Tuesday, May 31, 2011


So this is really happening! HERCULOIDS ON DVD PEOPLE! Laser dragons! Rock Apes! Rhinoceratopses! Slingshot wielding barbarians! Shape-shifting shmooes! Because the world needs more science fantasy cartoons filled with Alex Toth designed characters.

Pre-order the complete series or order on Tuesday, June 14!! Relevant promotional copy from Warner Bros.:
Somewhere out in deep space – and out of the creative imagination of the animation aces of Hanna-Barbera Studios – live the Herculoids. Humanoid Zandor, along with his wife Tara and son Dorno, lead a group of unique creatures: Zok the flying dragon, powerful simian Igoo (who possesses rock-like skin), rhinoceros hybrid Tundro and two protoplasmic wonders appropriately named Gloop and Gleep. Together, they use their diverse super strengths to defend their utopian planet against attack from such sinister invaders as the Pod Creatures, the Reptons and the Mutoids. For all-family entertainment, this 18-Episode, 2-Disc Collection of The Herculoid: The Complete Original Animated Series is out of this world, literally.
It's a "manufacture-on-demand" set from WB, which, kinda stinks because the price is set firmly at $29 without extras. The upside though is clean prints of the entire series. Frankly, this is the only way you're gonna get an official set. So don't go out for lunch this pay period and you can stop watching crappy Boomerang uploads on YouTube or (ahem) those other DVDs you came across...

Relevant Herculoids awesomeness:

/so awesome, it's getting re-posted on Gamma World War and Spellcard.

Lucas has written 2 Seasons of Live Action Star Wars TV show

What? Where the hell did this come from? Apparently Georgie has made good on his promise from years passed about doing a live action television series. Thing is, those plans were several years ago and the animated Clone Wars TV series which was simultaneously planned, became the focus. According to a story in the New York Post he's told G4TV that he's already got 50 hours of show ready to shoot.

Here's the kicker--he can't release it until some "technological breakthrough" happens that allows him to finish the show.

From the article:
But the series is awaiting the development of "a different type of technology we can use so it's economically feasible to shoot the shows."

He did not say what the breakthrough would do, only that it was "just a very, very difficult process."

TV has to be produced for one-10th the cost of movies, he said, and the ability to make a credible TV show at such lower costs doesn't exist yet.
That's exciting news for Star Wars fans. Especially since, if you recall, it was to take place between episodes 3 and 4 during the "dark times" (Jedi purge). Back in 2007, his former producer Rick McCallum said on Starwars.com:
"We are just starting to interview writers and trying to really figure out which direction to go to. He envisions somewhere like 100 hours between Episode III and Episode IV with a lot of characters that we haven't met that have been developed in some of the novels and other things. We are really excited about that. Finally, we could have the opportunity to answer everybody's questions once and for all by the time we finish the series."
I wonder how close his stayed to that statement in his drafts. In any case, I hope whatever mystical Jedi technology he's waiting for happens soon--a live action Star Wars show would be cool!

Friday, May 27, 2011

X-plorers Aliens: Moon Zombies!

I had so much fun attending drive-in-movie throwback, Attack of the Moon Zombies, that I thought I'd write up a an alien for X-plorers based on the flick. Moon Zombies are a creation of Christopher Mihm, so  this content is free to use in your home games only (not to be republished in this form). This is basically my interpretation of the aliens as they appeared in the film. Following are stats and write up that assumes familiarity with X-plorers (but can be easily adapted for use in other games). If you're looking for good BEM, this is a good place to start!

Moon zombies are the re-animated dead, infected with the spores of the Luna Mortis space pod or other infected zombies. Spores infect and kill their prey and resuscitate the corpse of their host body. They seem to exist solely to procreate and convert more living beings into moon zombies. Though slow moving, they are difficult to destroy and are adept at overtaking victims with large numbers. They come in two stages: pod and infected. This entry covers humanoids as the infected. Other varieties may exist but are unknown to galactic scientists at this time.

