Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: Halloween Edition

Travis Morgan and his friends have encountered a lot of frightening things so far on Warlord Wednesday. Here are a few of the horrifying highlights:

The Children of Ba'al (issue #23) didn't seem that scary at first, being gold skinned and good-looking and all--but then they decided to sacrifice Morgan to their god and cooked at ate some of the brutish Orms.

While we're on the subject of sacrifices and gods, when the android Bogg (issue #39) invited Morgan to the feast of Agravar, Morgan had no idea he was going to get fed to a worm-thing.

Lest you think it's only Morgan that get's into these fixes, recall the Machiste and Mariah survived a shipwreck to get rescued by:

Which probably qualifies as "going from bad to worse."

Morgan also encounters horrors that are pretty appealing at first glance.  Azrael, the personification of death, is one of them.  Another is the sexy Cobra Queen from issue #28.

The greatest horror of them all would have to be Morgan's recurrent nemesis, Deimos the Demon-Priest.  Deimos was never so horrific as when he was a head on a hand after being chopped to pieces in his previous encounter with Morgan:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spirit of the Season

In the City, it's the month of Redfall and Revenant Night approaches.  Read all about it in this classic post.  While you're dipping into the FtSS vaults, you might want to refresh you memory on the Red Dwarf of Motorton, whose powers seem increased on that night.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monstrous Monday: Jumpin' Jack

He attacked women in the night in the streets of Victorian London, slashing them with knives or claws. He was said to be of hideous, inhuman appearance and able to make superhuman leaps and even breath fire.  Like that other guy a half-century later, he was christened "Jack."  Spring-heeled Jack.

Beneath a black cloak, Spring-heeled Jack wears a slick outfit like an oilskin (or maybe latex or some alien material?) and a helmet. He's said to have eyes like balls of fire and a diabolic countenance. His hands end in metallic claws. Unlike the latter day Jack, the Spring-Heeled gent seems more interested in causing fear than murder. He slashes victims' clothes, claws at them, then bounds away, disappearing to the night.

Read more about his exploits here.

Spring-Heeled Jack 
AC 4  HD 4  #Attacks: 1 claw +1 to hit (2d4) or breath  Special: Fearful Countenance: as per fear spell on a failed save; Leaping: can jump 20 ft. vertically or horizontally; Fire-breathing: 10 ft. cone, 2d6 fire dmg. (save for half) once every 1d4 rounds.

Follow the links below for more MONSTROUS Monday!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Monster Mashup

Classic monsters have uses beyond horror (or horror-themed) games. A number of monstrous crossovers in other media show how they can rear their ugly heads in games of other genres.

The astute Marvel reader may be aware that Solomon Kane fought Dracula (Though don't go looking for those stories in any of Marvel's Essential collections. I hear it's in the Dracula Omnibus, though ), but fewer may be aware that Dracula faced Zorro in Old California in a 1993 limited series from Topps. Frankenstein's monster gets around, too.  He encounters Tarzan in a 1996 Dark Horse limited when jungle lord tries to prevent Thomas Edison from recreating Victor von Frankenstein's experiment. (The collection Tarzan: Le Monstre also includes encounters with the Phantom of the Opera and Jekyll and Hyde).

Wold-Newton afficiandos among you that the pulp hero G-8 is rumored to be one of the pilots that took down King Kong. In "After King Kong Fell" Philip J. Farmer suggests that Doc Savage and the Shadow were hanging around that day, too.

Kim Newman's Anno Dracula series is an alternate history where the protagonists fail to defeat Dracula like they did in Bram Stoker's novel, and the count's villainous real estate scheme leads to a vampiric takeover of the British Empire.  The series goes from the 1888 to the 1980s.  Here's a free sample chronicling the vampiric 70s, with a lot of cameos from the likes of Travis Bickle, Shaft and Blade: "Andy Warhol's Dracula."

