Wednesday 29 October 2014

Spheres and the Sea

Editors note: I will remind anyone who was or wasn’t in the game that this is based, firstly on what I can remember and secondly, it’s from Joes point of view and he’s what Nabokov or Gene Wolfe might call an unreliable narrator.

Now the sea is the natural enemy of all living things, that’s just simple truth. But this story ain’t about that. This story's about love.

Yep, old Fiddlin' Joe done took a di-rect hit from that fat boy with the wings. Love. It can happen in an instant I tell you. One minute you're strokin' somebodies eggs, the next they're forcing your eye back into your head and well, after that, it’s just music, sweet sweet music.

This tale begins, as many of mine do, with me addressing myself in my own head. (You'll know by now its mah habit to do this.) 

"Fiddlin' Joe" says I, cept in this case it was more like "FIDDLIN' JOE. KILL. KILL. KILL THESE MOTHERFUCKERS." On account I was homi-cidaly insane at the time.

Well I've had numerous madnesses in all kinds ah situations but this one was raw eggwhite so far as inconvenience goes. You're probably wonderin' 'Joe, how in the hell did you go crazy again? Didn't you just finish up with one of your melancholic tides?'

I can't deny, it was that old religion that got me. I was expedition bound into the Mind o' Vorn. That god whose eye ah rode and who, ahm pretty sure, saved me from the brink of certain and overwhelming destruction after I briefly became the Pirate Queen.

Well this story aint about that either. Suffice to say old Joe found himself about as beat up as its possible to be, he was drowned and smashed and full of arrows and GODDAMMN SEAWATER (how the hell I didn't realise that the sea was against us all I'll never know, this was before ah became enlightened in that regard) and he was fixin to die.

Nack was cryin' of course. That boy must have been scared as hell thinkin' about life without Old Fiddlin' Joe. I swear he wouldn't last a day without me. Anyway, there I was bleedin ichor and salt and the light was pretty much gone and then something incredible happened. I heard a mighty noise, like gigantic stones fallin and rollin, or like a big old temple tumbling down, and then ah heard a mighty laughter, some terrifying eldritch sound like an awful impossible thing from outside every world I understand. And this laughter was long and low like the sound of the stones and it seemed to go on and on, like whoever the hell it was had seen one hell of a joke ah tell you. Then the laughter dies away and what happens?

A VORN-DAMMIT MIRACLE that’s what! Ah was raised from the dead! And I'll see you one better, ah'm invulnerable to boot! Well that aint quite fair, you can bash old Joe about same as you ever could, it’s just ah get up faster and better than before. Mah capacity for self-renewal seems quite unbound.

Well what would you think if a thing like that happened to you? There was only one thing could be behind it: VORN. That sombre old coot took quite a likin' to me ah reckon, must a' been his grim laughter came chasin' me outta the dark and back to life. "Joe" ah reckon he said "Joe you get back up there and git back to work! I aint done with you yet boy!"

So by various strange travails that how I came to be back up in Vorns skull. Ah knew there was witches in there and aint no-one no-how gets any comfort when they's full of Witches. Witches is itchey and it’s their nature to be so, as is well known, so I set out to remove em'.

Well we took a detour from Vorns main skull area, at my advice I’m afraid, and ended up god-knows where in another of those moth-er-fuck-ing undergound siege situations that you and I know and hate so well. Just grindin' through corridors and back, surrounded by these fancy-boy high-talkin' city folk. It was about that time ah got de-oculated, for what ahm sure is not the first time, and cursed to boot with a homicidal madness urgin' me to kill just about whomever ah could reach.

Kinda lucky for everyone Old joe's never been able to hit shit all so by the time it wore off turned out ah hadn’t killed anyone ah liked at least. Still had one blind eye runnin about on mah body like an insect pal, but I didn't mind it much, sweet little fellah really.

Bout time ah came to mah senses I was in the midst of being accosted by curiously impersonal thieves. Didn't think much of em' and didn't make much of em'. Fifty seconds later they was dead and Joe had a brand new garrotte. Just then ah heard a familiar sound, that old boy Nack callin' for help.

Well most everyone was dead when ah arrived on the scene, which makes somthin' of a change for me to tell the truth. That fellah Nack was in combat with some kind of obese spawn about as big as a peddlars house. He was flingin' jars of holy water at it, runnin back and forth and shootin and hell, you know how he likes to go about things, at high speed mostly. I jumps up on the roof just like the bug I am and gets ready to dash behind this thing to rescue who it crushed.

Well Nack fucks that one up, he kills this thing too damn quickly and it starts runnin' away. That means in its sad and desperate retreat its fixin to run right back over those boys it already put down! Well now Nack just had to kill that thing even faster before it got there and crushed em'.

Ah certainly would have helped but like ah said, ah have never been able to hit shit at all. Why ah've jumped from the ceiling directly above an unarmoured man whilst wielding a magic spear and that fellah didn't even know ah was there and ah still didn't hit shit. Ah stabbed a daemon the size of a shed in the back and ah still didn't hit shit. Violence is not amongst mah primary talents. Or secondary really.

