Thursday, April 27, 2017

Strange Stars Video Review

For those few of you who read this blog and still haven't bought Strange Stars (and we know who you are), check out this video review by Questing Beast:




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wednesday (MIni-)Comics: He-Man and the Power Sword

Let's take a break from Storm this week to look back at the mini-comic origins of the Masters of the Universe. I don't mean the 80s cartoon with a Captain Marvel in purple tights and a Prince Valiant haircut, a cowardly lion tiger, and a moral for kiddies every episode. I mean the first, more pulpish, post-apocalyptic, sword & sorcery version--before even the 1982 DC comics limited-series. I mean the version appearing in the the four original mini-comics (though technically, these first four were picture books, not comics).

They were written by Donald Glut, who knew how to adapt Sword & Sorcery material for younger audiences with his comics work, including Dagar the Invincible and Tragg and the Sky Gods for Gold Key. Glut talks about the origins of some of the concepts in an online interview. The evocative art for the four stories was by Alfredo Alcala, a comic book artist who's worked for DC and Marvel, on books like Conan, and Kull the Conqueror. What the two gave us was darker, moodier, and more streaked with pulpy highlights, than the decidedly brighter, more superhero-esque cartoon to follow. (I should point out all of the mini-comics are now available in a somewhat larger tome.)

So without further ado, here's my commentary on the first mini-comic, 1981's He-Man and The Power Sword:


We open with a bona fide Hero's Journey "Call to Adventure." He-Man, greatest warrior of his primitve jungle tribe, leaves his people to go defend the legendary Castle Grayskull ("a place of wonders") from the forces of evil. Instead of having a secret identity, He-Man is part of a proud (sometimes) barbaric lineage of Sword & Sorcery characters. He's got a nobler goal than Conan or Brak, but like those forebears he's fascinated by a wondrous elsewhere.

He-Man becomes the first of his people to "trudge the craggy cliffs and quake-torn valleys" outside of the jungle. It's not long before his courage and "jungle-bred stength" is needed. He sights a jade-skinned woman in a cobra headress fighting a purple monster that looks like it might be from a lost in space episode. He-Man rushes into the fray and despite the woman's mystical blasts ("She is a sorceress!" he thought), he pretty much does the monster slaying himself.


Had this not been a kid's book, the shapely Sorceress might have rewarded the warrior other ways, but since it is, He-Man instead gets "Supernatural Aid" (again with the Hero's Journey!). The Sorceress gives him the treasures she's guarded all these years, things made "centuries before the Great War by Eternia's scientists."

Here's one of those cool details. We've got a Great (so great its capitalized) War, and scientists making medieval appearing weapons. One might wonder what kind of scientists those were, but this yarn provides hints but no answers.

He-Man takes the loot which includes a "strange vehicle" (understatement) that's "combination battering ram, catapult, and space-warp device." Those pre-Great War scientists did some out-of-the-box thinking.


Meanwhile, Skeletor, and his minion Beastman, and ogling the "warrior-goddess" Tee-La (it was hyphenated in those early days) who's watering her "unicorn charger." The two villains attack, as Skeletor plans to make Tee-La his bride. We're told she "fights like a demon, her body possessing the spirits of many ancestral champions," but Skeletor's energy blade wins the day.

They carry her with them to Castle Grayskull--"a fortress so ancient no one knew its origin." Over the objections of the Spirit of the castle, Skeletor forces open the Jaw-Bridge. Skeletor's after the other half of the Power Sword so that "the magic fires, created by ancient scientists and sorcerers will blaze again." Cool.


It turns out Skeletor is from another dimension. The Great War ripped a whole in the walls between dimensions and threw him into Eternia. He plans to open another rift and bring through an army of conquest. This origin, of course, is ignored in later mini-comics and comics.

Elsewhere, He-Man is visited by Man-At-Arms. What happens next is weird: "'And what brings the famous Man At Arms to my humble house?' He-Man asked sarcastically." Why all the sarcasm, He-Man? Anyway, Man At Arms ("whose people are the masters of all weapons") fills He-Man in on Skeletor's shenanigans. The two set out to stop him, with impulsive He-Man space-warping ahead.

Somehow, in the bowels of Grayskull (sold separately), Skeletor knows He-Man is coming and sends Beastman up to shoot the turrett laser at at him. Beastman proves surprising effective at this, and has He-Man down when the Man-At-Arms cavalry arrives to turn the tide. The He-Man makes the Jaw-Bridge open wide and the heroes head inside to find Tee-La.

