Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tayxis: Pig

You're no coffee-swillin' donut muncher.  You're out there on the streets keeping the scum in check.  People may not like you, but you don't need them to - they just need to respect the fucking badge.  Sure, sometimes you gotta cross a line, but you get shit done - your beat has one of the lowest murder rates in the city, and most of those murders you committed yourself, so the idiots that bitch about your tactics can eat it.  And so what if you take a little extra on the side, here and there?  It's not like the City pays you what you deserve, right?

So shut the fuck up, put your hands on the wall and spread 'em.

Class: Pig
Ability Requirements: Str 12
Alignment Requirement: Any non-Good 
Prime Requisite: Strength
Advances As: Fighter

The cops in Tayxis can be summed up in two words - big and mean.  The Tayxin government is of the rich, by the rich and for the rich, so why would its enforcers be anything less?

Encounters with the Pigs range from casually cruel to downright deadly.  They know there ain't a judge in the land that'll convict them of anything, so what's the point of holding back?  It all just depends on how bored they are when you meet them.  Most run protection scams, some actively contract out to various gangs and corporations.  From the perspective of the average citizen of Tayxis, there is very little difference between the Pigs and the Gangs - most would prefer to go each day without running into either.

Authority: Pigs can get away with anything, and I mean anything.  Other pigs will turn a blind eye, and even lie to protect anyone on their side of the fat blue line.

Guns'n'Gear: Pigs get their pick of weapons and equipment at 1st level - cost is not an issue.  Anything short of large-scale explosives is available.

Force of Personality: Once per day, you can force your will upon someone else and change their reaction status one step in your favor.  At 5th level, you can change their reaction status two steps in your favor.  At 10th level, you can do this twice per day.

L'etat c'est moi - Louis XIV
I Am the Law - Judge Dredd

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pourin' Out a Little Liquor

I just started gaming with a new face-to-face group about a month ago.  We're running through a Pathfinder campaign right now, and while it's not my favorite system, I do enjoy getting back into face to face gaming.

With that being said, it's always a bit awkward at the beginning, especially when you're joining an established group.  There's an entire world of shared memories and experiences and inside jokes that you haven't been a part of yet and while the longer you are a part of the group, the more of those become your own, at first it can be difficult.

Sorting through all of this on my way back from the game, I began to wax nostalgic about my old gaming groups, so I thought I'd put up a tribute to all my old groups.

My first group was, as I'm sure is common to most of us, a group of kids from school.  Most of us were in the same grade, except one guy that was a grade ahead of us.  Even though we didn't know what a grognard was at the time, we were still able to conceptualize the idea, because he had played white box with his uncle when he was younger and would always talk about how that system was better than this newjack 2e.  The rest of us only knew 2e, though, and we loved it.  We had our established GM who also played his Mary Sue sorta-NPC, the guy who always played a dwarf, another guy who always played sneaky thieves, you know the group.  You've PLAYED with that group.  Anyway, we'd get together a couple times a month at one of our houses and, fueled by soda, candy and potato chips, we'd game until the sun came up, then pass out and sleep until noon.  Eventually, we left 2e behind for other games - Gamma World, Warhammer, Twilight 2000, before settling on Old World of Darkness sometime during High School, and that was our jam until we graduated.  Folks went off to college, and that was the end of that group.

There was a long stretch where I didn't game at all.  Life was pretty hectic, and there just wasn't any time for it.  It wasn't until I was about 25 that I found myself back at my folks' house, digging through the detritus of my youth that I found my old Gamma World 1e box set.  Sitting on my old bed, flipping through it, I remembered spending how much fun roleplaying was.  I thought of the late nights, the laughter and the camaraderie.  I remembered sunny afternoons flipping through the 2e Player's Handbook while Pink Floyd sang about how "Far away across the field, the tolling of the iron bell draws the faithful to their knees in a softly spoken magic spells."

Just like that, I was hooked again.  I called around to my old group to see who was still in town, found a couple of them, and we agreed to start getting together weekly.  A few of the old gang brought some new faces along, and we decided to go with Gamma World, mostly I think because I was the only one who actually brought a game to the first get together.  From there on out, we'd meet in my apartment, which was in a not-so-great part of town that was right next to the bar district, and we'd leave the windows open to let the sounds of the city filter through as background noise.  We spent the better part of a year tripping the light post-apocalyptic before my job moved me to Texas and, for the second time, I had to say goodbye to my friends.

