Thursday, December 22, 2016

Robotech And Writer Brian Wood Are Coming To Titan Comics


Next year, Titan Comics will bring to comic stores a Brian Wood written Robotech comic set in the continuity of the classic Harmony Gold USA cartoons. First airing in the States in 1985, Robotech was the gateway to anime for many fans – capturing their imagination with its epic generational story line involving war, romance, and, of course, the transforming Veritech fighters that defend the Earth against extra-terrestrial attacks. Produced by Harmony Gold USA, the original 85-episode series delved into humanity’s struggle against a series of alien invasions, from the gigantic Zentraedi to the mysterious Invid, battling for control of advanced alien technology that crash-landed on Earth.

"We are excited to have the opportunity to work with Brian to expand the Robotech universe." said Robotech's Tommy Yune, "His bold approach to storytelling is thoughtful and will be full of surprises for fans."





Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Gods And Monsters


The game that I am going to be running after the holidays for the local people is going to be the Fate Accelerated urban fantasy game that I mentioned before. Here is the basic pitch/mission statement that I gave to the group:
Once Upon A Time...
Your characters were gods, or at least they might have considered themselves to be something like that. They were powerful beings who wandered a world that was simultaneously brighter and more dangerous than the world in which they now exist. There was magic, and monsters and many other things.
Now, you can still do some cool things, but it is nowhere near as cool as what you used to do.
Even though the setting is changed, your story isn't over. You aren't entirely sure why you are still around, other more powerful beings than yourself faded away a long time ago. You know that there are still others like you around. Some of them have adjusted, relatively, to their new stations, much like you have. Others want to try to change things back to the way that they were. Whether that is possible or not, it is hard to tell, but none of the plans have worked in the hundred of years that you can remember.
Maybe you're one of the monsters from the old world. Things are just as strange for you, as it is for the beings who used to be your enemies. You can hide yourself among the populace of the world, to some degree or another, so it isn't like you're "all monster, all the time."
Maybe you're one of those people that others claim never actually existed. They say that you're just a character from a book, or a children's story. You can't possibly be real. You feel real to you, and you remember your life in this world, as well as in the stories that everyone insist are made up.
The world is a strange place.
 I see it as a sort of American Gods meets Fables (or Once Upon A Time) sort of vibe.

My definition of urban fantasy is basically "horror without the scary." You use a lot of the genre conventions and archetypes of horror, but you treat it more like the fantasy genre. If you've never read Nancy Collins' Sonja Blue stories, this is sort of the approach that she took. I never really understood why she was marketed as horror, when she should be considered the Godmother of Urban Fantasy.



Jess Nevin's Red Planet For Fate Core


With apologies to the Sisters of Mercy:
Red
Red planet
Red
Red world
Yeah, that was bad. Anyway.

It is unfortunate that we don't see the depth and breadth of the science fiction market these days that we would have seen in bookstores 30 or 40 year ago. Once again we are in a phase where, if it isn't the new shiny and written by someone whose native language isn't one of the standardized forms of English we just don't see it. Russia, and the Soviet Union when it existed, has long been a source of thought provoking genre fiction that celebrated perspectives that we don't see from American or English writers.

The "golden age" of Soviet Science Fiction was a particularly optimistic branch of SF to boot, which I'm sure surprises anyone old enough to have grown up during some portion of the Cold War.

Red Planet is a new World of Adventure for the Fate Core rules, available at the OneBookShelf sites as a Pay What You Want PDF. Written by Jess Nevins of The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana and annotating Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fame, the book is an exploration of the tropes of a nearly forgotten sub-genre of Science Fiction of the 1940s and 1950s from the former Soviet Union.

The PDF isn's a long one, only 64 pages in total, but it has a lot packed into those pages.

The science fiction that is celebrated by Red Planet is particularly pulpy, with echos of the American heroic pulps like Doc Savage, or the space opera of Doc Smith or Flash Gordon. The situations are wild and weird, and often blur the lines between science fiction and fantasy. This approach used to be much more common than it is these days, before demographics and marketing became a part of the creative process of genre fiction.

There was a lot of bad things that happened in the real world under the auspices of the Soviet Union, and Communism, and Red Planet does not sugar coat or ignore them. These aren't Alt-Communists softened up for propaganda purposes. In fact, the setting goes far to show that the Communism of the Soviet Union, and the Capitalism of the United States, lead to war and upheaval in their battle for supremacy. The protagonists of the setting, the nation of the Union of Materialist Republics, are a rebellion against both of these cultural forces. The Materialists were colonists on Mars, the Red Planet of the title.

Once on Mars, these colonists sparked a revolution against both their own Communist oppressors back on Earth and the Capitalist enemies of their oppressors. With their rebellion, these colonists became their Union. Their culture is not only their own, but has also assimilated (relatively peacefully) the native Martian populace. The racial makeup of the Union of Materialist Republics is made up of that mix of humans and Martians. The setting of Red Planet can be viewed as similar to the original Buck Rogers stories, just with less Yellow Menace.

