Monday, October 12, 2015

Players wanted- daytime game, Thursdays.

I'd like to playtest some of the Cosmonaut/Age of Lead stuff. My tenative plan is for four players; I already have one, so three spots remain. We'd play 6-8 sessions, over skype starting at 10:00 am Mountain Time. Each session would last between 2- 2 1/2 hours. Particulars of class choice and whatnot can wait until a group is assembled. Ideally, I would like to start this Thursday or the next. Please send me a mail at themetalearth at gmail dot com if you are interested.

Just to head off potential questions: I am not interested in google plus hangouts, in the least. Social media sites are not my bag, man.



Friday, August 14, 2015

Cosmic Universe Creation 4

Part 3

Part 4

More on Note-maps and Timelines.

When I edit this into a final document, the instructions will be more seamless; as it stands, however, after a period of reflection, I feel like the previous entry was more or less this:



Let's fix that by:






Answer the question:

What goes on the map?


In supers, anything goes. Unused campaign settings for other games make ideal alien worlds- regardless of genre. High fantasy; dinosaur planets; post apocalyptic science fantasy; giant robots; giant monsters; space monsters; worlds or whole sectors of space like the Old West or ancient China; Cthulu or whatever else you can think of, it can almost certainly be encompassed within the boundaries of your superhero universe with little or no trouble.

Make a list of what you want on the map.

Possible entries.

Duplicate Earth

Arena World

Artifact (planet sized or larger)

Robot planet

Center of the universe

God world

Inimical alien empire(s)

A breach in space-time leading to ?

Space storm

Prison planet

Pirate worlds

Demon world

Living planet

Dead worlds, destroyed by war, disaster or time

Fingerprints of the ancients


Important: A complete inventory of planets and sundry is not required to begin making the map/working on the timeline (Steps 3-?). You can mark down a few planets and then let your ideas cook for a few days before adding more. Further, this is a good time to work on the timeline, and think about any gods or natural forces that might be tied in with the fabric and history of space-time. Dig?

Today's example is a map of Drift Sector, a volume of space nested within the larger Earth? Universe map shown in part three of this series.



What goes on the timeline?


Birth of the universe

Origin of the space gods

Origin of space monster

Birth, rise and fall of great empires

The rise of super powers on earth

Humans go into space

Crisis events

Galactic and or terrestrial wars

Alien invasions

Formation of important groups


Below: a sample timeline: I find it helpful to put early events at the top and and move forward in time as I go down the page.



Lay out the map.

Note- the creator should feel free to modify any and all of this from materials to paper size to format.

For this map, we're going to use a sheet of standard printer paper in landscape orientation.


Make borders of 1 inch at the top and bottom of the page, and 1 1/2 inch on either side. Within this frame, thinking about the worlds you want in your setting, lightly draw in some circles and other shapes to represent the planets and such. Name stuff. Think about the inhabitants and the heroes and villains associated with the sector and its planets. Take notes on the side. If you are short on ideas, look at the list in step one- or read the homework.


Add some detail to the planets and other objects. A few lines here and there make a big difference. Be expressive!


Write a few words about each of the map's features in the margins. You need not be comprehensive. For instance, in the example below, I have yet to key the eight moons of Dominion; I am still mulling over their exact nature.


The map is perfectly servicable as it is, but you may wish to add Ink and color. I colored mine with the ipad app, Art Studio. I also cleaned up the text and added some campaign ideas I had while working on the map.


Okay, now it is your turn. Make a map.

Reading suggestions:

The Mighty Thor 131-133, Thor's first true foray into deep space.

Tom Strong 11-12, a great story featuring a "counter" earth.

Next time a world map, and some NPCs, or such is the plan.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

[Maps] BX Cosmonaut Expanded Preview

I am adding a second class, Cosmonaut Esper; a starting adventure which links into to a weird wilderness, which in turn links into Equitorial Empire Province: Karakul (map on your right, follow the tags from there). The EE/ Age of Lead stuff was originally concieved as a setting for cosmonaut nonsense and I may include an introductory Age of Lead appendix as well.

