Thursday, January 31, 2019


Last year I did a series of superhero-themed posts on Google+ inspired by Wold-Newton essays and with the conceits there was only one Earth (encompassing both the Marvel and DC and possibly other "universes") and the world tended to work like our own, despite its somewhat altered history. This served to both ground the characters in history, making them more "realistic" and making history stranger! The name for the series was taken from Mark Gruenwald's 1979 fanzine alternate comic book realities.

With Gplus in its death throes, I exported those posts and they are now blogposts here. Only a few of them are currently visibly, but if you want to check them out, follow the Omniverse label at the bottom of this post.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Storm: Vandaahl the Destroyer

My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues with his adventures in the world of Pandarve. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: Vandaahl the Destroyer (1987) (part 1)
(Dutch: Vandaahl de Verderver)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

In a small, strange universe, somewhere in the multiverse, a war which has lasted for millions of years comes to an end. Vandaahl the Destroyer, Lord of Chaos, Agent of Death, is brought before his triumphant enemies. He gloats that he won the moment they chose to take up arms against him, and he relishes the irony that they will now kill him in the name of peace.

But his enemies don't plan to kill him. Instead, he will be locked in the Armor of Eternity. He will be held in stasis until the end of time. They also plan to throw the armor into a black hole. They are unsure of what will happen. The All-Creator will decide his fate.

Apparently, the All-Creator isn't done with Vandaahl. Drawn into the black hole, he isn't destroyed, but instead shunted through a white hole into another universe...

He comes down like a meteorite into the water world where Storm, Ember, and Nomad have been living with a community of fishermen. Nearly drowned in the resulting wave, our heroes decide to dive down and investigate when they see a glow beneath the water. Storm and one of the fishermen don special jellyfish and diving helmets and go down.

The next day, they come back to haul up the armored figure. Storm weirdly has a hard time touching it, like his hand and the figure are two magnets, repelling each other. They take the mysterious figures back to the fisherfolks' nest to take counsel with the elders.

While the adults are talking, children are playing around the figure. They inadvertently activate some controls...

And Vandaahl lives!


Monday, January 28, 2019

The Thrilling Adventures of Luke Skywalker

On Google Plus, Dan D. asked what my "solar system only" version of Star Wars would be. My initial impulse was to but Star Wars all on one fantastic planet like Mongo or on a planet system with a number of moons like Pandarve in Storm or Mongo of the 1980 film. On further consideration, I thought a more Buck Rogers or post-Raymond Flash Gordon thing would also be cool....

Planet Earth has once again been plunged into a World War. An oppressive Empire has gained control of five continents, and the Americas are under siege. Brave freedom fighter rocketeers striking from hidden bases, have managed to keep the military might of the Empire at bay.

To crush the resistance once and for all, the Empire has constructed a giant battle station within an asteroid. The power of the Death Star will spell certain doom for the Union of Pan-America, and for the other free worlds of the Solar System.

Princess Leia, a refugee of conquered Europe and Resistance agent, is charged with spiriting stolen plans to the Death Star off Earth and to the secret base on Ceres. Unfortunately, her ship is captured by a squadron of Imperial rockets commanded by Darth Vader.

The Death Star's commander, Grand Moff Tarkin, will interrogate the Princess personally
She managed to records a desperate message hide it in the collar of a pet Callistan ape and puts him the hands of her robot servant. The "life raft" containing the robot and monkey lands on Mars, where they fall into the hands of a farmboy Luke Skywalker, a settler from Earth, living with his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beryl. Luke discovers the message and is compelled by it to seek out Obiwan Kenobi.

Obiwan saves Luke from the savage Tuskens

Spurred by the urgency of the message Obi Wan, Luke, the monkey, and the robot go to spaceport Mos Eisley to find a ship to carry them to Earth. They hire a hotshot pilot named Han Solo with a Venusian Wookie co-pilot, Chewbacca.

"She's fast enough for you, old man."
Solo is eager to get off Mars, because he owes money to the local crime boss who is in league with the Empire.
"Bring me Solo!"
And so on...

You get the idea!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Weird Revisited: A Traveller's Life

Recent discussion on Google Plus regarding Traveller made me recall this post originally from 2014...

