Sunday, February 28, 2021

Underground Freaks


Paul "Gridshock 20XX" Vermeren used to talk about running Operation Unfathomable as a superhero thing. I don't know exactly what he had in mind, but I think it would be most interesting to do something with weird powers bizarre deaths underground that combines superheroes with an old school D&D mentality.

Marvel published a comic in the 80s by Peter Gillis and Brent Anderson called Strikeforce: Morituri about a group of individuals given powers to fight an alien invasion. The catch is that they will die within a year as a side effect of the process that empowered them.

With something like my modern Operation: Unfathomable idea where a group of volunteers (or maybe a suicide squad of "volunteered" criminals) get exposed to chaos and mutated into something more than human in order to complete a mission in the Unfathomable. I'm sure there's some old school based superhero system that could provide powers. Perhaps just a random table of spell or monster trait inspired powers would do.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Omniverse: Fear Itself

This Omniversal speculation originally appeared on Google+ in January of 2018. 


Scarecrows will be a recurring motif, and the first of those is one of the Fear Lords, a group of mysterious gods or demons, who (as the Book of Vishanti states): “are not motivated by base cravings for human worship or for dominion over lowly creatures, but by the desire for greatest, purest fear-which is sustenance and life itself to them.” Until Dream was freed from his prison and reined in his subordinate, Nightmare had a place among them. So does that renegade protector of humankind known as the Straw Man or Scarecrow, the demon patron of the fear of the numinous.

When psychology professor Jonathan Crane first decided to strike a blow against the society he hated via extortion and murder, he relied on his scarecrow costume alone to create fear. He confronted Batman only twice during the 1940s. By the time he resurfaces in 1955, he is making use of a powerfully hallucinogenic fear chemical.

Crane didn’t have the scientific background to synthesize the chemical. Somehow, he must have acquired it from Hugo Strange, who had employed a much weaker version in the 40s. Crane’s experimentation may well have been responsible for the increased potency of the drug, however.

Almost a decade later, wax museum owner Zoltan Drago donned a frightful costume and begins a criminal career as Mr. Fear. He employs a fear gas not dissimilar in effects to Strange’s original compound. Drago’s story was that he intended to make a chemical to bring his wax statues to life as a criminal army, but accidentally made the fear gas instead. It seems clear that Drago was mentally ill, but whether he was a mentally ill genius or liar is unknown. It has been suggested that psychic contact with the Fear Lord known as the Dweller in Darkness influenced Drago’s costume design, so perhaps it also led to his madness? Such things have certainly happened before.


After Drago’s death, at least 3 other individuals took on the Mr. Fear identity and employed the fear gas. Ariel Tremmore, the daughter of the last one, injected herself with a formula made from the fear chemical residue extracted from a sample of her father’s skin. It turned her into a monster, or perhaps made a certain inner monstrousness manifest. In any case, she too gained the ability to cause fear.

But back to scarecrows, again. Ebenezer Laughton was the second costumed criminal to take up the name and costume of the Scarecrow. He was a former sideshow contortionist (perhaps the illegitimate son of the the original Flash’s foe, the Rag Doll). Like Crane, he originally relied on the costume and his natural abilities alone, initially, to commit his crimes. He went insane, or more insane, and became a serial killer. Even serial killers have their uses, it seems, as a shadowy organization had him surgically altered to be able to produce pheromones which caused a panic reaction in those exposed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Wednesday Comics: DC, January 1980 (part 2)

I'm continuing my read through of DC Comics output from January 1880 (cover date) to Crisis. This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands around October 25,1979.

Action Comics #503: I struggle to see where Cary Bates was going with this story of a fake TV psychic using stolen technology, time travel, and a giant, upright vacuum cleaner from the future. Well, it isn't really a vacuum cleaner, but Curt Swan draws it to look one. This is no doubt the worst Superman story this month, and that is saying something. Interestingly, there is no Lois Lane here; Lana Lang is the snooping the tv reporter in this era with Kent on the nightly news.


Adventure Comics #467
: delivers the adventures of Plastic Man and Starman III (depending on who you count; it's Prince Gavyn). Neither story is particularly substantial, but the Plastic Man story written by Wein and charmingly cartoony art by Joe Staton and Robert Allen Smith. The Levitz Starman story is clunkier, but has Steve Ditko art.

Brave & the Bold #158: Conway's second team-up book this month has a one off, gimmick villain that the cover tries to sell as a big deal. The art by Aparo is good, and I like comradery Conway puts in Batman's and Wonder Woman's relationship. It wouldn't be done that way these days! By the standards of team-up books at the Big Two, this is a solid, if in no way noteworthy, issue.

