Thursday, April 12, 2018

E is for Earths

...of the parallel variety, that is.

I'd love for Light City to be accessible for all sorts of supers gaming.  I also just love a good, wacky multiverse.  Here's a little sample what's been discovered so far by the fringe physicists of Light City:


Earth-Alpha:  The "prime" Light City universe.  In my head, anyway.  Heck, maybe every individual game world is its own Earth-Alpha.  That's the beauty of a prime universe: It's forever malleable, ready to be retconned, revised, and updated for the present time!

Earth-Beta:  The first parallel universe to be found, when Nature Man traversed the elemental planes and found his counterpart from this alternate Earth.  The boom in superheroics occurred much earlier here (in the 1940s...folks with masks and powers were a huge part of the Allied victory in World War II).  Some heroes, like Black Lion, are fairly similar between Earths Alpha and Beta, aside from age.  Others, such as the Flame, differ enough that it's hard to even trace how they're connected.  Still others have no known counterpart on the other Earth.


Earth-Gamma:  An Earth where The Assembly is the premier superhero team rather than The Association.  Cities don't all have the word "City" in their names.  And the movies tend to be a lot better.

Earth-Theta:  Here, an aged Black Lion came out of retirement in the 1980s to clean up his beloved Empire City after it had fallen deep into a crime wave.  He ended up facing off against his old pal Wonder Man, who has become a tool of the American government.

Earth-Mu:  A world of anthropomorphic cats.  And superheroes.  So, yeah, superhero cats.


Earth-Nu:  This universe has many of the same figures as Earth-Alpha, but the age of heroes began in the mid-1950s.  There are lots of apes, and Wonder Man is kind of a dick who spends a lot of time making his girlfriend look like an idiot.  Scholars of the Multiverse aren't quite clear on whether or not this is actually the same world as Earth-Theta.

Earth-Xi:  Pretty much everything on this world appears to be made out of toy bricks.


There are a lot more of them out there!  (You might even say they're dump bump.)  I'm definitely interested in knowing what sorts of parallel Earths you would want to encounter in a superhero multiverse!

D is for Dogwood City

I'll make this one quick!  The world of Light City, and really the project itself, is a pretty natural extension of the the trip through the alphabet that I took on this blog two years ago, when I made my first attempt at constructing a superhero setting out of public domain characters.  The focus that year was Dogwood City, based in my mind upon the large southern city that I lived in at the time.

I guess I sort of fell in love with the process, because shaping the details of such a fictional world in my head has become almost an addiction over time.  Seriously, I think about stuff like...oh, how different heroes' debuts should fall on a timeline a LOT more than you'd probably think someone should consider such "facts."  At least Light City is giving me a bit of an outlet for it now!

Anyway, there's really no reason that Light City and Dogwood City shouldn't be on the same map.  (In my little section of the multiverse, anyway...!)  Perhaps there'll be a chance to look at geography in a little more detail in the coming days.  For now, let's take a quick second look at the flagship hero of Dogwood City...Nature Man!

Oh.  Yeah, that was it.  That WAS the quick second look.  Maybe we'll take a slower look when the letter N rolls around.

Up next:  EARTHS!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

C is for The Club

The Club is the premier "teen team" of Earth-Alpha, initially formed by some of the younger companions of members of The Association.  At its founding, The Club consisted of just four heroes:  Nature Boy, Cub, Melanippe (sister of Hippolyta), and Leora (niece of the Sea Amazons' Queen Mea).

Nature Boy

The Club would go through a number of lineup changes over the years, eventually including heroes such as Young Robin Hood (operating out of Forest City) and Rainbow Boy.  The team later became widely known as The New Club, and as young adults, its members would form a related group called The Crew, leaving the Club moniker to a new generation of young superheroes.

(Nature Boy, of course, would slowly become less involved with the team after taking up the mantle of his mentor, Nature Man, upon the hero's death saving the multiverse.  As Nature Man, David Crandall would eventually join The Association.)

Monday, April 9, 2018

B is for Black Lion

Only nine days into the month, and I'm already on the letter B!  So let's see, looking at the A to Z calendar... hmm, carry the 2, and I should catch up sometime around no shot in hell.

