Showing posts from February, 2011

Bingham Family Artistic Collaborations

As you may have noticed, my family highly thrives on creative energy. We don't watch TV or play video games so we spend much of our time reading books (to eachother), playing games and working on creative projects (and getting out and about when the weather is nice - many colds and flu as well as inclement weather have slowed us down a bit this year). At any rate, this has been a very productive winter as far as the creative scene goes. My wife Daisey has really begun to hit her strde on her blog, showing off some of her creatvie endeavors as well as family collaborations. This blog post by her really does a good job at showing off her creative side and comparing and contrasting both of our creative endeavors. We have more collaborative work coming up in the near future. I've mentioned the Kid Monster project in which I do the pencil and ink work and she does the color. I'll get my son Bear (6) and daughter Rosa (3) involved in actually coming up with the monster i

On Petty Gods

James over at Grognardia has posted the cover art for his upcoming Petty Gods release . I'm pretty stoked about that cover. I'm even more honored to have three of my petty gods included (writeup and art). This should be a VERY cool addition to the body of work being put out by folks out there in the gaming community. My, we are a creative bunch aren't we? I do have several more Petty Gods that I with held from submission because they are going to be part of the campaign setting I'm working on (and yes, I picking away at it bits at a time - all the various things like the Sea of O'sr Maps, Basalt Keep of Wilven the Yellow, Warrens of Polstrus Lev, alternate magic systems, weekly creature feature, etc. are part of that picture).

Looking Back: People of the Pit an OSRIC/1e Adventure

One of the projects that I am really proud of but felt that never really got much attention is People of the Pit, an OSRIC Adventure published by Brave Halfling. This was back before Swords and Wizardry and OSRIC was pretty much the king of the clones and Labyrinth Lord was just getting started. I really loved the atomospheric creepiness that Alphonso Warden brings to the adventure and it sure was a heck of a lot of fun to illustrate. I just read a review of it today at Dragonsfoot and was glad to see it getting some much overdue attention. I am glad that John Adams of Brave Halfling Publishing is going to be releasing a Labyrinth Lord version this summer. Here's a look at some of the art I did for this module. Oh yeah, time to interject some crass commercialism here, you can still get the OSRIC version from Lulu here . I don't make any money on further sales, but I'd like to spread the word on this one and see it get a bit more exposure. And for the curious, I act

Back Cover Work

Here's the Back Cover work for the upcoming Expeditious Retreat Press Advanced Adventure Module: The Secret of Callair Hills: Read Joe Browning's blog post here . I did some preparatory scans at a couple of points during the process with the intent of making a blog post on how I do my work. Look for that soon.

Cover Work

I'm primarily a B&W artist so I don't get a chance to do much cover work. I can do color, but I'll admit I'm not too adept at it. However, I've been teaming up with my wife Daisey (an incredible skilled artist in her own right) to bring a bit of color to my work. I'm very excited about the results. Here's one we've done for the cover of one of the latest Advanced Adventures by Expeditious Retreat Press You can also check it out at Joe Browning's blog here. Very cool!

Artistic Inspirations

CKutalik over at Hill Cantons and Steven Poag have raised some interesting discussion about art in the OSR. As an artist, of course such discussions are of great interest to me. When I was growing up I LOVED comics and my most fervent dream was to be a comic book artist (a desire that I think that has never really left me except for the fact that doing sequential art is very time consuming and laborious). In High School and College, I was an art student and I broadened my scope quite a bit as far as art interests. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I really admire RPG and Comic artists that break the traditional or expected norms of the genre and strike out on their own. Ultimately, I hope to leave an impression with my work that is beyond the typical fantasy fare (which I feel that I have not yet attained but I’m working on it). I have a ton of artists that inspire me and keep me striving to better my work. My personal favorites in comics are guys like Mike Mignola ,

Question about game licensing

I've primarily been a contributor to other people's projects up to this point and I haven't reallye paid much attention to the minutae of product licensing. Whatever I have offered up to this point has been under the Open Game License and that has tended to suit my needs. However, I have a few ideas for game supplements that while I don't want to make the whole work open, I do want to make it availiable for derivative works. I'm aware of the Creative Commons Share and Share Alike and that really seems like it would suit my needs. However, what I have in mind is essentially a derivative of the Labyrinth Lord Rule Set which is itself under the Open Game License. So, for instance, if I wanted to come up with a fantastic location and release it as a common idea for people to create derivative works from but not directly take my work whole cloth and use it for their own commercial projects, what is the best way to proceed? I like how the Cthulhu mythos authors had

Reflections on Gaming as a Kid: Then vs. Now

Yesterday I posted about changing the rules to suit my game needs, which got me to thinking about how we played the game when I was a kid. As I mentioned, AD&D was our game of choice but we actually played it more like B/X D&D with the expanded classes of 1e. We tended to ignore rules that slowed things down for us like weapon vs. armor, etc. However, on an interesting note, while we did ignore rules, it was almost taboo (to our 11 and 12 year old brains) to actually CREATE new rules. I know that is part and parcel to what Old School gaming is about, and I’m not saying that we didn’t do it at all, but it was much more akin to amending the Constitution of the United States to create a new rule than to simply ignore a standing one. Even for very cosmetic things like spell names, we considered changes very gravely before we instituted them. For instance, we would never have thought about renaming Tenser’s Floating Disk, but we didn’t think anything about ignoring the materia

Old School: How Do you Roll?

