Sunday, 23 October 2016

Imprisoned Moon Seven - Sad, sad skeleton.

Captain Jepta Crunt awakes from her depressive fugue to find her ship has escaped the harbour of Gapu in Sula-Phrang and is heading for the open sea with a following wind and a cannon ball embedded in the stern.

Bastian Blank the ships boy finishes securing the crewmen that were picked up during the escape and finds that they have accidentally pulled up a Flores, or 'Flower' Man from his small canoe.

Ours is wearing clothes and is not carrying a giant rat but otherwise looks pretty similar.

He is also carrying a mighty Klewang and Salawaku.

Eko Eka the cannibal Flower Man hails from Tennggara-Phrang. He introduces himself to the Captain and swears his loyalty, which she accepts.

Eko asks about the whereabouts of 'Rashel Vore', He has heard his master the Rakasa Hupudio Supardi discussing this woman and thinks if he finds her he will be richly rewarded so he has broken the sacred law of Tennggara-Phrang and left the island, betraying the rule of the Pale Eye in the hopes that he will return and earn great glory.

Jepta lies to him and says she has never seen this woman, she orders the crew to secure the ships secret store of Zombie coral and also to being her 'that thing no-one's talked about for a bunch of sessions' (she means the basket of moths hidden somewhere on the vessel).

Hearing this, Karvash Bloom beckons Bastian Blank towards the rear of the vessel, he takes him to the store room where the moths are hidden and asks him for aid in hiding them from the captain, he swears he will owe Bastian a great deal if he helps

As the ships crew search, Eko takes the time to familiarise himself with the vessel by poking his nose into everything, he is stopped from entering the area around the Captains cabin by the China Golem of Tranquility Zooth.

Bastian, being a conniving little shit, agrees to this and they successfully hide the moths in his hammock. Bloom tells the boy that the Moths are not truly moths, but are on a diplomatic mission to Selenium, one its best the captain doesn't know about.

At the same time, Eko Eka has fallen into conversation with Juglangsing Leptoblast. The naturalist is a much less adept liar than Captain Crunt and eventually gives up (some) of the truth about Rashel Vore, admitting that he has seen her and that her current position is somewhere out in the Nightmare sea, but he will say no more than that.

Crunt finally notices the single surviving skeleton who has been hanging around since the opening of the campaign and tells it to "start swabbing the deck, or do something, I don't want to see you standing around doing nothing again".

Unaware that almost all of her crew are currently intriguing against her, Crunt orders the Falling Star to sail counterclockwise along the coast of Tennggara Phrang and within the shadow of that island. With no lights running, they will (hopefully) be hidden from any other vessels they encounter.

Meanwhile, captain Crunt takes a short tone with the failings of her men and orders a Conclave of notable NPC's (and PC's) to decide their next move.

Busla rant argues that they should head for the Black-Path dominated side of Tien-Phrang and steal the Jade Monkey of Pan-Chu-Mai, as she arranged to do with King Galerian, who wears an Iron Mask and is served by a Crow in the doorless city of Athenoptica on Uter-Phrang, but she is overruled

After quizzing the rest of the NPC's the Captain decides to make a run past the allegedly demon-haunted island of Lembata-Phrang to the isle of Alo-Phrang, ruled from the port city of Marlinkio.

Just as they leave the coast of Tennggara-Phrang, the crew do spot a gleam of ice out in the moonlit water beyond the shadow of Tennggara-Phrang. Eko tells the captain that the ships of that island are made from the frozen tears of weeping women, she decides to avoid the vessel as she suspects the Falling Star will be boarded without cause.

After only a 24-hour run across the Phrang Sea from Gapu, The Falling Star makes it to Marlinkio and Busla calls out the crew and dimensions to the officials that raise and lower the bridge/lock which governs entry to and from the inner dock.

The crew see a wide variety of ships at harbour, Borobodurs, Phini's, Double-hulled canoes, Junks from Yaag-Sien and even one giant paddling a canoe the size of a small ship.

On one of the onion domes in the city, they see a Quetzalcoatlus wearing a strange saddle, perched on the top of the tower.

They go to the Domu Rada to pay their harbour fees and get into a slight argument with the functionary Iwan Wiranataatmadja. Busla fails to talk him down on price and they end up paying the full 15 shilling per-day price, they do learn that the Snakeman Sorcerer Khuthiva, who rules the citadel of Kefamenenui on the Moonward sie of Tien-Phrang, is meeting with Lady Szarza, the de-facto 'executive' of Marlinkio.

Eko notices that Wiranataatmadja is embezzling a significant chunk of the payment and tells his captain who throws her arm over his little shoulder and says that they will get the money back from him later. The two have bonded over their mutual dislike of being stiffed on fees. Jepta leaves the skeleton obtrusively watching the door of the Domu Rada, with orders to follow Wiranataatmadja home after his shift.

The Captain returns to the docks and starts arranging the repair of the ship, the acting first mate Suharto Ary Setiawan (Barlang Rift still being passed out in his cabin) says that some available Fire-Wood (not 'firewood) can replace the damaged planks and they begin repairs, the Captain starts personally carving symbols of MANPAC along the hull of the ship to ward of ghosts, spirits, or just people who don't like MANPAC.

Busla and Eko decide to attempt Carousing in Marlinkio. They opt to succumb to the offers of 'Psychic Visions' in the Yare Domesman contrada and, balking at the staggering price of such journeys, end up placing a bet with drug-addled pseudo-hipster Aloysius Lele Madja, who is clearly less experienced than he would wish to admit as, during the negotiations he was ruinously unaware that he was speaking to someone continuously smoking the highly-addictive and very rare 'Tears of the Moon' opium, mistaking its grey-white smoke and bitter scent for tobacco.

Busla and Eko are both issued into Madja's glitzy chamber and given strange substances to chew and drink. Busla wishes to use her vision to find the location of the jade Monkey of Pan Cun Mei, Eko wishes to find the location of Rashel Vore.

