Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fury Rails

In the wastes of the old world, poisoned and drained of life, the first, true Barons built the railways between what settlements remained, taking the last scraps of the old industry in their grasps and empires. They are gone now, too, and only petty tyrants and poisoned-brained madmen remain. The deserts have grown even harsher and strange monsters lurk in their sands. The railways--those rusting few that remain--are the only way through. Civilization clings to them. Despite road agents, psychotic tribesmen, and giant beasts, the trains have got to keep rolling.

Take the post-apocalyptic cultures and aesthetic of Mad Max 2: Road Warrior and Mad Max: Fury, but make it a little less 1980s and a little more 1880s, and combined the burrowing monsters and extensive railways of Mieville's Railsea. Season to taste with The Hills Have Eyes and Spaghetti and Acid Westerns, and you've got a kickass campaign setting, I think.

Friday, May 29, 2015

More Strange Stars Art--And A Question

Here's another piece of art by the guy who has done more than anyone to define the look of the Strange Stars universe, David Lewis Johnson. We see Zao Pirates pursue a vessel, but finding that their prey-to-be has friends.

In other news, I've been thinking about doing some collections of back posts (like Jack did with his Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque books) and make them available as pdf and maybe POD. While they're all here on the blog, people seem to like compilations quite a bit and in fairness, with 1440 posts, finding things or reading a series of posts isn't always convenient.

So if you have any thoughts on that, let me know.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Back to the Strange Stone Age

Or maybe forward to a remote future? Whichever, it's a time where prehistoric humans do battle with monsters--both known to history and unknown--and with incursion of aliens or ultraterrestrials, part Kirby and part von Däniken. The actions of the aliens create sores in the skin of reality where the normal laws are warped and disrupted.

Some humans have benefited (or so they believe) from alien technology and even interbreeding. They view themselves as superior to the others and hunt them for slaves--or worse. But humans have allies, too: the gregarious Small-Folk (Halflings, pakuni, homo florensis), the hardy and aloof Stone Folk (dwarves, T'lan Imass, Neanderthals). And then there are the spirits, made stronger since the aliens rent holes in reality, with whom the shamans intercede through the use of sacred, hallucinogenic technologies--their "passkeys" into the operating system of the universe.

Comics: Devil Dinosaur, Tor, Tragg and the Sky-Gods, Henga (Yor), Turok, anything New Gods by Kirby or Morrison (for the "magic as technology" aspect).
Fiction: Karl Edward Wagner's Kane stories (mainly the implied pseudo-scientific background), Manly Wade Wellman's Hok, Roadside Picnic (the portrayal of zones and alien artifacts)
"Nonfiction": alien abduction stuff and forteana, "forbidden history" stuff, Chariots of the Gods.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Marvel Apocalypses

Continuing my review of post-apocalyptic comics with Marvel's contributions to the genre:

What's the Apocalypse? Not entirely clear, but evidently a coup by Roxxon Oil followed by war.
Who are the heroes? Luther Manning aka Deathlok, a cyborg.
Where can you read it? Deathlok the Demolisher: The Complete Collection.

What's the Apocalypse? An alien invasion (from Mars) in 2001.
Who are the heroes? Killraven and his companions, freedom fighters against Martian rule.
Where can you read it? Essential Killraven volume 1.

Planet of the Apes
What's the Apocalypse? A nuclear war.
Who are the heroes? Time-displayed astronauts, a human named Jason and an ape named Alexander.
Where can you read it? back issues only. Or here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

More Sample Strange Stars Pages

Lester B. Portly sent me several more chapters from John Till's Strange Stars Fate this weekend. Here's the first page of the draft for the "Threats" chapter featuring art by Adam Moore, where the usual suspects appear (the ssraad, ksaa, and the Vokun and the Zao Pirates), but also some you might not immediately think of: a modified clone of Hannibal Early, a renegade thrax, and a blesh master criminal.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Salem and Threefold Alignment

Salem season 2 is on now (subtitled, "Witch War" according to wikipedia, which fits the lurid tone perfectly, so I'm disappointed they don't use it in advertising). Watching the conflict between the forces of the oppressive, conformist Christian Orthodoxy and the ruthless witches, out to steal the new world for themselves (and their dark master), it's interesting how both sides are presented as having legitimate grievances and a legitimate point of view. Both sides are also guilty depravity, harming innocents, and using the end to justify the means.

