Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Bug of a Different Color

Here's another obscure Star Trek species for Starships & Spacemen:

Encountered: 2d4 (5d10)
Movement: 90' (30')
Intelligence: Average
Psionic Potential: 4d4, inactive
Hits: 1d8
Armor: -2
Combat Skill: 12
Save: L1
Attacks: 1
Damage: By weapon or 1d4
Morale: 7
XP: 10

Nasat are short humanoids vaguely resembling Terran isopods. They are known to the Federation in the 23rd Century, but are not yet members.

Nasat average 4 ft. tall and have 8 limbs, but typically ambulate bipedally. Either of their upper pairs of limbs may be used as manipulators. Though they have an internal skeleton, they also possess thick plates of carapace that extend down their tails. Their integument is either green, blue, red, brown on yellow.  

These colors divide the Nasat into “shell-groups” which are geographically co-mingled but divide their society in a way analogous to kinship groups in human societies. Nasat have no other concept of kinship. or even pair-bonding. Mating is a casual affair, with no real associated emotion. Children are raised in communal nurseries  and shepherded through adolescence by minimal support from members of their shell-group.  

Nasat are cautious, often to the point of cowardice from the perspective of other species. They make poor fighters, but have a natural aptitude for technology and make excellent technicians and engineers.

Note: Em3Green was a thief and expert lockpicker  who appeared in the animated series episode “The Jihad.” His species was named and further members were introduced in the ebook series Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers .

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: Citadel of Fear

Let's re-enter the lost world with another installment of my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"Citadel of Fear"
Warlord #115 (March 1987)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Art by Ron Randall

Synopsis: Crossing the desert on the way to Kaambuka, a merchant caravan is attacked by “the Warlord and his blood-mad horde.” The survivors of the caravan are taken off to the Citadel of Fear. The Citadel’s master is Desaad, chief torturer of Darkseid, who’s indulging his sadism at the expense of the captives. When the technological illusion drops away, the Warlord is revealed to actually be Y’smalla, the former Vashek assassin. She allied herself with Desaad in her quest for vengeance.

Meanwhile, the real Morgan and his companions are returning from the castle of V’Zarr Hagar-Zinn--still without a means to save Jennifer. He’s also not looking forward to facing his wife Tara and telling her he’s now in love with Mariah! Shakira is disgusted with him and rides off on her own.

Mariah and Morgan ride into a town where Morgan is immediately attacked. The two are taken captive and the townsfolk plan to burn Morgan alive! A bystander rushes to a horse to ride to Shamballah and tell Queen Tara.

He arrives just in time to see a person with the appearance of Morgan shift into the form of Desaad and kidnap the Queen. The man doesn’t want to tangle with a sorcerer, but he rides back to the town, arriving in time to save Morgan and Mariah from being burned at the stake. (It’s a good thing Shamballah and this town are so close.)

This helpful fellow leads Morgan and Mariah to the Citadel of Fear where Desaad is already subjecting Tara to his tortures. Morgan may be in love with Mariah (thanks to a magic charm Mariah bought) but he feels honor bound to save Tara. Mariah, for her part, is starting to feel guilty about manipulating him.

Y’smalla warns Desaad that Morgan is coming. The Apokolipsian villain plans a reception for the Warlord. When Morgan arrives, he sees Tara reclining in sybaritic indulgence with wine and two guys. It’s all an illusion courtesy of Darkseid. Morgan wavers for a moment, but then V’Zarr Hagar-Zinn’s magic ring kicks in:

Desaad knows the jig is up. He tries to blast Morgan but hits Mariah instead. Morgan returns fire with his pistol, destroying some of Desaad’s machinery. The torturer decides his work here is done and makes his escape. Desaad’s device is falling apart--and both Tara and Mariah are in harm’s way! Who will Morgan choose?

Morgan runs for Mariah, who suddenly has an attack of conscience. She throws the love charm in a nearby fire. She tells Morgan to save Tara. With the charm destroyed, Morgan makes an about face and runs to save his wife. A certain black cat bounds in and transforms into Shakira. She helps Mariah get to safety.

