Thursday, March 31, 2011

A to Z Blog Challenge

And now for something a little different...

I haven't been entirely happy with my output for the blog as of late.  Granted, that's a self-imposed standard as to how much I should be writing, but it bugs me nonetheless if I feel I'm 'slacking off' in terms of posting.  However, instead of simply whining about it (which I've been called on, and therefore will endeavor not to do), I want to take a different approach.

And so, I'm joining the A to Z April blog challenge.  The idea is simple:  For every day in April (not counting Sundays), I will post something following a certain theme, starting with something based around the letter A on April 1, and work my way up to Z at the end of the month.

This will be in addition to the normal stuff I try to write here (the Trollslayers stuff, the Rush reviews, the comic book reviews,etc).  Hopefully, I will still be able to get that sort of thing out at a reasonable pace.

Because it's been something that's been drawing my attention of late, my personal theme will be based around the Villains & Vigilantes superhero RPG.  Specifically, I'll be posting a total of 26 NPC characters, ranging from A to Z.

Let's see if I can do this...

Trollslayers - Combat Modifiers (part 1)

A base roll of 8+ on 2d  (doubles re-rolling and adding) is required to hit someone in combat.

Warriors and Paragons add +1 to all combat attacks.

The level of an appropriate weapon talent is also added to the attack roll.


Crouching: -1 to attack roll, +1 DEF vs ranged attacks, move at 1/2 normal speed

Kneeling/Sitting: -1 to attack, -1 DEF vs melee attacks, +1 DEF vs ranged attacks

Crawling:  -2 DEF vs melee attacks, +2 DEF vs ranged attacks, maximum move per round is MOVE score in feet

Prone: -2 to melee attacks, can not attempt most ranged attacks (except for using crossbows, then +1 to hit), -2 DEF vs melee attacks, +2 DEF vs ranged attacks


1/4 of body covered: +1 DEF vs ranged attacks

1/2 of body covered: +2 DEF vs ranged attacks

3/4 of body covered: +3 DEF vs ranged attacks

9/10 of body covered: +4 DEF vs ranged attacks

Someone in front of target (that you don't want to hit): +2 DEF vs ranged attacks

Someone to side of target (that you don't want to hit): +1 DEF vs ranged attacks


Light obscurement (fog in melee, moderate darkness, light foliage): +1 DEF

Moderate obscurement (fog (ranged attacks), near-total darkness, dense foliage): +2 DEF

Heavy obscurement (pitch black darkness, defender is invisible): +4 DEF

Target Size

A few inches high/long (small bird, frog, archer's bullseye): +3 DEF

About a foot high/long (small dog, cat, human head): +2 DEF

2-3 feet high/long (adult human limb, medium dog) +1 DEF

Twice human size: -1 DEF

Around 15-20 feet tall: -2 DEF

Holy crap, that sucker's ginormous: -3 DEF

(various combat maneuvers and other modifiers to follow)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Capsule reviews: Comics from 3/23

Legion of Super-Heroes #11 (DC, $2.99, Paul Levitz, Daniel HDR, Wayne Faucher) - Huh, I had expected the Durlan storyline from last issue to still be going this issue, but re-reading it I now see that it had something of a resolution.  Kind of a weak one, to be honest, but I'll take it, because that means that said previous story doesn't get to drag on on for yet another issue, and that we have a new story-arc instead.

Which is good, because this issue is definitely a step in the right direction.  Picking up from the recent LSV one-shot, the issue leads in with several Legionnaires working to capture some of the Takron-Galtos escapees, then jumps to several subplots (Dawnstar's absence, the return of Star Boy, Mon-El's distant leadership, and the mystery of what has happened to Colu).  The highlight of the issue is an extended battle between Timber Wolf and Sun Emperor, which is handled very well.

This is what I've been hoping for in a Levitz-written LSH book, and he finally delivers.  The mix of the main story and the subplots, and the strong characterization, all hit the right notes. My only complaint is that the art, while certainly serviceable, is a slight step down from what Cinar was doing on the previous issues.  That's a minor complaint, however, and I'm just glad that Levitz finally seems to be hitting his stride.

