But How Can I Get Toren’s Comics?

Recently I’ve restocked a bunch of the comic anthologies in which my work appears, and I’m making them available at very reasonable prices indeed!

EXPLODED VIEW – contains my 5 page ‘prequel’ comic that ties in with the Spaceship Zero: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets.

Cover price is $11 and I’m letting them go for $5 for a limited time

ACTS OF VIOLENCE – Back in stock! Back in the day Kevin Leeson asked me to do the art for his story “Reggie-Town” which Ed Brisson published in the anthology ACTS OF VIOLENCE along with many other impressive creatives! The book contains 4 stories and ours was 37 pages – definitely the longest comic project I’ve worked on. I’m charging $10

HISTORYONICS (Cloudscape Comics) – Contains a 4 page, black and white, dialogue free “Secret Files From the World Wildlife Federation of Justice: The Ominous Origin of Rhinosferatu.” Cover price $10 my price $5 for a limited time.

MEGA FAUNA (Cloudscape) – The culmination of my anthropomorphic animal superhero characters (so far) in print. Contains the 9-page full colour “Eye Eye Eye!” written by Ian Boothby and colored by Tanya Lehoux. Cover price $25 my price $12 for a limited time!

GIANTS OF MAIN STREET (Cloudscape) – Featuring a four page story called Tales of the Underbelly written by Kolja Liquette. Cover price is $10 and my price is $5 for a limited time!

Giants of Main Street is Cloudscape’s massive tome exploring the theme of fantasy and magic within an urban environment. This graphic novel carries the reader through a multitude of impossible cities inhabited by all manner of strange creatures. From communities ravaged by sorcerous wars to thriving metropoli preserved in bottles, this anthology has it all. After all, anything imagined can be found between the cracks if you are brave enough to look.


Contains a 1 page parody of those old Hostess Fruit Pies ads. In”Mid-Afternoon of the Living Dead” Go-Rilla finds the only way to stop Elk Diablo’s evil plan is with General Woodcock’s Wholesome Flax Pies! Free with any purchase but it’s wider and longer than the other books so that may affect shipping prices if we’re doing this through the mail

20 Minute Monster Series: Fiend Folio

For the first Monster Manual series, click here

Berbalang breaks a bard

Diana debates a dark stalker in a dank dungeon. The Darkling was seen in the cartoon episode “Winds of Darkness”

Evil ettercap entices an eager elf with an emerald

bonus E entry

Four flail snails frolic in a fuschia foyer

A grey-green grell grapples a gravid grimlock with a greataxe in a granite grotto

Hook Horror appeared in the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon “City on the Edge of Midnight”

Jermlaine jousting for jars of jujubes

Khaki kenku with katana kicks a khargra in the keel

Lilac lachrymose lava children lamenting the loss of their luggage

Many merciless maroon meenlocks menace a manly mountain mage

Nude nilbog nerfs a noble knight and a needy gnome in a navy nave

Ochre ogrillon observes obvious osquip in the old outhouse

As seen in the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon episode “The Garden of Zinn”

A reliable retriever wrecks a rector in the reredorter

Three theatrical thorks threaten a thief (Sheila from the D&D cartoons)

Underneath an undulating ultramarine umpleby unveiling it’s umbilical ulexite

Various vexing volts victimize a vizier in a vermillion void

Wild warty witherstenches worry a wayward wizard in a winter waste

Xill, as seen in the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon episodes “Servant of Evil” and “P-R-E-S-T-O Spells Disaster”

Y is for Yellow Musk Creeper and Z is for Zombie, Yellow Musk. Featuring Ruddiger the elf!

Stay Tuned for the Monster Manual II, coming later in 2024. Like what I do? Send me a dollar on Patreon! https://www.patreon.com/torenatkinson

Overdue Who Review: City of Death

Season 17, 1979, 4 parts, Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker)

On Earth, 400 million years ago, an alien (Jagaroth) ship explodes. In modern day (1979) Paris, the Doctor and Romana experience time echoes because a nearby a scientist is working on a time machine for Count Scarlioni. After meeting with a punch-happy Inspector Duggan who is investigating art thieves, the Time Lords meet and confront Scarlioni, who reveals he is Scaroth, the only survivor of the exploding ship, and he intends to go back in time and prevent the accident that destroyed his race.

