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Wednesday Comics: Seven Soldiers

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 08/15/2018 - 11:00

The "metaseries" Seven Soldiers by Grant Morrison and various artists in getting the omnibus treatment later this month. You might want to go ahead and pre-order that. If you haven't read it, I think you will enjoy it. Morrison sort of re-imagines several DC characters (a preponderance of Kirby characters, but not all) and makes them a team that never actually teams up (once you read it that will make sense). The art by the likes of J.H. Williams III, Ryan Sook, and Frazier Irving (and that's not all) is really good.

If the omnibus format doesn't grab you, you can still get it as two hardcovers or paperbacks.

The Giant and the Rock

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 08/13/2018 - 11:00
Our Land of Azurth 5e game continued last night, with the crew of the yellow submarine (which included the PCs) still trying to find their way to the Land of Under-Sea. Captain Cog has been stymied from getting their bearing by a tempest that drove them deep. When it lifted, they rose to the surface and found discovered a floating rock outcropping, like a asteroid in the atmosphere overhead. Even stranger, they were hailed from it by an imprisoned giant:


Calibrax (the giant) alleges that his flying island, Yufo, was stolen, and he was unjustly imprisoned here by a wizard named Phosphoro. Calibrax wishes to enlist the party's help in freeing him from the wizard's chains. When the party seems reluctant, he suggests they take the secret passage on the underside of the island to the wizard's sanctum and discover his villainy for themselves. That, the party agrees to do.

Using Kairon's broom of flying, they fly up and open the hatch. They discover a passageway where they are weightless and a brass whistle floating inside. The bard Kully manages to find the right note to have them whisked into a strange, spherical structure, divided up into rooms. They explore the rooms and discovered several magic items before trying to open a door with a jewel encrusted design.


Waylon the frogling touches the design and finds himself in a maze, being hunted by a bronze minotaur. He must touch the gem stones found across the maze in the right order to escape. With the help of his friends, he manages to do that. The puzzle solved and the door opens to a banquet hall.

Strange music beguiles half the party and a blue-skinned woman shows up to taunt and threaten them. She is the wizards servant, Ariella. Before she can decided what to do with them, she is summoned away. Next they are greeted by the wizard's daughter, Randa. She reveals her father was ruler of a distant world, but his throne was usurped. They have been traveling "by circuitous, subconscious routes," never approaches their home by the direct path, so as not to be detected. They have been returning for "eons." Randa says Calibrax's crime was aggressively seeking her hand.


She offers to take the party to her quarters where they can rest away from Ariella's tricks, and they agree.

Indiana Jones Judge's Survival Pack

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 14:00

When I did my retro-review of the TSR Indiana Jones role-playing game, I mentioned the much cited fact that it doesn't have character generation rules, but noted that it did in its first supplement. It's worth taking a look at that supplement, because it has some other interesting stuff there.

The Indiana Jones Judge's Survival Pack (IJAC1) is a slim supplement (16 pages), but all contains a "supplemental" Judge's Screen with repeated information on old and new weapons, and stats for common animals and vehicles. Then there's the making of a cardboard device to allow to show the results a various sorts of checks, which seems more trouble to put together than it's probably worth.

Anyway, the first topic tackled in the main book is character generation, and it runs only one page. You roll ability score on percentile die, improve them with 30 points to spread around (but nothing can be increased above 70, though you obviously can roll over 70). Then, you determine your broad background (Education, Soldiering, and Real World), then select skills. Interestingly, the Education and Real World skills are on a chart with no dice rolls next to it, suggesting you choose them, while Soldiering does have dice rolls. Since the directions are identical, I assume this was an oversight.

The next section would be of particular interest to old school procedure-lovers: Random Ruins. It has tables that determine basic history, some architectural features, items of interest, creatures or hazards encountered, and tables of "dungeonmorphs" for room and hallway configurations. It's compact but flavorful, and might be useful for GMs in other genres, at least for some random inspiration building.

Next, the chase rules from the main book are expanded. The chase rules are a set of procedures often cited as one of the interesting thing about the game. This adds new location flowcharts (including rooftop chase for foot chases), and adds some flow stunt rules for really aggressive driving or things like trapeze swings and vaulting for foot chases.

The last couple of pages were probably interesting or somewhat useful in the pre-internet days, but all now just filler. There's chart of ancient scripts including cunieform, hieroglyphics, and runes, then a page of small maps of real life ruins/site maps.

