Another dread month draws to a close! Dense with content, rich and redolent with big spooks, and now let’s give you a guide to blog articles you may have missed this month that I recommend you check out.Continue Reading →
Ah, Dread Month, a month of horrors and vileness, a month where there’s terrible things afoot and grim subject matter. Well, time to make some spooky cards, right? Nice and easy.
This is a rare time where I had a bit of a problem with making this month’s cards. I started out with one theme — a set of Innistrad-themed cards that used the regional watermarks of the locations around Innistrad. I then tried an idea of a full set of daily zombies, but I immediately got bored with that.
What I did instead was this month, I revisited a bunch of mechanics based on things that might fit in a horror setting. The idea drifted a little, but I still have a bunch of cards I like and am happy with.Continue Reading →
Hey, I don’t just generate videos about postmodernism or solastalgia, I also sometimes make videos where I just partake in a game that you probably don’t know or remember, and spent some time complaining about it. This time, it’s a book, and oh boy, isn’t this going to be a WEIRD book to start with!
This whole setup is the real prize of this video: A dice roller and book reader system means I can do other game books, but also things like roll-and-write physical games or the like. The pngtuber is also neat here, and this can be seen as like, a beta test for them.
Oh hey it’s October again, time to bust out this old project. Last year I did some work on the things I’d need for Camp Osum, and this year, I’d like to push it along a little more. But! Something I’m doing this year that I didn’t do last year is I’m going to tweet about it a bit. This means this post might feel a bit like a supercut of twitter posts.
Oh and uh, content warning? Gore and guts and knives and like, horror stuff?Continue Reading →
Content warning: I talk about my experience with harmful religions and say critical things of the idea of Moses!Continue Reading →
I read Chainsaw Man in a day. It’s really good! I liked it a lot! Not something I can recommend to most people, but still, I thought it had some really cool ideas, great utilisation of the entirely 2d medium, wonderful characters, and, of course, it had Pochita, a good, good boy.
And being me, I immediately compared Pochita (a contract-making animal mascot with enormous destructive potential) with Kyubey, from Puella Madoka Magic: The Latest Movie (a contract-making animal mascot with enormous destructive potential). Kyubey is exactly the kind of garbage who would look at the kind of contract Pochita got and say ‘well, if that’s what it takes to get that kind of power, I’m down.’
I made these using the pen tool in GIMP. That’s why everything is these smooth shapes, and largely things are intersected. I thought about putting both designs on a shirt facing each other like this, but the thing is, that would require me to go through the lighting on both of them?
I dunno, maybe if someone better than me at lighting told me a way to do it easier, I’d make a shirt or sticker of them looking at each other.
There are two designs; one that’s just very clean, simplified fanart of Pochita:
And one that’s about that impersonating asshole Kyubey:
I really like that this artwork of Kyubey involves a lot of substitution but doesn’t need to change much. Kyubey’s gold rings used here to represent the handle and his eyes are also extremely distinctive.
Personally, I might not have a Kyubey shirt, but I might get a badge.
I don’t like when my writing on a subject resembles someone else’s too much. I feel a little bit like I’m really just better off providing a link to the other person’s writing. In this case, it’s Geoff Thew, of Mother’s Basement, who made an entire video with a comedic tone framed around You Have To Read Chainsaw Man. I watched that, I saw his description of Power as a mix between Walter Sobchak and Eric Cartman and went ‘well, I need to know what the hell he’s talking about, there’s no way this character actually delivers on that.’ And then I read it, and I shared pages with my friends and they went and read it and I was left with the frustrating impression that Thew pretty much hit on the perfect gimmick for this kind of article.
Holy crap, Chainsaw Man is really good.
I want to talk more about Chainsaw Man, but I don’t intend to ‘spoil’ it much. There’s not a lot of reason to talk about it in the context of specific incident or ideas, but rather about its tone and style, and why I think I like it so much. That said, this is definitely ‘content warning-y.’
Just a list off the top of my head, then. Content warning for extensive graphic violence, eye trauma, a lot of talk about guns and their importance, alcohol consumption, throwing up, puppeteering, implied child endangerment (sexual), actual child endangerment, blood all over the place, zombies, torture, cannibalism (both sudden and shocking, and slow and considered), existential horror, workplace anxiety, and it’s got a bunch of great characters in it, many of whom die abruptly.Continue Reading →
The original text of this Henry James story is from Wikimedia Commons. You can read along and make fun of how I slip up on words like constance.