The monsters needn't be the villains. "Black as Pitch, from Pole to Pole" by Howard Waldrop and Steven Utley takes Frankenstein's monster into Pellucidar. Neil Gaiman's short-story and comic book serial Only the End of the World Again puts Larry (the Wolf Man) Talbot in Innsmouth and pits him against Deep One cultists.

You get the idea. So check out some of these great sources of inspiration in time for Halloween.  Also, take a look at this previous post for more pulpy appearances of classic monsters.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Books That Put the Weird in the West

Here's two book recommendations that bring a little bit of the fantastic into an Old West (or old west type) setting:

I've recommended some of Cherie Priest's work in this vein before--both the Steampunkian Boneshaker and the more horrific historical Those Who Went Remain There Still. Dreadful Skin reminds me more of the latter, though what it reminds me of most is Lansdale's Dead in the West or Collins'  Dead Mans Hand. It's a set of linked short-stories about a former nun pursuing a supernatural menace across Post-Civil War America. It's episodic and none of the stories builds to a climax in quite the way I would have liked, but it's a quick and entertaining read with some nice set pieces: the first story is a cat and mouse game with a werewolf aboard a steamboat trapped by a storm mid-river.

Felix Gilman's "Lightbringers and Rainmakers" is a a free story at set in the Western-ish secondary world of his novel The Half-Made World (which I recommended here) and the upcoming sequel The Rise of Ransom City. In brief, a frontier is being made from the more malleable reality of the wilderness, and humanity is caught between two opposing forces: the technologically more advanced, oppressive order of the Line and the violent chaos represented by the Gun. The short story weaves an epistolary tale of frontier towns and confidence hucksters in the rich world Gilman has built.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Flavors of Frankenstein

I’ve got Frankenstein on the brain after catching TCM’s Frankenstein Double Feature last night. Anybody who has read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein knows the literary monster is pretty different from (most) cinematic and comic book versions.  Why should we be limited to just mute and misunderstood or articulate and angry in our rpgs, though?  What other creatures can some alternate Victor Frankenstein bring to life?

Movie Frankenstein's monster is often a lumbering and destructive brute--and often misunderstood.  He reminds me a bit of King Kong in all except size.  Scale him up, and you’ve got a kaiju. The Japanese have already done that for us, but hey, we don’t necessarily have to use their version. (Actually, Toho got the idea from an aborted Willis O'Brien project with King Kong.) Now Victor’s got an even better reason not to make him a bride!

Or maybe something less monstrous? A gold-skinned artificial man created by scientists playing God would also describe Marvel’s Adam Warlock (originally known as HIm). Maybe their creation is actually mankind’s natural successor.  Gotta make way for the homo superior, as Bowie would have it. This artificial ubermensch and his bride (and progeny) might choose to save the world that hates and fears them, or maybe (in the words of Victor Frankenstein) they’re  a “race of devils…propagated upon the earth who might make the very existence of the species of man a condition precarious and full of terror.”

Vampire Hunter D heads straight from Dracula into the post-apocalypse (and in an interesting twist, Mary Shelley did write an end of the world novel, The Last Man), so why not Frankenstein? Maybe the monster is a gunman dispensing justice in a post-apocalyptic waste haunted by mutants as ugly as him, or maybe the world is overrun zombie apocalypse-style by monstrosities created by a monster following in the footsteps of his mad scientist creator? Either the future might be pretty grim.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Warlock Wednesday

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Warlord Wednesday for special guest column by Jim Shelley of the Flashback Universe Blog.  Here's Warlock Wednesday:

I've often felt that Jim Starlin's comic book stories had elements in them that made them feel like a role-playing game. I'm sure it's just common inspirations or coincidence  but it's there. The Adam Warlock story "Death Ship" (Strange Tales #179, 1975) is a great example.

The issue starts with Warlock recapping the previous issue (wherein his failure to protect a beautiful damsel in distress leads him to vow vengeance on her killers, the feared Universal Church of Truth.) His quest has brought him to a huge slave ship.

It turns out to be much like star-faring dungeon.

