Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vintage Russian Combat Snowmobiles

This is just one of many such photos and illustrations at the English Russia blog that demonstrate the wild and wacky world of combat snowmobiles as only the Russian Army could have done it. Someone needs to stat these things up. Think of the impact a set of these on the miniatures table would have, under the proper conditions, of course...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Strange Trails

Strange Trails by Trey Causey is now available for free download over at Trey's incredible blog From The Sorcerer's Skull.  This is a teaser-booklet for the much anticipated Weird Adventures book that Trey is working away on night and day. This is a two-fisted adventure into weird science and freakish sorcery along the lines of the great old Pulps like The Spider, Doc Savage, and their illustrious ilk--with a shot of Film Noir--combined with a bit of Hodgson's Carnacki and all those other occult detectives thrown in for good measure...like a questionable cocktail in the kind of vaguely disreputable gin-joints that you only find in a fever-dream, and that doesn't even begin to do the setting or the blog justice. What Trey is doing transcends the limitations of derivation and pastiche--it is fresh, new and unique stuff that is growing up and out of the inspirational clutter and debris of what has gone before to unveil and reveal something amazing that has a voice and an identity all its own. It's fun. It's cool. It's like nothing else out there. Go download a copy and see for yourself.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Artistic Inspirations: Francisco Goya

nom, nom, nom...
Francisco de Goya, Saturno devorando a su hijo (1819-1823)

Saturn Devouring His Son--from The Black Paintings,
Francisco de Goya [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Francisco Goya is an amazing artist, his work remains incredibly moving, poignant and impactful in ways that most other artists only dream of accomplishing. Goya's work transformed from the socially acceptable art-whoredom of doing portraits for wealthy patrons, to breaking the unspoken rules and doing etchings and drawings and even full paintings of peasants, common folk, and un-pretty people. He also had a raging social conscience and was personally appalled by the insanity and excesses of the French who invaded Spain under Napolean. The brutality, venality, and ferocious eruption of meaningless violence and pointless bloodshed outraged him and he produced a series of etchings as an utter and pointed condemnation of such madness. This series, the Disasters of War, took Goya's life-long artistic knife-fight with the forces of superstition, hypocrisy, ignorance and mindless violence to a whole new level and is every bit as important and impactful as Picasso's Guernica, perhaps moreso, as Goya had to contend with idiot kings, vengeful aristocrats and the Inquisition, while Picasso had fascists and Nazis to worry about. Hmmm. Maybe there's something about facing off against tyranny and oppression that empowers artists? An interesting notion to investigate further in light of the intimate connection between art and sorcery in Riskail.

The Disasters of War is all well and good, but you're probably more familiar with Goya's so-called Black Paintings. The image of Saturn up above, devouring his son like a bit of beef jerky, is one of these weird, creepy and quite frankly macabre paintings. First we'll give you three decent links so that you can go take a look at the Black Paintings. A picture being worth a thousand words, this is roughly 14,000 words worth of description that is best handled by actually seeing the paintings for yourself.

They are rather intriguing, at least to art-nerds like us. Truly if there was only one classic painting that we could use to sum-up Zalchis in a nutshell, it would be this one.
Some (3) Links For The Black Paintings

Wikipedia has some amazingly nice versions of the paintings that you can use on your own site or blog, and they manage to go into some decent detail about the Black Paintings without getting all boring and art-schooly on you, so you might even enjoy reading the entry.

Artchive will give you an online Video Tour of the Black Paintings as they were originally arranged within Goya's house. Yes, he had Saturn Devouring His Sun in the dining room. That detail triggered an assoication with Lovecraft's excellent short story Pickman's Model for some reason...

The NYTimes site has an article that claims to reveal the secret of the Black Paintings.

Those are a good start. If you do a search on Goya or The Black Paintings, you'll be digging through pixels and links for hours. So pack a lunch.

