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Uncertain Worlds

Table of Contents
Places......................................................................................................3

The Caliphate of Holes............................................................................3

Report of an Island..................................................................................7

Three Cities...........................................................................................11

Lanthanum Chromate...........................................................................11

Pluvial...................................................................................................13

Ganglia Moor........................................................................................17

What Hell Knows...................................................................................18

The Truth...............................................................................................20

Three Rivers..........................................................................................22

The Virid River, or The River of Drowned Queens..............................22

The Or, or The Civil River.................................................................25

The Perse, or Kaldr Hjarta river..............................................................28

Two Dark Oceans..................................................................................33

Eight Navigating Houses of Nox............................................................33

Mariners Song of the Nightmare Sea....................................................39

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The Sea of Shadows..............................................................................41

A Plane of Fire.......................................................................................43

Encounters............................................................................................45

The Prince of Carcasses.........................................................................45

The Sorrows of The Thane of Coates (6d6)...........................................47

Doppelgngers (7d7)............................................................................50

Snail Knights (1d20, 3d10......................................................................52

Science Fiction......................................................................................55

The Omnistructure in Decay..................................................................55

Science Fiction Fortifications (d6).........................................................56

A Knight of Mars....................................................................................58

Three Ancestral Mecha.........................................................................58

Two Oaths, One Song and a Curse........................................................60

Cryogenic Rats.......................................................................................62

Exo-Suits of the Hot Girls (2d10)...........................................................62

HackShips of the Cryogenic Rats (3d6 six times)...................................65

Masks of the Creatures from before Time (d10)...................................69

Heroism and Super-Heroism.................................................................71

Heroes (d6)...........................................................................................71

Villains (d10).........................................................................................74

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There are so many signs of trouble (d30)..............................................79

My Means of Destroying You All (d20)..................................................80

Miscellaneous Things............................................................................83

Bootleg Bots of the Unset Strip.............................................................83

Bunny World (4d10)..............................................................................88

A System of Time..................................................................................89

She Is (d10)...........................................................................................90

An Achingly Portentous Prophecy.........................................................92

Places
The Caliphate of Holes

The shattered karst and black cyclopean frags that make up the Sifir, or
'The Plain of Sifir' or 'The Plain of Nothing', or more simply 'The
Nothing', are uninterrupted and empty of life.

Only in the shadowed micro-climates of the black broken kaiju temple


shards, bigger than buildings, will life appear, and then only the clenched
octopoid charcoal-vermilion corn that grows in tangled bezoars. Despite
its vile appearance the red-black sifir corn still feeds safely and well.
Enough to support the few mad banished vagabonds that haunt the sifir
and the wolfslugs that prey on them in turn.

Monsters prowl the sifir, monsters and monstrous men and wild vortices
of time that pinwheel through the sky like storms. But, hidden till you see
it, is the Caliphate of Holes.

Each village, town or house in the Caliphate of Holes exists in a stepped-


pyramid sinkhole. A natural occurrence, deliberately crafted by the hand of
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man.

The sides of these limestone pyramid-reflections have been cut into


shelves and filled with soil. Crops grow in the steps and paths lead
mazelike routes between the fields. At the bottom of each asifir (a-sifir
meaning simply not-sifir, or 'not nothing') lies a home or several, a village,
and in many cases the shell-palace of a noble line.

It is like walking the surface of a blasted alien world, then looking down
into a green, green valley that opens up before you like a trap. The hole-
sides protect the asifir from the cruel desiccating winds of the outer plain
and as each stepped field sinks slowly through the water table, they grow
green with life. Many asifir have rivers running through their base,
emerging from caves and apertures in the rock, all have wells and oases.

All the asifir, linked together in rulership, form the Caliphate of Holes, a
hidden nation.

It is so difficult and dangerous to cross the sifir that most residents of the
Caliphate do it only once. The asifir are connected in trade by a migratory
culture of caravan guards, some of the toughest, most dangerous people
on earth, who ply their beetle caravans across and through the labyrinth of
the broken karst to connect the valuable markets of the asifir.

You can become rich quickly in the caravans of the Caliphate, and die
quickly too.

The asifir are linked by this strange mercenary culture, but they are also
connected beneath the stone as well. The whole Plain of Nothing is a
gigantic water table feeding into the three mighty rivers which originate
somewhere under its parched black skin. Rain does fall there but is
absorbed so quickly by the rock that the place seems parched seconds after
a storm.

Underneath the surface the water trickles and runs, forming a lacework of
hidden rivers and streams. All asifir have access to this underground world
and, dangerous as it is, connecting to the Veins of the Earth and the
terrible things that reside there, it is also a medium of communication.

A few asifir are lucky enough to be joined by navigable underground rivers,


but even for the rest communication is still possible.
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The watery underground world beneath the Sifir is home to a race of
intelligent, albino octopus-men. The Calipahte exists in a state of alliance
with this race. In a sense, they form two sides of the same coin. The
Caliphate provides crops, food, space to devise and create and protection
from, along with access to, the upper world. The Octopi-men first, when
young, carry sealed messages between the asifir, worming through the
perforated rocks, forming a postal system beneath the earth. Second, when
adult, they emerge from the wells and oases and form the guards of the
asifir, protecting them from the monsters and horrors of the plain. When
Caravans appear they are greeted first by Octopi-men riding gigantic snails.
These then lead them through the maze of the asifirs terraced fields.

Every aspect of the asifirs construction is devised towards protection. The


layout of the terraces is like a puzzle. Residents know it, but visitors can
quickly be disconcerted by the narrow paths. Even the crops themselves
and the way they are laid out can be a form of trap.

The topmost, dryest terraces are usually planted with hypnotic poppies
that require blind guides. Then come orchards protected with beehives in
the branches of their trees. Anti-cavalry potato mazes can be found on
lower levels. Thick grain crops are always grown in mazes. narrow paths
lead between paddies of calligraphic rice. As the thin wind moves across
the leaves of rice the shifting of the leaves en-masse forms single words
and letters when seen from above, different each time. On lower fields,
sheep-sized snails are herded and watched over by young shepherds and
war-pigs are bred and kept secure.

(The asifir of the Caliphate of Holes are famous for their culturing of
snails, but despite their success in this field, they cannot grow snails as
large, intelligent or warlike as the 'Chivalric Snails' rumoured to exist in the
lands of the Curlicue Throne, somewhere beyond the Snaegleborg.
Though they are large enough to provide a kind of cavalry for the octopi
men to guard against wolfslugs, and worse things, in the night.)

A noble family rules each asifir from a home or small palace near its
centre. Often these are gigantic shells of mega-snails long since extinct.
What role these gigantic snails played in the formation and development
of the sinkholes, and how they came to be extinct, is lost to history.

The noble youth are educated by clerics of the Caliph. The Caliph him (or
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her) self is a civilised vortex of time, and his, or her, clerics are finely
trained legal minds who act as impartial judges, lawyers and martial tutors
for the nobility of the asifir.

Since the culture of the Caliphate insists that the young marry only for
love and for no other reason, and since it is very difficult to travel between
asifirs, and because it is illegal to marry someone of your own family, and
somewhat deviant to marry below your family, a sizeable proportion of the
messages carried through the underground maze of the water table are
love letters.

Poetry is the accepted means of discovering and declaring love and it is


entirely common for young couples to find each other through the written
word, court, fall in love, all through the exchange of poetry, and then to
meet only at the moment before being married after at least one of them,
usually, (but not always) the man, has survived a gruelling passage across
the sifir.

Since poetry is the primary means of finding a mate and gaining and
retaining status, the Caliphate produces very good poets. A good poet
essentially has their choice of spouse. This has lead to the noble families
of the Caliphate becoming somewhat obsessive in pursuit of this talent
and poetical inbreeding, of character if not of bloodlines, has lead to a
melancholic, depressive, sometimes bipolar, yet brilliant temperament
amongst that class.

Since poetry is status, access to poetry is restricted to the upper class. It is


illegal for anyone else to create any and the peasants of the Caliphate even
sing their field songs without words, or in a deliberate nonsense fashion to
ensure that no-one suspects them of illegal poetical talent.

Unpoetical, unromantic but likeable and practical-minded youngsters will


often pay for 'bandit verse' so they can create the simulation of the perfect
relationship and be allowed to marry. If they are known by their families to
be 'un-versical' then this will be quietly allowed without comment.

And of course the folk stories and legends of the Caliphate are full of
poems being delivered to the wrong people, Snail herders with an
incredible unexpected talent, princesses wandering in the sifir and bumping
into bandit kings who happen to be incredible poets and are also exiled
princes, princes being sucked into time vortexes and sending poetry
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through the calligraphic rice that ensures their own conception. All the
creaky old classics.

Report of an Island.
"My Island is the centre of the world.

I know this because all waters are born within it, they flow outwards under
the rocks and turn into the waters of the sea.

We make our living underwater and underground."

Geography
"In the middle of the centre of the world is our black father. He is old and
quiet now. He has many long halls under the earth where his blood was,
but he is old now, and dry. Many small streams come from him, but they
disappear into his halls and then into the white rock. Only we know where
they go.

Every tribe knows one stream, or more. Only they know and it is the most
important knowledge a tribe has.

To get water you need to live, you must follow the stream underground, or
know where it meets the sea. They all flow out under the surf and the
cliffs. Go to the right place with your bag closed, dive down and face the
black opening where the water comes out, open your bag the right way,
then close it.

Now you have a bag of fresh water.

There is soil in some of the big pits and the mouths of caves that will hold
water for a while. You can make a farm there that will not be seen from the
outside.

Other people know there is no water on our island. They know everything
here is poisoned. They know nothing can live here so they think we are
ghosts. If they come, we wait for them to get thirsty, then we come out of
the ground and take them."

Magic
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"To make a spell, take the smallest grain you can hold, sing the spell to it.
Dive down to where the big oysters are. Put the spell in the oyster, don't
get caught. When your grandchildren are old, they can go to the same
oyster and take out the spell.

When they want to cast it, they throw it into a cup of strong drink. The
pearls dissolve in their stomach and the spell comes out and is cast.

So you can never cast spells yourself, only send them to your
grandchildren. You have to think hard about the kind of spells they will
need. Just like your grandparents though hard for you.

A big string of pearls is a big song of spells. Anyone with that had
powerful grandparents. They can cast the spells one-by-one, or sometimes
all at once.

Never tell anyone where your spells are hidden, they can be stolen.

The moon is gods spell and he is waiting to cast it."

Tools
"There is not much wood here and it is precious. If you see any others, try
to take their wood!

If you have a wooden club that belongs to your family, try not to break it.
If you do, you must go to one of the other places to get more wood and
make a better club so your family doesn't suffer.

The shells of the turtle make good shields. The shells of the oyster can
only be used by the Chief and his men. If you see a curved white dagger
made from a broken oyster shell, the person holding it is a criminal. They
smashed the shield of the chief. You can kill them for this. (Try to keep the
dagger, they are very useful. Don't let anyone see it or they can kill you.)

The spell-making men have excellent axes that can never break. They can
only ever be used for carving the tortoise shell shields. They can never be
used for anything else. So don't try or your parents will die straight away.

If you want to trade, have the black coral. Never trade wood, it is too
important. Just trade the right amount of black coral for whatever you
want and when it is done, walk away, leaving the wood without looking at
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it. If you see it again, pretend not to recognise it. In this way you can 'sell'
wood if you are careful.

Our father knows we are poor, he gives us the black glass to make our
knives with. Not many people have this. Try not to see your reflection in
the glass. It is not a friend." (see below).

Warfare
"When you get close, turn your canoe over like it has been in a storm, then
they can't shoot at you. Then swim underneath them and come from
below.

Remember, if you attack by swinging overarm, the dead can see you. So try
to only do that if you are avenging someone. If you do it 'out there' then
alien ghosts might follow you."

Food
"Remember almost everything in the world is poisonous. The only way to
avoid the poisons is to get exactly the right foods and mix them in exactly
the right way. If you do this, the poisons cancel each other out. If you go
'out there' to the edges of the world and you see anyone mixing foods
when they eat, always do exactly the same thing."

Religion
"The thing with the food is basically true for everything. You can always
cancel out a tabu or a sin with a different tabu or sin. But they have to be
exactly right. If you can keep your actions even, you will be ok when you
die. Listen and pay attention to find out what things cancel out what other
things. In the centre of the world the spell-making men know which ones,
but out in the edges you are on your own.

Remember that reflections are other selves who can be tricked into helping
you. Don't trust the ones you see in weapons. They are fiercer than you
and will try to trick you into dying in their place. If you see one in wine or
milk that's good. (Remember the wine and milk are poisoned).

If you are in trouble, remember to always turn things inside out and upside
down if you can.

Trust ducks. They know both worlds."

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Tattoos
"Some tattoos go on one half of the body, some go on the other. They
have to be exactly even. When you are born the spell-making men will tell
your parents where to get the tattoos from. My uncle had one side tattooed
with things seen by the starved and the other side with things seen by the
mad. My father had one side with things women saw in dreams and the
other with things seen in the night sky reflected in the sea.

Remember they have to be even!

So if you know your left-side tattoos come from the teeth of sharks when
you see them. And you see the teeth, and get the tattoo, then you have to
get the other side tattooed. You will not be safe until it is done. This is why
most people leave the centre of the world. They have uneven tattoos and
need to find the right thing or person to even them out.

If you get a scar on one side, remember to get the right scar on the other
side.

If you lose a hand and live, you are a daemon, never come back"

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Three Cities

Lanthanum Chromate
Imagine you are coming to the painful end of a long life. You can feel your
body decaying around you. You have Alzheimers, you can feel your
memories and sense of self drifting away moment by moment. You are
alone. You are afraid. You are living the last moments of your life in the
direct presence of annihilating despair. A void of meaning. But, let loose
from all calculations, at the end of every possible hope, instead of
collapsing, or crying or silently breaking down, what if you were to rise
up? To surge. To throw yourself carelessly into deadly adventure? To coil
every fading memory, every tenuous pale flame of selfhood and every
dying ember of self-respect into a charged spring of action and then to
hurl yourself madly and violently into the face of evil and madness for the
cause of all mankind?

Imagine if instead of a person, that was describing a civilisation, and that


civilisation was encoded in a single city.

Its lying tilted and falling in the mouth of a volcano. A good third has
already fallen in and bits and pieces are going all the time. The whole thing
could just side away every second.

The volcano leads straight to hell and daemons spew out every night.

The kings of hell hate this city. It is the city of the Dwarves. The Dwarves
were great and mighty in ages past. They were sombre and grim and
dwarfish and sang long low songs, but they were hard as fucking nails, so
instead of getting decadent and pervy, whenever their civilisation got
bored, they would collectively find the evillest creatures and forces across
all the cosmos and they would just fuck with them. Just to ruin evils day.
That is what the dwarves did with their spare eons. Century over century
over century of tracking down daemons and liches and diabolic dragons
and creatures of the outer dark and just fucking with them, killing them,
wrecking their plans, freeing their slaves, bringing down the dark towers,
just for the pleasure of doing it. Thats how you run a culture.

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So now the age of dwarves is done. Their civilisation is dying. The kings
of hell have sworn to drag the last city of the Dwarves down into the fire.
Who is going to stop them?

The City is a place where every night hell unleashes another apocalypse to
destroy it, and every night the anarchist remnants of the Dwarven people
(and anyone else who wants to turn up) fight them off, just to ensure
another day goes past.

Each nights doom is different. Yes, big red devils with wings, but also
living creatures of despair, evil plots, strange magics, ghosts of evil
dragons, fallen angel deathsongs, diabolic brass siege engines, never the
same thing twice. Never the same kind of thing twice.

And because this is a place where you are guaranteed to come face to face
with ultimate despair every night, only the coolest, craziest, bravest people
go there. The kind of people who are either massively good, totally at the
end of their tether, or just dont give a fuck.

There is no real central authority. There might be a king but he is pretty


busy foiling endless evil plots to worry too much about what you are up to,
so its cool. Its mainly Dwarves. Strange mad brave dwarves. They are old
and weird with the knowledge of forgotten centuries and dead friends, or
young and careless in the face of destruction. There are lots of other types
of people there as well. All the people who couldnt get along anywhere
else because they were too real for the system. No-one is too fussed about
normative conduct because you have probably signed your own death
warrant by coming there. Its generally assumed that you are going to
spend your time doing something unspeakably heroic. Because if everyone
in the city wasnt doing that all the time then the city would be gone.

There are endless halls and catacombs and ancient libraries and museums
and strange crypts. They are full of the knowledge and secrets and
treasures of the Dwarves. Accumulated and guarded over millennia. The
secrets are all about fighting evil. Every night demonic forces surge into
the city and try to wipe out the collected memory of civilisation. Every
night, teams of anarchist kamikaze librarians do battle to preserve the
memory of the past so that future generations will know how to
successfully fuck with evil too.

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(There is also lots and lots of gold and treasure which needs to be rescued
from hell.)

When the sun comes up and the city is still there, people throw a drunken
dwarven party.

In the day, while living heroes sleep, the ghosts of the heroic dead guard
the city silently against invisible evils no-one else suspects. So even if you
die in the city then thats just the start of a bigger adventure for your ghost.

In the points between fighting evil, partying and sleeping, people try to run
a (sort-of) normal city. They fix sewers, shop, deal with infrastructure.
There are normal jobs but the people doing them are the best possible
versions of the people doing them anywhere because everyone here is
slightly mad and heroic.

Pluvial
Pluvial sits upon the broad and wasted plains of Ennui, highly fertile land
fed by the flooding of Lethe. Not farmed at any time, its muddy shoals are
left to rot.

Skeletons and flensed bodies animated by poetic backwash do most of the


menial work and tomb conversion. They dont really get tired. The free
labour has destroyed whats left of the economy, which runs mainly on
prostitution and words.