Pod Form:
Pods are found in caves and shaded areas. Dormant pods will revive in an oxygen-rich (breathable by humans) environment. Once in a atmospheric environment, pods spray deadly spores from a single, extendable stalk.
AC 3
HD 1d8
THB +1
ATT (see below)
ST 0
MV 0
XP 15

Psi-ren lure: Pods attract prey by way of psionic attack (think charm spell) that affects pleasure and intellectual brain function. Essentially it makes the victim curious so as to lower defenses and disarm self-preservation, compelling them to draw closer. Once prey is within range, the pod will disperse its spore spray in an effort to infect its target.

Spore spray: Moon zombie pods attack by releasing their deadly spore gas when victims are within range them. Data indicates they can release their spores in a cone up to 1 meter away or in a radius of 1 meter. The white powder will kill prey and turn them into moon zombies within 1d6 turns, at which point the victim will operate in a hive mentality with other moon zombies. Spore spray should be considered lethal even in miniscule doses. Spores are airborne for 1d6 rounds, after which time they will settle and become sterile.

Humanoid Form:
Fully mutated moon zombies take on a grotesquely disfigured visage--that of an entirely vegetative humanoid, complete with brussle-sprout-like head and enlarged, saucer-like eyes. They may not be speedy foes, but they strike paralyzing fear in their prey as they move in for the kill!

AC 15
HD 2d6+1
THB +2
ATT (see below)
ST 17
MV 4
XP 40

Spore spray: same as above, but the cone extends to 2 meters away as they release spores orally.

Paralyzing Gaze: Once they've infected a host body, the psionic call the pod once possessed mutates into a much more sinister agent that induces paralyzing fear in prey. The adult humanoid's eyes will have enlarged to nearly three-times their size allowing them to emit a directed psionic "ray" of fear. The zombie's unblinking eyes will reach victims as far as 15 meters away. (Note: this is a psionic attack, victims cannot escape the ray by closing their eyes.)

The reach of the ray can be extended further when the zombies travel in groups (an extra meter for each additional zombie). Victims must make a Presence (PRE) save in order to avoid being paralyzed with fear or be immobilized for 1d4+1 rounds.

GM tips:
  • Moon zombies typically outnumber, corner, and overwhelm their prey.
  • Infected humanoids can be especially dangerous as they retain the knowledge of their victims but nothing of their personalities.
  • Only humanoid (formerly human) varieties have been encountered, when in doubt, treat as a xenomorph
  • Don't tell players, but shooting moon zombies is a bad idea, especially since they're filled with infectious spores
  • Wanna be a mean GM? Factor airspeed and atmospheric conditions into consideration when victims are exposed to the spores--things should pick up quickly! :)
  • Zombie pods and infected adult stages are susceptible to high doses of radiation (levels usually fatal for humans); radiation won't destroy the zombies, but it will induce hibernation in 1d4 rounds
  • Pods may live for thousands of years (life expectancy unknown) in dormancy
  • Presence (PRE) is akin to Wisdom and/or Charisma in D&D 
  • It's not movie-accurate, but you may want to give players a fighting chance and let them make a Physique (PHY) / Constitution (CON) save to resist the spores initially. This would extend their chances to no more than 1d8 rounds, allowing the possibility of finding an antidote should samples be obtained safely by scientists. 
  • Feel free to hack off ideas, tack on new ones, and enjoy!

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    I Survived an "Attack of the Moon Zombies!"

    Last night I had the thrill of attending the premiere of Twin Cities filmmaker Christopher Mihm's Attack of the Moon Zombies (AotMZ, hereafter) locally-made film. It's a throwback to the classic sci-fi flicks of the 50s and 60s and employs all the trappings of the era (glorious B/W, over-dramatized musical score, lovingly dopey visual effects and monsters, and of course--gloriously hamfisted acting!
    The Heights' organist: pre-show entertainment!
    Mihm's been at the homebrew filmmaking game for several years now and AotMZ marks his sixth entry in to the "Mihm-verse" (as he's dubbed it), his personal pantheon of original science fiction digital cinema. This is my second venture in the the Mihm-verse, my introduction began with Destination: Outer Space. This time I was sure to drag my wife and a friend along to experience what I'd been yapping about since last year.

    I'll be honest-- I envy this guy! Every year he releases a new film he made with his friends, family, local thespians, and cinemaniacs and holds a "WORLD PREMIERE" at the historic Heights Theater in NE Minneapolis. The Heights is an old-fashioned (and well cared for) movie house with stage curtain and house organ intact (we were treated to a 30 minute performance prior to the show last night).

