Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Abominations of the Black Sun #1: The Throng of Bestials

A Bestial of the Palace of the Black Sun, City of the Golden Gates.
You should see them run in packs through the streets, trails of spittle and urine behind them, manes matted with blood and incense.

Monday, 30 March 2015


Rhadamanthes, a Muvian.
No one exists in a vacuum, fictional or not; even the most convinced loner has people he or she communes with in some way (consider the hermit in Maine, who, although he lived utterly alone for 27 years, still depended on locals whom he could burgle to survive).

Chariot is a game themed on the lives of others. Player characters in Chariot have in common the revelation that the catastrophe is coming, and that they're going to die in it, and not before. If you know that whatever the consequences of your actions, you will live to see the final end, wouldn't that change the way you faced the world?

But whatever you do, it can't happen outside of the context of people. Who will escape? Who will you save? Who will you drag screaming into the ocean depths with you?

Sunday, 29 March 2015

How to say...

All these weird names. And none of them (ok, one of them) made up by me. Some of these I haven't mentioned yet.

Tlavatli: tla-VAT-lee (or cla-VAT-lee if that's easier. Or if you know Welsh, try saying that first consonant combo as "ll")

Lemurian: lem-YOU-ree-an

Rmoahal: MRO-a-HAL

Leagh: LAY-ach (hard "ch" like "loch")

Lha: LAH

Manu: MAN-oo

Muvian: MOO-vee-an

Daitya: DIE-ch-yah

Ruta: ROO-tah

Helio Arcanaphus: HEEL-ee-oh ar-KAN-a-fuss

Tlavatlis, the Second People

Svaathë, a Tlavatli.

Among the children of the Rmoahals,  some travelled north, and there they settled, and there they learned selfishness. There they learned ambition.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

How little I've added

This book I nearly broke my neck as a kid trying to get hold of.

In writing the setting material for Chariot, I keep finding myself amazed by how little I have to add.

Mechanics, laid out

So my last mechanical runthrough was, I confess, a bit rambly. Here's a cleaner version. We're assuming you know standard gamespeak terms like GM, NPC, scene, and so on. There's a summary at the end.

Friday, 27 March 2015


The Lemurian from my dad's book. The one that started all of this.
Lemuria is old, older than thought, older than memory, and its original inhabitants are barely recognisable as people at all, or so say the treatises and gazetteers of the Atlanteans.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

From the sketchbook

A Lemurian.

Atlantis as written by the victors

My Atlantis books, some of them. Three feet of shelf space, no lie. My favourite is Murry Hope's Atlantis: Myth or Reality? because any sensible answer to that question makes that the shortest book ever ("Duh, myth. Next, please!")
The history of a nation is, unfortunately, too easily written as the history of its dominant class.
Kwame Nkrumah, first President of Ghana.
One of my intentions with this project, on the worldbuilding side, at least, is to write a revisionist fantasy history while being true to both my boyhood additions to the mythos and the source material. My solution is to limit the voices I use.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Cosmic invariants (and social media stuff)

Over thirty years later, and I still don't know what it was he was selling.
You can now receive updates, pictures and stuff like that through that most Atlantean of creations, Facebook, where you can now like Chariot - A Roleplaying Game

Rmoahals, the First People

Lemurian, Rmoahal, Atlantean 
The Rmoahals, First of the Four Peoples, are no better or worse than any other people, but none of the cultures of the Twin Continents are so thoroughly, so entirely oppressed.

The more benevolent and progressive of the Atlanteans, those who would consider themselves "good", think of these melancholy blue giants as ennobled by their suffering, but it's the dream of a guilty oppressor: suffering doesn't make you better. You just suffer.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Tarot as an esoteric artefact, Tarot as a game mechanic

When you've spent maybe 25 years (and holy crap it really has been that long) mucking about with dice, dice become familiar to you, you start to understand their little quirks and things. You expect things of them.

And here is a thing: using an alternative means of generating numbers can be an unknown quantity. Which is by way of saying, Tarot cards, eh?

