Hell's Landscape

You might recognize the pic above from Hellraiser II. It's always stuck with me. Brings to mind the work of Escher and Borges. Looks like a lonely place. You might wander for days without seeing another living (or unliving) thing.

Why Ggmlk Is Excited About THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012)

We might as well do this in bullet-format:
  • An actor that actually seems like a real-life Peter Parker to me. Tobey Maguire has a slow, sort of stumbling persona on screen, and Spidey is the personification of quick-wittedness. It was a poor casting IMHO.
  • Mechanical web-shooters. Check this video for Andrew Garfield's confirmation of this aspect. I won't get into the utter wrongness of Spider-Man's shooters being portrayed as organic. It's like turning the Punisher into Bushwacker.
  • Emma Stone is way hot.


Chemmusod, the Salt Crystal Waste

Among the oddments Vasse Ma displayed for trade in the presence of Avullu the Eyeless and his cohort Gmoss were three captive dominions contained in cubes of ethereal amber. In his impish fashion Gmoss suggested a game set within Vasse Ma's third dominion, the ice-like salt waste labeled Chemmusod. A pretty, shimmering expanse which no doubt evoked Gmoss' child-like fascination with shiny things. Avullu eventually agreed to participate, and then all fell silent in order to to open the door to Chemmusod within their minds. 

Hypnotic blackness undulated before Avullu's mind's eye as he traveled to the shimmering angle that marked the way to Chemmusod. He intuited that Vasse Ma and Gmoss were beside him. The former appeared to be a rotating tetrahedron composed entirely of corded snakes, whereas the latter resembled a cyclopic eel that wriggled through the vapors with erratic glee. Avullu had become a shadowy mote, coursing through the astral medium with blinding speed. To avoid the bodies of passing travelers took all the trio's cunning and skill. These strangers were everywhere in a wealth of grotesque disguises. Some might have been wizards. Others were likely demons that had consumed the minds of wizards and made use of their mental devices.

*  *  *
  • A nearly endless tract of crystalline wilderness ravaged by destructive electrical storms
  • Inhabited by a variety of flora and fauna
  • Such as the wurmlikes, odd creatures that never cease to grow over the course of their lifetimes, which can be aeons-long. They resemble reptiles with insectoid features, such as faceted eyes and varied proboscises. Wurmlikes hatch from eggs no larger than those of a robin. With a steady supply of food and sufficient time to integrate it these tiny creatures become towering behemoths. The largest of these scrape the outer aethers as they roam Chemmusod, always searching for more food and drink to expand their girth. The whole purpose of the wurmlike's existence is to acquire more grazing land, which is controlled and distributed by the largest and eldest of their kind, Bahamut.
*  *  *


The Hobbit: Production Video #3

Cool vid, but I have to wonder what exactly Saruman and Galadriel are doing on the set.


Fritz Leiber reads CAS' "A Night in Malneant"

Another arcane bit of audio from CthulhuWho1's Blog.

Clark Ashton Smith

Fritz Leiber

Eighties Renaissance

This track is from Washed Out's 'High Times' cassette (2009). Yes. Cassette.

Scooby-Doo vs Biker Orcs?? [S01E15]

Did I mention that I love this show? Because I do.

Hot Elf Chica x2 / Deus Machina Demonbane


So anyone ever heard of this Demonbane franchise? It's a goofy eroge that combines elements stripped directly from the stories of H. P. Lovecraft with mecha (powered by grimoires, no less) and saucy anime ladies. The setting is Arkham City, a post-industrial version of HPL's town. The central conflict -- from what I can tell so far -- pits the folks operating the Demonbane mecha against the corrupt sorcerers of the Black Lodge, headed up by a guy who calls himself the Master Therion. The game was adapted into a twelve-episode anime that manages to up the goofball ante somehow. As an example of how Lovecraft's work has permeated disparate forms of media Deus Machina Demonbane is quite interesting. As entertainment it's only a little painful. From what I understand the game is available on PS2 if you can read Japanese. I have the recently translated PC version.

Yes, the shoggoth is named Dunsany and that might be its penis.


