Jan 21, 2023

My daughter's monster: a blob

This (very early) morning me and my eight year old daughter had a little drawing session, and she made up this blob monster; image and description and all. Maybe you could use it in this dungeon? Enjoy!



Blob

Shoots thorns (green lines on top).

Thorns hitting adventurers depletes health, but if the thorn hits a fellow monster the effect varies with where it lands:

  • Eyes: can see into the future
  • Head: really smart, and can figure out really smart ways of defeating adventurers
  • Muscle: becomes strong, so that one could lift 50 000 houses
  • Stomach: becomes a ghost, gain ability to fly
  • Ear: really good hearing (apprx. the distance of half a planet)
  • Foot: becomes a giant

 The blob is built in layers (starting from the innermost):

  • A golden heart (yellow)
  • Lava (red)
  • Ice poison (blue)
  • Thin membrane of liquid poison (purple)
  • Glass shards (purple)
  • Grass filled with wasp tags; may paralyse (green)
  • Membrane of silver ice

The north area of the blob (just below the green lines) is a wound that didn't heal all too well. Mostly lava.

The sharp thorns around (triangles) comes in two variations:

  • Gold: indestructible. If you hit these, they will open up and shoot New Year's rockets that will swallow swords "and so on" (she never explained this)
  • Pink: giant hogweed. If you hit these, they will open up and shoot New Year's rockets filled with "giant hogweed poison"

The creator of such a blob is immune to its effects. If the creator is killed, the blob will resurrect them.

Jan 1, 2023

Burrow of the Ratman, or My Feeble Attempt At Doing A 1E Rat-Themed Adventure (part 4 of 4)

 (Part 1, part 2, part 3)

Happy new year!

So, could this be last the part in this never ending story? Or will we yet again end with a paragraph about how it was all a lie? Let's find out!


Summary of all the facts

So what cold hard facts have we gained from these eight questions and their follow up side-questions? Well, let's compile all questions and their answers in handy table first:

 

1. Why the bird statue?

The statue is a magical device for necromancy; it can be used to bring back the dead, turning them into equals (e.g. not blind followers).

 

1.1. Why does the bird statue bring back the dead?

It can only bring those back that truly felt they should have lived differently, and that they in some way even planned for it.

 

1.2. Why should they have lived differently?

Because they were meant to do remarkable things, but life (and then death) got in the way. Somehow they always knew this, but couldn't put their fingers on it; a small time burglar missing out on the really big hit; a wizard thinking about that great potion she'll never brew; a paladin not getting around to ending the world.

 

1.3. Why couldn't they put their fingers on it?

Because a being that can talk and walk but is neither man nor animal has the power to prevent such wishes.

 

2. Where is the bird statue located?

Nowhere and everywhere. Every full hour, it turns in a mist for ten minutes and travels slowly in a direction closer to its draped and hooded creator, but never reaching it.

 

2.1. Why does it travel closer to its creator?

It's longing for bygone days, when it was first created, but also revenge, since it has been abandoned by its creator.

 

2.2. Why was it abandoned by its creator?

The creator saw what the bird statue could do (e.g. bring back the dead with a caveat), but didn't want to believe it, because it wasn't the effect it sought. The statue can't be destroyed, so it had to be buried, so that its creator could find peace again.

 

2.3. Why can't the statue be destroyed?

It is a reversed soul relic, containing half its creator's heart. Being a reversed soul relic, it can't be destroyed unless its creator is destroyed first.

 

3. Where are the rats?

A church has attracted them.

 

3.1. Why has the church attracted them?

The rats are looking for more of its own kind, but found only humans at the church.

 

3.2. Why are the rats looking for more of its own kind?

They are looking for help with overturning and defeating a caped and hooded being that is neither man nor animal. If they can't find more of its own kind, they will accept help from other beings, such as humans

 

3.3. Why do the rats want to defeat this being?

Their God - a bird statue that sometimes travels as a mist - has commanded them to kill this being, in exchange for a promise that this will set off events that will bless them for all eternity, finally bringing forth the reign of the rats.

 

4. Is a vampire commanding the rats?

The bird statue is, as stated in a previous question. It did it slowly, over a long period of time, convincing one rat at a time, till they finally unearthed the statue. But since the statue can't be killed easily, and only travels in mist form, and was created through shared blood (it contains half its creator's heart), I guess we can assume the statue is some sort of vampire, much like its creator.

