Thursday, 14 December 2017

What do you think of this?

Top-of-my-head encounter advice for Silent Titans

Running an Encounter

An encounter is any time the player characters come into contact with something potentially lethal, dramatic, interesting, useful, active or complicated. The exact borders of what it and is not an ‘encounter’ blur a little, if a nice old lady pulls out a knife then a social situations can turn into an encounter, if the PC’s bluff or persuade a potentially deadly enemy then a tactical situation can become a social one.

In Legions Fort, almost everything will be a social situation, inside a Titan, almost everything will be an encounter.

The Into the Odd ruleset which powers Silent Titans is not designed with elaborate tactical complexity in mind, this has been sacrificed for simplicity of apprehension and rapidity of decision, with the hope that the freed up cognitive surplus goes into investigation of the imagined world.

When running a combat encounter most of the interesting complexity comes from the environment, the social and personal situation, the strange nature of the opponent and the use of various simple and unusual objects, from rope to machine guns.

Here are a few fragments of typical old-school advice;

·        It doesn’t have to start with an attack.
o   Maybe the PCs become aware of a strange sensory element.
o   Maybe they have to make a bad choice and expose themselves to danger.
·        Make a sketch map.
o   Make the map interesting.
o   Its good if there are levels, things to climb and fall down.
o   Its good if parts of the map are separated, by a creek, a cliff, ruins, a fallen tree, strange rails etc.
o   Its good if there are things to run in and out of, things to hide inside, cover and occluded spaces.
o   Its good if there are things held in tension, like things held by ropes, things leaning against other things, large things that could roll downhill, things that could easily tip over, elements that can flow and escape like water, animals, oil or fire,
o   And of course its good if things can collapse or burn down, or break.
·        If an opponent can pick someone up, throw them, mutate them, blind them or alter them somehow rather than kill them, then that’s good.
·        Remind the players its always ok to run.
·        The advice about decisions, dilemmas and consequences all applies to combat as much as anything else; “You can try to save your friend, but it will expose you to this.” “You can try to get into a better position but it will lose you time and this might happen.”
·        Be honest and direct about risks and dangers.
·        By sympathetic and supportive, but roll openly and never flake a bad result.
·        And don’t do their work for them.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A Review of Vances Lyonesse (with spoilers)

(I did review Suldruns Garden on Goodreads earlier and there are bits of that review in this.)

First, some generalities;

Vance is a prose obsessive, though not with a heavily-rhythm'd euphonic 'sounded' line. Instead of sombre rolls of declarative speech, we get words as playful toys, his characters are always thinking and manipulating, rather than emoting and revealing. Flute music rather than drums.

And he shows an enormous and overwhelming dedication to, and incredible talent for, the embroidery of names and places. He has a kind of Genius for it.

This feeds into his meticulous worldbuilding, and correctness in matters of scale and location. (I suspect stuff like relative troop numbers and economic capacities was worked out behind the scenes.) Distance, as a dramatic element, matters. A big part of Suldruns Garden is a man desperately trying to travel a long way and being stopped, and the movements of everyone else are all locked together.

Its perhaps a little mediocre to say that a story has its times and distances sorted out, but it does also play into Vances love of procedural problem solving. Problems are never (for a pov character), simply elided with "oh they did it because they have heroic power". They have to solve it with the tools at hand and you have to see them solving it.

In a way, his stories are a contest between procedural problem solvers - with the 'hero' of Suldruns Garden effectively being the best problem-solver and the story of the 'hero' being one of bad things happening to him and him surviving them until he gets really, really ruthless about problem solving.

The grasping amorality of Vances characters is curious, and unrealistic. Not in that it doesn't happen, but that it can't happen that totally or that absolutely. Even in a corrupt kleptocracy, sometimes you ask for a drink and the price is just the price. I doubt any society could survive for long with everyone acting like a Jack Vance character.

The characters run all the way from predatory rapist sub-magician, to near sociopathic realpolitik monarch to magicians; pervy, indifferent and bad, to the good characters, who are often heroic, but rarely idealistic, and who are always, unquestionably, tricky, lateral, practical and extremely defensive about money.

There is an obsession with the driving mediocrity of a lot of peoples shitty ambitions and the enormous length many of them will go to in order to fulfil them. There are many, many, many, MANY of what I call 'grey negotiation scenes' where two characters argue at length about the precise nature of a deal, with a lot of self-justification and itemisation with a deep sense that at least one side, and probably both, are trying to fuck each other over while retaining the slightest veneer of civility.

I hate this kind of conversation in real life and I don't really like them here. They do work very well at highlighting the dark and threatening nature of the world, almost anyone could screw you over at any time for the most venal and pathetic of reasons. In particular, a scene in the last book with a group of travelling entertainers invisibly and relentlessly pressing against the social boundaries of a par of travelling children, culminating in their total robbery, is almost tangibly unpleasant.

