Sunday, July 31, 2016

Star Trek Beyond

I finally got around to seeing Star Trek Beyond this weekend and I would agree with the assessment that it is an improvement over the last NuTrek film, and possibly the most Classic Star Trek in vibe of the bunch. It's certainly as "trekky" as most of the Next Generation era films.

Things I really liked:
- Several Explicit references to Enterprise. Enterprise-era technology comes into play, we see Enterprise-era uniforms, and the Xindi War is referenced.
- The design of the Yorktown Starbase and the swarm nature of Krall's fleet are a departure from anything we've seen in Star Trek before, true, but they're good visuals and good sci-fi, expanding the possible of the Star Trek universe. They also would fit really well in Strange Stars.
- Shohreh Aghdashloo from The Expanse in a small role as a Starfleet Admiral. Perhaps it was a bit of stunt-casting given her role in another science fiction series or maybe not, but at any rate she was a good choice.

Things they continue to be solid with NuTrek films:
- All the main cast members get something to do, and the actors are good in the roles.
- Good action sequences (and better than the last film) and good pacing.
- If you've got to destroy the Enterprise, this film does it in a reasonably gripping and spectacular way.

Things I didn't like:
- I thought the uniforms in NuTrek were great. The change isn't terrible, but it's a step down for me.
- A whole bunch of aliens in multiple scenes but never any we've seen before. (Old Trek films are guilty of this same thing, though.) Would it kill 'em to show me an Andorian or Tellarite?

Dangling Questions:
- What is the "in story" reason that Krall and his cronies' true identities were obscured? Was it purposeful or a by-product of their life extension somehow?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Mutants of the Forbidden Zone

(Medium humanoid)
AC 10
Hit Points: 11 (2d8+2)
Speed: 30 ft.
STR 10(+0) DEX 10(+0) CON 12(+1) INT 19(+4) WIS 14(+2) CHA 14(+2)
Skills  Insight +8
Senses passive Perception 12
Languages telepathy 120 ft.; Common

Mental Powers. A mutant has the equivalent of innate spellcasting based on Intelligence (save DC XX). They can utilize the following abilities:

At will: detect thoughts, dissonant whispers, dominate person
1/day: equivalent of phantasmal killer, clairvoyance

Combined Illusions. Three or more mutants working in concert (all concentrating) can great large scale illusions over long distances less than 5 mi.) similar to arcane mirage, hallucinatory terrain, or programmed illusion. Saving throws are the same as if one Mutant were creating them.

Melee weapion--though Mutants tend to rely on mental powers.

The Mutants are a sect of humans living in the Forbidden Zone, in the underground ruins beneath what was once Manhattan. Exposure to radiation has led them to develop powerful psionic abilities but scarred features that they hide beneath human masks.

Mutants claim to be pacifists. There primary means of defense is not direct confrontation, but keeping enemies away. The stats above present an "average" psionically talented mutant. A guard would have slightly more robust physical abilities.

Some reports suggest the Mutants are able to mind control people over great distances as well as project illusions. Like the illusion powers, this is likely done by groups working together.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Go Ape with 5e

As presented in the original films, the apes are fairly un-ape-like in characteristics (because of course, they are played by people in masks, but that’s beside the point). Taking what we see on screen and what we are told of ape history as true, we may assume they have been genetically modified/selectively bred to something closer to a australopithecine morphology. They don’t possess the long upper limbs and associated strength, relatively stronger jaws, or opposable great toes of modern apes.

Ability score increase. +1 to any two abilities of their choice.
Speed. The apes of POTA are more bipedal than extant apes, but their foot structure still doesn't appear to be as optimized for upright walking as a humans, and they tend to have a stooped posture. Base walking speed is 25.
Grounded. For whatever reason, apes are less susceptible to illusions and mind control. They have an advantage on saving throws to resist such attacks or attempts at subterfuge.
Keen Nose. Proficiency in smell-related Perception checks.


Ability score increase. +1 Intelligence.
Studious. Gain proficiency in either one Intelligence or Wisdom skill, or a tool proficiency.

