Showing posts from September, 2017

#DIY30 #29

29. Goblins are great. Why or why not? Silly question, of course they are. Here's my Goblin Tarot... I wouldn't have created 78 images for just any old race...  

Observing the Observations

This is one of those images that I look at every couple of weeks just to see if people are actually looking at the blog, and to see how much interest there is in the various topics I've covered over the years. The other chart I look at shows which particular posts are getting the most views. In the top 10 posts, seven are from my Map drawing tutorials. What's probably more surprising is the degree to which that number 1 post is ahead of the others, while the differences between posts 2 to 9 only steadily decrease.  When I look at sources of traffic, recent months have seen a lot of Pinterest links, but a few other people's blogs have linked to me. So I'd like to offer a special thankyou to them, in no particular order. Tabletop Diversions - John Yorio's blog which covers a range of topics across the gaming spectrum.  Rab's Geekly Digest - which seems to foctus on miniatures and the warhammer range of games (rpg and otherwise) among other par

#DIY30 #28

28. What's a really cool imaginary place you've made up? Draw a map of it. Don't worry it's just a map. E'rybody can make maps. Oohhh... don't know if I can draw maps, this one could be tricky. Here's a few cool places I've made up over the years. This is the setting I've developed for the LARP I've been running over the past 2 years. This is the tilted world from my white whale project, Walkabout.  One of many steampunk settings I've helped work on over the years...this one for a graphic novel and film script project that fell through. Part of a collaborative world project from over a decade ago. I've got no idea if the setting is still active, but it was fun to work on for a few years.

A Foxes Guide to Relationship Maps (Part 2)

I think that one of the reasons I don't like certain crunchy styles of game is the fact that I like to keep the flow of a story happening. I don't mind looking up a reference if two minutes of page flipping will stop five minutes of arguing later... I don't even mind ten minutes of page flipping during the early stages of a game, before the atmosphere has been established and the intensity of play begins. It might even be feasible to look up books when characters are engaging on shopping expeditions (reflecting their exploration of the local markets and seeing what might be available)...or during those phases of the game when investigation is occurring and the characters have their heads in books or staring into computer screens as they work out how to proceed... But as soon as things get good, I don't like taking a break from the continuity to look up a table with results which get me to roll on a variety of second tables. Especially in the middle of a combat, or a cha

A Foxes Guide to Relationship Maps (Part 1)

A couple of days ago I went through the process I'd follow when creating a relationship map for a game. This was specifically done for the Dispatch Guide for "The Law" which I've been working on. The development of this relationship was done on my electronic whiteboard, with board captures done at a few intervals to explain the process and why certain design decisions were made. After posting a few photographs of the board, it became obvious that a lot of people were familiar with the concept of relationship maps, but quite a number of people either hadn't completely grasped how useful they could be, or how to make them work for their own games. One of the more interesting comments repeated by a few people linked back to the idea of "I have too many NPCs in my games, my relationship maps would be too complicated, therefore I don't bother with them." Honestly, if you have that many NPCs in your games, how do you keep track of them? If you d

#DIY30 #27

27. So what's with that overly-elaborate locked box? Oh, that one?  For generations, the Guild of Locksmiths has had a final test that allows an apprentice to attain the rank of journeyman. It looks simple enough, an apprentice just needs to open the elaborate box, and they pass the test. There's a slight catch though, open it incorrectly and one of the many mystic wards will activate... roll a d6 to see what happens. The box instantly becomes red hot, the apprentice takes minor damage, but any lockpicking tools used are instantly melted and rendered useless. The box crackles with St Elmo's Fire, the apprentice is electrocuted for minor damage, and is stunned for a few minutes. The box vanishes, along with any lockpicking tools touching it... it appears again after d6 hours. The box seeps a greenish mist through it's cracks, there is a chance that the apprentice breathes it in and passes out for d6 minutes, then suffers a disadvantage to anything in

#DIY30 #26

26. Your childhood pet is now a monster. How is it going to kill me?  I never really had a childhood pet. Does my lack of a pet kill you with it's oblivion to the material universe? Or do I go with the first pet I got as an adult? Ōkami is certainly more dynamic than a void of nothingness. But in this picture it looks like the same sense of nihilism will completely obliterate anything it touches.

#DIY30 #25

25. The last thing you drank is a potion. What are it's effects? A potion of enhanced alertness and motivation. Poured into the lips of a recently deceased corpse, this restores them to life for a single day. The following day another draught of the potion will be required, but as long as the potion continues to be taken orally the subject may remain alive indefinitely. Drunk by a living person, this potion enhances speed and alertness for a half hour. Of course the problem is that after that half hour there is a chance that fatigue may set in.

