Monday, September 29, 2014

Tales of Two Cities

The Witchocracy of Ix is perhaps the most vexing of the lands across the Wastes to the north to Azurth, but it is not the only one. It is one of three descendants of the dreaded Empire of the Barbarous Name, which was so feared that its very name was stricken from any record so that no one might speak it aloud and inadvertently evoke a ritual of resurrection. The only parts of that feared land and its hexadecagrammaton known to have survived are Ix, Yai, and Zed.

Many rumors and legends circulate regarding Yai, but all truth is hidden beneath a massive dome, ensconced in a remote mountain valley. It is widely known as the "Pleasure Dome of Yai", as tales tell of travelers being received by a youthful, beautiful, and most solicitous folk, eager to fulfill the travelers' every need and desire--save one. The folk of Yai are said never to age and never to tire of serving others; they are so devoted, that they demure from allowing their guests to leave, no matter how strenuously they state their desire to do so. One of the most peculiar stories told about Yai is that one of its pleasures is a game that somehow involves manipulation of the people beyond Yai. This "god-game" is rumored to be one of the most addictive of Yai's many pleasures.

Art by Alayna Lemmer
One of the peculiarities of the Mysteriarchy of Zed, the City of Wizards, is that no non-initiate may recall both the location of its gates and their passwords at the same time. The location of the city itself is well known; geographers with their particular thaumaturgy have fixed it in place to the north of Azurth and the Waste and the east of Ix and Yai. (Though, one must recall, the geographer has a luxury of imprecision not afforded the traveler.) Even still, an eidolon or mirage of the city is given to wandering. It has been glimpsed in many places but always to the north near the horizon, shimmering like heat-haze, staying forever out of reach--until it disappears entirely. The city gates are much less elusive but just as unpredictable; one might find them on a sheer cliff face in Sang, standing on a small isle in the midst of bubbling mudpots in the vicinity of Demonland, or in the back of a poorly lit Rivertown larder. The Wizard of Azurth, for all his presumed might, has never been invited to join the citizenry of Zed and so puts a great deal of effort into trying to find a way through these gates.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Strange Stars' Most Wanted

Here's a selection of  "most wanted" criminals culled from various crime databases across known space:

The Dragon’s Teeth: An infosophont which generates for its clients a specially synthesized, infectious nanoweapon for the purposes of creating assassins from random bystanders.

Haxun Malokk: Penitent crime lord operating out of an independent principality on Circus. Though associated with numerous crimes, he may be more notable for his eccentricity: he has patterned his criminal persona on an Old Earth historic work named Chicago Mobs of the Twenties and forces the members of his gang to dress and act accordingly.

Ligeia-988: Eratoan bioroid who masterminded a large-scale kidnapping ring in a supposedly unused pleasure dome. Most of her victims believed they were on vacation during the duration of their confinement.

Mako Orm: An infamous Zao Pirate who escaped capture by the privateer vessel Thermidorian by use of a bootleg genderswap nanoswarm. She is believed to be living under an assumed name in the Strip.

Polychrome: Allegedly the target of contract killers hired by Neshekk Banking Clans, this con-artist was responsible for a major “correction” in Alliance financial markets after a spectacularly successful execution of the “new node scam.”

Friday, September 26, 2014

Some Folk of Yanth

Just brainstorming a bit. Here are some characters the players in my 5e game may well meet in the near future:

Art by Renee Calvert
Viola, the Clockwork Princess of Yanth. A marvelous invention and marvelous inventor in her own right.

Art by Yuriy
Rarebit Finn, Hara pirate from the Motley Isles and Black Iris's first-mate.

Yrrol B. Gladhand, Mayor of Rivertown, but with ambitions that reach higher--perhaps much higher.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

First 5e Session

Last Sunday my gaming group met for a character creation session in 5e in preparation for our upcoming Land of Azurth game (now with a logo!). I gave this this doc ahead of time to get them prepped. We were joined by two new players that weren't in the Weird Adventures crew so we're at 7 now.

No one was over-burdened by too much prior study of the Player's Handbook, but everybody found it easy enough to use--particularly in comparison to some older editions. A outline of character creation with page references would have been a help, though.

We wound up with a frox thief, a human bard, an infernal-blood (don't call 'em tieflings!) sorcerer, a human fighter, a wood elf ranger, and an Azurthite dwarf cleric of Iolanthe. A fairly non-muscle heavy bunch, but the ranger and fighter ought to be able to handle it.

