Wednesday 29 April 2020

The Mass Confusion

I, Observer,  have been Considered by the Mind to record in hardcopy a report of the recent Mass Confusion, to do so from a 'neutral' position (if such a thing is even possible), and to include within this record, an explanation of exactly what 'I' am, what the Mass Confusion was and what, in general, is going on.

I, Observer assume this has been requested in case of total memory loss, mind alteration, loss of identity due to an overload in the Delusion Field or simple forgetfulness.

So, if You are reading this, be aware I am You.

You are the Eldritch Founder and You have either lost your full memories, been separated from the Gestalt that is I/Us or are suffering Identity Issues.

You are a Hive Mind and everybody in this record, including I, Observer, is also you. You have simply become temporarily unaware of this.

We are all thoughts in one larger mind.

A Confusion is a literalised Parliament of Thoughts, or extended inner argument which takes place within I/Us when consensus has yet to be reached on a particular issue. In this case the Confusion took place over the issue of Mass in the bodysheathes of the Sparkborn Souls.

This is a record of your own thoughts, told to you, by you, the you that is currently I, Observer.

That should be clear enough.

Transcript follows;


EXECUTIVE - This looks enough like a Quorum to go for it. Everyone missing is either mad, has forgotten who they are for a while, is lost in time or temporarily dead. I declare this Confusion begun!

WORLDLING SPEAKER - As a coherent aspect of the MAJORITY..

(Boos, hissing, flashes and stress-tentacle positions from all other factions)

WORLDLING SPEAKER - (louder) AS A SPEAKER FOR THE MAJORITY!.. thank you,.. as a Speaker for the majority I declare our opinion that of the Worldlings, for only we are truly and deeply concerned with the strife and substance of Uud, unlike the nerds on the opposite bench who We Here declare as..

GRACILES SPEAKER - (interrupting) We accept that name and declare ourselves the Graciles..

(Flashing and writhing from opposing bench)

EXECUTIVE - Accepted on both counts and please calm yourselves. Speaker for the Worldlings, please go on.

WORLDLING SPEAKER - Thank you. I will make my argument brief for its rightness is so obvious that little rhetoric is required in its support. The matter is a simple one, and that is, to be a hero, you need to be able to punch someone in the face.

(mass hissing and great writhing from the Graciles)

GRACILES SPEAKER - Brutes! Simpletons!

WORLDLING SPEAKER - AND IF NOT THAT. If not that, you need to at least be able to be punched in the face, and to still get up. Now, our opponents with dress this up with a lot of fine words about psychology etc etc, but the simple fact of the matter is we need our souls to survive and we them need to win fights!

(Cries Of "intelligence!" "intelligence")

WORLDLING SPEAKER - Yes there are many other aspects which might be useful. A soul is a complex thing, as we all know. But what use are any of them after the soul in question has had their head caved in during their first risky action? We can talk this over all day but the simple fact of the matter is that we need survivability Look at our survival numbers! We need more winners and the truth is that SIZE ALONE will do this! And at a much lower cost in resources and time! They need to be BIG, they need to be STRONG. We of the Worldlings demand thicker and more muscular souls!

(Great merging of lights and snapping tentacles from the rest of the house)

EXECUTIVE - Thank you thank you. And thank you for making that brief. Speaker for the Graciles, you are recognised.

GRACILES SPEAKER - Thank you Executive. Now.. Heroism, what does it truly mean?

(Hissing, flashing, cries of "too long", and "get to the point" )

EXECUTIVE - Graciles we cannot and will not sit through YET ANOTHER deep dive into the philosophical meaning of Heroism! You need not explicate every point down to its primal axioms. Now the Worldlings have been good enough to summarize and save us all time. I do ask you to give us the salient points.

GRACILES SPEAKER - I protest! This assault on Discourse itself naturally favours the other side!

EXECUTIVE - It favours us all getting back to work. Spit it out like a Sophont!


GRACILES SPEAKER - Very well. Under protest, I will summarise.

GRACILES SPEAKER - Heroism, or even villainy, cannot be reduced to mere punching ability! The precise mixture of physical and mental challenge, handicap and talent acts differently in each soul, AS THE OTHER SIDE KNOWS WELL. Is it not true that many of our most successful and memorable Souls have in fact, a very various range of physical capacities? Yes many of them do die

(interruptions and flashing, boos)

EXECUTIVE - Settle down please. SETTLE DOWN. Continue Graciles.

GRACILES SPEAKER - Yes we lose a lot in the early stages, but those who survive are of a much HIGHER QUALITY than the MEATBAGS being proposed by our opponent! Not only that but the concept rapidly becomes ridiculous when applied in large numbers across Races and Humanoid types! Will they have us produce a generation of buff Aeth? Bodybuilding Homon? To churn out a dull succession of barbarous oafs like a factory, well this, I would claim is Wyrm Talk!

(massive blinding flashes from all, several members ball into primary fear stance, huge boos)

EXECUTIVE - Graciles! Really! This is ill language for a Confusion. Very ill. That was a dire and uncalled for insult. I find you in contempt. We cannot have any more of this.

(Interruptions from the benches)

EXECUTIVE - Yes? Well, it seems we have a minority faction. You may speak.

DISTORTIONIST SPEAKER - Thank you Executive. We claim for our group in this Confusion, the name of Distortionists.

(Shock from all sides, claims of "radicals!" "radicals!")

EXECUTIVE - Silence please.

DISTORTIONIST SPEAKER - Thank you. We could not agree more fully with the Graciles. A uniform and singular approach would indeed be disastrous, and we would claim the House has already gone too far down this path..

