Make the game your own. Fuck parts of it up!


Dave Matthews Band – When the World Ends [Lyrics]

HH by dasTOK
“HH” by dasTOK

///An over-waist white tank-top worn over green, woolen leggings decorated with a pattern which looks suspiciously christmas like, in August. Short, almost cropped, blonde hair. Rimless glasses.///

Before we start, let me quote a short passage from the core rulebook of Dark Heresy 2nd Edition. Might be a weird choice, but bear with me here.

The single largest division of the Adeptus Terra present on Juno is the Adeptus Administratum, its headquarters located at the mighty Regis Chancellery near the centre of Vesuna Regis. This and numerous subsidiary locations house many millions of scribes, factors, and overseers, many of whom live out their lifetimes within a few metres of their ink-stained desks. Lord High Comptroller-General Avak Numinor leads the mission, and is responsible for cataloguing the sector’s resources so that proper tithe levels can be maintained for each world.

I’ll make it quick and painless: During the first sessions of play, blow that fucker up. The consequences for the sector will be immense, and it will create panic everywhere. But it will also create opportunities for your PCs.

So, how is this relevant to you, humble Urban, modern day, fantasy/horror GM?

Another quick and painless statement: Fuck something up, blow something up, muck something up in the world your game is set in, from the get go. Shake the whole world up to start with.

Why, though?
Well, many Urban Fantasy games have something along the lines of Vampire: The Masquerade’s… Masquerade.

Something that makes all the supernatural persons and beasties keep out of the eye of the mundane public. And, for 99% of gamepelay, this is utterly fine. Good, even. It gives a fig-leaf rationale for the whole “Why is the world like our real world even with all this supernatural stuff?” question.

But it also constrains many groups to keep their play at a lower level than might perhaps be preferred by the group. Don’t get me wrong, low-key games are great games. But being continuously punished and/or reprimanded for using the in-game powers of your characters can get annoying really damn quickly.

And sometimes, even GMs get into the “don’t rock the boat” mindset and can push the game towards a more mundane feel than they perhaps realize, through in and out of game, subtle and overt punitive actions against supernatural activities initiated by the PCs.

So, to break out of this, just wreck part of the setting. Perhaps don’t start with something connected to the central to the game’s premise, but chose something visible. Something with consequences and ramifications. The Dark Heresy example I posted is exactly this: It won’t end the setting, it won’t destroy the game’s premise (If you ask me, it will even enhance it.). But it’s something that’s visible. Something that your players will notice.

Here’s a warning, though. This WILL make the setting fully your own. Chances are, that you won’t be able to use further officially published setting material without some sort of re-tooling. But it will help you to get into the mindset of using the game as it was intended to be used: By you, for your group.

Let’s look at a specific example:
So, you’re running a game of Mage. You’ve talked about the premise and the scope of the game with your players, you’ve created characters and you know what will be important to them, later on. You cross all those things off the list of “stuff to blow up” and then look for something that will still resonate with your chronicle. Your game shall be one of dimensional travel and exploration of umbral realms. Mh. How about a large-scale, weird-effect explosion of the LHC? Let’s say that it was a Technocracy pet-project and that it went wrong with some sort of Paradox backlash. And the Paradox Spirit responsible was pissed off enough at the people doing it, that it decided to really piss in their cereal and let apparitions appear around it for a few weeks.

So now you have a major news report for the mundane population, something that is tearing down the veil which the Technocrats will have to work hard to fix, and something that has a good chance to come up in one of your sessions, from either side of the umbra. You just fucked with the setting. You shook up the status quo. And now your players come into it. And if you’re a good ST, they know that they too can, and are encouraged to!, change the setting if they can live with any consequences connected to it. And you yourself have a few less inhibitions to actually create world-affecting consequences. Because a setting should not be static. Your PCs should be able to change, affect, save, destroy or simply twist the world they live in. For new games, you will then be able to either start a new game in a yet un-fucked version of the setting, or start a new game in what has basically become a whole new setting for you all to play in. :)

Make the setting your own. Fuck parts of it up!

That thing about the weather.


VNV Nation – Colours of Rain

Stay with Me by MissMorgue
“Stay with Me” by MissMorgue

///A Flowing, khaki-coloured skirt over tight-fit, desert-coloured cargo-pants. A black jeans jacket over a light-blue T-shirt. Long, black hair.///

Weather in any RPG is something that often gets overlooked. Sure, there are some old-school games which track adverse weather conditions to make the lives of the PCs that one bit more complicated. But weather can be so much more. Should be so much more.

