Today Insupposable Instruments is released on DriveThru RPG. You can nab it here. Rob tasked Nat Webb, Jerry LeNeave, Andrew Follet, and myself with writing the Demon Lord item book. The 2e book of artifacts is one of my most favorite RPG books of ever, so I jumped at the chance. In my head I was like “I got this shit” and the four of us got on some Facebook chat and basically decided it would be a free for all; we’d write all of our shit and then meet up later for high fives and milk shakes and Rob would shower us in money.
What happened is everyone met the month deadline just fine, but instead of splitting up the word count Rob asked for, each of us wrote nearly the word count independently. I originally only wrote like 5 items and danced past the word count waving my middle finger around like Mr. Bean driving through LA. Because I had never written for any kind of professional anything I was anxious to impress and I included a random, wandering merchant table. I assumed it would get cut, along with my items, and that would be out of the book but it would be a cool thing to hold on to anyways. I wouldn’t have written it otherwise. Writing the table was a lot of fun, and my items were super loquacious but lots of fun to write as well. In my head I figured everyone else on the project had writing creds, so I needed to impress them and be a hero. I assembled everyone’s stuff and sent it to Rob, who made some changes and sent it back to us. All my items had been cut. He wanted more items and a few other things like owning businesses and property. In the revised manuscript all but one of my items were gone; not because they were bad but because they were outside the scope of the project. Rob wanted something like a ledger of things, and I was writing forbidden and gnarly artifacts forged in the bowels of the earth or something. They were too complicated, too wordy. The lesson I learned here is that it is okay to ask questions about shit. Get all of your questions answered before you sit down to write; it isn’t because you don’t write good but because it doesn’t matter how well you write if you’re writing the wrong thing.
But he really liked the table of merchant situations! He asked me to expand it a few more entries, and we added a bunch more items to the book and that’s what you get today. So yeah, my main contribution to the book isn’t even items. But hey, the book is full of really cool stuff for any RPG and not just Demon Lord. It even includes some simple business/property owning rules you can stitch into your elfgame campaign. Check it out, a lot of good stuff went in and the gents who worked on it are very good looking and run very fast. And they can dunk.
I am probably not going to share the full version of this map publicly, but here is a snippet Robert Schwalb shared earlier…
It is a map of Hell from the upcoming ‘Exquisite Agony’ book for Shadow of the Demon Lord. Each skin thing represents a different location in Hell. The vibe I was going for in it was sort of like if a childish demon or devil made the thing and then had mommy sew it up for him.
The original piece was done edge to edge on an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of real thing card stock paper. I used all the supplies! Markers, watercolor paints, crayons, colored pencils, fake blood, sepia and black inks, my fingers, and some collage stuff too. Like the broken sword tip: it looked pretty bad on the first pass so I redid it and glued the new one on top of the old one. I scanned it into GIMP and went: brightness -65, contrast +50, master hue +5, and master saturation -25. I also fudged an un-pictured area called The Scabby Blight, re drew it a bunch til I got it right, and added that in digitally.
I used research and thumbnails heavily on this one, and I can’t recommend enough to artists to use thumbnails. I painted, scanned, and toyed with the skin easily 30 times before I decided on a look. Same with most other sections. I will say though, that I fuckin’ made myself sick to the stomach looking up some of the reference images a couple of times.
Sometimes books, like the one pictured to the right, creep quietly into the world and no one pays attention or notices or even gives a shit. But there are people out there in real life who are making some very playable arts and the people I am talking about aren’t typically people who would be recognized in the OSR scene, or even the RPG scene. The person I am talking about this time is a one Sam Bosma, who is a fantastic illustrator, and prior to last week was someone I didn’t know of or have the mental faculties with which to even comprehend. Last week, with a pure and serendipitous happenstance, I came across this little book he made. This particular book is the one you see here on the right, it is called Inventory v.1 and it is actually little- sizing up at 4.5 by 5.5 inches. It showed up in a tiny package and in all manner of tiny glory to my mail box today while I was at work.
On the cover of this lilliputian tome is an adventurer gal. She is wading into the darkness with a pack full of stuffs and it is a wonder anyone can fight holding anything, including heavy ass swords, but she is making it happen. The interior of the book is risographed onto creamy paper that mutes the art in a way that softens edges and vanquishes what would be glaring contrast. Whatever Bosma picked as the cover material is the softest paper I have ever fucking touched. It has some kind of texture on it that just works.Continue Reading
It has been quite some time since I have updated this thing. I apologize. The post-rock band I drum in has been pretty busy with a string of bullshit things to do like record a new demo and also play a couple of shows (re: PLUG). Throw in some other shit like my kid and my wife and my job, and it leaves little room for fantasy land stuff. Needless to say, here is something:
I was stuck at work, iced in. I had a beer and started scrolling through google plus and I found a blog post from +Ben Trautman over at Lock, Stock, and a Bag of Dice about a septum piercing called a Bone Ward. Thought I’d give it a go as an illustration. This particular magical item is body jewelry made from bodies; it provides +2 versus poisons and disease. The piecing causes 1d4 damage. I like that. Thanks Ben for the cool concept and permission to make it cool. Anyways I drew it out with a pencil I found on the floor at the bar I work at, traced it with my nice pens then scanned it and traced it. Then I hand-wrote the text, scanned it, colored it, etc. Lots of fun.