Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cosmic Hi Jinks - Commentary On Nexus's The Infinite City rpg & First Comics Series Warp With Even More OSR Overtones

My working/playing  copy of Nexus The Infinite City so used with the cover worn off.

So I spent the last couple of days in the presence of the royal family of Cynosure, yeah that's right we're in for more Nexus The Infinite City & First Comics commentary. So the Wikipedia entry on the pan dimensional city of Cynosure reads;"
Cynosure is a fictional pan-dimensional city that exists within the First Comics multiverse.[1][2][3] It is described as floating in a "bubble" in the "pan-dimensional vortex." Because of its unique situation, Cynosure is an important center of multi-versal commerce and much of the city's government is geared toward maintaining favorable trading conditions.
Different zones of the city operate under different physical laws because of the proximity of other dimensions. Guns and other technology work in some parts of the city and not others. Similarly, magic is operable some places and not others. Swords generally work everywhere. Different dimensions variously move in and out of phase with Cynosure, regularly in some instances and randomly in others. Occasionally dimensions will seemingly exist entirely within the confines of Cynosure, as for example the so-called "snowball dimensions" which roam throughout the city, or at "Infinity Lanes," a bowling alley in which each lane is a separate dimension.
Perhaps the most noted resident of Cynosure is John Gaunt, also known as Grimjack. His fate is uniquely tied to that of the city, as he is doomed to be reincarnated for as long as the city exists. This doom came about when Gaunt voluntarily walked out of Heaven to save the life of a friend who, if he were to die, would have been condemned forever to Hell. It is through Grimjack's experiences during two of his incarnations (Gaunt and James Twilley) that much of what is known about Cynosure was revealed."  Its also completely wrong & our favorite pan dimensional city predates Grimjack by an entire comic book series and setting. Going all of the way back to 1983 when Warp issue #1 premiered with 'The Coming of  Lord Cumulus'  a cover by the classic Frank Brunner graced the cover .

Wait, what the heck is Warp? "Wasn't that a comic book style super hero broad way play way back in the 1970's & early 80's? " , the hard core comic book fans reading this  are saying this  right now. Yes it was.
"Warp!, also spelled Warp, was an American science-fiction play created at Chicago, Illinois' Organic Theatre Company in 1971 by co-authors Stuart Gordon and Lenny Kleinfeld, the latter under the pseudonym Bury St. Edmund"
Issue one follows the 1973 broad way production of Warp!  pretty closely except with a few minor but points.
"David Carson, an everyday bank teller, learns that he is Lord Cumulus, "avenger of the universe & protector of Cynosure ". Suddenly transported from an annual employee-awards dinner to the mystical realm Fen-Ra, he finds himself battling for the destiny of the multi universe  against his brother &  antagonist  Prince Chaos. In this world, he encounters the sage & wizard Lugulbanda who sends him on his quest aided by the leather-clad Amazon warrior Sargon Mistress of War. They battle Valaria the insect sorceress and Chaos' henchman, the purple ape Symax"
Here's where things get interesting the citizens of Fen Ra are essentially gods not unlike DC comics New Gods or The Externals. God like cosmic beings who have all of the foibles of humanity with all of that power eternal. Lord Cumulus is one of the biggest jerks I've encountered in science fantasy, he's like this over the top Prince Charming on steroids with the power cosmic who messes things up. In fact the entire line of citizens are flawed & many are betrayers throughout the series. The families & citizens of Fen Ra have a lot in common with the Roman gods of mythology & more modern incarnations of  flawed demi gods such as featured in the work of Roger Zelazny's  Amber and the Courts of Chaos.
These holy royal bloodlines all back reference P.J. Farmer's World of Tiers series of novels which also uses and exploits many of the Golden & pulp age setting ideas & world building. That series also back references one of my all time favorite myth makers  William Blake's mythology.
"The Jadawin family (or at least their names) are taken from William Blake's mythology.[2] This mythology is referred to by the characters in the stories (mainly in The Gates of CreationRed Orc's Rage, and More than Fire)." "

This series was later homaged (ripped off) for the classic & some what infamous rpg system  Lords of Creation by Tom Moldvey for  Avalon Hill. The World of Tiers was also talked about in the classic
From the City of Brass to Dead Orc Pass in One Easy Step
Alts: Theory and use of gates: From the city of Brass... to dead Orc Pass in a Dragon magazine article in issue #37 & The Best of Dragon #2.

This all ties back into the roll of Lord Protector of Cynosure really. How? Well way back in Warp issue #7 we learn about Cynosure and that earlier incarnations of Lord Cumulus was the Lord Protector of the pan dimensional city

"The Lord Protector of Cynosure is an artificial being constructed from cells and energies representing all of the various dimensions. As a result, The Lord Protector is charged with vast reality warping powers to be used in the preservation of the city. During Gaunt's time, the Lord Protector was Phaeton. He was killed and possessed during Dancer's second rebellion and Gaunt and his allies created a new Lord Protector from a cloned being infused with the essence of a sorceress called Sphinx. It is unknown if there continues to be a Lord Protector in Twilley's time. Lord Cumulus also spent much time on Cynosure and was idolized by the citizens. After his untimely death, many others including Phaeton tried to replace him. "

This in fact was the set up for the Demon Wars for when the last issue of Warp wrapped up there were a lot of loose ends that were picked up in later issues of  Grimjack. Personally I was always a Prince Chaos fan (the brother to our 'hero') & a 10th level super scientist in his own right with the ego to match. He's so over the top that he deserves his own blog entry on his own but that's another time.

So what's all of this have to do with Nexus The Infinite City & Gamma World First & Second Edition? There is a lot of water under the bridge with this one so excuse me if I take my time with Warp. There were a lot of realities that were left broken & time lines screwed up in the wake of the disappearance of both Lord Cumulus & Prince Chaos. These also included several dimensional realities where the Ancient's touch off the apocalypse because of their absence. In fact the ending of this series paved the way for Starslayer & Grimjack.

Warp exploited a lot of comic book pardon the pun here comic book tropes & with the disappearance of Lord Cumulus at its end set in motion a series of cosmic events that I turned into full blown campaign cycles that the PC's had to wrap up. They never even encountered Fen Ra but they sure did encounter a number of trade house NPC's & several PC's that traced their watered down royal  blood back to Fen Ra, The Courts of Amber, William Blake's various mythological family members. Later I would use Warp as a sort of blue print to create my own arching families of flawed demi gods for deeper Nexus The Infinite City play.

Warp by First comics is so over the top that it's a great resource for not only Nexus but Dungeon Crawl Classics and other OSR systems! May you never get fleas from the fur of the
purple ape Symax!

Keep em rolling folks!

This blog post is for educational & entertainment purposes only and is not a challenge to the trade marks or copyrights of any to first comics or the holders of the Grimjack  or Warp copy rights or trade marks. Nor Nexus The Infinite City. None of the role playing games mentioned in this blog entry are responsible for it. This blog post is for entertainment & educational purposes only

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