No revision where revision is unnecessary

I was about to revise my game "Tales", but I realised that I had done this last year. The post for the revision can be found here. My intention was to bring the Tales idea into line with what I've been working on for " The Law ", perhaps shifting the Tales brand to encompass each of the subsettings that I'm hoping to in orporate into the Urban Megalopolis/Sprawl (I can't flat out call the setting "The Sprawl" be ause there's another game already doing well under that name...despite the number of people who tread on my toes by calling their games "FUBAR"...but that's another rant entirely). I guess the whole point of this post is that I'm considering a simple, open source system reference document for The Law and it's associated game lines. This means I've been pulling apart the elements of the game based on the play sessions I've run and the feedback I've received from other people. This system refere

#DIY30 #24

24. If the object closest to your left hand right now was a magic item in your campaign, what would it do? Calling her an object is a bit harsh... but the true question here is "what wouldn't Pirate Rosalie do?" She is already an escape artist extraordinaire, a master climber, a stealthy ninja and achilles tendon assassin. Adding magic to her repertoire would probably make her like a Blink-dog, capable of teleporting herself even more quickly than she does already...actually there are certain dys when I'm sure she already has this power. Perhaps she'd talk, but she's pretty stubborn and ADHD... ther's a good chance she wouldn't bother talking to "the boring giants" anyway. So maybe she's already got that power too.

Experiment Success

Today I tried a variant in my LARP running style...Basically running the LARP as a live action tabletop session. Normally I'd set up an ecosystem of play, and let the players make deals with one another, or throw twists into the session to keep everyone on their toes; but this time I basically split the group into two halves, with one group running PCs who ran through a linear quest of 8 scenes while the other half played NPCs for them... then after lunch switched everyone around. For a group of a dozen players, this worked well and I'll certainly do it again. I don't think the game should regularly shift to this format, but for one off special events, it makes a nice change of pace.

#DIY30 #23

23. How should gods work in a game? This really depends on what the game is trying to say. Based on the way the question is worded, it's safe to assume we aren't discussing a monotheistic setting. The presence of clerics, paladins, divine and infernal magic users also plays a part in how gods might work in a game. I always liked the idea of gods who gain power from the belief of their followers...the more followers, the more power the god has...but the more followers a god has, the more an individual follower needs to do in order to gain their deity's notice. So, let's say every doubling of follwers increases a god's power level by a degree. 1 follower = lvl 1 2 followers = lvl 2 4 followers = lvl 3 8 followers = lvl 4 ... 1024 followers = lvl 11 2048 followers = lvl 12 .... Etc. Gods form pantheons because a follower's belief in a pantheon counts as a half measure for all allied deities. They fight within pantheons for the biggest share o

#DIY30 #22

22. Describe Milk Demons for me. What do they do, what are their names, what do they taste like?   Milk Demons are a subclass of imps. Where imps are typically affiliated with the major elements, Milk Demons are one of the many impling forms related to non-elemental forms of matter. In most cases, Milk Demons are named for the effects they apply to milk when they die immersed in dairy. So there's Yoghurt, Edam, Gouda, and Haloumi, among others. If it weren't for Milk Demons, these dairy byproducts would not be possible, which is a carefully guarded secret among dairy farmers across the world. It is rumoured that there are obscure forms of Milk Demons which turn into the most exquisite desserts if they are boiled alive in milk, but any truth to that rumour has never been confirmed.

#DIY30 #21

21. Most unexpected spell that helped you get past the walls of the Fortress of See. The fireballs were definitely useful as we approached the fortress and confronted the Guardians of the Sacred City, the levitation spells would have been useful to get over the walls but the nega-psychoc barriers prevented almost every form of magic from working. The only spell that did seem to work was that odd little Chance Minutiae spell that Devali concocted a few years ago. We left it running for a few hours just beside the wall, returning to the spot only to find that the thaumivorous nature of the spell actually ate away chunks of the wall, leaving enough opening for us to crawl through the wall and into the fortress.

