Friday, 24 June 2011

The Kirkaskivi

Visual indexes resonating with the vibrations of the transdimensional crystal matrix - an alternative source of cosmic energy for clerics.

Futuroscope | France

Daniel Cantrell
Holy Symbol: The Crystal Shard | The Dark Crystal | Froud / Henson
 Turn undead | see Skeptics Dictionary
vibrational frequencies of being | see Skeptics Dictionary
The Crystal Method

Cure Light Wounds
Crystal Castles | Game flyer
Massive Crystal Cave
Fortress of Solitude - Superman | by Daniel Cole
The Kirkaskivi needs no introduction to civilised Men. Who but the simpleton and child does not know of it? How many times has the song of its coming and the Death of Gods been recounted in the halls of tale-telling? How many wars have been faught to secure ownership of it? When indeed it is now known by all that it is the right and privilege of all who live to bathe in the glorious spectra. Who has not had some minor ailment cured or have witnessed great deeds done by one who bares but a single shard of it's geometrical perfection?  Without number is the count of people who yearn to take the Great Pilgrimage and witness for themselves the indescribable peace and beauty the blessed crystal brings. 

Is it not also true that not yet all Men are civilised? And is it not true that some, in knowing and seeing the power of the stone, seek dominion over death itself? To enslave the deceased. For that is the curse the Kirkaskivi has wrought - whilst blessings and light and life it brings to the many living, there is also rot and disease and an eternity of toil to the restless dead.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Spikey Rat Pack Captain GaGa [40K:RT]

The absolutely stunning Captain Gaga, sculpted by Mikko Luoma and painted by Kari Hernesniemi.

B&W preview shot of Captain Gaga | via Spiky Rat Pack

Little did I realise that when comparing Lady GaGa to the Sisters of Battle (more likely than not themselves inspired by the post-apocalyptic visions of the Atomic and magnificent Debbie Harry), elsewhere, on the other side of the Warp, a hugely talented pairing of sculptor and minis painter were working on a 40k influenced miniature of LaGaGa. And I'd have remained ignorant, but thankfully Kari joined the Zhu-tang Clan and inadvertently created a slavering fan-boy.

It's massively cool to see that John Blanche has been following the progress and giving encouragement to their project over on the Spikey Rat Pack blog. The influence of Johns Femme Millitant range is quite clear, and there is more than a slight nod to Amazonia Gothique. But more than this, for me, this is taking Warhammer back to it's Pop Culture roots, can anyone doubt that the Rat Spike crew are worthy of a 'Eavy Metal special? It's all to easy to be cynical about GWs direction these days, and it's good to see the faith is still kept by the hidden masters...

Also on the comment is the watchful eye and constructive feedback of ex-wargames factory, ex-games workshop sculpt-droid (to paraphrase the 2000ad) indie master Steve Buddle (just look at his cleric - pure gritty old-school) is also enlightening to read. Should I ever attempt to push putty I'll be scouring his comments for top tips.

Without further ado, here's some stats I made up for 40k Rogue Trader / Warhammer Fantasy Battle 2/3rd Edition / Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness / Old-School Sci-Fantasy Battle. In no way official or endorsed by anyone involved in the project.


Captain Gaga

4 5 4 4 2 3 5 3 9+2 7 8+1 9+1


all creatures within 4"/8 yards must make a WP test or move adjacent to GaGa, after which they stand transfixed, unable to react. [RoC:LatD]

One Eye

Ballistic Skill has been dropped by 50% [RoC:LatD]

Radio Gaga

Captain Gagas backpack constantly emits a form of psychoactive euroclash inspired plasti-pop soundwave which sends her followers within 12" into a Frenzy, they may also make 2 ranged weapon shots per turn, but at a -1 to Hit, as they tend to be dancing around whilst wildly firing weapons rather than taking aim. [40k:RT:WaaarghtheOrks]

Radio Gaga also has the effect of jamming all radio communications within 36" - this will have various nullifying effects on Robots and Support Weapons. [Zhu]

Enormous Noise

Each turn roll 1D6. On the result of a 6 Captain Gaga emits a mind-wrenching warble that disturbs everyone within 12" to  the depths of their psyche. All rolls must be made with a +1 or -1 penalty to their detriment. Followers and allies are accustomed to the sound, and are quite unaffected.[RoC:LatD]


Needle Pistol

Short Range: Long Range: To Hit - Short To Hit - Long Damage: Save Modifier
0-8" 8-16" +2 -1 1 -1

Displacer Field 2PV

Save on 4+ move 1d6" in a random direction. [40k:RT]

+++ But I'm still in love with Horus, baby, Hor-uh-us, Hor-uh-us +++

So I compel you, in my best Bene Gesserit Voice go see what the Spikey Rat Pack are up to, it's rather cool.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Interview with Trevor Hammond

For those of you not in the know, during the 1980's Trevors Hammonds work was regularly featured in Games Workshop publications such as White Dwarf, Warlock, Black Sun, as well as advertising. Hammonds visuals injected both a sense of humour and a grimey atmosphere into articles on wide ranging roleplaying subjects from assassination to zombies and everything in-between.

Trev kindly took time out to answer a few questions and put pen to paper...

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Shadows of Stone: Eric Gill

Eric Gill | The Daily Herald Order of Industrial Heroism | 1929
This has always struck me as a fantastic illustration of Gandalf taking Pippin and the Palantir from Orthanc to Minas Tirith.

