Category Archives: Making

Articles in this category are about tools and ideas about making things, and my belief that you can make things.

CoX — Abra

Time to time, I write up an explication of characters I’ve played in RPGs or made for my own purpose.  This is an exercise in character building and creative writing.


Antimatter Breach Resonance Apeture; a phrase first coined in a 1500 page scientific paper about an organically-integrated chemical engine that could create portals limited to the surface of that organic object.

ABRA: The military research program seeking to develop technology that would allow self-deploying mass-driver weapons, objects that teleported themselves and massively increased in volume upon arrival.

Abra: The boy caught up in the experiments designed to make that research real, with that self-same technology integrated into his body.

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T-Shirt: Endless Summer 2021!

It is, here where I am, the last days of spring. Summer is coming, or, really, as an Australian, summer is now. Some people like to imagine seasons as these simple, standardised, three-month chunks, but here in Australia, Summer kinda reaches from sometime in October all the way through to April, if it’s a hot one. Every single day of summer, it seems, shows up with a phenomenal force, a demand that you contend with it.

It’s also the time that my university work isn’t available, creating a strange period where I have something like three months of holidays, a long, slow stretch of time to write, read, create, and yes, of course, contend with the heat.

It’s the first time in my life I really connect with this idea that Americans espouse, of the idea of ‘summer vacation.’ And so I made this shirt, a testament to the way summer feels.

I like to think that sometimes my shirt designs are about jabbing out a simple, short joke, sometimes about using a simple tool well. This one is one I took a lot of time on; multiple iterations through the months, multiple additions of elements. Every element of this design has been made or remade at least twice, because I wanted to make something that looked really good to what I wanted to.

Since it has black shapes in it that rest against the colour of the shirt, there are two designs; one for putting on white shirts:

And one that’s for putting on black or dark shirts.

You can get either design (White or Black) over on Redbubble.

How To Be: Kipo (in 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is a Netflix TV series created by Radford Sechrist that started its life as a webcomic. The series is something I’ve praised in the past as being uncomplicatedly excellent. Set in a post-apocalyptic far future populated with anthropomorphic animals, it’s a story of a journey of adventure, beset on all sides by a dangerous villain with superpowers who, if he catches our heroes, may destroy their ability to ever defy him. It’s a great adventure structure, and one you should feel free to steal, and central to it all is the character of Kipo, a girl with pink skin whose position in the story is at the intersection of multiple sequences of events, set in motion before she was even born.

And like, I don’t normally do this, but I’m going to put a spoiler warning here. If you read these articles idly, and think you’d like to watch Kipo at some point, you should go do that before reading this article, because I’m going to talk about some stuff Kipo can do that isn’t obvious from the start of the story. I mean, oh okay, shock and horror, Kipo is special, obviously, you know that and I know that just looking at the fact the series is named after her, but nonetheless, I just want you to know, going on, that there be spoilers.

Good?

Good.

Okay, onwards.

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3.5 Memories: Worse Than The Fighter

In Dungeons & Dragons 3.5th Edition, a thing that’s not at all un-awkward to say, there was a set of hardbound expansion books released as a group to satisfy groupings of characters as an archetype. The first set of these, released around 2003, were The Complete Divine, The Complete Arcane and The Complete Warrior, a trio of books that kind of told you what they were about in the name. You had arcane spellcasters, divine spellcasters, and uh, everyone else, I guess.

The Complete Warrior had to bear up as the space for all the classes that weren’t divine spellcasters (but the ranger and paladin can play here too, sure) and all the characters who weren’t arcane spellcasters (but there’s stuff in here for melee spellcasters). Barbarians and Rogues and Monks all got to cram in on this book, but based on the name and the style, and of course, the preponderance of feats in this book, this is the book that’s for fighters.

It’s also a pretty cool book, if you’re looking at the good stuff in it that you want to use and make sure people can use. LIke this book has tactical feats, a category of feat that kind of roll together a small number of ‘not enough for a full feat’ advantages into a single grouping, and that’s a really good way to expand expertise on fighters. Prestige classes in this book include the Actually Good Frenzied Berserker, the kinda decent Tattooed Monk, the sorta-maybe-why-not War Chanter, the busted as hell Warshaper and that’s four classes worth having access to in most campaigns. The excellent Combat Brute tactical feat is in here, and uh

Anyway, the point is this book is one of the books I think of pretty positively.

It’s also a book that features the rare examples of a class actively worse than the Fighter.

