Monday, December 3, 2012

Sorry Folks, no Santicore PDF


Crappy news; I can't keep up my commitment to getting the Secret Santicore PDF document created in time for the holiday season. The combination of moving overseas, obligations to clients and family, and my old man dying on the weekend has unfortunately gotten the best of me and I can't see any realistic way I can get it done. So I have to let it go.

I want to thank Chris, Dallas, Erik, Mike and Trey for all their excellent wranglework so far, you guys have been awesome. Thanks also to the various creatives who were willing to stump up their time for layout, illustration and editing, it would have been champion. Lastly thank you to all the Santicorians for their efforts in creating their gifts. Rest assured that everyone involved will have their creations delivered to their lucky Secret Santicorian. If you want to make any changes to what you've created by all means do so, just let either myself or you wrangler know. 

It sucks, and I wish I could make it happen somehow, but no.

Sorry, Jez.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Art from The Magnificent Joop van Ooms

The Magnificent Joop van Ooms has been out for a little while now (with what I think is THE BEST RPG COVER ART OF THE YEAR by Jason Rainville) and I'm able to show some of the interior illustrations that James Raggi asked me to do. I figure it's also a good time to post a couple of the pieces that didn't make the cut.


Joop van Ooms, Giles de Rais, and Henry VIII.


Amsterdam Killers. 

The next few pieces cover stuff that was mentioned in the book; late in the production it was decided to drop the page count, so these ideas - some close to the mark, some a little off - were left unfinished. 


A statue from Joop van Ooms' collection. The steaming whatever from the eyes was a little too magical, and the space was gobbled up with copy following the page drop so it didn't get reworked.


Joop van Oom's working prototype of Da Vinci's helicopter. James wanted something alot smaller and flimsier; I liked the idea of the characters lifting off from some ravenous crowd of heretic burners.


A rougher sketch of Oom's golden cannons opening fire. With the drop in page count this wasn't needed anymore and wasn't developed further. I did envision the sky full of Da Vinci choppers. Woulda been silly but cool.




Porphyry : title page and more

Two more pieces for Kyrinn S. Eis' upcoming release.
Both big, time consuming illustrations, but totally worth it.





Friday, November 2, 2012

I sense something, something I've not felt since...

Illustration by Paul Shipper
....well, since 1981. Back when I was 7, in the golden era after Empire Strikes Back and before the release of Revenge Return of the Jedi, back when I was in the middle of an epic Star Wars maelstrom, of toys and cards and afternoons full of action figures, of lunchtime re-enactments of the Battle of Hoth, of coloring books and endless drawings and recording cassette tapes of me reading my Empire storybook, stealing bubblegum cards off other kids and losing my whole collection when my parents found out... and through it all, this awesome sense of anticipation, knowing that it was only three years to go till we found out what happened to Han, till we found out what Jabba the Hutt looked like, till we found out if Darth Vader really was who he said he was...

...and I guess it was something similar, if a little less heartfelt, to how things were in 1999, pre-Phantom Menace. The anticipation for the prequels, how awesome they might just be. Lucasfilm sure knows how to make a good trailer; the Menace previews only stoked that fire.

And we were totally burned.

Despite how disappointing Phantom Menace and its sequels were, there is still much to admire about them. The production design, the creatures, the costumes, the choreography of the duels and space battles (take a look at all the duels across the entire series, the Maul v Jinn and Kenobi sequence is second only to Luke's confrontation of Vader in ESB). Technologically the prequels were outstanding. Organically they were awful. You'd think the guy who preached to us in our youth about technology and the dark path would have listened to his own lesson, but it wasn't to be.

And then this Disney thing rocks on out of the blue, and the promise to return to Star Wars on the big screen... and there she is once again. That sense of anticipation.

Knowing how disappointing the prequels were, how can I justify the feeling? Easy. The revisionist touch of Lucas will be gone. His circle of yes men will (hopefully) be gone. Fresh blood will be spilled on clean slates. And while they're at it these are the things I hope they consider when going about creating the new series:

• Don't pander to the fans: dropping the Jabba the Hutt scene into the reissues of A New Hope was bad enough - apart from being poorly done, it destroyed the foreshadowing of Jabba's presence throughout ANH and Empire... but worse, dropping Boba Fett into that scene, and have him totally break the fourth wall with his knowing nod to the camera? Awful. Please don't do it. Every cutaway to some throwaway EU character is a waste of time and pace. Star Wars fans will flock to this no matter what ends up on the big screen; use that opportunity to show them something awesome, different, revolutionary... something that builds on what's gone before, without obsequiously kowtowing to it.

• Drop the creative incest:  I'm not talking the Luke and Leia smooch. I'm talking the inverted nature of the prequels bending over backwards in attempts to link them with the originals. Annie built 3P0? Urgh. Yoda and Chewie were BFFs? Groan. R2 had jet-engines? Why the hell didn't he use them in the originals? Each one of those heavy handed links and retcons destroys the plausibility of the setting and make the Star Wars universe feel smaller and smaller when really it should be gobsmackingly grand. Finding out about Luke's father was enough. We didn't need to know about Boba's family history as well (you'd think the lesson would have been learnt after they showed us Chewie's).

Bascially you have a whole frickin' galaxy of awesome to mess with. Please please please don't take us back to Tattooine again. 

• Give us mystery, not explanations: It's like a magician showing how he does it tricks. It kills the magic. We didn't need to know how the Force worked. And the clumsy way it was handled replaced mystery with confusion and disappointment. No more thanks.

• Less Jedi, more scum and villainy: And no cutsy shit like Ewoks or that double headed commentator from the Pod Race either (shudder). You showed us bodies burned to the bone in the original film. I was 4 when I saw that on the big screen. Seriously, I'm not scarred. We like bad guys.

• Give us complicated multifaceted characters, not cardboard cut outs: It really isn't that hard to do. Trust us, we can take it. We're not stupid and our kids aren't either. Han being badass and shooting Greedo before he even squeezed the trigger makes his evolution from cold hearted killer to good guy more powerful. Annakin in the Clone Wars series is waaaaay more interesting than in the prequels.

