Saturday, January 28, 2012


Okay, so not game related, but I finally had the nerve to try and draw Betty Page.  Maybe Betty could attack a pack of PCs from atop a dragon.  Yeah.  That's the ticket.  But for right now, she's just chillin.

Betty has been bikini-ed for your protection.  For those of you who are feeling brave and NSFW, hop on over to my deviantArt gallery for the un-bikini-ing. :)

- Ark

Friday, January 27, 2012

New DM Advice

The Boy has decided to take the plunge and run a one shot Labyrinth Lord game next week.  Two years ago, he referreed a game of Savage Worlds - doing very well I might add, but has not been back to that side of the screen since then.

He's eleven years old now, which was the same age that I started DMing.  However, he has four years of experience playing rpgs, so he has a huge leg up, and I anticipate that his first game will be about 17 bazillion times better than mine.

The Boy is a bit apprehensive about the prospect of DMing, and the advice his old man has given him probably hasn't calmed his nerves any.  I can be somewhat of a morose, haphazard, lazy, doom-and-gloom style game planner.  (Just try to kill them - all - horribly - with random monsters and traps far tougher than them.  A lot.  It's easy! Story?  Pffft!)  Works for me - but maybe not anyone else.

So, The Boy would gladly appreciate any advice from OTHER PEOPLE on how to DM, pull a one shot together, etc.

Thanks in advance. :)

- Ark

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dungeonspiration: Type IV

As we stand uncomfortably at the windswept gravesite watching the coffin of Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons being slowly lowered into the ground, I feel the desire to toss in a white lily.  The lily is a symbol of innocence that has been restored to a soul once departed.  It expresses purity, majesty, and sympathy.

I owe a lot to Fourth Edition.  It had been years since I had played a role playing game when I heard that a new version of D&D was coming out.  All of the things that had kept me away from the table - moving around from town to town like a refugee, dating, marriage, college, birthin' a baby, being laid off after 9/11 - all of those things had settled to the point of manageability.  I had some time for me again, and here was a fresh new D&D, peeking it's head around the corner.

How could I resist?

Fourth edition finally gave me the impetus to sit down and really read, understand, and implement the entirety of a gaming system.  Before, it was enough to get a gist of a game and then fly be the seat of my pants.  Type IV begged - demanded - to be understood before played - it being so different and all.

I met a lot of people, played a lot of games, and have friends I never would have because of Fourth Edition.  Back in 2007, it was a great rallying point for those of us whom life had whisked away from gaming and were coming back to the fold.

I got to play with minis.  I had always wanted to incorporate  minis in my games, but beyond using them as a marker for marching order, I'd never gotten to use them.  Again, 4th edition demanded their use, and I gladly tossed wads of money to keep myself swimming in little plastic toys.

Fourth Edition was the first role playing game my son ever played, and he loved it.  It introduced him to doing math on the fly, use of spatial thinking and strategy, and cooperating with a group of people to complete a complicated task.  The game also helped us bond together as father and son in the same way that others bond together with baseball or football or some-such thing.

In the end, however, Fourth Edition D&D never gave me the warm fuzzies that Basic or Advanced Dungeons and Dragons had given me in my youth.  At first I thought it was just me, but after a lot of trying and tinkering, it became clear that Type IV wasn't designed to provide what I was looking for.  It took a journey into the OSR for me to remember - and rediscover - what I had been looking for all along.

My long, loud break-up with Fourth Edition is well documented on this blog, including embarrassing rants and name-calling, so I don't feel the need to repeat any of it.  Let's just say I fell out of love and hired a mean and vindictive lawyer.

This column is about inspiration - and inspiring other.  Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons inspired me to get back into role-play.  It inspired me to get out and meet new people.  It has even helped to inspire my son and I to form a closer bond.  It even brought me back to the very roots of my gaming career.  In those regards, Fourth Edition was far from a failure - but a raging success.

The innocence I once came to Fourth Edition with has been restored by it's death.  So yes, I'll gladly toss that lily into the grave.

Fifth Edition is now peeking its head over the horizon.  I wonder - what will it inspire?

- Ark

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Zak's Question Thingy

Okay, I'm finaly getting around to answering Zak's question thingy:

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
If realm of game mechanics, I'd say the Dead Simple Lock & Trap Mini-Game.

2. When was the last time you GMed?
Last Saturday.

3. When was the last time you played?
Last Wednesday.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.
An adventure based on Lorna, The Ark, one of Alfonso Azpiri's Heavy Metal stories.  Kind of like Metamorphosis Alpha, except with less clothing.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Move on to the next player.  Gotta keep things rolling.  If I'm waiting for ALL the players, then I calmly and quietly plot their deaths.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
Spaghetti, pizza, buffalo wings, beef jerky, peppermint candy, very small rocks, sloths.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
Never physically - but mentally - yes.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
Last session in Stars Without Numbers, one of the PCs who happen to have been a spy robot that could change his physical form impersonated a security officer on a space station and got swept into an illegal cage fight below decks.  Hilarity ensued and even the Boy joined in in another cage fight.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither? Yes.  Yes.  It flows back and forth and all around.

