Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Vengeance Week. R.E.V.E.N.G.E

Participating in this event are the following stellar bloggers:

A while ago, I had an idea for a tongue-in-cheek band of pitchfork/ flaming torch wielding, do-gooders, that I labelled  P.I.T.C.H.F.O.R.K.  I imagined that those who have been wronged, or harmed, by the forces of evil could hire them to right any wrongs. Admittedly, I had been reading more than my fair share of Grant Morrison's work at the time, and envisioned the Pitchfork crew as a motley assortment of heroes, but without the super-powers of course.

When the chance to participate in Vengeance Week came up, I knew immediately what I wanted to do, and that was to tell the other side of the coin as it were.  Who does your Arch-Villain turn to when his nefarious plans have just been thwarted for the umpteenth time? Where does evil go when they need help? Who do they hire when they need to get, R.E.V.E.N.G.E?

(You won’t like them when they’re angry)

you've got trouble in your life of love
you got a broken heart
he's double dealing with your best friend
that's where the teardrops start
pick up the phone, I’m here alone
or make a social call
come right in forget about him
we'll have ourselves a ball

dirty deeds done dirt cheap,
dirty deeds done dirt cheap,
 dirty deeds done dirt cheap
dirty deeds and they're done dirt cheap
dirty deeds and they're done dirt cheap


He slumbers, ursine, his dreams filled with the sights and sounds of a homeland now drowned under the weight of the ages.
 It is dry and unbearably hot in the full blight of the sun. They cling like leeches to the shade, fanning themselves, idle, lazy, watching the slaves toil and sweat and die, as the temple gongs ripple like a heat wave through the city.
The dream is sharper now, more vivid. His nostrils are engorged with the bouquet of sultry spices, incense, and the scent of desert blooms caught on the breeze.
Goats, slaves, and other chattel fill the market places with their heated discussion and bellicose bargaining; and everywhere he goes, those around him drop to their knees in reverence.
Such is the power of the Lord of Hawks.
He spies a kohl eyed beauty at his sandaled feet. He taps her on her shapely back with his golden scepter and bids her rise. She is canny. She does not look into the depths of his avian mask. He leads her to his abode at the heart of the city.
He is rough at first, then gentle, and finally he sleeps, while his lust cools like the stones of the city beyond his window, outside in the gathering dark.
The day has run its course, the shadows pool and solidify as a cacophony of gongs and trumpets herald the end of day, because Ra, ever fickle, demands constant adoration, lest he cast the world into endless night.
He hears a noise, closer this time, someone is in his chamber. He opens his eyes but he is too late. They surround his bed, tall, robed, masked, daggers flashing in the last rays of the day. His blood sprays, ejaculating toward the ceiling before falling down onto the sandy floor like the first rains of spring. He is undone, deceived, betrayed. He is dead.
But is he?
Time passes.
He cannot move. The walls press tightly around him. Torchlight flickers drunkenly before his resting eyes. His slumber is disturbed. A grunt, a groan, the scraping of stone on stone. He smells unwashed bodies thick with sweat and the unmistakable aroma of fear.
 Then, suddenly, hands moving over his body, searching, grabbing, pulling… looting. He’s had enough. He lets out a low moan and sits up, slowly. He is appalled at the noise his joints make as he moves. They creak, like the timber of his boats when he sails them down the mighty Elin River.
 He opens his eyes. There is screaming now. He tries to make sense of where he is, what’s going on. He is in a room, a chamber, it echoes, there are piles of his belongings all around him on the floor: Mummified cats and servants, gold, jewels, all his earthly possessions radiate outward from around him like the petals of a sunflower.
He is not alone. There are others here, moving backwards, terror painted on their faces as he climbs steadily from his… bed? What is this thing? A sarcophagus? Is it his? Is he dead?
 But if he is dead, then how can he move? He grabs the mewling tomb robber closest to him and breaks his scrawny neck. He flings the corpse at the others and laughs in a dry, grating manner, as they collapse under the weight of their dead companion.
 Soon they are naught but bloody heaps on the tomb floor, and the Lord of Hawks is alone once more with his thoughts.
Rictus awakes. He sits up slowly and adjust his cloak. He might be dead, but he abhors the chill and the damp on his desiccated flesh and dried out bones. He looks around the room and feels at peace watching the other members of his group doing whatever it is they do during the long, dark, watches of the night. Here, amongst the most reviled creatures in the realm, he feels at home. They are kith and kin to him now and he would die for them if need be; because if there is one thing that Rictus has learned over the last thousand years or so, it is that death, is not the end.

