Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Save Vs Conan: The Monster of the Monoliths

Save Vs Conan: The Monster of the Monoliths
Conan the Barbarian #21, December, 1972
Roy Thomas/ Barry Windsor Smith

The Makkalet Epic chronicles the siege of the titular city. It runs through issues 19-26 of Conan the Barbarian. It’s a flurry of battles; captures and escapes. Conan switches sides a couple of times, and leaves the entire area only to return more than once, too. These are the last of BWS issues,and the first of John Buscema’s. Red Sonja makes her first appearance in issue 24 (BWS’ last).  

In issue 21, after getting the sexy-eye and a fancy armlet from the queen Conan leaves Makkalet with a band of soldiers, bound for  an ally of the city to request aide. The soldiers stop along the way. They kidnap some hapless girl and tie both her and Conan to slabs of stone set between two large stone blocks. A giant frog thing is summoned and it kills a bunch of guys- but seems really focused on Conan. The armlet given to him by the queen has the exact same runic markings as the monolith. Both sets of script are glowing. Conan realizes the armlet attracts the monster. He tosses it to one of the soldiers. The frog monster eats the dude and vanishes in a puff of smoke. 

This one seems to be useable in a variety of settings and genres.
Here, however, are the key components:
A traitorous power with lackeys
A poisoned gift(s) (i.e., something that attracts the monster- like the armlet).
A journey with a seeming purpose
A battleground (e.g., temple; center of ring of standing stones; arena; rouge asteroid; highway- really, wherever). 
A monster (e.g., frog demon; warbot; dragon; Hulk, whatever). The entity vanishes, destructs or just leaves after the destruction of the poisoned gift. 

I suggest, that rather than taking all the PC’s stuff and leaving them tied to a slab naked, that the referee use a little more finesse.  Have the lackeys lead  the PCs to the battleground, and leave them there, trapped, somehow; but with gear and weapons intact. The monster should be formidable enough that it wont matter. 
There should be some dark hints and foreboding leading up to all this - and at least one opportunity for the PC’s to suss out the trap. I find that whether the PCs get fooled or not, the results to such a scam are very satisfying on both side of the screen, but only if there was a viable way out at some point. 
Otherwise, it’s cheating. 
Either way- the players are going to want revenge upon the giver of the poisoned gift(s), which will lead to its own set of adventures. 

Google +pk

So it’s just about over on G+. Yesterday notifications stopped working and I gave up.
You can contact me here- just make a commetn in any old post and I get an email even if it’s from 2009.
Or you can just email me- the address is the same “themetalearth at gmail dot com” don’t forget the “the” or it goes to someone else on another continet.
My instagram (where  post finished art only) is linked on the right side as is my discord tag. i have server too, you can join. i don’t expect mush will happen there, though.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Save VS Conan PSA

PSA: Save vs Thomas/BWS Conan

Normally, this feature will deal with specific stories from specific comics- but due to circumstances beyond my control I’m going to make a PSA.
This book, containing BWS entire run and a ton of cool extras, came out earlier this week. It is as cheap as it’s ever going to be right now. Roy Thomas is THE comic book conan writer- no one comes close. BWS is THE Conan artis (right behind John Buscema, I mean). 
I am not affiliated with IST- but I love comics and I want YOU to have comics. It’s what Crom wants too. Sadly, by Crom only the ugly cover remains. That’s how civilized folk are. In Cimmera everyone would have gotten the same cover or none at all!

I’ve also heard that a lack of regular Conan comics is associated with ED. 

Rpg uses- there’s a useable adventure seed in pretty much every issue. We’ll get to a few inthe near future. 
 Edit: This is not a recolor- but it is on white glossy paper- and is a new printing so it will look different than your originals. Pictured below on the left is the DH recolor; to the right is the current omnibus. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Cutting Online Screen Time

Reducing My online screen time
Lately, I’ve been making a solid attempt to reduce my screen time in general and my active online time especially. I am also interested in restoring my attention span. I’m not really talking about research or destination reading. 

