image from Frobidden Planet

image from Frobidden Planet
Graves of Altair IV

Monday, March 26, 2018

Nagrul Rising (mostly blather about Epic illustrated)

This is not directly a gaming post by any means save in the vaguest of senses so if me blathering on about my influences and comics from 35 years ago aren’t your thing then feel free to happily skip this one.  More interesting stuff will come.

One of the bigger inspirations for the galaxy crawl was an old marvel magazine called Epic Illustrated.  Very much like the Heavy Metal of its day (itself, initially just an Americanized version of Metal Hurlant where most of HM’s early strips first appeared) - but while Heavy Metal was still (at that time) very much hooked into the Euro comics scene (where a bunch of other influences come into play - Moebius, Drullet, etc. multiple cetera) Epic was all about promoting American (mostly) artists and writers….while also giving some marvel folk the place to do let’s just say untraditional material.  Lots of the stuff in there (especially the Ostrander) is VERY appendix N in flavour, style, and direct influence IMO.
There was an adaptation of Almuric in the early issues that was I think my exposure to non-Conan, Howard fiction. It was favorable. Also Sword & Planet. There was a LOT of Sword & Planet in Epic, though not nearly as much as in HM. A good balance of post-apocalyptic stuff too (It was the 80s after all).  Like, Cobalt-60, which was, however indirectly, was my first exposure (it was by his kid I think) to Vaughn Bode, which led me to Crumb and all that later on when I was a bit taller. (But only a bit, I was a curious kid.)
Other notable and memorable bits I recall were P. Craig Russel’s Dreaming City (but that had already appeared in Star Reach I think) and Wendy Pini did a weird little tie in to their Elfquest comic in one issue.  (Like I said the magazine was random. Not that there was a dearth of magazine sized comics in the early 1980s.  Fewer if you take out Mad and Cracked and that lot.)  There was some Corben I think, though not nearly as much
as in HM; probably because of the nudity. 
Eventually Epic was (briefly) successful enough - well “successful” in that the magazine itself ended but the imprint, sort of a proto-Vertigo lingered on for many years, giving us Dreadstar (more Ostrander), the Alien Legion (a HUGE influence on the thing), and a few others besides. I loved that imprint.  (And it was all over the place too. Swords of the Swashbucklers (sort of adolescent girl escape story meets Crawljammer style space pirates – it was a lot of fun), Stray Toasters (by Sienkiewicz) and Groo were all put out at the same time as the rest of this stuff.
Anyway, I’m getting off topic.
 Nagrul (below) originally appeared in Heavy Metal back in the 70s but I didn’t know that when I first saw it in a later issue of Epic Illustrated (in the 20s I think) - I read this right when I was sinking my teeth in Moorcock’s other characters besides Elric, and the whole idea of cyclic time and cycles of doom really appealed to me - and still does, from a story standpoint.)   But also the way the panels mate the classical with the cosmic. Like Kirby’s Thor and New Gods, it nailed the idea in my imagination that myth cycles taken onto a cosmic scale are, well, very appropriately….mythic. Especially to a jaded audience from today that has no trouble comprehending the idea that symbols evolve, but the meanings remain.

Wow that got deep.  To the point then, Nagrul Rising.  A direct inspiration in
some ways to the sort of galaxy crawl meta setting that’s emerging, though a strong tonal one as well. But mostly, just a cool seven page epic from Epic.  

This was from Epic Illustrated so yes there’s sex & violence.  It’s a myth after all.
Dude totally looks like Nicol Williamson from Excalibur.




Back when I ran a crapton of Werewolf the Apocalypse in the late 90s this spread always came to mind with regard to the Apocalypse. Still does. 


Loving the Four Nazgul of the Apocalpse thing gong on here. 

