Monday, December 3, 2018

The Toad Temple Slaughter Continues

Our Land of Azurth 5e campaign continued last night, with the party and their compatriot, Calico Jack the Cat Man, locked in the Toad Temple and in command of the room, after killing a whole lot of cultists, but with an alarm sounded and voice announcing the presence of intruders. Their attempts to find an escape route or at least a place to hide, are stymied by the appearance of a a very angry radiant gun-armed warrior and her displacer beast pet.

The party tries to run at first and leaves their figurine of wondrous power, the ruby bear, fighting the displacer beast. The bear, unfortunately, is killed, and the warrior waits in ambush in a storeroom. She's tough, but she isn't tough enough to take the full onslaught of the party, particularly after her already-wounded pet is dispatched. At this point, though, the party is low on healing, and have exhausted most of their spells. In the assets column, however, they have gained two energy weapons and three temple access rings.

Waylon the Frogling discovers a secret door, just as they hear more voices in the nave outside. The part descends into the levels beneath the temple. Most rooms here are vacant--the owners appear to be out looking for the party, giving our heroes time to loot the cultists' rooms. They avoid a few soldiers on cleanup duty in the mess hall, but then run into a couple of monks and their acolytes in a study hall.

Threats with energy guns don't dissuade these fanatics, but they sure help put them down quickly. With their teacher's dead, the acolytes surrender--though they are just as fanatical and don't seem trustworthy. Still, when they let slip the existence of a route to a loading dock outside the temple, the party forces them to reveal its location.


Sunday, December 2, 2018

Devil-Man [ICONS]


Prowess: 6
Coordination: 6
Strength: 4
Intellect: 5
Awareness: 5
Willpower: 6

Determination: 3
Stamina: 10

Specialties: Athletics Expert, Investigation, Martial Arts Expert, Occult Expert, Stealth

The Curwen Curse
Hellfire Harrier of Evil-Doers
Wealthy Dilettante, Kurt Ward

Gadgets: Binding. Dazzle, Life Support 4
Devil-Darts (Stunning Device) 6
Devil-Line (Swinging Device): 3

Alter Ego: Kurt Ward
Occupation: Philanthropist; amateur occultist and antiquarian
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: Charles and Mary Ward (parents, deceased), Dane Ward (brother, possibly deceased), Libby Knight (neice), Roderick Curwen (ancestor)
Group Affiliation: Super-Sentinels
Base of Operations: Arkham
Height: 6’1” Weight: 210 lbs.
Eyes: Blue Hair: Red

Kurt Ward was born to an old and wealthy family, but one long considered cursed by the people of Arkham. They saw the death of Kurt’s parents in a strange automobile accident (and the presumed death of his older brother under mysterious circumstances) as the most recent evidence of this supernatural misfortune. Legend blamed the curse on the Wards’ ancestor, infamous occultist Roderick Curwen, who made a Faustian deal with the Devil but reneged on his part of the bargain.

Kurt spent years investigating Curwen and the supposed curse. One night, he discovered a secret cave beneath the family estate. There he found a journal that proved the old stories about his ancestor were true, at least in part. Roderick Curwen had indeed made a pact with a member of an extradimensional race he took to be the Biblical Devil for scientific knowledge. Curwen had used this knowledge to fight injustice as Doctor Diabolus, striving to find a way to escape his bargain.

Kurt decided to follow in his ancestor’s footsteps, using the equipment and knowledge Curwen had left behind. Drinking an “invitalizing draught,” he soon found his capacity for strength, agility, and endurance greatly increased. Fashioning a dramatic disguise from an old costume once worn by his father to party, he became a weird avenger of the night, a frightening foe of evil—and Devil-Man was born!

At first, Devil-Man was pursued by the Arkham Police, but eventually the Crimson Crusader came to terms with Police Chief Steve Harrison. Devil-Man became an official consultant to Harrison on his department’s weirdest cases.

Several years later, Ward took in young Jim Chase, whose occult detective parents had been murdered by a cult. Ward sensed in Jim the drive and raw skill to become his successor, but the eager young man wanted to be his partner. In a devil costume of his own, Jim became the first Imp.

Ward eventually discovered that Roderick Curwen’s contract with the Devils did indeed forfeit the soul of anyone who took up his mantle. Ward has not wavered from his fight against evil, but has began to seek a way out of his ancestor’s bargain.

Jim eventually ended his partnership with Devil-Man and took a new crimefighting identity as Hellion. Ward has recently acquired a new partner, his niece, Libby Knight, who has become the second Imp. Devil-Man and Imp continue to work with the Super-Sentinels.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Weird Revisited: Variations on a 4-D War

This post originally appeared in November of 2013 after the theatrical premiere of the Dr. Who episode, "Day of the Doctor."

I enjoyed "Day of the Doctor," but the last battle of the Time War seemed a little--prosaic--for a protracted conflict between two ultra-powerful, reality-spanning powers. It got me to thinking about the gaming potential of a Time War, or as Alan Moore had it Doctor Who Weekly: A 4-D War. I've got two ideas.

Version One: 
"'Nowhere' was run by an old sasquatch named Lukashev. Found as a baby at 25,000 feet, he was captured and trained. His youth was spent as part of a super-naut space program along with a chupacabra and a dinosaur from the future."
- Brandon Graham, King City
This version goes full Kirby and quite possibly layers on the gonzo. The Time War is strange and fought by strange combatants with stranger weapons. Lords of Creation probably has some inspiration for this version.(It might even provide a system if you could figure out how to play it! I kid, LoC fans.)

