Saturday, April 30, 2016
Here are some more useful panels from the first issue of Marvel's old John Carter series.
I've cut some that are purely John Carter and kept the ones showing Green Martians or good illustrations of ruins, vehicles, weapons, etc... This batch is primarily Green Martians.
Cover Art By Emmanuel
Emmanuel is one of the most iconic of the White Dwarf/ TSR artists. His work is perhaps the most recognizable of the WD artists among TSR products if not his name. I don't think there is a better cover of a Monster Manual type work than the Fiend Folio unless your preference is for more of a realistic approach to fantasy artwork. This particular cover is not one of my favorites, but his green lizard-beast is striking and powerful. The effect is slightly surreal but conveys menace and danger. Maybe it is the yellow-orange background that draws my eye away from the more central figure of monster and rider. I don't think I am troubled by the blue mushrooms or oversized snailshell. A good piece of artwork that foreshadows many wonderful White Dwarf covers to come.
Friday, April 29, 2016
I was never much for specialty classes though they were pretty popular as AD&D developed and before they decided to start dumbing it down edition by edition. This article does work well as the springboard for a number of ideas for NPCs and spells or abilities. As a character class it seems more than a bit pointless for a normal campaign and would require more of a non-traditional city-based game, and even then the 'class' is really just a magic-user with a charisma requirement using special spells and a seduction ability. That this particular class would also be fraught with uncomfortable roleplaying situations is definitely a deal breaker.
As I mentioned the spells are intriguing but very sketchy and some way out of balance but how harmful they'd be to a campaign is really up to a DM to decide. I'm all for the DM to be the only game balance truly needed.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Wormy is theorizing about the origins of the Ethereal Demons (or Snookerball Demons) while Irving is cooking dinners inside a roaring fire. He thinks they may be from Hell and maybe blown out of a volcano, trapped in geodes and dug up by delving Dwarves. Irving doesn't remember them from his neighborhood and wonders how Wormy is going to find out, but all it takes is the tap of a hammer on the broken orb. No crystals inside but a band of Demonic writing which blows Wormy's theory to hell,
The language spoken by the Ethereal Demons is written inside the Snookerballs.
Just a mention in Wormy's theory of the origin of the Snookerballs
Ethereal Demon (Snookerball Demon):
The little blue devils (or demons as the case may be) have Demonic (or Devilish) writing inside their red on the outside blue on the inside orbs.
Naturally the little Imp is fire resistant and he has no knowledge of the Ethereal Demons.
Theorizes about the origin of the Snookerballs but is proven wrong when he splits one open and sees the Demonic Writing inside.
This retro look at White Dwarf was quite handy as I've acquired a small gaggle of Dwarven Forge Imps to inflict on some adventurers and the Fiend Factory write-up offers an interesting quartet of the little devils. They are fairly powerful for kobold-sized creatures and I have a nice dozen of the miniatures in the set so the summoning capabilities work out nicely. The present a rather geometric progression if the summoned Imps summon more Imps and so on, a bit of an Imp plague, an idea that I quite like.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Definitely a bit Thrud the Barbarian though his head should be a wee bit smaller. I like the bone-bladed 4 headed whacking stick with which he is getting ready to hit the guy with the long fingernails. That is going to hurt if he connects. Not sure why you'd want 4 blades on it, maybe they break and then you have a choice of 3 blades. I'd rather have that nifty pick-axe they were using on a recent episode of Fear the Walking Dead. These fantasy weapons get pretty stupid looking and while this one is all pointy and sharp it seems like it would be a pain in the ass to carry around with you where with just a blade front and back you would always have a flat side and less air resistance or chance get it deflected by striking against the non-dangerous sides of the protruding blades. This one would also take up a bit of shelf-space. definitely an unwise item for a space conscious merchant.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
This rather unashamedly Conan-esque cover seems a peculiar departure for Eddie Jones away from his overwhelmingly Science fiction output. He does as good a reasonably good job though a far cry from some of the other Fantasy artists who graced the covers of White Dwarf and many Games Workshop products.
