Map Friday - Featuring MapForge

With the fever behind me I now find myself on the cusp of the weekend, that time when family and real world needs take precedence over the more ephemeral aspects of my life.  There was a lot of ground I wanted to cover this week including a review of the Stranger Things D&D boxset, a look at Auras Beyond, and finishing up the Eira patreon ... unfortunately wishing for the icy hand of death for three days does not lend well to productivity.


That said I did manage one feat ... and truly it was a feat.  I finally sat down and used the MapForge software.  MapForge (currently in it's 1.0.9 release) is a 2017-ish kickstarter for a user-friendly (with commercial option) battlemap creator that I jumped on almost immediately because I have the delusion that I can DO ALL THE PRODUCTION on my own.  I played with it during it 0.0.# days and found it to be perfectly fine for the state it was in but wanted to hold back until later for anything else ... I had three issues when coming back to it for the patreon map.
  1. Re-registering is a mess and pretty much almost took me out of it as a user, I currently dread the 1.1.0 release as it means having to go through the entire process again and I truly hope that the Mapforge team can get something going that updates the build without me losing my licenses every time.
  2. Compared to my video the program now is a hell of a lot more sluggish than it previously was and more prone to script related crashes.  As this is not commercial yet I can understand that ... but I also lost my map 3 times due to crashing so I was a bit miffed at that.
  3. Finally while I didn't intend for this map to go commercial there is no labels in the resource selection to tell me what is personal use and what is commercial.  I had to go to the MapForge webstore to see what was commercial ... not the best option for brainstorming a dungeon's field when you don't immediately know what is and isn't legal to use.
Despite my issues with the software, I still found it to be the most intuitive of the map creators to use.  The closest second is Pyromancer and while I enjoy its features and have used it professionally in the past, the browser based nature of it makes it a tad less reliable to me.

The Map


In the coming adventure the players are invited by a Rogen Alpha to join an expedition to the Eastern Fens of Fellarfen where it is believed an Inferna temple may be hidden.  The Inferna are a people out of Rogen Legend, a malevolent race twisted by pacts with the Elderkind, who once sought dominion over Era in the island's earliest days.  The Rogen Alpha believes the temple may be the resting place of the Sword of Light Dawning, a blade given to the first Rogen leader by Ei herself.

The temple/dungeon is a two level affair with level one shown here,  Secret door type tiles have yet to be added into Mapforge so some trickery was needed to add the secret door to the northwest of the entry stairs.  Outside of the that the lighting should indicate to a party of adventures that magics are still active in this location ... 

Tales of Eira - d6 Fantasy begins

When this blog first started back in 2012 it was subtitled "OSR with a Celtic Twist".  At the time much of my efforts were bent toward the creation, maintenance, and sharing of the loose OSR setting I used for the home game I ran for my daughter and her friends.

This setting was called "Chronicles of Eira"  and if you look back at one of my first releases you can see Eira is in the title.

As time passed though and my daughter and her friends moved in different directions gaming wise I too found myself moving to the vaguely post-apocalyptic Lands of Usarm setting.  For the next five years that is where my efforts lay through adventures like Joy in a Flask, Assault on the Southern Horn and finally in the huge Pyramid of the Lost King.

During this time though Eira was still there in the back of my head, always a whisper but never moving quite a way from that ... until, that is, my daughter convinced my wife to play a new home game.  Now, my wife has never been the biggest fan of gaming ... she'd much rather be out hiking or exploring a cave system.  With this in mind I went with Open d6 (Mini-Six variation to be exact) since my wife had enjoyed my P.I.E. adventures during playtest.

Eira came to life immediately in this new system, the world blowing up all around me ... below is a sample part of a playtest manifesto (if you will) that I am subjecting my Patrons too in the coming weeks ... This is just the beginning histories, races, the land itself will be remolded and refined as time moves forward ... but if you like the core please give me your thoughts.


