Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New Oe/1e/BX Monster: Qiqirn

Qiqirn (s. and pl.) are large, six-legged canines that are bald over their bodies, but have hair on their feet, ears, mouth, and tails.

Though ghastly in appearance, qiqirn are not naturally aggressive. They are, instead, quite skittish. A qiqirn is surprised on a 1-4 (on 1d6) and will immediately flee. Even on a result of 5 or 6, they will still be reserved from engaging.

Their white coloration of the qiqirn provides it a natural camouflage in their native icy and snow-covered areas, allowing them to “accidentally” surprise on 1-3 under such conditions. Furthermore, because their appearance is downright ghastly, all creatures that have been surprised by a qiqirn and are standing within a 20' range must save vs. paralysis or be overtaken with convulsions (of fright) which will last 1-6 turns. If the convulsions last three or more turns, creatures so afflicted must make an additional saving throw vs. paralysis or suffer complete amnesia for a period of 3-18 days. A remove fear spell will cure the convulsions and/or the amnesia; a single spell will remove both if the amnesia sets in before the convulsions end.

The one exception to the qiqirn’s skittish nature is their natural hatred of arassases. In the presence of these massive catdragons, qiqirn become downright foolhardy (with qiqirn morale increasing to 11 in the presence of an arrassas).

FREQUENCY: Very rare
MOVE: 15"
% IN LAIR: 10%
NO. OF ATTACKS: See below
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

MOVE: 150'
ATTACKS: 1 bite
SAVE AS: Fighter: 1

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Is "The Heap" a Shambling Mound?

From the 1953 story "The Heap" which appeared in the comic book Black Magic #18,
produced by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

Let's see... half-vegetable, and half man... with a carrot-like nose?

Can anyone say, "shambling mound"?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Really Old Old-School Artist: E.R. Vogenauer

During my typical extended digging through, I came across another really old old-school artist. Today's featured artist, Ernst Rudolf Vogenauer, I found by way of a German-language version of The Nibelungenlied. This particular edition was published around 1920, and the influence of Expressionism (and the Germans' love for it) is more than a little obvious. Compare Vogenauer's style to somebody like Willy Pogany, whose work is characterized by the fluidity of Art Nouveau, which was happening in France and England concurrently with that heavy-handed expressionist stuff from (mainly) Germany. But that's what I like about Vogenauer's stuff here... the weight, and the violence! (Look at that spear through the body illustration!)

Of all the folks I've featured as part of this series, I think Vogenauer's work is the closest stylistic predecessor of a lot of current OSR illustration (think Stefan Poag).

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Of Dice and Men: Additional Interviews

Most of you have probably seen others post the NPR interview with David Ewalt, author of Of Dice and Men. But yesterday, Dallas NPR affiliate KERA had a chance to interview David as well. Here are links to this podcast (along with the NPR interview).

:: Podcast: Krys Boyd of Dallas NPR affiliate KERA interviews David Ewalt (8/21/13)

:: Podcast: The NPR Weekend Edition interview of David Ewalt (08/18/13)

:: Q&A with David Ewalt at Topiama

:: The Of Dice and Men Web Site

:: Of Dice and Men at David Ewalt's Web Site

Monday, August 19, 2013

BX DM Screen Part II

Here's the 2nd set of panels for the BX DM screen I'm working on. The inside left panel has hireling/henchmen recruitment information, including mercenary types and pay, as well as specialist types, salaries, and abilities. The middle panel is movement and encumbrance. And the inside right panel is equipment costs and treasure type information (using my d20-based treasure type table, instead of those damned percentages that make calculating treasure a bitch).

The thing I'm particularly fond of is the outside. I love the way the Arthur Rackham illustrations lined up to create a sort triptych. I just hope the printing holds up based on the type of scan this is. Speaking of...

I've got pricing on doing some digital prints of this (en masse), and my buddy at the print shop is going to run me off a couple of samples to show me the how the cover stock will work on the the digital press, as well as how the scans will hold up in digital format. Hopefully, I'll have those some time later this week. Other than that, it only needs a little bit of proofing before I decide how to proceed with this.

Oh, and to answer a question from the previous post... these are not physical mockups... yet!
These are just computer "renderings" from the final art/layout.

