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Updated: 3 days 15 hours ago

Negastar!

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 11:00

Jim "Flashback Blog" Shelley and I are working on a comic (and possibly a related rpg project) with artist Chris Malgrain. Here's a DC Who's Who style entry for Negastar, the first of the character designs completed. The text is semi-accurate, semi-placeholder, and as such is subject to alteration.

There will be game stats at some point for this guy, but not today!

Here's the character in color:


The Terror And the Ice-Gripped Sandbox

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 04:00

The AMC drama The Terror is based on the novel by Dan Simmons which in turn is a fictionalization of the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin. The events in the show and the novel have light supernatural element, but most it's a tale of the typical things that would befall ships stuck in the arctic ice for years.

I've been thinking the ice pack could replace the Sargasso Sea in the film The Lost Continent. It could hold the descendants of people marooned their years ago. Their could be a frozen graveyard of ship with weird micro-societies and weird monsters.

Wednesday Comics: X-men Grand Design Treasury Edition

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 11:00

I've mentioned X-Men: Grand Design by Ed Piskor before. It's a retelling and synthesis of the history of the X-Men into a single narrative. If you haven't picked up either of the issues in the first chapter in another format, let me suggest you get the Treasury Edition that recently came out. It's an attractive packing (see above) and oversized (over 9 in. wide and over 13 inches tall) size that compliments Piskor's dense page layout.


Submarine Shenanigans

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 11:00

Our 5e Land of Azurth game continued last night, with the party trying to find Kully's father, Cory Keenstep, and figure out how to get him out from under the Sea King, who was holding Keenstep until he won back all the money he had lost. After some exploring of the Sea King's nautiloid manse, they discover Cory is keeping the Sea King's ex-wife, Cecaelia, company in the upstairs sitting room.

It turns out the Cecaelia is a self-absorbed, former (or at least so she claims) starlet. She's keeping Cory busy fetching her drinks, thereby frustrating her ex in two ways: by keeping sea ladies from getting up to him, and by keeping Cory from gambling with him

Cory, an old swindler, is unhelpful in collaborating with the party to make his escape. He wants them to kill (or at least suitably wound) the Sea King so they can get out with the money. This does not strike his son or any of the rest of them as a good plan. Instead, they go to talk to the Sea King, sulking in his penthouse.

The Sea King is willing to let them take Cory--if the royal treasury's gambling debt to him is cancelled and the party smuggles up some young ladies from the party past Cecaelia. The party agrees, but rather than forfeit the funds, they hatch another scheme: they'll sell Cecaelia on headlining a touring stage show in the Land of Under Sea and take her off the Sea King's hands. He'll presumably be grateful enough to let them keep the money.

A natural 20 Persuades the ex-Sea Queen of this plan. The Sea King is incredulous that anyone would want to take the high maintenance Cecaelia with them, but he agrees, tentatively. Cory suggests this is a bad plan and they should just make a break for it.

In this, the party soon begins to realize, he may be right. Logistics of supplying Cecaelia the staff she needs and taking her with them prove daunting, and the Sea King is stingy with extra funds. Ultimately, they decide to stick Cory with her and deal with all this later--only to to find he's slunk off to the submarine and left them holding the bag!


The party takes off too, and makes it to the submarine where they resume there voyage, but they don't get far. The Sea King, grown to giant size, grabs the submarine and flings it through the water a great distance. When they finally right themselves and are able to take bearings. Cog announces that they are lost!

Underground Comics is Almost Here

Sun, 04/15/2018 - 14:00

First mentioned six months ago, Underground Comics #1 is now nearing completion! It will be 36-pages and 6 black and white features of dungeon-related stuff. Jeff Call debuts that delvers best friend, "Dungeon Dog." James V. West uncovers a lost poem of Barrowstain Goodly, Great of the Brownie poets in "The Ballad of the Doomed Delvers." Karl Stjernberg gives us a glimpse of the dungeoneer "Before and After."

