Building the Doom Gong Arch!

Last February Joseph Goodman asked me if I could build a holder for a gong. He wanted a gong to hit every time a PC died in the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG tournament at Gen Con 50. I had fabricated the hardware for the large three sided banners which hang over the DCC booth the previous year and I guess that made Joseph think I’d be up to the task. What he didn’t know was that I worked in an amusement park art, sculpture, and sign shop as the assistant park artist for five years as a teenager. So I said yes and got to work.

IMG_20170706_144521385

First, we needed to find a gong. Gong’s are expensive. I showed Joe a few gongs I had found online and he did his own research and three months later a huge 28″ brass gong arrived on my front porch.

IMG_20170707_092103017

That was a lot of time gone by with no work on this project. I was itching to get it done, but my wife went to school in Europe for month and I was a single parent for all of June and again nothing was done.

Welcome to July and I really needed to start work on this thing. I knew what I was going to do though, I was confident in my skills. My wife returned and I said hello, goodbye, and disappeared into the studio.

IMG_20170706_144454925

First, I drew out a design diagram with measurements. I wanted it to be big. Taller than myself. I wanted it to be imposing and grim. But I had to get it to Indy. So it couldn’t be house sized like I wanted.

IMG_20170707_094109028

IMG_20170707_095823117 IMG_20170707_105809857

I found some old theatre panels in the shed with crazy New Orleans Jazz Turkeys painted on them and decided to save some time and money by cannibalizing them. I sawed them up. Added a few more supports and braces and set it up to look at it. I drilled holes for the connecting hardware, carriage bolts, washers and wingnuts. I put in some hooks and hung the gong from it as a test.

IMG_20170708_115552796

After that I cut foam panels and glued them over it so I could later carve the stone effects into it.

IMG_20170709_094347793

IMG_20170710_115009550

My family was super generous through all this giving me the time and space I needed to hustle this project. They brought me food and made supply runs for me. My daughter even helped carve the foam.

IMG_20170710_130128911I changed the design at this point. I decided it needed to broadcast the name of the game. It’s Gen Con, it is a big gaming convention, but it is also the industries largest trade show. This thing had to announce why it was there. I cut out some letters for the pediment.

IMG_20170709_120021557I mocked up a skull. It was 100+ degrees in the shop and I wasn’t thinking straight. I mocked up a demon skull. It had more in common with the Danzig logo than the iconic DCC demon skull. I showed it to Joe and he suggested I talk to Doug Kovacs, the designer of the iconic skull, about it.

Doug’s advice was if I was going to do my own thing, make it truly original and if I was going to copy his skull do it right. Don’t do a bad imitation of his work. He hates that and rightly so.

IMG_20170710_093105035So I started to add a bunch of features to this generic demon skull I had going to push it away from the DCC skull. But more horns and googly eyes didn’t help and I knew I had made a mistake. I dumped it and went for the iconic DCC skull, which was the only real answer all along.

IMG_20170713_083404240 IMG_20170713_085624204 IMG_20170713_093839481 IMG_20170713_114734448 IMG_20170713_123340381 IMG_20170713_204747556 IMG_20170714_091540033

IMG_20170710_094405819

IMG_20170710_142257045

IMG_20170710_115009550 IMG_20170710_114950954Meanwhile I had glued the skulls on the pillars and built assembled the blood bowls. I bought a salad bowl at target and cut it in half. Cut the heads off the bolts and glued them into the backs of the bowls. They needed to be removable so I could lay it flat for shipping.

IMG_20170713_081440694

IMG_20170713_115823943Also the skulls and letters had to be flush with the face trim for the same reason. Anything sticking out would probably get damaged in shipping. At this point in production I was expecting to mail it to the Con.

As an aside… There is a doom band by the name of Book of Wyrms, that practices there, and our paths crossed as I was working late nights. When I was carving this demon skull it was 100+ degrees in the shop at night. Sweat was dripping off the foam in rivulets as I carved it and a live doom band was playing accompaniment. When I realized what was happening, it was real moment of truth about what success in life really is. I was getting paid to carve demon skulls while a live doom band played beside me. I had won.

I should probably thank Book of Wyrms that the skull turned out so well. Thanks ya’ll!

I finished up the work on the skull and letters and glued them on. I sanded everything a few times. I patched the seams with automotive body putty and sanded that a few times between layers.

IMG_20170714_122229020 IMG_20170714_162457505Then I painted it black. I really liked it black.

