Sunday, September 27, 2015

My alter ego joins the fray in IHMN

Red Airship, artist unknown, according to io9

First I saw that Craig and Charles had period alter egos, and then, somewhere along the way, Craig published their stats. (This was over on the Lead Adventure Forum.)

Then, in a series of exchanges, Craig addressed me as both Sir and Captain, even giving me the nickname "Jackanapes."

A character began taking shape in my head. One who is pretty much me, or the me I'd be in my Brass & Blood setting. 

This creative cogitation also led to the birth of a singular vehicle that is a character and a setting in its own right. 

Thus I present to you, me. Sort-of me. Steampunk me, I suppose. 

Allow me to introduce Sir Christopher L. "Jackanapes" Sheets, captain of the Fretful Porpentine. 

The Fretful Porpentine and its captain, 
Sir Christopher L. "Jackanapes" Sheets

The Fretful Porpentine is the first aethercarrier, a gargantuan experimental airbase on a flying platform held aloft by a combination of multiple dirigibles, rampant steamtech, cutting-edge Tesla-based arc technology, Martian lighter-than-air materials and, if rumors are to be believed, some few necessary forms of ritual magick.

In addition to its methods of staying aloft and navigating the skies, the Porpentine has mounted beneath it two cyclopean temporal drive screws, allowing it to alter its position relative to the current history or timeline dominant in the realspace around it. Members of the Watch report that the Porpentine has long been circling above London and is chronally anchored in or around the year 1898. 

It is unknown who commissioned the Porpentine, or when. Its current captain, Sir Christopher Leopold* "Jackanapes" Sheets, is mum on the subject. 

While he continues to answer to the title of captain, Sheets has, since seeing the premiere of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera "The Mikado" in 1885, taken to signing official documents and communiques with the title "Lord High Everything Else." 

While Sheets is the source of the neologism "aethercarrier" to describe the Porpentine, he has expressed regret that the description "quadrigible," which he also coined, never became part of the common parlance.

To comprehend the true size of the Porpentine, consider this: Sheets has boasted that he commands the only known craft that has its own horizon. 

The Fretful Porpentine began as a simple refit-and-repair dock for the various airship crews lucky enough to learn of its existence. The cantina aboard became a popular feature with aircrews and sky pirates, who then let valuable secrets, information and rumors flow out as the rum flowed in.

The cantina does have a name, though few know or notice it. There are no signs on the building’s exterior. Inside, a small plaque is screwed to a supporting post over near the kitchen. It bears the single sentence, “You Meet in a Tavern.”

Since its early days, the Porpentine's features and fittings have grown into a worthy port of call, boasting all the functions of a small town. It provides neutral ground for those visiting it, and it is not uncommon to see sworn enemies drinking and singing together within the confines of the cantina. 

Sheets says his hardest task is finding a suitable command crew, as the unique systems of the Porpentine require, at a minimum, a set of psychically linked quadruplets to handle her navigational demands and a chief engineer capable of repairing technologies not yet invented. 

Sheets claims, by training and heritage, to be an initiate of several mystical and priestly orders. He is, at least, a veteran of several esoteric encounters aboard the Porpentine, though whether his success has been due to some praeternatural skill or sheer luck is a matter of some debate.

Captain Sir Christopher L. "Jackanapes" Sheets
Pluck 5+, FV +0, SV +0, Sp 0, Armor 8, Cost 70
Talents/Powers: Erudite Wit, Inspirational, Leadership +2, Intervention, Bless Person, Bless Weapon
Basic Kit: Faraday Coat, English All-Electric Truncheon, Arc Pistol, Breath Preserver, Monocular Targeting Array

* It should be noted that Sheets' middle name is in a constant state of flux. Usually he reports it as Lee, but it has also been recorded as Leopold, Leonidas, Llewellyn, Ludwig, Lehrer, Latson, Lane, Laurent, Lake, LeFebvre, Loeb, Lyzbet, Lechkov and once, unbelievably, Lickspittle.

*          *          *

I find it a measure of my vanity that the character based on me costs as much as Craig and Charles' characters put together. In my defense, those gentlemen have actual experience with weapons and can shoot and fight just as well as their stats say. I can also shoot and fight just as well as these stats indicate, which is not at all. Thus all the skills designed to keep him alive!

I've already found a miniature to represent the good captain.