The Black Paintings remain one of the most fascinating and mysterious series of paintings to come out of the Nineteenth Century. Goya is regarded by many as being the first modern artist. His work at the age of 72, at the nadir of his lengthy and remarkable career, came to a close with him daubing oil paints on the walls of his two-story house. He painted images dredged up from the deepest pits of his personal despair and gave form to his fears and nightmares in an act of artistic evocation that had to have been incredibly cathartic just to attempt, let alone achieve as masterfully as he did. The Black Paintings are powerful images of terrible things, horrible things, truly dark and troublesome things that Goya reached deep inside himself to capture and imprison on the walls of his house through sheer mastery of his art alone.

What sort of images would an aging and retiring sorcerer paint on the walls of their apartments down along the seedier alleys and behind the less fashionable galleries and intentionally-decrepit salons off of the Misericorde Canal in Riskail? What kind of paintings would a wizard leave on the walls of their soon-to-be tomb as they lie broken, and alone in the deeper chambers of some nameless place well outside the purview of most sane explorers? What type of things would a lich spend their endless days and non-nights depicting within the dark and dismal depths of a long-forgotten series of catacombs deep beneath the blasted surface of what once was an entire world but is now only a misshapen mass of vitrified stone careening erratically through the Magonic Layer of Zalchis?

Cue The Rolling Stones and Paint It Black...

Not all the Black Paintings are all that dark and dreary. Consider this one, for instance:Vision fantástica o Asmodea (Goya)
Francisco de Goya [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

You did see this one in the Video Tour, right?

There is much more to Goya's body of work than just the 14 so-called Black Paintings.

He also did etchings. Lots of etchings.

One set in particular, aside from his magnificent Grotesques, is the Caprichos.
And look; there is an
Ass-Clown in the Caprichos! (more than one, actually...)Goya - Caprichos (39)
From Goya's Caprichos series.

The Caprichos were an experiment by Goya in which he scathingly depicted the universal foibles and follies of society. Goya created a visual commentary that held up the hypocrisy and short-comings of society and all its institutions for ridicule and contempt. The Caprichos were in some respects very similar to highly acerbic political cartoons, after a manner, but far more detailed and ego-skewering than most cartoons could ever hope to be. The etchings were caustic, inflammatory, and controversial. Goya lambasted superstition, mocked the established powers and decried the decline of rationality as it degenerated into a stew of ignorance and aimless viciousness. The etchings that comprise the Caprichos series still pack quite a charge even today. The series of etchings was hastily pulled off the market for fear of reprisal from the Inquisition.

Perhaps we'll develop a version of the Caprichos as some sort of revolutionary deck of cards that mocks conventions whilst delivering a memetic payload of artistically inspired sorcerous mayhem for Riskail...

The most famous of all the Caprichos is undoubtedly Plate 43 of 80 which is known as "The Sleep of Reason Breeds Monsters."

You can see some of Goya's preliminary sketches for this etching at Wikipedia

Intellectual technologies shape the way people think. Maps facilitate a very different way of thinking in terms of our location within space. Clocks enforce a way of thinking in terms of our position within time. Books train us to focus our attentions and give us a way to think about our relation to what has come before and what might yet come to be.

The Internet breaks down the boundaries of space, erodes the steady progression of discrete quanta of time by enabling us to work asynchronously, and it obliterates the capacity for focused attention by bombarding us with every distraction possible.

Definitely something to consider. The Big Think site is an excellent resource for stuff like this, and we encourage you to give it a whirl.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fresh Zalchis Art

This is a sample of the stuff we've been up to lately. We're in the process of statting this critter up above for Zalchis, but we need some new spells for the write-up, so we're sifting through our old Scroll Cards and other notes and compiling a grimoire of fresh & weird spells for Zalchis, a sampling of which was just sent off to Blair for possible use in The Jewel Throne zine.

We're about to start uploading the next round of Genocultures and other fun stuff to Riskail for the week, clearing the way so that we can get to the pieces that Trey & Porky are looking for or asking after, which is cool. We're always happy to get positive and insightful comments on our work.

More to follow...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Blair at Planet Algol is launching a new DIY RPG-Zine called The Jewel Throne. It's going to be very, very cool...just like Planet Algol.

Plan Nine...remake?

Plan 9 Teaser Trailer from Darkstone Entertainment on Vimeo.

What can anyone say? WHY does come to mind...

