Unintentionally Helpful Villain #15:

Diary Entry #215

Ah, my sweet perdition has ended! And to think that I have one of my very own Librarians to thank for it! A nice enough lad, and bright, too–to save me from the throng of half-catatonic Inquisitors–while I’m slowly roasted upon a pyre, no less!

I have named this Librarian the Head Librarian, and have banished his original name unto the Infernal Tempest. He doth not seem very pleased at all by this turn of events. He groans and bemoans my choice, this Head Librarian.

He’ll get over it!

Diary Entry #216

Mine Head Librarian has finally recovered from the loss of his name. He has taken the time to tell me the tale of his discovery that mine body has been in use by an imposter — mine ex-wife. Thus goes his tale:

As My Lord knows, we few remaining Librarians remained behind along with Your Lordship’s champions, to await your return. When first you–rather, your body– returned from the underground of Kresh, we had very well taken ahold of it, and prepared to annex it into the Realm. To everyone in the camp’s chagrin, you ordered us to free the prisoners, to turn the newly-converted Library building to dust, and to ride away. 

We didn’t know what to think. As we moved northwards, a series of events served to confuse us much further; as we made camp near a brook, it was none other than you, Lordship, that ran along to fetch water for our sick and wounded. Later, you offered your pale horse to the Prime Librarian, Sven, as he had taken an arrow to the elbow from a twelve year old child. You also did not order the child be commended as we have witnessed you to do, but punished its entire village. 

As your loyal subjects, Sire, we are used to a certain amount of…aberrant behaviour where your royal decisions are concerned. Your Lordship will forgive me for saying so but there is a certain mercurial side to your magnanimous character. No, no, don’t blush, my Lord, I speak truth. 

When your…imposter, for lack of a better work, allowed another to ride your horse, we knew we were dealing with something altogether different from our true master. So it was that I volunteered my services to return to Kresh, and to seek out the truth behind your change. 

Your…wife, is it, Sire? gave me permission to leave when I told her my darling, old grandmother had health issues several towns away. There is something disconcerting about your gauntleted hand offering me a healing salve to take on the road; that’s what I used on all the burnt flesh, Dark Lord, it works rather well, doesn’t it?

As I got to Kresh, I heard more and more rumors of strange happenings — villages gone rampant against men, magical animals disappearing, a traveling rabbit-beast–werebunny, Lordship?–do forgive me; and much more, besides. 

I seemed to miss you time and time again; until I heard of a woman that refused to die within enchanted flames, a witch that refused to give up on her sinful ways in so terrible a way that one Inquisitor crier had passed on, and another was on the edge between life and death. That is when I knew.

The rest, Lordship, is history. Now that you are well-rested, we should be on our way.

So he spoke, the Head Librarian, and so I found myself moved almost to a murder spree; so strong was the bond of loyalty that mine men have for me, and so well do they know me! Never would I have thought anyone so familiar with mine character.

Now, of course, I might have to murder this Sven, for he is in direct competition with the Head Librarian, but alas — the road ahead is clear.

“Lead on, minion!” I say, and so we go, to kill Sven!

And also, to punish mine ex-wife for her traitorous body-switching ways.

 

Unintentionally Helpful Villain #14: Karogar, Cursed Be Its Name

Read the previous entry here. Read the first entry in the series here.

Diary Entry #200

Ah, Karogar. The birthplace of mine own greatest failure.

It’s a filthy place, filled with pampered humans, haughty elves and bored, rich dwarves. Artists! Each one will tell you that’s what they are, and they’ll smile and look at you with thinly veiled arrogance, all the while explaining how your art has no merit!

Pish posh. What could possibly have ‘artistic merit’ if not the myriad shades of blood?!

If mine memory serves me right and proper, ’twas five days that  I spent within this accursed city. Here it was that I first lay within a great wide bark — and dreamed the dark dreams that led me to mine great empire. The empire mine wife even now plots to destroy with mine old body, mine own arcane strength!

Bah, I am salivating profusely once again. Mine magical quill begins scribbling away whenever I allow this wrath take over mine better self.

Diary Entry #201

Mine search for the ex-wife hath proven fruitless. What I did find was a small army of Inquisitors, all too ready for mine appearance in the Art Halls of Karogar.

Aye, they hath caught me, and bound mine skin with rope. They remain obsessed with my witch’s magicks, no matter what I offer them. I cannot change in form, for they have enchantments keeping me locked unto this ridiculous body.