IMG_20170715_124411250I had hoped sealing it with paint would allow me to use polyester resin to coat the outside and make it really durable. But, either I used too cheap paint or the actual heat of the resin setting melted the foam. I had to go back and patch the damaged bit with more body putty. I switched to a two part epoxy. I applied a coat and found the humidity and infernal heat of Richmond in the summer wasn’t helping the epoxy do it’s thing very well. I applied several coats and did a lot of sanding and worrying in between. It did look really gruesome when it was gloss black. The kinda of thing a soon to be dead party of adventurers would discover on a forbidden death moon.

IMG_20170715_195158583 IMG_20170715_195718137 IMG_20170716_125157353 IMG_20170716_134613265 IMG_20170716_134621075_TOPI still had no idea how I was going to get this crazy thing to Indianapolis.

IMG_20170719_144612513But I had to paint it, so I knocked back the gloss with a coat of shellac based KILLZ paint. I started mixing my own paint at this point using the KILLZ and craft paint and sign paint. I got the grey for the stone and made a big batch of the gold for the letters and skull.

IMG_20170720_145759785 IMG_20170721_075853824 IMG_20170721_084727089 IMG_20170724_121759426

IMG_20170725_130156052Doug had sent me the color cover for the DCC annual and I saw the skulls gem is red, which I didn’t know previously. I wanted it red and shiny. I wanted to put a light in it. I wanted to put lights in the eye sockets. I told myself to stop escalating the project and just finish what I was doing instead of making it more difficult.

IMG_20170724_142011194 IMG_20170724_160259200

After much deliberation I set to applying the faux finish on the stone work, and then painted on the blood. I painted the gem red and added in shadows for depth. I went back in and black lined the skull and letters to make the details pop. I mixed some dark gold and laid in shadows on the column skulls.

IMG_20170724_165250638

It was at about this point I knew deep down in my heart that if I shipped this with UPS or Fed Ex they would destroy it. 100% guaranteed. Unless I built a shipping crate and then the transport cost would be that  of a small used car. I called my friend Scott Jenkins. I knew he was going to Gen Con. Luckily he was driving, alone, and in a big ass SUV. He’s a hero. He stopped by and we measured and made sure this beast would fit. Salvation was at hand.

IMG_20170725_130331710 IMG_20170725_130318087 IMG_20170725_130206559 IMG_20170725_163147980

I added false bottoms to the bowls sealed them with epoxy and KILLZ and painted them up. All the blood got a layer of gloss varnish to make it look wet and fresh as did the forehead gem to make it shine.

IMG_20170725_152749553

I bought bigger hooks and spray painted them gold and drilled new pilot holes.

I was at the finish line with about 10 days to spare. I painted the back black again along with the feet and sealed the whole thing with several cans of matte varnish spray.

I left the beast lay in the shop for a week to air out and dry as much as possible. The humidity was wreaking havoc with my dry times and epoxy curing… so I wanted to make sure it was good and finished before I tried to pack it.

IMG_20170813_132932369

I bought a huge box of bubble wrap to pack it up in but I was really worried it would stick to the thing and when I unpacked it the paint would come off with the wrap or it would leave little bubble dots all over the facade. I bought a bunch of moving blankets, wrapped them up in them and secured it all with packing tape.

We put them in Jenkins car. Jenkins drove away and I got on a plane to Gen Con 50.

Both the Gong Arch and I arrived safely. We got it all set up Thursday morning and the rest

is gaming history.

IMG_20170817_075113129 IMG_20170818_120312247 IMG_20170820_141047849 IMG_20170820_155308633

Big thanks to Doug Kovacs, Steve Bean and Natalie Hershberger who helped me move and assemble this thing, Tim Deschene, Micheal Curtis and Ian Walker and the rest of our procession for helping me parade the Gong around Gen Con. Thanks to my wife and daughter for their help and support, my folks and to everyone who took the time to appreciate it and tell me they enjoyed it and yet another big thank you to Scott Jenkins for getting it there intact.

I dedicated this build to the man who mentored me in the skills I needed to successfully accomplish it.

In memory of Matt Rusnak 1925-2010 WWII veteran, traditional hand letterer, artist, painter, sculptor, and all around genius. We miss you Matt.

Never not WIZARD TIME!

The people asked for more “It’s Wizard Time!” Stickers and I obliged.

IMG_20160121_132538

That’s right, fancy vinyl stickers. Black and White, 4.25 x 2.75 inches. Supposedly able to withstand several years of exterior application. I’ve had one on my van for two years and it’s just fine.

$1.50 for 1 (price includes shipping)

$3.50 for 3 (price includes shipping)

$5.00 for 5 (price includes shipping)

USA only. If you are in another country, send me a message and we’ll work something out.

