Birthday Quiet

We had a new mattress delivered yesterday, and it was taking no prisoners, so aside from briefly awaking for coffee and presents, my birthday morning was largely spent in bed.

I have books, art supplies, and food and drink and am currently curled up on the sofa considering going back to bed.

I’ve also had a huge number of people saying nice things and wishing me well on social media, which has been humbling because I really don’t track how many people’s lives I touch on. Useful to bear in mind when feeling small.

Anyway, nothing exciting today, and that has been sorely needed of late.

Murphy’s Law Day

I knew today was going to be a pain when I got up and couldn’t put a t-shirt on properly, put both legs into one trouser leg, and promptly dropped the first thing I tried to pick up.

It hasn’t disappointed. Anything physical today has been blighted by clumsiness, causing more frustration that has led to haste that has led to more things either dropped or seeming to adopt a “sod you” recalcitrance designed to drive me further up the wall.

In the end this led to me having to climb into the communal bins to gather up the contents of bin liners that had split and spilled everywhere. So I’ve gone and had a lie down on our new mattress.

Tomorrow is my birthday, its going to be much better.

Still Tidying

I’ve managed to get the general mess and piles of things to be recycled vs thrown out down to more manageable levels today: specifically near enough that its now needing me to set a pace to continue it rather than say “that’ll do”

Whenever I weaken I look at how much better the corner I started with is, and do some more. My reward has been to then let myself do some more drawing, or to do some prep for Sunday.

Not much more to do

Cathartic Clearout

I bought the first piece of new furniture for our flat since we finalised buying it: a standard lamp with shelving. It arrived today and I spent a quick twenty minutes or so assembling it – and then clearing a space for it to live.

This meant steeling myself to start digging into the huge piles of cds and dvds that had taken over a corner of the living room. Many of them were items I’d bought when I wasn’t well, and I compulsively bought a great many things at the time.

There are items we’re keeping, certain classics for example, and comedian sets, but there are many more that neither of us have looked at in ten, or in some cases, twenty years – so in the bin they’ve gone.

I could have sold them on in non-lockdown circumstances, but I needed them gone – and it’s been oddly cathartic to get rid of impromptu reminders of painful times. There’s still more to go through, so that’ll keep me busy spring-cleaning tomorrow.

Short Story: Coal

In his dreams, Coal hears screams and the clink of chains rattling and sliding. Formless flashes of colour resolve into a series of static and disjointed scenes. His mind and body feel trapped in ice, unable to move or affect the parade of images forcing themselves on his mind’s eye. A cold lassitude lies on him, stealing his focus.

He sees the Last War, and the fighting in the streets against the risen dead. He remembers the sorcerous warriors clad in bone. The maniacs who slew the living and commanded their corpses, and the hatred in their eyes. He sees the Titans released. He sees buildings broken, bodies everywhere. He knows them.

Then he sees a face with horns curving from its temples. He hears shouts. He hears metal striking metal and the crackle of flames, and his eyes grow heavy.

Coal wakes. He is in a bed, limbs tangled in blankets and sheets. That alone gives him pause. Waking implies sleep and his kind don’t do that. Yet here he is, in a room he knows but rarely rests in.

Every part of him hurts. The enamels and brass-inlaid surfaces of his limbs are cracked, scorched, and riddled with holes. His joints whirr and crunch as he levers himself upright. His body, forged to fight where flesh would fail, has been greatly abused.

The cottonwool thickness shrouding his thoughts still lingers, deflecting his mind’s streams of awareness. The lenses in his eyes suddenly click and refocus, and with new purpose he pulls the sheet away.

The revealed wreckage of his body leaves him numb. There are rents in the steel plates, and missing panels that reveal damaged conduits, pistons, and cables woven to resemble bundles of muscles. There are scratches and gouges everywhere, and the discoloured blooms of scorching. What has happened?

Coal prods and tests the limits of the damage to his body in the morning half-light. With dispassionate care, he ascertains that he is functional and will heal. The act of assessing his own state allows his mind to start to catch up.

He remembers being restrained by dead things with the faces of friends. He remembers the bite of blades, and tubes being driven into him. He remembers the pale wight directing the corpses, and a man dressed in bones. He remembers the other two figures – warforged like himself – telling the wight what needed to be done.

Above all, he remembers the carcass of the reassembled Titan and what they did to him, and why.

His scream startles a cat-sized dragon snoozing in the rafters and it flees the room as fast as its butterfly wings can carry it.

He hears cries of alarm downstairs. Feet pound on the stairs. He is not alone.

The DDC Game Design Theme

We had a great session today, bringing to a head the mystery of where Coal had disappeared to and what had happened to his former compatriots. Last week had brought the group to a war damaged slum, and the zombified remnants of the gang, and a wight that controlled them.

And then this week, as they thinned the waves of zombies out, the wall next to them came down revealing a roughly rebuilt Warforged Titan – a towering engine of destruction from the Last War – which had Coal patched and embedded in it as a jury-rigged power source.

And they fought among the ruins, fighting their fears for Coal, and were triumphant. The wight escaped, but they were able to rescue their companion. A huge victory, all the better for the emotional investment for everyone.

And it’s those connections I’ve been watching build, and encouraging as we go that rises to the queer experience of this set of adventures. There’s an underlying theme of the consciously built family in place of their various fractured backgrounds.

All the characters are outsiders and have bonded together in mutual support and love, but they are adventurers first and foremost. The characters original backgrounds are now being developed with new connections, and I’m enjoying weaving those into the story and hearing my players reactions.

Hearing my description of Coal being literally forcibly enfolded and assimilated into this relic of the military and wars he had fought so hard to reinvent himself away from, there were gasps around the table. There may also have been joking threats from myr s of what might happen if Coal died.

Music to my ears. Passion and determination fought fear and desperation this evening for stakes that felt important to everyone around the table. The discovered family fought the clutches of the abusive past, and won.

Well That Was A Week

Somehow it has already been a week since Lady M had her surgery, and I’m pleased to say she is generally recovering well. She still keeps wanting to dive back to work, which tells you everything you need to know about how unwell and uncomfortable she was that being immediately post major surgery she was feeling well enough in comparison to think all was okay.

A slow pace has been enforced, marked by cups of tea and sessions playing on the xbox. There has even been embroidering on a cosplay on one slow evening. The smile is back, the giggle is back, occasionally there is a wince.

So, so far so good

DDC Returns this weekend

Game night returns this weekend now that Lady M is more recovered from her surgery. It will be streamed as usual on Twitch and YouTube from 7.30ish on Sunday. There’s a link in the main menu to the YouTube channel if anyone is curious.

Last time, the session ended with a pitched battle in a slum rookery, with zombies swarming the group. A slender unidentified undead warrior had been glimpsed before being scared away by Kerne’s illusions. As he retreated he was heard calling to someone to “rouse the titan!” And shortly afterwards the sound of something heavy could be heard pounding on a nearby wall.

So that’s where we’ll pick up on Sunday.

Maps

I said I’d get started, and so I did. In the Games and Gaming section, reachable from the menu at the top of the page, there are now links to maps suitable for use in virtual tabletops. Most are pretty bare to allow for variety in setting further props and furniture tokens, and are accompanied by notes for intended or past use.

The links to various past and present games are also there for delving into for ideas and narratives.