Rudy and Otis are searching for the Dwarves who they think stole their gold and stop by the cave where Butch and Wes are sitting at a game of chess. Butch tells them he saw a group of the Wee-Willies pass by about 4 hours ago which gets Otis, a rather cantankerous Ogre, upset and he threatens the pair with his ball and chain. Butch is able to keep from getting smashed by pointing him the direction of the Worm of Dread that the group had been singing about. The boys head off to see if Wormy has caught the little Rockeaters and Butch lets them know what he thinks of them when they are safely out of hearing then kicks over the chess game so he and Wes can go look for the gold themselves.
Showing his irascibility after being pushed around by the Ogres. His ubiquitous double-headed axe in his hand.
Also known as Wee-Willies and Rockeaters. They are blamed for stealing the Ogres' gold when in reality it was Wormy.
With his ball-and-chain in hand and bad temper Otis is likely to slap or smash someone, even his brother Rudy.
Ogre term for Dwarves.
Always the side-kick, Rudy gets knocked around and insulted by his brother Ogres.
Butch's term for Dwarves.
Much more even-tempered than Butch and a little more cautious.
Worm of Dread;
Dwarves name for Wormy
Our hero, the Worm of Dread to the Dwarves. Unbeknowest to the Ogres he has stolen their gold and not the Dwarves.
Monday, April 25, 2016
A comicbook can be a vast resource simply because of the amount of artwork contained in each issue. Regardless of the story the art can be taken apart panel by panel and used as needed. Sometimes all of the quality art went into the cover and the interior work was done in a slap and dab fashion or by an illustrator of dubious taste, style or quality. With this work the interiors are just about as well done as the cover and with a detail that can be used for more than just depicting characters. Here we John Carter running with sword, at least as dangerous as running with scissors, but he can be any kind of NPC hero or villain charging the players.
In the first two pages we are presented with a number of useful panels, although mainly of John Carter.
There is also some detail of the ruins around him and one Green Martians on the run. All very campaign useful. Note the two broken sculptures especially the female head in the bottom panel. Even the ricocheting bullets can be a useful picture to display.
This is really two adventures for me as they don't quite mesh together in my mind. The first is a mini adventure that can be expanded. It is a wilderness adventure involving a Druid and woodland creatures. The Pool isn't really of much importance in this respect except as part of the back-story. The second adventure is a dungeon setting and my assumption is that the Druid either awakened or summoned the NPC Dando to even the lawful good balance in the area. This is a bit contradictory to the Druid Ash's (and he sadly does not have a Boom-stick or Gas Powered Chainsaw) intentions to even the lawful balance as Dando would be lawful himself. One of the reasons I found the alignment system in D&D to be ridiculous and dropped it entirely. I also found the connection between a supposedly ancient nature shrine with worn dolmen stones to be at odds with a rather nicely constructed dungeon lair filled with bandits, would be demons, martial artists and mad scientists. Not that the dungeon doesn't handle this odd grouping well. In fact you could drop this second adventure into a Big Trouble in Little China modern scenario without too much work. Maybe the Druid Ash should have a Boom-Stick.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Wes the Bear and Butch the Minotaur are playing chess and talking about the dwarves which passed them earlier. Butch suggests to Wes that he find Louis and some Mudtrolls and go after them, but Butch doesn't think the trolls would like the idea of going into Ogre country and risk the chance of ending up as lunch. Butch can't believe it because Trolls are poisonous, making Wes sick to his stomach just thinking about it, before going back to pondering his next move.
A minotaur (unnamed in this issue) He seems a bit excitable.
Spotted by Wes and Butch on their way to Wormy's cave.
Wes' name for Ogres.
Possibly a Mudtroll.
One of the varied types of Trolls inhabiting Wormy's world.
They inhabit the opposite end of the valley in which Wormy lives and are a danger to trolls.
Poisoness, according to Wes.
A brown bear. He has a bit of an imagination and an easily queasy stomach.
This is the first cover art for The Strategic Review but they could have done without it. They had Dave Sutherland on board at this point so why they chose this over something Sutherland could have done in dark I don't know. TSR chose some amazingly bad work for their covers. They had some excellent artists early on and then later had more than enough money to hire anyone they wanted, but good choices never seemed to be part of the TSR business model.
