Monday, May 19, 2014

Planet Stories

After my unexpected mini-hiatus, I'm trying to get my arms around what to blog about next.  A few things are on my mind, in general.

First, of course, is DARK•HERITAGE, supposedly the main topic for this blog.  At the moment, I don't have anything new for it, however.  I'm working on digitalizing my big poster-board map of the setting, but in the process have decided I'm going to basically redraw the entire thing.  A lot of places need to be renamed, and because I did the posterboard in pen, by hand, I'm going to do the new map completely digitally.  Most likely what I'll do is scan the map by portions, stitch them together digitally, wipe out all of the labels and names, and retype them using a font on the computer, so I can have a consistent look.

Not sure if I'm going to bother coloring it or not.  Color naturally looks nice, but my "gold standard" in fantasy maps remains Christopher Tolkien's black and white ones of Middle-earth, which I first saw on my original copies of Lord of the Rings--y'know, the ones with the Darrel K. Sweet covers that were on sale during the 80s.  This same map, "aged up" in Photoshop or whatever, was used in the Peter Jackson movies during the voice-over intros, and an example of this version of the map can be seen here.  Although, like I said, the original that I saw, in the books, was black and white.  As are most fantasy maps, since many are, of course, published in novels that feature only black ink on white paper.  Only in the realm of Photoshopped fan versions or roleplaying game material are color maps commonplace. 

However, this particular project is not imminent.  My free time at home in the evenings is, if anything, even more scarce than my free time during the day, which is a sad state of affairs, and not likely to change in the immediate future.

I'd also like to make some updates to my ODD D&D series of posts.  Although I've already described the setting in nearly as much detail as I'd like, I'd also like to whip up a quick and dirty map of this, describe a "home base" from which PCs could embark on adventures, and do a few "campaign threads" type examples of what I think a campaign in this setting would look like.

What has been an awful lot on my mind, when I can spare the mental effort, is space opera, however.  The original Barsoom stories of John Carter remain among my favorite books ever (beat out, really, only by The Lord of the Rings itself).  In my lifetime, space opera has been really defined by Star Wars of course, and because the new movie started filming just a few days ago or so, I've had it a lot on my mind.  I'm also playing, of course, in a Star Wars post-Jedi campaign at the moment, which I've discussed here before several times, although our play schedule is extremely sporadic, and I had to miss the last session anyway.  I've also got my own houserules to m20 that specifically cater to my own preferred playstyle.

But Star Wars is only one iteration of the genre.  Another one that I've enjoyed quite a bit over the years is the Marvel version of space opera, which incorporates a fair bit of superheroic action--hardly a surprising development.  But the three "super powers" of the Marvel space universe, the Shi'ar, the Kree and the Skrulls, have universally been interesting stories.  Groups like the Starjammers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and characters like the Silver Surfer, Warlock, Quasar, Ms. Marvel, Nova and others have established quite a lot of interesting super-hero colored space opera for us to digest.  Villains like Blastaar, Thanos, Vulcan, D'Ken, Galactus, the Celestials (who aren't necessarily overtly villainous, but... y'know) add to the mystique. We'll even get big-budget big screen treatment of the so-called "cosmic Marvel" in this summer's imminent Guardians of the Galaxy film, and all indications are that when Avengers 3 hits the big screen, we'll finally have the true debut of Thanos as villain.

Although I've focused my space opera more on my Star Wars "one thousand years after Jedi" setting, I'd like to also try my efforts at an original space opera setting.  Perhaps one that even feels more like a Marvel space opera setting within a setting.  For this setting, I'd also like to use m20, but maybe not the Star Wars m20, since Knights are such a specific Star Warsian application.  Although I haven't yet decided that such is the way I want to go, here's a link to an m20 Superhero ruleset to peruse.  I've only had time to glance through it at the moment, and it's probably not exactly what I want, but there could be stuff in there I can borrow. 

I did find it amusing that the document linked there refers to its obvious Thor analog as Norse Storm Hammer Guy.  Thor is, of course, as a mythological figure, in the public domain. 

And here's another Microlite superhero ruleset

As I develop this... yet another... series of blog posts, I'll be using the tagline AD ASTRA, Latin for "to the stars" (and famous as a motto of various organizations, where it was largely cribbed from Virgil).  I don't know that that's what I'll call the setting, but heck; it beats Odd D&D, doesn't it?

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