Skeletor's had enough time to get the the Power Sword reunited. As the blade crackles with "green fire" he boasts: "I am invincible. There is nothing I cannot do. Nothing!" The best use this power for is apparently making weapons come to life and fight He-Man.

At that moment, the Sorceress reappears glowing with the same green energy as the power sword (Ah hah!). She chastises Skeletor for abusing power and splits the sword again. He-Man, Man-At-Arms, and the just freed Tee-La throw a beating on the two villains, but let 'em cry "mercy!" and run off (it's a kid's book, remember?). The Sorceress again hides the Power Sword and changes the lock on the castle.

"Do you think that's the last of those two or the Power Sword?" Man-At-Arms asks.


Do I really have to tell you He-Man's answer?

There you go, Great Wars, green Sorcereress, extradimensional portals, barbarian heroes, super-science, and sorcery. That's how it started.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Adventure Environments

Here are some animation backgrounds and concept art from the He-man and She-Ra  cartoons suitable for game inspiration:

An almost Seussian forest:


A cave with loot:

This statues sword has a starway up it. Interesting twist on the PHB Demon idol:

Rocky castle:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

New Azurthite Races

I've had Volo's Guide to Monsters for months now, but I haven't really considered the new races in it and whether they have a place in my Land of Azurth campaign. My consideration of the core book races was here, though some of those (like the Dragonborn) I've reconsidered since. It's always theoretical until they actually show up in the campaign.


Aasimar: Humans empowered by guardian angels reminds he a lot of the Golden Age comics concepts like the Marvel family, but also Johnny Thunder, and Kid Eternity--all very appealing. Of course, their opposite number the Tieflings have been reskinned as Demonlanders.


Firbolg: These guys could be used as is. I might go less fairy tale creature and more hairy hominid with them and reserve them for the Country of Virid.


Goliath: These guys will live in the Dragonspine Mountains and in the desert Land of Sang.


Lizard Folk: There are certainly Lizard Folk, but I haven't worked out their deal exactly and how they differ from the Dragonborn.


Tabaxi: One of the things insisted upon by characters within the setting is that there are no Cat Folk--except that one of the PCs has met two! This is one of the mysteries that may play out in the campaign.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mortzengersturm Reviews

A couple of reviews for Mortzengersturm, The Mad Manticore of the Prismatic Peak have come out, and they have not escaped the notice of the manticore wizard himself:


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday Comics: Storm: Labyrinth of Death

My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues with his adventures in the world of Pandarve. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Labyrinth of Death (1983) 
(Dutch: Het Doolhof van de Dood) (part 3)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

The striped-haired spy has no time for Ember's questions. She leaves quickly so she won't be found out--and runs smack into a suspicious guard. Ember rushes out to help her. In the scuffle, the guard is killed. The spy isn't happy for the help as now they've got a body to dispose of. But it means they have to act now.


They raid the jails, overpowering the guards, and find Nomad. Storm has been taken away to the Theocrat's laboratory. The rebels are mistrustful of Nomad. When he threatens violence if they try to stop him from coming along, they reiterate they're willing to die for the cause. Ember points out that they should probably be more willing to live for it, as well.

Meanwhile, the Theocrat is explaining the cosmology of Pandarve. It seems the system has a white hole at its center instead of a sun. The matter emitted by it is what creates the atmosphere throughout the system. Marduk also reveals that the planet Pandarve itself is alive. He boasts of being her spokesmen to the people of the world--but he wants to be more than a servant.

Storm is the key. He is imbued with energy due to his travel through time. If properly harnessed, the Theocrat believes he can use it to control the universe. He's got his biological computers working on this:


He demands Storm stand in the center of a crystal antennae to catch the radiation coming off and analyzing it:


TO BE CONTINUED

Monday, April 17, 2017

Meet Mortzengersturm in pdf!


The wait is over! Mortzengersturm, The Mad Manticore of the Prismatic Peak for 5e is out today on pdf. The adventure's got eight pregenerated characters (the one's I used in the convention game), about a dozen new(ish) monsters, and a center spread boardgame map!  The digital version contains some exclusive extras: Gus L's map of Yanth Country and a brief gazetteer, and a short excerpt from The Cloud Castle of Azurth.