Well Nack kills that thing just in time, but its still filling the corridor there and I have to squeeeezzze past like a chigger in a boothole just to traverse this grotesque arrangement. Found our two guys there, an Elf looked like some kind of Forest enthusiast and another fellah named Joe. Ah was busy stuffing these unconscious guys back in between the monster and the wall like a card in a doorlock when who should appear but more of those goddammn ratboys, urban types y'know?

Now this is some kinda challengin' arrangement of circumstances. Behind me is this passage just about as full of monster as anythin' can be, in front is some kinda bottomless tube about ten feet across and on the other side of that is an advancing foe.

Ah was out numbered and trapped but by Vorn that’s just the way old Joe likes it so "Joe" says I "old Fiddlin' Joe, you just grab this old monster and pretend like it’s still alive and in the midst of gobblin you up, that at least might buy you some time."

Hearin' good advice for the first time in a long time, that just what ah did. But I'll be dammed if I didn't feel some strange vibration from within, as if the beast really still was alive!

It musta lended credence to my pathetic cried for aid, those Rodentia bought it hook, line and sinker and settled down to watch old Joe get eaten alive. Seein as this might be mah final performance ah determined to give it mah all, not too hard as the vibrations from inside this alien thing were growing more and more perspicuous. You won't be lying if you say I was unnerved to say the least.

Now ah don't have fingernails, being nowhere of the mammalian kind, but if ah did ah tell you they would be broke and full of splinters from the bottom of old Joes idea barrel just about now. This thing keeps shakin and squirming and shuddering and here I am fakin' being eaten by it not knownin' what the hell is about to happen.

Well the thing gave birth all right. To an Elf!

It was only that dammn fool Malice Afor-Thort, he had arrived at the other end of the obstruction and got busy carvin himself some kind of tunnel of flesh within the beast. Up he popped with his head on wrong (he was disadvantaged in that way at the time: combat damage) and no sooner has he arrived than he springs straight into violent action and whup whup go his arrows across that pit. And Nack too! Whup whup and two more arrows fly.

No-one coulda been more surprised than I was by a dead monster shitting elves and arrows but ah see those boys haven't killed shit at all so "Joe, old Fiddlin' Joe", thinks I "why don't you just lend these boys some aid of the platonic kind, the shapes that is. You know, solids" and ah grabs my old bag of trusty marbles and flings it after them.

Well those rat boys must a been on some kinda uneven footing cause I head one of em slip and skitter and go right down that tube. The rest ran, defeated by spheres, and that’s not the first time ah've seen that happen. Spheres of every kind is dangerous and you should always have some about you at all times and pay attention to any you find, ah reckon ah've killen men with spheres four or five times overall.

Now Malice sees the rear of them and, well, seeing a fellahs be-hind always imbued that Elf with some rare spirit of martial nooooooobility. Ah'v never seem him so brave as when hiding behind someone, and doubly so if they be runnin from him. He wastes no time at all, he’s right off after those rats, backwards, on account of his head bein' on wrong.

Now rats can count as well as you or I and pretty soon they realised they was five or so folks bein chased by just one, and that one odd indeed and arguably fleein somehow from them as he advanced, you see his back was to them and his fore aft, on account of the head. Well they work this out and chase him right back. Handy thing about havin your head on backwards is you can run away from someone at full tilt and still blind fire upon them. Didn't do much good but one hell of a thing to see. Ah wont forget that in a hurry.

This is what you'd call a tactical cat-as-tro-feee. Half of our boys was still down, the path to rearwards was pretty much monster n' mazes and we was outnumbered to the fore, and badly wounded too. Well not me, like I said ah bounce right back so ah was feelin' chipper as always, but others aint so blessed.

Well we take that shaft. Now I don't want to hear no VORN-DAMMNED SNIGGERIN' about the number of times ah got to say the word 'shaft' when I relate these events. Whether its climbing the shaft, riggin the shaft, greasing the shaft or toppin' the shaft, thats what is was ah tell you, a cee-lindrical smooth-bore vertical tube about ten feet wide. A shaft. And there aint nothin' funny about that.

We tie everyone we can up just like old spiders would and we get busy climbing that thing. That crow fellah ah met earlier when ah trapped him in a bag, then hired ta stab things for me, what was his name? Corvus? Sorvex? Somethin' like that, well he turned up outta nowhere and lended a hand. We start draggin' those wounded colleagues up the shaft. Ah take some time ta grease that shaft up good behind us to prevent those rats comin' after us.

(It still aint funny, y'hear?)

Now its about this time that ah went regrettably and momentarily insane again. There was some kind of vorn-dammed brain moth up in that shaft and it hodooed me good. I made quite the spectacle leapin' from the wall and attempting to hurl mahself to mah doom. It's regrettable that Nack wus in one of his moods, that monk had dammn well utterly-re-fused to tie hisself to anyone else at all. Just picked up a bleeding priest in one hand and strong armed his way up into the dark. So when-and-as ah fell it was up to the rope to catch me, which it did, and that Crow I mentioned grabbed me and prevented me from further execution of mah doom. (What was his name? Vorcus? Rorvus? You did good boy whoever the hell you were!)

Nack didnt waste much time punchin' that moth to pieces and soon I regained my equanimity and we proceeded on.