And yes, I am dictating unto mine magical quill through magical means. Do not question it.

Diary Entry #202

I have now offered mine captors a number of treasured items and experiences: several painful and gruesome ways to die; crossbow bolts to their knee caps; precious last words with their significant others, children and elder relatives; a mountain of goblin shite.

I hear that goblin shite is much appreciated by humans for the variety of medicinal values that can be found within it.

The Inquisitorial Order still refuses to release me from mine bindings.

Diary Entry #205

The Church of the Holy Blame hath pronounced that there is much to blame about mine feminine wiles. A crier has been crying out crimes, real and imagined, for the past three days now.

I have been tied to a balefire for some time, waiting for the Inquisitor-boy to finish mine list of grievances. Or mine wife’s. There is a surprising amount of overlap.

It is mildly uncomfortable.

Diary Entry #210 

The young man that hath read mine great list of crimes, real or imagined, hath perished due to lack of breath. Another took his place. Might some fiend light the stake already?

Diary Entry #211 

This is torture! Such monotonous voice, such inept usage of words, one coming after the other. I cannot stand it anymore!

Diary Entry #212 

I hath attempted to break my bonds. While not fully successful, I hath managed to grab a torch and set the stake afire. It has burned now for one whole day. I feel the most terrible itch on my calf from the fire.

The monotonous boy-creature will not shut up. Where do they find these fanatics?!

Diary Entry #213

‘Tis enchanted wood. It simply won’t stop burning. The young Inquisitor will not shut up.

I will not die. I will instead laugh at them all! At the fire, at the lad, at their ineptitude in killing witches! What fools, what blithering, magnificent idiots!

But who might that be, in the distance? Doth mine feline eyes deceive me?!

Thank you for reading the latest Unintentional Villain adventure! I needed to take a few weeks easy, to rediscover my awful inner comedian, but now I’m back, and my vision for the series and the blog — restored and stronger than ever! I’m pretty much like Palpatine in that one Revenge of the Sith scene. In order to ensure the security and continuing stability of this blog, Magnus Writes will be reorganized into the *BLANK* to ensure progress and awesome fantastical shenanigans! 

 

 

 

The Unintentionally Helpful Villain #13: A Horrible Truth

Diary Entry #0197

Seventeen-score men died unto that faithful night whence I chose to lead the disgruntled women–wives, grandmothers and daughters, one and all–against the brutal injustice of the patriarchy. The next morning they all wept and came to regret their actions. Their tears should’ve touched me…but only filled me with great distaste for all of humanity.

Thus did I learn that mine wife’s body can persuade men and women to act as its inhabitant demands of them. I attempted to call this ‘Feminine wiles’ but, alas, my ensorcelled quill–which acts as my sometime editor–took issue with this particular term of endearment.

Bah, if only I had the limitless magical energies that lay within mine vessel, mine body! Then I wouldn’t need suffer unwanted editorial opinions such as this.

Diary Entry #0198

I left the unnamed town, with its predominantly female population, behind me. I took A Horrible Truth with me, of course; such fine artwork has no place in a rundown little town with no name.

I particularly enjoy the strokes of the brush that painted it… Especially as they have been made by my own gauntleted hand. There is but one place in this insipid human kingdom in which mine wife would go, if she is pursuing the life of an artist.

Karogar, cursed be its name.

 

 

The Unintentionally Helpful Villain, Volume #12: Social Upheaval

Diary Entry #0190

Mine powers of tracking have proven useless in the quest to discover where Amara, mine treacherous, body-snatching former wife, has ran off to. I will not give up, however. She cannot hide for long.

Diary Entry #0191

I came across an apple merchant today. Apples, he told me, blessed by the gauntleted hand of the Dark Lord himself!

I did freeze in my spot as these words left the human’s lips. What fortuitous happenstance that this man should cross mine exact path!

Not nearly as fortuitous was the trader’s ability to answer mine benign questions; why, I had plucked merely one of his eyes out with my claws when he did succumb to the terrible finality of death.

I hope my Librarians are working on ways to deal with that entire ‘death’ debacle before too long.

The poor apple merchant did scream two words before his last breath did get expunged from his body. “Golden…! Superb…!” or something of the sort. Curious man, that one.

His apples are spectacular, however. I have now taken his cart, and will pretend to be a vendor of apple-ish delights!

