Saturday, April 30, 2016

Dogwood City A to Z: Zora...and Zoom

I couldn't quite settle on a single entry to close out this month-long trip around Dogwood City, so today is another two-fer.

First off, some of the other gaming blogs that I've been following during the A to Z challenge made the strong choice of going with "Vampire" for the letter V.

I feel a little left out.

So, today's first Dogwood City denizen is Zora, a really old (like burned at the stake in 1744 old) vampire who encountered the Prize Comics version of Frankenstein.

Zora is in love with a 200-year-old undead soldier named Rollo and is quite adept, convincing other monsters (like Frank himself) to do her bidding.  She also helps to fill that vampire-shaped hole I saw in the increasingly fantastical Dogwood City setting.

Finally, let's have a look at the magical city of Zoom!

Zoom is a fantasy city that roams Earth's skies in a cloud.

Tales of the city and its malevolent and powerful ruler, the Sorceress of Zoom, come from Weird Comics, which quite often live up to the title.  You really never know what you're going to get in a Zoom story, making it perfect for RPGs, in my eyes!  I hope Dogwood City is ready for a different sort of invasion!

Level 10
7 Hit Dice
Defense 17

Bite (melee) +7 (1D damage + loss of 2 levels)

Zora is immune to non-magical weapons, can shapeshift into a bat, and requires a saving throw vs. being charmed if a character looks directly into her gaze.  She avoids garlic and holy symbols, and can be killed with sunlight or a wooden stake through the heart.

(Yep, just sort of a generic OGL vampire for now...)

Sorceress of Zoom
Level 12 Magic-user
6 Hit Dice
Defense 14

Attack (by weapon) +6

Typical little monster of Zoom
Level 1
1 Hit Die
Defense 11

Attack (by weapon) +1

A big thanks to all of you who traveled through Dogwood City with me this month!  Your visits and thoughts are very much appreciated!!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dogwood City A to Z: Yank Wilson

Wow...we're really nearing the end of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge!  I think I'm going to use the last couple of entries to cover archetypes that deserve inclusion in Dogwood City but haven't been hit so far.  For today, how about a little espionage action?  Here's Yank Wilson, Super Spy Q-4:

What can I really tell you about him?  His title pretty much says it all.  Oh, he's also a really good pilot!  And...he apparently has some cool spy gadgets:

But you probably already knew that.

One aspect of Yank Wilson that's definitely worth mentioning is the reason I chose the images above for him, from Fantastic Comics #6.  He's one of a select few characters to be written and drawn at some point by Fletcher Hanks.  Hanks is the creator behind such Golden Age gems as Fantomah and Stardust the Super Wizard.  His work has grown in popularity over the past several years with the publication of the collections I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! and You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! (which also give some insight into the rather tragic life of the artist).

If you've never read Hanks' stuff, I strongly recommend you work to correct that.  He's become a must-read author of the no-holds-barred insanity that was sprinkled throughout the Golden Age of comics.  His Yank Wilson story is easily one of the tamest Fletcher Hanks works you could read (and is probably one of the tamer Yank Wilson tales).  I'd recommend heading over to Fantastic Comics #1 and reading the Stardust story that starts on page 16 for a pretty good intro to the mind of Fletcher Hanks.

Okay, so back to Super Spy Q-4.  Here he is at the PDSH wiki, and here he is in generic gaming form:

aka Super Spy Q-4
Real name:  Yank Wilson
Level 5
4 Hit Dice
Defense 13

Handgun (ranged) +4 (2D damage)
2 fists (melee) +4 (1D damage)

Mastery:  Espionage, Piloting aircraft

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dogwood City A to Z: Xog, King of Saturn

This is Xog.  He's the King of...well, I'll let him tell you...

Captain Midnight traveled to Saturn back in the day.  He found some crazy-looking Saturnians:

What's up with that body structure?  Well, the genius inventor Captain Jim "Red" Albright (psst...that's Captain Midnight!) figured it out.  It's actually kind of cool, even if...well, aren't Saturn's rings made of solids?  (Note:  I am neither an astronomer nor a geologist.)

You can tell Xog from the rest of them by the crown-like ring and the...geyser-type-thing spewing gas from the top of his head.

Now, if left alone, I'm not sure if Xog would have become a villain or not.  But, in the wake of Captain Midnight's "invasion" of his planet, he and his army invade Earth right back.  I look forward to seeing what the Battle of Dogwood City looks like!

aka King of Saturn, King of the Saturnians
Level 5
3 Hit Dice
Defense 12

"Arm" bash (melee) +3 (1D damage)

Saturnian Warrior
Level 3
1 Hit Die
Defense 11

"Arm" bash (melee) +1 (1D damage)

Being formed from gases in and around Saturn, Xog and all of his warriors display Saturnian characteristics.  They can fly, take on a gaseous form, and shapeshift to resemble everyday objects (such as chairs).