As the drugs take effect the room around them seems to decay and in their minds-eye they rush towards the isle of Tian-Phrang, witnessing the jade citadels of the snake man sorcerers, the ruined Dimmu Borgir of the Black path and one of the war parties of that group. Then Eko's influence takes over and their point of view is swept way way out into the Nightmare Sea, they see beaches of bone and iron eyed tribes, the glowing undersea filigree of the legendary library of dreams and the horrible heaving bulk of one of the Leviathan minds.

They are interrupted by a psychic whale of the Nightmare sea which senses them and freezes Eko in time with the strength of its mental powers, Bula picks up the form of his mental projection, instead of taking control of the vision and turning it back to Tien-Phrang, Busla nobly continues with Ekos quest to find Rashel Vore.

Eventually they come upon a ship of Nox, dredging the ocean floor (quite a dangerous thing to do in the Nightmare Sea), the dredgers pull up the ruined body of Balthesar Vore, former captain of the Falling Star. From his neck hangs a shining jewel of some kind. The ghost of Rashel Vore hovers nearby.

As their perspective changes, Eko and Busla see not one, but an armada of well-armed ships from Nox and a Quorum of Navigators. Wind fills the ships sails and the armada seems to be heading towards the isles of the Imprisoned Moon.

As they come back to awareness, they find Aloysius Lele Madja shaking and throwing up in the corner. The bet is won.

by Ian Reilly

Monday, 17 October 2016

In comes I

Just to prove, again, that the Wirral is an insane time machine and clotted gorge or history, here is something take from one of the appendices to Normal Ellison's 'The Wirral Peninsula'

"The Mummer's Play is a Christmas-time activity, and I am indebted to Mr Sidney Wilson of Frankby for the following words I wrote down at his dictation, as spoke by the team he used to take round farm kitchens, inn parlours and the houses of the gentry, up to the year 1937. He has learnt the words from his father, who, in his turn, had received them from his father .... He called this performance "Beezebubbing"..


LITTLE WIT - Red pants and tails: top-hat and big bow-tie.

KING GEORGE - Old red military tunic: blue pants with red stripe down side: wooden sword: helmet of some kind.

BOLD SLASHER - Khaki uniform with wooden sword. Helmet.

DOCTOR BROWN - Tails, top-hat, large portmanteau full of bottles, etc.

BEELZEBUB - Old man with beard and hump on back: old hat: carrying dripping-tin. Long tail of plaited straw stiffened with a wire.

All have blackened faces.



In comes I that's never been yet,
With my big head and little wit.
Although my wit is very small,
I'll do my best to please you all.
Stir up that fire and give us a light,
For in this house there'll be a fight.
If you don;t believe in what I say,
Step in King George and clear the way.


In comes I, King George, the noble champion bold.
It was me that fought the fiery dragon and won ten thousand in gold.
It was me that followed the fair lady to the giant's gate.
The giant he almost struck me dead;
I drew my broad and trusty sword
And nearly cut off his head.

BOLD SLASHER shouts from outside: Ha! Ha!! and enters:

The valiant soldier, Bold Slasher is my name,
If I was to draw my broad and trusty sword, I'd surely win the game.

KING GEORGE: How can'st thou win the game
When my head is made of iron;
My body's made of steel;
My hands and feet are made of knuckle-bone?
I'll challenge thee to fight.

BOLD SLASHER: Pull out thy purse and pay.

KING GEORGE: Pull out thy sword and slay,
Or else we'll have a recompense before we go away.


Both start to fight. KING GEORGE stabs BOLD SLASHER, who falls.

LITTLE WIT: (shouts) Doctor! Doctor!

DOCTOR BROWN:  (shouts from outside) No doctor to be found.

LITTLE WIT: Ten pounds for a doctor.


In comes I, Doctor Brown.
The best old doctor in the town.

LITTLE WIT: How came you to be a doctor?

DOCTOR: By my travels.

LITTLE WIT: Where did you travel?

DOCTOR: Hickity, Dickity, France and Spain.
Back to old England to cure the man that lives in the lane.

LITTLE WIT: How much will you cure this man for?

DOCTOR: Ten pounds.

LITTLE WIT: No less?

DOCTOR: (feeling BOLD SLASHER'S pulse) Nine, and a bottle of wine.

LITTLE WIT: Cure him.

DOCTOR opens portmanteau, takes out several bottles and mixes a concoction:

Now, Jack, open thy throttle,
Take three drops from this bottle.
Rise up Bold Slasher and fight a battle.

BOLD SLASHER rises up and starts to fight KING GEORGE.

LITTLE WIT: Put up thy swords and be at rest,
For peace and quietness is the best.


In comes I, old Beezlebub.
On my back I carry a knob,
Under my arm I've a dripping pan;
I think myself a jolly old man.
I court the lassies plenty,
One by one, two by two;
But there's none to come up to my fancy.
I've a little tin under my arm,
A copper or two will do it no harm;
A shilling or two will do it some good,
Please ladies and gentlemen, put something in good."

Ellison is pretty sure that 'Bold Slasher' is Summer and that 'King George' is winter. I think I agree. If any of you have any ideas on who the rest of the characters are, or were, what the words might signify or how old the pattern of the mummery is, then I would be interested to hear it.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Wapentake of Wirral

No-one knows where the practice of governing England as 'Hundreds' came from, but it was around in the 800's (that's the 800's, not the 1800's) before the Norman conquest and to some degree it just kind of stuck around.

(Few things in British law are ever fully thrown away, they just kind-of, compile.)

The 'Hundred' might at one point have been an actual one-hundred households, but by the beginning of the medieval era its pretty much an area of geography. It's also a court, and an area of administration.

It probably begins as a meeting of local landowners where they get together to deal with legal matters, arguments, debts and so on. Then becomes a form of organisation, a way for the king to summon people to fight and to exert his authority.

Later on, over a thousand years of different kings, other forms of administration are added and they just kind of overlay the old hundreds, eventually making them effectively irrelevant.

But not revoked.

And in parts of England where the Danes had once ruled, the 'hundred' was sometimes called the 'Wapentake', hence 'The Wapentake of Wirral'.

