Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Weird Adventures Halloween

The comparable holiday to Halloween in the world of the City is Revenant Night at the end of the month of Redfall. It's a night where folklore says the walls between the realms of the dead and the prime material plane thin, allowing spirits who haven't yet moved on to their plane of final reward can slip back into the world of the living. This seldom seems to occur in this modern age, but it can't be ruled out entirely. And there are other strange menaces adventurers might face:

In Motorton, it's the Night of Misrule, where the Dwarf might invite you to the Red Room. Out West, it's a particularly bad time to drive into a ghost town. In the Shambles neighborhood of the City, you can hunt (or be hunted) by a maniacally killer under the influence of the Lord of the Cleaver. Just about anywhere, calliope music might signal the arrival of the Carnival Pandemonium the mysterious Viscount Marzo.

Trick or Treat.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: Shadowland

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

"Saga Part 3: Shadowland"
Warlord (vol. 4) #3 (August 2009) Written by Mike Grell; Penciled by Chad Hardin; Inked by Wayne Faucher, Dan Green & Walden Wong

Synopsis: Morgan and friends come upon a group of refugees fleeing for a Shamballan fort to seek the protection of the Warlord. One man has Morgan's sword, given to him by a young man matching Tinder's description. Tinder had warned them of the raiders' approach and sent them to seek the Warlord's protection.  Then, he set fire to the fields and stayed behind to cover there escape. The farmer's saw him fall under a raider's arrow.

Morgan realizes Tinder was right and that he should have listened to him. Shakira says there's nothing he can do, but Morgan counters there is: He can finish what he set out to do.

Meanwhile, Alysha Grant is running through the jungle. She comes upon a pool where a unicorn is drinking. Struck by the wonder of the scene, she wades out to touch the creature, but then:

The carnosaur turns it's attentions to Alysha, but she's pulled from harm's way by Tinder. The dinosaur chases the two over a cliff. They might have fallen to their death, but Alysha manages to save them with her climbing axe. Later, after she's bandagaed Tinder's wound and cooked them something to eat, Alysha tells Tinder how she got to Skartaris (essentially relating the events of the first issue). She says everything that's happened is her fault. She set an evil power loose. Tinder believes the united people of Skartaris can defeat it--and he knows a man who can do it.

In the darkness of the Terminator, Morgan, Shakira, and Machiste ambush the returning raiders and use their clothes to disguise themselves to sneak into the Golden God's fortress. There, Mariah is being interrogated by Ned Hawkins, who is now the Golden God. He wants her to share what knowledge she has to help him uncover the secrets of Atlantean magic and technology. Kate is jealous, but Ned reins her in. Ewan, for his part, just documents it all with his camera. He's the only one of the three still in his earth duds.

Ned continues to try to convince Mariah. He tells her there is an inevitability to this: "New worlds were made to conquer." Morgan disagrees:

Ned shoots a blast from his golden armor and knocks Morgan out. His guard's overwhelm Machiste. Mariah quickly agrees to help Ned to save Machiste's life.

As Morgan and Machiste are taken away, Shakira (in cat form) watches from the shadows.

Things to Notice:
  • This issue gives us a name for the story arc: "Saga."
  • Ned rightly points out that Mariah has been studying Skartaris since before Kate was born. That may well be true, since she's been there since 1977.
  • Again, we see a unicorn eaten by a carnosaur.
Where it comes from: 
Alysha's first meeting with Tinder has some parallels to Travis Morgan's first meeting with Tara, only this time it's the woman who's the outsider and the man who is Skartarian. In both cases, they wind up saving each other, ultimately.  The dinosaur in this case looks like a carnatosaurus rather than a deinonychus.

Like last issue, this one continues the theme of the 1992 limited series of Morgan being a fallen hero who abandoned his ideals. While this is touched on in the original series, it's not emphasized nearly to the same degree it has been in the Grell-pinned series since.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mo' Mummies

For Secret Santicore last year, I wrote a piece on variant draculcas (vampires). I think that most neglected of classic monsters, the mummy, deserves a similar treatment.

