Sunday, May 09, 2021

Marvel 1991: Avengers West Coast #69, Captain America #384, and New Warriors #10

I'm going to run through a bunch of comics this time, in part because I'm behind again, and in part because I managed to pick three comics that are taken up by lengthy fight scenes and little else.

Biff! Pow! Etc!

Hawkeye and US Agent have a fight on the beach. For the entire issue. The cover does not lie.

This shouldn't work, because nothing really happens. It should feel like padding, like "oh crap we've got an issue to put out and we're really late and let's just have a meaningless punch-up", because that does happen sometimes -- spoiler alert -- but Dann and Roy Thomas pull it off.

I think it works for two reasons. First, there are flashbacks throughout that break up the fight and provide context for why it is happening; I wouldn't go as far as saying it's clever, but it is at least more interesting than a strict linear narrative would have been. There's also some nice bits with the rest of the Avengers also having their own low-level disagreements that reflect the main fight, although the motif is perhaps laid on a bit thick and makes the team look somewhat dysfunctional.

The second reason it works, and probably the main one, is that the Thomases put in the effort to characterise Hawkeye and US Agent so their dispute not only makes sense, but has a sense of weight to it. It's not your standard superhero misunderstanding, but a conflict that develops out of the two of them being dickheads. Moreover, they are both dickheads in their own distinct ways, which come across well in the writing.

Less effective is Scarlet Witch at the end saying that "it would take every ounce of power we could muster" to stop US Agent if he "ever turned bad", which seems like a bit of an exaggeration given the Avengers have beaten Korvac and Thanos, but okay Wanda, whatever.

The success of the comic rather depends on how much you care about Hawkeye and US Agent. I admire the Thomases' restraint in not positioning either of the pair as being right, but making them both utter douche canoes makes it a bit difficult to engage, even if the argument is well-written. It's an interesting issue that shouldn't work but somehow does. Three Cables.


Cap decides to force the Avengers to undergo medical testing, but at least acknowledges that he should lead by example and do so first. Wow, Steve. I'm now so used to Chris Evans' charming everyone's-best-friend portrayal of the character that I'd forgotten how bossy the comics incarnation can be at times.

During the testing it is discovered that Cap may have a weakness to extreme cold, which is something I don't remember seeing anywhere else and doesn't appear on any character profile I can find so I suspect it was dropped at some point. Probably the moment this issue was printed.

As Captain America is a tactical genius, he decides the best way to test this new theory is to go to "the north magnetic pole" to find his missing pal, D-Man. There he fights -- and is defeated by -- a giant snow snake (!), bumps into his old friend Jack Frost -- basically Iceman with hair -- who is dragged underwater by the giant snow snake, and then Thor turns up to deal with the situation but is unable to find the giant snow snake or Jack Frost, so the two Avengers shrug and leave. Is Jack Frost okay? They don't care. Should we have a look around for D-Man, since that's why we're here? Nah, we've fought a giant snow snake, that's enough for one day. Again Steve, wow.

I'm trying to be somewhat charitable with these reviews, because 1991 was a different time, and comics were different, and the pressures of a monthly schedule mean that not every issue can be a perfect work of art, but this is tosh. It feels like filler; most of the issue is a fight with a mindless monster, and you could tell the story with any character. The only specific ties to Cap are Jack Frost and D-Man, one of whom contributes nothing and the other is forgotten. On the plus side, the art is solid with some good storytelling, but the Arctic setting means that there's a lot of empty, white space, which again suggests a rush.

Two Cables, and that's being generous.


So apparently the theme for April 1991 was "pointless fight issues" because here's another one. Emma Frost's Hellions have a question to ask the New Warriors and decide the best way to get the answer is to smash into the Warriors' headquarters and beat them up. Gah.

(Spoiler: the Warriors don't even know the answer!)

I understand this is a superhero topos dating back to the early days of the genre, but it's also a stupid one and I would have hoped that by 1991 it had gone out of fashion. Unlike Avengers West Coast, there's little attempt to add context or texture to the fight; the characters punch each other until everyone's on the ground then Emma does her passive-aggressive and haughty thing, and that's your lot. Maybe it reads better if you've been following the series, but as a standalone issue it feels either inconsequential and uninspired, or a weird throwback to an earlier era.

I've never been a huge fan of Mark Bagley's art style, which I know puts me in a minority. There's something about the way he draws faces that puts me off, a sort of weird horizontal stretch that gives everyone a sort of batrachian look, but I can't deny that he's a good storyteller and he makes the big, pointless fight at least visually interesting.

