Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Over the Garden Wall

Over the Garden Wall #1 & 2 (2015), Written by Patrick McHale; Art by Jim Campbell.

Boom! Studios is in the midst of a four issue limited series expanding on the 2014 Cartoon Network mini-series (whose virtues I've extolled before), Over the Garden Wall. The series presents additional adventures of Wirt and Gregory in their wandering through the fairy-tale like Unknown as they attempt to find a way back home. It manages to well-capture the series' feel--not surprising since the writer is the show's creator.

Issue #1 is set between episodes 3 and 4 of the mini-series. Wirt, Gregory, and the bluejay Beatrice are trying to get to the house of Adelaide of the Pasture. They wind up attending a tea party and performing odd chores (which Wirt can never get right). It all ends in tears--a house's tears, in fact--and the trio moves on.

Issue #2 takes place between Episodes 4 and 5 and features the backstory of Fred the horse who joined our protagonists when they left the tavern at the end of Episode 4. It features the foibles of over-honesty, and a strange encounter with a perhaps-ghostly Highwayman (the same one who sang the song in Episode 4) in a covered bridge at night.

Two more issues are to come.

Monday, September 28, 2015

New SWN Backgrounds for Strange Stars

Work continues on the Stars Without Number/Old School Sci-Fi Game of your choice compatible version of Strange Stars (release date update, when I have good data to give you!) and heres an outtake: new character backgrounds.

Despite the ubiquity of nonsophont minds, there are still plenty of sophont middle managers, datapushers, administrators, and salarymen, in the ranks of government and corporations. Some of them get tired of jockeying a desk for substandard pay and give it up for something more exciting.
Skills: Bureaucracy, Culture/World, either Culture/Corporate or Profession/Legal, Steward

Small time entrepreneurs and up and coming junior executives exist on every civilized world. Sometimes they chafe against bureaucracy or make some bad decisions and decide to look for better markets.
Skills: Business, Culture/Any, Persuade, Steward

Data Prospector
There's a lot of valuable information buried in the depths of a planetary or system noospheres. Data prospectors mine the infospace for value. Sometimes they find things that make them decide to have a look at what's beyond their world for themselves.
Skills: Computer, Culture/Any, Perception, either Bureaucracy or Tech/Any

On every world, in every time, sophonts have wanted to be entertained. Many musicians, thespians, or courtesans, decide to become itinerants, seeing the galaxy as they make their living.
Skills: Art/Any Performing Art, Culture/Artist Subculture, Persuade, one other skill

Everyone uses computers without even thinking about it, but hackers know the very soul of the networks. Some of them are criminals, some of them work to stop criminals. Either way, it can be easy to get on the wrong side of the wrong people and find it expedient to get out of the local jurisdiction.
Skills: Computer, either Bureaucracy, Culture/Corporate or Culture/Criminal, Persuade, Tech/Any but Astronautic, Maltech, or Medical

News is everywhere and journalists are there to sift through the data and bring connection and context to their audience. Some get the idea to go gonzo and get in the stories themselves, while some others make enemies in places of power. Both sorts can be encountered among the Strange Stars.
Skills: Culture/Any, Perception, Persuade, and one other skill.

Law Enforcement
Beat cop, port authority security contractor, or corporate investigator, the law enforcer does a tough job, often for little reward. Is it any wonder some of them look for a way to put their skills to more lucrative use?
Skills: Combat/Any, Culture/World, Perception, Security

Most actual medicine is before by expert systems and bots, but sophont beings usually like a friendly, sophont face on their healthcare. The medtech provides that. Occasionally, though they have an itch to really put their skills to use in situations where they can't rely on bots to do the real work.
Skills: Profession/Medical, Culture/World, Science, Tech/Medical

In an age of nanopsychotherapy to deal with serious mental illness, the "sophont touch" is still prized--particularly by the wealthy. An understanding of sophont psychology is a skill that has a lot of uses, though.
Skills: Culture/World,  Persuade, Profession/Mental Health, either Perception or Tech/Medical

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Goblinic Slime

In the Land of Azurth, Goblins don't reproduce in the manner of humankind or humanish creatures, but instead they arise from pools of a viscious, green fluid, faintly luminescent in darkness. This fluid, which wells up from the depths beneath Subazurth, is called goblinic slime--or sometimes "goblin snot" in the vulgate of the Underfolk.

