Category Archives: Imaginary Movies

BoL: Mission to Enceladus

It’s time for another imaginary movie with Barbarians of Lemuria (etc.) stats for the major players. This time, let’s check out a completely fictional East German science fiction “classic.”

In 1974, after the success of Stanley Kubrick’s film of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Andrei Tarkovsky’s version of Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris, the East Germans decided to get in on the deeply philosophical (and sometimes psychedelic) science fiction film action. Thus was born Einsatz zu Enceladus (Mission to Enceladus), which tells the story of a group of international explorers traveling to (oddly enough) Enceladus, one of the moons of Saturn. This being East Germany in the thick of the Cold War, the film is replete with Communist/Socialist propaganda despite its initial conceits of an East-West partnership in exploring space.

Under the auspices of the IWP (Internationale Weltraumforschung Partnerschaft, or international space exploration partnership), a crew comprised of an American soldier, a British scientist, a Russian cosmonaut, and an East German engineer set out in a Soviet spacecraft for Enceladus after a number of radio transmissions – in ancient Greek! – are received from that icy moon. The first half of the film or so consists of slow, largely silent shots of the crew performing their assorted duties and looking at very nice computer readouts, rather like the filmmakers were aping 2001 very closely and carefully.

The propaganda starts to creep in about the time the crew passes Mars (the Red Planet, get it?). At this point the swaggering, cartoonish American soldier, Colonel Rick Carson, begins hitting on the taciturn yet beautiful (and intelligent!) Soviet pilot, Commander Valentina Yegorova. Carson tries to buy her affections with stories of American excess. He breaks into a musical number (yes, it’s wildly out of place) in the style of Elvis movies. And ultimately he tries to force himself on her, only to be stopped with a strong punch to his glass (lantern) jaw by the ugly yet honest and upstanding (and intelligent!) East German engineer, Lieutenant Knut Volkmann. Being a creature of much bluster and little-to-no substance, Carson backs down immediately.

Throughout all of this the British scientist, Professor Alec Baxter-Pearl, is shown to be a weak-willed (and incompetent!) lackey of the domineering American.

Once the ship reaches Saturn the movie turns back towards the somber. For what feels like a very long time, we are treated to some slightly less stunning visuals and more of the slow, quiet shots. Eventually, an outpost is sighted on the surface of Enceladus – an outpost that looks for all the world like the Parthenon perched high atop an outcropping of rock rising from the icy seas that cover the moon.

The ship’s landing module, piloted by Yegorova, descends to the surface, with all four crew members aboard. Once on Enceladus, Carson, Volkmann, and Baxter-Pearl set out to explore the “ruins” and perhaps make contact with whoever lives there. Yegrova stays behind to helm the landing module in case of any trouble.

The three explorers discover a set of long stairs cut into the rock and ascend to the summit. They poke about the marble structures and are eventually greeted by a sole white-furred, yeti-like being wearing Greek-style clothing. The creature converses with Baxter-Pearl, revealing himself to be Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods. When he is told that the Olympian gods are no longer found on Earth, he flies into a rage and vows to destroy the planet for its insolence. Or something like that.

Baxter-Pearl tries to calm Hephaestus, spouting off incessantly about all of the Greek ideals that live on in the world (Democracy comes up more than once), but the “god” is having none of it (“Democracy is for fools!” he shouts back in response). Carson, back in stereotype mode, tries to fight Hephaestus, is beaten, and begs for mercy, offering to sell out the entire planet so that he may live on in service to the god. He is slain for his troubles, and Baxter-Pearl is destroyed as well (on principle, one presumes).

Volkmann escapes and returns to the landing module, where he manages to stammer out a brief explanation of what has transpired. Alarms then go off, indicating the launch of a missile from the west (which just happens to be painted red, white, and blue). Volkmann and Yegorova spring into action, launching from the moon intent on intercepting the projectile – even if it means their own doom. Instead of dying, however, the crafty engineer devises a way to “fire” the landing module at the missile and deflect it back to the surface where it might just destroy Hephaestus.

The plan works. The East German and the Russian embrace. (A) god is destroyed. The world is saved by Marxist-Leninist ideology. And the credits roll over brass-heavy closing music.