 

4.1. Why is the creator of the bird statue a vampire?

The creator comes from a long line of vampires, a family history hard to trace, that reaches from the dirtiest city to the coldest coastline.

 

4.2. Why is the family history hard to trace?

Because all vampires in that blood line are made by three different vampiric spirits; one of the past, one of the present, and one of the future. Three bites during the same night. But the bird statue's creator is the last one to be made this way.

 

4.3. Why is the bird statue's creator the last one to be made that way?

Because with each new vampire to be made, the window of past, present and future vampires shifts further along the time line, and after the bird statue's creator was made, the time window shifted beyond the end of the world; the point in time from which to draw the future vampiric spirit had ceased to exist, so three bites were no longer possible.

 

5. Where is this place located?

Since this "series" is called "Burrow of the Ratman", I assume the place we're looking for is the burrow itself, and it is located underneath a busy stock exchange in a big city. But it's not the place of the creator, but rather the place where he/she/it/they buried the bird statue (as stated in question 2.2.), so I guess this means that the "Ratman" in the title refers to the bird statue?

 

5.1. Why was the bird statue buried below a stock exchange?

The stock exchange building was once the home of the vampires of this bloodline, so the bird statue's creator had access to the vaults below (e.g. not belonging to the everyday business of the stock exchange). It could mean that the creator buried the statue a long time ago - before the stock exchange was founded - or that they could somehow walk freely and undisturbed in the building.

 

5.2. Why are the vaults not part of the everyday business of the stock exchange?

It is an archive, where all records of the stock exchange is kept. The few people working there are called Miners. The archive is in fact partially part of the vampire's old archive, so there are multiple tomes kept there that hasn't anything to do with stock exchange, locked away and/or hidden from plain sight - or just not interesting enough to be messed with.

 

5.3. Why are some of the tomes not interesting enough for the Miners?

What little information they might have seen through the years is just regarded as horribly outdated. It even happens that some of the not-so-locked-away tomes have been used as fireplace fuel during really cold days.

 

6. Is this place old?

Nobody wants to talk about it, it seems, because whenever the issue comes up, everyone involved will change the subject to something more pleasant.

 

6.1. Why doesn't anyone want to talk about how old the stock exchange building is?

Because there's an old rumour going around, that anyone making such inquiries will be sent far away, to an unnamed place not meant for men. "Bob Cratchit" has become a code word for when you want to warn someone of speaking further of something, lest they suffer some ill fate.

 

6.2. Why has "Bob Cratchit" become a code word?

Bob Cratchit was a woodworker that lived just outside town some hundred years ago. He lured away people to his cabin in the woods and made short work of them with his axe. After his death, people started using phrases such as "Be nice, or I'll send you to Bob Cratchit!".

 

6.3. Why did Bob Cratchit lure away people?

Bob was making human sacrifices to a wooden idol he had carved himself. It had told him that when enough sacrifices were made, a miracle would happen.

 

7. Why hasn't this place been plundered years before?

It was believed to be haunted by strange apparatus, phantom in nature.

 

7.1. Why was it believed to be haunted by strange apparatus?

Robed and hooded folk - like the bird statue creator - had been seen entering and leaving the place for as long as anyone could remember, which led most to believe that a wizard did something to the place, like installing magical traps or steam-powered mechanical beasts.

 

7.2. Why would a wizard install traps or steam-powered mechanical beasts?

Because it is what occupies all wizards' minds: concocting potions, snaring demons, building man-machines - but not being able to dress themselves properly.

 

7.3. Why can't wizards dress themselves?

They are always thinking about the next step, always on the run, always out on an errand - which means they have to take some shortcuts when dealing with mundane things; like clothes.

 

8. Where have the previous owner(s) gone?

Nobody knows - but more importantly, nobody cares!

 

8.1. Why doesn't anyone care about their whereabouts?

People are busy as it is, and they don't care about their whereabouts since they don't fathom that anything could've happened to them - because, why would anything happen to them.

 

8.2. Why are people busy as it is?

The townsfolk have much on their minds: haunted stock exchange building, stories of Bob Cratchit (or his ghost!), rat swarms at the church, a strange mist that seems to travel every full hour... Also: the town mayor is rumoured to be a ghost, probably because he is so pale.

