Thursday, September 29, 2016

Same Same Same

Literally just the old 'law contrasted with chaos' shtick.

Anyhow.

Faith, and by extension God, and by extension Law and Organization and Domination, is represented by and often takes the form of a swarm of flies.
God is the Saturn Devouring His Child, God is the He-figure without being a patriarch or progenitor of other deities or even male-gendered, God is the penultimate dictator who craves for everything to be under his control, God is the uniform swarm operating with a collective will and singular purpose, God wants to be everything so as to keep everything in order.
Faith is the atomized culture where the individual is illuminated like nuclear light, contributing to a glow alongside but separate but grouped to infinite other individuals.

People who have faith can do some of the following things:
A prayer to consume spirits with nuclear flame.
An invocation to call swarming, biting flies.
A chant to disorient everyone under the sun.
A chant to still movement and halt heat.
A hymn to imitate another living person.

Doubt, and by extension Lucifer, and by extension Awareness and Indecision and Agony, is represented by and often takes the form of a colorless white head with a hole where a face should be.
Lucifer is the fever-dream of morals and ethics, Lucifer is the Neuter-figure at a distance and never fully believed, Lucifer is the gentle Superego that craves nothing but well-reasoned balance, Lucifer is the monolith with a hundred thousand sides to explore and get lost inside, Lucifer wants everything so as to know what things are and what things aren't.
Doubt is the collective self-aware infinite that mutually supports itself because there is nothing but itself because all things are it.

People who doubt can do some of the following things:
A dance to drive spirits into frenzy.
A compact to link distant locations together.
A song to dissolve memories into liquid.
A rite to inflict endless terror on a person.
A ritual to hide oneself from any detection.

Disbelief politely and surely says fuck all to the above options.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Let's Take A Ride

Fifth session, and what a session it has been.

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.
Sariell, an extremely fashionable recluse.

People Met:
Brady Katz, a friendly ginger bartender.
Father Felux, a blind priest with terrible laryngitis.
Sister Miche, an absolutely huge French muscle nun.
Jackson De La Sangue, smug and loud leader of Cobra House.
Zitia Chrime, tall, long haired woman who knows something.

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:
Any sense of safety.

After Sariell received a text about where to meet Zitia, she actually calls the hostel and tells them the when, which is nine at night since she works late.

This gives the party quite a lot of time to go about their business for the next eight or so hours. Alice decides to make proper arrows for her bow with the sharp pile of bones they have while Dom and Aria prepare to go to their respective job interviews; even so, there's a consensus that Sariell should remain at the hostel to make sure Alice doesn't get into trouble, since she wants to also investigate where that corpse disappeared to later.

First, Dom goes down to the Yellow Sign bar and sees Brady Katz again, who is happy to see him. Yan Selken, who in the light looks like a neater version of Danny Devito, is also pretty happy to have a new bouncer on the premises. It all goes over very quickly and easily, with Yan talking a lot.
Afterwards, Dom reluctantly returns his borrowed apron to Brady and wanders around the side streets and back-alleys of the Serpent's Nest neighborhood. He comes across a wellspring-fountain that people seem to collect water from.

Second, Aria ventures up to Cobra House, early to the event but very sure of herself. Behind its liquor store facade she is sent up to a fourth-floor office complex, which has a lot more windows than Viper House and is in much better shape. A man with a long braided beard and thick eyelashes greets her in a pleasant, deep voice; he introduces himself as Jackson De La Sangue, owner and leader of the collections house, and asks if she is Aria Noir.
They head into his office while he prepares coffee and asks her about herself, why she wants to get into the collections business, if she knows anyone in the city. Aria reveals she's very confident in her abilities as a thief, blatantly, and after some cajoling admits she did interview at Viper House but that interview went very poorly. Jackson gets excited at this, and disappears for about fifteen minutes. During this time Aria goes through his papers—commissions and jobs—and sees that something called the 'Slow Asp' has been stolen and popping up all along the seaboard, and might show up in Croixsing. It's worth ten thousand dollars as a job, and Aria keeps that information.

Jackson comes back with a large mug saying 'best boss', a smug expression, and the company of one Jenny Bones. She very unhappily expresses that Aria seems to show up only when her life goes to shit.

While this is happening, Sariell leaves Alice to her own devices and wanders up and down the Ward of The Sleeping Fish's streets. He's looking for weapons to round out what the rest of the party is carrying.
So too, Dom finds that aside from being a free source of clean water, nothing much up is going on with the fountain, so he goes back to the hostel.

Back in Cobra House, Jenny gets laughed at by Jackson as the extent of how badly Aria fucked up her day. Jenny lets slip that her secretary is gone from the middle of her lunch, food still on her plate, and that she suspects Aria for taking her over to Cobra House. Jackson says he knows nothing and wouldn't want to intrude on the 'little thing' Jenny and her secretary have going on. Aria doesn't know either but suggests the secretary left because Jenny is a horrible person.
Overall the whole thing sucks for Jenny, but both she and Jackson agree it would be good for the competition between the two houses to have a possible "spy" visibly work for one. It turns out that the collection house conflict is mostly for business and mostly artificial. Then Aria gets the job.