Green Lantern #124: by O'Neil and Staton was one of my favorite titles of the month, though I can't say it lacks in a bit of goofiness. Sinestro attacks some aviation event for no reason, Green Arrow is mad at Green Lantern and they aren't talking about it. What works, though, is Jordan's journey to Korugar (Sinestro's homeworld) and the discovery that Sinestro's old man is a drug peddler, essentially, operating a Null Chamber that allows death by yellow ray, then resurrection, for the thrills. It's the kind of throwaway idea Morrison could do something with in his run. 

House of Mystery #276: Better than the two horror anthologies earlier in the month, it's still not great. It's got a Blue Beard retread by Wein and Ditko, a sword & sorcery yarn that isn't horror by Mannart and Nasser, and one decent "ghost story" by Joe Gill and Nestor Malgapo.


Legion of Super-Heroes #259
: Conway (again) and Staton (again) deliver a story whose primary purpose seems to be having Superboy leave the Legion so they can finally have the book to themselves, and Superboy can move to a solo this month. The villain has a weak reason for attacking them, and is perhaps offensive to the mentally ill by modern standards (he's called "psycho"-warrior through out, and the issue is cringingly titled "Psycho War") but Conway does seem to be groping toward saying something about trauma and survivor guilt.

New Adventures of Superboy #1: Bates and Schaffenberger deliver another one of those stories that will seem quaint in just a few years, but it may actually be the best non-team-up Superman story of the month, which doesn't say much. From a continuity standpoint, it shows Clark's 16th birthday, and suggests he debuted as Superboy as age 8. Eight year-old Superboy manages to trick some immortal aliens, so he's precocious.

Sgt. Rock #336: Kanigher and Frank Redondo (Nestor's brother) have the Joes from Easy meeting up with a brave, but doomed contingent of Canadian hockey players turned soldiers. In the second story, Kanigher and Estrada churn out a really generic war comic meditation on heroism. Standard DC war comics stuff, but unremarkable.

Superfriends #28: The forerunner of the animation style comics DC would do in the 90s following BTAS. This may not be as good as those, but its fun and has nice Ramona Fradon art to go with its Nelson Bridwell story.


The Unexpected #195
: This anthology has stories under the banner of other (now defunct) DC horror books: Doorway to Nightmare, The Witching Hour and House of Secrets. It's the best horror anthology of the month. Kashdan's and Jodloman's "Weave A Tangled Skein of Death" feels like it could have been a Warren feature. O'Neil's Craig's "Deadly Homecoming!" is gratifyingly nasty (within a Comics Code approved context) and mildly surprising.

Unknown Soldier #235: I don't know why, but this one was disappointing. The Unknown Soldier covers always looked cool to me as a kid, but this issue isn't great, other than the unintentionally on the nose plot point of having a Nazi war criminal hiding out as a drill instructor of a Southern military academy near a Civil War battlefield. The second story is a better than it ought to be allegory for the lasting effects of trauma.

Warlord #29: I talked about in detail here.

Scalphunter #63: Conway and Ayers have Brian Savage looking to rescue his friend Bat Lash, but falling into a trap at the hands of Confederates, with the cliffhanger of Bat Lash denouncing him as a murderer in court. It's got me interested enough that I want to see how part 2 plays out.

And that's DC Comics for a January 1980 cover date! Fourteen of the 29 publications are non-superhero, which is a contrast with Marvel this same month that has only 9 non-superhero (if Master of Kung-Fu isn't a superhero) publications out of 37. Marvel has no war or western titles and only Man-Thing to represent horror, whereas DC has 13.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Superhero Concepts


Superhero characters in rpgs that feel like characters from comics (and now probably film) can be tough for players, in my experience. Most supers rpgs try to make this easier by suggesting archetypes, but these archetypes are typically based on power types (blaster, elementalist) or role (brick). 

I think the best way to construct authentic feeling superhero characters (This is always assuming emulating comics in this fashion is the goal. If you want to just play people with powers, well that's cool. too.) is to construct them from parts of familiar characters. Here's a couple of examples:

The Atom: This character was part of a series where I imagined how Stan Lee and 60s Marvel staff would have revamped DC's Golden Age characters, like a Mighty Marvel version of DC's Silver Age. This Atom was a socially awkward, 98-lbs. weakling (Peter Parker like), who got transformed in an experiment into a green monster at first (like the Hulk) but later was able to contain his power is a special suit and control it (Captain Atom and Solar have had this aspect at times).

