Friday, March 28, 2014

The Emerald City Comic-Con Pre-post (Monsterhearts, The Doppleganger, Avatar World and Art)

Boom boom boom it's Evangelion meets Godzilla in a modern blockbuster shell, with a soundtrack that's not exceptionally creative, but is still pretty darn rockin'. It's all very comics, which is why I picked it here.

Before I go into anything else: do you know me? Do you live in Seattle? Do you have a spare couch tomorrow (Friday) night that I can use? If the answer to all three of those was yes, please please please shoot me an email ( or a tweet (@logbook_project) or something, I'd really like to have a place to sleep tomorrow.

Alright, in related news, Comic-Con is happening and I'm very excited. Not for any particular event: I pretty much saw nothing on the panel list that actually interested me. But I'm excited to see the crowds and my friends over in the Games on Demand room and to show off my Avatar World stuff! The only thing I have explicit intention to buy is the Lost At Sea 10th Anniversary Edition (a Bryan Lee O'Malley thing that I saw in Powell's last weekend and am regretting not buying despite a ridiculous $25 price tag). I think the crowds are the biggest draw for me, I'm excited to see cosplayers and webcomics people I know from the internet.

So given that I have no plans, what on earth am I posting here? Two things.
One: If you are there and want to play some freakin' awesome Monsterhearts or Avatar World, I'm at Games on Demand for the 10:00am session on Saturday and Sunday.

Two: I have new files for you! Specifically, a new version of the Avatar World playbooks with art in them and a new version of The Doppleganger skin for Monsterhearts that's now actually made in InDesign and looks 99% like an actual MH skin (instead of the MS Word document the previous version was).

So, uh, enjoy! Hope you like them. This is basically the final release for the Doppleganger, I'm not really gonna do anything more with it. Avatar World you can continue to look forward to some more improvement though.

End Recording,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Songs: Wolfgun - Lights

The past week has been a ridiculous panicking and struggling week full of microbiology, and more microbiology, and more microbiology. Labs, prepping the lab notebook (taping in over 100 pictures into a composition notebook and hand-writing tons of stuff, ugh, I don't want to see tape for like another week), writing a paper dissection, and the exam. It all passed, then I was in Portland without significant internet on Friday and Saturday. Now I'm back, it's spring break, and Emerald City Comic Con is this weekend and I'm so excited.

This entire album, also called Lights, is literally the only thing that got me through this week. It's just magical. I have no idea how to describe Wolfgun on the whole, but I like the beats, I like the vocals, I like the spacey style, and the uplifting spirit that flows through Lights made this week so much easier.
And there's a whole ton of Wolfgun songs/albums, and they're all pay-what-you-want (no minimum)! A cool thing Wolfgun does sometimes is remake old songs of theirs in a new style that fits inside of a new album. Normally that'd give me pause, but I seem to really like it with Wolfgun.

Thanks Wolfgun.

Anyway, I intend to post more this week since I'm off. We'll see how that goes, but hey, maybe I'll actually keep my word this time. And I'll be setting up Sunday Songs in advance for next week cuz I'll be at ECCC.

End Recording,

Friday, March 14, 2014

Avatar World Art: The Playbooks

Mmm. Wish VenSun had a real album already.

Hey, I'm feeling just on fire with these playbook arts! And one enormous benefit of driving right through them more or less all at the same time is that they look like they have a somewhat consistent style, as opposed to if I'd drawn them across a couple months.

The big deal? I think I might have (almost) every single playbook art done. All eight. You've seen a couple, but I'm gonna put them here as well for completeness.
The Airbender
This is a redrawn and modified variation on the airbender currently inside the main book. I finally feel happy with it.
Fun fact: Under the vectoring, in the original skeleton/sketch, that's a lady. The clothes and vectoring (especially the looseness with which I draw faces) kinda keeps it from showing though, which is a bit unfortunate, as I really do think about trying to introduce variation in body forms through these. As I mentioned recently on Twitter though, the biggest blockage to that isn't even that I don't think or try, it's that I'm still learning this art stuff and, frankly, skinny and leanly-muscular is the easiest to go with because of how anatomy is taught in drawing, and dudes are easier because I can use myself as reference for stuff. I'm trying (though heavier-set body types are a bit easier to justify not having since the easy majority of characters in the game are going to be active athletic types; this is, of course, an excuse, so I'll keep trying anyway) but it's a process.

