Monday, December 27, 2010

Move over, Mind Flayers, there's a new cosmic horror in town (from 60 years ago)

THE BRAIN BATS OF VENUS (!)

I learned about this from the new book The Horror The Horror (which, in my copy at least, seems to have a 3-D verso. and by my copy I mean the one purchased by Boise Public Library and awaiting processing on my desk.)




But you can read the whole story here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Never in my life have I seen anything so awesome as this:

Moby Dick and the Mighty Mightor



Alex Toth is now the object of my worship. Kids in the '60s had all the raddest stuff. When oh when can I buy Mighty Mightor, The Herculoids and Shazzan on DVD?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tennyson: "The Kraken"



(Picture not related at all)


Well, I'll be danged--this ain't half bad:


The Kraken
~Tennyson

Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides: above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.



Remind you of anyone?

Some commentary (on the Tennyson poem, not HPL) here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday Reviewsday: What He Said

Here's a review that contains pretty much everything I wanted to say in my never-written-review of Sacrosanct Games's "product."

http://gamingallover.blogspot.com/2010/12/what-it-is-something-unholy-stirs.html

Here's the gist of Higgipedia's review, in case it's just too much trouble to click through to Gaming All Over the Place:

This is seriously the most poorly written and edited RPG product I have ever paid money for. Do not go anywhere near Something Unholy Stirs.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rest In Peace, Captain Beefheart

http://www.avclub.com/articles/rip-captain-beefheart,49232/

"Tonight there'll be ice cream. Ice Cream for Crow."


Phreaky Friday

Don't miss the unearthly creepines of this (large) collection of John Bauer fairy-tale images at Golden Age Comic Book Stories:



Look, it's called 'When Mother Troll Took In the King's Washing'!

(http://goldenagecomicbookstories.blogspot.com/2010/12/john-bauer-1882-1918.html)

You can totally buy the original book here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Late on Etymonday: The Canting Crew

My favorite lexicographer, Erin McKean writes in the Boston Globe about a reprint of a slang dictionary from 1699. Look in the title of the original for "Canting Crew."

Go directly to the web-version of the book here at archive.org.

Get a copy of Gary Gygax's book The Canting Crew at Amazon or Noble Knight Games.

And here's something called The Rhymes of the Canting Crew from around 1536.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Beholder Tadpoles

You know what I think? I think beholders have a tadpole stage in which they float around, wriggling tails downward, taking in the world around with their one combination eye-mouth.

I'm pretty sure they metamorphose by sweet-talking intelligent thralls (abetted, naturally by their burgeoning charm person rays) into building them secure nests.

Ahh, there's a similar idea already in the canon--it didn't know mind-flayers used tadpoles, but apparently you can use them to mash them up with beholders:

Witness the mindwitness (that's kind of a crappy name):



(source)
You can get d20 stats for it here. Scroll down about 55% of the page.

And I finally discovered The Annex. Their beholder article is here.

They don't seem to have an article on Lickitung, however. For that, visit Bulbapedia here.

P.S. Leave it to Google Image Search to teach you that anything can be naughty, even something as innocent as this guy:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

d30 Special Effects for Teleportation

d30 Special Effects for Teleportation

  1. BAMF!
  2. Swirling Black Cloud of Kirby Dots
  3. Cyclone of Light
  4. Column of Thrumming Glitter
  5. Black Flash
  6. Thunder & Lightning
  7. Whisper of Wind
  8. Ecto-Goo Residue
  9. Shimmering Golden Oval (portal)
  10. Two-Dimensional Window (portal)
  11. Crack of Wooden Bat
  12. Ping! of a Bell
  13. Tingling Shockwave
  14. Shower of Sparks
  15. Ninja Log
  16. Needle-Across-The-Grooves Screech
  17. Zing! of Heartstrings
  18. Angelic Harp Glissando
  19. Flickering Multi-Colored Geometric Lozenges
  20. Starburst of Citrus
  21. Stretch & Streak Upward
  22. Dissolve in Waves
  23. Melt Into Floor
  24. Turn Inside-Out Along 4D Axis
  25. Snatched Up In The Strand Of The Ethereal Spider
  26. Swell Up And Pop Like A Greedy Tick
  27. Fold Up Into A Box
  28. Unspool In Strips
  29. Corkscrew Into Self
  30. Jump Up One's Own Bum


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Whimsey Wednesday

A One-Fisted Table (roll d4, d6, d8, d10, d12):

Dwarf (and Gnome) Beverages

While I by no means mean to conflate the cultures of these two distinct and sovereign cultures and races, the facts of biology seem to have granted to each similar palates and proclivities, causing their dietary preferences, at least in the realm of drink, to be quite alike.

Basic Ingredient (d4)
1 Root or Tuber
2 Fungus (including Lichen)
3 Mineral
4 Grubs

Method of Preparation (d6)
1 Stewed
2 Pickled
3 Fermented
4 Pureed ("nectar" consistency)
5 Distilled
6 Infused/Steeped (as in tea)

Effective Dosage (for a dwarf) (d8)
1 Whiff
2 Thimbleful
3 Ladleful
4 Mug
5 Flagon
6 Bottle
7 Gallon
8 Not Intoxicating

Body & Mouthfeel (d10)
1 Fizzy
2 Effervescent
3 Biting
4 Clear
5 Weak
6 Thick & Soupy
7 Gritty
8 Chunky
9 Turgid (or clay-like)
10 Creamy

Nose (d12)
1 Piquant
2 Foul
3 Floral
4 Eggy
5 Heady
6 Acrid
7 Smokey
8 Earthy
9 Metallic
10 Wet Doggy
11 Talc
12 Dank

And here's a link to a cool games review site called Drunk Dwarves.

