Sunday, January 25, 2015

That's....Unusual....But Awesome

I logged onto RPGnow today,y  and I noticed that one of my older works, D7ACU: The Scion of Masada was, initially the top small press seller. By the time I'd cashed out some royalties and posted a review (of Little Red Goblin's excellent Racial Guide 4), it had become the number one seller overall!

Holy shit!

I wrote Scion of Masada in 2007 or 2008, as part of my urban fantasy/supers Dept 7 Advanced Class Update line, well before I started building my own campaign worlds. I'm still proud of it, as it was a sound class mechanically, one that still holds up 5+ years later, and it had a ton of flavor. The class was basically a knife-fighting MOSSAD badass, and probably my proudest moment was when a fellow game designer, who himself was an Orthodox Jew, praised it, and said he enjoyed it. He felt it was a respectful and fun, action-movie style take on his heritage.

Anyway, years and years late, Scion of Masada is number one again. I didn't expect that, but sweet!
If you liked Scion, check out some of my other D7ACU stuff, it'll definitely make Mark Cathro happy.I recommend the Innocent, Neo-Witch Guardian, Perfect Archer, and Macromorph; those are the best of the lot, I think. The Sentai Spectrum Ranger was pretty strong, but the follow on expansions I did, Sentai Strike and Sentai Sequel were better.

Also check out my newer stuff, especially Black Bestiary, if you need horrible monsters for your Scion of Masada to carve up with his daggers.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Semi-Play Testers Wanted: Feats for Black Tokyo

Well, first I'll put out an update of what I expect to be working on throughout the first months of 2015.

Last month, John Picot sent me several ideas for an Idol Singer-centric soucebook for Black Tokyo. These ideas morphed into a more general sourcebook about life in Akihabara, Tokyo's central entertainment and shopping district. As soon as I gather up all the needed art,  expect a 100 pager sourcebook that combines location-book, character-options book and mini-bestiary into one very fun whole entitled Black Tokyo: Electric Town.

Also, I'm about 80% done with the writing on a sourcebook expanding on the Ukemochi Ranch- the cannibal cattle ranch detailed in Black Tokyo Unlimited and elaborated on via a few of the monsters in Black Bestiary. This one will delve pretty deeply into the squicky world of cannibal fetish and gynophagia, and is strange and creepy enough it's been very fun to write. Expect some utterly baddass new monsters too. This one will probably be titled Black Tokyo: Cannibal Japan.

On a slightly less positive note, I'm pretty much abandoning active support for the Psi-Watch Campaign Setting. I hardly ever do anything with the world these days, and prefer to direct my time and art budget to my other worlds. I've had a pretty solid race book, revised using Dreamscarred Press' Ultimate Psionics ruleset since last year, but I haven't been able to release it. This race book, entitled Black Operators, will likely be the last support for Psi-Watch.

So, About That Playtesting....
As I was working on the two Black Tokyo campaign guides, I realized I needed to modernize and expand on the feats available in the campagin setting. Basically I want to for the setting's feats what I did for its technology as I did with the Advanced Tech series.

As I was writing the statblcoks for Black Bestiary I realized that some of the feats could stand a bit more revision. Some, like Super Kawaii, were just too good. If you had a decent CHA modifier and were going to fight lightly armored, there was no reason NOT to take that feat. It's still kinda over powered, because I don't want to invalidate Black Bestiary, but I did clarify how the feat worked, utilizing the Near Nudity armor mechanic I introduced in The Advanced Armory. 

Others were just too weak. Moon Wise and its follow-on feats sucked, with  too many prerequisites for what they offered. Those will get revised upward a bit, in hopes of making them a bit more common to my monsters. Other feats got reflavored a bit to match the flavor text. The Wombscrape now requires an evil alignment, because what hero could ever justify using THAT particularly nasty power in battle? Conversely Innocence Restored now requires a good alignment.

Finally, some combat-oriented feats that technically weren't Combat feats, like Womanly Suffocation, get that tag, in hopes that more Fighters take them.