  • Astronaut/Cosmonaut as a career is meant to cover all of the things that go with being an astronaut, like vacc suit operation, piloting, operating communications arrays, etc.
  • Scientist as a career represents an overall science background, while specific careers like Archaeologist or Physicist represent the more specific fields of study identified by their names.
  • Spacesuits are rated Light, Medium, and Heavy. Light suits provide little defense and are not rated for extravehicular or direct contact with hostile atmospheres/environments for more than 1 hour. Medium and Heavy suits provide more protection at a cost to mobility and are capable of 2 and 4 hours EVA/hostile environment activity.
  • Laser Weapons are incredibly accurate and grant a +1 to Ranged COmbat Ability.


Professor Alec Baxter-Pearl / Lifeblood 9 / Hero Points 5
Attributes: Strength -1 Agility 0 (-1) Mind 3 Appeal 2
Combat Abilities: Brawl 0 Melee 2 Ranged 1 Defense 1
Careers: Archaeologist 2 Poet 1 Scientist 1 Astronaut 0
Languages: English, Russian, German, Greek
Equipment: Medium Spacesuit (d6-1), Archaeological Tools, Hand Computer

Colonel Rick Carson / Lifeblood 12 / Hero Points 5
Attributes: Strength 2 Agility 1 (0) Mind 0 Appeal 1
Combat Abilities: Brawl 1 Melee 0 Ranged 2 Defense 1
Careers: Soldier 2 Astronaut 1 Musician 1 Politician 0
Languages: English
Equipment: Laser Pistol (d6), Medium Spacesuit (d6-1)

Commander Valentina Yegorova / Lifeblood 10 / Hero Points 5
Attributes: Strength 0 Agility 2 Mind 1 Appeal 1
Combat Abilities: Brawl 2 Melee 0 Ranged 1 Defense 1
Careers: Cosmonaut 3 Physician 1 Scientist 0 Farmer 0
Languages: Russian, English
Equipment: Laser Pistol (d6), Light Spacesuit (d6-2)

Lieutenant Knut Volkmann / Lifeblood 12 / Hero Points 5
Attributes: Strength 2 Agility 1 (0) Mind 2 Appeal -1
Combat Abilities: Brawl 2 Melee 0 Ranged 2 Defense 0
Careers: Engineer 2 Astronaut 2 Soldier 0 Bureaucrat 0
Languages: German, Russian, English
Equipment: Laser Rifle (d6+2), Heavy Spacesuit (d6)

Space Yeti Hephaestus / Lifeblood 20
Attributes: Strength 4 Agility 1 Mind 2
Combat Abilities: Defense 1 Protection d6-2
Attack with Fist +2; 2d6

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BoL: Sweetly Sings The Mourning Bird

Continuing our survey of imaginary movies, which includes providing Barbarians of Lemuria stats for the main players, we turn our inner eye towards the 1997 Korean cinema classic, Sweetly Sings The Mourning Bird (애도 조류는 여전히 감미 롭게 노래). Though this film doesn’t feature any effects by Ray Harryhausen, the climax is a rather stunning sequence in which the protagonists turn their astounding martial skills against an entire army of Chinese soldiers, their general, and a 9 foot tall terra cotta warrior/golem thing. So there’s that, which is good enough for us.

The central narrative of the film follows the journey of young An Do-Keun, from his humble beginnings as a blacksmith’s son in rural Korea through his rise to the heights of the martial world. His master is a grouchy old swordsman whose skill with the blade is rumored to have accomplished many great feats but who is also responsible for the death of a woman who was once the Chinese Emperor’s most beloved concubine.

We find out, via flashback, that the woman in question was actually some kind of supernatural assassin sent by the Lord of the Underworld to murder the Emperor and pave the way for evil eunuchs to rule China. A brief scene involving a many-tentacled puppet (whose strings you can barely see) illustrates the battle, but there’s not much time spent on this portion of the story.

In any case, the Emperor is a rational man of modern thought who never believed this tale, and he banished Sook (then called Lu I-po) to Korea, where he is no longer able to exert influence in the Imperial Court. Hold that thought – it’s important, but it will take a little while to get back to.