Conflict resolution (in a slightly roundabout way)

[Edit, December 1st 2015: some of the mechanics here have changed in the writing of the game.]

So aged twelve, I painted illustrations for my game, like actual illustrations drawn only as a twelve year old with some talent and no technical skill whatsoever could, mainly using the idiom of 1980s Marvel comics, and came the with all these ideas, and none of them survive. They were all destroyed in my teens out of acute embarrassment, which is sad, because I would have loved to show them to you.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Chariot character metrics

(My thoughts about my game are, I confess, a bit scattershot, but gradually a picture should emerge. Go with me here.)

In a tabletop rpg, character attributes are how your character interacts with the game world, so they need to reflect the sort of story you want to tell. I mean, this you know. So. Stats.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Four pools of points

This is actually the framework that underscores the basic game mechanic.

I'll write a bit about how it works next time. 

Friday, 20 March 2015

(Yeah, another Atlantis game)

It's a well worn theme. I mean, in the last ten years there's been a bunch of Atlantis-themed games out there (I know, I wrote for one of them), and I'm sure that they're great games, and they're popular, and they have all that swords and sorcery stuff that's such a thing in fantasy games right now.

I wanted to write something that stands alone. It's not a swords and sorcery game. It's about being around at the end, where something that could have been beautiful has become something awful. I want it to be about being a drop in an ocean of oppression and empire, and knowing that an ocean is made of countless drops, and the wave might start with you. I want it to be about being part of something bigger than yourself, and about knowing that the catastrophe is coming and you're not likely to survive it isn't a reason to give up hope. And about how it's worth making a better world to come even if you're not likely to see it.

I want it to be sad, and magical, and hopeful. I want it to have a sense of wonder, like the wonder I had as a kid. I want it to be beautiful. And I'm doing it because I have meant to make it for thirty years.

And that's why I think it's worth doing.

This is where we were

This is from Scott-Elliot's ur-text The Story of Atlantis, probably the 1904 edition.
My copy has modernised maps (which is a shame).
Five million years this place has been here, and now, the Twin Continents reach their final equilibrium, their final setting for the coming catastrophe, and let us not be mistaken, the catastrophe will come. The warring Emperors of the Atlanteans, South and North, who can be told apart by their flags alone, Black and White respectively, draw their lines.

Like ants, the workers in the occult factories that litter the outer rings of the Golden City scurry to build vast fleets of vimana-ships, each with the capability of destroying millions with a single shot. Vrilbatteries leach the ley force from the earth, and every day, as the life flows from the ground, the hairline cracks grow wider; the coastlines recede from the sea. The slave-economy is the centre of Atlantean commerce; the citizens go about their lives, and live and love and hate and eat and sometimes starve and have the whole range of human experience, without ever really seeing the people who make their privilege possible.

The Rmoahals know. A whole culture bought and sold, used as tools, soldiers, labour. They sing their freedom-songs under the whip, even while the mystic scientists of Poseidonis, Ruta, Daitya and Leagh arm, indoctrinate and... alter helpless armies of thrall-warriors.

Lemuria has suffered more. Long since occupied by the so called Good Law, the eastern continent will be first to be destroyed. As for the breakaway Muvians, The Atlanteans call them warlike and perverse; they deny the sanctity of marriage, they say. They let their women fight, they say. They keep all their goods in common, they say. They ignore the rules of economic growth. They don't buy or sell slaves. The Muvians are doomed, just as much as everyone else, and they know they are, but in the free cities of the East, the cry goes out, isn't it worth it? And they prepare to fight.

The colossal, brutal, psychically powerful Lemurians dwindle. Once they herded the great saurians across the plains of the Eastern lands, and watched, but now once more they prepare for a final war.

It doesn't have to happen. Humanity can still be saved, will endure beyond the catastrophe. The Manus assure us of that. But our actions as part of a people in danger will determine the course of the next age. Peace or chaos, slavery or freedom? What cards have we drawn? What role will we play? 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Why, though?

