Monday, June 29, 2009

The Dinosaucers Have Landed!


My dream of Dinosaurs From Space made real, 20 years ago. It's canon.

Click through to see many more relics of the golden age of advertising to children. It's as good as time travel--No! Better: no crushed butterflies.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Suppose D&D had 15 Ability Scores

And they were also a sort of skill:

Str+Dex: leap, somersault
Str+Con: withstand
Str+Wis: grapple
Str+Int: lift or bend
Str+Chr: flex or flaunt
Dex+Con: run
Dex+Wis: dodge
Dex+Int: throw
Dex+Chr: dance, sing, act
Con+Wis: abstain
Con+Int: persevere
Con+Chr: seduce
Wis+Int: strategize
Wis+Chr: lead
Int+Chr: impress

Suppose further that you grafted on (in order to get a skill check mechanic out of these 15 abilities) the Ghostbusters (or Risus) system by treating each full 6 points of an ability score as one die to roll to match the Target Number assigned by the Ghostmaster or referee--that is, 3-5 (+0), 6-11(+1), 12-17(+2), 18(+3). That distribution isn't very good. I'll have to sit down and look at the numbers with a Mathmagician friend.

Why, then they you'd be on your way to playing D&D the way we do on The Mutant Earth.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Important Fuel Sources of the Milky Way

Stupid as it may seem, just about every planet has a unique mineral which is both harder than diamond and excellent rocket fuel (since most of these civilizations still use primitive chemical-fueled spacecraft). Often, the mineral is also named after the planet it comes from. Is this a result of each civilization's ethnocentric worldview, or does it suggest a deeper meaning to the minerals, as sort of planetary personality expressed through geology? Yeah, I'm yanking your chain.


You can bet your last cred that the hunt for fuel will figure in plenty of plots on The Mutant Earth.

And here's why, thanks to Zack Handlen of the A.V. Club: Another planet, another scientific survey--this time, Spock, Kirk, and a few red-shirts are investigating Argus X's tritanium deposits. (Side note: it's generally used either as a MacGuffin or background detail, but I love the references to Starfleet's insatiable quest for minerals. It makes good sense; one of the reasons we're going to have to leave this planet eventually is that we're just going to run out of natural resources, no matter how politely we use them. Star ships must take an incredible amount of material to construct and fuel, not to mention colonizing new worlds, so it's a nice nod to realism that the Enterprise, in addition to its other duties, is always on the hunt for good rocks.)

Wikipedia's list is here.



Corodite

The Most Powerful Mineral in the Universe, so of course the home world of He-Man leaves it to be guarded by the Widgets, who are exactly what the stereotypes called to mind by their offensive name would suggest. Put 'em on the Race Master List.


Eternium
This is the mineral found in the Eternian crust, not the shards of Shazam's Rock of Eternity. I think a dopey-looking dragon in a helmet sits atop a great pile of it.

Feminum

Most common on planets whose cultures are undergoing civil rights movements and produce televised action/dramas about Lady Super-Men. Sometimes called Amazonium, but not by the Awesome.


Kerium

The sole reason the inhabitants of New Texas brave its harsh climate and infestation of evil sorcerers who smoke tobacco.

Solarbonite

Let's see if we can't get this one done somewhere in plans 1 through 8, this time m'kay?

Thundrillium
What else are you going to put in the fuel tank of the Thunder Tank after Panthro, in his spare minutes, converted it to underwater drivablitiy?


Tritanium

Everything is better when you triple it. Don't forget to Tri-cord it, Triplicate Girl.


Tylium

What is it with the BSG writers and using 'y' for a short vowel? Why try?

Ziff

I'm sure somebody makes holy symbols out of the stuff.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another Hogwild Fever Dream

Yesterday I read a old post at Mike's Amazing RPG Fun Pad calling for a retro-clone of Ghostbusters (International). I heartily agree--I think it such a good idea in fact, that I WANT TO WRITE IT.

