Monday, April 30, 2012

The Story So Far

For the benefit of the players' in my Weird Adventures game (and at the request of Tim Shorts) here’s a summary of what the players' exploits and investigations so far. Hopefully it will he of interest to other readers, as well:

Heward Kane, celebrity detective, hired the PCs to (legally) retrieve the body of John Vandemaur from the family crypt. After fighting some ghoul hoodlums, our heroes discovered that the corpse of Vandemaur wasn’t in the coffin, but instead a very live sorcerer, magically bound.

Indrid Bliss was that sorcerer. He was unable to escape our heroes, despite his best efforts. He warned the PCs against further involvement in this business, but wouldn’t explain what "this business" was. Bliss was taken from them a gargoyle before they could fully interrogate him.

Viviane Vandemaur is John’s widow. The ex-waitress from the across the Eldritch River (Hoborxen) was never accepted by the stuffy, Old Money Vandemaur family, particularly its matriarch, Urania. Viviane spun our heroes a tale of her husband dabbling in dark magic with Bliss as a business partner. She's still convinced that her husband is dead and that Bliss is responsible. She asked the PCs to continue the search for him

When they followed the trail to Club Tekeli-Li in Hoborxen (where Bliss and Vandemaur supposedly conducted their business) our heroes again ran into the gargoyle. A mysterious crystal orb from Hoborxen’s alien doppleganger seemed to keep the gargoyle at bay. The creature said he had been sent to kill the PCs, but by whom? Viviane suggested the gargoyles were friends with Bliss, but then why did he seem reluctant to go with the one who came for him?

And where is John Vandemaur?  Maybe the ritually flayed and dismembered corpse the gang found at the club in Hoborxen is him, but that remains to be confirmed.

More to follow...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

It Just Gets More Weird: Updates to the Index

I've added a few more entries to the Weird Adventures Index page for your edification and enjoyment.  First off, a couple of interesting characters of the sort the City frequently produces: the paladin of the working poor, Joan Darkling, and the oozing, accidental crime lord, Waxy Moldoon.

In the monster section, the formians are staging a very efficient and quiet invasion. A couple of para-elementals are a bit more likely to get noticed: petro-elementals rise from oil wells and mephiti menace Char Hill, a town atop a coal seam fire.  Tuning in to a radio para-elemental can be just as nasty, but in a more different way.

After that, if your looking for a an escape from those noxious (and toxic) creatures, how about a vacation to that sweet tooth Shangri-La, the Rock Candy Mountain.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Swarm of Husks

Likely the product of a deranged (and necromantically adept) mind, a swarm of husks is composed of undead insects that died in light fixtures or between window panes. These creatures died in crude despair as only the mindless can know it, and that inchoate emotion, combined with energy from the negative plane, is a powerful force.  These swarms take some time to gather, but once formed will do the bidding of the necromancer who raised them.

Husk swarms have the standard properties of a swarm of diminutive creatures, plus those standard to undead. Any creature beginning its turn inside the swarm must make a saving throw or be nauseated for 1 round. The husk swarm is hungry for life force and will crawl into the mouth or nostrils of a victim (failed saving throw) over a period of 1 minute.  Once inside a living thing, they drain 1d4 levels from it (or add negative levels, however you want to look at) like the spell enervation.

Some anecdotal reports suggest that bright lights can attract a swarm, distracting them from living targets.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Saint Joan of the City

On the southern end of Eldside Park there is a bronze statue of a stern-faced woman in plate armor holding a sword. The lady couldn’t be more out of place, surrounded by greenery and the picnicking wealthy. Her battles were fought in the stockyards, waterfront, and railyards. This is Joan Darkling--to the City’s labor movement, Saint Joan.

Joan Darkling was born in the Smaragdine coal country. She saw the worst of the mining companies' attempts to stop miners from organizing. Strikers were shot by hired mercenaries. Agitators died of poisoning from deadly ores inserted by malign kobolds imported from Ealderde. Joan left the Smaragdines in her teen years and became an adventurer, but never forgot where she came from.

Joan survived many a delve to retired from adventuring young. She took up the cause of the City’s workers with the same zeal she’d showed in slaying monsters. She wore magical plate armor she had scavenged from a delve to labor rallies. They were just another form of battle.

