Thursday, December 31, 2020

Year End and Stuff and Online Gaming

So with this post I will hit 40 posts for the year which is the third most annual posts in the ten years of this version of the blog. Not too bad, though you'd think I could have posted more with the Pandemic and all, but things just did not work out that way.

The big news today is that for the first time I will participate in online gaming, playing some 5E Dungeons & Dragons: Rime of the Frostmaiden using Zoom. Not sure how this is all going to work out, I am a bit of a Luddite, after all but I am going to give it a try. I will be playing rather than game-mastering, which in itself is a rare enough experience for me. But I definitely want to get some experience playing online before I try judging online.

I believe I have also hit upon a format that I will use with my published products going forward. I have never been satisfied by the simple PDFs I've been doing, they don't seem to have any character. Thanks to picking up a bunch of issues of Echoes from Fomalhaut, I have been tinkering with going back to the booklet style format I had used in my AGP days. We shall see what comes of it, but I am really liking how it is working out so far.

Between the works of Gabor Lux and Geoffrey McKinney, I am re-working my prose style, which recently has devolved into an exercise in explosive verbosity, which has been no fun for me to read, and I can't imagine it would be fun for others, either. So I am working on tightening up my various works -- gazetteer entries, geography entries, dungeon room entries, etc. -- to focus on a less explicative and more evocative language, as was used in the old days, and which Gabor and Geoffrey have mastered so well.

Oh, and if you have found my Marvel Cinematic Universe musings at all interesting, let me know... there seems to be far less traffic on those, and no comments, so I am not sure people find it at all as interesting an areas as I do...

Anyway, that's where things stand for now. Next year should see more products published, more reviews published, and I am going to concentrate on doing some interesting blog articles.

Happy New Year to you and yours, and certainly, hopefully, a BETTER year for all...

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

[Marvel Cinematic Universe] The Rise of the Multiverse of Madness

OK, so how is the Multiverse of Madness going to work?

From what we can gather so far, with various heroes and villains from non-MCU film incarnations appearing in upcoming movies it is clear that the Multiverse already exists.

First I should note that the destruction of the Infinity Stones did not create the Multiverse; instead, it unraveled the Marvel MCU Universe – also known as Earth-199999 in the litany of Marvel Earths for the comic-book Multiverse.

And now, apparently, because the Universe of Earth-199999 is unraveling, it is crashing into other Alternate Universes – and other Marvel Universes in the already extant (but unknown to residents of Earth-199999) Multiverse are crashing into it.

There exists a storyline in Marvel Comics that fits this exact scenario – the World Incursions that led to the Time Runs Out crossover event that led to the second massive Secret Wars event.

Now, there is a LOT in that series of stories that just simply won’t work in the MCU. Lots of the characters involved in the MCU are already dead; there is no “Illuminati” in the MCU as most of the characters in that organization don’t even exist in the MCU; and a lot of the super-Cosmic stuff that went on just won’t work for the style they have created for the MCU.

But a lot of the basics from that series of events can be adapted to Phase Four and Phase Five of the MCU.

“The events known as incursions are the result of a contraction in the Multiverse's timeline. They exist in a paradoxical nature, as this contraction was caused by the early death of an unknown universe approximately 25 years in the past, when its Molecule Man was killed by the Molecule Man of Earth-616.”

Of course, Molecule Man does not exist in the MCU; in the case of the MCU, the precipitating event is the “destruction” of the Infinity Stones in Endgame.

In the Time Runs Out series, when two Alternate Universe collide, they are after a short time destroyed. Now, that is not going to happen in the MCU… at first. But that will be the end result unless the process of “Universal Contraction” (the “Multiverse of Madness”) is stopped.

Phase Four is going to show us the beginning of the process, and in the end, the discovery that, without something to stop the process, the entire Multiverse will collapse in on itself, bringing an end to everything.

Well, everything except the re-forming Infinity Stones.

So at about the same time that it is discovered that the Multiverse will collapse in on itself, it will be discovered that the Infinity Stones are reforming, and that the key to stopping the collapse is gathering the Infinity Stones to “set the MCU Universe right” and thus stop the process – Phase Five.

But until then, the process of collapse continues, until like in Secret Wars, all but a handful of Universes are destroyed, and perhaps then we see the formation of BattleWorld.

Possible, but we will see. It seems a little “super-Cosmic” for the MCU. Maybe, like Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok, we will see a “BattleWorld,” but it isn’t a bunch of Alternate Earths (including Earth-199999) glommed together, it is something else… shards of other Earths glommed together, likely leaving Earth-199999 intact but still endangered. But you never know…

Note that it is interesting that Marvel has started bringing back World Incursions only just this summer, in the X-Men title Excalibur; see Excalibur Just Brought Incursions Back Into the Marvel Multiverse.