This idea is firmly in the Awesome/Stupid camp for several reasons:

1) I don't have a copy of the game.
2) I have not read the game.
3) I am not in the least qualified to write RPG rules. (Well, I have an English degree, but it's from a state school. I have 20 years familiarity with D&D and a few other games, but I've only really played for a year or two. And that was faughing d20.)
4) I have a job, two bands, and a tutoring gig, which doesn't even leave me time for the lame ass blog posts I already do, or to prepare (let alone PLAY) my Mutant Earth campaign.

Alright, so who can help me out? I'll do all the work, but who's got pdfs? I'm velocipedestrian and you can find me with the Google brand e-mail service.

How much do you think I can get from the West End Games Star Wars RPG, which Wikipedia says was built on the Ghostbusters foundation?

What advice do you have for me?

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Weefolk vs. The Borg:

Irreconcilable differences?

Fairy stories are, in my imagination, rooted in an Earth-centered universe--visitors from beyond the world come out of moonshadows and thistle dew, through hexes and conjurings and toadstool rings--not from metal tubes in the night sky.

Stories of space travellers, on the other hand, don't seem to have room in them for fey folk. There seems to be a fundamental incompatibility in these two kinds of fantasy worlds. Take for example the leprechaun: does he peek from under the shamrock leaf under the twin suns of Tatooine? Surely his fairy door or rainbow road can reach distant stars (distant from Earth, that is) just as easily as our own Sun, right?

Or are Earth's fairies bound to the earth, and not from Another Realm at all? Then could every world have their own weefolk and nature spirits? Well, of course they could. Thinking it through, the mismatch seems less now, but I welcome any discussion about how this issue has been treated in the past, in the games you love that I'm ignorant of, or in the forests of your own fancy.

Monday, June 15, 2009

To D&D or Not To?

It started with my perceiving a necessity to revamp the original classes to better suit my vision for the Mutant Earth; next I was turned on to several among the befuddling kaleidoscope of game systems that seemed to better match that vision than the swords and sorcery oriented ancestor of them all (from Risus to Ghostbusters Int'l; Two-Fisted Tales; most especially Cartoon Action Hour, which I was thrilled to learn was revamped and streamlined as Cartoon Action Hour Season Two and which I encourage all of you to buy; Jeff pointed me to Arduin and its Techno class, and his write-up of it got me hungry for T&T); and all that left me gaping at the wilderness of work, the endless hours of pruning and planting, required before I'd even have a game to play.

Not to mention the money I'd have to spend (or figure out how torrents work, I suppose).

But I remembered that the inspiration for my hogwild fever dream of a campaign galaxy was a line in one of Sham's posts about the OD&D rules in which he lamented the missed opportunity to 'make D&D D&D,' by which he meant, I think making D&D encompass any wild flight of fancy you please. (I have no faith that I remember any of that correctly, so please right my errors in the comments.)

And lo! The correct and answer returned to me: the game I want is the one I don't have to spend money on. Thus, it's OD&D. The most valuable lesson I've learned since I discovered Ye Olde Schoole Renaissance, is that I need never spend money on gaming supplements again (though I will, as a gesture of gratitude to Fight On!, Jim Raggi, Geoffrey McKinney, Goblinoid Games, Mythmere Games, Brave Halfling Publishing, Elf Lair Games, and the rest of our friends).

I need never spend money on game supplements again. The game I want will come from my head. God, how I wish I had realized that before I bought EVERY BOOK WotC PUBLISHED FOR 3.5.

Where was I going with this?

The Mutant Earth will run on OD&D, right, with the addition of a Technician class as well as Carcosan Sorcerers (though with slightly less ickiness--this is children's programming, after all).