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Monster Apocalypse a Go-Go

Zombie apocalypses are all the rage these days with films, books, and even a tv show. But other classic monsters deserve their (proverbial) day in the sun, too:

Vampires: The most obvious non-zombie contender for virtually extinction of the human species. Richard Matheson's I Am Legend and it's various movie adaptations have already ventured into this territory (as has the film Stake Land) --and the comics Planet of Vampires and Vampire Hunter D have already shown on vampire overrun post-apocalypses. Trading bloodsucking for flesh-eating is almost too obvious.

Piscoids: Cast them as Creatures from Black Lagoons, Manphibians, or walking catfish men, fishy humanoids are ready to climb from the depths and overwhelm the surface world. Perhaps a full-fledged takeover is the ultimate goal of the Deep Ones in Shadow Over Innsmouth? Global warming and rising sea levels would no doubt be part of their plan. A piscoid apocalypse might wind up looking more like Waterworld than Walking Dead.

Werewolves: Like vampires and zombies, werewolfism is passed by a bite, making them a reasonable stand-in. I don't know of any media werewolf apocalypses, but Dog Soldiers sort of does the "trapped in an isolated farm house" riff of Night of the Living Dead. Depending on exactly how the werewolves worked, things might be pretty tough for humanity: zombies are slow and dumb, while vampires have to sleep in the day time. Werewolves have neither of those limitations. Of course, their just humans in the day, trying to scourge for survival just like everybody else. Only at night would they join packs of killers to howl at the moon as they hunt through the ruins.

Frankenstein's Monsters: This seems like the biggest stretch given than Frankenstein had only one monster (or maybe two, depending on who you believe). Still, two monsters can overrun the world (unless they're giant, which still movies us out of zombie apocalypse analogous territory). Technology has advanced a lot since Frankenstein's day, though. Wein's and Wrightson's Un-Men in Swamp Thing (and Burroughs' Synthetic Men of Mars, for that matter) point the way: Mass production of monsters. In some ways, this would resemble an alien invasion apocalypse or robot apocalypse more than a zombie one--though perhaps the monsters "consume" humans by dragging them back to their secret factories to use as raw materials for more monsters?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Frankenstein's Mega-Monster

Frankenstein's Monster might might frighten simple villagers, but it takes a truly monstrous monster to present a challenge for a Giant Space Robot. Luckily, advances in technology have allowed mad scientist to play god on a titanic scale.

An everyday Giant Frankenstein's Monster might use zombie stats (bearing in mind they everything is giant in Giant Space Robot). A regular Giant Frankenstein's Monster energized by radiation or lightning, or one that is actually an alien is a more formidible foe and should be statted like a flesh golem.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Sasquatch Variations

In a post-Harry and the Hendersons and Bigfoot and Wildboy world, your run of the mill Sasquatch may not pack the fearful punch it once did. In keeping with the season, here are a couple of sasquatch-like cryptids with a twist to move 'squatch back from "gentle giant" to "scary."

Batsquatch: First sighted in 1994 in Washington, batsquatch is an ape-like hominid with purple skin and batwings. (In other words, something like a scarier version of the winged monkeys in the Wizard of Oz). Stat these guys like a yeti, but add winged flight like a gargoyle.

Sheepsquatch: From the hills of West Virginia comes a cryptid also known as "the white thing." It's described as a bear-sized beast covered in thick, yellowish-white fur. It doesn't look much like the usual sasquatch with its low set eyes, goat-liked horns, raccoon-like hands, and a hairless tail like an opossum. I would use giant wolverine stats for these beasties (minus the musk).

Blue Belt Bigfoot: One of the few hairy hominids known to accessorize, the so-called Blue Belt Bigfoot has only been sighted in California and only on a few of occasions. It's essentially a a regular sasquatch (perhaps with a dog-like face) with a glowing blue belt. Sometimes, they travel in groups. I'd probably treat these guys as bugbears (just because) and give the belt some special power--or maybe not (other than the glowing) just to mess with PCs.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: Expect the Unexpected

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

"Expect the Unexpected"
Warlord (vol. 4) #2 (July 2009) Written by Mike Grell; Penciled by Joe Prado; Inked by Walden Wong, Jay Leisten, & Joe Prado

Synopsis: Morgan goes to see his daughter Jennifer, the Sorceress Prime of Skartaris. She comments (as usual) that he only comes to see her when he needs something. Morgan admits he does. He tells her about the refugees fleeing a new god: a god that uses bullets.

