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Looking For Group - Mon, 04/19/2021 - 04:00

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Categories: Web Comics

Weird Revisited: Secret City

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 04/18/2021 - 14:30
The original version of this post appeared in 2014...
An email from a friend  on every Russian's favorite holiday destination (not really) of Zheleznorgorsk (it's flag is pictured above), reminded me that secret cities aren't just for hidden cultures in comic books.

Zheleznorgorsk used to be called Krasnoyarsk-26 (like all Soviet secret cities, it was designated by a post office box). This town made produced weapons-grade plutonium. All the Soviet "closed cities" were doing secret military (mostly nuclear) or space stuff. The cities didn't appear on maps and could only be accessed by special permit.

This sort of thing just didn't go on in the USSR; Oak Ridge TN was similar deal in the U.S. during the days of the Manhattan Project.

The gaming value of a secret society out to be obvious. Beyond the spy/espionage genre, what better place for a zombie outbreak to start or a legion of Soviet Man-Apes to be based? Of course, if none of that is fantastic enough for your setting, Brigadoon (or Gemelshausen)--or it's gore-splattered, redneck counterpart--is just another sort of secret city

Fifty Years of Fantasy Gaming and You Still Don’t Get It

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sun, 04/18/2021 - 01:58

Fifty years ago the first fantasy campaign was announced thusly:

“There will be a medieval ‘Braunstein’ April 17, 1971 at the home of Dave Arneson from 1300 hrs to 2400 hrs with refreshments being available on the usual basis….”

Verily, this is a VERY SPECIAL date in gaming history and Dave Arneson would in a few short years go own to co-create with Gary Gygax one of the most remarkable games ever conceived. On this anniverary of what was the dawn of the fantasy adventure gaming hobby, it is altogether fitting and proper to reflect on just how far we’ve come since then. Or rather, how far we have fallen and how little we appreciate what men like Arneson actually accomplished.

Let me explain.

In the back of the third rules booklet for the original D&D game is a page that is frequently cited by gaming critics and commentators. This is the place where the designers give their parting advice for the revolutionary game they had put together. Rather than write to them with rules questions about how things should work, they suggest instead that “the best way is to decide how you would like it to be, and then make it just that way.” After all, they asked, “why have us do any more of your imagining for you?” Several decades later the vast majority of people within the D&D hobby act as if this were the ONLY significant rule within the entirety of those small booklets.

On that same page is something little remarked upon:

As the campaign goes into full swing it is probable that there will be various groups going every which way and all at different time periods. It is suggested
that a record of each player be kept, the referee checking off each week as it is spent. Recon the passage of time thus:

Dungeon expedition– 1 week
Wilderness adventure– 1 move = 1 day
1 Week of actual time– 1 week of game time

The time for dungeon adventures considers only preparations and a typical, one day descent into the pits. The time for Wilderness expeditions would include days of rest and recuperation. Actual time would not be counted off for players “out” on a Wilderness adventure, but it would for those newed in their dens, hideholes, keeps, castles, etc., as well as for those in the throes of some expedition in the underworld.

Why this rule is there exactly is not immediately obvious. If you experimented with it at all, you would understand that this simple and strange sounding idea is one of the best ideas in gaming history BAR NONE. If you were also familiar with just what precisely Dave Arneson did with Blackmoor, you would realize that this rule was the key that allowed him to manage as massive and complex of a campaign as he in fact did.

But this story does not end there. This strange rule did not evaporate with the Blackmoor campaign and it did not remain as little more than a bizarre footnote to the amateurish looking original edition of D&D. In 1978, when Gary Gygax published his phenomenal Player Handbook for AD&D, the type of gameplay that results from this rule is presented as being synonymous with AD&D and a fundamental element of the AD&D game. Behold:

As with most other role playing games, this one is not just a single experience contest. It is an ongoing campaign, with each playing session related to the next by results and participant characters who go from episode to episode. As players build the experience level of their characters and go forth seeking ever greater challenges, they must face stronger monsters and more difficult problems of other sorts (and here the Dungeon Master must likewise increase his or her ability and inventiveness). While initial adventuring usually takes place in an underworld dungeon setting, play gradually expands to encompass other such dungeons, town and city activities, wilderness explorations, and journeys into other dimensions, planes, times, worlds, and so forth. Players will add characters to their initial adventurer as the milieu expands so that each might actually have several characters, each involved in some separate and distinct adventure form, busily engaged in the game at the same moment of “Game Time”. This allows participation by many players in games which are substantially different from game to game as dungeon, metropolitan, and outdoor settings are rotated from playing to playing. And perhaps a war between players will be going on (with battles actually fought out on the tabletop with minature figures) one night, while on the next, characters of these two contending players are helping each other to survive somewhere in a wilderness.

Again, this brief description of how AD&D works is not tucked away in some obscure appendix. It’s right up front just after the introduction in a section that is entitled as “The Game.”

On this, the fiftieth anniversary of the Blackmoor campaign, I am telling you that this is what D&D really is. Further, it is clear from everyone’s comments on this rule that you really have no idea how this sort of game works. You’re just plain clueless. The questions you ask about this are so stupid, it is obvious you haven’t the faintest notion of how to play the sort of game that Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax created.

Even worse than that are the nasty and very ugly people that bend over backwards to trumpet the most flimsy and spurious reasons for why this isn’t actually significant or relevant to understanding the D&D game. These are without a doubt some of the sorriest people I have ever had the misfortune to encounter.

But, hey. Happy “Blackmoor” day, anyway.

Maybe some of you will even play this game called “Dungeons & Dragons” some day.

I hope you do.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A Simple Dungeon, adventure review

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 04/17/2021 - 12:13
By Micah Anderson Self Published Generic/Universal

Seven rooms filled with traps, magic, monsters, and treasure. Fight a Troll! Help a Halfling! Defeat an Undead Curse! For the Bastards. RPG system, although easily converted to any game.

This sixteen page adventure features seven rooms in a tomb as well as a page of hex encounters. It does have some decent descriptions in places but it suffers from its art house focus, simplistic interactivity, and treasure abstraction. It suffers, mostly, from not knowing what it wants to be.

Someone asked that I review this so I picked it up. Then the designer said my name three times while standing in front of a mirror and I said I was going to review it.[EDIT] Maybe it’s an ego thing? I would certainly understand that, mine being fragile enough. I may wallow in shit all day but it’s MY shit.

I say that this adventure doesn’t know what it wants to be. This gets to the core point of what an adventure is supposed to be: a tool for running a game at the table. Let us say I make a crowbar. It’s a beautiful crowbar. Perfect in every way. Except for the fact it’s made out of tinfoil. Useless as an actual crowbar but fine if you just want a coffee-table crowbar. Or, perhaps, if it brought me joy in making it? There’s certainly merit in that. But, then, I sell it as a crowbar, to be used as a crowbar. Now, lets change the material the crowbar is made out of but stillkeep it a damn sext coffee-table-worthy crowbar. Copper. Glass. Iron. Steel. Hardened railroad steel. There’s a spectrum here. At what point could we generally consider the crowbar useful to most people in most common situations?