I'm not going to say this is a bad comic, but it is dull and devoid of ambition and like the Captain America issue doesn't even resolve it's own setup. Perhaps I'm expecting too much of 1991. Two Cables.

Friday, May 07, 2021

"Special" Guest

For reasons that defy rational explanation, I have been interviewed by Krzysztof Kiser about game design and my "creative" process. Perhaps Krzysztof has already interviewed everyone interesting.

Perhaps you could turn on the subtitles, so you don't have to hear my awful, droning voice.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

The Inner Temple of the Golden Skeleton

Over at the resurrected Grognardia, James has shared an early Dungeons & Dragons map from Steve Jackson, co-founder of Games Workshop. This reminded me that the other co-founder, Ian Livingstone, now and then shares an image of one of his early dungeons.

I can't be certain, but I think I remember Sir Ian saying that this was the first dungeon he ever designed for the game. I haven't been able to find a better quality image, and I'm too intimidated by Sir Ian's awesomeness to ask him for one.

(Not that I have any influence over such a giant! I don't mean to suggest that he and I are pals or anything.)

Monday, May 03, 2021

Big Green

From Green Messiah, coming some time this year -- late summer, I hope -- from Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Dog & Bastard

I created the Dog & Bastard pub in 2012 for my One Page Dungeon entry for that year and it has appeared in every rpg adventure I've written since, a little Easter egg for any regular readers.

(There are a couple of others too, for anyone counting.)

Every now and then I do a quick search to see if it's come up in anyone's game play reports, and today I discovered this:

This is from 2020 and is quite an interesting coincidence. I'm going to assume that popular comedian Jon Richardson is a secret gamer -- it wouldn't surprise me at all -- and has played or read one of my adventures at some point.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Marvel 1991: Marvel Comics Presents #72 (sort of)


I did wonder why the digital version of this issue was so cheap.

It turns out that all we're getting here is the Weapon X bit, and not the other three stories, so it's nine pages of a larger story, and moreover it's the prologue, so it's more about setting up the feel and mood and less about character and plot. With all that in mind, I don't think I can give it a fair review.

On the plus side, it does mean that I can move on quickly and at least attempt to catch up with the entire Marvel 1991 project. Ha ha.

What I can say that it looks amazing. These pages don't tell you much about what's going on -- which to be fair is true of the entire nine pages we do get -- but my gosh, just look at them.

(Click to just look at larger versions.)

My introduction to the work of Barry Windsor-Smith was his Machine Man miniseries as reprinted in the Marvel UK Transformers comic in 1985, and I fell in love with the art even if I didn't quite understand the writing. There's nothing quite like it, even today. Sometimes it's clean and simple, and feels a bit like a European artist like Moebius, but then there explosions of noodly detail and an emphasis on mood over plot progression that come across almost like Japanese manga.

You can see elements of all of that in the Weapon X story, and for that reason if nothing else, I will probably pick up the rest of the story at some point, just not in this format.

Zero Cables for you, Marvel Comics Presents #72, but that's only because you've been released into the world in a crippled and incomplete state, you poor thing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

DLC for the FF GBs

On Monday night I dreamed that I visited my Korean cousin in Toronto. I don't have a Korean cousin in Toronto, so I suspect this is my subconscious telling me I'm sad about Kim's Convenience being cancelled.


While there we went to whatever the Canadian equivalent of a charity shop is, and I was excited to find a bunch of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. I managed to plug a couple of gaps in my collection, and found a second copy of Blacksand! to probably sell, but alas even in the realm of dreams Allansia eludes me, which probably says something about my sense of self-worth. I also discovered that Vault of the Vampire is called Vault of the Vicar in Canada, no doubt to some obscure Canadian law about promoting vampirism, or a general Canadian fear of the clergy perhaps.

The most interesting find was a series of short, 30 to 50 page books that were designed to be used in conjunction with the main FF adventures, as side quests of sort. They had GREENSPINES and everything. The main books would be edited to add something like this:

You now have the opportunity to embark on a sidequest. Select a book and turn to 1. If you survive your sidequest, follow any special instructions there, or return here to continue on your adventure.

If you would rather ignore the distraction of another quest and continue on your journey, turn to 87
Would this work in practice? I remember there being a disclaimer in the shorter books warning against the potential imbalancing effect of sidequests on the main book -- again, that tells you something about my subcosncious -- but it seems like a viable idea, a sort of analogue DLC to make replays of one's favourite FF adventures a bit more unpredictable and interesting. You could tailor the digressions so that they would be suited to certain books over others, both in terms of game balance and setting, so you don't suddenly end up fighting a bunch of medusae on a pirate ship or whatever.