We reached the top of this shaft and it bent over somewhat, allowin' us to walk. Its about this time ah found the first sign of mah Love. We came upon some spheres y' see. (They truly are a shape o' portent and meaning). Now these particular spheres were some of the most bea-uutiful and re-markable objects that ah ever saw. They was white as milk, but shined like pearls, strange storms of liquid whiteness moved within and its clear they were alive somehow. Now you've heard mah advice above and ah just had to have one, ah picked up the first one that ah saw and stowed it neatly away, there was a keen pleasure in me for posessin' such a thing. But there weren't only one of these, they was scattered all about and draped in the most strange and seductive veil o' liquid green. It was some kind of strange wonderland ah tell you.

We continued onwards, ascending ever up. Now, it's the nature of this cube-like world that it kinda shrinks within itself, the deeper that you go, the less space there is for things to just be. So, if you should proceed directly down for a long long while, like we had, then move only a little in some direction, as we did, then proceed directly up as we were doing now, you can never be quite sure where you'll end up. You might come back close to where you started, you might not. This was on mah mind as we pushed through networks of secreted doors, climbin' ever on.

(There is nothin' ah like so much in life as openin' a secret door from the wrong side why it just tells everythin' about an individuals character that they already discover'd the secret in fact and are simply exfiltrating through another’s maze. Every time it happens ah consider it a small victory.)

Daylight! And not before time! We came up into some kind of building with windows that let in the light. There was more of those strange spheres around, some even more remarkable, with patterns of black movin' in the white storms. Not knowin' which of numerous doors to take we continued on up, well it had worked pretty good so far, and I'm glad we did because it was there that ah met her.

'Who's that old Fiddlin Joe?' ah hear you ask. Well just about the most the most beautiful, most wonderful, most deee-lectibel, whitest, plumpest egg-layin girl you ever did meet. And smart too! Not only was this a woman of staggern' attractive capacity but in addition she had made herrself master of those mystic arts and expert in the occlusions of the sky. She was the whole package ah tell you. This girl had it goin on.

Of course she was surprised to see Old Fiddlin' Joe emergin' from a trap door in her observatory. There was a moment of awkwardness ah'll admit. It aint always like the movies you know? But ah pulled mah self together and thought to mahself "Joe, Old Fiddlin' Joe, you dammn well don’t let this opportunity for love slip through yer finger hear? You know you've got that song o passion somewhere deep within' it just never came out till now',  its just the time wasn't right, but by Vorn you let this girl go you will never forgive yourself!"

Well that’s just what ah did. Ah turned on the old charm somethin' wicked, ah can't remember exactly what ah said, that’s often how it goes when you've in love, the minutes just seem to drift away, but ah did detect some kinda softnin' in her responses. You can never be too sure with the ladies, women is curious creatures, bein' huge and swollen with eggs most of the time, and this girl guarded her emotions. She played it cool, well so did I. We bantered somewhat. But ah saw by looks and sign that mah attentions were havin' some effect. For one mah ambulatory eye scampered up her pearly white flesh, she pretended not to notice, but ah was emboldened to say the least.

Ah coudn't belive it at first. "Joe" ah thought "Joe could this girl really be into you?" Ah wanted to believe it, but first there was the matter of havin broken into her house from below and stolen her egg.

Yep, they was her eggs we found, one of which ah took. All comin' together now aint it?

Well I tried not to mention it, played it off. In addition ah had Nack and Malice and Corvex? Vercox? and that fresh priest fellah there crampin mah style somethin' awful, ah wanted nothin' more for them to leave us both alone but ah had excuses to make and lies to tell. Turned out she wanted some Woodcuttin' fella a continent away brought to justice. Well I would have been happy to help her out but the others seemed ambivalent. She woulda turned back Malices head too, but no dice with that fellah' he never did like anyone holdin' an advantage over him whether his head was on right or not.

She did tell me her name though (ah charmed it outta her), Izildris.

It was about now our strength of purpose set into what seemed like irrevocable decay. Just about no-one at all could decide on what to do at all the only unifyin' factors were booze and sleep so we bid farewell to Izildris (ah promised mahself ah would come back soon) and went to get drunk.

(We were in some kinda messed-up northern city it seems, one ruined by war. Osc-something ah think. Ta give you some impression of the town, I if old Joe had took up his loose change purse and hurled it into the street, well that would been the new central bank of this place, and if a some kinda bug had scampered up on top of that purse ah’ve no doubt it woulda been elected Mayor.

It was poor is what ahm sayin’)

Now ah don't remember exactly what happened when ah started drinkin. Ah do recall one very interesting gentlemen who possessed a deep theory on the nature of the world and its complexities, which he related to me. Now he claimed that the reason that the world was the way it was, was simply time, if ah recall correctly it was simply that too much time had happened overall and that there being nowhere for all the time to go, it just build up and kind of accreted in the relatively small area of the world. And that’s why the world was just full of stuff and things and riven with tunnels and strange connections. Ah'm not sure of the conclusion to his argument as a soon went to sleep holdin  Izildris's egg but no doubt it was a good one.