There’s a large segment of the diy/osr/indie scene that likes to make beautiful things. That’s great. I don’t need an ugly crowbar in my life. But, it does have to actually be useful as a crowbar. Doesn’t it? Any none of this “but it’s useful to ME” stuff. It has to be useful to 80% of crowbar users. There’s really no difference between Paizo, DMSGuild and the DIY scene, they all are focusing on something other than the actual fucking adventure. 

And that’s how you get sixteen pages for a seven room dungeon. You do wide margins. You do digest format. You use large font sizes. You fill it with art. You do an abstracted map with fun font. That’s all great, none of it is bad. But, at what point does your creation become performance art? Because performance art is not an adventure to be used at the table. It has its own merits, but not labeled as “adventure.” (A trap a lot of one page dungeons fall in to, especially the contest ones.)

The map has a list of omens on it.  “Cackling” , “Chitterring”, and so on. They just exist as window dressing, adding nothing at all to the adventure. There’s little there to riff on. Why not, instead of perfunctory dropping it, add more to it to make it come alive and help the DM? Why say “place a treasure here” instead of actually listing a treasure to engage your creativity? Or “he knows d3 spells”? Why not list them? Why not engage totally with the creative process? 

Because when the creative process is engaged in then it is good. “Ten foot pit trap long ago sprung. Flimsy, rotten boards cover it. Corpse inside has dissolved into a grey jelly, will attempt to schlorp out and drag in interlopers feebly.” That’s great content! When I talk about specifics THATS what I’m talking about. Already sprung, boards over the pit, the ooze is an actual dead body. THATS good! It’s like the grells in Many Gates of the Gann. An extremely tall skeleton a mostly gilt free throne” Krom is the gift that keeps on giving. A lead coffer IN THE MUCK at the bottom of the pool releases a paralyzing MIASMA and contains a random treasure.

You can easily see the quality there. As well as bullshit like “a random treasure.” 

But there’s not enough of that. That lead coffer interactivity is lacking. Sure, there’s decent fighting. And there’s decent talking to things (thank fucking god.) But the other interactivity is rather low. It’s more watching things happen than fucking around with lead cofferrs buried in muck releasing paralyzing miasmas. And the writing FORMAT could be more solid. “Conspicuous sword upright in front of skeleton, actually lead painted gold.” This is a short example, but note that an important feature, it’s GOLD is in the second clause. Conspicuous GOLDEN sword upright in front of skeleton, actually lead.” would avoid the cognitive load that putting the descriptor in the second clause. The sword can turn one metal to another … Cool! That’s a good treasure … the kind that is lacking in this adventure.

The final room is the one that is the worst, the treasure room. Beyond the abstracted treasure, the main description is “The chapel built in to the tomb.” That’s the extent of your description. Well, a small amount of loot piled up, let’s call it 1000gp on average. “Piled with hoarded treasure” is an image that is in opposition to “1000 gp.” But, there’s no chapel description at all, which is not cool.

And the hex encounters range from good to poor. A bandit camp UNDER A FALLEN TREE. That’s good. HOSTAGE SITUATION. Thats good. Maybe could use, literally, one or two words more, about the situation. That’s a very good encounter. But dense trees and spiderwebs? Or surly wizard under a stuffed alligator? Ruined fort with valuable eggs? There’s no potential energy in those, not in the way of the bandit camp. You need an energy. That’s what interactivity brings. 

This is PWYW itch.io.  Yeah, I don’t know how much it was before. $4 maybe? Or maybe free? I can’t remember. I’m gonna try and talk with the designer and see what’s up. Also, please put in a good preview of your adventure. WIthout a preview then the only way of know what we are potentially buying is to either buy it or buy in to the marketing, which is always puffery. The preview helps us make an informed buying decision. You can support that, right?


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The House of the Hollow, adventure review

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 04/17/2021 - 11:11
By Dylan Mangini DAMM Design Mork Borg

In The House of the Hollow, players will investigate a mysterious moonlit manor, home to a retired adventurer in the midst of a terrible transformation. Even before they encounter the moon-bound horrors lurking between the walls, navigating a decrepit house on the brink of collapse provides the players a significant challenge. A haunting revelation awaits travelers who enter the mansion, along with a powerful artifact ripe for the plucking.

This twenty page adventure uses about fifteen pages to describe fourteen rooms in a manor home. It’s using a format that tries to be helpful but comes off a little clumsy, with the text descriptions having a similar problem. I would call this a very simple adventure that is fine for those people who only eat California Rolls.

Yes, thank you, I know it’s Mork Borg. But they keep telling me that the sample adventure is a decent one. Besides, the cover is ripping off Spirited Away and its supposed to feature the moon as a theme and I luv Diana, she’s my fav.Also, do they not put fucking challenge levels or character levels or XP or anything Mork Borg? Are all adventures suitable for all fucking levels? Because the designer has not noted, anywhere, what level this adventure is suitable for. PUT THE FUCKING LEVEL RANGE IN. This, gentle reader, is a clue: I’m going to hold this one to one a much higher standard than other adventures. Because this one is trying to do good things. From the interactivity, to the descriptions, to the format used for usability, it’s clearly trying to do things right. It just generally fails at it. This is educational because you can’t just mimic the forms and succeed. Oh, I mean, you can. I’m going to give this one a No Regerts [I lied, I’m not.], so, you CAN mimic the forms and succeed to a certain degree. You’ll write something that is not an absolute horror, differentiating yourself from 95% of other adventures. But if you want over the hump you need to focus. The form is not the goal, the end state is. So, for an adventure that tries to do everything right I’m going to make an example of it while at the same time saying It’s Fine.

The encounters here, the rooms of the manor, generally take half a page, with some stretching to page if a lot is going on. It’s digest, with a lot of section headers, bullets, whitespace, etc. This things tend to indicate, and I wouldn’t say, it’s overwritten, as most “2 encounters per page” adventures would be. 

For most rooms we get a RoomKey and name, which is the right things to do. This is followed by a short little room description of about a sentence. Then you get these big black bolded sections that list things in the rooms, with some keywords that describe them. In theory this is a good thing, and it’s a format I tend to like. Tend to. Here’s an example:

Room 6. Laboratory (Secret): Sour, sulfuric vapors waft through the air. Laboratory Contents: Scattered (tool & bone fragments) Glowing (vials of liquid.) Specimens: Rare (Dead insects) Dissected (animals) Masses (or hair and teeth)

There’s some bolding and white space formatting in there, I’m just listing the descriptions for this example. But, let’s take that description. Is that a good description? You can see some hints of good writing and inspiration. Sulfuric fumes. Masses of hair and teeth. But the overall effect, I would suggest, is one of abstraction and Yet Another Boring Lab. Dissected animals. Glowing vials. Tool and bone fragments. This comes off more as a laundry list of things in the room rather than something to hang your hat on, for interactivity and evocativeness. Each item gets, I think, too much attention. A full sentence for fumes? That would seem like “Sulphuric fumes waft past …” … something else. Dissected animals would be better with an example, and scattered tools and bones as a secondary, like the fumes.  A lot of little things that add up nothing, the focus on the minor secondary items rather than a primary thing. And all of the descriptions are essentially like that; some ok ideas but used wrong with little MAIN focus, either in interactivity or evocative description.

