I've been bad about getting "fun" posts up lately. So...here's one that's less than fun, on the chance that someone who happens by here may be interested.
A few weeks ago, my wife Laura and I had to let go of our dog Sunny. Laura sometimes manages her grief in these instances by writing a bit of the dog's story, and she has done so for Sunny.
I'll note that there's a good chance that some who read it, who may or may not be involved in animal rescue, will disagree with the series of decisions we made. That's okay. The rescue community is filled with passionate people who are sure of very specific convictions, and I know I can't agree with all of them. Hopefully, the story gives a little window into the world of ups and downs that accompanies a girl like Sunny. Click here for Sunny's story.
One aspect of Dogwood City (my public domain supers "project") that I've wanted to correct is the fact that I've never identified a signature hero for the city. Of the characters I've written about, there are a few that "speak to me" more than others. I like the Arrow, Black Lion, and Cub quite a bit, but they're really all ersatz versions of other well-known heroes. Daredevil is awesome, but he's been used a lot in other public domain supers projects (and there's something weird about the fact that another character is a much better known Daredevil).
Besides, my comic book heart might be happiest in the Silver Age.
I did include the Nature Family on the initial Dogwood City roster, and not only are they pretty awesome, they have the distinction of being some of the few pre-Barry Allen superheroes of the 1950s. They'll certainly vie for the status of top Dogwood icon(s). I've recently been reading the adventures of another contender, though...the Flame:
The Flame is really interesting to me because a big chunk of the Silver Age's genesis is tied up in DC's revamping of Golden Age heroes like the Flash and Green Lantern. Reading about the Golden Age Flame's history over at Don Markstein's Toonopedia, I realized that this strategy is exactly what was going on when Fox's 1939 hero was revamped in 1954 by Ajax-Farrell, who had acquired the rights to the character. Changing costumes, powers, and secret identities, the new Flame series only lasted a few issues, but it looks like it was one of those hints of things to come in the superhero market.
The Flame also fits Dogwood City nicely! Here's the seal of the city that inspires Dogwood...
...and a logo for the university I attend in said city...
...and a logo for the first NHL team to leave the city for Canada (yeah, we've lost two)...
...and a symbol from the event that helped said city gain worldwide prominence (even if no one cares much about this thing anymore)...
...and a restaurant right near my house...
So, yeah, flames are kind of a thing around here. I guess getting burned to the ground can do that to a city. Weird how that works.
As for the Flame's connection to actual flames...well, we get hints, like that first image in this post, that he uses some sort of pyrotechnics in his crimefighting. But for the most part, the Flame is just one heck of a brawler. So the bad guys can take that...
His best trick, though, is probably picking up a dude by the ankle and swinging away at the other villains.
I'm getting this one up pretty late, but it's a fun one. I like Popeye quite a bit, and this is a nice bit of old school entertainment during a U.S. election season that has been less than entertaining. (Oh, I know there have been some shenanigans...it's the eventual result that has me concerned...)
I love the song in this one.
"Hooray for the new re-gee-mee!" (By the way, there's about five minutes' worth of nothing worthwhile at the end of this video, but I like the quality of the cartoon itself compared to other versions on YouTube...)
I've noted before that I'm a huge fan of card games and put some thought into a little dungeon-crawling game based on The Black Hack (which I plan to continue...at some point...when life slows down a little...sometime...). The precursor in my brain for that effort was the idea of making a card game built upon the rules of OSR RPGs. I fiddled with it a little when I worked on my contribution to the Tenkar's Landing crowdsourced sandbox setting spearheaded by Erik Tenkar of the well-known Tenkar's Tavern. In that, I focused on an OSR class that was a monster summoner and spellcaster using a deck of cards to perform her magic. Again, that's something which I plan to continue...at some point...and so on...
The goal(s) I want to make a card game based upon old school fantasy RPG rules. You can take a card and use it as an NPC. You can take an NPC and make a card out of them (probably tougher than the first thing, but maybe I'll get there). I don't want it to be too complex...just something that can satisfy a card game craving while giving the OSR itch a little bit of a scratch (which actually sounds kind of dirty).
I'm just gonna shotgun some ideas for the structure of the game. It'll be based on Swords & Wizardry rules. Specifically the Core rules. Why? Well, everybody like Swords & Wizardry, right? Playing the game will involve enlisting henchmen and hirelings to battle against those of one's opponent(s). The "cost" of a character can simply be its level...perhaps each turn, players will roll 1d6 and be able to summon that many HD in hirelings. And maybe dice can be saved from one turn to another, to build up to more powerful characters.
