Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Otus Pantheon

Blame Chris Kutalik. He did a post Sunday about imagining a pantheon based on Erol Otus strange evocative illustrations in Deities & Demigods. This is what I came up with:

Click to check it out in its enlarged "glory." The domains provided are for 5th edition.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Last Fighter (part 2)

My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Last Fighter (1979) (part 2)
Art by Don Lawrence & Script by Martin Lodewijk

With Ember in a cage hanging over the mouth of a mostly- buried, giant god-thing, the implicit threat is clear: Storm is to be the city's champion and fight for the throne of the Palace of Death. Or else.

A guide leads Storm from the city and on a several day's trek across the desert. They come to a mountain range and take a very narrow pass through it that looks like it was cut by intense hit. As they emerge on the other side, some sort of giant turtle monster approaches--only to get sliced in half by an energy beam. The guide says the gods punish large animals that try to approach. He leaves Storm at the Valley of Bones. Only champions are allowed to go further.

Storm follows the path across the bones and soon sees the "Palace of Death" before him:

Storm moves closer and finds the other champions waiting for him.

The old man says he's the Guardian of the Palace. Now that Storm has arrived they can begin. The Guardian will guide them through the traps and perils to the place where the last champion died the previous year. From there, he will observe their progress and be able to report the knowledge gained in their respective demises to the champions the following year. Storm asks how long has this gone on, and the Guardian tells him it has been thousands of years. The current guardian is the 615th.

He leads the champions single file along an invisible but torturous path to the "palace." One champion decides to walk directly there; he's disintegrated for his impatience. The rest make it to the ship. Once inside, they pass through a series of traps: portals that grow hot if you don't pass through quickly enough, hypnotic-patterned walls, checkerboard floors that have to be tread on in a certain pattern, and more. They lose two more champions reaching the point that marks the extent of the Guardian's knowledge.

The first champion sent into the next room falls through a trapdoor into lava. Storm is next up; the Guardian counted the steps and tells Storm when to jump. Asverze [Skarla in the Titan Books version], the only female champion, is sent first into the next room. She finds herself facing a duplicate.

Storm realizes the ship's computer is generating a hologram to match her moves, He rushes into the room over the Guardian's protests to add another element to the equation. Forced to fight shifting opponents, the duplicates' movements get slower and they eventually disappear.

From that point on, Storm leads the way using his new understanding of the palace to guide them. The Guardian decries this all as blasphemy, but nobody listens. Passing through the traps, they find an escalator with skeletons of ancient crew scattered about. They take the escalator to the control room--and the "throne" of the Palace.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Three Worlds: A Strange Stars OSR Excerpt

From the pages of the upcoming Strange Stars OSR, here are three worlds detailed in Stars Without Number style:

Tags  Seagoing Cities, Zombies
Enemies  Animated bioroid beast, Vrzemko Koprdazak xenophobic local kommissar, Zyta Hrenj paranoid ranger
Friends  Scientist Jarka Lissik seeking communication with the Cold Minds, Local trader Balok Zek
Complications Transport breakdown out on the ice, Dead from a sunken warship animated by the Cold Minds
Things Container of weaponized microorganisms; Exclusive trade contract with the uldra
Places Ranger station beneath the ice, The subsurface levels of a trading settlement

Tags  Desert World, Local Specialty
Enemies Crazy bot-breaker Haxo Ysgar; Robber gang
Friends Merc Faizura Deyr working for the bot-breakers, Free trader supplying bot-breakers
Complications.Von Neumann machine swarm, A malfunctioning giant robot 
Things Hidden entrance to the mysterious planetary substructure, A forgotten, ancient giant bot
Places A shanty town; A junkyard

Tags  Local Tech, Flying City, Badlands World
Enemies Industrial spy disguised as a technician, Dark dream-dealer Arden-Decima
Friends Customer interface specialist Soren-Tertia, Short-duration reverie designer Alex-Quintus
Complications A loosed frumious bandersnatch, Wealthy BASE-jumpers wingsuit-flying to the planet’s surface
Things An experimental dream drug product, A captured art-monster, weaponized dream-tech
Places The sky city of Eidolon, An ancient underground vault

Friday, February 5, 2016

In Space No One Can Hear You Scream

I'd initially planned to not to get any new art for the Strange Stars OSR book, instead reusing the great stuff that had been done for the Fate book, but when Jason Sholtis expressed interest in doing a piece, I had to take him up on it.