The Aristocrat
I have stressed a lot over getting the Aristocrat how I want him. I don't actually think I'm done yet! But I like this enough that I wouldn't mind putting it on a playbook. One thing that's pretty important to me is having the art catch them in action, not just idle, which is hard with a guy whose thing is talking to other people. I think this instead catches their nature as two-sided, as the negotiator and the schemer, as the mediator and the backstabber. Plus it doesn't lock him into finery necessarily, which is kinda good - fanciness was a central point of a lot of my early sketches. The hands might be some of the better hands I've vectored for this stuff so far. Oftentimes, hands that looks good in my sketch form, even the inked sketch, don't come out great in the vectors, but these worked just how I wanted.

The Earthbender
You've seen this before. The hands, especially his left, aren't my best by far, but I don't mind them too much. This has grown on me though.
Oh, I should mention the colors on these! It's pretty obvious (at least on my monitor) that the background isn't white, but a light grey. It might be less obvious on some of them, but the black is also actually a dark grey. I just don't like working in solid white and black. The colors aren't consistent though. They are, however, easy to modify, so I'll unify them all up when I'm putting them in the playbooks.

The Firebender
I really wanted something interesting for the firebender, and this did it for me. It took easily a half dozen shots to get the sketch looking good enough to even try vectorizing, and this is actually the second one I vectored - it's just a hard pose! But I like how it went.
This is the heaviest on the jagged-y lines style, being a bit more than the Earthbender.

The Monk
The Monk took a lot of work to try and think of how I wanted him, since "catching him in action" is pretty hard. This idea occurred to me, but this is also a pretty nasty pose to get down. Chances are, if you actually think about the anatomy, it'll fall apart, but it has a convincing impression, and that's all I want. The legs actually turned out better than I thought they would.
The lines are all smooth here! I guess that makes sense - the jagged line style seems a lot more aggressive.

The Scholar
Look at this dumbass, dropping his books everywhere. I think this is one of the more dynamic, story-filled images I've done, but it doesn't exactly paint him in a favorable light... The more I look though, the more I like it. It's the same fella as the original Scholar image, the one that became the MC Section image in the main book right now. Might swap those two around.

The Warrior
This took more fiddling with proportions than I thought it would. It's also one of the only ones where that fiddling occurred digitally, rather than on the sketch. Now though I feel a lot better about it. I had the pose idea a while ago and liked it enough to keep trying it, but it's taken a lot of work in the department. In fact, the gesture is still a little more passive than I'd really like, but I can deal with that given how decently everything turned out. I might fiddle a little more in the face, getting the expression I want. Maybe tilt the upper part of the eyes to put a bit more force into it.
Also, I'm aware of a bit of oddity in the character design here. The armor is generally quite sensible (I think :/ it's definitely not gratuitous in the usual ways, at least), but free long hair isn't all that smart on a warrior, but hey, it looks good and isn't crazy in context of the media anyway. Also, the armor and weapon are pretty damn Samurai, but hey, you can interpret that otherwise if you so desire. It's just a very obviously armor and not clothes, which was the main point.

The Waterbender
 Easily inspired by past waterbender images, I like it. A little more gesture-y rather than defining with the vectors, with pretty much a whole arm and leg entirely implied. Don't ask about the fashion - I haven't decided what she's wearing either. That's why there's so much less detail. The second-most-likely to get a real second take (after the Scholar).

That's a pretty good pile of images, I think. I feel very happy with it and will be satisfied putting them on the playbooks. Of course, I won't know for sure until I actually put them on and see, but I see no reason to think I won't like it. And hopefully you like it too!

(just the Bloodbender and Metalbender left as mandatory ones, though I might have a couple more to do if I want a couple more sub-pbs on top).

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Songs: Metric - Satellite Mind

I've never been super into Metric until just recently they've started sounded pretty great to my ears. I dunno, guess I'm having a taste expansion again. I've always liked Gold Guns Girls, and I liked the track they did for the Scott Pilgrim movie (just like I love literally every single other thing about that movie), but I could never get into their sond long enough to get through a whole album. Now I'm listening to Fantasies and enjoyin' the hell out of it.

