A D&D Next legendary creature of terror, inspired by the marvellous Innistrad MTG setting.
Be afraid, be very afraid..!
A new urban-fatasy fiction project!
It's the near future, and it's a historical day for aviation.
Something feels wrong, though.
What is going on?
Begin to find out in the first chapter!
ABU HELL: Flight FZ001
The World of Cthon
A new cosmology and setting template that concentrates all the planar location into the material world!
Cthon: First Age
The First Age of Cthon in detail!
The primitive and deadly world that ended with an immense disaster, going deep underground and becoming the Underdark and Lower Planes of the later ages!
Cthon: Elder Gods
Meet the Elder Gods of Cthon, a class of deities that includes classic lovecraftian beings, classical evil gods and entities, and demonic lords of DnD!
The Dawn of Sorcery
A "legend and lore" post wrote before my World of Cthon cosmology idea, it explores sorcery as channeling of raw magic, predating wizardry and eventually originating it!
A big real-world mythology figure inspired the story... Which one?!
Not yet part of the #dndnext blog carnival "If I Ruled The Multiverse", but I will adapt it to World of Cthon soon!
Sunday, February 9, 2014
- "Mom, mom!"
- "What's up, baby?"
It took a few seconds for Ryan to reply.
- "Look outside!"
- "The clouds?"
- "The... Birds."
- "Where are they, Ryan?"
- "... There... No, th... There..."
- "I can't see anything, honey, are you playing with me?"
She was still in a good mood, although something in the way the kid was talking was a bit unsettling.
- "Oh my God, Ryan..!!"
At the special training, they were quite specific: treat the stratospheric ascent as a normal take-off, and avoid walking in the cabin, unless extremely necessary. But the attendant calls were sounding like crazy, and a handful of people, especially moms, were also calling outloud. Some directly for help.
After purser and flight deck approval, the crew began walking, not without difficulty, around the cabin, to see what was going on. Many kids were having strange symptoms. Their muscles were extremely tense, breathing was powerful but rare, eyes unblinking, very difficult to move, especially neck and head.
"It looks like a tonic seizure, we can't do much about it, we are contacting medlink for professional counsel. It seems to be quite..." - Katja quickly hit him from the back - "... Quite common in flight... These days. Don't worry, we treated cases like these before with no ill consequences." - She wanted to continue in his stead, he was nearly spilling the beans about the other cases, and mass hysteria was so close you could feel it. And it had to be avoided at all costs.
- "Ma'm, did your son experience some kind of symptoms before the onset of the seizure? We call them "aura" signs, they can include sensory... Malfunctions, like strange smells, sounds, images..."
- "YES! YES! He said he was seeing birds, but there were no birds, I thought he was playing with me, but could those be..."
- "Well, no, visual cues are more like strings of light or blurred patches... But don't worry, our medics on ground and on deck will clear things up. Maybe he described as birds some blurry patches that are commonly associated with these symptoms."
A few moments later in the galley:
- "Ok, we need the doctor NOW!" - Katja was the upset one now.
- "Hey don't worry, that's why we have official company medical staff on this aircraft, everything's gonna be under control."
- "Ok, let me say this outloud, we don't need a doctor, we need an exorcist!"
- "... What?"
- "Come on, do you think it's normal that ALL kids are experiencing the same symptoms at the same time??"
- "Hey, calm down, it's not all the kids, I saw a lot feeling perfectly fine."
- "True, there are entire groups seating all together that are even disturbing others with their excitement. I don't see such a mass hysteria after all. Don't bring it yourself, Katja."
- "But all kids with families are having seizures!!"
- "... No, again, I think I can point you at least three families with kids that are fine."
- "I tell you there's a pattern here, and it's not normal. Call the upper decks, how is the situation there?"
The crew were increasingly worried, not much about the kids, but about Katja. Whispering, they were agreeing she was being a bit too crazy. Dangerously so. And dangers should be dealt with.
