Monday, August 29, 2016

And Another

And a third session.

People of Interest:
Dom Poe, a strong and cruel brute.
Aria Noir, a tiny thief who wants to take over the world.
Alice Lepidoptera, a runaway princess of some faroff jungle monarchy.

People Met:
Brady Katz, a friendly ginger bartender.

Gains:
One wooden lockbox, containing:
A picture of Jenny Bones and the mysterious assailant, dated five years ago.
A latex nose.
Pearl earrings and a pearl necklace
Two notes saying "I'm sorry", "It's okay."

One cleaver and one boning knife.
Files on Zitia Chrime and Fernando Du Sade.
Really cool fashion!

Losses:
The assailant's fingers.

After Aria tried to fix Dom's damaged shoulder with vodka before Brady intervened with proper medical equipment, they decided to figure out exactly what is inside the mysterious wooden lockbox they stole from Jenny Bones in the first session; it turned out to be a lot of suggestive stuff. A nose that's obviously Jenny's, an old photograph of her and someone wearing the assailant's distinctive spiked boots, money with attached apologies. Sinister. The party felt temporarily bad about stealing a disfigured woman's prosthetics, then they moved on with their lives.

What followed was a lot of shopping in faux-Goodwill and faux-Cabellas. Aria ended up trading in her ruined cape for "a modest shawl in gold-trimmed black with matching veiled hat, leg armor done in dull steel: sabatons with false clawed toes and a talon heel; thighs, calves honeycombed with metal hexagons"; Alice went for "a flouncy plunging collar and sleeves of delicate periwinkle lace over a sort of silvered chainmail leotard;" Dom got pants and shoes, keeping the bar apron he got.
Then they got weapons: a recurve bow and archery training set, a switchblade, and lead-lined gloves, respectively.

After shopping, they wandered back to The Yellow Sign bar. The party then broke up to do different tasks.

Alice worked the investigation angle, actively listening for local rumor that might be pertinent to their investigation. This kind of worked.
A duo who got increasingly drunk were one-upping one another about unsettling body parts: the first was claiming they saw someone throw fingers into the bay while a girl in red ran away, while the second said he saw a bloated body with a face that had collapsed in on itself and was covered in smoking sores. Alice asked a little more about this, found out that the guy saw the body before dawn, and also saw an ambulance that was the wrong shape showing up before he could get a call out retrieve the body.

Aria worked the criminal angle, going after people's money. She flirted with a dude first, then subtly picked wallets on her way to the women's restroom. She got a couple hundred dollars total, four credits cards, and a driver's license. She apparently didn't feel bad at all stealing from an activist.

Dom worked the employment angle, going to the bar's co-owner Yan and mostly listening to the guy talk while getting a job application. It was revealed that Dom does in fact have a last name, and that last name is Poe.

The party then reconvened after spending hours in the bar and only buying one drink, much to the non-Brady Katz bartender's increasing impatience. They left and ended up getting an inexpensive hostel room to stay at, using a stolen credit card to pay for about two weeks.
Alice decided to get up early at dawn to take a winding walk through the streets of The Ward of Sleeping Fish. It was a beautiful dawn, spoiled only by the fact she went right by Viper House collections and tried to follow an agent who went out into the early morning city.

The agent then ran back into Viper House after recognizing Alice from being around the day before, around when that false bomb went off. She fled back into the collections house, yelling about spies, and Alice was left with no resort but to go back to her friends. Aria, however, was intrigued by the possibility of working for another collections agency, decided to go to the only non-residential space on Cobra Street: a liquor store.
Any mention of collections agencies greatly upset the salesperson, who asserted everyone in the business was ruthless and a bunch of assholes, but said he could get her a meeting later.