#DIY30 #20

20. Describe a mechanic you would put into your Science Fiction Heartbreaker.  Kaylee. Oh, maybe you mean a game mechanism... There are a lot of ideas that have already been incorporated into science fiction games over the years. But most of them are generally ignored during the course of I guess the question is what I'd make sure appeared in a heartbreaker, and what the definition of a heartbreaker is. One of the many definitions of a heartbreaker is the kind of game that basically replicates an existing game, but renames a variety of elements and adds one or two specific twists to the game mechanisms to claim the game as "original". The whole of the OSR is basically heartbreakers. What are we trying to emulate with this game? What type of science fiction? If we have multiple races, I'd want to make sure they were alien and exotic to each other. Roleplaying to me is about getting into alternate thought patterns to explore ideas outside your re

#DIY30 #19

19. What single change would you make to a popular D&D setting and why? My gut reaction to this one is to change the mechanisms of play rather than change the settings. I want to change the way spell slots work, and simply run with a magic energy pool that is drained by casting spells and recharged according to your chosen style of magical pursuit... but that's not what the question is asking. My second rection is to change any one (or more) of the settings, and completely remove humans from it. I like what Dark Sun did to elves in the setting, I love the diversity of new races available in Planescape, I never really got into Eberron (because I had a falling out with the regular gaming group that I was a part of at the time when it was big, and never really got into a new regular group until it had somewhat subsided), but I'd love to have pushed any of these settings the next step further...making them a bit more exotic by simply pulling out the humans...either by a ma

#DIY30 #18

18. The wizard has researched a new spell named “Chance Minutia.” What does the spell do? Chance Minutiae is the micro-transaction bitcoin engine of the magic world. Most wizards don't notice it, it just ticks away in the background s, gathering momentum slowly while magical effects unfold around it. It doe sn't seem to do anything useful at all to those capable of sensing magic (or those who cast detect magic around it), and for that reason it's generally ignored. Eve ry time a magical effect fails in the vicinity of the spell, the magic energy is still released... this spell simply absorbs a tiny a ount of the excess magic energy and funnels it to a storage cell amulet. The more common effect of the spell (and the effect for which i t was named) relies on those magics that manipulate probability in it's vicinity. Every time a magical effect distorts probability (by increasing or decreasing a die result by a minor amount), this spell absorbs some of the probabil

Instant Kill

In D&D, once you get past level 3 or so, it gets really hard to be killed with a single hit, beyond level 5 or so (and certainly beyond level 10) it's pretty much impossible. Characters reach a point where the number of hit points to take them down just can't really be dealt by an opponent in a single blow. Some people like this, some people don't and there are games written to specifically avoid this concept. I guess it all depends what you want a game to be about...if you want consistency in story and don't want random whim taking out your characters, it makes sense to have a system in place where characters can't die suddenly, without a moment's notice. If you want dangerous and gritty, then you probably don't want a system where characters can take full strength hits from a two-handed sword and just walk away. I like the way the new edition of Warhammer 40k has gone back to the idea where anyone could theoretically take down anyone else, a compar

#DIY30 #17

17. What political situation existed 500 years ago, and how does its fall affect the world of today? We should specify here that the question doesn't state that the political situation stopped working 500 years could have been strong 500 years ago, and just as strong one year ago, only recently falling and causing an impact politically. But while that plays with the wording of the question, it probably isn't fair to the spirit of the question.  Let's look at something that was strong 500 years ago, but fell during the century after that point. This would be a political situation that may have kept someing in check for centuries, maybe even millennia, but once the political situation had been eliminated, problems gradually crept into the world leading to issues that we now face.  Words are power, but energy is constant in the universe. So perhaps it is better to say that words are a specific means by which power and energy can be controlled.  While the la


Next month's posts will be an image a day for Inktober, much like I did a few years ago when I fleshed out the Darkhive setting. I know I did this another year too...I think it was actually last year, but I didn't quite finish. In that attempt I combined the results from a few different lists to give me my prompts.  This time I'll just be running with the core words under an overarching theme of 🦊 foxes, or Vulpinoids. The race I started detailing in various game systems over 30 years ago... it's been too long since I've visited them. 

#DIY30 #16

16. Make an equipment list for a post apoc setting, using only things in 1 room of your home. Garage and kitchen are easy mode. If kitchen and garage are easy mode, then my art studio is super easy mode.Even if we're going with items that aren't powered by mains electricity. Assorted tapes (duct tape, masking tape, electrical tape, sticky tape, double sided tape, plumbing tape) Assorted knives (scalpels, snap-off blades, 3 different swiss army knives, guillotine) Glues (two dozen tubes of super glue, a litre or so of white PVA/woodworking glue, an unopened bliste pack of Epoxy resin, a dozen glue sticks) Lights (two overhead battery powered lights, one solar charged lantern, a battery powered lit magnifying glass) Which brings me to magnifying glasses (in addition to the one mentioned, two on stands, and one hand held) Notepads and journals (too many to count) Two paper maps of local area A dozen recyclable shopping bags Assorted wire in various guages (an

