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.