Monday, 4 January 2016

Manchester: Part 2

What was I saying about mining one's  hometown for ideas? Oh yeah... I said it was officially a good idea. Or at least it's a good idea when one hails from a place as exciting and vivdly realised as my hometown of Manchester (yes, I mean that).

 In truth, it's not really the city per se and its qualities (or lack thereof), that is serving as inspiration for me here. No, in this case, Manchester is merely a conceptual springboard for creativity (maaan).  It could really have been anything.  A loaf of white bread, say or a broken wheel chair. Perhaps seventeen saxophonist in a van. Whatever...the point, is that I'm familiar with what makes the place tick; it's a great bundle of abstractions, concrete definites, myths, pictures, sounds, people, histories and lurid, speculative psychogeography.

You can't really say the same about a loaf of white Warburton's.

With Manchester, I luck out. We're already half living in a Mythic Otherworld, here upon the edge of the glowering Pennines...a place walked by the ghosts of an almost utopia that never quite was. Tales of heroes and their deeds which, in truth, with the right kind of vision, are as much the stuff of cosmic myth as the Labours of Heracles (for example). It's a different kind of vibe...more Hesse than Tolkien; but it's present and correct.

I'm not going to eat up pages describing stuff you can find out on Wikipedia  or you might already know. The plan is to be game able quick. So let's begin with an example. In this case, music.An exceedingly easy starting point for our adventures. Let's focus on legendary Mancunian band,  Joy Division. Just for starters.

Ian Curtis' tale is well documented. His life, his career, his un-timely death. If you were so inclined (and many have been), you might point at Joy Division and Curtis as the progenitor of the famed Manchester music scene and make a convincing argument regarding their role as an influence upon popular music as we know it. With a bit of research,  one could mine raw history for ideas and derive something pretty punchy. But why make things difficult? Let's focus upon the art, in particular, Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division's debut album.

For a start, the title is my kind of D&D. The front cover depicts  the sound waves emitted by a dying star. This too is my kind of D&D. The lyrics? The music? The same. So let's focus once more,  this time on a song from Unknown Pleasures, namely track 1. Disorder, written out below:


I've been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand,
Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?
These sensations barely interest me for another day,
I've got the spirit, lose the feeling, take the shock away.

It's getting faster, moving faster now, it's getting out of hand,
On the tenth floor, down the back stairs, it's a no man's land,
Lights are flashing, cars are crashing, getting frequent now,
I've got the spirit, lose the feeling, let it out somehow.

What means to you, what means to me, and we will meet again,
I'm watching you, I'm watching her, I'll take no pity from your friends,
Who is right, who can tell, and who gives a damn right now,
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know,
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know,
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know,
I've got the spirit, but lose the feeling,
I've got the spirit, but lose the feeling,
Feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling

Ok, this is what my mind made, based purely on the above verse. Are you ready? OK:

The world's reality damage is causing  more problems with each passing year. Since the moon broke apart and the old things, banished beneath the earth began to rise once more (sensing the eldritch magics by which they had been forced from the surface of the planet Idios had faded), chaos (with a small c) has gripped the land.

Strange men tall men in sorrel cloaks have been noted. Men whose faces are never quite glimpsed beneath tbeir shadowed  cowls. They come out of the walls, from a place of tearing metal and screaming sod. They seem to have a plan, but no-one knows what it is. They ask people to do things.

They carry with them the Wyrd Light, which can be passed on. Some say they are emissaries of the new ghost moon. They consider it a sacred duty to task folk with slaying were-creatures, which proliferate in the woods and darkest places of the hedge,

THe Wyrd Light is the gift of creativity. It can be too much for an artist. The sheer volume of ideas can kill them. If it does not, it is the power of magic. But for a normal man, 'a flat man' as the Sorrel Hoods call them, it will be as if the world is glimpsed true for the first time.

It comes at the cost of normal pleasure, normal sensation. The more refined one's tases and senses become, the less they inhabit the perceptions of this world. For a Wizard, this is well known. To see the beyond is to lose interest in the here and now. This is the curse of the magus. This is why they eventually leave for higher realms of existence.

Some say there are no end to these delights. Others say, all things are finite and that in some distant aeon, a magus whose imagination has grown tired of all things, will snuff out the universe.

But this light is being granted to normal men. Wizards, once held in check by the three Hermetic Orders, begin to proliferate alarmingly. Magic becomes easier to wield. More are born with the blood magic/sorcery. This is interesting, since the Church of Metronon (a monotheistic Church, worshipping an invisible demiurge, ranging on missions of religious conversion,  hailing from the vaguely Spanish empire of Torquemada) is burning Hedge Wizards and Blood Magicians upon inexhaustable pyres. This is why the Church has decried art as shit. This is why Torquemada is like that planet in 'It's Hard Being a God'.

The Sorrel Hoods might be chaos magi from Incorrect Realities. They do not appear to be human. They can be invisible to most things. They are silent. They can open any door. They can lead you to to other places you didn't think possible, if you take their hands, which are cold and hard and never seen. Serve them well once and you will receive the Wyrd Light which they carry within the folds of their robes (when the Wyrd Light is granted,  you become a level 1 wizard.  They collapse like Obi Wan Kenobi in A New Hope). Fail them and you will never see them again. You will suffer a curse.

d12 Sorrel Hood Commands

1 Slay a certain werebeast
2 Destroy a moonstone mining operation.
2 Posion a town well with ergot.
4 Conceive a child and give it to the Moon Men.
5 Spend a level as a transformed animal.
6 Deliver a cryptic message to a dying noble. A note that says 'yes'.
7 Steal all copies of a certain astrological chart and deliver them to the Sorrel Hood
8 Assassinate a prominent artist.
9 Cause two people to fall in love.
10 Swap your shadow with one of the Sorrel Hood's choice
11 Lead a girl into an area of reality damage.
12 RIng the city bell 13 times when the Ghost Moon is in the sky.

I could keep going.  I really like the Sorrel Hoods. I like them because they're cool.  I like them because they're mysterious.  And I like them because they prove my point. Really,  you don't have much of an excuse to ever be out of ideas.  Just run with a high powered brain fart.

More stuff inspired by Manchester soon.

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