Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative

Home Of Swords, Sorcery, Superheroes, Sonic Screwdrivers, Supernatural Scares, Star Stuff, Sci-fi, Smeg, and Silliness

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Okay, You Have My Interest...

The Shadow Fold. To destroy it, we need a miracle. Shadow and Bone coming April 23, only on Netflix.

"Ripley, You've Blown The Transaxle! You're Just Grinding Metal!"

Looking to beef up your games of Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps?

Then you need this detailed model of the iconic M577 APC from the movie, to act as an eye-catching piece of terrain.

Available only direct from the Gale Force 9 webstore, for $50, this is a multi part resin kit, so assembly is required and it doesn't come pre-painted.

Produced to order, and in limited numbers, delivery of the APC may take up to 120 days from the time of ordering.

Completed 160mm x 65mm x 60m model shown with figures for scale

Hobbit Life...

Saturday, 27 February 2021

More Solar Opposites Will Be Landing Soon...


The first two episodes of the first season of Solar Opposites only became available in the UK this week, with the arrival of Star through Disney+, but that doesn't mean I'm not excited for the announcement of another season of this potty-mouthed, most definitely NSFW, Rick and Morty-adjacent cartoon madness.

Marvel Comedy With A Mental Organism Designed Only for Laughter...

In Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K., the megalomaniacal supervillain M.O.D.O.K. (Patton Oswalt) has long pursued his dream of one day conquering the world. 
But after years of setbacks and failures fighting the Earth’s mightiest heroes, M.O.D.O.K. has run his evil organization A.I.M. into the ground. 
Ousted as A.I.M.’s leader, while also dealing with his crumbling marriage and family life, the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing is set to confront his greatest challenge yet!

In Space No One Can Hear You Moving Around A Board Avoiding The Alien


Due for release in August, Alien: Fate of the Nostromo is a new co-op game from Ravensburger that allows players to take the roles of the Nostromo crew as you try to rewrite their fates, trapped on the cargo ship with the seemingly unstoppable alien lifeform.

Designed for one to five players, the game includes six miniatures (see below), a board depicting the Nostromo, and assorted illustrated cards.

In Alien: Fate of the Nostromo, players take the role of Nostromo crew members Ripley, Lambert, Parker, Brett, or Dallas.
Over the course of the game, they collect scrap, craft items, and fulfill different objectives. The crew will lose and gain morale as they encounter the Alien and other situations.
If crew morale reaches zero, players lose the game.
Each turn has two phases. In the Crew Action phase, players creep through the Nostromo’s halls, gathering scrap, crafting items, trading scrap and items with other players, and using items and their special abilities. Brett, for example, can craft items with one fewer scrap than other players.
If the Alien is within three spaces of the player with the incinerator, that player can use the incinerator to send the Alien back to its nest.
In the Encounter phase, players draw and resolve an Encounter card. The Alien could be lurking behind any corner…
Once the players fulfil their initial objectives, they face one of five final missions, each with a unique set of requirements.
Players must fulfil the final mission’s requirements simultaneously to win the game.
Players can also introduce Science Officer Ash for a more challenging game. Ash moves through the ship, removing scrap and forcing the crew to lose morale.

Long Live Superman! (2019)


Ahead of Superman's birthday (technically February 29 or 35 EORX 9998 in the Kryptonian calendar), here's a 45-minute documentary about the character's longevity.
Superman is a symbol for hope across the world. Hear the story of how the Man of Tomorrow will always be the hero we need today. Long Live Superman!

Friday, 26 February 2021

Alien #1 Trailer From Marvel

At Least We Know This Will Cheer Us Up...

The cultural phenomenon picks up where we left off, with June’s fight for freedom against Gilead. But the risks she takes bring unexpected and dangerous new challenges, and her desire for justice and revenge threaten to consume her and destroy her most cherished relationships.

Call The Weather Girls, It's Raining Dead...


From bitter past experience (e.g. Shark Exorcist, Camp Blood etc), I've learned to usually stay away from this level of low-budget, shonky CGI, homemade horror... but this future cult classic has a zomnado and the raining dead.

Z Dead End deserves a mention for its totally gonzo central conceit, if nothing else.

To be fair to the project, it hasn't even truly started filming yet, and is actually seeking funding via IndieGoGo.

It has a pretty impressive list of names attached to it, which should generate some good will.

Hopefully, once it's funded the effects' budget will improve.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Ten Ways To Be Heroic and Get The Best Out Of A Tabletop Roleplaying Game...