There are many literally clichés that have to do with weather. It was a dark and stormy night…, indeed. But many of those were started for a reason. Certain weather conditions are evocative by themselves, without much auxiliary writer input. And especially these days, they can bring home certain emotional and intellectual responses that many other descriptions simply cannot do any more. How many people these days have never been in a truly deep, dark, fucking CREEPY forest? How many have not spent time outdoors, wide away from the nearest city’s lights? How many don’t know how downright satisfying a gulp of fresh, river water can be after more than a day of thirst? Sure, one can imagine those things. But they are… Abstract thoughts to many people.

But ask any deep-rooter city dweller about the last time they were in a really strong storm. The last time snow and/or ice shut down their part of the city. That one time the summer was so hot that the streets looked like in those post-apocalypse movies. Weather, these days, can bring some folks nearer to certain mind-states than one might imagine.

A great percentage of us will be able to imagine sitting alone at home at some point in our lives, looking outside a window when wind and rain made a wild spectacle outside. Just shutting out the lights, opening the window and… Look out. Experience it. Perhaps even, in that one moment, decide to get dressed and go out into the rain for a few moments.

And, similarly, even the most jaded “adults” will have a spot in their heart for those summer days when all is almost perfectly, peacefully, still. When you have some crickets or cicadas or [insert annoyingly loud local bug here] chirping in the distance, when the wind is so still that no leaves are moving, when the sun is so harsh that the shadows look like bold dividing lines between the dark and the light, the cool and the hot.

Or those days during the winter, when you step outside and hear that satisfying, solid “CRUNCH” of snow underfoot. And while it may be annoying to drive through, and while it may play hell with your company’s logistics, and while it might make shopping and other necessities harder… There’s still that one moment of a smile playing around your features.

At the same time, weather births smells. And smells bring memories. The smell of rain evaporating on hot concrete. The smell of crisp, cold, biting winter air. The smell of wet grass. The smell of certain perfumes at certain times in the year.

Then there’s also how some weather types are so contextual. When many people think of funerals, for example, they think of overcast, drizzly days. When people think of parties, they think of those not-to-hot-yet-sunny summer days. When people think of a vacation at the sea, they think of windy, clear-skied days. And so on.


While running an Urban Fantasy game, you can (and should!) play with all of those things. With the expectations, the memories and the emotional responses. They’re all connected and thus they can all be used to subtly manipulate your players. To immerse them a bit more into the story.

The same way that music can be used to create leading themes for specific actions and characters and situations (Bill Bailey’s “Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra” is a really good and damn funny way to learn about this, at the very basic introductory level.), so can weather.

Do go ahead. Set sad scenes to overcast, drizzling days. Let the characters triumph during a moment when the sun is high in the sky. Accentuate the monstrosity that is hunting innocents in the city by showing how easy it is to isolate people during a (snow?)storm even in a major urban centre.

At the same time, use contrast to accentuate scenes even more. Make it a peaceful, bright, sunny, summer’s day when a major tragedy happens/hits. Let the characters save the day during a shitty, gray, downtrodden day.

Use the weather like you would use music. Use it to accentuate, to contrast, to compliment and to disjoint.

When you accentuate and compliment, you can use the player’s own experiences with those types of weather help you build the mood. Describe the rain, describe all the reflections, the wetness, the smells, the rushing people, the sound of raindrops against windows and streets and walls. Describe the rustling of the leaves and the clasp of thunder in the distance. Let your players drink this in. They will feel themselves into that moment, and they will work with you from there.

When you contrast and disjoint… You do the same. But you do this to lull them into a false sense of security or fear. You won’t be able to do this often, so use it like you’d use a very fine, expensive, spice. But WHEN you use it, make sure to use it to its full effect. When the scene is being set, describe how the weather is like. Describe the details, the incidentals. Describe people reacting to it. And when your players are going with it, when they’re attuned to their own expectations, the full impact of the planned scene will hit that much harder.


The next time you are planning an impactful scene… Just think about the weather. Talk about the weather, even.
Let it help you. Use it to your, and your group’s, advantage. It’s a really quick and easy way of adding more immersion to your game.


Just a small bonus, this time.
This song is one of my all-time, most favourite songs, to this day.
And it’s a song I so deeply associate with autumn, that I can get a slight shiver of cold when I listen to it on a 32°C day in mid-July.
Listen to it. And “listen” to your thoughts and memories. What kind of weather do you associate with it?