The Red Planet of the setting is a Utopia. So to speak.

If it was a perfect utopia, there probably wouldn't be any place for the types of adventurers that we see in role-playing games. There is going to be friction and conflict between those of the Union, with the various social and cultural factions of the Earth. There is also an extradimensional faction of creatures that are not native to the solar system, or the reality, of the setting. They are two-dimensional beings called the Geometrists. The Geometrists have superior technology to Earth or Mars, as well as psychic abilities beyond anything capable of the people of the solar system.

There is also still "space" for exploration in the solar system, so characters of that type will find plenty to do among the stars of the Red Planet setting.

If you're a fan of pulp science fiction like Flash Gordon, or pulpy science fantasy like Star Wars, there will probably be things in Red Planet that will appeal to you. It is remarkable well fleshed out, considering the short page count, and there is plenty of material to spark adventure in the setting. I am glad to see tabletop role-playing publishers striking out from the safety of traditional fantasy setting and creating worlds that are different and challenging to gamers.  If you haven't checked out Nevin's Red Planet, you really should.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

40K Dawn Of War Comes To Titan Comics


Written by Ryan O’Sullivan (Eisenhorn: Xenos, Turncoat) and illustrated by Daniel Indro (Vikings: Uprising, Doctor Who), the Dawn of War III mini-series will tie-in to the colossal Dawn of War real-time-strategy games, produced by Relic Entertainment with Sega and Games Workshop, in which players command armies of the Space Marines, Orks, and the Eldar to dominate the battlefield!

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War was a critical and commercial hit in 2005, followed by the release of Dawn of War II: Retribution in 2009.

"I've been a fan of Warhammer 40,000 and all of its games for as long as I can remember,” said writer Ryan O'Sullivan. "What I enjoy about the Dawn of War series in particular, other than the ability to purge heretics, is that the games have a decade-long narrative filled with ongoing characters and conflicts. I feel very fortunate to be able to contribute towards such a story, and I hope fans of the previous games will enjoy seeing familiar faces back in action on the pages of the comic."

Titan’s Dawn of War III comic series tells an all-new tale in parallel to that of the video game story, which sees three factions – the Blood Ravens Space Marines, the Eldar, and a fearsome Ork horde – converging on a planet where a weapon of devastating power has been unearthed. .

Titan’s Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III mini-series will be available for preorder in February’s Diamond Previews catalog.




Monday, December 12, 2016

Urban Fantasy Role-Playing And Reading Vertigo's Lucifer


About fifteen years after the fact, I am reading Mike Carey's Lucifer comic that was put out by Vertigo/DC Comics. I picked up the first book of the most recent collected version a couple of months ago. So far I have been a good read, and I will certainly continue the series once I've finished book one.

I don't actually watch the TV show based on the comic, so that wasn't my motivation.

I read Neil Gaiman's Sandman in its entirety (as pretty much every pretentious comic fan of my age group did) as it was coming out. This particular incarnation of the character of Lucifer debuted in issue four of the Sandman comic. In that issue, Dream of the Endless (lead character of the Sandman comic for those who may not have read it) went into Hell to retrieve one of the magical objects that were like the "badges" of his office as the Dream Lord. I won't go into too much detail about that story, because there may be a few readers of this blog who haven't read it yet. I will say that the story ended up with Lucifer abdicating his "job" as the Lord of Hell to become a semi-mortal being.

The Lucifer comic picked up with Lucifer living in Los Angeles and owning a nightclub called Lux.

I think that I expected that Lucifer would be more of a horror comic, like Gaiman's Sandman would often be. But instead it swings like a pendulum between the poles of a horror comic like Sandman was, and more like an Urban Fantasy in the style of Bill Willingham's Fables comic. Actually, I think that the me of now likes it better as an Urban Fantasy story more than the me of 15 years ago, who likely would have preferred it to be more of a horror story.

It is good that we change, and our tastes change with us. It must be a good thing that I am reading this now, because I am more prepared for it than I would have been when it first came out.

As a role-player, I can see this comic influencing a campaign that is in the same space as one also inspired by Gaiman's Sandman and, of course, his breakthrough novel American Gods (which I need to read again before the television show for that starts out next year). Comics are an appropriate place to explore modern mythologies in the mode of Carey's Lucifer or Gaiman's Sandman comics because comic book super-heroes are pretty much our modern American mythology.

Comics and mythology always brings me to one of my favorite songs by the Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip:


I think that the relevance of the song is on an uptick again.

The stories of comics like Lucifer and Sandman exist in our mythic American subconsciousness. This is also where I think a lot of role-playing game campaigns exist as well. These are stories of gods and monsters, the heroes that face both and the mortal beings who ultimately have to deal with all of these things.

I am trying to tie all of this together because, in the next month or so I am going to be starting up a new campaign with some people that I have gamed with for a while, and others that I have never gamed with before. They're voting on what sort of game they want me to run, and one of the choices is an Urban Fantasy game. Whenever I want to run an urban fantasy game, I pull out my old Sandman trade collections and I dig out my CD of Fully Completely by The Tragically Hip and I start to pull together a world that is inspired by the world outside of our windows, but at the same time tied into the mythic undercurrents of our world.

