Warlock!

Screenshot_20200517-185757_Drive

Fire Ruby Designs just released this beauty on Drivethrurpg.  You can get it as a pdf for about $6, and as a hardback for $25.

This game has the most comprehensive  collection of my stock art so far -54 separate images of mine, making for a very comprehensive look to the product, and a great portfolio piece for me.

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Gaming in a time of plague

I work in a major New York hospital, and things are pretty horrible for a lot of people. My family was very lucky with our brush with this thing, generally very light cases, although my wife and eldest had worse versions of it than I did. I used my time in quarantine to finish writing up a game, and my return to work has humbled me in the face of the monumental task that nurses have caring for these critically ill patients. I am grateful for my health, for even breathing.

The game I wrote is an Odysseys and Overlords version of an adventureI have mentioned previously, set in my home campaign, in the city of Northport.

I have been working on this setting for about 18 years in different versions of GURPS, and because I am not Douglas Cole, and do not have a license for GURPS material, I am releasing it in a system with an OGL. One of the primary conceits, as mentioned previously came from one of my favorite Dragon Magazines, number 138. This had to do with a campaign set in a post plague world, which for me gave a twist on the borderlands idea; it is not the colonial border of human lands and an inhabited land to be conquered, but the edge of the remnant of a semi-collapsed civilization, adjacent to places depopulated by fatal sickness, and chock full of under maintained ruins, still full of treasure, where the remaining inhabitants are beset by banditry and an unchecked level of monstrous incursions.

When I wrote a lot of Northport, I designed a dungeon under a city that was full of mass graves of plague victims that had become undead due to improper burial, I had not conceived of the reality of the same thing (minus the undead) happening now, to patients I knew and had worked with. The concept hits me a lot harder, and fills me with sadness.

The idea of a rat borne plague has featured in the other gaming products I have written; in both Beneath the Fallen Tower, and in Northport, it spread because available adventurers were doing mercenary work in local wars, and no one was left to chase the rats out of an innkeeper’s cellar.

Meanwhile, as the need to engage social distancing to save our lives prohibits actual tabletop play, my preferred method of gaming, play by post, works as well as it ever has, although there is a hell of a lot less downtime at work to post.

It fells awkward having the pretend issues of my game suddenly become relevant in real life; gaming is supposed to be an escape.

Be safe out there people.

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Apes, Journeys, and Orcs.

I was recently watching a few inspirational movies about underground expeditions, the 1960 Journey to the Center of the Earth, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and I tried to watch At the Earth’s Core, but it was just miserable. Seriously, Peter Cushing shot Star Wars immediately after this, and talk about a world of difference between practical effects and creature designs. I know they were trying to give a different look than Journey’s iguanas with vanes glued to them,  but Toho at its worst did better monster suits.

The reason I went for AtEC was because these dudes made me think of pig nosed orcs7111352_orig

They had maces, ranseurs and whips, and the movie proceeded the Monster Manual by a tiny bit.

Of course, 1970’s Beneath the Planet of the Apes had dungeons, with tunnels, spiked barred cells, and a pretty good depiction of studded leather armor

But the grandaddy of them all was 1960’s JttCotE, with giant lizards, resource management, Atlantean ruins, and of course a giant mushroom forest.

Now, AtEC had one too but it was just a mess.

Tiger King

Like most of you, I spent some of quarantine watching stories on netflix that were so sensational that they bordered on fiction… here are some somewhat fictional versions of those larger than life characters.

As a disclaimer, a relative of mine once owned a roadside attraction in Florida, featuring retired circus animals

Joe Exotic

ST 9 DX 11 IQ 12 HT 12

Adv:

10 Ally group (workers)

5 Ally Partner

5 versatile

10 Animal Empathy

20 a wealth of Tigers

10 Charisma+2

Dis:

-4 Unattractive

-10 Struggling

-5 Overconfident

-5 obsession: Carole Baskin

-10 Miserly

-5 Selfish

-10 Enemy: Carole Baskin

Q

flamboyant, tattoos and piercings, likes to blow shit up,

jealous of attention, substance abuse

Skills

Animal handling 14

Vetrinary 12

First Aid 12

Psychology tigers 12

Physiology tigers 10

Performance 13

Singing 13

Leadership 11

Politics 10

Propaganda 10

Sex Appeal 12

Fast talk 14

Carousing 12

Guns: pistol 13

Semi auto 12

Demolition 13

Driving 10

Drive ATV 11

Carole Baskin

ST 10 DX 11 IQ 13 HT 11

Adv:

8 beautiful

50 Millionaire

5 Ally:Peta

10 Ally group

5 Higher Purpose: Save the Tigers

20 wealth of tigers

10 reputation+2 as friend to Animals

Dis

-5 obsession: Joe Exotic

-5 enemy: Joe Exotic

-20 Secret (murderer)

-5 overconfidence

-10 sense of duty to animals in captivity

Q

-petty, cheap, wears flower garland,loves to ride her bike on the grounds, wears animal prints

Sklls:

Animal handling 12

Psychology tigers 12

Public speaking 14

Acting 13

Politics 12

Performance 11

Leadership 12

Propaganda 15

Sex appeal 14

Forensics 12

bicycle 12

Doc Antle

ST 11 DX 11 IQ 13 HT 11

Adv:

4 Attractive

15 Charisma+3

Will+1

30 very wealthy

20 wealth of tigers and other exotics

5 flexible

10 rep+2 as excellent animal handler

10 ally group

10 animal empathy

Dis:

-15 Lecherous

-20 megalomania

-5 professional code of honor

-5 disciplines of faith

-5 sense of duty to his animals

-pony tail, considers himself a spiritual leader, controlling, extravagant,has all his women get breast implants

Skills:

Performance 13

Sex appeal 16

Public speaking 15

Leadership 15

Intimidation 16

Psychology 12

animal handling 18

Veterinary 14

Physiology great cats 12

Breath control 14

Meditation 15

Sexual arts 12

Philosophy 12

Riding, Elephant 12

Mario

ST 11 DX 12 IQ 12 HT 12

Adv:

10 abundance of animals

10 animal Empathy

10 charisma+2

10 comfortable

Dis:

-5 social stigma: criminal

-5 callous

-5 Overconfident

-5 loves tigers

-10 bad temper

-10 bully

-5 pirate’s code of honor

-5 Reputation as brutal drug trafficker

Q -truthful

Skills:

Smuggling 13

Streetwise 14

Pharmacy 13

Intimidation 16

Guns 12

Knife 12

Brawling 12

Wrestling 11

Forensics 10

Fast talk 12

Sex appeal 13

carousing 14

Animal Handling 15

Vetrinary 12

Process and Pixma Problems

These two goatfolk (or Broo) were drawn for Ryan Thompson for The Hidden Hand of the Horla, which can be got as part of Appendix N’s current kickstarter 

I had some fun with the tattoos, which invoke both Baphomet and Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young.

My usual process involves a pencil drawing with two stages of inking with Pilot G-2 Gel pens, using 0.38 and 1.0 sizes, and then scanning at 600 dpi, passing through Photoshop to crop, lighten and contrast until the majority of the pen marks are gone, and then because I never properly learned how to use it, I blow it up in MSPaint and adjust pixel by pixel until I like it.

The problem comes with scanning.  I had a good deal on a Canon Pixma 2525, and discovered to my dismay that it likes to search for significant images and crop them out of the main image.  It’s algorithms also detest diagonal composition, and try to correct it, as if a small photo had been placed on the scanning bed  askew.

This really screws with things, as it can destroy a composition with the arbitrary vertical/horizontal realignment, along with the arbitrary cropping. To correct it from my end, since tech support could not find its ass with both hands and a flashlight, I have to draw heavy frames around the subject.  It took about five times to get the goats straightened out, and this is what they looked like by the time I accepted the final scans:

This is some bullshit.

