The esteemed Mr. Cumber has created the fine offering this week. It is a continuation of the werewolf marking theme which began here.
Allow me to introduce you to Annabeth Millander, and what she has discovered…
Art by Clifford Cumber
Dear people (and others) It is my great pleasure to introduce you to a new visual artist who has recently washed ashore on our bleak (but seldom dull) island. He was found drawing (stunning) pictures of our dear Professor Elemental, and… I pounced! (with success) He is with us now as a guest artist (probably taking up residence near the coast for the views and fresh tentacles) His name is Clifford Cumber, and he describes himself thusly,
“Cliff Cumber draws occasionally for people he likes very much, when he can fit it into a life filled with almost-teen children, and when his wife deems his mental state sufficiently stable to use sharp objects. He is formerly of Great Britain, now resident in Maryland, and while that sounds made up, it’s actually a real state in America. Honest. Follow him on the twitters, @cgcumber.”
As you can see, he is a modest (and busy) sort of chap.
Without further ado, here is his image of Obediah from a recent episode of Tales from the Squid and Teapot.
Please meet Philomena Bucket. She has recently shipwrecked on the island (which may explain her worried expression)
Philomena is a Traveller. Which is to say, the example character in the Hopeless, Maine role playing game which is in development by Keith Healing. The whole project is coming along beautifully and has a publisher, so, fear not (or, not too much) it will be with you in the fullness of time. Keith understands the setting and the story in a way that makes us nearly giddy and is finding ways of having players explore and interact with the island and its flora and fauna (and those things which are uncomfortably neither or both) and create experiences and dark adventures.
Here, in Keth’s words, is how Philomena Bucket was born (or created) with some rolls of the dice-
These numbers tell us a lot about her. Philomena is of average build (STR 11) but a little sickly (CON She could well appear a little pale and wan. However, her manual dexterity is good. She is not stubborn but can possibly be manipulated (WILL 10) but is of above average intelligence. She gets on pretty well with people (CHA 11) and is naturally drawn towards things spiritual (PSY 15).
Philomena rolled 52 on Class, making her as Middle class as could be, and 47 on Age. The player determines that as this is towards the top end of the range Philomena is 28 years old.
Given her physical characteristics and her high PSY Philomena’s player decides that she is an Artist specialising in painting. Her high PSY and DEX give her a base skill of 36% to which is added another 10% for her age, giving a total of 46%. She is pretty good but a bit rough around the edges.
She is a keen amateur Biologist.
Finally, and intriguingly, she is albino.”
If the roll had gone another way, she would have been inexplicably attractive to small bits of metal.
If you would like to know how all of this is developing and keep up with progress and news of release dates and such, I can recommend following the development blog, here!
Hoping (as always) this finds you well, inspired and thriving.
People (and others) your roving reporter has recently encountered another reclusive resident of Hopeless, Maine and felt moved to introduce him (so to speak) to the island populace at large. (Partly as a warning to those of you who might be hoarding items of cultural interest)
Mr. Trouser (when not being fictional) is, of course, in reality, the greatly esteemed Stephen Mosley, who is an engineer, artist, journalist, photographer and writer who releases his work under the name of “Actuarius.” His love of Art Deco and the between-wars period informs every aspect of his life. Although he is no reenactor, He considers himself a Futurist. He rejects the conventional thought that aligns this with the war loving far right. Not so much a collection of contradictions as a life lived on his own terms. He is honoured to have a representative in Hopeless, Maine.
A strand of folklore common to various cultures throughout the western world is that of The Wild Hunt. From the Viking settlements of Scandinavia to the plains of Arizona, via several points in-between, many attest to having seen this ghostly cavalcade of wraiths racing across the night sky, filling the air with the clatter of hooves and the baying of hounds.
No one would express surprise to learn that Hopeless has more than its fair share of Wild Hunts. On a particularly busy night two or three can run into each other and the result is invariably chaotic. There are always tantrums, hissy fits and disagreements regarding rights of way and inevitable disputes about who is entitled to pursue what or whom. Occasionally a scuffle ensues, which is one of the more entertaining spectacles for anyone brave or foolhardy enough to be abroad on such a night.