Go get it!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Rabbits & Eggs


In the Land of Azurth, there is a magical treasure peculiar to the Hara or Rabbit Folk and celebrated in their legends. A number (though no one knows the exact number) of eggs in variegated pastels are forever being lost and rediscovered; they are objects of quests for great heroes and the caralyst for small folk to elevated their station. They are associated with both just rulers and holy madmen.

The eggs are said to have been crafted on the Moon by the rabbit goddess the Bright Lady as gifts to favored mortals or saints on the occasion of the birth of spring. The shell of each egg is held to not be mere eggshell but ceramic made from moonstuff. The eggs have moved down through history, sought, horded, and fought over for their beauty and their magic power--each egg has a unique arcane property. One might have the power to heal, while another the ability to command others to do the bearers bidding. Still another might allow one to see the future.

The Rabbit Folk sometimes make their own mundane eggs for vernal celebrations in honor of the goddess, while unscruplous relic-dealers occasional try to pass off fakes as the real artifacts. The abundance of imitations has only increased the difficulty of finding the real thing.

It is said that Lapin XXII, King of the Warrens of the Hara, has several of the eggs in his possession, stored in a ceremonial basket.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Let Me Tell You About Their Characters

Art by Steve LeCouilliard
With a new illustration of the gang, time to shine the spotlight on the PCs in my Land of Azurth campaign:

As has been recounted, the crew met on a keelboat on the way to seek an audience with Viola the Clockwork Princess of Yanth, each for his or her own reason.

KULLY KEENSTEP (Jim) Human Bard
A traveling minstrel, Kully encountered a calico Cougar Man (who ever heard of such?) in the vicinity of Mount Brawl who suggested the Princess might be able to tell him something about the hereabouts of his long-missing father. She was not, but he has since discovered the possible identity of the mysterious Cougar Man he met.

SHADE PYRALIS (Gina) Elf Ranger
Shade hails from the Aldwode and mistrusts civilization. She has since learned from her long-absent mother, Oona, that she is actually half High Elf and a child of House Perilous and the infamous, mad Sylaire family.

KAIRON (Eric) Demonlander Sorcerer
Feared and ostracized in the village where he grew up due to his Demonlander heritage. He became an adventurer to improve both his economic and social station.

WAYLON (Tug) Frox (Frogling) Thief
Named "Wi'Sdosdo" (Wailing-Moon) in his native tongue, Waylon grew up on the streets of the Shanty City of Lardafa. He was a musician in a jug band, but also a protege of the thief and con-man King Kuel.

DAGMAR (Andrea) Dwarf Cleric
Against the wishes of her family, Dagmar pursued a life in monastic service to Iolanthe, Lady of Knowledge. In her middle years, she gave up the life of scholarly hermit and sought adventure. She is currently petrified and standing in a library in House Perilous!

EREKOSE (Bob) Human Fighter
His origins obscure, Erekose is a veteran soldier and a pretty mercenary fellow. Gold is the allure in adventuring for him.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Mortzengersturm...EXPOSED!


Once again, I'll be running a session of Mortzengersturm, The Mad Manticore of the Prismatic Peak at North Texas RPG Con in Jone, which (assuming everything goes well with the printer) will also be the debut of the print edition of the adventure at the Hydra Co-op booth!

Here are ten things about the Mortzengersturm adventure even a dedicated reader of this blog might not know:

1. The adventure grew out of an adaptation of Jason Sholtis's Zogorion, Lord of the Hippogriffs for my Land of Azurth game, originally played on June 15 and July 19, 2015.
2. The name Mortzengersturm was arrived at by smashing together the titles of Poe's "Metzengerstein" and Hugh Cave's "Murgunstrumm." Neither story have I read (though I did see a film adaptation of the Poe story).
3. This John R. Neill drawing was the initial inspiration for the look of Mortzengersturm, and possibly the source of the idea that he would be a manticore:


4. The goblins' song in the published version of the adventure should be sang to the tune of "God Save the Tsar!" the former national anthem of the Russian Empire.
5. Slime-spawned goblins was an idea I had back in 2012. I finally got to use in print, in a modified form.
6. Thedabara is, of course, named for the silent film vamp Theda Bara (1885-1955).
7. The Oubliette of Mistakes wasn't in the adventure as originally run and basically got included because I had thought up The Moonster and needed a place to put him. The name was likely inspired by the Island of Misfit Toys from Rankin-Bass' Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964).
8. There are a few references to Chicago's Columbia World Exposition of 1893 in the adventure which no party has yet investigated.
9. A brand of cigarettes from the City and Weird Adventures makes a cameo.
10. The parrot-bear (and the whole idea of Mortzengersturm's mixed up animals) came from an illustration by Jeff Call--who later wound up illustrating the adventure.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Labyrinth of Death

My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues with his adventures in the world of Pandarve. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Labyrinth of Death (1983) 
(Dutch: Het Doolhof van de Dood) (part 2)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

Taking the Devil's Ride, Storm and Nomad are forced to abandon their gliders or be dashed against an imposing mountain range. Their landing on the rocky plateau beneath isn't an easy one, then they have to climb down out of the wind before they freeze to death.