Twenty years later (according to the on-screen text), the drunken, irascible swordsman has taken the name Sook Seong-Kim and done his best to vanish into his new country. One winter day he stumbles drunkenly into a town that is under siege by Chinese soldiers disguised as bandits – just as the town’s blacksmith is coldly murdered because he won’t surrender the blade he is crafting for the Korean emperor. In a flash, Sook’s inherent nobility returns and he makes swift work of the rabble with only a stick, a rake, a hammer, and finally the still steaming sword the blacksmith had been working on. The sword sequence in particular is stunning and amusing as Sook is perpetually tossing the blade from mittened hand to mittened hand to avoid burning himself.

In the aftermath of all of this, the blacksmith’s young son – our previously noted protagonist, of course – begs Sook to teach him how to be a great warrior so that he can protect his country and never allow another boy’s father to die. Sook, disturbed that the people responsible for this tragedy were his own, takes the boy under his wing and begins training him. A musical montage follows, naturally, and in the span of 3-1/2 minutes of Korean pop (sung, it turns out, by the actor who plays An) the boy becomes both a man and a master swordsman in his own right.

The two swordsmen, young and old, travel about Korea for an unspecified length of time, righting wrongs and defending the populace from the depredations of bandit, pirate, and the like. On one of their adventures they wind up taking on a new companion, the Sadie Hawkins-esque Pak Myung-sun, a barbarian woman from the north, who serves the dual role of comedy relief and love interest. Pak chases the affections of An relentlessly, but he doesn’t fall for her. We’re privy, through a sequence in which the old master accidentally sees Pak emerging from a hot spring, to the knowledge that the woman isn’t as outsized as she seems in her dirty quilted armor (though she is still definitely not a small woman – think Kirby’s Big Barda here). Sook keeps this knowledge to himself, though.

At one point we cut back to China, where we learn that the old Emperor has gone senile and the country is now in the grip of a military coup lead by the exceptionally large and evil General Kwan. The General is, of course, under the influence of a small cadre of eunuchs who are clearly in league with the forces of Hell who were thwarted by Sook/Lu in the prologue. Kwan, at the urgings of the eunuchs, is on a path towards invading Korea in the name of the Emperor and plans for the invasion are revealed in small pieces. Reports of the “great Korean heroes” punctuate the briefing, with Kwan starting to piece together that Sook/Lu – his own old master, we learn in a flashback – is involved.

Back in Korea, our heroes have a few more little adventures, with each one revealing a bit more of the Chinese plot to invade Korea. Soon after, the invasion (and the heart of the story) begins at last.

In short order, we reach the climax of the film, wherein the Chinese army, led by Kwan and assisted by the giant clay warrior golem, face off against Sook, Pak, and An. An spends much of his time routing the soldiers, while Sook engages with Kwan and Pak leads a small force of brave Korean warriors against the golem. Things go fairly poorly for the Koreans initially, and Sook is defeated and left for dead by his old pupil. An then engages with the General, wild with anger and grief over the apparent death of his master/second father.

Across the battlefield, Pak’s cadre has been defeated by the golem, leaving only her and her large axe standing between the creature and the Korean Emperor’s palace. She fights valiantly and ultimately bests the creature, but not before suffering a number of grievous wounds and being almost completely stripped of her bulky, padded armor in the process. This does, conveniently, reveal her to be the far more beautiful woman that she actually is. You can see where this is going, I’m sure.

We cut back to the showdown between An and the General, whose battle has escalated into epic territory, with flying leaps and sundered trees and all of the over-the-top stuff you’ve been built up for based on the flashbacks showing what these two swordsmen’s master was capable of in his prime. The CGI and wirework in this sequence is serviceable, but to the modern eye it definitely seems a bit dated.

Needless to say, An winds up winning. Sure, there are a couple of teasing moments where it looks like he will fail, but really, they wouldn’t have made the movie if that were ultimately the case. His father’s last sword does shatter at one point under the powerful and unrelenting blows of the General, but even that is not enough to stop the great hero.

The real heart-rending drama comes in the aftermath, when it’s unclear if Pak will pull through, choking and gasping as she confesses her undying love for An. The young hero cradles her in his arms, tears streaming down his face as another love song (again, sung by the actor who plays An) swells to accompany a montage sequence of Pak being treated by physicians and slowly but surely recovering.