#DIY30 #15

15. Write a pitch for how you would turn a shitty game into a good game.   "World of Synnibarr with matches." Bear with me here. World of Synnibarr has been mentioned a few times here on the blog. It's an over-the-top gonzo extravaganza 473 pages long, so it works perfectly for this theory. Now imagine the Neverending Story as a game, where the Nothing is gradually consuming the world, and you are playing in a duing age where dreams are being obliterated. Players make characters normally at the start of play, but after that point, each player rolls d600 (with a d6 determining the hundreds, then a pair of d10s for the tens and units). They tear that page out of the book and burn it. Any monsters or character types on those pages are no longer available to the game. Any rules that might have been on those pages are no longer applicable to the game, any other rules which refer to rules on those pages have a chance of simply not working...flip a coin. If that page is

#DIY30 #14

14. Roll a D20 and count down that many photos on That's your prompt. Sorry, just not working for me. I've tried six times the post the pictire I got as a part of the post... but it just won't connect. Even when I go through n the back end, download the picture that my computer, then try to re-upload it. I might revisit this one later.

#DIY30 #13

13. Three sports that wizards play.  Quidditch... are you kidding me? Quidditch is like that bastardised cross between lacrosse and softball that gets played by three schools in the whole world. They call it a "world cup" when all three schools compete because there's no one else on the planet who plays it.  But it all depends on your definition of "Wizard". In some circles, wizards are a very specific category of those who use magic, they derive their powers from theory and textbooks, sometimes finding magic in the words that they use to define reality. In other circles, the term wizard could be used as a catch-all term to describe any male capable of weaving magic in some way (as compared to its feminine counterpart, witch... but sometimes the terms wizard and witch are used even more loosely, avoiding gender binaries altogether). In some parts of the deep south of the USA, a wizard might be denoted by wearing white cloak and hood, concealing their id

#DIY30 #12

12. What is there to do when stationed on an interstellar lighthouse? Interstellar lighthouses became a vital element of the navigation grid during the Third Imperium, when trans-light travel required ships plunging into hyperspace, where gravity wells left faint echoes of themselves, but regular tachyon bursts could be easily detected between the chaotic null-waves of the hyperspace warp. Quantum leviathans would hurtle through hyperspace piercing through lightyears of distance in minutes... but dropping out of hyperspace a second to early or late might leave such a vessel stranded in space for months at sublight speeds to reassume their correct destination. Interstellar lighthouses were placed to ensure accuracy of placement when ships dropped out of hyperspace, carefully triangulated vectors would be drawn from their positioning. Thus it was of utmost importance that the lighthouses didn't drift from their designated coordinates by more than a few thousand miles.  R

Images from the Sprawl (Part 5)

This set of additional images for the series sees a few more males added into the mix, some more surrealism and strangeness, and a shot revisiting one of our earlier ladies.  I'm not sure where we'll be heading next with the series... Anyone got any ideas?

#DIY30 #11

11. Why is the stone circle on the hill top broken? Who says it's broken? It has been like that for as long as anyone can remember. There are even some who say that it was built in it's current state. So it's not so much that the stone circle is broken, but more accurate to say that it was never complete. What might the stone circle have done if it had been completed? A few scholars have offered suggestions. (Roll a d6 to determine which of these is real). 1. The stone circle when completed would habe been an accurate sundial and calendar. 2. The stone circle would have been configured in such a way to summon a monstrous creature from the nether realm, during a particular celestial alignment... but it wasn't finished in time. Coincidentally, the same celestial alignment is due to occur some time in the mear future. 3. The stone circle marks the graves of a forgotten family of decadent and bloodthirsty nobles. One stone per noble. The family were overthown by

#DIY30 #10

10. What is beyond the Wall? (So help me, any of you who makes some lazy-ass Game of Thrones reference is kicked out of the OSR.) Assuming that the Wall you are referring to is the known landmark in the Astral Plane, it is a barrier between the waking and dreaming worlds. On one side of this wall of light are the astral projections and daydreaming souls of those who are still awake, while on the other side of the wall are the dreamers and comatose sojourners desperately searching for meaning in a chaotic and ever-changing landscape. Crossing the wall is relatively easy but takes a conscious effort.  Perhaps more important as a question is, what is the wall? Or even, what is within the wall?  The wall itself is composed of an ephemeral protoplasm known variously as "dreamstuff", "Arcadium", or one of a hundred other names. Every person who travels through the wall leaves a fragment of their soul in the wall, and finds it replaced by the material of

Images from the Sprawl (Part 4)

Life has been busy over the last few weeks, with assignments and starting a new round of pre-service teaching as I approach the end of my university degree, and all those daily blog questionnaires. Having a really bad case of the flu hasn't helped either. I've still managed to get a few extra images done, one every day or two. If you've been regularly reading the blog or following me of various social media platfoms, you may have seen some of these images before. I'm not sure which ones (if any) I've posted before...but this batch brings the images up to date.