Fables #103 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99, Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham) - Part two of the current storyline, where the Fables make their preparations for a big superhero battle against Mister Dark.  There's not a lot to be said here without going into actual spoilers, so suffice to say that Pinocchio and Ozma have very different ideas regarding who makes the team, and who fails to make the cut.  Meanwhile, Geppetto schemes, Nurse Spratt gets a visitor, and the North Wind goes to inform Bigby regarding his plans for Ghost.  Not exactly a good jumping-in issue, but it does what Fables has consistently done very well for the better part of a decade, and that's tell an engaging and clever story in a serial form.  If you aren't picking up Fables, well... why not?

Neonomicon #4 (of 4) (Avatar, $3.99, Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows) - The conclusion to the storyline, and simply put Moore does not disappoint.  While not as visually disturbing as previous issues, the actual upshot to the story is pretty much as disturbing as anything Moore's ever written.  If anything, the understated manner in which Brears' predicament is shown only strengthens the horror of it.  It makes perfect sense given what has been set up in previous issues, is fully consistent with its Lovecraft trappings, and is still pretty much a sucker-punch to the gut when you actually read it.

"I feel good.  I feel good about myself, about all this."  That still gives me shivers, even after having re-read it a few times.

Not for the squeamish, obviously, but for those who want a fresh take on how the Lovecraft mythos can be interpreted through a modern lens, or for those who just appreciate a good horror story, if you haven't already been reading this, then be sure to pick it up when the trade paperback comes out.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wow, I Suck

Almost a week without any posts.  Have no less than four posts partially written, but haven't been able to pull the trigger on any of them, so to speak.

To distract you, here are some random photos snatched from the hard drive (click to enlarge, of course):

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Capsule reviews: Comics from 3/16

Adventure Comics #524 (DC, $2.99, Paul Levitz, Phil Jimenez) – Part two of the current Legion Academy storyline. Getting grounded after last issue's fiasco, Chemical Kid decides to head back to his homeworld (“borrowing” an old Legion cruiser along the way) to find out why his credit line has been cut off, with several other trainees in tow. Along the way they find out his homestead has been attacked, an old Legion foe shows up, and we end up on a cliffhanger, with the trainees in dire peril.

Last issue concentrated mainly on Glorith, but this time around we get to see some of the other of the Legion trainees given a bit of attention, which is nice. Levitz's story moves along at a nice pace (better than the main Legion title does, to be honest), and Jimenez's art continues to shine, with his ability to handle character designs, background settings, and action scenes all with equal aplomb. This is a fun romp, with a good mix of superheroics and science fiction, the way a good Legion-based story should be.

The Spirit #12 (DC, $2.99, David Hine, Moritat) - Part two of the Clockwork Killer story. This issue jumps back and forth in time, as the aforementioned killer attempts to finish off both Dolan and the Spirit, while the gang war between Zeev and the Octopus heats up. Our killer finds a complication he did not anticipate, which promises to come to a head as the storyline escalates. Hine and Moritat are doing fine work here, and it's a damned shame that this title seems to be due for cancellation.

The Spider #1 (Moonstone, $2.99, Martin Powell, Pablo Marcos, Gary Phillips, Roberto Castro) - The first issue of a new series concentrating on one of the more interesting of the classic pulp heroes, the Spider. We come in on the tail end of the story, with Spider's paramour Nita Van Sloan being threatened by a rather gruesome menace, and the Spider wreaking bloody havoc on those who would threaten her.

This story has several nice touches to it, the least of which not being that Nita is thankfully shown to be highly capable, and not just a helpless captive to be rescued by the hero. The art by Marcos is effective, conveying both the action scenes and the 'weird menace' aspects fairly well. The coloring by Joe Piscopo deserves special mention; his use of primarily blacks, grays and red really help to set the mood for the story. My only complaint is that the story feels a bit rushed; I'm not normally one to complain about a comic book story being told in a 'compressed' manner, but here I can't help but think that this story would flow a bit smoother if it had just a few more pages to work with.

The backup story features Operator 5, a character I'm not as familiar with. We get to see the Operator infiltrate a fascist organization known as the Nordic Cross. The Cross has resources that one might not expect, leaving out hero in dire straits as the issue ends on a cliffhanger. Not having to wrap everything up in this issue, Phillips' story has better pacing than the Spider story does, while Castro's art does a nice job of conveying the pre-war Depression era.

Minor quibbles aside, this is a good debut issue. Recommended for any pulp fans, or for fans of those who don't mind their action-adventure stories being a bit over the top.