And the format. In theory, a good thing, but in practice … it’s too much for the content present. I get it, separate ideas, keywords, bolding, bullets, whitespace. Normally I’d be all over it. But in practice there’s not enough content to justify it. It comes off as overly expansive, taking up too much space for the content available, and, I think, detracts from comprehension because of it.

There are some decent things in this. The wanderers are ok, there are allusions to things like a bridges of moonlight and moonlit vibrational lullabies. But that’s never explored and the moon theme isn’t really there at all, or moonlight for that matter, except for maybe two or three sentences. 

The thing lacks impact. Interactivity is staid, a highlight being a grandfather clocker with the number 13 on t that you can set to 13 to open a secret door. “Stitched Mutt: Stitched aberrant dogs with extra limbs and eyes in all the wrong places.” Yeah, sure, ok I guess. Abstracted, not specific. And abstracted content is boring content. It generalizes and does nothing for the DM.

So, it tries for interactivity but comes off in a VERY basic form, for things like the clock. The descriptions are note evocative and focus on secondary rooms things rather than primary things. The format is probably overwrought for a fourteen room dungeon this simple. It’s abstracted description and abstracted content. De rigueur. So, better than a poke in the eye but not something you’re excited to run.

You can follow the forms and get to a certain quality level, but after that you have to DESIGN. Imagination must be primary focus, with the forms just bringing comprehension to the vision.



Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Calvin’s Commentaries: Infinity

First Comics News - Sat, 04/17/2021 - 05:21

Miniature games come and go with near startling regularity.

While some games you quickly get the feeling may be short-lived, but even top games such as MERCs can disappear almost overnight.

Then there are the elite games from top-drawer companies that just go on and on producing high-quality miniatures, expanding their rulesets, and simply staying fresh for their fans.

One such company is Corvus Belli and the game is Infinity.

While at its heart Infinity is a skirmish game, so a limited number of minis are required.

Infinity, which launched back in 2005, has a rather diverse range of character miniatures for the various factions, so players have tons of options.

Since Corvus Belli designs minis with as good a detail as the hobby allows, with amazing action poses, it’s hard not to want them all, even if you only need a small force to play.

Since the game has been out for some 15-years, there have been changes along the way.

There is something of a natural evolution that mini battle games and role-playing games share. A ruleset launches and once it has been in the hands of a broader audience of players, the rulebook needs to be updated as players identify flaws and make use of previously unseen loopholes.

After V.2 the game goes along for a time but as new characters are added, new rules, new factions, a V.3 is generally needed.

And, if the game lasts V.4, which is where Infinity is with the release of what it calls N4, a two-book set, one the Core Book with tonnes of background and fluff on the Infinity universe and the rulebook with the latest version of the ruleset.

So from the rulebook; “Infinity N4 is a 28 mm metal miniatures game simulating special operations and skirmishes in a high technology sci-fi universe. Infinity N4 recreates direct action operations, which are quick, lethal, and very risky. The player assumes command of a small group of elite troopers engaging in undercover and clandestine operations. Infinity N4 is an innovative game system, dynamic and entertaining, which allows all players to participate during the entire gaming sequence. It possesses a great amount of realism and flexibility, providing players with a wide variety of tactical and strategic maneuvers to employ during the game.

“Infinity N4 is a competitive game that pits two rival armies against each other in a struggle to complete a series of tactical objectives. The game lasts three rounds, or until all a player’s units are eliminated. Mission details and the different end-game modes that determine the winner are described further below.

“Once the table is set, the players start the game by deploying their miniatures and markers on the gaming table. The game is organized through a series of game rounds, and in each round, each player has their own active turn. During their active turn, each player assigns orders to the troopers to activate and play with them, moving them about the table, attacking enemy troopers and accomplishing the scenario objectives. At the same time, the opponent is also playing, by reacting to the actions made by the player who has the active turn, thanks to Automatic Reaction Orders (ARO). During the game, the rounds continue until the end-game conditions are met, which ends the game. Once the game has finished, the players check their objective points and their victory points to determine who the winner is.”

The two books are, to begin with gorgeous. They are both full colour with loads of art, photos, and graphs, all served up on glossy paper. This is as nice as rulebooks can be.

The books are softcover, but while that might seem a bit of a letdown, the two books come in a box slipcover, so they are well protected between game sessions and look great on the bookshelf too.

If you like miniature games, Infinity is about as good as it gets.

If you have always wanted to try a mini skirmish game, well N4 is an ideal jumping-in spot for Infinity, and you can be rather confident Infinity will be around for years to come.

Check it out at www.corvusbelli.com

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Wayne’s Worlds: All Too Human

First Comics News - Sat, 04/17/2021 - 00:57

The comics industry continues to deal with a difficult subject – sexual harassment among the members of the comics industry.

I won’t go into specifics of the latest controversy, but it took place in a company I respect. I’m a big fan of theirs, so that makes talking about this subject ever tougher for me.


In order to try and talk intelligently about all this, I went to the government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) site for a definition:

It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Granted, just because someone writes, draws or edits stories about heroes doesn’t make that person heroic. But in my mind, I can’t help but hope that some of these morals would mean something to the persons involved with the characters that uphold them in the comics. We’re still all too human, but we must be considerate of others as well, especially in this industry!

I don’t know all the details, and probably never will, but whenever this rears it’s ugly head, people go online and say they refuse to ever again buy any comics at any time in the future. We don’t need that happening, especially now.

This situation doesn’t seem to be resolved even though this person has apparently undergone training to help end this kind of behavior.


I rarely share this part of my life, but I went through something that makes this whole event important to me.

This took place several decades ago. I had just graduated from college and was working during the summer in the Washington, D.C., area to earn money from advanced education I would start in the Fall. I signed up with an agency that put me to work entering information on paper into computer files, now referred to as data entry.

I spent a week putting in extra time and doing my best to be accurate as possible. Apparently, this caught my supervisor’s eye, but not necessarily in the best way.

She approached me after the shift on the next Monday, saying that I had done so well that they were considering sending me to other cities where I would work with her to do the same kind of labor.

I was happy to hear that, but then she noted that we would be sharing a hotel room together. She touched me in an inappropriate manner, smiling all the time.

The next morning, I called out sick. The day after, I called to say I would not be returning at all. Luckily enough for me, another agency had found me work.

