How tax and tribute is collected will differ from land to land, but most systems will collect their tithes after the harvest season, monetary and other tribute being a substitute for earlier tribute in the form of grain, rice or other foodstuffs. In the monarchies this will take the form of wandering tax collectors under heavily armed guard – but still a favoured target of bandits, robbers, rebels and other ne’er do wells. Within the cities such efforts aren’t needed, and a tax collector can make their rounds with only a bodyguard or two…
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The landscape of the world is shaped by the primal chaos of the past, the whims of the gods and the desires of their supplicants and – more recently – the knockdown, drag out wars of the Philosopher Kings that blasted, wasted and twisted the lands with magic. Now the lands are shaped by their slow recovery, the expansion of the cities, and the slash and burn policies of The Comity.
When I imagine the landscape, I imagine that everywhere you look there is something striking, strange and different…
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I don’t want to make things as complex, and frankly silly, as happens in other games, with a multitude of different realities all impinging on one another. I also want to leave certain things in question in a way that they are not in other games. Are the gods real? Is there a heaven or a hell? Is there an afterlife of any real kind? Is there good or evil in any real, meaningful sense or is it all subjective and according to your own perceptions? At the same time I want there to be a ‘metaphysical’ basis to certain ideas and concepts, a reality – if a questionable one – to spirituality and an explanation of things like ‘level’ (why some characters are so much more powerful than others)…
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Given the background of the setting, magic has had a strong, powerful effect on the world but is relatively rare in people. I also want to make magic more universal, without dividing it into the typical categories of ‘arcane’ and ‘divine’. Magic is – then – something more like a natural force, something closer to the concept of ‘quintessence’ from the White Wolf game Mage: The Ascension, a measure of the ‘stuff’ and raw potential of reality which can be manipulated by certain people to cast spells, create artefacts and alter reality…
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I’m not really very fond of having powerful, self-insert characters in heroic worlds or games. They tend to ‘Mary-Sue’ it up and to ride roughshod over the actions and impact of the players. Carrying things over from your home campaigns can descend into ‘in jokes’ rather easily, or become obscure and opaque to anyone who doesn’t personally know you…
I want to evoke the ancient, the old and the bloodier, more raw, pre-Christian mythology that I want within the setting of the game. In other fantasy games I have written I have played around with languages, mixing and matching from different roots and etymologies to find interesting sounding and plausible names and terms. In Cloak of Steel, for example, I use the name ‘Tierplana’ to describe the flat, rectangular world upon which that game is set. For the terminology of other things in that world I translated the term across languages with different roots and mixed and matched to create interesting words…
As you may recall we do a charity drive each year to provide a scholarship for young and struggling fantasy artists. This year we did something a little different, hiring artists to provide a good stock of art to increase the viability of the project in the future. All profits go to the next year’s scholarship.
One of these artists is Keith McMurran, whose work will be being put up for sale over the next few days.
The first of these is a cleric, suitable for old school RPGs and more lighthearted work with a style reminiscent of Phil Foglio. Download it HERE.
McMurrans work can be found in a gallery on Deviantart, though I feel that the work he has done for us is more representative of his talent.
There’s any amount of sex-bots in science fiction, from Freya in Saturn’s Children to Gigolo Joe in AI. There’s everything from Cherry 2000 to the pierced grey sexbot in Heavy Metal 2000. There’s the sex-recordings from Day Million to the holodeck creepery of Barclay in Star Trek.
Technology and sex have always gone hand in hand. Sex has driven technology and technology has driven sex and this has been true in the real world as much as in fiction. The latex condom and, later, the pill allowed for the sexual revolution – along with safer, cheaper abortion. The VHS cassette and video camera democratised pornography, as did the Polaroid, a process that was later brought to an even greater, higher degree with web-cams and the internet.
Now we’re at the beginnings of new revolutions. Virtual reality porn is now in the hands of early adopters, as are ‘dumb’ robots in the forms of things like Real Dolls – not all of which are designed to be ‘realistic’. Newspapers are already bemoaning a future that isn’t here yet, of sexbots luring men away from real women (and more rarely bemoaning the opposite).
Machinations of the Space Princess isn’t – by default – a very ‘deep’ game and sexbots are likely just to make interesting characters or to provide colour and background to up the sleaze factor in a game. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t throw a bit of deeper meaning into things, explore the social science fiction implications and the boundaries of the possible.
Push a few limits. Ask a few questions. That’s what fiction is for.
Rough as Toast
‘Rough as Toast’ is my imprint for ‘cheap and nasty’ products. Things that are a bit more experimental, silly or “hit and miss” where a lot of money can’t be spent or risked on a bit of an ‘out there’ idea. If you see that marker, you know you’re getting something a little ‘wacky’ or uncertain, but you will probably get some fun out of it.
The Pulps were churned out at a massive rate of knots. Strange and silly ideas thrown at the wall to see what stuck. Occasionally some of those ideas turned out to have legs – legs that are still carrying them nearly a hundred years later. My intent with Schlocktoberfest (previously just a sale some years back) is to just throw a bunch of monsters, ideas and other bits and pieces at the ‘wall’ and see what sticks. Maybe something will.
The OSR has become something of a home for the grotesque, the strange, the disgusting and the horrible. Whether that be the deadly oddities and horrors of Lamentations of the Flame Princess or the pecularities of Carcosa – not the mention the many other fringe products – there seems to be a home for the vile, unsettling and surreal.
Some of the things that cause the most visceral disgust and reaction in people are bodily fluids – spit, blood, urine and more. Slimes and oozes have always been a big part of fantasy gaming and combining these with the wilder, darker sides of magic and the compulsion to shock and disgust players who come under attack by these things can combine to create some potentially powerful monsters and dark spells.
Enjoy these ‘Foul Humours’, created from human excresence.
Rough as Toast ‘Rough as Toast’ is my imprint for ‘cheap and nasty’ products. Things that are a bit more experimental, silly or ‘hit and miss’ where a lot of money can’t be spent or risked on a bit of an ‘out there’ idea. If you see that marker, you know you’re getting something a little ‘whacky’ or uncertain, but you will probably get some fun out of it.
The Pulps were churned out at a massive rate of knots. Strange and silly ideas thrown at the wall to see what stuck. Occasionally some of those ideas turned out to have legs – legs that are still carrying them nearly a hundred years later. My intent with Schlocktoberfest (prevously just a sale some years back) is to just throw a bunch of monsters, ideas and other bits and pieces at the ‘wall’ and see what sticks. Maybe something will.