Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Fear of a Black Superman

Very, very few characters reach out and touch people in a profound way.  Life-changing or life-affirming when we get one of those characters then we tend to be fairly protective of them.

So in way, I understand the...well lack of a better word...anger surrounding the rumor (and that is all it is at the moment, rumor) that Michael B. Jordan would be cast as the next Superman. 

Frankly, I would love to see DC/Warner be so bold as to do this.  Plus if you have seen Creed you know that MBJ is a talented actor and he could pull this off.  He has the physique for it to be sure at 6'1" and only 31 years old. 


That is all fine.  Until you get online.  Then the so-called fans begin their bitching, whining an complaining.  Yes, it is overwhelmingly white and male that are doing the loudest wailing.

Superman/Kal-el/Clark Kent was created by two Jewish immigrants who wanted to tell the tale of another immigrant and how he could hold up the ideals of Truth, Justice and the American way.

So why then does he have to be white?

Well originally I am sure it never occurred to them he could be anything else.  And there is the practical reasons that a black superhero would have never sold comics back then.  Plus I am sure they wanted to see themselves in the comic.  We all do.

But to hear the "fans" you think this was a travesty, a crime worthy of a mob rule.
Or in other words, the masses being a bunch of dicks again.  More to the point a bunch of dicks who have never read a Superman comic before.

I mean we have had Val-Zod.


Calvin Ellis,


Steel,


And President Obama,


Ok. Maybe he doesn't really count here.


There are plenty of precedents (not just Presidents like Ellis and Obama) for a black Superman.

It's time for the fandom to grow up.  We as geeks are accepted like never before in mainstream society. It is time now for us to show mainstream society that we are still not a bunch of basement dwelling adolescents.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Dragonborn in Oerth

A few questions on the various Greyhwak and Oerth related groups on Facebook have prompted me to think a little more about Dragonborn and their place on Oerth.

This is something I began thinking about during the end run of my 3.x campaign, The DragonSlayers.  The be reveal was going to happen when I ran the old BECMI adventure M3 Twilight Calling.  Here the Carnifex were roughly analogous to orcs and to the Dragonborn's elves.
I am also going to use the Tom Moldvay article on the Seven Planets from The Dragon #38.  Which also includes Len Lakofka's updated AD&D 1st Ed stats for Tiamat and maybe the first Yellow Dragon.

But I still need to run that.

I did all the background work for that adventure and came up with some ideas of where to place the Red Mesa, which is a feature of the Dragonborn's homeland.

In Krynn it is pretty easy. Dragonborn are either replaced by or used instead of Draconians.  Though there are still many differences between the two races.
In the Forgotten Realms Dragonborn are godless warriors that have been enslaved by the Dragon Tyrants of Abeir, the lost "twin" world of Toril.  During the Spellplauge (cough*4thedition*cough) bit of Abeir and Toril combined and then split again during the Sundering (clearsthroat*5thedition) leaving some behind.
Other worlds do other things.

Mystara/the Known Wolrd has a thousand places for Dragonborn and any can work into the history.  But Oerth is different.  Let's check out some potential sites.
Again this falls into another debate...what is and what isn't a canon map of Oerth. I am going to stick with the more recent one since it serves my purposes best.

The Oerth
I am going to focus on the mostly undefined West since there a lot of good places to place the Dragonborn Empire (yes I am calling it an Empire, more on that in a bit).

Candidate #1: Fireland
Like many lands on this side of the world, there is very, very little known and even less that have been published.  Fireland, by its name, seems to be an area of volcanic activity or at least much hotter than expected.  Also given its name and its location I am also inclined to draw parallels to Iceland.
I like the idea of an island because it keeps the dragonborn remote and isolated. They could have been there for thousands of years and no one would have known.
Besides, who else would live on a volcanic island? Ok, lots of people do.