I'm planning on running this more sandboxy than my "mission style" approach to Weird Adventures. After the first adventure, the player's will get a list of rumors/adventure seeds to choose from for the next session--a technique I've seen put to good use in Chris Kutalik's Hill Cantons game.

The players seem eager to get started and so am I.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday Comics: Conquerors of the Counter-World

"Conquerors of the Counter-World"
The Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1 (November 2014), Written by Grant Morrison; Art by Chris Sprouse & Karl Story & Walden Wong

Last week saw the release of the second part of Morrison's Multiversity storyline. Society of Super-Heroes takes us to the world of Earth-20 where a pulp- and serial-flavored group of heroes is battling for the fate (heh) of their world against an invasion from Earth-40 lead by Vandal Savage and (presumably) a Society of Super-Villains.

Earth-20 first appeared in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1 and its prominent heroes are named in Final Crisis Secret Files #1. Earth-40 is a bit of a puzzle. Comments Dan DiDio made about the Countdown: Arena limited series suggested Earth-40 was the home of the government operative pulp versions of the Golden Age heroes in JSA: The Liberty Files. It's possible the concept of this Earth has changed, but it's also possible that Vandal Savage and his crew took over that world sometime after World War II.

Anyway, here's a scorecard with the prominent players and what you need to know:

Immortal Man (Earth-20) 
First Appearance: Final Crisis Secret Files #1
The Pre-Crisis Immortal Man first appeared in Strange Adventures #165 (1965) and appeared sporadically for two years, then didn't show up again until 1984 when his backstory and link to Vandal Savage were revealed. Then he died in Crisis. This Earth-20 version adds the interesting wrinkle of apparently also being Anthro. Anthro is a Cro-Magnon born to Neanderthal parents and has fairly light-hearted adventures until he settles down and becomes the father of modern humans. He first appeared in Showcase #74 (1968). Pre-Crisis Immortal Man was a different prehistoric guy (Klarn Arg) but he is said to have been from the Bear Tribe, which is the name of Anthro's tribe, too.

Doc Fate (Earth-20)
First Appearance: Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1
Doc Fate is more of a man of action that his Golden Age (and other Earthly) counterparts. He's also a person of color, who tells us he was adopted (both differences from other Kent Nelsons). His helmet is also explicitly tied in to Novu, the Proto-Monitor, not Nabu the Lord of Order. (Unless those are one and the same?)

Mighty Atom
First Appearance: Final Crisis Secret Files #1
The original Al Pratt Atom first appeared in 1940. Like this version, he was a short guy with no super-powers who toughened himself up to fight crime. This version trained using the Arn Munro method. This is a reference to the old Charles Atlas ads and exercise regimen, but also to the pre-Crisis character Arn "Iron" Munro from Young All-Stars. In the series, Munro was the son of Philip Wylie's Hugo Danner from his 1930 novel Gladiator, one of the inspirations for Superman. Interestingly, "Mighty Atom" was the stage name of the strongman Joe Greenstein.

Lady Blackhawk (Earth-20)
First Appearance: Final Crisis Secret Files #1
There have been more than one Lady Blackhawk over the years, but all of them were so named because they were the only female member of the Blackhawks at the time. This Lady Blackhawk appears to be who her all-female team is named for.

Green Lantern (Abin Sur)
First Appearance: Final Crisis Secret Files #1
On Earth-0 ("New Earth"), and on Earth-1 Pre-Crisis, Abin Sur was dying alien Green Lantern that bequeathed his power ring to Hal Jordan. This Abin Sur looks sort of like a demon (or the Demon), which is his reason for keeping his existence secret from humankind, much like the rationale of the Overlords in Clarke's Childhood's End. He wears a costume more reminiscent of the Golden Age Green Lantern than the Silver Age one his origin is taken from.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Strange Stars Update

Here's the mostly-done first page of the Instrumentality of Aom spread in the Strange Stars setting book. Lester B. Portly continues to do awesome work! The setting book is still on schedule for a fall release.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Demihuman Height Reference

The 5e Player's Handbook gives us the following height ranges for demihumans: Dwarf, 4-5 ft.; Elf, under 5-over 6 ft.; Halfling: 3 ft.; Gnome: 3-4 ft. Here's a few images illustrating what those heights actual mean.