And here's a drunk dwarf that somebody put on Deviant Art:

Oh yes, and here's a place where you can find a Twelve-Step Program in your area.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Skunks & Monkeys

Do you know what's awesome? Skunks and Bees are awesome.
I pobably should have gone with "skunks and bees" for the headline, huh?

Here's a link to an article titled "The Bee-Eating Proclivites of the Striped Skunk."

My friend has at his desk right not a US government publication about beekeeping that is lavishly illustrated with painted bees--even green bees. I had never even seen a green queen bee before either.

Click this delectable bejeweled bee to browse an Etsy shop that I wish I had the money to plunder.


Good lord! Here I was in love with the idea of a Skunk Monkey and I see there's already a Skunk Ape roaming the southern United States. Still, watch out for Skunk Monkeys when wandering in the Valleys of the Crash.


Monday, December 6, 2010

The Echt-Etymonday

Echt.

This is a word I came across--for the first time in my life, I believe--in a 2003 New Yorker article in which Alex Ross claims that the Lord of the Rings movies, as an exemplar of their form (movies) transcend the source, as an exemplar of their form (novels). Here's how he put it:


"The books tell a fantastic story in a familiar style, but the movies transcend the apparent limitations of their medium in the same way that Wagner transcended the limitations of opera."

I'm not much of a judge of movies, so Ross may be right. Nothing can be higher than Tolkien in my interior life, so I can't really judge the novels fairly either, but I didn't like the movies much--but I haven't even seen The Return of the King, maybe when I finally get around to watching them I can appreciate them as great achievements in moviemaking and a worthy adaptation of the book I love the most.

Lords of light! Is that old news or what? Almost as old as our word echt (which Ross used as a prefix: "echt-Wagnerian," or something. He seems to like the word quite a bit.)

It means 'genuine' or the Real Deal. Here's the etymology, from Wordnik: 1.German, from Middle High German, from Middle Low German echte; akin to Old High German ēohaft, customary.


The NOAD 2e tells us it was borrowed into English in the early 20th century--so we're lucky it wasn't replaced by "liberty" during the War Years, like in liberty cabbage.



(source)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Freebie Friday

Here's Freeb, the Free Bee:


It's actually a comic from Natalie Dee, so go check that out.

So, you know you can get the E.R. Burroughs Mars novels for free, right? Okay, only four of them turn up at Project Gutenberg, but I got like 13 last night for my new Kindle (Thanks, Kelly!). Not Fighting Man of Mars, though. This is suspicious. (oh, here it is on Gutenberg Australia.) Fighting Man of Mars has 'fighting-man' right there in the title. Anyway, once you've got all the free E.R.B you can stand, I want every one of you to buy Warriors of the Red Planet when it comes out.

Huh, Goodreads just turned me on to someone called Alan Burt Akers. He any good? He wrote a god-awful lot of books, so that can't be good, but they've got hella rad covers like this:


(source)

And this one, despite the cruddy scan:



(source)

So what's this about Freebie Friday? I don't know, I mean, what do we need that for? Everything in the OSR is free. Go check out the Free RPG Blog.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dropping the [Die] for the First d30's Day

Here's a product I didn't know about:





(source) Also check out 30-Sided Adventure and Other Tales and 30 Sided Character.

This concerns me mainly because I had the idea to create something similar: 30 d30 tables for use in the Torture-City of the Blue Gloop Super-Scientists, my aspiring megadungeon (which is really hardly a regular dungeon), that I'm presently running with LotFP:WFRP, though I'm may be switching to Sorcery & Super-Science (or maybe even Traveler!) depending on which way the PCs go next.

And the idea for the d30's Day Thursday was that I would present a 30-item table, such a 30 Basic Body Forms For Alien Corpses or 30 Special Effects for Ray Guns and Other Energy Weapons--but I'm not going to get to that today.

So I'll just plug a few things:

Check out Knightvision Games and their brand new first PDF, the Labyrinth Lord adventure Path of the Delver.

I didn't read these as a kid, but I probably will now--reprints of the Fabled Lands gamebooks.

And, I'm late to the party again, but here's the greatest RPG tool ever created: Abulafia, the Random Everything Generator.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Whimsey Wednesday: The 20 Awesomest Animals, Ranked in Order of Awesomeness

  1. Octopus
  2. Vulture
  3. Bat
  4. Ape
  5. Spider
  6. Lion
  7. Snake
  8. Bear
  9. Scorpion
  10. Shark
  11. Crocodile
  12. Wolf
  13. Eagle
  14. Elephant
  15. Sloth
  16. Porcupine
  17. Skunk
  18. Boar
  19. Bull
  20. Horse
Now what you do is roll 2d20 and mash up the two results and you can generate all the classic monsters of myth (uh, except the ones with people in them, I guess.): 13+6=Griffin, 3+11=Dragon. Yeah, I just stated that a dragon is a mash-up of a bat and crocodile.
Double Octopus is where an octopus has eight tentacles with octopuses at the end of them. That is as awesome as God, who is an Octopus With a Beard at the Center of the Galaxy.
Double Bear is a bear at both ends.
Now, you'll want some alternates, for skin changes and such. (I always liked that the monsters in Dragon Warrior were usual just different colored rehashes of lower-level monsters. Some say it's a weakness of the game but I was always charmed.)


