Wednesday, February 27, 2013

SF Citybook Rough Sketches

 I love posting up preview art. Here are a couple of illustrations by Amanda Webb and John Picot which will illustrate San Francisco 2107.First, Amanda's rough inks of the Rhinehart Tower, a massive living and shopping complex in the heart of 22nd Century San Francisco's financial district. It's an Shadowrun-style arcology, really a mini-city in its own right. Amanda made it a lot more organic and frankly WEIRD than I had intended- I had envisioned Rhinehart Tower as a more conventional futuristic skyscraper, but I like the organic, chaotic look. A similar design evolution occurred with Felipe Gaona's cover to Frontlines of Choice, where Felipe made the Choicer abortion clinic a far stranger building than I had pictured. Something about Choicer tech and culture really lends itself to bio-technology.

The middle image depicts a Baby, Belly, Blankets retail store which will be illustrating the chapter on San Francisco's Lifer Enclave, which is located in the Hunter's Point area. She's been working more on her backgrounds, and it really shows in the detail of this frankly surreal image.

The BBB chain, by the way, is inspired by a real baby store with similar decoration I saw when I was living in Japan. When I saw it, I frankly stole the concept for use in Otherverse America.

Finally, we've got an Asatru heroine, by John Picot. I've been working with John and Amanda to come up with a cool mix of low-tech and high-tech that will define the Asatru faction. As you can see from the cover image I posted a few days back, there will be a ton of information about playing Asatru Choicer characters.

Also, sometimes when I write about Choicer neo-paganism, I get little bouts of synchronicity, similar to how a lot of practicing magicians report odd coincidences, strange dreams, and little omens in the days after they do a working. Lately, after working on the Choicer's Norse-faction, I've had a lot of Asatru related coincidences, not the least of which includes meeting several guys up here (or just passing through Kerrville on work) with Asatru or runic ink (both actual pagans which is awesome, and a couple of Neo-Nazis, which is less pleasant) which is itself deeply unusual this far deep into the Bible Belt. We also had record high winds, topping 45 mph, the other night, which caused all kinds of havoc down here, ripping off rooftops, toppling signs, taking down some powerlines and street lights, ect.

Anyway, enjoy the art,
Blessed Be,

Saturday, February 23, 2013

First Adventure for Black Tokyo: The Niishima Inn

Okay, I've been hesitant to try my hand at adventure writing for various reasons but yesterday I finally decided to pull the trigger on writing the FIRST Otherverse Games adventure. I came from work with a ton of ideas for an introductory adventure, for first level (or maybe 2nd level)  characters, set in the Tatakama.

Story wise, it's fairly simple. The best way I can describe it would be Keep on the Borderlands with hentai elements added to the mix. It introduces the Tatakama itself as a character, and shows just how WEIRD the world and its people are. I was going to say its fairly tame as far as Black Tokyo content goes, but the main villain of the adventure is a cruel, corrupt diamyo who likes to stab people with his flaming prehensile penis, not to mention an undead cat-girl who poisons people with the massive spider legs dangling out of her vagina. So yeah, its Black Tokyo, alright: a sort of fucked mix of traditional Japanese ghost stories and Legend of the Overfiend.

After I finish up The Niishima Inn adventure, I want to write some more short intro adventures for my other settings: at least one each for Otherverse America, Psi-Watch and Galaxy Command. I'll probably do the Galaxy Command one next, because that setting is so easy to write for.

So take a look at the first couple of pages of the Niishima Inn adventure... it's still very much a work in progress, but this should give you an idea of what you're in for.

Blessed Be,

Know, oh impetuous traveler, that the tale told now could happen in any village, anywhere within the endless twilight of the Tatakama. Know also that for the sake of our tale, these events unfold in the village of Niishima, and center on that village’s inn. Our tale concerns an avaricious and dishonorable samurai, a daring Yakuza who hails from the race of the skatto-folk, a love lost, and the ghost of a beautiful cat….