(I suppose in theory you could do this with the existing books. Start Caverns of the Snow Witch, then interrupt it to play Moonrunner, then jump back, although that seems clunky and excessive. If you paired up the right books it might just about work. Hm.)

I woke up before I could try any of the new books, but if I dream about them again, I will report back. Meanwhile, if anyone has a copy of Allansia they don't want, let me know.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Marvel 1991: Darkhawk #1

By complete coincidence, I'm looking at this a week after Marvel published a Darkhawk 30th anniversary special, which answers one question I had about this comic.

This first issue is very much an origin story, but there is a "created by Tom DeFalco" credit and the issue is written by Danny Fingeroth, all of which implies an earlier appearance. There is a preview in February 1991's Marvel Age #97 but it seems no one counts that, so yes, this is the character's first appearance. Happy 30th, Darkhawk!

I have read other comics featuring the character -- most recently, Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk because Death's Head is in it -- but they have all been later appearances, and I gather the character has had a bit of a conceptual and visual redesign since then, tying him to some of Marvel's cosmic mythos. Which is a good thing, because here at the start he is ill-defined and uninspired.

Part of the problem is that the storytelling is a mess. It manages to be both paced at a breakneck speed, to the extent that it feels like there are missing panels in the way it jumps from scene to scene, but also oddly devoid of actual content, because not much seems to happen. The Darkhawk suit is introduced, that's good. We see it shoot a laser thing. Okay, so that's a thing it can do. What is the helmet about? What does the single Wolverine claw do? What do the wings do? There's a mysterious tramp wandering about who seems to know what Darkhawk is but vanishes and that's a valid bit of mystery storytelling, something I'd expect to be left hanging and explored later. So too with the early appearance of the Hobgoblin. On the other hand, basic functions of the character design should probably be at least hinted at in the first issue, but it feels like they ran out of room and then you look back and realise that they had plenty of time and space, but wasted it somehow. It feels like that awful early-2000s trend of "decompressed storytelling" only a dozen years early.

I don't want the entire backstory in #1, but we can do better than "he is grey and has a laser" can't we?

We don't get much of a feel for Darkhawk's civilian identity either. He is an older brother -- maybe a teenager? -- and he has friends. I think that's about all we get. It's all so vague and again I don't want everything, laid out in the first issue, but there's a vast gulf between "everything" and "nothing" and they somehow manage to miss it.

The visual design is soul-sapping too. He is grey. All over grey. Grey is difficult to make interesting and, well, they don't manage it. There is a chest logo of sorts, but it's tiny and black. Black on grey. Darkhawk does have his helmet, wings and claw thing to break up the block of grey, but it's not enough. Black Widow has a similar colour scheme around this time, with a grey bodysuit and metallic wrist things, but at least with her you've got the vibrant red of her hair to provide some contrast. Not so with Darkhawk, although who knows under that helmet?

(I do know, and no.)

Even the logo is uninspired. They could have got some sort of bird or wing motif in there, but no, let's just do block capitals with a perspective slant. Job done, let's go down the pub.

It's an odd comic. It seems to be going for gritty urban crime in tone, and Mike Manley draws it like that -- and well, to be fair -- but then a teen superhero turns up and shoots lasers out of his nipples. This should be a bit of a clash, but because the superhero has this grey, featureless design, that clash doesn't quite happen. Perhaps that was deliberate, but I don't have any confidence that it is, because it more feels like bored creators going through the motions.

I've given the comic a bit of a kicking here, which isn't quite fair because it's not bad by any means. The only dodgy bit is the pacing and the rest of it is fine, but it all feels so oppressive in its dingy dullness that I can't say it was good either. You want a brand new character to make a splash, but this is about as splashy as a puddle on a rainy day in Peterborough.

I give Darkhawk #1 two Cables.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Some Clever Pun About the Contra Games, or the Iran-Contra Affair, or Something

Contraband is a 144-page graphic novel from TJ Behe, Phil Elliott, Ian Sharman, and Cherie Donovan, with a cover by Marcus Hohl. I'm reviewing the 2008 edition from Slave Labor Graphics, but a new edition is being released in May 2021 by Markosia. I believe that the only major change is the cover; pictured is the new cover design.