Here are some maps:

I don't wish to give too much away, but one major challenge of the minisetting is finding a way past the Barrier



Making Maps 1, Making Mountains

I have too many projects going on; here is a by product of the expanded B/X cosmonaut, which I worked on over the weekend. I promised to do some posts on stuff like this long long long ago, but never did...


Anyway, mountains (you get a bigger image if you open it in a separate tab):



Saturday, August 1, 2015

Age Of Lead: Sagoth (class) and Orkan (creature)






Hirsute and ape-like, the ab-human sagoth exist as the most populous and versatile folk in and around the lands controlled by the empire. Sagoth comprise a large part of the imperial legions (second only to skeletons) and the vast majority of the empire's farmers and artisans. Furthermore, large populations of sagoth barbarians live outside of the the empire's control.

Player characters are assumed to be imperial soldiers or outland barbarians.

RESTRICTIONS: Sagoth use a D10 to determine hit points. They may wear any armor and use any weapon. A character must have a 9 or higher constitution to become a sagoth.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Physically sturdy, sagoth add 1d4 to their final STRENGTH score. Sagoth relate to animals exceptionally well; at 3rd level a sagoth may charm animal as the spell, once per day. At 5th level the sagoth warrior gains a land mount, usually an orkan or a mammoth. At 8th level the warrior has the option to switch to an aerial mount, usually a war bat. Bat riders are held in high esteem, and are the closest a member of the sagoth class can really come to the aristocracy.

Progression and saving throw: as dwarf.




AC: 3 (15); HD: 15; MOVE: 120' (40'); ATTACKS: bite or trample; DAMAGE: 3d6/ 4d8;


These huge, surly beasts serve as mounts for the imperial light calvary. Notorious for their short tempers and hateful disposition, orkan prefer to trample medium sized and smaller opponents.

If an orkan fails a moral check during combat, it will turn on its rider.





Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cosmic Supers Setting Part 3



Part One

Part Two


Part Three

The One Page approach:

This method of campaign construction is focused on creating something playable and rich, without cutting corners, but also without engaging in unnecessary labor. To that end, everything we make will be easily usable at the table. What then are we going to make? Primarily: timelines, note-maps, NPCs, and fact sheets (detailing adventures, artifacts, aliens, institutions and other disparate elements of play) - all of which will be scaled in such a way that everything necessary to game play will be contained on one page in each instance.

In cases where the subject matter is too broad to cover on one page, it can be broken into smaller components of a size more appropriate for one page. However, an overview page is often helpful, with component pages nested inside it, like Russian dolls. Maps provide an easy example; starting from the top down, I might make a map of the galaxy; a map of one of the planets in the galaxy; a map of a region of that world; a city in that region; and then down to a building within that city. At each level of scale I should be able to provide all the information necessary to use the map in play on one page.

Step One: Note-Maps

After, as we discussed in the previous entry, acquiring a hazy sense of your game universe's history and current (at the start of the campaign) state, it is time to begin to make something solid and playable. We will start with a note-map (see below for an example). Knowing about the theatre of action will give insight as to the sort of things that exist and go on in the universe. Below is the cosmic scale map I have worked up for my own universe "Earth ?" A cosmic scale map is almost more of an ideational diagram than a true map. The purpose is to throw down as many ideas as you can and scatter them through space; again consider the example.

As you generate your map, it may be helpful to work up a basic timeline as well. Each should provide ideas for the other.

The referee's skill as a cartographer is of absolutely no importance. Abstract scribbles will serve just as well as lovingly created color follies.

A word about fictional cities and the real world status quo. Fictional cities are one of the often derided elements of superhero comics. However, properly used wholly imaginary cities solidify and individualize the game world as well as the place of the PCs within it. For example, Gotham city is linked with Batman forever and always, regardless of context. NYC is linked with expensive cigarettes, Broadway shows and pizza. Further, do not fall into the trap of allowing your imagination to be constrained by real world geography, politics, or technology. The constraints of editorial mandate and long form story telling keep Reed Richards from changing the world; your PCs need not suffer under the same restrictions.