The famous folk song about Joan says she died after her battle with the “Golem of Capitalism”--a brazen, bull-headed construct sent against her by a consortium of robber barons. She defeated the bull, but succumbed to poisoning, caused by the alchemical smoke rising from the bull’s boiler and snorted from its nostrils. That’s what the song says.

In reality, no one knows what became of Joan Darkling. It is true that she disappeared soon after her battle with the golem, but no death was ever recorded, and the last to see her say they she was pained by a few wounds but seemed in no way dying.

Some say Joan sleeps somewhere in a subterranean chamber, awaiting the time when she is needed again. When injustices visited upon the poor and downtrodden worker will again require her to do battle with monsters.

Joan Darkling’s Sword: Joan wielded a Holy Avenger, an intelligent blade who adopted Darkling's crusade. It has a particular dislike of fat cats and acts as a bane of monied interests and their agents, getting a +1 against such individuals, regardless of alignment.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: A Dream Rekindled

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...

"A Dream Rekindled"
Warlord #88 (December 1984)
Written by Cary Burkett; Penciled by Dan Jurgens; Inked by Rich Buckler.

Synopsis: In the port city of Bakwele, Scarhart and Morgan are seeking provisions, but wind up getting into a fight when a soldier insists Scarhart take the place of an injured slave bearing the governor’s litter. Outnumbered, our heroes try to escape into back alleys, but are blocked by a dead end.

Only briefly stymied, they escape across the rooftops after Scarhart knocks a chimney down on their pursuers.  Morgan’s impressed:

Meanwhile, hundreds of leagues away, beneath the Great Fire Mountain, Tinder and his new buddy Chaka discover ancient chambers full of treasure and decorated with the sinister image of someone familiar to readers of this saga…

In Bakwele, Morgan and Scarhart seek a contact in the black market, Patch, recommended to them by Cap’n Hawk. Asking around in a tavern only gets them in another brawl, as they're mistaken for Atlantean spies.  Our heroes are saved by the appearance of Patch, who throws a mean knife:

Patch takes them back to her home to talk. They meet her young son, Avenel, who excitedly tells them that a leader is coming to free them from Atlantean tyranny—a rider came through proclaiming it.  Morgan gets excited too, and asks what this leader’s name is. 

His hope dies when the boy tells him that the man is called “the Warlord.” He realizes the boy must have met Aton when he was Morgan’s herald, proclaiming the army of liberation.  But all that ended. Aton died at Deimos’s hand and the army of ex-gladiators became bandits. 

Morgan can’t hide his tears from the boy; he quickly changes the subject, though, and gets back to business. Soon, they’re sneaking down to the docks, so that Patch’s men can smuggle provisions onto the boats from the Wind Shadow.  The plan hits a snag when they're discovered by Atlantean troops. 

They manage to escape—all except Avenel.  The boy is in Atlantean hands and on his way to interrogation!

Things to Notice:
  • The Atlantean troops in Bakwele eschew the usual horned helmets we've seen before for capes. Maybe these are just collaborators?
  • The Evil One was pretty full of himself.  His treasure room has pictures of his diabolic mug all over the walls.
Where It Comes From:
This issue goes back to the recurrent Warlord theme of Travis Morgan having a noble goal, but failing to follow through. It also hints that he's starting to be mythologized a bit: Aton's visit was well before the Atlantean invasion, but Avenel assumes the two are related.

The Evil One was last seen (and defeated) by a Travis and Jennifer Morgan and friends in issue #66. He was turned back to his original form, the Gollum-esque Craetur in that issue.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spirit of Radio

Sometimes the voice on the airwaves isn’t human. Late night on an empty frequency you can sometimes hear plaintive whispers between the static: the lonely call of a radio spirit. These electromagnetic para-elementals appear to arise spontaneously from radio transmissions. They're often a nuisance--and sometimes a real danger--within the City and elsewhere.

Radio para-elementals can manifest in any radio. They typically speak in snippets of broadcasts they’ve overheard, mimicking the various voices whose words they steal. They can, however, mimic a single radio personality's voice if they choose, but seem to do it less commonly. Having matured in a sea of pitchmen and songtresses, they develop uncanny abilities to manipulate humans with their assumed voices. They can replicate the bard-like abilities of fascinate, suggestion, and mass suggestion.

