The Naga Demon – Week 1

The Naga-what now? The National Game Design Month. Check it out here: http://nagademon.com/

As usual, I get my ideas either in the shower or in the car. This was not an exception. Driving along a winding country road, I got to thinking of an idea I’ve tried to develop as comics for quite some time: high-fantasy mixed with film noir.

Well, OK, not so much an idea as a reoccurring urge to draw orcs and elves in fedoras. Even so, it was enough to make me want to write up rules and guidelines for a short, simple pen-and-paper RPG.

The first thing I did was to read up on film noir. I’m very intrigued and entertained by the genre, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I understand it. It’s so heavily ingrained in our pop-cultural subconscious that it’s hard to tell what it is, what is derived from it and what’s simply homage and/or parody. To read up on fantasy on the other hand would be… daunting at best. And possibly pointless. I skipped that class for the moment.

The second thing I did was to think about a rules mechanic for conflict resolution. The challenge were to write a game, not a campaign setting, so I did not want to hack, modify or adjust an already existing system with some form of open gaming license. And if I were to build a new mechanic, it should tie into the theme and mood of the game itself.

What was the mood and theme of the game now again? I didn’t know. Better decide it then! Revisiting my previous home-work, I made a big, red circle around the following quote from TvTropes.org:

The tone and outlook of Film Noir must be bleak, defeatist, and pessimistic — it always suggests a sliminess beyond what it can show. Nobody gets what they want, and everyone gets what’s coming to them.

Yeah, that feels about right. There’s no winners here. Much like how the classic Call of Cthulhu RPG put their characters on the road to madness, death or worse, my game should be a game that ultimately beats you. The mechanic would be rigged in the oppositions favor. And thus, I decided to build my mechanic around Black Jack, because “the house always wins”, right?

OK, no dice, you use a deck of cards. What are we betting with? Our life? Influence? A meta-game currency of some sorts? We need tokens either way… poker chips? Bullets? Cigarettes could be fun because “everybody smokes in noir”. After a bit of messing around with the rules of Black Jack and different ways to handle conflict resolution in-game, I realized I needed to test these ideas with actual play. Not having the ability to get a gaming group together until next week, the crunch had to be abandoned for now.

In the meantime, I sat down to formulate my thoughts on the interchange between high-fantasy and film noir. Up to this moment, the fantasy element was sketchy at best. I can’t just put pointy ears on Bogart and call it a day. If I were to keep my rainy, dark cities inhabited by elves and orcs, I had better justify why we couldn’t do without them. Was this merely an efficient tool for satirizing upon our own society, alá Discworld? Or a “comfort-filter” that we could use to act out some aspects of ourselves; sociocultural clashes within the densely populated cityscapes; that mess up our lives as much today as it did back then?

It had to be all those things, and more. Reinventing early 20’s technology with magic would not suffice. No, the world was to be quite fantastical indeed, putting a proper spin at how a cliché noir story usually played out. And with that, the project got a whole lot more “fluff” attached to it. I don’t really mind. Things are starting to come along nicely, and if the game turns out to be little more than meh, I’ll have a ton of ideas for that comic that I never got around to do :)

Here be dragons looking at you, kid

Ghibli-inspired design

A gaming site announced a competition regarding the RPG co-developed with Studio Ghibli – Ni no Kuni. Make a character fit for a Ghibli-esque universe, and win the special edition of said game! I did not win, not even close, but the task was intruiging none the less! Ligne claire (google it) it’s not something I’ve toyed around with at all, and it’s challenging to use nothing but a line to convey shape and volume. I highly recommed everyone to dabble with it once in a while!

I’m here for the vampires!

Vampires Suck was a web-comic about vampires. Specifically the vampires featured in White Wolf Publishing’s role-playing game Vampire: the Masquerade. It’s discontinued right now, but you’ll find all published strips right here!

It’s not particularly safe for work…

 

SEX!

No, really. Sex! Let me introduce you to the adult indie-anthology Swedish Comic Sin, a thus far yearly endeavour, aiming to collect fresh talent and make clever, enticing and pretty fu**ing sweet erotica. I’ve had the privilege to participate with 11 pages of lust and woe in this, the third instalment which is at the printers and will be available at this years International Comic Festival in Stockholm.

So, really… This site doesn’t have much to offer these days. Click yourself to http://swedishcomicsin.blogspot.se/ instead and read up on the project, as well as interviews with the participant artists. If you know you want a copy, but cannot make it to the festival, then fret not – drop me an email and we’ll make it happen. If you live in Gästrikland, it’s even fairly easy to arrange a “shady back-alley meeting” and I promise it’ll be awkward as f**k.

Peace, love and a double-barrelled shotgun

Y 2.0

Somewhere around the end of spring in 2011, I had the notion that I would be able to keep on being creative as if the reason I had to quit drawing Vampires Suck was the comic itself. That assumption proved brutally wrong. Around september, my birthday actually, I tried to yank myself out of this cesspool, but that proved even more daunting. However, now at the beginning of 2012, I feel ready to Roll that Rock again..

You may notice that this is written in English, despite that I specifically stated to direct this blog to a Swedish audience. I don’t really know why I did that. Perhaps a desire to both find and direct my work to the markets of my home, or the fear of being unable to produce entries in English with the desired quality in the language. I really don’t know. But I do know that I will continue to write these posts in English. I’m sorry grandma(s) and grandpa, this’ll once again be a site you cannot use yourselves.

(Du kanske märker att detta är skrivet på engelska, trots att jag uttryckligen sa att jag skulle rikta den här bloggen mot en svensk publik. Jag vet inte riktigt varför jag gjorde det. Kanske önskade jag både finna och rikta min sajt till en marknad här hemma, eller så var jag rädd att jag inte skulle kunna hålla en tillräckligt hög kvalitet på språket om jag skrev inläggen på engelska. Men jag vet att jag kommer fortsätta att skriva alla inlägg på engelska i fortsättningen. Förlåt, farfar, farmor och mormor, det här blir en till sajt som ni inte kan ta del av på egen hand.)

There’s a couple of projects in the loop. I’ll get back to present them more thoroughly in a bit.

Peace, love and tranquillizers

Torpor

Let the dead rest until they are needed again. It is no use to deny it any longer. I have to put Vampires Suck on indefinite hold for now. There’s a number of reasons why, and I’ll try to sum them up fairly quickly.

One thing is the internet as a medium in itself. You’ve seen me contemplate in earlier commentaries how the need for proper updates and a fair amount of content each update makes longer storylines challenging. After my first creative breakdown, I started the Chronicles of coffee and cigarettes, adjusting focus from the setting to those who (ab)use it. These were short gags presented as strips. But I don’t want to make strips. Or gags for that matter. At least not now.

VS evolved into something I find much more interesting creating – a story. Some of you, who play any edition of WoD, realise this as well. It’s not about how shitty or badass your character is in a game mechanic balance perspective. It is the drama that inevitably will surface because everything you touch will turn to shit. Life’s still a fucking joke, but everyone doesn’t get it, and others don’t find it particularly funny.

Continuing on what has been done is troublesome. I could start making proper ‘zines altogether out of VS, but there’s simply too much backstory only available online. And then there’s my conscious decision to direct VS to those already familiar with the Masquerade-setting. A proper shift in medium would require a full re-boot, and probably to drop the universe by White Wolf altogether.

But I assure you that the vampires have not returned into the shadows forever. They are always present, and the great resource material for classical Victorian horror can be applied within a multitude of settings. But VS as it is and has been, will not be for quite a while. I am deeply indebted to you all for giving me these 4 years.

Thank you so much,
I love you.