Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Strangely Beautiful

Author Leanna Renee Hieber has created an alternative Victorian London that merges ghost-hunting, Jack the Ripper, capital-R Romantic love, and a healthy dose of post-Harry-Potter magic in her novel Strangely Beautiful. Originally published as two books in 2009 and 2010, Hieber's story features a beautiful, innocent young woman raised in a convent and dropped into a supernatural battle that will change the course of her life. She describes this book as "Victorian Ghostbusters" and seeks within its pages to create a new brand of Gothic with a modern sensibility.

How will Jack and Kate react to this fanciful new spin on tried-and-true suspense tropes? Why does Kate loathe the male lead more than any other character from any other book they've read so far? When does a wish-fulfillment fantasy for a teenager become a horror story for a middle aged person? And how do Jesus, Snape, and Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS figure into all of this? Find out all this and more in this month's episode of Bad Books for Bad People.

Listen to the episode here!

Find us at BadBooksBadPeople.com, on Twitter @badbooksbadppl, Instagram @badbooksbadpeople and on Facebook. You can discover where to get all the books featured on Bad Books for Bad People on our reading list.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Three Guns of Scarabae

Discovered in a hidden underwater burial chamber, the legendary sword Hexenburn belonged to a king of a rain-soaked and dismal island. The machinations and maneuvers that brought the sword to the Western Territories are many and lurid; a number of tall tales circulate about the weapon’s westward move–its own sacred Manifest Destiny–and all of them feature some admixture of assassination, seduction, unholy curses, and base deceit.

Hexenburn’s form was changed–though its nature remains the same. The fabled blade was melted down and its metal used to craft an exceptionally fine pistol. 
The newly-reborn Hexenburn has had a number of supernatural powers attributed to it. It’s said to give its bearer a powerful, commanding presence. It’s also a boon companion for gunfighters; when drawn from its holster, it emits a blinding flash that often stuns rival shootists. The holster is at least as remarkable as the weapon it holds. The wearer of Hexenburn’s holster may be wounded grievously, but his or her wounds never bleed. 

Mortal Pain
The ornate, enchanted rifle known as Mortal Pain is adorned with scrimshaw inlays carved from the bones of a great sea serpent. The rifle itself is beautiful, but mundane; it is its scrimshaw ornamentation that holds the weapon's deadly magical power. Mortal Pain is often thought of as a weapon of last resort--it has been used to kill brothers and sons who refuse to quit their quarrels with their siblings and fathers.

Shot fired from Mortal Pain hits with the force of seven pieces of ammunition; indeed, each ball fired from the gun splinters into seven separate projectiles within the body of its target, causing tremendously damaging wounds. Anyone wounded by the rifle can never heal completely from its shot–whether through natural healing or magic–until the shot is removed. 

Built from materials salvaged from an ancestral relic, Oathbreaker is a fearsome double-barreled pistol with a curious history. In its original form, the weapon that would become Oathbreaker was passed down through the generations by the scions of a blooded family of the northern reaches. When the current bearer of the gun was executed for treason, it was disassembled and refashioned into two powerful weapons, one of which was named Oathbreaker.

Oathbreaker given to a warrior by his noble father as an incentive for the son to give up his knighthood and govern the familial seat, but the knight refused his father's offer and instead gifted the weapon to a woman he tasked with finding and protecting the daughter of the supposedly treasonous northern lord. Anyone bearing Oathbreaker is effected by a powerful geas to complete the task of import. The first barrel transmogrifies its shot into a ball of abyssal flame. The second barrel transmogrifies its shot into a blast of elemental cold.

Friday, May 19, 2017

People Kicking Around in My Sandbox

Over at The Vanishing Tower blog, Jay Murphy has adapted my World Between setting for the Renaissance d100 system. I think that system is a really good fit for the campaign setting.

B. W. Mathers has been running a campaign set in my Scarabae setting. Here's an actual play report.

Mr. Mathers has also continued to do cool stuff with the Major Arcana of the Scarabae setting. Here's his take on The Fool, The Magician, and The High Priestess.