In medieval times, the right to hold a court could be 'farmed out' to various people, they would do the administration and then pay the King his share if any money was claimed, and 'ownership' or right to hold the court could be traded and passed down like land or property.

And that brings us to the 19th century. Specifically, November 16 1819, when the Wapentake of Wirral is advertised for sale by Messrs Potts & Co of Chester. Since they don't expect anyone to be very interested in it, they throw in the rights to " wreck," to "royal fish," and to " treasure trove".

And this means that in 1854 the Wapentake of Wirral falls into the hands of Samual Holland Moreton, and his sinister compatriot Mr Robert Grace.

And Moreton is an intelligent, avaricious, eccentric, evil-minded motherfucker, and he actually reads the stack of ancient crumbling documents that make up 'The Wapentake of Wirral' and he works out what he can do with them, which is a lot.

In fact, "when in 'sociable mood' Moreton would sometimes confess an ignorance of where his own power was limited." The Wpentake is ancient. It's older than any other law on the book.

"Crimes and misdemeanors, felonies or civil actions, trespass, treason, all that was wicked of weak came within his jurisdiction."

He could summon a Court of Wapentake, call a jury, compel attendance of witnesses, try cases civil and criminal.

This means that in the middle of the 19th century, a crazy-ass motherfucker with an ancient document can effectively run his own, private law court in the Wirral and that no-one can stop him. He's legal. He's more legal than legal.

And _this_ means that if you're going past the Tranmere Ferry Hotel some time in 1850-something, and a large man comes towards you and summons you to court, you better go. And if inside you find a drunk-as-fuck Samual Moreton who tells you that you are a juror, or a witness, or any other member of the court, then you are.

Moreton sat off in a fucking pub, running drunken courts, compelling attendance from whomever he wanted, taking cases based simply on spite or just revenge.

In 1855, Thomas Smith of Birkenhead, was pulled, seemingly at random, into the workings of the court. "one day when he was at work in his garden, a man called to him to come at once to the Wapentake Court sitting at the Inn known as the Shrewsbury Arms, Hinderton. He treated the summons as a joke, whereupon  two men were sent and Smith was haled to the Court in his shirt-sleeves. On his arrival he found Moreton, Grace, and others seated at a table spread with food and drink. Grace informed him they were about to fine him 20 for not coming at once, and that it was no joking matter. Smith was appointed one of the "affeerors" to the Court (an honour which he shared with Shakespeare, who held that post at Stratford-on-Avon)."

Moreton and Grace would ride out with the rest of their court in a packed  Omnibus dressed in "shabby black tail or frock coats" and just accost wealthy-looking people, summoning them "to sit as jurors at the nearest public-house, in company with the riff-raff of the neighborhood." A refusal was met by a a fine, which if not paid, lead to the seizure and sale of property.

"In one case a neighbor built a wall for safety round a pond on his property next to the road. He was summoned for encroaching upon the road, and the Court proposed a fine of 20. Smith, as affeeror, objected that this was excessive, to which Grace, the steward, replied, " Nonsense, who is to pay for all this ?" pointing to the spread upon the table."

In 1856 a major embezzler is tried and sent for transportation. As the judgement comes down, Moreton and Grace  take a cab to one of the houses he bought with his stolen money, kick the guys wife out into the road and stay there. The company the man stole from take them to court. In 1860, the court finds for Moreton, because he's Lord of the fucking Wapentake and he has the legal right to a felons goods. He gets not only the house he is squatting in, but most of the other properties bought with the stolen money as well.

Eventually Moreton dies and Grace gets his hands on the Secret Documents. He performs one useful action for Birkenhead, the train lines over the pavement at the Green Bank station are leaking terribly, leaving the road a mess for people to walk through. Grace goes to the owning company and threatens to repossess the train line as Lord of the Wapentake, not willing to test this threat, they fix the leak.

Ultimately, the mad rule of the Wapentake is brought to an end by an act of parliament. Moreton still retains the title of the Lordship of Wirral until his death.

What happened to the ill-gotten (but legally attained) fortune of the 'Lord of Wirral'?

Apparently Moreton falls ill and....

"After the medical man left, the Very Rev. Canon Fisher, a well-known Roman Catholic dignitary, with whom Mr. Moreton had been in frequent communication, was sent for. Upon his arrival he found the old man in extremis ... the rev. gentleman produced a form of will already drawn out, raised Mr. Moreton up in the bed, put on his spectacles, placed a pen in his hand, and, without reading the will over to him, got hold of his hand and guided the fingers of the dying and insensible man to form his signature at the foot of the will .... By this will the whole of Mr. Moreton's property ....  is bequeathed to the Right Rev. Alexander Goss, Bishop of Liverpool, for the benefit of religion as taught by the Roman Catholic Church."

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Imprisoned Moon Six - Red Tears of Rust

Busla Rant, the iron-eyed widow and Abolitionist compatriot of the recently deceased White Ape, is victim of an indeterminate flux and Mental Shadow. In the fugue of this distemper she can be nourished only on sweet tea and madelines and, though she can be guided back and forth through use of her automatic functions, she is, effectively, a  mental blank.

She emerges from these fugues at times unpredictable to all, and the point of her emergence is now.

Luckily for the group at hand as, shocked into depression by her own execution of the Ape and the failure of her schemes, Captain Jepta Crunt is about to dive into a melancholic opium-fulled somnolence from which she will not emerge for some time.

Busla wakes in the midst of the harvest festival of Sula Phrang to find her friend, the White Ape, dead. She weeps red tears from her Iron Eyes.

Bastian Blank, the incorrigible thieving orphan, sidles up to the mercenary guards of Lord Ey-Way-Woo-O in an attempt to get close enough to steal something from him. The guards are utterly unimpressed by his childish guile and give him the butt of a Brown Bess to the head, leaving him sprawled in the muck.

On the other side of the crowd, the horribly-scarred and violently-hallucinating Barlang Rift prepares to ride his Mantis Shrimp in the key event of the festival. A mock battle in which two sides will ride towards each other at full-pelt, turn their shrimp at the last moment and hurl blunt spears at each other.