So do me a favor. If you've ever had questions or concerns about any of the feats, now's the time to address 'em. Send me your criticisms and suggestions at

You'll get playtester credit if you want it and a chance to influence a rather unique setting.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Review of Black Bestiary

A week or two ago, I put out a call for reviewers to take a look at Black Tokyo's Black Bestiary.

Here's the review that reader Barbara H posted on RPGnow.

Thanks, Barbara, for taking the time to read through the book. Hope you enjoy it in your home game. 

Hello everyone and welcome to the Black Bestiary review! For the purposes of full disclosure, I received a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Clocking in at 225 pages, this book has a massive 218 pages of creatures, with the rest of the page count being the cover, table of contents, monster-by-CR, and OGL.

As a caveat to readers, the book definitely has some mature material, seeing as how it was made for the amazing but extremely mature Black Tokyo setting. That said, many of the creatures can be reflavored to suit a less racy campaign, so if the problem lies solely with player sensibilities, you should be able to get a lot of use out of this book.

Many of the creatures are drawn from Japanese mythology, pop culture, and, of course, anime, so there is quite a wide range of creatures in this book. The monsters are well-researched and it shows throughout the book. I will, for the purposes of illustrating how great this book is and for brevity's sake as well, list some of the more iconic creatures within the book.

The CR 10 Amakaze are the souls of ancient businessmen corrupted by the Oni into fiendish undead with golden talons. These guys get SEVERAL abilities, including the ability to fire bolts of cold and dark Chi energy, put a 'spiritual bounty' on foes to induce a sort of frenzy on allied Outsiders, bribe dark spirits into coming to their aid by offering up some of their wealth, an aura that makes them and their allies look completely human, enhanced social and combat capabilities against poorer characters, and even the ability to steal wealth, sustenance, knowledge, or even a target's youth with their claw attacks. All and all, a VERY cool creature! To top it all off, there is even a more powerful version of the evil creatures, termed 'Executive Board Members', who are CR16 monstrosities that not only have the powers of their lessers, but can also become a dark shade that dims light and sheds murderous cold by shifting partially into the coterminous Black Else, they revive in their estates almost like a lich revives with it's phylactery unless their source of wealth is taken from them or destroyed (Which should prove quite a difficult task!), and it's claw attacks can now steal spells, INT, and even memories, in the form of levels, from those hit by their claw attacks! The executives are also bound to whatever country they reside in and suffer when leaving it, making it a pretty cool, if hard-to-exploit, weakness.

The CR 2 Aosaginohi are heron-like spirit birds whose silent presence foretells death and woe. They can turn into an ethereal mist-like state that allows them to enter any non-airtight building that is not hallowed or from which tantric sex has occured. They also have a permanent Deathwatch effect and can cast Death Knell, plus they have an aura that bolsters undead. While I would have liked to see this creature's statblock get more signature abilities, the flavor is just awesome and anyone who plans on using undead or evil outsiders owes it to themselves to use this bird as an ominous precursor to the attack, because it just adds SO much flavor to the encounter!

The CR 18 Bake-Kujira are the vengeful undead remnants of whales. These things are DEADLY with a capital D. They, quite obviously gain Swallow Whole as an ability, but this is the least of the massive beast's powers. It can sweep it's tail to deal slam damage to all creatures in a cone (Presumably in the back 180 degrees of the Bake-Kujira's profile, but it is not specified,). While above the waterline, they burn noxiously, creating concealing smoke that sickens and nauseates nearby creatures. Their most deadly ability, however, is Sonardirge. This ability, even while above water, is deadly, because it paralyzes those who hear it and fail their saves. When the Bake-Kujira and a target are below water, it is even harder to resist and deadlier as well, because being paralyzed while sinking in the ocean's depths is a very quick way for a character to drown.

The CR 14 Corpse Gallows is quite interesting. It is the remains of a gallows infused with the suffering, fear, and anger of those who died within its embrace, granting it a gruesome unlife. The base creature has 'noose arms' that allow it to quickly strangle those it catches, but it REALLY becomes deadly once it has a corpse within one or more nooses, using the corpses to deflect attacks from its main 'body', using the dead to bludgeon the living, and even consuming the corpse to heal and free up more Strangling Noose attacks. It can also freeze and look like a normal, if macabre, gallows. For all the power of the Corpse Gallows, a Resurrection or similar spell can instantly kill it by driving out the animating spirits, which is a neat weakness.