• Less whining, more banter.

• Get experienced nobodies to play the leads (especially if you're not going to give them much direction): Otherwise it's just the junkie from Trainspotting hamming it up alongside the girl from Leon and mister furious vengeance from Pulp Fiction. At least with Hayden we had no idea who he was, and, like Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford when we first saw them, they had no cinematic baggage along for the ride.

• Get seasoned hacks to anchor them in support roles: It worked with Sir Alec and Sir Christopher, and let's be honest, you frickin' owe it to Mark Hamill to resurrect his acting career after it was sacrificed on the altar of Skywalker (seen Slipstream? he was good in that). Obviously it's going to be about the Skywalkers anyway, so seeing Luke go all Unforgiven would be cool (and it's ok to pander to the fans on that one point).

• Less is more: There's a reason the actors from the prequels complained about excessive use of greenscreen. They hate it, and it shows on the big screen. But if you're going to insist on it, take the time to get it right (like Peter Jackson did).

• As much as you'd like to blow gazillions on the effects, blow it on the script instead: Seriously, get the best. I'd much rather an awesome story with great dialogue, plot, and characterizations instead of MOOOOOOAAAAAARRRRR CGI. We know Lucasfilm has effects in the bag. Disney and Pixar have some amazing writers on tap. Pretty please, use them.

So yeah, I'll be there in 2015 with my then 7 year old and 5 year old boys, full of anticipation that this will be the start of something golden, and as long as Disney does these things, these new Star Wars films should totally rock. And honestly, what I've thrown up there isn't that hard to do, especially when you have the bank balance to back this up and the audience that Star Wars guarantees.

So please don't stuff up... otherwise you'll end up with things like this...




Friday, September 21, 2012

SECRET SANTICORE 2012: Off and Racing!

All the requests are in, and all have been given to their Secret Santicore, so I get to suck daiquiris and club seals for a few weeks til they start rolling in.

PORPHYRY YOU IS GOING DOWN.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

MUTANTOR!!!! : Design ideas


Some design ideas for MUTANTOR!!!....

--- Make everything in the game unstable and under constant threat of mutation. The right combination of random will occasionally bestow characters with the ability to change the world around them. Not just the characters' freaky powerz, not the abominations that roam the land, or the twisting land itself, but the fabric of reality, and of the game. When that opportunity comes, the player chooses how much of their character they're willing to risk and sacrifice in order to change what they want. No idea if this would suck or be awesome.

--- Where possible get the players to do the rolling. I do like this idea. I know it's nothing new, but I'm intrigued by it. Less work for the GM is always good in my book.

--- With the "players make all rolls" thing in mind, instead of making constant calculations for each roll, simply rate each situation to see if the character is at an advantage, a disadvantage, or it could go either way (need catchy terms there). Then take that idea and using the roll 3 dice and pick one mechanic that I've been working on,:

If the character has a clear advantage, roll 3 six sided dice and pick the highest.
If the character has a clear disadvantage, roll 3 six sided dice and pick the lowest.
If the character is roughly matched, roll 3 six sided dice and pick the middle.

It makes it really easy for the GM to make a snap call on the difficulty. Where it may encounter issues in the lack of bredth. A good swordsman against a peasant has the same chance of finishing them off as the greatest duelist in the world. In a rules lite game that... could work. In something more detailed, not so sure.

It'd be pretty easy to add a greater disadvantage: roll 3 six sided dice, and you only score if you roll a double or triple. And maybe if you're a a great advantage you could choose one of the 3 dice rolled and reroll it and hope for a better result.

--- The Arena. Going way out here, but say MUTANTOR!!! enters the world as a box set... it would be cool to have inside say the lid of the box is where all the dicerolling gets done. If it ISN'T player rolls everything, but player vs GM rolls, then the aggressor would roll first and the defender rolls second, with the option of hitting the aggressor's dice if they're scored a good roll. And with say the Greater Advantage idea above, instead of rerolling one of those dice, instead they get to add a fourth dice to their roll and can try and hit either any of their own duds, or try to hit their opponent's dice to alter their result. There's something really combative and bastardly about this idea... could be a lot of fun....

.... unless you were playing this online. There would have to be an alternate option for non-physical rolls (well non-shared physical space).

---- OH GODS. an RPG popup book. that would fuck online piracy....

Monday, September 10, 2012

DARK SUN : Altaruk


The freetown of Altaruk, from my Dark Sun campaign. I checked a fair bit of the source material too before designing it so alot of the names are legit.

The only thing different about my DS campaign was I set it prior to the hoohaa that went down at Tyr, and that I made the lizardlike Dray a playable race. You can't have this killer Brom critter on the cover and then tell the players they can't be one:


Dark Sun. Definitely my favourite official D&D setting.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

SECRET SANTICORE 2012!!!




Secret Santicore 2012 is here! From now til midnight Friday 14th September, Santicore will hear your pleas for succor and do his damnest to deliver! 

Everybody who wants in click on the link below and fill out their request for some specific brand new campaign material--a new race, a location, a one-shot adventure outline, a random table, whatever. The idea is to be as specific as you need to be, but not too greedy (ask for a page or two of material). 

Then I'll mix all the requests up and send them back out to the people who entered. Everybody gets the requests that weekend of the 14th-16th, and then they have til midnight Sunday 30th September to write up something matching the request and email it back to me. Only two weeks?! I hear you say? Last year everyone had two weeks and everyone delivered on time (nearly).I UPDATE: make that MIDNIGHT SUNDAY OCTOBER 7TH. I can be a little flexible, but do try to meet that deadline so that the frothing team of Santicore's Little Helpers can sink their chiseled fangs into it and ensure your gift can be included in the collected PDF that (Santicore willing) will be released just before the holidays kick in. And if you can't wait to share it til then, put it on your blog or wotnot.

Bewdy!