The party reconvenes at their hostel and talks a bit of the jobs they got and what they need to do next.   Aria reveals that the secretary is missing, Alice thinks it has something to do with her kidnapping and the larger mystery of the rooftop watchers, Sariell has only a vague idea of what's going on, and Dom doesn't care.
With a little time before they have to meet Zitia, they all decide to get new phones and minutes to consolidate their communication network. Sariell also buys a collapsible bo staff. However, when they all try to purchase the phones, none of their stolen credit cards work. It appears that the original owners have all cancelled their plans, leaving the party with little money. They flee, get drinks at the Yellow Sign bar to pursue more information about the corpse that washed up, but find nothing. Brady Katz is nice, though.

Then, as a whole they realize that none of them have eaten anything all day, but remember they do know about one place to eat—the Soft White Underbelly. They go there and eat and wait for Zitia to show up.
There is a quiet few hours and the characters begin to actually talk to each other, sharing a little history. It turns out Sariell, before he lived in the church, was at an orphanage most of his life. Aria admits to a hard life in a shitty town called Greyhall. Alice conceals that she is a runaway princess. Night falls on Croixsing quietly and slowly, and Aria leaves the party—to pursue information about the Slow Asp.

In the night, she follows someone very deeply involved in a phone call, mentioning that something called the "Slothful Snake" was being shown at a tiny church on the water, and that Deep would indeed vouch for him. It's mentioned that the phone call is using a voice modulator.

At the Soft White Underbelly, a sedan pulls up as Sariell receives a text telling him to look outside. They pile inside, Sariell in the backseat lined with folded clothes and bedding, Alice and Dom in the shotgun seat with a cooler at their feet. Their driver is a tall woman with longer hair than anyone has ever seen; one Zitia Chrime.

Aria, certain of her suspicions, trips the man into an alley and threatens him with her knife to tell her about the Slothful Snake. He tearfully tells her it's an exclusive film with a group of friends, who want to know he's legit. She guts him, and takes his phone while he lays dying in a pile of blood.

Alice asks if Zitia lives in the car, or if she wants to take a drive. Zitia pulls a gun on Alice, and affirms that she does in fact want to 'take a ride'.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

We Agressed a Priest

Fourth 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.
Sariell, an extremely fashionable recluse.

People Met:
Brady Katz, a friendly ginger bartender.
Father Felux, a blind priest with terrible laryngitis.
Sister Miche, an absolutely huge French muscle nun.

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 respect of a priest.

Starting immediately from the previous session's ending, the party is interrupted from going into the back rooms of a tall, grey-spired church by a terribly hoarse voice. This turns out to be one Father Felux, a very small bearded white guy with drifting milky-white eyes, who just is a little sick and does not normally sound like hell itself. Alice introduces herself and explains that she just wants to see the top of the bell tower.

Meanwhile, the sole person in the church aside from the religious staff, Sariell, is quietly praying for his fashion. Aria stealthily goes over to him and they have insulting banter about his fashion, her height, the nature of fashion in relation to expressing the soul, and how terrible some comebacks sound. Aria then goes back to the party just as Father Felux says he will go back to get the bell-ringer to show them up.

When Sariell himself goes up to confront the party, asking why Dom and Alice can't control their child, Aria pulls her knife on him. There is a tense moment. Father Felux then comes back and exclaims that the church is a house of God, and demands to know what Aria intends to do. This kind of defuses the situation, and while Alice, Dom, and Sariell are led up to the belltower top by an absolutely hugely muscled nun with a soft French accent, Aria just sulks in the pews.

The silent sulking goes on until Felux decides to sit beside her and ask if something in her life is bothering her. She replies she's completely fine, which the priest does not believe at all, offering if she ever needs anyone to listen, the church's inhabitants are there for her. He then goes off to fill the holy water.

Meanwhile, Alice has been using her high vantage point to look around the city for any suspicious rooftop personages. She finds none but notices that a bald person that may be Jenny Bones is standing outside Viper House, that there is a mansion on the far eastern part of the city on a steep hill, that the church's roof itself has missing tiles as if people were climbing up on it. Sariell asks why exactly Dom is on his journey; Dom responds that Aria ruined his job interview in the first session. Then everyone starts talking about the weird stuff that has been going on, like the 'house fire' at Viper Street, or the mysterious body that washed up in the southern wharf and disappeared later. Exactly the same body Alice heard from a drunk fisherman last night, though she doesn't mention this publically.

Alice then wonders about where Zitia Chrime actually lives, and in a moment of strange synchronicity, Aria rushes up the tower while they bring Sariell up to speed on their bizarre adventures and look up as to where Chrime could be found: turns out she was listed as living on 171 Street of The Squid.

Alice is way more interested in the mansion, and insists the party goes there. After a meaningful departure from the church—we learn that Sariell has been the only visitor to the church in five whole years and decides to pursue his fashion—everyone goes to the mansion and meet a gardener who lets slip that the place is owned by one Mr. Deep and family, whose assistant has an awful name. Like Chrime.

Deciding to call her directly, the party goes back to their hostel and calls her once; at the mention of Visper House she yells she doesn't know them, but after a text insisting they know something was up and just want to help they're told to meet her at a cafe called the Soft White Underbelly.

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.