Batman Cartoon and a Movie

I am not sure why I drew this, it just sort of fell into existence while I was doodling on my machine. So I neatened it up a little and made it into a little cartoon of sorts. So here is a squat unimpressed little Batman!


I guess I could write something at the end of this midget post about the Batman vs Superman movie I finally got to see recently (the extended blu-ray version). There are lots of pieces of the whole that are quite fun and could be really cool. I didn't think the whole hung together at all well though - it is like 20 trailers all cut together from different movies to try and make it into one. There are characters, ideas, shots, sequences and more that each could have been really awesome if they were fleshed out - alas the movie just flits onto the next thing and thus leaves everything unresolved and left wanting...

The gallery shows how stunning the visuals are - good inspiration for many an RPG could come from any one of these pics:
And it does make for an epic trailer:

KotPO Logo

Nephews were after a logo for their game group/clan/guild/etc - the Knights of the Pebble Oath! So this is what landed on the page for them (page, screen - you know what I mean). Extra points to those who know the anime reference for the name...

I like how the shading came out on the shoulder pad (I am sure there is a more armour-ish word for that) and in general I like how he looks pretty serious even though he has a little pebble of power. Again, all done in in SketchbookPro on the SurfaceBook.

Yeld Colouring Contest

The final days of the kickstarter for The Magical Land of Yeld tabletop RPG added something fun and community-centric with a colouring competition. A suite of the simply gorgeous artwork inks from Jake Richmond are provided for anyone who might like to try their hand.
This link to the 22 Aug update has all the images people can use to colour their troubles away:

I took the first image of the sword wielding hero with the belt on her head which I love. But the chainsaw unicorn was too cool to leave out, so I added it in as the shadow - showing the menace that this heroine now needs to deal with...

I used Skechbook Pro on my SurfaceBook for the whole thing, essentially just using the ink tool and a few shades of each colour to keep it simple. It still took a little while to have the shading layers and the details like the paw-print camo pattern etc. Here is the pic, plus the source image below as well.

Kickstarter RPGs

Well this poor blog has been starved of updates yet again through no fault of its own. I have been doing interesting things but have clearly failed to pop in here and post. I was about to write all of that in the third person to absolve myself of some of the guilt, but as I look around the blame does seem to fall to me...

I will post some of the images and such to try and catch up somewhat, but maybe for this post I can just mention a few things which will hopefully get more blogspace to come.

I just want to mention some RPGs, chiefly because they are on kickstarter and some of them are still alive and thus you could dive in and back them - I am sure they are worth it!

Apocalypse World 2E
D Vincent Baker is bringing us a super second edition of the mighty Apocalypse World game and thus engine. There is much to love and the fantasy world version looks wonderful as well.

Grant Howitt brings us Unbound with lots of cool world building and mechanics that look like heaps of fun the way they will all come together.

Magical Land of Yeld
How gorgeous does this game look, not just the artwork, but the logic of the game and its younger heroes.

Mutant Genlab Alpha
I have this delivered already actually and it looks great, I have only just started to read the book but playing a mutant animal in a post apocalyptic world as part of a huge experiment sounds really fun.

Villains & Vigilantes 3E 
The Mighty Protectors is a long-time-coming third edition of the now venerable Villains and Vigilantes superhero RPG. I remember loving all the points-building from the original and it may be interesting to see what they bring to the table in a third incarnation.

There of course others that are well worth people's attention - but I cant back everything!!


Latest League of Legends sketch from me is of mighty VI sporting those wonderfully punchy steampunk gauntlets of hers. This was wholly done in Sketchbook Pro again on the SurfaceBook and essentially with just the pencil for the initial sketch then the inking pen for the linework and colours.

I even included a Trevor to keep her company - or is he nervous of a Smite coming his way? It has been quite refreshing just going full-steam ahead on sketches like this. I often find myself double-guessing myself and it can be nice to just dive forward and complete something and learn from that for the next drawing rather than iterating a heap of times on the one.

I wonder which Champion will appear next??

Sunday Supanova

Due to other commitments I only enjoyed a single day of the Sydney Supanova this year. As always I had a great time with all the cosplay, seminars, merch shopping and more.

The highlights for me this year were:

The Artist Sketchoff
This is perhaps my favourite thing at Supanova every year actually. Having 4 comic masters up there creating something wondrous in 35 minutes is inspiring in every way. This year the audience voting steered the subject to be drawn to a sexy female Swampthing. Art Adams, Joyce Chin, Cully Hamner and Frank Cho then set about creating their pieces while simultaneously trying to answer questions. We get to see their work unfold in real-time on the big screen - loved it!

