Friday, 21 September 2018

homunculi pt. 2

you can have your homunculus look like anything you want it to but broadly each type varies between two extremes of form and function, depending on what pieces of your mind you put into it

scraps - hair and skin
excreta - shit and piss
meat - muscle and tendon
blood - vein and scab
bone - cartilage and bone
seed - cum and menses

id (cha) ego (int)superego (wis)
scrapsbroken-backed mice of twisted hair, devolving into redwall-esque, prop-twirling pantomime
wishes to flourish and wither, be the centre of attention
no sense of self, a projection of the group unconscious
performative pretenses of humanity; a potemkin being, the facile skin of humanity
unserious, unfocused, fickle, mercurial
doesn't want to do what you say, wants to do what you do
like huge hung sheets of dusty skin enshrining a muddy heart of phlegm
wants to imitate, conform, tidy, make neat and uniform
self-conscious, terrified of attention, freezes or flees when watched
excretaa sluggish bulk of crusty shit, leaching entropic miasma into the ground
is anal-expulsive; spreading, infecting, engulfing
obsessive-compulsive, counting, touching, pacing
anally fixated; obsessed with their interaction with the world, with boundaries and transgression
hyper-focused, childish, archaean efforts to understand, categorise
bile homunculi are more often still in the oral stage, having a desire to eat their way back into the mouth/womb
three score writhing white worms wheezing urea breath from scrunched baby faces
is anal-retentive; refining, isolating, dividing
obsessive compulsively sorts objects, chemicals extracted from objects
meata squat red ape, its head a twisted tongue furred with probing fibrillae
compelled to act; push boulders up mountains, flail until it tears
spasmic motion, self mutilation, mutual annihilation
uses the world as a means to test themself; a sword that's lodged in them is their sword now
pigheaded, quick to anger, wants to solve every problem directly and with force, but understands leverage better than you expected
can never lower the stakes
a fat wad of gristle, ten tendon arms grasping for a hostage, a bomb
only feels secure in the tensest situations; wants to drive things faster, be the only one that can hold on
hypochondriac panic, hysteria, overreaction
blooda lurching anemone of veins and nerves, of pulsing, tumbling, burrowing gait
obsessive exploration, intermingling, a junkie craving for new sensation
of exploration of the outside world, the ego learning to mediate between id and superego
driven, persistent, slow to learn, with the passive thirst of a paper towel
will happily bleed resources away trying the same thing over and over
flat, territorial scabs on the library wall, with white-celled spurs that melt flesh
compelled to clot, seal, hide, hoard
agoraphobic, xenophobic, fears of the unknown
bloata dozen little hogmen, greedy barbarians wrought from a fistful of tallow and a smear of blood
ever chewing, swallowing, absorbing, compulsively gorging
no impulse control, cannot overcome need to eat
terrified by the sensation of time passing, a first fumbling fear of mortality
passionate, melancholy, melodramatic
desperately wants to maximise its lived experience, inevitably drives itself to either swift chaotic death or interminable monotonous starvation 
a still pool of liquid fat, ready to pull you in and set hard around you, while it tries to work out what to do
hibernates, over-thinks, over-plans, wallows in paranoia
cannot parse rapid change, crippled by decision paralysis
bonea mouth-up manta of cartilage, like an ear, puckering to an agile, intelligent tail
flexible, good at adapting its approach, but not its goal
can improvise but struggles to learn
an awareness of past and future, a need to perform better next time
calculating, focused, narrow-minded
tries to optimise performance, flexible enough to adapt, as solid as it can be without shattering
a puzzlebox of tooth-edged knuckles, mind and body splintering into yet more lethal geometries
precision, efficiency, refinement, competition
can learn but not improvise
seedan oedipus; fixated on killing the father-mother and impregnating their body to fuel a glorious biogenesis
instinct driven to multiply, fuck, breed, become legion
the phallic stage; the cusp of psychosexual development, self-determination
complete but not final, not yet perfect
direct, prideful, predatory
an elektra; fixated on killing the mother-father and using their seed to construct another, more perfect homunculus
obsessed with martyrdom, survival of the fittest, anhedonic sex, lustless procreation


and for your troubles, some Patricia Piccinini

jesus christ fucking freud man
some of those wikipedia pages were pretty hard to get through

penis envy? fuck you man
(u 2 jung)
i'll show u something to be envious of
(the above hog)

Thursday, 20 September 2018

homunculi pt. 1

Homunculi are matter made to think it is human. Without stem cells, this is mostly eerie golemesque simulacra - little balls of hair with looping mouths and eyes that serve no real purpose; bubbling, dribbling people of almost-flesh that dissolve into piss when you cut them through There are four orders of homunculi, as follows:


maybe it'd look less creepy with a perm?