Shortly after I moved to Texas, I discovered the Pen and Paper Games forum, which has (or had, to be honest I haven't been there in awhile) a very lively section for DFW gamers.  Not knowing a blessed soul in the area, I figured this was as good a way to meet people as any, so I started looking for open games.  I met up with the group at a local Barnes & Noble for the first meeting, where we talked through 4e (which had just been released), and the GM explained his idea for the campaign.  The group was mostly older guys, I think I was the youngest one there, but there was good stuff in the mix there. The GM was invested in his campaign, the players were enthusiastic (well, except one Guy, but he was the gruff sort anyways) and we had a blast.  Unfortunately, as time went by, my job got pretty crazy, with 60-80 hour work weeks being the norm, and I just didn't have the time or energy to devote to a game, my future wife, and my sanity.  Something had to give, and it was the game.

The campaign obviously carried on without me, and the GM was nice enough, when it finally wrapped, to shoot me an email containing an afterword he'd written for my character, detailing how his life had progressed after I'd left.

I got word at some point that one of the guys that had been in the group had succumbed to a long illness he'd been battling as longs as we'd known him, and the GM and I saw each other at the wake and agreed to keep in touch.

When my workload eventually lightened, I decided to take another crack at a Gamma World game, and put an ad up on Pen and Paper.  I convinced two of my IRL friends who had never roleplayed to give it a shot, and together with a husband and wife team and their friend and another guy who looked just like the Dean from Community, we started a new campaign.  My apartment had zero parking and wasn't all that big, so after one attempt to run it at my place, we moved it to the husband and wife's house.  The group was great - we probably shot the shit more that we actually played, but we had a blast doing it.  While one of my IRL friends didn't stick with it very long, the other enjoyed the hell out of it, and we ran through 4e Gamma World for about a year.  Unfortunately, my work picked up again, and they lived a half hour away.  In normal times, it didn't bother me too much to play till midnight and then drive home, but after an 70 hour work week, I just didn't have it in me, and I had to bow out of that one.

There was another lull in gaming for awhile as I dug myself out of my workhole before the GM from the 4e campaign called me up and asked if I wanted to try out a game called Labyrinth Lord.  He was gaming with his son and another guy from the old campaign, and we sat around his kitchen table and rolled up new characters for an open world, sandbox style game.  Our first time out the gate, we rolled up a green dragon as a random encounter, people died, and it was fun.  We kept on going, slowly adding people as we went.  The son of the guy who had passed away joined up, and we moved the games to his house.  A friend of his played video games in the background, but was slowly drawn in by the laughter emanating from around the table.  We went from Labyrinth Lord to Stars Without Number, to Traveler.  I tried my hand at GMing again, running them through 2e, then World of Darkness.  At our height, we were getting together six to eight times a month.  This was probably the longest I put in with a group since my high school group, and I enjoyed the hell out if it.

Then it ended.

To be honest, I'm still not really sure why, and at this point, I guess it doesn't really matter.  One week we were gaming, and then next we weren't.  One of them said they were burnt out, and everyone just evaporated.  I was in the process of moving away from the area that we'd been congregating in, so to be honest, it would have been harder to keep getting there, but it was still weird, to have a group of people that you spend that much time with just not be there anymore.

At some point towards the end of the old group, I got into Constantcon style gaming, and got together with (in order of beardedness)  +Wayne Snyder+Edgar Johnson+Adam Muszkiewicz+Bear Wojtek and +Gabriel Perez Gallardi, we have explored deepest darkest Ur-Hadad, Survived Fort Simian, slew Mushroom Wizards and smoked their brains, etc etc.  You had to be there sort of stuff.  It's still ongoing, and it's been epic..  

Still, after the end of the old face to face group, I fell into a bit of a funk, and while I kept myself busy moving myself, my wife, our cats, a condo full of stuff (books), and two storage sheds full of more stuff (more books) into our house (a process which took way longer than it really should have), I didn't do much face to face gaming, or blogging about gaming for that matter.

