Saturday, August 1, 2015

Okay, I'm Actually Mad About the ENnie Awards

Seriously, the 5e Dungeon Masters Screen got an award? 


Okay, I'm not really mad but...WHY?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Blackbird Raum

I've been listening to Blackbird Raum's Destroying pretty much non-stop since it came out. I could go on at length about the way it has influenced Wunderspire and the Blighter's Manse stuff I've been working on, but here, you can listen to their anarchic folk-punk yourself and make up your own damn mind:

Oh, and if you need a D&D tie-in to make this post worthwhile: Russ Nicholson has done t-shirt and album cover art for them. Yeah, the Fiend Folio guy. Pretty sure this band owns funny-shaped dice.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Hexenjager's Bestiary

This document is the personal bestiary of a unnamed hexenjager, one of those unfortunate souls whose life is overtaken by the hunt for witches. As such, their account focuses on the various kind of witches they encountered, but in their travels they must have fought other agents of darkness as there are entries here detailing monsters unconnected to the foul rites of witchcraft.

From the passages detailed therein, it seems quite possible that this hexenjager patrolled Arksylvania's coastal region (perhaps being based out of Blighter's Manse), or at least specialized in the hunting of water-witches. What became of this hexenjager is unknown; may the Wounded God preserve them in their holy work or grant them a place of rest in heaven if the worst has come to pass!

(This is a pdf of reskinned monsters from the 5e Monster Manual, each given a folkloric or Gothic twist to fit the mood of Arksylvania. You can download it for free here. Twelve pages, twenty-four monsters.)

Monday, July 27, 2015


I'm surprised there hasn't been more talk about the watch-us-play-an-rpg series that Wil "King of the Geeks" Wheaton has been going on Youtube. What gives? Is it more fun to argue about why there isn't a history of the OSR and then argue about who is ideologically pure enough to write that history? Are people boycotting Wheaton because he isn't into GamerGate? Is Wheaton-mania sooooo 2012? Or is it just that recorded actual play is really, really hard to sit through? (My money is on that last one.)

Wheaton's Titansgrave is probably the best of this sort of thing that I've seen. The players are all personable, the game moves along at a good clip, and there are actual production values being leveraged here. I admit, I had it on in the background while I did other things, but usually I can't get through a minute of someone else's game. This might not be a bad video to show someone who wants to know what rpgs are like if they're on the fence about it. 

The Chapter Zero video is just Wheaton talking about how rpgs work and describing his homebrew campaign setting:

Chapter One is where the game gets going:

Friday, July 24, 2015

East of West

Creating a "Weird West" setting runs headlong into what I call "the Deadlands Problem." That is, the conventions that constitute the Weird West are already largely set: the discovery of a fantastical substance the powers uncanny technology, gunslingers returned from the grave to seek vengeance, the Ghost Dance was a real and powerful rite, something-something Civil War, the end is nigh, etc. The low-hanging fruit of the Weird West has already been picked and packaged as the expected tropes that come with mixing westerns with fantasy and horror. This is especially true in comics and gaming; too few creators really stray beyond the territory already marked out by Deadlands.

East of West, however, feels startlingly fresh. The comic mixes western, science fiction, and horror-fantasy ideas; it's drawing from the usual set of inspirations, but the end result is weirder and more inventive than the stereotypical sum of those parts. 

East of West is set in an America divided into seven nations: Armistice (a land of strange pilgrims), The Union, The Confederacy, the Kingdom (a nation of black freemen), the Endless Nation (the nation of the united native peoples), the Republic of Texas, and the PRA of Mao (a nation of Chinese immigrants). Unknown to most, there is a wide-reaching conspiracy afoot; each nation is represented by a member of the Chosen who seeks to foster and bring about an obscure prophecy known only as the Message. At its heart, the Message is apocalyptic; though cryptic, it spells out the end of days.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are real in the world of East of West, and three of them wish to further the Message. The Horsemen's aim of fulfilling the Message's prophecy is derailed when Death falls in love with a young woman named Xiaoling who is in line to take control of the PRA of Mao; they have a child, who is late has been taken by the remaining Horsemen and raised within a computer-generated virtual world to be the Great Beast who will usher in the apocalypse. Understandably, Death is none too pleased with this plan for his son and currently searches for his lost child--a quest that puts everyone and everything in harm's way.

While Death searches for his son, the world is falling to pieces. Political instability, arms races and technological advancement, assassination, war, manufactured debt crises, and more rise to make the world ripe for the apocalypse. Amidst it all, Death's son emerges as the most terrifying tool of destruction.

East of West is one of the most interesting comics being published at the moment. If a different take on the Weird West is at all appealing to you, definitely give it a try. I found the first volume a little slow, but was definitely hooked by the second collected edition. And now, the customary image dump:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

Theophile Quick

Let me tell you about my character...

Physical Description: Gray skin the color of a storm cloud, lithe, muscled like a dancer. Gray and black hair pulled into a topknot. Weather-beaten face, stoic expression save for a deep-seated anger in his cold blue eyes, body a topography of scars and nautical tattoos. Wears prayer beads interspersed with scrimshaw totems, wields a war pick made from a refashioned whaling harpoon.

Back-story: Theophile Quick was born into a family of farmers on the mountainous island of Windward Till, but he never felt that the bucolic life was for him. Addicted to books of seafaring adventure, when Theo turned sixteen he left the family farm and enlisted in Wunderspire's navy. 

Theo rose steadily through the ranks of the navy, eventually becoming an officer, until his ship was attacked and boarded by the crew of the Mandrake, a much-feared gang of pirates. Given the choice between death and serving aboard the Mandrake, Theo chose life and continued his career at sea as a buccaneer.

Engaging upon thievery upon the high seas made Theo a hardened and sometimes cruel man. However, even the brutal life of a freebooter could not prepare him for the sinking of the Mandrake during an unholy tempest. As he sank beneath the waves, certain that a death by drowning was to be his fate, Theo was contacted by a chthonic spirit of the ocean. The spirit promised Theo that he would rise again, reborn of the sea's blood, if he accepted the spirit's bargain. Once more preferring to save his own skin, Theo accepted the bargain. Theo awoke upon the shore the next morning; now his sleep is haunted by dreams of a great primordial whale that breaths its otherworldly plans into his restive mind. An ancient anger now dwells within him, waiting to be released in spectacular displays of violence that break upon his foes as would a great wave of the unconquerable sea.

With no ship to sail with at present, Theo has joined the Inquisitive Fellows Detective Agency to put his muscle and fury to good use, as well as to save enough coin to eventually purchase his own sailing vessel.

Character theme song:

Murder by Death, "Sometimes the Line Walks You"

Personality: I work hard so I can play hard.
Ideal: Freedom--what isn't Theo willing to compromise to preserve his own life?
Bond: In a harbor town, I have a paramour--a tiefling noblewoman named Miranda.
Flaw: Never question my courage, for I cannot still the hell that's in these hands.

(Theophile Quick, 5th level air genasi barbarian)