In the halfling and gnome range is homo florensis. The skeleton discovered was a bit over 3.5 ft.

In the dwarf and short elf height range are the Pygmy peoples of Central Africa. Height for males is under 4'11". I imagine dwarves are built less like pygmies and more like Neanderthals, though.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Little More About Elves

With my first session of my face-to-face 5e game in the Land of Azurth coming up this weekend, I've had a few more thoughts about the elves in Yanth (which is timely, given than one on more of my players will probably play one).

High Elves (as they are called in the PHB) reflect reflect the most civlized elvish group. They tend to live apart from humans and the little folk (halflings, dwarves, some gnomes) that are associated with them. They tend to live in small settlements, maybe centered around fanciful, fairytale sort of castles (something like the Vadhagh in Moorcock's Swords Trilogy). They dress in pseudo-"High Medieval" sort of dress (a couple of centuries behind other folk) and talk in the sort of cod-Shakespearean way that Thor used to in Marvel Comics.

Wood Elves are more primitive than their high elf cousins. They're half The Hobbit's wood elves and half Elfquest. Part "indigenous people in harmony with nature", part "fairy forest trickster." The Elfquest elves, the Rankin-Bass wood elves, and Moebius's concept art for Willow are all good visual inspiration. They probably have a similar speech pattern to the high elves, but maybe with a little more Robin Hood banter.

As the pictures might indicate, elves won't be universally physically attractive--but they all have the fae glamour about them.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Places of Note in Yanth

Apiaria: The Hive City of the Bee Folk and center of the domain of their Queen, Melitta XLI. Relations between the humans of Yanth and the bee folk have been pleasant but formal for some time. Wealthy Rivertown folk imbue an antiaging tonic made from bee folk royal jelly.

Castle Machina: Just outside of Rivertown, an old castle is the workshop-palace of the Clockwork Princess Viola I of Yanth. The barracks, sheds, and small laboratories around it are known as "Mechanicstown" and house the tinker gnomes and others that assist the Princess.

The Enchanted Wood: An ancient and dense forest north of Rivertown where the plant and animal life encountered is very often capable of speech. It is said to be the domain of an old and eccentric druid.

The Great Standing Stone Sages: A circle of eight monolithic stone heads in which reside the intellects of great sages of a past age. Their names and their scholarly specialties are: Whindbog the Historian, Blathrur the Astronomer, Pomphus the Philologist, Laangvynd the Geographer, Eggedd the Scientist, Baombast the Physician, Drohninon the Mathematician, and Nowhitaul the Theologian. These learned minds may be consulted by touching their respective stone, allowing telepathic communication as long as the contact is maintained. They will answer questions put to them, though they tend to do so with a degree of irritation and condescension.

Horologopolis: A subkingdom in the Country of Yanth where many aspects of the lives of its citizenry are predetermined at birth by extensive application of the astrological and numerologic sciences. Horoscopes are prepared and zealously tracked and rechecked through a citizen’s lifetime by the great tabulating engines controlled by the Master Time Keeper, a giant, many-armed construct with a head like a clock face. Those who stray from their appointed role or seek to alter their fate in significant ways are corrected by his agents, the more humanoid, but likewise clockfaced, Watchmen.

Rivertown: Largest city in Yanth, at the confluence of the Yellow and Flint Rivers. It's a center for trade and home of an infamous, waterborne, red-light district called (appropriately) "The Floating World."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday Comics: Princess Aura in Her Underwear

...and Flash, Ming, and Thun, too--but they don't make for the click-grabbing headline.

I picked up IDW's Definitive Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim Volume 1 last week with a bit of hesitation has I already had Checker's and Titan's first Flash Gordon volumes, but the full Sunday pages size (actually slightly larger) and colors( that are a good compromise between Checker's glossy ones and Titan's too muted ones) are worth it. Though at a little larger than 16 x 12, it isn't exactly portable.

Another interesting thing about these full reprints is that they reproduce the paper dolls that Raymond did along with the strip.

As promised, here's Princess Aura from 1934:

Her papa, Ming:

Lura "Vultan's favorite":

Flash Gordon:

And last, but not least, Prince Thun the Lion Man:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Planning for 5e: Classes

My group is meeting this next weekend for character creation for inaugural 5e D&D Land of Azurth session. Just like with the races, some of the classes require some explanation and/or tweaking for the setting:

The "fighting man" classes of Barbarians, Fighters, Paladins, and Rangers are all okay. Rogues and Bards work as-is, too.

