Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Commission artwork: Describing what you want

Jiaxingseng recently wrote a blog post about his art development process, and included the description he gave to the artist. It's an interesting read, and somewhat different to the way I handled my goblin princess commission from Rick Hershey, so I thought I'd post my own description for comparison purposes:
The basic concept is a fairly classic swirling-dress Cinderella:
However she's a goblin instead of a human, and her slippers have pointed steel toecaps (this is important because one of the adventures is a spin on the classic Cinderella story; instead of leaving her slipper at the ball, she leaves it embedded in someone's head during a brawl).
She should have a golden ball in one hand, like that in the classic "Frog Prince" story:
In her other hand, she should have some sort of oversized vicious-looking blade. My initial thought was something that looks similar to the "chopper" from your Assorted Items Vol 1 art pack, which would be resting across her shoulder a bit like this: Siegfried_02.jpg
Her skin color should be roughly a similar sort of green to the goblins on my archetypes cover.
Eye color should be yellowish (yellow-green or yellow-orange is also fine, but not red, as I'm intentionally trying to distance my setting from the Pathfinder goblins, who are usually illustrated with red eyes).
My preferred dimensions would be roughly 5.5 to 6 inches high, and 4.5 to 5 inches wide. That's ideal for a full sized internal illustration, while a slightly reduced version will still be wide enough to look good on the cover.
Other accessories and embellishments would be at your discretion, the important thing is that she should look like a extremely dangerous goblin version of a fairy tale princess*, and have the steel toecaps and golden ball for the adventure tie-ins. I could envision her having a light blue dress splattered with blood, perhaps with a spiked collar and bracers, but I'll leave that up to you to decide, depending on what you think looks best.
* She isn't really a princess in the traditional sense though, she's a chieftain's daughter, so please don't add a crown.
Rick then provided me with a rough sketch to make sure he'd covered the basics:

I replied with some further detail:
The sketch looks great, the only thing I would ask is that the sword be made longer (perhaps increase the blade length by 50%). The pitch for the first adventure is as follows:
The Princess and the Peabrain: What happens when a foolish ogre kidnaps a goblin princess from her tower, only to discover that she'd been locked in to protect others, rather than for her own safety?
I envision it as a sword she took from the ogre, so it would be far bigger than a typical goblin weapon - probably a similar length to a human sword, but much wider (just like in your sketch). The princess is monstrously (supernaturally) strong for a goblin, but still a fairly normal goblin height and build, so the sword would look particularly big in her hands.
The goblin scout in your goblin mega-pack has a distinctly female face and posture, despite being very obviously a goblin. If possible I'd like to capture a similar sort of quality, so she appears almost dainty, further emphasizing the massive sword.
And then just two days later, Rick sent me the finished illustration:

Chronicles of the Goblin Princess is still planned, but it was unavoidably delayed (I had to postpone it until I've published my Swift d12 system). I've already used the artwork in my Countdown Deck though!

Monday, 25 June 2018

Jumping the Bearsharktopus: One Sheet

A Redfang scout recently discovered a huge mound of bear excrement deep within Shadowglade Forest. For reasons that are probably best not discussed, the scout decided to thoroughly examine the dung, and found it contained the bones of several sea goblins, as well as a fishing net and even a small anchor! Has the legendary Bearsharktopus finally woken up again, after decades of hibernation? And more importantly, what does the great beast taste like? Chief Bignose wants to know!

Last week I released the Saga of the Goblin Horde Countdown Deck, and I thought it might be nice to write up some examples of how to use the saga symbols on the cards. But I always find it difficult to write hypothetical "actual play" scenarios, so I decided to turn them into a proper One Sheet adventure instead.

If you want to follow the progress of Saga of the Goblin Horde, please don’t forget to sign up to the official Facebook group!

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Countdown Deck

The Saga of the Goblin Horde Countdown Deck has been released! It is available on DriveThruRPG as both a free Virtual Tabletop asset and a printed deck.

As well as being a thematic Action Deck, the cards offer three additional features:

1. There are four jokers, and each has a suit. This makes the game even more crazy, and also makes it quicker and easier to resolve situations where multiple people draw a joker (you can use the suit instead of having to make an opposed Agility roll to determine who goes first). It's also handy for situational rules like Interludes, which reference card suits but don't actually define what a joker does, or the Kickball rules in SotGH, which were designed with the Mutation Deck in mind, and therefore take into account the possibility of jokers with suits.

2. Each card has a prominent "countdown number" at the top. You can use these to determine turn order as normal, from highest to lowest, without having to reference both a rank and a suit. The idea for this was based on observing how many people get confused over which suits act first when the ranks are a tie (even many experienced players will sometimes pause for a moment to work out whether hearts or diamonds go first).

3. Each card has a "saga symbol" at the bottom. These symbols are improvisational prompts; an "elephant" symbol could represent any sort of herd creature, or just something big, or it could be interpreted as strength, stamina, wisdom, memory, loyalty, etc. Likewise the "torch" symbol might represent fire, knowledge, destruction, heat, light, exploration, and so on.

The symbols can be used for all sorts of things - they can be used instead of (or in addition to) the suit for Interludes, or as inspiration for downtime activities, or to add additional flavor to the adventure generator (draw one card for each of the five scenes), or for fleshing out complications during a chase or dramatic task, and so on.

Saga Symbols

Here are a few quick examples of "boastful tales" based on drawing three cards, the highlighted words correspond to the saga symbols at the bottom of the cards (note that the specific order doesn't matter, the idea is just to take three symbols and turn them into a story):

One day you were fishing along the shore of Windpoint Island, and lost track of time. A storm was coming in, so you set off along the causeway. But before you could reach Axehead Cove, a massive sea monster rose up from the ocean, and attempted to devour you. Fortunately you managed to cast your fishing line at it, lodge your hook in its lip, and then surf back to shore!

Long ago, you took a fancy to a lovely maiden from the Stonefist tribe, after witnessing the vicious beating she dished out during a friendly game of Kickball. You headed into the Longtooth Mountains to woo her, but her brothers learned of your plan, and you had to fight them all single-handedly!

A mushroom farmer once gave you a swig from his hipflask, and the hallucinations drove you crazy! You sprinted deep into Twilight Wood, fleeing predators that only you could see, and ended up climbing to the very top of the tallest tree in the forest. When you finally regained your wits, it took you several hours to get back down to the ground!