He is distracted from this by the blue tentacles spilling from the mouths of his compatriots and the manifold textures of his own hand but is eventually persuaded to mount up.

In the absence of her Captain and the death of her friend, Busla takes the young Scamp Bastian Blank and the fire Dervish Karvash Bloom under her wing and seeks out a merchant with which to trade. She is approached by one 'Megawati' who consoles her on her loss and attempts to buy the body of the Ape. Busla is shocked by this approach but, aware of her ships impecunious situation, does not fully discount the possibility.

The negotiations are put on hold as all heads turn to watch the opening bout of the mock battle.

Though besieged by visions, Barlang Rift does manage to control his Mantis Shrimp. He charges with the rest of his group to the center of the field where they are faced by young men from the stoic village of Mamboto. Both sides let fly their spears.

Barlang lets fly a little too well. His carved ivory harpoon pierces the jugular of a young man, pinning him to the ground like a collected bug. He must have been well liked as the usually-stoic riders from Mamboto ignore the shouted instructions of their own elders and charge their shrimp towards Barlang's side.

Guided by the demon tattooed on someones shoulder, the sight of a boy who turns into a moth and back and by the moon itself which seems to raise twin columns of burning light like two approving thumbs, Barlang haloos and drives his riders headlong into a now-real combat.

Observing this from the nearby hill, Megawati urges Busla to retreat with him to Gapu where they will be safe from what looks to be a nascent riot. Busla remains for a moment to watch the result of the combat.

In a shower of blood and horror, Barlang Rift leads his side to horrid victory. Screaming praises to the moon he caves in the faces of brave young men left and right, leaving their limp bodies hanging from the saddles of their maddened shrimp. The pistol cracks of shrimp claws ring out like gunshots. Sugiharto Ivan Gunawan runs towards the melee to protect his son. The festival disperses in shock. The mock combat intended to channel and assuage differences between villages has instead broken out into open war. Long buried or occluded rivalries have been remembered and the old headhunters hold their parang closer. There will be violence tonight.

Busla and Bastian accompany Megawati, they follow the dispersing crowd to Gapu.

Ultimately, the village of Maboto breaks and flees before the drug-addled beserkery of Barlang Rift. Only the village of Melolo remains. Sugiharto grasps his son Eko, weeping in relief he tells Barlang that he cannot be blamed for the Mombotons losing control, and this is technically true, accidents are expected to happen during the festival and it is the job of each side to exercise restraint, Mamboto did charge first.

Blood-splattered and delirious, Barlang seems a little too happy about the chaotic and frightening result. His shrimp is lead away with him waving madly and cackling. The ordinary people of Sula-Phrang have fled, just before he passes out he hears the dim wheezing laughter of the dead ancestors. The only people happy at this bloodshed, they are pleased that the blood spilt will go to feed the earth for the next harvest, as it did in times of old. Sugiharto's Grandfather speaks to him, the old horror is finally impressed with his descendant.


In Gapu, Busla Rant, Bastian Blank and the Dervish Karvash Bloom meet with the merchant Megawati in his cheaply attired grotto in order to discuss business.

Grinning, Megawati puffs on his opium Hookha and exhales a cloud of purple smoke. Exercising either hospitality or low cunning, he offers the pipe to each of his guests. Busla, Bastian and Karvash all partake and they seem to manage its mild high relatively well. Bastian tries to blow a gandalfian smoke shape but produces only a shapeless plume.

Busla asks whether the corpse of her friend will be accorded a place of honor. Megawati assures her that, once pickled and transported to the Yaag-Sien, it will certainly be the cornerstone of the collection of some cultivated slug, and what could be more honorable than that?

Busla reluctantly agrees and they settle on the price of 75 Shillings before proceeding to the primary trade. Busla needs food for her crew and cash to pay her sailors. Megawati drives a hard bargain and , in the midst of negotiations, he requests a pipe of a different, more 'unique' opium.

He blows out a cloud of pure white smoke and again offers the pipe. The Dervish, Karvash Bloom ties it and breaks down crying, asking "why did I do it?" before grabbing Bastian Blank and insisting that he say no to drugs from this moment on.

Busla tries the White Opium and find that it has a remarkable sharpening effect on her memory. By piecing together fragments of knowledge gained or overheard throughout the whole of her journey, she is able to make a surprisingly accurate estimation of the value of her cargo and the best terms for sale.

Unfortunately she also becomes utterly addicted to the Opium and wants nothing more than continual access to the drug.

Megawati and Busla argue back and forth. He offers her 15 Guilders (including that paid for the white ape) and 400 days worth of food for half a crate of silk and all her small cargoes.

She seems unwilling to accept this trade until Megawati offers her a large supply of the White Opium 'Tears of the Moon' as part of the bargain. She accepts immediately and guarded by a detachment of her sailors and his men, the proceed to the harbor to begin the exchange.

As they move through Gapu they see signs of incipient violence, windows are boarded, the streets are empty, a strange hum fills the air and Kingfisher House is well guarded. In the harbor the Borobudurs and Phinis are setting sail, the wind is counter-clockwise, leading out into the Phrang Sea and more than one visitor has decided that this is a good time to leave Sula-Phrang.


Barlang is slapped awake by Eko who demands to know why the Falling Star is making ready to leave. As they look down into the harbor of Gapu Barlang, blasted with horrible sobriety, cannot deny that this does seem to be the case. Eko leads the wrecked man down into the town.

On the edge of Gapu the group is accosted by some masked thugs wielding parangs. Barlang encourages Eko to start a fight, but, in the midst of a massive comedown, his charismatic powers are not what they should be and Eko is beginning to see through the deception to the shameless rogue beneath. He accuses Barlang of being a drug-addicted thief and murdering liar and orders his friends to grab the traveler.

Barlang joins forces with the thieves and together they attack the young men from Melolo, two are killed and the rest flee. Barlang pauses only to rob the corpse of another fallen young man. He finds a handmade game set, perhaps made by the boy's mother, and then sneaks off into the town, heading for the Falling Star.

