30 January 2009

Concept Art 2

This is Cole. My third concept character for the new web comic. The lightning and glowy eyes is more of just for fun. Like Anthony, the model for this character has an affinity for lightning, so thought it was a nice touch. Most likely my characters will be based in a non-powerful real world, but the powers are fun to play with since its my comic and I can do whatever I want. Muahahaha!


28 January 2009

Concept Art

So here are my first two attempts at drawing digitally using Manga Studio and my drawing pad. Not bad at all, considering the review I read said it wasn't geared towards color comics. I found that it just takes some layers, like everything else.

These are two concepts of the characters in my webcomic. I'll prolly run thru about three to four full concepts for each character before I decide on something. No, Anthony cannot really throw kamehameha, but the real life person I model him after is a Dragonball Z nut, so I figured it was only natural.

And yes, Sage will have legs, I just hadn't got that far before my wife was ready to play with colors. So that's where it ended up. The skirt is knee length. Its a total optical illusion that she's the same height as Anthony and without feet or shins. [Jedi mind trick] Ignore that detail. These are not the droids you're looking for. Move along. [/Jedi mind trick]


25 January 2009

Comic Love

I don't think I ever outgrew comics. I've always been a fan, starting with X-Men. I collected for quite a while, but sold them for a measly 100$ when I went into the Marines so my mother didn't have to store them.

I've started collecting the Star Wars Legacy comics from Dark Horse. Unfortunately I started at the end of the storyline, so I missed most of it, but that's okay. The art is over the top and really great. I also picked up Ender's Game comic, based on Orson Scott Card's novels. It's a five issue set, and I have the first two so far. The art is completely different than that of standard hero comics, and lends a touch of innocence to the harsh battle school.

Manga (japanese comics) are wonderful too, and are not just about super heroes, although they have that too. Some of my favorite manga are school days, daily life, and harem (one boy surrounded by four or five crazy girls).

I think my favorite manga ever is Inu Neko Jump by Mitsuru Hattori. I love his art, and the story is great. I saw one other manga by him, Otogi no Machi no Rena, and the art was great, but the story is pos def more adult than Inu Neko Jump. I guess he has one other manga that has been made into anime, but I haven't seen that one yet.

Web comics take up a significant amount of my weekend, also. I try to catch up on Goblins, Order of the Stick, Ctrl+Alt+Del, and Penny Arcade. And don't be discouraged by the comic on those links. It was first issue of each. The comic gets better with time.

My wife pointed me at Garfield Minus Garfield yesterday, and I read thru it both laughing and feeling deep pity for Jon Arbuckle. It shows the darker side of Jon's pathetic life with no comic relief and lightedness coming from the orange furball.

For my birthday my wife bought me a Wacom Bamboo drawing tablet. This is a thing of beauty. Being a 4x6 drawing pad, it fits the aspect ratio of my widescreen 19" monitor perfectly, and i can easily correlate where the spot on the pad should appear on my monitor. Now, it pos def does not work for gaming. At least not yet. It might do okay with some RTS, but Neverwinter 2 almost made me dizzy. There is a setting to make it mouse-like instead of tablet-like, but i have a mouse for that, so meh.

I've acquired Manga Studio and now there is much comic to be done. I've wanted to draw comics for a long time, but until recently i didn't have the faintest idea how to properly draw. All my previous drawings were one-shots. Either i draw it right the first time, or I don't bother. (My favorite were two characters I did for D&D 3.0 in the little 2" window on the bottom of the character sheet, but they were destroyed when my old cellie panicked about a raid by the guards.) But i've picked up a couple books on manga drawing and saw that they spend a lot of time drawing lines over the tops of their lines so they can erase the lower lines and... whatever. that's why I got Manga Studio. Layers without erasing. So now I have the concepts, I have the tools, I just need to work on my drawing ability. So in the next few weeks I might be posting some attempts and trials, and even a short comic strip or two as I develop my characters and pick my theme.

