Friday, November 30, 2012

An Update Infernal

The above is Mammon, boss of the Pluton family, ably rendered by Jeremy (that Dandy in the Underworld). More images of Hell's hoods are forthcoming.  I figured it was time to update the Weird Adventures Index with a the whole rogues gallery.  Check out these posts if you missed them the first time:

     Andras: "Hell's Hoods: The Owl"
     Avernus family: "Hell's Hoods: Meet the Avernus Family"
     Belial: "Hell's Hoods: Sin's Queen"
     Bifrons: "Hell's Hoods: Two-Faced Politician"
     Mammon: "Hell's Hoods: The Fat Man"
     Moloch: "Hell's Hoods: The Bull"
     Pluton family: "Hell's Hoods: Casino Infernale"

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Carnival of Lost Souls

In last night's Weird Adventures game, the gang (this time consisting of Cornelius, Diabolico, and Loone) returned to the Carnival Pandemonium--but in daylight this time. Sounds came from the carnival that suggested it was doing brisk business.

Many things in the carnival seemed design to mess with them (well, because they were). Music and sounds were recorded, not real, but the record player they emanated from wasn't working either. The escaping prisoner targets in the shooting gallery had the faces of our heroes.

They decided to take a ride on the "Tomb of Horrors" ride. After passing several gruesome scenes of simulated torturer, they came upon a very real undead gunslinger. Amazingly, Diabolico managed to get a shot off before Deadeye and blow his gun hand off! Cornelius grabbed his other pistol with his bullwhip. The defeated Deadeye disappeared into darkness.

The gang followed and found a door. It was like a stage prop: just a door and frame attached to nothing. He could be opened from either side and led to...some place else. A place with three more doors. After some investigation, the gang stepped through.

Each of the three chose a door and opened it in unison. Colorful smoke came billowing out, and they were unable to escape it. Loone found himself in a another space with the wounded Deadeye trying to bandage his hand. Marzo showed up to tempt Loone: and to possibly absorb Deadeye into the palm of his hand. "The price of failure," he said.

Loone wasn't about to trade his soul. He managed to confuse Marzo momentarily with his mental powers. Long enough to escape back into the first room, at any rate.

Diabolico wound up in a space with Polly the Rubber Girl reclining on a couch. Diabolico might as well have been Boris this whole adventure. He started shooting without so much as a "hello." Polly was quick, though and wound up with her thighs around his neck, strangling him. Diabolico still managed to put a bullet in her and free himself. After that, it was easy to finish her off.

Cornelius found himself facing Chandoo the Mystic. The old man was seated in the lotus position, seemingly an easy target. When Cornelius tried to put his whip around the mystic's neck. He found that he wasn't anywhere close to where he appeared to be. He was using Eastern techniques to cloud Cornelius's mind! He made his whip appear to be a snake and Cornelius dropped it. His keenly honed senses allowed him to draw enough of a bead that he was able to wing his assailant. The mystic attacked more directly, but Cornelius was luckier and did him in. Chandoo's fake accent of the mysterious East dropped as he was dying.

Cornelius refused Marzo's offer and was released. Diabolico refused by shooting the Viscount. Again, Marzo seemed only mildly discomforted, so Diabolico punched him.  Marzo responded by putting a stilletto in Diabolico's gut.

Gravely wounded, Diabolico was tossed out the door to his friends. An examined showed what appeared to be blood on his clothes, but no actual wound! Loone used his mental abilities to help Diabolico realize the injury was illusionary.

By the time that was done, the doors were gone. The carnival now seemed utterly mundane and run down.

Marzo was gone.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: The Uxmal Encounter (part 2)

Let's re-enter the lost world with another installment of my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"The Uxmal Encounter"
Warlord Annual #5 (1986)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Art by Adam Kubert

Synopsis: Morgan and the Hawaiian shirt wearing Doug are rising quickly toward the surface on a sky-sled, pursued by Skartarian Mayans. Morgan uses his stolen laser to blast away at the side of the tunnel, causing a rock fall that crushes the Mayans.

Meanwhile, in a secret CIA installation the destruction of the base by the Mayans is discussed. Agents are sent to Colombia to make sure it’s not the Cubans or the Soviets using laser weapons. In KGB headquarters in Moscow, agents are also dispatched to investigate the strange happenings, as well.

