Monday, February 27, 2012

[Actual Play Report] Villainy Roams the Hill Cantons Unchecked and Unhindered!

The Following is an Actual Play Report of the Hill Cantons session run by Chris Kutalik on 2/23/12.  You can read other reports from the session here and here, but I cannot answer for their veracity.

    Dear friends, it is with a heavy heart that I come before you this evening, my sad tale to relate.  Yet I must be firm and steadfast, for the very words which pain me to merely recall them, which burn in my breast like glowing embers, speak of nothing less than a danger which threatens us all.  My friends, are you aware of the growing epidemic of KIDNAPPING?  Gangs of ruthless men, quite abandoned in their ways and heedless of the laws of God and man, roam these hills like unto ravening wolves, preying upon the most frail and tender prey they can find -- our very wives and daughters!  Honest matrons, radiant young brides, delicate blushing virgins -- all are borne away in stealth by these fiends, who respect neither property nor status -- indeed, ladies of quality are especially sought after, for the gold these demons in human form can extract from their grief-stricken parents.  and they do not limit their depredations to the fairer sex.  Sons, fathers, husbands, even valuable household pets-- it matters not to the kidnapper so long as they think to profit from their abduction.

     I myself heard the confession of a young man but a few days ago which broke my very heart to hear it.  In age and aspect, he could have been my very brother, but while I have repented my youthful folly and devoted myself to the service of the MOST PUISSANT SUN LORD GLORY BE TO HIS NAME, this unfortunate wretch had followed a different path -- a dark, and winding path, which began, as it always seems to, my friends -- as a stroll down a pleasant lane through sun-dappled fields, but soon, with many a twist and turn, he found to be a labyrinth of woe, choked with thorns and brambles.  This man had kept bad company, and would while away his days in sin and indolence.  He and his fellows were well known to the bawd and the procuress, the keeper of gambling dens and the purveyor of stolen goods.  And they amused themselves for a time with such wicked diversions as they found without overmuch diligence, until they decided among themselves to commit a crime of greater villainy than any they had hitherto attempted.

     It seems that one of his "friends" -- a confirmed layabout and wastrel, of such softness and effeminacy that but an hour of honest work would leave his hands blistered and bleeding, had taken a wife. Needless to say, he cared not a fig for his husbandly duties, but continued as before, while his unfortunate bride -- a sweet, trusting creature of gentle disposition and becoming modesty -- was left alone to suffer in silence, to endure his thoughtless neglect as best she could.  Her father was a man of some means, and with this knowledge in mind, he conceived his vile project.  He would, with the assistance of these his co-conspirators, abduct his own dear wife in secret, and line their pockets with the ransom when the dear girl's father had offered it up.  My friends, what times are these we live in when the blessed estate of matrimony is exploited in so vile a fashion?  We may censure and hold in contempt --- and justly so!-- the husband who not only tolerates the infidelities of his wife, but compounds the transgression by becoming her pander as well, and profiting thereby!  My dear friends how much more loathsome is the man who, with foul confederates, their hands stained and reeking from crimes innumerable, captures and imprisons his unsuspecting helpmeet -- she who should command his tenderest devotion-- all for the sake of extracting filthy lucre from his own father-in-law?

     My friends, I will not dwell upon the sordid details of this wretched escapade.  How they watched and waited, covertly studying their victim's habits.  How they, with the practice of foul sorcery and beguiling words did lure the innocent creature and her sworn bondman down a treacherous alley.  How the two were captured -- the bondman cut down without mercy, and the hapless bride spirited away to a filthy tenement.  No, these crimes can bear only so much light before we avert our eyes in disgust and horror.  But there was worse to come, dear friends.  For these hard-hearted villains yet possessed a sort of innocence.  They believed, for all their blasphemous oaths and swaggering boasts, that the bonds of family were stronger than the love of gold.  In this, they found themselves rudely confronted with the vile reality -- like a maiden menaced by a leering pervert from the doorway of some low establishment.  The bridegroom, slyly inquiring of his father-in-law's intentions when the abduction became known, was told in no uncertain terms that the girl's life was as dross to him -- the very fruit of his loins could have her pretty throat cut by some murderous transient before he would part with so much as a single piece of copper!"

     "My friends, this is a sorry state of affairs.  When husbands plot against their wives for base gold -- when honest goodwives are abducted in broad daylight from a busy thoroughfare!  When fathers who can well afford it refuse to pay a ransom on their own kin, which, while not an insignificant sum, was certainly within their means!  We live in depraved and sinful times, my brothers and sisters, and great will be the Sun-Lord's reckoning when such cupidity and vice run rampant!  In such times, the word of the Sun-Lord must be proclaimed from one shining Hill to the next!  Repent, oh repent, O my children, and let these Cantons ring with His praises!"

"But what can I do?' you ask.  "I am no thief-taker with net and truncheon.  I am no doughty warrior, with mail and halberd to defend against the unrighteous.  I am no pious priest, whose blessings make the bare branch bud and bloom, and whose curses wither the fruit on the vine.'  My friend, I am a simple man, these my companions all simple men, with simple gifts.  It is not force of arms we seek in our great enterprise, nor miracles -- the Sun Lord alone can provide such.  But we have travelled far, and must travel still farther to preach the good word.  And travel takes its toll in blood and sweat.  And also money.  We do not ask for much dear friends -- but consider!  To what purpose had you intended the gold in your purses?  Was it to serve some vain fancy?  Some vapid bauble to flatter and amuse and TITILLATE?  My friends, when you find yourself on your deathbeds --- and the hour comes swiftly!-- what story will your life's ledger reveal?
Think on it, my friends, think on it."

