Tuesday, 6 December 2022

The Chill Lvl Zero Caravan Guard Adventure

 In this adventure you are level zero Caravan guards and nothing really happens, or if it does it’s taken place by the 'high end' guards, like level 1 or level 2 types, the real tough guys.

(the tough guys even have their own horses and camels you lot just follow along on foot)

Eugène Girardet - A Desert Caravan

So what would it actually be?
  • keeping watch
  • minor acts of theft
  • stopping the pilfering
  • getting to know the merchants in the caravan
  • try to stay alive if the caravan gets raided
  • try not to run away
  • or to let the raiders rob too much too easily
  • listening to tall tales from the crazy old man of the caravan
  • picking up bits and pieces of swordplay from watching the real guards
  • finding ways to not fall asleep or freeze if you are on sentry duty
  • hanging out with the other low-status types when the caravan stops 

Probably you yourselves are ex-slaves, runaway teens, beggars who ran out of rope, maybe just a citizen whose whole family died from plague. All you have is an eating knife and a spear, maybe a helmet for the leader, and a bell or rattle; "if you see anything, spin the rattle! ring the bell!" Better not give a false alarm though or you will get a clout round the ear.

Likely pressed into service as linkboys and for carrying stuff if the main guards have to go on an 'investigation', (you don't have to go, it’s not in your agreement, but you might get a silver piece out of it)

Some scholar (a mage maybe?) has paid the caravan master to take these 'detours' to sites of special interest in the deep waste. It’s sort of on the way and the caliph said you had to do it, not much time to explore each spot through, caravan has to keep moving on...

It gets fucking cold as shit in the desert at night. You want to gather round the fire but are meant to be keeping watch, the stars are unnervingly bright.  Can you even light fires in the desert? I suppose you can if you use dried camel and horse dung and guess whose job it is to pick that stuff up? Still if you do it well you might be rewarded with gratitude and a spot close to that particular fire that night.

Treasure for your group is counted in;
  • pennies
  • tobacco
  • new sandals
  • a proper fighting knife
  • a charm against bad spirits
  • a cool tattoo
  • maybe... a shield! (if you really impress a guard)

You are never going to see gold or silver on this trip except maybe at the end, or if asked to carry it by someone important. You only really go into the 'sites' once everything is over anyway, have to pull the bodies out, (better not mess with them or the real guards will be PISSED. They look after their own). A real, valid, caravan guard is a thing to aspire to, some even have recurve bows! (you are not strong enough to draw one), coats of coins from different realms, fine beards, scars, missing fingers, its a hell of a life boy.

'Adventures' include;
  • trying to stay awake
  • not getting scared of ghosts in the desert
  • finding somewhere warm to sleep
  • scheming your way out of guard duty
  • learn the ways of the desert
  • or at least how not to get bitten by a camel
  • and how not to drink all your water ration on the first day
  • not getting cheated by the guards in dice games
  • getting baked with half a weed stick the guards left behind
  • picking up arrows after a fight (its a penny each for a usable one!), (don't get shanked by a goblin wolf rider who was just playing dead); the group fighting one whole wounded goblin would be like an epic conflict for this game.
  • a camel has stopped giving a fuck, gotten into the oasis and won't come out
  • A guard gets bitten by a viper and has to be carried back to the caravan where hopefully he can get treatment, other guards are busy with a delve - if you can get him back he will owe you one, if you fail the guards will be pissed with you.

further aims;
  • survive to the end of the caravan journey
  • get paid
  • you are now level 1 PCs!
  • in a foreign city! wow!

Don't know really what ruleset to run this in, was thinking some classic not too crunchy sword and sorcery ruleset to represent the slightly storybook nature of events but with all the major conflicts over minor things like staying warm, winning a dice game, being able to trap a scorpion without it stinging you, finding your friends in the dark, running away from the wolf-riders without getting shot, getting lost and trying to get back to the caravan before it moves on, not passing out from dehydration.

What happens when some of the slaves hatch an escape scheme? You going to do anything about it? Work to get on the hunting party that goes after them? Or work to make sure you stay off it?

