Monday, August 29, 2011

Come Not in That Form! What the well-dressed demon is wearing this summoning.

Being creatures of spirit, demons are not bound by any physical consistency, and may adopt such forms as boredom, perversity, or personal aesthetics dictate. Here are 20 "costume changes."

1. A translucent, crystalline, perfectly proportioned male or female body filled with wriggling pink worms.

2. A laughing huntsman wearing a suit of stitched-together infants’ skin, complete with a jaunty cap.

3. A vaguely humanoid figure made of rusted and bloodstained metal implements.

4. A cloud of fat corpse-flies, buzzing as one.

5. A gnarled, stooped figure with pale green skin, branded all over with still-smoking magical sigils. Its long, tangled beard reaches to the floor. It has no visible eyes, tiny serrated teeth, and a tongue of blue flame.

6. A serpent with a flaming crown, its body folding back on itself like a Moebius strip.

7. A recently-executed criminal, with all the accompanying signs of his death.

8. A deceased close relative of one of the PCs, bleeding continually from the eyes.

9. A perfect replica of the most common popular depiction of demons – red, horns, barbed tail, pitchfork, etc.

10. A naked, faceless infant suspended in a floating sac of pale fluid.

11. A great hero/heroine from myth and legend, speaking in a voice of the opposite gender.

12. A pretty, effeminate young fop, clad in velvet and holding a peacock feather.

13. A constantly shifting riot of wings and eyes. Talks like Michael J. Anderson on Twin Peaks.

14. A wax replica of one of the PCs, slowly melting.

15. A huge, bloated maggot with the face of a beautiful young woman.

16. A kindly, care-worn cleric of the most popular local faith.

17. The last intelligent being killed by one of the PCs, as they appear now.

18. A flayed bear, walking upright and holding a fennel stalk and a flute made from a human thighbone.

19 An elongated figure made of black iron, topped with a star-shaped head orbited by tiny flames.

20. A composite creature with the head of an owl, the torso of an emaciated woman, and the lower body of a praying mantis. Carries a flail and a cup of sweet wine.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Draco qui Vermithrax Pejorative Dictus Fuit Mortuus Est.

Just watched _Dragonslayer_ (1981) for the first time. Thoughts.

1. Holy shit, that was a great dragon.

2. The amount of Latin in this movie is a delight.

3. People in this movie are actually dressed in convincing Early Medieval clothing, rather than ridiculous confections of buckles and straps.

4. If they made this movie today, it would be full of crappy CGI, the leads would all be impossibly good-looking, and it would be 3 hours long. Also, there would be a bumbling comic sidekick, and fart jokes.

5. Hey, that priest is Emperor Palpatine!

6. The dragon has some depth (its rage at the murder of its hatchlings) without getting all Dragonheart - Sensitive New Age Guy about it.

7. Have I mentioned all the Latin? This might just be a former Classics major thing, but I'm grinning like an idiot, here.

8. The villain/main henchman guy was a total bastard, but in a way I could really respect.

9. I can't believe I've never seen this one before, and it really sucks that this was a commercial flop.

10. They sure used to be able to get away with a lot more in a PG movie.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

That's It-- I'm Writing My Own Tékumel Thingie.

M.A.R. Barker's world of Tékumel has been all over the OSR blogosphere lately, mostly thanks to this announcement from the Tekumel Foundation. James Maliszewski's recently posted some retrospectives on Barker's novel Flamesong, the default starting campaign in Empire of the Petal Throne, and the maddening fingerprint-scape of The Nightmare Maze of Jigrésh. Chris at Hill Cantons has stepped up to the plate and plans to run Empire of the Petal Throne on Google+, which thrills me to no end. Of all the games I've read and daydreamed about, EPT is the one I never expected to actually play.

I've had the vague intention for a while now of writing up a conversion of Tékumel for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but I've become increasingly impatient with vague intentions. Up until about a month or so ago, I hadn't written anything substantial since High School. Now I'm blogging semi-regularly, producing content that I'm actually happy with, and has been generally well-received. I've gone over the guidelines for free fan projects for both LotFP and Tekumel, and there's really nothing stopping me.

Fuck it, I'm going to DO THIS. First off, I should establish some limits and guidelines:

1) First and foremost, I want this to be an accessible, user-friendly tool for anyone to sit down with some friends who've never heard of Barker, Tékumel, Tsolyanu, etc., and run a game that's fun, fast-paced and exciting, while still maintaining the vibrant, trippy exoticism of the setting. This is broad-strokes, swashbuckling, sword-and-planet Tékumel. It's the difference between the Arabian Nights and the Sinbad movies, and a scholarly examination of the Abassid Caliphate, or between The Three Musketeers and a sober history of French society under Louis XIV. I'm going for a literary feel rather than an anthropological one. While I enjoy the Guardians of Order edition, I feel that it still places too much emphasis on cultural and historical minutiae to be really accessible to a new audience. To that end...

2) ... as in EPT, the assumption is that PCs are barbarian adventurers -- fresh off the boat and on the make, taking odd jobs no proper Tsolyani would touch with a 10-ft. pole in their quest for gold, glory, and citizenship. Players more experienced with the setting could have the option to play disgraced, now clanless Tsolyani who must rebuild their new lives from scratch, and win such glory for themselves that they can once more boast clan membership. At any rate, these characters are on the fringes of society looking in, not well-established citizens of that society.

3) I want it to be short, sharp, sweet, and flavorful, with a premium placed on utility and ease of use. I'm taking my cue from Zak S.'s Vornheim, here. I see this as being 20-30 pages, tops. To that end, there will be a great many mix- and- match elements, random tables, and story hooks, but very little in the way of exhaustive canonical detail. This will be a setting-specific toolkit, not a complete game or a definitive sourcebook.

4) It will be free. I expect to stray from canon at some point, and at this stage, I'd rather not have to wrangle with the logistics and red tape needed to put out an official commercial product. I'd be open to the possibility later, which would involve getting approval from the Tekumel Foundation. On the system side of things, from what I can see, Raggi's LotFP Compatibly License Terms seem easy enough to abide by, but I'd rather leave that off the table for right now.

5) Art and Layout: While I'm starting to get back to drawing and painting, my work isn't nearly of professional quality and I have no experience with proper document layout programs or techniques. I'd like this to be aesthetically pleasing, though, which means I have to either (a) Learn to do everything myself, or (b) enlist the help of others who'd be willing to contribute pro bono (I'm embarrassingly broke at the moment).

And that's all I have at the moment. I'm expecting this to take a while, and I'll be working on other projects throughout, but this is something I'd really like to see through to completion.