Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Battle for Earth

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

Storm: The Battle for Earth (1980)
(Dutch: De Strijd om de Aarde)
Art by Don Lawrence & Script by Dick Matena

Leaving their doomed world, the Azurians set about conquering planets throughout the galaxy. One of those worlds was Earth. They wiped the minds of the conquered survivors, destroying civilization and returning humanity to barbarism. They cultivated spies among the surviving humans to ensure their technological knowledge rose above a certain level.

When Storm arrived in their time and discovered what they had done, it had the potential to disrupt their plans. They had no choice but to hunt him down and destroy him. So far, that's proved difficult. Despite their advanced sensors, they have been unable to locate Storm and Ember.

An Azurian patrol finds a hidden entrance in the wall of a ravine. They enter it and discover an ancient ruin where they're set upon by barbarians. Though they have superior weapons, they're overwhelmed by the human's numbers.

The captive Azurians are taken to an audience chamber to the human's leader, Mordegai. The blue men confirm the story of their other prisoner's: Storm and Ember, by calling out Storm by name. The warrior, Balder, still isn't convinced they shouldn't kill Storm. He hasn't trusted the two strangers since they found them at the entrance to their cave. He doesn't believe Storm's story that their cave is actually a bomb shelter built to protect human's against the Azurian onslaught.

Mordegai has had enough of Balder's lip and sends him away. Mordegai apologizes for Balder, explaining that they have had to fight many other tribes that have tried to invade their caves. Storm points out that it didn't take long for the Azurians to find them. Others will follow.

Storm has a plan. There must be a power generator and equipment in this shelter, perhaps ones that have never been used. They may be able to use them to make weapons to fight back against the Azurians. Mordegai agrees to the plan. With the help of his people work begins.


Monday, May 2, 2016

A Tower in Gelatin Floats By

art by Jeff Call
Our 5e Land of Azurth game continued last night with our heroes planning on taking Gwendolin Goode back to her parents and relieving the pirate queen Black Iris (both of whom they rescued from the Candy Isle) of some of her treasure, but in disagreement about how forcefully they wished to pursue either goal. Before they could come to consensus, Cog sighted something strange off the bow: a large, floating, blue gelatinous bubble with a broken up tower inside, and a few fallen or tottering trees along the outer edge.

The PCs couldn't quite comprehend how this came to be, but it seemed to be drifting, so they surmised it must have slid off land somewhere. Black Iris wants to investigate (which makes Shade the Ranger suspicious of a trap) but talk of a wizard's magic treasure soon has Waylon the thief and Erekose also favoring exploration.

The player's entered the open balcony. I won't describe what they found in detail (you should read Jeff Call's one page dungeon!) but I'll summarize the high points: they defeated a lisping, anthrophagous black pudding with an odd since of propriety, rescuing two scrawny cooks in the process; they saved the same cooks again from a confused, jade bear who turned back into a statuette after being "talked down" by the ranger; they used a table to form a tunnel to protect themselves from falling gelatin to took the weapons from the armory and rescue a servant from the privy, being reward with a gaudy ring of protection with a jewel as large (and as fake) as a ring-pop's.

That was as far as they dared explore with some of the rooms beginning to crumble. The servant told them the sad tale of his former master, the Wizard, Clabber, who had summoned the great former king of the Ooze Folk, Goo the Great, and in doing so brought about his own end. The servant also mentioned "vampire dignitaries," which made them surer in their desire not to push on. They circumnavigated the blob, hoping to find more easy picking near the surface but were unsuccessful.

So they sailed back to the Motley Isles and then for the coast of Yanth. They got 3 magic items from tower, 10% of Black Iris's treasure, and one of her magic items: a page from The Book of Doors, which is a portal to...somewhere. She also introduced them to conspiracies about the hidden malevolence of the Wizard of Azurth, but they considered that to be nonsense. Miss Goode got returned to her parents (though she's likely to run away again) and received a stern lecture from the bard Kully about life choices.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Heroes of the Islands

art by Herb Kāne

Erene was the most beautiful woman in the world, so beautiful that it was said she was the daughter of the Sky God Tiwo, who had lain with the wife of the Chieftain of Raketaminio. She was married to Mengerao son of Ateru, but stolen by Prince Palitisi of Taloia. Mengerao called upon his brother, Akakamuna, mighty chief of Mukanai, his face tattooed with the likeness of the tusk and whiskers of the boar, for aid, and a great host was assembled and there war canoes made for Taloia, with cunning Uluihi, veteran Nehetoru, and strong Aiwaha among them. Greatest in battle would be the demigod Akirihi, who would dance his war dance before palisades of Taloia and kill its champion E’etolo with his shark-toothed war club.