Though neither God or Satan has directly opined on the actions of their supposed agents but if we take the obviously real nature of witchery and the claims of its adherents and enemies as fact, then the with-hunters and Christian majority map to the Lawful side of things and the witches map to Chaos. Both show evidence of behaviors we might call "evil" and (less commonly) "good", so those are largely not of concern to the factions, just like they aren't in old school D&D alignment.

There is also a Neutral faction. Petrus the Seer wields magically powers and is most often seen helping the witches but doesn't appear to be one of them. The Native Americans likewise have magical traditions with real power but they are opposed to the witches. The tribes and their beliefs are also condemned by by the Salem Christian establishment.

So, there you go. All and all, a good example of threefold alignment in action.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Strange Stars: Trouble with 'Bots

I figured it was time for another tease of the (limited) number of new pieces of art that will appear in the Strange Stars gamebooks. This one is by Adam Moore, who Weird Adventures fans may remember from this great illustration.

I hope you guys dig it as much as I do.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Comics Apocalypses

There have been a lot of post-apocalyptic comics. (I've covered several before on this blog, in fact!) Over the next installments, I won't to point out the various post-apoc comics in print somewhere besides the back issue bin (and maybe a few that are only there). We'll start with DC:

Atomic Knights
What's the apocalypse? "The Hydrogen War," October 1986.
Who are the heroes? The Atomic Knights who wear armor from the Middle Ages and ride giant mutant Dalmatians to help rebuild society and right wrongs.
Where can you read it? Atomic Knights (hardcover), Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster (soft cover, b&w).

What's the Apocalypse? The Great Disaster, the nature of which is unspecified.
Who are the heroes? The Last Boy on Earth (Kamandi) and his friends and allies, who fight weird mutant animal cultures and other oddities.
Where can you read it? Kamandi Omnibus vol. One and Two

Hercules Unbound
What's the Apocalypse? A nuclear war
Who are the heroes? Hercules and his teen friends fighting Ares and his minions.
Where can you read it? Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster

What's the Apocalypse? A limited nuclear war ca. 2045.
Who are the heroes? Jonah Hex (the Old West anti-hero) brought to future.
Where can you read it? In back issues only, alas.

What's the Apocalypse? "The Blight", an ecological disaster. Then the creatures of myth and magic return.
Who are the heroes? Prosper Monday and other human survivors in world overrun by creatures from myth and legend.
Where can you read it? Starting with Hinterkind vol 1: The Waking World

Y: The Last Man
What's the Apocalypse? A genetic plague that wipes out almost everyone with a Y chromosome in July of 2002.
Who are the heroes? Yorick Brown, the last man, and his monkey Ampersand.
Where can you read it? Starting with Y: The Last Man Book One

Monday, May 18, 2015

White Star

While I toil away at getting Strange Stars Fate ready to go, Mike aka Wrathofzombie continues to throw out quick adaptations of Strange Stars stuff to other systems. This time, he's statted some of the sophont clades for the new OSR sensation White Star .

Check out what Mike's done here!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ursoid Mutant Dunes

Saw Mad Max: Fury Road this weekend and got a hankering for post-apocalyptic gaming? I've got just the thing for a Mutant Future or Gamma World mini-sandbox: do a bit of reskinning on Chris Kutalik's Slumbering Ursine Dunes (if you don't have copy--well, it's available now.)  Here's some thoughts on changing the basic setup.

Out in the desert, there's an ancient rune and a crashed alien spacecraft, slowly burning holes in reality itself.