VNV Nation – Beloved [Lyrics]

Familiartiy breeds… Many things.


Covenant – Atlas [Lyrics]

Vermillion 3 by BaalKaos
“Vermillion 3” by BaalKaos

///Feyishly thin and with straight, hard features. Wearing almost form-fitting clothes. Wearing them with class and with style, they add to her striking looks most advantageously. Making her look most captivating.///


The characters enter a room. Someone is sitting at the table, looking up at them. Smiling. STOP SCENE. FOCUS. ZOOM. RESUME SCENE.

The first thing that hits you is the smell. Strong tea. Sweet. Spicy. Mingled with the smell of “old”. Just a slight hint of mold.
You turn your heads to get a better look. The walls are cracked. Oh so slightly cracked. The wallpaper is starting to fall. Behind it, you catch a glimpse of a curious pattern.
The person at the table coughs politely. You look at them. They smile at you and take a sip of their tea. Their eyes close and they ingest the smell, savouring it. It’s now that you realize that you can’t really tell if that person is male or female. If they’re old or young. They’re just… A person. They sit at the table, sipping tea, smiling. They must be a person.

They cough politely. A raspy sound. But not unpleasant. As if someone was scratching… That itch you can’t quite reach inside your ear.

The smell of exotic spices grows stronger. Something is not right. Something does not make sense here. Your eyes dart toward something moving at the edge of your vision. The wallpaper. Now freely falling of the wall, now gives a clear view at that pattern you noticed earlier. It’s the stars. You’re looking at the stars. Unfiltered by atmosphere. Not weakened by light-pollution. You’re looking at the stars.

There is no room. There are no walls. No windows. No table. No… Person.

Another polite cough.

An ancient being looks back at you. Still clasping a mug of tea.

A voice, impossibly loud, yet not hurting you, chuckles a single question: “Where do you think you really are?”


##############

To make something seem really alien, it’s best to let it start out as mundanely as possible.
It also doesn’t hurt to retain some mundane icon, even when the weirdness has fully set in.

Entering a spirit’s sanctum and finding yourself in space is one thing.
Seeing that same spirit drinking tea while it chuckles at you in a friendly way? Not only did you just give that spirit something of an implied backstory, you also made it a very memorable scene because it wasn’t just simply “weird”. It actively provided the divider between “Weird” and “Mundane” for your players to grasp on.

Don’t make it the murder-addicted redcap. Make her the murder-addicted redcap who always listens to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” album, on a Mini-Disc player.
Don’t make it the hulking, ponderous grove-guardian. Make it the hulking, ponderous grove-guardian that likes to hum a particular set of notes which, when researched, turn out to be a very old drinking song from Imperial France.
Don’t make it the sensuous Vampire. Make him the sensuous Vampire who’s utterly brand-conscious and obsessed with twitter, make him follow some truly mundane, boring people.

You don’t have to have an immediate reason as to WHY. And you will be able to gloss over many of those as simple quirks. But sometimes you might just surprise yourself with a really great idea that connects with your game. And sometimes, more often than you’d think, your players will latch on to that and give you a few theories. Many of which will be golden.

Yes. Yes, this is partly one of the older GM tricks in the world.

But its other part is something that really helps to give Urban Fantasy games that particular “Our world, but… Off.” feeling that makes them really shine.

Neil Gaiman is a master of this. The Serial Killer convention? The old Slavic god who loves to play chess? The two Angelic&Demonic spies who love to feed ducks/drive vintage cars? Hell… Death? (Death! Not DEATH. Although, well, DEATH also qualifies.)

Making something supernatural being 100% “out there” has its uses, yes, of course. But when you mix something mundane and normal with the supernatural, you give it more texture. And you can reinforce your world’s/game’s themes with it. Amusingly enough, I still find Shadowrun to have the best example of this with Dunkelzahn. He was an ancient, great Dragon… Who hosted his own talk show (Wyrm Talk) and ran for the UCAS presidency. Those two things really helped drive home that, yes, he was a Dragon. But no, it was not just a Fantasy Setting Dragon in the future. Dunkelzahn was a MODERN dragon in the future. He interacted with it. He influenced the world around him, but was also influenced himself.

The next time you create or just describe a mystical/supernatural NPC, keep in mind to give it a truly mundane feature/tic/quirk/hobby. Something your players will have a chance to witness. Show them that the NPC isn’t just there because they meet it. It’s there because it exists in the world.