He doesn't sneak well enough however. Passing Kingfisher house he is noticed by Lusanto Xia, a mercenary for Lord Ey-Way-Woo-O, who demands he come and explain his actions to the Lord.

Barlang runs away.

He reaches the Falling Star and is re-united with his comrades. As chaos engulfs Gapu and flames begin to lick the harbor buildings, they toast each other with rum on the quarterdeck. Their men are in the midst of transferring cargo between their ship and the Borobuder of Megawati (the only other ship remaining in the harbor) when Lusanto Xia emerges on the harbor wall, demanding that they send someone to speak to his Lord.

They pretend they can't hear him. Xia grabs a long canoe and takes it out to the Falling Star, he refuses to bring his men on deck and again demands that a representative be sent to Kingfisher House.

After stalling a little longer by pretending he can't read the proclamation, Barlang eventually agrees to send the ships Navigator of Nox. Will this satisfy Lord Ee-Way-Woo-O?

Xia agrees that it will.

Barlang grabs the former Vampire Slave 'Stampy' (Konepruske ken Goranan) and, alleging that Stampy has failed to distinguish himself by any useful action, forces him into a ruff and the simulation of high-status clothes. Barlang encourages 'Stampy' to take on the role of Navigator in order to fool Lord Ey-Way-Woo-O.

Again due to his harried mental state in the middle of a huge comedown, Barlangs usual charm and flair deserts him. Despite shameful assurances by Busla Rant, 'Stampy' rightly assumes that the PC's plan to abandon him on Sula-Phrang and refuses to go.

Barlang outright threatens to kill Konepruske and forces him over the side.

The ruse cannot have worked for very long but it lasts at least long enough for 90% of the cargo exchange to be made before two detachments of mercenaries arrive at the docks, holding 'Stampy' by the neck and dragging two small culverins with them.

The crew decide to make haste, they raise anchor and swing to pick up the last few sailors still transporting goods. Bastian fires on one of the cannon with his musket and Busla orders the ships catapult to suppress the second.

They are not quite successful and at least one of the cannon manages to fire on them as they sail out into the Phrang Sea, doing 4 points of damage to the Falling Star.

They have refreshed their supplies of cash and food and escaped into the open ocean. In doing so they have also fired upon employees of Kingfisher House, finally committing a verifiable, and witnessed, crime, but for now at least, they are free.

THE BLIND EYE by Santiago Caruso

Friday, 7 October 2016

d6 Encounters by Louise Bogan


I had come to the house, in a cave of trees,
Facing a sheer sky.
Everything moved,- a bell hung ready to strike,
Sun and reflection wheeled by.

When the bare eyes were before me
And the hissing hair,
Held up at a window, seen through a door.
The stiff bald eyes, the serpents on the forehead
Formed in the air.

This is a dead scene forever now.
Nothing will ever stir.
The end will never brighten it more than this,
Nor the rain blur.

The water will always fall, and will not fall,
And the tipped bell make no sound.
The grass will always be growing for hay
Deep on the ground.

And I shall stand here like a shadow
Under the great balanced day,
My eyes on the yellow dust, that was lifting in the wind,
And does not drift away.


I burned my life that I might find
A passion wholly of the mind,
Thought divorced from eye and bone,
Ecstasy come to breath alone.
I broke my life, to seek relief
From the flawed light of love and grief.

With mounting beat the utter fire
Charred existence and desire.
It died low, ceased its sudden thresh.
I had found unmysterious flesh-
Not the mind's avid substance-still
Passionate beyond the will.


O see what I have made!
A delicate precious ruse
By which death is betrayed
And all time given use.

See this fine body, joined
More cleanly than a thorn.
What man, though lusty-loined,
What woman from woman born,

Shaped a slight thing, so strong,
Or a wise thing, so young?
This mouth will yet know song
And words move on this tongue.

It lacks but life: some scent,
Some kernel of hot endeavor,
Some dust of dead content
Will make it live forever.


O embittered joy,
You fiend in fair weather,
Foul winds from secret quarters
Howl here together.

They yell without sleet
And freeze without snow;
Through them the broken Pleiades
And the Brothers show,

And Orion's steel,
And the iron of the Plough.
This is your night, my worthy fiend,
You can triumph now.

In this wind to wrench the eye
And curdle the ear,
The church steeple rises purely to the heavens;
The sky is clear.

And even to-morrow
Stones without disguise
In true-colored fields
Will glitter for your eyes.


Must I tell again
In the words I know
For the ears of men
The flesh, the blow?

Must I show outright
The bruise in the side,
The halt in the night,
And how death cried?

Must I speak to the lot
Who little bore?
It said why not?
it said Once more.


The young mage said:
Make free, make free,
With the wild eagles planing in the mountains
And the serpent in the sea.

The young mage said:
Delight, delight,
In the vine's triumph over marble
And the wind at night.

And he said: Hold
Fast to the leave's silver
And the flower's gold.

And he said: Beware
Of the round web swinging from the angle
Of the steep stair,
And of the comet's hair.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Isles of the Imprisoned Moon Session Five - "You are the saviors of my village!"

(Note: there really is no 'day' or 'night' in the Isles of the Imprisoned Moon. Probably they wouldn't refer to directions around the moon as 'Clockwise' and 'Counterclockwise' either. I kept using the terms as they were simple, everyone, including new players, could understand them and I couldn't be bothered coming up with in-world fantasy versions of the equivalent concepts. Just assume that when anyone from the world of IotIM says those words, they mean the concepts they refer to.)

Present this adventure were:

Captain Jepta Crunt (Chris H)
First Mate Barlang Rift (Dan Voyce)
Ships Boy Bastian Blank (Ian Reilly)
The White Ape (David McGrogan)

Towards the end of the last session out heroes had decided to voyage the darkwards side of the isle of Tien Phrang to seek, rob and/or destroy the woman called Pan Chun Mei, thought to be the head of the hated 'Black Path'.

Mischance, and the poor adjustment of their navigator Bodagrottorna al Tenebres to the seas of the Imprisoned Moon, leads them to sail in exactly the wrong direction and after a few days they find themselves just off the shore of the island of Sula-Phrang, at the wrong side of the Phrang Sea.