Eira FAQ

Tales of Eira is an in-development High Fantasy setting for Mini-Six from Genius Loci Games that takes inspiration from Japanese anime like Record of Lodoss War, Tower of Druga, and JRPGs like Final Fantasy and Wild Arms.  The purpose of this short adventure is to highlight some aspects of the world of Eira, acting as a creation mechanism in and of itself.  That said …

The island of Eira exists to the northwest of the continent of Eurys formed long ago from the primordial energies of the world by the goddess of the Scales and Life; Ei.  Meant as a way to test the immortal spirits of the mortal races of the universe, Eira was a land whose beauty hid a heart filled with strife and contradiction.  For a time, the races of Eira – the cat-like Caitsth; the monstrous but loyal Rogen; and the secretive Fay - lived in un-easy peace, even coming together time after time to fight against strange creatures and invaders from other lands.

That all changed when the Adama appeared with weapons, armor, and machines that the races of Eira had never encountered.  The Adama, from the Secerian Empire that controlled much of Eurys had not let a vast ocean stop them from the immortal march of conquest and soon Eira’s races were crushed and subjected under the rule of the Seceria.  For more than a hundred year, the Caitsth, Fay, and Rogen lived and worked as soldiers, slaves, traders all in the name of the Empire.  That is until a new force appeared on the northern shores of Eira, a strange race escaping from a storm of war and chaos far to the west.  The Dwarves, stewards of the heart of the Earth gathered the people of Eira together and soon drove the Adama to the southern plains of Eira.  There the Secerians built a wall while holding off near constant attacks from the people of Eira. 

Now, nearly a hundred years later, an uneasy peace rules Eira.  In the south the Secerian Empire builds cities of marble and metal, while the races of Eira control the north and save for some towns and villages have gone their separate ways.  Only the dwarves freely travel across the face of Eira moving amongst the races and making a home where they can, while trying to maintain the identity of their people and homelands.

Races:

Caitsth

Racial Cost +2 Perk Points (Perks - Cat-Form, Dark-Vision; Flaws - strange appearance)

Cat-like fay with the ability to take on a human-like appearance.  Caitsth are natural pranksters, with a wanderlust that rivals the Adama in how it influences their action.  In human form the Caitsth retain the ears, tails, and eyes of their natural feline form.

Fay

Racial Cost:  +2 Perk Points (Perks - Fight 60’, Natural Magic (-2 to all TN 20 or Lower spells), Nature Speak; Flaws - Extreme small size 8”, Glow  30’, )

These small beings stand between 6 and 8 inches in height and have a natural glow that changes color depending on their emotions.  A secretive race, the Fay rarely left their forest homes until the Secerian invasion where their small size and natural magical affinities came into great use against the Adama foes.

Rogen

Racial Cost +2 Perk Points (Perks - Wolf-Form, Dark-Vision; Flaws - Magical Null)

Rogen are believed to be the oldest race of Eira, harkening back to its creation by the Goddess Ei.  The Rogen see themselves as the protectors and guardians of Eira and where the first to fall to the Secerian Empire.  Now, they are a society that is broken, split into many packs and with no clear leadership of directions in this new Eira.

Dwarves

Racial Cost +2 Perk Points (Perks – Dark-Vision, Immune to Poisons; Flaws – Stranger in a Strange Land)

Only a tenth of the Dwarven people made the perilous journey from their homelands across the western seas.  Hoping for a new and peaceful home the dwarves found instead the subjection of the Secerian Empire.  Having lost their old home, the dwarves had little patience for those who would conquer and enslave in their new home.  Now after the Secerians have been pushed back and the majority of Eira is free from them, the dwarves find themselves a people without a home.  They have moved in many directions from the single Dwarven stronghold of Entry on the Northern coast, plying their trades in any town or village that will have them.

Adama

Racial Cost +1 (Perks – Able to wear plate mail, Use SecTech; Flaws – Hunted Exile)

Few of the Adama ever make a move against their own Empire, but a few have and Eira seems to be where the Empire dumps these traitors.  Left along the shores of the Westerns shores in the Fen lands with nothing but their own clothes, these Exiles make their way through a world that rightly hate their kind, trying to etch out an existence of their own.