While the session was winding down, with both lodging and employment accounted for, Alice wanted to check for feasible places that could be the 'rooftops' mentioned by her assailant. Reasonably the party thought a belltower in a really old church was likely, and went there before being stopped by a croaky-voiced individual.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Ew

In a town center, off a side street just barely around the corner from bustling productivity, there is a house at the end of a tiny alleyway. This house is huge, rambling, creaking, made of clay bricks and cyclopian stones and huge heavy tiles and dark-stained wood panels. It has a hundred windows and two dozen chimneys, three front doors and a veranda that counts as a street on its own. It has doors that go into other buildings, but only open one way. It is the size of a whole district but does not take up significant space. Its belltower blocks out the sun in daytime and the moon in nighttime.

At night this house is lit up like a furnace. Cats bask on its roofs and windowsills for warmth; moths flutter around its chimneys, chasing light; a corps of Kanalsknechts in waterproof oilskins slosh in the house’s waterways; twice as many staff in clay masks maintain the house’s integrity. Everything smells like woodsmoke and coalsmoke and ash.

The house takes in three whole carriages of food every dusk, and exports a dozen tightly-sealed steel barrel every dawn. These drums are sold at a midnight auction, always to the same twelve people. Subsequently, the barrels disappear.

There is exactly one map detailing the house’s layout. It goes unused and sun-faded in a glass case in the vast attic.

The owners of this house are nine smoke-sorcerers of ill repute:

Haunt, may or may not be Forgiven in disguise. Unforgivable asshole, fair and blonde and blue-eyed, hands sewn together at the palms in a mockery of sanctity—this does not impair them, they have a bubbling belt of flesh at their hips that can form limbs and swells whenever they speak. It may burst one day. Dotes on Apathe in hopes of kindling love.

Isolat, deceptively quiet. Keeps constant sheets of smoke underneath their skin and between their body parts, able to fold themselves into essentially taking up no space. No one can explain how this actually works. Missing their left-hand middle finger, their right big toe, both their ears, portions of their scalp, and at least half of their teeth at any given time; they are wagering these parts against Toothchild in a high-stakes bet.

Forgiven, may or may not be Haunt in disguise. Very particular smoke-sorcerer, all kinds of sustaining wards and scented bandages to cover rotting putrid fetid body-horror and a very active brain. Their smoke is their cells and every instance of sorcery strips away more tissue layers, but they have inconceivable prescience over what that smoke experiences as an extension of themselves.

Toothchild, all smog-oozing sores and huge pores and a bare back like a toad’s. Youngest but the most hateful. May split their limbs into thinner, weaker ones; the same goes for their eyes and their teeth which are too numerous to count and crowd all the way down into the child’s guts. Knows every possible language, is very smug about this talent. Is wagering their heart against Isolat in a high-stakes bet.

Brine, like a wet cat made to walk on its hind legs: bandy-legged, stringy, glaring. Crusted over with foul stinking salt, eyes red-rimmed. Stolen mouths and throats adorn their forearms and talk all in unison and belch heavy clouds of smoke as a medium for sorcery. Survives only on a diet of tears—in desperate times saltwater will suffice.

Bittern Bitten, sold their peace of mind at a bargain price, then sold their future for a premium. Routinely writes up extensive information about themselves only to promptly burn it in a cage in their lungs; this is extremely convenient since the ink is purloined magic and the information itself confusing for the things tracking them down. Has running bets with Spittle.

Spittle, carries a lantern made from his own skull and carries his eyes and desiccated brains in a free hand. Stomach enchanted to carry oil rather than gastric acid, able to expectorate messy gouts of flame. Has the best memory out of all the smoke-sorcerers but extorts favors from them in exchange.

Apathe, who sleeps and in that sleep conjures up hopes in the form of oily, pungent smoke. These hopes inevitably take the approximate shape of Apathe themselves, forget their purpose, and continue maintaining the sleeping body that dreamed them. Fairly harmless.

Heckser, the most terrible among them all. Majordomo of the Lodge of Death, dabbles in poor decision-making and excessive drug consumption. Is actually a hollowed out skin filled with a stew of different smoke sorceries; this has led to Heckser becoming bizarre, present in different forms in different places. A sort of ur-magic user, an essential notion present in smoke itself.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Unclean Things

I write about the devil a lot.

