randoms ix: ‘sind’

“I torched an orphanage one time,” she says. “None of the kids were harmed. We just stood outside and watched and laughed whilst the deep-red bright-yellow flames took the whole of that horrible place down to the ground.” 

I don’t have anything to offer. 

“When the constables arrived—after the fire brigade and the one unnecessary ambulance—everyone said it was me. The kids all bold and happy with the fact, you know? Proud that I had rescued them from everything that went on there. They thought the grown-ups would understand. Be grateful.” 

A pause while she lights another cigarette. No matches. She just holds it between her fingers and the end sparks and catches just-so. If there’s a trick to it I don’t see how it’s done. Something chemical or…  Continue reading

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randoms viii: matchbox signs

What did he look like?

 French.

 

I don’t understand what you-

 

Like a French actor maybe. One of those ones from the seventies or eighties? Unshaven, rail-thin and scruffy at the edges, but cool with it in a rumpled blue suit, black lace-up shoes; like he’s been out all night and doesn’t care who knows it. His nails were clean and long. That’s all I remember. I didn’t get a good look.

 

What was he doing when you saw him?

 

Walking and watching, mostly. Step a few paces from here to there, stop, and then wait and look around, like that, you know?

 

And that’s all you-

 

I saw him reach into an inside pocket of his jacket. He took something out—a few times—put them in his mouth. You could imagine the crunch. Continue reading

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Review: Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef

Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef
Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef by Cassandra Khaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is glorious. For something so short it certainly crams in a lot of ingredients: gods, monsters, down-at-heel ex-mob chefs, gluttons, gourmands, angry ghosts, colonialism, assimilation, ancient vs modern, a bustling cityscape both bright & wild and grimy-drab…

It’s got everything and all of it is mixed to perfection to produce a noirish yet numinous tale of one strangely compelling not-exactly-hero caught in the midst of a grand parade of terrifying grotesques.

Cassandra Khaw brings incredible depth to her world; a turn of phrase or well crafted image hinting at onion skin layers of history and politics and meaning and mystery, all waiting to be revealed beneath every place and every action. Despite the supernatural subject matter, this reads always as a story of real place, and real (strange) people.

Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef rattles along in fast and thrilling style and manages to skip from visceral horror to easy violence to genuine heart-breaker pathos whilst never missing a step or leaving you behind. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

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“You take this much damage…”

#RPGaDay question one: Real dice, dice app, diceless or some other resolution method?

Has to be dice, doesn’t it. I’ll get back with some details later. In the meantime, a picture

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randoms vii: waste ground poppies

“You can’t walk up and stick a bullet in this guy. That’s just-”

Albrecht knows better. “I’m a pretty good shot.”

“Ain’t what I mean,” Mato says. Shakes his head. His face is hard to read in the dimness of this makeshift bar. “That’s not it at all.”

Albrecht sighs, runs a slow hand across her buzzcut hair; she’s got bandages and splints on a couple of her fingers, bruises fading across her knuckles. “Okay,” she says at last. “Let’s have it then. Everything you know.”

Mato gives her nothing.

Albrecht uses her good hand to push a full bottle of bourbon across the table. Backs it up with two packs of cigarettes, still sealed, Prime quality. “Tell me about Topper.”

This story will be a sequel to this oneBroken Rooms: Observe & Report

Broken Rooms RPG

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#RPGaDAY2015: Part Eight, the Last Patrol

Day Thirty-one: Favourite non-RPG thing to come out of an RPG?

I’d been working on a post-apocalyptic novel called COLD MERIDIAN when I first encountered the game Apocalypse World, and it probably influenced the general feel of the book in a great many ways.

A year or so later on, with the novel still very much a work-in-progress, I played in a session of Apocalypse World at the Q-con games convention in Belfast, and decided to choose a character book that suited one of the characters I’d been dealing with in the novel. The Cold Meridian novel character is called Jager Chanco; basically she’s a dying-Earth-future bodyguard for a creepy psychic guru as he tours various religious compounds (called religs) in the wastelands.

The Apocalypse World character was an androgynous battle-babe called Snow, and Snow’s exploits (with some tweaking here and there) became the tale of a character called Frost who appears in the story “Under the Green Witch” from the Fox Spirit Books Girl at the End of the World anthology, volume 2.

girl at the end of the world volume 2

This is the second of two epic volumes containing tales of all manner of apocalypse and the varied stories of the women and girls who have to deal with what’s left.

Full details and links here: Girl at the End of the World

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#RPGaDAY2015: Part Seven, Island of the Lizard King

Day Twenty-six: Favourite inspiration for your game?

Music.

I’ve had a few characters, campaigns etc sparked off by watching a particular movie (for example I think the recent NOAH film might make a neat Apocalypse World hack) but in the main I think it’s music that does it. There’s a different buzz for creation there.

Anything from Jethro Tull and Bob Dylan to Gary Numan and Heaven 17; not to mention everything inbetween/around/before/after.

I’m never sure if the music is the inspiration itself or if it’s simply making things coalesce.

Example: I’d planned to do some kind of superhero background, so that was very much in mind, and then I was listening to March the Mad Scientist by Jethro Tull and it clicked with what I had bubbling away in my head.

The lyrics of that song (“and March the mad scientist, brings a new change…”) added to Rage In Eden by Ultravox and a few other things, led to my MARBLE ARCH superhero campaign (“and they were the new gods, and they shone on high”), which appeared in slightly altered form as the DECEMBER STORM variant Earth in the original Nearside Project game.

Different music might have resulted in a somewhat different setting?

Continue reading

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