Then I heard from the husband and wife gamers, who were looking to start up the Pathfinder game.  I am the New Guy in a group that has been playing together for the better part of thirty years, and once again I'm probably the youngest person there, so it can be a bit of a struggle at times, but we're busy creating new things together, so it'll get easier with time.  They've got a Runequest game that they play on alternate weekends that I think I'm going to jump on, and the wife keeps threatening to run a Call of Cthulhu game at some point.   Each game starts with a potluck dinner.  We eat well, shoot the shit for awhile, then kill some orcs for a bit.   It's a good group with good people, and it's good to be gaming face to face again.

So for all the groups that I've gamed with before, this one is for you.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Tayxis: The Creation Myth

In the beginning, there was nothing, and then there was something.

There was also Someone, who made that something outta nothing, and while He had a name He... well, it wasn't really a name, so much as a... y'know what?  Let's just keep it simple and call Him Gawd.

So because all of that something was created of Gawd, it existed only for Gawd, and while that was good enough for awhile, even Gawd can get bored with everyone telling him how great He is.  So He decided to create something that wasn't of Him.  Y'know, for shits and giggles.

As good as He was at creation, He had no idea how to create anything that wasn't Him, so He did the next best thing - He hacked a piece off of Himself.  You might be asking yourself, how does the Almighty cut himself?  Well, first he created a knife.  Then he made it real sharp.  Then he cut off a big steamin' hunk of Himself.

Never having experienced pain before, he didn't know that doing something like that hurts like a sumbitch, but he figured it out real quick.

The chunk of godflesh fell through creation, leaking the stuff of creation, until it hit the very bottom, where reality was still hot and new.  With a "clang", the Gawdknife fell right next to it.  Now, this bit of godflesh was confused.  It had just been a part of Gawd, and now it was alone.  Squinting what passed for its eyes in the harsh light of creation, he could just about see the outline of Gawd waaaaay up at the top of it all.  So this little orphaned bit of the Infinite started working its way back up there to figure out what Gawd wanted it to do.  Spying the discarded knife, the cast-off grabbed it, figuring Gawd would want it back.

So it came to be that Gawd (whose thoughts had turned to other matters and promptly forgotten all about its discarded bit of Self after His brush with self mutilation), was horrified when it saw this mangled bit of Himself crawling up through the layers of His creation, a Knife which could harm Him clutched in its grasp, and he came to know Horror as he recoiled before his Creation.

Fearing that this bit of Stuff intended to do him harm, Gawd did what anyone would do in such a situation - He panicked.  Throughout the All, entire worlds flooded, fire rained from the sky and firmaments cracked and heaved as Gawd threw up obstacle after obstacle to keep his Creation from reaching Him.

The newly sentient bit of Gawd, who for simplicity's sake, we'll call Saytin from here on out, was at first confused, then angry as his Creator destroyed entire realities, just to keep him away.  Finally, he lost his grip on Jacob's Ladder and he Fell.  At some point in the fall, the Godknife was lost.

As he tumbled, he reached out, grasping anything he could, and it was thus that what would come to be known as Demons were created, as he snatched beings from various realities, and they Fell along side Saytin.

Finally, they hit the bottom again, the fiery abyss from whence he had come, and it was there that he began to plot his revenge against his Maker.  Since Gawd was all about Creation, Saytin would be destruction.  Gawd wanted glorification, so Saytin would corrupt and turn them away from Him.

The battle was joined.

Over the millenia, the various layers of reality have been divided into two camps, with an ever-shrinking "Goldilocks Zone" of realities that are subject to the influence of both parties.  Gawd has placed a bounty on Saytin's head, but he and his agents seem to slip through the Angelic Bounty Hunters' fingers every time.  Battles are fought, plane by plane, world by world, until Saytin is either tossed out on his pointy ear, or he claims it for all eternity.

Waaaay down, at the very bottom of that No Man's Land between the two camps lies a patch of dry earth called Tayxis.  Gawd wants it, Saytin almost owns it.  Almost, but not quite.  If Gawd can get His hands on it, He's got a beachhead into the Lower Levels - a perfect launching pad to reclaim what is His, and end the rebellious bit of His flesh, once and for all.