(source)
Alternates In Awesomeness
  1. or Squid, Cuddlefish*, Nautilus
  2. or Ostrich
  3. just Bat
  4. or Monkey, obviously
  5. or Tick
  6. or Any Great Cat
  7. or Eel Mmm. Barbecued eel.
  8. or Wolverine, Badger, Mongoose
  9. or Lobster, Centipede, Earthworm
  10. or Piranha 3D
  11. or Monitor Lizard, Gecko
  12. just Wolf. Okay, maybe Fox
  13. or Owl, Crow, Stork (check out the jabiru. Rad!)
  14. or Hippo, Walrus, or Just Really Big
  15. or Human
  16. or Hedgehog, especially if drawn by Doris Matthäus
  17. or Lemur, Pangolin
  18. or Ram, Goat, Tapir
  19. just Bull, but maybe Elk or Moose
  20. not particularly awesome, but: unicorns, centaurs, hippogriffs, seahorses.
*sure, it's supposed to be 'cuttlefish' but, c'mon!
So, what I rolled just now is Vulture Bear. The obvious thing would be a skin-change of the Owlbear, which is still pretty awesome for all of its obviousness.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hey, a new webcomic!

Check it out--it's only a few days old. It's got CROCODILE MEN.

www.destructorcomics.com

(Meanwhile, holy heck, did Grognadia's link to that article about 20 old words obsolete (and pudify!) my whole Etymonday enterprise or what?)

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Pudifying Etymonday

Pudify.

I adopted this word on Saturday but discovered too late that it didn't appear (at least in this particular form) in any of my desk dictionaries--not the New Oxford American (3rd ed.--alack! I didn't check the 2nd ed., but left it in exile under a bookcase in the coldest corner of my living room); not the Merriam-Websters Third New International, not even the Shorter Oxford English. I didn't find it on Wordnik either, and I still haven't bothered to google it.

Uh, but they did all have the likely root word: pudency which mean 'modesty' and comes from Latin pudentia, a form of pudere, meaning 'to make or be ashamed' which I take to be the intended meaning of today's word as well--so this post is another riff on my Shameful Bits post from ages past.

I think somebody ought to write up pudify as a cleric spell. Sort of a specific, limited charm person or cause fear--and here I apologize for referring to the spells not by their canonical names but by generic equivalent phrases. Except that charm person is the proper name.

Here's a picture of Thomas More confronting Cardinal Wolsey (because we're reading Wolf Hall in my book club). I'm not sure which is pudifying the other, but I'm sure there's plenty of that going on.



I found it here. He found it here. The painting is by Vivian Forbes and dates from 1927.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I'm a Member of the Society!

The Pembrooktonshire Gardening Society:



You can probably blame the hat on the Holiday Hoedown I'm playing tonight with ASD.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Of Weredog and Man: The Predator Domesticated

Wolf and Man have ever been rivals, and though we still respect and fear the wolf in its primal state, it is not our species that has become a million different mockeries of itself, that fawns and pants over the other in absolute idiot loyalty. No, that is the state of the Dog.

Likewise, Werewolf and Man have always had an even closer relationship, the mooncurse bringing the fear of nature red in tooth and claw directly into yourself and losing yourself in it. It's a Klein bottle scene.

But just as with the Wolf, Man triumphed and made of a killer a pet, there now can be found, everywhere humans live, a domesticated race of Weredogs--floppy ears, spotted coats, slobbering friendliness and all. When the moon is full the Beast overtakes them and they become Man's Best Friend, and their human mind can only guess in horror what was done in their metamorphosed body while they were exiled from it. Did they sniff the behinds of house cats? Like the hand of a weakling wizard? Beg to be let out to answer the call of the wild?

The only answers will be half-recalled scraps of dreams. This bestial state is rather like the cat's eyes trance that sometimes overcomes Thuderan cat-people and Mongonese Lionmen. Thus, the weredog is a playable race upon the Mutant Earth.

Could these be the dogmen described by Marco Polo? Sure, why not.



(from Wikipedia)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Welcome to Whimsey Wednesday!

Long ago, a beloved blogger called Sham shared with us a set of Whimsey Wine tables for Arduin that he'd made in his youth, some 25 years ago. I still have never seen Arduin, but I was inspired--positively possessed-- by the idea of whimsey wine, and the idea of having several tables of madness always on hand behind the screen--and that's a practice I follow nowadays in my Mutant Earth LotFP:WFRP game.

Today I begin a weekly series exploring some application of randomness that I can use to further my mission of maximal ridiculousness in roleplaying. I suppose that can also be know as the principle of Awesome/Stupid. Also, I realize now that roleplaying may not really need any additional randomness.

My example this morning comes through a few clicks on Stumble Upon in the subject of mythology, leading to Godchecker, whose tagline is "More Gods Than You Can Shake A Stick At." They sell a Cafe Press mug with that on it, anyway. That doesn't remind you of Grognardia's current book project does it?

And the idea I have today is Godnappers. It could be a WEG Ghostbusters campaign--or hey, even the setting of that Ghostbusters retroclone that doesn't exist--just imagine that the GB's got ahold of some serious mystical incunabulae, souped up their proton packs with gamma-ray-generating-Americium (I don't know why--just, gamma rays are cool, okay?),


found themselves a Stargate to Olympus, and started napping up all the gods they could find. Or maybe that's what the bad guys did, whatever floats yr boat.

And how's that for half-baked? Incidentally, that's the other byword for my refereeing style.

Here's a picture of my moustache, from a couple weeks ago when I was roasting a goose or two (hence the hairnet) (I cannot explain the shirtlessness, however):

There's still plenty of time to donate for the benefit of the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Livestrong.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Techno-Magical Crowdsourcing Nightmare, Again

You can feel it coming, can't you? The day when the whole world is wired together and thinks as one planet-sized consciousness, the day any wish can be made deed with the speed of thought and the all the resources of the planet behind it.

More "information" they say is generated in a second--or a minute, it hardly matters--than one human can consume in a lifetime. That's waste! That information is fuel. Fuel for the interstellar colonial civilization we are destined to become.

In the meanwhile, consider that the chatter among those 10 billion simultaneous-minds will be just like Twitter and the comments threads of blogs, so be prepared for rival factions crowdsourcing instant monster factories and sending said giant robot monsters to duke it out upon the ruins of all the cities and museums and schools and libraries.

