If, working as an illustrator, you ever get the feeling that you're just plugging gaps between chunks of text with interchangeable robots, monsters and barbarians, getting the chance to help someone out with your art can be very refreshing. When Stevens publishers were left in the lurch at the last minute, holding an unfinished, rough looking cover, he asked me if I could make a new one. Never one to pass up an opportunity to draw Victorian era heroines with Otto Lilienthal gliders and lizardmen riding Quetzalcoatlus' I happily obliged and could hand off this piece mere moments before deadline.
In the third theme issue of the year clandestine dealings abound as Fenix Magazine takes on the subject of 'spies'.
Kenneth Hite takes the opportunity to again flex his historical trivia muscles with "The Man You're Looking At - A who's who of Steampunk Spycraft", where a buffet of fascinating turn of last century characters are described both as factual and 'Full Steam' versions of themselves. Individuals such as Robert "Bob" Fitzsimmons; the boxing champion and stage magician who literally fought Houdini, Aubrey Herbert; the blind rooftop acrobat, Oxford scholar and master of disguise, or Nikolai Kibalchich; the Ukrainian Tony Stark, would surely spice up any Steampunk setting.
History writer and Western aficionado Joakim Andersson takes a fresh look at spies and undercover fighters from the American civil war in "Kvinnor i Blått och Grått" (Women in Blue and Grey) and Pete Nash delves into the various ways covert business was conducted in ancient times in "Historical & Fantasy - Spies in Runequest".
I know I make it sound like Fenix Magazine is all about me, because I only write about the articles that I illustrate, but I'm REALLY all up in this... one this time. Fenix #2 2013 was again a themed issue. This time the subject was 'Angels and Demons'.
First out is "Angels and Ministers of Space", written by Ken Hite. A curious alternate 1710 campaign setting in which Newtonian metaphysics has fused the power of angelic beings with technology to great and terrifying effect. Earth's empires stretches ever farther into space, fighting over new riches of resources and territories. But there are places in the universe where even angels fear to tread.
Next, Kristoffer Krämer provides a more traditional take on the Eternal War with "Återupprättandet av det Förlorade Paradiset" (Re-establishing the Paradise Lost). This extensive campaign material provides the history of the Great Drama, the nature of the forces of Heaven, Hell, and their agents on Earth, and the name of Her who serves no master.
Last but not least, the issue comes with a fully playable new card game called "Moralens Axel-makter" (Straight From the Shoulder - A Game of Morality), written and created by Kristoffer Krämer. Based on the comedic device of having an angel and a devil on ones shoulders, three or more players are pitted against each other in a game of strategy and wits, each using the passive or aggressive influence of an angel or devil to affect the moral choices of four human avatars. Let no good deed go unpunished.
The death of an affluent Texas railroad man and the reappearance of a
legendary black vigilante-turned-train robber called 'The Black Lion'
has sparked off a furious man hunt through the Lone Star State. A diverse team of bounty men, railroad snoops and hired law must work together to catch the culprits before they reach Mexico, while secrets, racism,
greed, and the lust for vengeance muddies the waters. To learn what really happened before the trail, and bodies, go cold, the PCs will need to look beyond their differences. The truth is more than skin deep.
"Mannen i Svart" (The Man in Black) is this year's GothCon scenario for Western Rpg, and one I am extra proud of, for a number of reasons. In part because I felt I had more input in the development of the overall story than ever before, but also because it deals with some very uncomfortable subjects in a creative way, without feeling too exploitative (I hope). I am also very pleased with how the pictures came out, especially those of the characters.
Mannen i Svart is an official product for Western Rollspelet, available for purchase in full color softcover. It comes packaged with separate handouts of maps, character sheets, Pinkerton cards and 21 character portraits.
I'm happy to inform that it seems the players at GothCon shared my sentiment, as we recently received word that The Man in Black was voted Best of Con in the scenario category for this year. We could hardly wish for a better endorsement, and I wish to thank all those who played and voted!
So the world didn't end... THIS TIME.. but it was a close shave. To celebrate Earths resilience, the theme for Fenix #1 2013 is 'Post Apocalypse'. Out of the smoke and debris, like a bespectacled Mad Max, strides Kenneth Hite with "The Lion in Fimbulwinter - Sweden in the day after Ragnarok". An expansion to his diesel-punk/fantasy setting 'The Day after Ragnarok", set in a fictional 1948 where the world is still reeling from the event called 'Serpentfall'. The Midgard Serpent, awoken by Nazi magic, and felled by US nukes, has in its death spasm crushed half of Africa and Europe, and left America a poisoned wasteland. Enemies, old and new, are everywhere. Sure, we're rid of the Nazis, but there's still the Russians, and the Giants...
As I am originally from the north, and given the material, I felt it would be a shame to pass up the opportunity to draw something that at least I have never seen before: A Troll raiding party clashing with a pair of Badass Sami Rangers out of Jokkmokk, armed with an Ophi-tech Plasma Lance.
Finally, Kristoffer Krämer's Rpg adventure "Kammaren - Apokalypsens dödliga arv" (The Chamber - The Deadly Legacy of the Apocalypse), presents a conundrum that boils down to a question; When you've trapped the End of the World in a box, what warning could you inscribe to make sure no one EVER opened it. The battle between ingenuity and curiosity will determine the fate of the world. No pressure.
Why it's Professor Robert of course! The little inventor with the big hair and a nose for science.
I spent most of my time at Foxrain AB working on his adventures together with Michael Stenmark and another pint size genius, the inimitable Alvaro Tapia.
Unfortunately, Professor Robert now resides in development hell. Even super science is no match for red tape.