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Wednesday Comics: New Old Stuff on Comixology

Wed, 09/02/2020 - 11:00

 Browsing the new comics listing on Comixology yesterday, I saw a few things I'd recommend from back in my comics reading youth.

Blackhawk (1988) #1

This prestige format series by Howard Chaykin was subtitled "Blood and Iron" for the trade, and now nice hardcover collection. It grounded these venerable Quality Comics characters in the the complicated historical era of World War II. Where the square-jawed nonentity of the Golden Age is reimagined as Janos Prohaska, a Polish former Communist. Only the first issue is out now (though the collection is), but it's only 1.99, so it's not that expensive to see if you like it.

Solo Avengers (1987) #7

I had a subscription to this title (it later changed it's name to Avengers Spotlight so it would be alphabetically near the other Avengers titles) for a short time for some reason back in the day. I don't remember anything about this particular issue, and I'm sure it's pretty forgettable. But I'm also sure they don't make them like this anymore and it's got art by Jackson Guice and Mark Bright. So if like me you dig comics that era, there are worse things to drop $1.99 on.

Star Trek Ranger: The Impossible Murder

Mon, 08/31/2020 - 11:00

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

Synposis: The Ranger is tasked with transporting the Yannidian Ambassador to Deep Space Station K-7 to negotiate a historic treaty, but the crew finds themselves investigating a murder when the ambassador transports up murdered.
Commentary: This adventure was adapted from a 1980 story in the Marvel Star Trek comic written by Mike Barr. The player's did a great job of investigation in the early part of the adventure and rapidly came up with the likely "how" of the murder, and some ideas as to why. Things slowed down a bit in uncovering the nefarious forces behind the plot, which was probably due to me not providing enough ways to get to the solution to that final puzzle. Mysteries are always a bit a tricky, and that's not less so with Star Trek Adventures than other systems.
Deep Space Station K-7  is of course the place where the Federation first encountered the tribble.

D&D Setting + TSR Game Mashups

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 11:00

 Here's an idea: Take a D&D (mostly 2e) setting and combine it with a non-D&D rpg also published by TSR. Here are a few:

Spelljammer XXVc (Spelljammer + Buck Rogers XXVc)

Buck Rogers is thrown into suspended animation and awakens in a world where magic is ascendant, and Earth is an occupied territory. This winds up being a bit like Shadowrun with rockets (XXVc already had a hint of cyberpunk to it), but the difference is genetic engineering and other high-tech feats would actually be accomplished via magic.

Another Spelljammer combo: Add the Buck Rogers Adventure Game for a pulpier approach.

All Alone in the Night (Ravenloft + Metamorphosis Alpha)

When the generation ship Warden left earth, the monsters went with it, and Dracula takes his real estate schemes to the stars! Like The Starlost, you would need isolated habitats, but here they would be ruled by various horrors. Vampire Hunter D could also be an influence here. 

Another Ravenloft option: Mix in Gangbusters with the monsters as mob bosses.

Wednesday Comics: Protector

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 11:00

The post-apocalyptic science fiction comic Protector recently concluded at Image. I've been told it's going to be renamed First Knife for the trade. I plugged this series by writers Simon Roy, Daniel Bensen and artist Artyom Trakhanov, previously. I thought it was worth mentioning again because the first issue is now available to read online for free on the Image Comics website.

Star Trek Endeavour: The Savage Syndrome (Part 2)

Mon, 08/24/2020 - 11:00

Episode 1.5:
"SAVAGE SYNDROME"Player Characters: The Crew of the USS Endeavour, NCC-1895, Constitution Class Starship (refit):
Andrea as Lt. Ona Greer, Ops Officer
Bob as Capt. Robert Locke
Gina as Cmdr. Isabella Hale, Helm Chief
Jason as Lt. Francisco Otomo, Chief Security OfficerEric As Lt.Cmdr. Tavek, Science Officer
Tug as Dr. Azala Vex, Trill Chief Medical Officer

Synposis: After traveling to the research station on L-373-IV, the crew of Endeavour races against time to repair their shuttle craft and recover specimens that may hold a cure for a devastating neurologic illness, before an ion storm arrives--or the de-evolved former science team kills them.

Commentary: As mentioned in the first post, this adventure is a modified version of the introductory adventure "The Rescue At Xerxes IV," with an episode name borrowed from a story synopsis submitted for the aborted Star Trek Phase II series with a similar conceit.

