Friday, February 27, 2015

Fate of the Strange Stars

Yesterday, John Till posted a play report of one of his Strange Stars Fate games at Con of the North. Head over and check it out. John is almost done with the writing of the Fate game book so we'll be going to layout soon.

Also, here's a review from a week and a half ago by Courtney over at Hack & Slash.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wild Wild West

Wild Wild West was conceived as "James Bond on horseback." That was a just-about perfect genre combo for the 1965, and a damn good one for today. The actual show was even cooler, particularly when it went color; it was the Old West filtered through 60s spy-fi style with Jules Verne science fiction thrown in. It's practically begging for an rpg.

The show's James Bond of the 1870s was James West, Secret Service agent, who rode around in a private train with his partner, gadgeteer and master of disguise Artemus Gordon. Bruce Lansbury, producer of the show, described it thusly (as quoted in Susan Kesler's book):
"Jim's world was one of two-faced villainy, male and female, countless 'Mickey Finns,' and needle-tipped baroque pinkie rings that put him to sleep even as he embraced their dispensers. There were inevitable trap doors, hotel walls that ground their victims to dust or revolved into lush Aubrey Beardsley settings next door, lethal chairs that tossed occupants skyward or alternatively dumped them into dank sewers that subterraneously crisscrossed countless cow towns of the period. And then there was that old Dutch sea captain, leaning in the corner of the swill-hole of a bar, who inexplicably winked at Jim as he entered … Artemus, of course, in one of his thousand disguises."
Some highlights: a super-speed formula made from diamonds; an elaborate house full of traps made by a deranged puppeteer; a ground of assassins masquerading as a circus troupe; and of course, the genius dwarf, Miguelito Loveless.

(No doubt some of you remember the 1999 film of the same way. It's fine, sort of in the way the 1998 Godzilla is fine. If you're a fan of the original show, though, it's rather like a breezy remake of Star Trek with Will Smith is Kirk and also the performer of the theme song.)

Anyway, in gaming Wild Wild West, a lot of folks would suggest Steampunk games first--but the Steampunk aesthetic is pretty much missing from the show, despite the superficial similarities in thumbnail description. Any Western rpg (or generic one) would work, I suppose--so long as it would support the Victorian super-science. The Western element is mostly cosmetic, though, Stripped of its trappings, it more resembles The Man from UNCLE at its core than say Wagon Train. I think a Western adaptation of the old James Bond game would be interesting with the spy-fi genre stuff it has built in. GUMSHOE might also be a good way to do it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Multiversal Spotlight: Earth-10

Concept: Earth where the Axis Powers (or at least Germany) won World War II
Pictured: (left to right) New Reichsmen: Leatherwing, Blitzen, Brünhilde, Overman; Freedom Fighters: Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, Uncle Sam.
Sources: The Multiversity: Mastermen #1 , Justice League of America (vol 1) #107-108, Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1-2, Countdown to Adventure #2 and Countdown to Final Crisis #16.
Analogs: Pre-Crisis Earth X, home to the Freedom Fighters, a group of characters originally appearing in Quality Comics) first appearing in  Justice League of America (vol. 1) #107 (October 1973); Post-52 Earth-10, home to a version of the Freedom Fighters and a Nazi-themed version of the Justice League, die Gerechtigkeitsliga or JL-Axis,  first appearing in 52 Week 52 (May 2007).
Comments: Earth X (the letter, not the roman numeral) first appeared in a Justice League/Justice Society team-up story in 1973. It was a world where Germany had won World War II and the "freedom fighters" against the Nazi regime were a group of characters DC had acquired from Quality Comics in 1956. (A couple of other Quality characters--Plastic Man and the Blackhawks--had already debut in the DCU and were not included in the Freedom Fighters.) The heroes from Earth One and Two helped the Freedom Fighters overthrow the fascists. In 1976, the Freedom Fighters got their own short-lived title after they immigrated to Earth One.

In the 1980s in the pages of All-Star Squadron, Roy Thomas retconned the members of the Freedom Fighters to have been from Earth-Two but had them go to Earth X later. Roy Thomas also introduced World War II Nazi counterparts of at least some of the members of the Justice League in the pages of Young All-Stars in 1987. It's unclear if Axis Amerika served as an inspiration for Earth-10's Nazi League in either the JL-Axis or New Reichsmen iterations.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Alternate Worldcrawl

One of the complaints against the standard D&D Planes is that, while conceptually interesting perhaps, its hard to know what to do with them as adventuring sites. One solution would be to borrow a page from science fiction and comic books and replace them with a mutliverse of alternate worlds. These would be easy to use for adventuring purposes and could put an additional genre spin on the proceedings. Here are a few examples:

Anti-World: An alignment reversed version of the campaign setting. Perhaps humanoids are in ascendance and human and demihumans are marauding killers living underground.

Dark Sun World: In this world, the setting underwent a magical cataclysm in the past and is now a desert  beneath a dying sun.

Lycanthropia: The world is cloaked in eternal night and lycanthrope has spread to most of the population.

Modern World: This version has a technology level equal to our own (or at least the 1970s) and the PCs have counterparts who play adventurers in some sort of game.

Spelljammer World: A crashed spacecraft led to a magictech revolution and space colonization.

Western World: Try a little sixguns and sorcery and replace standard setting trappings with something more like the Old West.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ships in the Strange Stars

Art by Peter Elson
Alliance Fleet
Military ships in the Alliance are based and maintained in one member world or another.

Smaragdine registered Alliance ships: Frumious Bandersnatch, Chemosit, Blatant Beast, Coeurl, Peryton, Lurking Grue, Basilisk, Owlbear.

Neshekk registered Alliance ships: Binding Arbitration, Creditor, External Audit, Accounts Payable, Devaluation, Termination with Prejudice, Constructive Dismissal.

(And let's not forget the dread neshekk privateer vessel Crimson Permanent Assurance)

Art by Bob Layzell
Vokun Fleet
All Vokun ships save more the most minor custom vessels or intersystem shuttles are controlled by the Vokun themselves. Their names reflect their bellicose and imperialist culture.

Sample ship names: Martial Prowess, Indomitable, Destroyer of Worlds, Conqueror, Inevitable Victory, Imperious Will, Unchallenged Might.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Meanwhile, in the Land of Azurth...

The Land of Azurth has gotten a lot of time here on the blog lately with Strange Stars getting released and my last gaming session getting canceled (Mainly because I was out of town and totally forgot it, but we'll stick with "cancelled.")

Anyway, Renee Calvert has turned out some more custom paper minis for my game, this time the PCs' current antagonists, the Baleful Burly Brothers, Goofus and M'Gog.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hyperspace Travel Times

As discussed before, the travel times between nodes along the hyperspatial network of the Archaics is color-coded to denote connection speed. While the actual travel times can be determined through the use of advanced physics even an ibglibdishpan mathematician might need the aid of a calculation device to perform, approximations for gaming purposes are fairly easy.

The basic formula is:  [color modifier] x [distance modifier] in kiloseconds.

Color Modifiers:
Red = 18
Orange = 45
Yellow = 100
Green = 450
Blue = 900
Indigo = 4500
Violet = 6750

Distance Modifiers:
very short = 1
short = 2
medium = 3
long = 4
very long = 5

Vague other variables may make the color modifier vary by 1d6 kiloseconds.