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Lyle Zapato

Airship Troopers: Volcanic Dinosaur Island of Doom

Lyle Zapato | 2010-10-09.8400 LMT | Entertainment | Lost Worlds | Cephalopods
'Airship Troopers' cover

If you're in the mood for some old-school roleplay gaming in a pulp-adventure milieu set between 1900 and 1940, why not try Airship Troopers: Volcanic Dinosaur Island of Doom by Oliver Parkhurst, the first release of the Zeppelin Age line. (NB: The publisher, Heliograph, sent me a free copy because they used my font, Duarte Juramento, for some of the illustration labels.)

As the name implies, the game centers around airships and exotic island locations (I assume future installments of the promised Zeppelin Age series will have airships in other scenarios). I'm not an RPG player so I can't comment too much on Heliograph's DECO System: it uses dice; is run by a Director; has Moxie Checks when your character takes damage; awards Pavlov Points to reinforce entertaining roleplay; and defines characters by Trademarks, Motivations, and Hooks.

While in our reality Zeppelins were never that successful, Airship Troopers imagines a world where they are a major form of transportation. The difference that makes this reality possible is Monarch Airways, owned by wealthy and forward-thinking Ozma Tippitarius, whose mysterious sources of funding and helium keep the airship industry aloft and thriving. The titular Airship Troopers handle Monarch security and are able to deploy from airships thanks to Rocketeer-style rocket-packs called Firebirds. Well, they actually deploy thanks to gravity; the Firebirds let them get back.

Besides the Monarch backstory, there's lots of interesting info on real Zeppelin history, technology, and operations, including a Zeppelin Owner's Operation Manual (or Z.O.O.M.). While your Zeppelin can fly for days without fear of crashing, maintaining neutral buoyancy isn't as easy as one might suspect. If you deploy personnel or cargo, you loose their weight and must compensate by venting gas, of which you only have a limited supply. If they return, you must then drop water ballast, which again is limited. Going up and down relatively quickly also means expending gas and ballast. Unless your engines are running on Blau gas, using fuel decreases weight and requires gas venting. Environmental conditions can affect the effectiveness of the gas, requiring adjustments to the gas/ballast ratio. Balancing these two resources without running too low on either to safely control the ship necessitates skill and experience.

To explain the day-to-day operations of Zeppelins, the book introduces Monarch Airways' experimental testbed, the MAA Zenobia, which was retrofitted from the real-life R-80. Included are a blueprint, walkthrough, and descriptions of crew duties.

Being transportation, airships aren't very useful unless you have somewhere to go. Where you choose to take your airship in your game is up to you, and the book's outline of the DECO system and airship info can serve to build any Zeppelin Age adventure you want. But as you've guessed from the sub-title and Chris Appel's cover art, Parkhurst has some ideas of where your Zeppelin should be headed.

Welcome to the Volcanic Dinosaur Island of Doom (or just the Island)!

The Island is an environment filled with pulpy goodness for your Airship Troopers to explore and be killed by. And yes, there are dinosaurs. You could even play as a dinosaur; the character section suggests Uncommon Descriptions that include not only a Wonderdog (à la Rin-Tin-Tin) but a Wondersaur (T. Rex-Tin-Tin?), and there's a Wondersaur named Sandy described in an example adventure in the Director's section.

All the pulp staples are here: lost cities, mad scientists, gangsters, jungle girls, Neanderthals, giant arthropods, man-eating plants, weird fungi, Nazis, the Red menace. Of course, not everything listed has to be on your game's version of the Island. They're all just suggestions. The example adventure provides character/creature stats for a number of them, but it's easy to create your own.

Of particular interest to my readers, the Island is potentially home to a menagerie of terrestrial cephalopods: lakeside croctopus, giant elephantopus of the grasslands (reminiscent of the Umbrella Beasts from "The Octopus Cycle", as seen on this pulp cover [UPDATE: more about it here]), cave-dwelling stalactopus and stalagmopus, airfaring zeptopus, and naturally forest-dwelling treetopus. Since there's already Wondersaurs, perhaps you'll consider playing as a plucky arboreal Wonderpus sidekick. Also, the mixture of tree octopuses and dinosaurs means this will happen.

Lyle Zapato

Posters For Haiti

Lyle Zapato | 2010-03-05.5330 LMT | Announcement | Art | Entertainment
Lyle Zapato

Font: Halloween Roller

Lyle Zapato | 2009-02-10.5910 LMT | Art | Retro

Halloween Roller

Halloween Roller is based on the title text of a WPA poster for a roller-skating carnival held in NYC's Central Park on Halloween, 1936 (mimicked above). Most characters are very angular with only slight curves on the normally rounded parts, except for the "O" and related characters which are incongruently perfect circles. Includes lowercase and Cyrillic.

Lyle Zapato

Font: Clean Your Neighborhood

Lyle Zapato | 2008-05-14.1120 LMT | Art | Retro

Mayor LaGuardia sez: 'Clean Your Neighborhood!' Detritus in unswept alleyways promote juvenile delinquency & mobsterism. If you see an unattended tin-can or penny-candy wrapper... PICK IT UP. Together we can fight the scourge of GLOBAL UNKEMPTNESS.