Noise du Jour

Fifth Era - #17A1 (Remixed by Capslock)

Legowelt - Equestrian 707

Diamond Vampires - Hungry Wives


The Hidden Peril of Sub-Racing

It occurs to me as I sit here somewhat stoned on a fresh pair of Vicadin (see sciatica) that sub-races are a sort of over-applied byzantine flourish to the fantasy mythology of Dungeons & Dragons and its offspring. Until someone more knowledgeable puts forth a better theory I'm pinning this development squarely on Prof Tolkien.

But backing up a moment -- What is a sub-race?

Backing up slightly further -- What is the significance of the term race within the the D&D mythos?

The answer to the latter question, as I understand it anyway, is that a race is a discrete unit of intelligent creatures. Typically members of a race are capable of breeding and producing viable offspring. Races are necessarily living things.

[I've always wanted to get my hands on a monster book that pondered these sorts of basic principles and organized the entries according to type: Animals, Races, The Undead (include lycanthropes here), Spirits (include magical beasts, demons, fairies, etc). Didn't Dave "Arduin" Hargrave do it that way?]

Sub-races are various flavors within a Race. Ideally the contrast between the subs is very high. The peril here being what I would call the "High Elf/Grey Elf" scenario, where the difference between the two peoples is subtle (low contrast). Same goes for Hill Dwarf/Mountain Dwarf. Because D&D is in practice basically an oral game (don't take that the wrong way, dear reader) it behooves the wise DM to emulate the tall styles of traditional storytellers and paint his/her settings and set pieces as larger-than-life and wildly varied. Two neighboring kingdoms that share a common culture and associated customs, that speak the same language and worship the same gods are simply less interesting than two neighboring kingdoms that differ drastically in these respects. Differences are the seeds for potential conflicts, and conflict is the life-blood of the D&D game.

And so it goes for sub-races. The mythopoeic distance between the Drow and the Wood Elf is fertile for conflict, whereas the High and the Grey come up short in my estimation. Their physical and social similarities make the space between them fuzzy and uncertain. Fuzziness is not what the DM wants his carefully chosen descriptors to project to his players. We want that mental picture to be in HD. We want the situation on the ground-floor of the campaign to be easily grasped by the players so that they can begin to navigate it (read: be immersed in it) ASAP.

As an aside, this is why super-detailed, Silmarillion-like world backgrounds tickle my groan reflex. When that initial picture of the world that the player is supposed to become familiar is so vast and convoluted that it takes more than three pages to convey an alarm should go off in the DM's mind. Complex settings can make great literature, but great D&D games (at least in my experience) grow from fairly simple beginnings. The classic example being the town <--> dungeon campaign model.

So the moral here -- if this tangent really requires one at all -- is to emphasize the differences between sub-races in your campaign world because (a) it makes them more memorable as individual types and as a unit and (b) it opens up conflicts to be explored and resolved.


Scooby-Doo vs the Ersatz Cthulhu

I've always maintained that Scooby and the gang would make excellent investigators in a Call of Cthulhu campaign. It's a perfect fit. And apparently the creators of the latest version of the classic show -- Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated -- must agree. "Shrieking Madness" is the twelfth episode of the first season. My son and I checked out the show for the first time today and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the animation and writing. Definitely a quantum leap after Cartoon Network's TV movies of the last ten-odd years. It compares favorably to Batman: The Brave and the Bold in its parody-meets-universe-expansion approach to the subject matter. I won't give away all the surprises, but here are some more images to whet your eldritch appetite.

It's obvious that this cthulhoid freak buys his duds at the local mind flayer outlet.

Music Television For the Dispossessed

The above track from Gatekeeper is indicative of their overall style -- a timewarp back to 80s Industrial synths executed with Vangelis-like precision. I recommend their EP Giza (2010) to anyone who has a hankering for the instrumental stylings of early Skinny Puppy, Clock DVA and/or Cabaret Voltaire.

Continuing in this vein...

All videos by Tommy Blackburn.


My Blog Fu Is Weak (But I'm Working On It)

The tomb-like silence around here lately is mostly due to the fact that I haven't done any tabletop gaming for quite a while (read: months). I've also decided to take a page from the book of Hack & Slash and not talk about what I'm going to do any more. (He made some excellent points on the subject a while back.) Instead I'll just spring stuff on you as it emerges from my dank and musty mental laboratory.