10. What do you do with goblins?
Make them tricksey.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
A UFC cage fight.  The fact that the cage fight in the game was a naked cage fight was purely my invention.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
The Boy, after fighting in a naked cage fight, forgetting to put on his clothes and going all medieval on an agitated spectator, gutting him to death with a moly knife, then suddenly realized what he had done and slapping a Lazarus patch to bring the poor corpse back to life.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
Actually - Big Eyes, Small Mouth.  I just found it in a pile of old manga and I forgot that I had kept it.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
In the early days, Erol Otus and Jeff Dee.  Later, Elmore was my man.  A couple of years ago, Wayne Reynolds.  These days - John Kovalic. :)

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
Yes.  But then again, we are talking about my son.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)
I'd say back in high school running the I3-5 Desert of Desolation series.  It has a nice Egyptian flair and fits so well into the whole tomb robbing thing.  There were a lot of tricks and traps and mysteries for the party to solve.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
A room with a big table and chairs.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
Rolemaster and Big Eyes, Small Mouth.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
H. P. Lovecraft and Lao-Tse.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
Seriously non-serious people who can be serious when required.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?
Joining a religious cult.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?
An rpg that replicated real life physics, physiology, and psychology - scaled well from individuals to armies - and was equally effective replicating stone age to super science.  Oh - and is easy to play and whose entire ruleset can be memorized by my feeble mind so I never have to look at the book.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?
Honestly, they don't.

- Ark

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pony Roller

And those of you who think I can leave well enough alone should know better.  Ponies are Magic.

So this is Twilight Sparkle rolling up her character the old fashioned way - 3d6 in order.  Looks like she's off to a bad start.

This is for Erin Palette and her awesomely awesome Unknown Ponies: Failure is Awesome.  Which I missed.  Completely.  Dammit.  I only check Facebook like every other week.

- Ark

Lady Roller

By popular demand - for those identifying as female. :)

- Ark

Old School Roller

Here is a little scribble I did.  It's yours.  Feel free to put it on your t-shirts, coffee mug, your blog, or shave your head and have it as a nifty new tattoo.  But don't sell it.  I think some people claim they own the shirt or something silly like that. :)

Higher res available on request.

- Ark

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dungeonspiration: Thinking

I was toying with dropping this column at the start of the year, but due to some kind words from readers, I chose not to, and instead just slow it down to every other week.  We'll see.  I enjoy writing the articles.  I enjoy thinking about writing the articles.  But there is the problem - my thinking is gone all different recently.

Drawing is to blame - I'm sure.  I've been drawing a lot over the past few months - rekindling my love for making pictures - which was in it's height decades ago when I was first playing D&D.  Drawing uses vastly different parts of the brain that than a lot of different activities - oh - such as thinking in words about words you are going to type out in a blog.

It's been somewhat difficult to rectify the two - writing muscle and drawing muscle.  These images take me away from my standby form of communication.  But it's not that I'm idle.  I don't -not- think about gaming and blogging.  I just - I guess I just think about it visually.  It's been hard translate.  I guess that's the word.  One part of my brain has a tough time talking to another part of my brain.

But something interesting has been happening.  When I sit down and play D&D or Stars Without Numbers or Pathfinder or whatever, my imagination has become more vivid.  I see the game very vividly - maybe even more vividly that when I was a young pimpled punk clutching the blue Holmes and dreaming.  Even the bane of my imagination - mini skirmishes in Pathfinder - play in my mind in technicolor - not just on the gaming mat.

As I read stories now - the images in my head are wonderful.  I'm so happy that this has coincided with the Vayniris Anthology Project.  I've been reading the entries and hoo-boy - the descriptive power of these great authors is giving me some excellent TV in my head.  (Thanks guys, btw.)  

It's all very inspiring to me.  I want to be more descriptive in games - fill other players with wonderful pictures - not just as a DM - but as a fellow player.  I just kinda have to relearn how to connect both parts of my brain.  Perhaps some duct tape will help.

So, I don't know if this is inspiring or helpful at all - but here it is.  Oh, and before I go - I fixed up a progress sheet for Little Miss Skyrim up there, in case any of you are interested in the artistic process of some old dude who can't draw as well as he wants to, but is sure enough trying:

Have a wonderful day.

- Ark

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cognitive Dissonance

Is it weird that:

1) I wish WOTC the best of luck with 5e and am even interested in beta testing the game to help make it an even better game,

. . . but at the same time . . .

2) I hope that WOTC fails miserably with 5e and goes down in flames, creating such a sulfur-belching crater that no game companies will go anywhere near the name Dungeons and Dragons and we can finally let the poor thing rest in peace


- Ark

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What Happens When You Let The Demons Read Carcosa

Happy New Year!  I'll remember 2011 as the year I moved from a rather monotonous diet of 4e games in the RPGA to full fledged nostalgia overload with the OSR, through the conspicuous consumption of ancient role playing paraphernalia and glorious, glorious mass killing of PCs.

I also started blogging seriously (or not so seriously) about my old school gaming and the process of bringing my son into the fold.  This year I'm going to be putting more focus into drawing with the Rather Gamey comic.  I had a lot of fun drawing the My Little Pellatarrum mock comic for Erin Palette, so I figure I might as well stay the course.

So, Thursdays will now alternate between Dungeonspiration articles and the comic.  Hopefully - if things go right - I can graduate to TWO or maybe THREE panels per comic.  Woot!

(No actual correlation between the term 'comic' and the concept of 'humor' is implied.)

- Ark

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Who Do Dwarves Hate?

Members of the 'Sexy Elves for Axeless Dwarves' Charity Cheerleaders Squad, that's who.

Really, it was just an excuse to practice drawing a picture of an axe pulled tight across boobies.  Why?  Ummmmm . . . no idea.  Oh yeah - fun!  Yeah, that's it.  It was fun! :)

- Ark

Monday, January 2, 2012

Vayniris Anthology Project Update

I'd like to thank everyone for their great story submissions for the Vayniris Anthology Project.  We have some wonderful stuff here that I am reading through now.

We have a slight problem though . . .

There are not quite enough stories to flesh out a full anthology.  I know that there were other stories being worked on that were not completed by the end of the year.  As such, I'm going to extend the submission deadline to March 31st, 2012.  And if you are interested in submitting more than one story, please feel free.

I'd really like this project to be successful, and I'm sure a little time wouldn't hurt at all. :)

- Ark