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Showing posts from September, 2015

Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 30) - Come into my World

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How do simple hexagonal cells turn into houses, halls, shops, streets, and other living areas?
That's one of the questions that's really been giving me pause throughout this whole project. Since I tend to think visually, the best way to answer this question was through drawing some maps.

Curiously, this brings me back to geomorphs. I'm looking at three phase geomorphs for the majority of the mapping (if you want to know what I mean by "three phase" have a look through the Geomorph series under the Map Tutorials above). The three phases used for the hexagonal geomorphs of the hive are "Wall" (which cannot be passed through), "door" (which can be passed through), and "window" (which is larger than a door, and can be seen through but not passed through). The cell walls of the hive are incredibly sturdy and regularly maintained by the Hiveguard, so there are no options like "damaged wall section". Th survivors of the hive have…

Props for LARP and Cosplay (Part 6 - Final)

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By the time I'm writing this, I've done my workshop at OzComicCon describing props and weapons for Cosplay and LARP. I was pretty nervous in front of a crowd of people I didn't know (except for 3 people in a group of maybe sixty), I asked for questions but few came, so I basically talked for half an hour using a bunch of demo props which were handed around the audience...then I kind of ran out of things to say. But people seemed to enjoy that half hour... Not many people left in the middle of it.

Anyway, here's the final piece with a bit of shading. I'm using a flexible metallic acrylic paint on the piece to coat the whole thing, then I added some black ink to the paint for the purposes of really bringing out the "etchings" in the hammer head.


I've got two colours of this metallic paint, one silver and one bronze, so I decided to make the knotwork bronze so that it would really stand out. The problem is that the bronze paint is duller and darker so it…

Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 29) - Back in Black

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I've really been ignoring the roles of men in this setting, in much the same way that most settings ignore the roles of women. It seems that in virtually every story where there are "Amazons" or systematic upheavals where the men are all but annihilated and the women have the power, we see the society of the story depicted through the eyes of a male protagonist. In these stories, the male protagonist seems to invariably come up with the question "But who does the man's job?", this is considered incredible poignant....the first time. The second time the question is raised (in some other story) it might also make the audience think, but it's basically become a trope in this type of setting.

There are no men's jobs, there are no women's jobs. There are only jobs that you have been socialised into believing are gendered.

In this setting, men are weakened. They have value as sperm donors, women gain prestige for hiving kept one alive beyond a certai…

Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 28) - The Ghost Woman and the Hunter

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I'm thinking about the variations that might occur within the Darkhive setting, and how these variant stories might expand and deepen the setting.

The typical stories I imagine being told in Darkhive are dangerous, mysterious adventures that echo fairy tales. But that doesn't mean these are the only tales that might be suitable to the setting.

There are various ways that conflict may emerge in the setting, and various ways that the characters could be agents with respect to those conflicts. In some ways the characters could trigger conflicts, they could deal with the side effects that arise from conflicts, they could work to resolve conflicts... quite often they might cause new conflicts as they try to solve old ones.

Some examples might derive from...

Settlements don't always trade with one another, in every cluster of settlements there will always be some kind of feud between two of them, maybe some kind of argument over resources or men.

Groups of individuals might wag…

Video Journal

The opportunity to produce some good quality videos has presented itself, probably focused on prop making, but possibly other gaming goodness.

I'm seriously considering this offer.

Props for LARP and Cosplay (Part 5)

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The foam I'll be using for the shaft is the same stuff I've previously used for coreless LARP throwing knives and a metal-cored swordstaff. There are a few consistencies of foam available. If a foam is too hard it doesn't compact when the weapon hits someone, that hurts. If a foam is too soft, it compacts too much and and core within the weapon impacts the target, that also hurts. A moderate foam somewhere between these extremes collapses just enough but not too much. The designation of foam I'm using from Barnes is called S-Foam 50. It mixes in a weight ratio of 100 to 45, so I pull out the kitchen scales and wrap them in a freezer bag to prevent foam getting on them (after all, these scales are normally used to handle food). I turn them on with the mixing cup already on the scale, which means the scales will only measure the chemical, not the cup.
The two parts are measured separately, then the two are mixed together.    

The mixture takes a minute or so to start fo…

Props for LARP and Cosplay (Part 4)

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I'm trying a new material on this project; it's a surface coating called SR92. It dries as a flexible smooth surface, sticks to foam and resin, and functions as a basecoat when a layer of paint is required. In the bottle, the SR92 has a similar consistency to watered down PVA/wood-glue, It dries with a similar feel as well; I'm actually trying to work out the difference between the two...except that the SR92 it roughly three times the price. 

I paint the SR92 on the outside of the yoga block, and will use the same stuff to coat the shaft's hammer. The aim here is to ensure a consistent outer layer of material regardless of what lies within. This will pull the final product together as a single unit rather than looking like assorted bits thrown together. make the final product look more. Coating the shaft will be done a different way. 

I'm moulding the shaft by using a length of PVC plumbing pipe cut lengthwise in half. The inside of the pipe is smooth, so that mea…

A new online store

I'm pretty excited that there will be a new online shopfront for selling gaming pdfs and even physical copies of games (eventually). A few things that make it more exciting are the facts that I haven't had to do it, that it's being organised by an Aussie, and that there seems to be a bit of interest in the project already..perhps even enough to start getting a critical mass happening.

I've submitted my interest, and hopefully in the next fortnight or so I'll have some games up there.

Games On Board

Keep an eye on these guys, hopefully they'll become a new player in the field.

Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 27) - Fighter

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It's been a busy couple of days, and I suspect it will get busier for the rest of the week with prop building for OzComicCon, studying with the Aboriginal Elders, and more university work...but I really want to get this series of worldbuildding posts completed. We're pretty much there, without delving to heavily into the integration of setting and system, but there are a few more things I'd like to address about the way players interact with this world through their characters.

As I've been thinking about this idea...this started popping up in my stream...

It's a bit simplistic on the surface, but then again so many profound things are. It seems like so many of the game designers out there are too busy shouting each other down for being mysogynists, social justice warriors, proGamerGaters, no talent hacks, or anything else that is the "insult of the week". There are many gamers out there, and they all want different things. I think that in addition to th…

Real Magic?

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After three weeks of sharing stories, learning about culture, politely asking about local history, and generally being respectful to the local Aboriginal land council, I've informally been taught all sorts of things.

I've been told how to identify sacred trees, ritual grounds, and burial sites in the local area, and I've been given the specifics on how to "point the bone" at someone, and what this entails.

A bit like "voodoo dolls", it loses some of the significance when you take this knowledge out of context. I'm wondering if this might just be some joke the locals are playing on the "curious gubba"...

(where "gubba" is a derived contraction of 'government', and refers to a "white fella"... but strangely can be a general connotation for white... "How do you want your coffee?" "Two 'n gubba")

...or maybe it's some kind of general knowledge that everyone in the community is expected to kno…

OzComicCon Workshop

Looks like I'm up first on the workshop stage next weekend at OzComicCon.

Here's the link.

That's not intimidating at all.


Props for LARP and Cosplay (Part 3)

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With a few sketches to work from, and a CGI model; it's time to start getting physical. I use three circular templates to draw up a planned designed on the warhammer's head. I would generate a proper celtic knotwork design, but I'm on a tight schedule here so I'm cutting a few corners. the finl product should still look pretty cool though (I hope).

The three circular templates (actually two cups and a plate) are used to make concentric rings at the corners of the head, another pair of concentric rings at the centre, then two more offset to either side. The plat is then used to blend these rings into each other at specific points. This is more instinct and art rather than science. Then I mark where elements of the design weave over and under each other. Identical designs are drawn up on the front and back.


With this laid out, it's time to start carving. A good sharp hobby knife is fine for cutting through the foam of the yoga block being used. The blade is held diag…

Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 26) - Crystallize

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If the Shellbrood are chaos incarnate, the Hiveguard are their polar opposites...but life doesn't exist on a linear continuum, it moves in cycles and spirals, fractally growing in all sorts of directions. Shellbrood seem to exist purely to destroy the world and remake it in an image that exists as a grotesque parody of its former self, they create nightmares and phantasmic dreamscapes that just aren't quite right, sitting somewhere between organic debauchery and rusted mechanistic decay. If anything, the Hiveguard are probably most similar to the 'Modrons' in Planescape.
The Hiveguard repair, restore and cleanse. Scholars tend to believe that they are the original caretakers of the Darkhive, eternally tasked with maintaining the structural integrity of the hive, as well as arcane and esoteric functions that have not been fully understood. They are no less dangerous than the Shellbrood, but for different reasons. Most parts of the hive are dirty and derelict, there sim…

