Monday, January 28, 2019

From Idea to Concept

For me, Mothshade Concepts is all about ideas and putting them together to form milieus or worlds.

Because people have expressed interest in the process, I'd like to take one specific example that I'm working on right now, from initial idea germ - all the way to working published concept.

Consider with me, the Paratevan Snake Tree.

  1. Some time ago, while researching an entirely different concept, my mind presented to me the idea of a dryad with the natural ability to Turn Sticks to Snakes (like the cleric spell). Dryads being tree spirits, I liked the idea of them being able to do something interesting with bits of wood. Also, one would imagine they'd have the advantage of a steady supply of sticks.
  2. Recently, while compiling material for the next Avremier supplement (Parateva), I came across my notes for these snake-producing dryads. Seemed like a perfect fit for some of the snake-infested regions of the Great Delta.
  3. So, what kind of tree would suit such a dryad? I know there are "snake plants," but had never heard of a "snake tree." Well, this was my world, and a fantasy world at that, so I would make one!
  4. Using the actual Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) as reference, I simply turned the thing into a hardwood tree with clusters of snake plant leaves that are known for their attractive patterns. I'm kind of looking forward to illustrating this thing, actually.
  5. Real snake plants are known for their air-purifying qualities. I turned this into a property of the leaf juice to purify water. Also, the fibers of the real-world plant are used for making ropes and bowstrings. I kept that for the Avremier version - no adjustments necessary.
  6. So, now the marshy region of Parateva has a species of hardwood tree of its very own, with an accompanying dryad variant to defend it. Also, the tree produces valuable extracts and fibers that can profit those who harvest them. This would bring direct conflicts with resident dryads - unless some agreement could be reached.
  7. To my mind, this gives Parateva some realistic color and flavor, with very little actual work. Through word association, thematic considerations, and personal knowledge (we had snake plants at home when I was a child), I was able to add a few minutes of research to bring it all together for the campaign setting.

So, that's a simplified version of my typical creative process. I hope it was helpful or interesting to someone. Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Long Time - No Me

Happy New Year to all. During the past few months of relative quiet, plans have been developing and changes have been implementing. I'd like to touch on a few of them here, and then finish with a look at the future.
  1. I am officially retired from working a day job. I am home, and I am full-time Mothshade Concepts. This means I should finally have the time to produce multiple projects in a more timely fashion. Details and updates can be found at the Mothshade Concepts Facebook Page.
  2. The initial five-volume OD&D set for the Avremier campaign setting is finished and published. While more Avremier material will be forthcoming, there are many more projects and product lines already in the production schedule. The five Avremier supplements can be found on the Mothshade Concepts DriveThru RPG Store.
  3. This blog is due to be updated to something more useful and productive. That's on the To-Do List for January. Stay tuned.
So, everything is new and full of promise. I am going on an adventure, and I'd like to take as many of you along as possible.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Magic of the Season

A spooky, macabre assortment of festive items to delight and amaze. All presented in OD&D style. These entries are from the Duckin’ & Braggin’ archives, and will doubtlessly appear in future releases. Happy holiday mayhem!



Helm, Vorpal: A classic prank – put the helm on and it cuts off your head. No save. I mean, how’s it gonna miss?! A laugh riot!


Ghoulash: This whip is fashioned from the flayed skins of ghouls and ghasts. Upon a successful hit, the target must save vs. paralyzation or be paralyzed is if by the touch of a ghoul. Even elves are affected by this item.


Evening: When read aloud, the powerful incantation of the Scroll causes night to fall within a 10 mile radius. The sun becomes as wan as the moon and the environment is treated as if under the shroud of night. The effect lasts until true nightfall. If read during the night, this scroll sends the reader to the moon.


Toadstool: This unpleasant item of spongy material renders the wearer immune to non-magical poisons and venoms. By a touch of the hand wearing the Ring, the user can bestow a poison effect to another living creature. The wearer has no discernable scent and cannot be detected or tracked by smell.


