Friday 30 December 2022

The Hidden Genre Canon

 Being in the middle of reading Gustav Flauberts 'Salammbo' on the recommendation of Noisms, (I'm only in the middle so a review later)

But this is a HELLA D&D Sword and Sorcery book; orientalist opulence, raiding a gods shrine for a magic artefact, armies, slaves, chaos, strange faiths, greedy and manipulative heroes and villains, treasure vaults, bejellwed fish, a babe kind of makes out with a snake.

Point being, this is not the book people talk about when they talk about Gustav Flaubert. They talk about Madame Bovary, or the other one, the bourgeoise social dramas, not the epic orientalist adventure story.

It reminds me a little of Alan Moore brining up critics talking about H.G. Welles;

"aaalways Mr fucking Polley, the boring one, because that's the one they understand"

(actually this whole project/concept very much has an Alan Moore vibe, his reading for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

This got me wondering if there are any more hidden 'inverse classics'; books by normie literary authors which are effectively high genre and full of all the worldbuilding, weirdness, adventure, wonder etc which we high genre fans know are good-actually but which are largely ignored by mainstream critics because mainstream critics are dull.

I DON'T mean pulp or Genre authors or books which have been ignored because they are what they are. I mean specifically books by otherwise high-status literary types which stand out from their usual works.

What comes to mind immediately are only the actually-known one, like Woolfe’s 'Orlando'


Usually you lot vibe off recommending books so you should enjoy this.

Thursday 22 December 2022

Bubbles of Corposant

Ahhhh the Trailing Corposant series, in which I attempt to review and describe the Horus Heresy series from both a diegetic point of view and also as works of literature and ALSO as a giant cultural meta-project, with deep-dives on the personalities and peccadilloes of the characters and writers.

Was there ever a greater example of the sunk-cost fallacy? Apart from the Horus Heresy series itself? Will I ever vomit forth the Cursed Snake of this idea from tip to tail?

No, because I have outright decided that there will be some parts of it which I am just not going to write! However, I will summarise my reasons for not writing them by section below, along with a brief precis of what I would have said

My main overriding reason is that it has been progressively longer and longer since I actually read any of this stuff and my analysis of it are increasingly failed explorations of memory pasted over with excavated research.

Anyway, what follows are BUBBLES OF CORPOSANT, a breakdown of the series yet to be written with a list of all the things I am NOT DOING and my reasons for not doing them, then at the end some things I might actually do.


#11 BETRAYER;  the works of Aaron Dembski Bowden

The First Heretic, Betrayer,  Master of Mankind and  Echoes of Eternity.

For someone who wrote very few books ADB may have had the greatest effect on the moral tone of Heresy of anyone other than Abnett. He did good books about Lorgar and Angron, a book I hated about E-Dawg and a book I liked, Echoes of Eternity, about.. well a lot of people but probably largely Sanguinius and Angron.

I will not write this one. I can't really talk about ABD without taking about the Great Awokening, for I take him as its herald, and about his BPD, which is discomforting to reference. I am old now and I can't stand the culture war HEAT and I can't really criticise ADB's arguments about his own work and opinions without either tacitly or directly bringing up his mental health and stuff about him I vaguely remember from the pre-First Heretic days but which seems to have been wiped from the internet, was it even real? It's an emotive moral SWAMP and I am not stepping into it. You win this round!

#12 VULKAN SHIVS - Vulkan and Nick Kyme

Nick Kyme, editor of much of the Horus Heresy, wrote a bunch of books about Vulkan! They were;  Vulkan Lives, Deathfire, Old Earth and Born of Flame.

I will not write about these books. They were simply bad. When I start thinking about them all I can do is produce deeper and more analytical descriptions of how they were bad. If I were still a man in his 20s no doubt I would go for it but I am now 40 and I can't stop imagining Nick Kymes innocent face as he somehow reads my words. He seems like a nice guy so this is all I will say about that.

#13 REEEEEEE - Pertuabo

Taking in all the Pertuabo books and appearances. 

Is there anything more I could really write about this guy? Like a lot of low-self-esteem quasi-autists, I see a lot of myself in his horrible personality. I think I wrote about that here. 10 out of 10 most competent Traitor. Could probably have won the thing if he were in charge. Thats all I have to say on this guy.

