Friday, March 3, 2017

Gods of the Fall - Relics

Relics are a thing in myth. They just aren't really a thing in Gods of the Fall. That's cool and all, and for some groups it probably works out OK, but I think there's some value in godly relics. In items of power so intrinsically wound up in the divine legend of their godly owner that they become an indistinguishable part of that legend. You can't talk about Mjolnir without talking about Thor for instance. That's easily the best example that is commonly known thanks in large part to a comic book god that bears little in common with the myth that spawned him.

Consider Hercules (or perhaps Herakles) and the pelt of the Nemean Lion. The Nemean lion's skin was so tough that blades and arrows couldn't puncture it and the lion was thought invincible. Enter Hercules, who used his great strength to strangle and choke the lion to death. He was then able to carefully remove the lion's skin and wore it, both as a trophy and as an unbreachable defense, for even in death the skin of the Nemean lion resisted cuts and punctures.

That's a divine relic. Zeus' Thunderbolts, Odin's spear Gungnir, CĂș Chulainn's Gae Bolga, and Athena's Aegis are all other examples of relics. For other gods relics may take on a different kind of role, one representing a loss or sacrifice on the god's part. Tyr's missing hand, Horus' eye, Osirus' manhood, and Odin's eye, are all relics in that they are aspects of the god that are important to that god's power and myth. Odin gains knowledge of fate and magic by the sacrifice of his eye much in the way Mjolnir grants Thor strength and the power of thunder.

Observant and well read readers may at this point realize that I'm taking huge ques from White Wolf's Scion RPG, and I totally am. I cop to it. I think that, rules issues aside, Scion had a great grasp over the divine legend and how to embody that into an RPG, and I don't think that taking lessons from Scion and applying them to Gods of the Fall in any way lessens either game.

How do you introduce relics? Well depending on what kind of relic we're talking about a character may start with a weapon they favor heavily, or they may find something. A relic item may even start play as an artifact, but through continual use by the player grow to be something more. I look at relics as being an artifact that cannot deplete for the character, that grants a special divine shift of some kind to that player. For relics that are represented not by a physical item but instead by a physical infirmity, I would offer two shifts, with the second being offset by the handicap of the injury itself. Tyr isn't going to be using two handed anything after Fenrir bit off his hand, so that's a detriment, but it's also a relic and it represents his steadfast devotion, his honor, and his strength as a god to make a sacrifice; after all, he knew full well that he would lose his hand once Fenrir realized that the gods had bound him.

Will I use this in my monthly Gods of the Fall game? Possibly. I like the idea of doing so, but I don't want to jump the gun too early either. we're only just now getting to 2nd tier and I don't think relics should really come about until probably third or even fourth tier. Still, it's an idea I've been toying with, and I think it fits nicely with the themes and helps to deepen the story potential.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Nuts & Bolts #109 - Review: Kamandi Challenge #1

Issue #1 standard cover, art by Bruce Timm


Published By: DC Comics • 43 pages • $4.99 • full color

What's In It?

The return of the last boy on Earth!

I don't usually read comics. The only title I have ever bought as a monthly is Saga (more on that in a future blog post), but I decided to make an exception and buy a copy of Kamandi Challenge #1. A little history: Kamandi was created by the great Jack Kirby and over the years DC has more or less refused to let anybody into the playground since the 1970 after the title's initial run ceased. 2017 is Mr. Kirby's 100's birthday and so DC decided to finally let the post apocalyptic character return.

The "challenge" part is what made me decide no to wait until this inevitably got re-released as a trade. See because so many creators have asked DC to write or draw Kamandi over the years (and DC always said no) they decided to take an unconventional approach to bringing back this title. Each month a separate creative team of writer(s) and artist(s) will pick up the story from the cliffhanger left by the previous creative team. They have to resolve the cliffhanger and then tell the next part of the story and leave a new cliffhanger for the next team's month. It means that over the course of the next 12 months we'll probably get one wild ride, but it also means this limited series should be really fun too.

Warning: mild spoilers ahead!

Issue #1 has a prologue written by Dan DiDio (who also acts as overseeing editor) and drawn by Keith Griffen with the main story (picking up on the prologue's cliffhanger) written by Dan Abnett and drawn by Dale Eaglesham. I'm unfamiliar with either artist, but I at least recognize the names of the writers. The issue introduces us to Kamandi (a name he gets from his home in the Command D bunker) and starts to show us Kamandi's world populated by mutant animals and ruled over by a kingdom of tigers. Much like planet of the apes man is considered an animal while the animals are anthropomorphic and intelligent (though far more varied than just apes).

I grabbed this for three reasons. Firstly it just seemed like it could be a fun limited series. Secondly I love post apocalypse stories & worlds. Thirdly between my early days playing the TMNT & Other Strangeness RPG and After The Bomb (the post apocalyptic version of the same) and the upcoming release of Mutant Crawl Classics RPG I thought that reading this series would be both nostalgic and inspiring.

In all three respects this was a worthwhile purchase. The promise of the second issue resolving the crazy cliffhanger from this issue will probably make me buy into that as well. I think the biggest risk will be the changing artist and writer each month, which could be either boon or bane. As inspiration for RPGs I'd say they're off to a good start; this issue was mostly split between character introduction and world building. The evocative art certainly gives me some ideas, as does the mish-mash of tech used by the characters.

I'm no expert on comics, but I know I enjoyed this and that it made me eager to pick up the second issue. I'd say it's worth the price of admission and then some, at least for what I was hoping to get out of it.

Rating: 100% - great art and a good start for this series, at least in my opinion

Monday, February 27, 2017

Story Seed - Seeker

Image Source:

At last! My chest heaved as I gasped for the thin air and my weakened muscles trembled, threatening to pull me down and send me tumbling from whence I came, but at last I had found the monastery. I could see it with my own eyes, a glorious towering structure built out of the upward thrusting rock of a remote mountain peak. The last refuge for the long thought lost Brotherhood of the Trembling Hand.

I surveyed the way before me, I'd have to go down to go up, and the ascent to the structure did not seem to be aided in any way. Not for the first time I wondered if I would find an empty structure, guarded only by the long dead. I carefully sat, and took a precious few minutes as my body recovered some of my spent energy.

I regarded the flocks of birds that seemed to make this peak home, and the faint traces of greenery. Little more than scrub grass, lichen, and low shrubs. Could the monks have eked out a living here in isolation for so long? I began to doubt that they could.

The birds though... the birds gave me pause. Of course it was simple for them to access this place, flight would carry them here without the struggles of a difficult climb. If the birds could survive in this place perhaps the monks could. They may have secret gardens of edible plants and perhaps even hardy mountain goats that could forage the peak.

I struggled once more to my feet and set off, carefully picking my way. There was only one way to learn the truth.