Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Art Preview: Black Operators

Just a quick post while I'm at lunch at work.
I just got this rough image from Anthony, depicting his WIP artwork for three races from the upcoming Black Operators sourcebook.

From left to right, you've got the four-armed Boxer soldier, a flying Neon, and the stony Anvil. I don't thinkthe Anvil will be keeping his beard, because it makes him look too Dwarven and fantasy-based for a superhero setting, but other than that, this is a pretty good idea of what you'll be seeing in the upcoming book.

The enthusiasm that not only the artists have approaced Black Operators, but that the fans have shown for the setting has convinced me to do more with Psi-Watch. Look for more Psi-Watch material over the next few months.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Art Preview: Electric Town

Well, one of the consequences of the new job, aside from the fact I've got a fully stocked fridge and new softgoods and kitchenware for the first time in forever, is that I can spend more on artwork for my projects.

Today, I thought I'd preview some of the art for Electric Town that Amanda Webb is producing. One of the things I hadn't done previously was include a loli-con element in Black Tokyo, though I knew to do justice to the genre I'd have to include it sooner or later. One thing I did want to do was capture the sheer beauty of the artwork of Oyari Ashito. (That's one of his relatively few work-safe images up top.) The guy has some serious issues, and if you do an image search for more art by him, you'll see EXACTLY what I mean, but damn, he can draw.

So I homaged his artwork with the Oyari Musical Academy, since Black Tokyo: Electric Town is very much a bard book. I sent Amanda some reference images, and as always she knocked it out the park. I love the way she drew the female violinist's face- it has that unique shape and proportion that Oyari gives his women. Anyway, I'm always amazed that Amanda captures little details like that.

In addition to the art for Electric Town I was able to get Anthony Cournoyer to do some images for Psi-Watch: Black Operators. He'll be illustrating some of the more unique creatures of that setting: The Boxers, The Anvil and the flame-based Neon.

I also hired Vic Shane to do some more work for me. I'd been wanting to work with him again since Kodiak Island came out, and he'll be designing several robots for Battlechangers: Ironworks.

Look for lots of previews, including some of the amazing art John Picot has already turned in for Black Operators, next time.

Blessed Be,

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Otherverse 2.0's cultural templates

Last post, I’ve mentioned I’ve begun revising Otherverse America. Right now, I’ve been working on the mechanics, and I’m not sure how extensively I’ll be revising the setting. I’m not sure if I’ll create a new time line or move the setting’s default era to somewhen other than circa January 22, 2107. In some ways it’s tempting to do something like Shadowrun does with each new edition, and move the timeline 20-30 years forward.

One of the biggest changes I’ve made so far is to a certain extent abandoning the Advanced Classes emblematic of the setting, though not the concepts behind those classes. If I’m going to make this setting Pathfinder compatible, I want to do so wholeheartedly, by taking full advantage of the existing classes. I also really don’t want to create a bunch of new prestige classes… so what to do? I still want to have Midwives, Ghosts of Babies Past and other iconic character options.

Well, I’m playing with the idea of cultural templates, which I introduced in Black Tokyo Legends: Races of the Tatakama, and carried over into Black Tokyo Unlimited and Heavy Future. This way, you still have Covenguards and Midwives, but you expand the possibilities dramatically. Now, with this cultural template in place, sure you can have a Fighter Covenguard or a Caviler Covenguard, but you could also have something like a Covenguard Sorcerer, or a Midwife Alchemist or Midwife Summoner in addition to the cleric-like role the character filled in the original draft. I think it allows for some really fucking odd combinations: what the holy fuck would a Ubasti Midwife Barbarian look like, for instance?

The cultural templates summarize the core concept of a particular class (and there are other Choicer templates available, at least 3 more at the time of this writing) and sooner or later I’ll do a similar treatment of the Lifer iconic classes, as well as add some iconic roles for unaligned, APEX and Fed-Gov heroes. Players will be able to select traits and feats that cover many of the class abilities of the former classes turned templates, available only to those characters who chose the templates, with all their advantages and disadvantages.

So take a first look at the revised Covenguard and Neo-Witch Midwife cultural templates.
Later I’ll preview additional aspects of the revised rule set.


A Covenguard defends the coven and its priestesses, with his life and soul if necessary. Covenguard soldiers are modern paladins and questing knights, the chosen champions of technologically advanced, politicized abortion priestesses and the guardians of an embattled faith. Like the women they protect, Covenguards enhance their bodies with extensive cybernetic reconstruction and onboard weapons.