#14 CROW-MAN OF CROW-TOWN - Corax and Gav Thorpe

I will precis this one

Making up Deliverance Lost and Corax. These were OK! The fun part is Corax working his way through a super-dungeon made by the Emperor to access magic gene-tech. If people see the Emperor physically as an aspect which resonates with their own soul, then Corax is a super-good guy as he sees E-bro as simply a tired and reasonable man who wants the best for everyone. E-Dawg clearly also holds Corax in high regard as he tells him about Chaos and gives him super-gene-tech. Corax is an idealist to the point of stupidity and can't really process that he is working for a probably-deranged authoritarian, or that he is made of pasteurised demon-sauce, but this only really comes across best in his Guy Haley book. Like Vulkan there is a potentially excellent story to be told about an essentially 'good' character and what happens when the scales fall from their eyes and they awaken to how desperately morally compromised they are, and like with Vulkan, we get it only by inference.


The 'Siege of Terra has begun! Only the MIGHTIEST of writers will clash against each other to resentfully EDIT parts of the Heresy they personally thought were rubbish! Last chance guys! Get yer oar in!

I can actually summarise this here;

1. Wraight deletes Erda in Warhawk. 

Karen Took the Kids! Twice! Just like in Die Hard. Erda is a Perpetual character created by Dan Abnett in 'Saturnine' as a former ally of the Emperor involved with the Astartes project (she was their mother), wh turned against him and betrayed him and is now hanging out in Blood-Meridian-Siege-Terra. However, Chris Wraight had already created the character of Amar Astarte, a former ally of the Emperor involved with the Astartes project (they were named after her?), who turned against him and betrayed him. In 'Warhawk' Wraight says "no, we, and by we I mean I, have done that already" and has her packed away in a... vase?

2. Wraight rewrites Mortarians shitty character arc.

Mortarion is largely badly written, especially in 'The Buried Dagger' where he is basically Joey from 'Friends'. DUMB. However in 'Warhawk' a demon pops up to have a long talk with a Death Guard in which the demon explains that everything Morty did which seems utterly bewildering and fucking stupd, especially and specifically being surprised by the massive betrayal of Calas Typhon, was ACTUALLY psychological matryoshka and that really internally he knew this was happening and let it go on so actually its a dark and twisted tragedy and not an inadvertent boring comedy.

3. ADB 'Well actually's Graham McNeil.

In 'Fury of Magnus' Magnus confronts E-dawg who stuns Magnus with the offer of a return to his good graces and a whole new Legion; all he has to do is let his old Legion die. Magnus says no and flounces off to Chaos. This is either A; E-dude revealing his hidden narcissism, B - a deliberate shitty option designed to drive Magnus into the arms of Chaos on these specific terms in service to some ultra-long-term super-plan, or C - shitty writing. (Or any combination of the above).

Aaron-Dembski Bowden clearly thought 'C' and in 'Echoes of Eternity re-writes the entire scene so that actually Magnus heard something different? Or Vulkan heard something different? or the Emperor heard something different? with the customary ADB excuse for going deep on his obsessions "unreliable narrator universe!!!"

3. Anything Dan Abnett 

Dan is basically writing his own  Abnettverse mini-series in the middle of everything else - dark angels, perpetuals, multiple origins for the legend of 'Ollianus Pius', the Inquisition were originally Investigators? Cormac McCarthy planet earth, lots of wandering around, ENUNCIA the magic language of creation etc etc. How much of this will turn up in the god-help-me fractal mini-series at the end of this Siege series at the end of the Heresy series, who knows....

Anyway, if anyone spotted any other 'Siege of Re-Writes' drop a comment below.

#16 THORPE-HALL - Gav Thorpes other works

Lorgar: Bearer of the Word, The First Wall, and Luther: First of the Fallen.

These are actually pretty good or at least not-bad. I may do a small article about them.


Scars, Jaghatai Khan: Warhawk of Chogoris, The Path of Heaven, Warhawk, plus Leman Russ: The Great Wolf and Valdor: Birth of the Imperium.