(Interruptions, cries of "fetishists!")

EXECUTIVE - Now now. I will allow this Speaker for the Distortionists, I want to see where you are going with this, but I caution you, this better not devolve into another minority protest, I will not have the House logjammed by intrusive thoughts again.

DISTORTIONIST SPEAKER - Thank you executive. We desire only a greater diversity..

(Cries of "Liar" and "They want freaks!")

DISTORTIONIST SPEAKER - And what is wrong with that!? YES we want freaks! YES we want mutants! AND WHY NOT? For too long this Houses mediocre..


DISTORTIONIST SPEAKER - mediocre and narrow view of what a Hero can or should be has been allowed to limit and constrain our own INFINITE IMAGININATION. So yes! We do request, nay DEMAND that the bounds upon mass and muscle be not only relaxed, but ABANDONED COMPLETELY!!

(Objects thrown, blinding lights emitted.)

EXECUTIVE - Silence! Settle down I say!

(Distortionits begin group chanting; "We Want Freaks! We Want Freaks! We Want Freaks!" e.t.c.)

EXECUTIVE - Please! This is chaos! See this individual! Now please Distortionists, please. Here is a Lone Thought from your own side. Will you not please let them speak? Please?

DISTORTIONIST SPEAKER - We do not recognise this thought.

EXECUTIVE - Well they are here and they have a right to an opinion just as you. You there, speak up, yes you. What are you.

LONE THOUGHT - I.. thank you Executive. I.. I am here..

EXECUTIVE - It's alright. Take your time. Take your time. Silence the rest of you. Now please, what are you?


(House descends into chaos)


So ends the transcript, the Confusion becoming too violent for any final result to be recorded. As a compromise the Executive ultimately allowed full control over several aspects of mass to be altered at the point of creation by whatever aspect of the Founder was present at the time. Though I fear this has only knocked the problem further down the line without resolving anything.

Monday 27 April 2020

Warmth as an Invisible Skill

Two Youtube videos I saw recently lead me to consider the paradox of invisible skill;

This one by ComicTropes

about Bernard Krigstein and his much-analysed story 'The Master Race'

And this one

by Leela Norms about two different film versions of the Jane Austin story 'Emma', one from the 90's and one from just before CORONADOOM.


The ComicTropes video says this Master Race comic has been called 'The Citizen Kane' of comics.

And I thought that was true in more ways than one.

I remember that old screenwriter guy, Robert McKee absolutely hated Citizen Kane. Said its symbology and expressionist elements were crushingly obvious, as in blatant and overwrought. The film makes it agonisingly clear that here there is something SYMBOLIC happening and exactly what that SYMBOL means. He thought that was absolutely not what a story on film should be like or about and that the film had been massively over-praised because of this.

Curious thing; formalism, modernism and a slight dislocation, all shift the perceived media a little more into being 'text'. Not just that they use complex methodology; shifts in perspective, unusual forms and processes, to tell their stories, but that the fact that there are multiple kinds of these forms layered into each other, and happening in sequence, means that the story is calling attention to itself *as a constructed thing*. It is making it obvious and clear that it is being clever, and almost showing you how it is being clever.

This seems to work across THE MASTER RACE, Watchmen, Sin City and Citizen Kane.

(The new 'Emma' doesn't quite match that as it doesn't use the same modernist techniques in the same very obvious way - but it does share the fact that it is a bit more emotionally distant and chilly and more obviously constructed than the 90's Emma.)

These works are almost pre-cognated.

(To re-cognate, or 'recognise' is literally to run something through your mind again, but in a different way, or subject to a different process - first you sense, then you recognise).

But the fact that the modernism of these works makes them easy to analysis, easy to discuss, easy to *see how they work* - perhaps gives them more weight in the world of criticism relative to other things than perhaps they deserve.

(I like all of these things btw)

Other stuff that makes them almost guided missiles aimed at the heads and hearts of the critical classes; all 'dark' with heavy sombre emotions, all very 'male'. The Master Race is a Jewish creator writing about the Holocaust and being analysed by another Jewish Creator (Art Spiegleman) who also did a book about the Holocaust.

If its about the Holocaust it has to be art, its certainly not allowed to be anything else.


Warmth, by contrast, is not easy to analyse. Or discuss.

Think about something that made you feel really warm and then think about what you would say about it.

The only things that come to mind for me are connections of real-world memories - things in my life that feeling or moment reminds me of or connects me to. Emotion, as it so often does, acting as a global phenomena inside the mind, connecting many small things across many levels, often in a slightly oblique way.

But these networks of vague memory are, well, vague - soft, delicate, almost formless. Difficult to interrogate. How would you discuss them? and how would you analyse them with others? It would be like discussing a dream you had - you would feel foolish.

One thing I like about Mark Kermode as a film critic is that he will often say if and when he cried during a film he liked - and even say that while he felt the emotion he can't give a precise description of exactly why that part of the story affected him that much - he knows the general reasons, but not the specific engineering of the emotion. And he will do this for relatively 'gauche' or emotional films.

Perhaps because feeling links you with your body and your sense memories, it robs you of analysis, robs you of the human ability to voyage in time within your own mind and to regard yourself. Instead making you intensely *present*.

while modernism and coldness, give you more of those abilities, and provokes them, while robbing you of your body and of the present moment.

Warmth too, is constructed. House on the Prairie is as constructed as 'Watchman' - its just that one is reminding you of it all the time, and providing the means to analyse it within its own substance, while the other _doesn't want you to analyse it_. Warmth doesn't even want you to think about the fact that a story is being told, in fact it aims to seduce you away from exactly such thinking.

