In Memoriam: Craig Green

311785_10150362606105516_1867577023_nI just found out that my friend and long time member of my roleplaying group, Craig, died last week of natural causes. I tend to withdraw when something shocking like this happens so I’m kind of hurrying to get my thoughts down before that happens, so I apologise if my eulogy is a little crude, unflattering or disjointed but I wanted to say something immediate and honest rather than to wait. I wanted to give a human reaction instead of a measured or artificial one.

I never liked Craig when I first met him. We were both very active players in the Camarilla LARP society and my characters often found themselves at odds with his characters and – in the manner of the way that organisation went – that meant we often found ourselves at odds out-of-character as well. I found him camp, pretentious and later when I was the one Storytelling for him, he was an obtuse and difficult bastard with bizarre characters that were really difficult to create or moderate stories for. Still, he won over friends and we shared friends and seemed to relax into a kind of reasonably affable détente.

Once I left the Camarilla I didn’t see much of him that often. I moved out to the countryside and couldn’t travel much any more while he cemented his friendship with our mutual friends and so – once I started seeing them more again and roleplaying with them, he was present. To the point of house-sharing with them and becoming part of our regular gaming groups.

We moved from that détente into friendship, though not a particularly close friendship (I always felt he disapproved of me in some way for some reason) and I began to appreciate his presence. He was still a difficult bastard with whimsical, hard-to-gamesmaster-for characters though, which often led me to tear my hair out to the point I was nearly as bald as he was.

However much he’d rub me the wrong way, Craig had a mastery of the art of joke-sniping, sliding a humorous comment into the middle of a conversation only to have it detonate as a laughter bomb in the middle of you talking. I appreciated his kindness and willingness to help others – he was a nurse – and his constantly upbeat attitude which I could never (and will never be) able to replicate. That most of all, that ready smile and that wicked glint in the eye.

He’ll be missed for all that.

He is, just about, the first peer I’ve lost to natural causes. I’ve lost people to accidents, to suicide, to many unnatural causes but never really, until now, to the simple failing of the body. It’s strange that, that should be so affecting, but it is. More so, even, than when someone has taken their own life. Perhaps because it’s just so arbitrary and bloody unfair.

The deaths of others always end up being about those of us left to carry on, those who remain.

That’s OK.

That’s not selfish.

Our memories and our stories are the closest thing to immortality that exists. We influence and affect one another, we teach each other things and give each other stories. We pass those stories on and so our friend live on, through us. Echoing into infinity.

#TheTriggering – Commemorative Discounts!

triggeredThe Triggering is a social media event (#TheTriggering) proposed by libertarian commenter and reporter Lauren Southern as a sort of ‘online demonstration’ in favour of free speech and free expression and to raise awareness of Social Justice Warrior interference and threats to those fundamental human rights and to a free internet. Lauren knows better than many the kind of problems that face free speech advocates having both been thrown out of a protest for staging a counter-protest and, more recently, being assaulted (with a bottle of urine no less) for having a different opinion.

The ‘public square’ is increasingly in private hands and under private control, but is also being used by proxy to censor and control opinion. Whether it’s Twitter’s dubiously Orwellian ‘Trust and Safety’ council or Zuckerberg cooperating with the German government to suppress negative stories about immigration, we have to admit that there is an issue and it’s an issue that has been thrown into sharp relief by the conflicts on college and university campuses and the febrile atmosphere surrounding almost any piece of entertainment that intersects – however fractionally – with PC hotbutton issues.

You don’t have to agree with people to agree that they have a right to speak. I’m a left-anarchist and a pragmatic socialist, yet I support Lauren Southern’s right to espouse her Libertarian ideals. I worry about the demonisation of immigrants, but I believe people have a right to express their concerns about that (and genuinely worrying stories are being suppressed there too). There’s suggestions recently that media companies, including social media companies, are going to collude to exclude and undermine Trump now. I would gladly gnaw my own leg off if it would prevent Trump being president, but he has a right to express whatever opinions are most popular at the time and will win him votes. That’s democracy, that’s freedom, that’s the principle of free speech.