The Niishima Inn is a short introductory adventure for first level characters venturing into the strange, twilight world of the Tatakama for the first time. The Niishima Inn adventure heavily references Races of the Tatakama (Otherverse Games, 2012). The other books in the Black Tokyo series (Otherverse Games 2009-2013) will also be helpful, but are not strictly necessary. Standard monsters and NPC stat blocks can be found in these works by Paizo Publishing: the Bestiary and the Game Mastery Guide.

Niishima (large town)
LN Tradetown of the Tatakama

Corruption +3; Crime -5; Economy +1; Law +4; Lore +1; Society -5
Qualities Cruel Watch*, Rumormongering Citizens, Tourist Attraction
Danger +5

*starred qualities found in Cityscapes (Otherverse Games, 2012)

Demographics mostly (95%) human, with a small scattering of Akaname (2-3%) living among the Burakumin clans, and a few more exotic folks, such as Kitsune and Tanuki scattered among the populace
Government Overlord (Lord Genjiro Miyoshi)
Population 2,322 hiemin or members of higher caste, 78 burakumin in their own segregated village near the garbage dump. Large transient population of merchants, farmers and other travelers.
Notable NPCs
·         Lord Genjiro Miyoshi, Diamyo of Niishima (LE Male human samurai Fighter 5)
·         Lady Moeko Miyoshi (NE Female human nobility Sorcerer 3)
·         Daichi Abe, local Yakuza badass (CN Male Akaname burakumin Rogue 2)
·         Ren Mota, owner of the Niishima Inn (CN Male Takunki hiemin Commoner 3)
·         Isumi Kato, mistress of the Hotei Theater (CG Female Dodoma hiemin Rogue 3)
·         Sumiko, mistress of the Pale House (LN Female human hiemin Expert 4)
·         Miwako the Shit Witch (LG Female human burakumin Witch 3)
·         Eiji, wronged and brokenhearted peasant (LN Male human burakumin Commoner 1)

Base Value 2,800 gp; Purchase Limit 10,000 gp; Spellcasting 5th
Minor Items 3d4 items; Medium Items 2d4 items; Major Items 1d4 items

            Niishima village is a place much like other bastions of civilization found throughout the Tatakama. It is located in a wide clearing located in the endless, chill forests of the dream-like world. Niishima River flows through the settlement, neatly segregating the homes and businesses of the hiemin and their betters from the eta village across the water. Fields for wheat and flooded rice paddies provide for the villager’s sustenance, and employ most of the townsfolk. During harvest time, everyone trudges into the fields, no matter their station, to gather rice to the sound of drums.

            Niishima has grown in the shadow of one of the roots of the massive Great Tree around which is found the flat disk of the Tatakama. One of the Great Tree’s smallest and most pitiful roots grows near the village’s heart- it reaches into the vermillion sky farther than a man can see, until it joins the other roots and branches of the Great Tree that block the sky. At night, the stars and the enormous moon are visible through the branches, as is the modern Earth Realm, lit by technology, visible almost directly over head. The sun, however, never shines in the Tatakama, and its natives have no word for it.

            The forest around Niishima is a half-world place. Dreams of the Earth Realm plague some of Niishima’s sleepers, revealing long suppressed memories of their previous mortal incarnations somewhen in Black Japan. Anachronistic ideas and artifacts are still remarkable here, but are not truly what you would call uncommon. And relics of the Earth Realm occasionally find their way into the forest, as you shall see during your stay in Niishima….

Friday, February 22, 2013

My New Tattoo

Last night, I took some of my income tax return and invested in new ink. My choice: Dave Trampier art of the Displacer Beast from the first Monster Manual. The Displacer Beast has been one of my favorite D&D critters for a long time, and I liked the simplicity of the image.

I ended up getting this bad boy on my right rib, a couple of inches below my nipple. The tattoo I got is about palm sized, maybe a little smaller. It's healing just fine, and looks great.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

San Francisco Citybook

Okay, over on the right is a mock up of the San Francisco 2107 cover. The foreground image is a shot of three Choicer heroes (left to right, a Gardnerian knife fighter, Lady Sylvia Moondark, a politician, and an Asatru clinic defender) by Amanda Webb. The background image is a shot of the city of San Francisco itself by Felipe Gaona. I may swap the background for a new image in the final product, or leave the cover like this.