Morgan drops Doug off in Mexico after swearing him to secrecy about what he's seen. Morgan plans to head back into the tunnels and find some way to close them off. While he’s on the surface, he’s sighted by the CIA agents in a jet. They think he’s one of the Mayans. The pilot, Redmond, is a bit trigger-happy. He shoots a couple of missiles Morgan's way:

They take Morgan to their base to interrogate him.They give him a megavitamin shot to keep him alive (kids, don’t try this at home!). Redmond’s superiors find out they've got Lt. Col. Travis Morgan who disappeared about a decade ago, and they’re keen on finding out where he’s been.They give Redmond 24 hours to get them answers.

Caroline,Redmond’s partner, frees Morgan to take him to Air Force intelligence. She says Redmond has gone off the deep end and she won’t be party to his extra-harsh interrogation techniques. It’s a trick though: Redmond’s informed of what’s going on. And, as they steal an F-15, so is the KGB: game plan “Janus” is in effect.

Morgan flies over Uxmal where Mayan flying craft are emerging--a fleet of 31. With his superior skill at flying (and the “ultrasonic cannon” the CIA have equipped the F-15 with)  Morgan takes them all out.  No sooner is that done, than Caroline shows her true colors. She threatens Morgan with a hypodermic needle if he doesn’t fly out of the ocean. She’s a KGB double agent and she plans for them to meet a submarine. Morgan’s got other plans:

Caroline gets ejected.

The jet’s low on fuel, but Morgan manages to land if safely (barely) near the edge of a cliff. It turns out the Mayan priest has crashed there as well and he’s got a gun trained on Morgan. Thinking quickly, Morgan deploys the plane’s drogue parachute:

So long, high priest.

Morgan commandeers the Mayan’s flier (which isn’t all that damaged) and heads back to Skartaris, hoping Shakira won’t be too angry with him for being late for breakfast.

In the days that follow there's political fallout from the “Uxmal Encounter.” The U.S. President orders that information about the events remain secret until they know exactly what the hell happened. In Moscow, Caroline reports to her masters who reprimand her for losing Morgan, but decide to return her to her undercover work rather than send her to the gulag. Redmond, confused by events, vows to to not stop trying to uncover the truth.

Things to Notice:
  • CIA agent Stryker knew about Travis Morgan way back in issue #13. Did he not tell his superiors or was a report misfiled?
  • Ronald Reagan makes his first appearance in an issue of Warlord.
Where it Comes From:
The F-15 Eagle first flew in July of 1972 and was introduced into service in 1976. Morgan tells Caroline he's "cleared" for flight of an F-15, but since he's been in Skartaris (for the most part) since 1969, that seems unlikely.

This issue makes a lot of use of the Cold War backdrop, but 1986 was actually an era of lessening tensions. Gorbachev and Reagan gave televised joint addresses to the people of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.  in January. Commercial flights between the two nations resumed in April of that year, having been suspended in 1978. A various meetings and summits were held throughout the year with an aim at reducing the nuclear threat and some of them led to lasting treaties. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mugshots from the Weird Adventures Companion

This ugly mug is the hobogoblin croaker (shaman) Cheroot. He'll be appearing in the Weird Adventures Companion along with several other adversaries for PCs, including Waxy Moldoon and Heironymus Gaunt.

Art for the portraits of these characters was done by Loston Wallace. Here's Gaunt:

Sunday, November 25, 2012


A King Mob or Mobstrosity is a human swarm: a regular rabble changed by rare conditions to a strange entity of singular purpose. The people making up the entity never appear to communicate but nevertheless move and act with uncanny coordination. A mobstrosity never forms from less than 20 individuals and seldom more than a 150. It seldom dissipates without blood being spilled.

In game terms a mobstrosity acts like a swarm (and has the usual characteristics of such) except that it's made up of medium sized creatures. Any to-hit roll but a "1" hits a mobstrosity, but it only takes half damage from piercing or stabbing weapons. Attack from the vanguard or outer edge of a mobstrosity does 2d6 points of damage per round. Being engulfed or trampled by it deals 5d6 per round.

Mobstrosities are best defeated not by direct engagement but by removal of the thing that led to its formation. This is often a spell or a cursed item of some sort. When a nidus for its creation can't be found, it's most prudent to get out of the area of the swarm. There are reports of the peculiar madness of a mobstrosity  being infectious and drawing new members into it.

