Thursday, October 27, 2011

Playing With Black Tokyo, Watching the X-Quadrology

So I've been adding more content to the Races of the Tatakama sourcebook. I've brought over two races from BT III: the Ubume and the Kijimuna. The Ubume are the ghosts of women who died while pregnant, burdened eternally by a ghostly fetus. The Kijimuna are playful little plant-based lolicons. They each bring in some new gameplay niches- with the Ubume, you get another race of undead to try out, and the Kijimuna add the plant type to the play roster. I'm also adding an all new race, the Kami- which are a diverse race of demigods and demigoddesses based on the '8 million spirits' of Shinto thought. They're sorta of a skill based Belldandy (from Oh, My Goddess).

That brings the total roster of playable races in the first book to 12.

I'm also adding 'social level' templates to represent the various different social casts of feudal Japan. I recently downloaded Highmoon Press' "Ronin" sourcebook, and its' excellent. I'll be referencing it fairly often, in fact. However, instead of just talking about the different castes of samurari, heimin and burakumin, like Ronin does, I'll just add a few different +0 CR templates that players can apply to their characters, and capture the feel of the world through gameplay, not exposition.

One problem I had with Ronin is the fact it labeled the untouchable caste of old Japan "eta".... I did about 20 minutes of research and found out that term is really, really offensive. It's the equivalent of playing a Civil War RPG and there being a 'nigger' character class. So out goes eta, and in goes the slightly less offensive 'burakumin'. Of course, in a game about shit eating undead and fucking 12 year olds, that might seem a little over sensitive, but I never said my code of personal morality made any sense.

So I've also been watching the four X-Movies this week. You know what, each has their flaws, but most of them are entertaining.

The first movie: the best parts were in the first 20 minutes. Magneto's origin, the cage fight and Wolverine taking a shotgun blast to the face, and then the X-Men descending in the Blackbird through the blizzard to save Wolverine and Jubilee (who they renamed Rogue for some reason)... all those moments were perfect. The entire rest of the movie was boring and drab. The only good point from the later movie was the hypercompetent, super-spy version of Mystique.

X-2. Easily the best of the four movies, but it had its problems, notably giving Colossus a glorified cameo, turning Deathstrike, who is a passionate and aggressive badass in the comics into a pitiable zombie, and Jean's rather lack-luster demise. Of course, Wolverine's pity towards Deathstrike was well done, as was his rampage through the mansion. The standout scene still remains Magneto's seduction of Pyro.

x-3. Deeply flawed, but the only film to have any sexuality to it. I've always sorta had this theory that since the first 2 flicks were directed by Singer, a gay man, he just didn't have it in him, emotionally to make Jean as sexy on screen as in the comics. Here, Rattner at least remembers that Jean is a woman. The most critically panned of the original trilogy, this movie might actually be my favorite for three reasons: Angel's origin scene (though he had NOTHING to do after that amazing opening, and the scene could of been given, with little modification to Beast, providing a much stronger arc for him), the fucking brutal 4 way brawl at Jean's house. And the third reason: the clinic protest. That fucking clinic protest scene kicks my ass every time I watch it.

You've got a protest put together by EXPLICITLY referencing real world anti-abortion protest footage and changing the text on the signs slightly. And prowling through the crowds of activists and fanatics... you've got these two living weapons that look completely human but AREN'T. Fuck I love that scene- it may be arguable whether or not it's an X-Men scene, but its definitely an Otherverse America scene, and for that I'll always love it.

X-Men First Class. Possibly my new favorite. It's definitely channeling James Bond, which is a good thing. But it's likely the most flawed of the four. First, because all the X-Men characters anybody real cares about are locked into being in the present team (Storm, Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean, Colossus, ect) you're left with the dregs of the X-universe to set up the precursor team. Second, in 2011, it does the sci-fi 'kill the black dude first' thing, and does it to a character whose whole power is basically 'survive anything'. Still I did like it- you've got young Magneto killing Nazis in incredibly badass ways, and I could of watched THAT for 2 hours alone. For some reason, I really liked Banshee in this movie- he goes from 12-14 y/o punk to genuine hero and rising badass pretty authentically. And as I predicted, Mystique's transformation from innocent girl to terrorist was the best part of the movie.

