Monday, September 16, 2019

Ain't No Gods in Gyre


Belief is a virus. On the levels above those of heavy matter, the multiverse is an ideaspace, susceptible to co-opting or conversion by belief alone. The Outer Planes and their competing attempts to rebuild the Godhead are engines of it, and the City at the Center of the Multiverse, Gyre, is the one place with no agenda in the big game It has to keep their seductive memes suppressed at all costs, or the strange loop that enforces it's existence would broken, and possibly the stability of the entire multiverse with it. Again.

That's why Gyre's real ruler, not the corporate committees or the concerned citizen boards or even the occasional winners of the city's haphazard elections, works hard to keep belief out. There is a strict "no gods" policy, for instance. Gods are strange attractors for belief. The lost, outcast, or psychological vulnerable, have been known to fall for them on sight. So they're all banned. There have been attempts by rogue theists to instantiate a god in the city (in one case the smiling cat mascot of a fast food restaurant), but the Lady was on to them before they could power it up. Four manifestations of her twisted the whole block into a Klein bottle and tossed it into the Astral manifold.

The thing about sentient beings is they tend to want to believe in things, and even the Lady can't be everywhere. So registered policlubs are allowed. These tamed belief systems, whatever their intentions, only serve to strengthen the city's loop because they wouldn't exist without it. If one steps out of line despite the safeguards, well, they get disappeared too.

Though Gyre's citizenry complain about the policlubs, they are also a source of entertainment. Most have some sort of media presence from talk radio to slick television shows. Major street clashes between clubs tend to be televised events associated with gambling. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Warriors of Eternity


I came across these quickstart rules for Warriors of Eternity last week, a "Sword Dream" game that says it's "inspired by your favorite old school action fantasy cartoons," and it does have a light Masters of the Universe vibe. It's somewhat ruleslight, but looks like there's enough there to get the job done.

Get the quickstart document here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Obscure Indies

Inspired by Cartoonist Kayfabe, I impulse-bought some black and white indie stuff off a ebay recently. I got some good deals, though I didn't quite achieve quarter bin level value. Here are some highlights:

Warlock 5
I managed to get the whole run of this, though I haven't read anything but the first issue yet. It's a story of an eclectic group from across parallel dimensions (a cyborg, a dragon, a armored knight, a street punk, the usual) who are engaged in a conflict for control of a mystical grid located in an unnamed city which is a nexus for interdimensional travel. It's written by Gordon Derry and has generally pretty great art by Denis Beauvais. It was published by Aircel, a Canadian publisher eventually gobbled up by Malibu (who was in turn gobbled up by Marvel, ultimately). The reviewer in Space Gamer/Fantasy Gamer #83 summed it up: ""The lure of this book is that the reader is unsure of exactly what is going on. Lots of magic, guns, swords, robots, babes, motorcycles, and very nice art."


DragonBlade and She-Drak
These two super-obscure indies (there's virtually nothing on them on Grand Comics Database) are from 1991 (so far as I can tell) but resemble 80s black and white boom indies in a lot of ways, not the least of which is being in black and white. They are published by Comax, which seems to be an imprint used by cartoonist F. Newton "Butch" Burcham for some of his work. Mostly, Burcham does stuff in the Frazetta sort of vein: a few muscular, barbarian warriors, but an awful lot of scantily-clad, curvy cavewomen and the like. However, these two titles are actually superhero fare (though you would be forgiven from perhaps thinking otherwise from the cover). They tell the parallel stories of two astronauts who were part of an mission that fell into a blackhole to emerge in the Megaverse. There they are guided in gaining powers by a mysterious and powerful alien in a Marvel Comics sort of vein named Phiddeus Phoom. DragonBlade, She-Drak, and presumably Robo-Beast and Night-Flight were to appear together in the a comic called Mega-Force, but I can't find any evidence that actually came out.


Monday, September 9, 2019

Highway Across the Outlands


Climb up the walls of the city, passed the rookeries of the poor and dispossessed and the ramparts where the city guard stand bored but vigilant, and look over the side and you will see more gray nothingness, occasionally pixelating and deresolving to show the more abstract astral manifold beneath, same as if you looked up at flickering spark that passes for a sun. But if you take a corkscrew ramps below ground to one of the city's gates and pass through the checkpoint, quickly the gray mist would recede behind you, and you would find yourself on a highway in an immense desert. This is the Outlands.

