Monday, July 13, 2020

On Extended Hiatus

This blog is on Extended Hiatus

I'll be back when I'm back.

Take care and stay safe!

Monday, May 25, 2020

[Hanna-Barbera] Worlds of the Galaxy Trio

Of all the Hanna-Barbera shows I've been watching lately, the one that really surprised me was Birdman and the Galaxy Trio. I had not expected much, but interestingly, not only did I find the stories enjoyable, I also felt that they were very inspirational. They are very much a cut-down version of the long, boring stories with interminable story arcs that are so common today, much like comic books from the same era would have two or even three self-contained stories that still moved along the overall story line and character development.

The Galaxy Trio (L to R): Vapor Man, Galaxy Girl, Meteor Man
The inter-galactic milieu of the Galaxy Trio provides a ton of ideas for fantastic space-super-hero adventures. You can use pretty much any system, though it naturally lends itself very well to the classic TSR Marvel Super-Hero RPG. You could even use a mix of Labyrinth Lord and Starships & Spacemen. Characters with abilities like Gravity Girl, Meteor Man, and Vapor Man could be represented by the Elf class, with both combat abilities and special abilities as per spells, but tightly grouped to the proper types. Evil Scientists would be magic-users; doctors and medics would be clerics, and so forth.

Here is a list of the worlds encountered in the Galaxy Trio stories:

Worlds of the Galaxy Trio

Amzot: Humans (Refugees from Quasar), Many Native Races; Primitive; Amzot is the twin of Quasar (below), the two form a Double Planet, revolving around a common point in orbit around their sun; Amzot is 2/3 the size of Quasar but has many metals, especially the rare Organite; they revolve around their barycenter every 24 hours, and as Amzot rotates every 24 hours, almost 1/4 of the planet, the "Dark Side," is always cast in darkness (1/16 twilight, 1/8 darkness, 1/16 twilight); creatures native to the cold, barren Dark Side are either weakened or harmed by the light of the sun; World of the Herculoids, where refugee humans work with primitive native life forms to protect their world from would-be conquerors, pirates, and invaders. Never featured in Galaxy Trio, but easily fits in the same universe.

The Herculoids
Aqueus: Aquatrons (Fish-Folk, Water-Breathers); Super-Science; Advanced Heat Rays, Giant Robots, and Domed Cities; Prince Lotar overthrows his brother, King Neptar, and seeks to melt the Earth’s Polar Icecaps. [2] Later attempts to re-take the throne using a giant robot fire-breathing lizard. [X]

Centauri III: Earthlings (Humans); Super-Science; Home to the Intergalactic Treasury. [12]

Crimson Zone (Stellar/Planetary Region): Frontier on fringes of Unexplored Space; Unnamed world where Elraf used a Molecular Beam to kidnap people from across the galaxies to work in his mines, especially psycho-sodium, used to create ankle-bands that helped keep victims under his power. [15]

Earth: Earthlings (Humans, Homeworld), Many Nations Not all Peaceful; Super-Science, ships can fly using Blur speed (warp-speed, traveling light years in hours or even minutes) and limited use of Displacer Technology (molecular disintegration, transportation through space, and re-integration, usually from near orbit at best); Home of the Galactic Patrol, led by the Chief, and the champions of which are the Galaxy Trio. Once attacked by the Eye of Time (Sends Ships Back in Time, effect usually lasts 24 hours). [8, 10]

Galaxy Trio on the Displacer in Condor I
Gravitas: Gravitons (Gravity-Empowered Humans); Super-Science; Evil Scientist Gralik sought to conquer the planet using his Ultra-Gravitizer Ray, which can increase or eliminate gravity for objects from interplanetary distances; stopped by Galaxy Trio; Gravitons have the ability to manipulate gravity, to a greater or lesser extent, to move people and things as per telekinesis, to move up and down as per levitation; and even to fly. Homeworld of Gravity Girl, who is the daughter of the King of Gravitas, and so is a Planetary Princess. [19]

Magnetron: Magnetrons (Planetary Apes); formerly Super-Science; Destroyed in a war, with only a handful of survivors spread throughout the galaxies. The people had the ability to manufacture advanced exploding androids.