The Spider: Burning Lead For The Walking Dead (Moonstone, $7.99, Mark Wheatley) - A one-shot 64-page graphic novel in black and white, which for some reason didn't make it to my store last week. Before I go any further, can I just say that “Burning Lead for the Walking Dead” is quite possibly the coolest title for a comic book story ever.

Mark Wheatley isn't exactly a powerhouse name in the comics industry, but I've been aware of his work since the days of Mars and Blood of the Innocent back in the mid-80's, and (only slightly later) his work on The Black Hood for DC's Impact imprint back in the early 90's. His art style isn't going to appeal to everyone, but I think it suits the story here quite well.

Originally printed in Titanic Tales from Insight Studios back in the late 90's, the art has been reworked slightly so as to be more consistent with Moonstone's other recent Spider stories. For anyone familiar with the Spider, Wheatley's story is very much in the classic Norvell Page mode. Fast paced, with a suitably horrific and over-the-top villain, a prose version of this story would not have been terribly out of place in the original Spider pulp magazine, back in the 30's. Wheatley never lets the story drag, and carries the action through with a manic intensity.

My only real complaint is that Nita and Ram Singh are somewhat underused in this story. The former is mostly used as a hostage to be threatened, and the latter isn't used much at all. This is something of a shame, as these are two of the more intriguing supporting characters in all of the pulps. Still, that's a minor hindrance, and overall the story is quite enjoyable, faithful to its pulp roots, while working well as a modern piece of comic book storytelling. Highly recommended.

We've lost another one

Grognardia is reporting that classic D&D artist Jim Roslof has passed away.  Although his name wasn't as big as Gygax or Arneson, it's still a sad day from long-time D&D players.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I've got your 'Hot Elf Chick' right here, pal

There's been a recent... thing? meme? going round certain gaming blogs regarding posting images of 'hot elf chicks' as a ploy to increase traffic to their websites.

What the hell, I'll play:

See, she's obviously an elf, because why else would she be green?  And since she's being set on fire, that means she's hot, and... crap, I'm not doing this right, am I?

Original source of image

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Trollslayers - Initiative

(breaking up all the combat parts into smaller sections to preserve my sanity - also, I had intended to do character advancement at some point shortly, but I think I'll hold off on that until after I get the bulk of combat out of the way)

A combat round is six seconds long.

Initiative is determined as follows:

1) Actions are declared.
2) Everyone rolls one die, and adds their DEX modifier. This may be further modified by certain environmental factors (see below). Higher is better.
3) Characters move, in reverse order of Initiative. After everyone moves, characters may alter their facing, in the same order.
4) Melee and missile attacks are determined, highest Initiative going first.
5) If a character has more than one attack per round, they occur now. If more than one character is doing this, use the same Initiative order.
6) Spell effects go off.

A few modifiers for determining Initiative:

Attacking from higher ground gives a +1 modifier (melee attacks only). Usually this indicates terrain, but attacking someone on foot from horseback also qualifies.

Attacking with a weapon that was not ready in hand gives a -2 penalty. This includes firing a bow or crossbow the same round the arrow/bolt is drawn. If the weapon is a dagger, the penalty is only -1.

Many weapons have a -1 penalty if it had been used to attack the previous round. This usually includes hafted weapons, and is noted on the weapons table.

Anyone stunned during the previous round suffers a -1 penalty.

Slippery or uneven footing gives a -2 penalty.

If the character is somehow physically hindered (trying to climb a wall, wading through deep water, covered in jungle vines, etc), they receive a -4 penalty.

Someone crouching or kneeling suffers a -1 penalty in melee combat. Someone lying prone suffers a -3 penalty, and also cannot attempt most missile attacks (except for using the crossbow, which suffers no penalty for this).

Actions occurring during the same Initiative score are considered to be simultaneous.

Characters can take a Fast Reflexes talent to add to their Initiative score.

Held Actions - A character can 'hold' or delay an action, and then trigger that action at a later time. This includes holding an action from a previous round. The held action can be triggered at pretty much any time, including during an opponent's movement phase.

Free Attacks - When a character is closing into melee range against an opponent, if one of the combatants has a weapon with a significant reach advantage compared to their opponent (i.e. sword vs dagger, spear vs sword), that characters gets a free attack, in addition to any other attacks they may receive that round.  This is determined during the movement phase. This also applies to those who try to run past enemy characters without engaging them.