There are relatively few life threatening situations so what is being threatened by failure, your will go on, self-belief and developing heroic spirit. If you end the journey with a high WP then you 'graduate' and become a real PC and potential hero if not you end up back on the street, begging, or taking day labour and drinking your nights away and/or in massive debt. Or conversely, well rewarded by the caravan merchants for your excellent work, with coin, but more importantly, with contacts and reputation.

You could be the group who dragged Iqbal four miles when he was snakebit, good for a meet up and a story in a bar, nearly one of the guys, or that gang of fucking idiots who let my silk waggon get burned by the goblin raiders.

Could also be a low(ish) stakes social drama about the people who make up the caravan, a little section of pseudo-silk road culture. People do have to group together for protection, so could range across the social scales, could be a princess, or at least a nobles daughter in a covered waggon with its own set of guards who never leave, bunch of pilgrims on foot, scribe on a donkey..

Friday, 2 December 2022

Internal Voices Shut UP!

 Well then, I can finally stop making new HERBIE images. My month of Whoredom is over.


Believe it or not I actually thought this would be an "easy win". My assumption was that we would rocket through all of the early goals.


"I can’t believe you are making this book it’s so bananas." - A NAYSAYER

Apparently not everyone had COMPLETE FAITH in my ability to persuade people to fund this book! Something they NEGLECTED TO MENTION at the time!

I initially assumed we would hit 1000 copies quickly and then coast on towards an assumed 2000 copies and then use the stretch goals and end of run surge to maybe hit 4000.

But what actually happened as the Kickstarter opened was that it was waaaay less popular than I had perhaps foolishly assumed it would be. I was completely wrong and had to pull a Putin almost immediately, retreating from my initial goal and re-estimating all the costs for a much smaller print run.

Against that now-miniscule goal, we then did pretty well ("well"), and in fact got all of the artists and 1000 copies which means the KS was not a complete failure.

To be honest if I thought clearly or carefully about most of the stuff I do, I wouldn't do it. Perhaps in this case ignorance is a gift.

Still there is hope, maybe if this book works out it might be the first in a grand collection of Blog Books commemorating the deep lore of the OSR for future generations, each book preserving the odd voice of a particular sage.


We hope to get 'Speak, False Machine' printed by the start of April 2023. Only 4 months away! 

Should we pull it off, the next 'False Machine' Kickstarter will be for a book called 'Gackling Moon' - a much smaller book, an edited, added-to, improved and illustrated book about the 'Moonlands' based on the old 'Wodlands' posts from this blog.

'Gacking Moon' will have an artist I think, so far utterly unknown to an RPG Audience. I will talk more about that as we get closer to the time.

'Moon' was actually meant to be a simple 'in-and-out' project from... maybe two years ago? Maybe more. Oh lord. But it was delayed for a variety of reasons and then after the final possibility for a simple production fell through I offered to take it in.

Being much smaller, cheaper, fully illustrated, an actual Fantasy adventure book and having Goblins, hopefully 'Gackling Moon' will do well...

And what then?

I do not know. Probably Queen Mab, if we can actually get it to post-playtest by then.

And after that, I know everyone wants us to Re-Do VEINS OF THE EARTH, but we also have Broken Fire Regime Part 2: Frictionless Blue Glass to create.

So, the False Machine Schedule for the coming year is... (these always turn out to be wrong);

  • April 2023 - Print of 'Speak, False Machine'
  • March 2023 - Kickstarter for 'Gackling Moon'
  • September 2023 (?) - Kickstarter for 'Queen Mab'
  • December 2023  -Printing of 'Queen Mab'
  • April 2024 - Kickstarter for... either Frictionless Blue Glass or Veins of the Earth.

I know if I let you vote on it you would all vote for VotE and then I would have to not make it out of resentment for you all. So instead I will talk it over with Scrap and we will PULL IT OUT OF OUR ASSES!

Below the jump is EVERY HERBIE IMAGE I did for promotion;

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

No A.I. Art In My Work Ever

 The Oath is Made!

Below you may choose your faction for the MACHINE WAR, but first, a word from our sponsor; my Whoreish Soul...

We have crushed every artistic goal! And right now we are only about £1,300 away from me being able to print 1000 copies of the book! I suppose there's nothing in that for you but whatever!

