Slack-jawed Wonder

What am I asking from my fantasy media?


I want the slack-jawed wonder Peter Dinklage captures when Tyrion sees dragons. I want to be sitting in my bed, on my couch, in the subway while I’m either reading, watching or playing and:



Wonder Examples

For me, wonder is brought about not only when the media shows us wonderful and imaginative stuff but when something amazing and wondrous is implied and I have to read on and find bits of it in the text for more glimpses.

Fury Road had this for me. The way it showed glimpses of these things (the V8 religion and the whole warboy mythology, the green place, etc) without ever really stopping to explaining had me leaning forward, looking for more.

The Expanse had moments of wonder for me too but they were too brief – the magnetic boots, the Martian tech.

The Sorcerer of Wildeeps had it from beginning to end. I just re-read The Wizard of Earthsea and yeah, so full of wonder

 The recent Prophet comic book had so much wonder for me. It filled the universe with so many amazing things, even if they were all a mess from war.

I’m not a huge Dr. Who fan but the way Eccleston’s incarnation had this wonder at what he was seeing all around him had this kind of thing for me. His sense of wonder and joy brought me along for the ride.



Sansa Stark, Queen in the North, Season 6 GoT Fanfic

“No, we aren’t going to Castle Black. I’m tired of running to other people, asking them to save me.

“We’re going to rally the Mormonts, the Umbers and the Manderly’s and the other great houses of the North and we’re going to turn the Flayed Man into a dead banner with no family left to fly it. And after that, we’re looking south towards the Frey’s. And after we have their castle at the crossing, we’ll start thinking about King’s Landing.

“I can tell you one thing, I’m going to look each one of those bastards in the eyes when Brienne ties them down and takes their heads – just like dad taught me.

“And if you don’t like it, Theon or Reek or whoever-the-fuck, go back to the Iron Islands or if you have the stones, go take the Black.”

Traditions of the Swordlords: the Murk

To the west of the Riverlands is another Swordlord with his own charter to worry about. Swordlord Grahl has been a peripheral NPC, father of Squire Irenka, first mentioned in this blog post. He has two other daughters with him. He married a matriarch of a local swamp clan to strengthen his ties.

Now his daughter is a knight who has given birth to a demi-goddess, her home has been sacked by orc and he has rallied the Murk-folk to support his neighbor. He will join the effort to take back Spearpointe after its fall. It was time to think about where he is coming from and who he is bringing with him.


The Murk-folk are a group of quasi-feudal swamp tribes. They pray to their own fickle swamp gods, a few sword saints and sometimes they are known to call on the Dragon Gods. In the troll-haunted swamps, you call on whatever works.

Once they prayed to one of Erastil’s siblings but he died centuries ago during a war with the Brevosi that ended in blood and dragon-fire (oddly, I made that up BEFORE Erastil died). That sibling was said to have given them the gifts of slingstones, axes and druidic magic in the same way that Erastil gave the Riverlanders the bow, spear and hunting.

A few tribes claim to be “descended from the Sword-Crowns” and some worship that descendant as Rostlanders would pray to a Sword Saints. Swordlord Grahl has married into one such tribe and they see his sword as a holy relic, a tether to their proud, lost heritage.

Their highland tribes in the nearby mountains are their constant rivals with feuds often nearly becoming wars until cooler heads prevail.


Note: The above image is from NYPL’s Digital Image Collection.

Misspent Youth on Tabletop Season 4

Misspent Youth is a game where you get together with friends and create a dystopian antagonist so repugnant you want to take a pipe to its teeth. Players take the part of YO’s, Youthful Offenders and the GM is the Authority. The Authority ravages the world while dice sitting in the middle of the table, daring the players to pick them up and start shit and they will start shit. There might be consequences. It might go on the YO’s permanent record. They might die or worse – sell out.


When we used to demo this game at Gen Con, we’d play Blade Runner from the replicant’s POV.


To paraphrase the Misspent Youth text, Wil Wheaton and friends are going to play a fucking awesome science fiction game about friendship and rebellion; it is so much fun they might wonder why it isn’t illegal.


excerpt from The Military History of the Riverlands Swordlords by Norwich O’Ber


Sgt. Jitka is one of the few soldiers to have fought in every engagement of The Swordlord’s Westerly March. She dragged several comrades to safety, one out of the very maw of a Great Wolf during the Spearpointe Arrival.

