Monday, August 17, 2020

Retrocommentary On The Free Skywald Comics Download - 'The Saga Of The Victims' Your Old School Alternative 1970's Rpg Campaigns


Grab It Right Over
"The Saga of the Victims" originally appeared Scream 6-9 & 11
from the 1970's Skywald publishing company. Skywald never really played it 'safe' skirting
the lines of good taste, horror, and pure grind house awesomeness. According to wiki -
Skywald Publications was a 1970s publisher of black-and-white comics magazines, primarily the horror anthologies NightmarePsycho, and Scream. It also published a small line of comic books and other magazines. Skywald's first publication was Nightmare #1 (Dec. 1970). The company lasted through the end of 1974 or early 1975, with Psycho #24 (March 1975) being its final publication. Nightmare published 23 issues and Scream put out 11 issues." Saga of the Victims is a pulpy, weird trippy, over the top beyond gonzo horror comic from the folks at Skywald publications.  Scream issue number 6 featured the introduction to the Saga of the victims, tells  the story of two young girls from the Scollard Manse School for Girls in Manhattan, where they are kidnapped by horrific mutants  in the Manse and dragged deep down into the depths of the school right into the underworld of alternative Earth. This is only the beginning for the ladies of Saga. But there are several very unusual characteristics about our heroines. First of all the ladies are very,very, slick and skilled. They don't just overcome their circumstances they kick ass and survive. There was also cheesecake, bondage/fetish overtones, sci-fi and horror trappings and lots and lots of crazy 1960s-style cosmic weirdness. The ladies  look to be based on actress Teresa Graves and actress  Britt Ekland who both very popular at the time.

But they could have both been based on Pam Grier and Margaret Markov, then starring in a bunch of low-budget exploitation sword and sandal films  like The Arena. Which for my purposes is closer to the grindhouse feel that I'd be going for with this sort of a campaign. Today I might do this campaign with either Castles & Crusades Siege engine  or as an Adventurer,Conqueror, King rpg domain campaign. 
The heroines were very unusual, Josey our African  heroine is rich, smart, confident and a skilled combatant. Ann from Washington, DC is smart, crafty, good with her hands, and capable of murder when the situation calls for it. The adventuresses go from one troubling scene to another with wonderful artwork by  Jesus Manuel (Suso) Rego was one of the premier comic illustrators of the time. Not only were these heroines capable of out thinking their tormentors they did it with style and murderous wit  that I've only seen matched a few times.  The ladies faced everything from  skinless businessmen, robots, pterodactyls, midget Nazis, zombie pirates, mutants, and worse. The problem is that there was never any resolution that I've seen, Skywald went belly up before the ending could be revealed.
As other comic blogs have described the series as 'the strip was quite simply a wild ride of exploitation glee with each episode the girls getting put through increasingly more terrifying scenarios with little no rhyme or reason as to why what was happening or where it all was heading (leaving the reader to think creator Hewetson must have been thinking 'what misery can I put the girls through this episode? The material seems quite tame by today's standards.  But I don't really think that this is one for the kids.

Skywald always had much more of a 'the weird just happens' attitude towards its comic and horror material. Elements were warped in, completely exploited for the sake of the series and they just were. This makes it perfect for exploitation by a DM for adventure design. Crazy over the top pulpy weird settings, a ton of monsters to throw at players, and lots of non PC action.
Deconstructing the Saga of The Victims
For Your Old School Campaigns

Saga of the Victims has several reasons for use; the comic series isn't that well known today. The disappearance of the two main characters is sure to be noticed by several organization that can be brought into play. The Saga's characters make excellent NPC's and could possibly be  run into during the course of play. The modern guns, 1970's style equipment and vehicles stats could be downloaded from the OSR library blog.

The Saga's characters both have United Nations connections and are both skilled fighters in their own right. There could well be conspiracy or occult connections linking the PC's to the adventure events of the Saga.
There are several reasons I can think off the top of my head for using Saga; 
  1. The Saga's heroines are confident, skilled, fighter class heroines right out of the gate.
  2. The conspiracy theory, the 'Insearch of' 1970's occult revival exploitation angle is ripe for fleshing out for an old school LoFP game campaign or even a Dungeon Cult Classics game. 
  3. Very quick scene and setting switches between adventure and worlds in the comic series just let's the world happen around the action. 
  4. The weird elements of the Saga doesn't care, it just is and it happens in that trippy grind house sort of pulp way. 
  5. Mature themes in the saga while troubling seem almost tame today. They're prime to be exploited for pulpy adventure by a DM with a bit of slight of hand two step DMing. 
  6. The world settings of saga could be linked to form a planar or dimensional mega dungeon structure. 
  7. The character's of the Saga's background are ripe for pulp or weird campaign histories. 
  8. The weird 1970's psychedelic horror and sci fi themes of Saga are perfect LoFP grist for the mill. 
  9. The open ended nature of Saga means that anything can and might happen. 
  10. There are plenty of loot, open ended relics, factions, etc. for a DM to have old school expansion. 

Here's what might work for a modern 'Saga of The Victims''s style campaign. The PC's are bounty hunters, soldiers, etc. all working for the United Nations to try & track down the girls. This means that they have to travel from one domain 'dungeon' or 'adventure location' to another. The party can claim these planar domains & exploit them as needed within the campaign. This is where the Menace From The Inner Earth - 'Big Jim's P.A.C.K.' Campaign Hook & Lost World Challenge blog entry comes into play. 

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