The ‘Samurai.’

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Structural Boundaries On Making

The medium is the message. The structures of things are more powerful than the things themselves for changing the world. There are constraints on things that are about the way they are delivered and deployed that defy the mere conventions of pure aesthetics. We talk about what media does but so often that is a question fighting with what media can’t do — because of resources like time or affordances like culture.

I’m gunna talk about making and selling Invincible Ink games.

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Kobolds As Convergent Design

I’ve spoken about the role of the Goblin on Cobrin’Seil, but what about the kobold? I did bring up the question of hey why are these two so alike? And the followup question of where do they come from? The answer to both is ‘authors are weird,’ but I’m looking at it more in terms of how I can build and shape the world I’m putting players into, and I want the kobolds there to be both interesting enough as a player option without depriving people of the opportunity to use easy content where kobolds are happy to try and stick spears in players.

I am a fan of thinking about cultures in terms of their places in the world. That often requires answering the question ‘why are they here?’

Why then, are kobolds here?

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The Goblin As Fracturing Culture

I’ve spent some time considering the role of goblins and kobolds in D&D worlds, but stopped short of making decisions as they pertain to my own setting of Cobrin’Seil. It’s interesting that the idea of dispensing with both cultures was never really on the table, and I think part of that is because they do serve such a rudimentary purpose that dropping them wastes a lot of pre-existing material. It’s not like ignoring Duergar with their awful name, which drops maybe five instances of useful monster design across all editions; goblins are used in a lot of spaces and just the presence of them is a useful, handy thing for a lot of encounter designs. If you need a low-level threat, goblins are great.

What I want to do is address what they are. It’s not enough to just go ‘they’re a monster race,’ because that… doesn’t make any sense at all when you look at Cobrin’Seil and its approach to the world. I jettisoned the dwarves entirely because they don’t do anything (did I ever write about that?), so what are goblins as a culture.

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Game Prototyping: 9-4-3-2

Okay, let’s talk about this idea.

You are hiding your One card. Fortunately, you have eight other cards, and you have arranged a line to defend them. They’re all more powerful than your One, each one counting up from Two all the way to the immense Nine. You can’t hold all the cards, though, so you have to get rid of one card, chosen at random (not your One, don’t worry about it). You put a card in reserve. This is a card you’ll be able to quickly deploy later. Then you pick of your remaining seven cards, four cards to put down in a defensive line in front of you.

And now, you can use a face down card to attack an enemy’s card. But cards can attack the cards on the table, or sometimes cards in the hand or sometimes even attacking the card in reserve. Sometimes there’s cards that care about the burned card under the reserve. You have nine cards, and they all do different things, and you’re trying to find a way that your cards can find my One without presenting vulnerabilities to my cards, and I’m trying to do the same.

It’s got a spatial element. If a card is destroyed in your line, it can be reinforced from the reserve, or your hand. If it’s not, enemies can move into that space and suddenly that card can attack your hand directly. Combat is simple – you reveal the cards, and the higher number wins, the lower number is destroyed and ditched. There are ways to return the ditched cards to your hand, too, so you can even resupply!

The game is eighteen cards in total. Cards have their own abilities, and the game has room to put a lot of cool art on these cards.

Now I have a problem: What fiction am I going to put on this game?

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Making The Sonic The Hedgehog Video

This was a task.

Last month, in September, a video article of mine went up, and it was great and I’m very proud of it and it was a lot of work to make. It was about the Sonic the Hedgehog games and whether or not ‘Sonic The Hedgehog is good.’ This is a dumb question, but I was able to use it as a launching point to explain a bunch of different research methods and why you might use a particular tool and how to make it work.

And I want to account for how it got made.

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2021 Camp Osum Diary

Oh hey it’s October again, time to bust out this old project. Last year I did some work on the things I’d need for Camp Osum, and this year, I’d like to push it along a little more. But! Something I’m doing this year that I didn’t do last year is I’m going to tweet about it a bit. This means this post might feel a bit like a supercut of twitter posts.

Oh and uh, content warning? Gore and guts and knives and like, horror stuff?

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T-Shirt: A Good Good Boy (Being Impersonated By A Very Bad One)

I read Chainsaw Man in a day. It’s really good! I liked it a lot! Not something I can recommend to most people, but still, I thought it had some really cool ideas, great utilisation of the entirely 2d medium, wonderful characters, and, of course, it had Pochita, a good, good boy.