...and The Empress, The Emperor, and The Hierophant.

Information on the Courts of Swords, Cups, Coins, and Wands.

...and he rolled-up a character I hope I get to see soon in my online Scarabae games.

Check out these five islands for Scarabae.

House Stillwater, a woman-run criminal syndicate in Scarabae.

This post of mine on Sloppy XP got discussed a bit on the ggnore podcast. They agree with me because I am very correct. Now I just need to convince them that it's okay to describe combat in an rpg and that rolling to check for stuck doors is goofy and my grand work will be complete.

I think I linked this before, but G. S. Smith used my Thirteen Questions to make a City of Intrigue.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ides of Gemini, Igorrr, Volur

Both of these two music videos feature currently as part of the Krevborna soundtrack that exists only in my head:

Ides of Gemini, "Heroine's Descent"

Igorrr, "ieuD"

Volur, live at the Music Gallery (thanks to Cole Long for this one)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Playing D&D in Virginia with Goths, Punks, and Metalheads Who Have Important Jobs


Over the weekend I drove down to Virginia to play some D&D with a convergence of friends from the DC/NYC/NJ/Toronto areas. The drive was made much more pleasant by listening to the Boiled Leather Audio Hour on the way.

BLAH is a Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones podcast hosted by Sean T. Collins and Stefan Sasse. I don't agree with everything they have to say--I still don't buy that Game of Thrones isn't exploitative in its presentation of violence--but they raise a lot of interesting questions and have solid insights into the franchise.

I made a new first level character for the weekend's game:

Ivy Valerio, half-elf knowledge cleric. Ivy was abandoned or orphaned as a baby and left on the doorstep of an ascetic devoted to Jergal. Ivy grew up being trained as an undertaker and priestess of the forgotten god of death. Ivy was designed to be bad at combat; her low strength and dexterity meant that she is better off not using her mace or crossbow. Instead, she relies on her magic (sacred flame and inflict wounds) for damage--which was slightly a problem when I had to help destroy a magic diamond since I couldn't target it with any spells since it wasn't a "creature." Oops.

The rest of the party: gnome barbarian with an abiding hatred of goblins, dragonborn rogue who was formerly a fashion designer, human dandy highwaywoman, and a vengeful half-elf paladin.

Things that happened in game:

  • Our most harrowing fight was against giant badgers.
  • We may have used oil and ball bearings to remove a dead giant from a hole in the top of a stone pyramid.
  • It is inappropriate to call a magical barrier a "hymen."
  • Giorgio, the dragonborn rogue, nearly died and was brought back from death's door by magic so many times that he began to prefer the idea of death to constantly being brought back from beyond the pale.
  • Other things fought: tiny shrunken goblins, orbs with tentacles and a hovering magic diamond, kobolds, magma men.
  • We callously killed a small bear, which is probably for the best as it is likely we would have used it as a canary in a coal mine if we had kept it alive.
  • A small giant is just a dude.
  • I tried to use my character's shield as a stepping stone to cross a river of lava and rolled a one on my Athletics check. But fuck it, I survived and messed up a magical sigil of the Prince of Evil Elemental Fire. Fuck that guy.
  • We hit second level, y'all.

Giorgio's player is the least experienced with D&D, so I made her this icon-coded character sheet. So when she was like "What is my speed?" I could say "It's by the boot." I also brought a set of color-coded dice so I could say "The blue one is the d4." She said that both were helpful.

Also, I drank a liquor called Incredible Hook.

Opinion was split on the merits of Incredible Hook; reactions ranged from "disgusting poison to "delicious, smooth poison." I was in the latter camp.

My partner-in-podcast brought me back this rad vinyl soundtrack to Castlevania from the Roadburn festival. 

The hostess of D&D weekend gave us all prints from her recent art show. This is now mine.

Gotta find some wall space for it.

What did I listen to on the drive back?

I ran out of Boiled Leather podcasts to listen to, but I can tell you that this Ides of Gemini album is real good.