The Outlands is the phase boundary between the city and the Outer Planes. Its existences preserves the city's ambivalence, keeps it from being conquered by some conceptual force or another. Its desert is vast, but it is more its indifference that keeps strongly held ideas at bay. The Outlands and its few inhabitants are stubborn.

The highways that stretch from the city gates run through alkali saltpan, scrub plans, and stretches of sandstone buttes. There are a few settlements along the way: outposts and waystations run by those too noncomformist for city life or exiled for some other reason. There are also bands of evangelists and missionaries from other Planes working to convert travelers, though these will die out eventually, either in conflict or by loss of faith. Some of them get violent in their death throes, though. Most Everyone else is a traveler or trader, headed one direction or the other--or a bandit. Though the highways are most often lonely (that is their nature, not a description) many convoys and caravans pass along them, and they all ripe for the taking.

At the edge of the Outlands are the Border Towns. Their appearance vary from town to town, but they control the flow of traffic from whatever plane is on the other side. All are fortified borders, no matter how benign the appearance of the Plane on the other side, indeed the most benign are often the most dangerous.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Carnacki Ghost-Finder

I recently discovered there are a number of readings of William Hope Hodgson stories on Youtube. They vary in quality of course, but all the ones I've listened to are decent. Try this one:


Thursday, September 5, 2019

The City at the Center, Reprise

Anton Furst
"I live now, only with strangers
I talk to only strangers
I walk with angels that have no place"
- Bruce Springsteen

It is the living (and dying and living again) embodiment of Reality 2.0. A ring and a promise. The strange loop that sustains itself and possibly the entire multiverse. Born out of the last war and the first cause (second iteration), it has no history and is nothing but history.

Its sights. Horizonless urban landscape, sprawling vertiginously upward in two directions to loom overhead, darkened narrow, cobblestone alleys feeding into modern thoroughfares awash in neon, lined with deco skyscrapers and gleaming glass spires, rooftop slums perched on skeletal high-rises, ramshackle mobile markets, the rusted out carapace of dead factories, dutch-angled slabs of never-finished freeway tagged in occult scripts, geodesic domes housing lush gardens, gargoyles that sometimes take flight, the sky gray with spasms of occasional pixelation, a sparking blue-white point instead of a proper sun.


Its sounds. The rattling rumble of an elevated train, the high-pitched invective of angry fairies, the beat drifting from open nightclub doors, the patter of street dealers, the nervous shifting of strange animals and the groan of heavy-laden carts, the growl of engines, the squeak and hiss of arthritic pneumatic joints, the distant crackles and pops of spells met with gunfire, the wail of sirens.

Its smells. Fast food thick with alien spices, stale alcohol and sweat, a hint of ozone, a stray whiff of expensive perfume, burning oil, cigarettes.

(sensory-based format borrowed from Jack Shear)

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Dreadstar and Grimjack


Yesterday, in a post-holiday flurry of package deliveries, I got the first volume of Jim Starlin's Dreadstar Omnibus in hardcover. I already have the pdf, but it didn't prepare me for the gorgeousness of the actual book. Can't wait for the other volumes!

Oh, and hey kids, a comics podcast! The next episode of the Bronze Age Book Club by yours truly and some other Hydra notables dropped today:

Listen to "Episode 4: GRIMJACK #1" on Spreaker.

Monday, September 2, 2019

City At the Center


Reading Grimjack for our comics podcast and a friend's work on a vaguely Rifts-like superhero setting, got me thinking about a sort of gonzo cross-genre setting for 5e. I'd freely draw from things like Planescape, Eberron, and a host of genres like cyberpunk and sci-fi, and whatever I decided to borrow from things like the Marvel Micronauts series, TORG, Mayfair's Demons, and Rolemaster's Dark Space. There would a gigantic ring megapolis in the center of the multiverse, part Sigil, part Ringworld.

The "standard" D&D races would represent various alternate universe hominids, so one could play a dwarf from a standard D&D world, one from a more technological background, a Steampunk world, or what have you. Warforged would probably be living robots of some sort.

Jean Pierre Targete