Oh well.  Onward!  We just took a quick look at Black Lion on Wednesday as one of the keystone members of The Association.  He was also one of the first characters I covered two years ago when I pondered a superhero universe centered on Dogwood City for my first go at the A to Z blogging challenge.  To recap:

Ten years ago, George Davis's brother was stabbed to death for a diamond he possessed.  This senseless act of violence motivated George to take on a persona that would be the bane of criminals everywhere...

And so, we have a dark-clad hero, driven by revenge and operating at the peak of human physical condition...the Black Lion!

Not the MOST original background, but originality is pretty much the opposite of what I'm looking for here.  I imagine him to be one of the most prominent heroes in the prime Light City Universe.  (Hopefully I can be forgiven for some inconsistency in whether or not he gets a "the" before his name.  Even the Batman can vary in that regard.)

And to stat him up for Light City...well, I may as well pull liberally from my previous thoughts on the hero that Black Lion is undoubtedly based upon (hey, I already included the Lion-arang when I gave him rough stats two years ago...!).

Black Lion
Level 7 Brawler
Real name:  George Davis (secret)
First appearance:  Wonderworld Comics #21 (1941)
STR 16     DEX 13     CON 12     INT 18     WIS 18     CHA 16
7 HD (25 HP)     Saving Throw 8
AC 8[11] (Lion-suit)
Attacks:  3x Unarmed Strikes, +8 to hit, 1d6+1 damage; Lionarang, range 60 ft., +7 to hit, 1d6+1 damage; Special Improvisation 1x/day.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Hmm...well, A is for The Association

How's it going, internet?  It's been a while!

So, there've been a couple of months of big transition for me, as I went from living just outside the perimeter of Atlanta, GA, to a little old rural farmhouse nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina.  My wife Laura got what is essentially a dream job working at a newly opened Behavioral Rehabilitation Center for the ASPCA, and I have happily tagged along to see what adventures await.  Thus far, that's meant I've spent a lot of time following groundhogs back to their den entrances, hanging out with all the four-legged kids that we moved here from Georgia, and pondering/worrying about what the heck I'm gonna do with my life.  All of which somehow take a lot more time than you'd think...somehow...and blogging has fallen to the side in that setup.

But...April is here, and it's time to A to Z!  I just couldn't let the month pass without taking part in the blitz blogging event that has been so much fun for me the past two years.  So this month, I planned to explore, in alphabetical fashion, random thoughts related to the game and setting of Light City, the little superhero RPG project that I started working on last year, based on the excellent game Swords & Wizardry Light.  Unfortunately, not only did I miss the window to be an official A to Z participant, but I've failed to even get the first post up anywhere close to on time.

But...that's not gonna hold me back!  Just consider this my own little half-assed, guerrilla A to Z effort.  With a little luck, maybe I'll get through M by the end of the month!

If you want a quick introduction to Light City...and there are plans in the works to get a more ideal/complete intro to the setting available for might want to check out the short RPG supplement The Assembly (which has quick rules for making characters in the style of a certain Marvel Comics superteam) or look at +Justin Isaac's excellent master list of Light City content.  (And let me note, by the way, that while I've been slack as heck, Justin has not only been absolutely killin' it with Light City material, he's also unleashed a brand new Old West game, a clever SWL mod called Six-Shooters & WagonsCheck it out!)


Also, wow, that was a wordy intro.  And maybe too many hyperlinks.  Oh well.  Time to start the A to Zing.  A is for...

The Association

The Association is widely regarded as the premier super-team in the prime continuity (Earth-Alpha) of the Light City Multiverse.  Originally formed as an ad hoc effort to fend off the global domination scheme of the intergalactic echinoderm known as the Space Urchin, the heroes decided to continue working together whenever their combined skills were needed.

The Association's lineup has varied considerably over the years and has included heroes such as the Flame, Samson, the Green Giant, Silver Streak, and the Atomic Thunderbolt.  Additionally, the team has strong ties to some heroes whose membership status is debatable, such as Cub and the Wandering Nephil.  Many incarnations of The Association, however, have included the following heroes as a core:

Wonder Man
Operating out of Empire City, Wonder Man was one of the first costumed heroes to appear in the Light City Universe (which is why individuals with powers are often referred to as wonderheroes).