Warlock, like a lot of adventurers, doesn't really have a strategy: he just attacks the ship head on. This of course results in his capture. When he wakes up, he is brought before Captain Autolycus, the commander of the Death Ship.

Autolycus is a name taken from Greek mythology, meaning "The wolf itself." Starlin just probably thought it sounded cool. By the name and rank, it's clear that the Captain is the Ship's boss so expect him and Adam to face off before the end of the issue.

After the meeting, Warlock is thrown into one of the ship's holding cells where he meets a bizarre assortment of alien slaves. As the creatures explain their plight to Warlock, Starlin employs a rather clever layout trick to present this portion of the narrative:

This split screen design isn't something normally used comics, but you will find it employed quite a bit in another medium: rpg monster or character write-ups.

Warlock is next introduced to a character who definitely gives the story an rpg feel: Pip The Troll. Now, aside from Pip's resemble to a mythological creature (which is in itself suggestive of his origins), he's a comic sidekick like Sancho Panza or Planchet.  In other words, an entertaining henchman. Pip quickly becomes a welcomed addition to the Adam's entourage.

Pip tries to persuade Warlock to lead a revolt on the ship, but he refuses (but not before recounting a rather hippy-ish parable on the corrupting nature of power.) However, Warlock finally agrees to help them with their uprising (just not lead it) and with that, he's off to spend the next 3 pages attacking the ships guards. To be honest, I'm not sure how this is any less "Dark Force-y" than taking a temporary leadership role, but let's not quibble as it results in this amazing 17(!) panel sequence by Starlin:

So Warlock makes his way through the various "levels" of the ship. He eventually comes face to face with the Autolycus (we all knew it was coming down to this didn't we?), leading to the issue's final battle. Fortunately for Warlock, Autolycus is gracious enough to tell our hero all his stats and abilities before the fighting begins:

Warlock is outmatched by the Captain and spends the next couple of pages getting his golden ass handed to him. Right as Autolycus is about to deliver his death blow, a strange thing happens. The gem in Adam's forehead suddenly seems to come alive and sucks out Autolycus's soul.

That's right. The artifact that the character had, but didn't really know what it did, somehow was integral to solving the adventure. This bit of deus ex machina might reflect on Starlin as a storyteller.  It also might or might not tell us something about what sort of DM he would be.

From here, Warlock leaves with Pip the Troll to continue his quest to defeat the leader of the Universal Church of Truth, the Magus. As the saga progresses, his "party" will be joined by an evil wizard Thanos and a sexy assassin Gamora, but that's a tale for another "session" of Warlock Wednesday.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Automata for the People

In the City today, automata are mostly in the hands of the rich, but the proponents of the technology hope that one day they will be labor-saving devices for all humanity. Since automata have been a focus of our current G+ Weird Adventures game, I though it might be a good time to talk about them a bit here.

The history of automata goes back to the golems and clockwork curiosities of antiquity. When golems relied on an animating spirit to make them move, clockwork devices were often given life by strictly mechanical properties. Modern automata engineering borrows from both these practices. Automata have mechanic joints and internal machinery to give them a wider range of applications but often rely on a vitalizing element like golems.

Theoretical advances over the past thirty years have allowed vast improvements in powering automata.  While the Steam Men of half a century ago were dependent on boilers full of coal, and the clockwork animals of Ealderdish imperial courts had springs that needed winding, the modern marvels of Mikola Donander and Hew Hazzard often utilize power broadcast through the air. So far this broadcast power is short-ranged and possibly susceptible to thaumaturgic blocking, but in the future, whole cities might run on it.

Even more advanced automata harness the power of the sun itself.  Tiny sparks of pure alchemical fire, generated in heavily shielded atomic athanors, allowed the primal force of creation to be used as a power source--and perhaps a "seed" for the germination of a living soul. The City's protector, the Titan, is the only automata known to be powered in such a way, but the future of this technology is truly limitless.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Boris and the Spider

Our Weird Adventures campaign continued last night, with Dungeon of Signs Gustie subbing in for Chris Sims. After battling the automata last issue, the gang was more determined than ever to find the "heartstring" of the alien dodecahedron to deny the enemy the ability to bring the Machineries of Night back to life. 