HD 15+  AC: 10 (see above) Attacks: 1 swarm (see above) Save: F1 (has certain spell immunities due to its nature)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving


I hope has a great Thanksgiving! May your turkey be well-dressed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: The Uxmal Encounter

Let's re-enter the lost world with another installment of my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"The Uxmal Encounter"
Warlord Annual #5 (1986)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Art by Adam Kubert

Synopsis: Tourists are visiting the ruins of the Mayan city of Uxmal. One of the them, the Hawaiian shirted and plaid socks wearing Douglas Wendell, goes inside a building to try out his new camera and runs right into a real-live Mayan warrior!

A little while later in Skartaris, Morgan is doing a little early morning exploring when he’s attacked by Mayans on a flying platform. He returns fire but, there are just too many of them. They capture him and take him back to their city:

Morgan notices a guy in a Hawaiian shirt toiling with the Mayan’s other captives. There leader explains (in Skartarian, I suppose) how they've been building here for generations since they passed through a cave from the surface world and now they’re ready to return and restart the Mayan Empire.

The high priest calls on Kukulkan to receive Douglas as a sacrifice. An image of a feathered serpent begins to form. Morgan surmises it’s an Atlantean “hologram” created by the priest’s staff--though as long as the hologram's “energized” it’s solid-- and deadly.

Morgan makes his escape and grabs a futuristic weapon from one of them. He shoots the priest’s staff and dissipates the hologram, but there’s only one of him and hundreds of Mayans. Xtala, the Mayan ruler, offers Morgan a chance of survival: survive an ordeal in the Path of Penance, and win a boon.

Morgan agrees, but the king double-crosses him and has him thrown in the Well of Endless Sorrow.

Soon, an installation of Americans and Colombian allies involved in the war on drugs is overrun by the Skartarian Mayans. The Mayan invasion of the surface world has begun.

Meanwhile, Morgan finds himself pulled from the well by agents of the king. It appears Xtala has changed his mind. He wants to know the secret of the high priest's staff so he can quit sharing power. Morgan’s willing to make a deal, but the priest shows up, and it's on!

While they fight, Morgan slips away. He grabs Douglas and a sky platform. They head into the cave to the surface. The high priest won the fight with the king and is soon in pursuit.

Things to Notice:
  • The Mayans' speech is completely intelligible to Morgan (and apparently Douglas) for some reason.
Where it Comes From:
Uxmal is a real Mayan city found in the modern Mexican state of Yucatán. The technology employed by the Mayans resembles that we've seen used before by Deimos and his ancestor Daamon with good reason: it all presumably has Atlantis as its source.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Elves' New Skin

I did a post a before on putting a fresh spin on the classic D&D races by giving them a new visual.

So this guy to the left will now be one of the ulthona--who mechanically are elves.  Here's some other things we know about them:

1. All ulthona are male (or at least only males are ever encountered).
2. They swear (on the rare occasion their unflappability is perturbed) by "the Great Intellects."
3. They often seem emotionless and distant to other races.
4. There were only a finite number of ulthona intelligences created in the distant past. Each intelligence reincarnates when its old form dies.
5. Each ulthona seeks an object called an ojalv that holds individual meaning and can take any form.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Meet Carnival Pandemonium

After our last Weird Adventures game, Cornelius Doyle and Don Diabolico went to do some research to find out more about their foes. This is what they found out:

Marzo, Orlando Vincenzo Rodomonte Visconte di, the assumed name of an adventurer, courtier, thaumaturgist (or charlatan), and likely confidence trickster active in the latter half of the 58th Century. Some sources place his origins much earlier, but this may be only so much propaganda. His detractors appear accurate in their assertion that he was no nobleman of the Vitellian League, at least in the sense that no viscounty of Marzo is known to have existed.

Marzo’s primary attribute seems to have been his ability to insinuate himself into the courts of various Ealderdish nobles their his theatrical use of magical power. He has been derided as a mere illusionist by some, while others have embraced that mantle and championed him as the secret founder of the Brotherhood of Illusion.

Marzo’s fame was such that even long after his likely death he figures into legend. Several adventurers over the past half century have claimed to have encountered Marzo who sought to act as an agent for infernal powers looking to acquire souls. Whether these encounters are mere fabulations, the actions of pretenders, or brushes with an immortal magician are the subject of debate. [from The Practioners of the Art (Roodmas, 5802).]

Deadeye: Stage name of Jonas Early, a sharpshooter in Bucksnort Bill's Wild West Show. He toured with the show from 5833 until his death in 5838. Early died from infection after having been shot in a quarrel over a gambling debt. After display at the Wild West Show, his body disappeared before he could be buried. During life his life, rumor attributed Early's skill with firearms to a pact he had made with a devil--a rumor Early did nothing to discourage. [from The Wild West Shows and Their Performers (Weedle, 5877).]