Candidate #2: Draconis Island
Another island and this time that really has a good "name claim".
Draconis Island is smaller and less remote but still has a good claim.  It is just about smack in the middle of the Celestial Sea, so maybe this is the home to dragons and/or dragonborn.   It is also closer to the Eastern and more well-known areas of Oerth, so having dragonborn suddenly show up can be readily explained.
Like Fireland there is a lot of appeal to me because it is an island.  I am planning on molding MY Dragonborn Empire on the Dragon Empire of Melniboné of the Elric Saga.  Instead of humans it will dragonborn and maybe not a cruel or decadent.

Candidate #3: The Draconic Imperium of Lynn
This is a big one. Not just in size (it is the largest of the three) but also the name.  The Draconic Imperium implies a Dragon Empire. Whether ruled by dragons or dragonborn or humans that worship dragons, well it's hard to say.
The only thing we know for sure about this area is there is a great city of Lynn and it is full of sea-farers and merchants.
This also seems to be a favorite of some places online as well.

For me though I am going with my Candidate #1, Fireland.
It seems like a better fit for what I want with Dragonborn and still have them in my world.
Speaking of which.  "My world" isn't even Oerth.  I am still happily using the merged Mystara/Oerth world of Mystoerth.

In my world, Fireland is very, very far west. So far in fact it wraps back around to the East.



I get a good sized island that is far enough away to be rumor and close enough that people have heard the rumors and believed them to be true.

Rise and Fall of the Draconic Empire
By human reckoning, there were no powerful civilizations more than 6000 years ago.  This is human arrogance.  When humans were still living hand to mouth as hunter-gather tribes and elves leaving their crystal cities of azure in the Feywild for the forests and wild places of the world the Dragonborn reigned supreme and unconquered.
In their history when the gods and primordials fought in the Dawn War; Tiamat and Bahamut fought their titanic battle in the skies.  As their blood fell to the ground the Dragonborn sprang into life.  Since none knew whose blood they came from they honored both gods as their own.
It is said that Tiamat fell from the skies and crashed into the Oceans.  Her blood and fire and body rose up to become the volcanic island known to humans as "Fireland"; though in the Draconic language it is known as Arkhosia or "Cradle".  Scholars are quick to point out the exact same word in old draconic means "Tomb".  It was here that they built their empire.  The great city of Aurix'ir (the "Golden City") was built. It featured the grand palace of the Emperor whose unbroken line can still be seen today and the even grander twin temples honoring Bahamut and Tiamat. Priest of both sects interacted here and were under strict oaths never to harm the other while in Aurix'ir.

Within the center of the island, surrounded by icy peaks and volcanos lay the legendary Red Mesa and within the Red Mesa was the even more legendary Dragons' Graveyard.

For the next 6000 years, the Dragonborn expanded their empire. Both Tiamat and Bahamut decreed that the riches in the Dragons' Graveyard would belong to the Draconic Empire and thus Emporer.

The wars of the Dragonborn were in the prehistory of Humankind, but would have been glorious for a human historian.

The First Great War was against the evil Carnifex. These lizard-men were the progenitors of Lizardfolk and Trogldytes and maybe scores others creatures.  They were old, even predating the Dragonborn, and they had a prior claim to the Dragonborn Island (though it did not exist till the dragonborn did).  The enemity between the two races was great; much like that between the elves and the orcs.  Indeed the similarity does not end there.  The Carnifex were the offspring of the great lizards known as dinosaurs and they represented a much different Oerth than what it was now.  A hotter place, filled with life from beyond the stars or from deep time.

The Second Great War, sadly was inventible as it was regretable.  The Dragonborn came up against the expanding elves time and time again.  Elves, with their ability to adapt nearly perfectly to their environment, were grabbing lands faster than the dragonborn could get their own people out into these new realms.   The conflict was brief, but global.  While both sides still hold long cultural memories of this war they have decided to work more towards peace, if not just a break from the hostilities.