The Doctor discovers six Mona Lisa paintings in Scarlioni’s possession, so he travels back in time to visit his old friend Leonardo Da Vinci, but instead encounters Scaroth from that time period. Scaroth has commissioned Da Vinci to create multiple paintings to finance his time travel machine. In the climax, the Time Lords face off against Scaroth 400 MYA and Duggan punches him in the face, allowing the ship to explode and start the development of life on Earth.

Not a bad episode, though this episode spends a lot of time watching the Time Lords running back and forth on the streets of Paris, impeding the drama. The scientist really overdoes whatever accent he’s trying to pull off. I recognized Scarlioni as Donovan from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, known to some as Julian Glover, and a nice surprise cameo by John Cleese, which I just spoiled

Next up: The Creature from the Pit

Adapting “Prison Without Walls” D&D Cartoon Episode to a D&D Tabletop Adventure

“With each brave deed you grow more worthy” – Dungeon Master

This is part 2 of Adapting the D&D cartoon into a campaign. For the basics and part 1 “In Search of Dungeon Master” see my blog post:

Episode 7 features a pretty straightforward plot and some fun encounters. I’ll post the video link down below. This adaptation is edition agnostic, no stats are provided.

Here is an overall map of the area and encounters, with great thanks to Andrew Bator

Scene 1: Mist-Enshrouded Mountains

The party is lost in a sort of misty wasteland. The episode script reads “these are old mountains, not unlike the Appalachians, except the trees on the slopes grow in contorted, vaguely demonic shapes” and “we hear the distant sounds of hammers pounding rocks, and baleful moaning.” Dungeon Master pays them a visit and provides the first clue/riddle: “When the dragon’s heart is in the right place, it may show you the way home” and then DM disappears. The fog gets so thick they can’t see where they’re going and they fall down over a ledge into….

Scene 2: The Vale of Mists.

The valley (more like a big crater, which the script describes as “reminiscent of the Devil’s Punchbowl in the Mojave”) harbors an (inexplicably *not* foggy) gnome village. There are two immense stone warrior statues poised like sentries, and the walls of the crater are filled with “Mystic Gems.” The gnomes are all busy on various scaffolding, mining gems from the rock under the watchful eye of their slavemasters, the orcs. In the center of the village is a large stone statue of a dragon with a hand-sized hole in the center of its chest — where it’s heart would be. One of the pitiful gnomes falls off a scaffolding. He is tired and hurt! A merciless, evil orc comes to whip him – this is the heroes’ cue to come to the gnomes defense. This is our first combat encounter.

This is not a terribly challenging fight for the heroes. Once it’s over, the gnome (he isn’t given a name in the show, let’s call him Orson) explains that his people cannot leave the valley because of Venger’s spell. In the script it says “the gnomes cannot leave unless summoned by Venger — or else they die!” Orson explains “only our wizard Lukyon might break the spell. His magic protected our valley for centuries” and “No one can find Lukyon. When he refused to tell Venger the secret of the dragon’s heart, Venger imprisoned him in the Swamp of Sorrows.” Orson also tells them that the swamp is South, beyond the forest.

Scene 3: The Swamp of Sorrows

Any battle map will do for this encounter – here’s a nice one from DiceGrimorium

The heroes slosh knee-deep through the dismal swamp, overgrown with vines. Sunlight barely penetrates, and insects are everywhere.

Dungeon Master appears and provides the second clue/riddle: Lukyon dwells in a prison without walls.