Ability score increase. +1 Strength.
Menacing. Gain Intimidation proficiency.

Ability score increase. +1 Charisma.
Knowledge Keeper. Gain proficiency in one Intelligence skill.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wednesday Comics: Storm: Secret of the Nitron Rays

My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Secret of the Nitron Rays (1981) (part 4)
(Dutch: Het Geheim van de Nitronstralen)
Art by Don Lawrence & Script by Dick Matena

The human traitor Benjamin again faces execution by the Azurian pirates who want to shoot him into space on what looks like a surfboard. Bitak again intervenes with her powers, explaining that if they killed him, she wouldn't have anyone to play with.

Meanwhile on Venus, Storm and Ember gear up and dive into the lake. They find the drowned ruins of the mysterious temple and the room with towering statues of Storm. Suddenly, a door in the chamber opens. The water drains from the room and it fills with air. Then:

The fishmen appear to worship Storm as the living lord of the statues. They found them when a ship crashed into their lake home. Storm theorizes that they must have been made to honor him by some weird cult after he disappeared into Jupiter (which seems a bit of a stretch, but ok).

The fishmen have a surprise for Storm and Ember. So that they can worship them forever--they plan to turn them into fishpeople! Before they can go to work, the door is blasted open and some soldiers from the surface come to the rescue. They can looking for Storm and Ember when they knew it would be time that their tanks would be running out. The fishmen are chased off.

Storm and crew return to the surface. He's got a plan to catch the Azurian pirates.


Monday, July 25, 2016

The Sacred Scrolls, Illustrated

Having watched Planet of the Apes (1968) on the big screen this weekend, I've got the PotA franchise on the brain. I've blogged before about a couple of great reference works written by Rich Handley. I discovered there's another by that same author and others: Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the Apes.

I haven't got it yet (it's on order), but it promises to cover everything from the Gold Key stuff to BOOM! Studios. As long as the story depicted on this cover gets the attention it deserves , I'll be happy:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Teasing Hubris

Mike "Wrathofzombie" Evans's successfully kickstartered campaign setting, Hubris: A World of Visercal Adventure, is set to drop in September, I believe. I've got my advanced backers copy, and if "a visceral world of adventure" is a phrase that intrigues you, I think you will want to see this.

Hubris (we're told in the intro) is a world created from the corpse of a dead god. That sort of sets the tone. It's a bit Sword & Sorcery in its underlying chassis, but its not about purple prose, instead it creates more a Heavy Metal Magazine or sensibility, with a hint of Dark Sun, maybe. I could see it easily having been illustrated by Brom, Simon Bisley or Tim Truman. We don't get either of those guys, but we get David Lewis Johnson, Jeremy Duncan, Doug Kovacs, and Jason Sholtis among others, so we weren't suffering there!

As an example of the tone, one of my favorite bits is the Murder Machine race which is sort of like the Warforged with a bit of the Kuath from Strange Stars, but more metal than either of those things by at least seventy-five percent. The write-up is accompanied by an awesome Jeremy Duncan illustration that has a badass Ian Miller vibe.

Mike used Dungeon Crawl Classics as his ruleset, which has the right vibe. There are a lot of tools here (inspired by Vornheim which is Mike's not-so-secret rpg crush) which make it usable in pieces even if you don't want to go with the whole world.

I imagine it will be up for sale once the Kickstarter has been fulfilled, so even if you didn't Kickstarter you'll have a chance to check it out.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Xmas in July and Strange Stars in Spanish

Listen to sparkly Glamdalf from the Hill Cantons and check out the sale over at Rpgnow. There's a lot of good stuff besides Hydra stuff--but there's Hydra stuff, too! Fill out your collection.

On the Hydra-related front, Strange Stars is now available in pdf in Spanish, too, as Estrellas Extrañas from Hirukoa!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Giant Space Robot, Revisited

I've been thinking about fleshing out my barebones Giant Space Robot game idea. Earth is in danger! Only intrepid human pilots controlling giant robots from space can save us! 

While we wait for me to do that, you can check out these posts on it from the past: Here's my initial sketch of the game. Here's various Godzillas statted for it. And this is a gigantic Frankenstein's monster.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Secrets of Nitron Rays

My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Secret of the Nitron Rays (1981) (part 3)
(Dutch: Het Geheim van de Nitronstralen)
Art by Don Lawrence & Script by Dick Matena

The traitor Benjamin's ship is brought down on one of the asteroids by the power of Bitak, who is now apparently working with Azurian pirates. Benjamin pleads for his life, saying he killed Mordegai (true) and he is on  the Azurian's side (a lie). The pirate leader, Fahir, lets him live for now, while they investigate his claim.

Elsewhere, an Earth reconnaissance craft encounters a vessel drifting. It has something unusual in it's hull.

A statue of Storm.

The logbook suggests the ship was from the colony on Venus. They found the statue and were bringing it to Earth when they were attacked by pirates. Storm believes the statue must be from the 21st Century as it shows him in the clothes he was wearing when he left for his mission on Jupiter. They discover the statute was found in Lake Tecumseh, the site of one of the early Terran colonies on Venus during the terraforming. Storm wants to go their to investigate.

As their ship nears the site, they see signs of battle. The pirates are attacking the scientists. Storm's approach puts the Azurians into a panic. Fahir tries to get Bitak to destroy Storm's ship, but she refuses. He slaps her and she responds:

Bitak refuses to go with the fleeing Azurians, but they hit her over the head and take her anyway. The Azurian cruiser is fired upon by an Earth star-cruiser, but Bitak uses her power to save them. The pirates are able to make their escape.

Meanwhile, Storm and Ember and helping the survivors of the pirate attack. An old man recognizes Storm from the statue. He tells Storm that children discovered it diving for stones in an old temple from the early colonization centuries ago. There was a room full of statues.

This has Storm intrigued. He decides to put on a diving suit and check it out.


Monday, July 18, 2016


by Jason Sholtis
Hohmmkudhuk* are dwarfish beings resembling bipedal anteaters whose dorsal surface is covered with over-lapping, plate-like scales similar to a pangolin's. They spend much of their life underground in great subterranean halls or warrens. They are clannish and eusocial. Each hall belongs to a Queen, though her holdings are managed by her mate or mates, the Drone-Princes, of which there may be as many as three.

Only the Queen and her consorts reproduce, the rest of the clan is made up of their siblings and children who are sterile. Children are raised communally and in the same way: they pass through a sort of apprenticeship, doing low-skilled tasks as soon as they are able, then advancing to the role of warrior, trader or artisan as they so aptitude and develop the appropriate skills.

If the Queen dies or decides it is time to create a daughter-clan, one of her female progeny becomes able to reproduce and becomes a new queen. This new Queen will have a mate from an unrelated clan. These unions are arranged to form alliances, but their is also a strong tradition of wandering male adventurers winning the heart of a young queen.

Hohmmkudhuk know the ways of the underground and the working of stone. Their magic is bent to this purpose. They personify the planet itself as a goddess.

Hohmmkudhuk Traits
Ability Score Increase. Constitution score is increased by 2 and Wisdom is increased by 1.
Alignment. Hohmmkudhuk tend toward lawfulness.
Size. Hohmmkudhuk are around 4 feet tall, but heavy for their height.
Speed. Base walking speed is 25 feet.
Darkvision. Accustom to life underground Hohmmkudhuk can see 60 feet within dim light as if it were bright light.
Natural Armor. Due to their scales, Hohmmkudhuk get a +1 bonus to Armor Class.
Resilence. Hohmmkudhuk have an advantage on saving throws against poison and resistance against poison damage.
Languages. Hohmmkudhuk can speak and read the Common language of humans. They also speak and read their on consonant-laden, rumbling tongue.

*pronounced ho-hmmm-ku-thuk, where u is as in put and th as in though.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dungeons & Stranger Things

Watching Stranger Things the very 80s horror/sci-fi Netflix series last night gave me an idea. I won't be discussing a lot of plot detials here, but I will mention some setting/situation stuff, so the absolutely spoiler averse should beware...