She road with the Swordlord and caved in her share of orc chattel’s heads during the Sellen River Orc Drowning, chosen due to her limited experience on horseback at a time when riding skills were rare. During Spearpointe’s Fall she galvanized the Little Goddess’ Spears and helped them find a path for their deity to safety once the desperate call to retreat was sounded.

Her Lieutenants have held off on promoting her to sergeant because of how dependable she is on the scout and because she claimed she would bloody an officer’s nose to be busted down if she received her stripes, not wanting the responsibility. After the orc invasion the stripes and the responsibility that came with them could not longer be avoided.

I love this picture found for our Traditions of the Swordlords Pinterest board by Alexander “Minze” Thümer, had to write something about it from our Burning Wheel game.

Iron Gods: Starfaller slang

The BW games have been fun.

Swordlords is this weekend and we’ll play the first session of the orc attack. I’m re-reading my BW orc lifepaths and daydreaming.

Iron Gods is off to a nice start and we’ll play our third session not this weekend but the next.

I like how the games have this thin tether of connection through the True Swords but are very different. The techno-ruins in the Iron Gods setting (our own take on Paizo’s Numeria) give the game a very un-medieval modern edge. This allows me to use phrases that reek of modernity like fully boarded wizard. Renee started a Starfaller slang by naming the Technic League’s thugs apps, short for apprentices.

That little addition from Renee, who began the game as a Technic League wizard, really made the setting come alive for me. I started to fall in love with Numeria’s capital city, Starfall and its largest slum, Killbox.

I wrote a bit about it, hope you like it, here it goes!

Starfall’s slang is just another sign of how the technology scavenged out of the wreckage found all over Numeria and the Silvermount that casts a shadow over the city has effected the populace.

Starfallers like to shorten words sometimes stringing together words that have been shortened to create new words.

a-crim: Alpha criminal, a smart crimelord or up and coming thug.

app: Apprentice, what they call the Technic League’s guards and hired muscle.

b-star: Born Starfaller, someone born in the city.

crow: Crowbar, also the nickname of scavengers who use brawn over brains.

el-scav: Elite Scavengers, natural-born scavengers known for getting their crew’s into ruins and back in one piece and then some.

gapp: Gifted Apprentice, a proper wizard’s apprentice.

kill-crim: Killbox Criminal, also a petty criminal but sometimes the name of a hungry up and comer as Killbox is Starfall’s most infamous slum.

ref-star: Refugee Starfaller, someone who came to the city from somewhere else.

scav-del: Scavenging-Delve, a delve into Numerian techno-ruins.

un-con: Unity Convict, a criminal put into the Technic League’s Unity prison, usually a crime having to do with smuggling tech, stealing from a wizard or harboring an android.

one plus one.

Burning Minutiae

tl;dr: talk to you players;engage the system – ORC!

The Traditions of the Swordlords campaign has reached a point where the frontier nation has grown and now they are collecting taxes and founding a proper state (or as Janaki put it, “So they were getting colonized but now they are doing the colonizing?” Me, defensive, “NO!…maybe. Kinda, yeah.”). We made some big rolls and got some big things done and oddly, the players navigated clear of any internal war. It was a close thing and they made some smart decisions, some brilliant decisions and some lucky ones.

Good stuff.

We were starting to use our G+ community dedicated to just the game to write out to-do lists. Not wanting to play Crusader Kings 2 (a game I LOVE) at the table, I wrote told them an orc invasion was coming and after discussing it with them for a while and realizing there was so much to do before the orc impact, I wrote the following:

Here’s my idea.

Feel free to write any orc-invasion beliefs and set them aside.

One of Eliska’s left-over squires arrives on a half-dead horse that Bow-mother was attacked and decimated by wolf-riding orc. The refugees who could make it, made it to Spearpointe and the gates were closed. 3 pages made their way out and so far, she is the only one who made it to you. She says Baron Kucera reckoned there were about 100 wolf-riders.

Within the hour you will hear from Haps that someone set a fire on Spider Hill and it led to a few buildings there being burned down and whoever did it seems to have gotten into some kind of tussle with some soldiers and were driven off. He isn’t sure; he was keeping clear of it all but heard about it all second hand from merchants on their way down to Spearpointe to purchase more wool.


You get an Estate Management roll. Don’t have the skill? Roll unskilled and every two successes is a success (and take a test!). For every success you complete one to-do item before the orc arrive. Each item has to align with a pre-orc belief, so the max is 3.

Yeah, you can get shit done but how much you get done depends on how good your character is at administrating medieval fiefdoms. Roll the dice.

bakshi orc

Orc are coming!