The comments and views expressed here do not reflect those of my employer, my doctor, my bookie, or anyone really, including myself.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Map versus Map

I'm usually the mapper in our gaming group. I like drawing maps, I like knowing where we are relative to where we were, and no one else seems to have the slightest interest in doing it. A couple of the other folks seem to be able to keep at least a vague idea of the layout in their heads, but not me. I gotta have it in front of me.

The thing is, I'm really not very good at it. I don't use graph paper (the DM doesn't usually give exact measurements of rooms anyway, usually just "large" or "small"), I tend to get my East and my West mixed up for some reason, and OK, I'll admit it, sometimes my attention wanders a bit during room descriptions. It's not that my head isn't in the game, it's just that if an interesting feature gets mentioned it tends to draw my focus towards it. For example, if the DM says "There is a large altar with a demon head carved into it," my mind immediately starts running through all the things it might be for and what I want to do with it, and I don't really hear anything he says after that.

So just for fun, I've got here a few of the maps I drew while we were running through the 5th edition starter set. I've found the actual maps from the adventure on the internet for comparison, and wow, they do not make me look good.

The published Cragmaw Hideout

My Cragmaw Hideout

Published Cragmaw Castle

My Cragmaw Castle

Published Redbrand Hideout

My Redbrand Hideout
Now, we didn't explore the whole Cragmaw Castle, we found what we needed pretty quickly and then got out. If the notes on the maps seem cryptic, don't worry; I can't remember what I was trying to say either.

You may also note that I still doodle that stupid goblin after all these years. I know what you're thinking, and I don't care. He's my pal.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Somebody say back to D&D?

That's right. I did.
A dwarf fighter may not be very inspired, but I happen to like hitting things while speaking in a bad Scottish accent.

What I dislike is drawing chain-mail, but you can probably already see that.

Monday, November 30, 2015

It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.

Busy couple of months. Went to London; many great memories and pictures, but the one I'd like to draw your attention to is this:

Now THAT is a dynamic image. He didn't mind the gap and he's paying for it.

Also, took part in National Novel Writing Month this year. This is what you get when you reach your goal:

So, hooray for me!

So, that basically took care of my October and November. In addition, my Shadowrun character was this:

But we're done playing that for now. Back to the D&D!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Vargouille, Keepin' It Real

I think sometimes intelligent malevolence isn't as scary as mindless hunger. Don't get me wrong, a Big Bad with soulless and inhuman genius can be great, but for his or her hordes of minions it's more fun to have an army of creatures that just want to kill and consume you.There's no way to reason with them because they have no reason, this is the thing they were bred for and they're really good at it. In the right situation piranhas will be more terrifying than, say, ninjas.

In most depictions of varguoilles, they tend to look, if not exactly smart, at least cognizant enough to know they're evil. They seem to be getting a certain level of enjoyment out of their villainy. But what if they were basically the same thing, with the head and the tentacles and wings, but now they look like they're not so much thinking as obeying a inscrutable set of instincts impelling them to horrible acts? Like they have maybe a dim realization that their very existence is a kind of torture, but they don't have the ability to properly comprehend it and so fall back upon obeying only their terrible appetites?

Bit creepier.

Drawing's a bit rough, but headed in the right direction, I think.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The God Maker

If you or someone you love has ever played a Cleric or a Paladin, then you know the moment: the time when you must Choose Your God. You can try to make one up out of thin air, or you can choose one from the setting. Unless you already have something in mind thin air can be tough, while the setting ones tend to be straightforward but not too compelling. "Minolalsa, Goddess of nature. Her symbol is a Tree. Borkorud, God of War. His symbol is a sword," and so forth. Gods like that are fine, of course, but tend to be forgettable; I've played many a game where the god barely comes up, and the cleric has to check his sheet to even remember what he's supposed to be worshiping. You can always go for the "I worship an ideal" option, but for my money if you're going to be running around quaffing mysterious potions and battling dragons and giants, you might as well go the whole nine yards and have the name of an incredibly powerful yet fickle being you can yell when things get crazy.

So with all that in mind, here's a God Maker table. It's a d20 four times,(one each for A, B, C, D) and by the end I'm hoping you'll have a deity whose name you'll be proud to invoke while bashing in someone's head with a mace. May also be useful for DM's who don't feel like coming up with a whole pantheon out of nowhere. The table will be followed by my long winded explanation.
 All you need now is an impressive sounding name, and you should have "(Name) the (A), god of (B) and (C), whose followers wield the symbol of the (D)"

Now, the first thing you may notice is your god makes no sense.

That's OK, that's a good thing. Here, lemme introduce you to this fellow over here. His name is Apollo. He's the god of the Sun and Prophecy, and his symbol is a bow and arrows. This other fella, Poseidon, is the god of the ocean and horses, and his symbol is a fork. Thor over here is a weather god, his symbol is a hammer, and this Son of a Hebrew desert god has a Roman method of execution for his symbol.
Point is, making sense is not something actual religions strive for, at least not without the context of the stories involved. Actual religions are built up over time, with gods accruing additional "domains", names, and stories as the culture changes. In addition, they spread and move into other cultures, assimilating other gods as they go. Obviously one table isn't going to give you all this texture, so the idea is to make a jumping off point to get some texture by working backwards. It'll give him a title, a natural phenomenon, a cultural aspect, and a symbol.