The graphic novel is set in what was probably an alternate future in 2008, but is more like an alternate present these days, in which all the buzz is generated by "citizen journalists" using their smartphones to record the world around them, freed from requirements foisted upon them by editorial departments, advertisers, or shareholders. With this democratisation of content comes a darker side, with the app/network Contraband chasing and encouraging sensationalist content, most often of a violent nature, and offering cash for ever more extreme footage.

(Isn't it weird that we still call it footage, even though video isn't measured in literal feet any more? I wonder if that term will ever go out of use?)

Contraband is too plausible to be science fiction, as aside from one notable exception, most of the technology is commonplace now, although it perhaps wasn't in 2008; Contraband itself is more or less TikTok, only eight years early, so that's some eerie prescience from Behe. It's also not quite a technothriller, because there aren't many car chases or explosions, although there are a couple of both. The most appropriate genre is probably some sort of modern noir, given how everyone and everything in its world is awful. It does remind me a bit of Black Mirror, but I hesitate to compare the two because (a) the original book predates the TV series by three years, and (2) I've always thought that Black Mirror was a bit rubbish, and this is much better.

(There's your quote: "Like Black Mirror, only not rubbish!")

The story follows Toby, a cafe worker and one of these citizen journalists, who one day records the wrong person and then gets drawn into a conflict between the creators of the Contraband network and the activists who see it as a social ill and wish to shut it down. It unfolds as a sort of low-key espionage thriller as Toby becomes a double agent, being pulled by both sides while trying to keep his head down and stay alive, and also find one of the activists, who has been kidnapped and is being tortured live on Contraband.

The art team give the book a lo-fi indie feel, which fits in well with the idea of all of this happening at a street level, below the noses of governments and big media corporations. A more flashy look would have probably been a bit of a stylistic clash, because it's a grubby story about a grubby world. The storytelling is clear throughout and the shifts from slower, talky scenes to the more energetic action sequences are well handled.

In terms of writing, the characterisation is good, in particular the "villain", Tucker, who comes across as a complete scumbag, as befits someone who runs a video-sharing network that encourages people to beat each other up in parks for money. The protagonist Toby is also well-written, stuck between powerful forces and forced to serve two masters; it would be an easy mistake to write him like an idiotic slasher movie victim, someone who could get out of the mess they are in if only they were less stupid, but it always feels like Toby is in an impossible situation with no easy escape. Charlotte, the kidnapped activist, is another character that could have been mishandled but works well, off-panel for most of the book as the unseen impetus for Toby's quest, but in true noirish tradition, it's not quite that simple, and from the very first pages -- and in flashbacks throughout -- we see that she is no weak-willed damsel-in-distress.

The plotting is also strong, with good use of flashbacks to add context and texture to the main kidnap storyline, and it all culminates in a perfect noir ending complete with twists and turns that upend things again and again, and force you to look at the characters in new ways, even as you turn the final page. The twists feel earned, too, even one final revelation that could have come across as arbitrary, but just about works.

Jarvis Stevens, the chief activist opposing Contraband, doesn't quite work as well. He feels a bit undefined in comparison to Tucker, and his pro-legislation stance appears to be portrayed as an inherent good, which feels a bit odd in a book that overall seems to want to be counter-cultural. I suspect the first is a deliberate choice to contrast the leaders of the two factions, but the latter feels a bit off; by the end of the book it's clear that there are no real heroes or villains, which makes Jarvis less of a shining white knight, but I'm not sure Behe makes the right moves to get there, and it feels less like a twist and more like a mis-step. NOt a huge one, I should clarify, and while it may distract a little, it doesn't harm the book.

The script is also overly wordy in a few places. You'll get a panel which looks like it's taking about five seconds of time but there are reams of text that would take five minutes to actually speak. In fairness, it only happens a couple of times and only in the first half of the book, but it does make a few scenes difficult to get through.

All that said, I like Contraband quite a bit. It's entertaining and interesting throughout, and delivers a satisfying ending that caps everything off in a perfect way; I've written enough things -- including reviews! -- to know that the climax is often the most difficult thing to get right. You can write 140 good pages, but if the last four don't work, then more often than not, the whole thing fails. That's not the case here. It's a bit of a cliché to say so when you're talking about this sort of subject matter but I am also impressed with how prescient the core idea is; in 2008 it probably came across as a bit of an oddity, but in 2021 it feels like sharp social commentary.

Anyway. Contraband good. Buy it if you like stories about the effects of social media on society, or you want to see how noir can be updated to the modern day without devolving into pastiche.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Monday, March 29, 2021

King Atacres the Undying

Atacres II was cursed by a wizard and never died. He has ruled for four centuries, because the laws of succession state what happens when a ruler dies, but not what happens if the ruler lives on past death, and since the king is the final arbiter of the nation's laws...