More details at Monster Island News, the Official Plan 9 site, and Darkstone Entertainment.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


During the early paleolithic age of gaming, back when we had to draw our own rocks, the creation of dungeon maps was a process done by hand using pens, rulers, graph paper and all the art supplies you had on hand. A few stalwarts got fancy and used Zip-a-Tone, Scraps of salvaged Rubylith, rubber cement and photocopied bits to make fancier-shmancier maps, but generally one just got a sheet of paper and drew the frikkin' thing out. People still do this, though in an age of Hexographer, Dundjinni, Campaign Cartographer, GIMP, Artweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. one sometimes wonders why. Unless you're one of the mad mappers who contracted the need to draw your own geomorphs and design things like would-be Piranesis like so many of us did.

So don't get the wrong impression--we do a lot of maps around here, have been since the Seventies and will be until the day they pry the pen from our cold dead fingers. Maybe even past that point if all goes well...gotta love the internet...

We love maps.

But sometimes you need something less detailed and more tactically adaptable. Sometimes you go with a Flow-chart approach and just create a set of nodes and draw lines to show the connections between each of them. One major advantage is that you can easily swap-out the doors with teleporters, make the connection into a shaft or a pit-trap, even make use of a table of random doors like the very nice Megadungeon Doors random generator over at the Beyond the Black Gate blog.

A flow-chart dungeon isn't new by any stretch of the imagination. We were using this approach for smaller, one-off lairs and the like back in the OD&D days and we knew quite a few other DMs who were using something similar back then. It's an Old School concept that nobody owns and is well worth revisiting and reconsidering in conjunction with the One Page Dungeons idea, or the more minimalist sorts of approaches to things like going back to index-card character sheets, etc.

The nice thing about using a Node-Based mapping scheme is that you can develop the connections either on the fly or completely at random, and if you include a selection of suitable description text options, you can really lay down some decent versimilitude with minimal fuss and bother...once you've built the tables, etc.

This is something that we'll be talking about a bit more next week.
Until then take care and have fun gaming.
Be Well,

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Open World Gaming

Michael Curtis over at the Society of Torch, Pole & Rope blog has really and truly hit the proverbial nail on the head in his Welcome To My World post. Chris over at the Hill Cantons blog likewise has been posting about Open World Gaming, and he has launched a wonderful Domain-Level Campaign playtest that has developed into a live example of just the sort of Open World gaming that used to take place way back when the whole gaming thing was still too new to even really be mocked by the hipsters.

Curtis, author of the Stonehell Dungeon & the Dungeon Alphabet, has also made a couple of other posts that bear on the topic of Open World Gaming--including an excellent piece on The Immigration Policies of Kinan M'Nath, and some advice for those considering Visiting Kinan M'Nath. It is also very thoughtful of Mr. Curtis to point to an excellent online example of how Dave Arneson used to do this same thing way back in the early days of the hobby, as recounted by the one and only Robilar himself.

Johnathan Bingham of the Ostensible Cat blog has just made his Basalt Keep of Wilven the Yellow an Open Source artifact that can appear in other people's campaigns, games and settings. Once Johnathan has the Basalt Keep ready for release, Netherwerks will be running a game through it as part of the Zalchis project. Game Session Reports will be posted to the Netherwerks blog. We're also launching a special Zalchis play-by-email micro-campaign for a playtester to enter Zalchis from a fairly standard Greyhawkian D&D/LL sort of world. That should get interesting...

Dave Hargrave used to engage in this sort of Open World gaming with his Arduin, and we've been regaled with tales of the misadventures of a certain disreputable pirate distinguished nautical enthusiast and kindly merchant who once sailed-over from a particular tropical pocket universe paradise to Blackmoor and back from Jeff Berry. In some ways the whole notion of Open World gaming feels a great deal like the creative efforts of H. P. Lovecraft and his circle of correspondents as they built the Cthulhu Mythos as a new type of shared world.

So, perhaps developing an Open World megadungeon across a group of freely collaborating blogs and making it all one big sandbox people can contribute to as they will, borrow from as they like, and just generally have some fun developing apart from the crass commercialism might just be worth considering after all. Maybe it's not such a bad idea after all.

