Monthly Archives: July 2011
‘The elements reign here in frightful and eternal combat, and spirits and other immortal creatures seem plentiful; though for the most part shy and unobtrusive. Even so, I judge it no fit place for civilised man. The country, though quite varied in character, either bristles with forests or is foul with swamp, and is constantly chilled by great troll magics out of Dagori Inkarth. Horses and other pack beasts are of no assistance in the hills and marshes. The trees are older than time, and exceed all marvels with their limitless age and size. Hills are raised up where roots collide.
The stormy heights to the west of Jaskors Hold are remarkable for beasts of chase: stag, elk, roebuck, spreadhorn and horned boar. It is rumoured that fearful aurochs still haunt the wilder parts of the gallt, though I did not care to investigate this personally. Moreover, the wilderness contains a great sufficiency of otters, weasels, and utterly fearless alynx. On account of the great and ceaseless rain (The legacy of SkyRiver Titan), the entire country is dotted with rivers, mires and marshy gors. Their sole redeeming feature is that they contain innumerable eels, snapping turtles and large water wolves, with pickerals, roaches, burbots and lampreys, and sometimes salmon. From these products is made a fearsome fish sauce called blackburn or sticklepick, famed in more civilised climes but wholly repugnant to me after viewing the manner of its manufacture…
The elements reign here in frightful and eternal combat…
As for the Bluefoot, they build neither road nor village, but instead isolated walled steads, joined by treacherous and winding trails. They are rude and wild, though generous in their hospitality and childlike in humour. Their rituals seem entirely devoted to the taking of steam baths in sweat lodges of stone and earth — men one day, women the next, ancestors the third. They all bear fearsome tattoos, women and men both; and despite the constant bathing they never change their clothes. Worst of all, they drown themselves in cats and screaming children.
All in all, I was glad to rejoin the muddy track leading south from Ironspike, turning my thoughts to the civilised comforts and company of Alda Chur.
The Journey through Far Point.
“I have come from learning, vision and verse in Wintertop”.
An oldie but a goldie, here in it’s new home is the early Far Place Essay, Life In Landscape – aka ‘Flora and Fauna of the Far Place’. An exploration of the environment of Far Place and Northern Sartar, the essay deals with flora and fauna, farming, hunting, herding, food and drink and economic exploitation and trade in a systematic but always game- and campaign- friendly way. It was this systematic approach, exploring daily life in a realistic environment, that came to full fruit in Thunder Rebels.
Jump to Life In Landscape: Being, visions of the Far Place, the gors and the gallt, with notes various on flora and fauna, hunting, herding, agriculture, food and matters diverse.
RIPLEY: “It’s just down there, in the basement.”
AARON: ” The whole place is a basement.”
RIPLEY: “It’s a metaphor.”
Conventions both exhaust and inspire you. In the aftermath of Phenomenon, Pip and I have decided on our major joint writing project for 2012. We’re going to tackle an rgp reboot of Alien3, the deeply confused successor to the SF classics Alien and Aliens. Cyberpunk author William Gibson did an early script for Alien3, but the project went through production hell with multiple writers and directors, changes of direction, and massive interference from Fox Studio.
We love the Alien series (though lets not talk about AVP), we respect Ripley. and we’re not going to kill off Hicks and Newt in the first thirty seconds as Alien3 did. Our reboot takes the William Gibson draft as our inspiration, though of course an RPG game has to be very different to a movie script, and we have a few ideas of our own.
The Alien series of films exhibit a high degree of self-awareness, typified by the Ripley quote above. We think the challenge plays to our design strengths: an atmosphere of constant, gritty fear and tension; character insight and development; and a chance to ask and play out a whole series of ideas about gender, embodiment, moral courage, and … parenthood! All with big guns and flashing emergency lights.
Pip and I will be posting on the module’s development over the next few months, and using it as an example of how we design a systemless game. While we won’t be giving away spoilers, we can share ideas knowing that everyone is familiar with the game background and genre. For now, we’re watching the movies and reading Dark Horse comics, the Colonial Marines Technical Manual, and a host of critical books and essays from cultural and film studies. One particular inspiration is Stephen Mulhall’s On Film: Thinking in Action, which explores how the Alien Quadrilogy grapples with a host of issues surrounding human identity.
Note: The poster above is a work-in-progress.