Rictus is a Mummy. Use the applicable stats for whatever system you are playing, with a few exceptions:

1)  He has a bag of dust, which when emptied into the palm of his hand and blown upon his enemies, acts as a sleep spell. (See your relevant PHB for spell information). This can happen twice per day.
2)  He can summon a horde of locusts to confuse and obfuscate magic-users and clerics to prevent them from casting spells or turning undead. The swarm will be in effect for 1d10 rounds or until dispelled.  Again, this can happen twice per day.
3)  He is armed with a captured Persian Peshkabz (curved dagger) that gives him immunity to all fire, either magical or mundane. If the weapon is not in his hands, or on his person, then the protection ends, and he may succumb to flame.


 He had been begging for alms outside the Church of the Slumbering Suppuration in a quiet town called Barton’s Weevils, when he saw them for the first time. He could see they were the business, they were just so, menacing. They looked as if they didn’t have a care in the world, like agents of change answering the prayers of others.
Eerie decided then, and there, that he wanted to belong to that, no matter what, and no one was more astounded than he when they asked if he wanted to be a part of their coterie. They applied soothing balms and ointments to his wounded skin, dressed him in clean clothes, fed him, and gave him more coin in a single afternoon than he had seen in a lifetime.
And all they wanted in return was his undying loyalty, and a little information…
Eerie, sick of a life of being of being spat on, shat on, laughed at, and mocked for his disfigured appearance, wanted nothing but the sweet, sweet, taste of revenge. He’d spent years pushing all that hurt and negativity down into the nether parts of his soul, his consciousness, just about any place he wouldn’t have to think of the state he was in, or the role he played in his world. He said yes, yes, and yes, a thousand times over. Finally, he felt like if he belonged.
Eerie, born to the gutter, contracted leprosy sometime after his Nameday. Since then, he’d spent his time invisible to just about everyone who crossed his path. It had been a hard life made even harder by the cruel jibes of the local cleric, Father Swells. He was supposed to be a kindly soul, the Father, but Eerie knew that all donations to the church went toward the upkeep of the slovenly cleric, and not for the impoverished as they were meant to.
Father Swells supped on lavish meals, and guzzled wines by the gallon, while the poor went hungry and died just beyond the walls of his house of lies and illusions.
It wasn’t like Eerie was just bone idle and lazy, far from it. He worked the docks whenever he could, but his ailment often left him in excruciating pain, unable to lift the heavy crates and boxes from ship to shore. His skin would slew from his bones and he would weep bitterly for death, knowing that it was never far away, but for whatever reason, it would fail to claim him for its own. So he lived and he suffered… Until they came and took him as one of their own.
It seems as if Father Swells had angered the wrong person, and that’s why they were here, in the squalid part of the world Eerie called, home. Their mission was simple: exact revenge from the fat fuck.
Eerie waited for the Bells of Evensong to fade before leading them to the church. He knocked on the heavily barred door as he had done countless times before, and waited. But this time, things would be vastly different.
The tipsy cleric appeared in the doorway, flushed, sweating, with crumbs and gravy on his portly cheeks, while he readied his usual retort for those who came begging. They bundled him inside before he knew what was happening.
The rest of the group had him out of his priestly robes and spread-eagled on the altar before he could even splutter for help. Rictus, the Mummy, whispered in the naked priest’s ear and Eerie saw his eyes widen in terror. Someone handed Eerie a long curved dagger without instruction.
 Eerie knew what to do, he had dreamed about it for so many years. But as he was about to plunge the burnished bronze weapon deep into the chest of the beast, he felt the lid come off all the hurt and anger he had kept bottled up for years. His eyes darkened over, a strange, bile like substance, ran down his cheeks like rivers of midnight tears. His anger erupted in a dark, tenuous web, the colour of fresh tar, and he let his creation wrap its tumorous strands around the howling priest. Of what happened next, Eerie has no recollection.
They headed south as the flames from the burning church spread to the mill next door. By the time the group had crossed the Geert River, the fire was all the way down the main road engulfing the docks, and when Eerie, and his new family finally lay their heads down at dawn, the village was naught but a black, smoldering gash on the countryside. He has been with them ever since, and has never been happier.

