In a hole there lived…

I was watching the trailer to the Rankin Bass version of the Hobbit and have been thinking about Rise Up Comus’ Under Hill, By Water. The cover , of course is by Evlyn Moreau, who is all kinds of awesome.

I have been toying with a project inspired by these ideas and images, along with assorted children’s book illustrations of animals all cozy in their beds under the roots of trees. I suppose Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s Below The Root Series was also an inspiration toward building a halfling centric adventure, although the notes in the Dungeon Fantasy Companion 3 about demi-human dungeons and abandoned halfling villages made me think about navigating the under tunnels of a shire.

Previously, my Brass Bell of Dunmoore crowd (we tried to meet today, but work got in the way) had run into a team of halfling ‘Kobold hunters’ who they were able to surmise as being on a road trip/ pub crawl.

The fine Shire of Wooster, or Worcestershire, as it is writ on maps, is Sheriffed by Malsom Reed, has two taverns; Amy’s Cozy Corner, a halfling sized establishment, and The Bell in the Bird, which caters to larger visitors. A nearby dwarven mine ensures a steady rate of bearded customers, and a not so distant bridge brings travelers by boat and mule cart. And with strangers come thieves, who the Sheriff hounds out of town with apologies to the robbed, but rarely any recompense.

Naturally it seems that the thefts occur in the Bird and the Bell, where Harkow Vert shakes his head at the propensity of the bigger folk to try and rob each other as he polishes the bar with an old cloth, but what is one to do if one wants to be a good neighbor? Start excluding the wayfarers bringing coin and hunger? These things will happen.

Now, most farmers will tend to their own nightsoil much in the same way that they compost the manure from their livestock, but large establishments, and the many homes built into the hill without benefit of large fields and minimal gardens need some kind of waste management services, and perhaps some discrete passages whereby the gongfarmers might remove the incidental byproducts of eating establishments…

And what has become my all -time favorite means of waste disposal in fantasy games, there have to be otyughs somewhere… Just ask Tim Shorts about his micro Adventure 102.

Now, the dwarves are agitated about something, and it may take some sorting out over by their minestead, which while barely productive (there is a merchant who would pay dearly for blue gemstones he is convinced can be found there…) leads deep beneath the earth to a waystation on a dwarven highway through the underdark between two major dwarf fortresses.

I have something for the next group of characters I can assemble when I have a night to play and my regular group can’t make it.

Buy my stuff as most of it is on sale.

Better yet, buy this bundle for reproductive justice, it has some of my stuff in it, but some really excellent things as well, and for a good cause.

As always, support my Patreon!

An important Charity Bundle

I am going to get political.

If you have followed this blog, you will know that i am leftward leaning and support gender and racial equality, freedom of gender expression, and body autonomy. If you consider me a Social Justice Warrior or Woke, and mean those s perjoratives, then this blog is probably not to your taste.

That said, my most recent collection of stock art is part of a charity bundle for Reproductive Justice.

Also, my other titles on drivethrurpg are part of the May D&D sale

I will be back to posting gaming content soon.

Support my Patreon if you want to get some of my art out of the bundle.

SilverAxe and more

Irecently snagged the pdf of this gem from Exalted Funeral, where the print+pdf combo is$15, and am waiting on my hardcover.

You can get it there, or pdf alone at Drivethrurpg for $10

This mini setting is excellent. There are long vanished otherworldly creatures responsible for all of the dungeons and general weirdness, much like Blueholme’s suggestion that elder things and their black pudding servitors built all of the dungeons in the implied world of that game. I use a similsr conceit in my game Northport.

There are 9 thematically interconnected dungeons, a race of cyclopean ogres, and a boss monster straight out of Zelazny by way of the Monster Manual 2 (here). By using the 3 way alignment from Old school Essentials, that entity is aligned with Chaos, and the their surroundings suitably corrupted as a result.

This is good stuff, and I heartily recommend it.

One of its features is a series of cyphered puzzle carvings in a made up language; I did something similar for Todd Leback -shop his store

Recently I have been working with new art materials, and here are a couple items my patrons are going to see next week: a ruined castle and some githkin- a baroque-punk Githyanki and a spartan-zen Githzerai; respectively Astral Reavers (as seen in Dwimmermount) and Void mystics, which I detailed for DF in this post from 2016.

as always,if you like this content, support my Patreon

or buy my art

Emptying”Boxes of Doom”

Recently heard of the term “boxes of doom” as things folks with ADHD stow things into that they will get to deal with when they get around to it. Which is usually never. I have and have had numerous of these. Today i dumped out a few, sorted and made some hard decisions.

