Archive for the 'f+f' Category

22
Aug
09

the ancient city of brass

Lots 566- 578
Twelve brass jugs sealed with lead found by a local fishing community off the coast of Algeria; the seals stamped in the lead have been confirmed as Solomonic by our scholars in Jerusalem and in Cairo. The seals are identical to those with confirmed provenance as prison jugs for ifrit; known for their hostility to humanity. The bidding starts ladies and gentlemen at £100,000 Sterling per jug.

The sheikh who purchased them seeks to fund an expedition to find the city where they had been cast. This expedition will yield a fascinating opportunity for explorers and scholars of antiquity, even if local guides mutter that the journey will take the expedition into the most inhospitable and ill-omened parts of the Rub al-Khali. Yet there’s always those guides for whom money forgives almost any peril.

What treasures and perils await such explorers and their followers? Stories of great tombs that warn of the futility of wealth and tell of wars between jinn and humanity, mechanical horsemen, half-petrified jinn and of course the fabled city itself, said to hold temptations and death in equal measure. Of course others seek the prizes of the City of Brass – as not least the fabled libaries and the seas beyond where Solomon imprisoned hundreds of ifrit in brass jars…

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25
May
09

on genre death, means & ends and industry

Let’s start to look at ourselves and let’s stop characterising ourselves as a besieged minority: we are connected by an umbilical cord which is unbreakable to every huge movement in the workings of theology and philosophy – the labours of the imagination as far back as we know how to look.

— Clive Barker, speech at Fantasycon 2006, Nottingham

Think on that a moment then consider the following…

There is a glossary of terms to be found at Amagi Games that helps capture the means and ends we aspire to by experiencing drama, playing games, gambling and performance – yet we can aspire to greater things than even these. Games with social consequence beyond the footprint it takes up to prep and run and experience, be it via giving a share of profits to a good cause or getting people to brainstorm on real-world issues while having fun at the same time.

Delta’s D&D Hotspot posts that it’s not all about fun. He posits that fun is not the only fruit (to borrow from Jeanette Winterson) and that catharsis is perhaps a better aim, preferring to follow an Aristotlean approach. I’m more pluralist. Why not let yourself have all the flavours at your table – including fun – and choose what you want according to your mood?

Onto a wonderful counterpoint by JoeTheLawyer (with props to taichara for the pointer) on why the Old School Renaissance is about emotion. Emotion is one of the key drivers behind the RPG blogosphere (along with creativity and it’s talkative friend, rumour). The appearance of 4E and other books on bestseller lists indicates a beseiged minority label may no longer fit us; it’s time to get a new coat that fits us better.

And if your coat is fine, then your attitude may be next…

27
Mar
09

from the edge of twilight: dustman

It’s been two days now – no sleep, limited food, only my need for water to keep the coffee and energy drinks from fossilising my kidneys is forcing me to good behaviour. I look a mess, but have to keep driving. Everything’s taking on a ragged woolly edge and my eyes itch like a Dali movie. Unlike me, he – it – I don’t know – won’t stop. When I wanted a movie-star lifestyle, I didn’t expect it to be Terminator with me as Sarah Connor.

I’d have to drive farther than the petrol in this car to get to convenient vats of molten steel since they closed all the steelworks and he’s too smart to stand under a steamhammer so he can be hit with it. I can risk refuelling again but if I use plastic, he gets a fresh trail. I learned that the hard way at the last roadside services, dumb luck saved me then – I can empty my account but it’s a slow painful process that brings him closer to me.

He’ll walk if he can’t steal a bike or car; he doesn’t tire. Stab him – he doesn’t bleed, just some kind of dust trickles out and then stops. Hit him with a baseball bat, he crumples and comes back. I haven’t seen how he reacts to being shot. It’s like he’s putty; a toy for a monster child. You hear about stalkers, serial killers and you thank God it’s not your problem. Jesus, Andrew I’m so sorry. You shouldn’t have tried to stop him. I have no idea why he’s after me.