A veritable treasure trove, right? But we're not done. There's also OSR art luminaries like Jason Sholtis, Luka Rejec, and the legendary Stefan Poag!

Look for it in POD and digital in June.



The Operation is About to Begin!

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 11:00

At last, the Operation Unfathomable soft cover proof is in Jason Sholtis's trembling hand--and it looks good! Check out this two-page spread:


Vouchers for order will go out to Kickstarter backers very soon and in in a short time, it will be available for purchase by anyone on rpgnow.

The Return of Descriptions in Need of Hexes

Thu, 04/12/2018 - 11:00
Edd Cartier
Between Inaust and Rynaw on the Old Panarch Road, a hired coach rumbles past pulled at breakneck speed by a velocipede team. One wonders what mission drives the passengers to brave the dangers and discomforts of the road at night with marauding Gog bands in the vicinity, an ogre slain nearby within a fortnight, and the uncanny croak of a nyctoghoul heard in the distance.

In a clearing in Unthran Wood, a flame-colored thrykee has fallen, bleeding and broken-winged, dying. Skeleton Men pirates move out from their flier, stalking cautiously toward the creature with weapons drawn. The thrykee's saddle is empty. Citrine scintilla glint in the grass, forming a loose trail out from it and toward the surrounding trees.


Enrique AlcatenaBeyond the old fortress of Eneb-Draath, at the edge of the Sanguine Desert, youthful bands of tribesfolk howl and dance around fires built amid the fearsome, angular shadow of their war machines, their war gods. Drunk on liquor made from desert lichen and machine ichor, they whip themselves into a battle frenzy. The tribes claim descent from the First Men who were born in the void and reared solely by machines, and so view the ancient and derelict things left from the First Men's war with the ieldri as their birthright.

These are from this world.

Wednesday Comics: Stuff I Read in the Last Week

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 11:00

Injection Vol. 1
A thinktank of eccentric geniuses do a bad thing combining the occult with AI and the world may pay for it if they can't set it right. Typical Warren Ellis characters (very competent but flawed, unique protagonists) in a story that is a bit X-Files-ian (or really more reminiscent of the X-file progenitor Nigel Kneale) but with a more action-y flair.


The Terrifics #1
Four super-powered individuals (Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, Plastic Man, and a Phantom Girl) led by a genius get together to have fantastic adventures. Not a lot happens in the first issue but it ends with an appearance by [SPOILERS] Tom Strong, so they have my interest at least for a couple more issues.

Visit Skaro

Mon, 04/09/2018 - 11:00
For those of you not familiar with Doctor Who lore (which I would imagine are vanshing few members of my audience, but still), Skaro is the homeworld of those plunger-armed, shrill-voiced robotic monsters, the Daleks.

According to the map, first appearing in The Dalek Book (1964), Skaro is almost D&D Outer Plane weird. Check out the named locales here:

Seas of Rust, Ooze, and Acid. The Lake of Mutations. The Radiation Range. All pretty dire stuff. Also, don't miss the note on the giant "serpents" of Darren that are really mutated earthworms!
If that's not enough, subterranean Skaro, is just as weird:



DC at Marvel Collected Edition

Fri, 04/06/2018 - 11:00


In case you missed the previous installments, here's a collated list of the posts I've done so far based on the idea that the staff at Marvel in the late 50s early 60s got to revamp DC's Golden Age characters (except for those that never stopped being published. The idea was introduced here.

All the characters presented so far are statted for the TSR Marvel Superheroes rpg:

The Atom The Nuclear Man!
Green Lantern Most Cosmic Hero of Them All!
Hawkman Master of Flight!
And a couple of villains Silver Scarab, the nemesis of Hawkman, and Star Sapphire--is she Green Lantern's lover or his enemy--or both?


Wednesday Comics: The Tragically Uncollected 1963

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 11:00

1963 was a 6-issue limited series published by Image in 1993. It was a homage (and gentle parody) of the Silver Age of Marvel. It features the talents of Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, Rick Veitch, and Dave Gibbons. It is twenty years later incomplete and is unlikely to ever be completed.

