Sunday, July 30, 2017

I must have been a horrible person... a previous life, because it just keeps happening like this.

I finally got some of the interior art done for Sholari v2n1. I have have holding off because I know there are much better artist, and I consider myself a 'concept man'. I write. I wanted to be a comic book artist when I was 14, but only occasionally do any art at all.

But I forced myself to do some art, liberally cribbed off a Miles Teves.

And then I went to scan them.

Apple just upgraded its operating system (now 10.12.6) and the scanner I used two weeks ago to do some scans no longer scans. And it is not just the Preview program from Apple, the import into Photoshop is also blocked. And the new upgrade for my Epson Artisan 725 is not available. The answer for any problem with Apple is "You should buy a new printer". That is the same ploy Microsoft used around 1994 where every upgraded required new hardware and/or paid software upgrades. But that is all just an amazing coincidence, I'm sure.

So I did some quick and dirty scans with an iPhone app called Scanbot, which does a really good job on small print documents. I feel like a 1960s spy every time I use it. So I got some scans that could be used in a pinch (after a good deal of photoshopping). Oh well.

I have to grimey up some computer art to make it look like wasn't drawn on a comptuer (a floor plan for a wrecked Lamorri spaceship, and the ebbijarkis (those with some Shanthic language chosps might be able to figure what that is - or who have been paying attention.

Two muadra NPCs, the original Somar, and a forest thriddle... progress. But I want to get them properly scanned.

And where do you run where the prairie is on fire?

Friday, July 28, 2017

Adjusting to Reality (Never my strong suit)

Map for the two Temauntro adventures is Sholari v2n1
Well, it is clear that the books I hoped to have up for sale in July will not get up until August. At least.

THE SONG OF ORPHANS, my science fantasy novel from 1977, was going to go up on but I have run into repeated problems with the cover, using the templates from Ingrham, their POD company. And somehow a hardcover version is on the sales system and I never set up a hardcover. So - THAT has to be put together.

SHOLARI MAGAZINE, Volume 2, Number 1, all the material is in except 4 pieces of art - and the cover shoudl be done this week, but it will still be August before it rolls. 

The collected versions of BORKELBY'S FOLLY, DANSTEAD TRAVELLER, and JORUNE ACCORDING TO SHOLARI JAMES are at a standstill from a complete lack of communications from the original editors (on the last two) and two contributors fro the first. Frozen until we get clarification - or pull certain articles from the re-released collection. Which is weird because over the past year Andrew has been pretty good about responding and chatting. Which is nice.

GOMO GUIDE: TAN IRICID was not planned for July, but I am hoping for September. The material has piled up over the years and it has jelled quickly. A good deal of secret history involved. 

THE ANGEL OF DRAIL is also coalescing nicely for a fall release. As is GOMO GUIDE: PONTEER
I hope to have six items out by the end of the year, down from the original plan of ten, but after the long drought, six would be good. I have a serious campaign gearing up for 2018, and the of SHOLARI, v2n2
People who stop communicating has been a problem throughout the history of Jorune. Don't know what it is, but it is a pattern. My biggest problem is art. Art art art. 

No - let me correct that. My biggest problem is my expectations. I confuse people saying that they want to do something, or that they are going to do something, with someone actually DOING that thing. That is not just a problem with Jorune - it has been a cultural problem that has gotten worse over the past few decades. 

And i don't have the power to change that. 

(I made the mistake of trying to copy a post from Facebook to the blog and it suddenly had 4 to 6 carriage retruns for every one in the post. Ah, the wonders of Facebook code. So I retyped this and hope it does NOT repeat this time.)

99% there

A few edits still to come, but art by Steve DeVaney. But it's 99% completed
Cover from artist Steve Devaney. The 4500 year old monument to The Desti, hero of the Shanthic expulsion of the Lamorri from Jorune and inventor of the tlosk. If you are new to Skyrealms of Jorune, that should be enough to short circuit your English oriented brain.

I really like it. This is the front and back cover with no typography. We are talking about selling it as a poster.

If you think it's worth sharing, can I ask you to share it with other Jorunis, whereever they may be.

I really do feel more comfortable posting things to the blog and only annoying people who have already made the conscious decisions to be updated.

Steve and I are talking about him doing the next two covers for Sholari. I am not opposed.

If you look very, very closely, you will see a pair of pilgrms on the rope bridge connecting the monument to the rim of the crater which was also the cause of the need for the manument. Long story, that.

And I'm starting to tell it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

That'll do.

Jamie Cromwell passed. He was, among other things, the farmer who said "That'll do, pig." in Babe. Loved him. Loved the movie.

