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.
The GM’s map from “A Case Of Consumption” by David Noonan for the Shadow Of The Demon Lord RPG. Gross y’all. Gross. water color / archival ink / sepia ink / marker on parchment paper.
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.
i illustrated maps for someone i consider legendary.
Eventually I will get into how 2015 was and what I will be doing in 2016, but first I would like to talk about some maps I illustrated for an adventure written by his majesty Mr. Ed Greenwood. What that means is my main man Schwalberto, as part of his kickstarter campaign, decided to throw some number of heavy pennies per word at Greenwood to write an adventure for the Shadow of the Demon Lord game. My understanding is that Greenwood once licked Schwalb at some convention and now they are effectively blood brothers or something.
Before I get into the adventure and show off some maps, I’d like to talk about the Forgotten Realms. The realms are a terrible place to game these days; your characters are likely to just occupy space in the area and not actually have any effect on the world. This isn’t really Greenwood’s fault so much as the realms have been such an important place at the table top since the early 80s that everything has been done. It is hard to feel like you’re in the world because the realms have been beaten to death, boiled like tapioca pearls to rehydrate, and then beaten again. I know that there isn’t a whole lot of love for the realms in the OSR world because it is too much, there is little left to the imagination. I don’t want to play in the realms because I want to play in uncharted territory (Greenwood if you read this, its me its not you). That being said, I love a few Forgotten Realms things: the infinity engine games, Neverwinter Nights, the Avatar trilogy of books, and Calimshan. As Greenwood is responsible for inspiring these arts & crafts, I tip my hat to him. It was a cool thing I got to do, make these maps. Here is a room down sampled to look like shit on your screen, and watermarked.
IT HAS BEEN A WHILE. FUCK. Sorry.
Sitting at the top of this post is the latest map I have done. It is a commission for young Robert J. Schwalb. If you don’t know who Schwalberto is you are totally lying to yourself because his name is probably in the credits of at least one rpg book on your shelf. He’s had is softy powdery fingers on 3.5th, 4th, and 5th editions of the world’s most bitched about role playing game, as well as had his hands all over some great shit like A Song Of Fire and Ice table top affair, and lots of shit. I think the only thing he likes more than role playing games is dick jokes, his cats, and maybe his wife. Needless to say, he is a very creative man and also someone who I hold in a close circle of none nerd friends. We’re going to get back to stroking his ego in a second, lets talk about this map first.Continue Reading