Written primarily for players of Amazing Tales - and its new, superheroic, iteration Amazing Heroes (currently being Kickstarted) - but, for my money, 10 good rules for getting the most out of any roleplaying game.

What Happens In Vegas...

Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries take the ultimate gamble, venturing into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted.
Whatever you may think about his approach to superheroes, you have to admit that Zack Snyder knows zombies. His Dawn of The Dead remake was sublime.

So I have very high hopes for Army of The Dead, which arrives on Netflix on May 21.

And this one has Zombie Elvis!

Continuing Conan's Uncensored Escapades...

Ablaze continues its publication of 'uncensored' adaptations of Robert E Howard's brutal and barbaric adventures of Conan The Cimmerian with the second issue of Iron Shadows in The Moon, on sale May 12.

As ever, the 32-page, full colour comic is available with a selection of variant covers.

Conan and Olivia escape to a remote island, attempting to flee their oppressors. But as they take refuge inside an ancient temple, avoiding the dangers that lurk in the nearby jungle, they may have awakened an ancient evil that humankind has yet to comprehend. Will they find a way to escape before they are overcome by threats inside and out?

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Had My First Jab: No Superpowers Yet...


Had my first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination jab at lunchtime, but have yet to develop any superpowers or other serious side effects (besides the ache you'd normally associate with having a freaking big needle rammed in my arm; a dry throat; and mild cold-like fatigue).

Having been dropped off at the Tonbridge Baptist Church by Rachel, I was slightly alarmed at first by the queue stretching round two sides of the huge building.

But everything was well organised, and managed by a brilliant team of volunteers, and so the queue moved surprisingly quickly.

I was processed through the holding area, sent to one of the eight people giving out the vaccines, who explained in great detail the efficacy of the Pfizer jab, the need for the second shot in 12 weeks, possible side effects etc

Then, after I got the jab, I had to wait at the far end of the hall, in a designated seating area, for 15 minutes - just to check I had no immediate bad reaction - before I was considered safe to leave.  

I'd made sure I was wearing a Flash t-shirt and matching socks, just in case I suddenly developed the ability to run at superspeed or any other desirable metahuman talent.

Nothing yet, but fingers crossed.

Shuffling out of the church (which reminded me more of a school building than a place of worship), I was met by Rachel and Alice, who had apparently been making a lot of friends while they waited for me.

The Queue: down the front of the church building, then round the side

Weird Wednesday...

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Lord of The Elves aka Age of The Hobbits aka Clash of Empires (2012)

Okay, confession time. I have a bit of a weakness for Bai Ling. I know she's not the world's greatest actress, but I find her alluringly watchable in whatever awful B-movie she turns up in.

And Lord of The Elves is a classic of that genre. Crafted by the masterminds at The Asylum as a mockbuster of Peter Jackon's first Hobbit movie, this was originally called Age of The Hobbits until the lawyers stepped in and its name changed to Lord of The Elves.

Then, without any warning or explanation, it suddenly underwent a bland renaming to Clash of Empires.

The Blu-Ray I have of this is entitled Lord Of The Elves, but for the sake of clarity I should point out at this stage that not only is the word "lord" never used in this 82-minute flick, but there are also no "elves" in it, nor is that word mentioned either.

Of course, both of these words do have connections with the rather popular Lord of The Rings movies, but that's surely a coincidence, right?

Inspired by real-world archaeology, the action of Lord of The Elves takes place 12,000 years ago on Flores Island, Indonesia (where examples of an early hominid, Homo floresiensis, were found in 2003).

But this is an Asylum movie, not a National Geographic documentary. As well as being populated with giant lizards, some of which can fly (like dragons), and giant spiders, the island is home to three types of human: the diminutive vegetarian Tree People, cannibalistic cavemen called the Rock Men (who ride the flying lizards on occasion), and a tribe of hunters that the Tree People refer to as "giants" but are simply humans.

When the Rock Men raid the Tree People village - to stock up on snacks for their cooking pot - one family escapes, fleeing to the land of the "giants", where they gain assistance from Amthar (Stargate SG-1's Christopher Judge), Laylan (Bai Ling), and a couple of disposable prehistoric red shirts.

Together, despite being severely outnumbered, they stage a rescue mission on the Rock Men's encampment in the hope of saving the captive Tree People.

Shot on location in the jungles and mountains of Cambodia, Lord of The Elves certainly looks mythic.

