Monday 28 October 2013

I will do anything to avoid filling it in

No points at all if you can work out where I ripped these off from.

Otherpool Crime Gangs

Tokkys – Low, slumped thugalikes with heavy shoulders, bald heads and drooping arms. Love violence for its own self’s love. Other gangs start riots to pull a heist, they do a crime to start a riot, then roll in it from that point on. Scrap-tech experts. Everything they drive and use is kludged-by-hand from scrap and ruinated technology. Led by Lister from Red Dwarf.

The Hive – All female misandrist pregnancy-and-death cult. Dave Sim’s worst nightmare.  Gaunt girls in their hundreds on cult mind-control starvation diets. Swarm on you fearless of death and rip you to shreds with carbon-reinforced nails, undetectable to cops and not illegal anyway. Hive mother is a perma-pregnant Kathy Burke

The Aul-Fellahs – Spastic and terminal Alzheimer’s-gangsters wearing combat-hospice cyber gear. Staggering stiffly, in their NHS exo-suits. Brains wormed up from dementia and coke abuse. Semi-intelligent cortical upgrades blinking on the sides of their heads. Lemniscate mnemo-loops auto-flag the frontal lobes with who they are and where.It goes wrong sometimes or doesn’t remember stuff right. They can be hacked too. All irredeemably evil with experience of a lifetime of crime and harm. Terminal cases and uncaring of the end. Lead by evil Daniel Day Lewis from ‘My Left Foot’.

LIPA-nauts – Fey, pretentious hyper-beautiful art gang. Swanning around on superfast beautifully decaled silent motorbikes. All live in gated communities you can’t get into, or in Chester (daddy’s house). Like knifing people. Really good dancers. Tend to steal beautiful things and keep them because no-one else appreciates them. Lead by Ziggy Stardust. They are a crying race.

They have a black-clad drug-annihilation division. Homeless on a parasitic perma-couch-surf in other people homes. Don’t let them in.

Islanders – Refugees from.. somewhere. No-one sure where it was or exactly what ethnicity they are. Maybe an oceanic island chain, swamped by global warming. Super-optimistic though. ‘Accepting’ of ‘all’. Drive around in blocky cars. Tight family structure and creepy impenetrable caste system. Some kind of positivist pseudo-religion. Energy weapons and high technology. Futurists. Like hyper friendly Mormons meets the Hmong meets AIM. Lead by … what Mormons do I know? ‘evil’ Vincent Baker.

Sunday 27 October 2013

I got bored writing that questionnaire

 so I did this instead. This is what you find in my FASERIP alternate liverpool.


all the buildings are TALLER, three times the height at least
vast decaying brick tenements
everything is BRIGHTER
is is bright sunlight, or driving rain like a frank miller page, grim strange fog, howling wind or murderous storms
vast decayed dimension gates rust in the ruined docks
they flicker with impossible dimensions.
there is bleed.
an abandoned lightning tower rises several kilometres in a black line, iron, haloed in a permanent storm. None go there now.
ROBOTS ARE CITIZENS they all have extreme political beliefs, they do not understand nuance
Theme music plays spontaneously when things are cool

There are no combat mecha but there are unlicensed art mecha made by students and mecha flashmobs that go wrong sometimes.
The business district is super art-deco.
There are vast tunnel systems everywhere.
The mersey tunnel keeps going and takes you to America.
Huge art deco ventilation tunnels poke out of the sea ll the way there.
joseph williamsons tunnels are huge and kept going.
ghosts live there and people are friends with the ghosts.
the underworld is down there.
gerry anderson did all the vehicles and all of the organisations are based on his costumes.
the nights are gritty and people smoke standing in crime scenes
aged steampunk industrialists guard the underworld.
the black racer death figure is Robert Stephenson, he sets off from Edge Hill every midnight, riding the original Rocket, taking souls to the underworld.
The supernatural hierarchies are like a 19th century shipping corporation.
the Titanic was a satellite and it crashed.
the wreck is visible from the city, out in the ocean.
Doctor Doom is Isembard Kingdom Brunel.
Bad guys use the hand weapons from 40k, Lasguns, Bolters, Plasma guns that blow up.
the Beatles died fighting god, his corpse orbits the moon, its visible.
Ringo lived.
There is no money
Robbie Coltrane's Cracker runs the police force.