Our heroes are all safe, and Morgan and Tara are reunited. And Mariah:

Desaad leaves Skartaris, his mission to destroy the legend of the Warlord far from a complete success but not a total failure, either. He’s also left Y’smalla behind with tools to cause chaos as a parting shot.

Things to Notice:
  • This issue is a Legends crossover.
  • Morgan calls his beloved Mariah "youngster," too. That's even more odd than him calling Shakira that.
  • It's strange that the loyal Shamballan so pivotal to this story goes unnamed.
Where it Comes From:
The title of this issue is the same as a 1918 lost world novel by Francis Stevens (Gertrude Barrows Bennett),  but there is no clear link between the two. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Soldiers for Salvation

Every adventurer has at least heard of the Hell Syndicate and its infernal bosses, but fewer are aware that the agents of Heaven are also active in the world. Worldwide, they’re a varied lot--more variable even than the differing versions of the Supreme Being espoused by world religions and encountered by planar travelers--but they have similar aims: They make sure the multiverse functions as it should and they motivate humans to confront the forces of evil.

The followers of the Good Book call these beings “angels.” In the Astral and beyond they can be powerful and frightening, bigger and stronger than many earthly eikones. Their forms are too big and strange for the Material Plane, but in the higher realms they're composed of  a tumult of wings and heads of animals or geometric solids and fire. Always fire.

On earth, they're are smaller and more mundane. A string of soup kitchens and homeless shelters across the Strange New World are operated by angels in human guise or their agents. From the down-and-outs, addicts, and alcoholics that take advantage of their services, the angels recruit soldiers. The most trusted of these they grant minor miraculous powers, making them essentially members of the Gifted. Others are recruited via traveling revivals or mysteriously short-lived radio evangelist shows. These folk drawn from among the working poor, the elderly, and the outcasts of society become secret members of the Army of Salvation.They wait quietly for the time when they will be called upon to perform some task for the agents of God.

Some angels on Earth are sent on missions by their superiors to right various mundane wrongs they encounter--not by direct action as much as by encouraging humans to do so. These angels seldom appear in any way angelic: They mostly look like traveling salesmen, regular clerks or the like. They rarely manifest any supernatural powers--though they are able to travel from place to place instantaneously and have the uncanny knack of avoiding serious physical harm. Other powers are available to them, but these must be cleared with their superiors and are only sanctioned in the direst need.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ghosts of the First Ones

Discoveries since the the advent of the space age have confirmed occult theories and assertions of the Book of Dzyan that humanity is not the first intelligence to arise on the earth. Astral projection has allowed a glimpse of the beings that inhabited earth in the distance past. The oldest of these was a protoplasmic race made of lighter elements than current physical matter--indeed, they were of a density we would currently term “etheric.” They inhabited a continent only slightly denser than themselves, long ago sublimated into the Astral, but then located at what is now the North Pole. For this reason, these beings have been dubbed “Polarians.”

Psychic impressions indicate the Polarians were alien in many respects. They do not appear to have possessed consciousness in the manner of humans and were perhaps part of a group intelligence. They weren't users of tools in the usual sense: they made what they need from their own substance. Polarian bodies possessed no organs and they reproduced asexually via binary fission.

Polarians are long extinct, but their tenuous ghosts are sometimes encountered, particular in the atmospheres of the gaseous outer planets, blown there by the solar winds.


# Enc.:1 (1d4)  Movement:180’ (60’)  Armor Class: 0 (or 8)  Hit Dice: 8  Attacks:1  Damage: 1d6, see below  Save: M8.
These remnants of the Polarian race are ethereal and incapable of physical harm or being harmed by physical creatures. However, their presence is unnerving and may cause fear as per spell. Pyschic beings are particularly susceptible to their alien intellects and save at a -2. They can be harmed by supernatural abilities which effect ethereal creatures or by other ethereal being. They may strike ethereal creatures with pseudopods for 1d6 damage. On a successful hit they can envelope a foe if they wish, provided their man-size or smaller. To ethereal creatures this does a 2 points of damage per round. Their ability to damage etheric beings also allows them to disrupt psychic helms, effecting navigation in unpredictable ways.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Some Images from Talislantan Space

Well, not really, but they work reasonably we for it:

Chana warrior.