Just take a look at what Zak is doing with the notion of an Open World built off of what he calls Gygaxian Democracy--Gigacrawler. Wow. Gigacrawler is one of the most exciting and hyper-collaborative projects to ever hit the RPG community in a long, long time. The creativity that emanates from this effort is like electricity crackling all over everything the way we as kids always thought it really ought to when something was this fresh, new and amazing...

We're going to spend some quality time getting to know Gigacrawler and hopefully we can contribute, participate, cheer the process on from the sidelines, whatever...this is a radical New Thing that seriously kicks some major axe...

Cthulhu for the Win

Wow. Thanks to Christian Lindke for pointing this out. H.P. Lovecraft's fiction being used on Gameshow--a certain sign of the impending end of the world...the stars must be right...the Old Ones will be showing up on Sit-Coms soon...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Girl Genius Day

Jeff Grubb has initiated a wonderful blog-o-spheric mad scientist experiment on behalf of Phil & Kaja Foglio's very excellent web-comic Girl Genius. Essentially, if you're at all interested in the new novelization of Agatha H.'s origin story--Agatha H and the Airship City, go to Nightshade Books or Amazon and buy it today. It's Mr. Grubb's hope that this effort will produce a nice and noticeable spike in sales for Kaja's birthday. How Old School cool is that?

A Not So Bad Thought...

We just posted this comment over at the Ostensible Cat blog:

"We've been kind of wondering why there wasn't a collaborative megadungeon project being coordinated amongst all the OSR blogs, each one developing a specific level and bringing it all together as a shared, open source public-domain group effort. Maybe that's an idea that might be worth revisiting in 2011..."

Did something like this already occur and we missed it? If so, can someone point it out to us?

What we have in mind is a cross-blog exercise along the lines of the Open World gaming that Chris over at Hill Cantons has been talking about, only starting from a slightly different angle by attempting to develop a cross-blog open world megadungeon. The current Domain-Level Playtest is an awesome and wonderful thing. This idea would dove-tail directly into that effort, kind of like how Blair's Black Ziggurat. Remember that?

Keeping the World Strange

If you are a fan of Warren Ellis, click here to find out about the Year of Ellis.
Everyone else can just skip it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Go Go Godzilla

Legendary Pictures Meets Godzilla
Legendary Pictures has the rights to make a brand new 3-D Godzilla movie, which they have named Godzilla 2012. In honor of Godzilla's impending re-visioning for American audiences, we thought that it'd be fun to interview one of the leading experts on all things Godzilla, the one and only Chris Nigro, creator and curator of The Godzilla Saga website.

OSH: Chris, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your interest in Godzilla?

Chris N.: I have been a lifelong G-fan who grew up loving all aspects of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy, and my interest in the dai kaiju eiga sub-genre of sci-fi was always a major part of this. I never failed to catch G-films and other kaiju-films--Mothra, Gamera, the one-shot wonders like Reptilicus and Gorgo, you name it--whenever they were rerun on TV, I made a point to catch them. My grandmother often used to watch these kaiju-films with me, and her minor interest in this sub-genre spiked as a result of having a grandson who always asked her to sit and watch these great movies with him (to this day, we continue to have movie days together, and just the other day we sat and watched Iron Man 2 together). Also, my grandmother worked as a secretary for local branches of film companies who would do business with the smaller independent companies who used to release G-films in the U.S., so she would always let me know when these movies would be released and would often bring me press books and other memorabilia that she acquired from the industry. She took me to see some of these movies on a few occasions herself, while on other occasions I went with my mother. This interest in dai kaiju eiga never died down, but remained in full force as I "matured" (a pretty loaded word when applied to me, haha!), and ultimately the advent of the Internet gave me the opportunity to at last share my own thoughts with the world on everything about Godzilla. As a result of this opportunity and desire, The Godzilla Saga was born.

Anyone who has any interest in contacting me about Godzilla, be it to comment on any of my material on the site or to submit to my guest section, can contact me at g_saga_admin(at)fastmail(dot)us.

OSH: So you've been a Godzilla fan for a while now...

Chris N.: The first G-films I ever saw were from the era of the late '60s when he had a rather ambiguous relationship with the human race, along with the often less than fondly remembered movies from the '70s decade where he was depicted as a bona fide giant super-hero.