My days of whoredom are nearly done! Only two more days of me desperately trying to think of something to blog!! Previously in this series!;

Obviously the algorithms are going to skullfuck humanity and reduce us to even more of a flock on neurotic nerve-smile secretly-terrified drone class nothings than we already are.  Therefore, I make the above declaration, which you can take as a promise, and a challenge. 

Those who are with me, you may select your factions or character builds from the below list, or add your own in the comments.

Butlerian Jihad

by alchetbeachfan

More interesting in its original unexplained references than in the books directly about it. Man may not be replaced.

Join If: vaguely religious, ecumenical, a mind witch or drug-addicted compulsive traveller.

Adeptus Mechanicus

Who saved the people of Mars when civilisation fell? It sure as fuck wasn't the cursed remains of the silica animus haunting the bloodstained surface. All Praise the Machine God!

Join If; you like medieval styling and as much cybernetics as you can jam in your body. So long as you have some brain stem left = still human. Just don't build the silica animus.

Blade Runners

Please try not to bang the robots, or if you do, don't fall in love.

Join if: you like raymond chandler stories, HUGE handguns, floating cars, or if you want to bang the robots. Or if you are a robot - TRICK QUESTION WE CAUGHT YOU FUCKER!

The Jedi

"“It’s an energy field created by all living things. 
It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”

But not Droids, droids are slaves. Fuck em. (and not clones either, also slaves)

Join If: you want SPACE MAGIC and a LASER SWORD.


If god wanted us to build robots and live on HOOPS, why did he make us such FUCKING UNITS?

By Abiogenisis 

Join If: You like PLANETS not fucking HOOPS, if you don't want to live like a tick on the back of a giant amoral MACHINE, if you believe in a terrifying alien GOD. Or if you want to be a MASSIVE CHAD ALIEN.

The Vega Scrapfleet

Having been betrayed by the Post-Human Republic, they have learned their lesson.

Join If: You like Confined Spaces, believe in make do and mend, prefer a classic design, feel no need to go near a gravity well ever again.

The Avengers

Ohhh lock out Tony Starks now there is a metal tony starks and he is even more of a twat!

cinematic genius

Join If: You are a dreamworks smirk stretched over a collagen injected face, if you are totally out of ideas or if your plans always go disastrously wrong but you get rewarded anyway.

The 12 Colonies of Kobol


Shut the fuck up. Fashion People!

Put your fucking CAPE on and lets goooooooo!

Thats it! FASHION!

Commander Bruce Maddox

Its pretty clear that Data could have easily killed them all without really trying and took over the ship with ease more than once.

Who is going to protect you from the Autistic Pinocchio that could rip off your arm like a pubescent chimp? The Legal System thats who, and Bruce fucking Maddox.

Join If: You have an elegantly THIN skull, like to do your casework, are the only sane person in your group, prefer to do things by the book, enjoy the colour blue.

The.... Zionists..😐

I suppose they were called the Resistance or the Rebellion or something.

Join If: GOTH, cyberpunk, if you are a morning person, enjoy immersive sims and/or if you prefer to work out while asleep.


Another group who were basically just 'The Resistance' but Tech-Com was John Connors section or group in the war against Skynet.

Join If: You are VERY Protestant, enjoyed the Left Behind series, have a basement stocked with canned goods, listen to a lot of Joe Rogan, fear bikers and chrome.


I forgot this lot from William Gibsons books but Scrap reminded me below.

(I do not know if this image is representative)

Join If: you are basically a hippy but want to pretend it something cooler than that, like the idea of implanted dog teeth, are homeless in San Francisco, are Ice T.

Monday, 28 November 2022


 oh my god why the fuck did i have this idea

lets call it 


Only THREE DAYS to go if you want this book! We may never re-print! KS ends on Thursday Dec 1st at 7pm UK Time!


Psyduck can't say anything but "Psyduck" or derivations thereof, but Psyduck can read minds and thereby knows all about language and the thoughts and dreams of others and it is in their voices that Psyducks story is told, a kind of epistolary tale.

Like a Philip K Dick story from the point of view of psyduck; decaying realities, conspiracies, fractured memories, identity manipulation.

A saga of the Pokemon universe, a story of psychic warfare, occurring over generations, hidden from most of the Pokemon world. A secret war! fought in shadows! A war over the nature and perception of reality itself with the aesthetic of the 'spooky' Pokemon cryptoculture elements like the ghosts and fragments, strange stories, lost levels of old games, that decayed pixel art look, glitch art.