E.C. Tubb's Dumarest of Terra novels are one of the primary inspirations for the game Traveller, though the game doesn't bother the central conceit of the novel. Tubb's protagonist Earl Dumarest other travellers are essentially space hobos: they book dangerous low passage in cryogenic berths from world to world. This contrasts with the wealthy in high passage, who take quick time drug to slow their perception and make time pass quicker to shorten the ennui of the voyage.

Though the Traveller mixes in other influences and gives PCs their own ship, Tubb's original set-up would make a good game all on its own. What's more, it strikes me that Dumarest would be pretty easy to turn into a "hard" science fiction game. It would be trivial to dispense with artificial gravity (and anti-gravity), but I think you could even dispense with FTL.

Alastair Reynolds's novels in the so-called "Revelation Space universe" show how this could be done. Reynolds has no FTL, but does have interstellar travel via "lighthuggers" making voyages at close to light-speed with relativistic time dilation at play. Passengers on lighthuggers are put in cyrogenic freeze because of the length of the voyages. Just like in the Dumarest novels, cyrogenesis isn't without risks. Some passengers die and many have temporary amnesia.

In a modern, hard science fiction approach, low passage wouldn't just be cheap, it would be the only way for the middle class and poor to travel between worlds. Middle passage (the crew) might be more like the Ultras in Reynolds's books: transhuman space-mariners, living their lives on board ship and looking down on system-bound folk. High passage is still for the wealthy, but I don't think quicktime drugs alone would be enough the years (or even decade) long voyages. The wealthy (like the ship's crew) would no doubt have extended lifespans: perhaps centuries--and possibly even immortality, barring misadventure. Superlong lifespans,quicktime drugs, and brief periods in cryo-sleep would make it possible, though the the ships would have to have a lot of entertainment available and be pretty large.

Obviously, you couldn't do a lot a travel back and forth between worlds in this sort of set up, but if like Dumarest you mostly kept moving from one adventure to another that wouldn't really be necessary. Travellers would always be on the move to the next world, far away and years into the future.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Imskian [5e Race]

In the DC Universe, Imskians are denizens of the 30th (or 31th Century) native to the planet Imsk who have the ability to shrink. Shrinking Violet of the Legion of Super-Heroes is an Imskian. No reason Imskians (or something similar) can't show up in a fantasy world, though.

Imskian Racial Traits
Ability Score Increase. An Imskian can improve one ability score of their choice by 2 points and another by one point.
Age. Same as humans.
Alignment. Any.
Size. Imskians are Medium.
Speed. Base walking speed is 30 feet.
Languages. Imskian can speak, read, and write Imskian and Common.
Shrinking. Using a bonus action, an Imskian can reduce their size to Tiny (in game terms, though actually height may vary). Returning to normal size also requires a bonus action. Their clothes and equipment carried on their person shrink as well. Their weapons do 1d4 less damage (minimum of 1) at the reduced size. Imskians have a disadvantage on Strength checks and saving throws when decreased in size, but an advantage on Stealth checks. They can can attempt to hide even when obscured only by a creature that is at least one size larger. Their Armor Class is increased by one at their shrunken size.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Solar Trek: Troublesome Tribbles

In 2262, Federation authorities became aware of a potentially invasive synthetic organism known as the tribble. The origin of tribbles is unknown. They contain no bio-engineering markers that betray their origins. They appeared among the wares of a trader, Cyrano Jones, on Deep Space Station K-7 (located at 10 Hygiea). All known specimens were obtained from Jones's stock or are their descendants.

Jones sold his tribbles as exotic pets, a role they were perhaps designed for, given that their mild vibration, soft purring, and warmth are considered pleasing by many. Despite their superficial mammalian characteristics, tribbles are invertebrates, perhaps derived from echinoderm genetic stock. They are, however, endothermic with a high metabolic rate and frequent parthenogenesis, leading to tribbles consuming large amounts of food. All tribbles are able to adhere to surfaces and tribble newborns small size allow them to spread virtually everywhere not environmental sealed.

The tribble infestation on K-7 consumed food stores and cultures destined for outer colonies in a surprisingly short period of time. Luckily this revealed tampering by Klingon agents that might have lead to deaths and certainly food shortages otherwise. It is ironic that tribbles seem to become agitated with proximity to genetic Klingons.

The Klingons are rumored to have engineered a tribble predator called a glomer, but local authorities are strongly cautioned against viewing a second synthetic organism as an easy solution to any tribble infestation.