What will YOUR team's giant robot monster look like?



Oh wow--this image tickles some deep, long-undisturbed memories. I must have seen it once when I was very young. Read about it here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Introducing Etymonday

Gretchen Rubin advises that a blogger should post every day if they want to . . . I'm not sure what the result is supposed to be--I only remember the injunction to post every day. So here's my first attempt at a weekly feature: Etymonday.


This feature will be my attempt to locate a good old word that you might want to use to add some old-world-type archaic class and charm to your referee narrating--and read to you from a dictionary about it. For the first word I decided to pick up a copy of The White Company by A.C. Doyle--a book that dumbfounded me 10 years ago with the amount of words I had never seen that were in it--and read until I encountered a word I (still) didn't know.

(You can go here (Project Gutenberg) and try this experiment yourself. And go here (Golden Age Comic Book Stories)to see some stunning N.C. Wyeth illustrations for it.) Like this:





It turns out that I had to skip several place names--I may not be familiar with the names, but I probably won't find them in a desk dictionary either.


Anyway, the first word of the Etymonday series: saltern. Here's the sentence it appears in, if you'd like a taste of some stately prose: From the vineyard and the vinepress, from the bouvary or ox-farm, from the marl-pits and salterns, even from the distant ironworks of Sowley and the outlying grange of St. Leonard's, they had all turned their steps homeward. (I probably should have looked up 'marl-pits' and 'bouvary' as well.)


And here is what the New Oxford American Dictionary (2nd Ed.--my new 3rd Ed. is at home) has to say: "a set of pools in which seawater is left to evaporate to make salt," and it come from Old English sealtærn 'salt building' the original use denoting a saltworks.


Saltworks? That's rad. Do you suppose goblins like salt? What if some sort of negotiation/mass slaughter had to be worked out with the goblin saltworks so that the peaceful/genocidal villagers could deal with an infestation of Slugmen From Out Of Space? (The slugmen have slime-rays.)


Here's a blog (http://thisplaceissacred.blogspot.com/) that I found when I Googled 'slugmen from out of space.'


And here's an image from something called piranhaquasar.com, which might just be NSFW and maybe even morally repugnant, but, you know slugmen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why did no one tell me there was a new edition of the Oxford American Dictionary?

Go look at it here.

I like the sound of the new format--but who am I kidding? I'd like any new dictionary format (expect maybe "online").

And who can turn down 6 months free access to the Oxford Dictionaries Online? Almost everbody, I know.

Anyway, I'm very exited about this big blue book bolting even now to my doorstep, even if it does look like my favorite lexicographer, Erin McKean (of Wordnik), is no longer on the title page.

Friday, November 12, 2010

You know who had a great moustache?


(source)

Proust.
Go here to donate to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and grow a mo.

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's Mo-Vember On My Face!

Hey, Kids!


I'm pledging to grow a mo ('stache) for the month of November. Not only is this a chance for me to act ridiculous in public, it's a stunt to raise awareness of (and funding for relief of. . .) prostate cancer (which, you'll recall, was the bane of my Spiritual Master, Frank Zappa).


So, if you'd like to donate to this hairy cause, please follow the link by clicking the Great Moustache itself:





I'll be back periodically with shots of my ugly mug to mark my progess. So stay away for that!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Copy Book, in advance of NaNoWriMo

From the first page of The Golden Bowl, by Henry James:

"If it was a question of an Imperium, he said to himself, and if one wished, as a Roman, to recover a little sense of that, the place to do so was on London Bridge, or even, on a fine afternoon in May, at Hyde Park Corner. It was not indeed to either of those places that these grounds of his predilection, after all sufficiently vague, had, at the moment we are concerned with him, guided his steps; he had strayed simply enough into Bond Street, where his imagination, working at comparatively short range, caused him now and then to stop before a window in which objects massive and lumpish, in silver and gold, in the forms to which precious stones contribute, or in leather, steel, brass, applied to a hundred uses and abuses, were as tumbled together as if, in the insolence of Empire, they had been the loot of far-off victories."


Why am I making you read James at this late hour (it's a quarter to lunch where I'm at)? Well, mainly it's because I love James's sentences, but with this there's the added element of inspiration. For my NaNoWriMo novel, Tickle Arms, about the visit of a two-armed stranger to the insular, provincial Valley of the Crash, I plan to write in a pastiche of James's particular fustian. I hope it will give my gonzo sword-and-planet-and-mad-science setting the right kind of Space: 1889-type--decidedly not-punk steampunk--vibe. Is it Edwardian? My British history is quite spotty.


Meanwhile, I hope all of you male-types will consider participating in Mo-vember, the moustache-growing-for-prostate-cancer-fighting event that I learned about through The Art of Manliness.


Here's some inspiration for youse (from The Art of Manliness):


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What, there's a 15 in 15 going around?

Okay, I'll blurt out the games as quickly as I think of them.



  1. D&D (BECMI) My first exposure to D&D was a Moldvay red book I found at the dump, but Mentzer was the game I pored over in my pre-teen years.
  2. Dangerous Journeys--Mythus This was the first game I refereed for multiple sessions (for more than one player, Erik).
  3. Angband I wish there weren't so many video games here, but I'll never regret my time spent with this one.
  4. Super Mario Bros. 2 I bought this with my paper route money in '89.
  5. Gemfire (SNES) I always wanted to mock up a boardgame version of this--viola: Runewars did it for me.
  6. Final Fantasy "II" (SNES) I got really wrapped up in the story of this, at least twice. "You spoony bard!"
  7. Puerto Rico This was my first euro-game. The first of hundreds.
  8. D&D 3X I ran my first real campaign under these rules and it was a good time. So good I almost miss the 900 cubic feet of books I got rid of a couple years ago.
  9. Swords & Wizardry-->Labyrinth Lord-->LotFP:WFRP This is where I am now, and the OSR is like the best thing in gaming ever.
  10. Carcassonne The euro-game I've played the most of, though I rarely play it anymore.
  11. Games Workshop Combat Cards I just loved the world implied by the pictures of the minis and their names. I didn't know about Warhammer Fantasy Battle as a tween, so this was the best I could do.
  12. The Mutant Earth '89 This was a game I invented when I was 13, to allow my brother and friends to play mutant turtles and mutant badgers and robot bikers. It will soon be resurrected (again!) for my LotFP:WFRP game.
  13. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker I just love this game--the sounds, the graphics, the sailing.
  14. Sid Meier's Civilization I did nothing but play this in at least one of my Accelerated Independent Study hours in '93-'94.
  15. Magic: the Gathering Ah, thousands of cards. Thousands.