The Background as Only the GM Knows It
Milt Grisley was an underground cartoonist who got his chance to sell out in the eighties. His Sleepy Beartm character went from counter-culture anti-hero to toyetic, afernoon cartoon pitch-man--and made Grisley rich in the process. Theme parks followed--the one outside of Las Vegas was the biggest, Once Grisley was well into Howard Hughes level eccentricity, he even had a futuristic, planned community built nearby. It was going to be a utopia in the desert run by a super-conputer and thoroughly Sleepy Bear-branded. Then the bombs dropped.

The super-computer has grown more self-aware over the centuries--and also crazier. It thinks it's the real Sleep Bear, now. Its public face is one of the old animatronic, amusement park bears. Somewhere along the way, a tribe of mutated ursoids found it (perhaps following the old signs emblazoned with Sleepy Beartm) and now worship it like a god, following the computer's every command no matter how ridiculous.

They bothered no one. They even allowed some humans to settle nearby. Everything was fine until the crash. A saucer full of Greys, sliding across dimensions, went down in the desert near the installation. Maybe it had something to do with a top secret military installation the government never officially acknowledged that was hidden near Bear Town, or maybe it was just a freak coincidence. Whatever the cause, crash it did, and its reality-shifting engines went critical, dumping their cosmomorphic fuel all over the landscape, turning everything weird...

So, hopefully the recastings are clear: Medved is the super-computer whose avatar is an animatronic cartoon bear. The Eld are Greys and their golden barge is a big saucer (don't worry about the different deckplans. It's weird on the inside.) The Weird is created by spaceship fuel. Ondrej is probably a mutant shark and cartoonish pirate, holed up in the pirate island in the middle of the brackish and radioactive artificial lake in the amusement park.

See, not so hard? I'll let you take it from there. Make your own adventure in the Mutants Dunes.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Zonal Aberrations

Aberrations (not to be confused with the D&D monster type) are a type of hazard encountered in zones. The resemble mobile anomalies in some ways, but they exhibit wider patterns of behavior, resembling (at least in limited observation) living things. They are abiologic, however; their tissues (if they have them at all) appear undifferentiated to close inspection, or they may have simulacra of organs that are clear nonfunctional. They do not appear to eat, grow, or reproduce, though they sometimes mimic behaviors associated with these activities. They can not be destroyed or driven off by "wounding" them (in most cases, it's unclear if they can be wounded) but must be completely destroyed.

Aberrations have a substance (similar to the manifestations of anomalies), a behavior pattern, and effects/abilities. A lot of D&D monsters would make good inspiration for aberrations. So are some paranormal or folkloric entities but keep in mind in their game usage they are more like obstacles or traps than monsters to be fought. Slimes and oozes are good models. You could destroy them, but it's generally more fruitful to just avoid them.

Unlike most anomalies, aberrations can spot/notice things approaching them as well as being noticed themselves--though the sensory modality by which they do this isn't clear. They are not usually as tied to as specific an area as anomalies, but most will have a specific territory, in the way an animal might.

1  Apparition
2  Construct
3  Crystalline/Mineral
4  Flesh
5  Fluid
6  Gas
7  Growth
8  Light
9  Ooze/Slime/Gelatinous
10 Shadow

1  Ambusher. Lies in wait, sometimes in a dormant or indolent state, until approached.
2  Builder. Involved in some sort of construction project like a nest or nonrepresentational sculpture.
3  Chaser. After detecting target, follows targets at a high rate of speed.
4  Collector. Forages for particular objects or objects with particular characteristics.
5  Follower. Loosely joins with the target, following at a respectful distance without overt hostility.
6  Guard. Only active in a certain area. Patrols and menaces those who enter.
7  Harbinger. Appearance precedes some other event.
8  Lurker. Follows targets, but furtively, as if shy.
9  Mimic. Seems to repeat the actions or behaviors of a target.
10 Ritualist. Performs certain fairly complicated but perhaps mundane actions over and over.
11 Swarm. Smaller entities surround targets.
12 Snooper. Curious, possibly annoyingly and intrusively so, but not threatening.
13 Stalker. After detecting target, hunts it over distances.
14 Watcher. Stays in plan view, but at some remove as if only there to observe. No direct interaction.