Jennifer does some scrying:

Deimos. But he's dead (several times over). Morgan decides they need to check this out. Jennifer gives him a couple of magic stones to help him find the Golden God. Tara has to stay to defend Shamballah, but she wants to send 100 soldiers with Morgan. He declines, saying he doesn't want to dig graves along the way. Sometimes, one man can do what a hundred men can't...

Shakira goes along too, of course. Not far into there journey, they realize they're being followed. They lay a trap for their tail, and it turns out to be Tinder. He wants to go with them, Morgan doesn't think this mission is the place for a bard, but Tinder is adamant, and Morgan ultimately gives in.

He asks if Tinder can use a sword. Tinder replies he's good with a bow and a shorter blade. Morgan tosses him his sword and tells him he'd better learn.

Later, when they stop for a meal, Tinder sings the story of the Warlord, telling how Morgan won a queen and allies and bested Deimos. Morgan comments on the exaggeration and myth-making in it. Morgan ends the discussion of the past with sword practice with Tinder--which he wins by cheating.

They notice what they take to be slaver's raiding party passing near, but then Morgan recognizes the man in the cage:

Machiste. These are the men of the Golden God. The raiding party splits up, as some ride ahead to plunder nearby villages.

Morgan readies to attack them. Tinder counters they should warn the villages the men are likely to attack next. Despite the sensible of Tinder's suggestion, Morgan is focused on saving his friend. His belief in lofty goals died when he was forced by Deimos to kill his son. (Or so he believes; we all know Tinder is really his son.) Tinder angrily rides off to look after the people--something that he believes Morgan would have done, once.

Morgan and Shakira ride in and decimate the remaining soldiers. They free Machiste, who tells them Mariah was taken north to meet the Golden God. Machiste doesn't want to sound ungrateful, but he says they should have gone to warn the villages. Morgan says that's what Tinder said.

The three saddle up. Shakira asks where they are going now. Morgan replies: "After the boy."

Things to Notice:
  • Jennifer wears the antennaed headband she wore in her first appearance.
  • This issue provides a lot of recap on backgrounds of the priniciple characters, presumably for new readers.
Where it comes from: 
The title of this issue comes from the last line of the epigraph that appears in most issues of Warlord (and even some of the crossovers).

Jennifer (in discussing the possibility of Deimos's resurrection) mentions the Mask of Life, which was used to bring the demon priest back the first time in issue #10. It's interesting that she reaches all the way back to his first resurrection instead of mentioning the most recent one in the limited series in 1992.

Monday, October 21, 2013

It's Witchcraft

American Horror Story has returned to FX with its third season. This one is subtitled "Coven." Though it's already showing signs of mixing several horror tropes like in previous seasons, the title gives away it's focus on a group of witches. More precisely, it focuses on a school for witches; it's kind of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, except they have no interest whatsoever in helping those that hate and fear them.

Each of the students has a specific psychic sort of power. No real Bewitched-like all-purpose spellcasting, but some very powerful witches have more than one power. There are sort of traditional ritual magic spells, too. It's unclear how this might integrate with the innate powers, and I imagine it will stay that way. "Fuzzy on the details" is just the kind of show AHS is.

Besides the general witchery, there's (so far) an attempt to re-animate the perfect boyfriend from the remains of a bunch of dismembered fratboys, a swamp-dwelling Stevie Nicks fan with the power of resurrection, and conflict between the immortal historical figures Marie Laveau and Delphine LaLaurie.

While every season has had things that could be stolen for an rpg campaign, this season probably offers the most gameable setting so far. In fact, there's a suggestion of the European colonial witches versus traditions of oppressed peoples that is a bit reminiscent of GURPS Voodoo: The Shadow War.

Friday, October 18, 2013


A mysterious alien race hid giant robots all over the earth, waiting for the day humankind would need them. That day is today. The sinister invaders the ancient aliens always feared have arrived. They use giant monsters to cleanse worlds of all life to ease their takeover. Earth is their next target. The giant space robots, piloted by intrepid human pilots, are the Earth's only hope!

A pilot has 3 stats: Intelligence, Willpower (Wisdom), and Reputation (Charisma).

A robot has 3 stats: Strength, Agility (Dexterity), and Durability (Constitution).

All stats are 3-18 with appropriate resultant bonuses or penalties.

