Worldbuilding Wednesday 5/11/22: Random Playlist Songs

 

Elf ear earbuds are now a Thing.

Sometimes, when you’re writing, you need an imaginary playlist, or a song from someone’s playlist. Here’s a few that were originally randomgenned as spells, but didn’t make the sense they should have. I intended these to be in the Song – Artist format (Hey Jude – The Beatles) but you could reverse the order, I guess.

 

Random Songs from Someone’s Playlist

Speak with Men – Manateez

Control Dirt – Pterosaurs

Super Intelligence – Tame Monkeys

Transform a Faun – The Grab Dragons

The Exorcism Dancers – Wrack Room

Grease Fire – Blacksmith

Pulverize – Bison

Whisperfly – Defense Shield

Size – Animate

Act Like a Dancer – Keep Paintbox

Invisible Whip – Telepathy

Eternal Youth – Cauterize Skeletons

Summon and Weaken – Create Blindness (f. Rebel Phoenix)

Melt – The Pro-Mushroom Men

Ultraseven Vintage

Some vintage Ultraseven record and publication covers from Japan done in that inimitable colorful 1960s style, heavy on the primary red, blue, and yellow.

Look closely at the first image, where Ultraseven has a mouth with a lower lip, and it is open! He also has human eyes behind his hexagonal ones. I wonder if the illustrator wasn’t paying attention, or it had been painted early in the production process where the details weren’t ironed out yet.

Worldbuilding Wednesday 5/4/22: Canadian Provinces

The imaginary Canadian province of Kaskatama, by KMT

Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Yukon, and Nunavat are some of the most colorful names in North America, with origins in the languages of the Native peoples of Canada. They, along with the names of certain cities (Saskatoon, Athabasca) are easy for those in the U.S. to make fun of and for years served as comedy shorthand to indicate a place of birth for a backwoods, slack-jawed yokel (not true). But you shouldn’t. They are fascinating names in their own right, resulting from a cultural mix very different from the U.S.  The creator of the map above, for example, created a whole imaginary province around the mix of French, English, and Native names, setting it amongst the never-never land of lakes and mountains in what I take to be the current Northwest Territories.

Examine the map in full view and you’ll see such town names as “Blackadder” and “Blithering Owl.”

All Native names mean something, of course. Nunavat, for example, is “Our land” in the Inuktitut language, and its coat of arms is one of the best ever, featuring a reindeer and a narwhal, a stone bowl of fire, and a Native stone monument, the whole crowned by an igloo with a crown. Even the script below also belongs to the native people.

And speaking of arms and flags, Canada has gone through a few before deciding on its current red maple leaf, at the bottom right of the picture below.

This proposed flag of Canada is also attractive.

If you’re looking for a new Canadian province, or even just a city or town name, see below.

 

Canadian Provinces

Sasnookit

Yukawak

Monaswan

Nunkaniss

Kanmou

Mintoosko

Athiabask

Wippanakawa

Shuwasko

Kiksko

Chitkwai

Nitwakum

Molatcheen

Sipaya

Ultraseven Sneakers

Ultraseven’s sweet marketing deal with Converse!

Ultraseven [Review]

Ultraseven

Tsurubaya television series
1967 – 1968
Originally shown on Tokyo Broadcast System (TBS) and later syndicated

I was eight years old when I was introduced to the original Ultraman, which ran midafternoon, after school hours, on a now-defunct UHF station from Philadelphia. Ultraman was a creation of Eiji Tsuburaya, the special effects guru who did the monster suits and disaster sequences for the original Godzilla movie. Tsuburaya founded his own production company in 1963 and became a tokusatsu (Japanese live-action movies or TV shows, usually SFF, that featuring liberal use of special effects) pioneer. Ultraman debuted in Japan in 1966 and was an immediate hit. It was syndicated widely, which was how it crossed the Pacific, with English dubbing, in the early 1970s to wind up on American TV.

But little did I know while watching it that other Ultraman series had already come and gone, each having its own Ultra as the hero, with different monsters, plotlines, attack teams, and visual style. If I had, I would have watched the hell out of them, too. My love for Ultraman ran deep.

Over the years I gradually discovered the existence of these other shows but they remained inaccessible to Americans. Only in Hawaii were they ever broadcast, and that was because of its high Japanese population.

When VCRs came along it became possible to buy bootlegged tapes, or, if you lived in a large city with a Chinatown, rent the video releases from Japan. I actually did that when I moved to Seattle, but since they weren’t dubbed or subtitled, I had no idea what was going on. And while that same Chinatown’s Uwajimaya store had a Japanese bookstore I couldn’t read the Ultra guides or manga, either, and had to pester my Japanese friends for translations.