Send paypal cash to:

Hamheadskeletondog@hotmail.com

Don’t forget to add your mailing address!

Thanks!

FormerlyIanShirt5 copy

HUBRIS!

Magic Mike Evans, has just released the PDF version of his 350 page beast of a setting/adventure kit. It is super sexy like tits on a firetruck!

He let me do some art for it. I’ve played the intro adventure. It is a gonzo romp!

Check it out!

198726

Legend states that Hubris was created from the fetid corpse of a long-dead god. Hubris is a land of terrible creatures, grand inequality, strange and cruel gods, dangerous magic, opulent nobility, destitute commoners, people that have become corrupted and turned to savage beasts, constant wars, and worse.

The kingdoms are not kind or benevolent: In the Blighted Sands the Klind are slavers and openly practice sorcery, offering sacrifices to their depraved serpentine god, Set. Across the continent the Fairweather kingdom is governed by a corrupt and inbred royal family with the nobility following suit. Esenbar is ruled by a staunch xenophobic theocracy that tolerates little outside of their strict doctrine. The barbaric Ingvar of the Frozen Wastes wage vicious battles against the savage frost giants of The Crag, and care little about the goings on of the world; their life is cut from battle with an axe or sword. The Black Queen rules the citizens of the Floating Island of Terror from her throne of bones and dreams terrible machinations for Hubris. Shadowfall, built in the remains of the burrow of a gigantic worm, is ran by vampires and their thralls, and they welcome all who are devious, vicious and cunning.

There are no easily recognizable heroes in the world. You wander the wilderness or delve into ancient ruins: out of desperation, some crazed need for adventure, or for some bizarre belief that the world can actually be made a better place. Though civilization offers you security and comfort, you shirk those in the hopes of gaining riches and power. But when you die, no one will sing songs of your deeds. You will die a horribly bloody death at the hands of some twisted abomination or by the knife of an assassin sent by some fat, scheming noble.

Your epic tale will be forgotten in days as the dangerous world continues on without you and the apathetic masses stay complacent to dogmatic control of their government.

This is not a fairy tale or an epic ballad. This is a savage world. This is Hubris.

Hubris is a weird fantasy setting that  uses the awesome Dungeon Crawl Classics rules!  In this book you will find 10 territories filled with tables and charts to generate interesting locations and encounters, new occupations, 4 new classes, 5 new playable races, 3 new spells, 4 new patrons, including 3 patrons spells for each, 11 new and terrible gods, 14 tables and charts for a GM to use to aid them in their game or create interesting/fun situations, two new adventures to kick off a campaign, and 51 new enemies (including enemies that are unique thanks to random generation).  Hubris is hackable!  Each territory can be used as the GM wills!  Need a desert, swamp, or frozen tundra for your game?  Use what’s in Hubris!

GET IT HERE!

It’s Wizard Time! Again! (EDIT: SOLD OUT)

IMG_20160121_132538

I have just received a new shipment of quality It’s Wizard Time stickers!

 

UPDATE AS OF 06/14/2016

I am sold out of stickers. Thanks everyone.

Purchasing options remain unchanged!

That’s right, fancy vinyl stickers. Black and White, 4.25 x 2.75 inches. Supposedly able to withstand several years of exterior application.

$1.50 for 1 (price includes shipping)

$3.50 for 3 (price includes shipping)

$5.00 for 5 (price includes shipping)

USA only. If you are in another country, send me a message and we’ll work something out.

Send paypal cash to:

Hamheadskeletondog@hotmail.com

Don’t forget to add your mailing address!

Thanks!

Chakas – Feral Halfling Pack Class for DCC

I have been writing a Pelucidar, Lost World style pyroclastic barbarian wilderness campaign setting. Below you will find my rules for playing as a pack of savage feral halflings in a game of Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Chaka2

Chakas – Feral Halfling Pack Class

Chakas are devolved halflings, gone feral from generations of hard scrabble, hand to mouth, living in the savage wilderness of the Thunderlands. They have a complex social structure and often dress in scraps of hide and fur or harnesses twisted from gristle and resin. They also favor crudely fashioned stone and bone jewelry woven into their matted hair. There are numerous tribes of Chakas roaming the Thunderlands, each with varying levels of development and superstition. Some make trade and give offerings to crude icons built from mud while others weave baskets and mats from reeds, and a few groups are barely more than predator packs.

Roll 3d6 in order for Ability scores. All Chakas in the mob share the same stat line.

They travel in small familial mobs. The largest and strongest, is the Alpha, and is considered the leader by the rest of the mob. Chose an alpha from the group and make a note of it.