Intelligence: Determines the ability to unlock new powers in a robot. Every time a power is employed a percentile roll is made with the chance of success determined by intelligence (based on the Spell Learning Probability Percentage in LL AEC, ranging from 20% with a 3 to 90% with an 18 INT).
Willpower: Affects response to saving throws from certain mental powers (like wisdom).
All the other abilities are just like their counterparts.

Robot Classes:

  • Tank: Not a literally tank, but a brute force model. d8 hit dice, Fighter combat tables and advancement.
  • Blasters: Lighter models with various sorts of special powers or energy weapons. d4 hit dice, Magic-User combat tables and advancement. Blaster pilots have a chance to "unlock" a new power in their robot with every level. They can use a power once a day (contingent on a power roll).
  • Defenders: Medium models that combine some aspects of blasters and tanks. d6 hit dice, Cleric combat tables and advancement. They have a chance to "unlock" a power at second level, and an additional one every level thereafter.

Powers: Are reskinned spells, though obviously they are the more combat oriented of them. You could do away with spell levels at your discretion.

Weapons: Robots use giant and futuristically styled hand to hand weapons. Darts or arrows might be missiles instead, but maybe not.

Hit Points: Are possessed by giant creatures/robots. Smaller beings don't rate on the scale and are utterly destroyed by 1 point of damage.

Reskin any monster you want. They're all giant now, and ones bigger than man-size are really gigantic!
Examples:  Voidflyers (stats for bats); Gorillagon (Gorilla); Mechapede (giant centipede)--you get the idea.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

All Hallows' Eve Draws Nigh

Halloween approaches and I've got some holiday themed posts in the works. First though, let's take a look back at what we unearthed in previous years. 2011's and 2010's ghastly delights are summed up here.

And here are last year's installments:

Monster Mashup: The classic Universal Monsters in different genres and other media.
New Flavors of Frankenstein: Different twists on a classic archetype.
Monstrous Monday: Jumpin' Jack: Stats for Spring-Heeled Jack.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Warlord Wednesday

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

Warlord (vol. 4) #1 (June 2009)
Written by Mike Grell; Penciled by Joe Prado; Inked by Walden Wong

Synopsis: In Tibet, high in a mountain cave, an expedition makes a surpsising discovery: A whole deinonychus carcass frozen in ice.

Sometime later, Alysha Grant shows the head of the dinosaur to her friend Kate who works for a museum. Alysha needs money to get back to Tibet and fully explore the cave the carcass was found in. Kate can't get the funding from the museum, but she has an idea.

They go to rich adventurer Ned Hawkins and give him quite a story:

He agrees to go along and in turn recruits journalist Ewan McBane to chronicle his exploits.

Soon, they're all on a mountain in Tibet. They run afowl of the Chinese military and poor Rhampa the Sherpa is killed.  They make it to the cave, but they're trapped.  Or they think they are, until they find a shimmering, golden portal to someplace warm in the recesses of the cave...

Morgan and Shakira are rousing from a sleep period in Shamballah. Morgan pulls open the curtains to look out onto the city--and is attacked by a griffin!

The commotion brings Tara and her soldiers running, but by the time they arrive, Morgan has dispatched the beast.

Not just griffins are being driven out of the North, there are human refugees, too. Morgan and Tara go down to see what's bringing them in and find Tinder already there. He's already gotten a story, and has a refugee repeat it to Morgan:

It turns out the refugee is from Machiste's kingdom of Kiro. He fears the kingdom may have fallen. The invaders wield a power none can stand against: a power that can kill at a distance. The man's son bears a wound from the weapon. It punched through is breastplate and still grievously injured him:

A bullet hole!

Things to Notice:
  • Grell writes Warlord again for the first time in nearly 17 years.
  • This issue doesn't have a title.
  • The recap of Morgan's origin reminds us he arrived in Skartaris in June of 1969.
Where It Comes From:
This makes several sly references to previous issues: the deinonychus in the cave and the one in First Issue Special #8; Morgan asking Tinder about ballad writing and "Ballad" being the title of the story in the 1992 limited series.