So strange things are afoot in a small town, that seem to involve another dimension/universe whose walls have been breached by a nefarious research organization and D&D-playing kids investigating these goings. What if the other world was something more like a "realm of Dungeons & Dragons," as the Dungeon Master in the old cartoon used to say?

Somehow (psychic powers, I'm guessing, but maybe a device), a gaming group gets transported to this parallel realm that is a distorted mirror or their home town, filled with the trapping and set-dressing of setting-nebulous D&D. Like, geographically, where the nefarious corporations facility is, there's a mountain where evil creatures dwell. The sublevels beneath the facility are (of course) dungeons. The corporations video archive room might be a forbidden library, etc. The kids aren't transported into this realm to stay, like the D&D cartoon or Joel Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame novels, but instead visit there in sessions and return to the regular mundane world at other times.

The kids are trying to solve a mystery of some sort in the real world. The forays into D&D fantasyland would need to serve this mystery somehow, allowing them to gain information or get access to places that they couldn't get to "in the real world." While the presentation would be different things would work pretty much the same as the Matrix/real world divide in the Matrix films.

You could run a campaign with two systems (or at least two settings) in tandem. The players would play kids in the real world 80s small town, but also kids playing D&D characters in a more conventional D&D game. The goal of adventuring in the D&D world would be to ultimately solve the mystery in the real world. Both worlds would be essentially mystery sandboxes.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Savage Sword of El Cid

Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, the man called El Cid, famous war leader of Medieval Spain, got the comic book treatment from in Eerie Magazine in the mid-1970s--and now a collection from Dark Horse. Though not as gonzo as the history-be-damned romp that was DC's Beowulf (where, I will remind you, Grendel battled Dracula to see who would replace Satan), it kicks history and even legend to the curb to present El Cid as Prince Valiant by way of Conan and the Medieval world as something more akin to the Hyborian Age.

While this approach is not unique in comics (Arak: Son of Thunder did a similar thing--though Thomas borrowed more from myth and legend), The approach of writer Budd Lewis and artist Gonzalo Mayo is different. Lewis tends to write it caption-heavy like a latter day Prince Valiant, albeit with more sword & sorcery paperback prose. Mayo is one of a number of Spanish artists in the Warren Magazines that look somewhat similar (and this is by no means a criticism), so if you recall Esteban Maroto's illustrations in the Ace Conan volumes, then you have the basic idea of how the world of El Cid looks. He does "homage" some poses at at times: Frazetta's ghoul queen at one point, and Racquel Welch on the this page below:

It's pretty standard 70s Sword & Sorcery stuff, but if you like that--and I know a know a number of my readers do--you should check this collection out.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Secret of the Nitron Rays

My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Secret of the Nitron Rays (1981) (part 2)
(Dutch: Het Geheim van de Nitronstralen)
Art by Don Lawrence & Script by Dick Matena

After the defeat of the Azurian fleet, the remaining Azurian colonists settle down to live together peacefully with humans. Human and Azurian children are educated together in some places. In one of these, Bitak, the girl found in the nitron caves, is at the center of some strange events. She's got telekinetic powers, apparently.

After he tells Storm, Modegai also reveals that she has a blood group rare among Azurians.He plans to visit the colony where she lives, but he is suddenly struck by a mysterious malady. Benjamin, Mordegai's assistant, is handily also a doctor. He blames it all on stress.

Storm and Ember head off the visit the colony for Mordegai, leaving the old man in Benjamin's hand, who makes some cryptic comments as they fly off.

Storm and Ember observe for themselves Bitak's powers. They plan to take her back with them so her abilities can to studied further. On the way back over the frozen sea, Bitak gets bored and decides she wants to see the moon again. Storm tells her that's impossible; the ship isn't made for that. Bitak doesn't take no for an answer:

Accelerating out the atmosphere, the three lose consciousness. Unguided, the ship is headed toward some asteroids at the Lagrange point. Luckily, they are spotted by an Azurian pirate ship hiding there. When the Storm and the others are brought aboard, Storm is recognized. The Azurians blame him for their current situation. One once to ransom him, but another decides to kill him--only to be stopped by Bitak's power:

The pirates decide Bitak is the real treasure. They put Storm and Ember back on the ship and send it toward Earth. When they try to contact Mordegai, they get Benjamin, He tells them Mordegai's condition has worsened--then tells his suboordinate an Azurian recon craft is approaching and it must be destroyed.