Example:  Ralph the would-be hero is facing a necromancer, who has a half-dozen spear-wielding skeletons in front of him for protection.  Ralph wins the Initiative, and tries to charge through the skeletons to get to the necromancer, so as to kill him as quickly as possible.  All of the skeletons who are within spear range of Ralph's path of movement get a free attack against him; the GM rules that four of the six can do so.  Unless Ralph gets lucky, he may well soon be joining the undead skeleton brigade.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Capsule reviews: Comics from 3/9

Legion of Super-Villains #1 (one-shot) (DC, $4.99, Paul Levitz, Francis Portela) - A classic staple of the Legion stories returns, this time spearheaded by Saturn Queen, who has gotten a boost to her telepathic powers.  The double-sized issue shows her recruiting villains new and old, and undertaking a new cause to destroy key cornerstones of the DC Universe with a religious fervor.  Given that this is the 31st century, certain elements that might be considered 'safe' in a modern day story just might legitimately threatened (one of the three targets that Saturn Queen seeks to destroy is indeed demolished).

This is just a prelude to the next story arc in the main Legion book, but it's a good one, selling SQ as a genuinely dangerous and bloodthirsty foe.  Much like the recent Annual, Levitz's writing is sharper here than it is in the main book; despite the fact that the Legion (the heroic one, that is) only shows up for a few pages, the pacing helps to carry the story and set up the inevitable conflict between the two Legions.  Portela does a good job with the art, giving the story the sense of scope it needs.  If you're a Legion fan, don't make the mistake of skipping this one.

Doc Savage #12 (DC, $2.99, Ivan Brandon, Brian Azzarello, Nic Klein) - Well, at least this story arc is over.  It's better than the first story arc, to be certain, but that's not setting the bar very high.  There's nothing overly wrong with the plot or characterization; it's just that the story isn't terribly exciting (having drug on as long as it has certainly didn't help).  Rumors of the book's cancellation linger (as well as the entire line getting axed), but I'm still cautiously optimistic about J.G. Jones arrival on the book next issue.

Cinderella: Fables Are Forever #2 (of 6) (DC/Vertigo, $2.99, Chris Roberson, Shawn McManus) - The latest tale of Fabletown's master spy continues, as we see her in flashbacks cross paths with her current foe Silverslipper, while preparing for a confrontation with her in the modern day.  Roberson does a good job of mixing classic spy tropes with the fantasy world of Fables, and writes the title character in an entertaining and consistent manner.  The art by McManus also does a good job of carrying the story.  This issue is primarily a mixture of build-up and exposition, but it's entertaining while doing so.  Another solid issue, in what looks to be another fun genre-bending romp.

Conan: Road Of Kings #3 (Dark Horse, $3.50, Roy Thomas, Mike Hawthorne) - After last issue's somewhat disappointing effort, this issue fortunately gets right back into gear.  Conan encounters a past compatriot, his current paramour is kidnapped, villains plot and scheme, and we have a fair amount of mayhem thrown in for good measure.  Thomas's writing is tighter here than in the previous issue, and Hawthorne's art, while still not my first choice for this story, is functional.  I'm glad that last issue's dip in quality doesn't appear to be the norm, but was rather only a temporary aberration.

Shockrockets: We Have Ignition (Dark Horse, $14.95, Kurt Busiek, Stuart Immonen) - Picked this up on sale, and I'm glad I did.  This is a collection of the six-issue mini-series that Busiek and Immonen did for Image back in 2000 for their short-lived 'Gorilla Comics' imprint. The story is set in the latter half of the 21st century, with the Earth rebuilding after a war with an alien race.  Our hero Alejandro Cruz accidentally falls in with the Shockrockets, an elite squadron of pilots flying high-tech aerial fighter craft, based on technology taken from the alien invaders.  The Shockrockets are currently waging a series of battles against one of Earth's most respected generals during the war, now gone rogue and desiring his own kingdom.