 

8.3. Why is the town mayor so pale?

Because the town mayor is indeed dead, and halfway in transit to becoming a ghost. Nobody knows this, not even himself. His death has nothing to do with the bird statue, the rats, the creator, the stock exchange, or Bob Cratchit though.

 

Summary of all the facts in a more prosaic way

There's a large town, nameless but it probably rhymes with "London".

The mayor of this nameless town is paler than death itself, due to being in fact dead but somehow still alive, but he doesn't know this.

Outside that nameless town lies an old, abandoned cabin, rumoured to belong to a woodworker named Bob Cratchit, who lured people away and chopped them up, as human sacrifices for his wooden idol. There's a crude and small wood sculpture to be found in the cabin; whether or not this is the idol is disputed.

"Bob Cratchit" is a local code word for bad omens, or to threaten people with ("Watch your tongue, or I'll send you to Bob Cratchit!").

In the centre of the nameless town, there's a large stock exchange building. It is very old, but no living soul wishes to discuss it. It houses a large vault, housing countless records of trading and other activities. It also contains tomes and records from older times, from the family that owned the building before it was taken over; some of these books have been used as fuel, some have been read but found dull and not relevant, and some are still hidden and/or locked away.

The few people working in the vaults of the stock exchange building are called Miners.

The stock exchange building used to belong to an old family of vampires. To become such a vampire, a person must be visited by three vampires of this bloodline - one from the past, one from the present, and one from the far future - all during the same night. Due to the world being destroyed at a fixed point in time in the future, it is not possible any more to have a visit from a future vampire, since that point in time has ceased to exist.

There's a being, not man nor animal, that is the last of that vampiric bloodline. The being created a magical device of necromantic powers, and put half its heart inside to active it. This being sometimes goes by the name of the Creator.

The bird statue can be used to bring back the dead, but only those that truly believed that they were meant to live a different life. This statue can travel in mist form, but only every full hour, and then only for ten minutes. It will always travel in the bearing of the Creator. It is a reversed soul relic so it can't be destroyed unless the Creator is first. It also goes by the name of the Ratman.

The bird statue was buried in vaults below the stock exchange building by the Creator, reason being the Creator expected some other kind of effect.

The rats in the vaults were persuaded by the bird statue - one by one - to unearth it (it couldn't travel as a mist when buried), and also to help it destroy the Creator as a revenge. The rats, having started to treating the bird statue as a god, were promised various glorious things.

The rats, after being told a bit of this Creator, realised they needed more help if they were to take down this not-man-not-animal being, so they started to round up all rats they could find. Even those of the human kind (the enemy of my enemy, and so on).

The local churches seem to attract a lot of rats, but the rats aren't hostile, even if being trapped and killed. It's almost as if they want to convey a message.


Retrospective, or How far off did we drift really?

"Ouf...!"


I'm not going to recap the original contest rules (of JB's contest), because when looking at the above it is pretty easy to realise one thing: there's a lot of flavour there, and it gets me interested - but it is in no way something you can bring to a table.

And I believe scope is one issue here: it's too scattered, even if it's all interconnected somehow (the statue, the creator, the stock exchange, the rats, and so on); I guess it feels more like a fine dining restaurant, with candlesticks and long curtains and comfy chairs and fancy forks and paintings and rugs and world renowned kitchen - when what your players is really interested in is just that single olive on the floor.

(TODO: write better analogies)

It needs to be more focused, one single thing at a time.

However - however! - I feel you could extract multiple, isolated "things" (i.e. shorter adventures) from the above, that are still connected underneath it all - without the players knowing about the above (because they don't NEED to know that, it's just extra flavour, just like you don't need to know that the olive on the floor actually is there because the great great grandfather of the fine dining restaurant thought it kept bad spirits from possessing the guests - you could still enjoy that olive, but hearing the story while eating an olive could've made it a more rememberable evening).