I feel like I might be the wrong writer for this as actually I know almost nothing of the lore of the Pokemon universe and most of the crackpot theories are things I’ve heard other discuss first but for a start; 

Pokemon being a Post-Apocalyptic land - I think there is allegedly a single 'soldier' character in the lore and no army for him to belong to. 

Pokemon being slaves - the first Pokemon game was meant to end with you deciding not to play digital dog fights with your Pokemon any more as they were Sentient and often quite self-aware, but in fact this carried on and expanded, why? Universal mind-wiping and memory alteration.

Ghost Pokemon - what are they the ghosts of?

honestly there are a tonne of these

So the series would be a diegetic investigation of all the cryptic Pokemon lore and all the inconsistencies and incoherencies of that imagined world, treated not as fictional constructs but as actual ruptures in reality, brought about by and cloaked by psychic power, the actions of spirits or world-ending abominations

And only Psyduck knows the horrible Phillip K Dick truth of this reality and cannot speak it but must instead be a lonely guardian over the invisible fissures in consensus reality. For if the ordinary people knew how fragile their constructed truth really was the centre would not hold
and madness, or despair, would engulf all.


An historical agricultural procedural;

It’s the fertile crescent about 11,000 bc. Aurochs haunt the plains! Unkillable monsters! No man may face them and live!

In a valley somewhere a genius is born! But - his father is killed by an Aurochs. He swears revenge, he will defeat the Aurochs - ALL OF THEM, and make them slaves to the tribe! (this series does have milk fetish elements).

What follows is a deep dive into (late Neolithic?) proto-agricultural culture and a perhaps multi-generational saga of researching, capturing, breeding and living with the descendants of wild Aurochs and their conversion into cows. Really going in deep on each individual problem and the procedural methods for solving them.

Because the main character is totally obsessed with cows it’s as much an in-depth look at them (cows) as it is about the culture of the main character. Like any situation where you learn a huge amount about someone, or something, sympathy results and the story is as much a strange one of reconciliation between man and cow. Maybe the main character turns against the taming project at the last minute but now it is TOO LATE as there is simply too much power in the COW. Society has changed, probably forever.

This could be part of a series about the gradual assembly of the Eurasian agricultural animal 'package', including Dog, Horse, Cow, Sheep and possibly Pig, and Chickens could be a mini-series
(no Goat Master as really we have never truly mastered Goats), (and there could be a Cat series but that would have to be called 'Man-Master: First Purr' since in that case the taming process went the other way round), not sure what genetics is currently telling us about the timing of these various animals. I think a few of them may have common, quite narrow bottlenecks.

Really the development of the Eurasian agricultural package is perhaps the longest, most intensive and most productive scientific project in human history. Since all of these creatures were originally either useless or dangerous to us and the end of the process you eat your eggs then get on your horse to go out with your dog and round up your sheep and cows.

Only now, with this series, do we fully understand just how strange and miraculous the nature of these symbiotic servant species truly is!


A multi-series epic following John Churchill, later Duke of Marlborough, from (relative) penury through service to the King to becoming the ultimate super-diplomat, scheming bastard and possibly the best field general Britain has ever had.

Key thing here is that Marlborough was an irl Bishonen when he was young, so you can have hott young Marlborough for the first few series, and then we get older Marlborough, a very classical japanese/anime protagonist, (actually I'm pretty sure the main guy in Legend of the Galactic Heroes is partially based on Marlborough, specifically his looks and how he got his place in court), the warm/cold mysterious charming manipulator who take incredible risks and gets away with it.

Confidant of the King, he betrays him at exactly the right moment, (and possibly before), and issues in the Glorious Revolution. Later he battles in Europe while his wife is frigging off the Queen!

Big battles! clever tactics! outrageous risks! fantastic fashions! Wonderful hair! Secret plans, told to no-one which turn the tables at the last minute, a wonderful villain in Louis the whatever.

