Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: Ballad: Kilt Him A B'ar

Here's another installment of my examination of  the adventures DC Comics' Travis Morgan--The Warlord.  The earlier installments can be found here...

"Ballad Part 1: Kilt Him a B'ar"
Warlord (vol. 2) #1 (January 1992)
Written by Mike Grell; Art by Dameon Willich and Rick Hoberg

Synopsis: A lone minstrel makes his way on horseback across the dangerous wilderness of Skartaris to the Terminator and the dangerous “civilization” of an outpost named Hazrak. He takes a gig in a tavern, but finds it ill-suited to songs of love. Finally, he hits on the ballad of the Warlord and that gets the room to pay attention.

After the performance, he’s approached by a grizzled veteran who tells him he’s a fool for believing that heroic nonsense—just like the man he’s singing about. The minstrel chides the old man for defaming a hero.


The man agrees the Warlord is a legend, and that he could have been a hero.

The Warlord had been a great warrior, and inspired men on the battlefield. He also inspired with his words:


But in the end:


The veteran recounts the Warlord’s origin: how he came from another world, one the heart of a warrior queen, rose from slavery in the gladiatorial arena to lead a revolution across Skartaris. That was when the veteran (who had been a scholar-slave for a Theran noble) came to meet him. The Warlord told the scholar a little about his home world, but also revealed what he knew of Skartaris’s Atlantean past.

The minstrel is skeptical about all of this. The old scholar turned veteran issues a challenge:


Things to Notice:
  • Grell provides the cover.
  • None of the Warlord regular cast appear in this issue except in flashback.
Where It Comes From:
From the outset, it's clear that Grell is looking to chart a different course in this limited series than the writers that followed him on the original title. He returns to the theme of the flaws--the fundamental tragedy--of Travis Morgan's character and amplifies it.

This series serves to balance the view Morgan's perspective on his life as somewhat illustrated in the appearance in Green Arrow. There he's Peter Pan. Here we see the how the adult world reacts to him.

In presenting Skartaris to us, Grell shows a unicorn being eaten by a carnosaur. Like I mentioned way back in my commentary to volume 1 issue #12, the unicorn again seems to represent the beauty and fantastic nature of Skartaris.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Centaurs


The Kentauroi tribes are one of several cross species hybrid creatures including satyrs, sileni, and the bull-horned centaurs of Cyprus. The centaurs (and possibly all the hybrids) were the creation of two unusual gods. Nephele was an intelligence distributed through a cloud of nanites that (perhaps as a joke on the part of Zeus) typically coalesced into a semblance of Hera. Nephele's co-researcher and transport was an intelligent saucercraft called Ixion. Nephele provided gentle persuasion, while Ixion's weapons provded force when necessary.

The centaurs were loosely based on the design of Chiron, a forgotten creation of Kronos, and an immortal in his own right. Nephele and Ixion's design for a hominid-equine cross didn't have Chiron's intelligence or immortality. An initial breeding population was released in the area of Mount Pelion. Once this group became established, some were relocated to the western Peloponesse.

The centaur tribes are considered savages by the Greeks. They have not mastered metallurgy or agriculture. They trade with more advanced cultures for metal weapons and alcohol--if anyone is foolish or greedy enough to give it to them.

Mutant Future Centaurs would be the same as their Labyrinth Lord counterparts, except of course they have the mutation aberrant form. Cyprian Centaurs with horns are able to substitute their one weapon attack or their two hooves for a head butt doing 1d6 damage.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Jewel in the Skull


Anybody who has been reading my blog for a while, knows I like to do posts where I do a setting riff off an image. This actually harkens back to one of my first world-building attempts, when I was only a player thinking about dungeonmastering where I tried to make a coherent setting out of what the painting and sketches in Frank Frazetta, Book Two. I decided to start a tumblr blog to indulge that a little more, at least in the area of Sword & Sorcery-esque fantasy. In addition to the setting snippets, it will also be a repository of random fantasy art I come across. Check it out here. It will also be added down in the "Blogs of Interest" section of the sidebar.

