Tuesday, February 14, 2017

This Game is Ugly

A few nights ago while wrapping up a game, I realized something...my drawings are ugly. Misshapen, lump ridden, fluid oozing, splotchy, wall-eyed. At their best simply just visually maladjusted. My technique is both amateurish and unpleasant. This is not entirely through lack of skill.

These drawings, the ombudsmen of my DIY RPG has been online for a while now. I do not get comments on my drawings. (I used to drive a Charger painted camouflage. No one ever commented on that either. Par for the course).

My illustrations are purposeful, they are faithful representations of my game reality. I like them the same way that rust blossoms from underneath a protective coating. It brings to mind something my mom once said about my artwork, that it “glorified war and objectified women”.

I read a lot. In between books two and three of the Dune sextilogy, I read a Zine called Rocket Queen. It’s authored by a stripper who writes about her vocation. In the second issue she talks about “The Whore of Babylon” and I quote “The whore as a symbol is a shortcut. A lack of imagination supplemented with an easy metaphor.” This struck a chord with me and partially clarified why I make everything in my game ugly. 

Ugliness is a great leveler. In this world we allow ourselves to be conditioned by the trope of beauty.  In the world of RPG’s beautiful imagery becomes an “easy metaphor” which encourage “a lack of imagination”. Beauty = Power. So shortsighted and dull. Why can’t Galadriel have buck teeth? Wonder Woman with a huge proboscis and a uni-brow? If anyone deserves a hump, it’s Maleficent. Alas, I am truly beating a dead horse.

Everything in my game is riddled with a flaws. One table might inform you that you have a “head shaped like rotted fruit”.  You can elect to take the skill “Nervous Tick” and throw opponents off by twitching. Arcanists can cast a spell called “Big Long Tongue”. A “Fighting Scroatt” has an attack in which you are grabbed by its mouth so that your “head goes down into stomach acids that melts facial features”.

Non-beautification bonds everyone together. I find that people interact within the game differently, they ask questions more, want to know, spend time on actions and details. One reason may be that the “Beauty = Power” formula erases creativity. When a player sees the “Beautiful (fill in the blank)”, they don’t ask any more questions.

I don’t think I’ll be trying to draw anything beautiful soon.

You can find all two issues of the Rocket Queen Zine at: https://microcosmpublishing.com/

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Amazing Crypt Lord Screen

Many moons ago I posted a new ref screen, designed for more referee/player visibility. It's a great design, except that it's not very portable. Well, not any more...

Typically I carry all my stuff to some location to play. The goal it to have everything fit into two small portable files, designed to hold 8 1/2 x 11 paper. This screen has many features: 1) I made it as short as possible so everyone could see my face clearly at all times (this also works in reverse). 2) The front acts as an angled display base for illustrations, maps and notes. 3) The top edge holds dice and pencils. And now it fits into my portable file. Gaming infrastructure gets a bad rap, but when the detrimental elements of the physical process of gaming is eliminated, you are left with a better experience. 

I am still slaving away on my events for Gary Con IX. After that, there will be a more svelte version of the above screen. Eagle eyed viewers may have spotted the other big innovation in the video, it will be revealed soon!

Here is link to the ref screen post: http://crypts-n-creepies.blogspot.com/2016/01/coolest-gamemaster-screen-ever.html

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

You Break It...You Bought It!

Real crypt openers give the tourist infested White Market a wide berth. But a few days of climbing out of pits and listening at doors wears down even the most veteran plunderers. Ah! The market awaits. You have a few sodiums jingling in your pocket and those sun dried meat strips sure look good. Never mind the whole place is awash in the cheapest trash this side of Mordor. What harm is there in laughing at the “Big Svensen” t-shirts, sand-globes and mustache steins? Live a little! Why look here’s a replica of Eve L. Hay Ed’s Cursed Crystal Skull. Look at the detail of the mystic runes and the simulated anti-life glow. It even seems to radiate pure evil and the tag says it’s only 1 mercury piece...

Crypt openers will have literally 240 minutes of non-stop fun in this adventure I like to call…”You Break It...You Bought It!”. The event is scheduled for 8 am on Saturday. Your chair awaits!

One of the many interesting characters in C-N-C