One of the lesser known and least exciting of these chases across the sky is locally referred to as The Mild Hunt. Legend has it that many years ago a group of six lady authors set out from England to seek intellectual freedom in the New World. They had little money and their only possessions were three mules, a pair of springer spaniels and enough paper and ink to keep them occupied on the long sea voyage. The journey was largely uneventful and the ladies spent their days sitting on deck, laboriously writing improving pamphlets, which were intended to be distributed among the grateful inhabitants of New England when they eventually reached their destination. Sadly, just as they had sighted Maine, a terrible storm arose, as if from nowhere. The wind picked up and every one of their pamphlets was swept into the air. The ladies scuttled around the deck trying to retrieve them but all to no avail. Before long, near one of the many little islands that cluster around that coastline, the ship struck an outcrop of rock and quickly sank; every living creature on board descended to a distinctly watery grave. Under normal circumstances that would have been the end of the tale but this particular rocky outcrop was part of an Island that is frequently omitted from the charts. An island that seems reluctant to let its dead rest for very long…
As far as anyone knows the drowned crew all retired to a happy eternity drinking rum in Davy Jones’ locker. The ghosts of the ladies and their livestock, however, had a different fate. So distraught were they over losing their handwritten pamphlets, they vowed to scour the skies until each one was retrieved. Doubling up on the mules, with the spaniels at their heels, they rose into the heavens, amid a chorus of brays and irritating barks, eternally damned to fulfil their quest. Occasionally, when not unceremoniously falling off the mules, they can be spotted taking tea and cake with other wraiths, notably The Mad Parson of Chapel Rock and The Headless White Lady who is known to haunt The Squid and Teapot (though how she manages to consume tea and cake is a mystery in itself).
The legend gave rise to a popular song, often heard around the island.
Ghost Writers in The Sky
A night-soil man went strolling out across the darkened land,
Upon a ridge he rested, his bucket in his hand.
For all at once he spied some paper flying through the air
Ghostly pamphlets, by and large, littering everywhere.
The edges of these pamphlets burned with a fiery glow,
The ink was black and shiny and the paper white as snow.
A bolt of fear went through him as they fluttered through the sky
For he saw the riders plodding up and he heard their mournful cries
Dearie me, oh
Dearie me, oh gosh.
Ghost writers in the sky
Their faces gaunt, their glasses blurred their skirts all creased and stained,
With wraith-like spaniels at their heels they clung on to the reins.
They’ve got to ride forever across the Hopeless skies
On flatulent old mules, you can often hear their cries.
As the riders loped on by him he heard one call “Yoo hoo,
If you want to help us out, young man, there’s something you can do.
If you should see some pamphlets a-fluttering in the breeze,
Stick them in your bucket, lad, and put the lid down, please.”
Dearie me oh
Dearie me, oh gosh!
Ghost writers in the sky
Ghost writers in the sky
Ghost writers in the sky
art by Tom Brown
Dear Mr Jones,
We are writing to express our displeasure with your report on the Children of Thasaidon’s annual feast of the lunar eclipse in last week’s Vendetta.
We were very distressed by your one-sided coverage of this year’s event.
You made it sound as if almost everyone present was some sort of deranged cultist, when in fact, the meeting was a philosophical and spiritual conference aimed at raising awareness of our beliefs.
We feel that the worship of The Demon Lord Thasaidon has been demonized since we arrived on the island and this article doesn’t help matters!
Implying that we are a secret society, and referring to us as a “lunatic fringe” in your article was misleading and insulting.
First of all, the feast was not limited to a “fringe group” of one particular religion, but had the support and participation of a broad cross-section of this island’s community.
Nothing was said about the charity raffle, children’s workshops or free auguries from our seer – for which, I would like to point out, we didn’t charge a penny. In fact, your article seemed to focus on one minor incident in which a rather excitable member of our brethren plucked the still-beating heart from a goat and howled at the moon (all done in a good-natured spirit of fun I might add).
This was hardly what the feast was entirely about. In all, your coverage was so inaccurate that it could lead one to believe that your publication has significant prejudice against religious groups, regardless of their activities.
Furthermore, each time I try to get through to your office telephone number to put our case forward, Mr Jones, you act as though I were an annoyance!
An apology is in order. You should consider the ramifications of such irresponsible reporting, which will surely not go unnoticed by the public. As for the undersigned and those who were in attendance, we have lost confidence in the credibility of your news reports. We hope you are interested in regaining this confidence and look forward to your correcting the problem.
Kindly retract your statements and apologize. We understand that it may be difficult for the island’s sole local newspaper to be impartial in reporting such matters, but impartiality is important if you wish to have any credibility at all.
Chief Hierophant of The Church of The Children of Thasaidon, The Blood-Coloured, Jackal-Headed Lord of the Seven Hells of Zothique. (Bingo every Saturday).
This gem was brought to you by none other than the esteemed MR Charles Cutting. (Who is no stranger to dark regions and has explored such places as Kadath and environs)
Artwork by Tom Brown
I was saddened to learn, this week, of the sudden death of my old friend and sometime drinking companion Sir Fromebridge Whitminster, last of the great actor managers, tragedian and founder of the ill-fated theatre troupe The Hopeless Players.
Sir Fromebridge washed up¹ on to our shores many years ago from England, following a fall-out with the management of an esteemed London repertory company. He cited artistic differences as being the main reason for his leaving the land of his birth and that of his beloved Shakespeare.