It just kind of falls apart when people get involved.

Eric Forsberg's script is simplistic, to say the least, and much of the acting is am dram level. While some bad dubbing contributes to this, I have a suspicion that Christopher Judge was the only true actor on set, and most of the rest were Cambodian locals randomly roped in because they 'looked the part'.

I'm sorry, I can't help myself...


Except for eye candy, I'm not exactly sure what Bai Ling or her character really contributed to the movie. Being generous, you could say that Laylan has a basic revenge arc, but she could easily have been excised from the movie and nothing would have changed.

Of course, I might not have been so keen to watch it. But that's a different story entirely.

The giant creatures, and the faux-dragons, are delivered as mediocre CG monsters, but actually they're not so poor that they take the audience out of the moment (come on, you're watching an Asylum joint, what were you expecting? Marvel Studios level CGI?).

The monsters help add some colour to the otherwise human-centric "fantasy" tale , which, barring its prehistoric setting, has an element of Willow about it as well.

Let's be honest, Lord of The Elves (or whatever you want to call it) is not a great movie, and bears absolutely no resemblance to any of the big budget Hobbit movies.

However, if you're a fan of classic cavemen movies, such as One Million Years B.C.Clan of The Cave Bear, Quest for Fire, When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth etc then you might be able to eke out some silly fun from this nonsense. 


GAME MATERIAL



GIANT LIZARDS

There are three kinds of giant lizard known in the jungles, each about 12ft to the shoulder and roughly 30ft head to tail.

The most common have a pair of enormous leathery wings set just behind their front legs and are capable of flight. Primitive tribes people have found ways to tame these and ride them into battle.

Then there are two flightless versions, one - green-skinned - resembles the flying lizard, but without its wings. There is some speculation that these are simply flying lizards cursed with a birth defect that has prevented their wings from sprouting.

The final distinctive lizard has yellow scales with bright red, jagged, stripes down its side. These are renowned for their particularly poisonous bite.

#ENC: 2d6
HD: (4+1d4)
AC: 13 (17 if in flight)
Atk: 1, either claw (1-2) or bite (3-6)
D: 1d8+2 (claw), 2d6 (bite + special)
Move: 10 (ground), 22 (flight)
Save: 12 to 8
Special
  • GRAB: If a bite attack scores five or higher than it requires to hit with its attack roll, the lizard has grabbed its target in its powerful jaws for an additional 2d6 damage. It also now has its prey locked in its jaws and will do a further 2d6 chewing damage per round unless its captive can make a STR save at Disadvantage (checking every round on the character's initiative, then breaking free will be their only action). Flying lizards have been known to drop victims from a great height, so they can dine on their smashed carcass later.
  • EVASION: The flying lizards are not exactly graceful in the air, but may, have taking their movement action and in lieu of an attack, opt to 'evade', forcing attacks against them from the ground to be made at Disadvantage.
  • POISON: The poisonous variety of lizard doesn't use a grab attack, instead anyone it bites will need to save versus poison or suffer 6d6 poison damage the following round. Three consecutive, successful, checks will mean they have escaped the effects of the deadly toxin.
CL/XP: 5 (smallest)/240 to 9/1,100 (largest). Poisonous variety adds +1 to CL.

This Looks Like My Kind Of Movie...

Without warning, millions of mysterious alien “doors” suddenly appear around the globe. In a rush to determine the reason for their arrival, mankind must work together to understand the purpose of these cosmic anomalies. Bizarre incidences occurring around the sentient doors leads humanity to question their own existence and an altered reality as they attempt to enter them.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Musical Monday: About Us (Band-Maid)


About Us is from BAND-MAID ONLINE OKYU-JI (Feb. 11, 2021) which is scheduled for release on DVD and Blu-Ray on May 26.

Oooh, Seats You, Sir! But Not Really The Weather For Relaxing In The Garden...

Another important element of our garden renovation arrived this lunchtime: the outdoor furniture for the 'stage' area, down in front of the old shed.

Because two of the three boxes it arrived in were too large for the delivery man to get the side of our house they were left out front for Rachel and I to open, and then heft the contents down to the garden ourselves.

The two tricky parts were the seats with backs (see picture above), which we had to carry over our heads, avoiding the raised fence posts on one side of the alley and the lighting fixtures on the other.

But we managed it all, stripped off the packing plastic, bubble wrap, foot guards etc and set out the seats as you can see.