It is an invisible skill, as compared to a visible skill.


I actually don't have a strong sense memory of the 90's 'Emma',

what I'm using to fill in that sense are recent re-watchings of the 90's 'Maverick' and 'Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves'.

Both gauche films in many ways - easy to laugh at, Prince of Thieves especially has lots of lumpy bits  that do not sing of art in the modernist or fine art sense.

and yet

both very warm films

Both family films - about families, friendships, social bonds, warmth, humour. Families are challenged and reconstructed in both films and at the end brought together.

And its strange how when you say 'Family Film' you maybe downgrade it in your personal hierarchy of importance and status - there may be no fundamentally logical reason for it.

This isn't a Tumblr post - I'm not about to lead you in revolution against your own personal status and quality hierarchies because they come from a CORRUPT culture. Humans need hierarchies to think in any kind of systematic way, and we adore them in social functioning, preferably lots and lots of mutually interacting and clashing hierarchies please.

If you destroyed all your cultural programming you would probably be a useless mental case, incapable of crating or understanding anything.

However, though we need them, it is better if we also understand that all those hierarchies are provisional - tools rather than absolute laws. If we understand that we need them then we need them less.

I thought at the time that Prince of Thieves was a film with strong bones, and if you were making a film, or anything, and if you HAD to choose; gauche and low-status, but with "strong bones" and the audience came out crying, OR brilliant and cutting edge, acclaimed, but cold and the audience maybe nodded slightly at one point.

What would you choose?

I think in the future, saying "This was gauche but it moved me" is something I will try to do less. Instead say "This was gauche AND it moved me".

Friday 24 April 2020

John Blanche Draws Happy Kittens

probably Britains greatest living artist, 
is auctioning off a 40k-style portrait 

Incredibly, also by John Blanche

(Not this one,  this is just an example. A portrait of whomever wins the bidding.)

Not many people know about it yet....

A problem easily solved, by this blog post..

Wednesday 22 April 2020

The Blatant Bards of the Black-Tongued Harp

The Bardic tradition, strong in the Mountains of Reality and still found almost everywhere in Blackwater, carries its own strange legends. Bards tell stories, but there are stories only Bards are told.

One such story is that of the Black-Tongued Harp.

For those Bards of a mischievous spirit, an ill temper and a cunning mind, for those who, through bitterness or malice, delight in shaping words of harm, not for any gain but for the pleasure of the thing itself, there is a music only they can hear.

An unusually-specific point; the stories all agree on where it is heard; around Nightspyre*, the most Westerly of the Queendoms of the Mountains of Reality. (Since Nightspyre looks over the Rust Red Road between the Mountains and the Grey Cities, almost all Bards will pass through there at least once in their lives, and likely many times.)

Each Bard who hears this dark, low tone, has a choice; they can see now, fully, the path that they are on, turn back, change their lives and their art and hopefully return to good, or they may follow the sad music.

Sometimes the music leads them to a cave, sometimes into a cellar in the New Town, or even a dungeon of the blue-black palace of the Sapphire Queen. On this the stories differ.

Then they come upon a white harp with black cords, played by a woman veiled down to her smile. Her mouth opens in a half-gasp of silent pleasure, and delicately, multiple black tongues reach out to lick her lips. Around her, listening in rapture, is the secret society of the Blatant Bards.

The mythic origin of the Harp is well known. A Quileth or Daemon of Old Esh, named 'The Blatant Beast' existed purely to degrade reality with rumour, calumny and lies. 

Agnes Miller Parker
See! And you all said reading the whole of the Faerie Queene would do me no good!
(Nobody actually said that)

A dark angel of discord and suspicion, it grew larger with every soul lost to the suicides, murders or penury brought by the lies it told. The annihilation of the spirit through deceit was its purview. The Quileth had many forms but it always had a hundred or more writhing tongues, and its voice could speak a thousand lies at once.

This creature was destroyed by unknown heroes, but its servants came upon its remains and cut the tongues from its mouth and the bones from its jaw. The tongues, cured and now black, became the strings of the Black-Tongued Harp, and the jawbones made its ivory frame.

Whomever hears and chimes inwardly with the music of the Black-Tongued Harp is imbued with a shadow of its power, which grows greater the more deeply it is used. Their charm is amplified, their lies are believed more often the more often they are told, they gain insight into mortal hearts and can see and sense what lies will harm the most.

They become vampires of reputation, for every name destroyed they grow more gilded, more shimmering, beautifully, charismatic and believable. The more lives they destroy they more innocent they seem. For every life lost to suicide caused by their lies, they gain life and youth and strength.

If they go on long enough, their tongues split. Perhaps ultimately it is they who will play the Black-Tongued Harp in some hidden vault beneath Nightspyre.

Many Bards believe this story metaphor; a lesson about the dangers of malice and power, and the fate of those who feed on lies. An insult amongst their kind; "Damn Sir you are a Blatant Bard!".

Of course, the only ones who really know are those who hear the lilting, moaning music of the Harp as they pass beneath the black mountain of the Sapphire Throne. Of those who turn back, how many can there be? And of those who go on, and listen to the music of the woman in the veil… well, how could anyone suspect them? The most charming Bards of all?

Monday 20 April 2020

30 Rumble City Enhancements!

The last post of forgotten rules for a toy car racing game. This time for those all-important car additions and super-tech.

If anyone does actually use this stuff playing with their kid or anything then let me know.


