Monday, September 30, 2013


No. Enc.:  1d6
Movement:  Fly 360' (120')
Armor Class:  7
Hit Dice:  3
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d6 (talons)
Save:  L3
Morale:  7

Despite fanciful presentations of them as winged women (at least having the upper bodies of women) harpies are actually large birds of prey (wing spans as big as 10 ft and weighing 30 lbs.) with beakless faces uncannily similar to a woman's. Though not hideous in form, their faces are unnerving, somehow both soulless and over-expressive. Their mouths are filled with sharp teeth.

Harpies were either engineered by the Olympians or brought from some distant world. They use them to punish humans that have offended them in some way, though some have escaped into the wild. Though they all appear female, nothing is known of their actual sexes or whether they have any ability to reproduce.

They are very intelligent for animals, but no more than that. They can make mimic human speech in voices like old women, but are only able to repeat things they've heard.

Swoop attacks cause double damage if the target is surprised. The filth of their nests is such that their talons are terrible purveyors of infection. Anyone damaged by a harpies talons must make a saving throw versus poison. A failure means they take 1-2 points of damage a day for a duration of 1 week.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

City Automobile Enthusiast

The automobile is an important part of the world of Weird Adventures, though no specific automobile makes are mentioned in the book. Some of these after appeared in play; after all, adventurers like to get around town in style.

A modest new sedan (like a standard model from the Cord Motor Company) can be purchased for around $500-600. Fancier automobiles or sporty models will cost more--sometimes, much more. Here are a couple of high end examples that have appeared in my games:

5883 Raser "Dual Six" Fitzroy Sports Saloon
Engine: V12, 150 bhp
Top Speed: 100 mph
This is a luxury automobile; less than 60 exist and each was built to order at a price of $12,000+. Cornelius Doyle's has a silver elephant head hood ornament.

5885 Auberon 761 Series C Speedster
Engine: super-charged 8-cylinder, 150 bhp
Top Speed: 104 mph
This stylish roadster sales for $2245. Gentleman thief Don Diabolico is the proud owner of one.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mapping Terra Incognita

Not getting all the map posting out of my system with yesterday's post, I figured I would follow it up with another today. This is Pal-ul-don from Tarzan the Terrible, as expanded by Dell Comics' Tarzan's Jungle Annual #1. Pal-ul-don is located in Africa and has carnivorous triceratops, among other things. You could locate it anywhere you wanted, of course, but you probably want to keep the carnivorous triceratops.

West side:

East side:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Points of the Interest in a Lost World

I'm working on map of the lost world I mentioned previously--and enlisting the help of the Metal Earth's cartographer in the final draft. Anyway, here are few of the points of interest I've thought of so far:

Valley of the Ants
Lair of the Swamp Witch
Wreck of the Zephyrus
Mesa of the Sky-Vikings
Brontosaur Burial Grounds
The City of the Golden Man
Forest of the Amazons
The Temple of the Skull
Castle of the Necromancer
Tomb of the Giant Kings

Oh, and here's a map of the Savage Land to tide you over:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: Teen Titans in the Lost World

Here's another installment of my examination of  the adventures DC Comics' Travis Morgan--The Warlord.  The earlier installments can be found here...

"The Lost World of Skartaris (Part 1-3)"
Teen Titans (vol. 2) #9-11 (June-August 1997)
Story and Pencils by Dan Jurgens, Inks by George Perez

Synopsis: Prysm, one of the Teen Titans, is running through a jungle from a tyrannosaur when Travis Morgan comes to her rescue. Against his better judgement, Morgan decides to get involved and asks her who she is and how she got here. She doesn't remember. Morgan lets her accompany him on his search for his daughter.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Titans are flying over the Arctic looking for Prysm. She was critically injured and Argent (a teammate) tried to revive her with her energy powers. Prysm revived alright--then flew off. They tracked her to the North Pole, but they run into a fierce storm. Their plane goes down but instead of crashing, they glimpse dinosaurs and jungle through the clouds.

The Titans walk away from the crash, but they're attacked by a group of warriors. Their powers allow them to hold their own, but they're in danger of being taken down by sheer numbers. Then, the leader of the warriors appears:

Morgan and Prysm have troubles of their own. A gigantic cobra emerges from the ground. It shoots blasts of energy from its mouth, knocking out our heroes. The snake's mistress emerges:

Normally, the Warlord would be quite a trophy for Motalla, but Prysm is worth even more!