Meteorus: Moltens (Rock-Folk, Subterranean), Meteorans (Density-Empowered Humans); Super-Science; Moltens sought to drive Humans off world using explosions and lava. Meteorans have the ability to increase or decrease their size and manipulate their density and strength, to a greater or lesser extent; the most advanced can even control these abilities by body part(s). Homeworld of Meteor-Man. [3]

Moltens of Subterranean Meteorus
Moonoid-49: None; none; Moonoid in the same stellar system as Gravitas; the Evil Scientist Gralik was exiled here, developed his Ultra-Gravitizer, and deployed it against Gravitas from this moonoid.

Nova: Novans (Alien Space Halflings); Super-Science; the Evil Scientist Growliath uses a gas he developed to increase the size of small creatures to giants to conquer his world, the Galaxy Trio forced him to give them the antidote and they shrank him to a size where he was kept in a cage by the Novan King. [16]

Orbus 4: Orbans (Humans); Super-Science; Advanced Robotics; Robots Revolt led by Computron defeated by Galaxy Trio. [1, 9]

Robot Rebellion on Orbus 4
Outpost A-15: None; Moonoid; Space Ranger Outpost; One of several outposts attacked by an un-intelligent Spore-Monster that uses a Sleep Gas, it is never discovered who sent the monster or why. [18]

Penitentius, the Prison Planet: Various; Super-Science; Use robot drones to track down and capture criminals; Prisoners rebelled, tried to escape but could not figure out how to use the Galaxy Trio’s spaceship in time; now home to three of the galaxy’s remaining Magnetrons. [5, 14]

Planet K-7: Humans; Super-Science; Pirates used paralyzing/sleep gas to render inhabitants into a trance to steal valuables, used robotic vehicles to gather treasure, Galaxy Trio defeated and got antidote. [4]

Planet Z-10: Abandoned; Super-Science; Was home to factories of War Machine Robots re-activated and used by Computron to try to destroy the Galaxy Trio. [9]

Computron directing the War Machine Robots of Planet Z-10
Planet Z-11: Alien Space Halflings; Super-Science; Plastron threatened to freeze the planet by blocking of their sun using the rogue moonoid Plastus (a planet of rubber-like substance filled with gas); the Galaxy Trio popped Plastus, which blasted off into deep space. [20]

Plastus: Unknown; Super-Science; Rogue moonoid consisting of a rubber-like substance filled with gas; Plastron and his followers threatened the people of Planet Z-11 with extinction using the moonoid to blot out their sun; the Galaxy Trio popped Plastus, which blasted off into deep space. [20]

Primevia: Cavemen; Primitive; Natives attacked by men from Vaporus (home to Vapor-Man) and forced to mine gold and gems. [11]

Primevia under the rule of Rogue Vaporions
Quasar: Robots, many Human slaves; Super-Science; Once ruled by an advanced human civilization, the humans of Quasar were overthrown in a robot revolution 10 years ago (if only the Galaxy Trio had been there to help). Since that time the Galactic Patrol have kept the entire system under interdiction, both Quasar and Amzot, the primitive twinned world of Quasar. See Amzot, above, for information on their status as a Double Planet (note that Quasar does not have a Dark Side, as it rotates every 32 hours, but Amzot causes many partial eclipses on a daily basis).

Titan’s World: Uninhabited; Super-Science; Titan the Titanium Man (Scientist) lured Galaxy Trio to destroy them with his Super-Cybernoid Robots to get them out of his way of conquering the galaxy. [7]

Tranquility Belt (Stellar/Planetary Region): Frontier, with human settlers; Primitive Frontier with some Super-Science; Drackmore (unknown alien) captured and enslaved settlers using advanced technology. [6]

Drackmore and his Robot Soldiers
Unknown: Unknown; Super-Science; Home of Specter and his Duplitron Machine (makes doppelgangers of people, under his control). [8]

Vaporus: Vaporions (Gas-Empowered Humans); Super-Science; Vaporions have the ability to transform into and wield various types of vapor (gas), from fiery vapor to freezing vapor, and enabling them to become gaseous and fly, among other power; not all Vaporions have the same range of powers or skill at their use. Homeworld of Vapor-Man of the Galaxy Trio. [11]

Vector V-16 (Stellar/Planetary Region): Frontier; many unexplored worlds, including the unnamed world of the Rock Monsters once used by Braton, a criminal and escaped convict, to try to destroy the Galaxy Trio. [13]

Braton and his Rock Monster servants threaten the Galaxy Trio

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Skull Mountain, Cross-Section Dungeons, and Birdman?

So as mentioned before, Jodi and I are viewing a ton of old cartoons, especially of late classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 60's and 70's. One that we are viewing is Birdman and the Galaxy Trio (the original, not the post-modern remake, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law).