Around the hull of the ship and in the sea before the shore, black and silver coral snakes are swarming, turning the surface into a pattern like sliding static, and where the snake-filled waves crash upon the beach the people of a hilltop village fenced by white cacti are diving into the surf whooping and scooping up the snakes and riding mighty horse-sized rainbow-iridescent Mantis Shrimp which plunge into moonlit waves.

Captain Crunt observes the village headman welcoming and beckoning the Falling Star and, since her ship is ony four days away from being starving and bankrupt, she summons her bridge crew and they row through the snake-infested sea, making for the shore of Sula-Phrang.

They are accompanied by the Fire Dervish Karlash Bloom, who at first seemed reluctant to join them and, as a passenger, is under no compulsion to do so, Bloom however, has formed a friendly relationship with the boy Bastian Blank and reluctantly agreed to go with him in order to protect him.

As the ships boat plunges through the surf, the White Ape intelligently snatches up a fishing net and scoops the coral snakes up from the sea. Jepta leads her associates up the beach and the headman takes the net of snakes, throwing it to one of the mantis-riders who whirls it, whooping, in the air.

A few snakes fly out and a handful of people seem to have been poisoned by them but they are dragged safely up the beach and placed in the recovery position. Nevertheless, the team make a good impression on Sugiarto Ivan Gunawan, headman of the village of Melolo and are invited to dinner.

On the way, the cheeky kleptomaniac scamp Bastian Blank ably pickpockets Sugiarto, relieving him of three Guilders, most of the cash savings of the entire village. He tells no-one of his theft.

Melolo itself is surrounded by a living fence of white cactus and the PC's find several skull trees where the heads of defeated enemies are kept. Sugiharto sadly informs them that the old ways are passing and now the people of Sula-Phrang hardly ever hunt and murder each other, although, about fifty years ago there was an unfortunate accident at a wedding which lead to the death of 300 people.

Though they originally intended to trade for much-needed food, the crew find the village very poor indeed, Sugiharto does offer them some of their rare printed fabrics in trade, though his main interest is to persuade them to accompany him to the harvest festival outside the main town of Gapu, in order to raise his prestige. The beginning of the festival is signaled by the swarming of the coral snakes. On this natural sign every village of Sula-Phrang will put aside its conflicts and send all the people it can to the plain outside Gapu, the primary urban area of Sula-Phrang and the seat of Lord Ey-Way-Woo-O of Kingfisher House, the technical regent of Sula Phrang on behalf of the trading houses of the Chain-State of Yaag-Sien, there, the young men will ride their ferocious Mantis-Shrip at each other and hurl the spears they have spent months individually carving.

The spears are too thick and blunt to penetrate flesh (usually) and in most years only a relatively small number of people are injured and killed, but the young men prove their bravery, feuds between villages are settled, pride and prestige are earned and displayed by the glory of a villages shrimp  and all the blood spilt is thought to feed the earth, thereby providing bounty for the coming year.

Sugiharto is convinced that the timely arrival of the PC's just as the snakes are swarming, means they represent good fortune for his stricken village.

As the conversation turns to religion, Jepta receives a poor response to her radical anti-undead religious opinions as a follower of MANPAC. Sughiharto asks if these extreme beliefs must apply to even the dead of ones family or clan, Jepta moderates her opinion somewhat and claims that only the dead who are out of their place, specifically out of their body, are to be loathed and this appeases Sugiharto somewhat.

Jepta agrees to go with the people of Melolo to the festival and to attend as their guest. The crew are left for the night and Bastian sneaks out to follow Sugiharto and overhears him sending his Mantis-cavalry into the nearby Coral mangroves to hunt "low caste bastards" who are hiding there for some reason.


The next day Jepta sends for food and trade items from the Falling Star as an offer of friendship. Sugiharto is itching to begin their march but pauses for long enough to be deeply impressed by the ruffs presented to him, and by the last of the meat of the Silver Boar. As a gesture of returned respect, Sugiharto offers to allow Jepta to ride 'Wakes-The-Gods', the villages largest and most impressive Mantis-Shrimp. His oldest son Eko is much less impressed, since he is being displaced from his high-status ride.

Jepta aces her roll and 'Wakes-The-Gods' stampedes into and out of the surf, rearing up and snapping its claws like gunshots. The watching crowd have no idea how close Captain Crunt has come to total disaster and assume this is a bravado display of Shrimp Mastery, the Captains legend grows...

The village faces a long march to Gapu (Sugiharto does not wish to stay in the hills overnight due to fear of ghosts, and perhaps a more prosaic fear of other villages).

The journey takes the crew and people past a number of other processions which seem to be of different villages, all going to Gapu for the same festival. Jepta's manner and ride earns her, and the village of Melelo, a number of admiring looks and remarks, it is rare to see high-status foreigners on Sula-Phrang, especially ones from the maritime empire of Nox, across the Nightmare Sea.

The procession pauses briefly when someone sees something in the air that may be a small bird close to, or a VERY BIG bird very far away, but it quickly passes from view.

The town of Gapu is a tired wooden colonial port. Despite the fact that someone clearly spent money on it at some point it now looks cheaper than any of the villages the crew passed on their way here. Jepta and the villages parade through the center of the port, somewhat depressed by the poverty they observe.

The town is dominated by its docks, which are now little used compared to their size, by Kingfisher House, the home of 'Lord' Lord Ey-Way-Woo-O, technical Regent of Sula-Phrang. 'Kingfisher House' being both the name of his house or clan and also, due to the sometimes literal thinking of the people of Sula-Phrang, the name of his actual house.

The docks have a handful of fishing canoes from Sula-Phrang as well as some Borobuders and Phinis.

A Borobuder

A Phini

The Falling Star is by far the largest and most well-armed ship there (having followed the PC's round the coast at the captains order).