… And there, in the deepest and darkest of spaces, far from the prying eyes of those who would judge their work, or steal their designs, a god whose name is lost, did render the form of what it had seen, and sought to make its own.
It made what it thought it saw, when it saw humans.
And when it saw what it had done, it was revolted, and fled.
The Hadalan are a rare culture from the deep oceans of Cobrin’Seil. There are people of the seas – not like the cultures of merfolk and triton, that live up near the continents, building cities at the edges of the shelf where the land falls away into dark ocean. The Hadalan are from deep in the ocean; from places where vents in the earth belch bubbles and plumes of smoke into an uncaring darkness, where great bugs sift the sands, and where the dead bones of ship and whale alike lay in the muck, too cold and dark and barren to rot.
There are stories of the Hadalan. It’s said they are people who do not have souls. When seen from a distance, their shapes are hazy and indistinct, sailors say; they change shape and morph into strange and inhuman forms. Some say they eat souls, feasting on life to life to extend their own.
And there are the stories they tell of themselves.
The Hadalan, when asked, tell stories about how they were created without souls. About how they were abandoned by a god, who was horrifed at having made them. About the way they refused to die, and made their home in the deep oceans, with the deeper secrets. About glowing libraries and columns of fire that burn in the darkness of nowhere. About how they built a civilisation; how they learned to create their own souls; how they learned the ways to call upon gods.
How they called for their god, grown, whole, and a culture to be proud of.
How their god came to them.
And they tore them apart.Continue Reading →
You seen this game? It’s a pretty neat one. It made me laugh. So why not use this spooky game about playing a monster in a spooky month to talk about the spookiest of things – Postmoderniiismmmm.
Time to time, I write up an explication of characters I’ve played in RPGs or made for my own purpose. This is an exercise in character building and creative writing.
Not many people go out near the edges of Crey’s Folly, no more. They know it’s a dangerous place, with the Crey staff trying to recover lost research, the Nemesis forces trying to establish a bunkhead, Devouring Earth and Rikti and worse!
And there, lurking, is the dinosaur king, the beast woman of mysterious origin known as RAPTOREX!Continue Reading →
Ever type out the title of an article, and look at it and go: Well, I can’t change that now.Continue Reading →
In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:
- This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
- This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
- While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
- The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic
When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.
Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.
In Bleach, one of the most central characters to the early narrative is one Rukia Kuchiki. Introduced in the first episode, she is the bridge of our previous point-of-view character into the spirit world as an outsider. She is a character from another world, deprived of powers in our world, who has to guide Ichigo, a seemingly ordinary dude who can see ghosts, into seeing the immensely complicated reality that spiderwebs about him about societies full of special rules and seemingly arbitary boundaries. Rukia is this sort of mix of gremlin energy, doing things like building a micro room in Ichigo’s closet, ostentatious self-importance due to her noble heritage, and very legitimate expertise in spiritual matters. It’s the sudden loss of Rukia that marks the transition between the first two major arcs of Bleach, where all the fun we’ve had up until now is suddenly framed as something you have to pay for. The society, the life, the world that is waiting outside of the fun of highschool appears and demands that all that fun is over and now there is a duty.
I assume at some point after that she gets super powers and reunites with Ichigo and they have cool adventures and the story doesn’t run in place for nine years.
Anyway!Continue Reading →
I’m guna talk about stuff to do with cultural lenses and background material, and I’m going to talk about a Polish movie and a Polish book series, as a non-Polish person who has almost no grounding in that space. That means that by necessity, the ways I discuss this are going to be from an outsider’s perspective, making comparisons to media I do know, and that’s how it’s gunna be. It’s also going to be about a serial-killer based crime drama with some medical trauma and poverty themes, so like, before we go on, let’s start with a big ole Content Warning.
Content Warning: This is a serial killer horror story, this is a crime story, this is a story with some graphic visual effects, and it’s a Polish movie being talked about by a dude who cannot reliably say he’d find Poland on a map.Continue Reading →
Ambrose Bierce wrote A Citizen of Carcosa, creating a city that would become permanently part of the horror mythos of modern English. The story captured the imagination, and inspired the use of the narrator in future horror and fear writers, and was done at a time in Bierce’s life between fighting confederate soldiers, shaking down millionaires for railroad taxes, and fighting in the Mexican civil war.