Writers Impossible Quests Panel
The discussion topic here was questing and more specifically its use in written fiction. Tamora Pierce, Justin Wooley, Alison Goodman and Stephanie 'Hexsteph' Bendixson were inciteful and fun as they explored the tropes, traditions and good use of quests that inspired them, annoyed them and they used in their own work.
I get alot from these panels in terms of narrative and thinking through how these ideas apply to gaming, esp Tabletop Roleplaying. One great takeaway for me was Juston's anecdote regarding the writers of South Park and how stories should be about 'but therefore' rather than 'and then' - which is hugely telling in a successful quest story. They looked at the male/female logic of quests, profecy, stereotypes and good practice for avoiding various pitfalls. Hexsteph was lots of fun as she brought gaming concepts into things as well which was great.

LOL Figures
Lastly, my merchandise 'accident' was a pair of League of Legends figures to go on the shelf - meet Vi and Nauty:

Sunless Scene - Joe's new arm

Our current TRPG (tabletop role playing game) is set in the weird world beneath the surface dominated by the Sunless Sea. Our bad of adventurers recently had an encounter in which Joe caught a cannonball to save an innocent's life with what was left of his mechanical suit. This created a shattered mess of metal, flesh and bone which our ship's renowned surgeon and our best engineer set about repairing. Alas their masterpiece is something of a mystery to all as Joe's powersource was leaking, which caused them to slip into dreamlike memories and forget things in the present.

Anyhow, here is the pic featuring all the PCs which I did in Sketchbook Pro on my SurfaceBook. Below you can see the sketch and ink pass as well for reference. I am really liking bringing these interesting characters to life including little hints of other gaming moments like the 1st Mates Memorbees and the Captain's scorched kisses. There are lots more posts here on the blog with pics and notes from the game if anyone is interested...

The 1st Mate and the Fallen Star

And here is a quick rendition of our final PC, the 1st Mate of our ship, the Fallen Star. For anyone who hasnt spotted all the other posts relating to our current TRPG, The PCs are key members of the motley crew of our ironclad merchant vessel, zipping around the zee leaving trouble in our wake.

You can see my version of our 1st Mate, then a combined pic bringing him together with Joe, Mouse, Doc and the Captain...

Captain and the Doc

I have been working my way slowly through the roster of our current TRPG (Tabletop Role Playing Game) where we are the key staff on a steampunk ship adventuring around the 'neath looking for the motherload source of sunlight so we can make it 'big'.

These two pics show our Captain (with his girl in every port) and the Doc (with his daughter and explorations of unnatural vitality). I really like our 'party', it is full of little hooks and threads that I like seeing come up in the game. The system we are running is a mod of the Atomic Robo version of FATE Core while the pics were done on my Surface Book using Sketchbook Pro.

Mouse and Joe

A few more sketches from our current RPG running a Sunless Sea inspired game running a version of FATE. I have been doing all manner of sketches using the Surface Book and Sketchbook pro and here are a couple more featuring characters from the game.

First here is Joe and one possible vision for his arm which is now a fusion of flesh, bone, metal, cannonball and mutated light. Then we have mouse, our resident engineer who works with the Rats and has a (currently small) addiction to sunlight here in the Neath.

The Deranged Director

Our current RPG game is using FATE (well the Atomic Robo version of FATE) to play in a world inspired by Sunless Sea. You will find other posts here looking at my character Joe Smithereens, the Ironclad Texan. The last session saw us eventually foil the machinations of the Deranged Director, who was manipulating events in order to have the inhabitants of the island live out Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Joe actually caught a cannonball with what is left of his mighty suit at the end which shattered metal, bone and flesh! Saving innocent's lives can be very costly and Joe is going to feel this for a while and will be changed by the events for sure.

For some cool documentation from the mighty GM on the game, logic, mechanics and such please check out his Sunless Fate posts (3 as of writing)!

Anyhow, I really wanted to post up this quick sketch and colour done of our Shakespeare inspired villain. To think we nearly went along with his scheming...

Sketchbook Pro

I am lucky enough to be experimenting with a beefy Microsoft Surface Book and while I was using Photoshop for drawing and sketching before, I thought I might give Autodesk's Sketchbook Pro a go instead. First, there are quirks with this fancy piece of hardware that might have a flow-on effect into my SBP experience, but now that MS have had a few months, many of the larger issues have been resolved for me. Hmmm, not sure that is completely true, but I am using this as my primary machine for everything and enjoying the ride despite the niggles.

