Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Music, Chimes, and Singing Golems

Long, long ago, before the Swordfish Islands ever came into being as a concept, I was reading through the AD&D DMG looking for interesting magical items to put in the paths of my players, and I "rediscovered" the Chime of Opening. I've read the magical items section of that book hundreds of times, but the possibilities surrounding the idea of a chime that can open things had never resonated for me. This is probably because I *love* playing thieves, *love* getting my hands dirty with lockpicking, and absolutely despise anything that makes noise and might reveal my location, or attract unwanted attention.

On this night however, I was struck with how awesome it would be if an entire civilization was built around this "opening via sound" idea, and began pondering the societal repercussions of this mechanism. I ultimately passed on using the chime as treasure in that game, deciding that a scarab of insanity and horn of blasting would be more fun in the hands of the players, but the idea stuck with me.

Fast forward several months, and Wintergreen, The Diviner and I, first begin discussing the game that would become the Swordfish Islands. I decided I really wanted to run with this magical musical stuff for our lost civilization of elves, and combining it with their love of stoneworking, the "Singing Golem" was born.

Below is a rough draft of the Singing Golem. Enjoy!

Name: Singing Golem
Size: 4' to 7' tall
Description: Singing golems are animated constructs carved from single blocks of solid stone into idealized elven forms. They were made from only the most beautiful and exotic types of stone, and were carved to resemble males, females and even children as the aesthetic tastes of their makers fluctuated with the inconstant currents of fashion. Many of the statues are nude, or covered in ways that merely enhance their eroticism. Singing golems are so named because their lower jaw can open, similar to a wooden nutcracker, and sound magical chimes contained within their head or chest. The golems are typically only capable of emitting a single note or chord, but some more elaborate individuals can sing a short series of notes and chords. Few singing golems are found in good condition. Most are riddled with cracks, in pieces, missing limbs or weathered to the point of being featureless, and yet the original enchantments of the elves still hold, allowing them to wander, sing, and attempt to complete their last programmed tasks.
Diet: None
Social: Solitary, unless originally designed as a set.
Den: Singing golems require no rest or sleep, but their elven owners often constructed storage rooms for them in their homes and active golems will still attempt to return to these designated areas at their assigned times, even if ruined, underwater, or otherwise inaccessible.
Combat: Singing golems are not equipped or programmed to fight. They were constructed purely as ornamental servants to display their creator's social status and magical aptitude. Most were also specifically programmed to not retaliate to aggression so their master could dispose of them in spectacular fashions.
Trade: Chimes (see Special), and their bodies or pieces of them would be prized by any who collect aesthetically pleasing and exotic things.
Quote/Rumor: "The elves that didn't kill each other were turned to stone. Sometimes you can even see them wandering in the jungles. Just don't look into their eyes."
Special: The elves of the Swordfish Islands locked their homes and belongings with music instead of conventional mechanical locks. In addition to filling the role of servants, transport, labor, gardening, etc., singing golems acted, quite literally, as the keys to the elven kingdom. The golems are capable of being magically "programmed" to perform a variety of simplistic or repetitive tasks by skilled magic users.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Charlie Parra del Riego - Indie Metal Monday

This music, right here, is the guilty pleasure on which all games should be built. Both the cover and the music clearly communicate the "fuck you I'm awesome" vibe that the world needs more of. So many companies and people are using the word "epic" these days, and I think that's terrible. Epics are long, sad, hard, and filled with death and struggle. There's a time and a place for epic in everyone's life, but what I think people are actually trying to express when they use the word epic these days is actually "glorious".

Charlie Parra del Riego, of Lima Peru, is glorious.

Not convinced by that album cover? Listen to track #7 "Trapped". Wagner captured Valkyries as they are when viewed through the forgotten mists of time. Charlie here captures Valkyries as they are when they drive down from the heavens in their white and gold convertible in full on, unapologetic "explosions, tits and space" mode (brought to you by Michael Bay).

"Trapped" is pure confection. The world needs to know about it, so they can use it in fan made machinima and cartoon/anime music videos until we all become diabetic from the sugar poisoning. The rest of the album is brilliant and you can really see the respect he pays to the music that came before him in "Punk vs Metal" and "Rocanroll Psycho".

