Ashlesan Warrior Sculpture, Painted

Ashlesan warrior, about to stomp you. Gills are visible between the halves of the shell and the eating orifice is visible under the raised foot.

Painting is nearly done! You can see a spot I missed completely on the right knee, and there are a couple of spots that still need work, but the body’s just about done. Next come the banners, which will brighten the monochrome substantially. More pics under the cut!

Continue reading “Ashlesan Warrior Sculpture, Painted”

Ashlesan Warrior sculpture

I’ve been working on this guy quite a bit. Materials have been about $25. No special tools, but I made some sculpting tools out of music wire and dowels. More pics below the cut!

Continue reading “Ashlesan Warrior sculpture”


Carrie(note that this and subsequent pictures can be clicked to see a lovely embiggening process.)

Choose Your Adventure! [Oo! Let’s Make a Game!]


51:04 long & 49 MB big

In this episode, Robert Bohl (designer of Misspent Youth) and Joshua A. C. Newman (designer of shock: social science fiction) discuss major changes to the game, spend a lot of time with feedback, and discuss how Jewish someone has to be in England.

We took some during-the-show notes. If you have Google Wave you might be able to take a look at the Wave we created while recording. For those of you without, you can check out the Google Docs transcription

– The Weird Jews Livejournal group that Joshua joined
– The Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution
– The Alas, A Blog entry about the New York Times piece on England and Jewishness
– Kat & Michael Miller’s Serial Homicide Unit
– The Starship Troopers and Robocop films
– Feedback from Doc Holaday, Luke Crane (sorta), Vincent Baker, Jj
– cat and man!
– We know who the game will always be about now!
Larry Ellison
Rutgers and Yale Universities
Blackwater Worldwide
On Mighty Thews, by Simon Carryer
Frank Frazetta
– The Draconis Montreal convention

You can subscribe to the show by plugging the RSS feed URL into your preferred podcatcher. You can also use the one-click iTunes button thingie:

The intro music is “Gotta Whizz” by Boris the Sprinkler, from the album Mega Anal. The outgoing music is “Taffy Lewis’ Night Club” by Vangelis.

The Polar Piglets of the Boreal Geyland of Ashlesa

Several views of Polar Piglets
Several views of Polar Piglets

In the northernmost geyland of Ashlesa live the Polar Piglets. The 35 cm long, waddling creatures are highly social in nature, spending as much time as possible in close proximity to several other individuals.

They mineral-rich water flowing up from below forms large, bulging rocks wherever vents open to the surface. These rocks are filled with microfauna — there being no true “plants” on Ashlesa — that eat the inside of the rocks, expanding colonially and through the underground streams and rivers. They’re the primary food of the polar piglets, who look for the rare tiny holes in the rocks where the microfauna dig too far. When they see such a hole, they waddle up to it and insert their 20 cm prehensile radula, rasping the microfauna off the interior walls of the hollow rock.

Once the piglet has been satisfied, it stops completely digesting its food, forming it into little balls in a crop and mixing it with packets of its own genetic material.

When a piglet sees another up against a rock, it will amble up and attach itself by its soft mouth to the cloaca of the grazing individual. It will stimulate the grazing individual with its radula, receiving the balls of semi-digested food and genetic material. Chains are made this way as much as four individuals long, each receiving the passed-up food and genetic material of all the individuals ahead of it. Past four, there is little nutrition and the genes are too jumbled to be much use. The last in line lays eggs of all the combinations of genetic material, with each individual’s material being combined with the material of each and every of those behind it in all possible ways.

Consumptive and procreative purposes aside, the piglets spend much of their time so attached. They travel around in chains of two or three, and when groups meet another, they’ll often form rings and knots in an ecstatic, wiggling, chirping pile.

Do you have questions for the researchers on Ashlesa? Please ask them in the comments below.

Please keep comments polite and scientific. HAB members, this means you.