Jaka manhunter.

Mondre Khan.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Talislantan Space: Cymrilians

The planet Cymril lies at the center of the Seven Worlds Alliance. Its capital and only city--the crystalline megalopolis Cymril City (or just “Cymril”)--is the de facto capital of the Alliance and the nexus of trading routes, as well. Beyond the city, Cymril is only sparsely populated wilderness, dotted with small settlements.

Cymrilians are a green-skinned humanoid species known for their powerful psi abilities. Not all Cymrilians possess these abilities, but psi training and experimentation are central to Cymrilian culture, and the most powerful psionics form the planet's ruling elite. They have even developed technological means of enhancing their mental powers. All children of Cymrilian society are tested at a young age for psi abilities and the most promising are sent to various academies.

Cymril was founded by a people called the Phandre from the Phaedran Star Empire of old. The Phandre exiles split into three factions/sub-ethnicites that exist to the modern day. The Koresians, currently ascendant in Cymril, are forward-thinking and more interested in being involved in galactic society. The Tanasians are conservatives descended from the former rulers of the Phandre. Until their ouster, Cymril was more a authoritarian and expansionistic state. Tanasians instituted a eugenics program to foster psi potential among their people and were generally opposed to alliances with other (lesser in their view) species.

The third group, the Pharesians, are radicals and rejectionists of Cymril society. 
Pharesians are distinct from the Koresians and Tanasians, having a darker green skin-tone. They are outcasts, dwelling in the wilderness outside Cymril City or wandering among the inhabited stars as merchants or traders. Their ancestors considered psychologically unsuitable for advanced psi training, Pharesians are barred from the psionic academies by Koresians and Tanasians alike.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: When A Legend Dies

Let's re-enter the lost world with another installment of my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"When A Legend Dies"
Warlord #114 (February 1987)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Art by Ron Randall

Synopsis: A peasant is getting hassled by the tax collector of Baron Kraag, when the Warlord shows up. He rallies the peasants then leads them in a charge on the Baron’s castle. His horse picks up a stone in it’s shoe, and the Warlord falls behind. The peasants ride into an ambush and are slaughtered. When the battle’s over, the Warlord collects his fee from the Baron.

Has Morgan turned evil? No, this Warlord activates a device and his disguise falls away. This is Desaad of Apokolips out to sully the legend of the Warlord.

Meanwhile, the real Morgan is trying to figure out what happened to the wizard V’Zarr Hagar-Zinn. He finds a scrap of the wizard’s robe and a piece of parchment. The parchment contains part of an incantation. Morgan and friends step into the waiting magic circle and:

Morgan and friends find themselves hanging from the hand of the wizard over a demon-pit of “weirdling ethers” that will turn their “physical bodies into vapors” to be huffed by demons. Once the demons have done that, they’ll have the power to invade Skartaris.

In the vicinity of Shamballah, Tara discovers the area of extreme aging is indeed expanding. She she’s a dinosaur age, die, and decompose to bones before her eyes. If Morgan doesn't get back with a cure soon, all Shamballah is at risk!

Back in the nether-realm, Morgan pulls an improbable maneuver that involves dropping them all toward the pit, but swinging out at the same time. Somehow, this works and soon their battling demons.

They make their way to some pudgy, winged reptile mounts. The wizard tells them they have to get back to the portal they came through to return to their world.

They fly out toward the portal with the demons right behind them. Morgan wants to stay behind and hold them off while the others get through, but V’Zarr says he should do it instead. Only Morgan’s heroism can save Skartaris from the coming threat. He magicks a ring into Morgan’s finger.

Morgan and the others fall through the portal. The wizard knows he won’t be able to follow them. He converts himself to pure magical energy, sacrificing himself to close the portal.

Meanwhile, Desaad disguised as Morgan is jumped by a Vashek adherent out for revenge. He’s surprised the Vashek is a woman--and he surprises her by laughing at her desire for revenge and suggesting they have an enemy in common.

