Friday, July 19, 2019

Omniverse: Incumbents are from Earth, Sivanas are from Venus


In September of 1936, all across America aircraft beginning dropping flyers proclaiming a new candidate for the highest office in the land. At the urging of her father, Beautia Sivana was running for President. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana planned to stage a coup once his daughter was in office. Hers was the most massive, multi-media, write-in campaign this country has ever seen. Her beautiful visage graced the covers of magazines and full page newspaper ads. Her captivating voice could be heard on radio addresses. Women were cool to her candidacy, but men were enthralled. Most men. Boy reporter, Billy Batson, wasn’t fooled one bit. His alter ego, Captain Marvel foiled the Sivanas’ plot and returned mad scientist and would-be president to Venus*, where Beautia would have to content herself with being Empress.

Ultimately, Beautia didn’t share her father’s devotion to evil and in fact pursued a career in social work upon her return to Earth, according to some accounts.

*Or what Sivana said was Venus. It is difficult to square the real planet with its depiction in this record.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Spelljammer: Dead Stars & Outer Monstrosites

Art from the Oldstyle Tales Press edition
As we understand the word," said the old Doctor. "Though, mind you, there may be a third factor. But, in my heart, I believe that it is a matter of chemistry; Conditions and a suitable medium; but given the Conditions, the Brute is so almighty that it will seize upon anything through which to manifest itself. It is a Force generated by Conditions; but nevertheless this does not bring us one iota nearer to its explanation, any more than to the explanation of Electricity or Fire. They are, all three, of the Outer Forces—Monsters of the Void.... 
- William Hope Hodgson, "The Derelict"

I've been thinking about a Spelljammer recently that keeps the basic concept but utterly jettisons the feel or flavor. Spelljammer has never felt me to be about exploration, rather the vessels flying through spaces seem a means to an end. There's nothing wrong with that, but plenty of science fiction literature paints space as a place for confronting the unknown. This is really a perfect fit for Spelljammer where its pre-modern, "magical" spacecraft put the stars within reach but not the science to understand any of it. Not that there is necessarily science as we know it to understand, in any case.

I think I would look to the horror/adventure stories of William Hope Hodgson, specifically his nautical yarns like The Boats of the Glen Carrig, "The Voice in the Night," "A Tropical Horror," and "Demons of the Sea." A little pseudo-science borrowed from his Carnacki stories could only help.

The characters are competent space-hands, perhaps mildly colorful rogues like Howard's Wild Bill Clanton or just working stiffs like the crew of the Nostromo in Alien, not bold explorers or science fantasy swashbucklers. Their jobs involving them going through places that are not (usually) inhabited by hostile species of space orcs or the like, but are instead fundamentally almost wild, always strange. Weird danger can rear it's head at any time, and your vessel is just another ship that disappeared in the Void.

Weird phenomena should be encountered as frequently as monsters, I think. Monsters, when they do show up should be unfamilar, and probably not seen enough to become mundane.

Beyond the stories of Hodgson and Alien, other potential sources of inspiration could be the comic series Outer Darkness, the science fiction stories of Clark Ashton Smith, Poe's Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, and of course, Moby Dick

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Dreadstar Omnibus


I backed the 3 volume Dreadstar Omnibus Kickstarter from Ominous Press, and the digital versions dropped yesterday. They look great and include some material that I haven't seen before.

Though the Kickstarter is over, you can still pre-order the books.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Mysterious Levers of Castle Machina

The part climbed the stairway to level two in the scuttling Castle Machina as our 5e campaign continued last night. The strange droning sound unsettled their nerves, but they persevered. They discovered another room full of vast machinery, mate to the room below it, that kept the castle moving. Then, they found a room full of cast of spare gears, mounds of them, and a bank of levers in the floor.  A search of the room awakened metallic, insectoid guardians.


The party backed away, intuiting that the constructs protected the levers.

Next, they discovered a sauna-like room where three salamanders were playing games of change. Once one of them produced a translation device, they were able to converse with the party. They told them they had been hired from the Realm of Fire to help in the construction of parts of the castle, and they had been on their union mandated break for some time. They had never heard of a "Princess" but they knew a mad clockwork being was interfaced with the castle like it was her nervous system. Kully wanted to gamble with them, but they never could arrive at items them salamanders considered valuable.