The science team (as in the published adventure), felt they had discovered a possible treatment, maybe a cure, for Irumodic Syndrome. With time against them, the Endeavour crew were unsuccessful in getting all the samples they needed. The last one eluded their grasp. Still, they hoped some of it was a step ahead of none. 
Tavek, the Vulcan science officer debuting this adventure, wanted to find a cure for the atavism effecting the science team, and indeed all animal life on the planet. He at least succeeded in determining the cause was some ancient, biotechnological entity, activated by the ion storm. Who or what left it behind is a mystery.
Biotechnology (by that name) is perhaps not the go to explanation of Original Series mimicking Trek, but it made more sense to be than the "weird energy" explanation.

Star Trek Ranger: Romulan Encounter

Thu, 08/20/2020 - 11:00

Player Characters:
The Crew of the USS Ranger, Federation scout ship:
Aaron as Lt., j.g. Cayson Randolph, Operations Officer
Andrea as Capt. Ada Greer
Billy as Lt. Cmdt. Sobek, Ship's Counselor
Dennis as Lt. Osvaldo Marquez, Medical Officer
Paul as Cmdr. D.K. Mohan, Chief Helmsman

Synposis: After capturing the Romulans planetside, the away team beams back to the ship to find they have just received a distress call from the Burnell. It's systems are failing and it's running out of time. A painstaking search of the nebula brings them to the warp shuttle--and none to soon because its power is failing and life-support with it. Before they can rescue the crew, the Romulan cruiser Veritex uncloaks and demands they turn over everything they have on the energy weapon on the planet!
Not eager to fight, the Ranger crew negotiates an exchange with the Romulan commander: the Ranger lowers it's shields and beams over the Burnell's crew, while the Romulan's transporter their captured shuttle crew off the Ranger.

Commentary: While I was all set to run a space combat here, the players took the Star Trekian way out and found a nonviolent solution. Mohan's skill at persuasion proved extremely useful as did the ship's counselor Sobek's unexpected acumen with the sensors.
The Romulan vessel was a V-9 temar vastaram "Night Flyer" cruiser, from the FASA Romulan supplement. The Burnell was also a type of ship FASA created: the Pulsar Class warp shuttle.

Wild Wild West Wednesday

Wed, 08/19/2020 - 11:00

This is your periodic reminder that my review of the high points of the Wild Wild West television series from the 1960s, aided by Jim "Flashback Universe" Shelley continues on the Flashback Universe Blog under the Wild Wild West label. A new installment is up today.

Insurgent Middle Earth

Mon, 08/17/2020 - 11:00

If we take The Silmarillion as Elvish mythology (which it is), then most of the doings in Middle Earth are a proxy conflict between two super-powers: Sauron and his minions and the Valar and the Elves. We needn't assume either side is particularly good, In fact, we know the Valar unleashed a devastating weapon of mass destruction against their former allies in Numenor just for getting to cozy with Sauron.

In the modern era, Sauron's forces have been engaged in a protracted occupation of  Eriador. Through the action of the Mordor proxy Angmar, the Western kingdoms of Man were shattered, much of the population fled south, but fanatical bands, the Rangers, structured around the heir to throne of Arnor and Gondor, and supported by the Elves, continued to fight an insurgency against Mordor's Orcish forces and her allies.

Sauron has been a distant and not terribly effective leader for sometime. He has been unable to consolidate Angmar's victory over Arnor (a victory that saw Angmar destroyed in the process) and unable to wipe out the remaining Elvish enclaves and human insurgents.

You get the idea. Shorn of much of it's epic fantasy trappings, Middle Earth becomes a grittier place, where Men, Orcs, and local Elves, are all dealing with the aftermath of a terrible war wrought by super-powers that they perhaps only have the smallest of stakes in, but yet are forced to take most of the risk.

Seems like an interesting place to adventure. 

Spelljammer Revisted: Wings Between Worlds

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 11:00
Occasionally I forget I had actually written a post as opposed to just having the idea, but this one I did write in 2018. It is relevant I think as another perspective on my recent Spelljammer considerations.

Because space-faring sailing ships are so 80s, let's have genuine aircraft flying between worlds, perhaps open cockpit, certainly of the bat-winged, Frazetta variety. Space will have to have air, of course. Let's say the system is enclosed in a big Dyson Sphere--a crystal sphere, if you like. With a sphere full of air, the temperature of the worlds at the various orbits will be of less concern, though where the warmth and the light comes from will have to wait.

The technology of the primary society might be what we would call Dieselpunk, except it isn't particularly punk or Diesel, but it's that between the Wars era, sort of art deco stuff filtered through science fiction. Automobiles out of Flash Gordon and that sort of thing. And, of course magic.

Might as well port in a little bit of Planescape and have the worlds be more a more pulp planet version of the Gygaxian planes. The full compliment of D&D races would be necessary for a Star Wars Cantina vibe. Flash Gordon will help there, too.  The worlds might move in very eccentric orbits. Travel between them might mostly be by sight rather than map.

Weird Revisited: D&D Races as UFOlogy Aliens

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 11:00
The original version of this post appeared in August of 2018...
I bought these Japanese alien figurines about four years ago. Looking at them yesterday, I though they might make good new skins for for D&D races.

Elves = Gray
They're both fan favorites with all the mystique.

Gnomes = Hopskinville Goblin
Magical little pranksters.

Halflings = "Apache" Alien
Their both child-like and cutesy, I guess. Not so sure about this one. (I actually don't know what alien this is supposed the represent. It looks like a Neonate, but the name "Apache" is odd.)

Goliath = Voronezh Alien

Dwarf = Frog Alien
Let's break the Dwarf/Beard connection once and for all. I suppose the Roswell Alien as pictured would be an alternate. Though I and other have statted up frogling races for 5e.

Tiefling = "Triglia" Alien
He's demonic looking!

To Rescue the Duke

Mon, 08/10/2020 - 11:00


Our Land of Azurth 5e game continued last night, with the party plotting to free the Duke of Dhoona from the curse after having killed the evil, plant priest Slekht Zaad. Luckily, Zaad was at least truthful about bringing the antidote, they just have to find a means to deliver it.

Bell and Waylon (the only two not wanted but the city guard) go into the city in disguise to buy a wagon and oxen to sneak the others back in. They return, and everyone else hides in the wagon in any illusory pill of dung.

Once back in the city, they again seek sanctuary in the Temple of Azulina. They send Shade and Waylon to invisibly scout the ducal palace. They find it strangely unguarded, but they are wary.

The group decides to create a diversion with Kully the Bard rabble-rousing against the Duke's crazy policies (most specifically his beer tax) and the rest of the part readying for an invisible infiltration of the palace at the proper time. Kully's tactics work, and a small, but dedicated mob advances to cavort rudely in the Duke's beer fountain. Predictably, guards pour out of the palace to subdue them, and the rest of the part gets inside.

Searching quickly (i.e., not stopping to take treasure), they make their way to the upstairs. The palace is mostly empty, but they first discover were Zaad's ally the Guard Captain Draco Battles and his lieutenants are staying. After a tense moment, they manage to avoid them while invisible. Finally, they discover the Duke's room. Dagmar's Remove Curse has no effect on the mad Duke, but Waylon blows the antidote powder into his eyes, and the Duke comes to himself.

The Duke is only out of the party's sight for a moment, when Draco's men try to nab him. The party rescues the Duke and slays the two.

The restored Duke makes the other guards stand down. He rewards the party for their heroism, and allows Waylon to start up a party on the palace grounds with the liberated beer.

More Classic TSR Settings as 70s Paperbacks

Sun, 08/09/2020 - 14:30

In comments on my last post of this sort, a request was made for Planescape and Spelljammer. I was happy to oblige.

Art by Bruce Pennington. Title typeface is Dynamo (well, actually Nougat which is an homage).

Art is by Richard M. Powers. Title typeface is ITC Busorama.

Star Trek Ranger: The Obelisk

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 11:00
Player Characters: The Crew of the USS Ranger, Federation scout ship:
Aaron as Lt., j.g. Cayson Randolph, Operations Officer
Andrea as Capt. Ada Greer
Billy as Lt. Cmdt. Sobek, Ship's Counselor
Dennis as Lt. Osvaldo Marquez, Medical Officer
Paul as Cmdr. D.K. Mohan, Chief Helmsman

Synposis: Still searching for the lost Burnell, the Ranger away team has encountered survivors of a Romulan scout vessel crash, and discovered a mysterious signal emanating from alien ruins. Searching for those, they encounter non-Federation mining camp.

Commentary: This was the second session of Star Trek Adventures with the Ranger crew, playing through "Signals" from the Quickstart rules, tailored for the Original Series era. This session was mostly taken up by a firefight (then fist fight) with some Romulans. I modified the adventure to encourage a fist fight, as that's more TOS as opposed to a lot phaser blasting--though we still had a lot of lot.

The party is conspicuously light on security heavy personnel--they probably should have some supporting characters for something like this. I'll have to member that for later adventures. Still, everybody got to do their "thing" which is good.
I described the miners here as dressed like the ones in the episode "Devil in the Dark."