Eerie manifests a Bile Elemental when he is angry. Use the standard rules found in your monster manual (elementals) for running this special creation. It should be around 8HD, and should deal a minimum of 3d8 crushing damage. Its primary form of attack is to manifest itself like a net made of webs, which will then cling to his opponent and squeeze the very life from them. It is immune to cold, fire, charm and can only be hit by magical weapons. While his creation is active, Eerie must concentrate, or it will retreat back to the Never from whence it came.
If the creature is destroyed, it takes a full week for Eerie to be able to summon another one.


It is hot and steaming in the jungle. A young boy watches in terror as tall men with bodies of shining metal, sit astride snorting beasts with muscled flanks and four legs, running riot through his sleepy village. They wield fear, fire and fury, and kill any unlucky enough to cross their path.
The once tranquil paths are choked with corpses. Blood stains the hallowed grounds of the temple. They are here for the gold. They are always here for the gold. Why this stupid metal has such power of man, the boy will never understand.
The attackers run amok, spearing priests, and kicking severed heads to one another for sport. He hears a baby cry, then nothing and that fills him with dread. His heart is pounding in his chest. He slides on his belly like the snake god they worship, trying to flee. But he is spotted, and dragged, from the hut in which he was hiding.
The savage men laugh and scream like mad animals as they prepare to kill him like all the rest. But he is anointed, he has communed, supped with the gods and this will be their doom.
Something stirs. Something writhes, inside of him, deep in his bowels. He becomes…
The marauders screams are panicked, wild, like the birds of paradise when they take to the air. They turn to flee, but the boy is faster now, faster than he could have ever dreamed of. He rises up from the dirt floor, towering over them, swaying with restrained malice from side to side. And suddenly, he is loose among them. His hood, fully distended now, is blood red and jungle green, and the poison of his ancestors, trickles down his dagger-like fangs. He lunges with the speed of the Hooded Cobra at his enemies, biting them, impregnating them with his poisonous gifts. They clutch at their throats, dropping to their knees, hands, noose-like around their choking throats. Their faces swell and blacken as they collapse, and the boy, now a perfectly shaped image of his god, hisses ever so, sssslightly.

Venom is able to mutate into a large Snake Man when he has the need. It takes 1d4 rounds to do so, and he is able to control the change as long as necessary. He can do this three times per day if need be.
Snake Man
  Hit Dice: 4+1
  Armour Class: 4 [15]
  Attacks: 2 claws (1d6), 1 bite (1d8) + Special
  Saving Throw: 16
  Special: If bitten by Venom, Save vs. Poison or die. He is immune to any types of poison himself. Because he has hands while transformed, he can also utilise weapons, and as such, specialise in Poisoned swords (1d8) Save vs. Poison or collapse for 2d4 rounds.  Move: 6/12
  Alignment: Reptilian