It's Isaias Cortez from Anvil Industries, and he's part of their sci-fi Afterlife line. A few modifications ("stick some gears on it") and it'll be right as rain. That ocular implant around his left eye is going to become an eyepatch (the good captain's monocular targeting array sits in his eye socket, under his patch, which he flips up when he's in combat. It's been linked directly to his optic nerve through a horrible surgical process which he prefers not to discuss, thank you very much.)

Some of this figure's cybertech on the back of his head will get smoothed or painted over. And that big gun in his right hand is going to become a just-for-looks grappling gun. Or maybe not just for looks. Of course, new gear would alter the good captain's cost. Hmmmm. Are there rules in IHMN for grappling guns? We did hash out those net gun rules that Craig said he'd likely put into Gothic ...

Anyway, that coat, the boots, the beard -- they're exactly the look I was hoping for.

I'll be mining this rich vein for a while, although I've left details of what's on the Porpentine intentionally vague so others may develop it as they wish. I've done some preliminary work on the command crew, but they've got to percolate for a few more weeks at least before I share them.

Next up is most likely the Plague Doctor, like I promised last time, The good news is that he's gained a couple of ancillary characters, so I may be writing up a whole Plague Doctor crew.

Copies of the character document, with a proper grid for stats and without all the introductory and concludary hoo-haa, are available on Google Docs or on Dropbox.

Back to the boards, everyone, and I'll see you across the table soon.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

My pathetic plea

<This is repeated from a Facebook post I made, in the hopes that one or the other will make its way to someone who can make my twisted heart's desire an actuality.>

Do you see this thing of beauty? It's a key fob for the Hotel Cortez, the building at the heart of the new season of American Horror Story. (Screen captured from the "First Look" two-minute video.)

"AHS: Hotel" debuts at 10 p.m. Oct. 7.  SOMEONE MAKE ME ONE OF THESE KEY FOBS!

Oh, but it is a picture of Art Deco loveliness, and that it will be associated with a hotel that is itself the villain of a season of horror stories (ruled over by no less than the Countess, portrayed by Our Mother of Monsters, the Lady Gaga herself), I find myself positively engorged with desire for this nasty little piece of hardware.

You jewelry crafters/makers out there, hear me? I NEED THIS.

Surely one of you loves me and will make them available, nicht wahr? Oh puh-leeeze ...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Dice junkies

I know we're all addicted to dice and can never have enough. Although I certainly lean toward steampunk gaming most of the time, I do still play the occasional sci-fi game. And for that, I need sci-fi dice. 

I backed a Kickstarter from a company called AKO Dice, and after a rigorous production period ensuring the dice are true, the rewards came in and they are gorgeous

Rather than pips, the number rolled is indicated by lines of varying direction and length. 

I chose the brushed aluminum, gold tone, purple and black with silver, plus the glow-in-the-dark with black stripes pair. (There was supposed to be a black with glowing stripes, but it didn't hold up its quality in production, apparently.) 

I think they have a definite Space Agency, Galactic Authority, System-spanning bureaucratic multicorps feel to them, sort of just as pure pulp is moving into the blockbuster feel of '70s and '80s sci-fi. 

So back to the boards, everyone, and I'll see you across the table soon (with my shiny new sci-fi dice!)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

This post is entirely optional

Especially if you follow me on Facebook, as you'll have heard a few of these tidbits already.


You know how people ask you who's your captain, and people answer either Kirk or Picard, or perhaps Sisko or Janeway.

I always answer Bashford. Unless the person who asked the question is also into steampunk or dieselpunk, I regularly get stared at.

Capt. Constance Bashford, right, with, as she puts it, a "big part" of the crew
of Airship the Peregrine, Cas Hofstee and Emma McMurphy. 

But she's my captain, and I'm sticking to it. Capt. Constance Bashford of Airship the Peregrine commands my loyalty and service. Were I not a married gentleman, she might also command a small piece of my heart, but sorry cap'n, this old jackanapes is taken.

It's been like heartburn to know that she was visiting DragonCon, a mere 90 minutes or so up the road from me, over the holiday weekend, but that I would be stuck here working. So close, and yet so far.

(As many wonderful people as I've gotten to know online, I love it that it was the Captain who first reached out to me when she saw I'd written about her RAFM mini on this very blog. The conversation continues to this day. For example, I'm always glad to have her making sure I'm all right, as evidenced by this tweet.)

Here's a photo she shared on her FB page today from DragonCon in Atlanta..