Then i threw out most of it, including the notes for a novel i had written most of before i got on better meds, and had a lot of baggage written into it. Likewise old gaming notes, dream journals, and art that was not as good as I remembered.

I kept some art, the notes to a children’s fantasy story i started working on a decade and a half ago, and a few other things. There are more boxes to go. A lot of it will go.

They are full of might have beens, unfinished stories with disingenuous premises, and crap i wrote while under the influence of my less medicated mind from a time that I have moved on from, hopefully becoming a better person along the way.

Here is to doom, and its unboxing.

New art supplies, new art styles

y birthday my brilliant wife got me a sampler set of drawing tablets with a dozen types of paper, from vellum to watercolor paper to hot and cold pressed presentation paper, (compared to my cutrate printer paper, this is a major step up) and a batch of drawing supplies; charcoal, graytone markers, and chalk pastels. I intend to be using it all.

here are a couple pictures of some new work:

a githyanki

The castle cutaway is on printer psper, the others on the new papers or illustration board.

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Two Unboxings

I recently recieved two boxed game sets; A24’s The Green Knight Roleplaying Game, and a recently crowdfunded translation of Swords & Wizardry in Hebrew.

The Green Knight RPG

The Green Knight, A24’s retelling of the Gawain story, is a gorgeous movie with a super saturated palette, a terrific soundtrack, and a great bit of Owls Creek Bridgery. I enjoyed the film tremendously, and for that reason my wife surprised me with the game.

The box is designed to look shelfworn, and has a really good feature: an inner box which serves to strengthen the structure in a way that would let you stack on top of it without risk of collapse. My copy is on top of my other boxed sets, so this isn’t an issue for me. Include is a full color rules booklet with glossy paper, a green marked d20, a map, and 5 character sheets with one for each class: Noble, knight, sorcerer, hunter and bard. You have four stats that add to a roll, along with skills which also add. There is a single roll mechanic, one one stat of significance, and that is Honor. In play, this is accumulated dishonor (2-20) which must be rolled over; at 20 points of dishonor, you can no longer act as a PC.

You start at 10 points of dishonor, which is gained every time you fail an honorable action, and lowered when you perform actions that are honorable. There are a few encounters that are detailed, including a final one with the titular Green Knight that will most likely mark the end of the game, although a small sample of suggested encounters wrap up the game. I think it could be expanded into a larger campaign if the basic premise of fighting the Green knight was not on the table. Generally opponents, except for boss like ones, fall on a single successful Melee combat roll, and it takes a sufficiency of failures to cause you to lose a combat. I think it works best as a one-off, but the atmosphere is quite beautiful. I could also see its scenarios being run using another system, like GURPS, where one or more characters have a code of chivalry to maintain.

The other game, I wish I knew more about, but although I participated in the headstart campaign because one of the designers tipped me off to the use of my stock art in the project, I only was able to read the updates by using Google translate.

the box has a thicker if lightweight structure, and very handy thumb cutouts for easy opening. The Green Knight setup could have benefited from that!as the cover is very tight.

more of my illustrations

In addition to a set of dice and some advertising or quick reference cards, and a large sheaf of character sheets, there are a player’s and GM’s guides, both containing a fair amount of my artwork. These, being in Hebrew, are bound on the right and not the left. Glossy covers and lightweight paper with black and white printing comparable to most PoD.

I have had my work so far published in English, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, and Polish game products.

new stock art

I have new stock art you can get here:

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/369640/Stock-Fantasy-Character-Art-3

support my patreon

Aspire to be “Woke”

Dyson's Dodecahedron

Woke

adjective, informal

alert to injustice in society, especially racism.

Representation in gaming, art, entertainment, and life matters.

Without representation we are invisible, others, outsiders, not worthy of care.

Being outsiders is EXACTLY what lead to the complete lack of compassion and help during the AIDS crisis.

When people speak out against inclusivity, they want things back like it was in the “good old days” when you didn’t have to treat people who are different than you like human beings.

Black Lives Matter.
Trans Women are Women.
Trans Men are Men.
Nonbinary people are who they are.
GLBTQ+ people are not a “trend” or a “phase” or unworthy of basic respect.

Inclusivity IS the MOST BASIC of respect.

Aspire to be on the anti-woke red list.

Be woke.

CARE.

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Doing Evil in the name of Good is still Good Right? Session 5 of my OSE game

This time we had three players, my good friend Stan, Ryan of the THAC0 blog and Todd of Third Kingdom Games.