Help I'm Alive
Gold Guns Girls
Collect Call
Black Sheep
Breathing Underwater

End Recording,

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Avatar World: The Sub-Playbooks, Part 1 (art inside)

I think I've mentioned this before, but the Spirit World is easily my favorite part of the Avatar universe. Something about it is just super alluring to me. More or less the whole Mushi-Shi soundtrack is appropriate music for the Spirit World, and it's great.

So I figured today I could just go about posting up what I have for sub-playbook stuff so far. To remind everyone about sub-playbooks, they're essentially smaller archetypes that weren't quite important or unique enough to warrant their own playbook, but are still important to the game's completion. Usually, they fit underneath one or more pre-existing playbooks.
Each playbook has an entry condition, some situation that must be true to take moves from it. Once you're a member of a sub-playbook, you can take moves from it as if it was any other playbook (meaning you use your Take A Move From Another Playbook options for it - this is one of the few points that I'm still thinking heavily about).
Every sub-playbook has 3 moves. In some cases, one of the moves will be necessary to take the others.

Here's some sub-playbooks:
The Masterless Wanderer
Masterless. A simple word, but it holds so much meaning to you. It is the shame of failure, it is the fear of death, and it is freedom from obligations.
Entry Condition: You were in the service of a lord in an official capacity, but they died dishonorably. Alternatively, they purged you from their ranks for a failure. Any playbook can become a Masterless Wanderer.
* Traveler: When you return to a community you once visited, roll +Natural. On a hit, the locals remember you favorably. On a 10+, you have Honor with this community.
(The other moves aren't written yet, but the working titles are "Unreliable" and "Hardened")
The Masterless Wanderer's art is the furthest I've deviated from the playbook-art conventions I've laid down, but I quite like it. I may refine some of the sharp edges, but I kinda like it the way it is.
Regarding the name: this has been the Ronin for days, I was literally halfway through writing this note right here about the name when I broke and switched over to The Masterless Warrior. The benefit of The Ronin was that the name itself brought the connotations of having failed, while the Masterless Wanderer (as a name) could just be a free spirit, and I liked the push of past failure, it feels like interesting drama and backstory. Of course, the Masterless Wanderer still needs to have had a master in the past and failed and lost them - it's just now restricted to the entry condition, rather than appearing in the name itself. I made the switch over the cultural appropriation fear and also because there's no "ronins" in Avatar, despite a wealth of Ronin characters. Zuko was sure one.

The Plantbender
To hold the water flowing through root, stem, and leaf isn't to rule nature but to be one with it.
Entry Condition: You must have the Waterbending move to take Plantbending, which is in turn required to take either of the other moves here.
* Plantbending: When you bend the water in plants to grow or move them, roll +Solid. On a 10+, the plants are (choose 2):
     * Thick and sturdy,
     * Overgrown and obscuring,
     * Lithe and malleable.
On a 7-9, only choose 1.
* Swamp Monster: When you gather many plants around yourself into a great beast, roll +Solid. On a 10+, you have 3 Plant. On a 7-9, you have 2 Plant. Spend 1 Plant to:
     * Weather any blow,
     * Cause masive carnage, with collateral damage. Add Tags as appropriate.
     * Manipulate plants as if you'd rolled a 7 on a Plantbending roll.
So long as you have any Plant, you cannot Waterbend anything else.
* ______: All plantbending moves use +Fluid instead of +Solid.
So sub-playbooks are how I'm doing most of the advanced bending stuff. Plant, Blood, Metal, Lightning, at the very least.
Yes, there's a move with no name. The mechanic is pretty stable, though I considered a maybe more-interesting thing about communing plants that never got anywhere mechanically and felt too complex for its own good.
The art, and the Swamp Monster move, are both very obviously Huu's trick. There's no reason it has to be with vines like he did, or even swamp materials like the name implies. There's just not many great-sounding ways to say hulk-like-pile-of-random-plants.
The Plantbending move itself has changed since the last time you saw this guy. It's now very fictional. In fact, it's mostly not mechanical at all any more. But I like it. Something about it reminds me of my work on Mass Effect Hack, though I don't know why. "Malleable" is the only adjective that isn't pitch perfect right now I think, and even then it's passable.