Cyrano Jones with a tribble in 2262

Monday, January 21, 2019

Solar Trek: Underside of the Clouds

In the middle of the the 23rd Century, a cluster of aerostat colonies floating over 50 km above Venus were known for their achievements in the arts and sciences. What was not known until the Disrupter revolt of 2263 was that the innovation and productivity of the self-styled creative class depended on  workers who lived in relatively poor conditions in the industrial areas of the cities' underside.

 Analysis by the Medical staff of the Federation vessel, Enterprise, revealed that the chemical exposure among the workers and their families led to impaired cognitive function and, in some cases, propensity for violence. Popular theories among the upper class of the cities, particularly in the unofficial capital of Stratos, attributed these impairments to genetic rather than environmental issues. Citing safety concerns, the undersiders' movements were restricted on visits to the upper level, and they were often under surveillance by security personnel.

Pressure from the Federation after details of Enterprise's report were made public, ultimately led to increased freedom for the people of the under city and environmental clean-up.

Capt. Kirk of Enterprise observed the torture of a captured Disrupter insurgent by Stratos security forces 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Abhumans: Kobold [ICONS]

Art by Agus Calcagno
This is a continuation of this post.


Prowess: 5
Coordination: 4
Strength: 7
Intellect: 3
Awareness: 4
Willpower: 5

Stamina: 12
Determination: 2
Specialties: Wrestling

The only giant gnome
Steadfast as rock

Blend into Rock (Transformation Rock, Disguise Only) 7
Rocky Integument (Damage Resistance) 7
Rock Phasing (Burrowing, Rock Only) 6

Kobold is unusual among his kind (the Abhuman subrace known as gnomes) for his large size. He is a staunch supporter of the royal family in exile and an opponent of the Abhumans supporting the Frozen Führer.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Tholian Web

This is a follow-up to this post.

The Tholians are a group claiming much of the orbit of Mercury with bases on Mercury itself. The beings have offered no name nor communicated more than their willingness to defend what they view as their territory. Their Federation designation is derived from tholos, the Ancient Greek world for "dome," due to the appearance of their clustered structures observed in the rim-shadow of North Polar craters.

The Tholians came to Federation attention in 2263, due to their construction of solar energy collector arrays in the orbit of Mercury. Defiant was sent to investigate and either by accident or Tholian aggression became tangled in the semi-elastic diamondoid filaments the Tholians use to string the arrays together. Her distress call was answered by Enterprise, who was warned off by the Tholians, then attacked by what appeared to be autonomous vehicles that "spun" the filaments in an attempt to form a web around the vessel. Enterprise was able to escape before the web was completed, and Federation vessels have been advised to avoid the region since.

It is unclear if the Tholians are biological beings or robots of some sort. As individuals they appear crystalline and vaguely mantid in form. They are either able to withstand Mercurian conditions unsupported or these bodies are environmental suits. A paper from the Martian Science Academy has put forward the theory that the Tholians are actually either non-sophont or (more intriguingly) post-sophont. The paper points out that their observed movements on Mercury's surface resemble the probabilistic movement of ants. Their communications with Enterprise are not necessarily indicative of any more intelligence than the expert systems frequently used as digital assistants.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Abhumans [ICONS]

Art by Agus Calcagno
First Appearance: FANTASTIC TALES #56

The Abhumans are a hidden human subspecies created around two hundred thousand years ago as a result of exposure to an accidental dumping of Otherworldly toxic waste. An archaic human tribe was genetically altered by the wastes, developing superhuman abilities and extended lifespans.  Certain traits common among them—such as severe allergies to iron and silver and sunlight sensitivity—led them to a more nocturnal and subterranean lifestyle, further separating them from the rest of humanity. Brief encounters with these hidden folk gave rise to legends of fairies, trolls, dwarfs and the like among primitive humans.

By the end of the European Middle Ages, a group of Abhumans decided to withdraw as far as possible from human civilization. They trekked into the Arctic where they discovered an abandoned city that appeared to be made of ice. This was the former domain of another offshoot of humanity, the Hyperboreans, whose civilization had fallen into decadence, then died out. The Abhumans took refuge in the abandoned city and made it their own.

