Thursday, February 9, 2012

The End

...and so, we arrive at the last page in this story! Ironic as it may be, it will also be the first personal post. And last, of course.

I've been thinking about this last post some time now, and even as I type this I find myself doing some heavy rewriting. I read somewhere on a social network that people don't like to read a lot of paragraphs, so I'll just do one long bullet-point list of miscellaneous things more or less related to this blog. I'll even cross-link within my own blog!

So, in no chronological order at all:

  • The first post was submitted on the 4th of january, 2010. Two days earlier, I had placed an order for the Swords & Wizardry Core book from Black Blade Publishing. The book arrived one month later, to both mine and Jon Hershberger's big surprise. But he was kind enough to throw in the first issue of Knockspell.
  • For a long time, I believed that the name Gygax was made-up.
  • My favourite character has to be Hamphred Dungbeetle, closely followed by Old Badsey. I'd love to spend my days in a bathtub outdoors.
  • My least favourite character, quite ironically, is Billobi himself. His personality is pretty flat and boring, and many times he felt like a lifeless pawn I had to move through a board of living stories.
  • I got a very nice review!
  • The most visited post is Dowsing rod (magic item), although the one with the most comments is Bag of Spending (magic item). None of them is my favourite, although I think the Bag of Spending is funnier.
  • The two posts titled The almost secret tower of Leasspell is probably the ones I regret writing the most. It all started with a very ugly map made by yours truly, that I scanned and wrote a story about. Leasspell is old English, meaning "lie, fiction, fable". So, the original thought was that old Badsey was just making up the whole story, but somehow I managed to get lost in my own terrible writing.
  • The first RPG I ever saw was (I believe) the Swedish game Mutant. I think I was around 10-12 years old, and I didn't understand a thing. But the pictures were nice.
  • Grammar Magic started as rough idea on a piece of paper on a train ride to Skåne:

    I don't think I changed it all that much, actually.
  • In my Rustfoot-folder on my hard drive, there's a sub-folder called "A festive occasion". It contains a Word-document, that holds a title and a license, but nothing more. I wish I could remember what I meant to do with it!
  • I originally planned to have the people living up at the Talltops talk Swedish ("...Billobi thought he heard the guide mention his name once, but he wasn't sure because of his archaic dialect...").

So, there you have it. If you have any questions about Rustfoot - the world, its people, or plots you never understood - write it in the comment section below and I'll try to answer. Or maybe you're just glad it's all over? Either way, I'd love to hear from you.

Ha det bra!
/ Jensan

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Badgerbrough Inquisitive, issue 46:9

Get your copy of the Badgerbrough Inquisitive, issue 46:9 here! (on Google Docs).

Two pages! That's twice as much as usual!

It's licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Grinding, part 4 of 4

Nothing travels as fast as bad news, unless you're a powerful force of nature that grinds everything into a powder. As the grinding swept across the country, local authorities tried to outrun it with their fastest steeds and couriers, in a vain attempt to send for help. But you can't win over something that's not even participating in the contest. The grinding wasn't competing - it was merely doing its job.

The former mayor of Ketch-in-Loch would've been pleased as the grinding claimed the old tree in the town centre. Unfortunately, it claimed everyone else as well.

The Sole was the first of the three Ogreprovinces to vanish, with Ogrebelly soon to follow. In the middle of the deep, dark forest, an old man locked out from his brick house by his fat cat had a short epiphany before turning into black powder. A feeling of déjà vu, if he only could've felt it longer.
Up in the Talltops, the great mountains accepted their fate. They needn't walk any more.

The grinding didn't really swoop across the land, but rather devoured it in a straight line. Not that it mattered for the old man with his cursed cart, coming down the gravel road between here and there. For a split second, he had two free hands. Unfortunately, the next he had none.

The town of Woostershire disappeared as well, linen and all.

Before entering the town of Horsehead, it pulverising every last one of the haunted tombs outside. Although devastating, most people in the old settlement never noticed the grinding taking place. Thomas Althorp was just about to cross-pollinate a bunch of spellbooks when every single building block in his body fell to the black ground.

Billobi was no more special than anyone else. He just happened to look outside his window at the exact right moment, to see his old street turn into a black powder, moving toward his house at an alarming speed. His daughter's face crossed his mind, and then nothing more.

hen nothing changes, time's passing is wasted.