So… would this not be an excellent way to bring not only the Fantastic Four, but also the recently-acquired X-Men into the MCU?

Saturday, December 12, 2020

[Stuff] Dungeon Defensive Magic

One thing I miss about G+ is how you could just quickly post a couple of ideas and leave them hanging there for later consideration. Doing so on a blog like this is not as easy or as simple, but still is a lot better than scribbling out an easily-lost note.

One thing that has struck me recently is dungeons -- a lot has gone into discussing why dungeons exist in such ubiquity in fantasy game worlds, other than the obvious need for adventurers to go into them, raid the monster lairs within, and bring out treasures. One obvious reason, of course, is that there are actual subterranean races in the world, so naturally, they are going to want someplace to live, and unlike the surface races, who built out and up when they left the caves, the subterranean races built in and down. Another major reason discussed is for safety against large monsters, such as dragons and giants; stone buildings just won't cut it, so dungeons are more common as being easily defensible.

You can't tell me the walls inside aren't enchanted...

Another reason is for defense against magic. Lots of magic spells are inoperative through more than so much metal or a larger stretch of stone, so a home deep within the rock of the earth is going to be nicely defensible against such spells. Add to this the ability to enhance that defense in all three dimensions and dungeons look even more appealing. You can't cover an entire surface city in lead or three feet of rock but if you build your city underground, the entire thing is immune to certain spells... and if you put defensive runes on the ceiling, you have even more defense against magic. If you build out the walls, you have even stronger magic built in to the defenses (why are there dressed walls everywhere in dungeons? Simple... to put magic in the walls, which is even stronger than runes alone).

Of course, there is no system for such kinds of defensive magic at all in the game; but then, there is also no system of magic in the system for clerics of agriculture or druids to enhance harvests and such, yet it is kind of assumed that they do. So that's a system of magic that might need be detailed for long-term campaign play...

Friday, December 11, 2020

[Marvel Cinematic Universe] Thor: Love and Thunder Jane and Mjolnir Theory

Everyone is tying themselves in knots trying to figure out how Jane Foster gets ahold of Mjolnir when Mjolnir is destroyed. Well, Thor: Love and Thunder takes place well into Phase 4, even after or around the same time as Doctor Strange 2: Multiverse of Madness.

So there is no need to explain how Jane from the Mainline MCU has Mjolnir because it isn't Jane or Mjolnir from the Mainline MCU... it is Jane and Mjolnir from an Alternate Universe, one where Thor likely died heroically during the "Malekith Incident" (Thor 2: The Dark World) and Jane Foster took up Mjolnir in defense of Asgard (say, Thor was killed defending his mother, Frigga, and Jane took up the hammer and saved her life).

No death of Frigga, no death of Odin, no release of Hela, no Ragnarok... and Jane is now Thor.

And Alternate Jane is still in love with Thor. Now that's a complication...

And then Alternate Universe Jane as Thor, and perhaps even Alternate Universe Asgard, happens to end up in the Mainline MCU, and is threatened by these new villains (or Thor ends up in the Alternate Universe, it works both ways).

So, there you go, no weird time-space convolutions to bring back Mjolnir... and it all furthers the story of the Multiverse in Phase Four.

[Marvel Cinematic Universe] Marvel Phase Four and Phase Five Theory

So yesterday we all got a HUGE infodump on upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films and streams. Being a huge fan of the series (I was a Marvel Zombie growing up, my Holy Trinity being Spider-Man, Thor, and Hulk), I've been delving into a lot of this to try and figure out where things are going with Phase Four and Phase Five.

Here is my list and rundown of current overall theories:

Streaming and Film schedule for Marvel Phase 4: The Marvel Multiverse
WandaVision (S, January 15, 2021)
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (S, March 19, 2021)
Black Widow (F, May 7, 2021)
Loki (S, May(?) 2021)
What If? (S, Summer 2021)
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (F, July 9, 2021)
Ms. Marvel (S, Late 2021)
Hawkeye (S, Late 2021)
Eternals (F, November 5, 2021)
Untitled Spider-Man: Far From Home Sequel (F, December 17, 2021)
She-Hulk (S, 2022?)
Moon Knight (S, 2022?)
Secret Invasion (S, 2022?)
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (F, March 25, 2022)
Ironheart (S, 2022?)
Thor: Love and Thunder (F, May 6, 2022)
Armor Wars (S, 2022?)
Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (F, Late 2022?)
Black Panther 2 (F, Late 2022?)
Captain Marvel 2 (F, November 11, 2022)
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (SF?, Christmas 2022)
I Am Groot (S, 2022?)
Guardians of the Galaxy 3 (F, 2023)

Last of Phase 4? Interim Film? First of Phase 5?
Fantastic Four (F, 2023?)

