Sunday, June 28, 2009

Visions of Vanth

A rare daguerreotype of the Zombie Princess

A clan of mutated dwarves use Deronic Psychic Enhancer to cause chaos

The Inquisitors of the Iron Dwarf King confront the latest scourge to come from the Path of Death

A battle of Dinowarriors rages near the lands of the Ape Sultans

A Handyman Lord and his mate rest in one of the more dimensionally unstable areas of the Waepeta Sorceror Palesade

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Saturday Night in Edo: My First “Official” Game Fiction

Like many gamers, my friends Tim Beyersdorf and Jim Burzelic wanted to create their own games. They were working on two miniature skirmish games: one fantasy, one near future sci-fi. As they began working in the fantasy game, Tim and Jim, knowing I liked to write, asked me to write some setting vignettes for their games. I got paid $20 for four stories. The games are still in limbo.

The following vignette was written for Tim and Jim’s near future game. The game setting is a future Japan, where a rebuilt Tokyo returns to the name Edo. Corporations, criminals and concerned citizens all battled for survival in the urban jungle. Tim gave me the basic scenario for the vignette, and I ran with it. I’m pretty proud of this fiction, so I hope you enjoy it.

The story below uses characters and settings created by Tim Beyersdorf and Jim Burzelic, and are used with their permission.

A Typical Saturday Night in Edo, 2075

“Red Noodle” Tony dived behind the overturned truck, firing back at his attackers. It was at this point Tony decided that there were many things in his life that he hated.

Tony hated his nickname. He hated spending a good Saturday night looking for some corporate secret someone just had to have. He hated having an oyabun who seemed to be more interested in pleasure than the business of the yakuza. He hated whoever gave the gang than plans to the warehouse where he and his men were pinned down by gunfire. He hated the guards who fought better than the average security grunt. He pretty much hated it all.

Looking over past his cover, Tony spied a middle-aged Japanese man clad in a bright white suit marred only slightly by spurts of blood. No concern creased the man’s brow and he commanded his allotment of men with a mere gesture. The Man in White was a smiling assassin machine who preferred his swords and hands before guns. He had only ever spoken more than two words at one time to Tony. Some said he wore white because the man believed he was an agent of death.

Tony hated him. At this point hate overwhelmed the usual fear.

The thoughts of hatred were interrupted by the sudden punctuation of the truck’s roof by successive shotgun blasts. Tony took this time to curse loudly and retreat the opposite way of the gunfire. Seeking more cover to attack the source of this latest inconvenience, he heard a blood curdling “Yeeee Haaah!!” that made him stop in his tracks.

Tony realized that he was in much more trouble than he thought. Only one group would make such a blatant entrance to a running gunfight. Four beautiful women clad in a mix of modern armor and 19th century cowgirl wear, complete with cowboys hats. That group was the Tokyo Rangers.

He hated the Tokyo Rangers most of all.

Some people in Edo said that they were a secret cyborg unit created by an American corporation during the Franco-American War that obliterated the Euro. Others said they were avenging angels sent to Neo-Tokyo to bring justice to the corporations. The one that made the most sense went that the Rangers were three beautiful Texan sisters, their father a former Texas Ranger that moved to Edo after the War and took his young daughters there with him. The father died, or was killed by X, depending on who was telling the story. The sisters, three of them, and their half sister formed the Tokyo Rangers, to continue that tradition of the Texas Rangers in their adopted home city.

Whatever the truth was, there was no doubting their effectiveness. Tony had too many scars that reminded him of the skills of the Rangers. All four of them were now in the warehouse, engaging both the security guards and the yakuza.

The bulk of the security guards were fighting with the leader of the Tokyo Rangers, Wyld Storm. The beautiful redhead was the tallest of her sisters and was the best all around fighter of the group. One guard swung a nightstick towards her head with a frightening speed. Wyld caught the hand in midair and snapped it back with a sickening crunch. Using the force of the guard’s own movement, she swung the guard around to catch the bullets that raced towards her.

Advancing towards the warehouse office with her trademark shotgun was Melody Storm, the blonde sharpshooter of the sisters. With a wave of his hand, Tony sent some of his men to intercept her. Two of his men fired at her but she ducked behind a pallet jack near the office door. As soon as the yakuza thugs thought it was safe they advanced toward their goal. A shotgun butt to their unwitting heads allowed Melody to show them the error of their ways. Tony swore and tried to find a better place to plan.

The middle sister Constance Storm confronted the Man in White, drawing out the katana she always kept by her side. The slender brunette was the best martial artist of the Rangers, and had learned much from her stepmother. As the pairs’ swords struck each other, the sparks leapt to the warehouse floor. Each combatant circled the other, looking for an opening to strike, beginning a dance they had performed many times before.

Bounding through the combatants with the exuberance of youth was the youngest of the Rangers, their half-sister Temperance Storm. Her name was a misnomer, for the pink haired Eurasian beauty flew into the fight not with restraint, but with abandon, her knives cutting a path to be by her sister Melody’s side. Her blue eyes twinkled as she laughed at the chaos she caused.

Temperance’s path put her in range of Tony’s 9mm, so he decided that taking out one of the Rangers might make up for not being able to get the prize that his oyabun had sought. With his left eye closed he squinted his right eye to aim at that beautiful head to send the youngest Ranger onto the cycle of reincarnation. As his finger applied pressure to the trigger, Tony’s thoughts were stopped by the feel of cold steel pressing against the left side of his head. His grip on the gun loosened as a whisper filled his ears.

“You weren’t about to shoot my little sister Temperance, were you Noodles?” the voice asked.