While Hazzard worked on a psychic tracking device attuned to the Machineries' frequency, the gang took a key they found inside Carmody's automaton "Guy Friday," Laurence, and went to check out Carmody's Paladin Hill brownstone. There was a secret lab under the stairs (which the key opened). It was guarded by a spider-like automaton that shot lightning out of it's single eye!

There was no way past the spider. Luckily. Boris made a trick shot and disrupted the wall-mounted switch for the broadcast power.  With the spider down, they searched the room and found parts for a gynoid automaton (supporting their theory about Olimpia), the original manuscript of the Machineries of Night manifesto they first found at Atwill's place--and a golden, dendritic thing they took to be the heartstring.

After striking a deal to sell Carmody's revolutionary automata designs to Hazzard and giving him the heartstring for safe-keeping, the group headed uptown to Solace to see if they could meet with the man who defeated the Machineries of Night before: Mingus Rooke.

At his night-club, the Blue Hound, Rooke told them about the machine invasion of Hardluck: The Machineries of Night fell from the sky and used the people and things there as raw material to build more of itself.  It might have overrun the whole world, if Rooke hadn't blown the horn of the angel Gabriel and stopped it.

When pressed, he told them he knows where another angelic horn is: an apartment building right there in Solace! An apartment building in the grip of something evil...  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: Stalkers of Shinnar

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...

"Stalkers of Shinnar"
Warlord #105 (May 1986)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Art by Ron Randall

Synopsis: Morgan’s quest to find the sorcery that can save Jennifer continues. He’s also still pondering the possible link between the alchemist he encountered with a penchant for changing women into were-cats and Shakira. (He’s not going to keep pondering this forever, trust me.) He snaps out of contemplation when Shakira returns and tells him there’s a warrior nearby being pursued by burly lizard men on weird mounts.

Morgan and Shakira charge in on the side of the human. His name is J’Huranda, and he’s not too shabby warrior in his own right. He saves Shakira when one of the lizards has a lasso around her neck. 

Soon, only two lizards are left and they're running away. J’Huranda is insistent they go after them and finish them off. The three give chase.  

Along the way, J’Huranda doesn't waste the opportunity to flirt with Shakira.  Morgan tries to keep the two focused on the task at hand.

At a fork in the road, they find a guy who was almost run down by the lizards.  He points out the way they went. After the three ride off, he heads down to a nearby stream where he happens to find a wounded man that is a double for J’Huranada.  Before dying, the warrior says: “He turned on me…took my—my…”

Meanwhile, a disguised Machiste and Mariah are at sea, still trying to get back to Kiro. In a heavy wind, the ship runs into some rocks and sinks. Our heroes have to climb aboard a piece of wreakage Titanic-style.

Then, when it seems things can’t get worse:

In Kiro, the usurper N’Dosma, believing Machiste dead, has assumed the throne.  He has a fake decree from Machiste blessing the whole thing. The people of Kiro aren’t all buying it, though.  N’Dosma’s go a bad reputation.

Back on the trail of the lizards, J’Huranda and Shakira are getting friendlier. Morgan is worried they don’t know much about this guy; Shakira accuses him of being jealous.

Coming into a canyon, the tracks suggest to Morgan the lizards have probably set up an ambush. The three decide to do a little ambushing of their own. They come up from behind where the lizards lie in wait.
J’Huranda swiftly kills one, but the other surrenders and tries to get Morgan to listen to him.  He keeps calling him “earthman.” Before he can tell Morgan more, J’Huranda throws a dagger in his back.

Morgan begins to confront the warrior, but J’Huranda doubles over with the pain he’s intermittently been having and goes to find Shakira to get some of those herbs she has.  Morgan is distracted by a weak cry from the dying lizard.