Soft, sensual, voluptuous, she is everyone’s dream, everyone’s fantasy. She sways, hypnotically, while the drums beat their frenzied tattoo. The crowd lie in puddles of narcotic slumber around the stage, watching her from under hooded eyes. She advances slowly toward the King. His lust for her evident on his corpulent face. She disrobes before him, suggestively, reducing the King of Kashmir to a sweating, trembling mass of fat and desire. She runs her dainty finger around the rim of his golden chalice before sliding it into the red wine he covets so much. She draws her hand back, like a snake that’s about to strike, then slowly moves her outstretched finger towards slavering lips the colour of raw liver. His tongue, slug-like and obscene, flops out from behind lotus stained teeth to seek the pearl of red liquid that hangs daintily from the underside of her finger. He licks it off of her fragranced skin, and she does everything in her power not to show her revulsion for this, this… creature.
The drums beat faster, each volley overlapping one another until they become a heightened symphony of discordia and drug fueled chaos. The King prepares to stand, he must have her he thinks, and he must have her now! But his legs are unsteady and he falls to the carpeted floor as she sways slowly above him, teasing him, egging him on. But he is too far gone to even comprehend what is happening to him. The poison is fast acting and he is dead by the time his regal head hits the silk rugs beneath him. She continues the dance of death as if nothing is wrong. She backs away, slowly, sliding toward the door as the guards now begin to break their trance and rush to their fallen King. She is out the door and loose in the shadows before they even know he’s dead.
 She rides south with them that night, Noreen far ahead of them, scouting the lay of the land, while Rictus and Gibber take the front and Eerie and Venom guard the rear. Once again, someone, somewhere, has got their, R.E.V.E.G.E.

Elixir is a demon that specialises in assassination by whatever means necessary. She is able to disguise her demonic appearance (eyes, wings and tail) when she needs to. She rides with the others because she loves to collect the souls of the guilty and the damned. See your Monster Manual for statistics on a minor demon and alter to your tastes.

Her father was a woodsman. Broad of back and taciturn in appearance. His axe shone and sparkled, and was wicked sharp because he worked its blade every night while the girl cooked for them. They lived in the heart of a forest that was dark, dim, cool in the summers, and freezing in the winters. It was their home. Then, one day, the girl’s father went hunting. Autumn was a few weeks away still but he wanted to stock the larder as much as he could before the snows came. He packed his belongings and when he was done, he kissed her on the forehead and left the warmth of the hut. The girl watched her father be swallowed up by the trees and their slanting shadows. That night, she could not sleep. The owls hooted, the wolves howled, and the girl fretted incessantly waiting for the dawn. When the sun split the sky, she stoked the fire, made tea, ate some bread with jam and went out to cut the wood. She missed her father terribly. She worked hard that day, harder than she had ever worked before. She worked the wood and the axe as powerfully as any man could have, well, except for her father of course. The sun dimmed and the sky bruised and she finished for the day with a heavy heart knowing that it would be some days before she saw her father again. That night, as she sharpened the axe, she heard a tread on the wooden porch and her heart fluttered with joy. She was about to fling open the door and welcome him home when something made her stop. The noise was stealthy, sneaky, not the bold tread of someone returning home bearing meat. She waited and she listened, and sure enough, she heard someone on the other side of the door, breathing heavily, like an animal before it pounces. And then a voice spoke asking to be let in. The girl knew that voice, she had heard it every day since she had been born. But it was different somehow, colder, grating, and no longer human. She picked the axe up from where it stood next to the fire and opened the door. She saw a figure before her, hulking, reeking of life after death. It stumbled toward her. A shaft of moonlight illuminated the nocturnal visitor and she saw who it had once been. She recognised that face, how could she not? It was the same as hers. She cried silently as she did what she had to do. The girl brought the axe down into the creature that had once loved her more than anything else in the world. When she was done, she drove a stake of fresh-cut wood into the beast’s heart and disposed of the body by flame. Later, she sat inside the hut, rocking back and forth murmuring to herself, and waiting, waiting for the sun so that she may seek out the one who had done this to her father, and destroy it.
Noreen lost more than her father that fateful day, she lost her mind too. She spends her days in complete silence, sharpening her fearsome axe, waiting to put it good use in felling far more than mere wood. Treat the axe as +1 to hit and +3 to wound versus undead.


