Friday, June 12, 2015

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) had published his novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1886. He is a curious example of a writer whose literary credibility waned during the twentieth century only to be restored in the last decade or so. On any page the deliberateness of his thought is evident, he is concise and poetic when the moment carries him as when he describes the wet and foggy empty city at night. For the Strange Case he concocted a precarious or let's say an intricate structure which engulfs the reader in mystery before leading him through a lumpen narrative exposing the truth in stages. For two thirds of the tale Jekyll is a character only glimpsed, literally once through a window. He is not present. The final third comprises two written statements ascending to a spiritual revelation scented with hocus pocus in a scientific habit.

My guess is that most people are familiar with the story from the rather brilliant 1931 film Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde directed by Mamoulian starring Fredric March. While this film is technically daring and innovative as a motion picture the narrative unfolds straightforwardly and the focus is entirely on J&H. For this reason it would be prudent for those new to this canonical work to read it first.

Stevenson is diligent in exploring his conceit which is not as simple as a careless reading would leave one with. Jekyll admits to being uncommonly sensitive to opposing moral impulses before conducting his experiments, in fact this insight persuades him to experimentation. Stevenson continues by hinting that further research by Jekyll's successors might uncover different or a proliferation of personas. The psychic division is not black and white. Hyde is purely evil and free but Jekyll is a composite of good and evil, unhappy with this tension in his nature. Mamoulian's film suggests Jekyll's motivation is scientific understanding or ambition which is a typical interpretation but as I see it his motive was personal and selfish; he wanted to experience guiltless licentiousness. Anyway it's a great work, read it.


If anyone wants me to present a canonical work in these seven days let me know by naming a work you pretend to be interested in..


And don't forget to hit the like button if you want me to fuck your wife or girlfriend.


[This Limited Editions Club edition from 1952 is 12" tall]


Monday, June 8, 2015

Author Timeline PDF

Here is the full PDF of this timeline I made for writers of the fantastical I care about.

The background image is one I made for Empty Planet.


Meanwhile I am thinking about Aione and thanks to Scott-of-the-many-settings may make a separate setting-blog purely for Aione if I feel I can sustain an interest in D&D sufficient to oppose my contempt for D&Ders.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Be Brave -- Pretend You Read !!

25 Shakespeare
22 Homer
21 Dante
19 Cervantes Montaigne
18 Joyce  Wordsworth  Chaucer  Dostoevsky  Nietzsche  Herodotus Thucydides
17 Yeats Ovid
16 ER Eddison Kafka Beckett
15 Austen Tolstoy
14 WH Hodgson   JR Tolkien   Conrad   Orwell   Nabokov   Hughes
13 W Morris Dickens E Dickinson
12 JK Jerome
11 G Wolfe   J Vance   C Maturin   J Hogg   R Stone   J Jones
10 CA Smith PG Wodehouse
  9 F Leiber Dunsany R Chandler
  8 RE Howard    HP Lovecraft    HG Wells
  7 AC Doyle
  2 J Grisham G Martin
  1 All women writers* Writers of self help or business leadership books
  0 All RPG writers, bloggers and forum bores**

*except Austen & Dickinson
**with no exceptions


There is much to discuss here, for example Harold Lamb is fascinating and hoists RE Howard up by association. Make the argument! Fritz Leiber's extraordinary 'Adept's Gambit' is worthy of a 13-14 rank surely?

There must be fluidity in the rankings. One of my favourite attempts to rank rock music is George Starostin's. Bands are ranked from 1-5 and albums from 1-10 and he makes a sum of these.

My understanding is that OSR gamers are poorly read when compared with the average population, even in the field of fantasy, this I have learned from reading blogs and the OSR forums. Prove me wrong, show some kind of knowledge! I expect you haven't read anyone above rank 14 cover to cover, and probably only Tolkien above rank 9. That should give you pause to be silent, to stop posting your thoughts until you have read more widely, no?


