The Rendlesham Incident

An artist’s depiction of the Rendlesham Forest Incident.

Balor of the Burning Eye is a Mad God of the WitchCraft universe that’s lived in the back of my mind for the last few years. It manifests in Malkuth as an enormous red eye, usually wreathed in flame, sometimes dripping blood. The original concept for Balor was a Mad God whose frequent incursions into Creation drove a cadre of Gifted to found the Brotherhood of Argus, dedicated to combating the Mad God and its minion’s efforts wherever they may be.

In this depiction of the Rendlesham Forest Incident, think of Balor as a manifesting ultraterrestrial. Balor has sent portions of its being to probe into the material world for many long aeons, for as long as there has been something on interest for it to probe. Long ago, Balor’s appearance was interpreted by locals as a relentless, burning eye. As time progressed, so did the interpretation of its appearance. These days, the ill-informed would call it a UFO, assuming it’s a vessel from another world piloted by beings of some form of flesh and blood.

But what they think is a ship is really still a four dimensional extrusion of an entity from a external space-time continuum that may not as few or as many dimensions as that. Balor’s appearance in Malkuth has no relation to however it may appear in its Creation of origin. It may not even realize how it seems to us, as the Mad God’s own perceptions are warped by the translation of four dimensional phenomena into its own sensory elements. The goals and motivations of such an ultraterrestrial may be even more opaque and unintelligible.

Consider the archetypal alien abduction encounter. An abduction victim recalls a sterile location, often white or some other neutral color. Small beings perform any manner of tests on their victim. In the ultraterrestrial hypothesis, these beings are from another dimension, rather than another world, maybe one coterminus with Earth as we know it — following the notion that it’s easier to step sideways into another world than cross interstellar gulfs. With the Mad Gods as ultraterrestrials of an extreme extra-cosmic order, maybe all those little beings are different expressions or manifestations of a larger being. Its natural state might be distributed across multiple organisms — as in Peter Watts’ short story companion to The Thing, the aptly-titled “The Things” — or it might be the translation to this Creation’s physics that cause a fracturing effect. In the latter case, an interesting twist would be different portions of the Mad God’s being working at odds with each other. Maybe one even founds the group that works against the Mad God’s ineffable goals.

In the case of Balor and the Brotherhood of Argus, the brotherhood may trace its founding to an encounter with the “true” Argus Panoptes, the watchman with one hundred eyes, which traces its existence back to the moment when the Balor entity first intruded on Malkuth-space. A portion of its being sheared off as the probing limb entered four dimensions, taking the appearance of a hundred-eyed giant. Lost and confused with no frame of reference, Argus associated the entity behind the now-truncated probing limb with danger and pain. Then it somehow pulled itself together sufficiently to use the overweening awe of local witnesses to sow the seeds that became the Brotherhood of Argus.

[Via Stochasticity.]

[Green Mountain Game Days] Summer Game ‘n Grill 2011

Chuck (standing) checks in on the crew of the Burlington InSpectres franchise: Suri, Siobhan, Frank, Charlton, Joe and Andy (left to right).

Last Saturday at the Summer Game ‘n Grill, we got to play two, count ’em, two role-playing games. And I didn’t have a brain fart as embarrassing as at Lyndonville, so I’m counting the day as a complete win.

The early morning was spent setting up the grange — stocking the fridge and snack stand, shifting tables — and then waiting for a critical mass of role-players to arrive, namely the crew from central Vermont.

Once they rolled in, we got to business.
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Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum

Originally published in 1652, Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum was a monster of a book that collected alchemical works from the likes of John Dee, Edward Kelley and Elias Ashmole. Now it’s to be reprinted by Ouroboros Press in a corrected edition based off the original errata sheets.[1]

It looks to be full of neat content good for waving around as an alchemist’s handbook or wizard’s grimoire. As a “stout octavo” edition, I can only hope it’s as good for the party’s occult expert or resident potion-stirrer thwacking a nincompoop about the cranium as putting out small fires.

[1] Tying it to role-playing games in an unexpected way.

The Spirit Typewriter

Sunker Abaji Bisey's spirit typewriter.

Here’s an interesting gadget for ghost hunters: the spirit typewriter. As related by Phantoms and Monsters, the spirit typewriter is a variation on the Ouija board designed to remove the possibility of human interference.

A ring of blank typewriter keys is placed above the arm mechanisms. The ring can spin freely, so the user doesn’t know which key imprints which letter on a paper tape. In theory, whatever messages a person is compelled to type out on this machine should be more believable than anything received via a traditional spirit board, the output of which could be a result of the ideomotor effect.

This channeling device reminds me of a character I came up with a couple years back, the ghost writer. Jenny’s automatic writing talent — or affliction, depending on your perspective — assumes she writes in longhand, but the spirit typewriter could be an interesting prop for her. Perhaps a team of paranormal investigators insists she use it to prove her talent is genuine; it would probably flummox any aspiring author from a premechanical era. Or maybe it’s the only way her talent works; that would make more sense in a context where it’s a boon, rather than a duty or intrusion on her life. If Jenny made her living selling dead people’s work, needing the typewriter to do it and overcoming its loss or damage would work for her needing a favor from intrepid occult experts.

Searching for Lost America Delves into Stone Chambers

Phil Imbrogno, favored guest on almost all the paranormal podcasts I listen to, leads the way as a primary source in this video preview of a television series called Searching for Lost America. The seven minute clip encapsulates a lot of what’s been bandied about in the topic of New England’s stone chambers. It also brings up some details I hadn’t heard before, such as the similarity in construction techniques to Celtic structures in the BCE timeframe. That’s not proof, of course. It just means whoever built those particular chambers learned up a useful, time-honored technique somewhere.

I’ve heard Phil talk about the stone chambers of New York’s Hudson Valley before, sometimes in conjunction with UFO sightings and sometimes as sources of oddness on their own. He’s an excellent weaver and teller of stories, but I’m going to stick with Giovanna Neudorfer on this one, at least as far as the real world goes. On the role-playing side, this television series sounds like a great source for all kinds of crazy stuff to cram into a game about the lost history of North America. I’ll track the episode down, if only to flesh out my own ideas of fictional uses for the stone chambers.

I haven’t found any hard information on what channel or when this series airs, but when I do, I’ll pass it on.

Is EERIE Radio Going to Gen Con?

In episode 156 of my favorite paranormal podcast, EERIE Radio, the hosts mention the possibility of manning a table at Gen Con of all places. It makes sense. They’re based around Indianapolis and various members of the crew have made passing reference to role-playing games over the years. What’s more, so many people attend Gen Con that a good percentage of them are bound to share interest in paranormal topics.

Host and resident scientist Robfather mentioned one nose-curdling story from a trip he made to Gen Con Milwaukee some time back, in which card gamers were stationed in a skyway between hotels with no ventilation to speak of and hot dog vendors with bratwurst and sauerkraut stationed at either end. I think the implications of such an arrangement is obvious.

This isn’t the only instance paranormal interest and role-playing have crossed over, of course. Brad Younie has an Unexplained scenario in which the investigation team tracks down paranormal phenomena amidst the chaos of a gaming convention. Lake Morey Resort, with its numerous additions, slanting floors and wandering corridors, is a terrific venue in which to stage an investigation. Playing the adventure right there at Carnage gives the participants a powerful sense of the location they’re exploring — and how unnerving it might be to have to distinguish the eerie signs of paranormal activity from typical gaming lunacy of boffer swords and bellowed challenges.