This illustration will likely head (appropriately) the monster/NPCs chapter. Currently, that chapters contents include stats for Algosian torture cultists, Caliban cannibals, Hyehoon Eden Seeker terrorists, Eratoan assassins, and of course, three colors of ssraad--among others.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Strange Stars W,X, and Y

Over at the Fate SF blog, John Till (author of Strange Stars Fate) is in the final lap of his "Strange Stars A-Z." This week, he's covered:

W for "Woon Academies"
X for the nongendered pronouns "Xe-Xem-Xir"
and Y for a "Yantran Holiday"

Check these out--and the older entries!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Last Fighter

My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Last Fighter (1979)
Art by Don Lawrence & Script by Martin Lodewijk

In the desert foothills of the Bahamas (the ocean waters had again seeped underground, or either last volume’s flood was very localized), Stom wrestles a deer-like creature to the ground, then he and Ember (Carrots in the last story) cook it over a fire. Storm again tells her about Jupiter’s Red Spot and his journey to the future. His story is met with incredulity by a man who has somehow managed to sneak up on them, riding what looks like a giant, crawling shrimp.

He them to join his troupe; he thinks Storm could be a star attraction. Storm and Ember decline. To persuade the, he opens a wicker basket and releases two bat-insect creatures--flix. Storm jumps the man and puts him in a headlock, but it’s too late:

Storm, too, is fitted with a flix, and the man (Tchell) leads them to meet Master Cush1 and his Travelling Show of “monsters, marvels, minstrels, and magic.” Cush is immediately impressed with Ember, thinking she’d bring a high price in the East, but when she tells him what she thinks of that idea, he realizes he’ll have to reconsider: Maybe she could be a gladiator?

Cush sees Storm's potential as a fighter. He gives him a tryout against Barledoon2, an imposing mohawked gladiator.  Storm surprises Barledoon with his agility and martial arts and knocks the big man down. Cush doesn't know what to make of all this; it looks like acrobatics more than fighting. He calls for swords. Barledoon gets the better of Storm here. Cush tasks Barledoon with turning the acrobat into a fighter.

Over the next few weeks, Barledoon trains Storm in swordsmanship. Whenever he’s not training, he still has the flix on him, and he’s told the telepathic creatures can even sense thoughts of escape! Soon, they seen the walled city of Soamandrakisal3 where they are to perform. The crowds turn out to watch as the troupe parades into town.

That night, Barledoon is chosen to fight the champion of the city in the arena. He seems fatalistic about it, which Storm doesn’t understand, given that Soamandrakisal’s champion looks like a complete amateur. Barledoon takes a drink offered him with Master Cush’s compliments, then enters the arena. Barledoon’s movements are sluggish, and he’s quickly killed.

Storm can’t believe it. Tchell reveals that Barledoon was drugged so he would lose to the city’s champion, so Cush could stay in the good graces of the city’s leaders. Barledoon knew he was going to his death. Storm is so incensed, he knocks the champion down even as Cush is praising the man to the crowd. Storm misses Cush saying the champion will “travel to the Valley of Bones and bring back the power of the Palace of Death.”

Cush tries to stop Storm, but to no avail. The champion gets a drop kick out of the Captain Kirk handbook and is knocked out. The crowd starts to turn ugly. Cush, thinking quickly, tells them that his traveling show acquired Storm and trained him for this moment—to be a worthy champion for Soamandrakisal. The town leaders buy it, and Storm (under threat of Ember’s life) is the new champion. Though he’s given a place of honor the rest of the show, all he thinks about escape.

That night, Cush exhorts his troupe to pack up quickly so they can get out of town before things go bad. They aren't fast enough:

The town father and his retinue of soldiers want to know what will motivate their reluctant champion to complete his task and return to Soamandrakisal with the powers of the Palace of Death. Cush assures him he has a way.

The next morning, the man lays out Storm’s mission—and its potential deadliness to him: He must be Soamandrakisal’s champion and fight against the champions of all the other cities to achieve the throne of the Palace of Death, and Soamandrakisal can rule the world. The man takes Storm on a little walk to a temple:


1. "Keng" in the 1987 Titan Books English translation.
2. "Karn" in Titan Books.
3. "Kalthike" in Titan Books.

Monday, February 1, 2016


So The 100 is back for its third season, again to put CW teens through the ringer in a brutal post-apocalypse (which is really fun to watch, if you haven't seen it). Trigadasleng, the sort of pidgin-sounding language of "the Grounders" (the primitive survivors on Earth that our space station bred protagonists must contend with) is pretty well developed, it turns out.  It was developed by David J. Petersen, the same guy who did Dothraki and Valyrian for Game of Thrones.

Check out this overview of Trigadasleng and this fan made full dictionary. Could be useful for your own post-apocalyptic setting. Gamma World-ese (at least as portrayed in the monster naming) isn't too conceptually different.