Damselfly: Is half of an alien cop duo who came to Earth chasing a criminal (like the Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl/woman). She broke with her partner and has a power set more like the Wasp. She has an African American appearing civilian identity and is a empowered female character in the 70s mold (both aspects of Bronze Age social relevance.) 

So for both of these Power, Origin, Motivation/Background come from different places. Many of these traits could be genericized, to be sure: "accident" is the origin of Spider-Man, the Hulk, Captain Atom, and Solar, for instance. But I think pulling details and instances from actual characters provides a richer substrata perhaps than reductive llists.

But what if someone isn't a comics reader? Well, in 2020, more people have probably developed an interest in superheroes and superhero gaming through movies. I don't think this sort of "cannibalizing for parts" is limited to comics--or even necessarily superhero media.



Sunday, February 21, 2021

Weird Revisited: Alternate Prime Material Planes

The original version of this post appeared in 2015...

 

One of the complaints against the standard D&D Planes is that, while conceptually interesting perhaps, its hard to know what to do with them as adventuring sites. One solution would be to borrow a page from science fiction and comic books and replace them with a mutliverse of alternate worlds. These would be easy to use for adventuring purposes and could put an additional genre spin on the proceedings. Here are a few examples:

Anti-World: An alignment reversed version of the campaign setting. Perhaps humanoids are in ascendance and human and demihumans are marauding killers living underground.

Dark Sun World: In this world, the setting underwent a magical cataclysm in the past and is now a desert  beneath a dying sun.

Dinosauria: Mammalian humanoids are replaced by dinosaurian humanoids.

Lycanthropia: The world is cloaked in eternal night and lycanthrope has spread to most of the population.

Modern World: This version has a technology level equal to our own (or at least the 1970s) and the PCs have counterparts who play adventurers in some sort of game.

Spelljammer World: A crashed spacecraft led to a magictech revolution and space colonization.

Western World: Try a little sixguns and sorcery and replace standard setting trappings with something more like the Old West.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Six More Days to Get Gridschocked


Paul Vermeren's 80s-chromed post-apocalyptic, superhero setting Kickstarter has just 6 more days for you to jump in. While it hasn't funded yet, it's getting close. You can help it reach it's goal.

At the base level you get all 4 32 page zines in pdf for $19, which is a pretty good deal given what I've seen in Zinequest as a whole.

This setting is really a labor of love for Paul (some might say an obsession!), and having be privy to much of the design discussion over the years, I can say it is unique, while at the same time being completely accessible due to a lot of familiar tropes.

It's got great 80s invoking design by Paul's brother Chris and awesome art by Steven de Waele, too!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Knacks or Gifts


I haven't done the work, but it seems like to me that it would be fairly easy, using one or another of the available 5e "race creation" rules sets to essentially make super-powered humans. I don't mean in the costumed adventure sense necessarily but it terms of that branch of fantasy where a lot of people are born with some sort of singular, inherent gift or power.

This sort of thing isn't uncommon in fantasy literature, but is less common, I think, in rpgs. In fantasy novels that utilize this trope (much like in superhero or psychic hero media) gifts didn't to get categorized, and maybe these types of gifts would run in families, creating lineages or ancestries. 

This sort of setup would allow you to get rid of the standard D&D idea of "race" with all its baggage and potentially suggest a bit of a weirder world where magic caused mutations or individuals with these magical gifts became sort of a society set apart (not unlike mutants in marvel, but also not unlike adventurers in D&D).

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Wednesday Comics: DC, January 1980 (part 1)

October 11, 1979, was (according to Mike's Amazing World of Comics) was likely the date that the first batch of DC Comics cover dated January 1980 appeared on the racks. 

One difference between DC's output his this period and the latter half of the 80s is readily apparent: There are a lot more nonsuperhero titles being published. Only fifteen (if we don't count Swamp Thing) of 29 titles published with this cover date are superhero titles; The rest are war, horror, western, and one sword & sorcery.

Anyway, let's look at this first batch of issues:


All-Out War #3
: This is a Dollar Comic format war anthology, fronted by Kanigher's Viking Commando, who I always found conceptually dubious. Here he has a forgettable adventure, working for the Allies and calling the Germans "Huns," because that's his thing. The other recurring characters in this issue, I had never heard of before. They didn't make the Who's Who even. Black Eagle is the titular leader of a group of Tuskegee Airmen Blackhawk-types. "Guerilla War staring Force 3" is but an American, a Pole, and a Greek resisting Nazis in the Mediterranean. Both of these stories are perfunctory, but the art by Jerry Grandinetti on the Force 3 piece, "Dominoes of Death," is off-beat--thick-lined and a bit Toth-y, perhaps--and interesting. I barely remember anything about the other two stories here, and I read it last week.