A rough map of the Earth? Universe.
A finished version of the same map. It is argualbly prettier, but no more useful. Maps like this can be made with basic materials such as pencil, paper and/or with virtually any media you like ranging from crayons to photoshop.


As stated and hopefully demonstrated above, these maps don't require any special skills or gear to make. If you can do circles and boxes, you can do one of these. However, some materials that might help:

Circle template

Designer pens- I use micron; get a variety of point sizes. I suggest .5; .3 and .1


White plastic earaser- there is no substitute.

Whatever else strikes your fancy, really.


Homework: Read either Crisis of the Infinite Earths #7 for a specific example of supers universe history (likely at your library as part of a larger collection or comixology) and/or Fantastic Four 74-77 (on Marvel Unlimited/comixology) for a unique view of the Marvel Universe at many different levels, and an expansion (or contraction?) of the setting within setting nesting concept mentioned above.

Next time: a nested map or two, and time line creation steps/examples.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My other blog

I have a second blog the topic of which is my struggle to not be such a shit artist- and motherfuckers, let me tell you, it is a fucking struggle. Comments are open over there, mostly in hopes of eventually getting some input and critique.


Cosmic Tales: a blog about Failure.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Age of Lead, classes so far, Illustrated.

I still have three left to illustrate, and. I am conflicted as to whether or not to add in some combat tricks, like disarm, formated like the forager's skills, for the skeleton. Or maybe give the martial classes the ability to move around bonuses to AC or to hit depending on what they want to focus on from round to round. However, I want to keep the skeleton dead simple (see what I did there?) for players who don't want to fuck with a lot of options.

Also, in AoL, class is caste is race.

I will reskin the dwarf as either frankenstein monster guys or cave men- email me if you have a strong opinon.

Also email me if you want this as a .pdf.





Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Age of Lead: RAT [class]


RAT: (Master, Professor, Doctor) Outside the royal family, rats officially occupy the highest caste niche. They see themselves as the best imperial society has to offer. Members of the leech caste see it differently, however. Rats run the empire as scholars, wizards, ministers, magistrates and bureaucrats. Status within rat circles is based on seniority. Rats are notorious snobs.

Thick furred, 2-2.5 meter tall rodents, trained in magic nearly since birth, rats serve as the ministers and functionaries of the empire. Rats also have near universal obsession with astronomy, and refer to the discipline as the secret science. Despite the near continual overcast, rat astronomers track every object in the heavens. All imperial rats belong to one

of thirty clans. The clans are in constant conflict with one another.

The rat's prime requisite is intelligence. A score of 13 or above results in a 10% bonus to earned experience.

RESTRICTIONS: Rats use 1d8 to determine hit points. They may not wear any sort of armor, and may only carry a quarter-staff as a weapon.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Rats are spell-casters. As they gain levels they attain access to more and more powerful spells. The rat inscribes these incantations upon his staff in a personal secret language.

WEIRD: All rats are born as twins. One twin is slain out of hand and preserved in jar. The jar and its contents represent the living twin’s most prized possession. Many rats speak to their twin as a confidant while alone. Further, on nights of the full moon rats may communicate over long distances with one another by speaking through their twins.





Sunday, July 5, 2015

[MAP] Age of Lead, campaign area, version one.

Lots of composition issues here. I need to redraw, obviosly. The idea is to make something for both AoL and B/X Cosmonaut. SHED is the PC base town.



Friday, July 3, 2015

[Age of Lead]: Forager [class]




Sentient trilobite-like creatures, possibly of extraterrestrial origin, foragers live between the cracks and gaps of proper imperial society. Foragers lack imperial citizenship status; as a result they may be abused- even killed out of hand, by members of the aristocratic classes. Despite their lowly status, and barring the odd case of casual murder, adult foragers are largely tolerated within imperial holdings.


