Saturday, August 19, 2017

Geeky SKAturday: Some covers I can appreciate

Attention span willing, I'd like to continue this little series I started way back when hitting on the crossover between two of the main obsessions of my life: geekdom and ska!  In the first edition, I talked about Flash actor and vocalist extraordinaire Alex Desert.  Today, I'm just gonna dump some cool geeky ska covers.

As a commenter says for one of these videos:  "If a song exists, there's a Ska cover of it.  Absolutely no exceptions."  Naturally, a lot of these covers make the geek in all of us smile.  I think the first one I remember from my own ska odyssey was this number from the band Melting Pot, whose influences are probably so diverse that calling them a ska band doesn't really do them justice...


While released five years earlier, I wouldn't hear this next one until a while after that awesome take on the Tetris theme, when I was finally introduced to the Scofflaws, a pretty important NYC band.  This cover might be my favorite of the era, and this band is certainly up there on the list of those I regret never having seen live.  I'm not sure this song totally qualifies as ska (the drums give it more of a polka feel!), but the the band was part of the scene's core at the time, so it really has to be included:


I also have to include one of the first, and many would say the greatest, ska bands ever, the Skatalites, who performed their fair share of influential covers.  Here they are on the James Bond theme, interesting not only for the killer musicianship, but for how its very existence is intertwined with the popularity of the Bond image in 60s Jamaican rude boy culture.


Of course, the Skatalites' most famous movie theme cover, while not quite as geeky but definitely quite awesome, is almost certainly this one:


And while I'm on the Guns of Navarone, I'll include what might be my favorite version, by the Specials.  It's the fantastic trombone work by Rico Rodriguez, with the cry of "Mr. Rico, no!" that makes me love this one...


Man...I'm realizing that if I keep working on this post in such a stream-of-consciousness style, it's gonna go on forever.  And it really could...a little trip around YouTube reveals that there are tons of ska covers I've never even heard that would probably fit this little blog feature.  So maybe I'll have to return to it at some point.  I'll just leave with this fun number by the band Sylvester Skallone...


Ah, one final note and a fun fact:  I was unfortunately unable to find the ska version of the Gremlins theme that I used to get to hear from the Del Rays, an awesome group that hailed from my home state of Georgia.  I'll have to keep looking for that one, and if anyone has it or knows where to find it, please let me know!  The fun fact:  Del Rays saxophonist Steven Cummings went on to become a darn good comic artist and do especially well for himself with the Image series Wayward...!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Magic-Users in Light City

One thing I can do...and am doing (some, at least)...in the absence of productivity on new Light City content is to assess what's already there.  I like the idea of the new, superheroic classes' matching up reasonably well power-wise with the basic Swords & Wizardry Light classes...and with that, the thought that the original four classes could fit into a Light City game without much issue.  So...how well-grounded is the idea of playing with supers using SWL rules without access to a unified document that brings the ideas together?

If you shake off the idea of a medieval fantasy world and set your sights more on four-color urban fantasy...say something in the style of Justice League Dark...I think the SWL rules would actually work pretty nicely.  Besides the fact that there are a ton of superheroes and related characters that would be just fine as Fighters and Thieves...I haven't really kept up with the show, but from the bits I've seen, it looks like just about every DC character that shows up on Arrow would work here...you could do a lot worse than a Magic-User or some sort of Cleric variant to play heroes like John Constantine or Zatanna.  I mean, Vancian magic can be problematic for "accurate" portrayals...but comic book magic is often pretty hand-wavey, anyway.

In this vein, a public domain character that I've taken a liking to is John Force, Magic Agent.  Combining early-60s Cold War spy thrills with supernatural themes, Force protected the land of the free as an agent for the American Security Group.  You can check his bio out here on the Public Domain Super Heroes wiki, and read his public domain adventures right here.

If you're wondering...yes, he did come before Nick Fury...!

Obviously, they don't call him the Magic Agent for nothing.  John Force has a magical coin with four columns on it corresponding to four different (although arguably not all that different) supernatural abilities...


