Monday, February 28, 2011

Session XXXI: A Twilight Hunt For A Vampyre

As mysterious deaths continued in the city of Caladan, our fearless party decided to try to hunt this so-called vampire down as 'she' stalked her prey.

Before they leave for the darkened streets of Caladan, however, Slick Vinny had identified the mysterious Cat's Eye crystal that they had hauled out from the basements beneath the tower. It turned out that it was crystal ball of sorts used to communicate with Kushana, the witch-queen of the Southern Empire.

Thinking it best to keep this magic item under wraps (and away from a particular curious halfing), Vinny covered the 'Eye of Zenopus' and joined the party heading into Caladan.

Arvin's Avengers decided to stalk the southern district on their first night out. Wolfheir would be the 'bait', Tibag would be hiding in the shadows keeping an eye out for him while Vinny turned the rest of the party invisible (except for Skwanky, he wore his newly found ring of invisibility).

No sign of mischief that first evening though a dead body was discovered the next morning in the northern district.

The next evening Adessa would be the 'bait' while being watched by the others.

As the night progressed, Adessa was accosted by two drunken hooligans. Leading them on, the Amazon escorted them into a dark alley. The two tried to have their way with Adessa who fought back. Skwanky appeared out of nowhere and stabbed one of the drunkards in the back, killing him. The other, seeing the halfling appear out of thin air, tried to high-tail it out of the alley but was shot dead by Tibag's arrows.

In the morning, the town guards found the dead bodies with Tibag and Adessa. After a pathetic round of questioning the guards let the two murderers go but they were forbidden from entering Caladan.

So no vampire but two dead thugs and another dead body drained of blood in the northern district.

So on the third night, the party decided to try their luck on the north side. After having some trouble at the entrance to Caladan, the party worked their way up to the north side using the same plan they used on the first night with Wolheir posing as a drunken derelict.

As the night progressed, the fog rolled in from the sea. Standing in an alley, the viking felt an odd sensation pass over him. Not knowing quite what had happened, Wolf became more alert and soon spied a shadowy shape approach. As the figure came closer, Wolfheir saw that it was a woman wearing a red cloak. The woman stepped up to the Viking and asked if he wanted to spend the night together.

It was at this point that the party discovered that though they had a plan on stalking the murderer they really didn't have any plan on how to deal with her once they found her. After trying to alert his companions of his suspicions, Wolfheir decided to rip his ragged, alcohol drenched cloak off to reveal the garlic around his neck and try to grab this woman. At the surprise movement, the woman hissed baring her pointed fangs at the viking before easily breaking away. At that point, Tibag stepped up behind the woman and stabbed her in the back. Maudlin flung her dwarven war-hammer at the witchy-woman who easily dodged the famed weapon. She then turned to face Tibag and after giving a snarl turned into a green mist and quickly floated off towards the south.

The entire party was stunned at what they had just witnessed. They still weren't sure if that was indeed Zenopus but the evidence was almost undeniable. They all seemed a bit dismayed and wondered how to kill a being that can disappear into a mist.

After some debate, it was thought that it would be best to pursue this creature to her lair and kill her and that meant going back beneath the tower.

So Arvin's Avengers high-tailed it out of town and back to the tower. On the way they found their night-guard, Ozark had been slain - his body drained of blood!

Entering the ground floor of the Moon-tower they found the bodies of Profia and Baradund drained as well.

Hearing the hatch above beginning to open, Adessa ascended the stairs only to find a bleary-eyed Televon and Gnarly who had spent too much time with the Moon-milk!

While Televon and Gnarly sobered up, the rest of the part descended the stairs into the Underworld once again. This time, as they entered the second level caves beneath the tower they noticed a thin layer of green mist hugging the corners of the passageways.

Following the tunnels the soon descended down into the lower levels and back to the chamber where they had fought the Purple Worm. Continuing north they discovered a number of passages and chambers. In one chamber there was only a single small shiny apple in the center of the room. Thinking it best to leave that apple be they turned to walk back up the passage. Skwanky slipped on his ring of invisibility and dashed back into the chamber to devour the apple. As the apple was eaten the party saw that the piece of fruit slowly rose into the air. The halfling removed his ring to reveal that by eating the apple he had grown twice his normal height! Skwanky was now an eight foot halfling!

Continuing down a passageway Arvin's Avengers entered a comfortably furnished chamber. As they explored further they found a second wing to the room which was an exact mirror to the room they were in, right down to the rungs on the floor and the comfortable chairs around the room. They pondered what this meant…..

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sequentially D&D 1982

I dug these up the other day - one of my first attempts at doing some comic pages back in 1982 (freshman in high-school if I recall). Being, at the time, an 'aspiring' comic illustrator and avid role-player, I thought I'd blend my two passions together and came up with my Dungeons & Dragons comic pages (without a doubt inspired by TSR's comic book ads of the same era). I drew these two pages and began a third which was never finished it. I remember that in Dwarf falls down a pit and is separated from the party.