In 1950, the Abhumans discovered young Arno Kaltmann (see Frozen Führer) in the Arctic after his escape from the custody of the United States government. Kaltmann had been genetically modified through use of Hyperborean technology and was adapted to extreme cold. Curious, the Abhumans took him back to their city and nursed him back to health.

When Kaltmann’s link to the Hyperboreans was discovered, a group of disaffected Abhumans (who believed they were heirs to the Hyperboreans and destined to plunge the world into a new Ice Age) came to view him as a messiah-like figure. Aided by power-hungry members of the Abhuman elite, the cultists staged a coup and installed Kaltmann as their ruler, though in fact, he was mostly a figurehead.

The previous monarchs, King Oberon and Queen Titania were forced to flee with their close allies the trickster Hobgoblin, the dwarf engineer Brokk, and the lumbering gnome, Kobold. Later, with the help of the Kingdom of Sub-Atlan the exiles were able to establish an underground community beneath the British Isles with other Abhuman refugees. Though Kaltmann, as the Frozen Führer, has been defeated and imprisoned at various times, his adherents still maintain power over the Hyperborean Abhumans.

Prowess: 3
Coordination: 4
Strength: 4
Intellect: 6
Awareness: 7
Willpower: 7

Stamina: 11
Determination: 1
Specialties: Leadership, Occult Expert, Magic Expert

Abhuman Leader in Exile
More Scholar than Warrior

Magic (Extras: Blast, Force Field, Illusions, Phasing): 7
Telepathy: 6
Nullification (Magic Only): 7

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Martian Manhunter #2

The first thing you might notice  about Martian Manhunter #2 (in a 12 issue maxi-series, a name I have not heard in a long time) is the word balloons on the cover. This bit of retro contrasts with the art itself that is slightly cartoon and tinged with some photoshoppy sort of effects. I don't know how this relates to the books contents other than it suggests you ought to expect something different.

The first issue intrigued me with its imagining of Mars as a place familiar enough, but very alien. Though it synthesized elements of J'onn Jonzz Silver Age origin, the 1988 DeMatteis/Badger "most everything you know is a lie" limited series, and the Ostrander/Mandrake ongoing from 1998, it add new stuff to it, and looked it the old continuity from a new angle. It also revealed that J'onn J'onzz on Mars was a dirty cop.

I am happy to report the first issue was not a fluke. The second continues to be just as interesting with its parallel stories on a murder investigation on Earth and J'onzz's life on a doomed Mars. As life continues mostly as normal for the "manhunter" and is family, tension has begun to creep in. The deadly Curse of H'ronmeer is spreading. Rossmo's art really adds to the alien sequences, but is adequate in the more True Detective Earth-bound portion of the story. The coloring style seems to shift a bit between the two sections as well.

It gets bonus points for providing an explanation for J'onzz's bettlebrow: a brief Martian Neanderthal-mania.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Solar Trek: The Orion Syndicate

This is an expansion of this post.

The Orion Syndicate is transnational criminal organization involved cybercrime, money laundering, piracy, drug and weapons trafficking, and the slave trade. It originated in the Orion Colonies of the Belt (a loose association of libertarian ultra-capitalists of unclear origins), but the current center of its operations, to the extent such a diffuse organization has one, is believed to be in the Jovian Trojans.

The Syndicate are perhaps most infamous for their traffic in artificial humanoids. Their "Greens" (named for their green skin-tones) came to the attention of Federation authorities in 2250. Greens are promoted as having heightened sexual appetites and intoxicating pheromones. What is not mentioned by the Syndicate is that the conditions of their accelerated growth and training often lead to violent responses and animalistic behavior.

Despite the remoteness of their base of operation, operatives and associates of the Syndicate are involved in smuggling, hijacking, and hostage taking in the high traffic regions of Earth orbit. Syndicate associated hackers are all concentrated in this region.

While the Orion Colonies are officially neutral, the Syndicate's haven is likely protected by the Klingon Empire who may employ in them cyber-espionage against the Federation.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

What Ho!

You've waited for it, and now it has finally arrived in soft cover. The fourth publication set in the richly drawn, a little bit Slavic, a little bit Vancian, all old school D&D, Hill Cantons settings: What Ho, Frog Demons! Even if you have the pdf, you'll no doubt want this handsome volume on your shelf.

