Monthly Archives: September 2016

Cooking in Crux, or weirdness in worldbuilding.

While brainstorming or worldbuilding, the process tends to involve taking ideas and themes and then expanding on them to slowly build a clear picture of the scene. In this case the scene may well be the size of a small country, but the touchstones that paint the clearest picture tend to be the little details. These will vary on a case-by-case basis, but are often a fairly inconsequential thing, such as fictional, factual and legal documents being printed on different colours of paper, or a type of street food served in a region based on local produce.

An example of the latter came into being when Matt and I were writing a brief overview for the Cities Of The Riverlands – so we assumed one of the nearest food sources would be fish. Of course, being Welsh, the idea of adding laverbread into the mix was inevitable, and the idea of making it into a pie, or pastie followed in no short order.

Eventually this recipe started forming in my mind, which we called the Blacksea Butty (probably because of some seaweed in the flour, or something) and I started entertaining the thought of actually making an approximation.

Here follows the account of Cooking In Crux – The Blacksea Butty (alpha test, with the notes I made at the time)

blackseabutties-1

The finished product (alpha test)

Ingredients, quantities kept deliberately vague (what do you think this is, baking? Wait, some of it kind of is):

2 cloves garlic
1 red onion (for colour if anything else)
[2 fillets river cobbler
2 fillets haddock]*
2 slack handfuls of prawns
salt and pepper
1 packet of ready-made pastry, either puff or shortcrust, for preference.(see below)
Flour
Milk
Butter or appropriate approximation
Cheese(red leicester and mature cheddar)
2 eggs

Prep:

Marinade the cobbler and haddock, diced. in the juice of two lemons, along with some salt and pepper for about 2-3 hours.

Grate the cheese. Make your country grate again!

The Rest

To two dabs of butter, melting in a pan, add a dollop of flour, this is your roux, from which the sauce will be put together.

So…

add the milk, (3/4 of a pint, I’d guess) and put on a low-medium heat until the sauce starts to thicken. Drop the cheese in (handful of extra-mature cheddar and red leicester here), and stir til dissolved. Add salt and pepper if you’re a shameless autocondimentator.

Attempt to cut up about 5 sheets of nori (the seaweed used for sushi rolls), fail and realise that they can be scrunched up and then crumbled. Add this to the pot and stir.

Whack onto simmer for a little bit.

Facepalm drastically.

Realise you should have used shortcrust pastry as filo is really faffy. Put together a pastie/turnover affair using four or five sheets of filo, then sealed up with another topsheet of filo, to hold it all together. Brush with egg.

Grease up a baking tray or dish, add the nascent butties. Whack it in the oven and pray.

About 30-35mins in the oven, thereabouts until it starts to brown on the top, take out and leave to stand for about 10-15 minutes. Take out, cook some veggies and attempt to compose a suitable presentation picture.

Consume your creation. Succumbing to food poisoning at this point is considered bad form and a sign that you have done something wrong.

Thankfully, dear reader, they turned out pretty well for an idea assembled purely from the recesses of my mind, and I will probably be making these again, with a much better idea for how to go about it.

Until then, happy eating, and hard love,

Tom Cole.

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Run! It’s Godzilla!

(except, due to international copyright law, it isn’t – but let’s run like it is Godzilla.)

Something we noticed when brainstorming Crux is that occasionally, really, really big creatures came into the equation. Traditionally, in RPGs, this means a creature with a load of hitpoints, or equivalent, attacks that use more damage dice than a  session of Shadowrun, and armour that puts a battleship to shame.

shadow_o_t_colossus__foe_by_teabeforewar

This is all well and good, but what you have is just a normal monster scaled up to titanic proportion. It doesn’t actually offer anything different, or a significant challenge beyond ‘hit it until it dies’, and, as I found with D&D from 3rd Edition onwards- as did a great many of you, I would imagine – this isn’t always as exciting as it should be. These are supposed to be massive, world-shaking things, not just a statblock to be approach the same way as any other.

So, what are we doing to change this? We decided to turn to computer games for a couple of ideas (in some cases as research, in others, just for an excuse to slack off a bit). In some of the medium’s more cinematic offerings, the Big Bad Boss Monster isn’t just an enemy, it forms part of the environment, or uses the environment as a weapon – In Shadow Of The Colossus, they are both the environment and adversary in one, and this was certainly something we wanted to play with.

Another thing we noticed was something of a trope with boss fights was the battle being broken down into stages, such as getting the monster’s attention, evading its clumsy/heavily telegraphed swings, exposing a vulnerability and striking at its weak point for MASSIVE DAMAGE! Then lather, rinse and repeat. Each of these stages ought to present different challenges, and allow for a variety of solutions.

Modelling the boss monster, or leviathan (as a catch-all term) as an active and hostile environment, with the weak points as your goals allowed us to string together a bunch of spectacular set-pieces together as part of some truly large-scale conflict, which requires Big Damn Heroes, as well as their allies, to overcome.

Needless to say, coming up with the range of attacks that leviathan-scale creatures could come up with, and how to model them in-game was a load of fun, as was thinking of awesome countermeasures that players could use to lay these beasts to rest.

Of course the use of harpoons and tow-cables is an option. It’d be rude not to include it.

It’s worth noting that this won’t be the catch-all rule for all large creatures, just the truly titanic ones in very big, special, stompy cases. Advance apologies to arachnophobes, as well, as this could very well involve giant steampunk robot spiders, just in a slightly better adventure than the Wild Wild West film.

giant-mechanical-spoodwin.

In our next post, we’ll start previewing some of the areas of Crux, to give you a taster of what they involve, and the influences we had when coming up with them.

Until then, hard love.

Tom Cole