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Home Of Superheroes, Supernatural, and Star Stuff

Friday, 23 June 2017

Fleamarket Friday: CRIT HAPPENS!!!

Following on from his wonderful weather dice and mood dice, Andy 'Cosmo-Joe' Watkins of 6d6 Studio is running another Kickstarter for funky dice - this time twenty-siders with a skull for a 20 (indicating a "crit") and a pile of poo for a "1".

The campaign, which runs until July 22, has already rocketed past its initial target of $1,000, with the stretch goals (shown below) unlocking alternate colour choices for the dice:

The dice are being manufactured by Q-Workshop (generally regarded as the 'go-to' people for quality gaming dice) and it's a low-cost buy-in ($5 gets you a single die).

Check out the campaign's Kickstarter page for more info on the dice as well as the investment levels on offer with price reductions when pledging for multiple dice.

Fleamarket Friday: Where Would Batman Be Without Robin?

The Sidekick, an oft-overlooked archetype in superhero RPGs, gets its own class write-up in the latest free offering from Justin Isaac for Jonathan Linneman's OSR superhero project, Light City.
Whether fighting back-to-back with their partner or washing the Heromobile, Sidekicks provide valuable assistance to their hero.
The four-page PDF of The Sidekick, which includes an example of the class - the seventh-level Rainbow Boy - can be found here on RPGNow.

Fleamarket Friday: For A New World There Must Be A New World Order...

Beautiful, shiny box sets...

Next week sees the launch of the Kickstarter to fund production of the highly-anticipated new edition of the venerable Top Secret roleplaying game, from its original creator - Merle M Rasmussen.

Here's the video for the Kickstarter, which lets you know a bit about the game:

Straight off the bat, I love the fact that it comes in a box set, but it also sounds like they've addressed one of my issues with the game mechanics (presumably somehow using the 'dice as stats' method).

In our current campaign, the way the mechanics are designed often makes our adventures feel less like James Bond and more like Scarecrow & Mrs King... where we're all Mrs King.

The impression I get from this is that player-characters will be competent agents (at least mechanically, how you play them is up to you!)

The launch of the Kickstarter is scheduled for 10am Pacific time (6pm in the UK) on Tuesday (June 27).

A sneak peek at what's in the box...

Fleamarket Friday: Experimenting With Wormholes? What Could Go Wrong?

Described as "a sci-fi noir take on the Alice in Wonderland tale", Keir Burrows's Anti Matter tells the tale of Oxford PhD student Ana (Yaiza Figueroa) who succeeds in creating the world’s first artificial wormhole.
Eager to explore her discovery further, Ana steps forward to be the first human test subject, but then finds herself unable to build new memories. The story follows her increasingly desperate efforts to understand what happened, and to find out who - or what - is behind the rising horror in her life.
I do love a good "science experiment goes wrong and wackiness ensues" yarn.

Anti Matter is released to the home video market on July 10.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Super Mail Call Day!

Got some real treasures in today's post, starting off with the gorgeous and hefty, hardback, 500+ page, Illustrated Mahabharata: The Definitive Guide To India's Greatest Epic.

Over the last couple of years I've become besotted with the comic book output of Graphic India, and so - prompted also by some of my favourite episodes of Ancient Aliens - I wanted to learn more about the powerful myths behind them (so I can seed some of them into my Knight City setting).

Talking comics, I also got my Kickstarter edition of the telephone directory-sized Our Valued Customers collection, which I'm exceedingly pleased with.

And finally, with a bit of a sideways nod to Knight City, and thanks to my old pal John Warren for drawing its existence to my attention, I snagged this superb Knight Industries-branded t-shirt from Amazon (because who doesn't want a cool T-shirt with their name on?).

I'm now seriously toying with the idea of opening a branch of Knight Industries in Knight City...

Top Of The Pile: Peter Parker - The Spectacular Spider-Man #1

It's been a long-time since a Marvel title has landed at the top of my "to be read" pile straight out of the fortnightly shipment from Paradox Comics.

But I had high hopes for Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1

I'd enjoyed the taster in Marvel's Free Comic Book Day offering this year (far more than its Secret Empire excerpt) , but the big question was: would it fill the Spidey-shaped hole in my pull-list (and my heart)?

The short answer is "no".

Before I get to the story itself, I want to address the comments made by editor Nick Lowe in his column for the issue, where he states that:
"...with a certain movie coming out next month am a new animated series later this year, we in the comic world wanted to make sure that newly excited Spider-Fans had an easy landing pad."
This would be the blockbuster movie featuring a teenage Peter Parker at High School, right?