A day or so after that, I received a message that the first agency wanted me to call and talk with them. I returned their call the next day, speaking with a woman in their Human Resources Department. She wanted to know what happened to me, that I was doing so well only to suddenly quit.

I hemmed and hawed, saying another agency had put me to work, but she was persistent. It was almost as if she knew what had happened. Finally, I caved and told her everything, every detail. She listened quietly, and there was a pause after I finished. She said this would not happen again, but understood why I wouldn’t be returning. She said the supervisor would be punished appropriately. I thanked her, then said goodbye. We both knew there was nothing she could say that would make we want to work with them ever again.


It’s not only one company, either. Not too many months ago, I heard about an incident at another company that alarmed many of us. I’m not sure how that resolved since I’m sure most organizations would rather this be taken care of quietly.

As long as I’ve been reading comics, there have been rumors of people using their name recognition and place in the industry to take advantage of fans and/or people anxious to break into the business. I find this reprehensible!

Personally, I can’t consider boycotting any comics-producing organization. I write a column, review books and create a podcast about the industry, and while I know this kind of behavior needs to be appropriately dealt with, I also don’t want to alienate the people at any comics company, many of whom have been so gracious and accommodating to me. If I could just stay away from a specific individual behaving this way, I’d do that. But I don’t know who else may be a part of this incident, so I don’t want to punish those NOT involved. Rightly or wrongly, that’s my point of view.

I would ask that the people at any comics company dealing with this to PLEASE resolve this matter in the best manner possible as soon as they can. We have to consider the industry and the future of comics, not to mention people who have gone through the experience of harassment!

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Nichelle Wright, The New, Black, Female, Captain America

First Comics News - Sat, 04/17/2021 - 00:38

The United States of Captain America #2 will feature a story from Mohale Mashigo and Natacha Bustos, which will introduce a new Captain America of Harrisburg named Nichelle Wright. Mashigo described Wright as a “light in a dark time” that wants to “take ownership of her community and space in America.” Bustos added Wright was one of the characters she was most proud to help create, saying she was proud of what she represents and means for her community.

The United States of Captain America by Christopher Cantwell and Dave Eaglesham will see the introduction of a number of new characters who take the role of Captain America across the country. The series will focus on Captain America’s shield being stolen and the hero – and other versions of Captain America – traveling across the United States in an effort to find it. Along the way, they’ll run into the “Captains,” who take the role of Cap as protector of their own homes and cities. The first issue will feature an all-new, gay Captain America in Aaron Fischer. The miniseries will also feature the most iconic Captain Americas, including Rogers, Sam Wilson, Bucky Barnes, and, John Walker.

The United States of Captain America #2 on sale this July.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Welcome To The World Of Flogoria! THE TRAVELER Is Coming Soon From Scout Comics!

First Comics News - Fri, 04/16/2021 - 23:50


After a freak work accident involving a fishing boat, a supposedly non-existent sea creature, and an interdimensional gateway, anxiety addled Harry Blandford finds himself stranded on the far off world of Flogoria. All Harry has to do now is survive long enough to find a way back home.

EDITOR: Andrea Lorenzo Molinari

The Traveler is an epic, alien world-spanning adventure that’s part Mad Max road movie, part Stand by Me coming of age journey, and part otherworldly travel and food show. It’s the story of an average joe, trying to survive in a world that’s 100% not average and 150% not Earth.

We follow Harry Blandford as he attempts to navigate his way through the fantastic world of Flogoria. But the bizarre flora, fauna, and customs of his new environment aren’t the only things he has to contend with. He also has to learn to overcome the fears and anxieties of his, at times, uncooperative mind.

Whether he’s fighting off badlands bandits, trying to sneak past a nest of Snark Dragons, learning how to fire a Zarboogian Nork Rifle, or just trying to order lunch at a Flogorian restaurant, nothing is going to be easy for Harry Blandford.
The small harbor town of Lytteltoon is moderately famous for one thing: The Kangalang Harbor Monster. Ever since the first sighting in 1855, tens of people have come to the area hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive creature. Last year, young Jimmy Brongle said he saw it, but that ended up being a lazy duck sitting atop a discarded sex doll.

Harry Blandford’s boss at The Creekchurch Press is busy working on a story about an old lady and a potato that looks like Tom Jones. So Harry (the newspaper’s graphic designer) has been lumped with the task of taking some fresh photos of Jork Smithe, an old sea dog that’s been telling tales about the Kangalang for decades.

He’s not a photographer or a journalist, so Harry’s already out of his comfort zone, and Harry Blandford hates being out of his comfort zone. He just wants to get in, take some passable photos, and get out. Then he can get back to the office, so he can pretend to work, while he looks at pictures of overweight animals on the internet.
But Harry won’t be seeing any chonky raccoons or chubby marmots anytime soon. It turns out the Kangalang is very real, and he’s going to meet it in the very near future.

“I’ve had the world of THE TRAVELER in my head for a long time. It’s a world that I would think of when I couldn’t sleep, a place that I would daydream about when I was supposed to be working. I would think about what would happen if I suddenly found myself on an alien world. Could I eat the food? Would the underwear fit me? Do they have karaoke? You know, all the important stuff. I can’t thank the awesome people at Scout Comics enough for helping me get this story out of my head and onto the page.”

Categories: Comic Book Blogs


First Comics News - Fri, 04/16/2021 - 23:46

PORTLAND, Ore. 04/16/2021 — Comics’ 50-year industry veteran Howard Chaykin returns for a new story arc of Hey Kids! Comics! this May titled Prophets & Loss. Image Comics is pleased to reveal an early preview from the six issue story arc which is set to hit shelves this May.

Digging deeper into the sometimes-sordid, sometimes-seedy, always-entertaining lives of the men and women who built a multi-billion-dollar industry almost by accident, Prophets & Loss traces a path through the creation of many of comics’ greatest franchises, from companies that dared to push the boundaries of least-common-denominator kid stuff—usually at their peril—to those happy just to ride the waves others took the time to create. Along the way there’s exploitation, Blaxploitation, custom toilet paper, death at the dinner table and plenty more as fans turn pro and pros turn bitter.

“Some of it never happened, but it’s all true.” That’s the conceit of Hey Kids! Comics!, Howard Chaykin’s Roman à clef about life in the trenches of comics’ formative years, when no one knew they were doing work that one day would form the foundation of the entertainment industry’s dominant engine.

“The opportunity to laud and thank the men and women who created the world that has given me a lifetime of pleasure and frustration in equal measure is a gift to this lifelong comics man,” said Chaykin.

Hey Kids! Comics! Vol. 2: Prophets & Loss #1 (Diamond Code MAR210067) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, May 5.

Hey Kids! Comics! Vol. 2: Prophets & Loss #1 will also be available for purchase across many digital platforms, including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, comiXology, and Google Play.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Very Gary Comics Debuts His Red Sonja Exclusive!

First Comics News - Fri, 04/16/2021 - 23:44
April 16, Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite and Very Gary Comics are proud to announce an awesome joint limited edition comic book available on Indiegogo right now!