Yep ah still had that egg. Ah know it was wrong to have it but there didn't seem to be any space in that conversation we had to work in that ah had it. She would have been upset no doubt.

Ah woke up some time in the early evening and realised what ah'd done. Ah decided there and then that ah would re-turn that egg to the woman ah loved. It was the right thing to do dammit! Ah was just gonna break into her house and secrete it away without wakin' her up but, as chance would have it mah erstwhile colleagues were set on goin the same way. They knew Izildris had the power of giving fortunes, being as acquainted with the celestial sphere as she was, and were determined to attain one for themselves.

Well ah was pissed off to tell the truth as ah was convinced they were gonna cramp mah style once again, but it gave me the excuse ah needed to turn up at her doorstep, fiddle in hand.

While those fools where negotiating in customary fashion (i.e. like retarded dogs with a stolen bone) ah took the opportunity to return that egg. Ah felt a hell of a lot better about it to tell the truth. By the time ah came back they had concluded their discussion.

Now Izildris goes down the line, deliverin’ the future. She saves me to last. She leans in close to me and says "You will narrowly escape death by water."

Well ah knew it! It was the GODDAMMN SEA. That thing had always been out to get me and now ah knew we saw eye-to-eye on that as well! Ah knew mah chance would soon be gone so ah turns to here and says "Do you like music?"

She admits she might.

You know it was already too late for this girl. Ah admit I am some kinda roguish devil at the best of times but you put a fiddle in mah hands and dammit ah become a god-dammed demegorgon of seduction. She had no chance ah tell you. Pretty soon  mah sweet flat-picken fiddle is playin over the scene, well she was quite put out ah tell you. Ah turns to mah boys and says "Now you boys get the HELL outta here you hear? This is between the lady and mahself."

They got the hint alright and got straight outta that place.

A gentlemen never discloses the secrets of his love but ah tell you that tower became such a scene of sexual intensity it would dammn near burn yer eyes out. We coulda melted through the floor. Ah say you that action was hot!

Came abouts time ah had to leave. Ah promised to return some day but adventure called me, you know how it is. Turns out we had finally decided on a course of deed, that is: to GET BACK that other Eye of Vorn, out in the desert somewhere. Well you know ah always like a full set of anything and if its fer Vorn there ain't nothin' ah wont do. It does trouble me though. Firstly to get there we were gonna have to take the GOD DAMMED SEA, and second that thing is a sphere and like ah said, you never quite know with those.

Ahm pretty sure there was some other stuff, like we found a dead dragon and wrassled up a mountain full of avalanche-giants, but that’s just passing trade on the dammn Cube-World, you can't take a goddammn step without kickin' up some mystery or another. You just gotta block that stuff out.

 It weren't hard, all through that stuff ah was just thinkin' "Izildris, Izildris, Izildris."

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Velvet Horizons: now TOO SEXY?


Strangels come from somewhere far above the surface of the world and touch the earth only in remote but wonderful zones far from the eye of man. They stay for a single moonlit night, eating the night-blooming rose, and licking its petalled dew. Then, before dawn, they are gone

Plump insectile-centaurs, about three feet high, with the heads and faces of children or small, beautiful androgynous girls. They have two dexterous humanoid arms and a beetle-like rear running parallel to the ground. Hairless, yet when content they are crowned by a halo of wild silver fire. This fire is the fire of their beautiful thoughts. The skin of the Strangel is snow and maggot-white, tactile and attractive. No-one sees this skin without imagining its touch, like fine silk pillows or fresh ice cream it cries out to be tasted and caressed, stroked and felt.

The Strangels do not like this.

They walk on moonlight and this is how the Strangels reach the ground from their celestial home, by riding the light of the moon. But they are not without  assurances of their own. (Who would fully trust the Moon?)

To focus the light of their rapturous thoughts and cut open the throats of their foes, the Strangels wear curves of pearly white bone, like crescent moons, through which they poke their heads. The beautiful silver dreams of the Strangels burn like white phosphorous, they can melt through bone in the time it takes to scream. The Strangels collar-moon lets it project these thoughts and bring them to a point, like the tip of a burning torch held by spectral hands before the face. Since the silver thoughts are like the light of the moon, Strangels can hold them like a rippling river of light beneath their feet, and race into the sky, even when the moon is gone. Finally, its edges are exceedingly sharp and can be used as a weapon in emergencies or states of guile.

If Strangels are forced to defend themselves they will often do so with their eyes closed, and by using annihilating conjunctions of silver fire that removes all evidence of its own use. As a last resort a Strangel may offer itself to its captors for a single kiss. Few can resist the aching softness of its lips. Should they lean in, it will twist its neck to cut their throat with its collar-moon, then, with its eyes closed, run away and scamper through the air on a path of its own silver light, thinking beautiful thoughts.

Strangels can only incandesce their own ideas if they are very beautiful, noble and good. So deep and sensitive are they, that this is usually not too hard, but, it does mean that should the moon be absent from the sky, they can only migrate home by a continuous and deep dwelling upon the most beautiful thoughts.

As well as this, they must have their crescent blade of bone to focus thoughts into a silver path on which to walk the air. If this blade is stolen, broken, lost or taken away, or if they can no longer dream of beautiful things, the Strangel may be trapped on earth. At least until the next bright moon.