Their landing doesn't go unnoticed. The Anomaly's arrival on Pandarve is detected by Marduk's machines.

Reaching the desert road below, our heroes encounter a man on the back of a giant snail creature:


He's heading to Mardukan, the capital, for the Theocrat's wedding so they are able to  get a ride.

There is only one bridge into Mardukan, and the city is surrounded by high walls. The man explains that the Theocrat is afraid of the rebels. Nomad and Storm enter the city in the crowd, under the eyes of Marduk's guards and their telepathic watch-dogs. Nomad is nervous that in the narrow alleys it would be easy to trapped. His words prove prophetic. The outer gates are closed, and when Storm walks through a checkpoint, Marduk's sensors detect him.


Storm and Nomad are brought before Marduk. Storm doesn't know anything about the Anomaly; He just wants to see Ember. Marduk doesn't have her anymore, but he tells Storm if he cooperates he'll get to see her. Storm and Nomad get sent off to the laboratory.

Meanwhile, Ember is in the streets with the rebels. They are disguised as entertainers. The rebels want to get their hands on the Anomaly to deny him to the Theocrat. They wind up washing dishes, but their Ember overhears a report from a rebel spy that the Anomaly--Storm!--is being held in the castle.

CONTINUED

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Gate, Silver Keys, and Tempting Fate

Michael Kaluta
Our Land of Azurth game continued last night with the fourth session of my adaptation of X2: Castle Amber. The dog-headed Claudas had told them they needed to go to the dungeon to find the gate where they could use the silver keys, but they didn't know where the dungeon was. Shade the Ranger was convinced she should at least try to make nice with her crazy family, the Sylaire, by going to see her grandmother. Claudas (who shared the same grandmother) said that the Dame Carmilla was in the card room across the hall playing at being fortune teller.

Carmilla didn't look like a grandmother, but she did recognize her wayward daughter in her grand-daughter. She offered to let Shade and her companion draw cards. Shade did (reluctantly) and received a chalice which allowed her to tell when someone was lying. The frogling thief Waylon pulled the Page of Coins and had all his coinage disappear! Kully had nothing occur on his draw. Carmilla disappeared and while they waited the night in a long rest, the others drew. Astra of the Shooting Star Folk pulled a death card--all the more horrifying because the player's first character (Dagmar) had already been petrified. Luckily, the death was just a hit point reduction, and she was able to be saved.


Next, they found a room full of dog-headed men playing cards.They tried to be somewhat helpful and point the way to the Black Room, but they got into an argument over the best way to go and the party was left confused. A mention of a secret door got them searching and they found the Red Room.

In the Red Room, and an armored man, Solus, who claimed to be a dwarf fallen from the sun. he told them the Black Room was right next door. They found it, but it took a bit of searching to find the trapdoor.

A Magic Square painted onto the floor of the room they came into caused them a lot of consternation, ultimately to know useful end, as two succumbed to the lunacy curse (though they didn't know it yet). Two received increases in their wisdom.

After that, it was a pitch battle in the vat room where artificial men were made, and oneiric black dust in the alchemical lab. Kully had a dream of falling and woke up dead (or at least 0 HP). Kairon had all his dreams come true of having the Wizard raise his station, only to have it fade away with the dust.

Avoiding more fights became their goal, as the party continued a room to room search for the gate. They ran away from a coin-encrusted slime worm and shut the door on a kennel of whimpering hell hounds.

At last, they found the room with the gate. As they turned the keys, the amber lion statue came to life...

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Again, the Giants!: Glacial Gallery of the Frost Giant Artist

This is the third in a series of posts riffing of the giant theme of the classic Against the Giants:
Hightlights include:

1. Dissipated giant scenesters, artistic proteges, and hangers-on.
2. The artist's pet wolf pack.
3. Caves full of unwilling frozen subjects!