Hierophant of the Church of Azulina
Clerics: I discussed primary deities and clerical domains in a post last week.

Druids: Probably more common in the Country of Virid, but they would will be present in Yanth where the campaign will begin.

Monks: I haven't figured out where the the Way of the Shadow and Way of the Four Elements orders might fit it.The Monks of the Way of the Open Hand will come from isolated mountain monasteries.

Sorcerers: No draconic bloodlines, but otherwise okay.

Warlocks like their pointy hats.
Warlocks: No Great Old One patrons for now. The archfey represent the relatives of Azulina in Elphame. Also, the fae lords of the Sun and Moon. Warlocks with fiendish patrons will be the most common. Witch hats and mantled coats will be a commonly seen "uniform" among Warlocks, perhaps inspired by the traditional clothing of the Witches of Ix.

Wizards: Okay as written.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Land of Adventure...

...That's California.

Or at least all the places California gets to be in the movies. The above is a 1927 Paramount Films map of potential shooting locations in Southern California. This next one is locations within the Alabama Hills were films were actually shot:

Now, I'm not sure exactly how one might use this information to make a setting from the terrain of Southern California, but I'm sure it's possible.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Of Azurth and the Gods

The folk of Azurth seem less troubled by gods than the people of other lands. Or perhaps it's merely religion they are less troubled with. The small shrines and occasional monastery were sufficient for them, until the Wizard decided his new revelation called for a more elaborate priesthood and administration for the state church.

Azulina: The blue Faerie Queen is the center of reverence in Azulinism, the preeminent religion of the Land. The myths say she requested (and got) special dispensation from the gods of the outer world for her own subcreation: Azurth and its environs. Once it was done, Azulina and her sister-handmaidens entered the little world and brought life to the things that were there. The royal family of Azurth were held to be of the family of Azulina by magical adoption. The four handmaidens and companions of Azulina have monastic orders and shrines dedicated to each of them:
Iolanthe: Lady of Knowledge and Communication. Her color is purple. [Domain: Knowledge]
Cerise: Lady of Love. Her color is rose. [Domain: Life]
Pyrrha: Lady of Battle. Her color is vermilion. [Domain: War]
Melaina: Lady of Souls. Her color is indigo. [Domain: Death]

Gob: Beneath the Cave Land of Subazurth at the center of the world, there dwells a giant, crystalline gnome, and his name is Gob. It was Gob, master artificer, who did most of the heavy work in the creation of Azurth, all for the love of Azulina. Gob is seldom directly worshiped, but he is frequently named in oaths and exclamations by Azurthites.

Machine Mysteries: There are minor (and somewhat disreputable cults) in Yanth (in the main) based around itinerant, tent show performances whose primary attractions are automata called "god machines". Adherents believe god machines differ from other clockwork, electrical, or steam-powered contrivances by being imbued by "divine motive power." Side shows of clockwork tableaux vivants or magic lanterns revealing central myths may be free, but the god machine can only be viewed by initiates--i.e., those that have paid the admission price. Performances of machine mysteries are often accompanied by ecstatic (even orgiastic) rites, contributing to their reputation--and popularity.

Outer Gods: Some of the true gods of the outer world, greater than fae godlings of Azurth, are known in myth and legend: Urania, Queen of Heaven, who gave Azulina her blessing in Azurth's creation; Pan, whose piping is heard by the druids in the ancient forests of Virid; and the greatest of all, the Slumbering God with many names, who created all the gods, and now sleeps, his work done. There is an ascetic order in Azurth that venerates this last, but they hold that all the world was created (and exists only) within the great god's dreams and will fade when he wakes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wednesday Comics: Prophet

In a first for my Wednesday comic book meditations, I'm featuring a comic I haven't even read yet--primarily because it is just being released today. Prophet: Strikefile #1 (borrowing the "strikefiles" title from 90s Image) is a who's who (and what's what) of various important characters, aliens, and world's in the Prophet Universe (which is the Extreme Comics Universe in the far future).It also gives a history of the Earth Empire:


Anyway, I assume most of my readers are at least familiar with the Prophet revival series by writer Brandon Graham and several artists. If not, here's a brief  rundown: John Prophet (the Extreme Comics character from the 90s) awakens from cryosleep on an Earth dominated by strange alien species in the far future. He must trek across this exotic landscape to find the ancient tower where he can complete his mission. There, he sends a signal to revive the Earth Empire from it's slumber. That signal awakens the Empire's most implacable foe, too--who just happens to be another clone of John Prophet. 

