Friday, December 17, 2021

BARD

This post is an homage to the classes of Lovely Dark, like the Fighter and the Paladin, made out of admiration, enjoyment and prosaic jealousy. Please go read those, and if you already have, do it again. 

-

The first symptom of the illness is exhaustion. 

So they say, but you know better. The chirurgeons in their laboratories do not walk among the people like you do. They do not sit at the table of the world like you. They see it through still-lives: corpses. That is their table. Medicine is the worship of paintings. The elegiac science, to which the living body is blank and unwhole, lacking the completing touch that only death may grant it.

Doctors are your enemies.

Illness has no heart that schemes in the body, first letting loose its smallest and only then its most vicious knaves. Illness is singular and emergent. It grows like a moon-pale flower, first a bud, then a stem, then bileous petals. Like with the parts of this flower, the appearance of different symptoms is only an illusion, distracting from the truth that they are all the same plant, and they occur not as a collection, but as transformations of the original smallest form.

Exhaustion is not a symptom. It is the bud. The seed of destruction, dispersed around the world on the wind.

You will see that it never sprouts. Because you are a healer, not an embalmer. You are an agent of the bon-vivance. The ceaseless rancour beats in you. You never sleep. You cannot sleep.

Art by Nguyen Bao Tin

Starting Equipment: A bottle of strong liquor. A book of wild and invigorating tales, poems, songs, which you wrote. A pair of scissors. An unforgettable face. 

Skills: 1) Opera Singer 2) Escape Artist 3) Gambler 4) Smuggler 5) Revolutionary 6) Ballerina

Templates:

A: Flowerpicker, Cabaret and Cabinet
B: Main Brûlant
C: Amour-Fractur
D: Prince of Cowards

Flowerpicker

Art by Coohdraws

Your master - or more accurately your patron - is the rumbling noise in the human heart. The Clamour, which includes amour not at all by accident. You can feel these tremors in your body, and in those of others. When you listen to their footsteps, you can hear it. When they slug you in the face, you shameless bacchant, you can feel it. In the shaking earth, the seeds of death cannot take hold. The white flowers cannot drink blood and grow tall. You can see those too. The illnesses. You can take your scissors and cut them away. But only as long as you move, dance, tremble.

You don't gain benefits from resting. Instead, you gain benefits from bustling, running amok and capering. To regain yourself, you must spend time in crowded clamour, in the same measure another would have to spend resting. While doing this you can remove colds, coughs, rashes, tiredness and aches from twice as many people as you have templates, or you can cure one serious disease, like leprosy or lockjaw.

Attempts at forcing you to sleep, occult or otherwise, always fail.


Cabaret and Cabinet

Art by Thomas Eakins, 1889

People do not forget you easily, especially your enemies. The white-and-black servants of the elegiac science loom in the shadows with hooks and scalpels drawn when you wander through the streets alone at night. At all times they seek to grab you in their cold, wet hands and snuff you out. They want your bandaged body to sit behind glass in their walnut-wood and marble halls, your organs displayed in a tutor's deathly sculpture. They want your dust in vials, and their canvas daubed in your mummy brown. They want to cut the masterpiece from your flesh.

It's dangerous for you to be alone. When you're unaccompanied for more than a few minutes, one of the following creatures will come from the shadows with the intent to kill you and abduct your body:
  1. Doctor in white clothing, with a scalpel and bone saw.
  2. Living mummy.
  3. Invisible man who leaves black foot- and handprints.
  4. Large vulture.
  5. Three zombies.
  6. Large black greyhound
  7. Person you affronted during your last clamouring
  8. Venomous cobra snake.
Chirurgeons, pharmacists, barbers, painters, morticians and gravediggers do not count as company for this effect.


Main Brûlant

Art by Laura Knight, 1922

Passion is heat. The rancour of the heart is what fuels the human body against the silence of cold, making its muscle shake and praying by friction. You can elevate your tremor: bring the heat of your heart to a burning point and make your body shiver so hard that it blurs in the eye and becomes as hot as a stove. This is the revolutionary's dance. The devil's tango that he taught to the atoms, ending the wholly solid world. The pirouette that lights ballerinas like match sticks. The Main Brûlant.

