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31 Days of OtherSpace: No. 1 – “Seeking Supremacy”

March 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Shafts of sunlight poured through colorful plasma fields, creating a kaleidescopic dance of dust motes in the Great Temple of Ope’mot as the Aukami rose from his seat at the table to speak.

“Our resources are depleted, even more so than yours,” Vynos Evanel said, eyes swirling blue and violet as he placed long slender fingers on the gray stone tabletop. “The Zar’s bid for power cost us much in blood and treasure.”

A growl rose in the throat of the Opodian to his left. Jorta Opo’te, historian for the Great Temple and emissary for the High Priest of Opodi, swiveled his snout so that his glittery black eyes could fix on the alien. “Perhaps you should have considered that before begging us to join this so-called Zarist ‘Supremacy.’ At the moment, you appear anything but supreme.”

The Thul across the table watched with one functional hazy yellow eye, like the tainted yolk of an egg gone bad. A jagged scar bisected the socket where the matching eye used to be. Fleshy tendrils wriggled along the rim of the mouth as he munched on skittering black bugs that crawled across his slime-dappled gray skin. The great slug offered nothing new to the conversation for the moment, content to masticate on insects.

“I am not saying we will not stand by you should the outversers and their Confederacy follow through on this talk of waging war against you,” Vynos replied to the Opodian. “However, any aid we offer will be limited…in the short term. Projections farther out are more optimistic. Our supply of Kamir artifacts continues to grow at a healthy pace thanks to the new rift drives. The improvements make them more efficient with every iteration, thanks to our stalwart Thul comrades.” He inclined his silver-maned head in acknowledgement and respect to the bug-munching alien. Still, the Thul said nothing in reply.

Jorta’s blunt teeth clicked together as his brow furrowed. After considering the Aukami’s response, he said, “If the Confederacy wins the allegiance of the Llivori, our short-term horizon might be measured in days.”

“Do you consider it likely that the Llivori will side with these outversers?” Vynos asked.

The Opodian shook his head. “No. However, they might ally with the Hekayti and the Commonwealth. Such a turn of events would be far more unpleasant than the war posturing of the outversers. That would bode ill for us both, I should think.”

Vynos spread his hands with a sigh. “Then you must do all that you can to protect against such an arrangement.”

“Must *I*?” the Opodian growled. “While you and your people are off hunting for shiny rocks, you expect *me* to hold the predators at bay with…what? My pleasant disposition?”

A faint smile from the Aukami preceded: “You are an official in service to the oldest temple on the planet Kamsho. I cannot imagine that you are a stranger to intrigue and conspiracy.”

Rankled, the bristly gray and silver fur around his thick neck standing on end, Jorta shoved back his chair and stood to his full height to glare up at Vynos. The Aukami stood at least two feet taller and seemed bemused by the Opodian. Jorta snarled, “We are not talking about petty bickering among priests and record-keepers, Vynos! You may find this all amusing, but if Ope’mot falls, rest assured that Multvaros will be ash well before the jungles claim what remains.”

Finally, the Thul dropped something solid and a little heavy on the table, drawing the attention of the Aukami and the Opodian. It was a rune-inscribed cylinder of black stone, rolling slowly left and right as it settled in place. “Thish getsh ush nowhere,” he said, his words made mushy by the nubbed cartilaginous teeth and fleshy lip tentacles. “May I?” Both Vynos and Jorta assented without a word. The Thul started manipulating the cylinder with finger tentacles that tracked greasy gray-green slime over the runes, which soon began glowing a bright cerulean hue.

Light flashed next to the Thul before a shimmering rift materialized, stretching about four feet above the white marble floor. Through that rift stepped a figure clad in black hood and robes, carrying a gray fabric sack in its gloved right hand. Vynos and Jorta stared at the newcomer, who was even shorter than the Opodian, and then they gave puzzled glances to the Thul.

“You were wise to invite me to this gathering, Ancient Shog,” the hooded figure hissed, tossing the bag onto the table with a meaty thud. “Your companions must understand, however, that I will tolerate none of their weak-willed behavior. Those who do not show backbone do not deserve spines. I have a wall with space for a few more.”

Both Opodian and Aukami seemed irked by such condescension from a diminutive stranger. Jorta then seemed further irritated by the sight of purplish fluid leaking from inside the bag and onto the table. A soft growl began to build in his throat, but Vynos interrupted before the Opodian’s rage could get the better of him.

“Who are you?” the Aukami inquired.

The stranger raised his gloved hands to draw back the hood, revealing pebbled green flesh on a snout that bristled with fangs. Bright yellow-orange eyes peered up at Vynos. “I am Hurk of Hatch Vril, Thosoth of the Clawed Fist Fleet. The Nall have a mighty war machine. You have artifacts and technology that are useful to the Nall. We will give your alliance the fangs and claws that it so sorely lacks.”

“And the bag?” Jorta ventured. “What’s in the bag?” His voice trembled. It was obvious he hovered between wanting to know and wanting very much to not know at all.

Hurkvril clacked his fangs together, leaning forward to sniff a few times at the damp bag as the purple stain spread. Finally, he drew back and said, “The goddess Nalia disagreed with my proposal to return our people to their rightful place among the stars. I find such object lessons are effective.” He tilted his snout, looking from Jorta to Vynos.

There was no debate.

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The Road to World Conquest: Write, monkey!

February 20, 2011 1 comment

I admire a lot of things about Catherine, not the least of which is her desire to perpetuate the ancient art of writing letters by hand.

It calls back to a more complicated time, when communication wasn’t as easy as point-type-click. It encourages more thought and deliberation as the words are going from pen to paper.

