May 29 2012

Let There Be Art! Also, Some Mini-Epiphanies

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So! I’ve been going through some interesting mental gymnastics recently about my creative endeavors, which I will spare you the sordid details of (at least partially because I don’t think think they’re finished and I’m not sure I spotted them all as it is); the net result as of this weekend, however, is that I went out and bought myself a new color printer and a laminator for making artistic stuffery.

I also put together a new price list for the upcoming cons, which ended up being a lot more fun of an activity than I expected. Something about making it, jazzed me up about wanting to do more art, probably at least in part because I tried to pick some of my favorite pieces for putting onto it. Note that I said some of my favorite pieces, not necessarily some of my best pieces.

The reason I say this is because one of the things that’s been getting the way of my creative endeavors lately is the nagging sense that I’m not working on what I “should be” working on. Writing fanfic? I “should be” trying to write a proper novel! Drawing ponies? I “should be” trying to do something more grand or with a broader appeal, etc. And few things kill the joy in art faster than the word “should.”

And without joy, what’s the point of doing art? I mean. Really.

So screw it. I’m going to do the art I want to do, and stop trying to think about what would be “good for my career” or “get a lot of attention” or “broaden my fanbase” or whatever. The goal is to be having fun with it! Anything that adds to fun, is a good thing. Anything that takes away from fun, is doing it wrong.

Bringin’ the Awesome

I also had a little mini-epiphany last night while playing “Draw Something” of all the silly things. I sent a way-more-elaborate-than-it-needed-to-be drawing to another player, who sent back the message “Just a [simple thing] would have been fine.”

I wrote back, “‘Fine’ is fine, but I always try to at least aim for ‘awesome’ if I can!” I meant it as a joke, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. The truth of the matter is, I’m not a particularly good artist– in point of fact, most of the time I’m way out of my depth. But for whatever reason, I keep aiming for awesome, even if I know I’m not likely to hit it. This used to be a constant source of frustration for me, but somehow, lately, it’s become a source of pride and pleasure. I dunno, maybe I’m channeling my inner Soarin?

Whatever it is, I like it. And I want to hold on to it. 🙂

Finally, Commission Pre-Announcement

It is widely-known, by the ten or eleven people who know such things, that I almost never do commissions. However! As I need to rustle up a few extra bucks to offset the cost of going to BroNYCon, I’m going to open up some commission slots in the next week or so. The reason I’m telling everyone now before I actually do it, is because there will be limited spaces, and in the past I’ve received flak for the way the slots opened and then closed again before people even had a chance to get one.

I don’t expect it to go that way this time– I’m not the celebrity I used to be– but better safe than sorry. So this is the official word: if you’re interested in a commission, keep your eyes open, because they’ll be opening soon.

That’s all for now! Have an awesome day. 🙂

-The Gneech

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May 28 2012

Monday Monster: The Foggy Bottom Phantasm

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When the Metro Authority called in the D.C. Ghostbusters to report a “dragon” was chewing up the rails between Roslyn and Foggy Bottom, in the deepest part of the tunnels under the Potomac River, the Gang in Grey had no idea what they were going to find down there… and once they did find it, they still had no idea what it was!

Turns out it was an electrophagic byakhoid, leaked into our dimension from the world/plane/whatever the group refers to as “Saturn,” during the incident of black slime portals opening up in the apartment of artist Klaus Furuhobendamengal, creating a lair for itself where it could feed off of the electric generators used to run the Metro trains. The byakhoid was chewing on the third rail so it could feed off of the powerful electric shocks.


Byakhee by ~christopherburdett on deviantART

♠ Byakhoid, Electrophagic

Unclassified (Non-Spectral) Transdimensional Servitor Creature
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d12, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d6, Notice d6, Psionics (Arcane) d6, Stealth d6
Pace: 4/16; Flight 16″ (Climb 4″), Parry: 5, Toughness: 10(2), Charisma: 0
———————————————————————-
Special Abilities:
Arcane Psionics: Gain the Psionics arcane background
Impr Frenzy: Attack twice with no penalty on Fighting rolls
Claws: (Str+d4)
Electrophagic: This creature feeds on electricity. On any turn this creature is hit by an electrical or quasi-electrical attack (including proton packs), it gains the Regeneration (Fast) ability and 2 Power Points, which disappear at the end of its turn. (This only happens once per turn; additional hits are not cumulative.)
Fear -3: Enemies roll Guts check with Fear rating as modifier
Natural Armor: +2
Size +2: Adjustment to Toughness based on creature’s mass
Star Travel: This creature can fly between the stars.
———————————————————————-
Arcane Powers (10 Power Points):
Blast: Targets in Medium Blast Template take 2d6 damage; Double points adds +d6 damage OR Large Burst
Bolt: Single bolt 2d6 damage; Up to 3 bolts at 1pt per bolt; 2pts does one 3d6 bolt
Damage Field: Anyone touching target takes 2d6 damage, 2d8 damage on a Raise

Text by John “The Gneech” Robey. Artwork by Christopher Burdett. Ghostbusters copyright Sony Pictures and used for fan purposes only. Stat block created by Hero Lab® (Registered Trademarks of LWD Technology, Inc. Free download at http://www.wolflair.com). Savage Worlds is Copyright © 2004-2012 by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. All rights reserved.