(The same scene makes clear the enormous, but rarely directly stated vulnerability of women in Vances world, dependent on men for protection and also afraid of their would-be protectors, should their mood change.)

And it fits with the dark logic of the Fairytale, where any particular deal or mislaid word can crush you, so that works.

I keep wondering what the hell happened in Jack Vances life, but it looks like the great depression hit when he was 14 so maybe that explains it?

He has a fondness for sociopaths; the two layers of the story of Suldruns Garden are driven by two different sociopaths - King Casmir, who wants power and feels almost nothing, and Ffaude Carfilhiot, a magic man made from one third of the soul of a Sorceress who breathed in a bit of the burnt evil third and is now a handsome narcissistic villain. (Another Carfilhiot-type is re-introduced in later books, a Ska renagade who is almost perfectly Iago-esqe in his remorseless power-hunger).

The material world is unforgiving - but the people in it aren't. Suldrun and her lover refuse to kill a creepy priest - he entirely predictably fucks them over by revealing her pregnancy - and then revealing the identity of the dead baby they used to hide their real child. In later books he eventually screws the family again by revealing more information. He is eventually drowned. Sometimes being good and kind gets you screwed - at various other times it helps people stay alive, gain advantages or meet important allies.

With this comes a general air of tragedy and inevitability. When people are making bad choices, especially when considered generationaly - as a result of the way they were brought up or of what they have experienced - their situations seem almost fated, as if being who they are, what they are, and believing what they do about themselves, there is nothing else they could do in that situation other than what they did.

Human cruelty is assumed almost as standard.

Not discussing information assumed as standard.

Cruelty and advantage have a voice, they talk and describe themselves at length, they are verbose. Moments of affection, friendship and loyalty tend to be silent. They are inferred by action and event - not self-described or discussed till moments of stress and then often as a threat. (Affection and friendship being extremely double-edged blades in Vances mind and maybe his sympathies being split.)

There’s a fair amount of sex in Lyonesse, with sexual desire as a mover of action. (Almost as much as in the real world.) A suffused physicality and general hornieness. There really is quite a lot of inferred, threatened and actual sexual assault now I come to think of it. Plus inferred intra-generational attraction. Also I think a twelve year old girl gets raped by a giant?

Christians are somewhat rubbish in Vance, as they are in Cornwell. The Holy Grail turns up, does no good for anyone and is ultimately lost in a footnote.

Vance has his science-fictional demon-dimensions for transcendence and his own moral logic which has nothing to do with Christianity. He would probably see it as a scam.

Jack Vance is not a transcendent man.

The structure is interesting.

Lyonesse is a non-story-shaped-story, that is making a bit of a point about not being shaped like a standard narrative

Different power levels interweave, the plot loops elliptically and this artifice mimics the strangeness of our reality. The reader, like the characters, never knows what small and apparently irrelevant element will turn out to actually be insanely super-important.

At the end of the book, a strange figure tied up in a wizards cupboard manages to loose an arm.

In fact, a Witch, upset by the deeds of men, and with the aid of a Demonic colour green, has launched a decades-long multi-layered assassination plot which included her apparent death and subdivision into multiple quasi-autonomous sub-personalities. .

The green is at war in another dimension with even stranger dimensional powers and ultimately loses, or loses this battle anyway. But it's this struggle which leads to the loosing of the figure.

The figure is actually the representation of a gogmagogic giant, trapped on the oceans floor. In the cupboard he raises his free arm and out in the sea an arm the size of a nation rears up.

They get the guy in the cupboard back under control, the arm at sea goes back down. The volume of water displaced by this causes a tidal wave which wipes an entire coast of Lyonesse, including a timeless city of Legend. This is probably the biggest loss of life in the book.

The chaos caused by this forms the trigger for the main evil King to launch his invasion plan, which ends up slaughtering even more people and leads to his doom and the resolution of the story.

This happens towards the end of book three. A footnote at the beginning of book one says the main harbour to Lyonesse town, in mythic ages past, was carved out with the aid of a sub-aquatic giant.

I barely noticed this footnote (two books back), and with the kind of book Lyonesse is, there are probably a lot more of this kind of thing that I didn't detect. Presumably someone, somewhere, has done a website.

And that, in miniature, is the structure of Lyonesse. There's probably a name for it.

(Vances integration of Faerie into a near-real pseudo-medievalism is very well done and surprisingly fun. There are deep-Faerie zones where you are entirely likely to encounter say, a Witch, who hides you in her hat and sells you to a Troll who intends to eat you. and as you get further and further away from that space fairy stuff and magic  turns into a mysterious threat instead of an everyday danger - and then there are areas of the story where stuff like economics and politics are exponentially more important BUT it is always reasonable everywhere to consider magic and if someone turns up saying that they don't know where they are because they offended a rabbits wife and the rabbit was a butler to a fairy lord and the lord wrote their name in a puddle with a stalk of golden grass and they need to find water from that exact puddle with the stalk still floating in it and drink it to remember - then that very well might be the truth.)