So, basically: Why not recast the Greek Age of Heroes in a pseudo-Polynesian fantasy Oceania? Here's a list of gods (with name variants):

Tiwo/Kiwe: Sky God
Era/Ela: His wife
Emā: Messanger god
Are/Ale: War god
Tiwonuho/Kiwonuho: God of kava and beer
Apaitio/Apaikio: Volcano god.
Pāwone/Aparanu: God of song
Pohetahone/Pohekao: Sea god.
Atana/Akana: Goddess of Wisdom
Atamito/Akemike: Shark goddess of the hunt
Apatite/Apakiki: Love and fertility goddess
Ehatia/Ehakia: Goddess of the cook fires
Tamate/Kamaki: Goddess of cultivated crops, particularly sweet potato and taro

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Motley Isles

The Motley Isles lie but a few miles from the coast of the Country of Yanth in the Boundless Sea. The islands are known as a haven of pirates who value their freedom above all else, except perhaps the plunder they take from hapless ships.  Vessels that call the Motley Isles their home often fly a distinctive flag: a skull and crossbones emblazoned on a crazy-quilt pattern.

The only settlement of note on the isles is Polychrome. The authorities in Yanth and the Land of Azurth in general paint Polychrome (and the Isles in general) as a place without law, but this is not entirely correct. Polychrome has few codified laws, its true (other than those governing apportioning of shares of loot and the sanctity of property) but disputes between between individuals or groups of folk are settled in a prescribed manner. In the town hall of Polychrome there is an ancient, oracular device: a black sphere marked with a skull and crossbones.

The origins of the device are obscure, but it is doubtful that it was made the Land of Azurth. It is operated by shaking it and reading its pronouncement in a window on the underside. The answers it provides requires some interpretation, and that is provided by officiant who perform the ritual. Such is the aversion of the pirates to anything that smacks of governmental service, they rely on press gangs to force citizens into service.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday Comics: The Spire

My review of the Storm Chronicles is going to take a two week break but will return. In other comic news, the 2016 Eisner nominees are out and The Spire was among the titles to make the list for "Best Limited Series." I reviewed the first four issues of the series here and then...well, I probably got distracted by something else. But I didn't quit reading the series, and I'm eagerly anticipating it's final issue.

To review, the Spire is a tower-city and bastion of humanity rising out of a toxic alien desert. Commader Shå of the city watch, a "skew" (a slur for a nonhuman), has to deal with the prejudices of the people around her while trying to catch a murderer whose crimes have ties to the city's past.

The issues are available now. The trade will be out in December.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Azurth NPC Card

Over the weekend, I got to thinking using Jeff Call's great character portraits only on the record sheets for the pregens wouldn't allow enough folks to see them all, so I decided to do a giveaway for the Hydra booth: 3x5 NPC cards statted for 5e. Shouldn't be too hard to get those printed up.

Here's a sample of the front and back of one:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Mystery Men! 2nd Edition

John M. Stater of the Land of Nod blog has just recently released the 2nd edition of his Mystery Men! superhero rpg. As readers of this blog know, I am a big fan of superhero stuff, and I've also noted before how Mr. Stater is one of the most prolific quality content generators in these parts, so this project was definitely in my wheelhouse.

D&D mechanic-based superheroes has never been my first go to, but John employs it to really good effect. It seems like it would be light and fast place to play, and without the fiddly bits that slow up character creation in something like Mutants & Masterminds. The graphic design and art both seem to support this sort of "open the book and go!" inviting feel.

John has also got support for the system over on his blog. Only one post for the latest version yet, but you can check out the likes of Crystar the Crystal Warrior for the first edition and a fembot from Doctor Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine.

Check that stuff out, then get over to rpgnow and get yourself a copy.