In case anyone wonders, I am by no means abandoning this blog and plan to keep up my same posting schedule.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Communication Breakdown

With human-descended cultures and associated xenosopohonts spread out over 3000 cubic parsecs, hundreds of thousands of forms of communication are in use. While regional trade languages exist, the problem is mostly side stepped by the use of translation software. Upon arriving in a new place and connecting to its metascape, any necessary translation software integrates itself seamlessly with a visitor's netlink. Only the most backward or isolationist habitats deny complete translation, and even most of those find it expedient to allow limited translation of signage, official communications, and the like.

The visitor will hear speakers in their native tongue (though their netlinks will note the actual languages used), unless they utilize more primitive visual-only links, in which case the translation will appear as "subtitles."   For those with a need to blend in, direct neurologic download of language software is employed. This was once more widespread, but it's susceptibility to hacking proved its undoing.

The most notorious of these attacks was caused by the "23 Enigma" virus in the time of the Radiant Polity. It is believed to have been perpetrated by a hacker collective called the Nova Mob, though there was never any official statement of responsibility. The virus was named for a quirk (or perhaps a signature) in its code that left its victims unable to speak the words "twenty-three." Instead, they would replace it with a close approximate ("twenty" or "twenty-five," perhaps). The virus was a bit of nanomachinery, phage-delivered into the microbial vector employed to carry the translator code to the brain of biologics. The changes caused a global aphasia and lowered stress tolerance, leading to explosive reactions when communication with anyone was (predictably) ineffective. This reaction was particularly pronounced against moravecs and infosophonts, likely by design.

The malware vector was aerosolized, so it spread quickly throughout habitats. Quarantines were put in place, but these were often policed by bots, which only intensified the anger of the populace. It was weeks before the virus was contained in the most places and civil order restored.

For years afterward, it was a frequent conspiracy theory in the noosphere that hacks of Enigma 23 existed that were more subtle, that shadowy forces were using it to surreptitiously shape the language (and therefore the thought process) of the populace.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: Green Arrow

Here's another installment of my examination of  the adventures DC Comics' Travis Morgan--The Warlord.  The earlier installments can be found here...

"Enter..." / "Seige"
Green Arrow (vol. 2) #27-28 (Dec 1989-Jan 1990)
Written by Mike Grell; Pencils by Dan Jurgens, Inks by Dick Giordano and Frank McLaughlin

Synopsis: A stranger keeps getting hassled on the streets of Seattle by thugs and criminals who mistake him for the new “Robin Hood” vigilante. Some of them begin to suspect he’s a different guy, as he deals with his opponents in a more ruthless way than the vigilante in green has previously.

The stranger (Morgan) is getting irritated at all this attention and tracks down the guy responsible: Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow. Morgan tells Queen that he's pissed a lot of people off and offers some advice:


After getting knocked down by Dinah Lance (the Black Canary) for suggesting she should “stay in the kitchen.” Morgan makes his apologies and explains who he is—leaving out any specific mention of Skartaris. As he talks over the way the world has changed with Ollie and Dinah, the crime boss whose car he shot earlier gathers a squad of goons to assault Dinah’s home and take out both his adversaries.

They cut the power before beginning the raid, but Morgan’s keen hearing still gives our heroes a bit of warning. Oliver arms himself with his bow, Morgan with his pistol, and Dinah with an uzi she takes off one of the assailants, and they defend the house against the siege.