The Wraight-verse! Has anyone done better out of the Heresy than old Chris. Ok, he and Jhagatai will get their own post, with a sub-post about Wraight and the Custodes.


Pharos, Perturabo: The Hammer of Olympia, Corax: Lord of Shadows, Konrad Curze: The Night Haunter, WolfsbaneTitandeathThe Lost and the Damned.

Haley probably should get his own post, not sure if I will make it but we will see. Also I need a silly name for this one.


Praetorian of Dorn, Tallarn, Slaves to Darkness, The Solar War, Mortis. He has written some pretty solid books! And Mortis.

Ok, I will try to make sure French will get his own post


This was going to be a post discussing the more interesting weapons from the Siege, buuuuuuut, though they are fun, none are that interesting, or at least not a posts worth, so I will summarise here what the post probably would have been;


aLPHARIUS; basically a primarch weapon that can be broken down and re-assembled PURELY so Alan pharius can do an arming montage in the spy movie running continuously in his head.

Angron; dropping his axes they are not important except they are

Conrad; Has twin lighting claws with spooooky names think he uses them throughout the Heresy

Corax; Has a whip! Mental, plus a pew pew gun plus lightning claws I think plus his anti-gravity 'wings'honeslty a surprisingly chaosy loudout

Ferrus' HAMMER ends up with Perty. Vulkan has a bunch of hammers I think

Fulgrim; coooming to his SWORDS - Fireblade and the Laer Blade, symbolic 

Jhagatai; Has a cool sword think thats about it,can move fast like the Flash but only does it once??

Horus; Has his 'worldbreaker' mace which e-dog gives to him and which he keeps I think all the way to the end Has a talon made for him by the dark mechanicum - which you can still see on Abadoon

Lion; Has TWO SWORDS, on for kicking ass and one for really kicking ass

Morty; Big scyythe called silence and a cool raygun called lantern still has both

Rogals meat and potatoes chainsword and bolter, very 'badass normal' and memorable for being just that

Robute Oddly nothing stands out about him during the heresy weapons wise think he has a nice sword and gun but thats about it being slightly boring seems appropriate

Russ has like an axe and sword honestly for primarchs they feel pretty generic he also fiddles with a psychic spear at one point

Sanguinius Spear of Telisto shoots SOOPA RAYS, has a nice sword also

Lorgars gay mace made by Ferrus he still has it I think

Magnus is slathered in so much warp bullshit that his weapons are basically spells which are weapons or weapons which are spells, nothing really stands out

Vulkans its also a Hammer hammer Plus his lost or destoryed treasures plus the Talisman of Seven Hammers - the golden throne dead-mans switch! HAMMERS!


The Athame which takes down Horus

The evil dagger which Oll ends up with a form of Athame? has its own entire story behind it by the time we get to the end will anyone give a shit?

Various sub-athames. Robute ends up with one in Fear to Tread i think and it acts as a kind of potential obsessional focus for him giving us a glimpse of what a nurgly Robute might look like; eternal calculation and stasis.

Numerous demon weapons of various kinds most hilariously the one which ends up eating Gendor Skraivok, the cartoon vilian night lord 'Painted Count' demon weapons and demons generally tend to be a bit non-causal ie they have read the story before they turned up on the page usually wielder goes ah ha I will wield you demon weapon and the weapon goes hoo hoo ha ha I have read the last chapter hee hee

Giant chaos gates. oddly these aren't used for porting in demons but instead for normies to go visit the deep courts of chaos and make deals there for power we know there was one on Moloch the Emperor used & emerged super-powered we know Horus went in the same one and spent relative maybe centuiries in there we suspect there was one on tallarn Perty was looking for.


Suggests a thread of DaoT tech which was largely about  containing/controlling the power of the Warp - possible anti-warp technology, is this the late-Terra 'Byzantine Empire' skunkworks in which the illuminati of that time start putting together a lot of bleeding-age, semi-impossible technology to fight demons or whatever? Lots of odd semi-magical stuff from this time.