__________________________________________________________________

REQUESTS FOR SECRET SANTICORE HAVE NOW CLOSED, SORRY.

__________________________________________________________________


• Be as specific as you need to be, but don't get greedy. Asking for a d20 table is cool, and a d100 table if you're lucky. but a d1000?--better let your Secret Santicore know that going that extra 900 miles is optional. Asking for a structure is cool, a whole mega-dungeon isn't.
• If you just want art or a map, that's cool too. This year thirteen artists and cartographers have been awesome enough to help out and I'll make sure your request goes to one of them.

• The original requester's name and e-mail address will be on the request unless s/he specifically asks otherwise.

• One request per person. Santicore likes the taste of people who break this rule.

• All human undertakings involving interactions between strangers involve a capacity for misunderstanding and idiocy. Secret Santicore is a gift horse. Do not look it in the mouth. No bad-mouthing people for what they ask for or provide. Serious and simulatory requests may get gonzo answers, gonzo requests may get serious answers, c'est la vie. If you're worried, try to be specific in your request so you get something you can really use.


• If you commit to something - a request, or helping out behind the scenes - then find you can't come through with the goods that's perfectly okay, life happens, as long as you let me know as soon as you know. 

• None of this stuff should get used commercially unless the person who wrote it gets paid.


• While Secret Santicore sprang from the loins of the OSR DIY movement, there's zero reason you can't request something for your sci-fi/supers/horror/whatever-game. You don't have to request D&D-specific stuff. I bet anybody could handle a sci-fi or super request--but just be aware that the pool of people responding to your request will be the pool of people who read Playing D&D with Pornstars and act accordingly.

• This is Open Content.


• I reserve the right to completely fuck this up, but will try very hard not to. If I get swamped with requests, it might be a little late. I'll do my best.

• On the tiny chance that I get absolutely hammered with a bazillion requests I'll have to limit the numbers to some arbitrary figure, based on what I think is possible to deliver within the time frame available. If it's just too big, I'll make sure that your request gets delivered via email, but I might have to limit the numbers on what goes in the PDF. Will reserve judgement on that one.

• Don't post your request in the comments below or email it to me. Use the form. Or Santicore will suck your neurons out your nose.

• Still got questions? Email me on malignicant at gee male dawt calm.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

Calling all Santicore's Little Helpers....


After the "award-winning" success of last year's Secret Santicore and the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of requests for more of the same I would like to announce that very soon I will announce Secret Santicore 2012.

BUT BEFORE THEN... I need to get a few things in order.

Basically I was able to wrangle Santicore into shape last year because:

a) I had no idea what I was getting into
b) I was pretty much unemployed and had time to burn
c) it was my first foray into rpglandia and I wanted it to work
d) you would have all laughed hearty mocking laughs if I had failed to deliver.
BUT I DELIVERED (a couple of days late but you were all too fat and full of santicoremas lard and pudding to care).

HOWEVER I COULD NOT HAVE DONE IT without the generous contributions and support of an awesome team of Little Helper Elves. Who are only now returning from the round-the-world tickets they scored (not from me).

This year things are a little different cause:

a) I know what I'm getting into
b) I am now so overworked I clock in about 4 hours of sleep a night as it is.
c) There might be a few more people who want to give give give (and receive) so it might be a little bigger
d) I just happen to be selling my house, moving overseas, looking for a job and wrangling devil midgets all before Santicoremas.

SO... if Secret Santicore is to happen again, I just can't shoulder as much of the burden as I did last year. So a coupla things: one, I know no-one's feeling all Santicorey yet, but the sooner I get this thing rolling the better so I can have a couple of months to get this thing sorted instead of 3 weeks, and two:

I NEED YOUR HELP TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

If you are:

• an rpg artist who'd be willing to contribute an illustration or two or three;
• a graphic designer willing to layout a couple of articles in Indesign;
• an editor with an eagle eye willing to proofread a few pages;
• a project wrangler happy to oversee some of the production; or
• just an awesome slab of humanity willing to give blood, sweat, bones and thinkmeat to the cause...

LET ME KNOW ASAP by emailing malignicant at geeeeee male dawtcalm with an indication of what you think you'd be willing to contribute.

MANY THANKS IN ADVANCE TO ALL WHO HEED THE CALL. Santicore is watching the rest of you veeeeerrrrrryyyy closely indeed.

AWESOMELY NIFTY SS LOGO by the unestimable Jeremy Duncan. HE WHO NOW SITS BY SANTICORE'S TREMBLING KNEE. FEAR HIM.

Bewdy

Jez

UPDATE: Just to be clear, this is a call out for people to help organise and create everything around the actual Santicore requests and articles, not the articles themselves; that call out for those requests will come soon.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

REBEL SCUM

So Scrap did this:


and then did this:


then Zak did this:


and Rey did this:


ergo Ian did this:


thence John did this:


compelling Trent to do this:


which made me do this:

:)




Santicore 2012, Lulu, Porphyry, LotFP and Stuff

I'm calling this one early: the Misers have it by basquillion to one, so I'll start prepping a black and white version of Secret Santicore for Lulu. Which I completely get given the price diff, but still, would like to see in in colour one day...

...but none of this happens til I've slain the mighty beast that is Porphyry. Over the hump but still a fair whack of illustrations to go, big push over the next fortnight to try this wrapped up pronto. Cause on the horizon lurks two if not three FOUR modules for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Great Adventure Campaign, plus a few more surprises from James Raggi, as well as the designwork for The Secret DM's Gary Gygax Birthday Competition Thing.

I'm kinda disappointed that more of Raggi's adventures didn't fund. I had put my hand up to do all 16, which prolly would have broken me, so that's a relief; and in a way not having so many is good thing:

I'll have time to put together Secret Santicore for 2012.

