Monday, August 19, 2019

Weird Revisted: The Weird Frontier

The original version of this post first appeared in 2010. I've revisited it from slightly different angles a couple of times since.
 

This cover deserves to be the basis of an rpg setting.

Well, maybe not just this cover all on its own, but the crazy idea it and the series (Tomahawk) it's a part of suggests (at least to me)--namely, combining the James Fenimore Cooper-style frontier tale with fantasy. Transplanting the whole civilization-against-the-wilderness thing to a colonial pseudo-America.

It’s almost completely unmined territory. It’s only been sort of attempted once, as far as I know--Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker series does early nineteenth century fantasy in an alternate North America. Sure, one could point to novels (and even an rpg or two) with a kind of “Illuminati/Masonic magic behind the revolution” or a “Ben Franklin cavorts with the Hellfire Club” sort of deal, but all of that pseudo-historical “hidden magic” speculation fails to deliver a moment of rpg inspiration Zen like:


Wilderness adventures wouldn’t be the only way to go. Surely things like Mystery Hill, and the rampant speculation such sites inspired (even at the time) ought to suggest plenty of ancient American civilization to provide honest to goodness dungeons. There might not be demi-humans (though there could be), but all the other standard D&D ingredients are easy to find.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Garage Sale


My local gaming store (Firefly Toys & Games) had a "Gamer Garage Sale" where they sold old games that folks had brought in. Not a lot of rpg stuff, but some. In picked up the box set, Gary Gygax's Hall of Many Panes for five bucks, the Exalted boardgame War for the Throne, and most randomly this miniature, paper Old West town, and assorted Western miniatures. They're all different scales (H/0, 00, 1:72), but hey, that's an impulse buy for you.

Read for that next Boot Hill game, I guess.


Friday, August 16, 2019

Swords & Monsters


It occurs to me that you could throw out the atmosphere and, well, pretty much everything else about Ravenloft except for the vague notion of adventure fantasy characters fighting creatures of horror. If the world was more of a sword and sorcery setting, and the monsters leaned even heavier in the Universal Monsters direction, I think that would be pretty cool in its own right. The jeweled thrones of the Earth might be sat upon by wolfmen, vampires, man-made monsters, and perhaps even an invisible person or two.

There is some inspiration for this sort of thing in Sword & Sorcery/pulp fiction. Howard wrote "Wolfshead" (which isn't S&S, but hey). Karl Edward Wagner has Kane take on a vampire ("Mirage") and a werewolf ("Reflections on the Winter of My Soul"). In the DC Comics' Warlord there is at least one vampire and two werewolves over its run. I'm sure there are others, but that's off the top of my head.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Conqueror [ICONS]

CONQUEROR

Abilities:
Prowess: 6
Coordination: 4
Strength: 8
Intellect: 4
Awareness: 4
Willpower: 5

Determination: 1
Stamina: 13

Specialties: Athletics

Qualities:
Man Out of Time
Powers Granted by Otherworld Magic
Forgotten Hero

Powers:
Damage Resistance 4
Leaping 4
Life Support 3

Background:
Alter Ego: Joseph Henry Danner
Occupation: Retired
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: Ben and Abigail Danner (adopted parents, deceased)
Group Affiliation: formerly the United States Army
Base of Operations: Middleville, Nebraska
First Appearance: CHAMPION FAMILY #138
Height: 6'1"  Weight: 222 lbs.
Eyes: Gray  Hair: White

History:
Sensing the threat to the world that would be posed by the Axis Powers, the Otherworldly wizard Zyrd had sent a fragment of the Champion emblem into the world to be found by a worthy bearer. Shortly before the United States entered World War II, Joe Danner, found the magical emblem while clearing an old tree stump from his farm. The shield belt buckle embued him with the powers of the Champion! Shortly thereafter, the U.S. entered the War, and Danner volunteered for the Army. He was sent to the European theater where he used his powers (in secret) to fight the Germans, while pretending to be a country bumpkin in his real identity.  He lost the shield near the end of the war, and was imprisoned by a Nazi-allied sorcerer, the Yellow Lama. The spell made the world forget him.

It likely would have stayed that way, had not Tommy Trent, the Boy Champion, freed him decades later. Danner helped the Boy Champion defeat the Yellow Lama, but soon began to age rapidly when the mystical field was no more. Zyrd slowed his aging, and gifted him with a portion of the might he had wielded when he had the emblem. He renamed himself, the Conqueror, and occasionally joins the current Champion in fighting evil.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Things I Read Last Week

Here some stuff I read in the past week or some that I recommend.

House of X #1
Hickman begins his X-Men epic. It is full of grand, science fictional ideas, giving the X-Men a transhumanist edge that has only ever appeared sporadically before. As he's a bit detached from characters with perhaps a Kubrickian coolness, which makes characters doing mysterious things (which may be intentional, but it's hard to tell). This has a companion series, Powers of X, that tells a story over several time periods.

Coffin Bound #1
Weird, hip characters with "cool" dialogue who we meet in media res, with very little explanation. It might be 90s Vertigo, but instead its Image 2019. Gorgeous art and intriguing story.

No One Left to Fight #1
A (perhaps) more serious take on a Dragonball Z sort of gang of fighters, focusing on what happens to them after they defeat the world-threatening baddie. I love the art on this, particularly the colors, which has a kind of gaudiness that makes me think of Jade Man Comics, in a way.


Monday, August 12, 2019

The Princess and the Darkness


Our 5e Land of Azurth campaign continued last night, with the party climbing the stairs to the next level, despite the madness-inducing noise. (Their plan of using Silence proved to be unwieldy.) They all stuffed wax in their ears (except the frogling that has no external ears to put wax in!). Shade was the first up. She found a room full of automata pieces with a whole in the ceiling and bodies of birds beneath it. Beyond that room was an iris-type door.

After retrieving the rest of the party (most of whom made their saves, and the one's that didn't were only minorly impaired), they opened the door. Inside they found a circular shaft with an obelisk, skirted with a platform floating inside. Leading to it was a climbing, arcing path of floating discs, each separated by about 5 feet. Interestingly, the dread noise seemed absent from the shaft--but no other spells worked, either.

Waylon the Frogling was made for leaping, so he was chosen to jump from disk to disk to reach the obelisk and platform. There, he discovered another brass mechanical face. The face explained it was the guardian of the obelisk's treasure, which certainly got Waylon's interesting. It initially was reluctant to reveal the treasure but Kully the Bard connived the head into doing it, though he strongly warned them any attempt to tamper with it would lead to the collapse of the floating obelisk and the release of the "criminal" fire elemental, leading to everyone's death.

Within a milky, glass sphere and festooned with wires, Waylon found a book called The Wondrous Wizard of Azurth, with a drawing of a smiling, benevolent old man on the cover. The book was dangerous, he was told, because it was an anomaly. Not heresy per se (as Dagmar though), but perhaps heresy against the nature of reality.   The book was somehow related to the Clockwork Princess' madness. It's author is listed as O. March Loam (which brought to mind Mirabilis Lum for the player's), but the guardian suggests this was the actual identity of the author who is a "thought form" of some other being, a being with name such "fragments."

Despite Waylon's desire to look for other treasure, the party is more eager now than ever to seek out the princess. On the next level of the castle, they find her. Her face, frozen in horror or madness, is on a great tree like shape of brass and iron, gears and wires. It's wire and conduit canopy spreads out across the ceiling, and his root-like tendrils radiate out along the floor.

There is a shadow, think as velvet, along the ceiling, that slowly brings itself together like a snake coiling for a strike. The party doesn't notice at first. When the shadow has become a whispy sphere, and triangular eyes open in its void like malevolent stars, they do take notice! It tells them it has waited so long for someone to kill so it can be released from this prison of cold light and return to the embrace of the dark void.


Then it nearly kills half the party with a blast of necrotic damage.

The party flees to heal and regroup. Dagmar's knowledge of the arcane suggests it's a aberration from the Outer Dark, which hates light. The party them remembers they are in possession of energy weapons they do radiant damage. Gearing out with Haste spells, Light, and of course those energy guns, they return the challenge the creature.

Though still a fearsome foe, it is perhaps overconfident from its last victory and they catch it off guard. It doesn't long survive what is practically artillery fire of laser beams form Hasted gunmen.

They now have the Princess to confront.

TO BE CONTINUED.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Weird Revisited: The Gods Themselves

This post originally appeared in June 2014.

I've being thinking on the idea that all deities in fiction can be defined by two axes: Mythological-Literal and Transcendent-Physical. Mythological gods have origins and interactions that don't make sense in a literal sense; Think gods born from salt licks or jumping from their fathers' skulls. On the other end of the scale are literal beings whose origins are at least logical and generally pretty much biologically or technologically similar to other classes of lifeforms. Transcendent beings are bound by the usual limitations of single body, mind, and/or perspective, while physical beings certainly are.

The gods from the Greek or Norse mythology are typically mythological, but either physical or transcendent. (They tend to be physical seeming in the texts of the myths, but seem somewhat transcendent in terms their actual historical worship.) 

The Asgardians of Marvel Comics or Apollo of the Star Trek episode "Who Mourns for Adonis?" are mostly literal and mostly physical in portrayal. The Asgardians of the movie Thor and its sequel are entirely literal and physical.

AI masquerading as gods? Literal, transcendent or physical. 
The Endless from Sandman? Straddling the literal-mythologic border, transcendent. 
Kirby's New Gods? Slightly mythological, physical.

So there it is. There may be other factors I haven't thought of.


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Classic Monsters Classed

After yesterday's podcast, I had the Universal Monsters on the brain. Probably got another, less frivolous, post on a monster topic.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Bronze Age Book Club: Man-Wolf!

We're normally going to do biweekly episodes, but we were on a roll, so here's the second episode of the Bronze Age Book Club podcast: Marvel Premiere #45!


Listen to "Episode 2: MARVEL PREMIERE #45" on Spreaker.

In addition to Spreaker, you can find the podcast on Spotify, Castbox, and Deezer. Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts are coming soon.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood...With Cthulhu

Truthfully, I find Cthulhu himself a bit played out, but invoking his name is a nice shorthand for the concept I had in mind. Warning: This will contain some spoilers for Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, so read at your own risk.



In contrast to the rather enervated protagonists of a number Lovecraft stories and pastiches, rpg characters tend to face eldritch horrors with action. Cue Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth, the (perhaps unlikely) protagonists of Tarantino's latest, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, who prove surprisingly handy at dealing with kill-crazed hippie cultists, even then intoxicated.

Los Angeles in 1969 is pretty far from Lovecraft country both geographically and conceptually, but their is precedent at least for California Noir as a Lovecraft pastiche setting. (See Kim Newman's "Big Fish," for one.) And if Charlie and the Manson family lurking in the desert and an abandon TV and movie Old West town can't be connected to the Mythos, then what is the Mythos good for?

I could see an initially clash with Manson just being the tip of the iceberg. A raid by the protagonist on the Spahn Ranch would follow, and what horrors would be uncovered?

Of course, the horror need not be cosmic and certainly it can be cosmic without any of the Lovecraft staples, but I think this sort of spin on the film would make a good one shot or con game, at least.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Omniverse: The Spirit of '76, or Get Down America!


In 1976, America’s dissatisfaction with the Presidential candidates offered by the major parties went in some strange directions. The All-Night Party, holding their convention in New York City, wound up nominating a security guard working the event. Who was also a talking duck.

The Constitutional question of whether a nonhuman from an alternate earth actually qualifies as an American citizen was never answered, because a photo published on the day of election suggesting inter-species sex destroyed Howard the Duck’s campaign.

The second most unusual candidate of that year was a super-villain, though admittedly, a super-villain in disguise. Ruby Thursday, a pipe-smoking young Californian, was actually ahead in the polls for a time. Her vague but proactive slogan “New Heads for Old” resonated with younger voters. Just when her campaign was gathering steam she was forced to reveal her head was actually a red sphere of flexible polymer circuitry at a public event. Her campaign was effectively over, as was her cabal’s attempt at world domination, thanks to the Defenders.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Weird Revisited: Zyrd

The original version of this post appeared in 2016. I've reused the name Zyrd at least twice since.
Someone fucked up. Wizards blame the gods--who are dead or gone and can't defend themselves. It's official church policy to blame the hubris of man and unofficially to suggest that means wizards. Whoever did it fucked up. Whoever did it opened a rent in the fabric of the universe and chaos poured in and the world was dissolved.

Gods, Wizards, or devils, somebody made a last ditch effort to save something. Gods were sacrificed, either willingly or unwillingly, and a haven was created: a hypercube hewn from the bodies of titans left to drift in amundic chaos. Zyrd.

Buried deep in the center of Zyrd is a cross of land, the Crux. Once civilization was more than the Crux, but over time, things have broken down. Beneath the Crux is the Underworld--any direction from the Crux is the Underworld. It holds out the chaos and traps the monsters spawned by it in its labyrinthine depths. 

But the chaos keeps creeping in. The only way to save Zyrd is to clear it. To reclaim the dungeon depths and the riches of ages lost there.

That's where you come in.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Bronze Age Book Club


I started a podcast with fellow Hydra heads Jason Sholtis and Robert Parker, and my friend and fellow blogger, Jim Shelley (though he couldn't make the first episode). Take a listen! We discuss Destructor #1 form Atlas Comics. Check it out:

Listen to "Episode 1: DESTRUCTOR #1" on Spreaker.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Mysterious Map

In the long overdue moving of some of my stuff from my parents storage shed, I found this old map that came with a video game. I think I kept the map long after the gaming system that played it was gone, because I thought to use it in an rpg. I never have though, but hey, there's still time!


(Turns out the map is from Quest for the Rings for the Odyssey2, released in 1981. Thanks, internet!)

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Weird Revisited: Planet of the Elves

This post from 2012 takes us to a future world where Man is only a dim memory...

Many young elves heed the call to adventure, despite the fact their simple and pleasure-loving society sees their actions as odd--perhaps even aberrant.  The elvish word for "hero" carries the connotation of "fool."

The shimmering sprites are sometimes found in old forests.  These beings claim to be visitors from metal cities which circle the earth like the moon. Right-thinking dwarves don't believe such foolish tales.

Though their numbers are few, ancient dragons know many secrets and will impart them--for a price.

Mutated cultists haunt subterranean ruins.  Not only are they dangerous, but their ideas are theologically suspect.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Our Land of Azurth party in Hero Forge

Tragically, Hero Forge still doesn't have a frog folk race option, so poor Waylon gets left out, but we've it can replicate the other members of the party pretty well:

Erekose, Human Fighter

Shade, Elf Ranger

Bellmorae, Dragonkin Sorcerer

Kairon, Demonlander Sorcerer

Kully, Human Ranger

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Everything Goes Better with Ravenloft

Well, maybe not everything, but I think Ravenloft could mix with several of the other D&D settings like chocolate and peanut butter.

Art by Bruce Pennington
Blood Red Sun [Dark Sun/Ravenloft]
Some Dying Earth stories have more than a touch of the Gothic to them (Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique stories immediately come to mind), so this is really a natural. As the sun dimmed and sputtered, the Dark Powers grew stronger and fed upon the energy of the planet, slowing leeching it of life. Replace the sorcerer-kings with the Dark Lords, and (probably) loose the mists. Some tweaking of the domains might be in order, to make them a little less Dracula and a little bit more Vathek, but that's up to you.

Planet of the Vampires [Spelljammer/Ravenloft]
Each domain is a world, and the mists and phlogiston are combined into one. Maybe give Spelljammer more of a 18th Century or even Victorian vibe: Combine Kipling (his sci-fi stories like "With the Night Mail" and his horror yarns) with Stoker.

And why limit myself to AD&D settings?

Terror Under the Eternal Sun [Hollow World/Ravenloft]
I'm thinking ditch most of the Hollow World idea, except for it being the repository of things preserved from the outer world. Take it back to it's Burroughsian roots and have a land of dinosaurs and mostly primitive peoples, except for these areas and mists containing weird, otherworld realms of madness. Probably the realms of dreads should be a bit smaller, maybe just a castle and a village in some cases. Like Turok meets Dracula.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Jimmy Olsen & Dragons

Weirdworld: Dragonmasters of Klarn
Back in 2010, I gave the rundown of Marvel's fantasy series Weirdworld. Most of it was collected back in 2015, but the story "Dragonmasters of Klarn" from 1981-1982 in Epic Illustrated and Marvel Super Action #1 by Moench, Buscema, Nebres, and Severin got left out. Marvel corrected that this week with a thin but complete collection of this story. While it's probably not as good as "Warriors of the Shadow Realm" is very much worth checking out.

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #1
Matt Fraction and Steve Olsen present a humorous tale of Superman's danger-prone pal (reminiscent in tone of Fraction's FF). Olsen is banned from Metropolis by his bosses at the Daily Planet (who tolerate the cost of insuring him because he's internet fandom is the only thing keeping the venerable paper afloat in the digital age) and winds up in Gotham! Easily my favorite read last week.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Weird Revisited: Sasquatch Variations

This post originally appeared in October 2013, but it's always a good time for 'squatch.


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

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


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

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

Friday, July 19, 2019

Omniverse: Incumbents are from Earth, Sivanas are from Venus


In September of 1936, all across America aircraft beginning dropping flyers proclaiming a new candidate for the highest office in the land. At the urging of her father, Beautia Sivana was running for President. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana planned to stage a coup once his daughter was in office. Hers was the most massive, multi-media, write-in campaign this country has ever seen. Her beautiful visage graced the covers of magazines and full page newspaper ads. Her captivating voice could be heard on radio addresses. Women were cool to her candidacy, but men were enthralled. Most men. Boy reporter, Billy Batson, wasn’t fooled one bit. His alter ego, Captain Marvel foiled the Sivanas’ plot and returned mad scientist and would-be president to Venus*, where Beautia would have to content herself with being Empress.

Ultimately, Beautia didn’t share her father’s devotion to evil and in fact pursued a career in social work upon her return to Earth, according to some accounts.

*Or what Sivana said was Venus. It is difficult to square the real planet with its depiction in this record.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Spelljammer: Dead Stars & Outer Monstrosites

Art from the Oldstyle Tales Press edition
As we understand the word," said the old Doctor. "Though, mind you, there may be a third factor. But, in my heart, I believe that it is a matter of chemistry; Conditions and a suitable medium; but given the Conditions, the Brute is so almighty that it will seize upon anything through which to manifest itself. It is a Force generated by Conditions; but nevertheless this does not bring us one iota nearer to its explanation, any more than to the explanation of Electricity or Fire. They are, all three, of the Outer Forces—Monsters of the Void.... 
- William Hope Hodgson, "The Derelict"

I've been thinking about a Spelljammer recently that keeps the basic concept but utterly jettisons the feel or flavor. Spelljammer has never felt me to be about exploration, rather the vessels flying through spaces seem a means to an end. There's nothing wrong with that, but plenty of science fiction literature paints space as a place for confronting the unknown. This is really a perfect fit for Spelljammer where its pre-modern, "magical" spacecraft put the stars within reach but not the science to understand any of it. Not that there is necessarily science as we know it to understand, in any case.

I think I would look to the horror/adventure stories of William Hope Hodgson, specifically his nautical yarns like The Boats of the Glen Carrig, "The Voice in the Night," "A Tropical Horror," and "Demons of the Sea." A little pseudo-science borrowed from his Carnacki stories could only help.

The characters are competent space-hands, perhaps mildly colorful rogues like Howard's Wild Bill Clanton or just working stiffs like the crew of the Nostromo in Alien, not bold explorers or science fantasy swashbucklers. Their jobs involving them going through places that are not (usually) inhabited by hostile species of space orcs or the like, but are instead fundamentally almost wild, always strange. Weird danger can rear it's head at any time, and your vessel is just another ship that disappeared in the Void.

Weird phenomena should be encountered as frequently as monsters, I think. Monsters, when they do show up should be unfamilar, and probably not seen enough to become mundane.

Beyond the stories of Hodgson and Alien, other potential sources of inspiration could be the comic series Outer Darkness, the science fiction stories of Clark Ashton Smith, Poe's Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, and of course, Moby Dick

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Dreadstar Omnibus


I backed the 3 volume Dreadstar Omnibus Kickstarter from Ominous Press, and the digital versions dropped yesterday. They look great and include some material that I haven't seen before.

Though the Kickstarter is over, you can still pre-order the books.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Mysterious Levers of Castle Machina

The part climbed the stairway to level two in the scuttling Castle Machina as our 5e campaign continued last night. The strange droning sound unsettled their nerves, but they persevered. They discovered another room full of vast machinery, mate to the room below it, that kept the castle moving. Then, they found a room full of cast of spare gears, mounds of them, and a bank of levers in the floor.  A search of the room awakened metallic, insectoid guardians.


The party backed away, intuiting that the constructs protected the levers.

Next, they discovered a sauna-like room where three salamanders were playing games of change. Once one of them produced a translation device, they were able to converse with the party. They told them they had been hired from the Realm of Fire to help in the construction of parts of the castle, and they had been on their union mandated break for some time. They had never heard of a "Princess" but they knew a mad clockwork being was interfaced with the castle like it was her nervous system. Kully wanted to gamble with them, but they never could arrive at items them salamanders considered valuable.

They tried climbing the stairs to the next level, but the droning sound was more overwhelming. Waylon and Dagmar were struck with paralyzing fear, and Shade flew into a violent rage and had to be subdued. Deciding that braving the maddening noise was too risky, they returned to the room with the levers, intent on possibly bringing the castle to a halt.

They experimented with mage hand, but moving the lever had no effect. They decided to destroy the guardians to experiment more fully. The energy weapons they had stolen from the priests of the Toad Temple were instrumental in accomplishing that, as regular weapons had little effect. In their deaths, the constructs exploded with damaging fireballs.


Battered but now with full access to lever, the party started to experiment in earnest and found...well, not much. Most of the levers seemed to have no visible effect. They long debated pulling the "Portal Reversal" lever, but some feared it would release the imprisoned fire creature that heated the boiler. In the end, they decided it was too risky.

A plan was hatched to use Silence to explore the next level.

TO BE CONTINUED

Friday, July 12, 2019

Superheroes and Color Theory

A series of articles back on Comics Alliance in 2016 discussed color theory as it relates to the costumes of superheroes: stuff like heroes tend to be in primary colors, and the potential meaning of villains in green and purple. It doesn't match up hundred percent, but it is interesting. Anyway, you might want to head over and read the articles.

You could use that to make random tables for the generation of NPCs, not so much powers, but costume and personality at the same time.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Dragons of Post-Apocalyptic Twilight

I guess this is the third in a loose series of re-imaginings of old TSR settings. My knowledge of classic Dragonlance is admittedly a bit limited, but what I don't know about it, I figure I'll just fill in with other post-apocalyptic, science fantasy, or sword and sorcery stuff.

So, Kyrnn is a world locked in a protracted semi-Cold War. One side or the other (perhaps both), looking to end the stalemate once and for all uses their advanced science or scientific sorcery to pierce a veil that should have remained unpierced and contact another universe where an unlimited source of power was waiting. That power had an intelligence. They called it Tiamat.

Tiamat agreed to help their cause and taught them how to make living weapons they called dragons from a portion of "her" own substance. Their early victories were great, and several enemy cities fell before the dragons, but then somehow, the opposing side got dragons of their own.

When the two blocs were utterly dependent on dragons, the beasts turned on their masters. Civilization was nearly destroyed in the onslaught.

The only good Draconian...
Centuries later and Krynn is a world dominated by the dragons, and their lackeys the Draconians. The former dominate species of now either fear and avoid or serve the planet's rulers (not unlike the humans in Vance's Planet of Adventure, or maybe even the Planet of the Apes TV show).

Anyway, the idea is to make it more random Sword & Sorcery 70s paperback than Lord of the Ring.

Goldmoon?

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Stuff I Read Recently

Here are some recent comics I've read in the past few weeks.

