Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Striking a Nerve

Part of my investment in the whole Carcosa thing, besides my belief that imagination and expression of imagination should be absolute in its freedom, is that I have a couple of things in development that touch on similar sensitive areas. Remember my media influences, mind you... and... you know... fantasy gaming should be fantastic. Horror gaming should be horrific. And fantasy horror should be fantastically horrifying. :P

Insect Shrine of Goblin Hill's Goblin Kitchen... drawn by Laura Jalo... (image photographed, not scanned).

Why? Because there's no reason to use goblin bad guys if human bandits work plot-wise just as well. Bandits wouldn't do this. Creatures that saw humans as just another natural resource would though. And that's a pretty good reason for going after them, yes? And who else is going to be laired in a giant mound originally consecrated to ancient bug gods?

Plus I have this Duvan'Ku thing that I add notes to every so often (a collection of spells, items, and adventures relating to an ancient kingdom of the damned). A couple of examples of what was in there before I ever knew Carcosa had graphic content:

Dangerous Toys
Level: 1st
This spell causes a minor demon to inhabit a very small inanimate object. The demon wakes up, animating the object, when it is touched by a child. At that point the object will attempt to slay any living thing it comes across. The object then has AC Unarmored, MV Human Average, HD 1, #AT 1, D d6.

Storm of Fertility
Level: 9th
This spell impregnates every female of the same race as the caster in a large area. Before casting the spell, the caster must trap an extra-planar being in a containment circle. Casting this spell kills this creature, and this being is the father of the children it spawns. The spell affects an area one mile in diameter for every hit die of the trapped creature, with each female getting a saving throw to avoid its effects. The children will look like the mother’s race, mature at the rate of the mother’s race, but have the temperament, alignment, and abilities of the father.

Book of Faust
By reading this book, a character may make a pact with a devil and increase one ability score to 18 in exchange for one service to be rendered one year from the time of the ability score gain. At the one year mark, an Arch-Devil will appear in person to take that person to hell, and the character can not be raised or resurrected, and a wish to bring the character back will result in a crippled stump of a body, no limbs, blind, and dumb, being spewed forth from the Arch-Devil that had required service.

Chalice of Great Health
If a good creature is ritually sacrificed and its blood immediately collected in this cup, the drinker will be cured of any curses and diseases, magical or mundane.

Gem of Lifeforce Sight
This gem acts as a gem of seeing, but when looking through the gem all living beings will be seen as slowly rotting and dying, and the viewer will be able to tell the how long the creature will naturally live. This insults the soul of the viewed, and any creature that will naturally die (of age or disease) within a month will rise as a wight or wraith to hunt the viewer. Anyone else viewed with the gem that dies within 24 hours will also rise as a wight or wraith and hunt the viewer, feeling the violation contributed to its death.


  1. Go purchase and read Neuropath by Scott Bakker. I'll spoil part of it for you. In it a mentally rewired politician in a cage with a young girl eats her alive (starting by biting out an apple sized piece of her cheek and going from there...), all the while protesting his innocence as being a creature made by god.

    I'll grant, the whole act isn't described - the protagonist staggers out from watching the webcast of it.

    In that book the author raises some issues about cognition and how everyone thinks they see clearly, people bullshit beliefs, government power...a whole bunch of stuff. And rather than winking at the reader, this stuff just rams the horror even further in, because its so f'n close to home.

    Also there's his fantasy series, which is even better - The Prince of Nothing trilogy. Not quite as horrific, though people die hidiously - that series will f' your mind up.

    Frankly I think a picture of a room full of goblins eating humans is offensive and pointless. It's just a gross out at a shallow, abstract level. Big deal, lions would do the same. So what?

    I think it's offensive because it fails to go deep, rather than because it's somehow already deeply horrific. It's just churning the same old horrors - what's the point of that, unless you want to become numb to them?

  2. The point, I thought, was to make the players want to go eliminate the goblins. :)

  3. I love the picture. It seems to hark back to a 70s or 80s aesthetic. And I absolutely agree that goblins shouldn't just be the equivalent of nasty humans with green skin.

    That said, if I was going to make a criticism, there's nothing left to the imagination here. That diminishes the shock/horror/disgust to me.

  4. >>That said, if I was going to make a criticism, there's nothing left to the imagination here.

    That is part of the point... the goblins aren't killing and eating humans because they're intending to be evil. It's just something they do. It's completely natural.

    The horror isn't in the act itself, which is mundane if one considers what happens in the mundane butcher's back room. The horror and the evil here is that goblins are sentient, intelligent creatures that can interact, converse, and deal with humans on a conscious being-to-being level, yet this behavior still remains completely normal and natural for them.

  5. I love this stuff, especially the Dangerous Toys spell.

    The illustration of the goblin butchers is great. Lawful EVIL, just like the Monster Manual says. Goblins deserve the LE ranking for more than harsh language.

    I'm really looking forward to your Insect Shrine of Goblin Hill module.

  6. Blast it, forgot to second your comment about this sort of thing being natural to goblins. It's just what they do.

  7. I can buy that. I absolutely agree with and applaud the thinking behind it. But because everything is revealed I think it has less of an impact. Then again these things are completely subjective!

    Anyway, it's a great picture.