Effects: Use the table for Zonal Anomalies--or borrow from a monster.

chasing shadow: Too thick and deep black to be natural, the chasing shadow is nevertheless able to lurk unseen in normal darkness. It slides out of hiding when a living thing draws near, and if not stopped, attaches itself to them at their feet like a normal shadow--though does not also flow out in the same direction as the natural one. It slowly begins to crawl up the victims body and if not stopped, will cover a person complete in darkness in 20-30 hours. Over the next 30-45 minutes it will contort and collapse their body until only the flat shadow remains. What happens to the victim is unknown. If caught early, the shadow can be removed but only if the victim is surrounded by bright light and a small laser (like a laser pointer, for example) is used carefully "cut" away from the chasing shadow.

grim: Something like the featureless, white quadrupedal shape, surrounded by blotchy redness, like the silhouette of a large dog outlined in red spray paint. Grims simply appear on high ground, never approaching, and retreating if they are approached. They usual appear after someone has been seriously wounded, and Zone hunters fear them as a harbinger of death.

memory flashes: Groups of will-o'-the-wisp-like flashes of light with colorful after-images. They move quickly to swarm around a person, typically for no more than a minute. After the flashes pass, a person so caught will have one or more new memories of things that happened to someone else instead of them. They will also likely notice at some point that one or more of their own memories are missing--always small, discrete things, but perhaps important (like a telephone number of the location of something).

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Brawl with the Burly Brothers

My group met with everyone present for the first time in several months this past weekend to revisit the Land of Azurth and deal with those blackguard Burly Brothers in their former prison hulk hideout. Skim the former posts to get up to speed.

So, the Burly Brothers are holed up on the lower deck. All their henchmen are dead or fled, but the Brothers still have the Lardafan Vagrant-Ambassador Lumpley Gritz and his monkey Mister Jip in their meaty grasp.

The Brothers want to negotiate the parties' withdrawal, but our heroes are having none of it. Cully, the bard, goes in to check the safety of the ambassador (and use a sleep spell to secure his release) but gets buffaloed by a Burly and the spell just puts the ambassador to sleep. Negotiations are over!

The odds aren't in the Burly Brothers' favor, but they're bruisers of ogrish size, so they can take a lot of punishment--and dish it out. The Erkose the Fighter and Waylon the Frogling join Cully the Bard in unconsciousness. Kairon the Warlock and Shae the Ranger keep the ranged attacks going, but for a while it doesn't seem like they're going to be able to hold out. Luckily, Dagmar the Cleric is able to sneak around and apply some healing spells and pass some healing berries. Waylon gets a surprise attack on Brother M'Gog and finishes him.

Brother Goofus goes into a killing frenzy and charges into melee range with Shae, he's put down too. After a long battle, the Burly Brothers and their organization are no more.

The gang scavenges the ship for treasure. Among a reasonable hall of silver, they find an usual item that appears magical:

They plan to visit the Queen Azura and let the Queen of the Floating World, Calico Bonny know they've taken out her rival, then see if they can get an audience with the Clockwork Princess Viola to find out about the mysterious item.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Warlord Wednesday: They Keep Killing Travis Morgan

Convergence #5 came out last week and it continues a story featuring Skartaris and a lot of the characters from the Warlord series--including Travis Morgan, who has you may recalled, died and was replaced by his son. Joshua the Warlord is no where in evidence here and Travis Morgan is quickly killed again by Deimos:

Machiste and Tara are also killed in what's either the eliminating of minor characters to artificially raise the stakes or clearing the dead wood of characters they aren't planning on using again. Either way, it's sloppily done not just because of the continuity flubs mentioned above, but because the writer doesn't seem to have read many (if any) Warlord comics. He has everybody (including his mate, Tara!) call him "Warlord" something that was rarely if ever done in the comics and certainly not his close friends or longterm enemy.

