October 20, 2010

An abstract but wonderful adventure

Filed under: Adventures — anteolsson @ 20:39
Tags: , , ,

The 5th of May I changed roles and took the perspective of a player instead of a game leader in my own system. It was my good friend Anders who had an idea and wanted to shape it into an adventure. Anyone who has seen The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus might see resemlance in the absurdities.

In any case, I hope someone else than us can enjoy reading it, which is why I now decide to publish it.

Read it here


  1. A truly strange story! During my reading of it, I got these same feelings as when I was reading “Sandman” or playing “Planescape: Torment”, a mixed bag of hopelessness and happiness.

    Comment by Jensan — October 31, 2010 @ 17:39 | Reply

    • Agreed! When I was playing it I didn’t get so much of it, I was more trying to figure out what was happening as you ususually do when playing a game. Then when I read it in its entirety I got similar feelings as you described.

      Is Sandman a book? I have a vague memory of you telling me about it…

      Comment by anteolsson — November 1, 2010 @ 15:34 | Reply

  2. Thank you. I will go to the comic book department and pick it up.

    Comment by anteolsson — November 1, 2010 @ 20:52 | Reply

  3. It was great fun playing it, and my first go at swinging the keys for the dungeon. I can see a lot of ways I could have done it differently, but it was great fun. And it let me give some kind of form to something that was pressing to get out 🙂

    Comment by Anders — November 19, 2010 @ 10:21 | Reply

    • Me too! Everything can be done different but the next time you just take this experience with you. I am glad you got it out by the way=)

      Comment by anteolsson — November 19, 2010 @ 13:55 | Reply

  4. But I was wondering, what do you think is going on in this story?

    Who is the old fella, who were you playing, who was the other one who hired the old guy? What, in general, was going on?

    Comment by Anders — November 26, 2010 @ 10:35 | Reply

    • I’m also curios about this! But rather from both sides.

      Comment by Jensan — November 26, 2010 @ 14:32 | Reply

  5. I will try to answer from memory. Not sure if it is accurate with what I thought while playing it, but anyway.

    I was playing a barbarian. I did not make him up entirely on my own, I instead looked at a Barbarian that you play in Heroes of Might and Magic 4. That was the image of him I had. He was a Barbarian that did not fit in with his tribe so he had left to do adventuring, or living his life, on his own. To see where it took him and to see the things he did not know of. With this in mind I thought that the character would not be everwhelmed or negative about any experiences he has, rather he would be open for anything and go with the flow where possible.

    I thought the old fella was a version of Tom Waits. I think it was unavoidable for me to see him as that as we had talked about him earlier and you used his lyrics in the adventure. Now, Tom Waits is fluid, I feel, and can take many shapes, very much like the diceman. So for me the old fella that tried to chop my head off with a pair of hedge scissors was really just a Dice man. I can’t tell if he was aware of it himself or if he was just naturally impulsive.

    But there was something else glooming over him. Something that reminds me of Memento Mori “Remember that you are mortal”. So he was at a point where his life/dream was not tangible and concrete and for that reason needed to test the reality.

    The other thing I need to get back about because my break is over=)

    Comment by anteolsson — November 26, 2010 @ 15:46 | Reply

  6. My idea to start out with was to literally start with the white, blank nothingness of the unwritten document, and then start adding: First a little structure and movement, then som otherness – the clicking, hunting monster above you, and then you started adding a little bit of a character, then we set him in motion towards something.

    I also had this idea of a place isolated from everywhere, a sort of limbo graveyard in a dimension between life and final death, where people fall from life into their graves. But then somehow this fellow of yours landed next to his grave, and the confused gravedigger would then try to correct his mistake with the big scissor (he started to believe that he dug the grave at the wrong coordinates, thus missing your body and ruining you transition to the realm of the dead).

    The gravedigger is both a man and a woman, the woman being his suppressed, hidden backside (the lips on his neck).

    The monster that fell from the sky would be some creature that was created or summoned to correct the mistake that had been made, and collect your barbarian.