So, Sketchbook Pro is proving to be a fun little piece of software with enough tools to do some nice little pieces with good speed and it runs well with or without the GPU base attached. It doesnt even seem to need the gruntier GPU as the intel one is more than enough acceleration for the rotating etc etc. Sometimes I notice the drawing not keeping up with me, but that might have just meant I needed a restart as usually it runs beautifully.

These League of Legends drawings were done on the couch using the 'pencil' for the base sketch, then just the Inking pen for both the linework and the colouring (on another layer). I could have gone more complex and detailed with things, but I kind of liked the simplicity of this approach. I am really happy with how Tahm Kench and TF turned out as both were quick and have a bit of character to them. Maybe I will have to try some other styles out to push Sketchbook Pro further, but for an initial foray I am liking the hardware and software...

Viking Concepts

Here are some fun concept sketches/drawings for a Viking story. I hope to be doing some illustrations like these for a children's story being written by some special people to be revealed soon enough. You can see some of the elements to feature in the story here and there, but these were just as much about getting the style down.
These were all done completely within Sketchbook Pro on the Surface Book. Each one took me a few hours actually - I will probably get faster as I go along. Sketchbook Pro is quite good, it has a few quirks I am getting to terms with, but has a decent pen and touch interface I am quite liking.

Joe Smithereens and the Suit

I really like the character, party and world creation parts of games using systems like FATE. With our Fallen London inspired game starting we are in the throws of forging characters that will crew our ironclad-like boat through the Zea. Our 'party' are the officers of the ship which will hopefully include some interesting NPCs as well on our hunt for the Sunlight Well.

Here are some pics of the prototype suit that Joe wears and has a 'close' relationship with. Plus some other concept sketches to go with those in earlier posts. Then there is the current FATE build for him which will come together hopefully before the first adventure session.

Joe Smithereens

(work in progress)


Munitionist in the Suit (concept)
Smithereens Co needs saving (Gunnery Officer)
FightTime = ShowTime (Dangerous)
Vicky is Precious to Me (The Suit)
I have the Red Temptress’ Sunlight (Omega)


Smithereens Engineering is in serious trouble.
Joe's father was working on plans for a combat suit.
An industrial Accident claimed his life along with employees and other relatives.
Joe has a real talent for working with explosives and power sources.
He designs a sunlight power core for the suit.
The company is failing and in great debt to bad and powerful people.
The suit could save everything if only they had the sunlight.
Joe's kid brother is approached by the Red Temptress (devil).
She offers him the sunlight for his soul.
Joe is mighty upset but the devil is gone.
He chooses to use the sunlight to complete the suit first - save the family then Corki.
A few failed experiments later and most of the sunlight is gone.
Can’t demonstrate all the capabilities of the suit, need lots more sunlight for that.
Looking for a source of sunlight he is approached to work on the The Fallen Star.
Intent is to find enough sunlight to showcase the suit to save the family business.
Intent is then to buy back Corki's soul or get it back by force using this power.
What if using the suit takes him further from his goal of getting Corki's soul back?
What if this mission won’t accomplish this aim either?
How far will he go to get Corki's soul?

Gentleman's 3 Piece Armada Suit - Prototype (Vicky)

Function: Mechanised Combat Suit
Flaw: Experimental Prototype
__Hmm I thought I fixed that
__I havent tested this yet, but let's give it a go
__Well I had to make do with what I could find
__Oooh that is getting a big hot
__I am sure it will stop doing that in a sec
__No, it isnt designed to do that, but it doesn’t seem dangerous
_Honourable Yet Imposing Visage
_Hydraulic Armour
__Ironclad Plate
__Blazing Shield ***
__Duelling Shooter
__Barrage Cannon ***
__Queensbury Hammer
__Incendiary Piledriver ***
_Bits & Bobs
__Search Light
__Smoke Venter
__Air Filter
__Broadcast Speaker
__Floatation Bladder
_Q Division (experimental buttons - single use, assuming they are connected)
__Detonate In 3 2 1 … ***
__I'm A Rocket ***
__Eject ***
__Seal Me In ***
__Flamer ***
__Unleash the Sun ***
*** Wonky or Untested Features
__Uses up stored Sunlight
__Will result in some definite complication

Now to work out the mechanical effects, Weapon 2, Armour 2 etc


The plan for our next tabletop RPG game to be inspired by the Fallen London and Sunless Sea and I am really looking forward to that first session where the character and world creation all come into being. With the scheme being to use the Atomic Robo mod for FATE core I have started to think about some character concepts that may be fun to bring to the game from a Cat Lady to Byron Smitherines here. I am really looking forward to playing with aspects and compels again.