Diary Entry #0193

I came across a small town today. The tracks of the merchant led me here, and so it was my hope that I would find mine wife doing whatever it is that body-snatching wives do when they’re not busy being dreadful.

A big deal for me, this; first small town I walked into, since being cursed within this wretched body. First one I didn’t rip apart with mine wererabbit teeth. Ah, but how I wished to!

Upon mine entry into the market, I was immediately attacked–but not by peasants with forks, as I have come to expect from small towns. Nay, I was instead assaulted by men whose sensibilities had been offended. They decried mine advances upon the ‘honorable business of trade and free market that only good, King-kissed men have any business doing,’ and then proceeded to explain how mine presence would be much better appreciated in the ‘werehouse.’

Unnerving was their knowledge of my nature as shapeshifting wererabbit, and so I demanded they tell me if the ‘Dark Lord’ had left word to deter me from mine quest. I do not believe any of them heard me; so loud was their constant prattling. I did not much care to listen any further, and so I took my cart and left.

Later did I find an inn; I have heard of these places, of course, through mine many worldly affairs. Did not expect so much ogling to be taking place inside. Questioning the men as to the dangers that excessive staring might bring upon their bloodshot eyes was reason for laughter alone. None would explain to me! Thoughts of ripping their spines until they could laugh no longer came quickly upon me, but I persevered; for I did not wish to announce mine arrival.

A maid-like girl then took me away, and so she explained to me things. Such oppressive things did she tell me, that I was filled with fervor and so, before the night was done, I… led a revolt and so slaughtered every ogling fool in town.

It was only later that I discovered A Horrible Truth.

 

Ten Things I would do if I were a Surgeon in a Grimdark Fantasy Setting, Part 01

  1. Bullets! Forty years I have watched as military arts evolved, changing the balance between  all those different peoples who move in and out of the Barrowlands, bringing with them an ever-more complex array of ranged weaponry. These…guns, as they are called, are fascinating contraptions; I have seen a squadron of ill-prepared mages ripped apart under a single round of fire; my hands have had to
  2. In that time, I have treated bullet wounds properly, watching meanwhile as dozens upon dozens of my ‘colleagues’ pour arcane boiling oil into men and women who would be better served if the bullets within their bodies were to be removed.
    I know very few men who’ve a liking for lead poisoning. But those charlatans sure enjoy the coin they receive from peddling the Alchemist Guild’s concoction.
  3. Duty of care goes beyond caring for one’s patients alone. It runs much deeper than that; we physicians, no matter the occupation, must seek to further our knowledge. To the betterment of medicine no price is too small to pay.
  4. A good reason to go after that mob of alchemists; to snoop around a little, anyhow. I’ve not the friends I used to, when I was younger. I am an old man now, my hair greying and receeding–I’ve grown fat, for Gods’ sakes.
  5. My hands’re still dexterous, and strong, however. When I grab one of the boy-apprentices from the Guild, and squeeze, the boy sings. The tales it tells…

And that’s it for today, I’m afraid. A bit shorter than usual, since I’m short on time! Today’s partial list was inspired by Ambroise Paré, the physician who, in 1536, changed the course of medicine by taking a bullet out of a bullet wound, instead of cauterizing it with the bullet still inside; all because he’d ran out of the substance. You can read more about him here.

The Unintentionally Helpful Villain, Volume 11: Woodland Animus

Continued from here.

Diary Entry #0180

Four days it took me. Four days, to learn of mine wife’s mysterious ways; or need I say her body’s? ‘Tis a treacherous thing, this vessel; and much more besides.

Now at least, I have learnt a most incongruous skill to transform mine body into that of a worm’s. If never have you seen a worm carry unto its mouth a book and magical quill…may you never come upon such grotesque imagery.

The jaw aches alone!

I also feel a peculiar sensation that threatens to engulf my whole being. Hunger, I think. No wonder it kills the poor, defenseless peasants.

Something moved! There, beyond the rivulet! Surely it must be food; I intend to find out, one way or another!

Diary Entry #0181

Tamara’s body is much different from mine. Softer, for one; when I caught up to the rabbit, its heart did not burst with fear. Instead, it addressed me. A speaking, squeaking long-eared critter.

I couldn’t make this nonsense up if I tried!

We spoke at some length, then, and with no persuasion at all, the creature fell into mine thrall. Now, it has sworn a blood oath, to serve me for as long as it, and any of its kin remain alive. In return, it has only asked me to enslave and burn all the hunters of this land.