The life of a skeletonised beggar in Pluvial is not so bad. The arthritis


from the semi-constant rain is gone so you can stand straight up at least.
You get (have) to dress up for the balls as well. You still have to bend,
caper and dance madly as the prince goes by. He likes to scream in rage-
black madness at the sight. Its easier, at least, than simply being old.

The sewer system is excellent. Or at least capacious. Labyrinthine.


Cathedral-Naved, baroque, knotted like lost string and several times deeper
that the city is tall. Presumably the stuff is going somewhere. Though
drainage does descend below the water table and keep going, which seems
strange. In a way, its lucky it rains so much. The constantly running water
means that despite much encouragement, tuberculosis has yet to take hold.
White foundation, diet books and re-useable blood clots can be bought at
local shops.
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Men have been hired to paint the sky the colour of bruises and rot, to no
effect. Enquiries of their progress have not yet been made.

Justice

In Pluvial, they dont call you for jury service, they call you to judge.

The most important factor is that person judging a crime is in exactly the
same mental state as the criminal was when the committed it. So, drunk,
angry, desperately in love, insane, enraged, jealous or suicidal. Whatever
you need to commit that crime, thats what you need to judge it. The
courts of Pluvial send all over the city, and sometimes all over the world
for someone in the exact right state of mind to judge a particular crime.
Killing your husband or wife is generally ok, if they were really annoying.
Suicides are always found guilty in-absentia during very quick trials. Theft
is rarely prosecuted as you never get a conviction.

Crime has been encouraged in song and handy ratways built across the
tomb-top roofs in hopes that assaulters, housebreakers and masked bandits
will transit silently in the night. Lack of anything to actually steal has
limited opportunities for crime but numerous anonymous try-hards still
make the nightly effort, climbing around, passing each other on the
midnight eaves, sometimes mugging each other in a sad, ritual way.

Once, someone broke into the Princes garret (he lives alone in a broken-
down tenement made especially for him.) The Prince found evidence of
the crime and the resulting breakdown kept him out of everyones hair for
two weeks. Regrettably it also resulted in several poems. The experiment
has not been repeated.

Religion

Any god may be worshipped, but prayers are allowed only to request from
a particular god those things the god is unable to give. From the Devil
pity, from the Buddha engagement, from Thor calm, from Zeus
chastity. Faith is encouraged so long as you are in the middle of losing it.

Holidays

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Weekend trips are laid on to Cythea, a black naked island in a stormy sea,
strewn with creaking gibbets, populated only by wasted and highly political
lesbians with a culture of forced nudity in all weathers.

Society

Casual conversation with friends must include some cursing or


disparagement of the Prince, he listens at doorways secretly hungering for
the amused condescension of the people. If the Prince hears you mocking
him, he screams, rolls on the ground clutching his head and staggers away
shaking and cursing you. Then he writes a poem about you. If the prince
doesnt hear you cursing him he leaves silently and you disappear the next
day.

Conversations begin and end with frightened cried of curse our worthless
Prince! and curse the rhymes!

Ancient men must bend at 90 degrees and crackle around in single file
tapped out in held canes cut only from lumps of the darkest wood. No
pine. No beech.

The blind are commanded to gawp and loll madly in the streets, regardless
of how they feel about the matter, though some have taken to exchanging
braille pocketbooks which they read secretly by fingertips whilst moaning
at the tapping of dancing skeletons they cannot see.
Young children are allowed out if they look suitably thin, ghastly and/or
starving-gamine. Average, plump children, the middle aged, the robustly
proportioned and those with good skin and bright eyes tend to get their
jobs done in the morning and mid-afternoon when the Prince of Carcasses
sleeps. Or on Tuesdays which he has banned as gauche and now ignores
as a matter of form. (Or simply expands Monday and Wednesday by 12
hours each to meet in the middle.)

Women by decree must be beautiful or old. Old women must be pitied and
wept over wherever they go. Grey locks and ragged hems caressed as
periapts of Age and Loss. But not actually helped in any physical way, for
instance, picked up off the ground, or given somewhere to live.

Social events are sometimes licensed if sufficiently symbolic of decay. For


this reason, ageing prostitutes in flaking greasepaint are in much demand,
bussed in en-mass in broken coaches drawn by pale and plaguy mares.
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They un-liven retirement parties and camouflage happy weddings with
broken decorations and pre-weathered paint that cracks on application to
the wall. Burghers hold covert barbecues on tomb-top roofs when the sun
peeps out from round a cloud.

Alcohol is encouraged but pluvial law says to drink at all you must drink at
least seven units in the first ten minutes or face arrest. Beyond that point
you are on your own. Regular drinking tests are administered. Taste is
ignored but impurities are added to guarantee particular kinds of hangover.
Drinks are named after the depressions and headaches they provoke.

Art and the Media

Portraits are allowed only if the subject is decapitated before they are
painted. Famous portraits are required for family tombs, though they can
take a while to complete.

Art is only of the dead.


Porn is only of the dead.
Porn is required reading.
Other art is optional.
Most of the newspaper is porn and you have to read it once a day.

Pluvial ID is a copy of todays paper and some questions about its


contents. This makes you a citizen.

Everyone is familiar with recent obituaries and editors try to sneak in


useful news under descriptions of the recent activities of the just-deceased.
For instance, this recent label to a picture of a headless corpse fucking a
starved, dead, naked pensioner.

..while attending the recently-built bridge across the lachrymose tributary,


Monsieur R- was decapitated by a falling stanchion from by what he
described, a few moments before its collapse, as

a really excellent piece of engineering!

The papers artist Mademoiselle G- states of the wound,

I couldnt have done better myself .


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The bridge is now closed and pedestrian traffic is asked to divert around
the Rue De Smiles or just throw yourself in the river. Curse the Prince.

Pluvians tend to look at your hands while they talk to you, in case they
need to recognise your pornographically-arranged corpse in tomorrows
paper.

A common Pluvial joke amongst familiars is I thought I saw your


thumbs in the paper! Sometimes an expression of happy surprise that you
are alive, meaning Its been too long. But also, sometimes a coded
criticism from an older relative for not visiting enough.

All Pluvial plays and fiction are comedies, all set in a better version of
Pluvial, a-

Babel of endless stairs, arcades


It was a palace multifold
Replete with pools and bright cascades
Falling in dull and burnished gold

In these fictions loving couples live happily ever after, caring families stick
together, decent Priests praise kind rational gods, wars are short and
glorious, cares are few and no crime goes unpunished under the blue and
golden sky. The Prince of Carcasses commands this because he wants his
subjects to dream of that perfect world. Every morning, when they wake
up from that dream, and remember who and where they really are, just for
one moment they understand how he feels every day.

Ganglia Moor
On the border between Hell, and Despair, is a glacier of poisoned coins
and frozen blood. The coins are all those ever used to bribe and to betray,
the frozen blood is that which fell from unsuspected wounds struck by
false friends. When bribery, corruption and betrayal end, the glacier will
melt and fade away

In the centre of the glacier of red and gold, is a shining island, made of
compressed knives, whose earth cuts unshod feet. The knives are all those
used by murderers traitors and thieves. The island is constantly carried
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away by the glacier of groaning poisoned gold and frozen blood, and
constantly it is renewed.

On this island is a city. The city of Ganglia Moor.

Many palaces are seen there, facaded in marble and ceramic brick.
Deceptions all, fronting warrens of black decay. Within; chained madmen
and foul-smelling cells, the doors banging wide. Without, are cold ice-
mists, and in the mists a watchful and unsleeping Secret Police.

Ganglia Moor is known to the rulers of Hell. Few go there, but sometimes
the souls of the betrayed are sent as payment to maintain dtente.

What Hell Knows

Ganglia Moor specialises in marginal cases of corruption, depression and


loss. When corrupt cops force a bag over the head of their partner, just
before stabbing them in the back, the city they see that night inside the
mirrors mist is Ganglia Moor. When liars and deceivers die in shame,
sometimes they come here. Suicides of a particular kind as well.

Ganglia Moor is ruled by a madman convinced of infinite conspiracies


against, within, and beyond. Deranged and obsessed by the endlessly
spiralling schemes that only he can sense and find, he has turned his city
into one vast ceaselessly self-policing counter-intelligence cell and
madhouse. Everyone informs upon, spies upon, imprisons and tortures,
everyone else. There is no trust but only paused contempt.

You will find the court of Ganglia Moor gathered, in a cellar somewhere,
around a vast machine of valves and wire. A Security Organ. There, you
will see Duke Blight Liken, his wife, Recto Lath-Liken, (half naked, poorly
fed and chained to a wall,) Doctor Damned Me-Hilt who built the thing,
but only repeats the following words;

he is the talisman

again and again and again.

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There you will also find Judge Comer Host-Jackles, taking notes on
information received from the machine, making a merriment of the
business, offering weak quips with grins.

Im here to see fair play, he often says.

The Organ is attended and operated by Lady Magno Vowel. Watching her
gloved fingers play across the keys, is Lady/Lord Iris He-Arc, foul
mouthed, low minded, dressed in yesterdays fashion and throwing out
coarse guffaws.

This Organ, (always being tested and refined) spits out regular reports on
treasons done, or about-to-be-done about the town. With each report
received, new arrests are made and new tortures planned.

Many monsters haunt the misty streets of Ganglia Moor. Well known are
the Fog Dogs, shaggy centripetal blue-eyed wolves that climb and writhe.
Also known, the Mist-Men, wrapped in vomited binding sheets.

The Anaemics, coal-eyed wastrels make up the citizenry, bureaucracy and


police.

Malefic Ashen Automita, gracile machines of stained unpolished brass,


moulded metal hoods over masks with downcast eyes and tragedy-mask
mouths that breath out continual flecks of just-warm ash that rapidly
cools. The eaters of evidence. Powered by the ghosts of fires.

The Caliphs Of Wire. Rarely seen behind the faraday-cage veils of their
antennae-palanquins. They are hauled about by Anaemic teams to perfect
listening posts. They gather intelligence and can hear the thoughts of any
creature that lies as it is lying. These double/signals fall in waves from the
world above and the movements of the Caliphs, if mapped, look like the
shifting of iron filings in a magnetic storm.

The Blue-Grey Chasm Cats create mile-deep metre-wide chasms as they


leap across your path. Then leap back, bringing your shattered body to the
surface for them to feast on.

The Icelings are corrupt children with spires and blades of broken ice
growing from their bones out through their skin. They make a tinkling as
they walk, a shattering as they run, and cannot be caught.
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The savage Ice-Elves live out on the glacier of coins and blood that oozes
round Ganglia Moor. Savage immortal hunters. Looking for something.
Never finding.

And that is all they know, in Hell, of Ganglia Moor.

But.

That.
Is not the truth.

Because nobody and nothing in Ganglia Moor is what it seems.

The Truth

Ganglia Moor is not a city of madness and despair. It is a city of spies.


And a spy-city.

In every corrupt precinct there is one policeman who refuses to be bribed.


In every dictatorship there is a judge that tells the truth. For every
thousand con-men there is one who does no harm. For every million
monsters there is one who turns away.

The number of these rarities is not large, but souls are eternal and they
build up over time. Brave and lonely watchmen, dying in the mud, shot
through the back, bagged and executed, murdered in their homes,
poisoned, drowned, betrayed.

All experts at seeming what they are not. Shards of inflexible honour,
carefully masked. Splinters in the systems of the vile. Collected here,
disguised, and trained.

Ganglia Moor is a Potemkin village of evil, it is a Pirate-City of justice and


an Underground-Railroad out of Hell.

The Ice-Elf barbarians out on the glaciers sides keep watch for lonely
souls, chased and seeking to cross. When searching patrols arrive, all thats
found is blood and an Elf with a barbarous grin.

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The Fog-Dogs are friendly and will secrete you in their coils to keep you
safe, the Mist-Men are Mist-Women, carefully wrapped and in disguise.

The Chasm-Cats hunt counter-spies, the Icelings interfere with the visiting
Nobility of Shame. Despair-bound creatures cannot see through the cold
cages of their icy blades.

The Caliphs of Wire are listening for calls for help. They lies they are
seeking are honourable words.

There are no children in the cellar.


I dont know where they went officer.
Of course I am loyal to the Empire.
I hate the slaves, burn them all.

They cannot bring help often, but they do.

Its presence on the borders of Despair gives Ganglia Moor occasional


access to anyone in a state of total despair. They are looking for a
particular kind and cause.

Very occasionally, for those at the final extremity, when there is absolutely
no hope left, the city will take the enormous risk of sending its grey
tendrils into reality, the glacier of blood and gold will unfold before those
lost, like a fever-dream of ultimate despair.

Then, Anaemics (in reality, souls of the cunning but honourable dead) will
sweep the victims off to secret vaults. The Ashen Automita will consume
any evidence. The city will disappear as quickly as it came, and if anyone
asks questions. It was just another suicide claimed.

Ganglia Moor puts itself at enormous risk every time it rescues people
from the material plane. Its only security is total obsessive secrecy. If
anyone found out, they would be easily destroyed.

But, that is the reason the city is there. They will not fail a trust.

The Nobility are not what they seem. They are the deepest undercover
souls. Experts at socialising with the courts of Hell and Despair. Capable
of fooling entities of godlike power. The longest, subtlest of cons. The
madness is an act and their true names are not known, but they have codes.
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Bill the King
Glove Woman
The Middle Man
Schoolmaster Jack

And Recto Lath-Liken, half naked and chained to a wall these thousand
years? Who knows? Perhaps a captured double agent of Hell, perhaps part
of an impossible millennia-long double bluff.

The Security Organ is exactly what it claims to be, its action is reversed.
The secret waves of the machine tease out invisibly through the air, with
the lightest of touches it fans the flames of suspicion, madness and rage
inside the minds of the Dukes of Hell and the Grey Court of Despair
turning them endlessly against themselves in Gordian counterplots, and
cripples the efficiency of the dammed.

Its known in Hell and in Despair that Ganglia Moor is badly run. That
souls go missing and are never seen again. But Lord Lath-Liken is insane.
And the city is small, and not our problem anyway. Leave it with the other
ones, across the way.

Three Rivers
The Virid River, or The River of Drowned Queens
The Virid is a big river, slower than a sleeping snake say some.

It's always hard to cross. At its origins, spewing from the karst of the Sifir,
the black cracked desert of the Caliphate of Holes, it rockets forth, crook-
necking its way through angular steep-sided canyons of unstable scree. The
stones slip-slide under the foot at forty-five degrees and though the jagging
of the canyon shifts each month, and tonnes of stone must fall into the
rocketing spume, the river never fills.

Even here the faint murk of its dark green water hazes up into a sun-
reflecting fog that blurs the daylight into splinters but lets through the light
of stars

For a thousand miles it runs, widens, deepens, heating up and slowing


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down. The dank intensifies. On summer days the river casts its smog-self
like a skin, or the green ghost of a snake tracking it from the sky.

At its mouth the snake is wide enough across that silty islands in its midst
have grown their own ecosystems which crash together in slow motion
over years as the flow deposits and picks up in unpredictable licks.

Some have been the base of micro-kingdoms.

Although these kingdoms do not go on very long, because the Virid


drowns all Queens that cross its banks.

You can still hear them there, moaning in the silt, and see the glimmering
glitter of their crowns and gems turning and tumbling in the tangling ooze.

Its bad to cross the river in the day. Even if the day is cold, it might
suddenly heat up and should the Virid's virid murk rise up it will shatter
the rays of the sun into kaleidoscopic fragments, sending prickles of
frustrating gleam networking back and forth, the river so slow by now its
impossible to tell which way it runs. You could be trapped for hours there
till the night, listening to the sad cries of the drowned queens from under
the water, hearing their tales of the kingdoms they once ruled, of their
great castles, great beauty, of their dynasties long passed.

The Queens don't come up above the surface of the water. Probably.
There is always the feeling that they could if they wished. Nobody dives
for the gems in the silt or for the tarnished crowns.

Sometimes the fishing people on the Virid's banks find a single gem inside
the belly of a fish or trapped in the claws of a crab. It is always always
thrown back in without delay, with apologies. Refusing to obey this rule is
one of the few things that can enrage these tribes In every other respect,
despite their differences in race and language, they are extremely egalitarian
people. There is no possibility of a King amongst them, and definitely not
a Queen. Not even a Homecoming Queen or a Harvest Queen.

They tend not to use nets. The fat flatfish with the wrinkled eyes and the
pearly crabs for which the river is known, all tangle and intermingle with
the bones of the drowned Queens and it is rude and frightening to disturb
them and to pull them up out of the silty beds in which they cannot sleep,
but only wait, looking at the shadows of the fishing boats on the surface
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of the water and waiting and whispering their tales.

For the same reason, lobster pots and eel traps above a certain size are
never used, a fisherman might return to their trap in the night and find a
Queen in it and that could be frightening and embarrassing.

Crossing at night is better, if the sky is clear. It's cold and the haze is low
and, for some reason, it does not blur starlight. Even the Queens are more
quiet, they whisper to the fishers of their lost loves and the great romances
they had before they were dead, and again they speak of their lost beauty.

There are a lot of Queens in the Virid, almost every dynasty in this
Uncertain World has lost one or more to its waters. It's not clear how this
happens since its always been called "The River of Drowned Queens" and
one would think they might avoid it, but circumstances tend to conspire;
pursuing armies or vengeful suitors or parents, act of madness, wild and
dangerous hubris, sometimes the drowned girl does not know she is a
Queen. Once a Princess crossed the Virid at midnight and never reached
the other side. Later it was discovered that her entire family had been killed
on that very same night thousands of miles away. As the only remaining
heir she had become a Queen in the middle of the river and it took her
then and dragged her down into its bright green heart.

It's always green in the centre of the Virid where the water is deep, tendrils
of veridian weed dance and curl in the murk beneath the keels of the
boats.

Despite the large number of Queens recorded to be lost, the river seems
almost over-full. There are a lot of Queens down there. Some suggest they
were washed out of the Sifir when the great temple fell. Others say the
Virid runs through many worlds and that all drowned Queens, wherever
they are sunk, wash inevitably into its waters.