Bernard Cornwell says he makes his historical dramas with a 'Big Story' in the background, and a 'Small Story', of these particular people in the grip of these larger events, in the foreground.

If we take Cornwells foreground/background deal as something like a classic painting, then we should maybe think of Lyonesse as an Escher image of a sort, the background becomes the foreground becomes the midground becomes the border becomes the figure.

So the uncertainty and the shifting perspective gives us a particular kind of feeling, perhaps one of indistinct wholeness.

A lot of the people reviewing Lyonesse say find it hard to summarise a mid-level synthesis of what it is. They can talk about the whole thing and say the writing is very good and it made them feel a certain way, they can do a granular analysis and talk about the individual events and trace the lines of the various plots but the mid-theme and mid-range of thought is a bit complex.

Some people say that they find it hard to explain the spell cast by the book, that while reading, and on considering it had aesthetic and emotional power, but when they come to pick up its parts, to describe it in 'plain text', they find it hard to show the thing that moved them.

It might be that the (I actually stopped writing here for a day and now I can't remember my point). It might be that the Escher-hive structure helps to cast this spell. The eyes of the reader, like that of the cast, are deluded by the movement of events up and down the scale in unpredictable ways, reader and character are almost helpless to fully understand and predict what will be, we can only wait and attend, trying to make the best of developing events.

People often say it’s like a Fairy Tale, but there is no Fairy Tale anywhere that is like Lyonesse. It’s a hive of buzzing Fairy Stories, all writhing and bustling through each others paths.

Monday, 11 December 2017

I Am Beginning to Hate This Guy - FQ Book 4 Cantos 10, 11 & 12

I've been slow on this recently, maybe depression, maybe laziness and maybe just because Edmund is beginning to really irritate me.

Partly its the grind of the rapes which, yes, are a common convention in Renaissance literature and of which no particular individual one is really bothersome, but jesus christ there are a lot. I mean there are a LOT, and they do not stop coming.

And the rapes are just another branch of the gender politics. I swear to God if I need to read about another flawlessly blonde virtue/whore complex situation I am going to fucking stab myself.

Right now you are probably thinking I'm a liberal wiener, maybe I should just git gud at Renaissance literature, but its not one thing, its the whole thing. The drumbeat of virgins and sluts and NOTHING ELSE.

"Oh hey its a hot girl lost in the woods. Hey girl, still got your hymen?"


I know I shouldn't be dragging my irony-drenched 21stC perspective into this. It is the easiest thing to do. But sometimes the irony is a defence against, or a mediator with, a deeper and more legitimate alienation and moral anger.

No matter how much you think you don't care about this shit, I swear to god, if you read through SEVEN HUNDRED PAGES  of it you are going to be reaching for the blue hair dye and hitting 'like and subscribe' on Buzzfeed.

Partly its the exceptionally boring 'list/architecture' Canto's which read to me like a man who has set himself an obscure and particular problem, got tired of it half-way through, and then just grrround his way through it.

The end of Book 4 is particularly bad. Canto 10 is an architecture/adventure site Canto in which Spencer is mainly describing a particular place, controlled by and symbolising a particular power structure. In this case its the Temple of Venus, and Spenser is talking about Love.

And these are perfectly reasonable ideas. Spenser takes a social and/or physical structure he and his readers will know well, the castle, the royal court, the fancy gathering, and uses this structure as the basis for a spiritual and moral investigation and interaction. So our characters are having an 'adventure' and moving through space and interacting with people and things, and they are also essentially performing a detailed and elaborate sermon at the same time.

Its very good. It's signature Spenser, its his classic 'go-to'. It's very interesting THE FIRST FIFTY FUCKING TIMES.

And we get some classic visualisations from this. Remember Furor and how he fed on anger and his Hag, Occasion who kept prodding him and who had no hair on her rear side because you had to grab her before the arrived? And the Gold Giant Distain, "and did distain to be so called, and all who so him called".

There is always some gold in Spenser, even in this shit Cantos. Canto 10 has a part where Scudamour gets into the Temple of Venus, he has to get the shield with Cupid on it from a giant and people in the Temple fear the shield because Cupid is a major Big Bad in the Faerie Queene, which is interesting, then when he finds Amoret, there is a line about how he needs love (Amoret) because he never thought he would ever be loved by anyone, which is a very Spencerian glimmer of humanity in the relentless gilded verse.