Juvenile foragers are called mites, and considered vermin by everyone, including adults of the species. A forager gains its full size and reaches sentience at about 10 years of age; an adult forager stands (on it’s rear legs, the number of which varies) at about 1.5 meters. Foragers do not care for their young; most do not survive to adulthood. Foragers can live up to 50 years. Adult foragers occupy the bottom rung of imperial society and often make their living cleaning sewers, handeling the dead and crime.


A forager’s prime requisite is dexterity; a minimum score of 9 is required; a score of 13 or greater results in a 10% bonus to all earned experience.


RESTRICTIONS: foragers use a 4-sided dice for hit points. It is possible they could wear armor, but nobody makes any for them. The forager’s natural AC is 5(14). Foragers produce speech by vibrating their antenna-horns. Foragers may use any weapon.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Foragers receive a +4 to hit and DOUBLE rolled DAMAGE when they strike an unaware opponent from behind. Foragers can CLIMB most surfaces regardless of angle without difficulty. SECOND HEART: Foragers are very difficult to kill. When a forager reaches 0 hit points for the first time, its second heart activates, resulting in a healing surge of 1d4+2 hit points. This ability resets after the forager has had time to heal ALL damage. Second heart hit points heal at 1/2 the rate of normal hit points. If the character reaches 0 HP before this healing is complete, death is the result.



At first level the forager may CREEP; SPOT; STEAL; JIMMY (See Below) on a roll of a 1-2 on a D6.

With each level attained, until 10th level, the forager may increase the chance for success of any one skill by +1. When the forager reaches 10th level the referee should create new, campaign specific skills for the forager.


CREEP: Move silent; hide; spy.

SPOT: Find; detect; observe.

STEAL: Shoplift; pick pockets; cheat.

JIMMY: Pick; breach; hot wire; rig.


WEIRD: Foragers are asexual and reproduce by dying. Mites gestate inside the forager throughout its adult life. The forager’s demise triggers the rapid completion of this process. Four to five days after death, hundreds of mites will eat their way out of the forager’s corpse. It’s rather unseemly.



SAVE: as dwarf



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

State of the Empire and the leech (class)

I have gotten quite a few questions about this stuff, especially considering comments are off. In order to avoid discouraging interest I will share a little as I go along. The art is all placeholder shit, at this point, so be kind.

I can be reached at themetalearthATgmailDOTcom. You must of course, replace the caps with the appropriate powerglyphs.

Data-Map of Karkul, province of Empire

Below, Outpost 17


Everything is broken and dirty, but somehow things keep moving along. Most machines are patched and repaired, often with parts from other machines. Structures and fortifications exist more as products of accretion, modification and erosion than architecture. Everything is old, drafty and haunted. The feeling on the mainland is that the real empire has shifted to the deepwater islands and beneath the sea. Almost all inland settlements have been abandoned. Beast and worse overrun the food-caves. A few coastal settlements remain, but are squalid and under populated. The movements of citizens, even aristocrats, are restricted or the coast would be empty too. Endemic corruption and shortage remain facts of life. Loyalty to the Emperor is always in question. You are being watched. On clear nights you can see the Wurm.

Winter is coming.



LEECH: (Princess, Prince) Officially the Emperor’s personal slaves, leeches have managed transform thralldom to power in the millennia since their subjugation. Leeches are the healers of the empire; everyone living requires their service. Nobody, aside from the leeches, perhaps, is very happy about it, though. Unlike yeti, leeches may move from place to place unimpeded- although they must carry papers like everyone else. Leeches view each other as social equals. Many are known to extend this courtesy to commoners, seemingly unaware of, or too polite to acknowledge, the superstitious hate often given in return.