Legend says that if one Queen ever crosses the Virid, or navigates it from
source to sea, the spell and curse upon it will be broken and the bones of
the drowned old Queens will be released and a mighty flood will wash
them all into Jukai bay, forming a shoal of bone, broken sceptres and
murky jewels.

A tempting and interesting idea to the rulers of Jukai, and the tribes of the
Melanic Moors, though both decry any belief in the legend.
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The Queens beneath the surface know it though and they cry out for the
shadow of that one who will come to touch the rivers banks.

She has not come yet.

The Or, or The Civil River


The largest and the longest of the three rivers that find their end in Jukai
Bay is the Or, or 'Civil River'

'Or' for its colour, which is gold, and 'Civil' for its Parliaments and laws.

An Empire once tamed the Or. No-one knows which one, the Or flows a
long, long way, through canyon country, through the Forest of Rhodopsin
with its purple leaves and prehistoric trees, through the Phyrrous Plains
and great ravines thereof, through the stormlands where the trees burn
every other year and the banks of the Or become sheets of red flame
reflecting from its golden sheen, through the Catastrophic Woods, dense
black tangles of hate-hardened wood where the grey leaves cover pin-dogs
in their multitudes, still unexplored, and beyond that, somewhere it
originates in the Radula Mountains, seat of the Snaegleborg, peerless,
heaven-piercing ever-receding, centrepoint and only ever-stable point in
this Uncertain World.

These lands held many Empires over time, the Phyrrous Plains are known
for their ruins and the legends of the Cities of the Plains and how they
warred against each other long ago. The Catastrophic Woods must hold
the source of some terrible event, no-one knows what, the Canyon of the
Sun is vast and the few who have survived its rapids claim they see ruined
cave-cities carved into its rock like black eyes.

It was likely the Aurulent Empire that tamed and organised the Or, it
seems like the kind of thing they would do and it's certainly the ghosts of
their tax inspectors that loom out of the water after mass lightning-strikes,
riding huge pale crabs, carrying silver lanterns and muttering to themselves
in Ancient Aurulent.

For the river has order. It floods and recedes on time each year, every year,
accurate to the day, expanding and contracting to exactly the same place
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each time. Its savage whirlpools are more regular than clocks, more fixed
than stars, its deadly sandbanks that suck down ships are all charted, as
firmly set as foundations, they never move. The Or is predictable, at least,
in those ways in which a river is usually not.

The fauna of the Or are organised. The river has no non-social species.
Even animals that would normally be non-social, or barely-social, like
Alligators or snails, either live in groups or congregate regularly.

Each group has a hierarchy, each hierarchy has a head, each species has a
parliament with local sub-councils. Somewhere there is a Senate of the Or
where the leaders of each species meet to somehow agree the laws of the
Or, somewhere, perhaps, there is a King.

The animals of the river are not necessarily any more intelligent than their
equivalents elsewhere and they do not necessarily do anything
fundamentally different than their equivalents elsewhere. The small brass
crabs like coins still behave generally like crabs, the black eels with golden
eyes still drift like policemen outside bars, the dark blue manatees still chew
the golden kelp, the saw-mouth dolphins still hunt with ultrasonic whines.
The purpose of an animal is to be an animal, but in the Or, this happens
on schedule and the schedule is fair. The water snails walk in lines, the fish
move in formation, predators chase their expected prey who flee in the
expected way, until an hour turns or a chase enters a protected zone, in
which case the chrome gharials simply turn away from the escaping fish.

When animals congregate they do not 'speak' in any comprehensible way.


They are certainly doing something but exactly what or how is hard to tell.
The heads of the parliaments may be intelligent, or not, the 'kings' of each
species may be intelligent, storybooks certainly say they are, or they may
not. No-one has ever confirmed encountering one.

Sometimes animals are found executed, forced out of the water to


suffocate in air, or be eaten by land animals, or by man. The places of
execution are well known and small villages of human beings sometimes
make their livelihoods by acting as terrestrial leviathans who consume the
criminals of the Civil River. The fishermen of the Or are few, and very
very careful. They say the river always takes back what it gives. Exactly.

Golden fish are their officials. These slim, rapid bright fish are sometimes
seen darting back and forth in the Or, to no particular pattern. They are
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never predated on by river-fauna, or even by man, local tribes and
groupings refuse to touch them.

The colour of the Or, a golden sheen that makes it look like a necklace
dropped on the velvet horizon when seen from the towers of Jukai at
dawn, comes from some unknown impurity which seeps into the river
somewhere above the stormlands and becomes more and more prevalent
as it works its way towards Jukai. (It's not gold, curious alchemists have
made exhaustive tests to look for that.) No-one can quite be certain what it
is but several of the animals of the Or have a somewhat-metallic sheen to
them of different kinds. Zenithal suggested what she called "a kind of
anti-gargantuan organism, as indiscernible as the sky yet upon the opposite
scale of size.

The water of the Or is slightly ferric and it summons lightning. Any storm
passing over the river which might possibly discharge a bolt will do so
directly into the water rather than onto the tops of nearby trees or
mountains. When a large storm passes, especially in the stormlands
upstream, tens, or even hundreds of lightning bolts can crash down into
the Or, making it look like a wall of bright light stretching across the
plains, upholding the dark pillars of the sky. Ships that trade on or explore
the river carry iron lightning rods on top of masts to deflect likely strikes.

Most of the creatures of the Or seem to have found some way to survive
these storms. But, after a significant storm an unusual event takes place.
Should it be night and should the air still be heavy with static, huge pale
crabs will idle out of the river and walk about on land. These crabs, (the
size of ponies) are ridden by the ghosts of tax inspectors of the Aurulent
Empire. (They wear the three-buttoned hats and signifying robes of those
bureaucrats.) These ghosts then wander about on their crabs holding silver
lanterns which give no visible light but which seem to define the limits of
their sight, muttering ancient aurlulent, peering at things and clicking the
mother-of-peal beads of their abacuses back and forth, they are followed
in the darkness by a train of black electrified eels with golden eyes who
move after them like a shadow, and of which they seem utterly unaware.

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The Perse, or Kaldr Hjarta river.
Perse for its colour though the water is clear, reflecting the grey-blue sky
beneath whose arch it runs.

Out beyond the Melanic the river has another name, the Kaldr. Called for
the place of its birth, the Kaldr Hjarta Mountains, or Mountains of the
Cold Heart. And the Mountains of the Cold Heart are called so for the
cold-hearted sinners of Dryhthelm, whose walls are watched by insectile
devils of ice, for the Kaldr Hjarta mountains are an outpost of Hell upon
this uncertain world.

But before Hell, the river.

It runs cold all the way to the moors, with a temperature a little cooler than
the air. Mist bands and bored whirlpools mark its margins where the waters
meet.

The Perse is neither haunted by unlikely mists, like the Virid, or tortured by
lightning and memories like the Or. Fat with life, it throngs with fish of
many kinds. Mega-krill feed on the fish and small sperm whales no bigger
than a big boy feed on the krill. The small sperm whales are hunted in their
turn by man for their marvellous oils, by the Orca that predate in deadly
packs, feared by all and by the Wreaca, the exiles, no fate more feared.

The bare, crone-haunted islands of the Perse are covered in freshwater


penguins packed in shadowy ranks calling like whippoorwills in the voices
of abandoned friends.

There are greater dangers still, for the Stone Men (who have sworn never
to work metal, though this does not prevent some of them
from using metal, including guns) drive their black bark canoes through the
river and its tributaries on missions of vengeance, honour, trade,
exploration or simply adventure. Tribal politics shift continually and it is
impossible for the traveller to predict how encountered tribes will act.

The Fell Metal tribes from the scree sides of the deep dark lakes that feed
into the Perse rarely come forth from their hearth halls on the mountain
tops, but when they do they ride in shallow-draft long boats, swift and
dangerous, with figureheads of galloping horses that seem to tread down
the oncoming waves and trample them into flecks of white.
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Only a mile beyond the Melanic are the walled wooden townships of the
distaff families of Jukai. Technically, legally, colonies and nascent outposts
of that city state. In effect travel through the Melanic is never predictable
or guaranteed and these fortress-markets effectively rule themselves.

The largest, right on the border of the river and the moors, is Vedet, built
of black wood with brass minarets and docks jutting into the flow, packed
with the canoes of the stone men, longboats of the fell metal tribes, rafts
of the swamp drunks, official Jukai exploration craft and the numerous
boats of fishermen, pirates, criminals, explorers and unaffiliated
adventurers. Here in Vedet all coagulate and mix, with just enough law to
keep the anarchy profitable, and just enough gunpowder and iron to beat
back the Wreaca from the forest, wild stone tribe attacks or anything
sinister coming out of the moors.

The redwood forest crowds close around these places, massively


overreaching their walls and their survival never seems certain. Further up
the river we find simple forts with palisades, logs for a dock and a handful
of bearded traders and trappers, half frozen and cracked with the cold, the
calling of the penguins and with fear of giants.

Beyond the palisades the trapper tales talk of Ent and Eoten, children of
those who challenged the gods in their pride and were brought low, and of
the terrible Thyrs, who are as to the Eoten as the Wreaca are to us. Here
the Castoroides live, fierce and wise, damning the shallow lakes and
tributaries with cyclopean works. Even one Castoroides skin can make a
hunter rich for a year but they are cunning and watchful and perhaps more
dangerous to man than man is dangerous to them. Should the Castoroides
choose to damn a tributary vital to one of the fort-townships, then open
warfare will be declared between giant beaver and mankind, in the deep
forest the powder speaks as armed groups of desperate mercenaries and
adventurers raid the dams of the gigantic beasts.

By this point no-one calls it the Perse, the river is the Kaldr, or simply 'the
river'.

As the redwoods fade and shrink the Kaldr passes into tundra and steppe
where the megafauna roam. Pony-riding stone tribes hunt Caribou,
Mammoth and wooly Rhinoceros. On the river itself the shadowy
penguins are challenged for dominance by fierce gigantic ducks and the
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crones of the low islands grow ever more watchful and mad.

At times the Caribou and Elk migrate across the Kalder en-masse,
sometimes herded and driven by the Stone Men. Orca pods observe,
working as teams to pull down the young or weak. Mammoth families
cross carefully, youngest held paddling at the centre of the group while
their parents flail at the circling predators, dashing the water into shattered
diamonds and sometimes hurling entire Orca bodily out of the water onto
the land where they are eaten by gigantic hawks.

Beyond the tundra lie the lake lands. Here the Kaldr zig-zags through old
glacier paths in a series of deep black steep scree-sided lakes. The small
sperm whales are plentiful here and breach and fountain, descending to the
unknown depths to battle the gigantic krill.

Up on the scree side, or hidden in the murky valleys between the hills, by
black tarns and moorlands, are the hearth halls of the fell metal tribes,
those who have chosen to work metal and put their trust in iron instead of
flesh. They sit brooding in their hidden follies, grim, honourable, bound in
the blue-grey silver of the fells and wearing fire-bright orange gems torn
from ancient tombs.

Those who are driven out from the fell metal tribes become the Wreaca,
the Exiles, strange and terrible, transformed by the night, maddened and
solitary, hating light and warmth. Always wandering. Always alone.

It is not always easy to tell a Wreaca, many still have the forms of the men
they once were, the only way to be sure is that the true Wreaca cannot sing
for they hate joy.

Beyond the lake land the Kaldr enters realms of legend, where no explorer
from Jukai has gone to and returned. All that is known is from the tales of
river traders, the dances of the Stone Men or the gnomic riddles of the fell
metal tribes.

They say that the foothills and slopes of the Kaldr Hjarta mountains are
home to a race of women, fierce and proud, who live without order,
knowing no law, and without men, knowing no love, who do not fear the
cold for they have replaced their souls with those of birds, who battle
against the yak men and monsters who come from above the ice line and
against the fell metal tribes, the Wreaca, Thyrs, the Megafauna, each other
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and whatever else they can find.

The barbarian women also trade in small amounts of cigarettes, opium and
other strange goods, brought, they claim, through the warrens of ancient
cities deep beneath the Kaldr Hjarta range. Passing under the ice line in the
still darkness, brought by smugglers from a distant land.

Above the ice line nothing mortal can survive, for the cold freezes the
very life in the blood. There vast glaciers of ice emerge like snakes, calving
endlessly into the springs of the Cold Heart river, keeping it cool,
sometimes holding devils like specks of black.

For somewhere far above the ice line is Dryhthelm, never seen by mortal
eyes but reported to be a metropolis of caves carved into broken ice where
the souls of the amoral dead sit like hermits, freezing, sleepless and
unforgiving.

Watching over them are insectile devils made of living cold, and this is
known by the devils found floating down the Kaldr, trapped in small
glaciers of blue-sheened ice, whispering secrets and promising revenge.

The ice-frozen devils, or 'Orcneas' are only rarely encountered, perhaps


once in several decades, and no-one can be certain how or why they come.
The devils themselves claim that this is the punishment in Dryhthelm for
mercy, that since devils cannot truly die, should one of them be found lax
in cruelty, or doing less harm than they could, they are sentenced to the ice,
frozen in a glacier and then slowly calved into the river, floating
downstream, held fast by the enormous cold generated by their own
unearthly flesh, until they reach the strange waters of Jukai and melt,
freeing the devil inside to return to Dryhthelm in the winking of an eye.

This may be true, or partly true, but it is well known that the Orcneas lie,
promising power and revenge to those slighted in return for souls, freezing
the heart with their words, casting spells and teaching dark magic. For as
long as the Orcneas passes down the river, all sane and intelligent peoples
ban all contact with it, only the Wreaca, the desperate, the penguins the
criminals and crones actively seek them out, silently attending in the night.

Table talk claims that one of the towers of Jukai has an Orcneas
imprisoned, held secretly in a cool room so that the ruling families may
question it.
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And there is a postal service between Jukai and Hell. For kings have cold
hearts and many of the mighty rulers who were once in the world are in
Dryhthelm now, and their descendants wish to speak with them, to
discover hidden knowledge and the names of assassins, to settle old debts
and confirm the inheritance of nations.

A letter given to a factor in Jukai will be passed to a trusted Swamp Drunk,


taken through the Melanic, handed to a relative in Vedet, given to a trader
or a Stone Tribe man, then taken up the Kaldr, handed to a fell metal
thane, taken by a hero to one of the barbarian women of the north, taken
by them to the ice line and handed by strange alliance to a yak man or
Thyrs and so brought to Dryhthelm. There, should the soul of the
recipient still exist and be sane, and actively desire to reply, they will scratch
words upon a slate in blood, this will be handed to a devil, then to a Thyrs
or yak-man, and so-on, all the way back to Jukai.

The turnaround for a communication of this type is one year minimum,


but five is more likely, and the replies are rarely what the sender wished to
hear. A quarter of Jukai is made up entirely of scholars, ambassadors,
distaff aristocratic lines, the deposed lines of great empires and other
interested parties, all waiting the long years for a reply to their letter to hell

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Two Dark Oceans

Eight Navigating Houses of Nox

The Navigating Houses of Nox are the will and the engine of the city of
the wind and the white flame.

They navigate by nightmare.

No-one knows exactly what the sleepers are, if they are all of one species,
or utterly different beings who only happen to all sleep beneath the
Nightmare Sea. No-one even knows if they are truly alive. But the sleepers
dream pained and anguished alien dreams, and so powerful are their minds
that these deep dreams leak into the thoughts of all who sleep upon, or
near, the Nightmare Sea.

Each person has utterly different dreams as their minds process the strange
thoughts of the Sleepers, yet, with practice, certain commonalities of
nightmare can be perceived.

The Navigating houses of Nox each specialise in observing and


understanding the nightmares born from a particular sleeper. By sailing the
nightmare sea and measuring the substance of their awful dreams, a
navigator can sense their relative distance from a particular sleeper. Since
the sleepers are vast and rarely move, discovering your exact distance
between two sleeping minds gives you a heading, discovering the distance
between three gives a position.

And so the Nightmare Sea can be reliably sailed. And so Nox rules the
Nightmare Sea. And so the Navigating Houses rule in Nox. And the
Navigating Houses are all mad.

The navigators of Nox must observe, remember and analyse their


nightmares every night. They must dive into the horrors prompted by
contact with an alien mind and become familiar enough with its inner
nature that even the most surreal distortions can be easily comprehended.
They must become experts in an unknowable horror.

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They more expert a navigator becomes, they closer they get to the coveted
position of Navarch, the ruler of their house. The Navarchs of the eight
great houses of Nox form the Navigating council and, though there is
technically a government in Nox, it is a wheel in their hands. The masked
Navarchs rule the city and the sea.

1. House I-Other

Sleeper - Old Not-To-Be-Here

Mask - A long cone head. Huge circular eyes with black vertical pupils
leading from edge to edge. a black rhomboid straight-edged mouth and
two nose slits.

Speech & Manner - The younger members of this house bring their
Navarch by force and if not compelled they may run away. They are clearly
in pain, bewildered by horror.

The Navarch denies any responsibility yet pushes for resolution. Intolerant
of vagueness, they commit to nothing. Judges all from a position of
assumed difference. Always 'you' and 'they', never 'we' or 'us'. Gives
opinions like an animal being forced to comment on its trap.

Madness - A knot of pain at the heart of the world. Someone, something


that should not be here. The pain it spreads is the pain of a foiled escape.
The hatred that it spills is the hatred of an animal for the trap in which it is
caught and cannot fully comprehend.

2. House World-Eye

Sleeper - Lord Panopticon or 'The Comprehending One'

Mask - A featureless white sphere except for two horizontal black lines for
the eyes.

Speech & Manner - The Navarch has a haranguing, lawyerly manner.


They push for details and perfect recollection, assume hidden meanings
and secret intent. They become angry and afraid when their assumptions
fail. They always assume their knowledge is correct and will predict the
nature of events way outside their experience based on the slightest
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fragment. When wrong they fall apart yet will rapidly re-build their world
view based on tiny pieces of interacting meaning, with no apparent
memory of the collapse.