I could just avoid going online altogether, but that hasn’t worked so well for me in the past. 

With that out of that out of the way:

What I don’t like about the internet:
It’s a distraction, an emotional and intellectual drain and a barrier to getting work done- in short, when used without moderation, the internet is not so much a waste of time as it is an active pollutant of time. If you think it’s harmless, cool. Get lost, as implied above, I have no time for you. 

How do we reduce online screen time? The answers are simple, but require effort to put into practice: also all of these come with an unwritten “when/where it’s possible” clause

  1. Commit to the physical world to whatever degree you can manage. If you want to do this you must want to do it.
  2. This is the key- fight fire with fire. If the internet is a barrier and a distraction- it is in part due to its infinite nature. These days, whenever I feel the urge to get online- I find something else to do until the urge passes. I read a comic book; or a chapter from a novel; or walk the dog; or do some pull ups; I can even write a blog post. If I am working- I work. There are probably a dozen or more better ways to spend your time within arms reach of you right now. I think it’s best to keep the distractions shortish in the beginning- unless you can be consumed by work or reading or a movie marathon or what have you, in which case this is a very good option.
  3. It’s probably best to work at reducing your screen time ingeneral. Turn your devices off if you can. This creates a moment to resist the impulse to go on line, “just for a minute.” 
  4. Go back to or engage with physical media whenever it is feasible. Collecting physical media is another good distraction. 
  5. If possible keep your new activities close at hand ready to go instantly.
  6. Infinite choices are your true enemy: when you do go online, plan your consumption; go with a destination and purpose. This includes stuff like streaming movies- it’s best if you know what you want ahead of time. An hour browsing Netflix is no better than an hour arguing about class and level limits for the 70th time. I get my movies from the bargain bin; the choices are generally way better than what you can stream; but I’d rather pay full price than spend half the night looking for something that doesn’t suck- finite choices are your best friend. 
  7. Online shopping isn’t so bad if you have at least an idea of what you want. Sometimes it’s the only way. But if you want to browse without the internet, go to a used bookstore or even a B&N; they all sell movies and vinyls now. Buy camping gear; go camping. Find something amongst the finite choices that interests you- and then go buy it online for less money- unless it’s cheaper in meatspace, in which case buy it there.  
  8. Keep in touch with text, calls or email, not social media. This is pretty key.
  9. Get an NES classic.
  10. That’s all I got; any suggestions

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Fractal Setting 2

Pic unrelated?

Heroes: Individuals who sacrifice their own interest in service to those who are unable to help themselves. Heroes often, but not always, have special resources, skills and/or powers. 
Heroes can work alone or in groups. Both egalitarian and hierarchical groups  exist.  Heroes generally arrange hierarchies  based upon experience and intelligence.  Hero motivations vary, but the greater good is nearly always the foundational philosophy of the hero. 

Villains: Individuals driven by selfishness and greed, often remorseless; power hungry; murderous and cruel.  Villains always have a hierarchy based on power and fear. Fear is power. Most villains, regardless of their place in the hierarchy,  have similar goals: To gain, expand and exploit turf. Villain hierarchies are generally arranged in a pyramid style. The desires of the chief villain have more impact on the arrangement of the pyramid than the power of fear. Villains often feel they have a monopoly on the use of violence. 
Governments operate in exactly the same manner as villains. 

Citizens: The vast and overwhelming majority of beings who live and die in the turf the villains exploit and the heroes protect. All citizens are in danger all the time, but citizens attached to a hero in even the most ephemeral way are in constant danger from every imaginable sort of hazard, ranging from abduction to cancer to meteor strike- anything can (and will) happen to these people. 

Forces: Inscrutable beings of immense personal power. Forces act according to their own mysterious and motivations, often with catastrophic consequences. Forces manifest  in countless ways; some examples: a living planet; a giant life hating robot; planet eating space monsters; a vast, sentient space storm bent on the eradication of everything; and a swarm of hive minded space bugs

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Save Vs. Comics # 1


Thimble Theatre Presents: “Witch Whistle” 
22 pages
Bud Sagendorf
Popeye # 12 
Currently available in Popeye classics V3 Ed. Christopher Yo. 