[White Star] Class - Mobile Strike Marine

A little rusty as a creator ... as such I need practice:


Mobile Strike Marine

 White Star Core edition – Military Campaign

 This class assuming a campaign structure that is primarily human-centric and takes cues from my earlier involvement with Matt Jackson’s Edge of Space rpg system (See my work for Edge of Space here).

Strike Marines are the forefront of the UESF interstellar and Void operations.  The Mobile Strike Marine is able to fight in the vacuum of the void, on enemy vessels, and on enemy soil.

Level
XP
HD
BHB
ST
1
0
1
+0
12
2
2,000
2
+1
11
3
4,000
3
+2
10
4
8,000
4+1
+2
09
5
14,000
5+1
+3
08
6
28,000
6+1
+4
07
7
50,000
7+1
+4
06
8
100,000
8+2
+5
05
9
200,000
9+2
+6
04
10
400,000
10+2
+6
03


Source:  http://www.pcauthority.com.au/
Weapon/Armor Restrictions: Mobile Strike Marines may uses all simple and martial weapons, firearms, and explosives.  Mobile Strike marines may use field and space kit up to heavy armor but receives a +1 bonus to all rolls while wearing Strike-Armor.

Combat Expert 1: Starting at 1st Level the Mobile Strike Marine has the ability to strike a number of enemies per-round equal to their HD as long as those enemies are within 10 ft or one another.

Combat Expert 2: Starting at 3rd Level the Mobile Strike Marine has gained the ability to Parry at single attack per-round if the roll under their Dexterity score.

Saving Throw:  Mobile Strike Marines receive a +2 on Saving Throws against Death and Poisons.  This bonus increases to +3 if wearing Strike-Armor.

Establish a Fort:  At 9th Level a Mobile Strike Marine may establish either a terrestrial or Void fort as a reward for his or her service by the UESF and be renamed Strike Commander.  Assigned troops will be under the Strike-Commander and may service as the personal escort and guard of the Strike Commander.

Strike-Armor

Created by the United Earth Space Force Strike-Armor is a lightweight power armor that is capable of both Void and ground operations due to its water, air, and waste reprocessing systems.  While Strike-Armor looks typical its stellar design offers a Strike-Marine increased resistance to death and poison as well as a +1 bonus to all Strength and Dexterity checks due to its pseudomuscle layer.
Strike Armor:  -3/[+3] AC/AAC; Cost 45 credits if not purchased as part of your class. 

[Kickstarter] Infinity's Edge - Can I be a Dual-Wielding Savior-kun in all black?


With the final few hours before it Infinity's Edge the "LitRPG" RPG is a sure thing to succeed as it has doubled it's success threshold. Still, this is one I've been wanting to talk about for a bit and just haven't had the chance both due to other commitments and my own continuing state of being a creative burn-out.

Infinity's Edge as the kickstarter implies is a new ground-up, skill-based Roleplaying game based on the LitRPG genre.  What is LitRPG?  Here is a loose definition from Wikipedia:


LitRPG, short for Literary Role Playing Game, is a literary genre combining the conventions of RPGs with science-fiction and fantasy novels.[1] Games or game-like challenges form an essential part of the story and visible RPG statistics (for example strength, intelligence, damage) are a significant part of the reading experience. This is in contrast to GameLit, which involves game-like worlds but does not typically provide visible statistics. At least some of the characters in a LitRPG novel may understand that they are playing a game or are in a game-like world: they are 'meta-aware'.

I've been a fan of the genre for awhile going back to anime such as .hack//sign and the much newer (and far more popular) Sword Art Online.  In terms of novels, the only ones I can truly recommend are the Awaken Online series by Travis Bagwell.

As for Infinity's Edge, the concept looks good.  It is a percentile-based system - and honestly I cannot see any other save d6 working
well with mimicking an MMO - where skill usage not chosen class matters most of all.

From the Kickstarter:
The most important aspects of a character in Infinity's Edge are the three Meters: Health, Stamina, and Mana. Health is used to measure how much damage a character has taken, Stamina is spent to take actions, and Mana is used to fuel magic or supernatural effects.