Xog inspires Saturnians who fight with him; his Saturnian allies gain +1 to all attack and saving throws while they are within 30 feet of him.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dogwood City A to Z: The Wild Bunch

My wife and I recently binge-watched our way through Sons of Anarchy.  We were hooked from the first episode; every evening until we finished the series pretty much came down to, "Okay, what do we need to do before we can sit down and watch Sons...?"

When I spotted a motorcycle club on the Public Domain Super Heroes site, I thought they'd be a lot of fun to add to Dogwood City.  Here they are, the Wild Bunch:

This tough crew hit comics on the heels of biker flicks like The Wild Angels, Hells Angels on Wheels, and The Cycle Savages (which even had the tagline "The Wildest Bunch of the 70's!").  They come from an era very different from that of most of Dogwood City's denizens, who hail from the Golden Age of comics.  The Wild Bunch and their colleagues are decidedly Seventies creations who just happened to be published without proper copyright notice.  (They were also published in black and white magazine form, outside the restrictions of the Comics Code.)

The Wild Bunch appear in the stories of Hell Rider, a bike-based hero that was an earlier effort of Ghost Rider creator Gary Friedrich.  Here's that gentleman (Hell Rider, not Gary Friedrich):

Upon returning from Vietnam, the Wild Bunch are the crew that Hell Rider alter ego Brick Reese rides with...

These badass bikers are decidedly good guys but maintain a definite tough-guy edge.  The heroic angle may be why, as far as I've seen, the Wild Bunch aren't shown to wear the traditional cuts and colors of an outlaw/1%er motorcycle club.  Those usually look pretty cool, though, so I threw something together that might resemble what they'll wear around Dogwood City...

Credit where it's due for that skull image: Cowboy Skull Free Vector from

The Hell-Rider comics can be a bit tougher to come across on the web than some of the others I've mentioned on here.  Here's a site where they can be had (check out the bottom of the page).

Animal/Deke/Slinker/Curly/Ruby (the Wild Bunch)
Each Level 3
3 Hero Dice
Defense 12

2 fists +3 (1D damage)
Attack +3 (by weapon)

Mastery:  Motorcycling

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Dogwood City A to Z: V-Man

First off, I would imagine that many people who happen upon this blog are well-acquainted with Tenkar's Tavern, but just in case you're not, I wanted to point out something really cool that's going on over there.  Chuck Wright of Frog God Games is facing some hefty medical expenses and a tough road ahead, and his friends in the RPG community are at his side with a GoFundMe campaign in his support.  Many folks have also donated some great RPG products that will be given out to random donors through a setup at the Tavern.  Head over to Tenkar's Tavern to get more details, and if you feel like you can help Chuck out, it would be very much appreciated!


Now...on to today's regularly scheduled A to Z post.  Somehow I've so far avoided including a patriotic Golden Age hero in the Dogwood City archives.  Today, that gets corrected, with V-Man!

V-Man was American pilot Jerry Steele, who was captured, tortured, and later killed by Nazis for assisting in an escape from a concentration camp.  His lifeless body was stolen and restored by the mysterious "Father Duroc" using an amazing chemical treatment.  After being given a magical costume, Steele became V-Man, defender of his homeland against the Nazi threat.

V-Man was assisted in his adventures by the V-Boys.  Which, by the way, you're welcome to join...

One thing I find really interesting about V-Man is the "dot-dot-dot-dash" that often accompanies him, including on the cover of his short-lived series V Comics.  It's Morse code for "V"...and is slyly used later on for a similar character, the Puppeteer, who is transformed into his superhero mode whenever his talking bald eagle Raven plays Beethoven's Fifth Symphony on a magic pipe organ.  Not only is the whole eagle-playing-Beethoven thing an amazing high concept, the "dot-dot-dot-dash" is a nice representation of the symphony's well known opening...

Maybe some of you reading this are already familiar with V-Man.  He's significant enough to be among the select comic book heroes over at the PDSH site to actually have a Wikipedia page.  While Dogwood City's heroes know of his apparent death in the 1940s, there have recently been some rumors swirling that his body has been found, and that efforts have begun to revive him once more...

Real name:  Jerry Steele
Level 6
5 Hero Dice
Defense 13

2 fists (melee) +5 (1D damage)

V-Man inspires those who fight with him; his allies gain +2 to all attack and saving throws while they are within 30 feet of him.