What Happened to Volume 3?
Warlord volume 3 ran from April 2006-January 2007. It was written by Bruce Jones and drawn by Bart Sears and "rebooted" Warlord continuity. It was not particularly well-received and ignored when Grell returned to do this series.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Crystal Obelisks

The crystal obelisks are anomalous artifacts commonly associated with the Hidden Land. The most famous and enigmatic of these is the so-called Graydon Obelisk, though a similar crystal (an anonymous gift) resides in the collection of the Smithsonian's Department of Anthropology. Both these crystals and others rumored to exist figure prominently in Fortean and paranormal lore.

The account attributed to John Richmond Graydon (but only surfacing after his death) asserts that he found the crystal on a skeleton garbed as Spanish conquistador in the Sierra Madres. He describes the crystal psychically projecting voices and visions of another world into his mind. He came to understand the crystal was part of a control mechanism. In a trance-like state, while under the crystal's influence, he produced a crude map of the Hidden Land, the area maintained by this mechanism.

Graydon relates that those who have been to Hidden Land and returned confirm the existence of larger crystal obelisks: perhaps 16 ft. tall, and 4 ft. wide at the base in remote places in the Land. Sometimes they appeared are normal, cloudy quartz crystal, but at times colored pulses of light appear inside them. They provided some influence over weather and even astronomical phenomena--perhaps even time and distance. From his investigations, Graydon believed these to be part of system of smaller obelisks--most of which had been swallowed by the jungle.

The builders of these crystals and the grid they form are an enigma, but at least one of Graydon's correspondents attributed them to the Nephilim of Genesis. Graydon's account is conflicted in regard to whether these giants still exist.

Graydon was found dehydrated and dying from a spear wound in the Matto Grosso in 1908. His appearance (and eventual death) in Brazil presents something of a mystery as he dined with acquaintance in Tucson just two days earlier.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cast in Ruin: A Taxonomy of Post-Apocalypses

This week, Charlie Jane Anders wrote an article about the disappearance of the "advanced civilization fallen to barbarism" story that used to be so prevalent in popular genre media. She considers a couple of reasons, one of which is that it has been supplanted by the post-apocalyptic story.  That got me thinking about whether those sorts of stories might be related in some way, and that led me to hypothesize a taxonomy of post-apocalyptic tales.

The first thing to consider is: Did the apocalypse happen to the viewpoint characters or their culture or did it happen to someone else?

Happened to the viewpoint characters/their culture:
If it happened recently you're dealing with a standard post-apocalyptic (or perhaps apocalyptic, if it's ongoing) tale. Examples would include The Walking Dead, I Am Legend, and Night of the Comet, just to name a few.

If it happened in the remote past, then we're dealing with post-apocalyptic fantasy like Thundarr or the Heiro novels of Sterling Lanier. There is a variant where the apocalypse is really slow moving: the dying earth story. It's tempting not to consider these post-apocalyptic stories at all, except for the fact that at least some of them (the Zothique tales of Clark Ashton Smith and The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson, to give a couple of examples) seem very concerned with pointing out how things are winding down to their inevitable end.

Happened to someone else:
If the apocalyptic event happened recently, and the viewpoint characters have arrived to discover this, we're probably dealing with a science fiction mystery or horror narrative. The Star Trek episode "Miri" probably falls into this category. (Some will protest that the apocalypse in "Miri" hardly counts as recent, being hundreds of years ago. I'd argue the extremely slow aging of the surviving children and the resemblance of the fallen culture to the culture of Star Trek's reviewers in the sixties, gives the story an immediacy that it's internal chronology doesn't reflect.)

If the fall is a remote event, then the "civilization fallen to barbarism" story comes into play (showing up in numerous Star Trek episodes like "Omega Glory" and "Spock's Brain" and as a backdrop in a lot of lost world or planetary romance fiction). If the civilization is mostly gone, but it's influence can still be felt, we're probably out of the post-apocalyptic genre and into science fiction, horror or a combination of the two--but not necessarily. The science fiction and/or horror option is exemplified by works like At The Mountains of Madness, Forbidden Planet, Quatermass and the Pit, and (again) a number of Star Trek episodes like "That Which Survives."

The stories in this category I would consider as in the post-apocalyptic genre itself would be of the "cautionary tale" or "sins of the past" sort. Ralph Bakshi's Wizards fits here, as do two unusual, effective, and Oscar nominated Christmas cartoons from MGM: Peace on Earth (1939) and Good Will to Men (1955).