Scrapthings and Scrapelings
A knot of hair, a drop of spit, a carefully folded fingernail. Any part of you will do, really. Obedient but with little intellect; a microcosm, a parody of the real self. Often pretty cute, like the dust sprites in Ghibli, scurrying around carrying tiny letters or eavesdropping on your enemies. Sometimes massive; a ghostly heap of transparent skin flakes or a clawing tumbleweed of frizzy hair
Excreta
It's easy to make enormous shitsacks without ever murdering anyone, but they have a stunted, primordial intellect; gut flora trying to replicate human intelligence.
Piss makes things even stupider though - almost no actual human dna in there, just ghost impressions from their time passing through you. Least comprehensible, incapable of performing complex tasks, heaving breaths of burning alkali
A favoured party trick is to grab the saliva from the tip of your tongue and drag up by that thread all the contents of your stomach; a wriggling babyform of acid and bile that screams and wails and tries to crawl back down the nearest throat


okay who put teeth in the shit golem
not funny guys

when bae give you that look like
"i'm gonna burrow veins into you like roots in soft soil"
Bone, Blood and Bloat
The first time you'll be able to craft independently intelligent servants. You probably shouldn't though. Whatever fraction of their form is directly from you is the fraction of your intellect they may develop. The smarter they are the more of a cunt they become, the more likely to stab you in the back
  • Bloodbags are most common, being easiest for a lone practitioner to harvest. They tend to be persistent, but learn slowly
  • Meatwads you can make out of only a few corpses. Maybe a pig if you're desperate. Prone to brutish anger
  • Fatstacks are often found in whaling ports, though adipose tissue is easy to grow if you've got an appetite. They tend to melancholy
  • Skeltal Men, requiring bone marrow, are most rare. They are dense with sense of self, craving cruelty and competition

True Homunculi
Made out of eggs/sperm/uterine lining, they look like a younger, hotter you, and have one of the below traits:
(based on highest stat? i leave it 2 u decide ur destiny)
  1. Magic. Alter self, acid splash, cause mutation, etc, at will (int)
  2. Psychic. Levitating, throwing things around. Maniacal laughter collapses into agonised sobs (wis)
  3. Supernatural beauty and charm. Evident insanity doesn't stop you wanting to do what they say (cha)
  4. Perfect form. +4 to all stats, +4 bonus to everything (dex)
  5. Cancerous. Prone to the whole 'Akira flesh beast' thing, they are only mostly in control (str)
  6. Immortal. Not actually immortal, but they heal all damage they take the next round (con)
If you can mix your own eggs with your own sperm, they get all of the above and probably inspire an inquisition

mother's milk is red today

Whatever you make them out of, at least 1% of a homunculus' volume must be from the caster (often just a drop of blood), or 10% if you want to actually control them. You can mix and match ingredients, with the majority of their form deciding their powers and a small bonus for including more powerful components. Usually you'll use this to, say, build a bone homunculus out of a couple of still-living victims and a pint or two of your own blood, rather than using your own skeleton

You need at least 30kg of matter for a 1HD, medium-sized homunculus, an eighth as much for something small, or eight times as much for something large, etc. Chances are the first True Homunculus you make will be a perfect, post-human brain genius, and also 2 inches tall. For reference, a human body is around 30% meat, 25% fat, 15% bones, 7% blood. Your hair weighs about a quarter kilo, you excrete about a kilo of piss, and one of poop, each day. An ejaculation weighs about 15g so you have to cum like 2000 times to make a 1HD True Homunculus. Seems about right. The average discharge of menstrual fluid is 35g, so you're going to have to fuck with your cycle to make any real progress there either.

For those looking to really play god, there're always teratomas. Constructed from entire ovaries/testicles, these are a mass of cells that, not knowing what to grow into, try to grow into everything. They will expand when fed almost anything biologically adjacent, but blood works best. Preferably your own, to keep things stable. Your baby teratoma will develop fluid-filled cysts as it grows, and if a large cyst occurs there is potential for the production of a fetus. Keeping a teratoma in the sweet spot is difficult. If poorly fed - too varied a diet, too much of someone else's blood, too hot, too cold, etc - its cysts will spawn merely flawed mutants and fleshbeasts, creatures more readily obtained by other means. If overfed, allowed access to a water supply or charnel house perhaps, the teratoma is likely to go full katamari, rolling around squelching up cows and spitting out hiveminded homunculi.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