Leeches are slight, pale white-green skinned, humanoids schooled in blood magic. Leeches are not quite undead, nor are they completely alive; they exist in a liminal state known as half-death. According to rumor, a leech’s heart beats but once an hour and they are said to be without feelings. The former is true, or mostly so; the latter is a slur. Leeches exist in the present as vestiges of a vanished pre-imperial culture. Due to their healing abilities and power over the undead, leeches occupy an important niche in imperial society. As a group they are both revered and despised.

The leech's prime requisite is intelligence; a minimum of 9 is required; a score above 13 result in a 10% bonus to all earned experience points.

RESTRICTIONS: The leech uses a d6 for hit points. A leech must feed upon blood to draw upon his powers (eg, spell casting, turning the undead) and to survive. Each keeps what might best be described as a small external organ, or tumor, known as a kaul, upon which he must feed once a day to maintain access to spells and other special-abilities. The leech must feed once weekly (more or less) to retain its half-dead status. Failure to take a bloodmeal for ten consecutive days will drive the leach into a full dead state until he is force fed the fresh lifeblood of a living beast. Leeches may use any weapon and wear any armor. However, the spilling of blood is considered to be unseemly by most; as such, they tend to reserve the use of edged weapons for duels, and use blunt or energy -weapons in most other circumstances. This is not a hard restriction, merely a societal norm, violation of which will not go without notice or remark, however. Leeches must cover their skin out of doors in the daytime, and traditionally wear a moon mask while in the company of others, day or night. During the day they suffer 1pt of damage/turn if caught outside (even when it is overcast; which, indecently, is always). Once inside, the leech heals all damage so incurred at a rate of 1hp/round.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: The leech exists at the threshold of life and death, and draws energy from the necrosphere, whilst feeding from his kaul and gains spell-casting ability and power over the earthly dead as a result. The leech has access to cleric spells and turns the undead as a cleric of equal level (X5,X7). At 5th level the leech no longer has to carry his kaul; it levitates beside him.

Below: kaul, owner unknown.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Grim Danger in a Lost World

Jongor of Lost World

I fucking love Whenever I am kind of bored, I start poking around and really it is an embarrassment of riches. Here is today's winner- an ERB pastiche from 1940. It has all the problematic social elements you would expect for this kind of story from this time. There were two sequels written but, I can't find them on Archive. They are avaialble for the kindle, however.

As far as gaming goes, I'm pretty sure whoever wrote HEX, drew heavily from this story.

Anyway, check out that crazy dinothing.



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

[Map] Karakul Province

For the thing, which I am calling Age of Lead.

I am about done with the player text, and have a number of images done. Everything that has come before here, exists now as an idea farm, so some things may be familiar, but I assure you the final product is like nothing you have seen before. I could probably release next week, but I have ideas, see, and I may go all summer.

Here is the inkiest map you likely to see this morning. Comments are closed, but shoot me a mail if you have something to say.





Monday, May 4, 2015

B/X Cosmonaut.pdf and what is next...

I had hoped to get this out a bit earlier, but whatever:

B/X Cosmonaut

Feedback would be nice, but don't get worked up about it.



And this will probabaly happen next.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Return, armageddon and B/X Cosmonaut.

Next Monday, I will release B/X Cosmonaut, a free, fully illustrated (B&W) pdf. Don't get too excited, it's only five pages long (but it is done). At that time, I will also make a fresh start and delete all prior posts, including this one. If there is something you would like, grab it now, the end is upon us.

In the meantime here is a preview:


Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Planet Eaters Pg 13

You can look at the whole thing here.


And a character design I did this morning.



Friday, January 9, 2015

[sketch] Anti-sun in the Sea of Venus


I have been doing a lot of timed figure drawing lately and taking some critique as well. I got slammed for the way I ink stuff, which got me thinking about everything differently, anyway this is probably the best figure I've done to date.

Making comics is fun but extemely time consuming and exhausting. All my spare time is going in to keeping my buffer ready and practice. I can't say when I'll get back to gaming posts.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Cosmic Tales Update

Happy New Year!

My resolution for 2015 is to make a graphic novel thing- to that end:

Page 7


Feel free to comment here.

And a banner.