Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Free OSR Comic Resource Download - Strange Worlds Issue #2 For Your Old School Campaigns

I've been a huge fan of pre and post code comic books, Strange Worlds from Ace Periodicals has been my ace in the hole for old school gaming for years. The series which ran for twenty two issues sort of. According to wiki: The first comic-book series to be titled Strange Worlds ran 15 issues published in two sequences by Avon Comics. Issues #1-10 ran cover-dated November 1950 to November 1952. No issues #11-17 were released, and the series began publication again with #18, having taken over the numbering of the defunct Avon comic Eerie. This second sequence ran through issue #22 (Oct./Nov. 1954 - Sept./Oct. 1955). One ongoing feature in the otherwise anthological title was "Kenton of the Star Patrol".

Grab It Right Over HERE
While Avon was a minor comics publisher in relation to such contemporaneous industry leaders as Atlas Comics, DC Comics, and EC Comics, the series featured artwork by such top talents as Wally Wood, who would soon go on to become an industry star at EC; Joe Kubert, later a signature artist of DC's Hawkman and Sgt. Rock; portrait painter Everett Raymond Kinstler and Western-art painter Charles Sultan, early in their careers; and seminal African-American comics artist Alvin C. Hollingsworth a.k.a. Alvin Holly.
Which brings me to issue two of the series; the reason for using this issue is three fold :This issue features both sword and sorcery tales as well crossover points for games with two very distinct characters including Crom & a  giant featured in the tale is a apparently a mutated Hill Giant or a Nephilim  from Old . Crom also features the public domain realm of Ophir which is perfect to nab for your favorite sword and sorcery campaign. The Giant From Beyond has a lot going for it, we've got sword and sorcery action plus lost world giant dinosaurs and more. Personally I think the whole lot could be dovetailed right into Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea.
The second tale the 'Weapon Out Of Time' is one of those weird modern vs sword and sorcery crossover tales with a throw away kingdom and several other factions. But the big draw here is telepathically controlled prehistoric riding tigers! Yeah this is a perfect tale to retro use when you need a throw away kingdom off in some corner of the campaign with a nifty backstory to it. This story has everything one could want for use as a basic adventure for any retrofuture space going salvage game. The adventure location is a space dungeon, you've got clear reasons for the salvage and a weird one shot menace or even the makings of a whole cycle with the introduction of a brand new NPC vile villain race in the form of the Octopus Kings.

'Octopus Kings of the Lost Planet' is the cover story and is fairly pedestrian affair but the Octopus kings themselves are awesome. These things could make a grand appearance in any game! I've used them several times for LoFP and even in AS&SH as an NPC villain race.
Octopus Kings in my Accursed Atlantis Campaign look something like this as a racial class :  -6 Charisma +4 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -3 Constitution, and the ability to cast spells pulling from the black magicians lists. These beings often worship Cthulhu, Leviathan, several alien Petty gods or other patrons. They have dark vision up to 30 feet and keen hearing. Use stats for a giant octopus or larger creature; these things can walk on land and sport an additional 1d4 mutations. They also have a poisonous bite which a victim must save vs poison or take 1d4 points of damage per round as the vicious venom worms its way through the body finally ravaging the heart.
Dara of the Vikings is another public domain character featured in a lost land and I've used her many, many, times as a cross over point NPC perfectly suited to bring modern characters into Accursed Atlantis into the Norsemen' lands. She's a 5th level barbarian and I've dropped the whole victim mentality and she uses a +2 bow and her father's relic magic sword. But according to the PDSH wiki: Dara was a 20th century viking woman who lived in the secluded village of Tine, near a cove of moderate climate, presumably located near Northern Greenland. The village had been settled in 1361 when Druil, the Heroic landed there. Dara was the daughter of Druil, though it is unclear if her people were immortal, or if there had been more than one Druil. Dara and her father were keepers of the Golden Bow of Rolfe the Mighty, which required great strength to use and could penetrate a target 400 yards away. The bow was used to keep another viking clan, led by Cyngar, at bay. Eventually, Ford Robbins and Gene Dorn of the United States found Tine after their plane went down in the North Atlantic. After Cyngar was defeated, they decided to stay with the vikings.

What really interests me is the fact that the public domain location of Tine is weird and I do mean really weird. There's entire time lost village of Vikings caught in the middle of a time warp and no one's noticed? Tine isn't simply a village; its a time lost realm whose half giant kin of Northmen are just waiting to be used. Personally I think that you've got Dara being simply amused by her charges and quietly looking after them before the two little American men get broken and broken very badly. I get the feeling that lurking around the horizon of this realm are some very nasty and dangerous monsters. Tine could be a sorcerous fixed point in time where adventurers might crossover time and again. A lost world waiting to snare adventurers from all kinds of retroclones. A place likely to attract the attention of some of the powers from this book. Lusus-Naturae features some the most dangerous dimensional ravagers and exploiters this side Carcosa.  Another thought I've had is that Dara's world is actually a post apocalyptic fantasy world that has experienced some sort of dimensional devastation. Perhaps the Americans can't leave because they simply won't. There was also some implication that the Vikings were somehow immortal. If this realm loops back on itself through time dying might actually be an option at all. This was something I discussed with friends the other night. Perhaps Golden Bow of Rolfe the Mighty, is +2 bow of strength used for killing monsters and it has some very,very, bad side effects from use. Undeath,mutation, or perhaps even something far worse. I've used time with Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea and it was a hit in those games because of its odd nature.

Reading through this issue I was confronted by the realities of another retrofuture game I recently ran using the Lamentations of the Flame Princess system and another public domain comic book resource. You can find out all about that right over HERE
There are few ways in which this particular issue can be used for multiple retroclone platforms; Strange Worlds features both a mix of science fantasy as well as sword & sorcery. You sure got your ten cents worth back then.  The retrofuture technology of Strange Worlds is perfectly handled by Mutant Future or even some of the material in Carcosa.  Basically because of the nature of DYI post apocalyptic gaming the more successful worlds are created from the ground up and then peppered with the dungeon master's take on the PA setting as they like it. Overtime PA settings are likely to grow and change as the play style and needs of the players evolve with the setting. This issue of Strange Worlds allows exactly that for Dungeon Masters to work with as they see fit.

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