They tried climbing the stairs to the next level, but the droning sound was more overwhelming. Waylon and Dagmar were struck with paralyzing fear, and Shade flew into a violent rage and had to be subdued. Deciding that braving the maddening noise was too risky, they returned to the room with the levers, intent on possibly bringing the castle to a halt.

They experimented with mage hand, but moving the lever had no effect. They decided to destroy the guardians to experiment more fully. The energy weapons they had stolen from the priests of the Toad Temple were instrumental in accomplishing that, as regular weapons had little effect. In their deaths, the constructs exploded with damaging fireballs.


Battered but now with full access to lever, the party started to experiment in earnest and found...well, not much. Most of the levers seemed to have no visible effect. They long debated pulling the "Portal Reversal" lever, but some feared it would release the imprisoned fire creature that heated the boiler. In the end, they decided it was too risky.

A plan was hatched to use Silence to explore the next level.

TO BE CONTINUED

Friday, July 12, 2019

Superheroes and Color Theory

A series of articles back on Comics Alliance in 2016 discussed color theory as it relates to the costumes of superheroes: stuff like heroes tend to be in primary colors, and the potential meaning of villains in green and purple. It doesn't match up hundred percent, but it is interesting. Anyway, you might want to head over and read the articles.

You could use that to make random tables for the generation of NPCs, not so much powers, but costume and personality at the same time.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Dragons of Post-Apocalyptic Twilight

I guess this is the third in a loose series of re-imaginings of old TSR settings. My knowledge of classic Dragonlance is admittedly a bit limited, but what I don't know about it, I figure I'll just fill in with other post-apocalyptic, science fantasy, or sword and sorcery stuff.

So, Kyrnn is a world locked in a protracted semi-Cold War. One side or the other (perhaps both), looking to end the stalemate once and for all uses their advanced science or scientific sorcery to pierce a veil that should have remained unpierced and contact another universe where an unlimited source of power was waiting. That power had an intelligence. They called it Tiamat.

Tiamat agreed to help their cause and taught them how to make living weapons they called dragons from a portion of "her" own substance. Their early victories were great, and several enemy cities fell before the dragons, but then somehow, the opposing side got dragons of their own.

When the two blocs were utterly dependent on dragons, the beasts turned on their masters. Civilization was nearly destroyed in the onslaught.

The only good Draconian...
Centuries later and Krynn is a world dominated by the dragons, and their lackeys the Draconians. The former dominate species of now either fear and avoid or serve the planet's rulers (not unlike the humans in Vance's Planet of Adventure, or maybe even the Planet of the Apes TV show).

Anyway, the idea is to make it more random Sword & Sorcery 70s paperback than Lord of the Ring.

Goldmoon?

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Stuff I Read Recently

Here are some recent comics I've read in the past few weeks.

Hey Kids! Comics! (Image)
This is a limited series by Howard Chaykin (perhaps the first of multiple volumes) about the history of comics from the 40s to the 2000s as seen through the eyes of three (fictional, though clearly with elements of real people) creators who got their start in the Golden Age. They interact with a number of other characters who are, at times, fairly thinly disguised stand-ins for real personalities in the industry. The throughline seems to the reputed Jack Kirby adage: "comics will break your heart, kid," or at least leave you embittered and angry, as editors and publishers profit from your work and fandom misunderstands the real history. While there are more sympathetic and less sympathetic characters, all of them are all too human, and no one involved is particularly flattered by Chaykin's portrayal.

Spider-Man: Life Story (Marvel)
The conceit here is that Spider-Man ages in real time, from his teen years in the 60s on through the decades. Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley weave a tale that resembles Byrne's Generations limiteds in some ways, but is more interested in clever re-imaginings of various classic storylines from each era. The result is entertaining, but this dual concern means that the idea of a Marvel universe where time passes is not as deeply explored as it might be since story time has to include secret wars, alien suits, and (multiple) clone sagas. Still, it's the sort of thing I wouldn't have thought Marvel would put out, so the novelty alone makes it worth a look. Five issues are out now with the sixth and the trade to come.