Which was exactly what the wonderful Spidey title was doing... before Marvel pulled the plug at the end of last year after only 12 issues.

The Peter Parker in this new comic - and the main Dan Slott-penned title - is a 28-year-old businessman, running the global Parker Industries, a company suit with more in common with Tony Stark than the character in the new movie and cartoon.

Marvel had a comic, a brilliant comic, telling new and wonderful tales of teenage Peter Parker.

Just like the movie. And the upcoming cartoon series.

And they killed it off.

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man
is a good comic, don't get me wrong. But it's playing it safe (even the "big revelation" at the end of the main story isn't exactly earth-shattering).

This first issue feels like a 'side adventure' from the main title; it has yet to establish its own identity (something Spidey did so brilliantly right out of the gate; no, I won't let it go...)

I'm not a particular fan of Chip Zdarsky's writing - his takes on Jughead and Howard The Duck did nothing for me (he's no Steve Gerber that's for sure) - so I picked this up enthusiastically because it was a new Spider-Man title, not because it was a new Chip Zdarsky title.

But I have to say, he has Peter's patter down just right. There's a lyrical rhythm to Zdarsky's dialogue here (and I like his references to previous adventures, manna for a continuity geek like myself, and back issue quests for new readers) , and some nice gags, that'll certainly bring me back for issue two.

I was looking for Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man to wow me. Instead, it simply served up a run-of-the-mill Spider-Man story (admittedly peppered with great humour) that I'll stick with out of loyalty to the character, and the hope that the story takes some clever and unexpected twists and turns down the line.

For The Start Of Summer, Winter Is Here...

[RPG] Indy-cision...

It only took this picture, a behind-the-scenes of Raiders Of The Lost Ark that I'd never seen before, for me to start doubting all my gaming decisions.

It was the pebble that started the avalanche.

The picture of Harrison Ford (Indy) and Karen Allen (Marion) popped up on artist Des Taylor's Facebook feed the other day and suddenly I had an overwhelming urge to run a pulp adventure game - specifically my beloved Hollow Earth Expedition (HEX) - instead of my planned superhero game.

I'd already been thinking about HEX as I'm considering adding a 'lost world' element to my Knight City setting (my much-discussed and long-planned Villains & Vigilantes 3.0 campaign).

However, my doubts were compounded after our fun-filled evening of gaming this week, which was jam-packed with high adventure (and I got the chance to be a bit heroic), but certainly not conducive to a comic book superhero mindset.

Then the trailers for Robert Redford's The West on the History Channel have got me thinking about Westerns again (not that any one else in the group has ever expressed an interest in that particular genre), and the fact that that gun-totting desperadoes might better suit the temperament of The Tuesday Knights.

I'm also still toying around with an idea, from way-back, of reskinning Swords & Wizardry for a contemporary setting, with a heavy Supernatural influence, that would see the player-characters as modern monster hunters.

My issue is the Tuesday Knights only meet once a month, for a few hours, so need to squeeze in maximum gaming - which is why I like to run my games (when I'm behind the screen) at a frenetic speed when applicable.

That's a lot of time away from the table for me to think about gaming, and only a little time to actually do it.

None of us are getting any younger and that's why I'm looking for a game and setting, for when I get back behind the gamesmaster's screen, that will have legs.

No dicking about, no bailing because a system doesn't gel etc

It's always been my dream to front a "forever campaign" (inspired by Aaron Allston's Strike Force and similar legendary games from the hobby's early days), but I need to find my focus, stop dithering, and stay on target.


Steven Moffat Introduces The First Part Of The Doctor Who Season Finale...

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

[RPG] Well, That Went About As Well As Could Be Expected...

When In Doubt, Start Shooting...

I'm pretty sure that in the ORION dictionary of acronyms next to the phrase SNAFU there's a picture of our group of highly-skilled operatives.

The Tuesday Knights' clandestine infiltration of the possible WEB base on Spike Island, off the south coast of Ireland, picked up last night from where we left off last month in our latest session of Pete's Top Secret SI campaign.

We recovered rather well from the 'accidental' killing of two Russian guards and continued our stealthy investigation of the main part of the building complex.

Having discovered a pair of parallel corridors running through the centre of the building, we went to check out the rooms off of each, wary to creating any noise, and making the best of the ambient light available from the floodlights outside covering the helipad.

We spied a pair of - we presumed - techies working over a computer in one office and decided to leave them alone for the time being.

Several offices and store rooms later, having turned up empty boxes, packaged computers, and a load of paper files written in Russian, we were checking out the final office when a guard stumbled upon us.