Little do both parties know, the Godknife landed Deep in the Heart of Tayxis, the most powerful weapon in creation, and all it wants is to taste the Flesh of the Almighty again.  There are two sources of that flesh, though, and whose Flesh it tastes depends on who finds it first.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tayxis: Big Oil Man

Time was, you were just another corporate climber, working a dead-end job in middle management.  You wished as hard as you could that someone would recognize your greatness, and too bad for you, somebody did.

Ol' Scratch rolled in like a dust storm one day, swaggering past the cubicles until he stopped at yours and started chewin' the fat.  Next thing you knew, you were signing on the dotted line, and you were part of the In Crowd.

Now, a couple years down the road, you own a piece of the City, you're married with three kids and a huge house, and all you want is that dead-end job back.  You're pretty sure your wife is keeping an eye on you for Splitfoot, your kids are next in line for recruitment, and your 7500 square foot ranch home in the burbs feels like a prison.  You've decided batting for this team isn't all it's cracked up to be, so you're trying out the other side.  You figure, maybe working with the enemy will earn you a little redemption when Judgement comes a'callin'.

Class: Big Oil Man
Ability Requirements: CHA 16, INT 12
Alignment Requirement: Any Evil
Prime Requisite: Charisma
Advances As: Rogue

The Big Oil Man is a damned soul, first and foremost.  Though they hope that by fighting against Satan, they'll find their way back into God's good graces, it's a lost cause.  When they signed their soul away to the Devil, they lost the ability to do good works.  Even their struggle for redemption is based solely upon self interest - they're only doing so because they don't like how the deal they made has turned out.

Nevertheless, they can be useful.  A Big Oil Man can talk a snake out of its scales on a good day, and they've got resources that most can only dream of.  Just don't forget that there will always be a thorn in any rose they hand you.  They just can't help it.

Resources - Big Oil Men have got Dolars.  Lots and lots of Dolars.  Assume that, if it can be bought, they can afford it.  That doesn't mean that whatever they want is readily available, mind.  It may take some doing, but given enough time, they can get their hands on just about anything.

Snakecharmer - Once per day, a Big Oil Man can reroll a Charisma check.  Increases to twice a day at 5th level, and three times a day at 10th.

Call In a Chit - Once per week, a Big Oil man gets a +4 to any die roll.

"Like my daddy always said, if you can't get in the front door, just go around to the back."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

FtA: More on Bearings

Last week, I laid out the idea of Bearings, which I believe is the most unique aspect of From the Ashes.  I wanted to take some time and talk through some of the aspects of the notion that I think will encourage some unique roleplaying opportunities.

  • Engagement with the world - In From the Ashes, changing the world is literally a matter of life and death - the only ways to keep the reaper off your back are to either not use your mutations, or to change the world around you. 
  • Intraparty conflict based on opposing viewpoints - Let's face it - how often does your Chaotic character really debate the finer points of societal philosophy with the Lawful character?  In From the Ashes, each character is trying to change the world to bring it in alignment with their own worldview, but chances are that nobody will be at the same point, or they are, they won't be for long.  There's only one world, and each party member has their own worldview, and while their desires may align, any such alignment is only temporary.  This should cause debate amongst the party as to the best way to progress.
  • Shifting views based on changing needs - what happens when the world's position overshoot's your mark?  You've spent the last few sessions pushing the world towards order, when all of a sudden you look around and realize you've created an authoritarian nightmare.  All of a sudden, you need to push the world down the ladder, and you could find yourself fighting against the very system you helped to establish.
This is a system which has been built purely to scratch an itch that I feel when whenever I engage with fiction of any kind.  As much as I love zombie movies, I've yet to find the right one that balances the personal horror of the situation with the wider, "what's going on in the world?" aspect that I crave (World War Z came the closest, but that's a different story).  It's the same thing with roleplaying.  When I GM, I veer towards the triptych model, sending the PCs zooming from one exotic locale to the next, always pushing the "big picture".  When I play, it's what I crave.

So hopefully some other people out there are looking for an RPG to scratch that same itch, and this will be just the backscratcher they're looking for.