Polly the Rubber Girl: Polly Ethel Leane was born in 5844. Gifted with unusual flexibility, she became a contortionist and dancer, performing in vaudeville theaters in the City. She died of an ether overdose in 5869. [from The Vaudevillians (Smoal, 5882).]

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mail Order Magic Item: The Horror Mask

This is another of those minor magic items that occasional shows up for mail order, supplied by sources unknown (and possibly extraplanar) for some inscrutable purpose.

When worn, the mask is unsettling beyond its appearance alone. Any creature below 5 HD viewing it must make a saving throw or be shaken and at a -2 to all attack rolls or saving throws. Even if a saving throw is successfully made the wearer is better able to intimidate those they deal with (bonus to reaction rolls to do so).

There is a 10% change (cumulative with each wearing greater than 5 minutes) that the mask will somehow become affixed to the wearer's face and only removal by magical means.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Carnival of Evil

In last night's Weird Adventures game, gentleman thief Don Diabolico and former lion tamer Cornelius Doyle found themselves confronting the supernatural as just a duo.

It started with a message from Philo Markham, a confidence man and friend of Diabolico. The two went to meet him at a waterfront warehouse full of circus and carnival equipment. Despite the fact they heard what seemed to be his voice, Markham was found dead. A knife in his back pinned a flyer to him: an advertisement for the Carnival Pandemonium in Rookend.

Investigation revealed there was a Carnival there, but it seemed old and abandoned--until they stepped inside and the lights came on. They entered through the giant head of a laughing devil. A show began courtesy of one Viscount Orlando Vincenzo Rodomonte Marzo. He admitted to killing Markham to lure "Team Victory" to him, and he expressed disappointment only two of them had come.

Diabolico shot the over-theatric murderer, only to have Marzo rise to his feet again after invoking the intercession of dark powers. Cornelius and Diabolic thought it best to retreat at that point, but the way was blocked by zombie roustabouts!

Our heroes were forced to retreat into the big tent. There, Marzo appeared again and introduced his confederates: the undead pistoleer Deadeye, Chaundoo the Mystic of the East, and Polly the Rubber Girl. He invited Diabolico and Cornelius to join their fellowship.  He promised his employers would grant them all the money and power they desired; they need only sign over their immortal souls.

Cornelius and Diabolico made a break for it. They narrowly avoided a trapdoor on the way out. Once out of the tent, the carnival appeared deserted again.  They headed for their car and home, determined to find out what they could about this new foe.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: Bride of Yaug

Let's re-enter the lost world with another installment of my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"Bride of Yaug"
Warlord #107 (July 1986)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Art by Ron Randall

Synopsis: Morgan, Shakira, and Damon (still suffering from the crossbow wound) cross a rocky desert on the way to the legendary Greenfire Sea and the House of the Celestials where the wizard Hagar-Zinn is said to dwell. On the way they encounter hungry sand squids and a blinding simoon that drives them unexpectedly toward a lost city.

Entering the city,they’re captured by greenskinned men. The leader of the city arrives and commands our heroes be freed. He introduces himself as Wauk and his people as The Sons of Yaug.  They aren’t the least bit creepy:

Well, maybe a little. Anyway, the Sons of Yaug offer the trio their hospitality. They treat our heroes to a feast and offer them a place to stay the night.

Morgan wakes up sort of woozy, like he’s been drugged and finds Shakira missing. He rouses Damon to help him look for her. They hear chanting coming from beneath the floor. Morgan locates a trapdoor. They follow a stairway down and find:

Sword raised, Morgan leaps on Yaug. While Morgan fights the monster, Damon runs in and frees Shakira.

Yaug proves impervious to Morgan’s blade. Morgan has to improvise:

Morgan runs out of the temple and finds Damon and Shakira waiting with the horses. The three ride off to continue their quest as the city burns behind them.

While all this is going on, Mariah and Machiste are suffering at the hands of the torturers of Unmschal. Machiste watches in horror as Mariah dies under a volley of arrows in front of him. Never guessing it was a sorcerous illusion, he refuses to speak with Mariah who calls to him from the neighboring cell.

When the torturers come for her, Mariah overpowers one and grabs a sword. She forces them to open Machiste’s cell. With a captured Ummschal wizard-priest, the two run for the beach. They force the mage to re-animate the skeletal crew to man the bone boat.

The bone boat is launched, but the wizard-priest warns that his brethren will stop them--even it it means his life is forfeit. No sooner has he said that than a towering warrior-shape rises, formed from the ocean waves themselves!

