Game Chef is upon us.
We’re doing this in pictures this year, which is keen. The theme:
A person in an arrow that goes up and down. The arrow is interesting enough, as it can be a lot of things… physical movement, as in an elevator, metaphorical movement as in hierarchies, some combination of the two. It might not even be movement, simply an awareness or focus on verticality, or feeling somehow in the middle. The figure within it is, in my mind, ominous; the square, white eyes call to mind the blank glasses of an anime villain, lurking in the shadows but for the glare. The shape also sells me on the idea of glasses, rather than eyes… that said, the closest thing to a defined feature on this fellow is his/her/its eyes, which could be something to focus on. Sight, looking, seeing, searching… visual metaphors in general.
What I most get from this is a certain sort of person… I can see a scientist or academic here, with the glasses suggesting (fairly or not) intelligence and interest but distance and dispassion as well. He’s looking at me, but not because he likes to see me, just because he wants to know what happens next. Factoring in the double-sided arrow emphasizes the “distance” element… he doesn’t necessarily consider himself to be above humanity, but he DOES consider himself to be somehow apart from it. Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen would be a good example… interested, distant and, yes, forboding.
That’s a rich bit of theme to mine. The elements to include:
A… snowflake in someone’s head. Huh. So, this is the strangest of the four elements, and the one I’m most likely to ignore at first blush, but I’m still going to think about what it can contribute. Offhand, the face has a certain skull-like smile to it… it’s an omen of death, one which has been touched by frost. Or at least, a mental conception thereof. The snowflake is a bit of a paradox, like winter itself… both ordered, still, predictable (winter is a time of stasis and all snowflakes take a recognizable form) while chaotic, changing, and unknowable (winter is a massive change, snowflakes are fractal and unique). It could represent a more generalized “Death stemming from knowledge” for which the snowflake is just an example… but that’s a bit lame to me.
A bug bursting from an apple. Easy mode: the game features an insect. Alternate thoughts include corruption and decay, the presence of something alien (that doesn’t look like an earth worm to me), and impossible physics (that worm is way bigger than its apple). ALL of those send my internal Lovecraft sensor buzzing. Cosmic horror meshes very well with my interpretation of the theme… it suggests that the observers are alien, posing as human while being distant both in their outlook and their actual, factual nature. Of course, mundane corruption also flies high in scientific and academic arenas.
It also makes me realize that at this point I could pretty much reverse-engineer The Shab-al-Hiri Roach… academics and hiererchies, knowledge and things in your head, corruption and insects. Huh.
A shirt (robe? blouse? jerkin?) decorated with random diamonds. It can be considered to be mail or some other armor if you so desire, or with the diamonds indicating the shine of a cloth-of-gold or actual jewel-encrusted outfit of great value, or something else entirely. Motley, such as a fool should wear. Diamonds also bring to mind the suit in cards (and indeed, one could call this a part of a suit of diamonds). The garment is not modern, and makes me think wizard first and jester second, though one could make an argument for cultist, taking us back into Lovecraftian territory. Whomever wears this outfit is somehow marked as Other, distanced from those wearing normal clothes. More tangentially, it can indicate the pursuit of riches, or an identity which is somehow dependent on one’s outfit.
Finally, a figure barely illuminated by a lantern. Ah, stealth. Well, other options… shining a light to ward off the darkness, the lantern of truth, a lantern indicating discovery, all of these meshing really quite well with scientists in general. But I’m seeing stealth here, or at least a sharp distinction between what is seen and what must not be seen. The nature of the illustrations means there is no shadow… there is LIGHT and there is DARK and there is no room to maneuver in between them, and that tickles the amoral scientist center of my brain.
Initial conclusions: amoral scientists is golden and worth sticking to. Cosmic horror I’m a bit iffier on at the moment… but I do like the idea of corruption, secrets, and death, which all combines to suggest that if the players are indeed portraying folk of science, then they are conspiring to kill one of their own.
No, they’re conspiring to experiment upon one of their own. One of them is a madman, one of them is a victim, and the players might not know who is who at first… as time goes on, one player will grow madder than the rest as he/she/it gazes too far into the abyss, until it’s time to pull a Re-Animator and invest in a human test subject.
OH. Oh, I have a half an idea. Scenes played out in brief hands of cards, with the winner growing steadily madder… perhaps it’s a trick-taking game like hearts, each trick is a scene. When all hands have been taken, the tricks become narrative tokens, giving the maddest player the most power over the remaining scenes.
I think there’s a start here.