Friday, May 31, 2013

Free Arthur Rackham Vector Art - Collection 1

Yep. No catch. Just a collection of small PD works from Arthur Rackham, converted into vector format (by yours truly) so they can be scaled to any size and remain clean! Feel free to pass along to others. When possible, credit Arthur Rackham (but there is no need to credit me; I didn't bring much to this party). Download Arthur Rackham Spot Art Collection 1 in any or all of the following formats by clicking on the format name:

ARSPC1 in Adobe Illustrator Format (6 megs; zipped)
This file is saved in an older format (so you can open it as far back as CS2); you'll need Illustrator to open this directly, but it does have a PDF wrapper so you can open it in Photoshop and choose your resolution when you do. BTW, it's in B&W only, so if you open it in Photoshop, just choose grayscale (so the end file is smaller and easier to work with). This is actually the most versatile format of all the saves, but it's also 6 megs and not everyone has Illustrator.

ARSPC1 in Editable PDF Format (1 meg; not zipped)
As a PDF, you can: 1) place it directly into a layout program (like InDesign) and crop to the part you want, 2) open it in Illustrator and cut/paste the parts you want, or 3) rasterize it into Photoshop as described above. This is almost as versatile as the pure Illustrator format, but sometimes there are issues with opening PDFs in Illustrator when the vectors are complicated (it tends to "chop" more complex images into "smaller bits").

ARSPC1 in SVG Format (1 meg; zipped)
This is the best version to download if you have Illustrator (because it's smaller, and fully editable), but Photoshop does not know what to do with an SVG, so you'll have absolutely no luck with the file on that end.

And yes... the fact that this is titled "Collection 1" does mean I'm planning on future installments.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Oe/1e/BX Monster: Gargantuan Rat

Gargantuan rats are monstrous versions of the normal and giant varieties. Measuring anyway from 20-30 feet long, these beasts are sickly gray in color and emit a particularly pungent musky smell. They are not natural tunnelers, though they are moderately capable swimmers. Gargantuan rats also suffer a similar fear of fire as smaller varieties, but will simply keep a distance from it (usually of about 60'), rather than flee.

Unlike the more common rat varieties, gargantuan rats have a natural aversion to the presence of undead, and tend to stay away from areas where undead are present. Therefore, there are rarely found in the command of vampires. However, they are particularly loyal to wererats, and gain a +1 bonus to their morale in the presence one.

The bite of a gargantuan rat is laden with disease, and any creature suffering its bite must save vs. poison; if the saving throw fails, there is a 1-in-6 chance the afflicted character will become bedridden immediately (unable to adventure), and die in 1-6 days (unless cured); otherwise (5-in-6 chance), the afflicted character will become bedridden immediately and remain so for a period of 3-12 weeks (or until cured).

Gargantuan Black Rats: This variety of gargantuan rat is jet black in color and is particularly aggressive. Black gargantuan rats gain a +1 bonus on all “to hit” rolls and to their morale, deal an additional 1 point of damage on each attack (each of its 2 claws do 2-5 pts. each, and its bite does 3-9 pts. damage), and have 4 additional hit points (HD:4+4). Furthermore, all saving throws against a black gargantuan rat’s bite incur a -1 penalty on the roll.

MOVE: 12"//6"
% IN LAIR: 10%
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-4/1-4/2-8
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

MOVE: 120'//60'
ATTACKS: 2 claws/1 bite
DAMAGE: 1-4/1-4/2-8 + disease
SAVE AS: Fighter: 2

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Valley of the Five Fires: Update and "Ad" Preview

To cut to the chase, I made the final revisions/updates The Valley of the Five Fires on Friday. The major item was converting some of the clerics to the new steppe shaman class; oddly enough, most of the spells stayed the same, and only the weapons and armor had to change. Speaking of armor... I tell you what, that AC Cheat Sheet sure as hell made it a snap to check (and revise) the armor information for all the NPCs, and there are 34 of them! Now the PDF is in Welbo's hands for a proof review, and then I need to give it another read, and it should be ready to release.