The Third Great War was between the Dragonborn and the formerly human, now tiefling Empire of Bael Turath.  This was the war that would last 5 generations and destroy both empires.  In the case of Bael Turath it would wipe them from the face of the world and the dragonborn would return to their island and never interact with the outside world again until recently.
Some say the war began with a distarous first meeting between the two races, others say that war was always going to happen. In truth the war began in the Nine Hells when Asmodeus, always vying for more power, created the tieflings and cast Tiamat from Hell into the Abyss.  Offended beyond measure Tiamats clerics screamed for blood and in a rare case of ancestry overriding other concerns even the clerics of Bahamut, who still consider Tiamat their "grand mother", joined them in their cries for vengence.
Soon the lands, skies and seas were filled with battle.  Dragonborn sorcerers battled tiefling warlocks.  Paladins of Bahamut and Tiamat traded blows with hellknights of tieflings. Dragons attacked with mighty breath weapons while Olitiau, monstrous war-bats returned attacks with hypersonic shrieks. When the world could not contain their battles they spread to other realms and planes.  They spilled each other's blood in the sands of Athas. They fought in airships over Khorvaire.  On Krynn both sides were so bloody that all traces of both races were gone by the time of the Lance.  Emperors on both sides had been assassinated and capitals had fallen.  The war finally ended when the dragonborn finally broke the tiefling hold on Arkhosia and sent the tieflings fleeing.  It is said that remnants of this war still remain and great and terrible magics are to be had.  It is rumored that a tiefling spellbook from Bael Turath ended up in the have a wizard in the then young Suel empire.  It is believed that the spell that caused the Invoked Devastation that came upon the Baklunish was just a fragment of a spell found.  It would also seem the Baklunish had their own source of Turathi spells with the rain of colorless fire.
When the war ended no one was a live to have remembered it's beginning.  The animosty between the races today is one more of lazy hate.  They know each other's history but also the long history of what the recovery from that war entailed.


Given the dragon's proclivity to amass things I would say that Fireland/Arkhosia has the world's largest library on magic.  Spells of every description, level, and type.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: Castles & Crusades Boxed Sets & Digest Books

My love of Castles & Crusades is deep and well known.  It scratches that 1st Ed AD&D itch AND still has enough modern elements that I like.
It really is what 3rd Edition AD&D could have been.

Regardless of what it is or what it could emulate it is a damn fine game and Troll Lords keeps giving us quality material.

Now they are giving us quality material, digest size!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/classic-castles-and-crusades-boxed-sets-and-digest

This is being hailed as "3 Kickstarters in 1"
Here are the details.

  • C&C Classic Basic Boxed Set: This digest-sized boxed set is an "old school" presentation of the game, in a white box just like the original D&D rules, with saddle-stitched booklets containing a complete, but streamlined version of the game, with four character classes, four races, and magic to take your game all the way to level 10. Plus, a complete introductory adventure module! This box will be different than the Advanced and it will not be exclusive to the Kickstarter, it will eventually land in retail shops.

  •  C&C Classic Advanced Boxed Set: A True Collector's set, this limited, signed and numbered set will include everything from the Basic set, plus two additional books of character classes, equipment, monsters and gods; a full set of dice; character sheets; a pencil and more. This box will be different than the Basic box, sporting  a wood grain cover similar to the original OD&D box. It will be available in this Kickstarter and any left over from the very limited print run will be put in our store.

  •  C&C Complete Digest Rulebooks: These are the complete rulebooks for our seven core books: the Player's Handbook, Monsters & Treasure, Castle Keeper's Guide, Codex of Aihrde, Player's Guide to Aihrde, Adventurer's Backpack, and Monsters & Treasure of Aihrde. Each is the complete rulebook, exactly as you'd see it in full-size hardcover, but shrunk to digest size, softcover and printed in black and white. You can build your own set or buy all 7. 
The digest rules are great on their own, but the Basic and Advanced sets?  Yeah, that sounds great.



Love the idea of Digest sized books. And I love I can add as many, or as few, as I like.

In my current games, I use some digest sized Player's Handbooks at the table for players to use.  So I might not get all seven books, but instead get 5 C&C PHBs!

The Advanced set also sounds great.  A woodgrain box?  Yes, please!

Troll Lords really captured the feel of D&D/AD&D well and I really believe that may be more than anyone they are spiritual inheritors of D&D.   Oh don't get me wrong, D&D 5 is great and a ton of fun.  But ever notice that there is a lot in D&D 5 that C&C did first?

