Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Russ Nicholson Art

Russ Nicholson has put up a new post where he relates some of the events from the Mon du Jeu convention that recently happened in Paris. He shares some pictures that, for various reasons, didn't make it into his presentation. Among the pictures are this blog's banner and the back cover illustration for MAROONED ACROSS SPACE AND TIME. Depicted is a band of ragtag adventurers, including a chitinous man, fighting off the hostile advance of a mutant strangler. Good times!

What's extra cool to me is that the picture immediately following is a reworking of the Githyanki and Githzerai, originally made famous in the Fiend Folio. The denizens of Yezmyr are in good company, to be sure.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Interesting Places: Day of the Otyugh

This is my final take on the Otyugh Trough.


I like this version the best. I've totally lost the contemporary "over-Photoshopped" look, accentuated the hand drawn nature, and simplified visual interpretation. The muck is easy to see, there are no grid lines where you don't need them, etc. At this point I am done with this subject, but I will continue to experiment with this style.

The Fine Print: I am sharing this map under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. If you follow that link you will be able to read about the conditions that apply to this work. In a nutshell: (a) you can't use it commercially, (b) you must attribute it to me, and (c) you must share any derivative works that you create.

Interesting Places: Otyugh Trough Redux

I'm not one for the "dungeon tile" look championed by producers of the 3E/4E eras, nor am I down with "excessive Photoshop." I hear a lot of "I like hand drawn maps," and I can appreciate that. At the same time, however, there's a lot of awful hand drawn maps out there. (And lest you think I'm sitting on some sort of high horse, I too have drawn any number of awful maps.)

I got no comments on the recent Otyugh Trough post, which is too bad, because I was hoping to get some discussion of sewer maps going. There are a lot of really crappy sewer maps out there. (Bad pun intended.) HUGE RUINED PILE recently posted a sewer map from a 3rd party producer that, while curvaceous, was way too bland looking. (Not so humble opinion alert.) That map served as my (negative) inspiration to draw up the Otyugh Trough.

I tried to go for a cross between old and new with the Otyugh Trough map. It was hand drawn, but I used Photoshop to add detail. In addition, on that particular map I experimented with a texture fill to represent the nasty, swirling muck. Maybe that doesn't work so well? As an experiment, I am posting a less refined version. This is how it looked before I used any fills or textures. Now you can actually see where I used the brush along the periphery of the walls.


This version reminds me somewhat of the maps of the dungeons beneath Tegel Manor. Specifically, the fine detail of the terraced ledges. In the previous rendition they were lost amidst the textured muck. Now they are clear as rows of sharp teeth. The peripheral brush strokes remind me of Mythmere's map of the first level of Tomb of the Iron God. Although less "contemporary" looking, this map excites my eye much more than the previous. The only thing I am really left wondering about is whether I should fill in the interior earth areas or not. Should I let the grid extend outside of the tunnels and chambers or not? Opinions? Also, I tend to back my maps with black instead of "no repro blue." Does anyone really give a damn? I mean, really? Just wondering…

The Fine Print: I am sharing this map under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. If you follow that link you will be able to read about the conditions that apply to this work. In a nutshell: (a) you can't use it commercially, (b) you must attribute it to me, and (c) you must share any derivative works that you create.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A New Publishing Endeavor

Russ Nicholson put up a nice post on his blog yesterday that mentioned an email exchange we had recently. In addition to being uproariously funny, it reminded me that I hadn't launched the new Calific™ website. Well, the cat's out of the bag now. I kicked the site screaming into the world a few hours ago and I'm terrifically excited about it.

Calific™ is my new gaming company. Its focus is on science fantasy, one of my chief loves. I've been sick to death of elves, dwarfs, and hobbits for the longest time. I want to mix things up. To that end, I'm aiming to channel some serious Brian Aldiss and Richard Corben. It's high time that the fringe got some fresh exposure. I'm going to start with some modules.

There are tons of adventures out there in the world, but to this day I've not found the breed of science fantasy module that I crave. Calific™ will start by changing that. An initial series of three modules is planned, starting with Y1 MAROONED ACROSS SPACE AND TIME. I'll spare you the details, as you can read about it at the company's website.

There's still a metric ton of work to be done before Y1 sees the light of day. The good news is that 90% of the art assignments are in. The bad news is that I'm not finished with the writing. Moreover, there are still the matters of editing, layout, and printing to be dealt with. If all that's not crazy enough, we've only just begun to scratch the surface with play testing. There really is a ton of stuff to do. Luckily, I've got lots of help.

I'll speak more on this endeavor in due course. For now, I want to keep my energies focused on the work at hand. That necessarily means continuing with the light posting schedule. I do plan to keep posting on this blog, however. The Creative Commons maps, while they may be few and far between, are definitely not going away. I love sharing my experiments with you.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Interesting Places: Otyugh Trough

Deep within the bowels of the City of Splendor, in the sub-sewers beneath the Domain of the Demon Rats, is the Otyugh Trough. So named because of the many otyugh that dwell within, this is a nightmarish place. The upper sewers from the city drain here through a complex network of miasmic tunnels. The air is befouled by noxious fumes wafting from the rivers of offal and muck that ooze throughout. These tunnels are extremely dangerous. If the vile creatures inhabiting the bubbling waste don't do you in, the horrible diseases you will catch most certainly will. And where there is solid ground, it is covered with refuse and garbage from ages past. In addition to ferocious otyugh, slimes and molds are a common threat.


This particular map was fun to draw. Some points, in no particular order:

✸ Although you probably can't tell, this was my first experiment with the PITT big brush. I've had one for a while, but I didn't know how I should use it. Well, I said screw it and drew this map. Although I'm not using it to its potential, I am at least cured of my trepidation.

✸ I listened to Dark Angel the entire time I drew, which was a welcome blast from the past. (GENE HOGLAAAAAAAN!)

✸ Otyugh are 8 feet wide. so they might not be able to comfortably make it down all of the gnarly corridors of this place.

✸ I believe those stairs in the southwest mark the beginning of the Thousand Steps, which ultimately wind their way to a lesser traveled area of the Domain of the Demon Rats (which I plan to eventually detail).

All the rest is to be determined by your imagination.

The Fine Print: I am sharing this map under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. If you follow that link you will be able to read about the conditions that apply to this work. In a nutshell: (a) you can't use it commercially, (b) you must attribute it to me, and (c) you must share any derivative works that you create.