Sunday, September 30, 2012

Confederation Chronicles: A Mobile Base of Operations - part 2

Battlestar Galactica

While advanced, it was nowhere near the levels of the prior three examples.

It did have something else: a fleet and a population that moved with the protagonists, providing a backdrop of civilization and commerce and secondary characters that the they could interact with.

Why is it significant? Well, it sets up a really nice traveling community (from village to city to mega city, depending on the resources, information, and NPCs that you need) to help change the pace of downtime scenes, to sell the idea that important services and materials are continuously available to the players as they explore unknown areas in the galaxy.

Of course, shortages can trigger necessary plotlines. And factions can push similar agendas.

Firefly / Serenity

While this neo-classic TV show / movie was about an adventuring party based on a single ship (with no weapons) on the fringes of a large Alliance of worlds, there are certainly things we can borrow from this setup.

The primary thing: what it's like to be on frontier worlds, and what it's like to be in the core. Obviously, access to things like energy weapons (and weirder things) are more prevalent in the core world, but tech levels drop (due to manufacturing and maintenance concerns) as you move away from there.

Another thing: there were some pretty nasty hush-hush projects that were partially revealed.

Who knows what other black projects reside amongst the stars, and are being covered up -- perhaps even by the members of the current fleet?

Yamato / Starblazers & Macross / Robotech

While these are very different shows, there is also that core idea of a ship separated from the civilization that birthed it, on a mission to return to and save that core civilization using alien technology that was discovered by accident.

A touch of desperation and firm resolve is mixed in with all that, along with cool fighter ships, steel-eyed captains and hotshot pilots.


The ideal campaign premise for me would mix in all these elements somehow.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Confederation Chronicles: A Mobile Base of Operations - part 01

Part of the goal for the setting is to allow a bit of the classic exploration themes pioneered by the original Star Trek series, while still retaining that frontier feel mixed in with the 'fallen empire' premise.

Several shows provide the inspiration for that!


This show is named after the ship called the Andromeda Ascendant. The ship itself is an obscenely powerful remnant from the fallen empire's military might. Dylan Hunt (played by Kevin Sorbo) commands this ridiculously powerful ship of the line that has weapons that can destroy planets, automated defenses, and internal repair and construction facilities called the Andromeda Ascendant. The only reason he has it now, long after the Long Night of the setting, is because he got trapped on the edge of the event horizon of a black hole.

The ship has a female avatar that appears onscreen, as well as in a manufactured humanoid body, affectionately called "Rommie", which allows players to interact with the ship and shout commands to it, while it speaks and expositizes to them.

This high level of technology handwaves the need for a lot of repairs and refitting and resupply (unless it's a plot point for the episode), and rationalizes why such a small crew can pilot the damn thing. It also allows players to skip having to answer to a rigid chain of command and go 'adventuring' in pursuit of their goal.

Blake's 7

Again with the ridiculously powerful ship (the Liberator), with a sentient (though less polite and helpful) computer known as Zen that quite possible caused the deaths of its prior crew, the show has the initial trio of protagonists (Blake, Jenna, and Avon) explore the nature of the ship as much as they spend running away from Federation patrols and running to places they can sabotage or get information.

The alien nature of the ship allows them some tension that Andromeda lacks when on the ship -- except when something happens to Rommie, of course -- because the crew struggles to control it and are forced to interact with Zen when it refuses to do exactly what they say.

Also, the speed of the ship allows them to criss-cross a vast interstellar empire and carry out their little missions of rebellion and revenge.


As I was reminded in the comments, there's another type of powerful ship that is also easy on the maintenance and advanced enough to be valuable: Moya the Leviathan from the TV show Farscape. Moya was from a race of living ships that bonded with Pilot from the race of Pilots, and even gave birth to another ship known as Talyn. It has little drones that perform repair and maintenance, and has a personality of its own.

Once again, there is  potential for tension due to the alien nature of the ship and its Pilot, as well as the sense that the ship is alien and isn't entirely understandable in the way that an inanimate ship built by one's own race might be.

Moya had no weapons, by the way, except for the defensive capability to Starburst (jump through a tear in space and time) to other locations. This made it interesting when other ships tracked them and shot at them.

Talyn, another Leviathan and child of Moya, had weapons -- but was more of a genetic experiment on the race of Leviathans that escaped.