I find it fun that I used the Caves of Chaos as the setting with the typical fighter, dwarf, magic-user party. I actually copied these and handed them out to friends in my class who seemed to actually like it. It was at a time when the Moldvay basic set was just coming out and many kids (many of whom wouldn't normally even think about something like a FRPG) were curious about the game that is causing all the rage.

I'm happy to say that over the years my illustration skills have improved (at least I hope they have!).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Session XXX: Deaths In The Mist

AS the past two weeks went by, construction on the first phase of the Moon-tower was completed, Slick Vinny retreated to his basement libraries to research the Cat's Eye Crystal and the Amulet of Anu found deep in the basements beneath Zenopus' tower.

One morning, Wolfheir was awoken by Ozark the tower's hired guard. It seemed that Wolfheir's horse had died during the night. Upon inspection of the dead beast of burden it appeared that it's blood had been drained possibly from two distinct punctures upon it's neck. Speculation was raised on a possible attack by Zenopus herself! It is declared that a guard must stand watch during the night. Kardios the guardsman volunteers.

Skwanky, soon came running out of the tower with a meat-cleaver and began to butcher the horse for the evenings meal, with help from Maudlin and Tibag.

Televon headed into Caladan and sought out a silversmith to create a reflective symbol for the Moontower. While in town he ran into Helgrid, the Pig-witch who had helped the party out in weeks past. Helgrid was seeking out Adara in the hopes that the Stygian ranger had completed the quest given to her by the Great Goddess. Alas, the Pig-witch soon discovered that Adara has fallen. Grim tidings indeed! Televon invited the Pig-witch back to the Moon-tower.

At the tower, with the horse roasting on Skwanky's stove, Helgrid was pleased to meet Adessa, a fellow Amazon and a priestess of the Goddess.

Over a meal Helgrid learned of Adara's fall to the wights beneath Zenopus' tower and talk is had about Adara's quest for the Shield of Usk'Tor. Televon decided that he will hold a seance with the body of Adara and try to gain her quest-dreams through the power of Morpheus. Helgrid and Adessa decided to aid in that task.

As the three exhume the body of the Ranger, Wolfheir and Gnarly head into town to seek out any information about strange sightings regarding Zenopus. The two companions headed to the Cloven Hoof. Speaking with Jesse they asked her of any strange happenings. She has not heard of anything related to any vampire but will keep an ear out.

On the way out they talk with Jack the stable boy. Though he too has not heard much talk of stranger than normal happenings around town he did, however, know where the Viking can purchase a new horse - Hamish just outside of the northern gate.

Wolfheir and Gnarly then head on over to the Green Dragon Inn. Purchasing some drinks from the Barkeep and asking about strange occurrences around town, they are approached by a toothless drunk who, after a tongue-loosening pint, spits out that he saw a mysterious mist hovering around the southern wall of the city. The mist appeared to him to move about in a most uncanny way. Wolf and Gnarly felt without a doubt that that mist has something to do with the powers of a Vampire and possibly Zenopus. They head back to the Moon-tower.

Meanwhile, with the body of Adara exhumed, Televon communes with Morpheus to try to gain access to the dreams that were sent through His realm by the Goddess. Soon, the cleric is reliving Adara's dreams. There he sees the bloodied plains and the vision of Usk'Tor the black Paladin slaying armies. Within moments, Televon is within the hall of many caves and sees the Shield of the Black Sun guarded by an eyeless acolyte. Suddenly he felt the dread presence of great darkness and a black amorphous shape approached him. As Televon left the dream-realm he was puzzled by that dark presence. He is reminded by Gnarly that it may be similar to the being that had inhabited Lord Osric's fevered dreams in weeks past.

As the night progressed, Kardios kept guard on the grounds of the Moon-tower, Televon and Gnarly kept watch on Kardios from the upper levels. Suddenly, they see a thin mist surround Kardios and out of the mist a figure appeared. This figure, pale in the moonlight, stood over Kardios who did nothing to resist. The figure embraced the guard and soon the guard fell.

To aid their hired hand, Gnarly ran down the stairs while Televon just leapt out of the tower, thirty feet to the ground! They ran up to the fallen Kardios while the figure disappeared into the mist and was gone. Televon and Gnarly examined the body and discovered that, like the horse before it, it too was drained of blood.

Skwanky, hearing that there may be another meal to be had came running down with his cleaver but had to be persuaded by the rest of the party not to hack Kardios up for a meal!

Gnarly, thinking that the figure believed to be Zenopus had fled into the nearby graveyard, convinces the cleric, Adessa and Wolf to peruse the creature of the night.

