Friday, April 22, 2016

The Motley Isles

The Motley Isles lie but a few miles from the coast of the Country of Yanth in the Boundless Sea. The islands are known as a haven of pirates who value their freedom above all else, except perhaps the plunder they take from hapless ships.  Vessels that call the Motley Isles their home often fly a distinctive flag: a skull and crossbones emblazoned on a crazy-quilt pattern.

The only settlement of note on the isles is Polychrome. The authorities in Yanth and the Land of Azurth in general paint Polychrome (and the Isles in general) as a place without law, but this is not entirely correct. Polychrome has few codified laws, its true (other than those governing apportioning of shares of loot and the sanctity of property) but disputes between between individuals or groups of folk are settled in a prescribed manner. In the town hall of Polychrome there is an ancient, oracular device: a black sphere marked with a skull and crossbones.

The origins of the device are obscure, but it is doubtful that it was made the Land of Azurth. It is operated by shaking it and reading its pronouncement in a window on the underside. The answers it provides requires some interpretation, and that is provided by officiant who perform the ritual. Such is the aversion of the pirates to anything that smacks of governmental service, they rely on press gangs to force citizens into service.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday Comics: The Spire

My review of the Storm Chronicles is going to take a two week break but will return. In other comic news, the 2016 Eisner nominees are out and The Spire was among the titles to make the list for "Best Limited Series." I reviewed the first four issues of the series here and then...well, I probably got distracted by something else. But I didn't quit reading the series, and I'm eagerly anticipating it's final issue.

To review, the Spire is a tower-city and bastion of humanity rising out of a toxic alien desert. Commader Shå of the city watch, a "skew" (a slur for a nonhuman), has to deal with the prejudices of the people around her while trying to catch a murderer whose crimes have ties to the city's past.

The issues are available now. The trade will be out in December.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Azurth NPC Card

Over the weekend, I got to thinking using Jeff Call's great character portraits only on the record sheets for the pregens wouldn't allow enough folks to see them all, so I decided to do a giveaway for the Hydra booth: 3x5 NPC cards statted for 5e. Shouldn't be too hard to get those printed up.

Here's a sample of the front and back of one:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Mystery Men! 2nd Edition

John M. Stater of the Land of Nod blog has just recently released the 2nd edition of his Mystery Men! superhero rpg. As readers of this blog know, I am a big fan of superhero stuff, and I've also noted before how Mr. Stater is one of the most prolific quality content generators in these parts, so this project was definitely in my wheelhouse.

D&D mechanic-based superheroes has never been my first go to, but John employs it to really good effect. It seems like it would be light and fast place to play, and without the fiddly bits that slow up character creation in something like Mutants & Masterminds. The graphic design and art both seem to support this sort of "open the book and go!" inviting feel.

John has also got support for the system over on his blog. Only one post for the latest version yet, but you can check out the likes of Crystar the Crystal Warrior for the first edition and a fembot from Doctor Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine.

Check that stuff out, then get over to rpgnow and get yourself a copy.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Meet Ina Quick

North Texas Rpg Con gaming registration opened last night and my session is nearly full. I showed off the character sheet of Sir Clangor, one of the pregens for game previously. Here's another (minus complete equipment): the rogue, Ina Quick.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

People of the Feud

There was a colony ship, sent out from Earth or a world very much like it to settle a new world. It's navigators had been genetically modified to take advantage of a new drive system allowing FTL travel. The majority of the colonist were placed into cryogenic suspension for the voyage.

Something went wrong. Inadequate shielding? Purposeful sabotage? No one remembers. The navigators began to mentally breakdown, expose to psychoactive and mutagenic properties of the manifold outside normal spacetime. The ship was stranded stuttering in an out of spacetime.

The navigators began to develop psionic powers and with them certain physical requirements. Boosted quantities of certain neurotransmitters. No synthetic source was available, but there were the stored colonists to feed on.

To help them manage the ship and their food source, the former Navigators awakened a military congent, a few at the time. They mentally enthralled them and enslaved them. Molding them over generations.

As generations passed under the accelerated mutagenesis of the manifold, both the Navigators--calling themselves the Masters now--and their soldier caste had diverged significantly from their original genotype. The Masters had long ago authorized larger scale awakening of more of the colonists to serve as a more docile slave caste--and cattle.

The Masters grew complacent and removed from human concerns and feelings. They didn't see the revolution coming. A soldier named Gith lead a coalition of the soldiers and the menials against their oppressors they now called Mind Flayers after their manner of feeding.

The former Masters were either killed or used their power to flee into the nonspace. The coalition that had brought about their downfall did not long survive. Former menials resented the soldiers as long time collaborators and the soldiers disagreed with the menails attempts to master Mind Flayer psionic disciplines.

When the ship was finally cannibalized and destroyed, two cultures had emerged as firm in their hatred of each other as they were in their former masters.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Green Hell (part 4)

My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Green Hell (1980)
(Dutch: De Groene Hel)
Art by Don Lawrence & Script by Dick Matena

The mutants begin dancing, presumably before killing Ember and Storm. Suddenly, there's a loud noise and large begins rushing into the area, washing away most of the mutants, and pouring into the chasm where the ships are.

Storm leads Ember into one of the hulks. He finds what he's looking for: a pair of old spacesuits.Donning the suits, Storm and Ember are safe for the moment. Then, a hatch opens:

The frogmen shoot our heroes with something that knocks them out. They care them down into an underground tunnel. Entering an airlock, they move their wetsuits and reveal themselves to be blue skinned humanoids.

Storm wakes up on a veranda surrounded by lush vegetation. He turns and looks out over an advanced alien city. He hears Ember call his name and runs into the next room where a one of the blue humanoids seems has her on a table and is monitoring her with some sort of device. Storm pushes the man away and they're about to fight when:

The supervisor gestures and their surrounds change to a scene of a space battle. Storm realizes its all a hologram. The visuals reveal a story beginning hundreds of thousands of years ago as the Supervisor narrates: The planet Azuria became overpopulated and its people spread out among the stars and conquered many worlds, including Earth. The Azurians established hidden colonies underground and in high mountains. They took control of the planet's weather. They wiped the minds of the remnant human population and destroyed much of their civilization, reverting them to savagery. As humans civilization rebounded, spies (like Toriander) assured that the Azurians could monitor and control the rate of technological process. The mutants protected the graveyard of ships from prying eyes.

Storm and Ember are threats to this order and their brain must be erased. Storm's not having that.

With the Supervisor as a hostage, the two get back to the airlock and make their escape. They sabotage the equipment before they go. The Azurians swear to catch track them down and destroy them, while Storm vows to take back his world.