warrenss2 wrote:How is this going, BlackJaw?
Any informational updates?
It's going ok.
I got the font thing worked out, and have gotten back to writing. The current page count is 86 pages. My target is to keep the book under 100 pages when it's done. The final version will look slightly like a typed document, somewhat like a police report. I did a number of test prints to get a body font that looks right and still is easy to read on both screen and in my test prints.
The heading fonts are "My Underwood" a free font based on old underwood typewriter characters.
The Body Font is "IndUni-N" which is GNU licensed variation on New Century Schoolbook.
Statblocks use "Liberation Serif" which is a free font somewhat like Times New Roman.
In character quotes are done in "Jr!hand," which is a freeware font that looks like a hand written notes, and I did a lot of digging around to find one that's easy to read.
For playing card symbols I've got "Card Characters," which is a free font intended for just such a use.
I should be able to embed all these fonts without breaking any license or use agreements. There are a handful of other fonts involved, but those are only being used in artwork and won't need to be embedded into the PDFs, thus making my life easier.
The layout is still mostly black text on white. The headings and fonts are actually in a slightly blue version, but will print fine in black and white. The Wild card symbols (a voodoo doll) are in a dark red that will also print well in black and white.
What I'm doing now
Right now I'm writing up the first draft of Chapter 5: Unusual Suspects. I've completed a small selection of "mortals" (civilian stats, a collection of criminals, a emergency responders like cops or paramedics, and spell casters ranging from pact-bound to hedge witches) and I'm now into Spirits & Monsters.
The last chapter in need of a full draft is Chapter 6: Pilot Episode. Right now it has a full framework in place for when I get to writing it. It's the last chapter, and needs to be fleshed out with a pair of investigation flow charts and more details, but the core concepts are there with plenty of notes.
The monster section has required me to convert the metaphysics of the setting into game mechanics(ish.)
monsters are Spirits and are not properly native to the physical Mortal world. When they are summoned or crawl through a crack in the barrier, they arrive as ethereal entities. The "Astral wind" constantly drives them back through the veil between worlds, so the spirits have ways of anchoring themselves to the world.
One trick is possession. They enter a host body or object and can remain in the mortal world as long as the host object or person is intact. They often can control the host, and even use some supernatural abilities through the host. In most cases, possession entities must be summoned into a host directly, or quickly take a host if they come through a hole in the veil. If the host object is destroyed, or the host person killed, the spirit is cast out of the host and is quickly sent back through the veil. Some possession entities can jump hosts from one to another, while others remain locked into the host they took, or were forced into, when they entered or were summoned into the mortal world.
Another trick is to bond with an anchor. An anchor can be a person, place, or thing. As long as that anchor is intact, the entity may remain ethereal in the world. In fact, if the entity is ever destroyed/killed, it reforms 1d4 days later near it's anchor. Ghosts are a classic anchor entity, as are Muses.
Spirit Bodies are the last trick a spirit might have to remain in the world. A spirit body is made of spiritual matter, which some people might call ectoplasm, and is sustained by the spirit. It's what that 15 foot tall demon's red skill is actually made of, and why he leaves no corpse behind when killed. Spirit bodies, when destroyed, send the spirit back through the veil. Spirit bodies also need to be sustained. Most spirits that can form them need to feed on something to maintain their forms in the mortal world. Demons, for example, tend to prefer meat. A demonic hound will eat just about any meat, but a Horned Lords can get picky. One horned lord might only dine on marrow, another on human eyes, or maybe only the blood of virgins. As another example; Fey creatures prefer cream, honey, wine, and bread.
Most spirits have one method of remaining in the world, but a few have more than one. For example: all Horned Lord demons can form a spirit body, but a few can also possess targets.
Do note that ghosts and nature spirits are from the mortal world, but can not remain here if separated from a host. People are composed of a body, a soul/spirit/ghost, and a spark of life. Nature Spirits are less defined, as how do you explain a boulder or mountain having a minor spirit but no real life spark.
Here are the monsters thus far planned, and in some cases written. They don't include the mortals or spell-casters, like wolf-bonded humans that can turn into wolves.
Demonic Hounds: bear sized monsters with fiery breath. They have animal only intelligence and are often given to demon-summoners as servants.
Horned Lord Demons are your classic horned devil type foes. They come with a selection of abilities to choose from. They tend to offer pacts in exchange for human souls. Pacts are bound by magical contract, the destruction of which can end the contract's effects.
Note: Chapter 4's random case generator includes an example drawing of a case that involves a horned lord.
Siren Demons are feminine spirits able to take on attractive human-like forms. They can control a foe whose name they known by singing to them, and are more effective at it if they have kissed the target. Like horned lords, they offer pacts to mortals in exchange for souls.