This column seems to be a cut to fit addition to the magazine.
A decent enough Griffon figure from Asgard Miniatures and a rather thin and badly sculpted one from Ral Partha. A trio of decent adventurers from Greenwood & Ball. I like it that the dwarf is the regular squat like the one from Asgard. Some rather awful giants from Ral Partha. Actually most of the Ral Partha sculpts look pretty bad in this issue. Citadel breaking into the miniatures world with some interesting, provocative and otherwise generally poor sculpts as well. I do like it that they are producing Monster Manual monsters and ones that are both useful and not seemingly produced at this point.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
I am not much of a comic reader, at least not the superhero variety, so I was pleasantly surprised by this start to a Barsoom series. They have chosen to tell stories in the nine year period that A Princess of Mars does not cover at the end of the first novel. This issue does relate the beginning of the novel as a flashback sequence and it adheres admirably well to Burroughs with some odd choices of what to add or what to cut. I have no idea why they would have John Carter wear his confederate uniform in the retelling, but I do understand why they cut the version of his flight from the Apache warriors and change his version of his mystical transmutation to Mars to save space.
The plot is fairly simple, the art well done and the action much more deadly than I had thought they might have had in a 70's mainstream comicbook. This is just the introduction to the rest of the serial which will continue in further issues so not much should be expected but the writing is not well thought-out or particularly skillful even in its structure.
There is much to be harvested here for a Barsoom campaign. The scenario for a game could start in the actions that occur before the beginning of this story, the kidnapping of a wife, friend, companion. Strikes against the Atmosphere Generators that keep Barsoom alive. A hunt after clues, an attack by a tribe of Green Martians, a traitor Red Martian, there is a ton of material here perfect for inspiring a campaign.
As a graphic story it is filled with illustrations that can be used to show players for key moments in a game. No matter if the story is crap or the ideas so poor that they are unusable, graphic art is always an incredible source for inspiration as well as illustration and the work here by Gil Kane and Dave Cockrum is respectable even if Dejah Thoris isn't showing quite as much skin as lovingly detailed as she is in the more current Barsoom series of comics.
After a long absence this strip is a black and white summary of what has happened up to this point in the story. More text than will be seen again in a strip. We do learn several specifics that had not been made clear in the original strips.
1, Only one dwarf survived Wormy's stumping
2. The Ogres live across the Valley from Wormy in a large, deep cave.
3. The dwarf fled up the Ogres' chimney
4. Irving is an Imp
5. Wormy weighs 27 tons
6. Wormy invited Frank and Dudly inside to play pool
7. The Snookerball Demon is called an Ethereal Demon
Wormy takes one of his six extra Snookerballs and cracks it open to discover another of the Ethereal Demons is lurking inside. He considers the possibilities even as Gremorly the human wizard and his demonic familiar watch through a crystal ball from somewhere at the end of the world.
Ethereal Demons/ Snookerball Demons:
Here we find them with a more definitive name.
A human wizard with a demonic familiar. He gazes at Wormy through a crystal ball and speaks in a demonic tongue.
A small, seemingly demonic creature that speaks.
Each contains an Ethereal Demon.
Unknowing to him his Snookerballs contain Ethereal Demons and he cracks one to check. After squashing it he starts to make plans on what to do with them.
There is a series of these pictures that shows the various selections of gear that would have been part of a soldiers kit. I think they are short a few things like a big bit of blanket or at least a cape. The Scotts' tartan, I'd read, was a huge piece of cloth that they could unwind and use to wrap themselves in at night. That is a big shield but I guess he could sling it across his back, not sure where he put the small axe. The spear and the big axe could go over a shoulder while he walked. This guy would be kind of spoiled for choice in regard to weapons.
Friday, April 22, 2016
These are some of my favorite monsters from the Fiend Factory. I like the comments which tend to catch some of the flaws in the write-ups. The Iron Pig has to be one of my favorites. They were a great to introduce into my campaign. They were disguised in pig skin and my players thought at first (or were led to believe) that they were some kind of zombie pig. The grell just looked cool.