His visions of the world are not like yours. Where you may see love and light and balance, Gibber sees the sky on fire and the skull beneath the skin. He suffers from hellish illusions and cowers at the feet of slavering behemoths, he surmises are freshly risen from the abyss. He is their servant, humble, confused, a puppet in their nefarious hands. Gods, demons, and powers beyond his ken or control whisper to him incessantly. They tell him what to do and how to do it. Gibber’s days are filled with imaginary companions and terrifying conversations.
 They found him moaning and muttering to himself in a dark corner of the city. Gibber was a wreck, and quite obviously insane. But was he? Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean his invisible compatriots are not there.
 In his mind he dances and cavorts with extravagant creations of extraordinary colours. Rich purples and royal blues surround him, extolling the virtue of submitting to his fantasies. Rivers of blood and bile flirt shamelessly with him in his dreams. Audible instructions, sibilant whispers, are given to him by dark angels that balance precariously on his shoulders. Their messages soothes his fevered brain and offer serenity when he murders for them. His first victim’s demise brought great peace to Gibber. But slowly the tide of misunderstanding and angst rose again, scaring him, confusing him, forcing him to kill again, and again, and again. But the ones with whom he travels understand him, they temper the unrest that burns and riots behind his eyes, and sometimes, they even manage to silence the voices…

Gibber, although he appears to be demon possessed, is not. He suffers from bouts of extraordinary rage that can only be assuaged when he kills. The members of the group are able to keep him calm (most of the time) but they are also able to goad him into giving in to the voices. When he slips his mental fetters, Gibber becomes a crazed Berserker. Use the applicable rules for his statistics, with some exceptions: he can rage for 1d6 round longer than most berserkers, go as low as -10 HP before death, and when frenzied, treat his strength as 18(100%).


No one knows where she came from but she reeks of the desert. Her hair is black and her skin is burnished and hot to the touch. Her eyes burn like Valuvian fire and she speaks of places the others do not know. Sparks of pure manna, the colour of verdigris, dance and sparkle on her hands like minute gemstones. She delights in raw, elemental energy, soaking up wild-storms and dancing frenziedly in the rain. She has scars all over her body. Jagged, deep, viscous, curved and meandering from one part of her skin to another. They look like a map of her life at the hands of an unseen tormentor. But she relishes her wounds, they are like titles and medals to her and she embraces them all lovingly. Each one has a tale to tale, and if you listen carefully, you can hear them whispering to one another. She drinks kawa by the jug and snorts crushed lino leaves and gecko spines to get her going. But at night she whimpers and grows dim, almost to the point of invisibility. She uses a whip made from the flesh of her tormentors, and sharpened daggers of bone that she broke from their bodies. A circle of dried penises around her delicate throat complete her garb.
Eldritch is a mystery. At all times is she a warrior, but there is a 20 to 30% chance (more if there is a storm about) that she awakes as an 8th level mage as well. She uses a whip, and when it hits, treat as a Staff of Snakes. In combat she whirls, dizzyingly, like a dervish. Treat her as AC 5(14).

Monday, 13 July 2015

Vengeance Week. Revenge is a dish best served...d30.

I will have such revenges on you both,
That all the world shall--I will do such things,-- 
What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be 
The terrors of the earth. 
King Lear (2.4.305-9)

I'll let +Jens D. tell it like it is...

"Some of you might remember the Dungeons & Drunkards Weekend initiated by +Charles Akins back when (if you've never heard of it, feel free to check out that first link leading you to a pdf leading you to enlightenment ...). Well, we had so much fun, we started another project and took some more people on board to write about another topic: Vengeance! And since we are a bunch of creative bastards with too much time on our hands, we made a whole week out of it. The fun starts at Monday and it's two post a day until Thursday and one brutal coup de grace on Friday. We'll have it all, tables, short stories, advice for your games, you name it! I'll update this post as soon as the posts start hitting the ground ..."
Participating this time are (in order of initiative):
So stay tuned! This will be an interesting week ... OF REVENGE!!!

So, with all that being said, here is the first of my contributions on the subject of revenge.