I like the brass and and extra steampunky goodness of the second pic, plus the metal Corki moustache - what's not to like about that.


Here is a quick sketch of Martin's character Justinian, our Wood Elf Paladin who has a (perhaps unsettling) passion for combat and carnage. He demonstrates a love for fighting Orcs, but at the same time seems to have a peculiar link to the intentions of the Orc Lord. Anyhow, here is a sketch of the mighty Justinian decked out in the spoils of war against various Orc bands - this is probably looking slightly into the future...

Team Pic and Manticore Mating

Our game session this week gloriously featured our friendly PC Beast doing some rather frightening mating with a nasty Manticore. We are now looking forward to the babies at some future date - super game :)
We made it out by the skin of our teeth from our first foray into the Stone Thief to land in the path of a giant sea monster. Let's hope we can get the Archmage's weapon to work for us...

Anyhow, here is another pic showing the party. I started just making a Leaph pic, but added the rest of the gang as things developed. Again this was all done in Photoshop on the Surface Pro 3. I did a few sketches first then tried a much faster inking method, Colouring I kept lighter and brighter with only a few shades rather than gradients. Still took ages, but was darn fun.

Heroes Family Portrait and Traits

I posted a WIP shot of the 'inks' for a drawing of our newest adventuring party the other day, well here is the coloured version. Our party is a fascinating little group that will continue its adventures in the depths of the Stone Thief (living dungeon) tonight.

For reference again, these are our 13th Age characters (L-R):

  • Ook: Monk of the Glowing Winds cursed into Gorilla form
  • Archon XIV: Dwarf-forged artificial sorcerer destined to save the 14th Age
  • Leaph: Petalate cleric of the Order of the Wild Rose, pregnant with the High Druid's child
  • Beast: Shape-shifting Druid experiment of the Archmage and the High Druid
  • Justinian: Wood Elf Paladin seeking revenge against the Stone Thief

I tried some of Jesse's colouring and there are lots more bits to be seen in the Slick Entertainment Dev Blog and the stunning live stream on Twitch. Anyhow, while it kinda worked I did throw in a heap more layers to adjust things to get it closer to what I envisaged and smoothed over a few things or added colour adjustment in some places as well. I am not certain whether this darker version is the right end result, but it is still a fun pic that reflect the dungeon crawl we are on.

Everything from start to finish was done in Photoshop on the Surface Pro 3 and took waaaay longer than I hoped and envisaged. That said it was a design, sketch, ink, colour and finish process for 5 characters so maybe it was always going to take a while.

Plus I did start making a 16:9 version of the picture in case that would be useful which is below along with some WIP images as well.


Traits, which perhaps isnt the greatest word to use, but we were mulling over house ruling some aspects of the 13th Age game to draw out elements of our characters while binding together other mechanics already in play. Anyhow, this was the ruleset as written the other day, doubtless it would need tweaking but I like the more character-centric 'aspects' and the more integrated nature of rules around Icons and OUTs etc.


  • 3 Traits per character that replace their Icon relationships.
  • 1+ must be Icon-centric & 1+ must be party-PC-centric
  • When someone’s Trait comes up they get that trait’s Card that can be spent later.
  • Cards are retained between sessions to be spent or accumulated.
  • At the start of each session make Trait rolls, one per trait, a 6 gets you a Trait Card
  • Full House: if a character ever gets 5 Trait Cards a Destiny Bomb goes off, may not be all positive
  • Destiny Bomb = something Dramatic occurs in the world relating to the character - consuming all the cards
  • Traits can be Compelled like FATE Aspects – the GM offers a Deal (for a Card) that something awkward happens.
  • Compells need not be accepted, but doubtless they will be.
  • Spending a Card confers some situational benefit to the hero or their companions that relates to the card
  • Spending a Card can be mechanical (roll recharge, +D6 damage, reroll a skillcheck, gain a recovery)
  • Spending a Card can be anything cool (find an ally, magic item, reputation, aid is coming)
  • Spending Cards confer non-repeating benefits, you can’t gain the same groovy thing over and over
  • Traits may be conversions of Backgrounds that people want to come up in game for good and ill
  • Traits can evolve or change as needed by the character.
  • Traits may encompass or essentially absorb the One Unique Thing
  • Traits should be double edged and phrased as something enticing…

Leaph Example:

  • Fated Destiny of the High Druid’s Unborn Child
  • Her Protectors are like Family
  • The Thorn-Mother is Watching and Judging

Live and Streamed RPGs

I (and some gamer friends) went to see the last DragonFriends show for 2015 Monday night and had a blast seeing the live antics of a bunch of comedians playing Dungeons and Dragons. The podcast is a riot of course, but that doesn't quite compare with the hilarity of being there live and seeing how much fun is had by all (as well as the extra bits that are cut from the cast).