So imagine my delight when ShoutFactoryTV  bought the rights to stream almost seventy years of Ultra shows and movies, in subtitled versions, and there was me, with a Firestick and Amazon Prime. Ultra-ecstasy had begun!

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 4/27/22: The Best of Twittersnips
xxxx(Cocktails)

Pointy breasts = Fun Time

Cocktail parties still haven’t come back yet. But here’s some that have yet to be concocted, culled from my Twitter feed.

 

Cocktails

Smashing Sheila (this originated in Sydney, Australia)

Guinness Lemonade

Golden Mickey

Goose Sucker

Glass Slipper

Ballbuster

Orange Slum

Muddy John

Juicy Jackson

Vengeance from Hong Kong

Rocky Surf

Sleepy Cobra

Pumpkin Nipple (Seasonal)

Nontraditional Chimerae

As I said in my post about traditional artistic depictions of chimerae there was little doubt to the creature’s appearance, which remained iconic over hundreds of years. The written descriptions, however, differed in the particulars. Artists of the Medieval age and beyond, depending on which writer they had access to, created different beasts from the same elements of goat, lion, and snake, with the element of fire coming from one or all three heads.

Chimera, by Velinov

Goat and lion heads sit side by side, both horned and outrageously fanged, and the snake has horns too and thorny protrusions on its scales.  The legs are a mix of goat and reptile and it has fiery-colored fur. And it’s kaiju-sized! How can those tiny adventurers possibly kill it?

Chimera, by Arcovet

Just the head is shown here, but it’s more of a mix — lion mane, thorny goat horns, scaled serpent head with alligator teeth. It glows from the fires within.

Inktober October 8th, by Robbvision

The AD&D chimera: the three heads side by side, including a draon’s, all bellicose and snarling, bleating, or roaring. Lion body, dragon wings. But look out, it has TWO snake tails!

Wooded Chimera, by Javier Gonzalez

I’m including this one just because I like it. A North American chimera with grizzly, demonic elk, and condor heads. Wait, the condor doesn’t fit. Perhaps a gila monster or alligator would have been better?

Worldbuilding Wednesday 4/20/22: Recreational Drugs
xxxx(Fantasy)

Rakshasa by Svetoslav Petrod

Wherever there’s a fantasy world, there’s probably some sort of fantasy drug. Robert E. Howard’s Conan had Black Lotus, and inhabitants of Phillip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld had Dream Gum to chew. Tolkien gave the Hobbits and Gandalf pipe-weed, or tabac, to smoke, which was likely tobacco and NOT marijuana. If you’re wondering why I included pipe-weed in here, it’s because nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known, and unfortunately Tolkien lived in a time when its adverse effects were not publicized. Other fictional recreational substances include “milk of the poppy,” mirthweed, and denner resin. For gaming, there’s 100 different made-up drugs and effects for your perusal here.

If you just want some names, look no further!

 

Recreational drugs for a fantasy world

Satyr Drool

Starjunk

Queen’s Sleep

Purple Powder

Aurora Ice

Dirtystalk

Ecsta-buds

Crystal Chip

Jolly Whore

Dragon’s Candy

Blow Roll

Starkiss

Glowhead

Giggle-nuts

Merry-berries

Hushseeds

Frisky Weed

Hallucimilk

Pooka Girl

Sniff-spark

Loony Leaf

Dreamroot

Godweed

Skymilk

Starpods

Dirty Cookies

Demongrass

Heavenly Pink

Headhook

Skyplunge

Traditional Chimerae

 

Coin (stater) depicting a chimera above a fish, 340 – 350 BCE

It was a single being that had the force of three beasts, the front part of a lion, the tail of a drakon, and the third–middle–head was that of a goat, through which it breathed out fire.

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 31 – 32
(Greek mythographer c. 2nd A.D.)

 

Chimerae depicted in ancient art adhere to pretty much the same pattern: lion head and body, a snake instead of a tail, which has its own fanged head, and a goat’s head sticking out of the middle of its back. Sometimes the goat head faces front, others, rear. The lion always has a mane even though the creature is said to be female. Often, in concession to that femaleness, it sports a row of udders, said to be from the she-goat.

But though generally consistent in ancient art, in ancient writings, the description varied. Often the snake part was interchangeable with a dragon, as in the quote above.  Sometimes just three heads were referred to with no mention of where they went, or three body sections with no mention of a head other than the primary one. I find this intriguing. Either the visual of the creature was so well-known that the writers didn’t have to go into description on it, or the depiction had a life entirely of its own.