I’ve made games and presented ideas that people find objectionable and I’ve been censored, pilloried, boycotted and banned for it (or, more often, for ideas that people have assigned to me) so I’m presenting some of those ideas (games) under discount to participate in #TheTriggering because not only have these games ‘triggered’ people, but shilling a product on a hashtag will ‘trigger’ a whole other set of people.

Exercise your free speech and free expression today. Say something controversial. Air an opinion that might upset someone. Buy some porn, read 1984 or Huckleberry Finn, post a ‘problematic’ joke. Flex those rights and shake the tree, see who actually believes in free speech and who doesn’t.

And for those SJWs blocking the tag, or anyone that posts on it… you’re proving that we don’t need censorship and that you’re capable of maintaining your challenge-free bubble all by yourselves. You’re also proving the need for this event – which I hope becomes as annually celebrated as Draw Mohammed Day.

***

DISCOUNTED GAMES FOR #THETRIGGERING

Discounts are available for 48 hours ONLY, ending on the 11th of March.

The Little Grey Book [Pay What You Want]: A simple party game that plays off the hypercritical panopticon of social media.

Hentacle [Marked down to $2.50]: A comedy print-and-play card game of tentacle rape, which is such an absurd concept it’s just inherently laughable. Apparently some people fear for the welfare of drawings and genuinely fear being molested by cephalopods. #TeachOctopiNotToRape

Cthentacle [Marked down to $2.50]: A slightly different and simpler/faster version of Hentacle, but with a Cthulhu theme and many, many horrendous Lovecraftian puns. Of note is that poor, dead racist HP Lovecraft’s head used to be used as the World Fantasy Award prize, but this was changed due to conerns about his racism. Short of a visit by Herbert West I don’t really see how Lovecraft’s racism could really be a problem for anyone any more. He’s dead. Then again #RhodesMustFall so apparently we have to erase history and ignore influential figures for wrongthink. Down the memory hole…

Privilege Check [Marked down to $2.00]: The less privileged you are… the more privileged you are. This was the basic hypocrisy behind ‘the progressive stack’ which came to prominence during the Occupy movement. Equality, apparently, is not a good way to treat people and the best way to cure *ism is to be *ist. Irony is missing from a lot of dictionaries it seems. This game triggered the hell out of a lot of people when it came out and it’s a bluffing/tactical card game that mocks the progressive stack.

Gamergate Card Game [No discount, sorry!]: This was SO triggering that it, unlike the material above, was censored off my usual sales site. This despite it containing no graphic depictions of tentacle sex, nor any off colour jokes about racial/gender/etc politics the way Privilege Check does. Just invoking the name of the consumer revolt was sufficient to bring down a gang of crybabies to get it taken down.

If you’re interested in our other products, though none are really as controversial, you can grab our catalogues, which make it easier to find stuff than using the site navigation.

2016 Catalogues for Easy Purchasing

We’ve put out two catalogues today to make purchasing our products easier.

THE MAIN CATALOGUE contains everything we’ve ever made (so far) and links via the titles to PDFs, hardcopy books and physical card and board games.

THE PUBLISHERS CATALOGUE contains links to all our stock art, with preview pictures. This is a much easier and faster way to locate our stock art than the existing search functions or scrolling/page breakdown on the websites and is highly recommended.

Everything Postmortem Studios, all in one place.

Enjoy!

Zelart Scholarship Winner 2015-2016

176195This year’s winner is Erika Markkinen, a talented young artist and tattooist from Finland.

Erika is heading back into full-time education to train in digital media and has had some recent setbacks including a nasty car accident and some broken equipment, and so best fit the criteria for the award (supporting young genre artists in education).

Erika’s piece is available for sale HERE and she is available for commissions and, if you’re in Finland, tattoos.

(Full disclosure: Erika has worked for me before on FLICKPIG, where she did outstanding work drawing an adventuring party of humanoid pigs. I consulted with several people to avoid positive discrimination on my part).

