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.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Multiversal Spotlight: Earth-39

Apparent Concept: Earth T.H.U.N.D.E.R agents.
Pictured: (left to right) Accelerator (Lightning analog), Psi-Man (Menthor analog), Cyclotron (Dynamo analog), Corvus (Raven analog), Doctor Nemo (NoMan analog).
Sources: Tower Comics's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents (1965-1969), DC Comics's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents (2011-2012) .
Analog: None in previous versions of the DC Multiverse.

Comments: The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents were a creation of Wally Wood and Len Brown who wanted to combine the Justice League style superhero team with popular spy-fi like The Man from UNCLE and James Bond. All of the agents derived there powers from some device (an element Morrison has retained for his stand-ins). The characters have been published by a number of companies since their debut in the 60s. DC first attempted to publish them and perhaps add them to the DC Multiverse in the early 2000s, but things didn't come together until 2011. DC introduced a black Lightning (not to be confused with Black Lightning) into what had been an all white group and Morrison retained that element with his Agents of W.O.N.D.E.R.

Monday, February 16, 2015


Henggis Hapthorn, foremost discriminator (detective) of Old Earth in the far future time of the Archonate, has a problem. Well, perhaps a series of problems. First, there are his cases that may have something to do with a plot to overthrow the government, but perhaps even more troubling is the impending return of a time where "sympathetic association" (i.e. magic) is ascendant over scientific rationality. This problem has been made peculiarly personal for Hapthorn as he shares his brain with another persona, born the magically separated intuitive part of his psyche, and his integrator (a personal AI device) has been turned into a cat-monkey creature familiar. As one might expect, Hapthorn's personal woes and his case are not as separate as they might seem, and he will have to confront further magical forces.

The return of a time where magic works is familiar from games like Shadowrun and Rifts, and even kid's cartoons like Thundarr the Barbarian and Visionaries, but what none of those have is the placement of an ultra-logical, far future Ellery Queen, trying to oppose the coming paradigm shift, which has become a fairly personal affront.

Hughes's universe and his writing style are in a Jack Vance mode. His setting of the Archonate and the Spray resembles Vance's Oikumene and Gaean Reach. It makes his Hapthorn tales something like if Magnus Ridolph or Miro Hetzel was confronting the dawning of the Dying Earth. There is plenty of stuff to borrow for a Vancian science fiction game, or inspiration for a whole setting.

Majestrum is the first Hapthorn novel (though based on how it opens, I suspect some short-stories predate it). There are three others and a short-story collection, all pretty cheap for Kindle.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Time Keeps on Slippin' Into the Future

Art by Brian Despain
While I'm celebrating passing another 0.03155 Gs on planet Earth today, I'm looking forward to further updates from Con of the North where John Till, Jay over at Exonauts, and others have played a couple of sessions of Fate Strange Stars. They've been teasing a few pics, but the whole report is still pending.

If your a reader here and still on the fence about buying Strange Stars (surely there must be somebody) you might want to check out a couple of reviews from last week: here and a mini-review here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Love Is The Drug

Even in the far future of Strange Stars love remains a somewhat fuzzy concept. Sex, on the other hand...

Anyway, in honor of Valentine's Day, revisit the Pleasure Domes of Erato or spend some time with the alluring Minga.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Random Planets

There are a lot of good planet generators in science fiction rpgs from the very science-minded ones in GURPS Space and the original version of 2300AD to the more adventure-oriented ones of Stars Without Number and Starblazer Adventures, with Traveller and others somewhere between the two poles. None of these really focus on the quick creation of the sort of cliched (and I don't mean that negatively) worlds that populate pulpy or comic book space opera and space fantasy.