Things to Notice:
  • This issue is a Legends crossover.
  • It seems a bit odd that Desaad is personally masquerading as the Warlord.
Where it Comes From:
The title of this issue refers to the death of V'Zarr Hagar-Zinn, but also to the hit-job Desaad is doing on Morgan's reputation.

Speaking of Desaad, he's the chief torturer to Darkseid, and a creation of Jack Kirby. He first appeared in Forever People #2 (1971).

Monday, January 21, 2013

Three Years, Three Skulls

I completely forgot that December marked this blog's third anniversary. Where does the time go?

Thanks to everyone who's been a reader and a supporter.  To commemorate the occasion, here are three of my most popular posts over the past year:

Here's an unusual monster in the form of the Night Nurses. Or you might want to revisit my discussion of using famous monsters of filmland in unfamiliar contexts in "Monster Mashup." Finally, you can check out one of my Hell's Hoods series and learn all about Moloch, "The Bull."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Want A Science Fiction Adventure?

Last night I ran my first Starships & Spacemen: Star Trek game. Rather than do a post-play write-up, I thought it would be more interesting and maybe useful for people to turn it into a sort of mini-module. 

So here it is.

It's suitable for any science fiction game, really, but assumes Star Trekian universe.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pirates of Orion

Here’s another Star Trek species for Starships & Spacemen:

Encountered: 2d4 (5d10)
Movement: 120 (40’)
Intelligence: Average
Psionic Potential: 2d4 (inactive)
Hits: 1d8
Armor: -1
Combat Skill: 12
Save: L1
Attacks: 1
Damage: By weapon
Morale: 8
XP: 10
The Orions are an ancient, multi-species society engaged in legitimate trade--but also involved in numerous criminal enterprises including piracy and slave-trading. Their most infamous commodity are the “Orion slave girls” or “Orion animal women,” members of a green-skinned humanoid species exploited by the more advanced members of the Orion congeries.

The dominate Orion species has pale blue to chalk
white skins. They employ disruptor weapons and fly fast, stealthy starships. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: Though Fiends Destroy Me!

Let's re-enter the lost world with another installment of my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"Though Fiends Destroy Me!"
Warlord #113 (January 1987)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Art by Ron Randall

Synopsis: Shakira’s gathering firewood in a gloomy forest. She’s miffed at Morgan’s behavior ever since Mariah showed up. The two have been lovey dovey all the time, and it’s irritating her.

What bugs her even more is a tribe of cylopses that chase her back to camp, screaming for Morgan.

Meanwhile, leagues away, Tara (Morgan’s wife) plays nurse to the elderly Jennifer, reminding us of what the Morgan’s Quest storyline is about anyway: Morgan is looking for a cure for his daughter (by his first marriage) who was magically cursed with aging. What’s worse, the zone of aging has begun expanding from the meadow where Jennifer was found toward the city of Shamballah.

Morgan and friends quickly defeat the cyclops tribe. Then, Morgan and Mariah are quickly back to making out, and Shakira to being disgusted. What would digust Shakira even more if she knew is that Morgan’s new attraction to Mariah is all due to a magic love amulet.

While that’s going on, in a “agless edifice of otherwordly desgin overlooking the Greenfire Sea” a wizard peers into his smoking dish. He’s worried that evil forces from a tenth and previously unknown plane are out to get the one man who can save Skartaris from a coming threat. That man (of course) is the Warlord. The wizard hopes Morgan and his companions arrive soon.

In Kiro, King Machiste is having a conversation with a wizard:

The wizard tells Machiste he cast a spell to transport Mariah to the side of her beloved! Wrong answer.

In our world, Redmond, the CIA agent Morgan evaded in the Yucatan, is still trying to figure out what was going on. He “renditions” Doug Andrews (the hapless tourist Morgan saved from high tech Mayans) to get answers.

Finally (after 14 issues), Morgan and his gang reach the Greenfire Sea.

They don’t have long to bask in that accomplishment, as a flock of gargoyle creatures swoop down on them. Oh, and they’re gargoyle creatures that shoot energy beams out of their eyes! Luckily, our heroes have a protector: The wizard uses his power to block the gargoyle rays.

