Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Choice: Texas [Support This Game!]

I just read an article about an indy videogame, in the form of a text-based RPG titled Choice: Texas. The game is a political statement by a couple of Austin game designers, Allyson Whipple and Carly Kocurek, which puts players in the shoes of woman trying to navigate Texas' various bullshit anti-abortion laws in hopes of getting the procedure done.

I'm including some links to the Jezebel article I read about Choice: Texas, as well as the game's Tumblr and the Indie-Go-Go page dedicated to funding the game. I plan to support it with my next paycheck, and both as a game designer who deals with the same subject often, and as a pro-choice Texan I'm very, very curious what Choice: Texas is going to be like to play.

First, I want to see how a different design crew, working in a different genre approaches the same struggles that define Otherverse America. Whipple, Kocurek and I all are coming from different backgrounds and with different types of stories in mind (theirs, reality based drama, mine military sci-fi), but we're both telling stories about abortion. Its gratifying to see another artist- more specifically, other game designers- tackle abortion as the focus of a game.

Second,since this will be a dramatic video game, it inherently is going to get more public attention than my odd little tabletop RPG will. With an article on Jezebel, Choice: Texas has already got several hundred times the media exposure my own work has. Good for them- I'm hoping lots of people play this game and learn something, even if only empathy.

As promised, some linkage:




Finally, a link to a Penny Arcade: Extra Credits webisode I watched the other week, talking about video games as propaganda and its effectiveness. Normally, propaganda games teach some pretty fuckin' loathesome values, so here's hoping Choice: Texas can teach basic DECENCY half as effectively.


Blesssed Be (and go fund this thing)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Accidental Sourcebooks

Heavy Future is an accidental sourcebook.

At the beginning of this month, I was mentally winding down from Black Tokyo Unlimited and looking for another project to focus on. My Sectaurs setting was, if not aborted, than at least put into cryo-stasis until later in the year. I had some ideas but no real passion for the work (Though I have almost enough I can publish a very solid race book riffing on Sectuars soon, and leave the world info for a later date.)

Heavy Future came out of nowhere. It was just an idea- do a grungy, sleezy, satirical space book for Galaxy Command, inspired mostly by crappy exploitation movies and Heavy Metal comics.

Somehow this idea has, over the course of about a month, blossomed into what is already a 150-175 page sourcebook. The book will likely top 200 pages before I’m done. Originally, I intended to include a monster chapter, but this will likely get moved to a stand alone PDF, simply due to the size of the project.

John Picot is doing more than just art. He’s contributed the core text for two of the sourcebook’s new races, and keeps sending various ideas for the world. At his urging, I’m making Heavy Future more of a Pathfinder compatible sci-fi product. Previously, I planed to use D20 Modern/Future with a dash of Pathfinder; at his urging I’ve flipped that, and made Heavy Future Pathfinder with a dash of D20 Modern/Future. It’ll still be compatible with Galaxy Command, but is built to take fuller advantage of the Pathfinder ruleset.

I previewed the Bounty Hunter Ranger archetype a few posts ago. Since then, I’ve added several new archetypes at John’s urging. There will be at least 3 new Bard archetypes, since rock & roll, and music in general plays such a key role in the setting. It’s interesting to see what John comes up with, because he builds things differently than I do.

For instance, he suggested a Barbarian archetype usable as a generic space marine. For me, I would of built the archetype as a modified Fighter but his logic in turning the Conan-style Barbarian class into a space suit wearing shipboard combat and boarding expert is intriguing.  It’s a very creative reversal of expectations and rules elements.

In addition, I’ve added several new Clerical Subdomains, in addition to the new Rock & Roll domain and its associated subdomains, Glam and Heavy Metal. Right now we’ve got Censorship (knowledge), First Contact (travel), Sex (charm) and Psychadelics (plant). I might add some more, but even those four new subdomains really add to the flavor of Heavy Future: vulgar and passionate, sleezy and R-rated, but definitely not mature.