The fighters shoot down Storm and Ember's craft. They survive the crash, but have to walk a ways to civilization. There they are told that Benjamin had declared both of them dead, murdered by Azurian separatists, and was using that story to incite violence against Azurians.

Storm and Ember sneak into the strife-torn city by night.. They confront Benjamin who is in the act of administering poison to Mordegai. Once Balder finds the truth he's about the kill the traitor, but Benjamin bargains for his life and freedom in exchange for an antidote for Mordegai. Storm makes the deal.

Unfortunately, it's a trick. Benjamin escapes while Mordegai dies in agony after Storm administers the "antidote"--actually a fatal dose of poison.

Meanwhile,. Benjamin's craft has reached the Lagrange point. Suddenly, something pulls him off course...


Monday, July 11, 2016

Jailbreak in the Etheric Zone

In the continuation of our 5e Land of Azurth campaign, the PCs arrived at the Carnelian Hypercube, a prison for those who have committed "crimes most cosmic" disguised as bounty hunters. They were there to rescue one of the two (known) surviving Super-Wizards at the behest of the other one, Zuren-Ar. He assures them they will able to get past security whereas someone of his vast powers would not be able to.

From the PCs perspective, the hypercube looks like a regular old cube--albeit a gigantic one made of red, semi-precious stone. Every face is patrolled by giant creatures that look like spheres, sectioned like an orange, but with eyes and mouths on the faces of each section that rotate, and ten tentacles in between. These were the Decaton guardians.There eyes shot scanning beams, but the documents the PCs stole and the story they gave got them by. Zuren-Ar had halted his approach at a safe distance so as not to meet these guys.

A pyramidal creature and its one-eyed spheroid flunkies took the prisoners from them. (Including the Lagomorfan the PCs had said they would set free!) When the guards were distracted, the PCs took an a doorway to Cell Block 7. The internal geometry of the hypercube was confusing as up and down shifted between so areas, but luck for the players, they didn't need to go far.

Zuren-Ar had given them a device to locate his beloved Xura, and it led them to her cell. They had to fast-talk some guards, but they remembered Zuren-Ar's admonition to speak with authority to them and keep things simple. Confused guards tended to stop and consult others in their beeping and blipping language, usually giving our heroes time to slip away. So they found her:

by ㅇㅇ JOO
Xura Kru-Ul. She's every bit as imperious as her lover and a bit more unpleasant. Still, a job's a job, so the PCs freed her., despite the warning of the mantid humanoid in the cage next door who claimed she was worse than he was. Of course, he did admit to wiping off all the mammals on his planet. Once Xura was sprung, the guards came running, but outside of her cell, her magic worked and she was able to mass teleport them too...

Well, right in the middle of the guard pyramid, thanks to the disorienting effects of the hypercube. They faced one of the supervisors:

And it called for backup. Our heroes were in battle with at least fifteen guards of various sorts. With the luck of the dice on their side, they were able to cut through them before more reinforcements arrived, though their bard go paralyzed briefly. The group broke away with more of the guards on their heels and managed to make it out through the exit (in a way, the location of the guard pyramid proved to be a lucky break). They caught a glimpse of what might be the warden, a giant being inside a panopticon sphere:

On the outside, the decaton was moving in slooowly. It did scan them with a blast that seemed to shiver the souls of at least a few but had no visible effect.

Zuren-Ar was reunited with Xura Kru-Ul. He teleported the party back to close to the portal to Azurth in gratitude, but announced just before he did, they he and Xura were going off the found an empire.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Mall Security 2020

Let's go back to the 80s when the Soviet Union was still a thing, indoor malls were at their height, and the dystopian near future wasn't usually full of zombies.  from that early 80s mindset, imagine the world of somewhere around 2020...