There are some nice early bird specials, jump on this while you can!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

It's a GREAT time to be a fan of Witches...

My cup overflows with witch-related TV shows.

Let's have a look.

First up is the one everyone knows about, Charmed on the CW.




Over on FX we have American Horror Story Apocalypse, which is I gather a sequel to Season 1 Murder House and Season 3 Coven, or two of my most favorite seasons.



Not to be outdone Netflix is giving not just one show, but two!

First up, and just in time for Halloween is The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina!



And later The Witcher.  Heard the drama about the Ciri casting and I really could not care less. As long as the actress is good.   I am very curious who they will get for Triss though.

Over on Sci-fi (SyFy i guess) we will get Season 4 of Magicians.  Let me tell you, this is one insane show.  Think Hogwarts with a lot of sex, a lot of drugs and ... well there is no good way to describe it. Just watch it.



Over in respectable countries we are getting A Discovery of Witches. Based on the books.  I have a number of issues with these books, but maybe the TV show can improve on it.  I will say this, the casting brilliant.



And lastly, one still looking for a home.  Titled, simply enough, Witches.



Love the look of this one!  The website is also cool. http://www.witchestvseries.com/

Things are looking good!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Dark Places & Demogorgons: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Hex Girls; Bizzare Love Triangle

This one time, at band camp...

Seriously. You can't have read ANY of this blog and not know that my obsessions are music and the 80s.   So for me, an obvious build is the Hex Girls for my "Sunny Valley, OH" game set in the mid-80s for the Dark Places & Demogorgons game.

So what are the Hex Girls doing here?   We know the Hex Girls live in Oakhaven, MA so maybe the band trip seems to be the best choice. The girls are in for a competition.  This is a great time for me to let Oz shine.   A romance between Oz and Thorn?  Or better yet Oz and Luna, they have a lot more in common.



If I set this Pre-Tara (which I am loathed to do, BUT...go with me on this) this could be when Willow and Oz are still dating (I am a die-hard Willow/Tara shipper, but I like Oz and I don't undervalue the relationship they had).  Oz and Willow are dating, but something is not right (Willow is really gay) and along comes Luna.  Smart, musically talented and gorgeous as hell.  Plus I like the idea of Oz, the werewolf, being attracted to a girl named Luna.

It also allows me to use this as the title of the episode.

Bizzare Love Triangle
"The Hex girls are in town and they have awakened something in Oz and Willow both!"

The setup for this one will dirt-simple.  One of the bands in the competition is using magic to cheat by raising a ghost of a dead musician.  The cast needs to find the object that is the focus of the dead musician and destroy it before the ghost is successful in summoning more ghosts in order to "Get the Band back together".  Given the year I am going to say the living band who did the summons is a Bon Jovi rip off, and the "dead" band is a KISS/Glam Rock sort of deal.  Pay homage to the Scooby Doo roots of all these sources and make them like KISS.

OR better yet, just steal this Scooby-Doo Hex Girls episode and have everyone turn into zombies!





AND this gives you an excuse to use Bloat Game sister product, Survive This! Zombies! 2nd Edition.

If this Willow-Oz-Luna thing is happening, maybe I could play with a Buffy-Angel-Thorn thing.  Angel thinks Thorn is a vampire, and Thorn thinks he is just really into the goth scene.  This conflict though is quickly resolved.

Luna is busy with her Oz and Willow issue.  Thorn is dealing with Buffy, and Dusk...Dusk is doing her thing.

The trick now is figuring out what class(es) fit the girls best.

Thorn would make a convincing White Witch. But all are Goths.  I am going to say all are Goths, but they sacrifice a level of goth for a level or two of white witch.

For this episode, I will use the Core book, the Player Options & GM Guide (for White Witches) and the Werewolf Sourcebook (for Oz).