Capt. Constance and Derek Brown, of the band Abney Park (and others) and main squeeze
of Kate Lambert (whom you might know as Kato, who's a judge on GSN's "Steampunk'd."

The captain's calendar is coming out, and I hope you were lucky enough to get your orders in. I hope to have mine in my grubby mitts in a week or so, but here are a couple of photos Sean leaked to us upon their arrival:

She's something, ain't she? She's got an Etsy shop that's taking a short hiatus as she visits the U.S. from her home in the Netherlands.


Speaking of beautiful, multi-hyphenated women at work in the fields of our beloved genres of fantasy, science fiction and horror, I finally got to exchange personal messages with actress-model-artist-entrepreneuer Jen Page, whom many of you may have first encountered in The Gamers' movie "Dorkness Rising," in which she was the female Luster.

Jen created the chilling Cthulhuesque mermaid image above and held a contest for signed 4x6 prints of it. And I won one! (Kermit clap!)

This animated GIF should show Kermit clapping.
If it doesn't, use your imagination.

Getting to exchange messages with someone whose work (and work ethic) I so admire is as big a prize as the print itself. Go check out her mermaid and other imagery at her Etsy store, Damselfin.


And here's what I consider my personal best from Facebook this week:

1.) This, um, emotional entry about how thankful I am for each one of you, and the magic you have wrought in my topsy-turvy life through your prayers, your time and attention. If you want to read it, here's the link.

2.) This photo, of the T-shirt I won from teevillain, with both Carol Anne from "Poltergeist" pressing against the TV and Samara (or Sadako, if you're more familiar with the original "Ringu") coming out of it. The Samara part glows in the dark, but that's really hard to take a picture of.

3.) And this post:

I am especially fond of words in English that we normally think of as nouns but can also be verbs. Like leverage. Or silence. Or fist.
Posted by Christopher Sheets on Friday, September 4, 2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

He Who Laughs

Today I bring to you another company list for "In Her Majesty's Name."

If you follow Craig's main IHMN blog, you'll have seen his list for a certain Dark Knight and his retinue. Every hero needs a nemesis, and the bat-winged one certainly has one in the guise of a psychotic killer clown.

Lovely sketch by Leonardo Paciarotti I found using Google's image search.

A few weeks ago I showed you the mini of a Victorian Villain sculpted by Vermis over on the Lead Adventure Forum. With two alternate heads, he can be the classic Man Who Grins or echo more recent manifestations of the Joker after having his face removed and reattached. 

A very crisp painted version of He Who Laughs (as I call him) that Vindice shared in a thread on LAF.

Also found on the LAF, this painted version of the Man Who Grins shows the alternate head.

(There's a thread following the development of what are hoped to be the next two figures, a "Dark Knight Returns"-style bat fellow and Spring-Heeled Jack.)

This was the original Victorian Vigilante figure from Vermis. Again, Vindice's paint job, and photo lifted from one of the response threads about the minis.

And where would the clown prince of crime be without his Harley? I had to stat up a version of her, seen through my particular screampunk lens. One of the Ronin figures from Malifaux is often given a Harley paint job, as is Lady Taelor (since she wields a big ole hammer).

From GMort's Chaotica, painting attributed to a "Matt,"
which could be Matt Slade, but I don't know for sure.
To fill out the company, I've gone with generic "Family" followers to account for the various thugs, hangers-on and crazy folks that Harley's puddin' uses in his schemes. Shades of Manson, as well. It is intentional.

Ditto on this paint job. GMort gave away a prize, and the winner chose the ME2 Viktorias from Malifaux and had his friend Matt paint them. We have  now exhausted my knowledge on their provenance.

So here are links to a pdf of the company list for the man I call He Who Laughs, the Smiler, and Mr. Sardonicus. I hope you enjoy. One is in Google Drive, the other in Dropbox.

Next up, I'll bring you my twisted (more like tangled) take on the Plague Doctor. I've already started writing.

So back to the boards, everyone, and I'll see you across the table soon.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

My own tormented artifact

You're all familiar with the work of Dmitri Arbacauskas, right?

If not, head over to his site at Tormented Artifacts. I'll wait.

He's a master craftsman with leather, and his sense of humor tends toward the morbid and bizarre. Check out the humorous broadsides he prints that include propaganda from the "League of Extraordinary Bastards."