The Lions slaved AI killer robots. We know the DA got a lot of the even more super secret Daot tech in paticular they have a bunch of sentient ai killer robots which they let out like living bombs with the batteries already 90% drained so hopefuly they just run out of juice.

The Twin Spears; One reveals the truth to whomever you stab (a bit late one would think), this becomes the 'spear of russ' and shows up pre-heresy publishing wise as part of the william king space wolf stories I think. The other shows you their truth, more useful it would seem. Valdor ends up with this one and spends much of the Siege running around murdering demons with it giving him a pretty deep knowledge and understanding of the deep structure of the Courts of Chaos which may well prove important in his possible yellow king development later, likely also requires a lot of mental mouthwash to walk off.

The Tabula Myriad; trans-dimensional hyper-dominating clockwork AI fiercely anti-chaos, also fiercely anti-life.

The Black Sword. Sigsmunds puritan sword where does this come from? Ultra-black, light-drinking, DaoT possibly, was this meant to be the Emperors sword?

Malcadors swag. Has a burning staff which converts psychic force into atomic flame, also has some kind of bio-feedback immortality collar which keeps his body going.

THE EMPEROR??? Or perhaps whatever supercharged the Emperor before or after his excursion to Moloch? My personal headcanon is super-golden anti-chaos weapon exists but can't be used. Emperor already strongest psyker. E goes to Molech and gains chaos power to make Primarchs and demon-soldiers to conquer galaxy. E then cheats, goes home and with new power, pasteurises himself with golden anti-chaos thing, likely combining with it, and using demon sauce to make Primarchs and Space Marines intended to conquer Galaxy, weaken gods and then invade hell.


The Forgotten Ordinatus; Whole sub-plot for these, The Lion recovers these super-guns early in the Heresy and like a dingus, gives them to Pertuabo as a bribe for making him the next warmaster - thinking ah ha, we will see these guns again at the siege! Well we do not.

The Orouboros of Caliban; Is this chaosy or not? By the time of the story it definitely is but I think its suggested it was originally created as a kind of building tool for the Old Ones to make the webway? A hyperdimensional backhoe basically, thats in Caliban and plays a role in making that planet strange.

The Creepy Child Thing the Lion Hangs out with; The Lion comes across a possibly chaosy or just generally evil kind of aleph machine or a super navigation thing which has implanted itself into a childs body and is clearly creepy as fuck and the Lion 'uses' it to track and defeat Konrad though this is probably a long-term chaos plan as by extending the Thramas crusade they help keep the Lion away from Terra.

The duelling-assassins super weapons; Imperials have an evangelion-style mega-rifle built into a building Chaos guys have a warp-capacitor energy-eating super demon.

If anyone can think of any more fun or unusual ones, let me know in the comments!

#21 THE WARMASTER - Dan Abnett (the later works)

Know No Fear, The Unremembered Empire, Saturnine and whatever the end books are!

Obviously dib-dabs gotta get his own post, one of the few I can't write yet as he hasn't finished the series, but I will.

Saturday 17 December 2022

Avatar: The Way of Water! MACHINE BAD! Cat-Girl go HISSSSSSSSSSS

Look, the politics of this are so dumb as shit the only way to watch it is to let them wash over you (like water) and just vibe with it. It feels like a hippies dolphin poster from the 70's plus captain planet plus 80s Greepeace plus JRR Tolkien (MACHINE BAD), plus Jacques Cousteau. that's about it. Basically its Greenpeace; The Epic Cartoon.

If you want to see suggestively erotic blue cat people and sentient tattooed whales fight CRAB ROBOTS, evil AUSTRALIANS, BOSTOM DYNAMICS FIGHT SUITS, and Stephen Lang who is now also a CAT PERSON MARINE, then this is the film for you. I can't tell whether this is a good film as it is genuinely dumb as shit but I also had a lot of fun so who knows.


The one reason  think Scrap might like this is that there are some very EVIL AUSTRALIANS hunting SENTIENT WHALES and LOVING EVERY SECOND OF IT. But all of humanity is relentlessly evil and so engagingly clever and inventive that I was basically on their side the whole time. Every time they turned up in their wonderful machines to burn nature while drinking coffee from their robot arms I was like "Humanity yeah!" I want toys of all the human stuff and a tabletop game where you fight cat people for unobtanium and whale juice NO FLAG, NO COUNTRY, SORRY!