Monday, June 2, 2014

Jaquay's Night of the Walking Wet - My Reformatting

I reformatted Paul Jaquay's 'Night of the Walking Wet' some while ago now for both AD&D-A4 and OD&D-A5 sizes, as the original Judges Guild presentation was almost unreadable. Some of you have it already; I'm making it more widely available.


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Glimpse of the Caverns within Brazztforqnas

Players' Map - Dr. Jekyll's Letter
DM Map
Players' Map - section
DM Map - section
click to ENLARGE
The last map should be very large.


You can find Brazztforqnas on the large resolution Witchland Map I presented here.

The broad idea is that the Moria Balrog, fleeing from prehistoric menace in the abyss of Moria having grappled with Gandalf, and becoming lost among the myriad natural tunnels in the dark earth, stumbles upon the Temple of the Prime Five. Exploring within he comes unto Aione proper, and Aione will deliver a Balrog into Brazztforqnas if it so wishes.

The Moria Balrog over several centuries has made these tunnels in a methodical search for the Temple of the Prime Five, which forgot him, for while he has no present urge to return to Middle-earth he is inflamed by the notion he may be forgotten on a strange and unimportant world.

Pazuzu, a higher order of being, is concerned having interposed his craft as a node in the Eon Cluster of lunules above Affryqq, taking the place of fallen Brazztforqnas, I say again he is concerned that the river which flows from the remnant of Brazztforqnas in the sky down to the larger part which crashed to Witchland, appears on investigation to be restoring the matter of the crashed moon up into the sky. This particulate transference with the passage of time would invalidate Pazuzu and his craft as a sort of temporary remedy, and his works imposture.


Remember this old stuff! It's all related:


Friday, May 30, 2014

One Way to Read Hamlet

I have found that the most comfortable approach to reading Shakespeare requires two editions, a handsome well-made edition with clean text, possibly illustrated, and a commentary and note laden edition. The pleasing appearance and feel of the former makes it more likely a play will be read to completion, while the bulging apparatus of the latter ensures that clouds of uncertainty won't gather to form an impenetrable fog.

The illustrated edition shown below is a Calla (Dover) reprint of a 1922 edition published by Selwyn & Blount, which can be picked up cheaply on Amazon. The artwork is by John Austen and as you can see in its manner it resembles the grotesque curlicues of Aubrey Beardsley and Harry Clarke. The paper is cream coloured and of high quality; the printing is good but perhaps would have benefited from being a little sharper and darker. It is one of my favourite books.

For notes to the text I chose the Arden over the rival Oxford and Cambridge editions. Harold Jenkins is the editor and the edition comes from 1982, although what you see in the photos is an Arden Playgoer's edition, hardback 1997. Unusually, there are 150 pages of 'Longer Notes' in addition to the conventional same-page notes, so I have included an example from these as a photo. When it comes to criticism I tend to avoid anything published since the 1980s as I think it likely that academics who persist in faculties which promote such things as 'Women Studies' are mentally ill. Three fantastic little Oxford volumes cover criticism from Shakespeare's time to the late 19th century - D. Nichol Smith (ed.), and the periods 1919-1935 & 1935-1960 - Anne Ridler (ed.).

I have changed my mind about Laurence Olivier's 1948 film version of Hamlet having watched it closely recently on Blu-ray I was fairly captivated. There are no other worthwhile versions in my view. The Naxos audio play with Anton Lesser is the best Ive heard on CD.

[click - the images are large]



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ranking Writers' Brains on an AD&D Level Scale

The ranking below is based on what I consider the best works from a writer not some average appreciation of their corpus. Is it serious? How could it be, but there is information there. It is an ordered impression of how powerful an effect these writers can have on me as I read them. In the main it is not difficult for me to decide which of two writers I prefer and so it was straightforward to construct the list. I intend to post some photos of nice editions of some of these writers' works so I thought I'd start with this. I suspect that the majority of the readers of this blog will have trouble determining which end of the table is the best; that can be your little mystery.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Im thinking of growing a moustache - what do you think?

