Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I Needed a Break...

.... but breaking my ankle bushwalking this arvo wasn't quite what I had in mind.

Two weeks of me + sofa + laptop. Shit. What a holiday.

Some things I'm hoping to post up, while I'm laid out:

- a map to go with my Tomb of the Mog entry for Secret Santicore. (ran out of time and space on that one).

- a caverns version of DungeonFu.

- a wilderness hex version too.

- a few first details of MUTANTOR!

- plus I still owe you that hobbit, Simon.

 and yeah, got any blog requests, lemme know. 


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Secret Santicore 2011!

Here it is... in all its warty, unwashed, typo-riddled glory: Secret Santicore 2011! 

104 pages of generous creativity for your game, and it's all totally free. Not a cent.

BUT... if you do end up using some of the material herein, take the one minute out of your day to shoot an email over to the guy who wrote the article and let him know how it played out. He'll get a kick out of it, guaranteed.

I know I will. And that's worth something.

Click here to download (13mb)!

And click here if you wanna know what Secret Santicore is all about!

To all the Squid-hugging Ink-hoarders: yes, I know it's full color, and yes I know it will chew through your inks in no time. But fear not; in a couple of weeks, when I get back from holiday in the Land of Poison and Fire, I'll go through the doc and do a black and white version. Just for you. 

To all the Type-O Nazis: you're gonna have fun with this one; the turnaround was just far too tight to get proofreaders to go properly through it, but rest assured, once I'm back I'll get them all fixed up. If you do feel like proofreading, lemme know. 

Lastly special thanks is due to the following people for general asskickingness:

Zak for saying go for it, when I said I think I could.

The contributors: for being a great bunch a guys. It was a pleasure.

The artists: Cover artist Peter Seckler (where's your portfolio Pete?), Stuart Robertson and especially Jeremy Duncan, for producing such excellent art in such ridiculous timeframes.

S.John Ross for the generous use of his fonts.

The Emergency Elf support crew: Dylan Atkinson, Mike Evans, Erik Jensen, Iain Jones, Jeff Rients, Stuart Robertson, Peter Seckler, S.L. Shirley, and Telecanter for stepping in when help was needed. Seriously couldn't have done it without you.

And extra extra super special gratitude and love to Vanessa, for covering my ass and letting me run wild with the opportunity. I'm so glad I married you and not me. 

Well she's done, she's dusted. Sun's coming up. Time for a beer.



P.S. Lady-gamers, where the hell were you? 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Secret Santicore: neeeearly there...

... but there's this thing called Christmas that keeps mucking with my production schedule.

Hope your holidays rock.



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Secret Santicore : 8 page teaser!

Can't wait til Christmas Eve to get your paws on the Secret Santicore collection? Here's an 8 page preview just to whet your appetite, with sample pages from 7 of the 42 entries received. 

Click here to download.

Tell me what you think!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Secret Santicore : Contents Preview

Secret Santicore is on its way! Here's the contents page from the PDF with over 100 pages of Santicorey goodness. Awesome holiday reading awaits, available for download from 24th December! Totally FREE!

And if you can't wait til then look forward to the 8 page preview tomorrow! Be sure to spread the word! For now though, lemme know which entries catch your eye. Which entries can't you wait to see?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hollow Earth Expedition : Empire Flying Boat

The Empire Flying Boat was the mainstay of the Imperial Airways fleet from 1936-47, traversing the globe from London to Australia via India, and making the trans-Atlantic journey to New York and Bermuda. Their time was short but glorious, and I always wanted them in my Hollow Earth Expedition campaign, as the "Millenium Falcon" of the setting. In and out of anywhere, flying dangerous missions for Empire during the war, shuttling dilettantes and precious cargo around the world.

For my players I gave them a handout of the ship - photos and stats -  and gave them surveillance of the factory in Rochester, UK, where they were built. Their first mission in my HEX game? Steal one.