At some point, I need to sit down and scribble out why Bill Mantlo is one of the greats of
comics and def. one of those lucky few who warped my tiny little mind growing up.
We all have our inspirational and creative debts; the muse dictates that we pay it forward.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Voyages in the Sub ether

The Sub ether
Sub-etheric voyage complications sub table

1
Without so much as a wink of translocation energy, a Ferryman now stands on the bridge waiting its toll.
2
Dance Along the Edge - possibly your navigator is pushing her limits, or the Ship’s God is especially heady with worship but the combined limits of ship, etheric protections, and power have been reached if not exceeded.   Likely will arrive at destination d5 days sooner than projected, even if this is impossible.  Also psychic spillover affects all unshielded passengers and non-crew life forms :  sleep, arousal, hunger, communal clustering, communal grazing, communal grooming
3
Energy curve - vessel momentarily passes alongside an etheric region of great energy bending; (1-3 amplification, 4-6 drain)
In amplification,
 Apply effect 2. Above, stage all energy effects upward *four* stages on the dice chain, and all batteries become charged, lights grow brighter, etc.   Those with recent injuries will heal four times faster;  
In Drain,
Again apply 2. Above but all affected parties become sluggish and sleep.  Those with hibernation tendencies will fall into such a state.  All light and sound are dimmed for the duration of the voyage.  Thought passes slower.  Dreams do not seem to occur.   All energy effects are reduced 4 steps on the dice chain.   Those who are injured will heal four times slower than normal and magical / technological healing is affected by the energy curve as above.  Thank your Navigator or Ship’s God right now.
4
Grazing the Toum-Var  - Ship’s energy screens or the like graze the outer edge of the bleed;  1d7+12 dimensional analogs spawn near or replace local versions immediately.
5
The first Sub-ether...follows you home.  Voyage occurs without incident;
At arrival however, those on ship are (and remain) entangled with supernal phenomenon taking the form of a constant monotonous chanting. It is apparently in their own accent but no known language.  IT loops every 3.14 minutes and remains persistent for 3d20 hours...unless another etheric voyage is undertaken in that time after which it does not further persist. .
6
Visions.  1D5 aboard ships simultaneously experience a vision; Any with Seer abilities may share it to others.
Vision Thing table (D8)
1)    Ship’s destruction
2)   Something occurring at destination
3)   A quest object
4)   A danger in the nearby or oncoming sub-ether
5)   A premonition of warning or disaster from long dead civilization
6)  The death of billions on a world as it is destroyed, thousands of lights away.
7)   The Death Sun gazes into you
8)   Endless dead bleeding bodies or other terrible scene- Pick from Plague, Revolution, Racial Purity, Law, Chaos, or Undead Fun.


And faster than you can say Event Horizon....

Little known sub dimensional pathways through the aether
1
The soul roads - patrolled and protected by the armies of the Hell gods, ensuring the traffic of souls to the Pit. For a toll or other agreed upon stand-in, they may give ships and voyagers access to the deeper planes via such a road.   Be wary.
2
The Red Lodge - the vessel overlaps, however briefly in transit, with a hallucinatory conceptual space defined by desire, hunger, life, passion, and violence.   The crew is randomly distributed across this hallucinatory mindscape until they can find a way to break free.  Good luck. Also, cancel your plans for the evening, this is a misjump.
3
The City of Dreams - impossibly tall, thin glass towers throbbing with red and yellow glow are everywhere packed in too tightly together.  Immediately your vessel is surrounded by little beings with tremendously deep eyes.  “You aren’t supposed to be here.”  All goes black.  Consciousness regained 1d12+5 hours later…..somewhere along the ship’s intended path of travel. Maybe.
4
The Metropolis – Dim recollections, missing time, soul terror, examinations, you arrive at your destination 1d8 hours prior to your departure.  Violate your light cone at peril.
No one seems to recall who suggested the pathway – it is gone from your memory.
5
Nightmare 102 - it gets...bad.  Reality goes runny.  Each and every individual mote of consciousness spends the next period of conceptual existence trapped in a hell of their own making.  IT must be endured;  5d12 real hours later, the ship will arrive at its destination point.  All those who have “died” in the meantime must make a DC 20 Fort save or they will experience immediate death by system shock.
6
The Writhe - ship now voyaging through an only semi-material realm wrought of small writhing, scuttling insect analogs.  Sacrifices must be honored every d12 hours or the creatures making up matter in this realm will attempt to infest and consume the vessel and its contents.   Sacrifices must take the form of those openly displaying the most fear. They must die afraid.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Worlds of the Imperium - Dulcinea

