Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wednesday Comics: The Price (part 6)

We continue our examination of Jim Starlin's Dreadstar Saga with The Price. The earlier posts in the series can be found here.

The Price (part 6)
Eclipse Graphic Album Series #5 (October 1981) Story & Art by Jim Starlin

Synopsis: When next we see Darklock, he's discussing his resignation from the priesthood with the Lord Papal. Papal says he's sorry to see him go, but Darklock knows he's happy to see a rival eliminated. Apparently, the story is that Sister Marian died in a gas main explosion.

When Darklock is gone, the Cardinal congratulates Papal on getting rid of him. Papal berates his suboordinate: Can't the Cardinal sense Darklock's power? It's as much as a god's.

Darklock buys a ship and crews it with robots. Once it's ready, he takes the journey to the frontier and a world called Caldor. There, he makes camp and waits.

Vanth asks the stranger who he is. Darklock tells him as he removes his hood, and we see his deformed, almost skeletal visage for the first time post-burning. Darklock says he has sacrificed much to get to this point. He is here to be Vanth's comrade and mentor.

Vanth doesn't understand much of this. Darklock suggests they can talk tomorrow; For now, Vanth should return to cat people and tell them he means no harm. He also hints he knows of Vanth's sword.

When Vanth is gone, Darklock muses about the future:

Then, he thinks of Marian:

"...And I'm pray you'll have forgiven me by then."

Things to Notice:
  • Darklock's encampment on Caldor looks a lot like the Lars home on Tattooine on in Stars Wars.
  • In fact, there's a bit of a Star Wars vibe to the whole Vanth-Syzygy interaction.
In the end, The Price has similar themes to Metamorphosis Odyssey: A man makes a decision with horrible consequences convinced that this is the best thing for the future.

It's funny that the titular hero of the graphic novel and series to follow has been a secondary character in stories focused on his succession of advisors. It's like Arthur had two Merlins and both of their stories got told before his got started. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Strange Stars Evolution

I've shown this page from the Strange Stars setting introduction before, but this is the latest iteration. Lester is has been honing the layout over time, and I think it looks great. The is is a bit over half done in layout.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Gloom Elves

Gloom or shadow elves are a subrace found in Noxia, the somber northern country of Azurth. They are Noxia's primary inhabitants, having risen from underground habitations to colonize the surface with the Witch Queen Morthalia's ritual working that caused Umbra, the Shadow Moon, to stand still above the land and made it visible to mundane eyes. The gloom elves were at first allies of Angvaine and Nocturose when the pair of would-be conquerors arrived from the Witchocracy of Ix. Ultimately, they sided with the rightful queen Morthalia after the usurpers fell out, and it's likely their wizards taught her the Umbral ritual.

Gloom elves have skin colors ranging from ashen to dark gray. Their eyes range from pale to the color of bloodstone. They are often thin by elven reckoning and have larger ears. Gloom elves are longer lived than other elves; they can live over a millennia. However, they decline more rapidly with age. This is often cited as the reason for their morbid pre-occupations and yearnings for undeath.

Ability Score Increase. Intelligent score increased by 1.
Superior Darkvision. Radius of 120 feet.
Sunlight Sensitivity. Gloom elves have a disadvantage on attack rolls and on vision-based Wisdom (Perception) checks in direct sunlight.
Cantrip. Gloom elves know one cantrip of their choice from the wizard spell list.
Weapon Training. They have a proficiency with rapiers, shortswords, and hand crossbows.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Frog Folk in 5e

Frox or Bufokin (a bit of a misnomer, as frox resemble frogs more than their warty, dry-skinned cousins) are amphibious humanoids native to the bottomlands and marshes of the country of Yanth. Following rivers, they've ranged beyond their ancestral home to be a common sight in river towns. Their call and response work songs can be heard dockside all over Azurth. Frox work as bargemen or stevedores in civilized areas, and as hunters, farmers, or guides in their villages.

