Friday, 14 December 2018

What Were the Isles of the Imprisoned Moon?

Matt Hills asked for something about the Isles of the Imprisoned Moon.

(Kickstarter link is on the right.)

It was a pretty cool setting. Almost none of it was mine, or purely mine. The whole thing was stitched together from everything I was reading and into at the time. Reading back through this has been like journeying on a dark sea.

These islands were a kind of subterranean 'temperate' area of the Nightmare Sea, itself part of the Veins paracosm. (I think there are a handful of mentions in that book.)

Mariners Song of the Nightmare Sea.

The Nightmare Sea itself was a black and lightless ocean beneath which slept somewhat lovecraftian entities. There were no stars, compasses didn't work very well, the 'heavens' of stone sometimes dropped so close to the surface that they could take the masts off ships. The only way to navigate was via 'ateks' biopatterns of regular sealife, and the Nightmares of the Sleeping Minds.

By examining the exact content of their nightmares, and working out which parts were driven my or inspired by the insidious psychic energy of which sleeping being, the Navigators could triangulate their position.

The Navigators come from Nox.

Nox was intended to be a kind of Rome/London/Dark Athens, insanity driven industrial hyperpower which came as close to ruling the Nightmare Sea as anyone.

The Navigators of Nox, by Daniel Puerta


Far away from Nox, on the other side of whatever the 'world' was down there, were the Isles of the Imprisoned Moon. Which sprang into being largely from this post. An G+ community thing from the old times.

K Yanis image of the Imprisoned Moon.


A bunch of islands arranged around a gigantic moon tied with enormous chains in the dark.



These islands were meant to be a kind of counterpoint to Nox. Nox is singular, they are many. Nox is an empire, they are a range of strange nations. Nox rules a cold, Atlantic-ish word with long travel times between points of light, the Isles can be hpped between relatively easily, Nox is pseudo-european, the Isles are essentially a big rip off SE Asia/Indonesia.

And eventually that turned into a brief (seven session) Into the Odd game in which a group of rogues from Nox were attacked by pirates and managed to seize their ship somewhere around the Phrang Sea.

The intro text was something close to this I think;


"ISLES OF THE IMPRISONED MOON

You are travellers to the Isles of the Imprisoned Moon

On the Nightmare Sea, where no Sun has ever shone, chiming ships navigate by the patterning of swells and the nightmares of sleeping Navigators.

The navigators come from Nox, the city of white flame which rules the Nightmare sea. Only the navigators of Nox have the power to reliably cross the black water, and the Navigators all eventually go mad, and therefor Nox is mad.

There are many strange places on the Nightmare sea. No-one has found its boundary. Isles of bone where tribes with iron eyes find their way with magnetism, insane psychic whales and silver caravels with indigo sails. There are warm reefs where phytoplankton stitch mazes under the black water and intelligent Nudibranch make libraries of dreams.

And there are the Isles of the Imprisoned Moon.

There is no Sun upon the nightmare sea, and never will be, but there is a moon, a stolen moon snatched from the 'skies' (whatever they are) and chained here eons ago.

The moon is huge and bound above the surface of the black sea with cyclopean iron chains. A link in the chain is about the sise of the World Trade Centre.

Is it as big as our 'real' moon? It seems impossible, but its fucking BIG. It reaches high up into the sky.

The Imprisoned Moon is a pale silvery white. It's not reflecting light from anywhere, so far as anyone on the Nightmare Sea knows, there is no-where for it to reflect light from, they know of the Sun only from theory and legend, but if you told them that the moon was reflecting light from a lamp it could no longer see, they would find the idea poetically appropriate.

There are isles around the imprisoned moon, ringed archipelagos like the rings around a planet or the splatters from an ink-soaked ball being slammed onto white paper.

Some of these islands may have been here when the moon arrived, some may be relics of whatever semi-continent was here before, many were called up by powerful magics, or simply built with armies of slaves.

They are here becasue the moon brings light, the greatest currency of the Nightmare Sea. (The currency of Nox is Mirrors, literally small coin-sized glass-fronted, silver-backed mirrors with the sign of their issuing city etched into the silver or the glass.  Large mirrors are always treasures. Anything larger is handled in Occultum (equivilent of 'Obols' from the Pernicious pamphlets. "Obols allow for otherwise impossible transactions—souls, kingships,futures, dreams.")

These are the Isles of the Imprisoned Moon, this is where you have been sent, or to where you have escaped.

Because of their gift of reliable light, the Isles of the Imprisoned Moon have foliage and ecosystems, the do not rely exclusively on bounty from the sea and on magic. Life grows there, and not just fungal life.

The isles are powerful but anarchic, if they were ever to combine they could form a challenge to the power of Nox, but they never will.