Friday, August 9, 2013

FtA: The World Is a Vampire... or an Angel

One of the original concepts for From the Ashes, and the one that I've struggled with most since I started down this path, has been how to create a system where the world reacts to the actions of the characters.  At the core of From the Ashes is the idea that the world is what you make of it.  As each game begins, the world is at its tipping point, and the actions of the characters will have a say in the manner in which it will develop.

But how to communicate that?

After wrestling with this for months, I've come up with a system that plots something like your alignment on a four quadrant graph.  Bearings, as they're known in From the Ashes, represent more than just an ambiguous moral code, they represent your ideas of how the world should work.  This is determined by a series of questions asked by your GM at the beginning of your character's first game.  Depending on your answers, your position on the graph moves up, down, left or right, until you find the place where you belong.

The X Axis represents Inspiration - from where do you draw your ideas?  It runs from Innovation on the left to Tradition on the right.  Someone heavily Traditional will look to the past when solving problems, seeking the wisdom of the ancients to help dig society out of the mess it's found itself in.  On the other hand, someone to the left will seek to come up with new ways of doing things and reject the old ways - after all, they were what got things where they are to begin with!

The Y axis represents Methodology - how will you implement your ideas?  It runs from Law above to Anarchy below.  Someone heavily into Law believes that only a robust (some might say authoritarian) system of government can properly check the natural, base impulses of its citizens.  If a character finds themselves at the bottom of the chart, they believe in promoting absolute freedom, where no-one tells anyone what to do, or how to live.

As the characters progress through the world, their Bearings may shift.  Not for everyday actions, but major decisions may shift a character's location on the plane.  Helping the sheriff capture some wanted murderers may not affect the Bearings of a moderate Anarchist, but helping a local lord to put down a peasant uprising would result in a shift of all but the staunchest Law-inclined.

How does this fit in with the development of the world?

Well, the world also has a character sheet, and a graph of its own.  This world (or area, or town, or whatever) starts out the game at 0,0 - tabula rasa.  The actions of the characters will shift the location of the world, but in a much more volatile manner.  While catching the murderers may not have a big impact on the moral code of the individual, on the societal level, it has a great impact, and will move the world towards Law.

Here's the thing, though - every character's mutations are slowly killing them, and it's because mutations are unnatural and their minds and bodies know it.  There is evidence that all the mutations spring from the mind, even if they are physical in nature, and the on some level, the character's mind and body realize that these things don't belong in a rational world.  They attempt to make sense of this contradiction by removing that which doesn't belong - themselves.  They push their bodies to the breaking point, and as the power of the mutations grow, so does the inner objection to their own existence in a sort of self fulfilling prophecy, until they reach a level at which it becomes unacceptable, and the mind shuts down the body - Level 9.

There is hope, though.  It's been found that by engaging with the world and focusing attention outward instead of inward, the progress of a mutant's mutations can be slowed.  By attempting to shape the world around it, the mutant is able to make the world make sense again.

In practical terms, each time a character reaches a certain point in its progression, there is a chance that they will level up.  This percentage is mitigated by the distance of its Bearings from the world's own Bearings.  The closer they are, the more in tune they are with the world as it exists, the less chance that they will find themselves inching closer to death.

I'm still working out the numbers and a less clumsy way to explain it, but that's the gist.

As long as I'm talking about it, this is really the last oddly-shaped piece of the puzzle to fall into place, and while there are a few more pieces to place, they are mostly large, and square (hit points, damage, that sort of thing).  Once this has been hammered into place, the system will be essentially complete, and ready for playtesting.

I really can't believe I just typed that.  It's been a long time coming, and hopefully some of you still have some enthusiasm for the finished product.  If you're interested in playtesting, drop me a line, and I'll shoot you out a draft once it's ready!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tayxis: Santa Muerte

Santa Muerte is a sacred figure and feminine skeletal folk saint venerated throughout Tayxis. Santa Muerte literally translates to "Saint Death" or "Holy Death". Tayxan culture has always maintained a certain reverence towards death, so it was only natural that Santa Muerte would make it it's home.