The senior reassured her he was going to contact the upper decks, but not to know about the kids. They were going to discuss what to do with her. In the end they decided to call the flight deck, to see if they agreed with a temporary isolation.
"It's No Contact Period after all. They should answer me as the purser, but still they have the right to refuse the call. Well, for now I will have to take responsibility. And we can't afford any panic here, especially with the medical cases around. Just send her upstairs, from the front, I will deal with her here."
Ruben understood perfectly what was going on, when they told her to go upstairs "help the others". It's not like the Gold or Platinum crew couldn't deal with the situations, they even had more seniors among them. So a Silver crew going up was not for help. It was for disciplinary action. But she was so focused on the problem that she probably didn't think about that. And that was exactly her problem.
But remaining there without her, and going back and forth, trying to maintain a smiling face while dealing with all the medical cases in the critical stage of stratospheric ascent, he started thinking more about her words.
"Well, it is indeed strange, practically all of them are kids as far as I know. And it's true, all of them are with families. But what could the pattern be, or better, what could it be caused by?"
- "Oh so he turns back to the right if you try to move his head. Well, it's normal for a tonic seizure to maintain a certain position..."
"Who knows what would Katja think about this..."
He moved to the next case. This one was always turning to the left. Outboard. "They are all turned outboard. Window seats".
- "Hey Jude, what was the aura symptom for that kid?"
- "He saw birds."
- "He too..."
- "Yes, another too?"
- "Wait, did someone see something else?"
- "Well we actually don't know the aura signs for most of them. It's not like the parents were really paying attention until they saw them stuck towards the window."
- "Hey have you noticed? All of them towards the window."
- "Well, I haven't, actually."
She was dismissing the conversation. And walking away.
- "Go to the right-hand side, I'll go left-hand."
Ruben was starting to think Katja was onto something. But he evidently couldn't speak his mind. He would have been put into isolation just like her.
It seemed like even much more than that, but one hour passed already since take-off, and still in ascent. Still no improvements from the kids. They were medically stable, but medlink agreed that the duration of the symptoms was very unusual. And they agreed the distribution was unusual too. That is to say, Katja was right. Medlink even advised to cancel the flight and begin descent for quick medical intervention. But the flight deck was still in its No-Contact Period, and apparently they took it very seriously, ignoring multiple calls from the purser, who obviously was even more scared of actually trying to enter the flight deck. In theory, they shouldn't even be standing and walking at that point, if not thanks to flight deck approval. Yes, they approved the decision...
- "Hey, babe, don't you think it's strange they answered us a while ago and now they don't? I mean, the No-Contact Period is the same, but I think it should be easier to answer after one hour, compared to twenty minutes after take-off, don't you think?"
- "... True... Or who knows, I mean, they could be having something else to deal with now, I don't know really..."
- "I should go, it's too much time now, I really want to speak with them, or at least see what's going on."
- "Ok, Prya, I will be backing you in case someone complains."
- "Ok, so we have 12 kids on pillows, in the aisles, and onboard medics are as clueless as ground ones. Nice."
- "Yeah, and guess what, seniors seem to be playing hide and seek. They left us to deal with the situation, they're probably having their secret talks while we get our hands dirty."
Attendant calls start ringing again, all over the decks.
- "Ok, let's go. And pray it's only water they want."
No they weren't for water. People were calling to report birds.
"... Yes, I see them too sir... I will inform the flight deck just in case, but everything should be under control, don't worry."
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Early morning. A very well known aerospace hub. Already 24 degrees Celsius. February.
The immense, shining-new, world-record-breaker airliner is taxing towards the runway for its very first flight with passengers. It's a historical day for the company. And for aviation.
Three thousand passengers distributed on 3 decks. There's no economy class. There is a lower class but it's not called economy. It's either Silver, Gold, or Platinum.
And to accommodate the changes and underline even more the already apparent will to separate this beast from the other aircrafts of the company, a new sub-company's flag is on it. "FAZL". Strange name. Apparently a possible transcription of Arabic for "grace, generosity".