rooms in dracula's castle

The pitch is - it's 1907. Dracula has been dead for ten years. The powers of Europe anticipate war, and have been scouring the global for occult advantages against their foes. Scavengers of every nation descend on Dracula's decaying castle, intending to sell whatever they find to the highest bidder. Curiously, all the inhabitants seem to think he's still alive.
  1. Bathroom. Big tubs of steaming blood, taps labelled with all the different varieties.
  2. Aviary. Glass dome containing a dark forest and a hundred species of bat.
  3. Apiary. Like the inside of a cathedral, with blood-red honeycombs everywhere.
  4. Library. Grimoires, bestiaries, forbidden histories, homunculi attendants that hate sound.
  5. Kitchens. The world's finest chefs labouring under the instructions of a stupid goblin.
  6. Gallery. Lost paintings by the world's finest artists, all depicting sexy werewolves.
  7. Ballcourt. Teams of Aztec mummies playing the Mesoamerican ballgame.
  8. Conservatory. Slice of the Amazon, with piranhas and lost conquistadors.
  9. Hospital. Jain doctors slavishly tending to the injuries of the castle's rats and mosquitoes.
  10. Wat. Red-robed monks bringing offerings to a giant fanged Buddha statue.
  11. Lake. Pipe organ on island in flooded cave. Dracula is teaching the giant squid to play it.
  12. Opera house. Bloody tragedies and farces being played out for an audience of skeletons.
  13. Seraglio. Fat eunuchs guarding the chambers of rotting, perfumed corpses.
  14. Mirror maze. Midgets in costumes pretending to be your distorted reflection.
  15. Big top. Evil clowns with acid pies playing out a horrible show for skeleton punters.
  16. Distillery. Homunculi brewing up the most delicious blood-based liqueurs.
  17. Saloon. Cowboys drinking shots of snake venom, using the Holy Grail as a spittoon.
  18. Clock tower. Huge grinding gears, flocks of bats, slaves turning wheels to make it all go.
  19. Wax museum. Models of history's greatest villains that come alive when you're not looking.
  20. Forum. Toga-clad philosophers debating the big questions - is God real, is Dracula real, etc.
  21. Lecture hall. A branch of the Scholomance, with the Devil teaching magic to wizards.
  22. Space portal. Guys in brass Victorian diving-suits exploring the toxic surface of Venus.
  23. Vault. Full of talking coins that have complex internal politics, want you to steal their rivals.
  24. Trophy room. Taxidermied animals bragging about how brave the guy who killed them is.
  25. Aquarium. Reef of black coral in a big tank full of blood and happy sharks.
  26. Banquet hall. Ghosts trapped at an endless dinner party, can't leave unless you take their place.
  27. Ballroom. Waltzing jewel-clad skeletons that attack if you disturb their dancing.
  28. Armory. Suits of plate armour endlessly re-enacting the wars fought by their medieval owners.
  29. Blood cellar. Old bottles of priceless vintage blood, guarded by living dust.
  30. Laboratory. Lightning rods and vats of bubbling chemicals, homunculi reanimating corpses.
  31. Archery range. Targets are bleeding naked youths who get off on being penetrated.
  32. Wardrobe. Endless racks of fur coats and ballgowns, infested by swarms of devouring moths.
  33. Stables. Skeleton grooms tending to flesh-eating horses, enslaved heroes cleaning up shit.
  34. Racetrack. Flesh-eating horses chasing terrified jockeys, skeleton bookies taking bets.
  35. Root cellar. Shelves lined with jars of delicious blood pickles, black pudding and clot jam.
  36. Meat locker. Subzero temps. People hanging from hooks, alive but frozen into comas.
  37. Solarium. Glass windows flood the room with sunlight. Only there for ironic purposes.
  38. Kennels. Frightened peasants looking after baying hellhounds and fancy bloodstained poodles.
  39. Torture chamber. Every possible instrument of pain, kept in pristine condition and never used.
  40. Dungeon. Prisoners moaning in oubliettes, some saints and some hideous criminals.
  41. Chapel. Devoted to the Devil, with inverted cross and booths where you confess good deeds.
  42. Games room. Giant chessboard with people as pieces, each square hiding a trapdoor.'
  43. Nursery. Full of creepy cobwebbed dolls and ageless children who want to play forever.
  44. Anatomical theatre. Skeleton doctors eagerly vivisecting somebody you know.
  45. Anechoic chamber. Totally soundless room used to madden prisoners. Holds a vampire hunter.
  46. Cistern. Dark pillared vault full of blood, with hungry eels dwelling below the surface.
  47. Psychomanteum. Chair set up before a dark mirror through which you can speak to the dead.
  48. Arena. Captured slaves of Dracula fighting animals, monsters, skeletons and each other.