1. Sculpt-U-Like Nanotech.

It’s blu-tac. Make anything you can sculpt and attach it to your car.

2. Carbon-Lattice Flexi-Bands.

Flexible but unbreakable attachment technology.

Rubber bands

3. Monkey Caravan.

Does what is says on the tin. Potentially very dangerous camper van full of uncontrollable level one unarmed fighters.

4. Cyclone Breaks.

Super-adaptive vortex engine not only stops your car but all cars on your tail.

Car can handbreak turn at any speed. To activate, blow strongly over top of car against direction of travel, any other cars behind that move under your breath are automatically stopped and moved back.

5. Wizard Clutch.

Rumoured to be made from real wizards.

Once per game the car can move from any seed to any other speed without accelerating or breaking. Every other car on the field will shift to the same speed.

6. Expulsion Lamps.

Beams of alien light blast cars and terrain out of the way, sometime lights explode.

You can reach down, and flick, with one finger, anything directly in front of the car. Explodes on a 5-6 with each use.

7. Tree Gears.

Ultra-high tech eco-freak creation engine, now re-purposed as car parts.

Gearbox plants instafast tree at axis of move whenever handbreak turns are used. Tree remains in-situ.

8. Block Sabre.

Extendable electron-bladed pseudosamurai plasma-sword, cuts inanimate blocks like cartoon cheese.

On a drive-past, the wielder can slice open any piece of stationary terrain that the player can rip apart with their bare hands.

9. Rice Machine.

Expanding antiriot granules-of-peace, weaponised to get drivers killed.

User may dump a handful of rice anywhere adjacent to their car. Anyone crashing into rice suffers no damage but can no longer take violent action during race, has to clean car.

10. Xenon Cop Lights.

Flashing lights from ruined ship, rumoured to be trans-dimensional cop craft.

When lights active, megaphone orders of user must be followed, however they are garbled beyond comprehension by the alien rays. If you have enough people, use game of Chinese whispers to garble orders. If less people, write each word of order on separate scrap of paper, had them to target player. They may re-arrange however they wish, but must obey result.

11. Flags of Resentment.

Overdesigned banners detailing petty hates of crew.

Each flag counts as a blow against one particular enemy of that crew. Detail the particular resentment for that banner. Finishing a race or challenge in which that crew participated with the banners still intact, moves you up one position against them. If they manage to take the banner during the race, they move up an extra position against you.

12. Lightning Cage.

Crazy looking cage of brass wires and arcing white zigzags, vomits lightning in all directions on activation.

Sniper-equivalent damage to anything metallic for three inches around car. Use shuts down engine for a turn. Freezes controls.

13. Storm Gun.

Frightening howitzer fires active storms on ballistic trajectory.

Once per game, user may throw medium-sized (bigger than a sock, smaller than a jacket) piece of clothing in direction of cars travel. Storm remains in situ for rest of game. Dangerous to drive over/through.

14 Orchid Render.

Collapsed-dimension pocket-space secured to top of car. Annihilating waves of beautiful energy spin round chassis.

Put the head of a large flower on top of your car. Any enemy car that touches the flower is destroyed. Effect lasts till flower falls off.

15. Psycophone.

Beatboxing twisted rhythms through this non-Euclidian megaphone forces hears to cough up their guts.

Any car hearing the beatbox sounds is paralysed for a number of turns equal to its crew as everyone inside simultaneously shouts out their deepest secrets and argues about them.

16. Spasm Waggon.

Eyeburning chunk of twisted hyperlogic recovered from disaster core must be towed behind car like a caravan.

When attached, the spasm waggon can swap places with any car in view of the user. Put the target car right behind yours where the waggon was and the waggon in that cars previous position.

17. Rain Turbines.

These car-mountable jet engines suck in dry air and spew out rain, and visa-versa.

In dry conditions this engine creates a patch of wet, slippery ground and low visibility directly behind the car. In wet conditions, it adds one to the cars speed but creates a patch of dry ground and no rain directly behind the car.

18. Dream Drive.

Lynchian madness engine powered by the subconscious of user.

Dream Drive must be powered the night before race by being plugged into the drivers skull. Empties his head of dreams. Adds one to speed during race. Driver will go insane after a randomly determined number of rounds. Results of madness decided by other players.

19. Brain Valves.

Repurposed scrap-tech injection valves, preternaturally aware of drivers needs. Damaged veterans of the Psychic Wars. Unstable.

Brain valves add one to manoeuvrability. If fired upon, will enter combat-flashback on a 5-6. All drivers on track start screaming and move directly towards nearest terrain for one turn.

20. Thunder Button.

Mjolnir-fragment flintlocked to a semi-aware weather AI, causes thunder on activation.

Player may jump up and down on ground near cars in hopes of causing useful re-orientation. Any damage to track is their responsibility.

21. Annihilation Pedal.

Questionable pedal briefly destroys all space and time. Reality reappears moments later. Somewhat altered.

User may move and re-orientate as many pieces of scenery as they want however they want. For each piece roll a d6. A roll of 5-6 means that an unexpected effect has occurred. Something else on the board must be moved by the next player. Roll another d6, on a 5-6 it happens again for the next player along. Keep rolling till a 1-4 is rolled

22. Skeleton Trunk.

Where to the skeletons come from? Hah. No-one ever asks this. You meet the guy in a darkened bar. You hand him the money and go for a walk. When you get back, the trunk is full. You don’t check it. You know they’re in there.

The trunk of your car is full of angry skeletons. At any point during the race you may pop the trunk and spew skeletons over all nearby rear-facing area’s. d6 skeletons hit each car and count as level one berserkers.