I have ever so slowly been reading through Elric! By Chaosium as well as Mongoose’s take on Elric (the first edition) and beginning to realize that the game I actually WANT to be playing is B/X D&D with the AD&D aesthetic and a 0e LBB class simplicity with some bits of Elric/Stormbringer and Call of Cthulhu thrown in as well as some of the magic from Palladium Fantasy Second edition. I really started thinking about this after reading Beedo’s blog post over at Dreams in the Lich House regarding emulation vs. D&D. I think I’ve ALWAYS twisted D&D to suit my gaming needs of the time. Sure, I’ve played some straight up dungeon crawls, but really, what I want is to emulate stories like the Elric saga, but with all of the skills in Stombringer/Elric. I like the simplicity that the core B/X D&D brings to the table for stats, combat, armor class, etc. but I don’t like being restricted to Vancian magic. I love the aesthetic of 1e AD&D, but there are too many fiddly

Weekly Creature Feature: Deadman's Chest

This week, I've got another collaboration with my six year old son Bear.  I'm particularly impressed ith the imagination on this one.  Bear has been reading my comics and apparently felt inspired by my Infinity Gauntlet collection.  He drew this one up this morning and told me how the zombies was essentially bossed around by the ghost in the treasure chest.  As per usual, I take his idea and put game statistics to it to come up with a collaborative effort.  At any rate, the Deadman's Chest is an interesting two part composite undead that combines the features of both a wrath and a zombie.  As per all of the Weekly Creature Features, the entirity of the entry excluding the art is Open Game Content.  The artwork is done by my son Bear and is property of Johnathan abd Bear Bingham and may not be used without permission.  Without further ado, I bring you the Deadman's Chest. Name: Deadman’s Chest No. Enc: 1 Alignment: Chaotic Movement: 120’ (40’) Armor Class:

Non Gaming post: Rememberance, Reflections, and other Randomness

Well, most of my posts are tangentially related to gaming, but this one isn't (or maybe it is, we'll see where it goes).  I finally am starting to get over the flu and am feeling better.  It is nice especially because the weather here in northern Italy is starting the drift towards Spring and there have been some truly glorious days.  I spent yesterday cleaning the grills and then preparing a huge feast of pork ribs, pork cutlets with Vezzena cheese and porchetta, scallops in melted butter, shrimp in garlic butter, sausage, baked radicchio with gorgonzola and marscapone cheese, beans, pollenta, and steamed broccoli.  I absolutely LOVE Spring and having folks over for some good food and conversation while the kids play outside.  It really makes me feel like a kid again.  Speaking of which, one of my high school friends found a picture of us back in our high school days.  I'm the skater kid in the middle with the Sex Pistols patch on my jacket wearing a Vision Street Wear s

Weekly Creature Feature: The Black Dog

This week's creature feature is once again inspired by folklore and legend.  There are many, many instances and reports of the Black Dog from around the world.  Often tied to a location or family, the Black Dog is often (but not always) an ill omen and portends bad luck or worse to befall those who encounter it.  Those familiar with stories such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes tale The Hound of the Baskervilles  will be familiar with the legend.  Also a decent reference can be found here .  As per all the Weekly Creature Features, the below text is designated Open Game Content per the OGL version 1.0a.  Any accompanying illustrations are not Open Game Conent and are sole property of me (Johnathan L Bingham) and may not be used without permission. Name:    Black Dog No. Enc:   1 Alignment:   Neutral Movement:    120’ (40’) Armor Class:   2 Hit Dice:   4 Attacks:   1 (touch, howl) Damage:   1d4 + special, special Save:   F3 Morale:   11 Hoard Class:   nil Descriptio

Scholarly Analysis of Old School Gaming

Joe Browning posted a blog article about a scholarly analysis that was done on the Advanced Adventures Line and how it relates to nostalgia.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to read the article since my at home Internet connection is not working.  However, I think it is incredibly cool that something I contributed to in a small way was part of such an academic undertaking.  Hopefully, I'll be able to read the paper soon and see what was said.  Ah well, at any rate, I've got several pictures I'm illustrating for the Advanced Adventures line still on my drawing board so the fun continues! 

Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord

When I was younger, Wizardry, Bard's Tale and the Might and Magic series occupied quite a bit of my time (well, that is when I wasn't actively engaged in face to face RPGs).  At any rate, as I work through my first adventure with my son, I've been thinking a lot about these early CRPGs and the value of porting them to a Pen and Paper environment, or more precisely, stealing back elements of them to make the adventure a little more engaging for my six year old.  I was thinking about essentially creating a dungeon with wandering monsters and some key locations with a fairly static town where the party could leave the dungeon, resupply, etc and go back for the delve.  Much in the same vein of Wizardry.  I'll expand it out as he gets the basics of dungeon exploration such as finding traps (suspect everything is a trap!), crazy zones, weird encounters, etc.  It also makes it easier to replace dead/lost characters (remember the adventurer's inn in Wizardry 1?).  I'd b

This is just a test

My router bit the dust so I have limited connectivity for the next few days using my phone as a tether.  A, the wonders of the modern age.

Art in the OSR

An interesting discussion at Discourse and Dragons on the topic of Art and Ideology in the OSR: .   As a contributing artist to several OSR publications, I’d have to say that my art is not consciously or intentionally political.   The work I’ve done is not an in your face commentary against the big gaming companies.   Quite simply, I was raised on the aesthetic of not just OD&D, but medieval romance and fantasy imagery that was more grounded in real world traditions or has some verisimilitude.   So, that is just where my comfort zone is.   Draw what you know.   I think an interesting subdiscussion was developing in the comments in regards to the quality of the art in the OSR.   I’ve heard from time to time folks say that some of the production values are low.   Well, guess what, much of the OSR material is published by hobbyists for a small niche of enthusiasts.   I’m actually pretty impressed by the qua

Warrens of Polstrus Lev Maps

Here's some maps I'm doing for an introductory dungeon for my son Bear's character Lightning Bolt.  I've been battling a flu so I have not been nearly as active as I have wanted to be this past week.  I'm still in the process of keying the dungeon then I'll run Lightning Bolt and his party through the Warrens.  Feel free to use the maps if you so desire.  I'm designating then Open Game Content. Level 1 Level 2 Third Level

Sea of O'sr: Litenport Isle

So, I actually managed to come up with a submission that I'm fairly pleased with for the Sea of O'sr old school adventure path. Here's a link to my Litenport Isle: Litenport. This is really my first time doing something other than an illustration for mass consumption so I think of it as a precursor to my other larger projects like Basalt Keep of Wilven the Yellow. I managed to be fairly productive despite being rather sick with the flu. I cranked out a few illustrations today that I'm pretty happy with. I'll do a post at some point detailing my creative process so you can see the steps I go through from inception to finished product. Let me know what you think of Litenport Isle.

No new fairy tale to tell

Busy day and not much time to post. However, my wife showed off her mad costuming skills on her blog. Take a look at the fairy costumes she has created: . Alright, time to get back to the drawing board (and I mean that literally)!

Sea of O'sr Old School Gaming Adventure Path

It looks like there is a pretty good effort underway to create a “sand box” style adventure path for the OSR being worked concurrently by several different folks. This is a pretty exciting development and for me really embraces everything I love about the hobbyist game developers out there that are embracing the OSR. Go have a look at the Lands of Ara blog , Quickly, Quietly, Carefully , Telecanter’s Receding Rules , and the Grumpy Old Troll . Good stuff indeed! As for me, I’ve had an island map that I did up about a year ago and have not done anything with it. This gives me the perfect excuse to dust it off and get to work. Of course that just adds to the growing list of projects I’m working on (or wanting to at any rate). I think I qualify for the definition of Creative Compulsive that my wife came up with.

Weekly Creature Feature Six Mouthed Goo Monster

This week is a collaborative effort between myself and my Six year old son Bear. The Six Mouthed Goo Monster is the first in what I hope to be many such collaborations. I mean, who else other than a six year old can come up with such bizzare and I must say pretty horrific monsters? The way our collaborations work is that Bear will draw up a monster, name it and tell me what it does. I'll then ellaborate as needed to make it a bit more workable in game terms and then translate it into stats. For the Six Mouthed Goo Monster, the guidance was that it is a horrible goo creature with six mouths and makes a scary scream at people and can change colors and bite people. Ready made myhtos type creature right there. As with all my Weekly Creature Features, the Text is Open Gaming Content. The accompanying artwork is not open gaming conent and is the sole property of myself and my son and may not be used without my expressed written permission. Name: Six Mouthed Goo Monster No. Enc: 1-8