Batman #319: Wein and Novick give pit Batman against the Gentleman Ghost. Nothing special, but it hits the right marks, so I don't think any Bat-fan who bought it off a spinner rack (this ain't a library, kid!) in '79 was unsatisfied. I wonder if we ever found out if the Gentleman Ghost was really a ghost or not? Catwoman is apparently reformed (and retired from costumed stuff) at this time, but has some sort of beef with Lucius Fox. Bruce is still living in town, not in (stately) Wayne Manor, though Alfred's there.

DC Comics Presents #17: Conway brings back Firestorm about a year after his short series dying in the Implosion to team up with Superman against Killer Frost who, as is often in the case with villains in team-ups, becomes powerful enough to give them both trouble. The artist here is the always great Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Superman offers Firestorm JLA membership at the end.


Flash #281:
Cary Bates has Barry Allen in the middle of the length storyline about the murder of Iris. There are corrupt cops and Professor Zoom. This issues really drives home the transitional nature of this era at DC. The Don Heck cover could easily be on a Silver Age Comic, but the story itself is more gritty and 80s-like.

Ghosts #84: Bland horror analogy. One of the stories didn't even have a ghost, I don't think.

Jonah Hex #32: Long-time JH scribe Michael Fleischer and Garcia-Lopez deliver a decent but unspectacular tale of Hex going to confront a bounty hunter who had humiliated him when he was starting out, only to have a different sort of reckoning than he was imagining.

Justice League of America #174: This Conway and Dillin joint seems a bit like a Marvel story in the socially relevant (and blaxploitation) 70s. Green Arrow thinks the way the League treated Black Lightning (who GA wanted to join the team) last issue was basically racist, so he and so others go to try to track him down, but everybody gets sidetracked by an African American scientist in Suicide Slum using a device he control rats and giant rats into rampaging to get back at the Man. When the villain is defeated, Black Lightning still doesn't want to join the League, because he likes to play by his own rules.

Men of War #24: Gravedigger is a badass, black commando in World War II, dealing with racism on both sides of the conflict. His story here by Harris and Ayers is pretty good for a war anthology of the era, which may be damning with faint praise. Rosa by Kupperberg and Grandinetti (again with his unique style) is another character I'd never heard of: a mid-19th Century adventurer with a vaguely Dumas vibe. This story feels like there show be more too it, being more serial. 


Secret of Haunted House #20:
Better than Ghosts, this at least has one decent (for this sort of thing) yarn, then another where a couple of criminals are tricked by their own reflections. Destiny (later of the Endless) hosts.

Superman #343: Is a goofy, Silver Agey tale by O'Neil and Curt Swan about a wizard/seer from ancient Pompeii who keeps interpreting his visions wrong and messing things up. but ultimately Superman saves the day and teaches the wizard not to jump to conclusions. Of course, Pompeii is long destroyed, so lesson learned at last, I guess? This story buys into the conceit that Superman is not merely as vulnerable to magic as any normal person, but is specifically susceptible to it. Every Superman story published this month outside of the team-ups feels like a throwback compared to almost any Marvel title published this same month.

Superman Family #199: These stories feel less like throwbacks (well, except the "Mr. and Mrs. Superman" story, which does) and more like episodes of tv series that never existed. Supergirl takes on a guy who steals her (invulnerable) cape to sell to a crime boss, Lois Lane busts a sinister corporation testing mind control drugs on inner city school kids, and Jimmy Olsen foils a blackmail plot against one of his journalistic mentors who's harboring secret. All of these stories are pretty good in basic storytelling ways (baring in mind it's 1979 and a comic), but are utterly without the color and bombast one typically associates with superhero comics.

Weird War Tales #83: Doesn't have much to recommend it. Of note, however, is that only one of the three weird war tales in the issue takes place in World War II (Nazis versus vampires). The others are in the Syrian-Israel conflict and British Rhodesia, respectively. I guess eventually you can get too much WWII in comics!