There are just too many, though. Dinah and Ollie run out of ammunition and Morgan disappeared after an explosion. They believe him to be dead. Suddenly, he appears, clothes tattered but sword in hand, and lays into the rest of the mobsters. The boss tries to make a break for it, but:

By the time the police arrive, Morgan is gone. All Ollie and Dinah can do is tell them what happen. They do reveal that Morgan gave an address of a sort:


Things to Notice:
  • Morgan apparently tried to get Veteran's benefits during this visit to the Earth.
  • The story seems to imply Morgan hasn't been to the surface world in some time, but that really isn't true given the post-Grell Warlord. His last visit would have been in roughly 1986 (depicted in Annual #5).
Where it Comes From: 
The similarity in appearance of Olliver Queen and Travis Morgan plays an important part in this story and may even have been the inspiration for the crossover. Queen's Van Dyke was courtesy of Neal Adams and debuted in Brave and the Bold #85 (1969). Morgan was drawn with the facial hair Grell had at the time.

This is the second time Grell has used the Disney movie Peter Pan quote "second star to the right, straight on till morning" (the word "star" is omitted in Barrie's original) to loosely refer to Skartaris. The first time was in Warlord #6 (1977), which described the first time Morgan revisited the Earth.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Images from the Strange Stars

Art by Michael Golden
Thraxu blades are older than the thrax warrior culture that now wields them. The moiré pattern evident on close inspection of the (presumably inactive) sword's edge represent guides for programmable matter that (when the blade is energized) create a quantum virtual edge capable of cutting spacetime. Power packs for the ancient weapons are hard to come by, and so thrax knights wisely conserve their usage of high power settings.

Art by Gerald Parel
A menace on the Coreward Reach, the Scavengers are opportunistic pirates who follow the Locusts, a giant swarm of von Neumann machines that devour any habitats they encounter. The Scavenger scouts perform hit and run raids before the arrival of the mass of the swarm, and the majority of their fleet sweeps up any surviving ships once the swarm passes. Scavengers commonly have obvious and primitivist cybernetics, the better to frighten victims into submission.

Art by Fernando Fernandez
The Sisterhood of Morrgna zealously protect their habitat in the Zuran Expanse from outsiders. Sometimes, however, warriors like this one are glimpsed in mercenary cadres on other worlds.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mother of the Minotaur


Pasiphae conceived the Minotaur, but not in the salacious way the imaginations of the Greek mythographers would have it. They said that she (like her sister Circe) practiced witchcraft, but they could not understand the advanced biological sciences the sisters' could command. They were the "children" of titans and immortal. They both had access to bio-assemblers that could splice the genetic material of different species. Circe was an artist, after a fashion; Pasiphae created her Minotaur for revenge.

Minos was an unfaithful husband. Pasiphae, with the help of her pupil, the genius Daedelus, sought to publicly shame her husband by the creation of the Minotaur. She blended the genetic material of a sacred, sacrificial bull and her husband's own. Minos hide the creature from public view, but the beast's hunger demanded sacrifice.

As the stories have it, Prince Theseus eventually killed the Minotaur. Minos's shame was widely known, and Pasiphae likely cared little that she was slandered, as well.

That still didn't stop Minos's philandering. It's said that later Pasiphae created sexual transmitted nanites that would consume any woman but her herself and infected Minos with them.

Pasiphae's Laboratory:
The laboratory of Pasiphae (or Circe) contains a small assembler device capable of making almost anything it has plans for, but mostly used to biotechnological purposes. It can produced any of the drugs and medications listed in the Mutant Future book, and thereotically almost any handheld equipment, but would be limited by the plans in its computer databank.

Near the assembler is a larger tank full of a light green nanomachine goo, that can either dissemble and scan anything biological put into it or "build" a biological entity to certain specifications. It can used to replicate the activities of all the medical devices listed in Mutant Future.

All the devices work on voice command, but they are still complexity Class 3 (on the Technology Roll) to get anything useful from.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Here Comes the Sun

The post I intended didn't get written last night, but here's another titan from the science fantasy Greek myth idea I had posted a snippet on on G+ that hasn't been mentioned on the blog:


Helios is the titan personifying the Sun to the Greeks, but is in actuality an intelligence of plasma and magnetic fields encoded into the sun's surface. He stayed neutral in the war between the titans and the Olympians and still rules over the other plasma intelligences dwelling in his realm.