Art by Joe Department. I do not like my work - I would prefer that it be done by a real artist. But I can accept this. Mummified head of a Lamorri for the rework of The Somar, appearing in Sholari Magazine, volume 2, number 1. Did two other pieces I do not like at all, so I'm working on those, and the rest of what is required, today.

But, just holding up the art pad, it's a little dim, but the Lamorri is there. Think - "Ramian with 200% the brain case, and about 50% larger than a Ramian head..." and then go poot. As tall as a Corastin, smarter than a Ramian... might eat a Thriddle. Poot.

It will look better in the publication. Black and white.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Moving Closer

It's getting closer. Art. Art is the hangup.

One of the things I want to see with Sholari, Volume 2, will be strange and foreign. Stability. I would like to see the same logo on at least three issues - the three we have planned and which are getting real.

So I got the next-to-final of the art for the wrap around cover by Steve Devaney (beautiful wrap-around artwork based on an ancient shanthic monument - at dawn) and I was trying to settle on a real logotype. I had one that I really liked based on the old Jungle comics logo, but that was really out of line with Steve's art. So I am looking at a variant of that for the new GOMO GUIDE series. Each of the three issues published in the 1990s were kind of a surprise. Two were "Church Bulletin" format - 8 1/2 x 14, folded in half. One was docu-tech, a new technology that predated Print-on-Demand, and published as US Letter standard - 11 x 17, folded.

Sholari Magazine Volume 2 will be Print on Demand US Letter format, and I would like them to look like they belong together.

I want a logotype with some visual feel of real handwork, like the original Miles Teves handbrush technique (which I converted to a .ttf font for experiments), but ... no the same. So after a number of attempt, I came up with...
The font is one of the new style of retro with swash. Readable, aged, looks like someone spent some time on it with the intent of it being around for a while.

This does not come from nowhere. I have been doing some tracking of Jorune for tech levels and culture, which included the revelation of Thriddle of Earth 19th Century mass publication with powered presses (water power, but Jorune may be reaching the point where steam is a consideration). Thriddle have produced books on a more 17th Century level of carved block pages used for mass production, and distribution to limited 'subscribers'. A new cermamic-plate process where a slip is poured into the mold created from a very doable handset type (do some web search for "California Case" and "Proofing Press"), but revelations from one of the unearthed Cryo-Bins would have included whole libraries of information, including ways to read them. This was follow by long, Thriddle analysis of transfer into their own libraries (with the control of what is or is not included), indexed, and then shared on a restricted method (such as the libraries of the "initiated" in the more secret circles of Tan Iricid, like the Black Hall, and the pledged servants of the Somar). A cheap process of printing and some new types of cheap paper resulted in an explosion of cheap reading material, which boosted pride in getting new information through reading as a reliable technology, and the financial opporunities of cheap publications. A 'pulp' explosion of popular, trashy literature that went to feed the imagination of the newly educated, the backlash of the long educated classes, and the hidden information that is real hidden among the dross.

For me the whole idea began with British "boys papers" of the 1960s, my own interest in pulp era publications, and the offhand comment of Chris Williams, publisher of VERTEXT magazine, during a Jorune game. He quipped about the adventures of "Slam Desti, Boy Yord" and my brain was off and running. That was in the 1990s and resulted in the concept of cheap entertainment: Slam Desti, Pibber Man, Copra Denn, and Allidoth Confidential. Pulpish, noir, comic book, big little books...

So that tone has shaped my idea for published Jorune. I have continued my own autodidactic studies on publishing and technology histories, particularly on how they effected 20th Century popular publications. Which is where I lived.

Jorune to me has harmonics with various stages of Earth world history. They are experience an expansion based on old technologies effecting modern political thought that would be like the period just before the "discovery of the New World" (I have so many problems with that phrase, but let's let that go at the moment). Before the opening of incredible new reserves of resources, labor, and space, which created what we call the Modern Age.

So my design for Jorune tends to echo previous eras, but also reflect a much large context of the Marshal McLuhan idea that "The Medium Is The Message". The information, and the way it is delivered, reflects the cultures, education levels, fears, and political aspirations of the age.

So I would like the new Sholari, the Gomo Guides, and the Sholari Adventure Kits to reflect that. They will NOT all look the same. But I would like some stability in the presentation.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

NPC and Characters for ORFA

Imperfect though it may be, ORFA is the evoluion of a d20 based gaming system that actually works for Jorune. It is not intended to be the ultimate Jorune gaming experience - it is intended to allow a Sholari to get people new to Jorune into the skin of the player races and out onto the surface to deal with the races, the cultures, the history, the threats, the animals, and the intrigues of one of my Top Three adventures worlds. The first is Barsoom (Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars), Tchai (Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure), then Jorune (or Sho Caudal, as it is called by the natives and most of the immigrant races).