Things to Notice:
  • Unmschal is spelled Ummschal here.
  • Yaug on the cover looks pretty different from how he appears in the issue itself.
Where it Comes From:
This issue is very much in the pulp Sword & Sorcery (and older Warlord) tradition. We've seen cultists bent on sacrificing our heroes in issues  3, 23, 39, 48, 102 among others. Interestingly, in many Grell-penned issues it's Morgan and not his female companion imperiled.  The dying race looking to breed and extend their numbers trope shows up in issue 18.

Monday, November 12, 2012


"The Blank" is the name given to an individual (or more likely, a series of individuals) responsible for sporadic crimes in the City. The Blank appears as the outline of a person; otherwise they are completely white and featureless, like a figure left unfinished in the painting of the world.

In addition his unusual appearance, the Blank is resistant to harm and capture. He walks away from gunfire or other assaults that should have been fatal. Magic likewise seems unable to effect him directly.

What is unknown to the authorities (and perhaps everyone but the person who currently has it) is that the blank effect is the result of a magic item:  A silvery dinner suit, flashy like something a stage performer might wear. When the suit is donned, the person wearing it can watch in a mirror as they "fade" into the blank.

Attempts to discover the suits origins prove fruitless. The tag is worn, but appears to list it's manufacturer as "NOX." No clothier of that name is known.

In addition to making the wearer unrecognizable (and having the side effect of distorting their voice), the wearer has AC 0 and takes half damage from any mundane weapon. Magical weapons deal "normal" weapon damage without any bonuses. The wearer is also immune to any directly aimed magic. Magics that deal damage through a physical effect (like a fireball) can effect the wearer at half damage.

While wearing the suit an individual is able to perceive the etheric layers of the Material plane and with experience, the near Astral. The kaleidoscope of lurid colors and outre images can be highly disorienting until a wearer become use to it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Weird Days in the City

In the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, Gygax famously said that you can't can't have a meaningful campaign unless strict time records are kept. With that in mind, here's the basic timeline of the event in my G+ Weird Adventures, with special emphasis on the rumors and reports that might be of interest to others.

The current year is 3888. (For more on the calendar of the City, go here.)

26 Swelter: From the City Inquirer:
"MANIAC CAPTURED! ELDRITCH VALLEY SLEEPS SAFELY AGAIN: Tranquility has been restored to the usually quiet communities of the Eldritch Valley.  Fennix Orgo, the so-called 'Shrike' killer, has been apprehended by law enforcement and returned to the Blufton Sanitarium, where he is to spend the rest of his days.  Orgo was responsible for at least seven deaths by brutal, bestial means, including the murder of Jon Wyllard by impalement--a grisly deed which earned him his nickname."
The Shrike will escape again in a little over a year.

Redfall: From the tabloids:
"It seems John Vandemaur, heir to the Vandemaur's fortune, has scandalized his family and the Old Money set in general after taking up with a former dime-a-dance gal from Hoborxen.  Matriarch Urania's blue blood has supposedly been set to a boil by her eldest's discussion of putting a ring on this unfamilied lass from across the river."
John Vandemaur marries this girl from Hoborxen, Viviane, after a short courtship.

3 Bluster: From the tabloid The Tattler:
"SOCIETY GAL GOES GHOUL: A 'Wild' debutante has been getting a taste of the City's night-life, all right--unless the nightlife's tasting her!  We hear she's quite taken with a beau of the ghoulish persuasion.  Is this a case of love being blind?  Or maybe it's just too dark in Undertown?" 
The story refers to Sue Ann Wilde whose doomed love with a brooding ghoul hoodlum, Dean, will only survive a little over a week from this point.

16 Bluster: A group of operatives working for Celebrity Private Investigator Heward Kane are hired by Viviane Vandemaur to retrieve the body of her departed husband from Barrow Island (the beginning of the events of the adventure "The Night City").

Ripened: Cyrus Westerly died 10 years ago, but in accordance with his wishes, his estate has yet to be settled. Westerly’s lawyer and executor, Rothger Croston, has summoned the five potential heirs to the remote and decaying Westerly Mansion on the Eldritch, north of the City. It’s rumored the will has some eccentric provisions (So begins the events of the adventure "Night of the Shrike.")

After the positive press Don Diabolico, Boris Brovsky, and Erskine Loone get from solving the Westerly case, Heward Kane makes them a franchise of his agency and sets them up with their own office near Pentacle Park.