THE TREE
In the approximate center of a flat heath or bog, there is a tree. This tree is bent and coiled, growing down towards the ground then upwards again, strangled with a persistent leafless creeper that visibly grows from inside the tree. Its bark peels off in patches and dissolves under sunlight; its flowers are delicate pearly-pink and pop open from their buds every gentle night; its roots are deep and tangled and can be found all across the heath in knots piled over themselves.

Beneath this tree is The Devil. 

The tree was recently planted as a flowering stake in The Devil's neck, pinning the creature into a hasty grave while it was being buried alive. The Devil is now broken up and scattered along the tree's roots in a dozen dozen forever-rotting pieces, leaking ambient sin instead of blood or lymph and getting waterlogged with acidified groundwater. The Devil is still very much alive, but immobile.

As a consequence of containing The Devil, the tree's seeds and trunk extrude a pungent vegetable oil if pressed down on; in fact, the whole tree’s interior is spongy, sodden, almost mushy. No seeds from the tree will grow anywhere, and branches cut from it will putrefy in hours, but the oil remains stable.

There is a family who live on the edge of this heath or bog, who go down to the tree and take its oil and mix it with caustic potash burned from the bog-salt, who make soap by the pound.

THE SOAP
The soap is plain, scentless, vaguely blue, and lathers nicely when used. It has a mottled texture like large pores, or marrow.

Washing with it physically cleanses you from past sin: a whole layer of skin blisters, hardens, goes opaque and splits away from your body in a solid layer. Tiny, worm-like fibers on the inside of the skin writhe and die as they are exposed, physical filth crystalizes and freezes in bubbles on the surface.


The soap making family insists that these skins must be torn apart with sharpened salt and burned, as they will move of their own free will—notably, always back towards the tree, to become agents of The Devil and commune only as sin made physical can. One skin has already done this, endlessly scratching at the ground to break roots apart. The family calls it Toad, for its scuttling movements, cramped body, and the layers upon layers of cauliflower growths that cover it. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

And Another Thing

I have a bad habit of being too taxonomic in my thinking, while also being very wishy-washy and vague. I like to go for 'feeling' when making a thing, pin down why that feeling does what it does, and give as much explanation to back that feeling up as possible. Sometimes I go too deep into trying to justify why things feel the way they do.

But usually I just run solely for feel and a little explanation.

It's why Mister Pig is very obviously a shallow composite between the biblical demon Legion, and a particular gif of a silent French film from 1907. Because pigs and swine have so much negative cultural association in the modern day—being dirty, disgusting, greedy, used as a negative term for police or capitalists or nasty men—to me, that gives a blatant reference to demons a sufficiently nasty feeling.

You've got the biblical demon and its own possible reference to Roman occupation, the modern baggage of pigs being horrible and associated with exploitation and brutality, and the below image all coming together as a thing called Mister Pig. The name is so plain as to seem innocent, I think. So overall Mister Pig is gross and comes across as gross just as a concept.

From 'Le Cochon Danseur'.
I also happen to think giant swine with fangs, the ability to speak, and coiled vipers for a tongue is also a cool thing to see described. The knowledge of how biologically wrong and weird and gross such a being is has the right feel, because it's got that visceral knowledge that pigs and snakes are both real animals even as Mister Pig is not real.

So it's taking known things and making them more unknown.

A thing that does this badly is Genasi, and the aesthetic and feel of Genasi. Daniel Dean over at Basic Red  said it better about how Genasi are taking the unknown and making them known, or at least getting the feel of a creature inherently tied to some element entirely wrong.

The art in particular annoys me, with most examples having fire Genasi have flames in the place of hair, or some art just having them as bald humans with glowing marks on their bodies. And that's not taking the known human form and making it unknown and strange, but just grafting fire onto a human model without thinking of how extensively biology would be changed by being partly made of a combustion reaction.