When it came time to work his magic, he'd touch the appropriate column and cast his spell:


Honestly, this is pretty perfect for a D&D-style magic system, in my opinion.  While it doesn't correspond perfectly, the compartmentalization of magical abilities matches up nicely.  It may even be possible to pick out a spell for each column...

Now, there are a couple of combat-related issues that could come up in using SWL classes in a modern supers context.  The first is that, as you know if you've ever read...oh, just about any comic book ever...pretty much every hero can throw a solid punch.  The Magic Agent is no different:


While the Brawler is certainly designed to be the class that excels at such fisticuffs, I don't see any reason why Light City in general couldn't use some form of the Swords & Wizardry Complete rules on unarmed combat...say, perhaps, that any character with class levels (as I'm thinking of a majority of people as 0-level humans...) can deal a point of damage with a punch.  (And let the appropriate class[es] modify that damage...?)

And then there's the matter of firearms.  John Force is a secret agent.  Of course he uses 'em...


When it comes to weapon proficiencies, I appreciate the old school simplicity of characters that either can or can't use a certain weapon...and this works well in a world built around the game.  I have no issue with wizards who don't wield swords because...well, because they just don't, okay...?!

Arguably just as simple, though...and probably more practical in many games...is a simple house rule that anyone can try using any weapon (within reason with regard to complexity) but take a penalty if they aren't proficient with it.  And I may not be guessing at an ideal sweet spot here, but -5 to hit seems reasonable to me at the moment, so that's what I'm going to try.  We'll see how it goes...

Oh!  And one final thing on the Magic Agent here...he might be more suitable at a higher level, but until Swords & Wizardry Continual Light rolls out to take the four basic classes up to 7th, I'll probably avoid any assumptions about what we're going to see at higher levels (or expanded versions of these lower levels).  So, he's strictly SWL for now...!

John Force, Magic Agent

Level 3 Magic-User
First appearance:  Magic Agent #1 (1962)

STR 10     DEX 15     CON 13     INT 14     WIS 12     CHA 8
2 HD (9 HP)     Saving Throw 12
AC 8[11]

Attack:  Dagger, +0 to hit, 1d6-1 ldamage; Unarmed Strike, +0 to hit, 1 damage; Pistol, -4 to hit, 1d6 damage.
Spells Known:  Level 1 - Charm Person, Detect Magic, Sleep; Level 2 - Invisibility

Friday, July 28, 2017

Want to build a city with me?

I guess I cursed myself when I wrote that my free time hasn't been especially limited lately, because pretty much since I pushed the button on that post, it's been exactly that.  I've been aiming (heh) to finish The Marksman class for Light City for weeks at this point, which is kind of ridiculous when the point of the class-by-class approach to Light City is to facilitate progress on the project even when time and focus is limited.

But y'know what probably doesn't make for a quality blog post by me? Blogging about not blogging! So, here's the point of this little communication, the thing I actually have been able to accomplish lately...!

I present the Light City Multiverse logo with the hope that others will want to take part in this little experiment in playing with superheroes within the Swords & Wizardry Light framework.  You see, I have some pretty specific ideas in my head of the way I expect the rules regarding Light City to shake out (kind of the reason I see it even being a worthwhile pursuit when there are already a million and one other supers games out there), as well as a certain view of the "ideal" superhero gaming world.

There's no point in pushing all of that too hard though, unless I'm putting it all together as some huge rule and setting book, and one of the things I like the most about this hobby of ours is seeing ideas from different individuals bounce off of each other to make something even better.  And really, what background is better for letting disparate ideas intermingle than a superhero multiverse?  I thought for a while that it might be a bit pretentious to release a "compatibility logo," but hey, what have I got to lose?  Hopefully others will want to play in the sandbox!

Here's the first version of the logo that I've been somewhat pleased with.  It's followed by the license (using that word pretty loosely) and the logo with inverted colors.  Please come join me in Light City if you like!



