Sunday, March 29, 2009


"There is no pain, there is no law!"
--Hyena-Swine, The Island of Dr.
I never was a big fan of gnolls. Although I could swear I remember reading somewhere that they were a cross between a gnome and a troll (apparently thanks to the same aphrodisiac that gave us the owlbear and the peryton), there was little else that made the gnoll interesting. Especially once my gaming group made the transition to AD&D, I found the monster itself rather "meh." While their Fiend Folio cousins, the flinds, did have the flind bar to give them enough pinache to make them worthy of inclusion in a game or two, the gnolls pretty much remained on the shelf.

But, then came the nineties remake of The Island of Dr. Moreau. While I sorely missed the House of Pain, I was one of the two people on planet Earth who liked the thing. One of my favorite characters was Hyena-Swine. Thanks to some great costuming and make-up work, he actor who portrayed him, the late Daniel Rigney, stole the show away from everyone, even Brando. That feral maniacal laugh gave me two things: 1) the willies and 2) a new found respect for the hyena.

I liked it so much that one of my favorite cards in my old M:tG "green weenies" deck was Gibbering Hyenas. Not because it was a great card, mind you. A 3/2 creature that cost G2 that's useless against black isn't anything to crow about. It's just that Moreau's Hyena was so badass I felt I had to throw them in somewhere.

So, when I returned to the notion of roleplaying and started browsing back issues of The Dragon, I ran across the Shoosuva, the gnoll undead guardian servant of Yeenoghu [sic?], the Demon Prince of Gnolls. The Shoosuva reminded me of the Amorak -- the wolf-like creatures on The Secret Saturdays "The Ice Caverns of Ellef Ringnes" that lived in arctic burial mounds. I liked the idea although I'd never really been a fan of gnolls, but then it hit me.


Ah-hah! "There is a great resemblance between gnolls and hyenas," so sayeth the AD&D Monster Manual. What better way to pay tribute to one of my favorite movie characters than the inclusion of a whole race of Moreauvian Hyena badasses. Finally, these guys had some personality.

Oh yeah, I ditched Yeenowhatsisname too. Since I'm a fan o' the Minions of Set, I thought it only right that the hyena-faced humanoids worship ancient Egypt's favorite hyena-faced deity.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Once again, I am a day late and a dollar short. Here it is, March 29, and I find out that March Modok Madness has been in full swing. Only three days left. Among my favorite tributes to the Man from A.I.M. is this propaganda poster created by Ryan Harris.

The Watch Tower of Inverness

I've always wondered what Gary Gygax's religious background/affiliation was, if any. I'd always assumed his background was Lapsed Catholic or Lutheran like most of the other yankees I'd known.

While reading Lord of The Green Dragons, the blog of Rob Kuntz, who played Robilar in EGG's famous campaign, I ran across the following:

The Gygax's (and myself for a shorter time period)
were once Jehovah's Witnesses. One of their daughters still is, whereas the rest of the family
members, including myself, disassociated with that affiliation many, many years ago, and all for different reasons.

Coming from a religion whose main prosyletizing activity is annoying door-to-door Watchtower distribution, no wonder one of the staples of the game was trapped doorways.

I've become quite found of Oddee. They've got stuff for the bibliophile in me, such as "15 Coolest Bookshelves," and stuff for the historical obscura geek, like "7 Strangest Wars" and "9 Absolutely Insane Weapons".

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Looking back through July 1982's Dragon #63 this morning, I ran across Gary Gygax's review of Conan The Barbarian and The Sword & The Sorceror. After blasting De Laurentis's Conan with both barrels and giving The Sword & The Sorceror a good truncheoning, Gygax said of a DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® movie:
I promise all of you that if the D&D® movie isn't of the quality of Star Was and Raiders of the Lost Ark, I will not only blast it in a review similar to this one, but I will apologize to you as well.

I realize that by the time the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® movie was released Joe Six-Pack and Sally Housecoat had more control over the franchise than did EGG, but I wonder if he ever penned his apology -- not that he should have, mind you. Just curious. Given the quality of the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® cartoon, which EGG did have a hand in, I really wonder if he could have insured that said movie was "of the quality of Star Wars and Raiders."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Watching Watchmen

I saw Watchmen. I liked it, but I was disappointed by a couple of deviations from the source material. It made me want to go track down issues of The (Ted Kord) Blue Beetle, The Question, etc.