The Hook Horror was never one of my favorites but the Githyanki were an instant favorite.
Cover Art By Eddie Jones
Looks like they went for some professional artwork for the cover this time. A rather bland and blue Sci-Fi cover. From what I've seen of Eddie Jones work he did Sci-Fi not sure if he did anything else. I could see this as useful for a Traveller game but it is one of those 70's spaceship illustrations that is all strange shapes and sharp edges. I'm not much of a Sci-Fi gamer but I always preferred ships with smoother lines even if they were strange shaped or maybe just a little less of an air-conditioner with fins look to it.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Frank and Dudly are putting themselves back together after the attack by the Snookerball Demon (Dudly is even able to reattach his eyebrows again). As they finger the cracked Snookerball and think about the danger of using then in a simple game of pool the thought of the Ogres using them occurs to Frank and that gives Dudly an idea. The pair sneak off with one of the balls before Wormy comes back into the room.
He pulls himself together including his errant eyebrows while talking over the Snookerball Demon attack with Frank and comes to realize that they could be using the Snookerballs for other purposes than pool before making off with one under his arm.
He manages to get his head back on while talking over the Demon attack with Dudly. His comment about seeing the Ogres try playing pool with these Snookerballs inspires Dudly and he helps steal one from Wormy's table.
The boys are not well-liked (and for good reason) among Troll society and they are in the thoughts of Frank and Dudly when the pair consider possible uses for the Demon inhabited Snookerballs.
Big-glassy eyes and an awful scream. The Trolls think it is some kind of demon.
More than meets the eye as each ball contains a small but vicious demonic inhabitant, the Trolls have thought of a better use than pool for the dark-red orbs.
Heard but not seen. The Trolls beat a hasty retreat when they hear him coming back into the room.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
This is more of a NPC listing and a scenario concept rather than anything with special rules covering brawling. Some of the content is a bit surprising as rape is part of one combatants motivating factor, but then this wasn't a USA publication and even Dragon magazine had their Orgy Rules back in issue #10 along with naked cavorting elf women exuberantly illustrated.
The map and the cut-out counters for combatants and bits of scenery are probably the most useful items provided in this article.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
It is great to see Blanche in color, though this issue seems to have washed out some of the darker bits I've seen in pictures of the original artwork; Spikey with a slightly grotesque surrealism that I always associate with some particularly memorable fever-induced nightmares I had in intensive care as a child recovering from a carwreck and various internal injuries. Probably why I find Blanche's work both evocative and repellent and powerful. His work certainly makes memorable covers and his miniature work is outstanding. This is the kind of real artistry that was lacking in most Dragon magazines and many of the later TSR products once they had booted Gygax and castrated the company. Trampier, Otus, Sutherland, for the early days of TSR and Blanche here setting the tone for White Dwarf and the early look of Warhammer and 40K.
Monday, April 18, 2016
Dudly and Frank crack open one of the snookerballs during a game of Baseball/Golf and release the Snookerbal Demon. The little blue-beasty immediately sets upon Frank taking off his right arm and apparently an ear and sundry bits before Dudly can smack it away with his mallet. Luckily for the boys Irving is at hand and call Wormy for help as the blue demon takes Dudly apart and decapitates Frank just as he managed to reattach his arm. Wormy arrives just in time to save the felt on his pool table and distracts the demon so that he can follow through with a resounding Smak! with his pool que. Wormy helps Frank get his head back on stright while Irving picks his way among pieces of Dudly.
He gives a good account of himself at first rescuing Frank from the Snookerball Demon but misses the follow-through and goes through a mix-master of razorsharp claws.
The Snookerball Demon deals pretty easily with Frank. First he loses and arm and then after Dudly drives off the blue-terror Frank loses his head to another swipe from its claws.
He beats a hasty retreat while calling for Wormy when he sees the little Blue Demon but returns right on Wormy's trail to pick up the pieces, mostly Dudly, after the fight is over.
The small blue flying demon appears in a puff of blue smoke but quickly solidifies. While it can fly with ease it is thankfully vulnerable to mallets and gigantic pool-cues. It seems capable of speech but what its eldritch words mean are untranslatable and probably not for polite society.