Anyway, talk to you all later

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Working on Black Tokyo Legends

Right now, I'm working on the PFRPG version of Black Tokyo, and its turning into a bigger thing than I initially planned. Originally, I only intended to include 9 races and alternate racial traits (but not alternate racial favored class abilities, because I think coming up with a dozen of 'em for each race is too much work for too little reward, content-wise). Now, I'm adding in starting talents, feats, ect, as well as some of the Tatakama's deities and some basic world info.

I figure, eventually I release a proper campaign setting, along with a book of classes, but for right now, this will be a great start.

One thing I've noticed, as I'm working on it, is that this version of Black Tokyo focuses more on weird horror and slightly less on transgressive erotic. It's a bit more folklore intensive, and has a distinct flavor to D20 Modern Black Tokyo- BT D20 is louder, more shocking for the sake of being shocking. This is a bit more mythic. Of course, once I convert over the feats- especially really freaky ones like Scatological Armory (which turns you into a shit fetish version of Ben Grimm), that impression may change.

I'm going to use a lot of period ukiyo-e and shuna to illustrate the book, as well as illos by Amanda Webb and some of the usual crew. Using ukiyo-e is both a matter of affordability, and a stylistic choice.

Anyway, look for it soon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I want a radio telescope named Optimus Prime!

Hey, I just saw this while screwing around online. Go here, suggest "Optimus Prime" as the new name of the VLA radio telescope array.


Ghosts and Promises for 2012

Kodiak Island

This last two weeks I’ve been working on a combination of ‘city-book’ and character-builder for the Lifer Nation, emphasizing their hidden fortress/city on Kodiak Island and its next generation super soldiers. I just got the manuscript to a fairly complete point last night, to a level I’m satisfied with. I’ll be going through, adding a bit more flavor text, and going to press with in a month or so. This sourcebook, which I’ll be titling “Promises & Ghosts: The Secrets of Kodiak Island” will probably be the last big Otherverse America release of the year, though I’m working on Guide to the Known Galaxy in the background.

Expect the New Promise Infantryman Basic Class- a Lifer specific starting class that allows you to build competent and powerful, but rigidly trained supersoldiers. The advantage of this class is its excellent conventional combat training and the ability to select advaced-level talents while still a Basic Class; the disadvantage is this class and its members are very ‘by the book’, and sorta inflexible- they can’t select class based Bonus Feats. The New Promise Infantryman plays different, and feels different than APEX or Choicer soldiers, and should be a fun option for gamers wanting to build Lifer heroes.

Several times throughout the previous sourcebooks, I’ve mentioned a ‘class’ or caste of Lifer soldiers- a sprawling legacy of super-terrorists known as “Ghosts of Babies Past”. Not only will gamers get dossiers on the most famous “Ghosts”, there’s a new 5 level Prestige Class consisting solely of modular super-abilities that allow Lifer characters to custom build a unique, powerful and utterly terrifying GoBP of their own.

My Non-Fiction Book on the Army of God

As I’ve been writing Ghosts & Promises, I’ve been seriously considering writing a serious, non-fiction work on the real world’s AOG, and I’ve decided, yep. I WILL DO THIS. However, the research and depth required by a sci-fi RPG loosely based in reality and the research and depth demanded by a more professional work are two different animals. I expect to spend at least 6 months or a year doing some pretty intense research before I even start writing: part of this will involve either face to face or phone/email interviews with real world anti-abortion terrorists. That’s…. that’s going to be interesting. First off, will these people even talk to me? Second, I’m a pretty broke individual, so if I do end up traveling the country, talking to AOG members, I’ll be riding a whole lot of Greyhounds.

Should be interesting.

Anyway, last week I finally saw the HBO Documentary “Soldiers in the Army of God”- I missed it when it first aired. I think I was still in Corry Station, in Pensacola FL ironically enough, completing my Naval training. (Or more accurately, waiting for my fuckin’ security clearance to get approved and doing bitch work around base while I waited to start my training. Fuck the Navy.)