Rod of Certain Death: Upon activation, the user is immediately stricken dead – no save.


Apocalypstick: These cosmetic items come either in small, easy-to-apply tubes, or in tiny jars. Proper and full application takes one round. One application is effective for up to an hour, but physical contact (a kiss) activates the magical effect, as does “blowing a kiss.” The maximum range for a blown kiss effect is 30’.  

Bruise Purple
Inflict 3-30 blunt impact damage. If damage exceeds
target’s STR, target is knocked prone.
Hellfire Red
Immolate target for 3-30 fire damage. 2-20 damage next
round. 1-10 damage following round – then fire goes out.
Nuclear Gray
Disintegrate effect that leaves target as nothing but mildly radioactive ash.
Plague Green
Infect target with a deadly, contagious disease of GM’s
choice – or, roll randomly.
Suffocation Blue
Target cannot breathe. Gains a saving throw each round
until success or death.

Bag of Sticky Treats: This small sack contains half-melted candies and other sweets. Simply opening the Bag will attract creatures of up to animal intelligence from up to 500’. When thrown, the Bag will burst open on impact to create an unusually colorful and sticky Web effect in a 20’ cube. The sweet aroma will attract creatures just as opening the Bag. Fire will not destroy the candy floss mess, it only serves to harden the stuff into a substance that victims of less than ogre strength cannot break from, and that will last for an entire day. The sticky contents are edible, but will not serve as a nutritious meal.

Blood Vessel: This modest paddleboat is powered by blood. One gallon of blood will grant motive force for up to 6 hours. If the blood is from a sentient creature, the duration is 12 hours. If the blood is from a sentient creature of good alignment, the duration is a full day. On average, a human body contains about 1 ½ gallons of blood.

Bottle of Boos: This hefty glassware item comes with an engraved stopper in the shape of a head with an open mouth that is obviously expressing a sound of “ooo.” There are two type of Bottle.
            Displeasure: The stopper resembles an angry person. Opening the Bottle releases a loud and outraged “Boooooo…” sound. Any living creature within 50’ must save vs. spell or fall to the ground in abject despair, dropping any weapons, shields, or items. Victims do nothing but languish in misery, able to defend themselves if attacked at -2 on all die rolls.
            Spook: The stopper resembles a classic “sheet ghost.” Opening the Bottle releases a spectral, spooky “Boooooo…” sound. Any living creature within 50’ must save vs. spell or turn and flee the area, dropping any held items. Those affected by the sound cannot approach within 10’ of the Bottle thereafter.

Broom, Sonic: This flying broom can reach a rate of 360’ per turn, but has no room for a passenger larger than a housecat. When used to strike as a weapon, the Broom can impact with a thunderclap that stuns and deafens the target.

Cider Jar: A single apple left inside the closed Jar for at least 4 hours turns into a gallon of cider (chilled or hot – as commanded). After a full day, the cider becomes “hard cider.”

Ghost Bustier: This fetching garment gives the wearer the ability to become a scary, intangible version of themselves. In “ghost form,” the wearer is affected as if by a Potion of Gaseous Form, but without the loss of any items or garments. The ghostly wearer cannot attack physical creatures, but may Cause Fear by touch. While intangible, the wearer can affect and attack other such creatures – like ghosts, wraiths, spectres, and out-of-phase (ethereal) monsters normally. Undead creatures treat the user of this item as one of their own, and the wearer is unaffected by energy drain attacks of all types.

Lich Pin: On a successful hit, this long stick pin will inflict 1 point of damage and Hold a lich in place until the Pin is removed. The lich may still take actions, but cannot move from the spot where the Pin was applied. The lich also cannot remove the Pin itself, but may command a minion to do so.

Maledictionary: This “tome of curses” contains a number of curse spells and harmful enchantments of all types. However, merely opening the book causes it to speak a random spell to take effect upon the holder – and anyone else that might be within range.