Monday, May 22, 2023

What happened to #Dungeon23?

Lots of people are still creating and enjoying the Dungeon 23 challenge issued by Sean McCoy. (Challenge may be too strong of a word for it; creative exercise would be better.) Many have gotten lost in the grind. I am ... oddly in the middle. I have maps for every month so far, and at least liner notes for each room. So I guess I'm caught up. However, I'm torn. Part of me wants to give up forward progress at the end of this month in order to go back and make what I already have richer – and publishable as a zine or in hypertext format. Oddly, every time I tell myself it's perfectly fine to give up, I quickly catch up my notes and press on. 

Who knows. But here are the sketches of the dungeon levels to date.

If you are reading this and crave more detailed comment, let me know in the comments. 

Also, I have put the first level and part of the second in a cool web format that is a direct extension of Obsidian! You can essentially run the first level + from your phone with it.







Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Painted Blood Bowl teams

I painted up a few Blood Bowl teams in the last 5 months; thought I'd share. Click on each to embiggen.

Old school Chaos Dwarves

Resin-printed Skaven "Lab Rats"

Old school Orcs

New school Halflings

Thursday, February 23, 2023

#Dungeon23 week 8

This week's entries are done in journal form, but haven't been typed up. I found my concepts evolving as the stuff was grinding out of my pencil barrel, but basically the second level holds a tribe of amphibious people whose sacred grounds were scorched by the lava worms from level 1 (and a future deeper level). On this level, their continued presence is seen as creatures in skeletal form that appear "backward." As the species evolved, things rotated around, like a flat fish. Instead of having arms that faced their belly, their arms reached up around the spine. Something like that anyway. 

After drawing the skeleton doodle in the journal below, I remembered an old drawing that I did which is perfect for the zine. That drawing appears at the end of the string of images. It's one of my favorite drawings from around 2018. I distinctly remember starting it as a horizontal drawing with that skull shape and then turning the iPad to give the whole thing a twist and make it cooler.

This level of the dungeon seems to have three main parts. Part 1 is the bird folk and the Conservator (top third). Part 2 is the fish folk upper levels (their lower/submerged levels will be in a future issue). Part 3 is the mini maze and hall of the bull-cultists, which will lead to the Deep Labyrinth in the next issue. 

My memorable NPC for this level is going to be a time-stuck wizard that lives in the chasm. He knows lots of ice spells and stuff. (I just realized I am cribbing off the Winter Warlock from the old Rankin Bass Santa Clause is Coming to Town! But also a bit from the time-obsessed new year show from the same line. Hmmm. Could we see islands lost in time? A giant buzzard named Eon? And no I'm thinking about the Ice King from Adventure Time as well.) 

I have to say, it has been a slog this month (not Dungeon23 really, but other things that have shaded the month) and I feel like just now, two-thirds the way through, the ideas are heating up! I look forward to typing them out for the zine and making them richer. Thus goes the creative mood cycle. The important thing is, of course, to work through it all and let some days be less brilliant than others. If you stop working, you might miss the good stuff. So every day I try to put pencil to paper and move it around. If the muse is there, the ideas fly. If not, it's like unsatisfying sex.

BTW, I uploaded a new version of BSD1 today. You can get it at The changes were cosmetic: new color cover, improved monster stat blocks (more close match OSE formatting), and the dungeon spread was moved to the center fold. 

Hope your own #Dungeon23 projects are going well!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Rufus says:

Back in Zinevember (dear God, I still have like four of them to send out!), fan of the podcast Joshua Skelton made this awesome graphic to help me choose a zine for the undecided entrants. I just love the pixel drawing, as much as, or maybe more than, I love my own version. 

Joshua's Rufus 2.0

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

#Dungeon23 week 7

[Direct from my zine-formatted rewrite/draft.]

Sub-level Name TBD

0208 The Fishing Hole

A large, buxom, and somewhat oafish looking woman, Large Marge, is squatting precariously on a three-legged stool, wearing a fuzzy orange cap and holding a fishing pole. She is concentrating on a bobber in the middle of a 20’ diameter well, so she may not hear adventurers coming  down the stairs from 0123 if they are especially stealthy. A brace of frogs as big as geese lie to one side of her stool, obviously bludgeoned to death with an old stained and scarred wooden bat lying nearby. She will offer to cook for the party, but her true desire is to simply cook them, as she is always, always hungry. Given that she will probably be well outnumbered she will try to lure individuals away and quietly break their necks if she can. Large Marge is, in fact, an ogress in a Cap of Disguise.

Large Marge: AC 14, HD 4+1, Attack +4 club 1d10 or fist 1d8, Move 90’(30’), SA 4, Morale 10, Chaotic, XP 125, NA 1, TT C (see 0209).

Cap of Disguise: (random chance of appearance, table of various humanoid looks, clothes don't transform?)