Yesterday I finished off several new Sorcerer bloodlines: Ameriscum (white trash defenders of freedom) Electromedia (television mind controllers),  and Pornborn (x-rated modern fey, basically). Again, very flavorful and evocative. If you have any suggestions for weirdo bloodlines, leave ‘em in the comments.

My to-do list for Heavy Future is slimming down.

Right now, I want to add some more unique adventure sites and plot hooks to the gazetteer.

I’m also planning to add some setting specific feats and starting talents, because things are looking sparse in that sense.

After that, I’ll firm up the mundane weapons and gear lists. (I found a great timeline of genital-related slang on Io9 the other day, and plan to use this fine resource to name my guns. I want most of the weapons and items in this game to be named after obscure terms for dick and pussy from the 1930s, just because that makes me smile.)

Finally, some magic weapons. I had a great time writing up the 150 magic items in Black Tokyo Unlimited, and given how fucking over the top and bizarre Heavy Future is, it should be both easy and rewarding to build magic items for. Again, if you’ve got any suggestions, leave ‘em in the comments.

Anyway, that should whet your appetite for Heavy Future. (At this point, expect the Heavy Future PDF in a month or two.)

By the way, I’m waiting on the last 3-4 pieces of art for Closed: Monsters of the Army of God, the huge ‘monster book’ for Otherverse America. When I get those, I’ll likely take a weekend off from Heavy Future to lay out and release Closed.

I know, I know, I promised this book at the beginning of the year. It’s annoying me that it’s taking this long to get it out, but I want Closed to go out with all the art I can get for it, and I’d rather wait a little bit than release it half assed. Monster books are my favorite gaming products, and I want to make Closed great.

Finally, the art for this post is by John Picot. It depicts Shahteya, the Goddess of Strippers. Yes, stripper-nuns are a faction, this deity has clerics and grants spells. She's got an interesting relationship with the Imperial Church of the Galaxy, the big, theo-fascist bad-guy church, and should be fun to design powers and items for.
Blessed Be,

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Heavy Future: Power of Rock

I just received this WIP image from Amanda Webb, depicting two Heavy Future characters wielding Rockers. She'll color the figures, but sent along this background test image, just to see if I liked the star background.

I liked it enough I thought I'd post the black and white version here. Manda's inks are always great, and they look really striking against the stars.

Tonight I'm working on spells for the Heavy Future setting. I want a spell list almost as large (and setting specific) as The Modern Grimorie sourcebook I did a few months back.

More previews to come,


Monday, August 5, 2013

Another New Toy: MOTUC Man-E-Faces

I'm really growing to like the Big Lots near my home. Today, I stopped by to pick up some new towels and bedding and I found this guy- the MOTU Classics Man E Faces. This, as I mentioned a few years ago, is the first MOTUC figure I've picked up, and one I've been wanting. When I left the store today, they had several Auroras in her red tunic, quite a few Nameless Ones and Count Marzos plus a few more intriguing figures. However, none of them really captured my attention like Man E Faces did, though I will definitely keep an eye out the next time I'm at Big Lots. I'd love it if Optikk made his way to the clearance aisle, not to mention classic He-Man or any of the female characters (I really want the Green Goddess or classic Teela).

Man E Faces is the one character I've now owned all three versions of- the classic MOTU toy, the Mike Young cartoon version, and now this 6 inch badass. I've always loved the design- he's a Kirby-tech space barbarian wearing a costume that's half space suit and half gayclub leather boy.

As a toy, he's incredible, with tons of articulation. He's not as heavy as I imagined he would be. From the pictures I've seen on line, I assumed a certain heft to the MOTUC figures, especially given their retail price point. With the relatively lighter, softer plastic used, Man E Faces turned out to be quite a bit lighter than expected. His articulation, though is wonderful, and his action feature works exactly like the classic toy. However, Mattel included a second head drum, with three new faces- a generic He-Man face, Orko and Skeletor. I'm a traditionalist, so I'm keeping Man E Faces posed with his classic head drum (hero, monster, robot). Of the new faces, the Skeletor skull face is easily the coolest and might occasionally get display. By the way, Man E Face's monster face is exactly the way I've always pictured and described D&D Orcs in my games.