In the end, of course, everything turns out fine, with Pak and An marrying and becoming legendary heroes of Korea. We are shown a glimpse of their future, about a year later, with a prosperous farm, two beautiful twin children, and An hammering out a new sword on his father’s anvil.

Ah, but what of the seemingly defeated Sook? Just as you think there’s a giant hole in the script, An picks up the still cooling sword from the anvil and tosses it, steaming, through the air where is it caught by none other than Sook’s charred-mittened hand. The old master smiles, nods at the happy couple, and mounts a horse to ride off into the sunset. Westward, to China, to finish cleaning house.

Sook Seong-Kim (Lu I-po) / Lifeblood 11 / Hero Points 5
Attributes: Strength 1 Agility 2 Mind 2 Appeal 0
Combat Abilities: Brawl 0 Melee 3 Ranged 0 Defense 3
Careers: Warrior 3 Physician 1 Scholar 1 Vagabond 0
Boons: Swordsman, Carouser
Flaws: Distrust of Sorcery
Languages: Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese
Equipment: Sword (d6+1), Very Light Armor (d3-1)

An Do-Keun / Lifeblood 12 / Hero Points 5
Attributes: Strength 2 Agility 2 Mind 0 Appeal 1
Combat Abilities: Brawl 0 Melee 3 Ranged 1 Defense 2
Careers: Warrior 1 Blacksmith 2 Scholar 1 Merchant 1
Boons: Attractive, Swordsman
Flaws: Feels the Heat
Languages: Korean, Cantonese
Equipment: Boon Sword (d6+2), Very Light Armor (d3-1)

Pak Myung-sun / Lifeblood 15 / Hero Points 5
Attributes: Strength 3 Agility 1 (0) Mind 0 Appeal 1
Combat Abilities: Brawl 1 Melee 2 Ranged 0 Defense 3
Careers: Warrior 1 Barbarian 2 Pirate 1 Thief 1
Boons: Attractive, Hard-To-Kill
Flaws: Country Bumpkin
Languages: Korean
Equipment: Great Axe (d6+5), Medium Armor (d6-1)

General Kwan / Lifeblood 14 / Hero Points 5
Attributes: Strength 5 Agility 1 (0) Mind 2 Appeal -1
Combat Abilities: Brawl 2 Melee 2 Ranged 2 Defense 2
Careers: Soldier 3 Torturer 2 Warrior 1 Scholar 0
Boons: Swordsman, Poison Immunity, Cerulean Strength
Flaws: Arrogant, Ugly & Brutish
Languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean
Equipment: Great Sword (d6+7), Heavy Armor (d6)

Chinese Soldiers (Rabble) / Lifeblood 3 / Hero Points 0
Attributes: Strength 1 Agility 1 (0) Mind -1 Appeal -1
Combat Abilities: Brawl 0 Melee 1 Ranged -1 Defense 0
Careers: Soldier 0
Languages: Mandarin
Equipment: Swords or Spears (d6+1), Medium Armor (d6-1)

Giant Terra Cotta Warrior / Lifeblood 30
Attributes: Strength 4 Agility −1 Mind -2
Combat Abilities: Defense -1 Protection d3
Attack with Sword +1; d6+6
Attack with Fist, +0; d6+4

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BoL-lywood: Prince Rajinder’s Adventures II

Speaking of the late, great Ray Harryhausem, everyone remembers the time that he did the jaw-dropping animation of the four-armed (and four-breasted!) elephant-headed Rakshasi, Bulusu Sunita Kal, in the classic Bollywood fantasy flick Prince Rajinder’s Adventures II, right? No? Well, that makes since, given that it never happened and there was never such a movie. But since we already play pretend all the time, let’s do a little meta-pretending and act like there was such a movie and we all remember it, ok?

So… the climactic showdown scene, which happens after brave, handsome Rajinder has done a little song & dance routine about how he will live forever in the love of the beautiful Princess Kathindra (even if he dies while rescuing her from the wicked sorcerer Bontu Bhavsar) while fighting off a dozen or so thuggee cultists armed with aruval swords and throwing chakrams, features the prince fighting a desperate battle against the aforementioned Bulusu Sunita Kal and her four massive tulwars, which she wields both offensively and defensively.