The environment isn't so good. In fact, there was probably a brief nuclear exchange some time in the past decades. And an economic crisis or two. Things aren't all that bad, though. Rampant consumerism still abounds, and this guy (or his clone) is still President:

Megacorporations helped America (the world actually) out of those crisis with a leveraged buyout--a sponsorship. The Soviet Union was bought out, too, only over there in USSRtm, they offer consumers a planned community with a "Golden Age of Communism" theme. In the good ol' USA, some rednecks, religious cults, and survivalist nuts stick to the environmentally-damaged rural areas (think Mad Max meets Winter's Bone), and some wealthy folks can afford walled enclaves meant to replicate idyllic suburban life of the 20th Century with protection by real police, but most people huddle around the decaying industrial city cores in neon-lit arcologies that combine shopping and living in one. Malls.

These Malls need protecting and that's where the PCs come in as deputized corporate security officers safe guarding the 21st Century American Dream!tm from all sorts of threats to peace and prosperity: trigger-happy poli-clubs, youth gangs, subversives, and consumer products run amuck. Think Shadowrun with less punk and less cyber. And presented as a Nagel painting.

So this is American Flagg! or Judge Dredd (with more of an MTV aesthetic), influenced by any number of 70s and 80s dystopian films like Rollerball or Robocop, mostly played with the black humor of the latter. Literary sources like Shockwave Rider and Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner or some later Cyberpunk works will also be informative.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Aboard Aureate Majestrix on the Occasion of the Panarch's Anniversary

The airship Aureate Majestrix is a wonder, even by the standards of airships. It was carved by ancient hands from a single, massive stone of an unknown variety. Fitted with mirrors which serve as sails, it is pushed to its destination by concentrated magical energy beamed at it. Long ago, it was claimed by the Panarch, and now it is operated mainly to transport those of means from Imbis to the Panarch's capital. Today, it carries various dignitaries, courtiers, and seekers of influence to the celebration for the anniversary of the Panarch:

by Jason Sholtis
A hohmmkudhuk stone-shaper whose name is actually Mmungmatukt but he is not offended when called "Mung Matuk." His clan wishes to send a new Princess to establish a descendant warren in wilderness controlled by Omunth-Ech and wishes the Panarch to support their settlement. Mung Matuk bears a tableau vivant in stone that enacts a fanciful version of the Panarch's victory over the Great M'gog and the Gog Horde as a gift.

Yreul Dahut, Galardinet Officer of the Daor Obdurate armed with customary punishment rods. Her presence suggests there is a defector from her city-state's tyranny among the celebrants, and one formerly highly placed, as the Obdurs are notoriously frugal with state funds and disdain public spectacle.

Pwi dwek Abth, hwaop senior scholar sent by the Library to record the events in that pedantic and overly detailed way hwaop are famous for. He wears heavy perfume to mask his odor in deference to the "simplistic and unrefined" olfactory preferences of humans, but it is not quite sufficient to the most sensitive noses.

Zira Si, ostensibly a demimondaine in the entourage of --well, one noble or another, depending on who you ask. She is actually a powerful Green sorceress and prized agent of secretive Yzordadreth, Mountain of Wizards. When her mission is done, her confederates will swoop in under cover of darkness and spirit her away on a swift-winged and silent thrykee, and no one will remember she was ever there.

(more from this world.)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Treasures from the Sectaurs

These are model sheets for the Sectaurs cartoon. The items depicted here should had a little post-apocalyptic strangeness to any treasure haul:

Find more here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Wednesday Comics: The Secret of the Nitron Rays

My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Secret of the Nitron Rays (1981)
(Dutch: Het Geheim van de Nitronstralen)
Art by Don Lawrence & Script by Dick Matena

The Azurian Armada makes its way toward Earth, but they find the human forces ready to meet them. After a pitch battle, the Armada is defeated and many Azurian troops are captured on the battlefield of the Moon.