Praise His Sweet Name,

The Reverend Meriwether Chambliss, Col. (ret.) The Sultan of Uqbar's Lancers.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Look at These Album Covers. Also, Teasing Glimpses of Posts to Come.

Working on a few entries in the draft pile, including but not limited to:

- A Broad Overview of Religion on Galbaruc

- Classes on Galbaruc: Cleric - How I'm handling Clerics in my home campaign, once I get it off the ground.  I'm putting in Atheist clerics, which might be a stupid idea, but which made sense to me the other day, and fits with the way I'm envisioning the class in this setting.

- The Space-Race on Galbaruc, and what people there think about the Moon.

- The Supreme Monstrosity: The winged, 9-eyed Dinosaur Satan who is rumored to lair in a cave somewhere on Oriax, and which I stole from TOPPS' Dinosaurs Attack! bubble gum cards from the late '80's.

- The Brazen Head of Criswell, an artifact of dubious, reality-warping prophetic power

- By the way, Oriax has been relocated.  It's no longer a planet in its own right, but is a continent on a shared world setting co-owned by me, Evan Elkins, and Robert Parker.  We just figured, hey, we're each doing weird space-fantasy desert planets, planets are huge, so why not have it be the same planet.

- An Actual Play report of the Hill Cantons game the other day, according to the Colonel, whose reputation for veracity is matched only by his fearlessness in battle.

But for now, I just want to show you the cover art for this two-part album from Earth, because I think it's absolutely gorgeous.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Marc Bolan Predicted Carcosa Back in 1977!

The Witch-Man of Hackney with his familiar, Utargh-Thun the Devourer.

It's true.

From "Crimson Moon", a track from the final T. Rex album Dandy in the Underworld.

I'm a chartreuse lover
I'm an indigo man
In the black of the night
I'll hold your lily white hand
Under the crimson moon

Marc Bolan: Electric Warrior, Child of the Revolution, OSR Nostradamus.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

When GW Was Quirky and Interesting and More Interested In Making Cool Shit Than Issuing Cease- And- Desist Orders OR: The Games Workshop Staff, Circa 1987

Looking at the incredible pics Jeff put up recently from the 1983 Citadel Compendium put me on mind of one of my favorite pieces from the original (1987) version of Rogue Trader.  It's a group caricature portrait of the GW staff at the time, done up in the early gonzo form of what would become the 40k aesthetic.

To me, it's emblematic of GW's shift from the quirky, individual, and interesting to the dull, impersonal, and monolithic.  I think this comes across in every aspect of the company's output.  The artwork becomes more consistent and technically refined, but loses the odd, personal, sometimes wildly divergent work of artists like John Blanche, Ian Miller, John Sibbick (remember the punked-out dwarf hacking through the goblin on the over of WFRP 1st ed?), and Martin McKenna, who did the group portrait above and whose pencil work can be found throughout a lot of early WFRP stuff (he did all the interior illos for The Enemy Within: Death on the Reik, for instance) , resulting in a comparatively stagnant, predictable, uniform aesthetic that has more to do with maintaining "brand identity" than anything else.  White Dwarf's past awesomeness and sad metamorphosis into little more than a glossy advertising brochure is already well documented here and elsewhere.

I was going to go off on an extended diatribe on the loss of the individual voice/personal aesthetics/creative risk-taking in gaming products and publications, conformity and corporate culture, and a little pom-pom twirling on how, with the OSR and the the indie gaming scene, we're seeing a resurgence in the sort of distinctive personal blah blah blah.... but if you're reading this, you've probably already read several of those, with better writing, stronger arguments, and more exhaustive detail, so for now, I'm just going to say OH MY GOD LOOK AT THAT PICTURE OF MUTANT SPACE PUNK GAME DESIGNERS WITH RAYGUNS AND CHAINSAWS.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Well, So Much For the Whole "Frequent Updates" Thing...

Two weeks already.  I'd meant to be more diligent about updating this thing, but time seems to have slipped away from me.  Anyway, a few updates:

1.  Oriax is not dead, but it has changed shape and location.  More on that shortly.

2.  I've started showing my artwork at the ZaPow gallery here in downtown Asheville.  We're having a party/opening on Feb. 11th, and I'll have a few pieces up for the occasion.  There will be live music, free beer, and free ice cream.  Anyone who doesn't like at least one of those things is very possibly a Reptoid, or one of the aliens from They Live.  They probably also hate laughter, oral sex, monster movies, pretty sunsets, and all mammals.  Defy them and attend, at least in spirit.  Read more about the event here.

3. Hugo le Bâtard, my character in Jeff Rients' Caves of Myrddin game, has, in collaboration with Darf the Dwarf, opened up a new den of vice and iniquity on the grounds of Hugo's manor house in Cornwall.
Le Lapin Bleu is open for business, and now sports its very own blog.  Featuring an expanded set of results for Jeff's famous Carousing Table (as well as an expanded wine list and floor show entertainment), make The Blue Rabbit your FLAILSNAILS PC's #1 destination for spending your ill-gotten loot in style (and away from those busybodies at the Abbey guesthouse).