And gilded verse is right I think. A lot of it is like a late Spielberg film. Its rarely _bad_, you are getting decent quality most of the time, with lots of nice little glimmers of originality and imagination, but my god it goes on. And I do not know or care much where it is going.

Partly its because there aren't many fight scenes any more, and the ones we have have become repetitive.

Partly its because Britomarts Canto didn't have much Britomart.

Partly its because the opening Heroic Quest Books with a pretty tight focus have given way to this looping telenovella rambling cast of characters so I feel like its hard to say what any particular Book is really about. Book 4 is meant to be about friendship, but all the friendship stuff is over by the middle really, and handled by divine deus ex machina and the rest is all guys chasing Florimell and trying to get Amoret back to Scudamour. Its like mainlining a Netflix series. There are no memory gaps between Books or Cantos any more, its all one big identityless blur.

Partly its that from his historical record Spenser was just a bad guy, particularly in his colonial enthusiasms. This is in the long tradition of Arthurian writers kind of being scumbags;

Mallory - essentially a gangster, possible rapist.

Chaucer - by modern standards, a rapist.

Spenser - enthusiastic colonialist of the 'this-massacre-was-necessary and we-must-destroy-the-culture kind.

T.H. White - hid in Ireland during WWII whilst banging on about England. Some creepy sexual stuff.

Marion Zimmer Bradley - look it up.


Well what happens at the end of Book Four?

Canto 10 - Scudamour describes how he won his Cupid Shield and stole Amoret from the temple of Venus. They are both together now I think? So presumably they are done with that.

Canto 11 - This describes a marriage between two English rivers, the Thames and I forget the other one. It's quasi-fun. There's a big boring list of Neptunian characters and sea-associated mythical figures. Then there is a list of English rivers given as if it was a Royal court with the Thames being the main King and the others being like courtiers. Tributaries are supporters like pages and squires for the main rivers. There are some charming descriptions. Its long as fuck.

Canto 12 - This big river-marriage takes place at the house of Proteus, where Real Florimell (tm) is still imprisoned. Marinell, the guy who Britomart knocked down early in this book, is invited so he can get to know the literalised metaphors, but as a half-mortal can't eat thier food. He's wandering around feeling sad when he hears Florimell lamenting, basically about how much of a tool he is.

Marinell falls in immediate love. And doesn't rescue Florimell, instead he goes home.

When he gets home he gets so sad from love that he loses weight and gets sick, just like Arthurs Squire (there's another of those repetitions again, they become increasingly less charming the more they happen).

His oppressive and irritating mother who forced him not to hang out with girls OR HE WOULD DIE, wheedles the truth out of him. He's in love with a girl. What girl. Oh this girl kept prisoner by Proteus.

Then the mother essentially just complains to King Neptune, with her argument being composed of;

60% - This love is killing my son, therefore Proteus is kinda murdering him.

30% - By keeping this chick in a prison, Proteus is ignoring your law.

10% - Blah, blah, blah abduction, kidnap rape, wrong etc etc whatever.

This works.

Neptune gives her his seal or whatever, she takes that to Proteus, Proteus gives up Florimell in bad grace, she takes Florimell home.

Florimell has Marinell, Marinell has Flormell. Both are happy.

End of Book.

So Marinell ended up with the worlds hottest girl by complaining to his mum, who complained to the King. No jousts, no combat, no gyants. I don't know if this is meant to be funny or not.


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Like to a storme, which hovers under skie - FQ Book 4 Canto 9

Haivng already killed the main bad guy, Arthur gets entrance to his keep through a surprisingly Murderhobo-eque method;

"That headlesse tyrants tronke he reard from ground,
And having ympt the head to it agayn,
Upon his usuall beast it firmly bound,
And made it so to ride, as it alive was found.

Then did he take that chaced Squire, and layd
Before the ryder, as he captive were,
And made his Dwarfe, though with unwilling ayd,
To guide the beast, that did his maister beare,
Till to his castle they approched neare.
Whom when the watch, that kept continuall war
Saw comming home; all voide of doubtfull feare,
He running downe, the gate to him unbard;
Whom straight the Prince ensuing, in together far'd."

Arthur takes over the castle, robs everything, marries everyone available to anyone convenient and leaves with Amoret.

They run into a giant pile of Knights, Paridell, Blandamour and two more, all fighting Britomart and Scudamour, its still about the whole False Florimell situation.

Arthur wades in, intitially trying to make peace;

"But they so farre from peace or pataience were,
That all at once at him gan fiercely flie,
And lay on load, as they him downe would beare;
Like to a storme, which hovers under skie
Long here and there, and round about doth stie,
At length breakes downe in raine, and haile, and sleet,
First from one coast, till nought thereof be drie;
And then another, till that likewise fleet;
And so from side to side till all the world it weet."

So he just beats everyone up and tries again, they are more ameanable.