Click here to download the handout.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Star Wars: Planets of the Malicrux II

Five more worlds from the Malicrux Sector.


DRACA is famed across the sector as the homeworld of the Dracan war machine, a brutally efficient militant society where death and honour a sacred. The tide-locked world is in fact a moon of a super-massive gas giant in the mid-outer portion of the Draca system, and while it receives little light from the red dwarf sun, the luminous ochre atmosphere and glowing auroras of the provides ample light. Combined with the active geothermal activity caused by its proximity to the gravitational field of the gas giant, Draca is able to support life in this cold corner of the galaxy. Normally a simple mining planet like Draca would never have developed much of a population at all, but several factors combined to give a significant population. The moon is crossed by winding mountain ranges that rise up out of dense ‘oceans’ of semi-caustic poisonous gases, beneath which lie volcanic seams rich in mineral wealth.  Numerous mining stations work these seams, operated by acid-resistant mechanized labour and hardly souls in hazmat suits, and these stations provide the massive munitions factories on neighbouring Siccidde all the resources they need. Draca’s early history was marred by the eradication of the indigenous lifeforms that continually attacked the mining operations, and this bloody history was the origin for the militant society found on Draca today. Draca's fortress-cities are built on the mountain ranges, and here the various families still maintain diligent martial training. Its is not unusual for entire families to do nothing but serve in the military machine, and many families have a proud tradition of having served for generations, recognised as producing some of the most highly trained officers and troops. Draca has been known to lease out its legions during times of war, and readily send its troops to maintain battle competence in the Eternal War on Fray. Surprisingly the relationship between Draca and the Empire is strained; despite similar outlooks, Dracan pride refuses to submit to the colours and uniform of the Empire, and ongoing tensions remain. The Empire ensures that the Dracan War Machine remains out of the rebellion by employing the forces for lowly peacekeeping operations on several low-key worlds, considered by many on Draca to be an insult to their fine forces. - Contributed by Pete, one of my players.

EPHEMERA is a dream world that defies description, for whoever lays eyes upon skies and feet upon its soil finds themselves in a world of flux and illusion. Wild visions plague all those who visit, and the planet emits an unquantifiable energy that plays havoc with sensors and scanners, making categorization of the world almost impossible. It is widely believed however that these visions might just be glimpses of the future, or the past, or aspects of the visitor’s life history that confront and challenge them. As such it is a haven for those of religious persuasion, and a number of faiths and cults make the pilgrimage here in the hope of receiving guidance in their lives. A small but bustling space station caters to their needs, orbiting high over the ever-changing lands; it is rumoured that even the Emperor himself visits from time to time.

FARGONE is a frontier world, claimed by refuges from Chyco, where dirt-poor farmers and shepherds cling to the last vestiges of civilization on an untamed planet. Following the revolution on Chyco, the few members of the noble house and several thousand retainers and loyalists managed to flee the planet. With no support from the Emperor’s new order, the fleet was forced to search for an unclaimed world and start anew. After two years of futile exploration, fighting off pirate attacks, critical supply shortages, and disastrous encounters on three previously unexplored worlds, the house was left in ruin, her scions dead, and the fleet all but destroyed. It was decided by the remaining stragglers that the next world would be their last, for – as their new leader Luciddius Tain put it – “one more world and we’ll be too far gone”. The phrase stuck, as did the name. After two decades of scratching a meagre existence out of the dirtlands on Fargone, it looks as though the colonists have pulled through the worst of it. The “capital” – a collection of fortifications built around the last starships of the Chyco fleet – is slowly growing and has secured a regular trade route from Vorzheva twice a year; settlers seeking a quiet life of toil far from the Empire are always welcome. There is but one rule on Chyco that must be obeyed: no droids. Droids are what got House Chyco into this mess, and anyone who uses a droid to do something they could do is considered a layabout and not worth spit. Offworlders are advised to keep theirs locked safely onboard their vessels.

