Sunday, May 12, 2024

The Basquiat Tarot v1.3

A few weeks ago, the Satrap of Saturn mentioned seeing a couple of stickers of Basquiat paintings and thinking for a moment that they were Tarot cards.  I started looking through some of his paintings online, and soon found that many of his images actually matched up pretty nicely to the Major Arcana.  I put together a deck and shared it with a bunch of friends and acquaintances, and they seemed to get a kick out of it.  I've always liked Basquiat's work, though it's been a while since I looked at it.  It struck me that there were stylistic similarities to the work of one of my favorite OSR artists, Scrap Princess.

Anyway, I've been messing with it and trying to improve it a bit for the last few weeks and I thought I would put it up here.  If anyone can figure out how to edit Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump so it fits a card without excising major parts of it, it would make a near-perfect Fool, so let me know! In any case, feel free to use the cards as an Artpunk Deck of Many Things if you have a campaign you need to end in a hurry.

Here is a PDF of all the images if you prefer that.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

RIP Steve Albini 1962 - 2024

The most destructive thing a musician can do is start worrying about whether or not other people will like the music. Fuck other people. They're not in the band. Just make music that stimulates you and don't second-guess yourself. 
- Steve Albini

Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Moon is a Sorcerer - Effects of Lunar Light or Lack Thereof

"At the end of the lunar cycle there are two or three nights of complete darkness, called the kamwonag’anga “the one seen by the practitioner.”  Only those with a ken extended through the knowledge and use of magical medicines can see the moon then; it is “there” but “invisible” to ordinary folk.  The moon is a “sorcerer” at this time, using its own remarkable powers to effect passage from the eastern horizon where its last sliver was observed to the western where the new moon will appear.  Fish and game may be seen in extraordinary numbers during these days of tenebrous nights, but as one man said, “the moon is a great sorcerer, he is bad, he closes the game and fish and prevents us people from catching them.”  What is more, lions and other dangerous beasts “wander about excessively” then.  Moonlight is auspicious and the personified moon “beneficent,” showing man his path through the woods.  For a few days, however, the moon is a “sorcerer” and denies man “his” light and the fish and game so tantalizingly, so tauntingly placed before him." - Perfect Lions, Perfect Leaders by Allen F. Roberts


The moon is a sorcerer ... when I first read the passage above, this phrase captured my imagination.  What does the moon do when he is a sorcerer?  What does he want?  Many cultures seem to have associations with moonlight and madness, but what about the lack of moonlight?  The time when the moon is invisible, when he is teleporting.  What is it like to be a practitioner of the art, one who is attuned to the moonlight and what it shows?  Roll a d8 or chose one of the effects below depending on the phase of the moon.


  1. The moon becomes a giant eye that stares incessantly at the party no matter where they go. Practitioners of sorcery are aware of this. Before announcing this effect, have all players who can use magic give you a taboo of some kind. Then reveal that the moon is watching them and they know they will be severely punished if they break these taboos or allow anyone they associate with to do so.  Follow through if needs be.
  2. Invisible beings are sometimes caught in a moonbeam; they are easier for a mage to see.
  3. One magic-using PC becomes maniacally obsessed with silver. They will go to great lengths to obtain silver that they see and take risks to acquire it – consider temporarily changing their alignment with regards to silver to Chaotic Evil (perhaps borrowing from Dark Sun’s water rules). They may steal from NPCs and even PCs if they think they can do it without being caught. If they have a silver weapon they will use this over all others; if they don’t have one, they will try to acquire one, etc.
  4. The full moon descends to the planet and chases those who use magic.  If they are caught they are utterly destroyed.  The specifics of this (how big the moon is when it comes to the planet, how fast, if there is a way to defeat it and how, etc) are left to the ref.
  5. The party becomes lost. Somehow they wind up in an area they cannot recall getting to – a place that is disconnected from the area they have explored. They recall walking along feeling slightly hypnotized, just putting one foot in front of another and following the person in front of them, not paying attention, lost in their own thoughts as they plod along, but suddenly all of them realize they are somewhere they have not been before, and they stop and look at each other – “I was following you.” “But I was following you!” In truth whoever was first in the marching order was following the moon.
  6. The moon takes a piece of gear from all magic using characters in trade for its light. This piece of gear simply vanishes.
  7. This moonlight, which is only visible to practitioners of sorcery, is attracted to particular people and “sticks” to them, so that they are illuminated with a soft glow for the duration of the night. They are easier to hit with missile weapons (+2 on rolls to hit) but shed light as the spell in a 30 foot radius. This is not dispel-able and is not affected by anti-magic etc. Roll some percentage for party members as well as those the party encounters to determine if the light is attracted to them in this way (or just determine it arbitrarily).
  8. Sorcerers are able to see future events; one party member is selected and can ask the ref for the likely effects of a particular action once in the time from sunset to sunrise.


  1. Under the strange light of the gibbous moon, the PCs look, sound, and act …. Different. Players swap charisma scores in some randomly determined way.
  2. Sorcerers can see the strange marks which appear on a PCs skin when it is viewed under the moonlight. This could be a message of some kind, or it could be Aklo or written Theolal or a map or it could be nothing at all, just a strange patten caused by the PC resting their flesh against something. The marks may or may not be permanent.
  3. The moonlight makes an object “come to life” – it becomes animate, conscious and able to speak, have opinions, etc. The animating force dissipates when the sun rises. This object is only animate to those with the power to see.
  4. Sorcerers are more conscious of ambushes and the light makes them easier to see. The party is surprised half as much as is usual, and, if an enemy party has a magic user, the party surprises them half as much as usual.
  5. A single time during the gaming session, a single PC sorcerer is able to detect ALL of the traps and tricks within sight range as they are revealed in the gibbous light (note the moonlight must shine upon these things in order to reveal them). If this ability is not used, it fades with the sunrise.
  6. A ghost follows the party around for the night, visible to those with the power to use magic; it isn’t a “monster” as such, and can only impact the material world with much mental effort, and even then the effects are subtle. It might be able to whisper a word in a PC’s ear, or distract them at an inopportune moment. It has very limited poltergeist abilities – it cannot move anything heavier than a pound / half a kilogram. But it could potentially latch or unlatch a lock, or otherwise help or interfere with the PCs. The Ref can determine if this ghost is from someone the PCs encountered in the past – but it does not have to be.
  7. Animals are inexplicably friendly towards the party, even those who might otherwise attack them or run from them.
  8. If they concentrate, sorcerers are able to see through barriers such as walls if they are thin enough. “Thin enough” is whatever the ref says it is.


  1. The moon affects the value of coins. Roll a d4 – on a 1 or 2, they are worth only 50% as much as normal; on a 3 or 4, they are worth 150%. The value of the coins goes back to normal at sunrise, and the change is not obvious to the PCs; it only comes into play if they decide to buy something that evening.
  2. At precisely midnight, time stops for everything and one except one random magic using PCs. This lasts for ten minutes, then time resumes its normal flow.
  3. PCs feel hypnotized and possessed, as though an intrusive alien presence is influencing their actions. Players swap character sheets and play a different character until sunrise.
  4. All written material becomes unintelligible to sorcerers under the light of the half moon.
  5. Magic-using PCs become two dimensional for the night and are thus able to fit into the thinnest of cracks – they can thus slide under doors, into cave crevices, etc. However, they are incredibly ineffective combatants when two dimensional, since they have to adjust the angle of their attack in ways not at all familiar to them, and completely whiff three quarters of the time or more.
  6. Spells fail a quarter of the time, and another quarter of the time they are twice as potent (in terms of effect, duration, etc).
  7. There is an unusual and colorful indicator of the party’s route for the night. For example, butterflies that glow with moonlight follow the party wherever they go, or small black flowers sprout where they have stepped.
  8. A mage can see the true nature of the world under the light of this moon. Such a reality is crippling, throwing the PC into an existential crisis. They are either paralyzed with the utter meaninglessness of it all (50%) or they suddenly see no sense in the survival instinct and will hurl themselves into danger no matter how foolhardy (50%).


  1. This light rubs against blades borne by obeah-men and practitioners and sharpens them until they will cut light.  Up to the ref if they implement this as a damage bonus or in a more narrative way.
  2. Normally docile animals become aggressive towards mages, who are attacked by possums, or racoons, or deer, or domestic cats, etc.
  3. The radiance of the moon makes one randomly chosen PC magic user recognized and adored by nearly all NPCs. They are famous and largely admired, though no one they speak with can tell them exactly why. A few NPCs might loathe the character and party, again for undiscernible reasons. In any event, they will be recognized, and an NPC might start conversing with them by saying, “oh my god, it’s YOU!” or “oh, it’s you.”
  4. The light reveals vulnerabilities to the mage. The threat range of their critical hits is doubled.
  5. The thin light of the crescent moon is surprisingly heavy – sorcerers are unable to stand, and may only crawl about on all fours until the sun rises.
  6. Sorcerers are unable to heal while exposed to direct moonlight.
  7. Invisible creatures are fully visible to mages. Visible creatures are invisible.
  8. Any magic user who is under the effects of extreme stress (including combat) has a ten percent chance to begin randomly teleporting once per round (DM could use blink spell or something else as they prefer).