This is all is collected in one volume. Subsequent volumes detail Old Man Prophet (the rebel) gathering allies (including a few familiar names from 90s Extreme, if not familiar faces) while the Earth Empire likewise consolidates its forces and it's power. It may be that both sides will have to join forces against an even greater menace.

Prophet is probably most comparable to science fantasy comics like Metabarons and the Incal, but has its own voice and feel. No guys in rubber masks here; the aliens of Prophets universe are most often somewhat arthropodian and always alien. Even the human cultures have an exoticness to them too, like you'd see in far future literary science fiction.

The density of the concepts and world-building may not be to everyone's taste, but if any of this sounds appealing, you should check it out.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Different Dwarves for 5e

The Tolkien-inspired, Nordic-derived dwarves of standard D&D aren't the only dwarven subraces out there. There is another dwarvish tradition: a more folklore and fairytale one. The dwarves of the Country of Yanth in the Land of Azurth are that sort of dwarf.

Compared to the average D&D dwarf, they tend to be more social and affable. They are fond of good food and drink and are renowned brewers. While they may be miners or metalworkers, they are not as oriented toward these tasks as others of their race, and are just as likely to loggers, woodworkers, or farmers.They have no more love or precious metals or jewels than humans.

Unless otherwise noted, the folkloric dwarf subrace has the traits of the standard dwarf.

Art by Jerad S. Marantz
Ability Score Increase. Wisdom increased by 1.
Lucky. Like a Halfling's.
Size. Folkloric dwarves vary more in height than other dwarven races. Most are medium, but a few are under 4 foot and so small.
Dwarven Combat Training. They eschew the battleaxes and hammers employed by other dwarves, but are handy with the axe and short sword.
Tool Proficiency. Their choices for proficiency are smith's tools, brewer's supplies, cobbler's tools, woodcarver's tools, or cook's utensils.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Clang of Steel in Sang

Art by Phil Saunders
"Sang, the southern country of Azurth, is an exotic and barbaric land, separated from more civilized Azurth by rim of mountains that scholars say may by the remnants of an ancient encounter with a fallen star. The tiny kingdoms and tribes are given to strange customs and prone to violence. Still, Sang's warrior queen Bellona is widely-famed as a great heroine of the age."

-  A History of the Land of Azurth

High Concept: An exotic land of swashbuckling adventure where a warrior queen fights to establish justice and law.
Conspectus: A land devastated by an ancient cataclysm; the half-buried remnant of a ship from another world; dwarves made of metal with alien technology; nonhuman warriors with a fierce code; barbaric city-states with strange cultures; a red-skinned, superhuman warrior queen hatched from an egg, who won't take a lover who can't best her in combat.
Media Inspirations: The Mars and Venus stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs; The Thongor and World's End novels of Lin Carter; DC Comics' Warlord and Claw the Unconquered; Dark Sun.

Art by Jay de Foy

Friday, September 5, 2014

You Should Buy A Zoo

Specifically, you should buy Grandpappy Cromdar's Whizbang Zoo! by David Lewis Johnson. You should buy it because it has a cool tone and design sensibilities, and because it has great art by David (you've seen some of his work here before). You should buy it because it looks like a fun and sort of funny little adventure. And finally, you should buy it because it's only 5 bucks.

Of course, I'm biased because David's art work is going to be all over Strange Stars. Sure, I'm a fan, but let me tell you (and give you a taste) of what I think is good about the Whizbang Zoo on my read through. First off, the whole thing has a vibe reminiscent of Eric Powell's The Goon  to it, in no small part due to the grotesquery that is Grandpappy Cromdar (he's like the bastard child of Poopdeck Pappy and Cousin Eerie), the founder of the now-out-of-control monster zoo, but also bolstered by the slightly off-color humor, nonsequiturs, and cheerful anachronisms. The whole effect isn't so much Weird or New Weird, as mildly psychotronic. Take a look at this excerpt:

This image grabbed from the pdf may not do David's art justice, but it gives a good feel for his realistically rendered, portmanteau creature style, like something out of a bestiary written by William S. Burroughs. Note the irreverent stat-blocks and anachronisms in the text. This ain't serious world-building; the tagline proclaims it a "beer and pretzels" thing. Still, like Adventure Time!, its farce and anachronism hides little details dropped in passing and links between creatures that suggests there is a world there--or at least there could be. Of course, that sort of thinking will naturally come easier after a few of those beers and more than a few handfuls of pretzels.