Shakira runs to the side of the staggering J’Huranda—who suddenly turns her!

The lizard is dead. Shakira comes up behind Morgan and says that it’s for the best. She says J’Huranda rode off now that the threat was done. Morgan isn’t fooled he puts his blade to her throat:

The creature attacks Morgan and starts to take his form. The two struggle, but Morgan puts two bullets in him. The thing starts to turn into a formless dough.  Shakira runs up and Morgan fills her in on what happened. The melichor was an alien creature that feed off the life energy of other creatures to length it’s life. The lizards were Stalkers from Shinnar—a task force sent to stop it.
The two ride away, glad the ordeal is over.  As they go, the a portion of the dough takes the form of a nearby caterpillar and kills the original…

Things to Notice:
  • We get a couple of Skartarian names infested with that bane of fantasy nomeclature: the apostrophe.
  • Shakira continues to wear a loincloth (like she did last issue) instead of her traditional fur bikini. Her sword seems to mysteriously appear and disappear.
Where it Comes From:
Good guy being less attractive than the bad guy is an old trope in science fiction--as is the shapechanging alien, of course.  Melichor and Shinnar are both surnames.

N'Dosma, the usurper in Kiro, may owe his name to "Sodosma" from the Clark Ashton Smith story "Empire of the Necromancers."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cold Hands, Cold Heart

Rarely and for reasons unknown, a polar explorer or scientist working in refrigeration is exposed to the perfect cold of para-elemental ice and does not die. Instead, such an individual is infused with elemental essence and transformed into a Cold Man.

Though Cold Men radiate cold from within, they begin to weaken in above freezing temperatures. To survive for long in warmer climes, they require insulated clothing. Their transformation alters their appearance: Their skin becomes blue-tinged like ice and their hair turns white.  Personality changes occur, too; they become sociopaths--and often murderous ones with contempt for “warm-blooded" humanity.

Cold Men can damage living things with the intense cold of their touch.  The most dangerous ones are scientists who use their newly enhanced insights into cold to develop rods or guns through which they can focus and concentrate their cold into a deadly, freezing blast.

Cold Man
HD: 4  AC: 5  Attack: 1d6 (cold touch, or by weapon)  Special: Ice blast weapon (3d6, save for half dmg.), immunity from cold, double damage from fire.

WaRP stats:
Attack: 3 dice  Defense: 3 dice  Traits: Cold-based (immune to cold, radiates cold, susceptible to fire/heat) 4 dice; ice blast weapon (5 dice, 3 shots)  Flaw: requires insulated clothing or begins to weaken (add cumulative penalty die).

Friday, October 12, 2012


Our Weird Adventures game got postponed another week.  So memories don't get dim during the hiatus, I thought I'd review where things stand with the major NPCs in this tale:

William Carmody: A brilliant scientist working on automata.  He was in possession of an alien artifact that appears to have been related to the Machineries of Night.  He's now a brain in a jar with a bad memory and a automaton caretaker.

Olimpia Kapec: Carmody's missing fiancee and lab assistant.  Maybe Carmody's would-be murderer's nabbed her?  So why can no trace of her be found except for a few photos?

Hew Hazzard: Aviation industrialist.  He helped our heroes fight off attacking automata. They could use an ally like.  Still, how far can they trust him?

Silas Atwill: Hazzard's chief of Automata Research--and secretly an acolyte of the cloaked and black armor wearing Master of the machine uprising. The Master disintegrated him rather than let him be captured.  He had a copy of a strange manifesto referencing the Machineries of Night in in his home.

Eisenmensch: Men made more (and perhaps less) than human in the service of their fatherland.  Some of these disgruntled cyborg veterans seem to have been recruited into the Master's cause: transforming all of humanity into machines.

Machineries of Night: Is this the black mass of tiny cogs and wheels beneath Greasy Lake?  The presence that seems to make the psychic Loone a bit queasy.  When the Machineries first invaded it took blowing Gabriel's heavenly horn to defeat them.  Is all they need the complete dodecahedron to live again?