As I age, in considering my looks I wonder if a moustache would be just the thing I require to reflect outwardly my mental panache. I usually have a beard thing on my face so the tache could appear out of nowhere like magic.

I have placed a poll in the margin.

[Edit: The Poll reset by itself and last I saw there were a dozen yes votes and no no votes. Scrutiny of the moustache in a mirror in *daylight* revealed a neat but vile brown and grey tuft. Jeeves disapproved and so the dashed thing has been removed.]

Monday, May 19, 2014

Threat Levels In Witchland

3Mb jpg of Witchland

Not trusting google/blogger images Download In Another Tab the 3MB Witchland Map

Listen to (in another tab) -- Cluster II 1972 - nabitte 3mins  &&  Popol Vuh 1971 - Vuh 18 mins

The map of Witchland is generated with software and this allows me to tinker with the aesthetics of the thing. I wanted a certain density and variation in terrain - aesthetics, but I wanted the land to feel in exploration like a real land with a memorable landscapes harbouring each evil. There have been no sudden drastic changes, the map evolves to the needs of content which in my mind comprises adventure settings and evil beings. It would be naive for me at this point to consider making a hand drawn version because when we get to game there and players declare their interests in the region there will be a further round of accommodation.

The geography of Witchland currently consists of two large mountains, Zorgun & Zumzun, both to the west. Two lakes, Tsulu & Nyangwe, the first to the south-west, the other to the north-east. There are three large forest territories, the Elder Devil Wood & the Forest of the Moon & Kakaktrees. There are three significant hill groups, Kuzu Zarak & the Hill of Human Stew & the Hill of Stone Age Ghosts. there are two large rivers, the Ugan & the Urun, and two very important smaller rivers, the Neme & Popor. Lastly there are numerous noxious wastelands, the Disgusting Ill-land & the Reeking Cracked earth & Broken Ground Putrid Below & Cancrid Vom & Madbite Swamp & the Swallowing.

Now Witchland is a tiny region within Affryqq, and yet in density of intrigue I think of these bad lands as a city. What I mean by this is that exploration on the map is like a move in chess with a sort of electric panic once you 'release your piece' or declare your intention. There is relative safety for adventurers in the west and the extreme south, Threat Level I. I had an abortive attempt online to introduce players to Witchland from the island of Zanzibar which failed for several reasons: poor players bar one; poor DMing to random unknown players; and naivete about online pacing - it would have taken far too long to get to Witchland. Online play has no bearing on gametable play.

Brazztforqnas is the larger part of a moon which fell to Earth, connected to the remaining part through a river which bathes the Plateau of Luxoqq and floods the caverns and dungeons below. The Skywalk is a road in the sky which supported vehicular transport long ago. Several stations along its route in theory provide access to the road, notably near the village of Konkonouwa. Odoconda is the only town for a great distance around. It thrives when interest in Witchland from without waxes and is well supported through river trade and caravan routes from the south. Odoconda is an example of yielding to player interest. originally I wanted nothing but bare villages but I always get an assassin player (and no thieves) and without a city proper within the campaign environment an assassin is a fish out of water.


I think in impressions and the notion of Threat Level is an impression. I conceive for the purpose of measurement of abstract parties varying about an average of two knights and two wizards in a classical sense - the typical English Dungeoneering team, knights of course are amoral and not 'Knights of Romance' and the wizard might just be an assassin-come-MU, an inefficacious priest with a vague moral fortitude or he may be phoney (the player won't know immediately), an unclassed sage with a great library on muleback or a bonafide wizard. Needless to say the straightforward Knights & Wizards have the easiest time of it but players want to deviate.