(In a sense you can imagine this as Egypt to Nox's Rome, if Egypt was a gigantic archepelago like Indonesia and was ruled in a manner similar to anarchic timelost city states. And if Rome was totally fucking insane)


  • A moon held prisoner under the earth
  • illuminating circled kingdoms with light reflected from nowhere
  • floating above a black sea
  • island kingdoms in the black sea
  • forests lit only by moonlight
  • slow wars between the isles
  • things only grow very slowly under moonlight
  • (the moonlight, however, never changes in its intensity, or moves)
  • light only comes from one direction
  • shadows are permanent, 
  • mirrors are the main currency
  • lamp-bearers are hired to go into the permanent shadows and deal with whatever crazy shit is there
  • of course, every new thing that blocks the moon creates a new shadow
  • plants challenge each other with initially-subtle strategies
  • but things dissolve into pyromania eventually
  • most plants have a  fire-starting stage
  • this is on the nightmare sea, ruled by the navigators of Nox
  • And there are dungeons and relics and ruined cities on the isles of the imprisoned moon, of course there are
  • And BIRDS, which are a kind of high-value treasure if you can catch and tame one
  • some islands may be the collapsed bodies of dead titans, maybe the ones that bound the imprisoned moon
  • there may be dragons but they spend a lot of time asleep
  • if they get up they will need protein and they they have to hunt and kill a psychic whale
  • which is a bitch as those things are tough as nails
  • Some may be fragments of the moon which broke off (there are a series of deep scores in it, about the size of the Grand Canyon
  • some may be parts of the 'sky' which fell, this does sometimes happen, a new island can plummet out of the invisible air at any time.
  • some may be giant shells, evil carnivorous coral, necromantic constructs of bone
  • obviously some are populated by ghosts, glimmers of strange potential hanging in the air, making up their strange memory-obsessed existence
  • ghosts can lead communities, though they are very conservative
  • one is the mouth of a fucking insanely huge angler fish lying open in the sea. It has its own lantern. Obviously one day its going to close and eat whatever is there but who knows when that will be
  • some say its just waiting for enough biomass to accumulate in its mouth to make closing it and swallowing worth its while
  • others say they have run the numbers and there will never be enough to justify the energy expenditure of waiting, so its waiting for whatever comes to *feed* on the town in its mouth, like a dragon or something
  • still others say, why would a dragon be stupid enough to actually fly into the mouth of a waiting predator
  • even other others say well we live here don't we.
  • so the PC's need to investigate a ruined ship or somethng
  • maybe if they get to recover it they can keep it and it will become 'their' ship
  • then they can be like Rogue Traders in the Isles of the Imprisoned Moon


YOU COME UPON A CRAFT.....

In Session One - 'The Falling Star' they beat up a vampire pirate and now have their own ship.

Here are the encounters for the Phrang Sea;

"

Encounters on the Phrang Sea (d20)

1.      Lost Cockroach Clan Canoe from Sula Phrang
2.      Anne Dieu of the 'Black Angel' (Caecus, Black Path)
3.      Cthonia Spoil, of the ‘Rogue Trader' (Caecus, Black Path)
4.      One of Seven Quetzalcoatlus-riding Snakeman Sorcerer-Knights (Jade Path)
1.      Khuthiva  who rules Kefamenanui & casts Viscid Globules.
2.      Santahat  who rules Nikiniki & grows Hallucinogenc flora.
3.      Disikhaga who rules Ocussi, master of Poisons.
4.      Dashminkha  who rules Soe, master of Illusions.
5.      Ikyashtha  who rules Naikutu & can dominate minds.
6.      Kshuvamamva  who rules Gunnung & who casts green fire.
7.      Zaskar  who rules Kupang & who commands winds.

5.      Marlinkian Longship, one mast, oars,
1.      Khigir Germanovich,
2.      Tokarev Mikhailovich,
3.      Chaadayev Rostik, 
4.      Kulagin Makar,
5.      Perevyortov Mirogod.

6. A ship of frozen tears from Tennggara-Phrang, crewed by white lizards and able to reverse time if destroyed (Pale Eye).
7. A junk of Yaag-Sien, crewed by tattooed veterans and with a hidden slug-man captain.
8. A ship holding only the devil in female form who haunts the coast of Varuna.
9. PSYCHIC WHALE FROM THE NIGHTMARE SEA
10. Dream-fish being hunted by seadragon-men
11. Blind Murder-Swans
12. Terrifying Dali Death-Giraffes
13. Borobudur from Tenngara-Naga,
1.      Tanandar Zhen,
2.      Gideon Titarsole
3.      Abner Meha,
4.      Inge Cinta Lie,
5.      Nirmala Iman Hartanto,
6.      Tanardo Tao

14. Phinisi captained by bored logicians from the Free Kingdoms
1.      Taaliba bin Rasheeqa,
2.      Muna bin Haifaaa,
3.      Ariyya bin Ghuzaila.
4.      Wajeeha binti Abdur Rahmaan.
5.      Waseema binti Unais.
6.      Khairiya binti Abdut Tawwab.

15. Moth Storm.
16. Terrible moonlight.
17. Skyfall.
18. Knotsman Galley.
19. A GIANT canoe with a giant from the Giant Isles.
20. A storm"

Then make for land but encounter yet more piracy in Session Two.

In session Three they battle a giant silver boar and meet undead kings on Uter-Phrang.


Just north of the Iron Isle on the image above.

In Session Four they escape, make for Tien-Phrang aand try to navigate again. These were the rules I cooked up;

"Navigating in 'Imprisoned Moon

Wind is usually clockwise around the imprisoned moon (4 in 6 chance).

If you have a good idea where you are going or what you want to do, the Captain rolls a WILL test on 2d20.

On a full pass, you get where you want to go & impress everyone.

On a partial pass (at least one) you can pick one of the below.