The other Titans are taken back to Shamballah by Tara and her troops, though they have to combat a horde of stampeding triceratops on the way. The Titans convince her that they don't know Morgan. She tells Argent about the strange sky city now floating above Skartaris and how their are attacks by giant snakes when it appears.

Morgan, Shakira, and Prysm wake up in some high tech room. Motalla enters and allows them to believe she saved them from the snake. She tells them their are in the floating city of Timmanis. Motalla tempts Prysm with the promise of making her human again--and takes over her body. She drops Morgan and Shakira through a trap door.

The other Titans (in their new Skartarian outfits) fight the strange snakes appearing throughout the city, but the snakes neutralize their powers and they're taken captive. They wake up in a smelly dungeon...

The Titans free Morgan and Shakira--only for all of them to get blasted by Motalla with Prysm's powers. Cody in particular gets blasted out of the city, while somewhere close by, a now-human Prysm daydreams about finally being able to have a relationship with him.

Cody flies through Prysm's ship like a cannonball before crashing into the ground. Luckily, he's able to catch Prysm as she falls:

After he chastizes her for her selfishness, the two run into Tara and Tinder. They suggest the two Titans take a pteranodon ride back to the sky city.

Meanwhile, Motalla is beating Morgan and the Titans pretty soundly. The Atom riding Shakira manages to escape and find Motalla's mysterious power source:

Adding Jennifer to the mix starts to turn the tide for our heroes, but only the timely arrival of Prysm wins the day. Jennifer is able to reverse Motalla's theft, and Prysm is back to her previously self. Motalla ages to a crone for her trouble.

Evil defeated, The Titans prepare to return to Earth through a portal Jennifer creates for them. Prysm (still down on her inhuman form) considers staying in Skartaris, but ultimately decides to stay with her teammates.

Things to Notice:
  • Dan Jurgens returns to the character that launched his professional comics career. 
  • Morgan initially thinks the Teen Titans is the name of a rock band.
  • Skartarian fashion must be really appealing. Every time a superhero winds up there, they adopt it pretty quickly.
Where it comes from: 
This crossover doesn't reference a any old Warlord stories in particular (other than the existence of a sky city), but does get the characters and their relationships right. The pony-tailed guy accompanying Tara is pretty clearly meant to be Tinder, though he is never named in the story.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Caliban Ferox

The Caliban are a humanoid culture found in a torrid, jungle-choked orbital habitat on the border between the Coreward Reach and the Vokun Empire. They're infamous in the popular imagination for their warlike nature and enthusiastic cannibalism.

Appearance and Biology: Interestingly, there is no fauna in the Caliban's habitat larger than a rat of Paleo-Earth that isn't in the same genetic family as the primary Caliban sophonts: there is a group of presophont pack hunters that look like a semi-quadrupedal version of the Caliban, for example. The primary 
Caliban are basically human in bioform, though they exhibit less sexual dimorphism than baseline type. Their faces are heavily wrinkled and shriveled appearance. All the Caliban family lifeforms share this facial appearance. Their skin tones range from a grayish brown to an ashen gray-white. Their teeth are sharpened to points, though this is a modification they make, not their natural form. Their skulls are somewhat small for their body size.

Psychology: It's believed that the extinction of most fauna in the habitat led to the prominence of cannibalism in their culture. In any case, they like to indulge even when other food sources are available. They do not view sapience as a reason not to eat an organism--a trait that lends them a negative reputation among other sophonts. Caliban don't care. They have little empathy for those outside of their kinship group. Those who employ them as mercenaries often insist they take special drugs to induce a pheremonal response mimicking their natural response to genetic relatives. Though this produces more cooperative behavior toward employers and comrades than would be shown otherwise, it will not stop Caliban from consuming their bodies when they die.

No. Appearing:1-6
AC: 7
Hit Dice: 1
Saving Throw: Warrior 1
Attack Bonus: +2
Damage: by weapon
Movement: 30’
Skill Bonus: +1
Morale: 9

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Guns of the Lost World

This painting by Sanjulian packs a lot into one image! It suggests (to me, at least) a cross-genre campaign setting: a lost world like Ka-Zar's Savage Land, Turok's Lost Valley, or Warlord's Skartaris, where dinosaurs still roam and lots of Edgar Rice Burroughs-esque lost cultures are to be found.