Seemingly innocuous, they all seem to possess a violent demonic inhabitant.
While seemingly more concerned about his felt than the trolls he does destroy the demon and help Frank reattach his head in the end.
Cover Art By William O'Conner
The original art is much, much better than the blow-up they used for the Cover. I'm not particularly partial to Dragons so it isn't my favorite piece he has done, but I do like his style.
I'm jumping around with these Dragon issues. Normally I like to plod on from issue to issue in sequence but my life and collection of books and gaming material has been very randomized lately. I have the CD-Roms with the first 250 Dragon issues. While I scavenge ideas from anywhere I found them 3e took the game in places I was sad to see it go, lots of big swords and armor with masterworks, and dire this and that. There has always been plenty of farce and silly in D&D but when 3e came out it certainly made me feel to old for the game and now that I am really to old I don't care anymore. 1e was a masterpiece, people without half the talent, luck or what-have-you kept and keep trying to improve it. Good luck with that I say with highlights of irony and sarcasm.
Not caring about the underlying system makes these post-modern D&D magazines, now pre-5e mid-regeneration issues easy for me to shred for the content, or what I can find of it. Certainly not this cover though it is better art than many of Dragon Magazines lamentable Covers from issue #1 onward. Although I dislike the 100% WotC D&D content as proclaimed on the upper left corner I think they did better with the artwork when they weren't trying to do Western Manga style with the fore-mentioned unlikely sized swords and perhaps overly pointy armor.
Sunday, April 17, 2016
I found this issues assemblage of lead to be in the uninspired slag category but I know that some people have a fondness for Archive Miniatures attempt to capitalize on Star Wars without paying any annoying licensing fee. I think Moondog Maud's Cantina Band is my favorite for shameless rip-off-re but their Bounty Hunter mini is a pretty good version of Greedo for the time. The fact that they seem to have done R2-D2 with his head upside down and with princess Leia buns attached has not gone unnoticed.
The New Curse of Strahd Tarokka Deck - Art By Chuck Lukacs
I was a bit surprised to find that the latest incarnation of the Ravenloft Tarokka Deck was composed entirely of Majors with no Minors (or Suits) to be included. If I'm remember the White Wolf 2nd version of the Deck correctly it was 14 Majors and 40 Minors with a beautiful aged-looking slightly over-sized laminated card with artwork by Talon Dunning. The artwork in this set is nicely done by Chuck Lukacs and is a again a 54 card deck but this time of all Major cards, all named, but rather strangely done. There seems to be a bit too much repetition of type in some of the cards, perhaps seeking to match many of them to character classes, but I'm not sure the thinking behind having a Trader, Merchant and Guild Member, let alone the plethora of fighter, thief, cleric and wizard class names.
The cards themselves are thin and likely to wear and bend easily with use. My box came apart at the glued seam after removing and replacing the deck twice. In use I think these will be age-worn rather quickly and it may do to have a back-up set on hand especially if you want to keep a copy as part of a collection. The paper and box quality is Dollar Store and I would have preferred something more expensive and closer to the White Wolf version. I'd love to see that set reprinted.
This 3rd version isn't bad but doesn't live up to the 2nd version by White Wolf.
Saturday, April 16, 2016
The Lost World of Atlantis (Question mark?) seems to have gone back toward their better sculpted and provocative figures with their African Emissary (Where are his shoes?) Khaan! or could that be Khaanan! on Throne with reclining Naked Woman, and Naked Woman in Cuffs. I don't think I owned any of these issues back in the '70s. The earliest issue if the Dwarf I remember are somewhere in the 20's and they'd probably been a couple of years old when I'd found them. I can just see the Brew-Ha-Ha about naked slave-girl models back in the '70s to go along with the steam tunnels, gazebo's and satan's cheerleaders in the form of fantasy roleplaying.