One of the creatures snatches up Mariah. Morgan throws Shakira his gun, then leaps at the creature with a action hero quip:

They manage to jump to safety as the creature falls into the Greenfire.

Morgan’s safe and the wizard’s relieved--but then a group of beam-shooting garogyles swoop down on him!

When Morgan and the others arrive at the tower, they find no wizard V’Zarr Hagar-Zinn. The place is trashed and there’s fresh blood on the floor--perhaps only an hour old, according to Mariah. Shakira angrily says they could have been here an hour earlier if Morgan and Mariah hadn’t been acting all hormonal.

Their argument is cut short by a peal of villainous laughter.

Things to Notice:
  • For some reason, Fleisher holds off on identifying V'Zarr Hagar-Zinn until the very end.
  • This is the last issue where before the DC Universe invades Skartaris. Next issue is a Legends crossover.
Where it Comes From:
The events of this issue and the last one reset the love triangle between Morgan, Mariah, and Machiste--though this time with Morgan as a love-drugged participant.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Is it just me, or wouldn't the races and some of the setting elements of Talislanta translate well to a space opera milieu? Probably some of that is the exotic skin colors and mostly humanoid forms certainly seem like TV and movie space opera, at least.

So, this is what it could look like: the Galactic Empire of the Archaeans (or maybe, humans) was destroyed in the Great Disaster. A time of darkness followed, but now a New Age of progress is under way. Pockets of civilizations are expanding out into the stars. These new civilizations include:

  • The Alliance of Seven Worlds: A confederation of the planets Astar, Cymril, Durne, Kasmir, Sindar, Taz, and Vardune.
  • The Quan Empire: A territory conquered by a race of warriors, now fallen into indolence. It's subjects include the warrior Kang, the spiritual Mandala, and the technically skilled Vajra.
  • The Instrumentality of Aa: An oppressive, theocratic regimen, at war with an offshoot of their race known as the Zandir.

Then of course, there are the independent races and worlds. Everybody takes shore leave on the pleasure planet of Thaecia. Nagra and Jaka bounty hunters chase criminals all of the galaxy. Then, their are the Imrian slavers, dealing in Batrean slave girls.

Works pretty well, doesn't it?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Little Guys

For Starships & Spacemen, here's another obscure species from Star Trek:

Requirements: None
Ability Adjustments: STR -1
Skill Adjustments: Contact +1
Metabolism: Copper Based

Ithenites are dwarf-like, metallic bronze-skinned humanoids from the planet Orodanga in the 61 Virginis system. They call themselves “Dayen.”  They have been longtime members of the Federation, joining shortly after it’s founding.

The Ithenites are a wide-ranging species, often encountered in small enclaves on the more cosmopolitan worlds. No one knows how long they have been a spacefaring culture--certainly for longer than most prominent Federation species. They have never been involved in any protracted conflicts with other species and have the uncanny ability to avoid offending either side in times of disagreement.

Ithenites are generally considered affable and easy-going, and are widely known for their love of good music, food, and drink--though they seldom over-indulge. Outside of the hospitality and entertainment industries, they are mainly encountered as traders. They're noted to be shrewd dealers, but considered fair and pleasant to haggle with.

Notes: These coppery skinned dwarfs were unnamed delegates at the Babel Conference in TOS episode “Journey to Babel.” An unfilmed scene from the script for the Enterprise episode “Terra Prime” called an ambassador resembling the characters from TOS “Ithenites.” The first mention of Ithenites was in the episode “Azati Prime.” An article for the FASA Trek rpg in Stardate Magazine #11 named this species “Dayen.”

Friday, January 11, 2013

Classic Space Opera

In getting the creative juices flowing for some Star Trek gaming--and also thinking about doing some more Pulp Space posts--I've been reading some old school pulp era Space Opera. While (as anybody who reads this blog regularly knows) I'm a big fan of the pulps, I'm not as versed in science fiction pulp stories.  I figured it was time to remedy that.

I picked up Best of Edmond Hamilton in digital edition. I haven't read any of it yet, but I did snag a story by Hamilton from Project Gutenberg called "The World with a Thousand Moons" from Amazing Stories. That story has a spacecraft full of rich kids at play getting commandeered to rescue a dastardly space pirate and his crew from where they've crashed on an asteroid inhabited by nervous system-controlling parasitic insect-things.