  1. This moonlight is nonexistent and thus mages no longer need to use their muscles to hold up the light of the moon. They can use this muscle power for other purposes – refs could give a small bonus to overall STR for the night or allow a PC to complete some feat of str successfully once, even if it seems unlikely.
  2. Sorcerers in the party are unable to see attackers. These are not invisible. It is just that the PCs cannot see them; they are hidden by the sorcerer moon.
  3. A mage is able to see lies under the dark clouds of the new moon.  What these look like (and what they might be able to do) is up to the ref.
  4. Dead sorcerers left under the empty night sky from dusk until dawn are resurrected at sunrise.
  5. An important mage (PC or NPC) disappears and is nowhere to be found until a sliver of the moon is visible again.
  6. The Gods are paying attention. Calls for divine intervention are twice as likely to be successful, and sometimes a god may be called even inadvertently by using their name.
  7. From dusk until dawn, sorcerers are able to speak fluently with the dead.
  8. Sorcerers can see secrets. Magic using PCs pick another player and state something general their character suspects of that player’s character. This turns out to be true in some way, though it may not be in an obvious or expected way. For example, Player A may say “Character A suspects that Character B is not who he seems to be.” It is then up to Player B to make that true through play; perhaps player B’s character is secretly in league with forces opposed to the party, or perhaps they are a permanently shapechanged animal in human form, or are, unwittingly, the prince or king of some obscure principality even though they are currently a pauper and vagabond.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

The Death Guard - All Hail the NEW LIFE!

The Day of Resurrection is upon us!  The smallest and meekest among us, the humble single cell organisms, the bacteria and the virus, they are the INHERITORS!  Let them rise and multiply!  WOE unto he who interferes with them!  WOE!

I have been working on a 40k Death Guard army.  Given the wide range of models and opportunities for kit bashing, I wanted to try to do an army where each model was unique.  I haven't quite managed it in terms of sculpts - some of the Poxwalkers and chaos cultists are duplicate sculpts - but where there have been dupe sculpts I've done my best to ensure the paintjob distinguishes them from each other.

I am not a great painter and I am absolute SHIT at sculpting.  But much of mini painting is more about learning technique rather than being a talented artist.  I am always amazed when I see truly good work, and it makes me wish I was that good - but I will also say that knowing a few simple techniques like washing, drybrushing, and highlighting can go a long way towards making models look passable, and the more you do something, the better you get at it, even if you don't have a ton of natural talent (which, clearly, I don't).  I think it's enough to just enjoy the process.  Mini painting is one of those things that induces flow state in me - the world just drops away, I forget how anxious everything makes me when I think about things at the macro level, and all I am focused on is this one little model, right here and right now.  That alone makes the practice worthwhile for me.


First up, the Poxwalkers.  Dark Imperium came with two sprues of 15 that are duped, so I had to distinguish them with paint.  I also grabbed a box of the old Warhammer fantasy battle Zombies and did my best to convert some of those for a total of 40 walkers.


Two Foetid Bloat-drones.  I'll probably do one more of these and a Greater Blight Drone before I am done.

A Mephitic Blighthauler - I want three of these guys.  There is only a single sculpt, so I am going to do some conversion work, replacing the circles and tri-arrow design with a different Nurgle symbol from the Blightkings kit on one of them, and using a faceplate from the Bloat-drones for another.


A Daemon Prince.  It's hard to get this guy to look anything except goofy.  I think he turned out OK.


A Helbrute, the first of at least a pair.


A Plagueburst Crawler, hopefully I'll do one more of these and then a Land Raider or a Spartan.


Two Noxious Blightbringers, another conversion using the Blightkings and some Chaos Space Marine bits if I remember right.


Leaders - a Lord of Contagion and below him, Typhus, Captain of the Terminus Est


Various support units.  From top to bottom: Malignant Plaguecaster, Plague Surgeon, Tallyman, Foul Blightspawn, Biologis Putrifier


Many, many Plague Marines.  Each one of these guys is a unique sculpt.  I did a lot of conversion using the Putrid Blightkings set - the Death Guard armor is so unique that you can get away with more medieval looking plate mail as power armor.

The dude below with the fly head and flanked by the two icon bearers is definitely Chosen of Nurgle.  Maybe at some point he will be elevated by Grandfather Ruin to Daemon Princehood and challenge the current master of the warband for supremacy.

I am in love with the cheeky Nurgling wearing a helmet below.


Deathshroud Terminators

Blightlord Terminators


Works in progress - some additional Blightlord Terminators and a converted Lord of Virulence (the dude with the fly head).  A second Mephitic Blighthauler - I have a couple of Nurgle symbols from various kits and I am planning on scraping off the one that is on him and replacing it with a shield from the Putrid Blightkings set to make it unique.  Last, a humble Rhino that is in the painting stage.

The chaos cultists are not pictured - I also have a Mortarion to build (or possibly cannibalize for a converted Daemon Prince using Vashtorr - an idea I rather like) and a few other models that don't quite qualify for even WIP photos, but the rest of the army is captured in photos below.

That's it for now - I'll post more of these guys once I finish the second wave, whenever that is!