Weird crap that villains say on the subject of revenge

d30 Revenge is a dish best served…

1.       Cold
2.       After moon-rise of the following day
3.       In the dog days of high summer
4.       Before the frost and after the rains
5.       Lukewarm
6.       When the west wind blows cold and pale
7.       In the lee of the Dog Star
8.       Before they even know they’ve crossed you
9.       In the dark
10.   After midnight
11.   Just in time for dinner
12.   After you've dug the second grave
13.   After a day at the races when the winnings are dribbling down their cheeks
14.   Scorching Hot
15.   Between the steely thighs of a Chainmailed Caterwaul
16.   Between courses at a feast of friends
17.   On the poisoned tip of an arrow
18.   Up close and personal
19.   Between the shoulder blades
20.   Across the throat
21.   As they lie convulsing at your feet
22.   The morning after the night before
23.   In a galaxy, far, far away
24.   Under the purple tongue of a strangled murderer
25.   At a banquet for one
26.   On the dark side of the moon
27.   At the bottom of a murky well
28.   After passion during poison
29.   In your last cup of sorrow
30.   Again, and again, and again, and again…

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

You get what you pay for. When comic book advertisements go bad. Part One.

It’s always tough fitting in at a new school, in a new social environment. But it can be even tougher when all the kids in your new class are just a bunch of withering shits that get off on others misery. My misery, to be precise. God how I hated them. Miss Perkle didn’t help either, she didn’t give a crap, all she cared about was banging the Head Teacher, after hours, in his big red car. Little Slut. But I was going to show them, and her, how it felt to be the one under the microscope. It was a rainy Saturday and I had nothing to do. I was flicking through my big-brothers comic books when I saw the advert for the Hypno-Coin on the back page. I didn’t know such miraculous items existed! I had to have it. I dug a wrinkled dollar bill from my savings piggy, carefully clipped out the order form, stuck it all in a self-addressed envelope and mailed it that very day. The next week was glacial. Each day an epoch, filled with boys pulling my braids, the other girls making fun of my braces, and my skirts, and my epilepsy. They were generally just being the bunch of pricks I had come to know and hate. By Friday morning I was beside myself and ready to run away, but when I got home that afternoon, and found a letter addressed to me, well, I suddenly felt a whole lot better. I spent the weekend learning how to use the coin, and by Sunday night I felt fairly confident on how to wield it. The cut on my hand (from the ritual prescribed by the book) still hurt like mad, but compared to the torment I felt on the inside, it was a breeze. Monday came. I managed to find Miss Perkle alone in her classroom on the third floor. She looked up over her gull winged glasses when I called her name. I coughed nervously and began to explain how I wished she would intervene more on my behalf when the other children stood around at laughed at me when I had one of my ‘episodes’. But the bitch just kept on chewing her gum, and flicking through the latest fashion magazine. I put my hand into my pocket and felt the Hypno-Coin lying there, heavier than it should be. It felt dry to my touch, flaky, like a thousand slewed snake skins, it wiggled gently under my fingers as I began to recite the words required to activate its powers. She looked up now, putting down her magazine, pushing her chair across the floor. There was a look of, what was it, fear? I couldn’t be sure, but the words were flowing now, like a river of poison, a litany of pure hate that filled her dainty fucking ears. She was wearing the earrings that I liked too, but it was too late for all of that now. The coin was in my hand, spinning, throwing strange beams of hypnotic light around the stark white classroom walls. The bitch was in my thrall at last. I was going to ask her to be nicer to me, cut me some slack, but the way she was standing there, with her arms limp at her sides, well, she looked just like a marionette that had had her strings cut. So, with that in mind, I made her dance. Up and down the classroom I made her go, banging into chairs and tables, making a huge mess. It was pure inspiration when I made her jab her eyes out with pencils. I laughed really hard at that one. Made me feel good, made me feel like I hadn’t felt in such a long time! Making her dive head first through the window brought our little show to an end, just in time as it turned out because the bell began to ring loudly snapping me from my fugue state. It looked like Miss Perkle had finally learned her lesson, and, as I watched the rest of my class file in to the room, it was high-time I taught them their lesson as well…