·        Your ship suffers a minor mechanical failure (takes d4 damage).
·        Confidently wrong (DM puts you where they want & you have no idea where you went wrong).
·        Crew loss. Roll a d6 for each crewmember. On a 1 they are lost overboard, or take d6 damage if a PC.
·        Some other complication or difficulty.

On a fail, something terrible happens. Probably storm, a lee-shore, run aground, Pirates or attention from the deep. Ship loss is a real possibility.

Other PC's can help you navigate & run the ship. If they can do something practical to help then that character can roll a WILL test as well. In these circumstances, each PC only ever rolls 1d20.

There is no limit to the number of people who can 'help', more people decreases the chance of a critical fail (you only need one success to avoid that) but decreases the chance of a critical success (too-many-cooks problem)."


In Session Five they reach Sula-Phrang and have several adventures. (This also has some setting info like equipment and religions of the Isles.



Here is the background and encounter list for Sula Phrang. They only met a small fragment of this;

(This has never been published so I suppose that makes this a 'new post' and turns this into 'content', and also exposes how skeletal and improvised my game prep is.).

SULA-PHRANG

On the Moonward side of Sula-Phrang people live in hilltop villages on its great plains.

Many villages still have a tree of skulls from when the young men went headhunting. In most cases they are gathering dust, the intercene tribal conflicts have ebbed away almost to nothing, or been replaced by sports and festivals.

Though, people will confide to you that about 50 years ago at a large wedding, there was an 'accident' and 300 people died. 

They don't specify anything more than that.

The villages are semi-fortified by walls of cactus

Every year when a certain sea-worm emerges, the people of Sula-Phrang know that it is time for their great festival. 

The festival has fighting and music and dancing and culminates in a gigantic mass-cavalry brawl in which the young men from the different villages hurl self-carved spears at each other.

(I stole a lot of this from actual Indonesian festivals.)

the spears are big and heavy, wide around and pretty blunt but they can still hurt and, in some cases, kill, there are a handful of deaths every year

the main city/town was built as a place of colonial administration
its also the main harbour

on the darkward side of Sula-Phrang are the dead
on the death of a notable family or clan member it is customary to build a megalithic tomb
these tombs are always built on the dark side of the island
there, there are cities of the ancient dead
the dead, of course, are sometimes awake
they whisper from their tombs
they have their own city, up in the hills, in the twilight zone of Sula-Phrang

if you need to speak to your ancestor you can go on a pilgrimage to talk to them
but they tend to be highly conservative & out of touch
and generally you are looking for reasons not to speak to your ancestors
but sometimes you have to

the big advantage of having the ancestors over there is that it protects the dark side of Sula-Phrang from pirates and invaders from the nightmare sea
also, it suggests to those from the inner isles that invading Sula-Phrang might be a bad idea
what also suggests that is the fact that Sula-Phrang is very poor
it has few natural resources

it did used to have huge forests of a valuable and fragrant wood
but Sula-Phrang was 'absorbed' - kind-of, into a mercentile house of Yaag-Sien
a long time ago they lead an army of Malmuk Crab-men and mercenaries to 'pacify' the intercene wars of Sula-Phrang
at the same time as this happened, five clans also entered a state of mutual war
the chaos was so great that the ancestors did actually emerge from their cities on the dark side
the result of this war was so confusing and upsetting that peace sponatniously broke out
the main clans agreed to be bough off by the trading house and they collectively harvested the rich woods of the interior
this caused massive problems of erosion and desertification, increasing the size of the plains and causing problems of water supply
this increased the utility of the historically ceremonial mantis-shrimp-cavalry but also increased the enormous cost of keeping them
and the main city still (kind-of) has representatives of this house, living in a state of faded colonial glory
this makes up the technical government of the state
really almost everything is handled by the clans and in some cases by the elders


ENCOUNTERS ON SULA-PHRANG

NAMES

Male
1.Sugiarto Ivan Gunawan
2.Iman Kusuma Sugiarto
3.Teja Shoi-ming
4.Mursalim Qiquiang
5.Nasser Pattimura
6.Asaph Batuara
7.Boaz Lase
8.Joshua Siallagan
9.Eko
10.Suripto

Female
11.Tri Dwi Hermawan
12.Widyawati Batari Indradjaja
13.Sutanto Mei
14.Lusanto Xia
15.Neva Selano
16.Esther Sidebang
17.Mercy Simaebang
18.Jochebed Peranginangin
19.Megawati
20.Ratu


PLACE NAMES
1.Melolo
2.Umalulu
3.Pata
4.Kahaungu
5.Lalananjang
6.Patawang
7.Tabundung
8.Mapambuhang
9.Mamboto
10. Wewewa Belatan


Main City/Harbour is GAPU - home of Kingfisher House, currently ruled by Ey-Way-Woo-O
  
Main city of the ancestors is Wainu - currently suffering from intra-clan and intra-caste and intra religious disputes.
   