Like, think of how desiccated they would look, or how melty, or how they wouldn't have skin because meat tissue would literally cook unless the fire was cool or manipulatable. Maybe they wouldn't have fire on their heads near their brains, but across their backs, or maybe their heads are hollow and they have no faces but instead large holes to spit damp ashes and smoke, and their brains are somewhere else in their bodies or spread out down their spines. Because we know how fire interacts with meat and a meat head covered in latent flames just doesn't capture the feel correctly. Have a fire Genasi design built on how we know to contain fire, or feed fire.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Progress

So another session!

People of Interest:
Dom, a strong and cruel brute.
Aria Noir, a tiny figure who wants to take over the world.
Alice Lepidoptera, a princess of some faroff jungle monarchy.

People Met:
Brady Katz, a friendly ginger bartender.

Gains:
One wooden lockbox.
A bag of femurs, still bloody.
One cleaver and one boning knife.
One bottle of vodka.
Files on Zitia Chrime and Fernando Du Sade.

Losses:
Aria's fancy cloak.
Dom's pants and Alice's dress.
The assailant's fingers.

Now where we left off Alice had been kidnapped, and Dom and Aria had fled and come back. After a short discussion, it was planned for Dom to go into the sewers with knives to pursue the assailant while Aria conferred with the woozy and worried secretary about the locked room they tried to open last session. It turned out to be records for Viper House.

Alice awoke and feigned unconsciousness for a while, observing that the assailant had a head wound and was stumbling, and attempted to escape to little effect. The assailant replied to 'not even try it'.

Dom headed into the sewers. Aria and the secretary conferred about why the records were locked—because Jenny Bones is secretive about it—and Aria explained that she needed to know if the assailant was possibly a former employee. So the secretary got the key with a great deal of nervousness.

At this point Alice actually successfully made an escape, only to be overtaken by the assailant; they explained why they were capturing her at all: since she interrupted the task the assailant was given, Alice would be taken as a sort of substitute to the rooftops. Mysterious rooftops.

In the records, Aria discovered that out of thirty files from previous employees, only three fit the profile of someone being over six feet to approximate the assailant's height. Of the three were:

  • Fernando Du Sade, who left most recently, due to having lost two fingers to a heavy door.
  • Sal'anglii Chancre, who left due to old age, being seventy-five years old at retirement.
  • Zitia Chrime, who left the longest time ago, due to 'other' reasons. A long postscript explained that Zitia reported constantly being stared at by a mysterious person from atop rooftops.
Thinking that Sal'anglii would be both too old and the incorrect gender to be the assailant, Aria stole Ferdinando and Zitia's records and left Viper House. Back in the sewers, Dom's direction actually took him to the south bay rather than the north wharf, so he scrambled back up to the street and passed by two neighboring houses who appeared to be having an insult-off via signs. Dom also abandoned his pants and shoes at this point.

While Alice and the assailant approached another way out of the sewers, Aria went shopping for vodka, bandages, and painkillers along the streets near the wharf, correctly assuming that the assailant would come out towards the wharf.

Alice then bit his two front fingers off, running off as he screamed in pain and drew the second large crowd of the day. She also screamed for help, which came in the form of one Brady Katz, who threw himself into the water but was otherwise fairly direct about helping Alice run away. However, the assailant had disappeared.

Alice—covered in blood, water, and sewage—then made friends with Brady—covered in water and running mascara—through sheer force of charisma and friendliness. Brought together by the crowds and screaming for help, Alice, Aria, and Dom gathered back together as a group. Aria found that the assailant had likely fled back into the sewers and left his dismembered fingers in the wharf.

With some awkwardness, Brady offered them some respite at the bar he tended and ran, the Yellow Sign. The party took of this offer gladly, and gathered in a booth to decide what to do next.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Here We Go

Well I ran an impromptu game and the campaign is starting up already.

People of Interest:
Dom, a strong and cruel brute.
Aria Noir, a tiny figure who wants to take over the world.
Alice Lepidoptera, a princess of some faroff jungle monarchy.

Gains:
One wooden lockbox.
A bag of femurs, still bloody.
One cleaver and one boning knife.