(TODO: write better analogies that don't revolve around eating stuff off the floor)

Examples of isolated adventures one could extract from the above:

  • The old cabin
    • Classic horror adventure
      • Could be fit on a single page (one page "dungeon"); three rooms with attic
    • What happens if a player takes the idol? Destroys it?
    • Maybe Bob Cratchit had children (well we know the other Bob had, but this is "our" Bob), are they still coming to the cabin?
  • The vaults beneath the stock exchange
    • Dungeon crawl?
    • If a player takes up job as a Miner, they have unlimited access to this place
    • Treasures in terms of tomes, as left behind by the old vampires (potentially)
      • Is the information still relevant for extortion?
      • Do they point out other vaults in the town?
  • The rats in the churches
    • Again, each church is a single page (one page "dungeon")
    • "Rat problem" is a classic D&D trope, problem here is (as we know) that the rats doesn't fight back, so it depends on how observant the players are
      • I mean, they could just take a job to clear one church, do the job, get paid and move on - but next week, the rats will be back

And random encounters would/could include:

  • The (dead) mayor
    • Who started that rumour? And why did it turn out to be true?
  • The Creator
    • Is he/she/it/they still in town? What is it doing there?
    • Does it know about the unearthed bird statue?
  • Bob Cratchit
    • Maybe! Or maybe an imposter?

 

I think you need to end this now

Yes I know, sorry, but it was a very fun "series" to work on, I didn't expect it to really go on for this long.

Did we succeed in writing a rat-themed adventure? No.

Did we succeed in writing an adventure at all? No.

Did we at least write something that mentions rats? Yes!

In that case, I'm happy!

Thanks for reading!

(TODO: end post with slightly less creepy picture)


Dec 30, 2022

Burrow of the Ratman, or My Feeble Attempt At Doing A 1E Rat-Themed Adventure (part 3 of 4)

(Part 1, part 2)

So, hopefully this will be last post in this "series", and we'll finally wrap things up. It's five in the morning here and I woke up two hours ago, but anyway!

(UPDATE: the previous paragraph is - yet again - a bloody lie, which you will find out at the end.)

This time we'll continue with our WHYs for questions 4-8, and we'll still use "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens as our main source of random lines, and I don't know why I'm writing "we'll" like this is some sort of educational text, but anyway!

  1. Why the bird statue?
  2. Where is the bird statue located?
  3. Where are the rats?
  4. Is a vampire commanding the rats?
  5. Where is this place located?
  6. Is this place old?
  7. Why hasn't this been plundered years before?
  8. Where have the previous owner(s) gone?


4. Is a vampire commanding the rats?

(637) "You must have been very slow about it, Jacob," Scrooge observed in a business-like manner, though with humility and deference.

The bird statue is, as stated in a previous question. It did it slowly, over a long period of time, convincing one rat at a time, till they finally unearthed the statue. But since the statue can't be killed easily, and only travels in mist form, and was created through shared blood (it contains half its creator's heart), I guess we can assume the statue is some sort of vampire, much like its creator.

4.1. Why is the creator of the bird statue a vampire?

(1617) The house-fronts looked black enough, and the windows blacker, contrasting with the smooth white sheet of snow upon the roofs, and with the dirtier snow upon the ground; which last deposit had been ploughed up in deep furrows by the heavy wheels of carts and waggons; furrows that crossed and recrossed each other hundreds of times where the great streets branched off; and made intricate channels, hard to trace, in the thick yellow mud and icy water.

The creator comes from a long line of vampires, a family history hard to trace, that reaches from the dirtiest city to the coldest coastline.

4.2. Why is the family history hard to trace?

(3011) "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. [...]"

Because all vampires in that blood line are made by three different vampiric spirits; one of the past, one of the present, and one of the future. Three bites during the same night. But the bird statue's creator is the last one to be made this way.

4.3. Why is the bird statue's creator the last one to be made that way?

(1487) He gave the cap a parting squeeze, in which his hand relaxed; and had barely time to reel to bed before he sank into a heavy sleep.

Because with each new vampire to be made, the window of past, present and future vampires shifts further along the time line, and after the bird statue's creator was made, the time window shifted beyond the end of the world; the point in time from which to draw the future vampiric spirit had ceased to exist, so three bites were no longer possible.


5. Where is this place located?

(2429) But there they were in the heart of it; on 'Change, amongst the merchants; who hurried up and down, and chinked the money in their pockets, and conversed in groups, and looked at their watches, and trifled thoughtfully with their great gold seals; and so forth, as Scrooge had seen them often.

Since this "series" is called "Burrow of the Ratman", I assume the place we're looking for is the burrow itself, and it is located underneath a busy stock exchange in a big city. But it's not the place of the creator, but rather the place where he/she/it/they buried the bird statue (as stated in question 2.2.), so I guess this means that the "Ratman" in the title refers to the bird statue?

