Tuesday, July 31, 2012



Monday, July 30, 2012


Ah, the Badger. Another class from my farming RPG, the Badger was originally named that because I thought "mole" was cliched for a guy who digs around, and "gopher" sounded too goofy. Plus, I am proud to be Wisconsin educated and making him a crazy Badger sounded like fun. If you think he's like a Dirtomancer from Erfworld, that is fine.

So I was trying to figure out roles, as I'm sure I mentioned before, and the Badger became a kind of transport class. He would dig tunnels that allowed allies greater mobility around the battlefield, but making him a one-trick pony like that is obviously problematic.The "badger" in his name contributed some buff-administering power by implying that he would badger allies into moving faster or hitting harder, but it sounds kind of schmaltzy when I explain it out loud. So I just sort of expanded him in all directions.

So, a short list of ideas I had, because I love short lists of dumb ideas:
Rabbit Hole
teleportation spell
Saps enemy wall
Make a Hole

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Doodlin' zombies. Really rough doodles, I'm tired tonight. Thinking about how necromancy works in Giant Stories. A long time ago, I was reading Marvel Zombies and I was wondering exactly how zombies work in general. Eventually, I got sick of thinking about it and decided to make zombies that worked in a different way. I wanted a world where zombies are sort of expensive to operate over long periods of time and necromancers are techies who follow a process more complicated than "gesture and nonsense words near corpses".

The idea is that a natural gas reanimates corpses into relatively docile zombies. In the "wild", zombies might stand up and move around a bit, but they're not very coordinated. Necromancers use radio collars and distribution pumps to shift the gas (or compounds created from the gas) around and in doing so command the zombies.  Since they move based on contractile tissue, these zombies don't need heads to function. Zombies preserved soon enough in the decomp process exhibit improved reflexes and a small amount of memory, vaguely recognizing situations and surroundings.

An improved process zombifies the heart first and uses it to circulate a gas compound that allows for autonomous movement on corpses with complete circulatory systems enough brain to coordinate various systems necessary for movement. A full tank of necromantic gas can power an adult male and stave off decomp for a few weeks, but more complicated efforts are needed for further protection.

Ghouls are a weird idea I had that I can't get rid of even though they're pretty cumbersome. They're semi-intelligent machines designed for use by humans, immediately before their creators went extinct. So now, they manipulate zombified human corpses into operating them.  The original design was huge and clunky and totally setting inappropriate in every way. The newer design (the itty-bitty one down there in the corner) is a little better.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Celie is kind of a tough nut to crack. I am completely terrible at writing for characters, but Celie gets it worst because she's a woman and a doctor. Ebling's focus on medical technology means that from a "realistic" stand point she'd be the most likely to be knowledgeable about the things they'd find, so she got relegated to exposition a lot. Trying to take advantage of her skills as a doctor mean she becomes a sort of surrogate mother figure and it means the cast starts to look very fragile.

Her actual job is a bit in flux. I always wanted there to be some degree of necromancy and I was doing a lot of thinking on how it would work, when I struck upon the Jiang-Shi legend and it clicked, but making a necromancer a protagonist--not even an anti-hero--created a problem, because demonstrating her powers frequently in the barrenness of Eb was a problem. Hopefully the fact that she's not actually a real doctor makes her more interesting. She has very general medical training and first aid skills, but beyond that her preferred field is necromancy.

This actually reflects a huge problem I have with fiction, actually. Once you designate a character as educated in a particular field, the audience sort of expects them to know everything about everything there is to know, and the less the audience is expected to know about a particular field, the broader the knowledge the character has to carry, and often writers overload one designated "shmott guy" who can pipe up with expertise on anything from particle physics to small engines repair. For Celie, for example, once she was a doctor I sort of tasked her with knowing everything medical, from the made-up necromantic stuff I made up for the story to the emergency surgery I'll make her perform later to the otherworldly medical tech they'll encounter in Eb. I'm gonna cut it up as much as I can, but we'll see how it goes.