OSH: Godzilla as a Super Hero--that seems to be a pretty strange notion, at first, but it really did take off in the Seventies. Godzilla went from destroying cities to saving or protecting the human race. It's an intriguing concept, certainly.

Chris N.: I not only thought the concept of gigantic monsters that were capable of obliterating entire cities with a single day's rampage was a fantastic concept that really gave me story ideas and inspired me creatively, but I identified with Godzilla during his decade long 'super-hero' phase for the same reason I identified and also had a lifelong fascination with fictitious larger-than-life heroes like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and Captain America. They represented all that I wanted to be, the ultimate potential of myself and the entire human race, and the then super-heroic Godzilla (and Gamera) increased the already large scale of these heroics a hundredfold.

OSH: But Godzilla wasn't always a Super Hero...

Chris N.: When I finally saw the first G-film, I was surprised at the way Godzilla was depicted within, as I finally learned that he was initially intended to represent something far different than an intelligent and heroic defender of humanity with a human-like sense of moral justice. He was, as Tomiyuka Tanaka, the late co-creator of Godzilla and producer of the first film and the Showa and Heisei Series that branched out from it, once described him, "the sacred beast of the apocalypse." He was destruction incarnate, a seemingly mindless if cunning engine of extraordinary destruction, nature's volatile revenge on the human race for unleashing the atomic bomb on the world, a modern personification of Biblical monsters of incredible destructive power like Leviathan and Behemoth. In fact, if you read the Biblical descriptions of those creatures of towering might and majesty, they are so similar to Godzilla and others of his 20th century pedigree that it can be cogently said that dai kaiju had antecedents in legend just as popular cinematic monsters like werewolves and vampires were born out of rich legends in folklore, and man-made monsters like the Frankenstein Monster , who likewise had folkloric forebears with the legends of the Golem and homunculi. Godzilla and other kaiju are Leviathan updated for the modern world. This is what he was initially intended to represent, a force of nature that with every rampage makes it clear to human beings that they are not as immune to the wrath of nature as they like to think, and that they are not the most powerful living things on the planet, an incredible and deadly lesson in humility for our species.

OSH: That's one of the most intriguing things about Godzilla--how he has morphed over time from the embodiment of nuclear devastation to a protector-figure and back again to a gargantuan engine of destruction. The archetype that Godzilla expresses isn't totally nailed-down just yet. It's still a bit ambiguous, much like people's attitudes towards nuclear power...

Chris N.: After Godzilla gradually evolved into a super-hero character, the Showa Series met an ignominious end, and when he finally returned to the big screen, and to the comic book medium via Dark Horse and then IDW Publishing, his original nature as a creature who breeds devastation with every step he takes was restored, seemingly forever. Sometimes he may still battle and defeat other kaiju that present a threat to humanity, but only because these other creatures wandered into his territory, or attacked him first. Humans and their entire vast infrastructure mean no more to him in his classic incarnation than the ant in the field means to humans when they are going about their regular business. Godzilla is a clear protest to the misuse of nuclear power, as his attacks on humanity would have been far less frequent had the presence of nuclear facilities not been as numerous. The Japanese know this all too well, as no other culture on Earth currently can, and Godzilla was clearly intended in his classic incarnation to personify the dreaded atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended WWII. It ended a war, but at what price? Godzilla was initially created to ask that question in a somewhat disguised manner, something the sci-fi genre in general is very good at doing.

OSH: It's not just some guy in a rubber suit stomping on models. There's a lot more going on with Godzilla than just mindless carnage and mayhem.

OSH: You've been working for a while now on a Godzilla Movie Timeline, as well as a Godzilla Event Timeline in addition to your work on the Warrenverse and WNU. Could you tell us a bit about this project? Why three different chronologies? How does this tie into the Wold Newton Universe (WNU)?

Chris N.: Another popular sci-fi concept I have always been fascinated with for as long as I can remember--yet another one with an actual basis in quantum physics--is the idea of alternate timelines, realities both similar and different from each other where multiple versions of various characters can exist independently of each other, with histories that can be an endless amount of variations of a single basic premise that allow for many interpretations of these characters to be built on by different creators without any single version being "right" or 'wrong." In the eternity of the multiverse, all versions of a single character can be depicted by a plethora of different creators, each with their own unique vision building upon the core premise, with all resulting iterations of the character being equally legit in their own way.