***

176194The runner up, who kindly donated their submission to support the scholarship was Inna Vjuzhanina.

Inna is a brilliant colour artist with some outstanding work who is, nonetheless, struggling at the moment to find commissions. If you look at her work this is somewhat hard to believe. Here portfolio contains many outstanding pieces of work, which can be viewed here. She also sells prints of her work which can be found here.

Her donated piece can be purchased and downloaded HERE.

***

The scholarship faced a lot of challenges this year. It was extremely hard to get entries for reasons that aren’t 100% clear, but we did – even – face active sabotage with an apparently obsessive troll trying to ‘warn people off’ from applying and casting various aspersions. This is an enormous shame and a horrible thing to do as it only ends up hurting the very bright, young artists we’re seeking to help.

I hope we can up our game next year, perhaps by contacting colleges, schools and universities more directly, and earlier, to encourage both donations and applications.

Advice welcome.

Machinations Companion: Psion Expansions

d21612e2242709c33d7a3b9c075da835The Machinations Companion will include some new and additional psychic powers, a different version of Psion advancement and a whole alternative scheme for less ‘magic-like’ psychic powers, more akin to those found in harder forms of science fiction.

Example New Powers

Level 3

Arc: You transmute psionic energy into electrical energy. It arcs from your hand doing d4/level damage if it strikes the target (who gets a Reflex Save to avoid the damage. If they take damage the power can arc to another target in range (5m) and it continues to bounce between targets, even returning to the same victims, until you terminate the effect or a target makes a successful Save.

Manna Meal: You can solidify psychic energy into a slightly glowing, doughy, tasteless substance that can be eaten. The manna contains enough nutrition and water to sustain a person equivalent to a normal meal. Each use of this ability produces enough food for 1 person/level. Manna lasts 24 hours +1 hour/level before disintegrating back into the astral plane.

Phantasm: You can create a psychic illusion that seems real to every sense, but which cannot do any real harm. You can create such an illusion or series of illusions up to 1m squared per level. EG: A level 10 psion could fill a 10m x 10m area with an illusory party, filled with exotic aliens and still have some illusory capacity left. An illusory person requires 1m x 2m.

Example New Power Path

Psi-Paths are fairly broad, general psychic ‘paths’ with basic powers and numerous sub-powers and additions that you can purchase. Each power starts with a Base Power, which is the first effect that you have to buy with your first point (base cost). Each power also comes with a set of ‘boosts’. You can spend Psi Points to add these boosts when you ‘cast’ the effect, or spend Power Points to permanently make the effect more powerful in the future (though you can still spend Psi Points to boost it further when you use it).

Path of Telepathy

Base Power: Read Minds

With the Read Minds base power you can reach into the mind of a person and pluck out a particular thought or memory. Should the power succeed you could, for example, ask the Games Master what they are currently thinking, how they feel about a particular person, what the password is and so on.

Base Range: Line of Sight
Base Effect: Read a single thought from a single sentient creature against their will. The target gets a Will Save to resist the power. You can also use this power to passively sense sophont minds within range.
Base Cost: 1

Boosts
Range: 1/25m (no need for line of sight, just awareness).
Reduce Save: 1/1
Read Multiple Thoughts: 1/1
Scan Multiple Minds: 1 per person, use highest Save.
Read Animal Minds: +3 cost.
Read Repressed/Lost Memory: +3 cost.

How Psi-Paths Work

Girtha the Unbound is a new, level one Psion.

At Level One she has 5 Psi Points and 5 Power Points after her statistical boosts.

She wants to play a powerful psychokinetic and chooses to start with the Path of Psychokinesis. As such her first power has to be Telekinesis. This has a base cost of 1, leaving 4 points remaining, and gives barebones access to the Telekinesis power. Girtha wants a different power really, and so spends the remaining points getting Pyrokinesis (X-Kinesis, 2 points) and buying a base damage of 1d4 for it.