(Constitutional experts were surprised to discover that there is no law against undead heads-of-state. According to sages, it "just never came up".)

Atacres is over 400 years into his reign now, and his descendants -- the so-called "Rulers-in-Waiting" -- have had mixed opinions over the centuries. Revolutionary efforts have faltered because Atacres is, despite appearances, a fair and popular king, and trying to depose him based on his unfortunate... condition looks an awful lot like bigotry and prejudice, and everyone knows that a successful revolution these days is all about good optics.

That said, Atacres' relationship with his own state church is strained. The king is wary of clerics and paladins and will only grant audiences at a distance, or through intermediaries. One over-zealous -- pun intended -- holy man spaffing Turn Undead in the throne room, and all of Atacres II's hard work is up in smoke, or dust, or whatever the D on the Turn Undead table signifies.

The king's attitude to other undead creatures is complicated and evolving. He considers himself (un)living proof that not all undead creatures are soul-sucking monsters, but fears challenging his people's view of the walking dead. Rumours persist that he has held secret meetings with liches, vampires, and other high-functioning corpses.


That image of Atacres popped into my head one day -- probably a weird after-effect of The Event™ -- and I thought he had potential, perhaps as an unusual NPC, the sort of thing a D&D party would go try to kill most days of the week. There's probably also a bit of an influence from Steven Erikson's "friendly" lich Bursting With Wit, from Blood Follows.

In terms of game statistics, Atacres is probably either some sort of lich with no magical powers, or a beefed up skeleton with the charisma and intelligence of your standard rpg wise king archetype.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Marvel 1991: Silver Surfer #46

This should be nice and quick, because nothing happens. Well, sort of.

The Silver Surfer is trapped inside the Soul Gem, meets a bunch of other characters, walks around for a bit, and has an inconclusive chat with Adam Warlock. Meanwhile Gamora fights Drax in order to distract him so he doesn't destroy the Soul gem -- and everyone trapped within -- through sheer force of will. Or something.

At the time the comic was published, the characters the Surfer meets in the Soul Gem had not been seen for over a decade, and after such a long time it would probably be quite exciting to see them again. In 2021, when the same characters -- apart from Pip the Troll -- are, if not household names, at least well known through being the stars of a successful film franchise, the impact is somewhat lessened, and the actual weakness of the story is clear. The big selling point is the return of these characters, and without that there's not much going on.

Ron Lim's artwork is okay. The linework and storytelling are clear, but there's nothing that impresses or surprises. It's a good, solid, functional job, but it's far from exciting.

All in all, it's fine but stripped of its main schtick it just feels flat. Time has not been kind to Silver Surfer #46, and I award it just two Cables.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Cinematic, Yes?

It's #DrawDeathsHeadDay again! And I almost missed it, again!

This is based, of course, on the cover of Death's Head II #1 from 1992, and the beheaded, er, Head, is the version of the character that apparently appears in the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, although I didn't spot him!

(He's one of the Collector's exhibits, I'm told.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Marvel 1991: Excalibur #34

Oh dear. We have fallen very far behind with these. The good news is that of the seven issues I picked for February, all but two were either unavailable, or were comics I have read before so have been rejected on the basis that the whole point of this endeavour was to see what 1990s comics were like, which doesn't work if I've already read them.

No such danger here, as the only issue of Excalibur I have read before is the one where they go to the pub -- because Warren Ellis -- and this one is... very different.

This is "School Spirit (or Cheerleaders from Heck)", so called because in the A plot, Kitty Pryde and her school friends travel to London to enter a cheerleading competition at half time in a match between the New York Giants and the British Yeoman -- "Britain's 1st professional 'American' football team" that never appears again, according to every wiki I can find -- because that's something that British schoolgirls do.

(It isn't.)

Although, to be fair, that is the sort of weird plot that would turn up in a British kids' comic -- school hockey team ends up at the Olympics by accident, that sort of thing -- although I rather suspect it is not a deliberate homage to Tammy or Jinty.

There is also a B plot involving the rest of the Excalibur team, Mesmero, and the Fenris twins, but it's somewhat forgettable and doesn't go anywhere interesting before it clashes with the cheerleading stuff later on. In fairness, this is billed as part three of three, so there was probably more of the Mesmero plot in the first two parts, but even so I imagine it's a bit of a limp ending to that story. On the plus side, I love the costume design of the twins, even if it is basically 2000AD's Zenith. Maybe I like it because it's 2000AD's Zenith.