The catch is that at some point late November/early December I'll be moving country – which means packing and selling the house, selling the kids, all the usual. I'm kinda expecting there to be a few more Santicore entries than last year, too. The combination means preparations will have to be in place preeeetty early, and I'll probably have to share the load a little to git it dun in time. I'll be putting out the call for artists and editors and proofers and wranglers soon. You have been warned :)

Gotta say it's been a good year for gaming. A very good year. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Death Love Doom

So my first major design job for James Raggi has pretty much wrapped up: a horror throwdown for Lamentations of the Flame Princess that rocked up out of nowhere two weeks ago.

Cover art, cartography, and layout by me, but no illustrations, for reasons all explained here.




Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Secret Santicore: Poll for your print preferences

K so Secret Santicore 2011 will soon be made available in print thru Lulu! Only question is do peeps want GLORIOUS COLOR or MISERLY BLACK AND WHITE. Either way I'm only gonna prep the files once, so... if you care at all, please make the gargantuan effort to click on the poll just over there on the right side of this blog. You've got til end of the July to speak your mind OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE.

Also, a truckload of typos have been sorted and a coupla new pieces of art dropped in – big thanks to S.L. Shirley and Boric Glanduum for the proofing, and Jeremy Duncan for the extra arty goodness.

SO GO GET YOUR SHINY NEW PDF NOW. CLICK HERE.

A gallery of stuff I've scribbled


I've added a gallery of illustrations to the blog, mainly some of the recent work
I've been doing for Kyrinn S.Eis' Porphyry and Santicore stuff,
as well as some older pieces. Its where I'll be keeping my faves.
Click here to go see, or on the three-eyed hag face on the right of the page. 
Hope you like'em! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

MUTANTOR!!! wtf?



Some setting notes about my slowly gestating game from a chat on G+ about stonepunk:

MUTANTOR!!!! is weirdgrim stonepunk. 'Punk' is a rejection of social norms: in a neolithic society that means rejecting the tribe and going your own way. Only it's a dangerous world: you wanna eat well, you gotta hunt as a pack. so these outcasts and exiles need to find other outcasts and exiles they can work together with but still maintain their own self-determination. That's the setup for the PCs, ostracised punks who have to get along just to survive: adventure follows. Each tribe they're from has its own cultural mores, so they're all rejecting something different. If it ever sees the light of day, during character creation you create the tribe you've left behind:


Zak's Barbaric Tribe Generator was my Secret Santicore request for a reason.

Stonepunk is also riffing on its steampunk predecessor. With steampunk you've got technological innovation and wild possibilities... with stonepunk you've got the same thing, just with a different technology. so the world of MUTANTOR!!! is on the cusp of technological evolution, and it requires people who aren't prepared to do things the way the ancestors did things for thousands of generations. It requires people who see things differently... punks who'll experiment and fuck things up and try the new cause they're all about rejecting the old. The PCs, once again. Only it's not just the jump from hand axes to bows and primitive blades, it's stonepunk, so it's about stonebased technology - henges, stone circles, ziggurats and pyramids... architecture as a machinery - and seeing what it can power, as much as smaller ideas - stonepunk weaponry and what rockart can bring into existence.

So take that, make everything a mutant, make the land a living entity infected by cancerous dungeon infestations, make it gritty and bloody and horrible and set it at the south pole with days and nights that last a year and everyone fears the Warriors from the Meat Moon.... well that's MUTANTOR.



more stuff about the game here

Sunday, July 8, 2012

DCC: d100 Weird Urban Occupations

100 slightly more colorful Occupations for your 0-level funnel runners, written up for use over at Purple Sorcerer's character generator.

I haven't provided any racial occupations, I kinda think anyone could be any of these. If it's important to your campaign, roll here:

01-85 Human (or most common race)
86-95 Dwarf (or second most common race)
96-99 Halfling (or third most common race)
100 Elf (or least common race)



d100 WEIRD UBRAN OCCUPATIONS (with weapon and gear)