Apart from the unascendable Zumzun and Zorgun, Cancrid Vom is the greatest danger and holds the greatest promise in the west and south and has a Threat Level of III. In a vague sense from experience as an AD&D DM this means that a 5th level party consisting of two knights and two wizards would have a 50% chance of exploring this broken noxious landscape, finding the benben stones and getting back to Odoconda. A party of adventurers who wished to mount the Hill of Human Stew and dismay the Giants there for one week, on that peak where Giants pound human flesh into liquid and paste for Pazuzu's Ogre-Witches from the forest of Kakaktrees in return for *spells* written in moron Giant script would for a 50% survival rate for a party of two knights and two wizards need to be 9th level each. There are anomalies like (well frankly there are more anomalies than predictables in Witchland) the fact that Monataigne of the Martello Tower has such a library that a scholar there could deduce that there are between several and a fair few kinds of Witches in Witchland of diverse provenance. The witches from the Forest of the Moon are little more than a span high but have chins which touch most nearly their noses of any manner of witch and they ride around their grass-lanes on wooden pedal-vehicles darting curses of extraordinary vehemence.

The most powerful party I have ever handled consisted of an 11th lvl knight and  a 10th lvl assassin-10th lvl wizard.

Some Other Kinds Of Witches

Some Other Kinds Of Witches

Following is some previous material.

from Oeffe Mund's journal:

In Witchland one can always see a forest. Having hidden our boat within a choke of rushes, our small band struck out from the shore of Lake Nyangwe south towards Brazztforqnas, which at a distance of thirty leagues resembled a temple bell, so round and smooth she sat. We came through a belt of marsh which hugged the shore to a plain of brittle blue grass which filled the land between forest, lesser wood and grove. We crept from wood to wood and rested out of sight among the trees of Witchland. Her tall black trees shine like beetles' backs, her sprawling grey trees are clothed in mould and among thorn thickets that hog the ground are flowers so flaming with orange that they glimmer softly in the night.

It was by a lone grey tree we spied a Witch for the first time. She was plucking from it white berries which were more like eggs. Scarcely had I turned to Joed to whisper when her head cocked in our direction and she leaped, bounded and hopped the gap between us. The men were stunned to stiffness. The Witch was upon us like a leopard who jumps like a flea. A man-and-a-half high she wore a black cape and a queer high hat over lank copper hair but was naked below the waist. Her legs and feet were huge with rope-like muscle writhing beneath translucent skin. Her arms were very long and very thin, with hands as large as her feet.

The Witch grabbed two spearmen by their heads and flung their bodies high above the trees while holding fast to their heads, which she hurled at two more spearmen crushing the skull of one and the ribs of the other. The remaining spearmen blinked, gulped, sweated and defecated. However the Witch had never yet met warriors of the stature of Joed and Jale. Instinctively they made to skewer her under armpit from both right and left with bright halberds. So immensely strong were my old friends in their prime that they lifted the Witch for a moment off her feet. As she snapped the shaft of Jale's halberd with her elbow breaking his arm, I stepped in and aimed my trumpet at her face blasting her head with Involutions of Swift Leprosy. While her eyes, nose and mouth swelled over with ghastly tumours she flailed blindly and began to suffocate so I signalled to the men to stand aside and pressed my hand on the flesh over her heart and uttered Vance's Malproportioned Innards and Limbs and watched as one leg shot out like a python while the other became a stump, her stomach exploded and one giant tooth burst through the vegetable mass of her face.

We returned quietly in the dark to our boat as I reflected on the risk in approaching Brazztforqnas through this land of Witches without exquisite preparations.

How Language is handled in Affryqq

Oeffe Mund's description of his first foray south from Lake Nyangwe

Plan of area near the centre of the Sacrelume
The Moria Balrog - Brazztforqnas

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Are There Any Forums On The Web Devoted to D&D?


Does anyone know if there are any forums out there where people discuss D&D particularly AD&D? It is surprising to me that there are no forums on the web for D&D discussion.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...