Friday, June 24, 2016

More Descriptions for Hypothetical Hexes

by George Barr
4. On a frozen pass on trail to Hleng, the wind carries the hypnotic, banshee song of the Fell Waeroo, that chills the blood and draws prey into its clutches.

5. A permanent fae mist overhangs a small forest in the vicinity of the village Trinell. It hides the remnant of an ieldrawood. A small pack of wildling ieldri make their homes there, harrying and possibly stalking and killing any non-ieldra who enter. By way of a taunt, they will allow themselves to be seen before they strike, their cherubic faces gleaming with feral cruelty amid the uncanny foliage.

6. A small carvanserai displays an unusual relic: the skull of an usually large skarzg. The innkeep, Gan Thrut, says that tracks (like four clawed human hands) show that a family of smaller but still deadly skarzg still haunt the area. The local Prefect is paying a bounty on any further skulls delivered.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wednesday Comics: Master of Kung Fu

Last week, I picked on the first Master of Kung Fu Omnibus from Marvel. It was pricey, but it's some classic Bronze Age stuff, and given the rights issues involved, it is even less likely to see print again.

The series Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu was conceived out of necessity in 1972. The necessity being that Marvel was unable to obtain the rights to Kung Fu, the popular TV series. Marvel looked back to that pinnacle of Yellow Peril baddies, Fu Manchu, and crafted new character (a previously unknown son, Shang-Chi) and tied him into Sax Rohmer's stories.

The series is most written by Steve Englehart and has art by the like of Jim Starlin and Paul Gulacy. Stuff like this:

And this:

Stuff like that. Costly the collection may be, but you can't argue with the quality.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Three Descriptions in Need of Hexes

by Konstantin Komardin
1. An Amazon, Kai An Zura, is encamped beneath the boughs of an ancient tree grown from a seed brought from another world. She waits for something. A band of Gogs is desperate to remove her from  her camp, but so far they have had no success.

by juuhana
2. The tents of an itinerant mystery show are pitched in a clearing. Strange, half-working machines of the Ancients bring otherworldly sensory experiences or troubling, waking dreams. In one tent, a bored young medium smokes up wayward spirits with the polychromic fumes from a long-stemmed heka-pipe. Her turban hides a silvery tattoo of a third eye on her forehead. She will not speak of it nor of Hidden Ulumé, her home.

by P. Craig Russell
3. A small hilltop with frozen tableau: a courier in somewhat antiquated livery seems to pause from his journey to have a meal. What has held courier, mount, fire, and cookpot suspended in time for many years is unclear, but anyone who comes close enough to touch any of the above will fall prey to the same stasis.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Chances Are Walter Velez Has Illustrated Your Game

Sure, it's the Frazettas and Fabians, or Blanches and Buscemas--or even Elmores and Caldwells whose art fueled most of our gaming imaginations, but at least for my game, the works of George Velez hit a bit closer to what the reality is at the table.

Exhibit A. See that? That's a pudgy wizard running from a dragon that looks like it doesn't have a whole lot of hit points.

This is all the PCs trying to parley with the leader of the NPCs at once.

The fight didn't go exactly how you planned? Quelle suprise.

Hassled by annoying little people? It's been known to happen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Battle for Earth

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

Storm: The Battle for Earth (1980) (part 5)
(Dutch: De Strijd om de Aarde)
Art by Don Lawrence & Script by Dick Matena

The Azurian ship arrives to take Storm to Mars for negotiations and exchange him for Ember. As soon as Storm is aboard the spaceship, "Ember" is revealed to be merely a projection.

Soon, the real Ember and Storm are brought before the Grand Council. They are offered the choice of having their minds erased--or death. They choose death rather than live as puppets under the alien yoke.

Meanwhile, Solon and Balder have traveled to Mars. They free the convicts working on the canal and incite them to revolt. In the chaos, the former Supervisor runs off with a plan to restore his position.

