Sunday, March 31, 2013

Tomb of the Rocket Men

Dungeon of Signs hosted a map-making contest, calling on people to create a map for The Tomb of the Rocket Men. I love me some rockets and ruins, so I drew up an entry.

Click it to big it!

Crumbling statues of rocket men, vine choked caverns, secret treasure chamber, a floating eye, the hulk of a giant robot, all sorts of fun stuff. It's also my first big stab at isometric dungeon mapping. 

It's not quite as "mini" as the other Mini-Map Monday maps, and I didn't do it freehand (I did a pencil rough then inked it with a light box), but I'm happy with it, so I thought I'd share it. 

I think I'm going to use this map to run Johnstone Metzger's Adventures on Dungeon Planet. That's an awesome science-fantasy expansion for Dungeon World that just came out this weekend. You should totally buy it.

Dinosaur Party! [Pocketmod Comic]

I can't stop making pocketmod comics! They're the perfect way to pass the time and feed my creative bug!

So the other day, I was stuck waiting at work again, so I made another pocketmod comic. Took about 30 minutes with a pen in the break room on the back of a vacation request form.

No fancy backstory for this strip. Just a couple of dinosaurs in a funny situation that's been floating through my head for a few weeks.

The pocketmod version can be found here.
Instructions for cutting and folding pocketmods can be found here.
A non-pcoketmod version is below!
Click it to big it!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Roy the Space Robot [PocketMod Comic]

So my buddy Leighton Connor does this groovy sci-fi comic, Laser Brigade. I love it, and you should check it out.

A while ago he asked a bunch of his cartoony friends (like me) to chose of the Laser Brigade characters and do a solo adventure comic about them. LC bade us draw our comics straight-to-ink, no pre-pencils or post-production, in these little 24-page 4"x6" sketchbooks, the same way he does his Laser Brigade comic. I was excited to play in LC's sandbox, so I did a comic about his character Thurl. In the comic, I introduced a couple of new characters, a psychic warrior named Vina, and a jive-talking robot named Roy.

Jump ahead to last night after work. I was waiting for my ride, and I had some time to kill. I had forgotten to bring my book, but I had some pens in my jacket, so I folded up a vacation request form and spent the next 30 minutes making a little pocketmod comic about Roy.

It was a fun little diversion. When I got home, I scanned the comic into my computer, used my layout program to add the pocketmod foldy-cutty lines, and turned it into a PDF. Now I'm going to share it with you! ENJOY!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Crypt of Morgrath [Mini-Map Monday]

This here's a map I made for a Crypts & Things adventure I'm writing.

Moslammin, Closer of Doors [Petty God]

Gorgonmilk is running a Petty Gods project right now. Here's my attempt.

Name: Moslammin, Closer of Doors
Symbol: A wooden door, closed and held by an iron spike
Armor Class: -5 [24]
Damage: 3d6 (x2 with backstab)
Hoard Class: 100 masterwork iron spikes
Alignment: Lawful
Movement: 120' (40')
Hit Points (Hit Dice): 86 hp (20 HD)
Attacks: 1 Slam
Save: T20
Morale: 9
XP: 6,250

Aside from all the monsters, traps, mad wizards, and cursed artifacts that an adventuring party must face, the most persistent threat in any dungeon is the closed door. Deep in bowls of the dungeon, doors rarely function properly. They warp, swell, and stick, becoming nigh-unbudgeable obstacles that only the brawniest of barbarians or fittest of fighters can hope to shove open. Worst yet, dungeon doors have a nasty habit of shutting and sticking once more after the adventurers' backs are turned.

The Acolytes of Sealed Temple in the Valley of Passages attribute this uncanny behavior to Moslammin, Closer of Doors, a petty god. Open doors, cleared passages, and accessible rooms are anathema to Moslammin. As it is written in the wood-bound tomes of his (few) clerics, “How might a man prove his worth, if he can enter any sanctum with ease? Better it is that his every step be dogged with adversity, no matter how small.” Moslammin closes doors not to pester, they say, but to test mankind's patience and thus make us immune to petty irritations.

Moslammin's avatar appears as a hunched and hooded figure who creeps silently through dark and damp dungeon corridors, closing and holding shut any door he passes. If he encounters an adventuring party he deems worthy of his “blessings,” he will follow them silently and invisibly throughout an entire dungeon, closing and sealing any open doors they may leave in their wake.

