Sorry for the delay folks, but I have been struggling to keep up with my new existence as a cog in the corporate machine. But fear not! They thought that just by taking all my time and energy they could defeat me, but no! I have returned to you, my dear imaginary readers! And I fully intend to get back to giving you your one delicious blog post a week.
But first, announcements.
The first is that I’m splitting my attention. In addition to this blog, my roleplaying sector is going to be moving over to my shiny new home of actual play podcasting, Liberation Industries. So if you’re sticking around for fun stuff like Changelings of the Outer West and my gaming projects, they will be relocating there.
But project enthusiasts, fear not! My super secret project is coming near to its fruition, and some of its dark fruit will naturally blossom to you in the next few weeks.
So thanks for hanging around, imaginary readers.
And for what its worth, the soy cheese was terrible.
And I feel if you come away from a circus feeling like that then they’ve done their jobs.
I hadn’t seen Circus Oz before, but I would recommend their current Melbourne show. Cast in the shadow of ruins out of Ozymandius, or its nearest circus equivalent, my partner and I had our collective socks knocked off by these stellar performers.
Personal highpoints included a German Wheel routine in which a man resembling a Scottish Wolverine defied gravity for heavy metal infused minutes on end, and a static trapeze routine there’s around narcolepsy, which is exactly as tense as it sounds. In another brilliant touch, the performers cycled between the band and the centre stage effortlessly, showing off a fantastic breadth of talent.
If anything felt a little laboured, it was the beginning of a consumerism themed sub plot, but these naturally suffer for inertia. It built nicely between other acts to a manic, creepy, bar coded, spruiker fueled explosion of theatrical chaos.
So imaginary Melbournites! If you have a night free, I heartily recommend. You’ll be smashing situps and flying about on any geometric shapes you can lay your grabby mits on. Hm, there might be some merit in that… I wonder if I can market that as an exercise scheme…
I mean, there’s the obvious stuff. The lack of convenience, the obnoxious McMansions, the neighbours who won’t even say hello to each other when their out walking their dogs. More recently I’ve come to associate them with exhaustion, hunger, and vengeful ankle pain.
You see, my dear imaginary readers, yours truly has taken to selling light bulbs door to door to make ends meet.
Well, that’s not strictly true. I’ve been trying to give them away for free, complete with a qualified electrician to install them, which makes sense in the context of the State of Victoria’s emissions reduction scheme. This has been harder than it sounds.
That’s mostly because we’re clearly not the first to have this idea. It becomes difficult to give something away when the recipient already has said thing in abundance. The very selling point of these bulbs is their extremely long life, so with replacement not an option the market dwindles rather rapidly.
So that’s another way in which I feel that the suburbs have sleighted me.
Despite all this, though, returning to the city center still makes me smile. From the Hyatt hotel glowering down on us like a golden parody of a Communist Parliament, to the riverfront dredging up memories of London stowed half a world away, to the church towers nestled beneath the immense glass megaliths surrounding them, like tiny remora between the teeth of a shark. At night the towers ascend into mist like something out of Disney’s Gargoyles, and the city blooms with a sky climbing garden of electric flowers.
I have also been making forays into getting back into radio theatre, for which I will need more material. You’ll know the outcome as soon as I do. I’m not holding out on you guys, just its not something I’m working on alone like the blog.
So that’s more or less where I’m at currently. Having had some decent interviews, I hopefully won’t be pounding the pavement too much longer out in the suburban sprawl. But I’ll keep you posted on that.
And you should have your usual fix come Saturday. Hoping the week’s been nice to y’all.
Well, in the last week I’ve spent about five days driving.
There’s not a whole lot that can be said for that much highway.
But we’ve made it from Melbourne to Canberra to our childhood home in the Blue Mountains, and then back in the same direction.
The long haul through country New South Wales and Victoria is like a churn through Australian colonial folklore. We lunched in Chiltern, a town all too willing to cash in on its proximity to Ironbark, and we found no trace of any barber around. Chiltern is also incidentally one of the few words that has managed to stump me in Articulate.