This is part of why they only come at night, so they cannot see too much of the horror f of the world. Their silver light bathes everything in softness, and the dark around the Strangels glows like the darkness in a pleasant dream.

If a Strangel does become trapped, this can be very bad. All are deeply attracted and drawn to adore the pleasing whiteness of the Strangels, and powerful and avaricious souls hunger to control and possess the Strangel flesh. They are worth staggering amounts as pets, or slaves. Many wealthy people keep a caged or collared Strangel, too depressed and ruined by the world to fire its thoughts, they stroke and obscenely caress, collar it in gold and give to it a name that’s not its own. A dangerous pet indeed. For though a Strangel can be kept prisoner by despair, beauty can release its sliver fire.

Strangels are rumoured to both prey and to be preyed on by Star-Grools in the upper world between the stars and us.

Monday 20 October 2014

He comes with a flower of burning mist

Out of the blue-grey dusk
He comes -
The ghostly one,
The grey one,
Driving his ghostly wagon.
Nearer he comes, and nearer,
Except for his singing flower
That burns a violet hole in the air,
That melts a violet hole in the snowy dusk.

He comes with a flower of burning mist
On the tip of a copper stalk;
He comes with a misty flower that sings
And burns a violet hole
In the blue-grey dusk.

He touches dark stems in a row,
He tips them with his hot mist-flower,
Stem after stem;
And one by one
They bloom and glow,
And have white flowers on them,
And burn pale blue holes, green ghastly holes,

In the silent air,
In the blue-grey snowy dusk

by Richard Hunt

Sunday 19 October 2014

The plot holes to The Maze Runner are themelves a Maze

At first you think the film is just bad, but then, the more you think about it, the network of failed logic expands inside you, like a maze, a maze inside your mind.  It is a web of anti-knowledge driven by your own thought.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Paladins Of The Fall, Their City In Winter

1. The ghosts of bells ringing in the dark.

2. Gloom on the snow, winter shadows.

3. The sound of a leaf falling, but there are no leaves.

4. An ash leaf frozen in ice, one span extended upwards like a sail , gently skeletonised to black in the still air, the frozen remainder gold.

5. A dark reflection in the ice.

6. Your breath forms mazes in the air, you are not meant to be here.

7. The music of falling icicles tracks your steps.

8. The earth black and without scent.

9. Air pressing cold fingers against your face, still clean and old, holding the scents it carried when it died.

10. The walls dark but clean as bone.

11. Flurries of old un-melted snow laid out in waves upon the floor.

12. Snow-carpeted rooms far under the earth where no snow should ever fall.

13. So silent that the unexpected hitches in your breath seem like footfalls in another room.

14. The insect shells arranged in circles round a silent bell.

15. A spider climbing tiny chains of ice.

16. The reflection of your lantern in the hanging ice dies slowly, persisting after you leave the room, reluctant to go. Your path is tracked by that repeated gleam echoing pale lamplight in the places you have been.

17. Life here breeds frost with its touch and its tears.

18. The horns of the empty paladins are hung with bronze, bells shaped like branches and falling leaves. They are still in the frost-pregnant air. Then after you have long passed on you hear the ringing of their movement as they stand and march.

19. The curved soil of the walls has the texture and darkness of teak.

20. A woman, dead, whose tears are frozen on her face in mazes running down her cheeks.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Velvet Horizons Encounters

1. In a place near a bend of the river of Or, each night when the sun sets, the mothers walk out of the houses and into the river and drown. They say a song is heard those nights.

2. Swamp Drunks of the Melanic moors are spouting off wild rumours of a mirror world upside down beneath the swamp where light is dark and dark is light and an army gathers invisiblly with brittle green blades.

3. A man discusses dinners with a Bug.

4. An ash-blind hobo stumbles out of the dark and offers you a dungeon map inside a Lizards tail, he says you have to eat it now as yellow ones are on their way.

5. A rogue begs for aid, as reward he offers to tatoo you with the tonge of an invisible beast he keeps in what looks like an epty cage, "very useful" he says.

6. A Mazarine Mage treks across the Haematic Sands, gaing into the night sky, following a constellation he is certain moves against the rest.

7. Monks of St Cephalos run towards you screaming "Duck!"

8. The folk of Burnet villiage say they met an ancient naked king when a beast saw a lightning bolt and vomited him up.

9. You hear a deep voice talking to owls somewhere in the desert scrub.

10. A man with feathered arms offers you an object that you need inside a dream.

11. A stone head billowing flame demands your name, and that of your house.

12. A scholar of Badious hill is offering extraordinary sums for fresh electrical eels.

13. The folk of Argent Town have suffered grevious wounds, the place is wrecked but they all deny anything is wrong at all, a nacreous cloud flees.

14. A cow ridden by red bugs and wearing pirate flags approaches, they threaten to board you.

15. The (2nd) Chancellor of Jukai has raised a famous bounty on the retrieval of a tiny spider 'with a piping voice', stolen by some pigeons in the night. The price is doubled if the birds are killed.