So there we were, watching some real old-school super-hero antics, when in episode 12A: The Wings of F.E.A.R. (first aired November 25, 1967) the enemy base ends up being "Death's Head Peak" high in the Andes:

Death's Head Peak
Now, this is already cool enough, because, you know, villains lairing in skull-topped mountains is always cool. But then shortly thereafter, this scene popped up:

Cross-section of the F.E.A.R. lair in Death's Head Peak
And what have we here, an actual cross-section of the lair/dungeon of F.E.A.R., inside Death's Head Peak! Now what did that remind me of? Well, of course, this:

Sample cross-section of levels in Holmes
Now, of course, the original cross-section of levels as featured in OD&D Vol. III showed much of this, just not without the skull element. And there are plenty of other "skull lair" motifs in all sorts of literary and other sources.

But... did this brief scene perhaps help influence the development of the Great Stone Skull Dungeon in Holmes? Holmes would have been 37 when this show first premiered, so it is unlikely he was watching Saturday-morning cartoons at the time. Perhaps he saw it when his son, Chris, was watching? Inquiring minds want to know...

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Scooby-Doo Based Adventure Ideas

What with having plenty of time at home, Jodi and I have been watching a lot of classic cartoons lately, from Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies to Herculoids and Thundarr the Barbarian to the many, many various incarnations of Scooby-Doo. Scooby-Doo has had 43 films, 27 short films, 14 TV series, 5 television specials, 8 television shorts, 6 television films, 34 direct-to-video films, and 5 plays in the last 51 years (Scooby is only a few months younger than I am, it seems)!

We started out at the beginning, with Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! the original series that aired from 1969 to 1970 (and which was on reruns forever and ever and ever during my youth). Though it was hokey, and even a child could see through most of the mysteries (which was kind of the point), even now, all these years later after not having watched it in some 40 years, it was a lot of fun to watch. Unlike many of the TV shows and movies of my youth, it aged fairly well.

It also explains a lot of what I still see today in my mind's eye when, in games, I am in a dungeon, or dealing with tricks and traps and chases and monsters, especially ghosts of course. And those pit traps? I think the villains from Scooby-Doo give Team Rocket from Pokemon a run for their money with the pit traps.

Anyway, I took the 25 episodes from the original 2-season run from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and created a quick and dirty inspirational chart for adventure locales, villains, and motives. Enjoy!

Click to embiggen
Roll once for each column. Not all combinations are necessarily going to make sense, but they will offer a springboard for imagination. If nothing else, maybe it will inspire you to give this 50-something year old show another look!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

[Lands of Ub] Campaign Notes and Other Orders of Magic

To fully run a Lands of Ub campaign you will need either Labyrinth Lord AND the Advanced Edition Companion OR Advanced Labyrinth Lord, by Dan Proctor published by Goblinoid Games; and

Here are some suggested rules upon which the material in this book are based:

1) Races and Types: The world has human, demi-human (dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, halflings, half-orcs, pixies), humanoid (bugbears, gnolls, goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, orcs), and four-fingered talking animal (animal-folk in a wide variety of types) races. These many different races have always lived together in the Lands of Ub; cave paintings from the days of cave men, cave elves, and cave rabbit-folk show all three and many others living and fighting together. Nobody thinks it is at all unusual, as it has always been so.

Lands where only one racial type are found are unknown; lands where one type is overwhelmingly dominant are fairly rare (usually these are areas where demi-humans (dwarves, elves, gnomes, and halflings) are found). Most areas are relatively cosmopolitan, having a mix of three or more races and/or types; major cities are fully cosmopolitan. Humans are a plurality in the world, but only just.

Racial animosity is quite rare; unusual individual cases generally stem from a negative personal interaction, or applying a rivalry/enmity with a land and its people to the broad general type (for example, many mouse-folk and rabbit-folk citizens of Carrot County loathe the pig-folk Svinings of the Southern Consolidated Jarldoms due to generations of being raided, but very few apply that enmity to pig-folk as a whole).

The only major exception is in the case of humanoids versus everyone else, but then, generally, humanoids don’t much like each other, let alone others!