Immediately after DM vanishes, the heroes are attacked by violet fungi. In the middle of the fight, a shambling mound appears. It frees them (rather violently) from the grip of the fungi, and then it lurches menacingly towards the heroes – Eric gets stuck in the creature and is seemingly almost sucked inside it. After taking a few hits from the heroes, the monster retreats back into the foliage.

Swamp Part 2.

The heroes continue searching in the swamp, being eaten alive by mosquitos. Dungeon Master appears and give them another clue: “You will know Lukyon by what he says without speaking” He adds “find him quickly, young ones. Tomorrow, during the crossing of the four suns, is the only time Lukyon can help you.”

Scene 4: The Cursed Dwelling

The kids come across a rotting house. The script describes it as “the ruins of a dwelling on a small patch of moist, grassy land. The roof is rotting. The walls are partially caved-in. Drippy, slimy gobs of moss hang like curtains from the rotting timber supports” However, a more welcoming description would invite the PCs to use this location to rest – perhaps this is the only solid ground they’ve come across for hours of wandering in the dark. You also might describe the dwelling with some or all of the walls missing, as if this might be the “prison without walls.”

This encounter must happen in the evening or at night, after some time has passed since Dungeon Master reminded them that the crossing of the four suns happens the next day. For a battle map, try searching “swamp hut shack battle map” on your search engine of choice.

There’s a bed on the porch. When the kids enter the shack they are attacked by zombies who are very possessive of their house and start grappling with the party. The party is overwhelmed! But, the shambling mound returns, scares off the zombies, and demolishes the house with a tree trunk.

The kids realize that the monster is Lukyon because it’s saved them twice.

Scene 5: Breaking the Spell

Lukyon brings the heroes to a tree where the cursed gnome has stashed his magic items, as well as the Dragon heart – a large violet gem about 5 or 6 inches across that pulsates – like the beat of a heart!

Lukyon shows Presto (more or less) how to break Venger’s spell by using Lukyon’s spellbook and magic wand, and Lukyon reverts to the form of an elderly gnome wizard. There’s a brief chitchat, and then…

Scene 6: Climactic Wizard Battle

With a wave of Lukyon’s wand, the group is teleported back to the Veil of Mists and the gnome village where, just in time for the four suns to converge, he puts the dragon’s heart back into the dragon (using the Mage Hand spell, no doubt). The entire crater lights up with glowing gems, with a lattice of glimmering lasers pointing between them. Lukyon explains that each point of light is a gateway to another world. Just at that moment, Venger appears on his nightmare, releases the orcs and activates/animates the two giant statues which start crushing the gnome houses with their tremendous feet, and attack the PCs (as do the orcs).

The kids defeat the colossi while Venger and Lukyon have a battle of magic. Venger keeps far overhead out of range of the kids. During the battle, one of Venger’s energy blasts ricochets and destroys an area of the gem cliffs, specifically the portal back to Earth. Venger is ‘banished’ by Lukyon. The kids are cheated out of their way home and must adventure on.

Of course, there are countless gateways to other worlds through the gems while the solar conjunction is happening, should the group and DM want to explore that option. Otherwise, the conjunction ends and the gateways close. On to the next adventure!

DM challenges

As usual, there are a few decisions the kids in the cartoon make that allow this adventure to play out the way it does, which could be a challenge for the Dungeon Master if their players make different decisions.

In the Vale of Mists, the entire group falls down into the crater because of the fog. This means in game terms that every single group fails their saving throw and falls several feet. Probably the best way to handle this is through narration, avoiding any dice rolls. 

Clever players may try to avoid falling by using a pole or something as a cane to check the ground as they move through the fog. Feel free to simply have the ledge crumble and bring the kids down. Whether or not you require saving throws or dexterity checks to avoid taking a small amount of damage from the fall is up to you. I personally would avoid damage but might have a character stunned from the fall and more easily grabbed by an orc.