Madness - A crystal of abstraction that wishes to encode the world in full


but is revolted by its touch. A slow madness, the illusion of
comprehension and a reasoned perfection like a mirror webbed with
hairline cracks where darkness grows. A darkness whose presence cannot
be directly observed yet which yawns ever wider till the reflected splinters
of that perfect world collapse.

3. House Blood-Joy

Sleeper - The Tailor of Flesh

Mask - Turquoise and squareish. A single round red eye rimmed with gold
and a flat black line for an expressionless mouth.

Speech & Manner - The Navarch makes self-righteous accusations and


claims of vast conspiracy. They posture and brave the assumed secret
threat. They will physically attack with joy, yet always claim and believe that
they were surrounded and had no choice.

Madness - A divine redemptive fire. A final last stand against the


oncoming dark. The violence which renews. Joy with each swing, a horrid
truth revealed and expunged with trauma to the flesh. The friend throws
away their mask to show the monster underneath. All becomes clear. Mask
after mask after mask, each beneath the other endlessly.

4. House Reed-Red

Sleeper - Lord Hears-All

Mask - A pale hemisphere, three pupilless ellipses of red glass for eyes.
Drawn-back lids, arranged in a triangle. The nose-mouth is two short
parallel black lines.

Speech & Manner - This Navarch listens very closely and demands the
source of any information relating to them. They race ahead of the
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conversation and pre-empt any possible detail that might be relevant to
their affairs. They deny all fear. They deny that they know anything but
wish to know what *you* know.

Madness - Fear. Fear of the things. Fear of them listening. Listening to


thoughts. Fear of being known by invasive things. To know the thing
whose thoughts you hear fears you hearing them, and yet its dream is so
strong that you are consumed with the fear of your own listening. Dashed
back and forth by alternating tides of surveillance-voyeur power and a
simultaneous dread that something observes you. Joyous superiority over
the invisible subject and secret terror of the invisible eye.

5. House Shadowglass

Sleeper - The Emperor Of Glass

Mask - Like a brown-glass welding mask with a single horizontal band of


green where the eyes would be.

Speech & Manner - The Navarchs hands are bound, if they are released
before they speak they will compulsively strangle themselves to death.
Before speaking the Navarch seems like a whining shuffling, crying bestial
lunatic. They speak rarely and will do so only after taking life. When they
do they are a magnificent and persuasive orator who can read and
synthesize the desires of emotions of the audience into a noble-seeming
goal. They will usually carry the vote.

Madness - The consuming certainty of a self-directed death. The


otherness on the far side of despair. The paper world, the glass-shadowed
world, the ease and quiet mundanity of harm. The beauty and correctness
of a wound. They will kill everything if they can.

6. House Hearts-Ease

Sleeper - King-Queen I-am-not-me

Mask - A wide brass oval, small insectoid mouth. Huge circular eyes so
large they almost meet in the centre and are wider than the mask. The rims

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are riveted and the eyelids are almost-totally closed, leaving a thin yellow
slit running across. This mask is over-detailed and ornate.

Speech & Manner - This Navarch tries idiotic trickery when there is no
need to do so. They ingratiate themselves feebly and hunger for any
confirmation of self. They are like an actor paid to pretend to be them.

Madness - Dissolution. Loss of memory, loss of self. The awful sense of


something slipping away, of knowing that something was there. That there
are gaps in yourself. You are know who you are. You do not fit into your
life. You do not fit into your being. Something has changed, the mind does
not understand.

7. House Eats-Wounds

Sleeper - The Stable Gentleman or 'Our Friend'

Mask - Greenish skull-dome with round eye coverings intersecting it like


spectacles with thick gold rims and green eyes. Pale, tapering squared-off
chin, drawn cheeks, starved slit mouth and nose.

Speech & Manner - This Navarch is revolted by and yet drawn towards
its own actions. They resist any changes that come from themself. They are
in two minds and two voices, conversing and disagreeing with an unheard
inner voice. The inner voice becomes the outer, then they swap again, and
again and again.

Madness - The consuming and yet half-consumed self. The sense of


being half eaten by something and wanting to be consumed. to be
absorbed, translated, made other. To think this process normal and
reasonable and yet persuaded. Not to know which is valid, which is a
wound of the other. Which is cursed or a curse.

8. House Clearwater

Sleeper - The Pure Philosophy

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Mask - Blue-black faceless cylinder like a stove-pipe hat or an inquisition
mask. Narrowing a little at the top into a kind of rim. the surface runs
directly into a covering that drapes down over the chest and back.

Speech & Manner - This Navarch is adoring, romantic and forward. They
are passionate and poetic in their descriptions of beauty. They are
brilliantly creative and compelling in their body horror and racial loathing.

Madness - Guilty desire. A deep and sensual passion for what you loath.
To adore what disgusts you and be disgusted by that adoration. The
rapture of loathing. The deep deep hunger to destroy and possess.

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Mariners Song of the Nightmare Sea

1. Though islands of compounded bone are well know to exist in the


aptly-named Bone Beach Sea , which lies above and feeds into the
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Nightmare Sea there are similar ossuary archipelagos in lesser numbers in
the Nightmare Sea.

2. No records available speak of islands of carved Iron, however, records,


even before the fall of Nox, were fragmentary as different Navigating
Houses commonly hoarded relevant or useful information.
3. The stars of the Nightmare Sea of course refer to predictable and
familiar networks of bioluminescent phytoplankton which mariners
regarded in a way not dissimilar to our celestial lights. No source from the
Nightmare Sea is recorded as having ever seen our stars. Several sources
suggest or infer possible communication with these networks, although
this may be poetic license.

4. Iron Eye tribes, known for partial or total replacement of their eyes with
iron orbs and therefore spoken of as being able to perceive what we would
describe as magnetic waves. A useful ability in the near-lightless
environment of the Nightmare Sea.

5. Dholes have always been thought to be an eastern phenomena, though


correspondence with Eki Ulale of the Yellow City does confirm that in
some local folklore Dholes are thought to enjoy the music of insect bards.
What an insect bard actually is was not stated in their correspondence.

6. No knowledge exists of larval devils though the church does report


several forms of Infernal being with insectoid features and if that Infernal
Realm does border with any mortal ocean, the Nightmare Sea is a not-
unreasonable possibility.

7. Modular multi-hulled ships are the common form of transport on the


Nightmare Sea. Able to be re-configured in order to handle the highly
variable environment conditions. Seven bells probably refers to the
reported practice of each hull carrying a differently-toned bell, as the ships
hulls move through a swell in sequence the bells sound and the music of
the bells can be read by an experience captain or navigator to tell them
about the nature of the local ocean and their possible location.

8. No mention is made in any other source of a ships lines tuned to


produce certain sounds, although it does seem a likely method of a
Nightmare Sea mariner. Surely though the lines would sound out wind
conditions ?

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9. The cultures of the Nightmare Sea do have some distant awareness of
the existence of our upper world. Popular song and fable regard our gales
and weather as poisoned in some way.

10. Extremely long linear storms are reported in the phreatic-labyrinth


parts of the Nightmare Sea.

11. Not the only reference to moonlight or a moon-lamp in the recovered


literature, this is the only reference to burning souls. Exactly what a
moon lamp is, how it works and what the concept of moon even means
to these cultures is unclear.

12. Metallic-derived construction materials are common in the


environment and actually cheaper than wood.

13. Crystal anchors, another apparently-poetic construct that is in fact


simply a description of a common technology.

14. The dreaming captain armed with claws, perhaps the strangest
reference in the whole poem. The dreaming may refer to the navigating
methods of Nox, the claws? I have no idea. Perhaps some kind of Bagh
Naka? A symbol of authority?

15. Of Nox, of course, you already know. Primary city of the Nightmare
Sea and likely origin culture of the poem. (As I have stated before, I
do not think this is an original piece of folk culture or sailors song but
rather a creation of the educated bourgeoisie that mimics some of its
forms. The rhythmic and rhyming inconsistency and the slipped lines
strongly suggest a different origin.)

16. There are some indications of an alternate global awareness from the
Nightmare Sea cultures with self-derived poles quite different to ours.

17. I think the silent locks in this case to be simply a social metaphor
rather than your suspected canal system but I am open to persuasion.
The Sea of Shadows
It is a black phantasmal shore where no sun will ever rise and the stars are
bright and stable. They do not glimmer but they wait.

There is another world in the sky and that world is vast. A blue-white
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globe of cloud and storms and though the sun never comes, the blue-
white gas giant in the sky still shines in its reflected light. It is brighter than
moonlight over the land, but not too bright.

There are black cliffs there, and a beach of cracked black stone. A forest
on the shore where the wind is heard. Quiet, moving slowly amidst the
boughs. A river and a slender bridge of dark wood over the river.

White shells moving dangerously amidst the trees. Huge slow hermit crabs
clash mournfully on the silent sand

The tower where I live is secure, the sea smashes against it. Solid stone. It
is safe in the tower, there are lamps of blue-white flame, like the world in
the sky, mirrors hold reflected stars and there are tame luminescent squid.
The sea is dark, but lit by trails and waves of light. A phosphorescent sea
of dreams. Warm saline water sinks down and forms currents and river
under the fresh. The upper water is cold Atlantic-black.

Beneath is blood-warm water and sink holes full of strands of glowing


light. The paths of the cephalopods make light under the waves. A
labyrinth in the warm unfolding dark, like veins of time.

Divers risk the freezing water and lee shore to dive through the cold
uppers and fish the squid of the warm, light saline deeps. The Deep Dawn.
If they evade the storms and the many dangers, I hear them speaking as
they pass back beneath my slender bridge.

Sometimes there are scrapes and scars where one of the sea-leviathan has
dived down into the warm salt water in search of prey and the lights and
warm water have scattered, they heal quickly and return to their proper
place.
The storms on that sea are higher than any storm seen on earth. The
atmosphere has different layers and the cumulo-nimbus seem not like
squat piles, but like slow towers advancing over the dark sea. The storms
are towers reaching to the stars. If the storms here and on that blue-white
world that takes up half the sky in its rising, align then lightning can reach
between the worlds

And under the dark and the cold of the ocean are the strands and mazes
of light made by the squid and plankton in the slow warm rivers that run
undisturbed under the black storm-wracked sea.
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A Plane of Fire
Fire is change and the Plane of Fire is a halo of violent exchange between
the other planes, rendering earth into magma and water into air, where
time fades into distance and distance into time.

Seen from inside, it is a stable maze and the other planes flicker in and out
of being, shifting constantly, real only as they burn or are the products of
burning. From within it is a still and constant, though labyrinthine, layer to
an ever changing cosmos, the roots of which are every fuel, every burning
tree, every candle flame, every star, supporting ghostlike realities that rise
up out of it like dark arches, tendrils of iron and soot.

An aleph of fire, of every fire that has ever been and ever will be, citadels
of star fields spread like labyrinths, burning every colour of the star from
its birth to its long, slow death, radial cities, bright and white and pure at
the centre and yellow and fine a layer out and then the long low fields of
infra-red that represent the dying of the star.

Some bounded by blue-white neutron maquis, the long gusting plasmic


seas of a supernova or a fierce city wall of cherenkov radiation mixed with
interstellar black, the sign of an eventual black hole.

The cities are like mazes, founded on ultra-dense materials and are one of
the few stable places in the plane of fire. Out on their borders is the
darkening maze, the place with no foundations where your footing can fall
away at any time, you can disappear down into the dark beneath, never
seen again.

But out there are small archipelagos of fire, the fires of worlds.

Most are blue-white jagged labyrinths made from every bolt of lighting in
a cycling storm, all seen as one, wrapped around the low domes of the red
tectonic mazes reaching down into the plane of earth.

But some have life. Living worlds have living fires, wild forest fires of
wood and air, the fires of burning plains and sometimes burning cities,
strange and unearthly places to the dwellers of the Plane of Fire for their
foundations are truly cites, like those of the stars, yet made of fuel. The
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burning products of culture and thought are places of strange fascination
to the beings of fire, signs of life and intelligence of an alien and
impossible kind, fey citadels appearing in the wilderness.

And within them, burning people, real only for a moment on the Plane of
Fire, coughing out brief prophecies in unknown tongues, then
disappearing like ghosts, spiralling invisible into the carbon archways that
bar the gateways to the plane of Air.

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Encounters
The Prince of Carcasses
Loathsome, tiresome, heroic only in the smallness of his self-awareness,
the Prince of Carcasses throws himself down in the muddy soil next to a
tomb, bounces off the marble top and lies writhing, undulating like a
snake, gripping the cold sides and pushing his head backwards into the
mud.

He is weeping a womans name. Dull-faced footmen stumble forward


holding copper tanks of rocks and rainwater.

Oh the thunder! cries the Prince black consuming horror of endless


night!

On cue three footmen ring the largest cauldron, hoist it up and shake it
back and forth. The rolling rocks counterfeit the sound of storms.

A second crew holds up a huge black velvet circular shade on dull brass
poles, designed specifically to blot out the sun. They place the Prince of
Carcasses in the centre of his carefully ordered blot. A third stands by the
moaning man as he crawls, he holds out an iron sieve on a pole and
delicately shakes cold rainwater over the princes weeping face.

Oh monstrous ice-hearted woman with a daemons eye! cries the Prince.


He waves and makes a writing sign. A servant sighs. Paper is brought. A
pen. Another woman will die soon.

The Prince of Carcasses is searching for a woman who can appreciate the
grey churning depths of his ennui and the dark silent tragedy of his fallen
soul. This will never happen. The Prince of Carcasses is a snivelling
privileged little shit who happens to have a magical talent.

The Prince loves women. He doesnt really pay much attention to what
they do or why they do it or what they say, or what that means, or how
they act when not around him. But he loves them. He is hungry for them

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and drawn to them. They pin him with arrows of burning desire. He
shakes and shivers in their wake. Turned ankles corkscrew his heart.

When the prince can no longer hold back the red gurgling of his
onrushing love, he writes a poem. The woman becomes immortal. Her
body dies.

No-one knows what the women involved think of this as he steals their
voice at the same time. They are silent forever.

Depending on how the prince felt about them, the women become
different kinds of undead. Those he watched and worshipped from afar
usually transform into pearly floating ghosts and beautiful wraiths. Those
he was sexually obsessed with slowly rot. He watches as their naked flesh
decays, knowing no-one can ever comprehend the storm of emotion in his
poets soul. Who knows the poets spleen!

The Prince of Carcasses has had all the buildings in his city replaced with
graves. All the homes are buried or disguised as statues and tombs. He has
taken the tops off drains the make the gurgling resonate and commanded
greyness and continual rain. This has had no effect.

He has replaced all forms of entertainment with games of solitaire played


with incomplete packs of cards in empty wood-panelled rooms. You can
also listen to music, so long as it seeps out of a building several doors
down. He also advises you to stare at the sky when it is blank.

He likes cats and is kind to them, possibly recognising the only other form
of life as self-centred and indifferent as himself.

The Prince always hungers for witty conversation. His own. He does,
however, need someone to talk at. If you visit with the prince he will not
listen to you. When you are gone he will compose satirical verse about
your stupidity and cloddish indifference, it will be believed. He is a genius
after all.

Despite his tendencies, women often still attend the prince. He pays well,
the city is poor and there are no jobs. No-one destroys the poems. They
are too beautiful. He publishes them. Poetry is the cities remaining export.

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The Sorrows of The Thane of Coates (6d6)
I remember once,
1. My father standing watch, dawn-light cradling his burnished mail, the
fingers of night slipping through his cloak.
2. My mother sounding words of ancient tales, cutting letters in the earth
before my eyes, holding back the secret ending till I learnt the shapes.
3. My brother harrying me late into a winter night with carved opponents
on a board of games.
4. My kin, close, each name a common breath, each action tied as one.
5. The feuding of my people and the hunt, first strike, (it was not mine for
never was I bladed, of tongue or of deed,) but first blood and last, often
enough I made.
6. The faces of my people and few else, a world walled with features
known, without a foreign touch for good or ill.

But then
1. Our land woven in blood, hip deep, trapped as we were between
opposing kings, vile and honourless each.
2. Those lords of all who made of the earth a trying-ground for pain,
knew fear, as works they made against the distant weak were turned upon
the makers to inflame; war against life and time, without reason or limiting
clime.
3. The gripping of the harrow-man, starvation. Wasted figures turned
forth from every home. The steading emptied, corpses walking, dead
feasting on the dead.
4. Those opposing war (it was not ours) made of us a sacrificial claim.
Breaking their opponents by marching through our lands, a swathe of
burning homes cut to the sea.
5. It was in those times that man was a wolf to man and kings hawks to
their preyed-upon thanes. A war of all, against all, and only those without
hope to prevail.
6. Fire came then, on midnight wings that folded in the dark above a
thousand homes. Then ruin, blasted ash and greyness, burnt fingers
crawling forth from hidden coves.

It was no chance that brought this thing to be.


1. I have found it scribed on hidden scrolls, dated, notarised and
confirmed, each name attended and each deed planned out.
2. See now, the wounds within our people itch and shiver still, many
current shames and secret debts date from this time and it is not forgotten.
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3. Harms done from on high, with seals and heralds making formal note,
often are not spoke of. Hurts done by the strong are left ignored, for fear
of future wrong to come.
4. Though this was done uncounted winter suns beyond the memory of
any here, its legacy lives on in thought and deed, only look upon the
sorrows of my people to behold.
5. Much gold is found in fire, and harm upon those without strength to
fight, and gold is as immortal as the soul, yet ascends clearly and cleanly
where a murdering soul would fail, gaze upon the traces of the gold to find
the crime.
6. Laws are but the speech of kings, are harms done by a legal hand
without accusing stain? Are deaths from an accusing judge not worthy of
revenge?