Maybe this place is found in a hidden valley in the Sierra Madres, or maybe its an underground world accessible from the Superstition Mountains (where Apaches say (supposedly) that there is an entrance to the underworld) or the Grand Canyon (we've already had reports of strange artifacts). Where ever it is, here's what I think the picture suggests you'll find:

Dinosaurs: From all shorts of eras, cheek and jowl with prehistoric mammals and humans.

Conquistadors: Several groups of Spanish explorers found their way into the lost world. Some are undead thralls, toiling in the castle of an alchemist. Others are immortals zealously guarding a fountain of youth that just might be an alien artifact.

Primitive tribes: Descendants of Native Americans, a Lost Tribe of Israel, Phoenicians, Vikings, and maybe even ancient Romans. Most have reverted to paleolithic levels and are at the mercy of the monsters in their world. A few do interesting things like tame pteranodons for mounts or sacrifice captives in the name of some cargo cult.

Giants: Remains of giants used to be found in tombs all over the U.S. These primitives (Nephilim descendants, probably) are mostly more belligerent that the regular sized primitives, and the one in the picture at least has a sword. They may often be solitary and have unusual powers like the ability to call lightning or command a pack of wolves (or hyenadons).

Humanoids: Some of the human tribes degenerated so much they because something other than human. Maybe its simple degeneration, or maybe is exposure to weird radiations from a long-buried alien spaceship, or maybe it's worshiping dark gods? Or maybe all three? Whichever, they're almost universally hostile and creepy. Some of them are probably Dero.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Apocalypse Unbound

"Kitchen sink" role-playing settings like Rifts and Synnibar are well known for their anything goes approach. While comic books have never got as freewheeling as those settings (well, their respect universes taken as whole are, probably), they managed to create some high concept post-apocalypse settings based on some really interesting mashups. What they lack an "anything goes" they make up for in greater coherence.

The world of Killraven first appeared in Amazing Adventures vol. 2 #18 (May 1973). It posited an apocalyptic future of mutants and sword-wielding heroes in thigh-high boots that resulted from a second Martian invasion after War of the Worlds.

1975s Hercules Unbound #1 reaches even further back for his literary antecedents to Greek mythology. Shortly after world devastating nuclear war, the demigod Hercules breaks free from where Ares had imprisoned him and resumes his fight against the evil god of war. Mutant humanoid animals are among the challenges he faces, and these explicitly establish the world of Hercules Unbound as the same animal-dominated future as Jack Kirby's Kamandi. Later, it was also linked to the world of the Atomic Knights--which turned out to be a dream, so we'll ignore that.

Planet of Vampires (also in 1975) borrowed from Planet of the Apes in having astronauts return to a future earth gone mad, but instead of being overrun by animals like in Kamandi, it was dominated vampires like in Omega Man. Of course, forgo the astronauts and goth it up a bit, and you've got Vampire Hunter D.

Check out any (or all) of these for some fresh post-apocalyptic gaming inspiration.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


No. Enc.:  1
Movement:  90' (30')
Armor Class:  4
Hit Dice:  5
Attacks:  1 (weapon)
Damage:  by weapon (+3 for strength)
Save:  L5
Morale: 10

Argus was a pious herder, devoted to Hera, who agreed to be transformed by Olympian science into something more than human. Given the epithet Panoptes ("All-Seeing"), he killed monsters in Hera's name and attempted to protect her servitor Io from the wiles of Zeus.

Argus is over 8 feet tall and more massive than a normal human. The top part of his skull and his eyes are covered by a helm, which is actually a biomechanical lifeform bonded to his nervous system. It is able to manifest various forms of impromptu sensors, routed into Argus's enhanced visual cortex. A swarm of some ten flying spheres, somewhat larger than a walnut, are linked to the lifeform and also controlled by Argus.

Argus's visual enhancements give him 360 degree vision and mean he is never surprised (unless his visual system is somehow rendered dysfunctional). He is able to utilize any vision related mutation including: increased vision, night vision, ultraviolet vision, and thermal vision, though he can only manifest one of this powers per round.

Art by Francesco Biagini

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: Endangered Species

Here's another installment of my examination of  the adventures DC Comics' Travis Morgan--The Warlord.  The earlier installments can be found here...