The combatants might be as starkly good and evil as Silver Age super-beings, or they might be painted in shades of gray with the protagonists (the PCs) cheerfully unconcerned with their superiors' ultimate goals--or even possibly their identities.

Version Two:
"Just remember this: All agents defect, and all resisters sell out."
- Naked Lunch (1991)
Maybe there's no need to be that cynical, but this version is Philip K. Dick by way of John le Carre. The time war is more of a cold war with brief flashes of violence. The weapons are still strange; they just get used less often. Individual agents might be a bit like 007 for a bit, but ultimately they may discover they've become Number 6 and all of spacetime is the Village.

The Agency is shadowy--and may in fact be the same as the Enemy, just at a different point on their timeline. All of this can be grim or even horrific, but it can also be played for satire (think G vs. E, and the relative amorality of Good and Evil in its cosmos).

Version Three:
Or, you could dial both of them back a bit and crash the two together. This is probably the Grant Morrison version (The Invisibles and The Filth would be good inspirations, here). Time agents are eclectic and flamboyant, but not usually Yeti's from alternate timelines. The weapons and battles are psychedelic, but the stakes can be grim, and the moral fog never dissipates--even in higher order dimensions.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Armchair Planet Marvel File

Since I've shifted to posting mostly ICONS stats now (since that's what I'll be using in the actually book), it seemed a good time to collate the FASERIP stats I did for the Armchair Planet characters.

Earth's Greatest Heroes:
Big Man
Cosmic Knight

and Bring on the Bad Guys:
Black Void
Professor Fright

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Wednesday Comics: Mike Barr's Dark Knight Detective

Mike W. Barr's work with Batman has not always been particularly respected. His Son of the Demon was excised from continuity and disavowed for decades, until Grant Morrison introduced Damien. Batman: Year Two, His follow-up to Miller's revision of Batman's origin, is reviled on the internet for being terrible, mainly because Batman uses a gun in it (despite the fact that's exactly what he did in some of his early appearances), but the story is the nucleus of the best Batman movie to date Mask of the Phantasm.

But in 1986, before Year Two, Barr and Alan Davis produced a series of stories in Detective Comics that swam against the tide of the grim and gritty Batman that eventually drowned most other portrayals. These were stories where villains really stuck their respective schticks in planning their crimes, fights might happen in the vicinity of giant appliances, death-traps galore, and Batman called Robin "chum." These stories (and one anomalous Legends tie-in preceding them) are collected in Batman: The Dark Knight Detective volume 1.

Despite some homages to the Batman TV show, this is not Batman '66. Instead it's a slightly lighter (mostly) side of the Bronze Age Batman, that just happened to come post-Crisis. They also have gorgeous Alan Davis art.

Monday, November 26, 2018


Prowess: 5
Coordination: 5
Strength: 4
Intellect: 4
Awareness: 5
Willpower: 5

Determination: 3
Stamina: 9

Specialties: Athletics, Investigation

Devil-Man's Sidekick
Wisecracking Teen Heroine
Daughter of Demoniac

Trident/Staff Device: Strike, Blast 4
Swinging Device: 3

Alter Ego: Elizabeth "Libby" Knight
Occupation: Student
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: Dane Ward (father, possibly deceased), Kurt Ward (paternal uncle)
Group Affiliation: Partner of Devil-Man
Base of Operations: Arkham
First Appearance: DEVIL-MAN #362
Height: 5'4"  Weight: 105 lbs.
Eyes: Blue  Hair: Reddish blonde

Orphaned Libby Knight discovered a serious of startling family secrets. Not only was her biological father the super-villain cult leader, Demoniac, but her uncle and guardian was the superhero Devil-Man! Libby joined her uncle in crime-fighting, replacing Jim Chase as Devil-Man's partner, the incredible Imp!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Professor Fright [ICONS]

Art by Dean Kotz
Prowess: 3
Coordination: 4
Strength: 3
Intellect: 5
Awareness: 5
Willpower: 5

Stamina: 8

Specialties: Science

"My genius will be recognized!"
Hammy TV Horror Host
Sadistic Streak

Fear Broadcast (Emotion Control Device, victims must be able to hear and/or see the broadcast): 7
Mind Control Device (Broadcast, hypnosis--can only make victims do actions that would arise from fear, must be seen and/or heard): 6

Alter Ego: Zachary Graves
Occupation: Former television personality and psychology professor
Marital Status: Divorced
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: Masters of Menace
Base of Operations: Arkham
First Appearance: FRIGHTFUL TALES #1
Height: 6'0"  Weight: 174 lbs.
Eyes: Gray  Hair: Black

Zachary Graves was fascinated with fear from a young age. He pursued a career in psychology  was a specialty in research into fright. Though concern about the direction his studies were taking drove him from academia, he found work as a horror movie host on a local television station, creating the character "Professor Fright." There he perfected his broadcast device for causing frightening hallucinations in the viewer, but was he fired when an intern was injured tampering with the device. Graves attempted to sell this invention to a defense contractor, but reputation as a television personality led them to dismiss him as an eccentric. Angered at the world he perceived as failing to reward his genius, Graves used his device to get revenge on those who wronged him as Professor Fright!