We took the Road to Gundagai, and found a very quiet small town winding down on a Sunday afternoon, with hills surrounding that reminded me of the monstrous Sentinel Hill in H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror. It wasn’t so worrying, in truth, as Tarcutta, which touts itself as the true centre point between Sydney and Melbourne despite the popular myth being that Canberra was built in such a place, and I have to say the real median has a slow buildup of dereliction that evokes an inland Innsmouth. The place feels haunted for all the traffic it sees, though it stands on the false grounds of a mythic capital that never was.
There’s also about five turnoffs for Wagga Wagga, spread over maybe a hundred kilometers, which is a bit strange. Gives the feeling your going in a big circle.
My insomnia got worse across these myriad towns, though we stayed in familiar places with friends and family. Part of that must have been the strange exhaustion of driving that leaves your mind burned out but your body unable to rest.
There’s Glenrowan too. They have a monochrome image of Ned Kelly in his famous armour on the road sign. We didn’t stop.
Imaginary readers, I wouldn’t usually post something as aggressively referential as this, though I don’t imagine my analysis is anything particularly special.
The point is that this road is a terrifying object, to my mind. You move along it, and you and hammered with the scale of this place when you see just how much colonist culture is crammed into a thin stretch not far off the Eastern seaboard, what a tiny part of this country has provided so many of our stories and how much of our discourse.
There was more than once that I pondered just how much trouble we’d be in, how far we were from help, if the car were to break down along that road. I can cover ten kilometers in an hour at a run. For how many hours, I do not know. You ask yourself if that would be enough. You find yourself asking these questions, or maybe you don’t. Maybe that’s just me.
The land is huge and it is hungry and so many of its stories fail to reach our ears.
Strange how much can be said of a stretch of highway.
Alright, this is something I’ve really enjoyed about Melbourne. A lot of the graffiti is really high quality.
I sort of made a habit of photographing street art during my long sojourn in Canberra, and followed Abyss‘ harlequin tinted, occultish murals wherever I could find them. I think part of the appeal for me has always been the temporary, transient nature of the art itself. Being illegal most of the time, its only a matter of waiting until its either torn down or usurped by something else.
I don’t think the lens captures what the eye sees, but I’ve made a go of it. Without further ado…
A lot of folks have taken to decorating council breaker boxes.
But, as ever, the wall remains the favoured medium of operation.
Got some audacious stuff in there. It should probably go without saying that this isn’t my art, and I don’t actually know who did it. Just thought I’d share it with y’all before it disappears.
Kind of reminds me of a story in Prague, an example of street artists kind of winning out over local council. It may be apocryphal, but hey, most good stories are. There’s a statue – right outside the James Dean American Diner for those who want to find it – probably ten feet tall, a kneeling cubist fertility goddess, all chrome finish. Story I heard says it appeared overnight, and when the council found it they realised they couldn’t afford a rig big enough to move it. So they declared it city property, gave it a plaque, and as far as I know she’s still there.
Interesting thing is that it keeps happening. There’s more than one Kafka themed statue in the city erected without planning permission, which was kept on account of frankly impeccable craftsmanship. Probably a better approach than paying millions for public art of questionable quality, but hey, local councils here tend towards the bureaucratic and stupid, so I’m not surprised. Doesn’t really dull the disappointment, but that’s just the way some of this goes.
Hope y’all like the pictures, dear imaginary readers.
Nutrisoy. Oh boy. You folks have listened to me ramble about cyberpunk, about Shadowrun, and about the weird culinary world they inhabit. So today, we get my first attempt at nutrisoy. Nutrisoy surfaces several times in Shadowrun fiction, though its exact composition is never discussed as far as I’ve read. I know that its something that you eat if your at the lower end of the economic spectrum, and functions as a sort of “all food”, used to replace meat and most other nutrient intake. Certainly designed for survival rather than taste. They don’t give a recipe, but the vague implication is that the product is produced by immense corporate entities, probably using all manner of synthetic nutrient supplements to keep costs down. Being neither a megacorp employee nor a lab tech, I’ve had to improvise. So, now you can meet my ingredients.
Apocalypse lentils! Tasty and easy to prepare, and designed to survive anything up to nuclear fallout. I’ve been gathering a lot of food cans on my zombie runs (see here) so this felt pretty appropriate.