For example, you roll the dice, you get Borkorud the Confined, god of Insects and Battle. His symbol is the Jug.

Why is he confined? Dunno. Maybe he was held prisoner by some other gods at some point in his history. Maybe he's an ascetic who confines himself to single spot due to some oath. Insects and Battle? Maybe it's a reference to flies and maggots on the corpses of a battle field, maybe it's the warrior-like nature of ants and wasps, or maybe he started out as the god of a very warlike tribe whose totem was a bee or something. It could just as easily have happened by accident, one tribe with a bee god unites with a tribe with a war god. The Jug? Maybe it's the carved out skull of an enemy god which he uses to drink the blood of the slain. Maybe there's a story where he had to lay siege to a fortress to retrieve a Jug with magical properties. Maybe he just likes to get drunk.

Basically, you roll the dice a few times, and then you try to make sense of it by contextualizing it. Now you've got a god with a bit of personality and the germs of a mythology. If you're making a few gods you can either re-roll repeats or scratch'em off and make up your own as you use them. The only danger is if you roll something that DOES make sense. Borkorud the Enraged, god of Flame and Battle with the symbol of the sword? Dude, that's BORING.

Whoops, almost forgot about alignment there. Tell you what; make him whatever alignment you want, preferably fairly close to the cleric worshiping him. Any seeming incongruities will just add more texture. Got an evil Sun god? He's the god to the drought, the Sun burning crops and drying up wells. Got a good Murder god? She's the god of retribution, killing those whom justice and vengeance demands.

See you all in church!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Words On Water

Cindy asked me to do a thing for a group she's a part of called...well, you can figure out what it's called. It's kind of a writer's group/bookclub, with readings and sometimes music...I''m gonna call it "creative people getting together to be creative and talk about creativity." This drawing here needs a bit more work, I think. You get the general idea, though.

If you 'd like to know more about 'em, here's the Facebook

Here's Cindy singing the theme song she wrote at a book launch they hosted (They don't always meet on a boat. That was special for the launch):

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Development is Fun

 Had a request from Glenn and Elizabeth at Kid's Playhouse Productions to do a drawing for their Irish Festival Play, "The Raven of Éirean Mhór". My daughter is in the play and they asked if the parents could do some volunteering. 
I said, "I can draw some stuff. And lift some stuff." I said this because drawing and lifting are two of the things I can do. Another thing I can do is put stuff down again. They asked if I could draw them a picture for the poster, and I said "Sure." 
I'll probably do some lifting and putting things down later on.

I did some thumbnails to explore some ideas. 

They told me the play is about a girl who is in mourning, and that she encounters a raven who acts as a kind of spirit guide.

They mentioned they were looking for a feeling of wildness. There were going to be fairies, the perilous folktale kind as opposed to the more civilized Victorian-Disney type.

They also said that they were were looking for "Darkness and Light".

Trees and woods were also going to figure prominently.

All those pencil ones I did later. The first thing I scratched out was this one with a ballpoint on the notepad by the phone while we were discussing it. Turns out it was the one they wanted to go with. Sometimes first instincts are best, I suppose. All they requested was to have the girl's back to the viewer, and make the raven more raven-y (as he does look a bit eagle-y here). They clarified that the raven should be big and impressive and dangerous; we're to be uncertain whether he's a friend or not.

I do little idea thumbnails on whatever I can find all the time, but I usually don't show them around. They were cool with this though, scotch tape and all, so I finished it up.

Made a coherent drawing with actual paper and pencils.

Coloured it up, Bob's your uncle. Kept it simple for reduction and reproduction purposes.

You may notice all these are labelled "Erinmoor". This is because I heard the name before I saw it written down.

Past my bedtime now. Prose losing it's watchimicallit. Eloquence. Yer on yer own.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Small Sketch and Short Verse

A moment now to to tarry here
And carry here
A very queer
and puzzling, troubling wary fear
Of everything I've done

I'll laugh and shed a merry tear
To parry sneers
and bury here
The bland and ordinary cheers
For all the fights I've won

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Fun Link

Generate a a monster, draw a picture:

Have Fun!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Gonna Paint This.

Yeah, sure you are.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Blith

In ancient days forgotten now
Times drowned in seas of years
The Blith set out 'cross orange skies
O'er shadowed plain and mere

Betwixt the tow'r of Ult-ut-Dhrag
And the stones of Iakel's glyphs
Would skirl with panicked yammerings
The bloated, fetid Blith

Oh why such noise, thou noisome beast?
Why stumble through the air?
Why beckon with thy ill-shaped limbs
Or gaze with mindless stare?

Dost thou mourn those other brutes
Dim shapes of vague days past?
Or dost thou howl victorious
Because thou art the last?

Ne'er would the Blith its end reveal
Merely coil, twist, and sag
Past the stone of Iakel's glyphs
To the tow'r of Ult-ut-Dhrag