THE SETTLED PLAINS

1.Intra-villiage dispute.
2.Inter-villiage dispute.
3.Low-caste uprising.
4.Drought.
5.Famine.
6.Ancestor 'visiting' leading to 'festival'.
7.Pre-festival boxing match.
8.Paranoid fear of Tiger-Bat-Bhoot


THE CORAL JUNGLE

1d6 Amphibious Spiders: These amphibious spiders are mottled green and brown. They are great hunters, equally comfortable swimming and hanging from a web. While they have no mercy or sympathy, they intelligent, able to speak a clicking and stilted Ghinorian. Amphibious Spiders HD4 AC4 Bite 1d8 or Web, To see what's stuck in the webs of their nearby lair, roll here.

1. Husk of princeling dripping with semi-preserved, jewel-studded finery
3. Dead dungeon philosopher clutching manuscript proving conclusively that polytheist notion of the universe is elaborate charade carried out by singular malevolent supreme intelligence
4. Groggy but unconquered giant half-covered in webs, poisoned several times but going down swinging
5. Envoy from the Black Path bearing communiqué hinting at treacherous alliance and plan for extermination of unpopular human populations for political gain.
6. Ghost of dead adventurer that believes itself stuck in web, happy to be convinced otherwise


THE FORESTS

1. d6 starving Wolf-bats who have grown used to feeding on those of low status.
2. Tiger-Bat-Bhoot  STR 12, DEX 12, WIL 12, 12hp, 2d4 damage, Hypnosis.
3. Bhoot. Wears white, feet backwards, no shadow, dislikes touching the earth.
Can age w touch & possess.
Tied to 1-4 A House, 5-a bridge, 6-a tree, 7-a field, 8-a building.
Murdered by 1-4 Family member, 5-a master, 6-s servant, 7-a magician, 8-a holy man.
4. D6 Fungal outcasts.


THE MOUNTAINS

(Hck-a)rogor coming from the pools.
STR 15, DEX 15, WIL 15 d12 Damage,
WIL save to avoid hypnosis by its shining skin.
Must take 10 damage in one round to take any damage at all but after that loses d6 per round.
Boiling blood has a sopoforic effect.



THE FUNGAL FORESTS

Spore Tree: A massive twisted mangrove tree grows here. It has been infected with a virulent fungus. From thin brown stalks 1d20 baseball sized puce globes hang from violet tendrils. If gently cut free they may be gathered. Any jostling causes them to violently explode spreading their spores over a 10’ radius. 50% chance that d10 additional globes are floating in water. If caught in the radius of the blast, save vs. poison or begin hacking up your lungs 1d4 rounds later. At that point, one is debilitated for 1d6 rounds of violent and uncontrollable coughing, and suffers -2 to constitution permanently.


THE SHADOWED LANDS

1. A village of the sleeping dead who turn in their stone tombs as you pass.
2. A war of the dead.
3. A marriage of the dead.
4. A philosopher of the dead sitting by the side of the road.
5. A shadow-play festival of the dead which they perform ultra-slowly without contact.
6. A trial of the dead w evidence, judges etc."



Having caused as much trouble as they can they end up running for it again in Session Six.

And the whole thing ends with an opium vision in Session Seven.

Here's all the other places I actually had prepped that they didn't get to;


Tennggara-Phrang

The largest and most well-developed of the Islands of the Phrang Sea. It could easily dominate the other Isles if not for two factors. One, its society has come to be dominated by the Pale Eye, an ultra-conservative philosophy based on inertia, and two, it is just large enough to show up on the political Radar of the larger islands to Moonwards, including the chain-state of Yaag-Sien and machinations with these much larger states takes up much of its remaining energy.

The Philosophy of the Pale Eye states that nothing exists. All is simply a mist of undifferentiated pre-matter and shadow, awaiting the true existence which will emerge when the Moon itself cracks open. It’s proponents are skeptical, apathetic, humble and, from the outside, monstrously capricious.

No item or atom originating in Tenngara-Phrang is suffered to leave. Endless expeditionary forces, carrying bolts mined only from foreign metal, endlessly seek long-lost drums, scrolls, coins, pack animals, and the bones of previous expeditionary forces.

The Philosophy of the Pale Eye requires each object in its first position, each lost citizen replaced by another of precisely equal training, genetic makeup, gender. When all is as it was the Moon will crack open and reveal the next and actual world.

It’s Ruler


A Time Elemental, rumoured to be a fallen Angel of Choncodeus, called Zachriel, rules from Kelimutu, a volcano containing three coloured lakes, located in the district of Ende close to the town of Moni.

The Angelerium guy is pretty good. I forgot his name but its there in the image.


These crater lakes are in the caldera of a volcano, and fed by a volcanic gas source, resulting in highly acidic water. The coloured lakes change colours on an irregular basis, depending on the oxidation state of the lake from bright red through green and blue.

A cult of Sublunary Men serve as its priests.

It is guarded by an Elite force of Albino Raksasa.

It’s Ambassador is the Trench-Herald ‘Mayerfas

It’s schemes typically involve:
1. Time control
2. Alliances of convenience
3. Storied objects
4. Curses
5. Paralysis
6. Erasure

It Is Currently Known To Be Seeking:
1. The document of White Wedding And Beginning Again, signed by parties unknown
2. Arms and equipment of a Komodo-Man raiding party
3. The Woman called Rashel Vore
4. A first edition of Pride And Catastrophic Deterioration by Seena Jaunt

It’s Ships


Are ships of Ice, endlessly renewed by the frozen tears of weeping women. Because of this, sadness, especially the sadness of women, is fetishized in both negative and positive ways in Tennggara-Phrang

Inhabitants of Tennggara-Phrang

Raksasa


Komodo-Dragon-Men are the ruling caste of Tennggara-Phrang, they are almost always loyal to Zachriel.