Superman: Year One #1 (DC)
Many of the reviews I have seen of this tend to be reviews of the reviewer's lack of faith in Frank Miller (not unjustified, admittedly, given his work and public statements of the past decade or so) or at least their certainty he doesn't understand Superman. (Aside: Almost any time someone says "that isn't what Superman/Batman whoever would do" they are making a statement more of personal preference than history. Of course, there are certainly portrayals that are more the center of the bell curve and some that are outliers.)

For the most part, if this take by Miller and Romita has a flaw, it's that it is all too conventional, and the minor (minor!) ways it deviates from the Standard Consensus Origin are a bit more off-putting than interesting. It is suggested that baby Kal-El modifies his behavior to manipulate the Kents into accepting him (plausible, perhaps even likely, but not what most Superman readers want to read, apparently). Clark is also always aware of the fragility of regular humans (again, plausibly, but not people are looking for). The Kents are on paper what they are suppose to be but they feel a little off. Lana Lang is more active than it most takes, but it still doesn't amount to much and she must be rescued.

So, if you just need another Superman origin, well, this is another one, but if you are looking for the Superman origin that will give you the small thrill of the truncated origin in All-Star Superman, this isn't it. It's more like a darker Man of Steel (the Byrne limited) as written by Frank Miller.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Zauberina [ICONS]

Art by Chris Malgrain
ZAUBERINA

Abilities:
Prowess: 4
Coordination: 4
Strength: 3
Intellect: 5
Awareness: 5
Willpower: 5

Stamina: 7

Specialties: Magic Expert

Qualities:
Raised in Vulthoor
Mistress of the Mystical Arts
In Love with Ultranaut

Powers:
Magic (Blast, Force Field, Illusions): 8

Background:
Alter Ego: Zabrina Zauberer
Occupation: Adventurer
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: John Zauberer (father, deceased), Rose Zauberer (mother, deceased)
Group Affiliation: Former general of Vulthoor; ally of the Super-Sentinels
Base of Operations:
First Appearance: SUPER-SENTINELS #37
Height: 5'7"  Weight: 130 lbs.
Eyes: Green  Hair: Red

History:
Zauberina was the daughter of the magician and adventure John Zauberer, known as Zauber the Great, and the "ghost-breaker" Rose Buchanan. Zauberina was kidnapped when she was an infant by her father's greatest enemy, Jada the Green Sorceress, ruler of the subterranean city of Vulthoor. The Green Sorceress told Zauberina she was her mother and that her father had abandoned them.

Zauberina possessed her father's aptitude for the magical arts, and she was tutored along these lines by the Green Sorceress. She soon rose in the ranks of her foster mother's magical forces, until she commanded them. She lead in Vulthoor's attempted invasion of the surface world.

Zauber and the Super-Sentinels repelled the invasion. They were aided by Zauberina, who learned that the Green Sorceress had lied about her father, and switched sides.

Zauberina became an ally of the Super-Sentinels and aided them in several of their adventures.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Wednesday Comics: The Superheroes of the Atlas Pre-Silver Age

In 1953, Martin Goodman the publisher of Interstate Publishing Group (sometimes known as Marvel, and generally referred to as Atlas these days, after the distributor whose mark appears on the cover) noted the success of the Adventures of Superman TV show and figured there might again be a market for superheroes.

Goodman publishing's Timely Comics' flagship heroes--Captain America, Sub-Mariner, and Human Torch--had been popular in the War years, but were all gone by 1950.  In Young Men #24 (1953), they can roaring back.

"The Return of the Human Torch" with art by Russ Heath picks up following the events of his last adventure in 1949. The Human Torch, after a 4 year absence, busts up on the hideout of the crime boss that sprayed him with a Soviet chemical that dosed his fire, and buried him in the desert. Luck for the the Torch, this desert part of the desert would be the site of a atomic test. Resurrected by the bomb, he was more powerful than ever.

He goes looking for Toro who disappeared in Korea. Flying right over, he finds Toro has been brainwashed and is fighting for the commies! Torch defeats him and brings him home to turn him over to doctors to fix him:


The team is back together!


In "Back from the Dead" with art by John Romita, we find the Red Skull has given up his allegiance to Hitler's regime, and is now the head of an international crime syndicate with ties to (you guessed it) "the Reds." Meanwhile, at the Lee School, Professor Steve Rogers tells his student the history of Captain America, but most of the kids think he's just a myth. Bucky (who seems weirdly to have not aged, assuming its the same kid) gets in a fight with the Cap-deniers. Bucky wants Cap back, but Rogers isn't convinced. Then, they hear on the radio that the Red Skull has returned and taken the UN hostage!

