Starlight Mage Number 1

A trial edition

²1988 Steve Marsh

P.O.Box 2552

Wichita Falls, TX 76307

Warning: Certain portions of this zine will likely offend or address sensitive topics. I will attempt to warn of these with *editorial* warnings (like *spoiler warning* is used in book reviews).

*editorial* The Israel/Palestinian problem. Written February 1988.

I'm going to talk about the problem and its parts. It is relevant both from a simulations standpoint (same problems can come up with dwarves/elves or humans/aliens in a campaign) and from a real world standpoint. It will be important to note that some of the parts of the problem do not look like a problem to most of those talking about the issue.

1. Palestinians are "treated better" (i.e. can make more money) in Israel than anywhere else. This is very important. If there was a nearby nation that treated the Palestinians better than Israel the situation would not be so much of a pressure cooker. (Note that some countries, such as Egypt, try, but their economies are weak).

Instead, the Palestinians have no place better to go. That has caused widespread attitude adjustments in the population.

2. Palestinians have a greater population growth than the Israeli nationals. This is important because it means that if the Palestinians become citizens, then they will control the country (by voting) in a generation.

3. Palestinians live in the desirable portion of the Israeli "frontier." This means that the more time that passes, the more investment, in time, money and dreams, Israeli nationals will make in "Palestinian areas." (by the term "Palestinian areas" I mean conquered regions outside of Israel in 1966.)

4. The land has limited resources for which the Israeli nationals have an upper hand in "competing." Things like water rights, sea coasts and farm land.

In the area of competition I include things such as the policy of Iron Broom (named after an operation undertaken in the war which created the Israeli state), legal action, and credit. I also include things such as the ban on Palestinians planting trees (they are not allowed to plant trees) and the great difference in civil rights.

5. The Israeli nationals are still in danger of "extermination." No question, there are large numbers of people who would like to accomplish that act. This fact intrudes on every decision and every political process in the country.

All of these factors, taken together, produce some severe problems.

A. Palestinians have no hope of a better future. They live in the "frontier" area and are faced with continuous (unfair/successful) competition by an aggressive, growing culture. Lack of hope for the future is a major cause of the widespread civil discontent and civil disobedience.

B. The Israeli nationals have no place to return to (other than Israel). C. There are no simple solutions. The Palestinians cannot just be forced to leave by outcompeting them. That only works until they discover there is no better place to go. The Israeli state cannot incorporate the people with the land. A State can only make that work when the people in the land won't overrun and outvote the incorporators and the State is not in real danger from hostile neighbors.

Add to this problem the fact that the land is becoming ungovernable. Unless gasoline, diapers and rocks are taken from the Palestinians there is no stopping the molitav cocktails, false bomb threats (just leave a diaper behind on a bus and watch what happens) and rock throwing (just like David and Goliath).

Cherryh's Morgaine novels often have subthemes like that. The Qhular have more technology. The men breed faster. The result is uneven dynamics. This is best illustrated by her latest: Exile's Gate.

Oh. No. I don't have a ready solution for Israel. I don't even have an "unready" solution. There are short term solutions. Stall. That isn't working. Work toward making all the Palestinians full citizens. That could mean death and disaster in twenty years, the end of the dream and great evil. Pre-emptive genocide. That means the moral death of the state and great evil now. Separate out Palestinian homelands. It isn't working for South Africa and the "frontier" is so overrun by Israeli nationals that it won't work for Israel without a civil war.

No ready solution for Israel means I see no ready solution for the United States. How can we "push" a solution if there isn't one.

As for South Africa, take Israel, imagine Palestinians migrating into the country and give them a neighbor where the Israeli nationals lost control (Zimbabwe/ Rhodesia) and ask yourself what is going to happen. Zimbabwe must be made to succeed. If that can be made to happen, then there is hope. If not, well, the SPI simulation is rather candid. Both sides can kill each other forever without any change in the balance of power.

*end editorial*

Begin Essay

Hacking your way through Musical Chairs

Musical Chairs is a superteam. It has a large number of members, few of which are available at any one time. Part of this is because many of the members have powers with limited availability. The main reason is that many of the members are averse to each other (each other's hunteds, etc.). The constantly changing membership has given rise to the group's name (the press joked about how the team played "musical chairs" with the membership).

One advantage/use for the team is substituting in characters for your campaign when someone (or several someones) can't make it for a night of play. In addition, many of the heros also make great villains.

The entire Musical Chairs superteam is designed with the end product of fun in mind. The characters are not expected to be "perfect" or to be well balanced. All characters are given an excessive point allowance (300+ points are allowed), given access to OAF foci and focused requisites, in order to allow just about any concept you care to use. Even just a straightforward mutant.