Coinciding with that release, I'll be offering a free PDF of the shaman class through RPGNow. And the final page of that PDF will be a shameless bit of self-promotion for the module itself. For the ad, I really wanted something that felt like it came out of the pages of an old Dragon Magazine, so I opted for B&W in lieu of any color. Below is where I ended up; I think it captures the spirit of those old ads pretty well. (BTW, the "blurry part" is the print/PDF pricing/availability; I'm still working that out, and didn't want to commit to anything via this post.)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Another Petty Gods Illustration

This is a preview of another of my contributions to the Expanded Petty Gods (XPG) project. I have to admit, I sort of "ripped myself off" on this one. Also, I had a false start on the inking on this one (see bottom image); I was trying to do an homage to Trampier's minotaur illustration from Holmes Blue, but it just wasn't working. So I attacked it again, but in my style. It came out much more "lively." And I guess it doesn't hurt that I gave him some extra fat rolls and some stretch marks. And flies.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Free PDF Download: Oe/BX/1e Armor Class Cheat Sheet

I've been working on the final tweaks to The Valley of the Five Fires, which includes double-checking every NPC armor class in the book for accuracy; worse yet, I put them in a "triple" format which eliminates the DM from having to convert ACs from Oe to BX to 1e! As if that was a pain in the ass enough, I've included some non-standard armor types. What does all this mean? It means checking the AC ratings for the various types of armor... against three rules editions... with the dexterity modifications! To keep my sanity, I ended up having to make myself a cheat sheet. Now I can quickly cross-index the NPC's armor and DEX by rules edition and... BAM! Next! I did have to take a few liberties with the armor types that aren't standard in Oe/BX (and had to truncate the 1e armor types for the "shorter" Oe/BX scale).

I didn't know if anyone would be interested in something like this, but here it it...

Click here to download this free PDF of the
Early Edition Armor Class Cheat Sheetfrom MediaFire.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Using Nostradamus Predictions as Adventure Seeds

While flipping channels yesterday, I stumbled across yet another show about Nostradamus's predictions, and it struck me that Nostradamus quatrains could make cool little adventure seeds. Not to mention they sound cool enough for the words of the predictions themselves to be incorporated into the game world.

Take, for example, the passage I clicked haphazardly from the Nostradamus Quatrain Browser:
Before the Empire changes
a very wonderful event will take place.
The field moved, the pillar of porphyry
put in place, changed on the gnarled rock

- Century I Quatrain 43
Okay. I had to look up porphyry, but that's half the fun of a Nostradamus quatrain, isn't it? Looking stuff up? From Wikipedia:
Porphyry is a variety of igneous rock consisting of large-grained crystals, such as feldspar or quartz, dispersed in a fine-grained feldspathic matrix or groundmass. The larger crystals are called phenocrysts. In its non-geologic, traditional use, the term "porphyry" refers to the purple-red form of this stone, valued for its appearance.

The term "porphyry" is from Greek and means "purple". Purple was the color of royalty, and the "Imperial Porphyry" was a deep purple igneous rock with large crystals of plagioclase. This rock was prized for various monuments and building projects in Imperial Rome and later.
So we have a wonderful event... the raising of a monument or the construction of a building, royal in nature, and it has been placed on what was a gnarled rock.

Now we just have to take this event that has happened and find our inciting incident. (Any of you who've ever dabbled in screenwriting know that the story doesn't really get started until the inciting incident). We could either work out from the event without help from Nostradamus, or poke around again until something makes sense. Like...
The fertile, spacious Ausonian plain
Will produce so many gadflies and locusts,
The solar brightness will become clouded,
All devoured, great plague to come from them.

- Century IV Quatrain 48
Okay. So by the quatrains above, and with a little embellishment, and some help from Donjon's Fantasy Name Generator, the adventure seed we've generated looks something like this...
An obelisk honoring King Awfrith was erected at the edge of the Ausonian plains in honor of his victory over the tribes of the Arman. The festivities had barely begun the sky grew black with gadflies and locusts, and so began the plague on the peoples of Baltha. Awfrith's son Waltin, recent heir to the throne, is at his wits' end. He's seeking a group of adventurers to investigate the blah, blah, blah... evil wizard... blah, blah, blah... towering citadel... blah, blah, blah... reward... blah, blah, blah...
Or you could just use the d30 Adventure Seed Generator.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Separated at Birth - BX/Duck Dynasty Edition

Okay, I know I've done several Separated at Birth posts before, but I think this may be my most inspired one yet! I've been wanting to do another one for a while, but just haven't had any luck thinking of a topic. Until last night... I was looking through the BX red and blue books trying to figure out who I thought some of the illustrations looked like, and I started noticing how many of the characters had beards. I could hear Duck Dynasty on the TV in the other room, and I though, "I gotta work with what I got. It's called improv-isavation."

The dwarf from the character section of Moldvay Red, and Duck Commandor CEO Willie Robertson.

The frost giant from the monster section of Cook Blue, and head of manufacturing Jase Robertson.

The alignment guy from Moldvay Red, and family patriarch Phil Robertson.