The actually good actors are back. Stephen Lang is now an engram downloaded into a cat person body on a quest for revenge for his own death. He is tremendous fun. He drinks coffee! Sigourney Weaver is back as her own cat-person daughter in a role which sounds mental but which she carries off wonderfully. I feel like in a weird way Sigourney Weaver was made to do something this fucking strange as the genuine oddness of the role seems to suit her quite well. Zoe Saldana is still good as the probably-actual-protagonists who shoots arrows at Stephen Lang. The main guy is back as well, he is also present. 

So basically in-fiction people are swapping bodies, living in spliced cat bodies, wearing robot suits, living behind masks in an alien environment which they grew up in, being colonial marines with the memories of the dead but wearing the bodies of the people they are here to oppress. 

While irl everyone is jumping around wearing mocap suits, making CAT FACES, older actors playing young characters, or reborn versions of dead characters, changing age and form. Its a trip.


Everyone from Cameron down commits one bazillion per cent to whatever they are doing. No late-millennial veil of irony here! Only the sweetest most absolute CHEESE delivered with the greatest VERVE. If we were in the late 60s and had been watching 'Oaters' and Roman Sandal Operas for 30 years I would be sick of this shit but instead its the opposite and we have been watching fear-of-truth inronyclasm shit for 30 years so now this cheese smells good to me. HISSSS cat person! Machine bad! Nature Good! You want a comprehensive procedural breakdown on how we hunt sentient whales for their JUICE in this imaginary world? Well here you go! For about 15 minutes of imagined nature documentary! I like this shit so F you if you don't.

Someone really and genuinely cared about every single element of this film from the tiny dots on the cat people faces to how the trifold mouth of a sentient whale might open to water droplets coming of a cat persons ass to hiding every single (adult) cat-girl NIPPLE to how a ROBOT GENERAL might drink her MURDER COFFEE in her ROBOT SUIT. In it total commitment, massive starchiness, indifference to judgement, lack of irony, commitment to using CGI as an actual art rather than as fucking filler spackle over a directors mistakes and in its obsessive autistic world building it is the antithesis of whatever the fuck the current mode is.


Yo, I heard you liked your noble savages, how about we gave you Noble Savages... in Tahiti! Gauguin's Tahiti! Pus Moana! Here we live in harmony with nature with our sentient whale friends and commune with the WORLD SPIRIT in the SEA and have no wierd or disturbing rituals or beliefs in any way and no underclass, no slaves, no tribal wars or headhunting, no resource problems and also we have gender equality and no old people. And we are definitely not quietly aborting or killing our un-needed young like most pre-agricultural human cultures may have been. WORLD SPIRIT BABY!

Have you heard of MACHINES! Machines bad! But also FUCKING COOL! Humans use them! Train go whoosh! Robot go THUD! Explosive harpoon go PRING. Could humans be good somehow? Maybe hippies and scientists. Also away with your MACHINE MEDICINE, here we solve medical problems with SHAMANISM and the WORLD SPIRIT! You like FAMILIES? You better because FAMILY GOOD! FATHER PROTECT!


 It is a late 1970s summer, somewhere a serial killer stalks, a rocket curves a line over the horizon off to deliver a shuttle to yet another moon golf game, wreathed in the embers of the sun a stick-thin hippy is carefully spraycaning (HISSSSS - like a cats hisssss) the glorious image of a breaching whale onto the side of his VW Camper van and by god if it isn't the best spray can image of a whale you have ever seen. I cannot tell if this was a good film but this is the film that it was. Way of Water Baby!

Sunday 11 December 2022

I Read "ItHot3bw" !!

 OSR CIRCLEJERK WARNING - I know Noisms well and play with Dave Greggs on the regular so strap on your circlejerk face guard.

Noisms of Monsters and Manuals has released his latest Kickstarted effort; In The Halls of the Third Blue Wizard, Volume 1, or as I shall be calling it "ItHot3bw"

So what did I think?

I liked it.