01 Sweat-milker, Wooden pail (as club), Apron
02 Muck-racker, Crusty rake (as polearm), Soiled smock
03 Slurry-runner, Staff, Thigh-high boots and sweaty rags
04 Limb-strainer, Large bloody sieve (as club), Spare hand
05 Filth-cutter, Scissors (as dagger), Leather smock
06 Wine-walker, Bottle of piss* (as club), Barrel of wine
07 Lick-spitter, Wooden pail (as club), Breath mints
08 Boot-licker, Shoelaces (as garrote), Boot polish and brush
09 Chattel-poker, Prong (as spear), Manacles and key
10 Slug-wrangler, whip (as garrote), Jar of salt 
11 Worm-breeder, Bucket full o' worms* (as club), Fishing hooks and twine
12 Snail-picker, Sack full o' snails* (as blackjack), Bag of rotting lettuce
13 Toad-flicker, Jar of flies* (as sling), Pet toad
14 Boil-maker, Scalpel (as dagger), Jar of infected cultures
15 Mud-farmer, Rake (as polearm), Cart full o' mud and broadrimmed hat
16 Scab-welder, Ritual knife (as dagger), Surgeon's bag and bandages
17 Wood-hacker, Axe, Bundle of wood and scrimshaw
18 Book-burner, Weighty tome (as blackjack), Flint'n'steel and flask of oil
19 Piss-taker, Hose pipe (as garrote), Glass jar
20 Under-strainer, Large sieve (as club), Sewer-trinkets   
21 Skin-weaver, Dagger, Leather-working tools
22 Fancy-prancer, Cane (as club), Outlandish clothing
23 Tongue-dancer, ribbons (as garrote), Vial of hallucinogenic delights
24 Stare-giver, Blackjack, Vial of chloroform 
25 Gift-taker, Hook staff (as spear), Sack o' stolen presents  
26 Crave-digger, Shovel (as short sword), Coat full o' soporific lollies 
27 Sword-breaker, hammer and tongs (as mace), bag o' shattered blades
28 Heckle-smasher, knuckle dusters (as club), Necklace of teeth
29 Weed-killer, Scythe (as dagger), Box o' poisonous concoctions
30 Slack-scratcher, Cat-o'nine-tails (as flail), Book of the law
31 Itch-pricker, Bloody big syringe (as dagger), Nettlejuice
32 Tooth-finder, Dental hammer (as blackjack), Bag o' teeth
33 Mind-blower, Peace-pipe (as blackjack), Bag o' special 'erbs
34 Cutter-sharp, Short sword, Whetstone and leather strap
35 Block-rocker, Sledgehammer (as warhammer), Leather smock
36 Slake-breaker, Water urn* (as club), Soaking rags
37 Flesh-knitter, Sewing needles (as dart), Healing salves 
38 Swoon-bender, Bottle of plonk* (as club), Aphrodisiacs
39 Flea-bagger, Sheetbeater (as club), Jar of noxious fumigants
40 Rat-chandler, Dagger, Chest o' rats and wax and wicks
41 Cat-nipper, Dead cat (as blackjack), catnip and box o' mice
42 Snog-ripper, Metal teeth (as dagger), Collection of lips 
43 Fog-bearer, Censer and chain (as flail), Box o' incense
44 Whisp-worder, Smoking pipe (as dagger), Book o' disturbing tales
45 False-herder, Hefty icon (as club), Book o' names
46 Sluice-stepper, Grapple hook, (as handaxe), Thigh-high boots
47 Prattle-corker, Ball gag (as garrote), Black hood
48 Thorn-plucker, Secateurs (as dagger), Bag o' bigass thorns
49 Shit-stirrer, Crusty paddle (as club), Galoshes 
50 Lard-slapper, Massive spatula (as club), Tub o' man-fat
51 Grub-slopper, Large Ladle (as club), Stained apron
52 Face-caulker, Whopping big syringe (as dagger), Vials o' congealing ichors
53 Gland-clapper, Long reachy forceps (as club), Bottles o' disenfectant
54 Corpse-bolter, Wooden stake (as dagger), Hammer and nails
55 Root-plucker, Shovel (as axe), Basket o' taters
56 Slop-chopper, Butcher's knife (as dagger), Tub o' gristle 
57 Slave-grinder, Flesh grater (as long sword), Bucket o' manmeat
58 Purse-biter, Curved knife (as dagger), Pouches with 3d6 coins 
59 Tramp-lighter, Torch (as club), Flint'n'steel and flask of oil   
60 Chin-wagger, Pub-darts (as dart), Pouch o' smokes and rollies
61 Gorm-brewer, Tankard (as blackjack), Barrel of ale 
62 Strife-stewerShort sword, Molotov cocktail and seditionist literature
63 Art-choker, Garotte, Tome with collection of terrible artists
64 Plot-smoker, Quill (as dart), Book of scribblings and smoking pipe
65 Sludge-kludger, Iron muckmold (as club), Filthy apron
66 Star-groper, Old spyglass* (as club),  Astrographical gazeteer 
68 Taint-stripper, Talismanic quarterstaff (as staff), tin skullcap
69 Tongue-twister, Iron tongs (as club), Bag o' hot coals  
70 Goad-worker, Motivation stick (as club), Rump-kicking boots
71 Tar-dripper, Large brush (as blackjack), Tub o' sticky stuff 
72 Bloat-herder, Flensing spade (as polearm), Chum bucket
72 Clan-sacker, Club, Sack full of sacks
73 Book-creeper, Sheperd's crook (as staff), Ledger of neighbor's offences
74 Shrine-sweeper, Broom (as staff), religulous trinkets  
75 Wit-fighter, Quill (as dart), Book of Pith 
76 Hue-chimer, Gong and Bell (as club), buckets of paint 
77 Bile-driver, Bronze rod (as club), Greasy ironwood funnel and peppers
78 Chide-winder, Brushpole (as staff), Bucket of sin-marking housepaint
79 Chug-dealer, Pewter tankard (as blackjack), Stolen barrel o' beer
80 Thug-squealer, Spoon-shiv (as dagger), Hair wax
81 Sigh-roller, Dagger, bag o' coin and anti-depressant concoction
82 Meat-brawler, Side of meat (as club), Leather apron
83 Street-crawler, Stiletto (as dagger), eyeopenin' getup.
84 Key-hugger, Dagger, Locksmith's kit and wax-imprint kit
85 Scroll-drudger, Letter-opener (as dagger), Collection of scrolls in cases
86 Number-cruncher, Hefty abacus* (as club), Pen and notebook
87 Blind-writer, Staff, Blindfold and pen and ink
88 Hood-turner, Sewing needles (as dart), Fancy cloak
89 Word-tamer, Heavy dictionary (as blackjack), Ink and quill 
90 Moon-slinker, Grapple hook (as handaxe), Rope and cloak
91 Lip-stainer, Sickle (as dagger), Jar of hallucinogenic warpleberries 
92 Horn-swoggler, Begging bowl (as blackjack), Deck of marked cards  
93 Squid-wrestler, Weighted net (as flail), Sack o' stinkin' baitfish  
94 Brain-fetcher, Trephine (as dagger), Brain in a jar    
95 Spice-muddler, Secateurs (as dagger), Large sieve
96 Beast-cocker, Whip (as garrote), Very long gloves
97 Rung-runner, Grapple (as dagger), 30' rope
98 Fuzz-crusher, Hook (as dagger), Woolen jacket
99 Pelt-biter, Skinning knife (as dagger), Animal hide 
100 Eggler, Pokey fork and tongs (as dagger), Chicken and candle in velvet box 

* 1 in 6 change of breakage on impact

With thanks to Erik, Humza, Jon, Trent, Richard, Claytonian, Chris, Dak, Christopher and Zak for stepping in when my brain died.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Star Wars : Planets of the Malicrux VI



SULGORA is a ruined world, with vast forests of dead trees, acidic oceans and poisonous rain and is ringed by countless spacewrecks ready to be broken down and destroyed — the result of exploitation by the Unisys Corporation, former member of the Trade Federation. Unisys were later convicted of abuse of native lands and forced to relocate the entire Sulgoran people to the nearby planet of Jyryx. The Unisys Corporation collapsed under the monumental cost of the resettlement program and the planet went into economic decline. However the small mining companies employed by the Unisys Corporation formed the Phoenix Federation and began a profitable trade in waste recycling. Nowadays Sulgora is one of the Empire’s biggest waste dumping and recycling planets. Beaching of retired vessels is an impressive occurrence and not uncommon.