His avatar is seldom seen on Earth.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Strange Stars Art


Here are representatives of two historical cultures of the Zuran Expanse, courtesy of Jez Gordon, illustrator extraordinaire.

On the left is one of the zurr. They flourished between the time of the Great Collapse and the present era. The Expanse is named for them, though how much of the territory their civilization actually controlled is a matter of debate. The zurr are only known from their iconography (images of tall humanoids in unadorned, flowing robes and elaborate, non-representational masks), some ritual sites with oddly angled monumental structures, and a few apparently functionless artifacts. Mysteriously, they left no information technology or tools necessary for an advanced civilization behind, but their presence is attested on multiple worlds. They are blamed for unleashing the ssraad upon the galaxy.

On the right is one of the researcher-sadists called Faceless Ones. In the time of the Great Collapse, a cabal of  like-minded individuals set themselves up in a orbital sanctum and set about to explore extremes of sensation. They replaced their faces with featureless metallic masks that were actually incredibly sensitive sensory and recording apparatus. Their lower limbs they likewise replaced with mechanical ones covered with sensory fibers in a variety of modalities. The Faceless Ones strove to experience and archive everything they could about their depraved experiments on those they fell into their hands. Ultimately, they created the Algosians as their servitors and collaborators.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: And the Cosmos Ends

Let's re-enter the lost world with another installment of my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"The Death-Knell of the Universe: Chapter 2: And the Cosmos Ends"
Warlord #133 (Winter 1988)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Pencils by Jan Duursema, Inks by Tom Mandrake

Synopsis: Ishum leads Morgan and Tara and the group of warriors freed from Yk’Kphat’s jewels back to Skartaris. In her sanctum beneath the volcano, Khnathaiti gloats to her demons that the destruction wrought by Anu will lead to the creation of a new universe with her as its queen. And the cosmos draws to its end.

Morgan and crew arrive in Shamballah and he’s reunited with Jennifer and Shakira. Ishum raises the horn to his lips to blow it but:


Yk’Kphat has played on last trick.

The prophecy of doom begins to fulfill itself. Anu releases beams of fire, and the nine worlds begin to burn. Ice follows, flash freezing everything in touches. Then comes stone, turning men and beast in statutes. Morgan and his friends can only watch helpless, but protected behind a magic shield courtesy of Jennifer.

All of a sudden, Aoife emerges from a portal with the real god-horn in her hand. Before he can, one of Anu’s blasts turns him to stone. He drops the horn, but Morgan dives over the edge of the precipe their standing on and catches it. Anu grabs Morgan with one its tentacles. Morgan resolves to take Anu with him if he’s going. 

He blows the horn:


Anu returns to his plane of rest. The nine worlds are saved.

Jennifer goes to confront Khathaiti. It turns out that won’t be necessary: Khnathaiti and her minions have been turned to stone, victims of the forces they released.

Aoife explains to the others what happened. Yk’kphat was miffed at Khnathaiti’s arrogance, so he let Aoife carry the horn to them, but he doesn’t grant favors without exacting a price. He demands the return of the warriors freed from his jewels. Knowing that Morgan loves Tara and not her, Aoife as agreed to substitute for Tara.

The warriors reluctantly agree, knowing that is the only way to keep petulant Yk’Kphat from summoning Anu again. They boast they’ll all escape together one day.

After seeing their compatriots off, our heroes turn to the task of reuniting Tara’s spirit with her body. Jennifer casts her spell and it’s a success. Tara awakens.


And so ends Warlord vol. 1.

Unanswered Questions:

  • Is Tinder still in Wizard World?
  • Will Tara and Morgan ever discover that he's really their son?
  • Is Morgan really going to leave Mariah with that traitor and abuser Maddox?
  • Will Machiste ever get a queen?
  • What's Shakira's true origin?