What Ho has two shorter adventure sites, an overview of Marlinko Canton where this and the other publications have take place, and supporting tools like random village and frog demon generators. It's written by Chris Kutalik (owner-operator of the Hill Cantons campaign) and features art by fan-favorite Luka "Witchburner" Rejec.

Reserve your copy today!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Solar Trek: An Alternate Star Trek Setting

Bold proposal: Take the "stars" out of Star Trek. Make it a hard(ish) sci-fi alternate history setting taking place within our solar system. Yes, this would lose some of the mission statement of the voice over intro, but it would actually put it in line with Roddenberry's pitch noting similarities to Wagon Train and Horatio Hornblower (spoiler: neither series featured journeys to other worlds.). In modern high concept terms we could think of it as The Expanse meets Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

So, there would have been genetic supermen in the 90s, leading to advances in spaceflight technology unencumbered by democratic concerns. The supermen dictators would have sent out space probes, maybe even began colonies. (One of these expeditions would start the terraforming of Mars. Their colony of genetically modified individuals would centuries later provide the famous half-Martian first officer, Spock.) As the post-Eugenics War chaos ushered in World War III, some would flee the Earth to set up settlements elsewhere.

In the 23rd Century, some of these farflung colonies and societies are only now being re-contacted. Some have grown strange in isolation. Other have grown into military powers in their own right, like the bellicose totalitarian state lurking around Jupiter's moons, the Klingons, or the mysterious Romulans of the cold depths of beyond Uranus.

The solar system could be updated to modern science, or it might conform to the state of knowledge in the late 60s when Star Trek debuted. I suppose one could push in back even to the 50s science of Asimov's Lucky Starr series, if you just needed Venus with an ocean. Science fiction's knack in the era for coming up with creative ways life could be almost everywhere might prove instructive.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Weird Revisited: The Pulp Core of Trek

I was once again talking about how I might run a slightly alternate ST:TOS game with fellow fan, Jason Sholtis, the other day, which reminded me of this post from 2012...

While I've enjoyed all the Trek series (well, maybe not Voyager) to one degree or another, my favorite has always been the original. It's very much of it's era which gives it a cool design sense and adapts a lot of Golden Age and pulp science fiction elements. The "core canon" for my game would be the original series.

(As an aside, I'd say that a lot of later accretions on the Trek universe have served to downplay the old school science fiction feel. Genetic supermen and a interplanetary sleeper ship coming from the 1990s does not suggest the 20th century history of space travel in Trek played out like it did in our history, but rather more like the imaginings of Werner von Braun and Willy Ley.)

I mean, what would Trek be without Rigel II cabaret dancers?

I wouldn't leave it there, though. The now-noncanonical animated series adds the Kzinti (among other stuff) to the mix. Got to have these guys:

James Blish's novelizations of the original episodes give them a subtle sci-fi lit spin: I think Trek is better with a mysterious Vegan (VAY-gan, alright?) Tyranny in it's past than without it. Always early fan documents add a lot of stuff. The Starfleet Officer's Manual and Star Trek Maps are definitely in--as are parts of the totally out there on its on but well illustrated Spaceflight Chronology.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Wednesday Comics: Comixology Unlimited

DC Comics has joined Marvel (and a number of indies) on Comixology Unlimited. There are currently 52 (huh?) DC titles available along with the other stuff for $5.99/month. It's not a lot, and it's mostly newer stuff, but hopefully that's just where they are starting. It might be the excuse I needed to finally go with Comixology Unlimited, but we'll see.

In other news, after a bit of holiday, I'm getting ready to return to the adventures of Storm. You might want to refresh yourself on the last story, "The Living Planet" to get ready.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Highs and Lows of the Toad Temple

Our Land of Azurth 5e game continued last night, with the part just having escaped the bowels of the Toad Temple oppressing the land of Under Sea, to a loading dock on a canal surrounded by swamp. A swim across the canal provokes the attack of a giant leech, which is warned off by arrow fire. A trek across the swamp leads to a nocturnal encounter with a giant frog and a giant alligator that nearly bit Erekose the fighter in twain. (The random encounter rolls were not on their side.)

As they near civilization they borrow a boat and make it back to the frogling village. Avoiding the Toad cultist patrols who are eager to find the daring rogues who defiled their worship and killed their high priest, the party returns to their barn hideout for a rest.