I call it Squiggins.

Diary Entry #0182

I may have eaten Squiggins with the aid of several hunters.

The hunters have now sworn their eternal allegiance to me, and their only request is for me to rid this land of the deadly wererabbits. The infestation within this portion of the Kingdom of Throzia is quite something,  I hear.

These peasants’ lustful gazes annoy me greatly, however.

Diary Entry #0185

It appears that with the tasting of some wererabbit meat, I have learned to transform mine new form unto that of…well, a deadly critter with venom leaking from its teeth, obviously. For three days I couldn’t quite control mine feral urges, as I grew accommodated to this form. Several farms, a few villages and two towns have turned into dust.

The hunters reacted somewhat prematurely to my new form, and are now taking a nap. I am certain that the arcane symbols that I marked upon these men’s bodies will change their minds. Or turn them unto my brainless thralls. Whichever happens first.

Psst. It shall be the latter, not the former.

Mine great magical energies may be displaced, but I still possess the knowledge and the intuition. And Tamara’s body, as alien as it has proven to be, shall aid me in reacquiring all that is mine.

Oh, dear. I do believe a piece of hunter is stuck in my teeth.

Saturday Night Gaming: The Shrouded Isle

Have you ever dreamt of being the head cultist and spiritual leader of a small post-apocalyptic village, working to awaken your great patron-god, Chernobog? Was your dream colored in Lovecraftian greens?

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Did it look something like that?

No? You’ve no clue what I’m talking about? Well, I can’t say I blame you.

This is the Shrouded Isle, a game with this exact premise. It’s a bit more complex than picking a villager and ending their life; each one has minor or major virtues and vices, which affect you in positive and negative ways, respectfully. Each run of the game is broken up in 12 seasons–it takes place during 3 years– during which you have to sacrifice 12 of your fellow villagers.

The villagers, there’s thirty of them, and none come from the most distinct genetic material; each is a member of one of five families, whose primarchs control some different suppression apparatus — the Iosefka family is in charge of the fervor in the village by building monuments and spreading the holy word of Chernobog’s imminent return, the Kegnni make sure that your villagers remain proper and ignorant, and so on and so forth.

It’s a game about information, and acting upon it. During each season, you’ve got three months to vote on the activities your cultists make. While you’ve got five councilors — one from each esteemed family on your shrouded isle — you can pick to work on one to three of your councilors’ activities each month; the more the activities worked on, the lesser are the returns for you. It’s a perfectly logical system that allows you to discover more about your villagers’ vices and virtues at only a small cost.

Vices and virtues are also found out by inquiries, of which you will get some, as long as you’re in good standing with the different houses; it’s always difficult to decide whom to use your first couple of inquiries, on account of knowing virtually nothing other than some cursory flavor text, give n to you by the house leaders whenever you scroll over the members of the family.

shroudedisle1

Villagers and the five attributes of the entire village–Ignorance, Fervor, Discipline, Penitence and Obedience–are not the only ones you have to be on the lookout for; each house also has an approval rating that raises when you continually vote for their advisers, and falls whenever you ignore them. Approval also plummets whenever you decide to sacrifice someone; particularly if you have no proof, or even an idea, of an advisor’s transgressions.

‘This might all seem like a lot to follow, and I did have some difficulty making sense of it all during my first game; which is why one of the families quickly rose in revolt, and did me in, thus ending playthrough #01. That said, once I began all over again, it made sense and, in less than two hours, I stood above the precipice, awakening good old ‘bog and watching him as he stretched those holy wings of his.

The Shrouded Isle is all about revealing information one month at a time, and using that information to the fullest. There’s no overarching storyline, when one really could’ve worked quite well.The art-style is good but minimalist, and there are about…eight screens in the game overall, with an additional three-four cutscenes.

It’s entertaining for what it is…but I’m not certain that it’s worth the price tag of 10 euro. That has to be its biggest weakness; the Isle simply doesn’t have enough content. After my two and a half hours, I have absolutely no desire to go back and replay it in its current form; if the developers introduce a content-focused patch, perhaps I will.

The Shrouded Isle is an interesting experiment that’s built around a cool concept, strong aesthetics and ambiance, but hobbled by lack of variety and lacking a cohesive story.

Should you play it? Only you could say that, and I hope to have provided all the tools necessary to help with your decision. Happy Gaming!

PS: I know there are different endings–but I didn’t feel curious enough to spend another few hours unlocking them.