I don’t know why. That’s the worst thing. If there was some kind of purpose to it – if we could understand his – it’s – motive I could put a brave face on. Hide outrage in rationales and march to war. Instead I’m here with no reason, poor Andrew in ICU wondering where the hell I am after two days. I’m an office worker, not some heroic tart with a shotgun and six months solid gym muscle. My man is in ICU and I should be with him…

I want to hate he – it. Can’t sleep. Can’t let him find me. This is protecting Andrew – the text message says so; the phone bleeps occasionally – it’s running low, like me. I’ve felt myself slip – what they call microsleeps – you can travel an eighth of a mile at the speed I’m going. Can’t. Can’t let him win. Can’t stop on this road yet – maybe the next service station. Another text bleep.

‘Look Up.’ What does that mean. The bridge. Oh no. He’s there! He’s going to jump on me – floor it now; ignore the speed camera just drive! Above the engine I hear a thud behind me and see the cars swerve to avoid the body – where’s the body – just a pile of dust being blown off the road by cross-winds, his clothes already tumbling under wheels, a lorry hits the brakes to avoid them and I’m gone.

Another text bleep. ‘Nxt srvis stn. 2 coffees.’ Smooth, whoever you are. Better get some water as well. My kidneys are killing me – I don’t know how long I’ve got before he comes back.

13
Mar
09

from the edge of twilight: hellhound

Vinson is feeling it – ten years of sloth, lust and gluttony on top of a dodgy knee’s taken it’s toll. He’d had a body to crush and to tempt, then he got careless and his knee blew out under the pressure of seven hundred pounds of US-grade football scholarship in a hard tackle. Denied his glory, he turned to other amusements to become HIV+. His friends dried up overnight with his prospects. Life’s unfair and then you die, morality is irrelevant.

Vinson’s crying – I can smell the salt of his tears, the Bloody Mary, pesto and Spanish Fly staining his woolen dressing gown, hear his ragged breathing, heart trip-hammering, the click of the Glock’s slide. Vinson’s rebellion came to His attention. He’d worked hard all his life and had it taken away from him in two seconds of conflict and a one-night stand. He made the deal. So he was offered, what was it – ten years of no consequences, eat, drink and be merry, whatever he wants without remorse or regret? Ten years of whatever you want. Items from menu A, B – you know Hell does standard packages now? Takes all the imagination out of it if you ask me. So few people do. They only ask me not to do. And I always refuse. I love my work.

“Awh-please don’t…” Then he shoots me. See what I mean? I feel the bullet rip open my leg and it slows me down. I punch the tree trunk in frustration and leave a dent that’ll take twenty years to grow over. Vinson’s gun is now empty and he pitches it at me. I feel the muscles on my leg heat and flow like wax. Not silver, not blessed. I fall over as the gun catches me on the shoulder and spins away. When I get up, the leg aches with a bone-deep bruise. In half an hour, there won’t even be discolouration. Benefits of the job. I’m his hellhound – dying from a gunshot would be inconvenient.

And we don’t do inconvenience in our line of work.

“Please! Anything!! Please!!!
“Your time’s up Vinson. You made a deal. Time to pay the piper.”

The full moon slips out from between the clouds. I feel my rancid sulphur breath steam like exhaust fumes as my mouth begins to elongate. My skin crawls with hair that thrashes like grass in a storm, my fingernails split, replaced by inch-long talons. Cartilege pops like knotted oak in a fire and I lose the capacity for speech as the howl breaks free and my legs recurve, the wound almost gone now. Vinson runs – fear-blind, adrenalin ignoring his knee for fifty metres. I salivate at the prospect and the roar that escapes my jaws has nothing to do with morality.

It’s a short race, but a merry one and it always ends with a meal. What’s left of Vinson’s body is washed away by the spring rain or picked at by the other animals when I’m gone. His spirit? That’s someone else’s concern. By then I’m long gone, looking for the next debtor. Like I said, I love my work.

