Thursday, August 19, 2010

Spinning Fantasy Settings: Go Ape!

Marvel Comics acquired the rights to publish adaptations  of the popular Planet of the Apes movies in the early 70s. The comic company slotted POTA for one of its black & white magazine titles, offering readers more mature and graphic content. The movie adaptations were good, but the original series that appeared in the magazine's 29(?) issue run were really imaginative. 

They mixed in all kinds of literary genres and technological/cultural perspectives that took the stories out of the context of the world as it it existed in the first two movies. And this brings me to the fantasy and sci-fi gaming inspiration. I think if I was going to play something like Gamma World or give a sci-fi theme to a fantasy game, I could do worse than bring such interesting elements as appeared in the back-up magazine series such as 'Terror on the Planet of the Apes' and 'Future Chronicles'.

One of the neatest concepts they had was a city-ship dominated by apes in Renaissance dress and technology (I'd guess at least 500 apes). Orangutans and gorillas vied for power, each served by chimpanzee serfs. Of course, a large human population existed below the wooden stories to power the massive juggernaut by oars. While the city-ship came to end through a civil war between the gorillas and orangutans (arranged by the machinations of the human Slinker), the 'Future Chonicles' adventures continued on the high seas. The storyline visited a cosmopolitan ship graveyard state and an encounter with a Nemo "cleanse the sea type" of guy (see the pulp-flavored cover to the right; it doesn't quite evoke the actual taste of the stories). As for the series' art - it was beautifully done by Tom Sutton. The Warhammer Fantasy artwork is very reminiscent of his style. 

So with the above notes, we have gigantic city ships, assassins, racial castes, and retro-futurist ideas ala Jules Verne. Offhand, I could easily see replacing the apes with the D&D goblinoid society of goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears. This sounds like a great encounter - or even an entire setting, especially if the floating city could assume something akin to a Casablanca- style of truce.

More on the Apes later.

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