Soon after, the events of the adventure "Heart of the Machine" begin.

2 Harvest: From the City Herald:
"SOON PLANES MAY FLY THEMSELVES: Hew Hazzard, owner and chief officer of Zephyrus Aerocraft, announced the appointment of Silas Atwill to lead the coordination of his Automata Division. Hazzard spoke of his vision of automata flown aircraft and flying devices that could aid mankind in a myriad of ways. 
Dr Atwill has been an engineer with Zephyrus Aircraft for several years and a member of Mr. Hazzard's "inner circle" of innovators."
3 Harvest: Erness "Snuffy" Smite, caretaker at the Greasy Lake Scrapyard, is found dead along with his wife and two teenage children. There is evidence that they all suffered from wereratism.

7 Harvest: Zephyrus Aerocraft is assaulted by automata.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Midnight Hour

The Midnight Hour is a stolen fragment of time: 60 illicit minutes secreted away in an antique pocket watch with a "man in the moon" hunter case. The captured hour is from eleven to midnight, hence the name.

The watch doesn't keep regular time. Instead, when the watch is wound, it uses up the stolen minutes. The user does so by winding the watch, closing it's lid, then re-opening it. Until the lid is closed again, the watch ticks down the captured hour. Though the hour proceeds normally for the possessor the world beyond is at a standstill, frozen in time. Frozen except for one thing: The sky turns to night for the duration of the watch's operation.

If the stories are to be believed, it pays to be cautious and only use a minute or two at the time. Weird things from the Astral Plane seep in between the moments as the Midnight Hour slips by.  They're drawn to the watch like moths to a flame. They have strange names: the Velveteen Horror, the Creeping Doomster, the Loneliness That Grins, Something Ugly, The Hole in the All, the Pain that Remembers, the Silence Between Sobs, She Loves Not--and others, found in obscure texts. No one has ever seen one and been able to describe it beyond vague, fear-informed impressions. Those owners of the watch they get a hold of are never seen again in living human form.

The other caution given regarding the Midnight Hour is that every minute used is an hour taken off the possessor's life. These are not just shaved from one's last days; they are sometimes pivotal moments, perhaps, taken from random points in a person's life. To use the watch is to gamble the time it grants against what might be lost.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Machineries of Night

In last night's G+ Weird Adventures game, our heroes returned to Zephyrus Aerocraft to find the place had been attacked by more automata. Diabolico, impulsive as ever, drove his car into one of the tarrying constructs, destroying it and catching a second on fire--but also destroying his roadster!

Hazzard told them the cultists and their automata dug up from underneath his lab.  They broke into the geodesic dome structure and stole the heartspring.  They now had all they needed to resurrect the Machineries of Night.

The team was determined to go after them.  Hazzard supplied them each with an experimental electroblaster rifle to destroy automata. They only had 5 charges each. He also gave them a couple of concussive grenades and a grappling hook gun.

Following the tunnel they encountered a few Eisenmensch, which they made short work of.  Finally, they arrive in a large chamber where the automata were dumping the Machineries of Night (brought from Greasy Lake, no doubt) from their holds into a pit. The mysterious Master stood above it with the dodecahedron. More Eisenmensch were on hand, as well. The glittering, minute cogs of the Machineries moved as if stirred by dust devils that began to grow larger.

The gang went on the attack, blasting Eisenmensch and automata with the electroblasters. Not being use to the weapons, they missed as often as they hit and soon they were out of shots.  Still, the Eisenmensch weren't a much for them and were soon down. But the Master remained.

Playing a hunch, Loone confronted the Master about the attempted murder of Carmody, calling the mysterious figure "Olimpia." With face-mask removed, the Master was revealed as Carmody's beautiful automaton. She claimed that Carmody had not been murdered but had surrendered his body willing to gain an immortal artificial body in service of the Machineries of Night. His brain was traumatized by the procedure and he lost his memory.

In the ensuing battle, Boris shot the dodecahedron from her hand and Diabolico managed to turn a botched attack into a chance to grab the device. Olimpia attacked him to retrieve it.  Shots from Boris and Cornelius damaged and distracted her, allowing Diabolico the chance to snatch her energy rod from her.

He used it's disintegration beam to destroy the dodecahedron (greatly wounding himself in the ensuing explosion) while Boris killed Olimpia with another shot.

Battered and weary, the gang turned the technology over to Hazzard. He also promised to take care of Carmody's brain.  Our heroes were left to worry what Hazzard might do with all this, but they didn't have a better option.  And there was the fact he promised to pay them and replace Diabolico's car.