Check it out.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Art by quiteproustian
The promiscuousness of infernal beings is well-known, so it isn't surprising that by-blows of their trysts are found among mortals. While rare in most of the world, those with infernal blood are the majority of the populous in Demonland1, a city-state across the mephitic Wastes from the Country of Sang. Why so many descendants of infernal bloodlines should be found in one place is a mystery, but perhaps the area had a sulfurous air of hominess for their grandsires and granddams.

Demonland proper is built upon a cluster of small islands in a lake formed by hot springs. The boiling, caustic, malodorous waters are a perfect defense --though they also make life less pleasant for the inhabitants. Demonland’s potable water comes from filtered rainwater collect in cisterns and also by magical purification of the water of the lake itself. The city is only accessible by boat and all goods and visitors make the trip over by ferry.

Demonland is nominally ruled by a Duke (or Duchess), and though this ruler’s power is theoretically absolute, it is most commonly exercised in throwing lavish revelries at which the true rulers of the city go masked. These princes (and their masks) represent the seven capital vices exalted in Demonlander religion and culture. The prince of each vice is officially appointed by the Duke but in practice is more or less elected by general consensus, as the Duke shrewdly defers to the inclinations of the mob. They serve for an indefinite tenure, usually a year and a day. The princes are meant to most perfectly embody their vice, and would-be candidates campaign vigorously (all except the candidates for Prince of Sloth, of course) for the title by engaging in the most audacious (and public) displays of sinfulness to capture the jaded hearts of the populous. The princes hold absolute authority with regard to the practice of the vice they personify and make legal proclamations and levy taxes or duties that might be pertinent as they see fit. They are allowed to keep a percentage of any monies collected for themselves.

Diabolism is the state religion of Demonland. It inverts the morality of most human faiths, promoting vice and condemning virtue. Self-interest and the pursuit of pleasure are valued over altruism and self-denial; Greed and vanity are extolled, and charity and modesty condemned. Demonlanders, however, are only a trifle less likely to fall short of the ideals of their faith than folk elsewhere, so their practice of immorality is as prone to lapses as the practice of morality in other lands.

Art by Arthur Asa
1. The correct demonym is "Demonlander." Never call a Demonlander a "demon" as this is both inaccurate and rude. "Tiefling" is just as bad.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wednesday Comics: The Multiversity

"House of Heroes"
The Multiversity #1 (October 2014), Written by Grant Morrison; Art by Ivan Reis & Joe Prado

The release of DC Comics' The Muliversity #1 a couple of weeks a go seems like a good reason to take a short break from the examination of older comics and dig into something new. The Multiversity throws out a lot of characters in one issue. Here's a rundown of the major ones:

Nix Uotan (Superjudge; the last Monitor)
First Appearance: Countdown to Final Crisis #21
Last Previous Appearance: Final Crisis #7
By the end of Final Crisis, Nix Uotan was the last surviving Monitor and had been reborn in a human male body on another Earth. Apparently, he's still doing the good work of the Overmonitor, protecting the Multiverse. Or at least trying to.
The meaning of his name: Uotan apparently comes from "Wotan", Germanic god of writing and learning among other things. All the Monitors in Final Crisis have modified names of gods with a similar portfolio. "Nix" is colloquial English meaning "to put an end to" something. Nix plays a role in doing just that with the other Monitors.

Thunderer, Earth-7
First Appearance: The Multiversity #1
Thunderer is an Aboriginal Thor stand-in on an Earth that resembles the Marvel Universe. He's the last survivor of his world, which was decimated by the Gentry.
The meaning of his name: He's the superhero version of Wondjina, the cloud and rain spirits.