The paint choices are pretty nice. I would have preferred the more orange skin tone of the classic figure, but the flesh tone is growing on me. It makes Man E Faces seem more like a space barbarian than a superhero. I'm pleased with the way purple was used to unify the design. The purple detailing on the cheeks of Man E Face's robot and hero faces, not to mention Orko's scarf perfectly matches the rich purple on his pipes and armor plating, and looks great. I wish the design had integrated some of the monster or skull faces' green into the body- perhaps as detailing on the 'button' visible above the air tanks right above the figure's sternum? As it is, the lurid green used for the two monstrous faces seems out of place in an otherwise purple, peach and blue figure.

There's one thing I've always wondered about the character- did Jack Kirby have a hand in his creation. I know that in the early 1980s Kirby was doing character design work for animation, including work for Thundarr the Barbarian, but did he ever work on MOTU? I ask because the jagged, orange and purple 'war paint' on Man E Face's hero face looks very Kirby to me, and characters with weird or exaggerated heads is a Kirby staple (see the Red Skull, Arnim Zola, Modok, ect). His powers and general look have always given Man E Faces the 'Kirby creation' tag in my head, which may be why he's one of my favorite MOTU characters.

Blessed Be,


I’ve been working on Heavy Future pretty intensely for the last week or so. It’s a very satirical, make it up as I go setting that John and Amanda are both having a ton of fun working on. I’m including the most over the top, intentionally offensive stuff I can, in the spirit of bad 70s and early 80s sci fi. I’ve got a playable race of Jesus Clones serving as cyber-enhanced televangelists as a bad guy faction and I’m building a faction of Cosmic Satanist metalheads as anti-heroes. Here’s a sample of the metal-head aesthetic and future-Satanic flavor I’m adding to Heavy Future.


Rock Guns and Heavy Metal Starships

            Rock and roll is a weapon. Outlaw Sex Station 09 broadcasts galaxy-shaking heavy metal good honest hardcore pornography every second of every galactic day, hoping to shake Earth’s drone-citizens outta their complacency. And rock and roll can be a weapon in a tactical sense as well. Sex Station nomads and freelance journos are never more than arm’s length away from their main axes……

            Game Rule Information: Rockers
            Rockers are weaponized future guitars. They can be fired as a conventional single shot weapon as an attack action. Rockers are classified as Exotic Firearms, and can be used as electric guitars as needed.

However, a proficient wielder can choose to make a Perform (stringed instruments) check with the rocker as a full round action. Doing so allows the wearer to substitute her Perform check result for an attack roll. A Perform check result in excess of the target’s AC/Defense applies the overage as additional sonic damage; this additional damage is multiplied on a critical (nat 20 on the Perform check). For example, if Rawkzilla’s perform check with his Death Falcon is 22, and the target’s AC was 18, the target would suffer four additional points of sonic damage.

Recharging Rockers
The Rocker’s internal energy cell can not be recharged by conventional means. Once the internal energy cell is depleted, it can only be recharged by the wielder making a successful Perform (stringed instruments) check in combat. Anytime the Rocker is used in this manner, its internal energy cell is completely recharged.

Masterwork and METAL! Rockers
Any Rocker can be purchased as a masterwork quality version. Masterwork quality versions provide a +1 equipment bonus on Perform checks with them, and are marked by the machine applied chrome signature of some famous galactic guitar legend on the body.

METAL! rockers are even better, and provide a +3 equipment bonus on Perform checks with them. METAL! rockers have a critical threat range of 19-20, and are accompanied by holographic gold flames projected from the guitar; these flames lick across the musician’s fingers as he plays the rocker.