Moslammin has all the skills and abilities of a level 20 thief, except the “Pick Locks” skill. He may also cast invisibility, silence 15' radius, and wizard lock as a level 20 magic user at will.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


It's not Monday, but I thought I'd share a little map I doodled last night in the break room while waiting for my ride at work. No real background story on this one. Just an underground river, a secret treasure room, some skulls, some mushrooms, a shrine, a pit trap, and several statues and pillars. 

Drawn in about 10 minutes on the back of a vacation-request form with magic marker and ball-point.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Rock [Mini-Map Monday]

Mini Map Monday moves into SPACE!

Oroborus Industries Asteroid Mine #5876-Q is colloquially known as "The Rock" by the rough-bitten men and women that live and worked there, slowly cutting precious promethium from its core. No one's heard from The Rock for a few months now. Maybe someone should check that out.

The pressure doors and atmosphere screens to the main dock are broken, exposing the central galley to hard vacuum. I'm sure there's a logical reason for that. 
Click Click Zoom!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Bridge of Sighs [Mini Map Monday]

This stone bridge of ancient and unknown make spans a mighty chasm. The white marble of its construction is veined with lavender and blue and contrasts sharply with the black granite of the surrounding earth. The bridge spans the Gulf of Sky, a huge crack in the earth filled with swirling, lightly perfumed mists and the softly sighing wind that gives the bridge its name. None have even seen the bottom of the Gulf. It is suspected  that the Gulf of Sky is a direct portal to the plane of elemental air.

Also... Robin Trower!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Molemen & Missives [2011]

I've been busy with art commissions all week, so I haven't had a chance to post much (much less post anything about gnomes). To fill the gap, I'm reposting something from my old blog.

Back in 2011, Ryan Macklin started a 500-word RPG challenge. "Molemen & Missives" was my contribution. It doesn't have gnomes, but molemen are kinda-sorta-not-really similar, right?

Activate the Waybac, Sherman...

Ryan Macklin recently set a  "Flash Game Design Friday" challenge. To quote:

I’m going to give you three mechanical ingredients. You use at least two:
  • Two dice that you don’t add together
  • A single token that sometimes is and sometimes isn’t on your character sheet/possessed by the player
  • a countdown mechanic (whatever the hell that means)
Write a game that takes 500 words or less to explain, which should include a hint of setting.

I chose the first two ingredients and took some inspiration from More Information than You Require to create... 

Molemen & Missives
By Joshua LH Burnett
with apologies to John Hodgman

You are a Moleman, a disgusting yet refined denizen of the Deep Down Dark. You have sharp claws and teeth, acidic saliva, and luminescent mucus. You also have a great love of social philosophy, powdered wigs, and pantaloons. You are part of a committee dedicated to solving problems affecting your hideous community.

The Mole Master
This is what we call the GM in this game, just because.

The Making of a Moleman
Give yourself a Name. Typical Molemanic names include Theopolis, Henrietta, and Hsss'kkk'thiix.

Write down your Vocation, which is your job in the community. Examples include: Fungus Wrangler, Mucus Sculptor, or Grub Knight.

Take 10 points and divide them between the four core Values of the Molemen.

Industry for tasks that involve creation or hard labor.

Learnedness for tasks that requires education or study.

Vigilance for tasks that involve forethought or the defense of your community.

Refinement for tasks that require charisma or style.

You have a Resolve score equal to the sum of your two highest Values. You lose Resolve when you lose Debates. Resolve refreshes at the beginning of each game.

The Wig
Molemen love to talk. Within a committee, it would be quite easy for each Moleman to to try to talk over his fellows, and nothing would get done. Hence, the Wig. Each committee has one wig. Only the Moleman wearing the wig may talk. Once he was spoken, he must give the wig to another committee member. It is considered rude to ask for the wig next instead of patiently waiting your turn. Wigless Molemen can still communicate through sign language or charades, but this is considered gauche. Written communication in the form of long, passionate missives, letters, and pamphlets are quite acceptable and actively encouraged!

Molemen characters are free to do whatever they want until someone tells them they can't. When there's a conflict of interests between two parties, we got ourselves a Debate. Resolve debates as such:

1) Set the stakes.

2) Each side describes what they are doing and gathers a number of d10 equal to the relevant Value.

3) If the opposing side is the Molemaster, he will chose 1d10 to 7d10, depending upon the difficulty.

4) Roll!

5) If you have multiples of the same number, add 1 to the result for each extra die. (If you rolled three 6s, your result would be 8.)