Eric Gill | The Friars Tale from Canterbury Tales

Eric Gill | Border from Canterbury Tales
Eric Gill | The FranklinsTtale (page borders)
Eric Gill (1882 – 1940) an extraordinary sculptor image maker and typeface designer (Gill Sans, is his probably his best known work the corporate typeface of the BBC and one-time darling of Penguin Book covers) Gill also had strange religious beliefs and a deeply unsavoury personal life. Nonetheless his illustrations for Cantebury Tales, and The Bible, amongst others have a strange, earthy yet otherworldly charm. Graceful linework, simplicity of form and masterful sense of space one would expect from one of the leading lights of early Modern British design (or late Arts and Crafts, if such labels matter much).

Meanwhile the subject matter not a million miles away from surreal Swords and Sorcery. To cite Gill as an artistic influence would be an understatement, the graphic sensibility, the stylisation and 'flat-ness' of the work all inform the image making practices and preferences.   Erics work (typefaces excepted?) should become copyright free in 2015 (?) perhaps someone will do for Gill what Dark Dungeons did for Gustave Dore...

Friday, 3 June 2011

Ashen The Demonchylde [Iconic Character]

An iconic Magic User player character from the Realm of Zhu, for 1st Edition style RPGs. Ashen The Demonchylde.

Name: Ashen The Demonchylde

Hit Points:4
Alignment:Neutral Good
Sec. Skill: None

Str [ 09 ] To Hit:+0  Damage:+0
Int [ 17 ] Spells:75%  Min:8  Max:14
Wis [ 10 ] Magical Attack Adj:+0
Dex [ 15 ] React/Attack:+0  Defense:-1
Con [ 11 ] Hits:+0  Sys:75%  Res:80%
Cha [ 07 ] Reaction Adj:-5%

Movement Base:12"(12")
Carrying Capacity:500gp
Armor Class: 9(10)

Languages: Common, Neutral Good, Ettin, Stone Giant, Halfling, Dwarvish, Guardian Naga, Goblin, Weasel


 Magic-User Spells: 1


Level 1: Friends, Identify, Light, Nystul's Magic Aura, Push, Read Magic

Level 3: Clairaudience

Saving Throws:
 Paralyze, Poison Or Death Magic:14
 Petrify Or Polymorph:13
 Rod, Staff Or Wand:11
 Breath Weapon:15

Proficient Weapons:

Weapon In Hand:Dagger (1-4)

Armor Worn:Robe

Dagger, Robe, Spell Components, Spellbook, Leather Backpack, Waterskin, Cloak, Rations, Leather Boots, Bedroll, Pocket Knife, Mirror, Lantern, Oil Flask, Torch


Tsk-ck-ck, Albino Weasel, 4hp, AC 7. superior hearing & very superior olfactory power.

The first thing anybody notices about Ashen is his freakish, striking appearance. Bone white skin and pale red eyes. The second thing they notice is Tsk-ck-ck the albino weasel that never seems to go far from his side, but scampers and crawl over his robes, inquisitively dancing in and out of pockets and nodding sagely whilst sat upon Ashen's shoulder and chattering in his strange clicking way

As a babe-in-arms, Ashen was bought by an Eldarin tribe from penniless and somewhat relieved parents. The Eldarin took to displaying the freakish child for profit, and affectionately nick-named him the Demonchylde. It was during the high summer festival that the infant performed an unannounced, dramatic and hugely successful feat of self-levitation. Ashens gift unusual in human children, schooled by Gayelin a petty Eldarin hedge-witch, the tribe having no particular wizards of note. In truth, Gaylin knew little magic beyond the bewitchments that the flash of a firm thigh from flowing skirts and a wry smile can cast upon a man. Yet she was able to encourage Ashen to cast small glamours and to channel his magical powers. Whilst nor performing, or honing his innate talents, Ashen befrended the jugglers and acrobats of the Eldarin tribe, and grew into a happy-go-lucky, headstrong child. Around this time Ashen made another lifelong friend, Tsk-ck-ck, an albino weasel.

It was shortly before Ashen's 12th birthday that the caravan train arrived at Urucksfjord, in time for the spring fayre. Master Cedaric, 3rd degree initiate of the Order of the White Tower chanced upon the child. After some small persuasion from Gayelin, Cedaric noted the childs innate talents and that Ashen was, by fate or chance, the perfect age to join the Academy. Accepting a meagre fee 'for their losses' the Eldarin happily passed their weirdling charge over to the Masters of the White Tower and merrily went upon their way.

Despite the best intentions of Cedaric and the other Masters, Ashen was not the most serious of students, his Eldarin upbringing giving him a carefree attitude and an off-center sense of humour. More given to capering and pranks than bookwork, despite his obvious talents it was with great relief to his masters when Ashen finally passed the examinations and took his ceremonial robes. Ashen, however was even more relieved than they that he had finally graduated. Giving up the Magisterial life, at the age of 16 took to the road to seek his fortune as a Journeyman-mage.

Design notes: Ashen is based on an AD&D character I ran when I was 15. He was, unashamedly based on Micheal Moorcocks Elric Kinslayer and Weiss & Hickmans Raistlin Majere, but where Raistlin was sarcastic and bitter, Ashen was light-hearted and jovial, and where Elric was a high-born and self-outcast, Ashen was of low-born indeterminate origin and rather well integrated into his society (although his low charisma due to the albinism is often a block to that).  Here he has been updated and brought into the world of Bearoak.

Wizard schools are like a rock in the shifting seas of fantasy, be it Roke in LeGuins Earthsea or the Pratchetts Unseen University of Discworld. Although I take this opportunity to say that I've never read Harry Potter, so whatever Hogwarts is about, the Urucksfjord Univeristy is not it...

While there are the lesser colleges, and polytechnics, The Order of the White Tower is the major school of magic in the whole of Albion. Upon initiation undergraduates take a new name, these are routinely based on the common names of trees - a tradition going back to the dark ages of the dawn of wild magic. The days when taking an academic name meant all ties are severed are long past, yet members of the Order still retain the taking of a common tree-name in honour of their Orders ancient heritage.