Dude was interesting.
It’s a late thursday night of the day I spent an hour sitting in a doctor’s office to get vaccinated, then observed afterwards. I am exhausted. My arm is killing me. I feel weird in the stomach, and my eyes hurt. None of this relates to the vaccine, as best I can tell, by the way. I’m exhausted because I’ve been working all day, then I had to arrange transport to the doctor’s, then get home, and then, I had to work on rebuilding my bed, because that can’t really wait. It meant that after getting the vaccine — which was convenient and easy and even literally painless — I came homje and had a list of things I had to do before I could tell myself I had the freedom to relax.
And then, eventually, that opportunity arrived, and I had a shower.Continue Reading →
I got this game in the Racial Justice bundle on itch, and I thought I’d give it a shot for Dread Month. Turns out that the plot is obtuse enough that I thought the most interesting thing was the way that the game spends a lot of programming effort and visual aesthetic looking like an old junky game from a long time ago, even on modern hardware.
Neat game, definitely one to try if you like the way it looks. Not the kind of thing where I put much stock in ‘the plot’ as much as that plot is an assemblage of stuff the creator thinks about.
What the hell is Cursed Knowledge?Continue Reading →
Let’s make this as simple as possible and put all the content warning up front.
Content Warning: Vaccinations, medical peril, political cartoons, actual fascism, and talk about how jokey jokes have become actual real downers!Continue Reading →
Putting August, with its theme of tricks, and October, with its theme of dread, so close to one another is an interesting kind of mirroring because they undeniably share some space. There’s a trick to horror, and there’s a trick to designing good horror. Much of horror in my experience can be about learning something, and that means that good horror often relies about controlling your attention.
It’s something videogames have going on that many games that I design don’t. Videogames give you a camera, of sorts, that you control, of sorts, and that means that you’re often left with the illusion that you have control over what you see, how and when.Continue Reading →
1943. The Atlantic Ocean. The single greatest U-Boat operation of the entire war thus far has just finished. The USS Tiger Shark cuts beneath the waves, an absolute behemoth of metal and sweat, a machine made for this new, unique field of battle. The sea struggles around, the bellows pump, and the sonar pings, as this great, heaving, terrifying machine, a mystery to even those who drive it answer a call.
There’s a British hospital ship, it’s sunk, and there are survivors. As the only ship nearby, the Tiger Shark breaches and rescues three people; two patients of the hospital ship, and a woman nurse.
But it’s not well on the Tiger Shark. A woman is bad luck, they say, and the morale is seemingly down in the dumps. A malaise hovers over everything. The patients aren’t looking hopeful, the captain seems haggard and haunted, and there’s a something wrong that nobody can name.
Is it a ghost story?
A horror story?
A spy thriller, where a saboteur somehow infiltrates the Submarine?
Content Warning: This movie is about a horror scenario with death on a submarine, so there’s drowning, there’s guns, there’s Nazis, there’s creepy ghosty stuff. You know, kinda what you’d expect.Continue Reading →
What would Dread Month be, without a little dash of Howard Phillips ‘Jesus Christ What A Racist’ Lovecraft?
Content warning: There’s an unvoiced person in this story who is referred to with pretty typical cruel terms.
Wanna know what kills the most cops?
Content Warning: I’m going to talk about heart disease and the united states police system.Continue Reading →
Content Warning: I talk about Death, Cancer, and Grieving in this one.
I haven’t watched HBO’s 2019 miniseries Chernobyl.
Content Warning: Chernobyl, Soviet Union
I haven’t felt any need to, for a start. It definitely sounds like a sort of prestige, high-quality, taut docu-drama, the kind of thing where the decisions made that depart from reality are done in ways that make sense. It is based on a lot of detailed reports, and largely reflects accounts from reasonably trustworthy sources about the event that transpired. It does tell lies, of course, and it admits to it. I have no doubt that you can pick out choices and things that the story seems to be about, the way the story seems to be structured to make its point, but broadly speaking, from what I can tell, Chernobyl is very thoroughly researched and examines an event that is full of strange and seemingly fake stories.
Lords knows that the Russian government wasn’t happy about it, claiming it was full of propoganda. I know I heard a bunch of people on what I guess we’d say is ‘my side’ saying that the whole arrangement was made to make the Soviet Union look bad, and it was a sort of anti-communist piece. Which is always a bit weird when people talk about the Soviet Union as if it was an example of Communism doing good things what with all the uh, bad stuff it definitely did.