What I've decided is that I will combine my two projects into one larger and more impressive book. The Choicer Player's Guide will become part of the San Francisco citybook, as many of the concepts in the Choicer PG directly reference concepts found in the Citybook. So consider this an awesome campaign guide, filled with about a 180 pages of content, split roughly down the middle between fluff and crunch.

I'll preview some more stuff for San Francisco 2107 over the next few days. I'm also still working on the Space Monsters series of PDFs and have finished off the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game stock art bestiary that's an outgrowth of that series. I've named the fantasy bestiary "The Nemesis Bestiary". Expect the Nemesis Bestiary and Space Monsters V3 in a couple of days, along with a Free20 weapons book for Galaxy Command. While I'm waiting on the last art for San Francisco 2107, I'm playing around with Black Tokyo Unlimited and with Space Monsters V4, which will probably be the biggest of the Space Monster books to date.

In other news, Amanda is starting her own web comic- she's got the better part of two chapters finished, so she's got a good backlog of material once her comic goes live. As soon as it does, I'll post a link. I've also contributed a short 'fill-in' script for her comic, which we'll see sooner or later, and I'm working together with her on a mid-length citybook/campaign guide for Pathfinder, focusing on the characters and setting of her comic.

Also, I just got my income tax return back, and I'm really enjoying that. So all in all, it's been a decent spring, with lots of releases to show for it.

Blessed Be,

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Stock Fantasy Monsters: The Royal Landwarden (CR 13)

I thought I'd preview my PFRPG Stock Art Bestiary (as yet unnamed). Like Space Monsters, this book will take cool stock illustrations and build an entirely new monster around them. It's been a fun diversion while I wait for the last art for the Choicer Player's Guide to come in. Tonight, the Stock Art Bestiary stands at 16 critters, and I expect to have around 20, maybe more, before I publish it.

This monster was inspired by the image on the right, which is produced by Malcolm McClinton of Inkwell Arts.

Royal Landwarden (CR 13)
Large LN Outsider (earth) 

XP 25,600
Init +13*         Senses Darkvision 90 ft, Tremorsense 30 ft, Perception +21*
Languages Common, Celestial, Terran and the official language of the kingdom it serves

AC 18 Touch 16 Flatfooted 13 (-1 size, +5 DEX, +2 equipment, +2 deflection)
HP 18d10 + 36 hp (135 HP)
FORT +10 REF +16 WILL +13
Weaknesses Impudence Weakens Her (see text)

Spd 40 ft
Melee +21/+16/+11/+6 (1d12+5 slashing, 17-20/x2) 
            Two +20 kicks (1d8+3 bludgeoning)
Ranged +23/+18/+13 Magic Stones (1d6+1 bludgeoning or 2d6 vs undead, 20 ft range increment)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 14th)
            Constant – Detect Snares & Pits
                        - Speak with Animals
            At Will – Magic Stones
            3x/day – Barkskin (+5 natural armor while active, to max AC 23)
                        - Call Lighting (3d6 electrical, DC 18)
- Wall of Thorns
1x/day - Summon Nature’s Ally VI (usually summons 1 Dire Bear or 1d4+1 Dire Boars or Dire Wolves)
            -Bestow Curse (only upon thieves from the territory- DC 18)
- Find the Path

Str 17 Dex 22 Con 15 Int 15 Wis 22 Cha 17
Base Atk +18 CMB +21 CMD 36
Feats Simple/Martial Weapons Proficiency, Light Armor Proficiency, Blinding Critical, Combat Expertise, Critical Focus, Great Fortitude, Improved Critical (longsword), Improved Feint, Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (longsword)
Skills Acrobatics +17, Climb +15, Handle Animal +15, Heal +17, Intimidate +15, Knowledge (geography) +18*, Knowledge (nature) +14, Knowledge (nobility) +14, Perception +21*, Sense Motive +17, Stealth +21*, Survival +21*
Gear +2 axiomatic greatsword, mwk leather armor, Ring of Protection +2, potion of haste, 3x/potion of cure moderate wounds (CL 10th)