Thorn
AKA Sally McKnight
Class: Goth 2 / White Witch 2
Alignment: Good
Languages: English
Age: 15

Attributes
STR: 10 +0
INT: 14  +1
WIS: 15 +1
DEX: 10 +0
CON: 11 +0
CHA: 16 +2
SUR: 15 +1

AC: 11    HP: 17    Attack Bonus +1

Courage: 3
Critical: 3
Death: 4
Mental: 4
Poison: 2

Class Abilities
Can see spirits and ghosts.
2 Minor spells
Healing touch

Skills
Art & Music +4, Paranormal +4, Knowledge (local "Oakhaven, MA") +1, Knowledge (magic) +2,Intimidation +2, Hide +2, Toughness +2

Possessions
Goth clothing, fake teeth, guitar

Money: $25

Luna
AKA Kim Moss
Class: Goth 2 / White Witch 1
Alignment: Good
Languages: English
Age: 15

Attributes
STR: 11 +0
INT: 14  +1
WIS: 15 +1
DEX: 11 +0
CON: 10 +0
CHA: 17 +2
SUR: 15 +1

AC: 11    HP: 15    Attack Bonus +1

Courage: 3
Critical: 2
Death: 3
Mental: 3
Poison: 3

Background: Biracial

Class Abilities
Can see spirits and ghosts.
1 Minor spell
Healing touch

Skills
Art & Music +3, Paranormal +3, Knowledge (local "Oakhaven, MA") +1, Knowledge (magic) +2, Intimidation +2, Hide +1, Toughness +1

Possessions
Goth clothing, fake teeth, keyboards and bass.

Money: $40

Dusk
AKA Muffy St. James
Class: Goth 2 / White Witch 1
Alignment: Good
Languages: English
Age: 15

Attributes
STR: 12 +0
INT: 12  +0
WIS: 13 +1
DEX: 10 +0
CON: 14 +1
CHA: 16 +2
SUR: 15 +1

AC: 11    HP: 16    Attack Bonus

Courage: 3
Critical: 2
Death: 4
Mental: 2
Poison: 2

Class Abilities
Can see spirits and ghosts.
1 Minor spell
Healing touch

Skills
Art & Music +3, Paranormal +3, Knowledge (local "Oakhaven, MA") +1, Knowledge (magic) +2, Intimidation +3, Hide +2, Toughness +3

Possessions
Goth clothing, fake teeth, drums

Money: $100 (family is stinking rich)

I will have to play these versions to see how they work.

The Hex Girls win with the version of "Bizzare Love Triangle" sung like Frente!.  Note the singer, Angie Hart of Frente!, actually wrote most of the songs from Buffy's musical episode.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Urban Adventures: The Trial

I have talked in the past about my fondness for Urban and City base adventures.  Back alleys all the way up to court intrigue have been something of a rare-privilege of mine in my games.

With WotC coming out with their new D&D Waterdeep Dragon Heist adventure (which looks awesome by the way, "D&D meets Ocean's 11") I got to thinking about something I have never successfully fun.

The Courtroom Drama.

I REALLY want to do a courtroom drama in a game.  Especially a D&D game.

You know as well as I that Players and Characters will do something that will end them up on the wrong side of the law and they are going to need lawyers and a trial.

I briefly covered this in a post WAY back when in Lawyers, Guns, and Money. But that was for a modern age and a quirky bunch of characters/lawyers.

What I am looking for is a great court-room drama. Life and death stakes;  bribe, graft, witness tampering, surprise witnesses, hostile opposing counsel, mysterious deaths.  All of that.

I have yet to figure out HOW to do it.

The great thing is once I do figure it out I can drop it into any campaign.
Because like I said back then "sooner or later, your characters are going to get into trouble and they are going to need a lawyer".

Anyone ever try this? I am even willing to try the old trope of a "celestial court".

Love to hear what have all done.

Oh. You better believe that there will be someone in the whole deal that's a stand-in for Warren Zevon.  Cause that is just the way my games work.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

This (Not so) Old Dragon...

I plan to get back to regular posting, including This Old Dragon.

But in the meantime you can get your Dragon goodness from my friend Rachel Ghoul as she looks at some newer copies of Dragon Magazine.

https://the-avocado.org/2018/08/31/lets-read-dragon-april-2004/

She is just filling in, but let's hope we get to see more of this.



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