Boogeymen are dangerous fey spirits. Like all fey, they seek to steal small children, seeing them as a source for the spark of life (which is strongest in the young, as it wanes through age or sickness.) They are also easily bound by words. They can take or receive nothing without a bargain. Boogeymen tend to lurk around homes listening for a parent to say something like "Eat all your greens or a monster will take you away." They follow through on such "deals." Boogeymen are rendered invisible by light, and are very sneaky. They are the classic monster in the closet or under the bed. Much like the story of Rumpelstiltskin, a boogeyman can be repelled by reciting it's name.
Changelings are related to fey. Powerful fey spirits have been known to take a human child and leave a transformed animal in the child's appearance. These unfortunates grow to about puberty (which can be a lot faster if the base animal's life span was short) before they realize they aren't humans. The strong emotions of puberty can twist the spell, causing them to revert, or partially revert, to animal life forms. Eventually the magic breaks, and they become their natural, non-human form... but they can get very confused and angry before that's done.
Note: Chapter 4's discussion of investigation flow charts includes an example investigation centering on a Changeling mistaken for a werewolf.
Abominations are similar spirit bound, (mortals with an animal spirit bonded to them so they may take on animal forms for a time) but they use an "abomination" of the ritual to bind a nature spirit to them instead of bonding the. The nature spirit is unwilling, and the resulting combination is unbalanced: as is the transformation. Abominations take on half-animal half-human forms when the change, and the rage of the spirit bleeds through into their actions. Wolf-Abominations are a lot like the popular depiction of a werewolf. Bird-Abominations are effectively harpies. Both will be in the book.
Lycanthropes, unlike Spirit Bonded or Abominations, are not willing hosts to a nature spirit. They are people under the influence of a very powerful curse. At night when the moon is at, or near full, they are overcome by a powerful spirit and transform against their will. The spirit they are bound to is a disease spirit associated with rabies. They take on a half-human half-beast (generally canine like) and become maddened and aggressive. During the transformation they are also a source for real rabies infections, but lycanthrope proper is only brought on by a magical curse or considerable power, such as a powerful spellcaster completing a difficult ritual, or a witch's death curse.
Ghosts are the spirits of the dead. They are ethereal and anchored to the world through either an object, place, or person. Most ghosts can not change their anchor, but they can give it up if convinced they can move on. They can manifest, becoming slightly visible and able to manipulate objects using Spirit in place of strength, but still just as hard to harm themselves. Ghost powers can be very variable beyond that. Ghosts may also have the possession power, for example.
Revenants are a different form of undead. Essentially a ghosts trapped in a corpse (usually their own) they can pass for being alive, but are very hard to kill, and are almost always driven by vengeance.
Muses are a weak form of spirit from just beyond the veil. They are essentially composed of a single overwhelming emotion, like love, hate, lust, despair, etc. In the mortal world they anchor themselves to a person feeling the related emotion, and ethereally follow them around, sustaining the emotion and spreading it to others in the area. A Rage Muse might follow around an angry young man, but riots and fights will break out in his wake. Muses can appear visible to their host or those they influence, and might be mistaken for an "invisible friend." Some spellcasters can bind Muses to objects related to their emotion (vanity in a mirror, anger in a weapon) although the muse can still influence the emotions around them.
A muse of hunger bound into a corpse is actually one way of making a zombie. The muse, being a weak minded spirit with little sense of self, can be easy to control if properly bound, but the resulting servant creature isn't very quick or smart, and if left uncontrolled will attempt to eat animals or people.
Boatmen are a strange form of creature, thought to be a mortal empowered by a spirit. They are psychopomps that guide the dead from the mortal world into the spirit world. The idea is that when a person dies, but their spirit has trouble letting go, a Boatman (can be a woman) helps to guide them. Sometimes, when a person dies before they are willing to move on, the boatman might offer them to take on the role of the boatman. They pass along the power and responsibility, and move on themselves. For a time, possibly centuries, a boatman assist in an area (say a city sized area) until they too are ready to pass on the burden. Boatman are supposed to neutral in their dealings with the spirit world, or at least that is the tradition set down since before recorded time. Rogue boatmen might be called Repears, and may face the wrath of their neutral brethren, if caught
. Boatmen have the ability to predict death, and that ability is enhanced in their assigned territory. They also have a host of other abilities I haven't thought through yet, but the most obvious is that it's very hard to killed an agent of death.
I'm also considering including a listing or hint about Leviathan. Essentially a massive nature spirit that lies slumbering in the Atlantic at the bottom of the Peurto Rico Trench. Its fitful dreams causes hurricanes. A sort of a cross between David Brin's Whale Dream and H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu with a dash of old school Hebrew Bible.
After the Draft is Written
Once the first draft is finished, I intend to start working on artwork. I have a large collection of Creative Commons 2.0 work to start with. Artwork inside the book will be Photoshop edited photos designed to look like polaroid camera shots, complete with little scrawled notes. The objective is for them to look like case file notes.
In Other News
I moved a few months ago, and I finally was able to find work. My full time day job will slow my writing, but I've got the next two days off and I intend to make use of them.
Now I just need to find a gaming group willing to do a bit of play testing.