Cryo-spinach! Because if you can’t get hold of synthetic iron and fiber then you may as well dig it outta the freezer where no living thing has any right to grow. After all, we have to keep this in genre.
A capsicum! Or a pepper, depending on where in the world you’re reading from… In honesty I couldn’t think of a way to make this any more genre appropriate… So I settled for mangling it beyond all recognition…
And finally, of course. My Soy. Industrial sized tofu. Now that’s done, we can get into the methodology at play here. Get a handle on that cryo-spinach and toss it into a frypan with some oil and the lentils. If you want to be real road warrior use engine oil. If you want to be alive by the end of this use canola. It will take a bit for the ice to melt. If you are using non-cryo spinach, you will probably need to throw some water in at this point as well. Add brutalised capsicum. Stir and simmer. Regret nothing. Chop the tofu into smaller chunks and dig shallow graves for it in the mixture so it will fry most effectively. Give the interred tofu a bit of a singe so that it can soak up a bit of taste. I will admit that by this point our taste is hovering somewhere between “wilting forest” and “overgrown (ghoul infested?) cemetery”, so I throw in some ground green chilli. Sriracha will do equally well, but you may have noticed I’m angling towards a particular colour scheme for this one. Once its had a chance to cook for a bit, smash the tofu into more manageable chunks. Its at this point that we get industrial on this sorry fusker. Blend it down to a paste, and then return it to a mould of your choice. Since I do not have a corporation issue blender I had to do it in a few batches. So there you have it. As for taste… well, that’s not really what it was designed for. Served over rice it tasted a bit like a barely seasoned salad, though I suppose the “flavour nozzles” we encounter in the fiction are the proposed remedy for that. So; Lessons! First thing I’ll probably do next time is add some colour. Food dye is simple enough, and we get a nice nod to the Paranoia franchise with its colour coded society. As you could probably guess this attempt was meant to be green, but the light brown of the lentils and white of the tofu kind of brought it around to a kind of dull mud. Second, if I’m going to serve this to anybody it will probably need a bit more flavour. Not exactly in line with genre, but if I can get these things tasting better and elegantly packaged then it might have some appeal. Maybe in vending machines. Probably tied to the colour code… yellow would be curry. Green… maybe another kind of curry. Maybe introducing some fried bread products into the mix would allow a richer taste without compromising the basic idea of it… And finally, I think I need some sort of setting agent, but wouldn’t really want to use eggs, try and keep it as non-animal product as possible. This would let it sit happier in a block, and allow us to minimize packaging. Though single use packages are certainly more cyberpunk, I tend to have environmental concerns… I’ll tell you how that pans out. Maybe we can come up with some kind of alternative. So that’s my new cyberpunk recipe for you all. Not perfect, but it’s got potential.
Well, we did make it back to Australia alive. The heat is refreshing after the relentless cold of the Scottish winter and the plague pit that is 22 hours in economy class. So we’ve come to the end of our big adventure, for now at least. Back to what passes for reality here.
Anyway, we had some friends come in from out of town, so we took them around the cliffs of the Jamison Valley to see the Three Sisters. Figured I’d share the piccies with you.
And finally… well, I told my buddies in the UK that this stuff didn’t exist in Australia. Guess fate showed me…
I know it says that in the title. I figured I’d repeat it for emphasis. Anyway, there’s a hill. Its beautiful, the whole thing set out as a woodland cemetery, the sun kind of crests it perfectly. There is a pathway that leads up the slope from the east side of the train station, and winds is way up to the crest of the hill where it disappears.
I’m probably going to need to explain this a bit better.
My partner and I went to Inuyama about two years ago. Its not a big place, a couple of hours north of Nagoya by the winding local services. Its high enough into the mountains that winter clings on a few weeks longer than it does on the coast. I had chosen to come here on a whim; the city is mentioned in Lian Hearn’s Tales of the Otori, and those books have always been favourites of mine. I admit, as we approached, it appears disappointing. The whole place looks like a burned out wreck of partially abandoned light industrial buildings, the shattered remnants of a once working body that all the life has drained away from. And for some parts of the city, that may be true.
But you get off the train, you take the north exit. The wide river greets you, and you follow it down a waterfront walk drawn in a vaguely European style. You take that corner, and everything changes. On arrival we saw a white castle, older than the written history of my country, was flying over a landscape of cherry blossoms and the river darkening like ink in the sunset. The winter wind bites, and turning on to the main street you find that the cars, lights and other trappings of modernity are politely ignored in favour of Edo era facades. We were lucky enough to catch the end of the city festival, purely by accident. It is a beautiful place.
In the twilight, we couldn’t see the detail of the hill I mentioned. That came later.
It was on the morning we left that we were able to really see it. The path over the hill captivated me. I considered taking that walk, but we had a bullet train to get to that would take us to Kyoto. I’ve wondered about it since.
I get the sense that walking over that hill will kill me.
In a kind of narrative sense, it feels like that action carries that finality. I have marked this place, and if I go past it the story ends. Like Enkidu ripping the life from the Bull of Heaven before the gods destroyed him, I can almost smell the weight of fate carried on this place.
And it has come to be reflected again. My partner and I have been traveling in Europe for the last seven months or so, intermittently working in Scotland. Our date of return is confirmed now, and I begin to feel the weight of things left undone. When we had left Australia, we had hoped to go on a Gaudi binge in Spain. To get a taste of Stieg Larsson’s fractured Sweden and its endless aurora riddled winter nights. Hell, we got within miles of Vienna before getting distracted. This is not to say I haven’t enjoyed our time here. I’m just seeing another hill, and wanting to cross it.
You can’t do everything. On a logical level my brain knows this, that the world is just too damn big to see it all in one lifetime. For all that we say we will have another chance to see the places we missed, for some reason it feels like the jig is up. Because once I’m on that plane, Europe as we experienced it will begin changing into something new, and will never be what it was in this time and place.
I have been haunted by a mantra of late, wandering through countries that by all rights seem to be driving themselves into the ground. It always looks like the end of the world from where you’re standing.
And I suppose that encapsulates the feeling. The world is going to be moving on regardless of where I am, and to be honest I am not entirely sure what home is going to look like when I get back there. But I’ve had a rifle around in the old brain box, and I’ve reinforced myself with the idea that I have done this before, and for all the years I accrue I can still adapt and change along with the world. Maybe I’ve been a different person than I was before, in these seven vagrant months, and maybe I’ll put that person in the grave when I step back into Kingsford Smith airport as summer turns to autumn and the world is again turned upside down.
We leave, and maybe Europe will disappear. It might fall to the Russians, or to anarcho-communism in the face of the near sighted idiocy of its corrupt governments. Maybe Tony Abbott’s gleeful curb stomping of the Australian economy will render us forever unemployed on our return, and leave the other side of our planet forever out of our reach, and my partner and I will be forced to live out our days as arse kicking cyberpunk bandits, crushing fascists and their corporate paymasters beneath the wheels of our murdercycles. Maybe these things will happen. But I don’t think it will be any of these things that will kill me.
In a week I will be back on the continent of my birth.
I suppose part of being human is that we so often live beyond the end of the story. The narrative would say that I cross the grand threshold, and that will be that. One day I’m going to front up to that damn hill, or any other hill in Poland or Haiti or bloody Tuggeranong, and I’ll cross the damn thing, Bull of Heaven or no. Maybe I see the other side, and maybe I don’t.
The hills gonna stay right there either way, and the old story is just going to keep on ticking along.
Well, we got around to it eventually. And just because we didn’t play my little roleplaying game, Australia Day, on Australia Day, doesn’t make its first flight any less majestic. If you wish to get a copy of your very own, scroll down my homepage to “My Australia Day Special“. In preparation, we ate Massaman Curry (as we would if we were in Australia…), gathered our nugs (dice) and Mugshots (character sheets), and I donned the High Poobah’s hat. This led to Queenie being unable to look me in the eye for most of the game, despite it being “bizzarely fetching”.