Rachel was very pleased that, as she had hoped, the colour of the seating matches well with the paint on the garden room (which is the colour the shed will also be painted later in the year).

Below are a variety of shots Rachel took with the cushions in place, but we've left the plastic on for the moment.

This is, after all, England and it was raining!

Musical Monday: That's Not My Name (The Ting Tings)

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Dreams and Nightmares Prove A Bountiful Resource For Cinematic Mining...

Looking for an escape from her recurring nightmares, 18-year-old Sarah (Julia Sarah Stone) submits to a university sleep study, but soon realizes she’s become the conduit to a frightening new discovery.
Dreams twist and nightmares come true in this mind-altering new work of science-fiction from Anthony Scott Burns (Our House) that haunts the space between wakefulness and sleep.
Come True is an unforgettable cinematic dream well worth the submersion.
I must confess to a weakness for films about the power of dreams and nightmares, fuelled by my own terrifying encounter with a 'night hag', the pleasure of escaping into vivid dreamscapes, and an unwavering love of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.

Stateside and here in the UK, the movie is opening in select cinemas and via VOD on March 12, so I shall have to keep my eye out for it.

Word Play...

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Animated Dragons Seem To Be The Monster of Choice For New Netflix Shows...


Based on a video game (which, I'll be honest, is rarely a good start), Netflix's new fantasy anime series tells the story of:
"... Davion, a renowned Dragon Knight devoted to wiping the scourge from the face of the world. Following encounters with a powerful, ancient eldwurm as well as the noble Princess Mirana on a secret mission of her own, Davion becomes embroiled in events much larger than he could have ever imagined."
I guess Record of Lodoss War set such a high anime bar for me that I have yet to find a fantasy series its equal.

And let's hope it's more engaging that last year's dismal Dragon's Dogma

That said, I shall check out the first episode  of DOTA: Dragon's Blood and see if it can emulate th e runaway success of The Dragon Prince and get me hooked from day one.

The eight-episode first season of Dragon's Blood arrives on Netflix on March 25.

Magical New Adventure On The Way From My Favourite Author, Philip Reeve...

Cover art by Paddy Donnelly

Exciting news: a magical new novel is on the way from my favourite author, Philip Reeve, this September: Utterly Dark and The Face of The Deep.

To be published by David Fickling Books, this is Philip's first novel since 2019's universe-spanning Station Zero.

He introduced the backstory of Utterly Dark to fans via his blog, explaining that it:

"...takes place in the early 1800s on the remote island of Wildsea. For centuries, the Dark family act as Watchers, keeping a look-out for mysterious islands which are believed to appear from time to time on the western sea, and guarding Wildsea against a terrible monster which is said to live on them. When the current Watcher mysteriously drowns, his young ward Utterly takes over his duties. Gradually, she starts to discover her strange connection with the forces which dwell in the deep ocean."

ADVENTURERS THREE: Tarrant

For my final random 'Adventurers Three' character, showing the three different ways to generate a character in my fantasy Frankengame RPG system, I knew I wanted to create a fighter, to complement the magician and scoundrel I rolled up over the last two days.

At the moment, I'm sticking with the four core classes (fighter, magician, scoundrel, berserker) and leaving the provisional 'expanded classes' (knight, preacher, minstrel, and beastmaster) until I'm happy with them.

The great thing with the current state of our group, The Tuesday Knights, is we're only a couple of sessions into Pete's new GURPS campaign, so there's no sense of urgency about my work on this project, no need to rush things for a tight deadline.

Using the "veteran" method of character generation I rolled 4d6 (drop the lowest) six times, then re-arranged the scores as I wanted.

Of course, this means the character only starts with a single Hero Point, to get him out of sticky situations, but hopefully he will be handy enough that he won't need to rely on that 'get out of jail free' card anyway.

I rolled 11, 10, 17, 12, 13, 15, and immediately decided to put the three highest scores into my physical stats and the rest into the mental ones.

The fighter's stats thus started as:

STR:        17
CON:       15
DEX:       13
INT:        10
WIS:        12
CHA:       11

For nationality, I rolled a 44, meaning he was Teklish (a native of the campaign's homeland, Tekralh), his star sign was Leo (giving him a bump in STR and CHA, but a heavy knock to WIS, as as well as a bonus to reaction rolls and resisting fear, with a penalty to resisting charm), and a social class roll of 11, placing him firmly in the 'middle class'.