In fact, the presence of the Atomic Titan and his Tohoverse crew of dai kaiju on many disparate alternate timelines was made quite clear--and was in fact the very premise of--the third series of G-films produced by Toho, which is often referred to as the Millenium Series (and sometimes the Alternate Reality Series for obvious reasons).

OSH: How will the new Godzilla movie affect the timeline? Is this the 'real' Godzilla or one more alternate universe version?

Chris N.: It can further be conjectured that the upcoming version of Godzilla that will be produced and released by Legendary Pictures will feature a version of the Big G who exists on yet another alternate Earth, distinct from all others seen before. The same can be said for the versions of Godzilla seen in comic book series published through the decades by Marvel, Dark Horse, and IDW, as well as Marc Cerasini's series of prose novels published by Random House in the late 1990s and the various manga published in Japan through the years. And of course, we have the heroic version of Godzilla seen in the Hanna-Barbera animated series from the late 1970s--an episode guide of this series can be found on this part of The Godzilla Saga. There is, of course, the terrific animated series produced two decades later by Centropolis, but like most fans I consider that kaiju to be an entirely different monster despite sharing Godzilla's name.

OSH: Godzilla wasn't the product of centuries of folklore like vampires, werewolves or their ilk. It's a modern, post-atomic monster. The first Godzilla movie appeared in 1954 and it encapsulated a lot of the fears and concerns of the day, but is Godzilla still relevant? Is there still some juice left in the Big G?

Chris N.: Godzilla remains relevant to modern audiences due to the concepts he embodies. The misuse of power and abuse of nature by the powers that be who presently rule the human race are as relevant today as they were in 1954 when the first G-film was produced and released. The same system under which humanity lived then remains intact today, and we still have wars and other conflicts between competing nations, and there are far more nuclear weapons extant in the world today than that which existed at the time the first G-film was released. I think the presence of these literally thousands of nuclear weapons in the world today cause human beings across the globe to suffer nightmares on a level that most of us may not be willing to admit, and Godzilla embodies this nightmare in the collective human psyche that enables us to deal with and face this situation by watching these films without coming right out and discussing it in real world terms, something that makes all of us a bit too uncomfortable. This is what the genre of sci-fi and its 'brother' genre, horror, provide for us, and why they are so important to modern culture. The archetypes expressed in the Bible that I mentioned above remain intact in the human collective psyche today as much as ever before (if you will permit me a Jungian moment). What the classic incarnation of Godzilla represented in 1954 is even more relevant to those of us who live today. This is because the international situation in the world--and the globally based socio-economic system under which we live--has not changed since that time.

Also, there is another thing that hasn't changed since 1954: moviegoers crave action, excitement, and terrible devastation on the big screen as much now as they did then, and what type of character can deliver all of that on the scale that a dai kaiju like Godzilla can? In other words, Godzilla has an inherent coolness factor that is difficult to deny in any decade :-)

OSH: What sort of a future do you envision for Godzilla?

Chris N.: I see continual revivals of Godzilla whenever a new crop of fanboys make their mark on the world and earn the proper credentials to convince Toho to give the Titan of Terror another shot at the silver screen. As I noted above, Godzilla's relevance remains intact; the only thing that puts him into periodic slumber are too many bad ideas for realizing such a great character presented one after the other in continual succession. Nevertheless, the character and the concept behind him are good enough that I am confident that new generations of fanboys turned screenwriters and producers will continue to present fresh interpretations of the character for a long time to come, if not indefinitely.

My ideas for a future Godzilla should look to what made the first film work, look at what the most successful G-films had compared to what the too many failures lacked, take what made him work and interpret these factors to a modern sensibility without losing the essence that is the crux of the character, and translate this all to a big screen project. I understand that a general and wide audience needs to be attracted, but this doesn't mean that the concerns and opinions of the fan base should be ignored or dismissed, because a general audience knows garbage as well as the fan base does, a lesson that a certain Mr. Devlin and Mr. Emmerich learned the hard way.