So we had our two players; Queenie started playing Stabitha the Dropbear, and Flock was running Fredamine the Caffiend. I was operating as High Poobah, a role usually referred to as “Game Master” or “Dungeon Master” in more sensible iterations of these kinds of games. This was certainly not one of those iterations. May have had something to do with the Scotch, but I would hesitate to blame Laphroaig entirely.
So, our heroes weirdos drive out of the salt flats bordering the Drop Bear Republic in their battered Holden hatchback, struggling to escape the murderous horde of Emu Bikers hot on their heels.
This led to about five minutes of garbled laughter and questioning of my sanity.
Having realized that he was dead out of coffee, Fredamine staggered into the general store/fish and chip emporium that they had found on the dry, dusty crossroads of the town they started from, Waldongle. He encountered Steve behind the counter, his moustache waxed to hold a cigarette so that he can smoke without his hands. He was, unfortunately, fresh out of coffee, so Fredamine began rummaging through the bags of lima beans, hoping some of them were coffee. Stabitha then strode Dropbearfully into the shop, and hurled a bag of coffee sweets into his face, which he then chewed through the packaging.
A discussion ensued as to how to make my High Poobah’s outfit even more incongruous. I played a plastic battle axe as a ukelele for a while.
“So guys,” Steve rasped, “Haven’t seen you in a while. Things not go so well… down the Republic?”
The question of Merchant Republic or Banana Republic is raised. Eucalyptus I guess.
“Things are pretty lonesome out this way though. Wanda mentioned she might have an assignment for you…”
“Does she have coffee?” muttered Fredamine.
“In the chip shop…”
They turned around to see Wanda, their spirit animal, behind the fish and chip counter. It was established that currently she looked like a middle aged Mediterranean aunty.
Queenie: Why do I have a spirit animal? I’m a drop bear!
Flock: … but you’re not a spirit.
They debate turning the deep fryer oil into fuel. They figured they had enough to reach Wangdangle either way. They would have petrol there.
Wanda: Oh hey guys. Your coats looking good Stabitha. Washed in the blood of your foes again?
(Flock: I knew it. It would have alliterated if she were a wombat, so she isn’t…)
Stabitha: Don’t you know it…
She passes out some fish and chips.
“Might have a little assignment for you wandering types. There’s been a string of disappearances of orphans and cattle all along the north side of town. I’ve not been able to find any clues… so maybe you can help. If you do, I’ve got the bag of magical reagents for you” She holds up a bag of possibly illegal plant matter.
Stabitha listens quietly, eating her chips. A brief discussion ensues as to whether, in our collective minds eye, Stabitha is a CGI Koala or a poorly disguised puppeteer with a glove puppet.
Eyeing the baggy, Fredamine responds “Alright.”
Before they leave, she warns them that it is rumoured to Henry the Magical Platypus may be stalking the north side of town (Stabitha: “Ah fuck that guy”), and that Anh at the Post Office may have more information. When asked for petrol, she starts scooping deep fryer oil into the thermos, and stagger out to their car, now a rust red Dolorian. They hammer the thermos into its fuel port.
Fredamine: The car only runs because one day it’ll kill me.
They head into Waldongle to see Anh, Stabitha hijacking a busboy so that she has the same stride as Fredamine. They arrive at the Post Office.
Anh: Oh hey guys. You’re back in town. How’d the republic go?
Stabitha: Don’t ask.
Anh: That bad huh?
Fredamine: So much eucalyptus…
Anh: Ah brutal.
Fredamine: So few bandages.
Anh: Well, always preferred menthol myself, but each to their own.
He takes a belt of Scotch and adjusts his aviator sunglasses.
Stabitha: Wanda sent us by.
Anh: Right, you’re here about the mystery? Right.
Stabitha: Yeah, the dissapearing cattle and orphans.
Anh: Yeah, well, someone’s been stealing cattle and orphans. North side of town. That way.
Stabitha: Yeah, she also mentioned Henry.
Fredamine: Damn centaur enthusiasts.
Anh: Centaur enthusiasts? Ah brutal… wait. Well, centaurs right I guess. Orphanataur.
(Queenie: Wouldn’t they have to steal horses for that? Flock: I said enthusiasts, not professionals)
Anh: Well, a lot of folks seem to think its Henry up to his old tricks again. But I don’t think it fits with his usual Modus Operandi.