The characters in 1963 are familiar without (mostly) being straight analogs. Mystery Incoporated comes the closely to a straight pastiche, by being the Fantastic Four with different powers and slightly different personality dynamics. The Fury fills the Spider-Man niche, but has a more Bucky-like backstory with hints of Daredevil. USA, Ultimate Special Agent is the Captain America stand-in, but more resembles lesser known patriotic heroes. Horus feels the Thor god-slot. Johnny Beyond is a beatnik Doctor Strange. The Hypernaut is like Iron Man by way of Green Lantern, done all Kirby/Starlin cosmic.

The issues strive for a 60s feel with faux-bullpen bulletins, fake ads, and nicknames for all the creative staff.

Attempts have been made by Bissette and Veitch to complete it or get a collection published but something has always got in the way (and that something may very well be Alan Moore who seems to now hold a grudge against Bissette) but the individual issues can be picked up relatively inexpensively.




Weird Revisited: Highlights from the Dungeoneering Medicine Conference

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 11:00
This post first appeared in 2012. It was one of the minor posts in the Weird Adventures setting that didn't make it into the book.


In 5887, the City Medical Society hosted a symposium on unusual maladies seen among delvers and possible treatments. Here are a few of the highlights:

Spectral Encounter-Induced Cataracts: J.H. Shaxwell discussed a series of cases of cataracts resulting from close encounter with incorporeal undead. Shaxwell theorizes this is the result of negative energy exposure.

Care of the Soul-Dislocated Patient: Trelane Cantor described the care provided unfortunates who have had their astral bodies separated via thaumaturgy. Emphasis was placed on environmental safety.

A Case of Amathocosis: A unique pneumoconiosis resulting from inhalation of the particulate matter left after a demilich encounter was described by Nyland Tonsure.

Antibiotic Resistance of Infernal Acquired Venereal Disease: Villard M. Sturm warns that succubi derived sexually transmitted diseases often required potent alchemical intervention.

Work in Progress

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 14:00
Coloring the sketch of our Land of Azurth adventuring party by Steve LeCouilliard.

Azurth Eggs

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 11:00

The Rabbit Folk of Azurth have a thing with eggs. Read about it here--and have a good weekend!

DC at Marvel: Atom, The Nuclear Man!

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 11:00
This is a follow-up to this post.
ATOM

STATISTICS
F                 RM   (30)
A                 GD  (10)
S                 EX  (20)
E                 IN   (40)
R                 IN (40)
I                   EX   (20)
P                  GD   (10)
Health:  110
Karma: 70
Resources: GD (10)

BACKGROUND
Real Name: Peter Palmer
Occupation: Physics professoer
Identity: Secret
Legal Status: Citizen of the United States with no criminal record.
Place of Birth: New York City
Marital Status: Single
Base of Operations: New York City
Group Affiliation: Avengers

KNOWN POWERS
Alter Ego. All of his powers manifest with a transformation to his Atom form, which is green-skinned.  As Peter Palmer his Strength and Endurance are only Typical.
Radiation Emission: His body generates radiation of up to Incredible intensity. He can direct it in a blast at one target up to Incredible rank, or release it to effect an area. When transformed, he emits Poor intensity radiation constantly. He wears a containment suit to protect others.
Resistance: In Atom form, he has Incredible resistance to energy and Remarkable resistance to physical attacks.
Growth: The Atom can channel his radiation to increase his size and mass with Good ability up to 24 feet tall. (his growth works like Atom-Smasher's here.)

TALENTS

Palmer is a brilliant scientist in the fields of physics and engineering.

History: Peter Palmer was a genius graduate student, but a proverbial “98-lbs. weakling.” He was working with his mentor, Dr. Curt Connors on perfecting the Atomic Transmuter than could transform materials into other forms. Palmer was in love with law student Mary Jane Loring but he believed her to be infatuated with the more traditionally manly Major Glenn Talbot who represented the military’s interest in Connors’ research. In reality, Loring was conflicted, alternately intrigued and put-off by the diffident Palmer.