Black Lion
Hitting the super-scene in Empire City about the same time as Wonder Man, Black Lion works to keep the streets clean with the help of his sidekick Cub.  Black Lion is highly respected as perhaps the greatest mind on Earth-Alpha.

Legendary queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta is often regarded as a role model for the girls of Earth.  However, she strives to be a symbol of courage and power for all of humanity.

Queen Mea
Ruler of a splinter group of Hippolyta's people known as the Sea Amazons, Mea's primary concern is the defense of the world's oceans.  She is also a formidable warrior on The Association's many non-aquatic adventures, although her prowess on dry land has somehow become a running joke among observers of metahumans.

The Arrow
The finest archer on the planet, the Arrow serves as a strong supporter of his teammates and, quite often, as the conscience of the group.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

This Day in Anthro History: Roni and the 1980 Winter Olympics

As the 2018 Winter Olympics play out in PyeongChang, we look back 38 years to this day in 1980, when the opening ceremony for that year's games took place in Lake Placid, NY (although events actually started the day before).

Representing the games that year was none other than Roni, a friendly humanoid raccoon who is as comfortable on skis as he is in a trash can...

While the anthropomorphic animal mascot is pretty commonplace these days, as far as I can tell, this was the first Olympics to use an anthro critter as the face of the games!  (Previous games had used animal mascots, but none walked/skied/skated like humans that I can find...!)

I think a raccoon was a pretty outstanding's a native animal, the mask is meant to resemble the eyewear worn by winter athletes, and the rings on the tail are a great nod to the Olympic rings (assuming that was the intention...!).

Thursday, February 1, 2018

This Day in Anthro History: Left Shark!

On this day in 2015, Katy Perry headlined the halftime show for Super Bowl XLIX.  As usual with her stage show, she had dancers.

Left Shark is the one to the...left.  Image from

Presumably using some sort of mutagenic ooze, or perhaps an advanced form of radiation treatment, Perry procured two bipedal, dancing sharks to be part of her crew.  And by the next day, one of them had stolen the internet.  The shark on the viewer's left - who has since become widely known as "Left Shark" - performed some goofy choreography (perhaps non-choreography?) that really captured our hearts that night.

Here's part of the performance in question which includes the key moves (it is worth checking out the full peformance, though; all of her dancing stuff is pretty funny):

Now, I'll be honest with you.  I didn't see this as it was occurring, and once I heard all the buzz and watched it, it was kind of hard to tell which one was the one that "messed up."  They both look goofy as anything and make me laugh a lot.  But it's the one on the viewer's left.

I'm pretty sure.

Anyway, this post is especially timely, as the dancer in question (presumably de-mutated at some point following the show), Bryan Gaw, has finally begun talking about that night.  Here's the piece from NPR where he explains that the goofiness was all part of the plan.  And if that's really the case...well, I'd say it worked pretty darn well!

Seriously, watch the sharks dance.  Puts me in a good mood every time.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

New in Light City: Welcome to The Assembly!

I'm very happy to announce that there's a new Light City product available for download on your favorite OneBookShelf storefront:  The Assembly!

The Assembly is a two-page add-on for Swords & Wizardry Light that stays true to the original SWL philosophy of encouraging quick-start play by covering just a few levels.  You can print it out and tuck it inside your SWL folder to make it just about as easy to get a supers game going as a traditional fantasy outing.

This new release includes work by +Justin Isaac as well as my usual rambling.  It covers three new classes (The Brick, The Marksman, and The Supersoldier), some modern and comic booky weapons, and a bunch of baddies that fit the four-color theme.  You can even use it to play some of your favorite cinematic heroes, should you be so inclined.  And of course, it's free!

I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think if you get a chance!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Light City: Johnny Storm

Elemental Week continues!  Just another set of stats for a mini I'm looking to put onto the Light City tabletop...