TALIS is a mudball of a planet, where scumdrakes and amphibious bloatwyrms are hunted for sport by the galaxy's best. The extreme elliptical orbit subjects the planet to great differences in temperature. During the prolonged winter when the planet is far from the system's twin suns, the muddy surface is as hard as rock, with only a narrow band of viscous ocean around the equatorial belt. As the planet draws closer the world thaws, and the ocean broadens, til in the heights of summer two polar islands are all that remain. This primordial ooze is rich with nutrients, and combined with a lower than average gravity it supports a diverse ecosystem of truly massive creatures, which in turn draws big-game hunters and bored nobles from the heart of the galaxy. Several safaris operate under the purview of House Vaspasa; Grand Duke Meriko Vaspasa is a passionate hunter and will often personally escort visiting dignitaries on hunting trips.

TANGELWOOD is a dangerous weed-choked world; overgrown by continent-spanning patches of massive and carnivorous tangelthorn. With razor-sharp barbs growing over one hundred meters in length along twisting branches tens or even hundreds of kilometers long, tangelthorn is possibly one of the largest photosynthetic lifeforms known in the galaxy. The various subspecies are prized sources of patterned lumber and some have rare medicinal properties; but Tangelwood's true fame stems from the annual pod-racing festival, when the galaxy's best podracers dart down the winding passages of the Leafspear Labyrinth. A deadly leg of the galactic podracing circuit, the plants tear and impale many racers while probing bloodroots seek out the veins of any fool who forgets to shut their blast doors at night. Tangelwood also serves as the domain of House Arranasis, whose Duchal Palace commands the finest views of the track. The House has a vested interest in the podracing industry and has invested in a number of tracks around the sector, keen on developing the sport across the Malicrux.

VASPASA is an arid world of rocky badlands and steaming savannahs. It is populated by the Vasp, a bipedal reptilian race with human range height and mass. The atmosphere is slightly caustic, and the Vasp and all they create must be hardy and enduring to last in such and environment; the Vasp are covered in a hard dermal chitin that helps them survive. They also have an aptitude for industrial manufacturing and have built a strong economy on Vaspasa that provides highly processed durable goods to the rest of the sector. This historically provided a slightly above average standard of living. Until recently the Vasp had proven to have generally very good health, with an inherent resistance to disease. Unfortunately interstellar trade has appeared to introduce a foreign pathogen to Vaspasa, and a disease known as Hyun Fever has spread aggressively throughout the population over the last 5 years, causing rapid rotting to the Vasp’s armor and exposing them to severe caustic burns from their natural environment and leaving them easily susceptible to secondary infection. Whilst Hyun Fever has no known cure and does not seem to affect other races, a treatment to manage the symptoms is available from MediCrux, although it is expensive. Duke Meirko Vaspasa personally oversees the administration of the treatment, despite himself becoming infected. Economic activity and standard of living amongst the Vasp has declined notably as a result of this persistent pandemic. Imperial doctors from the Public Health Authority maintain a vigilant watch over the world, fearing mutation and spread of the disease.

VLATA YHOM is a dark and foreboding funeral world, where countless millions have been laid to rest beneath grim grey skies and cold stone. That any would chose such a forlorn place may surprise, until the strange power of Vlata Yhom is revealed: those that are swiftly interred within days of passing may live again, albeit in a ghostly form. Some great wonder is at work on this world, and the dead may continue to appear before the living and commune with them, though there are some limitations. The dead cannot learn anything new, only recall memories from their living days, and they must receive regular contact, or their memories will fade away, leaving only a ghostly husk behind. Coordinating the allocation of burial grounds is a presence known only as The Veil, a pale apparition that lingers in the great Temple of Yhom, the largest single structure on the planet. Here, in vast marbled halls filled with silence, petitioners can bring their fallen and seek permission from the Veil to bury them on Vlata Yhom. If the Veil approves, it instructs the fallen’s companions where to find their final resting place, and once interred in the soil of the world, the fallen may rise once more. There are sad tales of the living being unable to let go of loved ones buried on Vlata Yhom, remaining in the presence of the past, til they too pass away. All attempts to study the planet have met with failure; expeditions have been known to encounter extraordinary runs of ill luck and data corruption. For now, the secrets of Vlata Yhom remain undisturbed.

VEYCA is a tepid tropical world where great continents of fungal growth rise out of the seas. With no axial tilt, the planet lacks seasons, subjecting the warm equatorial regions to constant rain, creating perfect growing conditions for all manner of fungoid life. Layer upon layer of mycanoid detritus towers up towards the clouds, displaying a vast number of different species from giant mushroom platforms where starships can safely land to microscopic pathgens that can kill with one breath. Veycan air is dangerous; it is thick with spores that can easily overwhelm when subjected to prolonged exposure, and appropriate protective gear is essential when outside the domed cities of House Veyca. Within these domes Vecyan industrial centres extract all manner of biotechnological and pharmaceutical products harvested from the jungles of fungi; huge mining platforms slowly crawl across the landscape leaving great scars in their wake. These tracks do not last long: they are swallowed up with new growths within weeks. House Veyca runs a small but thriving with Jasterkast and the MediCrux Corporation on Gweyr Krom; there is a small Imperial research facility built on the southern continent that has been declared off limits to all outsiders. House Veyca can do little but accept the situation.