I didnt get to see these guys at PAX (was in the DMing session) but they clearly picked up a whole new legion of fans following their live panel there. This is actually a pretty special thing we have going in Sydney and I am looking forward to supporting them in 2016. Visit their site to see the cast and to dive straight in and listen to the podcast adventures with special guests included.

The closest to their show I had seen prior to this live was the Dicestormers live panel which was just as funny and ridiculous, particularly with all the zany input from the audience (pacifism, mankinis, fear of cats and lots of cats). The Dicestormers made good use of Syrinscape (because they make it) which is great, still not as amazing as the live music the DragonFriends bring to their show, but we could use Syrinscape in our games whereas getting a live muse is hard. So, another cool Sydney group that has heaps of video and podcasts of a variety of game systems as well.

This idea of watching other people gaming is starting to flourish, maybe on the back of Twitch and the whole streaming scene, but with these tabletop RPGs we are getting something unique as each set of characters and story is new and different.

In that vain it makes sense to have a set of links here to some of the wonders out there that allow us to see inspiring games play out with celebrities, actors, writers, gamers and people in the right place at the right time (Roll+Luck).
Warning: there are so so so many hours of great stuff hiding behind these otherwise innocent looking links:

Critical Roll 
Aquisitions Incorporated
More D&D Streams
Roll20 vids

FAE Thinking

My only experience with the FATE tabletop RPG was wonderful. Granted we struggled with the system in a heap of ways, but the overall effect was brilliant as the mechanics shifted the game logic into some wonderful narrative directions. Then there is the simplified version, FATE Accelerated - FAE which pairs back some of the system while retaining the coolest pieces.

While I havent played FAE yet (keen to do that though) - one of the tricks that reading the rules presents is having players roll their biggest stat all the time. That is largely because skills are replaced with Approaches which describe how you do something not your inherent skill a the task itself and this approach is what confers the roll bonus. So if you are a Flashy character and you can perform an action in a Flashy way then you get your +3 or whatever to the roll. Is this a problem or will players go with the story and feel of the game rather than the mechanics??

Rob Donoghue from Evil Hat Games has a nice post on this 'Wrestling with FAE' where he posits some thoughts on how to adjust the engine to help. I was thinking last night that another approach might be to instil more flavour into the approaches themselves that enhances the double edged nature of many of the FAE Concepts. So rather than just Clever we have 'Full Geek Out'. Then if a character is only being a somewhat careful then that’s just +1 rather than the full ‘Soooo Precise’ they might otherwise get. So Max +1 unless you go the all out on the approach.

Here is the kind of flavour I was envisaging. Apart from inviting more roleplaying from the heroes, it might hint at different costs for success or impacts from failure:

Quick = Race is On
Clever = Full Geek Out
Forceful = Unleash Raw Power
Flashy = Look at Me, Look at Me
Careful = Soooo Precise
Sneaky = Shadow and Blame



We were talking the other day about giving space for characters to interact with each other during the game itself. Often the 'plot clock' brings its pressure to the game, making incidental conversation or finding out about backstory elements a contested thing when there is some actual big problem or situation which requires the characters attention. Having everyone ok with taking time from the plot pressure to have a side conversation is tricky as it can feel like a distraction, though ultimately awesome. I note that this is really hard to force, having a spot in the game setup for characters to not follow the plot is a sure way for it to not really work out, it should feel natural.
One side aspect of this is the etiquette around multiple conversations going at once. This happens often if the party gets split and some of the characters are discussing how they are going to deal with X while another character is doing something cool on their own. Should we all display enough interest in every player's story to listen to the one conversation at a time or should we allow all these overlapping conversations to flourish - esp if they are all nicely in character??

While we are here, how about a few more interesting Tabletop RPG things that look cool:

Penny for Your Thoughts is very clever for such a simple thing - using some of these ideas in other games for character creation could be fun.
I couldn't resist ordering 'It's Not My Fault' already - even if it is just for inspiration.
Built on the Apocalypse World engine, Masks look great, though I missed the Kickstarter.
Then there is Cloud Dungeon which brings some 'art' to the tabletop RPG experience = sweet.
Another Kickstarter is the English version of Shinobigami which looks dramatic.
Last thing for today is Michtim, I like the idea of emotions being stats.