Where to from here: 
The first volume of Warlord is done, but his story isn't over. In 1989, Mike Grell would return to his creation for the first time in 6 years. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Medusa

No. Enc.:  1?
Movement:  45' (20')
Armor Class:  8
Hit Dice:  5
Attacks:  1 (tentacles or special)
Damage:  1d3
Save:  L5
Morale:  8

The legends of Medusa have there basis in a bizarre creature perhaps brought to Earth from a distant world or perhaps designed by the Olympians or titans from the DNA of some sea-creature. The only known gorgon or medusa dwells in a cave complex in mountains near a ruin city of an unknown civilization in the Libyan. The desert around the cave is dotted with statues in lifelike poses evocative of horror.

The medusa is vaguely tree-like in appearance (an upright cylindrical body covered with tendrils), but it possess a single, glowing eye-like structure. This structure is actually a light emitter that produces a beam in a pattern with effects on the nervous systems of vertebrates. Anyone looking at the medusa when the beam is fired must save versus Stun Attack or be paralyzed by neural lock for 1d6 turns (save means movement at half for 2d6 rounds).

It's tendrils release a thick goo which, combined with silicates in the environment can petrify the organic mass of a human body in 1d6+4 days. The medusa feeds off organic material displayed in this process.

Mutations:  Prehensile tendrils, toxic weapon.

Images from Medusa vs the Son of Hercules(Perseus The Invincible) 1962

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Giant Monster Battles


As a wise blogging compañero has already opined: if the basic conceit of Pacific Rim seems like something you would like, you should see it.

Now with that out of the way, let's talk about the gaming potential of the setup. Of course, there's the eminently gameable setting of the film--particular in the 7 year period where humankind is holding off the kaiju threat. But we don't have to stop there.

Maybe the kaiju wind up just occupying certain territory?  The comic limited series Giant Killer by Dan Brereton posits just this sort of scenario. It also offers a wider variety of kaiju (and kaiju categories) than Pacific Rim.

Of course, that sort of situation could easily lead to a post-apocalyptic scenario were kaiju devastate and occupy more and more of the world. In the most pessimistic case, this could lead to something resembling The Night Land, where surviving humans hold out in a last redoubt and sally forth to fight for a lost cause. A less grim version might see humanity escaping to orbital habitats and sending their best mecha pilots to earth to fight to reclaim territory--something akin to Gundam G, but without the tournament element.

That's just off the top of my head. In sure there are a lot more ways to get those robots fighting giant monsters.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Okeanos

Okeanos is the name given by the Greeks to one of the Titans, the alien beings that created the Cosmos. The Greeks view him as the embodiment of the waters that surround the known world. In actuality, his vast, inhuman intellect is encoded in the quantum fabric of spacetime--the "ocean" outside the Earth. The Olympians believe that Okeanos was not a collaborator with Kronos's experiment, but was trapped in the nascent cosmos structure and compressed into his current role.

His "wife" (if such a term is really applicable to such beings) Tethys, also resides primarily in spacetime but is considered a separate being--or at least exists at separate energy state.

Their creations/partial avatars/children (again, the exact relationship is difficult to describe in human terms) are known as Oceanids. Most are equally at home in the icy Oort Cloud as the depths of Earth's oceans. Whatever their appearance, they approach the Olympians in terms of power and exceed them in some capabilities.

Since he was integral to the Cosmos (and apparently no partisan of Kronos), the Olympians didn't imprison Okeanos--though it 's unlikely they could have in any case. His manifestation appears as a giant humanoid male made from the very night sky he stepped out of. He seldom appears on Earth, though, and what little communication he has with humans is in dreams.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Catch Up on the Strange Stars

Work is getting in the way again, but in lieu of a new post, I'll point you to the newly updated Strange Stars Index Page so you can catch up on what you might have missed.

