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Bits and Bobs [Feb. 8th, 2010|04:12 am]
 Ugh: I'm sick. Trying to shake off this cold. Can't sleep. This has really knocked me back from getting a number of things done.

Absolute Justice: I gave up on Smallville ages ago but we gave this episode a chance. It's a grating exploration of everything wrong with comics fandom. I want to care about these guys because they're interesting, not because some other people think they're interesting and you're dropping fanny-fan-fan hints. This is why we can't have nice things like John Stewart as the true Green Lantern. Thanks for nothin' Geoff Johns!

(Oh, I'm sure he's a nice man, but still. "You will usher in a Silver Age?" Puh-leeze.)

The only good thing is that we have Martian Manhunter back (who I do like the actor for), but that's still not enough to convince me to watch that show again.

ARRPEEGEE: I'm working on a perpetual charity fundraising RPG (all profits go to charity), but illness has really slowed me down. I'm thinking of contacting folks to make this a kind of jam project where we use electronic media to constantly improve and expand it.

Gangs of New York: Saw this almost all the way through tonight for the first time since the theatre. God, people like to reminisce about how tough it was to be Irish about 100 years+ ago, don't they? Still, it's a fun flick, even if I had trouble taking it seriously. Then again, that might be because my Irish ancestors were Loyalist anti-Fenian jerkwads. I probably have corrupt Orange blood in me.
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Blog links [Jan. 14th, 2010|07:22 am]
Bloggage you might have missed:

Metaplot 2.0

Part 1: http://www.mobunited.com/mobunitedmedia/2010/01/08/metaplot-2-0-part-one/

Part 2: http://www.mobunited.com/mobunitedmedia/2010/01/14/metaplot-2-0-part-two/

Post CES, a new technologies guide for tabletop roleplayers


Mage: The Dirty Version metaphysics

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Obligatory blog link [Jan. 3rd, 2010|12:14 am]


As you might guess, RPGs and art that challenges.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

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Fiction: Dungeon Crawl [Jan. 2nd, 2010|08:53 am]
You go to a tavern to meet a wizard, who hires you to enter a dungeon.

"That's how it's done," said Mum. "It's not a skilled trade but the coopers aren't taking anyone now, and they'll not have you as a hand at Nykmore's place after your misadventure with his Maevy."

"All right, Mum."

"And take your brother."

"What? He can get his own job!"

"Oi! You're not the only one who needs a trickle of bob to beat the winter, Hedge Verkson!"

* * *

"They built the Geovoric Phyle in 11,200s," said the wizard. "Those golems never stopped digging, not till they fell into the fires below the world. They ate rock and shat magic before our race split off from the trolls."

She scratched under the strap holding her beard in place, knocking it askew. Dahara was an Adept of the Third Entombed Senate's magic, so she needed to wear it as part of the job, the Third Deads being notorious patriarchs. She smoked a pipe too but didn't seem to mind that as much, though the barman wrinkled his nose at her whenever the air stirred.

She bought beer for Vrake and I. That was a fair sign we had the job.

"Uh, did the True Ancients ever, ah, move in?" Vrake smiled and leaned in. Apparently her beard was no obstacle to his imagination.

"No no. They were already in decline by then. The Outer Gaunts claimed the upper levels, but the Erlkon knocked them lower, past the generators on the 29th. Demon Birthers. I'll show you the wreckage on the way down. Humans didn't get there till the Fifteenth Eon. First Heroic Age, don't you know? You pay the bard's due when he comes around, so he'll sing it. Shit lads, I just need you to clean out some generators in the West Gallery. You don't need the tell of it to work. It's just like moving hay -- same pitchforks, even."

* * *

Past the old falling false ceiling called Curiosity's Bane we strolled, then through the Blaspheming Mouth, long locked in place by an old Half-Erlkon sorcerer: my  times-nine granddad, according to Mum (who said the Mouth told dirty jokes, and I'd learn them when I got married). The secret doors were thrown open, marked with knife scratches. Formerly sequestered by false walls, gears lay tumbled and stretched into the halls, unrusted thanks to sorcery but oddly curved, like a man relaxed too long in hay, so that it cradles and clutches him.

As I stepped over the Mouth's lower lip Dahara said, "Even if you avoided its bite to walk through, the death ray would get you, the lift would drop you past a Trickster's hoop and the the floor would roll you into an unholy room at the bottom. By the time your mates met you again you'd be a shambler with new eyes, hair, even sex. They'd chop you up, thinking you were a threat from the lower levels. That way, your priest couldn't bring you back. They can't resurrect little chunks of a man."

But the black nullenergy crystal was shattered, the hoop (harvested from god's bone) cracked and tossed askew, and the lift would leave us in a re-blessed shrine. I snatched a sliver of grey bone as the lift descended. "Why so bloody elaborate? Killing you, just to plot that you'd stay dead?"

"Aye." We slid forward when the lift's floor turned into a ramp -- the only working part of the trap besides the lift itself. "Remember, these places had mad minds of their own, even whispered to each other through vibrations in the rock. They knew nothing but their halls, the intruders who dared them and the maintenance organs and materials they used to repair and repel. I suppose as they saw invaders dream up new strategies, mock the old pits and springs, they developed more elaborate responses. It was their sole mental exercise: all the games they could play."

* * *

The Demon Birthers were brass blocks as high as two men. Their oval bone doors were covered with carved squiggly lines. "Runes," said Dahara. "I don't know what they mean."