"Dragon Country" / "Empty Quest" / "Menu for Disaster"
Green Arrow (vol. 2) #118-120 (March 1997-May 1997)
Written by Chuck Dixon; Pencils by Dougie Braithwaite, Inks by Robert Companella

Synopsis: Connor Hawke, the then-current Green Arrow, receives a black and white photo that looks like his Oliver Queen, his father and the original Green Arrow, in the jungle. His friend (an ex-government agent of some sort) Eddie recognizes the mountain in the background as in the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia. The two head out to see if Oliver Queen is still alive.

The two get help from some of Eddie's old criminal contacts and wind up parachuting out over the jungle in the Shan State. Connor saves a girl from what appears to be a velociraptor but gets captured by the a Kuomintang-descendant Generalissmo.

The Kuomintang take him to where they've got another "dragon-slayer" captive; a man who looks a lot like Oliver Queen. Connor stages an escape attempt. It fails, but Eddie and some allies show up just in time and turn opium-addicted velociraptors on the Kuomintang through the use of torches impregnated with opium.

Freeing the other captive, they discover his true identity:

They take Morgan to a hotel to recover. He tells them about falling through some weird portal in Skartaris after chasing a pack of raptors than stole his meal. He plans to head back to Skartaris as soon as he's fully recovered. Connor and Eddie leave him, and get into further conflict with nefarious types after an American woman they erroneously believe to be a CIA agent. A Green Arrow's work is never done!

Things to Notice:
  • In the flashback sequences, Morgan is wearing the armor he wore in the Warlord mini-series.
This barely qualifies as a Warlord appearance. He really doesn't have much to do in the story. Still, it does reference the events of the previous crossover with Green Arrow, back when Oliver Queen was alive.

In the story, Eddie refers to "smack-fields." "Smack" is a slang term for heroin, but there aren't any heroin fields; it's a synthetic product made from opium. The fields are, of course, the opium poppy (papaver somniferum).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Return of the Avatar

After a wait of over a year, The Legend of Korra returned last week for it's second season. If your not familiar with Korra or the Avatar franchise, take a look here.

Like the first season, it seems societal change will pay a part in the action as it unfolds. This time, the conflict may be between tradition and modernity, though as has been true of both Avatar series so far, family dynamics seem to play a big part. The story is set outside of Republic City this time (the first two episodes feature the territory of the Southern Water Tribe and the Southern Air Temple); Hopefully will get a bit of a "world tour" like in the original Avatar. Unlike the first season where Korra's foes were strictly human, malign spirits get in the game this time around--presenting a threat Korra seems ill-prepared to handle.

The animation and writing is just as good as it ever was. While it's hard to tell from just two episodes, it seems this season may not require extensive knowledge of the first to follow, other than knowing the characters and the basics of setting--something easily gotten from the internet (Though the first season is available on Amazon Instant video.)

Check it out. The first two episodes are online at Nickolodeon and new episodes air on Fridays.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Wisdom and War

Fights As: L18
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 2 (in armor), 1 (+shield)
Hit Points: 225
Attacks: 1
Damage: by weapon
Save: L18

S: 24      I: 23       W: 23    D: 22      C: 25      CH: 23
Special Abilities: standard Olympian and see below

Athena is the bio-engineered “daughter” of Zeus. He created her with the aid of the artificial intelligence, Metis, as his ideal heir—though he shows no signs of being ready to abdicate, as yet. She provides him with wise counsel and supports arts necessary for civilization among humans, including various crafts and warfare. Her roll makes her a rival of several other Olympians, but so far none have been able to best her.  Unlike most of her people, Athena does not take human lovers. She is generally positively disposed toward humans, but prideful and unwilling to tolerate an insult.

Athena usually appears as a beautiful woman dressed in armor (an has fully encased, environmentally sealed variants for use when necessary).  She habitually carries a short sword (a quantum-edged blade, +5 to hit/1d6+5 dmg) When actually going to war, she wields an energized spear (+2 to hit/5d6 dmg) and carries a shield that can emit a swirling flash of colored light, causing seizures in any of baseline human neurostructure who view it (save vs. Stun Attack at a -1 penalty, lasts 1d4 rounds).

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Muvian-American War (1898-1903)

In the wake of the Spanish-American War, the U.S. went to war with at least two of Spain's former colonial holdings. The most protracted was on the islands of Mu. There, American troops faced a foe they were totally unprepared for.