In the cemetery they retrace their steps to the crypt where they had found the original entrance to the catacombs of the tower. While searching, out of the darkness stepped a handful of ghouls! Televon raised the symbol of Morpheus. The brilliant holy light caused the Ghouls to flee into the forest. The party followed in pursuit but could not keep up with the fast moving ghouls.

As dawn approached, the four returned to the Moon-tower.

The next morning, Helgrid bade farewell to the party and gave them a warning: "Beware the gift of Mithra!"

Heading into town to buy supplies and to find out if there were any strange happenings Wolf and the party questioned a few towns-folk. It turned out that there was indeed a strange death with the body taken to the Temple of Mithra. Talking with their old friend Nadrak, priest of Mithra, they discovered that the body was none other than the old toothless drunk who's body was also drained of blood!

Thinking that the party's movements are now being followed by Zenopus, Televon desired to speak with Father Halford. Nadrak informs him that Father Harris had left a number of days ago to aid in the construction of a new temple in Morganville. Televon asked about the Crimson Skull which had been in the father's possession but Nadrak did not know much of the artifact.

Picking up vampire hunting supplies, the party headed back to the Moon-tower to begin the hunt for Zenopus in earnest!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tales Of High Adventure No.1 Now Available!

At long last...
Tales of High Adventure
is now available!

Thrilling pulp adventure fantasy returns with Tales of High Adventure, a quarterly book of prose stories and illustrated tales as published in the pulp magazines of the 1930's and 1940's such as Weird Tales, Astounding Stories, Spicy Mystery Stories, Amazing Stories and Startling Stories!

52 pages for only $4!

This issue features works such as:

At The Earth's Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Beginning one of the original science fantasy adventures from the fantastic mind of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Homeworld by Paul J. Fini
The thrilling illustrated tale of Hamilton West and his astral journey to Homeworld!

Dagon by H. P. Lovecraft
A suicidal morphine-addict recounts his encounter with an ancient blasphemy from the sea!

The Lost Valley by Mike Moran
A Midnight Eagle illustrated tale with Jack and Tosh searching for the missing Dr. Saint!

The Peruvian Report by Max Lieberman
The discovery of a horrific tribe in South America worshiping an ancient idol!

Queen of the Black Coast by Robert E. Howard
Tales of High Adventure is proud to present the tragic tale of R. E. Howard's pirate she-devil of the Hyborean age!

Spirits of the Dead by Edgar Allen Poe
A short poem by the master of the macabre!

READ these pulp style fantasy adventures as they were meant to be read!
HOLD in your hand and flip through the pages of thrilling adventure!!

All for only $4!

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Top 10 Fantasy Actresses - REVISED

REVISED: Might as well go Top Ten

Okay, so maybe this is a bit gratuitous but here's my list of top 10 actresses that, whether through their films or characters in science fiction / fantasy and in some cases action films have left an memorable impressions upon my vision of those genres. I'm sure you all have different lists and for different reasons too but I present to you mine:

10. At ten we've got the fourth Doctor's time-traveling companion Sarah Jane Smith played by Elisabeth Sladen. She even made a number of return visits with a number of other Doctors. Hmmm, to be trapped in a Tardis....
9. Before she was Doctor Quinn she was a Persian Princess and the fortune telling Solitare working with James Bond in Live And Let Die. Let's hear it for the beautiful Jane Seymore!

8. At number eight we have a perrrrrfect match with Julie Newmar as none-other than Bat-Man's fiendish feline antagonist Catwoman. Pin-up, actress, 60's icon of campy super-hero action, and a skin-tight feline outfit to boot!

7. I can't deny requested 5th Element actress Mila Jovovich! HorrorAction star and not too bad on the eyes...oh, those eyes!

6. Number 6 is 60's starlet Diana Rigg of Avengers fame and the short-lived wife of James Bond. Any woman in a black skin-tight jumpsuit from the 60's will make my list anytime (see number 8). Get some kinky Avengers action here.

5. British actress Jenny Agutter lands at number five for her portrayal of sexually free Jessica in Logan's Run and for the beautiful yet tragic Nurse Alex Price in An American Werewolf in London. It's a wonderful night for a Moondance, indeed!

4. Coming in at number 4 we have Natalie Portman. At this point in time she has to be almost a given in this list. She started out as the young girl in The Professional, became the mother of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, had a pretty nasty V or Vendetta and is Nurse Foster in the upcoming Thor flick and has a kick-ass role in Your Highness!

3. Number 3 for me would fall to Adrienne Barbeau. She became a fixture in the 80's horror/fantasy realm with playing Maggie, Brain's Squeeze in "Escape From New York", the unforgettable drunken Billie in Romero's Creepshow and with a very exposed performance in Swampthing. Being married to master of horror John Carpenter didn't hurt either. She's also done much voice work for the Batman animated series.