The Master: Thin, with a hidden face and distorted voice. dark heart of the mystery...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Whispers in the Dark

Old houses and buildings sometimes become havens for the strange creatures called babblers.  People seldom get a good look at babblers: they're skilled at staying hidden, owing to their ability to contort and flatten their bodies and their chameleon-like power to blend into their surroundings.  What fragmentary descriptions exist suggest they are approximately three to three and a half feet tall and look like a scrawny cross between man, gecko, and frog. They have large, milky yellow eyes and many have strange ruins cut into their skins.

Babblers crawl up from--somewhere--to invade the crawlspaces or basements of buildings. They lurk in vents or even under beds.  From hidden places, the babblers whisper to their human victims.  Their utterances are jibberish--and that gives them their name.

Babblers tones seem to wheedling at first, then plaintive.  When this fails to achieve...whatever it is their after, They may attack in anger.  The cycle may take several nocturnal visitations over as much as a week.

Those that encounter babblers often develop a peculiar aphasia "the Jabber." How the jabber is transmitted is unclear. It may be through the babbler’s bite--certainly most who develop it are bitten--but it has been suggested that only close proximity to a babbler is necessary.  The mechanism is likewise unclear.

Those exposed get a saving throw. Failure means development of an aphasia within 2d6 hours based on the following table:

1-3: anomia - character is unable to remember names either of people or objects (except in general terms).
4-5: fluent aphasia - character is able to speak in a normal manner except that they use the wrong words, and perhaps even nonexistent words.
6-7: receptive aphasia - as above, except the character is also unable to make sense of the speech of others.
8-9: expressive aphasia - character has difficulty producing fluent speech. Words are pronounced with difficulty, in a halting manner, or with odd intonation.
10: global aphasia - The character is either unable to produce speech, repeats single words (perhaps in echo-like manner) or either occasionally shouts a single expletive.

Cure disease or the like will remove the illness, but otherwise it is permanent. in most cases (75% of the time) ability to read and write is preserved.

Babbler: #App.: 1-4, HD: 1, AC 6, Atk: 1 bite or claw (1d4), Special: stick to walls, chameleon skill, transmits "the jabber."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: Dragon Skinner

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...

"Dragon Skinner"
Warlord #104 (April 1986)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Art by Ron Randall

Synopsis: Having reunited with Shakira, Morgan fills her (and the new reader) in on the aging curse that is afflicting his daughter Jennifer and on his quest to find the wizard that he hopes can save her.  Hearing a ruckus, the two go to investigate and find a bunch of guys shooting an orange allosaurus with a ballista.

It seems there’s a market for “dragon” skins as there’s “nothin’ them Kambuka scribes like better than to sheathe their scrolls in supple young dragon skins.”  Sounds vaguely naughty, doesn't it?  Well, Shakira doesn't like it:

One of them runs at her with an axe, but we don’t get to see her swordswomanship as Morgan intervenes with his pistol. After Morgan declines to sell his gun to the leader of the skinners, they slink off with the kills they have.

Morgan’s worried the baby allosaurs will die without their mother, but Shakira clues him on carnosaur parental practices and suggests the father will be a long soon to take care of them.

Meanwhile in Bakwele, Mariah and Machiste (disguised in priestly cloaks) book passage on a ship. The shipmaster, however, catches sight of Machiste’s unpriest-like mace-hand.

Elsewhere, Shakira is taking a dip in a pond while Morgan watches and wonders at why she didn’t say anything about him removing her collar (which she just picked up and put back on).

Morgan’s not the only one watching. The skinners are hiding near by. They think they can get a “king’s ransom in the slave marts of Kalibas” for Shakira.  The skinners get the jump on our heroes and take Morgan’s gun.  They force Shakira to change into cat-form and put her in a little cage.  Then, they shoot Morgan in the head! It looks like a glancing shot, but Morgan is out.  They steal his sword, too and leave him for dead.