The hiring, though...that will come after battling for the turn. Some tried and true CCG combat concepts should serve us well here. Attack your opponent's henchmen, or hold your guys back so they can block when you get attacked. Depleting the deck is a solid win condition, right? So, yeah...you can attack your opponent's "base," and if they don't block the attack, the damage dealt causes them to discard from the top of their deck. Run out of cards, and you lose.
Okay, this is a solid base to build on!
I think tracking damage is going to get a little messy for all of those characters. So to simplify that, let's deal only in HD and damage dice rather than variable die sizes. (This is part of what I've tried to do with the GRIND). Eliminating any of the rules involving little pluses and minuses to hit points and damage should be easy enough. And d6-only hit dice and damage (or multiples thereof)...that's pretty old school, right? Of course, if I'm basing this on S&W Core, I should probably work out some new classes that fit the style of both the RPG and the card game I'm building. Here are the first notes I have for this (the increased attack bonuses are a personal preference...): ----------
1d6 HD per level, base 2000 XP
STR bonuses to hit (melee only) as
+1 BAB per level
1d6 damage even if unarmed, 2d6 damage
If armed, +1d6 damage at levels 5 and 10
+1 attack at levels 3 and 7
1d6 HD per level, base 2000 XP
+3/4 (round down) BAB per level
+3 bonus to Rogue checks
Backstab: If Rogue hasn’t acted this combat and
first attack is on character that has already taken an action this round, gets
+3 to attack roll and deals double damage (triple at level 5, quadruple at
I'll work on magic later. This is enough to get me playtesting.
Throwing together extremely basic playing card layouts is a method of relaxation for me. I have little in the way of skill or training...but I love playing around on PowerPoint. I made a couple that might work for this little game. The first one (Sheldon the Shifty) is the one I posted above to break up the monotony of all these words I'm putting down. Here's the other one:
And then there's the cardback. I like Henchmen & Hirelings as a working title, so here's something I can work with there...
If you've actually read through all this (or...some of it)...thank you! I'd love to get some outside thoughts on it. There will hopefully be more to come...maybe sooner, maybe not sooner...
Lately, I've really been enjoying some of the werewolf stories found in public domain comics on the great resource of Comic Book Plus...especially those from the horror books of the pre-Barry Allen 1950s. I'd like to get into the habit of sharing some of those here.
To start off, here's a little one-pager from Worlds of Fear #10 (June 1953) with some very practical advice for those hoping to die from the piercing of a silver bullet.
For this weeks #MonsterMonday, I'm going to hit on a slightly different Kaiju of the Silver Age. This isn't a monster that inhabited a mainstream superhero universe, but one that held down its own title for a while during the silver '60s: Reptisaurus!
In 1961, Charlton published two issues of a comic based on the Danish/American kaiju film Reptilicus (there are apparently versions of the film in both Danish and English).
You can read a good summary of Reptisaurus's backstory over at the Public Domain Super Heroes wiki (yes, it seems that Reptisaurus has fallen into the public domain!) or in the first issue of the series that holds the title Reptisaurus. To really summarize, an ice age sent a pair of Reptisauruses (or...Reptisauri, if you prefer) into a deep hibernation in a warm volcanic area. And then...well...
Isn't that always the way?
Luckily, Reptisaurus seems to be a bit more helpful than his inspiration Reptilicus. Instead of introducing himself by destroying Copenhagen, he helps to fight off an alien invasion.
I like to try to at least guesstimate a size on these big guys. According to this wiki entry, Reptilicus was around 90 feet (27 m) long. I initially thought the Reptisauruses were meant to be bigger than that. Here's an establishing shot with what may be a blue whale...
...which would make me want to put it at well over 100 feet. But...who knows? That 90 feet may be a good guess, as we also get shots like this that make it seem pretty reasonable:
The perspectives I've seen just make it difficult to judge. Could be a small plane and a small blue whale, after all.
If you're interested in reading more about the history of this beast, there's a very good writeup to be found at this link.
Thanks for checking this guy out! I'm really enjoying covering these four-color monsters and hope you'll stop by again next week for another Kaiju of the Silver Age!