I haven’t, however, watched it.
So what gives?
What I have listened to, and what I find much more interesting, is the Chernobyl Podcast. This podcast is a conversation between Craig Mazin, the writer of the series, and Peter Sagal, who I understand is on NPR, about the series, and about the history as they were dealing with it. I approach this podcast a bit, let’s say, naively? Like, I listen to Mazin talking about what he did and why, and I generally don’t assume he’s making it up, or flattering himself. But, as with all narratives, especially from people who make and share narratives, I don’t largely see his positions and his opinions as expressed in the podcast as being too slanted or insidious.
The thing that sticks with me, though, is something that happens in the first episode, within the first five minutes, where Mazin says:
Chernobyl was in production, being written and researched, back in 2015. It seems that it was created as a byproduct of a very specific interest in a very specific incident, possibly out of a self-important interest. After all, Mazin saw the story as one he didn’t know, and therefore went, well, surely it’ll be worth everyone’s time if I go find the story, and tell it. He talks about how he is bringing the story from the Iron Curtain, but also, he’s doing it with people who were around and affected, but he wasn’t. So, you know, it comes from this place of disconnect from the events, even as it seeks to involve the source material. I’m not saying it’s this perfect product, following from a perfect source, that it is a [Good Media] and the criticisms of it are [Bad Criticisms].
If you watched Chernobyl and thought ‘hey, this is dumping on Communism or Socialism pretty hard,’ then that’s fine and valid, because the details that stand out to you are going to reflect your experience. Absolutely, the series shows scenes and sequences that can look like they’re saying the Soviet Union was bad, with its KGB agents and references to the Holodomor and of course, the fact that Chernobyl happened at all in this context.
That’s not why I bring up this podcast, nor the story of Chernobyl.
I think this podcast is interesting. I think it’s interesting because it’s going over the writer’s notes on a historical event. The show? Well, sure, that’s a thing and you hear about the actors and the actresses and the set producers, sure, but the important thing, to me, the thing that I find engaging, are the ways in which Mazin is genuinely impressed and awed with the things that these people of the Soviet Union – not the government oversight, not the bureaucracy, but the people who are faced with this vast project and know that doing it will involve not just risking death, but will involve losing time on their life if you survive.
And the failure state for this problem is so vast nobody is going to tell you.
There is a heroic impossibility to Chernobyl as an incident.
It was a task that led to a generation of mobilised people hand-crafting lead baskets to wear around their scrotums as they wandered through the forest and gave themselves PTSD destroying all signs of life to save the world, to give themselves lifetime doses of radiation, to expose themselves to cancer and leukemia and terrible, terrible end points over years.
Anyway, it’s interesting to think about in the context of people not wanting to wear masks.
Check the podcast out. Apparently Mazin’s a real jerk, but it’s still interesting to hear him explaining choices in the construction of a dramatisation of a documentary.
Hey, do you know about this whacky famous videogame bug?
Back in Civilisation, a video game on the PC, yes, that thing, and also on platforms like the SNES. In this game, you pilot a nation, with your character — and all the other characters you play against — being famous representatives of important historical leaders. So if you play the Americans, you get Abe Lincoln, if you play the Romans, you get ‘Caesar’ (who is probably Julius), and so on. These come with some degree of personality, like Shaka of the Zulus and Genghis of the Mongols aren’t the same kind of leaders as Elizabeth of England and Stalin of Russia. It’s not exactly a well-framed kind of thing, where for example, Genghis’ leadership doesn’t result in a heavily military weirdly communist mix, and Elizabeth is seen as favouring ‘democracy’ for some reason.
Anyway, the idea is that there’s this bug in the game, where at some point, Gandhi, the leader of the Indian civilisation flips his wig and starts threatening to nuke the shit out of you in every conversation.
This is because, the lore goes, that every leader has an aggressiveness rating from 1 to 10. If you become a Democracy (which the Indians favour), your aggression score goes down by 2. Suddenly, Gandhi’s 1 becomes a 0 then becomes a negative 1 which in this does a classic computer fliparound and became a 255 and suddenly Ghandi is twenty five times more aggressive than the most murdery murderer who ever murders.
It’s not true, mind you.
This just literally isn’t true. In Civilisation, there’s no such rule that works this way.