 Role Playing Game
“Roll the dice, roll the dice,” they chanted. I picked it up, blew on it for good luck, then unloaded the emerald green fate-sealer across the paper strewn table. Everyone held their breath waiting for the result. I leaned forward and told it like it was.
“Only a natural twenty you dumb, bastards,” I said. The room erupted with jubilation, elation, relief.
“Not so fast, not so fast,” said the new Dungeon Master. He was pissed. I’d potentially killed the Ettin.  “You still need to roll for damage. What you using?”
The choice was obvious.
“I’ll use my two-handed sword,” I said. What else would a skull-splittin’ barbarian of the Northern Wastes use?
Everyone nodded in agreement. Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells album rose to a fitting crescendo in the background.
I picked up another of the green dice and prayed for a high number, following the same procedure as before, but this time, I slowed it down for dramatic effect before throwing it.
Outside, it was a Friday night and most of the kids in our town were swimming in the mainstream. But in here it was buckets o’ blood, and bravery... with the promise of gold and treasure beyond compare.
 We were playing a pen and paper game called D&D, where the only limits, were those of your imagination. We had seen it advertised in the back of a comic book. It looked like a lot of fun, and it was. Dice and charts are used to determine whether or not you are successful in any particular action, like I was doing now: fighting a severely wounded two-headed Ettin who had been slowly and systematically emptying a village of its inhabitants.
The die rolled and ricocheted off a miniature dungeon wall, then came to rest at the feet of a Pringles can towering over assorted maps and figurines like a giant God of junk-food.
It was a twelve. The Ettin would be going down, soon.
“Hell yeah,” went the cry, and it was high-fives all around. I sat down and felt remarkably calm after everything we had just been through. I checked my watch, still several more hours to go before I would have to head home. I didn’t dare tell my Mom what I was up to, she just wouldn’t understand, and I didn’t have the energy to explain it to her either. Besides, she hated me playing D&D. She saw an expose on Fifteen Minutes once, on how it was a ‘gateway-game’ that lead you to Satanism and/or suicide. What bullshit. It had gotten such bad press lately, especially when all those kids disappeared in the steam-tunnels while playing it. The adults said they had been summoned to hell, by the devil himself. But we kids knew the truth: that they had actually all run away from their over-controlling and manipulating parents.
But I digress, we had an Ettin to slay. Mike the dwarf was up next.
“Come on, Mike. Finish the son-of-a-bitch off so we can loot his cave,” I said, smiling, thinking of all the treasure that lay ahead. I looked at the Dungeon Master. It was the first time we had played with him, we got his name from a friend of a friend. In fact, the friend, was one of the kids that had disappeared from the tunnels.
His face seemed to change somewhat, maybe it was the flickering of the candle, I wasn’t sure, but his skin had taken on an almost unmistakable, reptilian glow. And his voice had got deeper too, more, animal like.
Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.
I tried to get up, but I couldn’t. It was as if I was stuck to my chair. I wasn’t alone. I looked around the room, everyone else was struggling to get up. The Dungeon Master’s face had changed completely now. It was demonic. Eyes, pitch-black and emotionless. Teeth, pointed, wicked, and a tongue that danced maniacally in the air. It spoke, slowly. Dreadfully.
“So, Mike,” it said, “the Ettin swings around to hit you.” The demon rolled a dice. It flew over the table leaving a trail of sparks and smoke behind it. The numbers glowed red and fierce.
“It hits…” hissed the demon. He threw another dice. Mike was trying to scream but something was muffling his voice.
The demon bent over to examine the result. His head was bowed, with his twin horns clearly evident, arching outward from his skull.
“Max damage,” he snapped, looking up.
Mike’s head fucking exploded everywhere. I took the brunt of it. Bits-and-pieces of brain, blood, and bone slugged down my face, to fall on my character sheet. Tears filled my eyes, and I realised that whatever this was, it wasn’t a game anymore…