Elements of worship include the use of skeletons to remind people of their mortality. The worship is condemned by the Official Church of Tayxis (OCT) as heretical, but it is firmly entrenched among Tayxis' lower working classes and various elements of society deemed as "outcasts".

Santa Muerte generally appears as a female skeletal figure, clad in a long robe and holding one or more objects, usually a scythe and a globe. Her robe can be of any color, as more specific images of the figure vary widely from devotee to devotee and according to the rite being performed or the petition being made.  Shrines can be found all around Tayxis, with skeletons propped up, covered in the gifts her supplicants have left her.  She has been known to intercede in the lives of her worshippers, offering boons to the faithful, holding back death from loved ones, or striking down those who have offended them.  However, Santa Muerte will often demand outrageous gifts or acts of devotion simply to gain the privilege of asking favor, and she will either grant or deny requests, seemingly without rhyme or reason.

Santa Meurte is often invoked by Cartel Assassins, who will leave tokens at the sites of their killings.  There are a small sect within The Pigs that worship her, as well.  Big Oil Men have been known to strike bargains, when it was in their best interests to do so.  While there is some commonality between Santa Muerte and Santeria, the Santeria Priestesses consider cults that worship Santa Muerte exclusively to be somewhere between Tasteless, Blasphemous and Pointless.

Should the PCs encounter a shrine to Santa Muerte, they can make a request of her.  There is a base chance that the request will be granted, depending on the but the odds will increase by 10% each time the PC completes a task that Santa Muerte demands of the PCs, determined randomly by rolling on the chart below.

Run Your Last Race – Must flee in horror, never to return, as that which they most fear appears before them
Request Denied – Santa Muerte laughs mockingly and refuses to hear the request after all
Little Death – Must enter Santa Muerte’s realm, to be released only when her cold libido has been satisfied
A Life For a Life – Must take the life of someone they have never met
The End of the Rope – Must jump from the bell tower of the nearest cathedral
Feast of the Grave – Must swallow a pound of dirt from a freshly dug grave
Feast of the Flesh – Must taste of the flesh of a freshly dead corpse
Feast of the Spirit – Must inhale the final breath of a dying man (or woman)
Death’s Head – Must accept a small part of Santa Muerte into their mind that will constantly urge them to kill.
Death’s Bony Finger – Must strip the flesh from their pinky
Death’s Icy Grip – Must immerse themselves in ice water for an hour
A Celebration of Life – Must strip naked and run through the streets, proclaiming the glories of Santa Muerte
Cash In Your Chips – Must gamble away every cento, every dolar that they possess
Supplication - Must leave town, then crawl on hands and knees back to the statue and kiss the hem of Santa Muerte’s robe
Sprout Wings – Must collect and present the wings of 50 doves
Feed the Fishes – Must wrestle a giant catfish from the river prepare it according to traditional burial rites, and present the corpse
Answer God’ Calling – Must convert three children to Santa Muerte’s worship
Trying to Catch the Devil’s Herd – Must round up 50 head of wild cattle on an open plain and surround them in a ring of fire.
The Choir Invisible – Must sing a hymn of devotion to Santa Muerte
Donation - Must give 50 Dolars to the shrine

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Today is the Anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima

Today marks the 68th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, and while I enjoy playing games about the devastation that comes after this sort of thing, it is sobering to be reminded of what that actually means.

PANORAMA. Photographed by Shigeo Hayashi from a watchtower of the Hiroshima Prefectural Commerce Association, October 5, 1945. Location: Moto-machi. Distance from hypocenter: approx. 260m.

Read More About This Photo Here
Mr. Yamada took the above ground level photo from approximately a little over four miles northeast of Hiroshima a few minutes after detonation.

Read More About This Photo Here

The ruins of Hiroshima, as seen from the air, after the Japanese city was hit with an atomic bomb on August 6, 1945. The photo was taken a month later, in September 1945. Photo by Life/George Silk

Read More About This Photo Here
Photos and captions taken from War News Updates

Monday, August 5, 2013

Setting: Tayxis

I have a.... complicated relationship with the state I live in.  Understand, I was born in New York, and lived there for the first eighteen years of my life, before traveling the states for a living for seven.  Moving back to New York full time, I resolved that if there was one state I would love to live in, it would be Colorado, and if there was one state that I would be happy never to set foot in again, it would be Texas.