Art good = Fresco with Orcs good

Fiction Good
surprisingly not terrible at all
good elf birth scene
decent dungeon delve from the pov of a linkboy
a lot of potential to explore here

Adventures Good *largely* = 
Good inspiration
Good individual content
Some issues with playability
and most importantly, FOR ME, any problems with playability and text arrangement massively amplified by the FORMAT of the whole text


"Offspring of the Siphoned Demon" by Ben Gibson - I did not really like this one I am sorry. If you did post a review to even the karma.

"The Black Pyramid" by Terrible Sorcery - COHERENT and PLAYABLE. Do you want to play in a dungeon that isn't a bunch of crazy pretentious bullshit and you can get it done in a session or two? Well here you go.

"The Chevrelier" by Brian Saliba - entertaining for as long as it was and probably good it wasn't longer as the idea was slight.

"Fresco with Orcs" by Joel Sammallahti - a very good illustration, my favourite of the book, I both want to know more about this world and situation, but also do not as, it would only clarify that which should remain pregnant with possibility.

"The Cerulean Valley" by George Seibold - a dense, coherent and interesting hexcrawl with a very good map - very playable, just charming.

"The Thirteen Dwarves" by J. Blasso-Gieseke - an amusing aperitif piece of dungeoneering meta-fiction about endlessly repeating dwarves, also exactly the size it is meant to be, which is short.

"Winter in Bugtown" by J. Colussy-Estes - nice side-on map, good concept might be difficult to use.

"Goblin Cave Battle" - its Kelvin Greens art, I do not love it myself but hopefully you do.

"The Hollow Tomb" by Harry Menear - a decent dungeon, compact, drowned lower level, tragic backstory.

"A Turn of Fortune" by Jose Carlos "Kha" Dominguez - Dungeon with what I found to be an inventive but maybe frustrating core concept of living/unliving statues, visible in magical mirrors, a whole dungeon layout mgical trick thing which is neat in concept. How will it play through?

"The Belly of the Fishy Beast" by Sam Doebler - an image AND a dungeon and a map, probably the most immediately playable thing in the book.

"The Beloved and Oft-Recounted Tale of the Mysterious Birth" by J.C. Luxton. A luxurious and well-written scene or story fragment from an Eld Court. Feels _very_ ItHot3bw I liked this one.

"The Transmuter" by Luca Vanzella. Excellent picture. Also feels very ItHot3bw.

"The First Fantasy World-Builder: William Morris The Well at the Worlds End by Roger SG Sorolla. Scholarly article, massive blog post and/or world creation thing? Whatever it is this feels VERY ItHot3bw - there are, or were, some bloggers who it felt were always meant to be in print - Tom K's Middenmurk was an exemplar of this, long posts with very rich language and almost as much an essay as a piece of experimental fiction and world building, more of this sort of thing please. Like, you can't lean back in your chair and smoke a pipe in your hobbit hole in front of a fucking computer, you can with a book and I feel like this is the kind of book ItHot3bw is trying to become.

"Moonrythm Mire" by Dave Greggs - ok, LOTS of caveats - know this guy, play with him, weird intense lyrical fantasy, ARGUABLY waaay too many moving parts. I liked it a lot. There were no adventures where I wanted to edit the content but many were I did want to move text around for clarity and playability and this is one. Ok I liked it a lot. Bizarre encounters in a magical mire with various Bande-Dessenie style factions and entities bouncing into each other and being weird.

"The Garden of Khal Adel" by Zane Scheider a location-based adventure in a musical-themed supercave (I think) with Goblins. Is decent, I was hoping for more orientalism from the title but ok.

Coils - a good illustration by Bert Bogaerts

"She Who Came to Oldgraves" by Autumn Moore, a dungeoneering story from the perspective of a local linkboy hired by the strangers who came to his village. Nebulous horrors and strange deaths await. Will there be anyone left to pay him his sliver piece by the end? In its content and theme this also feels very ItHot3bw. Classic Dungeoneering para-fiction. Not like 5e im-the-dragonborn-in-the-party stuff but maybe stuff like the story of the Silversmith who identified a magical ring for passing adventurers he never saw again and was perhaps cursed by dreamlike memories of an ancient time for a while, or the father of a runaway boy trying to find him, tracing his wanderings through life and death situations but always arriving after the event.