The CR 13 Dollmaker Ooze is something that bears mentioning. These acidic oozes were created by the Oni to turn the beautiful into sex dolls, gaining paralyzing slime, a suffocating engulf, and the ability to turn the dead into sex dolls. While I am deliberately trying to shy away from the more 'sex-themed material', this thing is EASILY reflavored as the tool of mad artists or demons, who use it to produce extremely life-like 'statues'. This should be roleplaying gold for even GMs who run campaigns in settings other than Black Tokyo.

Familiars are also covered, with several new familiars and reskinned or reimagined familiars also being present.

The CR 3 Hell's Maids are perfect tools for depraved nobles and evil arcanists everywhere! While hardly a physical threat, they can cast cantrips at will and heal nearby devils if they choose to not perform a full round worth of actions. The idea of a fiendish maid or butler is just awesome!

The Hyakki Yokai, a new player race, are HILARIOUS! They are, essentially, numerous very small demons who inhabit a 'woman suit' that they build out of leather and clockwork components, which they don to go about and have fun in. The little demons bicker amongst themselves, drink themselves silly, are extremely frisky, and have little grasp about human nature, which means roleplaying the little buggers is a study in silliness as they, unsuccessfully, try to ape humanity and come off as being some of the oddest people ever.

The CR 3 Ironbrother Yakuza are basically fiendish toughs who emulate the Yakuza. With abilities like Murder Zen and Too Honest, how could one not enjoy using these creatures?

The CR 15 Tottori Horrors are massive, Lovecraftian-esque monstrosities who operate on different terms in regards to space and time, able to 'store' rounds of inactivity and then unleash them in bursts of frenetic activity. Their alien intellect can incapacitate those who touch their minds, causing severe neural hemorrhaging that, if lethal, can transform the victim into another Tottori Horror. Not only that, but these beasts have 1,000 ft 'death rays' and powerful claw attacks and Regeneration 10 (Good or Lawful), making them extremely capable combatants. Make no mistake, these things are TPK machines!

All of the above creatures are but a small fraction of the well-made creatures in The Black Bestiary.

So, let's break down the book. The material is well researched and quite flavorful, giving the 'Fluff' score 5. The monsters are all relatively balanced according to CR, with a few small squicks here and there, but nothing that should diminish the 'Crunch' score of 5 that I feel it deserves. The art is a mix of stock art and commissioned art, both drawn and computer-generated, and is appropriate for the book, with several excellent pieces of art that remind me of the long nights watching anime back in high school.

All in all, I rate the book as being 5 star and highly recommend it to anyone that is looking for a book of solid, interesting monsters. I especially recommend it to anyone who has the Black Tokyo setting, because the material is spot-on for the setting.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Blacker and Blacker

Well, the first book of 2015 is one of my biggest, prettiest, and most complex to date: Black Bestiary is up! Go buy it!

Here's some of the artwork inside- the top image are the low rez approval images Anthony Cournoyer did for several critters. If you have Black Tokyo Unlimited, you might recognize several of these monsters from that sourcebook, which either went unillustrated or were illustrated by stock art. Included are major villians Taru Tsuyoi and the Shingami, as well as some lower level threats.

The next image is by John Picot, illustrating a new monster called a Ho-Masubi; basically a very nasty, undead fire elemental.

There's a lot more to see in Black Bestiary. Pick it up, and please, leave some reviews. I want to  get the word out far and wide about this awesome, and very unconventional monster collection.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Last Post of 2014, First Big Book of 2015

Finally, after working on it throughout most of 2014, Black Bestiary is done! Expect it on sale very soon.

I laid it out starting at around 8 pm last night, and ended sometime around 9 am this morning. Exhausting but rewarding- this is a huge, very comprehensive and art-heavy monster book. It's also very plot-hook heavy- every creature here suggests a story line or three. There are several groups of themed and inter-related enemies, each of which suggests a specific campaign style. All the creatures you've seen in various Black Tokyo sourcebooks appear, and are joined by dozens of new monsters, many of which fill in the gaps or round out the monstrous 'ecosystem' suggested by Black Tokyo Unlimited.