And being me, I immediately compared Pochita (a contract-making animal mascot with enormous destructive potential) with Kyubey, from Puella Madoka Magic: The Latest Movie (a contract-making animal mascot with enormous destructive potential). Kyubey is exactly the kind of garbage who would look at the kind of contract Pochita got and say ‘well, if that’s what it takes to get that kind of power, I’m down.’

 

I made these using the pen tool in GIMP. That’s why everything is these smooth shapes, and largely things are intersected. I thought about putting both designs on a shirt facing each other like this, but the thing is, that would require me to go through the lighting on both of them?

I dunno, maybe if someone better than me at lighting told me a way to do it easier, I’d make a shirt or sticker of them looking at each other.

There are two designs; one that’s just very clean, simplified fanart of Pochita:

And one that’s about that impersonating asshole Kyubey:

I really like that this artwork of Kyubey involves a lot of substitution but doesn’t need to change much. Kyubey’s gold rings used here to represent the handle and his eyes are also extremely distinctive.

Personally, I might not have a Kyubey shirt, but I might get a badge.

You can get either design (Pochita or Kyubey) over on Redbubble.

CoX — Raptorex

Time to time, I write up an explication of characters I’ve played in RPGs or made for my own purpose.  This is an exercise in character building and creative writing.


Not many people go out near the edges of Crey’s Folly, no more. They know it’s a dangerous place, with the Crey staff trying to recover lost research, the Nemesis forces trying to establish a bunkhead, Devouring Earth and Rikti and worse!

And there, lurking, is the dinosaur king, the beast woman of mysterious origin known as RAPTOREX!

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How To Be: Kuchiki Rukia (in 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

In Bleach, one of the most central characters to the early narrative is one Rukia Kuchiki. Introduced in the first episode, she is the bridge of our previous point-of-view character into the spirit world as an outsider. She is a character from another world, deprived of powers in our world, who has to guide Ichigo, a seemingly ordinary dude who can see ghosts, into seeing the immensely complicated reality that spiderwebs about him about societies full of special rules and seemingly arbitary boundaries. Rukia is this sort of mix of gremlin energy, doing things like building a micro room in Ichigo’s closet, ostentatious self-importance due to her noble heritage, and very legitimate expertise in spiritual matters. It’s the sudden loss of Rukia that marks the transition between the first two major arcs of Bleach, where all the fun we’ve had up until now is suddenly framed as something you have to pay for. The society, the life, the world that is waiting outside of the fun of highschool appears and demands that all that fun is over and now there is a duty.

I assume at some point after that she gets super powers and reunites with Ichigo and they have cool adventures and the story doesn’t run in place for nine years.

Anyway!

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T-shirt: Menu Loss

I have a bunch of t-shirt designs that build on the meme of Loss. I think some of them aren’t so great, as shirts, any more, and are a little slack or lazy in their execution. Since I wear them to class, I decided I needed to update and add to those designs, so here’s another one.

 

Here’s the design, on a shirt:

You can get it on Redbubble.

 

How To Be: May (in 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

You may remember that we’ve looked, earlier in the year, at the character Rock Howard, from Garou: Mark Of The Wolves. Fight games are rich fodder for this kind of exercise because they so often about what a character is and less about what the character does. Simply put, fight games don’t make much sense.

There’s a scale at work, of course. Some games make more sense, with a deliberate intention to ground the storytelling in something serious. Some games, on other hand, are pretty silly, and don’t really care about how silly they get.

Anyway, Guilty Gear.

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Game Pile: Channel Trailer 2021

What’s this? This isn’t Game Pile at all? Well, sort of. It’s a video about my Youtube channel, what it’s for and why I use it to put up Game pile articles. It’s meant to double as my channel trailer over on Youtube for those people who don’t come and look at the blog. It’s weird to me to consider that there may be people who watch over there but don’t read over here, but hypothetically, that’s what Youtube is about.

Script follows!

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Setting Up Your Feedback Loop

Every day I wake up and work on a big project. It’s a long, slow, ongoing project. There’s always a book, always a document, always a report, always some recording to do. Every single day, that means I spend some time engaging with something.

This means that I have a feeling, immediately afterwards, of what I want to do with the rest of my day. Around noon, I can spend some time making myself lunch, talk a bit with my partner, or put something on the TV or my second monitor that would work as a good entertainment source and let me wind down for a bit.