  49. Courtroom. Skeleton judge and hulking bailiffs eager to prosecute anyone who walks in.
  50. Feast hall. Vikings who think they're in Valhalla, drinking and roasting meat over fire pits.
  51. Furnace room. Sweating fat guys stoking a fire with the bodies of screaming children.
  52. Observatory. Astronomers with big brass telescopes spying on the secret stars.
  53. Grain silo. Sea of grain crossed by catwalks. Suffocated grain mummies trying to pull you in.
  54. Brain silo. Frozen brains on racks and fresh brains in vats, stirred by homunculi with spoons.
  55. Train station. Crowds of commuters waiting in dead silence for the next locomotive to Hell.
  56. Sauna. Gets hotter every minute you're in there. Labyrinthine. Full of boiled zombies.
  57. Opium den. Crammed with romantic poets. Attendants bring you anything you ask for.
  58. Gentlemen's club. Portly boring men who want you to stay and chat with them forever.
  59. Smoking-room. Kings of Hell in velvet armchairs smoking poisonous cigars.
  60. Monastery. Reverse Trappists, sworn to decadence and never ever shutting the fuck up.
  61. Hotel. Bellboy homunculi sworn to fulfil the guests' every esoteric demand.
  62. Skating rink. A plain of frozen blood. Pale dancers in feathery costumes rehearsing routines.
  63. Laundry. Homunculi using steam and iron to get every spot out of capes and waistcoats.
  64. Bakery. Huge ovens that smell so good you're compelled to try to get inside them.
  65. Mithraeum. Maenads sacrificing a white bull and indulging in cannibal bacchanalia.
  66. Ravine. Rickety rope bridge across a howling bottomless chasm. Bats attack crossers.
  67. Dumbwaiter. Child-sized elevator that offers a cramped shortcut between rooms.
  68. Spiral staircase. Gets hotter and hotter the further down you go. No apparent end.
  69. Sealed bedroom. Imprisons a bride of Dracula, who whispers secrets through the stones.
  70. Rattery. A tiny town built by and for rats, with rat mayor and rat parliament.
  71. Arboretum. A forest of exotic trees, some carnivorous and others home to dryads.
  72. Rappaccinium. Garden of poisonous plants, tended by sexy poisonous people.
  73. Hedge maze. Stalked by topiaries - thorn-toothed wolves and flower-breathing dragons.
  74. Chinese garden. Homunculi with gardening shears that kill you if you damage the feng shui.
  75. Sewers. Sparkling clean, as Dracula does not shit. Full of rats and blind alligators.
  76. Pharaoh's tomb. Hieroglyphs, scarab beetles and a mummy that curses all interlopers.
  77. Menagerie. Decayed iron cages. Monkeys, leopards and peacocks wandering the garden.
  78. Surgery. Tables with straps, needles, scalpels and mad doctors competing for space.
  79. Pigsty. Huge fat black hogs wallowing in scab-coloured mud. Will eat literally anything.
  80. Abattoir. Butchers in leather aprons humanely and painlessly exsanguinating peasants.
  81. Pub. Full of grouchy fat troglodytes who never sleep, leave or sober up. Skeleton barman.
  82. Asylum. Deranged orderlies administering drugs and shock therapy to sane-seeming patients.
  83. Sanatorium. Beds full of consumptives who never get better or die, tended by creepy nurses.
  84. Iron foundry. Badly-burned men with huge hammers getting sloppy with molten metal.
  85. Hangar. Homunculi mechanics working on experimental aircraft, terrified of gremlins.
  86. Barracks. A regiment of skeletons in uniform, lying perfectly still in rows of bunk beds.
  87. Ossuary. Bones made into furniture, mosaics, chandeliers, lovingly cared for by skeletons.
  88. Lighthouse. Torch shining out over a vast black sea, sometimes illuminating monsters.
  89. Submarine dock. Skeleton crew tending to a big brass barnacled Victorian submersible.
  90. Gambling den. Smoky room with skeleton croupiers, punters wagering their souls at dice.
  91. Beach resort. Pebbled beach at edge of underground sea. Pier with carnival games.
  92. Generator room. Steam engines boiling blood to produce evil, sapient electricity.
  93. Tree house. Rickety shack caught in a huge oak's branches. Squirrels and ghost children.
  94. Ice cave. Glacier-walled cavern, home to a family of grumpy yetis and their fleas.
  95. Midden. Cavern full of garbage with ragpickers setting up their own microsociety.
  96. Swimming pool. Hairless guys in rubber caps doing laps in Olympic-sized pool of blood.
  97. Dojo. Guys in black pajamas practicing their ninjutsu against an array of lethal deathtraps.
  98. Portrait hall. Talking portraits of famous people, their spirits eager to possess a human body.
  99. Diamond mine. Slaves hacking valuable jewels out of the walls, driven by skeleton overseers.
  100. Throne room. If you sit in the big black batwinged throne, you become Dracula.