I hope to have some original Strange Stars artwork by Jez Gordon to show you in the (hopefully) not too distant future, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: The Death-Knell of the Universe

Let's re-enter the lost world with another installment of my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"The Death-Knell of the Universe: Chapter I: Where Dwells the Grim God"
Warlord #133 (Winter 1988)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Pencils by Jan Duursema, Inks by Tom Mandrake

Synopsis: Morgan and Aoife are riding with Ishum on his winged mount, on their way to try to steal Ishum’s horn back from Yk’Kphat to try to prevent to end of the cosmos. They happen to pass over angry blob creatures chasing a man. They swoop down and carry him to safety.

It turns out he stole a jewel from the angry blob. He’s Guernon Darkmoon and he claims to be a master thief.


Meanwhile, the god worm Anu winds his way through the cosmos, passing near the Ebondar forest and dropping alien monsters on Skartaris. Luckily, there are heroes to try to protect the people:


In the god realm of Yk’Kphat, Tara is trapped in a pearl around the fat god’s neck as he “fondles” the horn of being. When he tires of playing with it, he has slaves put it back in storage.

Jennifer figures their straights are so desperate she’s got to find allies—even unsavory ones who will exact a price for their services:


Morgan and crew sneak into Yk’Kphat’s palace. Aoife know’s Tara is on one of the god-thing’s pearls, but she has been dithering about telling him because she’s a little sweet on him. She starts to tell him, but then Darkmoon calls her away to help him snag the horn. Morgan and Ishum fly out to keep Yk’kphat occupied.


It turns out Yk’kphat can produce demonic creatures just from his breath!

Darkmoon proves his skill by picking the lock on the god’s treasure room. As soon as they have the horn, a snake-like monster emerges from the mounds of gold to attack. It grabs Darkmoon in its jaws. Aoife means to fight it, but Darkmoon tells her to leave him and get the horn away. Reluctantly, she does.

She arrives in the main chamber just in time to tell Morgan that Tara is in one of the jewels. Ishum tells Morgan they should shatter them all to free the warriors trapped within. Morgan and Tara are reunited, but the ethereal portal they came in is closing, and Yk’kphat has just exhaled a horde of dragons.

It’s Aoife’s turn to sacrifice herself for the common good:


In Skartaris, the force’s of Jennifer’s netherworldly allies are proving ineffectual against halting Anu’s undulations. The assessment of their leaders:


TO BE CONTINUED

Things to Notice:
  • This is the last issue of Warlord.
  • The letter page announces the end of the series and points out that it was the only comic started by Marvel or DC launched after 1970 to still be published in 1988 [presumably Greenberger means series launched around new characters].

Monday, July 8, 2013

Living Fast

Art by Gregory Manchess
Quicklings are a clade found on numerous worlds in the Strange Stars outside the control of the hegemonic powers. They bear some resemblance to the fairies from the legends of Old Earth: they are approximately 8 cm tall humanoids with insect-like wings. They are actually bioroids (sapient despite their small size) who get their name from their short lifespans and their faster neural "clockspeed."

Quickling tribes or collectives live geographically close (even within) cities and habitats of other humanoids, but live apart due to the difficulty of interaction. Quicklings find other humanoids unbearably slow, while neural baselines have to use special devices for all but the most rudimentary communication. Quickling tribes can be hired for various purposes, and they care little for legalities, but given their attention spans, all plans must be relatively simple.

Their small size and necessarily low weights (for flight) mean their brains must be made of nonbiologic materials. Even still, they are less intelligent than the average baseline (Int 8). However, groups of quicklings form a partial neural composition and have some sharing of of cognition, so the more quicklings in close proximity, the smarter they are (+1 for every 2 additional quicklings, max. 20).