One of the prisoners delivers a message to Solon: It says that his parents have been taken captive if he doesn't sabotage the Earth fleet and deliver Storm to the Azurian command. Solon feels he has no choice but to do what they want.

Solon sets a bomb that destroys the fleet based on the Moon. Only one fighter remains which Storm plans to take to the Earth for reinforcements--and Solon goes with him. They have only just left when an Azurian fighter contingent strikes the room.

Balder and his men are helpless before the onslaught. They are forced to take refugee in the old Azurian nitron mines; Nitron being a precious mineral that unfortunately admits a lethal radiation that causes "nitron fever." The Earth men will rely on their spacesuits to protect them from the radiation.

In the mines, they encounter an old Azurian that quickly dies from nitron radiation and the bodies of others who have succumbed, but also:

Meanwhile, Storm has returned with the remaining fleet to find their moon base destroyed. Before Storm can land, Solon pulls a gun and forces him to set course for the Azurian base. The Earth reinforcements enter the nitron mines and aid their trapped friends in defeating the Azurian troops. In the aftermath, they decide to send the young girl they found to Earth to try and discover how she was able to survive and then put her in a foster home.

On the way to the Azurian base, Solon forces Storm from the ship, then pilots it directly into the Azurian domed command center. Somehow, Storm jetpacks back to the moon where he finds the letter and realizes why Storm did what he did. His sacrifice was not in vain. After such a blow, the Earth forces are able to rout the remaining Azurians and drive them from the inner system. The fight for Earth is ended. It is free for the first time in centuries, and Storm is hailed as a hero.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Couple of Lexicons I Forgot

When I posted about the Jack Vance Lexicon last week, Baron Opal lamented there wasn't one for Gene Wolfe--which reminded me that there was. Or more precisely, there are a couple. I figure the one most of interest to people would be the Lexicon Urthus by Michael Andre-Driussi. (The same guy responsible for GURPS New Sun, by the way.

Not exactly a lexicon, but the Burroughs Cyclopedia (which Amazon knows as the Burroughs Encyclopedia despite the name being pretty clear in the cover image) covers a whole bunch of new terminology coined by Edgar Rice Burroughs in his Tarzan, Mars, Venus, Pellucidar, etc. stories.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Four Nonhumans, Briefly Described

They are all inhabitants of the same distant world.
Art by Jason Sholtis
Ylthlaxu: There are few of them left, and for that, a great many are grateful. When they emerge from the shadows, tall and skeletally thin, too often it is to feed--and then they open the lower portion of their face that is not a face. Their tendrils snake out and devour the brains of humanoids. It is very unpleasant to see. They once commanded a vast star empire by mental domination, and they are accustom to being obeyed. They reproduce by turning other beings into more Ylthlaxu by introducing a mutagen into the bloodstream and nervous system of their victims.

Skarzg: Sometimes they run on four legs, sometimes on two. They are gaunt things, like greyhounds the size of men, if greyhounds had rubbery, scabrous hides, and beaked faces full of nightmare teeth. They are very hard to kill, and they will eat anything. They live like animals, but they have speech and are cunning and cruel.

Trell: Blueskinned, four-eyed giants from another world, the Trell came in great flying cities where the parties and symposia went on perpetually. They are now somewhat fallen and more decadent--sometimes more savage--than before. They can be hedonists or ascetics, but their personal desires tend to outweigh the desires of lesser creatures. Every non-Trell is certainly a lesser creature. In times past, they were often trendsetters and propagators of cult religions and faddish notions. Now, their dwindling race mostly keeps to their crumbling sky cities and celebrates the past.

by Ken Kelly
Ieldra: One of the native species of this world, they are now only a remnant of what they once when when their sacred groves dotted the forests and their queens fought Nest Wars for glory and territory. They remind humans of insects in many ways: antennae, large eyes, and peculiar movements.  Ieldra may be immortal, and their life stages are marked by instars named for the seasons. Summer wildings, their honey-colored adolescents, are savage things left to hunt and laugh and sometimes kill in what sacred groves and hidden grottoes are left to them. They seldom work stone or metal, but instead shape living things.