Friday, 7 September 2018

dracula's castle generator

quick and dirty generator for most of the stuff you'll find in dracula's castle
we'll follow this up with more comprehensive room descriptions, at least. maybe some more npcs?


Room Minion Monster Mark
1 ballroomigs
lil babbie igors
all stitches and squeals
communal ooze
has average personality of all brains it's currently digesting
fangs
vampire 101 all drinkin' blood and shit
2gardenbottled steam
wheeze, bump into each other
periodic refills
intelligent fungus
can control bugs
is working on small mammals
claws
can climb walls, sleep comfortably upside down
3kitchenpigboys
all sizes
all colours
trollpile
dump live meat into it and it gets bigger, muskier
wings
flying is more exhausting than you'd care to admit
4 surgerygoblin
more sizes
more colours
barghest
failed attempt at curing lycanthropy
yearns for release, afraid to die
eyes
staring people down makes them weak willed, suggestible
5 labjunklings
garbage robots that don't make sense
automata
some strong Hal 9000 vibes
oh shit the whole castle is alive
ears
you can hear heartbeats, subtext, secrets, lies, people sneaking up behind you
6 throneroom harpies
barbed tongues
rhyme at you spitefully
maddened clone
naked, bloodied, scared shitless
hang on wait - what if they're... the original??!
hair
a luxurious mane swells about you
step back into it and vanish into the shadows
7 aviaryhomunculi
split apart and recombine like smooshed playdoh
fake angel
don't question their legitimacy
way chiller than real angels, though
dreams
turn up in people's dreams, insert your own weird symbology
8 observatoryliving shadows
giggle and chitter
scared of you
chained alien
might just let you handle this one?
skin
shed your form; turn into bats or mist or a sxc jaguar
9 chapelgargoyles
fake sluggishness when you're watching
messiah
pure, soulful eyes
listens intently, believes you, trusts you
voice
better range than aretha franklin
animals are inclined to do what you say
10 wine cellarbad golems
always dried out or too soggy to hold together
shrug a lot
quickened stone
speaks through statues
picky eater
tongue
taste spilt blood like a shark
5" long prehensile tongue
11 dungeongrubsacks
sack full of grubs
indecision tears them apart
corpse bride
melodramatically melancholy
'my, what lovely eyes you have'
blood
regenerate rapidly, unless afflicted by garlic, fire, sunlight, etc
12 wunderkammerchildren
fucking love this place
exceedingly precocious
pagan god
trapped in its idol
seems pretty likeable, actually
sweat
people around you become more passionate, prone to violence and sex
13 dining roomfarm animals
dressed as waiters
humourously bad at their job
haunted liqour
channel its spirit by imbibing its spirits
totally a pirate
memory
gain perfect recall, start dreaming the lives of your ancestors, sire and grandsires
14 opera housewax dummies
imitations of famous people
obsessed with their own histories
skeleton beethoven
wait its napoleon now?
oh right it just depends on the wig
breath
can summon storms, figurative and literal
15 armouryanimated armour
hold racist grudges against the armour they fought against in The War
wizened shifu
wrinkly, know-it-all smile
super old, super good at kung fu
mind
you are always present as a mild psychic throbbing in the subconscious of those around you
16 trophy roomheadless animals
wax seals on the stumps
can still tell when they're looking at you
mannequin
offers cosmetic surgery, taxedermy
snarky, catty
musk
draws vermin to you
causes rot, rust, ruin when you're in a bad mood
17 vaultancient coins
have the personalities of the faces on them
strict hierarchy based on exchange rate
asthmatic dragon
soft-skinned, albino, pedantic bureaucrat
trying, failing to help
spit
anti-coagulant, paralytic saliva
causes fever, delirium if ingested
18 iceboxcrystallised ghosts
throw snowballs, play pranks
snuggle up to keep you warm. it does not help
yeti
writes forlorn poems
incredibly calming influence
laugh
you are captivating
anyone thinking about you is caught up in a glamour, cannot perceive evil or their impending doom
19 librarybookbats
flap about smugly, scattering pages like pigeon feathers
book wyrm
like a 30ft earthworm
reads, converses using digestive tract 
mantle
carry an air of royalty, have the immediate respect of anyone you meet
20 bedroombatboys
skittish, emaciated
make no effort to hide the hunger in their eyes
alucard
"dracula? never heard of him"
actually a dracula impersonator
heart
become undead, completely immoral and a hopeless romantic

"i not know dis dracula. he sound like pretty crazy guy"

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

ESCAPE FROM MURDER CITY

The year is 2018. The future predicted by 80s action films has come to pass. Murder rates have gone up every year since '81 and the East Coast megatropolis that stretches from Portland, Maine to Norfolk, Virginia is a nation unto itself - Murder City, a brutal concrete jungle where nothing is sacred but violence and the only authority is the gun. Even the capital has fallen. The White House is now a crack house, the Washington Monument is covered with graffiti and the legendary ganglord Profezr Skul N Bonez has declared himself the leader of his New United States of Crime.

The current President, real-estate magnate Donald Trump, lives in a fortified penthouse in Vegas and leaves most of the actual decisions up to his vice-president, the military supercomputer MAX. He's supposed to be just a figurehead... but he's the only man who knows MAX's override codes. When his plane goes down over the former District of Columbia, on its way to a peace summit with the Soviets, MAX goes haywire and begins to threaten global war. It has direct access to America's entire nuclear arsenal and in just seventy-two hours it intends to wipe Moscow and Red Peking off the map. The Communists will have no choice but to respond with force.

Rescuing Donald Trump will not be easy. Skul N Bonez is convening his first Criminal Congress, and every gang in Murder City has sent their elected squadron of heavily-armed delegates. The streets are already battlefields and the President could be anywhere. The military is helpless. Only a small, covert squad of loveable rogues and elite tier-one operators stands any chance of getting him out alive and saving the world.

Can you do it?

Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the President?