There really hasn't been a BIG pop culture depiction of the 'Age of Ann' that I can think of; the Glorious Revolution and the early days of the Saxe Cobergs. There is 'The Favourite'  but that’s arthouse and ignores the quite-interesting Euro-geddon, omni-scheming and giant armies marching
men pointing at maps

That anime thing where a single fight takes like nine episodes would actually work pretty well for a very large period battle, you could spend each episode following one character and group, isolated in their experience and makind decisions based on what they know and as you watch more of the episodes you get more of a global awareness of the battle than any group in it, so what before seemed like heroism may be foolishness, what seemed like a crazy risk was actually part of a clever plan etc, then in the last episode you cut to Marlboroughs POV with his just-according to-plan speech about how he planned to win this particular battle.

(Oddly enough one of Marlboroughs (way down the lists) soldiers was a Captain Blackadder.)

The massively different versions of Marlborough you get depending on whose record or analysis you read would fit quite well into a multi-person epistolary view where the focus of each episode moves from person to person, with each of them having an entirely different opinions of Marlborough, so he could be the 'villain' of his own series for an episode etc.


Basically Robert Caros 'Lyndon Johnson' series; the anime.

Anther multi-series epic about a politicians career based on a very long biographical series. (Honestly if you stripped out the endless repetitions and re-descriptions, each book would be about the length of an anime series), along with an involved social history of the United States.

Nice thing about Caro is that he writes, and or finds, _scenes_, not just information; Johnsons fathers vividly described physical and mental collapse as he bankrupts the family. Young LBJ writing his name in huge letters on the school blackboard. Young LBJ insisting on being the one to ride the mule to school. LBJ betrays Leland Olds and destroys him in the senate! LBJ an the meeting where his team schemes up a way to escape the corruption charges which will tank his (second) senatorial election, the high-risk move of going straight to the supreme court!

And the first series has LBJ going to college! Its a fucking school drama! Classic Anime! Along with LBJ being an utterly evil scheming prick and using every questionable method imaginable, from secret societies to whisper campaigns to straight-up blackmail, to take CONTROL OF THE STUDENT COUNCIL - its literally the birth of an Anime Villain


Its a post-isekai isekai which reverses the usual socio-cultural matrix of the classic isekai which is; introverted loner and social failure gets reincarnated into a world where he can become a hero.

Instead we have a high-achieving athletic, social and sane normie, just an all-round great guy
who happens to also be very successful and generally a positive influence, (and it’s important that he is generally a rational, logically positive person, intelligent and adaptable), and somewhat successful with the ladies. Great future ahead of him, well-liked, and deserves it.

Then he gets reversed over by Truck-kun and wakes up in the off-brand 40k Nightmare Future where he has been forcibly recruited into the auxilia and is thrown into the meat-grinder against the demon robot forces.

Key thing is - he is still the same guy, still intelligent and capable, a natural leader and at least to begin with, fundamentally a good person, so he rapidly gets over his shock and does his best to survive and even thrive and decides, since he has protagonist energy, that he is going to bring sanity, reason and decency to the grimdark future.

However instead what we get to watch is the slow corruption and maddening of an anime protagonist as every victory, success or story of survival against the odds involves the Student Council President more and more deeply in the broken moral ecology of his new reality until he slowly becomes exactly the kind of corrupt, deranged and cybernetic maniac who would order the retrieval of random souls from parallel worlds to recruit into the penal legions or whatever.

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Literally Just One Lamentation

 Some excerpts below from one more book by Joss Reynolds! Another Reynolds book, another investigation of faith and identity, and another hero being best friends with a vampire...

Josh, did you really think you would get a trilogy?

They let him have one book, one short story and an audio drama. I bet even that was a cut down version of an eight book sequence from the original pitch..


But First - only 4 days left on the Kickstarter for 'Speak, False Machine'!

Only about 150 copies of the book remain! 

(Unless we get to a total of £21,650, in which case we can print 1000 copies).

But! We have hit every desired goal for each artist for the book! Meaning we will have art by;

Simone Tammetta!!

Scrap Princess!!

Jason Thompson!

Jez Gordon!

Peter Mullen!

Amanda Lee Franck!

Daniel Puerta!

Valin Mattheis!

Dirk Detweiler Leichty!

Ana Polanšćak!

and Alec Sorenson!