Sense of Loss. Sense of Dislocation.


Massive Attack – Dissolved Girl [Lyrics]


“City Lights” by Susan Coffey

///A tattoo made out of geometric forms and symbols, Triangles. Squares. Connected by Lines., drawn in light-red on sun-bathed skin, decorating the whole of the arm from shoulder to elbow, looking almost like scars, almost but not quite.///

There are times when the city the characters inhabit should be a strange, mystifying, haunting place. Not immediately dangerous, not scary, but… Strange.

They might have lived there their whole life, but one night they will find themselves in an area that’s alien to them. They are looking for someone. Or chasing someone. Or fleeing from someone. And they turn around a corner, and then another one. Or maybe they step out at a bus-stop they never used before. And they look around and… They feel that they don’t quite belong.

A sense of disorientation within the familiar should emerge. They know that they’re in the right place, yet… Still. Something isn’t quite right.

The buildings seem slightly off. The streets are strangely empty and the few pedestrians who still walk them avoid eye-contact, keeping to themselves. There is something about this district that lets the PCs question some established preconceptions.

  • Perhaps a long-ago shut-down school, with heavy chains on its gates, that still draws them towards it.
  • Perhaps a regional or national organization they haven’t dealt with as of yet has an office here, currently closed to the time, but with some windows still curiously lit.
  • Perhaps a cemetery looks slightly older and weirder than the ones they have driven past in the last few years.
  • Perhaps a store stands out, selling some obscure/arcane/occult/foreign pieces they would have never expected to find in a local shop.
  • Perhaps a building that looks strongly out of place, but they can’t quite put a finger on WHY.
  • Perhaps a historical location or building with connections to an important event in the regions past that they never heard before.


  • The City (and I will try to talk about the city as a quasi-NPC later…) should be large enough to hide something weird. Something strange. Or just something quirky. Something to be built up into a sub-plot later down the line, to spark the players creativity and curiosity.

    ///
    This is influenced by something that happened to me almost 15 years ago. I was pretty tired after a night out, and kind of slept through my bus-stop. When some kind passenger finally woke me, as they couldn’t remember me ever taking that bus so far, I half-panicked asked the driver where I could get out to catch the next best bus back. I got out at the station he indicated, but had to wait for 30 minutes for the next bus back, as it was after midnight on a work-day.

    And I wandered around a bit. It was autumn, and while not particularly cold, I preferred to move around. When I turned a corner, I didn’t believe my eyes: A WW2 bunker. Almost squarely inside city limits. Not 3km away from my home, not 2km away from my school. Standing there. Rotting away, stacked with “danger” signs. I explored a bit and nearly had a heart attack when a cop tapped me on the shoulder a few minutes in. I was listening to my walkman and hadn’t heard him approach. They were looking for someone and harshly reprimanded me to at least not go exploring a dangerous structure at night.

    The next day, I wanted to go there again, but couldn’t find it. Because I was so tired and panicked the night before, I misremembered the stop I got out at, and the area looked utterly different during the day. A few days later I asked my history teacher, and he gave me the address. Still, for a few days I actually had one of those “Did that really happen…?” thoughts going through my head.
    ///

    ##########################


    Godsmack – Serenity [Lyrics]


    “***” by invisigoth88

    ///Twins in matching black tops and burgundy skirts. Beautiful. Striking. Their hairstyle the only difference, yet it is enough to set them apart. Their smiles, when focused, melt the coldest heart.///

    It’s all too easy to concentrate on the weird creatures, insidious antagonists and otherworldly affairs. But it’s crucial to remember the personal side of it all. Even with a cosmic war being fought between two power-blocks inside the shadows of the world, there should be those moments where this all takes a harsh back-seat and the PCs innermost thoughts come to the fore-front. It doesn’t even have to be something as drastic as a Quiet in Mage.

    While modern RPG wisdom seems to strongly favor “skipping to the meaty bits”, I always like to give something that’s basically “downtime” its own place and focus. It helps to build the mood you and your group are going for.

    Troupe Style really shines here. Look at the PCs you are working with. Think of a personal, intimate moment for each of them. Then scribble down some NPCs for each of those moments and assigns behaviour, mood and goals to each of them. As succinctly as possible. Then build towards one of those moments as naturally as possible. (Alternatively, you could just reserve a session for a “A day in the life of…” session)

    Then give each of the non-focused players one of those NPCs to play and… Yeah. Play it out. Try to not to create rules-using moments and/or fudge the rules for a seamless experience. Don’t force anything. Let the situation develop. Don’t shy away from incorporating plot-hooks, -seeds, -advancements or -resolutions into those moments, either, if they fit the bill!