    But then there is also the speaker, the voice telling the story. Who I made into a literal speaker, instead of an invisible voice. That was the voice that was commenting on the story and asking you questions. I was hoping to make it appear in a way that you werent sure if it was in your head, or echoing through the landscape… but still, clearly there. Maybe it could be interpreted as a sort of governing voice, the voice of the overseer of this limbo-land, the voice of someone outside the dimension you are living/dying in.

    Comment by Anders — November 30, 2010 @ 12:47 | Reply

  7. WOW! That is such a great idea you had there. I must admit, I did not get that. I understood, of course, that I missed the grave spot but I truely never reflected on that it was My grave and that I had already Died in a way. It makes perfect sense of course, now. I think what made it difficult for me to understand all the metaphors and Anthropomorphic elements, was that I did not know what “world” I was in. I guess I believed I was somewhere in the Seventh world and it was something that I had not thought of. So in a way I was blocked by my own imagination.

    I am impressed, I must say. To move further, I would like to expand this concept you are bringing to the table and implement it in the world of Seventh. Does that sound fair to you and is it Ok to work out concepts like this into principles? Without ruining the poetry of course.

    Comment by anteolsson — November 30, 2010 @ 13:38 | Reply

  8. Of course, you can do or think what ever you want with or about it. If it ruins the poetry we cannot know till we have tried, but nothing would stop us from just moving outside the new concepts if they limit us… so I only see upside to it.

    Comment by Anders — November 30, 2010 @ 13:44 | Reply

    • Good. Then this is what I have in mind:

      In seventh the places, realms, are defined by what dimensions that give rise to them. The first three, as explained elsewhere, are the physical. The fourth fifth and sixth are the psychic. The fourth is for Time, the fifth for the Mind (thoughts, dreams instincts intuitions and so on). Does the place this adventure take place in fit into any of these dimensions? If it is in the dimension of the Mind, do you then continue to live in the Mind after your death? Is it only your conscious mind that remain? Or are your feelings and subconscious also remaining after death?

      Also according to the life cycle in seventh everything begins and ends as an IDEA. Which would mean that after you “Die” you go back to being an Idea. This, I think, fits into being dead means that you can still remain in the Mind-realm. Or should ideas themselves be located elsewhere?

      Thirdly, there are also opposite dimensions of all dimensions. This could mean that while you are alive in all dimensions from 1 to 7 you are at the same time represented as dead in the opposite dimensions, ie dimensions from -1 to -7. Another idea, then is that when you die your consciousness shifts to the opposite realms. And in the opposite realms everything is weird, it is up side down. What about this compared to the other suggestions?

      Also, the personifications of death and dying that you wrote about. Can they exist or do they just psuedo-exist. Do they exist as physical or psychic menafestation? If so, where do they have their lair? You are free to invent parallell dimensions, planes and spheres which are disconnected from the ones explained above.

      Comment by anteolsson — November 30, 2010 @ 17:59 | Reply

  9. Now I remember there was one more element that I did explain: This splintering of the perspective that happens to the barbarian a couple of times. I was playing with this idea, of death meaning just that. That you somehow loose you centre and cohesion, instead of just disappearing (I mean, what is the fun in that).

    Comment by Anders — November 30, 2010 @ 13:48 | Reply

  10. didn’t explain…

    Comment by Anders — November 30, 2010 @ 13:49 | Reply

    • What you are writing suggests that you as a Human (perhaps other life forms as well) would shift consciousness to the Opposite Realms, where you experience being Dead instead of Alive. However that is like I guess is what the adventures are for.

      Would you care to elaborate on what you thought and how you implemented this in the adventure? I am not sure that I understood that part in the adventure

      Comment by anteolsson — November 30, 2010 @ 18:03 | Reply

  11. I think I am not as systematic as you in my way of thinking, so maybe it is up to you to place this whole thing. But I can explain a bit better what I was imagining. Here are some examples, of the adventurer, the you, seeing himself from outside. I imagine dying being like this. It is like you loose the centre, the cohesion of being some”one”.

    So being alive is, I guess, a matter of having one, unique, unified perspective. And as the barbarian, the you, was on the brink of death, his perspective was flickering, and at times he would suddenly see himself from thousands of perspectives at once… loosing his oneness:

    “…and suddenly catch a glimpse of yourself, clearly standing out against the storm.”

