Monday, November 23, 2015

Heap of Trouble

Last night, our 5e Land of Azurth campaign continued. The party met with the Goodes of Swells Head and agreed to try to get their daughter Gwendolin back. The Goodes believe she was kidnapped by the infamous pirate, Black Iris. Waylon (the frogling thief), Erekose (human fighter), Kairon (tiefling fighter), and Dagmer (dwarf thief) board the keelboat Venture under Captain Tubbs to make the journey down the Yellow River.

In the area of the Beggar City, the boat is attacked by river pirate dwarfs using a sort of Hunley-style primitive submarine disguised as an alligator. Kairon breaks open the vessel with magic, but the blast does some damage to the Venture. After the pirates (the Gar Brothers) are sent packing, the captain decides to tie up the boat so they can do repairs.

The Lardafans come out to the bank to great them. In the crowd are Waylon's old bandmates who look a bit like these guys:

Waylon brags about being an adventurer. His old friends, and his very relaxed old mentor King Kuel, ask for the help of the party in helping the Lardafans with a rogue Heap that has been periodical attacking the town. The Lardafans believe the Heap's violence has something to do with a warlock that lives alone in a shack on an island at the center of Lost Lake.

The party reluctantly agrees--for a pick of the Lardafan treasure pile. The head out on a skiff to lost lake despite the sign:

The Heap attacks from the water as they close in on the shack. Four against one is good odds, but the Heap is plenty tough, so the fight is a tough one. Waylon goes for the shack to see if it holds a clue to what's going on. He finds a man (presumably the warlock) who is long dead with an empty wooden box in his wands with some vegetation hanging on the side.

Meanwhile, Erekose has been knocked unconscious by the Heap and Dagmar has been engulfed! The cleric manages to fight her way out and finds a skull inside as she does. Once the skull is removed, the Heap seems to collapse on itself, and slinks away.

The skull is magical, old and inscribed with runes. It also seems to fit in the box Waylon found. Taking the skull, the box, the Book of Shadows, and the various spell components in the warlock's cabin, the party returns to Lardafa.

They're greeted with much fanfare by the Lardafans and given the promised pick of the treasure trove--which turns out to be Gilligan's Island-esque version of an oversized claw machine. Each member of the party gets an odd trinket.

Their (side) quest completed, the party boards the boat for a night's rest.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Along the River

In the Land of Azurth, in the Country of Yanth, the Yellow River stretches some two hundred languid miles when it chooses to do so from its meeting with the Flint at Rivertown to its settling into the Boundless Sea near Ianthine.

Art by Cyril Corallo
It intermingles with smaller, less ambitious waterways in bottom land swamp in the vicinity of the Shanty City, Lardafa, home to thieves, beggars, and gentlefolk of the road. Sometimes travelers down the river glimpse one of the elusive Heaps in this area.

It accepts the azure tears from the blue hole spring called Deep Blue, near the village of Yonder. The hole is said to be so deep that Yonder fishermen sometime find things bobbing up from other worlds. In the woods near Yonder there's rumored to be the cabin of a witch, perhaps the infamous Urzaba, who loves card games and has a very short temper.

art from Privateer Press
Is it nears the coast, it almost loses itself meandering through the Great Yellow Marshes. Here dwell tribes of mostly friendly frox and mostly unfriendly gator-folk.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Real Dungeon, American Style

Back in rpg blogging's Golden Age (well, the part of it I was there for). I wrote a series of posts about "real" (meaning some people believe them to be real) dungeons of America. It seemed like a good time to collate those in one place.

Burrows Cave: A burial southeastern Illinois.
The Grand Canyon: It's not just big. It's weird.
Coral Castle: Not an actual castle, but still kind of cool.
Murder Castle: A real Tomb of Horrors in Chicago.
Lizard City Under L.A.: "Busy Los Angeles...stands above a lost city of catacombs..."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Antediluvian Apocalyptic

"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
                                                      - Genesis 6:5
Think Carcosa is the only horrifying milieu for gonzo adventure fantasy? Ditch the mutli-colored men (maybe) and get Biblical, Old Testament style.

Before the Flood, (the book of Genesis tells us) humankind was exceedingly wicked, which is a good way for them to be for adventuring, really. And there were giants (gibborim) in the earth, and the Nephilim (either giants or fallen angels, or the children of fallen angelss), who were "mighty men or men of renown." Talking serpents from Eden were still probably around somewhere. And though the Bible doesn't mention they specifically, any good creationist will tell you there were dinosaurs. Check out this I'm sure meticulously researched timeline:

It's not hard to imagine a sword and sandals (plus sorcery) or barbaric sort of world were weird Antediluvian beasts and human-angel hybrids run rampant--and apocalypse hangs over it all. It's like Afronosky's Noah meets The Road. Or Hok the Mighty meets Blood Meridian. The new Aaron/Guera comic The Goddamned approaches this same era, the it's early to same how gonzo it's going to get.

Actually Masters of the Universe, but this fits.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Masters of the Universe

"To Tempt the Gods"
Masters of the Universe #1 (December 1982), Written by Paul Kupperberg; Pencils by George Tuska, Inks by Alfredo Alcala

Synopsis:  On Eternia, a world with a "medieval exterior" but whose technology nevertheless outstrips that of Earth, there's a party (dancing girls) for the Queen. Man-At-Arms asks the King where his heir Prince Adam is. The two commiserate over how irresponsible Adam is.

That's Adam's cure to jump the hedge and make an appearance. Apparently, he's been dallying with a young lady...

They are commemorating the arrival of the Queen on Eternia 25 years ago. Adam heads off the his chambers to get his gift for his mother. He regrets he has to play this false personality and disappoint his father.

At his door, Adam is assailed by magical power. The room is filled with demonic presences. Adam dives over his bed to escape--and finds Cringer waiting there. Cringer tells him Skeletor had his presence known here.

The mention of Skeletor's name galvanizes Adam into action. He and Cringer run to the Cavern of Power. There, they are transformed into He-Man and Battle Cat. Even then, they here the sound of mocking laughter.

Skeletor gloats that he has the Goddess captive. He did battle with her, and though she kept the two halves of the power sword from his grasp, he managed to defeat her. He knows that only a heroic soul will be able to find the power sword, and he plans to force He-Man to do it for him by having him seek out three talismans representing the sea, the sky, and the cosmos that will lead to the swords.

He-Man knows the cosmic star cluster is in the hands of the royal wizard, Tarrak. He meets Teela, captain of the guard, and enters the palace, He meets his parents, though they don't recognize their feckless son in the heroic He-Man. They enter Tarrak's chambers and find:

Man-At-Arms here's the clamor of battle and joins in. Once the demon's are defeated, Tarrak reveals that they stole the talisman in the shape of the nexus constellation.  Someone else is after the talismans, too.

Meanwhile, Avion is attacked by dragonriding beastmen. It's Stratos they're after. The birdman flies to the castle. His strength failing, only Tarrak's magic saves him. He-Man notices Stratos is wearing the talisman of air. Our heroes now have one in hand.

This issue is the introduction of Prince Adam. He's a bit more Don Deigo Vega in concept than the overmuscled Billy Batson he'll become in the cartoon. Still, the genius of the "fantasy superhero" are definitely here. Eternia is much more "standard fantasy comic" than it is later, down to Teela's outfit that doesn't look anything like the toys (until this). Still, this is much closer to the universe sketched in the original Don Glut mini-comics than what is to follow.

Zodac really has a Metron of the New Gods vibe here. This begins the transition from his original intended role as a villain to the heroic role he has in the mythology now.

Under interesting detail: Stratos's wife is completely human rather than anthropoid like him.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Strange Stars Fate A-Z

Just in case you missed it last week, the Strange Stars Fate rule book pdf is available. The softcover files are with OBS and hopefully will be approved for printing soon.

While you wait, check out the "Strange Stars A-Z" series John Till, the author of the Fate rule book, has been doing on his blog.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Random Ultra-Warriors

Interested in generating the sort of visually distinct science fantasy characters of the sort found in Masters of the Universe? I've got a set of random generators for you. Pair the Random Ultra-Warriors Creator with your favorite science fantasy/post-apocalyptic rpg and your ready to create characters so distinctive they ought to be sold separately in their own blister pack.