I know. Horribly pretentious, isn't it?

As a GM, my approach to creating a campaign is to think out what I want the world to be like. Imagine who the important characters who aren't the characters will be. Work out what some of the big stories that are going on in this world. Then we plunk the player's characters down into the middle of things, see how they react to the world and what direction we would need to take things into once the irresistible object meets the immovable force. That is where the fun of a campaign comes up for me, as a GM. I don't like to craft the stories of what I want to happen in the world, because I think that takes the choice away from the players, away from their characters, and turns the game more into a novel than the share experience of a role-playing game. Every character in a world should have a story, but those stories should never overwhelm what might happen once the characters exist.

So, hopefully, the players will pick the Urban Fantasy game. We'll see what happens, whichever campaign it ends up being, I will talk about it here over time.



Saturday, December 10, 2016

Keeping Up With The Comics


Some days it just seems like the pile of comics at my bedside just gets taller. Maybe I just need help reading through it.



Friday, December 09, 2016

Dorkland Rumblings


I've decided to give the world of online newsletters a shot. Starting sometime during or after the holidays, I will start up Dorkland Rumblings, which will be more or less random things that I want to get out, but don't want to do a full blog post, or put them out onto social media.

Don't expect a lot of inbox clutter from this list, we will probably all be "lucky" if I remember to use it once a month. It will, however, contain adult content (most likely adult language), so if that sort of thing bothers you you might not want to join it. The newsletter will likely also be more plug heavy than other sources, as it will be the place that I will more actively talk about what I'm reading, listening to, etc.

There will also be a box on the sidebar that will allow people to join at any time. I hope that some of you will give it a try.




All Time Comics From Fantagraphics


Coming next year from Fantagraphics has to be the most interesting super-hero work in a long time. Combining some of the best veteran and newer talents in comics, All Time Comics is promising to be the biggest mind-bender in comics for 2017.
From Fantagraphics, the publisher of the world's greatest cartoonists, comes ALL TIME COMICS, a shared superhero universe featuring the world’s most fanta*stic heroes. Atlas! Blind Justice! Bullwhip! Crime Destroyer! Each issue of ALL TIME COMICS features a mash up of new cartoonists and classic comic book creators collaborating with writer Josh Bayer to unleash superhero stories that no other publisher would dare to publish: a stunning series of six comic books featuring startling stand alone, interconnected adventures chock full of retro crime fighting.
These comics look to be Fletcher Hanks levels of awesomeness, and I am looking forward to see them come out.



ALL TIME COMICS: CRIME DESTROYER #1
Josh Bayer (story); Herb Trimpe (pencils); Ben Marra (inks); Jim Rugg (cover) + Johnny Ryan (cover); MARCH 2017

ALL TIME COMICS: BULLWHIP #1
Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (pencils); Al Milgrom (inks); Das Pastoras (cover) + Tony Millionaire (cover); APRIL 2017

ALL TIME COMICS: ATLAS #1
Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (story, pencils, inks); Das Pastoras (cover); MAY 2017

ALL TIME COMICS: BLIND JUSTICE #1
Josh Bayer (story and pencils); Rick Buckler (pencils); Al Milgrom (inks); Victor Martinez (cover); JUNE 2017

ALL TIME COMICS: CRIME DESTROYER #2
Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (story, pencils, inks); Das Pastoras (cover); JULY 2017

ALL TIME COMICS: BLIND JUSTICE #2
Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (story); Noah Van Sciver (pencils); Al Milgrom (inks); Das Pastoras (cover); AUGUST 2017



IDW 40% Off Sale On D&D Comics On DriveThruComics


The old and new Dungeons & Dragons comics are available for pretty good prices at a holiday sale at DriveThruComics. There's a bunch of collections and single issues that are part of the sale.

This includes classic AD&D comics originally published by DC Comics back in the day.


As well as the newer Legends of Baldur's Gate comics written by Jim Zub.


While not 40% off, there's also sales on the IDW Hasbro comics at DriveThruComics, including G.I. Joe and Transformers stuff. Check it all out!



Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Southern Poverty Law Center RPG Charity Bundle

Note: This bundle has ended and the links to it have been removed.

There's a charity bundle over at the OneBookShelf sites to help raise some money for the Southern Poverty Law Center. As disclosure, Battlefield Press is one of the participants in the bundle.

Edit: I linked to the SPLC donation page, rather than the Bundle. Here's the link to the charity bundle.

From the Southern Poverty Law Center's website:
In the decades since its founding, the SPLC shut down some of the nation’s most violent white supremacist groups by winning crushing, multimillion-dollar jury verdicts on behalf of their victims. It dismantled vestiges of Jim Crow, reformed juvenile justice practices, shattered barriers to equality for women, children, the LGBT community and the disabled, protected low-wage immigrant workers from exploitation, and more.
It is a charity that is worth helping out. Find out more about them on their website.