1.  The Light City Multiverse logo may be used freely on any work that contributes to our ability to pretend like we’re superheroes using the Swords & Wizardry Light ruleset.  You can also use it on other stuff, but this is probably where it makes the most sense.
2.  Use of this logo does not indicate that you relinquish ownership of any of your own physical or intellectual property.  Similarly, making this logo available for use does not indicate that I relinquish ownership of any of my own physical or intellectual property.
3.  While not a requirement, if you do use the logo (or make anything of interest to Light City), I’d love to be notified at jlinneman at gmail dot com.
4.  Light City is a big, multiversal sandbox with room for a lot of people to play.  I reserve the right to ask you not to use this logo anymore if you’re not playing nice.
5.  As you’ve probably guessed, I’m not a lawyer, so I’ll just make a final general statement that I reserve the right to change this license and the logo itself.  If for some reason that has legal ramifications, we’ll figure it out at the time.




EDIT:  Oh!  I should give a shout out to the source of the skyline art in the logo.  I snagged it from Pixabay, right here.  Thanks to user Clker-Free-Vector-Images (probably not their real name) for posting it there...!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Building the infrastructure of Light City...

While my free time isn't especially limited these days, I am finding that I rarely have a significant stretch of uninterrupted time to complete the little projects I have bouncing around in my head.  So while the next Light City installment is taking way too long (The Marksman is coming soon...!), I am taking little steps in working toward some of my hobby goals.

I recently made a stop at Home Depot to pick up an important item...


I'm pretty stoked that I can now continue my (years-long) quest to put some of the random HeroClix I've accumulated over time to good use...!


Monday, July 10, 2017

Monstrous Monday: Three more Vrakkig beasts...

Some more critters drawn by my pal JR Mounts for summoning, Duel Masters-style, by the Card-caster class.  (You can see more of his creations in my Monstrous Monday posts from the last three weeks...!)  HD is in the upper left, AC (ascending from 10) in the lower right...




Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A belated Happy Fourth! Now, let's talk Supersoldiers...

I was supposed to finish this post yesterday, but a combination of work and celebration got in the way.  Ah, well...Happy (belated, now) Fourth to all of you who appreciate the freedom you've been gifted in your respective homes!

Naturally, at a time when Light City is always rattling around in my cerebrum, America's Independence Day makes me think of this guy...


...and this guy...


...and of course this guy...


So...let's also talk about Supersoldiers, shall we?  As I move through through the superhero archetypes (as I see them applying to RPG classes, anyway) for Light City, I 've known that something in the vein of Captain America needed to be included.  As with Batman, exactly what that is depends on the perspective you take in thinking about Cap.  You can focus on the patriotism, of course, making him an inspirational symbol.  When I included a red, white, and blue hero in my Dogwood City project last year, for example, I gave him a little ally-buffing ability.

You could also zero in on the way Cap handles a shield, which may make him a member of the Marksman class (the next one I hope to release for Light City).

For some reason, though, I'm drawn a bit more to Cap's basic power set...just that he's a badass fighter at the peak of (or just beyond) the normal human physical max.  I think part of it is that I think of DC's closest Cap comparison to be the guy who has somehow become one of the company's showcase villains over the past several years...


A Deathstroke/Captain America class should be easy enough, right?  I'd say so.  So easy, in fact, that it's pretty much already there in Swords & Wizardry Light...they're really just high-level, high-stat Fighters!  So how do I make this jibe with my goal of making Light City classes roughly comparable in power level to the basic SWL options...?

I've been thinking a lot about Light City power level after some thoughts from commenter X-Plus Kaiju Collectors Crew on my last LC post, and I actually really like where all of this has led me.  It seems reasonable to me to trade off the multiple attacks vs. 1 HD enemies that Fighters get (which I honestly find a little awkward because the player basically needs to somehow be aware that an enemy only has 1 HD...) to give a Supersoldier a stat boost.  Maybe even +1d6 to all the physical attributes...and probably INT too.

The beauty of putting an adjustment like this into SWL is that I could see it making a basic character feel pretty super...but the actual stat benefits are small enough that it really wouldn't break anything!

I should probably stat up a few characters at some point, along with exploring what a "basic" Fighter would actually look like in the Light City Universe...

Monday, July 3, 2017

Monstrous Monday: More beasts to summon...!

Even more of the beasties created by my pal JR Mounts for summoning, Duel Masters-style, by the Card-caster class.  (You can see more of his creations in my Monstrous Monday posts from last week and the week before...!)