Now back to Josh, faith, and vampires. Here are two parts of a conversation between Volker, the Gunmaster commanded by the smith god Grungi to go and fetch the first of eight evil chaotic artifacts made with his stolen secrets. Grungi plans to remove them from reality and re-make them into something less fucking insane. Pretty much every other major power centre in the Mortal Realms already knows about them and is also sending people after them. One of which is the vampire Adhema, who enters into a probably-temporary alliance with the 'good guys' in the hopes of at least making sure Chaos don't get the super-weapon they are after.

Riding on a Kharadron airship, they get a chance for a rare, and unusual conversation.

If you read my previous Reynolds post, you will be familiar with the themes.

"like a smith hammering a nail"

Volker was silent. In truth, he'd wondered that himself. Why had Grungi sent them, rather than hunting for the weapons himself? What could they do that a god could not? But as he wondered, the answer came to him. 'Actions and reaction.'

Adhema frowned. 'What?'

'An action causes a reaction, yes? He gestured. 'A blade enters flesh, a man dies. A loud noise starts an avalance. Actions and reactions. if a god acts, other gods react. if Grungi seeks the weapons openly, so too will others. And the weight of their tread, the fury of their war, would crack the realms.'

'As if it has not already,' Adhema said.

Volker shrugged. 'True. Perhaps I'm wrong. But I suspect I'm not.'

'And so you do his bidding.'

'It needs to be done.'

'How do you know he hasn't put the thought there, like a smith hammering a nail?' Adhema tapped her head. 'The gods speak, and mortals obey. You cannot help it. It is like a great wave bearing down on you, and all you can do is run ahead of it. Run where they want you to.'

'And is Nagash any different?'

'Nagash is... all,' Adhema said, finally. 'He contains multitudes. Even as Sigmar does. The gods are not me, and do not exist as men, confined to one life. I have seen Nagash unbound - a titan of death, striding across a field of corpses. Wherever his shadow fell, the dead rose and walked, hungry for the flesh of the living. And I have seen Nagash-Mor, calm and silent, weighing the hearts of dead souls against a feather. And there are other aspects, I'm told. The Forlorn Child, who leads those who die before their allotted time to gentle slumber, and the Black Priest, who gives succour to those whose deaths are too painful to be borne. All are one in nagash and Nagash is all.'

'And which Nagash do you serve?' Volker asked.

'The one who can win the war for Shyish.' Adhema's fingers drummed against the pommel of her sword. 'The one who draws up the bodies of the enemy and hurls them back at their allies. The one who will not rest until the realm of death is scoured clean of false life. The Undying King, who leads the nine hundred and ninety-nine legions to war'. She grinned. 'He who walks in every mand shadow and wades in every mans blood.'

Volker felt a chill at her words. Nagash's name was a curse among the armies of Azyr. Death itself was, if not a friend, then a familiar acquantance. But the Master of Death was a terror beyond conception. A hungry shadow on a cave wall, stretching black fingers ever closer to those who huddled by the fire. Even the Runous Powers, horrifying as they were, were not so terrible as the entity known on the Amber Steppes as the patient Hunter. And yet, what better ally against the nightmare forces that waited beyond the fire's light? Match terror against terror, and see which proved the stronger.

Volker acknowledged the pragmatism of the thing, even as his soul shrank from it. It was akin to loosing a volley into a melee - the risk to your own men was weighed against potential harm to the enemy. That risk was often the thin line between victory and defeat.

Adhema smiled. 'You understand,' It was not a question.

Volker nodded. 'Somewhat.' He paused. Then, 'Why did you help me?'

'Perhaps it pleased me to do so,' Adhema said. She leaned back against the rail. 'Perhaps I simply siezed the moment for what it was - an opportunity.'

"what sort of monster you are"

Suddenly Volker was aware of her proximity. She smelled of something sickly-sweet, and this close,he could see the faint black veins running beneath her pale flesh. he was reminded that she was not human, and had not been so for many years, by her own admission. He took a slow breath, forcing himself to remain calm. 'Don't, then. I'd prefer my blood to stay where it is, frankly.'

'It's hard through. If I lose control, I feed the beast within. Some days, I want nothing more than to shed my skin and the last memory of what I was.' Her smile was ghastly. ' It would be easier that way. To be a beast, only concerned about the next meal. But I did not become what I am to forget. Nor to forgive.' She traced her fingers through the wispy trails of aether-gold that swirled just past the rail. 'Does that make me a monster?'