How many goblins and how fast they arise depends on available sources of energy and the volume of slime. Even a pool only a few inches dead and a couple of feet across, and in a cool, dark place can produce at least a few goblin larva. Deeper or larger pools, warmed by heat from the depths, can produce hundreds, even thousands. In ideal conditions, goblins wallow in their pools until virtually adult size, but where resources are scarce, they may crawl worth as tiny goblings only inches tall (1 HP) and are certainly a menace to others when their are a foot to two feet tall (2d4 HP).

Goblins are born sexless, but at apparent maturity (in terms of size), a slight majority develop male or female sexual characteristics, seemingly at random. While some goblins (regardless of sex) enthusiastically engage in sexual activity, reproduction never results.

There are rumors of remote places in Subazurth where slime pools are associated with strange machinery--hissing valves, wheezing pumps, gurgling pipes, and the like--attended by other goblins in great numbers. These are places the prudent avoid.

 Learned texts disagree on whether goblin slime is edible, if unappetizing [a Constitution save DC 15 is necessary to avoid vomiting] or toxic to the unwise ingester by means of internal goblinization. If the former sources are to be believed, slime causes a rumbling in the bowels and strange dreams, but also may confer the ability to understand the native goblinic tongue (40% chance) for 1d10 days. If the more pessimistic sources are take for true, at a failed DC 13 Constitution save, goblins will propagate inside the individual within 1d10 days leading to 2d4 points damage a day and a DC 11 Constitution save to avoid death as they try to emerge.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Giants of Azurth

The Giants of Azurth are a varied lot, not strictly fitting into Gygaxian categories. The giants in the country of Yanth are typically primitive and almost certainly not very bright, though they are not necessarily evil (though they're likely to be). This:

And this:

Would reflect your typical Yanth giant. There is some evidence that was not always the case and that in some remote time (maybe before Azurth became Azurth) there were floating cities of blue-skinned, giantish folk, who enjoyed a life of science fictional splendor as only mid-century America could correctly imagine. They looked something like this:

They all disappeared and their cloud cities are mostly abandoned, except perhaps for a few degenerate examples.

Beyond Yanth, in the countries of Sang and Virid, giants are often less human looking and more uniformly hostile--though still not exclusively. This would be a giant you might find in those lands:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

What I Want Out of It

There was some discussion this week (instigated by this guy and this guy) about what the OSR was and what different playstyles were in an out with what crowd. It got me to thinking what I like in a game and what I like to have in games I run.

As a player--or more accurately, as a potential player--my tastes are pretty broad in fantasy. I can see the appeal of bleak "no one here gets out alive" horror fantasy but also absurdist/gonzo stuff and a lot in between.  I think in what I tend to enjoy most in play might be a bit more specific. I have something of a preference where the characters are roguish to one degree or another: Cabellian wags, Vancian scoundrels, Taratino-esque hoodlums--it's all good. Not that I am averse to more noble protagonists, but this is more the default. I'n fine with hearts of gold, beneath the tarnished exterior.

I like a rich world with clever bits in it. It does not have to be super-detailed or require deep knowledge like a Glorantha or a Tekumel. It doesn't have to be coherent or particularly realistic. It just needs to show some imagination and inpsire me to use my imagination within it.

I prefer city adventures or relatively brief explorations/excursions to long dungeoncrawls or gritty hexcrawls. This may be my most heretical opinion, but there it is. I'm not saying I don't like them at all--there are just other things I prefer.

I also like to roleplay a bit, and I like for the roleplaying moments to matter rather than outcomes being strictly decided by rolls. I want to hear my DM do some funny voices. I don't want to roleplay every single interaction, though. Some things can be narrated or elided.

I GM the sort of game I like as a player, though it may be that I like to run adventures for somewhat more heroic parties than I typically play in. I'll have to think more about that and see if that's actually the case.

My NPCs tend to run to comedy relief and I do funny voices (not always well). Whatever else is going on, this tends to lighten the mood so even what I initially conceive as horror doesn't come out quite as horrific at the table.

I tend to be fairly low mortality and unashamed. I'm not opposed to a character dying if they seem to have a deathwish and persist in an unwise course of action, but I never set out to kill them in my approach or in my design. Player's suffer complications and setbacks a plenty, not often mortal ones.