Dulcinea
(Dulcinea/Ylesium)  - Second world of the star Ylesium

Plasma Sails over Crystal continents; World of the floating magna-crystals

World gravity 0.67 g  
Atmo  nitro/oxy/traces 66/31/ 3%
World composition
Much of the world’s carbon is caught up in the “Crystal cycle”
  • This cycle has been slowly disrupted over the last 30,000 years, and most especially over the last 10
  • Export of crystal structures has occurred long enough that crystal formation is now occurring at a slower rate.  
  • Imperial scientists formulate that this may even slowly bring the turbulent world core to a full halt in half a million years at the present rate of “mineral estrangement”

World is crisscrossed by immense bands of incredible geo-magnetic force, somewhat overlapping with the leys
Surface of planet immense crystalline formations forming over vast floating islands of salt, in a shallow warm world ocean.   The skies are a constant turbulent aurora save at the equator.   
In between the crystalline mountain ranges, the climbing-crystal formations of the ground, and the magnetic storms of the skies, there are seas of floating crystals and magnetic rock, in regular orbits, slowly decaying and being replaced by other, newer formations that break off rather than fall.   These crystal islands have populations of blue, spider-like beings that spin immense webs between them.  
A race of imperial humanoids exist in the millions that share the world with them. (See below)

Surface meteorology
Dust storms (which are dangerous to unprotected eyes) - see also below under Salt Winds.  Greater degree of turbulence as one approaches the surface due to differences in atmospheric density.

The Salt Winds - the name for the “precipitation” that in some sectors Dulcinea is known for.  The volume of crystalline dust generated by the mining and cracking of many of these crystals leads to vast upper atmosphere wind storms.  These are like Terran wind/dust storms but of course with winds of higher velocities and blowing small diamond dust like particles from a variety of originating sources.

Settlement
The Crystal hunters are nomads that exist in a somewhat “culturally symbiotic” relationship to the Spiders.  “The Spiders” are definitely the species “on top” on Dulcinea; they control the industrial processes with regard to the crystal industry, on world.  It is they that the small scruffy unofficial but vast band of Dulcinean crystal hunters primarily serve and service and do business with.  (Though of course off world, those in the know find that experienced Crystal Hunters are ideal candidates for certain types of theft and other criminal enterprise in the Empire.  Some crystal hunters are happy to see the universe and ply their trade in a wide variety of climates and environments.
Some in the stratosphere use immense magna-sails to remain aloft, so long as they do not try to cross from the north to the south or vice versa, they may likely remain aloft indefinitely.  On the “ground” large salt harvesting industry-cities slowly sail-crawl over the shallowest of seas.  In the middle zone between the highest surface peaks and the lowest floating islands, there are many large plasma sail skiffs coming and going, the small ones on business, and the large ones immense pleasure craft, many belonging to the barons of the crystal market.

History
World settled during interregnum prior to the Second Empire by Friggian crystal hunters.  The inhabitants are thus descended from second clade Friggians (Who were quite likely mine-slaves.) and primarily display second clade morphology
Dulcineans frequently have light blue to gray skin, with many evincing a spotting pattern. Of second Clade Friggian descent and morphology (newer (blue skin, white hair, hair along ankles, feet, wrists, sometimes facial hair as well to a greater or lesser degree)
Exports – Crysteel, Dulcinean crystals, other crystals, salt

Crysteel  (a particular variety of crystalized iron, introduced in the early Second Empire era, normally “grown” in 0g grows wild and irregular in the skies above Dulcinea. The unique qualities the Crystal cycle endows these metals with makes them highly sought after for experimental Imperial tech and especially the outfitting of custom starships.  Crysteel has a unique mixing process which manages to preserve some of the other qualities that get mixed in due to “impurities.”)  skiffs take loads of the crystal “iron” to low orbit and there massed Low orbit factories produce great sheets of Crysteel. 
The full write up, including the Crystal Hunter character class and more is here

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Worlds of the Imperium - Seltremachs-3


Race of red skinned humanoids; Most are essentially Orc or Oni looking; (tall, big, red skinned, pointed incisors, and standard DCC characters may well mistake them for such. Run with it.)