OSH: What do you think about the idea of a Godzilla RPG?

Chris N.: I think a G-Force RPG could work very well. It would allow the gamers to create characters based upon themselves, with certain desired fantasy skills and attributes tacked on, some from the onset and others earned by surviving long enough and making good decisions (along with a little luck of the dice, of course) as the game progresses, or on successive missions. The gamemaster could create a world threatened by dai kaiju to whatever criteria he/she may desire, and pick and choose which kaiju he/she wants to have emerge from their slumber and present a threat to the world and a challenge to the players. Different kaiju will have different strong points and weaknesses, and the random choice of these kaiju by the gamemaster could very well bring unpredictable and exciting moments for the players, who will have no idea if their particular characters will be more or less effective against any given kaiju chosen by the gamemaster (and he/she will have much to choose from), and which of their chosen weapons or skills will be most effective during any given day's scenario or mission. These RPGs could also present specs for a variety of technological weaponry and mecha, which would include both warships like Atragon and mechanized kaiju like Mechagodzilla and MOGEURA, each of which would likely require the different players' characters to have to earn the right to access and operate by gaining a sufficient amount of experience points determined by a combination of their success (or lack thereof) and the gamemaster's choice, and each of which would have a unique variety of strengths and weaknesses of their own, depending upon which "evil" kaiju they would happen to go up against. These decisions would partly be determined by whatever player was acting in the role of commander for his/her unit of G-Force, and partly based upon which kaiju the gamemaster chose to throw into the mix during any given day's scenario. Of course, mecha-kaiju wouldn't have to be limited to the status of weaponry utilized by the players, since alien forces have sometimes used bionic kaiju of their own to threaten the world, and this could allow certain of these types of kaiju to be directed by the gamemaster against G-Force.

Also, it should be noted that the realm of science and technology need not be slavishly adhered to with the result being that magick and mysticism are entirely dispensed with in the game. Of course, this would depend upon what type of world the individual gamemaster chose to create, but certain dai kaiju--such as Mothra, King Seesar, and Bagan--were of mystical origin, so there could be a G-Force member or two in any given team unit who may have a specialty in the mystic arts. Not all the non-bionic kaiju need to be in an adversarial role to the human race, or even under the constant control of the gamemaster. Certain members of G-Force could, for example, earn sufficient experience points in the mystic arts that they will come across a means of summoning Mothra and using her to battle other kaiju on behalf of the human race, or even to psychically convince other errant kaiju like Battra or Bagan to join her under certain circumstances--but possibly only if a certain (presumably high) number of experience points are earned. Not only that, but bionic kaiju controlled by malevolent alien forces under the direction of the gamemaster could, under certain circumstances, be captured by members of G-Force and reprogrammed to serve humanity against the "evil" kaiju or any malevolent alien forces the gamemaster may choose to utilize in any given game. Of course, it's also possible that the gamemaster may reserve the right to unexpectedly and periodically throw a mechanical "glitch" in the programming of a mecha-kaiju under the control of G-Force that will cause the giant robotic creature to temporarily run amuck, and lives may be lost and a lot of destruction can occur before the G-Force team manages to either regain control of the out of control mecha-kaiju or be forced to successfully destroy it in self-defense. The gamemaster could plan an epic battle that takes the G-Force players all across the globe, or limit the action to a few areas, depending upon his/her whims on any particular day. The gamemaster could even decide whether or not he/she wants certain factors such as invading alien races who use kaiju as part of their arsenal to be a factor of their individual world (or universe, as the case may be).

As you can see, the possibilities of a Godzilla-based RPG can be endless.

OSH: Wow. No kidding. What you describe would be a great RPG!

To wrap things up, for now, what would you say are the Three Coolest Things about Godzilla?

Chris N.:
1) He duly represents the extreme folly of power without wisdom or moral restraint, and thus serves as a powerful archetypal cautionary tale to those who view films featuring his classic incarnation.

2) His prominent presence in fantasy fiction makes it clear that the human race does indeed feel that it can be humbled and thus should never overstep its boundaries.