And for quick comparison, here are the first panel layouts...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cool Free Runic Font

I found a cool font today called "Pixacaism." It's sort of a post-modern runic thing (see pic). You can either follow this link to the page where you can download it (but you have to scroll pretty far down to find the download button), or you can just use this link to download the zipped file directly.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

New Term: Rigamarole-playing Game (RRPG)


Any role-playing game where the burden of character creation, combat resolution, and other related processes outweigh the enjoyment of exploration, discovery, and decision-making by the characters and players.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Power Outage + Dwindling Daylight = New Illustration

We had a bit of bad weather in Dallas yesterday evening, and the power went out at the house. With daylight dwindling fast, I decided to take the opportunity away from the computer and television to ink this drawing that's been sitting around waiting for just such an occasion. It's not for anything in particular, but that doesn't mean I won't find a place to use it.

Originally, the guy in the bottom right-hand corner was more of a human fighter with a frightened look on his face. In the middle of inking, I decided to change it to a dwarf (on the large side?) with his fist clenched, looking behind the party as if to say... "I don't care if we're only paying you henchmen half the normal rate and you failed your morale roll, you get your ass back here right now and help us fight this thing!"

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Making myself a BX+ DM screen. Want one?

In preparation for DM'ing some upcoming BX sessions, I decided I'd put together a DM screen the way I wanted. For example, I've never like having to navigate the three columns on the PC attack tables for class and level; instead, I've always preferred the AD&D approach of "broken out" tables for each class. So I started working on the panels, intending to print them out on my Epson printer and glue them to cardstock. As I was working on them, I was careful about trying not to infringe on copyright or crack the limits of the OGL... just in case.

What I've ended up with are panels with tables that sort of "meld" things between LL and D&D BX+ (the "plus" means I've gone beyond 14th level on some of the tables, heading into BECMI territory). For example, I've tweaked the monster XP rewards table to my liking (rather than strictly using the others). I've done the same with some of the spell charts, thieves abilities, etc. And I've put all the stuff I want in my screen... like item saving throws, an expanded selection of armor types with AC ratings, etc. In a way, it's almost a stand-alone retro-clone. And right now, I'm planning a 2nd 3-panel screen with secondary but needed stuff like weapon and equipment prices, encumbrance information, henchmen/hireling recruitment, retainer costs, a treasure type table, and movement stuff (e.g., evasion and wilderness terrain effects).

So what's the point of telling you all this, and showing you this beautiful mockup of the first half of my work on the screens? Well, I know there was a Labyrinth Lord screen Kickstarter a while back, but I wanted to see what you thought about something like this "expanded" BX DM screen (that is, two 3-panel pieces) as a Kickstarter. I want to make it quick and simple, and I don't want to get bogged down in stretch goals.

I'm trying to make this pricing work...
a $20 pledge would get the two 3-panel screens (shipping included), with 150 pledges being required.
I know I can make that work for 14pt. UV coated cover stock. But I'm working on some other resources. If possible, I'm going to try to get the pricing to work on HEAVY cardstock (like the old 1e 2-part DM screen).

If I can't get this dog to hunt, then I'll just go back to making my own as originally planned.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Really Old Old-School Artist:
William Thomas Horton

I know it's been a while since I've done one of my Really Old Old-School Artists posts. Partly, I've been really waiting to find some interesting images from someone a little out of the mainstream of widely known artists (like Crane, Rackham, Batten, etc.), and partly I've been hoarding some lesser-known public domain images for a possible new project.

Today's artist, William Thomas Horton, is a bit of a mystery. There's not much out there in the way of biographical information for him; he doesn't even have a Wikipedia listing. So after digging around the interwebs, and trudging through a piss-poor translation of a Japanese site dedicated to his work, here are my key take-aways...

1) Horton was a friend and contemporary of Aubrey Beardsley, having contributed to the The Savoy, a magazine to which Beardsley regularly contributed. Both men were also friends with writer William Butler Yeats.

2) There is no mistaking the influence the men had on each other's style. They both found their way to illustration through architecture/drafting jobs; Beardsley worked for an architectural firm and was convinced by artist Edward Burne-Jones to leave, while Horton had been working on establishing his own drafting firm. The strong architectural influence is obvious in both men's work; other pre-Art-Nouveau artists where much more fluid and less grotesque (a word commonly attributed to Beardsley's work), with heavy blacks and whites with contrasting areas of flat color and thin linework. However, Beardsley leaned toward the perverse and erotic, while Horton gravitated toward the mystic and exotic.

3) In the years after Beardsley's premature death (from TB), Horton dug deeper inside himself for his visual inspiration (the work seems to have become more and more mystical over time). Horton's work was always much more inwardly, dark, and mystical, and it seemed to become more so over time.