Wonder Woman #263: I talked about a bit here

Also on your local grocery magazine aisle at this time, two DC digests: Best of DC #3 (Superfriends) and Jonah Hex and Other Western Tales #3, and a Dollar Comic reprint issue, DC Special Series #20, featuring three Wein and Wrightson Swamp Thing tales.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Bronze Age of Comics Counterfactual


What if somehow the deal that saw Marvel sold to Cadence and (eventually) Martin Goodman out of the company had gone wrong in some way? I don't have a single pivot point to make this an honest to goodness alternate history, but let's just assume Marvel was crippled sometime in the early 70s, and DC was the beneficiary of an influx of young talent needing jobs. This talent glut may have also weakened the hold of DC's old guard editorial, opening up DC to innovation that were definitely needed.

In one sentence: What if 70s Marvel had basically happened at DC?

Now, since this is ostensibly a gaming blog, I am more focused on how certain storylines or character intros might have transpired at the Distinguished Competition more than "wouldn't Batman have been great under creator [x]?" mainly because I think that focus is no less interesting, and more supers rpg gameable.

Here are some highlights:

Starlin takes over Green Lantern after the commercial failure of "Hard Traveling Heroes" and goes cosmic. GL battles a new assault by Darkseid (Starlin becomes the first writer to tackle the Fourth World after Kirby's series ended) and eventually even gains cosmic awareness through an encounter with the being that first set the Guardians on their path.

Steve Gerber brings his off-beat style to a revival of the Doom Patrol, and makes the adventures of the Swamp Thing even stranger.

Len Wein and Dave Cockrum bring some new members to the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Claremont follows for a long run. He also pens the limited series, drawn by Frank Miller, that makes Timber Wolf a star.

That's just for starters, but you get the idea.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Zines to Love

 Zinequest 3 is upon us and several of blogging and gaming compatriots have some entries for your enjoyment:


GRIDSHOCK 20XX is the long-awaited (at least by me) totally 80s, post-apocalyptic superhero game by Paul Vermeren. GRIDSHOCK is a great concept, imminently gameable and fairly original (in its synthesis of its influences), and the art and design look gorgeous. 


The Many Crypts of Lady Ingrade by Tim Shorts is an old school adventure with art by Jason Sholtis. I did the cover design for this one. Tim's GM Games really cranks out really table-ready, classic-gaming stuff, and I expect this one to be no different.

Through Ultan's Door #3 will reveal more of Ben Laurence's dreamlands-type fantasy setting. It's already busted is initial goal and blazed through it's stretch goals, but there's still time to jump in. The previous issues are both great physical artifacts and chock full of content.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Weird Revisited: The Mighty

This post originally appeared in 2018...

 
Art by Jack Kirby

In the Country of Sang in the Land of Azurth, there are those born among the human tribes and city-states that have abilities beyond those of other mortals. These are the Mighty.

No one knows why the Mighty are so gifted. Some believe they bear the blood of the Ancients, who had mastered mastered sorcery and science to make themselves superhuman, while others think that they are specially chosen by forgotten gods. Often Mighty individuals will appear as normal humans until some sort of fateful trial or challenge, but these experiences are merely the catalysts of change not the source of their power.


Mighty Traits:

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2, and your Constitution score increases by 1.
Age. The Mighty live somewhat longer lifespans as mundane humanity, perhaps a bit over a century, but the mature at the same rate.
Alignment. The Mighty may be of any alignment.
Size. The Mighty are powerfully built and generally tall (6 to 7 feet, or sometimes more). Your size is Medium.
Speed. Base walking speed is 30 feet.
Athletic Prowess. You have proficiency in the Athletics skill.
Superhuman Endurance. You can focus your will to occasionally shrug off injury. When you take damage, you can use your reaction to roll a d12. Add your Constitution modifier to the number rolled, and reduce the damage by that total. After you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
Strength Beyond Mortals. You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.
Fearlessness. You have advantage on saves against fear.

Art by Bruce Timm

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Wednesday Comics: Logos and Directions

Logos

If you are a fan of comic book (and other media) logo design, you should be periodically checking in on Todd Klein's pages, where he providers commentary on classic logo treatments and his own design process.

I also discovered yesterday that Rian Hughes (designer of all of DC's very modern Tangent line logos among others) has put out a book hos his designs called  Logo-a-gogo: Branding Pop Culture.


From Implosion to Crisis

I've also decided in the coming weeks to return to a project I mentioned about a month ago of reading all of DC's output in the years between the DC Implosion and Crisis on Infinite Earths. I believe I've settled on cover date of January 1980 as my start date (this would have been comics on the racks in October of 1979). This is about a year after the end of the implosion, so things have settled in again. It also gives me a year's less comics to read than starting in '78.