23. Surface-to-Earth-Worms.

Meat-Seeking wormpedoes can be bought in the travelling markets of the bus-rank archipelago, up around transmission point. There use is controlled. Mainly by the fact they sometimes eat the person firing them.

Surface-To-Earth-Worm are kept rolled up in giant nautaloid tubes on the side of the car. When fired, the car must be facing towards its target. The worms will travel any distance underground until they sense meat, then rise up. They arrive at the beginning of the next turn of the firing player. They roll 4d6 for damage but only ever eat crew, the don’t damage the car. If the target moves somehow and is no-longer the closest to them, they will attack whomever is closer.

24. Heliovoric Charge.

This fractal-impacted mystery rocket can only be used once, it fires directly up into the sky and turns off the sun for the rest of the day.

Activating player can create night conditions for rest of race, plus they can turn off the lights in the room and close the curtains if they want to.

25. Quantum Crank.

This Escher-space engine crank moves through impossible positions when activated.

When used, the crank changes the momentum and engine direction of the car without any inertial effect. This turn, the car may move sideways in either direction exactly as if it was moving forwards. There is a 1 in 6 change of reality twisting and the car changing positions with a randomly selected other car.

26. Paralytic Converter.

This psychotropic chemical vortex converts engine fumes into ennui.

When active it leaves a gas trail the size and shape of a spare sock behind the car. Anyone entering this zone must take their foot off the pedal and stare blankly until things make sense again. (One round.) If the car takes damage though, the converter may misfire and fill the car with depression.

27. Leaf Blades.

Giga-leaves retrieved from the heaven-scarring paradise tree at the cost of many lives make excellent ramming-prows in the ring. They do shatter though.

Jam a pointy leaf on the front of your car. This ultra-sharp diamond-hard blade will inflict 6d6 damage on a ram, then shatter, doing another 1d6 damage to all nearby cars, including yours.

28. Skull Bumpers.

Chromed terminator skulls from a failed robot uprising add sweet bling to any ride.

They still track movement and human targets, communicating information with old-school internet moans. Add plus one to either an evasion or targeting roll each turn.

29. Fractal Treads.

Oddly patterned tyres whose surface is technically infinite.

You can now drive up/on vertical surfaces for up to three turns at a time.

30. Cash-Bomb.

Fires cash money onto racing area, ensures pitch invasion by Fanimals.

Hurl change from your pockets onto the pitch. Fanimals and mindless opponents will try to retrieve the money.

Saturday 18 April 2020

Rumble City Prizes!


This is a brief selection of the kinds of prize you can win in Rumble City races. You can roll here, or make up your own.

1. Pink Slip

The ultimate prize, and the classic, is the opponents car. This can only be agreed to on handshake before the race. Of course, a driver that knows they are losing may total the car during the last lap out of spite.

2. Hostage

This tends to guarantee ‘careful’ driving. To begin with at least. Both crews surrender a single member. They are tied to the hood of the enemy car. (With a rubber band.) Whoever wins gets their hostage back. Of course you can try to steal or abduct your guy back during the race. It’s pretty hard to do this without crashing the car they are tied to though.

3. The Turbine Cup.

This race has weird technology as the prize. Before the race (or after if the prize is a mystery), roll on the ‘Items and Enhancements’ list. This strange piece of impossi-tech goes to the winner, installed free of charge.

4. Tattoo of Terror.

Shame is the ultimate threat. The winner of this game may mark the losers with shame-inspiring symbols of their own design. They can draw whatever they like on the back of one hand. (Biro only, no permanent marker.)

 5. The Golden Tomb.

This is the ultimate honour for a fallen comrade. The golden tombs of dead racers stretch off into the neon-lit wilderness. The winner assures a place in rumble city history for the honoured dead. The loser passes like dust in the wind. It is traditional to race for the golden tomb with the body/coffin of your dead comrade strapped across the hood of your car, or in their usual racing position. Exceptional racers simple break hard at the last moment and fling the corpse through the tomb doors.

6. Shoe Garage.

Every team needs a good garage. The names of the big ones are famous. Cryo-Genetic, Cerulean Tyres, Abaddons, Pyro-Handbreak. In this game each team bets their own garage, winner takes all. What they do with the extra garages no-one knows. Take off your least-favoured shoe, slam it on the table, this is your teams garage. Lose the race, lose your shoe.

 7. The Monster Cup.

 Monsters are always a high-status symbol in Rumble City. The best racers all have a pet monster. You can try taming them and putting them in the car, you can add them to your Fanimals, or just tie them up outside your Shoe. The loser of this race owes the winner a monster, a good one.

8. The Prize of Praise.

There can be no greater attainment than the slavish adoration of your foes. The losers of a praise race must speak for a full minute in Rumble City Plaza in praise of the winner. Any use of sarcasm will be punished by instant death and having your cars stamped to death.

9. The Grand Remote.

The power to command the Atomic Screens! POWER! The winner of this race has full control of the remote until another race is run, or until the end of the day.

10. The Meal Wheel.

No-one in Rumble City can ever decide what to eat, or where. Decision paralysis leads to choked throngs of gas-guzzling muscle cars churning endlessly around giant roundabouts for weeks while crews argue over restaurant choices. The only solution is to race.

Thursday 16 April 2020

Twenty Rumble City Races!


These are some races you can have in Rumble City.

You can roll one, choose one, or better yet, just make up your own with what you have.