The Judge's Survival Pack would have been an essential aid for a referee actually running Indiana Jones. Gamers playing other games still might find its random ruins or chase rules usual, the the latter would also require the basic game.

Impish Misadventures

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 08/10/2018 - 11:00

I've had this idea for a game for a while, but haven't done anything with it yet, but I thought writing it down would insure I don't forget it.

The high concept would be: "C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters meets GURPS Goblins." It would be an infernal Horatio Alger story (or parody thereof) where young imps try to get ahead in Hell's hierarchy by misadventure, toadying, and blind luck. They would be abused and give out abuse and probably come to comedically horrible ends--only to be respawned in the larvae pools and start their Sisyphean climb to archdevil-hood once again.

The rules would need to be simple, but (like GURPS Goblins) flavorful, and I imagine gameplay as something like (GURPS Goblins) with a bit of Paranoia and D&D with a pinch of Planescape.

Armchair Planet Who's Who Update

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 11:00
Art by Agus Calcagno
There's been a bit of a lull in the posting on the Armchair Planet Who's Who superhero supplement, but work proceeds. Here are a couple of new pieces of art to prove it! Since designer's notes seem to be the new hip thing (at least according to G+ discussion), I wanted to say a bit about my approach to the writing of it, beyond the game stats side of things.

Like Strange Stars, the Who's Who is meant to suggest a world rather than completely describe it. Unlike Strange Stars, it does it almost entirely through characters, and specifically the presentation of character like the DC Who's Who or similar to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. This means there might be more detail on a given character (maybe) than you need at the table, but you can always flip the page and go straight to the game stats. Or, you can read the text and get hints of the superhero universe the characters inhabit, and perhaps a sort of meta view of the different "ages" f the fictional comic book company that published them. (We won't dwell on the hypothetical Armchair Planet Comics. The only textual appearance of it will be in the "first appearances" of characters, which can be easily ignored if you find such conceits too precious.)

So you might read about the Abhumans making their home in an abandoned city of the ancient Hyperboreans or learn that Thunderhawk once teamed up with those motorcycle-riding, crimefighting ladies, the Avenging Angels, but you won't find entries for either Avenging Angels or Hyperboreans, or for the teen-humor-comic-refugee band, The Tomorrows, that Futura shares a house with. Context will hopefully be enough to get your creative juices flowing and you don't need me over-specifying homages to various fictional entities you're already aware of. If your version is substantially different than the one I came up with, well that's just fine.

Also, the characters themselves, while all fitting a late Bronze Age DC mold have hints of the eras they were likely "born" in built into them. Some have origins that clearly saw their earliest versions in the Golden Age (like Champion), while others (like Damselfly) show telltale signs of (multiple) later eras. My goal was less a consistent comics universe than a naturalistic one, though like any good handbook of the mid-80s, I've smoothed over the incongruities to make it look coherent. Which is to say, I wrote it like incongruities were being smoothed over.

As I write this, it all sounds a bit metatextual, but I don't think the finished product will require that level of engagement. Also, I feel like superhero role-playing is a genre that has always had a bit of metatextuality to it. If comics history easter eggs and homages can be put to use in springboarding the creation, well maybe, if used with restraint, they might serve a purpose.

Art by Chris Malgrain

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Living Planet (part 4)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 08/08/2018 - 11:00
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: The Living Planet (1986) (part 4)
(Dutch: De Levende Planeet)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

Thanks to his rescue of the daughter of the crew member, the captain agrees to let him try his plan to kill the fire worm, despite the fact he's an escaped debtor. However, Ember is held hostage and put in peril to unsure he's not playing tricks:


Storm climbs on board one of the flyers with one of the pilots and arms himself with a harpoon.  When he sends a harpoon down the creatures throat, it explodes internally, where the worm has no armor:


Their flying mount is hit by pieces of the flying worm and is going down.


The current makes the animals body rigid, and they are able to walk down its wing to rescue before it is consumed by the lava. They are greeted as heroes. Ember is set free. They are debtors no more.

Storm, as the worm's killer is offered the honor of drinking one of it's eyes. Storm demures.

The Captain now has to figure out what to do with Storm and the other freed debtors. Before they can complete the conversation, both Ember and Storm began to choke and ultimately collapse!


TO BE CONTINUED

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