Things calm down and they ask Scudamour (no-one has mentioned Amoret, I assume shes right there, possibly a big reveal next canto?) to tell his story....

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

There is no picture of the guy om the Dromedary - FQ Book 4 Canto 8

Our Squire is still being miserable in the forest, weeping and wailing by night and day when, by chance, a Turtle Dove 'Who likewise late had lost her dearest love,' sees his sad plight.

The Dove adds her song to his;

"Shee sitting by him as on ground he lay,
Her mournefull notes full pitaously did frame,
And thereof made a lamentable lay,
So sensibly compyld, that in the same,
Him seemed oft he heard his owne right name.
With that he forth would poure so plenteous teares,
And beat his breast unworthy of such blame,
And knocke his head, and rend his rugged heares,
That could have perst the hearts of Tigers & of Beares."

The Dove becomes his friend and stays with him, sharing his food, until one day, on impulse, he pulls out a jewel given to him by Belphebe;

"That was a Ruby of right perfect hew,
Shap'd like a heart, yet bleeding of the wound,
And with a litle golden chaine about it bound."

He ties the ruby about the Doves neck, and she quickly flies away.

The Dove flies straight to Belphebe who reckognises the gem and reaches for it. The Dove flies away, leading her;

"Till that at length into that forrest wide,
She drew her far, and led with slow delay"

Leading her right to the Squire;

"Eftsoones she flew into his fearlesse hand,"

Belphebe is Chivalric enough that she 'Knew him not, but pittied much his case," while the Squire can only sob and wash her feet with his tears;

"Ah wofull man, what heavens hard disgrace,
Or wrath of cruell wight on thee ywrake?
Of selfe disliked life doth thee thus wretched make?

If heaven, then none may it redresse or blame,
Sith to his powre we all are subject borne:
If wrathrull wight, then fowle rebuke and shame
Be theirs, that have so cruell thee forlorne;"

Hearing this, the Squire speaks;

"Ne any but your selfe, o dearest dred,
Hath done this wrong, to wreake on worthlesse wight
Your high displeasure, through misdeeming bred:"

And hearing this, Bephebe abandons her 'inburning wrath' and they are both happy, apparently for a long time becasue the next verse says they lived together for quite a while with Arthur having no idea of where his Squire has got to.

And that brings us to Arthur himself; he comes upon Amoret and Aemylia starving and wounded after their encounter with the woodwose.

Ok, so -

1. Amoret gets lost and captured, meets AEmelia.

2. They both get saved by the Squire and Belphebe.

3. Belphebe loses it with the Squire and leaves him.

4. He has enough time to build a hut, grow a beard, change physically so much his ex boss doesn't recognise him and carve every available tree B E L P H E B E.

5. Then Arthur bumps into him, doesn't recognise him.

6. THEN - Some time later, Arthur finds Amoret and AEmelia, starving and still wounded from the encounter with the Woodwose.

What the fucking fuck.

Ok, fuck it. So Arthurs got them now on his Horse after succouring them with his nectar and questioning them about Belphebe.

They come upon a cottage;

"And entring in, found none therein abide,
But one old woman sitting there beside,
Upon the ground in ragged rude attyre,
With filthy lockes about her scattered wide,
Gnawing her nayles for felnesse and for yre,
And there out sucking venime to her parts entyre.

A foule and loathly creature sure in sight,
And in conditions to be loath'd no lesse:
For she was stuft with rancour and despight
Up to the throat, that oft with bitternesse
It forth would breake, and gush in great excesse,
Pouring out streames of poysone and of gall
Gainst all, that truth or vertue doe professe,
Whome she with leasings lewdly did miscall,
And wickedly backbite: her name men Sclaunder call.

Her nature is all goodnesse to abuse,
And causeless crimes continually to frame,
With which she guiltlesse persons may accuse,
And steale away the crowne of their good name;
Ne ever Knight so bold, ne ever Dame
So chast and loyall liv'd, but she would strive
With forged cause them falsely to defame;
Ne ever thing so well was doen alive,
But she with blame would blot, & of due praise deprive."

Spenser takes an unusual self-commentary to point out that some readers may be looking askanse at two Ladies spending time with a Knight alone.

I have no fucking idea why he might be saying this. There have been, maybe several million rapes so far, and more murders. Can it possibly be true that in this cauldron of hypocrutical depravity there has been no situation with a lady alone in a room with a knight?

Regardless, he tells us not to worry becasue these are 'antique times' and people were innocent and virtuous then, apparently ignoring the entirity of the rest of the poem that he already wrote.

They leave and scandal follows them screaming shit;

"So she them seeing past the reach of eare,
Against the stones and trees did rayle anew,
Till she had duld the sting, which in her tongs end grew."