Next: examples of larger ships that follow the 'aircraft carrier' role in a campaign.

Doctor Who Series 07: Spoilers and Speculation

I know it's not really the 7th Season of Doctor Who. It's more like the 7th Season of the Doctor Who series that restarted in 2005. But that's why it says Series instead of Season, hehe.

I did watch some of the old series (primarily reruns of the Tom Baker, Pertwee, Colin Baker, and Sylverster McCoy eras), and am enjoying the current series now.

This is despite the rubbery science of the show (I know that it was originally supposed to be a kid's show), and the episodes where the writing is uneven or with more deus ex machinas than normally seen in a show full of them.

[ did some reformatting on this, because I wanted to put a little bit more spoiler warning -- which has become a thing online -- before the actual spoilers and speculation of the post ]

Spoilers -- I'm not kidding!

In episode 701, a couple of things caught my eye.

First is the supposed nano-infection of Amy Pond by the nanocloud. She was supposed to be slowly turning into a humanoid Dalek -- but because she held onto human emotions (love, primarily), she was able to stave it off long enough to get off-planet. But wouldn't the nano-cloud either continue to convert her, or perhaps remain dormant?

Second, the soon-to-be new companion (Oswin) who apparently dies at the end of the episode, who is apparently a genius, has been [ LAST CHANCE -- SPOILERS! ] fully converted into a Dalek, and is apparently capable of hacking all of Dalekdom -- even capable of erasing the memory of the Doctor from the path web. She also seemed particularly pleased even though she knew she was going to die; almost like she had figured another way out.

Speculation -- worse than Spoilers!

Did she have a way out? We know she's supposed to eventually become the new companion (or perhaps a descendant or relation of hers, it's possible), and we know she'd done at least two impossible things (even for the Doctor) in terms of Dalek technology.

Did she hitch a ride on Amy's latent Dalek-ness?

And what about these rumors that Amy's not necessarily going to die, but instead transform into something else?

Eagerly awaiting the mid-season finale!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Inspiration: Online Pulp

Well, this is interesting:

It's the first chapter of what seems to be a story in the vein of old Pulp serials. While I'd advise the author, James Hutchings, to reconsider the title ("The Case of the Syphilitic Sister") to evoke a better sense of two-fisted action, the prose does have the feel of that genre of fiction.

I think that some smoothing out of the exposition is in order, particularly when imparted through dialogue. The setting and the broad strokes of the heroic characters, however, are intriguing enough for me to wait for the next installment.

Vivid, Weird Adventures: Famous Athlete Template

In a prior post, I mentioned I'd be creating a series of templates for the Weird Adventures setting, and created a list of those templates. Then I mentioned I'd be doing those templates in the Vivid system instead, as per Gods of Gondwane.

However, creating a template is rather easy in the WaRP and Vivid Systems, so I decide to try and create full characters, then adjust later to finalize the templates. So here's my first, though I do have to get a nice pic for it -- I have a temporary one for now.


Saul "the Fireball" Barlow
Ex-Major League Pitcher

Scorching Southpaw Pitcher 4d
Two-fisted sports writer 3d

Throws a mean fastball 4d
Still in shape 3d

Has a way with words 2d
Keen eyesight 2d

Bitten by adventuring bug
Harassed by Malebolge Family
Staunch believer in sportsmanship
Enemy: Samson Duggan -- former prizefighter exposed by Saul for throwing a fight
Article deadlines, darn it!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Inspiration: Blake's 7 Season 1

"I plan to live forever, or die trying." - Vila
This cover is from the audio series, but I am reviewing what I can with the original series episodes.

Blake's 7 is a fantastic resource for the Stars Without Number RPG and Fading Suns primarily as a backstory to the default setting. The Federation, once a shining beacon of interstellar civilization, falling apart due to "The Scream" -- and the universe of Blake's 7 gives us an idea of what might have been happening in certain corners of it prior to that cataclysmic event.

Freedom fighters up against an increasingly corrupt Federation, black technologies, Orwellian methods of control, powerful alien species (including yet another variant on the Cyberman / Borg melding of computers and human-ish races), varying technology levels -- all a heady mix of elements that add some gritty texture to the often idealized future.

Of course, Stars Without Number is already pretty gritty in and of itself.

