Friday, December 19, 2014

Baroque Space: Among the Asteroids

I may do a more robust drop dice and random table thing for this that might be fairly applicable to weird islands, but for now here are some asteroid encounters for this setting.

1. A dwarf planet inhabited by naked, acephalous dwarfs. They are primitive of speech and manner and cannot be understood, nor do they understand any Earth language, though they do comprehend Enochian, the language of the angels. They zealously guard a crashed starship and their shamans perform crude rituals before it, including (perhaps) human sacrifice.

2. What appears to a solid asteroid at a distance, is only a loosely held pile of gravel, rocks, and sand. Any ship landing will likely sink to the core and become trapped. Debris from previous, unfortunate landings is buried within.

3. A peanut-shaped asteroid with a vertiginous, tumbling spin and the giant, vitrified skeleton of an angel embedded in the surface of one end. The crystalline bones would fetch a handsome price, if they could be mined.

4. A small world with great mounds at either end like giant anthills. Dome-headed, dwarfish creatures less than two feet tall dressed in skins and brandishing cudgels and spears swarm angrily from each if any vessel should land. The creatures from either mound are roughly identical, save that those from one are orange and the other purple. They will attempt to overwhelm any intruders they find and drag them back inside their respective mounds.

6. A rocky, desert world where lives a wretched hermit. He is along but for one-eyed, whimpering things he calls his "dear companions." Perhaps he has been driven made by his isolation, but his rants will frequently return to a great treasure who's location he alone knows.

7. A jagged. ice-streaked asteroid with a faintly luminous, ice gynosphinx, much larger than the sphinx of Egypt, in a gorge between peaks. There is rumored to be a great antediluvian treasure horde buried beneath it, but no one has found it. The sphinx emits a vibration that causes the space armor to thrum ominously, driving some mad who are exposed to it for too long.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Strange Stars, 5 Operations

Last time I gave a Strange Stars update, I had hoped it was going to be the last tease. Unfortunately, things have not gone quite as fast as I wanted. This is mostly for two good reasons: We're trying to turn out the best product we can and Lester was swamped with work doing a lot of cool stuff for Goodman Games. I am happy to report that the last pages (glossary and intro, essentially) are being laid out. leaving only our last proofing reviews and submission to Drivethru/r\Rpgnow. So it's close.

To tide you over, here's an excerpt from a page called "5 Operations 8 Iterations" which will be lists of 8 items in (hopefully) interesting topics: Valuable Artifacts, People Someone Wants Found, Contents of Spacehauler Container 49, Drugs in an Epic Stash, and Exotic Locales.

Here's one from each:

Gravid War Womb 38 cm diam. spheroid nanoassembler capable of replicating a Sisterhood of Morrgna hive.

Rhona Tam Captain of Moral Hazard, privateer/custom enforcement contractor out of Circus.

Bottles of “Burner” Cyberware [4, 200 count] When ingested, crudely anonymizes noospheric interface for up to 20 ks.

Bouncing Balls of High-Grade Chroma [7] Psychedelic and euphorigenic.

The Pampas of Taprobane Habitat On safari, hunting the sharp-beaked blushing shraik.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wednesday Comics: Wanted: Santa Claus--Dead or Alive!

Super-Star Holiday Special
DC Special Series #21 (Spring 1980). Cover by Jose Luis-Garcia Lopez

Synopsis: Len Wein tells it like this:

Iffy history aside, it's a good enough intro for 4 seasonal tales in the DC universe.  First up, Jonah Hex:

"The Fawn and the Star" Written by Michael Fleisher, art by Dick Ayers & Romeo Tanghal

It's Christmas eve, and Jonah Hex is after the Tull brothers across the snowy wilderness. He comes across a little girl and her father fighting over whether to kill a fawn with a hurt leg. Uncharacteristically, Hex sides with the girl and even bandages the animal's wound. To mollify the father, Hex agrees to get him something else for the family's Christmas meal. Maybe Hex's show of softness is due to a similar episode in his childhood. He saves a raccoon from a trap and nursed it back to health in the family barn. When his father found it, it wound up on the families dinner table.

Hex follows the bright star in the south and comes to a cave. The Tull boys are hiding there. In a firefight, Hex blows them up with dynamite, but somehow manages not to mangle them too badly to collect his bounty or destroy their stuff--which includes a bunch of provisions for the trail he takes back to the relatively greatful family. We can only hope the Tull brothers learned the true meaning of Christmas before their deaths.

Next up, it's Christmas Eve in Gotham...

Written by Denny O'Neil, Art by Frank Miller & Steve Mitchell

Crime never takes the night off--someone even stole a star off the department store nativity scene-- but luckily neither does the Batman. He moves through the sleet-coated night to a party thrown by Matty Lasko. Lasko has a boat waiting in Gotham harbor and that's enough to raise Batman's suspicion.  After Batman roughs up some goons, Lasko tells him it was a favor for an old cell-mate: Boomer Katz.

At a soup kitchen in Crime Alley, one old timer asks another about Boomer Katz and finds out Katz has got a job as a Santa at Lee's department store. The old timer leaves an envelope surprisingly full of money, and sheds his disguise on the roof, revealing himself to be the Batman. He's certain the only reason Katz would have gotten a job at a department store is to case the joint, and Lasko must have arranged his escape. It's a shame , too; Even Batman believed Katz had finally gone straight.

At the department store, Lee is having second thoughts. When his boss praises his skill as a Santa, it brings a tear to his eye. Out by the nativity scene, he tells Fats (a bald guy that holds a cigarette holder like a German in a movie) he can't go through with it. Fats isn't cheered by this turn, and he and his goons pull guns then force Katz to get them in to the store's service entrance. They're after the store's daily receipts. When they've got them, they plan to kill Katz, but he throws a box of ornaments at the thug and runs away. He's shot in the shoulder but manages to escape.

Batman hears the shots. He bursts through the window and saves the store manager from Fats, taking him down with a small Christmas tree. The manager tells Batman how the thugs forced Katz to help them and are now trying to kill him.

Inbeknowst to Batman, the thug has his gun to Katz's head and his holding him somewhere near the nativity scene. Batman has been unable to find Katz, but ironically, he's nearby talking to a cop. Batman looks up and notices the star is back on the nativity scene and its light is shining on--Katz and his would-be killer!

Batman saves Katz and takes out the thug. And that star?

Batman is pretty unconcerned, but I guess in a world with Superman and Green Lantern and what have you, stuff happens.

The holiday spirit moves us again, next week.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Baroque Space: The Inner Planets

This is a follow-up to this post.

The planets Mercury and Venus, being closer to the Sun where the Demiurge slumbers, move through aether closer in vibration to creation. The natives of these worlds, though they may appear human in form, are unaging and live in Edenic innocence, neither tainted by the sin of man's fall nor redeemed by the Savior's blood.

Mercury: The sun is too fierce upon this planet's surface, so that there is no vegetation, but the creative potency in the Sun's light inseminates the ground and generates myriad creatures, most of which soon die in the glare, but some crawl or hop or slither into shaded crater valleys where they may grow and reproduce.

The Emperor of Mercury, Helios XXIII, is one of the great rulers of the Cosmos and dwells in an opulent palace beneath a golden dome. At his ascension, as is the custom of the Mercurian monarchy, his human head was removed and replaced with a solar orb. His benevolent visage literally shines upon his subjects.

Courtiers must have servants apply light-repelling ointments, lest their pale skins be darkened by His Majesty’s effulgent glory.

Venus: Wet where Mercury is desert and as fecund as that other world is barren, Venus is covered by warm, shallow seas and dense, tropical forests. It's natives are women--or creatures in the semblance of women, They are seldom surpassed in all the Cosmos in beauty, if one can abide their inhumanly colorful skins and hair the texture of flower petals. They go almost entirely naked and chastity is not counted a virtue among them.

There is a  ruler on Venus, recognized by Earthly and Mercurian powers, called the Doge, who is always from another world. This title may be held by a man or woman, but in either case, the floral and lovely native Venerians are the Doge's solicitous wives or concubines. The Doge's identity is always hidden behind an ornate mask of that durable Venerian fungal matter that resembles teak. The ruler scarcely wears any more clothing than the Venerian women, except for the notable exception of an impressive phallocrypt, also decorated and enlaided with gold, for public ceremonies.

A Doge only rules for a Venerian day, as measured by the fixed stars, which is hundreds of Earth days. At the end of that time, the Doge is taken by the Venerians into the forest and is seen no more.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Following Yonder Star

While I was vacillating on where to do a seasonal game session, Casey Garske was writing one. Unholy Night is an old school hexcrawl taking place in Judea at the time of the birth of Jesus. If that's not high-concept enough, it's got demons, cultists, and dinosaurs. At a "pay what you want" price on drivethru/rpgnow, it makes a great stocking stuffer--for yourself.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Holiday Special

The holiday's are quickly approaching and I haven't decided yet whether to run a holiday-themed adventure on G+ or not. I have done Weird Adventures sessions of that type in previous years, and at one time wanted to get my adaptation of Chris Kutalik's Slumbering Ursine Dunes done in time, but work on Strange Stars--and just plain work--got in the way.

Having started my Land of Azurth 5e D&D game, I've entertained the idea of running one in that setting. Something inspired by Baum's The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, maybe with some further inspiration from Rankin-Bass other Santa origin, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town--a Winter Warlock, perhaps?

On the other hand, time is drawing nigh. I guess we'll see how the holiday spirit moves me.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Dragonborn of Sang

Art by Yuriy

In the desert Country of Sang in the Land of Azurth, there dwells a race of warriors called the Dragonborn. They are few in number, but they are at war with all other folk, including other breeds of their own kind. Only rarely do they permit themselves companions.

The Dragonborn fight--and fight among themselves--to prove their strength. Only the strongest of each breed can keep the vigil. Only the strongest can stand steadfast through the long years in the caves where the ancient machines incubate the next generation. Only the strongest can ensure the Dragonborn survive.

When the hatchlings come mewling and snapping from the incubators, this is what their guardians tell them: "We came from the void. We are not of this small world. But here in this desert, in the bones of our old ships, we abide. You will grow and fight. The strong will survive to teach the hatchlings that follow after, as I have taught you. This is what it means to be Dragonborn."