In some ways this feels like the sort of classic science fiction that Robert Heinlein and Andre Norton used to write about a half-century ago.  Alejandro's status as an outsider make it difficult for him to be accepted among the Shockrockets, yet it is that same quality that helps them when they are facing their darkest hour.  That said, Busiek's story certainly doesn't feel dated; the characterization, world-building, and tight plotting all mix together wonderfully. There's a bit of a cliffhanger at the end, after the main storyline is resolved, which no doubt would have been followed through on if the series had continued to be published.  That doesn't really detract from the main story, though, so it's a minor complaint at most. As for the art... well, if you're not already familiar with Immonen's artwork, suffice to say that this is a beautiful book.  Highly recommended.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Trollslayers - Shields & Armor

Shield                  STR      DEX      DV      DEF      ENC    Cost    

Buckler                    5           8          2        +1          1         2       
Shield, small             9           9          3        +2          2         4
Shield, medium        12         10          4        +3          3         8         
Shield, large            14          11         5        +4          4        12

Shileds are used one-handed, and if used as weapons (aka a 'shield bash'), the attack type is Blunt.  If charging an enemy while attempting a shield bash, 2/3 of the attacker's current MOVE score can be added to the user's STR for determining damage, up to double the user's current STR.  

Unlike melee weapons, the DEF bonus is also figured against missile attacks.  

Bucklers can be worn strapped to the arm, allowing the user to handle a weapon in that hand, but if this is done the DEF bonus does not apply. 

If being attacked by something that has a wide area affect (dragon's breath, a rain of rocks from above, etc), the GM may opt to allow adding the DEF bonus to the AR of any armor worn (in such an instance, a med shield worn with chain armor would provide a total AR of 8, for example).    

Armor                  STR      DEX       AR        DEF      ENC    Cost      

Cloth                       3             -       1 (C)          -          1            1
Leather                    5           -1       2 (C,B)     +1          2            5
Brigadine                 7           -2       3 (C.B)     +2           3          20
Banded                    9           -3      4 (C,B)      +2           4          40
Chain                      12          -4      5 (C)         +2          6          65
Plate                       16          -5      6 (C,B,P)   +3         10        200

The DEX number listed is not a minimum, but rather the penalty to the user's DEX score for wearing the armor (similar to the DEX penalty for being Encumbered).  This penalty is decreased by one for Warriors and Paragons, and increased by one for Magicians and Commoners who lack combat training.  A talent in Armor can be taken, negating one point of the penalty for each level of said talent.  

The AR is the Armor Rating, showing how much damage the armor absorbs, and the attack types the armor is best against.  If being attacked by an attack type that the armor is not designed to handle, the AR number is halved (round down).  If it is not clear whether or not the armor should provide full protection against an unusual attack, assume full AR for the armor.  

The DEF number represents the armor's ability to deflect (instead of absorb) incoming attacks; if being attacked by an attack type the armor is not designed to defend against, the DEF bonus is halved (round down).

Friday, March 11, 2011

C'mon, you gotta have standards

I know I've been relatively quiet of late.  This week has been rather busy on multiple levels, which doesn't keep me from feeling like a slacker for not posting that much.  I should get back into the groove relatively soon (currently working on how I want to handle shields and armor in Trollslayers), but until then, here's a little something to amuse and distract you...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I swiped this image from Warren Ellis...

...knowing that I would only have one chance to post it.  Well, today's the day (click to enlarge):

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Capsule reviews: Comics from 3/2

Jonah Hex #65 (DC, $2.99, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jordi Bernet) - Hex finds himself in the middle of a blizzard, and takes refuge with a stranger who is trying to make a life of his own as a cattleman out in the wilderness.  As Hex is healing from his injuries, the two must face the elements, a pack of deadly wolves, and a dangerous group of gunmen.  In the end, we learn why Hex was in the area in the first place, and that he is not incapable of mercy and forgiveness.

Once again, the story is solid and well-told, and I'm appreciative that Gray and Palmiotti are telling the majority of their stories here in single issues, something that unfortunately runs contrary to the rest of the industry these days.  Bernet's art has a rough quality to it, and won't appeal to superhero fans who like their artwork superslick and photo-realistic, but it's growing on me over time.  It doesn't hurt that his art is somewhat reminiscent of Joe Kubert.  Once again, this series is highly recommended.

First Wave #6 (of 6) (DC, $3.99, Brian Azzarello, Rags Morales) - The conclusion of the mini-series of DC's pulp imprint.  It ends decently enough, with some nice action pieces, but nothing truly spectacular.  This mini was supposed to spin off into some pulpified versions of some of DC's characters that had appeared here, such as Rima the Jungle Girl and the Blackhawks.  Unfortunately, due to long delays and low sales, that isn't going to be the case.