VORZHEVA is a sprawling urban moon locked in a perpetual eclipse, trapped in the shadow of its parent planet, warmed by geothermal power and lit by the blood gold hues of the Malicrux Nebula and the radiant light of nearby Gyre. At least, when the smog clears long enough for the stars to shine through. Otherwise the ruddy haze of neon lights and the glow of deathsticks is all that lights the way through the murk. Vorzheva wasn’t always this way; it was once under the stewardship of House Palauga, but a century ago the Duke staked the fate of his world against his vast gambling debts to the Hutts – and lost. Since the takeover of the planet by Guuzha the Hutt, Vorzheva has become a sordid backdoor into the Malicrux Sector and the prime source of vice and spice. The sprawling towers are filled to the brim with hapless peons, slowly choking and mutating in the foul chemical broth they call air. Gas masks are essential. Organised crime is rampant, corruption ever-present, and suffering to be found on every corner.

XANDERPAND is a dead world where lifeless oceans lap at dusty grey deserts; ill winds scour the ancient and ruined ziggurats that tower over the plains. Immense structures, the ziggurats are believed to one of the few locations bearing physical evidence of the Malicrux Empire to have survived the supernova that ended their rule. As such the world is of considerable interest to scholars from around the Sector, and a small starport caters to the needs of the archaeologists that search for the secrets of the Malicrux.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Star Wars : Planets of the Malicrux V


PLANETS OF THE MALICRUX

MIMANDE is a rocky agrarian world of incredible slate towers and canyons, where a heavy mist lingers throughout the year. This cool damp climate is perfect for a number of agricultural products, and the farms that work the narrow valleys are renown for their vineyards and breweries. Its people have thrown off the shackles of technology and a simple pastoral life. Normally such worlds quickly fall prey to slavers and corporate exploitation, but Mimande is barren of mineral wealth (some whisper suspiciously so) and massive ion nebula that surrounds the system makes travel treacherous. Some traders risk the trip for the Ral'cath spirits, or the latest produce from Kau’meta Vineyards; the fermentation process excludes all droid and technology process so creates a purely organic luxury item that attracts excessive profits – assuming the ship survives the journey to nebula, and the trader has something of worth to barter with. Credits are worth nothing here, with value being placed on the usefulness of items and the skills a man can give his society.

MOLOVAR is a shattered world, split in two by some cataclysmic event predating the fall of the Malicrux Empire. The forces of gravity have been hard at work however, and the remnants of the planet have reassembled to form a new world of high volcanic, tectonic and cosmic activity. Numerous chunks of the planet still orbit the central planetary mass, and meteoric bombardment is a continuous threat. Volcanoes run along the great fissures that cross the world, and there are constant seismic events as the two main halves grind against each other. Imperial geologists, vulcanologists and astrophysicists are drawn to Molovar, and from the relative safety of its outermost moon they monitor the planet below, eager to decipher the mystery that surrounds the planet. All data indicates that whatever triggered Molovar’s cataclysm, it was not a natural occurrence. What troubles the Empire is that those responsible might still be out there, hidden deep in the Malicrux Nebula.

PALAUGA is an ocean world, with a central core of solid state water and thus lacking in the magnetosphere necessary to protect its inhabitants from the mutational effects of solar radiation. Life thrives here despite the hardship, or possibly because of it: the radiation causes constant mutation and an accelerated evolution, and most established species have developed a radiation resistant chitin. It is home to the Palauga, a species of sentient crustaceans that come in a wide variety of forms, all heavily armoured and armed with vicious claws. The Palauga developed a society of warring feudal states when the first explorers from the Republic arrived, and the reception found them exceptionally tasty. The Republic closed access to the world, but did not count on the Palauga reverse engineering the starship their entre├ę arrived in. While it took them six hundred years to do so, revolutionising their society and galvanizing them towards the stars, when the Palaugan Emergency spread across the Malicrux Sector one hundred years before the clone wars, it took a unified military force composed of armies from across the Sector to drive them back to their watery lairs. In the decades since, the Palau reigned in their appetites and began diplomatic overtures to the surrounding planets, and were finally admitted into the circle of noble houses. House Palauga has proven to be politically savvy, currying favour with the power of the time; with the rise of the Empire they have been vocal supports of their doctrine and welcomed the appointment of an Imperial Governor with open claws, and have promised a mighty feast in his honour.

PORT KULLUS is a vast trade collective scattered across a number of space stations, ship berths, satellites and small moons in close orbit around the ringed gas-giant of Bokucryeu. While Sapphirica may be the political epicenter of the Malicrux Sector, Port Kullus is its commercial heart. The great majority of goods that past into and out of the Sector pass through Port Kullus, and it is here that goods and cargo manifests are inspected, recorded and taxed before being transferred from local haulers and freighters into massive spacebarges that run the trade routes into the Galactic Core and beyond. This requires a huge number of services, and the entire system is overseen by guildmasters personally appointed by the Sapphrician nobility. Tariffs are collected, filling the coffers of the noble houses, but they in turn pay a sizable proportion to the Empire. Corruption, smuggling, bribery, tampering and theft are inevitable, and the Yellow Prince is the undisputed master of the darker aspects of the trade hub. His base of operations is unknown, and few if any ever lay eyes upon him, but such is his power that on a whim he can shut down most operations in Port Kullus, and thus the Sector. The shipyards are where his influence is weakest; here the mechanics and shipwrights are allied in powerful and belligerent trade unions that keep the Yellow Prince at bay. The entire collection of myriad orbital bodies and stations are protected by an array of defensive systems. Those fools who attempt to raid Port Kullus rarely if ever get a second chance.