Bruno (Kevin's character) captured him, and with Ivy's (Erica's character) help bundled him into a spare room and cold-cocked him.

There was an assumption that he was one of the two techs from the other room, so Big Mac (Simon's character), Hermione (Clare's character), both armed with stolen AK47s, and Barry (my character) went to check - while the other two stood watch.

Turns out we were wrong, and the two techs were still in there. But one spotted us as Mac peered in the glass portal.

Mac kicked open the door and let rip with a burst of AK47 fire...

...and all hope of a stealth mission went out the window.

The two techs were taken out. Hermione snatched the floppy disc from the computer they were working on and bolted.

Ivy followed her.

I went to check the window, to see just how much trouble we were in.

There were armed guards and guards with attack dogs approaching from the direction of the helipad.

So a lot of trouble.

Before I could react the window had been shot out by a spray of machine gun fire from one of the approaching guards, so I took a defensive position below the window sill to draw their fire and allow the others time to escape.

I took out the first guard with a single shot to the head.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, Mac and Bruno found themselves pinned down by more guards and so had to beat a retreat.

Hermione and Ivy made it to the wall around the fort and waited for everyone to catch up.

As the loosed guard dogs bore down on my position at the open window, Bruno gave me the nod to make a break for it, pulling the office door closed behind me - hopefully slowing the slavering dogs a bit.

At this point, the helicopter on the helipad was starting to take off.

We scrambled, a bit cack-handedly, on top of the bund wall around the fort, and covering the others, Bruno unslung his rifle and took a couple of shots at the helicopter: the second taking out the spotlight it was sweeping the area with.

Our group then made a break for it across open ground towards the small woods, behind which we would find the beach where we had left our boats when we arrived.

A couple of lucky shots from the gunman in the helicopter grazed Hermione on the back as she ran, but nothing serious and we all made it safe and sound to the treeline.

To be continued...

Ivy's "animal friendship" trait became a source of much mirth and she was nicknamed Snow White...

[GUEST POST] Darna - Whatever You Do Don't Call Her Wonder Woman...

If you really want to piss off a Filipino comic book fan compare that country's uber-famous superhero, Darna, with Wonder Woman. Trust me I did that in one of my articles and I caught an earful from a die-hard fan.

In my defence, however, the only photos I saw of Darna were from a movie version produced by Viva Films. As I was informed - by the aforementioned fan - that was a cheaply made film that did indeed copy Wonder Woman but all other incarnations of the character differ from her in numerous ways.

Darna's appearance may somewhat resemble that of Wonder Woman but her powers were actually modelled after Superman.

Darna has always been able to fly, an ability that Wonder Woman originally did not possess.

Even though Darna wears large metal bracelets, she doesn't need them to stop bullets and the like. Her skin is an impenetrable barrier just like Superman. Projectiles bounce right off of her.

As we all know, Wonder Woman is an Amazon princess. Her powers come from superior diet, training... and, well, that mysterious Bermuda Triangle.

Darna is an alien. All of her powers come from her extraterrestrial origin, just like Superman.

Like I said before, Darna is ultra-popular in the Philippines. The character has appeared in an endless string of comic books, TV series and movies since 1947.

Lets take a look at Darna's long and glorious history:

Dara was created by Filipino komiks' (Philippine colloquial term for comics) legend Mars Ravelo.

In her more popular incarnations, she is a warrior from outer space manifesting herself through a girl from Earth, named Narda.

Darna was originally known as Varga and first appeared in Bulaklak Magazine, Volume 4, #17, on July 23, 1947.

Ravelo had differences with the editors of Bulaklak Magazine and Varga's name was changed to "Darna". The character was re-launched on May 13, 1950. Nestor Redondo drew the first Darna.

Regardless of her many incarnations, the 1950's origin of Darna begins with a village girl named Narda who finds a small white stone, a tiny meteorite from outer space. Narda swallows the stone and shouts "Darna!" - becoming a mighty warrior ready to defend Earth from evil forces.

Darna's first adventure (as Darna) was serialized in the pages of Pilipino Komiks #77, where she was pitted against the sultry snake goddess Valentina. Here, Narda, a young girl, swallows the stone, which has the word Darna on it, and transforms into Darna by shouting the name.

Likewise, Darna turns back into Narda by shouting her name.

The stone, from the planet Marte, stays in her body, and her secret is known to her grandmother, and her brother Ding, who becomes her sidekick. The superheroine quickly gained popularity among Filipino comic book readers.

Starting in 1951, several Darna movies were made.

Some made from 1973 onward starred the future multi-awarded dramatic actress and politician Vilma Santos.

