Wednesday, April 20, 2011

World Building With Vaughn Bode

World building for games can take on many forms; rough sketches, detailed notes, maps, NPCs, graph paper, hex paper, dice rolling, etc. Many times, the players may never explore more than a few hexes out from their home base, never seeing the full color worlds created my many GMs but the process the creator goes through adds an unseen depth to the campaign.

The early days of the hobby were influenced by the pulp stories of the 30's and 40's as well as the fantasy revival of the 60's and 70's. You can see it in the gritty and at times whimsical recollections, modules and articles of the time. It was an anything goes playing field.

1960's / 1970's fantasy cartoonist, Vaughn Bode created his erotic whimsical fantasy worlds with an unbridled creativity seldom seen these days. Creator of Cheech Wizard and the apocolyptic Cobolt 60 in a unique voluptuous cartoon style was seen by those who may have picked up the underground independent comics of the time.

One world he created in 1968 was called Deadbone:
"Back a billion years, before man, before the dinosaur, before the plankton, before life was thought to exist in even the most rudimentary existed!...Life which belonged to a world as alien as those of a black that cycled and orbited in an evil and insane universe that looked for, but never found, 'our' brand of sanity."
What is interesting is the way he created his world; in a very visual style of world building (click image to embiggen):

What a fantastic way to create a world! A couple of the maps even look like city/underworld adventure maps. Some scribbled notes around the images with details to be filled in later.

Of course, with the psychedelic mind of Vaughn Bode, this peculiar and weird world was populated as well with all manner of Lizard, Broads, and bizarre unique characters.

A whimsical twisted fantasy world. A great campaign world. A great world-building exercise.

Check out Vaughn Bode in action
(Very interesting video clips especially the Toronto ComiCon '74 clips)


  1. Sweet stuff. What book are these images from?

    Have you seen the Post-apocalypse San Francisco Bay map by his son, Mark Bode? Another good one.

  2. These images are from a book called Deadbone which displays a number of the Deadbone strips, mostly in pencil. I don't have the book in front of me right now and I can't seem to track the exact one down on the interwebs. I'll post the cover sometime later.

    No, I've never seen the Post-apocalypse San Francisco Bay map. I've been trying to track down maps like that. I'll look into that one.

  3. Mark has been quite active in the art scene here in San Francisco. His murals with some of his father's characters can be found on the sides of buildings throughout the city.

    I haven't seen the post-apocalyptic SF map either. Sounds like I need that one.

  4. Eric Mona has a blog with book covers Ive never heard or seen of before! Truly great!

  5. I finally took some pics of Mark Bode's map of post-apocalypse San Francisco Bay, the setting of Cobalt 60.

    Check it out

  6. Hey fire, thanks for the map link. I love the craters!

  7. Met Mark and chatted a while back in the 80s at a comic con in NYC. Nice guy who loved talking about Vaughn. He reminisced about being a little kid sitting in Vaughn's lap while he worked on his comics.
    This campaign world looks more awesome every glimpse you reveal. Thanks.