Most important, ORFA is not a "Product". There is no ORFA Core Book to buy. It will be a free ORFA Jorune download and each published scenario or article with characters will have those characters fully generated and available. This means in Sholari Magazine, any of the Sholari Adventure Kits, or other possible publications. We hope to follow with other settings adapted to ORFA (hopefully an ORFA Pulp and an ORFA SciFi or two).

ORFA was started as Jorune 3.5 for my personal games (and those people put up with a LOT). The idea was to reduce the drama around clunky exchanged, create fun character genreation, and speed up combat. For a while it was called Oracle System for a while, and that survives in the Sholari's all purpose fortune telling Die Roll–the Oracle Die. Someone, I wish I cold remember who, made a comment about On Roll Fits All as the name this system. But they were right. 

We found a single roll could not only answer the Yes/No of simple success, but the Quality of Success could be measured with the point difference between target and role, or between combatants in real inter-character combat. The basic system was for four zones with a fifth for the special effect of the setting - which in Jorune is "Isho". Some races have modifiers that effect every roll on a stat.

It is the beneficiary of attempts to use other systems. For example, the D6 System of "plusses" to basic rolls helped shape the ORFA +1-+4. The Fuzion Skill+Stat formula found its way in, and we began to see places where more than one skill within a Stat tree could be applied to the roll. Another set of experiences with web RPG systems gave us the idea of "Factors" for weapons - Weapons doing increased damages for groups of points in the Quality of Success

But the best success was with Combat. Our Combat scenes were getting close to real time. Players knew the modifiers for their characters from previous attempts, the basics of Stat+Skill(s)+Modifers for the Target Numbers became easier to identified. The weapon factor was applied faster and faster.

We got to a rhythm of "Scene Description" "Initiative" "Statement of Intent", "Roll" with all modifiers, Success/Failure Quality of Success, applied Factors to damage, Next Action – IF the combat continued.

We found the combination of stupid choices with bad rolls could kill someone in one roll, which tallied with what we saw in the world where an inexperienced loony with a weapon and kill someone who would be thought of as a master with the right intent, the Stat+Skill(s)+Mods for the target number, Luck a good Roll, a good Degree of Succes, and the right Factor for a weapon (in the right Hit Location). Combat was deadly, not a macho shouting match. The player's liked that.

I used the earliest drafts of ORFA in my last games in California, Colorado, then back in California again. A couple of Sholaris ran ORFA Jorune in some conventions and sent me valuable feedback.

When Jorune raised its head again, it was time to also look at ORFA and present it in a simple presentation. We eliminated the difference between NPCs or full Characters. Any character could be picked up and played. We wanted options for features some people liked, and others could do without. Options like methods Initiative, multiple paths for Character Improvement, etc. 

In Sholari, Volume 2, Number 1 there are two articles involving characters. In ORFA there is no difference between a Player Character and an NPC. This means any NPC could be picked up and played running this character. 
I have a piece of Miles' art that is too big for my scanner. So I scanned it in halves (approximately) and stitched them together.

He was changing his style to deal with the demands of Hollywood for clean design sketches that would be turned into paintings or sets or prosthetics or maquettes. The result was very clean and gym-muscled characters that are more like Richard Corbin underground comics than what I think of as Miles Teves art.

But it is interesting to see. I know there is a narrative in the scene and will need to search to find it.

It's still a nifty piece of art.
Previously unpublished Miles Teves Jorune
Lack of comment is the best way to shut me up. I'm posting less frequently here. The silence was what made me stop doing Jorune for years. Maybe I'm expecting too much.

I am committed to getting three more pieces out, then will see if there is enough of an audience to do the others.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Dancing with Art

Teves Beagre sketch. Nasty rats.
Dealing with raw art is a dance.

Several years ago I received a surprise package of original art from Miles Teves. Some of it was familiar pictures from the previously published game support. Some of it was just sketches in various stages of completion. I hope to take some of the sketch work and bring it into the new publications. I have already taken some previously seen art and mix it with unpublished sketches to make new pieces of art.

Tarrro Holder
But as an artist I appreciate seeing sketchwork. It shows me the artist mind in action in determining what to present, how to present it. Things may be tried that don't work out. One of Miles pictures show a huge Tarro on the outstretched arm of a man, possibly a Muadra, which would be like a normal sized human. holding a hundred pound chimpanzee on his wrist at a right angle from his body. 

If you look at the blueline for the collage, you might notice him - flipped, smaller Tarro on the opposite arm. Tambo hissing at a companion's pet (Reco A). Thse figurtes all come from Miles sketches, except for the squatting Bronth, which is from a frequently published image with a bronth and human, backed by a thombo.

Blueline for Collage
There art is very light so it does not reproduce well. But I took that part, shrank the tarro to a more manageable size, and incorporated it into a collage using a bunch of other characters. I think it works well for a Jorunish 'team', which will always bee a good call for the future adventure and resource books. 

There are already a bunch of sketches that will be easy to place, others that may only serve to show someone else how Miles thought this particular creature should be presented. Which is always helpful.

On "blueline" - it is a technique where the pencil drawing is in blue, and then it is inked with black ink. When photographed or scanned for reproduction, the blue drops away so you only see the black lines. I'll be using that that technique for a lot of illustrations that draw from older images from Miles or other sources. It should invite people to see a story - I classify myself as a competent artist, not an inspired one.

Scrade, of which, more later.
There are other pencil sketches that are just regular gaming figures with no reference to Jorune at all. I may be presenting some of those, too. 

But I'm looking to expand the perception of Jorune beyond the Renaissance mind in writing and art. There are snooty places, like Thantis and the international district of Thoneport in Thantier. There are bizarre landscaps the speak to major tragedies in the not too distant past of Jorune, and there are locations that could just be explored by anyone with a desire to break free some treasure for their character. Robert Smith did a good job of bringing a different eye to Jorune, Marc Debidour, a new French artist joining the ranks of Jorune artist has a style much more associated with children's book illustration. I think it is a legitimate style to tell the story. Others may not.

Since I treat Jorune as Dreamtime, it is a place I like to go and look around. Sometimes I have to use the artists eyes to see the place that has previously only existed in my brain. People may not agree with my choices of art, but my primary interest is in seeing the planet through new eyes. I may not agree, but even so, my eyes get opened wider through the eyes of the artists. The debt Jorune owes to Miles is enormous, but it is not the only way to see things Jorune.  

Hope hope people will hold on through the heretical eyes of strangers. 
A miles ketch Tologra - my favorite of the new scans. Found the original and put it to work.

The Lost Is Found

The stitched scans, still all dirty doo doo crap.
When I was originally working up notes for a story set in Auklin (planned for release in Sholari v2n3) I did a "sketch" - a blueline pencil sketch that I had started to in with a girl in the thombo cart bring her produce to town down from the mountains above the lake with a Corastin friend. It was fun to do, but then it was lost. That was in California, 1994 or so. Then I moved to Colorado. Then back to California. Several addresses in California and then back to Colorado. Called it quits in Colorado and moved to North Carolina. I've been at the same address since the summer of 2005. Around the winter of 2010 my shed behind the house rotted through and water (and lots of it) got into to my books, magazines, original art, and more.

It thought it was all lost.

After some Photoshop time. I can accept this.
But while going through art this weekend I found it. Very surprised because it was in with original Miles art, and my original Miles art gets respected and protected.

But it was messed up. Age. Torn. Stained. Dirty.

And it was too large to scan in one go, so I scanned it more than once and tweaked it to the point where I might be able to use it.

I have some Photoshop skills.

And I guess Cedars of Lebanon survived on Jorune. Or something amazingly similar.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Moonslight and The Words

I talked an artist into working with me and he seems less than thrilled about working with me again. But he gave me a bunch of drawing that I did not use in the reboot of GOMO GUIDE: THONEPORT. And a couple that were - underutilized. Like this picture, which I used in the collage that became the cover, but it continues to appeal to me in its raw form.

The moonlights scene - Night of many moons on Sho Caudal.
This to me is like a well composed scene from a 1930s black and white film, rich in the grayscales, the composition, and the lamps of a great studio trying to similat the light of more than one moon. I can see the blue wash of Shal above and behind to the left, the brilliance of full Tra forward and overhead, and probably the dul amber wash of Gobey setting to the far distance left ahead. The blue skin of Salu would almost glow in blue light, and the washes of white and amber/brown would just give it all a sense of artistic fiction.

I think I may grow this and tweak the grayscale version, but really I want to paint it, which would mean Photoshop paint. Not brushes on canvas, or in my case, masonite.

