
Meanwhile, in my game, there have been some odd developments.
The group travelling with the demon hunting celestial Kalima have decided to try and summon her back to the world after a demonologist they were fighting banished her with a hurled Spellstone. I was thoroughly expecting that they would be glad to be rid of such a DM PC, but no plan escapes an encounter with players unscathed. They are enlisting the leader of a Kali cult named Molaram to help in the summoning…
My Wuxia group has traveled into the megafauna rich land of Veroigne, nominally to collect a rice harvest for the Sahudese population back in Northport, and have encountered the odd ecosystem of the rice grower’s village. Swarms of stirges rise out of the rice paddies, but are chased away from the workers by a sacred giant dragonfly, from whom the party received a blessing, much the way the other group in the area had their ranger blessed by the Stag of Veroigne, who was somewhere between the Forrest Spirit of Princess Mononoke, and Bambi’s father. Both groups have seen tracks of giant rabits being stalked by dire wolves.
The group that were hired to hunt a rampaging beast have instead decided to try and take over an abandoned castle, which brings me around to an issue developing around my Juniors group. They have been trying to establish themselves with real property (excepting those among them who have Social Stigma:Criminal, who cannot directly own real property in Northport) and I have been using the Base Perk as a leveled one. Base normally gives you a place that you don’t have to pay rent that is about as good as what you might have, but with a status level of 2 levels lower than your own. At status 0, that is not much to talk about, in this case, a peasant’s hovel or tenement row house in disrepair. I suppose in other settings it would be a back booth in a diner or a leaky basement apartment. Making it a leveled perk lets you raise it by one status level per point invested, which means that at 3 points, it is a clean, functional status 0 home. This group of PC’s are trying to control the housing above an entrance to the dungeon and in particular, to a magical gate. I had originally had them invest in independent income, but that was only netting half a silver a month per point at average wealth, so I converted those points to base. The Initiate in the group has been attracting followers (not yet bought as allies) who have been doing things like basic carpentry, weeding, whitewashing…etc, that have resulted in the area being upgraded. A lot of the things I have been thinking of here were sort of echoed in Necropraxis’ blog about Stronghold Achievements for low level characters.
I miss things like the Mansion advantage from GURPS VtM, and the leveled advantage Sanctuary, from the defunct Advanced Goblins & Grottoes setting from Otherwhere dot org, (sadly even beyond the reach of the internet wayback machine). That one let you build anything from the Batcave (large, secret, secure) to something like the airships of Girl Genius.