5.1. Why was the bird statue buried below a stock exchange?

(2315) "Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask," said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit's robe, "but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. [...]"

The stock exchange building was once the home of the vampires of this bloodline, so the bird statue's creator had access to the vaults below (e.g. not belonging to the everyday business of the stock exchange). It could mean that the creator buried the statue a long time ago - before the stock exchange was founded - or that they could somehow walk freely and undisturbed in the building.

5.2. Why are the vaults not part of the everyday business of the stock exchange?

(2030) "A place where Miners live, who labour in the bowels of the earth," returned the Spirit.

It is an archive, where all records of the stock exchange is kept. The few people working there are called Miners. The archive is in fact partially part of the vampire's old archive, so there are multiple tomes kept there that hasn't anything to do with stock exchange, locked away and/or hidden from plain sight - or just not interesting enough to be messed with.

5.3. Why are some of the tomes not interesting enough for the Miners?

(9) I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade.
What little information they might have seen through the years is just regarded as horribly outdated. It even happens that some of the not-so-locked-away tomes have been used as fireplace fuel during really cold days.


6. Is this place old?

(2885) "On which," said Bob, "for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentleman you ever heard, I told him. [...]"

Nobody wants to talk about it, it seems, because whenever the issue comes up, everyone involved will change the subject to something more pleasant.

6.1. Why doesn't anyone want to talk about how old the stock exchange building is?

(3133) "I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's," whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh.

Because there's an old rumour going around, that anyone making such inquiries will be sent far away, to an unnamed place not meant for men. "Bob Cratchit" has become a code word for when you want to warn someone of speaking further of something, lest they suffer some ill fate.

6.2. Why has "Bob Cratchit" become a code word?

(1026) Suddenly a man in foreign garments: wonderfully real and distinct to look at: stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood.

Bob Cratchit was a woodworker that lived just outside town some hundred years ago. He lured away people to his cabin in the woods and made short work of them with his axe. After his death, people started using phrases such as "Be nice, or I'll send you to Bob Cratchit!".

6.3. Why did Bob Cratchit lure away people?

(2772) "If he relents," she said, amazed, "there is! Nothing is past hope, if such a miracle has happened."

Bob was making human sacrifices to a wooden idol he had carved himself. It had told him that when enough sacrifices were made, a miracle would happen.


7. Why hasn't this place been plundered years before?

(420) There was plenty of width for that, and room to spare; which is perhaps the reason why Scrooge thought he saw a locomotive hearse going on before him in the gloom.

It was believed to be haunted by strange apparatus, phantom in nature.

7.1. Why was it believed to be haunted by strange apparatus?

(1602) "Touch my robe!"

Robed and hooded folk - like the bird statue creator - had been seen entering and leaving the place for as long as anyone could remember, which led most to believe that a wizard did something to the place, like installing magical traps or steam-powered mechanical beasts.

7.2. Why would a wizard install traps or steam-powered mechanical beasts?

(1536) This idea taking full possession of his mind, he got up softly, and shuffled in his slippers to the door.

Because it is what occupies all wizards' minds: concocting potions, snaring demons, building man-machines - but not being able to dress themselves properly.

7.3. Why can't wizards dress themselves?

(2946) Indeed, the Spirit did not stay for anything, but went straight on, as to the end just now desired, until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a moment.

They are always thinking about the next step, always on the run, always out on an errand - which means they have to take some shortcuts when dealing with mundane things; like clothes.


8. Where have the previous owner(s) gone?

(2447) "God knows," said the first with a yawn.

Nobody knows - but more importantly, nobody cares!

8.1. Why doesn't anyone care about their whereabouts?

(798) "[...] It isn't possible that anything has happened to the sun, and this is twelve at noon!"

People are busy as it is, and they don't care about their whereabouts since they don't fathom that anything could've happened to them - because, why would anything happen to them.

8.2.Why are people busy as it is?

(567) "I do," replied the Ghost.

The townsfolk have much on their minds: haunted stock exchange building, stories of Bob Cratchit (or his ghost!), rat swarms at the church, a strange mist that seems to travel every full hour... Also: the town mayor is rumoured to be a ghost, probably because he is so pale.