Fredamine: No, udderly different.
Anh: He’s just up there in the river systems and billabongs… well, I can give you the full briefing. Would you care to step through into the Room Full of Guns?
Anh: Well I can’t do the slideshow out here.
Fredamine: Eh… alright.
Anh pushes open one of the walls into a room with gun racks on every wall, and sets up an old overhead projector.
Stabitha: Which government are we under at the moment?
Anh: Well, on the way through we passed through Egypt, the United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia and, well… now we’re in Queensland. Anyway, Henry as a creature tends to operate under the assumption that there is a weird sense of humour under his weird and inhuman acts. But basically, no one’s been delivered the punchline yet, so Henry’s out of the running.
Anh goes on to explain, using his overhead slides, that he has discerned a pattern, a rough line of strange incidents. First the collapse of the community rec center, then damage to religious sites of both indigenous and late arrival’s significance, then the squatters in the old rock quarry were driven away.
Anh: Pretty wild country out there. You guys get along with the emu bikers right?
There were some uncomfortable looks, and the characters agreed to take a look at the collapsed Community Rec Centre before heading north to the quarry. They leave the Room Full of Guns.
On reaching the Rec Centre, they encounter their first Villain of the game, an abstract one called “The Mystery”, with a Horribleness Rating of 2.
Attempting to locate and catch a guinea pig and use it as a divining rod, but suffers his first Terminal Blunder as he fails the Jerk roll and tumbles into the crater that was once the Community Rec Center.
Stabitha: Do you see anything?
Fredamine: (muffled) Lots of gravel.
Stabitha leaps down on the cackling guinea pigs, blocking out the sun in her silent descent and seizing hold of one before tying it to the divining rod. The others scatter, realising the trouble their in given that Stabitha is taller than they are, and thus above them (a Dropbear’s primary axis of attack). She then throws the rod to Fredamine, who begins scrying for anything the guinea pig is more afraid of than he and Stabitha. He finds his way to a square cut shaft on one side of the crater. Stabitha heads in first, with Fredamine following more slowly behind. Deploying her DEATH FROM ABOVE!!! crazy skill, Stabitha leaps, claws raking the sides of the shaft, her koalavision zeroing in on the terrified heartbeat of something below her, and immediately snaps its neck on reflex. She drags the corpse into the narrow light from above, and reveals the logo of Holecorp, the evil mining megacorporation, on his overalls. Fredamine arrives several minutes later shimmying down the steel cable.
Turns out the hole doesn’t go anywhere, they just left him down there to dig.
Stabitha: He’s better off this way…
Its at this point that Queenie was alarmed by the revelation that in my Poobah hat I looked unnervingly like Don Burke from Burke’s Backyard. I’d have sung the song if I remembered it. Strange reminiscences of childhood viewing of gardening programs followed.
Me: So you found a guy in a Holecorp uniform.
Queenie: And I kill him!!!
Me: You kill him to death!
Queenie: Didn’t exactly mean to.
Me: DEATH FROM ABOVE!!!
Queenie: (laughs) What the hell are we doing!
Fredamine arrives, pokes the dead Holecorp guy with the guinea pig stick, then rifles the pockets of his presumably throroughly soiled overalls.
Me: Yep… looks like he’s been digging for weeks.
Flock: In all that time, he never thought to dig a hole…
Me: Oh he did. You’re in it.
Fredamine wonders where the dirt from the shaft went. Stabitha worries that he hasn’t had enough coffee today.
Stabitha mentions that she probably didn’t need to kill that guy, and Fredamine replies that he could totally see her looking mildly disappointed as she wrenched his jaw out of his face and used it to stab him repeatedly before he’d hit the ground.
Flock: Bend it a little bit, stab it through both eyes.
Me: I kind of imagine it as a sort of wishbone snap to double slash maneuver.
Flock: God, The Downunderbite.
Me: Cheers, sir, you get a producer credit.
Stabitha attempts a koala mind meld with the guinea pig, and is assailed by terrible visions of what she just did, but manages to wind it back far enough to see a pair of white dickshits in suits high fiving as the community centre collapses and the guinea pigs escape their cages. The Stick-pig then gets added to her inventory.