Look for this starting next week in this space.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Star Trek Ranger: Here Be Dragons



Player Characters: The Crew of the USS Ranger, Federation scout ship:
Aaron as Lt.(jg.) Cayson Randolph
Andrea as Capt. Ada Greer
Dennis, as Lt. Osvaldo Marquez, Medical Officer
Paul as Cmdr. D.K. Mohan, Chief Helmsman

Synposis: Ranger answers a distress call from a shuttle carrying the Ksang ambassador to important talks with the Federation. The ship has gone down on Gweldor, a primitive world with a Medieval level of technology, off-limits thanks to the Prime Directive. The away team goes down to investigate and finds the shuttle strayed into Gweldor's atmosphere due to a malfunction, but was downed by a mysterious energy discharge that came from the planet. They find the shuttle's pilot dead and decapitated (the head not in evidence) and the ambassador apparently carried away.

Mingling with the population, they discover the ambassador was taken to the local lord who wishes to kill a dragon (they are now extinct on Gweldor) to prove his worthiness to marry the daughter of the King.

Commentary: This adventure was based on an idea I had had years ago for my Starships & Spacemen Star Trek game, but never ran. The Ksang look like Marvel's Fin Fang Foom, but are mammal-like.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Weird Revisited: STAR WARRIORS!

In a distant part of the galaxy, on the worlds orbiting a giant blue star, a war wages between good and evil....

So begins a fairly derivative space opera saga and mini-setting for any game. Here are two of the primary factions:

The good guys:


The Lords of Light are the surviving members of the oldest intelligent species in the universe. They created the star system of the Star Warriors in the distant past. Most have become one with the Enigma Source, but are still able to advise the forces of good.

And the baddies:


The Demons were unleashed by the greatest failure of the race that would become the Lords of Light. These insectoid shapeshifters have harnessed the power of the Abyss--the entropic Anti-Source and use it to empower acolytes of their own. Their dark cult is behind much political unrest.


Friday, February 5, 2021

Weird Revisited: Hexcrawl Rann

The original version of this post appeared in 2016...

 

I've mentioned Krypton before, but that's not the only planet in the DC Universe that has a lot of crazy locations. Check out the map of Rann, I talked about in this old post. Here are some highlights:

Dancing Waters of Athline: A field of high-power geysers whose sprays are shaped by strong winds.
Flaming Sea: Flames sprout from the surface of this body of water.
Illsomar: A ruined city where Nimar, a megalomaniacal, super-intelligent energy being that resembles a gigantic, Bohr-model atom has taken up residence. He is able to animate humanoid figures of metal, stone, and sand to serve him.
Kryys: A city of ice in the polar regions.
Land of A Thousand Smokes: An area containing numerous fumaroles.
Old Reliable: A sinking island in the Sea of Ybss; a source of the rare metal orichalkum.
Samakand: An advanced city that exists outside of conventional spacetime and only appears once every 25 years.


Tower of Rainbow Doom
: In the ruined city of Yardana (or Vardana), it is a sacrificial place for the primitive Zoora tribesman. When a switch in thrown in it's central room, concentric flashes of rainbow light surround a throne-like chair and transport anyone or anything in it to a neighboring planet.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Appendix X Minus 1: Pulp Uranus & Its Moons

 

This continues my pulp DIY anthology of the solar system I first mentioned in this post on the Jovian moons. This time, another cold, distance spot less glamorous than Mars or Venus: Uranus.

"Planet of Doubt" (1935) by Stanley Weinbaum - "Something moved! Up! Up!" Pat screamed.
"Code of the Spaceways" (1936) by Clifton B. Kruse - A tale of far places, of men who are not afraid, of life on the star trail.
"Derelicts of Uranus" (1941) by J. Harvey Haggard - Here is Adventure and Danger. Mud-fishers, and a girl, — and a quasi-human looking for trouble.


And its moons, which don't see as much action as Jupiter's, have some stories, as well:

Titania
"Salvage in Space" (1933) by Jack Williamson - To Thad Allen, meteor miner, comes the dangerous bonanza of a derelict rocket-flier manned by death invisible.
"Shadrach" (1941) by Nelson S. Bond - Once, in Bible times, three men were cast into a fiery furnace—and lived! Now, on far-off, frozen Titania, three space-bitten Shadrachs faced the same awful test of godship.

Oberon
"Treasure of the Thunder Moon" (1942) by Edmond Hamilton - It's hell to be told 37 is too old to fly the
void when yon know where a great treasure lies.