Captain America and Bucky are reborn! And the Red Skull is soon defeated...for now.

Bill Everett brings us "Sub-Mariner." Cargo ships keep sinking myteriously near the same small island. An investigation determines the wrecks have been stripped to the bulkhead. Police woman Betty Dean realizes she knows Sub-Mariner and calls up Admiral Saybrook to see if he can get in touch with Namor at the South Pole.

Four days later, Namor shows up at Betty's apartment in a suit. He agrees to look into the strange piracy. He discovers the ships are being sank and looted by robots. Robots he later learns are from Venus. The though Earthmen were weak, but they didn't reckon on Sub-Mariner. He roughs them and saves the day.

And just like that, the greatest Timely heroes are back in action!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Omniverse Vision


No android would cry over these two newly released Omniverse posts from the lost G+ about the Vision!

"Obscured Vision" looks at the weirdness around the origin of the second Vision, and reveals a conspiracy! "Obscured Vision (Reprise)" looks back to the Golden Age Vision, and his ties to the Red Planet.

Friday, June 28, 2019

"I Faced A Tyrannoclops!"


Last year, I posted about an Atomic Age riff on Operation Unfathomable. It was a good enough idea to get a second post--with new art, with illustration by Nik Poliwko.


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Storm: Vandaahl the Destroyer (part 2, review)

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: Vandaahl the Destroyer (1987) (part 2)
(Dutch: Vandaahl de Verderver)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

When last we left our heroes, so kids on the water planet had just released a conqueror from another universe from what was supposed to be his eternal prison. One of his first acts is to zap Ember.

Back in his home universe, scientists inform the Lord Judge than sentenced him, that Vandaahl the Destroyer might well be alive, having slipped through a wormhole instead of being killed in a black hole. They decide the only decent thing to do is retrieve him, rather than let him lay waste to other words.

Vandaahl has already started by laying waste to the tree settlement, though he allowed the people, including Storm  and friends, some time to escape first.


With Vandaahl on the loose, Storm decides they must warn the people of Pandarve. To help him get off world, the Water-Planet people summon dolphin-like creatures that tell them of a waterspout leading off planet.


The vessel the people of the Water-Planet give them isn't made for long space voyages, though. Luckily, they run across a large trading vessel before their supplies run. They're able to get a ride.



TO BE CONTINUED

Monday, June 24, 2019

Madness in Castle Machina

Our 5e Land of Azurth came continued last night, with a new player: the daughter of two or regulars. Her character, Bellmorae the Dragonkin Sorcerer, joins the party after their visit to the benevolent Frog Temple. The party means to find out how this dark future came to be, and thinks that The Clockwork Princess, if she still is in the castle, may be able to give them the answers they need.

Find the castle isn't difficult. He tends me be crab-walking a wobbly orbit around the ruins of Rivertown. Getting in his a little bit more difficult. They fly up to the courtyard and find the palace doors replaced with an industrial metal one with a mechanical face (that looks something like the Princess) at its center. The face's eyes scan each party member who approaches and demands a pass code. When it scans Dagmar, it declares her a "maker" and allows her to reset the pass code. Inside, the party finds the entry area and throne room replaced with the gigantic gears that power the legs.

Down one hall is a furnace and engine room. Automata shovel coal into a magically warded boiler, where eyes like a void in the white-hot flame watch them. A voice from the fire claims to a prince that was drawn into this cold world and trapped here, asks or demands they free him. The party does not.

Elsewhere they find the elevator shaft empty and blocked 3 floors up. In the turret around the stairwell, 3 scruffy,  gray gnome-like creatures behave like lunatics in an asylum. The party initially plans to avoid them, but with no other exits is forced to engage them in conversation. The think the creatures are perhaps the debased descendants of the gnomes that worked for the Princess in years past.


The madness of the gnomes prohibits meaningful dialogue. Waylon attempts to charm the one they appears to be their leader. The spell fails, and the enraged creature attacks. The party makes short work of the six of them, though they all managed to deliver nonsensical last words as they die. They have nothing of value in their possession.