3) He is extremely cool, and the smashing of buildings is an awesome spectacle to observe onscreen.
OSH: Thanks for doing this interview with us and we look forward to talking to you some more about the Warrenverse in a future post. Anyone interested in Godzilla should definitely take a look at Chris' The Godzilla Saga website--there is a lot of great stuff there, including a Godzilla Glossary, a page dedicated to Godzilla TV Commercials, a very nice Godzilla picture gallery, and a Godzilla Magazine Cover Gallery--as well as loads of links and other fun stuff.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

RPG Brainstorming: Jennifer's Monsters

This installment of RPG Brainstorming is being handled by our extra special Guest Blogger Jennifer from Book Scorpion's LairJennifer maintains an extensive collection of stock images at her DeviantART gallery, including a number of old illustrations of monsters and mythical creatures that people may find useful--so definitely drop by and say 'Hi!' sometime.

Werewolf - silver bullets, piece of cake. Red-eyed black dog - yawn. Giant red-haired gorilla - been there, done that. Velvet worms - not agai ... wait, what?

I'd love a velvet worm as a pet, but as a monster they would make me run. They sneak up on you and the first thing you probably notice of them is the gentle touch of an antenna. Before you can say ew!, you're covered in sticky slime. Even if you manage to run, the velvet worm will follow you single-mindedly and if it captures you, you can look forward to having your intestines dissolved. Some species of velvet worms even hunt in packs. Here are a few links to Velvet Worms at Buzzle, A site with some good introductory facts on Velvet Worms, Encyclopedia Britannica on Velvet Worms, The Australian Museum page for Velvet Worms, Arkive, Spitting with a Segmented Brain, and at the bottom of this post at the Real Monstrosities blog is a Velvet Worm.

Image from: http://spluch.blogspot.com/2007/01/giant-centipedes.html
Centipedes are even worse. I encountered centipedes in one memorable Cthulhu adventure and it was a very close call - they are extremely fast and aggressive. Add to that the fact that they have a poisonous and painful bite, can walk up walls and on the ceiling and that they can raise themselves on the last three leg pairs and you have a monster no-one will forget. Here's a video of a giant centipede catching a bat in flight while the centipede is hanging from the ceiling of a cave. Scolopendra.be has more infomation on them, as has Arkive.

Assassin bugs are great, too - not only do they look like aliens, they also have an extremely painful sting and can hit your eyes with a defensive liquid from about a foot away (millipedes can do that, too). An assassin bug will wait for its prey to walk by, coming closer very slowly and will then attack in the blink of an eye, ramming that long and sharp proboscis into their prey. Think Brain Bug. Here's a video of an Assassin Bug in action. With that image stuck in your head, you can find out more at Assassinbug.com.

Speaking of Starship Troopers, Bombardier Beetles are really weird and were the inspiration for the Tanker Bugs, the ones that shot flaming liquid from their mouth. Bombardier beetles can't shoot flames, but if you pester one too much, you will get sprayed with a hot gas that is definitely painful if you get some in your eyes or on your skin. The beetle stores hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide in two separate chambers in its body, mixes them in a third chamber and the mixture heats up to about 100°C/212 °, becomes gaseous and then gets fired at the attacker. Don't think you're safe if you're in front of the beetle. It can swivel the firing gland between its legs or over its back. Oh, and it can repeat the attack multiple times per second. Here's an article with some cool pictures of the process

Some nice Cornish Mussels courtesy of Wikimedia
Mussels - yeah, right. What can they do, except give you food poisoning? Apart from being a lot more mobile than people think, here's a mussel that gives me nightmares. Forget killer clams (the most inoffensive animals ever, whatever Doctor Who may want us to believe), clampires are the way to go. You can find more photos of mussels of various types and sorts at the Unio Galleries.

Image from: http://www.bgsd.k12.wa.us/hml/jr_cam/macros/tl_pond/tl_pond.html
And finally, dragonfly larvae. Two words: extendable jaws.

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Jennifer's Monsters by Bookscorpion is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at oldschoolheretic.blogspot.com.
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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Heavy Metal 1-1-11

Have a very Heavy Metal 2011...

Netherwerks will be back on schedule next week...