Superior Rocker
Base Purchase DC Modifier
Masterwork quality rocker
DC +2 (+1000 gp)
METAL! quality rocker
DC +5 (+2500 gp)

            Death Falcon Rocker
            The Death Falcon is a massive, high tech guitar with a golden raptor’s head built into the powerful guitar’s body. The raptor’s eyes flash with azure flames when it is used in battle, and the electronic falcon’s beak opens in a scream of rage when it is fired.

            Screaming Angel Rocker
            This sleek blue and white futuristic guitar has a body resembling an angel’s wings. When the guitar is played, the wings open up light a beetles shell, revealing glowing mechanisms within.

            Special: As a standard action, the Screaming Angel can produce a Shout as a spell-like ability with a caster level equal to the musician’s total character level. Each use of the Shout uses up a charge from the Screaming Angel’s energy cell.

Range Increment
Purchase DC
Death Falcon Rocker
2d8 sonic
50 ft
6 internal cell
6 lbs
DC 21 (3000 gp)
Res +2
Screaming Angel Rocker
2d6 sonic
100 ft
6 internal cell
8 lbs
DC 22 (3500 gp)
Res +2

Satan Maximus
CN Male Greater God

            Satan Maximus is a music-based ultra-computer created by 79th Century rebels. Knowing they could never defeat the omniscent Dues Futura in their time, with their dying act, the rebels sent Satan Maximus into the distant past. There, the passionate and decisive ultra-computer could battle his rival on a more equal footing, and with luck, prevent the horrific timeline from coming to pass in the first place. In a universe filled with power-hungry god machines, opposed only by emotionless and voracious space fungus, Satan Maximus presents the only hope for the future- the only place for humanity to flourish. However, Satan Maximus’ trip back through time sapped most of its power, and rather than a decisive victory, he fights a guerilla insurgency against the Dues Futura.

            Satan Maximus inspires adventurers, rebels and malcontents to both greatness and genocide. Satan Maximus desires and inspires change and conflict, and is the patron of heavy metal. Outlaw Sex Station 09 plays a hard drivin’ hymn to Satan Maximus every galactic midnight. Despite his fierce temper and violent pride, Satan Maximus teamed with Jesus I to assist the divinity in his struggle against the futuristic fungi, and even reluctantly teamed up with Jesus II to liberate Earth from the furries. Don’t expect the ICG to acknowledge either of those exploits however, as worship of Satan Maximus is heresy punishable by immolation…..

Hell’s Legions
CN-CG Male and Female Demigods   

            Satan Maximus’ hordes are an endlessly diverse assortment of joyfully chaotic, carnal terrorist-heroes. They blend human, machine and animal traits seemingly at random, wrap it all in leather, and prowl the cosmos looking for adventure, glory and a good hard fuck. The more compassionate demons actually try to keep their partners alive during and after the fuck; the rest are just considerate to make sure their lovers at least die in pleasure as they are consumed by the demon’s inhuman strength and burning fluids. Some adventurers and musicians are inspired/tempted/provoked by a particular cosmic demon.

            Some of the most famous cosmic demons include:
  • Apoloyn Atomos, demon of zero point energy and politically motivated snipers
  • Bahomess Battara, demoness of anal play, sexual equality and first contact (a Pacifican favorite)
  • Chainblade Ceres, demoness of martial arts and surgical/cybernetic body modification 
  • NanoSkale Luciifur, demon of morally unconstrained science and high tech sabotage
  • Sixgun Satanica, demoness of orgies, political kidnappings and revolvers
  • Tantalos Tripwire, demon of bomb making, peaceful protests and knowing which tactic to use and why in any given situation

(associated sub-domains)
Favored Weapon
Satan Maximus
Darkness, Destruction (rage), Liberation (both), Luck (fate), Madness, Magic, Rock N Roll * (heavy metal), Strength (ferocity)
Hell’s Legions
Usually CN or CG
Charm (lust), Earth (both), Fire (both), Trickery (deception), War (tactics)
Rocker or Great Axe

New Clerical Domain: Rock N’ Roll
            Play it loud enough, rock n’ roll can change the galaxy. Play it long enough, and even those fascist fuckwads will start singin’ along. Satan Maximus played the first rock song on his 666 stringed electric guitar, and rock is his greatest weapon against complacency and hypocrisy. Rock on!