Back to the series: I particularly like the dynamic of distrust between members of the crew, and the strange cliques that emerge in such a small number of people. I think that what makes it interesting to watch now, despite the slow pace compared to today's shows, is the evolution of trust between characters. While it echoes the dynamic of Firefly / Serenity, I doubt that one can consider Blake's 7 a 'family' in the same way that the crew of Firefly / Serenity came across.

Perhaps the mechanics of the Cold City / Hot War RPGs would be appropriate?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

More Output, Man!

As you know, I'm doing a PBEM thing with Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. It's slowed down a bit with my two players, and I'm wondering if it's just fatigue, real life business, or the fact that we're playing with new characters, rather than established characters.

In addition, I'm trying to crank out more Armchair Reviews (especially on that new RPG that seems to have come from the original Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game), and have encountered something odd for me.

The new Fading Suns RPG and the new Blue Planet RPG are hard to get through because they're not new. A lot of what is there is the same, or familiar enough that I get the feeling I've read the paragraph and end up skipping forward faster -- until I hit something new. It makes it harder to read, then review.

Actually, Blue Planet is more of a problem for me -- I think I'm going to have issues about the editing. Bad tense shifts in what is meant to be a straightforward history of the universe makes me worry about the rest of it. I'm going back to my older copies to see if they're pretty much the same there -- I know I didn't have those issues then, but I hadn't edited an anthology yet when I did that reading so...

Anyway, another project I'm trying to do to tie together these disparate interests is to combine Gods of Gondwane, Weird Adventures, and Doomed Slayers together somehow. It'll be nice to return to some pulp-inspired stuff.

LOTFP has sparked my interest for the Dark Corners of Mystara work I've been doing.

RuneQuest6 is currently my system of choice for Enigmundia, though it means ditching a lot of the great OSR source material out there. Anyway, LOTFP / Dark Corners of Mystara will tackle that anyway.

And what about that combined universe of Marvel & DC? Dammit, more hours in the day!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

RPG News: Champions -- The Live-Action Roleplaying Game

Ah yes, Champions: The Live-Action Roleplaying Game. The what?

I was just checking out the new list of stuff on when I stumbled upon this familiar RPG name some how combined with LARP words, and had to do a double take.

Here's the product blurb:
Champions: The Live Action Roleplaying Game brings the excitement of superheroic adventure to the world of LARPs! Using the popular Champions Universe setting from the award-winning tabletop RPG and the Champions Online MMO, Champions: Live Action gives you all the pulse-pounding adventure while allowing you to play away from the table or computer. The groundbreaking PCD system uses a simple stopwatch as a randomizer so the action never has to slow down!

This book includes:

  • The complete rules for playing the game - nothing else needed!
  • Dozens of sample characters, including the Champions themselves and several of their most fiendish adversaries!
  • An introduction to the Champions Universe, including Millennium City, the City of Tomorrow built on the ashes of Detroit!
  • Extensive advice for how to LARP in a world of superheroes and supervillains, even if you’ve never LARPed before! Costumes, props, locations, and how to recruit and manage players!
So bust out your uniform, strap on your utility belt, and get ready to smash some evil, because it’s time to play Champions: Live Action!

Could this be a lite version of the Hero System rules at last?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Armchair Review: Doomed Slayers

Doomed Slayers is not an RPG, but a sourcebook. And an unusual sourcebook it is: a campaign premise -- a rationale, if you will -- for many of the D&D adventurer tropes that have occasionally made us challenge the societal plausibility of the game setting. It can be applied to any D&D ruleset or retroclone, and can even make the adventurer's culture a significant aspect of the campaign.

Part I of the book, which explores the premise, is quite good. Within its short page count, it introduces the idea that 'doomed slayers' are a separate class or subculture of society that deals with monsters. Monsters, you see, are overtly and covertly responsible for the fall of many civilizations (even if the weakness and corruption of humans is also at fault sometimes), and often stop smaller communities from gaining a foothold in various lands. Experienced dungeon delvers familiar with the plethora of monsters out there can easily make a case for this somewhat simplistic statement, and will understand the necessity for the emergence of monster hunters in their ranks.