Anyway, in the current version, she's a low-level necromancer hired for a miserable assignment in the mountains. Although she's associated with an organization that certifies her work, they neither control nor care what she does. Like Kingsley and the Kark, she's sort of unmoored. She's actually good at her job and reasonably versatile, but of course it's an every-day quality, like being a really good math teacher or a fantastic cop. Even in the camp, she's recognized as competent but she's overshadowed by the various famous doctors with highly specialized skills.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Animal Doodles

Some animal doodles and thoughts, I guess. The canary is something I'm proud of: in a world where a natural gas causes the dead to rise (and also kills the living), miners protect themselves with dead canaries that become reanimated in its presence.

The bees are another kind of fun idea: bees are basically nasty flying syringes full of poison. The honey that bees produce changes slightly depending on the vegetation the bees pollinate, and honey is a food source within a bee hive. As a result, seeding a local hive's collection base with special flowers would change the properties of the honey, the diet of the bees and the makeup of the compound in their poison sacks. Thus bees and their honey both have medicinal qualities. Different strains of medibees would visit different flowers, brewing different honey and thus different medicine in their stings; the same breeding might be used to alter the bees in such a way that their various medical payloads can be discerned. Coloration, tonality of flight drone, hive construction, flight patterns, all might be used to identify a medibee. Without the flowers, however, medibees will behave as ordinary bees, returning their sting to its natural poisonous state.

The armadillos and sloths are part of my "new world fantasy" idea. Fantasy stories kind of have an accepted pantheon of mundane animals, and they're all Eurasian; wolves and bears, horses and sheep, and so on and so forth. Sometimes someone will get really crazy and throw a goat into the mix. I want to shake it up a little by creating a world populated heavily (or exclusively) by new world animals, and was pleased to discover that the xenarthran family (armadillos, anteathers, sloths) are exclusive to the Americas. I'll include some domesticated North American animals (with bison, llamas and turkey replacing cows, sheep and chickens respectively), perhaps. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Teufort Civilians: Middle Management

Job satisfaction, the respect of his staff, and a junior varsity football jersey unstained by tears. The Middle Manager has none of these. What he does have is a slavish obsession for three-ring binders, timetables, and any of the structure surrounding work, without all the tiresome work everyone else gets bogged down. His delusions of authority are dwarfed only the magnitude of his wasted dreams.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mister Dog and Lord Baltimore

I love Mike Mignola. I don't know how he would feel to hear a man in his twenties express such a sentiment, but it's true on a professional level. I adore every scratch of artwork the man has ever created, and his writing is top-notch. I crib his work all the time, although I of course rely much more heavily on linework than his ornately crafted deep shadows and brilliantly simple colors.

So I'll periodically take out a handful of books he drew--Hellboy, BPRD, The Amazing Screw-on Head--and I'll just copy out particularly striking figures or devices, just to get them into my head. My patchwork of disjointed shapes sometime even resemble the object he was drawing.

Mr. Dog: a taxidermied dog under glass that can apparently locate anything in the world. Or possibly just Emperor Zombie. I don't know and it doesn't matter. It's just one of the many cool props that came out of The Amazing Screw-On Head. I have a few more screwdles planned from this book, just fun exercises in prop design. I don't really like how it came out: Mr. Dog is too short, the little doodad on the side is too small.... but eh, that's what these exercises are for.

Lord Baltimore is a peg-legged vampire hunter, and this screwdle from the cover of The Plague Ships tries to capture  some more of Mike's magnificent style. He draws these great heavy figures, these guys who look really solid. Obviously, those complicated belts weighed down with daggers and hammers and pouches informs my belt lust. But before accusations of Liefeld's Syndrome start flying, note that all this stuff is hanging near the waist and supported by multiple shoulder straps. Yeah, it's a lot of stuff and it would probably be really uncomfortable and heavy to carry, but at least it's not an outfit that would require Baltimore to ride around on an imaginary horse.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Another guy from my game idea. His whole thing was clearing brush by starting fires. Obviously, in a game where you manage a farm, garden, and yard, the "monsters" you'd face are a mix of encroaching weeds (dandelions, box elders, thistle) and pests (earwigs, gophers).

He's sort of a fire-fighter type, starting controlled burns to push out enemies and weeds while also clearing land for the farmers. IF you're wondering about his doofy pose, he was originally going to be throwing a molotov cocktail.

He evolves by feeding farmers chili peppers, maybe. Not sure about the evolution thing.