    Laughing at--and with--films from another era
    The film itself was preceded by old news reels, previews from horrendous/classic sci-fi films, and one of his older films. I won't go into a full review here (or spoil), but the plot centers around a claustrophobic moonbase "in the future" staffed by unwitting scientists who become "moon zombie" prey after discovering an alien plant hidden in a lunar cave (think John Carpenter's The Thing, but the moon stands in for Antarctica).

    The brussel-sprout-headed undead aliens are the true stars of the film, lumbering towards our cowering heroes in spectacular Plan 9 From Outer Space fashion. The film uses well-worn movie cliches (i.e., camera freely gliding over a slow moving hand about to reveal a corpse-under-the-sheet surprise) to great effect. Short of some stilted dialogue in the beginning, the result is a hilarious and well-orchestrated send-up of sci-fi films and their audiences. It's as if you're participating in a live episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. AotMZ, much like Mihm's other films, are a love-letter to cinematic cheddar played to the hilt.

    Rubber and latex BEMs, deadly radiation, and silly subplots about marriage proposals, round out the the film's retro sci-fi caricature. Sprinkled throughout were nuggets of pop culture in-jokes (sci-fi and music mostly) that kept our little group laughing after the credits.

    AotMZ boasts an impressive cast of thespians--most notably Mike Cook and Sid Korpi in standout performances as an avuncular senior scientist and a hard-nosed-moon-base-administrator-with-a-golden heart, respectively. Douglas Sidney and Shannon McDonough seem to relish their purposefully 2D portrayals as love interests/leads. Sidney punctuates every scene he's in with silent goony-faced expressions and McDonough is a twirling, sobbing, wreck of a woman straight out of a 50s soap opera acting class.

    'Moon Zombies, a delicious treat
    Seeing the film with his actors, crew, and loved ones must be a huge high for Mihm--as everyone bursts out into laughter, groans, and applauds along with the on-screen action. After we've all taken in the hilarity, he offers DVDs of the flick (all of them actually) for a few bucks along with posters, t-shirts, patches, and more. The literal icing on the cake: a a moon + zombie cake, cupcakes, and cookies. Filmmaker, cast, crew, and co-conspirators alike were of course on hand to meet the audience, sign autographs, and ladle thanks on fans for supporting what I'm glad is now a Twin Cities tradition.

    In an age of over-produced, financially fire-hosed movies, it's an absolute delight to not only see independent/locally supported films, but also participate in an event that celebrates imagination, science fiction, and an unabashed love of the movie-going experience. I look forward to exploring new corners of the Mihm-verse next year!

    Learn more:
    Saint Euphoria Films (Mihm's production company)
    Attack of the Moon Zombies info
    Keep up with the Mihm-verse on Facebook

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    It's the End of the World and I Feel: Fine-VF 8.5

    Sorry, that's a bad comic grading joke. Anyway, tomorrow is a big day! Not only is it the End of the World™, but it's also SpringCon here in the Twin Cities. I'll be there of course, geeking out with the rest of those left behind. In recent years I've spent more time chatting with the guest artists. To me, that's really the reason to go. If I buy stuff, it's usually a commission sketch.

    Oh, and check out the End-of-it-All poll I posted on Gamma World War. Should be exciting!

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Scientists find "billions" of isolated planets in Milky Way

    Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt
    Astronomers are reporting in the journal Nature a colossal find of "hundreds of billions of rogue, Jupiter-like planets that outnumber the stars in the Milky Way.

    Imagine, what that means for moment. Hundreds of billions of shadowy worlds that could have moons or their own. So plentiful there aren't nearly as many stars in comparison.

    I posted more at Threads of Adventure, including a little animation from NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    Watch out for the Thunderbeam!

    Man, the cool stuff is rolling in this week! I'm a big fan of DIY imagineering and the developer fellas from upstart Karakasa Games in the video above are doing just that. They're working on an iPad adventure-style game (think Maniac Mansion or the Monkey Island series) with a psychedelic, 70s sci-fi bent. In fact, this might be the closest thing we get to a Multinauts-style game.