Superman of Earth -23
First Appearance: Final Crisis #7
Last Previous Appearance: Action Comics (2011 series) #9
President of the United States, Calvin Ellis, is also Kalel last survivor of Vathlo Island on the doomed planet Krypton. On Earth-23, the majority of the superheroes are of African descent or resemble sub-Saharan Africans.

Captain Carrot, Earth-26
First Appearance: The New Teen Titans (1980 series) #16 (insert)
Last Previous Appearance: Final Crisis #7
Captain Carrot (Rodney Rabbit) is a a sort of Superman analog on Earth-C (pre-Infinite Crisis), a world populated by cartoony, anthropomorphic animals (and obeying the laws of "cartoon physics"). Captain Carrot references meeting Superman before, which happened in Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! #1.

The Retaliators, Earth-8
First Appearance: (pre-New 52 as the Champions of Angor) Justice League of America (1960 series) #87; (current version) The Multiversity #1
Last Previous Appearance: (as the Meta-Militia) Countdown Presents: Lord Havok and the Extremists #6
A Pastiche of Marvel, specifically the Avengers--and as such, they also resemble the heroes of Earth-7 (there's a Wandjina the Thunderer here, too). These characters first appeared as Marvel stand-ins from the world of Angor. In Final Crisis, characters resembling the Champions of Angor (called the Meta-Militia) and their enemies, the Extremists, existed on Earth-8. In The Multiversity, they've undergone another mild revision to become the Retaliators.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Lady or the Tiger

Our WaRP Weird Adventures game resumed yesterday and found our heroes re-united, but no closer to finding Urst's treasure. As an eldritch darkness seemed to be growing in the shadowy corners of the upstairs, they decide to make a hasty retreat to the downstairs and recover Rue's body--and maybe reintegrate her spirit.

It's not going to be so easy. When they get back to the rectory, the cat-headed man is leaning against the dying table near Rue's body, smoking a cigarette. He's with his apartment cronies: Camilla, the card-sharp and the Ogre in women's clothes. The man gives his name as Bagh. He says he's an associated of Urst's. He's been trapped in the mansion since Urst's death and he needs to snowglobe to get out.

The gang is disinclined to give it to them. He tells them to think it over, and says he meet them later in the gameroom. Rue is impatient to get her body back. She makes a run for it, using her ghost abilities to take a big flying leap toward it. Bagh suddenly transforms from a cat-headed man in a fez and a natty suit into a giant anthropomorphic tiger. He grabs Rue's spirit and pulls her off her body.

The others come rushing to help her. Gossamer (the Ogre) rushes to meet them. Rob dodges Gossamer's charge. Jacques runs past them to grab Camilla. Pao shoots Bagh, but the bullet goes right through him.

Jacques threatens to kill Camilla if the tiger man doesn't release Rue. Bagh calls Camilla "the help" and doesn't bite. Pao threatens to destroy the snowglobe. That get's Bagh's attention--but he still throws Rue's ghostly body through the ceiling. (She lands on the second floor, feeling bruised until she recalls she doesn't have a physical body to be bruised at the moment.)

Gossamer is pummeling Rob, and Camilla has twisted free and paralyzed Jacques with a magic playing card. Going for broke, Pao throws down the snowglobe then shoots it.

Bagh arms covering his head Bagh shrinks down to human-size. He might be sobbing, but no--he's laughing. "Free!" he shouts as he turns into a shadow in the shape of a tiger and bounds up through the ceiling. On the second floor, Rue sees he past and also sees the house and his furnishings appear to be attacking him.

Rue slips through the floor back to the level where her friends are. She's just in time to see the fireplace transmogrify into a caricature of a human face--Urst's face. He thanks them for returning the snowglobe. He also says he's captured Bagh and sent him somewhere where he won't get out for another millennia or so. He returns Gossamer and Camilla to their own worlds, too. Soon he says, the house will have rotated back to the Earth of the City and our heroes can go home.

Urst explains his death was only part of a ritual to gain immortality--not bodily immortality, but immortality nonetheless. His made had actually disrupted it by stealing the snowglobe that held the central element of his soul. Now, Urst is his estate. Bagh was a demon he had enslaved back in his days as a human sorcerer.

Urst allows them to leave the house with a letter to take to his dishonest lawyers that started this whole thing. When they do so, the lawyer's write them each a check for $2000 from Urst's account. Then, as they pour over the fine print, they disintegrate for the eyes of our protagonists.