Saturday 25 November 2017

Random temple generator

You arrive at a temple, but what does it look like and who worships there? Use this generator to find out.

Architecture (d10)

  1. Pyramid
  2. Dome
  3. Spire
  4. Dirt Warren
  5. Classic Greek-style temple
  6. Hovel
  7. Ruin
  8. Gothic Church
  9. Tower
  10. Tree-shape
Unusual feature (d10)
  1. It's floating
  2. It can only be seen in the moonlight
  3. It is of blackest obsidian
  4. It is covered in bodies
  5. It phases out of existence at midnight
  6. It emits quiet harpsichord music
  7. Drawing closer makes one vomit crickets
  8. It exists as a tatoo on a sailor's back and can be entered through magical means
  9. It moves around the world
  10. It's much bigger on the inside

Dedicated to what God? (d10)
  1. Goddess of Orphans
  2. God of Scorpions
  3. Goddess of Will
  4. God of Unsaid Things
  5. Goddess of Music
  6. God of Treachery
  7. Goddess of Storms
  8. God of Masks
  9. Goddess of Still Waters
  10. God of the Shunned 
Worshipper features (d10)
  1. They do not look anyone in the eye
  2. Their mouths are sewn shut
  3. They have shaven, tattooed heads
  4. They have monkey tails
  5. They sing instead of speaking
  6. They cannot use nouns
  7. The men and pregnant with dragons
  8. They are blind
  9. They are always drunk
  10. They fear magic

Thursday 23 November 2017

Skyharbour of Ghuren

It's the birds that keep the Ghuren Skyharbour in the air. Four Red Condors flapping their giant wings, carrying the harbour throughout the land, eternal avian gods bequeathed onto the world by Mother Moon in the Days of Starlight. Once every decade the condors land the harbour in a field while they sleep for forty days. 
These are the harbour's Danger Days.

You see, the Skyharbour is home to Xinter's Orphanage, a sanctuary for the children once belonging to evil magic users. These are the Doom Children, imbued with veins of glorious magic, with abilities untapped. For the dark wizards of the world, they are a target for turning. 

When the Skyharbour is afloat, the only way to reach it, of course, is through flight. Stables filled with the stench of bucking griffins, barking hippogriffs and the occasional sleek Pegasus line the streets. When drifting over the dunes of Al Afreet the sky becomes home to hovering carpets piloted by turbaned adventurers, blazing falchions by their sides. Hovering near the metropolis of Linspire, the populace are treated to a display of airships and teleporting scholars that erupt into existence with a colourful spark.

Many who visit come to trade - finding exotic goods they could only dream of - fruits of true vision, harps that summon angels, or tiaras to turn the cold-hearted warm. Others came on diplomatic duties to see the Grand Vizier Elmun Ponn. Part minotaur, part dragon (a Dragotaur), Ponn cuts quite a figure. Despite his wild pedigree he is a refined gentleman with his finger firmly on the pulse of political matters. Never take him for a fool. Never take him to be soft, either. 

Ponn himself has taken up arms on Danger Days, earning him respect among the Ghurese, particularly those of military rank. This admiration was cemented by Ponn's founding of the Scale Knights - drake riders who patrol the airways close to the harbour as a regal defence against monsters and air pirates. 

The streets are a melting pot of colours, cultures and religions due to the harbour's nomadic nature. As a result, traditions are mixed together, new religions are formed and occasionally strife ensues. Lately the Necromantical movement has taken a hold - a magical worship of the dead. Ponn himself has denounced these practises, which often involve bringing spirits back into the world by lashing them to a flesh host, but many argue there are benefits to communing with those who have passed. Fads come and go quickly, though the occasional one will take hold and alter the culture.

Thursday 9 November 2017

Review: Iron Maiden - Legacy of the Beast #1

Since I was 13 I've been obsessed with Iron Maiden. Truly this is the greatest band to even set foot on god's green Earth, with astounding live shows and incredible albums that blow other bands half their age out of the water. So naturally I picked up the Legacy of the Beast comic from Heavy Metal. But is it good?

For the uninitiated, Legacy of the Beast is a mobile game that launched last year and provides the inspiration for the comic. The game sees you progressing through time and space in a turn-based almost-Pokemon collect-a-thon. The game's story is reflected on the comic. There exists a race of Eternals, beings that live outside the confines of space-time, and Maiden's perennial zombie-flavoured mascot Eddie is one of them. Writer Ian Edginton adds a further element to this mix, making Eddie into the personification of creativity and therefore rebellion against mundanity. The story goes that the titular Beast, a literal red devil ripped from the Number of the Beast album cover art, wants to drive people to conform, to repeat their uninteresting lives until they die. In this way, Eddie is the antithesis of the Beat, therefore sworn enemies.