It's a hell of a way to make a living!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: The Secret of the Crystal Skull

Let's re-enter the lost world with another installment of my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"The Secret of the Crystal Skull"
Warlord #106 (June 1986)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Art by Ron Randall

Synopsis: Morgan and Shakira ride into Shalmandar, the farthest point on the map, closer to their goal of the Greenfire Sea and the wizard Hagar-Zinn.  Morgan hopes Hagar-Zinn can save his daughter from a magical malady of rapid aging.

Shakira seems startled by something: a wanted poster showing a man wearing a collar just like Shakira’s. 

A woman’s cry distracts Morgan from further consideration. He rides in and makes short work of the ruffians attacking her palanquin. The woman is Ladah Panar, member of prominent family, who was traveling into town with quite a bit of gold to give alms to the poor. She recognizes Morgan as the hero of the New Atlantean War and offers our heroes the hospitality of her home.

Ladah Panar’s “house” is practically palatial. She gives our heroes a tour ending up in her husband’s treasure room. Her favorite piece is a large diamond:

Both black diamonds are rumored to the eye sockets of a crystal skull, but no one knows where that might be (That's what we call foreshadowing). 

Morgan asks about the safety of the treasures. Ladah assures him that not only are they behind a thick door, with a small air vent the only other entrance, but disturbance of any object would trigger the sounding of brass bells as an alarm.

That night, when everyone is asleep Shakira turns into cat form, and leaps out a window. A little later, Morgan is awakened by the treasure room bells.  When he arrives at the room, he sees an unusual thief escaping: a black cat!

While Ladah’s guards pursue the cat, Morgan goes to Shakira’s room. He confronts her about theft. She asks if he ever consider that it might be another cat? Then she shuts the door on him.

Meanwhile, Machiste and Mariah have been born by the undead rowers to an island.  They’re greeted by the island’s inhabitants:

Back in Shalmandar, at another mansion, Shakira finds Damon, the man from the wanted poster. He's also the thief who stole the black diamond for Imag Grann. It turns out, they know each other:

Shakira knew that he must have stolen the diamond and came looking for him. She convinces him to take it back to Ladah, hoping to get some reward. Before they can get away, Imag shows up, shoots Damon with a crossbow, and takes the diamond.

Conveniently, Morgan comes riding up. He goes after Imag and finds him in a cellar with the crystal skull in a strange device. Imag knows who Morgan is because he’s psychic and was eavesdropping on him talking to Ladah. He believes the crystal skull and the diamonds are accumulators that transmit psychic energy to whoever’s wearing an associated headdress.

Imag levitates. then flies, then throws Morgan around with telekinesis. He’s able to read Morgan’s mind and knows when Morgan realizes he will have to kill him. Imag takes Morgan’s sword from him with mind-power—but Morgan pulls his gun and shoots Imag between the eyes. Imag could read Morgan’s mind, but Morgan’s mind was quicker.

He returns to Shakira and Damon.. As he carries the wounded Damon, he warns Shakira the thief may not make it. Shakira assures Morgan that she will make sure Damon does.

Things to Notice:
  • This is the first time we see a man who can transform into a cat in the saga.
  • Morgan (and Fleisher's) musings on Shakira's origins continues.
  • Speaking of Damon, he looks a bit like Douglas Fairbanks in Thief of Bagdad (1924).
Where it Comes From:
The crystal skull was inspired by the real world arifacts and some of the paranormal and New Age speculation about them.  Warlord got here before Indiana Jones!

One of Ladah Panar's treasures comes from Dilmun.  Dilmun is a place mentioned by ancient Mesopotamian records. It shows up in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Presumably, there's one in Skartaris, too.

Unmaschal and it's inhabitants were inspired by a couple Clark Ashton Smith stories. "Necromancy in Naat" provides the wizards using undead servants and taking advantage of shipwrecks, while the torture angle comes from "The Isle of Torturers."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Get Yourself Some Knowledge

If you missed out on it before you should really check out Tim Shorts's one-shot adventure Knowledge Illuminates.  It's now available in a 'zine sort of size with new art by Dylan Hartwell.  I got my copy last night and it looks good.  Get yours here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

From Davy Jones' Locker

Besides the riches dredged up from the wrecks at the bottom of Dead Man's Cove, the treasure grotto of the Phantom Diver contains several maritime magic items:

Spyglass: This brass spyglass allows the user to look back into the past as well as into the distance. 1d4 indicates hours, days, months, or years into the past; d20 indicates how many, at GM's discretion.