Introducing my newest font, Clean Your Neighborhood. It comes from a WPA poster issued by the NYC Tenement House Dept. under Mayor LaGuardia. Apparently, during the 1930s people were just throwing cans, barrels, wooden boards, crumpled garbage bins, and shirts willy-nilly throughout the city alleyways, making a real mess. No wonder everyone was so depressed! LaGuardia put a stop to it by enlisting the unemployed to tidy the place up a bit. Depression solved!

(Of course, a side-effect of LaGuardia's clean-up effort was the removal of all the psychotronically shielding bits of tin from Tin Pan Alley, thus exposing New York's previously sheltered paranoid culture to the ravages of mind control, replacing depressive realism with psychotronically programmed "happiness".)

Also, for those who never read my "What's New" box on the front page, I noticed that I neglected to mention my last font on the blog, so, here it is: Slow Down Girls!

Slow Down Girls!

Lyle Zapato

Yeti-Sasquatch Transpacific Brotherhood

Lyle Zapato | 2007-06-12.1330 LMT | Sasquatch Issues | Cascadia | Crass Commercialism | Art

Yeti-Sasquatch Transpacific Brotherhood emblem

Next year will mark the octocentennial of the Yeti-Sasquatch Transpacific Brotherhood accord, which was inaugurated with vigorous hand throttling by the Yeti and Sasquatch representatives at the 1208 Global Hominoid Congress held in Sakteng, Bhutan. The accord ended ninety-three years of hostility that started after a disagreement at a stomper tournament (the details of which were wisely forgotten).

Shipping containers
Yeti arrive in Cascadia.

For 799 years since, Yeti and Sasquatch have enjoyed good barter relations and an open border policy that has led to close cultural ties between the two hominoids -- ties that are stronger now than ever. Yeti wishing to reach Cascadia for barter or to emigrate have long had to cross the Bering Strait on ice drifts during the winter months. This constriction in cross-cultural flow changed in the twentieth century when Yeti discovered and took advantage of human trade routes, and now Yeti can travel year-round by hiding in shipping containers bound from China and India to major Cascadian ports.

The next time you're down by the docks in Little Yetitown, do your meager human part to support the Yeti-Sasquatch Transpacific Brotherhood by visiting a Yeti bartering-post container, where you can browse the yak-dung sculptures of Yeti artisans or try a traditional Teh-Lma delicacy of live Himalayan sucker frogs.

Serious historians of international hominoid agreements, as well as hipsters who enjoy being <finger-quote>ironic</finger-quote>, can also buy Cafepress shirts (human sizes only, sorry) emblazoned with the official commemorative emblem -- which, by the way, uses my newly released font: Greensboro.

Lyle Zapato

"A New Dawn for the Tree Octopus"

Lyle Zapato | 2007-03-09.2560 LMT | Cephalopods | Cascadia | Art | Crass Commercialism

Introducing the poster "A New Dawn for the Tree Octopus", issued by the Cascadian Department of Cephalopod Conservation to raise awareness of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus's plight. It depicts a lone tree octopus in the coastal forests of Hood Canal waking from her coniferous lair to a New Dawn for her species. Are you doing your part to help save the tree octopus?

(The poster was created by artists employed by the Cascadian Works Progress Administration, which provides honest jobs for honest barter to unemployed Sasquatch trained in the vector arts.)

Currently I'm making the image available on a mini poster, large poster, and postcards. If anyone is interested in having it on anything else, let me know.

As a bonus, the poster uses my newest font: Enemy Sub! (Actually, I made the font over a year ago and just procrastinated putting it up.)

Also, I updated the Tree Octopus logo used on the merchandise in the shop. I ate my own dog food by using my Duarte Centenario font, which, while not as patriotic as the previously used Tahoma, does look better with the rough tentacle ribbon image. If you bought a product with the older image, it's now a valuable collector's item. Sell it on eBay and get rich!

Lyle Zapato

Fonts: Submarine vs. Whale

Lyle Zapato | 2005-04-25.5400 LMT | Nature

Type sample

Submarine vs. Whale is an Art-Nouveau-ish font based on the heading of a 1911 illustrated account of Lieutenant Chester W. Nimitz's encounter with whales while commanding the USS Narwhal. It's cleaner than the original, but still has some irregularity in the curves to give it character. Great for tales of underwater Edwardian adventure!

Lyle Zapato

Fonts: Duarte Centenario y Duarte Juramento

Lyle Zapato | 2005-04-20.6000 LMT | Philately

Here are two fonts I just created...

Type sample

Duarte Centenario is a somewhat irregular title font. Good for your resistance movement's posters calling for the overthrow of foreign rule.

Type sample

Duarte Juramento works well for comic lettering. Or serious lettering.

This pseudo-family is based off of hand lettering from a 1938 Dominican Republic stamp (Scott #335) honoring the centennial of La Trinitaria, an underground resistance movement led by Juan Pablo Duarte that helped repel the Haitians from the eastern side of Hispaniola. The country name and the names of the three founding Trinitarios (Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, and Ramón Matías Mella) were written in what is now Centenario. The entire Oath of the Trinitarios (including vexillogical directives) was squeezed into a triangle of microprint, which I have made into Juramento. (Both the originals had no accents, but the fonts have full sets of accented glyphs.)

I have also created a fonts page to house them and any future fonts I make.