(please see the thread on the previous Ashlesa post for questions and answers there.)

Life Drawing

A raccoon skull, found behind the house last Autumn
A raccoon skull, found behind the house last Autumn

Comcast has now switched to all-digital channels. We do not wish to pay for it. That means I get to draw and do other stuff that’s way more fun than watching the stupid TV.

Above is a life drawing of a raccoon skull. I’m not wholly happy with it and expect to do more drawings of it.

A beaver skull from the LIFE book <ul>The Mammals</ul>
A beaver skull from the LIFE Nature Library book, The Mammals

This one’s copied from a photo in a book. Check out the size of this thing’s jaw. Holy crap. No wonder they can chew down trees.

Note the different way the eyes are supported. The raccoon’s are supported by the cheekbone with no superorbital ridge, while the beaver’s are supported by a huge superorbital ridge and its massive jaw.

An introduction to Ashlesa

An Octoform ignores a Human photographer

When humans first orbited Ashlesa 5.2 (the second moon in orbit around the fifth “planet” — itself a brown dwarf — orbiting the star Ashlesa) , they were struck by its geology. A single vast plain, desert-like, with the occasional oasis dotting the landscape, broken only by chains of geysers, some thousands of miles across. Subterranean rivers ran under the hard crust, emerging only rarely. Life flourished both outside and in the geyser chains, but they seemed completely distinct. Not only was life in one of the “geylands” (as the explorers called them) different from that outside, it was distinct from every other geyland. They were each an entire closed ecosystem, biochemically (and in one case, physically) separated from the rest of the planet.

A team landing near the equator were met by titanic, 8-limbed, starfish-like creatures, slowly walking in a widely separated herd. Each “foot” was an obviously sensitive organ, feeling along, apparently sniffing and grazing on the thin scum that covers much of the broad plain. Its limbs were dotted with small, black, featureless eyes, largely facing up. The creatures, “Octoforms” as the explorers called them, completely ignored the human explorers.

A flying pentaform harpoons a running triform.
A dirigible pentaform harpoons a running triform.

Landing near the Boreal geyland, the explorers discovered 40 cm wide,  three-limbed creatures they called “triforms” happily grazing on some sort of biochemical sludge at the edges of the glacier. While observing them, the explorers were startled when a harpoon shot from the sky and speared one, followed by a crack like a gunshot. Floating silently in the air above the triforms, its shadow cast to the north of its prey, hovered a balloon. Five arms reached out and hugged the envelope. A small cloud of steam drifted away on the wind. The remains of the triform’s small herd had galloped away, turning like wheels, scattering like birds. The speared one struggled for mere seconds before it went completely slack.

The harpoon remained embedded in the creature and the ice below it for several minutes while the surveyors noticed that they prey was becoming a dry husk. After a half hour, there was so little of the creature that, when the zoölogists approached later, there was nothing but a dry skin on the ground.

The balloon had retracted its harpoon and was drifting away slowly, directing its flight subtly with small barks of fire from the appendage from which it had fired its harpoon. It drifted up and away until its form was no longer distinct. “It’s like lightning that wants to hit you,” said one awed researcher.

A triform, dissected.
A triform, dissected.

A boreal triform was discovered, partially eaten by some other animal. The team lost no time in dissecting the fresh specimen. It is completely symmetrical, each limb being a complete copy of the others. It is covered in a thick skin that responds to electrical pulses, itself a fine muscle. Underneath the skin are many thick bands of heavier muscle tissue, supported by a fibrous, almost plastic quill running the length of each limb. This particular species has soft, fine “fingers” along each limb, each with a small orifice.

At the base of each limb are what appear to be several clusters of nerve-like fibers. Experiments with living triforms — and indeed, every other planar form of life on Ashlesa — shows that the distal nerve clusters control reflexes and autonomic activity of the limb. The most proximal body, on the other hand, seems to be involved in communication with the other limbs. With their simple eyes, this is the only way the creatures can assemble complex vision. As it is the largest nervous body, this is apparently a challenging task.

