Chatting With Fiona Howat

Of possible interest if you enjoy me rambling: you can hear me doing it in a more verbal, slightly growly, managing-to-blank-on-Greg-Stafford's-name sort of way thanks to Fiona Howat at the What Am I Rolling podcast.

The emphasis is mainly on Risus: The Anything RPG and Uresia: Grave of Heaven, but with some fruitful wanderings into other matters roleplayerly. Fiona's graciousness shines through as clearly as my befuddled fogeyhood, I think. She GM'ed some Risus on her podcast this past December and this amounts to a kind of post-system followup, which I enjoyed a bunch!


Pointless Clicking: The Dark Side of Automation

A few days ago I posted this graphic over at DeviantArt. I mention in the post that it's a snap to make an effect like that into a single-click Photoshop action, which is true. What I didn't mention is that I do this habitually, even for effects (like this one) I don't actually need to automate or even intend to repeat. When I'm playing around in Photoshop, I smack the the Record button just in case it turns out interesting.

There is a dark, wicked, unfortunately evil-naughty side to handy Photoshop Actions: They are fun to pointlessly, endlessly play with in a way that is not actually a form of work. I can just feed any one-bit image to that Action and apply the same style to it, so ... I do. Pointlessly, for amusement. Click, click, click. This is why I call Photoshop one of my favorite videogames. When I'm not working in it, it's a time-suck. My alternative to matching three or tapping cartoon treasure-chests for explosions of gold coins:

Embiggening These Will Be Necessary.
The Line-Fill Effect is Too Fine to Show Clearly in the Thumbnails.

Works better for some test-cases than others! On that last one I'm fiddling with different fake spot-colors and, as noted in the DA post, this isn't really a Uresia look, just a side-effect of constantly browsing through old maps for research and/or funsies. But it occurs to me, it might be a good visual direction to explore for Fly From Evil when it comes time to do the San Francisco neighborhood maps.

But right now, it's just pointless clicking, because I'm simple-minded and easily amused. That's the dark side of automation for me ... but at least, when Photoshop is my videogame, time spent it can feed back into my actual work! Pointless play is how I learn most things in graphics software. 

Speaking of pointless: that was all. I didn't want to delete these test images without sharing them with someone; they're cute! Hope this finds you well; drop me a line if you're bored and want to talk Photoshop (or gaming, or any of the usual things).



One of the things I've been up to lately is archiving/mothballing projects that I'd had somewhere on the Maybe Burners for Cumberland, which never quite made it to the Back Burners.

For the most part, this process is a solemn series of document-flips, sighs, folder-compression and a final file-dunk into the "dead" archive discs instead of precious hard-drive space.

But, as you might suppose, I linger on some more than others. A Uresia mini-supplement called Gods of Gurlinghouse is one of those.

Gurlinghouse is one of those projects that I call "pre-finished," which means "finished enough for me to GM with it, but not nearly finished enough to send it to blindtesters." It's the level where a lot of projects stop, because if I can GM with it, that's all I'll personally ever need from it. To decide if a pre-finished item deserves the long hard production march to Finished Cumberland Games Title, I float little feelers in the directions of the fan-community. If they seem excited by it, I continue. If they seem indifferent, I take the hint and simply keep it as part of my own GMing arsenal.

Gurlinghouse teeters on the line. When I floated feelers on it, a couple of fans perked right up, while most registered no response. But more importantly, Gurlinghouse is probably going to be the basis of my next online runs in heaven's grave ... and that nudges the teetering a tiny bit.

Which means it hasn't been mothballed yet. It's just kind of sitting there in the Uresia Projects folder, daring me to finish it, or at least take it another layer deep into production. So, I'll ramble about it for a moment.

That's Gurlinghouse in the middle
(Old Gurling Manor, if we're being starchy)

The Very Short Version is that Gurlinghouse is an old town-manor on Shortshadow Street in Shadow River, and once upon a time it was owned by the Gurling family (cordage folk; hemp and jute; very knotty; ties to Boru; the jokes write themselves; etc), but then all the Gurlings were dead and the Duke made a gift of it to an elf he fancied. This elf – Tani Arrowspike – was so famously indelicate she once horked an entire ham across the Duke's dining-hall, so you can understand his ardor, I'm sure.

Tani turned the house into a delverclub, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a place where Overtly Player-Character-Types gather and give the neighborhood a slightly shadier name. This was many years ago (she was part of Grandma August's crew) and Gurlinghouse rages on, having housed multiple generations of ne'er-do-wells and always-do-wells and the muddy in-betweens.

So that's the boiled-down essence of what the Gods of Gurlinghouse mini-supplement would have been (or might be?): an exploration of this particular delverclub, with side-notes about delverclubs in general (just like Caravel did for caravels). It would also include a few notes on the neighbors (the alchemical gardens behind it, the massive Cordage Guild in front of it, Dredjer the Locksmith is just around the corner there, etc. It'd focus on a few colorful NPC-types, some adventure possibilities, some mysteries about the house, and of course a floorplan of the place. Probably in this style, approximately:

This isn't Gurlinghouse.
It's Rede Cottage, Dreed.

This map is from another (fully mothballed, fully cancelled) Uresia mini-supplement about Sindran Loreseekers, which included this zeroed-in look at one of their foreign chapterhouses, yadda-yadda. Like Gurlinghouse, Rede Cottage falls into the general (and useful) category of "houses where Player Characters can forward their mail when they're off galavanting." Gurlinghouse is a bit larger: three above-ground levels, two subterranean levels, and a rooftop terrace ... but same general idea, a home base for a campaign.

The reason I have a mostly-finished map of Rede Cottage is the same reason I'll soon have a mostly-finished map of Gurlinghouse: despite the Cumberland book being shelved, I'll be needing a player handout for my own gaming purposes.

Inevitably, if pathetically, I can't help but wonder if Gurlinghouse perks any additional eyebrows nowadays. If not, I've got enough on my project-plate and I'll just take it from "pre-finished" to "pre-finished plus handout map for the players." But if so, let me know? Either way, it's always nice to hear from Uresia gamers. Hope this finds you all well.