  • Perhaps one of them will be snowed in a diner during a heavy storm, and share a moment of interpersonal connection with total strangers. (Think Frasier)
  • Perhaps they spend an evening at their favourite coffee place and talk about books, coffee and music with some other regulars, baring some of their fears and anxieties in the process. (Think Friends. … And, well, also Frasier.)
  • Perhaps they’re having a fun night out and get to dance and drink and flirt and get some stress-relief that way. Meeting interesting people and interacting with others who want to dance away /something/.

  • Whatever fears or problems a character is experiencing, try to focus on them in a slow, dedicated session. For each player. The more comfortable the players are with each other, the looser the scenes can be and the deeper into characterization this can go. But you’ll be surprised how much you can learn about a characters motivations and goals even from “game-night buddies only” gamers if you give it a strict enough framework for them to fall back to.

    For me, games like Mage and Vampire (and even Shadowrun, to be honest…) always shined when the PCs got enough chances to interact with more than just the setting’s premise. Just think about it: Sometimes you sit at a Starbucks, scribbling some notes into your laptop or notebook, drinking some coffee, listening to the store’s or your own music and watching strangers, perhaps flirting, perhaps even striking a conversation. And those moments are often very… Personal. Very intimate. And they often help you to deal with some thoughts. Or just help to relax and focus and regain strength and purpose. Let the PCs experience those moments too, don’t just gloss over them. Don’t brush them away to get on with the action.

    ///
    The inspiration for this come, entwined, from two sources. A theoretical and a practical one. The theoretical one was that one Babylon 5 Episode where a space battle was being fought outside the station, but the episode focused on smaller stories inside the station. Just characters interacting with each other. … It was one of the more emotionally powerful episodes.
    And it led me to once do something similar during a Rogue Trader game three or four years ago. During a warp-storm, the PCs were each confined to their areas of the ship. And so I focused on each of them in turn, letting the other player’s be the “local” NPCs. The Rogue Trader had his ship-crew, the Enginseer had his engine-deck crew, the Navigator her entourage, the Void Master had the ship’s Armsmen with her. The session lasted about six hours, and we had more than one hour per PCs. And in this hour, they actually developed and advanced relationships with their underlings which lasted until the campaign’s end. It made the rest of the campaign so much better, as many NPCs evolved from “background figure” status to actors with their own emotional weight for the PCs. It really helped with immersion and involvement.

    If it can work in a 40k RPG, it will work in the Urban Fantasy/Horror game you’re running. ;)
    ///

    Matt’s bag of Urban Fantasy/Horror Inspirations, Ideas and Ideals.

    tl;dr: This thread will be filled with music, pictures and text snippets which mean to help people run games in the wider Urban Fantasy genre (which for me right now is oWoD, nWoD and Dresden Files when it comes to games owned and actively played) as well as/or at least giving already seasoned GMs some more food for thought.

    Right, let’s expand this short explanation.
    Because I’m preparing for a M20 chronicle in the, hopefully not too far off, future with players whom I consider worlds more familiar and mature than I ever was with any players when Mage was actually a new and current game, I’ve started preparing for it. One part are the, slowly growing, playlists I keep on Spotify and my own harddrive. (It’s sad how much of music which I’d love to have available fully online still aren’t cleared by their labels. And it’s doubtful they ever will be, too. *sighs*)

    Another part is a very slowly growing archive of pictures. Photographs I’ve taken myself, taken by friends as well as stuff that I find online. Most of it I will be able to attribute and credit properly. For some, even reverese GIS failed me.

    Yet another part are text snippets. During the last few weeks I found enough free time to visit several cities near me, sit down somewhere in their busiest parts and, well, take “textual caricatures” of people who struck me as impressive and memorable in some way. With a clear focus on “What a cool NPC I could craft out of them!”. I will continue doing so for the foreseeable future, and do so at various points in time (Morning, afternoons and nights) to get a really good, broad selection.

    And the final part is having general thoughts about the themes, moods and ideas I want to explore in that game. And as those often grow very broad, they sparked the idea of recording them in their full, broad state instead of just distilling them down for later use.

    Also, writing this stuff out in the open often helps me get some more focus. Feedback/Reflection by others often helps too, so if something strikes you, please comment on it.