And now I'll add in some comments.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Here's a cool artist you should know

You probably already do, if you have ever browsed the stacks of your local library where the Burroughs Mars novels are shelved.

It's Mahlon Blaine (1894 1969). Here's the first illustration that appears in the 1974 Canaveral Press edition of A Fighting Man of Mars:




And here's where I found it (and you can find the rest of his illustrations for that book there as well).

The illustrations are dated '62, so I just imagine that it was creepy weirdness like this that inspired all the psychedelic heads to make all that acid rock music down in San Francisco and over in Canterbury.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why did we stop saying 'anon'?

And why do I not know how to punctuate a sentence like that? It's different in the UK (and in the Englishes of elsewhere) than the US, no? Bah.

But why don't we just start saying 'anon' again. Think of the children--they're going to have to read Shakespeare and his ilk eventutally, so can't we do them a solid and just make sure they know what 'anon' means BEFORE they encounter it, say in The Merry Wives of Windsor?

Whoa. I was looking for a Shakespeare quote and I found this thing on Random House.com that says 'anon' is still in use in British English. Good show, old chaps!

I'm fairly certain it's not in use in American English, at least not in the Far West, since I didn't really know what it meant and I think I'm reasonably knowledgeable about my native language.

Anyroad--I shall write again anon. (But not really very soon.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Song for the Season

Here's one of those Frank Zappa songs that, when I sing it to people, they often say, "No. There is no way that is actually a song that someone recorded."

Goblin Girl, as performed in New York City on Halloween 1981, I think.



I have no excuse for the clothes Frank and Bobby are wearing.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

There's a game a-brewin'

The little lady and I are just about moved into our new place. We're little more than a few folding chairs away from being ready to host a regular game of Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Tommy, are you done with that pesky thesis?

Alan, have you read the Tutorial Booklet?

Who wants to play a Tigler, a Skeksis, or an Antique Japanese Lunar Rabbit-Man?

And because this post is really pointless, a random cephalopod link. Go there and read about this:




A photo of a macrotritpus larva, from Pharyngula on Scienceblogs.com

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Skeksis of the Gloor Waste

So, there have to be Vulture Men, right?


(source)

These skeksis are the gloor-tainted vestiges of the Vulture Lords of eld, before the Plague of Blue Gloops and the fall of super-science.

They are laughably frail, vain (despite their horrid rotting-turkey-head faces), petty, greedy and full of devious tricks and magic gadgets. And YOU can play one.

Of course, they like to suck the Essence out of the Unicorn Folk, who are like Gelflings, only they're from ThunderCats:

What the fizz? The Wikipedia entry doesn't cover the Unicorn Folk? Does anybody know their proper name? They have stars on their foreheads, you know, like a weird species of Sneetches.



God, what a song!

Friday, September 10, 2010

There's totally anthropomorphic rabbits on the moon

Hell, they probably even speak Japanese:


If you're playing LotFP:WFRP with me, you can totally play one.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Playable race: Tiglers

EDIT: I really intend to revise and flesh out this post, but I'm busy falling in LOOOOOOOVE.

Tiglers are the humanoid descendants of white Martian apes. They are very similar to modern humans in all respects except that they have two extra vestigal arms ('tickle arms') below the human-normal two, and that their genetic code isn't stored in the form of DNA. It's something Martian. How they survived on Earth with this fundamental incompatibility is a mystery shrouded by eons.

Treat Tiglers as ordinary humans but with the following modifications:

Tigler Scholars have had some success decoding the technical 'manuals' in the data banks of the impossibly ancient Martian Martial Arts Pleasure Rockets, so any Tigler has a base 1in 6 chance to know how to operate newly discovered relics of Martian technology.

Sometimes Tiglers have lasers.

Tiglers worship two "Gods-In-Flesh," the time suspended Dinosaurs-With-Lasers in the Valleys of the Crash, and The Great Ape, a still-living 200-Million-Year-Old white ape of Mars who during the Great Folly ate the Mother of Trolls and has only grown larger and angrier since. He is also worshipped by trolls as the Trollfather.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

It's vitally important that you watch this documentary

The Dungeon Masters by Keven McAlester



It's not a new movie or anything but I just found out about it when the A.V. Club reviewed it recently.

Maybe there's not much in it that will be new to those of us in the hobby, but it gave me a thing or two to think about.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

LotFP:WFRP Has Arrived!

A little box from Finland was waiting on my doorstep after work today.

More news to follow . . .

EDIT: Well, that was a big lie (about the news, not about the game arriving). So, go here and get Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Roleplay for free. And then buy it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Here's how hit dice are gonna work

The human standard is a d6 hit die. When you get hit, roll your hit die, if it's less than or equal to the enemy's damage roll, you've been wounded. Fighting men will get bigger hit dice as they get better. And monsters will be a vast forest of befuddlement.

Then you roll to find out where the wound is. This will result in injury or, about 1 in 5 times, in death.

Depending on the location, there will be a variety of penalties and danger; I'm thinking broken bones and infection.

