Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Pagan London

Londonist did a twelve-part series exploring London's pagan history, artifacts, and connections, but unfortunately their Youtube channel never collected those videos as a playlist. To rectify that, well, here they are. There's plenty of inspiration to be had in these brief tidbits.

Episode 1: Old and New Pagans

Episode 2: The Stanwell Cursus

Episode 3: Shepperton Henge

Episode 4: The Dagenham Idol

Episode 5: A Bronze Age Burial Mound by London Bridge

Episode 6: Springhead

Episode 7: The Temple of Diana

Episode 8: The Mysterious Maypole of the Strand

Episode 9: How Did Druid Street Get Its Name?

Episode 10: Primerose Hill - Tamer of London

Episode 11: The Obelisk of Ra

Episode 12: A Strong Brown God

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Rosalie Cunningham, Lullaby of Woe, The Invocation

Rosalie Cunningham, An eve in the life...

Myrkur, "Lullaby of Woe" (form Witcher 3)

Dead Can Dance, "The Invocation"

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Feast Your Eyes

Art that has inspired me lately:

 Adam Duff

 Julia Gfrorer

 Becky Munich

Photo of Frank Frazetta with Frazetta's artwork, further complicating the "does life imitate art or does art imitate life?" argument

 Photo of Chelsea Wolfe by John Crawford

 Aaron Horkey

 Emma Rios

Gary Gianni 

Maria Martins 

 Matt Hilker

Erol Otus

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Best of 2019 (So Far)

Jack and Kate look at what they've been reading and watching so far in 2019 and make some recommendations in the world of books and beyond. The rules of engagement are simple: the hosts each choose one movie, album, TV show, book and "wild card" from any category that was the best experience of its kind encountered during the first half of 2019.
Follow your hosts as they talk about gritty frontier justice, bloodthirsty demons, various forms of heavy music from across the globe, and the joys of powder-coating among many, many more topics.
BBfBP theme song by True Creature 
Find us at, on Twitter @badbooksbadppl, Instagram @badbooksbadpeople and on Facebook. You can discover where to get all the books featured on Bad Books for Bad People on ourAbout Page.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Where They Sleep

Sometimes the really memorable moments in a game aren't the triumphant combats or the tense final death save. Sometimes they're the quiet moments. 

This is something I think about a lot: a while back, in a game in which we were playing a gang of criminals turned neighborhood protectors, the DM asked us to be prepared to talk about where our characters slept. When they weren't being adventurers and running a shady business, what did their lives look like?

I found myself taking a lot of notes on what the other players brought to the table. I already knew their characters from weeks of play, but it was amazing to get a glimpse into who they were when they weren't risking life and limb in pursuit of gold and power.

The characters: 

Goliath eldritch knight fighter
Bronte occupies the top floor of a ramshackle tower that has been built out of the remnants of a crashed airship. His bedroom has been pieced together from the ship's cockpit. His rooms in the tower are absolutely crammed full of junk and scavenged debris. Scrolls and books about magic litter the floor. He also has the bad habit of leaving half-eaten containers of take-away food strewn throughout his flat. Bronte smokes innumerable cigarettes on his balcony while he watches the to-and-fro of the city's residents.

Human circle of dreams druid
Hayseed is an unkempt country bumpkin who seems ill-adjusted to life in the big city. Hayseed has a shaggy beard, dirty threadbare clothes, and a smell that one would associate with a countryside barn. Hayseed rents a small house nestled among the gigantic trees of Kenweth Park. Inside, Hayseed's house is immaculate and the many potted flowers he keeps lend the place a highly perfumed and fresh scent. He has a piece of furniture that looks like a library card catalog, but inside it has neatly organized packets of seeds.

Half-elf college of whispers bard/hexblade warlock
Kallisto has carved out a bedroom in the basement in the basement of the gang's munitions factory. No one knows about this room; it's tucked away in storage space where no one ever goes. Although Kallisto takes pains to present herself as a well-dressed, stylish business woman, her room is extremely spartan. She owns very little in the way of personal effects, save for one solograph print of her with her bother, an anarchist who is currently on the run from the vengeful forces of the law.

Gnome chaos sorcerer
Gumdrop maintains an apartment above a candy store. The street is quiet and the families who live on it are solidly middle class. She never keeps food in her apartment, preferring to eat at the noodle stand down the street. Her apartment is absolutely filled with plush animals. Anyone who comes into her living space is likely to be terrified by the quality of plush animals lurking throughout the apartment--it isn't cute, it's vaguely but intensely off-putting.