Anyway, as a source of new intelligence on the AOG, it was pretty useless to me. I knew most of the data already, from reading other sources, and the documentary focused on a guy named Bob Lokey, who was fairly low-level and enough of an idiot he was an outcast even among the rest of the AOG members. The one interesting thing was a PDF copy of “Neal Horsely & the future of armed abortion conflict”, a magazine article by Daniel Voll (Esquire, Feb 1999), that inspired the documentary. I read it and I found out something I’d never known about Horsely, and something that other sources have apparently not picked up on.

Horsley, who started the Nuremberg Files website (an intelligence resource about abortion docs, listing photos, names, home & work addresses among other data…. And which in the fictionalized Otherverse America setting evolved into the Nuremberg AI), at the time of the Esquire article was employed as a computer programmer at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA!

Holy fuck nuggets. I have no idea if Horsely is still employed there, and Wikipedia is of no help…. But that’s SCARY…. a dude who argues for violent succession from the United States, who advocates armed resistance to the federal government, with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons if necessary….working a few hundred meters away from the only viable Smallpox samples remaining in the USA. I’m really hoping that after 9-11, somebody other than me realized how cataclysmically BAD an idea this was and fired Neal’s ass.

Anyway, realizing that Horsely worked at the CDC paints the Nuremberg Files and their OCD completeness in a whole new light. He’s thinking like an epidemiologist. Think of abortion as a disease- it makes sense to track the carriers (the docs) and the known loci of infection. Anyway, it’s an angle on Horsely that nobody else has, and will probably form a big chunk of my book- it also paints the man (who usually comes off as a criminally insane redneck) in a much more disturbing light- he’s smarter and more potentially dangerous than he lets on.

Anyway, don’t look for the book soon, but sooner or later, it’ll be out there.

Black Tokyo IV and Black Tokyo Legends

My best selling works continue to be Black Tokyo and its spin offs. Mark just sent over some title art for Black Tokyo Legends: Races of the Tatakama, which will become the first in a series of Pathfinder-compatible conversions of Black Tokyo. This sourcebook will include 9 races and some world information about the Tatakama. Each of the races has been selected for uniqueness and to fill a specific gameplay niche.

Kitsune are sexy tricksters and thieves, Anakame are perverse stealth experts that offer gamers a chance to play as an Undead hero from level one. The Daughters of Kirin are tough, gorgeous and heroic women, destined to make kick ass fighters and paladins, and so on. Each of the races will also include several alternate racial traits, that link them to similar critters from different Asian myths.

I’m also working on another D20 Modern chapter of Black Tokyo focusing on high tech erotica and hentai-inspired cybernetics. Think a perverse Guyver or Ghost in the Shell campaign- should be pretty fun.

I’m also toying with the idea of releasing an “ultimate editon” of Black Tokyo with more and better artwork and information from the sequels and splatbooks integrated into the core campaign setting book. After all, the Ultimate Editions of my other core settings, Psi-Watch and Otherverse America were very well received. (Otherverse America more so than Psi-Watch. OA’s controversial nature and unique point of view has attracted more attention than the more standard, ‘generic superhero’ Psi-Watch gameworld.)

Pirates of the Bronze Sky

I’m working on it, I’m working on it, I’m working on it. Still no scheduled release date, but I’ve been gathering art in the background for a while now, and deciding what else to include in this setting. (I’ve always been more a fan of sci-fi and cyberpunk than fantasy, so my mind always tends to wander to Otherverse America when I should be working on Pirates).

Those of you who received the free ‘beta playtest’ might be interested to know that I’ll be scrapping the more complex air-combat rules found within. Since those rules were written Paizo introduced its own official naval combat rules, and it will be easier to modify those excellent rules slightly to model three dimensional combat than start from scratch.