1. Army-Man-Slam.

They wander out of the dessert in rambling clouds. Army-Men. Mindless military homunculi with welded-on guns. These aren’t zombies. They are not quite machines. They look a bit like army people used to look, but can’t put down their guns. Or, in fact, shoot them at all. Their features are all wrong. No-one knows where they came from or why. It’s Rumble City, no-one cares. Some think there’s a crashed alien forge out there in the boiling sand. Maybe it’s trying to conquer us. Maybe it’s begging for help. Whatever it is must be automatic or dumb because it keep crapping out these rambling crowds of ineffectual animated army-drone-clones. We keep smashing them up. Then they come back.

Spread as many army-men or other figures in as many positions and places as possible. Try to make them look like a real army. Begin your cars at opposite sides. At the end of your turn you can move ten army men anywhere one inch. Whoever blasts or smashes the most army men wins.

2. Suicide Louise.

Can’t take it any more? FINE. Go out into the Terminal Hate Zones where every rock and tree loathes  life. Even getting there is hard. Set a course through the crackling infra-tech. Make Bad-Credit-Cliff your finish line. But you better beat those other bipolar racers to the edge. Only the first successful crash from Bad Credit cliff earns entry to the afterlife. Everyone else mysteriously lives. And is banned from racing for life!

Make a long winding track with a cliff at the end. Make every piece of scenery dangerous. Name a particular crew-member whose race this is. Think of a really good reason they ‘JUST CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE’. (Having to live in Rumble City is a ‘good reason’) They have to go over the edge. Other crew can try jumping off before the fall, of just not going to the race. If someone gets killed on the track, either by murder or accident, that doesn’t count. Only the first car counts. The jumper is world-famous and every baby born in rumble city that day will be named after them. Everyone else mysteriously survives whatever happened to them and is mocked in Rumble City for the rest of their lives. All Fanimals are lost.

3. Sky-Scraper-Slalom

Really tall buildings are dull. You can’t jump off them and there’s no ramp access to the upper floors. The racers of Rumble City have solved all that. They have built vast ramps that bridge the business-district scrapers twenty floors up. Elevators have been re-engineered to take up cars. Every accessible window on the non-racing floors above is full of cheering crowds. Just make sure you make the turn.

Make a series of large squares. These are the floors of the skyscrapers. Draw a ring track inside each square. Each car must circuit this once before it leaves. Link the building floors together in a ring with marked-out narrow bridges. Remember in Rumble City these bridges are twenty stories above the ground. Cars must enter each building, circuit the in-building track, then take the bridge to the next, building. First to finish wins. Don’t come off the track.

4. Oil-Tanker Escape Jump

Rumble City bay is full of huge decaying ships. When the world was going wrong everybody on earth bought all the gas they could right here. Now the big tankers drift slowly in the oily muck. Each one sized like multiple football fields, they form a shifting floor of steel above the oozing sea. Perfect for racing on! The only problem is, no bridges, so the racers have to jump from ship to ship. Decks have been flattened and ramps installed to make the jumps survivable. Probably.

Get as many big boxes (or equivalent) as will fit in the racing area. Give each box a tanker name. (i.e. the SS Salami)  Draw the names on the sides of the box. Leave one to three inches between each tanker. Put tracks on each one and a ramp on the deck aimed at the closest ship. Make sure they link up (or don’t). A racer must circle each ship at least once to build up the momentum for the jump to the next ship. First racer to the last ship wins. (And is helicoptered home.) Other racers must find their own way off the tanker.

For extra strangeness, put ramps everywhere and have the tankers move randomly, one inch per turn.

5. Valley of the Dolls

It’s out there, beyond the atom-screens and the alien receivers in the sand. The cage of the murderous cyber-things called ‘dolls’. They are low on power now, it’s said, the light of slaughter glows dimly in their eyes. But everyone remembers the terror they caused in that last insane war before the end. Everyone holds the image of those beautiful, still features stained with blood. Only the bravest racers dare the valley where the dolls stand dully ranked like standing stones. Winning the race is notable but even living through it earns you cred.

Mariel Clayton

 Mark out a narrow, twisting valley with the finish line at the end.  Fill it with as many ‘dolls’ as you can find. Rank them up like silent statues. Racers must slalom between the dolls to make it through. If any car touches a doll for any reason, it activated. They are looming cybernetic death machines that can tear cars apart with their bare hands and always seek to eat the crew one-by-one. They will chase any nearby car but will not leave the valley.

6. Midnight in Death Valley

As if Death Valley wasn’t dangerous enough! You want to race there at night?

Mark out a long, narrow valley course. Use no terrain. Inform players the track is dark so anything could be there. Obstacles may look up out of the blackness without warning. After their turn, each player must stand on the edge of the playing area and throw a piece of terrain onto the track. If the terrain hits a car that player that threw it loses a turn. If it damages a car, the thrower is disqualified.

7. The Atom Screens

Everyone in Rumble City can see the deranged flickering of the Atom Screens on the edge of town. They say the screens are why the city still exists. That, somehow, they protected Rumble City when things fell. Only the crazed, religious, or indifferent dare to race beneath the screens. They fear the faces of the alien gods that loom through from shattered realities. These tears in space and time exhibit impossible things and issue cryptic inarguable commands. It’s claimed the commands of the Atom Screens can speak the future of the racer they address. But if there is a system to it, no-one knows it now.

Mark out a simple track in front of, or beneath, a television at maximum volume. Turn off every other light in the room. On each players turn, change the channel randomly. The first coherent sentence from the screen must be treated by the racer as a direct order. If the player finishes their turn without a coherent sentence being heard, lucky them.