Losses:
Aria's fancy cloak.
Alice.

So these three gathered in a waiting room in the Viper Street Collections House, each having applied for employment as agents there. During the waiting period Aria sat in a corner and knocked over a potted plant, Alice tried to make friends with the plant, and Dom decided to punch out the room's single lightbulb.

This naturally alarmed the secretary who came in to check, but the partly collectively brushed her off. Not wanting to attract further attention, they barged into the office of one Jenny Bones, the hiring agents and main operative of the Viper House.

Jenny went into the spiel about responsibilities of collections agents, but began floundering when an unexpected detonation went off somewhere on the lower floors. Alice took this opportunity to see what was up; Aria took this opportunity to steal the lock-box on Jenny's desk and hurl it through the window. While Aria and Alice fled to adjoining neighborhood rooftops, Dom began demanding to know what was going on even as their prospective employer was ranting about how they were all spies.

Smoke began to fill the building, and the party regrouped in front of Viper House through different routes. Dom took the lead in investigating what was going on and rushed headlong towards a locked door to break it open, while Aria prepared an impromptu facemask and Alice decided to bring along the worried secretary by managing to win her over completely by the power of friendship alone.

While other employees of Viper House fled, the party went down into the basement where all the smoke was coming from. It was revealed that even in when confronted by thick smoke and the prospect of coughing her lungs out, Alice doesn't crawl anywhere. Dom then ran into a mysterious masked person with armor-piercing sabatons.

When questioned, the masked person explained that their presence was intended as a simple task of espionage and vandalism; unfortunately, since the party had observed them, the task became more violent.

There was a fight. Dom got a toe-spike through the shoulder in addition to his fistful of lightbulb glass and Alice was quickly knocked unconscious after trying to stab the masked person with a splintery bone.

The other two fled—leaving Alice and the secretary to their fates—towards a butchery across the street to borrow knives, cleavers, and fresh bones, and rethink their tactics. By this time a fire brigade had appeared and the party joined them going back down into the basement to face their assailant and rescue Alice.

Neither Alice nor the mysterious masked person were found, though the secretary was found unconscious. However, Aria discovered the remains of a homemade smoke bomb and a large open drainpipe in the basement bathrooms, suggesting as to where Alice had been taken.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Birds Superimposed Over The Moon

Check it out here are some more cool competencies from your favorite horrible people.

The Fuckbird
  1. By reaching your hand up towards the sky, a bird of some local species will land on your hand. It can carry one small object and place it in a location you can clearly describe, but is not necessarily more intelligent or perceptive than a normal bird.
  2. By staring at someone in your direct line-of-sight and rolling your eyes back, you afflict them with a sense of falling from a great height for as many turns as you have Vim.
  3. If you lightly polish any surface, it becomes incredibly shiny, reflective, and attention-grabbing. The surface cannot be larger than roughly the size of your palm, and the effect ends when another person touches it.
  4. You may easily remove an eye and place it anywhere for as many hours as you have Charisma. Your eye being outside of your body does not affect your balance whatsoever, but not replacing it after the time limit is up causes permanent severing.
In exchange for these competencies, The Fuckbird will accept:
Your face,
Someone else's face,
Maps and atlases and stellar maps,
Gliders and hot-air balloons.

It will also send you to define, map out, and reconnoiter known and unknown locales in The Dream, as well as report on patterns you observe.

Goodnight Moon
  1. By passing your palm over your eyes at someone without blinking, you induce one to two seconds of micro-sleep on them.
  2. By looking at someone’s face between a circled thumb and index finger you afflict them with constant, feverish nightmares. The next time they fall asleep, they will be unable to awaken until you yourself sleep.
  3. By pressing your thumb to someone’s throat, you take air from their lungs; this requires you maintain a hold.
  4. You can expectorate or weep as much black ink as saliva or tears.
In exchange for these competencies, Goodnight Moon will accept:
Penitence,
Peace of any kind,
Stargazing spots,
Lullabies.

They will also want you to not talk to them. At all.