"The Devil in the Land of Rushes" -  by Noisms. Another boatload of Circlejerk warnings but I really liked this! Another really fucking dense adventure, in this case map based. Ages ago this was intended to be one part of a book of location based adventures set around where we lived. The book didn’t happen. My part became Silent Titans and Noisms part went through many and various changes over the years and now it is about as close to complete as it is going to get. If you were wondering what lies to one side of the sea in Silent Titans, well it may be this.  or perhaps this is yet another version or mirror-verse of that exact same land

This also feels VERY ItHot3bw but it would as it is Noisms and the basis for that aesthetic.

Should I go deep on this? It’s a location-based adventure about a timelocked land with the feel of North-West England in which the Devil is the main antagonist and everyone is cursed in various ways. ITs very bucolic, eerie, Alan Garners the Owl Service or Mythago Wood etc. Even 'The Sleeping Giant'.


Page Size and Column

 - A5 page size (roughly) and single column is awkward for text which has to be referred. I feel like read-across is bad when the text is dense and at these page proportions.

Adventures spread out over the book

 - so what if you want to play *just this* adventure and nothing else? And if you want to run it from the book? Not only are you flipping between small pages but you are doing so within a larger text, almost all of which you don't want at that time.

Inter-Referability is a Nightmare

Many of the adventures have some complex particular spaces and locations, plus bestiaries, if/then tables and descriptions, some fun random generators. But the pagination, titling and breakdown of information hierarchy is nowhere near bold, strong or designed enough for my taste.


More fiction? (if its any good, if David can get enough actually-decent fiction). The format seems made for these short, specific and dense fictions.

More scholarly articles/blog posts/essays - really the kind of thing where it is all yet none of these. The format also seems made for this kind of thing maybe even more than blogs. Like 'here's the Palace of Morpheus in Spensers Fairy Queene and here is a map of what it would be like to sneak into it and here a discussion of the metatextual adaptations of the character and here are some treasures and an encounter table kind of thing.

more ART - Of course artists are MUTE BEASTS but they can be paid readily enough. Art additions could be added to a Kickstarter relatively easily?

Interrelation of fiction/adventures to the art? don't know if Noisms would want to do this but if you could create a unified 'package' of an art piece, a bit of fiction and a playable adventure for each section that would be cool, would be a fucking nightmare to organise and edit though.

Separate adventure PDF's? Many people play from the PDF anyway and its the simplest way to make an adventure "more playable". Could be sold as a bundle like here’s the full text PDF and here are the adventures as sperate files.

Improved layout and information design for the adventures - this is expensive, time consuming etc as well, even getting things on unified spreads without hanging paragraphs would help

Playability editing of titling and information hierarchy? Clearer bold titles and section headings. I like double-column but that’s me.

Read-to-play editing of text? A taste thing. Editing adventure text so there are less hidden recursions, more say-as-they-see descriptive text.

A SPINE.. of course this is a pipe dream BUT, the density of the text, the extent to which you have to refer to adventures in order to actually use them, it would be cool if a hardback with a stitched spine could be made it turns it from more of a magazine into more of a book, and seems to fit the nascent Hobbitcore visionary aesthetic and social movement which appears to cluster about "Hot3BW".

This may sound insane but I actually believe that if the book was in hardback, better laid out, in 2 column format for the adventures, the very deep density of the adventures would be converted by some strange alchemy from quite frustrating to Good, Actually, just by the manner of their instantiation rather than their content.

One thing I absolutely INSIST ON for the next issue is an introduction written in the voice or the titular Third Blue Wizard, the editor taking on the Persona of a magical intermediary is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY for a publication of this type!

I hope Noisms keeps this one up, OR IS IT GOING TO TURN OUT LIKE THE PERIDOT DAVID????

Tuesday 6 December 2022

The Chill Lvl Zero Caravan Guard Adventure

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

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

Eugène Girardet - A Desert Caravan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 2 December 2022

Internal Voices Shut UP!

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

And what then?

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

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

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

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

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

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