Now begins a freaky interlude, Arthur and the girls encounter another 'High Level' bad guy. Someone 'Ryding upon a Dromedare', 'of statue huge' and;

"From his fearfull eyes two fierie beames,
More sharpe then points of needles did proceede,
Shooting forth farre away two flaming streames,
Full of sad powre, that poysonous bale did breed"

"From powrefull eyes close venim doth convay
Into the lookers hart, and killeth farre away."

This guys is chasing a Squire (a new one) on a fast horse holding a screaming dwarf.

Arthur mounts up and we get Spencerian fight scene, eventually he hits the guy;

So furiously, that ere he wist, he found
His head before him tombling on the ground.
The whiles his babling tongue did yet blaspheme
And curse his God, that did him so confound;
The whiles his life ran foorth in bloudie streame,
His soule descended downe into the Stygian reame."

That's how I'd like to go out.

We find out about who this guy is from the Squire

Ok, so this is a long relation, I will summarise. Remember the Squire who was going to meet Aemelia, but they never did and she got captured by the Woodwose? Well the Squire got captured by Corflambo (the guy with the magic eyes), and thrown in his dungoen. There the giants daughter, Poeana fell for him and tries to woo him. The keys to the castle are held by this Dwarf, who works for Poeana.

This particular totally different squire  hears about the captured Squire and goes to rescue him. Luckily he looks just like his best friend who got captured. The Dwarf sees him, and since Squire 2 (free) looks exactly like Squire 1 (captive) he assumes Squire  has escaped and locks him up with his friend.

His friend is like WTF. Squire 2 is like chill, I got this.

Next day the Poeana asks for the hot guy shes got imprisoned, so the Dwarf brings up Squire 2, as they look the same.

Squire 2 isn't sworn to AWmelia or anyone else and when she comes on to him is just like 'sure, I'm into you girl, I get it now. Not so he can get with a sexy Giants daughter (who also has magic powers) but just so he can help his friend.

He plays it chill with her for a while till she relaxes his chains, then grabs the Dwarf with the keys and GTF out.

Not a great plan as he was chased by her dad, but he ran into a chivalric superman who took out the bad guy so hey, here we are. End Canto.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

WOODWOSE - FQ Book 4 Canto 7

We open with a flashback to Brit and Amoret leaving Satyranes joust. As previously described, they pause and Britomart rests;

"The whiles faire Amoret, of nought affeared,
Walkt through the wood, for pleasure, or for need;"


"It was to weet a wilde and salvage man,
Yet was no man, but onely like in shape,
And eke in statue higher by a span,
All overgrowne with haire, that could awhape
An hardy hart, and his wide mouth did gape
With huge great teeth, like to a tusked Bore:
For he liv'd all on ravin and on rape
Of men and beasts; and fed on fleshy gore,
The signe whereof yet stain'd his bloudy lips afore.

His neather lip was not like man nor beast,
But like a wide deepe poke, downe hanging low,
In which he wont the relickes of his feast,
And cruell spoyle, which he has spard, to stow:
And over it his huge great nose did grow,
Full dreadfully epurpled all with bloud;
And downe both sides two wide long eares did glow,
And raught downe to his waste, when up he stood,
More great thatn th'eares of Elepahnts by Indus flood."

She is 'snatched up' and 'Feebly she shriekt' but 'Britomart heard not the shrilling sound,' and Amoret is dragged off at a run and thrown into a cave.

She wakes in darkness and hears sobbing;

"Ay me (said she) where am I, or with whom?
Emong the living, or emong the dead?
What shall of me unhappy maid become?
Shall death be th'end, or ought else worse, aread.
Unhappy mayd (then aswered she) whose dread
Untride, is lesse, that wretched life doth lead,
Both grace and gaine; but he in hell doth lie,
That lives a loathed life, and wishing cannot die."

This voice first tells her about the situation in the cave. This creature has a 'cursed usage and ungodly trade';

"For on the spoile of women he doth live,
Whose bodies chast, when ever in his powre
He may them catch, unable to gainstrive,
He with his shamefull lust doth first deflowre,
And afterwasrds themselves doth cruelly devoure."

The voice is AEmylia and she has a boring Spencerian story about falling in love with a hot Squire and running away to be with him and then being captured by this Woodwose when the Squire didn't show. We will skip that part.

There is also an old woman there, the only other survivor;

"I ahve so done, as she to me hath showne.
For ever when he burnt in lustfull fire,
She in my stead supplide his beastiall desire."

"Thus of their evils as they did discourse,
And each did other much bewaile and mone;
Loe where the villaine selfe, their sorrowes sourse,
Came to the cave, and rolling thence the stone,
Which wont to stop the mouth thereof, that none
Might issue forth, came rudely rushing in,
And spredding over all the flore alone,
Gan dight him selfe unto his wonted sinne;
Which ended, then his bloudy banket should beginne."


