Thursday, May 21, 2015

Strange Stars: Trouble with 'Bots

I figured it was time for another tease of the (limited) number of new pieces of art that will appear in the Strange Stars gamebooks. This one is by Adam Moore, who Weird Adventures fans may remember from this great illustration.

I hope you guys dig it as much as I do.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Comics Apocalypses

There have been a lot of post-apocalyptic comics. (I've covered several before on this blog, in fact!) Over the next installments, I won't to point out the various post-apoc comics in print somewhere besides the back issue bin (and maybe a few that are only there). We'll start with DC:

Atomic Knights
What's the apocalypse? "The Hydrogen War," October 1986.
Who are the heroes? The Atomic Knights who wear armor from the Middle Ages and ride giant mutant Dalmatians to help rebuild society and right wrongs.
Where can you read it? Atomic Knights (hardcover), Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster (soft cover, b&w).

What's the Apocalypse? The Great Disaster, the nature of which is unspecified.
Who are the heroes? The Last Boy on Earth (Kamandi) and his friends and allies, who fight weird mutant animal cultures and other oddities.
Where can you read it? Kamandi Omnibus vol. One and Two

Hercules Unbound
What's the Apocalypse? A nuclear war
Who are the heroes? Hercules and his teen friends fighting Ares and his minions.
Where can you read it? Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster

What's the Apocalypse? A limited nuclear war ca. 2045.
Who are the heroes? Jonah Hex (the Old West anti-hero) brought to future.
Where can you read it? In back issues only, alas.

What's the Apocalypse? "The Blight", an ecological disaster. Then the creatures of myth and magic return.
Who are the heroes? Prosper Monday and other human survivors in world overrun by creatures from myth and legend.
Where can you read it? Starting with Hinterkind vol 1: The Waking World

Y: The Last Man
What's the Apocalypse? A genetic plague that wipes out almost everyone with a Y chromosome in July of 2002.
Who are the heroes? Yorick Brown, the last man, and his monkey Ampersand.
Where can you read it? Starting with Y: The Last Man Book One

Monday, May 18, 2015

White Star

While I toil away at getting Strange Stars Fate ready to go, Mike aka Wrathofzombie continues to throw out quick adaptations of Strange Stars stuff to other systems. This time, he's statted some of the sophont clades for the new OSR sensation White Star .

Check out what Mike's done here!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ursoid Mutant Dunes

Saw Mad Max: Fury Road this weekend and got a hankering for post-apocalyptic gaming? I've got just the thing for a Mutant Future or Gamma World mini-sandbox: do a bit of reskinning on Chris Kutalik's Slumbering Ursine Dunes (if you don't have copy--well, it's available now.)  Here's some thoughts on changing the basic setup.

Out in the desert, there's an ancient rune and a crashed alien spacecraft, slowly burning holes in reality itself.

The Background as Only the GM Knows It
Milt Grisley was an underground cartoonist who got his chance to sell out in the eighties. His Sleepy Beartm character went from counter-culture anti-hero to toyetic, afernoon cartoon pitch-man--and made Grisley rich in the process. Theme parks followed--the one outside of Las Vegas was the biggest, Once Grisley was well into Howard Hughes level eccentricity, he even had a futuristic, planned community built nearby. It was going to be a utopia in the desert run by a super-conputer and thoroughly Sleepy Bear-branded. Then the bombs dropped.

The super-computer has grown more self-aware over the centuries--and also crazier. It thinks it's the real Sleep Bear, now. Its public face is one of the old animatronic, amusement park bears. Somewhere along the way, a tribe of mutated ursoids found it (perhaps following the old signs emblazoned with Sleepy Beartm) and now worship it like a god, following the computer's every command no matter how ridiculous.

They bothered no one. They even allowed some humans to settle nearby. Everything was fine until the crash. A saucer full of Greys, sliding across dimensions, went down in the desert near the installation. Maybe it had something to do with a top secret military installation the government never officially acknowledged that was hidden near Bear Town, or maybe it was just a freak coincidence. Whatever the cause, crash it did, and its reality-shifting engines went critical, dumping their cosmomorphic fuel all over the landscape, turning everything weird...

So, hopefully the recastings are clear: Medved is the super-computer whose avatar is an animatronic cartoon bear. The Eld are Greys and their golden barge is a big saucer (don't worry about the different deckplans. It's weird on the inside.) The Weird is created by spaceship fuel. Ondrej is probably a mutant shark and cartoonish pirate, holed up in the pirate island in the middle of the brackish and radioactive artificial lake in the amusement park.

See, not so hard? I'll let you take it from there. Make your own adventure in the Mutants Dunes.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Zonal Aberrations

Aberrations (not to be confused with the D&D monster type) are a type of hazard encountered in zones. The resemble mobile anomalies in some ways, but they exhibit wider patterns of behavior, resembling (at least in limited observation) living things. They are abiologic, however; their tissues (if they have them at all) appear undifferentiated to close inspection, or they may have simulacra of organs that are clear nonfunctional. They do not appear to eat, grow, or reproduce, though they sometimes mimic behaviors associated with these activities. They can not be destroyed or driven off by "wounding" them (in most cases, it's unclear if they can be wounded) but must be completely destroyed.

Aberrations have a substance (similar to the manifestations of anomalies), a behavior pattern, and effects/abilities. A lot of D&D monsters would make good inspiration for aberrations. So are some paranormal or folkloric entities but keep in mind in their game usage they are more like obstacles or traps than monsters to be fought. Slimes and oozes are good models. You could destroy them, but it's generally more fruitful to just avoid them.