The female halfling from the character section of Cook Blue, and family matriarch Miss Kay. (Check out how similar the hair and the eyebrows are!)

The female elf from the same picture as the dwarf in the character section of Moldvay Red, and Willie's wife Korie.

The wizard from the title page of Moldvay Red, and little-seen brother Jep Robertson.

And finally, Erol Otus's wizard from the cover of Cook Blue, and good ol' Si!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Reference to Dark ("Drow") Elves Dating Back to 1884

"The three 'D Series' modules...owe little, if anything, to fiction. Drow are mentioned in Keightley’s THE FAIRY MYTHOLOGY, as I recall (it might have been THE SECRET COMMONWEALTH—neither book is before me, and it is not all that important anyway), and as Dark Elves of evil nature, they served as an ideal basis for the creation of a unique new mythos designed especially for AD&D. The roles the various drow are designed to play in the series are commensurate with those of prospective player characters. In fact, the race could be used for player characters, providing that appropriate penalties were levied when a drow or half-drow was in the daylight world."
-Gary Gygax
, "Books Are Books, and Games Are Games, and Never the Twain...", Dragon #31

Below, is page 64 from the 1884 edition of Thomas Keightley's
The Fairy Mythology: Illustrative of the Romance and Superstition of Various Countries.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Monster of the Week: Leogryph

Leogryphs appear with the body of a lion, the wings of an eagle, and two eagle heads. They most often make their nests in the highest peaks of the tallest mountains where they are sometimes used as protectors for special magic artifacts or articles of power. Legend holds that leogryphs were a creation of Tiamat but these dangerous beasts are ironically friendly, except in the presence of any item entrusted to them, in which case they become fiercely protective.

The dangerous but friendly duality in the leogryph's nature is mirrored in its breath weapons, with one of the heads able to breathe a cone of fire, and the other head able to breathe a cone of frost (cold). Each of these cones measures 30' long and 10' wide, may be used up to 5 times per day, and does 2d6 damage (on a failed saving throw vs. breath weapon).

Like normal eagles, the leogrpyh's eyesight is so keen as to make them unable to be surprised if encountered in their lair at night. Furthermore, if they make a diving attack from 100' feet or higher, they gain a +4 bonus to their "to hit" roll, and do double damage from their claws, but may not make any beak attacks. For both land-based and air-based attacks, if both of a leogryph's fore claws strike successfully, the leogryph may choose to attack with its rear claws, doing and additional 1d6+1 damage per claw attack (on successful "to hit" rolls, double damage bonuses from successful diving attacks apply), but may not make any beak attacks.

Leogryphs possess a magical ability to create weather events once per day (per the magic-user spell control weather), for a duration of up to 3 turns, but under the condition that the leogryph must remain airborne over the weather event within a range of 240'.

MOVE: 12"/24"
% IN LAIR: 25%
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1d4/1d4/1d6/1d6
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

MOVE: 120'/240'
ATTACKS: 2 claws/2 bites
DAMAGE: 1d4/1d4/1d6/1d6
SAVE AS: Fighter: 8

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Community Geomorph Project is Alive and Well
(a.k.a. "The Submissions that Kicked My Ass!")

I know many of you were starting to think this project died. Well, long story short... I got to a couple of submissions that just sort of made me feel completely daunted (above), just about the same time I started getting really busy with personal life and day job workload. So I just sort of kept putting off those submissions, and putting them off, and putting them off. And then last week decided it was just time to get out the paddles, call "CLEAR", and jump start that bitch.

Now... before Andrew Shields of Fictive Fantasies starts blaming himself for sidetracking this thing... he shouldn't... it's all on me. Like I said, workload on me picked up about the time I found myself staring at his entries. I really just found myself saying to myself, "Okay... how do I need to draw this so people will get it when they see it?" And with my tendency for procrastination mixed with A.D.D., it didn't take much to push this aside. But I've got it going again, and will soon be making an active call for additional submissions.

As of right now, there are 30 completed pages (that's 120 individual geomorphs), including the 9 most recent pages below. As of right now, there is only one received submission that has not been re-drawn yet (a cool submission from Welbo that I'm looking forward to finally executing). I will be sending out PDF versions soon (probably this week) to the various parties whose submissions have already been redrawn (Christian Sturke, Boric G., Matthew Schmeer, Chris Creel, and Andrew Shields) for a review of my version vs. their original submission (BTW, I'll send JPGs of the submissions out with the PDFs in case you don't have them handy). And then, hopefully, get those refined over the next few weeks.

Starting some time this summer (mid-June?), I'll probably start making calls for thematic submissions that I feel like the book could use (e.g., "send me 1 page of 4 central temple areas" or "send me 1 page of 4 tribal/lair living areas" or "send me a page of labs and libraries").

As always, you can download the master sheets from the Community Geomorph Project Page and keep sketching and sending me geomorphs as you draw them.

Without further ado... the newest 9 pages of geomorphs (a.k.a. "round 3"),
including the 2 pages that kicked my ass.

Go back and check out Round 1 >>
Go back and check out Round 2 >>

Friday, May 10, 2013

Harryhausen Blogfest: "New" Monster - Ymir

In honor of the Ray Harryhausen Memorial Blogfest, I present my version of the ymir from 20 Million Miles to Earth. I have taken a little creative license with the original, but I've tried to keep true to the original spirit of the creature.

The ymir is a strange beast. Daunting though its appearance may be, it is generally docile unless provoked. These reptilian giants are akin to troglodytes, but their coloration is almost bird-like, with red coloration around the eyes, a red streak that runs down the back and along the length of the tail, an ochre-coloration around the lower legs and across the chest and stomach, and a bright blue tongue.

These imposing beasts are sulfur eaters and are, therefore, most often found in areas with hot springs and volcanic activity, or areas that are populated with salt domes. This sulfurous diet enables them to belch a 20'x20'x20' cloud of stinking gas up to 3 times per day. On a failed saving throw vs. breath weapons, this gas will cause victims caught in the cloud to become helpless (due to nausea) for 2d6 rounds. An ymir will usually only use this breath weapon if cornered or overwhelmed, preferring to attack with the claws on its 2 powerful hands.

Although the ymir makes its diet of sulphur and tends to live underground, it has a strange ability that presents itself only in the presence of both direct sunlight and relatively "fresh" air; after 2-5 (1d4+1) turns under these conditions, an ymir will grow an additional 2-5 (1d4+1) feet, and gains 5-8 (1d4+4) hit points (but still attacks and saves a 9HD monster). The ymir will retain these size and hit point gains as long as both the light and air requirements are met, and for 2-5 (1d4+1) additional turns once the conditions are no longer present.

MOVE: 12"
% IN LAIR: 75%
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 3-16/3-16
SIZE: L (20' tall)
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

MOVE: 120'
ATTACKS: 2 claws
DAMAGE: 3-16/3-16
SAVE AS: Fighter: 9

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Module Meme: Which of Your Modules
Has Taken the Most Use and Abuse?

I was referencing X1 this morning trying to remember how the rope bridges were treated on the Phanaton platforms, and it struck me... "no matter how much care I tried to take of my stuff, I still have poor bastards like this one." The cover's come apart, and the last page (the one with the hex map for the players to fill in) is missing. It's not all marked up like my copy of Keep on the Borderlands, but Id rather have scars than missing limbs any day.

I'm sure the missing hit points from this copy of The Isle of Dread are only flesh wounds by comparison to some of your stuff. So... which of your modules (or sourcebooks, for that matter) has taken the most use and abuse? And as a visual person, I think it's cooler to show than tell.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I wasn't sure my schedule was going to allow it this year, but I'm happy to say I'll be attending this year's North Texas RPG Con. However, I am upset that I'll be missing Saturday evening (that's the one part of the schedule I just couldn't work out; my brother would have never let me live down missing my oldest niece's recital with the Dallas Ballet Center). Ironically, it would have been super-tough for me to choose which Saturday night game I would want to join. I'll still probably make it out that Saturday night, just not early enough to join any pre-scheduled sessions.

I hope Jim Ward won't think I'm stalking him...
...but I'm signed up for his Eldritch RPG sci-fi game on Friday morning and his Metamorphosis Alpha session on Saturday morning. The only other thing I'm registered for right now is a playtest session of Michael Curtis's Shiverwhen RPG on Friday evening.

Any attendees up for Citadel of Blood?
Something else I was thinking about doing on either Thursday night or Friday afternoon (between the Eldritch and Shiverwhen sessions) was getting up a game of Citadel of Blood, but going ahead and "pre-designing" the dungeon and then GM'ing it (as opposed to developing it on the fly w/out a GM, the way the game was designed), and throw in some additional traps, spells, monsters, and what not, that aren't already in the existing rules. If you read my blog post about it, this is something I've been wanting to do for a while. If any of you are going, let me know if you're up for this. BTW, if I do this, the characters will probably be pre-gens (either from the existing game, or some I've created based on my "expansion" ideas for the game).