Props for LARP and Cosplay (Part 2)

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When creating an item, it's always good to have a good idea of where you are heading with the design. 
For me, that usually means drawing up a couple of sketches and maybe even developing a few 3d models. If I had a 3d printer, I might consider just printing out these 3d models, but I don't. Besides, 3d printers only seem to print in ABS or other hard relatively brittle plastics, for LARP stuff we need soft foams. Perhaps I could print out a negative of the shape, the use that as a mould to cast foam....but as I said, I don't have a 3d printer, so that's not really an option for me.

Lots of images are good. The more images you develop, the better the idea you have of your end point.

So here's where I'm aiming with the hammer. I know that it won't end up like this, but it's got the right vibe for where I'm aiming.

Props for LARP and Cosplay (Part 1)

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In just over a week, I'll be running a workshop on how to produce props for LARP and cosplay, with a focus on building techniques that are similar, and those that really need to be kept different.

Similarities
Both types of prop need to look good
Both types of prop need to be generally sturdy
Unlike movie props where five different props might mimic five different functions, it would be nice to have mutliple functions in the same prop so you don't have to carry around five copies.

LARP Props
Need to be soft so they don't hurt people in combat
Don't need to be excessively detailed, because those details may get damaged in regular use

Cosplay Props
Need to look good photographically, and might benefit from added detail
Can be stiffer, and might even be better if they are, because they'll be held in single positions while photos are being taken

But I need to actually make some props to demonstrate these concepts. That means I get to put together some posts over the next …

Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 25) - Chrome

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The Shellbrood are a dangerous menace, ever present in the depths of the hive. They are left as a deliberate mystery in the narrative, as something for the explorers of the setting to discover for themselves. A few variants will be offered, conflicting stories for a GM to choose between, or perhaps these stories are all red herrings and the truth lies somewhere else.
The basic idea is that these creatures are "xenomorphs". They exist as something other.
While many of the races that have become stranded on the Darkhive share enough biology and social structure that they have been able to intergrate (more or less successfully) into the wider community. The Shellbrood are something else.
Vaguely psychic, or simply psychic at a different frequency to the humanoids of the hive, the Shellbrood seem to tap into the collective dreams of the inhabitants. They don't communicate directly with the other inhabitants of the hive, but pull the symbolism from sentient minds and struggl…

Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 24) - Fast and Frightening

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We've established some drawbacks and quirks associated with the quasi-mystical powers that characters can achieve...but what are those powers?
There are three general categories of power; psychic, fungal, and mutagenic, and six elemental forces, but these don't really mean anything. 
Two of the first things I always consider when developing a setting are... What powers do I like from other games?....and...which of those powers make sense in this setting?
I've been reading Through the Breach, the Malifaux RPG, and it's got a great idea for magic. Characters might be necromancers, traditional sorcerers, or tinkerers. These different core types of magic provide different basic spell components, but each of the components may be mixed and matched with other to produce fully functioning mystical effects. It's basically the same principles as the magic system I love in Chill 2nd Edition, except that regular folks can be imbued with mystic forces to manifest supernatural…

Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 23) - My Blood

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One of the aims of this setting is to set the stage for a skirmish miniatures game. This kind of game might see conflicts between small teams, each with a single heroine, an offsider or two, and a group of lackeys. Three or four at least, fifteen to twenty at most. Power levels of the figures would roughly go off the power levels discussed in earlier posts in this series, with a roughly exponential increase. Level 1 is a typical person, Level 2 is roughly the equivalent of two people, Level 3 is double that, etc. The leaders of such teams would start at level 3, the offsiders at level 2, and the lackeys at level 1 (any males on the team would generally be a level or two behind their male counterparts). Over the course of half a dozen games, a lucky character might develop their skills well enough to become a match for someone at the next power level, an unlucky character might have dropped a level over the same space of time due to long term injuries and scars sustained by their adve…