So that's me. How about you?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Unusual Denizens of the Land of Azurth

Only perhaps a little more unusual than many of Azurth's regular inhabitants, but still.

Art by Sveta Dorsheva
His Excellency the Ambassador from the Land Under the Sea (possibly the frox homeland) and his Kaleidotop hat, capable forming a tunnel to transporting him to his homeland and almost anywhere else.

One of the "daughters" (perhaps automata creations) of Father Time. She and her sisters hop comets to ride them to Earth. They can bend the flow of time in limited ways to suite their whims, but not so much their father notices.

Art by Edouard Guiton
An officer in the ranks of the windup soldiers invented by Mirabilis Lum to form his army. Few of these soldiers remain, and fewer still are in working order. They are highly sought by wealthy collectors of military memorabilia and more than a few would-be conquers hoping to build an army of their own based on Lum's genius designs.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Strange Stars Art Inspiration: Not All Retro

I wrote a post a few weeks ago for the Hydra Co-op Blog about the aesthetics of the Strange Stars. It led some one to ask if there were any more recent design stuff (post-80s) that influenced the look of the Strange Stars. There certainly are. Here are just a few:

Tron Legacy represents what I call the sort of  "iPod futurism" (clean lines, curves, white, chrome, etc.) that takes older ideas of futurism and gives them a consumerist sheen. This look definitely influences the Phantasists, but also creeps in elsewhere.

Art by Giorgio Baroni
Modern concept art design ideas for mecha, robots, and exoskeletons definitely play a part, though I didn't really dwell on gear in the setting book. Droid designs from the Clone Wars animated series figure in there, too.

Clothing isn't all retro, either. I particularly like modern takes space opera classics and the continued advances in the "lived-in future" aesthetic of Star Wars and Alien--particular in its more global/multi-cultural version. Travis Charest, Simon Roy in the comic Prophet. and films like Pitch Black, The Fifth Element. and Dredd do this in different ways.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Azurthite Bestiary: Cosmic Cat

Art by Joel Priddy
It is fearfully discussed by nervous rats in conclaves beneath the cities of Man, casually rumored by upended bats hanging from branches in moonlight, and philosophically considered by telepathic xvats scuttling slowly through frigid, Plutonian twilight, that there are ultraerrene creatures not unlike cats, that visit Earth from some higher sphere. These Cosmic Cats may leap from a passing comet or arrive curled and napping upon a falling star.

To call a Cosmic Cat a cat is to rely on the most superficial of resemblances. It has the general shape of a common cat (if one ignores the fleshy antennae) to be sure, but it is about size of a lynx, and its tail tapers to a point in an almost reptilian fashion. It has no fur, and its silken hide is awash with changing patterns of color like some varieties of cuttlefish.

What Cosmic Cats do on Earth is their own affair, and rarely does it seem to others that they have any goal whatsoever--but here one would do well not to jump to conclusions. The cats demonstrate (or at least they claim to possess) a cosmic awareness that renders all time and distance transparent. Certainly, they seem to have great insight--any Cosmic Cat you meet will tell you as much--but when they share that insight with others, they inevitably do so highly cryptic manner.

small aberration, chaotic neutral (good)
AC 13 (natural armor)
Hit Points: 85
Speed: 40 ft.
STR 14(+2) DEX 15(+2) CON 16(+3) INT 19(+4) WIS 16(+3) CHA 16(+3)
Skills  Insight +8
Damage Immunities bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Senses Truesight 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages telepathy 120 ft.

Limited Magic Immunity. A cosmic cat is immune to spells of 6th level or lower unless it wishes to be affected. It has advantage on saving throws against all other spells and magical effects.
Innate Spellcasting (Psionics). The cosmic cat's spellcasting ability is intelligence (spell save DC 15). It can innately cast the following spells with no components:

At will: blinkdetect magic, detect thoughts
3/day: confusionhypnotic pattern, levitate, identify
1/ day: plane shift (self only)

Bite. Melee weapon attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4+2) piercing damage.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Geographic Highlights of Yanth

Computer issues stymied me in getting a new Land of Azurth monster post ready for you guys today, so instead let's revisit Gus's map of the Country of Yanth above and I'll elucidate a few locales:

Aldwode. A dense and ancient forest inhabited by wild Wood Elf tribes and dotted with the fey, hidden demesnes of the High Elf folk.