They’re not limited to mimicking human voices. They can fascinate equally well with music, or lull to sleep with a magical lullaby. Also, they can create a high volume static which acts as a sonic burst--though this typically blows out the speaker of the radio they're utilizing.

If particularly enraged, a spirit can arc forth from a speaker as pure electricity. It does 1d6 points of damage (additional 1d6 to someone in metal armor). This is treated as a charging attack. This attack causes the para-elemental to dissipate with the effort.  It takes then 2d6 days to reform.

AC: 2 [18]
Move: 18
HD: 6
Attacks/Dmg: 1 spell-like power or arc
Defenses: immune to electricity, and other elemental immunities
Special: Vulnerable to water (1d8 points per gallon of water, or double damage on water-based spells), spell like abilities as above (and perhaps other bardic abilities): fascinate, suggestion, mass suggestion, sonic burst.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The New Avatar

This has nothing to do with that Cameron movie of the same name. Instead, The Legend of Korra is Nickelodeon animated series is set in the world of the much cooler Avatar: The Last Airbender (the animated series, not the Shyamalan film). If you haven’t seen it read this, and then come back.

The Legend of Korra is set seventy years after the end of the original series. Korra, the headstrong young avatar, runs away from the domain of the Southern Water Tribe to get trained in airbending by Master Tenzin. She arrives in Republic City, capital of the United Republic of Nations, rather unprepared for the fast-paced city life. She immediately runs afoul of anti-bender “Equalists”, gangsters, and the police--and that’s just in the first episode.

The Legend of Korra has the elements of the original series: the Asian-flavored fantasy world, distinctive elemental magics based on different martial arts styles, and the crazy portmanteau animals, but adds some new stuff. Republic City has a more advanced technology like zeppelins, cars (with roofs like Chinese palanquins), and radio. The shift to a fantasy urban environment also adds some interesting social wrinkles: a professional sport version of bending, criminal organizations, anti-bending revolutionaries, and the avatar in an age of mass-media.

So far, the series seems just as well-done as the original, with attention to detail, interesting characters, and serial storytelling. The post-Industrial Revolution fantasy world is a rarirty in game settings (rarer than in fiction even) and this is an interesting example of how it can be done without going strongly Steampunk (though that term was used in some of the promo material, Republic City is more Pulp era than Victorian) or magitech.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Taking a Bite Out of Hoborxen

After a week haitus, Creskin and Boris were back in action in the City, with Don Diabolico down due to illness. The boys met with John Vandemaur's widow, Viviane.  She pinned her husband's death on Indrid Bliss (the very much living man our heroes had freed from Vandemaur's coffin), a thaumaturgist with whom he had gone into business to exploit the incursions of the alien city onto Hoborxen.  She said they had used the abandoned Tekeli-li Club as a base of operations, and our heroes ought to start looking for John there.

She tied it up all nice with a bow, and offered to pay 50 bucks a day, plus expenses.  The only problem was, her story didn't ring completely true.  No one was sure what the truth was, though--and their greedy, anyway--so they played along. 

They searched Vandemaur's study and found a note written in the margin of an old occult book: "Incursions from Elsewhere" - Montagu Ware? Nobody knew what it meant, but they thought the Thaumaturgical Society library might be a good place to try and find out--only it was closed for the day.  So it was off the Hoborxen.  Creskin also asked if they could borrow a sphere of alien glass with a glow inside that came from the alien city hat Vandemaur had been using as a paperweight.

The gang crossed the Eldritch River and entered Hoborxen at night.  The club wasn't hard to find, but strange, ash-gray, fairy creatures, peculiar to the alien city replacing parts of Hoborxen, immediately started to make a nuisance of themselves. The boys got into the club, and found omnious stains on the floor and an old ritual circle. 

Then a gargoyle came crashing through a boarded up window.  Discretion being the better part of valor, our heroes hid from it--and they might've escaped notice, if the the foul-mouthed fairy-things hadn't flown in the busted window and started harassing them.  The gargoyle made it clear that he had orders to kill them, but the glass sphere somehow kept him at bay.  He flew off in a snit, leaving the boys to continue their search and do battle with the fairies.