Though Mu appeared to a peaceful colony of Spain, in reality the power of it's Priest-Kings was only held in check by certain ancient ceramic seals in possession of the Spanish. When the American inadvertently broke these, the  Priest-Kings were free to unleash their power and reveal their true, inhuman nature. Not only were these reptilian humanoids adepts at amazing powers of the mind, the heirs to ancient Agharta, but they were also in possession of machinery older than all of human civilization that could create monsters.

Of course, Mu hadn't had to wage a war since men were armed with bronze. The U.S. forces were able to hold on, if barely. It was only when the first of the clandestine draftees from the ranks of mentalists, spiritualists, and Theosophists arrived that the Americans began to turn the tide.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: Justice League

Here's another installment of my examination of  the adventures DC Comics' Travis Morgan--The Warlord.  The earlier installments can be found here...

"Doomed" / "Sword of the USAF" / "Godwar!"
Justice League Task Force #34-36 (May-July 1993)
Written by Priest; Pencils by Ramon Bernado, Inks by Anibal Rodriguez

Synopsis: Returning from an adventure in space, the stolen shuttle carrying the Justice League Task Force (like the Justice League but 90s EXTREME!) crashes in Skartaris. They accidentally disrupt the attack of a group soldiers working for a wizard named Eballum. The soldiers need to collect talismans for the wizard to save their people from the hordes of Devvar.

The Justice League just need a way back to Earth since their shuttle exploded. Martian Manhunter figures a new arrival can help them with that:

The next issue begins with most of the League helping Morgan defend the village from raiders. They don't agree with Morgan's bloody tactics, but tells them things are different in Skartaris and they wouldn't be having to do this if they hadn't killed the barbarian leading the search for the talismans with their shuttle. Morgan also settles up with the Ray, for trying to keep him from killing a guy:

The Ray flies off to find this guy Quantum who is the leader of the bad guys his own way. Meanwhile, the Manhunter acquires the "Eye of the USAF." It turns out there's an ancient technology cache beneath the village that Quantum wants to get his hand on, and the "Sword of the USAF" Eballum plans to use to save the village is actually an ICBM that fell into Skartaris.

Eballum fires the missile and Ray (tricked and then possessed by the evil sorceror) attacks leading Quantum's hordes!

While the rest of the our heroes are in battle Triumph flies after the missile to try and stop it. He doesn't seem to be able to, until Martian Manhunter clues him in about Skartaris's sun being just a "ball of flame" held in places by strong magnetic forces. Triumph is able to fly closer and harness those magnetic forces to bolster his powers. The MIRV releases it's warheads. Triumph stops all but one!

Manhunter manages to use his telepath to force Quantum to change back into matter from Ray's light-form. Morgan comes in swinging a sword at Ray's throat scaring Quantum into fleeing back to his on body. It was a ruse, though, and the sword just touches lightly on a bewildered Ray's neck.

The one warhead doesn't explode. It turns out their were all dummies. Eballum, however, loaded them with "tainted fertilizer" which only serves to make Quantum and a few dinosaurs really nauseated.

Morgan takes them to the underground sub-shuttle station.The Justice League bids the Warlord good-bye and heads back to the surface.

Things to Notice:
  • Morgan recognizes Martian Manhunter. Perhaps from their participation in Crisis?
  • This is the only Warlord-containing comic with a blatant reference to a Janet Jackson song.
Where it Comes From: 
Priest seems to have read some old issues of Warlord--or at least done his research before writing the story. He has Martian Manhunter and Morgan discuss Grell's hollow earth explanation versus the later "alternate dimension" retcon. He utilizes the sub-shuttle to Peru to get the Justice League home that first showed up in issue #5.

Unfortunately, the artists don't seem to have seen any of them. Morgan wears much more elaborate armor than he ever wore in the series. The Atlantean sub-shuttle looks more like an urban subway train, complete with graffiti.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Gates of Shamballa

In list nights WaRP Weird Adventures game, the gang made it through to the gates of Charles Ranulf Urst's estate--wherein a treasure supposedly lies. The snow globe, they discovered, made the otherwise unopenable front gate open. The swirl of the "snow" inside seemed to point toward the main house.