Human Torch

Level 7 Elemental
First appearance:  Fantastic Four #1 (1961)
Real name:  Johnny Storm (public)

STR 14     DEX 18(+1)     CON 13     INT 12     WIS 11     CHA 15(+1)
5 HD (19 HP)     Saving Throw 9     Flight (48 ft.)
AC 6[13] (flame shield)

Attack:  Fire Blast, +4 to hit, 1d6+1 fire damage, range 60 ft.
Elemental Powers (7x/day):  Flame Missile (a la Magic Missile), Knock/Lock, Light I, Radial Blast.

(Like Hal Jordan, original Fantastic Four member Johnny probably doesn't need much introduction, but here's a link to his Marvel Database page for reference.  Hal and Johnny would be a fun pair to put together in a story, actually...

Ah!  Here's a cover for a GL/FF story that Ross posted over on the amazing Super-Team Family blog...!)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Light City: Hal Jordan

It might turn out to be Elemental Week here at Monstrous Matters!  Just statting out some characters that are on my mind or haphazardly transplanted from Clix bases to put on the table for Light City...

Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)

Level 7 Elemental
First appearance:  Showcase #22 (1959)
Real name:  Hal Jordan (secret, I guess...)

(Hal probably doesn't need much introduction, but here he is at the DC Database.  Also, I snagged his stats from Taliesin's Mutants & Masterminds builds at the Atomic Think Tank...!)

STR 14     DEX 16(+1)     CON 14     INT 14     WIS 18(+1)     CHA 14
5 HD (20 HP)     Saving Throw 9     Flight (48 ft.)
AC 6[13] (green aura)

Attack:  Green Blast, +4 to hit, 1d6+1 willpower damage, range 60 ft.
Elemental Powers (7x/day):  Construct, Elemental Shield, Green Missile (a la Magic Missile), Hold.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Four-color thought experiment: Drafting a superhero universe

So, I've had this running through my head for a bit...really just a fun thing to ponder, but I actually think it would be a cool exercise to carry out at some point.

What if you took all of the superheroes out there, put them into a pot, and allowed the major comic book publishers to draft their rosters in the manner of American professional sports leagues?  (I'm sure some leagues in other countries do it, too, but it's more of an American phenomenon, as far as I know...)  To make it interesting, we'd let more than the Big Two in on it...maybe five or six entities...or hell, a hundred, since this is all hypothetical anyway...could choose their group of heroes to publish.

If you were in charge of choosing, how would you go about it?  Do you just pick the most popular characters out of what's available?  Your favorites?  Do you go for synergy above all?  Do you pick a theme and look for consistency?

There are a lot of fun wrinkles to consider.  Once you pick a member of the X-Men, do you feel the need to lock in mutant prejudice as part of your world?  If you first-pick Superman (one of the obvious top picks, I think), does his power level limit your choices the rest of the way?

And who would be the first character outside of Marvel and DC that's worth picking?  Spawn?  Hellboy?  Faith?  Popeye (sure, he's in there)?

There would have to be some specific ground rules that I haven't really ironed out...doesn't seem like it would make much sense to let someone have, say, Superman, but then let Supergirl go somewhere else.  Green Lanterns and the Fantastic Four present issues that would have to be addressed.  Those details are part of the fun of thinking about this, though.

From where I stand, there's really just one obvious first pick, no matter your overall strategy:

From the DC Database.

Probably the most popular superhero (and maybe the most popular fictional character) on the planet...extremely adaptable...doesn't have powers that warp the rest of the's hard to see why anyone would choose anyone else.  Even if no members of the Family come along, Bats is worth it.

In my mind, it gets a lot hairier after that, though.  Based on my vision of an ideal superhero universe, with nods to both popularity and my own favorites, this is how I'd rank my top ten picks (at the moment, anyway)...

1. Batman
2. Spider-Man
3. Wonder Woman
4. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan if I have to pick one)
5. Captain America
6. The Hulk
7. Aquaman
8. However many members of the Fantastic Four I could get with one pick
9. The Flash (Barry Allen if I have to pick one)
10. Wolverine

I'd love to know how some of y'all would go about this...!