I've been toying with working on a series of random generators for exactly those sorts of settings. A more granular series of tables is probably to come, but I wanted to present an alternative "quick stock planet" alternative list first:
  1. Amazon Planet: Women warriors who either have no males or keep them in as slaves. The opposite is the misogynistic Man's World. The lack of the other sex may result from a Secret.
  2. Anachronistic World: Strangely resembles a historical Earth period, culture, genre, or work of fiction.
  3. Bucolic Backwater: A sleepy agrarian world where no one expects anything interesting to happen. Its native culture or cultures are likely to be irritatingly quirky.
  4. Casino World: Vegas in space.
  5. Crossroads World: A myriad of races and cultures congregate for trade, religious pilgrimage, or the like.
  6. Desert Planet: Whether hot or cold, this world is bone dry and harsh. Better to stick to the few oasis or canal cities and stay away from the volatile, deep desert-dwellers.
  7. Ecumenopolis: A planet-spanning city. 
  8. Forest/Jungle Planet: Titanic trees (and possibly tree-towns) and an over-abundance of wildlife.
  9. Hellworld: Incredibly hostile environment whether due to ultra-deadly fauna, toxic atmosphere, poisonous biosphere or some other factor. There is always a good reason to travel here, however.
  10. Ice World: Sheathed in thick glaciers, this planet's inhabitants are inured to cold or live in compounds protected from the elements.
  11. Junk World: Detritus from an ancient civilization (or a current one) covers this world.
  12. Pleasure Planet: A world famous, or infamous, for its hedonistic pursuits. Likely a vacation destination.
  13. Paradise Planet: An idyllic world, either obviously highly advanced or hiding behind a faux-primitivism. where all wants and needs are fulfilled. Of course, that may just be how things appear and it is, in fact, a False Paradise.
  14. Prison Planet: The most notorious criminals in the galaxy are kept here, possibly with political prisoners. Likely to somewhat inhospitable natively, otherwise it would be used for another purpose.
  15. Ruined World: A post-apocalyptic planet, scarred by the fall of a previous civilization, perhaps long ago, perhaps relatively recently. 
  16. Swamp World: Humid and fetid; full of things that slither and crawl.
  17. That’s No Ordinary Planet! Roll on the sub-table below.
  18. War World: Inhabitants have been locked in an age old conflict between two blocs, factions, or a neighboring world. The landscape is devastated and the people mistrustful, heavily armed, and possibly mutated.
  19. Water World: Planet-spanning oceans with floating cities or mer-folk.
  20. Wild World: Only rudimentary civilization at best, but plenty of dangerous megafauna.
Some of these aspects can be combined, of course. Any single-biome world might have another theme, as well.

That's No Ordinary Planet! Sub-table
  1. It's alive
  2. It's artificial
  3. It's a gigantic spaceship
  4. It's a petrified giant
  5. It's an egg
  6. It's a shell around a slumbering space god-monster.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Multiversal Spotlight: Earth-38

Apparent Concept: Earth Generations.
Pictured: (left to right) The Bat-Man from 1938 (Bruce Wayne), Supergirl (Kara Kent), Knightwing (Clark Wayne), Batman in the 80s (Bruce Wayne, Jr.), Superman from 1938 (Clark Kent), Joel Kent.
Sources: Superman & Batman: Generations (1999), Superman & Batman: Generations 2 (2001), and Superman & Batman: Generations 3 (2003).
Analog: The world of Generations was designated as Pre-Crisis Earth-3898 in Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths (2006).

Comments: The three Generations limited series were written and drawn by John Byrne. The series follow Superman and Batman and their respective families from their first meetings as kids to the future. Here's a good article on the series, including a family tree.

The first appearance of the Generations universe is actually a crossover with Marvel: Batman & Captain America. The epilogue has Batman and Robin rescuing Captain America from the ice in the 1960s. The Robin depicted has red hair, suggesting he is the Bruce Wayne, jr. Robin from Generations.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Audience Participation

With Strange Stars out for a few weeks now (and reviews appearing), enough time has probably past that I can query folks as to what they'd like to see here on the blog to further explore the setting. So, what would you like to see next?

One thing I haven't talked about yet is the League of Habitats (other than Circus and a brief mention of High Lonesome). I could elucidate more on time frames for hyperspace travel or earlier historical eras like the Archaic Oikumene or the Radiant Polity. Then there's always more practical stuff like currency or sample names for more cultures. I did a post a while back getting very specific about inspirations for particular cultures, and I could always do something like that again.

Those are my ideas but you may have others. So what would you guys like to see? Comment here or drop me an email with suggestions!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Names in the Strange Stars

Obviously, you can use whatever names you want for the members of the various clades and cultures in Strange Stars, but here are some examples/guidelines for making up names on the fly for members of the Vokun Empire that fit with the examples given in the setting book:

High status Vokun names are multi-syllabic tend to end in -esh or a vowel. Female names are more likely to tend in a vowel and tend to be slightly shorter. Lower class Vokun names are shorter (generally two or three syllables). It is a grave insult to give a Vokun a nickname or otherwise shorten their name without permission.
Female: ArtazosthraIshramis, Jannaxa.Valakasta,Yazdaneshta, Zarshanta, Zrazdakai
Male: Axangavazda, Ksurukandesh, Makathryavu, Tehuteshada, Vahupareshta, Zrayangashamesh