Meanwhile, though I know I can find it myself with the slightest effort, I'll ask any of my readers to help me out with locating a reasonable replacement for Outdoor Survival, seeing as how it's integral to OD&D--all the more so in my case, as the Mutant Earth itself is all wilderness. (At least on this hemisphere. . . shh! Don't tell my players!)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Fabled Artifacts of The Mutant Earth

EDIT: I've learned Crystar's evil brother is named Moltar, but he's been Magmar to me for 25 years, so that's his name on Mutant Earth, got me? Another consequence of my new knowledge is that Lava Axes, Shatterpults, Magma Maces, and the Skull of Danzyg have now been added to the list of Fabled Artifacts. Danzyg is, of course, a vile Demon Prince. Maybe even Live Demonsweat?

You already know these items, though perhaps by different names.

But before I begin, a word about the name of my campaign: though it does seem like the kind of setting that would work well with Gamma World and the neo-retro Mutant Future (both of which I will consider as rulesets. . . eventually), the name Mutant Earth comes from a game I made up in '87 or '88 or '89 to play with my brother and friends. It was a grab bag of ideas from games I wanted but couldn't get ahold* of: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mainly, but also D&D itself, and, though I didn't actually know it existed, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay which I encountered through GW's Combat Cards, which we adored.

Now, On To The Artifacts:

The Sun Sword
A plainly wrought hilt that springs to life as a blade of thrumming light at the wielder's command.

The Sword of Power
Truly the legendary blade of Eternia, is said to transform the wielder (and even his steed) into a great hero, provided the proper incantation is known--and the bearer is pure of heart.

The Sword of Protection
As above, but for girls. You can comb their hair!

The Eye of Thundera
Said to give the wielder Sight Beyond Sight. Might require possession of the Lion's Paw as well. I'll get back to you on that.

The Havoc Staff
A ram's skull on a stick. Shoots beams of Pure Evil. Also freeze rays.

The Serpent Cowl
Worn by sorceress queens and demi-goddesses of the Eternian Age of Legend. Nothing is known about its powers.

The Armor of Nakedness
Is is sorcery or pure willpower? Either way, possession of this gift allows warrior-women to beat off hordes of slavering beasties clad in no more than a mail bikini or a white one-piece swimsuit. Fighting-Men can do likewise in nought but a fur diaper.

The Ruby Spears
Artifacts of weird far-future technology that has come unstuck in time. Well remembered but neglected.

The Star Sword(s)
A godly weapon split into two powerful halves. An easy story hook for the battle of good and evil.

You know what? I want Crystar and Magmar (you may know him as Moltar) up in this bitch. What series advertised their toys? Visionaries?

The Weapons of The Children
Only two of this collection are actually weapons: The Thunderclub and the Story Bow. The former is an earthquake bound in wood, while the latter always seems to do exactly what the wielder requires, and with a lovely beam of golden light. The other members: the Arrogant Shield, The Thigh-High Boots of Stealth, the Collapsible Vaulting-Pole, and the Rabbit Hat speak for themselves.

The Crimson Pearl
Lusted after by the Mermen of Eternia who know the secret of unlocking its power--through blood sacrifice--to gain mastery of the creatures of the deep. Like Aquaman.

Alright, that's long enough for one post. I want to do another one, so come on back soon.


*I see Blogger's dictionary is ahold-ophobic, like most folks I know. It's obviously a perfectly fine word, but nobody has the balls to use it in writing. UNTIL NOW.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Doesn't the Ring Cycle Belong in Appendix N?

Well, no, not if you weren't influenced by it, right.

I finished Proust, so I guess the next mammoth I need to eat is Der Ring des Nibelungen. Says on Wikipedia that Wagner wrote the four operas over the course of TWENTY-SIX years.

Of course, some dumbshit also wrote in that article: "Although individual operas are performed as works in their own right, a full understanding of the story of the Ring cycle requires attendance at all four operas, which was the intention and expectation of the composer."

Nerds. You gotta love 'em.

Still, even though it's probably bullshit, 26 years is a whole nother time scale--Proust wrote for 13 years, Tolkien and Joyce for a similar amount of time. But TWENTY-SIX. Rock stars is dead by 27!