    To bring some underlying biases and foundations to the forefront:
    Musically, I listen to a broad array of stuff. From avant-garde Jazz to Extreme Metal. But my most intimate focus is on various styles of “goth” music. Dead Can Dance, Depeche Mode, VNV Nation, Crüxshadows, Grauzone, New Order, Joy Division, Nitzer Ebb, Deine Lakaien, Sister of Mercy, Front 242.

    As you can see, it’s very much 80s/90s focused. And I admit, at times I’m stuck in those times. Which doesn’t mean that I’m already calcified. Far from it, thank the old gods. So expect more modern artists, too. But those acts were, and still are, formative to the moods and images and ideas and themes and scenes of the game I’m thinking about running.

    I was listening to “Winter Fish Testosterone” by Deine Lakaien on my trusty Walkman when walking, at night, across half the city which was covered in snow, to get to a Mage game, carrying nothing but the Mage 2nd Ed core book, a notebook, some pencils, d10s and a TPB issue of Sandman in my messenger back, dressed in black boots, black jeans, black shirt, black leather jacket, smelling of patchouli and grinning widely into the lamplight reflected by the snow because I’d get to see some cool people, two crushes and one best friend very soon, and we’d begin a Mage game set to last for three days. / I also had my very first, extremely intense, relationship pretty much underscored by going dancing twice a months to clubs playing New Order, Joy Division, The Cure, Nitzer Ebb, Goethe’s Erben and others, for over three years. … Such experiences really help forming you.

    And living in Germany, I can (and do!) still get to see all those bands live regularly, still visits clubs where they are played on heavy rotation, and can still dress in all-black, smelling faintly of patchouli while also being a responsible adult. So they stuck with me. Hard.

    If I ever start sounding like an authoritative asshole because of… Please disregard. That will be just my underlying experiences colouring my writing when I lose myself in it a bit too much.

    As this is a pretty “spur of the moment” decision, the first post I will make today will be on the shorter side. The next few will probably also remain slightly “thin”. But they should gain more “meat” with time, when I get more comfortable actually taking comprehensive notes for a change, instead of just relying on my brain. (Heh. Early 30s and it’s already starting to get problematic. )

    Nevertheless… I have no idea how much this will interest and/or help others. I hope that at least some people will get some use out of it.

    And if you like the music here, and do use spotify, consider subscribing to those playlists. They should start growing more and more the coming weeks.

    (I’m aware that most people here will probably now 90% of the music that I’m about to post. But still, even if you know the song, it might be nice to listen to it with a different frame of mind, which I’m hoping to achieve here, through the incidental media.)

    (Also: I, mostly, suggest to look at the picture and listening to the music at the same time, as I often chose them to compliment each other. If they’re independent, I’ll (hopefully!) remember to state so.)

    Some doom and glom can be allright. In the right doses. And the right style.

    And Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio have that style. In swathes.

    Today, I want to push you to listen to their release “Songs 4 Hate & Devotion (For All Of You, Who Mean Nothing To Me)”. I know, it’s hard to get. But it’s worth the hunt.

    They play Apocalyptic Folk, a very moody blend of NeoFolk, slightly experimental Electronica and sexually as well as politically/socio-culturally filled lyrical themes. (“In Heaven, Only Abstinence Remains”, “Long Knives and Little Men”, “If Christ Is The Answer Then What Is The Question?”)

    They weave wonderfully dark and deep tapestries of sound and thought. And in this album it’s… As if Death In June took “Of Runes and Men” and “Rose Clouds of Holocaust” and made an antire album following the footsteps of those two songs.

    This is modern, modern-sounding!, music for candlelight, wine, whiskey, intimate erotic moments and gazing at the stars.

    This is music you can think to. Think with. Think about. It can make you open your mind and examine those thoughts you don’t want to think about for too long most of the time. But sometimes, sometimes it can be cathartic to let thoughts of apocalypse and dystopia wash over you. Like the Bene Gesserit litany against fear says. Sometimes you need to let fear wash over you, to defeat it and crown yourself as the emperor of you own being again.

    “A World Not So Beautiful [a Song 4 the Emperor]” (A hauntingly beautiful song, and so frighteningly… Frightening right now.)