One of the aspects of the game designed to emulate an MMO is the process of Skill acquisition. In Infinity's Edge, characters gain Skills through use. The first time a character attempts and successfully executes a Skill, they gain that Skill at rank 1. After that, they increase in rank through using it successfully. Five successful uses achieves rank 2, then ten successful uses grants rank 3, and so on. For those who prefer less bookkeeping in their games, we included a couple of alternative Skill progression methods suggested by our playtesters so you can customize to suit your preferences! One is based on overcoming challenges (such as battles), while the other is a straight experience point expenditure system. 




The kickstarter's rewards are a little funky in my opinion, hearkening almost back to the early days of crowdfunding in how they are set-up.  Still the $20.00 digital bundle isn't a bad choices and is the one I bought into ... hopefully, turn around of the no-art copy will be quick as this is one I'd like to try out on Myth-Weaver or Roll20.

My biggest fear however is crunch.  While I like a certain level of crunch personally those I game with at this point do it more out of pity for me than any actual desire or love for the culture.  As such the less crunchy the better ... fingers crossed.

[KickStarter] Scion 2e is finally Shipping



Rich Thomas posted today the following regarding the shipping of Scion Second Edition:

Hello Scion 2e Backers!

RichT here:

Just got this note today from the fulfillment shipper:

Hi Rich,


      FedEx picked up their 2 pallets and USPS picked up 14 pallets.  The  USPS truck couldn’t take any more so they are picking up the remaining  10 pallets today.  We are working on the remaining Internationals and  should have them finished this week.

I know there was some concern because of the status notices on BackerKit and the shipping labels being created last month. The fulfillment shipper created the labels, then began to box up the rewards, and get those boxes stacked on the pallets they mention in the note above. I was not aware there'd be as big a time gap between making the labels and getting everything out, as they have done this in waves before, and I'll be talking to them about the pros and cons of doing it this way and the need to keep us informed as transparently as possible so we can pass that on to all of you.

Thanks!

This is exciting news for everyone who backed the Scion 2e kickstarter back in 2016 as the production has hit a lot of snags along the way and a lot of ill-deserved grief from the backers.  Though out it all though Rich and his team seemed to stay cheerful and kept the updates comings.

Scion 2nd edition is a follow-up to White Wolf's old Scion game which is reviewed here by Game Geeks:



While I've never been the biggest fan of the White Wolf systems, Scion scratched an itch I didn't have with the decedents of gods fighting their shadow wars on Earth.

Here's hoping that 2e is just as fun as the original.  I know my Percy Jackson loving daughters would enjoy it!


Retroscape - Jazzy Cyberpunk in the Post-Apocolypse [Update - 5-7-18 1707]


On the second day of Chupracabra-Con as the Savage World's ESU Pool Party was winding down and I was seriously beginning to worry about my daughter's insistence that she could play real beer pong (not the water variant they were playing) I got an e-mail that the Tiny-6 game I was supposed to be playing in was canceled.  Part of my was going to shrug it off grab one of my purchases and chill out in the lounge while my daughter played in a Savage Jem and the Holograms game.  In the end I decided not to do this and started to look for a game.

What I found was this:


Retroscape is the Third entry into the RPG space by Parlor Games LLC after their Steampunk title Tephra and their Fantasy title (and showcase piece for their original system the Volcano System) Volcanic Legends.  While the system is currently in playtest (and a few new rulings and ideas for the book happened at the table I played at with co-writer Jake Paul) it is a fairly complete system with nary a hiccup to be found mechanically - at least on the player's side.  

From the website:

The third World War destroyed civilization as we know it, but from the carnage a bastion of science and civilization arose: Delphi, a city founded by the seemingly omniscient Oracle. 80 years later, the world is still filled with chaos and monstrosities, but you are ready to fight for it: you, members of highly-guarded labs of super-science. Armed with the ability to change basic laws of physics, twist time, alter your anatomy, and graft advanced tech into your skin, you’re ready to take on the worst that the world has to offer.