4) Horton's work might have been labeled as surrealist except for two facts... Horton was English (by way of birth of Belgium) and Horton died in 1919; Surrealism was a French invention (by the poet Andre Breton) and only came into being by way of the Dada movement's demise in the mid 1920s.

5) Horton had a mental breakdown after the love of his life (writer Amy Audrey Locke) died in 1916 (though they supposedly co-habitated platonically, with no sex life to speak of), then died shortly afterward in 1919 when he was run over by a car. (WOW!)

The examples below come from a couple of sources... issues of The Savoy, and a Horton's A Book of Images. All of the work below predates 1900.

On a side note: I think the images below could work as a set for inspiring an adventure (though the order might need to be slightly rearranged).

Friday, August 9, 2013

My Attempt At Telecanter's Visual Dungeon Challenge

Yesterday, as his 999th post, Telecanter issued the following challenge:
Make a one page dungeon that uses only images
and visual devices. No words. No abbreviations.
I think the challenge is interesting, and it did give me an opportunity to come back from my recent slacking and get some new things posted to this blog. I think the format has both disadvantages and advantages. As for the former: 1) it's hard to do anything too complex for fear of being misunderstood/misinterpreted, 2) #1 seems to drive the content toward familiar clichés, and 3) it feels a little cookie cutter (but maybe that's because I didn't spend too long trying to push the format). As for the latter: 1) it really leaves a lot of things open to interpretation by the DM, and 2) it really does allow flexibility for strength and number of monsters, as well as type and amount of treasure.

I think mine (at bottom of post) is particularly stripped down from Telecanter's intention, since I have absolutely no stats included. But honestly, if you've run enough zombies, rats, bats, and spiders, you can wing it (even if you don't remember exact ACs for example).

What I really miss not having in this format is the detail. Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words, but there are some times when I'd rather have the perfect three or four words, than the other 997 or 997. It was a fun exercise, and something I may re-attempt in the future, but I'm much more of a fan of the single-page format. But maybe that's because it's much easier to do something with only the most minimal of visual needs (like my Tomb of Ludor single-pager).

Thursday, August 8, 2013

New Petty Gods Illustration: Atanuwe

Almost two weeks ago, I responded to a call from Greg at Gorgonmilk for a Petty Gods illustration need. For Atanuwe the nine-legged nag lord, Greg wanted something "tarot-esque." I had so much fun doing the Bartleby illustration, I couldn't pass up this request. I'm actually pretty happy with the way this one turned out,

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thinking about running a game at
GuadaComaCon Aug. 17th. Anybody interested?

I was thinking about running a re-worked playtest of my Kadmos dungeon in a couple of weeks at GuadaComaCon in New Braunfels, TX. It's an intro level adventure (pre-gens, characters start with 0XP) that I would run using BX (though familiarity with those rules is by no means necessary). I like to think of it as a "Tomb of Horrors for Intro-level Characters." It's nowhere nearly as deadly as that, but provides a nice mix of thinking and combat. I'm still shoring up my plans to head down to New Braunfels (or not), but wanted to gauge interest for anybody in driving range. Time of day would probably depend on travel schedules of others; I'm open to going down Friday night and starting early Saturday, and wrapping up in the afternoon so I can drive back to Big D Saturday night, or heading down Saturday morning, starting noon-ish and running late, then driving back to Dallas Sunday.

Did I mention the con is free?

Anybody gonna be there that's want to see their names in the credit block for "Playtesters" in the final book? Plus a free PDF copy when the book is released?

Plastic Figure Estate Sale Haul

Last Friday, I had the occasion to play hooky with my wife an hit a few estate sales. I say "hooky," but she's a teacher home for the summer, and I'm a designer that works from home. We hit an estate sale not too far from our house, and I found boxes of vintage plastic toys in zip bags. I picked through for a few bags that I could re-purpose at the table, and tried to limit myself to about $30. The bags ranged from $2-$6, depending on the contents. Most of them are really out of scale for normal use (for both the newer 1:60/30mm scale, or the older 1:72/25mm scale), but I do have some plans for them (shown with 1:60 scale elf bowman for reference).

I plan on using the bagful of knights as living statues. Not sure what to do with the slightly-politically-incorrect tribesman. The robot might make a good iron golem (and is about to scale). And finally, the cynognathus (the prehistoric thing labeled as such on its tail) is actually remarkably near scale (though a tad on the large size), but will probably end up getting statted here soon. There were a bunch of other animals that are about scale as well (rhino, gorilla, horses), but are pretty standard fare.