Much like the monster hunters seen in contemporary urban fantasy, these slayers have no real lasting place in society due to their calling. Unlike contemporary urban fantasy settings, however, Doomed Slayers posits that it is a calling that is afforded certain benefits and concessions and even grudging respect for the lifestyle. However, that tenuous relationship between society and slayer caste, is governed by a social contract.

On the part of the Slayers, there is the Slayers' Code:
  • Go where you are needed, help where you can.
  • Do not tarry where you are not needed.
  • Own only what you can take with you.
  • Fight the monsters, not your kin.
Each of these tenets and their implications are covered succinctly, and grant rationale for the roving lifestyle of these adventurers.

On the part of normal society, there are some (usually) unwritten rules:
  • Pay them what you can, appropriate to what you ask of them.
  • Do not bar their way.
  • What they find, they keep.
In addition to these, there are other nuances and extrapolations of the interplay between Society and Slayers that are tackled -- how PCs might enter the ranks of Slayers, other organizations that might arise due to the presence of the Slayer culture (Lightkeepers, Crowmen), and how some Slayers might ultimately leave those ranks (aside from death, that is).

Part II is the world, and -- at first glance, does seem like a saddeningly generic take on the fantasy setting: the Known World and its various locations, countries, and regions. However, a closer look reveals that it is actually another exploration of Slayer culture, and how the many varied, yet familiar cultures and societal structures themselves deal and interact with Slayers. Think of it as a guided tour of a world where Slayers make an impact in every corner (even Faerie and Hell).

Overall, Doomed Slayers is a good sourcebook -- however I find myself looking for more. I want more examples of different types of Slayer organizations that might have arisen -- some more like the Templars, some more like the Freemasons, and some like Hell's Angels perhaps? The intriguing premise already has me looking for more source material. This doesn't mean that Doomed Slayers isn't satisfying -- it means that it has set me up for the next expansion to this campaign premise, which will hopefully maintain its ability to translate almost all of the material into any D&D setting.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Armchair Review: Gods of Gondwane

Gods of Gondwane's subtitle says it all: Legends of the Lost Land -- Swords, Sorcery, Dinosaurs, Aliens.

It's a great 46-page RPG that manages to convey a seemingly narrow, surprisingly large kitchen sink setting that opens itself up to many approaches for play for the GM and the Players. It's powered by the Vivid System, a smooth blend of simple rules that distill the best elements of the WaRP and Silhouette systems, with a little FATE mixed in.

I think it's a perfect candidate for a Kitchen Sink Expedition, and a nice ruleset that will afford a bit more detail to my original WaRP approach to Weird Adventures.

But first, let's tackle the setting of Gods of Gondwane.


"Over a hundred million years ago, the wisest of an ancient and incredibly advanced race looked into their future – and discovered their people were extinct."

That pushes the race in question (known by a precious few as the Shapers) time-napping from the future to find out why humans had supplanted them. They began pulling humans from different eras and locales, watched them build civilizations on the supercontinent of Gondwana (known to natives as Gondwane) to discover what secret these humans hold (and destroying these civilizations when they field to yield an answer, or became too dangerous).

This premise allows for a lot of classic tropes from the OSR camp: multiple ancient civilizations with magical artifacts or super-science gadgets, underground lairs, semi-human races,weird creatures, expansionist empires and paranoid enclaves, beings in the outer void, and strange gods of unknown provenance (most of which are part of Shaper machinations and experimentation). It also allows for wallowing in the "lost world" genre, with modern (and not-so-modern) humans plucked from time and thrown into a strange land with dinosaurs and marauding humanoid creatures. It also allows for all sorts of anachronistic adventure and campaign elements to be thrown in here and there, with a powerful bogeyman that seeks to curtail the intrusion of unwanted influence in their experiments (the aforementioned Shapers).

The book also manages to provide a map of Gondwane, plus a listing of the locations on that map -- all the strange locations with their cities and civilizations and dinosaurs for the players to encounter (or in some cases, originate from).

Finally, there's an adventure involved to give the GM and Players a feel for adventuring in Gondwane.

The System

As I mentioned before, parts of the system will see familiar to fans of the d6 system, Silhouette, WaRP, and FATE. Character creation is aspect / trait oriented, with different types of aspects / traits doing different things when figuring out how many dice to roll in order to resolve a challenge.