Frox legends say they come from a land across the Boundless Sea, which they left to escape persecution by a terrible and poisonous race of toad-folk, but this claim is considered doubtful by the scholars of Azurth for many reasons--not the least of which being that the Boundless Sea has no other side!

Frox are generally shorter than humans and tend to be thinner of limb, though many develop a potbelly as they age. Their skin colors are generally a dull green or brown, though they range from muted reds to purplish-gray.

A wealthy Frox businessman and tribal chieftain visiting the palace

Frox Traits
Ability Score Increase. Dexterity increased by 2 and another ability score by 1.
Age. Frox live shorter lifespans than humans on average with only a few living beyond their mid-60s. They are mature by their early teens.
Alignment. Frox tend toward good but are have no special affinity for Law and Chaos.
Size. Frox are between 3 and 4 feet tall. Small.
Speed. Base walking speed in 25 feet.
Jumper. Frox can long jump their full Strength score in feet from standing start, and double their Strength in feet with at least 10 feet of movement in a running start. They can high jump a total of 6 feet (rather than the usual 3) + their Strength modifier in a moving high jump and  half that for a standing jump. They have an advantage on Dexterity (Acrobatics) checks to land in difficult terrain.
Swimmer. Frox can swim at their full movement rate and rough waters only cost them 1 extra foot for each foot of movement. They use double their Constitution modifier for the purposes of holding their breath.
Resistance to Poisons. Frox have an advantage on saving throws against poison and resistance against poison damage.
Moisture Dependent. Frox require twice as much water as most races. However, submerging most of their body in water for 20 minutes or more reduces their requirement to standard levels.
Languages. Frox can speak and read (limited) Common. They also speak their on croaking, chirping tongue, which has no written form.

[Thanks to Evan Elkins, the creator of the Froglings, the basis for the Frox.]

A frox traditional dwelling

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Planning for 5e: The Races

The traditional D&D races as presented aren't in many cases a precise fit for what I want to do with the campaign I'm planning, but I want to use more than I might otherwise to give D&D 5 a good trial, and to make things easy on my players.

Elves: They’ll be there, but I’m not sure quite how yet. Maybe some wood-elves with a Hobbit vibe to them. They will probably be rare, and in isolated places, at least within the Land of Azurth.

Dwarves: There probably will be something pretty much like the D&D standard dwarf, but these guys will be rare. The more common dwarf type will be something like the Kologor dwarves of Hollow World, i.e. the beer-drinking, ninepin-playing variety. There may also be something like the Dark Sun dwarf in the arid parts of Sang.

Halflings: Halfings will be in abundance, though they may not be distinguished from other “little people” races as much as in standard D&D. I suspect they may well have a chance of unusual traits like on the Dwarf Land trait tables.

Gnomes: Gnomes will just be another variety of little folk, distinguished only by their aptitude as tinkerers. There will be a number of them clustered around Viola, the Clockwork Princess of Yanth.

Tieflings: These will be the majority of the population in Daemonland beyond the borders of Azurth. They’ll show up elsewhere, but rarely. In appearance, they’ll typically be more DiTerlizzi than the 5e illustations.

Dragonborn: Though they may be a bit different, they’ll be found in Sang, but probably not elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesday Comics: Sketchy Syzygy

The end of The Price will wait another week. I read 5e instead of writing the post. Enjoy these renditions of Syzygy Darklock by other hands until that time:

Angel Medina gives us Dreadstar and Syzygy with a 90s sensibility.

alientechnology2mars delivers this cool rendition.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Maps for a Fairy Tale Pointcrawl

Looking around for cool fantasy maps, I've come across of number of maps of fairytales/folklore/myth. They don't have any hexes (though that could be remedied), but they've got all the encounters laid out right their for you.

Probably the biggest and best of these is Bernard Sleigh's "Ancient Map of Fairyland." It's really big, but you can peruse it and soak up all its detail here. If that's too much here's the slightly less detailed Jaro Hess map of the "The Land of Make Believe":

The writing is small there, but this blog post runs down a list of all the points.

Saving the easiest to read (and most modern) for last, here's a map by Walt Kelly of Pogo fame: