Friday, December 28, 2012

That Old-New Janus Face

"Janus V", 2009, 72" x 72", encaustic on wood panel

It is time to begin preparing for 2013. I have decided to start the new year for The Everwayan blog with some fresh inspiration from the Fortune Deck. 

The Fortune Deck cards are:
  • Law, Reversed - Treachery
  • Autumn, Reversed - Want
  • The Creator, Reversed - Abandonment

I also drew an RPG Inspiration Card as well:
  • Chains - Captivity
    • Event: Challenge authority
    • Trait: Determined
    • Quirk: Many piercings 

OK, so not a very chipper reading, but it is what it is. It is quite appropriate for the perfectly symmetrical image in the asymmetrical frame at the top of the post.

So clearly some kind of trouble is afoot in the multiverse. Does it involve Everway? How about Otherway? Time will tell.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Atlas of the Lao Supernatural?!?

The DEMONSTRA Kickstarter is in its last five days, and is within $400 of reaching its next stretch goal, which is the Mae Thorani. This is an Earth creature that washes away demons and strange creatures by wringing out her hair.

DEMONSTRA is a very special publication by award-winning Lao-American poet Bryan Thao Worra and artist Vongduane Manivong.

Earlier this week, I unlocked the Lao weretiger for all humanity.

Now, I am asking others to step up! Here's what's in it for you besides fantastic illustrations, and Lao supernatural poetry by someone who not only writes with a pen, and with the sword and the dice:

If the $3,000 stretch goal is met, we will also see as an extra an atlas of the Lao supernatural.

How cool is that? I am pretty psyched about reaching this goal, because such atlases are of great value for all sorts of practical purposes beyond mere scholarly edification. Whether you are playing Call of Cthulhu, or Hollow Earth Expedition, or straight out Lao D&D 1st Edition, I am sure we could all benefit from this extra.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Today, I Unlocked A Weretiger!

Hot Lao God-Hero Art by Vongduane Manivong
You may not have heard of the Demonstra Kickstarter, but I would encourage you to take a look!  It has eight days left and it is an important project. 

In SF&F, we hear a lot about Western gods and monsters. 

And not so much about everyone else's.

This Kickstarter features speculative poetry and art by the award winning Lao-American poet Bryan Thao Worra and artist Vongduane Manivong. 

Here's a few words about the project from Bryan:

In 2013, my new book DEMONSTRA will be published by Innsmouth Free Press, with over 100 pages of Lao American speculative poetry. This collection includes poems of ancient Lao ghosts, secret wars, and creatures of mystery. There will also be glimpses at the distant future, from what the Lao space program might look like to where Lao might be in the year 40,000.  
2013 will be a particular milestone year in Lao history. I'd really like to release an edition that raises the bar for what we expect from books of Lao American poetry. This is also my first book I've released since representing Laos during the London Summer Games as a cultural olympian.
If the Kickstarter went a few days more (not sure if this is possible, but hint-hint), I would up my donation to $50 for the cover art poster and the special, frameable poem written for you on the theme of your choice
For the record, my request would be for a poem incorporating these two themes:
  • Mao's saying that "When an idea is seized by the masses, it becomes a material force."
  • A supernatural being from the Lao gay male imaginary

You can still do this Bryan! I challenge you!

Mayan RPG For The New Long Count

Cover art by Gustvo Lira
Image copyright. 2007-2010
by Obsidian Serpent Games
Now that the Mayan apocalypse is behind us - the real one started in 1517 anyway - perhaps we can look at some positive alternatives. I have been thinking a lot this week about Chad Davidson's Heirs to the Lost World, an indie RPG with a great world and some really fun gamist dice-based resource management mechanics. Heirs was the first free-standing RPG to take Aztec and Mayan cultures seriously in their own right. I have run this game many times. As someone who used to teach Latin American and Caribbean area studies, the setting hits my sweet spot.

Heirs to the Lost World is an alternate history 17th Century RPG set in Mexico and the Caribbean. In the game world, the Aztecs used magic to defeat the Conquistadors' armies and to treat European diseases. While the Spanish have some footholds in Northern Mexico and in the Caribbean (as do other Europeans), the Aztec civilization remains more or less intact, as do the Mayan city-states. You also have maroon colonies of escaped African slaves, pirates, the squicky Mayan underworld of Xibalba, the gods, and much, much more.