Becasue I'm getting specific (well, not right now, but when I do. . .) I'll have to take into account the three basic types of injury: blunt force, laceration and puncture. There are weapons that specialize in those things to differing degrees. And if I'm doing that I'd better include some differing effects for the different classes of armor, maybe with three broad classes there as well, with perhaps an intermediary between mail and plate. Wikipedia calls it transitional armor, I think. No, it calls it transitonal armour.

I know that a nebulous smattering of ideas isn't very useful to you, and perhaps not worth your time to read, but go ahead and give me any suggestions for precedents and directions others have taken with this line of thinking. Thanks!

By the way, Tommy and Alan, I don't intend to apply this to LotFP:WFRP right away, but maybe we can give it a test run before the Big Game arrives.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thanks again, Dungeon Master!

Wil Wheaton's twitter feed reminded me that today is Gary Gygax's birthday, so I just want to take a moment to once again express my gratitude for his part in this game we love.

I'll be perusing the DMG is his honor this evening. I was going to do that before I was reminded of the date, but now I've added the "in his memory" part.

What sort of illustration should I use?

Here's the picture from the Gary Gygax Statue Facebook page:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

How much does D&D need experience levels?

When I think about it, probably with too much naive 'realisticness' as the ideal, I'm dissatisfied with the increase of hit dice at each level up.

Think of a technically proficient guitar player--isn't he about as good as he'll ever be once he masters the instrument, say as a teenager like Clapton and Page? They might get wiser but are they going to play with all that much more technical proficiency?

So, if a guitar player is like our fighting man, isn't he 95% as good as he'll ever be when he sets out for glory as a strapping youth? Wouldn't it be even more glorious if he ended his career showering in golden coins upon a raft of his enemies' long bones, floating on the river of the blood of all the world's dragons, if he got to that point without all those extra hit points--if it was the treasures and storied arms he gathered in his adventures that made him great, not a game mechanic designed to make it easier for him to achieve greatness.

Wouldn't this make gold equal experience in an even more fundamental way?

Something new would have to devised to handle access to higher spell levels, and a skill system (which I guess is the way this concept is usually handled) would seem to be very appropriate in this form of the game.

This idea appeals to me. I'm interested in the opinions of the wise on this matter--though apparently not enough to pose this question in a forum where any of them will see it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

How the Dinosaurs Got Their Lasers

Millions of years ago, back in Dinosaur Times on Earth, there were all kinds of civilizations on Mars with a bunch of uniquely Martian artforms, philosophies and all that crap--but the interesting thing was the giant white four-armed apes.

One of these Martian cultures launched a Mixed Martian Martial Arts Tour Rocket to Earth (still in Dinosaur Times) to fight a bunch of title bouts. Of interest to us today is the one that pitted Martians on Tyrannosaurs with Laser Howdahs against giant white four-armed apes.

Obviously, it was a disaster for the Martians and the apes rioted and ate all the Martians and zapped the Lasersauruses with suspended animation rays.

Flash forward a couple hundred million years: the apes have evolved into humanoids--smaller now, about the size of the native hominids, but still four armed. However, the lower two arms are now much smaller than the upper two and are called "tickle arms" because they are now generally associated with intimacy, while the "work arms" do the manual labor.

Now, the ancient Martian Martial Arts technology is a true marvel, as the suspended animation field generators continued to function through all the eons, though they are starting to show signs of malfunctioning. . .

The Laser Howdahs, of course, haven't aged at all, as they have been Outside Time all this, er, time.

Well, crap--here's half an episode of Dino-Riders, show that I really wish I had known about before just now:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I just sent Raggi some money!

I've placed my order for LotFP:WFRP and Hammers of the God.

Have you?

Friday, July 2, 2010

With thanks for inspiration to Jeff Rients

No doubt you saw Jeff Rients's Encounter Critical scenario starters early this week.

Here's a few I thought of by trying to rise to his level of awesomeness:

1) Inspector Gadget and the Power Rangers must team up to save Moses from the Borg Terminators.

2) The mogwais on the cargo deck broke into the crate of magic Jelly Bellys and now a tribe of evil monkey-lizards with super powers is loose on the ship.

3) Your Firefly-class vessel is set upon by Reavers--who turn out to be Space Hippies who grew up to be Space Yuppies in the Space Eighties and are just out to have some Brett Easton Ellis-type good times with their cocaine lasers*.

4) A lawyer from a supernatural law firm (Daniel Dae Kim) joins forces with a Minbari bounty hunter (Mira Furlan) and they travel to a mysterious island to bring a rogue gaseous lifeform to account for his pointless television show.

* "cocaine lasers" is from the song "Pobody's Nerfect" on the new Wolf Parade record, Expo 86.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Did you see Wil Wheaton's new t-shirt design?

Cuz you might just want to drop some cheese on it:





(Click to go to Jinx and buy one)

I guarantee that when I'm wearing mine and eating cheese, I'll will ALWAYS drop some of the cheese on my shirt.

Wil original post is here.

I apologize for this blog becoming a billboard for other people's merchandise, but that's all that's motivating me to post lately. You saw the Lamentations of the Flame Princess box photos, right? Holy Smoke!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Here's a Cool Comic You Should Buy

Or read it online.

It's called U.S.S. Origin: the Beasts of Kay-7 and it's by Malachi Ward, published by Top Shelf.

The Comics Reporter ran the back cover image recently:




and I said to myself, "Aaron, you know what I like?" And then I responed to myself, "I like that."

You'll dig the front cover, too. Where my trekkies at?




And that's everything I know about it, except that I can't wait for it to land on my doorstep.

Coincidentally, my hip-hop name in high school was MC K7 Snerk. I never MC'd anything. Well, other than our cultic rituals at lunch.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A New Coney Island For Me

This really has nothing to do with the place called Coney Island.