Mostly my ideas stem from the friends I have, now scattered to the winds, but still in my mind and other mushy stuff. Skipphag gave me a few ideas for funny stuff, and Lone provided me with one or two. The one I did for him, he laughed and said he didn't know if he should be flattered or insulted. Well, that's up to him. It made for an amusing read. I'll redo it digitally and post it later.

While I was doing my time I drew a lot because there is actually nothing else to do, and I got pretty good. I did a comic for my kids, but last time I asked my ex- about it she said she saw it under stuff on the kid's floor. Well, that didn't make me too happy, because I put a lot of work into that, and couldn't make a copy because of my situation. So digital is much better. I can post stuff to my blog and send links. They don't have to read them if they don't want to, and if they do, it won't end up on their floor.


18 January 2009

Sage's moment of Triumph

I set up an encounter to push my heroes a little. Have them think it over. Make them work for victory. They're 5th level now, and I wanted to kinda worry them.

I had an ambient youth run up and had a datapad to my wife's hero, a small flying assassin droid named T1-NK, and tell her that he was paid to deliver the message.

The datapad told her that someone knew why they were there and wanted the heroes to meet him on such and such landing pad at 0200 (yes, its mostly a twist out of DoD e3. i was rewriting it and keeping some of the elements to assist in flow).

So the party decides that they will scout the landing pad out early and just send in the assassin droid, not all of them. The kel-dor scout goes in 2 hrs early to an empty landing pad and passes thru the atmosphere shield, locking his magnetic boots to the outside to watch.

Time goes by.

A well dressed man in a uniform enters and stands on the landing pad, gazing out at the glow of the planet before him.

Tee-One enters a few minutes later, alone.

The man hears the doors and turns, smug, but is slightly startled when he realizes the droid is alone. He was expecting more. "Well, no matter," he says, "We'll catch up with your companions later. Now. Drop your weapons and... float down to the deck." At which time ten heavy stormtroopers enter behind her and line up pointing their blasters at her back.

Tee-One drops her blaster. A small panel on her back opens and from a spring loaded launcher flies a thermal detonator, landing right center of the group of storm troopers. One bloody mist cloud later, the storm troopers have been decimated and the commander stands stupidly slack jawed.

Tee-One, without missing a beat, "You had some information for me?"


17 January 2009

House Rules

This could also be subtitled as, "Big name publisher made hundreds of rules to control your little imaginative world, but you thought of stuff they didnt think of and made even more".

I read on a forum recently that it is a good idea to write down your house rules so they are not forgotten, misunderstood, or at least so there is a reference of them so the players don't think you're just making stuff up arbitrarily.

So, here's my top rules that follow me pretty much any d20 (or similar) system I play:

  1. Character Creation - When rolling ability scores, roll 4d6, dropping the lowest die, re-rolling all 1's. If you roll a set and you aren't happy with them, you can roll again, up to four times, but you can't go back to any previous set you've rolled. You have to use one of those five sets.
    Typically, this gives us heroic characters. Like... very heroic characters. If we compare our current Star Wars character's ability scores to the point buy system (which recommends 24-28 points), my party characters range more around 48-54. Are they overballanced? Maybe. But c'mon.. They're heroes. And no one likes to have an 8.
  2. Encumberance - This is kind of a tough one. I view it more like the video game equipment. You are not encumbered by things that you won't be using. Such as the seven suits of storm trooper armor that you plan on selling in the next shadowport. But all your gear that you wear and use on a regular basis should be accounted for.
  3. Ammo - You have enough ammo for just about any situation, unless you roll a 1 on your attack. (because rolling a 1 on attack is so confusing about what should happen, I like this rule. No worrying about if it blows up or shoots your buddy instead.) If you roll a 1 on the attack, roll 1d4. On a 1, you are out of ammo. Looks like you should have remembered to recharge that e-clip, or the e-clip failed. I might expand this to make 2-4 do other stuff on fails, but for now, I'm happy with that.
  4. Party bag of holding - I did this one to help with my wife's need to loot abso-freaking-lutely every baddie they kill. She sells the majority for 50%, keeps all grenades and explosives in this party bag that anyone can grab from. It's just for little stuff like grenades, that can be easily shared, without having to worry about who had them. I guess I can see the challenges that can be part of: "I throw the thermal detonator at the four clones and the badass bodyguard coming to capture me." "Nope, Sorry. Elzebub has them and she's on the other side of the station, " But i'm more of the mind that worrying about inventory takes away from the fun part. So, yeah. bag o' grenades ftw!
  5. Shooting into Melee - If you miss the shot by more than 5, random roll to decide who it hits. Damage is base weapon damage only, no bonuses of any kind. (level, sneak attack, etc) If you miss by more than 10 or less than 5, complete miss.