Antediluvian miniatures

The scene with the gnome getting whipped by the orc is a good one for story, flavor and characterization if you can keep it in. Combat with the orcs is likely even if the PCs don’t go charging in – you can simply have an orc spot them and sound the alarm. The orcs should not be an overwhelming challenge for the PCs – play them dumb and with low morale, and arm them only with swords and whips, with leather armor at best. Quick to run away, but they will return in greater numbers later, after Orson gives the PCs the vital directions for where to look for Lukyon. The interior of the cave is not detailed here, but it can be a simple barracks for the orc slavemaster and soldiers, should the PCs want to investigate.


The shambling mound/Lukyon is more tricky. In the cartoon, Lukyon is initially viewed a threat by the kids because he is scary, bumbling, and dangerous simply due to his size and the composition of his body. If your players realize that he is the gnome “in the prison without walls” during this encounter then the second swamp encounter with the zombie house will likely be skipped.

In the zombie house, you might add a “boss zombie” to make things more interesting.

Otherworld Miniatures

Using Presto to break Venger’s enchantment on Lukyon is a very particular character/plot device that might prove difficult to adapt, depending on the classes and abilities of the player characters. If all that is needed is for a character to wave Lukyon’s wand over his spellbook and read aloud some magic words, that’s great. But if it relies on a skill or class ability, and that fails, then the plot grinds to a halt. Take a look at your player characters and see how you might be able to handle this conundrum.

Once Lukyon is restored, make sure you give the PCs time to rest and heal before the final encounter, where they will be dealing with the stone titans and a contingent of orc warriors. You can easily say that there are a full 8 hours before the conjunction of the four suns.

Crocodile Games

The giant statues in the Vale are described as stone golems in the script, but the rules have stone golems as size Large. These statues are what I would call colossal or gargantuan. You might base your monster on the Walking Statue of Waterdeep, but prepare to play it fast and loose with the numbers, because two of those could wipe out the party quickly and easily. If a golem hits, rather than do massive damage, have it grab the victim and hold them fast in its hand. Make them slow and nigh-invulnerable so that the PCs will have to think of some ingenious way to disable them, such as the marbles that Presto used.

In the episode, we the audience see Shadow Demon. You might permit the PCs to make some kind of perception check to detect his presence, it could add an interesting element to the story, even just seeing him skulk away.

Please Support my work on Patreon! https://www.patreon.com/torenatkinson

Why Are Artists Decrying Procedurally Generated Images? Five ( and 1/2) Reasons.

Note: I’m not going to refer to procedurally generated images as “AI art” because by definition, art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination.” I will instead refer to it as PGIs.

1. It’s threatening their livelihood. Artists also have bills to pay.


2. Every piece of art a human artist makes is copyright (mostly owned by the artist and sometimes a publisher that made a contract with the artist to acquire that copyright).

The AI corporations used those artworks without compensating or acquiring permission from the copyright holders (again, usually the artists). This is unethical and probably illegal (we’re figuring that out presently).



More Sources: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/arts/visual-artists-fight-back-against-artificial-intelligence-companies-for-repurposing-their-work

3. The proliferation of AI is making it hard to tell what is real and what is fake, an extremely dangerous trend that contributes to conspiracy and scams.

sources: https://www.foxbusiness.com/media/shoppers-think-click-ai-generated-image-scams-infiltrate-web



4. It’s Highly Polluting

Source: https://www.technologyreview.com/2023/12/05/1084417/ais-carbon-footprint-is-bigger-than-you-think/

5. Over-reliance on technology de-humanizes us, and can lead to more problems



5.5. Other considerations:

Medical records in ‘training’ data set (Ars Technica and biometricupdate.com)

It’s not just independent artists who are trying to take action against PGIs.

Getty Images is suing Stability AI, creators of popular AI art tool Stable Diffusion, over alleged copyright violation.


AI is flooding the book market with garbage… according to The Guardian and PCmag

…and following the information in AI generated instructional books could literally kill you (link: the Guardian)

From March 2024: https://www.tomshardware.com/tech-industry/artificial-intelligence/ai-worm-infects-users-via-ai-enabled-email-clients-morris-ii-generative-ai-worm-steals-confidential-data-as-it-spreads

A group of researchers created a first-generation AI worm that can steal data, spread malware, spam others via an email client, and spread through multiple systems. This worm was developed and successfully functions in test environments using popular LLMs. 

read the paper: https://sites.google.com/view/compromptmized


I Became A Paid DM. Am I A Monster? If So, What’s My Challenge Rating?