By preparing through dance, riot or music for an hour, for the next hour physical attacks made against you have a 1-in-4 chance to pass through you without a trace. Additionally, you can touch any target to set it on fire. Paintings, books, and flowers all burn much faster than they normally would. 

While in Main Brûlant, you can cure serious illnesses like leprosy or lockjaw through touch, but it is painful and you leave burn marks.

If you stop moving, fall over, or get hit by a dousing gout of water, this effect ends.


Amour-Fractur

Art by Beneš Knüpfer, 1890

You're always on the run. Despite this, words find their way to you and from you. In the cities any letter or message will find you, even as you carouse through the jubilant festive night with neither home nor name nor address. It might find you at an inopportune time, but it will find you nonetheless. Even when the letter is burnt, torn, or locked away behind steel, its contents will not rest until they've reached your ear.

You can hand a letter, or speak a message, to anyone who is not your outright enemy. It will end up with the person you mean to receive it, as rapidly as normal correspondence would, but yours cannot be intercepted.

In your clothing you keep hundreds of letters, from former lovers, adorers and comrades whom you've left behind in your perpetual flight from the worshippers of Death. A teary mantle of parting gifts. The Amour-Fractur. They're full of details pertaining secret passages, hidden alcoves, sunset rooftops and other When-I-See-You-Agains. Whenever you clamour, you can find one of these phantoms of fleeting love, and discover a corridor between two places known to you that only you, and an old passion, are aware of.


Prince of Cowards


There is joy in you. So much is clear. But more fundamentally there is dread in you. A sneaking fear that both fuels your fight against the elegiacs, and weighs down on your shoulders. It lights a fire under your arse and bounces you through the night as you run from it, from festival to pub to carnival. That's all you ever do. Ever did do. Run. Isn't there a saying...

"It takes all the running you can do to stay in the same place."

Humans do not live forever. Neither do you.

There is a higher sphere in the human body - you know this. Something like the soul but more wild, muscular and hairy. It's inhabited by the spawn of the Red Queen's savage daughters, shaking the bars when they are awake. Faceless apes that eat flesh and beat the drums. This place gives you the power to run away so effortlessly from the black marble doors that are worshipped with corpse paint. 

It can never run empty. It is forever: the inexhaustible perpetuum mobile. The sin against thermodynamics. But you... to keep turning the earth of your body, and to let no flowers root, you always need more boiling ape blood to come through.

When the time comes you'll have to choose: become a thing unceasing, and let the apes take you to that thundering thoughtless dark within, or die. Either way, you'll surrender.

Wounds do not slow you down, and do not reduce your strength or your charm. When the white flowers of pain and sickness sprout from your body, the boiling ape blood in your veins poisons them in turn. They turn red and black and pink and they become tangible like anxious flesh, turning to vicious coiling snakes. For every tenth of your total HP that you've lost, a blood-flower serpent grows from your body that can attack your enemies (as a standard snake creature).

As long as you are not wholly, utterly dead, you are alive.

When you do die, your body ignites like a wick. The final escape.

Les Misérables.


6 comments:

  1. ONE WHO WATCHES DOES NOT SLEEP // ONE WHO SLEEPS WATCHES NOT
    But seriously, this is such a fun class! <3 Aesthetically and mechanically it's very tight and well-composed. I like the scissors and the cutting and burning away of sickness and rot in the world, and I like the passage of messages and creation of doors as a kind of movement. I do have one suggestion- rabble-rouser is a bit redundant with revolutionary, and ballerina fits very well imo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have more thoughts as well re: praise and critique, which I'll share on discord!

      Delete
  2. Oh I love the vibes on this. Fabulous stuff as always

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is of equivalent quality to Arnold's druids, holy cow.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Ape Place is very resonant. Stealing some of that mindspace for my next mythos

    ReplyDelete