LPJD Image Portfolios

This week, I sent along a bunch of artwork, used to illustrate Otherverse America and Psi-Watch to Louis and allowed him to include it as stock art in his Image Portfolio line. I chose artwork that had a more genetic sci-fi vibe (no recognizably Choicer or Lifer characters, first off) and that would be useful in a wide variety of sci-fi, supers and cyberpunk settings. The Image Portfolios he put together are AMAZING.

I chose to go through Louis rather than releasing the stock myself because his Image Portfolios are a respected and popular brand of stock art. Anyway, I look forward to seeing this very cool artwork used in a lot of products.

Also, I partnered with Louis to release a sourcebook of 100 new cleric spells for the PFRPG, ten spells from each spell level. That should be out soon, and should be a fun little product. Go give it a look.

Recent Toy Purchases

You know what got me started on the Kodiak Island sourcebook in the first place, and thus, put the idea of a non-fiction book into my mind? This guy. I picked up a great “Pursuit of Cobra” Cobra Viper figure at Wal-Mart a couple of weeks back. I’ve always liked the design of this faceless, but well equipped Cobra troop. The old-school Cobra troops are okay looking, but their WWII styled helmets give them too low tech a look- they look too conventional. This bad boy, with his load bearing vest and that amazing helmet, now he looks like a high-tech terrorist supersoldier. I was playing with this guy, and had him staring at me from my book shelf, when I started getting the idea for the New Promise Infantryman, and the context in which this class originated.

Also, I just picked up the Marvel 3.5 inch Ultimate Iron Man figure. He joins my small army of Tony Stark. I love the design on this fricking suit so much- it has the bulk and solidity power armor should have.

Next Year’s Plans

I’m already planning for my big 2012 releases.

My biggest, coolest and most art-heavy books will be the Revised Guide to the Known Galaxy and Pirates of the Bronze Sky. Those two books will anchor the year, the same way the revised Otherverse America Core Book and Fursona anchored 2011.

However, I rarely plan out smaller releases. I usually work on shorter and mid-length books as I get inspired to. This year, well received, and majorly fun sourcebooks like ‘The Wiccae’ and ‘Sentai Spectacular’ came about because I felt like doing a book on the subject. No big business plan, no marketing strategy, just an idea I had to get out there. I consider sourcebooks like that a pleasant surprise, and look forward to see what surprises 2012 has in store for us.

Blessed Be,


Friday, October 14, 2011

I may have a non-fiction book in me....

Right now, I'm working on a nice big faction-splat for the Lifers, something focusing on the elite supersoldiers cached on Kodiak Island, their training and how they fit into the world of 2107 CE as a whole. Naturally, this involves (because this is D20) coming up with bunches of mechanical bits- feats, classes, gear, ect.... and to give everything a strong Lifer flavor, and make sure the faction has its own identity and play-style, I've been revisiting tons of the original research I did on the real world Army of God and anti-abortion terrorism as a whole.

And I realized something.... while a few books have come close, especially Risen & Thomas' Wrath of Angels, which I cited in the core book's bibliography, there hasn't really been a definitive text on the Army of God. So I got to thinking, I'm knowledgeable about the subject, passionate about it, and a pretty decent writer. So why not (and this is a while down the road) go a bit deeper into the rabbit hole, do some more research and put out a nice non-fiction book on the subject? A big true crime/political science hardback would look pretty kick-ass on my shelves.

Anyway, talk to you later,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Back In Kerrville

This weekend, I went up to San Antonio again to see some old friends. Had a great time, visited some awesome comic shops, and some outstanding restaurants. Now, I am back in Kerrville, TX.... a township which is, I kid you not, hosting a "Pro-Life Chili Cook Off and Adult Spelling Bee" later this month.

I'm not sure what I did to end up here, but here I am.

To take some of the bad taste out of my mouth, here's the cover art for an upcoming micro-sourcebook dealing with Choicer medics. Its by Vic Shane.

I'm also working on a mid-length "army book" for the Lifers, focusing on their hidden base at Kodiak Island and new equipment, feats and advanced classes for them. I just put out the call for artwork from Vic and Amanda for that book. I'm also still working on the PFRPG conversion of Black Tokyo, and just sold 100 new clerical spells to Louis.

Blessed Be,