The party climbs the spiral stair, slowly becoming aware of a curious and unsettling background hum or droning...

Friday, June 21, 2019

Weird Revisited: Over There

The original version of the post appeared in 2015. I still like this idea, just haven't got around to using it in any way.


Take the fairyland across the border of Lud-in-the-Mist or A Fall of Stardust. In between it and the "real world" there is a wall or barrier-- let's say an "Anti-Alien Protection Rampart" in official terminology. Instead of England on the real world side there's East Berlin and the GDR or some subtle Eastern Bloc stand-in. Drüben, indeed.

While "Workers of the World, Unite Against the Faerie!" would be interesting enough, recasting the fairy presence with some Zone phenomena-like details out of Roadside Picnic and a bit of the seductiveness of the Festival from Singularity Sky: "Entertain us and we will give you want you want." Faerie should be weird and horrifying but also weird and wondrous--in a horrific way, naturally. Miracles, wonders, and abominations.

Of course, the authorities don't want anybody having interaction with the faerie, much less smuggling in their reality-warping, magical tech--and maybe they have a point. But if PCs did the smart thing they wouldn't be adventurers, would they?

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Heroic Headshots!

I've been busy with real-life stuff, projects have been backburnered for a bit now, but looking back over art done for the Armchair Planet Who's Who I've posted to the blog before makes me eager to get back to it. Just take a look at these team headshots done by Agus Calcagno:

Branded as anomalies--beings who were dangerous simply because they were outside their proper timestream--they were imprisoned in an extra-temporal prison. They escaped and now survive as crosstime soldiers of fortune... The Tempus Fugitives!


They are the source of our legends of fairies, trolls, and goblins, but the truth is they are a genetically altered subspecies of humanity with incredible powers. They are the Abhumans, and they have remained hidden...until now!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Captain Fear


Captain Fear is an obscure DC character who's first (of two) runs was as a feature in Adventure Comics with art by Alex Niño, written by first Robert Kanigher and then Steve Skeates. Captain Fear appears in issues #425-427, 429, 432-433 for this first arc in 1973.

The titular Captain Fear is Fero, a young member of the Carib tribe from what is now Haiti. He enters the story as part of a fishing expedition that encounters a Spanish ship. The Spanish seek to capture the Caribs, who fight back. Fero's father is killed, but he gives a last admonition to his son:


The remaining tribesmen swim to land, where they are captured by the Spanish. They are taken to a mine at put to work. Under Fero's leadership, they escape, killing the sleeping Spaniards, and stealing their ship. Unfortunately, they are struck by a storm. The ship is destroyed, though Fero survives, adrift on flotsam.

He must drift a really long time, becauses he's picked up by a ship that looks like a Chinese junk, crewed by Asian pirates. Fero challenges the pirate captain and easily beats him, assuming the captaincy, with the other pirates quickly proclaiming they will "follow him to hell."

The next installment begins with Captain Fear and his men saving a young woman from sacrifice to the god Thu in the jungles of "Indochina." (The year in this installment is given as 1850, which seems unlikely, given the vibe of this story. The later run places him in the 17th Century.) After a tense escape in the jungle, Captain Fear's ship is attacked by another group of pirates. No sooner are they defeated, than the woman, Denise, threatens him at gunpoint to return her to her father--though she reveals he is not a rich plantation owner as Fear had hoped, since he wanted to ask for a ransom.

Her father is a pirate who's ship is fast approaching. In a pitch battle, Fear's ship is destroyed and he and his men are taken captive. Later, Denise has a change of heart and frees him. He fights Denise's father and kills the pirate. Now, Denise is Captain and offers Fero a position as her second in command.


Fero rejects her offer and jumps into the ocean to swim away. Denise vows revenge.

The next installment, Denise is as good as her word. Her men capture Fero when he reaches land. She has him sold into slavery. You can't keep Captain Fear down, though, because at the first oppurtunity, he stages a mutiny. Which fails--but soon after a storm strikes the ship, and it hits a reef. Fero is able to escape.

He reaches shore and is quickly captured by the Spanish. He's back in the Carribean--on his home island! Horrifyingly, he is told his tribe is now gone. They died fighting the invaders. They intend to make Fero a slave.