Here's an example for those of you who ignored my earlier advice:

He's a Facebook friend of mine now, though ours has been a relationship confined to digital space thus far. I've been a fan of his work for a long time, but we first corresponded when he got rather, um, snarky that I, not him, won some zombie clown figures from Mad Clown Miniatures. (I think that was the contest. Right, Dmitri?) I felt so bad that I told him I'd get him to craft me the Plague Doctor mask I need later this year.

In the mode of daytime TV shows, here's one he prepared earlier:

Follow your nose. It always knows.

Dmitri is at Galacticon 4 in Seattle this weekend, and look what happened. I don't think he'll mind me lifting this from his Facebook feed:

For those of you suffering head trauma, that's the gorgeous Dmitri flanked by the equally gorgeous Claudia Christian of "Babylon 5" fame. My jealousy knows no bounds. She will always be Ivanova, the right hand of vengeance, to me. God sent her.

Well, Dmitri is moving house right now and has shut down custom orders through his shop for a brief time. When he announced that, I decided to slip in under the wire and place an order for something he calls an "exorcist's hand wrap."

The one thing I asked is that, instead of the Thelemite magical symbol he showed on the catalog piece, I wanted the Yellow Sign on mine. I'm indifferent to Crowley but an ardent subject of the King in Yellow. My madness protects me.

It arrived super-quickly and, let me tell you, I was blown away. Knowing he's an honorable and upright artist, I expected the piece to be well made. What I did not predict was the superior quality of the components and the exquisite attention to detail. The photos on Dmitri's web site, though accurate, do not do this piece justice. There's no way my wonky pics are going to show you how wonderful this is, but trust me, it is great. I intend to get another one very, very soon. I'm thinking of getting the runic version of the Elder Sign on it.

Ignore my sexy Medic Alert bracelet below the hand wrap.

Tell me, have you seen the Yellow Sign?

There it is, right there. That's the Yellow Sign. Now you've seen it. So I can stop asking.

I don't know what this glyph under the buckles is, but I like it. Looks like an eye, looks like a globe.
Who knows? Dmitri, I guess, but I haven't bothered to ask.

I especially love that the handwrap leaves my fingers free for typing but does a great job of hiding the hideous wounds and scars that criss-cross the back of my left hand.

This is great quality leather. It smells SO GOOD. It's supple yet strong, and Dmitri's design work and edging really stand out. The hardware is of top quality. These are not the kind of notions you pick up at the corner craft store. These top-quality rivets, buckles and rings possess genuine heft and hardiness.

This is not a piece of a costume. This is an article of clothing. I've worn it every day since receiving it to get it broken in, and it already fits my hand almost exactly, curve for curve, and is nearly to the point where it seems weightless, that I don't feel it at all.

Based on this evidence, I can only say that Dmitri is a master fleshcrafter of the highest order, and I'm honored to own this product of his labor, and even more honored to call him my friend.

Thanks again, Dmitri, and you'll see another order from me cross your transom shortly.

OK, that's it for today. Back to the boards, everybody, and I'll see you across the table soon.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Penny Dreadful: the Summing Up

Hello me droogies, I'm back with real horrorshow content about a real horror show.

OK, I'm crap at imitating Alex's speech patterns from "A Clockwork Orange." But I do have what I hope is the final version of the Season 2 stats for the "Penny Dreadful" company for IHMN.

This is what, the fourth iteration of these stats? I think we're done tinkering until next season rolls around, when I plan to do a whole new list. I daresay our characters will be much changed and will warrant a good rethink. The producers have also said they've going to introduce another literary character to the show. I wonder who that will be. Any guesses?

The few changes I made this time are based on the finale, so while I'm not intentionally spoiling any details, I don't want to ruin the ending for anyone who's not yet seen it. Maybe steer clear until you've watched it.

I felt we had to up Brona/Lily's FV given how she tosses John around. I also armed her with the same "Terrible Blow" he has, which is equivalent to a walker's steam claw.

I also bumped Mr. Kyle's shooting value to +1 given how he came through with that little derringer in some rather adverse circumstances.

And last but not least is the Tome of the Scorpion, my name for the book Vanessa inherits from her teacher, the Cut-Wife. It's a relic, akin to the regalia Akhenaton hunts. It would make a great prize for a scenario, but it is so powerful I would severely limit its availability. As it is, I've tried to mimic its effects from the show while still making it playable.

So here are links to the PDF, one in Google Drive, and one in Dropbox.

I'll also put a copy in the Files section of the Facebook group.

That's it for now, folks. Back to the boards, and your good and faithful narrator will see you across the table soon.