Then there are chores that need doing, which I try to schedule to do during the middle of the day, or close to it. Some need to be done later; for example, I can’t clean up after making dinner until after I’ve made  dinner, but thinking about dinner early in the day means I may think to plan and thaw some food for dinner later. One of the errands is taking the dog for a walk, requiring me to disengage, daily, from my computer and its space.

And I do this with a notebook open on my desk, so that things I need to do, or thoughts I have or want to work out, I can do on a thing that I can then look at, later, at a glance.

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Asset Brainstorm #1 — Golems

I need a catchier name than that for this.

Okay, look, something I do, regularly, is go looking for game assets I can use. I am, as a designer, kind of aesthetically flexible. I don’t tend to design games with a vision of how they should look ahead of time. And what’s more, I tend to be resource-inspired. If I see a new mechanic, or an art asset or something, my natural desire is to creatively explore it, to say ‘hey, I’d use this for this.’

I’m also uh, cheap? Like I don’t like the idea of my games as these ongoing costs. I want to buy assets, address my needs for a design, and be done. That means instead of comissioning an artist, I’d really like to buy their existing art as art assets rather than hire an artist to make things. It’s funny, too, because if the artist designs a thing and just makes it look right, great, that’s their choice and decision and I don’t have to try and tell the artist how to make it more, I dunno, ‘fwoowshy’ or appropriate to my needs.

I’m an odd boy, I know.

This is something I’ve been planning on doing for a while! How long have I been waiting on doing this? Well, the first draft of this article, and that name, is from January.

2019.

I gotta shake off that awkwardness, and just do it, so here’s the plan. I’m going to show you an asset pack, and tell you what I think about it, and what kind of games I’d think of doing with it.

Okay, so here’s the asset I found when I went looking that I want to talk about: Golem Battler Pack for RPG games by Anvilsoft. The images here are obtained from there.

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Announcing: The Disney Animated Canonball, Season Two!

We have another month and another drop of a Disney Animated Canonball season! The first season was successful beyond my wildest imaginations, because I imagined I would launch it and it would get uh

one listener?

Anyway, season two covers what we call the Twilight Of The Walt, or Halfing Your Ass, a season that starts with Cinderella and concludes with The Jungle Book. This season brings with it the increased attention of animation techniques like Xerography, attention to Milt Kahl’s famous swaggle, and some insight into the critics and cast behind these movies. The movies also get generally better, which means there’s a bit less dire boredom.

You can get the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, and any other good podcasting service that’s checking the standard RSS feeds? And failing that, you can head to the website.

How To Be: Disney’s Robin Hood (in 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

This month, I felt it was time to approach the challenge from a different angle, of taking something with an obvious, easy, simple solution and then exploring around that. And for that, we’re going to look at a classic character, a character who’s so well known we don’t even remember we’re referencing him when we reference him. A folk hero, a hero who defined a generation and set thousands of people on their path that would determine the kind of person they’d be.

We’re going to look at Robin Hood.

Specifically, the 1973 Disney’s Robin Hood.

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CoX: Wolfbit

Time to time, I write up an explication of characters I’ve played in RPGs or made for my own purpose.  This is an exercise in character building and creative writing.


Cody always knew someone. He was the kid who knew everyone shifty, who could get you favours, who could find you things off the books. He never really worked out why he was good at it, why he could remember these trades so well, why he could read the people around him for what worked, what made sense about them.

When the wolf woke up, it made a bit more sense.

He’s a fixer, a bit of a crook, certainly a bit grubby. There’s a lot of ways poor people make things happen in the city, and in the dark spaces, sometimes you hope to find the wolf.

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We Are The Night: Aspirations, Contusions, And Bullshit

These articles document the ongoing process of examining the things required to make a Blades in the Dark hack. The premise is using Blades in the Dark to emulate a heroic vigilante environment, akin to the settings of Gotham City from We Are Robin, or Ikebukuro from Durarara!!

This time, I want to talk about a mechanical change to the injury system. We’re going to talk about Harm and Trauma, and ways to change that system.

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Henry Orenstein

I’m going to tell you a story. It jumps around a little, to future and past, and it has a big twist in it that I’m going to need you to trust me on. Because of that, the fold – and content warning – is coming later than you’d expect.

This story, started, for me, on the Transformers wiki.