Of course, man makes plans/swears oaths and god laughs, so five years later, I found myself sitting in my boss' office, being told that my job now resided in Texas.

Now, I can't say I hate the place - I met my wife here, I've made good friends here, and there are lots of things to do and enjoy here that I wouldn't have access to living in the bowels of Upstate New York. Texas has been good to me, make no mistake.

But I can't say that I love it here, and while I live here, I don't know that I'll ever really feel at home.  Large portions of this state are the cultural equivalent of an irradiated wasteland; the type that glows at night and kills deer that drink from its streams.  I'm confused by the politics, frightened by the politicians, and befuddled when otherwise normal, rational people reveal that they stockpile weaponry like it's the 1770s.  Oh, and my office has a sign telling people not to bring their guns inside the building.  That sign exists, because if it weren't there, they could.  It's like a gun version of the Do Not Call List - if you don't opt out, you're in.

So basically, coming from New York, it's like I moved to another planet.

The fun thing about Texas is that you can talk to anyone from around the world, and regardless of what language they speak, they all know TEXAS.  Probably 70% know it from the show Dallas, and the other 30% from the sheer force of Texan will, which exports its culture in a forceful sort of cultural osmosis.  Texans love Texas, in a bizarre sort of way that I don't think I'll ever understand, and what's more, they love to talk about Texas.  As a result, you can walk into any bar around the world, say "Texas!" and somebody will yell back, "Big hats belt buckles and gun racks!"

As my wife, proud Texan that she is, would be quick to point out, it's not exactly fair.  Dallas, to a certain extent, and definitely Austin, are not stereotypically Texan cities.  I go days in Dallas without hearing a drawl ("y'all" excepted - that, at least, is universal), and for it's, for the most part, a thriving metropolis.

But, the presence of so many stereotypes, elevated to legendary status world wide, begs for stories to be told in their shadows.  Garth Ennis gets this - it's one of his "things" - the man loves him some Texas.  Preacher mythologized Texas to a degree I haven't seen elsewhere, and it was glorious.

So, to make a long story short, I've started writing up some things.  I'm calling the setting Tayxis, a gonzo version of Texas, turned up to 11.

In Tayxis, Big Oil Men own everything, and Luchadores wage a shadow war to free the oppressed.  Blonde
Bombshells cozy up to Gun Nuts for protection from the G-Men.  High Plains Drifters blow into town and square off against Cartel Assassins at high noon.  Preachers scream on street corners, warning that the Devil is buried out in Palo Duro Canyon, and he's stirrin' brother, he's a stirrin'!  Meanwhile, Antipostles vomit down the airwaves and screech from the pulpits of megachurches.  They rake in the cash, paving the way for their master to come again, and only Santeria priestesses bar their way.  Down on their luck, drunken Country Music Singers wander the highways and byways, gee-tar strapped to their back, putting the spirits of the dead to rest with a song.

There are Strip Malls, where you can buy any kind of flesh you could ever need, live or dead - cow, chicken, lamb or human.  There are trailer parks full of ninjas, and subdivisions full of the Walking Dead. Otherworldly chimera gather up tumbleweed into golems that terrorize the countryside, and only the shamen from the Rez can stop them.  And from deep beneath the Alamo, the Immortal 32 haved lived up to their name.  The streets of San Antone run red with blood, as they emerge each night to fight the Battle over and over again, cutting down any Mexican "invaders" they come across.

Don't worry, though, the Pigs are out in force, keeping things in check with their badge and a gun, but if they're the ones you're scared of, as Sons of Liberty have had enough of Big Government taking away their freedoms, and they're bringing the fight to the streets.

What is Tayxis?  Tayxis is six feet of crazy in a five foot glass.  It's a ten gallon hat on a midget.  It's God, Guns, and Guts.  It's the Wild West and the Deep South with a double bourbon chaser.  It's sharp dressed men and rough boys.  It's taxmen, texas floods and blue eyes cryin' in the rain.

Oh, and it's got the best darn Barbecue you'll ever eat.

Welcome to Tayxis.  Ya'll come back now, y'hear?