From the moment he arrived in Hopeless he became convinced that the island had been The Bard’s inspiration for Prospero’s Isle in ‘The Tempest’, possibly gleaned from tales related by a sea captain who had ventured to the early colonies. On one occasion I challenged this assertion, quoting the words of Caliban:
Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not…”
It hardly sounded like the Hopeless I knew.
“Poetic licence, dear boy,” he said. “But the bit about the place being full of noise is deadly accurate.”
It would be impossible to celebrate the life of this man without mentioning the short-lived Hopeless Players; their history is not a particularly happy one. The troupe toured the island several times, aiming to bring Shakespeare to the people. The problem was that, by and large, not only the people but the the island itself were hostile to this intrusion of, what they regarded as being, largely incomprehensible language and convoluted plots.²
The tragedies which occurred within The Tragedies are too numerous to recall, but certain ones stand out. There was the memorable occasion on the North of the island when the profusion of ghosts on the stage made it impossible for an uncharacteristically elderly Hamlet to pick out which one was supposed to be his father. As it happened none of them were, as the actor assigned to the job was, at the time, being seduced in his dressing room by a passing succubus.
The following year saw the King Lear incident. In a less than salubrious town-hall the cry of “Out vile jelly” had a swarm of timid, diminutive and generally shapeless life-forms climbing out of the woodwork in the mistaken belief that they were being evicted from their homes. The final straw came during a production of MacBeth, or The Scottish Shambles, as the company came to call it. Sir Fromebridge had completely underestimated the potency of the witches’ spells when cast on this particular island, especially beneath a full moon. The sight of Birnham Wood being transformed into a window-box, Banquo’s sporran spontaneously combusting and Lady MacDuff sprouting bat wings and a tail was unforgettable. Any rapidly diminishing chances of the show going on were scuppered completely when a set of bagpipes scampered around the stage viciously attacking the surviving members of the cast. On the plus side, this was the only time any of their performances received a standing ovation. The applause was deafening and enough to waken the dead, had they not already been enthusiastically joining in from the second row of the balcony.
After that what remained of the troupe quickly disbanded and Sir Fromebridge spent his twilight years holding court in the snug of The Squid and Teapot, a quayside hostelry frequented by mainly British exiles. He was a familiar sight in his trademark flop-brimmed fedora and billowing black cape, sharing anecdotes of a flamboyant theatrical past and gossiping about his various leading ladies.³
To keep himself occupied he attempted to teach the local people the correct pronunciation of certain words, such as tomato, schedule, lieutenant and aluminium. Sadly, none of these really featured much in the vocabulary of the average Hopeless resident so all was to no avail. However, while his efforts to anglicise the natives came to nothing, the culture of the island managed to reach him in its various ways. In fact, the very last time I saw him he was lurching out of The Squid singing, almost in tune, a popular island ditty:
” You can bring Rose with the grotesque nose
But don’t bring Cthulu…”
To my knowledge he passed away soon after, slipping quietly away in his sleep. (4) He will be sorely missed.
1) Many believed him to be washed up long before he came to Hopeless.
2) And also unaccountable financial discrepancies concerning ticket receipts.
3) The chances are that he didn’t mention the critic who observed that
‘Whitminster believes himself to be elevating the stage, when in reality he is only depressing the audience’
4) This is not completely true. Eye-witnesses relate that he staggered out of The Squid and Teapot, following a particularly agreeable liquid lunch, to settle down to sleep upon, what he seemed to believe to be, a large smooth rock. This was in fact the belly of a juvenile aboo-dom-k’n, basking in the thin, greasy light of some unaccustomed sunshine. This sudden burden disturbed the beast which, hardly believing its luck, slipped quietly into the sea, taking its lunch ( that is, the artiste previously known as Fromebridge Whitminster) with it.
This post written by the esteemed Martin Pearson, proving that it does indeed run (or slither) in the family.
New residents discovered!
Hopeless, Maine sits in a particularly cold and damp pocket of Casco bay and is hardly a tropical isle. Thanks to the efforts of two recently discovered residents though, it has just become much, much cooler.
Derek Dubery and Lisa Cunningham-Black have heroically donned Hopeless, Maine attire and done a series of photos for us. We (it hardly needs to be said) are over the mist-enshrouded moon.
So, without further ado, please allow me to introduce you to our new found islanders, they are “Captain” Jerrimiah Thomson Flynn and Bonnie Black. (It’s unknown whether the Captain title is genuine or not) If Bonnie and Clyde were to have been born off the coast of Maine, it likely would have been these two. The Captain has at some point in his “career” led a group of local brigands, but they have disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Not long after this, he was seen in the constant company of the young lady pictured. When asked their feelings regarding the underground residents of the island, they expressed a willingness to go “which ever way the wind blows”.
This reporter is not entirely certain they can be trusted, but they are certainly stimulating company.