These elite, highly motivated bodyguards dedicate themselves to the protection of pagan America and survival of Choicer culture. They can be thought of as warrior priests, embodying the strength and protectiveness of the male archetype; worshippers of war-gods and fertility kings who bind themselves, body and soul, to the women whose cause they champion. Clad in gleaming gold and silver cyber-armor, Covenguard warriors are main battle tanks in humanoid shape, completely dedicated to the feminist ideals of the Covenant.

            The Covenguard cultural template produces a superhumanly durable, cyborg knight committed to the defense of women in both the chivalrous abstract and feminine choice in the concrete.

            The protection of the coven and its priestess is seen as a fundamentally male duty by most Covenant sects. Most prospective Covenguard must be male, though the Ásatrú  sect accepts the service of what they call valkyries, exclusively lesbian warriors who serve as rune-etched Covenguard stalwarts.

            Ability Score Modifiers
            +2 STR, +2 CON, -2 CHA. Covenguards are durable and indomitable, but taciturn. They speak little, concentrating on their duties and upon the oaths they’ve sworn.
Arms and Atheme (EX)
During their induction into the coven, and as they swear their vows of justice and courage, Covenguard warriors are implanted with collection of innovative nanonic cyber-implants. Unlike the sleek, blood red bionics of a Midwife, the Covenguard’s knightly arms are heavy armored, durable combat models. The cyborg limbs are colored in warm oranges, yellows, golds, brown and metallic grays, and are often decorated with patterns and acid etched sigils representing the many faces of the God.

            The Covenguard is treated as having the following suite of cybernetics, which do not count against his total Drain and are described fully in The Polymer Path (Otherverse Games, 2014). These implants all have the Nanotech tag, and regenerate at the same rate as the Covenguard’s organics.
·         Advanced Cyberlimb (dominant hand and arm)
·         Dermal Plating (medium or heavy)

The Covenguard can deploy a masterwork quality version of any one of these weapons from his Advanced Cyberlimb as part of an attack action, as if he possessed the Quick Draw feat with this weapon: dagger, kris, shortsword, warhammer. This weapon may be enchanted normally; once chosen, the weapon can only be changed by cybernetic surgery.

My Life For Yours (SU)
A Covenguard will sacrifice much in the defense of their faith and will die to protect the witch-women they love above all else.

The Covenguard may elect to place himself in the path of danger to protect a single ally, who must either be a woman (of any faith), or a pagan (of either gender). Once per round, if the Covenguard is adjacent to an eligible ally who is targeted by a direct attack, including spells or psi-talents, (though not an area effect) the Covenguard can subject himself to the attack in the ally’s stead as an immediate action. If the attack hits the Covenguard, he suffers damage normally. If it misses, it also misses the ally.

The Covenguard must declare his intention to place himself in harm’s way before the attack roll is made. The Covenguard may select a new eligible ally to protect each round.

            Oaths Spoken (SU)
            A Covenguard is knighted with great ceremony, inducted into the role of protector and witch’s champion before the assembled coven and the watching Lords and Ladies. The Covenguard is under a permanent geas/quest effect, which cannot be dispelled or removed. He is sworn to protect pagans of any gender, or women of any faith, to act chivalrously, and to defend the Covenant and its citizens against Lifer terrorism and oppression.

Neo-Witch Midwife
            Neo-Witch Midwives undergo one of the most comprehensive medical training programs in human history. In the Covenant, girls with both aptitude and passion for medicine, and the mental strength necessary to be a leader and protector to other women, are identified early. The most gifted of these children begin Midwife apprenticeship while in their early teens. Using a mid of traditional classroom learning, on the job training and apprenticeship, and psi-based learning, by the time her counterparts are entering high school, prospective Midwives have a medical education equal to that of a first year surgical intern, back in the first years of the 21st Century.

With their clinics protected behind military grade force-screens and their tattooed bodies enhanced by subdermal armor and integrated weapons, Neo-Witch Midwives accept the duty of fighting for choice in the abstract, and carrying out abortions when they must. Neo-Witch Midwives can best be thought of as obstetrician / social workers, cybernetically enhanced healers with a uniquely pagan world view.

            Midwives skew young. Far too many experienced Midwives were slain during the War, or shortly after, in ‘isolated terrorist incidents’ that no Choicer believes are truly isolated. Their replacements are young women in their early 20s, leading covensteads, running the day to day operations of clinics and serving as the face of the post-Christian, transhumanist Covenant.

            The Neo-Witch Midwife cultural template creates a passionate young physician-priestess, identified by the unique, blood-red bionic arm that is her badge of office and chief medical implement.

            The Covenant will only allow women to tend the medical needs of other women. The Neo-Witch Midwife cultural template is restricted to female characters. A handful of exceptions do exist, products of unique training streams, as transgender medics, or increasingly rare veterans of a time before the Covenant consolidated gynecological training in women’s hands, but they are one in a million oddities.