She’s great at it. So far, I’ve received two letters from her. She has received one from me, and that was only after a week or so of (sometimes) subtle nudging.

Why do I suck so badly at it? “You’re a writer,” she reminded me. “It ought to be easy!”

For a moment, I wanted to bring up that Seinfeld episode where Jerry’s dating a masseuse, but she won’t give him a massage because it’s her job. However, that wouldn’t quite be true.

The truth lies somewhere else: Lack of time, or at least the perception of it. An overblown sense that whatever I write on paper requires intense concentration results in too much pressure.

However, if I look past that foolishness, I realize that in the time it takes to craft this blog entry, I could put down a few random thoughts to let Catherine know I’m thinking of her. I could put those thoughts in a letter, slap a stamp on the envelope, and send it off in the mail.

It’s really pretty simple.

So, I’ll try to be better about that. She deserves it.

Three Words Musing No. 2: Your suggestions?

November 25, 2010 2 comments

It’s time for me to get to work on the second Three Words Musing project. As with the first, I’m looking for suggestions for three words that will inspire the story. Once I’ve picked someone’s suggested words, I’ll post the story in installments here on the blog. So…what do you say? The first go-round, it was “bacon, blockade, and shortage,” which led to a zombie apocalypse story. What’ll it be next?

“Waking the Shade” – Part I

July 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve started working on some lore for my new project, The Island. Here’s the first part of a work in progress that helps set the stage:

“It’s gotta be the real deal, Bobby,” the stripper insisted as she swatted another mosquito from her well-tanned forehead.

She followed the Seminole warlock down the winding path past the darkened lighthouse into a clearing surrounded by palm trees whose fronds shifted and whispered in the westward breeze coming ashore from Lake Okeechobee.

Bobby Hopwell knew it was a bad idea. No, truth be told, it was a terrible idea. But Maggie Lerner swore up and down she’d take him into her bed if he lured a genuine Florida panther as a protective familiar to watch over her and her two boys. She’d made a vow, and Bobby’s drought had gone on far too long.

The sun sank toward the horizon in the west, making a faint silver snake of East Lake Avenue and turning the small town in the distance into a shadow box silhouette. Bobby rolled up the sleeves of his red plaid shirt. “Need to build an altar,” he said.

Read more…

Wessed Up History – 2/8/2010

February 10, 2010 2 comments

* Feb. 1, 2004: Tragedy strikes the Super Bowl when Janet Jackson’s breast attacks the world. Never forget. (Still on YouTube, I bet!)
* Feb. 1, 1884: 1st ed. Oxford English Dictionary is published. People all over U.S. ditch Spanish and Chinese in favor of upstart language.
* Feb. 2: Groundhog Day! If Phil sees shadow, 6 weeks of Limbaugh. During Leap Year, signifies coming of 4th Jonas Brother and apocalypse.
* Feb. 2, 1954: Baseball player and English king John Tudor is born. Proceeds to divorce and/or execute wives that don’t die in childbirth.
* Feb. 3, 1918: Twin Peaks streetcar tunnel opens. Serves a mighty good cherry pie with coffee at every stop.
* Feb. 4, 2004: Facebook is founded by Al Gore and made famous by Oprah Winfrey. According to this status message.
* Feb. 5, 1958: The Air Force loses a hydrogen bomb off the Georgia coast. Still out there, treasure hunters! Wear your lead pirate hat!
* Feb. 6, 1756: Happy birthday to the late Aaron Burr – politician, gunslinger, and Ironside star.
* Feb. 7, 1978: Actor and cradle robbery bait Ashton Kutcher’s born – but not before reaching 1-million Tweets ahead of CNN.

Introducing: Text Adventures Online

January 5, 2010 3 comments

During our discussion about “word of mouth” issues for OtherSpace, one of the players hit on the point that they really didn’t pay much attention to Top MUD Sites or The MUD Connector anymore because, for them, the sites no longer had anything to offer or were too difficult to navigate.

I’m stubbornly supportive of both because, without them, OtherSpace never would have survived for more than a decade as it has. However, it’s true that both are fairly stagnant. The same people post when anything gets posted, with very rare exceptions. It’s almost unheard of to see someone new popping in and making themselves known to the community. So, it’s no wonder people might start dismissing the sites as past their usefulness.

I’m not so cynical. I certainly don’t want to compete or try to replace them, because I don’t think they’re the problem. They’re just suffering from the same out-of-sight/out-of-mind problem that faces people who enjoy play-by-post, play-by-email, and interactive fiction adventures but want to see new blood coming in: Unless someone KNOWS to look for them, it’s just not easy to happen upon them accidentally.

Rather than try to make a new site that only caters to MUDs, I’ve instead started a site that serves the broader interest of text-based gaming in general. Text Adventures Online (or TAO) is designed to provide a rising tide to lift several different boats. I can’t do it alone, though. If you’re interested in MUDs, PBP, PBEM, roleplaying blogs, or interactive fiction design and might want to become a contributor about your favorite pastime, I invite you to send email to taowordpress@gmail.com. I’m looking for GM profiles, player profiles, game/site reviews, contest announcements, special event notices, promotional posts – pretty much anything we can get out there to raise awareness about these types of games.

Thanks for your support!

OtherSpace: Ho-Ho-Hiverspace 2009!

December 20, 2009 Leave a comment

We’ve got another limited-time Action Card available for players who come to OtherSpace during Christmas Week.

Just post a +str to request your Ho-Ho-Hiverspace 2009 card before Dec. 29, 2009. These cards do not cost RP Points to acquire – they’re our gift to you!

For a full list of currently available action cards, visit this link.

To connect to OtherSpace, visit this link.

Have a great holiday!