I believe the situation is the latter. The creature was long associated with Lycia, now part of modern Turkey, in particular a mountainous range on its south coast. The region there known to ancients as Mount Chimaera was most likely Yanar or Yanartas, which seeps methane gas ignited into flame. Furthermore, ancient scholars stated the mountain was said to be inhabited by lions at its top, goats in its middle, and snakes on its bottom, just like the fire-breathing creature.  Somehow, through mistranslation, or picto-symbols gone wrong, the place itself became the monster.

And who knows? Likely in antiquity it was a dangerous place. Back then, lions were nothing to sneeze at, though they were soon to go extinct in Asia Minor. The goats may have provided them with food, but were also likely to have been hunted by humans as well, or herded by them. As for snakes, the Ottoman Viper is one of the most common, and most venomous, and nothing to be sneezed at either.

Even knowing its origins, it’s still pretty hard to make a creature with a description like this look badass, as I lamented in this past Worldbuilding Wednesday post. It’s easier to just ignore that pesky mid-back goat head, and according to the diverse descriptions the ancient writers gave, it wouldn’t exactly be wrong, either.

Yet, some fantasy artists have attempted to illustrate the mythic animal from the ancient vases, coins, and tableware.

Chimera by Deskridge

The goat’s head bleats a challenge as the lion head glares. The ancient Greek name for the creature was Khimaira, which means She-goat. The Greeks of antiquity divided the gender of their monstrous creatures equally. As to why the Greeks called it She-goat when it is mainly a lion, I haven’t found that out yet.

Chimera by Dandandantheman

A warrior woman fortified with a shield and cow-skull helmet faces a sinewy, cruel-looking beast. Yet she’s doomed to fail, as she’s holding her longknife completely wrong.

Chimera from The Elder Scrolls Bestiary, by Commander Nova

Here’s a badass chimera, munching on a grizzly bear for dinner! Note also the flames.

Perils of a Delivery Mare by Harwicks Art

The lion part of this chimera is a sabretooth tiger rather than a lion, yet it is just as real of a menace to the perky My Little Pony Applejack.

Chimera by 13onnie

All three beasts co-existing peacefully as they plot their next move.

Worldbuilding Wednesday 4/13/22: Undead Magic

Blow it all out

Undead are some of the most terrifying creatures in the AD&D universe. Yet, there doesn’t seem to be much magic that deals with them. So here’s a few randomgenned spells created on the fly.

 

Undead Magic

Hair of the Skeleton: Strands of hair still existing on the skull of an otherwise defleshed skeleton can be used in many spells influencing the undead, as well as Hair Growth.

Apparition Funnel: When encountering multiple ghosts, spectres, apparaitions, or phantoms — undead with a noncorporeal body — this clerical spell makes them move as a group into a specific area where they can be dealt with as a unit.

Walking Corpse: This spell can be used by either magic users or clerics. It makes a corpse stand up and walk. There is nothing magical or supernatural about the corpse, and it won’t attack or defend itself.  Also known as False Zombie, it is capable of fooling less experienced characters.

Ears of the Vampire: This spell lets the caster hear the flow of blood in a being’s body from several yards away.

Torus Phantom: Transforms a regular phantom into a ring shape that can travel more quickly through the air.

Poltergeist Odyssey: This high level cleric spell sends the poltergeists occupying a dwelling on a quest of the caster’s own making.

Drums of the Walking Dead: Looks like an ordinary pair of tomtom drums, but the drumheads are made of cured human skin. By playing them a mage or cleric can create, and control, up to two dozen zombies depending on their level. The drums are playable only by Evil-aligned beings.

Tunnel of Unavoidable Chanting: With this spell a cleric can create an invisible tunnel filled with the sound of holy chanting along a path, hall, or other passageway. Undead passing through will receive the effects of the chant, good or bad.

The Purple Necromancer’s Coffin Tap: A creation of this illustrious yet obscure mage, coffin tap does just that, creating an intermittent, random tapping noise coming from the inside of a coffin, casket, sarcophagus, or any other receptacle containing a corpse.

Vampire Vacillation: Confuses any kind of supernatural vampiric being for several rounds.

Nature of the Wight: Enables the caster to know a wight’s history and powers.

Phantasmal Lens: When squinted through, this lets the user see invisible undead. However, they must make a saving throw vs. fear or drop it in fright, shattering it permanently.

Mummy Breath: A high-level clerical spell that is much feared. Anyone the caster breaths on will turn into a dead, dry husk of themselves and fall to the ground lifeless.