Following the pattern of "writer whose wife I'm a big fan of," I also got the collection of Henry Kuttner stories, Thunder in the Void. I've only read a couple of stories so far, but they've been good ones with all the pulp flavor one could ask for. "Raider of Spaceways" has the son of the President of the Americas (who happens to be slumming it as a farmer on Venus) take on a space pirate and a deadly entity from Venus's eternally dark side. In "Thunder in the Void," a wrongly convicted man is broken out of a prison in Antarctica to take part in a daring raid to steal radium fuel. It's daring because space travel is certain death (thanks to xenophobic entities on Pluto) without the protection of a race of energy beings. When the heist goes wrong, and the Plutonian menace strikes someone close to him, our hero goes on a seemingly suicidal assault against that distance world!

What I've read so far has made me interested in reading more. The stories from both these authors really move--and though they both lack their respect wive's subtler hands with mood and character, Kuttner and Hamilton write stories with cool ideas.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Techno-Matriarchs of Cygnet XIV

Here's another obscure Star Trek species for Starships & Spacemen:

Requirements: INT 9 (female); STR 9 (male)
Ability Adjustments: INT +1 (female)
Skill Adjustments: Technical +1, Contact -1 (female)
Metabolism: Iron Based

Cygnians are a humanoid species from Cygnet XIV, a class M moon orbiting a circumbinary gas giant. Cygnet XIV is a Federation member, notable for its technological acumen and gynocratic society.

Though female Cygnians are outwardly indistinguishable from humans, Cygnian males bear a greater resemblance to Neanderthals and have a much lower intelligence. Males are not allowed to participate in government and are essentially wards of a female family member. They are seldom seen off their homeworld.

Cygnian females are somewhat prejudiced against males of other humanoid species. Other Federation nations have found it expedient to use female representatives when dealing with them. Cygnians females often view males in positions of power as so bizarre or silly, that have been known to play pranks at the males' expense.

Notes: The natives of Cygnet XIV never appeared in any Star Trek show, but were mentioned in the Original Series episode "Tomorrow is Yesterday." The technicians of Cygnet XIV overhauled the Enterprise computer and gave it a stereotypical flirtatious female personality, much to Kirk's irritation.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: The Obsession

Let's re-enter the lost world with another installment of my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"The Obsession"
Warlord #112 (December 1986)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Art by Ron Randall

Synopsis: Machiste has regained the throne of Kiro and has the adulation of its people--all except Mariah. She can’t get Morgan off her mind and begins to hatch a plan to act on those yearnings.

In the inland sea, Morgan and Shakira are making good time in the stolen aqua-sled until they’re attacked by a sea monster. They eject from the sled after its canopy punches a hole in the monster’s head.

Our heroes wash up on shore. They’re only just getting their legs under them, when a group of horsemen attack. Morgan is knocked out and captured, while Shakira is mistaken for an abducted princess.

Mariah visits the swordsmith that made her first Skartarian blade and gets a replacement. On her way home, an old woman approaches her in the marketplace and offers her a love charm. She even says Mariah won’t have to pay for it unless it works for her.

Later, Mariah sneaks out of the bed while Machiste’s sleeping and heads out to find a way to get to Morgan. She visits a wizard:

After haggling, he casts a spell to transport her to Morgan.

Meanwhile, Morgan has been taken in chains back to the horseman’s city. There Shakira is greeted as Princess Orana, who was being held for ransom. Thinking quickly, Shakira tells them Morgan was one of the kidnappers but had a change of heart and helped her. She commands he be freed.

The real kidnappers, a Baron and his cronies, are perplexed as to how the princess could have returned. The Baron needed the princess alive to show him the location of her father’s treasure vaults, but he needed to keep her from her coronation, so he (the next in line of succession) could take the throne. The Baron has to of his lackeys ride out to check on the princess to see if this new arrival is an imposter. 

Morgan sees them go and gets curious, so he follows them. They go to the cave where they've got the princess stashed. She bashes one in the head with a stick, but they overpower her. When Morgan show’s up, the tables are turned. As expected, she looks a lot like Shakira.