On reaching their assigned camping ground, the PC's and villagers collapse and eat. Jepta converses with Sugiharto until everyone is disturbed by the dull sounding of copper bells. The PC's notice the villagers fall silent and deport themselves in a more conservative and restrained style. The tolling comes closer and, slowly, the mummified body of an ancient man, wearing staggeringly valuable amber jewelry and followed by the corpses of his wives, with their mouths stitched shut, tolling copper bells, marches into the meeting place.

Sugiharto goes to greet his grandfather and an awkward family scene takes place. Grandfather is enraged by the sight of his grandson consorting with foreigners, eating foreign meat and, most of all, of allowing a foreign woman to ride 'Wakes-The-Gods', a shrimp he himself raised from an egg. He berates Sugiharto for allowing the village to fall into poverty from the greatness and wealth to which he himself raised it in his lifetime. Sugiharto  points out that by selling the villages Whisperwood trees to the Kingfisher House, his grandfather created a disaster of erosion which has swept away much of their farmland and ruined their water supply, and that his grandfather is himself wearing much of the wealth he generated.

Nevertheless, he ultimately prostrates himself in shame before his illustrious ancestor. Grandfather informs him that he will be watching the villages performance in the festival tomorrow personally.

Around this time, Bastian confesses to Karvash Bloom that he has stolen most of the villages funds. After considering for a moment...

'The First Temptation of Karvash Bloom' by Ian Rielly

Bloom drags Bastian to Captain Crunt, forcing him to give up the cash and explain. As this is happening, Sugiharto arrives. Not realizing that the pouch being waved around as he came in contains his villages funds, he confesses to their loss and his shame and asks Jepta more about the worship of MANPAC, he seems to be re-considering his former judgement of The Great Consumer' Eventually he begs Jepta Crunt for aid.

Captain Crunt is merciful and agrees to give/loan Sugiharto a mixture of cash and trade goods in recognition of what she expects to be a profitable future partnership. She then dumps the problem on Barlang Rift and receives a rather strained letter from Lord Ey-Way-Woo-O, delivered by what look to be tattooed mercenaries and asking after her nature and allegiance in somewhat frantic terms. She writes a reply on the back.

With no further ado and facing a sever case of exhaustion, Rift promptly drugs himself with a mixture of Dream Lichen from Uter-Phrang and alcohol, negotiates with Sugiharto's alienated son Eko, managing to soothe and impress him with a mixture of hard drink and lies about his own combat capacity. Barlang shows Eko the ivory harpoon they recovered from the lair of the Silver Boar and deceives him into thinking that Barlang carved this himself over many months. Eko agrees that perhaps it would not be so bad if Barlang rode for his village in the festival.

Rift then visits the Falling Star, updating them on events and telling Suharto Ary Setiawan, the senior crewmember in charge, to be civil to the local authorities, but not to allow them access to the cargo hold. He returns with a barrel of whale oil and a crate of Macemaker silk, having achieved all this without having slept for 32 hours. The stimulant tonic he took is however giving him some serious hallucinations.

Captain Crunt allows the villagers of Melolo 40% of this bounty as a gift and promise of future co-operation and Sugihatro bows to her weeping.

"You are the saviors of my village!"

Even Eko seems nonplussed.


The day of the great festival arrives. The place is filled with a staggering amount and variety of people. The crowd is HUGE. Palm guitars twang, people dance, fighting pits are laid out, food is sold, drugs are taken, it seems like anything could happen.

On their way into the festival, the PC's are asked to attend upon 'Lord' Ey-Way-Woo-O at his pavilion. They are lead to a large framed building covered with tapestries, within this is a closely guarded palanquin, itself draped with silks and net curtains and closely guarded by well-armed but bored-looking mercenaries and enslaved Crab-Men.

'Lord' Ey-Way-Woo-O speaks with a high pitched and soft voice. He and Jepta spar a little. He asks about the Empire of Nox and their interests in the Isles of the Imprisoned Moon. Jepta replies that though she is 'of' Nox she does not work 'for' Nox.

Things become a little heated. 'Lord' Ey-Way-Woo-O takes an interest in the White Ape. It's not clear who first suggests it (I think Chris?) but a wager is agreed to. The White Ape will battle one of Ey-Way-Woo-O's Crab Men, the bet will be 700 days worth of rations against the remaining 60% of the crews trade goods that have been brought to shore. A fight to the death. Winner takes all.

Jepta and the crew try to prepare the Ape by oiling him up. Jepta subtly kicks some stones into the pit to provide aid.

A gigantic crowd gathers to witness this once in a lifetime combat. 'Lord' Ey-Way-Woo-O is brought to the side of the pit in his palanquin. One of his men translates an offer to the Crab Man 'Mister Snips'; win this fight and you win your freedom.  It's not clear if the Crab Man understands this, or anything that is happening, but it seems ready for battle.

The match begins. Both fighters posture and circle for a second before the Mr Snips dashes forwards with alarming speed. The Ape dodges just in time but leaves a snatch of white fur and blood in the Crab Man's claws.

Mr Snips swings again and the Ape brilliantly catches it, hurling it onto its back in a judo throw. The Crab Man lurches to its feet swinging wildly, and purely by luck, takes out a slice of the Apes flesh.

Though wounded and winded, the Ape grapples Mr Snips again and, with his incredible strength, rips one of its claws clean off!

The Ape gestures gleefully at the cheering crowd, snapping the crab claw in mockery.

It celebrates too soon. Though mutilated, the Mr Snips still lives and swings savagely with its remaining claw. Its aim is true and the claw tears into the torso of the unsuspecting White Ape.

The Ape collapses to the ground gasping, not quite dead but badly maimed.

Mr Snips looms over the Ape, leaking ichor from its severed arm, it lowers its remaining pincer around the Apes neck to snip of its head.

Only for the White Apes head to explode in a shower of gore. The crowd gasps in shock and all eyes turn to Captain Jepta Crunt who stands wreathed in smoke from her custom repeating pistol. Perhaps as a mercy, perhaps simply out of contempt, she blown out the brains of her own Ape.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Five Characters to Play Before You DIE and You WILL die eventually and maybe SOON

it's a LIST, you ignorant bastards like a list don't you? well this is a list AND a bandwagon
a trend, a trend of lists you mindless drones
suckle upon my teat


Fuck evil. Adopt those orc babies and raise them to be good. Fuck treasure. Fuck XP. Fuck unlicensed murder. Give the gold back to those orphans. Kill the devil, turn the dragon vegetarian save the world and keep your goddamn armour shiny while you do it.