Coming up:

Polar Piglets. Warriors of the Southern Heart. The closest thing to a “plant” on Ashlesa.

If you have questions about life on Ashlesa, please ask in the comments and I’ll pass them on to researchers in the appropriate field.

[Oo! Let’s Make a Game!] Episode 8: Building People!


54:46 long & 50.2 MB big

In this episode, Robert Bohl (designer of Misspent Youth) and Joshua A. C. Newman (designer of shock: social science fiction) finish developing the character-based situation for the game they’re designing — before your very ears! — then move on to discussing some ways that characters can be pushed to change away from baseline humanity

Rob’s during-the-show notes, the document containing the complete write-up of the relationship map, and Joshua’s ideas on the cloudkill technology.

– Rob does a staged reading of the lyrics to “Prevenge” by They Might Be Giants
– We reflect on how much podcasting is like The King of Comedy
– Obligatory references to Vincent Baker, Radio Lab, and Paul Beakley (we also talk about Ben Lehman)
– The film Jarhead
The Wire, Generation Kill, and Battlestar Galactica
John Dillinger
Toxoplasmosis, Brilliant Gameologists podcast, and Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
Hampshire College, the college Joshua graduated from
Crank, which has a sub-standard sequel
Mortal Coil
My Life with Master
A Scanner Darkly
– There are mysterious goings-on on the Facebook page for shock:

You can subscribe to the show by plugging the RSS feed URL into your preferred podcatcher. You can also use the one-click iTunes button thingie:

The intro music is “Gotta Whizz” by Boris the Sprinkler, from the album Mega Anal. The outgoing music is “Prevenge” by They Might Be Giants from the album The Spine.

Flat One-er With No Bobble

One dot square

If you play with Lego, I bet you do this, too! It’s one of the things I mourn, actually: Peeron and Bricklink are scaring away all the internal descriptions of pieces.

Oo! Let’s Make a Game! Episode 7: Life During Wartime


58:34 long & 56.2 MB big

In this episode, Robert Bohl (designer of Misspent Youth) and Joshua A. C. Newman (designer of shock: social science fiction) try out a new way of designing and recording. The show will be going biweekly and Joshua & Rob are going to start doing some design before recording, then discuss it. A great deal of headway is made making up the starting characters and mapping out some of their relationships.

Joshua & Rob’s pre-show work and formal/structured notes written during the episode.

– Joshua & Rob discuss fucking robots and the uncanny valley
– Jenn from Trapcast is happy to “see” us back
– The setup of the protagonists in a pentagram
– Each iteration of the game will have one of the five characters as protagonist
– Matt Wilson’s Primetime Adventures has rules for saying who’s the protagonist on a per-episode basis, and shock: does it on a per-scene basis; Rob presumes that The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Role-playing Game has something to handle a main protagonist with back-ups
– Seth Ben Ezra’s Dirty Secrets also has one main protagonist
Vincent Baker‘s game Synthia
– Emily Care Boss has a game in playtest that adapts Eero Tuovinen’s Zombie Cinema (there’s a Story Games thread post that discusses it very briefly
– Stealing the qualitative fictional rule-setting from Brennan Taylor’s Mortal Coil
– Joshua is reading Not of Woman Born on recommendation from Meguey Baker of Night Sky Games
– Joshua and Rob argue over whether police are just another gang
– A discussion including the film L.A. Confidential and the TV show The Wire
– I spoil the 1991 remake of Cape Fear to make a point

You can subscribe to the show by plugging the RSS feed URL into your preferred podcatcher. You can also use the one-click iTunes button thingie:

The intro music is “Gotta Whizz” by Boris the Sprinkler, from the album Mega Anal. The outgoing music is “Life During Wartime” by The Talking Heads.

Incidentally, you can find more information about the header image for the blog post at this article about ethnic cosmetic surgery.