With only four present, the diminutive things were more a nuisance than a harzard, but Creskin and Boris had a devil of a time hitting them.  Finally, Creskin grabbed one flying up in his face--and tried to bite it's head off!  The head proved resistant to removal, but the thing died, leaving a horrible taste in Creskin's mouth.

A fairy-on-gargoyle pile-on outside eventually drew them away and our heroes made it to the last room in the building.  There they found a gruesome sight--and a nauseating smell: A flayed man, dissected and pinned like a frog in a biology class.  Never one to leave anything they can carry away, the boys gathered up the various bits, wrapped them in a few table clothes, and threw them in the trunk of their rental car.

Then, it was back across the Eldritch River through the Corund Tunnel--still confused as hell about just what was going on.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: Bargain with the Devil

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...

"Bargain with the Devil"
Warlord #87 (November 1984)
Written by Cary Burkett; Penciled by Dan Jurgens; Inked by Rich Buckler.

Synopsis: When last we left our heroes, their ship had emerged from a fog bank right into the middle of a battle. Seeing that one of the ships was Atlantean, Morgan plans to seize it to free the slaves onboard. The Atlantean vessel mistakes the Wind Shadow as an ally, allowing our heroes to board her.  After a skirmish, the Atlantean ship is in the hands of the Warlord.

The other ship hails them and declares itself the vessel of “Dread Pirate Hawk Red-Hand, known as the Sea Snake” and demands they turn over all the booty from the ship they captured or be boarded and sunk. Krystovar has heard of this pirate, but Morgan isn’t impressed.  He yells back they he’s "Morgan the Invincible, known as the Warlord," and they should leave these waters now or they’ll be boarded and sunk.

The pirates are impressed enough to invited Morgan over (alone) to parlay. After Morgan proves his badassery by making quick work of a larger pirate, Hawk meets with him:

Hawk does a little quick carving in the mast near Morgan’s head to prove his swordsmanship.  Morgan, unfazed, quickly carves a “w” on Hawks coat without cutting the pirate. Hawk’s suitably impressed and willing to listen to Morgan’s money-making proposition.

Morgan wants Hawk to harry Atlantean shipping and they’re captured ports. He can keep all the booty he captures except for slaves, for which Morgan will pay him per head for turning over. After a bit of haggling they reach an agreement.

Of course, Hawk isn’t to be trusted. While he and Morgan talk, some of his crew sneak over to the Wind Shadow and kidnap Tara to give them better bargaining power with Morgan.

While all this is going on, Tinder awakens still in the cave under the watchful eye of the monkey creature.  The monkey surprises him by giving a name--Chaka.  Looks like Tinder's found a new friend.
When Morgan gets back to his ship and finds Tara missing, he’s furious. Hawk is sailing away and demands ransom for Tara’s return. It seems hopeless; the Wind Shadow can’t catch the faster pirate vessel.  Morgan has a crazy plan:

Launched from the catapult, Morgan manages to grab the ships mast and drop into the crow’s nest. Hawk is stunned, and Tara couldn’t be happier:

Morgan shoots the sword out of Hawk’s hand. When the pirate attempts to hold Tara at dagger point, she turns the tables and takes him captive. Hawk hastily assures them that this was all a test of Morgan’s mettle. Now he’s satisfied, and the agreement can proceed as Morgan laid it out.

Tara and Morgan return to the Wind Shadow. Tara wonders if they’ll see the treacherous Hawk again, but Morgan believes they will: men like Hawk are ever loyal to their own greed.

Things to Notice:
  • Hawk is called "Hawkins" when he's first intrduced, but "Hawk" throughout the rest of the story.
Where It Comes From:
Presumably, the title of this issue means to suggest Hawk is the "devil," but Morgan is the one in the traditional diabolical role of tempting a weak man with riches.

Morgan's carving his initial with his sword trick is a common trope, originating with Zorro.

Chaka was the name of the furry humanoid primitive that befriended Marshall, Will, and Holly in the Land of the Lost.

Monday, April 16, 2012

More Items from the Planes

Here are more items from the Planes Beyond that sometimes find their way into the City:

Mechanoid Pheremones: A vial of volatile liquid containing signalling chemicals (not actually pheremones) for the polyhedral automata from Machina responsible for the repairing reality and defending it from chaos. The the vial is good for two uses. Chaotic individuals or magic-users casting spells in their presence will at least be thoroughly examined by the automata, and possibly attacked. The mechanoids can follow the trail of the chemicals anywhere in the Material Plane, though they always appear where the vial was first opened unless it is quickly capped.

