Words, words, words, art.

The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

If you drink the wine, turn to page 85!


I was born in 1979 which means “choose your own adventure” books were very available and a pretty big part of my youthful reading1. I totally used to cheat while reading them. I’d stick my finger in the choice page and look ahead to the other options, keeping track of what led where, and skim until I got to the good ending. Or I’d find the good ending, back track, and read that way. I hated the “bad” endings, I always felt like I’d lost or failed or something. And I really enjoyed those books! I’ve kicked around the idea of writing a CYOA web page with friends, which should be easy to do with HTML, you know? Just a bunch of links and pages etc. But I’m pretty lazy so nothing ever came of that (although I did do a few madlibs style things once upon a time).

So really, it should come as no surprise that I’m currently really really into Echo Bazaar, a turn-based browser RPG in which you advance through both “storylets” (various story lines that have different actions and outcomes) and cards (which, again, have different actions and outcomes). When you start the game, you’re a newcomer to a Victorian London of nightmares, one that has been snatched away from the surface world and now resides someplace close to Hell. You start out as a newcomer to this strange land and have to bust out of prison. Once free, you have to clothe yourself, find lodgings, and explore the new world you’re in. And there is a lot to explore.

I’m really in love with world building, and this game has it in spades. There’s different areas/neighborhoods of the city, different social classes, history and mythology, non-human denizens. Players can be driven mad by Lovecraftian nightmares, be so outre and scandalous they’re exiled, get so hurt they almost die and have to drag themselves back from the River Styx, and get arrested and land back in jail. The “wrong” choices aren’t really failures– they’re different avenues for adventure and exploration, different ways of seeing the creativity and rich storytelling that imbue the game.

If you play Echo Bazaar using twitter, please follow me– I’m brigidkeely on there. It’s fun!

  1. Ellen Kushner wrote CYOA books, several of which I read, so my love for her goes back decades apparently.

Faerie World Building: Cat Sidhe


The Cat Sìth (Scottish Gaelic: [k?aht? ??i?]) or Cat Sídhe (Irish: [kat?? ??i?]) is a fairy creature from Scottish mythology, said to resemble a large black cat with a white spot on its breast. Legend has it that the spectral cat haunts the Scottish Highlands. Some common folklore suggested that the Cat Sìth was not a fairy, but a transformed witch.

The myths surrounding this creature are more common in Scottish Folklore, but a few myths occur in Irish folklore as well.

From Wikipedia.

The Cat Sidhe, in Faerie, has two forms: a stocky, powerful, bipedal fur-covered form with large teeth, claws, and tail; and a large stocky mountain cat type form. Cat Sidhe are skilled trackers, hunters, and guards who live in the Winter Court. Like most Fey in the Winter Court, they are more reserved than the Summer Court. Unlike most Fey, the Cat Sidhe are not immortal. They have long life spans, but they still age and die. Further, Ice Trolls (which do not live in Faerie) prize their pelts and hunt and kill them when they can.

When Cat Sidhe cross Iron Side, they are consigned to either a fully human looking form (bipedal, no fur, no fangs, no claws, no tail) or fully cat. They tend to prefer the cat form, as the human form leaves them feeling naked and defenseless. The longer they spend Iron Side, the more likely they are to be stuck in that form. As a human shaped Cat Sidhe cannot cross back into Faerie, this poses a problem.

Cat Sidhe do not tend to take part in political intrigue. Although intelligent, they are not devious or overly secretive (any more than any other feline influenced race).

Cat Sidhe, with their limited life span, do experience pregnancy– which is rare among Faerie. Females have 1-3 litters in their life time, of 3-7 kits. Generally, more males than females are born and survive. Cat Sidhe are able to interbreed with other fertile Fey creatures and humans, although it’s unlikely. Their offspring generally take after the non Cat Sidhe parent, although this is not always true, and are usually sterile.