    London is burning, ignited with love
    Misunderstandings, descend from above
    Paris has fallen; the flag has been raised
    A nation in ruins, once pompous and great
    Brothers are fighting, in pleasure and pain
    There is no refuge, in the ladies of Spain
    Brussels is drowning; the flood has commenced
    The secrets of Europe, are waking again
    Berlin is falling; it has been besieged
    Europe is burning, for you and for me
    Rome is collapsing, just like before
    This is the future, it’s Europe at war

    Let me take your little hand, let me make you understand
    That the world is not as beautiful and free, like you believe

    Belgrade is bleeding; the past was retrieved
    Prague under siege, in tears we concede
    The uproars in Munich, in crystals they march
    Amsterdam trembles; there’s no light in the dark
    Brothers are fighting, in pleasure and pain
    There is no refuge, in the ladies of Spain
    Vienna has perished, consumed by its past
    Zurich is ruined; the gold did not last
    Berlin is falling; it has been besieged
    Europe is burning, for you and for me
    Rome is collapsing, just like before
    This is the future, it’s Europe at war

    This is also music to which you can shut off your conscious thoughts and simply let the mood and texture and beat lead you towards those slightly obfuscated areas in your mind. Those thoughts that push you towards your darker urges and desires. And with the right person, this album can take you both there. Enjoying yourself all the way towards the end. Sharply smiling, heading towards mutual satisfaction outside of common norms.

    “Lucifer in Love” (Dark, twisted, yet honest love and romance.)

    My body is cleansed with flowers and wine
    Bodies of passion in linen entwined
    Your body undressed and stockings reveal
    You’re naked and longing and yearning to feel
    Venus is rising to salvage the earth
    A flower ascending in blossom through dirt
    In blood and perfection this world shall be cleansed
    So lust and cumpassion may flourish again
    The angels are feasting on blood of the meek
    In blossom with treason I play with the weak
    Fading roses cover me
    And semen makes my spirit free

    “The sacrifice was made in the name of me
    The sacrifice was made in the name of you
    You call me by my middle name
    I’m Lucifer in love, in love with you”

    The words you have heard and the things you have seen
    Shall vanquish the morals you’ve tried to defeat
    When time has demised and mankind has burned
    Then madness shall rise and love shall return
    The nectars I drink from the cleft to your soul
    Shall nourish the yearnings and murder control
    I see how you ache from the crown that you wear
    I cut out your heart just to see if you care
    Your lips shall devour the flesh underneath
    My sperm in your mouth is the proof that I need
    Fading roses cover me
    And semen makes my spirit free

    If you can, get this album.
    It’s really worth the hunt.

    This was money exquisitely well spent for me.

    And, yes. You can’t just listen to those songs without a critical eye. They’re not meant for that. At least not the first time.

    Let’s talk about Trains.

    This is because of three separate events.
    Number one being me having once seen one of the first two AMV Hell mega-videos.
    Number two being me re-discovering the Serial Experiment Lain soundtrack a few days ago.
    Number three being me experiencing another train being late because of some jacked up asshole jumping on the tracks.

    Honestly, I don’t care how shitty your life is, there are methods of killing yourself that don’t inconvenience others and are equally painless, if not even more so. By jumping in front of a train you not only emotionally damage the innocent train-pilot, you also damage equipment and disrupt routes that are important for quite a large number of people. People who perhaps miss out on important dates, work or their own emotional and psychological support. Who knows how many more persons you make feel worse with that? … It’s fucking rude is what it is. So, if you ever plan on killing yourself, do this away from other people. Don’t drag your family, friends or any innocents into this for fuck’s sake.

    Having said that… Yeah.
    Music time.

    Serial Experiments Lain.
    Exquisite anime, exquisite soundtrack.

    And from this, you today get the title track. (Not the series’ opening, but the title track of the soundtrack.)

    Nakaido “Chabo” Reichi – Lain’s Theme [Serial Experiments Lain OST] | 1998 | Rock

    If you can, go and watch the series itself.
    It’s quite honestly very, very good.
    And dark. And wonderfully twisted.

    Here’s the blurb without too many spoilers.

    “Serial Experiments Lain describes “the Wired” as the sum of human communication networks, created with the telegraph and telephone services, and expanded with the Internet and subsequent networks. The anime assumes that the Wired could be linked to a system that enables unconscious communication between people and machines without physical interface. The storyline introduces such a system with the Schumann resonance, a property of the Earth’s magnetic field that theoretically allows for unhindered long distance communications. If such a link was created, the network would become equivalent to Reality as the general consensus of all perceptions and knowledge. The thin line between what is real and what is possible would then begin to blur.” – Wikipedia

    It’s a good watch to get into the right mood for any kind of activity which requires to bend your perception of “what is…”.
    For me, that’s mostly playing Mage:the Ascension. For which Lain is a very great Anime. Not for the whole game, but for certain parts which you then could make a core part of your game.