Also I want to get the word out about this book, so anybody who wants a review copy, please email me a request.

Blessed Be,

Friday, December 26, 2014

Answers for Andrew

Andrew Antolick had this to say in the comments of the previous post. I was planning on responding to him in that same post, but he had such a good set of ideas I wanted to highlight them here, along with my response here.

“Happy Holidays/Winter Solstice, to you and your works.

First off, I am wowed by the new Nemesis artwork, very primordial with no easily defined form of gender. I the bile scream is one of my top five breath weapons. I am ready to get the next bestiaries when released.

Now with Othervese America getting kicked into the second abortion war, no one will come out without scars. The culmination of the war could lead the utter obliteration of the United States landmass. No America, only the Otherverse to find themselves in the galaxy. When people can destroy cities, entire land masses are just the next rung on the ladder.

Hoping for 2016 to be the year of Endara, the setting is begging to be explored. All art aside, could there be previews of what this kitchen sink from the ether could affect the balance of the Otherverse/world's tree?

Best Wishes and go easy on Artemis in the end, she can be freed from the cycle of violence and lead others out.
December 23, 2014 at 10:42 PM”

My response started in the comments section and metamorphosized into something else.

Wow, Andrew, that's a great idea for Othervere America. I've been toying with the idea of revising the setting all year, without any concrete idea of how to do so. I really want to take full advantage of the Pathfinder system, rather than the D20 Modern based system I began the world with.
I'm worried about turning the world into a pastiche of Shadowrun, only with neo-pagans getting inordinate political power in relation to their population density rather than Native Americans once magic shows up. The idea of a galactic Diaspora is one I hadn't thought out, but damn it, it really works. It allows me to keep the themes of the setting, but at the same way do some good old fashioned space opera. I’m not a hundred percent sure I’ll go in the direction of completely destroying America, but I definitely want to differentiate the Lifer and Choicer cultures even more strongly.

As for the revised Nemesis, I think I made hir breath weapon even nastier. I’ve made both Nemesis and Genesis CR 30 threats, which is as far as the system can go without breaking. To put it in context, for readers not deeply familiar with the way Pathfinder handles Challenge Ratings, CR 30 includes Cthullu himself. You really can’t get worse (except with Mythic Rules, which I’m not as familiar with as I’d like, so I left ‘em out.) Artemis remains CR 29 and a very hard fight, and Roe Athene herself is a few CR points lower. Generally I like to make the settings major heroic NPCs a little lower powered then their bad guy rivals, that way there is a sense of danger, an answer to the unspoken question of why Roe can’t just go in and fix everything. Which is the same question gamers have been asking, in regards to Elminster and the Forgotten Realms since the mid 80s. The answer’s simple: she’s pretty damn tough, but Artemis is even tougher.

The art for the revised Nemesis, by the way, is by Alejandro Garcia-Palomares. He did the cover for the Otherverse America Unlimited Edition and several other pieces of interior artwork. He’s illustrated several pieces I’ve used in Horrors of the Lifechain, most of which I’ve kept in a drawer while I wrote the book. He’s also illustrating Genesis, a Gazelle, a Stonecutter and Wrench NPC. Wait till you see his Genesis- it’s incredible. Alex will be doing more art for me in the coming year, hopefully. I really want him to do the art for the Senators and a few other creatures unique to Otherverse America. The gender fluidity of Nemesis is something I’ve really had fun playing up- it makes dramatic sense for a cosmic creator/creatrix deity, and opens up a lot of storyline potential for both the Nemesis and hir creations. The Nemesis has also made some major cameos in Black Tokyo, albeit in a different identity. Can you spot hir? Also check out Black Bestiary when it comes out next month, because one of that setting’s worst villainesses has a major, MAJOR tie to Otherverse America’s backstory.