Environment any forest (The Royal Landwarden limits her hunting to the designated boundaries of a specific royal preserve or hunting ground, and will not pursue trespassers past the self-imposed border of the territory.)
Organization always solitary
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

            Impudence Weakens Her (SU)
            Brazen poaching and brigandry both infuriates and weakens the Royal Landwarden. For a poacher to be so bold as to take game right in front of her eyes is an almost physically painful insult to the Landwarden. If an opponent kills a living creature  of at least Medium size native to The Territory within 100 ft of the Landwarden, she must succeed at a DC 25 WILL Save or be stunned for 2d4 rounds; success means she is only stunned for a single round.

            Take Not from the Territory (SU)
            The Royal Landwarden can instantly sense if a theft occurs anywhere within the Territory. For the Landwarden, theft is defined as the killing of an animal or the taking of fruit or vegetables (or spell components) from any plant within the Territory, without the King’s express permission. The Landwarden can sense the distance and direction to any such thief, so long as that thief remains within the territory, and receives a +10 insight bonus on Survival checks made to track that character.

            When the Landwarden uses any spell-like ability against such a thief that offers a saving throw, the victim must make two saving throws. If either saving throw fails, the victim is affected by the Landwarden’s spell-like ability.

            The Territory (EX)
            The Royal Landwarden makes her lair in a specific royal hunting preserve or forest, a territory that can easily encompass several hundred square miles, though most preserve a territory not much larger than five miles on any given side. Within this region, the Landwarden gains the benefit of a Ranger’s Favored Terrain class feature.

While within the Territory, the Landwarden receives a +4 bonus on Initiative checks (factored in), as well as Knowledge (geography), Perception, Stealth and Survival checks. The Landwarden does not leave a trail and cannot be tracked within the Territory, though she may elect to leave a trail if she wishes.


            The Royal Landwarden has the shape of a semi-human female a powerful eight foot tall, with a lithe and hard build. Her face is that of an older human woman, with serious, driven eyes and a dour expression. Her manner is that of a military officer, used to instance obedience and deference. Great horns rise from the crown of the Landwarden’s head, reflecting the kind of animals most prevalent in her Territory. The Landwarden’s feet are stag-like and allow her to move with unearthly grace.

Reports From The Field

            “The Royal Landwarden gives proof to the peasant superstition that the land and the king are one. Within a year and a day of his coronation, the Landwarden appears and takes residence in the King’s most beloved hunting preserve, a living symbol of the lord’s control over his lands and all within in. The Landwarden is a merciless harrier or poachers and trespassers. Only the King and those who carry a token presented by their lord can safely hunt in a protected royal preserve. Occasionally, the Royal Landwarden walks to the edge of her vigil, the body of some deer hunter slung over her shoulder; she impales the corpse at the edge of the forest as a warning to other miscreants.”
-         Sir Victor Tressellia, court historian

“Notes: hunts by sight, hearing. No better nose than my own. Doesn’t sleep, but eats. Good with a sword, faster than a stag. Too much druid type witchery for my taste. Predictable. Roves the Greenend in the same pattern and hasn’t spotted me yet.  Drinks at the J-bend in the river, leaves spoor by the puthak bush. I can take this one.”
-Dar Rutledge, local woodsman and legendary hunter, whose body was found impaled at the edge of the Greenend three days later.

            “King Hrothjul’s Landwarden has a familiar face. ‘Neath her horns, the beast is his mother, as she was when she bore him, more than 50 years afore. Land and mother are one, for kings, you know.”
            -Hymthan Silvermug, Dwarven bard

            “They are not summoned. No circle and candle invocation. Oh no, a Landwarden simply appears a year and a day after a king takes the throne. No Landwarden has ever served more than a single king, nor do they appear to queens, nor to regents. Only to kings. And don’t think of them as obedient servants either; they guard the king’s forests, mercilessly, that is all. They don’t go to war, don’t serve as bodyguards or court magiciains. These things would not lift a finger to aid their king if he lay bleeding at their hooves, and they’d slaughter the king’s only son if he went hunting in his father’s forest without permission.”
            -Thysis Oberon, summoner

Try the Landwarden out, see how she plays in your game. I'm also including roster of monsters as it stands tonight. Expect this to change a bit as I add more critters. 