First, the types of numbers stored in Civilisation don’t do this kind of fliparound thing. It’s something to do with whether the number knows how to sign their names, but the basics is: Civilisation Doesn’t Have This Kind Of Bug.
Second, in Civilisation, leaders don’t have a rating of 1 to 10. They have a simple three settings; Peaceful, Neutral, or Aggressive. That is: Civilisation Doesn’t Have That Kind of Rating.
And then there’s also that in Civilisation, changing your government doesn’t change the way the AI works. That is: Civilisation Doesn’t Even Work The Way This Bug Describes.
Now this is probably a bummer for you. After all, the Nuclear Gandhi meme is a fun one! It teaches people a little bit about how computers work, about the ways that they can behave in odd ways, and it explains a behaviour you may kind of remember in this game or another game like it, where someone you associate with peaceful civil disobedience being an aggressively belligerent asshole just jars. It’s a great little narrative, and the bug gets to explain the narrative, and all of that is unfortunately hindered by literally none of it being true, and relying on people not actually understanding anything they’re talking about, but also, in that very 4chan way, it is a rumour that you could start if you only seemed to understand the game a tiny bit more than someone else.
Incidentally, Gandhi wouldn’t nuke people aggressively. If the Indians in the game developed nuclear weapons, he would assert before any peace offering that his words were backed by nuclear weapons as the music kicked into high gear, but he’d still always offer a peace treaty, because his setting was peaceful.
But I may have destroyed Nuclear Gandhi in your mind.
But don’t worry, I can give you a replacement, if you don’t mind reading beyond the fold.
And now we get to the so-often this year, fold with Content Warning: Nazis!Continue Reading →
Content Warning: The Columbine shootings, and also, inevitably, Nazis.Continue Reading →
Have you read the work of Sutter Caine?
this is real.
This is a real thing that happens.
Content Warning: Lovecraftian horror, Kingian horror, medical imprisonment, a dog is injured in this movie, suicide and axe murder, destruction of consensus reality, and body horror (both in movie and out).
I’ll also spoil the whole thing within two paragraphs. Like, I’m not going to mess around here.Continue Reading →
Last year, my sister told me that Edgar Allan Poe was from southern Virginia, and so he should not have a posh, British-style accent, but a southern one.
Welcome, welcome, welcome, boils ghouls and nondinary fools~! Welcome, welcome, welcome to the press dot invincible dot ink blog where horror and thriller and spooky material is all getting stuffed into the month of October. It’s some lighthearted funny spooks, but there’s also some more deep and heavy horrifying material to grapple with.
What can you expect? Well, I’m going to look at some horror games in the Game Pile; horror movies and manga in the Story Pile. But in addition to that, the remaining posts of the month are going to bubble and teem with nasty, creepy horrors of media, of the way we treat one another, or the way games treat one another. That means we’re going to talk about things that we accept as horrifying in one way, and instead turning them so we can see different horror cut through it. We’re going to talk a little about a beloved (by other people) historical figure. There’s going to be some more talk about assets and game design, and maybe a chat about horror in world building choices, and maybe even a new horrifying group of monster-people for D&D.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to use this as an excuse to drop you into nasty topics. There will still be content warnings and folds, and I hope you can appreciate, if I slip up in this case, it’s a product of a mistake, not out of any attempt to manipulate and hurt you.
The term I wield for this month is deliberately dread, rather than horror, because if you’ve looked back on previous Dread Months, there have been some really good horror movies and series, things that are designed to make you clutch your chest and brace with the horror of them. But there have also been things like ‘oh wow, the Goosebumps movie is better than I expected.’ Then there’s stuff where I have confronted a grim thought or two, like the time I considered how the trajectory of my life matched the trajectory of historical serial killers.
Welcome to Dread month!
Hey, do you remember Bloodborne? That critically acclaimed internationally successful videogame made by longstandingly successful company From Soft that I looked at and gave you the useful insight that it wasn’t actually that good and it serves as a symbol of how we are sycophantic towards games for idiotic fears of hurting those games’ feelings? That game that was a solid 7/10 but only the reviews of the people who have sunk all the sunk costs count, meaning it’s elevated to special uncriticisable place in the pantheon of videogames as somehow being ‘near perfect’ despite being incredibly janky and failure-prone? The game that has an aesthetic I love, but which disappointed me immensely?
Yeah, that, it’s back, and in card game form!Continue Reading →