Horn of Glory: A curving bronze horn which, when blown, summons 1d6+1 incorporeal constructs, echoes of the shades of 5th level human warriors residing in the Halls of Valor. They serve the summoner unquestioningly--as look as the service involves battle (otherwise, they disappear). The warriors dissipate at the end of the battle. The horn may be blown once per week.

“The Usual”: Euphemistic name for a noxious drink smuggled to the Material Plane from the city in the Land of Beasts, but probably originating in Dreamland. It reputedly contains Cobra Fang Juice, Hydrogen Bitters, and Old Panther. Consuming it causes all but the strongest to pass out after experiencing a strange fit (failed saving throw at -2). It’s said that some gain one important insight about the past, present, or future after consumption.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Make Them Choose How They Die

Cabin in the Woods is a really good film--though perhaps not so much as a horror film as a meditation on horror films and their audience. Anyway, go see it, and then we’ll talk. What I’m going to do instead of review the movie is suggest some ways it could influence a dungeoncrawl sort of game.

Though I’m not going to spoil specific film events directly, I’ll reveal some plot points indirectly, so if you want your viewing experience to be pristine, beware:

Related to the "Theseus vs. the Minotaur" setup of Hunger Games, what if the adventures aren’t gladiators but just sacrifices? Sacrifices that have the means to fight back of course, but not intended by the Powers That Be to survive. Unlike Minos's labyrinth, where the monster is the same (and there’s only one of them), the Powers let the monsters and window-dressing (dungeon-dressing?) get chosen by character choice.

There's a room full of artifacts--items--most of them magical, though not in the useful sort of way, probably. The characters chose one (though they probably don’t know the real choice they’re making)--and that choice sets up the theme of the dungeon.

Of course, all the different themes and all the different monsters exist there, somewhere, ready to go when called upon. The PC’s might well discover these other options in the course of the campaign, including perhaps the “storage area” for all the monsters.

It’s a setup with a lot of possibilities. A megadungeon more like the titular Cube that the traditional linear layers--and with a overall malign purpose for player’s to uncover. If they survive.

Friday, April 13, 2012

X-Ray Specs

A cheap magic item sometimes found in the City, X-Ray Spectacles are apparently mass-produced and sold in the back of lurid pulps and comics.  The item is sold for as little as a single Union dollar--with good reason, as 90% or more are fakes whose only magical power is to appear faintly magical, distort one's vision slightly when wearing them, and cause headaches.  The real X-Ray Spectacles (sold from identical ads as the fake ones) are identical cardboard glasses (not unlike old fashion 3-D glasses in our world ) with swirling, swifting patterns in the thin, plastic lens.

Real X-Ray Spectacles confer the power to see through solid matter, though things seen are not in color and somewhat hazy.  This is uneffected by illumination.  Vision range is 20 feet, and the viewer can see through 1 foot or so of most materials with concentration, though only 1 inch of solid metal, with a round's concentration.  Without concetration, the wearer can see through no more than a quarter of an inch, which mainly makes them good for seeing through clothes.  Even without concetration, they see through illusions of most types.
The unknown manufactures of the spectacles make a shoddy product which extraplanar energies.  Repeated use or extended wear of the spectacles (more than once a day, or for more than 2 mintues) requires a saving throw or else suffering 1 point reduction in Constitution.  Every day the spectacles are in a person's possession (and not kept in a lead-lined or magically warded container) has a cumulative 5% chance of attracting the unwanted attention of malign astral entities.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Highlights from the Dungeoneering Medicine Conference

In 5887, the City Medical Society hosted a symposium on unusual maladies seen among delvers and possible treatments. Here are a few of the highlights:

Spectral Encounter-Induced Cataracts: J.H. Shaxwell discussed a series of cases of cataracts resulting from close encounter with incorporeal undead. Shaxwell theorizes this is the result of negative energy exposure.

Care of the Soul-Dislocated Patient: Trelane Cantor described the care provided unfortunates who have had their astral bodies separated via thaumaturgy. Emphasis was placed on environmental safety.