Some attack ideas:
-sets an uncontrolled fire that spreads quickly
Raze the Roof
-fire attack that harms buildings
-converts a planted sqaure into "dry brush"
Controlled Burn
--Instantly turns a limited range into burned patch
--smoke attack makes enemies sleepy

Burned patch square: High nutrient value, 0 burnability
Dry Brush: 10 burnability

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thunderstick, AKA "French Tickler"

This is a design I've been working on for a while: a Pyro flamethrower that shoots lightning. Mostly because I just fell in love with that fork-in-toaster look. It's called the "French Tickler" because in Pyroland it would appear to be a feather-duster-like apparatus that shoots feather and tickles enemies. Also because the Pyro's favorite victim is French, and the convulsions caused by electric shock look like tickling.

I realize I'm only a week into this and already I'm two days worth of drawings behind, but getting a spare minute to draw something at my computer every day is proving to be more complicated than I originally imagined, especially as I get more self-conscious and start coloring this stuff.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Intern

So, the mercenaries are part of a broader company apparently,  one that relies as heavily on pencil pushers, bean counters, and paper shufflers to function. I've always wondered what these guys are doing. There's supposedly this vast army of support staff that you never ever see, and I thought that was a tragedy.

Actually, I just want to see more people rendered in the TF2 style. TF2 maps are littered with high walkways, inaccessible rooms, and other places where there could conceivably be people doing their jobs, or even watching the fights. So I started designing them.

The first is the Intern.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Farmer

I got bored last summer and started designing these weird dudes. They were part of an ill-defined Farmville-esque game where the player built a kingdom by planting plants. It was like a tactics RPG but also somehow a strategy game or something. Anyway, you "levelled" your characters, claimed territory and did other stuff by planting plants, while weeding your garden and clearing it of pests and enemy saboteurs.

There were a bunch of classes. The art style, the level of detail in the characters and the shape of the classes changed every time I drew them. One minute, they're whimsical FFT-inspired dudes in impractical robes, next minute they looked like a bomb squad lost in the gardening section.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pyro House

It's the Pyro's house. This is a little thought I've had kicking around for a while. Like, two years, I guess. Mostly I just liked the image of a stump with an axe in it, and the house evolved from there. I just want this to be sitting on a map somewhere, even if it's a facade. Postal pummeler out front, stump with an axe in it. Maybe some other melee weapons scattered around, along with gas cans, propane tanks, a wood pile... just stuff to indicate that the Pyro probably lives here. Clip through the house and you'll see... I don't know. A house decorated with pastel rainbows? A shower that alternatively plays a high pitched and low pitched humming?

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Kark

The Kark, shown here as being a little skinnier than he actually is. He's a broad-shouldered brute. He is strong--it might take a half dozen men to truly subdue him--but not superhuman. A craftsman from the old continent, he was part of the team contracted to build radio buoys in the wilderness. As a character, he's very strange. He has this big, violent id that glories in creative violence crossed with an empathetic side that channels this anger into righteousness. He uses the moral burden of his role as a protector to justify his enthusiasm.

The Kark is fun to think about. I wanted this big brutish guy who's still very nimble; in my head he moves around a lot like the Hulk. Which is sort of my thing, I guess: I love these big, unstoppable guys who are just unrestrained id. The Heavy, the Hulk, the brute splicer. However, that effortless violence also bothers me. It's fun to watch one dude demolish a dozen, but there comes this feeling then that he's inevitable and unstoppable. So the Kark can't do that. Move him back, make him more judo-esque. I have this mental image of him holding a gun with a trigger guard too small to accommodate his colossal mitts.  So he corners a guy, stuffs that's hand into the gun, and starts squeezing the guy so he'll pull the trigger. I want to make a brute that can come up with creative solutions to problems.

Right, the art. The actual reason for all this. I'm obviously beginning to experiment more with Mignola-style heavy shadows and shape suggestion. My Liefield Syndrome began acting up, so you see pouches. Heavy shadows are starting to come out. Like I said, he's actually supposed to be a lot bulkier. I want his shoulders to match his neck, plus I want him to have a gut. He's more a linebacker than a bodybuilder; his muscles are for work, not for show. He does a lot of lifting, throwing, hammering and sawing, but very little running or gymnastics: as a result he's got powerful arms and hands, but he also has relatively underdeveloped legs and something of a gut.