FAEL is a dimly lit moon kept warm by the gravitational effects of its parent planet, the blue gas giant Orsus; it is home to a number of bio-luminous orders of plant life but has no indigenous species. It was colonised millennia ago by human explorers, who have adapted to life in near darkness. A tall, pale and anemic splinter of humanity, the Fael are a passionate and hot tempered, and buoyed by the destruction of the Death Star were among the first worlds to openly declare support for the Rebel Alliance and cede from the Empire. It was a costly mistake, and the Empire moved swiftly to make an example of the Fael to discourage similar actions elsewhere. Its major cities were reduced to slag by orbital bombardment, and the survivors rounded up under charges of sedition and treason and placed in military camps. For the past year they have been subjected to all manner of cruelty and suffering, though the Empire can claim that its program of re-education is finally producing results. The first battalion of Faelean infantry has shown determination and success in combat, recently aiding in the costly invasion of Gyre and willingly laying down their lives in the thousands to achieve their objectives. Grand Moff Skyrus Kyreiken is said to be very pleased with their performance and keen to utilise their services against other difficult military targets soon.

FRAY is a cursed world trapped in the endless struggle of The Eternal War, a conflict that has continued since well before the dawn of the Old Republic. None can recall the causes of the war; only that numerous sides fight because that is all that they have known and all that is left to them. The original inhabitants have long since disappeared; interplanetary forces, mercenaries, soldiers of fortune and fools eager to prove themselves now make up the rank and file of fractured armies. Whatever original climate once graced this world has since been blasted out of existence; now cold winds howl over muddy plains, through hookwire fences and shattered fortresses, rattling the ruined armor that clings to fleshless corpses that cover the world. None know just how deep are these fields of death, where new weapons from nearby Siccidde are tested in the field, and foul chemistries are unleashed from the quagmires of Jasterkast. It is said that the war is allowed to continue only so that the industries of these two worlds may hone their wares before releasing them to the common market; it is also said that any soldier who can prove he did his tour of duty on Fray will command the utmost respect of subordinate and superior alike.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I gotta 20 with the shottie

Another from the vaults.

Some concept art for a film based on an rpg based on zombie-killin'.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Map: Ost-in-Edhil

It's a busy times with Santicore so most posts this week will be from the vaults. Here's a Middle Earth map based on MERP's vision of Ost-in-Edhil, only in a far more ruinous state... perfect for exploring in the late Third Age.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Star Wars: Planets of the Malicrux I

Here's a planet-by-planet description of the Malicrux Sector campaign I'm running at the moment. A couple of entries are written by some of the players, I think it helps the buy in to the setting if they can help create it (plus, XP!).
The planets were created using a nifty Photoshop plug-in called LunarCell by Flaming Pear. They got a bunch of clever little plug-ins on 30-day trail periods. Go check'em out.


ALMOST is a barren, inhospitable rock that serves as the current home for a droid-cult known as the Cogs. Led here two centuries ago by the Droid-visionary ∞-5 (aka InFinn, Finn or Five Fingers) after the revelations granted to the droid while planetside on Ephemera, a fleet of droid-operated starships lie dormant on the planet, waiting in the golden light of the trinary star system for the promised unveiling of a lost techworld deep within the Malicrux Nebula. Here the Cog faithful believe they will find kinship and equality among the automated beings that live there. Five Fingers is tolerant of other biological creatures, unless they stand in the way of the Cogs goals; he has displayed a ruthless efficiency in dispatching those who oppose them. Cog operatives are active across the Sector, actively procuring ownership of other droids and then freeing them, or on more obscure missions beyond biological comprehension. Traders are welcome on Almost, for the droid collective is highly skilled and willing to barter their services in return for droid parts and coin to fund their activities.