Rhinegold here I come!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Easily the Awesome/Stupid -est thing I've ever experienced

Last night's A Gun That Shoots Knives show (at the VAC). I really should mention it, take a moment to savor it, and not forget it without appreciating how individual it was.

Talking portrait of The Devil? Check.
Matching home-made Satanic Uniforms? Check.
Copious use of 'motherfucker'? Check.
"Don't you feel lame that when the dinosaurs return they won't know your name?" Check.
A song that namechecks THREE DIFFERENT Balrogs? Check.

And there was even a rubber Flash Gordon helmet.

Never has anything been so Awesome/Stupid. My life henceforward is nought dumbshow and shadow-play. Why didn't I tell them how much I loved what they do? Cuz I'm chicken. Bgawk, bawk.

My Four Classes

The Mutant Earth will stick with the 3 original D&D classes (almost totally because I hate the personality of thieves, not because of the mechanics. Ain't that silly?), but I'm going to need another one to cover all this new technology in my game world--The Technician.

My first plan was to give The Technician a growing number of dice to roll to reach a target indicated by a piece of technology's Tech Level, modified by alieness. But that means I'd have to give every piece of tech its own score. The hell with that. I think I'll go with something like the Thief's straight percentage chance to succeed (though with target numbers instead)--success in this case indicating that the Technician can operate the new tech. Prismatic Death Ray, Matter Transporter, Space-Bender Drive, or what have you.

I'm also considering chucking the Vancian spell system for Magic Users and replacing it with something less bound to books, though I'm guessing it will still be firmly rooted in European folklore.

Clerics need to become less Christian--and since I imagine Space Fantasy games as godless (except for demons and Great Old Ones, of course), maybe the class will deal with spirits, energies and ghosts instead of the Divine.

And Fighting-Men are pretty much the same wherever you go in this vast, cold universe. They just have rayguns sometimes.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dinosaurs From Space

I think my galaxy needs some spacefaring dinosaurs. Just giant thunderlizards with their dinosaur-sized spacecraft.

Turn the RAD UP on this MUTHA.

Something like this guy, with a heap o' AWESOME SAUCE on top:



SUPER EXPLOSIVE VOLCANODON.

That's an Awesome/Stupid Nine Lives Stealer.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Reavers & Blooddrinkers

A race of revolting fish-men --plunderers and pirates from beyond the void between the Milky Way and whatever cesspool of stars spawned them, scours the starways in this part of the galaxy, dragging with them their corpulent, barely intelligent pig-men slaves.

Of all the hazards of star travel, none is spoken of by hardened space jockeys with more fear in the voice than the Gungan Reavers. Old timers sometimes say that the Gungans wiped out a galaxy-wide police force of mystics, psychics, and matial artists unmatched in skill with the energy blade.

Now the disgusting fish-men terrorize our own worlds, preying on simiod and feloid alike for their blood-drinking rites, which rites are said to induce in their warriors a frothing, burbling war-madness surpassing even the bear-sarkers of the Lionmen of Mongo.

May the Void have pity on any world whose skies are darkened by the BlackFin Star Destroyers of Old Otoh Gunga.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Species Spotted on Mutant Earth!

I learned yesterday that Third Earth, the ThunderCats' new home (and the model for my Mutant Earth), is also home to a group of gentle, gelfling-looking unicorn shepherds with blue stars on their noses. Across their noses and onto their cheekbones, actually.

That means there's also unicorns, and skinny-legged little unicorn foals.

We'll keep you updated with useless information as it arrives and allows to fill up the air time between commercials.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I don't know why there's a word for it. . .

. . .but I'm sure glad to know it:

amplexus: the copulatory embrace of frogs and toads (and, one assumes, frog mutants, mermen, toad-bat-demons, etc.) in which the male fertilizes the eggs released by the female (or by himself, in the case of Huxley's Proust-Monster).

The best part, though, is that it literally means 'embrace'--so won't you put your loved one (consenting adults only, please) in am amplexus tonight?