8.3. Why is the town mayor so pale?

(14) You will, therefore, permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Because the town mayor is indeed dead, and halfway in transit to becoming a ghost. Nobody knows this, not even himself. His death has nothing to do with the bird statue, the rats, the creator, the stock exchange, or Bob Cratchit though.



"Oh, are you still...writing this...post...ok..."


It was all - yet again - a bloody lie

This post was intended as the last in the "series", as stated in the preamble, but yet again we don't really end up with anything useful or finished. We need at least a summary for all the facts, and a summary to summarise the first summary in a more prosaic way, and also a map if we find it possible using the two first summaries, and a retrospective to spell out all our FAULTS using this technique.

I'm sorry, I'll finish it real soon, I promise.

Until then!



Dec 28, 2022

Burrow of the Ratman, or My Feeble Attempt At Doing A 1E Rat-Themed Adventure (part 2 of 3)

(Part 1 here.)

Happy holidays, and good continuation as we say in Sweden.

Looking back at old posts on this blog, one thing becomes clear: it's very easy to start things, but harder to finish them! So I thought I should do just that, starting with that rat themed adventure I started thinking about over a year ago, thanks to JB's contest that I suppose is finished by now.

So this post will just wrap things up, because I reckon that a finished thing is more valuable than something half-eaten (unless you're a king and you've been given a poisoned apple and your cup-bearer is off vacaying because he had saved up on his days and you yeah you get the picture).

(UPDATE: the previous paragraph is a bloody lie, which you'll find out at the end. I'm just warning you.)


A short recap

In the first post I pinned down some things that wasn't very clear to me - the AD&D mindset, rats, coins as weight, treasure, archaic language, etc. - which basically boiled down to everything. But I had two things I wanted to try:

  1. Treasure in clear sight
  2. The weight/value trade-off (e.g. lesser value, easier to carry, and vice versa)

 

A short recap of that ugly sketch

This was a quick and dirty and ugly sketch I did of a treasure scenario:


The idea was that the treasure is in clear sight (that bird statue thing next to the number 1), it is very valuable but extremely heavy. Some sort of deep water flow separates the treasure and the players (I assume the should enter across the water). Maybe there's a broken suspension bridge there.

In my head that's a reasonable way of thinking, maybe? It's like: hey the treasure is right there, it's not a trap (though it would be if it was DOOM 3), but you'll have a hard time transporting that across the water, and potentially out of here.


I never mentioned number two

See that two up there? Next to the vial? At the bottom-left in the picture? That was a variant on the weight/value trade off that I also was thinking of: instead of heavy and valuable, you could replace heavy with fragile, e.g. a glass vial that easily breaks, that contains something valuable.


So how to proceed

I'm thinking that I need to employ some sort of WHY-thinking here, because the scenario above doesn't make sense: why would someone put a bird statue, near impossible to carry, of that value, across a bridge, deep down somewhere - and what does it have to do with rats?

I do recall me doing some WHY-thinking in an older post...hmm...oh here it is.

(TL;DR if you don't wish to read that post: state a fact about the world, then ask "WHY is ...", take a book and look up a random sentence, interpret it as an answer, repeat.)

And since it is the season, I think I'll pick "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, using random.org to give me a random line number, and so on (I've truncated the text so it doesn't contain all the Project Gutenberg preamble). Happy days. Remember, we're not trying to win a contest here, just finish what we started.


Questions nobody asked

I have some questions floating around (some from the first post) that I'd like answers to:

  1. Why the bird statue?
  2. Where is the bird statue located?
  3. Where are the rats?
  4. Is a vampire commanding the rats?
  5. Where is this place located?
  6. Is this place old?
  7. Why hasn't this been plundered years before?
  8. Where have the previous owner(s) gone?

With three or more "WHY" questions/bullet item above we're looking at at least 24 questions, which is more than enough if I want to get to bed before the new year. I'll write the line number in parenthesis after each question, followed by the quote (e.g. the complete sentence that can be found there), and a new line containing my interpretation, and so on.

Let's get started!


1. Why the bird statue?

(927) "Rise! and walk with me!"

The statue is a magical device for necromancy; it can be used to bring back the dead, turning them into equals (e.g. not blind followers).

1.1. Why does the bird statue bring back the dead?

(2519) It gave him little surprise, however; for he had been revolving in his mind a change of life, and thought and hoped he saw his new-born resolutions carried out in this.