2. Number 2 brings us to Caroline Munro who started out as a Hammer Glamor girl before moving on as Sinbad's freed slave girl during his 7th Voyage, explored the Earth's Core and went intergalactic in Starcrash. She even appeared as an exotic Bond Girl.

1. And finally, number one in my book would have fall to the stunning Italian actress Ornella Muti who played Princess Aura in the DeLaurentis' 1980's Flash Gordon movie. Her exotic look and heavy accent accentuated her fantastic allure and in my mind will forever set the bar for space fantasy. "No, not the Bore-worms!"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Outpost On The Far Reaches Reaches France!

Great news for all you old school gamers over-seas; the Warlocks' module The Outpost On The Edge Of The Far Reaches has been translated into French and is available in the new issue of Jeu De Role Magazine. A French magazine all about table-top pencil and paper role playing games. The Outpost adventure is it's featured Old School Renaissance scenario translated by Denis Huneau, with brilliant revised artwork. There's also a great interview with artist Russ Nicholson. So check out Jeu de Role issue 12.5.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Session XXIX: A Worm Of A Purple Hue

So, instead of leaving the lower bowels beneath Zenopus' tower, our favorite party decided to continue on with their exploration.

After having recovered the crystal cat's eye (guarded by an ever increasing larger feline), our party, lead by Tibag, left the mystic cat room and proceeded down the passage-way. Passing the opening where they had fought the wights many weeks ago, Tibag hears a soft shuffling sound. Leaving the rest of his companions behind, he sneaks into the dwarves tomb and spies a horrific site. Walking towards the party was a withered Mushroom-man that was slain the by wights - a Mushroom-wight!

As the battle begun, Televon, far back in the marching order, held up the holy symbol of Morpheius but the Mushroom-wight fails to take heed. As the front line fighters attack the wight, Tibag comes in from behind to slay the beast, instead, the unholy Mushroom turned and laid his icy touch upon the brave Tibag. But quickly the rest of the explorers finished off the Mushroom-wight before it could do any more harm.

Televon and Adessa, along with Gnarly, bless it's withered form to lay it to rest.

Moving on, Arven's Avengers passed through an arched opening into an expansive room with a four foot deep pool traversing the length of it. The room was covered in one inch white tiles.

Gnarly sends his Owl across the room to spy out the the darkened portion of the large hall. Through the eyes of the owl, Gnarly sees that the pool is filled with a layers of swirling liquid. As the others look over the edge of the pool they see breaking through the kaleidoscope of colors shining armor, weapons and coins of all kinds at the bottom.

Some in the party don't trust what they see on the bottom but Televon believes it to be a large wishing well and tossed a coin into the water. Adessa watched the ripples roll into the darkness but as they returned they became larger until bursting from the surface of the water was an enormous purple worm!

Immediately, the party lept into action to defend themselves from the horrid beast, Maudlin tossing her dwarven war-hammer, Wolfheir and Tibag hacking away at it with their swords, Gnarly and his mushrooms pounding away at it. Televon, however, went to swing at the worm with his mace but tumbled over the side of the pool and began to sink into the deceptively deep water.

The giant worm then dove down upon Gnarly and swallowed the druid whole! As the Druid slid down into the beast's gut, the rest of the party continued to hack away at it while Televon grabbed hold of it's back and tried to climb back to the surface.

Eventually the beast was slain. Gnarly, having slid out of one of the wounds dove down to aid the drowning cleric. With the help of Tibag, they pulled Televon back to the surface.

With most everyone safe once again, they turned their thoughts to hauling up the treasure hoard from the pool. Using sacks and nets, Tibag, Gnarly and Televon dove down below the surface and gathered the treasure, while the rest of the party helped haul it up and guarded the entrances to the chamber.

After a couple of hours of work (and without any additional trouble) they had all the gems, jeweled, coins, armor and weapons spread out upon the floor. They split it amongst themselves then made their way back to the surface and to their Moon-tower.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Paperback Roundup

I picked these up recently at a couple of different used book stores here in Tucson. Some delicious Frazetta covers as well as a cover by Bruce Jones promoting the fan fiction of DeCamp and Carter (excerpt from the upcoming Conan of Aquilonia).

I love me some paperbacks!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Composer John Barry: November 3, 1933 – January 30, 2011

One of cinema's greatest composers, John Barry, passed this weekend. His film compositions include an incredible range of subjects from Giant Apes (King Kong) to the American plains (Dances With Wolves) to Sci-Fi opera (Starcrash) and to British Secret Agents (11 James Bond soundtracks). He has won 5 Acadamy Awards but for me he defined the swank and sophistication of the 1960 spy thrillers with his unforgettable James Bond soundtracks. His influences can be heard in much of the Trip-hop music from the 90's including Portishead and The Sneaker Pimps.

Being a huge James Bond (Connery) fan his soundtracks have left a everlasting impression on me and define that era.

His sound and vision of film will indeed be missed.