            Ability Score Modifiers
            +2 WIS. Neo-Witch training emphasizes the spiritual aspects of medicine, and sharpens the student’s will and compassion.

Feminist Medicine (EX)
The Neo-Witch Midwife sees herself as the last line of defense for a woman’s rights, and a bastion of medical care for needy women. The Midwife adds half her total character level as an insight bonus on Heal checks (maximum +10) made to treat female creatures, or assist in reproductive care.

Heal is always a class skill for Neo-Witch Midwife.

Obstetric Nanonics (EX)
            During apprenticeship, young Midwives are implanted with revolutionary cyber-systems that are her badge of office: the Ipas-VII Obstetric Nanonics cyberlimb. A nanonic infection and integrated micro-tech power-supply are knitted into the flesh of her arm. Over the next few weeks, the priestess’s dominant arm and hand is transformed by the cyber-infection from human blood and carbon into a sleek shape-memory polymer replacement.

            The Neo-Witch Midwife is treated as having the following suite of cybernetics, which do not count against her total Drain and are described fully in The Polymer Path (Otherverse Games, 2014). These implants all have the Nanotech tag, and regenerate at the same rate as the Midwife’s organics.
·         Advanced Cyberlimb (dominant hand and arm)
·         Olfactory Complex
·         Onboard Computer
·         Onboard Tool, Shapememory

            Demonized (EX)
            Neo-Witch Midwives are demonized as babykillers and worse among the Lifers. When interacting with any character with a Lifer patron deity, the Midwife rolls 2d20 on Bluff and Diplomacy checks and takes the worse result. All Midwives have performed abortions, and are always detected as such by a Neverborn’s extrasensory aura.

            Nuremberg Data-Piracy (EX)
            The fearsome, continent-spanning Nuremberg AI compulsively gathers data on the activities, careers and mental weaknesses of the abortion providing Midwives. Characters with a Lifer patron deity receive a +1 trait bonus per five character levels the Midwife has obtained on Computer Use checks made to find intel about the Midwife or hack her cyber-systems.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Update on Projects, and Otherverse America 2.0 BEGINS!!!!!!

Okay, short post before I head off to work tonight.
This evening will be the first 11 pm - 7 am shift I work now that I'm done with the training period at my job. Wish me luck, and hopefully it'll be a quiet night.

Well, this weekend, I bought some household goods, including new sheets, towels, ect, as well as this latest Bombshell figure. He's on my shelf beside my G1 Bombshell, and I refer to the pair as my Bombshell Brothers now. Neat little figure.

So what's coming up? Well, I'm just waiting on the last artwork for Black Tokyo: Electric Town, and have begun gathering artwork for Battlechangers: Ironworks, as I'm referring to the Pathfinder compatible racebook.

Also, last night I started the first efforts towards making Otherverse America a fully modern-magic, completely Pathfinder-based setting. More details later, but even the initial efforts are proving promising, and I'm cleaning up some things.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Great Job, Robots and Electricity

Well, first off I have some excellent news.

After more than seven years, I am finally and totally out of the restaurant industry.  This Monday, I started a new job at the local hospital as one of the housekeeping staff. Nothing grand, but the pay and environment are both better than I've been in for the last few years. In one jump, I've gone from dirt poor to solidly middle class. That means soon, I'll be able to put a little more into my art budget, but more importantly, my life in general has improved exponentially.

Now, what have I been working on?

Well, I've sent in a compilation of all the Black Tokyo feats and traits to Mark and that should be up soon. Beyond that I'm working on a few major projects this spring.

First, you'll see Black Tokyo: Electric Town, which is a meaty sourcebook detailing a huge hunk of Tokyo. It's going to have tons of content, both in terms of world information and plot hooks, and new powers, gadgets and abilities for your heroes, as well as a nice little bestiary section. Sometime after that, expect Black Tokyo: Cannibal Japan, which should be the sickest and creepiest thing I've ever written.

After that look for Battlechangers: Ironworks. The prospective cover is up top. Remember Battlechangers, the standalone Transformers homage RPG I did back in 2011? Well, I'm going to convert it over to Pathfinder as a race book. Want to play a 20 ft tall transforming mecha in any D20 based game? Want to build a Decepticon and step on Hobbits (names filed off in both cases)? Want to play a futuristic red sports car that transforms into a robotic Midwife in Otherverse America, or a bullet train samurai in Black Tokyo, or an asteroid mining pod that becomes  a smuggler bot in Heavy Future? Of course you fucking do.