(True) Grit.
The donut was stale and the coffee was tepid at best, but Jimmy wasn’t there for the food, or the ambience, he was there for the money.
He sat with his back to the glass door of the diner, hunched down in his tattered overcoat sneaking sidelong looks at the old man behind the till counting out the days takings. He was arthritic and slow and it was beginning to get to Jimmy, especially when he began to sort through the assorted coins.
Jimmy sat at the end of a long counter, studded with salt and pepper shakers and the occasional bottle of sauce. The gun was in his right pocket; a silver 9mm bought from a ‘friend’ in a back alley about a thousand miles away from where he was now. Outside it was snowing but inside the diner he was sweating. He tried focusing on the white cup between his hands, swirling the oily dregs in a slopping circle. A scrim of snow framed the front window. The jukebox was playing ‘God Bless ye Merry Gentleman.’ Jimmy hated Christmas.
“Get you a refill, darling?” said a voice, breaking his strained concentration. It was harder than he thought, trying to look innocent. Small towns were all the same Jimmy had come to realise; security was always lax. You just walked in and made a withdrawal.
“No thank you,” he mumbled, looking up quickly at the face of the friendly waitress standing behind the counter. He gave her a token smile. The pink name badge said her name was Kathy. He looked down quickly hoping she hadn’t got a good look at his face because the last thing he wanted was her picking him out of a line-up.
“You all right? You look a little green around the gills,” Kathy asked the sweating man.
“I think I’ve got flu,” Jimmy said, grimacing, hoping this would make her go away.
“That’s a pity. Do you want some chicken soup, honey? The chef makes a mean one, guaranteed to take care of any sickness you got in your body,” Kathy said.
She looked as if she was in her late fifties, early sixties perhaps, with a full head of soft white hair that floated above her concerned face in a maternal cloud. He shook his head and told her he was fine. It would take a lot more than chicken soup to take care of the sickness that lived inside him.
“Suit yourself,” she said. Jimmy watched her as she ambled through a set of doors that led into the kitchen. He looked around; he was the only customer left, everyone else had slipped out the doors and into the snow. He checked his watch, five o’clock. If he wanted to be at the rendezvous by ten then he had better get a move on.
“Ok... show time...” he said, under his breath, hoping the Hollywood style one liner would give him the balls to proceed because he’d never done this before. Burglary, fraud, and dealing drugs, you name it; Jimmy had done it all. But armed robbery? No, that was not his cup of tea... he didn’t like guns, detested them actually. He had even hated fireworks when he was a kid. But desperate times they say, eh?
And boy was he desperate. He felt like he had been born desperate; doing whatever it took to earn money. He’d even sold Grit as a kid. He got the idea from the back of a comic book. In the advert, the boy (also called Jimmy) was making money enough to buy himself whatever he wanted. Jimmy decided then and there, that he wanted in on that, that he wanted a little piece of that action.
 So he stole the money needed to join from his Mom’s purse one Friday night, and two weeks later he was out proudly selling Grit. The problem was, was that no-one wanted to buy it. And when he did eventually get a postal order from the Head Office, it was for 20c. Twenty fucking cents. Jimmy felt like his head was about to explode. He kept at it though, and made the swift realisation that if he stole whatever he found at those premises where he knocked where no-one was home, well, he could sell that stuff on and make a lot more cash in half the time. And that’s what he did. But right now, it was time for Grit of another kind. He pulled out the gun and started shooting.
Things went wrong almost from the word go. And when they took his body to the morgue an hour later, the coroner couldn’t believe that it was Little Jimmy lying there, on the slab; Little Jimmy that used to go door-to-door selling… what was the name of that paper again?
 Grit? Wasn’t it?

He was different when he came home from the war. Thinner, both outside and in. And angrier too, man, he would fly off the handle at the littlest thing. I learned to live with it, we all did. We had to. He’d fought his war, now it was our turn. He was a butcher, my dad, and would bring home the choicest cuts of meat for Sunday lunch. We might not of have had much, but we never went hungry. It was Thursday. Mom would be out at her sewing club. Dad had cooked Meatloaf, again. But this time it wasn’t half bad. I asked him about and he pointed at the advert in the paper. Spam, it said, in lurid colour. The tag line was, ‘Life with Father is LOTS more fun since we found SPAM.’ And, if tonight was anything to go by, it was. I had never seen him happier. We laughed and joked like we didn’t have a care in the world. But I should have known better. I should of, but I didn’t. In fact, up until I found the earring in my ‘Spam’, life was as good as I could ever remember. But it went south rapidly after that, when I asked him where Mom was… and he pointed at the advert again, and said, in a dull, emotionless voice, that life with father is lots more fun, since we found Spam…