·        They are largely solitary (from other Raksasa), slightly deaf, with poor discrimination of stationary objects.
·        They eat about 20 times a year and prefer to swallow their food whole, usually it’s a whole corpse. This takes about 15-20 minutes, copious amounts of red saliva and them slamming the corpse against a tree to force it down.
o   They then lick their lips & rub their head in leaves to clean them, this takes another 15 minutes.
o   Eventually the regurgitate a mass of horns, hair and teeth.
o   They drink wine by sucking it into their mouth from a cauldron, tipping their head and letting it run down their throat.
·        Their bite has a which poison causes muscle paralysis & induction of hypothermia.
·        They spend early years in trees & like to cannibalise each other when young.
·        They can create males by parthenogenesis.
·        They are scholarly and usually scrupulously polite.
·        Very much like antebellum Virginia landowners.

The Florens


Homo Florensis – these ride Dwarf Stegalodonts and they usually work together as a team. The Florens make up most of the indentured labour of the island, as well as the diet of the Raksasa. They have a stone age level of technology and are blindly loyal to Zachriel, unless roused by a prophet of Kamapua'a

Kamapua'a


A Pig-man ‘Saint’ of Zoophoria. “defiant of all authority, bold and untamed, he recalls the pig nature that is dormant in most people….Treacherous and tender, he thirsts after the good things in life--adventure, love, and sensual pleasure….

His worship is banned on Tennggara-Phrang



The Slendermen


The bandits of Tennggara-Phrang who haunt the bat infested fungal forests of the dark side are a race of intelligent Chaos-Worshipping Stork-Men who also eat the Florens.

They can fly a little, are two metres high and are loathed by all agents of authority.

Others

There are also various humans and some undead, usually employed for their skills, as mercenaries, sailors, merchants or factotums. Some are even Priests of Chonchodeus,

Trade


Tennggara-Phrang produces:
·        Seaweed,
·        Rice,
·        Sweet potato and
·        Cassava
·        Coffee,
·        Coconut
·        Cashew
·        Candle-nut or 'Lumbang', silvery underleaf, often burned to provide light (15 mins per nut).

All of this must be ritually declared to be ‘vile, and not of this earth or this sea’ by Mayerfas the Trench Herald, (Speaking for Zachriel), in which case it may leave the island.

Mayerfas can be bribed by light-emitting magical items and by the spines of people with rare diseases.






Tiam-Phrang (Darkward Side)



The Darkward side of Tiam-Phrang is ruled by those who follow the Black Philosophy as Propogated by Pan Chun Mei. The Black Path seeks the powers of devouring, of night, of isolation, of words and divisions, and of long distances. They believe that fear of entropy is the only righteous worship of entropy.

The Black Path rules only from ruins, known as the Dimmu Borgir which are regarded as strongholds both physical and spiritual. Creation of a Dimmu Borgir requires various acts of despoliation and evolving terror designed to manifest and maintain far-reaching oppressive despair in the civilized lands.

The most dominant of its Rulers on the dark side of Tiam-Phrang is the Lich Pan Chun Mei, but where she lairs or where her Phylactery is hidden, only the four Succubi know.

The known devotees and champions of Pan Chun Mei are:

1. Three Caecus Pirates reave from Dili on the Black Coast
Anne Dieu of ‘The Black Angel’,
Cthonia Spoil, Warmistress of the ‘Rogue Trader’
Captain No-Dicto of the ‘Broken Heart’ (DEAD).

2. Seven Medusa guard the Dimmu Borgir
Seela, Thrace, Oscula,  Naxice, Dia Andine, Cylesia and  Orgula.

3. Twelve Outcast Olm: Forguts,  Despised Icon, The Faceless,  Malignancy, Nocturnus, Opeth, Pestilence, Wretched,  Winter, Brujeria, Asphyx and Quovad.

4. Four Succubi carry the messages of Pan Chun Mei
 Isis, Candlemass, Sleep, and Grief
Look like Geisha – can Mind Control with a kiss.

All of the servants of the Black Path suffer from Epilepsy.

Black Path War Party

1d10 Black Path Cultists STR 10, DEX10, WILL 10, 5 HP, ½ have Guns.
1d8 Cannibal Florenses riding Stelglodonts STR 10, DEX10, WILL 10, 5 HP,
1d6 Tasty Newt Boys Can sense thought, one leader extra-yellow.
(On a roll of 1, that person has one of the Cursed Harpoons.)

And One (d4)
1.      Crab Man STR 15, DEX 8, WILL 10, 10 HP, Dual Claws (d8)
2.      Ghostly Pale Crayman Translucent unless multiple shadows, Armour 3 in light but deduct one for each light source.
3.      1000 year-old Olm STR 14, DEX16, WILL 16, 25 HP, Armour 2 in water, Blind
4.      D6 Star Grools

The Five Cursed Harpoons of Pan Cun Mei:


None seeing a successful blow struck with any of these weapons can stop until their foes or slain or they are.

