Monday, October 12, 2015

An Evil Carnival in Azurth

Art by Jeff Call
Last night, our fifth edition Land of Azurth campaign continued. A mysterious carnival on the outskirts of Riverton hadn't paid its taxes (and a few people have disappeared--but that's less important), so Mayor Gladhand asked the party to step in and take a look. Casing the place in the daytime when it was closed, revealed very little activity, but Shae the Ranger played Dr. Doolittle and found out the horses for the carnival wagons were actually townsfolk who had been polymorphed.  The carnies run off the party before they can get more. This will be a theme of the session as the party tries to get to the horses to get more information, but are thwarted by carnie folk. The frogling thief Waylon theorizes horses may have switched places with humans!

While the party plots, darkness arrives and the carnival opens. Dagmar discovers the ale and cider at the food tent is magical, but the party lets the townsfolk drink anyway to monitor its effects. As far as they can tell, it makes some people slightly sick and they are escorted out of the carnival. Meanwhile, some townsfolk disappear into exhibits, and halfling clowns seem to close in on the PCs, subtly, but menacingly.

Pretty soon the carnival seems to close--but the real show begins. Carnies reveal themselves as wererats and attack. The turban of Marvello the Mentalist hides an intellect devour that attacks Dagmar the Cleric and Erkose the fighter. A cry for help from a damsel in distress in the peepshow tent turns out to be Verna the Viridescent Beauty who is really a green hag. Mister Pumpkin, the carnival owner, makes his appearance along with an entourage of capering, knife-wielding halfling clowns.
Verna before she turned out to be a Hag in disguise
The party comes out pretty well, though. They discover that Mister Pumpkin is a rat-king and a swarm of rats beneath a robe. All the carnies are wererats, and all the animals in the menagerie are hapless polymorphed townspeople. The rats flee, and the party confiscates their small amount of treasure without ever knowing the full nature of their plan, where the hag and the other monsters that might have been in the exhibits got off too, or what consuming the concessions will do to the townspeople.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fate SF Strange Stars A-D

As a sort of lead up to the release of Strange Stars Fate (soon now!), it's author, John Till has been doing some Strange Stars related posts on his blog. Even if Fate isn't your system of choice, there is some good and gameable stuff, here!

A: Attendants--a moravec clade who provide topnotch service to the wealthiest clients.
B: Bomoth on Boreas!
C: Clades and how you use them.
D: Adding the Deaders from Last Parsec to Strange Stars.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Probably Not in Strange Stars

I've talked a lot about finding inspiration in older sci-fi,  but their are some vintage TV aliens, I just couldn't fit in:

No two headed clades. Not even on Mars like in the Twilight Zone.

The Saticons from Lost in Space know how to accessorize, but well...

The Lobster Man from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea has no opposable thumbs.

Like Talislanta, Strange Stars has no elves, so these guys from the Lost in Space episode "Space Vikings" are out.

The zarbi and the menoptera from Doctor Who. What is there to say really?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Hyehoon: Another Strange Stars SWN Excerpt

This is pretty much the format the clades for player character use will be in in the Strange Stars Old School book, currently in the works:

Physical Characteristics: Biologic humanoids with some avian characteristics. They have lighter frames than baseline humans, but are strong for their weight. Head and brow hair is replaced by light, downy feathers.
Psychological Characteristics: Hyehoon are dynamic and inquisitive. They get along well with other clades.
Names: While there is variation based on subculture, most hyehoon have a personal name, a clutch name (immediate family), and a clan name (larger kinship group). Their typical ordering convention is clan name, personal name, clutch name. Samples:
Female Personal Names: Ahwi, Hyana, Oona, Wheta, Yaren, Yrari
Male Personal Names: Apata, Hamoon, Helo, Olo, Tuvo, Ydris
Clutch Names: use personal names from either gender
Clan Names: Ahmat, Aroi, Milonga, Ro, Sokha, Yooloo, Waroi
Backgrounds: Any; Adventurer, Astrogator’s Mate, Biotech Crew, Comm Crew, Politician, Researcher, and Technician are typical.
Classes: Any.
Attributes: standard.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Queen of the Man-Things

Reviews of previous issues of Weirdworld can be found here.

"Queen of the Man-Things"
Weirdworld #4 (November 2015), Written by Jason Aaron; Art by Michael Del Mondo

Synopsis: Arkon and Skull the Slayer have plunged into a swamp where the very touch of the vegetation burns. The Slayer has the upper hand, but Arkon luckily finds one of his lightning bolt-shaped weapons underwater, and stabs Skull with it.

The combatants are both grabbed by plant creatures rising from the much--Man-Things. They again burn as they feel fear, Arkon sees the flames consuming his beloved Polemachus.

The Queen of the Man-Things comments that there is so much fear in both of them. She is Jennifer Kale and she reveals that Skull is James Patrick Scully and they are both from the world beyond Weirdworld. She tells Arkon that it is Morgan Le Fay, the Baroness of Weirdworld that hunts him and Skull works for her.

Kale wants to depose Le Fay and bring peace to the world and for that, she needs soldiers. She takes two winged frog things and puts them in their mouths. Arkon sees a vision of Polemachus upside down, but he realizes it's something more that his fear of his world being turned upside down.

Skull's vision makes him see the error of his ways. Kale rechristens him Skull the Redeemer. She turns to Arkon...

He rejects her offer and flees. Kale lets him go. Arkon runs through an area of rock that looks familiar. He's at the place where Polemachus should be, but it's gone. He's at the edge of Weirdworld. Arkon prepares to committee suicide. What he doesn't know:

Man-Thing is famous (well, as non-top tier Marvel characters go). Jennifer Kale is a supporting cast character from the Man-Thing's comic; she's heir to ancient Atlantean magics.

Monday, October 5, 2015

After the Flood

After a weekend of heavy rain and flooding in this neck of the woods, some uses of floods and their aftermaths in games is on my mind. There's what I've got:

The Lost City: Inundated coastal cities might become lost or at least legendary. Ys is a good example. There's typically a mystery here or at least potent magic. It might be a whole area to explore, or just a bit of weirdness in a campaign.

Looting the Depths: Jesse Bullington's The Folly of the World includes an attempted theft in town submerged by the Saint Elizabeth's Flood of 1421(the 20th worst flood in history). "Moon fishing" is apparently the term for treasure among the ruins of the towns flooded by China's Three Gorges Dam. Looting underwater would present special challenges for adventurers and a different array of monsters than the usual.

Something Strange Beneath the Surface: You already know about aquatic elves and aquatic trolls, but let's got deeper. In Swamp Thing #38, Alan Moore presents an aquatic mutation of vampires in the submerged town of Rosewood, Illinois. Any monster can have an aquatic variant but the key to making them non-mundane is having them by one-offs in unusual circumstances.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Special Snowflake Called Azurth

Art by Jeff Call
Humza K, author of the Legacy of Bieth and newest Hydra Cooperative member, has started a series of interview posts at the Hydra blog about "Special Snowflake" D&D settings. His interview with me regarding the Land of Azurth was the first published.

Go read it here.