Life is fleeting. We're all going to die. Make something, and make it fucking glorious!

A Creation Story

I've always believed that creation stories are best when carved onto a wall and forgotten in the jungle for several thousand years.

Friday, February 22, 2013

A $67,000 Pen

This is a limited edition Montegrappa "Chaos" fountain pen that was apparently designed by Sylvester Stallone. It's currently listed on Amazon for $67,000. This thing practically begs to be made into a magic item... but what? It can't be something as common as a pen that draws life. I mean, it's got a skull, lizards and a sword with a winged skull on it. This thing's got to be metal.

If you throw out its size, maybe it could be a scroll case? But what's on the scroll? End of the world spell? True name of a demon? List of "sold" souls?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Temple - Indie Metal Monday

Are you currently suffering from lockjaw and need a fix? Try some jaw-droppingly awesome Temple. These two badasses from Phoenix are sure to set your brain ablaze with their compellingly awesome experimental, sludgy, doomy, deathy, instrumental metal.

Their album "On the Steps of the Temple" was released back in August 2012 with six tracks and 53 minutes of win. The first track "Mountain" and the last track "On the Steps of the Temple" are especially exceptional, but the entire album is solid.

To use an old fashioned rhetorical device, you may be asking yourself "But how can I use this music to augment or inspire my gaming?!" Have no fear friends, I've got you covered. Below you will find a short list of common gaming tropes and an indication of whether or not Temple will work for you.

Is your group:
  • Exploring a dwarven forterss? Fuck yeah.
  • Wandering through halls of undead? Absolutely.
  • Trying to defend a village of bumpkins from a goblin army? 1000 times yes.
  • Investigating a gold mine choked in black mold and zombies? You know it!
  • Playing patty cake in the magical wood with talking bunnies and big Disney style eyes? Maybe.
    • Do these creatures explode into blood ala Happy Tree Friends? Oh yeah!
Give 'em a listen. You won't be disappointed, and the first track "Mountain" may actually cause your face to melt off.

Butter Lettuce

Alright kidos (and maybe not so kido). It turns out that if you search for "Bravest Warriors Porn" on google images, the image in my post on how awesome the Bravest Warriors show is comes up as the ~4th picture.

Ever since I made that post the blog's been getting a low, but consistent, number of hits each day from people searching for Bravest Warriors Porn. For srs guys. I'm pretty sure you're ending up on this blog 'cause I've got "Playing D&D with Porn Stars" linked in the side bar, and that link, combined with mentions of Bravest Warriors is likely the combination responsible for triggering those search results.  Sorry to disappoint, but there's no Bravest Warriors Porn here.

Herakles and Omphale

But I get it. I mean... the Greeks and Romans loved painting dirty pictures on their walls, or carving them out of marble, and most of those dirty pictures involved their heroes (Herakles being a favorite). Hell, there's just something innately human about wanting to watch famous or popular people (even if imaginary) doin' it. Maybe it's 'cause they "bump pretties" whereas most of the world is busy "bumpin' uglies". Three thousand years ago and three years ago isn't all that different when it comes to this kind of stuff.

Kim and Ray

Now then, a critique the situation triggering this post:
  1. The appendages in Pendleton's cartoons are far too noodly for my taste
  2. And really? Those body shapes? Yeesh...
  3. "rule 34" typically returns better results than "porn" especially when dealing with obscura
  4. It's probably too early in the life cycle of this cartoon to find anything decent. If you want the filth, be a maker, not a passive consumer! The seedy underbelly of the internet needs your filthy doodles of noodly appendages that can end up some place other than here.
Now then... that said, to the filthy human beings looking for this Bravest Warriors Porn. Sorry it's not here, but maybe you can tide yourself over with the perviest parts of Butter Lettuce set to the Harlem Shake.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Safari Quote of the Day

When asked how he draws like he does, Safari responded with "I just draw a bunch of squiggly lines until it looks like something."