    “Like a flickering hit to your head you loose focus and sight of the mountains, instead the naked fury body appears to be hammering down from the white sky towards you. And you for a moment see it from a thousand angles.

    It all blacks out again, and again you are falling.”

    “Flickering and scratches appear in you visual field. And again the perspective seems to change to an insect-like thousands. From thousands of angles you see…”

    The poem inscribed on the tombstone also deals with perspective and placement of the “I”:

    “In my dark intervals
    When in me no one is there”

    – So “dark” moods are experienced as if the container is empty, and all its limitations seem to be locking the person in:

    “And all is mists and walls
    That life offers anywhere,”

    Then the personality seems to grasp at its unified perspective to overcome this dark mood, by raising from deep inside the “container”, and finding itself in the position and perspective, in the distance and difference from the sunset.

    “If, quickly raising my eyes
    From where in me I lie low,
    I see the far horizon
    With sunset and sunrise flowing”

    All this should disappear at death. Instead this unified perspective splinters:

    “As the old man keeps mumbling, the insect of eternal bestiality flips the two of you into the air and spins around. You both land with a wet an”

    This is what enables you to experience the end of you story, while being dead. That you are still somehow around, just no longer as a conscious, unified subject. It is like you have been kicked out of the container and spread to the winds…

    That was how I envisioned it at least.

    Comment by Anders — November 30, 2010 @ 20:04 | Reply

    • You make it so clear for me=).

      It seems to me that you have envisioned Death very much like I have envisioned it within Seventh. However, I cannot go any further into that without spoiling too much of the adventures.

      I undertand now what you meant with the insect eyes. When I was playing I tried to understand it but didn’t connect all the parts.

      I like it that really was dead from the beginning of the adventure. That the man didn’t do his job well enough so that I missed my grave led to a very interesting situation. What happens when we die but don’t really die? Do we have time to reflect? Do we have time to regret?

      It is also quite interesting to look back at the behaviour of the barbarian who on one hand wanted to tag along and see what happened, almost like he had accepted his death, but then when he faced death in the form of the giant insect monster, he still faught for his life? Did he fight because it was the only thing to do or was he still then, when he knew he was already dead, afraid of dying?

      I have not asked you, how you thought my playing was? Did my actions have any impact on the story itself? Did you face situations that you didn’t think of and if so, did it inspire you or irritate you in any way?

      Comment by anteolsson — November 30, 2010 @ 20:39 | Reply

  12. You didn’t really play like I had expected. I thought you would resist your faith, that you would try to fight, flee or question more. I thought you would have payed your coinage of the dead (I gave you a chance to recollect your life, thinking that somehow this metaphor too could be given shape, that these recollections could somehow pass into the next level of (non)existence/death.

    But in a way, it gave me a lot of room to just tell a very un-roleplaying-like story, one where the hero just gets thrown around and ultimately crushed like an in-significant insect on the windshield of the world.

    It is a lot easier to write and imagine, when doing it with/for someone, and I enjoyd playing very much.

    But I am still wondering a little about how to tell a story like this… I don’t know how to communicate it better, without chopping it up in cold analysis. Do you have any ideas?

    Comment by Anders — November 30, 2010 @ 21:06 | Reply

    • Exactly what I thought when I re-read it. I thought my answers were good, but the biggest reason for that was because I didn’t get it all while playing.

      It is difficult for me to answer how it can be done better. I don’t believe in that things that are already done can be done better. We will never know how it would have turned out if it would have been different. When it comes to the skill of writing and dramaturgy and narrative and all other rules in story writing, I fall short.

      I think one important thing to think about though, is that it is very few people who have read it. I for one believe that many more would have understood much more than what I did, and so it does not have to do so much with how you did it as much as it have to do with how much I understood. And all things cannot be understood at first glance and this subject is such a subject and the fact that humans have created art around it for thousand of years should kind of point out that there is no correct way to do it.

      The only thing I can suggest is that you should do it how you feel like doing it and leave it up to the reader to pursue an understanding of it. We all understand in different ways and there is no way around that. But there are probably others in the world who would be able to give ideas on how to tell it more “understandably”.

      Comment by anteolsson — November 30, 2010 @ 23:43 | Reply

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