Friday, April 15, 2016
Wormy and Irving are counting up their days takings (and in Wormy's case that means 'takings' from the Ogres when they weren't looking) when Irving hears the trolls Frank and Dudly playing a mixed game of baseball/golf on the pool table. Dudly's game (Dudly is more of an orange to Frank's Dark-Mustard) seems to be more croquet than golf but he does remember to shout 'Fore'!. FRank gets a solid hit on the ball when it comes flying his way but instead of a homerun the snookerball cracks open and in the ominous blue cloud we can see the skeletal face and claw-like hands of the Snookerball Demon to come.
Orange colored troll (I'm always confusing Frank and Dudly). After finding or regenerating his eyebrows previously lost in a Wormy-related Goblin explosion he has joined Frank in a game of Baseball/Golf on Wormy's pool table, using the snookerballs which prove to be breakable to a suitably powerful line drive.
Kind-of-a Dark-Mustard colored . He manages to crack one of the Snookerballs with his club while playing baseball/golf and releases a Snookerball Demon.
Either named for the size of the coins or minted by giants. These are big coins.
Busy counting the 27 Bucks he made from selling dwarfburgers before Wormy blew-up his customers.
Small Light-Blue Demon who inhabits the Snookerballs. The appear in a puff of blue smoke but quickly solidify.
Stolen from Dwarves by Wormy (no telling where they got them from as they were using them as bowling balls) but each contains a small blue demon who attacks just about anything in sight.
Busy counting the Giant Gold he stole from the Ogres.
I've started developing a Barsoom campaign after reading through the Warriors of the Red Planet RPG. Besides re-reading Burroughs (which I heartily recommend) I've gathered a number of Barsoomy images for inspiration. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Warlord of Mars Dejah Thoris comic isn't just a cheap collection of T&A. The Carlos Rafael interior art is more than nice and most surprising, the story by Arvid Nelson isn't bad. There is a ton of material here both visually and textually that can be stol.. I mean adapted toward a Barsoom campaign and I intend on doing just that. There are a number of covers available (they are shown on the last page) The Joe Jusko is my favorite followed by Sean Chen's. I do like the face of Dejah Thoris and the Cat behind her in this cover by Ale Garza though he went a little heavy on the breasts. Good thing gravity is light on Barsoom.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Cover Art by Eddie Jones
A Sci-Fi fantasy mix picture. Kinda leaves me Blah. The spacecraft is in the style of some big Sci-Fi art books from the 70's. The cover says that there is a Traveller article in this issue so maybe the spaceship was chosen for that purpose.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Frank is busy GuGaGuG-zling down some Troll's Choice (I believe) when he his konked on the snozola by a giant gold coin dropped by Wormy who he spots following the coins down to the entrance of his cave in a might leap. Just in time Frank knocks Dudly out of the way, hard enough to send his eyebrows flowing, before Wormy lands in an explosion of goblins.
Caught up in the rush for the Giant Gold that Wormy drops he is saved at the last moment by Frank, though his eyebrows are not so lucky.
The stand can be seen as the coins are tumbling down and as Wormy lands amid the exploding goblins.
Enjoying a guzzle of Troll's Choice when Wormy drops a dragon-sized handful of Giant Gold. He spots Wormy jumping down and knocks Frank to safety.
Golden coins of Dragon or Giant-sized proportions
Innocent customers of the Dwarfburger stand. Who knew they would explode?
An ale or beer of normal proportions.
Rather cavalier or homicidal when it comes to Goblins and Trolls who are underfoot.
Just received a box full of Yeti (and I don't mean the Bicycle, those people are just sick, I try to filch a picture of my brand spanking new Yeti mini from the net and the first gadzillion images are Bicycles). These guys look great. I will be running/writing a campaign novel about the Frost Giant Jarl and besides Frost Giants (and a Remorhaz) I needed me some Yeti and the God of pre-painted miniatures came through. This is a pretty wicked looking mini. In person he looks more like he is going to rip your lungs out but then-again so do many opera singers. I wouldn't have wanted to stand between Pavarotti and a pork-chop. Mine are decidedly less blue and the fur is greyish white rather than Bumble/Wompa white as seen in the above purloined photo.These guys are big enough to be useful with my Reaper Bones minis as well as towering over my little WotC guys. A truly wonderful addition to the world of 1e AD&D Monster Miniatures.