Some strange marketing decision, along the one of painting the whole aircraft red, leaving only tail and part of the wings white. Some said it looked cheap, others appreciated the pioneering vision of it.
The aircraft seems too big even for the airport, literally. It towers over the terminals. A new one is in construction, but making the first flight was a priority. Insiders opinions are divided. Some say things were rushed, others say an unprecedented amount of work and care has been put into the whole thing.
The aircraft is not only just big. It's the first stratospheric airliner. It doesn't break the wall of sound, although it would be capable of doing so, but its stratospheric flight allows to save both time and, so they say, fuel. Making it greener. Looking at the whole mass of the thing and its engines, it's difficult to think of it as a green thing, but I did my homework, and read the specs. Taking in consideration the number of passengers moved, it is in fact greener by a considerable margin. Assuming of course you can fill it with the nominal 3000 pax load. Something I doubt will always be possible. However, the first flight was vastly overbooked. The numbers came out, and they are so big that I don't even remember. Something like more than twenty times the capacity in bookings. Good job. Chapeau.
I've been in the company for a quite a few years, and I was even offered a ticket at a very, very discounted price. Normally, I'm what is called an early user when it comes to tech. But I always had something against very large crowds. And the fact there's not going to be an appropriate terminal for this thing in the next year, means that for now, disembarking from row 199 will take AGES. In the middle of a 1900 people crowd, the ones in Silver class, where I would have traveled. So I decided to wait until an inevitably less-crowded flight will come up. I will be following the flight from remote video on the inside anyway, along with many in the world. Many paying customers. Another good marketing decision, this time coming from a non-marketing department: mine.
Safety was a truly major focus of the campaign for the "HueJumbo", as it was dubbed. Truth is, many of the technologies that preceded the ones adopted here were never tested in real emergency situations, so I saw it a bit pointless to have a "new generation" of technologies, if the previous ones still didn't have any (positive) use-case. But again, marketing got in the way, and internally, the word is that customers still choose flights based on the notions they have about their safety, whether they come from well-informed opinions or gut feelings.
Here we are, the airliner is ready for take-off. Special, brightly red-colored, ink-like fireworks are exploding in the air, an experimental type that should make an impression even in day-light. They were supposed to be accurately programmed to draw the symbol of the company in the sky. A not so common strong wind leaves no quarter to the artistic intents, and little more than a cloud of red, liquid-like smoke shapes up above.
Will I be the only one seeing that as an ominous sign? Heck, it looks like a blood-stain in the sky. No I'm not the only one: at the cafe here, many people's lips are corrugating in a slight, quickly hidden expression of disgust. Cheering and applause don't stop.
The engines hit 100%. The sound is really loud. It may be green, but acoustic pollution will be an issue. Well, the world will hear an edited version, I'm sure. After a long, long take-off roll, the giant takes flight. Screens showing the live video feed picture passengers smiling and cheering, except for those near the wings and engines. Some bad feedback will come about the noise, after all. Also when going through the red smoke cloud, I'm not the only one noticing some pretty worried faces among certain passengers. Kids crying. Well, kids cry all the time. But there must have been a bit of turbulence in that dense colored smoke. Or is it only hysteria given by the color? Are symbols so powerful? I hope not, because the internet has been particularly abuzz over this aircraft, and symbolism was under the spotlight in some regions of the net. Normally I devour that kind of "fiction" with interest, but being inside those roiling waters myself this time around, I decided to ignore the buzz. What I never could ignore, due to my fantasy fiction and gaming background, is the sound of names. "FAZL" in particular has always stricken me. But I could never pinpoint why exactly. Or could I..? For some reason, I was beginning only now, seeing the red beast in the skies, to feel the urge of discovering what was it about that name that pulled the wrong strings in my head. I broke out my smartphone from my pocket. The only one not taking pictures with it.
