At the Mountains of Madness

A movie trailer for a film that doesn’t exist (but I wish it did) mocked up by someone with access to a lot of footage from expeditions to Antarctica and a great visual sense.
Why can’t we get films like this one?


Update: Exquisite Corpses

I’ve managed a little more work on Exquisite Corpses, but other things (the start of school, financial and family responsibilities, etc.,) have to come first, so it is still a work in process.
I think I will make it vaguely ‘systems neutral’ with a veiled reference to Original D&D or 1st edition (circa 1979 or so) D&D simply because that is what I grew up with and that is what I prefer.
There are currently all sorts of ‘simulacrum’ games in circulation, but I don’t want to deal with getting all the lingo right or ‘ducks in a row’ as far as byzantine licensing agreements go, so I will just use references to ‘armor’ or ‘defense’ instead of armor class, etc., similar to many of the Judges Guild “Univeral System” items from back in the day.


A really cool Exquisite Corpse

Here is a really great exquisite corpse I found via google. I don’t know who the artist is, but that is a DAMN FINE MUTANT CREATION!


Update: Exquisite Corpses

I’ve managed a little more work on Exquisite Corpses, but other things (the start of school, financial and family responsibilities, etc.,) have to come first, so it is still a work in process.
I think I will make it vaguely ‘systems neutral’ with a veiled reference to Original D&D or 1st edition (circa 1979 or so) D&D simply because that is what I grew up with and that is what I prefer.
There are currently all sorts of ‘simulacrum’ games in circulation, but I don’t want to deal with getting all the lingo right or ‘ducks in a row’ as far as byzantine licensing agreements go, so I will just use references to ‘armor’ or ‘defense’ instead of armor class, etc., similar to many of the Judges Guild “Univeral System” items from back in the day.


Richard Sharpe Shaver


Richard Sharpe Shaver (b 1907, d 1975) was a writer, painter, welder, ‘paleo-archaeologist,’ alarmist, prophet, conspiracy theorist, mental patient, visionary, dreamer and tortured soul.

Apparently, some time around 1944 or 1945, Raymond Arnold Palmer, an editor at Ziff Davis Publications magazine “Amazing Stories” (a man who went on to do much to create the popular UFO culture in the US) fished a letter out of the trash written by someone named Richard Shaver. Shaver claimed that all of human language was based on a series of sounds, each of which could be represented by a letter, and that by using this alphabet (which he called ‘Mantong’), one could decode the secret meanings of words as handed down to current civilizations by the Atlanteans.

An introduction to Mantong
by Richard Sharpe Shaver

This was the letter originally sent by R.S. Shaver to “Amazing Stories.” It was published by Ray Palmer in the ‘Discussions’ section of Amazing Stories in January of 1944. Apparently, the letter was read by Howard Browne, Palmer’s Managing editor at thee time, who tossed it into the trash saying, “The world is full of crackpots.” Palmer fished it out, saw a possibility and decided to run the letter and the alphabet in the magazine. The response from readers was enthusiastic. People wrote in to say that they had applied the ‘Mantong’ alphabet to all sorts of words in many different languages and claimed to have gleaned hidden meanings from the translation.

“Sirs, Am sending this in hope you will insert it in an issue to keep from dying with me. It would arouse a lot of discussion. Am sending you the language so that some time you can have it looked at by some one in the college or a friend who is a student of antique times. The language seems to me to be definite proof of the Atlantean legend. A great number of our English words have come down intact as romantic –ro man tic-“science of man patterning by control,” Trocadero – t ro see a dero- “good one see a bad one”- applied now together. It is an immensely important find, suggesting the god legends have a base in some wiser race than modern man; but to understand it takes a good head as it contains multi-thoughts like many puns on the same subject. It is too deep for ordinary man – who thinks it is a mistake. A little study reveals ancient words in English occurring many times. It should be saved and placed in wise hands. I can’t, will you? It really has an immense significance, and will perhaps put me right in your thoughts again if you will really understand this.
I need a little encouragement.”