Excepting that you have to have at least 100 points of disadvantages. And I'd prefer at least 170 (plus the 30 point experience bonus) for a 300 point character. The reason being that 170 is over the break even point. Skip the the 4% stuff.

Ok, so you've got more points than your GM ever allowed, and a free reign to use every trick or combination of tricks you've ever thought of (almost. The latest edition rules still apply on disadvantages that don't disadvantage). What next?

First, design yourself. Remember, you get some professional and personal skills for free. Next, improve yourself (I added some to my COM and INT).

That should have gotten you into the spirit. The next step is to design your disadvantages. Start by hacking on your worst problems/mistake/feature in TWH. For example, my character only communicates on a roll of 11- (14- if listener makes INT roll). Bob Butler's character is enraged by illogical statements.

Next, add in "disadvantages" that apply to you (or that ought to apply to you). One friend of mine took "celibate." I took honorable, code against killing and diverts to protect innocent. That is how I'd like to be. In her "Thundrax Campaign" hack, Win (Andrea Chars) took protects small children and ducks.

Following the personal disadvantages and the beginning hack, it is time to hack the team concept. Create some disadvantages that work into someone else's character concept. Add in a team member as your hunted. Give yourself an aversion to someone else's major power or side effect.

My character, for family reasons, has an aversion and hatred for cthuloids and Sandy Petersen's character is a bit cthuloid. In addition, my character takes extra points from iron and is iron averse while at least one other person's character turns into iron. Using other examples, Bob Butler is hunted by Glenn Blacow and the Golden Dragon (John T. Sapienza, Jr.) is hunted by (St.) George Phillies.

Focus on your friends or on third parties. Do not, repeat, do not include any real hostilities. This is a fun hack -- not an APAwar clone.

Next, total up the disabilities and see if they are less than or equal to 270. If so, add in 30 points of experience. If not, decide whether your character needs all those disability points (mine did, yours may not). Then start work on the character's superhero name. I chose "Untitled Hero" as a play on my current zine title. Bob Butler got named Delta Flame (and has a second hero called Chaos Feedback) as obvious hacks. Golden Dragon is for John Sapienza.

Working from the name and the disabilities, pick some powers. I started with ones I'd like to have (such as FTL travel). A "waste" of points in a game, but fun for a hack. In general, pick powers that fit in with the concept.

For example, the Golden Dragon has a flame breath weapon and a gas breath weapon. Both limited to three uses a day, both in an elemental with his bite/claw attack so he can either breath or bite/claw, but not both. (D&D lives again). He also flies and has other dragonish powers. My character, being a spell user, has a collection of spells and some other general powers to bring him together.

When finished, begin the real hack -- the origination and the character description. Wrap it all together and put it in TWH. I will use for my Hardeman House write-up every member of Musical Chairs whose originator is willing to give me the ok.

End Essay

Begin General Comments and Reviews

Recently we had a DTPA (Deceptive Trade Practices Act) case where a man sold a house without disclosing the fact that it was infested with blind snakes. At ten to fourteen inches, the pallid white creatures burrow through soft loam (and soft walls) like overgrown earthworms. They are generally harmless, but the people had over a hundred of them come through the walls. That is a clipping that belongs in a Call of Cthulu scenario. Brian McCue, are you listening?

The Folk of the Air, Peter S. Beagle, Del Rey, $4.50, 375 pages.

A good book. Would have blown the socks off of them in the early to mid-seventies (it has just the right flavor). Fantasy meets the SCA and an ancient goddess.

There are some problems with the scale and the mechanics of godhood in this book. All of them can be solved by assuming that the gods in the book are not telling the mortals the straight poop.


Exile's Gate, C.J. Cherryh, DAW, $3.95, 414 pages.

Morgaine's history is revealed. At least enough of it that I want to see a "prequel" type novel about her and her father. Aside from lots of interesting tid-bits, this novel continues the development of the leading characters and depends only somewhat on idiotic decisions by the characters for minor portions of the plot development.

It paints a society that has controlled its flux and introduces the reader to new facts about the gates. Can be read without reading earlier novels (Cherryh does a good job of controlling context to illustrate old knowledge from a relevant view point so that new readers can enjoy but old readers will not feel lectured or bored). Hard to put down.

*spoiler warning* Given the knowledge the winner will have, Morgaine is committed to killing Chei/etc. regardless of who wins the possession struggle. That seemed a hidden twist against the positive resolution of the tragic elements. Unless, of course, Cherryh does a new novel where Chei/etc. joins Morgaine's quest. She is desperately in need of a strategic stop.

After all, the anti-gate project is down to the third generation and last person. Tight odds for saving the universe. I would sure take that strategic stop to review, renew and plan. Running headlong into disasters is not the way to cope with limited personnel and resources. Hmm, maybe that is the key to the next novel. *End spoiler*

My new zine format is editorial, essay, general comments & reviews, comments on zines. This goes with my zine's new name. I'm open to comments and suggestions on the format.