1. Annihilator: Disintegrates armour on a successful hit.
2. Carnivore: Wounds inflicted on resisting foes add to wielder's hp.
3. Exciter: Wielder must attack nearest living thing once weapon is unsheathed.
4. Overkill: Slain foes are raised as undead who serve the wielder.
5. Hunter: Wielder will not die until whoever reduces him/her to 0hp is slain, so long as the weapon is held.




Tiam-Phrang (Moonward Side)


The Moonwards side of Tiam-Phrang is ruled by those who follow the Philosophy of Jade, or ‘The Jade Path’. Its energies are green: the energies of jealousy, lushness, vigor, triumph, old wisdom, glibness, and theft.

The cycles of predation and murder must thrive. Inventions appal them and theft from the weak is their only industry. They cultivate sophism, criticism, evasion, rhetoric, fallacy, received ideas, shallow novelty and libel.

The Jade path has, surprisingly, attracted a handful of the Aelf-Adal who serve in its forces, apparently tolerating their utter physical contempt for our reality in return for the opportunity to degrade and terrorise it.

It’s Rulers  are:
1. Seven Quetzalcoatlus-riding Snakeman Sorcerer-Knights who each rule on citadel.

1. Khuthiva  who rules Kefamenanui & casts Viscid Globules.
2. Santahat  who rules Nikiniki & grows Hallucinogenc flora.
3. Disikhaga who rules Ocussi, master of Poisons.
4. Dashminkha  who rules Soe, master of Illusions.
5. Ikyashtha  who rules Naikutu & can dominate minds.
6. Kshuvamamva  who rules Gunnung & who casts green fire.
7. Zaskar  who rules Kupang & who commands winds.

Its Ships are galleys of unseasoned wood pulled by Mosasaurs (except for that of Kupang).
When the Aelf-Adal captain them, they can move through dreams.

Jade Path War Party

3d6 Skinks with Muskets
2d6 Green Lizardmen with obsidian clubs.
And
1 A Naga
2-3. The Rakshasa
3-6 One of Eighteen Aelf-Adal


Its rumored treasures include:
1. Potions of Poison Breath
2. Antidotes To All Poisons, Including Those Not Yet Synthesized
3. Wedding Contracts, Signed By Parties Unknown
4. Scrolls of Disaster
5. Scroll of Protection from Demons
6. A jade wedding ring, carved with serpents
7. A Staff of Breaking Bone
8. A Manual of the Tongue of Dinosaurs

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Live-blogging The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnall

The Silent Titans Kickstarter is the reason I am trying to do a December of Blogs. Link is over there on the right.

.....

Hinter Dem Glas wanted me to Liveblog a Chivalric Romance.

I've done stuff like this before. I talk about Malory here, Gawain and the Green Knight here, and Spensers The Faerie Queen here.

So here is The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnall' from Louis B. Halls 'The Knightly Tales of Sir Gawain'.



These stories are taken from popular verse intended to be performed my minstrels for ordinary people, so this is the common, direct and explicitly version of the extremely 'literary', ambiguous and courtly Gawain and the Green Knight.

Hall chose to translate the verse into prose as that's our 'common form', as usual, I think doing this was a mistake. Here's the first few lines with modernised spelling and roughly phonosymmetrical replacement words;

"Lythe and listeneth the life of a lord rich,
The while that he lived was none him like,
Neither in bower nor in hall.
In the time of Arthur this adventure betyd,
And of the great adventure that he himself did,
That king curtious and royal.
Of all kings Arthur beareth the flower,
And of all knighthood he bears away the honour,
Wheresoever he went.
In his country was nothing but chivalry,
And knights were beloved [by] that doughty,
For cowards were evermore shent."

And here is the prose version;

"Listen and hear the life of a great lord, who, while he lived had no equal in cottage or in castle. This event took place in the time of Arthur, that king, courtly and royal, and is about one of his great adventures. Wherever he went, of all kings, Arthur bears the flower; of all knights, he bears the honour. The whole country was chivalrous in those days. All knights were valiant, and cowards were forever disgraced."

We start with the King out hunting;

"The King was aware that a great and beautiful hart was moving towards him, but in the underbrush the hart heard the hounds an stayed completely hidden.

"Everyone hold still!" said the King, knowing what was going on. "I will go myself, and stalk that buck, if I can."

So this is already a much more knowing, capable, independent and brave Arthur than you get in a lot of stories. And he is about to be lead away from his people and into adventure by following the deer. I've lost count of the number of times that this has happened in a chivalric story and its an interesting problem of telling adventure stories about powerful individuals in a world where being powerful very much means having a bunch of people around you almost all of the time.

In modern child adventure stories the parents have to die or be incompetent but lots of powerful people can wander relatively alone in the world. Maybe not the president or the pope but quite a few.

Arthur catches his deer, kills it and begins to butcher it.

But oh crap there is a guy there and it is a guy that hates Arthur especially;

"We are well met, King Arthur. You have done me wrong for many years, but now I shall repay you, unhappily for you. I believe the days of your life are nearly over. You gave my lands to Sir Gawain. What do you say about that, King, here all alone?"

This is the magnificently named "Sir Gromer Somer Joure".

From Hall; "Gromer Somer Joure's name can be translated, if not satisfactorily explained. "Gromer" is cognate to the old Norse _gromr_ and Middle English _grom_, an infant, boy youth, servant. _Somer Joure_ suggests 'summer day' in English and French, but where this combination of three languages came from or why, we do not know."