Cold and electrical hardiness - Their ancestry and genegineering gives leveled individuals the ability to shrug off a number of points of cold or electrical damage / round equal to their attack bonus. 
Natural Weapons  Their bite does 1d4, those who file them (who are many) do 1d6+str bonus; on a fumble they inflict the full amount of that die on themselves.
Hit Points:   1d12 HP/level
Weapon Training: All melee, they favor large clubs, large scimitars/cutlasses (such war cleavers are passed down as clan weapons, reforged every few generations), and most especially pole arms.  They are also conversant in the use of the common Club, Mace, Net, Spear, Knife, Dagger, Ax, and Hammer.
They do not have a tradition of bow or crossbow use.   Instead, they have two varieties of primitive firearms.  
At most they receive light armor training.  Many prefer to do battle the old fashioned way, naked or nearly so. (Nothing heavier than Piece mail is to be found however).  A combination of biology and culture law strongly disincentivize the wearing of heavy armor (or clothing for those with an especially feral bent) by many.  Nonetheless they are conversant in light and medium armors. They are much more likely to wear piecemeal armor of some variety. 
Alignment:  Chaotic. Some few are Neutral. Lawful ones would likely be outcasts, or very old very parked matriarchs.
Attack Modifier +1 / level after 2nd.
Overkill Dice -  Lit. Extra damage dice.  In exchange for which they increase crits less rapidly as precision isn’t really their thing. (And they never do get a wider crit threshold; tis always 20)  Overkill dice only apply when using weapons with which the character is familiar.  Tactics are not precisely a thing the barbarians of this moon are known for.  In battle, they are often content to merely hit their targets as hard as possible, in the meanest place possible, and have a laugh about as they keep doing it.   Off world they are known as cheap and thuggish muscle for any number of traders or criminals who can articulate past the cultural divide.   Most work for battle, not coin.  
Seltremachian metabolism -     Due to their unusual metabolism and neurological relationship with pain and adrenaline, Red barbarians are frequently slow and sluggish on the first round of combat, especially when they did not initiate the violence.  They may not use their overkill dice and receive no attack bonus.
However on the second round of combat and subsequently the character proceeds without penalty. In addition, beginning on the third round of combat, provided the combat has been a continuous one, the character becomes supercharged, their adrenaline and pain receptors singing their brain into a higher order of functioning.  Each round after the second, the character recovers 1d3 hp or 1d2 stamina loss at will, provided combat continues.     
After extended bouts of melee the red barbarians are known for voracious appetites and almost drunken behavior as their brains are oversaturated with free neurotransmitters; under these circumstances their already short attention spans can become like unto non-existent. Most throw themselves into bouts of urge indulgent behavior before returning to battle and starting the cycle over again or entering an extended period of sleep.   And so the cycle of life on the third moon of Seltremachs continues…..,
Critical Hits Improve but slowly see below.
Initiative     Adds class level to Init. Rolls (but see Metabolism above)
Luck -         can add their luck to rolls to resist poison or environmental toxins
 (Lithium & Cobalt for example)

Table Seltremachian scavenger barbarian
Level
Attack bonus
Action Dice
Crit die & table
Threat Range
Ref save
Fort save
Will save
Overkill die
1
+1
1d20
d8/III
20
+1
+1
+0
+d3
2
+1
1d20
d12/III
20
+1
+1
+0
+d4
3
+2
1d20
d14/II
20
+1
+2
+1
+d5
4
+3
1d20
d16/IV
20
+2
+2
+1
+d6
5
+4
1d20 + 1d14
1d20/V
20
+2
+3
+1
+2d3
6
+5
1d20 + 1d16
1d20/V
20
+2
+4
+2
+2d4
7
+6
1d20 + 1d20
1d20/V
19-20
+3
+4
+2
+2d5
8
+7
1d20 + 1d20
1d20/V
19-20
+3
+5
+2
+2d6
9
+8
1d20 + 1d20
1d24/V
19-20
+3
+5
+3
+1d12 +1d6
10
+9
1d20 + 1d20 + 1d14
2d20/V
19-20
+4
+6
+3
+2d12

World details, 0 level occupation charts, and world specific equipage, critters, and stuff here.