Now I ask of you


1. Report this crime, publically with evidence grave. And this report must
go in full, to those descended of the accused.
2. Seek out hidden relics of this truth. Turn over stones, confirm with
once-hidden testament and evidence the truth of this forgotten horror,
amend the record once and for all.
3. Go now to the city of these monsters, in a fane, sacred to them, they
keep a dark memento of their acts. A trophy, sacred to them yet held
lightly. Take it from them secretly and bring it here to me.
4. Find the current ruler of those named, or the assembly from whence
they take their word. State before them the unvarnished truth of what was
done. Persuade them utterly, even if it be against the memory of their kin.
5. There is one known to me, a truth-speaker, who has suffered much
under the blows and wounds of those without honour and faith. Go now
and defend them in that land. Whatever the cost to yourself.
6. Hold this truth outright, freely in the sight of men. Hold to it, no matter
the opposition or the pain. Whatever forces are brought against you, do
not quail, but state publicly and without shame the truth.

I tell myself
1. If wrongs are made to serve, and hate must be constructed by decided-
act, may not these same wrongs be demolished as were made, by men and
time?
2. Nothing has been done to me and mine or suffered here that those who
wrought it failed to feel themselves. Harms have passed like arrow-shafts
in air, landing whence they may, none have dodged the barb entire.

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3. Even have I seen joys and sorrows piled upon themselves and
intermixed like birds escaped in flight. Is my certainty exact? Or product
of my lagging in the flock?
4. Many makings and unweavings have passed in the years since my youth.
The Norns run wild with their thread and it seem the whole earth changed.
To the good? Perhaps.
5. My own seed grow, uncomprehending of the crimes that shaped their
birth, is this not hope? My sons seek out no grave-site on my word and the
gallows arms wave weakly, catching air.
6. Over the uncounted passage of years, can vileness and deception out-
last truth? Or must the harder stone remain, skinned of unreason by water
of years and the cutting ice of time?

Oh, but I am a fool


1. When will the sun rise on a kingless day? When will power not serve
itself ? When will crowns not bend together in secretive council, excusing
indignities done to those below? That day is endless night, It will not
come!
2. Man is a beast, his words are exhalations from a swelling corpse, his
promises are paper in a fire, his thoughts are ants upon a rotting page. His
laws are lies. Ever was it thus and so shall be.
3. The young plough only a fools acre of thought, knowing nothing of the
past and caring less. All that we are shall pass unseen into the dirt, a worm
divided by the plough, lost even to itself!
4. Harm circles like the racing wheel of a mill, levering upon itself. It feeds
like fire that needs no fuel, supplying all it needs from what it takes. There
is no end to harm or hurt.
5. What judge has ever come without a sword? What justice has been taken
in this world without the threat of life behind the words? It is a gift
ungiven, only theft and murder see it done, and they are crimes themselves
that must be judged again.
6. Will the hearth-lords burn the thatch of homes? Will the ring-giver cut
fingers from his hand? Will bards fall silent at will? The maiden mask
herself or scorch her hair? Those who know sweetness in this life never
give it up, regardless of its provenance or painful distant birth.

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Doppelgngers (7d7)
Looks Like
1. That English teacher you had that really got you.
2. Your Father the first time you saw him fail.
3. The popular kid in class the first time they included you.
4. The girl you thought would be your girlfriend who then moved.
5. The cop that took you home when you got lost.
6. The smart-ass sitcom best friend you always thought was just like you.
7. The doctor that saved your mum.

They say
1. They finally noticed that thing you did, they are sorry they didnt before.
2. They know what youve been through and think you handled it well.
3. They were just thinking of you and decided to call.
4. They only just understood what you were talking about that time and it
struck home.
5. It turned out you were right all along.
6. There was no one else they could talk to about something this
important.
7. They realised they were that one that let you down.

So
1. You talk for a long time on all the things that make you sad.
2. You mention the things youre scared to tell your wife.
3. You explain how it never felt right, they understand.
4. They help you understand where things went wrong.
5. You confess about the thing, and cry.
6. You give them the secret ambition you never mention to others.
7. You admit the invisible distrust of one you love.

But slowly you sense


1. Some kind of second meaning in their words.
2. Unlikely coughs that sound like strangled laughs.
3. Their eyes on yours when yours are somewhere else.
4. A vagueness in their relation of events.
5. That the pauses before they speak are becoming uncomfortably long 1.
6. Their gaze flicks to an unseen audience.
7. Their eyes dont smile when they do, and do when they should not.

And then
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1. They look you in the eye and slowly dribble bloody phlegm.
2. They stand behind you, grab your hands and giggle hysterically into your
neck.
3. They bite you, draw blood breathing hard and dont let go.
4. They kick you savagely in the back of the knee.
5. They throw the contents of your pockets in the street.
6. They grab your lower lip in their fist and shake.
7. They pull a clump of hair right out of your head.

And you can do nothing because


1. You told them everything, even the secrets.
2. There is no-one you know here and people look at you like you are
dead.
3. Fighting would mean admitting it is real.
4. The authorities told you not to call again.
5. Its all coming back and you are there on the floor in the rain again.
6. They know about you and others know as well.
7. You suddenly realise you can die right now.

Finally
1. They beat you bloody, laughing out the things you said.
2. They choke you to the ground, as you black out you see your own face
smile.
3. They become someone weaker and smaller than you, and cry out for
help. Faces turn.
4. They say they will return, and disappear.
5. They double you and start screaming as they point.
6. They knife you and ease your body to the ground, whispering your
address.
7. They grab hold of you screaming out your name, claiming terrible
things.
(1Thisparticular entry added by Neil W, after he pointed out that I missed
one from this section.)

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Snail Knights (1d20, 3d10
Many are the tales of the Knights Of The Snail, their Slow Quests and
Fates-Delayed, (for fate comes not quickly to a Snail-Knight, and that by
strange and turning paths).

Oft deluded, always honourable (except for Sir Gorget Vile), endlessly
turning in their slow spiralling search. For it is said that a Snail Knight will
always start their quest as far from its object as can be, and may never
approach it head-on, but only by paths oblique, yet growing slowly closer
all the time, and it is said that they will always find the centre of their
search, no matter how weird and distant it is. Great is the courage of the
Snail-Chevallier, great their legends, great the names of those who sit
around the Table-Whorled and nobly serve the Cochlear Throne.

Their Names (d20):


1. Sir Rime Grotesque.
2. Sir Tumble-The-Tin Perchance.
3. Sir Bird Spiralling.
4. Sir Chesslike Hand.
5. Sir Babbling of Bromborough.
6. Sir Bedlam Frail of the Frail-Hearts.
7. Sir Twine Devise.
8. Sir Vortex Frail of the Frail-Hearts-Urge.
9. Sir Duno Chrime.
10. Squire Violet Chrime . (In truth, Lady Pendulum Chrime in disguise as
a man).
11. Sir Furnace of Furness.
12. Sir Max Bassoon.
13. Sir Tangling Chase.
14. Sir Whirl, of Whirl-End!
15. Sir Latinate Verb-Cortex, of the Curve-Cortex. (In truth, Ham Floret,
commoner in disguise).
16. Sir Lightly Gloom.
17. Sir Gorget Vile. (The Black Snail Knight)
18. Sir Lucent Void, of the Kensington-Voids.
19. Sir Sextant Wrought, the Permanently Lost.
20. Sir Coagulate Fast, the Knight of the Mind.

Many are the quests of the Snail Knights and many strange things are the
objects of their Slow Oaths (or 'Sloaths' as a Snail Knight might say: "by
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my Sloath!)

Their Sloaths, or, what they seek (d10):


1. The Bubbles Of Despair.
2. The Gambolling Brand, or 'Sword Of Springs Shade'. a blade which can
restore the lost season which once lay between Summer and Spring.
3. To defeat the Knight Chromatic, who holds the Night Sky Black, and
thereby restore it to its multi-coloured state.
4. To find the 5th corner of the world.
5. To battle the Vowels and free the hidden consonant from its
imprisonment behind the tongue. (A, E, I, O and U must be fought, and
perhaps as well the traitor 'Y'.)
6. To win the Tears of Time and undo death for lovers everywhere.
7. To Wake the Lady Sorrow from her Sad Slow Dream and thereby mend
all hearts.
8. To Prise the Virtuous Pine!
9. To Unknot the Seven Stygial Riddles of the Leviathan Mind.
10. To seek and serve the Princely Soul, hidden somewhere in a Goat.

Their Arms(d10):
1. The Lance-Curlicue, which, on striking true, corkscrews around its
target, wrapping them securely in a spiral of steel.
2. The Shield of Ooms, whose bearer shall know neither fear, despair,
despite, nor direction or discontent, who shall never know where they are
going, yet always arrive, who can be neither lost nor found.
3. The Briar-Braddock Blade, which, when plunged point first into the
earth, brings forth an acre of inconvenient dense bushland.
4. The Salt-Shaker Mace (curse'd tool of Gorget Vile), which casts about it
a terrible withering with each blow, turning the grass to ash, the trees to
sandpaper and shrivelling the feet of snails.
5. The Sabre Noit-Seuq the querying wield, those wounded by this sabre-
weird must answer well or it shall rebound upon them with redoubling
force.
6. Snickety-Limb, the famed Paraplegia Sword which grows deadlier the
more limbs its target has. Destined to be swallowed by a snake.
7. The Armour-Incomprehensible, emblazoned with unreadable words
that paralyze the mind when seen.
8. The Iron Bream. A mace in the shape of a gigantic fish, wielded by its
tail, it hangs limply yet strikes with incomprehensible force, as if the weight
of many maces struck at once.
9. The Bow Geometrical, which fires at right-angles or curves round
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corners, yet which never makes and irregular line.
10. The Helm Of Dreams, whose wearer shares the dreams of whomever
means them harm.

And famous also are the terrible delusions of the Knights Of Snails, for all
of them are mad mad mad.

The Madness of this Knight (d10):


1. Believes that they are made of Glass.
2. Adores the Moon.
3. Thinks big things are Small and Small ones Huge.
4. Can never speak the truth or entirely lie.
5. Believes Their Own Reflection Is the King.
6. Does not comprehend the difference between a depiction of a thing or
the thing itself, believes self trapped inside a world of shifting visions.
7. Communicates in song and thinks the things in songs are always real
reports.
8. Fears life not death, melancholic when safe, cheery when the chips are
down.
9. Feverishly writes conspiratorial letters describing secret fears, abandons
them in holes and the crooks of trees, fears then banished, but may return
if the letters are retrieved.
10. Believes they are an aging scholar only pretending as a Knight.

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Science Fiction

The Omnistructure in Decay


An Omnistructure because it is not just a structure filling reality, but a
structure that is reality. A reality that can only exist as structure, in the same
way that ours is expressed as space and form.

Here are worlds the size of Nebulae, grown, not in tight massed spheres
and gravity wells, but like ferns or fractal fungi infiltrating a mass. Storm-
wrapped tendril worlds with neutronium cores. Worlds as slender as
mycelium, all linked, receiving their light from the transient civilisation of
intelligent nomadic suns. Primary trunks of world with surfaces like gas
giants and storms as large as small galaxies. Entire world-equivalent
biospheres spending their existence transiting and slowly evolving.
Sometimes running into each other, resulting in titanic conflicts and
strange syntheses.

Gravatically balanced structures of form. Vast tendrils of world.

Some worlds with hollow cores like old trees, some wormed within by
passages and cells, some carrying lightless life inside. Some oceanic, like
branches of water. Some carrying vast globular oceans at their tips.
Sometimes these oceans have frozen surfaces and pressure-ice cores.
Sometimes they break free and drift, are caught and smeared through the
Lagrange zones causing disaster and opportunity.

Sadly, all the world curls have fallen into decay. They are blackened and
dying, though the diamond highways sing.

The highways are cylinders the thickness of stars, transparent, flexible


diamond lattice environments, home to their own intelligence and
transmitting a blood supply of light.

At the nexus-points of the intersecting highways, like the cores of neural


cells, are the Photo-Arcologies, gigantic hives of living suns that take on
strange insectoid forms. Between the worlds the suns are harmonies of
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light like freight trains spiralling round the helices inside the diamond
highways.

Yet without the responsive song of life from the world fronds, the
arcologies themselves grow silent, the highways are failing, slowly but
inevitably being cut off. Eventually the culture of the Omnistructure will
retreat, becoming only a memory. In the star-cemeteries deep in the
centres of the Photo-Arcologies, black-hole tendrils and white dwarf root-
stubs animate and attempt escape.

The space between the highways and the mycellium of world is divided
into cells of void, like the cells of a leaf, each similar but distinct. At the
border of each cause/effect lipid layer, time hesitates for a moment to
confirm.

Lagrange points within the cellular voids play host to their own strange
zero-g civilisations. High altitude web cities grow like gigantic highway
shacks along the easy-to-transport zero gravity lines between the world-
roots and the suns.

Lagrange point cities on the cell void-border walls have slightly different
realities depending on which side you are on. Multi-cell Lagrange strands
are complex, with many realities involved. If you agree something there
you must agree it four times, once between all possible combination of
yourself and the other party.

Science Fiction Fortifications (d6)


1. Kinetic Harpoon Forts
Get a bunch of big iron asteroids, shape and mine them into long spears
about the thickness of an office block and three times as long. Use
advanced tech to mine inside the asteroid, creating a series of rooms and
passages that interconnect. Line them up in orbit. Drop them. The impact
destroys any enemy present and embeds the iron spear two-thirds deep
into the ground, making a crater around it. The part sticking out remains
too hot for any survivors to occupy till your forces turn up. Then get
inside the iron spire through one of the holes you left. Turn it into a
fortress of meteoric stone. The crater wall can be fortified to become the
curtain wall. The entries now underground can be a starting point to
expand the fort beneath the earth. The shocked geology of the impact site
can turn soft loose soils into packed earth that will bear a tunnel.
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2. Force-Bubble Pentagram
Star Wars has taught us all that you do not put a shield generator outside
the shield it generates, but if you wanted to you could do it like this; Have
a large central fort and five lesser ones surrounding it. Have the central
fort generate the force field for the fort north of it, have that fort generate
the field for the one clockwise, and so-on, round in a circle, right back to
the central fort. Switch and randomise which forts are generating the fields
for which others semi-randomly so observers never know which ones they
need to take out to reach the central fort. If an outer fort is taken, its
supporting generator can simply drop the shield, exposing it to fire from
the forts on each side, and from the centre, then re-take it.

3. Heat-Sink Fort
Assuming force fields can absorb huge amounts of energy but need to
disperse it somehow, or at least heat up doing it, the walls could be a
network of sharp red-hot heat-dispersal vanes. The stuff inside the force-
field can be super light or purely anti-infantry as it doesnt need to absorb
any impact itself. No-one has really taken much advantage of how strange
forcefield tech could make military installations. Generally they need to tell
a story and the familiar mass-based constructions give the right military
impression as they match what we expect to see. Imagine something like a
star fort but built from leaves of razor-thin red hot ceramic. Infantry
assaulting through the shield has to work their way through the labyrinth
while under fire from the centre. Like star forts, it would be quite beautiful.

4. Cannibal Forts
Sci-Fi forts are always coming under attack from hordes of aliens that
assault across open ground. A bunch get shot, then the pile of bodies gets
big enough that they can just run up the corpse pile and get into hand-to-
hand. Because thats more dramatic. What if you took advantage of the
biomass and had systems set up to transform the bodies into material to
increase the fort? Wire cages filled with compressed corpses. Power lifters
and cranes. Corpse-compacters. The Ghorids are rumoured to have built a
city with bricks made from the blood of their enemies. The longer the war
goes on, the bigger the fort gets, increasing with each assault.

5. Titan Forts
A fallen Titan or Mecha on a battlefield is effectively a fortification. It
provides high ground and broken terrain. Radiation or emissions can make
the surrounding area hazardous. It already has corridors and fire points,
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you can scavenge and re-purpose weapons. Also you are fighting over a
gigantic metal corpse. IT IS A METAPHOR.

6. Erosion Forts
For a strategy operating in deep-time. Built to channel the natural erosion
of a valley or mountain so that the shifting of the land forms natural
revetments. The sedimentation at a rivers head could be shaped to create
islands in the right places. The erosion of a coastline could be arranged to
create defensive emplacements. (there is a slight suggestion the Maia were
up to this in the Silmarillion), planned for a battle that may take place in
several thousand years, or to alter the strategic landscape of a developing
or implanted culture. Getting the landscape ready, just in case.

A Knight of Mars

Three Ancestral Mecha

Orcneas
Orcneas is a flat smooth oval of unknown origin. It was clearly designed to
brave the tides of some alien sea, or the core-winds of a Jovain Giant. But,
some remark on the thickness of its hull, the inexplicable strangelet-
scarification swirling in momentary iridescence in the red Martian light,
clinging sparks of unknown colour waving and rippling in violent fractal
curls just as the creature skylines in the dying sun. They say Orcneas went
somewhere terrible. That it was never meant to return.

The limbs are of more recent design, only a few thousand years old. Eight
titanic monomolecular spider-crab legs, flaking endlessly in paper-thin
confetti-shards. Children keep the discarded metallic curls as good luck
charms. The limbs are renewed slowly from within by some forgotten
process fed by the still-humming core. The power still flowing over
uncounted millennia, engineered for a timeless watch somewhere beyond
the sight of man.

The two front limbs have four-fingered hands. The front legs walk on car-
sized knife-bright claws. Within the shell, the Signal blade.

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SIGNAL is the only still-legible word on the energy projector inside
Orcneas. Its beams gash gold-vermillion and the blade itself is named in
the death song scratched in mono-carbon ruins in the shadow of Olympus
Mons. What work it did there long ago no-one living now can say.

Frost-Fetter
Frost-Fetter is old, as old as one of the great cyclic terraforming events of
Mars, perhaps the first. She is a tall tripod, moving with unnerving grace
on delicate tips. We know she was not made to kill, but to work great crafts
upon the planets living flows. Yet we must use her so, and be glad of it.