6) If your action involved your Vocation, you can gather some of your dice and reroll them once.

7) The highest result wins!

8) The defeated side loses a point of Resolve, plus 1 more for each multiple the opposition rolled.

9) A Moleman with 0 resolve is out of the game. He's too dejected, depressed, or devoured to continue.

10) Other Committee members can help you in debates. They describe how they are helping you and add 1d10 to your pool. If you lose, your helpers lose resolve too!

I've also made a swanky PDF of the game!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bradley K. McDevitt on Dark Corners of Role Playing

My friend Brad McDevitt is featured over on the Dark Corners of Role Playing blog. Go brad!

Brad designed also Nightlife, which was my absolute favorite RPG for a long time.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

STMS Season Finale! [Monsterhearts]

(Click HERE for my first Monsterhearts roundup)

So, The Sexy Teenage Monster Show wrapped up its first season this week. Since it was the last session of the season and one of our players (the Chosen) was going to be unable to game for several months, we had a lot of things happening at once, trying to wrap up as much as we could. It got a bit jumbled here and there. More than a couple times, my players broke into a bit of meta gaming. “I need to get into a fight or some other Volatile conflict so I can mark my last XP and get my final advance!” That kind of thing. Normally I'd poo-poo that kind of thinking, but again, it was the season finale, and I tried to be accommodating without breaking things too much.

Here are the highlights of the last session...

Lillith the Fae switches skins to Mortal, chosing Caleb (the werewolf that wants her dead) as her lover. The player decided that when she betrayed her father, the Faery King, he stripped her of her fae nature. When Lilly's mother (still a fae) discovers this, she FREAKS OUT and disowns her, driving her out. (Accept people, but only conditionally)

Lacuna the Angel-turned-Hollow has “explosive amnesia” (a phrase we always say in our best Calculon voice.)

Caleb the werewolf blows up Lillth's home. Building maintenance is his part-time job, so we decided that, sure, he knows how to sabotage a gas line. (Be a fan of the PCs)

A big werewolf/fae/chosen/angel rumble in Gabriel's living room triggers a fatal heart attack in Gabriel's father. (Make them pay a price)

The Fectori tell Gabriel that they can bring his father back to life (“You'll never know the difference, Gaaaabrielll...”) if only he'd just join them. (Tell them possible consequences and ask)

Gabriel's sister discovers the body of the dead police detective in his bedroom. (Expose a dangerous secret to the wrong person)

Lacuna comforts Lilly while the former fae has a nervous breakdown. Their clumsy teenage sapphic sex allows Lilly (now Mortal) to change her Lover to Lacuna.

To my surprise (although I should know better at this point), Lilly orchestrates a big four-way sex scene between all the PCs. It triggers all their sex moves at once. I tell the two male PCs “I don't care if you never touch each other, it counts as having sex with each other.”

Lilly and Caleb come to a tenuous peace. After the sex-party, Lilly, Lacuna, and Caleb form a strange three-way relationship.

Caleb spills all the beans to his father, a powerful werewolf himself. Dad has something planned that involves the nazi-era crates hidden in his study (setting up for next season by announcing future baddness)

Gabriel takes the fight to the Fectori, leading them deep into the haunted mines and brining the mountain down on top of him, trusting that his God-touched powers will seal them away, like the angel once did.

So here's what I've learned from my first season of Monsterhearts...

Things live and die by strings, something that was quite obvious by session 2.

My female players are more filthy and depraved than my male players could ever hope to be.

There's a fine balance between continuing to escalate problems for the PCs and stepping back to let things shake out, especially when there's a built in time-limit on the campaign. I have to fight my instinct to keep piling on trouble.

If and when I run a new game of Monsterhearts, I will not use the chosen. It draws away from the internal conflicts by defining an outside “bad guy.” That said, I'm glad I used it in this first-run. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a better point-of-reference for most of my players rather than Twilight or Vampire Diaries.

When we eventually get around to Season 2, I think I'm going to skip ahead several months, perhaps all the way to the first day of the next school year. That'll give the town a chance to recover from the weird murder spree. It also gives me a chance to get my players to write “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essays. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Reliquary of the Lost God! [Mini-Map Monday]

Here lies a temple to a god that no one remembers. Maybe it's dedicated to a the forgotten god of the gnomes, utterly destroyed by the forces of darkness. Maybe it hold the remains of the progenitor of humanity. Maybe it's the last remnants of a dark Ur-god worshiped by an evil demihuman race lost to time. There's only one way to find out.