Diver's Helmet: This antique diver's helmet smells of the briny depths. It allows the wearer to see the shades of things that have died in the area, all the way back to the dawn of life. Spirits appear almost like neon lights, translucent, faintly glowing and colorful.

Whaler's Harpoon: This antique and somewhat rusted tool has a blade strangely unblunted by time. It's a normal weapon against man-sized or smaller creatures but +1 against large adversaries and +2 against anything bigger than that.

Walrus Tusk Scrimshaw: Yellowed tusk engraved with a swirling pattern that perhaps depicts eddies and currents. When held, it allows command of pinnipeds and communication with selkies. Hungry killer whales and sharks, however, will be drawn to anyone holding it.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Last week on G+, there was a discussion of Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter that led into discussion of a game in that vein (heh). I got drafted to GM for a small group. After doing some thinking on it this weekend, this is what I've come up with so far:

As the 19th-Century looms, an evil rises in Europe. Monsters that were thought to have been relegated to legend centuries before are reappearing. A brave few take up arms to fight this menace.

Beyond Captain Kronos, you might think of it as Brotherhood of the Wolf meets Vampire Circus.

The Look and Feel: Somewhere around 1800 in the dark heart of Europe, mist-cloaked and shadow-shroud, fixed between medievalism and modernity; where the stark shades of expressionistic Universal Horror landscapes are pierced by the lurid costumes and ample, heaving bosoms of Hammer--and of course, thick, deep red blood; where blades flash with an anachronistic frequency that Zorro would approve of.

Inspirations: (in addition to the above) the Solomon Kane stories, Marvel's historical tales in Dracula Lives and Tomb of Dracula MagazineI Sell the DeadBaltimore: Or, the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, The Vampire Lovers, The Fearless Vampire KillersDracula vs. Zorro, just about any Hammer Frankenstein film.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Houses of Horror

Last night I caught up on the first three episodes of American Horror Story: Asylum. This season takes us far from last season's ghost-crowded “Murder House” in present day Los Angeles to an aging asylum run by the Catholic Church in 1964 Massachusetts. The first season was a lurid (at times almost to the point of parody) romp through just about every modern horror trope the creators could pack in--and was utterly entertaining for it. The second season seems to be shaping up in exactly the same way.

Let’s check the list so far: alien abduction, snake-pit asylum, sadistic nun into corporal punishment, even more sadistic mad doctor with a deformed monster, masked serial killer on the loose,and oh yeah, demonic possession. That’s just the first three episodes; hell, that’s actually just the first two.

It occurs to me that this might be a great set-up for a horror rpg campaign. In the Call of Cthulhu mode, a lot of horror rpgs center on going places and investigating things.  What if all the mysteries were in one edifice? One pretty large place could be the nexus for a whole lot of weirdness.  It could be the horror rpg version of the dungeoncrawl. Maybe it would need to be relatively short in the grand scheme of campaigns, but I think it’s an idea worth exploring. Do you dare enter?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

House of Fear

Mingus Rooke told them there was an apartment building in Solace where another angelic horn could be found. Rooke had used Gabriel's to halt the Machineries of the Night before. Our heroes thought that might be their ticket to doing so again.

In last night's Halloween edition of our Weird Adventures campaign, Boris and Cornelius found themselves trapped inside the building with Erskine and Diabolico on the outside. The building was sealed; all of it's inhabitants were trapped, except for the one old man who ran out raving when they opened the door--and promptly died.

The buildings residents were being held captive by an extradimensional monster: a flowing, translucent blob creature. It seemed to in and out of the Material Plane. Boris and Cornelius first encountered it in the basement, but it moved around the building with impunity.

They went through the apartments, one by one. There were seductive, aging flappers, a  crazy old man trying to cast a banishing ritual, a room full of hostile golliwog dolls, and other eccentric inhabitants. Eventually, they found the weird horn in the hands of a jazz musician. Cornelius blew the horn.  It knocked him unconscious, but blew open the door so they were able to escape.

Mingus Rooke was waiting for them. He revealed the horn actually belonged to a fallen angel.  He said it wouldn't be able to help them destroy the Machineries of the Night--and the forces of Heaven would be coming for it soon, in any case. Rooke had known this from the beginning and tricked them into retrieving it and freeing the building's inhabitants.

Rooke did give them a little advice that would help them, though: destroy the dodecahedron and the heart-string.  The latter they had; the other...