(When using a power you use the base cost – 2 to use Pyrokinesis – and can boost the effects temporarily using your points. Githa could boost the damage to D12 by investing their power into a single attack).

At Level Two she has another two Power Points, which she sinks into her Pyrokinesis to raise the base damage to 1d8.

At Level Three she has another three Power Points, which she sinks into her Pyrokinesis power again to make it roll two dice as a base.

#RPG Fifth Fantasy: The Chancer – A gambling character class for 5e RELEASED!

gamblerBUY HERE

There are gamblers of all kinds across the many worlds, but a Chancer is something different. Lady Luck is not a god, she is something more and less, though she is embodied by and in many gods. Sometimes she reaches out and touches people with her blessing. For every unlucky person whose life is one of ruin and endless misfortune, there are others with blessed and lucky lives, raised or damned by her fickle favour.

Chancers are gamblers who have been touched by The Lady. Their abilities can be random and unpredictable, but their luck, itself, is predictable. Things tend to go right for them, not always, but often enough to make them, and those around them, supernaturally fortunate.

This book also contains gambling rules, magic items and equipment.

Having a Chancer in your party can easily mean the difference between success and failure and if you’re relying on luck, they’re essential.

Chancers are assets, making things easier not just for themselves but for everyone around them. The randomness of some of their special abilities can disrupt and disorder an otherwise ordered battlefield, usually to your benefit, sometimes to your detriment. They’re good in social situations and can raise money quickly, since they’re far more likely to win games of chance or bluff than anyone else. The trouble with that of course is that it makes enemies who don’t like being cheated.

Fifth Fantasy is intended to be a short series of alternative character classes, which are supposed to emulate the kinds of characters and roles found in classic JRPG and Anime games. As such they are most suited to high-magic games, and games which play up to the style of anime, manga and Japanese computer games.

No world is explicitly described, but the character class books will also contain magical items and some background material that will build an implicit setting – which may be detailed in the future.

You can keep up with Grim and Postmortem Studios in various ways…

Blog: https://postmortemstudios.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/grimachu
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PostmortemStudios/
G+: https://plus.google.com/+JamesGrimDesborough/posts
Buy Merchandise: http://www.cafepress.com/postmortmerch

Board & Card Games: https://www.thegamecrafter.com/designers/postmortem-studios

Hardcopy: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/grim1031

PDFs: http://www.rpgnow.com/browse/pub/384/Postmortem-Studios?affiliate_id=50144

And should you feel so inclined, you can support my work regularly with a Patreon donation. https://www.patreon.com/grimachu

ZelArt Scholarship Extension

145584Unbelievably, it appears that artists don’t like free money as there have been no applications for the Zelart Scholarship.

As such I am extending the application period until the end of February.

Here’s the cliff notes on how to apply:

  1. In order to apply you need to be in full-time education or to be in reduced circumstances (disabled, long term unemployed or in need of the money (around $600-700 at the moment) for a good reason.
  2. You need to submit a piece of artwork to be considered. Ideally this should be a new piece of art and it needs to be of publishable quality (at least 300dpi and at least A6 in size).
  3. Your artwork and your area of interest must be science fiction or fantasy, more broadly ‘genre’ fiction pieces are what is desired. That can include horror, post-apocalyptic and other sub-genres as well.
  4. The winning piece of artwork will be sold in future in order to help fund and perpetuate the scholarship.
  5. Send a query to grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk if you need more information.
  6. As and when you win you’ll need to be able to receive the money via Paypal.

The fundraiser appears to still be open for late donations. If you ARE an artist who wants to help you can also donate art for sale to help perpetuate the scholarship.

Once again, I ask any and al SF&F artists out there to help spread the word to art students and struggling artists everywhere. A few hundred dollars isn’t much but it’s enough to eat for a while, get art supplies, replace a broken tablet or tattoo gun and to make a difference.

If we continue to have no applications I will either roll the money over to next year, or find a deserving charity (perhaps the CBLDF) to donate to.