Which is a shame, because I would have like to have seen those books.  Sadly, pulp is something of a hard sell in the comics these days - for mainstream superhero fans the characters usually aren't superhero-y enough, and for indy fans they're a little too superhero-y. Throw in the previously mentioned delays, and the #3.99 cover price, and it's no real surprise that the entire line is apparently up for cancellation.

As for the comic itself, this issue is better than the previous ones.  Azzarello's story, which had dragged and meandered a bit previously, wraps up everything nicely.  Morales' art is the main selling point here; this isn't his strongest work, but his pencils and layouts are clear and engaging.  For those who like pulp-related stuff, if this gets collected in trade format, it's worth picking if you had bypassed the series in its monthly format, warts and all.

Joe The Barbarian #8 (of 8) (DC/Vertigo, $3.99, Grant Morrison, Sean Murphy) - Given that the final issue of this story had been delayed quite a bit, I went back to re-read the previous issues to refresh myself on what was happening.  That was probably just as well, as this is a series that reads better in one setting than it does in serialized format.

In this oversized (40 pages) issue, we get proper conclusions for the two storylines that have been running through the story, concerning both Joe's fantasy world and the normal, mundane world.  The question of whether the fantasy world is or isn't real is left somewhat vague, but I think that people harping on the lack of clear answers in that regard are missing the point.  Joe has been dealing with the specter of death throughout the story, and the lessons he has learned in the fantasy world, hallucination or not, have meaning in the 'real' world as well.

Morrison's writing isn't going to be to everyone's taste, but most people already know that going in.  The real standout here is Sean Murphy's art.  Murphy takes a story where things are admittedly not completely clear on the surface, and illustrates it beautifully.  Both Joe's mundane and fantasy worlds are clearly defined, and done so in a way that interlinks the two, while at the same time giving each of them their own unique feel.  If you haven't been reading this already, this is definitely one to pick up when it comes out in trade format.

Powers #7 (Marvel/Icon, $3.99, Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Avon Oeming) - This is apparently the week for long-delayed issues to show up - in addition to First Wave and Joe The Barbarian, we get a new issue of Powers after I don't know how many months.  This is being advertised as the beginning of a new story-arc, but it really picks up on something that was brought up in the previous issue; the death of a god.

The crux of the story, of course, is just how Walker and Sunshine have to go about the business of investigating and interrogating a pantheon of self-styled 'gods'.  Which is, of course, even more difficult than dealing with the usual superheroes and supervillains that they have to deal with.  Are these beings really deities, or are they merely super-powered types with an even larger-than-normal ego?

Thrown into this mix is the return of Deena Pilgrim, who is now working for the feds, and gets to snark at her replacement Enki Sunshine.  If you can't see how that could be fun, clearly you're not familiar with Deena.  Her appearance is really the high point of the issue.

This issue is mostly talking-heads stuff, but as per usual Oeming makes it work.  The only real weak spot here is the various interrogations/questionings; normally, Bendis handles this sort of thing fairly well, but here it drags a bit at times.  Still, it's a good story, with an appropriately bloody cliffhanger, and promises to be an engaging storyline, dealing with the topic at hand as only Powers can.  I only hope we don't have to wait another half a year to get the next issue (seriously, Bendis, dial back on that Avengers stuff and concentrate on what you're really good at).

Oh, I suppose I should mention that this is another oversized issue (again, 40 pages).  Besides the longer than normal installment of the main story, the the extended text pages are cut back to a single page, in lieu of an 8-page preview of Takio, an upcoming all-ages graphic novel dealing with two squabbling sisters who gain superpowers and decide to become superheroes.

Doorways #4 (of 4) (IDW, $3.99, George R.R. Martin, Stefano Martino) - The conclusion of the mini-series, adapting the original proposed TV pilot from the early 90's.  As one might expect from a story based on a TV pilot, while there is a degree of resolution to the immediate story, not everything is wrapped up neatly, and it is left open enough to allow for future storylines to be told.  From a comic book standpoint this works relatively well; if the sales here are good enough, there's no reason why we might not see future mini-series with these characters.