His secondary skill was wheelwright (bumping his CON) and his Life Skills came in at +1 Riding and +2 Swimming.

Unfortunately for his Boons & Banes, he rolled a 15 (less than 50 is generally bad) and I learned that he was "naturally clumsy", which means he makes all DEX checks at Disadvantage!

I shall name him Tarrant, which is a solid Teklish name, and his stats turned out to be pretty decent in the end:

STR:        18 (+3)
CON:       17 (+2)
DEX:       13 (+1)
INT:        10 (-)
WIS:        11 (-)
CHA:       12 (-)

Hit Points: 12 (maximum, plus two for CON bonus)

As a first level fighter he can choose two 'combat techniques':

  • Weapon-Master (+1 to hit/damage with broad and longswords)
  • Unarmed Combat: does 1d4+1 (+STR) damage with his fists and feet.
ABILITIES:
  • As a fighter the damage die of any melee weapon he uses is increased by one (not in missile or unarmed combat)
  • Shields May Be Splintered: can sacrifice his shield to absorb damage from one attack.
  • Helms Shall Be Sundered: if no shield, may sacrifice helm to absorb partial damage from one attack.
Tarrant's age is 21, he's 5' 9", weights 175lb (12.5 stone), has brown hair, and is right-handed.

For languages, he speaks Teklish (skill 5), Common Trade Tongue (skill 5), Rheuma (skill 3 - one verb per sentence), and Valoise (skill 2 - no verbs).

He is literate though (having rolled a 19 on his WIS check to see if he could be bothered to learn his letters), which means his reading skill level is one point below each of his verbal skill levels.

His starting coinage is (3d6 x 10) = 100gp, which will get him a 15gp longsword (1d10 + 4 damage) and a 10gp leather jerkin for starters (+2AC).

Ultimately, as with my other random characters this week, I'm very pleased with how Tarrant turned out. 

As I've said, this mini-playtest has shown up a handful of glitches and oversights, but generally I think the character creation rules - at least - in my Frankengame have proved to be more than fit for purpose.

Next Month Will Be Invincible...

Invincible is an Amazon Original series based on the groundbreaking comic book from Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead.
The story revolves around 17-year-old Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), who’s just like every other guy his age - except his father is the most powerful superhero on the planet, Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons).
The hour-per-episode series also stars Sandra Oh, Zazie Beetz, Gillian Jacobs, Zachary Quinto, Jason Mantzoukas, Melise, Mark Hamill, Mahershala Ali, Seth Rogen and more.
The first three episodes are coming to Prime Video on March 26, with weekly releases through April 30 after that.

Night Life Of The Gods (1935)

Courtesy, as ever, the wonderful Peplum TV

Friday, 19 February 2021

Review Round-Up: Batman - Soul of The Dragon; The Outpost; Legend of Shang-Chi

Batman: Soul of The Dragon (2021): The latest DC animated movie is an Elseworlds adventure, blending the spirit of James Bond spy-fi with kick-ass martial arts.

Set against a pseudo-1970s backdrop, superspy Richard Dragon (voiced by Mark Dacascos), must reunite his surviving classmates from Nanda Parbat, the secret martial arts monastery in the Himalayas, to thwart the world-conquering plans of the evil snake cult known as Kobra.

Assisted by Bruce Wayne aka Batman (voiced by Grimm's David Giuntoli), Lady Shiva (voiced by Kelly Hu), and Ben Turner aka Bronze Tiger (voiced by Arrow's Michael Jai White), Dragon tries to recover the stolen Soul Breaker sword before the Kobra cultists can use it to open a magical portal, which has been preventing the arrival on Earth of the powerful Nāga demon lord.

Although sold as a Batman story, Bruce Wayne really plays second-fiddle to Richard Dragon, the true protagonist of this adventure.

In fact, of all the main characters, Bruce gets the least narrative attention, and ultimately comes across as the most two-dimensional.

Like the impressive car chase sequence in the middle of the flick, the many martial arts fights are spectacular, but ultimately left me wanting to see Soul of The Dragon translated into live-action instead.

This is definitely not your typical DC comic book superhero cartoon movie, instead more closely resembling the wave of spy/martial arts mash-ups that came in the wake of Bruce Lee's ground-breaking 1973 hit Enter The Dragon.

The Outpost, Season Three
: The third season of SyFy's brilliant fantasy drama wrapped the other week here in the UK... only it didn't.