Friday, April 7, 2017

One Last Tease


With Mortzengersturm, the Mad Manticore of the Prismatic Peak poised to go off to the printer, I figured one last tease of a two-page spread was in order. The art, as always, is by Jeff Call.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ozian D&D


There's been a bit of discussion on Google+ about Oz-influenced D&D. From its conception, Oz has been an important (though certainly not the only) influence on the Land of Azurth (particularly for the primary campaign site, Yanth Country), so I've thought some about how Ozian elements can be used to inform D&D fantasy.

First off, it must be aknowledged that "Ozian fantasy" may not be a precisely defined thing. The portrayal of Oz itself changes from the first book to later books by Baum--and to an even greater degree throughout the "Famous Forty" and beyond. Oz in the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is mostly uninhabited, and the places that are inhabited are mostly agrarian, but later books pile on more and more civilization. Baum's vision is of an American fairytale, and so the early books lack standard European-derived or Arabian Nights-inspired creatures and characters: The Tin Man is a woodsman not a knight. Ultimately, however, knights, dragons, and genies all become part of Oz.

(Anyone interested in Baum's American fairytale conception and examples of it in his non-Oz fantasies should check out Oz & Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum by Michael O. Riley)

With that sort of lack of specificity in mind, here are my broad suggestions for how to make a D&D campaign more Ozian:

Lost worlds/hidden kingdoms instead of dungeons: Whether standard D&D or Oz, exploration and discovery plays a part, but D&D's exploration sites are often known areas of material wealth and danger near settled areas that are usually purposefully visited to be exploited. Ozian sites are unknown or little known areas, accidentally discovered, like the lost worlds of adventure fiction.

Animated Simulacra and Talking Animals instead of the usual demihumans: Both D&D and Oz have nonhuman characters, but Oz’s are more individual, not representatives of "races." They also aren't the near-human types of elves, dwarves, and halflings. In fact, all of those races would probably fall under the "human" category in Oz. (In the first book, most Ozites are short like halflings, not just the Munchkins).

Social interaction/comedy of manners instead of combat or stealth: Violence and death sometimes occurs in the Oz books, but conversation and timely escape are the most common ways of dealing with problems. While this may in part be due to them being century plus year-old children's books, some of the exchanges in Dorothy and the Wizard are not dissimilar to the ones that occur in the works of Jack Vance, albeit with much less wit or sophistication. No Ozian villain is too fearsome not to be lectured on manners--at least briefly.

Magical mundane items or magical technology instead of magical weapons: The noncombat orientation of Oz extends to magic items. Magic belts, mirrors, food dishes, etc., occur in Oz but few magic swords or the like that you see in D&D or European legend. Oz blurs the lines between science/technology and magic to a degree. (The examples of this that are more Steampunkian or magictech seem to be unique inventions, however.) Pills and tablets will fantastical (though perhaps not magical in the sense the term would understood in Oz) properties are more common than potions, for instance. In general, foodstuff with fantastic properties, both natural and created, are more common than in D&D.

Faux-America instead Faux-Medieval: Ozian society seems almost 19th century in its trappings, or more precisely, it is a society that is not foreign (except where it specifically means to be) to the a young reader in the early 20th century. It lacks most of the elements of the real world of the 19th Century, however, like industry, social conflict (mostly), and (sometimes) poverty. It also lacks complicated social hierarchies: there is royalty, but no nobility.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Labyrinth of Death

My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues with his adventures in the world of Pandarve. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Labyrinth of Death (1983) 
(Dutch: Het Doolhof van de Dood) (part 1)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

Storm, Nomad, Rann, and the would-be  pirate crew are on their way to Rann's home asteroid. The crew are none too happy as they're looking for plunder. A mutiny is in the offing.

The mutineers attempt to kill Storm by ramming a timber into the cabin while Storm, Rann, and Nomad are inside. The cabin's smashed but Storm manages to dive out of the way. Still, Storm's knocked out and the leader of the mutineers get's the drop on him.


Nomad is forced to surrender. Soon, Storm and his friends are being marooned on a tiny asteroid:


Storm discovers large eggs in the nest of some sort of bird. They don't have to wait long to see the mother:


Meanwhile, Theocrat Marduk is still trying to find the Anomaly (Storm)  but his technicians can't get a fix. He demands his unwilling bride-to-be Ember be brought to him so she can give a description of the Anomaly to help them. Ember, however, has escaped with the help of a woman with a hidden face. She leads Ember into the cities sewers.