BARHOK is a blistering hot slave world where billions struggle beneath three blood red suns to carry out the will of their serpentine masters. The Cult of the Serpent Queens demands utmost loyalty and obedience to the six huge stardrakes that rule the world, and each seeks to better its sisters through grand displays of art, war, architecture, or whatever fashionable whim is current in their courts. Slaves are bound to the hive mind of their queens by the use of rune serpents, strange little flying drakes that glow a luminous gold and are soulbound to their slave. Neurotoxins from their fangs keep their prisoners obedient when necessary, though free thought and speech is sometimes permitted. Those that step out of line are simply bitten and robbed of will, those that develop immunity to the poisons are quickly executed. Under this hierarchical regime the slave armies have built many wonders in the name of their Queens, from great cities of spiraling towers to huge edifices that loom up out of the deserts. To what purpose these constructions are made has always remained obscured; if the Queens know why they continue with their millennia-long rivalry they have yet to reveal it to their minions, though some of their more visible works include the terraforming of nearby moons to supply the masses with enough nutrients to survive. Attempts to break this cycle of eternal slavery by the Jedi of the Old Republic failed – there were simply too many innocents in the slave armies that were arrayed against them, and the Queens were immune to their persuasive techniques. The Empire has yet to decide what must be done with them; at the moment the Cult is of limited use to the Emperor. As a precaution they have assigned an Imperial Governor to the world, though Holani Rodell is little more than a symbolic appointment and his reports indicate that the Cult poses little threat offworld. Were that to change in any way, the Empire’s response is bound to be swift.

CALLIGRATTICA is a dry, dusty world, perfect for the preservation of its vast collections of ancient tomes. Scholars first came here to study the astonishing Crawling Towers of Shugg – libraries hollowed out from the carapace of mountain-sized beetles that slowly traverse the planet – and eventually the researchers simply chose to stay. There are a number of different university-cities, one to each Shugg beetle, and they compete in a friendly manner on matters esoteric and arcane. But what they fear most is when two beetlecities draw too close to one another, and lock their horned shells together in brutal territorial combat, with the conquering beetle devouring the remains of the vanquished. Traditionally the losing university is taken in by the victor. The beetles are vaguely sentient, and can be steered and directed to some small degree. But what their great and ponderous minds dwell on as they travel the deserts is anyone’s guess. The Calligrattican Council is currently overseen by Governor Dean Lyrian Bokru, who despite pressure from offworld authorities, maintains an open door policy to all students that wish to study here. Students with Imperial upbringings do not take kindly to their non-human fellows, and xenophobic attacks have marred the last few semesters, drawing unwanted attention from the Empire.

CHARGRYN is infamous as the most savage penal world for several Sectors. Even before the formation of the Empire it was used as the dumping ground for the very worst of the galaxy's convicts; most prisoners would rather be killed on the spot then sent there. The high rotation of its magnetic core has turned the planet into a violent dynamo, constantly discharging energy in massive lightning storms. Special drop ships encased in arc cages are needed to deliver prisoners to the surface; all metal objects attract lethal electrical strikes from the ground and surrounding air, and convicts are constantly subjected to painful shocks. Few last long in such torturous conditions.

CHYCO is a tidelocked world, where one side of the planet always faces the sun leaving the sunward side a burnt out husk and plunging the other into eternal darkness and freezing cold. But in the twilight rim between the two halves the communist Imperial cult of the Chyco thrives. During the Clone Wars the ruling nobles of House Chyco sided with the Separatists, producing numerous war droids and vehicles in their underground factories; following their defeat Chyco was subjected to severe reparations and her people brought to ruin and misery – and yet the ruling oligarchy seemed unaffected by the burden continuing to live their lives in luxury. Out of this perceived dichotomy was born a plot to topple the nobility, and replace it with socialist rule that would see the burden evenly shared. When the revolution came to an end, what surprised everyone (including the usurpers) was the rise of a state-sanctioned cult that worshipped the Emperor as a divine representative. Now stories relating to his sacrifices during the Jedi Betrayal are treated as holy texts, and his edicts and decrees as religious doctrine. Chyco’s factories have been rebuilt, and now serve the Emperor providing him with the weapons to maintain his vigil of peace over the galaxy. While the noble house of Chyco was destroyed during the uprising, the formal title of Duke is granted to the ambassador of Chyco when in court on Sapphirica, where Duke-Elect Braega Chyco is a passionate supporter of Imperial policy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Weeklings : Hook Giant