Although the show isn't on at the moment, the third season is actually due to continue later this year with another 13 episodes.

This revelation, made some months ago, has been a source of much confusion among fans, used to the show's 13-episode seasons, who weren't sure if the greenlighting of these new episodes was a fourth season or simply additional episodes for this season.

Ultimately, I don't think it matters as the overarching story of the first 13 episodes of season three has come to a conclusion, laying the foundations for the next arc: whether they're a new season or a continuation of the current one.

Echoing season two's brainwashing of Captain Garret Spears (Jake Stormoen), but taking it to the next level, this season's main story involved the spreading of a mysterious mind-controlling 'plague', whose source was seeking to dominion over all the lands.

Delving further in the series' mythology, and the backstory of the not-elf 'blackblood' Talon (Jessica Green), season three initially felt like a slow-burn compared to the all-action second season, but matters escalated rapidly as the 'plague' spread through the population and desperate measures were sought to combat it.

A clever spin on the 'zombie horde' trope, The Unity - as it called itself - made for a far more interesting antagonist than I'd originally thought, especially as its insidious claws got ever closer to the main characters and their hopes of victory got ever slimmer.

Produced by my 'old friends' at Arrowstorm, The Outpost is clearly influenced by Dungeons & Dragons and I do feel a trick is being missed by the sheer dearth of show merch. It's crying out for novelisations, comics, and gaming sourcebooks, at the very least, expanding on the clearly well-developed world outside the walls of Gallwood Outpost.

The Legend of Shang-Chi
#1: With his MCU debut, Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings currently scheduled for a July release, you'd really think Marvel would be making more of an effort to promote this 'lesser-known' character to the wider, comic book-reading audience.

Coming off the back of the superb five-issue Shang-Chi mini-series, I foolishly got excited that last week's The Legend of Shang-Chi #1 would be the start of an ongoing series.

Instead, it turned out to be a truly limp - and pointless - one-shot, from Alyssa Wong, with art by Andie Tong.

The issue is almost entirely focussed on a fight between Shang-Chi and Lady Deathstrike, in the British Museum, for possession of the magical Equinox Blade.

This isn't to say that there aren't some impressive panels of high-speed martial arts here, but these couldn't save the lifeless and unoriginal plot (just compare it to the 'martial artists fighting over a magical, soul-draining sword' plot of Batman/Richard Dragon movie above).

I might have given The Legend of Shang-Chi a pass if it had just been the first chapter of an ongoing story, but even though it concludes with a "the end?", there's nothing here that would hold my interest until The House of Ideas decided to eventually pick up the dangling plot threads (if ever).

Marvel has shown recently that it can do martial arts heroes well, not just with the Shang-Chi mini-series, by Gene Luen Yang, but also Larry Hama's current Iron Fist: Heart of The Dragon mini-series, which is mindblowingly good.

I grew up with the 1970's Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu comic, so I know the concept has legs. And given the highly-anticipated (by me, anyway) big screen outing for the character, I really would have thought Marvel should have more confidence in the character and, in the right hands, his ability to carry an ongoing title.

ADVENTURERS THREE: Sonja Morningstar

For the second of my random characters, created using my Frankengame fantasy RPG mechanics, I opted to create an "experienced" character, meaning she would be a bit older than Einar, and generate her basic statistics - still in order - by rolling 4d6 and dropping the owest.

STR         12
CON        16
DEX        14
INT         13
WIS        11
CHA       14

Her age was rolled as 17 and already you can see that her stats are significantly better than my first character.

She starts with THREE hero points to help get her out of sticky situations, but later on I will boost this to FOUR by randomly rolling her hit points, instead of opting to start at maximum for her chosen class.

For nationality I got a 27, making her Teklish (the campaign begins in Tekralh, meaning she's a local girl). 

Her social class is "middle" (I rolled a '9' on 3d6) and her star sign is Libra.

Her birthplace and birth sign reduced her STR slightly, and upped her DEX and WIS, as well as giving her a bonus to find traps and for reaction rolls, but a knock on resisting charm.

Her secondary skill is rope/net maker (which also boosts her CON), suggesting her family possibly comes from the docks in the starting town of Coggershall.

For Life Skills, she got +1 in Riding, but can't swim (a big, fat zero in Swimming Skill).

But it was her Boons & Banes roll that completely upended the character creation process, as she rolled a 66, indicating that she had been sired by a mysterious demon. Not only did this give her a strange and mysterious countenance, and tendency towards chaos, but bumped all her stats by two points and gave her an extra 1d8 hit points at first level.