He is purchased by a Senora Fernandez. When he refuses her offer to be her personal bodyguard, he rebuffs her, and she calls her suitor, Captain Gomez to dispatch him. Fero bests Gomez and escapes. In the jungle, he is rescued by a group of black men who take him to a fellow Carib and friend.  He finds that all of them are escaped slaves from the Hernandez plantation.


The men take the plantation, but then enacts the rest of Fero's plan. They take a ship, determined to be pirates. Captain Fero sails over the horizon, and won't appear again for 7 years, and then in the hands of a new creative team.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Another Visit to the Alex Toth Casting Agency

Need a different look for an NPC or a weird monster of some sort? Check out the model sheets and concept art created for Hanna-Barbera by the late, great Alex Toth:

Cyclops:


Dragon, Four-eyed:


The rulers of the cat people:


A wizard and his pets:



A wizard with a nose piercing and fairy lackeys:


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Weird Revisited: Waterfront Rogues

This post originally appeared in 2014. I think I will have to add a few more of these sorts of operators to the environs of Rivertown in the Land of Azurth.

Ocean-going pirates and landlubber thieves are common rpg archetypes, but there's another group, less dear to the pop culture imagination, that sort of bridges the gap between the two. The river pirate lurks in that gap, connecting the urban, wilderness, and sea-going adventures into one larcenous tapestry.

This sort of thing has gone on as long as there have been boats and things to steal, of course, but there are some great examples of this from American history. The Cave-In-Rock game operated out of this place on the Ohio River:


The 1790s were the high point of the piracy there. Samuel Mason and his gang robbed flatboats carrying farm goods to markets in New Orleans.

Still, the Cave-In-Rock gang aren't near as colorful as their urban counterparts. Consider Sadie Farrell (also known as "Sadie the Goat" for her modus operandi of headbutting male victims so her accomplice could mug them), a leader of the Charlton Street Gang. In 1869, the gang stole a sloop on from the waterfront on Manhattan's West Side. They embarked on a piratical spree, reading up and down the Hudson and Harlem Rivers, even going as far as Albany, supposedly. They robbed small merchant vessels, and raided farm houses and Hudson Valley mansions, occasionally kidnapping people for ransom. Sadie was said to have made male captives "walk the plank" on occasion. Eventually, the villagers organized and began to fight back. The gang was forced to abandon the sloop and return to street crime. One assumes it was fun while it lasted.


The Swamp Angels had an even more innovative approach. Based in a Cherry Street tenement named Gotham Court (also called "Sweeny's Shambles"), the Swamp Angels had a secret entrance to the sewers. There they made their lair and launched their nocturnal raids on the East River docks. Here's what the chief of police said about them in 1850:

"[they] pursue their nefarious operations with the most systematic perseverance, and manifest a shrewdness and adroitness which can only be attained by long practice. Nothing comes amiss to them. In their  boats, under cover of night, they prowl around the wharves and vessels in a stream, and dexterously snatch up every piece of loose property left for a moment unguarded."

The police tried waterfront snipers then sewer raids to fight the bandits on their own turf. Only regular sewer patrols drove the gang from its subterranean lair. Even those didn't end their piratical ways.

More interesting and game-inspiring tales of riverside criminality can be found at your local library. Or the internet.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wednesday Comics: A Return to Storm

It's about time I got back to my exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm. This is a repeat of the beginning of Vandaahl the Destroyer to freshen your memory. Earlier installments can be found here.


Storm: Vandaahl the Destroyer (1987) (part 1)
(Dutch: Vandaahl de Verderver)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

In a small, strange universe, somewhere in the multiverse, a war which has lasted for millions of years comes to an end. Vandaahl the Destroyer, Lord of Chaos, Agent of Death, is brought before his triumphant enemies. He gloats that he won the moment they chose to take up arms against him, and he relishes the irony that they will now kill him in the name of peace.

But his enemies don't plan to kill him. Instead, he will be locked in the Armor of Eternity. He will be held in stasis until the end of time. They also plan to throw the armor into a black hole. They are unsure of what will happen. The All-Creator will decide his fate.



Apparently, the All-Creator isn't done with Vandaahl. Drawn into the black hole, he isn't destroyed, but instead shunted through a white hole into another universe...