As they ride back to the palace, she feels Morgan in on Baron Jergmav’s plan. Shakira’s in danger and is totally unaware. That is until the assassin’s attack. It’s not Princess Orana they’re up against, though:

Shakira runs out of the palace in cat form as Shakira and Orana are coming in. The assassin’s are on her heels. They accuse Morgan of being a warlock and Shakira his familiar. Morgan’s response:

Morgan makes short work of the assassins. The Baron tries taking Orana hostage, but Morgan just shoots him.

With Orana safely crowned, Shakira and Morgan ride out of the city. They haven’t gone far when they encounter a familiar figure on the road: Mariah. She shows Morgan the charm:

Things to Notice:
  • This issue has a Watchmen ad on the cover.
  • In the last few Fleisher issues (and this one) Morgan refers to Shakira as "youngster," which is odd.
Where it Comes From:
The main plot of this issue is inspired by The Prisoner of Zenda.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Meet Team Victory

How about an art post for a Monday? Here's Lester B. Portly's great Chester Gould-esque rendition of the current characters in my online Weird Adventures game.

Expect to see more of Lester's work in this style in the Weird Adventures Companion!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wings of War

Here's another obscure Star Trek species for Starships & Spacemen:

Encountered: 2d4 (5d10)
Movement: 120' (40') (F) 480'(120')
Intelligence: Average
Psionic Potential: 4d4, inactive
Hits: 1d8
Armor: -1
Combat Skill: 12
Save: L1
Attacks: 1
Damage: By weapon or 1d4 (2 claws)
Morale: 10
XP: 10

The Skorr are avian humanoids found in several systems in the constellation Hercules. They are six-limbed beings, possessing a functional pair of wings. Skorr are taller than humans on the average with a more gracile body type. They are even less massive than expected for their physiques due the large number of hollow bones in their skeletal structure.

Though not a Federation member in the mid-23rd Century, the Skorr are a member of civilized galactic society. Two centuries prior, however, they were a warlike and expansionistic. They were capable of interstellar travel and bred rapidly, producing 1 to 3 eggs in a clutch that were rapidly aged in communal incubators.

The Great Teacher Alar brought a new religion and way of life to the Skorr people, and they abandon their warlike ways. Alar's brain patterns were recorded shortly prior to his death in an indurite sculpture known as "The Soul of Skorr." It is their holiest relic. It's theft once lead the Skorr to begin marshalling for holy war against all of galactic civilization. Luckily, the Soul was returned before hostilities broke out.

Notes: The Skorr first appeared in the Star Trek Animated Series episode "The Jihad." The location of their homeworld was never mentioned, but since the Skorr are virtually identical to the Aurelians who Worlds of the Federation says hail from Xi Herculis, it seems reasonable to believe their related and colocal.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Party Dies at the End

John Dies at the End is a "horror comedy" from Don Coscarelli based on the book of the same name. It's supposedly going to get a theatrical release this year, but I decided not to chance it ever playing in this podunk town, so I watched it on Amazon's video on demand.

Spoiler: The title is misleading--but in a way, it reflects the fractured narrative of at least part of the film. The plot can be summarized pretty easily: Two slackers wind up taking a strange drug ("soy sauce") they got from a fake Jamaican that expands their consciousness and allows them to perceive and combat extradimensional, supernatural horrors, lurking in our world. The film is part trippy drug narrative, part body horror, and part black comedy like if Evil Dead 2 was a bit more like Clerks.

It's also great rpg fodder. I think you could easily get a game of Unknown Armies out of it, or maybe an unusual game of Call of Cthulhu. It's got a premise and setting in the Lovecraftian mode (or maybe Clark Ashton Smithian) with totally unlovecraftian heroes and tone.