Palmer brought a group of high school students to a demonstration of the Transmuter. When something went wrong and the Transmuter overloaded, he heroically attempted to shield student Rick Jones from the blast. Palmer’s cells were bombarded with radiation. He awakened a short time later in the hospital, remarkably unscathed, but within hours he began transforming into a green-skinned being, He grew ever larger and, confused and delirious, went on a mindless rampage until he dissipated enough radiation in combat with military tanks to return to normal.

For a time, it appeared that Palmer might have been cured, but within weeks, the energy began to build up in him again. Palmer built a containment suit that allowed him to control the power. He dubbed himself the Atom, and begins using his powers to fight alien menaces and Communist spies. Over the years, he has gained greater control over his powers, but also perfected his containment suit to a much less bulky form.


Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Hounds of Marduk

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 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 Hounds of Marduk (1985) 
(Dutch: De Honden van Marduk) (part 5)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

The Hound man forces the craven rebel leader to take him to Storm, but when the door is opened, Storm and his friends have escaped by climbing out a whole in a dome unto the roof.

One of the rebels, incensed by his leaders betrayal, activates all the temple's ancient booby traps. In numerous fiendish ways, men are killed:


Meanwhile, Storm and friends have climbed down from the rooftop--and just in time, too. The motion of all the traps being sprung at once begins to shake apart the ancient temple, and the toxic gases meet flows of fire:


Storm, Nomad, and Ember stumble on to the field where the Hound and his men left their aircraft. Storm is confident he can fly it. The pilot, springing from hiding, gets the drop on him. He plans to turn Storm over the the Theocrat. The Hound has other ideas:


Marduk watching the scene is joyous. He thinks he has the Anomaly. The Hound, though, reveals that he is the dog Storm saved in the harbor. Despite what Marduk did to him, the Hound has not forgotten. The lets Storm go.

The enraged Marduk activates the collar and in a flash of energy the man hound is again just a hound. He bounds off just as Storm and friends fly away.

What Do You Want to See?

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 11:00

Hopefully, everyone who reads this blog is aware of (and enjoying) the two Land of Azurth products on the market. I have two more planned currently: a second issue of the Azurth Adventures Digest and the adventure The Cloud Castle of Azurth. Both are running behind schedule due to real life stuff, but I still intend to bring them out.

Blog comments are exactly profuse these days, but I thought it was worth asking both here and on social media: What particularly would those who appreciate Azurth material like to see in the future? More adventures, maybe something in the other countries of Azurth beyond Yanth? A pure setting book? While I can't promise I will go with suggestions, the content of the second Azurth Adventures Digest was at the suggestion of Enworld's Chris Helton. So I do listen sometimes!

A Day When Titans Walk the Earth!

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 12:00
I saw Pacific Rim: Uprising yesterday. My short review: If you liked the first Pacific Rim, you will probably like this one, though I missed some of the del Toro quirkiness. If you didn't like the first one, this one probably won't change you mind about the series.

Anyway, vaguely tentacled blob things from another dimension taking over the minds of those who make contact with them, driving them mad, and monsters rising from the ocean depths made me think of the Cthulhu Mythos. The first movie had me distracted with the name "kaiju" and all that, but it really is a sort of Lovecraftian (in a way Lovecraft himself would have never, ever wrote it) setup.

Now, I know there is a game called CthulhuTech which is mecha vs. Lovecraftian monsters/aliens, but what I think would be cool is something a bit less Neon Genesis Evangelion and more 70s Shogun Warriors! That would be a cool setting, I think.


DC at Marvel: Bring On the Bad Guys

Thu, 03/22/2018 - 11:00
This is a follow-up to this post and those that came after.