He comes down like a meteorite into the water world where Storm, Ember, and Nomad have been living with a community of fishermen. Nearly drowned in the resulting wave, our heroes decide to dive down and investigate when they see a glow beneath the water. Storm and one of the fishermen don special jellyfish and diving helmets and go down.


The next day, they come back to haul up the armored figure. Storm weirdly has a hard time touching it, like his hand and the figure are two magnets, repelling each other. They take the mysterious figures back to the fisherfolks' nest to take counsel with the elders.

While the adults are talking, children are playing around the figure. They inadvertently activate some controls...


And Vandaahl lives!

TO BE CONTINUED

Monday, June 10, 2019

Superheroic Hooks

While not exhaustive, this is a list of recurring story hooks common in superhero comics from the Silver Age on, though focused on the Silver and Bronze Ages. They are geared toward teams of heroes and those of moderate power level, as "street level" heroes can get into adventures just by going on patrol and spotting mundane crime. Still, they are probably useful at any level.

Assault: the heroes are attacked, either individually or as a group.
Challenge: An NPC challenges a hero to some sort of contest, be it combat, a chess match, etc.
Clandestine Attack: Heroes are plagued by some something not immediately recognizable as an attack (poor public relations, bad luck, problems with powers), but actually is.
Clash of Cultures: A misunderstanding or disagreement leads to conflict with heroes from another nation/world.
Crasher: An NPC of uncertain motivation appears in or invades the heroes' base/home.


Disaster: Sort of a natural or unnatural disaster occurs. This may also be a Clandestine Attack.
Doppelganger: A duplicate of one or more heroes or supporting cast members appears, either amnesic or claiming to be the genuine article.
Framed!: A hero or supporting cast member appears to be guilty of a major crime.
Gift: Heroes receive a mysterious item, base, or job offer.
Harbinger/Messenger: A stranger arrives either announcing the arrival of a greater threat, or to seek the heroes' help in stopping this threat.
Invasion: An attack by a force from another world, country, or time.

Invitation: Heroes are invited to a research facility, upscale party, movie studio, foreign country or the like.
Kidnapped: One or more of the heroes is kidnapped.
Manipulation: The heroes are being maneuvered into a course of action advantageous for the villain.
Masquerade: Someone is pretending to be one or more of the heroes.
New Hero: A new hero of uncertain motives appears either as a rival or aid to the heroes.
Quest: Similar to the challenge, but the heroes must overcome some challenge to acquire an item or achieve some other goal.


Return: A long-missing hero reappears.
Siege: An Assault of some sort traps the heroes in their base or home.
Shutdown: A political/public relations issue leads to authorities threatening action against the heroes.
Villain Multiplied: Previously solo villains form a team.
Upgrade: A villain or hero has a mysterious increase in power.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Weird Revisited: Mo' Mummies

The original version of this post appeared in 2013. The tomb is reopened...

MUMMY, BOG
These mummies were naturally created but are instead products of being buried in peat bogs. They aren't wrapped in bandages, their skin in tanned black, and they are more flexible than their fellows due to calcium phosphate in the bones being dissolved by bog acid. They only do 1d8 damage and have one less hit dice, but they can vomit acid for 1d4 damage.


MUMMY, GIANT
Humans weren't the only ones to be mummified, or to rise as fearsome undead monsters. Giant mummies have hit dice one better than what ever giant humanoid their size resembles or one better than standard mummy hit dice, whichever is better. They have all the standard mummy abilities, except (in some cases) mummy rot. (Check out Gomdulla above statted here.)

MUMMY, LOVELORN
These mummies got caught in a forbidden romance and were mummified as punishment. When first revived, they look like regular mummies and have all the pertinent abilities, but within 1d4 days, they shed their wraps (and most of their powers) in favor of a brooding, exotic charm. They typically become convinced someone is the reincarnation of a long dead love, and will go about trying to woo the lost lover, killing those that get in the way. They are able to Charm (as per spell).


MUMMY, WELL-PRESERVED
These mummies have several unusual traits--most obvious of which is they are as attractive as the day they died, instead of being desiccated corpses. They don't have the mummy rot or the fearful reaction, but to do possess a charm ability (as per the spell). Typically, some sort of ritual is needed to fully resurrect one (involving some sort of item important to them in life and several blood sacrifices) of these mummies, but until then they are able to exert their will by control of others.