Projected Film schedule for Marvel Phase 5 : Quest for the Infinity Stones

Main Titles
New Avengers
Secret Wars
Spider-Man: Young Avengers
Infinity Quest
Ultimate Avengers

Secondary Titles
Hulk: Future Imperfect
Doctor Strange: Triumph and Torment

The Phase Four schedule gets weirder and more Cosmic each and every movie. This is no accident.

The entire schedule (possibly including Black Widow) leads up to the unraveling of reality... due to the loss of not just one but all six Infinity Stones. As the Ancient One told Smart Hulk in the past, if you remove even one Infinity Stone from the universe, reality quickly starts unravelling. What happens then when you remove all six Infinity Stones from the universe?

Everything explodes into a Multiverse. A Multiverse of Madness, to be exact. Which leads to Doctor Strange 2, which is really the starting point for Phase 5 -- Quest for the Infinity Stones.

Note: This was before the announcement of the new Fantastic Four movie, which I think now is either the last Phase Four movie, the first Phase Five movie, or an "interim" "bridging" movie that stands between the phases.

Phase 5 will essentially be the reset of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A lot of the best, most famous characters in the MCU have either died or retired, or are getting old (the same as Death in Hollywood). What happens when that happens in the comics books? Well, we get a reset. And everything goes back to Square One (more or less).

And this reset will occur through scrunching back together all the various alternate realities created by the destruction of the Infinity Stones, which... it turns out were not REALLY destroyed. They can't be destroyed -- they were here before the rest of the Universe, so the best can be done by any being that came after is to remove them from reality for a time... and then they coalesce back together.

But meanwhile the Universe unravels into a Multiverse of possibilities.

Phase 5 will be the hunt for these re-coalescing Infinity Stones, because whoever controls the Infinity Stones will be able to determine which parts of the Multiverse remain after the Universe is knitted back together.

It will also likely adapt elements from the recent Secret Wars story (not the original, the latest one, with BattleWorld), as it is a similar storyline, and we know Doctor Doom is going to be involved starting sometime in Phase 4. Heck, one or more of the movies probably even will be called Secret Wars...

Though now that I think of it, it would totally be in the MCU tradition to include some references or call-backs to the original Secret Wars. Maybe they bring in the Beyonder? That would be something!

I think that the one who ends up controlling the Infinity Stones in the end, though, will be Thor. He will be the only one who can handle all the stones, and by that time, he will have gone through an arc to deal with his grief, so he will be ready for it mentally.

He will knit together the unstable Multiverse of Madness into a single stable Universe, incorporating the new (but basically similar) Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, etc. from the various Alternate Universes (and with new, younger actors)... and then either keep the Alternate Universe Asgard or restore Asgard and its people to all its glory, including his parents, Heimdall, the Warriors Three, and all those who died during the Hela and Thanos incidents.

He then flies down to Asgard, where he is applauded by his family and people, including Loki. Loki then asks him what he intends to do now that he has the Infinity Stones. Thor just smiles, raises the gauntlet, and activates the power… and sends all the stones flying away to different, random, hidden corners of the universe.

And Loki faints dead away...

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

My Keyboard Runneth Over...

Thanks to the pandemic-based fugue I am currently working on a wide variety of projects, and was wondering if anyone out there had any preferences for what they might like to see published next?

Darkness at Red Rose Manor: A “fantastique horror” adventure in the vein of the works of Jean Rollin (Labyrinth Lord);

Dastardly Dungeons: A series of “Save or Die!” small dungeon adventures taking advantage of Dyson Logo’s kind offering of some of his maps for free commercial use;

The Eternal Palace (working title): A science-fantasy Huge Ruined Pile/Megadungeon that is set in a huge ruined imperial palace… think Gormenghast meets the Lost City via Pavis and Big Rubble (Labyrinth Lord);

The Kakonomicon: A series of volumes containing information on demons with 13 new demons in each volume (Labyrinth Lord);

Monstrous Magical Miscellany: A series of volumes containing more monsters, spells, and magic items for Labyrinth Lord;

Realms of Talamhur: A quasi-historical fantasy sandbox hexcrawl campaign setting (5-mile hexes) in the style of the Wilderlands (Labyrinth Lord);

Wilds of Olantis: A map (1-mile hexes) and gazetteer for the Olantis region of Theros (5E D&D, easily used with Labyrinth Lord);

World of Damaria: A high-fantasy campaign setting (25-mile hexes) in the style of Middle-earth or Greyhawk (classic 1E Greyhawk style gazetteer);

Let me know if there are any preferences out there for what you might like to see published, or ideas for other projects that you might like to see someone produce.