First, they decided to check out another closer structure, though. It was a pool house, like some sort of ancient Imperial bath. It was tiled from head to floor and arrayed with six marble statues of ancient gods and goddesses. The group looks around the place and doesn't find anything dangerous, which really only serves to heighten their anxiety.

On the way out, Jacques notices one of the statutes seems to have moved slightly. They quickly leave, but once safely outside they begin to wonder if they should investigate further. LaRue, their resident medium, tries to consult the spirits and detects a single, powerful presence, but it's not specific.

After some debate, they decide to go back in to mess with the statues. As Rob is moving one (to see if there's something underneath), the ever observant Professor Po notices another change the direction it's looking!

For a short adventure, this one seems to have got the players' interest. How a little bit of preternatural detail gets the player's animated. Is fear or curiosity the primary reaction? Sometimes, it's both.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Good Map

Yesterday on Google+, Cole expressed his appreciation for a good map. I certainly understand their appeal: A good map really seems to conjure a sense of place, making the fantastic a bit more tangible. Here are some from fantasy literature. Maybe you can find some inspiration in them.

Pellucidar is Edgar Rice Burroughs's land within the hollow earth. Here's another map of the same setting:

Poictesme is a mythical French province, appearing in a series of novels by James Branch Cabell:

Lemuria is the stomping grounds of Thongor, Lin Carter's barbarian hero of the forgotten prehistoric past:

Friday, September 6, 2013

Stop for Refueling

I'm too tired to write a full post today, so that means you guys get a chance to catch up on any Strange Stars posts you might miss because I have updated the archive.

Check it out if you're curious as to who the Wizards of Rune are, what the bomoth might be smoking, why even the ssraad might fear the xann hunters, or just how do all these species communicate, anyway?

It's all there.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lifestyles of the Rich and Interstellar

Pictured above are two attendants to the Starlight Fantastique's diamond (naturally) anniversary gala in the Fortuna system. Lamorak Uldra, Smaragdine synthasthete (his "Nostalgia for A Love Affair Whose Ending Neither Really Wanted version 2.5" was downloaded over 12 million times legally) and notorious recluse kept his face hidden in simulated shadow but actually showed up in the real rather than sending a simulation. He was dressed in a phoenix fur cape, an iridescent, ultra-fine "scale mail" over spider silk tunic (Arachne, 1800 cred), and an individually sculpted Smaragdine psi-net interface.

Uldra was escorted by his hyehoon bodyguard, Rukh Ysola Ahawi. Rukh was dressed in a vintage nano-tubule strengthened, liquid leather jumpsuit (Kokrum, 2500 cred) able to go from the club to the combat zone--and look stylish in both places. She accessorized her outfit with a chrome-finish particle pistol (Nova Heat, please inquire for price).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: Ballad Part 6

Here's another installment of my examination of  the adventures DC Comics' Travis Morgan--The Warlord.  The earlier installments can be found here...

"Ballad Part VI"
Warlord (vol. 2) #6 (June 1992)
Written by Mike Grell; Art by Dameon Willich and Tim Burgard

Synopsis: The army of Shamballah, led by the Warlord, is at the walls of Thera. They’re soon taking heavy casualties from Deimos’s undead hordes—and every time one of the Shamballans falls, they rise to fight for the other side!

Deimos, in his statue form, strides forth into battle. He unhorses Petrus and grabs him. Morgan shoots Deimos, but the bullet ricochets off. He can only watch in horror as:

The old veteran is dead.

Realizing there’s no way they can win, Tara orders a retreat. In their camp they notice that the land around them is dying as Deimos’s power rises. A column of troops arriving at the camp raises their spirits a bit: It’s the combined armies of Kiro and Kaambuka, led by Machiste, Mariah, and Ashir.

Morgan greets his old friends warmly, but tells them there’s nothing they can do. His army of thousands was winnowed down to a handful. Everyone expects him to do something, but he doesn’t want to lead more people to pointless deaths. Morgan leaves the tent, but Tinder follows him. “You can’t turn these people away,” the minstrel says. “They came for you.”

Morgan walks off alone. As he stands brooding, Jennifer appears. She tells him there is a way to defeat Deimos, but he has to be willing to sacrifice himself. For a daughter, she speaks a bit unkindly, telling him “it ought to be an easy choice” and since he’s never been one for hearth and home “surely it will be no loss.” Morgan says he’ll do whatever must be done.