    Let’s think a bit about Brandon Lee.

    And yes, that ties in with my “Music to Listen To When I’m Sick” theme.

    Brandon Lee gave us many things. He gave us “The Crow”, he gave us the wonderful soundtrack to that movie and he influenced teenaged Goths for almost a decade. I’m still waiting if Heath Ledger will do the same for the current generation of… Whatever it is that Teenagers call Goth today. I’ve seen a few Jokers running around clubs already, so there’s that. But, well, let’s wait and see.

    I’m going to delve into the Soundtrack to “The Crow”. It’s one of those compilation albums that just does everything right. The Cure, Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against the Machine, Pantera, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Nine Inch Nails, Violent Femmes, Rollins Band, For Love Not Lisa, Helmet, Machines of Loving Grave, Medicine, Jane Siberrry and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. – All on one single CD. All contributing songs that are dark and moody and fit well together, with varying degrees of power, speed and ‘darkness’.

    It’s one of the few movie Soundtracks that I can (and do!) listen to up-and-down repeatedly. And even still constantly, after sixteen years. It’s just that damn good!
    (I’m serious here, actually. Go, buy it now! – You can get it for 3,36€ for fuck’s sake! And it’s fully worth the 13,99€ new. Just click on the pic that follows.)

    Crow OST

    Anyway!
    Songs to listen to while sick.
    Yes.
    First of, something’s that akin to “musical comfort food” for me, is the opening riffing from RATM’s “Darkness”. From 00:00 to 00:30. It’s just so utterly chill and perfect. And it gets repeated and re-interpreted through the song. It’s just… Perfect. It’s almost jazz. Almost. It’s funky. And it’s dark, and cool. It’s something to drink Coffee or Whiskey to.

    But the one song that I simply can’t stop listening to, and which comforts me to no end when I’m feeling miserable?

    It’s the very first track. That wonderful re-write of Cure’s “Burn“.

    [expand title=”Lyrics”]don’t look, don’t look
    the shadows breathe
    whispering me away from you
    don’t wake at night to watch her sleep
    you know that you will always see
    this trembling, adored, tousled bird-mad girl

    every night i burn
    every night i call your name
    every night i burn
    every night i fall again

    don’t talk of love ’cause shadows blur
    murmuring me away from you
    don’t talk of worlds that never were
    the end is always ever true
    there’s nothing you can ever say
    nothing you can ever do

    still every night i burn
    every night i scream your name
    every night i burn
    every night the dream’s the same
    every night i burn
    waiting for my only friend
    every night i burn
    waiting for the world to end

    just paint your face and shadow smile
    slipping me away from you
    oh it doesn’t matter how you hide
    find you if we’re wanting to
    so slide back down and close your eyes
    sleep awhile – you must be tired

    when every night i burn
    every night i call your name
    every night i burn
    every night i fall again

    every night i burn
    scream the animal screams
    every night i burn
    dream the crow black dream

    dream the crow black dream

    Still every night I burn, every night I scream your name.
    Every night I burn, Every night the dream’s the same.

    Every night I burn, screaming the animal scream
    Every night I burn, dreaming the crow-black dream. yeah, yeah
    Dreaming the crow-black dream…[/expand]

    Combined with the video/movie, it’s what I want my World of Darkness chronicles to be: Personal, Intense, Dark, Gothic. And yet, packed with action, hope and the chance for lasting change.

    And this song oozes darkness, despair, intensity, hope, personal conflict, love and sheer Gothic Ambience.

    That’s why I love listening to it when I’m ill or feeling down. It gets my mind’s eye rolling. Makes me think about vast, darkly-mirrored cities and their inhabitants and all the weird and mysterious and wonderful adventures that happen to them there. It also makes me close my eyes and think of autumnal comforts. It’s one of the few songs I actually like to get into a blanket in a dark, cold room with an open window to listen to. To get it all right. To let the sounds of rain and wind and distant urban life complete the picture.

    And this soothes me.
    Calms me.
    Helps me get better.

    Also, this:

    “You know that you will always see
    This trembling, adored, tousled bird-mad girl”

    Special connotations for me and the early 2000’s.
    Special and dear.

    That also helps. :)