Back on the asteroid, Storm hits the bird in the head and Rann wraps his sash around its eyes, trying to escape the darkness the bird flies--and our heroes ride it all the way to Rann's home.


Rann is reunited with his daughter and the poor space bird is sent on its way. Storm on his a few days to rescue Ember before the wedding to Marduk. Rann relates he knows of a quick way to reach Pandarve's surface: The Devil's Ride. Storm and Nomad take that ride:

TO BE CONTINUED

Monday, April 3, 2017

Again, the Giants!: Sanctum of the Stone Giant Space God

This is the second in a series of posts riffing of the giant theme of the classic Against the Giants:


Hightlights include:

1. The kirbytech festooned inner chamber of the helf-sleeping stone god--and his powerful telepathic signal.
2. Stone Giant partisans and the PCs with only the vaguest notion of what this alien conflict is about.
3. Weird wandering creatures escaped from some sort of ship collection.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Mortzengersturm's Got Cover


These is the final (hopefully) front and back cover designs for Mortzengersturm, the Mad Manticore of the Prismatic Peak. If all goes as planned, the print edition will debut at North Texas RPG Con in June. The pdf will be available sometime before from rpgnow/driverthrurpg. Though this hasn't be finalized yet, I expect the pdf will have a little bit of exclusive content not in the print version (because their aren't space constraints).

More to come!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Again, the Giants!: Wedding of the Hill Giant Chief

This is the first in a series (maybe) of posts inspired by the classic Against the Giants:


Highlights include:


1. Hill-billy Hill Giant father-in-law keeping the groom under lock and key so there's no cold feet!
2. Monstrous would-be Mother-in-Law!
3. Battle-hardened bridesmaids at a bachelorette party bash!
4. The Ettin moonshiner cooking up his "Catoblepas Kick" for the festivities.
5. And of course, the clan's prize pigs!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Weird Alien on the Planet of the Apes

"THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD" 

Player Characters:
Jeff Call as Brock Irving
Lester B. Portly as Eddy Woodward
Jason Sholtis as Francis La Cava

Nonplayer Characters:
Ted Cassidy as Eezaya

Synopsis: Irving, Woodward, and La Cava set out to investigate the site of a fallen meteor and find an alien monster with the power to turn men to stone!

Commentary: The alien is this adventure first appeared in Perseus Against Monsters (Perseo l'invincibile) (1963)--which also goes by a bunch of other names. The creature bears something of a resemblance to the alien in an episode of Space:1999, "The Dragon's Domain," but I can't conclusively say they are the same one.

This creatures eye blast was sort of petrifying but turned bodies to hardened ash, sort of like this:


The PCs spent a lot of time trying to think of a creative way to defeat the monster, but it proved to be fairly susceptible to bullets, ultimately.

I used this theremin music to represent the monster's alien call. It's petrifying eye blast made a sound like the Martian heat ray sound effect from Pal's War of the Worlds. (You can hear it here. eventually).

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesday Comics: New Image Fantasy

Image Comics has been on a roll of late. Case(s) in point: Two relatively new fantasy collections you might want to check out.

I mentioned 8House, the science fantasy series of series by Brandon Graham and various collaborators before. 8House seems to have stalled, but the first storyline, Arclight, with art by Marian Churchland, finished as its on series and has been collected in a trade. Arclight is set on a desert world where blood is the source of magic. A queen is this world is trapped in a root-like body while an alien masquerades as her. The queen's served by one androgynous knight (the titular Arclight) while other knights unknowingly serve the pretender.

There was a bit of a gap between issues, so I was a little uncertain of how everything shook out in the end, but all the more reason to give the trade a read!

A Land Called Tarot is a hardcover by Gael Bertrand. The story is wordless, so I'm not exactly sure what's going on, but it is gorgeous. The art reminds me of Akira Toriyama and Miyazaki, but the whole production has kind of a Moebius vibe. Here's a sample:




Monday, March 27, 2017

A Blurry Picture of my Haul of Dubious Treasures from GaryCon


What we've got here is: Journey to the Cloud Castle, All The Worlds' Monsters Vol. 2, DM's Book of Nasty Tricks Misfits and Magic, The Hole Delver's Catalog, Dragons of Weng T'Sen, Amazon Mutual Wants You! Vol. 1, and The Trouble with Friends.

Why these particular items? It would be ahrd to say, though some of them had the requisite amount of old school kitsch or nostalgia from seeing ads in Dragon. I did buy a couple of newer things but this was the weird stuff.