Tony twirled around slowly and looked at his guest. The handsome Japanese man who held the pistol to his head smiled as Tony recognized him. The smile did not go to the man’s eyes. They were full of anger.

“Jimmy Yak!” Tony stammered. “Fancy meeting you here.”

Jimmy Yakamura, the wheelman of the Tokyo Rangers and man about town, dropped his smile and kept the gun steady. “Since when did the Yakuza have an interest in this dumpy warehouse, Noodles? Usually your boss deals in higher class fair than this,” Jimmy asked Tony.

“Just an ordinary retrieval until you and your girls showed up, Jimmy. This whole thing was a lot harder than it should have been. Hell, I shouldn’t even be telling you this but…”

Tony’s explanation was interrupted by Melody shouting to the Rangers from the warehouse office.

“This ain’t what we were told,” she yelled. “This here is Monataki property. And you know what those psychos usually have in places like this.”

Jimmy swore and started to shove his captive towards the rest of the Rangers loosing his grip on the Yakuza hood. Tony used this to elbow Jimmy in the gut and draw his gun on the fallen man. Before he could pull the trigger, a sharp whistle filled the air in the warehouse.

Suddenly the walls burst in and a stench filled the air that made everybody gag. Shambling through holes in the walls was decaying ambling mounds of flesh. Monataki Corp referred to them with a complex code of chemicals and serial numbers. Most Edo folks called them zombies.

The slower guards and yakuza agents were easy fodder for the zombies, being caught and eaten as the rest raced for the door. The moans both the Rangers and the Yakuza could hear on the other side indicated that the danger was not just on the inside of the warehouse.

As the zombies began to surround the Tokyo Rangers, the Man in White, and Tony, one person had enough voice to make a suggestion.

“Considering the situation, esteemed opponents,” the Man in White said, “I suggest a truce for now.”

That was the most that Tony had ever heard the Man in White say in one breath.

He definitely hated working on Saturdays.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

KIRBYMANIA: Thundarr the Barbarian "Wizard Wars"

Here is another episode of Thundarr the Barbarian, featuring the bizarre wizard Skullos,who you have to see to believe. Add servitor technomantic robots, zombies, and more. Check it out!

PS--Try to ignore the fact that Skullus sounds like Fred Flintstone. It gets a little weird.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Five Links and Grouchy Smurf

The Wandererverse: You want fan fiction crossovers? I'll give you fan fiction crossovers!

Welcome to the Corner: A fellow by the name of Cyprus Corners presents some of the best stuff not on DVD--like Damnation Alley and Moontrap!

Virtual Toy Chest: A great place to see some great old toys. Sorry about the E-bay ads. Forums: (WARNING: Some stuff NSFW!) Concept artwork on a variety of subjects. A hour of tooling around can give you a year of gaming ideas.

cereal:geek magazine: A great 80s cartoon magazine edited by James Eatock, the legendary Busta Toons. Sample artwork and ordering information are all here. Check it out.

To finish, Grouchy Smurf says...

"I Hate Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag!"

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mike’s Roleplaying in 12 Boxes: A Dozen RPG Boxed Sets

Submitted for your approval, in no particular order: 12 of my favorite RPG boxed sets. With each boxed set is a sentence or two of my thoughts on it. Enjoy.

Dungeons & Dragons Set 1: Basic Rules (aka The Red Box) (TSR)

My introduction to RPGs, bought for me by my father when I asked him real nice.

Stormbringer First Edition (Chaosium)

I inherited this boxed set from my friend Scott’s brother. Filled with plenty of Elric info and dark roleplaying. I had a twisted childhood.

Lords of Creation (Avalon Hill)

Bought for $10 at a long gone toy store at a lone gone shopping mall. This was my introduction to the zany world of Tom Moldvay, and an appreciation for the weird and bizarre.

Call of Cthulhu (Chaosium)

My aunt got me this on my birthday. I was reading Lovecraft by the 6th grade, so I was psyched to get the game.

Marvel Super Heroes (TSR)

One of my favorite superhero games, Marvel Super Heroes was simple to run and extremely flexible. One of the first campaigns I ran.

The Doctor Who RPG (FASA)

In the 80s and 90s I was a huge Doctor Who fan. The FASA game is dry and plays loose with the canon, but come on—I could be a TIME LORD!

DC Heroes Roleplaying Game Second Edition (Mayfair Games)

The box set is plain but don’t let that fool you. The second edition box is chock full of DC Comics goodness. It's worth picking up if only for the setting sourcebook included in the box.

Chill: Adventures Into the Unknown (Pacesetter)

I spent $30 at a GenCon auction but it was worth it. Chill is an underrated horror system. Fighting against classic monsters is fun.

Justice Inc. (Hero Games)

My first pulp game. This is an excellent introduction to the pulp genre by Aaron Allston utilizing the Hero System. I still have the books in the personal collection.

Ravenloft: Realm of Terror (TSR)

Probably the closest we will ever have to a Universal/Hammer Horror roleplaying game. Ravenloft is a great source for gothic fantasy roleplaying and horror gaming fun.

Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space (TSR)

One of my guiltiest pleasures. Take the idea of space travel and give it a fantasy twist, than spice it up with magic ships. Add giant space hamsters and mind flayers. Oh yeah.

Ghostbusters RPG (West End Games)

IMHO the greatest licensed RPG system ever created. The deceptively simple system hides a powerful engine of roleplaying. And it has a Ghost Die, too.

Ironically enough, I don’t own most of these anymore. Ah well, the folly of youth. There are a bunch of other boxed sets I could have name, but I only had room for 12 of them.

That’s my list. What about you?