The Bloodbender
Boiling, raging, flowing; blood is water, people are blood. They say all these words about free will and liberty, but you know better. People are water, and water is yours to command.
Entry Condition: You must have the Waterbending move to take Bloodbending, which is in turn required to take either of the other moves here.
* Bloodbending:When you bend the blood in their veins to control their body, roll +Hot. On a 10+, even the strong-willed succumb. On a 7-9, only the weak-of-heart fall under your control.
You only get to command their body, never their mind. Bloodbending takes total mental and physical concentration. PCs cannot be bloodbended. No one's ever bloodbended multiple people at once, but that doesn't mean you can't be the first...
* Scary: Bloodbenders are reviled, but more importantly, they're feared. When you Speak Honorable or Act Dishonorably and they know what you can do, roll +Fluid instead of the usual stat. If you're bloodbending them while you do it, treat any result less han 7 as a 7.
* Crimson Moon: When the moon is full, spend 1 Chi to bloodbend anyone (other than PCs) under the light of the moon, so long as you know where they are. While you do so, you can see through their eyes.
[Art not made yet]

So there's that little pile of notes on Bloodbending, defining just how much you can get away with with this crazy-powerful move (I universally took off the moon requirement from what was already the scariest power in the show). PCs are never vulnerable - this stretches the fictional situation slightly for player agency's sake, and I'm not at all unhappy about that.
Scary is exactly what I want it to be. The final clause of that move is strong, but requires another bloodbending roll on top of the speaking roll, so the chance of a hard move is still there, just shifted.
Crimson Moon is entirely my creation. It has no basis in the show. I just thought it sounded cool, and since my other idea was just stat substitution, this is better. Plus I don't WANT to give bloodbenders stat substitution, they're strong enough already.

The Doctor
[Flavor note written yet]
Entry Condition: You must have the Always Prepared move to take Physician, which is in turn required to take either of the other moves here.
* Physician: When you take time to heal another character, spend as many Materials as you choose. The character heals that many harm. You may instead spend Materials to roll +Keen. On a 10+, heal harm equal to double the Materials spent. On a 7-9, heal harm equal to half the Materials spent, rounded up. On a miss, the Materials you spent are gone, and the MC makes a move.
* Field Medic: When you heal another character, you may spend an additional Material to do so quickly.
* Supply Scavenger: When you scan and search an area and Observe Carefully, add the question:
     * What raw materials here could I make use of?
If there's something and you take it, gain 1 Material.
Huge credits to my bro for the mortar & pestle grinding herbs thing, I was totally stumped as to what an Avatar doctor would do and this is totally it. The hair is all me though - it's a little silly, but feels very Avatar to me.
There's not much here that isn't just like it used to be - the Scholar has always been remarkably stable, even in light of the major Chi and Honor rewrites.

The Lightningbender
I'm mostly happy with this. It's action-y enough for me.
 That's it, that's all I've got on the Lightningbender right now. Don't even ask about the Metalbender, it's currently a blank slate.

Well, that's good for today. I'll stop in again when I think I've got another good batch. And come by tomorrow for Sunday Songs, of course.
The plan is to have the sub-playbooks done (to the extent that I want to have them "done" for the core book) for Emerald City Comic-Con, which I will be GMing at for Games On Demand. Come by the GoD room at 10am on Saturday or Sunday and come say hi and maybe play a game with me!
End Recording,

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sunday Songs: Strike Suit Zero - Main Theme

I haven't played Strike Suit Zero, but I grabbed the soundtrack on a whim before I knew anything about the game. I was pleasantly surprised to find a soundtrack that shouts back some of my favorite sci-fi sounds, while maintaining its own identity. Thanks to a heavy use of some choice middle-eastern instrumentation and an echo-y female voice, it manages to push at some of my favorite audio things. This song, the main theme, is a good active one that stays quite emblematic to the soundtrack. If you like the atmospheric side of it, click the link for The Signal. If you like the action side, go clicking the link for The Black Fleet.
I mentioned other sci-fi sounds! Three in particular. First: very obvious in Thule Research Station is this pulsing noise that sounds a ton like the first Mass Effect game. Second: I don't even know what the voice in Ancient A.I. is making me think of, but it's very familiar. Third: The Mind in the Machine, while aided by the name, sounds very Deus Ex to me.
I probably won't ever play the game - it's not really my thing. But I like the soundtrack a lot. Middle-eastern flavor in my soundtracks is a big plus.

The Signal
Off World
Thule Research Station
Ancient A.I.
The Mind in the Machine
The Black Fleet

End Recording,