In our game I played an AnatomiX (think healer class) named Jennah Night (with an "n"), a whiskey loving, Russian accented woman obsessed with medical waivers, and dolling out lollipops.  The team were sent by the last bastion of civilian the city of Delphi - located in former Nova Scotia - to a small community that held the last known Whiskey Distillery in the world (so VERY important) to solve a mysterious group of crop circles that were killing the crops.  When the team arrived- a fire happy crazed lunatic who was just a dude who was a guy, an old man who considered trucks as weapons and could bend time to his will, a techie who could run fast, and the Professor and Mary Ann - we discovered a mutated plant/insect creature was not only responsible but had moved on to attacking humans as well ...

... This is the introductory adventure in the book so going further would be spoiler range.  Needless to say the four hours passed in the blink of an eye, as everyone found ways to make the pre-gens their own.

The System

Retroscape uses the Volcano system (same used in Volcanic Legends) which is a d12-based Success/Failure system.  You roll the number of d12 linked to an attribute (say Intelligence) and every roll that exceeds the TN is a success, enough successes and you win the roll.  Skills, upgrade the linked attribute to a d20 giving you a better chance at success.  

So let's say Dr. Night wants to examine the body of one of the creatures she would roll her Intelligence and Knowledge (Medical). She has a 4 in Intelligence and a 2 in Knowledge so she would roll 2d12 & 2d20 as her Knowledge upgraded two of her Intelligence dice to d20s.

The system is fairly easily to pick-up and after a sample combat round I had the gist of the system down.

I wish I could have explored character creation but there wasn't much time and given that the game ended at midnight, I didn't want to hold up the Parlor Games staff.

Needless to say this is a game I would want to play again, and I really hope that Parlor Games has a OGL style license for this when it's released because I'd love to play with it on a more professional basis.

Tomorrow (or Friday) will be a report on the second unknown of the convention:  Auras Beyond!

[Update - 5-7-18 1707]

Parlor  Games appears to have a presence on DrivethruRPG and includes a pdf version of Retroscape.  Sorry for missing that.


More Awesome OSR Sale


DrivethruRPG's annual OSR sale continues through the end of the week (A little over four days left!) and if you haven't taken a look at all the amazing OSR products available (even stuff from yours truly) you really should.  

Here is a quick list of some of my favorite picks* (in no order):

Eldritch Tales from Raven God Games
How Orcus Stole Christmas from Frog God Games
The Codex of the Black Sun from Sine Nomine Games
Shards of Urflkin from Small Niche Games
Mutant Future Revised Edition from Goblinoid Games

* All third-party products are marked with an affiliate link and a small portion of sales through that link will be paid from OBS to GLG.

Night of the Slashers Part 1 - Dead by Daylight


One night several weeks ago my daughter (14) had a sleep over ... she and her friends decided to use my Plex server to binge watch every Slasher flick I had ... at 11 pm after only Halloween 1 & 2 and Friday the 13th Part 1 the internet died and four somewhat scared and bored girls approached me to entertain them.  You see my daughter had explained to them that I was a published GM ... I kept with the tradition of sleep over horror and introduced them to a world of pain, suffering, and small engine repair!


Dead by Daylight has been one of my favorite online games for the past two years.  The game has led to many nights of creepy through old barns, factories, asylums, etc trying to avoid being killed ... or trying to find those sultry teenagers to kill them.  During my short stint as a TWITCH streamer, Dead by Daylight was my go-to source of streaming content and to this day features some amazing streams.

A little on Dead by Daylight

 It is an asymmetrical pvp game in which 4 survivors need to outwit, outlast, and eventually escape a Slasher (as of this writing there are 10+ Slashers including Michael Meyers, Freddy Krugger, and Leatherface ... I'm hoping for Chucky this Halloween) by repairing and activating five generators which operate an escape door.  From the Survivors' side this is a harrowing experience as the Slasher cannot be killed, cannot be fought against, and can only momentarily be stopped by blinding him with a flashlight tool.  The only true option is to run, run as fast as you can and hope to escape ... if only for a moment.

Each of the Survivors have options for special skills, some heal fast, others run quickly, still, others are strong, and others still are better at repairing the generators.  To truly survive and escape the Survivors need to play a complex game balancing the need for cooperation with the reality that sometimes your own well-being is more important (especially when a guy with a chainsaw is after you).