What are some of your house rules and where did they get their start?


10 January 2009

Game Theory - The Total Rewrite

This phrase really freaked me out when I first heard it. What could be cooler than a theory of games? But you know what? It isn't the cool new college course that all the design publishers are looking for, its actually military strategy. Which kinda works, if you're playing Total Annihilation. But I'm not talking about military strategem, or TA. I'm talking about design.

My first major campaign for Star Wars Saga Edition is going on. We are up to the third episode, and since I didn't care for the original RPGA written episode 3, I'm rewriting it.

Now, I've got to tell you, this is not just an easy throw something together thing. There is real thought and planning behind building an episode for an existing established campaign. I wanted to keep some of the same elements in the game so that key things that took place in the original will still happen in the rewrite, but will fit my new setting and events.

But it doesn't work to just cut and paste areas of the text, because they are very different in content.

For example, I just couldn't bring myself to put my very aggressive players thru four days of playing cards. It just wouldn't have worked. They would have been killing random npcs by the second day. So that had to go. But there is a purchase / exchange that happens during the card game. Now I have to have that purchase / exchange go down anyway, but in a diffent manner, and to where the players discover it anyway, and make it more interesting than hiding in shadows evesdropping or sitting somewhere high up and watching thru macrobinoculars.

So. For the first installment of my new RPG focused hobby blog, here we have:

Episode 3. Rewriting the Adventure.

  1. Keep the NPCs the same, just change their role. Rather than your Rodian being a scoundrel card sharp, throw him in position of the Noble. Dress him up in fancy clothes and give him an entourage.

  2. Keep the setting similar, just change the location. The original may take place on Jabba's Sail Barge over the dune sea. But that doesn't fit your new setting, since you aren't including Jabba, or the Tatoonian Dune Sea. How about a five day-six night stay aboard the luxury star cruise Correlian Star Resorts Cruise & Travel.

  3. Keep the main plot of the episode, just change the detail. The original was a rescue of the princess from the evil Empire's new space station detention facility before she's executed. Well, perhaps in your game, the Empire's base is an underground facility, and the rescue of the princess is freeing slaves. Plot: Rescue. Details: location / rescuee.

  4. Add in new stuff that makes your game different, but similar. Basically not all the encounters from the original episode are going to work in your new location/setting/goal. But coming up with interesting encounters can be a challenge. You don't want your episode rewrite to be the same. you want to give it your own flare and creativity. Let's say in the original the heroes were going to come across a datapad that would lead them to an NPC that knew what they were looking for. Well, that's a data encounter. How about instead, your hero's droid slices into the central station computer and that data that was going to be provided from the NPC is available there.

  5. Make it exciting. No matter how much you didn't like the original write, something about it made it exciting to the writers. Try to capture that element. It's okay to borrow from their example to do it. Just as the heroes save the princess and disable the tractor beam, escape from the big bad evil super villain (BBESV), they blast off into space only to discover their hyperdrive has been disabled. Dun dun DUN! Now they have to fight off waves of TIE fighters and fix the hyperdrive at the same time before the shields give out!

Yeah, keep that part.


08 January 2009

The Community

My wife has a blogger community. I've had my blog for about a year now. She's had hers for a couple months. She has a community and is getting comments and reads from other bloggers. What do i get? Random comments posted from random people, and once in a great while. I haven't been totally happy with that, but I didnt know where to go. What am I supposed to do to get a community? my friends don't read my blog. I can barely get them to show up to games (which isn't totally fair, because Sinister had a real emergency this week).