But enough about concussions. Let's talk superheroes! Using NFL branding to market an animated kids' show seems like a no-brainer (see what I did there?). What we got a few years ago in NFL Rush Zone, though...well, it turned out weirder than I would have imagined. Being a fan of mascots who grew up in the 80s, I have fond memories of the old NFL Huddles toy line. The market-the-mascots approach seems like a good way to go, as far as I'm concerned. But instead of, say, an anthropomorphic Colt, we got, in the words of Kid Fenris, "an ambulatory Madball in a Colts helmet."
But who are we to judge? The cartoon lasted like four years. Here's a trailer...
So, earlier today, I was looking up information on dice games played in the Old West (you know how that goes), and I came upon chuck-a-luck. Along with Grand Hazard, it's apparently an English variant of sic bo. I was intrigued by a few sentences at this site:
The Hazard game in the Dungeon and Dragon (sic) manuals is actually a casino game called Grand Hazard. Modern gambling casinos invented the game to separate tourists from their money. Serious gamblers won't play it because the payoff odds are ludicrous.
Does anyone happen know where this is mentioned in D&D? My knowledge of the game and google skills are both coming up quite short...
It's #MonsterMonday. Time for another Kaiju of the Silver Age...
Two weeks ago, I posted about Giganto, the first monstrous foe of the Fantastic Four. Today, I'm going back in time a little, to a team that many fans think of as an obvious influence on the FF...the Challengers of the Unknown. Similar to Reed Richards and crew, the Challs are a foursome of Kirby-created, jumpsuit-wearing adventurers who find themselves teaming up against drive-in movie villains after nearly dying in an accident. They first appeared in 1957's Showcase #6, just two issues after Barry Allen ushered in the Silver Age of Comics. And in their very fist recorded adventure, they encounter this guy:
You see, the Challs are offered a million dollars by a sorceror named Morelian to open an ancient box that he possesses. The first thing they find is a big old egg...
The next morning, they find that the egg has hatched, but they don't know what emerged. It doesn't take long to find a clue...
...and then, almost immediately, the monster itself...
Now, I was inclined to think this big guy was inspired by the bronze giant Talos as encountered by Jason and the Argonauts in the classic film. The comic was about six years too early for that, though, so I guess it makes more sense for it to take inspiration from the Colossus of Rhodes. Maybe...? At any rate, it's really strong. Like "nuke it and not even do any damage" strong...
The Challs do defeat it, of course, and it's one of those little Silver Age DC Comics resolutions that can either seem cheerfully clever or painfully anticlimactic, depending on how you're feeling that day. I don't necessarily want to spoil it, but feel free to ask if you'd like to know how they take it out. (Oh, and even after beating this monster, there are several pages of story for the heroes to work through.)
Pretty fun beginning for a fantastic Silver Age team...!
"Hey kids, sell this mysterious salve so we can send you weapons with which you can threaten an escaped zoo animal back into its inhumane habitat!"
I really need to get better about noting where I find ads that entertain me. Came across this one yesterday while looking through some saved images. I'm pretty sure it's from the 1950s...not sure of much beyond that...
Depending on who you ask, these are either awesome or the stuff nightmares are made of. The connection of Marvel Comics and ESPN under the Disney umbrella brings us these comic book covers highlighting some of the matchups from this opening weekend of the college football season.
From my perspective...well, they're comic book covers featuring the mascots of college football teams...so it's going to take some pretty poor execution to make them fall short of awesome. I think I dig this one the most...
...but I'll admit that there's something about these overmuscled anthropomorphic animals fighting over a football that I also enjoy...
The strangest one is probably this next cover, for the Florida State vs. Ole Miss game. I'm assuming that the sometimes controversial nature of both schools' mascots (one being a Native American, the other historically being an old southern fellow named Colonel Reb...although the Colonel has been replaced in recent years by Rebel, the Black Bear) is what led to the questionable decision to have this as the only cover featuring either a basic football player or a pair of not-so-basic crystal entities. (EDIT: I just got those...they're Garnet and Gold...not a terrible name for a superheroic duo, actually...)
And finally, I have to include this one, since it includes a beefed-up version of Aubie (probably my favorite mascot ever). The artists also captured the discomforting stare of the Clemson tiger pretty well...
You can see all of the covers a number of places on the web...for example, here. And if you think you recognize some inspiration from classic Marvel covers, you're right...CBR has an article with a bit more on this.