This is Chris Claremont's final issue of Excalibur, which I was surprised to discover, because it feels a bit like a half-hearted fill-in rather than a grand finale. I would not be surprised to find out that Claremont was sacked, or got burned out, or some similar behind-the-scenes drama. The main plot, despite its odd, almost twee, feel, isn't bad but the rest is a bit naff, as if the writer lost all enthusiasm in what he was doing. There is also some... unfortunate scripting here and there; Claremont's attempt at an African-American voice is cringeworthy at best, and a schoolgirl asking Nightcrawler "Is that tail really prehensile?" is not something I imagine would be okay even in 1991.

Art comes from Ron Wagner, who draws in an unexpected style that feels quite retro. Yes, I know the comic is from 1991 so it is, in fact, retro, but there's none of the contemporary not-yet-Image style here. Wagner uses lots of angular lines and sweeping curves, that make characters look almost like architecture than people. That said, there's an element of expressive cartooning in the storytelling and there's a lot of personality in the faces and body language. It feels quite European, which I suppose is appropriate enough, and I like it a lot.

(I wasn't sure I had read any Ron Wagner comics before, although the name was familiar, so I looked him up and discovered that he often got into trouble for "insertion of sexually explicit content into his backgrounds" on Morbius: The Living Vampire, which is quite funny. Oh, and it turns out he pencilled Spitfire and the Troubleshooters #3, which I have read as a back-up in Marvel UK's Transformers, and is probably how I recognise the name.)

I suspect this isn't considered a classic issue of Excalibur, and it's an underwhelming final issue for one of comics' most prominent writers, but it's not awful. I'll give it three Cables out of five.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Where It Is At

This is me a couple of weeks ago:

I was in accident and emergency, having been rushed there by the ambulance, after a mysterious seizure™. I had a previous mysterious seizure™ a couple of years ago and, after a barrage of tests, they couldn't say what it was or what caused it, but I was told if it happened again to call an ambulance.

So that's what happened.

Again, no idea what it was or why it happened. A repeated round of tests lies in my near future, so we'll see if something comes of those. I doubt there will be any answers.

It took about a week to recover, and then I was catching up with work missed during that week, so that's why blogging has slowed, and why we haven't done any February comics for Marvel 1991. Things are a bit more normal now -- I still have a bit of a fuzzy head and am occasionally confused by things that shouldn't confuse me -- so expect more content soon.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Octopath Strangler

The dread Mantopus. Or Octoman. Name TBC.

I may have posted a black and white version of this earlier, but I had to do a colour version so I thought I would post it.

Content has ground to a halt of late because of a bit of personal drama I may share in a future post. I hope to get back to stuff soon, not least the Marvel 1991 project, because that's slipping further and further behind!

Friday, February 26, 2021

Werewolf Gauntlets

These furry, clawed, mittens are made from the arms -- forepaws? -- of a werewolf. They look somewhat ridiculous but can be surprisingly deadly. It is said that they were created by the infamous armourer Malarck.

The gauntlets do 1d4 damage but are bulky and unwieldy and make it impossible to pick up or manipulate objects.

The gauntlets detect as magical, and also as cursed, if such a detection ability is available in your game.

Work out what day the full moon is this month -- either in game or in real life -- or pick a number between 1 and 30. Every time a character puts on the gauntlets, roll a d30; if the number matches the day of the full moon, or the number you picked, then the following effects occur:

  • The character is frenzied and must save versus spells in order to break off from hand-to-hand combat, or to remove the gauntlets.
  • The gauntlets have a chance of infecting those injured by them with lycanthropy. Use whatever rules for lycanthropy exist in your game of choice, or refer to the guidelines below.
  • Anyone infected by the gauntlets has a 7% chance of being possessed by the spirit of the werewolf that was killed to make them, and will be consumed by the desire to avenge themself upon the current owner of the weapons. Yes, the original werewolf was none too clever.
D&D-type Lycanthropy: Any character who loses half their hit points to the gauntlets in a single battle contracts the disease and will turn into a werewolf at the next full moon. Or you can pick a number and roll a d30 as above. Whichever is most fun.

(I have a text file on my computer containing weird names that I think I could use in a story or adventure one day. In there, for some reason, is "Werewolf Gauntlets". I see Mr Gauntlets as some sort of Victorian action detective, perhaps, but until then, you get this.)