"Full fast she flies, and farre afore him goes,
Ne feeles the thorns and thickets pricke her tender toes.

Nor hedge, nor ditch, nor hill, nor dale she staies,
But overleapes them all, like Roebuck light,"

Luckily for her, someone is hunting in these woods. It's Belphebe, with her friends and with the Squire. Do you remember these guys from when Arthurs Squire chased a bad guy into the forest, fought a bunch of dudes and got knocked out? Then Belphobe, who was concieved by the Sun on a Nymph, and then given to Diana to raise, and who bumped into and terrified Braggadochio, found him and then took him to  the valley of the Amazons to heal him? Those guys? Well its them.

Belphebe is hunting with Arthurs squire, they get seperated and the Squire finds the Woodwose/Giant holding Amoret;

"Under his arme, as seeming wondrous glad,
That by his grenning laughter mote farre off be rad."

The Squire knows just what to do in these circumstances and 'assiles with all the might he may'. The giant, brilliantly;

"He held the Lady forth before him right,
And with her body, as a buckler broke
The pussiance of his intended stroke."

A living lady being the perfect shield to defend against a knight. More giants should do this.

The Squire doesn't know where to strike but eventually drives his point home; 'A streme of coleblacke bloud thence gusht amaine, That all her silken garments did with bloud bestaine.'

The giant hurls Amoret 'rudely on the flore' and battles the Squire. Bephebe comes upon them and as soon as the giant sees her he runs 'Well knowing her to be his deaths sole instrument.' Either its fate or Belphebe is just that goddamn dangerous.

Belphebe chases him to his cave and then, in a scene so cool they drew it twice

Walter Crane
 shoots him down at the door.

William Kent (1685-1748), 'Belphoebe kills the Savage Man',

His soul goes directly to hell, 'surcharg'd with spoile and theft.'

(It would be cool in D&D if Clerics could actually see the sould of sinful enemies going directly to Hell as they struck the last blow.)

She checks out the cave and finds the AEmylia;

"And after her the Hag, there with her mewed,
A foule and lothsome creature did appeare;
A leman fit for such a love deare."

Which is rather unfair.

When Belphebe returns to the squire, she finds him with Amoret;

"From her faire eyes wiping the deawy wet,
Which softly stild, and kissing them atweene,
And handling soft the hurts, which she did get."

When Belphebe sees this she is filled 'With deepe disdaine, and great indignity,' and nearly kills them both;

"Is this the faith she said, and said no more,
But turnd her face, and fled away for evermore."

Which is remarkably terse and effective for any Spenserian heroine. The Squire chases after her trying to explain but she will turn only to shoot arrows at him.

"At last when long he foll'd had in vaine,
Yet found no ease of griefe, not hope of grace,
Unto those woods he turned backe againe,
Full of sad anguish, and in heavy case:"


"His wonted warlike weapons all he broke,
And threw away, with vow to use no more,
Ne thenceforth ever strike in battell stroke,
Ne ever word to speake to woman more;
But in that wildernesse, of men forlore,
And of the wicked world forgotten quight,
His hard mishap in dolor to deplore,
And wast his wretched daise in wofull plight;
So on him selfe to wreake his follies owne despight."

And thats all he does until the end of the Canto, stay in the forest being mad and mute and carving the trees with 'B E L P H E B E'.

Arthur eventually finds him after another unspecified length of time (surely some nerd has worked out the geography and chronology of the Faerie Queene?), and doesn't recognise him due to beard, muteness, madness and the fact that Knights generally can't recognise anyone in chivalric literature, especially members of the gentry that saved their life multiple times, and so;

"He left him there in languour to remaine,
Till time for him should rememdy provide,
And him restore to former grace againe.
Which for it is too long here to abide,
I will deferre the end untill another tide."

Monday, 4 December 2017

Dewed with silver drops, through sweating sore - FQ Book 4 Canto 6

Scudamore rides from the House of Care and comes upon the Savage Knight who is waiting for the Knight of the Heben Launce, that humaliated him (by winning);

"On whom I wait to wreak that foule despight,
When ever he this way shall passe by day or night.

When Scudamour heard mention of that speare,
He wist right well, that it was Britomart,"

And so they join together. Luckily they don't have to wait long;

"Whiles thus they communed, lo farre away
A Knight soft ryding towards them they spyde,"

It's Britomart, and Scudamour rides out to fight her;

"Who soone as she him saw approaching neare
With so fell rage, her selfe she lightly gan
To dight, to welcome him, well as she can:"

She knocks him down.