No. Appearing: 2-20 (up to 300 in swarm)
AC: 0
HD: 1-2 HP
Saving Throw: 16
Attack Bonus: +4
Damage: 1 point
Movement: 40’ fly
Morale: 8
Special Abilities: Quicklings move so quickly they appear as blur to unenhanced baselines. Attacks against them have a 20% chance to miss (roll before attack roll). Quicklings are never surprised by unenhanced individuals and always roll for initiative as normal, no matter the circumstance.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Remember the Titans

The Olympians wrested control of the Cosmos from its creators (and theirs), beings known as Titans. Though the name is often used for all pre-Olympian entities of power, it most accurately refers to the children/creations of the Primoridals (noumenal beings born from Chaos) Ouranos and Gaea. For reasons not fully known to anyone but himself, the titan Kronos sought to create a more permanent world of matter and time, something less mutable than the idea-space where the titans existed. Eleven of his peers were either dupes or co-conspirators in the creation.

The Titans were lessened by their participation in the Cosmos project. They were forced to embody and support fixed aspects of the architecture of Kronos's world: They entered as creators but became as much prisoners as those that came after them.

In the end, the dimunition and split attention forced upon them in the Cosmos led to their undoing. The much weaker Olympians and their allies were able to exploit flaws and weaknesses in the universe that the titans had been blinded to by their perspective. Those that opposed the Olympians' coup were imprisoned in the extradimensional realm within Tartarus.

The titans avatars (only a part of their vastness can be seen, even in their diminished state within the Cosmos) appear as humanoid giants. Their primary self-nodes often reside at other places in the universe: for instance, Hyperion's intellect resides in a quantum collective constructed in the event horizon of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, while Theia's is distributed in the stellar nursery of the Orion Nebula.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Meet the Olympians


The Olympians are alien beings of great power and advanced technology worshipped by humans under a variety of different names. A group of them staged a coup against their creators/forebearers, the alien god-monsters called titans, and imprisoned those that did bow to their rule in the extradimensional prison, Tartarus.

While generally humanoid in appearance, Olympians were engineered with capabilities beyound those of earthly humanity and have a much greater resistance to damage and injory. Their technology also allows them to project the illusions and even to modify their physical forms. Olympians appear to be inter-fertile with humans, though this may be accomplished by their science. 

Olympians spend much of their time in a flying city shrouded in clouds. It can sometimes be found above Mount Olympos, but it isn’t limited to that location. Olympian theoretically allows surveillance of virtually anywhere in the world, though they seldom are paying attention to the information gathered.


Powers: All Olympians possess the equivalent of the Mutant Future powers of Regenerative Aility, and Ability Boost.They possess other abilities on an individual basis.

Technology: Using simply the capabilites of their home on Olympos they can access its library databanks for a vast array of information, communication with their fellow Olympians anywhere in the world, or teleport at will.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth of July Freak Out


On this Independence Day, you can do worse than kick back with a beer, watching a cult or trashy movie (I'd suggest Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill, Harley Davidson and the Malboro Man, or Rolling Thunder) and ordering your copy of Jack Shear's psychotronic, post-apocalyptic Americana rpg setting Planet Motherf*cker. Freakout is optional.

Here's a mix of musical moods to get you in the right frame of mind:

"Psychobilly Freakout" by the Reverend Horton Heat:

"White Lightning" by Charles Bernstein: 

"Chase the Devil" The Eagles of Death Metal:

"Comanche" The Revels:

"Too Drunk to..." Nouvelle Vague:


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: The Worm of Heaven and Hell

Let's re-enter the lost world with another installment of my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"The Worm of Heaven and Hell"
Warlord #132 (November 1988)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Art by Jan Duursema

Synopsis: Khnathaiti rides a tentacle worm creature, Sesanaga the Lava-Serpent, and bids it to sing out so that its weirdling song can be magnified by the mystic “doom-crystal” and rouse Anu from the God-Plane to ravage the multiverse.

Another, even more huge tentacle worm-thing erupts through the ground in Skartaris near Morgan and Aoife. It writhes and reaches toward the sky and where it pierces it, alien beings and fragments of their worlds fall through. One of them is crying out in pain, part of his body fused into a piece of rock. Morgan reluctant thinks of drawing his pistol and putting the alien out of his misery. He’s beaten to it:


Aoife is futilely striking at the worm with her sword. She gets a vision of a future where everything was turned to stone. The vision worries the starfish-headed alien who flies up and uses his power to close the riff in the sky left by the worm's passing. He fears it will do little good if the cosmos ends.