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May 17 2012

Fictionlet

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“So how about that Irene Adler episode of Sherlock?” said Alex, scooping a handful of pretzel sticks out of a bowl that walked by. “Was that awesome or what?”

“Eh,” said Greg, as if it were a subject he’d rather not talk about, “I dunno…”

“Oh, here it comes,” said Alex. “Let me guess, you think it’s too sexy, right? You hate that they dare put eroticism into your oh-so-intellectual Sherlock Holmes stories, don’t you?”

“Well, no,” said Greg, “that’s not it. I mean, I don’t like that, but I’ve pretty much come to expect it from anything on television– everyone in show business is constantly giggling like a 13-year-old about how ‘naughty’ they are. Why should Sherlock be any different? That’s not what bugged me about it, but I haven’t quite put my finger on what it was.”

“How about this?” said Brigid, and swigged her drink. “They pretend to make Irene Adler a ‘strong woman’ by turning her into a dominatrix, specifically for the purpose of knocking her back down again. How about, for having the gall to be so uppity that she actually gets a brief advantage over Sherlock, she has to go all fluttery over him, then get swatted and crushed into crying and begging? How about the way at the end she’s finally kneeling in a freakin’ burqa, where she gets rescued like a goddamn damsel in distress because Sherlock had the ‘grace’ to be merciful after putting a whore in her place? How about because it’s the same damn misogynistic crap, just with a fresh coat of paint?”

Greg blinked at Brigid for a moment, then said, “Yeah, I think that might be it.”

-The Gneech

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May 16 2012

Bustin’ Makes Me Feel Savage

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So I’ve decided to give Savage Worlds a bash for the next session (at least) of my Ghostbusters campaign, so see how we all like it. I’ve translated all the PCs from the UHM system (hardly an exact process) and started writing up a few critters for practice. I’m also writing up a rules summary doc for my players, with modifications for the setting.

I took some inspiration from Graywolf’s “Savage Ghostbusters”, but actually ended up using the gear stats from the Horror Companion (I love that SW has official stats for proton packs and ghost traps), with my own house rules for the application of psychomagnetheric slime. It’s very much a work in progress, as I get the hang for how SW actually behaves in play. I’ve got as good a grasp as I can get on the rules just from reading, but how a game reads and how it behaves at the table are usually two very different things.

One thing I’m undecided on, is the use of miniatures. Savage Worlds, for all its rules-liteness, is written with the assumption that you’ll be using minis, and while I like using miniatures for my Pathfinder game, I’m not sure I really want to be pulling out the mat and figs for busting spooks. Ghostbusters (when done right, anyway) alternates back and forth between freewheeling and terrifying, neither of which are really well served by counting squares; on the other hand, one of the fun things about Ghostbusters is how busting spooks is “just a job,” like being a plumber (or possibly an exterminator), and I can see how having the miniatures could make it feel more like blue-collarey work. (“Yo, Iggy, ya got yerself a nasty free-floating vapor at about ten yards, hit that sucker up with a capture stream and it’s Miller Time.”)

The fact that there aren’t easily-convertible Ghostbusters miniatures doesn’t help, but isn’t really that big a factor– I could easily make Cardboard Heroes-style figs if I wanted to. There have also been some really nice custom minis made, but that’s a bit of a stretch for my sculpting chops and would take forever.

I’ll poll my players on the topic (HEY PLAYERS: Weigh in on this! …That was easy.) and see what they have to say. I’ve certainly got plenty of monsters I could use as spook figs.

-The Gneech

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May 14 2012

Monday Monster: Slimer

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Slimer, drawn by The GneechSlimer, a.k.a. the Onionhead, a.k.a. the Sedgewick Spud, is a fairly baseline Class V Free-Roaming Vapor, believed to be a “remnant,” i.e., an ectoplasmic “echo” of a living person, rather than the actual spirit of that person. In Slimer’s particular case, it is speculated that he is the remnant of a well-known television personality who died of a drug overdose while staying in the Sedgewick Hotel. The television personality’s inexhaustible appetite for food, drink, and other earthly pleasures, combined with the highly PKE-charged architecture of the Sedgewick hotel, caused this spook to manifest with an ironically insatiable gluttony. For all of Slimer’s desire to consume all food, drink, candy, and so forth, it merely passes right through him and just ends up on the floor in a disgusting mess.

As spooks go, Slimer is fairly harmless, but that’s mostly a factor of his essentially benevolent nature. Barely even sentient, Slimer tends to be clueless and whimsical, with a cowardly streak– if he were more viciously inclined, he would be capable of being hazardous. As it is, he generally just trashes the place and covers everything with slime in the process.