Roll d4 for starting HP. Each mob of Chakas consists of 1-6 members, the HP are divided between them, any odd points going to the Alpha. You may have as many Chakas in your mob as you have Hit Points, up to a total of 6. So 3 HP = 3 Chakas with 1 HP each. You can also have any combination of HP and Chakas. Such as 5 HP = 3 Chakas, one with 4 HP and two with 1. A Chaka mob with 10 HP could have 5 members with 2 HP each or 2 members with 5 each. Once you have chosen your mob set up you must maintain it. If members are killed you can add the extra HP to remaining members as they are recovered, through rest or healing, or you can save them and recruit new Chakas from the wilderness when the GM allows it. When recruiting is allowed, the Chaka player can recruit d3 new Chakas from the wilderness, up to the cap of 6 total and as long as the available number of HP is sufficient.

Cha-Ka

Chakas have an elaborate racial language and are constantly chattering to one another in incomprehensible squeaks and barks. They speak no other common tongues, but it is possible to communicate with them through crude pantomime and sign language.

Chakas are omnivorous and always hungry. Because of this they will often over hunt and area and tend to be nomadic, constantly on the move in search of new food sources. They also love shiny, sparkly objects and will often kill to get them. Mobs of Chakas will often attach themselves to groups of larger stronger adventurers, allowing them to lead the way while the Chakas pick through the scraps.

Ape-man-with-bone-from-Stanley-Kubricks-2001-A-Space-Odyssey-1

Commonly Chakas use no weapons but attack with ripping fangs and tearing claws. They attack by swarming the same target. They get one attack for the entire mob.

If you would like to escalate the primitive tool use of the mob and equip them with sharp rocks, bone clubs, or pointy sticks use a D16 to hit and the damage dice explodes on a roll of 3.

Chakas attack with a d20 action die (at lower levels), +1 for each Chaka in the group. Chakas do not add STR modifier to the to hit roll.

Damage is d3 x (the number of Chakas in the mob) + Level + Strength Modifier.

So a 1st level Chaka mob with 3 members and a STR of +1 has a range of 5-11 damage.

The mob rarely separates, but if this occurs, only the group containing the Alpha may attack, as the others lack the courage to do so without their leader.

Chakas mob up during combat, but they can disperse and carry out normal tasks at an increased rate. Tasks such as, clearing rumble, digging, gathering herbs or fruits, looting bodies or searching areas for loot or secrets are completed quicker with more Chakas at hand. Increase the rate of action for these tasks by one for each Chaka engaged.

300x300

Special Racial Abilities:

Confusing Chatter

The Chakas jump about, flailing their limbs, barking and shrieking loudly, this behavior can confuse d3 opponents in melee combat. The affected targets must make a DC10 Will save or lose all actions for their next round.

Bum Rush

The Chakas all swarm over a single opponent, clinging and slapping, until the victim is pulled to the ground. The victim must make a successful DC 10 + (the number of Chakas in the mob) to avoid being knocked prone. If they fail they are knocked down and stunned for 1 round. They must make the above check each round after to shake off the Chakas and regain their feet.

Hail of Debris

Chakas will often assault foes with a hail of debris. Grabbing anything loose at hand and hurling it at their enemies. They can affect 1 target with a severe pelting of sticks, rocks, and other less savory elements for 1 point of damage and a chance to stun for 1 round. DC 15 +(the number of Chakas in the mob) Reflex save to avoid.

Hiding

A mob of Chakas can scatter in all directions, disappear into the shadows and there remain motionless for long periods of time. Chakas Hide roll is +5.

Chaka Birth Augur and Lucky Roll:

Roll 1d10

  1. Well fed: Fortitude saving throws
  2. Arboreal: Reflex saving throws
  3. Stubborn: Will saving throws
  4. Fat of the Land: HP (applies at each level)
  5. Savage: Melee Damage
  6. Low Cunning: Find Traps
  7. Hunter/Gatherer: Find Secret Doors
  8. Pure bred: Saving Throws
  9. They Bounce: Fumbles
  10. Go for the Throat: Critical Hit rolls

homonaledi_national_geo

Zero Level Chakas:

Zero level Chakas are all rolled separately. They do not have the mob ability as 4 zeros are considered a mob. Chakas gain all class and racial abilities at 1st level. If more than one Chaka remains after a funnel use the best stat line for the Alpha and absorb the others into his/her beginning mob.

These rules can also be used to simulate a certain race of teddy bears which dwell on a particular verdant moon, long long ago and far far away.

Merry Christmas!