I’m also really gratified by your emotional response to Artemis. I’ve always tried to present her as a possibly redeemable villain, as I have with several  of the Lifers. Even Dacoveney, who is irredeemable in the sense he’s basically our setting’s Lex Luthor, has his good points, most notably his love of his family and fierce loyalty to those under his command. I’ve always had sympathy for Artemis, because the poor girl is crazy as hell, basically suffering the worst case of PSTD in galactic history. I keep metaplot pretty light in my game- I figure the campaign begins on January 22nd, 2107, and anything else that happens from that point on is up to local game groups to resolve, but I did hint that eventually Artemis gets redeemed and atones, in the Temporal Angels mini-sourcebook.

I think this page sums up my feelings towards Artemis nicely.

As for 2016 being the Year of Endara, I hope to do something sooner. I’ve got a few ideas of how to take the setting from a basic He-Man pastiche and do something genuinely original with it. Just off the top of my head I want to emphasize a few themes.

One is the sheer psychedelic beauty of Endara itself. I’m continually in awe of Earl Norems’ artwork. He makes Eternia this wonderland of lost forests, great cliffs, enormous mountain ranges, and most of all- the SKY. Eternia’s sky is fucking amazing, this purple and azure haze with strange stars and  a number of moons that fluctuates at the artist’s whim. More than anything else in the setting, I want Endara’s sky to be that beautiful. (I’m also toying with the idea of setting Endara in Phallus Space somewhere, probably in the Inner Necklace, to more fully tie it to my cosmology). After all, Eternia is said in canon to be the center of the universe, the Phallus Space is the center of the universe in my cosmology. 

Also, I’m thinking that Endara will be a story about the setting’s Prince Adam analogue and his coming out story, and how that utterly breaks the world’s pseudo-medieval politics. So basically, it’s a story about insane courage and honesty.  I’m thinking that Richard K. Morgan’s sci-fantasy novel, The Steel Remains, is going to be a pretty big inspiration on the world, writing wise.

Anyway, thank you much for your kind words, and your awesome questions.
Merry Christmas, Blessed Winter Solstice, Happy Hanukah, or just good winter break to everybody,

PS- I got a bunch of good questions from various fans after posting my email here. I'm going to redesignl the page so it's readily available to readers who have questions or comments. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ending the Year with Monsters

 Well, 2014 is coming to an end. As always, my goal is 52 products in a year, or an average of one a year. This year, as I have for the last few, I've fallen short. I ended up with 30 releases for the year, including some mammoth books, like Closed: Monsters of the Army of God, Heavy Future and Heavy Weapons, and Enchantments of Black Tokyo.

All those books topped 200 pages, and were fairly complex to lay out. The last three books of 2014 are bestiaries. Dark Star Bestiary, volumes one and two, are for Heavy Future, while Horrors of the Lifechain is Otherverse America focused.

I wrote the books near simultaneously. In the two Dark Star Bestiary sourcebooks, I began revising the Lifechained creatures of 2008's Guide to the Known Galaxy, and I collected and expanded on that material in Horrors of the Lifechain. I've been wanting to revise Guide for several years now, but it's such an art intensive project, I've not been able to budget it. Instead of one mega-book, Horrors is the first volume in a series of revamp sourcebooks; when I get around to volume two of Horrors, you'll see more Lifespawn monsters, including the ones I couldn't fit into book one and sooner or later I'll do a Lifechained powers book with a focus on abilities available to player characters.

Anyway, Horrors of the Lifechain is a great way to end the year. Closed was the first release of 2014, and the last release is also a weighty bestiary for the Otherverse America campaign setting.

I've focused almost exclusively on Heavy Future and Black Tokyo this year. Expect the focus on Black Tokyo to continue into 2015; the Black Bestiary will be coming out soon,and I'm also working on a pretty big soucebook focusing on Idol Singers (and bardic/media type characters in general).

However, expect me to revisit Otherverse America pretty heavily. I finally want to go through and make it fully Pathfinder compatible. Hey, if you've gamed in Otherverse America campaigns, send me an email. I'd love to hear what you did with the world, and what (if any) changes you'd like to see, either mechanically or in terms of world flavor.

My email is

Blessed Be,