'Yes,' Volker said. 'But what sort of monster you are is up to you.' He lifted his rifle and braced the stock against his hip. 'With this rifle, I ahve taken more lives than I can count. Enemy lives, mostly. I reaped them, one at a time. I watched them first though. Knew them, if only briefly. And then killed them.' He smiled, sadly. On bad nights, he saw some of their faces in his dreams - the freeguilder, caught by bloodreavers, begging for a merciful death before the savages began their feast; the old war-chief, leading his folk into a desperate charge against the metal monsters of the Ironweld, his only crime a refusal to bow to the highborn of Azyr; the proud queen, high on her palnquin, refusing to submit before the will of Sigmar's choses, when they came demanding she cast down her people's idols.

He saw their faces, and screamed inside himself, until his mind shook itself calm. Or worse, he stayed awake, and wondered about the necessity of it all, and whether justice was a hard truth... or simply a fiction, invented by the gods to explain their whims. He looked at her. 'Is it better or worse to kill a doe who doesn't see it coming? A barbarian chieftain, carousing with his kin. A beastman, lapping at a pool. An orruk, dancing to the beat of tribal drums. They never heard the shot that killed them. They never saw the destruction that came after.'

'Where I come from, that'd be considered a mercy. My queen - and the one she serves - prefers it when the enemy fully understands the folly of their resistance. Death cannot be defeated, only posponed.' Adhema brushed a lock of hair out of her face. 'Even your thunder-god knows that.'

Friday, 25 November 2022

The Gifts of Darkness

The Kickstarter for my new book, Speak, False Machine has advanced through more goals. Now before us lies the wonderous miniature art of Ana Polanšćak, the Gardener of Hecate, and this leads me to think on the substance of darkness..

(all images from Gardens of Hecate by Ana Polanšćak)

Shiny forms, reveal their mass through gleam, through reflection; slashes and beams of bright light, can even form fully reflective surfaces with images of the world inside them, and the more reflective and shinier something is usually the 'colder' we perceive it to be

What then for the opposite? The felted surface, hair, fur? If the shining surface is in a close relationship with light is the matte  or the textured surface in a relationship with darkness, or with shadow, or with life?

For the shining surface is so rare in nature, usually only through liquids or crystals. So the shadowed and textured surface speaks to us of time in a way difficult for the gleaming surface which often seems timeless, related to its most common natural examples; water and crystals, both almost empty, or full of light, while for any shining, solid surface, as soon as it becomes subject to entropy, it tends to become matte, textured.

In the natural world, very few things are like the sun, but many are like the moon.

Nature then speaks to us of life and time through the textured surface.

The gift of darkness is that it, more than light, focuses the mind on what can be seen, and demands suggestion.

Suggestion is inherent to shadows, even to be shadowed or to be in shadow is a half-state, that part of something, or some aspect of it, can be perceived yet that the whole cannot.

Very different to darkness where sight itself is cancelled out and perception re-sets around a different range of stimuli, in a sense to be trapped in shadow is more terrifying than to be trapped in darkness for in pure darkness the path is clear, one must listen, smell, touch, explore carefully, think deeply and remember everything, while sight is lost the order of perception, though limited in total, is made more clear in its arrangement and necessity. What to do is more difficult, but knowing what to do is no longer a matter of confusion, so we may devote everything to the challenge ahead of us and thereby find meaning within it.

The challenge of shadow therefore is not the difficulty of perception only but the simultaneous meta-difficulty of both attempting to perceive with limited information and also trying to decide what to try to perceive at the same time. There is a lot to do within the mind when things are in shadow, there is a lot that must be done when things are in shadow, it is by its nature a state of meta-perception in which the mind must juggle not only its own perceptions but the nature of the limitation of those perceptions.

In states of fear or stress then, the shadow can become a well of infinite fear, the suggestion of a suggestion, the worry of a worry, the fear of an illusion and the illusion of fear, all feeding off each other in an endless circle of recursion.

Yet there is also a gift of shadow, for the same processes and necessary meta-perception that call us to an infinite abyss of negative possibility, if viewed without fear, can call us to any possibility, to the deep and simultaneous consideration of not just what is known or unknown but also how it is these things are known and unknown, of what the mind can perceive and also, at the same time the inherent limitations of that perception, and through this; sometimes fear, but sometimes also peace, humour and perhaps wisdom.