In a game based on craftily gained material advantage where stealing gold literally gives you super powers, where a huge torrent of the motive force of play is imagining yourself as a super-powerful badass with no limits on your actions, the most important lesson you can learn is to _play against the game_

You have to make the game mean what you want it to mean. Its not the job of a bunch of rules to imbue your imagined world with meaning, its your fucking job.

Caring too much about the shit the game tells you to care about is a mistake. To be outside things teaches purpose and the hardest, strangest problem you can set yourself is being really good in a D&D world.

(Unless its some wiener-fiction like Dragonlance or whatever, in which case, disregard this rule.)

The deepest paradox of D&D is that characters who have enough wierd shit going on in their head that they will actively do stuff that does not get them XP, for reasons of reasons, are the best characters.

That is, you have to make a character whose reason for being, whose anima, is greater than any of the written rules used to provide a reason for them to exist and grow.

You can't really teach intellectual or imaginative independence. The more instruction you give people telling them "Hey fucko, be more independent!" the less independent they become. You can't _make_ people think for themselves, once you've told them to do it it's too late, the motive force has already come from outside their head.

The only way to teach independence and imagination is to provide areas of silence and darkness which MUST, perforce, be illuminated by the self-generated creative thought of the player. Teaching by paradox is a good way to do that. The paradox creates a zone of silence or cognitive incoherence which can only be resolved by the player taking independent action.

Will Sir Stabbington really return that treasure to those Gnolls just becasue they have legal right to it? You bet your fucking ASS he will because he is GOOD AS FUCK.

To play D&D well you have to be able to say "Fuck D&D! Fuck everything! I'm doing this MY WAY, even if I don't know what that is yet!"


Once you have mastered the central paradox of D&D, you are ready to begin the lesser, but still vital lesson of not being shit at it.

It's still important for you to be broadly, or at least nominally, good. It gives you a point of view and sets you in moral conflict against the world

(Unless its fucking Dragonlance or whatever)

But now we have told the game to go fuck itself we can re-assess our concept of 'good' into something slightly less insanely retarded. Now it can mean 'pro-social' or just 'not a massive rapist'.

Craft is the heart of the thing. Once you have learnt to oppose the very concept of the game itself, now you must translate that same lesson into material logic.

There is no weapon so powerful as the world itself. To one versed in the way (and I can't say 'Tao' because that guy fucked it up), the entire procedure of a world is a tool.

A trap is not a trap, it exists to be found, but more than that, it exists to be found, disarmed, moved and used decapitate those guards as they run out of their room.

A castle is not a castle, it is a handy wrapper for treasure and XP, thoughtfully containing everything you need in one convenient place.

A monster is never a monster, it is food, an ally, a gullible mark, an organic trap, a divertable piece of combat power.

A dungeon is not a dungeon, far from being unknown it is the most-knowable place, a knotwork of closely nested choices which can be understood, un-knotted and re-created to your purpose. Corridors exist to channel your foes, not you, locked doors keep them in, not you out. As a key transforms a gate into a tool, so does the Player Character transform the dungeon into a place of work and play.

3. A DOG

A dog becasue it will teach you to relate to the world in a totally different way. Now you can't use tools, or even communicate easily, plus you are small.

But you have a sense of smell. Now you have to learn to put together a picture of the world through a different sensorium, and irritate the DM by asking exactly what everything smells like.

You are vital to the group, part of it, yet silent and subservient to it. A decision process you formerly tried to influence through words and action, you can now only observe as a dog that is happy to help.

Curious isn't it? The fear and madness and rage for order. All those personalities clashing and combining. All those complex thoughts and feelings intermeshing across dual levels of reality. Now, finally, you see it from the outside, were you really like these people? So loud and anxious and desperate for control? Before you were a dog.

Now there is only sensing, action, and response.

There is nothing for you to worry about and no way for you to rule, you see yourself from the outside as well. The wordless mind of an imaginary dog can encompass more than that of a thought-addled man.

Remember the lesson of the dog. The lesson of the idiot mute.


Now we have dealt with basic concepts we must turn to the lessons of social justice and diversity.

The lesson of social justice is be as totally fucking wierd as you can to the maximum extent always. The lesson of diversity is that if you can fit your identity on a graph, its not an identity, its a group.

(I'm not going to make this 'playing the opposite gender' becasue everyone can do that.

(Unless you are in the deep south or bible camp or something and everyone can't do this, in which case you may replace being gender-weird with just playing the opposite gender.))

You are not a _group_, you are not a _type_. You are yourself alone.

You have to be so fucking _odd_ that people don't even know how to fuck with you. You must terrorise the imagined world into submission, yet you must do this by understanding its rules and placing yourself outside them.

The true hero is a twisted figure of burning majesty and alienated awe, a CRIPPLED GOD.

If we have already learnt to play against the game, to make the world a tool and to place our-self both outside and within the social world of the Players, now we must learn to respect and understand the social reality of the imagined world in the same way. We must be both within and without it.

You can't be deeply, distressingly wierd in a society without understanding that society. You must make yourself a maligned figure of terror and awe. You must feel the eyes of the world upon you.

This is out of respect. Only this figure can imbue this imagined society, this purely fictional population made up of random tables and DM accents, with any of the numinous power of a real society.

And believe me it must have numinous power. Society is the greatest monster.

As worship of a totem imbues it with power, so to does creation of the CRIPPLED GOD imbue the imagined world with power. Like a wound creating flesh. Power enough to harm.

And your imagination must be capable of doing harm, of hurting your, and others, or what is the point of playing with it?

It's not that harm is good, but that nothing of great beauty can be created or experienced without power and there can be no true power without the capacity to harm.


I did this once and it was HILARIOUS.