15
Feb
09

from the edge of twilight : nightwalker

19.29 – Our subject’s on the move. Possible delivery. Subject mobile, motorcycle licence plate (edited), black and white leathers. Moving to High Street, stand by unit 4, this could be business.
19.31 – Bloody hell, look at him go. Nutter. Unit 4, confirm visual.
19.33 – Looks like some vandals broke the street light in this alley. Don’t know how they managed to scale that lamp post. Kids today eh?
19.35 – What was that? *muffled* Nothing.
19.40 – Subject has reached destination. Meeting with Caucasian, five-nine, blue and white Adidas hoodie and sportswear. Passing over Jiffy envelope – intercept? OK, we’ll pick our new friend up later… wait.
19.42 – They’re heading to the house. Wait… we don’t know this guy.
19.43 – Subject and friend now entering house. Music on, looks like they don’t want to do business in the street. Do we have a go Unit 4?
19.44 – JESUS! Get backup! This is PC(edited), looks like the new guy had been thrown through the window onto the fence. How the fu – oh god, what was *sound of breaking masonry* GET DOWN! GET BACKUP NOW!
*tape ends*

“The rest you know. The press report says there was a gas cylinder explosion and we had to ensure the incident report didn’t conflict with that even if SOCO says the section of wall that hit PC(edited) looks like it was torn from the building and hurled. It’s just one nonsense among the many I’ve had to deal with in the last day or so.”

“There’s no sign of the subject. Nothing except his bike helmet and his bike. The damage to the walls of the property indicate some massive impact and the disturbed plant pots are far too heavy to knock over, which fortunately lends the explosive theory some credence but the lack of canister shrapnel.”

“The officers aren’t going anywhere near that estate now and are requesting Serious Crime Squad involvement, I don’t blame them. There was enough skunk in the house to put away the dealer for distribution and a couple of improvised weapons. It doesn’t fit any kind of gang pattern I’d expect. You’ve got your own theories of course.”

“There’s a problem with the CCTV footage you’ve requested. The cam with the best view was having trouble, looks like the stanchion it rests on was bent somehow and the light in the alleyway where PC(edited) was watching from was gone. I don’t know if he’ll recover from the wall hitting him – medical retirement’s a certainty.”

“Good luck. I don’t know what else we can do to help but if we can, ask.”

03
Jan
09

the edge of twilight

Concept: A modern horror RPG setting where player characters investigate strange mysteries born out of ancient myth, fringe science and infernal influence while resisting the lure of the abyss they look into; with monsters lurking at the edges and in the shadows, will they stand for humanity or fall to the lure of power and sacrifice their minds, bodies and souls to become what they fight?

Influences: 28 Days Later, 30 Days of Night, Angel Heart, Dark City, Delta Green, Dog Soldiers, Event Horizon, Fallen, Fringe, Hellraiser, Millennium, Quatermass, Phantasm, Predator, Prince of Darkness, Resident Evil, Supernatural, Terminator, The Invaders, The X-Files, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Ultraviolet, Unknown Armies, Vampire$, Warlock.

Mechanics: Simple, fast-resolution. Combat is dangerous, if you’re unscathed it’s a victory. Monsters are scary and superhuman monsters especially so; the temptations to become a monster yourself need to be present and provide a logical Faustian deal for players to consider.

06
Dec
08

roads less travelled

An idea has been bugging me of late…

The setting is late 1970 – early 1980s America, the kind popularised by Glen A. Larson etc. and with a soundtrack out of any number of drive-through service stations or AOR rock/punk/pop stations. The protagonists are road tripping vigilantes in pursuit of a carnival of horrors who moves from town to town on a mockery of a pilgrimage; in their wake people vanish, make extraordinary lifestyle choices or die under unusual circumstances. The vibe I’m looking at is one part Supernatural, one part Carnivale, one part Twin Peaks with a dash of Phantasm and Nightbreed to taste. The law doesn’t think a travelling fair is responsible for all this mayhem – the carnival attracts some trouble of course but this craziness is outside the usual ‘They made me do it…’

My question is this… would you want to be the protagonists? And why?

There are any number of reasons to pursue this band of performers – chasing an errant relative, looking for a missing love or seeking revenge on that fairground worker who stole all your luck. You might even be a fan of the show or a reporter. I’m envisaging a series of episodes based on a trail across or along America with the main focus of conflict being around the denizens of the carnival but with the occasional problem town or isolated community for relief.