Engineers use long designation codes that provide information on expertise, location, and genetic lineage. At the Vokuns' insistence, Engineers use a base designation of one or two syllables with other sophonts.
Examples: Aznat, Enek, Inaat, Ikatik, Mnazek, Ndzat, Omnak, Tlek

Art by Garrisonjames
Names of the ibglibdishpan are composed on two, monosyllabic elements that end in a vowel, n, ngm, l, r, sh or rarely b. Among themselves they employ numerical family designation that is placed before the personal name, but they rarely use these when dealing day to day with other cultures, except in formal situations.
Examples: Chun Ri, Gan Yul, Ro Nar, Ang Tu, Tan Em, Ib Kan, Li Pan.

Kuath have a singular, gendered personal name.
Male: An-Tuani, Cham-Ka, Hulan-Yi, Konaga, Ngata, Sungoro, Tanathi, Waruahi
Female: An-San, Chanya, Dara-Ja, Miri, Shu-sheng, Susi, Ulathi

Yantrans use a personal name and a family name. The family name is typically given first.
Surnames: Aranun, Haunahi, Hokuni, Kamata, Nohoka, Pomaku, Tutani
Female: Ahilani, Aonami, Elaheli, Hani, Ko’ana, Mululani, Poma, Uku
Male: Atamu, Aonga, Hukono, Isako, Kamaki, Rano, Tuati, Yano, Uko

Voidglider names are typically radio-communicated are not readily translatable to the phonemes of other clades. Nicknames are often employed by other species, and voidgliders will refer to each other with "translated" names.
Examples: Solar Wind, Luminous Object, Distant Star, Freefall Warrior, Far Glider, Blue Shift.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Strange Stars Update

With both the pdf and the hardcopy of Strange Stars out, it finally got it's first review from Eric over at the Swords & Stitchery blog. I did an interview with Chris Kutalik (author of Slumbering Ursine Dunes--on sale now!) over at the Hill Cantons blog, wherein we discuss the (probably not so secret) inspirations for Strange Stars. Right here on this blog, I've updated the Strange Stars Index page. Those updates include the last couple of posts before the release of the book and the posts I've done on adventuring in the the setting since its release.

Just because the book's out, we're not resting on our laurels. More posts are to come here and some Fate system book excerpts on John Till's Fate SF blog. Yesterday, he talked about his inspirations when writing for Strange Stars.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Multiversal Spotlight: Earth-37

The Multiversity Guidebook came out a couple of weeks ago, giving new information on the 52 Earths of the current DC Multiverse as envisioned by Grant Morrison. If you're reading Multiversity and inclined to skip this because it's just a guide book, you should reconsider as there is a bit of story there. Even if you haven't been reading Multiversity, but you're a fan of the DC multiverse you should check it out. Many of them were the old standbys we've seen since the earliest days of the Pre-Crisis Multiverse. Some are of much more recent vintage:

Apparent Concept: Earth Chaykin
Pictured: (left to right) Robin (Rickart Graustark), Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), Joker (Bianca Steeplechase), Star Hawkins, Tommy Tomorrow, Iron-Wolf.
Sources: Weird Worlds (1972) #8-10; Twilight #1-3 (1990) and presumably Ironwolf: Fires of Revolution (1999); Thrillkiller #1-3 (1997) and Thrillkiller '62 (1998), collected here.
Analogs: The world of Thrillkiller was designated as Pre-Crisis Earth-61 in Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths (2006); Post-52, Thrillkiller characters were shown as being on Earth-37 in Countdown: Arena #1 (February 2008).

Comments: Twilight was a re-imagining or Watchmen-izing of a number of DC's future nonsupers characters. It's unclear if the non-Twilight versions exist anywhere in the current Multiverse. Chaykin created Ironwolf in Weird Worlds and he gets referenced in Twilight, though never seen. We can assume he would be a different version.Then, years later, John Francis Moore and Chaykin wrote an Ironwolf graphic novel that altered his world a bit and represented some of the events of the Weird Worlds stories. The graphic novel is clearly intended to be in the world of Twilight, but it doesn't seem to jibe with the off-hand references to Ironwolf in that story! Ironwolf as pictured above looks like he did in his original 70s appearances, for what its worth.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Strange Stars: Galactic Adventuring

While any sort of adventure can probably be run in any of the regions of Strange Stars (on sale now!), each one is particularly suited to certain types of adventures:

Outer Rim
Precis: A wildnerness with dangers lurking on often inhospitable worlds.
Good for: survivable stuff, encounters with monsters in desolate places.
Inspiration: Alien, Planet of Vampires, ST:TOS "Obsession" and "The Galileo Seven," The Gold Rush (1925), Flight of the Phoenix (1964, 2004).
Comments: Ksaa territory in the Outer Rim opens up additional possibilities. They make a good standin for the scheming Romulans or Farscape's Scarrans.

The Alliance
Precis: A civilized, polyethnic region with dangers on every border.
Good For: espionage, special ops missions, border patrol, law enforcement, crime & detective stories.
Inspiration: James Bond, the Dominic Flandry novels by Poul Anderson, Ocean's Eleven, E.W. Hornung's Raffles stories, the Trigger Argee stories of James M. Schmitz, the Luff Imbry stories of Matthew Hughes.

The Instrumentality
Precis: A theocratic, expansionistic empire to be fought against or served, surrounding smaller independent states.
Good For: freedom fighters or self-interested rogues fighting the system; space pirates or privateers operating out of an anarchic port, spy stories or law enforcement (pulpy or shades of gray)
InspirationFirefly, Howard Chaykin's Cody Starbuck, James Bond, Ice Station Zebra (1968), Tales of the Gold Monkey (1982), Zapata Westerns.

Coreward Reach
Precis: A "points of light" wilderness with hidden civilizations and ruins of the past.
Good For: Exploration; lost worlds; comedies of manners with quirky cultures.
Inspiration: Gulliver's Travels, Forbidden Planet, the Alastor Cluster and the "Planet of Adventure" series by Jack Vance, ST:TOS "Shore Leave" and "A Taste of Armageddon," among many others.
Comments: The incursion of the Locusts also gives room for military action and an impending danger to add a ticking clock to other sorts of adventures.

Zuran Expanse
Precis: A lawless frontier where different cultures meet and ancient secrets are buried.
Good For: rogues and crminals; pirates, civilization vs. savagery, artifact looting and tomb-raiding.
Inspiration: Tatooine in Star Wars, the Uncharted Territories in Farscape, particularly the episodes "The Flax," "Home on the Remains," and "Liars, Guns, and Money," A Fist Full of Dollars, Deadwood, Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948), King Solomon's Mines, The Professionals (1966).

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Planets of Adventure

"Sword & Planet"/Planetary Romance is not exactly an under-presented genre in gaming (allowing for its relative lack of presence in current media). I can think of two recent games that tackle the genre directly (Warriors of the Red Planet and Planets of Peril) with things like Carcosa perhaps touching on it. And there are others. Most of these seem to borrow directly from the Burroughs style, perhaps learning a thing or two from his imitators. One element of Burroughs's later Mars and Venus books that is sometimes lacking or minimized is that Barsoom and Amtor aren't just fantasy worlds. They--a lot like Oz--are collections of "lost worlds."

Burroughs made a career of borrowing from the H.R. Haggard tradition of hidden, exotic societies/cultures in out-of-the-way places. Except for the "baseline" culture also being exotic or alien, Barsoom and Amtor really aren't that different from Tarzan's Africa; it had thorn-girt lands full of dinosaurs and monkey men, and lost Roman colonies, and intelligent apes who thought they were living in London, etc.

The hordes of sword and planet novels of the 60s don't really do any more with this than Burroughs, mainly content to have swashbuckling derring-do with airships and half-naked princesses--and to be fair, that is probably enough for anybody--but elsewhere the whole "planet of exotic adventure" thing got pushed to patchwork, crazy-quilt levels of exotic sub-worlds: Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon.

Mongo had the Orientalist city of Ming the Merciless (with a beautiful princess), but also the ice kingdom of Frigia (with a beautiful queen), and underground kingdom with Magic Men and death dwarfs (beautiful queen there, too), plus Shark Men, Lion Men, and Hawk Men. There is a uniformity to most Barsoomian city-states with their jeddaks and metal harnesses that is thrown out the window in Flash Gordon.

This sort of thing didn't end with Mongo. Jack Vance sort of does it in his Planet of Adventure novels. Lin Carter (of course) got into the act and combined it with the dying earth in his Gondwane novels. Though seeing the Vadim/Fonda film of 1968 might not convey this, the first Barbarella saga in the comic strip has her crashing on the planet Lythion and encountering undersea people ruled by a Medusa and a society modeled on 19th Century Earth, among other adventures.

This sort of thing would be easy in gaming, though it would make sessions somewhat unpredictable from the players' standpoint. The map would just be a lot of questions marks where almost anything might go.