They climb out of the shaft, and wander through town to find houses of worship, Aboriginal sacred sites and many other sites all with holes and sometimes trenches dug through them. It is assumed that the trenches are dug by Holecorp miners suspended sideways from cranes, as it is easier than teaching them to dig anywhere but down. Deciding to look further into this, they head to the Holecorp Beach Shack Kiosk out by the dry, empty salt flats, quinkins frolicking in the distance, always just out of reach.
Fredamine manages to convince the kiosk guy that he’s looking for work, and the guy points him out to the executive picnic at the quarry to the north. The execs would show him “where to dig holes for money”, because “the way of the future, the past and now is holes.” They jump into the Dolorian and head north with the strains of Icehouse echoing across the empty space.
Until it is drowned out by the roar of motorcycle engines coming rapidly closer. The Mob of Emu bikers bears down on them, and Fredamine scrambles under his seat and finally earns a magic bean. The car is rapidly surrounded, and Fredamine loses control of the car, crashing into a roadside rock. The impact and the airbag hurls Stabitha skywards, and she launches DEATH FROM ABOVE as Fredamine bleeds into his airbag. Emu screams rend the air, and Fredamine looks to finish the job by crippling their self esteem. He climbs out the sunroof, and to the sounds of Emu bike radio Black Sabbath he tries to Ozzy the head off the guinea pig. Which promptly jumps down his throat and kills him.
OH GOD, THE TERRIBLE INEVITABILITY! NOOOOO!
With Fredamine dead, Flock picks up a new character sheet.
“At last!” comes the roar from the Dolorian’s engine block, “I got him!” And a mechanical creature lurches forth from the cars mangled frame. It seems oddly friendly towards Stabitha. Lori the Dolorian used the Invention Mugshot. He lashes out with his piston fists, but the fight is still going against them.
Realising they probably can’t fight their way out of this, Lori decides that its time to use his Keep Inventing! crazy skill. Using his hatred of Fredamine to crack physics, he rips open his former owner and uses his mastery of haruspexy to create a dimensional wormhole. They plummet through an industrial nightmare, and burst through a shadowy door in a surreal factory complex into the night of an unknown desert oasis. They spy a shadowy figure in a broad hat strung with corks, his bill gleaming in the moonlight, waist deep in the billabong.
After a string of cryptic exchanges, the scene ends with Lori carrying Henry the Magical Platypus to Tity and Dong’s, a nearby family run bordello that appears to be a one room tin shack, and in exchange he kicks open a gate back to their reality with his poison spurred cowboy boot.
Back in their own dimension, they crest the top of the quarry after heating some canned beans for a group of lonely looking emu bikers who ride off into the night. Below them a number of Holecorp executives continue their junket, drinking champagne, punting orphans into a chasm for laughs, and sacrificing cattle to an effigy of Ayn Rand.
Flock: I know I’m just a car engine block, this isn’t really my fight.
Queenie: But you are a Master of Human Studies.
Me: You can get inside their minds.
Flock: Sometimes figuratively.
Suddenly, Stabitha and Lori are ambushed by a Holecorp Supersoldier, burying his shovel in the back of Lori’s head. As Lori winds up to attack, he falls apart into a pile of scrap, his hatred of Fredamine exhausted. Flock was… well, his rolling was spectacularly bad this session.
Stabitha was faced with a choice: battle the supersoldier on the plateau, or leap down onto the executives below. She goes with her instincts.
As she leaps down to do horrible murder amongst the executives, a familiar figure is being dragged towards the crevasse of punting. Wanda Rerring, the gang’s spirit animal, had never known her real parents, and was about to be punted into a chasm for it. Struggling for an escape route, she spied a hunched, woolen shadow on the wall of the quarry, and reached out to it in hope of an escape. As she was drop kicked into the abyss, the Beardaclava leapt onto her head, and the two became one deadly creature; the Beardblade.
Her deadly woolen follicles carry her back to the edge of the chasm, and she unleashes a Beardblast against the assembled executives, killing the last of them. Flock was happy to have finally succeeded at a combat roll. Bad news for Stabitha, however, as the raging follicles launched her into the crevasse. She was afraid, for a moment, until she realised that she was falling. She roared “DEATH FROM ABOVE!!!” as she plummeted into the unknown depths.