One hour later, my office, silence, loneliness.
Everybody is following the live feed from the atrium and the auditorium. I'm knee deep in my googling, doing what I refrained to do for many months. I can't seem to find anything. Damn, I've always been good searching for things, what's wrong with me? Maybe there's nothing to find? Hell no, there's always something. Suddenly I remember that when I was giving quick looks to the buzzwords, avoiding to research deeply, I saw talks of censorship. Apparently, even in normally overlooked places such as gaming forums I used to write in, some posts were moderated when things apparently got ugly. I started thinking about censorship, and the big talk it became in the years of the datagate scandals. I fired up my darknet software. Nobody censors darknets, especially not a distributed, decentralized one such as I2P. It appears very few people here is aware of these things. Even from the company-controlled network, I have no difficulties gaining access to the darknet. They simply didn't consider it a threat, because they probably didn't know about it.
Even with access to it, some obvious limitations to bandwith and peer-to-peer networking make me wait for long until I'm able to look at some relevant EEP sites. Relevant? I'm in the dark, actually. For some technical reasons, there's no such thing as a Google in this darknet. I have an incomplete index of the sites, but it will be more luck than anything, finding one that talks about the things I want to see.
My eyes are getting tired of scrolling through the microblogging updates when I see a simil-tweet of only two words, separated by an arrow. It's an... Association of words... Hence the arrow. I swallow... difficultly. One is FAZL. The other is... Oh my God... Why? Why did I want to see this?
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Yes, I got inspired again. Yes it's gonna be crunchy bits, this time!
Zendikar's under my spotlight again. A fellow Italian player wants to D&D-ize the setting using 3.5-PF rules (no surprise: no 4e or Next fans in Italy!), so he contacted me, having seen my previous work on the setting, which can now be found here: http://community.wizards.com/group/zendikar-dd-campaign-setting
Ravnica would also be an evergreen and although none of the two are the latest setting MtG has touched, seeing the latest setting only makes me want to think about the old ones and eventually what's coming next..! Seriously, a setting based on a B- movie (Clash of The Titans), certified B- by seriously awful metacritic scores. And it's even graphically inspired by it, completely. The artwork is even good to the eye, but when the brain connects to the eye... Oh my God(s)... </rant>
However, I decided to focus on Zendikar because its adventuring theme makes it effortless to come up with D&D material for it!
So here we are, trying to design some new stuff for Next, waiting for the crunchy bits to come from Wizards itself...
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
So 13th Age, as you may have read, revolutionized my way of looking at fantasy settings and cooperative storytelling within them.
The concept of Icons intended as powers that have clear (or murky, but definedly so) relationships with each other, and with which the player characters can have in their turn defined relationships with, kind of stated the obvious about world-building, but in a "why haven't I thought it before" kind of way.
My own "infinite project" named World of Cthon started as an alternative cosmology for D&D. The key idea was putting all the planes of existence inside a single material world, with defined spatial and temporal relationships with each other. That is to say: Heaven is a place on earth. And Hell too.
Such a "pocket-size" cosmology naturally implies an "assumed setting". That is, it's not just a guideline regarding planes, but it strongly suggests a story, and stories have characters.
The most influential of these characters are the three major families of gods of Cthon, that are beings sometimes defined as godly, sometimes not, throughout the whole history of D&D (if keeping the original D&D flavor).
In what I wanted to be a heads-up to real anthropology, the three families of gods represent/define three periods of time.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
With this very self-explanatory title, I basically gave you my personal review of Heinsoo and Tweet's great "advanced D&D vision" that is 13th Age.
Two things in particular blew my mind, and they're the elements that are advanced in the field of story-telling devices that the game offers to both players and GMs.
Backgrounds and Icons.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
So the largest RPG playtesting of human history and probably the whole galaxy has ended.
This "review" of mine will be very short hopefully, and bullet-point structured, to make it both as easily readable and as bull's-eye-aiming as possible.