A Case of Amathocosis: A unique pneumoconiosis resulting from inhalation of the particulate matter left after a demilich encounter was described by Nyland Tonsure.

Antibiotic Resistance of Infernal Acquired Venereal Disease: Villard M. Sturm warns that succubi derived sexually transmitted diseases often required potent alchemical intervention.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: Forever Man

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...

"Forever Man"
Warlord #86 (October 1984)
Written by Cary Burkett; Penciled by Dan Jurgens; Inked by Mike DeCarlo.

Synopsis: At the end of annual #3, Morgan and crew had returned to their proper time and were reunited with their allies—and Morgan with his mate Tara. Celebration is cut short by a rock wall from the ceiling that separates Morgan from the rest of the group in a previously undiscovered room. It seems to be someone’s apartment, and Morgan quickly discovers whose, as the Hooded Man in Black phases through a wall and accuses him of theft!

Morgan and the man get into a fight, with Morgan not doing so well. They struggle for the man’s pistol, and manage to catch part of his precious library on fire. Scarhart manages to s shift the stone in front of the door so Morgan and the man can avoid burning up too.

Without his hood, the gang recognizes the man as Reno--but they had left him ancient Atlantis! Reno finally recognizes Morgan, as well, and begins to tell his story. He and the other pilots were stranded in Atlantis, but they made the best of it by shepherding Atlantean civilization to new advances in technology. The only place to safely deposit their chronal energy saturated stuff was ironically the cave where they would one day build it. The cave became some sort of point outside time, accessible from the past and the future. Reno and the others built the swan-ships and established a noble order of peacekeepers (wearing copies of Morgan’s helmet—or what would one day be Morgan’s helmet) to protect the realm.

Unfortunately, this Golden Age doesn’t last. All the others eventually age and die—only Reno seems to be immortal due to his multiple chronal energy exposures. He withdraws from the world but watches in disgust and Atlantis slides again into depravity and sadistic games with the beast-changer machine. Eventually he leaves Atlantis behind and returns to the cave. He uses the cave’s unique properties to travel through history, observing famous events.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Morgan, Ashir, and Tinder are still in the same predicament we left them in issues ago. An unconscious Tinder is being menaced by a spider-thing while the others search the cave for him. The monkey-like creature Tinder had rescued returns the favor by distracting the creature.  The monkey manages to drag the boy to safety and Jennifer shows up and blasts the spider but doesn't find Tinder.

Morgan is downcast as the Shamballan ship sets sail back to Skartaris. Not only are the saucer-ships and equipment too “hot” with chronal radiation to remove from the cave, but Reno has to stay behind alone, as well. As they emerge from sea tunnel, Morgan sees that things can always get worse as they’re sailing right into the middle of a pitch naval battle!
Things to Notice:
  • The timey-wimey stuff of this storyline is fully explained--not that it makes it any less confusing.
  • Reno's decision to stay in the cave with the ships is strangely handled off panel.
Where It Comes From:
Like last issue, this one is mostly about dying up dangling plot threads.  "Forever Man" is a song by Eric Clapton, but that song wasn't released until 1985--after this issue.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Candy Zombies

Originally the flight of fantasy of a deranged alchemist with a sweet tooth, candy zombies now seem to be produced continuously in small quantities in the City by parties unknown. These poorly-formed, jelly confection figures aren’t actually undead but resemble zombies in their shambling, occasional moaning, and slack-jawed, vacant stares.

Candy zombies are prepared at the size of about 1.5 inches, however, they grow to roughly man-size over the next 24 hours if prepared properly. They can move their limbs from a few minutes after creation, but don’t take their first steps until they are perhaps 10 hours old. When fully grown, they are like normal zombies in most respects, except that they are susceptible to water--a river or fire hose can dissolve them in 2-20 minutes.

Perhaps the strangest danger of the candy zombies is in their exquisite sweetness. Any human that gets a taste of the candy zombie’s substance (whether by an accidental bite during a grapple or purposefully) must make a saving throw vs. disease or become addict to the taste of candy zombie, willing to do anything to obtain more unless cured by magical means.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Bunnies

I hope the bird who laid those eggs doesn't come looking for them.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat

It can be found in secondhand stores and pricey boutiques. It’s been worn by socialites, gun molls, and even grandmothers. No one who has succumbed to the dubious fashion temptation of the so-called leopard skin pillbox hat has been left unchanged.