World of Comic Art
Art is loathe to die in me. Today I was searching for specfic origihnal pieces by Miles, and in that search I found some of my old drawings. I think writing was the right way to go. But when I was younger, I wanted to be a cartoonist. A woman most of you will never have heard of. Dorothy McGreal. I knew her because of her sons, who were into comic books. We looked at doing a comic book together - I was an old man of 13 at the time, and it was a question of who should write, who should pencil, and who should judge that. Well, Mrs. McGreal was also a publisher - The World of Comic Art, the first slick paper serious magazine devoted to comics - newspaper strips priarily. (I had a copy, but it was lost in the great shed failure through storms - long story, but aren't they all). We each did a couple of pages as artist, inker, and writer. her sons became penciler and inker, and I was told I should write.
I thought I still had a page from my 1963 "audition" with Mrs. McGreals sons, but it is lost. 

I worked on an idea for LA Comics back around 1971 in the L.A. Underground comics scene. They had three primary titles - LA Comics, Mickey Rat, and Mutants of Metropolis. Again, my writing was invited in and my art - feh. I wanted to be a cartoonist/comic book artist and did that kind of work for a while. Never made a splash and it was only my writing that anyone used. But I think my appreciation of Robert's art come my frustration of my own artist identity. 

But Mrs. McGreal was serious in her mentoring. A couple of afternoons when her sons were off doing things elsewhere, she called me over and we sat at the little table in her front room and she talked to be about writing. it wasn't profound, but it was the first time I had heard the ideas. And it stuck. Ideas like "have something of your own to say", and "make sure there is a reason we are seeing this day in your character's life, tell us why it is important that we know". The first time they are profound.

Because of Mrs. McGreal, I started focusing on writing and my English teachers noticed. They were encouraging. And I had been cartooning for the first school paper (Leuzinger in Lawndale, CA) but they started asking me to write. I did humor, I did reporting and started getting interested in journalism. I was part of the "underground press" scene from about 1966, when I was a thorn in the side of Inglewood High, to 1972, when I started with underground radio and Pacifica. From the newsroom at Pacifica I became on air satire performer and writer, and from there to radio drama as writer and director and long form prose, and from that to stage as playwright and director. And late in life (or late-er) it was words that brought me to role playing and writing for Jorune.

And that tone of Journalism has carried over to Jorune. I try to be a Reporter with a tiny warp where I can see that world and have to try to report it to the rest of this planet. And my subconscious works on it, so that I get fully digested chunks in my sleep, which come to through to me as dictation from another world, just be fore I wake. I do a dream journal with Evernote and recording on my iPhone, and most of what is coming out in Return to Jorune is a result of that process.

I guess Mrs. McGreal is to blame or be credited with all that. I have a real soft spot in my heart for her.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

I've been finishing several projects to get up for sale, two fo which are Jorune. One just regular science fiction.

But I've bene distracted because of money crap.

I've been wondering if anyone would have an interest in a private doc with my notes. A lot of my stuff will be including over the next year, but I have a lot of notes that haven't been whipped into final shape yet. But... I was thinking of about 150 pages of notes, maps, and such...

Just a thought. Like $10 for a private PDF. Other solutions would be a better idea, but that's what I came up with so far.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Ingredients for
Scars of Far Temauntro
In the background I do other things. I'm redoing the write-up of radio theater as a do-it-yourself project as part of a writer's retreat in a ghost town in Colorado. And I just finished an additional article for Sholari, Volume 2, Number 1 - "The Measure of Jorune" which includes weight, time, distance, and comparative calendars, which was drawn from one of my secret projects in the background - a Grand Unified Timeline for Jorune drawn from internet essays, White Wolfe essays, notes from Andrew, Sholari James and my own secret notes.

In the process I've been working on the detail from the Human Shanthic War, which was amazingly brief. This is the story of Iscin and Bomoveris, who knew each other before the war as leaders on opposite sides of factions answering the question "Now that Earth is gone, how do we live on Jorune?" The detailing goes from the last word from Jorune, the missed supply missions, and the expansion of humans into lands the Shantha did not agree humans could enter. And why there are places humans which were not to enter.

It's been interesting and I wish I had permission to do a real novel with real licensing, but it is satisfying. The background for the development of Iscin races and the reality of living alone as "the last man on Jorune" (so far as he knew) and then surrounded by Blount, Crugar, Bronth, Woffen and Tologra children. And a human shows up - someone he didn't like in the pre-war life.   "Forgive and forget, we're together now... "

But, it didn't turn out that way.

Iscin's labe from ALIEN LOGIC game.
I'm going to be writing a rough scene next, and the format is detailed timeline, so...
I'm thinking it will go into Sholari v2 n2. Maybe. Probably.

So, I just saw the semi-final render on the 3d scene that will be the foundatioin fo the cover painting for the cover... and I want to share that, but it will take away the fun of seeing it for the first time.