Apiaria. The Hive City of the Bee Folk and the center of the domain of their Queen, who is always named Melitta. Relations between the Bee Folk and the humans of Yanth have been pleasant but rather formal for some time. Wealthy Yanthians benefit from trade in the Bee Folk royal jelly from which an anti-aging tonic is made.

Enchanted Wood. A virgin forest  renowned for its plant and animal life, all of which are capable of speech. (Though admittedly, most remain silent as they have little to say.) This eldritch peculiarity owes to the waters of the Babbling Brook that runs through the forest and enhances the linguistic capabilities of all who drink from it. For adult animals, this effect is temporary, but creatures raised on it retain these characteristics perhaps indefinitely. The brook itself (as the name suggests) is vocal, and even at its susurrating volume, it can at times impair the concentration of spellcasters and unnerve those around it for long periods. The Spouting Spring that is its source is even worse. Its ceaseless chorus of nonsensical orations are taken as oracular glossolalia by some and tormenting, demonic cacophony by others.

Horologopolis. A subkingdom where many aspects of the lives of its citizenry are predetermined at birth by extensive application of the astrological and numerologic sciences. Horoscopes are prepared and zealously amended and consulted throughout a citizen’s lifetime by the great tabulating engines controlled by the Master Time Keeper, a giant, many-armed construct with a head like a clock face. Those who stray from their appointed role or seek to alter their fate in significant ways are corrected by his agents, the more humanoid, but likewise clockfaced, Watchmen.

Mount Geegaw. A mountain near or in the Dragon Spines. It is also known as the Prismatic Peak, as the upper perhaps two thirds of the mountain are an oblique triangular prism made of transparent crystal. The origins of Mount Geegaw are lost, but few serious scholars believe it to be an entirely natural formation. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Things You Might Have Missed

Two great sci-fi comic collections have come out this year that might have come in under the radar. That would be a shame, as they're both from accomplished writer/artists and both well worth checking out:

Star Slammers: The Complete Collection is a work by Walt Simonson, conceived and began before his time at Marvel and DC, but first officially published by Marvel, then later continued under Malibu's Bravura imprint and Dark Horse. This tale of interplanetary mercenaries has the feel of something that might have come out of 2000AD or maybe Heavy Metal but with a style that is all Simonson, even as it was developing.

The 6 Voyages of Lone Sloane was originally presented in Heavy Metal (or Metal Hurlant) and begins the weird and baroque science fantasy saga of Lone Sloane a man given strange powers after encountering a Lovecraftian cosmic entity and throwm into another dimension. He becomes a freebooter and Han Solo-esque rogue involved in various space opera struggles. Philippe Druillet (like Simonson) has his own distinct style. If there was something called Cosmic Acid Space Opera, this would be it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Weird Adventures Review

It's been a long time since we had one of these, but Corey Ryan Walden has done a review of Weird Adventures on his blog. Check out his other reviews, as well!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tussle with the Tornado Tyrant!

Art by Richard Svensson
When we last left off in our 5e Land of Azurth game, the party had just triumphed over a group of hairy humanoids in the dungeon of a castle in the clouds. They are still stuck on a cloud island with no means off, and the magic stone they worked so hard to get in still in the hands of a evil giant wizard. Party roll call: Cully (the bard), Dagmar (the cleric), Erkose (the fighter), Kairon (the sorcerer), and Shae (the ranger).

One of the goons managed to summon the jailer: a two-headed, musclehead troll with the bombastic demeanor of a pro-wrestler. Unaware of the troll's regeneration  power, the group lucks up when and Kairon uses a flame attack. The bardic dissonant whispers sends the troll off to get a workout in.

King Cumulo (freed by the party last session) is marshaling his troops for an assault on the castle, hoping to drive Zykloon and his henchmen from it. He gives the party some healing pills and his people show them how to command the giant flying ship. Cumulo offers the party a roll in the glorious battle to come. They enquire about treasure; he tells them the biggest hall is guarded by a multiheaded Skydra in the lowest level of the dungeon, but that Zykloon is probably keeping the stone he stole from the party in his tower:

Though Cumulo also mentions Queen Desira of Virid's glass pegasus, Zephyr, is in the giant's terrarium--and she'll likely pay a reward--the party focuses on the Whim-Wham stone. When the Cloud Folk head off for the attack, the party heads over to the top of the tower in the flying ship.