Meanwhile, Jennifer has magically summoned Shakira to Shamballah. She hopes to enlist her aid in finding Morgan. She’s overheard some of the spells Khnathaiti was casting:


A serpent-haired Khnathaiti head emerges from the pages of the book to attack. Jennifer beats it back with her magic, but unfortunately destroys the book that might have helped in the process.

Elsewhere, Morgan sleep,s and the spirit of Tara tries to make contact with him, to warn him of Khnathaiti’s plan. Before she can, the sorceress shows up and banishes her. Morgan wakes up with a start to find himself alone.

In her lair, Khnathaiti barters Tara’s troublesome soul to extra-dimensional merchant. She’s led off in a coffle:


Starfish fills Aoife and Morgan in on a lot of cosmology. His name is Ishum, and before the advent of the cosmos, the great god Ea bade him sound his horn and summon the great worm Anu from the void. Anu’s writhing and undulations created the world. Tiamat, She-Dragon of Chaos, was upset about this state of affairs and killed Ea in his sleep. Then (since she couldn’t undo the cosmos) she decreed that the horn would be sounded again at so future point to call forth Anu to end it. Because he had failed to warn Ea, Ishum was confined to “a darksome realm” where only Anu dwelled. It was his job to make sure Anu stayed satisfied with an occasional tasty planetoid.

His life went on in that way until Khnathaiti found a way to fake the horn’s sounding and summon Anu. Now:


Meanwhile, somewhere amid the nine worlds, the caravan with Tara in it reaches its destination:


Things to Notice:
  • This is the penultimate issue of Warlord.
  • Jan Duursema is listed as "co-plotter."
Where It Comes From:
The cosmic deities in this issue have names borrowed from Mesopotamian mythologies. Ishum is the name of a minor Akkadian god, related to the sun but also a herald of war. Ea is a Akkadian and Babylonian deity who is god of creation and seawater. Tiamat (perhaps more famous from her Dungeon & Dragons namesake) is indeed a chaos dragon, and primordial goddess of the ocean.

There are several references to there being nine worlds or realms in this story. This is a new edition to the Warlord cosmology. It was probably an idea borrowed from Norse mythology.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Weird Pirate (Doomed) Romance


In my continuing WaRP Weird Adventures game last night, the PCs were tasked by the loathsome swamp witch (supposedly once a pirate queen, Eliza Bonney) with finding a way of freeing her from her ship turned prison, stuck incongruously in a lake deep in a Southron swamp. The gang went back to town for supplies and left poor Professor Pao as the witch's hostage.

Rue consults the spirits and discovers that the witch can be harmed by something that belonged to her lover and former partner--something that can "cut her flesh and pierce her heart." Luckily, the town has a small museum with a pirate history display and a lovelorn curator, Imogenia Frump, who falls for the charms of international man of mystery, Jacques.

Our heroes find out that two pirates came ashore to bury treasure here: Eliza Bonney and Red Marguerite. The two had a falling out over the loot, or so the story goes. In the museum's possession is an old cutlass and a small, wooden chest. Jacques uses his influence over Imogenia to "borrow" the items for study at a prestigious City university.

Fairly certain that Red Marguerite and Eliza were lovers, the PCs figure the cutlass will come in handy. Investigating the box reveals a secret compartment with a heart-shaped necklace of ruby and silver. So armed, they head back out to the swamp for a showdown.


Things don't go exactly as planned (when do they ever?) but the PCs manage to cut the locket--piercing the witch's heart--and making her vulnerable to their attacks. She appears to fall away into the depths, her bulk destroying the ship in her death throes.

Our heroes escaped but without the treasure some of them hoped for, other than the suggestion they had done a community service by destroying an ancient evil.