Well, I need a community. But my blog may need a target direction before I have readers. It may also need planned regular updates and themes. so far it is a collection of random thoughts and posts about my totally random activity of the day. Is that a direction? Is that a theme? Randomness in hobbying? I want a gamer community. Ah, well.

Forums, on the other hand, are a community that is easier to be a part of. I've been spending a lot of time on d20Radio in the star wars saga edition forums. I try to find things that I can throw in on from my experiences to assist those who have questions, even though I'm no master GM. I have been more on the pc side than gm side, but when our previous gm moved to Kansas, I stepped up to pick up the pieces as the next most experienced player (about 20 years).

I've had some good GM's in my time. Jake was our Shadowrun storyteller. He kept us interested and involved, and I've strived to provide some of the magic that came out of those games in my current group. Volgren was another. He had great adventure ideas and always kept us interested, and were always full of depth and sometimes the scale and scope was so far reaching that I'm amazed we survived at all.

So far my game has been reading from the little orange hilighted boxes, then picking out pieces of the rest of the paragraph to use as details, then setting up the battle map with the miniatures so the players could duke it out with stormtroopers. i have a few of the swminis from Skipphag, but not many. the normal table is a mix of swminis, 40k soldiers, iron kingdom heroes, and the occasional large empty black base to represent big monsters. The maps are cardstock that i had grid squares printed and then i cut out the proper room sizes and have even gone so far as to create little additions, such as a raised dias for the hutt, or a speeder for us to cruise around Cato Niemodia in.

But i want to do more. I want the experience to be even more memorable, so in my over zealous way, I dived full on into google looking for resources, and am tripping over community.


It says so much, just sitting there like that, begging people to walk in the door. Begging them to sit at the table, pick up a pencil and some dice, and play. Perhaps its my lack of experience as storyteller that is my shortcoming. On the fly isn't coming together fast enough to be coherent. For my wife's solo game that i'm planning, i'm writing down everything. It may sound a little wooden, but she doesn't care, she just wants to know what she gets for loot loves me anyway. But i'm writing down the intro, i'm writing down what she sees, hears, and the little fluff elements. For example, the beginning of the adventure will consist of an immersive description of a daydream that is going on while she is supposed to be practicing controlling her force sensitivity.

You are Jedi. Sworn protector of the Republic. Feared and awed throughout known space. Limitless power, boundless knowledge, vast resources all at your fingertips.

Or, at least they will be in a few years. For now, you are still a padawan learner, following at your master's heels. She is stern and strict, but fair, and you have learned much. You have a few missions under your belt now. You've been off Dantooine a couple times. You helped to neutralize a cunning assassin with a contract on an important senator. You helped bring down a warlord in the outer rim that was raiding isolated settlements for supplies. Neither easy, but definitely worth it for the experience it brought you.

But lately it’s been back to studies. Focusing on lifting stuff, deflecting stuff, moving stuff... it seems to never end. Your dreams of glory and fame have never felt so far away. The only thing that makes these days bearable is Juuna, your best friend from one of the outlying farms. Her presence chases away the doldrums and her mischief brings a touch of excitement to your life. You look forward to after studies when you can meet up and do something other than study. Perhaps today there will be boys involved, though your master wouldn't approve.

You are brought sharply out of your daydreams by a surprised shout, and you look about. Padawan Doona Vlyn is hovering three feet off the ground, flailing wildly. Apparently while running through exercises, as your concentration wavered, so did your target. The stones lay before you haphazardly. Maybe you should do something about Doona.

There. I will read all that to her to immerse her in the story, get her feeling like her character and lead her to the mindset that I view for her character. For a full party I wouldn't be so presumptuous. They may have their own style of play, but this is specifically for Sage.

I hope she likes it.

Wait. I thought I was done, but then I looked at the title. The Community. How does ending on my current star wars game for my wife have anything to do with community? It doesnt, but now I remember where I was going with this.

I think I found them.


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