She tapped a door open with her walking stick and we saw the pile of half-formed bones inside. Hell-essence, she said, drawn from the Academic Realms and shaped into demons that burst out such doors to do battle, still covered in their birthing ichor. The golems dropped generators on every level. These had long since exhausted their capacity. "It'd be beyond you anyway," she said. "Professionals finished them with slayswords and wyckbolts and Demon Smiting Boxing. Like the sagas."

We were in for a simpler job: three nearly-spent Koboldic Ireshunts: waist-high spheres of filthy silver. "Probably designed to make servants." We posted our pitchforks in front of us and waited for the signal: a banelight or other trivial spell to arouse the sensor and send them spewing out. Then it was five bob a head.

She took her place and cast. Blue light and a few sparks.

We saw the first ones drop from an unwinding orifice with steaming wet skin and the small screams of newborns, hoarse with monstrosity and warped jaws. Soft horns deformed against the old stone. We turned our pitchforks over to thrust and thrust as all the evil congealed and shambled forth, and we kept a steady, stomping beat like working men.
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Christmas Music! [Dec. 24th, 2009|10:54 pm]

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Shatner's Face (Short Fiction, SF-Horror-y) [Dec. 23rd, 2009|04:35 am]
“I’m going into space with Shatner’s face.”

“Bullshit. No, wait – you’re going to get a mask made?” Barry checked the edges of his: a latex Charlton Heston-Brad Pitt fusion thing.

“I mean his actual face. I’ve got a line on it. During the Panic, some nerds froze him so he wouldn’t cross over. It’ll blow my savings to get it but what the hell, eh? I’ll be gone for two years anyway.”

“Doesn’t that mean you could, uh . . .?”

“Nah, some rich asshole in Oakland has dibs on his brain. I’ll make do with my own cheesy impressions.”

“Chang’s not going to like it. It makes the whole mission look like a joke.”

“Are you kidding? Don’t you want to see Captain Kirk on Mars?”

* * *

The party ran long, as most do now that we've lost the knack for sleep. I said goodbye to Barry and went home on foot, but even though I stuck to the alleys they spotted me. Shamblers. They weren’t violent, just persistent.


It’s not their fault. There just aren’t enough brains to go around. When the Panic hit, some of us were better, luckier predators. Jordan Jacek (God knows I changed that after the revolution – I don’t remember being that person anyway) got bit, didn’t get eaten, and managed to scarf down enough brains to graduate from shamblerhood. Swallow the brains, swallow the person; their little fragments knock together and give us rough identities.

My frags still argue.

Back in the day, Jordan ate a really smart physicist. Now I’m so valuable they’ve scheduled me for a Neuro-Plastic Learning session the day after tomorrow.

* * *

Lewontin was the tech that day. He’s thorough; we had to watch interviews with the breathers. I know pure NPL doesn’t always pass everything along, but seeing them talk means you can’t dig in without thinking of exactly what you’re doing. Frags scream in your head.

At least I got a better idea of how important this mission is. Two of the breathers were farm-grown twentysomething savants, but one was an old, bona fide pre-Panic astronaut. If they were willing to lose her they must really want this thing to work.

In case you’re wondering, the actual NPL session tells you nothing about the source’s age, sex or anything else. They’re just slices of grey hard boiled egg stuff in what looks like a bowl of borscht.
* * *

I wanted some kind of silver cryonic capsule, with Shatner’s face reverently spread over an artificial scaffold. I got a dirty beer cooler. I drove that thing right to the shop.

The body guys and I designed the procedure to turn me into judo-chopping, gold-shirted Shatner. Shatner Prime. It didn’t cost as much as you’d think. The space program paid for silicone plastination. I put it off before, because changing a plas-job after the fact never works the way you want it to.

The formaldehyde/heat regimen left my skin a wrinkled mess and I still had some rot from the early days, so they discarded it from the neck down, except for my feet and hands. My frags twitched; I thought I felt pain. Once I concentrated on my still heart I felt like a fool. It went away.

I went for painted latex replacement skin, fake nipples and all. (Don’t tell Barry!) But that had to wait until after plastination, when they’d cement and seal it over everything. They took my breasts off and started rearranging the fat to create a more Shatneresque waist (thicker, but not too thick!) and shoulders. They even built up the triceps after staring at photo references.

“It’s just for mapping,” said Clevon. He was the plas artist. “The process replaces your fat with selected polymers. Vacuum sucks out all the moisture, so you’ll be left with the lipid cell structure, but we can make it as firm as your real muscles.”

They spent the most time on the face, bringing a youthful poise to its flesh. A living Shatner never would have survived the procedure.

“Do you want to attach it now, or after plastination? Afterward is safer.”


I felt ten points of penetration as the staples went in.

They showed me a mirror. It was a young actor’s death mask.

Then vacuum, like the journey to Mars. We don’t need air or pressure, just something to fill our empty spaces along the way.
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Back on the Mobunited Blog [Dec. 22nd, 2009|10:01 pm]
RPG articles

You Can’t Do That in RPGs: a History


Fudging, Fiat and the Regulation of Desire
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Avatar: The Look, Poisoned Jesus and Colonial Empathy [Dec. 19th, 2009|11:50 am]
This is my Avatar review. It will probably have spoilers.

Yes, it's worth seeing, in the theatre, in 3DCollapse )
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More on RPG E-Books [Dec. 6th, 2009|04:55 pm]
What a "book" might look like:

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New Blog Post [Dec. 2nd, 2009|03:53 pm]
I talk about post-tabletop RPGs.

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