    The best part is that it's cast in the same mold as the vintage point-and-click games that oldie von moldies like myself played on the C64. (A moment of silence for Defender of the Crown, my personal fav.)

    Anyway, they've set up a Kickstarter project page to help them get the game made. No, I don't know them in any way. Yes, you should still totally give them a buck. I don't even plan on getting an iPad and I still made a small donation--games like this are needed: cerebral, fun, gorgeous, and melodic games.

    Here's how they are bringing teh awesome:
    • The game features a retro harpsichord and theremin soundtrack reminiscent from British sci-fi TV shows from the 70s
    • ADVENTURE GAME! = no boring blasting away
    • Hombrewed by engineers who call their day-jobs "soul sucking"!
    And it's called....
    Thunderbeam Poster!

    On a side note, this is the third project I've proudly supported through Kickstarter. I'll vouch that it's a fantastic system. It's both a boon to grassroots creative projects and also very transparent to supporters. If a project doesn't meet it's funding goal, you don't get charged--even if you only gave $1. So far, I've had success with both previous projects I've previously supported and I'm hoping this one makes it the finish line too (3 for 3!).

    Anyway, I support stuff I like, and really like this. So consider this spreading the goodness!

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    What if: Alejandro Jodorowsky's Dune of the 70s

    I think it's almost redundant to put he term "avant garde" before Alejandro Jodorowsky's name, but one thing's for sure--his version of Dune would have been a visual spectacle that David Lynch would have never dreamed.

    The above clip is from an upcoming documentary on Jodorowsky's never filmed version of the Dune saga. Call it: Galáctica Fantástico!

    Here's a few more details over at Twitch Film in case you've never heard about this incredible, missed opportunity in cinema.

    Oh, and a few of Moebius' illustrations (that's right, Moebius!) from the pre-production process that never got past the initial stages:

    Duneinfo.com has more in-depth info on Jodorowsky's abandoned Dune.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Gamma World Mega Event in the Twin Cities

    My Friendly Local Gaming Store, Source Comics and Games, is holding a Gamma World shindig the first week in June. It will of course be the latest rendition of the rules based on the 4E D&D system. Given how much fun I had last time I played, I plan on attending.

    It's not often that GW gets love here in St. Paul / Minneapolis, so I'm glad to spread the word.

    Character creation has been set:
    Saturday, June 4th from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM
    In the Source's gaming room

    Here's a link to the event page with more info soon:

    2011 Source Mega Summer RPG Event: GAMMA WORLD!

    More Players Wanted / Welcome / GM's Needed!
    Click the image to see official event page

    More info posted by the Source:
    UPDATE: Just got an email from one of the organizers saying there's a sign up sheet at The Source to play every night of the first week of June (except Wednesday and the following Saturday). A WEEK OF GAMMA WORLD!!!

    Note: This is a re-post from the Gamma World War blog.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Is "space-toilet" hypenated? Another X-plorers update!

    Over the course of the last few weeks I've been copy editing the latest version of the X-plorers Referee Guide rules. I did my best to catch everything I could, but I think I went a little crazy in the brain pan, staying up too late, listening to the sizzling of my own neurons. Things get wacky after midnight and you begin to wonder just whether that hyphen belongs there. Here's hoping it's at least a shade improved!

    I am extremely happy to report that this post marks the sending of the edits to John over at Brave Halfling! (Man, it feels great to finally say that!). Now, to answer a few questions that I'm sure will crop up:

    So, of which game is X-plorers a retro clone?
    None! The short version is, Dave Bezio of Grey Area Games had an idea about creating an RPG in the old-school vein under the premise of "what if the first RPG had been based in science fiction, rather than fantasy?". He set out to write rules that were light on crunch and a quick read. The book was even written as if the reader was being introduced to RPGs (more on that in a second). The result was something that's takes into account the philosophy behind the original fantasy RPG, but uses original rules of Dave's own design--in other words it's not a straight port of D&D and into a sci-fi setting, or even an update of it. It's an animal unto itself.

    What's updated in the new version?
    This set is intended to be Dave Bezio's original rules with copy edits and revisions according to a new style guide I wrote. If any language was updated, it was for the sake of clarity only.