It can only bring those back that truly felt they should have lived differently, and that they in some way even planned for it.

1.2. Why should they have lived differently?

(31) If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's Father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot--say St. Paul's Church-yard, for instance--literally to astonish his son's weak mind.

Because they were meant to do remarkable things, but life (and then death) got in the way. Somehow they always knew this, but couldn't put their fingers on it; a small time burglar missing out on the really big hit; a wizard thinking about that great potion she'll never brew; a paladin not getting around to ending the world.

1.3. Why couldn't they put their fingers on it?

(2250) The brisk fire of questioning to which he was exposed elicited from him that he was thinking of an animal, a live animal, rather a disagreeable animal, a savage animal, an animal that growled and grunted sometimes, and talked sometimes, and lived in London, and walked about the streets, and wasn't made a show of, and wasn't led by anybody, and didn't live in a menagerie, and was never killed in a market, and was not a horse, or an ass, or a cow, or a bull, or a tiger, or a dog, or a pig, or a cat, or a bear.

Because a being that can talk and walk but is neither man nor animal has the power to prevent such wishes.


2. Where is the bird statue located?

(2359) As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and, lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming like a mist along the ground towards him.

Nowhere and everywhere. Every full hour, it turns in a mist for ten minutes and travels slowly in a direction closer to its draped and hooded creator, but never reaching it.

2.1. Why does it travel closer to its creator?

(2073) They stood beside the helmsman at the wheel, the look-out in the bow, the officers who had the watch; dark, ghostly figures in their several stations; but every man among them hummed a Christmas tune, or had a Christmas thought, or spoke below his breath to his companion of some bygone Christmas-day, with homeward hopes belonging to it.

It's longing for bygone days, when it was first created, but also revenge, since it has been abandoned by its creator.

2.2. Why was it abandoned by its creator?

(500) Though he looked the phantom through and through, and saw it standing before him; though he felt the chilling influence of its death-cold eyes; and marked the very texture of the folded kerchief bound about its head and chin, which wrapper he had not observed before; he was still incredulous, and fought against his senses.

The creator saw what the bird statue could do (e.g. bring back the dead with a caveat), but didn't want to believe it, because it wasn't the effect it sought. The statue can't be destroyed, so it had to be buried, so that its creator could find peace again.

2.3. Why can't the statue be destroyed?

(3256) That was the thing he had set his heart upon.

It is a reversed soul relic, containing half its creator's heart. Being a reversed soul relic, it can't be destroyed unless its creator is destroyed first.


3. Where are the rats?

(1681) But soon the steeples called good people all to church and chapel, and away they came, flocking through the streets in their best clothes, and with their gayest faces.

A church has attracted them.

3.1. Why has the church attracted them?

(2515) He looked about in that very place for his own image, but another man stood in his accustomed corner, and, though the clock pointed to his usual time of day for being there, he saw no likeness of himself among the multitudes that poured in through the Porch.

The rats are looking for more of its own kind, but found only humans at the church.

3.2. Why are the rats looking for more of its own kind?

(3285) He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it, holding him, and calling to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat.

They are looking for help with overturning and defeating a caped and hooded being that is neither man nor animal. If they can't find more of its own kind, they will accept help from other beings, such as humans.

3.3. Why do the rats want to defeat this being?

(1901) "A merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!"

Their God - a bird statue that sometimes travels as a mist - has commanded them to kill this being, in exchange for a promise that this will set off events that will bless them for all eternity, finally bringing forth the reign of the rats.


INTERMISSION

I think we've done good work here! But are lots of information up there, and my arm hurts because I got my fourth covid-19 shot today, so I think we need to compile what we know so far.

  • Why the bird statue?
    • The statue is a magical device for necromancy; it can be used to bring back the dead, turning them into equals (e.g. not blind followers).

  • Why does the bird statue bring back the dead?
    • It can only bring those back that truly felt they should have lived differently, and that they in some way even planned for it.

  • Why should they have lived differently?
    • Because they were meant to do remarkable things, but life (and then death) got in the way. Somehow they always knew this, but couldn't put their fingers on it; a small time burglar missing out on the really big hit; a wizard thinking about that great potion she'll never brew; a paladin not getting around to ending the world.