Characters included the following PC’s and Retainers:

Gimbaya, Hobgoblin warrior woman,

Abbeye Softpaws, level 4 Lawful cleric (Stan)

Lance, Level 2 Neutral Fighter

Drucilla, Level 2 Lawful Magic User

Ruben, Level 3 Lawful Fighter (Ryan)

Annie, Level 3 Lawful Cleric

Sanken Tonni, Level 3 Neutral Fighter (Todd)

Barto the Bold, Level 1 Neutral Magic User

Encountered were the following:

a Merchant in Dunmore, along with his retainers

Farmer Brown, now proud owner of a cart and mule

Barin and Fergus, Level 1 Lawful Dwarves rescued from ogres

Nain, deceased Dwarf

Bill and Bob, two ogres, deceased

an army of skeletons, some slain, some turned, some under command of Barto the Bold

Our group met in the Brass bell, and divided up the loot from their last adventure, retaining the jewelry as a more compact form of currency than coin, except for a sapphire they sold to an insistent and slightly glazed over merchant, who said “She likes Blue” when asked why he so wanted a particular stone. The group had already checked for magic and had found none. There was a discussion about carrying coin, and I had become very used to DFRPG’s 255 coins to a pound as opposed to the 10 coins to a pound model of these older games. In any case, they sold it and reupped their supplies, upgraded Abbeye to plate mail, and passed her chainmail to Gimbaya to wear instead of her leather scale, bought a mule and cart, along with a door for the tower.

After bringing the door to their demesne, and checking to see if anyone could hang it by rolling for background skills, it was determined that both Sanken and her retainer Barto had been shipwrights, and had skill enough to install the door to the tower. The other backgrounds had Annie as a candlestick maker, and Abbeye as a baker, but no butcher was to be found; Ruben was a bowyer/fletcher, and Lance had been apprenticed to a cartographer, which had spurred his interest in adventure, and his skill with a schematic is probably what lead to the right size door being ordered. Drusilla was a Lorimer, which I had to look up, so she made spurs and the metal bits on tack and harness. That Todd’s characters were woodworkers of a sort was hilarious, as Todd is a master carpenter and cabinetmaker, as well as being a prolific game designer.

After a check in, threat session with their goblin tenements, they spent an uneventful night before heading out on the hobgoblins’ pole boat, and headed upriver. I kept rolling shit for encounters, so they got to a safe place to drag the boat onto the shore and make camp. Late that night, they heard noise and everyone got up and discovered some ogres arguing over whether it was better to boil dwarves before roasting them or to tenderize them by beating them into a paste and then grilling them. One bragged about eating “Coshig,” which he describes as a cow stuffed with a sheep and a piglet then stuffed into the sheep, but the other cut him off and told him the only thing he had ever seen him stuff into a sheep was himself… and a fight broke out. The party hailed them, and a simultaneous initiative roll resulted in a grand melee, during which Sanken was struck twice, but minimally by the ogres, Lance was injured, and Barto released the dwarves, who joined the party after the ogres were trounced,, although they mourned their cousin who had been surprised on watch while they slept, and also their prospecting gear that had been left at their camp.

Later that morning, after convincing the water wary dwarves to join them with healing and promises of loot, they headed back upriver, and eventually came to a good spot to tie up the boat. Gimbaya was without a clue as to how to proceed, as she always took the overland route instead of the water route, so they headed into unknown territory. Soon, while scouting with Ruben, she found a large encampment of skeletal warriors practicing in unison with their spears, and ignoring everything else. The party formed a brilliant plan, which involved first missile fire, a wall of flaming oil, then turning by both clerics, but discovered (after wasting oil) that because the skellys had been told to keep practicing until told otherwise, that they were fairly easy pickings, and they were able to eliminate over a dozen, and turned another 9, who regrouped and started practicing again. Searching the remains of the camp, they found the body of a backstabbed officer who had a baton marked with the same 4 horned goat skull as was on the skeleton’s shields.

Barto grabbed the baton, and found that by brandishing it, he could command the remaining 9 skeletons, prompting Abbeye to call out “Doing evil in the name of Good is still Good, Right? This deeply wounded Ryan’s sensibilities, as he is an Ethics professor. Nevertheless, the neutral characters prevailed in the use of the undead troops as they finally came upon the Hobgoblin’s ring fort. This meant an end to the evening, as it was time for Todd to go.

Things learned about playing OSE, included a lot of presumptions about undead from later editions were shared by most of the group. A quick check found that Skeletons, like all undead are chaotic in this edition, unlike 1e’s neutral alignment for mindless undead, and that there were no weapons any better or worse than any other for dealing with them.

A low loot expedition, but the hobgoblins in-lair treasure awaits!

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