Note: All human, demi-human, humanoid, and animal-folk races can interbreed; children take after one parent or the other, only half-elves and half-orcs “mix” of the two parents. Though some of the animal-folk can look more human than others. Note that there is a 1 in 20 chance that a child is a “throwback” to a random ancestor other than the specific races or types of the parent (so for example, a rabbit-folk man and a human woman have a 1 in 20 chance of having a child of random racial or type sort, depending on their own ancestry). The Leonine Clans of the Highlands are an example of this type of ancestral mix; two Highlander lion-folk might have a human child, and two Highlander humans might have a lion-folk child, as the two groups have thoroughly mixed over long centuries.

2) Classes and Level Limits: All races and types can take any class, can multi-class (per AEC/ALL rules), and are unlimited in class level attainable.

3) Death & Healing Rules: Player Characters and Important NPCs have Resistance to Death. Upon being reduced to 0 hit points, PCs and important NPCs are merely knocked unconscious for 1d6 rounds (if a 6, roll 1d10 minutes; if a 10, roll 1d6 turns; if a 6, roll 1d12 hours). When the time ends, the character awakens with 1 hit point. If another character is able to tend to an unconscious character’s wounds for one round, they awaken with 1 hit point.

A character who is unconscious and naturally awakens or is given first aid and awakens is wounded, and all attacks and saving throws are at a penalty of -2. Such wounds are cumulative, occurring each time the character is knocked unconscious (-2 “stunned,” -4 “groggy,” -6 “witless,” etc.) A cure wounds spell or similar magic that restores hit points restores unconscious characters and eliminates all wounds the character has suffered (with no need for bed rest).

PCs have a pool of Self-Healing Dice equal to their Hit Dice number and type; they may use these during a rest that lasts at least one Turn (10 minutes), rolling any number of dice they wish, and modifying each by their Constitution modifier, to restore hit points (each die heals at least 1 hit point). A full night and day of bed rest heals all hit point damage, cures all wounds from unconsciousness, and fully replenishes the pool of self-healing dice; a night of rest heals/restores only half.

4) It is suggested that you use PC Boons, Luck Points, and Nature as outlined in R&R.

School of Black Magic
The School of Black Magic is the domain of wicked witches (female and male, both called witches). It is not prestigious like P.U., in fact, it is quite frowned upon, and witchcraft is outlawed in many realms. The school itself is hidden by magic; doors to the school can open just about anywhere, usually wherever beings of flexible morality and weak ethics seek power to smite their enemies, gather wealth, or rule over others untrammeled by law or ethics. There a door appears, and a voice promises them power, in return for service…

After 666 days of training at the Black School a witch is released into the world. The process has transformed them; their skin (fur/scales/etc.) has been transformed to a sickly green, their hair black and frizzy, their grin one of sublime villainy, and a mad glint of nastiness dances in their eyes. They leave the school with a ghoulish grimoire, a witching wand, a broom of flying, a wicked cauldron, and a horrible hat.
  • The ghoulish grimoire contains all 12 of the basic 1st level magic-user spells plus a 13th – summon familiar (they start play with a familiar already summoned, always an imp or quasit).
  • The witching wand enables them to zap their enemies with a bolt of black magic (1/round, roll to hit, range 30/60/90, 1d6 damage).
  • The broom of flying is a standard broom of flying that can also be ordered to attack enemies as a broom of animated attacks.
  • The wicked cauldron enables them to brew potions at half the normal time and cost, regardless of their level (i.e., a 1st level witch can brew potions). Once per month per level the witch can draw forth from the cauldron one vial of any potion she has ever brewed therein in merely 1 turn.
  • The horrible hat is a traditional black-brimmed witch’s hat; it acts as a bag of holding.

These items are not replaced if lost, stolen, or destroyed.

Witches are not always Chaotic nor necessarily Evil; some are just power-hungry and misled, or have delusions of grandeur, believing they can avoid “paying the bill when it comes due.” But the “sponsors” of the School of Black Magic always get theirs in the end. Witches are required to travel to a regional Assembly of Witches eight times a year, and the annual Grand Assembly on the Isle of the Dark One; the witch’s broom can travel to these and back in merely an hour (on these occasions only). Failure to appear at an assembly means the “bill is due,” and a collector will be sent.

Most witches and warlocks wear whatever they please, especially when they are in public, but when at home wear the traditional witch and warlock clothing of dark blue or black robes, long pointed shoes, and of course, their black brimmed hat, accompanied by silver or bone jewelry featuring skulls, spiders, black cats, and similar creatures and motifs.

School of Fairy Magic
The School of Fairy Magic, like the School of Black Magic, is not as prestigious as Prestidigitators University, but it and its graduates are generally far more welcome than those of the School of Black Magic. This is the school for good witches –  men are not unwelcome, however, they are definitely in the minority.