The "riff" mechanic is a neat narrative method of tackling different exchanges in combat, while still retaining the ultimate resolve mechanic. Seeking various situational and combat advantages is in a comfortable space between traditional bonus / penalty approaches and the FATE-oriented 'tag an aspect' approach (from my limited understanding of FATE, anyway). The magic system draws more from the latter aspect, and makes psychic and magical combat and utility a different flavor from the spell list approach.


It seems that I shall be returning to this book again for both system and setting -- but don't take my word for it. Download a free copy of Gods of Gondwane from RPGNow today!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Armchair Reviews: On the Docket for September 2012

What do I have to crank out this month?

Well, aside from the long-delayed Gods of Gondwane (which I have read already, and curse vehemently for its Vivid system that has me thinking of shifting away from the work I've done for WaRP + Weird Adventures), there are a number of other books:
  • Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Event: Civil War -- The Initiative
  • Fading Suns Revised (also known by me as Fading Suns 2.5)
  • Blue Planet Revised (can't believe I'm reading this, as I have the older version and never played it)
  • Worlds Apart (Traveller rules for a Fantasy RPG? Interesting.)
  • Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition
  • Doomed Slayers (a campaign premise & setting)
  • and, of course, Shaintar for Savage Worlds

Good god, why does the industry keep cranking out interesting stuff?

Gloranthan Classics I through IV -- 50% off!

I was checking out the books available from Issaries, trying to understand this Gloranthan setting just a bit more, when I saw the following books selling at 50% off:

Gloranthan Classics Volume I - Pavis & Big Rubble

Welcome to Pavis, beware the Rubble!
is an updated and reformatted 316 page reprint of ALL of the information from the two original Chaosium Runequest boxed sets, consolidated and organized together. Additional material on the Sun Dragon cult, plus 35 additional new pieces of art specifically commissioned for the book are also included. Rediscover the Puzzle Canal, Kakstan's Art Museum, Balastor's Barracks, the Devil's Playground, and Ogre Island. Adventure once more in the greatest roleplaying city ever written. Journey along on the epic Cradle scenario!

Books IncludedScenarios IncludedCults Included

Welcome to the CityFlintnail Cult
from Pavis box:Burglery at Raus' HouseLanbril Cult
Common KnowledgeThe CradleBlack Fang Brotherhood
City GuideGriffin GatePavis Cult
EpisodesWolfhead's LairYelorna the Starbringer

Raid on YelornaZola Fel Cult
from Big Rubble box:The Devil's PlaygroundSun Dragon Cult
Common KnowledgeKrang's Table
Guide for the GamemasterThe Puzzle Canal+ Rubble Forms
EpisodesTemple at Feroda+ Bribery Table

Gloranthan Classics Volume II - Griffin Mountain

Welcome to Griffin Mountain.

Gamers have enjoyed playing in Glorantha for a long time now, over 25 years. The time is right to relaunch a major campaign source that went out of print over 20 years ago. This second edition reprint contains all of the original supplement, several articles printed in magazines, over 35 new pieces of additional art, designer's notes, and a never before published treatise on Running a Gloranthan Campaign by Greg Stafford. It also includes a separate 12 page set of player handouts.

Griffin Mountain was the largest game adventure ever published when it was first printed and it established a new state-of-the-art in roleplaying. It is a complete depiction of Balazar, a section of Glorantha just north of Dragon Pass and north-west of Prax. Unlike many source-books which offer worlds, Griffin Mountain goes into detail about the inhabitants (not just how many people live in what village), giving in depth views of their leaders, their lives, and their land. This is not a dungeon adventure. The book is aimed at an holistic, above-ground campaign. Almost all of the material can be adapted to a GM's own campaign, including weather charts, personalized encounters, found encounters, a merchant caravan, barbaric citadels, and two new cults, Foundchild and Cacodemon.

Griffin Mountain details an area 800 kilometers wide. The Elder Wilds is where non-humans live and high adventure thrives. Balazar is a sparsely populated hunting ground for approximately 12,000 human barbarians, a wild frontier where anything can happen. This book contains extensive notes on the area's geography, history, and inhabitants.