Later, when he tells the others, Mariah and Tara protest, but he convinces them it’s the only way. Tinder is sent as a messenger to Deimos, who agrees to meet Morgan at the appointed place.

Morgan and his troops arrive at the place beside a lake looking defeated. When Morgan presents himself, Deimos gloats that the weakness of mortals—their fear of death—makes them eager to surrender Morgan, even as before they had been eager to follow him.

Morgan dives into the lake. Enraged, Deimos orders his troops to slaughter Morgan’s friends, but before they can act:

The battle is rejoined, but this time the outcome is different. Morgan buries the hellfire blade in Deimos’s chest:

Deimos’s troops quickly decay to dust. Our heroes are victorious.

Sometime later, Tinder is playing his lute in a garden, when Queen Tara approaches. Tinder says he came looking for Warlord the legend and found the man—but now with the nations united under one banner, everything Morgan spoke of can become a reality. The promise of the legend can be fulfilled.

“I think not, “ Tara replies. “He has already left.”

Tinder smashes his lute in disappointment.

Things to Notice:
  • All the characters are wearing more armor than they used to wear.
  • Ashir returns to the Warlord saga for the first time in about 7 years (issue #96).
Where It Comes From:
And so the limited series ends the way everyone but Tinder seems to know it would with Morgan running out on responsibility once again.

The use of the hellfire sword here suggests again that Grell may be ignoring events in the original title after he left, but as before it's inconclusive. Worried about the effect that wielding the hellfire sword was having on him, Morgan tossed it into a lake(apparently the lake in this issue) back in issue #43. That was the last we saw of it until the Cary Burkett penned Warlord Annual #4. There, Morgan is forced to reclaim it from the Lady of Lake in order to use it against the Evil One.

Jennifer is last seen with the sword at the end of that story so we don't know what became of it. Perhaps, she tossed it back into the lake at some point? If so, Morgan had a lot easier time regaining the sword this time around than he did when he was forced to fight the King of the Undead in annual #4.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day Labors

Labor Day is a good time to take a look at the Labors of Hercules (the link their will refresh you on the background) through a science fantasy Gods, Demi-gods & Strangeness lens:

1: In the first labor, Hercules killed the Nemean lion. Given the Olympians penchant for genetically reviving extinct species, this was probably a cave lion of some sort. Perhaps a specimen of Panthera leo fossilis as big as Panthera leo atrox, the America cave lion: something like 8 ft. long and 4 ft. tall at the shoulder. The being invulnerable thing is probably just fanciful exaggeration--or is it?

2: Next, Hercules and Iolaus took on the Lemaean Hydra. A multiheaded serpent is the sort of creature spawned by Echidna.

3: Hercules only captured the Golden Hind of Artemis (the Cerynitian Hind). This was one of a group of specialized genetically engineered deer of genus Eucladoceros kept by Artemis. They were engineered so (like modern reindeer) the females had antlers.

4: Next Hercules captured the Erymanthian Boar. I've written about these "giant boar" previously.

5: The stables of Augeas were really, really disgusting. Why were his livestock immortal?

6: After that, Hercules slayed a group of Stymphalian birds--which of course aren't birds at all.

7: Hercules captured the rampaging Cretan Bull. As previously established, this creature wasn't the father of the Minotaur. Instead, it was a large auroch as enraged and violent as that big buffalo in White Buffalo (1977).

8: Capturing the Mares of Diomedes was difficult because they were carnivorous. They must have been some mad creation of Olympian science.

9: Next Hecules stole the belt of the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta. This belt was a gift of Ares and a symbol of her authority, but didn't have any particular powers. Probably.

10: For his next labor, Hercules does a little cattle-rustling. He goes to an island of Erytheia far the the West (probably modern Spain) and steals special cattle (like bioengineered to produce something for the Olympians--perhaps a component of nectar or ambrosia?) from Geryon. Geryon is said to have three bodies, which probably means his consciousness runs in three duplicates. He also had a 2 headed dog.

11:Returning to the far west and still messing with Olympian pharma, Hercules stole the Golden Apples of the Hesperides. He had to kill a dragon (or a guardian of some sort) and dealt with Atlas, who was the artificial intelligence of an installation that protected against threats from space.

12: Finally, he captured Cerberus. This guardian of Hades is a nanite swarm often taking the vague form of a large three headed dog.

Have a good Labor Day!