A figure materialised in the void, taking the shape of a human being that had walked the earth a bit too long. It was an approximation, he knew that. Not his shape - he was all too familiar with it by now to get it wrong - but the exact location. If he had done his calculations right, he should be in Badgerbrough. More or less.

Only one way to find out, he thought to himself and raised his scarred arms.

The black powder on the ground in front of him lumped together and formed a table in a couple of seconds.

Not too specific, I'm afraid.

He raised his hands again, and vocalised line after line of grammar magic. More and more dust formed into recognisable things, retaking their previous shapes. Tables, books, walls, floor, people...

As Billobi reformed, his body's entities regained their most recent memory and put him in fear of losing his daughter. He quickly opened his eyes, only to meet professor Hagberg's amused gaze.

"Hello, Mr. Rustfoot", he said politely. "Headache?"

Billobi shook his head. Confused and scared, he looked around to see if Anabel was safe, but met a view that scared him even more so. It was as if the world around him was only partially built, some thing more completed than others. Looking out the window, a world of black dust met his eyes.

"No need to panic, Mr. Rustfoot", professor Hagberg said and formed a chair for Billobi to sit on. "Take a seat and I'll try to explain. I wouldn't worry too much about all this" - he said and waved his hand around - "I will mend it as soon as possible. And I'm not only talking about your little house here in Badgerbrough."

"Is it all gone? Everything?"

"As a matter of fact, the answer is both yes and no. Yes, it is gone in the sense that your mind can't see it, but it is still there. Every single turnip, quarrel and smell still exists. It lives on in the dust."

He grabbed a handful of the black powder from the floor, and poured it over his empty hand.

"Fascinating, actually. Go on, swallow some. I ate some back in Skiff-in-Loch, it doesn't taste anything, and I promise you won't remove anything from the world. I hope. It would be such a waste if old lady Darnton suddenly had disappeared..."

"Did you do this?" Billobi asked with a hoarse voice, as if the shock had a firm grip around his throat.

"Again, both yes and no. The grinding is part of the natural order of events, and will happen whether you want to or not. It would be foolish to stop it. Granted, this time it happened a bit too early, and I'm partially responsible for that, if not fully."

"The girl said you tricked her."

"The girl? Oh, I see, you mean that thing in Skiff-in-Loch. Yes, I took my research a bit too far. I knew there had to be some way to preserve things through grammar magic - or any magic, for that matter, it's all just about formalisation really. Why did the grammar square lack any means to sustain things? Oh, don't give me that look, you do remember the grammar square, don't you?"

Billobi shook his head.

"Move, Create, Fixate, Destroy, and Change? Oh well. Any way, I thought I had it settled with fixation, but how do you fixate a constant change? And that's where the paradox rose, Mr. Rustfoot. You can't fixate someone's life to make them immortal - every organ in their body will freeze and you'll end up hanging from a tree when the mob finds you. No, what you want is to change yourself to your previous self - a change, followed by a change, followed by a... The constant change."

"Is that what...started the grinding?"

"Well, you could say that. Or you could say that I managed to cut down the time for the next grinding with a couple of thousands years. The girl - as you call it - calls me a trickster, and maybe that's right. Maybe I did cheat a bit. But on the other hand" - he said and raised his hands to reform a crumpled copy of the Inquisitive on the table - "I know how to turn things back to normal again."

"She called you 'the Grammarian'."

"Did it now? 'The Grammarian'! Ha!"

Professor Hagberg leaned against the table, and sighed. His eyes aged as he gazed outside.

"I guess I should have stayed a theoretical mathmagician."

He sat there silent for a moment, playing mindlessly with the monocle in his hand. Billobi couldn't stop looking at him. It was the only calm spot in this new world he knew of. He didn't dare look in any other direction of fear of losing his mind. Again.

"Now then, Mr. Rustfoot", professor Hagberg said and stood up. He put in his monocle and adjusted his clothes. "I must press on. I have a world to restore. Fear not, before you know it you'll hold your daughter again. And after all this", he said with a sigh, "I guess I have some borrowed dust to return."

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Grinding, part 3

Professor Hagberg stood by the shore and watched the world in front of him turn to dust. Trees, plants, rocks and even animals dissolved into a black, coarse powder as an invisible hand combed the horizon. Not even the water stood a chance.

A normalised world, he thought.

He pulled up his left sleeve and inspected the scar tissue on his pale arm. Crude cuts that while healed now still formed a paradox in the symbolic language of grammar magic. He ran his fingers over the markings; like visible veins empty on blood, or hollow sculptures that lost their meaning.