  • Why couldn't they put their fingers on it?
    • Because a being that can talk and walk but is neither man nor animal has the power to prevent such wishes.

  • Where is the bird statue located?
    • Nowhere and everywhere. Every full hour, it turns in a mist for ten minutes and travels slowly in a direction closer to its draped and hooded creator, but never reaching it.

  • Why does it travel closer to its creator?
    • It's longing for bygone days, when it was first created, but also revenge, since it has been abandoned by its creator.

  • Why was it abandoned by its creator?
    • The creator saw what the bird statue could do (e.g. bring back the dead with a caveat), but didn't want to believe it, because it wasn't the effect it sought. The statue can't be destroyed, so it had to be buried, so that its creator could find peace again.

  • Why can't the statue be destroyed?
    • It is a reversed soul relic, containing half its creator's heart. Being a reversed soul relic, it can't be destroyed unless its creator is destroyed first.

  • Where are the rats?
    • A church has attracted them.

  • Why has the church attracted them?
    • The rats are looking for more of its own kind, but found only humans at the church.

  • Why are the rats looking for more of its own kind?
    • They are looking for help with overturning and defeating a caped and hooded being that is neither man nor animal. If they can't find more of its own kind, they will accept help from other beings, such as humans

  • Why do the rats want to defeat this being?
    • Their God - a bird statue that sometimes travels as a mist - has commanded them to kill this being, in exchange for a promise that this will set off events that will bless them for all eternity, finally bringing forth the reign of the rats.

 

So in short, we have some sort of not-man-not-animal person that creates a bird statue, that is actually a magical device. He or she or it puts half its heart in it, therefore activating its magic, hoping it will do Thing A but it actually does Thing B instead.

The not-man-not-animal person gets mad, but realises he or she or it cannot destroy this magical device without destroying themself, so they bury it instead. Not the best plan, but who am I to judge?

The bird statue, unearthed somehow (by the rats?), sets out for revenge in a sort of love-hate relationship. Although it always seems to know the bearing of its creator, it can only move for ten minutes every full hour, and then only in mist-form.

Meanwhile, a pack of rats (or more?) has been harassing local churches, hoping to find more rats (because of the "Their burrows honeycomb many graveyards, ...", and churches and churchyards, two peas in a pod and all that, and the rats put two and two together), but will settle for humans if no more of its own kind can be found BECAUSE: they want to kill this not-man-not-animal being, and they've been told this caped and hooded person/thing is NOT to be underestimated. And who told them? The bird statue.

Hmm, I'm actually liking where this is going, and its all thanks to a text written 179 years ago (and maybe my brain in some part).

 

It was all a bloody lie

Yeah, as stated in the preamble, despite being presented as a text to actually FINISH STUFF, this doesn't conclude or wrap things up at all.

I actually started to like where this is going, but it's nearly midnight here (that's also a lie, unless you round up by an hour), and I want to go to sleep, so we'll have to wrap this up next time instead.

Until then!



Dec 13, 2022

Esoteric programming languages as spells and vice versa

An esoteric programming language is a programming language that makes everything harder by design, either as a proof of concept, or just as art.

Take Whitespace for instance, which only consists of white spaces (tab, space, and line feeds), or Piet that uses bitmaps for its input. Extremely impractical, but still; people invent it, and people will use it.

What if spells were that way? I mean, everyone and their dog knows that a wizard must study tomes and prepare spells and rest well and wave their hands and utter incantations with a stern look to cast them - one would assume that that's the most practical way of learning and using spells, because everyone's doing that.

But what if there were free spirited wizards, talented but bored beyond any reasonable means, that invented harder ways of learning the same old spells? Oh you learned magic missile from a tome? I learned it by treating the white space on the page as a labyrinth and forced myself to solve it in less than fifteen seconds.

Or take the esoteric programming language Shakespeare, were everything must be formatted as plays. What if it took the wizard an entire evening in a theatre, with full cast and audience, to learn a simple spell? Or even cast it? Having the number of attendees impact the power of the spell? Or even have the spell being delayed until the first review is in, and if the reviews are positive, the spell succeeds, otherwise it backfires. Slow cooking.

One might say, my players won't use that, that's impractical. But there are lots of non-player characters in a game world, why not make one of them be an esoteric bored wizard that makes things harder for herself, not because she has to, but because she can.