They decide stealth is prudent. Kairon turns Shae and the flogling thief they rescued, Woggins, invisible and they sneak into the tower from the observation deck. Seeing a number of strange things, they soon find Zykloon's bed chamber--where he's still sleeping!

Something awakens the giant, but he doesn't see his tower's invisible infiltrators. After talking with his minions with some technological device, he leaves to join the battle. The party searches his quarters and finds and invisible object under his bed that radiates magic and a large chest in his closet that has magic objects inside it.

The party moves their loot to the ship and takes off for home, figuring they can deal with investigating the haul when they're out of harm's way.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Own Over the Garden Wall

The great  Cartoon Network mini-series by Patrick McHale (previoualy of Adventure Time!) is now available on DVD (no blu-ray, unfortunately). I wrote about it when it aired, but I'll give a pull-quote from that post here:

"It's part Grimms' fairy tales, part Wizard of Oz (and maybe a bit Sandberg's Rootabaga Stories), imbued with great deal of folksiness. Where Adventure Time has rap and chiptunes, OtGW has parlor music and ragtime. Where Adventure Time has non sequiturs and weirdness, Over the Garden Wall has whimsy (not that it isn't weird at times)."

Check it out.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Stone Sages

by David Lewis Johnson

In the Country of Yanth in the Land of Azurth there is a circle of eight monolithic stone heads in which reside the intellects of great sages of  pasts eras. No one knows who constructed the stones or how the particular sages were chosen. These are questions the members of the circle are unable or unwilling to answer. The names of the sages and their scholarly specialties are:

Whindbog the Historian
Blathrur the Astronomer
Pomphus the Philologist
Laangvynd the Geographer
Eggedd the Scientist
Baombast the Physician
Drohninon the Mathematician
Nowhitaul the Theologian

These learned minds may be consulted by touching their respective stone, allowing telepathic communication as long as the contact is maintained. They will answer questions put to them, though they tend to do so with a degree of irritation and condescension.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Star Trek

Yesterday was the 49th anniversary of Star Trek the Original Series, so today seemed like a good time to revisit one of my favorite Star trek comics: Who's Who in the Star Trek. The two issue limited series was released by DC Comics in 1987 at the time when they held the license for Star Trek comics. Done in a format similar to there Who's Who series in general, it contained entries on characters that had appeared in their comics and characters from the TV show and movies.

In an era before I owned all the episodes on blu-ray (or DVD or VHS) it was a window into parts of the ST universe syndication had yet to show me. Plus, it had famous comic artists doing Star Trek characters. Check out the cover above by Howard Chaykin. Or these Orions by Todd McFarlane:

How about Talosians by Bill Wray?

There's also stuff by Walt Simonson, Gray Morrow, John Byrne, and Ron Frenz there, among others. It's well-worth tracking down a copy.

Monday, September 7, 2015

My Labors

Happy Labor Day everybody.

 After the InDesign chewed up the last round of major edits, Lester was forced to reconstruct them, causing some delays, but John Till's Strange Stars Fate is back on track with just some record sheets and a last bit of clean up to go.

Here's another sample page, featuring art by David Lewis Johnson:

Speaking of Dave, he's done a great job on a painted cover illustration for another project I'm working on: an adventure set in the Land of Azurth:

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Masters of War

Mars is an old world; the gardens of its youth are now deserts. Its once great seas have desiccated to brackish morass. The Martians are an equally old culture. Their technology is in advance of any others in the Cosmos, save the angels and spirits. They care nothing for the pursuits of art or love that move and vex younger races. The Martian spirit and their entire society is bent toward the only thing they deem of value: the perfection of the arts of war.

The inhospitable nature of the Martian surface is made worse by the eternal war among the Martian factions. Thick, war-miasmas creep across the surface, stirred by something other than the thin Martian wind. Living war machines and vat-born monstrosities roam the wasters To avoid these horrors, Martian live in domed complexes with bunkers running deep underground. Few genuine Martians are left (though they are all but immortal, many die in war, and infertility is high among them), but all that are raised in common, in military-style barracks in a manner similar to ancient Sparta.