I don't think the word 'coney' is familiar to your average American, even though Coney Island is a household name. It probably has more currency in our hobby since Sam Gamgee traps and cooks some coneys somewhere in The Lord of the Rings. Seems it's time I read LoTR again, if I can't remember where, exactly--if only I could get my brother to return the treasured copies from my chidhood. . .

In the office this morning I said "You don't want the Easter Bunny hanging around out of season--it's getting to be barbecue weather, and coney is probably pretty good on the grill," prompting a colleague to look up this unfamiliar alleged "word."

She discovered that it's sometimes preferred to pronounce it to rhyme with "bunny," but we office mates agreed that perhaps "cunny" isn't the sort of word to bandy about the workplace.

So I head to the dictionary (that's what I do here at this blog, at least once a year) and discover a few interesting things about the humble "coney." The first is that the name can be used for both pikas and hyraxes. Anything that gives me an excuse to type "pikas and hyraxes" is self-evidently raditudinous.

The second is that on its way to English "coney" passed through French as "conis/conil" and started out from Latin as "cuninculus" which the American Hertiage 4th ed. suggests might could be from "cunus" or "the female pudenda."

Well, I guess "cunny" was on the mark after all.

I looked up "pudenda" too because, well, show me a pudenda and I'm going to look. Turns out it's a plural, so you could talk about a single pudendum, but usually two will do. But what interested me was that the word is a form of "pudere" (the neuter gerundive, if you really want to conjugate your pudenda) which means "to make or be ashamed." So, it's your shameful bits.

And that's why you will henceforth often find me on holiday in the Coney Island of my mind.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wet Spellbooks

There's just not enough writing (writing that has found itself before my eyes, anyway) about the hazards of getting wet. Dungeons are dank, dripping places often enough, but hardly ever has the wetness itself be a problem in my games. Say, just two weekends ago my Bahamuddan cleric was wading free as duck in waist-high frogwater, to say nothing of the juices of the frogs' interiors but not even his fussy white boots were any worse for wear.

So, with no more effort than it takes to type it (which is really the only kind of effort you'll find on this blog), here are the effects of falling in foul pools that should be making PC's cheap lives miserable:

Wet armor padding. It's at least going to slow you down. Maybe make it harder to swing your great-grandsire's single-edged sword, The Gummer. Maybe it's ruined altogether. If you want to keep that harness on, it's gonna chafe.

Wet thief's boots. You're probably gonna squeak, Sneaky.

Wet bowstrings. Yes, I wish you had written down "oilcloth to wrap extra bowstrings" too. Sodden arrows and fletchings probably don't work so well either.

Wet Spellbooks. This has huge potential. I can't believe I've never read the phrase "wet spellbook" before. Scrolls are going to be vulnerable to the smears as well.

Fssssss! Your torch went out. Aww, and the rest of 'em are soaked through as well. You didn't happen to make note of how your flint and steel were stored, did you? Too bad you weren't playing 4e and you could use one of those kewl glow-wands. Barf.

Soggy food. Uh, sure you can still eat it. What's your Constitution score? Thanks. Oh, and do you know what page the disease rules are on?

Foot blisters. Walking around all day in slippery boots and mushy skin has got to be hard on even the most iron-thewed. Maybe my milquetoast modern daintiness is showing through here--but shouldn't road worn feet be a concern to adventures even on the driest delves?

I'd love to hear about how you handle water hazards and suggestions for where to find treatments of these things in actual rules.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hey Everybody, My DM is in Houston Doing Microgravity Experiments!

You can read about it here: http://microgravityu2010.blogspot.com/

He's on the ground crew so he's the guy answering the phone when the flight crew has to say "Houston, we have a problem."

Sorry to repeat the oldest NASA joke since Apollo. I am not, whatever you have been told, a professional comdeian.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

So this Milton cat, he any good?

Yes. Yes he is pretty good.

My book club is reading Paradise Lost (we're only up to Book Two) and (as I'm sure is obvious to some) the influence on D&D is stunning. Just about everybody from the Demon and Devil entries in the Monster Manual has appeared.

Not Tiamat, of course, but I think Milton's Portess of Hell has her beat:

". . . [A]t last appear
Hell bounds high reaching to the horrid Roof,
And thrice threefold the Gates; three folds were Brass
Three Iron, three of Adamantine Rock,
Impenitrible, impal'd with circling fire,
Yet unconsum'd. Before the Gates there sat
On either side a formidable shape;
The one seem'd Woman to the waste, and fair,
But ended foul in many a scaly fould
Voluminous and vast, a Serpent arm'd
With mortal sting: about her middle round
A cry of Hell Hounds never ceasing bark'd
With wide CERBEREAN mouths full loud and rung
A hideous Peal: yet, when they list, would creep,
If aught disturb'd thir noyse, into her woomb,
And kennel there, yet there still bark'd and howl'd
Within unseen."

Now, why don't I remember the Hell Hound bit making an appearance in D&D?

She is Sin, and the other "formidible shape" is Death. Maybe you'll get a quote about him some other time. Or you can read it yourself at literature.org.

An idea I got from a footnote in the Norton critical edition were using, about the etymology of adamant--that it literally means 'untameable'--gives me an idea about how weapons forged of this popular metal should behave. Sure, you have an Unbreakable Sword of Legend now--or, wait--does the sword have you?

Well, okay, Ego weapons already have the potential to do that. I always look for something new, but it's hard to find.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Is Angband Olde Schoole?

In case you don't know what I mean, this picture will take you to the Wikipedia entry.



This is my favorite video game. Thanks are in order to reader Erik who introduced me to it in the form of Moria for the Amiga round about 1991. He is the humble acorn from which sprouted and thickened this mighty oak of . . . a stupid blog.