Meanwhile, in a mansion in Kiro, the conspirators receive grisly “proof” that Machiste and Mariah are dead: two partially decomposed cadavers pulled from the river.  The ferryman who brought them in receives a bag of coin for his trouble.  As he assures the conspirators he’ll never show his face in Kiro again,the two men nod and smile, knowingly.

Later, the man is celebrating his hoax he pulled off on the two.  He opens the bag to get coin for a prostitute--and instead gets a viper biting him on the neck!

Morgan awakens bereft of weapons.  He pulls the ballista missile from the allosaur carcass, figuring that’s better than nothing.  At that moment, the male in the breeding pair shows up.  Morgan rides away quickly while the beast’s attentions are on his offspring.  Unfortunately, he doesn't get far down the trail before the carnosaur catches up to him.

Morgan’s chased to the edge of the cliff with only the missile to defend himself. The cliff gives way beneath them and man and dinosaur fall--but Morgan’s able to catch a hanging branch. The dinosaur lives, but it will take him awhile to climb out.

In the camp of the skinners, two of the gang decide to steal Morgan’s gun from the sleeping leader. The leader is not as asleep as he seems. He blows the two away. Morgan hears the sound and rides up on them. He punches the guy out and takes the gun. The leader tries to save his miserable life by buying Morgan off with the allosaurus tooth he wears around his neck. Then, he hears a roar behind him.  

The daddy allosaur is here! Morgan turns to shoot it:


The dinosaur charges--right past Morgan. It snatches up the leader of the skinners in its jaws. Morgan frees Shakira from the cage. He’s worried the allosaurus will charge them next, but the beast doesn’t.  He just stands and watches the two humans leave. Shakira hypothesizes that the dinosaur understands they never meant him or his mate any harm.  Morgan is skeptical...

Things to Notice:
  • Again we see dinosaurs in the most prevalent Skartarian shade: orange.
  • Since when does Shakira wear or use a sword?
  • Apparently prostitutes in Kiro wear almost 19th century style undergarments.
Where it Comes From:
The dragon skinners in this episode are clearly meant to evoke the buffalo hunters of the American Old West.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Typhoid Mary

“Typhoid Mary” is one of the names given to women (typically young, and in unassuming professions) who become avatars for ancient and dread eikones, spirits of plague and contagion. These spirits are too old to have a voice of their own, and only the most deranged and saddest of cultists ever engage in their worship, but through a Typhoid Mary they still can let their presence be know.

Typically an avatar-to-be contracts some sort of dire infectious disease herself but for reasons unknown doesn't die.  The plague spirits transform her to a carrier instead. The illness that created her is not the only one a Typhoid Mary may spread; Through her life she may acquire more infections over time.

At the start, most Typhoid Marys are victims, as well.  Over time, the ancient whispers of the plague spirits and the horror of their existence takes its toll on their minds. They often become either willing accomplices or insane in their denial of truth of their existence.

Typhoid Marys are typically normal women other their ability to cause contagion (as per the spell with save at -2, except that a Mary need not touch someone to spread the contagion. If she wishes it, close proximity for a short time is enough.) and perhaps unusually hard to kill. An avatar who has fully embraced her role might exhibit healing, resistances, and immunities similar to a vampire.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

In the Loop

I caught Looper this weekend. It’s a time travel flick from Rian Johnson.  It reminds me the most of things like 12 Monkeys (and by extension  La jetée). While it’s not as interesting or innovative as Johnson’s high school hardboiled detective story, Brick, Looper has it’s own unique angle with its evocation of the dystopian future where criminals use time travel just for hits.

Closer to home, in a nearby but shadowy corner of the blogosphere, Jack Shear has released the second volume of Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque (which he subtitles Expert Grotesques and Dungeonesques). Like the first, this volume compiles some excellent posts from Jack’s blog and some new material. He has some neat stuff from his own setting The Worlds Between and also some tools to help evoke the gothic touch in any setting.  Check out the pdf for free and get your hardcopy on Lulu.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Monster Party!