Queenie decides to make it a full house, and chooses the Showstopper so that each of the Mugshots gets a chance to shine. Apparently warned about this situation by those migrating emu bikers, Myrcy the Showstopper and her gaggle of activists surge over the horizon chanting “Don’t punt Orphans!”
Down in the quarry, Wanda is confronted by a final terrible foe.
“I er… don’t appreciate what you’ve er… been doing here. Rather ruined some er… investments for some er… friends of mine. I don’t don’t think that’s er… appropriate.”
From the shadows of a cavern, a Mad Monk strides into view, his waist length cassock tucked into his obscenely tight speedos.
“I don’t appreciate you non voting types, or your ideas on gender, so I suppose I’m gonna have to kill you in some horrible waaaaaaaaaaay…”
One wanker amongst the activists attempts the rhyme, “Don’t punt orphans, find better endorphins”, but it doesn’t really catch on.
Confronted with the fascist glory of the mad monk, Wanda launches herself at him and attempts to garrotte him with her beard. She sinks the choke, but somehow her enemy keeps spouting inanities about how she doesn’t have rich parents and thus doesn’t deserve the vote.
There is some discussion as to what Myrcy and her followers are defending for her to get the bonuses from her Peaceful Protest crazy skill, with examples in the current situation being the remaining un-punted orphans, animal protection laws, and ideas of sensible desert attire excluding speedos. She and her followers surge down into the quarry, but the roll doesn’t quite make it.
“Oh no, protestors!” the Mad Monk shouts, raising his hands, “It’s ok! I’ll stop the boats!”
Myrcy’s followers stall, and glance at each other, trying to figure out what the hell that is suppose to mean. There are no boats in the desert.
“What do we do Myrcy? Where are the boats?”
Myrcy: There are no boats.
“Where’s the water?”
Myrcy: There is no… it’s a trap!
As the protesters stall, with a thunderous sounds surging closer, Wanda’s crushing follicles close in further on her nemesis.
Wanda:There once was a Mad Monk that couldn’t be killed. But he had a fucking beard.
She then drove her beard into the Mad Monks chest, trying to Temple of Doom his heart out. She strikes true, and the Mad Monk nearly topples, though she finds he has no heart at all.
“What do we do Myrcy? The waters coming! Run!”
Myrcy: Protestors! With me! Don’t punt orphans!
They rush forward, only to have an immense amount of water wash into the quarry from an unknown source (possibly Queensland). They are carried away, confused, and the Mad Monk and Beardblade wrestle to a jagged rock in the midst of the chaos. Myrcy struggles to bodyboard on her placard towards them, and her followers begin to chant “Kiss of death! Kiss of death!”
Wanda pushes the mad monk down towards the waves, and brains him on Myrcy’s current driven placard. Her bloody beard turns to meet the early morning sunlight, and she says
“You were never popular with the boaters.” Because this is how democracy in Australia works.
The weirdos spend their day fishing orphans and cattle out of the unexpected flood-zone, then head back to Waldongle with Wanda carrying a fish under her beard-arm. They arrive at the fish and chip shop, and Wanda congratulates herself in the mirror, fist bumping her spirit animal, taking the bag of magical reagents for saving the orphans and cattle.
In the end I had really bad hat hair, and then we kind of narrated the evening to the tune of Down Under. And that was more or less that.
Things I learned: OK. I’m the first to admit that I designed Australia Day poorly. I may have done so in a haze of Kahlua. But there were a few things I noted down.
First, Villains don’t stack well. If you want your weirdos fighting a lot of Villains, just call it a Mob of What Have You, a Mob of Emu Bikers for example. Add one or maybe two to the Horribleness Meter for numbers, and that keeps things nice and smooth.
Second, when the Beardblade uses Beardblast any friendly players need to roll more Squibs than the Beardblade did to escape it. The Beardblast becomes a hazard with a Horribleness of the Beardblades successes. That wasn’t made super clear either. There might be an errata. I promise nothing.