Untitled Hero (a/k/a The Starlight Mage, my personal hack for Hardeman House)

Unknown origin. When questioned he has said that he made the mistake of reading too much and talking to the wrong people. (Secret ID: Roger Mylonas. Married to Ariel Mylonas, Secret ID of Lionfire. Both have their character's powers based on their George Phillies PBM Campaign characters). (See George's old write-ups). ADVANTAGES

20 STR 10 40 Multipower (star spells)

20 DEX 30 06 Regeneration (2pt, +½ advantage, works when dead)

20 CON 20 06 Life Support

15 Body 10 04u FTL (x64 speed)(base 55 ly/day)(3,520 ly/day)

23 INT 13 02 Flight

15 EGO 10 04u Teleport

15 PRE 05 02u X-Ray Vision

20 COM 05 03u N-Ray Vision

04 PD 00 01u High Range Radio

04 ED 00 02u Instant Change

06 SPD 30 06 Telepathy

16 REC 16

52 END 06 40 OIF Armor 18PD 18ED

35 STN 00 39 OIF Magical Energy Weapon Multipower

Summon on 14-

60 point reserve

12u 12d6EB

06u power 4d6 RKA

affects desolid, does not affect solid

05 Skill: luck 1d6

05 Skill: computer programming 14-

05 Skill: security systems 14-

01 Skill: B.S. Engineering (I don't have one, but would like)

02 Skill: Ph.D. Astrology/Astronomy

-- Skill: Climbing 8-

-- Skill: Profession (attorney)





Affliction of Iron x2 110 points

(x2 stun Iron, x2 body Iron, 2d6 susceptibility iron, Aversion Iron)

Needs Starshine 05 (8-)

Enraged vs. Elder Race Creatures 20 (14-/11-)

Enraged when attacked dishonorably 20 (11-/11-)

Strange looks (jealousy) 10 (11-)

Communicate 15 (11-/14-)

(14- if listener makes Int roll)

(failure = perceived as nonsense)

Honorable 20

Overconfident 20

Secret ID 15

Protects Innocents 10 (20, reduced as culm. psych limit)

Hunted Minor Darklings 15 8-

Emotional Attachment (total/irr.) 10 (20, reduced as culm. psych limit)




Total Points for character = 328, total to spend = 370; 42 points unused. Lionfire, Win's hack for Hardeman House


15 Multiform, two 150 over base point forms

15 STR 05 Fire Form (uses OAF wand)

15 DEX 15 55 Multipower (110 point reserve)

15 CON 10 12 12d6 EB

25 Body 30 06u 8d6 EB Area Affect

14 INT 04 12 Forcefeild PD

15 EGO 10 12 Forcefeild ED

20 PRE 10 12 Flying

22 COM 06 12 Forcewall

03 PD 00 12 IR Vision

03 ED 00 02 Professional Skill: Ph.D in thermodynamics

04 SPD 15 Lion Form

06 REC 00 30 point Elemental

70 END 20 30 4d6 hth killing

40 STN 00 30 PD Forcefeild (fur)

30 ED Forcefeild (fur)

05 extra running OAF amulet

05 clinging OAF amulet

05 UV vision

150 point total for lion form

05 Skill: tracking

05 Skill: one level lion (bite, run, cling)

-- Base Form Professional skill: Animal Science/Pharmaceutical sales.

07 Base Form Skill: 3d6 Luck OAF Amulet





Enraged vs dogs & wolves & like 25 (11-/11-)

x1½ stun fire 10

Fastidiously clean 05 (10, reduced as culm. psych limit)

Involuntary change, spilled blood 20 (11-)

Emotional attachment 20 psych limit

(Untitled Mage)

Hunted: Trophy (supervillian) 20 (8-)

Hunted: Hounds of Tin 20 (8-)

Overconfident 20 psych limit

DPNPC (Pilferbaby*) 05 (8-)

Emotional Attachment 10 (20, reduced as culm. psych limit)

(Pilferbaby*, total)

Secret ID 15

Experience 30

(advantages total < 300)



Total Points for character = 297, total to spend = 299**; 2 points unused**.

(*if anyone asks, I'll do Pilferbaby)(**remember, limit of 299 to get experience) The Origins of Southern Knights, Henry & Audrey Vogel/Comics Interview, $4.95.

Whenever a comic series reissues (very) old zines in a book format, it owes a duty to the purchasers to retouch the art-work and generally rectify things. The author carries his load here (with several pages of "bridging" text, but the artist fails. Not bad, but . . .