We first meet Eddie chained to a tree where a mysterious red headed woman called the Clairvoyant finds him. Another Eternal, the Clairvoyant's main role is to be a vehicle for exposition and to become Eddie's guide. You see, poor Edward has lost his soul - it was ripped from him and scattered throughout space and time. Other less savoury characters have become imbued with the power of his soul shards and, err, are doing things? It's not quite clear what the consequence of this is. In fact, right now everything is a mystery. Why are those cultists wearing animal masks? Why is one of them actually a muscular humanoid pig? Where did the huge Wickerman come from?

While the pencils by Kevin West are good and the colours by Raul Manriquez and Emmanuel Ordaz are nicely done, the story at the moment seems incredibly confused. However, I don't like to place too much judgement on the first issue of a series, so I'm happy to see how it plays out. I sincerely hope that they don't just follow the game - going to different worlds and beating people up, and actually do something further with the characters. Having Eddie as a growling beast with a cheeky side is a great idea and I don't mind the Clairvoyant, but her dialogue is a little stock, particularly the moment she delivers a couple of lines of Run to the Hills.

I'm happy to see where Legacy of the Beast goes, but it's going to have to work hard to help the reader make sense of the world, particularly if they've never played the game.

Monday 6 November 2017

English Eerie available - already gone copper

You too can have spooky thrills and chills with the release of English Eerie. I released the game yesterday evening and already it's number one in hottest small press and a best copper seller.

Pay what you want and download.

Sunday 5 November 2017

Review: Boring Comics #1 by Emma Thacker

Three years ago I was introduced to a series of comics that would forever change my perception of what the medium could be. This was American Elf by the prolific James Kochalka, a book that exposed the intimacy of everyday humdrum life through a daily comic diary.

The practice of creating such a diary has become routine for some creators like Erika Moen, Marc Ellerby and Jess Fink. It's a tough gig - choosing to expose yourself rather than masking your personality and feelings behind a story, but I can only imagine it's cathartic on some level. Enter Emma Thacker - a British small press illustrator who uses her Boring Comics zine as a vehicle to lay out her everyday anxieties, thoughts and emotions.

The book is artistically raw, often a little haphazard - flagged in an introduction by Thacker who admits that she couldn't keep drawing herself consistently enough. She does emotion well and although the art can be a little janky, it oozes charm.

Like Kochalka, Thacker does inconsequential mundanity, which is in itself a punch line, and emotive strips where she offers relatable tid bits ("I'd love to go to this gig, but it also means I'd have to actually go there"). It's a cosy read - kettle, custard creams, bed, looking a rabbits from the top deck of a bus.

Boring Comics is put out by Black Lodge Press, who specialise in queer and feminist comics. I don't know much about these guys, but other comics they do like Into the Black have caught my interest.

Will there be a Boring Comics #2? Let's hope so because I've just felt like I'm getting to know Thacker through her work and would love to continue joining her on her illustrated journey through life.

Images: Black Lodge Press

Saturday 4 November 2017

English Eerie final cover and update

Ok, so I missed my self-created Halloween deadline for releasing this. Unfortunately, as happens, real life got in the way. 

I'm currently ironing out some scenarios and giving the book an edit and reformat to digest size. You can see the final cover art above, which I'm happy with.

For those of you who have no idea what English Eerie is, let me illuminate you. This is a solitaire storytelling game that helps you create horror stories set in rural England. The game is played using a physical journal, a deck of cards and a ten-sided die, along with a candle for added atmosphere.

The game will be available as a PDF download and a softcover book. 

Thursday 2 November 2017

Review: What is Left by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell

If you want to see the bleeding edge of the comics medium, you need to be looking at the small and micro presses.

Last month I took my annual pilgrimage to Thought Bubble (not a long one, mind you - it's right on my doorstep), a comics convention with a heavy focus on independent creators. In the vast array of treasures on offer was What is Left by Minneapolis-based Rosemary Valero-O'Connell, exhibited by the lovely Zainab from Comics and Cola.

Let's just take a moment to oggle at the cover. The sumptuous purple with flecks of colour around the character's head is just gorgeous, and it gets better when you crack it open. Valero-O'Connell uses full pages to great effect to begin the book with the fluid line work flowing off the paper. Immediately you can see the art alone is worth the price of entry.

The central concept is glorious: a starship powered by memories. A volunteer would essentially become the fuel for the ship's engine. Occasionally this engine malfunctions, causing the ship to collapse in on itself. However, for whatever reason the one presented in the book explodes, taking a lone ship-worker with it. She is cast into a sea of memories, enveloped in the subconscious of the volunteer, a young woman she admits to having never really spoken to. What follows is a series of powerful images where we explore the pains, tribulations and toils of growing up and finding your place on the work (or, indeed, universe).

Valero-O'Connell's art is atmospheric, fluid and beautiful. If you think her characters are right out of Stephen Universe, you wouldn't be far off the mark as the writer-artist created the graphic novel cover for the popular cartoon.

What is Left is a moving book framed by a high concept with a lot of heart. I can't recommend it enough.

Available from Shortbox.