There are less clear-cut stories that are inbetween these two poles. In this group are stories where the relationship of the viewpoint characters (or the viewer) to the apocalypse or the occurrence of the apocalypse, itself, is saved for a reveal at the end. The original Planet of the Apes is a classic example here, but Teenage Cave Man (1958) also fits the bill.

Also, we can place many so-called "Shaggy God" stories here, as the apocalypse leads to an Adam and Eve scenario. The Twilight Zone episode "Probe 7, Over and Out" is practically the archetypal version of this tale, but it has turned up as recently as Battlestar Galactica (2004).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Look--There's A Map!

Work has been grueling this week! More of my regular posting content is forthcoming, but for now enjoy another map. This one is from Don Lawrence's Trigan Empire. Marvel at its mysteriousness!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Warlord (& Wonder Woman) Wednesday

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

"Land of the Lost" (parts 1-5)
Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #179-183 (May-September 2002) Written by Phil Jimenez, Penciled by Roy Allan Martinez & Gabriel Rearte, Inked by Martinez, Andy Lanning, Ray Synder & Marlo Alquiza

Synopsis: Wonder Woman and her boyfriend Trevor Barnes wind up in Skartaris accidentally (thinking they were going to ancient Atlantis). They fight some dinosaurs and meet some little people who tell them where they are:

It's seems that Villainy, Inc. (a collection of Wonder Woman foes led by Clea, queen of the Atlantean remnant Venturia) shot for Atlantis and wound up in Skartaris, too. They quickly recovered from the mistake and went about conquering Shamballah.

They have Morgan and Jennifer in a cage while the the sorceress Jinx, does nasty body-warping things to them.

Villainy, Inc. also discovers the computer core beneath the city. Cyborgirl is able to interface with the computer, which Clea believes will allow them to control all of Skartaris and power enough to potential take over the Earth.

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman has freed some captives from Giganta and a group of giants. She begins building an army from the disparate human and nonhuman cultures of Skartaris. She takes that army to Shamballah.

While Wonder Woman takes down Giganta, then fights Clea, Trevor and the army get into the palace and free Dr. Poison's captives/potential subjects--including Machiste and Shakira. Those two attempt to free Morgan and Jennifer, but Jinx attacks them.

While all that's going on, Trinity reveals her plan She had known they were coming to Skartaris all along. Her tendrils allow her to begin to take over Cyborgirl so that she can interface with and reboot the Skartarian master computer. She's actually a creation of the ancient Atlanteans that built the computer, a viral vector intended to reset the system and turn back time to the rule of the Atlanteans.

Waves of energy emanate from the palace, devolving and de-aging the Skartarian forces fighting on both sides. Wonder Woman leaves a subdued Clea and storms the castle. She saves Machiste and Shakira from Jinx and finds Morgan and Jennifer who tell her where to find the computer core.

Dr. Poison comes to save Jinx and is almost taken down by Morgan and friends, but escapes with (of course) poison. She runs to the computer core, too.

Trevor (who's already there) fills Wonder Woman in on what's happening. Dr. Poison's suggestion that Trinity is a virus and is currently confined to the core--but will spread to all the computers in Skartaris--gives Trevor and idea. He talks to Cyborgirl, convincing her to fight Trinity and regain her humanity. She does and manages to contain the Trinity virus in the core, which Wonder Woman destroys with Clea's trident. The energy wave stops.

Evil is defeated. Clea is presumably de-aged and nowhere to be found. The Warlord gets cheers:

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman and Trevor (who did most of the world saving) are going to do a bit of rebuilding before heading home.

Things to Notice:
  • Wonder Woman spends five issues in Skartaris, but Morgan and crew only appear in a few panels.
Where it comes from: 
Clea and Villiany, Inc. conquered Shamballah to take control of the super-computer beneath it, first seen in issue #15. Not only does the computer differ in appearance from previous portrayals, but Clea says it controls all of Skartaris--something it's never been shown to do before.

There are many humanoids depicted that seem call backs to previous issues (centaurs, titans, dwarfs, fishmen, winged men), but none of them are depicted in such a way as to make it clear--in fact, some seem very different in character.

Monday, October 7, 2013

People in the City

After Saturday's Detectives & Daredevils Google+ game set in the world of Weird Adventures, there was some discussion of NPCs that have showed up in my various games. Here are a few that might still be encountered in the City in 5889:

Bookman, Rawley: Superintendent at an apartment building in Morningstar Hills on the border with Solace.