16. The (1st) Chancellor of Jukai is offering a kings ransom for the pelt of an Imperator Ape . The Ritual Cloak of the city government is several hundred years old and needs replacing. Everyone you speak to says the offer is too low.

17. A hero stalks towards you bearing a strange black spear, they carry a lit lamp and peer about as if it were dark. They say they have serious business with a monster that will be born from the earth at a particular time, but they are late and it is far.

18. A woman weeps by the body of a hanging man, she says a deamon bit him and took his manhood.

19. A trader rumbles past with a cartfull of young girls, he says the girls are sick and he is taking them to be cured, but he will say no more. All of their hair is dark.

20. You reach into your pocket and find a rank bestail hand, it closes around yours.

21. A minstrel sang to you about "a pale salamandrine thing", since then you have dreamt of it every night, and your dreams are cold.

22. A cloud of women fall out of the cool night sky and offer to serve.

23. Someone went climbing where the lights shine through the high falls at night, they were gone for a long time and when they came back it wasnt them.

24. A team of rival adventurers, hunting each other to death, they tell you that a song has changed their fate and only one can be fulfilled.

Thursday 9 October 2014

I hope you like eels.

"Gamaliel Ratsey, a highwayman condemmed to hang at Bedford, is at the very moment of death with a rope around his neck when he indicateds that he has something important to say to the sherrif. In front of the crowd he is let down from the gallows and allowed to speak to the official, who pataiently waits while Gamaliel says his piece, which is lengthy. It begins to rain, in fact, it starts to pour. After a few minutes Gamaliel admits he has nothing to say: he just noticed a storm cloud coming and wanted to see the sherrif and the crowd get thoroughly drenched.

Wit on the gallows is noted in several other cases. As George brooke listens to his executioner and the sheriff argue over who should have his damask gown, he asks them when he should lay his head on the block, adding that he does not know becasue he has never been beheaded before."

All this is from this book:

"A brighter red, used to dye the broadcloth called scarlet, comes from kermes: a parasitic insect that lives on evergreen oaks in the Mediterranian and which, when pregnant, is killed with vinegar, dried in the sun and opened to extract its wormlike larvae. When rolled into little balls called 'grains' and soaked in water, these produce a bright-red dye called 'grain' - hence the words 'ingrained' and, in connection with the worms, 'vermillion'."


The following migh be useful if anyone wants to run a feast. He's handily put it in random-table format already.

"Sir Francis Willoughby strictly observes Fridays and Saturdays as non-meat days; therefor if you happen to visit on one of these, expect four or five of the following dishes to appear, one after another in the following order, along with a dish of butter. Remember not to eat too much: this is just the first course.

1. A sallat (salad) with boiled eggs.
2. A pottage of sand eels and lampreys.
3. Red (smoked) herring covered with sugar.
4. white (pickled) herring, ling or whiting in mustard sauce.
5. Minced salt salmon in a sauce of mustard, vinegar and sugar.
6. Pickled conger eel, shad or mackerel.
7. Plaice or thornback ray with vinegar, or wine and salt, or mustard.
8. Cod, bass, mullet or perch.
9. Eels, trout or roach upon sops (bread soaked in the liquor in which the fish was cooked)
10. Pike in pike sauce.
11. Tench in jelly.
12. A custard tart.

There will be an interlude before the second course. When the carvers reappear, bearing their silver platters, expect another four or five dishes selected from th following list, served in this order:

1. Flouders in pike sauce.
2. Salmon, conger eel, brill, turbot or halibut in a vinegar sauce.
3. Bream or carp upon sops.
4. Fried sole.
5. Roast lampreys or porpoise in galantine sauce.
6. Sturgeon, crayfish, crab or shrimps in a vinegar sauce.
7. Baked lamprey.
8. Cheese tart.
9. Figs, apples, raisins and pears.
10. Blanced almonds.

Most people would rather call on Sir Francis on a meat day, especially on a Sunday, which in most great houses, is a day for luxuriating in the food available. This is the likely palette of first courses served on a Sunday, from which four or five will be prepared for you (Turn up after 1 November if you want to eat the swan.)

1. Brawn in mustard.
2. Capons stewed in white broth.
3. A leg of venison in beef broth.
4. A chine of beef and a breast of mutton boiled.
5. Mutton pies.
6. Three green (geese) in a dish of sorrel sauce.
7. A stubble goose (a goose left to feed itself on stubble in the fields) with mustard and vinegar.
8. A swan in sauce chauldron
9. A pig roast.
10. A double rib of roast beef, with pepper and vinegar sauce.
11. A lion or breast of veal with orange sauce.
12. Half a lamb or kid.
13. Two capons roasted, either in wine or salt sauce or a sauce of ale and salt (but not the latter if it be served wit thhe sops)
14. Two pasties of fallow deer in a dish.
15. A custard tart.

And for the second course, expect four or five dishes from the following list.