Size, Alignment, Type
Challenge Rating
Stock Art Origin
Arcane Evolutionary
Large LE or LN aberration
CR 17
Michael Ng
Medium LE Aberration
CR 7
Purple Duck Games
Arm Taker
Large CE Aberration
CR 9
Purple Duck Games
Belly Ripper
Small NE Magical Beast
CR 1
Headless Hydra Games Clip Art
Counterfeit Man
Medium CE Aberration
CR 1
Black Hand Source
Diamond Owl
Small N Magical Beast
CR 3
Black Hand Source
Executioner’s Sphere
Medium N Construct
CR 4
Vic Shane
Green Node
Large N Plant
CR 6
Headless Hydra Games Clip Art
Haurusprex Owl
Large LE Magical Beast
CR 8
Ignus Innovations
Machine Angel
Large LG Outsider (angel)
CR 15
Cerberus Stock Art
Moor Spider
Gargantuan NE Magical Beast
CR 9
Headless Hydra Games Clip Art
Neon Imp
Small CN Fey
CR 5
Empty Room Studios Standard Stock Art
Petit Tarrasque
Huge N Magical Beast
CR 11
Purple Duck Games
Plague Rider
Small CE Aberration
CR 3
Empty Room Studios Standard Stock Art
Royal Landwarden
Large LN Outsider (earth)
CR 13
Inkwell Arts
Whore Eater
Medium NE Undead
CR 5
Black Hand Source

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Some Preview Art: Amanda Webb, The Choicer Player's Guide

Hey, I'm back at work. Over the last couple of weeks, I've sent three volumes in the Space Monster series to Mark, and I'm working right now on a fantasy version of the concept, using nothing but stock art to illustrate a monster manual. Right now, all the Space Monster PDFs are in the 20 page range, each describing 10 different monsters a piece, ranging from CR 1/2 Tribble analouges to CR 18 "Space Gods". The fantasy monster book will probably be a little larger, with at least 15-20 monsters with a similar range of Challenge Ratings.
I'll post some more previews of stock art monsters later, but today is all about new art. Here's some previews of Amanda Webb's artwork for the upcoming Choicer Player's Guide. 

Up top we have a depiction of a sacred prostitute/ living genetic engineering suite from the Hours of Weret Hekau subfaction of the Bastians. That lovely Transformers-styled mecha in the background is her bodyguard. I really dig the texturing Amanda did on the sarong and the body paint on the woman, which is reflected in the mecha's paint job.

 After that, we have an inked image of a pair of Asatru soldiers in a more relaxed moment. If you look really closely, you'll see some ghost images from the far side of Amanda's sketchbook, but that's easy to fix just by playing with the contrast, and don't be apparent in the finished, colored image. As I requested, the gave the Asatru a look that combined modern military gear with vaguely Nordic designs.... and has one of 'em reading a Thor comic.

The final image depicts a new character for the setting, the enigmatic Red Riding Hood. She is a mastermind that's shaped Choicer society from behind the scenes from the beginning, and is the superspy/terrorist Choice's mentor and chief backer.

She is also very loosely based on a real person.... in the fiction I've taken Marjorie Cameron's 'creation' in the Babylon Working as fact, and made her the very first "Philosophy created" person, a sort of distant ancestor of the Neverborn and Dreamborn Mau.

She's going to be a fun one to write.
Anyway, more previews later,

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sicker Than Sickest Dog

Yes, it's a quote from Bush (the awesome band, not the shoulda-been-impeached fuckhead). And yes, just last like last spring, the Flu Gods have seen fit to bless me with plague. I'm curled up with my Aliens Quadrology DVD set and half a ton of cold medicine. See you next week.