Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday Comics: The Price (Part 3)

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 3)
Eclipse Graphic Album Series #5 (October 1981) Story & Art by Jim Starlin

Synopsis: The demon Bailgesaurd has revealed to Darklock that the sorcerer Taurus Killgaren ordered the death of Darklock's brother. The demon is confident the knowledge will be of no use since Darklock has not the power to defeat the sorcerer. There might be a way, though.

Darklock is suspicious of the demon. He uses a magic amulet to ensure its truthfulness. Bailgesaurd sticks to his claim:

With the demon's help, Darklock can get to a 10th level reality called Nirvana's Gate, accessible to only gods and demons. There he will find an enchanted iris known as the Eye of the Gods. The Eye is the portal to an 11th level realm where the god's store there reserve's of mystical energy.

Darklock wonders why Biagesaurd doesn't take the energy for himself. The demon explains that the god's tainted the energies precisely so his kind couldn't get it. They did not, however, believe humans to be a threat, so they never proofed it against them. Why would a demon want to make a human more powerful? Bialgesaurd wants to see Killgaren die horribly:

Darklock agrees and commands Bialgesaurd transport him to the Eye. The demon does so, and Darklock is able to enter the eye with a simple spell of access:

To be continued.

Things to Notice:
  • Starlin's higher planes are reminiscent of Ditko's magical metascapes.
It all seems to be going pretty easy for Darklock, doesn't it? A demon just up and tells him how to still a whole bunch of power so they can both get revenge.

Of course, there's a catch, but it's really a bigger hint that Starlin isn't just telling a sci-fi revenge tale, here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Have A Yule (in July) That's Cool

Rpgnow and Drivethrurpg are running a "Christmas in July" Sale with a big list of rpg products at 25% off. This includes a lot of great books, like stuff by blogging compatriots like Tim Shorts--and my own Weird Adventures!

If you've been fence-sitting on picking it up, you can get the pdf now for under a sawbuck, and the hardcover/pdf combo for under $25.

And remember, friends:

recommend it!

Monday, July 21, 2014

War Machines of the Toxic Wastes

There is a vast desert, a creation of the Great Wars, where ancient, giant war machines decay into the poison dust. Limbs rust-ravaged and twisted; ichor clotted in their arteries, they look dead. Their energies are long spent, but the machines aren't dead. A power source can awaken them from their millennia-long slumber. They once ran on energy distilled from the bones of gods, but the machines are versatile. Even blood will do.

The cults that worship them with sacrifices and the sorcerer's that seek to control them agree the machines can be made to serve, but all if the proper incantations, called "command codes" are uttered. Even knowing the proper incantations, commanding an ancient war machine is not without it's perils. The spells of the ancients that bond them to service have faded over time, and the war machines have become more willful, if no less violent.

[Hey, kids! Want to randomly generate your own giant war machines? Just use Jack Shear's Random Automaton Generator and embiggen the damage on account of giantness. Also, you might want to replace the "humanoid" rolls on the chart with some of the other body shapes suggested in the comments.]

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Artesia on Sale

The digital comics site Comixology is running a sale until the 21st on Archaia's fantasy comics. That includes the collections of Mark Smylie's Artesia for 4.99 USD each. Though  it's incomplete (and seriously delayed) it's perhaps the best epic fantasy comic going. I've discussed it before in my review of comic book swordswomen.

So if you've ever been tempted, get over and check out the sage for a low price.

Friday, July 18, 2014


Map by Grimklok
Is He-Man's Eternia the future or past of our own world? This map super-imposing the two hints that their only a cataclysm apart, one direction or the other. Something like a run away comet hurtling between the earth and the moon, perhaps?

Someone should do a comparison map with She-Ra's Etheria:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Murderhobos, or The Modern Prometheus

Mentzer's BECMI codified the ultimate D&D endgame: apotheosis. The execution might leave something to be desired, but I think the basic idea is a good one. Instead of Immortals waiting to welcome newly ascended adventurers into their pantheon, it might be cooler if they treated godhood as something they didn't particularly want to share. It's got to be taken from them.

The gods are probably too absorbed in their own activities to spend a lot of time actively going after adventures. Probably. But they're certainly not going to make the paths to immortality easy to find, and likely going to put obstacles in the way of adventurers who go after them. The more powerful they get, the more they'll attract the Immortals' attention and be bedeviled by them. Think the sort of things that happened to Hercules and others hunted by the gods in Greek myth.

Immortals as adversaries or obstacles would certainly explain some of the things about dungeons and other adventuring locales. The only problematic detail would be clerical magic. I suppose clerics, empowered by the Immortals, might eventually become adversaries to other adventurers. They would be sort of the gods' check to make sure humans didn't get too powerful. That would be interesting, but maybe too game-changing. Alternatively, clerics might be powered by the fundamental forces of the universe (the same thing that powers the Immortals) and militant humanists bucking the gods by using that power for the good of mankind.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday Comics: The Price (part 2)

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 2)
Eclipse Graphic Album Series #5 (October 1981) Story & Art by Jim Starlin

Synopsis: Lord Papal views Syzygy Darklock as a potential rival and is giving him just enough rope to hang himself. As he explains to Sister Marian, Darklock is quite aware of the Lord Papal's maneuvering. He plans to avenge his brother's murder with the latitude he's been given--and one day supplant the Lord Papal.

Whoever sent demons to kill his brother was probably after Darklock instead. Their auras are similar and that's how demon's track their prey. The demon would have also watched Ajar'l for hours or days before it struck. Darklock goes to his brother's office to pick up the demon's residue. He enter's a mystic trance, using Sister Marian as an anchor to the physical plane, and discovers a name: Bialgesuard.

Darklock plans to summon the demon, something Sister Marian says the Lord Papal wouldn't even attempt alone. Darklock says he's studied more and gained more mystical knowledge than his instructors or the Lord Papal has guessed. He knows he can do it.

Soon, Darklock has everything in readiness. He begins commences the ritual. Then:

Bialgesuard is not happy to have been summoned by a fool priest of a religion of liars. He refuses to serve Darklock or answer his questions. The priest makes him change his mind:

Darklock asks, "Who is your master?"

The demon gives up the name: Taurus Killgaren. Darklock has neve heard of him, but the demon assures the priest that he is a being of vast power. Power vast enough that the Lord Papal kept his existence hidden from the lower echelons of the church to preserve the myth of church omnipotence. Power vast enough that he didn't need a pentagram or hexagram to summon the demon.

To be continued.

Things to Notice:
  • The Church Instrumentality is remarkably involved in ritual magic.
The demon summoning in this issue is much more in the tradition of the ars goetia than the Kirby or Ditko-esque psychedelic scenes that Starlin used to portray magic and magic ritual in earlier works. The demon summoned is in the goetic tradition as well. Baal (possibly the inspiraiton for Bailgesuard's name) is said in goetic works to sometimes appear with the head of a cat.