Therefore to dwell upon shadow is not necessarily to dwell in fear, or even to dwell upon self-deluding obscurity (though this is surely a great danger), but to live honestly, in a realm of things half-seen and poorly understood, which no matter how flawed it may seem, is only the honestly represented realm of our own minds, where things are always thus, and therefore while to dwell upon shadow might not lead to the same grand heights as that of clear light, if considered properly, it is less deluding and more aptly humbling, and if the heights are harder to reach, if one is truly thinking, the failures are also easier to avoid and the path more certain.

Thursday, 24 November 2022

Spinter Giants and Dirk Detweiler Leichty


Yesterday we smashed through another two GOALS on the False Machine Kickstarter, work by Valin Mattheis will now be included in the book, and in the fell swoop of a moment, the wonder-worker Dirk Detweiler Leichty will also be included!

The fact that it took so long to climb over the pile of bloodstained gold between I and Valin Mattheis and that we stumbled and slipped down the other side of that pile, only snatching Dirk to our breasts at the last minute, meant I never got to do any posts about him - so I am doing that now.


As I talked about in my recent interview about ART, Dirks style is hard to contain and describe. He is clearly unlike almost any other kind of artist in this "scene" or any other.

(Actually a piece named "Tower Giants" by Dirk)

What do I see? These slices of perspective that I can only call Cubist, the landscape interlaced with figures, splinters of time and these BOLD arrangements of composition. Slices of depthless colour.

Regarding composition - if you do the trick of turning the image upside down there is another image there, a white one sending these previously unseen lightning strikes up into the top of the picture.

And the figures, these distorted columns, strange presidents, twisted monuments like statues, these look like they could be cardboard cut-outs of giants, like trick playing cards or the interiors of  complex stand-up books - so there is another layer of metatextuality.

So a lot of Dirks pictures of things or people are also somehow pictures of environments, and a lot of his pictures of environments also somehow end up being like pictures of people, the interlacing of the imagined organic/personal with the imagined space, scene and character becoming one, 

A keen awareness of three-dimensional space, at times an obsession with the isometric, but also a compulsion to warp or Escher that space, to change or reinterpret its rules, the isometric space being, really, a particular kind of pronescium(?) arch which combines the presentation of theatre and the semi-illusion of three-dimensionality (except unless you can 'turn the camera around' most games don't actually make use of a full 360 space - those Nintendo cubes are often just empty void on the other side).

Probably Dirk is a theatre set designer from another world because that’s what a lot of his images are, the designs of theatre sets from planes with more angles than ours.


The question of what the Splinter Giants are, of what they are doing to this space, splintering apart this city even as they walk through it; what do the city-dwellers see? A giant pair of legs appearing like a magicians illusion, like a fragment in a mirror, walking over walls, transforming into a giant advertising board, turn your head and there is part of the torso and a hand, seen from a different direction, heading a different way yet synchronised with and clearly an aspect of the same figure, a figure which is interacting with this world coherently to it, though with its embodiment seems splintered to us.

The giant of course, sees their own body utterly normally - to them they are walking, slowly, carefully, through a shattered mosaic of splintered time, beset by a dozen fragments of broken noise as their head turns, the sunlight leaping and stuttering from place to place, direction to direction.

To us it might seem that the giant fools with time; a head cries out in doppler, a torso shudders, and then, a second later, a car drives into a set of displaced feet..

Well, things happen roughly around the same time, that’s consciousness for you, so long as its all generally in some kind of sequence it should be fine. Giants have huge skulls and huge brains after all, a long low wave of binding and unbindings, of sense and comprehension, even for a normal giant a 'moment' is quite long; they only have 45 seconds in a minute and their days are 22 hours long. That’s without even considering the curious paradigm of the splinter giants  - perhaps the splintering is more a mental effect than anything else, a curiosity of giant consciousness, maybe to insects we look like splinter giants and the whole thing is just a strange meshing of different frames of reference. 

Perhaps a Splinter Giant is just a giant with a complex temporary mental condition.


Ana Polanšćak! The Gardener of Hecate herself! Someone who's name I have butcherd so badly and so often you could use it to fill sausages.. Only about £250 away with 7 days left!