Sonja Morningstar decided that the scoundrel class suited her calling.

Her stats are now:

STR         13 (+1)
CON        19 (+4)
DEX        17 (+2)
INT         15 (+2)
WIS         15 (+2)
CHA         16 (+2)

Hit Points: 13
Base Save: 14

ABILITIES:

  • Artful Dodging: +2 AC
  • Swashbuckling: reduced penalty for two weapon fighting
  • Languages: Bonus points for buying languages
  • Contacts: 4 (four NPC contacts in the local criminal underworld)
SKILLS:
  • Climbing +3
  • Legerdemain (sleight of hand) +3
  • Open Locks +3
  • Perception: +3 (+1 from birth sign for finding traps)
  • Stealth +3
  • (Disarm) Traps +3 
  • Speciality: Escapology +3

When it came to languages, she totally fluffed her literacy roll (a nat '1'), so she's illiterate, but speaks the following languages:

  • Teklish - skill 5 (free)
  • Thieves Cant - skill 5 (free)
  • Common trade talk - skill 5 (5 points)
  • Orc - skill 5 (5 points)
  • Rheuma - skill 5 (5 points)
  • Valoise - skill 2 (2 points, no verbs, +2 to comprehend)
Physically, she's 5' 7", 147.5lb (10 st, 7.5lb), has red hair, and is left-handed.

She starts her adventuring career with (3d6+2) x 10 = 80gp.

I can't see her investing in armour yet, as with her DEX and 'artful dodging', she has an Armour Class of 14 already.

Once again, I'm very pleased with how my totally random system shaped up. Sonja would be another great character to play, a sneaky rogue with a mysterious demonic background. 

As with my previous run-through of the character creation process I found some more typos and rules oversights, but through playtesting comes perfection.

It also struck me that I really ought to hire someone to create me a character sheet at some point, so that when the Tuesday Knights sit to play this game they have some user-friendly guidance on how to collate the various statistics, skills, abilities, spells etc that their characters will possess.

I will conclude this brief overview of my game's character generation process by next rolling a 'veteran' character. These have their base statistics rolled on 4d6 (drop the lowest), but can then rearrange them. 

This is, essentially, the method for those who come to the table with an idea of what kind of character they want to play in my game.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Tales From The Vault: Black Beth in The Magos of Malice (2018)

Beth in action, with Quido in the background


In anticipation of her forthcoming spotlight special, I thought it would be worth revisiting the first 'modern' appearance of Rebellion's savage warrior woman, Black Beth, from the 2018 Halloween Special edition of Scream! & Misty.

Black Beth's first 21st Century outing was a dynamic six-page offering from the same team as will be tackling March's Black Beth and the Devils of Al-Kadesh; that is the gorgeous artwork of DaNi coupled with the words of Alec Worley.

Spawned from similar backgrounds as Red Sonja and Conan The Cimmerian, clad in her trademark, imposing black armour, Beth operates in a pseudo-Medieval fantasy world, driven by a rage to eliminate the forces of darkness.

Aided by her blind companion Quido, and guided by the witch, Moldred, who - for a fee - finds Beth her next target, the warrior's adventure, The Magos of Malice, begins in media res with Beth and Quido bursting into the ruins of Tallon's Keep to rescue kidnapped children being held by the sorcerer Koshoi.

An unlettered Magos of Malice panel from DaNi's Deviantart page


Before confronting the Big Bad, we see Beth carving up Koshoi's animated skeleton guards, and then get a flashback to learn more about how she got there, her motivations, and hints at her backstory.

The story comes with a twist that ultimately serves to turn the whole piece more into an exploration of Black Beth than a straight-forward action adventure.

The Magos of Malice fires the imagination and immediately inspires a desire to know more about Beth, her blind companion, and the mercenary witch feeding her leads.

Prior to this I believe Black Beth had only made one previous appearance, back in a Scream! special in 1988, so Alec Worley has a lot of wiggle-room when it comes to crafting the character's full backstory, then building on it for future yarns.

I really hope that  Black Beth and the Devils of Al-Kadesh is a success for Rebellion (they must have chosen this character for a reason to headline her own one-shot) and she either earns her own on-going title, or a regular spot in Rebellion's flagship title, the veteran weekly anthology magazine 2000AD.

2018 Halloween Special

Thor: Love & Thunder (2022) + Dr Who (2022)

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