Cops are all anguished as fuck, on the edge EVERY DAY.
No brave man dare refuse a duel.
St Georges Hall has hexagrammic walls, daemons are summoned there.
Streets named after slave traders are invariably haunted, bad things come through there.
Vast glass buildings hold publicly-operated 3d printing maker machines, kids can make whatever they want.
TROUBLE usually.
Thors hammer is actually in Thorstone Park, under the big sandstone hill.
The Wirral is cyberpunk to fuck, everyone is poor or super rich.
The Curse on Sefton park means there you can only fight hand-to-hand, kung-fu homeless live there and can be called on, their ways are not ours.
All of the parks are cursed by the ancient stones beneath them, each curse different.
The Bus-Drivers are combat-trained ex-millitary.
Alan Moore is Dr Strange, he sometimes comes on the train. You have to go to Northampton to consult him.
A giant statue of Harold Wilson is also a hollow research facility for reality-twisting ideas, things go wrong there all the time.
The gigantic catholic cathedral they planned actually got built.
The catholic church has arco-flagellents, half of the priests are secretly into daemons, the other half are tortured heroes.
There was a scouse pope but he went mad and disappeared.
Heists always go down.
Good guys always get framed and have to do heists.
Doing a heist means Putting The Team Back Together.
Lister from Red Dwarf is a cheeky crime lord.
David Mitchells character from peep show is the mayor.
The Hospital is St Darkplace.

The outrushing tide births whitecaps that are the manes of ochre and gold horses washed down as sedimentary mud.
Still times are always raining.
Sean Beans Sharpe has a statue near Chavasse Park.
Noel Chavasse is the phantom stranger, questing endlessly in the underworld against threats no-one else sees.
Jeremiah Horrocks is an eternal time traveller, but only within the city itself, like that ian Sinclair thing.
Scallies can put together scrap technology like Orcs in 40k.
Chester Zoo has one of every animal in the monster manual, brought through the dimension gates when they were working
The economy is fucked.
Fists in daytime, knives at night.
smash a pint glass on his head.
Automatic weapons are about as accurate as the A-Team, civilian casualties are about as common.
But only in the daytime.
At night they are Ronin-accurate.
There are two guys carrying a glass panel across the road.
Boxes might break your fall.
But not at night.
Purple Aki is an invisible and feared legend.
Getting high always goes wrong.
The nights are drawn by Frazier Irving

Saturday 26 October 2013

I don't know how big a megadungeon is supposed to be

But the one I just finished is forty fiive thousand words long and runs to one hundred and ten pages of A4.

Probably we will lose a fair amount of that in the edit. Don't hold your breath.

Sunday 20 October 2013

Exo-Suits of the Hot Girls.

Sometimes it’s hard to hear the signals of a parallel world.
It’s been a while since I received any news of my parallel self and his R.P.G ‘River ofShadows’. It looks like in the intervening time some kind of science fiction expansion has come out.

In the future mankind has colonised every available star system with slower-than-light colony ships. Civilisations communicate with each other continually but slowly. Everything is hyper-civilised, overdeveloped and boring. No-one is allowed to do anything interesting or dangerous as they live in a perfect climax civilisation.

If anyone wants to be original or take a risk the only thing to do is try to explore one of the cold worlds. These are exo-planets lost in the lifeless voids between stars. Dark, ancient and cold. Many terrible things are buried there by timeless dead races beyond the comprehension of man.

Because governments are boring only radicals will explore the dead spheres. They scrape together scrap-tech with private capital, jury-rig a disused colony ship and head off in cryo sleep to the space between the stars. There is nothing out there so they have to take all the energy they will need with them. They know they will return in a thousand years-plus, relative to when they left, everything will be different. They don’t care. If they come back, they will change everything. 

No-one makes tech to survive the alien weather systems and awful mysteries of the cold spheres, so they have to build or cludge it themselves. 

The odd thing about this game is that all of the explorers are assumed to be hot punk girls. No explanation is given for this. 

Suits the girls are riding.

1.      Gas giant turboliner luxury evac suit re-fitted by pirate ice merchants after mass-disaster. Some bloodstains, wood-panelled interior, nice drinks selection, internal anti-personnel weapons for use against the poor, perfect credit history.

2.      Ex-Mil ice-moon halo-jump assault-suit prepped for low atmosphere high-angle entry and rapid heat exchange displacement vanes for high-velocity melt-through of tectonic pack ice and undersea deep-pressure assault. Disposable. Un-used.

3.      Post-nuke search and rescue suit with active Kirlian-Faraday defences against necrotising cryptowraiths. Ablative crystallising radiation slough-skin bleeds industrial-diamond-substitute.

4.      Antique trans-sanity Culverin MEGGIDO-class apocalypse suit. Confirmed three reality breeches closed. No fails. Discharged with full honours and multi-faith blessing. Sold as surplus during government shutdown over complex tax issue.