Arthur points out to Sir Joure that if he kills him now, unarmed and in "only forest green" then he will lose a huge amount of honour and knights everywhere will refuse him.

"All these arguments are not going to help you any, for I wish neither gold nor land. But you will promise to meet me on a certain day that I shall set, and in this same array.

'Yes', said the King, 'here is my hand.'

'True, but wait a minute, King, and hear me. First you shall swear on my bright sword to tell me, when you arrive here, what it is that women love best, whether they are country girls or city girls. You shall meet me here personally, this day twelfth month. And you shall swear on my good sword that none of your knights shall come with you, by the Cross, neither friend nor foe. But if you do not bring an answer, no question but you shall lose your head for your effort. That is what you are going to have to swear to. What do you say now, king? Lets see! let's finish this business."

Arthur promises he will do this, which we know he will because he's King Arthur.

This is interesting, we have the 'return in a year and a day' quest, and the quest is for an answer to an impossible, or just really particular, question, and one relating to gender.

The King blows his horn to call his guys. Then goes home. He doesn't tell anyone about his weird quest and his depression troubles his crew.

"At last Sir Gawain came to the King and said:

'Sir, I have been wondering seriously what has made you so sorrowful.'"

Ever courteous Gawain as usual. Arthur confesses his oath and instantly:

"'Sir, cheer up. Let us make your horse ready and ride off into far-away lands, and everywhere we meet either men or women, in faith you will ask them what they think women most desire. I shall ride another way and inquire of every man and woman the same way. I shall get as many answers as I can, and I shall write them in a book.'"

This is pretty topping practical advice and its exactly what they do. Gawain and Arthur ride around for a year asking women what they most desire and writing them down in two big books;

"Some said they loved to be well dressed, some said they loved to be flattered, some said they loved a lusty man who, in their arms, could kiss and make love to them. In short, some said one thing, some another."

They both get together near the end of the period and examine each others books;

"'We cannot fail this way,' said Gawain.

'By God I am still afraid,' said the King." He wants to ride out to the forest and inquire there.

"'Do as you wish,' said Gawain. "'Whatever you do, I agree to it willingly. Have no doubts, my lord you will succeed. At least some of the answers will help you when you need them. Otherwise it would be bad luck indeed.'"

Gawain in this story is just the most supportive bro-friend ever.

Arthur rides out and quickly encounters a Mysterious Woman;

".. a lady carrying a lute over her back, as ugly a creature as anyone ever saw. Her face was red, her nose snotted, her mouth wide, her teeth yellow, her eye rheumy, her teeth hung over her lips, and her cheeks were as fat as a womans hips. Her neck was long and thick, her hair clotted and snarled. her shoulders were a yard broad, and her breasts were a load for a strong horse. No tongue can adequately describe how foul she was, but she was ugly enough, and Arthur was dumbfounded."

This lady rides right up to Arthur and drops this immediately;

"Speak with me, I advise you, before you go on, for your life is in my hands, let me warn you, You will find that out, if I do not prevent you losing it."

And she does indeed know exactly what he seeks and claims to have the exact answer he needs to survive his encounter.

Her deal is that if the gives Arthur this answer, and it saves his life, he must give her Gawain as a husband.

"'Mary', said the King, 'I cannot promise you Sir Gawain as a husband. That depends only on him. But if what you say is true, then in addition to saving my life I will do my utmost to make the wedding come about.'

'Well,' said she, 'now go home again and speak convincingly to Sir Gawain, for I can save your life. Even though I am ugly, yet I am full of life, and through me he can save your life or ensure your death."

The King is ambivalent about this; "'So ugly a woman as you are I never saw during my life in all the world. I do not know what I can do.'

'No matter, Sir King. Though I am foul, even an owl can choose a mate. You will not get any more out of me."

This Ladys name; "Sir King, I am called Dame Ragnell; in truth I never yet fooled a man."

And she has all the best lines.

Arthur returns to the castle and meets Gawain who asks him what has gone on;

"'Gawain, today I met the ugliest woman that I ever saw. She said she would save my life, but first she would have you as her husband. This is the reason I am woe begone and my heart is heavy."

"'Is that all?' Gawain asked. 'I shall wed her and wed her again even if she is a fiend and as foul as Beelzebub. By the Cross, I will wed her or no longer count me as a friend, for you are my king and you have honoured me in many a battle. Therefore I shall not refuse. It is my obligation to save your life, my lord, or else I were false to you and a great coward. And in this way my honour is increased."

The King returns to Dame Ragnell and tells her Gawain has OK'd the marriage. She then delivers the secret;

"'Now you shall know what all women, high class and low, desire most, and I am not going to vary the truth. Some people say we want to keep company with many different men, or that we want to have passion in bed, or we want to marry often. But you people really don't know. We desire something else. you men say women want to be considered not old but fresh and young so with flattery and wit and caresses you can have what you want from us. That idea is pretty good, I can't lie about that.

But now you shall know. We desire above everything else to have power over men, bith high and low. When we have power, everything else is ours, even though a knight may be the most fierce of all and always wins the tourneys. our desire is to have sovereignty over the most many of men. This is the end of all out skill and learning."