Meet King Yalaring Monsterslayer who became king of the citadel of Trilus by right of conquest. Visit picturesque Elkoi, built by giants. Trade with Joh Mith, a fat, jovial caravan master with high bargaining skills. Gamble with Hen Cik, one of the caretakers of a legendary castle in Giant Land. Cross the dangerous River of the Damned (full river crossing rules inside). Quest for the powerful windberries, rumored to be found on Griffin Mountain itself. Beware of the ever-present baboons, bears, dragonewts, dwarves, elves, dinosaurs, wild hawks, trolls . . .

Get your adventurers ready for a glorious time in Griffin Mountain!

Gloranthan Classics Volume III - Cult Compendium

Welcome to the Cult Compendium.

In the fantasy roleplaying world of Glorantha, magic works because relations between the spiritual and physical planes are firm and immediate. Maintaining good ties with your chosen god allows your character to learn special magics or to receive visions of other places, provides him with trusty companions in a cut-throat world, and may even give him the chance for divine intervention to escape a tight spot. In many ways Glorantha has a depth and consistency unparalleled in gaming.

Over 40 religions originally printed in Cults of Prax, Cults of Terror, and Trollpak are detailed here. A guideline chapter shows how to design your own new cults. To round out the book I have also added in Gloranthan cults from White Wolf and Different Worlds magazines. Associated background articles from Wyrms Footnotes and similar sources give you a complete breakdown on how rune magic, spirit magic, elementals, and runes operate within the game world. To wrap up the book I've added all of the designer's notes, some of which have never been published before. A vastly improved index makes this material accessible all in one book. The topics are vividly detailed with the addition of over 50 new pieces of art, bringing the total over 110 snapshots into cult life (and death). Lastly, it's also worth mentioning that I've added genealogies for the various pantheons along with an updated cult compatibility chart surpassing even the one found in the RuneQuest Companion. In the end, it is a book that can provide untold hours of Gloranthan reading and gaming fun.

This book offers over 100 Rune and Battle magic spells and skills not in the standard rules, handy for the gamer intent on long-living characters. The wealth of conceptual material can be applied to any roleplaying game. Referees will enjoy the many new lines of thought; dozens of examples of tribal behavior and custom can make any encounter more realistic. Excerpts from The Travels of Biturian Varosh and The Reminiscenses of Paulis Longvale suggest many scenarios while providing local color.

Gloranthan Classics Volume IV - Borderlands & Beyond

Welcome to the Borderlands

This is an updated and reformatted 300+ page reprint of ALL of the information from the original Chaosium Borderlands boxed set, Plunder, and Runemasters, as written for the Runequest 2 rules.

I have also included additional Plunder items, expanded Runemasters character histories, and loads of background info from Nomad Gods and Wyrms Footnotes magazine. The interior is lavishly illustrated with dozens of new pictures from Simon Bray, Dario Corallo, plus loads of oldies but goodies from Lisa Free, Luise Perrinne, Gene Day and Rick Becker.

Oh, and there's a special bundle as well where you can get everything here at $60 (for something valued at $160).

Earth-641: The Emerald Eye, The Guardians, and Magic

According to DC, during the weekly 52 series, the will-shaped green-colored abilities that come from the Green Lantern power rings was supposedly based on the abilities of the being called Ekron.

This powerful being (which piloted what looks like the head of a giant tusked creature), was also created or commanded by the Guardians, had the abilities that the GLs would later have. In addition, in the time of the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Eye(s) of Ekron retain their almost godlike abilities without the apparent need to recharge.

But Ekron was also the name of a city that the Philistine Ba'al (there were many beings named ba'al, which is understood to mean 'lord' or 'master'), who may have been known both as Ba'al Zebul (which has been translated as 'lord prince' or 'lord of the house') or Ba'al Zebub (which has been translated as 'lord of the flies', but could be a denigrating epithet that originated from the true name).

Might there be a connection to the mystical side of things?

The Starheart

Well, we know that the original lantern of Alan Scott was a semi-sentient thing called the Starheart. The Starheart was a collection of all the magic in that the Guardians could gather in the Universe -- apparently concerned about necromantic powers contaminating magic, and quite possibly to exert the control that they're so intent on imposing on the universe.

Perhaps a substantial amount of magical energy -- in some way -- has been stolen or converted by the Guardians into cosmic energy. Perhaps their mastery of what they call the Emotional Electromagnetic Spectrum is tied to that. And their lies about where life originated in the universe are part of more yet-to-be-revealed secret?