GANGS OF MURDER CITY
  1. Zombi Disciples. Militant voodoo practitioners who go into battle possessed by loa. Skul N Bonez is their leader and they believe him to be possessed by Papa Ghede.
  2. SKUM - the Society for Killing Ugly Men. Radical feminists on rollerblades, wielding tomahawks and machetes, on the hunt for male scalps.
  3. Da Muscle Machine. Six or seven greasers crammed into a muscle car, blasting rockabilly music, brandishing monkey wrenches and baseball bats.
  4. Red Faktion. Cryptic student Leninists who communicate only through explosions and  performance art. Use a lot of face paint.
  5. Hari Shiva. A procession of orange-robed chanters dragging a huge iron chariot festooned with the skulls of people they've sacrificed to the god of death.
  6. Pinball Wizards. LARPers and arcade fanatics in Renfaire costumes, with real axes and swords. Their leaders shoot lightning from Tesla-coil wizard staffs.
  7. The NYPD. Armed with tear gas and shotguns. Following the broken-windows theory, they're determined to crack down on low-level crimes like walking, talking and breathing.
  8. Morlocks. Deformed cannibal hoboes, clad in rags and filth, who lurk in the sewers and fear light. They attack from below, coming up through manholes and rotten floors.
  9. Skin Ratz. Obsessed with body modification - pierced, tattooed and scarred until they no longer look human. Armed with flechette guns and barbed-wire whips.
  10. Trashers. A secret fraternity of garbagemen in hazmat suits who command rats with special pipes and make their enemies vanish into the backs of their trucks.
  11. OrthodoXXX. Hasidic Jews with razorblades in the brims of their black hats. They lobotomise their strongest enemies, shoot them up with growth hormone and make them into slave-golems.
  12. Ghost Dragon Tong. Spiky-haired kung fu kids in bomber jackets with dragons stitched on the back, carrying handguns and nunchuks, escorting a Fu Manchu type.
  13. Black Emperors. A clan of bosozoku bikers with Rising Sun headbands and authentic Nipponese katanas. Can cut your head off without slowing down.
  14. Sumiyoshi-Kai. Tattooed yakuza with missing fingers, honour-bound to kill anyone who insults them. Famous for their love of American baseball.
  15. The Bratva. Enormous Slavic guys festooned with gold chains, equipped with surplus Red Army experimental weaponry they get from contacts in the USSR.
  16. Los Caballeros. A Mexican biker gang whose members wear scrap-metal plate armour and see themselves as noble Christian defenders of the innocent.
  17. Mosque of Moorish Science. Unorthodox Muslims who believe the white race was created by evil scientists in a lab. Ride horses and dress like Tuaregs, with scimitars and AK47s.
  18. Sanguinem Filiorum. Black-clad, death-pale Goths with daggers and makeshift crossbows who drink the blood of their victims in the belief it will make them into vampires.
  19. Dixie Kings. White supremacists who brew meth in the back of their flag-festooned pickup trucks and are constantly blowing themselves up.
  20. Meatsters. Hairy-chested union boys who tote sledgehammers and drive around in armoured steamrollers, leaving a snail trail of blood. Also bulldozers.
  21. Samoan Brotherhood. Burly Islander guys, big on tattooes and weightlifting, who like to challenge anyone they meet to a bare-knuckle fight.
  22. Cosa Nostra. A phalanx of button men in clean suits and fedoras, equipped with old-fashioned tommy guns, escorting a very fat man who's being carried in a sedan chair.
  23. Patriots. A football team turned guerrilla squad, armoured with shoulder pads and helmets, throwing ball-shaped grenades.
  24. Urchins. Cannibal children who get eaten by their younger comrades on their thirteenth birthdays. Carry knives and lay deadly traps for adults.
  25. Sharkies. A crew of fishmongers in heavy leather aprons smeared with guts, equipped with cleavers and big iron hooks. You smell them before you see them.
  26. Kingdom 69. Fur-coated pimps in Cadillacs who'll kill you for your clothes, with sword-canes and gold-plated guns. Probably not actual pimps.
  27. Spartans. Dressed as gladiators, with spears, shields, nets, loincloths, full-face helmets and trained lions freed from zoos. Do not understand the different between Sparta and Rome.
  28. Rovers. Extremely proud of their Irish heritage. Wear green. Falsely believe they are naturally lucky and take stupid risks because of it.
  29. Pinheads. Punks with mohawks, metal teeth, safety pins stuck through their ears and baseball bats with nails in. Have no chiefs, worship anarchy, impale politicians on spikes.
  30. Disco Lizards. Psychotics in blood-stained jumpsuits with knives in their afros and exploding hand-held mirror balls that spray shards of broken glass everywhere.
  31. Big Nut Posse. Rastafarian outlaws who cruise around in monster trucks, blasting reggae, and go from chilled-out to rabid lunacy at the drop of a hat.
  32. Jaguars. Feather-clad warriors with razor-studded clubs who want to capture you alive so they can carve out your heart and offer it up to their god. They also like basketball.
  33. Black Illuminati. Creeps in golden robes who claim to secretly control the entire universe. Their leaders wear pyramids on their heads.
  34. Sentinels. Guys in camo and war paint who model themselves after what they think the Green Berets are supposed to be like. Use garbled military language and talk about freedom a lot.
  35. Los Muertos. Believe they're already dead and trapped in Hell. Faces are permanently tattooed to look like calaveras.
  36. Kobra Krew. Pentecostals who prove their loyalty to the gang and the faith in the Holy Ghost by handling live snakes. Often missing fingers.
  37. People's Army. Essentially the Viet Cong. Masters of trap and ambush, with punji sticks, explosive booby traps and labyrinthine tunnel complexes.
  38. Outlaws. Wild West cowboys with hats and six-shooters. Massively overconfident, sure they're the heroes of every situation. Ride around on horseback.
  39. Teutonic Order. Leather-clad SS cosplayers, tattooed all over with mystic pagan runes. Refuse to use anything but authenticated Nazi weaponry, which is always too old to work.
  40. BLVDKVLT. Flamboyant Satanists in full-face makeup who bite the heads off bats and compete to see who can be the most performatively shocking.
  41. Babushkas. Hardbitten Russian grandmothers in headscarves whose legions of loyal daughters will tear you limb from limb with iron fingernails.
  42. Elves. Eco-anarchists with stone tools who plant seeds everywhere they go. Accompanied by half-tame predators liberated from zoos. Cut their ears into points.
  43. Stokers. Former firefighters who've become pyromaniacs, spraying flame from the hoses of converted firetrucks and plotting to burn all of Murder City to the ground.
  44. Grin and Tonic. A violent improv troupe who subject you to a fate worse than death by kidnapping you and making you watch their idiot sketches.
  45. Lanyards. Enlightened centrists in white shirts who have a plan to fix all of Murder City's problems with logic and reason, after they've killed all the radicals.
  46. Elohim. Alien sex cultists in tinfoil hats who claim to be abducted by UFOs on a regular basis. No-one knows where they get their weird energy guns.
  47. Squeakies. Drugged-out hippies who follow the teachings of Charles Manson, listening to the Beatles and trying to bring about race war through acts of ritual sacrifice.
  48. North Bay Wolves. Bateman-style Wall St. maniacs with blood between their teeth, hopped up on cocaine and designer steroids. Often confused with the South Bay Wolves, to their chagrin.
  49. South Bay Wolves. Furries who hunt in packs and never take off their full-body animal suits, no matter how sticky they get. Have an ongoing rivalry with the North Bay Wolves.
  50. Captains of Industry. Steampunk gang with blunderbusses and gears glued to their top hats. Every other gang hates them and kills them on sight.
OTHER STUFF
  1. Pith-helmeted aristocrat here to hunt the most dangerous game.
  2. Armoured superjudge who kills criminal-seeming types on sight.
  3. Senile old lady who can't remember the way home and thinks it's still 1979.
  4. Blind homeless ranter who shouts terrible cryptic prophecies at you.
  5. Streetwise taxi driver who'll take you anywhere... for a price.
  6. Pigeon keeper, surrounded and defended by their birds.
  7. Elite computer hacker, almost helpless in the physical world.
  8. Hulking masked slasher who just wants to chop up horny teens.
  9. Muscular idiot ridden around by sly, intelligent dwarf.
  10. Outlaw street ronin with epic katana, here to defend the weak.
  11. Family of terrified urban peasants just trying to get by, hoping you'll leave them alone.
  12. Street market with vendors selling rags, junk, fried rats, broken guns.
  13. Street carnival with fire-eaters, sword-swallowers, orgies of self-mutilation.
  14. Site of recent mass suicide, one or two poisoned survivors having second thoughts.
  15. Sinkhole in street, concealed beneath tarpaulin, full of sewer alligators.
  16. Collapsed skyscraper with scavengers picking through the rubble.
  17. Crashed stealth bomber with atomic warhead leaking radiation into the street.
  18. Pack of ferocious wild dogs, their leader mutated to near-human intelligence.
  19. White tentacles of sewer octopus poking up through manholes, feeling for prey.
  20. Floating psychic brain escaped from government lab, on quest for world domination.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