 

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Demons and Patrons in Basic Era Games

I am working on converting both my adventure Beneath the Fallen Tower and the Redoubt of Hades from GURPS (because I don’t have a license) to BFRPG (in particul;ar my publisher’s variant Odysseys and Overlords) and OSE.  BFRPG is very easy to pick up; it was designed as a quick and cheap starter game that anyone could immediately pick up and play. Old School Essentials is an elegant and accurate re-framing of B/X D&D. A circumstance I have discovered is that while my games feature a lot of summonable creatures, infernal, celestial, and elder entities.

Literally, in addition to the menagerie a couple of the druids are porting in, the Necromancers accompanied by the spirits of their ancestors, and the earth priest with his pet elemental, there is a character with elder thing power investiture from an otherworldly sorcerer that keeps rolling insanely good reaction rolls, a wildly talented bureaucrat who summoned a celestial demonslayer, and another player who has a hellhound, demonic servant,  and ‘Spirtitual adviser’. It is a lot.

Neither old school game system has any spells for summoning,  which makes things less of a headache for the DM, and generally kept these editions from triggering Satanic Panic responses, but they do have devices for summoning elementals and both djinn and efreet. Therefore, I propose items for summoning other extradimensional entities, perhaps graded for the HD of what they summon, 1d12 HD, with lemures, larvae, or manes at the low end, and a demon lordling at the high end, and an extra chance for getting something higher level.

   Brazier of Extraplanar Summoning

brazier

This iron or bronze brazier, incised with runes and chased with enamels or silver inlay , is inscribed with the name of a being from a nearby dimension. Any item of this type is good for summoning that singular being, for a period of up to one hour, and can be used no more than 6 times per owner.  For any given brazier, roll 1d12, and on a roll of 12, roll an additional d8. The total number rolled is the HD of the creature that can be  summoned by performing a ritual with the brazier as the central feature, involving candles and diagrams on the floor. The creature summoned may be of any alignment, and this can be determined by random die roll.  The summonee must perform a service for the summoner, but may make a save vs spells (minus the summoner’s wisdom bonus, if any) to resist. Braziers are worth 1000 GP per HD summonable.

 

Now, you can find game stats for any sort of extradimensional being in most advanced rulebooks, and in a variety of blogs ( such as Hereticwerks  where I got the Ymid from), but if you want to keep B/X formatting, I can recommend New Big Dragon’s Fifty Fiends (available on Drivethrurpg for only a buck!)

And for that matter, you can get a bunch of neat pictures of demons from me too!

(Or from Jeremy Hart )

 

And now that demons are in play, what about patrons? DCC did this excellently, but here I have

20 answers to the question: What does your warlock’s patron want in exchange for power?

1 to spread chaos! Go out there and blow shit up!

2 to be entertained.  They are bored, and find your actions interesting…until they don’t.

3 to be amused. They find the supplicant ridiculous, even pathetic. 

4 to annoy a rival, by showing them up with their own fancy minions.

5 to annoy a rival, by encouraging the destruction of their (equally) nefarious plan.

6 to spread their own influence; use of their powers tags an area with their signature,  the entity with the most tags wins something, as if our world was a boardgame to them.

7 to manifest themselves in our world; the more their power is used, the greater their ability to enter our plane.

8 to void excess energy that is causing them etheric indigestion. 

9 to silence your yapping. You are annoying, but not yet worth the bother of destroying.

10 to alleviate the irritation of the sense of debt; the entity cannot tolerate supplication without response; it itches.

11 to appease their sense of vanity. They desire worship.

12 to appease their curiosity. Whatever will the minion do with a little power.

13 to appease their hunger. Blood and Souls!

14 to appease their hunger. Only creatures empowered by and flavored like them can fulfill their hideous appetites

15 to appease their unnatural lust. Only creatures empowered and flavored like them can fulfill their hideous appetites.

16 to better observe our plane. Buying a pair of eyes is cheaper than actually manifesting.

17 to relieve their aching loneliness. Being immortal makes it hard to keep friends.

18 to pay a gambling debt. The being is making the pact because of an unfortunate forfeiture on a wager.

19 to pay back a favor. The summoning and binding spells are vestiges of an ancient promise made to someone who liberated the being from imprisonment, and then forgot that they were still active.

20 to be left alone. Power is cast out to deflect contact.

 

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