Elements of note: 
Recurring Villain; powerful magic item (the titular whistle); unbalanced adventure party; nautical and airborne action; mystery; escape. 

Synopsis: The farmers of Spinichovia are disappearing. Ignorant of the crisis, Popeye, Olive and Wimpy arrive on the coast. Giant vultures abduct Olive and Wimpy, fly the pair to a hidden castle and lock them up with about a hundred farmers all of whom are nearly identical (clones?).

Soon after their incarceration, Olive and Wimpy discover that the Sea Hag is in charge of the castle; furthermore, she controls millions of giant vultures with her magic whistle. She used the giant birds to kidnap the farmers. The Sea Hag never really explains her plan in regards to the farmers. 

Discovering that Popeye is nearby, the Hag sends 500 vultures to slay him. Popeye defeats the vultures, but falls from the sky, smashes through the roof of the castle and into he dungeon, where he meets Olive and Wimpy. 

In the course of their subsequent escape attempt, the trio encounters the Sea Hag, who proposes matrimony to Popeye. Eschewing the customary can of spinach, Olive opts to open a family size can of whupass instead. Beaten within an inch of her life, the Sea Hag survives, but in a subdued state. Popeye and company take her whistle and, using the vultures, return all the farmers to their homes. 
The end.

This story, like many Popeye stories, invokes a mood that lies at a right angle to both high and low fantasy and emanates a  sort of whimsical, fairytale vibe instead. The art style mirrors this perfectly, giving equal weight to swashbuckling adventure; character warmth; slapstick, tall tale physics and fantasy. 

5 cans of spinach out of 5


Science Fiction: Pilots and navigators have been vanishing from the local spaceport. Star-Kahn a notorious space pirate possess advanced mind control technology. Using an army of rogue robots moving through a secret tunnel complex beneath the space port, Star-Kahn kidnapped the spacers. He intends to brainwash them into crewing his armada. His captives are hidden in a domed city somewhere far away from the space port. Star-kahn requires a special cybernetic implant to control the robots. 

The adventure begins upon the discovery of the hidden tunnels. Where do they lead- to answers- or horrible death? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Fractal Superhero Setting creation 1

(Image from Cosmic Tales #1)

Fractal Campaign Creation 

A complex and satisfying campaign requires a solid and coherent setting. Superhero settings range in scale from a single city to a multiverse and often encompass elements such as time travel and alternate reality as well. 
Despite this variation in scope, most settings and sub-settings share a similar array of traits, differing from one another in degree, but not kind. This similarity in characteristics, regardless of scale, allows one setting to be nested within another, i.e., a neighborhood within a city; a city within a country; a country within a continent; a continent on a planet; a planet in a solar system; a solar system in a galaxy; a galaxy in a cluster; a cluster in a universe;  a universe in a multiverse and so on. 

These traits are as follows:

Four classes of sentient beings exist: Villains; citizens; superheroes and forces; each engages reality with unique motivations; behaviors and philosophies.

Environment is often, at least in part, a reflection of the villain(s) and, in game terms, should be thought of as an hostile NPC. Otherwise environment should contain several landmarks, hazards, wonders and mysteries. 

History reduces to the following: The beginning; the good old days; the disaster- which leads up to the present, AKA: This fallen world. 
Each class of sentients views the same history through a different lens. 
Origins profoundly impact the present.
Historically speaking, everyone feels put upon. 

Turf belongs to someone. Turf unprotected will fall to chaos. Villains claim their turf in an explicit and hierarchal manner; heroes, perforce operating in the same territory, assert their claim in much more passive, implicit and (often grudging) egalitarian manner. Turf wars manifest in many different ways and provide the initial impetus for numerous conflicts.