The next morning, they decide to return to the temple and see if they can destroy it in some way. Kairon and Erekose favor fire. (Erekose had already shown a pyromaniac streak after his unilateral and pragmatic but cold-blooded decision to kill two captives with Burning Hands the night before.) Other party members just want to induce the cult to leave by any means necessary.

They ask the ambassador to get the townsfolk to stage a riot at the temple doors. The party hopes this will divert the cult forces so they can sneak back in. Kully the bard goes to help rally the townspeople.

The plan seems to work in that the loading dock and the lower levels seem virtually abandoned. After a search of the upper dungeon, they find stairs to a tower, where they overhear a ground of guards discussing a squabble over succession with the ranks of the cult luminaries. They get the drop on them and kill them all. Still, they can't kill every cultist in the place (probably), and they still haven't figured out a way to make them leave.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Cymrilians [5e race]

The country of Cymril lies at the center of Seven Kingdoms and its green crystal-spired capital is the greatest city and unofficial capital of the alliance. It's people are descendants of the Phandre, masters of sorceries and rulers of Old Phaedra, until a rebellion instigated by the Orthodoxist faithful. Many Phandre were put to torment, but most of the wizards fled like beetles exposed beneath an upturned stone. In the wilderness they founded Cymril.

The Cymrilians are counted among the Talislantan races of men, so the standard human 5e racial options could be used for them. However, I think something like these variant human subtypes probably fit the Talislantan millieu better. Unless otherwise noted, treated them as human in particulars.

Cymrilian Traits:
Ability Score Increase: Intelligence score and one other ability score increases by 1.
Size: Cymrilians are taller and leaner than human average, with most around 6 feet in height. Medium.
Skills: Gain proficiency in one skill.
Magical Aptitude: Though not all Cymrilians are wizards, all possess at least a small magical facility. Each knows one cantrip of the player's choice from the wizard list. Intelligence is the spellcasting ability for it. 
Languages: Cymrilians can speak, read, and write Low Talislan and High Talislan.
Subrace: Choose one of following subraces.

Typically just called Cymrilians, they are the dominant group in society. They have pale green skin and hair, and golden eyes.
Ability Score Increase: One ability score increases by 1 point.
Magical Society: Gain proficiency in Arcana.
Languages: Koresians can speak, read, and write ancient Archaen.

Tanasians are the exiled descendants of the former Phandre ruling caste and make up less than two percent of the Cymrilian population. Some have been raised in exile by families perhaps yearning to regain their former glory. Others may have gone to live in the wilderness, abandoning what they seen as the folly of their ancestors and political intrigues. Tanasians physically resemble Koresians.
Ability Score Increase: One ability score increases by 1 point.
Skills: Traditionally raised exiles gain proficiency in Arcana, while dissenters gain proficiency in Athletics and Survival
Languages: Traditionally-raised Tanasians speak an additional language, likely one related to their place of exile.

Make up about three percent of Cymrilians. They are voluntary exiles and nonconformists, owing to historical prejudice against the lime green of their skin. Many become itinerant peddlers of talismans and arcane parephenalia.
Ability Score Increase: Wisdom score increases by 1 point.
Skills: Gain proficiency in Perception and one other skill.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Dungeonmaster! [ICONS]


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

Stamina: 8

Specialties: Geek Pop Culture

A Lonely Nerd, Deep Down
Impulse Control Issues
"I'm the Dungeonmaster, here!"

Icosahedron of Ioum (Magic Wizardry Device): 8
Images (Programmed)
Spatial Control (Shaping)
Teleportation (Portal)
Probably Control (When a situation doesn't go his way, he can "re-roll" the Icosahedron, i.e. utlizie this power. Either the will of the device or a psychological quirk of Dilbert's considers this cheating. After each use he must test his Willpower against his Probability Control Power level, with a failure meaning loss of his powers for a number of pages equal to the degree of failure.)

Alter Ego: Arnold "Arnie" Francis Dilbert III
Occupation: Former college student; Professional Criminal
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: Arnold and Patricia Dilbert (parents)
Group Affiliation: Masters of Menace
Base of Operations: Mobile
First Appearance: SUPER-SENTINEL TEAM-UP #85
Height: 5’10” Weight: 156 lbs.
Eyes: Green Hair: Light Brown

Arnie Dilbert was a capable college student, but performed poorly due to the time he spent playing the role-playing game Monsters in Mazes with his few friends. Unhappy with his real life, Arnie began to immerse himself more and more into fantasy. He convinced his friends to act out their game characters’ exploits in a small cave system near their university. Annoyed by Arnie's increasingly demanding behavior, the others ended the session and left him alone in the cave.

