Category Archives: Idea

World Building Blog


Well, it’s one of those times. “Those times” being when “I’ve been struggling with getting any art, design, ‘or anything, really’ done because I’m a total perfectionist and it’s so much easier to just spend forever researching +/- 37 different things simultaneously” (ranging, of course, from how pteradons fly to the best way to scientifically (and most painfully) determine exactly where in a particular binary star system the life zone – a.k.a habitable zone or Goldilocks zone – would fall).


3D landscape header

Fortunately, I’ve been insanely fortunate enough to be selected as a finalist-interviewee – a writing position – for an indie game company currently working on their first big project, which happens to be based on some of my favorite themes/genres, movies, game-types, etc. The company is Starboard Games L.L.C. (links tp FB page) and the game is called INT (short for Interstellar). While this blog has been primarily about art, design, and more “visual-creative” projects, I’ve been world building – and creating languages – for years now (almost a decade, and that’s not counting the totally-uneducated attempts I made back in middle school).

In the interest of not only continuing to explore those areas of interest but also to get all the research I’ve done and ideas I’ve been exploring out there to share and discuss with other people, I’ve decided that now is a great time to start a blog specifically for world-building and all that goes into that (or can, at least)! Taking the first step applying for this writing job has been a great push forward towards the blog, but whatever happens with the job itself – all power to them, the idea sounds great – I’m looking forward to writing again. Well, writing in a “public forum” and getting feedback and having discussions, anyway. All the writing I’ve been doing recently has been kept … under wraps, so to speak.

Perhaps I’ve reached a kind of “critical mass” in terms of the amount of information I’ve amassed. Now it’s time to actually make use of it all, even if I end up just sharing it and helping others use it for their own epic ends.


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Orthodoxy – Something NEW!

Orthodoxy RPG - Kickstarter LinkClick the image above to go to the KICKSTARTER project page! Ends June 19, 2014 @ 10:35 AM PDT

Orthodoxy – the Politics of Reconstruction

A pen-and-paper RPG designed and written by my friend, Jordan Voltz (Blog, Facebook, Twitter). The rulebook and at least one example setting are currently in the works, but the core structure of the game is already in place. The Kickstarter Project, which ends June 19th, 2014 @ 10:35 AM PDT, is – hopefully – going to raise the funds to complete the system, write the rulebook, publish it (both as a PDF and a soft-cover print edition), and even get some great art included! In the interest of full disclosure (and because it’s such an obvious opportunity for shameless bragging), I’ll be doing all the art. Unless, of course, we get so much interest we need to bring in some help, although I admit – I hope I’ll be able to handle all of the art, illustrations, and design myself. This game – perhaps “system” would better describe it, as it’s not limited to a particular genre or even time-period – is something I’ve really enjoyed helping with.

Basics of the System

Now, as I’m not actually writing the system or rules myself, much of what I know about the game was explained to me by Jordan. While we were putting together the audio for the video, incidentally, so we went over the concept and general system quite a few times. Essentially, at its core, the system is designed to literally force the players to collaborate even while attempting to dominate. The setting used to showcase the system is essentially a Roman-era city that has fallen into decay. Originally ruled by a central government built around and upon a central religion, various Sects have broken away and are now fighting for both religious and political power. In an effort to prevent the city from being torn apart by rebellion, and with the hopes of maintaining at least some of its fading power, the central government has chosen a representative to bring the leaders of the dominate sects together. Together, this representative – the Scribe, played by the GM – and the players, as Sect Leaders, must work together to write a document that will bring the Sects together and restore the city.

Stages of Play

Both the Sect Leaders and the Scribe want this document to reflect primarily their own interests, however, so despite the required collaboration plenty of blackmail, bribery, intrigue, lying, and other forms of manipulation are equally effective means of completing the document. There are essentially two major stages of play, alternating until each Sect Leader has proposed and written a chapter of the document. The first stage is the Debate, in which a Sect Leader proposes a chapter and attempts to garner support from the other Leaders and the Scribe. Once the proposal is completed and support given (or withheld), the chapter itself is written. The Scribe records while the Sect Leader who proposed the chapter dictates. Other Leaders can interrupt the dictation to make changes or argue a point. After this stage is completed, the second stage begins. Now, all the players, including the GM, step away from the document in order to bribe, blackmail, lie to, and otherwise manipulate their temporary-collaborators into promising support when it becomes their turn to propose a chapter.

These two stages, which I like to call “Debate” and “Manipulate” (respectively), alternate until each player has had the chance to propose and write a chapter of the document. The group may choose to write only one chapter per person, or they may choose to write any number of chapters per person, even writing more than one Book (document) to create a Canon. The length of each chapter and of the whole document is entirely up to the players, allowing the game to be completed in a single session or across multiple sessions, even spanning several months!

Favorite Feature

I have to say, my favorite feature is the incredibly flexible nature of the system. While the system is described in terms of writing a religious document that will dictate and support a new government for a decaying city in danger of falling apart, this is hardly the only setting in which it can be used. In addition, writing a document, book, or canon – whether detailing religious or political power – is not the only outcome the system can create! Players could be computer programmers vying to rewrite a powerful but outdated software using their own system, or they could even, potentially, be architects vying to build a structure using their own materials or methods. Or to at least have the most input during the drafting process 🙂

While the focus is on collaboration between otherwise antagonistic parties, there’s still plenty of room for manipulation and fighting. Politics, law, and even coding have never been “clean” and there’s always room for a little manipulation, even during a collaboration that could cost an entire city its very survival should the effort fall apart!

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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Concept Art, Game, Idea, Inspiration, RPG, Writing


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Wo0t Maps!

Okay, that sounds really hyper-active far-side-of-the-moon can’t-find-my-brain (yeah, that’s a ‘zero’ in the title), but let me explain:

After avoiding drawing and even art in general for almost a year or so, I’ve been getting back into it. Over the past few months, I’ve picked up a couple commissions for illustrating maps of fictional worlds, and even created the front cover of an RPG manual (just a home-brew RPG by a group of friends down in Argentina, but it’s not a map! And they just signed off on the front cover and are hoping I can do the front pages of the Bestiary and Herbs sections of the manual (^o^)v ). Okay, so doesn’t sound like much of an achievement to warrant leek-speak (or leet-speak, for that matter), but effectively finishing one of the first major maps I took the commission for and finishing that RPG manual cover and finishing another map (okay, I feel done, but the commissioner has to sign off on it) AND getting not one, but two paid commissions from some truly excellent people … Now all of that is definitely enough to encourage a little slip in spelling and grammar.

Now, I’ve been asked to not share the RPG manual cover by the commissioner, but I can share the 2 maps I’ve just finished (okay, okay, as far as I know they’re finished):

08Drawn for Matt Hoffman (Technospiritualist at the Cartographers’ Guild forums). He’s working on a novel, the first draft of which he’s almost done with (!), and this map is of the ‘world’ of the story.

map_003This one was done for another novelist, Steve Pote (Blahman919 at the Cartographer’s Guild forums). He provided a rough hand-drawn map, which I essentially ‘traced over’ in Photoshop to ensure that everything was placed properly. The lighter lines … Hah. Are roads, which I need to label. Now I see that. Well, other than that, the map is done, as far as I know.

And in the interest of branching, here’s a small sketch I did earlier today. It’s actually part of a larger, image, but …


To see the whole image you’ll have to check out my new website, 99 Colored Umbrellas ! (I know, original, how original!) It’s still under construction, but you’ll find that image there, so check it out ^-^!

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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Art, Cartography, Color Study, Digital, Idea, Map, Update


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