It's a nice looking book, though, with art by Kubert and Hope:

Monday, May 11, 2015

Random Zonal Anomalies

Anomalies are small, discrete areas of reality distortion within a Zone. There appear to be a finite number of stereotyped distortions so similar if not identical types of anomalies have been observed in different Zones. Inspired by the means of anomaly creation in the Stalker rpg, I created a series of random table to provide a sketch of an anomaly that can then be filled in with more detail.

Anomalies are described in broad terms by their mobility, manifestation, and effect. Mobility is whether the anomaly stays in one place or moves, though different anomalies might have different types of motion (blown by the wind, moves toward living things, etc.) that should be considered by the GM. Manifestation determines how the anomaly is detected--and hopefully avoided. The exact distance away from an anomaly at which it can be detected will obviously vary, but will always be soon enough it can be avoided, if the anomaly is stationary and the explorers are attentive. Finally, effect is what it does to someone unluck enough to enter the anomaly. Note that effect and manifestation are not necessarily linked, but often are (i.e. an anomaly detected by heat will probably burn, but this isn't an absolute).

Mobility (d6)
1-4    Stationary
5-6    Moving

Manifestation (d20)
1.  Air Movement: Detritus circling in a dust devil; an unusual breeze.
2.  Cold: Chill radiates or a frigid wind blows; things in the environment frost over or freeze.
3.  Color: Objects look like their photographic negatives; kaleidoscopic waves of color wash over surfaces.
4.  Crystal: Formations, accretions or boxwork on surfaces; a dust devil of shimmering and cutting tiny shards.
5.  Distortion: A shimmering like heat haze; like looking through someone else's glasses.
6.  Electric: static electricity in the air; St, Elmo's fire dancing on surfaces.
7.  Emotion: Most will be negative, but not always: a deep sadness washes over anyone near, accompanied by vivid, painful memories; a profound feeling of oneness with the universe, that leaves a sense of loss in its wake.
8.  Gas: an unusual cloud, mist, or fog.
9.  Growth: A material covering resembling grass, fungi, cobwebs, hair or even flesh.
10. Heat: A hot wind or the feeling of walking into an oven;  objects are hot, the grounded scorched.
11. Illusion: A mirage of a person or object; a vision of another place or time.
12. Intuition: The anomaly is invisible, but you know somehow that it's there. A gut feeling.
13. Light: Flickering, dancing sparks or flashes; odd illumination like an unseen spotlight.
14. Magic: Much like an Intuition manifestation, but only detectable by those mystically attuned.
15. Pain: The feeling of pinpricks up and down a limb; an intense headache.
16. Shadow: An unusual darkness; vague shapes flicker and dance as if in firelight.
17. Smell: The stench of wet hair burning; a hint of cinnamon in the air.
18. Sound: A loud clap of thunder; the scream of the last victim playing over and over.
19. Taste: A metallic sensation like blood; an intense sourness.
20. Transparency: An object or figure appears to be made of glass or a ghostly afterimage.

Note: It is possible for more than one manifestation to be associated with an anomaly.

Sample Effects (d100)
1-4:     Accelerating  Objects passing through have a tremendous increase in velocity.
5-8:     Aging
9-12:   Burning
13-16: Corrosive
17-20: Crippling  Causes damage to a particular organ or part of the body without physical signs: blindness, deafness, paralysis of a limb.
21-24: Crushing  Like drastically increased gravitation or an invisible force striking the object.
25- 28: Deccelerating  Objects, even sound, are decreased in velocity.
29-32: Dissolving  An object begins to liquify--either fast or slow, depending on the anomaly.
33-36: Disintegrating
37-40: Entrapping  An object is trapped/entangled in energy or some physical manifestation.
41-44: Freezing  Sudden, flash freeze.
45-48: Hallucinogenic
49-52: Halting  A stasis field of some sort causes object or people to be stopped  and held in place.
53-56: Magnetic  Ferromagnetic objects are pulled into the anomaly. Electrical devices may malfunction.
57-60: Mutagenic
61-64: Necrotizing  Living things develop dead areas in exposed skin; objects begin to decay or degrade.
65-69: Penetrating  High velocity projectiles or invisible force strike objects that enter.
70-73: Petrifying
74-76: Psychic  Has effects like a psionic attack, leading to neurologic disorder or development of mental illness.
77-78: Reanimating  Dead things are brought back to life--either as fully living beings or undead.
79-81: Restoring  Dysfunctional objects are or organisms are returned to normal function.
82-85: Suffocating
86-90: Lacerating
91-94: Levitating  Things float as if weightless at a height that varies with different anomalies.
95-97: Throwing  Things are hurled in one specific direction with force.
98-00: Transporting Teleports a person or object entering to a different location.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Into the Zone