Alfred John Church
Artegall attacks. She knocks him down quickly by he draws 'his direfull deadly blade.';

"So as they coursed here and there, it chaunst
That in her wheeling round, behind her crest
So sorely he her strooke, that thence it glaunst
Adowne her backe, the which it fairely blest
From foule mischance; ne did it ever rest,
Till on her horses hinder parts it fell;
Where byting deepe, so deadly it imprest,
That quite it chynd his backe behind the sell,
And to alight on foote her algates did compell."

Yep, Artegall just cut a horse in half. Think of the mess.

The fight continues and culminates in a classic Spencerian manner with everyones mail being cut to rags till they look like a radical fashion show, and ends with someone committing everything to a super-mega blow. In this case, Arthegall;

"The wicked stroke upon her helmet chaunst,
And with the force, which in it selfe it bore,
Her ventayle shard away, and thence forth glaunst
A downe in vaine, ne harm'd her any more.
With that her angels face, unseene afore
Like to the ruddie morne appeared in sight,
Dewed with silver drops, through sweating sore,
But somewhat redder, then beseem'd aright,
Through toylesome heate and labout of her weary fight."

On seeing Britomarts beautiful, red, sweaty face, framed with hair which 'Like to a golden border did appeare,' Artegall falls instantly in love;

"His powrelesse arme benumbed with secret feare"

And also has a total meltdown;

"While trembling horrour did his sense assayle,
And made ech member quake, and manly hart to quayle."

Britomart tells him to stand and fight but he will only kneel and apologise.

Scudamour also has a lot going through his mind;

"He blest himselfe, as one sore terrfide,"

Britomart is still making like she's going to kill Arthegall;

"But ever when his visage she beheld,
Her hand fell downe, and would no longer hold
The wrathfull weapon gainst his countnance bold:
But when in vaine to fight she oft assayd,
She arm'd her tongue, and thought at him to scold;
Nathlesse her tongue not to her will obayd,
But brought forth speeches myld, when she would have missayd."

Scudamore as worked out what is going on and 'now woxen inly glad, That all his gealous feare he false had found,". He uses Arthegalls name (despite, as the notes point out, not actually having being told it), when Britomart hears this we get more of Spensers blushing fetish;

"Her hart did leape, and all her hart-strings tremble,
For sudden joy, and secret feare withall,
And all her vitall powres with motion nimble,
To succour it, themselves gan there assemble,
That by the swift recourse of flushing blood
Right plaine appeard, though she it would dissemple,"

Glauce is thrilled 'thus gan wisely all upknit', she finally gets to sum up, explain everything, calm everyone down and presumably not have to pretend to be a man any more.

Artegall and Britomart are in the middle of falling in love, but Scudamore wants news of Amoret. It's not good. Birtomart has goddamn lost her between Cantos. They were travelling through 'a desert wylde' and Brit lay down to sleep in 'shadow myld';

"But when as I dod out of sleepe abray,
I found her not, where I her left whyleare,
But thought she wandred was, or gone astray."

When Scudamore hears this;

"His hart was thrild with point of deadly feare;
Ne in his face or bloud or life appeared,
But senselesse stood, like to a mazed steare,
That yet of mortall stroke the stound doth beare."

Glauce tries to cheer him up, but Britomart, being lawful good, knows only one response;

""Great cause of sorrow certes Sir ye have:
But comfort take: for by this heavens light
I vow, you dead or living not to leave,
Till I her find, and wreake on him that her did reave."

Artegall takes them all to a resting place where they can heal up and presumably have someone repair all that riven mayle, and where he and Britomart can go about the important buisness of falling in love;

"So well he woo'd her. and so well he wrought her,
With faire entreatie and sweet blandishment,
That at the length unto a bay he brought her,
So as she to his speeches was content
To lend an eare, and softly to relent.
At last through many vowes which forth he pour'd,
And many othes, she yeelded her consent
To be his love, and take him for her Lord,
Till they with mariage meet might finish that accord."

Hooray! Britomart = QUEST ACHIEVED. (mainly)

But Arthegall has his own quest and has to go off on it, plus Britomart just made another oath. They agree to meeyt again no longer space ' But till the horned moone three courses did expire'. Arthegall travels off and Britomart say she will accompany him for a little while;

"And by the way she sundry purpose found
Of this or that, the time for to delay,
And of the perils whereto he was bound,
The feare whereof seem'd much her to affray:
But all she did was but to weare out day.
Full oftentimes she leave of him did take;
And eft againe deviz'd some what to say,
Which she forgot, whereby excuse to make:
So loth she was his companie for to forsake."

Awwww. These are the parts that make me not want to punch Spenser, or at least, to not want to punch him quite as much.

Ultimately she returns with Scudamour to search for Amoret;

"Her second care, though in another kind;
For vertues only sake, which doth beget
True love and faithfull friendship, she by her did set."

We finish with another outro apology verse, which seems to be the new standard for Book Four;

"Were long to tell; therefore I here will stay
Untill another tyde, that I it finish may."