This is a Rubsign. It’s a small piece of plastic that’s heat-reactive. When Transformers started out as a brand, there was an immediate push to make cheap knockoff toys with similar ideas. In order to ‘protect’ the brand and ensure kids only wanted to buy the genuine Transformers, they developed something that they could pretend was part of the play pattern: a small symbol on the robot’s body that had the silhouette of either the Decepticon or Autobot faction, and you wouldn’t know for sure if you didn’t heat it up, usually as a child, by rubbing it with your finger.

Transformers, and their gimmick of ‘transforming’, is essentially, open source. You can’t copyright it or even copyright the techniques of a mould. This is one of the reasons there’s so many knockoffs of those toys — the actual technique of a transforming toy is pretty much uncopyriteable method.

The rubsigns, however, were made with patented technology; not only weren’t other people allowed to put them on their toys, but even worse, they simply couldn’t make them because the method for their creation was proprietary. What I thought as a child was a clever way to represent a disguise, for a moment of tension in the narrative, was really just a corporate control collar, a thing that meant they could draw a hard line between their version of the idea and the other, shitty ones, so I could ensure my collection of second hand transforming robot toys was properly branded.

Rubsigns are a cop is what I’m saying.

But, they had to be invented.

This is Henry Orenstein. Learning about the origin of the rubsign meant learning that to my surprise, the patent for them is not held by The company per se, but is instead partially owned by Hasbro, and partially owned by this one dude, Henry Orenstein.

When I found his name in the Transformers wiki, the wiki stated, perhaps boldly: His life is more interesting than Transformers.

Bold claim.

This is professional Poker. It’s a well known game that involves players playing for extremely large sums of money, often with similarly large sums of money involved in the buy-in. It’s grown in popularity over the past twenty years, in part because of improvements in presenting the game to an audience. Back in 1995, a patent was filed for a device known as a hole camera, which let the broadcasters collect the information about the players’ hands without doing anything that disrupted the natural flow of the game. The hole camera was used in 1999, and that’s about when poker started to pick up in public discourse.

And the patent for the earliest hole camera (which isn’t used much any more) is to a guy named Henry Orenstein. So important was this – and his winnings and his achievements lifetime – that he’s been inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.

This is a Johnny Seven OMA, which were made by Topper Toys. And that’s a company Henry Orenstein founded to make his toys after being annoyed at how expensive dolls and toy guns were for poor kids. Topper Toys eventually folded into another brand, Deluxe Reading, which I understand if you are a hardcore toy collector, really into things like barbie accessories and cross compatibility, is very important to the hobby.

This background was how Henry got the attention of Hasbro, and wound up working with them on acquiring new toy properties. That meant he was in position to be in Japan, looking at Takara and Microchange toys, and come back with the idea of acquiring both toy sets, and rebranding them as Transformers in 1980.

Interesting dude, right? He should write a memoir.

Except he did already:

And now, when we jump back in the story, I have to say: Content Warning: Nazis.

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4e: Sneaky Feys

It’s said, that humans learned magic from the gods; some say that humans learned it from studying the universe around them. Some, in the oldest and darkest stories, say that humans learned magic from the fey, because they couldn’t wait to see how badly we fucked it up.

One thing I love about D&D 4e is the way that making a character is pretty simple and robust. Rather than gate things like werewolves and werebears behind layers of power back in third edition, the game finds ways to let you play that straight up, out of the gates. Same with Vampires, and, if you want, you can play all sorts of weird character types out of nowhere.

If you want to play a weirdo, fae-realms inspired fey creature, you have options too! And, of them, the Satyr and Hamadryad, are bad. Fortunately, though, Fox made some better ones, and I’m going to give you some feat support for them!

Now, this is a bit of a different direction in the kind of 4e content I make. This isn’t about something from established books, this is something based on the character heritages for 4th edition that Fox made. It’s going to be about feat support for the Gruuwar, Pooka, and Firbolg heritages she wrote, and put up on The Square Fireball.

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T-Shirt Megapost: Subject Outlines 2

Yesterday I started on showing off this month’s t-shirt designs, and boy there are a few this month.  I would normally put t-shirt designs at the end of the month, but in this case, I’m actually getting these shirts in time to wear them for this semester… which is also the same time any of my peers might want to see them.

Sonic The Hedgehog logos are really quite good. It’s a standardised font, it’s a standardised formatting, and the rest of the logo is done with individual specific details for the media in question, like Mania’s springs and whorls. This was really, really easy to make and it looks great.

I think sometimes it’s easy to fail to appreciate just how good the branding is for Sonic.

Also, there’s a version of this with ‘& Knuckles’ on it, but it honestly doesn’t look as good and means the joke ends on a second punchline, and that sucks.