The tripod core houses a lance of ice. A burning ray that freezes all it
strikes and that cannot fail. Legends speak of Frost-Fetter surviving
hordes through her speed, her dancing legs and her inexhaustible freezing
light. On each side of her canopy are nests of prismatic tractomorphic
tentacles. These can spiral and combine to bleed fire. Some think that
Frost-Fetter was made to mould and shape glaciers. Though not intended
to, Frost-Fetters tentacles can be used as a man uses his hands, to hold and
wield. An unexpected advantage.

Storm-Wife
Storm-Wife guards the Tempest and holds the Star-Stone. Like Frost-
Fetter he was not made to kill, but to preserve. Bards sing of a day when
our hands are returned to their purpose and do not hold the sword.
Perhaps those days have already past.

Storm-Wife was born in the night above the sky. Men walked there once.
He was built to rescue those that fell, to preserve the traveller and
safeguard the weak. An honourable design. His smooth white limbs,
shaped like a man, and his delicate human hands were built to hold and
preserve. Other houses may mock his frame. Remember the design. We
have armoured him in crude steel, welded around his snow-bright skin and
helmeted his pilot-dome in five-times-riveted metal cold. We have given
him the Tempest, the greatest cannon we possess, the storm is crude some
say, but this is a technology known to us. Her hundred-cal rounds give a
sermon that will not be forgotten!

We have given him the Star-Stone. A fragment of ruined earth. Blasted


into the darkness and plummeting into the Martian soil, the stone is
meteoric iron. Burnt into runnels and channels by her blazing descent.
Scooped and shaped in wild peaks with the covering rock scorched away.
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We have sharpened her, burnished her edges till they glow red like our sun.
A haft we have long sought, and found. The black spindle-steel, it made
the ruined helix that long ago reached up to the stars. We have traded
much for this invincible metal. Now Star-Stone is ready. A mace like no
other. Should Tempest fail, the stone shall answer.

But remember the design. They laugh at us and call us scavengers. But
hidden in the war-shells hasp is the memory of the past. Of what we were,
and could be again. He was made to guard lives. Do not dishonour his
purpose.

Two Oaths, One Song and a Curse

Oath of Mars

Red earth break these bones


Green sea drown this tongue
Black sky and all your stars
Fall forever on Mars
Should I fail this trust
As I live, it shall be done

Oath of Repentance

Old ones I beg your forgiveness


I have forgotten your voice
Your music and your sounds
I hear you not
Old ones I beg your forgiveness
I have forgotten your faces
Your colour and your form
I see you not
Old ones I beg your forgiveness
I have forgotten your language
And lost the tongue of your machines
They hear me not
Old ones I beg your forgiveness
I have failed your creation
The field dies in my path
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The sea battles the black sky
And the storm forgets his course
Old ones I beg your forgiveness.

Marriage Song

Eye of Earth, our mother, our home


You have watched me in your dance
All we are was born of you
Life giver, star-seed, creator of us all
You hang now beyond my reach
Or the reach of my fathers
You made me and guard me
We know you still
The cradle and the hand
The builder of the flesh
Helix-weaver, bone-mason, maker of us all
I turn from you, I must
You are rebuked
Another I have found
Her eye is brighter and more constant
She is with me under sun and stars
Her dance is with me, not the sky
She has re-made me
She is the weaver of my daily thread
My hours, my moods, my silences and calms
She is my architect, she is my design
She is my passage and return
We make anew what made us first
The thread is long.

Curse of Mars

I curse you
Enemy of Man and Earth and Mars
You are no true knight
You broke your bond
Your heart is the black between the stars
You failed your Lord
Your voice the hiss of empty frequencies
You failed your blood
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Your arm is weak, its actuators shake
You mocked your god
Your rounds burn in their barrels
Your missiles hunt like cows
Your beams refract in mist
Your magazines click dry
Outlaw. Tracked scavenger. Footless brigand.
Dustbiting bastard. Mekless knave.
Water-word, honourless man.
You shake the Dreaming Fathers in their sleep!
Your Thane is Chaos
Herald of a Tattered Lord.
Cryogenic Rats
In the future mankind has colonised every available star system with
slower-than-light colony ships. Civilisations communicate with each other
continually but slowly. Everything is hyper-civilised, overdeveloped and
dull. No-one is allowed to do anything interesting or dangerous as they live
in a perfect climax civilisation.

If anyone wants to be original or take a risk the only thing to do is try to


explore one of the cold worlds. These are exo-planets lost in the lifeless
voids between stars. Dark, ancient and frozen. Many terrible things are
buried there by timeless races beyond the comprehension of man.

Because governments are boring only radicals will explore the dead
spheres. They scrape together scrap-tech with private capital, jury-rig a
disused colony ship and head off in cryo sleep to the space between the
stars. There is nothing out there so they have to take all the energy they
will need with them. They know they will return in a thousand years-plus,
relative to when they left, everything will be different. They dont care. If
they come back, they will change everything.

No-one makes tech to survive the alien weather systems and awful
mysteries of the cold spheres, so they have to build or cludge it
themselves.

Exo-Suits of the Hot Girls (2d10)

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1. Gas giant turboliner luxury evac suit re-fitted by pirate ice merchants
after mass-disaster. Some bloodstains, wood-panelled interior, nice drinks
selection, internal anti-personnel weapons for use against the poor, perfect
credit history.
2. Ex-Mil ice-moon halo-jump assault-suit prepped for low atmosphere
high-angle entry and rapid heat exchange displacement vanes for high-
velocity melt-through of tectonic pack ice and undersea deep-pressure
assault. Disposable. Un-used.
3. Post-nuke search and rescue suit with active Kirlian-Faraday defences
against necrotising cryptowraiths. Ablative crystallising radiation slough-
skin bleeds industrial-diamond-substitute.
4. Antique trans-sanity Culverin MEGGIDO-class apocalypse suit.
Confirmed three reality breeches closed. No fails. Discharged with full
honours and multi-faith blessing. Sold as surplus during government
shutdown over complex tax issue.
5. Experimental Tomb-Analysis jacket. Produced as marketing test-
prototype by futurist clade for predicted market of sunless explorers.
Market failed to arise. Suit highly modified by billionaire performance artist
as commentary on the creative tension between visions of the future and
the now.
6. Half-torched coronal-rider cybernetic array for maintenance of
heliosphere vampire-satellites feeding endless thaum-hunger of core world
climax Civ. Vaporised scarwounds in packed-ceramic overlays have little
effect on survival in ultracold tomb-world environments.
7. Active nuke-engine exhaust repair bot with scooped braincore and
botch-job suit-within-a-suit life support pocket scavenged from crashed
hydroponics resort. Chassis made to cludge-fix the Ex-Jets of near-
lightspeed colony ships on journey between stars, without de-stepping the
torch.
8. Naked Space field rainbow suit riding ultra-compressed
electromagnetic kill-waves of original weapon mounting. Formerly trans-
orbital silencer for city-killing stealth-ship energy weapon. Weapon core
and mounting removed. House-sized EM silencer re-fitted with auto-
motile tractomorph claws. Drags counter-rotating tach-rifled gun barrel
like a crippled tail.
9. Stygio-abyssal armed wanderer. Tracked for ultra-slow transit of
subducting tecto-murder zone. Full translation and appeasement AI for
intended treaty-comms with ultra-violent Squidlikes below the dark
photosphere. Semi-flexible syntactical tentacles added for reasons of
Peace. Accidentally transported rare human bacteriophage on chassis that
wiped out Squidlike ecology. Effective genocide. Mothballed in shame.
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10. Scratch-built kropotkinite ultra-savantic PunkSuit developed by briefly
existent anti-authoritarian AI crystallised by Noospheric flashmob. Suit
designs spat out before violent dispersal by thought police. Built vengefully
of re-purposed corporate Lux-Tech with brandnames inverted and
replaced.

But you can still totally tell theyre hot because (d10)
1. Impact-jinxed medical-array holo-field accidentally spits out glimpsed
bodyslices like a fucked projector. Images hang like a halo in the O2
exhaust around exit vents and pipe fractures.
2. Punk pilot made naked figurehead of idealised self for sensor prow of
own exo suit for easy identification and political statement. Carved from
adulterated chem-ice perma-frozen in tomb-world chill. Apparent sweat
on own naked form shows melting, indicates dangerous temp change if
sensors non-functional. Figurehead melts at end of each mission, re-
carved again for next insertion.
3. Pilot is dancer from full-bodylanguage Logo-culture. Speaks with limbs
as well as voice. Convinced no-one can understand her without seeing her.
All flat outer surfaces masked with cheap paper-thin LED screens showing
endlessly gesticulating body of pilot from every possible angle. Screens
persistently glitch and madden.
4. Self-named exo-suit painted with bomber-style glamour portraits of
pilot-owner as branding exercise and good-luck charm.
5. Pilot has own face projected on front of mech-head so partners and
following cyber-dogs can see facial expressions during radio chat.
Emotional valancy adds to cognitive bandwidth during key
communications. Dogs and colleagues can follow eye movement and trace
line of sight for non-verbal instructions and to spot attention patterns. Has
taught mech to shrug
6. Self-designed knight-style heraldry on suit-front and projected holo-
pennants updated with relief of pilots achievements, notable actions,
sexual conquests.
7. Pilot either Positivist Neo-Hindu or aping mores of same. Own figure
embossed onto suit-hull in endless tessellated patterns. Takes part of
numerous gods in divine story-cycle, violent, sexual, numinous, hermetic.
Mech effectively temple to self.
8. Pilot ripped out sensor dome and replaced with zorb-ball of nano-active
smart water. Defends against cold, heat, all EM frequencies, exudes and
compresses to defeat physical attacks. Pilot floats naked or semi naked in
centre of clear blue sphere like the pupil of a giant cyclopic eye.
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9. Sensor tentacle-tips implanted in the heads of human-scale android
sculpts of pilot dressed either in radical fashions, or not at all. Android
dummy sculpts either swoop through air carried by extended pseudopodia
in back of head, or walk across cryo-blasted zero-plains on apparently
naked feet, or in heels. Spy arms puppeting move-style of creator.
10. Main comms vane, heat exchange or primary gun turret massively re-
modelled as sculpture of pilot. Beautiful impassive archeotectic features
pass pack and forth endlessly scanning dead landscape. Lips open to vomit
heat or high-velocity rounds.

HackShips of the Cryogenic Rats (3d6 six times)

Hull
3 Shards of a shattered comet, held together by flickering fields.
4 Bash-compacted pseudo-plastic old escapee drone boats.
5 Origami mass-made monocarbon, crackling silver at the seams.
6 A ring of light-ceramic tubes sprayed in ray-resistant foam.
7 Half an attack-blasted light destroyer, built strong but riddled with
unsightly wounds.
8 Polymer shard, light, plasticated and sharp.
9 Keel of ancient iron, cankered with re-upped cargo containers.
10 Mech-assembled zero-g steel, strung with extruded carbon-fibre webs.
11 Standard mass-made enviro-tube in a carbon lattice sandwich.
12 Hacked-together high-end modular-pods in an atomic grid.
13 Steel and nuke-hardened black carbon. Attack-torpedo refit, Leviathan
class.
14 Organized-diamond dash-pod of assassinated system-lord, upgraded
and re-fit.
15 Pseudo-cuboid hyper-structure engine block with irregular interior
voids.
16 Giga-droplet of void-forged steel with bubbles tunnel-linked inside.
17 Black-hole backwash-warped helix of titan-iron.
18 Star-core cooled neutronium flange, interior carved by antimatter torch.

Drive
3 Puttering Ionic Breeze-Machine, brownouts at LaGrange.
4 Terrestrial reactor, hacked half-open and strapped on, pointing out.
5 Ruined sensor-beak of an alien 'crow machine', its fields converged.
6 'Matchead' hydrogen drive, well kept, impellers upgraded gold.
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7 Collapsed hot-rod tokomak, shielding frittered, ignition dark.
8 Downactioned 'Lightning' class Go-Box. 1000 years old. Entrails
unknown.
9 Dumble-Pulsing ultra-photonic fans, the reliable 'Bee' drive.
10 Fusion-grumbler, geysering magnetic fields.
11 Nuke-pooping kill-engine. Brutal. Dumb. Never breaks.
12 Semi-self-replicating blackbody sloaric engine-swarms.
13 'Lalelith' silent-light drive, runs inertialess and cold.
14 Razor-spec stealth-banked fusion spike, operating on the edge.
15 Vogue-vectored magnetopods, ex-military, off the books.
16 Gold-Chromium DarkMatter furnace-turbine.
17 Laser-pinioned rift-engine glinting like a wolfs eye.
18 Ravening coronal shard lensed by antimatter latticework.

Weapons
3 Juiced-up construction droids strapped onto the hull. Rivet guns firing
DPU.
4 'Tidal' class magneto-ballista launching 'monkey-puzzle' ice flechettes.
5 Allegedly-effective psychic scrambler-pulse. Only hurts organic thoughts.
6 Overcharged pyramidal phase-taser E.M. interference ray.
7 'Rolling Thunder' low-tech high-velocity minigun stacks up-jacked for
zero-g.
8 Cheap knockoff polymer-sheath 'Raptors-Eye' railgun array. (Looks like
real thing.)
9 Brute-mass macrocannons with dum-dum ferric rounds.
10 Platinum heat-exchanged rapid-firing maser-banks.
11 Low-yield 'Hiroshima' class torpedo tubes.
12 'Lottery Cannon' liquid-hydro-cooled ultra-rapid laser-spatter-banks.
13 'Thuggee' monofilament laser-guided strangle-cannons.
14 A real 'Raptors Eye' railgun array with babysitting sniper-specific AI.
15 Semi-intelligent self-assembling 'Gravity Knife' torpedo swarm.
16 'Jester' class Chance-Cannon, can ignite cascading fails.
17 'Godhammer' triple-barrelled neutron-bomb shotgun. Long reload time.
18 'Kali' class antimatter lens, ringed by moaning stabilising drives.

Sensors
3 Scattered glitch-eyes mosaicked by a dumb-core.
4 Robots-at-a-telescope, plus am/fm listening sphere.
5 Strobing navigation lasers disco-balling local zone.
6 Cybernetic spiderleg dish-orbs circulate the hull on everscan.
7 Faceted-eye cyberfly swarms bleeping composited waves to a video hive.
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8 Deep-field lens arrays analysed by photographic brains.
9 Active E.M. interference-shell upsets and traces local sines.
10 Perma-scan optico-radiodromes plus active E.M. 'ping' for search.
11 Hull networked with frozen stingray-cells to subtly interpenetrate
immediate energy-sphere.
12 Omni-valent semi-cetacean deep-wave passive scans, slow but range is
long.
13 Slaved and disarmed ex-materiel hunter-killer missile cone umbilicaled
to ship.
14 Nano-derived 'dementia' lenses track anti-spectrography of seemingly
empty space.
15 Rippling warp wave frets space for pseudo-seismic pan-Geiger eye.
16 Deep-gravitational skein illuminates all shifts in local mass.
17 Darkmatter-responsive Nano-antennae, black and unblindable.
18 Planck-length quantum-obscura shows total mass/energy state for
immediate AU.

A.I.
3 Free-download 'Ship Ops' app running on a phone.
4 Recycled city sewer-sys maintenance-mind, sometimes tries to flush the
ship.
5 Cheap black market gaol-brain predictive E.M.I. jacked to compute.
6 Defeated military simulation set sold off by winning side. Purposeless
and vague.
7 Obsolete friend-connection-network stripped and sold off in-one.
8 Terrestrial S.E.T.I.-Analysis code. Good listener, glitches when it moves.
9 Stack of chips yanked from a submarine, silent, wary, likes to light the
emergency bulb.
10 Robust smuggling code. Competent, always tries to steal.
11 Extra-real singularity-fugee hypermind Alzheimer-virused to
comprehensible smarts. Seems sad.
12 Hyper-competitive ex-financial hack. Gold with probabilities, poor
impulse control.
13 Super-computer wrapped in ultra-cryo coolant bath, staggeringly calm,
yet fast.
14 Bio-molecular gene-computing clock, starts slow but adapts relentlessly
to any threat.
15 Photonic brain encoded on the spin of held electrons in a grid.
Perceptive.
16 Holographic thought-engine, can fissure tiny perfect selves for special
tasks.
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17 Samizdat dead-genius last-minute deathmask-mind recording,
illuminating turbulence.
18 Dimension-folded hyperpalace burning as a point of light. Startling,
intuitive and precise.

Flair
3 Unlikely fastness of a doom-perv cult. Troubled child-ghosts haunt the
halls. Odd stains.
4 Glitched eject-recyke sys means ship shits itself in times of stress.
5 Ship dandruffs space with drive-plate shards, leaks E.M. moans, annoys
all near.
6 Ship greebled to a dark degree, nothing added on ever removed. Hull a
maze of functionless stuff.
7 Unnecessary plating stripped. Visible bits a nasty coagulated sight.
8 Interiors are brown.
9 Odd-proportioned micro-meteorite pattern scars look something like a
human face.
10 Former owner liked Feng-Shui, crew compartments neatly calm.
11 Remains of a first-class paint job still barely visible.
12 Voice programmed with reassuring tones like a chummy Shakespearian
thesp.
13 Severed grapple-hands from waxed piracy try dot the hull; look kind of
cool.
14 Assembled by an aesthete engineer, looks like sweet kinetic art.
15 Chiaroscuro hull-angled floods make ship look massy, dark, like wearing
shades.
16 Angular black stealth-carapace, non-functional but still looks good.
17 Zorro-scar laserlance battle damage, just short of disfiguring, looks cool
as heck.
18 Last crew died heroes in superfly species-wide redemption-adventure,
ship literally gilded.

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Masks of the Creatures from before Time (d10)

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Heroism and Super-Heroism

Heroes (d6)
1. FROST MASK

Frost Mask is the worlds greatest thief, expert in deceit and stealth, master
of crime and criminal genius.

Every tear she cries freezes on her face, even if she cries when she is
asleep without realising it. Because of this she has declared that she will
never be sad, even in her dreams, and dedicated her life to crime and
adventure.