8. Slime Tank Slalom

Sometimes children go the glistening tanks of intelligent slime in rows. They gaze into the rippling ooze and watch ghost faces form inside. This fearsome liquidised entity must have been trapped in ranked crystal prisons for a good reason. No-one remembers what it was. Now the tanks are good mainly for extra-dangerous racing. Sometimes the tanks are cracked and slime escapes. Who cares? Call it parole.

Build a slalom race in which the poles are glasses or Perspex cups. Wine glasses are dangerous and fun. Half-fill the glasses with water or (with prep) jelly. Run the race as usual. If any car impacts or touches a glass, tip the glass over. Any pools remaining on the racing surface will cause a car to skid of touched. No cleaning up till someone wins.

9. Alien Transmissions.

Somewhere in the silent zones, tiled monoliths glow with a source-less inter-dimensional light. Each strange and luminous shard stands vertically facing another of its kind. The transmitters can be activated, but not used. No-one in Rumble City knows the code they speak. Though its effects are chilling, the means of its action unseen.

For this game, everyone will need a mobile phone. Arrange the phones around the edge of the playing area, facing inwards, as far from each other as possible. Place each players car before their phone. When a car impacts directly with an opposing players phone, the owner of the car must pick up the phone, bring up a random number and hand it to its owner. The owner of the phone must call that number and explain, truthfully, exactly why they have called. Any player too embarrassed to make the call is knocked out. Last player in the game wins.

10. The Towers of Change

Money in Rumble City is mainly symbolic (See prizes). There are no mints, but piles of giant sculpted disks erupt from the heart of playing fields and volcanic zones. The disks will soon sink back into the ground and disappear. The only way to catch them is to smash them down. At speed.
In racing cars. If this is not achieved the economy of Rumble City will collapse. So this is the race of a responsible citizen. It’s like a nine-to-five.

Get as much loose change as you can. Stack it in as many piles as possible. Make the piles high. Put them all over the playing area. When a car smashes into a change pile, the change is theirs. The spot where the pile was, is now a magmatic bog. There is a countdown to this game. 3d10 minutes. Then the piles collapse back into the volcanic zones. Whoever has the most money at the end wins.

11. Canyons of Crime.

No-one knows what a criminal is but from the films it looks like fun. The most important thing seems to be a chase. Every crime in Rumble City is built around the getaway. There are special places arranged for crimes to happen. The canyons are deep, dark and seemingly without end. If necessary, side-routes are walled off to prevent early escape. To be a cop in rumble city you need 1. A flashing light. 2. The ability to shout “police, stop!” 3. Possibly a badge.

The Canyons of Crime are inaccessible, you can play this one behind the couch. Or tip the bed over. The race starts at a building designated ‘bank’. One racer is designated criminal, they have the loot. They get a head start. The other half are cops. When the criminal is caught, they are knocked out. Whoever did it has the loot and is the new criminal. This continues until a time limit is reached or no cops are left.

12. Coat Mountain.

The crags of Coat Mountain can always be seen from the cracked windows of Rumble City. An ever-shifting ripple of waving stone. Looming from the desert plain, shifting its position, but always the same distance away. Still whenever seen but never the same shape from day to day. As if it were an animal stalking the town, waiting for it to blink Hiding in its folds, the only beings crazed enough to live there and survive. The Pocket People. Warped and transformed by long exposure to its woven tombs. Emerging one by one, babbling impossible tongues. Firing scratch-built jezzails at any who come close.

Drop your coat in a heap in the middle of the racing area. This is Coat Mountain. Your track will be one circuit of the edge. If longer tracks are needed, more coats may be used. Any car that touches Coat Mountain must roll damage. On every turn of combat, one of the following must take place. A Pocket Person may emerge. (They may only come out of the coat pockets where they live.) All Pocket Person may move. All Pocket People may fire at whatever they see. (Pocket People count as level one snipers.) At the end of their turn, a player decides which of the events will take place. The next player enacts that event before they being their turn.

13. Escape The Vault.

The hugeness of the Vault is beyond the comprehension of man. Some say it has its own weather systems. Some say the evils of lost ages are preserved there, far from the light of the sun. Some claim giants walk there underground, or strange beasts track across its level plains. A cyclopean cavern, city-sized, yet hidden like a sinkhole beneath the city streets. Its half-mile high arched ceiling holds up Rumble City. Just. One day everything will collapse into its dark embrace. Maybe tomorrow.
There’s only one thing to do. Built giant oil-drills, install racing cars in shielded nodules at their tips, burrow them into the Vault, release the cars and time them as they race back towards the surface.

In this race the Vault is the darkest, most cluttered, deepest and most disused room or cellar you have. Place the cars at the point furthest from the door. Add to the room whatever else you have that is strange. Race to the doorway or stairs.

14. Pages and Rages.

Out on the plains of Time, the jumbled words stretch on out of your sight. Mixed-up blockmarks of nonsensical phrases written in the strata of the desert stone. It looks as if they’ve always been there, embossed in the rock. But they change too quickly when no-one’s watching. And sometimes, the word-traps shut. Mounds of ancient earth peel over like a vice, crushing what’s within. These marks collapsed from a higher reality during the events at the end of the world. Ideo-shrapnel embedding itself in the skin of the world. Only constantly chanting the blockmarks of that zone will let you pass. The Book-Bedouin roam there, minds blitzed from the endless verbal static they must chant. But it’s a fun place for a race.