    The book's format also saw revisions, making it easier to find information and more user-friendly, overall. There's a glossary now for common X-plorers terms. We also threw together a few appendices for information that took up the bulk of the beginning of the book. So now you can really dive in earlier, without having to read the "What's a Roleplaying Game" stuff unless you're really trying to teach someone the ropes.

    Was anything left out?
    We'd considered adding some expanded rules, but I think that would have meant we'd be rushing to squeeze those into the book without really having a chance to discuss them or test them out properly. I'm sure that material will surface in future supplements, but this gives us a chance to make sure they're going to work well with X-plorers. It's too early to really say what those rules discussed, but I'm glad we kept it simple for this release.

    Then do the rules still constitute a complete game?
    Absolutely! Just like Dave's original version, these are basic rules where you have the freedom to build your own outer-space playground. The goal was always to preserve the "take it and run with it right out of the box" style of the game. Which reminds me, John just announced it will have its own Box Set!! Which, as far as I'm aware, is the first sci-fi OSR game to be offered in this manner!

    Is there a new look or feel to this version?
    John's commissioned plenty of new artwork that I think will really set X-plorers apart from the other sci-fi OSR games out there. Pete Mullen has done a fabulous job with the cover and several other artists have lent their talents to the project. I think the overall presentation gives the game a distinct flavor now. It's a retro-style game with retro-styled art! UPDATE: this latest version will also have deck plans for a couple of spaceships!

    What's next?
    Down the line we're looking at supplements, adventure modules--you name it. I know of several X-plorers projects already in the works, though I'll leave that to John to announce as they become ready since he's the mastermind behind it all. :)

    Keep your hyperspace channel tuned for more to come....

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    May the Fourth Be With You, Always!

    Blu-ray details are out today (if you can stand the wait on the website). If not, Wired has some details on a few of the featurette disks. Supposedly 9 disks in all, including vintage documentaries. I'm looking forward to the one on Empire with the late, great Kershner.

    Here's hoping for some bonus footage of the scene above. Waited long enough, dotcha think?

    UPDATE: Full details now listed at Rebelscum.com

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Quick Update on X-plorers and Other Projects

    I figured it's been a while since I've given an update on X-plorers. The player's guide portion is finished and submitted to Brave Halfling. I'm nearly finished making the edits to the referee's section. I'd hoped to get it to him sooner, but life, my job, alien viruses, and what-have-you, etc. All I can say is that John Adams has the patience of a saint!

    He's been posting art and updates over at BH, you really should check it out. Both he and fellow editor Bill DeFranza have put up with my constant delays, but there's a light finally at the end of the tunnel. I'll be posting more about X-plorers in the coming weeks.

    On another note, last fall I went to go try out the new Gamma World D&D setting at my FLGS, Source Comics and Games. (Hold the groans!) Truth be told, I was in love. Yeah, the rules are on the crunchy side, but I fell hard for post-apocalyptic mayhem. Visions of broken moons over a ruined metropolis filled with mutants a la Thundarr danced in my head.

    And then it hit me like a gamma ray blast! Blame it on watching too many documentaries on the History Channel....

    WORLD WAR = 

    Hey look, another idea for campaign/blog/project I barely have time for! Seriously though, I had no intentions of crowding the blogosphere with more "stuff". Blogging just happens to fit the way I think and sort out ideas. I can't help it. Maybe I need to join a support group.

    Here's a quick thematic description, which I won't go into here. It's specific enough that I wouldn't want to weigh down Exonauts with all the posts (though there already is/will be some crossover mainly for archiving purposes). It also began to turn into a nice little repository of gamma resources. Anything/everything I could find that I thought might be useful, I dumped into it.

    So it was gonna be my secret, unlisted blog that I only worked on when I had the time. At least, I thought it was off the grid until a sneaky one-eyed OSRian spotted and began following me. (Help!) And when James over at Grognardia declared May was for Gamma World, my resolve weakened, so now the felinoid is out of the bag.

    Anyway, it's a fun little side project at the moment and the banner is terrible--but that's homemade for ya. If I win Powerball tomorrow I'm having custom art made. That's like 6th or 7th on the lottery-winning list after making my own Gamma World movie.

    So there you go. It's just a little irradiated sandbox of my very own. Feel free to grab a rusty shovel and dig in!