SILVER SCARAB

STATISTICS
F                 RM   (30)
A                 RM  (30)
S                 RM  (30)
E                 RM   (30)
R                 GD (10)
I                   EX   (20)
P                  EX   (20)
Health: 120
Karma: 50
Resources: GD (10)

BACKGROUND
Real Name: Anton Hastor
Occupation: KGB special operative
Identity: Known to authorities
Legal Status: Citizen of the USSR
Place of Birth: Unknown
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: Previously New York City, now Moscow
Group Affiliation: Former Soviet Super-Soldier

KNOWN POWERS
None.
Nth Metal Armor: All powers and enhanced abilities derive from a powered nth metal exoskeleton he wears Without it, his physical stats at F TY, A GD, S GD, E GD. The Armor possess Incredible Material Strength and has the following powers:
Body Armor: Incredible rank.
Flight: Remarkable airspeed.
Energy Blast: Remarkable damage.
Solar Absorption: Remarkable rank.
Self-Sustenance: 1 hour air supply.
Talents: Trained spy, engineer.

History: Anton Hastor either is (or believes himself to be) the reincarnation of an Egyptian high priest. He is obsessed with killing Hawkman and Hawkgirl, but wishes to still all of Hawkman's inventions for the Soviet Union as well.


STAR SAPPHIRE

STATISTICS
F                 RM   (30)
A                 RM  (40)
S                 GD   (10)
E                 RM   (30)
R                 EX (20)
I                   GD   (10)
P                  EX   (30)
Health: 100
Karma: 60
Resources: EX (20)

BACKGROUND
Real Name: Carol Ferris
Occupation: Queen of the Femizons; Acting head of Ferris Aerospace
Identity: Secret
Legal Status: Citizen of the United States with no criminal record
Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: Carl Ferris (father)
Base of Operations: Central City, California
Group Affiliation: Queen of the Femizons

KNOWN POWERS
Star Sapphire: All powers are derived from jewel of Amazing material strength she wears.
Energy Blasts: Amazing rank.
Force Blasts: Amazing Rank.
Force Field: a solidified energy shield of Amazing rank in a single area.
Flight: Incredible air speed within atmosphere, Class 3000 in space
Life Support: A life-support field, providing breathable air and protection from the elements, as well as an Amazing force field. This field can be sustained even if she is unconscious.
Phasing: Remarkable rank.
Talents: Pilot, business.
History: Ferris is the boss and sometimes love interest of Hal Hogan, the Green Lantern. On a solo flight across the California desert, Ferris was transported to the 23rd Century (though she was initially allowed to believe it was a different planet) where a gynocratic civilization known as the Sisterhood of Femizonia had emerged in North America after a nuclear war. The sacred jewel fallen from space the Sisterhood venerated told them to select Ferris as their queen. The jewel pushed Ferris to proof her superiority to men by defeating Green Lantern.

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Hounds of Marduk

Wed, 03/21/2018 - 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 Hounds of Marduk (1985) 
(Dutch: De Honden van Marduk) (part 4)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

An aircraft carrying the newly evolved hound and a group of the Theocrat's soldiers lands in a field outside of town. They carry with them a device to locate the Anomaly aka Storm.

Meanwhile, Storm and friends are meeting with the rebel leader. He wants to know why Storm as the Anomaly is so important to Marduk. Storm reluctantly explains Marduk's theory as to how his travel through time and space has filled his body with some sort of energy. Storm demonstrates:


But that's enough to make him show up on the Hound's device. The Theocrat's men track Storm to an abandon temple.


The rebel leader tries to sell Storm on letting the rebellion harness his power. Storm isn't buying it. The rebels detect the incoming Theocrat troops. The temple is full of ancient traps. They kill some of the troops, but the Hound figures out how to avoid them and a contingent makes it through. I firefight breaks out, and the rebel leader attempts to get Storm and friends away.

The Hound, again thinking quickly, uses a prismatic Tear of Pandarve to reflect the energy beam from the booby trap against the rebel forces.



He leads the Theocrat's men forward, but they are stymied by another trap.

Meanwhile, Storm and friends have had about enough of being pushed around by the rebels:


Unaware what's going on in the other room. The rebel leader surrenders to the Hound and his troops who have just made in through. He promises to give them the anomaly in return for his life.

TO BE CONTINUED

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