Southern Knights is one of the oldest continuing black & white comic strip in print. It is also the first comic book put out regularly by Comix Interview. And the first "Champions based" comic book. Set in Atlanta Georgia it features Electrode (a true "flying zapper"), Kristin (the team "brick")(no supername given), Connie, an NND martial artist (uses a no-body NND sword) and Dagon the Dragon (err, John, what category do dragons fit into?). There is also an Aramis a part-time team member/ magic-user who is not detailed in the introduction.

More on this team when I've had a chance to read something newer. I've heard that the stories are well plotted and that the art-work is greatly improved. And our local "chain" store carries Southern Knights along with their other "mainstream" titles.

Southern Knights, et. al. gives me hope for Scott Bennie's Thundrax campaign write-ups (Thundrax is the name I think of). Scott has good plotting, solid writing and (I hope) acceptable art-work. Looking about, his material is good enough to go professional.

Also, now that I have read it, I can admit that I was worried about another superteam out there with a Dragon as a member. I was pretty sure that John T. Sapienza, Jr. a/k/a The Golden Dragon had to be unique. Luckily, I was right -- just not as right as I thought. John can take care of that with a good origin story.


Mark Swanson/Marc Willner: Read and enjoyed but no comments to add.

John T. Sapienza, Jr.: I prefer your spirit spells to the Chaosium method. // I would note that societies using Sorcery are expected to dominate those with only spirit magic.

You thought more Adams was bad, have you seen the advertisements for the Gor movie?

Glenn Blacow: Which word processing program are you using (I recall hearing that you had Multimate, PC-Write, Leading Edge and perhaps others)?

You are right on "The Old Man." I made changes (though the rules allow focusing skills with sufficient justification) (wait till you see my computer brained NPC that puts skills <computer programs> in a multipower <points = processing power; slots = programs.)(The rules only require sufficient justification . . .)

Scott Bennie: Thanks for continuing the write-up.

Brian McCue: Large megatonnage weapons are fairly easy to build. Most of the power comes from heating up "waste product" (uraninum not useable for other purposes). That is why they only need to test the fuses these days (or why test explosions are so small anymore).

I liked the print in zine 44 much more than the print in zine 45.

I do believe you are very right as to the importance of comments.

Robert Huff: I'm really enjoying the write-ups but would like a(n occassional) character write-up too (character sheets like George Phillies did). Howard Mahler: I enjoyed the statistics essay. What value did you finally put on K for the Princeton tournaments?

Robert & Ruie Clifford: I've really been enjoying the Japanese stories. You do them well.

Bill & Pam Ricker: I don't believe that 20Gs is too fast for a missile. As I've said, we build them better in the U.S.A. now. My complaint is that Traveller acts as if 20Gs is too fast for a missile -- and we build them better in the U.S.A. now. . .

You've inspired a zine on the "Indo-European Root Tongue Language Group" and its proto religion.

Szigetvar . . . last time I read about it was in National Geographic. Of course the first time I read about it was in one of your zines.

Re: Beyond Heaven's River, please explain to me the dissappearing characters and the flaws with the story. Heck, I'd also like to be enlightened as to the plot.

I must admit that I have reacted badly to novels that were good fables but bad stories (Brokedown Palace left too many story questions unanswered), good plots but bad stories, etc. If a novel fails to carry off the story as well as its alternate purpose, I'm usually displeased.

Its not asking too much. C.S. Lewis did it. Tolkien did it (too well. His story pretty much hides everything). Patricia McKillup does it regularly.

(Yes, I would appreciate an explanation of Beyond Heaven's River, and yes, I still feel it was a bad novel because it failed to execute the story clearly.)

As a blond greek (half), decended from a blond greek (my Mother, full), from a family of blond greeks (the Mylonas family -- Grandfather works at Mycenae), I'm interested in Celtic history -- but probably a different branch than you are.

Christianity, as a branch of Judaism, is rather old.

General Comment: Several years ago some friends of mine were interviewing "refugees" in a catholic church about the "government" forces who had driven them from their homes. Molly, a rather unreformed centrist, was familiar with the area and was hoping to identify the military unit responsible.

"What did their uniforms look like?" After all, you can tell alot from uniforms. Hmm. Turns out that the forces were not wearing uniforms. "Describe the guns they carried" The different units are armed differently. Hmm. The description she got invariably pointed to AK-47s.

At this point the "humanitarian" workers, who were providing a "neutral" interface to the press, threw her out. The news story on the event blamed the El Salvador government for the incident and justified the "refugees" illegal entrance into the United States.

I have not trusted a news release from/about that source since. Haven't seen Molly for years. Suspect she is still mad about that too.

The "War" on Drugs. If the government were really serious, they would license privateers and issue letters of marque. Completely constitutional. Cheaper than police too.

Moscow Economics. You have, of course, read R.A.H. on his visit to the Soviet Union and his estimates of the "real" population of the S.S.R.s. Or the recent press on how the Soviet Union has show 0% growth for the last ten years. Comments?

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