The grinding crept closer, and left a silent landscape of black powder behind. The grass in front of him transformed as the inevitable came closer. The grinding was all about its by-product; if it wasn't for the terrible fact that it turned you into a powder, you wouldn't ever notice it.

It swept past a rock (turning it into dust) and continued onto his foot.

Nothing happened. Not even a tickling feeling.

I must admit, he thought as the grinding went over him and turned everything but him to dust, I'm a bit disappointed. It could've least tickled.

As the grinding continued on behind him, he burrowed his feet into the ground. Like a shovel, he lifted a patch of black dust into the air and let the wind catch it.

Fascinating. Tiny particles. Little entities. Just like she said.

He gazed over the black landscape that once was both water and hills. Though dust, it had kept its elevation so the silhouette of the area remained.

Let's see if these little entities remember anything, he thought and raised his arms. As he vocalized the strange symbolic language behind grammar magic, the millions and millions of dust particles in front of him slowly regained their previous colours. They started to lump together into bigger and bigger shapes.

Fascinating, he thought as the landscape returned to its former shape. It worked. It even rebuilt that poor fisherman over there, eye-patch and all.

(To be continued.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Grinding, part 2

Billobi stood by his bedroom window, trying hard not to stare into his own reflection. It was in the middle of the night and thus dark outside. He could hear the slow breathing of Ana sleeping on the bed behind him. Their daughter - Anabel - slept in another room and dreamt about soft things. Or, he could only hope she did. Anything was better than the dreams he'd been having since he left Horsehead two days ago.

They all revolved around the same sequence: talking to Mr Hagberg (or whoever he was; a ghost with a monocle), the fear that grew as the ghost kept talking and the eager to flee to a place that didn't exist. The urge to run back to Badgerbrough, to leave Horsehead behind and pretend the talk never happened.

His breath painted foggy paws on the cold window. He took another deep breath, held it for a second and then released it upon the glass. Grey fog. As he prepared to repeat the procedure, a similar pattern appeared next to his.

That's strange, he thought, I'm not even...

A face materialised on the other side of window before he had a chance to complete his thought. His heart gasped for blood and he was forced to take a step back, for that face was all too familiar to him. It was the face of a little girl.

I'm dreaming! his brain cried. Ana will wake me up any second now!

No, you're not, the face spoke to him although no sound was to be heard. It's all very real, Billobi Rustfoot. Do you recall my face?

He nodded slowly, and added: Don't kill me.

No, not now, the face answered. The Grinding has begun. Too soon, we're afraid.

We? Billobi asked.

The face ignored him, and continued: It was the Trickster's fault. He came to me, pretending to have questions for his book. But it was all a scheme. I told him to never return, but yet he did. The Trickster. The Turner of Squares. The Fixator of Changes. When I was to grind him for his returning, he played out his plan and became permanent. Reverser of Dust. Taker of No Giving. A scale that tips too much on both sides. We call him many things since that day, but I guess you best know him as the Grammarian.

I...know no one of that name, Billobi whispered.

I see that your dull senses haven't left you, Mr. Rustfoot. The Grammarian is tainting the balance that is the dust of this world. It builds, only to grind. And it grinds, only to build. But he took too much. He's unnatural. He's living on borrowed dust. Because of this, things that would have been need to step back, or take from future beings' dust. The dust in his body doesn't belong to him. We realised this too soon, and now the Grinding has begun to reclaim the portion that was stolen. But he has shielded himself, and is thus protected. The Grinding can't reclaim him, but it won't stop until it has.

It sounds a bit it won't ever work, Billobi mumbled.

It won't, the face said grimly. When eternity ends, all that will exist is the Grammarian and the invisible force that is the Grinding, in a void that will never be rebuilt. You must stop this, Billobi Rustfoot.

At the sound of his name, a coldness struck his heart, and he shook his head as hard as he could. No, he whispered. No. No! Why me? I don't even know who this person is!

You do, the face answered. The Grammarian's mortal name is Carl August Hagberg. He needs to be destroyed before the Grinding reclaims us all and enters its infinite loop.

But... I can't... I don't even... I write! I can't possibly do what you ask of me, that's beyond my knowledge and sanity! You snapped your fingers and...took a piece of my fingernail. I snap my fingers and nothing happens. Why can't you do it? You're more powerful than I am!

Because the Grinding has already reclaimed my dust, the face said and disappeared.

(To be continued.)