The school is in the Fair Realm, in the city of Grandshee; however, like the School of Black Magic, it has many doors that go elsewhere, and the Fairy Godmothers of the school travel far and wide to find those with the magical talent and proper disposition. [Note: Graduates of the School of Fairy Magic are always known as Fairy Godmothers, even when male; Fairy Godfathers are the leaders of the Fairy Mafia, a completely different organization.]

Usually after 777 days of study a student graduates with her book of shadows, containing all 12 of the basic 1st level magic-user spells. She also starts out with a witching wand, a tiara of disguise, and a magic mirror.
  • The witching wand allows her to make a stunning attack of shooting stars at a target within 60’. The target must make a save versus Wands; failure indicates it is stunned for 1 round.
  • The tiara of disguise allows her to appear to wear any kind of clothing she wishes – from something a fishwife might wear to a ball gown worn by a royal princess.
  • The magic mirror is a large wall-hung mirror that allows her to speak with any other fairy witch she knows who also possesses a magic mirror, over any distance; however, it must pass through the Magic Mirror Exchange Tower at FT&T (Fairy Telepath & Teleport) in Grandshee, so it takes 1d6 rounds to put through a connection per mortal realm between, and then there is a chance the target of the communication is not home. A message of up to three rounds length may be left if no one answers. Magic mirror calls cost 1 sp per round, due on the 1st of the next month, collected by fairy courier.

In addition to the usual magic-user abilities, a fairy witch possesses the following powers and responsibilities:
  • A fairy witch can grow wings and fly like a pixie or sprite (180’ (60’)); must rest 1 turn after 3 turns of flight. If already a  pixie, she can fly without need for rest; if already a sprite, flying speed increases to 240’ (80’).
  • At 4th level a fairy witch can shrink to sprite-size or back at will (if already a pixie or sprite, the fairy witch can grow to human-size or back at will).
  • Starting at 8th level a fairy witch becomes a Fairy Godmother and is assigned a “hard case,” a poor young woman (or sometimes man) who deserves better out of life, and the fairy godmother must help them realize their goals (even if they do not know them yet). She must help this hard case before she can rise in level, regardless of total experience points. Each level a fairy godmother gets a new hard case.

Right Honorable Order of Legerdemainists
A lesser regional guild considered one step above hedge mage, the RHOL trains both arcane illusionists and stage magicians. Based out of Burrowburgh, it has nowhere near the respect as P.U., nor even that of the Fairy Witches, but it is a legally chartered guild, operative in most of the Frelengian successor states. Local guild halls assist members to find gigs and stay out of the way of Johnny Law (no few members of the guild, and even whole guild chapters, are tied in with the local Thieves Guilds). After a three-year apprenticeship, a newly-minted illusionist begins play with a spell book with three 1st levels spells of choice, and one 2nd level spell of choice.

Hedge Mages and Meadow Witches
Those who learn arcane magic outside the university or school system are known as hedge mages or meadow witches (also called wise-men, wise-women, wise-guys, mountebanks, charlatans, quacks, crones, addle-casters, granny-cantrips, gaffer-crack-spell, and other pejorative terms by the “better-educated” of good old P.U.). These magic-users learn at the knee of a master, having been taken on as an apprentice (read “indentured dogs-body”), and sometimes actually manage to learn magic. Some even rise to great power and prestige; after all, even Frelengo DeFriz started out as a hedge wizard, and he founded P.U. (the fact of which graduates are never happy to be reminded).

Hedge mages and meadow witches have no special benefits, privileges, powers, abilities, or tools – however, they are also not bound by any restrictions or requirements, other than local laws about the use of magic (and hedge wizards are often more than willing to break these). They start out with a spell book with read magic, two 1st levels spells of choice, and one 2nd level spell of choice.

Bonus Spell for Magic-users and Illusionists
In the Lands of Ub, magic-users and illusionists gain the benefit of additional spells to memorize, or perhaps a chance to fail in casting a spell, based on their Intelligence score, as clerics and druids do based on their Wisdom score.

Use Wisdom Table II and give a magic-user or illusionist bonus spells or a chance of spell failure based on their Intelligence on that table, rather than their Wisdom. Thus, an illusionist with an Intelligence of 16 would gain two 1st and two 2nd level spells, while a magic-user with an Intelligence of 10 would have a 15% chance of spell failure every time he casts a spell!