V-Boy (typical)
Level 1
1 Hero Die
Defense 11

Fist (melee) +1 (1D damage)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Dogwood City A to Z: The Unknown

Wow, just one week to go in the A to Z Challenge!  I've been pleasantly surprised...surprised at the direction Dogwood City has taken as I've hit on more mystical than science-fictional superpowers, and also surprised that I like this direction as much as I do.  I think it'd be cool to work in at least one "cosmic observer" type, like the hosts that traditionally introduce horror comics.  I hit upon Retribution over at the Public Domain Super Heroes wiki:

I thought he might be a nice character to include, but upon first seeing this 1955 story, I assumed Retribution was just a knock-off of a certain member of the Trenchcoat Brigade.  Eventually, though, I found that this story actually reprints a much older tale from 1946:

The Unknown predates the Phantom Stranger by more than six years!  Very cool, I thought!  Welcome to Dogwood City, I said!

The Unknown has a short and sweet writeup over at the PDSH wiki.  He's a horror story host that some speculate is an incarnation of the Unknown Soldier.  I love the idea of the Unknown playing the role of observer, advisor, and sometime-participant in the mystical events that swirl around Dogwood City.

His appearance did change a bit over time, as later artwork showed him as more of a ghostly hooded figure...

I have to say, though, I really like the classic look with the fedora.  I guess there's just something about trenchcoats that I've been conditioned to associate with magic.

The Unknown
Real name:  Unknown (as in no one knows it; it's not "Unknown")
Level ?
20 Hero Dice
Defense 20*

Wave of the hand (melee or ranged) +20 (1D damage)*

Mastery:  Human nature, the occult, the cosmos

The Unknown can grant any other character a chance to rewrite fate.  On a successful saving throw, the character's player may establish a plot point that must be worked into the story by the GM.

*The Unknown rarely engages in combat; when he does, he can only be hit on a roll of a natural 20.  If the Unknown somehow reaches 0 hit points, he simply disappears.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dogwood City A to Z: Typhon

We first met Typhon a few days ago, when he encountered Queen Mea of the Sea Amazons.  He's another science-adventurer type, focusing on underwater missions and just generally being a badass.

Typhon commands a fleet of submarines.  The writers of his stories really like to note how advanced his subs are.  And...they really are pretty cool looking...

Most importantly, though, Typhon gets to fight weird sea creatures.  Like the kraken...

...and this electric sea monster thing...

...and of course, let's not forget the sea demons...

Overall, Typhon's adventures are pretty exquisitely batshit crazy.  I'm starting to think that the title he appeared in, Weird Comics, should be required reading for aficionados of Golden Age strangeness.  Here he is at the PDSH wiki, and here he is as he visits Dogwood City for scientific collaboration and informal meetings on saving the world:

Full name:  Alexander Typhon
Level 5
4 Hero Dice
Defense 13

Fist (melee) +4 (1D damage)
Ray gun (ranged) +4 (2D damage)

Mastery:  Navigation

Typhon wears a ring that grants him +4 to all saving throws vs. magic.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Dogwood City A to Z: The Space Rovers

Before the month closes, I want to make sure to return to some good old adventurer characters (such as the previously covered Explorer Joe) that bring to mind some really cool Silver Age heroes like the Challengers of the Unknown, the Sea Devils, and even Adam Strange.  The next couple of days are going to hit a few of these.  Today, we have the Space Rovers:

Jane Martin and Ted Hunt (PDSH link) have an origin amazingly suitable for space adventurers in 1940.  Jane's father Matthew (an engineering professor at Midtown Technological University in Dogwood City, by the way) invented a rocket ship.  His co-builder was Ted's older brother Douglas.  There was a trial journey slated to go to the moon.

Well, wouldn't you know it...some secret agents/gangsters came to steal the ship, and Jane was forced to make a quick decision to save her father's work.  She blasted off with only Ted accompanying her, and they proceeded to have a series of thrilling adventures as the Space Rovers!

Their tales are pretty much what you'd expect from comic book planetary romance in the early 1940s.  I think these stories and tropes are colorful and fun and could read them all day.  True to the era, the Space Rovers seemed to focus mostly on our own solar system, landing on Mercury in their very first adventure.  Their Dogwood City-originating versions will almost certainly need to venture beyond the mundane confines of our little patch of planets.

Jane Martin/Ted Hunt (same stats)
Level 2
2 Hero Dice
Defense 12

Fist (melee) +2 (1D damage)
Attack +2 (by weapon)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Dogwood City A to Z: Rhoa

On Tuesday, I alluded to further time travelers in the Dogwood City universe.  Rhoa is the daughter of two of these characters, Dr. Gregg and his wife, who took on the somewhat strange opinion that the modern world is too they'd rather live in the Stone Age.  Rhoa, then, was the princess of the lost kingdom of Athala.