Old School Appeal

I know the folks in the OSR do what they do for sheer love of the game and not for money. That’s why I’m involved at any rate; the whole DIY ethic is really awesome. Having said that, does DIY mean that the OSR should eschew slick, commercial level production values? I know that I really love a lot of the aesthetic that is going on out there and I don’t mean to denigrate it, but I really want to know that if the production values are stepped up, does it detract from the overall appeal? James Raggi in a recent post which you can read here. In the last third, he addresses the topic and challenges OSR publishers to top him. I know that James Raggi has a tendency to raise people’s hackles, but I do have to admit that I don’t see anything wrong with folks rising to his challenge. I know there are some amateur folks out there that have some awesome talents and it’d be nice to see them being put to use doing things other than aping the conventions of the past. Now, having said th

Project Updates

Fairly busy on the project front today. I actually penciled and inked a whole cover illustration commission. Now it is time to hand the reigns over to Daisey for the color work. A straight forward illustration but I'm pretty satisfied with the work. Bear and I are going to work together on a series of monsters. I'm actually pretty excited about this. I think as an adult who has been around gaming, comics, movies, etc his whole life, it is easy to get jaded when it comes to monsters, adventure, and just down right fantasy. I'm so excited to get to relive the childhood experience vicariously through Bear. I tell you, these monsters and stories that he comes up with are really quite something. I'm looking forward to statting up the six mouthed goo monster. I mean, does it really get much better than that? At any rate, I anticipate statting up a few of Bear's critters and adding them to the weekly creature feature. Complete with Bear's illustrations! Th

It's A Family Tradition Part 2 or Portraits by the Artist as a Young Man

My six year old son Bear is SO excited about this blog. He wanted me to scan some of his art work in and share it with the world. I was working on a commission piece for Expeditious Retreat Press at the dining room table after I got off from work. My son grabbed several sheets of paper and a pencil and sat across from me. He knocked out several drawings while I was busy working on my preliminary sketches. He is quite the imaginative little guy. Here's some of his latest. Like father like son ;). This is a battle with a fire breathing purple worm. Note the flaming arrows in the worms neck. I think is very much inspired by the dragon battle scene in Willow as we watched that for the first time last Sunday. This is a map. Note the skull and crossbones. That denotes "skeleton land". The four corners are the four elements represented by a "monster of wetness", a "monster of goo", a "monster of wind", and a "monster of fire&quo

It is a family Tradition

For those of you who commented on the colored salamader art that I recently posted, I really must say that I'm in awe of my wife's artistic tallent. She is quite the artist in her own right. With a degree in costuming, she does everything from costume design to watercolor painting and photography. She recently set up her own blog, Creative Compulsive which you can check out here . I'm excited to be doing some further collaboration work with her on some upcoming projects!

Labyrinth Lord and Delving Deeper to be cross compatible

Dan Proctor of Goblinoid Games just posted that John Adams of Brave Halfling is working to make Delving Deeper cross compatible with Labyrinth Lord. This so called Rosetta Clone should go a long way to keeping the hobbyist developers out there from fragmenting and stabilizing the releases for multiple platforms. I'm really excited about this as it makes my work on my campaign system much easier since it will have a basis in Labyrinth Lord. Good news for the OSR for sure!

Imagine that

Just trying to test my blogger upload for pictures. For some reason it will work on my laptop but not on my desktop. Hrm....

That Old School Magic

In line with my recent posts and along with some of my past posts, I really feel like I want to build some alternative magic systems for use with Old School Fantasy systems (read D&D and clones). I do not want to do away with Vancian magic. I think it does what it does pretty well. However, I don’t think Vancian magic is the end-all-be-all to capture fantasy tropes. This is especially interesting in light of the famous Appendix N and the sources of inspiration sighted there. I don’t feel like the Magic from Moorcock’s writing is well captured. Or Lieber, or Howard, or Lovecraft, or, well anyone outside Vance and a few others. Matt Finch’s Eldritch Weirdness is perhaps one of the most compelling RPG magic books I’ve ever read. No, I take that back. It is THE most compelling magic book I’ve ever read. In it, he exhorts folks in the RPG community to think beyond the spell lists and explore other types of magic systems. Note, he doesn’t advocate doing away with the tradition

I REALLY, REALLY Love Old School D&D But...

In light of yesterday’s post concerning my intentions for my campaign setting, I just wanted to clarify that I really like the way D&D and the clones handle many things such as combat, stats, etc. What stifles me a bit are the classes. I actually find them to be somewhat restrictive and don’t allow for a lot of customization. Old School rule sets are like an old Volkswagon. They are infinitely customizable, hold up pretty well, can be somewhat clunky at times, have some sort of strange allure to them, etc. I do not want to throw out the entire D&D system. I’m also not trying to say that Gygax and Arneson got it wrong. I simply want to chop the system down to the core, and reassemble the parts to be able to create more flexible character types. That is what is so cool about the Old School systems, the rules are more like a kit and I can chop away a bit here, jack up the back end, add a blower and a spoiler, paint flames on the sides and put suicide doors on. Still is a