This was based on the suggestion of my dear friend Shelf, who pointed out that while yes, it looked like a Final Fantasy logo to start with, I needed something crystalline in the middle. Fox also pointed out that it’s where a splash of colour happens. In this case, it’s a silhouette of an elk.

Because elks are cool.

The elk is a gradient that then got ran through a cubism filter to make it look kinda crystall-y.

Speaking of that cubism filter, get a load of that crystal in my extremely home-made leadership matrix. The matrix is entirely out of gradients otherwise.

The text is really interesting because my memory of the gradient on this is really vibrant – a really rich red, a really deep blue. But if you go back and look at the G1 logo for Transformers, it’s… positively understated.

This gradient is made up, in order from the top of the image to the bottom, a gradient of blue-to-white; a line of garbage hand-drawn then smoothed and smudged to look a bit more like a mountain range; a gradient of red to white. The bottom of the garbage line gets blurred into the red-white gradient, and that’s how I got that effect.

I’m really proud of all these things that don’t require me to like, do much drawing vs making my designs with shapes, rotations and symmetries. There’s a lot of that here.

And finally…

God damn.

I wanted to make a shirt with the design from the Vaporwave Designer meme program. But the thing is, that’s not only not at a proper resolution for shirts, but it’s also really busy for a design when I can’t control all the elements of the shirt. I can’t cover the entirety of the shirt, to give it the proper background. I can’t do gradients either – less-than-full opacity, when printed on a shirt, is printed on white and creates a nasty white silhouette.

With those limits, instead of duplicating that style, I wanted to make something that evoked it, in colours I like. And thus, we get this hodge-podge of ‘wow, look at all the effects I can do.’

If you’d like to check these shirts out, maybe buy a sticker or a shirt… well, check it out here.

T-Shirt Megapost: Subject Outlines 1

ha ha ha or maybe we’ll have another lockdown after I write this post and the next one and these shirts will instead not get worn at class but oh fuck it here it is anyway


I like wearing my shirts to class. You maybe have seen my bumper collection of Loss shirts that I wear to teach a class about memes. One shirt that got a yell of laughter last semester was my ‘Have You Read The Subject Outline’ shirts.

Well, as this post goes up, I’m going to be teaching again this semester, and I made a bunch of other shirts of that joke so I have a full matching set for the semester. Here, then, are the first half of them, with some notes about how I made them.

The actual phrase Have You Checked The Subject Outline scans to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cadence. Thanks to one Glench, a tool exists on the internet for building a framework for that kind of design.

In this case, the output of the creator just gave me the angle/style of fonts, and then I went and recreated them myself once I had someone else doing math on the arc of the letters.

The Fullmetal Alchemist logo is composed of letters, with specific kerning and details, that I seem to have installed as part of a system package. To get this look, I pulled the spacing in tight for the body text to make sure that the two most similar words fit the same bounding box. Then, it was a matter of giving it a pair of outlines – which I noticed, a lot of things rely on outline-thicker-outline, which does look great.

This is mostly just sets of gradients; one gradient for the red body, another for the red outline, same for the greys and silvers.

Note that in this design because the original logo doesn’t have a hanging element (the foot of the J), I had to then restructure things a little; I couldn’t just make SUBJECT and OUTLINE separately, because otherwise the bottom edge of SUBJECT would overlay on the top edge of OUTLINE. In this case, I put the topmost layer (the inner body text) paired together, with SUBJECT on top; then under those two, the outlines, then under that, a grouping. Then I had to make space to make sure the outline on the J fit.

Design number three went through a lot of iterations. There’s a free font for minecraft, but to get the 3d effect I had to do a lot of struggling. First, create two layers of text, with a distressed/non-distressed font. Then I used a perspective tool to make it tilt backwards.

Once I had that, I took a copy of the bottom layer, the un-distressed one, and gave it a vertical motion blur a pretty big distance, then made a folder for the blurry one. I copied it a dozen times, merged those, and then made a copy and got rid of all the contrasty bits to make sure it was a ‘solid’ shape rather than a blurry one.

Then it was a matter of just trying out a lot if graphical effects to see if I could get a ‘dirt’ vibe without using textures I didn’t own and wasn’t allowed to use. I did toy with pixel blurring photos, but that got me inconsistant pixel sizes, and that was super annoying and looked a bit crap.

That’s half of these designs, we look at the next set tomorrow!