Play can happen anywhere in the region, but you are given the more or less open Mayan city of Xicalango in the Yucatan as a default multicultural setting for starting games and introducing players to the setting. This combines with the Order of the New Dawn to give PCs a narrative structure to plug into in the game. The Order of the New Dawn is a secret society which traces itself back to Dr. John Dee.

The Order of the New Dawn has several goals:

  • Establishing a free, democratic society in the New World
  • Abolishing slavery
  • Establishing peaceful and equitable relations with the native peoples of the New World
  • Ensuring freedom of religion, including freedom to practice magic, which is largely banned (and pursued by the Inquisition and numerous Protestant freelance witch hunters) in Europe. 

The New Dawn counts native peoples and Africans among its members and allies as well. This enables party diversity, as a PC group may include an Aztec Jaguar or Eagle Knight, a pirate or smuggler, a maroon priestess of Voudoun, a Mayan sun priest, and much, much more. So like I said, a pretty rich setting, with some straightforward ways into the game. I have a hankering to start playing some Heirs again, using either the existing game system, which has great rules for stunting, or using the setting to test drive the new FATE Core (maybe you have heard about the latter, yes?).

For more on Heirs to the Lost World, check out the Obsidian Serpent Games website.

You can also see the in-depth interview I did with Chad Davidson over on the Hereticwerks blog, here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blade & Crown Is At The Source

Rachel Kronick's new roleplaying game, Blade & Crown, is on the new rack now at The Source Comics and Games in Roseville, Minnesota!

The Source is a well-managed, extremely friendly game store. It is also one of the largest (if not the largest in the USA). The Source has been a consistent supporter of tabletop indie RPG authors, developers, and gamers.

They stock the games we want. They make demo and game space available for anybody that wants it. And most importantly, they take risks on new authors, giving their customers a chance to see new things. For example, they also stocked another truly outstanding indie/small press RPG that I have really fallen in love with this Fall: Broken Rooms.

So, if you live in the Twin Cities, and are considering a purchase of Blade & Crown, please consider picking it up at The Source. Nothing wrong with ordering from DTRPG if you just want the PDF, or from Lulu, if you don't live in the Twin Cities.

But if you are here in town, why not support an FLGS that does such great job supporting indie authors and gamers?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Table 1.2 Completed!

The Everwayan celebrates the completion of the second third of our Things Found Upon Spherewalkers mega-table! You can find the entire 36-item Things Found Upon Spherewalkers mega-table in the Everwayan's Indexes link page right under the blog's masthead. 

The first 12 items for the Things Found Upon Spherewalkers table are detailed and hyperlinked from Table 1.1.

Each item on Table 1.2 below is hyperlinked to a detailed item description. 

TABLE 1.2 - Things Found Upon Spherewalkers

To use this table, roll 1D12:
  1. A small collection of fine sword guards
  2. A star-shaped porcelain tile, depicting a cheetah
  3. A stone figurine depicting a boar headed goddess
  4. A stone figurine depicting a goddess of war
  5. Two identical metal bells, whose handles end in claws
  6. A horn made of a conch shell, and surrounded by fine bronze metalwork
  7. A black metal figurine of a dancing male god
  8. A jeweled gold crossbow fibula
  9. The Icon of Infinite Sorrow, painted on the inside of a seashell
  10. A small booklet with dozens of square pages that have been stitched together with red thread, and then bound with resin. Each page describes a favor given to someone, or a favor owed to someone
  11. A small, finger-length wooden figure of an oar, painted white
  12. A metal scorpion, with a winding screw protruding from its back

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Goddess Of War

University of Michigan Museum of Art
Photo c.2012 by John Everett Till

This stone figurine depicts a goddess of war. A fiercer incarnation of the Mother of Gods and Goddesses, it represents the divinity whose titles include "The Inaccessible" and "The Invincible". Only fools approach  the goddess Durga under the illusion that they can best her in battle. Armed with a sword and a chakram, she is ready for battle - and willing and ready to aid you as well.

Durga grants two powers to the woman warrior who commits to carrying her image to the scene of the battle. With Durga's gift the woman warrior will be able to:
  • Emit a great blinding light in the presence of demons or other evil supernatural creatures. This light will surround a woman warrior like a halo; it has the power to burn away and destroy the demons, nagas, and other evil powers.
  • Roar with terrifying laughter in battle. This usually causes mortal enemies to flee in utter terror. It also causes earthquakes to devastate all areas within one hour's walk in any direction from the place of battle. Such power forces demons and monsters out of their hiding places to confront the goddess' champion. 
The Durga-stone is approximately one hand thick, two hands in width, and three hands tall. A warrior woman can carry it in a backpack, removing it when the time for battle has arrived. The bearer has an excellent disguise, for who would suspect that hunched old woman - perhaps the one making her way down the road right over there - is really an unstoppable demon slayer? 


The Great Blinding Light is equivalent to the use of Fire magic at level 9. 

The Power of Laughter is equivalent to Earth magic of level 8.

Using these magics is extremely dangerous, however. The first use turns your Fault into a new Usurper force, determined by the player. The second use turns your Virtue into another new Usurper force, as determined by the consensus of the other players at the table. The third use turns your Fate into a new Usurper force, as determined by the GM. You become a force of nature the GM. removes you from play.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Icon Of Infinite Sorrow

Sorrow Sun image courtesy of Hereticwerks

...Painted on the inside of a seashell. Centuries ago, the Icon of Infinite Sorrow was first discovered by the itinerant spherewalking priest Harbinger Moondance. He found it on a pedestal within a small shoreside shrine on the eternally twilit world of Gravelsea, an ancient grave-realm whose demise preceded the founding of Everway. 

An icon of unfolding gloom, this seashell has traveled to many different realms. It has been worshiped as the symbol of a goddess, revered as the royal sigil of a demoness, and venerated and feared as a terror-weapon and Doom Shell. 

Each realm which has guested it has suffered a novel and ultimate catastrophe. Because these disasters are never tied to a realm's existing Virtue-Fault-Fate tryptic, the Icon of Infinite Sorrow is a Usurper force in material form, a movable curse.

The Chamber Platinum has drawn out a spherepath for the Icon of Infinite Sorrow. It is headed on a lazy spiral inwards toward the First City. 

The person who currently carries the Icon of Infinite Sorrow is unknown to the Chamber Platinum. Spherewalkers are being recruited by the Chamber to find the icon-bearer and discretely stop them in their tracks.

Thanks to Jim and Jody Garrison of Hereticwerks for providing this great image. It is a perfect representation of the Icon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Horn Made Of A Conch Shell...

University of Michigan Museum of Art
Photo c. 2012 by John Everett Till

...And surrounded by fine bronze metalwork. This conch horn was one of those used to attract and kill the dragon Sea Hag who had terrorized the people of the realm of Wingspan. Brave shaman-sailors from the Sitting Dog Archipelago went to sea in the war-catamarans of the Archipelago's trader-pirates accompanying the war parties readying themselves for battle. The shamans blew horns like the one shown above to attract the dragon. Thirsty Ones, summoned from the deeps, and the thirsty arrows of countless archers did the rest.

But the story doesn't end there.

The horn depicted here ended up in the Dragon Trade, and has traveled from realm-to-realm across the spheres since the great sea-battle. While not made from a dragon's parts, this particular horn helped to kill a dragon, and is therefore considered relevant to the Trade. A dragon didn't touch it, but its sounds helped to attract and kill a dragon!

The horn has changed realms many times, but still has the power to call out to the dragons of a sphere, and to draw those dragons called toward the horn blower. The horn has also developed two novel abilities as a result of its travels: 
  • It can call to a dragon in an adjacent sphere, opening a gate for them; and 
  • It can sound out the 'branes of a realm for concealed, interpolated realms, such as Nest Realm
Several dragon-savants, dragon-servants, and dragon-priests are searching the spheres to find this horn. And because of its second novel ability, the Chamber Platinum would also like to find it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Small Booklet...Stitched Together With Red Thread

Orlando's Blood by Jacqueline Nicholls

A small booklet with dozens of square pages that have been stitched together with red thread, and then bound with resin. Each page is written in red ink, and describes a favor given to someone, or a favor owed to someone. 

The booklet is used to enforce reciprocity. 

The Bloodweaver Wizards who contended for dominance in the realm of Woven Strife created these books when they tired of constant broken promises and betrayals among their peers. These booklets brought a quick end to shifting alliances, and great predictability to the fulfillment of arrangements made between peers.

When you do someone a favor, you record the deed in the booklet. At the time, the beneficiary agrees to return you an equal favor in the future. It is understood a favor which will need to be reciprocated as soon as the original benefactor of the original favor calls in its return.

If someone reneges on a promise to reciprocate, then the book itself takes revenge. The ink and threads of the book swirl and form a shape. A tiny hand-high Red Swordsman comes forth from the book. It sets immediately to take a revenge of its own devising on the person who reneged on the favor. 

The Red Swordsmen are clever, tireless, and creative. They will observe and even secretly cohabit in the home of their target until they find and execute a fitting revenge. Their revenge is not always lethal. But when the deed is done, everyone will know that the target is someone who can't keep their end of a deal. 

Thysanurians find these favor-books particularly appetizing. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Blade & Crown Turns To Piracy!

Our Blade & Crown campaign resumed this week, thanks to the perspicacity of GM Eric Gilbertson! Serene the Priest and Stabber the Assassin finally got off the Island of Too Many Stupid Rules thanks to much sneakery and the help of a friendly  trapper. This trapper was a fellow Morensian, one of the failed crusaders who came to this Island of Ill Fortune many years ago. He got us out of harm's way, saving us from the soldiers of the Three Suns heretics. The good man also turned us on to a way off the island: join the pirates who come ashore periodically.

The catch? You only get to join them if you can beat one of the pirates in hand-to-hand combat. If you lose you become a slave. So naturally we asked to try out as pirates immediately, and were rowed away from Heretic Island out to the pirate ship.

Stabber, as played by Eric Stoltz
Our good friend the handsome Stabber aka "Red", faced off with his new magic greatsword against a wiry swordsman pirate opponent. Both were wounded, but Stabber prevailed in the end.

It was a close call.

The priest Serene had a better time of it. She used her weapon of choice, a warhammer, facing off against a worthy and well-muscled she-pirate. Serene also prevailed, using the pointy end of her warhammer to mete out a benediction to her defeated and prone opponent.

Then "our" two children cleaned the decks with two pirate children.

So we are pirates now, and off the Island Cursed By Three Suns! A great session with stirring combat that was uncertain until the very end!

Strangerside Scholar: Interpolation

One conjecture about why the dragons created Mousetrap Realms was to conceal something else behind them. In this sense, the Mousetrap Realm becomes a form of Interpolation, the magical art of creating a new object between two existing ones. At the dawn of history, the Bridgeworlds, the first human intersphere empire, used the art of Interpolation to build a chain of Fortress Realms as center-realms acros a chain of spheres. (This "chain" of course was many different chains of spherepaths that radiated out from a central hub. It is said that the foundations of the Library of All Worlds are drawn out similarly to one of these Fortress Realms.)

What were the dragons up to when they built the Mousetrap Realms? They may have been concealing their own Nest Realms behind fortress walls. They could interpolate Mousetrap Realms between existing worlds on a spherepath.

For example, suppose a certain World A at a certain point in a chain of worlds; let's call World A, the Spider's Web. The adjacent World B might have been the Nest Realm known as The Red Hatchery of the dragons. Through the art of Interpolation, a Mousetrap Realm - No Floor - might have been inserted between World A and World B. No Floor is conjured into existence as the center-real between the other two, a so-called World A-Prime.

Thus a chain of spheres can be broken. The Mousetrap Realm of No Floor becomes a deadly dead-end for  most Spherewalkers going through a gate from there towards No Floor. Meanwhile the dragons cavort or sleep safely in The Red Hatchery beyond. The Red Hatchery no doubt has other gates that go other places. Or it might have not gates. Some dragons can still make their own gates. And they have worked out numerous serpentine paths to get around.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Strangerside Scholar: On Mousetrap Realms

Merode Mousetrap, c. 1427-32

After the dragons lost in their war against the gods, they turned to other pursuits. Partly due to spite, and partly due to boredom, some of the dragons began devising and setting traps among the spheres.  They created the Mousetrap Realms to catch and kill Spherewalkers.

The Mousetrap Realms have one way in: a Gate which opens into a new realm, beckoning a Spherewalker to come explore. But unlike normal realms among the spheres, the Mousetrap Realms have no way out. Either their Gate works in only one direction, opening only into the realm, or else once entered, the Mousetrap Realm becomes a more active and deadly trap.

Death by starvation. Death by plenitude or lack, whether Earth, Air, Fire, or Water. False epiphanies. Entombment. World-creatures. Treasure of Infinite Counting. Doppel-craft. The dragons have never lacked for imagination in devising their traps. And they were masters of misdirection.

Humans have often attributed the creation of Mousetrap Realms to capricious gods or demons. Few have seen the Dragons' Stamp: The House of KnivesThe Box of Under, the Ocean-Hole, Mother of Cankers, the Roundel, the Whorl, Pop-Up Drop Down, the Meat Grinder, the Flower That Ate Itself, and The Limbless Tree. Even the names of the Mousetrap Realms sound like curses.

There are in fact hundreds of Mousetrap Realms on record at the Library of All Worlds. As many as one realm in one hundred may be Mousetrap Realms. It is wise to consult the collection of spherepaths within the Library of All Worlds, or the Chamber Platinum's special collection (these are usually the most up-to-date) before planning a particularly long journey among the spheres.

Most Spherewalkers will encounter a Mousetrap Realm if they travel far enough.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wooden Figure Of An Oar, Painted White

Glenn Kaino

Some gates open; others explode from one infinity into another. The object is a small white wooden oar, about the length of a little finger. It's a Gate Key. This little white oar can open a Water Gate in any lake, river, or bay. The gate will open in all directions, summoning the White Fleet.

Canoes, funeral rafts, fishing boats, paddle wheels, galleons, gigantic battle barges, the white tar sub, and even a world-ark:  the Whiteoar family's entire fleet will be gathered from every realm and sphere, together again in one body of water.

The Whiteoar family, defeated, destroyed, cast adrift and scattered among the million spheres: suddenly, once again, a great armada.

If you find a little white oar, burn it to ashes immediately.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Jeweled Gold Crossbow Fibula
This is not a weapon; far from it.  A crossbow fibula is a kind of brooch, a pin used "to hold together the corner of a garment at the shoulder."  The pin is on the back side of the brooch.

Note the four animal heads arranged around this fibula.  A thing of beauty, this crossbow fibula was last seen adorning the shoulder of a bold soldier from the realm of Step Lively. White Mane found it while escorting a company of scholars along the receding glaciers of the realm of Round Stones. They had been ambushed by a rival group of scholars and soldiers, and these interlopers drove White Mane and her charges from their dig site.

The scholars soon discovered the ruins of another city revealed by the withdrawing glaciers. In the ruins of that ancient city - a vast metropolis which the scholars soon dubbed Big Pond - White Mane spotted the crossbow fibula brooch in a glittering in pool of the purest meltwater. Small fish swam in circles around the brooch. She reached in and took it.

White Mane pocketed the brooch, keeping it hidden from the eyes of the scholars until she returned to Step Lively with her charges. Then her life got interesting. White Mane learned that the brooch had powers, and a thirst for blood. The brooch's pin held a garment best when it pierced skin. The skin of her shoulder became scarred with repeated piercings. The piercings gave her the ability to commune with animals. She was never ambushed again.


The crossbow fibula brooch is a three point Power, one which is nurtured and fed by the wearer's blood. The Power allows the wearer of the brooch to see and hear whatever nearby animals can see and hear. Voices will be recognized as such, but human speech is unintelligible; it is almost as if the speakers are not using the Tongue.

This Power can be used to listen in on what animals hear over distance equal to the space spanned by a five minute walk. It will be difficult to be surprised by others when operating outdoors.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Star-Shaped Porcelain Tile...

University of Michigan Museum of Arts (Ann Arbor)

...Depicting a cheetah. Until the Everwayans came to Emerald Savannah, it crowned a King's chair. For centuries, no King of Emerald Savannah ruled without this symbol of athleticism and prowess adoring his throne. Shortly after the Emerald family of Everway began its grain trade with the realm of Emerald Savannah, this royal symbol disappeared.

The records of the Chamber Platinum show that a star-shaped tile fitting this description was recently cataloged in the Ledger of the Chamber's Acquisitions Among the Spheres During the Realm of the Great King Horizon Emerald:

"A fine star-shaped tile depicting a cheetah, gold and red - Origin unknown." 

No one remembers who brought the star-shaped tile to the Chamber Platinum, and the signature of the Ledger's note writer is illegible. The price of the purchase: 10 beads.

The royal family of Emerald Savannah has dispatched a Spherewaker-Emissary to Everway, because the Lion Seer of their realm has had a vision that the star-shaped tile will be found near, on, or within one of the great structures of the City of Everway. The Chamber  has already had inquiries from this Spherewalker, and sent her away with no new information. The Ledger has also been hidden away.

The Chamber Platinum has offered to help with the search. Now they just need to identify the right Spherewalkers to assist the Spherewalker-Emissary from Emerald Savannah. Before she discovers something embarrassing or worse.