1. Jelly.
2. Peacock in wine and salt.
3. two coneys or half a dozen rabbits in a mustard and sugar sauce.
4. Six chickens upon sorrel sops.
5. Six pigeons.
6. Mallard, teal, gulls, stork or heronsew (young heron) in a mustard and vinegar sauce.
7. Crane, curlew, bittern or bustard in a galantine sauce.
8. Pheasant, or six rails (corn crakes), cooked in salt water with sliced onions.
9. Six woodcocks cooked in mustard or sugar.
10. Six partridges.
11. A dozen quail.
12. A dish of larks.
13. A pasty of red deer.
14. Tart, gingerbread fritters.

... Elizabeth decides to call on Lord North at Kirtling; she stays from suppertime on sunday 1 September to after dinner on Tuesday 3rd, and this is the food that Lord North has to provide for the two day visit.

Bread: 1,200 manchet loaves, 3,600 loaevs of cheat bread and 276 extra loaves.

Meat: 11 and half cows, 17 and a half veal calves, 67 sheep, 7 lambs, 16 bucks made into 128 pasties and 8 gammons of bacon.

Birds: 32 geese, 363 capons, 6 turkeys, 32 swans, 273 ducks, 1 crane, 38 heronsews, 110 bitterns, 12 shovellers, 1,194 chickens, 2,604 pigeons, 106 pewits, 68 godwits, 18 gulls, 99 dotterels, 8 snipe, 29 knots, 28 plovers, 5 stints, 18 redshanks, 2 yerwhelps, 22 partridges, 1 pheasant, 344 quail and 2 curlews.

Fish: 3 kegs of sturgeon, 96 crayfish, 8 turbot, a cartload and 2 horse loads of oysters, 1 barrel of anchovies, 2 pike, 2 carp, 4 tench, 12 perch and 300 red (smoked) herring.

Other: 2,201 cow's tongues, feet and udders, 18lbs lard, 430lbs butter, 2,522 eggs, 6 Dutch cheeses, 10 marchpanes (marzipans) £16 4s-worth of sugar and 329 1s-worth of salad, roots and herbs.

The whole visit, during which he entertains more than 2,000 people, costs him 3642 4s 2d (not including a present of a jewel worth £120 for the queen). For these two days his house becomes a town about the same size as Stratford.
abeth decides to call on Lord North at Kirtling; she stays from suppertime on sunday 1 September to after dinner on Tuesday 3rd, and this is the food that Lord North has to provide for the two day visit.

Bread: 1,200 manchet loaves, 3,600 loaevs of cheat bread and 276 extra loaves.

Meat: 11 and half cows, 17 and a half veal calves, 67 sheep, 7 lambs, 16 bucks made into 128 pasties and 8 gammons of bacon.

Birds: 32 geese, 363 capons, 6 turkeys, 32 swans, 273 ducks, 1 crane, 38 heronsews, 110 bitterns, 12 shovellers, 1,194 chickens, 2,604 pigeons, 106 pewits, 68 godwits, 18 gulls, 99 dotterels, 8 snipe, 29 knots, 28 plovers, 5 stints, 18 redshanks, 2 yerwhelps, 22 partridges, 1 pheasant, 344 quail and 2 curlews.

Fish: 3 kegs of sturgeon, 96 crayfish, 8 turbot, a cartload and 2 horse loads of oysters, 1 barrel of anchovies, 2 pike, 2 carp, 4 tench, 12 perch and 300 red (smoked) herring.

Other: 2,201 cow's tongues, feet and udders, 18lbs lard, 430lbs butter, 2,522 eggs, 6 Dutch cheeses, 10 marchpanes (marzipans) £16 4s-worth of sugar and 329 1s-worth of salad, roots and herbs.

The whole visit, during which he entertains more than 2,000 people, costs him 3642 4s 2d (not including a present of a jewel worth £120 for the queen). For these two days his house becomes a town about the same size as Stratford."

Friday 3 October 2014


So, treasure in SAVAGES isn't treasure. None of the PC's (except Thieves and Human-Obsessed weirdos) really care about it in the same way Adventurers would. Treasure for Savages is food and days spent alive and maybe status and burning a village of elves or a sword that doesn't break.

But they have treasure, because the work in a dungeon. And their boss has treasure. So why do they care?

I wanted players to start the game with great heaps and piles of gold and then have to fight to keep it. What could be more pleasurable than having a hoard? What more satisfying than simply keeping it? Playing Midas, going into the cave and running your fingers through the piles of silver and jade and looking at all the statues and artifacts and scrolls and mysteries and knowing that all of this is yours. Yours forever.

And I wanted them to generate the hoards they guard as part of their character, like generating dungeons and the landscape around them. The hoards should be good and special in some way. Which lead me to ask, what is the poetry of a hoard?

It is the story that it tells, or hints at. Treasure is just history worth preserving. so the question we should ask of a mighty hoard should be 'how does it pierce through time?'

The weight of the gold pressing against time itself, so when you guard gold you are guarding slow time, preventing it from being employed, preventing entropy and change, preserving the world, time holds itself still around a great treasure.

You should get a heavy rep if you manage to stop anyone taking your treasure. Well, not a reputation, but an anti-reputation. You become the blank spot on the map. The part where it says 'here be monsters' that's you. The Place From Which No Man Returns.

And the more treasure you can accumulate and not spend, the more fully you can slow down the world, so the whole thing becomes about stasis, slowing down, preserving the long slow cycles of the world against the rage for order and organisation.