The Original Survivors.

Conversely, the Slashers are insanely powerful, gifted with strange abilities and paranormal focus.  Each of the killers gets special perks and abilities that allow them to either outperform the Survivors or drive them slowly insane.  Michael Meyers may be slow but the longer he stalks a Survivor the stronger and more lethal his strike is.  The Doctor can cause hallucinations in his victims making them see him around every corner, slowing them as they cope with their deteriorating mental state.

The goal for the Slasher is to stalk, capture and sacrifice each of the Survivors to a Dark Entity who drives the Slashers forward forcing them and rewarding them for the blood they shed on the world.

Because of this nature, the near cat-and-mouse design Dead by Daylight can be an intriguing, adrenaline coursing event ... It can also be an extremely fustrating one depending on the skill and experience gap of the players.



Night of the Slashers


Night of the Slashers (NotS) is a take on the Slasher genre of horror movies for Swords and Wizardry by Neoplastic Games and takes a rather similiar approach to its modded S&W OSR system as Dead by Daylight.  In NotS you are offered several stereotypical teen archtypes:  The Jock, The Prep, The Goth, etc and are forced through the will of the DM to survive a night against a murderous, nearly unkillable being of pure hatred and chaos. While there are rules for creating your teen, there is also a provided pregen of that teen.  For me the provided pregens elevate the game as it makes it into a quick pick-up style game, which this type of genre is far more suited for.  The rules for creating the Slasher are wonderfully random, taking place on various tables and charts that lend a creepy and in some cases justifiable reason for the Slasher's need for teen blood (Like Mrs. Voorhees).

The mod of S&W is short, sweet, and delightfully fun to work with and play with.  I had been looking for an excuse to really sic my teeth (or in this case hedgeslippers) into it.

One Night at the Stathound Ranch


Copyright 2018 - Neoplastic Press
 The girls sat around the table clutching herbal iced teas and a few bags of nachos (somethings never change!) each holding a print-out of their chosen archtype:

Bonny the Cheerleader (Jock)
Steph the Queenbee (Prep)
Jade the Sukiban (Rebel) - Also my daughter's  character
Tina the "Witch" (Loner)

It was party make-up despite the fact that the girls covered all four available classes in the pdf and really  did their best to make those pregens their own in a short amount of time I gave them before play started.  What interested me more is the girls really did their best to play "different" than reality, opting to be strangers, enemies or (in the case of Tina and Jade) bitter rivals.

Like the girls I had little time to prep this and was mostly going off of their real world friendships being somewhat key ... oh boy was I wrong.

Orginially I had planned to base the Slasher's turf in a condemned convent, with the Slasher being a demonic nun.  All the girls had seen The Nun and thus would make connections that wouldn't be there in my game but just as frieghtening due to memory.  However, given the antaganistic nature the girls took which each other, I decided to go a different direction and one that was close to home for this 3/4 group of natural born Texan girls.

Instead of a convent the girls would be trapped in a ranch, one that hadn't been around for near fifty years and surrounded on all sides by piles of construction equipment.  The Stathound family had been upstanding members of their small community but when the housing boom occured the local county government got a little too greedy and forcably took the land from the Stathound family, causing the family to become penniless.  Soon after the family disappeared, along with the barn and farmhouse.

While developments, condos and highways have taken over the form ranch, however, if anyone happens to be at a certain crossroad on the anniversery of the stealing of the land that person would vanish to never be seen again.  That crossroads sorrounds the area of the former farmhouse and acts like a gateway to another space outside of time.

This is where the characters find themselves after being involved in an accident involving both cars at that crossroads ... What happens next is a story for tommorrow.

Where are the Pets?

Humans have had animal companions since before we had written language, barely had agroculture, and still thought a good layer of dirt was a good way to stay healthy.  Our pets have followed us throughout time, history, culture and art ... and yet, despite there being rules in place for them, I have rarely ever seen pets in a roleplaying game.  Yes, I've seen familiars, I've seen a Ranger's animal companion but not pets.  Where is the sword-wielding farmboy's faithful dog who refused to stay behind when her master ran off to adventure and came with?  Where is swashbuckler's cliche parrot, spouting sarcastic comebacks to his master's corny one-liners?