The Black Auction

Dear ______,

It is the Committee's pleasure to inform you that the Hotel Apophis, located on Talaat Harb Street in the very heart of Cairo's scenic French Quarter, has been selected as the venue for the upcoming Black Auction of 1929. The date has been set for June 21nd, and in accordance with best astrological practices the event will commence at precisely the stroke of midnight. Our schedule runs as follows:

9am - 12pm

Arrivals. For your convenience, the third floor of the hotel has been reserved for Auction attendees, but guests are still advised to book well in advance. Due to the idiosyncratic nature of the event, the Hotel's management have kindly agreed to relax their policy regarding unaccompanied women and natives, but for decency's sake it is still recommended that individuals belonging to either of these categories permit themselves to be escorted by a civilised male guardian. If no qualified candidate presents himself before the due date, the Committee may be able to provide one.

12pm - 1pm

Luncheon. The Hotel is attached to a very fine restaurant, the Café de Luxe, which can boast that it offers a bill of fare equal to any you might encounter in London or Paris. The chef, Monsieur Gaspard, spares no expense in reproducing exactly the dining conditions of his native Montmartre, and if not for a tragic fire would likely still be working there today. The Committee is happy to assure you that his disfigurement has in no way affected his culinary skills. All meals are gratis for Auction attendees, and any special dietary requirements can easily be catered to by the Hotel's tireless staff.

1pm - 6pm

Relaxation and sight-seeing. For those wishing to view such tourist attractions as the Museum of Antiquities, the Citadel of Saladin, the Alabaster Mosque, the Hanging Church, the Islamic necropolis, the city's notorious souks and, of course, the pyramid complex at Giza, the Hotel can easily provide a knowledgeable and trustworthy local guide. The Committee kindly asks that attendees refrain from casting the Auction into disrepute by patronising any of Cairo's innumerable opium-dens, drinking-houses and brothels, and can upon request provide a map of these locations so that the discerning traveller knows precisely which areas to avoid. Those visiting the Sphinx are politely requested to bring Her a small gift or offering of some kind, as She has in the past looked unkindly on the Auction and Her influence is not to be underestimated.

