Monday, April 21, 2014

Deadlands: Boot Hill

last time

Cast of Characters:
Alan Trehorn: Half-Apsalooke/Crow scout who might be taken for a greenhorn, but at your own risk.
Etienne DuMont: Texas Ranger. He used to be dead, but he got better.
Kenneth Lake: Professional poker player and reluctant participant in these events.
Dr. Frances Gray: Doctor and a strong believer in science and natural explanations.
Sister Elisabeth: A nun of maybe questionable past, but unquestionable faith.
Eliah Davis: Black cowboy who has seen some weird shit in his life. He spins this tale for you, somewhere at a camp fire on the prairie.

You probably think we called it a night after that. Well, we didn't - we decided to pay a visit to the graveyard to check on the grave of the man killed first. Alan called me mad when I told him, but the most dangerous thing around was walking right beside me and didn't seem too keen on killing me. Or rather walking in front of me because maybe I'm mad, but I'm not careless.

There was so much fog that we couldn't see more than a couple of steps ahead, even with the full moon and a lamp and the fog swallowed all sounds. We did see the light of another lamp up on Boothill and we saw to it that they didn't see us when we got closer. A man and a woman, searching for something on the ground. Etienne stepped out into the light and called out to them. The man drew his gun, mightily quick. Not someone to wear those guns for show, that one. They calmed down when Etienne told them who he was and since the folks were Southeners, I didn't count much.

The woman, Charlotte Graves, said that she had lost a family heirloom when she attended the burial of her valued business partner Kelly and that she couldn't stand the thought of not searching for it right away when she noticed. Sure. My guess, the only true thing is that she knew Kelly. Her partner, Justin Frakes, didn't say much, though I wouldn't be too quick to think that he's just the muscles of this outfit. They left, saying that daylight makes for a better search. We did our own search, but there was nothing except a few scratches next to an old grave, maybe from a coyote or wolf.

We waited a bit longer, it had just struck midnight and it takes a bit of time to get out of a coffin and grave, even when it's just a cheap pine box. Nothing happened. We were just turning back when I heard some rustling in the grass, something big. Wolf maybe or worse, a man. I told Etienne and he ran after it. Didn't catch it, so whatever it was it had been fast. I didn't even try to follow, but we tried and tracked it. Found huge tracks, either from something with hellish big feet or it looked that way because a man was running all out, barefoot. Couldn't tell for sure, we would have needed Alan for that.

The others had already come back to the saloon and we told each other the news. Seems the law hasn't much of a clue or even interest in solving this. Gaines though, the man we had just killed the second time, had been a spy for the Confederates. Elisabeth had found a notebook filled with random letters and numbers among his things and Etienne knew the code. No idea how that might work, but in the end we came up with a couple of names or good guesses at who was meant. The woman we had just meant and her companion had been trying to catch a Union spy with the help of Gaines.

While the others were busy with their letters, Alan and me headed out to the town border where Alan called in a favor from his spirit guide. I only got a glimpse at the biggest owl I have ever seen and the beast took Alan's spirit along with it. I had nothing to do but wait and take care that no-one messes with his body - don't know if he'd wake up in time if something was wrong. He didn't see much more once he got the owl to take a look at the graves and even when we went back in the morning, there was nothing. I used the way back to tell Alan what I had seen of Etienne - there were a few things we'd kept to ourselves. Like the claws or how he's eating his meat raw now. I did because people weren't going to believe it anyway and Etienne - the less he has to talk about this, the happier he seems. Which is not all that happy. Alan did believe me and he's about as worried as I am.

Elisabeth almost caused a riot the next morning because she couldn't leave it alone that she's not allowed to vote here. Leaving alone has never changed anything and I know how she feels. There's nothing worse than people treating you like shit just for the way you are, saying you're not worth as much and can never be. Taking a swing at the nearest guy who does isn't going to change much, except maybe ending your life if it's the wrong guy. But sometimes you just have swallowed all you can and then you don't care. I know how that feels, too.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Medieval Armour

...less clumsy and confining than you think. A lot less.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Next Town Over: The Book

After reading through the complete Next Town Over in a couple of days, I decided to buy the book. It contains the first four chapters of the webcomic. I got the hardcover edition and it's gorgeous:

The slipcase is thick and sturdy and both it and the book are bound in black flocked paper. The book has stitched binding and opens up well everywhere - there's nothing worth than a book or particularly a comic that doesn't open completely in the middle. The artwork looks fantastic on paper, even better than online. It's a limited and signed edition and it's a steal at 24,99$. There are still some left, so if you like the comic, go here and get one.


Sunday, March 30, 2014


Pumzi is a Kenyan short movie by Wanuri Kahiu, set in a world where there is no water and the few survivors live underground because the surface is radiated and no longer safe. Made with a budget of only 35,000$, the movie looks striking precisely because there are no flashy effects and it does a lot of world building in only twenty minutes. There are a lot of details that make me curious about this world and I'd love to watch a longer film set there.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

7th Sea: Underground

last time

cast of characters:
Aidan - member of the Exporer's Society
Gregor - fighter and bodyguard and maybe something more
Marinus - son of a rich vendel merchant family, travelling after completing his journeyman's piece

5. Octavus 1668
Susa showed us where the two boys has gone and we followed the same route. There were not side roads, so we were confident that they were somewhere ahead of us and indeed did Gregor spot some tracks in the afternoon, going up the first branch in the road we came upon.
At the end of it, we found a tunnel or mineshaft, hidden behind some boards. But someone had already broken down enough of the boards to make a comfortable entrance. Aidan also noticed torn reins loped around a tree, similar to the bridle the horse we found had been wearing. We decided to walk a short distance into the tunnel to see if we could find anything more, but to leave all further exploration until the next morning.