Hey Kids! Comics! (Image)
This is a limited series by Howard Chaykin (perhaps the first of multiple volumes) about the history of comics from the 40s to the 2000s as seen through the eyes of three (fictional, though clearly with elements of real people) creators who got their start in the Golden Age. They interact with a number of other characters who are, at times, fairly thinly disguised stand-ins for real personalities in the industry. The throughline seems to the reputed Jack Kirby adage: "comics will break your heart, kid," or at least leave you embittered and angry, as editors and publishers profit from your work and fandom misunderstands the real history. While there are more sympathetic and less sympathetic characters, all of them are all too human, and no one involved is particularly flattered by Chaykin's portrayal.

Spider-Man: Life Story (Marvel)
The conceit here is that Spider-Man ages in real time, from his teen years in the 60s on through the decades. Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley weave a tale that resembles Byrne's Generations limiteds in some ways, but is more interested in clever re-imaginings of various classic storylines from each era. The result is entertaining, but this dual concern means that the idea of a Marvel universe where time passes is not as deeply explored as it might be since story time has to include secret wars, alien suits, and (multiple) clone sagas. Still, it's the sort of thing I wouldn't have thought Marvel would put out, so the novelty alone makes it worth a look. Five issues are out now with the sixth and the trade to come.

Superman: Year One #1 (DC)
Many of the reviews I have seen of this tend to be reviews of the reviewer's lack of faith in Frank Miller (not unjustified, admittedly, given his work and public statements of the past decade or so) or at least their certainty he doesn't understand Superman. (Aside: Almost any time someone says "that isn't what Superman/Batman whoever would do" they are making a statement more of personal preference than history. Of course, there are certainly portrayals that are more the center of the bell curve and some that are outliers.)

For the most part, if this take by Miller and Romita has a flaw, it's that it is all too conventional, and the minor (minor!) ways it deviates from the Standard Consensus Origin are a bit more off-putting than interesting. It is suggested that baby Kal-El modifies his behavior to manipulate the Kents into accepting him (plausible, perhaps even likely, but not what most Superman readers want to read, apparently). Clark is also always aware of the fragility of regular humans (again, plausibly, but not people are looking for). The Kents are on paper what they are suppose to be but they feel a little off. Lana Lang is more active than it most takes, but it still doesn't amount to much and she must be rescued.

So, if you just need another Superman origin, well, this is another one, but if you are looking for the Superman origin that will give you the small thrill of the truncated origin in All-Star Superman, this isn't it. It's more like a darker Man of Steel (the Byrne limited) as written by Frank Miller.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Zauberina [ICONS]

Art by Chris Malgrain
ZAUBERINA

Abilities:
Prowess: 4
Coordination: 4
Strength: 3
Intellect: 5
Awareness: 5
Willpower: 5

Stamina: 7

Specialties: Magic Expert

Qualities:
Raised in Vulthoor
Mistress of the Mystical Arts
In Love with Ultranaut

Powers:
Magic (Blast, Force Field, Illusions): 8

Background:
Alter Ego: Zabrina Zauberer
Occupation: Adventurer
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: John Zauberer (father, deceased), Rose Zauberer (mother, deceased)
Group Affiliation: Former general of Vulthoor; ally of the Super-Sentinels
Base of Operations:
First Appearance: SUPER-SENTINELS #37
Height: 5'7"  Weight: 130 lbs.
Eyes: Green  Hair: Red

History:
Zauberina was the daughter of the magician and adventure John Zauberer, known as Zauber the Great, and the "ghost-breaker" Rose Buchanan. Zauberina was kidnapped when she was an infant by her father's greatest enemy, Jada the Green Sorceress, ruler of the subterranean city of Vulthoor. The Green Sorceress told Zauberina she was her mother and that her father had abandoned them.

Zauberina possessed her father's aptitude for the magical arts, and she was tutored along these lines by the Green Sorceress. She soon rose in the ranks of her foster mother's magical forces, until she commanded them. She lead in Vulthoor's attempted invasion of the surface world.

Zauber and the Super-Sentinels repelled the invasion. They were aided by Zauberina, who learned that the Green Sorceress had lied about her father, and switched sides.

Zauberina became an ally of the Super-Sentinels and aided them in several of their adventures.