I was appalled to see that two parental units had brought their toddler to witness all that transpired on screen. I initially thought that these were people who had not read the graphic novel and thought this was going to be like Fantastic Four. But, once all the butchery and adult content and scary guys started flooding the screen, they stayed all the way to the end. Witnessing all that stuff didn't turn little Walter Kovacs into such a bad guy, right?

The major political issue facing the heroes in Watchmen is, in the words of Eric Bloom, the "heightening tensions between the East and the West." As Rorshach and Nite Owl seek to solve the "Who killed Eddie Blake?" whodunit, the U.S. and Russia edge closer to doomsday. Thankfully, we no longer have to worry about those Russkies and their pesky ole nukes, do we?
Russian strategic bombers could use Cuba airfields

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russia expressed interest in using Cuban airfields during patrol missions of its strategic bombers, Russia's Interfax news agency reported

"There are four or five airfields in Cuba with 4,000-meter-long runways, which absolutely suit us," Maj. Gen. Anatoly Zhikharev told Interfax.

Zhikharev, who is the chief of staff of the Russian Air Force's long-range aviation, said, "If the two chiefs of state display such a political will, we are ready to fly there."

Zhikharev also told Interfax that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has offered a military airfield on La Orchila island as a temporary base for Russian strategic bombers.

"If a relevant political decision is made, this is possible," he said, according to Interfax. Zhikharev said he visited La Orchila in 2008 and can confirm that with minor reconstruction, the airfield owned by a local naval base can accept fully-loaded Russian strategic bombers.

h/t "This Is CNN"

Down With O. P&P. Yeah, You Know Me
Jeff Rients gives mad props to old school game, Powers & Perils.

Quote o' The Day
"Ten feet, twenty feet, thirty feet south. Passage turns east and west. Which way do you go?" "We go South." Stupefied look and momentary pause. "Okay. Bump, bump, bump." -E. Gary Gygax to adventurers in Greyhawk Castle, circa 1972

Hittin' The Links
  • Heroic Fantasy Quarterly
  • The Paperback Fanatic
  • Random Dungeon Generator
  • Lord of The Green Dragons
  • Friday, March 13, 2009

    Willy and Lester of the Apocalypse

    I found this citizen on the streets the other day. Apologies for the blurry photo. The figure in the ballcap facing the camera is a ventroloquist's dummy. The "street prophet" that was holding him was facing in the opposite direction (you can see his jeans below the sign). His sign announced, among other things, that he had identified one of the seven heads of the Beast twenty-six years ago. The head's name: Ronald Wilson Reagan. I didn't have time to read on to discover if the duo had discovered the other six, but one of the signs did announce that the dummy would speak the word of God.

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    Watchmen Twins Powers ... ACTIVATE!

    Although I will eventually, I have not yet seen The Watchmen movie. Although I've read what some detractors have to say, I've read a lot of positive things too. However, no matter how great the movie may be, I know it cannot begin to approach teh full-of-win awesome that is this intro to an eighties Saturday morning cartoon version of The Watchmen.

    h/t to Jeff's Gameblog for that little (pardon the pun) "Jem."

    In other Watchmen-related news, after reading her film review in The New Frontiersman at her website, I've decided that Debbie Schlussel is a multilingual, nationally syndicated blooming idiot with a law degree. In spite of Bush's fumbles and the greed-headed trough-feeding of GOP legislators, I've never considered pulling a Fawn Hall on my Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy membership card. That is. Until now.

    On Gaming

    Michigan Toy Soldier Company has some plastic figures that look like they may have some potential for use in a Darkest Africa campaign as plastic alternatives to lead figures. They have Marx Re-issues of "Daktari Natives and Hunters" and a set containing a "Missionary & Female Hunter. They have Navy HQ Furniture and Army HQ Furniture.

    On T.V.
    Saturday at 3:30 PM, Book TV will present T. J. Stiles discussing his book Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War. Then, Sunday at 1:00 p.m., the book will be Jeff Benedict's Little Pink House, the story behind the Kelo eminent domain case.

    Out now on DVD: Season Three of The Venture Brothers. Complete with faux old-school Atari game box-style cover.

    Writing Exercise
    Sketch a novel in an hour