There were some marks on the tunnel walls, clearly someone had been here recently. We stopped when we came to a junction and returned outside, scaring a huge swarm of bats along the way. After a fairly restful night, we packed food and water to last us a couple of days, our lamps, some tools and set out into the mine once more. Whoever had been here, had taken the tunnel on the right and we followed. After quite a long while, Gregor claimed that he could see light. He went ahead alone and the lights moved or vanished. Apart from the quiet sound of rushing water, nothing was to be heard. We went on together and the light appeared again. I moved my lamp and one of the lights followed my movement - we had found a mirror.

Not a mirror, as it turned out, but an enormous slab of extremely smooth quartz that barred our way further into the tunnel.A small opening lead down into a cavern and that's where the sound of water came from. While investigating the quartz, I found that it moved when I pushed it and we could open it like a door with out combined strength. Unfortunately, we could not open it again from the other side, although it did move and it was just our lack of strength. It is not a pleasant feeling to be shut in deep under the earth. We decided to explore further and see if we could find another way out or maybe even the boys.

A few hours of climbing through naturally grown tunnels that were a good deal narrower and lower than the mineshaft turned up nothing of consequence. Except a well-made empty water skin and a variety of precious stones that would fetch a fair price on any market. We guessed that it must already be evening and settled down in a small cavern to spend the night before going back and trying our luck once more with the quartz door.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Deadlands: Dead Man Walking

last time

Cast of Characters:
Alan Trehorn: Half-Apsalooke/Crow scout who might be taken for a greenhorn, but at your own risk.
Etienne DuMont: Texas Ranger. He used to be dead, but he got better.
Kenneth Lake: Professional poker player and reluctant participant in these events.
Dr. Frances Gray: Doctor and a strong believer in science and natural explanations.
Sister Elisabeth: A nun of maybe questionable past, but unquestionable faith.
Eliah Davis: Black cowboy who has seen some weird shit in his life. He spins this tale for you, somewhere at a campfire on the prairie.

We made it to Dodge without problems, probably because all the problems were waiting for us there. Last time we were there, we caught a murderer and we found out that he had been possessed by some kind of spirit. He had a cursed knife and it turned him evil, it used him. We killed the man and we tried to destroy the knife, but it didn't work and then we lost the knife along the way. It simply was gone, maybe the spirit took it back.

Anyhow, might be this is the same thing happening all over again. Someone kills people and takes parts of their bodies. We heard all about it by the time we got to the Occident Saloon and we also heard that Frances Gray was in town, the lady doc we had met a couple of months ago. She had almost been killed by a dead man, if it hadn't been for the help of this card sharp, Kenneth Lake.

The deputy marshal doesn't seem too eager to even talk about the case, so we did some digging of our own. Etienne and me went to see the undertaker, to get a look at the latest victim. We got the man to show us the corpse alright and then Etienne started to act real strange, jeering and taunting the dead man to get up. When he did, Etienne looked about as flabbergasted as I did. I don't think he remembers a thing he did. I won't forget in a hurry, though, and I won't forget the sight of the claws Etienne sudenly grew, like he was a mountain lion. Shit, no animal I know has claws like that. Didn't hurt the corpse all that much, neither did my knife. In the end, Etienne simply ordered him to be dead again and he was. And stayed it. I cut off his head to make sure, put it face down into the coffin like you do with vampires. No idea if that helps, but it sure doesn't do any harm.

We fed the undertaker some wild story and he didn't believe it, but he'll keep quiet, if only to make sure we don't come back. When I asked Etienne about his little trick, he said that it will happen again and that we should just leave him alone then. Yeah. Didn't need him to tell me that. Didn't make me feel any better about his company, neither. He's my friend and all, but he scares me worse than almost anything else I've seen. And that's sayin' something.

next time

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


The Dutch artist Theo Jansen creates huge mechanisms from PVC tubes and lets them roam freely on the beaches. He calls them Strandbeests and they really are a sight to behold.

Compilation from Strandbeest on Vimeo.

Some of them have stomachs to store wind so they can walk even when there's no wind and some can even tell when they are walking into the water. I would love to see one in real life. Until then, I'm the proud owner of a mini-Strandbeest. You can buy those kits off Ebay or from Jansen's own site I linked above and even for someone with as little patience as myself, they are easy to assemble.

Just don't be intimidated by the number of parts. It's basically just six steps, repeated a lot of times.

Part of the legs:

The two main parts of the beest:

The finished beest:

It walks really well. You can just blow on the wind wheel, you can crank shaft by hand, you can of course put it outside or you can use a hair dryer, like I did here:

It even manages small obstacles. The tray slides a bit on the floor or the beest would have just walked over it without the slightest problem, but even so it walks on and off.

The construction is really simple, but ingenious. I'm probably going to get myself the second kit Jansen sells as well and I wish he'd sell his others beasts in miniature form as well.