♠ Slimer

Type V Full-Roaming Vapor


Creature: Phantasm
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Intimidation d6, Notice d6, Stealth d8, Throwing d6
Pace: 8/10, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5, Charisma: -2
Gear: Thrown Objects d6 (Str+d4, 3/6/12), Slime d8 (Str+slime effect)


Special Abilities:
Quirk (Ghostly Gluttony)
Ugly
Ghostly Powers
Ethereal: Immune to mundane physical attacks; Only seen if desired
Fear: Enemies roll Guts check at +0
Flight (Ghostly): Spooks float around.
Ghostly Focus: Ghost may recover from incapacitated
Slime: Cover target in sticky slime


Arcane Powers (10 pp)
Entangle (slime): Restrained target suffers -2 Pace and skills linked to Agi and Str; Break free with Str or Agi; Single target costs 2 points, Medium Burst Template costs 4
Speed (panic): Doubles target’s Pace; Running is free with raise
Telekinesis (ghostly): Move single target weighing 10 lbs times Spirit die type (50 lbs with raise); Weapons use arcane skill and Spirit; Drop does Spirit+d6 damage

Text and artwork by John “The Gneech” Robey. “Slimer” and Ghostbusters copyright Sony Pictures and used for fan purposes only. “The Onionhead Ghost” originally created by Dan Akroyd. Stat block created by Hero Lab® (Registered Trademarks of LWD Technology, Inc. Free download at http://www.wolflair.com). Some inspiration drawn from “Savage Ghostbusters” by T. Jordan “Greywolf” Peacock. Savage Worlds is Copyright © 2004-2012 by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. All rights reserved.

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May 08 2012

The Savage World of Ghostbusters?

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So in happier thoughts, I’ve been contemplating what I want to do with my Ghostbusters campaign. Not so much plot-wise, I’ve got that worked out for now, but just in terms of game mechanics. The old WEG Ghostbusters Universal How-Much (UHM) system (which later evolved into the d6 System they used for Star Wars et al.) is certainly fast and light, but I dunno, it just feels lacking somehow. I mean, it would be serious overkill to use something as gamey as d20 for a comedy-horror campaign, but I often find myself wishing for something with just a little more structure than the “Throw ALL the Brownie Points at it!” UHM system.

So I’m looking at three basic options, and tossing them out here for interested parties to throw in their own $0.02 if they so desire. Input welcome and desired!

BRP/5 — a.k.a. “Call of Cthulhu on a d20”

I’ve tinkered around before with a homebrew version of BRP (i.e., the system used for Call of Cthulhu), which runs off a d20 rather than d% just to keep the math simpler. So for example, if your CoC character has 55% in a skill, the BRP/5 version would have “+11” with that skill, with the idea being that you roll and try to beat a 20.

The advantage of BRP is that it’s fairly fast and flexible, but still is a granular enough system to feel like it has some meat to it. The disadvantage in this particular case is that I’d have to do all the system converting, which is something I enjoy tinkering around with but will definitely take some time.

Savage Worlds

One strong contender that I’m looking at is Savage Worlds. Billed as “Fast! Furious! and Fun!” Savage Worlds has a lot of fans among people who like generic systems but don’t like the mathiness of GURPS or HERO. I’ve never actually played it before, but I do own a copy of the “Explorer’s Edition” and have poked around with it a little. The basic rule seems to be that you have Stats/Skills represented by a d4, d6, d8, d10, or d12, and you need to beat a 4 to succeed. Combat is a “Fighting” or “Shooting” skill check, followed by rolling damage and comparing it to a target’s toughness– beat it and they take a wound, fail and nothing happens. It also has a built-in “Wild Die” mechanic that could easily be remapped to the Ghost Die, which is one of my favorite mechanics of the UHM system.

Seems pretty straightforward; the hard part would be getting used to all the nomenclature (“raises” for “criticals,” “aces” for “rolling the max,” etc.) and system quirks (drawing playing cards for initiative, for instance). The most complex part of the system appears to be the actual character creation rules, which are a point-based system that changes the cost of things based on prerequisites and such. Doing it on paper would probably give me a headache, but it’s easy enough to do with Hero Labs.

Savage Worlds has the advantage of already having been written and there being resources for it out there, while still being a fast-moving rules-lite system (at least, once we get used to it) that’s still a bit more robust than the UHM system. The disadvantage, of course, is that it’s a new system we’ve never played before and have no idea what it’ll actually be like in play. Of course, we could always just try it for a few sessions and see what we think.

Option Three: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

Of course, the UHM system does work well enough and there’s little compelling reason we couldn’t just stick with it other than my never-ending desire to tinker with things. Not knowing my players’ opinions on the subject, it’s hard to say (hence this post). If they are attached to the UHM system (or just loathe to learn a new one), it’s certainly still an option on the boards.

Any thoughts on the subject?

-The Gneech

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