In Greek myth, Echidna had a body partially that of a nymph, and partially a great snake; together with Typhoeus she parented many of the children who would later die at the hands of heroes.
[…] the goddess fierce Echidna who is half a nymph with glancing eyes and fair cheeks, and half again a huge snake, great and awful, with speckled skin, eating raw flesh beneath the secret parts of the holy earth. And there she has a cave deep down under a hollow rock far from the deathless gods and mortal men. There, then, did the gods appoint her a glorious house to dwell in: and she keeps guard in Arima beneath the earth, grim Echidna, a nymph who dies not nor grows old all her days. - Hesiod’s Theogony, via Wikipedia
She was associated with fetidness and rot- other words for places that have the hubris to exist without catering to humanity, favoring instead the smallest, blindest, most numerous forms of life.
Shown Above: Sigil of Echidna by DarkSideCustom. Ships worldwide from Woodhaven, New York. $40 USD
DIY Cyberpunk Spikes. Monster of the grimdark future, you too can trap your enemies with this hypnotic glow!
All the Reference Photos! ~ Cyber Skymall ~ 1500 Year Old Tomb Shaft ~ 34,000 Year Old Somehow-Still-Alive Virus ~ Folks in the US Northeast: Go See the Downton Abbey Costumes! ~ This Could Totally Be Used To Make Boss Larp Maps
The city. This grand fucking city, where the shit of a hundred thousand horses is fought over by a hundred thousand street children, except in the nice neighborhoods, where it is genteelly fought over by the genteel underlings of genteel fucking gardeners, while rivers of the stuff flow in clay tunnels below their feet. This city, home of conquerors and collectors- including the half-forgotten family who collected our ancestors, so long ago. Today, my friends, we avenge those ancestors.
Today, we rise.
Sewer alligators. If ever there was an urban legend that seemed ripe for a plot, it’s sewer alligators. Maybe they want revenge. Maybe they don’t exist at all, and the mission to Collect Ten Gators is a plot to send those pesky adventurers away while the local power gets on with their life. Maybe don’t exist, except very briefly, but while they do, they want Chinese takeout.
I find the tinges of tourism guilt around the edges of this particular monster fascinating- after all, so many larps center around travellers. What lives have they thoughtlessly disrupted? What false guilt do they carry, distracting them from the real consequences of their actions?
Once again, distinguished readers, it’s time for Monster March! This year’s festivities are kicking off with Bigfoot, that most elusive of American folk monsters.
(Not to be confused with Big Foot.)
Bigfoot-all-one-word is an interesting creature- large, something like an ape and something like a man, and entirely difficult to document considering a huge percentage of the American population goes camping with their camera phones. It’s one of a species of folkloric creatures called wildmen that have relatives on nearly every continent (except Antarctica, says this link, but as there is a small outpost there and the workers and researchers must get very bored, so it’s only a matter of time…).
There is a certain amount of organization to those who want to track Bigfoot; some have even claimed to have killed several of the creature. Aside from simply featuring a Bigfoot-like creature in your games, though, there is other inspiration to be found here; say, for example, there is a folkloric creature in your game that doesn’t exist. Or, perhaps, does exist- but is incredibly difficult to find evidence of at all, let alone track down. Nevertheless, the local sheriff has a standing bounty- anyone who can bring 10 Bigfoot feet to the tavern will get Lots of Credits. Is there a way for your players to, say, forge these feet? And what happens if they actually do find the critter?
Today’s DIY Friday feature’s a tutorial for making snow globes- or whatever little beautiful thing you’d like to call them. MacGuffins, perhaps? Or tiny mobile altars to one deity or another, where shaking them releases an area effect. They could also be used to create lanterns, if you filled them with small, glow-in-the-dark items as well as glitter; charge them up by a fire, and then you have a modest light in the darkness, increased by the refraction of the water and the reflections of the glitter.
Craft well, my friends.
If ever you play a character that uses poison, there is one person in history you must know: Caterina Maria Romula di Lorenzo de’ Medici.
This little Italian girl became the Queen of France, Catherine de’ Medici, and ruled for nearly 30 years. Her sons may have reigned, yes, but there were few times during that period when Catherine was not in control of the monarchy.
Anything you read about her should be interpreted with severe skepticism; she was a powerful woman in a tumultuous time, which means she was written about largely by people who didn’t like her. That doesn’t mean necessarily that those people are wrong, or what they are reporting is inaccurate… but they might be. However, they are accurately reporting their own opinions about poisoners, and people who get power the “wrong” way, and they are recording a whole pile of poisoning ideas!
For example, she was portrayed as using diamond dust as a poison, delivering poison via apples, fish sauce, gloves, or the pages of a book, and experimenting with poisons on the poor under the guise of giving out free health care.
A poisoner is a tricky character to play, especially in the more combat oriented larps; dungeon crawling is hardly a strong suit. Another issue is that NPCs don’t always persist, and a poisoning is something that often needs a lot of research and thought. For combat, my favorite route is a stealthy character with a reliable means to transmit the poison and the ability to get the hell out of dodge if it doesn’t work.
However, a poisoner might well be a fascinating NPC, especially as a long-running antagonist to the players. MacGuffins are a fantastic method of poison delivery, and pitting combat players against an enemy that cannot be defeated via combat is a clever way to deal with things like power creep. If you can employ half the creativity attributed to Catherine, your players will have more story and conflict than they know what to do with. Just make certain there is a way out for them… unless its a horror larp. In which case, the fact that their very environment seems to be turning against them is perfect for inducing paranoia.
Aren’t you happy it’s impossible to relay poisons via blog, now?
Image: Scene from La Reine Margot, the story of Catherine de’ Medici’s daughter, and wife of the target of that poisoned book.
A particular quirk of medieval European medicine was the costume worn by plague doctors- a long, dark gown, wide-brimmed hat, and respirator mask made from leather, lavender, and glass eye pieces (source). This is what came to “heal” you in your weakest hours. This is what your friend saw before he died of the Black Plague- and your brother, and your partner, and your child.
It is a luxury to have a healer whose presence rests your mind as well as your body; in the midst of battles, droughts, and plagues, it is a luxury that most simply cannot afford. Don’t be afraid to play a creepy doctor.
More Plague Doctor Masks:
Paper Mache Venetian Plain White Zanni Masquerade Mask on Amazon; $10
Blank “Nasone Grezzo” Venetian Mask on Amazon; $25
Today’s DIY Friday features pin curls! If you watch the video, you’ll see an excellent example of pin curls at the end. The lovely instructor is doing a hairstyle that depends on thoroughly modern tools; however, the basic pin curl can be achieved with nothing more high-tech than hair pins. Don’t take my word for it; check out here and here.
The up version of the pin curl is a relatively recent trend, judging by the visual record; it’s a 20th century thing. However, pin curling is not just a hair style, but a method of hair styling. Once the curls are let down, they could be brushed out to get this look (NSFW), or left to curl, like this.
One warning: I have it on good authority (from my American Girl books) that sleeping on hair pinned up can hurt like the Dickens. Consider that before you experiment with the authentic, old-timey method.