Nothing is known about the leopard that originally wore the fur, but the hat was cut from a larger garment--a magical raiment worn by generations of protectoresses of the Ebon-Land wilds, the Leopard Women. Some of these warrior women were native Black folk, others white-skinned foundlings. Whatever their origins, they were each imbued with a portion of a wild spirit of that ancient land.

It all came to an end at the hands of a jealous huntress--or so the story goes. Fearing she would lose her man to the wild beauty, she did what legend said no man had been able to do. She killed a leopard woman, and claimed her vestments.

This story may only be so much pulp fiction. What is undisputed fact is that there exist possibly as many as three pillbox hats of leopard skin that can corrupt their wearers with a bestial spirit. Slowly, the spirit of the hat works to make the owner more short-tempered and predatory in her interactions with others (failing a saving throw as with lycanthropy). This spirit, invisible to anyone else, will at times be visible to the owner as a mirror image of herself, dressed in a leopard skin outfit.

The wearer will be goaded by this other personality into increasingly antisocial acts to further her goals (if alignment is used, it changes to Chaotic). While no visible physical transformation occurs, the owner develops (over 2-16 days) the uncanny ability to perform the physical feats of the leopard (climbing, jumping, stealth, etc.). Note that the owner does not to have to wear the hat any more frequently than once every 3 days for the change to take place, as long as they remain the owner (meaning it is not out of their possession for more than 7 consecutive days).

The outcome of the transformation is often death or imprisonment for the owner. Somehow, the hat always seems to make its way back to retail afterwards, though it make take months for this to occur.

The ultimate goal of the beast spirit seems to be vengeance against civilization. It may be that it can be placated with the appropriate ritual, but no one has yet discovered it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Blackmailer and the Baboon

In last night's Weird Adventures game, Creskin and Don Diabolico set out to help poor, wayward deb Sue Ann Wilde who'd been taken advantage of by her ex-boyfriend--the now deceased ghoul, Dean.  Dean had taken her to a antiquarian book dealer, Leland Throne, who dabbled in photography--specifically, compromising photos he could presumably sell to private collectors or use as blackmail.

Diabolico got to show off his gentleman thief skills by getting them into Throne's book shop in the middle of the night.  A hidden ledger and a stray picture of Sue Ann let the boys know they were on the right track.  They confirmed Throne was planning to call Sue Ann's wealthy father for blackmail.

The two paid a visit to Throne's residence on the Upper Eld Side. They discovered that Throne had gaudy tastes in home furnishings--and had a pet baboon!

Not wanting to tangle with a baboon and Throne in the middle of the night, our heroes returned rested (and spell replenished) the next day when Throne was at work.

A quick sleep spell put the the baboon down.  Rummaging through Throne's stuff turned up a lot of risque photos--including the ones of poor Sue Ann.  They also found the vial with the potion Throne had used to drug her and another with potion of bull's vigor--which the local pharmacist implied was a sexual enhancement. 

So they don't come off as too altruistic, I should point out that Creskin and Diabolico robbed both Throne's backroom safe at work and his strongbox at home.  They even stole his camera and the decorative (maybe) scimitar hanging on the wall over his bed.  Maybe we can file that all under "getting what he deserved?"

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: Full Circle (Part 4)

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...

"Full Circle"
Warlord Annual #3 (1984)
Written by Cary Burkett; Penciled by Dan Jurgens; Inked by Mike DeCarlo.

Synopsis: Daamon has absconded with a saucer timeship—and Shakira. Morgan isn’t about to let a “second rate Deimos” get away from him. He and Krystovar pursue on skysleds.

The saucer begins to malfunction. Morgan flies alongside and tells Shakira to jump. When she does, he grabs her with the tractor beam. Daamon manages to bring the ship down in one piece, but then he disappears in flash of chronal radiation into the space between time and no-time (wherever that is). And then there’s the Red Moon:

Back in the Atlantean city our heroes attend a celebration in their honor. Reno can’t enjoy it, because he still hasn’t found a way to free the other timeships from the void. Shakira and Morgan take him over to Daamon's Red Moon-tech sanctum, and Reno’s mood begins to improve. In a few days, he’s got the machines rigged up and is able to pull the other ships from the timestream. The problem now is that they still are leaking chronal radiation and will need to be stored somewhere.