She is in the Umbra-Louvre looking at the umbral art, surrounded by


trillions in wealth and the worlds most bored and attractive people. Her
stolen paintings glow like gems wrapped in bridal veils.

Frost Mask once stole an entire Paris weekend and made it her lair. It was
the weekend after the declaration of victory in WWI. She took it because
the people seemed so happy. For this reason, Paris has no communal
memory of winning World War One and the authorities of that city work
feverishly to capture her and get back their weekend.

So in a sense, Frost Masks arch-enemy is the Conseil de Paris, but really


she has a lot of arch enemies. Sometimes Chi-Master is her arch-foe. Her
greatest enemy is Ennui, both the emotion and her arguably-evil half-sister
who has that name.

(Some economists estimate that Frost Mask has stolen perhaps 1% of all
human wealth throughout history and a sub-branch of economics is
dedicated to making sure she is never caught because the injection of that
much money into the world economy could result in disastrous inflation
and global collapse.)

2. CHI MASTER
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Chi Master is an intelligent and wise golden gorilla. He is a master of all
forms of Kung Fu and Guardian of all the Chi Force on earth.

The More life Chi Master is fighting to protect, the more powerful he
becomes. If the whole world is threatened he becomes as powerful as
Superman, able to lift mountains, shrug of missile attacks and kick ships
out of the sea.

But if no lives are threatened then he has only the powers of a normal
gorilla who is also a kung-fu master.

This makes it hard for him to catch Frost Mask when she is his arch-
enemy because her thefts and crimes rarely endanger human life. Frost
Mask takes from the rich and the dull and keeps it.

Chi Master lives in a really big tree which comes out of the ocean
somewhere near Jakarta. The tree is so huge that an entire island is caught
in its branches.

There are ancient pagodas on the island, and many mysteries hidden in the
branches of the tree.

The tree occupies a Chi-Nexus on earth, that's why it is so big. It is a chi


tree.

3. ARMY MAN

Army Man is a man who has all the powers of anyone in any army. If
anyone in an army can do something then he can do it too.

He is the best at fighting, driving, flying planes, swimming and blowing


things up. He is really brave and never gives up. His gun turns into a tank.
His backpack turns into a glider. His arch-foes are the tan army-men (he is
green.)

4. SELENIUM PRINCESS

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Selenium Princess explores all the constellations of space from her crystal
pirate base on the moons shadow line (visible as a burning bead of light on
the moons edge during an eclipse.)

She is at war with the Ziggurat Moon, which is another moon the earth
had long ago and which sometimes returns.

Everyone on earth is afraid of her but they don't realise that without her
they would have been enslaved by the Ziggurat Moon ages ago.

The Crystal Base of Selenium Princess is full of alien rogues. Sometimes


criminals escape from earth and go there, sometimes bad guys from the
moon visit earth. She runs a laissez faire regime and the governments of
earth do not like it but there is not much they can do about it.

5. MONSTER PRINCESS*

Monster Princess is still a little girl. She is a small cyclops in a pink princess
dress with a crown and sceptre and a box with all the monsters in it, in the
form of toys, that she carries under her arm.

When she takes a monster out and says its name it becomes real.

She can pull out any monster; Vampire, Yeti, Godzilla-monster, all of
them.

When she makes them real they have to obey her because she is the
Princess but some of them can be troublesome.

The mother of Monster Princess is the Monster Queen. She is really big
and lives under the sea. Sometimes she threatens the earth.

6. DOCTOR ELEMENTAL

Doctor Elemental is actually four real-life doctors (they have phd's in


various things, not all medical) who are each experts in different kinds of
elemental sorcery. (One is bad).
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When danger threatens the earth they combine into Doctor Elemental
who can command pure elements at will. (He can separate them but not
combine them). He (or She sometimes, depending on who is currently part
of Doctor Elemental) is Blue, White, Green and Red.

The doctors get upset with each other and have medical dramas. They are
kind of their own arch-enemy sometimes.

If one doctor dies then the other three have to go on a quest to see who
will replace them. The replacement is always a doctor of some kind.

This way 'Doctor Elemental' goes on, even though the individual doctors
die.

..

Sometimes they don't all want to team up. Chi-Master can usually convince
Frost Mask to join in if it looks sufficiently dangerous and interesting and
if she joins in most of the rest will as well.

*it is a team with two princesses on it.

Villains (d10)
1. THE SLOW INEVITABLE SKELETON MARINES

In the Degenerate Era, the dark doomed obsolescence of the Cosmos


when the stars have burned to death and dying civilisations cluster round
the embers of the white dwarf suns, the Grail Queen rules and holds a
jealous memory of the single world that once defied her will. A pearl-
world, blue and white, that lived long ago when the universe was bright
with suns.

Brooding on the burning memory of this ancient wrong, she summons


from the corpse of the fated planet Melpomene, the Skalds of Doom and
sends forth her legions of the Skeleton Marines.

Floating in the famine-black and unrelenting cold, the slender Skeleton


Marines cannot be stopped. Drifting through the ocean of deep time like
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plastic flotsam on a seeping wave, and cast into our reality like driftwood
on a beach. Rising like the corpses of un-dead machines they advance
implacably like the tick-tocking of a clock, wielding their entropic guns,
their black scanning eyes set now on earth!

2. THE CARAPACED GOD

Clad in infinite unending onion-rings of trans-uranic iron teased from the


torn hearts of worlds spiralling to nothing in the flensing event horizon of
a cherenkov-strobing black hole. Armour flaked and abrading with the
touch of unspeakable eons yet ever growing by the substance of his own
dark thought. Each layer riveted with unique gnosis etched in sacred
languages invented by prophetic monks. From his palace of shadow and
slow-decaying waves at the end of all realities the Carapaced God rules and
turns his hidden eye to earth and is displeased.

Perhaps he wishes a continent moved, a second sun created, a nation


drowned or time reversed. Or simply the slate of history wiped clean.
Seeking some alteration he sends forth his sombre legions. Insect Priests,
Twilight Knights, Tense Fetish Nuns and looming PanzerSnaelgle.

The heroes oppose him yet he is an enemy that can never truly be defeated
for should he fall, all reality would collapse into a screaming chaos.

3. THE CRYOGENIC RATS

From the decadent solar cubes of the Galactic Rim where ancient
civilisations force the stars to burn as hypersquares, comes an invasion
force like no other, a gamg of frustrating anarchist women riding the
reclaimed punked-up relics of a thousand years of fruitless war!

Yet, these women claim no territory, seeking only the adventure of battle,
bating the forces of mankind from the cockpits of their decaden-tech
mechs and ion-drive-dreadnoughts, a battle the nations of the world are
happy to join lest the foundations of their power be shaken by the
Anarchists from Space!

4. THE HOUR GANG


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United by a madman, twenty four of earths most ruthless gangster
criminals team up to steal the Style of ultimate control made long ago by
ancient priests to help man fight the time titans who wish to speed up
entropy and doom.
Against all odds, they succeed! But the thieves bargain and backstab. No
one trusts the other. The sacred Style is smashed and divided into twenty
four pieces. Each of the gang is imbued with a distinctive extra-real ability
which they use to do crimes worldwide. But each power reaches
overwhelming unbeatable force for only one specific hour a day!

Now the power to battle the Eons lies with twenty four criminals who care
only for themselves. If they ever get together the Hour Gang will be
unstoppable, but if they do not, doom calls for all of earth! Only their
leader Mister Midnight imprisoned in a mirrored cell can unite them.

5. GREEN BEE - EARTHS SECOND GREATEST THIEF1

"I will be the greatest Fost Mask, I WILL!"

Using only his natural criminal ability and his distinctive hive of trained
green bees Green Bee seeks to prove himself the greatest criminal of all
time by stealing Frost Masks mask! He has never come close yet, but as his
wounded pride burns ever hotter, his schemes grow ever more daring and
complex. Perhaps this time?

6. THE TAN ARMY

The mad golemist that made Army Man had only a certain supply of
strange green clay. Army Man used his problem-solving thinking skills to
solve the problem that he was. He joined up with the heroes and fought
his bad maker. The mad man secretly escaped and went into a secret cave
only he knew about. He used the clay of a magic underground river to
make the Tan Army. Fearless and strong. The toughest army on earth to
beat! The Tan Army are perhaps the greatest military force yet assembled.
Made to fight and be the strongest and best but without the rebel thoughts
of Army Man. Who will they fight and where will they strike? No-one on
earth knows....

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7. THE ELD KING2

In the barrios and music halls. In the classrooms and social service offices.
In the police cars and telephone booths. Hidden in the mirrors of the
shop front windows. Through secret doors in the corners of rooms. Only
children can see the Eld King who steals their souls and builds an invisible
empire in the gaps of the adult world. To battle him, Monster Princess
must use the Kinderagulator Ray to transform the heroes into child
versions of themselves!

8. THE LEAGUE OF THE YELLOW SIGN3

The Yellow Sign can be anywhere and you would not know. They are a
secret conspiracy of mad cultists but they know how to act just like normal
people. Some are doctors that pretend to cure the insane. But really they
drive mad people more insane and give them the ability to seem normal.
Underneath they are now part of the Yellow Sign. Mad people living in the
real world.

From decaying tenements and the corners of old bookshops, the League
of the Yellow Sign seeks to infiltrate all governments. They will overturn
the whole world and restore the lost monarchy of Carcosa, the line of
Hastur from the shores of the lake of Hali where the black stars rise.

9. THE MASK OF THE MAD GOD

The archon of some higher reality lost and locked within a mask which lies
waiting, ready to imbue its wearer with incredible power yet also with a
terrible madness, an exile poisoned by loneliness and hate whose spirit
moves across dark waters. Anyone who wears the mask will gain the
powers of creation itself with the ability to make great heroes and villains
with every touch or breath.

Every word the mad god speaks births original and independent life from
raw cosmic nothingness. Even their unspoken thoughts are dark oceans of
black fire. Crazed and evil the Mad God makes only evil and destructive
beings. Its screams are monsters, furies. Its words are villains. It speaks
once and they are now as real as you and me.
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Yet, once the god was good. Its gentle words were peaceful animals that
heal. Its joyful laughter birthed heroes of burning gold strong enough to
challenge any evil thing it made. Should it sleep and speak within its dream
the words make silver prophets. But who can make the made god laugh?

10. ENNUI

The sister of Frost Mask was an underground explorer. She wanted to be


the best ever. She went too deep and fell into a Dero cave. The perverted
underground monsters drove her mad with terrible tortures and secret
machines.

She did not give up. She stole an influencing machine and escaped. Now
she lairs in a decaying observatory somewhere in the Hindu Kush. There
she works her influencing machine, able to detect any thought on earth
and focus its influencing powers upon it. She has set it to detect thoughts
of herself.

Anywhere in the world, whenever anyone thinks of Ennui, the mighty


silver alien device twists in its cradle of bronze and focuses its mind-
altering powers. The ray of the incredible machine decays any thought it is
directed at. For as long as it has power, no-one on earth can even think of
Ennui.

But the tortures of the Dero and the radiating waves of her machine have
made Ennui strange and mad. As ruthless and dedicated as her sister.
Perhaps more intelligent, but with even less sympathy for normal human
people. She intends to re-invade the centre of the earth and lay claim to
the empire of alien devices there, freeing mankind from their hideous grip,
but placing humanity under her own control. Surrounded by her palatial
expanse of junk and frantic ruin, she plots how best to continue her
invisible war. Only the Selenium Princess, watching from her city on the
moon, dares to try and penetrate the nightmare visions of Ennui.

1. Yanked this one from Golden Age Comics


2. and this one from Goethe.
3. and this one from Robert Chambers

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There are so many signs of trouble (d30)
1. The crows stop talking in immigrant hashmarks and speak only
vaguealities in BBC English.
2. Hurled racial epitaphs of the urban ratboys impact, not passers by, but
post boxes, telegraph poles. Teen earths noospheric hatefield by assaulting
streetlamp screaming you f*cking polish c*nt!
3. The bus drivers sig saur is on top of the change machine behind the
glass, not holstered like it should be.
4. Omnipresent asian Beatles pilgrims flee the scene.
5. The weekend loan shops silently shutter their doors.
6. People look up from their phones.
7. Free government lend-a-bikes auto breaklock to prevent collisions in
expected fracas. Numerous falls, skinned knees.
8. Pigeon flock spirals through the darkening grey on a bed of
breaksqueals from invisible gridlocked cars below.
9. The old man shouting Echo behind the news stand silently stows his
papers and extends his wheels.
10. The rambling conversation of teenage girl groups orbits closer and
closer to consensus reality, becomes aware, relevant to immediate
circumstances.
11. The ghosts on the abandoned floors above shops press themselves
against the black glass and do not flee your gaze.
12. Royal badges on post boxes police helmets and stamps briefly flicker
with para-reality Stuart coat-of-arms. The Most Catholic Empire never
ceases trying to overwhelm our reality and its influence seeps deeper in
times of stress.
13. You cant remember who the monarch is and do not know the face on
coins. (See Above)
14. Mersey flows the wrong way.
15. Ferry seen though fog at the wrong time, seems to carry war damage,
torn by shells.
16. Electrical bollards ascend and loudly deny entry to invisible vehicles.
17. The Yellow Man appears on pedestrian crossings between the green
and red.
18. Revelling students wearing traffic cones walk out of empty club to find
themselves in the middle of the day, break down, start crying.
19. The man with his legs on wrong is playing his pipes again.

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20. Clouds fill with nacreous, numinous yellow light, rain falls in bright
sunlight at 75 degrees, looking like a gate of golden fire.
21. Squirrels. Evil evil evil evil.
22. Opposed rainbows, neither giving ground.
23. Scallies wait neatly at the cross light, preparing to move safely
according to the rules.
24. Thick, grey clouds condense briefly from the tunnel air vents, then
disperse.
25. Pre-recorded sales patter from in-store megaphone starts looping
single sentence, compressing inevitably into single terrifying phrase.
26. Matrix van patrolling extra slow.
27. Sugared doughnut sellers find machines producing oddly curved sigil-
doughnuts.
28. Doors to windowed bar seem locked, people inside refuse to look
round. No-one leaves or moves.
29. Light paths on the fruit machines start flashing subconscious warning
patterns.
30. Pigeons riding bow wave of arriving tube train fly straight past you, out
of station completely.

My Means of Destroying You All (d20)


Ive had enough of you and of this, now you must be destroyed and I
must rule.

How shall I go about this?

1. Seize black hymns in the shadow of a burning church, encode them in a


polyphonic bomb and detonate via lightning strike at the tip of a black
spire on the day of St James.
2. Politicise ratling codeboys with engram induction techniques hidden in
fast-delivery cheesewheels, aim them like a gun at the mirrorcogs of
liverpools moneycore, bring it all down in debt.
3. Meditate in a null-fused stratosphere for nine hundred days of storm,
learn the lightnings song, sing it and bring down an age of electrical
tyranny like divine fire.
4. Advertise for an army of the cybernetic poor. Force-implant Clausewitz
chips and hand out light armour support and plasma rifles from japan,
storm heaven, harrow the sky with descended souls.

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5. Raid atom-smashers with expendable crime gangs, assemble pirated
strangelets into an anti-laminate gauntlet with higgs-boson knuckleduster.
Punch through spacetime and conquer whatever I find.
6. Hijack the HMS Nabokov, sink it onto the trans-Atlantic tunnel, set up
as pressure-sealed undersea pirate state, hold both nations to economic
ransom whilst launching raids on the Anglian coast.
7. Lens gravity waves through a self-launched mirror-darkly opalescent
moon orbiting in Lunasynchronous orbit, hiding the real moon like a
domino mask. Tidal chaos, auction moons secret identity to
governments/madmen for cash.
8. Use fake OS update to infiltrate X-crypts onto all mobile devices.
Phones radiate conspiratrons. All citizens consumed with paranoia, secrecy.
Begin reality-pogroms.
9. Put cameras in dogs. Find out whats going on.
10. Warp space gate to the mythical planet-of-crime, train there with
transhuman overbeings dedicated only to deception and theft, return with
new skills and launch one-man invisible war on justice, boredom.
11. Built crystallised death-refracting disco-armour, decode Dantes inferno
using 10th gen computer bees. Eat the honey and swandive into hell. Track
down hitler/stalin/ghengis and pistolwhip the gold locations out of them,
return to earth and buy the economy.
12. Scratch together continental electromags. Use to vinyl-scratch earths
iron core like an old record. Send mangowaves out in space and back in
time to affect the development of nearby civilisations millions of years
ago. Await arrival of alien space armada that already hails me as creator-
god.
13. Teach monkeys kung-fu. Assassination terror squad.
14. Breed kaiju from hacked whale organs underneath the north pole.
Embed secretly in ice. When pole melts due to global fuckery, Kaiju
released, battle and destroy with secret cranial doom-chip, use known only
to me. Demand payment, girls.
15. Use global dance craze as planet sized ritual so summon primordial
antibeing to earth. Ally with the nega-lord re world domination. Secretly
inform heroes of weakness. Watch as they take it down. Throne of nega-
verse now available. No-one thinks strategically.
16. Battle Hindu pantheon in space. No victory possible, cyclic, inevitable.
Might be fun though. Possible global destruction.
17. Seize drone fleet from skies of arab state, fling witlessly at US eastern
seaboard. Cackle. Hide. Mint it on the defence contracts over decade of
global war/moral decay.

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18. Freeze the Hindenberg. Use chronal shock to splinter self into time-
ghost. Enact infinite schemes throughout history of man, trace patterns of
failure and success to develop possible consuming over-scheme (danger:
possible will discover am actually god)
19. Mass-assassination campaign, victims irrelevant. Secure on-site
murder-shaman to catch ghosts of killer rounds as they fly. Collect
ghostgun rounds and imbue with predatory life. Have bullet-wraiths re-
enter world possessing random guns and bullets, must battle for supremacy
casting aside spent wielders like meaty chaff. Final ghost is king of
projectile death. Fire directly into night sky to puncture darkness and usher
in blazing world of eternal light, poor sleep.
20. Use trans-corporate hyper-sigil from demntia-space to activate the no-
bot curse. All automita become existential, French, annoying. Mankind
goes to war against own creations. Gives up. Whats the point anyway?