5.      Experimental Tomb-Analysis jacket. Produced as marketing test-prototype by futurist clade for predicted market of sunless explorers. Market failed to arise. Suit highly modified by billionaire performance artist as commentary on the creative tension between visions of the future and the now.

6.      Half-torched coronal-rider cybernetic array for maintenance of heliosphere vampire-satellites feeding endless thaum-hunger of core world climax Civ. Vaporised scarwounds in packed-ceramic overlays have little effect on survival in ultracold tomb-world environments.

7.      Active nuke-engine exhaust repair bot with scooped braincore and botch-job suit-within-a-suit life support pocket scavenged from crashed hydroponics resort. Chassis made to cludge fixe the Ex-Jets of near-lightspeed colony ships on journey between stars, without de-stepping the torch.

8.      ‘Naked Space’ field rainbow suit riding ultra-compressed electromagnetic kill-waves of original weapon mounting. Formerly trans-orbital ‘silencer’ for city-killing stealth-ship energy weapon. Weapon core and mounting removed. House-sized EM silencer re-fitted with auto-motile tractomorph claws. Drags counter-rotating tach-rifled gun barrel like a crippled tail.

9.      Stygio-abyssal armed wanderer. Tracked for ultra-slow transit of subducting tecto-murder zone. Full translation and appeasement AI for intended treaty-comms with ultra-violent Squidlikes below the dark photosphere. Semi-flexible syntactical tentacles added for reasons of Peace. Accidentally transported rare human bacteriophage on chassis that wiped out Squidlike ecology. Effective genocide. Mothballed in shame.

10.  Scratch-built kropotkinite ultra-savantic PunkSuit developed by briefly existent anti-authoritarian AI crystallised by Noospheric flashmob. Suit designs spat out before violent dispersal by thought police. Built vengefully of re-purposed corporate Lux-Tech with brandnames inverted and replaced.

But you can still totally tell they’re hot because…

1.      Impact-jinxed medical-array holo-field accidentally spits out glimpsed bodyslices like a fucked projector. Images hang like a halo in the O2 exhaust around exit vents and pipe fractures.

2.      Punk pilot made naked figurehead of idealised self for sensor prow of own exo suit for easy identification and political statement. Carved from adulterated chem-ice perma-frozen in tomb-world chill. Apparent ‘sweat’ on own naked form shows melting, indicates dangerous temp change if sensors non-functional. Figurehead melts at end of each mission, re-carved again for next insertion.

3.      Pilot is dancer from full-bodylanguage Logo-culture. Speaks with limbs as well as voice. Convinced no-one can understand her without seeing her. All flat outer surfaces masked with cheap paper-thin LED screens showing endlessly gesticulating body of pilot from every possible angle. Screens persistently glitch and madden.

4.      Self-named exo-suit painted with bomber-style glamour portraits of pilot-owner as branding exercise and good-luck charm.

5.      Pilot has own face projected on front of mech-head so partners and following cyber-dogs can see facial expressions during radio chat. Emotional valancy adds to cognitive bandwidth during key communications. Dogs and colleagues can follow eye movement and trace line of sight for non-verbal instructions and to spot attention patterns. Has taught mech to shrug

6.      Self-designed knight-style heraldry on suit-front and projected holo-pennants updated with relief of pilots achievements, notable actions, sexual conquests.

7.      Pilot either Positivist Neo-Hindu or aping mores of same. Own figure embossed onto suit-hull in endless tessellated patterns. Takes part of numerous gods in divine story-cycle, violent, sexual, numinous, hermetic. Mech effectively temple to self.

8.      Pilot ripped out sensor dome and replaced with zorb-ball of nano-active smart water. Defends against cold, heat, all EM frequencies, exudes and compresses to defeat physical attacks. Pilot floats naked or semi naked in centre of clear blue sphere like the pupil of a giant cyclopic eye.

9.      Sensor tentacle-tips implanted in the heads of human-scale android sculpts of pilot dressed either in radical fashions, or not at all. Android dummy sculpts either swoop through air carried by extended pseudopodia in back of head, or walk across cryo-blasted zero-plains on apparently naked feet, or in heels. Spy arms puppeting move-style of creator.

10.  Main comms vane, heat exchange or primary gun turret massively re-modelled as sculpture of pilot. Beautiful impassive archeotectic features pass pack and forth endlessly scanning dead landscape. Lips open to vomit heat or high-velocity rounds.

Sunday 13 October 2013

Ten Ideas For The Backs Of Toy Soldiers

I am taking an hour or two off to imagine differently profiled toys. Most of these are for Imperial Guard style armies. If you want to know abou the God Angle Profile, go here.