He is brought before the Grand Council and informs them of the army that's coming. He asks only for the right to kill Storm and Ember who brought about is discommendation. The Council grants his request:

The execution is broadcast to the rebels to get them to stop fighting. Storm and Ember appear to be blasted to nothingness. The Grand Council is confused by the lack of bodies. The Supervisor reveals his deception. Those two are useful to him and the Grand Council who humiliated him is not:

The Supervisor plans to complete his coup on another Azurian colony. He takes a spacecraft and forces Storm and Ember to go with him. Storm secretly programs a random coordinates in the dimension control, however, and they are dropped into the middle of a storm. The Supervisor, convinced the larger craft is doomed, abandons ship in a small vessel.

Storm manages to safe the ship and pilot it back to Mars. There they reunite with their friends and make plans for peaceful co-existence with the Azurian former convicts. Many other Azurian former colonists accept the treaty as well, but on the Moon, a new Grand Council of hardliners forms. An armada of ships sets out for Earth to purge the disloyal Azurians and kill Storm!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Into the Ether

Our 5e Land of Azurth game continued last night with the party finally getting a demonstration from Princess Viola of the projector they found several sessions ago. The projector is an etheric viewer and if left on long enough, it can open a portal into the etheric realm. Within the glowing circle of light cast by projector the party sees the guy above trying desperately to get their attention!

When they can finally talk with him, he says he is a Super-Wizard named Zuren-Ar. He claims to have rebelled against his people for their crimes--the crimes that led to their destruction--and was made a political prisoner in the Etheric Zone for his trouble. His partner was also a dissident, and she is imprisoned somewhere "even worse." That worse place is the Carnelian Hypercube, a prison in the deep either where those who offend the gods (perpetrators of "Crimes Most Cosmic") are locked up.

Zuren-Ar would be detected due to his immense super-wizardry, but he reasons the weaker PCs could slip into the prison. And he has a plan to do it.

The players were not immediately trusting of Zuren-Ar, but no one from the Princess to the Abbot of the local shrine of the Handmaiden of Knowledge had a lot of information on the Super-Wizards or the Hypercube to refute his story. Eventually, their desire for adventure and their hope for treasure carried the day. They got the Princess to blast their weapons and armor with radiation to make them ethereal-ready, and off they went.

Zuren-Ar's plan was this: He knew of a bounty hunter transport of prisoners headed for the Hybercube. The party could take them out and use the bounty hunters' credentials to get past the ten-eyed giant security guardians on the outer surface of the Hypercube.

The bounty hunters and their caged captives were on the back of a giant eel-thing. The hunters were a motley bunch of "astral mutants." The leader, Maloclus:

And his compatriots, the warrior-monk Maarta and the very excitable, necro-blast wielding Drednar:

The hunters were tough, but six on three (Zuren-Ar sat back to gauge his allies' ability) wasn't a fair fight. Their strange weapons, alas, were not particularly lootable as Maarta's sputtering energy blades required psychic training and discipline, Drednar's wailing-ghost necrogun was powered by his personal connection to the Negative Energy Realm, and Maloclus's plate armor was cursed (according to Zuren-Ar).

The party talked with the other prisoners. Only two of the three were left as a negative energy being had escape during the melee. One was a rabbit-man named Jaka Oloap from the world of Lagomorfa who claimed his crime was offending the Bright Lady (Rabbit Folk goddess of the Moon) by flying a craft to the moon and crashing the rabbit godlings' lunar revelry. The other was an elderly sadsack who said his crime was instituting "excessive bureaucracy" when he was administrator of his world. Neither of them were going to rat the PCs out to the prison guards.

The lizard man piloting the eel just wanted to get home to his latest five hundred hatchlings, so he piloted on. To the Hypercube they went...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Ethereal & Astral

My 5e Land of Azurth game continues this afternoon and it may well see the PCs sojourning into the Etheric Zone (i.e. Ethereal Plane). Here are some old classic posts I wrote on the two from which I'm be mining some ideas:

"Plane Talk About Ethereal Matters"
"Ad Astral (Plane)"