PROHL is a semi-arid planet that has a ring of automated warning beacons to keep travelers away. It is known among spacers by the more infamous moniker of “Murder”. The planet is shrouded by a layer of continuous ionized storm clouds that block all scanners and plays havoc with ships attempting to make a landing. Below the cloud layer lies a 10km high layer of hot, humid and breathable air. The land itself is rugged and arid and covered in alternating dense forests of 30-40' tall mushroom type 'trees' and 10' bamboo type grass fields, the dim light that filters through the cloud layer leaves the land in a perpetual twilight by day or absolute darkness by night. The name “Murder” is allegedly attributed to the first transmission received by explorers from a crashed starship on Prohl: "<static> .. this planet is murder .. <hash>". Only three of the 30 odd crew of a specially shielded research ship have ever officially returned from the planet. They describe giant spider-like creatures, intelligent and technologically capable, with advanced cybernetics grafted to their bodies – vibro-blade enhanced slashing limbs, metalo-ceramic weave laced through their carapace, cortex nodes to enhance reflexes - and they swarm and kill any who land on their planet. Those few researchers who brave the planet believe an ancient race placed them here, though whether as a prison, to isolate them from the galaxy or protect the galaxy from whatever they guard is uncertain.



RAVENHOLT is a verdant world named after the sentient black-winged birds that soar over its lush dark forests and lofty peaks. Waterfalls spill down great mountains to feed a broad network of cool lakes and rivers, and much of the world remained untouched under the stewardship of House Rabenhout. It was sparsely populated, with only a handful of cities concentrated on the northern continent where rustic arts and harmonious architecture blended with the great trees of the forests. This philosophy was reflected in the cities' artisans and craftsmen, who were famed for their exquisite woodcarvings and independent head-strong manner. Of course, all this has changed since the demise of the Old Republic, and overthrow of House Rabenhout by the political machinations of House Kyrieken. Now the world is the focus for rampant industrialization; the old trade in pharmaceuticals, rubber, wood and other natural products was superceded with vast opencut mines and refineries that draw precious trillenium ore from the earth. An essential metal in the manufacture of starship components, the trillenium trade has swelled House Kyreiken's coffers and they have not been idle; whole cities have risen up out of the pristine forests and massive shipyards are currently under construction in several regions around the planet. In another coup for the House, patriarch Skyris Kyreiken has been appointed as the Imperial Governor for the sector, and the planet now serves as the focus of Imperial military might. The Sector Army is based here, and while the majority of the Sector Fleet has been dispatched in the far reaches of the galaxy in the hunt for the Rebel Alliance, two Imperial-Class Star Destroyers now orbit the planet. What the Ravens think of these interlopers in their forests and skies no-one can be sure, though the few old woodsmen who remain are certain that the Ravens have their own plans to rid their world of the accursed Kyreiken.

RUKH is a cold and desolate mountain world that stands at the border of the only known route into the Djakarshi Forbidden Zone. Great watchtowers and powerful sensor arrays rise up from the icy peaks, monitoring the interstellar and hyperspatial regions that surround it. Maintained by the Old Republic for millennia and now under Imperial control, it is there to ensure nothing or leaves the Forbidden Zone. Of course, there are always foolhardy souls who are willing to try, and rescue teams are on standby to bring in the wayward vessels, though what happens to those who break the quarantine is a mystery. In fact most of what occurs on Rukh is a matter of speculation, for more detailed information is blacklisted by the Empire.

SAPPHIRICA is a beautiful ocean world, the blue jewel that crowns the Malicrux Nebula and gateway to the Sector. Blessed with abundant seas and favorable winds, Sapphirica has long served as the sacred gathering place of the noble houses of the Malicrux, who reside in stunning white cities and palaces that float in the skies over the waves. So captivating are the twilight vistas of the Nebula rising over tranquil seas that even the Emperor Himself has an Imperial Residence here, a shinning pinnacle of architecture formed from millions of golden blades that turn slowly about a central palace. As is befitting a world frequented by the ruler of the galaxy, the entire planet is protected by a vast energy shield, projected by a number of huge generator towers that burst from the waves to loom kilometers into the sky. The capital of Allura is the largest floating city where the noble houses hold council. It is a hotbed of political intrigue and scandal; what transpires in the gleaming council chambers and scintillating banquet halls can have ramifications that affect every corner of the Malicrux Nebula. In the upheaval that followed the rise of the Galactic Empire, the power and influence of nobles of Sapphirica has been somewhat diminished as more and more Imperial might is exerted by House Kyreiken on Ravenholt; however it would be impossible for the Empire to maintain order across the Sector without the support of the Sapphirican Houses, and for the time being an uneasy alliance has been thrust upon the two worlds.

SICCIDDE is a scorching desert world rent by massive canyon systems that house numerous industrial cities. Sicciddian weapon factories play an important part of the Sector's manufacturing economy, with large research facilities and proving grounds; most of the labor is provided by convict workforces, typically alien labourers the victim of the Empire's pro-human stance. Acts of sabotage and uprising are not uncommon, but the local planetary wardens are brutal in repressing such actions. The planet is controlled by House Siccidde, who had little trouble adapting to the doctrine of the New Order; they enjoy the full support of the Empire's bureaucracy and receive regular shipments of prison labour from across the galaxy.

SINAMMON is a beautiful pleasure world where the sector’s elite come to play, bathing in the golden seas beneath lavender skies or dancing the night away in the light of Sinammon’s seven moons. Access to this shimmering paradise is heavily restricted, with all interstellar traffic directed to the orbital station that circles the equator; here all visitors must turn over any weapons as they board shuttle craft that then descend through the clouds to their palace of pleasure. Sinammon offers all manner of idyllic pastimes, from relaxing on tropical sky-yachts then nautodiving the vibrant reefs that colour the shallow seas, to aeroboarding from the troposphere, landing on a mountainside, and working the slopes before paragliding from glacial cliffs of the polar continent. Anything to whet the appetite of a bored nobility. Naturally with such an influx of the wealthy, security is paramount and the planetary defense force is as deadly as it is discreet. There are a number of small enclaves scattered across the planet where the rich may retire and live in peace, and holonet stars rub shoulders with retired admirals and corporate princes. Idyllica Holdings maintains the staff and security, essentially ensuring that the world runs smoothly, far from the prying eyes of the holonet media or the gawping stares of a star-struck public. It is rumoured that Idyllica is slavish in meeting the needs of its clientele, and caters to all tastes, however sordid. Such speculation is of course dismissed as the envy of the masses.