1. A single air tank like the ones divers carry, either vertically or aslant. When seen in groups this should highlight the vulnerability of the guardsmen. If aslant, would seem like a row of tallymarks. Marines get Rhomboids and Triangles, guardsmen get single lines. A gasmask pushed back over the head so it hangs upside-down, a line of deflated faces staring back at the player in blunt accusation. Like a row of graves.
This world could be one where large pockets of invisible gas fill valleys, turning them into lifeless oceans. Armies walk into the gas like going underwater. So they have excellent reparatory gear but always know when they will need to use it. They would walk slowly and act calmly in toxic environments. 

2. A kinetic sculpture. The simplest would be some kind of pinwheel. Is there any way to make this cool? Maybe psychic-dispersal vanes that catch the unseen wind of chaos and stop you mutating. Chaos troops could have an uneven eight-arrowed pinwheel that spins on their backs. They wouldn’t even need a reason, those guys would just be into that shit.

Their artillery would look like one of these.

(I just really want to get Kinetic sculpture on the battlefield)

 3. A counterweight for aliens. I know they could do this and GW would like it as you could move the bulk of the sculpture much further forward of the base, creating a great impression of dynamism that would be a profile for the entire army. Imagine a beast leaping forward with only its rear limbs just touching the base. Behind it a long tail with some nodule or club at the end. Inside the club, a small lead weight. Could work well for the as-yet unseen Hyper-Violent Barghesi.

4. A mirror. The player would have their face staring back at them. I have seen kinder eggs do stuff like this. Regiment carries half-parabolic defensive mirror shields like tiny radio telescopes with chunks taken out of them. Officers and assault groups carry them forwards. The bite taken out of the shape makes room for the active weapon arm. Rifle troops carry the mirror shields slung on their backs. Pointing back towards you.
Maybe they come from the world where they make the ultra-rare anti-lasgun shields. Or from airless asteroids where laser fire can carry across hundreds of miles as it doesn’t disperse, so they had to think up an active defence.

5. Faces in profile. Stormtroopers might wear embossed body armour with fear/medusa face going forward like the face of Phobos on Alexander’s breastplate and the face of Fortune, or Tyche, on their backs. Fortune does guard your back after all. The player would see a series of serine smiling female faces in profile, like on coins. All facing the same way.

6. A spirit level. Carried in small of the back or across the shoulders. Width of a drain. Just a bit wider than the back, with an actual bubble in there. Regiment from non-demonic otherspace or collapsed webway fragment. They grow up in a non-euclidian zone and need this stuff to function in realspace at enormous cost.
They could wear strange angular helmets with prisms inside them to alter their eyesight for normal space. Could be an anti-necron veteran assault force, trained for suicide actions. Or for assaulting deamon worlds. Or searching the webway when the empire finds a breach. Can’t be driven mad, so that’s handy.

Weapons could look like Naum Gabo Sculptures.


 7. Knots. Big knots of rope worn across one shoulderdeliberately encrypted climbers harnesses. Like that thing Worf always wore, but bigger, chunkier, giving a strong asymmetric profile. Like Celtic knotwork in 3d. Regiment adds one knot for battle survived, vets have huge backpack knots they never take off.

8. Stowed ceremonial powerfists they are not allowed to use. Probably not the real thing but religious/cargo cult replica’s. Like a pair of huge open hands crossed at the back. Could be worn palm down like hands reaching over the shoulder pulling them forwards into battle. Or palm up like hands reaching up out to the player. Fits with god-angle theme as its like prayer aimed at you.

9. Savage world without technology yet worships machine god. Wears icons made from wood on their backs. Cargo-cult mech arms like Tech Priests, but made from wood and obviously carved. Or curled-up Space Marine icons made from wood. Organic grain contrasting with mech form. Possibly leaves and branches still left on.

10 Hexagonal backpacks? Ok this one is really rubbish, but they would lock together on the field and look like a big beehive, which is nice.

Sunday 6 October 2013

"Still, that is not the point.”

Whenever we try to decide whether to accept a new idea, we must ask ourselves some very serious questions.

1 – Does it make me look good?
2 – Is it like something I already half-believe but better phrased?
3 – Can I get away with it?
4 – Has someone already done most of the heavy lifting?

Exactly one week ago I went to the library to look for books on sculpture. Of the two I picked up, one was chosen mainly on the basis of size. It was large and brown and looked official. The dewey decimal number was embossed onto the spine, which is how you know someone means business with their book. There were also lots of pictures.

And by pure chance I pick up the one book I absolutely need. What a surprise is Herbert Read.