What’s on the line? (D8 table of things to catch in the well - fill in later)

  1. Sock Eel
  2. TBD minor curio
  3. TBD exotic fish
  4. TBD exotic fish
  5. Nothing - the hook and bait are missing
  6. Giant frog
  7. Very unhappy fishman
  8. Flame Salamander!

0209 Marge’s Boudoir

This crowded room is filled with a strong perfume that almost overwhelms a kind of pervasive, funky body odor. Clothes of all types and sizes are tossed around the place, which seems a bit odd (unless you know how the hat works). Marge has been here for several months, trying to make a comfortable nest for herself. She has learned quite a bit about her surroundings and will trade information for her life, if it comes to that. Under a heavy barrel of pickled eels is a hole in which she has stashed 2,000sp and 2 gems (250gp each). 

0210 The Effigy of King Runemazer

Opening the door to this hallway (any hallway leading into this intersection) adventurers see a winged lion gazing intently at them! It is wearing a crown of gold nestled in its glorious mane. This the effigy of King Runemazer, a statue, though it moves from time to time, swishing it’s tail, licking it’s chops, or even leaving the pedestal to wander a bit. It does not talk. It is not aggressive. It just observes.

King Runemazer: (use a sphinx/stone golem stats)

0211 The Lesser Maze

This fairly easy to navigate tangle of corridors has four gems set in odd corners. Stepping on them causes them to glow blue, yellow, red or green (each is different0. If/when all four are lit a secret door opens leading to the Deep Labyrinth. Each gem stays lit for about 10 minutes.

0212 Flooded Hall

The southern fork of this three-way intersection quickly slopes down into cloudy water. There is a chance that a Locathath raiding party will run into the party while emerging or submerging here. (See next issue for their underwater chambers.)

0213 Melted Menace 

In the center of this room is a pile of melted stone that may have once depicted a scaly creature with at least one claw and a huge eye. What’s left of the eye seems to follow you as you walk around. 

GM Notes: This altar is a recent casualty in the ongoing war between the Laval worms (BSD1) and the Locathaths.

0214 Happy Spawning Grounds

The walls of this room are covered in a colorful mural of fish people cavorting under a full moon. A female squats over a nest of eggs, one cresting under her uplifted tail. Several males stand around spraying love juice all over the eggs and each other. A slightly funky odor pervades the warm, moist room ... or is that just your imagination? The room is empty - a bore hole on one wall leads to a lava-fall. The dimpled tunnel walls are recognizable by anyone who has been through the lava worm diggings above. 

Friday, February 10, 2023

#Dungeon23 working on covers

 Just a quick show-and-tell. I'm working on some neat covers for the #Dungeon23 zines I plan to publish.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

#Dungeon23 week 6

[Direct from my zine-formatted rewrite/draft.]

What Came Before

This issue of Beneath the Sea of Dust depicts what lies below the map from issue 1. In that issue explorers would have discovered the Sun Spire, a strange faceted tower that lies in the Sea of Dust. Beneath it they might have run into an incursion of lava worms as well as the remains of a mysterious cult of three-armed, blue, not-quite-dead priests and their otherworldly prisoners. 

There are several “in-roads” to this level that would allow characters to explore the contents of this issue first. However, be aware that they might easily find their way out as well, leaving you in need of other issues of BSD or having to make it up on your own.

Level 2 The City of the Conservator

0201 A Wall of Iron

This cavern is connected to levels above (0127) and below by a roughly round shaft, dug by a tribe of lava worms and the living-engines they warp to suit their needs. Two exploratory tunnels were dug sideways in this area, the one to the south is blocked with rubble. The north tunnel, however, ends in a formidable looking iron wall with no door. If one listens closely to it, sounds will be heard from the other side on rare occasions – rumbling carts, whistling, maybe even dwarves talking.

This door connects to a “deep road” constructed and kept, but rarely used. by a community of dwarves. They sealed off the cavern after lava worms dug into their tunnel. Anyone breaking through to the road will see tracks leading (in a perfectly straight line) off into the darkness on both sides.  Dwarf road wardens working in pairs sometimes come through on a handcar to assess any damage. They will not make repairs, but rather report back the need for them. 

GM Notes: this is also a possible way into BSD. Dwarves could hire players to deal with the lava worms. The way down will lead to a future lava-filled level of some sort. If you want to curtail travel that way, just have it end in a lake of lava for now.

0202 The Sand Pit

A spiral iron staircase leading up to 0119 ends in a circular iron grate, allowing any sand from opening the hatch above to pass through. The grate is divided into four sections that can easily be removed to reveal a 30’ deep conical pit. The sloping sides of the pit are covered in small bits of debris: a partially-buried helmet, an axe, and a curl of leather that might be the top of a boot. 

At the bottom of the pit, sharp eyes might be able to detect two thin “sticks” sticking up through the bottom point of the inverted cone of sand. They resemble a dead bush, but they are in fact the mandibles of a Giant Ant Lion.