Coppermane Prowler

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Elves of the Swordfish Islands - A Story

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blood Dancer - Indie Metal Monday

Blood Dancer

Work continues on getting Hot Springs Island fully written up, and Blood Dancer has been doing a great job of keeping my head banging in the air and not against my keyboard. I find Chris Barclay's vocals to be particularly enjoyable, but I've always been biased towards "high and angelic" over "gutteral and demonic".

The lyrics are fun, and the music maintains its intensity throughout the entire album. I'm beginning to realize that if I'm going to keep doing these posts I've got to brush up on music review vocab so that I can better define what it is I like so much about this music and move beyond the simplicity of "these guys are enjoyable and badass!" The far too brief instrumental track "Discourses of the Soul" (#6) is my favorite track, followed closely by track #3, "The Herald of War".

Give 'em a listen!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mog'ok - Lesser god of vengeance

Safari went and made something badass again. Here's Mog'ok, a lesser god of vengeance worshiped by the Night Axe Ogres. Remember everyone, even though they're "lesser" they're still gods and can clean the floor with your party!

Witch Ripper - Indie Metal Monday

I have developed a theory: bands that self tag with "stoner metal" have, on average, more badass album art than bands using other metal tags. I will continue to test this theory, and report my findings as scientifically as aesthetics can be.

Witch Ripper. Good name. Great Album Art. Badass music that is best described as both heavy and progressive deliciousness. The album came out on November 30th of last year, and while you can't rush good things... I want more! Favorite track: "Queen of the Green".

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hidden Hibiscus - Plants of Hot Springs Island

A large, woody, flowering shrub, the Hidden Hibiscus grows from 6' to 8' high, and as much as 10' wide. The blooms of the hibiscus are large (easily the size of a human hand), plentiful, and many colored. Bloom colors are typically red with yellow ribs, or pink with dark red ribs, but some sages claim there are thousands of different color combinations and variations. If a Hidden Hibiscus is threatened, or detects rapid movement nearby, any blooms on the bush immediately change their color to drab greens and browns, and the entire plant appears to wilt and wither. Skilled alchemists use the roots of the Hidden Hibiscus to amplify their creations that aid in natural camouflage, but the blooms of the hibiscus are its true prize as they can be used to dramatically increase both physical and mental speed for short periods of time. Only brightly colored blooms can be used in these speed increasing concoctions, and once a Hidden Hibiscus changes the color of one of its blooms, they never change back.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Cave Lily - Plants of Hot Springs Island

The Cave Lily, or Cave Star, with its dark, glossy foliage and fragrant white flowers, can be found growing on the ceilings of caves throughout the Swordfish Islands. It is unknown how a plant growing upside down and blooming only in darkness can spread with such profusion, but it is more uncommon to find a cave without these lilies than with them. The roots of the Cave Star grow above ground, forming brittle clumps of tube like structures resembling tangled skeins of grey yarn. Cave Lily blossoms absorb humidity from the air keeping the caves in which they are found surprisingly cool and pleasant. It is said that if a drop of nectar falls naturally from the bloom of a Cave Lily and is caught upon the tongue it will grant visions of the past or future.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Witchweave Palm Tree - Plants of Hot Springs Island

A single Witchweave Palm Tree is comprised of three to five trunks, 10" to 12" in diameter, that grow in tight clusters and can reach 25' to 50' in height. The fronds of a mature Witchweave are approximately 3' long before splitting into 7 to 10 pale green leaves with drooping, fibrous tips that grow for another 2' to 3'. It is the numerous white fibers, resembling hair, appearing in the splits of the leaf tips that give the Witchweave its name. These leaves are prized by the Lizardfolk natives of the Swordfish Islands who harvest, dry and process them into rope and rough cloth. The Witchweave blooms with small yellow flowers that give way to oblong, reddish fruit about the size of a human thumb. If the fruits are dried, wrapped in fresh green Witchweave leaves and burned, a thick, deep blue smoke with a sweet, musky odor is produced. This smoke acts as a potent anesthetic to exposed flesh, and the Lizardfolk are known to fill tents and lodges with it for both medical and spiritual reasons. It is rumored that some of the Lizardfolk's powerful shaman are able to refine the fruit of the Witchweave even further to create potent healing salves and unguents, but if true, these secrets are highly guarded.