Very Gary is an esteemed longtime independent comic book retailer, always on the hunt for collections to buy and then pick for key issues to sell at conventions and via his strong followings online. He’s parlayed those experiences and expertise into one of the most informative and followed presences on YouTube for comic book collecting and speculation.

After interviewing writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti about their hotly anticipated new series Invincible Red Sonja, everyone was so excited to work together and took it to the next level! Artist Chris Campana joins along in drawing a breathtaking portrayal of the She-Devil With a Sword. The exclusive variant will be printed on the scintillating second issue of the blockbuster series.

“Working with Dynamite has been an absolute blast,” said Very Gary himself. “Invincible Red Sonja is the perfect title for my first Dynamite variant. The viewers of the channel are well aware of just how much I love the fantasy genre and it happens to work perfectly with Chris’s style as an artist too”

With options for every kind of collector, the comic is available with traditional trade dress, a logo-free “virgin” edition, a black & white variant to highlight Campana’s line art, and even a rare metal version! Of course for those looking to preserve the condition and value of their collectibles, Dynamite is offering CGC graded options. As well as copies signed by Gary.

Fans can back the Indiegogo campaign now and stay tuned to it, Dynamite’s emails, and social media for even more exciting updates! Very Gary is set to go live this weekend as well, with more info on the collaboration as well as an onslaught of Dynamite giveaways for his followers!

Reserve Your Copy Now!

Categories: Comic Book Blogs


First Comics News - Fri, 04/16/2021 - 23:42

Featuring Comics All-Star Talent Simon Bisley, Ed Lee, and Moebius!

MILWAUKIE, Ore., (April 16, 2021)—Dark Horse Books is proud to present the legendary graphic novel that introduced Halo to the world of comics—back in print for the first time in over a decade! Experience Halo from some of comic’s top creators including Jay Faerber, Simon Bisley, Ed Lee, and Moebius!     

This book includes four classic Halo stories that expand the deep lore of the Halo universe. Artist Simon Bisley and writer Lee Hammock give us the central tale titled “The Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor.” Award-winning mangaka Tsutomu Nihei writes and draws a tale of Sgt. Johnson’s epic escape in “Breaking Quarantine”. Ed Lee, Andrew Robinson, and Jay Faerber team up on a story of technology in the 26th century with “Armor Testing.” Finally, Brett Lewis and the world-renowned artist Jean “Moebius” Giraud round out this one-of-a-kind Halo experience with a story that showcases humanity’s plight against the Covenant from a unique civilian perspective in “Second Sunrise Over New Mombasa.”

 The Halo Graphic Novel trade paperback will be available everywhere books are sold August 11, 2021. It is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at your local comic shop and bookstore. The Halo Graphic Novel will retail for $19.99.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

FIRST LOOK! Jim Balent’s Tarot#129: Dirt Nap

First Comics News - Fri, 04/16/2021 - 23:40
Tarot#129: Dirt Nap!

This Collection will Include Both Editions of Cover A and Cover B, the Art Print & the photo Cover
The Cosplay Team of Erika Wiesner & Dom Hartmann have used their photo Magick abilities to bring you the sexy specter, Crypt Chick!

PLUS a Mystery Gift and a Faerie Realm Sticker!

Check Out the Specially priced Add Ons!

Pre-Order Now!

$40 Tarot#129 Bundle

art print included

Cosplayer Erika Wiesner, Photocover included in bundle

shipping Aug 2021

Grab the special Add On prices!

studio edition a $15 add on reg $19.99

Skyclad Covers A & B editions a $80 add on reg $100

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

David Petersen Returns to the World of MOUSE GUARD in THE OWLHEN CAREGIVER From BOOM! Studios

First Comics News - Fri, 04/16/2021 - 20:47

Discover a Brand New Special Issue from the Creator of the Award-Winning
Bestselling Series in July 2021

LOS ANGELES, CA (April 16, 2021) –  BOOM! Studios today announced MOUSE GUARD: THE OWLHEN CAREGIVER, a special issue that collects three poignant tales that mark creator David Petersen’s return to his beloved Eisner and Harvey Award-winning, New York Times bestselling series in this self-contained special, available in July 2021.

Which of life’s biggest lessons can be learned from the smallest amongst us? A young mouse learns that compassion and kindness are the great virtues in The Owlhen Caregiver. Meanwhile, Piper the Listener finds a brave mouse venturing into wild country to learn the tongues of other beasts. And finally, a grizzled oldfur shares the lesson of putting a whisker out too far in The Wild Wolf.

“I’m so pleased that readers get to walk back into the Mouse Territories, be accompanied by familiar Guardmice, and encounter snakes, owls, wolves, rams, otters, toads, and foxes again. Short stories are magical things. Despite their size, they are exactly the right shape to hold large messages of morality and virtue,” said Petersen. “The common themes in these stories are ones of hope and of compassion, of service and the wellbeing of others. And every world could use more of that.”

Mouse Guard is a New York Times Bestselling, Eisner & Harvey Award winning comic book series written and illustrated by David Petersen. Digging into his love of animal stories and medieval role playing games, David created a fantasy adventure world of cloaked, sword wielding mice who protect the common mouse against threats of predator, weather, & wilderness. The stories are released as a series of miniseries available as individual comic issues first, and then collected into hardcover volumes.

“It’s very exciting to return to the world of MOUSE GUARD and engage with the characters and stories that David has beautifully created and continues to expand upon,” said Bryce Carlson, Editor, BOOM! Studios. “David has an incredible talent for writing and illustrating stories that bring the reader into the richly detailed world drawn from his imagination and it’s simply a joy to spend time in this world and allow David to guide the journey.”

MOUSE GUARD is the latest release from BOOM! Studios’ ambitious Archaia imprint, home to graphic novels such as Bolivar by Sean Rubin; Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Ryan North, and Albert Monteys; The Sacrifice of Darknessby Roxane Gay, Tracy Lynne-Oliver, and Rebecca Kirby; Big Black: Stand at Atticaby Frank “Big Black” Smith, Jared Reinmuth, and Améziane, We Served the Peopleby Emei Burell, and licensed series including Lev Grossman’s The Magicians by Lilah Sturges and Pius Bak, as well as Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation.

Print copies of MOUSE GUARD: THE OWLHEN CAREGIVER, featuring cover art by Petersen, will be available for sale in July 2021 exclusively at local comic book shops (use comicshoplocator.com to find the nearest one) or at the BOOM! Studios webstore. Digital copies can be purchased from content providers, including comiXology, iBooks, Google Play, and Madefire.  

For continuing news on MOUSE GUARD and more from BOOM! Studios, stay tuned to www.boom-studios.com and follow @boomstudios on Twitter. 

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Your First Look at Jace’s Uncertain Fate in MAGIC #2 from BOOM! Studios

First Comics News - Fri, 04/16/2021 - 17:17

LOS ANGELES, CA (April 16, 2021) –  BOOM! Studios, under license by Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) and in partnership with Wizards of the Coast LLC, revealed today a first look at MAGIC #2, the next issue of the new original comic book series from acclaimed writer Jed MacKay (Marvel’s Black Cat), artist Ig Guara (Marvel’s Ghost-Spider), colorist Arianna Consonni, and letterer Ed Dukeshire, perfect for new readers and long time fans, available in May 2021.

With their homes rocked by an attack – and Jace Beleren’s life hanging in the balance – Planeswalkers Kaya, Ral, and Vraska must discover who is behind it all. But as they begin to suspect one of Ravnica’s most prominent Guilds is behind the attack, it becomes clear their enemy may be plotting something even more destructive…

MAGIC #2 also features main cover art by acclaimed artist Matteo Scalera (Batman: White Knight Presents Harley Quinn) as well as variant cover art by Ig Guara, Daniel Warren Johnson (Murder Falcon), Michael Walsh (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Jahnoy Lindsay (Hulk), and Kael Ngu (Spawn).

MAGIC is the newest release from BOOM! Studios’ eponymous imprint, home to critically acclaimed original series, including BRZRKR by Keanu Reeves, Matt Kindt, and Ron Garney; We Only Find Them When They’re Dead by Al Ewing and Simone Di Meo; Seven Secrets by Tom Taylor and Daniele Di Nicuolo; Something is Killing the Children by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera; Once & Future by Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora; Faithless by Brian Azzarello and Maria Llovet; Abbott from Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivelä; and Proctor Valley Road by Grant Morrison, Alex Child, and Naomi Franquiz. The imprint also publishes popular licensed properties including Dune: House Atreides by Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, and Dev Pramanik; and Mighty Morphin and Power Rangers series from Ryan Parrott, Marco Renna, and Francesco Mortarino.

Print copies of MAGIC #2 will be available for sale on May 12, 2021 exclusively at local comic book shops (use comicshoplocator.com to find the nearest one) or at the BOOM! Studios webstore. Digital copies can be purchased from content providers, including comiXology, iBooks, Google Play, and Madefire.

For continuing news on MAGIC and more comic book series from BOOM! Studios, stay tuned to www.boom-studios.com and follow @boomstudios on Twitter. 

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Friday Larchive – It’s-A You! Mario!

Looking For Group - Fri, 04/16/2021 - 14:44

Fridays, we open the Larchives, Lar’s extensive archive of art work oddities, and share a few pieces. Swing your hips,From side to side!Come on, it’s time to go;Do the Mario! Now Captain Lou Albano isn’t the only one who gets […]

The post Friday Larchive – It’s-A You! Mario! appeared first on Looking For Group.

Categories: Web Comics

Truth, Awareness and the Post-Gynocentric World

The Rational Man - Fri, 04/16/2021 - 00:03

For the past 12 years I’ve been asked some variation of this question:

Rollo, why should a man bother with women at all today? All women today, yes all women, are vain, self-important, narcissistic, hubristic and entitled. What average man would ever want to have anything to do with the average woman? By the time a girl reaches her late teens she’s already conditioned to expect a High-Value Man is what she’s due in life. By the time she’s in her early 30s she still hasn’t had the delusions of her entitlements dispelled for her – no matter what the realities of her situation might hold up in her face. What’s the average guy supposed to do about the average woman?”

Although I’ve been writing about intersexual dynamics for 20 years now, there’s definitely been a sea change in those dynamics since the rise of social media. While the last two generations of women have been the test experiments, it’s not just a case of “Bro, women’s egos and assessments of their own SMV are blown out of all proportion because of Instagram.” Men’s expectations (really anticipation) of average women’s overblown egos is also part of the experiment. We’ve come to a point where men don’t expect anything else from women than an aggrandized sense of female self. The average guy has little recourse but to accept this ego-appeasement and adapt to a sexual marketplace defined by women’s hubris; or by choice, or necessity, (usually necessity) they simply opt out of that marketplace – or they convince themselves they do. In fact, much of what passes for dating now is really a form of personal brand management that has to contend with the rigors of a global sexual marketplace. No one really “dates” in this market. Without realizing it they simply look for strategic co-branding opportunities that align with the changing perception of sociosexual value in global society.

  • How will the images of me dating this guy increase my brand engagement?
  • How will the pics and video of him appearing in my feed impact my future opportunities to get with a hotter guy?
  • How many Simps (commodified Beta orbiters) funding my lifestyle will abandon my brand as a result?

While these (and more) may not be conscious concerns for women “dating” today, the sociosexual context of this brand management is pervasive. It is the acknowledged environment in which men and women have play the game.

In a Gynocentric global social order the sexual marketplace is by women, for women’s short term and long term mating strategies. Men are simply the replaceable accessories needed to optimize those strategies,…or to be used as convenient foils when the consequences of those strategies become unignorable. So, it’s hardly surprising then that we’re moving into the second generation of Lost Boys. Young men with no real purposeful direction in life, less creative drive and a generation-defining sense of existential ennui.

And what would be their incentive to prompt them to creativity or purpose? Certainly not the long-term reward of an adoring woman or of sexual satisfaction born of her genuine desire. Those rewards are reserved for the High Value Men all women (young and old) believe are their due. Anything less is just brand management now. In an age when girls are raised on the ideal that no woman ought ever to do anything for the express pleasure of a man, doing something pleasurable for one becomes an act of rebellion against the Strong Independent Woman character they’re raised to emulate. Thus, any guy she’s motivated to go against her Fempowerment programming for had better be extraordinarily, confirmedly, high value. To paraphrase Patrice ‘O Neil, women want a man who’s better looking, smarter, stronger, more dominant, educated, taller and richer than they are, yet still wants him to think of her as his equal – or his Queen. He’s the ideal Superman who still defers to her socially-mandated authority (because he respects women) despite being her superior in every way she measures high-value. Oh, and he still has to continually qualify for her intimate approval even if he initially passes the average woman’s filters. Otherwise she might begin to feel as if she settled on him.

One thing that our new order communication society has made unignorable is that the truths we used to build the previous social orders on aren’t exactly what we believed them to be. In some cases those presumptions were useful faiths in truths we expected others to mutually accept; others were pretty-but-useful lies. Regardless, we still cling to romantic ideals that were tenable in previous eras despite the growing (easily accessible) research, data and empirical evidence that puts the lie to that romanticism. What we’re left with is a conflict of old order hope, faith, romance, emotionalism and the lives shaped by these influences versus the often harsh, empirical, objective truths about human nature that are unignorable in this age. Reason itself doesn’t destroy comforting faith, but it does take the magic out of faith by explaining it. Faith confirmed by reason only reinforces faith, but it can never go back to being a faith again once it’s explained. This is a hard pill to swallow for generations that have made a faith in emotionalism the guiding principle that defines their personalities, entitlements and expectations of the opposite sex. And this is to say nothing about the current global social order founded on emotionalism (Feels Before Reals).

Long ago I wrote an essay titled The True Romantics where I asserted that it was men, not women, who are the true romantics – of this age and those past. Men are innate idealists. This idealism prompts us to the performance we use to establish dominance and competence hierarchies amongst ourselves, but it also incentivizes us to the romanticism we hope will solve our reproductive problem. I’ve said in the past that this idealism is both our greatest strength and our most exploitable weakness. For the past two generations this idealism has been a liability for most men. When you make a man necessitous it’s his idealism that makes him hopeful in hopelessness. It’s idealism that makes him a suicidal nihilist or a pollyanna optimist. It’s idealism that keeps him going to work each day in the hopes that his dedication to a proscribed rule-set he believes everyone else is (or should) be playing by will earn him respectability. It’s idealism that makes him a Black Pill Doomer when he can’t reconcile his old Blue Pill conditioned hopes and goals with the Red Pill aware, new order data confirmed for him every day on social media or is just a Google search away. And it’s idealism that makes him hate the women who will never make those pleasant Blue Pill fictions a reality, while he hates the men who brought him to that despondency even more.

Both sexes are gravely, irreversibly, disillusioned today. Both would like to return to some idyllic time where women could swoon for a dashing high-value man who would become a husband they could admire (and be hot for) – and men could find a suitable mate via an understandable and realizable performance, acceptable responsibility, and actionable authority. But an underlying blind faith in the Blank Slate, Social Constructionism, Emotionalism and Subjectivism have made all this impossible. Progressivism, feminism, gynocentrism, (Wokeism) and all of the fallacies that built them, are really old order faiths founded on previously accepted presumptions – presumptions that are destroyed by new, easily accessed, empirical data every day. The more empirical truth (or even the questions that come from it) the more desperate the old social order becomes in maintaining the frameworks its power relies on to sustain it. Red Pill awareness of intersexual dynamics is one such catalyst that is disrupting those old order, Blue Pill, false ideals. It exposes a game we all enjoyed playing up until technology made public what the winners and losers had to do to be so. Women want to play the game, they don’t want to be told they’re playing it is an old maxim I’ve used for over a decade. Now we can apply this to the entirety of our globalized social order; except being told we’re all playing an old game is unavoidable. It makes playing it seem contrived, but it also calls into question why we’d ever build our lives around the contrivance.

Women and men are being dragged from this comfortable game based on emotionalism, false potentials of a Blank Slate and social constructivism. They are being forced to take the Red Pill and cross an abyss very few will have any idea how to deal with. We need new paradigms of thinking, and new ways of inter-relating with each other that align with an empirical understanding of our natures. This will require an acceptance of Red Pill awareness, and innovation and creativity that is sorely lacking in these generations.

Categories: Miscellaneous Blogs

[NEWS] Helvéczia: Announcement and Preview

Beyond Fomalhaut - Thu, 04/15/2021 - 16:03

Helvéczia: cover art by Peter Mullen

“Venture into a rugged land of stamp-sized, steadfastly independent petty states, populated with robber bands, pious clergymen, wig-wearing philistines, adventurous countesses, and wily cheats: the cantons of Helvéczia, a territory of forbidding mountain ranges and endless forests betwixt rival empires. (…) A re-imagination of old-school fantasy role-playing in a late 17th century Switzerland that never was, Helvéczia is a fast-paced and colourful game of guns, dames, deviltry and steel, based on swashbuckling tales, penny dreadfuls, local legends, and the strange stories of the Brothers Grimm.”

I am happy to – finally! – announce the forthcoming release of Helvéczia (pronounced “Helvetia”), my pseudo-historical fantasy RPG set in a strange alternate-world Switzerland. This is going to be a self-contained game system published as a 204-page hardcover ($40, so fully packed that I could not even fit a product list into it), and what’s more, a very sturdy and handsome boxed set ($60, so fully packed that together with the packaging, it is just barely below the postal shipping limit), with a cover painting by Peter Mullen, and player map by Sean Stone. We are now in the production phase where things are being printed, bound, and assembled: not yet there, but there-ish, and perhaps ready for a May release. And now, for the details – for that’s where the Devil tends to lurk!

* * *


Helvéczia is built on a simple premise: what if old-school gaming was built ground-up on a different list of inspirations? What if their creators had watched the Three Musketeers and countless swashbuckling films about robbers, stagecoaches, and swordfighting scoundrels? What if, instead of the great American pulps, they read historical adventure, picaresque stories, and penny dreadfuls? What if the games’ mythical and folkloric inspiration came not from the Anglo-Saxon and Northern European tradition (with a bit of Greek myth via Harryhausen), but the Brothers Grimm, and the broader legendarium of Central Europe? What if Gary Gygax had set his campaigns in a fantastic Switzerland, the homeland of his ancestors, A.D. 1698? The game is an exploration of these questions.

To the death!Like D&D is slightly different than a sum of its parts, Helvéczia brings the same transformative quality to its source materials: it does not strive for historical or mythical accuracy or a representation of any specificbook, movie or legend that went into it; rather, it treats them as ingredients for a fantastic adventure game which freely mixes historical fact with historical fiction – and both of them with the modern imagination. You do not have to be a student of history or 17th century pulp literature to play and enjoy Helvéczia (although neither does it hurt if you happen to be one – as it happens, picaresque stories are often the precursors to modern adventure pulps, and immensely enjoyable). It is game first and foremost, and the Devil take the rest! Speaking of the Devil: you will certainly meet him at Helvéczia’s crossroads and seedy taverns, and the game shall teach you how to play cards with him – or how to thwart his plans with the Holy Bible.

The tone of Helvéczia is above all meant to be light-hearted and adventurous: from history, it mainly draws that which is action-packed, strange, and colourful, and does not dwell on its miseries. While life is certainly cheap in Helvéczia (just ask the young Giona Baruch, devoured by a pack of striga in his first adventure; or my own poor Brother Rodrigo Cordial, who perished in a failed first aid attempt – many such cases!), this is not a “grim and gritty” game, nor one about horror and atrocity. In the game setting, the Thirty Years War is a distant, dark memory, and the choice of the era is deliberate: it is a time of healing and reconstruction, although also a time which still has much of the past’s “gothic darkness” as well as its rustic, human charm. Helvéczia has room for darker tales and gothic horror (a sub-chapter discusses running doomed romances and similar fare), but its interest lie more in fast-paced adventure, tests of wit, social satire, and quick reversals of fortune.

Players' map by Sean Stone


Many old-school systems offer relatively simple hacks of the original games they are based on: their changes are mainly aesthetic, and do not go very far – they are broadly compatible with the (usually) B/X-based systems popular among old-schoolers. Helvéczia took a different path, more comparable to the likes of Stars Without Number or Wolves of God. This is a complete and in-depth reworking of the old-school game experience to serve its set of influences, while leaving intact the underlying structures of play. That is: everything is changed, but everything is in a familiar place.

The company prepares
for an adventure...Classes, levels, hit points, spell memorisation, random encounter tables, dungeons and hex-crawling procedures are all present in the game, but all of them are altered to fit. Your character might be a Spanish Sharpshooter or a Polish Student, their weaponry might be a fine sabre and a brace of pistols, the Student in the group might know spells such as Dr. Mabuse’s Mesmeric Mirage or The Devil’s Astrology, and the Cleric might employ Judicious Lesson on a group of robbers or an advancing crowned serpent, but the end result should still fit like a comfortable set of clothes – although perhaps a different cut than you are used to.

Secondly, Helvéczia is a complete game. In the book, you shall find more than a collection of alternate rules: the game comes with a bunch of procedures, playing advice, context, and examples of play, 120 spells (most of them new), as well as a loosely described setting (the titular Helvéczia – although, as our more recent campaign in fantastic Catalonia proves, the basic concept translates well to other corners of late 17th century Europe). And that’s only the player’s half of the book: the Gamemaster’s Almanac contains plentiful gamemastering advice (both general and specific), adventure design methods, a bestiary’s worth of strange new monsters (foregoing the usual dwarves and giants we know all too much, it dips into the weird end of European folklore and the author’s imagination), comprehensive encounter tables, setting-appropriate magic items (many of them stemming from actual 16thand 17th century magical superstitions), and an appendix of random inspiration tables. That is: he core rules themselves are simple, while much of the book’s 204 pages is supporting material – designed to be helpful and fun, not overwhelming.

* * *


A diabolical plan is
set into motion...Helvéczia
employs a quick, vastly simplified, old-school variant of the time-tested d20 system. This bears some explanation, as d20 does not enjoy a stellar reputation in old-school circles: indeed, games with this foundation are often excluded from the “OSR” label altogether (whether this makes the author a “shitbrewer” or False OSR Enthusiast is up for debate). Nevertheless, this is the lineage Helvéczia’s rules come from – and the results only retain the basic framework of the system found in 3rd edition D&D. The rules have been drastically simplified to allow for quick character generation and smooth, fast-paced play, and where it matters, they have been altered to follow old-school ideas. Some parts of d20 have been cut altogether (feats, the abundance of oddly specific classes, or the emphasis on tactical combat), and other elements have been significantly toned down or revised (the pace of advancement, skills, stacking bonuses, combat complexity). This is, I believe, a simpler, cleaner system than the original. The rules have undergone a whole lot of polish over the years; in fact, this is the second edition of the game, improving and expanding on the Hungarian-only 2013 boxed set in all respects – first and foremost in presentation and ease of use.

One feature of special note is found in the game’s closed advancement scale. Following the “E6” variant (the smartest take on 3e-era D&D that I know of), Helvéczia is a six-level system. No more and no less: characters, NPCs and monsters are all restricted to the sixth level. Not even the King of Spain or the aristocracy of Hell are above this rule – although they, of course, have a few tricks up their sleeve to even the odds. From combat abilities to skills and spells, all fit this scheme. Player characters typically start on the second level, as slightly seasoned adventurers who are a cut above the rest. Practically, the E6 power scale establishes an implied setting where none are super-powerful, but a combination of luck, ambition, and wits can save the day even in the most dire circumstances.

Ammertal and the
OberammsbundTo mention one outcome of these rules, adventures designed for Helvéczia do not have a level designation: any company can attempt them, but a group of second-level beginners will probably have to employ a more careful approach than a table’s worth of sixth-level veterans. Second: fortune plays a strong role in the game (it is fairly “swingy”), and rolling with the punches or seizing a good opportunity are important elements during play. As a picaresquegame, Helvéczia is filled with sudden reversals and odd detours – once up, once down; easy come, easy go. Third: where much of modern role-playing is about “the adventuring day”, resource management in Helvéczia is usually more of a weekly affair. Characters can expect to do much of their adventuring while wounded, low on spells, poor (money is relatively scarce, and easily spent on gunpowder, fast horses, and fine lasses), inconvenienced, or otherwise depleted: and they shall triumph nevertheless! Fourth: Helvéczia has somewhat weaker niche protection than B/X or the AD&D lineage tends towards. Combatant characters can excel at a few scholarly pursuits, and Students can stand their own in a duel – although they will be no match for a master swordsman like Álvar Diaz Garcia Vega de Valencia y Vivar (who also carries the sword of his distant ancestor, El Cid!)

* * *

Release plan

Helvéczia will be released in two formats, followed by a PDF release a few months down the line. The hardcover ($40) will form the basic edition, with the following content:

  • the A4-sized hardcover book (204 p.);
  • a double-sided, hand-drawn foldout players’ map, labelled on one side and unlabelled on the other;  
  • and a deck of cards to play with the Devil (this is a 32-card Hungarian card deck depicting the main characters of the Wilhelm Tell legend – ironically, entirely unknown in Switzerland proper).

The first supplement, Ammertal and the Oberammsbund ($14), shall also be available. This A4-sized, 72-page supplement includes:

  • a hex-level description of the two eponymous mountain cantons, with a wealth of ruins, strange homesteads, brigands’ nests and adventure opportunities;
  • three adventure modules providing examples of dynamic wilderness scenarios, dungeon crawls, and both the mundane and odd side of Helvéczia;
  • a handful of mini-adventures, additional materials, NPC adventuring parties and local legends;
  • two foldout hex map sheets depicting one quarter of the lands of Helvéczia, one for the GM, and one (with much left blank) for the players.

Generous treasures
are found in a chest!Last but not least, the boxed set ($60) shall also be available for purchase. The Helvéczia boxed set – a sturdy thing packed to the brim – contains the following:

  • the hardcover Helvéczia rulebook;
  • Ammertal and the Oberammsbund;
  • nine map sheets, including the players’ map and four hex maps each for the GM and the players, respectively;
  • a deck of cards;
  • a folder containing character sheets, an almanac for timekeeping, and reference charts.

Shipping for the hardcover and the box set will be $23 to Europe and $28 Worldwide, while Ammertal shall ship at the rate of zines, for $6.5 or $8, respectively. Do note that the boxed set is heavy, and we had to be careful not to exceed the 2 kg (4.4 pound) shipping limit with the packaging. Accordingly, every box will ship separately from other ordered items.

* * *


The following 21-page preview provides the introductory chapter of the game with an example of play, a basic introduction, design principles and an “Appendix N”; and a handful of pages showcasing the game’s spells, GMing guidelines, and bestiary.

Helvéczia Sample (24 MB PDF)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


Looking For Group - Thu, 04/15/2021 - 04:00

The post 1496 appeared first on Looking For Group.

Categories: Web Comics

GFL – Page 0053

Looking For Group - Wed, 04/14/2021 - 16:40

Grouping For Looks is a page-by-page retelling of the Looking For Group saga through the lens of a mirror universe where Cale is a goateed tyrant and Richard is a holy soul trying to set him on a good path. […]

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