Hi, I'm Howard Ingham. I write.

Among the things I've written are roleplaying games. In the last fifteen years I've written rules and supplements for a stack of games. I wrote for White Wolf for a while. I wrote a little bit of Call of Cthulhu stuff. About six years ago now (and man, was it that long?) I self-published a game called MSG™. I was quite proud of it, I still am, but I'm not going to lie, it was never going to catch any popular imaginations.

About five years ago, I moved away from games, largely. I got other work, worked as a performer, poet, writer of fiction, and occasionally as an illustrator and while I've done bits and pieces here and there for tabletop games, I'm not really working as a game designer anymore.


There was this one game I always wanted to write. It's personal to me, has been since like dot, when my dad used to keep his books on the occult on a high shelf and one day I balanced on a stack of wobbly chairs and got them down, and there was this one about Atlantis, only I'm not talking about your Plato Atlantis or your Graham Hancock Atlantis or even your Howard Overman Atlantis, I'm talking about the dream Atlantis of Madame Blavatsky and Rudolf Steiner, William Scott-Elliot and Charles Leadbeater. The Hyperborean age of the Lhas. The Lost Lemuria. I'm talking about a world invented by and for psychics. Mystics. Dreamers. Not filtered through any lens of pulp fantasy, either. I wouldn't read the American writers who riffed on this stuff until well into adulthood, and that's probably a good thing.

I was about eleven, and I'd discovered Dungeons and Dragons about the same time (I still have the box, purple sides, Erol Otus dragon, acquired second hand from some older lads down the road who couldn't make head or tail of it, at a time when everyone else had the Elmore dragon), and in my lonely head the blurry fragments of theosophical imaginations turned into lost ancient worlds full of psychic three-eyed beastmen who domesticated dinosaurs, and tribes of sad blue giants who walked through lands scoured by the depredations of airship fleets commanded by crazed tyrant witch-kings. This was in the books. This was all there, I swear to God, with Chris Foss paintings and diagrams of the concentric islands of Poseidonis and discussion of cosmic memory and theosophical root races. All there.

But all there in skeleton. No details, no more than what I've just said, really. I was twelve. So I added to it, filled in the gaps with people with silver skin, cold-blooded sky-scaled warrior women, isolated communities of carefree people who, if you ate with them, would never let you leave (and nor would you want to).

You grow up. I thought about writing a book about Atlantis some years ago. Back in 2013, I wrote a one-man show that I performed a couple of times (and hope to again soon). I went back to the original books. Reading the source material, I began to realise how racist it was, how prurient, how much of it was about furthering private agendas (in The Lives of Alcyone, Leadbeater and Besant make the most significant people of the ancient imaginary realms previous incarnations of their mates, investing them with cosmic significance. You can read the loves and hates of that little claque of people, their private dramas, all painted up as ancient history).

The theosophical account of the races of Atlantis is flat out racist, no lie, a myth of the ascendancy of the white race above Asians, Native Americans and Africans. The story flies in the face of everything we know about science and history and, well, humanity.

But what if it could be made into something true? What if the story of this imaginary world were true and were only filtered through the prejudicial eyes of the racist Victorians who channelled it? What if the Atlantis and Lost Lemuria of theosophical myth were a story that spoke to something real? What if the myth were, well, the world that I so dearly wanted to see when I was a kid? 

So I decided some time ago to resurrect the idea of my roleplaying game. A world I could play in, and shape. I thought I'd share it with anyone who cared.

I want to use this blog to share the world I've been making and kick around ideas about the best way to approach the system I made (it uses tarot cards rather than dice, which allows for things that dice can't do). The plan is to write this up as a game, get it playtested, and see if I can't get a modest crowdfunder to pay for some of my peers to write supplemental material for it.

Mostly though, I just want to make my game because I'm invested in it.

This is my project. I think it's likely to be the last roleplaying game I ever write.