Giant Ant Lion: AC 17, HD 3, Attack +3 pincers (3d6) or Special, Move 120’(40’) or Burrow 60’(20’), SA 3, Morale 9, Neutral, XP 65, NA 1, TT C. Special: sand blast targets one character on the side of the pit (or one leaning over it). A DEX check is required to avoid sliding to the bottom and suffer an immediate +5 pincer attack. Those who are hit by the pincer attack take an automatic 2d6 crushing damage as the ant lion slams them back and forth against the walls of the pit. Kill the ant lion or make a STR check to break free.

0203 The Huts

There is no light source in this cavern. Even without light one can tell it is huge because of the echoes. The walls are clammy and slick. The Ceiling is filled with a slowly roiling mist that obscures everything except the occasional stalactite tip. Clusters of five-sided, stacked stone huts with figured tapestries for doors house Bird People. Their wings have atrophied into quiet, fluttering capes and they use hand signals for language (they make no noise at all) and create abstract drawings on the cave walls. The drawings depict the bird folk and their huts alongside three-armed humanoids, one of whom wears a horned helmet. 

Many of the huts are empty. The bird people await the return of the Custodian, but many no longer believe in him, or if they do they think he has left them as he has not appeared for decades.

Bird People:

0204 The Gathering Space

Stone pillar-shaped constructs contain a hollow on one side with a basin and a downward facing cone. They will dispense a grayish-purple glob that sustains a person for a day (see 0115). The tinkling of a fountain heard can be heard throughout the area. Its slender tower of five tiers dribbles clear, cold water into a ten-foot diameter, two-foot deep pool. Around the fountain is a well-worn circle in the stone, as if the bird-folk have marched around it for centuries. 

If visitors rekindle the belief in the Custodian, the bird people will do their slow, ritualistic dance around the fountain. If they wait long enough, the “Hopeful One” (0205) will appear and perform the dance alone.

Two cyclopean bronze doors are covered in a bas-relief, depicting the three-armed beings walking out (toward the viewer) through a portal filled with stars. Within this carved portal, a pair of stars loom larger than the rest and are of obvious importance. The doors have no handles, locks, hinges, or even any visible cracks. They open outward and must be pushed open from the inside.

GM Notes: I saw a player once use the spell floating disc to open doors like this. They cast it forward/on the other side of the door, and walked backwards. Clever, that.

0205 The Hut of the Hopeful

An uncharacteristically upbeat bird person lives here. They have an ornamental, curved dagger tucked into their belt (NEVER to be used in violence). They also carry a hollow horn-like object of shell in one hand. This is a magical Ear Trumpet that they use to listen through he door to hear the breathing of the Conservator. Thus they are the last true believer. Even so, they haven’t thought to coax others into listening along with them. The bird people, in general, lack imagination. 

Ear Trumpet:

0206 Hall of the Conservator

A three-armed blue humanoid sits immobile on a large throne of emerald. They wear a massive helm with ornamental horns or vanes sticking out of the sides. The throne seems to be either carved from an unbelievably large gem or perhaps somehow constructed of fused emeralds. A large and intricate clock (?) with exotic hands and numerals occupies the back of the throne. The throne’s worth is unimaginable, but it would take a feat of engineering to get it out of this place and across the Sea of Dust to civilization. 

The person on the throne is The Conservator, a member of the priesthood. The Conservator’s job is to wake up the other priests when the stars align to open the gate (see 0207). Sadly, they have either missed the alarm or the alarm has failed to sound, for the time of the gate is at hand. Once the doors are opened, the Conservator will come to life in d8+2 turns. At first they will be sluggish and confused. (Turn 1: they speak gibberish in an unknown language with an intent but erratic gaze. Turn 2: they stand up and speak sense, but in the unknown language. Turn 3: they try other languages, or become violent, depending on player actions.) 

Behind the throne is an illusory section of wall that is in actuality a doorway. 

The Conservator:

0207 Star Portal

A carpet on the floor woven with strange glyphs can be deciphered by a wizard with Read Magic or an intelligent thief. If so, the runes tell of a people from the stars in search of knowledge. A glittering curtain of gold light occupies a large frame in front of the far wall. This is the Star Gate. It is not currently open; if someone walks through it they will simply run into the back wall. However, it will open soon! Every time explorers return to this room (assuming some hours since the last visit) roll a d8. On an 8 they find the portal open or witness it open. It turns from sparking, swirling gold to a field of stars. 

What happens when they step through?

GM Notes: This is the start of another campaign – perhaps one obsessed with planar travel and politics. It will not be detailed in BSD. If someone steps through the open portal and you don’t feel like launching a whole new world, have them appear again in the place they last called home (or failing that the city of their birth). This could serve as an easy way out – back to a city base for the campaign.