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Miscellaneous Things

Bootleg Bots of the Unset Strip

This took far too long and I've forgotten why I started. I think Zak wanted
there to be more Hip-Hop RPG's so I invented this world but then I
decided it needed to be an anime series so I wrote this insane script thing
as an opener. It isn't that good but at east its kind of original. Which
should be the sub title of this book.

Visual - A world of high technology and optimal human achievement rolls


before our eyes. Powered by... ROBOTS! Robots in every shape and size.

Voice Over - We were programmed to protect and aid mankind.


...

Visual - A gigantic disc in space, closer, it is being constructed by robots, a


stunning piece of giga technology that could dwarf nations.

Voice Over - The solar collector was mans last chance for cheap energy
and a clean world. We built it for them.
...

Visual - In darkened rooms all over the world, ice-white fingers and
predatory eyes.

Voice Over - But there was something even we couldn't predict, something
we were never programmed to understand.
...

Visual - In a blood-splattered boardroom, the drained body ofa girl slumps


to the ground. In the Pentagon a naked child runs screaming, in the
Vatican a Cardinal places an exsanguinated head upon a plate.

Voice Over - Ancient, immortal, the perfect predators of mankind. The


Vampires
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...

Visual - Blacked-out shuttles launch from the dark side of the earth, and
converge on the gigantic disk, now nearly complete.

Voice Over - They took the solar collector


...

Visual - Earth seen from space, an eclipse-disc of darkness covers the


United States, except for a thin sliver of gold on the west coast.

Voice Over - And with it, they blotted out the sun from the American sky.
...

Visual - Crowds flee from burning cities as Vampire armies march

Voice Over - In the unending dark, they took America.


...

Visual - A pale president and a pale senate in a dark and lightless capitol.

Voice Over - Now in these Unlighted States, the President is immortal, he


has always been the president and always will be.
...

Visual - World-leaders pay homage to the Vampire President in a


sephurchal United Nations.

Voice Over - as the Vampires control the worlds most defensible major
nation, they also control the power from the solar collector. They are the
lords of world-energy and there is little anyone can do.
...

Visual - Seen from space, the western seaboard looks like the golden
flames that rim a burning leaf

Voice Over - Except, here. The shadow of the collector couldn't cover
everything at once.
...

Visual - The Californian mega-conurbation. A densely-populated city state.


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On one side the pacific, on the other, a wall of darkness.

Voice Over - This is the Unset Strip a city of eternal light.


...

Visual - The sun sets in the west of the Unset Strip, falling into the pacific.
But as it does, the camera turns up. The rim of the solar collector burns in
the night sky like a river of fire.

Voice Over - Thanks to a freak of engineering and orbital dynamics, the


sun never really sets.
...

Visual - Montage of wild Unset Strip. Gangs and Robots battle. The
Castles of Los Angeles. Byzantine markets. Cop gangs, mutants, sea-
people, fusion-engine hotrods, cyborg MMA, skyscraper sniper clans, the
remains of the Pacific Fleet at anchor.

Voice Over - The Unlighted States surrenders no sovereignty over this


sunlit city, so government will intervene there. But They can't control it
either. An ungoverned zone. A realm for the free and the damned. Full of
refugee cultures from all over america and the world, banished Vampires,
broken or abandoned AI's and technological experiments, genetic
engineering, utopian communities, crime gangs, ethnarchies, free thinkers
and...
...

Visual - In the wreck of the USS Nimitz, the last president prays to an icon
of Washington, surrounded by acolyte senators.

Voice Over - the final remnants of the defeated U.S. government-in-exile.


Now, after 35 exiled presidents little more than a semi-religious cult, still
dreaming of one day liberating a homeland none of them have ever seen.
...

Visual - In the ruins of vampire-Patrolled New York, a simple


maintenance robot goes about its duties, blindly cleaning blood from the
streets.

Voice Over - But what about us? The ROBOTS?


...
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Visual - The Robot follows the trail of blood to a crevice in which hides a
naked child.

Voice Over - We haven't all forgotten.


...

Visual - Behind the Robot, hunting vampires loom.


...

Visual - The maintenance-bot SWINGS for the Vampires. Its metal fist
CRUSHES and immortal skull. Its metal leg SMASHES a vampiric spine.
The Vampires scrabble at its metal hide.
...

Visual - The Robot is finally dragged away by Vampires, but as the camera
turns the child has fled.

Voice Over - The punishment for rebellion is severe.


...

Visual - At the top of the midnight wall, a Vampire military group seizes
robots and flings them over the wall.

Voice Over - Death.


...

Visual - The Robot falls down the Midnight wall, it bounces and smashes
against the walls surface, parts fly off, limbs are crushed.
...

Visual - The Robot SMASHES into the scrap field at the bottom of the
wall.
...

Visual - The scrap pile glimmers in the eternal sun. In the distance
scavenge-tribes gather and advance.

Voice Over - But


...

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Visual - A smashed robotic hand reaches forth from the enfolding scrap.

Voice Over - Not all of us die.


...

Visual - A montage of whirring bolts, attaching limbs, hasty repairs.

Voice Over - Some of us survive, adapt..


...

Visual - The scrap-tribe approaches clambering forth over the rubbish pile,
tase-lances at the ready.

Voice Over - create and build..


...

Visual - The Robot Burst Forth. Its new hacked togther form of semi-
random parts looking glitchy, kind of monstrous yet somehow cool. The
Scrap Tribe falls back in awe.

Voice Over - New Bootleg Bodies to survive the Unset Strip


...

Visual - Montage of various exciting things happening, really its nearly


eleven here and I've been doing this for far too long

Voice Over - Here, in out new home, we fight to stay alive in the relics of a
forgotten word and the madness of the new.
...

Visual - A Robot faces off against some goons who are threatening some
kids.

Voice Over - To protect the weak.


...

Visual - Robots heist a blood bank for money deal leaving a screaming
vampire shaking its fist as they escape into the sun.

Voice Over - Steal from the rich


...
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Visual - The camera turns towards he midnight wall, and begins to float
over it, looking deep into the darkness beyond.

Voice Over - and perhaps, one day


...

Visual - We close in on the Capitol of Bone, and slowly zoom until we are
looking through the white house window, where the president stands.

Voice Over - Even find a way to challenge the immortal President himself,
and return the sun to these Unlighted States.

Bunny World (4d10)

My girlfriend asked for a post-industrial bunny world where places are


polluted and the bunnies have a social hierarchy that revolves around
vegetables because there is no longer enough fertile areas of land left to
grow vegetables.

This Bunny (d10)


1. Lord Hoppington
2. Vice Captain Nibbles
3. Doctor Flops
4. Lady Von Binks
5. The Marquis of Poops
6. Professor Iscratchyou
7. Admiral Pawless
8. Baron White-Belly
9. Madame Downey
10. Pontifex Thumps

Who is a fine example of a; (d10)


1. Rex
2. Lop
3. Helicopter Lop
4. Dutch
5. Lionhead
6. Belgian Hare
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7. Blue of ham
8. Dwarf
9. Angora
10. Harlequin

Seeks (d10)
1. The Carrot Codex
2. The Crown of the Broccoli Baron
3. A Seduction in Strawberry
4. The Cabbage Contract
5. A Parsnip Inheritance
6. A Dandelion Dowry
7. The Pea-Pod Peerage
8. A Bell Pepper Birthright
9. The Truth about Turnips
10. Celery Investments

But may be prevented by (d10)


1. An embarrassing disclosure.
2. An unfortunate faux-pas.
3. The gossip of rivals.
4. The miscommunication of a boon.
5. A brute of a cousin.
6. A revealing joke.
7. Drink.
8. The unrequited love of a serving girl.
9. An incompetent butler.
10. The tyranny of an ancient dependant.

A System of Time
In Balach the Hours live. Each individual segment of the day has a quiet
thought, a mind and a relationship with the other Hours. As each hour
passes, somewhere in Balach, they duel in physical form. One hour will die
and pass on, the other will live for sixty minutes and rule in the spaces
between moments. Always the same way.

Unless you meet them by chance. And change the result.

If you can befriend an Hour, you can also become the enemy of one. So
time can have both personality and politics.
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The Hours have names.

00.00 Lady Midnight


01.00 The Hour of Thieves
02.00 The Hour of the Grinding Gear
03.00 The Ice-Touched Hour
04.00 The Hour of the Wolf
05.00 The Inverse Prison Hour
06.00 Dawn
07.00 The Hour Clothed in Grey and Gold
08.00 The Hour of the Crystal View
09.00 The Hour of Surrender
10.00 The Thief Hour (Not the Hour of Thieves)
11.00 Hour of The Bees
12.00 Emperor Noon, The Crowned Hour
13.00 The Hour of Little Dogs
14.00 The Many Petalled Flower Hour
15.00 Hour of the Tethered Shade
16.00 Hour of the Burning Sea
17.00 The Rat Hour
18.00 The Heart Bit Hour
19.00 The Repeated Hour
20.00 Sun's Death
21.00 The Hour Torn
22.00 (No Known Name, possibly deceased.)
23.00 The Fallen Hour

She Is (d10)
She is there in every fragment of reality, in every plane, on every level,
through all the histories and times. Like a fleck of darkness in a gem.

1. A city of dark pines and darker towers, black iron bridges hung in
chains, lit at night by pure white flames burning only on the highest points
so that the masked and downcast wanderers below walk in their silver
shadows. The wind howls there, piping in the iron links, turning the white
fires to blazing pennants and sweeping the robes of the flaneurs into
blotches of spilt ink. The people love the wind and storms and racing
catastrophic skies. Midnight gales are met by carnivals and wild parades,
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bone masks switched for harlequin grins, public dancing in their robes,
puppeting constructed fantasies about, some lost and pulled from the hand
by the barreling clouds, cast up and over the city like lost monsters in a
dream, borne up on joyful laughter like the ringing of unexpected bells.

2. A dragon writhing in the shadows of a ruined city at the bottom of a


lake with water clearer than a cats eye. She nests immune, forty fathoms
down, wandering in the markets and the floods of bone. You can see it like
a window from the boat, and she see you. Hoards of Jade and Malachite
are piled in coliseums and she sleeps blackly like the lines of a drunken
script all tangled up in piles of precious stones. The lake is hers, and all the
waters to it, and as far as she could reach when dusk or dawn, while the
light of the sun is in the sky but its circle was not whole, she flies, taking
everything that she desires. Summer is a hated season there, with its easeful
shiftings of hourly light, and winter prized for its quick fastening of night.
Warmth brings war as nearby kingdoms lose their tithe to her black wings,
and winter, peace, and a shield of ice upon the lake.

3. A sybil to the god of visions, hierophant of the imagined thing. At times


this leaves her begging in the streets, a faith of one, as all mad people are.
In other ages armies move at her command, janissaries hurl themselves en-
masse on pikes to form a road of flesh by which her word may pass. On
every world she is alone, silent in the cell, hidden in the corner of the
street, burning cities with her glance and whispering to the rats.

4. A star alone, never placed in any constellation, and when the story of
her star is told then the story stands alone, unconnected to the other tales,
spoken as the fire burns down when most have gone to sleep. When
written down she is Apocrypha. Her star is bright and constant in the sky.

5. A demigod or daughter of the gods. She knows no fear and walks,


friendless and alone but unopposed, in the blackening moors where danger
lurks. The brand she carries burns. She comes upon the traveller in the
night, as friend if they are lone like her, or scourge if they be cheery, bright
and gathered in a group. Heaven help those making noise. All single things
attend her and all monsters either fear her brand or bow before her word.
Her word is stone, her name applied to oaths to keep them tight, her
honour inviolate and world renowned. Her promise absolute. She is a
walker in the wilds and symbol of those things seen truly only when we see
them on our own. The irreducible experience, the unremarked last stand,
the final terrors and the secret joys.
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6. A high land cut by streams, rocks breach through the loam and forests
bend and grow like curls of smoke before the infinite wind from the sea.

7. A sea that covers wrecks and casts forth islands of ice like blue-white
jewels thrown idly on the ground, she nurses ancient serpents and freezes
swimmers to death. She is banked with advancing cloud and mother to
storms.

8. A planet, dark, cold and orbiting without a star, yet never still. Curls of
rare matter condense in her Jovian skies. Strange gravities clash through
her obsidian continents and frozen carbon dioxide seas. Her moons orbit
closely, sending tidal strands of stone and ice tornadoing across her face.
She cradles darksome life, wise, ancient and indifferent to the wheeling of
the distant stars. Her world goes on unnoticed, hanging in the darkness, far
from the stellar empires. They are wise not to investigate too much.

9. A thought within the mind or a dream within the sleeping brain. She is a
dark idea, not quickly put aside. She is an impulse to wander and walk out
into the night alone, to abandon everything and disappear, climbing some
forgotten crag or watching from a glass, releasing the tiller and tightening
the sail. When the wind is navigator she is there, when the wheel is lose
and the accelerator down then she is there. When she is a dream she
lingers through the sunlit afternoon and makes you wish for silence and a
darkened room.

10. A god. The last. Either death or deaths destroyer. She is will and
resolute desire. She gives visions for release and darkens the night sky. She
is with the wild things in the woods, the shadow self, unrelaxed, aside from
life. She is facing into the dark to see what comes. Her sacrifice is love and
what you love. Her protection is absolute and her aegis unbroken by time,
you should not worship her in groups. She is chthonic in the sacristy. Dark
and mystic. Her testament is sung and never written down.
An Achingly Portentous Prophecy
This is a pointless quest, leading nowhere. Is following a deranged made
up poem-prophecy more stupid than thieving gold from monsters so you
can get points that make you 'better'? Probably.

(I wrote this for a friend. Only much later did I realise that he pronounced

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the name Yoo-see-rum and not, as I was pronouncing it Ee-you-see-
rum, which means the metre is off for the whole thing.)

"Heed FOOL these lips have spaken lines


that counselled dying kings
and deeds of starry wisdom spat
in a burning spray of rings.
I have heard the muttered whisper
of dementia-riddled gods
I have seen the subtle barking
of the Prophets sneaky dogs
I have spoken with the Kraken
on his indigo-black throne
I have feasted with the ghoul-god
as he cracked an angels bone
In the marrow of the bone there,
in the scratchings of the dogs
In the Kraken-limb mandala,
in the begging of the gods
A name has made it's knitting
like a fish caught in a scarf
A scarf where fish are knitted
in an umber-woolen path
A NAME crawled forth from legends
in the darkest dreams of man
a name that quakes and bleeds and burns,
'tis yours EUSYRAM!

AYE Eusyram the noble


and Eusyram the fool
tis your name hidden in the tale
the comet spread from Thule
AYE. Thule! That distant land of men
whose sourcerous minds doth scorch
whose sky-craft flips through history's page
on destiny's front porch
have named your name as forefront
in the wizened wizards scheme
to surf the flame and quench the deep
and seek the Crystal Dream!

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FIVE SIGNS they have predicted
that will speed you on your quest
yet NONE may be related
lest its secret free the rest.
So riddles I shall pose thee
Euysram the knight
unknot these cryptic weavings
and the dream is yours by right!
Decode these lines and know the schemes
and sights and tricks and path
evade the gurgling Gnathopod,
flee from the Chetchindwrath!

First, seek you out the wormlight


where the yellow grasses gleam
then mount the lunar lion, but,
beware the horrid Breem!
The Breem The Breem,
oh monster swimming from a nightmares jaw
evade the boiling eye of it
and break the horrors maw!

Then secondly,
make straight for shores where two man walk as one,
where gold gives way to silver
and the apple eats the sun.
where earth and water masticate
beneath the hoof-struck bridge,
where ravens mock the eagles beak
as sunlight strikes the ridge.
Obey these words Eusyram
and wisdom you shall find,
and soon the dream of Asteroth
that cracked the crystal mind!

Next, waste no time but straight away


disrobe the widows wife,
make hobbit stew and dwarf pies too
and whet the elf-lords knife
this done,
my cryptic riddles shall reveal their subtle form
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and rouse the hand of Asteroth
beneath the nighted dawn.

Oh Asteroth oh Asteroth,
the master of the Breem
the crocheter of mocking time
the weaver of the dream!
The Crystal Dream that broke the cycle many moons ago
and lying now in fragments
waits for light, it waits for you!
For you Eusyram,
for fates entrapping blade
for destiny's sweet midwife
who a hundred dawns have greyed.

Fear not Eusyram for your quest is near at hand


where castles clamp the shoreless sea
and quell the whispering sand.
Where fools are knighted by the wise,
where wizards bow to birds,
where eyebeams from the hero's gaze
entrap the poets words!
Look there Eusyram!
Within the black encrypted rooms,
the cellular asylum where the dirge of madness booms!
See you now Eusyram? See you now the truth?
The eyes that hear the moaning whale
shall twist themselves in ruth.

One clue remains Eusyram


to unveil the Crystal Dream,
to bear the path of Asteroth
who bore the horrid Breem,
you must battle naked daymares
in the dark archival halls
and seduce the one-eyed duchess
in the bright ceramic balls
you must travel to the horse-henge
when the Pleiades are high
and weave the song of Asteroth
to 'ope the Deamons eye!
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Within the Deamons iris
where the horrid colours twist
is writ the names of Asteroth
in winding helix list.

Recite the name Eusyram


and Asteroth shall hear
defeat his ghost,
then eat some toast,
the Crystal Dream is near!

The Dream the Dream,


it's hiding place a prophets fevered secret.
If you have read these riddles right,
Eusyram, you'll keep it.

And once the Crystal Dream is yours


Eusyram the Great,
your destiny's fulfilled my child,
not soon,
nor far, nor late."

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