One day I received this message from a Facebook friend:

To which I agreed, except it wouldn’t be a campaign, it would be a ‘one-shot.’ Primarily because I don’t have time to game regularly and with a group of strangers I didn’t want to make a commitment beyond the ‘test run.’ You know, in case it goes horribly wrong (spoiler alert: it wen’t terribly right)! They would also have to supply the venue since I lack gaming space of my own. (And no, DMing for novices is not annoying.)


I play music for fun, I can also get paid for it. I draw for fun, I can also get paid for it. And of course when I DM for my friends and regular gaming group, I don’t charge money. But what was asked of me is a very different context. And context is king.

We decided a rate – $80 for 4 hours. They didn’t ask my bona fides, but I’ll put them here in case it makes a difference to you:

I’ve been GMing since 1985. I co-wrote an award-winning RPG (Spaceship Zero). I’ve organized game conventions. I’ve run tournaments (at my day job) for about 20 different groups – each a mix of experience and novice players.


The players (3 of them in total) mainly worked out the characters themselves, which I checked and tweaked. In addition to the adventure itself, I provided dice, battle maps, dungeon tiles, player handouts (clues etc), miniatures for the Player Characters and monsters and Non-Player Characters.


What if I told you DMs have been receiving compensation for decades? Conventions and game shops have been recruiting people to run games for years. Sometimes that compensation is free attendance to the event, or store credit, but sometimes also cold hard cash or a combination of those things.

At your home game, do your players not bring any contributions? Do they not bring snacks or beverages for you to enjoy? Do they not chip in for any new books or peripherals (dice towers, minis, your D&D Beyond subscription)? I mean sure, this probably counts as ‘gifts’ rather than ‘payment’ – but all these things have value, and to my mind the DM does a lot of work for the players. There is a – perhaps unspoken – transaction happening in many (but not all) cases.


One of the banes of group games like D&D is player cancellations can really upend an otherwise perfectly planned game night. Everything I’ve heard from professional DMs is that when the players have put up money, they actually show up and are fully present, rather than showing up 45 minutes late and dicking around on their phone.

For my own experience, when the first session had to be cancelled, they offered to pay me anyway for all the prep time I did. I told them not to worry about it, we’ll just reschedule.


This is actually a take that I read someone post on a Facebook group. Come on, dude. Somebody wanted to hire me and I accepted. Also, there’s nothing inherently wrong with sex work.

Amanohashidate – Quite Possibly the Best Place in Japan

A really magical place and one of the best days of my life!

Getting there…

Don’t do this
Many wonderful views from the shinkansen

Arrival, wandering in the wrong direction, renting bikes…

biking along the sandbar

The Village at the bottom of the hill

Time to take the ski lift up the mountain!

At the platform, ready to take in the view

We could have gone further up the mountain for a proper hike, but we felt we didn’t have time so we just went up a few steps. Saw a murder hornet!

back down again
Are these turtles okay? They seem trapped. Maybe they like being trapped.

Let’s explore the temple grounds

At the temple there are many signs to protect your food from these birds of prey
Life at the temple – a black cat ponders koi

We saw a persimmon tree growing in someone’s yard so I went to take a closer look

a closer look
a view of the beach along the sandbar

What a glorious day! Until next time!

Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Deathsport (1978)

1000 years after the Neutron Wars, nomadic ranger guide manly Kas Oshay and sexy blonde Deneer hang out in the wasteland riding horses, until captured by riders on their Death Machines (AKA dirt bikes with spacey-looking consoles) and brought back to the walled city of Helix. Tortured by the mad and dying Lord Zirpolo, and forced to partake in Deathsport (AKA a dirt bike track), they somehow break free and escape back into the wasteland, with former ranger guide and Zirpola lieutenant Ankar Moor in hot pursuit. After a brief encounter with cannibalistic cave mutants Kas and Ankar have a duel with clear plastic swords.