In these 1970s films, Darna's origin was changed; no longer a little girl, Narda was now in her late teens.

Also, she herself becomes Darna, unlike the original where she just "channels" her (not unlike Jason Blood and Etrigan).

Only Ding knows her secret in this version.

Also, the stone comes out of Narda's mouth every time she changes back; she has to swallow it every time she wants to transform (this became standard for following versions).

Darna is not specified as coming from Marte, just as a "warrior of Light". This version of Darna became most people's idea of the character for about three decades.

A catchphrase popularized by the movies and said by Narda runs: "Ding, ang bato!" ("Ding, [give me] the stone!")

A TV series was also produced in 1977. Created by Ketchie Benedicto and airing on KBS 9, Darna! The TV Series starred another future multi-awarded dramatic actress, Lorna Tolentino, as Darna/Narda.

In 2003, an award-winning Darna miniseries was published by Mango Comics, with major input from Ravelo's family.

This version showed Narda as a college student who first found the stone 10 years before. However, the details of Darna's origin was changed again: her race of "Adarna Warriors" originally came from the planet Tiamat, as did Valentina's, the "Serpent Queens".

Darna & Valentina
Their respective peoples had warred for many years. On Tiamat, Darna's race used artificial wings, reminiscent of the Hawkmen and Hawkwomen of Thanagar, while Valentina's race was reminiscent of Nagas as well as Gorgons.

Because of the war between the Adarna Warriors and the Serpent Queens, they fled the planet Tiamat and went to the planet Nibiru, also known as Marte.

of GMA Network and Hugo Yonzon, current license holder of Darna and head of Mango Comics, signed a licensing agreement for a new Darna television series.

It premiered in Filipino homes on April 11, 2005 and garnered a 47.1% rating according to AGB, making it one of the highest rated pilot episodes ever in Philippine television.

During the fourth episode, it garnered 52.1% overnight ratings from AGB, the highest rating yet for the show because this was the episode that Narda transforms into Darna for the first time.

Filipino actress Angel Locsin starred as Darna. The television series ended Friday, November 25, 2005.

A lot of changes and new material were added for this incarnation of Darna.

The show follows the original with Narda finding the stone as a child, but she only becomes Darna and discovers her powers at age eighteen.

It follows the 2003 comics in making Darna part of an alien race (the Adranika of Marte) who fought another alien race of serpent people (called the Anomalka).

However, many new allies and enemies were invented for the show, as well as more backstory. Notably, Narda and the (half-Anomalkan, half-human) Valentina are half-sisters.

Weird Wednesday...

Wonder Woman Wednesday...

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

[RPG] For Tonight We Game...

Spike Island: It's really a place...

Tonight, the Tuesday Knights resume their (not so) stealthy infiltration of Spike Island, a possible base of WEB operations, in Pete's Top Secret SI campaign.

This will be the fourth episode of the second season of Pete's campaign (although now time-shifted back to the 1980s, to homage the game's publication date).

Today is also Clare's birthday - so there will be cake for the Tuesday Knights! As well as the usual pizza and garlic bread...

Weekly World News: Probing The Extent Of Alien Involvement In Earthly Affairs...

From sentient galaxies (which is actually a thing) to errant alien lovers, if you want to know the true extent of alien involvement in the affairs of man (and woman), then look no further than the Weekly World News.

Unafraid to tell it like it is, the Weekly World News is a perfect gamesmasters' source of plot hooks and NPC ideas, as this selection of alien-themed stories demonstrates.

Double Trouble From Missy And The Master As The Doctor's End Draws Near...

Wonder Woman And Conan: A Team-Up Several Millennia In The Making...

It's one of those comic book team-ups you're surprised to learn is only coming to fruition now.

Robert E Howard's iconic Conan The Barbarian is partnering with Princess Diana of Themyscira aka Wonder Woman for a six-issue collaboration from DC Comics and Dark Horse, kicking off on September 20.

And it's going to be written by fan-favourite Gail Simone, renowned for her work on Wonder Woman and Red Sonja as well as plenty of other titles. Art is by Aaron Lopresti, with ink from Matt Ryan, and colours by Wendy Broome.

To learn more about Wonder Woman/Conan, a match made in Themyscira, check out Den Of Geek.

Presenting The Finished Cover Art For The New Edition of Villains & Vigilantes...

Artist and co-writer Jeff Dee has released into the wild the cover art for the new edition of Villains & Vigilantes aka The Mighty Protectors.

Note the nods to the cover art of previous editions: the computer banks from first edition and skyline from second edition as the characters burst through parallel universes into the new age of Third Edition.
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