Right now I'm about half way done with the Battlechangers: Ironworks draft, and it's coming together pretty well. Mechanically, its much different than Battlechangers, due to the dramatic differences in system, but it retains all the flavor. It's pretty unbalanced, but not quite as unreasonable as I feared it would be. Battlechangers are definitely a powerful race in PFRPG terms, far superior to the average Elf or Dwarf PC when the game begins, but the power-scale differnces aren't as obscene as I first thought they would be.

Most of the mechanics are in place, so if anybody wants to playtest Battlechangers: Ironworks, contact me for a rough draft copy. I'll try to get back to you ASAP.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

That's....Unusual....But Awesome

I logged onto RPGnow today,y  and I noticed that one of my older works, D7ACU: The Scion of Masada was, initially the top small press seller. By the time I'd cashed out some royalties and posted a review (of Little Red Goblin's excellent Racial Guide 4), it had become the number one seller overall!

Holy shit!

I wrote Scion of Masada in 2007 or 2008, as part of my urban fantasy/supers Dept 7 Advanced Class Update line, well before I started building my own campaign worlds. I'm still proud of it, as it was a sound class mechanically, one that still holds up 5+ years later, and it had a ton of flavor. The class was basically a knife-fighting MOSSAD badass, and probably my proudest moment was when a fellow game designer, who himself was an Orthodox Jew, praised it, and said he enjoyed it. He felt it was a respectful and fun, action-movie style take on his heritage.

Anyway, years and years late, Scion of Masada is number one again. I didn't expect that, but sweet!
If you liked Scion, check out some of my other D7ACU stuff, it'll definitely make Mark Cathro happy.I recommend the Innocent, Neo-Witch Guardian, Perfect Archer, and Macromorph; those are the best of the lot, I think. The Sentai Spectrum Ranger was pretty strong, but the follow on expansions I did, Sentai Strike and Sentai Sequel were better.

Also check out my newer stuff, especially Black Bestiary, if you need horrible monsters for your Scion of Masada to carve up with his daggers.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Semi-Play Testers Wanted: Feats for Black Tokyo

Well, first I'll put out an update of what I expect to be working on throughout the first months of 2015.

Last month, John Picot sent me several ideas for an Idol Singer-centric soucebook for Black Tokyo. These ideas morphed into a more general sourcebook about life in Akihabara, Tokyo's central entertainment and shopping district. As soon as I gather up all the needed art,  expect a 100 pager sourcebook that combines location-book, character-options book and mini-bestiary into one very fun whole entitled Black Tokyo: Electric Town.

Also, I'm about 80% done with the writing on a sourcebook expanding on the Ukemochi Ranch- the cannibal cattle ranch detailed in Black Tokyo Unlimited and elaborated on via a few of the monsters in Black Bestiary. This one will delve pretty deeply into the squicky world of cannibal fetish and gynophagia, and is strange and creepy enough it's been very fun to write. Expect some utterly baddass new monsters too. This one will probably be titled Black Tokyo: Cannibal Japan.

On a slightly less positive note, I'm pretty much abandoning active support for the Psi-Watch Campaign Setting. I hardly ever do anything with the world these days, and prefer to direct my time and art budget to my other worlds. I've had a pretty solid race book, revised using Dreamscarred Press' Ultimate Psionics ruleset since last year, but I haven't been able to release it. This race book, entitled Black Operators, will likely be the last support for Psi-Watch.

So, About That Playtesting....
As I was working on the two Black Tokyo campaign guides, I realized I needed to modernize and expand on the feats available in the campagin setting. Basically I want to for the setting's feats what I did for its technology as I did with the Advanced Tech series.

As I was writing the statblcoks for Black Bestiary I realized that some of the feats could stand a bit more revision. Some, like Super Kawaii, were just too good. If you had a decent CHA modifier and were going to fight lightly armored, there was no reason NOT to take that feat. It's still kinda over powered, because I don't want to invalidate Black Bestiary, but I did clarify how the feat worked, utilizing the Near Nudity armor mechanic I introduced in The Advanced Armory. 

Others were just too weak. Moon Wise and its follow-on feats sucked, with  too many prerequisites for what they offered. Those will get revised upward a bit, in hopes of making them a bit more common to my monsters. Other feats got reflavored a bit to match the flavor text. The Wombscrape now requires an evil alignment, because what hero could ever justify using THAT particularly nasty power in battle? Conversely Innocence Restored now requires a good alignment.

Finally, some combat-oriented feats that technically weren't Combat feats, like Womanly Suffocation, get that tag, in hopes that more Fighters take them.

So do me a favor. If you've ever had questions or concerns about any of the feats, now's the time to address 'em. Send me your criticisms and suggestions at

You'll get playtester credit if you want it and a chance to influence a rather unique setting.