Unlike most anomalies, aberrations can spot/notice things approaching them as well as being noticed themselves--though the sensory modality by which they do this isn't clear. They are not usually as tied to as specific an area as anomalies, but most will have a specific territory, in the way an animal might.

1  Apparition
2  Construct
3  Crystalline/Mineral
4  Flesh
5  Fluid
6  Gas
7  Growth
8  Light
9  Ooze/Slime/Gelatinous
10 Shadow

1  Ambusher. Lies in wait, sometimes in a dormant or indolent state, until approached.
2  Builder. Involved in some sort of construction project like a nest or nonrepresentational sculpture.
3  Chaser. After detecting target, follows targets at a high rate of speed.
4  Collector. Forages for particular objects or objects with particular characteristics.
5  Follower. Loosely joins with the target, following at a respectful distance without overt hostility.
6  Guard. Only active in a certain area. Patrols and menaces those who enter.
7  Harbinger. Appearance precedes some other event.
8  Lurker. Follows targets, but furtively, as if shy.
9  Mimic. Seems to repeat the actions or behaviors of a target.
10 Ritualist. Performs certain fairly complicated but perhaps mundane actions over and over.
11 Swarm. Smaller entities surround targets.
12 Snooper. Curious, possibly annoyingly and intrusively so, but not threatening.
13 Stalker. After detecting target, hunts it over distances.
14 Watcher. Stays in plan view, but at some remove as if only there to observe. No direct interaction.

Effects: Use the table for Zonal Anomalies--or borrow from a monster.

chasing shadow: Too thick and deep black to be natural, the chasing shadow is nevertheless able to lurk unseen in normal darkness. It slides out of hiding when a living thing draws near, and if not stopped, attaches itself to them at their feet like a normal shadow--though does not also flow out in the same direction as the natural one. It slowly begins to crawl up the victims body and if not stopped, will cover a person complete in darkness in 20-30 hours. Over the next 30-45 minutes it will contort and collapse their body until only the flat shadow remains. What happens to the victim is unknown. If caught early, the shadow can be removed but only if the victim is surrounded by bright light and a small laser (like a laser pointer, for example) is used carefully "cut" away from the chasing shadow.

grim: Something like the featureless, white quadrupedal shape, surrounded by blotchy redness, like the silhouette of a large dog outlined in red spray paint. Grims simply appear on high ground, never approaching, and retreating if they are approached. They usual appear after someone has been seriously wounded, and Zone hunters fear them as a harbinger of death.

memory flashes: Groups of will-o'-the-wisp-like flashes of light with colorful after-images. They move quickly to swarm around a person, typically for no more than a minute. After the flashes pass, a person so caught will have one or more new memories of things that happened to someone else instead of them. They will also likely notice at some point that one or more of their own memories are missing--always small, discrete things, but perhaps important (like a telephone number of the location of something).

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Brawl with the Burly Brothers

My group met with everyone present for the first time in several months this past weekend to revisit the Land of Azurth and deal with those blackguard Burly Brothers in their former prison hulk hideout. Skim the former posts to get up to speed.

So, the Burly Brothers are holed up on the lower deck. All their henchmen are dead or fled, but the Brothers still have the Lardafan Vagrant-Ambassador Lumpley Gritz and his monkey Mister Jip in their meaty grasp.

The Brothers want to negotiate the parties' withdrawal, but our heroes are having none of it. Cully, the bard, goes in to check the safety of the ambassador (and use a sleep spell to secure his release) but gets buffaloed by a Burly and the spell just puts the ambassador to sleep. Negotiations are over!

The odds aren't in the Burly Brothers' favor, but they're bruisers of ogrish size, so they can take a lot of punishment--and dish it out. The Erkose the Fighter and Waylon the Frogling join Cully the Bard in unconsciousness. Kairon the Warlock and Shae the Ranger keep the ranged attacks going, but for a while it doesn't seem like they're going to be able to hold out. Luckily, Dagmar the Cleric is able to sneak around and apply some healing spells and pass some healing berries. Waylon gets a surprise attack on Brother M'Gog and finishes him.

Brother Goofus goes into a killing frenzy and charges into melee range with Shae, he's put down too. After a long battle, the Burly Brothers and their organization are no more.

The gang scavenges the ship for treasure. Among a reasonable hall of silver, they find an usual item that appears magical:

They plan to visit the Queen Azura and let the Queen of the Floating World, Calico Bonny know they've taken out her rival, then see if they can get an audience with the Clockwork Princess Viola to find out about the mysterious item.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Warlord Wednesday: They Keep Killing Travis Morgan

Convergence #5 came out last week and it continues a story featuring Skartaris and a lot of the characters from the Warlord series--including Travis Morgan, who has you may recalled, died and was replaced by his son. Joshua the Warlord is no where in evidence here and Travis Morgan is quickly killed again by Deimos:

Machiste and Tara are also killed in what's either the eliminating of minor characters to artificially raise the stakes or clearing the dead wood of characters they aren't planning on using again. Either way, it's sloppily done not just because of the continuity flubs mentioned above, but because the writer doesn't seem to have read many (if any) Warlord comics. He has everybody (including his mate, Tara!) call him "Warlord" something that was rarely if ever done in the comics and certainly not his close friends or longterm enemy.

It's a nice looking book, though, with art by Kubert and Hope: