Thursday, August 21, 2014

Planning for 5e: The Races

The traditional D&D races as presented aren't in many cases a precise fit for what I want to do with the campaign I'm planning, but I want to use more than I might otherwise to give D&D 5 a good trial, and to make things easy on my players.

Elves: They’ll be there, but I’m not sure quite how yet. Maybe some wood-elves with a Hobbit vibe to them. They will probably be rare, and in isolated places, at least within the Land of Azurth.

Dwarves: There probably will be something pretty much like the D&D standard dwarf, but these guys will be rare. The more common dwarf type will be something like the Kologor dwarves of Hollow World, i.e. the beer-drinking, ninepin-playing variety. There may also be something like the Dark Sun dwarf in the arid parts of Sang.

Halflings: Halfings will be in abundance, though they may not be distinguished from other “little people” races as much as in standard D&D. I suspect they may well have a chance of unusual traits like on the Dwarf Land trait tables.

Gnomes: Gnomes will just be another variety of little folk, distinguished only by their aptitude as tinkerers. There will be a number of them clustered around Viola, the Clockwork Princess of Yanth.

Tieflings: These will be the majority of the population in Daemonland beyond the borders of Azurth. They’ll show up elsewhere, but rarely. In appearance, they’ll typically be more DiTerlizzi than the 5e illustations.

Dragonborn: Though they may be a bit different, they’ll be found in Sang, but probably not elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesday Comics: Sketchy Syzygy

The end of The Price will wait another week. I read 5e instead of writing the post. Enjoy these renditions of Syzygy Darklock by other hands until that time:

Angel Medina gives us Dreadstar and Syzygy with a 90s sensibility.

alientechnology2mars delivers this cool rendition.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Maps for a Fairy Tale Pointcrawl

Looking around for cool fantasy maps, I've come across of number of maps of fairytales/folklore/myth. They don't have any hexes (though that could be remedied), but they've got all the encounters laid out right their for you.

Probably the biggest and best of these is Bernard Sleigh's "Ancient Map of Fairyland." It's really big, but you can peruse it and soak up all its detail here. If that's too much here's the slightly less detailed Jaro Hess map of the "The Land of Make Believe":

The writing is small there, but this blog post runs down a list of all the points.

Saving the easiest to read (and most modern) for last, here's a map by Walt Kelly of Pogo fame:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lay of the Land

This is stuff I'm working on for my anticipated 5e game. It's all subject to change without notice:

The land is laid out like a rough circle, and at its center is a city-state with crystalline spires, a Sapphire City grown from jewels that were alleged to be fragments of stars. The master of this city is not a king or emperor, but he does claims stewardship over all the land. He is famed as a wizard, and his greatest act of thaumaturgy was growing the Sapphire City. The Wizard seldom wastes his magic on such gaudy displays, though, and the more cynical speculate his primary art is something other than magic. All agree he is a man of cunning.

Four countries encircle the region of the Sapphire City. Their rulers are a contentious lot, but deference (or fear) of the Wizard holds them in check.

The country to the East is Yanth, and its colors are violet and yellow. It's ruler is a Clockwork Princess, at once wondrous artifact and great artificer, renowned across the land. 

The country to the South is called Sang; Its color is crimson. It's ruler is the famed Princess of Battles, said to have hatched from an egg in a dragon's brood and to have vowed to take no lover who did not first best her in combat.

Artist: Yoshitaka Amano
The country in the West is Virid, and green is its color. The Enchantress who rules it is said to be the most alluring woman in the world. She has a palace beneath the waters of an inland sea.

The country in the North is Noxia; Its colors are the black and gray of its blighted and gloomy landscape. Its dread Witch Queen cares little for the living and is obsessed with death--and undeath, and has been so since her lover fell into an eternal sleep.

Friday, August 15, 2014

One Universe Supers

Not too many years ago, I spent a lot of time constructing (in my head mostly, but also some notes and timelines) a superhero crossover universe inspired by Philip J. Farmer's Wold Newton family (or the expansion of the idea by Win Eckert and others). I've never wound up gaming in this universe, but I still think it would worth trying one day. The basic elements are these:
1) The comic books and other media we get are actually fictionalized/disguised versions of events in a real universe. They probably have as much relationship to real events and people as the movie Tombstone does to the OK Corral and the lives of the Earp brothers.
2) There is one, primary Earth. All the Marvel and DC heroes (as well as a number of other comic and pulp characters) inhabit this world.
3) This world is as "real" as our world, except for the inclusion of superpowers and what not, so people and institutions have behaviors and motivations much more similar to what we see outside our window than in the pages of kid's funny books. Also, "realistic" means people age; no sliding timescales.
Here are some examples of how that would be put into action:

Does there just happen to be two brash bowman who wind up with blonde girlfriends with sonic screams? Nope. Green Arrow is a legacy hero, and "Hawkeye" is the original's sidekick grown up, who was briefly a villain, then an authority-questioning hero. he didn't pay enough attention to his side kick, and the kid fell into drug abuse, but eventually gets clean and becomes a SHIELD agent.

Or, here's the true history of some reptile-themed villains: A scientist named Curt Connors, desperate to help injured vets like himself, sets up a special clinic in the Florida giving an experimental treatment--with tragic results. One of these before doomed veterans gets his wife pregnant, and the child grows up to show latent genetic damage and enters a life of crime:

Anyway, you get the idea. It's amazing how many of connections like these you could make, and I think it would make for a fun campaign with a lot of room for creative (at least in "discovering" connections) with the advantages of using established comics universes.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Collect Them All!

Do you remember these STRANGE STARStm  action figures from the early 80s? There was this guy, the robot and the green woman--and a bunch of aliens.

Probably not (though if you do, email me) because, as far as I know, they don't exist. This is a super-cool promo bit done by the ever talented Lester B. Portly featuring artwork by Eric Quigley. And before you ask, rest assured work on Strange Stars continues.  We aren't just playing around.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday Comics: The Price (part 5)

We continue our examination of Jim Starlin's Dreadstar Saga with The Price. The earlier posts in the series can be found here.

The Price (part 5)
Eclipse Graphic Album Series #5 (October 1981) Story & Art by Jim Starlin

Synopsis: Leaving Taurus Killgaren a smoldering skeleton, Darklock returns to Sister Marian. He tells her he killed his brother's murderer, but the man was not the bloodthirsty fiend he had imagined. Sister Marian doesn't understand, but Darklock says it doesn't matter.

Instead, he asks her a question about a hypothetical moral quandary. If she could play a major part in an event that would change humanity's destiny for the better, but it required her to sacrifice her own life--and her death would be painful and horrible: Would she do it?

Sister Marian doesn't know what he's going on about, but she's a nun of the Instrumentality: If the gods' required she lay down her life for the betterment of humanity, she would.

Darklock was afraid she would say that. She asks what's wrong and calls him her love. He acknowledges that he loves her, too. He had never dared speak of it because of their vows. The truth is, he has never been a pious man; the priesthood was just a means to comfort and power. But she did believe, and her piety rubbed off on him. He would never have soiled that with his lusts. He loved her, though--and will to the end of his days...

Marian is in a dark room, confused. Then she remembers Darklock was never one for hypothetical questions:

First Darklock hears her prayers. Then come her screams.that seem to go on forever. Finally, there are her last, choking sounds. What he hears last is even more horrible: her body being eaten. When  it's done, and the door opens, he enters the room and takes the power:


Things to Notice:
  • Always wise to be careful who you answer hypothetical questions.
And so, Sister Marian pays "the price"--and so does Darklock. She gives up her life or is tricked into doing so, and Darklock gives up the thing that he loves the most. In fact, Darklock has paid a series of prices for power: he does not pursue a relationship with Marian in the name of his vows (which by his own admission give him access to power), he sacrifices much of his body to gain the power to kill Killgaren, and then this.