            Heavy Metal and Glam are Rock N’ Roll’s subdomains.

Granted Powers: Priests serving the screamin’ temple of rock do double duty as frontmen for their bands. Add Perform (any musical) to the Cleric’s list of class skills. Clerics with this domain receive Exotic Weapon Proficiency (rocker) as a bonus feat.

First Level: As an immediate action, you can unleash a Power Riff on your Rocker. All enemy creatures within 5 ft per four cleric levels suffer 1d4 points of sonic damage, plus an amount of energy damage equal to your CHA modifier. When playing a Power Riff, you choose whether this additional damage is Cold, Fire or Sonic damage, and the riff you play changes to reflect your choice. You may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your CHA modifier.

Eighth Level:  Starting at 8th level, once per day, you can conjure a Galactic Tourbus, a massive vehicle capable of carrying up to 100 Medium sized passengers and all their gear in rock n’ roll luxury. Using this ability requires a one minute performance, and once conjured the Galactic Tourbus will remain real for one hour or until it is commanded to depart, before fading back into unreality with the stench of diesel and Glow joints.

            The Rock N’ Roll cleric who conjured the Galactic Tourbus can command it to close its doors and teleport without error to any world or space station the Cleric has ever previously visited, or any world where the Cleric has previously announced he or she will visit to perform. Regardless of the distance teleported, it takes the Galactic Tourbus about 2d4 hours to cover the distance; the travelers party hard on the bus during this time.

Domain Spells: 1st Chord of Shards, 2nd Piercing Shriek, 3rd Gallant Inspiration, 4th Thunderous Drums, 5th Denounce, 6th Heroic Finale, 7th Deafening Song Bolt, 8th Vengeful Outrage 9th Overwhelming Presence

Heavy Metal Subdomain
            If it ain’t metal, it ain’t shit. You favor driving guitar riffs and florid Satanic lyrics to prog-rock inspiration to heroism.

Granted Powers:
First Level: As an attack action, you can unleash a Metal Storm on your Rocker. This forms a cone of heavy metal fury 15 ft at first level, that increases by +5 ft for every four cleric levels. All creatures caught within the Metal Storm suffer 3d6 points of Sonic Damage (WILL DC 15 half) The Metal Storm deafens all creatures caught within for one round per four cleric levels (WILL DC 15 negates). The Cleric can use Metal Storm a number of times per day equal to 3 + his CHA modifier.

Domain Spells: 2nd Mad Hallucination, 3rd Ghostbane Dirge, 4th Vision of Hell

Glam Subdomain
            You’re a beautiful slightly androgynous long haired rocker boy. You got into the rock game for all the kinky sex.

Granted Powers:
First Level:  When unleashing a Power Riff, you may choose to have it deal Pleasure damage in addition to Cold, Fire or Sonic damage. Otherwise your Power Riff functions identically to the standard Rock N’ Roll granted power.  

Eighth Level: Beginning at 8th level, gender becomes a mere social construct for you, something you can alter with a thought. At will, as a move equivalent action, you can change your gender and sexual orientation. You may choose to either be male, female or hermaphaditic, and choose what creatures (if any) you are considered sexually attracted to. This transformation lasts indefinitely, until you choose to change it again. Thanks to your androgynous shifting ability, you receive a bonus on Disguise checks equal to ½ your Cleric class level.

Domain Spells: 1st Unnatural Lust, 5th Cloak of Dreams, 6th Joyful Rapture, 9th Waves of Ecstasy