Atlantean guards bring Daamon’s wife and child to Morgan so he can decide their fate. Morgan knows that to let the child live will lead to Deimos being born—and all the pain that the demon priest caused in his life. Still, Morgan can’t kill an innocent. He tells the men to let them go.

Reno calls Morgan over. Morgan turns to see…himself and his friends from back at the beginning of this whole storyline! This time, our heroes experience what they only observed last time.

The chronal fog rolls in and they're transported back to the underground weapons cache they started from. Morgan is reunited with Tara.  He realizes this cave is the perfect place to store the saucerships, because—well, that’s where they found them to begin with.

For those at following at home, Krystovar and Morgan summarize what we’ve learned in this arc:

Things to Notice:
  • Morgan and Shakira seem to specially put back on their future clothes just to make sure their dressed correctly to meet their past selves.
  • Daamon's disappearance into the time void leaves open the option of him returning at some point.
Where It Comes From:
At last, we get back to the paradoxical meeting this storyline started out with back in issue #79. Morgan's refusal to kill Daamon's wife and infant son of course forms a poignant counterpoint to Deimos (their descendant) forcing Morgan to kill his own infant (albeit cloned and rapid-aged) son.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Here's some new art by Loston Wallace for a little Weird Adventures project for Gen Con.  This is Waxy Moldoon. His story illustrates how fortune and failure can sometimes go hand and hand in the City. Waxy was a sadsack wiseguy wannabe, until an chance meeting with Mr. Scratch (if there's such a thing) left him something more--and less--than human.  Waxy's flesh seems to be melting--slowly.  A touch of his uncovered flesh can pass his condition on to others, in a more acute form. Anybody touched by Waxy who fails a saving throw will find his or her flesh beginning to liquify.  Success at a second saving throw means the liquification stops a point where the victim is still alive, though not much more than a lumpen mass.  Failure means the victim dies leaving only a puddle.  The process takes d100 hours.

Waxy's power has gotten him closer to being the big shot he always wanted to be.  He's got soldiers behind him, and he's an up and comer in the City's underworld, but he still isn't happy.  Everybody Waxy's touch sends oozing into oblivion is another reminder just what maybe waiting for him one day.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Titans, Wrathful and Otherwise

Based on the previews I was hoping Wrath of the Titans would be a bit better than its predecessor, the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans. Unfortunately, it largely has the virtues and flaws of the first film. It has a couple of interesting locales (a forest filled with traps and cyclopes, and Tartarus as an ever-shifting labyrinth), but overall it has less spectacle than the "similar in plot but more visually interesting in a stagey way" Immortals (2011).

If you’re looking for rpg inspiration in the area of titans (clashing or wrathful), I’d suggest forgoing all these films and checking out John C. Wright’s fantasy trilogy, "The Chronicles of Chaos" (Orphans of Chaos (2005), Fugitives of Chaos (2006), Titans of Chaos (2007). The series tells the story of five unusual orphans, who have lived their lives as the sole attendees at a British boarding school. It turns out that the five teens aren’t orphans at all, but hostages, securing a truce in the primal war between the Prelapsarian Titans and the Cosmos created by the renegade Cronus. Of course, the teens escape.

The five titan children each wield a different magical paradigm: Quentin practices sorcery and treats with spirits, Colin has the psychic ability to make reality conform to his will, Victor can manipulate matter on a molecular level, Amelia can perceive and tweak higher order dimensions, and Vanity can create doors and has a magic boat. The paradigms (and the paradigms of their foes, the Olympians) act in a “rock, paper, scissors” fashion that is not only clever but eminently gameable.

Wright’s modern world of hidden mythological beings has some resemblance to similar media, but he works with things in fresh ways. Grendel’s mother is the “mother of monsters” Echidna. The master artificer Telchines are more or less robots. The Laegystronians are literally Martians.

While the series seems ready made for something like White Wolf’s Scion (though Wright initially came up with the idea for a campaign in the Amber rpg), there are rich details that could be swiped for almost any game.