I started to think of this utter lack of pets when I was trying to get in to a Fantasyground's Pathfinder game.  I was in a hurry so I used HeroForge to create my character, a Cleric to some God of Justice when I noticed I could have a companion, I looked into it and found I could have a pet!  So My Cleric of the God of Justice was presented to the world with her faithful pet ferret "Bandit".  The GM turned down my application and was very honest with his reasons:  Pets don't belong in roleplaying game.

This got me thinking, why not?  Can only the Ranger or Wizard have an animal by their side? 

Personally, I think not and I challenge everyone who reads this blog, have a pet for even one game, share its sheet, share story ... show that pets can exist in the game as more than just a tool in a class's utility belt.

Marvel's Conan the Barbarian Issue 1

When I was of the wee age of seven my step-father took me to a local comic convention in Reading.  It wasn't like what my seven-year-old mind thought and I found myself rather disappointed to see booth after booth after booth of Tri-State comic shops selling old stock and collectables.  No Stan Lee, no Neal Adams, none of the few names I knew at seven; just pot-bellied old men trying to get 10-bucks for a comic about a scantily clad vampire with a silly name.

The one highlight for seven-year-old me though was the gift that I got from the check-in desk after my step-father paid for us to get in.  A 1978 Savage Sword of Conan magazine from Marvel comics.  It was large, black-and-white and filled with amazing tales of swords and magic, gods and demons ... and above all else, like a loom grim avatar of death:  Conan.  As it turned out my step-father had a huge Conan collection not just Savage Sword of Conan but also Marvel's Conan the Barbarian, Conan books, issues of Wierd Tales with Conan stories ... technically I wasn't allowed to touch these, but my step-father worked second shift at a steel mill so what he didn't know didn't hurt either of us.

Marvel Comics: Conan the Barbarian 2019
Shoot forward to last year when it was announced that Marvel had regained the comic rights to Conan.  I was overjoyed.  Yes, Dark Horse had produced some flatout amazing work on their run of the comic, but there is something special about knowing a character you love is going back to the people who had him when you discovered that character.  I was of course worried, Conan is not a good fit for modern sensibilities.  There is far too much that some would find problematic, and to strip those aspects away from Conan is to essentially make him He-Man (and I mean the DIC He-Man). Add to that Marvel's bullpen of recent years, so-so writers, bad artists, to much pandering to politics over storytelling and I started to think Conan's return to the Merry Marvel writer's room was doomed.

After reading the first issue I can say that I am hopeful.  Jason Aaron who had an amazing run on Thor post Civil War is doing the writing here and he channels the cadence and wording of the old Marvel comics beautifully.  This compiled with Mahmud Asrar's art and Matt Wilson's coloring go along way of finding a sweet middle ground between Barbarian and Savage with a little of the Darkhorse grit present as well.  Presentation-wise I was nothing but amazed.

The story is a long game, present a single event of Conan's past in his time as a thief and mercenary and projecting it forward to his final days as king as a cult of a demon lord who predates Atlantis wants to use Conan's blood to bring back their god.  The set-up for this is classic, and while I'm sure some people may get angry about Conan being bested and chained to a sacrifical table to be against the character, I disagree, and seeing how Conan escapes his plight (and just HOW Conan it is) is inspired at least one future event my 5e Barbarian will be involved in.  The part's that worried me were with King Conan and how heavily Aaron relied on the "aging warrior" trope.  Conan complains about his back, his muscles aching, etc ... Yes, this is a trope and can be done and has been done very well (see Dark Horse's run).  Here though I felt it was a crutch that didn't aid in deeping the character but in moving the plot and moving forward I hope Aaron irons this out or doesn't fall back on it after this issue quite so much.

Final thoughts - Marvel's main-stream appeal and eyes that are on the industry.
nan is a good Hard PG-13 take on the character which is the best we can hope for in the current comics climate and the

Grade:


Map Friday - Featuring MapForge

With the fever behind me I now find myself on the cusp of the weekend, that time when family and real world needs take precedence over the m...