DeWytt, Lola: Secretary for Victory Detective Agency.

Graves, Zacherly: A Barrowman cemetery manager.

Hardluck Hooligans: A kid gang in Hardluck. Prominent members include: Knuckles (the tough one), Da Brain (the smart one), Freckles (freckles), Topper (oversized tophat), Juniper (tomboy in an aviator helmet), Sunshine and Smiles (creepy, somber kids), the Kid in Yellow (weird kid from Little Carcosa), and Marbles. They have an ongoing feud with the Grumpf.

Hazzard, Hew: Wealthy industrialist, inventor, and playboy. His headquarters and research laboratory are in Marquesa near the airfield.

Shreck, Eldmore: Tall, portly lawyer, parnter in the firm Shreck & Wail. They are the executors of the estate of Charles Ranulf Urst.

Snow, Sara: Platinum-haired beauty who is either a cat that can turn into a woman or a woman who turns into a cat. Grifter and sometime gangster's moll.

Throne, H. Leland: Antiquarian bookseller in Grimalkin Village. He doesn't have any magical tomes, but does have works that deal with occult or esoteric topics. He also runs a side business in racy photography. He sells the photos to collectors and sometimes uses them for blackmail.

Two-Teeth Drexel: Hell Syndicate thug with oversized incisors. Previously in Barton Blanchefleur's gang.

Vandemaur, Urania: Matriarch of an Old Money family with a mansion on "Paupers Row."

Wail, Tophias: Short, bespectacled lawyer, partner in the firm Shreck & Wail. They are the executors of the estate of Charles Ranulf Urst.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mesa of the Sky-Vikings

In the Hidden Land beyond a cave in the Superstition Mountains, there is an imposing, solitary mesa rising above the jungle. The mesa is some 1200 feet tall and steep-sided. Its flat top is about 900 ft. long and 400 ft. across at its widest. Located there are the longhouses and fortress of the Sky-Vikings.

Interbreeding with captives from the jungle tribes and exposure to the tropical sun and turned their pale complexions darker, but they often retain the fair hair of their ancestors. Their material cultural is similar, but adapted to their surroundings.

Most dramatically, they have replaced their forebears seagoing raids with aerial attacks. The Sky-Vikings have domesticated the pteranodons that nest on the mesa and use them as mounts. As there society depends on the raids for most of their food and raw materials, they train from a young age to command the flying beasts. Their society is male-dominated; only rarely are women able to prove themselves as pteranodon-riding raiders. Some jarls are more permissive than others, however.

The Sky-Vikings know the working of metal,and have metal spearheads, knives, and short-swords. The rarely waist their limited supplies on armor.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Another Friday Map

This map from Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld throws realism completely out the window. In later stories, Gemworld becomes an actual planet. I think this was better.

Here's some details about Gemworld and points of interest.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Do You Dare Enter...The Setting Crypt?

While I've got indices for a couple of the settings I've discussed here over the years, there are some that languish in the blog archives--as well as in a still-unfinished state. Several of them I do intend to get back to eventually:

Gods, Demi-gods, and Strangeness is an ongoing concern. It's Greek mythology as science fantasy with a hint of Kirby. It got an index post and later posts here.

Apocalypse Underground is a D&D setting that rationalizes game aspects like increasing hit points and some class abilities, while dwelling on a horror of fighting apocalyptic struggle with monsters in dark, cramped spaces beneath the earth. Here's the first post. Follow the tag for later ones.

Planet of the Elves is post-apocalyptic fantasy where Man is a distant memory. It draws on Bakshi's Wizards and a slew of comics for inspirations: particular the fantasy stylings of Wally Wood and Mike Ploog. Read the first post, then follow the tag.

Pulp Space is a alternate history and an alternate Spelljammer setting. It starts at the end of War of the Worlds and ends in a 1930s where occultism and alien science has taken volatile politics of Earth out into colonies on other planets in the solar system. It starts here and continues with the tag.