So, then the question I posed at the top: is it Olde Schoole?

Actually, I don't care, so sorry for ambushing you.

Here's why I love Angband:

It's pure dungeon crawl. There is a bit of a nod to social interaction in the haggling with shop keepers, but that is exactly as exciting as you would expect having a chat with a robot from 1985 to be. I am attracted to "purity" but I should really not say "purity because" that sounds like "ethnic purity" and fuck that. I'm attracted to minimalism: stand up comedy: just a guy talking. Fiction: black marks on paper. That's infantile, I guess, but that's me. Angband has one town and a dungeon. That's all it needs.

It's brutal. If you make a mage, you will die in a pit of poisoned stakes on the first or second level. Or be eaten be a snake.

It continues to hold mysteries for me after nearly 20 years of playing it (every few years or so). I have never gotten close to the level where Morgoth lurks, with his halting gait and dented iron crown. When your character dies you don't get to go back to your last save; you get to start a new pathetic 1st-level peon. You can get around that with the slightest effort, but then you've robbed yourself of 20 years of fun, you snot-nose little punk. Are you happy now?

I love this game so maybe I should try to put what I love about it into the next campaign I run. Ahh, well, that's probably going to be Marvel Super Heroes, as I have mentioned. That requires a slightly different tone.

I feel like putting together a side project while my regular group takes a couple of weeks off. Better lock your doors, America!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's Saturday: Saturday is the Day I Play D&D

May that never change.

Well, a different day is fine. A different game is fine too. But still, is all I'm saying.

Full Poser Disclosure: we're playing 4e (I was out-voted) but we did just enter the Ruins of the Moathouse.

But maybe that just adding sacrilege to apostasy--it is this Moathouse:




As penance I'll say 6 Hail Jeffs and order a copy of Advanced Edition Companion from my local game shop (all About Games in Boise).

Amen.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Voidship, Cloudsource

This is obvious and probably too of-the-moment (or worse, totally last year), but I've just come to fear that this really is the future:


The first generation to grow up texting and twittering--always in contact with everyone and living in public--is completely comfortable with the hive mind concept, so comfortable that it just happens organically without anyone even taking notice.


So now the human race is a single consciousness. If you thought the overnight eruption of Wikipedia was a marvel, wait till the same principle is applied by a whole planet to manufacturing starships.


This is what interstellar civilizations will look like.


Individuality is hopelessly outmoded. Resistance is . . . well, you know the rest.




An early design of the voidship Cloudsource.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Favorite Trickster This Year

It's not the Flash rogue named The Trickster. He died and spent a year hand handcuffed to the Pied Piper (in Countdown to Final Crisis) but that's still not as bad a fate as seeing Mark Hamill and Corinne Bohrer dressed like this:





It's not Mr. Mxyzptlk, which that same Countdown to Final Crisis identified with the Trickster God outright. I haven't read many Superman stories but I plan to dip my toe in the Silver Age shortly, so who knows, the Imp From the 5th Dimension may well take the honors next year.





But the Trickster I celebrate this year is that red-headed rascal, that boater-hatted be-bowtied Beau Brummel, History's Least Efficient Assassin,

ARCADE!




Platform shoes and a white tuxedo. Consider that a shopping list.





Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wild West Cinema from Spectrum Games

I just bought Wild West Cinema, which is I believe the latest release from Spectrum Games (who also brought you Cartoon Action Hour Season Two, a game I really do plan to get to. Okay, no plan, but I HOPE to get to it).



I also, uh, hope to share my thoughts on the game after I've had time to read it and kick the tires. Naturally, since I have now posted about this, I will never do it.

What struck me at first glance was the "monster" stat blocks--I love the presentation and am excited about the lightness of rules it suggests.

Here's a sample:



That looks just like the kind of stat block I want to use.
The PCs have moderately long skill lists, which I'm less excited about, and the tone of the rules seems to favor story-oriented and play-acting type gaming (the experience rewards, for example include those for advancing the story), but that will be easy enough to ignore and instead play the right way: treasure and money are your points; points are your only goal.
Even with these quibbles, I am motivated to round up some rounders for a session or two--just as soon as we're done with the Murderworld (Jeff Grubb, 1984) module for for Marvel Super Heroes.
I hope you'll give Wild West Cinema a look as well.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Comic Book Drums?

In stores today!



On my wall tomorrow!

P.S.
This Green Lantern . . . erm. . . Luigi is the guy that sold it to me!
(at Captain Comics, the finest comic shop in Boise)





Monday, January 4, 2010

The Torture-City of the Blue Gloop Super Scientists

Hear! A title that could belong to a Captain Underpants book!

See! That 'Gloop' is probably not an English word but the name of a Roald Dahl character!

Know! Fear of cuddly aliens that look like they came from a DreamWorks movie!






I'm thinking about writing up the dungeon I had planned for the Mutant Earth and giving it to all of you. I'm calling it The Torture-City of the Blue Gloop Super Scientists, in case you hadn't guessed.

It's inspired by Forbidden Planet, Dollhouse, my own fevered fancy (which is little more than a jumble of half-remembered gleanings from pop culture, full of shiny bits like 'Gloop'), and apparently Monsters vs. Aliens, though not intentionally. I might as well watch it now, and steal what I like.

Teasers:

In one dark laboratory, experimental baboons have been kept alive by cyborganic grafts for centuries since the disappearance of their keepers. For some of those centuries alarms, still powered by Infinite Alien Energy, have been shrieking into the baboons' ears, accompanied by spinning red lights. The baboons are not happy.

Not far from the Mad Baboons is a glass-walled tank of cyborganic sharks. It's suspended 20 feet above the floor of a huge empty room, maybe with some banks of blinking and blooping diagnostic machines along the walls. Off to one side there is a large lever-switch-handle sticking up from the floor. I wonder what it does.