Martian war efforts are directed by the War Minds, electric brains built from the synthesis of the most brilliant Martians who have passed before. The direct Martian society in the most efficient way they can calculate. The Martians themselves form the officer corps of their armies. The common soldiers and servants come from the ranks of the vat-grown, near humans made from Martian science.

On the peak of Olympus Mons, the highest mountain in the known Cosmos, dwells the Oyarses spirit of Mars, Phaleg. Phaleg is said to be a war mind to dwarf the combined intellects of all the other Martian brains together. He sends giant, copper-color automaton, dressed in the manner of the hoplites of the ancient Greeks as observers to all the great Martian battles. His palace is said to be a Valhalla where replica soliders replay battles from across all of time.

Friday, September 4, 2015

A Most Thoroughly Pernicious Pamphlet

Mateo Diaz Torres has released his hopefully first compilation of material related to his old school D&D campaign, Pernicious Albion: A Thoroughly Pernicious Pamphlet. Don't let the title fool you. The setting may be pernicious, but the pamphlet is like a rejuvenating tonic.

The setting itself is one of the most interesting ones to come out of the blogosphere in the past few years. In brief, it's author describes it as: "Austenian body horror fairy tale role-playing." To much of a tease? Well, perhaps this more expansive quote will elucidate: "It’s all insane angel conspiracies, occult aristocracy, revenant Romans, tennis with vampires, evil couture, Ars Goetia, royal spawning pits, realpolitik, light homoeroticism, and lakes of human teeth." Having had the pleasure of playing in Mat's game, I can personally attest to the vampires and tennis--and a lot of sort of "comedy of manners" interactions with frightening entities of great power, punctuated with discrete episodes of killing things and/or taking their stuff.

So the pamphlet: It's an introduction--just a taste to leave you wanting more, but in 17 pages it manages to convey a lot of the flavor of the setting. It's got two new old schoolish classes: the vampire and the warlock (a nice streamlining and refining of the 5e warlock), and has setting-based modifications of the cleric and magic-user. Three supernatural entities are detailed (patrons for warlocks or whoever) with there own goals and granted abilities. Then, there's armor, coinage, and languages: the mundanities or worldbuilding rendered interesting and evocative here.

As that description suggests, it's really a nice player's manual for the setting, which I suspect means the more expansive "GM's book" is to follow.

A Thoroughly Pernicious Pamphlet is available in pdf and hardcopy. Check out the ordering details here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Different Takes on Clerics

While on my vacation I did have a could of ideas of different ways to approach clerics. Nothing that would change there mechanics really, but changes to their "fiction" within D&D-like implied settings.

A God for Every Cleric
D&D talks a lot about clerics acquiring followers and whatnot, but only level titles hint at them being in a hierarchy from the outset. Maybe that's because every one of them adds a new god/Avatar/Saint/interpretation? They're struggles are the beginning of something at least partially new. Each cleric is the founder of a new cult, if not a whole new religion, and their deeds are its founding legends.

Saints & Madmen
Maybe clerics aren't priests with orders and heirarchies at all? Maybe they're crazy hermits and empowered saints? I've thought along these lines before, but there clerics were evangelists of a new apocalyptic cult. This way, they have always existed, but they're holy and special. Not all priests have spells.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wednesday Comics:The Coming of the Slayer

"The Coming of the Slayer"
Weirdworld #3 (October 2015), Written by Jason Aaron; Art by Michael Del Mondo

Synopsis: Arkon and Warbow manage to fight their way free of the magma men that had them surrounded last issue. They drop into a conveniently waiting boat in the lava below. They make good their escape, but not before Warbow yells their names defiantly to the magma men.

Once they are in a place of safety, Arkon is eager to take his leave of the obviously somewhat mad Warbow. He asks for the map he was promised before he goes:

While just has crazy, the map doesn't at all resemble what Arkon had on his map. Warbow explains the land is called Weirdworld for a reason--it's everchanging.

Meanwhile, the magma men report to Morgan Le Fay the two heroes escape--and their names. She decides to send an assassin after Arkon, a man named Skull the Slayer. Skull is busy slaying elves when he gets the message.

He and Arkon meet up at a tavern. After an exchange of vague grimness, the fight commences. The Slayer seems to have the better of him, until Arkon causes them both to plummet from the mountain into a jungle below.

Another obscure Marvel character makes his appearance: James "Skull" Scully.