There are other setting riffs back there, but these are the big ones.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: Sea King in Skartaris

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

"To Enter the Lost World..."/ "Worlds Apart" / "Power Game"
Aquanman (vol. 3) #71-73 (September-November 2000) Written by Dan Jurgens, Penciled by Steve Epting, Inked by Norm Rapmund

Synopsis: Machiste, Mariah, and Mongo are on a desperate ride through the Skartarian jungle. They decide they have to split up. Mariah and Machiste will deal with the Ch'rin, while Mongo rides on to the Gate. Mongo makes it to the stone arch of the Gate of Infinity. There, he casts a spell that creates a vortex in the pool beyond the gate.

On Earth, in the Atlantean city of Poseidonis, Aqualad senses some mystical disturbance and rushes to tell his king, Aquaman, about it. Bored with affairs of state, Aquaman and his queen Mera go to check it out. They find a vortex that they are quickly sucked into it.

Arriving on the other side, the first thing they see is an elasmosaurus, suggesting there in the past. They're even more confused when they rise to the surface and are almost run over by what looks like a Viking longship. Believing them to be evil wizards, the seamen pour burning oil on to the water. Aquaman summons the marine reptile to destroy one of the ships. Then, a familiar figure dives (rashly) from one of the ships to confront the "wizards" head on:

Aquaman mistakes him for Oliver Queen and doesn't fight back. When Morgan realizes what's going on, he rises to the surface to talk. He explains who he is and invites them onboard his ship. He tells them that Skartaris is under a grave threat and so they were summoned by Mongo's spell. A short distance upriver into the jungle, and he shows them what they're facing:

The Ch'rin are the servitors of an evil sorcerer, Valgos. One of them smashes the lead ship with a gigantic fist. Morgan's bullets are useless against them, but Mera is able to use her power to knock one of them over. Aquaman start's giving orders to Morgan's men, which doesn't sit terribly well with the Warlord, but he takes it for now.

Morgan leads the two Atlanteans to Valgos's lair:

They infiltrate the skull fortress: Morgan repelling in from above, Aquaman and Mera swimming in from below. The Atlanteans are first to meet the wizard--and mind-controlled Machiste and Mariah as his protectors! The Atlanteans are winning, until Valgos takes control of Aquaman's shapechanging metal hand. When Morgan arrives on the scene:

Morgan and Mera are soon captured, though not before Mera discovers that the masked Valgos is really just another mind controlled pawn: Mongo. Valgos (controlling Aquaman through his hand, now spread over his whole body) puts Mera in a heating pool to boil her alive.

It turns out Valgos controls all the others with symbiotes that will kill them over time, because they resist his domination. Valgos sends Machiste to finish Mera and Morgan off. Meanwhile, a bit of the liquid metal from Aquaman's prosthetic hand left on Mera's cheek, grows to cover her and protect her from the heat. She realizes Valgos must not have full control over her husband's mind.

She breaks Morgan free. Machiste attacks, but Morgan lays him out with a punch.

Later, we see Machiste return to Valgos. To the evil sorcerer's surprise me moves to free Mariah: he's out of Valgos's control. Morgan starts to shoot Valgos, but Mera reminds him the wizard controls Aquaman's body. Or does he?

Our heroes make it out of the skull, but there's no sign of  Valgos--until the giant skull begins to rise out of the muck, attached to a whole giant body, with Valgos in the jewel on its forehead.

With the help of Mera's water powers, Aquaman jumps up and punches through the jewel, grabbing Valgos.

With the jewel destroyed, the giant body crumbles. It turns out Valgos is dead and appears to have been for some time. Aquaman theorizes the jewel must have acted like a battery, holding on to his life-force.

The wizard defeated, Aquaman and Mera want a way home. Mongo says that might be tough, but Aquaman reminds him of what happened to the last wizard that crossed him.

Things to Notice:
  • All the covers are by Michael Kaluta.
  • Morgan has heard of Aquaman and knows the Justice League used to have their base in a cave.
  • Unlike every other superhero visitor, Aquaman and Mera don't adopt Skartarian clothes. Maybe they just didn't have time?
  • For some reason, Aquaman's and Mera's super-strength isn't in evidence here.
Where it comes from: 
Again, Dan Jurgens pens a Warlord crossover that gets the characters and the world right, for the most part (though he makes Morgan rather atagonistic to Aquaman for no good reason, other than that's just the way things work in crossovers).

This is the first time we've seen Mongo Ironhand since issue #98 (1985). How he got from the Age of the Wizard Kings to the present of Skartaris isn't explained.