The King rides off to his meeting with the strangely named knight. He starts by showing him his book;

"Sir Gromer looked at each one of them.

No, no, Sir King, You are a dead man. Now you shall bleed.'"

But then Arthur pulls out his secret answer.

"And she who told you now, Sir Arthur, I pray God to see her burn in fire, for that was my sister Dame Ragnell, that old Scot. May God shame her. Otherwise I would have tamed you.
...
Now I know that you will be my enemy, and that is a sad song for me. The words of my music shall be, 'Fare-well forever.'"

But Arthur reassures him that he definitely won't have him killed; "You shall never find me in such a plight as this again, and if you do, I deserve to be bound and beaten. I have armour for my defence that I promised to God. That you may well believe."

Arthurs danger is over, but now Gawain has to marry Ragnall. I quite like the slipped structure of this story.

Arthur and Ragnell ride to his castle.

"As they rode along, the King was ashamed of her, but she, ignoring his embarrassment, just rode along until they came to Carlisle. When they went into the castle she rode right beside him, and for no-one would she change her position. The king was no pleased about this and wondered where such a foul horrible creature came from. The people of the court had never seen so ugly a person."

Gawain is typically forward and is ready to marry immediately;

"'God have mercy,' said Dame Ragnell, 'for your sake I wish I were a beautiful woman, for you have such good will."

We get another brief ugliness list; "She had only two teeth like boar tusks the length of a hand on two sides of her mouth. one tusk went up and the other down. her mouth was enormously wide and was surrounded with many gray hairs. her lips hung over her chin."

Ragnell refuses a secret or discrete marriage and insists on the full public do. She dresses in enormous luxury and eats like a monster;

"When the service came before her, she ate as much as any six that were there. Her nails were three inches long and she tore her food apart with them, eating all by herself. She finished three capons, three curlews, several huge baked dishes, by God. ...  She continued eating right to the finish of the meal until the servants took the tablecloth away."

Now married, Gawain has to take the lady to the wedding bed;

"'Ah, Sir Gawain,' Dame Ragnell said, 'since I have married you, now show me your courtesy in bed. This right cannot be denied. Truly, if I were beautiful, you would have acted differently. You would not have bothered to worry if we were married or not. So, for Arthur's sake, at least give me a kiss. I ask you to do this anyway. Let us see how well you kiss.'

'I will do more than kiss you,' Gawain said, 'and before God.' He turned toward her and saw beside him the most beautiful women he had ever imagined with no exceptions.'

Well. Gawains bordering on insane absolute commitment to doing the right thing imediately and with total enthusiasm finally pays off.

"'Oh Jesus,' he said, 'what are you?'

'I am your wife, surely. Why are you being so unnatural?'"

She tells him that she is magic and that he has to make a choice. He can have her hotness at night, privately, in which case she will be ugly during the day. Or he can have her hot in the day but she will be ugly at night.

"'Alas,' said Sir Gawain, 'the choice is hard. To choose what is best is difficult. To have you fair at nigh and no more would grieve me deeply, for I would lose my honour and respect. To have you fair during the day but ugly at night, then I would lose my pleasure. Although I would be glad to choose best, still I do not know what in the world I can say. So do as you wish my lady dead. The choice I put in your hands. Do with me as you wish, for I am bound to you, I give the choice to you. Both my body and my goods, my heart and all parts of me are all yours, to buy and sell - that i swear to God.'"

And this, it seems, was exactly the right response. Ragnalls curse lasts only until the best man in England gives her sovereignty over his body and goods, which Gawain has just done.

Then they bone loads.

"There they both had joy unimaginable as was right and natural, both of them alone.
...
They had all kinds of pleasure in their chamber and thanked our Saviour for it. I can tell you truthfully, they stayed awake until dawn with their joy and play and then the beautiful girl wanted to arise.

'You shall not,' said Sir Gawain. 'We will lie and sleep late this morning, and then let the King call us to dine.'

'I'd like that, said the girl, and so the time passed until midday."

And there is your happy ending.

"May God thank him for his courtesy" she said. "He saved me from ill fortune and a degradation that was foul and grim. Therefore, courteous knight and noble Gawain, I shall certainly never anger you. I make that promise here. And I will be obedient all the days of my life, and God above, I guarantee never to argue with you."

They have a kid, live together for five years in great happiness, and then Ragnell dies, perhaps so the Gawain character can keep having adventures.

Then we get this strange coda;

"Now God, as Thou was born in Bethlehem, never allow their souls to burn in the fire of Hell. And Jesus, as Thou was born of a virgin, help him out of his sorrows who wrote this story, for he is in the hands of many jailers who keep him securely with torture wrong and awful. Now God, as Thou art the true royal King, help him out of danger for a long time. And give thy servant pity, and i yield my body and soul into Thy hand, because his pains are severe. Here ends the wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell, because she helped King Arthur."


And that was a very strange, very good short story. I enjoyed the complex gendered power exchanges that Chivalric fiction does so well. Its interesting that maybe a lot of people in prisons were writing knight stories.

I like Dame Ragnell and her wit and boldness and I like Gawain in this and his ridiculous Superman deal, and I even like Arthur and even the villain with the strange name. And surprisingly for a chivalric story, things even pretty much make sense at the end.