So another way treasure must be assessed is the danger of losing it, the extent to which it will accelerate human development and expansion. And visa versa, this is why you take treasure off humans. Not to own gold, but to cripple economies and cultures. The more you can steal from humans the more their economy slows down, the more cultural capital you can destroy, the harder it is for them to manage their disparate minds and the more fractured they become, obviously, the more magical items you can take off them, the less they can use against you.

So I jammed together these very awkward experimental tables to help generate hoards from the Monsters perspectives. These would be used in a game of SAVAGES where the PCs occupy the centre of a map and on the edges are numerous human cultures, all gradually pressing in, ejecting thieves and adventurers like spores.

Currently its really more of a sketch idea than a workable system. The tables should interrelate and feed off each other and there should be more options and more 'chunky' options for specific artifacts ways it relates to the overall system.

Ways to define a hoard.

1. How does it pierce through time?
2. How much time does it guard?
3. How will its loss accelerate human development and expansion?
    a. Financially.
    b. Culturally.
    c. Magically (reality altering)

1. How does it pierce through time?

1. Days.
2. Months.
3. Years.                                                            (Someones probably really pissed off that you have this.)
4. Decades.                                                      (Knights might still come after this)
5. Centuries.                                                     (Henry VIII's crown)
6. Origin of Current Culture.                               (Excalibur.)
7. Height of Ancestor Culture.                            (Roman, Greek)
8. Origin of current ethnicity/nation/racial group. (Probably Indo-European/Babylon for us.)
9. Forgotten Ancient Culture.                            (Example might be the briefly-imagined feminist Iron Age before horse-riding-swordsmen-ruined-it)
10. Age of Heroes/Origins of Gods                    (Zeus/Hercules/Typhon origins if-they-were-real)
11. Outer/Other/Aberrant/Should-Not-Exist        (Brainmelting Lovecraft stuff)   
12. Primordial or Elemental Origin                      (ie langauge of Fire, First Ice, Laws of Stone)

2. How much time does it guard?

This is the strangest one, I am not sure yet how this will actually work, or if it can actually work. I will keep chipping away at it.

Maybe nothing new is created around it or nothing is lost around it. Maybe it keeps the consequences of that distant time away and stop them compiling with the present. Or that the more Treasure you keep, the slower your turns go and the more time you have to react to stuff

1. Dreamlike Passing Of Days.
2. The Forests Refuse To Yield.
3. An Age Without Discovery
4. Wars But An Echo.
5. Slows Death To A Crawl.
6. Keeps Back A God.

3. How will its loss accelerate human development and expansion?

A. Financial

1. Live Fast, Die Young. Adventurers get rich, famous, more will come.
2. The Company. New Adventuring company set up. All further Adventurers better resourced, equipped and trained.
3. Thieves Ennobled. Adventurers promoted to nobility/elite. Each now heads small armed force based on speciality. Add new armies to the map.
4. National Rebirth. Base culture can renew all armies and settlements for free for a certain number of years.
5. To Big To Fail. banking system renewed, credit everywhere, all human factions get a boost.
6. A New Empire is Born. Introduce a new human faction with low population but full coffers. Base its culture on the Adventurers that survived.

B. Cultural Boost

(A load of the cultural change from the retrieval of ancient treasures will be broadly invisible to the SAVAGES players, the only way it effects them directly is how it changes the actions of the enemy, not their internal culture. But yeah, if someone brings Excalibur back from a dungeon, that's  a big fucking deal.)

1. Buccaneering Spirit. All base culture forces and settlements gain morale, lose fear of the Other (i.e. you), for limited period.
2. A String of Victories. Base culture inwardly unified, gains belief in manifest destiny of frontier, diverts more resources to settlement.
3. First Among Equals. Rival human factions a bit scared of base culture, will not fuck with it unless attacked.
4. The New Cesar. Rival human factions very scared of base culture, will seek alliance/appeasement.
5. Touch of the Divine. All human populations convinced some serious shit is going down with base culture. Other settlements start spontaneously converting.
6. The Power Of Gods. Base culture now wields unquestioned divine sanction. All other human cultures must test morale. If failed they become vassal states to the base culture, now operate as its limbs.

C. Reality Altering

1. By This Axe! Introduce single supercool magic weapon into setting in enemy hands.
2. The Affairs of Wizards. Base culture now has shitloads of Wizards everywhere.
3. The World Beyond. Base culture now aware of/has access to other realities/plains. Intelligence and mobility improved but resources diminished by the same extent as they gain ambitions in the Other Spheres.
4. Moving Mountains. Base culture can now forgo other actions to move lakes/mountains around on its turn.
5. Time and Space. Can rewind time/move capital/send agents to past.
6. Gone Melinbone Way. base culture effectively neutralises self as expansionist force as brainfractured/decadent/invading mars.

Thursday 2 October 2014

The Isogyre

(It's more fiction.)

Someone smashes in the back of my skull, I see my brains hit the water before I do. Sink into it. Dark for a while. Fish eat my eyes, then nips of skin. Once they’re inside it goes quickly. Six months or so till the last rags of flesh are gone and then I sit up.