Trying to find the exit, Arnie became lost. He later claimed to have found a hidden chamber where he discovered the large, crystalline Icosahedron of Ioum. This artifact obeyed his commands, giving him apparently magical powers, but whether by design or Arnie's own psychological quirks, it limited him to mimicking powers analogous to those wielded by a Monsters in Mazes referee.

Arnie, now calling himself the Dungeonmaster, used these powers to settle scores with his neglectful parents and former classmates before embarking on a criminal career. His modus operandi was to create a "dungeon" in the location the crime was to take place and force bystanders to achieve his goals for him, coercing them with monsters and traps of his making. At a comic book convention in Southern California, he attempted to force a group of costume contest participants to steal valuable memorabilia for him, but he was defeated by the second Rocket. Since that time, the Dungeonmaster considers her his archenemy, though Rocket does not reciprocate.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Jaka from Talislanta [5e Race]

Art by P.D. Breeding-Black
Jaka are humanoid species with features resembling both wolves and panthers. They are covered in sleek black fur and have silver-gray manes. They hail from the beast-haunted wilderlands of Yrmania, particularly the area of the Brown Hills.  With a reputation as peerless trackers, Jaka easily find work as scouts, guides, and hunters of both men and beasts.

Jaka Racial Traits
Ability Score Increase. A Jaka's Dexterity increases by 2, and Wisdom increases by 1.
Age. Jaka reach adulthood around age 12 and typically leave to around 80.
Alignment. Most Jaka are neutral.
Size. Jaka are Medium.
Speed. Base walking speed is 30 feet.
Languages. Jaka can speak, read, and write Low Talislan and are fluent in Wilderness Sign of the Talislantan tribes folk.
Darkvision. Jaka have a cat’s keen senses especially in the dark. They can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. Jaka can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Natural Tracker. Jaka have proficiency with the skills Survival and Perception.
Scent Marking. As a bonus action, a Jaka can mark one creature it can see within 10 feet. Until the end of the Jaka's next long rest, its proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check to find the marked creature, and the Jaka always know the location of that creature if it is within 60 feet. A Jaka can’t use this trait again until it finishes a short or long rest.
Sixth Sense. Jaka have the uncanny ability to sense danger, or even potential danger within 30 feet. They cannot necessarily discern the type, location, or degree of danger, but they know it is there on a successful check of their Passive Perception (Wisdom). In cases where they are actively looking for threats they have an advantage on their Perception (Wisdom). They are particularly sensitive to magic and add 5 to their Passive Perception checks if magic is involved and +2 to their active checks.
Jaka Weapon Training. Proficiency with the shortsword, shortbow, and spear.

Wednesday Comics: The Good Stuff I Read in 2018

I read a lot of superhero comics in 2018, but a minority of them were new (within the past couple of years) but here, in no particular order, are the ones that stood out:

X-Men: Grand Design: I'm not sure the X-men needed to be woven into one sprawling narrative, and doing so has Piskor making some odd choices, but I like the retro approach and the Marvel Saga-esque dive into the past.

Green Lantern (2018) #1-2 and Earth One: Wonder Woman Volume Two: Middle tier Morrison (though with only 2 issues extant, the jury may still be out on Green Lantern) is still better than most stuff.

Supernaut: A little bit Morrison, a little bit Warren Ellis, this is a sci-fi superhero yarn very much of the exposition heavy "mad idea" school. And from an indie, no less. There's a trade, but Amazon doesn't seem to carry it. Comixology has the issues, though.

Martian Manhunter #1 and Electric Warriors #1-2: Both of these are written by Steve Orlando. MM has a take on Mars I found really cool. Electric Warriors has an interesting concept (covering some of the period between the Great Disaster at the time of the Legion). It's early in their runs, but I'm going to be optimistic.

Final Frontier #1: I'm not sure exactly when this was released, but it's a Tom Scioli take on a rock 'n roll band Fantastic Four, so you should read it.