Martins' plot and characters continue to entertain, and Martino's art does everything it's supposed to.  If you haven't been picking this up, and if you like alternate-reality stories, then by all means pick this up when it comes out in collected trade format.  Hopefully, the sales on this will encourage IDW to publish more tales of Thomas and Cat in the future.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Trollslayers - Missile Weapons

(continued from the Melee Weapons post)

Weapon               Type     Hand      STR      DEX      DV      Range    ENC    Cost  Notes

Bow, short               P           2           9         10          4          360         2        12    H, I, J
Bow, medium           P           2          12        11          6          540         3        20      H, J
Bow, long                P           2          14        12           9         720         3        35       H, J
Bow, great               P           2          17        13         12         900         4        60      H, J 
Crossbow, light         P          2       7/8/13        8          7          600         3        40      I, K
Crossbow, medium   P          2       8/12/17      9          11        750         4        50      K
Crossbow, heavy     P           2       9/14/22     10         16        900          5        75     K
Dagger, thrown        C           1          5           8        x1/3        x3           1         3      I
Hand Axe, thrown    C           1          11          9        x1/2         x5           2         3      I    
Rock, thrown           B           1            5         8        x1/4         x6            1         -      I
Sling                         B           1          5        10       x2/5        x20          1         1      H, I, J
Spear, thrown           P           1          12        12       x3/5         x4           2         2     

Missile weapons provide no DEF bonus.

If the DV listed is a multiplier, that multiplier is based off of STR, as with melee weapons. Bows and crossbows have a set base DV, dependent on the 'pull' of the weapon.

Range is listed in feet.  If a multiplier is give, that number is multiplied by STR to determine the weapon's range.  Point Blank range is 1/10 the maximum range, and gives a +1 to hit. Short Range is from 1/10 to 1/4 the maximum range, and gives no modifier.  Medium Range is from 1/4 to 1/2 the maximum range, and is -1 to hit.  Long Range is from 1/2 to 3/4 maximum range, and gives a -2 penalty to hit.  Extra  Long Range is from 3/4 maximum range to the maximum range, and is -3 to hit.


H - if the user does not have a talent with this weapon, an extra -1 penalty to hit is incurred.  

I - may be used from horseback.

J - normally takes one round to reload; someone with a talent with this weapon can attack the same round the arrow is nocked at a -1 penalty.

K - the first STR required score is simply the minimum STR needed to use the weapon without penalty.  The second score is the STR needed to reload the weapon using mechanical aids; this normally takes four rounds.  The final number is the STR needed to reload the weapon manually, which takes one round.

Occasionally, real world

Will eventually get back to posting, but this week has been a busy one.  A large part of it has been dealing with my wife's car accident - she's fine, just having to deal with all the insurance bullshit.

On a brighter note, we went to see Porgy & Bess by the Atlanta Opera last night:

Which was awesome.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review: "Permanent Waves"

Coming off the success of Hemispheres, Rush was ready to switch gears a bit.  Their new album, Permanent Waves, was released on January 1 of 1980, perhaps indicative of a new beginning for the band.  

(The album cover is unique in that it is the only Rush album to have a band member on the cover, albeit not recognizably so - that's Neil Peart in the background, waving next to the sign)

This is one of the band's many transitional albums, as they shift from one musical style to another.  There's still a strong prog-rock feel to the album, including two longer pieces, but the shorter pieces have more of a hard rock feel to them, even though synthesizers playing a larger role on this album than previous ones.   The natural response from many prog fans is that this is when the band began to 'sell out', but it's probably more fair to say that, as the group's musical and lyrical prowess continued to improve, their ability to craft catchy-yet-engaging singles had also improved.  It's not that the shorter pieces have been dumbed down in any way, but rather that the band was developing the ability to make musically complex and multi-layered pieces that were nonetheless more accessible to a wider audience.  The album's first track, 'The Spirit Of Radio', received a good amount of airplay on album format stations, and along with 'Freewill' would remain classic rock staples to this day.

It wasn't just the musical side of the band that was evolving.  Starting with this album, Peart would mostly abandon using fantasy and science-fiction motifs for his lyrics, instead moving toward a more philosophical approach.  The albums's two longer pieces, 'Jacob's Ladder' and 'Natural Science', both employ a science-as-metaphor technique, something Peart would periodically go back to on later albums.  Also, Geddy Lee lowered his vocals a bit, helping to make their songs a little more accessible to the general listening public.

This is another extremely strong album, one that became a huge seller for the band - it would reach #4 on the US album charts, and eventually go Platinum.  The band were long past their initial growing pains, and were willing to move beyond the confines of the prog-rock ghetto, all the while retaining their own unique musical style.  Permanent Waves is considered a classic by most Rush fans, and for good reason - although sometimes it is overshadowed by what was to follow.