As Halloween approaches, I'm thinking about again doing some monster meditations posts.  Since it has been a year since I did one of those, I thought they might be worth revisiting the past installments:

In 2010:
Famous Monsters: Frankenstein: A monster named Adam in all his glory.
Famous Monsters: The Mummy: An ancient monster gets unwrapped.
Gill -Man vs. the Wolf-Man: The more bestial Universal monsters go toe to toe.

In 2011, I just did one:

Two-Fisted Monsters: takes a look at pulpy portrayals, lighter on the horror.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Battle in the Skies!

In last night's thrilling installment of our WaRP Weird Adventures campaign, Boris, Diabolico, and Cornelius Doyle engaged the enemy more directly than they had before.  When setting the surface of Greasy Lake ablaze (with a flare gun!) failed to scare up anything, the gang went to meet with Hew Hazzard at Zephyrus Aerocraft to tell him one of his engineers was working with a dangerous group involved with the so-called Machineries of Night.

Hazzard had heard of those.  It seems a group of adventures had fought them years ago to save Hardluck from being subsumed into the Machine.  He was shocked to find out his trusted employee Silas Atwill might be working with them (or it?). 

They went to confront Atwill and found him trying to make an escape out the window. One of the flying automata seemed to be coming to get him. The cloaked and masked being he called "the Master" was with it!  When the gang stopped Atwill's escape, the Master just disintegrated him with a a blast from a weird rod.

The automata and the Master flew off. Hazzard and the gang gave chase in an experimental autogyro-bladed airship.  What followed was a pitch battle with two other automata in midair.  Bullets were flying and the automata were trying to destroy the rotors and bring the craft down.

Ultimately, the gang destroyed both automata (with a lot of shots fired) and Hazzard was able to land the damaged craft safely. 

The mysterious Master, however, got away.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Warlord Wednesday

Computer issues have delayed my review of Warlord #104.  How's the issue's splash page as a teaser, though:

Also, for the rpg interested among you (which I assume is most of you), take a peep at these Warlord stats in the old Marvel Superheroes FASERIP system. For another view, this site has his stats in Mayfair's DC Heroes system.

Back next week!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Night Nurse

In the City, the wail of an approaching ambulance may not be good news if you’re a badly wounded adventurer. Could be the ambulance is coming to rush you into the hands of the Night Nurses, and very soon, their not so tender ministrations will bear you from this world.

They have other names: the Sisters Without Mercy, the Ladies of the Morgue. Whatever they're called, the Night Nurses are thought to be ancient death goddesses, something like the valkyries from the old sagas of the Northmen. These eikones have adapted to the modern world. They look like pretty, young nurses--except they're pale as a “Jane Doe” at the City morgue, with uniforms bloodied and soiled like they just got off a bad shift in battlefield surgery.  They arrive out of the night (always the night) and the take away the dying.  Those they whisk away turn up later in some hospital morgue and nobody knows how they got their.  The bodies are always worse off than when they disappeared.  They looked like they've been picked over by carrion birds.

No one knows how they choose who they take. They only come for those dying as a result of violence, and they have a predilection for larger-than-life types: no working-stiffs shivved in a bar fight, or battering husbands brained with a leg of lamb.  How they decide who to come for out of several that fit the bill dying at the same time, no one knows.

Night Nurse
#App.:2-8 AC:0 HD: 8 Attacks; 2 (hands/fingernails/teeth 1-8) Special Abilities: travel etherically and astrally, only fully materializing when they are ready to take a body; not truly living, so possessing of inherent invulnerabilities)  

And for WaRP:
Attack: 3 dice, 2x damge; Defense: 4 dice. HP: 35 Traits: Eikone (4 dice) --more an idea wearing flesh than a physical being. Can travel incorporeally (uncanny appearance); Taker of Souls (4 dice) -- Drawn to the near dead, can draw the spirit of a person from their body 1/day (accompanied by the chill of death).