Just before he enters this battle, Rajinder manages to shatter the iron bonds that hold Kathindra helplessly to the evil magician’s altar by throwing one of the cultists’ chakrams (using multiple ricochets and delivering huge sprays of sparks, of course). This frees her to face Bontu Bhavsar and keep him from interfering with Rajinder’s desperate struggle against the demon.

And who can forget the absolutely amazing comedy relief portions of this scene, which are delivered by Rajinder’s loyal friend, the Monkey Prince Candraprabhava, and his acrobatic antics displayed while keeping the rest of the Thuggee foot soldiers occupied?

After the battle is won (and of course you knew it would be), there are, like, four more song & dance numbers, most of which aren’t worth remembering. Except the one where Candraprabhava interrupts his comedic romancing (chasing, really) of the princess’ sisters, attendants, and every other female on screen other than Kathindra, to urinate on the head of Bontu Bhavsar, who for some reason is being held in a dungeon cell directly beneath the main room of the palace (thus being tortured by hearing the celebration song – along with suffering the “monkey shower” – through the iron grate that is just above his head and out of his reach). One can only imagine the trouble he would have caused if only they had made a third installment.

Prince Rajinder / Lifeblood 11 / Hero Points 6
Attributes: Strength 1 Agility 2 Mind 0 Appeal 2
Combat Abilities: Brawl 0 Melee 2 Ranged 2 Defense 1
Careers: Noble 2 Warrior 1 Bard 1 Thief 1
Boons: Attractive, Marked by the Gods
Flaws: Arrogant
Languages: Hindi
Equipment: Magic Scimitar “Gururatna” (d6+1), +1 to hit; Bow (d6); Very Light Armor (d3-1)

Princess Kathindra / Lifeblood 9 / Hero Points 5 / Arcane Power 12
Attributes: Strength -1 Agility 2 Mind 1 Appeal 3
Combat Abilities: Brawl 0 Melee 1 Ranged 1 Defense 3
Careers: Noble 2 Sorcerer 1 Bard 1 Dancer 1
Boons: Attractive, Power of the Void
Flaws: City Dweller
Languages: Hindi
Equipment: Bichawa Dagger (d3)

Candraprabhava / Lifeblood 12 / Hero Points 5
Attributes: Strength 2 Agility 3 Mind 0 Appeal 0
Combat Abilities: Brawl 2 Melee 1 Ranged 0 Defense 2
Careers: Noble 1 Thief 1 Tumbler 3 Scholar 0
Boons: Keen Eyesight, Keen Hearing, Keen Scent
Flaws: Lecherous, Country Bumpkin
Languages: Hindi
Equipment: Gada Mace (d6); Fist (d2); Kick (d3); Very Light Armor (d3-1)

Bontu Bhavsar / Lifeblood 11 / Villain Points 5 / Arcane Power 13
Attributes: Strength 1 Agility 2 Mind 4 Appeal -1
Combat Abilities: Brawl 0 Melee 1 Ranged 2 Defense 3
Careers: Sorcerer 3 Assassin 1 Scholar 1 Torturer 1
Boons: Magic of the Sorcerer Kings, Magic Resistance
Flaws: Poor Eyesight, Untrustworthy
Languages: Hindi
Equipment: Madu Dagger (d3) X2

Thuggee Cultists (Rabble) / Lifeblood 3 / Hero Points 0
Attributes: Strength 1 Agility 1 Mind -1 Appeal -1
Combat Abilities: Brawl -1 Melee 1 Ranged 1 Defense -1
Careers: Assassin 0
Languages: Hindi
Equipment: Aruval Sword (d6-1); Chakram (d3); Light Armor (d6-2)

Bulusu Sunita Kal / Lifeblood 20
Attributes: Strength 3 Agility 3 Mind 0
Combat Abilities: Defense 2 Protection d3 (+1 for each sword not used to attack)
Attack with one Tulwar, +2; d6
Attack with two Tulwars, +0; d6 each
Attack with three Tulwars, -2; d6 each
Attack with four Tulwars, -4; d6 each

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