Changeling assassin rogue/battlemaster fighter
The party knows Wax as a stone-cold, hardened killer; due to assuming and discarding identities continually as a changeling, he has little sense of self--no inner core. The other characters in the party are honestly a little afraid of him. What they don't know is that he has a secret life of warm, prosaic attachment. Wax rents a room in a working-class family's home. When he returns to his quarters, he assumes the likeness and persona of an utterly plain factory worker. When at home, he partakes of his landlords' family life--he takes his meals with them, sharing in their joys and sorrows. These moments are the only time when he actually enjoys life.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Berserk's Tendrils of Influence

I've currently read all the volumes of Kentaro Miura's Berserk manga that have officially been translated into English. Aside from the story and art, the series comes with a built-in mini-game: spot the influences. Berserk draws heavily on established visual vocabulary in its character designs:

Mad Max and Guts

The Phantom of the Paradise and Femto

Berserk has also inspired a lot of other media, particularly the games created by FromSoftware:

 Berserk's Mark of Sacrifice and Bloodborne's Hunter rune

 Berserk's corpse-wheel monsters and Dark Souls' corpse-wheel monsters

Berserk's horse demon and Bloodborne's Ludwig the Accursed

Berserk's religious nut armed with a wagon wheel weapon and Bloodborne's Logarius wheel (Logarius is, predictably, a religious nut)

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Defense of Lanchester

Previous session: The Betrayal of Taltos Draghul

The party: Anya, a clockwork assassin built in the guise of a young girl; Aries, a devilish paladin pledged to an oath of conquest; Brigid, a barbaric human storm-priestess from the hoary northlands; Vargen, a mutant ranger accompanied by Olaf, his wolf companion.

After spending the night within the safety of a watch tower, the remaining members of the Swords of Avernus marched to the walled village they had spotted in the distance. They arrived in Lanchester by mid-afternoon. They were surprised when the guards posted at the village's gate did not question them too closely before lifting the portcullis; the guards merely wanted to know if the party considered themselves Hunters and advised them to see the village elder as soon as possible.(1)

The party met with Silas, an aged engineer sent to administer the village at the behest of Capital. When questioned about Taltos Draghul, he admitted that the traitorous captain of the Swords had passed through after buying supplies. He also said that Draghul rode with several other cloaked figures who did not seem to need to eat, drink, or sleep through the night. Draghul's party had left several wagons outside the village gates; Silas did not know what the wagons contained, but the party surmised that they might be carrying the corpses of soldiers from the Swords of Avernus who fell in the ambush that devastated their ranks.

Silas had heard of the Swords of Avernus and was astonished that the four adventurers before him were the last of its number. Aries had a different view, stating "There are many more soldiers of the Swords of Avernus out there, even if they do not yet know it. When we find them, they will feel the call to glory and they will join us. Our ranks will swell once more. Our blades are chipped, but they remain unbroken." 

Conceding the point, Silas also explained that the village had troubles of its own: it had suffered raids from a pack of wolf-riding mutants who were stealing food and abducting villagers. A warning from the raiders had been thrown over the village's wall in the form of the decapitated head of one of the abducted villagers; a hastily scrawled note had been stuffed in the mouth. The note said that the raiders would be returning in two days and that if the village's remaining wealth was not handed over without resistance, a massacre would ensue. He pleaded with the members of the Swords of Avernus for aid against this threat.

Silas's pleas for assistance caused discord within the party; Anya and Vargen wanted to continue their pursuit of Taltos Draghul while his trail was still fresh, while Aries and Brigid couldn't abide leaving the villagers to be preyed upon.(2) Ultimately, it was decided that the Swords would stay and fight.

The time remaining before the raiders' return was spent organizing the townsfolk into a makeshift militia and building siege fortifications--a specialty of the Swords of Avernus, who had endured and laid many a siege in their careers as mercenaries. As night fell, the sounds of baying wolves could be heard in the distance--the raiders had arrived to collect their tribute.

The raiders discovered that the village was ready for them. Arrows rained down from the village's walls, but the mutants used flaming arrows of their own to set the walls on fire--adding fire-fighting to the list of tasks necessary for the village's defense. The gate was breached and the mutants rode in on their massive wolfen steads. They met stiff, unexpected resistance in the form of the Swords. The Swords and their militia held them at bay, then began the slow process of pushing the invaders back. The gates were resealed, trapping the majority of the raiders inside the village walls, where they were slaughtered without mercy. There was wolf vs. wolf action, care of Olaf.

In the light of the dawn, it was clear that the threat the raiders posed had been decisively dealt with. The Swords found their cohort had grown; a young man named Pedro Montague had heard Aries's rousing speech to Silas and found that joining the fray in defense of the village moved something inside him--he pledged his life to the Swords of Avernus and rode with them as they left the village of Lanchester, still in pursuit of vengeance against Taltos Draghul. (3)

* * *

(1) From the forthcoming Urazya 'zine: "Hunters are valorous—or reckless—adventurers who earn their livings by killing creatures of darkness and collecting the bounties placed on the heads of dangerous outlaws." 
(2) Aries and Brigid had very different motives for wanting to stay and fight the raiders. Brigid was moved by compassion because the village of her youth had been destroyed by mutant raiders in similar circumstances. Aries, on the other hand, doesn't like to avoid a battle that can bring glory and conquest--tenets he is sword to uphold as a diabolic paladin.
(3) Pedro is getting statted-up as a "sidekick" character as per the rules in the D&D Essentials box.