Archive for February, 2009

Cult Following

27 Feb

It is indisputable that evil cults are an absurdly common standby in storytelling. Whether or not they’re overused is a matter for debate.

It’s easy to see why storytellers use them: many stories are about heroes squaring off against demons/spirits/dark gods/talk radio hosts that are extremely powerful and rare-to-unique. The ultimate goal will, of course, be defeating/banishing/censoring said entities, but the audience will usually expect a bit of conflict besides the big boss battle at the end. Using less powerful editions of these ultimate enemies (imps, spirit grunts, college radio freaks) as sparring partners for the protagonists may cheapen the impressiveness factor of the entity in question; more often than not, fighting one big demon after 1,315 smaller demons is a bit less epic.

Cultists, human or otherwise, offer a useful solution by providing hordes of cannon fodder loyal to the archvillain. They offer several advantages: they’re familiar, they’re fanatical, they’re ultimately faceless and (most importantly) they’re available in theoretically infinite quantities. They are to supernatural menaces what henchmen are to natural ones: an endless supply of easily defeatable lackeys that do all the chores and violence the villain can’t be bothered to do.

If swarms of evil cultists have a flaw as a storytelling device, it’s that usually, not enough thought is given to them.

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Rutskarn: The D&D Personae

26 Feb

Hopefully, none of you have seen this before.

When I quit World of Warcraft, I didn’t want to waste the concept of a mechanical squirrel-vending hombre with a rotted lower jaw and the demeanor of a used car salesman. I did what I’ve never done before: I recycled the concept for a D&D character. Every other character I’ve made was from scratch, but the temptation to give Rutskarn an actual backstory and character sheet was too tempting to pass up.

Here’s his backstory, reprinted for your viewing pleasure.

Note: Blah blah blah tired blah, blah blah busy week, blah spelling errors blah. Consider this a very rough, back-of-the-napkin-style notewriting session.

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Vatsy and Bruno, Part 5

24 Feb

The trainyard was sprawling, stark, grey, and filthy. Much of it consisted of a thin band of metal walkway, winding around with a train track on one side and the alleyways and ticket booths on the other. The trainyard was mostly covered by a corrugated iron roof, creating sheltered spots for prospective passengers to wait. There were benches, trash, and abandoned luggage scattered all throughout the shady expanse.
Vatsy and Bruno hurtled down a mostly empty stretch of trainyard, dodging rubbish and benches as they raced towards the first platform.
Bruno glanced over at Vatsy, checking to see how well he was holding up after the past few minutes of sprinting. Somewhat surprisingly, given his sedentary nature, Vatsy was keeping up without even breathing hard. Bruno suspected that Vatsy had some sort of unspeakable power source within his emaciated ribcage, some internal generator that granted him endless surpluses of energy. If such a generator existed, it was probably fueled by sanity or restraint. Read the rest of this entry »



23 Feb

Due to a few workload-related issues, the posts this week will be running a tad late.

I hope to contain this so that there’ll be a fiction post Wednesday and Thursday, the Pretty Picture post and another post Friday, and a special post Saturday. This is a best-case scenario, understand, but I’ve already got some of the legwork done.

As a consolation, some bright-eyed and enterprising rapscallions have been graciously offering all of the members of Chocolate Hammer pharmeceuticals without prescriptions (no doubt an exclusive offer). If you’d like to support these enterpreneurs, please meet me at the nearest firing range to discuss the details. Wear a shirt with a target on it so I’ll know it’s you.


World Creation 14: The Fuzz

22 Feb

Welcome to the penultimate World Creation post. Yeah, the series is almost over, brings a tear to my nonexistent eyes, etc, etc. It’s been fun, but I’m really looking forward to the series that’s going to replace it.

Enough about that, anyway. Plenty of time for wistful reflection next post–for now, let’s get down to business.
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The Week to Come

21 Feb

Dear Reader,

I am a Nigerian racquetball coach who is need of assistance in transferring a large quantity of chocolate coins out of the country, as part of a plot to depose the current Nigerian republic and institute a monarchy to aid in all future scams. I require your aid. Please post your address, credit card number, bank account information, favorite color, true name, secret handshake, and the code to the United States Nuclear Arms Division weapons cache, and you will receive a free sprinkle-cone at all participating Radio Shacks.

In the meantime, expect the following:

  • Outreach for the Stars
  • Abandoned
  • Vatsy and Bruno
  • Horrific Images
  • The Secret Origin

Fun Fact for the Week: Scientists have recently discovered a wrong way to eat a Reese’s. It involves a can of off-white paint, a loaded set of dice, a fishook and the Necronomicon. Reese’s has responded to this information by including a safety brochure with every package.


Horror Beyond Imagining

19 Feb

NOTE: For all non-GitPers, I recommend you read the summary before clicking “more”.

This one will require a bit of explanation.

On the Giant in the Playground forums, sometimes there’ll be special weeks where the community modifies their avatars to fit a certain theme. For example, there’s Baby Week, where everyone creates baby versions of their avvies, Noir Week, where everyone makes Noir versions, and so on and so forth.

This week is Gender Bender week, in which the avatars are modified along gender lines. I was pushing for steampunk week instead, which got canned. As a form of token revenge, I swore that I would make my Genderbent avatar as disturbing as humanly possible. The results…ain’t pretty.

Here is my regular avatar:

Full-size of twisted version below the fold.

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Darker and Edgier, Part Deux

18 Feb

Welcome to another edition of Guess the Franchise, in which I take a beloved franchise, warp its message, twist and break its foundations and sprinkle on an utterly unnecessary and superficial layer of grit. Just like a real producer!

Same rules as last time: I present a dystopian setting, and you guess the franchise I based it off of. Answers in the comments.
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Vatsy and Bruno, Part 4

17 Feb

It took the thugs a minute to get to a point where both of them were comfortable speaking. The less beaten leaned against the wall, anxiously eyeing Bruno’s impassive expression. The other sat down against the opposite wall, clutching his jaw and moaning quietly.

Vatsy held his pen above the notepad, settling down opposite the pair.

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16 Feb

(This post is unrelated to the World Creation series or Vatsy and Bruno.)

He didn’t choose a title, content with the one the people chose for him: The Tyrant. It was both natural and sufficient, effectively describing the figure they knew only from the statues and images dotted throughout the city.

To his subjects, he was not so much a person as a force, an unseen element that drove the brutal executions, raids, and reigns of terror that washed the streets red on a daily basis. Although all sensed him, through the violent acts of his thugs and the pains of heartache and endless labor, precious few had ever seen him face to face, an honor reserved for his allies and those civilians he personally condemned to death.

Only those closest to him–his advisors, his bodyguards, his overseers–could claim to know anything about the man himself. In fact, most of that what they “knew” was rumor, whispered hearsay surrounding his circumstances. They knew only two facts for sure.

Ten years ago, nobody had heard of him.

Nine years ago, he took the throne.

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