Images from a post-apocalyptic setting about exploration, strange artifacts, and even stranger threats, following up on this post.

Nomads, all mutated by one degree or another by Zone radiation to, roam the wastes.

Before the War, the Zones were only officially entered by teams in protective gear. These days, the average Zone Scavenger is more cavalier.

A community living on the periphery of a Zone manages to salvage and reprogram an old, alien, "Bigfoot" surveillance robot.

An encounter with an emergent techno-organic intelligence. If not completely hostile, neo-intelligences of this sort often wind up being worshiped as gods by superstitious tribes.

A well-equipped team encounters a gestalt-mind organism composed of alligators in the Southern swamplands.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

An Introduction to the Elementals of Subazurth

The primal elements of Subazurth are not the same as in the Land of Azurth above, though why this is so is not entirely clear. Perhaps they represented altered or tainted refuse from the creation of Azurth by the giant crystal gnome, Gob, under the direction of the Lady Azulina. Here are the elements as found in the world beneath the world:

Art by Juan Diego Dianderas
Ooze/Slime:It's elementals are slimes or jellies. The viscous, semi-liquid Kingdom of Oozurth with its laminar fiefdoms connects to bubbling Lake Ooze,

Crystal: It's elementals are fae folk composed of gem or crystal. It intrudes upon the environs of Troglopolis as the Crystal Forest.

Magma: It's elementals are various fae folk composed of lava or magma. It's people are kept out of the upper levels of Subazurth for the trouble they cause, however innocently.

Art by Valterri
Dust: It's elements tend to be indolent folk, resting as often as they cane, though some cause mischief as swirling dust devils. They lay claim to unused caverns, but their primary habitat is the air itself beyond many a yawning precipe.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Fallen Angels

I ran across a copy of the Fallen Angels collection for a great price this weekend. I was not particularly surprised to see it on discount. Few older comics readers probably remember it, and few younger readers are likely intrigued by an obscure limited from the late 80s. I think they're missing out, but then I'd probably by a Steeltown Rockers collection, too, so make of my judgement what you will.

So, for the uninitiated, Fallen Angels was an 8 issue limted series from Marvel written by Jo Duffy and drawn by Kerry Gammill, Marie Severin and Joe Staton. It was originally going to be called The Misfits and house ads use that name up until right before the release. It tells the story of a team (maybe more of a social group) forming from a group of disparate, predominantly young characters.

First there's a group of super-powered young thieves that Vanisher is playing Fagin to: cyborg Gomi with his cybernetically enhanced lobsters Bill and Don, Ariel with teleportation powers, and Chance with the ability to randomly enhance or limit other people's powers. Add to that crew the (relatively) bigger-named young mutants Sunspot and Boom-Boom, and throw in Multiple Man and Siryn for good measure. Finally--and this is the real wildcard--mix in Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy.

What do they do? Well, they hangout. They have misadventures. Learn some lessons--like not to trust Vanisher, who's really more laughable than a serious threat. They also get shanghaied to Ariel's strange home dimension Coconut Grove, but manage to evade becoming test subjects.

It's hard to know what Duffy was going for here. There doesn't seem to be a strong rationale for this particular group of characters. But it's pretty well done, and has a quirky charm about it. It's worth checking out.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Science Fiction Month Sale

May is Science Fiction Month on Rpgnow and Drivethrurpg. The *Strange Stars* pdf is one of the great science fiction titles at 15% off.