The Mantong Alphabet –
A – is for Animal
B – is to Be
C – means See
D – is the harmful energy generated by the Sun
E – is Energy
F – means Fecund
G – means to Generate
H – means Human
I – means I
J – is the same as G – generate
K – means Kinetic, as in motion or energy
L – is Life
M – means Man
N – means child, as in ‘ninny’
O – means Orifice, a source
P – is Power
Q – means Quest
R – horror; signifies a large amount of D present
S – means the Sun, which emits D
T – is the beneficial force, the opposite of D
U – means You
V – Vital; in Shaver’s words, ‘the stuff Mesmer calls animal magnetism.’
W – Will
X – Conflict, sometimes meaning D and T in opposition
Y – means Why
Z – means Zero, or when T and D cancel one another out.

“We present this interesting letter concerning an ancient language with no comment, except to say that we applied the letter-meaning to the individual letter of many old root words and proper names and got an amazing “sense” out of them. Perhaps if readers interested were to apply his formula to more of these root words, we will be able to discover if the formula applies … is this formula the basis of one of the most ancient languages on Earth? The mystery intrigues us very much. – ED.”

Shaver later claimed to have discovered that these ancient civilizations had hidden images, films and records inside of rocks, and stuff really started to get weird. Like many conspiracy theorists, Shaver claimed to know a great secret that threatened all of mankind. According to Shaver, there was a subterranean race of evil humnoids, whom he termed the ‘dero,’ who enjoyed capturing surface dwellers and enslaving, torturing and sexually abusing them. The editors at Amazing Fantasy said they had to “tone down” a lot of the sex and violence (and sexual violence or violent sex) in Shaver’s stories before publication. Shaver stated he had lived underground with the ‘Tero’ (good Dero) for a number of years and that all of his “Shaver Mystery” stories were true. Others said he was in a mental asylum during that time.

Eventually, the “Shaver Mystery” was dropped from Amazing Stories and Ray Palmer went on to other things. The sci-fi fans who cried ‘hoax’ and used to heckle Palmer and Shaver publically (including a young Harlan Ellison) declared victory. Bizzarely, one of the major complaints of the anti-Shaver Mystery crowd was that “if the Shaver Mystery was suppossed to be the truth, it did not belong in a magazine devoted to fiction.” Shaver felt that the decision by the publisher to no longer carry his stories was a part of the plot to silence him and conceal the Dero plot against mankind. He and his wife retired to a small town in Arkansas where he ran a shop selling geological specimens as well as publishing his newsletters, making his remarkable paintings and continuing his research until his death.

Most people consider him a crank and a crazy. They call his conspiracy theories a ‘hoax.’ As far as I can tell, however, Shaver was dead serious about his beliefs. Was he really lying if he believed what he was saying?

Some of Shaver’s books can be read for free on the net:
I Remember Lemuria
Return of Sathanas


Exquisite Corpses


“Exquisite Corpse: Game of folded paper played by several people, who compose a sentence or drawing without anyone seeing the preceding collaboration or collaborations. The now classic example, which gave the game its name, was drawn from the first sentence obtained this way: The-exquisite-corpse-will-drink-new-wine.”
–André Breton

My new project involves a book of ‘creatures’ which can be used, mixed and matched, to create new creatures. As I say in the introduction:

Introduction: In the 1920s, surrealist artists would gather and amuse one another with acts of pure fantasy. One of their amusements was to take a piece of paper, fold into several sections, and then each surrealist would draw a section of a figure or creature on that paper, folding it over so the next participant could not see what had already been drawn. The first artist might draw the head, the next artist would add the torso, the third the hips and legs, etc., and when finished they would unfold the paper and admire the drawing that had been created. Thus they might end up with fantastic creatures that might have a head shaped like a house, the body of a nude woman and the feet made of curling tree roots.
We often played this game when I was a youngster. I remember spending more than a few days in a cabin up in Wisconsin, with my sister, cousins and aunt, when it was too rainy to play outside, drawing, folding and passing the paper and enjoying the fantastic and improbable creatures we created. I loved monsters and improbable creatures and it seemed a great way of combining those interests into a game that left you with some pretty amusing drawings as souvenirs. We still play the ‘Exquisite Corpse” game today. All that is needed are some pencils, paper and some willing participants (although a bottle of wine or a few beers can add to the fun).
In 1978, I had just acquired AD&D “Monster Manual” by Gary Gygax. It ripped the roof off my imagination like no other book had before it. Here was an encyclopedia filled with some of the most improbable creatures that myth, fantasy or Gygax could create. Some had the torsos of beautiful women, the faces of hags and the wings and feet of vultures. Others had the heads of bulls and the bodies of men, or beaks instead of mouths, tentacles, etc. Still more improbable creatures combined the worst (or best) aspects of birds, lions, owls, bears, fish, etc. And the improbable and fiendishly fascinating combinations were increased tenfold when you turned to the sections on Demons and Devils. In the page of Gygax’s seminal bestiary of the fantastic, the improbable creations of myth and unhinged imagination sprang to life… and Gygax included many fascinating details (like how fast the creature moved, where it lived, how tough it might be and what (or whom) it might eat…).
This little book, then, is really just a love poem to some of my favorite things (the Exquisite Corpse, Gary Gygax’s “Monster Manual,” monsters of all kinds and realms of the imagination). Use it for your own amusement, and, if you like role playing or fantasy games, use it to create your own “Dr. Frankenstein on acid” creatures who will hop, slither, slide, plop, run or flutter into the world that you and your players create.