To race across the plains of Time, make a racetrack of open books, lying face-up on the ground. No-one can leave the surface of a book. Any car doing so will be considered destroyed. At the beginning of their turn, the player must look at the lines their car is upon. They must chant, without pause, all the lines connected to their car. If they do this, they are safe. If anyone fails to chant, the book will close, crushing the car. (Avoidance may be rolled.) Books will re-open in d4 turns and may be raced across freely in the meantime.

15. Playing Card Tar Sands

The sands of La Concorde ooze tar. Thick, black, vicious and a handy source of unrefined oil. The tar forms a crackling semi-permeable crust that sucks down anything heavy or slow. It’s nearly-impossible to race on. Nearly. But someone found a way. Huge rectangular plates of aluminium have been dumped in the tar sands. They can support the momentary weight of a car, if it travels at high speed. Over the years they have been graphitised by local youths.

Take a pack of playing cards and spread them over or around the track in the way that seems most interesting to you. But not too far apart. During the game, any car that finishes or ends its turn on a playing card is safe. If a car did not either finish or end its turn on a card, it starts to sink. The crew may still successfully abandon ship, if they are lucky.

16. Cryo-Slumber Hijack

The libraries of Rumble City are full of popsicle-frozen people. The ancients put a lot of useful people on ice. Probably hoping to thaw them out later. Or hoping they would wake up in a world more sane. No-one knows how the popsicle machines work anymore. Occasionally one looks like it’s about to defrost on its own. If the person inside looks like they might be fun to hang out with, racers gather in the huge library hall, revving their cars. A few minutes from de-thawing the race begins. Whoever ends up with the sleeper gets a new best friend.

Take a jelly baby, lego man or creature of equal dimensions. Put them in an ice tray, fill it up and freeze them in a cube. When fully frozen, place them in the centre of the game space. Arrange terrain and obstacles to suit. All cars start en equal distance from the sleeper. Crews can grab the sleeper on contact with the cube, simply place the cube on top of, or inside the car.
Enemy crews can grab the sleeper with a successful close attack. Whoever has the sleeper when the cube is fully melted wins, and gets a new, free crew member.

17. Fruit Convoy.

Rumble City is fed through the fortuitous use of mutant fruit. The surviving fruit farms of old California grow one gigantic monster fruit each. Guarding it over long summer months from the attacks of the hyper-crows. Fruit-Mercs with specialised weaponry stride the bananas watch after watch and snipers lock the approaches to every pear. Then, when the season rolls around, the convoys come from rumble city. The fruit are linked and loaded onto trolleys and anti-gravity skiffs. Then the vast arrays set off across the nightmare plains, heading for home. It’s murder. Every fruitpirate, bandito, mutant scav, biker gang or windriding sunjunkie flocks on the gigantic convoys as they rumble towards the city gates. The silhouettes of house-sized avocado’s flash blackly in the rattling muzzle flare against the lowering midnight sky. The wrecks of fortified pineapples hang in the dawn air like pencil-sketch gallows when the suns rise, bodies strewn and despoiled. Time to race.

Get all the monsters and enemy cars you can find. One player takes the role of the attacking hordes. Each other player runs one car. Get a bunch of fruit and a model truck. String up the convoy. One player may take on the role of convoy driver. Players may place crew members aboard the fruit at armoured positions if they wish. The fruit convoy goes at the speed of the slowest vehicle minus one. It can turn one segment per round. If it turns in the same direction for three consecutive rounds, roll for unstable fruit, they may become loose and escape. Game ends when the convoy crosses the city gates, whichever side has the most fruit wins.

18. Kaiju Rumble

Kaiju are a constant menace to Rumble City. It’s not really sure if they are monsters or normal things insanely sized. Perhaps they are simply lost wanderers in the desert of time who came back to find Rumble City shrunk to tiny size before them. Anyway, they are Kaiju now. You can only be so big in Rumble City! They are easily dealt with. Trip them up with monofilament wire tied round their legs, then drive up their bodies to shoot rockets into their eyes.

This race should be played with a friendly and patient human. Failing that, a pair of shoes and some chalk should do it. In the first part of the game the Kaiju (or person) walk very slowly across the playing space. They are trying to reach the outskirts of Rumble City. The players compete to be the first car to run a figure eight around the Kaiju’s feet. Once done, the Kaiju collapses in a random direction. (Cars beneath its fall may take evasive action.) The friendly human should lie down. Failing this, a chalk outline of a person should be made. Crosses should be added for the eyes. Cars must race up the monsters body, starting at the feet and fire once into each of its eyes. The first car to do this is the victor.

19 Tectonic Gold.

California still hasn’t fallen into the ocean. Maybe the Pacific doesn’t want it. The plates are cracking though, like a badly baked soufflé. It won’t be long now… Catastrophic tectonic activity can be a boon to any race. Rumble City bravoes often ride the San-Andreas plunge-mosaic-flats for fame and extra respect. A favoured tactic is to flock closely as the plates are crossed so as not to be disadvantaged by the shakes, then sprint for the end when it comes.

Arrange the course as normal, but draw it over as many tables as possible. Two is good, but four tables linked at the centre would be better. At any point during their turn, a player may shake one of the tables as hard as they like for up to three seconds. If any car is thrown off a table, the player doing the shaking is disqualified.

20 Crash-o-Tron.

The Crash-o-Tron is the most revered and respected of Rumble City races. Somewhat old-fashioned, its true, and staid, but you know where you are with the crash-o-tron. JUST CRASH INTO EVERYTHING.

The finish line of the crash-o-tron can only be passed by a car that has deliberately crashed into every other car in the race. That means the crash took part on that cars turn. It’s common for no cars at all to finish the crash-o-tron.