6pm - 7pm

Dinner. This will, again, be provided by Monsieur Gaspard. The menu has been determined in advance and cannot at this stage be changed. Alternative arrangements can be made for those with an aversion to tartare. In keeping with the spirit of the event, however, the Committee advises against undue squeamishness and recommends that attendees remain open to unconventional experiences.

7pm - 10pm

Light entertainment. The Bar Apophis is one of Cairo's most exclusive watering-holes, and shisha is available at every table for those of a teetotal or Mohammedan persuasion. The staff's discretion is assured. The popular stage magician Ching Ling Choo, Master of the Mysterious Orient, has been retained to astonish us all with his marvelous feats of misdirection and legerdemain. He is under the impression that he will perform for a troupe of rare-book collectors, and the Committee considers that it is unnecessary for any attendee to inform him of the true nature of the event.

10pm - 11pm

Meditations. After the show, the Committee suggests that attendees devote an hour to communing with any Higher Influence that may be willing to guide, command and protect them. The utmost efforts will be made to provide any tool or facility that may be necessary for such communion, but the Committee regrets that it cannot be expected to cater for every conceivable desire, and asks that attendees make some effort ahead of time to ensure that all their needs will be provided for. The Hotel's basements are spacious enough to accommodate any number of groups or individuals seeking privacy. Those who lack the protection of a Higher Influence are strongly encouraged to burn this invitation and think no more on the matter.

11pm - 12am

Propitiations. Attendees will gather in the second-floor smoking-lounge to make the appropriate placatory offerings. We are sensitive to the impact this may have on those of delicate constitution, especially neophytes and ladies, and our Master of Ceremonies will be on hand to assist anyone whose hand may falter at the critical moment. Participation is, however, mandatory. Attendees are advised not to wear their best clothes, and time has been provided in which to return to one's room and change one's outfit.

12am - Dawn

The Auction. It will take place in the Yellow Ballroom. The dress code is formal. All weapons, and all personal grudges, are to be checked at the door. Security will be provided by select members of the Egyptian gendarmerie, as well as private forces in the Committee's employ. Anyone seeking to provoke a repeat performance of the unfortunate events that took place at last year's Auction in Lisbon will be politely but firmly escorted off the premises. The Committee reserves for itself the right to expel any guest, at any time, for any reason. It understands that the Auction can be expected to provoke the full range of human emotion, but it must nonetheless insist that attendees maintain an appropriate level of respect for the proceedings. Its decisions, as always, are final.

We are delighted this year to welcome to the Black Auction a number of distinguished guests, some old hands and some in attendance for the first time. We are especially happy to induct into our number His Majesty Fouad I, by the grace of God King of Egypt and the Sudan, Sovereign of Nubia, Kordofan and Darfur. We consider it a tremendous honour to be graced with His Majesty's presence, and it is our sincere hope that he does not leave the premises unsatisfied. We would also like to bid a cheerful hello to Princess Elizabeth, our youngest ever attendee at a mere three years old, and trust that with the assistance of the Auction and the kind aid of her guardians she will soon be able to recover from the mysterious illness that has been plaguing her. As a final note, we would like to remind attendees that the small, bald, unhappy man whom you might spy loitering around the corners of the Hotel, and who goes by the unfortunate name of Crowley, is not, in fact, an official guest of the Auction. He may protest otherwise, but we can assure you that we have not yet lowered our standards to his degree! If this man bothers you, simply inform a member of the Hotel staff and proceed about your business in the certain knowledge that he shall be rapidly removed.

We trust that you anticipate the Auction with the greatest eagerness, and look forward to welcoming you to the Hotel Apophis. As always, we can guarantee that the whole event will be conducted under a veil of absolute tact and discretion. A partial catalogue is enclosed with this invitation, and we encourage you to peruse it at your leisure.

Yours in Confidence,
The Black Auction Committee,
April 1, 1929

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The Parakeet Plains

The plains grow cold at dusk. The sullen black cones of volcanoes slouch against the western horizon, flanks scarred by mineworks, waiting to eat the sun.

The only sheltered places to camp at night are the steel-blue glacial lakes that scar the stony dry earth. The russet-red grass is flecked with guano and the delicate rainbow feathers of parakeets, who gather each evening in the canopies of the prickly araucania pines to feast on nuts and night-insects. Their screeching is unbearable, a constant raucous thunder. It becomes impossible to sleep, speak or think. Only the Piquenche, the funniest people in the world, can tolerate it for the length of a journey without going even madder than they already are. They roam the plains on horseback, in war-troupes and nomadic bands, hunting half-deaf glyptodon and macrauchenia with their ludicrously tiny feathered spears. Their short lives are devoted to comedy and war.

The pox-priests of the Doleful God, who eternally mourns the wickedness of His children, have their missions in the mountains. Slaves from the fertile seaward lands quarry copper for their house-sized Inevitable Bells, hoisted high as possible to broadcast doom-laden peals for miles around. Knights, prospectors, gauchos, bandeirantes and inquisitors gather in shanty-towns at the mountains' edge, hoping to play their part in opening the plains up to cattle-grazing and general exploitation. So far they have had little success.