At current I have about 10 drawings done and plan to finish 16 more. The book will probably measure 5-7 and be about 40-50 pages (26 of which will be one-sided) and will include guidelines for how to use the book in a fanatsy game, adding special abilities, etc.

At present the plan is to offer it through Lulu or similar means.


House rules and rule clarifications/alterations:

House rules and rule clarifications/alterations:

Critical Hits and Fumbles: On a roll of natural 20, a critical hits chart is consulted. Higher level characters and monsters will tend to inflict more damaging crits than lower level creatures, but the dice are sometimes fickle. A crit may mean that you score double, triple or quadruple damage, etc., or it can have a “no effect” result.
On a natural roll on 1, a fumble chart is consulted and cross referenced with the attacker’s dexterity and level. More dexterous and experienced opponents will tend to suffer the effects of a fumble less often; when a 1 is rolled on the attack action a fumble roll is made and we see if you fall down, drop your sword, etc., or it can have a “no effect” result.

Crossbows: Light and heavy crossbows do double the amount listed in the 1e PHB.

Death and Dying: Once a creature is reduced to anywhere from 0 to -9 hitpoints, he is unconscious. Characters which fall to 0 hit points or less have a percentage chance equal to their CON score (12 Con = 12%) of ‘stabilizing’ each round; else they lose another hit point each round. Any character who falls to -10 hit points is dead. Comrades can ‘stabilize’ a downed comrade with healing magic or attempt to bind wounds (WIS check).
A character who drops to 0 hitpoints or below whom is subsequently healed to at least 1 hit point can roll a successful system-shock in order to be able to walk and fight normally; otherwise they are so weak that they can only move at half speed and will pass out if they attempt to cast a spell.
A character who drops below 0 hitpoints has a 10% chance per point beyond 0 of suffering a ‘crippling’ injury of some sort (determined randomly by the DM).

Magic User Bonus Spells: Magic Users (and illusionists) get a small number of bonus spells based on intelligence. Use the chart for cleric wisdom bonus spells in the PHB, but substitute ‘INT’ for WIS.

Raise Dead and Resurrection: Each time you are raised from the dead you lose 1 point of Con, permanently. When Con is 0, a character cannot be raised again. You also must make a resurrection survival roll in order to awaken; otherwise your spirit has passed on and it is time to roll up a new character.

Starting Level: All characters start at level 1! None of this sissy boy, nancy-pants getting levels you don’t earn the good ‘ol fashioned way. Thus, as you begin to rise in levels (should you be so lucky), it is perhaps a good idea to begin to recruit and train henchmen and hangers-on. They will cost you a share of your XP and treasure, but should the worst happen and your primary character be utterly destroyed, you can always activate a promising henchman as a replacement.

Surprise: At the start of each encounter roll a d6 for each side to determine surprise. A roll of 1-2 indicates surprise while 3-6 indicates not surprised. If one party rolls a 1 and the other a 2, then the low roll is surprised.

XP: PCs are allowed to designate an NPC henchman to receive a portion of his XP if the NPC does not accompany the PC on the journey. The PC is assumed to describe the adventure in great detail. The PC may give no more than ½ his award to the henchman; the XP isn’t awarded until the PC and the henchman can communicate.