Apparently a sort-of sequel to Death Race 2000, this movie is a lot of riding around on bikes with obnoxious sound effects while explosions happen close by, punctuated with some T&A courtesy of playmate Claudia Jennings. The only cast member with any charisma is Richard Lynch. Oh yeah there’s a kid that is thankfully relegated to the beginning and end of the film.

TROPES: vehicles explode for no reason; futuristic jargon; lights flash when torture is happening; exposition about what’s happening on screen; blowing on a gun; mutants only grunt

Toren’s Rating: 3/10

Now back to Toren’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Guide


Overdue Who Review: The Armageddon Factor

Season 16, 1979, 6 parts, Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker)

The Doctor and Romana land on the planet Atrios and meet Princess Astra, her lover Merak, and The Marshall, the latter of which is war-mad about defeating neighboring planet Zeos in their ages-long war. Secretly Zeos is run by an AI, which is secretly run by a guy in a skull mask (The Shadow – he hates light) who also is secretly advising the Marshall through a black mirror. The Shadow is an agent of the Black Guardian and is hunting for the sixth segment to the Key to Time, which (spoiler) is Princess Astra. K9 is captured by The Shadow and reprogrammed, while Astra is likewise corrupted and transforms herself into the puzzle segment. The Shadow gains entry to the TARDIS while The Doctor is miniaturized by friendly Time Lord Drax (found in the bowels of The Shadow’s space base). The Shadow puts the Time Key together and starts monologuing so The Doctor returns to size, grabs the macguffin and our heroes get away.

The Doctor practically turns to the camera and says the name of the episode out loud, which is always fun. This is the final chapter in the Key of Time story arc which spans the entire 16th season. Overall, a disappointing climax to a fun season. This could easily have been 4 episodes, there’s a lot of chaff in the first 3. It only gets interesting when K9 becomes a servant of The Shadow and The Doctor bumps into Drax. Given how overpowered K9 is as an ally, he should be more of a threat to The Doctor, but he’s defeated easily and stupidly. Also it occurs to me that K9’s eyes are always red, so how can we tell when he’s good or evil? In a rare twist Romana upstages The Doctor when she clues him into the fact that the White Guardian is the evil Black Guardian because he’s unwilling to restore Astra to human form. This leads to the question, was there ever a White Guardian, or was it the Black one all this time?

Maybe we’ll find out in the next episode: Destiny of the Daleks

Toren’s Taiwan Trip 20: Taipei at Last!


Took the high speed rail from Kaohsiung to Taipei (a 2 hour 20 minute trip) where I saw the mountains and farmland of Taiwan

We arrived and walked around the neighborhood of our hostel, and visited the National Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall


I wanted to try Britshake, the British-themed restaurant, to see how it was in Taiwan. Unfortunately, not super memorable. So I won’t bother with pics. Anyway – here’s an interesting chart showing the ethnographics of Taiwan

A little park/mosquito breeding ground

Check out the space age 7-11. What happens in there? I don’t know

It’s a gas station just for scooters. They’re ubiquitous!

Your average Taipei commuter train station

We met up with two of Erica’s old friends, Frankie and Andy, at Kokoro izakaya (Japanese bar with food) where I had a cute little cumquat, deep fried bitter melon (yummy) and some nuts of some kind!

After that we went to a lesbian karaoke bar that I believe was called 7 Plus, but I couldn’t find it on google. It was…interesting, because the lesbians will try to chat you up for tips, which I found to be awkward, because although they were very nice and tried hard to make me feel welcome – I don’t really drink, and we don’t speak the same language. But there was some karaoke so not too bad!

I wanted to go to the poo-themed restaurant I had heard about years prior, but sadly they had permanently closed 🙁