She's initially presented as a pretty strong character:

As often seems to be the case with women in old comics, however, her love for a boy eventually turned her into a sappy pile of time-traveling mush:

Dogwood City is a great place for Rhoa and her beau, Jack, to settle upon returning to the modern day.  Her father, Dr. Gregg, was a professor at Dogwood City University before his move through the timestream and was a close colleague of Professor Fenton.  I really like the idea of giving Dogwood City's time travel stories a new angle, and adventuring in the Paleolithic Era has interested me for a while now.

Rhoa seems to have just one story in the public domain archives, as her second appearance is just a reprint.  Here she is at the Public Domain Super Heroes site.

aka Princess Rhoa of Athala, Rhoa Gregg
Level 3
3 Hero Dice
Defense 12

Fist (melee) +3 (1D damage)
Bow (ranged) +3 (1D damage)

Mastery:  Wilderness survival

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Dogwood City A to Z: Queen Mea

In another step toward adding the mystical, the magical...the freakish and the Dogwood City universe, today I present Queen Mea.

Mea is the ruler of the undersea realm of Mermea, inhabited by a people known as the Sea Amazons.  That's sort of a double whammy as far as comic book races go!

In one of the adventures of the underwater adventurer Typhon, the hero notices a pack of raiders known as sea demons...

Their target:  Mermea!  Queen Mea leads her kingdom against the foes, commanding both her troops and the fantastic Guardian of Mermea, which is a pretty awesome monster.

While Queen Mea clearly resides beneath the sea for the most part, she is often found in Dogwood City, being a founding member of the iconic hero team known as the Association with colleagues such as Nature Man, the Black Lion, the Arrow, the Owl, and Margo the Magician.  Like the heroes we know as Diana and Orin, most people in the world of Dogwood City probably call her a different name.  I don't know that Wonderaquawoman is a good maybe something like the Queen of Tides.  Here she is at the PDSH wiki.

Queen Mea
aka Mea of Mermea, the Queen of Tides
Level 10
8 Hero Dice
Defense 15

Fist (melee) +8 (1D damage)
Blast gun (ranged) +8 (2D damage)

Queen Mea fights equally well on land and underwater.  When fighting in water against those who are not used to it, she will typically gain an advantage of +4 to Defense and all attack rolls.

With a successful saving throw, Queen Mea is able to command sea creatures.

Queen Mea can use magic as a 1st-level Magic-user and gains +4 to rolls related to magic involving the element of water.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Dogwood City A to Z: Professor Fenton

Time travel is a...hrm, time-honored tradition in comic book settings.  Dogwood City could use a little.

Dogwood City also needs more villains.

This is Professor Fenton.  He helps out on both fronts.

First off, kudos on the hair.  The boys on 90210 would be hella proud of that pompadour.

Now, Professor Fenton served as a pretty important villain for the Ghost back in the day.  Fenton invented a time machine.  It's actually kind of trippy.

Naturally, he started kidnapping worthy victims and stranding them back in time.  It really wasn't a terrible plan...

Professor Fenton teaches and maintains a laboratory at Dogwood City's prestigious Midtown Technological University.  He is a key figure in the scientific community of the city and, indeed, the entire setting.  Most are unaware of his criminal side, although this is sure to change as he comes into contact with more time-traveling Dogwood City denizens.  We'll see who they are in just a couple of days.

Professor Fenton
Full name:  Dr. Robert Fenton, Jr.
Level 2
2 Hit Dice
Defense 12

Attack +2 (by weapon)

Mastery:  Physics, Engineering

Monday, April 18, 2016

Dogwood City A to Z: The Owl

This is the Owl:

Winged heroes are quite a tradition in comics.  For example:

And then there's...

See also:

So anyway, I think Dogwood City should have one, too.  The Owl fits in nicely, as he is known to be from the American south.  He's a librarian.

Don't let the edumacation fool you, though...he's a southern boy to the core, as we can see on the very next page:

He and his dad live in a cabin in the swamp, you see.  In what seems to be his only appearance, the Owl is shown to be able to fly around 200 mph, to communicate via radio with his father, and to use a haunting war cry of "Hoo! Hoo!"

It's tempting to chuckle at the Owl, but trust me, this hero thing isn't a game to him...

Here he is at the wiki, and here he is for gaming:

The Owl
Real name:  Jack Isaac
Level 6
5 Hero Dice
Defense 13

Wing slap (melee) +5 (1D damage)

Using his winged suit, the Owl can fly at up to 200 miles per hour.  The suit also contains a communication device.

At the beginning of combat, the Owl can give off a war cry as a free action.  Enemies who fail to succeed at a saving throw lose their first round of action.