It would also be interesting to run a modern D&Dish game like this: A weird drug opens the doors to Narnia (or Moria) located right here but hidden by virtue being on a different vibrational frequency. Maybe under the influence of the drug, slacker twenty-somethings brave the maze co-occurring with the steam tunnels beneath their university and do battle with very deadly monsters--and try not to freak out in the process?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Send in the Clones

For Starships & Spacemen, here's an obscure species from the background of Star Trek: The Motion Picture:

Requirements: CON 12
Ability Adjustments: CON +2, STR+1, CHA -1
Skill Adjustments: Combat +1, Contact -1, Technical -1
Metabolism: Iron Based

Arcturians are a Federation member species from a densely populated world in the Alpha Boötis system. They’re a militaristic people, valuing unity and discipline above individuality. Beyond military service in the Federation, Arcturian mercenaries serve throughout the galaxy.

Arcturians have reddish gray or purplish gray skin that droops in distinct wrinkles and folds, and deep set eyes. They have two sexes (though they’re often difficult for other species to tell apart), but Arcturians have given up sexual reproduction. Instead, all Arcturians are clones of a select few genetic lines.

Despite their military nature, Arcturians don’t revel in combat. Many display a degree of emotional restraint reminiscent of Vulcans, and they're often stereotyped as a dour people.

It’s unlikely the Arcturians' homeworld is the product of natural evolution: Their star is too metal poor. Federation scientists speculate that it was engineered by some super-advanced civilization in the distant past. Given their clone nature, some have speculated that the Arcturians themselves were engineered by this same race.

For more Trek conversions, check out our S&S Star Trek rpg group on G+.

Note: Arcturians just appeared in the background of ST:TMP and have never been featured prominently. They don't even show up in any of the Trek rpgs. What little information has been published about them comes from the costume designers for the film. See Memory Alpha.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: Terror of the Inland Sea

Let's re-enter the lost world with another installment of my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"Terror of the Inland Sea"
Warlord #111 (November 1986)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Pencils by Ron Randall

Synopsis: Morgan and Shakira are flying above an inland sea with the flight belts stolen from Skyra III. They’re still on their quest to find the wizard that can save Jennifer.

Suddenly, their belts begin to fail. They plummet into the water below. Beneath the surface, danger is lurking:

Morgan fights the fishmen as long as he can, but unable to breath, he loses consciousness.

Meanwhile, Mariah and Machiste are fighting for their lives in a sewage drain against the forces of the usurper of Kiro. But there are other tensions, too:

Morgan wakes out among other humans in the undersea city of Arscana, founded by Atlantean dissidents and runaway slaves.It was pulse emissions of their energy dome that disrupted the flight belts, apparently. The Arscanans had managed to save Morgan, but Shakira is in the hands of their enemies, the Balskraks.

Morgan wants to go after her, but the Arscanans don’t want to let him. Given that he was using a flight belt of their former masters, they don’t really trust him. Morgan has to fight his way past them. He commandeers one of their undersea sleds and flees the city.

Meanwhile, Shakira has been given a breathing device by the Balskraks. Sure enough, they plan to sacrifice her to monstrous Kraarg--but Shakira’s just not into it:

She escapes the guards, but winds up in the throne room of their ruler!

One good thing comes of that: King Raznor thinks she’s too pretty to give to Kraarg. Unfortunately, he plans to have his surgeon’s turn her into a water-breather and keep her forever.

Morgan arrives but he’s captured, too. As predicted, the balskraks do with him what barbaric cultures always seem to do in Skartaris: They force him to fight a monster in an arena--Kraarg!

Morgan manages to cut off one of Kraarg’s eyestalks then kill him, but loses his weapon. The balskraks plan to mob Morgan in revenge, but Shakira escapes and brings Morgan a new trident. They battle their way back to the sled, barring a gate with the trident to deter their pursuers, and make their escape.

Meanwhile, Marriah and Machiste are captured and brought to N’Dosma. It turns out its a ruse though, and the real Machiste is disguised as one of the guards. He beats N’Dosma, then dispenses with the usurper--by throwing him out a window!

Things to Notice:
  • The Arscanans don't really serve a purpose in the story beyond providing exposition--and they dress in pretty bad 1980s style.
  • Shakira spends a fair amount of time lampshading the origins of the Balshrak and their ability to speak an intelligible language.
Where it Comes From:
Kraarg is  fanciful sea monster, but he resembles the anomalocaridids a bit.