Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Farewell to the Forests, Farewell to the Torrents (LANCER setting)

I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to snow on the mountain. But when I look up, 
saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don't cut that one.
I don't cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,
an unseen nest
where a mountain 
would be

Despite the Best Efforts of my Biggest Haters

I am still alive.

Also, my real-life friends want me to run a LANCER game. There are several things about this that worry me. I will enumerate them:
  1. I have not thought about Tabletop Role-Playing Games in any productive (as opposed to lazily, purely consumptive) manner in well over a year, and am massively intellectually unprepared for anything approaching a Creative Endeavour
  2. My friends have a high opinion of me and aren't sandbox-B/X-brained OSR layabouts and thus expect some sort of detailed Setting and/or Story
  3. I don't know shit about LANCER

That's okay. I have played at least one Video Game and I am going to Cheat, and Lie, and I will never be punished

Here's a prayer for the body buried by the interstate
Mother of a soldier
A tree in a forest up in flames
Black valley, peace beneath the city
Where the women hear the washboard rhythm in their bosom when they say
"Give me good legs
And a Japanese car
And show me a road"

This is the map for Elden Ring, the fifth—or seventh, depending on how you count 'em—game in the critically acclaimed (I assume, I don't pay attention to critics) Kings' Field series of Japanese Videogames, and the first one in it that I played or liked at all.

LANCER is a rules-heavy small-force cooperative skirmish wargame dressed up as (and grafted to a vestigial version of) a tabletop rpg, much-but-not-exactly like Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition or Chainmail II, which is the same thing but exists only in my head, and somewhat less like but still similar to Pathfinder 2nd Edition, I think, at least in action economy and general visual layout, I don't know, I haven't read it. I personally think it works quite well as one of those (rules-heavy small-force cooperative skirmish wargame) and rather terribly as a tabletop rpg. 

This works out pretty well when you intend to steal and pilfer and thieve from a from software action, rpg, because those spend a lot of time on Fights and a little on exploration and have some Sad, Giant Men and Weird ,Unhelpful Fuckers and OSR Aesthetics Of Ruin to spice things up along the way, a rhythm I think would lend itself well to LANCER. Perchance.

Furthermore, clever readers will note that the map has a big glowy thing in the middle. You know what else has a big glowy thing in the middle? That's right. Solar systems. And you know where LANCER is set? Yeah. Space. It's all coming together, baby.

There's a forest on whose branches, 
    Stretching forth like withered arms, 
Clusters hang of fruit that blanches
    In the sun — but never warms.
'Neath the leaves are ravens tenting,
    Kites are hovering on the wing
Round-about, the harvest scenting,
    In the orchard of the King
Ye who love or pity cherish
    Come not near these laden boughs,
Here must hearts in terror perish
    Or to rebel thoughts arouse.
What's this sound the wind is bringing?
    Do the foul birds dare sing?
'Tis the croak of corpses swinging
    In the orchard of the King.

So we can generate cute little planets with a website as long as we time our use of the snipping tool correctly to get them in good lighting, and google image search "low poly sun" and "low poly tree" and "low poly space station" and so on for the others, and put it all together in photo shop with a little violet prose. Assume these planets are star wars style: Lava Planet, Ice Planet, Lake Planet, Grass Planet, Cursed Poison Swamp Planet ,et cetera. One to four or so important locations each, five tops. Happily that also works out to how many the game's got if you ignore minidungeons. I'm crushing Weeping Peninsula and Limgrave together because they look the same and the castle is the only interesting thing in Weeping Peninsula.

We're stealing the tone, too. This is a cursed system, long forgotten or abandoned, populated by withered husks in creaking hardsuits grown together with one another over long centuries, the Giant, Sad Men so bountiful in soulsgame population. Lots of tree-theme. Weird fucking merchants—actually, I think those are already LANCER canon. Easy.

The players, I want to fuck with the tone of as little as possible, so I don't have to redact or correct anything present in the player book. With that in mind I suppose they're regular Union lancers in service of the Administration, sent to make dangerous First Contact with this supposed ancient colony, and when they appear in a dark hole on Fascimile it's a surprise; intercepted—killed instantly—by an anomalous blinkspace effect, probably related to the fact that there's a giant space tree growing over the local gate. They wake up as subjectivity-overridden flash clone in some sort of pirate lab, ticking the box of soulsgame protagonists being undead and likely explaining some of the corruption undergone by the rest of the populace.

The stated 'goal' of the campaign after that point is escape—or at the very least finding a way to get word back to headquarters.

I left the Elden Ring map in there at like 3% opacity, as a little treat. Little Eastere'd Egg. Private little joke just for me, that I can point to if and when my players figure out what I'm doing.

What miracle is this? This giant tree.
It stands ten thousand feet high
But doesn't reach the ground. Still it stands.
Its roots must hold the sky.

I don't know! Fuck! I do this in vain hope, I suppose, that this kindles the cold, dormant spark of Editing (not Creativity, that one's all-the-way extinguished or maybe never existed in the first place) in ym Brain and I can finally think RPG thoughts agaibnm, g_d fucking willing. In which case I guess there might be Posts in it, for you. Not necessarily related ones, just ones with a frequency greater than whatever the gap is between now and September of 2021.

Also, I might try to post play reports or mech stats for elden bosses or something, purely as a masturbatory exercise.

Our piss will fertilize next year’s zinnias as we rut atop decaying tomato vines. Eating out each puckered cavity, draining one another of all sweet salty goo. Ah, what a joy it is to recline with you in the sex forest.