Need more convincing? Check out this new review.

Also, check out The Manor #8 (coming out later this week) for a Strange Stars feature!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Your Own Cinematic Universe

I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron this weekend and my short review is: it's good. I'm slightly troubled by the degree setting up future films and dealing with "universe" concerns are becoming more and more a part of the Marvel cinematic experience, while perhaps paradoxically also miffed they seem to drop plot threads from previous films. These are small concerns, though. I didn't seriously impair my enjoyment.

I had some game related thoughts after the movie--and maybe this is something everyone else thought of a long time ago and only my comic-centric thinking has kept me from considering it. As I mentioned last week, superhero games are potentially bedeviled by the problems of all licensed property games: fan-players' knowledge and connection to canon, and on the other side of the coin, inaccessibility or at least a steep learning cover for newcomers.

Movies and animation all have to deal with that second problem (They have the first too in a way, but that crowd is much smaller for them.) and they get around it by creating their own universe, by picking and choosing from the existing mythology. Since anyone's in-game version of a comic book universe winds up being an alternate universe anyway, why not make it one from the start? To me, this sort of seems like the best option for getting the advantage of a established universe while having a good deal of creative freedom and not have to sweat your player's knowledge of the comics.

One final note: comics rpgs haven't completely ignore other media, but they tend to focus on trying to recreate the feel of certain other media adaptations rather than the continuity aspects I'm talking about. There haven't been any such supplements for licensed rpgs as far as I know.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Rumored Mysteriarchs of Zed

As their name should suggest, little is known of those great magi, the Mysteriarchs of Zed, and this is presumably the way they prefer it. Even great wizards are powerless before rumor and tale-telling, however, and so the names of some alleged members of that shadowy assemblage are widely whispered in the Land of Azurth:

art by Francisco Segura
The Great Enigma may or may not have ascended to a higher plane to compare his knowledge with that of more potent beings than humanity, or perhaps he lingers awhile yet to train worthy apprentices. He has placed himself under a peculiar geas wherein in a challenge he will only cast any spell his opponent hasn't thought of yet, but none that they have.

Art by Algosky
Agar the Green holds unorthodox theories about slime and its place among the primordial elements. He makes a study of various slimes, oozes and jellies, and spends much of his time in a semi-viscid form to aid his research. Some of his colleagues suggest he has even sought the lubricous embrace of Jellia, the Gelatine Princess of the Ooze Folk, but such matters are scarcely the topic of polite conversation.

art by Moebius
Generys the White is said to have lived half her life in the realm of dreams, and this has made her cold and cruel in her affairs in the mundane world. She knows secrets that are only shared in dreams and the making of potions that aid either forgetfulness or memory. Any gift of a jewel or precious stone from her is to be avoided at all costs, but must be refused politely.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Another Head of the Hydra

As mentioned by Chris Kutalik on his blog earlier this week, I've joined forces with the Hydra Cooperative. You already know Hydra, of course, from the very successful Kickstarter and release of Slumbering Ursine Dunes. I've worked with Hydra on some of the stretch goals (soon to be released!) for Dunes, so in addition to knowing the members socially from G+ and the blogosphere, I also know they are a creative bunch of guys and dedicated to turning out great rpg projects. I don't mind admitting that after the grueling last few miles in the marathon that was Strange Stars, I was considering taking a looonnng break from indie publishing after I got the gamebooks out. Working with Hydra has given me a bit of a rejuvenation.

So it seems natural to merge my Armchair Planet storefront with Hydra's. This will give them a higher profile and given customers one place to go to get all of our products.  Like what, you ask? Well, Strange Trails--my pre-Weird Adventures free pdf is already there. So is Mike Davison's feudal Japan-tinged old retro-clone, Ruins & Ronin, and a host of Hill Cantons-related goodies. And that's just the beginning. A Hydra website is in the works, but for now, check out the G+ forum for updates.