Aug 12, 2022

Arson Roach

Arson Roach
Small Beast, Neutral, Underdark
No. Appearing: 3d4+1 (3d6+1)
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2+2 (10hp)
Move: 30’ (60’)
Attacks: 1 bite or special
Damage: 1d4+1 slashing
Save: 14
Morale: 6
Treasure Type: Nil
Intelligence: 1
XP Value: 25
  • Radiate Heat: up to 3 times per encounter. Opponents within 15’ must Save or take 1d4 Fire damage.
  • Burning Gore: when killed body explodes 20’ radius, Save vs. Breath or take 1d4 Fire damage.
  • Resistance: Fire
  • Vulnerability: Cold

Arson roaches are dog sized creeping crawlies with flaming hot internal organs. They can spew out liquid fire and are nearly impervious to heat. They also spread disease and pestilence. 

Aug 8, 2022

Rakshasa Beast

Rakshasa Beast
Medium Beast, Chaotic, Extra Planar

No. Appearing: 1d4 (1d4)
Armor Class: 16 (Natural Armor)
Hit Dice: 7 (28 hp)
Move: 120’ (40’)
Attacks: 1 bite or 2 claws
Damage: 1d8+1 piercing, 1d6+1 slashing
Save: 11
Morale: 9
Treasure Type: C
Intelligence: 6
XP Value: 750

  • Savage: once per encounter can go into savage mode for 1d4 rounds, +2 attack and damage, -4 AC. Will be fatigued for 1d4+1 rounds after.
  • Illusions: can appear as a less threatening form such as a harmless housecat, the illusion dissapates in combat.
  • Immune: non-magical weapons.
  • Resistance: weapons less than +3.
  • Regenerate: recovers 3hp per round.
  • Limited Magic Resistance: has +4 on saving throws against spells and magical effects.

Certain conditions can cause a rakshasa to go feral and turn into a wild uncontrollable beast. They forget their civilized nature and revert to pure animal form.

A rakshasa is a human-feline hybrid, fearsome and hardy in stature. They have fangs, claw-like fingernails, and fierce malevolent eyes. Their features often resemble a tiger or other fierce feline beasts. They give a bestial growl and are known to consume the flesh of their prey they particularly enjoyed hunting.

Originally rakshasa are evil spirits in mortal flesh, who escaped the infernal realms into the material world long ago. Many of them become high ranking royalty by using their powers of illusion. Some go mad and become Rakshasa Beasts.

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This is the beginning of a series on creating monsters with AI. The images are created using Midjourney and other AI image manipulation tools, and a bit of retouches in Photoshop. The descriptions are then written up.

Aug 3, 2022

Warduke Wednesday


Cool Warduke fan art by Tone Rodriguez

Aug 2, 2022

Artificial Intelligence Art


Recent Artificial Intelligence image making tools have hit the art community like a flaming meteor crashing into our world. Previous programs were interesting gimmicky little toys, but the new crop of AI art creators have become mind-blowingly good.

For those of us who make a living as illustrators it is somewhat alarming. Will art directors be able to just generate the art they need by typing in a few keywords into a program? Well, not yet, but it is clear that this technology is going to have a huge impact. Like all technologies this is only the beginning, in a decade or two artists may become more curators than creators. Meaning they will use AI to draw hundreds of images, directing the process, and choosing the best images for a project rather than actually drawing and painting.

There was a time that artists who worked digitally in programs like Photoshop were accused of "just pushing buttons and the program creates the art" but nothing was further from the truth. It still took a lot of skill and craft to create illustrations digitally. Years of practicing learning how to draw anatomy, composition, design, etc. went into digital image making. These AI tools however may actually live up to that accusation.

It isn't hard to imagine that this will gobble up the art market from the bottom up. Clip art and beginning artists will be replaced, then mid-tier artists (like myself) will feel the competition, finally as the technology matures it will be able to create masterpieces with full control from the user. Already it is impressive.

I've used it to help complete the art for Saints, Gods, & Relics. And I'm using it for the next Beasties monster book I had already mostly written, but was just waiting to draw the creatures, then in just a couple of days I was able to use AI to create dozens of stunning (and disturbing) monsters and characters to fully illustrate the book (which I'll be previewing here soon). It still required my skill as an artist to do post-processing, clean up weird artifacts, and fix things. But the results I think are quite amazing.

I believe over the coming months we are going to see a virtual flood of AI images filling the pages of independent tabletop games.

Aug 1, 2022

More Options for Clerics

 The cleric is one of the most interesting additions to the original edition of DnD.

In many ways the militant holy man is a bit of an odd fit among the general swords & sorcery genre that informed the early development of the game. There is really nothing quite like it among the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, JRR Tolkien and so on. Even CS Lewis doesn't have anything resembling the Cleric anywhere in the Chronicles of Narnia.

We have to dig back into history and lore to find warrior monks. Friar Tuck, the orders of Knighthood like the Templars, and further back perhaps to Old Testament times with some of the Judges of Israel. The most likely inspiration was Dr. Van Helsing, particularly as he was portrayed in the Hammer Horror films that Gygax and Arneson enjoyed so much.

While you could argue that the entire booklet Gods, Demigods, & Heroes is specifically for the Cleric, the class itself is a bit neglected in the early Little Brown Books. The Monastic Knights class treatment I made a while back was an attempt to fill that gap. Though with that class my intention was to revise the cleric from less of a priest and more into a holy warrior. A niche between clerics and paladins. A less restrictive paladin if you will. 

I was having this conversation with David Pulver about the cleric and he mentioned he had written an entire treatment for the Cleric for his homebrew campaign. I was immediately intrigued and we soon agreed to publish it as an OD&D supplement. That was two years ago.

This project has been sitting on my backburner that long. I'd pull it out dabble with it, work on layout, and sketch some art, then put it back. I'm sure David was wondering if it would ever get made. Well, that time has come. It is a book that fleshes out the cleric class without breaking game balance. We'd joked that we could call it Old School Religion, OSR if you will, but ultimately Saints, Gods, & Relics was a more fitting title.

The book is now available in PDF & Print, and as a bundle.