He died in 68’ I think and never saw large-scale miniature production. Let alone Warhammer. But I think he would have liked it. Here are some things I learnt from Herbert

Read believes that the ‘Painterly’ and the ‘Plastic’ are in conflict all through the history of sculpture. What this means is a little complex. I hope I have under stood well enough to summarise without saying anything too stupid.

This is ‘Painterly’ 

The simplest way to say it is that it is sculpture made to be seen, made to create an image first. To do the same thing that painting does, but with different materials.

I think Herbert would probably think that Elves are Painterly as well.

They are kind of an illusion. The material is not being itself, it is being transformed, with skill, to create the pretence of another kind of matter. To float. The problem Herbert has with this is that, while not bad in itself, and requiring a high level of ability, it separates sculpture from its core. He thinks sculpture can do something that images can never do and that when sculptures become too painterly and feed on each other they, over time, become absent of this core quality.

“but it is perhaps still necessary to expose the weaknesses that, present in the painterly conception at its best, lead with logical inevitability to the horrors of academic sculpture at its worst.”

So what is this quality?

Sculpture can shape mass. It can occupy space in a particular way. It holds and contains weight and depth and projects or embodies this in the world. The spatial presence comes first, the visuals are just a consequence of that.

“The mind, said Rodin, only with difficulty familiarizes itself with the notion of depths, it always tends to play over surfaces.”

“Henceforth, when you carve, never see the form in length, but always in thickness. Never consider a surface except as the extremity of a volume, as the point, more or less large, which it directs toward you. In that way you will acquire the ­science of modelling.” – some guy advising Rodin

Read would say that this did that well

“Michelangelo, whose work had this compactness, said that only those works were good that could be rolled from the top to the bottom of the mountain without breaking.”

Now Dwarves.

Dwarves embody mass. They occupy space. You could roll them downhill and nothing would snap off. If they are interesting to look at it is probably a secondary effect of the way they occupy the space they are in.

(Now we have a problem here in that we can only look at these pictures. We have only the visual sense in this case. So we are trying to reach behind or through one sense to reach another. The way I think of this;- I imagine feeling it in my body, beginning with my hands I pretend the sculpture is life size, I press my palms against it, I move my body forward until I can feel my weight move against it's. I imagine trying to rock it gently back and forth, moving around it and pushing it from every side. If I can feel the sculpture, then I would say it has this quality. 

It's possible that I am being a little mad. But maybe not.)

“It is very difficult to convey the nature of the sensations by descriptive words or even by photographic illustrations. Ideally each reader of this volume should be provided, at this stage, with a piece of sculpture to hug, cuddle, fondle – primitive verbs that indicate a desire to treat an object with plastic sensibility.”

“I know that we can get on quite well with a life  of visual sensations, with perhaps an merely subcutaneous or subconscious life of tactile sensations. Still, that is not the point.”


Goblins, on the other hand, are Haptic. They are shaped by touch. They are a primitive sense feeding straight back into itself without interacting much with sight.

This is the haptic homunculus. You may be familiar with it.

The human body with the sizes and proportions relative to the density of nerve endings. he body as you touch it and as it is touched. Absent of sight. Congenitally blind children often sculpt the body with these proportions.

And here is a goblin.

Goblins are haptic homonlculi. I think that's why I enjoyed painting them so much.

We cannot actually stroke or cuddle out mini's much. Our main points of contact with their surfaces is firstly when we assemble them, but mainly when we paint them. We feel then virtually through the tip of a very soft, and carefully observed paintbrush. Though we do not have perfect tactile feedback on the brush tip, we observe the paint being applied and the exact nature of the touch affects that very clearly. I always loved painting goblins (and Orcs somewhat) more than anything else. The hugeness and crudeness of their features was a delight, quite a different feeling to a normally proportioned model.)

It is possible that a combination of the limited means of lead casting and the, kind of, artistic 'moment' of the times meant that early citadel miniatures were better sculptures in this way. Less perfect as pictured things, and maybe not as skilled. But they occupied space and held mass in a different way and in that sense, were more pure sculptures because they did that thing that only sculpture can do.

And they were made of lead, which weighs differently in the hand. And people might say why does it matter if the shape is better and I would reply why wouldn't it. It is a tactile form. it is a haptic form. The weight is part of what it is. It's not just what the material can do it is also what the material is.

Touch is the most shat-upon sense. Along with smell. How do we tell if someone is low status or mentally ill? If they smell, if they try to smell other people. If they touch things. Children touch things. All the time. Grabbing twisting biting licking. But when you hit twelve you are expected to have all the haptic information you will ever need. Better remember it.

You might say that any mini in your hand is better than any mini on the screen because it is in your hand.