Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Beast of Beverly Hills

I am currently sitting in room 231 of The Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, drinking black coffee, contemplating a nightmare. It must be a nightmare. I can not call it a memory.

It has a different name now.

For two nights I have slept here. I must have slept, though the bed is still made and the mint lies uneaten on the pillow. I tried to go for a walk this morning, but the corridors confounded me and turned me back to my room.

Marilyn lived here. She got out, for a time, but her suicide tells me she never really left. She carried these corridors with her.

Alvin Lustig, "Incantation" 1947

Alvin Lustig designed these hallways. He was clever to merely call himself a designer and not an occultist, but anyone with understanding can perceive secret messages in the architecture ­— sigils bound in stucco and steel.

Portraits of Lustig by Maya Deren

Everyone here is from out of town.

Everyone is here on business.

Last night I was drawn to the amoeba-shaped pool, though I was very tired. Other guests seem to feel it as well, travelers dressed for dinner though it was nearly eleven. A young woman drank too much champagne and fell laughing into the water. I wanted to help her, but knew better than to stain my good suit.

We watched her thrash for a time, and when she grew still we raised a glass to her beauty and then retired smiling to our rooms. The pool was empty this morning. Someone else is checking in now.

I too am here on business, but I cannot remember what I do for a living. My credit cards are all maxed out. My pistol and passport have been stolen from my room.

I fear I will never leave.


*I am staying in this hotel for work. I got sick of working so I wrote this up. No one actually drowned here last night.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A thief, a priest, and two barbarians walk into a bar.

Last night was the 3rd session of my Ancient Aliens-inspired 5e game. We played in the upstairs lounge of the Mexican restaurant/bar next door to my apartment. The 1970’s rec room-meets-West Hollywood coke den d├ęcor therein makes a great setting for Swords and Sorcery shenanigans.  Plus, there’s a weed dispensary across the street. I’m kind of shocked it took me 3 sessions to figure this out.

Here’s what went down.

Yes. That is a Disney Princess mechanical pencil on my Fiend Folio.

The Black City was built by godlike visitors from Sirius using slave labor and powerful magics not seen since the fall of Pangaea. Something bad happened.

Whatever it was, it was bad enough for the priests to hide the city from the gods. But the spells they used have grown corrupt and now the strange, non-Euclidean avenues of the City are slowly leaking back into the world of men.

Five dipshits prowl the ruins, armed to the teeth and hoping to slake their lust for gold and experience. They are:

Baal - a Serpent Man Barbarian from Vaalbara
Prius - a Priest (deceased)
Rizzo - a Thief from the mean streets of Atlantis (locals call it Hotlantis)
Ragnar Bastardson - a teenage Barbarian from the northern wilderness
Sildar – an aging npc warrior who lost his sword arm

Having wisely avoided a squad of vampires, the group rappelled down a black basalt wall and entered a hallway. There they discovered a trap that released gasified Green Slime into the air, but not before some of the congealed slime discovered the Priest’s face.

They bashed down a door, alerting a pair of wandering Ghouls to their location.  Battle ensued in a room used to store ritual teas, and The Second Ghoul succeeded where the Green Slime failed. The Priest is dead.

Despite having two Barbarians in the party, the Thief actually managed to land the killing blow on BOTH of the Ghouls, possibly aided by the weapon he found in session One.

This was a quick game but a lot happened to solidify the game thematically. My initial idea for this campaign was “Kinda like if Red Nails was set in R’lyeh”, but this was the first time those elements started to come into play. The first two sessions had been fairly unstructured, basically getting used to the game again. My procedural skills as a DM have gotten pretty rusty and this was this first session where I felt confident with minimal prep. Actually my entire prep consisted of looking at notes written on my phone during my 20 minute bus ride home from work.

Fernet helped.