Here's jason kielbasa's request: 

"Hook Giants are the definition of a misunderstood creature. Magical by nature, the Les Pays (hobbit type creatures)once worshiped them as the children of the Gods placed upon the land. Standing 7 feet tall with abnormally long hands shaped like sickles and bodies with thick hair colored green and brass. They have a very short thick neck and prominent single eye. These creatures are abnormally fond of raw sugar cane."

I got my eye on you...

More ink and brush work for Secret Santicore...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

If you go down to the woods today...

I've been inspired by the inkwork of Jeremy Duncan and thought I'd have a go: an ink brush illustration to go with one of the Secret Santicore entries.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weeklings #1

So last weekend I though I'd start a little weekly illustration game; I had a couple of bites (new blog, whaddya expect?), and here are the results of Jeremy Duncan's request for "the Captain of the Centipede King's Amazon Bodyguard." 

Who's up for Round Two?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kindred of the East

Some old character illustrations from my Kindred of the East game.

You like Big Trouble in Little China? It's like that.


Friday, December 2, 2011

A different kinda hex crawl

Hollow Earth Expedition - or HEX for short - is an absolutely cracking RPG if you feel like punching Nazis in the face and feeding them to dinosaurs while defending your buddies with death rays at the center of the Earth.

The Ubiquity game system is a simple and clever binary dice system (evens=yes, odds=no, did you get enough yeses to succeed?) that runs very smoothly, and the core setting is supported with several beautiful sourcebooks — Secrets of the Surface World, Mysteries of the Hollow Earth, and the soon-to-be-released Revelations of Mars (c'mon dammit, publish it!?!) as well as some free adventures.

You can tell I like it, enough to go all out and design a Character Passport booklet. You can download it here.

The 10 page PDF is impaginated and will fit each spread on both A4 and US Letter sized paper, but will need a decent scalpel, metal edged ruler, stapler and quality printer to create. I found that printing it scaled down to 80% of the original size worked best. 

So yeah, go try HEX.

Your fists will thank you for it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Carrion Stones

The bane of hunters, grave diggers and the undead, Carrion Stones are sentient rocks that have developed a hunger for dead flesh. The smell of death draws them from miles around, they gather to crush the dead beneath their weight and slake their thirst for blood.

Adventures may first discover the presence of Carrion Stones after waking to find a circle of boulders and rocks has formed around their camp during the night; scavengers, the Carrion Stones will follow them unerringly until dealt with or driven off.

Carrion Stones will trail behind armies and adventurers, moving in to feast once the bodies have been picked clean of treasure and forgotten. The living must still be careful;  in times of cadaverous famine, Carrion Stones have been known to hunt in packs and crush to death the unwary. They do not move unless they are certain no one is watching them, not until they are within cruching distance, when they spring to life to bring down their quarry.

While they can be beaten back or shattered in combat, the cracked shards of their remains still retain their hunger, and will begin hunting once more in a matter of days. Grinding the rocks into dust is not enough, though it rends them dormant for centuries; an overzealous monster hunter once mixed the dust from Carrion Stones in to mudbricks; the house that resulted quickly gathered a grim and bloody reputation.

Their origins are unknown; some scholars hypothesise the first Carrion Stones came from a cairn raised over the corpse of a fallen sorcerer; others, a curse from some chthonic god, or born from the gore of the Lifebringer Sword.

STATS: treat as small to medium earth elementals; lose any burrowing ability, but gain bonuses to sneaking (lots) and hunting (some), and trip (lots). Damage Resistance 5-10 depending on size/crushing weapons.